Warrior has the highest single target DPS of the three tanks, though not by a large margin. The rotation of building and spending gauge may seem daunting at first, but in practice flows rather intuitively. The majority of their burst revolves around setting up for an Inner Release window, and maximizing those windows will be the key to your success. Warrior’s weakest area is their party utility, but they more than make up for it in their personal mitigation suite. Vengeance, Rampart, Raw Intuition, and Thrill of Battle provide reliable mitigation with short recast times. Holmgang’s 3 minute cooldown means that it can be used multiple times per fight to fill gaps in your cooldown usage. It also conveniently lines up with Benediction. Inner Beast is on-demand mitigation and healing that can be stacked with other buffs or used on its own if you find you’ve run out of cooldowns. Your axe may have gathered some rust since Heavensward, but let’s Shake it Off, and take a Heavy Swing at this!
Core Skills and Abilities
Butcher’s Block Combo
Your basic enmity combo. It should be used sparingly. While it technically has the highest potency, the extra Beast Gauge generated by Storm’s Path outweighs the potency gain from Butcher’s Block. It generates less beast gauge than Storm’s Path, and the enmity generation can cause problems if you’re off-tanking.
Storm’s Eye Combo
Your buff combo. Prioritize keeping this buff up at all times, as it increases your damage by 20%, and also provides a 10% slashing up debuff for the party.
Storm’s Path Combo
Your highest potency combo. It provides 10 more Beast Gauge than your other combos, and should be used if you won’t be over-capping your Beast Gauge, and Storm’s Eye is not about to fall off.
Basic ranged attack, used to initiate pulls on a boss, pick up an add from afar, or to maintain uptime when disengaged from the boss.
Warrior’s AoE enmity generation ability. Overpower should be spammed in groups of 3 or more enemies. Stopping to put up Storm’s Eye is not worth it unless you will otherwise run out of TP.
Grants 50 Beast Gauge on use. Cooldown is reduced by 5 seconds for each use of Inner Beast, Steel Cyclone, Fell Cleave, or Decimate on most enemies.
A powerful on-demand mitigation tool that also provides a small heal for about 88% of the damage dealt at level 70. Inner Beast is extremely powerful in progression, especially now that you can pocket the 50 gauge without overflowing. As you continue to refine your cooldown usage in a fight, the number of Inner Beasts you use should decrease, as Inner Beast is a substantial potency loss when compared to Fell Cleave or Upheaval. Costs 50 Beast Gauge.
Warrior’s highest potency attack. Fell Cleave will account for about 30% of the damage you deal while in Deliverance, and it’s your goal to pump as many of these out as possible during your burst windows. Costs 50 Beast Gauge.
An AoE move that generates a huge amount of enmity, with a decent self heal as well. This deals more damage than Inner Beast when hitting two or more enemies, and should be used during AoE situations when you’re in Defiance. Costs 50 Beast Gauge.
A high potency AoE move. Decimate is your highest damage move when hitting two or more enemies. Decimate has a rather long animation, though, so be careful when using it on mobs that are about to die. Costs 50 Beast Gauge.
A high potency off GCD damaging ability. Upheaval is your most efficient beast gauge spender, and should be your highest priority for spending gauge. Upheaval’s damage increases and decreases with your current HP pool, and can be buffed via HP increasing effects like Thrill of Battle and Defiance. Costs 20 Beast Gauge.
A low potency off-GCD gap closer. Onslaught has a huge enmity multiplier, so it can be used to generate extra threat in a pinch. It’s your least efficient beast gauge spender, so it will most consistently be used to dump extra gauge. One thing to note is that using Onslaught in your Inner Release window is more efficient than using Fell Cleave outside of your Inner Release or Berserk windows, but we’ll talk about this more later in the guide. Costs 20 Beast Gauge.
Shake It Off
Removes cleansable detrimental effects on self. Recast: 60s. Currently useless, except in extremely niche situations, but SE has confirmed that this ability will be reworked soon. Please look forward to it!
Increases attack power by 30%. Duration: 20s. Recast: 60s.
Planning out Berserk usage is what separates a good Warrior from a great Warrior. You want to use Berserk as often as possible, while also ensuring that you won’t be disengaging from the boss for mechanics while it’s active.
Halves Beast Gauge costs and nullifies Stun, Sleep, Bind, Heavy, knockback, and draw-in effects. Duration: 20s. Recast: 120s.
Can only be executed while under the effect of Deliverance. Shares a recast timer with Unchained. With a two minute cooldown, you’ll be pairing Inner Release with every other Berserk for a huge burst of damage.
