Gunbreaker Guide

Updated for Patch 5.4

Audaces Fortuna Iuvat
Torael Valdis (Torael_Valdis#8120) | Aletin Ves’ser (Aletin#3164) | Yuki Hellscythe (Yuki#0195)
Rin Karigani (Rin Karigani#0015) | Sierra Lindfeldt (Sierra#7777)
Table of Contents

Jump to...

With this guide we hope to provide everyone with an in-depth introduction to our newest Tank, Gunbreaker. 

Gunbreaker brings forth a new distinct niche on the Tank front with a rather unique, involved and nuanced rotational gameplay experience, while also providing rather unconventional mitigation and healing assistance to their healers. While not overtly sporting any obvious heals like Clemency (Paladin) or standalone shields like The Blackest Night (Dark Knight), what Gunbreaker offers is a moderate middle ground between the two.

Special thanks to Levi (Alevia#1270) for allowing us to use her Gunbreaker blob emotes for our guide. We’re comfy shooty-swordboyes and comfy blobs help get our points across!

Gameplay Overview

With Shadowbringers the biggest change across all Tanks has been the removal of the DPS/Tank stance dance. All tanks now have a generally homogenised rotation with toggleable aggro generation. In a sense, all tanks now are basically bulky DPSes with aggro tools, cooldowns and an aggro stance.

Integral to Gunbreaker’s gameplay is the presence of the Cartridge/Powder Gauge system, in which up to 2 charges can be stored at any point in time, obtained through either the completion of the standard single-target rotation (Solid Barrel), the completion of the standard area-of-effect rotation (Demon Slaughter) or the use of an oGCD (Bloodfest).

These charges can then be spent on charge-expending skills including the high-potency single-target combo (Gnashing Fang), the high-potency area-of-effect skill (Fated Circle), or a GCD rotation-padder (Burst Strike). A key part of Gunbreaker gameplay will therefore be the conscious management of Cartridges, ensuring the requisite amount of charges for timely use of high-potency charge-spenders, and ensuring that the gain of Cartridges does not overflow.

Specific to Gunbreaker is a rather unique weave-y rotation with a not-insignificant emphasis on oGCD usage and weaving. This is due to the presence of a considerable amount of oGCDs within Gunbreaker’s rotation, such as Blasting Zone, Rough Divide, Bow Shock, and the Continuation oGCDs from the Gnashing Fang combo.

Of course, for those new to Tank as a whole, we must first refer you to this guide right here:

By Aletin Ves’ser (Tonberry)

This guide covers the fundamentals and the things you have to know to perform your role as a Tank, such as enmity management, mitigation planning and positioning. Remember, with great power comes great responsibility!

Openers, Rotation and Theory

Commonly Used Terms

Cartridge Neutrality

Cartridge neutrality is a crucial term to understand to grasp the gameplay nuance of Gunbreaker.

In simple terms, when a rotation is said to be cartridge neutral, it is that the net gain or loss of cartridge charges in the rotation is zero. Any rotation with a net gain of cartridge charges is known as cartridge positive, and any rotation with a net loss of cartridge charges is known as cartridge negative.

GCD Desync

Within common parlance you may come across the term GCD Desync with regards to picking Skill Speed tiers below or above 2.40s GCD. As elaborated below the reason for picking a 2.40s GCD is to provide a sweet spot of 25 GCDs per minute for a quantifiable replicable 60s rotation.

However the 2.40s GCD is not a rigid requirement – rather, it is simply an encouraged Skill Speed tier for gearing to hit, and it is up to your own comfort level to decide whether 2.40s GCD is right for you. Where a 25-GCD rotation of 2.40s GCD lines up perfectly with the 60 second mark, 2.39s GCD and 2.38s GCD would serve a similar purpose to 2.40s, however these will not line up within your rotation as well due to GCD Desync.

Consider that 25 repetitions of a 2.40s GCD would total 60.00s in their entirety. 
Likewise, 25 repetitions of a 2.38s GCD would total 59.50s in their entirety.
Of course, 25 repetitions of a 2.42s GCD would total 60.50s in their entirety.

