Sandora the Shieldmaiden – part 3: becoming a tank

In my character articles Sandora the Shieldmaiden – part 1: Inspiration, and Sandora the Shieldmaiden – part 2: Practice, I experimented with the shield and the effectiveness of the block skill in combat.   In today’s article I will be talking about how her playstyle has changed and what it looks like now.



(Sandora (left) and Uthgerd (right))

Taking a hit, and healing up

As I continued to progress with Sandora, I noticed that it was better to focus on tanking hits and surviving a battle instead of getting engrossed in the combat itself and dealing damage. I noticed in a particularly difficult encounter that I had to put away Sandora’s weapon and switched it out for the basic heal spell from the Restoration school of magic. I was pleasantly surprised to see how effective it was in combination with her heavy armor and shield in making Sandora a tank.

Putting the weapon down

So after trying out one-handed weapons and unarmed combat with a shield, I decided to equip heal and shield and enter battle, provoking enemies to attack Sandora instead of Uthgerd, and let Uthgerd flank and deal the damage.  The two characters had finally found an equilibrium, where one dealt the damage and the other soaked it up.  To my surprise not only was this a viable way to play it was also incredibly fun.  Sandora could stand in the middle of a fight, getting pummeled by enemies in all directions and not sweat it, slowly healing up and stunning her enemies with an occasional shield bash dealing minor damage; but more importantly opening up the enemy for a devastating power attack from Uthgerd.

sandora-pt-3-combat-sisters(Sandora tanking damage and Uthgerd taking enemies to task )

Sandora the Sturdy Shieldmaiden 

Sandora’s playstyle changed a lot; from losing her identity as Uthgerd’s companion, to returning to her side.  With the introduction of Restoration magic Sandora has truly become a tank and provided a space for Uthgerd to shine in combat.  Sandora’s primary focus is on initiating fights and getting the attention of every potential enemy within an area and taking the damage.  Her use of heavy armor to provide a base layer of protection, shield and block equipment and skills to help taunt and disrupt enemies, and Restoration magic to stay in the fight long enough to give Uthgerd the opportunity to take out the distracted enemies.

  • Block:
    • Key Skills used:
      • Power Bash – Able to do a power bash.
      • Deadly Bash – Bashing does five times more damage.
      • Deflect Arrows – Arrows that hit the shield do no damage.
  • Heavy Armor:
    • Key Skills used:
      • Well Fitted – 25% Armor bonus if wearing all Heavy Armor: head, chest, hands, feet.
      • Tower of Strength – 50% less stagger when wearing only Heavy Armor.
      • Reflect Blows – 10% chance to reflect melee damage back to the enemy while wearing all Heavy Armor: head, chest, hands, feet.
  • Restoration:
    • Skills & Spells used:
      • Respite – Healing spells also restore Stamina
      • Healing – To heal Sandora after tanking damage.
      • Healing Hands – To heal up Uthgerd if she falls into a downed state.

Below is some gameplay footage of my favorite moments using Sandora’s block, heal, heavy armor tanking playstyle.  In it you can see Sandora facing off against some wolves, tanking against bandits in camps as well as dungeons with Uthgerd flanking the enemy for a swift kill, and even shield bashing a dragon.

This is the third installment in my character series titled Sandora the Shieldmaiden, if you enjoyed it please feel free to read through the other articles within the series. I welcome discussion on this topic and if you have experiences of your own you wish to share please do so in the comments below, or write in to

Andrew Mantilla is a ludologist and video game journalist for Play Professor.  You can check out more of his content on FacebookTwitterInstagramand Youtube.

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