Gunbreak My Heart

I think we can finally lift the Shadowbringers silence on my blog. So let’s start the posting Continuation with talking about Gunbreaker!

Two Types of Tanks

I’ve had a tank leveled to cap ever since A Realm Reborn. But only a brief moment of that was I ever a tank main. That was a weird time. There are two overarching types of tank players. Group A are the tanks who feel that they’re responsible for the party’s success. It’s their duty to hold enmity and ensure that no one gets hurt unnecessarily! They’re often the de facto leaders of any group, and must know how to handle everything. Meanwhile, Group B are the tanks who understand they just have to stand there and not die.

I fall more into Group B, and like tanking well enough. Especially in Shadowbringers, playing a tank is much more in line with playing a DPS job that has more HP and better mitigation cooldowns. I know there are those who want to purify the Holy Trinity. People who want tanks to only tank, and healers to only heal. And to that I say… go find a game that suits that desire, or make one? I’m over here having a good time with Gunbreaker, so don’t throw me into that Nebula of responsibility.

The Tank Experience

I’d have to say, as much as I like tanking there’s one aspect that’s never really changed about it, socially. If you have a tank that’s at max level, well-geared, and know how to play it in most instances? Your chances of becoming The Tank Friend increase exponentially. That was absolutely the case back during A Realm Reborn and Heavensward. While there were plenty of people who had a tank leveled up, for anything that mattered there were less than five tanks who had The Tank Friend slapped onto their backs.

That’s not to say I dislike being The Tank Friend, especially because more practice means better play during raid. But I also don’t want to let my Samurai nor Dragoon get too rusty, to where I look like a scrublord playing them. My opportunity really comes during map runs when we manage to invite a full party, because occasionally Rak, Trevor, or someone else will tank instead. I’ve got to be much better about dodging AoEs while on a DPS though. Let’s just say that while I’m tanking I can fraglantly ignore the Danger Zone.

Same Tank! Same Tank.

I’ve heard so many people talk about how homogenized the tanks are. Honestly, the term homogenized has been thrown around so much and villanized that it’s starting to lose its meaning on me. Like I read it and I can feel my eyes roll into the back of my head. Sure, I can understand why. One of the key benefits in an MMORPG to having multiple jobs on one character is being able to express the differences between those jobs. You absolutely should feel that bringing x over y for z raid is a good idea. Jobs should be powerful in their preferred situations, so this comes to the result that the battle design needs to meet the job design to make it happen.

For now, it seems the FFXIV devs are instead aiming towards accessibility. To where, depending on your party and their skills both individually and as a team it really doesn’t matter what people play. There’s always going to be an optimal solution, because math demands that. And for basically forever, stacking buff jobs has been the key to faster victories. But I feel their point with development is that you don’t have to be the best case for xyz, because you’ll probably still be able to handle it. With that, it comes down to style and aesthetics for most players. This suits most players quite well! No matter what your skill level, looking awesome is important.

Gunbreaker – Subjective Similarities

Now onto talking specifically about Gunbreaker! I want to start with the more subjective similarities, based on my personal experience thus far. Playing Paladin from A Realm Reborn onward, it always felt like the “standard tank”. As the expansions kept coming and it kept developing, Paladin was formed into an ever stronger, immovable wall with a Heart of Stone. On the other hand, I took Dark Knight up much more seriously in the last few months of Stormblood. By that point, playing Dark Knight felt like an unending Bloodfest with my HP dropping and refilling in moments. It was much faster paced than Paladin, with way more buttons to manage. It felt good.

Now with Shadowbringers, I’m maining Gunbreaker. This feels like a perfect blend between the two, almost as if they did a fusion dance. Having completed the Fated Circle of tanking, I now have this balance of offense and defense that feels much more like a DPS that can tank. This fits me extremely well, having come from tanking as Samurai back in Final Fantasy XI. Gunbreaker is just as fast paced as Dark Knight was, with plenty of buttons to manage to boot. And it’s just as much of a wall as Paladin was, especially with auto attacks given the fantastic Camouflage ability.

Gunbreaker – Objective Similarities

This is where we’ll dip our toes into the whole homogenization vibe. All tanks share the Role Actions, of course. Provoke puts you at the top of the target’s enmity list (plus a little now, thanks to Shadowbringers). Interject and Low Blow allow you to Silence and Stun respectively. Silence is particularly handy when the monster has a glowy charge cast that can be silenced and your party’s White Mage has been on a Holy spree prior to that.