With an offset of only 0.02s in your GCD either way, a 60-second rotation would have a drift of 0.50s either way, and after only 5 minutes it would cause a desync of an entire GCD from the hard 60s cooldown of No Mercy, our most important buff. Over a long enough period this can pose a problem, where No Mercy would not cover the entirety of a burst window, and therefore it is only recommended that differing Skill Speed tiers be used only to mitigate the effect of latency on your own GCD drift. Where your own 60-second rotation at 2.40s (standard conditions) might take longer than 60 seconds, a shorter GCD will help to bring your GCD usages in line.

There are, of course, builds that deviate significantly from this 2.40s rule of thumb. Of course, each build has their own merit, and it will be a tad difficult to explain reasoning here, therefore please send questions to the Balance.

Openers

Openers are designed to do a few very important things:
1. Gets abilities on cooldown as soon as possible. This keeps us from sitting on skills that are ready which could potentially cause lost uses.

2. Gets strong abilities under raid buffs. This helps to maximize damage done. More damage is more better!

3. Sets up our rotation for the rest of the fight (or until a transition/extended period of downtime). This is especially important for fight specific optimizations and using the right opener may gain a use of important abilities like the Gnashing Fang combo.

 

Because openers will change tier-to-tier and fight-to-fight, please refer to the #gnb_resources channel in The Balance for the most up to date openers.

GCD Rotations

Keen Edge Combo

Your standard 1-2-3 combo and generates 1 cartridge via Solid Barrel, which will likely be spent on Gnashing Fang or Burst Strike whenGnashing Fang is on cooldown.

Keen Edge
Brutal Shell
Solid Barrel

Will not interrupt combo: Cartridge Combo, Burst Strike, Fated Circle, Sonic Break

Cartridge Combo

The 3 GCDs in this combo give buffs that change Continuation into Jugular Rip, Abdomen Tear and Eye Gouge.
Gnashing Fang requires a cartridge to execute, so be sure to have at least one ready for when Gnashing Fang is about to come off of cooldown.
Gnashing Fang has a 30 second cooldown that can be reduced with Skill Speed, and its cooldown can be calculated by this equation: 

GCD recast ÷ 2.5 × 30

Because of the Skill Speed reduction, every Gnashing Fang will occur slightly faster than 30 seconds, and over time will dealign from No Mercy and party buffs. To combat this an extra GCD is required to realign once every 2 Gnashing Fang uses.

Gnashing Fang
Jugular Rip
Savage Claw
Abdomen Tear
Wicked Talon
Eye Gouge

Without No Mercy:
1650p
    840p
Total: 2490p

Within No Mercy:
1980p
    1008p
Total: 2988p

Will not interrupt combo: 
Burst Strike, Fated Circle, Sonic Break

Burst Strike
Burst Strike

Your single GCD cartridge spender. To be used to prevent overcapping of cartridges or to spend cartridges during No Mercy and other buff windows when Gnashing Fang is on cooldown.

Without No Mercy:
500p

Within No Mercy:
600p

Sonic Break
Sonic Break

Your GCD DoT. Should be aligned with No Mercy every time for the extra 20% damage increase. Cooldown can be calculated by this equation 

GCD recast ÷ 2.5 × 60

Much like Gnashing Fang, Sonic Break’s cooldown is reduced by Skill Speed and thus will dealign itself from No Mercy and other party buffs. To combat this an extra GCD is required to realign every Sonic Break use.

Without No Mercy:
1200p at full duration

Within No Mercy:
1440p at full duration

AOE Combo

Demon Slaughter generates a cartridge that will likely be spent on Fated Circle.
This combo beats Keen Edge combo at 2 targets

Demon Slice
Demon Slaughter

Without No Mercy:
400p / target

Will not interrupt combo: 
Burst Strike, Fated Circle, Sonic Break

Within No Mercy:
480p / target

Fated Circle
Fated Circle

AoE Burst Strike. Spends 1 cartridge.
Beats Burst Strike at 2 targets.
Beats Gnashing Fang combo at 4 targets.

Without No Mercy:
320p / target

Within No Mercy:
384p / target

oGCDs

Blasting Zone
Blasting Zone

A standard damage oGCD.
Use on cooldown.

Align with buffs like No Mercy as much as possible.

