10 Final Fantasy 14 tips to conquer tank anxiety

A tank on a tank
(Image credit: Square Enix, US Army)

Let me start with a confession: I am not the greatest tank in Final Fantasy 14. In most games, this one included, I’m much more comfortable dishing out damage than I am soaking it up. If you play as a tank in FF14, all eyes are on you: Not only will enemies send all of their aggression your way (if you're doing your job), but the rest of your party will look to you for guidance. At first, that thought terrified me more than the haunted halls of Haukke Manor or the deadly dragons of The Aery.

But I gave it a shot anyway, and now that I've worked my way through the main game and two expansions as a tank, I can safely say that my dreaded "tank anxiety" is gone. Once you get the hang of it, tanking isn’t really more difficult than playing a damage-per-second (DPS) or healer class; it’s just different. Thanks to FF14’s (mostly) patient, easygoing community, you’ll find plenty of people willing to hold your hand while you master the basics. If you're ready to take center stage, but are still a little afraid of doing so, here are 10 tips to help you tackle tank anxiety and become the heart of the party.

1. Run Halls of the Novice missions

(Image credit: Square Enix)

If you started FF14 as a DPS or healer class, you may have forgotten all about the Halls of the Novice. These singleplayer missions help you learn your role by giving you real-time instructions as you cooperate with a group of non-player characters (NPCs). The Halls of the Novice missions for tanking involve generating enmity, targeting enemies from afar, keeping additional enemies (adds) away from party members, mitigating damage and more. 

2. Practice with Duty Support or Squadrons

(Image credit: Square Enix)

The best way to prep yourself for multiplayer dungeons is to try them in a pressure-free singleplayer format. You can now run most dungeons from the base game, A Realm Reborn, as well as the first expansion, Heavensward, with a party of NPCs.

Duty Support is the easiest way to do this, as you can simply select it from the Duty menu and dive right in. However, it’s worth doing Squadrons instead if you can, since you can customize and upgrade your allies and earn special rewards for your Grand Company. Unlocking Squadrons is a bit complicated, so consult a guide if you haven’t done so yet. 

3. Ask Novice Network or friends for help

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Newer players should have access to the Novice Network chat channel. Most NN chats have a mix of curious newcomers (or "sprouts") and helpful mentors. Generally speaking, if you ask for help with a dungeon, you’ll get half-a-dozen eager volunteers ready to help you out. If you mention that you’re new to tanking, they may also offer advice as you go. If you have friends who play FF14, you can also ask them, since it’s usually not as daunting to make mistakes in front of people you know. 

4. Communicate with your party

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Repeat after me: "It's my first time tanking this dungeon, if there’s anything I should know."

Sometimes you’ll get a helpful response, whether it’s the healer suggesting how many enemies you should engage, or a DPS explaining how boss mechanics work. 

Sometimes, you’ll get something snarky. (I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard "Stick it with the pointy end!")

EIther way, the party knows to extend a little patience and grace. If you pretend to know exactly what you’re doing and then make a big mistake, then your companions may feel less magnanimous.

5. Watch dungeon-specific tanking guides

If you go on YouTube, you can find a comprehensive tank guide to any dungeon, trial or raid in FF14. If you emerge from a dungeon thinking, "That didn’t go well," a guide can tell you what you missed, and how to do better next time.

You can also watch general tanking guides, which won’t spoil any of the story or gameplay for you. These are an excellent resource for new tanks, since they tend to focus on fundamentals rather than highly specific, situational tips. I personally love JoCat’s "Crap Guide to Final Fantasy 14 – Tanks," but you may find yourself laughing too hard to internalize the lessons. 

6. Consult your map

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Half of your job as a tank is commanding the enemy’s attention; the other half is leading your party. Tanks are almost always first in the marching order, setting the pace for the dungeon and keeping everyone on the right path. Some dungeons are essentially just a straight line to the end, but most of them have branching pathways, and you may need to explore side rooms for keys, levers or treasure. You don’t want to lead your companions on a heroic charge to a dead end, so I recommend having the map open most of the time. 

7. Pull what you’re comfortable with

(Image credit: Square Enix)

When you first run a dungeon as a DPS or healer, you may marvel at the tank blazing forward, grabbing the attention of a dozen monsters at once. You don't have to do this, though. Veteran tanks don’t pull tons of enemies because there’s any special benefit to it; it just makes the dungeons go a bit faster. But remember: FF14 is a game, and everyone’s playing because they have free time to spare. I recommend starting with two groups of enemies per pull—or even one, if the enemies look particularly tough. Your healer will let you know if you should go for more. 

8. Remember your role

(Image credit: Square Enix)

If you first played a DPS class, your top priority in a dungeon is "killing enemies." If you first played a healer class, your top priority in a dungeon is "keeping everyone alive." As a tank, you’ll still do these things, but they’re not your primary responsibilities. Your job is to make sure every enemy in the room is attacking you—and that’s doubly true if you’re fighting a boss.

During boss fights, other players can generally handle smaller enemies or activate mechanics by themselves. In fact, running all over the arena to help them might do more harm than good, if a boss decides to unleash a powerful area-of-effect (AoE) attack. Generally speaking, if the enemies are focused on you, you’re doing fine.

9. Do your Duty Roulettes

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Tanking is a skill, and like any skill, the only way to get better at it is to practice. The easiest way to practice is to run down your list of Duty Roulettes every day. By the end of A Realm Reborn, you should have five different options: Level 50/60/70/80, Leveling, Trials, Main Scenario and Guildhests. These will toss you into dungeons or other multiplayer content with pick-up groups of other players, and you’ll get generous experience and currency bonuses for completing them.

More importantly, you don’t know which dungeons or trials you’ll get, so you’ll have to think on your feet and learn each one’s ins and outs. Over time, you’ll find that you can confidently lead a party through almost any dungeon, rather than just a few plot-specific ones.

10. Screw up really badly

(Image credit: Square Enix)

You can’t make this one happen, but trust me: If you play long enough, it will.

Sooner or later, you will lead a catastrophic dungeon run. You will run headfirst into every deadly mechanic the boss has as its disposal. You will flail wildly around the arena as the enemies’ AoEs decimate your entire party. You will fall off the edge of a cliff, leaving your companions to fend for themselves. And all of this will drag out a 20-minute adventure into an hourlong odyssey. Your party will be disappointed, or exasperated, or maybe even angry with you.

But here’s the thing: It’s not a big deal. A spectacular screw-up has almost no lasting consequences. You’ll still finish the dungeon. You’ll still get all the rewards. And if you’re lucky, you’ll learn from your mistakes. The scariest part of tanking is being afraid to fail, but failing is simply not a huge problem in FF14. And once you learn that firsthand, there’s nothing left to fear.

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology.

After earning a B.A. in Writing Seminars from Johns Hopkins University, Marshall started his journalism career at The Escapist as a news writer and game reviewer. Since then, he has covered a variety of topics for Tom’s Guide, including security, streaming and productivity. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi. When he’s not reviewing games for work, he prefers to play RPGs and strategy titles.