Next we have three shared cooldowns. There’s Rampart, which reduces all damage taken by 20% for 20 seconds on a 90 second cooldown. Reprisal reduces the target’s damage dealt by 10% for 5 seconds on a 60 second cooldown. That one is really handy for tank busters and heavy raid wide AoE. And new to Shadowbringers, tanks have Arm’s Length which replaced the knockback mitigation for everyone. But… the knockback isn’t the best part. During those 6 seconds, anything that hits you that isn’t immune to Slow gets a 20% Slow debuff for 15 seconds. This is incredible during large trash pulls and should absolutely be used more often.

Each tank has their tank stance for an absolutely ridiculous enmity boost and a huge cooldown that reduces damage taken by 30% for 10 seconds on a 120 second cooldown. They also get a generally two-charge gap closer along with a ranged attack to facilitate easier pulling of enemies off of your party. Finally, each tank has a passive trait that more or less says “you’re the tank now” with more HP and less damage taken. And as for Gunbreaker specifically, their Heart of Light is shared with Dark Knight as an AoE 15% magical damage mitigation.

Gunbreaker – Differences

I know some healers have No Mercy when it comes to Gunbreaker tanks. It’s the new job, so a lot of people who’ve never really tanked before are playing it, along with people who’ve not seriously tanked in ages. But… time to show off some of Gunbreaker’s cool points! I’ll start us off with Heart of Stone. This reduces damage taken by 15% and has a 25 second cooldown, allowing you to have it up for basically every tank buster. Its true strength lies within giving it to another party member though, because you also give your Brutal Shell shield along with it. While that’s not necessarily a huge amount, I’ve absolutely saved some of my raiders with it so far.

Next up, and some of you might want to Eye Gouge your Gunbreaker when they pop it but don’t fret! Discussion is the key to properly using this ability. Superbolide! Unlike Paladin’s Hallowed Ground, this has a 6 minute cooldown instead of a lengthy 7 minute one. That means depending on the fight length, you could potentially pull out three tank invulnerabilities from just one tank! Of course, Warrior and Dark Knight have always had that strength. While Superbolide does reduce the Gunbreaker’s HP to 1, it provides the same invulnerability that Hallowed Ground does, for 8 seconds instead of 10 though.

Gunbreaker – Invulnerabilities and Things Forgotten

Sure, Warrior’s invulnerability prevents them from dropping below 1 HP for 6 seconds. Not only does Gunbreaker’s last longer, but they don’t have the same threat of being autoed to death immediately after. The healers can ignore a Gunbreaker for the most part, and take care of the party instead. Dark Knight’s invulnerability has arguably the longest duration at 19 potential seconds, but it requires them to “die” and for the healer to restore them to 100% at the last possible moment for the best use.

Finally, we have Camouflage, Aurora, and Bullet Shell. Camouflage reduces damage taken by 10% for 20 seconds, which doesn’t seem like much until it’s paired with a 50% increase to parry rate. This becomes a pretty monstrous cooldown in large trash pulls, which you’ll be doing a lot anyway. Aurora is a Regen that can be stuck to any party member, and while not the most potent skill in the world clearly few Gunbreakers remember they have it. At least, judging by my usual 99% healing parses. Finally, Bullet Shell is the second step in our rotation that both heals and provides a shield for us. It’s a small amount, but that can be shared with another party member by using Heart of Stone on them!

Scaring Your Healers

Gunbreaker is very middle of the road when it comes to the tanks. They’re generally the highest DPS among the tanks, but it’s not by enough of a difference to matter to most. All of the tanks are well adjusted there! Gunbreaker is neither the best at mitigation nor the worst–they’re simply there. It’s a very comfortable class for someone like me, who enjoys high paced rotations and having plenty of buttons to press, to slide right into. I imagine this might be similar experience for many DPS who want to try tanking out!

Moving from speed Samurai in Stormblood to Gunbreaker in Shadowbringers was a much more smooth transition than I thought. Without even really trying I’ve ended up becoming The Tank Friend and finding some form of comfort in that identity. Although I definitely don’t feel up to dressing like I’m an armored wall… that’s just not me.

Anyway, welcome back to my blog–and happy adventuring!

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