View Full Version : Death Knight Comprehensive Guide to Death Knight Tanking

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12-14-2009, 03:52 PM
This guide is a compilation work of a lot of things I've been studying and developing that pertain to tanking with a Death Knight. As Kazeyonoma has said, I tend to be a “teach a man to fish” type, so this guide will be phrased to teach you how to create your character the way you want, rather than just making choices for you.

I will be handling all of the major topics on the subject and as such, I will not be going to the depth that each topic is capable of. Just because a technique or play style isn't discussed here does not mean it is impossible or inadvisable. I will do my best to keep editorials well-labeled.

This first post will have links to each of the sub-categories. If you are looking for information on one specific aspect, follow the link provided. If you have a general question, follow to the last link to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). Please, if you do not find your question answered there, search the forums at large, and only if you have not found an answer to your question, then create a new thread in the Theory/Mechanics Forum. Please only reply to this guide to bring attention to errors, typos, or to request additions to the information.

While World of Warcraft is a game, software, scripts, and otherwise automated responses, the game has a very key element: human players. When you combine the level of complexity built into the game in terms of talents, glyphs, spells, gear, and the fairly complex interplay of stats, with the uncertainty of network latency, and the still more complex nature of the human being, in reflexes, psychology, perception, and the nuances of the hardware and software tools through which the player interacts with the game, you get a scenario that is anything but set in stone.

There is no “absolute best” anything in terms of the choices you can make in how you play your character. There are nuances and angles that can be used with varying value and effect and the only limitation is having the creativity to discover them, and the skills to execute them.

When I provide editorial, I will discuss many elements relative to other factors in terms of how I have seen them used, spoken with those who have used them, or in terms of the relative value next to other roughly equivalent stats. I am not always right, and there is room for new ideas, always.

Contents to Follow:

Terminology, Acronyms (http://www.tankspot.com/showthread.php?59900-Comprehensive-Guide-to-Death-Knight-Tanking&p=337859#post337859)
Overview: Death Knight as a Tank (http://www.tankspot.com/showthread.php?59900-Comprehensive-Guide-to-Death-Knight-Tanking&p=337860#post337860)
Runes and Runic Power: The Power System (http://www.tankspot.com/showthread.php?59900-Comprehensive-Guide-to-Death-Knight-Tanking&p=337862#post337862)
Rotations, Priorities, and Methods (http://www.tankspot.com/showthread.php?59900-Comprehensive-Guide-to-Death-Knight-Tanking&p=337863#post337863)
Specs, Glyphs and Play Styles

General (http://www.tankspot.com/showthread.php?59900-Comprehensive-Guide-to-Death-Knight-Tanking&p=337864#post337864)
Blood (http://www.tankspot.com/showthread.php?59900-Comprehensive-Guide-to-Death-Knight-Tanking&p=337865#post337865)
Frost (http://www.tankspot.com/showthread.php?59900-Comprehensive-Guide-to-Death-Knight-Tanking&p=337866#post337866)
Unholy (http://www.tankspot.com/showthread.php?59900-Comprehensive-Guide-to-Death-Knight-Tanking&p=337867#post337867)

The Under-Utilized Abilities (http://www.tankspot.com/showthread.php?59900-Comprehensive-Guide-to-Death-Knight-Tanking&p=337868#post337868)
Tanking Stats and Weapon Runes (http://www.tankspot.com/showthread.php?59900-Comprehensive-Guide-to-Death-Knight-Tanking&p=337869#post337869)
UI Modification (http://www.tankspot.com/showthread.php?59900-Comprehensive-Guide-to-Death-Knight-Tanking&p=337870#post337870)
FAQ (http://www.tankspot.com/showthread.php?59900-Comprehensive-Guide-to-Death-Knight-Tanking&p=337871#post337871)

12-14-2009, 03:52 PM
Terminology, Glossary:

