A Death Knight specialized in Blood protects their allies with crude power, dark magic and various manipulations with the enemy’s blood. Unlike that of many other tanks of different classes, Death Knight’s tanking model is more bound to receiving damage and instantly restoring it.
Let’s take a closer look at the weakest and the strongest aspects of this specialization:
- High self-healing;
- Opportunity to grant the self-healing effect to their group;
- Nice continuous damage decrease;
- Opportunity to kite on a small area;
- Low mobility;
- Average surviving from frequent magic damage;
Basic information on the spec:
Like any other Death Knight spec, this one uses 2 resources: Runes and Runic Power (hereinafter, RP). Runes should always be ready before the combat. After being used, Runes start to restore. Only 3 Runes can be restoring at the same time. Rune’s restoring speed depends on Haste value. Runic Power is somewhat similar to Fury – you can store it and spend it.
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Aggro (Aggravation) is used in the game to express the enemy’s wish to hit someone. The higher the aggro, the higher the chance to become the victim of your enemy’s attacks.
AoE (Area of Effect) is basically the area where this of that effect is actuated regardless of whether its damage or healing. This command is usually used to act in a team/raid on several targets. It is also used to describe any ability of a Boss with the aforementioned effect.
Buff stands for any positive effect. Always reflected to the left of the mini-map, by its upper edge.
Burst is an ability to do – in multiple ways – massive damage within a short period of time.
Gear is what it is.
GCD (Global Cooldown) is the overall ability recovery time.
Debuff stands for negative effect. By default, it’ reflected to the left of the mini-map by its lower edge.
DoT stands for Damage over Time.
Cleave is an ability to damage secondary targets through damaging the main one with no (or minor) loss in the damage done to the main target.
Cooldown (often CD) primarily refers to the ability recovery time. Can be often applied to bursts and various protective abilities.
Melee and Range. Melee is the close-range combat zone, also used in the titles of all the classes and specs that do effective damage in this zone. Range usually refers to a zone that is not a close-range one and is used, respectfully, in the titles of all classes and specs that do effective damage remotely.
Mitigation (often used as Active Mitigation) stands for decreasing or softening the incoming damage. It demands certain abilities of short action but with short restoring time, as well. The developers started using this ability model in the Mists of Pandaria that’s why the term has become quite used by any class with a tank specialization.
Trait is a name for the ‘talents’ your azerite armor has.
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Blood boil – you deal damage to all enemies within 10 yards radius and infect everyone hit with Blood Plague. It’s used to increase the aggro on pack mobs and maintain the aggro on all the enemies. It’s also used as a filler because it is in no ways related to your resources.
* Blood Plague just does periodic dark magic damage to targets and restores the equal amount of health to you.
Marrowrend – for 2 Runes, does nice physical damage and applies 3 charges of Bone Shield on you.
* Bone Shield is one of your active mitigation abilities. Grants a lot of armor for 30 sec and increases haste by 10%. Max 10 stacks. Attacks against you spend those charges.
Death’s Caress. For 1 Rune it does minor dark magic damage to your target within a 30m range and can infect is with Blood Plague.
Death and Decay. Select an area in which massive dark magic damage is done within the next 10 secs. While you’re in its action zone, you Heart Strike hits up to 3 additional targets.
Heart Strike costs 1 Rune, does average physical damage to the main target, and also to the closest one. It also slows both targets by 50% for 8 secs. Generates 5 RP when hitting a single target and 7 when hitting 2 targets.
Death strike – your second mitigation ability, for 45 RP, it does substantial physical damage to the target, and restores 25% of the damage received within the latest 5 secs, but no less than 7% of your max HP. Due to Mastery, Death Strike gets a new mechanics. Apart from having your Health restored, you get the Blood Shield buff which absorbs physical damage at a percentage from HP recovered due to Death Strike.
Vampiric Blood increases your max HP stock by 30% and the efficiency of incoming healing and absorbs – by 30% for 10 secs. CD 1.5 min.
Dancing Rune Weapon summons your weapon’s duplicate which is going to mimic all your Melee attacks, and your Parry rating goes 40% up for 8 secs. This is more used as a dps cooldown rather than a defensive one.
Anti-Magic Shell is often referred to as AMS. It applies a shield on you for 5 secs for 30% of your max HP (increases depending of the value of Versatility) making you resistant to magic effects. Absorbed damage creates Rune Power. CD 1 min.
