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Iron Will is an action available to Gladiators and Paladins in Final Fantasy XIV. It basically toggles your tank stance on and off, allowing you to manage the amount of enmity you’re generating (sometimes referred to as aggro or hate).
Enmity is an important factor in tanking.
It’s essentially an invisible number that enemies use to determine which order to attack the party in. Gladiators – who become Paladins at level 30 – are XIV’s classic tank.
They wield a sword and shield, have a bunch of utility actions to protect and heal the party, and most of their abilities have words like “Divine”, “Holy”, or “Clemency” in there somewhere.
As far as tanks go, Paladin is the quintessential job.
They’re the classic knight at the front of the party, leading the charge.
When Should I Use Iron Will?
You should make sure Iron Will is on whenever you’re supposed to be tanking:
Dungeons, trials, raids etc.
Have it somewhere easily accessible at all times.
Generally, once it’s on, you don’t want it to get turned off – this is surprisingly easy to do if you have it mapped to a hotkey that’s in line with all your other abilities.
Believe me, it does happen. Heat of battle, rushing out the rotation, your fingers might just clip the edge of the key and all of a sudden the enemies aren’t interested in eating your face – the healer’s looks much tastier.
This can cause encounters to go sideways very quickly. But luckily, Iron Will’s enmity generation increase is significant enough to recover just as fast.
I have three hotbars I use for combat in tanking.
The first is for my single target rotation, the second is for AOE and situational abilities, and the third is for damage mitigation.
I have mitigation abilities on the first four or five keys, and my tank stance button all the way at the other end on the = key.
It’s still accessible, but I’m not likely to turn it off or on accidentally.
Iron Will makes sure that enemies stay focused on you while DPS jobs chip away at their health, and the healer can restore yours in peace.
It’s not a magic button, though.
You’ll have to keep up your attacks and “pull” new enemies by attacking or taunting them to make sure you’re at the top of their hate list.
One thing that always caught me out, though:
Level syncing for duties deactivates your tank stance.
So if you’re queuing through the duty finder and your level gets synced down, remember to turn it back on before you start any fights.
When Shouldn’t I Use Iron Will?
It’s more or less pointless if you’re adventuring alone – grinding out quests or other single player activities.
It’s not really going to be any detriment if you have it turned on in this situation, it’s just not something to worry about.
The most obvious case is duties that require multiple tanks.
Most trials require eight players, and the party will comprise two tanks, two healers, and four DPS. In some of these situations, tactics will require a “main tank” and an “off tank”.
The main tank will hold the boss’ enmity, and the off tank will look after other mechanics.
If you’re the off tank, don’t use Iron Will! At least not from the start of the fight.
In my experience it’s usually safe to toggle it on once the main tank has gotten a few combos off. They’ll have a big head start on aggro.
Some tactics involve switching tanks – so the main tank will spend their cooldowns early on in a fight, and potentially be in a position where they won’t have any left to mitigate a tankbuster.
In these situations, the main tank would use Shirk to pass enmity to the off tank and deactivate their own tank stance.
The off tank would then activate Iron Will (for example) and maybe throw in a Provoke too to take over as the boss’ main focus.
Sometimes tank swapping will be mandatory – as in, do it or die horribly.
Sometimes it can just work better for the group if it’s implemented.
If you’re ever in doubt, ask.
Arrange who’s going to be the main and off tank before the boss is pulled, so both of you know what you’re doing and nobody’s competing for enmity.