Common Acronyms:
BS = Blood Strike
PS = Plague Strike
IT = Icy Touch
OB = Obliterate
DS = Death Strike
RS = Rune Strike
BB = Blood Boil
DnD = Death and Decay
DC = Death Coil
BP = Blood Plague
FF = Frost Fever
Pest = Pestilence
IBF = Icebound Fortitude
AMS = Anti-Magic Shell
AoD = Army of the Dead
RP = Runic Power
ERW = Empower Rune Weapon

HS = Heart Strike
SoB = Scent of Blood
Vot3W = Veteran of the 3rd War
MoM = Might of Mograine
WoN = Will of the Necropolis
B-G = Blood-gorged

HB = Howling Blast
FS = Frost Strike
HC = Hungering Cold
NoCS = Nerves of Cold Steel
CotG = Chill of the Grave
KM = Killing Machine
BoN = Blood of the North
ToT = Threat of Thassarian
GoG = Gift of Gorefiend

ScS = Scourge Strike
CE = Corpse Explosion
UB = Unholy Blight
AMZ = Anti-Magic Zone
RoR = Rage of Rivendare

Rune System Terminology:

Rune Set = 2 Blood, Frost, and Unholy runes, the 6 runes available to all Death Knights
FU Pair = 1 Frost and 1 Unholy rune, frequently used together for moves.
Rune Blackout = when all 6 runes are on cooldown and are not available

General Game Jargon/Terminology:

Mob = an enemy, monster, or computer controlled non-player character (npc).
Proc = a spell, talent, enchant, or glyph effect that triggers from some set of conditions usually providing a buff or ability.
Tank = the designated character in a party or raid who gears to be strong on survival and takes the primary attention of enemy targets.
DPS = short-hand for damage dealers. I will use the lowercase "dps" to short-hand for damage per second.
Pop = slang for using a spell or ability.
Cooldown (CD) = the period where a spell or item is unusable because it is refreshing.
Global Cooldown (GCD) = the game is built with a base cooldown for the player client of 1.5 seconds. This keeps the player from being able to use most abilities less than 1.5 seconds apart. Some abilities can be used without triggering the Global Cooldown, while for certain classes, the Global Cooldown can be reduced in length with certain stats or abilities.
Internal Cooldown (ICD) = a cooldown hidden in a talent, set bonus, trinket, or gear proc. Cooldown is not visible to the player, but the ability won't be able to proc again until the cooldown is finished.

12-14-2009, 03:52 PM
Overview: The Death Knight as a Tank

The Death Knight was the fourth tank to be introduced to the World of Warcraft. Next to our plate wearing counterparts we are distinguished by the feature that rather than using shields, we tank with a 2-handed weapon, or a pair of 1-handed weapons. Death Knights are the only tanking class that currently does not have access to a shield block mechanic or analogous ability. Otherwise, Death Knights will use the same Plate gear attributed with tanking stats that Warriors and Paladins do, and it is common practice for Death Knights who dual wield 1-handed weapons to use, or maintain a set of 'tanking' weapons for added survival value. It is also not uncommon to keep and use weapons designed for DPS for their superior threat value. This will be discussed further with the Frost tree.

Death Knights are capable of tanking or dealing damage with any of their 3 trees. Each tree has a unique theme to its talents, will offer its own set of buffs, and will play somewhat differently. However there are common elements to the construction of each play style. Currently, any of the the three trees is equally capable as a tank, though different people will find that different styles will give them varying results. It is more often the skills and tastes of the player that will determine the tank's efficacy rather than the tree itself.

Death Knights are fully capable of tanking any role in any encounter currently available in the game. As with any encounter, they may not be the best choice based on the various class abilities. In general, Death Knights sport the strongest anti-magic abilities, which can further be strengthened by talent choices. Each tree has its own specialized anti-magic ability.

