Dark Souls 3 – Tank Build

Do you want to be able to take on full blasts of Crystal Soul Spear, and Soul Stream without a flinch?! Do you want to invade one against three Ultra Greatsword wielding scrubs, having them hammer away, without breaking guard?! Do you want to be able to take on the full aggro of Bosses, defending the weak and innocent souls, without losing a point of HP or Stamina?!!!

Then let’s talk Tank.

Why Tank?

Most builds in Dark Souls 3 revolve around quick rolling and high Damage-Per-Second. The focus relies heavily on timing. Unlike its predecessors, in DS 3.

  • Poise heavily linked to attack animations.
  • Armor is weakened and un-upgradable.
  • Bosses/enemies are quicker, and far more aggresive.
  • Enemies are (generally) a lot less predictable. 

Alternative builds are much more difficult to manage, early on, leaving many to return to the “tried and true”. But a Tank build is still incredibly viable, and in the long run will make Dark Souls 3 a walk in the part.

Reasons to Tank:

  • Less dodging or worring about iframes.
  • Less focus on timing.
  • Invincible while shield is up and buffed (60-84 seconds at a time).
  • Can withstand more damage.
  • Can recoup better from mistakes.
  • Excellent for assisting in Boss Battles.
  • Excellent for backstabs.
  • In PvP, players will often exhaust themselves trying to break your guard. Easy punishment. 

Weaknesses of Tank:

  • PvP duels can take much longer.
  • Bleed builds can break through your Tank defense.
  • Certain weapons, including those with shield piercing or area of effect, can still get through.
  • You must be wise in when to let down your guard.

Attribute Guide

Strength: 50. Not a point more. Not a point less. The most important aspect of Strength, in allowing you to carry the Tankiest shield.

Intelligence: 10. Not a point more. Not a point less. This will allow you to use “Magic Shield”.

Vitality: At least 40 , probably more. Vitality adds both to your physical defense, as well as your equipment load. Your Tanky shield is heavy, your strength weapon will mostly likely be heavy too. Any equipment load left over will be taken up by your Tankiest armor

Vigor: 27-36. A little underpowered, but still important. Remember that your estus flask at max will only heal for 600HP. A large health pool is mainly required to give you a few extra hits before chugging. In total, a chugging Tank can endure 7000 damage at Vigor 27, but only 7157 at Vigor 36. Beyond Vigor 36, the returnes drastically diminish. But with a range of between 27 and 36, you should be able to take a number of direct heavy hits without dying.

Attunement: 10-18. You want at least one slot for your shield. The extra will allow you to cast for a couple extra buffs. Deep Protection and Sacred Oath will give you an extra 15% damage, and extra 15% damage reduction, additional stamina, and additional resistance. Well worth the investment, in certain situations.

Faith: 0-30. Depends on which spells you hope to use, and what levels you have to spare. Often beneficial over extra vitality/vigor.

Endurance: 20+/-. This determines for a Tank how many swings you’ll get in, once your opponent has exhausted their stamina. Ideally, adjust according to the stamina requirements of your favorite weapon. 20 will get you in three swings of the heavier weapons.

Dexterity: 0-25. Around 10 is the basic requirement for most Tank weapons. A higher dexterity can be useful, in allowing you to use less Tanky weapons in exchange for Tankier armor.

Luck: 0. “Where we’re going, we don’t need luck.” The only instances where this stat miiight be useful for TANK is with Anri’s Straight Sword, or the spiked mace. But there are plenty of better alternatives.


Moaning Shield: Your primary shield, forever and ever. You can get access to it very early on, by murdering Morne. What makes this shield awesome? At +5 reinforcement, it has a stabability of the magic number 82. What’s so magical about the number 82? It allows you to bring it up to 100, with a cast of magic shield. Magic shield lasts 60 seconds, increasing to 84 seconds with the Lingering Dragoncrest Ring +2. During that time, any and all attacks will be blocked without your stamina being drained so much as a tick. It’s also got AMAZING resistance to all elemental damage. I have taken a full blast of Soul Stream, with less than 5% of my health lost. The nameless king’s attacks are a breeze as well.

The second reason why this shield is so AWESOME, is for the help it can be in jolly Co-operation. Its special grants the same effect as the skull ring, bring boss aggro away from the puny non-tanks onto you. You can hide behind your MOANING SHIELD, while your “special” friends slowly chip away at the bosses health.

Alternative Shields, worth mentioning:

Black Knight Shield: Farm this, as soon as you reach the Crucifixion Woods. It requires only Strength 18, and is hands down the best regular shield in the game. VERY high stabability for its requirements. Excellent resistance against fire, outclassed only by the Black Iron Greatshield. Stabability will reach 100% with Great Magic Shield, but for only 30-42 seconds, and requiring 18 intelligence.

Greatshield of GLORY: Useable at Strength 40, and with exceptional stabability (100% at +2 with magic shield). Sub-par elemental reduction. Also, it greatly reduces stamina regen. Use only is below 50 STR.

Black Iron Greatshield: Infuse with a fire gem, fully upgraded, will provide 99% fire damage reduction, while lowering the physical damage reduction to 95%. Useful, in certain circumstances.

Dragonslayer Greatshield: 100% physical reduction, 95% lightning reduction. This will make the Dragonslayer Armour and Nameless king a cakewalk. Other than that, its uses are limited.

Cathedral Knight Greatshield: Infused with deep, you have 99% dark reduction and 95% physical damage. Very situational.

Lothric Knight Greatshield: Great against magic, but infusion does NOT bring it up to 99%.

Havel’s Greatshield: Best resistances. VERY situational weapon art. Very heavy. Less stabability than the MOANING SHIELD +5. Not recommended.

Equipment Recommendations


Weapon choice all depends on your stats and preference.

At 50 STR and 10 DEX

  • Yohrm’s Great Machete +5 will give you the highest AR at 633. 
  • Lorian’s Greatsword, and the Dragonslayer Greataxe are excellent for non-physical damage. 
  • A Heavy Broadsword +10 will bring you over 400AR. This will allow you swing quick and light, in addition to allowing for resin buffs. 

Remember, you will be able to buff your weapons only through the pine bundles, and not through spells (lest your shield become un-TANKED).


  • Havel’s Ring, for maximum equipment load. 
  • Lingering Dragoncrest Ring for longer shield invincibility and longer self-buffs. 
  • Ring of Steel Protection, for MOAR TANK. 
  • The last ring in purely situational, but for the most part I go with the Chloranthy Ring. 


  • Magic Shield: The only MUST. It will be able to make your MOANING SHIELD unstoppable for 60-84 seconds. 
  • Deep Protection: +5% bonus to AR. 
  • Sacred Oath: +10% bonus to AR and Damage Reduction. Stacks with Deep Protection. 
  • Tears of Denial: Overwrites the two spells above. Still useful if your faith is before 15. 
  • Gradual HP restoration spells are not recommended, as the lingering dragoncrest ring will slow down the HP per second gain (the amount gained in total will remain the same. 

Lastly, for a catalyst, always use the Crystal Chime. For self buffs, and shield buffs, it doesn’t matter one wit that you’re missing the required stats. The chime works with both the magic shield spell, and any faith-buffs you choose.

Volodymyr Azimoff
About Volodymyr Azimoff 13544 Articles
I love games and I live games. Video games are my passion, my hobby and my job. My experience with games started back in 1994 with the Metal Mutant game on ZX Spectrum computer. And since then, I’ve been playing on anything from consoles, to mobile devices. My first official job in the game industry started back in 2005, and I'm still doing what I love to do.

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