This guide is a brief summary about the top tanks in the Steel Forged patch of Paladins.
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Tanks have been the staple picks in Paladins for as long as one can remember, making them a part of must picks and bans ever since hyper mobility was removed. This guide also goes over where the listed tanks specialise in and how they are meant to be used. I find this necessary to write as someone with around 1000 hours of tank playtime before I quit this game.
This list presents the top 7 tanks out of the currently existing 10 tanks. I'll also be attaching my main loadout to each of these tanks in this guide.
Terminus, along with all the bugs that he currently has takes the 7th spot in the list. Although he's banned from the pro league, Terminus has the potential to be an absolute destroyer in pubs. Terminus has personally been my main champ for so long that people recognize me as a onetrick terminus.
So where does Terminus excel in? What makes Term a nightmare is the fact that he's a direct counter to both Point Tanks and Blast Damagers : Inara, Barik, Drogoz, Bomb King, Dredge and Willo. Terminus denies opponent point tanks from controlling the objective or any ground by standing like an absolute savage and swinging his axe through them, and also absorbs damage and pokes the opponents back with it. This makes him a monster vs blast damage moves such as Salvo, Scuttle, Seedling, Sticky bomb and Eminence.
By using decimation, you can increase per charge's damage by 100 which is pretty high of an increase for an ability that deals 250 damage by default. So yes, by storing 4 charges you can pretty much do 1400 damage at a single go. Speak of burst meta.
Playstyle: Point Tank
Counters: Khan, Atlas, Makoa
The real terminus counters are champions from his own class and this was to be expected considering term has 0 direct counters from opposing classes and counters most of them. While Terminus is an absolute nuisance to other point tanks, he's usually beaten up by these 3 offtanks.
Why is that? Khan, Atlas, Makoa have very strong displacement abilities: Setback, Hook, Commander's grab. Since Terminus is the only melee tank ingame, him not having the position he requires is very scary if you wish to play Terminus.
Loadout: Maxed out Necromatic Might is a pretty much must have for any decimation terminus loadout. Now, there's a choice to be made: Sustain or Siphon Management . Terminus has had 2 new cards added to him a while ago: Abomination and It Watches. Both these cards are focused on refilling your siphon for either hitting your axe or hitting your charges.
Now, I find siphon management to be easier than self sustaining myself, so I tend towards the Sustain part of this by using Hulking Monstrosity and Devastation. You'll have 2 points left after this, which comes down to which filler cards you like the most.
Ash stands in a very interesting spot among all the frontlines ingame. This is due to the fact that as much great as she is against pretty much every damager, she is also equally worse against pretty much every tank. So although Ash has a low requirement for mechanical skill, she relies heavily on game sense and decision making.
So what role does Ash have ingame? Her primary goal is to avoid dueling out against tanks at all cost, since there's no tank mentioned in this list that she can successfully beat up in a tank boxing match. Does this make her weak? Absolutely not! Ash can be an absolute nightmare to all the backline hitscan damagers ingame, by shoulder bashing straight into them and bullying them. While Cassie has big game to deal with her, Lian stands no chance against Ash.
Talent: Battering Ram/Fortress Breaker
While Battering is the staple pick for her to perform her clutchy aggro plays with the high damage reduction, she's often forced to pick fortress breaker against several champions due to their ability to cancel out her shoulder bash. Obvious enough, both these talents have different loadouts and I'll be speaking only about Battering Ram in this guide.
Playstyle: Aggro Tank
Counters: Khan, Atlas, Makoa
Yes, she has the same counters as Terminus. While terminus is a point tank that gets displaced by these offtanks, it's a different case with Ash. She's unbelievably weak against these offtanks being an offtank herself. Why is that? When you'd do everything possible to pick fights against damagers, these tanks would do everything possible to pick fights against you. As you already know, Ash stands no match against any tank.
Everytime you retreat with your shoulder bash they'll be ready to cancel it out. This makes them the champions you dont pick Battering Ram against like I mentioned earlier. When these tanks are done beating you up, they'll proceed to kill your backline as well.