Nullifies the damage penalty inflicted by Defiance. Duration: 20s. Recast: 120s. Can only be executed while under the effect of Defiance. Shares a recast timer with Inner Release.
Provides a substantial damage increase while in tank stance, but it shares a cooldown with your best damage buff, so it is currently best practice to avoid using this, if possible.
Increases maximum HP by 25%, while reducing damage dealt by 20% and increasing enmity. Increases own HP recovery via healing magic by 20%. Every 10 points in your Beast Gauge increases your parry rate by 1%, to a maximum of 10%.
Defiance is very slightly worse than the PLD and DRK tank stances. You must receive healing to benefit from the increase in HP, and the increased healing only applies to healing spells (Cure/Adlo/Benefic), and does not apply to off-GCD healing abilities (Tetragrammaton/Lustrate/Essential Dignity).
Increases damage dealt by 5%. Every 10 points in your Beast Gauge increases your critical hit rate by 1%, to a maximum of 10%.
Personal Defensive Abilities
Draws target towards caster, and binds both. Most attacks cannot reduce your HP to less than 1. Duration: 6s. Recast: 180s.
With the shortest cooldown of all of the tank “ultimate” abilities, Holmgang can be used multiple times in an encounter. Holmgang does not need to be paired with any other cooldown, and frees up your mitigation options for smoothing out damage in other areas of the fight, such as adds or autos. Healers do not need to spend GCDs pre-shielding or regen-ing you before you take a massive hit, and, if you have access to Benediction (which conveniently also has a 3 minute recast), they also won’t need to spend any GCDs healing you up afterwards. Holmgang, like other tank “ultimates”, can be used to soak strong multi-hit tank busters like Thunder III in O4S that would otherwise require a tank swap.
Reduces damage taken by 30%. Duration: 15s. Recast: 120s.
Vengeance is arguably the strongest defensive cooldown in the game. It has a 2 minute recast, which is a full minute shorter than Shadow Wall (DRK) and Sentinel (PLD), and the 15s duration is 5 seconds longer than the others. In addition to the 30% mitigation, you will also counterattack with a 50 potency hit any time you receive physical damage while Vengeance is active.
Parries all physical attacks taken from the front. All attacks taken from the flank or rear will result in critical damage. Duration: 20s. Recast: 90s.
Raw Intuition is Warrior’s only cooldown that does not work on magical damage. When taking physical damage, Raw Intuition provides 20% damage reduction, making it effectively a second Rampart. Keep in mind that critical hits will not be parried, so Raw Intuition isn’t quite as reliable as your other defensive cooldowns, but it can be paired with Awareness to nullify all of its downsides.
Thrill of Battle
Increases maximum HP by 20% and restores the amount increased. Duration: 20s. Recast: 120s.
Thrill of Battle can be thought of as a shield equal to 20% of your maximum health. Since it scales off of your HP, Thrill of Battle is slightly stronger when used in Defiance. While it can be an effective mitigation tool, it will more commonly be used to increase the damage of your Upheavals (much like Raw Intuition was used in Heavensward to generate another wrath/abandon stack rather than for actual mitigation). Warrior can afford to use Thrill aggressively like this because of its abundance of reliable cooldowns.
Restores own HP when used with Defiance. Cure Potency: 1200. Restores 200 TP when used under the effect of Deliverance. Recast: 60s.
Equilibrium provides a pretty substantial emergency heal, and can be used in (very) long fights or after a death to sustain TP without running dry. I tend to use Equilibrium as a heal when I have to disengage the boss and I’m taking a big chunk of damage. For example, in O3S for the Spellblade Holy during the library phase you can swap into Defiance before getting your “Out of the Action” debuff, use Equilibrium as soon as it wears off, and then swap back into Deliverance.
Absorbs a portion of damage dealt as HP, and reduces damage taken by 20% for 6 seconds.
Inner Beast got even better with the change to Warrior’s Beast Gauge. You can effectively “pocket” 50 gauge indefinitely, and ensure that Inner Beast is always available. When undergeared or in progression, Inner Beast can be stacked with other defensive cooldowns to double up on mitigation and shrug off a ton of damage. While it is a very strong mitigation option, the downside of using Inner Beast is that you’re not using Fell Cleaves, and you should be looking to minimize its usage as you plan out your defensive cooldowns.
Absolutely necessary. This allows for tank swaps to occur, and dropping it should only be considered if solo tanking.
I would argue that Shirk is as necessary as Provoke. It allows the tanks to maintain threat while making minimal usage of enmity combos, and smoothes tank swaps. For an ideal tank swap, you will want the off-tank to provoke, and then the main tank to Shirk. Each tank swap will generate an extra 25% enmity lead for the tanks, so make liberal use of this ability. When a tank swap is not necessary, the off-tank can provoke the boss, and then immediately use Shirk to give the main tank an additional enmity lead.
