Nightmare Tanking: Hammer and Chaos Standard Build

The Hammer and Chaos Standard Build

A Nightmare Tanking Template

by Ryahl

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I am a bit late to the party getting into nightmares.  However, now that I have a number of runs under my belt, I have a few tank builds to contribute.  The Hammer and Chaos standard build is my starting template for tanking.  However, for your first few rounds of nightmares, expect to tweak and adjust your build potentially every fight.  When  you begin nightmares, you will likely not have the gear (unless you are an avid PVP player) to trivialize nightmare content, so your builds need to be tailored to the fight.  Yes, I know there is an achievement for finishing a nightmare without a build change.  That comes later, you don’t start at the finish.

Active Abilities

  1. Escalate
  2. Karma/Call for Eris
  3. Razor Shards
  4. Beatdown/Stone’s Throw/Furnace
  5. Stoicism
  6. Reality Fracture
  7. Blowout

Passive Abilities

  1. Inevitability/Extended Fracture/Unfair Advantage
  2. Hardcase
  3. Fevered Pitch
  4. Intensity
  5. You’re Next
  6. Agitator
  7. Forged in Fire

Key Features

This build can not debilitate, making it a major departure from my typical hammer and chaos tank builds.  By this point in the game, though, your DPS should be able to regularly provide debilitate.  It is very reasonable to expect your DPS to run 12 Gauge, which causes penetrates to debilitate.  Besides that, both Improved Blasts (blasts) and Punisher (strikes) are also reliable debilitate passives.  Don’t mistake it, though, someone on the team needs to reliably get debilitate to 10-stacks quickly.  If you have any concerns about this, consider using Furnace in the #4 active slot.  However, if your team can and will debilitate, there are far better #4 actives.

This build largely extends from Escalate and it’s partner passive Intensity.  This allows you to build hate while applying minor ward to yourself and an armor debuff to your target.  Until this ability gets changed, it is nearly a ‘must have’ in any serious nightmare tanking build.  Escalate triggers Hardcase, helping stack your physical and magical mitigation as well as Fever Pitch, helping reduce your glance rate.

Your hate is coming from escalate, Razor Shards and Reality Fracture.  Stoicism is there for burst hate as well as extra survivability.  Agitator is helping make all of your passives more threat generating.  You’re Next helps a lot in block intensive fights, such as those found in the initial nightmares.

Survivability comes from Fuel to the Fire, esclate-intensity, stoicism and the extended hitpoints form Blowout.  However, survival is largely a gearing issue which is addressed later.

I alternate between Stone’s Throw and Beatdown in the #4 spot.  If you need impairs in your build, this isn’t the build, the 2x Impair tank build covers that.  If you are the back-up impair, then slot Beatdown.  However, remember that nightmare dungeons restrict the number of impairs you can throw, so don’t slot this and use it willy-nilly.  If you do NOT need an impair slotted, run Stone’s Throw.  It helps your hate generation and gives you a reasonably fast recycle ranged attack.


Hammer and Chaos tanking provides a reasonably good blend of threat generation and survival.  This particular build gives you four active abilities that extend your survival (escalate, blowout, stoicism and karma) and five that generate hate (escalate, razor shards, reality fracture, stone throw, and stoicism).  Regardless of where you are in your rotation you should be stretching your health bar and generating some good aoe hate.

Open with Stone’s Throw, Stoicism and Razor Shards.  Finish your opening rotation with Escalate x5 and then Reality Fracture and Blowout.

Your default rotation is Escalate x5, Razor Shards and Karma (or Call for Eris).  After the initial rotation, fire Reality Fracture and Blowout on recycle.

Stoicism should be saved for use at important moments.  If the fight features breaks from the boss (e.g. Varangian), you want Stoicism available immediately on re-engagement.  Similarly, you need stoicisim available to counteract agro-wipes.  Should agro not be a concern, stoicism is an important saver for those moments where you have to eat a big hit.

Gearing Needs

In past hammer and chaos tank builds (e.g. for normal and elite dungeons), we have not stressed gear beyond the basic 80% HP/ 20%ATK talisman allocation.  That changes in nightmare.  Your gear matters a great bit and that means everything from talisman, to glyphs, to signets.

Your talisman should still largely follow the 80/20 rule.  I run either a Head ATK or two minor ATK depending on my glpyh needs.

You need to know your opponents and you need to know your block targets.  Many nightmare bosses have exceptionally high penetration scores.  This means your most important attribute is +block, at least to the point where you negate penetrates.  Once you establish that, your next focus should be on mitigating the largest block of opponent damage.  For many fights, this means add physical defense to the remainder of your talisman eligible glyphs.

Your weapons should both glyph +hit.  While Fever Pitch helps reduce your need for +hit, you still need a base to work from.

You should use the best signets you can afford to grab.  With a little work you should easily have a set of minor talisman signets.  Head/Weapon and Major talisman signets are a bit harder to find.  Slot what you can initially.  You are unlikely to build up a stack of 10-signets any time soon, so holding signets back in your inventory is a waste of potential +hate and +survival.

Start hording glyph-able talisman and glyph kits.  You ideally want a full set +block, +physical protection and +magical protection glyphs.  I also keep separate bags for +defense and +evade talisman.  I haven’t seen a nightmare fight with high crit (requiring +def) and I don’t have the attribute budget to stack so much +block and +protection that I can use the evade/def gear just yet, but it’s starting to come together.


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6 Responses to Nightmare Tanking: Hammer and Chaos Standard Build

  1. Kallypso says:

    Burnout? Do you mean Blowout?

  2. destahd says:


  3. m0scht says:

    Hardcase is a shotgun passive, does it really proc if you don’t have a shotgun equipped?

    • RyahlRyahl says:

      Passives do not require the active weapon to work. The exception would be a passive that modifies a specific skill (e.g. there is no benefit to Intensity without having Escalate slotted). Other than that, grab passives that fit your build, many of those will be outside your weapon trees.

      The best builds pull their passives from the entirety of the wheel.

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