Regardless of spec, the Death Knight has 3 main features that they bring to a tanking team that can be used to great effect:
1.) Death Grip (http://www.wowhead.com/?spell=49576)
The Death Grip ability allows the tank to pull a target from up to 30 yards away to the tank. The ability also applies a fixate effect, like Mocking Blow for Warriors, that will cause the target to focus on the Death Knight for 3 seconds. As with Mocking Blow, if the opponent is already targeting the Death Knight, the fixate will have no effect. The two portions of the effect are exclusive in terms of efficacy, and will not affect each other. Some targets, particularly encounter bosses and some heftier mobs are immune to the physical pulling effect, but that will not keep the fixate from applying unless the target is otherwise immune, and vice versa. This ability is particularly helpful for moving casting creatures or repositioning a target.

2.) Unlimited Threat Ability
Thanks to the Rune system, Death Knights can perform their abilities at a constant pace, regardless of whether or not they are the primary target. Because of this, they can put strong second threat on a target, without limitations. None of the tanks, the Death Knight included, can do as much threat when they are not the primary target, for Death Knights this is caused by the Rune Strike (http://www.wowhead.com/?spell=56815) ability. However, where Warriors and Bears will see some limitations from reduced Rage generation, and Paladins may have mana concerns in the long run, the Death Knight has no such limitations.

3.) Ranged Threat
None of the tanks are capable of putting out fully sufficient threat out of melee range, but the Death Knight more than any other has the tools to put out the most threat at range. With Icy Touch, Death Coil, Blood Boil, and the placeable nature of Death and Decay the Death Knight is very strong at setting up and maintaining some measure of threat at long range. This ability may be stronger still for certain specs.

Understanding these features can allow your raid team to use your Death Knight tanks to their fullest value regardless of what other tools they may bring.

12-14-2009, 03:52 PM
The Rune System

The Death Knight class uses a unique power system in the form of 6 runes and a Runic Power bar. Every Death Knight has 2 of each of the three sorts of runes available to them: Blood, Frost, and Unholy. Each rune has an individual 10 second cooldown when used successfully. This cooldown is reduced to 2 seconds if the move the rune is used for misses, or is dodged or parried.

Runic Power (RP) is generated when the Death Knight uses an ability that uses runes. If the ability costs 1 rune, it will generate 10 RP. If the ability costs 2 or 3 runes, it will generate 15 RP. There are a variety of talents that allow the Death Knight to generate additional RP through different mechanisms. Anti-Magic Shell will also generate RP for the Death Knight when it absorbs damage. The exchange rate is roughly 1 RP per 100 damage, so if the AMS absorbs 5000 fire damage, it will generate 50 RP.

At the onset the Rune System may seem a bit complicated as it requires you to track 6 different cooldowns as well as a Rage-like bar of energy, but in reality it is a bit simpler, and simpler still if you understand how to follow it. To do so you first must recognize the simple cost system for runes.

There are 3 ways abilities can be priced:

Single Rune: 1 Blood, Frost, or Unholy rune
FU Pair: 1 Frost and 1 Unholy rune
BFU Set: 1 Blood, 1 Frost, and 1 Unholy rune (this is only used for 2 abilities currently)

Runic Power abilities will cost a set amount of Runic Power, usually 20, 40, or 60 RP before modification with talents or glyphs.

With these 3 simple sets of rune prices, rather than watching 6 individual cooldowns, you'll usually be concerned with 4 cooldowns in 2 forms: each Blood rune and each FU pair. In learning to design your method, or recognizing the abilities available to you, you simply need to recognize that you will be able to spend two single Blood Rune abilities and two FU Pair abilities per Rune set. This will further be modified by each tree and the use of Death Runes.

Death runes are wild card runes. They can be used as if they were a Blood, Frost, or Unholy rune. Each tree will have different tools for generating Death runes, and different uses for the product. All Death Knights have the Blood Tap ability that will convert 1 Blood rune into a Death rune. Blood Tap is off the Global Cooldown (GCD) and has a 1 minute cooldown of its own. I will discuss more tree specific variations in the section for each spec.