Without No Mercy:
800p

Within No Mercy:
960p

Bow Shock
Bow Shock

Standard damage oGCD, but with a DoT rather than a flat damage and hits in a 5 yalm AoE. 
Use on cooldown.

Align with buffs like No Mercy as much as possible, however, holding a use to hit additional targets can be a DPS gain.

Without No Mercy:
650p / target at full duration

Within No Mercy:
780p / target at full duration

Rough Divide
Rough Divide

Gunbreaker’s very own Gap closer. Comes with a charge system, which just means that you may stack up to 2 uses to be used in any way you wish. 

Intended use is for closing gaps to increase your uptime.
However, this is not always DPS optimal as there may not be a need to use a gap closer. Optimal use would be saving both charges generated each minute and use them inside of No Mercy and other buffs.

Without No Mercy: 200p

Within No Mercy: 240p

As such Rough Divide comes with a priority system.

  1. Don’t sit on 2 charges for too long – this is the same as sitting on any other oGCD once its cooldown is complete
  2. Use Rough Divide as a gap closer to increase your uptime
  3. Use as many charges of Rough Divide as you can within No Mercy and other buffs.

Buffs

Bloodfest

Bloodfest

Each Bloodfest generates 2 cartridges and must be used when you have 0 cartridges as to not lose any to overcapping. Use on cooldown.

When Bloodfest aligns with No Mercy, every 3 minutes, a special No Mercy is possible. In it the Gnashing Fang combo falls within the Solid Barrel combo, which then allows us 2 ammo for Burst Strike causing four Burst Strikes to fall within the No Mercy window through appropriate Bloodfest placement at the end of the first two Burst Strikes.
Each of these special No Mercy windows will look somewhat like this.

No Mercy

No Mercy

Each No Mercy window lasts 20 seconds and should contain 9 GCDs.

GCDs

1 Keen Edge -> Brutal Shell -> Solid Barrel
1 Gnashing Fang -> Savage Claw -> Wicked Talon
2 Burst Strike
1 Sonic Break 

oGCDs

2 Rough Divide
1 Bow Shock
1 Blasting Zone

To correctly perform this, each No Mercy must be executed in the second oGCD slot of the GCD, with 2 cartridges ready before Solid Barrel. This allows you to get all 9 GCDs and provides 3 cartridges for use within No Mercy.

It does not matter which GCD No Mercy is used after as long as you have 2 cartridges ready. As long as you keep your GCD rolling you will always receive those 9 GCDs.

Below we elaborate on the different ways your No Mercy window can pan out.

Standard (No Bloodfest)

This is the standard No Mercy window that should be done in a regular scenario. As every other Gnashing Fang coincides with a No Mercy use its use should come as soon as possible after No Mercy to keep both cooldowns in sync. Double weaves are expected in windows like these to, ideally, front-load damage into a burst window depending on buff alignments.

Forced 1 Cartridge (No Bloodfest)

Most No Mercy windows are built upon the assumption that you are going into each window with two cartridges saved up. There are some cases where you are basically completely unable to do so, however. This scenario assumes the conditions that you have No Mercy coming up in 1 GCD, yet 2 cartridges before Solid Barrel, forcing you to have to offload one cartridge through Burst Strike before entering No Mercy.

Standard (Bloodfest)

With the availability of Bloodfest in your No Mercy window this opens you up to having another two Burst Strikes to play around with. As long as you do not encounter any clipping or GCD drift, you will be able to execute all 9 GCDs within the No Mercy window for the highest possible potency.

Rinfest (Adjusted Bloodfest Window)

This is a much less common use of a No Mercy window, in which there is a forced desync between the normal No Mercy window timings and the Gnashing Fang combo. In this case, the Gnashing Fang combo takes place later on in the window with Sonic Break and Bow Shock taking its place at the front end of the window. The Burst Strike after the dots is to reduce the amount of cartridges to 1 for the Gnashing Fang combo to consume, which is then replenished immediately after with Bloodfest.

Rotation Priorities

Before most of the other content of the guide there are a few fundamental points to remember to keep your numbers high. There are always places to optimize, and these should provide a quick reference in case you may find yourself at a loss.