Icebound Fortitude decreases the incoming damage by 30% and makes you resistant to stunning effects. CD 3 min.
Crimson Scourge. Auto-attacks on targets infected with your Blood Plague have a certain probability to restore your Death and Decay‘s CD and allow you to use it for free.
Veteran of the Third War is this specialization’s passive aura that increases the stamina by 60%
Asphyxiate is a stun on a single target within the 20m range for 5 secs. CD 45 secs.
Wraith Walk cancels all movement-impairing effects and increases running speed by 70%. And you can’t go slower than 170%. Active for 3 secs, CD 45 secs.
Raise Ally is a combat resurrection. It has a mechanics quite similar to that of other spells of the kind from other classes. Outside a raid combat, CD 10 min. Inside a raid, the restoring speed depends on the number of players on the raid (90/x – CD per res, where x is the number of raiders).
Death Gate is your teleport to Acherus – your class Hold. CD 1 min.
Runeforging is an important thing many forget about because in this addition to the game, they didn’t care to remind the gamers that they can apply various runic empowerments on their weapons.
Mind Freeze interrupts your enemy while they are casting a spell and keeps them from casting a different spell of the same school for 3 more secs. CD 15 secs, action radius 15m.
Path of Frost allows you and your allies within the 50m radius run on water surface for 10 min. Receiving damage cancels the effect.
Control Undead allows you to control an Undead enemy no higher than 121 lvl for 5 min. Costs 1 Rune, is applied once every 1.5 secs, action radius – 30m.
Dark Command is your taunt making the target attack you within 3 secs.
Death Grip helps you drag an enemy within a 30m radius towards you. The effect is going to be the same as that after Dark Command which makes it a grip and a taunt in one button. CD 15 secs.
Gorefiend’s Grasp attracts all enemies within the 15m range to a selected target – friendly or hostile. CD 2 min Can be shrunk to 1.5 min with the talent Tightening Grasp.
On a Pale Horse is a passive effect. Increases your riding speed by 20%.
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General information. On achieving several new levels you’ll get access to new talent ‘Tiers’. Talents may have different effect on abilities: add new features, replace old ones, modify passively different effects and spells. Talents can be changed in Sanctuaries or any recreational zones. However, if you don’t have any of those places nearby you can use the Codex of the Tranquil Mind which allows you to switch channels within a minute. You can’t change talents in combat. You can’t change a talent if the talent you’ve picked in the last Tier is on Cooldown. You’ll have to wait until it’s restored first.
Tier 1. Lvl 56
- Heartbreaker. Heart Strike generates 2 RP per each hit on extra targets. A great talent for mythic + and also for bosses with 2+ enemies.
- Blooddrinker. This is a maintenance spell. For 3 secs (less given higher Haste value) you steal Health from your target for 1 Rune. You can relocate and employ defensive abilities during the cast. Is a standard choice for raiding and situational choice for mythic +
- Runic strike. Deals physical damage, restores 1 rune and has 2 charges. Cooldown is 1 min but it reduces for 1 sec for every spent rune. It is used when there is not enough runes to keep up Bone shield
Tier 2. Lvl 57
- Haemostasis. Blood boil increases the damage and healing done by your next Death strike by 20%. Stacks up to 5 times, you gain 1 charge for every target. It’s the best choice for mythic+ and raid for increased damage and healing effect from Death strike.
- Consumption. Strikes all enemies in front of you with physical damage. It heals you for 100% of that damage. Has 45 sec cd.
Tier 3. Lvl 58
Tier 4. Lvl 60
- Will of the Necropolis. If your Health is below 30%, all the incoming damage is decreased by 30%. A standard choice in this tier that won’t allow you die from a lot of damage at low hp.
- Anti-magic shell. Absorbs 30% more damage and reduces its cooldown by 15 sec. Could be useful against one-time magic damage with long intervals.
- Rune Tap. For 1 Rune, you get to decrease the incoming damage by 30% for 4 secs. 2 charges, CD 25 secs. A good talent if there is a lot of high damage you need to survive and there is not enough saves.