12-14-2009, 03:53 PM
Rotations, Methods, and Priorities

These are three words that I use frequently, and it is something I feel merits a section all its own. The rune system, by design, lends itself to a fairly regular rotation as an easy way to simplify the concept of spending 6 individual runes on separate cooldowns, along with a rage-style energy bar. Knowing that when you successfully spend a rune it will be available again in 10 seconds allows for a certain degree if repetition. As such it is very common to find Death Knights, be they damage dealers or tanks, asking for the appropriate “rotation.”

Rotations have their place and their value. As stated, the consistency of the rune system allows, in a perfect scenario, for the user to simply follow a set pattern or cast sequence as they use their abilities, and for most DPS Death Knights, that is usually the case. As a tank, however, I feel that rotations are a crutch, a means to be lazy in the long term and potentially to not make smart use of your abilities. It is a valuable tool while learning to play, but in the interest of becoming the strongest tank you can, it is well worth your while to invest time in getting a feel for the system and operating freely. To accomplish this, you need to create a sense of the utility and merit of each of your moves, and then learn how to recognize the right time for their use on the fly. I want to discuss both rotations and priorities here.

Rotations and Priorities

The term rotation is often used for more than just the original intention of the word. I am guilty of that myself. In the strictest terms, a rotation will be a set cast order that you will repeat indefinitely as the fight goes on. For caster DPS first and foremost, and several other classes now as well, a rotation is a way to optimize the sequence of moves you use to maintain buffs/debuffs, use the most powerful abilities every time they're available and/or when they will be used to the greatest effect, and to maximize different value from your class and talents. This can be the case for Death Knights as well.

While building a rotation, you will see that the cast sequence will be founded on priorities, i.e. which buff, debuff, or conditions are important to meet for the rest of your performance. If you can learn to identify these priorities, you can develop the tools to improvise and work outside of the stock rotation, this will allow you to become a stronger tank in the same way that learning to use your mouse to turn can remove many of the limitations that keyboard turning imparts. I will discuss the creation of a rotation and try to highlight Death Knight tank priorities as I go.

Constructing a rotation for a Death Knight is a simple matter of identifying the most valuable use of each rune as it becomes available. For example, applying diseases will usually be your first and most important step. So, unless you are modifying your method with glyphs, you will usually start a fight with Icy Touch and Plague Strike. Icy Touch can be used at range, so a popular sequence for these two abilities is to Icy Touch prior to reaching your target so that your Global Cooldown ends as you reach the target and you can use Plague Strike immediately. This helps make the most of the time it takes to apply the diseases and gives you a lead on threat at the start of the fight. Almost universally, the combined effect of disease damage and disease buffing to many key moves will mean that your first priority will be to ensure you have diseases on your target. Your spec/method may use other tools to maintain diseases, but IT/PS will almost always be the means by which you apply them.

After diseases, we want to make smart use of each of our remaining runes. As highlighted above, you can generally understand this in terms of Blood runes and FU pairs. Most of your spells will fall into one of those two categories. Frost and Unholy will both use talents to convert Blood runes to Death runes so that they can use additional FU pair moves, and Blood will convert FU pairs to Death runes to use more Blood runes, but the two categories remain the same. For each spec we can identify the key tools and what their cost is, then weaving them together is a simple act of what runes you have available and when. Most of the specific concerns of each spec will be addressed in the following sections, but we can short-hand some of that here for illustration.

