The Brandish Tank – by Arctus

Designed by Arctus
Submitted 19-Jul, via our board submission tool

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Weapons – Blade/Chaos

Utility level – this works in Nightmare dungeons


Crimson Theatre
Pulling the Strings


Brandishing Support
Sixth Sense
Fuel to the Fire
Master of Illusion

Key Features

This is a standart build for NM. Its tested by many players, but you need to know the boss and adapt your build to the boss.  Usually you are expected to bring exposed debuff (30% more dmg)! In exchange 1 dd brings the 30% less dmg debuff.   Chaos is the only reasonable source for the exposed debuff and usually you dont see any melee’s in NM.

1.  Escalation also offer’s a good aggro generation, aoe aggro, 7,5% less dmg and minor evade chance.
2.  Cornerstone is brandish. Use it as often as possible.
3.  Crimson Theatre is a filler, usually this is the spot where you fit in abilities you need for a boss. Taunt, Crimson for aoe (use shadowplay instead of brandish support), 3. CD
4.  I really like Pulling the Strings because it has some range and gives you a decent hit buff, but of course you could use Karma or Consequence instead for more defense)


1. Use escalation to build 10 stacks exposed
2. use matador for 5 stacks defense
3. Brandish on CD or on a strong attack from the boss (depends on the fight)
4. Crimson Theatre for additional AOE aggro
5. Illusion and Stoicism as CD’s
6. Pulling string for hit cd and to have a medium range attack.

Gear Needs

1. defense
2. evade
3. phys / magic protection
4. block


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14 Responses to The Brandish Tank – by Arctus

  1. marc babion says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. wastrilith says:

    I can't see a impair capability in your build, which i was told was kinda mandatory for NM, as the gatekeeper ask you to have at least two of them to pass him.
    Do you let the DPS do this instead ? or did i understand something wrong ?

    • Ryahl says:

      I can't speak for Arctus, but I do know that some nightmare groups require that the DPS cover impairment. The logic there is that the tank and healer already have enough going on with agro, damage and adds.

      Someone has to bring impair, it doesn't have to be the tank.

  3. Alex says:

    You sure this build works for NM? According to this site guides, a lot of bosses have penetration.

    • RyahlRyahl says:

      You take care of the pens with your gear. I run about 620 block to take care of Penetrate.

      • Alex says:

        Yep, doing same for now.
        This priority confuse me:
        “Gear Needs
        1. defense
        2. evade
        3. phys / magic protection
        4. block”
        Well, I tried this build when start my first elites.
        Newcomers tanks (with lack of def. stats) should think about:
        1) Turbulence (+150evade)
        2) Hardcase(+150 phys/mag protection)
        And maybe change:
        1) Pulling the Strings to Provoke
        2) Crimson theatre to Reality Fracture.

        aand Sixth Sense doesnt work so great with single boss fight.
        Like author say: “You need to know boss and adapt”, but still it is solid startbuild.

        • RyahlRyahl says:

          Arctus build was one of the first nightmare tank builds to go up on these boards. Back when it was written, the theory-crafting for tanking had concluded that evade > defense > block > protection.

          That information is correct in an “all else equal” sort of way. Nightmares are NOT all else equal though. Bosses have inordinately high penetrates, meaning block is terribly more important. But that’s a known factor today, and not back then.

          For me, I started nightmares focusing on +block and +protection (relevant to monster damage types based on what I had cataloged in elite) and it worked fine. I also ran primarily hammer/chaos until literally this week. I do use a blade/chaos build for Wayeb-Xul (I need to post it), but I still focus primarily on +block and then a protection stat once I have enough block to negate penetrate and get some blocks running. I eschew evade completely, while its value on a successful evade is better than a block, it’s too rare to depend on for my tastes.

          I do make extensive use of hardcase these days.

          • psychosiz says:

            If you could post your chaos/blade build that would be great. As many people find out, finding a tank is the most difficult when seeking groups. I took it upon myself to create a tank based on bits and pieces from what others have said. Since I am beginning and didn’t realize the importance of gear, I was a squishy tank in elites with bosses that hit hard and went down like a glass cannon. Besides making your own gear, what do you recommend to get gear with defensive/block rating? Farming elites? I could make the gear myself but getting the right runes is very time consuming.

          • AelaAela says:

            I need to have Ryahl put together a write up on that build. I will try to get him to post in the next day.

          • RyahlRyahl says:

            Ok, there’s a new sword/chaos build up on the tanking area. It’s the build I’m using for my various nightmare runs.

          • RyahlRyahl says:


            Glyph gear. Glyph kits, custom tailor what you need. At elite level, even using the Romania tokens and buying blue Q9 glyph kits is better than having a better glyph with the wrong stats for your build. Start separate gear bags for Block, Defense, Evade, Magical Protection, Physical Protection and Solo. Upgrade pieces as you can and mix and match gear for the fight as needed.

            Block matters a lot in the first nightmares. Until you break 550 block, it’s your top stat for reducing damage (since everything has high penetrate). Once you can reliably break 600 block you won’t see penetrates anymore. From that point on, focus on the defensive stat that gives you the next best bang for the buck (fight to fight). Our nightmare “at a glance” slides will give you some break downs of which bosses do what type of damage.

  4. Eckzorzist says:

    TSW Builder Link –
    Viper’s Deck Manager –

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