Not much to say here, other than that you should never be without Rampart. A reliable defensive cooldown with a short recast will always be welcome.
This is a very versatile skill for either personal or party mitigation. If both tanks take Reprisal, it will be up for almost every tank buster or every instance of large AoE damage in current content. Be sure to coordinate with your co-tank so your reprisals aren’t overlapping.
This is your flex slot. You should bring awareness for fights such as Susano EX or O3S where crits are dangerous or guaranteed. Pairing Awareness with Raw Intuition negates Raw Intuition’s flank/rear crit vulnerability, and also negates the possibility of getting crit from the front and having the attack ignore Raw Intuition. This is extremely useful when tanking multiple mobs or if mechanics force you to move.
For fights where you’re not worried about suffering critical hits, the increased healing received from Convalescence is nice, especially if you have a SCH who plans on deploying Adlo’s off of you. Having access to a Bard with Nature’s Minne is further incentive to take Awareness, though, as it is usually more beneficial than stacking convalescence-type effects.
Unexciting, but it’s extra mitigation that’s up for nearly every pull.
Your last slot is dungeon specific. I tend to default to Provoke for this slot just in case things go south, but Low Blow or Interject can be taken if a mob needs to be stunned or silenced, and Reprisal can also provide extra mitigation for bosses.
If you’re the one pulling (which you should be), I’d recommend starting in Defiance and using one of these openers. The goal in your opener is to get up Storm’s Eye and slashing debuff as soon as possible, so you can get into your berserk while all of the raid buffs are still up.
The main difference in these openers is your timing for going into Deliverance, and your timing for Butcher’s Block. The Early Deliverance Opener is preferred if your enmity isn’t an issue. Definitely try it out first, and if you’re having a hard time holding hate after the opener, try out the Late Deliverance Opener. You can also try pulling the boss with Overpower instead of Tomahawk, as it has a larger enmity multiplier. This requires you to be much closer to the boss, but provides 290 more potency worth of enmity at the cost of 10 potency worth of damage.
To ensure that you get all 9 GCDs within your Berserk, you will want to wait until this point in your GCD to activate Berserk.
Onslaught is used during Inner Release because using an Onslaught under Berserk + Inner Release lets you spend 10 gauge for 130 potency, while using a Fell Cleave outside of Berserk is 50 gauge for 500 potency (10 gauge = 100 potency). For this reason, it’s better to use an Onslaught under Berserk + Inner Release than it is to save that beast gauge for a Fell Cleave when you don’t have your buffs up.
Taming the Beast (Gauge)
In Stormblood, Warrior’s best damage skills require Beast Gauge to use, and properly managing your Beast Gauge is the single most important factor affecting your damage output. Berserk and Inner Release are incredibly powerful offensive buffs (which also line up nicely with other damage boosting raid buffs), and we want to manage our Beast Gauge in a way that allows us to make the most of these incredibly strong burst windows.
Optimizing your Beast Gauge management is the key to doing high damage as a Warrior. You need to constantly be aware of when your next Berserk window is, and know how much gauge you’ll be able to build in that time (which is often affected by mechanics). Planning ahead like this is crucial if you want to make good decisions about how much gauge you have available to spend outside of Berserk. Mis-managing your Beast Gauge and entering your big burst phase with less than full gauge will have a disastrous effect on your personal DPS.
This is an example of what your Berserk window should look like when paired with Inner Release. You want to have full beast gauge when you pop Berserk + IR, which will allow you to get in 6 Fell Cleaves, 2 Onslaughts, and 1 Upheaval within the 20 second buff duration.
In this example Berserk and IR are used after Maim, but it doesn’t actually matter what point you’re at in your combo when you pop these buffs. Your Big Zerk will always include 6 FC’s plus one each of Heavy Swing, Maim and Storm’s Path (9 GCDs total), regardless of where you’re at in your combo when you pop Berserk/IR.
Infuriate won’t always come up in exactly the same place, so just make sure you use it as soon as possible, provided you won’t be over-capping your beast gauge. You’ll want to enter these Berserk windows with 100 gauge, and you’ll end at 0.
Here’s an example of what your Berserk window is going to look like when you don’t have Inner Release available. You want to try to fit 3 Fell Cleaves and an Upheaval into each of these. Because each small zerk includes 3 FCs plus two full Path combos (9 GCDs total), it doesn’t matter what point you’re at in your current combo when you pop Berserk.
