Tanking is the act of taking damage in order to protect other players from it. It generally means receiving the heaviest damage, be it monster or another player.
Tanking does not necessarily mean that the tank takes all the damage. For example, in addition to attacking the main target, Nex also uses a magic attack directed at every player near her, dealing damage to everyone fighting her.
The tank is a very important player in a team fighting a boss monster, and if the tank fails to perform their role adequately, the rest of the team members become susceptible to attacks they were not meant to receive.
For example, in addition to all the special attacks used, Vorago uses two autoattacks, a melee attack against his main target and a magic attack against the player standing farthest from him. Players designate the roles of "base tank" and "bomb tank", who intentionally make themselves the targets of the boss's autoattacks so the rest of the team, typically DPS players, do not receive autoattack damage.
If the designated tank dies or performs their job poorly, the boss will randomly attack another player who will begin to receive its autoattacks. If unprepared, this player will likely die.
Boss autoattacks tend to be powerful and deal damage in the thousands, necessitating the use of Defence abilities.
- Incite is a Constitution ability that causes the user's attacks to generate additional threat, making them more likely to be targeted. This ability is a toggle for a persistent buff, should only be used before starting a fight.
- Provoke forces the target to attack the user instead of other players, enabling tanks to maintain the monster's aggression on them and therefore protect other players from higher damage.
- Anticipation reduces damage taken by 10% for its duration and prevents stuns, making it a useful ability for slight damage reduction as well as for avoiding stuns.
- Freedom removes all stuns and binds and gives further immunity to them for 6 seconds and also removes any current damage over time effects. At Beastmaster Durzag and Yakamaru, this ability is also used to reduce enrage stacks the tank accumulates through the fight.
- Resonance (requires a shield) is an ability that makes next received attack heal the player for the amount of damage it would have dealt otherwise, making it a way to both negate damage and reduce food consumption. For some attacks, typically ones that deal soft typeless damage, Resonance only negates the damage while healing a 0.
- Preparation (requires a shield) makes every damaging hit taken in 10 seconds reduce Resonance's cooldown by 3 seconds, making it an ability that complements Resonance.
- Debilitate (a shield extends the duration) halves the damage the target deals towards the user for 8-13 seconds. It is used when a single enemy deals high amounts of damage. Its disadvantage is that it must successfully hit the target in order to take effect, making it less useful against targets with high defence.
- Reflect (requires a shield) halves damage received for 10 seconds and reflects the remaining half to the assailant. This both reduces damage taken while simultaneously increasing damage the user deals. However, numerous bosses are immune to reflect damage.
- Devotion increases Protection prayers' and Deflect Curses' effectiveness to near 100% for 10 seconds, which allows the use of a two-handed or off-hand weapon for its duration.
- Revenge (requires a shield) is an ability that allows you to deal higher damage depending on how many hits you receive in its duration. This can be very helpful in situations where wearing a shield constantly is required in order to make up for the lower damage output the shield causes.
- Barricade (requires a shield) blocks all damage for maximum of 10 seconds, the duration scaling with the tier of the shield. A duration of 13 seconds can be achieved with the Turtling perk. Barricade is used when a large of damage, including typeless damage, is received in a short period of time.
- Immortality (requires a shield) reduces received damage by 25% for 30 seconds and revives the user to 40% of their maximum life points if their life points reach 0, in which case the ability immediately ends. It can be used a substitute for Barricade if the former is on cooldown. It can also revive the player from Telos, the Warden's instant kill bomb if under 1,000% enrage.
- Rejuvenate (requires a shield) heals the user 40% of their maximum life points and fully restores drained stats. This ability is rarely used, since the Enhanced Excalibur heals the same amount at no cost to adrenaline. However, Achto armour does not reset Excalibur's cooldown but does reset Rejuvenate's, which can result in large amounts of healing if the armour activates often enough.
Despite the name, Tank armour is rarely used over Power armour while tanking. This is because the damage boost from using Power armour allows the boss to be killed faster, resulting in less damage taken overall comparable to wearing Tank armour. The only exception to this are Primeval, Tempest and Teralith armours that have set effects such as increased damage while wearing a shield and a chance to reset cooldowns of Defensive abilities, which together with their high defensive stats make them a viable option for tanking.
When tanking, shields are often used as a switch when using a defensive ability that requires a shield is needed. As such, shields like Merciless, Vengeful and Malevolent kiteshield are most commonly used as they provide the best results with abilities that scale with the level of the shield.
- For consistent tanking with shield, Arcane, Elysian and Divine Spirit Shields can be used instead for their 30% damage reduction. Using these shields drains Prayer by an amount equal to 6% of the received damage.
- When both tanking and being able to deal high damage is extremely important, Defenders can be used instead of shield. Defenders act as both a shield and an off-hand weapon, with the drawback of only having stats of a shield and an off-hand half of its tier. For example, a tier 90 Kalphite defender equals a tier 45 shield and off-hand weapon. Defenders also boost accuracy by +3% and have a chance of blocking 50%-100% of a hit while increasing accuracy of your next hit by +20%.
Some perks can reduce damage players take.
- Enhanced Devoted and Devoted mimic the Devotion ability. Enhanced Devoted 3 has an activation rate of 13.5% (14.85% with a level 20 item), which significantly reduces melee, magic, and ranged damage taken.
- Turtling increases Barricade's duration but increases its cooldown. Achto armour can negate the tradeoff.
- Crystal Shield stores a portion of the damage the player takes as a pool of life points, which reduce damage from further attacks by the amount stored.
- Absorbative has a 20% chance of reducing a hit by 5% per rank, effectively reducing damage by 1% per rank. It does not reduce hard typeless damage.
- Lucky has a 0.5% chance per rank to reduce a hit to 1 damage.
There are a few pieces of jewellery that can help to reduce received damage, making them potentially good choices for tanking.
- The Amulet of Souls allows Protection prayers to block 60% damage instead of the usual 50%. It also increases Soul Split's healing by an average of 18.75%, as well as possessing the highest damage bonuses for any neck slot item in the game.
- The Superior leviathan ring has a 5% chance to block 50% of the damage of a received hit. It can be used if the damage reduction effect becomes more useful than the Asylum surgeon's ring and the Ring of death's offensive bonuses.