Generic Abilities:
Blood Spec
Blood rune = Heart Strike (http://www.wowhead.com/?spell=55262), Blood Boil (http://www.wowhead.com/?spell=49941), Pestilence (http://www.wowhead.com/?spell=50842) (Rune Tap, Mark of Blood, Vamp Blood)
FU pair = Icy Touch (http://www.wowhead.com/?spell=49909)/Plague Strike (http://www.wowhead.com/?spell=49921), Death Strike (http://www.wowhead.com/?spell=49924)

Frost Spec
Blood rune = Blood Strike (http://www.wowhead.com/?spell=49930), Blood Boil (http://www.wowhead.com/?spell=49941), Pestilence (http://www.wowhead.com/?spell=50842)
FU pair = Icy Touch (http://www.wowhead.com/?spell=49909)/Plague Strike (http://www.wowhead.com/?spell=49921), Obliterate (http://www.wowhead.com/?spell=51425), Howling Blast (http://www.wowhead.com/?spell=51411) (Unbreakable Armor)

Unholy Spec
Blood rune = Blood Strike (http://www.wowhead.com/?spell=49930), Blood Boil (http://www.wowhead.com/?spell=49941), Pestilence (http://www.wowhead.com/?spell=50842)
FU pair = Icy Touch (http://www.wowhead.com/?spell=49909)/Plague Strike (http://www.wowhead.com/?spell=49921), Scourge Strike (http://www.wowhead.com/?spell=55271) (Bone Shield, Anti-Magic Zone)

These are the basic pieces to fit into the puzzle. Next we need to understand a second important concept. Some builds will use a different method to start a fight than they will as the fight progresses. Use of Glyphs such as Disease, Scourge Strike, and Howling Blast, can allow the user to handle things like maintaining diseases without applying via IT/PS. This means that you will have two general parts of your rotation: the “Opener” (usually consisting of the first 2 rune sets) and your “Cruising” rotation. The opener will be what you do when you first engage a target, or perhaps if you drop an element you are juggling and have to start again (such as letting diseases fall off). Once that stage is set, your “Cruising” rotation will maintain the important things and generate more threat or damage. Keep this concept in mind when considering what tools you use to generate threat, and what glyphs/talents you choose to support that.

The final aspect of building a rotation for Death Knights is to understand the best usage of Runic Power for your spec so that you can cover rune blackouts to best effect. In my experience, learning to fill those gaps is what will transition a good Death Knight into a powerful tank or damage dealer. For all tanks RS will be your most efficient exchange of RP into threat, though that will not require Global Cooldowns (GCDs) as it is used on your next weapon swing. So, for active use of RP for threat, Frost will use Frost Strike, while Blood and Unholy will use Death Coil. With 6 runes at 1.5 seconds per GCD, you will always generate at least 1.0 seconds per rune set of open GCD. The least GCDs each rune set will use is 4, which will leave 4.0 seconds of open GCD per rune set. So, depending on the rotation you design/use, you will have a certain number of GCDs that cannot be used on abilities that cost runes (without the use of Blood Tap or Empower Rune Weapon). Managing these spaces can be a matter of interest for optimizing an ideal rotation, but for a tank, we will generally have to fudge the specifics as we will frequently use abilities not central to our threat rotation to improve our survival.

So, now that we have the items to fill in the gaps, what is the framework? The first framework is created by the game in the form of the Global Cooldown. This is designed to limit the amount of input the player's game client can submit to the server to manage load on the game servers. The GCD for Death Knights cannot be altered except by use of Unholy Presence, which we will not use while tanking. That means that we will be able to use one ability that is not “on-next-swing” once every 1.5 seconds. The second framework is the cooldown of our rune abilities which we have simplified with the B and FU categories, and our RP abilities for when our runes are on cooldown.

So, as an example, we create a simple rotation with generic abilities: IT/PS, Blood Strike, Death Strike, and Death Coil. So, at the start of the fight we will use IT and PS as described above. This will use the first FU pair and leave us with two Blood runes and the other FU pair, 3 seconds elapsed. Blood Strike twice will use the Blood runes, and Death Strike will put the FU pair on cooldown, now with 7.5 seconds elapsed. Your first rune won't come off cooldown for another 2.5 seconds, but since we'll want to use an FU pair rather than IT/PS on the next set, we'll wait one GCD longer, or 4.0 seconds. In that time we could use 3 abilities, if we have the ability. One method to fill this could be to use Blood Tap and another Blood Strike to use one cooldown, then Death Coil a second. Chances are you cannot fill the third. This will happen sometimes, but it can help to find additional tools such as trinket uses, engineering bombs, etc to fill these spaces. Every GCD not used is a little opportunity lost. That said, there will sometimes be spaces you just can't help. Finding a way to minimize these is the key to optimizing your Death Knight's performance.

