This is a very short introduction to dancer tanking based on a positive party experience I just had. Feel free to share your own! Much like with ninja, if the public accepts it we might actually see dancer as a third standard tank.
Lately on Sylph there has been a major tank shortage that’s prevented a lot of otherwise good parties form get going. Apparently some people are getting a bit desperate because this afternoon I was asked if dancer could tank. I said I would try, he said all right, and so a few minutes later I was in the Quicksand Caves provoking anticans and beetles.
For those who don’t want to read the whole thing, this should encourage you:
• I tanked in a normal exp party on DNC/WAR at level 50 and 51 in the Quicksand Caves. There was no backup tank, just me.
• I didn’t buy a single piece of additional equipment to tank. I tanked fully in my normal dancer setup, minus my second weapon due to lack of dual wield.
• With few exceptions, I held hate very well.
• All mobs were VT or IT.
• At no time did my party contain a WHM or RDM dedicated healer.
• I never died once in about 2 hours of constant fighting.
• Everyone in the party, myself included, was amazed at the fact dancer tanking was actually working.
Paladin tanks by having large amounts of defense and the ability to cure themselves. Ninja tanks by evading attacks and holding hate mostly through damage. Dancer tanks by getting the absolute snot kicked out of them but staying alive by healing themselves and others in their party with the most effective frontline healing power in the game. They don’t mitigate nearly as much damage as a paladin through defense, nor evade nearly as many attacks as the ninja, but a dancer with enough TP can be pretty much impossible to take down.
Naturally, it’s totally unfair to expect you as a dancer to fully main heal yourself. Both Paladins and Ninjas require some party support and dancer is no different, especially as far as IT mobs are concerned. Keep in mind then when you’re tanking you’re not really a main healer since you’re using your abilities to keep hate, so it’s not as overkill to invite a WHM to your party as it may sound. Someone to watch out for status ailments and to augment your healing powers with their own makes dancer tanking a lot more stable.
It ain’t exactly pretty, and it feels like you’re riding the thin edge of a very sharp knife, but it gets the job done and it will probably impress your friends. If nothing else it saves you from needing to look for a tank.
Holding Hate and Staying Alive
Dancer tanks hold hate through their waltz moves. Curing and divine waltzes both build huge hate; bad if you’re just a healer in a party, but extremely effective if you’re actually trying to tank. As a dancer you should already have macros for quickly using these in combat; instead of healing the main tank, you’ll be healing yourself.
It can be terrifying throwing yourself in the line of fire as a tank. You’ll quickly learn why most melee jobs don’t tank as you rack up hundreds of points of damage quickly and drop into the orange after only a few hits. Don’t panic! You’re not some dark knight or a thief that needs to pray for someone to provoke off them; you’re one of the best healing jobs in the game! Trust the healing skills you’ve built as a dancer. Remember, waltzes are effectively instant and can’t be interrupted. Once you get comfortable with holding your own life in the balance, dancer tanking is a lot less stressful.
TP manipulation, already a big part of playing dancer, becomes even more critical as a tank; the life you save is definitely your own. When you get critically hit for 220 damage, non-essential moves seem a lot less useful. You’ll more than likely find yourself having to skip sambas and weaponskilling is the fastest way to end on the floor. Save TP for curing yourself or others.
NEVER get lax on TP manipulation. NEVER waste TP on things you don’t need to do. As a tank, you have the duty of being the first line of party defense. Other jobs are counting on you to do your best so they can do theirs. Vigilance! The last few mobs may have been easy, but you never know when a high level IT will rip you apart. You’ll regret using a Cyclone weaponskill when you meet one of those bad boys.
You can use steps to build flourishes for reverse flourish as well. I found 2 steps was the easiest way to do it; you trade 20 TP to gain 48, plus you debuff the mob in the process. Three steps with a violent flourish also works; use 30 TP to gain 60 from reverse +5 from violent for a total of 65 TP. That’s a little more complicated to keep track of, but you get a potential stun as a bonus.
It can be tempting to save flourishes for animated flourish for hate control, but ultimately it will hurt your TP gain at the expensive of a job ability weaker than provoke. Focus more on reverse flourishing and holding hate with waltzes.