  1. Wherever you are on your rotation, use No Mercy on cooldown as much as possible. No matter which part of the combo you are on, a 20% increase on even Keen Edge is better than delaying No Mercy and potentially losing a use.
  2. Likewise with Gnashing Fang and Blasting Zone, using them even when your buffs aren’t aligned properly is still a bigger gain than delaying them and potentially losing a use.
  3. As will be mentioned below, try to fit a Gnashing Fang combo, Blasting Zone, Sonic Break, and 2 Rough Divides every No Mercy window if possible – but of course, if using Rough Divide outside of No Mercy gets you extra GCDs use it that way instead.
  4. Use Bloodfest on cooldown as much as possible.
  5. Aim to enter every No Mercy window with 2 carts as much as possible.

The 60 Second Rotation

The 60 second rotation is what you do as Gunbreaker as it is the cooldown of No Mercy, Sonic Break, and is every second Gnashing Fang

At the base GCD of 2.5 seconds. Every 60 seconds is 24 GCDs and we can work out what to fit in there from what we require.

6 GCDs of Gnashing Fang -> Savage Claw -> Wicked Talon
1 GCD of Sonic Break

This gives us 17 GCDs left to fill.

We want at least 2 Cartridges for Gnashing Fang. That means:

6 GCDs of  Keen Edge -> Brutal Shell -> Solid Barrel

We now have 11 more GCDs to fill.

Because we want to run cartridge neutral so we can perpetuate this indefinitely, every Solid Barrel from here must come with a Burst Strike also, even if they aren’t directly next to each other.

8 GCDs of Keen Edge -> Brutal Shell -> Solid Barrel -> Burst Strike

We have 3 GCDs left, which we can fit another Keen Edge -> Brutal Shell -> Solid Barrel, but this means we will be running a cartridge positive, which will lead us to overcapping and/or delays in rotation. If we add an extra GCD of Burst Strike right now at the 2.5s base GCD to maintain cartridge neutrality, we overshoot the boundary of our 60s rotation and end up having a 62.5-second rotation, desyncing No Mercy.

We need to add Skill Speed to be able to do this extra GCD of Burst Strike per minute, and thus run cartridge neutral. That means 25 GCDs per minute.

60 ÷ 25 = 2.4

We want a 2.4 second GCD to run cartridge neutral.

But how does this affect Gnashing Fang and  Sonic Break?

But how does this affect Gnashing Fang and  Sonic Break?

Using their equations, we can calculate the cooldowns these abilities will have.

Gnashing Fang

2.4 ÷ 2.5 × 30 = 28.8

Sonic Break

2.4 ÷ 2.5 × 60 = 57.6

Both of these abilities are reduced below 60s and will dealign over time when used on cooldown by approximately 2.4 seconds per minute, so they are delayed by a single GCD (2.4 seconds) per minute, which is the Burst Strike that we reduced our GCD time to fit into the rotation and keep ourselves cartridge neutral.

Therefore, Every minute we have

5 Keen Edge -> Brutal Shell -> Solid Barrel
2 Gnashing Fang -> Savage Claw -> Wicked Talon
3 Burst Strike
1 Sonic Break

The use of Bloodfest does change this around slightly but it should maintain the general theory. We come to…

The 3 minute loop

We’ve established the 60 second rotation that doesn’t include Bloodfest use. If we are to include Bloodfest we have to create a 3 minute loop as it is the lowest common multiple of 60 seconds (No Mercy) and 90 seconds (Bloodfest). This means we can perform our opener again at the 3 minute mark, which is the special No Mercy with Bloodfest as detailed earlier.

Each 3 minute loop contains, 3 of the 60 second loops

5 Keen Edge -> Brutal Shell -> Solid Barrel
2 Gnashing Fang -> Savage Claw -> Wicked Talon
3 Burst Strike
1 Sonic Break

Along with 2 uses of Bloodfest, which adds 4 cartridges, and thus 4 extra Burst Strike. But this means we are 4 GCDs over a 3 minute loop, what GCDs do we drop? 

We drop a Keen Edge -> Brutal Shell -> Solid Barrel combo, this uses up 3 of the 4 extra cartridges we have, and it also lowers our total cartridges by 1 because we didn’t use Solid Barrel. So we only technically generate 3 cartridges from 2 uses of Bloodfest as we need to not generate one via Solid Barrel to fit in the extra Burst Strikes.