Tier 5. Lvl 75
- Grip of the dead. Death and decay reduces the movement speed of enemies within its area by 90%, decaying by 10% every sec. A good talent for mythic + or raid where a boss fight requires movement reduce
- Tightening Grasp. Shortens your Gorefiend’s Grasp by 30 secs
- Wraith walk. Removes all root effects increasing your movement by 70%. While active your speed cannot be reduced below 170%. Taking any action cancels the effect. Lasts 4 sec, has 60 sec cd. A standard choice that increases your mobility
Tier 6. Lvl 90
- Voracious. Death strike grants you 15 Leech for 6 sec.
- Mark of Blood. For 30 RP, it marks your enemy with a debuff that hits the target with auto-attacks causing it to restore you 2% of the target’s max HP.
- Bloodworms. Your auto attack has a chance to summon Bloodworms that will live for 15 sec dealing damage to your target for 15 sec, healing you for 15 % of your missing health after they die. The best choice in this tier. Worms restore you a lot of health comparing to other talents and deal minor damage
Tier 7. Lvl 100
- Purgatory. Cheat Death. Allows you to survive a deadly hit. This situation enables a 3-sec buff that absorbs healing equal to damage prevented that way. The effect gets cancelled if you receive enough healing. Otherwise you die. The effect works no more than once every 4 min, tracked by the debuff. Death cancels the effect which enables Purgatory to act during the next attack fatal for you.
- Red Thirst. Every 10 RP spent restore Vampiric Blood for 1 sec.
- Bonestorm. Demands 10 to 100 RP. Effect duration depends on how much you spend. Each 10 RP = 1 sec. The effect itself deals dark magic damage to all the enemies around you. Each hit on an enemy restores 2% of your max HP which lands you a nice heal on AoE. CD 1 min.
* In progress, it’s really useful to have an opportunity to survive various things which makes Purgatory the obvious pick. If you do not intend to die, use the other 2 talents depending on the type of your encounter: Bonestorm for AoE, and Red Thirst for single target.
All in all, your basic universal build is like this: 2221331
- Will of the Necropolis
- Wraith walk
But tanking demands you to be very peculiar about every encounter. So remember your talents and their properties as well as of what use they can be in different situations.
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Sets in BFA were removed and azerite armor took their place. Now any chest, shoulder and helm has a few rings to choose a talent.
- Bones of the damned. Marrowrend has a chance to grant an additional charge of Bone shield. Bone shield increases armor depending on azerite armor ilvl. It is the best choice among traits because it grants additional armor that reduces physical damage dealt to your character and also Marrowrend would grant 4 instead of 3 charges. It is better to have 2-3 of such trait.
- Bloody runeblade. When Crimson scourge activates you gain increased haste for 5 sec, and immediately gain 5 Runic Power. It is also a good trait because of haste and runic power which is important for self healing.
- Eternal rune power. Dancing rune power increases your strength. Also every spent rune increases the duration of this effect for 0.5 sec up to 5 sec. This trait is better for damage dealing rather than self defense but it is good to have for an increased runic duration so parry and other bonuses last longer.
- Bonded souls. Your spells and abilities have a chance to trigger A Soulbond for 15 sec. During Soulbond every 5 sec you and your nearest ally are both healed for 8769 and gain 229 haste for sec, A great trait that grants haste and heals you with an often proc. It would be a great choice if you don’t have a lot of options.
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This ratings based on simulation, statistics of WarcraftLogs and players experience.
- Azeroth’s Undying Gift (Source: Eternal Palace drop) is cool option to smooth incoming damage at the moment you need it most.
- The Crucible of Flame (Source: Heart of Azeroth level) becomes a great tool for aditional dps increse, especially at level 3
- Memory of Lucid Dreams (Source: Nazjatar questing) – good minor essence because of extra resources regeneration
- Stand your Ground (Source: Nazjatar reputation) is one of the minor essences for mythic+ content, or heavy aoe raid encounters
- For a passive magical damage reduction you can use Nullification Dynamo (Source: Mechagon Reputation)
- Worldvein Resonance (Source: Island Expeditions) is a good option, if you can keep 4 stacks during the fight
- The Crucible of Flame (Source: Heart of Azeroth level) – nice extra damage during the fight
Let’s view 2 key points: using your abilities for dps, maintaining your survival and ueing defensive CDs.
Dealing DPS is as important as pressing defensive CDs as all your rotation dials down to spending Runes to maintain your Bone Shield stacks and to collect RP. The latter is later spent on Death Strike to heal effectively.
- Marrowrend to renew Bone Shield stacks, if they are about to be off per timer or just shortly, and you need to take a quick run somewhere; or in case they’re disappearing at all because of the incoming damage.