Even if you lose hate, it’s no big deal. It’s not like your dancer defense was that amazing anyway. If a melee pulls hate on a weaponskill, don’t panic. Instead of healing yourself, just heal them as they take damage. Eventually you’ll be able to regain hate. If the melee is taking too much damage for comfort or if you don’t have the TP, fire off a provoke.
Recommended level range
40+. Reverse Flourish is the ace in the hole that makes TP gain so much easier and things just get easier from then on up. Below 40 you could probably do it against the right mobs with a strong enough back line, but the emphasis would be less about you and more about your party members.
Accuracy – if you can’t hit, you can’t get TP. If you don’t have TP, you can’t cure yourself. If you aren’t curing yourself, it won’t take very many hits for the mob to rip through your soft, undefended flesh. Accuracy above all.
Evasion – Dancer evasion is up there with ninja; even on IT mobs you can evade attacks at a decent rate. Adding evasion gear will only make things easier on you.
Attack and STR – your damage output is a lost cause as a DD, but there’s no reason not to hurt the mobs if you can. After all, you have to hit them to get TP anyway.
VIT and Defense – VIT helps your curing moves that target yourself and more DEF will lower damage taken, but your defense is going to be a lost cause regardless. Generally speaking it’s probably better to find other pieces of gear unless something is too tempting to pass up.
Unless your gear setup is very odd, your standard dancer TP gain gear will probably be sufficiently for tanking, though you may want to take a closer look if you plan to try to sell yourself as a tank to parties frequently.
Warrior. Note that heading says “subjob”, not “subjobs”. You’re still playing dancer with all the healing, debuffing, and TP manipulation the job requires. Counting shadows will only be distracting. Plus, trying to shadow tank with only utsusemi: ichi is an exercise in spell interruption anyway. Warrior gives you the useful Provoke for spike hate and Defender when your TP is running a bit low, plus some good job traits like defense bonus and double attack.
Because the hate it generates bleeds away, Provoke can be a crutch if you rely too much on it. I generally found myself trying to hold hate through cures and saved provoke for when my party members weaponskilled in order to buy time to build more cure hate.
Defender gets a lot of flak as one of the worst JAs in the game, but it cut the damage I was tanking from 110-130 to 80-90, a trade I was willing to make since my dagger hits were so weak anyway.
Something I haven’t thought too much about, but probably sushi is still the way to go. Accuracy is your lifeline.
Accuracy – even with your gear and accuracy food, some mobs are naturally highly evasive, and others have TP moves that send their evasion soaring. If you aren’t hitting to generate TP you’re dead meat within moments. Make sure you have a dispeller to get rid of the TP moves as fast as you can, and it might be a good idea to avoid highly evasive mobs entirely as a DNC tank.
Holding Hate: Waltzes build good hate, but at times the party won’t require too much healing. Once again, warrior subjob shines. Provoke can build you some quick hate while you wait for people to get damaged. If you have TP to burn and only need to worry about keeping hate, toss berserk up as well.
Status Ailments: Healing Waltz can remove a status effect from anyone in the party, but it costs 20 TP and has a pretty long delay timer. As such, you generally want to avoid using it as much as you can in order to keep TP for keeping yourself alive. If your backline isn’t watching status effects it’s easy to get bogged down in multiple status effects. Blind in particular is troublesome; it’s not too detrimental to most jobs and so rarely gets removed, but to a dancer where missed hits leads to less TP and lots of pain very quickly, you have to watch out.
Overwhelming Damage: The biggest risk to a dancer tank is taking more damage than you have the TP to waltz away. This is the big fear that stops people from being dancer tanks, but honestly it wasn’t that big of a deal for me. Even when fighting IT mobs, the only time I felt overwhelmed was when the rest of my party wasn’t supporting me very well with curing and debuffing spells of their own. Even so, this happens every now and then. As a tank, you need to be able to get yourself out of tight spots to protect the rest of the party. Having a decent amount of TP built up as a buffer can keep you afloat for a while. If all else fails, there’s your 2-hour Trance to fall back on. Just be sure to pop it before you’re in the red.
This isn’t theory; this is results. Dancers ARE tanking IT mobs in normal exp parties. You don’t need to go with your friends or to some special camp. You don’t need to buy amazingly expensive gear. All you need is a warrior subjob and a healthy amount of courage. Dancers have already proven themselves an extremely powerful healer. It’s time to take the job to the next level as a reliable tank as well. Good luck!
Edited, Feb 17th 2008 6:29pm by Erecia