Loadouts: While Indomitable was initially mocked to be a weak card, it soon became a staple card in every recognized player's loadout. 50% Lifesteal whole game for a 5 point card is truly great. But dont be the kind of jerk that then purchases life rip along with it, it doesn't stack and its a trash idea. Now along with this, Ash needs Gatecrasher to reduce the cooldown of Shoulder Bash. Now for a battering ram loadout, you'd add Vanguard into this but I use Siege Engine to have a higher shield uptime. The other 2 filler cards can be anything but I prefer the ammo cards and I suggest the same.
Inara is hatsoff the best frontline in terms of soaking up damage. In fact, taking damage is her primary goal. This requires her to be paired up with a bursty healer such as Maldamba, Ying or Seris. The motive behind using her is you take all the damage and get healed up while your team hopefully gets picks on the opponents.
While other tanks get blamed for straight off rushing into the point, Inara's the type of tank that gets blamed for not rushing into the point. You grab Rejuvenate and Master Riding and then do all your job from the objective. Inara is not exceptionally good against any champion, but she's good against every champion for soaking up damage.
Talent: Mother's Grace
While crippling has been good at some point, the only go to talent right now is Mother's Grace. This adds extra 20% percentage to your already high heal receiving Earthen Guard along with crowd control immunity which can well be timed around with several opponent moves.
Playstyle: Point tank
Counters: Terminus and Blast Damagers
Inara excels at the job of holding objective so needless to say, she's countered by champions that deny objective. Terminus can beat up Inara on the point and deny her control, while blast damagers can keep spamming their abilities because Inara has no mobility: Salvo, Firespit, Firebomb, Scuttle, Sticky bomb, Dragon punch etc.
Does Inara still fight back regardless? Yes. Cooldown management is the most important thing for an Inara. Her defense either includes using her ward for blocking damage and vision or putting up her wall, turning on her earthen guard and getting healed back to full hp through a burst healer.
Loadout: I use the best Inara loadout and I don't think a single card could be a better replacement for any of these so I recommend you to use the same. It lets you have the highest sustain possible and the filler cards give you ammo that can make the opponents regret letting you free. People tend to use Sacred Ground but its actually a pretty lame card considering your loadout revolves around earthen's guard and adding a card with a 12 second cooldown to it makes it weak.
Barik made a sudden increase in the number of players after the buffs done to the base kit. He's a jack of all trades that does little bit of everything and can control any space very effectively with his abilities. Barik also occurs to be a damage player's go to champ when flexing out to tanks because of the damage output he offers when aimed well.
So what has put Barik so high in the meta suddenly? Well along with the recent buffs done to him, the jenos buff is also a factor to it. While Jenos has become a part of the meta, he isn't and never was enough to sustain an Inara. Meanwhile Barik has enough self sustain and manages to do an ever better job with the damage boost offered.
While the base kit buffs made the other 2 talents more viable, shields are still countered by wrecker and turrets are still countered by bulldozer. On the other hand, tinkerin increases base damage per second so that you can box out opponent tanks and also lets you have additional range so you can keep contributing to the fight from point.
Playstyle: Point tank
Counters: Terminus, Blast Damagers and Snipers
With the same role comes the same counters. Barik can surely deal with blast damagers better than an Inara would due to his mobility. But then there's snipers added to the list due to his head hitbox which actually makes it difficult to not land a headshot on Barik.
How are these 2 countered in the same way? While Inara takes the damage and suffering from opposing blast damage moves, Barik can avoid them but this forces him to give up on his space, whether it's the objective or the high ground.
Loadout: Barik loadouts can be fun to make but Bowling Ball and Failsafe are the bread and butter of it. Other famous cards include Healing Station for self sustain and its best to have it capped at 3 and then there's the HP card with which you can take Barik to the 4k hp pool. This leaves him with one filler card which you can totally be your choice.
Up until now, all the tanks mentioned have had counters from their own class. But what follows the list is the 3 best offtanks of all time, that can totally carry matches on their own bulk, not to mention how much better they get with a decent damager following up. These offtanks dont have any counter from their own class, and in fact counter most of the other tanks mentioned.
Atlas is the most recent frontline to join the realm and has already proven deadly. With arguably the best primary weapon and some of the most insane crowd control moves seen yet, Atlas takes the 3rd spot but this also comes along with a rather complex learning path. The sole reason why there are 2 tanks above him is because Resilience exists.