Infuriate won’t always come up in exactly the same place, so just make sure you use it as soon as possible, provided you won’t be over-capping your beast gauge. You’ll want to enter these Berserk windows with at least 60 gauge.
In the 40 seconds of downtime between your Berserks, you can get in 5 combos. You generally want to be using Storm’s Path as much as possible, since it gives you 20 gauge instead of 10, and you want to make sure Storm’s Eye is your last combo before you use Berserk, so that it doesn’t fall off during your Berserk window. For these 5 combos you have a few options:
Eye > Path > Path > Path > Eye
– Generates 130 Beast Gauge
This option generates the most beast gauge. If you use only this combo, It will generate 10 more beast gauge than you can spend in two minutes. This will be your default rotation in your Berserk downtime.
Eye > Path > Block > Path > Eye
– Generates 120 Beast Gauge
In a perfect world, one Butcher’s Block combo can be used every two minutes for a slight DPS gain. If you’re main tank, the Block will also help you maintain your enmity lead. If you’re the off-tank, the Block shouldn’t be enough to pull hate off of your main tank, as long as you’re tank swapping and using Shirk throughout the encounter. While learning a fight, stick to using this just to pick up adds or maintain an enmity lead.
Eye > Path > Eye > Path > Eye
– Generates 120 Beast Gauge
This is the ‘safe’ option for keeping up Storm’s Eye. In the two rotations above, your Storm’s Eye buff may fall off for a split second before your last hit. That can screw you up if you have to disengage for a mechanic, because you’ll have to spend time reapplying it when you get back to the boss, and having it drop for a bit is going to be a pretty big DPS loss.
The actual placement of the 3 inner combos isn’t very important. You can move them around as much as you like and it won’t throw off your buff timings or your beast gauge at all. You also definitely don’t have to stick to these three; if an add is coming up or if somebody is creeping up on aggro, it’s probably going to be best to get in an extra Butcher’s Block combo.
When it comes to spending Beast Gauge outside of Berserk, you can generally get in one Upheaval and one Fell Cleave between every Berserk. If you stick to this, you should enter each Berserk window with exactly 100 Beast Gauge. In general, you want to use your Fell Cleave while Infuriate is still on cooldown so you can benefit from the 5s of cooldown reduction. If Thrill of Battle is coming up soon, try to save your Upheaval for when it’s active, since Upheaval does more damage under Thrill.
You generally don’t want to use Onslaught outside of Inner Release, since its gauge cost is pretty high for the amount of damage it does, but it IS okay to use it if you need to re-engage something quickly, to ensure you won’t overflow on beast gauge, or to cheese a knock-back mechanic like in O1S or Exdeath.
Use Infuriate as soon as you can, provided you won’t overflow on beast gauge, and provided that it will be back up in time to be used during your Big Zerk burst.
This advice applies to dummy-like encounters where you have full uptime and will always enter your Berserk windows with 100 gauge.
Advanced Beast Gauge Management (Courtesy of Damelia Lhea)
To make the most out of your Beast Gauge, you’ll want to be planning ahead, and adjusting based on the scenarios that arise. Outside of Berserk, our goals are to hit one Upheaval in between each Berserk window, have at least 60 gauge at the start of our Small Zerk, and have a full 100 gauge at the start of our next Big Zerk. This is easy enough on a dummy, but encounter mechanics rarely allow for 100% uptime, and any lost uptime decreases the amount of Beast Gauge we can build.
Because of this, you won’t always have the same amount of gauge when you begin and end your Small Zerk windows, and will need to adjust your gauge use accordingly to make sure you still end up with 100 gauge for the start of your next Big Zerk burst. (Beginning your Big Zerk with anything less than 100 gauge will be a big DPS loss!)
Let’s walk through the possible scenarios to illustrate the thought process:
Start Small Zerk at 100 gauge, end at 40: Best case scenario is generating 130 gauge before your next Berserk, for 170 total gauge; 70 of this can be expended outside of Berserk. 20 is reserved for Upheaval, leaving 50 for a Fell Cleave.
Start Small Zerk at 90 gauge, end at 30: Best case scenario is generating 130 gauge before your next Berserk, for 160 total gauge; 60 of this can be expended outside of Berserk. 20 is reserved for Upheaval, leaving 40 for 2 Onslaughts. Consider this having 2 Onslaughts in our pocket for the entirety of this 60s Big Zerk windup sequence (20s of Small Zerk + 40s until next Berserk). Move 1 into Small Zerk.