And thus, each 3 minute loop will contain:

14 Keen Edge -> Brutal Shell -> Solid Barrel
6 Gnashing Fang -> Savage Claw -> Wicked Talon
12 Burst Strike
3 Sonic Break

Mitigation and Enmity

This doesn’t include information about mitigation and enmity control as we see it as a general tanking skill rather than specific to Gunbreaker. Please refer to the General Tanking Guide which goes over this topic in detail, telling you how it works and how to properly manage each tool individually and as a whole set.

Theory Wrap-up

A basic way to summarise everything here would be: 

  1. Use the Keen Edge combo to generate cartridges.
  2. Use Gnashing Fang when it’s off cooldown – Try to keep aligned with buffs
  3. Remember to use Continuation after every GCD of the Gnashing Fang combo.
  4. If Gnashing Fang is on CD, then spend cartridges on Burst Strike. Hold at least 1 cartridge if Gnashing Fang is under 10 seconds away.
  5. Keep your oGCDs rolling and aligned with buffs.
  6. No Mercy should contain as many cartridge spenders as possible along with Sonic Break.

Stats, Itemisation and BiS Theory

Gunbreaker’s stat priority is as follows:

Strength >>>
Skill Speed (1) > Critical Hit > Direct Hit (Meld) >
Determination (Gear) > Tenacity > Skill Speed (2)

Skill Speed is a weird one. Gunbreaker does not scale too well with excessive Skill Speed. Getting Skill Speed in a few slots with raid-tier gearing is somewhat unavoidable, therefore Gunbreaker’s relationship with Skill Speed and the general requirement of a 2.40s GCD for cartridge-neutral rotation will have to be considered when itemising for Gunbreaker in particular.

As such, to explain Skill Speed’s two spots on the priority list, prioritise achieving the GCD you require for a comfortable rotation (#1) (2.40s or slightly shorter), before the other stats in the aforementioned order. Any excessive Skill Speed (#2) is as such discouraged to prevent excessive desync from our 1-minute and 3-minute rotation intervals. In this sense, your Skill Speed will therefore have to suit the gear you have at the current point.

With the state of 5.2 gearing Critical Hit outstrips Direct Hit for melding. Where you can meld Critical Hit, meld Critical Hit – otherwise fill the slot with Direct Hit instead. As tanks are not given any Direct Hit native to their gear, it is virtually impossible for you to run out of places to meld either stat. As such, Determination has not been factored into melding. Nevertheless, Determination remains comparable to Direct Hit in terms of point-for-point significance, and there may be cases where Determination is melded in one slot over Direct Hit due to the fulfillment of a breakpoint.

With 5.2, this priority applies to all stages of the gearing process (i480 -> i500).

For the current BiS sets, please refer to the Gunbreaker BiS Gearsets spreadsheet linked here and in the Quick References list.

Changelog and Credits

v4.58Guide created.
v5.00Update complete.Reworked Stats, Itemisation and BiS Theory section.Added Stat Priority and explanation.Added example BiS gearing and melds.Reworked Openers, Rotation and Theory section.Reworked layout for Openers and added elaboration.
v5.01Update complete.Updated Stats, Itemisation and BiS Theory section.
v5.01bUpdate complete.Updated Openers, Rotation and Theory section.
v5.05Update complete.Updated Stats, Itemisation and BiS Theory section for Savage gear.Reworked layout for greater readability.
v5.05bUpdate complete.Reworked Table of Contents as Quick References.
v5.08Update complete.Moved Abilities, Combos, oGCDs and Utility to an external Quick Reference.
v5.20Update complete.Updated Stats, Itemisation and BiS Theory section for 5.2 gearing.Updated Openers, Rotation and Theory section with updated Openers.

Special thanks to:

  • Ferrellion#4798 for the opener images and the text formatting ideas.
  • Levi (Alevia#1270) for allowing us to use her Gunbreaker blob emotes for our guide.
  • Mox Xinmagar (Mox#0007),
    Akiva Myriam (Bec#5175),
    scubasteve#3267 and
    Damelia Lhea (Lhea#7581) for providing their insights and research into openers and rotational iterations. 

Site Feedback

Noticed something broken? Noticed something great? Have comments you want to share? Fill out the form below to share your thoughts on the site.