I will discuss both rotations and priorities in each section as it relates to each spec, but the remaining concept I will reference from here on is that of “method” or “methodology.” When I say method, I am using a short hand for the full package that you use to play your Death Knight. This will combine elements of rune usage, priorities, talents, and glyphs to structure what moves you use when and for what purpose.

12-14-2009, 03:53 PM
Talents and Glyphs:

The Death Knight class is definitely a creation from an evolved development staff. The trees have required a lot of tweaking over the course of the expansion, but in less than a quarter of the life of the game the class has quickly caught up to a balance with the other 9 classes.

The Death Knight class has a unique aspect in that it is the only class that can accomplish two different roles with each of the three trees, by intent of design. It is also the only class that is intended to tank with more than one of its trees. Because of this, spec’ing with a Death Knight is a very versatile affair. Each tree has tanking tools, and each tree has a style all its own.

My standard disclaimer to anyone looking to spec their Death Knight tank is this:
Each tree has a specific style, method, and tools to accomplish the job. The talents in the tree are designed specifically to support that tree’s style, and the deeper you go the more that becomes true. Your best bet as a new Death Knight is to stay true to one tree primarily and only take talents to support that single theme. I do not recommend getting creative with specs or splitting trees until you have a generous amount of experience and familiarity with the talents and the class.

The trees allow for a great many permutations and styles, and in the interest of not trying to explore every road for you, I will keep my discussion here to the mechanism of the talents, and the central theme of each tree. I won’t offer more than a couple styles for each tree. Hopefully the information here can support folks in the community to be more creative.

I am including the discussion of glyphs here, as by nature of design, each glyph is meant to be a stand-alone talent that anyone can take regardless of where you put your points. The glyph discussion will come with each tree, and I will try to discuss any of the glyphs that would be meaningful to that tree and the general play styles I am describing.

General Death Knight Tanking Talents and Glyphs:

The first thing that demands attention is what I have coined the “Holy Trinity of Death Knight Tanking Talents (H3T).” In the first tier of each tree there is a 5 point talent that is a simple and very valuable passive tanking buff. These are:

Toughness (http://www.wowhead.com/?spell=49789): The standardized tank armor buff. It increases the armor contribution from your helm, shoulders, cloak, chest, bracers, gloves, belt, legs, and boots by 2/4/6/8/10%. It does not increase armor from necks, rings, trinkets, or weapons, and it does not increase the bonus armor on the gear pieces listed above (if the armor value appears green). To find the bonus armor not increased by this bonus, simply find another piece for the same slot, with the same item level, and find the difference in armor value. Armor is standardized so that every item at the same item level, slot, and armor weight will have the exact same armor without bonuses.

Anticipation (http://www.wowhead.com/?spell=55133): The standardized tank dodge bonus. Gives the Death Knight 1/2/3/4/5% additional chance to dodge. This is added to the base chance to dodge and is not subject to diminishing returns. It also does not affect the diminishing returns on defense or dodge rating, or agility, from gear, gems, and enchants.