- Blood Boil, if there are enemies still uninfected with Blood Plague.
- Death and Decay per Crimson Scourge benefit. If you don’t have Rapid Decomposition, use it per benefit against 3 targets only, if it hits them.
- Death Strike, to avoid Runic Power capping.
- Marrowrend, if you’ve got less that 6 stacks of Bone Shield.
- You should have at least 3 Runes in CD all the tine. For that, use:
* Use Death Strike in rotation when you need healing. It is best used immediately after you’ve received massive damage If you can use 2 Death Strike without overhealing – go ahead.
- Dark Command
- Death and Decay wherever you’re intending to keep the boss
- Blooddrinker on your way to the boss to kick up the aggro under taunt
- Dancing Rune Weapon
- Blood Boil
- Anti-Magic Shell absorbs magic damage, for up to 30% of your max HP within 5 secs, and generates RP. Use it before receiving magic damage. Also keep in mind that it allows you to avoid the overlapping of malicious magic effects like Molten Armor in Gorgoth.
- Dancing Rune Weapon is used per CD, and in 90% cases it’s used for a dps up which eventually leads to stacking up Bone Shield. Dancing rune power could be used as a defensive cd when fighting a lot of enemies to reduce physical damage dealt to your character.
- Vampiric Blood together with the talent Red Thirst allows to use it frequently. Don’t let this CD chill much, unless you’re not planning on surviving some massive damage any time soon, of course.
- Keep in mind that due to Mastery, your Death Strike also gives you a shield protecting from physical damage which sometimes allows you to work with the part of the damage in a preventive mode. For example, during the phase when you’re tanking a boss. before taking it off your second tank you have a chance to stack a huge set of absorbs on those auto-attacks in advance.
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The characteristic stats look somewhat like this:
Haste > Strength > Versatility > Crit >= Mastery:
Haste is our all. It increases the Rune’s restoring speed which enables you to use them more frequently, hence receive RP quicker. And RP helps you heal by Death Strike.
Versatility just increases your healing and dps but reduces the incoming damage. It’s all simple and clear.
Crit is a pure dps stat giving the least defensive properties out of all; maybe just Blood Plague, the golden trait Skeletal Shattering and the critical damage by Consumption.
Mastery – from the defensive viewpoint this is, for sure, an interesting stat. But it does scale terribly, though. And it works against the physics. As a result, if you don’t rely on it, surviving grows a lot less efficiently as compared to Haste or Versatility. As a dps stat, it’s about the value of Versatility.
Based on the aforementioned characteristics and results of your character’s own simulation results, you can draw conclusions on Gems, Chants and Raid Chemicals.
Flasks and pots
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Kick with a modifier, with the Shift key held, the ability is applied on a remembered target, without – on the current one.
/cast [mod:shift,@focus]Mind Freeze
Combat resurrection at cursor’s position
#showtooltip Raise Ally
/cast [target=mouseover] Raise Ally
Death’s Caress at cursor’s position:
/cast [target=mouseover] Death's Caress
Death Grip at the cursor’s position; if there’s no target under the cursor, the grip is applied to the current target:
#showtooltip Death Grip
/cast [target=mouseover, exists] Death Grip; Death Grip
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- Leveling. If your character has been inactive since the previous expansions, the best option to level up it is by Timewalking dungeons. You will gain a lot of experience, but there is one big disadvantage of leveling this way. Timewalks are available only for one week during a month, but Overgear is always here.
- Equipment. At high level, the most important thing for you will become your gear. WoW is a multiplayer game, that’s why we recommend for you to play it with your friends, or to find a new friends for mythic+ runs. If you have any trouble with it – Overgear may help you to find not just friends for a run, but a complete well geared and experienced group that also will be glad to trade all the loot you need.
- Raids. Raids are the top-tier PvE content in the game. That’s why the equipment’s base ilvl is higher than anywhere else. These dungeons require knowing all the tactics and have a good gear to kill the bosses. The possibilities of Overgear might let you skip those criteria.
Azerite. It is also not the best idea to forget about the Heart of Azeroth and not to feed it with more Azerite. Ignoring this won’t make your character stronger. The easiest way to do it – just complete all the world quests with Azerite rewards everyday. You can get extra azerite from Island Expeditions. Companions can be found at Overgear.