Atlas, the man out of time is pretty much all about time management. He can punish enemies by sending them back in time to the lowest hp they were and can save himself by going back in time to the highest hp he was. This kind of skillset puts him in a weird spot in terms of champions counters.
Setback is a very hard to hit ability without the usage of this talent and this makes dejavu an ideal talent pick. Not only does it increase the radius of setback but it is now also able to setback multiple enemies.
Playstyle: Aggro Tank
Counters: Damage champions that apply constant cauterize
While Atlas manages to have decent self sustain through giving himself a second chance and using a barrier that cannot be broken, Atlas is very vulnerable to damage at every other second making him an easy kill for the rapid fire damage champs such as Bomb King and Cassie.
Loadouts: Trial and Error has been the case for finding the right Atlas loadout, and some cards have eventually ended up in the staple pick. Lost Legacy was initially hyped to be a very useful card which soon got outshaded by cards which offer better features.
From being the most overpowered tank of all time during the Firing Line era, Khan has now established himself as one of the best offtanks out there. A good Khan is always a complete nuisance to all the opponents alike.
Khan has pretty much everything in his kit, from a shield that has no cooldown to a shout so strong that makes him the only tank that can heal others, from a grab that displaces opponents to an ultimate that assures a guaranteed kill when used correctly.
Talent: Storm of Bullet
While this was undervalued when Firing Line existed, its removal made people realize how strong Storm of bullets actually is. This talent makes him the tank with highest damage per second and his continuous bullet spam makes him a guaranteed killer, often ending up with more kills than the damage champs of the team.
Playstyle: Aggro tank
Counters: Damage champions that have heavy wrecker value
While all other Khan's abilities remain strong, his shield can be bursted down pretty hard with champions that get good value out of wrecker. The necessity to burst down his shield has brought in several champions like Shalin and Talus do the job. That being said, Khan can be played against any composition.
Loadouts: Having battle shout ready at an interval of every 10 seconds is one of the best possibilities out there. Matching this up with few more sustain cards makes him an unkillable monster. Receiving bonus heals when shield is up is very useful since whenever your shield is up it would usually be to get healed up. The other 2 filler cards are your choice.
Even after all the powercreep attempts of Khan and Atlas in the frontline class, the old school Makoa remains unmatched. Apart from being the best offtank in the game, Makoa also has no problem in boxing out with tanks. He is not only the strongest carry tank but also the strongest carry champion ingame.
Makoa has everything an offtank could ask for: A hook that can confirm a kill on backline, a shield that can block out any long range attempts, a spin that can escape everything and an ult that turns your death into opponent's death.
Talent: Leviathan/Half Shell
Half shell with Barrier Reef in loadout is used only when Makoa is picked up against his counters. Apart from that, Leviathan is the way to go so this summary revolves around it. Leviathan has managed to be the best talent even after the removal of additional HP, it makes up for a maxed out HP card along with providing Makoa complete CC immunity while ulting so that he isn't interrupted while getting picks on the opponents.
Playstyle: Aggro Tank
Counters: Percentage based damagers and Headshot farmers
With Makoa's huge hitbox, these counters are only natural. Percentage based damagers include Big Game Cassie, the undisputed best Makoa counter and Debilitate Skye, which has many counters in return of being a Makoa killer. Halfshell is the way to fight these two. As for headshot farmers, its those hitscans that can keep landing headshots on makoa's huge head, namely tyra and vivian. Even after having these counters, Makoa can be played into anything with proper team coordination.
Loadouts: RAMPAGE! While Nando's hot pursuit provides 40% speed for only 3 seconds, Rampage lasts for a whooping 6 seconds for every elimination you get. As long as your team keeps getting picks, you can snowball your opponents till you end up spawncamping them. Apart from this, Makoa has 4 other standard cards which pretty much everyone uses. Salvage 3 is my personal preference so having it at 1 for upgrading other cards is a fine deal.
Where is Torvald? As you might expect, Torvald cannot be put in a frontline tier list because he does nothing a frontline would and everything a support could. His only purpose is shielding a reliable damage duo, preferably one that you party with. As of now, he's stuck in a position where no one wants to play with or against him. From an objective point of view, he's overpowered in the start and gets hard countered by wrecker if the game is prolonged.