Blade Barrier (http://www.wowhead.com/?spell=55226): This is a unique buff for Death Knights. While we receive 8% damage reduction from being in Frost Presence (which can be increased in the Frost tree), this talent allows us to add 5% damage reduction with a simple stipulation. Whenever both your Blood runes are on cooldown, you receive the Blade Barrier buff for 10 seconds. Because of the way you will usually spend your runes, this will be a near 100% uptime. As a simple illustration, if you have one Blood rune with 5 seconds remaining on the cooldown and you spend the other, you will start or refresh the 10 second buff. If 5 seconds later when the positions are switched, spending the other rune will refresh the 10 second duration again. Usually this will take care of itself without undue attention, but if you’re concerned about maximizing uptime the best solution is to simply stagger your Blood rune uses so they aren’t back to back. A common confusion on this is the use of Blood runes converted to Death runes. This talent will operate based on the cooldown state of those two runes regardless of what their state is. If the rune recharges as a Death rune and you spend one or both, so long as both are on cooldown again at the same time, the buff will be refreshed.

There are two other talents that I consider to be nearly as non-negotiable that are found early in the trees. These two talents are:

Improved Icy Touch (http://www.wowhead.com/?spell=51456): This buff makes your Frost Fever (http://www.wowhead.com/?spell=59921) reduce the melee attack speed of any target affected by the full 20% reduction (to match Improved Thunderclap, Judgments of the Just, and Infected Wounds). If your team has arranged for someone else to handle this buff, that is the only reason it is reasonable not to take it. That said it is worth considering.

The Death Knight version of this buff is by far the easiest to apply and maintain across an unlimited number of targets. The Paladin version is tied to judgments and as such can only be applied to one target at a time. The Druid’s form can be applied with abilities that can be used frequently, but only hit 1-3 targets at a time. For that reason it can cumbersome and unreliable to try and maintain the buff on more than a few select targets at a time. The Warrior version is almost as flexible as a Death Knight’s, but it requires a move that has a 6 second cooldown, and so there is room for blackouts on targets that join the fight late or are momentarily out of range. The Death Knight’s version applies to every target with Frost Fever. Thunderclap is not a tool that Prot Warriors would actively use unless it is to support AoE threat, or maintain the de-hasting buff, whereas it is always in the interest of the Death Knight to have diseases on every target. To that end, I would contend that the Death Knight is the best choice to be applying this buff. Your team may go a different direction, or may have a DPS Death Knight who can handle this more easily, but otherwise, you should strongly consider the value of this talent.

In addition, with patch 3.3.3 Icy Touch becomes one of the most powerful threat hits with a bonus threat multiplier of 7 (with Frost Pres, IT will do 14 times the damage as threat), so improving IT damage is a worthwhile endeavor regardless of threat and frequency of use.

Bladed Armor (http://www.wowhead.com/?spell=49393): The four previously mentioned talents were all survival values first and foremost (though arguments can be made for the not insignificant amount of Rune Strike threat gained from the avoidance of Anticipation). Bladed Armor translates a percentage of your armor into Attack Power (AP). AP in turn filters down into each and every one of your threat generating abilities to buff your threat. As a tank, with 5/5 in Toughness, and in Frost Presence, the AP gained from this talent will out-strip any other talent for total threat gained, with the possible exception of tree-specific spells like Heart Strike. I have not found a spec yet that benefits from any other passive buff talent more. I will make specific mention of what this means to each of the trees when I discuss them specifically.

These five talents can and should be included in any tank spec unless you have a very strong rationale to not include one. They will each contribute to making you the strongest tank you can be.


When discussing glyphs in general here, the selection will be very important to each tree and spec designed. Even the rare glyph that is used in more than one spec will have different value to each spec. Instead, here I want to discuss a handful of glyphs that are not good for tanks, though there are occasional misconceptions about that fact.

Glyph of Icebound Fortitude (http://www.wowhead.com/?item=43545): For a brief time following patch 3.2, this glyph was adding value for tanks to the damage reduction of Icebound Fortitude (http://www.wowhead.com/?spell=48792). Shortly afterwards, Blizzard hot-fixed the ability so that it would work as originally intended. Glyph of Icebound Fortitude increases the minimum damage reduction from IBF. As a tank who has reached the defense value where they cannot be hit with critical strikes, you are long since passed that increased minimum so the glyph will give you no value whatsoever. This glyph is intended for PvP where players may not have any defense at all.