Start Small Zerk at 80 gauge, end at 20: Best case scenario is generating 120 gauge before your next Berserk, for 140 total gauge; 40 of this can be expended outside of Berserk. 20 is reserved for Upheaval, leaving 20 for an Onslaught. As before, this Onslaught can be moved into the Small Zerk to end at 0 instead of 20.
Start Small Zerk at 70 gauge, end at 10: Best case scenario is generating 130 gauge before your next Berserk, for 140 total gauge; 40 of this can be expended outside of Berserk. 20 is reserved for Upheaval, leaving 20 for an Onslaught. Because we end the Small Zerk with only 10 gauge, moving the Onslaught into the Small Zerk isn’t an option.
Start Small Zerk at 60 gauge, end at 0: Best case scenario is generating 120 gauge before your next Berserk, for 120 total gauge; 20 of this can be expended outside of Berserk. 20 is reserved for Upheaval.
This is how you want to approach your Beast Gauge decision making. You want to plan ahead, determine how much gauge you’ll actually be able to build before your next Big Zerk, and adjust your Beast Gauge use accordingly.
Cooldown rotations are fight dependent, and good ones require coordination among multiple members of a party. While learning an encounter, I personally begin by mitigating tank busters with Rampart, then Vengeance, and use Inner Beast to fill in any gaps, if necessary.
You will have to coordinate with your party in order to maximize your defensive coverage. In Stormblood, every job has access to role actions that can provide some form of defensive utility. Don’t be shy about asking them to actually use them! Non-tanks may need some guidance on which mitigation abilities to use and when. Good tanks will be familiar with all the available options and incorporate them into their planned CD rotation.
Here is a small summary of the defensive options that your fellow party members have at their disposal:
Lowers target’s strength and dexterity by 10%. Duration: 10s. Recast: 120s. Feint should be used to lower damage dealt by physical tank busters, or large physical-damage AoEs. If each of your melee take it, they can mitigate every tank buster provided they are 1 minute or more apart.
Increases HP recovery via healing magic by 20% for self and nearby party members. Duration: 15s. Recast: 120s. Mantra should be used for large party-wide AoE damage. Currently, it shines most in O4S, where healers regularly need to ensure that the party is at full HP.
Reduces physical damage taken by a party member by 20%. Duration: 10s. Recast: 150s. Palisade should be used to lower damage dealt by physical tank busters, or during periods of high single target physical damage.
Bard: Nature’s Minne
Increases HP recovery via healing magic for a party member or self by 20%. Duration: 15s. Recast: 45s. Nature’s Minne is a targetable Convalescence. This should be used on the main tank as often as possible. Having a Bard in your party is a good reason to not cross-class Convalescence, as Nature’s Minne can be used almost twice as often.
Adds an additional effect the song currently being sung. Mage’s Ballad Effect: Increases maximum HP by 15%. Army’s Paeon Effect: Reduces physical vulnerability by 10%. The Wanderer’s Minuet Effect: Reduces magic vulnerability by 10%. Duration: 30s. Recast: 180s.
Troubadour is an odd ability with a significant cooldown. It is useful for mitigating party-wide damage, provided the aspect of the damage lines up with aspect mitigated by the Bard’s current song.
Lowers target’s damage dealt by 10%. Duration: 5s. Recast: 90s.
Dismantle is effectively a third Reprisal at the party’s disposal. It can be used to mitigate tank busters, but is likely more valuable when used on party-wide AoE damage.
Lowers target’s intelligence and mind by 10%. Duration: 10s. Recast: 120s.
Addle should be used to lower damage dealt by magical tank busters, or large magical-damage AoEs. In fights with multiple magical tank busters, you can alternate using Apocatastasis and Addle for extra coverage.
Reduces a party member’s magic vulnerability by 20%. Duration: 10s. Recast: 150s.
Apocatastasis should be used to lower damage dealt by magical tank busters. In fights with multiple magical tank busters, you can alternate using Apocatastasis and Addle for extra coverage.
Increases a party member damage 5%, and reduces the damage they take 5%. Duration: 15s. Recast: 90s.
Devotion is unreliable, and should not be counted on for mitigation. If you happen to be standing nearest the egi when the Summoner casts Devotion, consider it a nice pat on the back for all of your hard work.
I will omit a section on healer tools, as I feel there is too much to cover within this guide. Of all the members in your group, your healers should be most aware of the mitigation that they personally bring to the table. Be sure to coordinate and communicate with them, to ensure that you are not over-mitigating in some areas and under-mitigating in others.
Credit for these best in slot lists goes to the Warrior discussion channel on The Balance Discord server.
Special thanks to my FC Order of the Blue Garter on Excalibur and all of the members of my static. Thank you all for helping me constantly push myself to learn and improve. Stay humble, stay hungry.