Not all the glyphs are cut and dry as not useful for a tank, but some of them may seem like a good idea at first while the application may be disappointing.

Glyph of Blood Strike (http://www.wowhead.com/?item=43826): an increase in Blood Strike (http://www.wowhead.com/?spell=49930) damage may seem nice to Frost and Unholy in passing, but the requirement to have a snare on the target diminishes the value. There are scenarios where this may be applied on trash in raids or 5-man instances, but in general, most bosses in 5-mans and raids are immune to snares and so you will see no effect there. In addition, there are only two methods that Death Knights have to apply their own snare: Frost Fever with special talents from Frost (http://www.wowhead.com/?spell=50043), and Chains of Ice (http://www.wowhead.com/?spell=45524). In order to get the former, you have to spend 1-3 points in a talent that offers you no other value (and as I said, many targets in instances are immune). In order to get the latter, you have to use an extra Frost rune to maintain a 10 second snare duration, which would require 1 Frost rune per rune set. With talents from Frost your Chains of Ice can apply Frost Fever, but this is another talent that takes points away from other arguably more valuable talents simply to get use out of this one glyph. If you need any further convincing, check your combat logs, parses, or Recount logs to see what percentage of your total damage comes from Blood Strike.

Glyph of Death Grip (http://www.wowhead.com/?item=43541): With this glyph, when you deal the killing blow to a target that yields experience or honor (it does count if you are max level and kill something close enough to your level even you though can’t gain experience), the cooldown on Death Grip (http://www.wowhead.com/?spell=49576) is refreshed. This may seem like an appealing idea, but once you reach the point where you are tanking 5-mans or raids, you will be getting very few killing blows next to the DPS section who will do larger and more consistent damage.

Glyph of Plague Strike (http://www.wowhead.com/?item=43548)/Icy Touch (http://www.wowhead.com/?item=43546)/Chains of Ice (http://www.wowhead.com/?item=43537): These glyphs increase the damage done by PS (http://www.wowhead.com/?spell=49921) by 20%, increase damage dealt by Frost Fever (http://www.wowhead.com/?spell=59921) by 20%, and add damage to Chains of Ice (http://www.wowhead.com/?spell=45524) respectively. They may seem like it has no real downside, but in the current state of things, these glyphs never manage to make it into the top 3-4 best choice list, even the top 3 if you are trying to get all threat glyphs, with the possible exception of Glyph of Icy Touch for some Unholy designs. There is almost always a better choice.

The last glyph I want to touch on applies to all Death Knight tanks fairly equally, and there is some measure of confusion about its significance. Glyph of Dark Command (http://www.wowhead.com/?item=43538) reduces the chance that your Dark Command (http://www.wowhead.com/?spell=56222) (standard taunt) will miss by 8%. In order to understand that value, first you need to know what your current liability is.

Hit rating grants you separate reductions on your chance to miss for melee abilities and spell abilities. Melee abilities are any thing that you have to be in melee range to hit with and with the exception of Obliterate, they all have “-strike” in the name. Dark Command actually uses the miss chance for spells. Whereas Hit rating will give you a 1% reduction to melee miss chances for every 32.79 Hit rating, it will give you 1% reduction to spell miss chance for every 26.23 Hit rating. You can find a complete listing of Hit caps for Death Knights HERE, but the relevant miss chances for this glyph can be found here. To hit a target at level:
83 (Raid Boss, ‘skull’ level) = 17% chance to miss with spells.
82 (Heroic bosses) = 6% chance to miss with spells.
81 = 5% chance to miss with spells.
80 = 4% chance to miss with spells.

So, if you have enough Hit rating to never miss a melee special attack against any target currently in-game (8% physical miss reduction), you will have a 10% reduction to your chance to miss with spells. In addition, if you have a Balance Druid with Improved Faerie Fire, or a Shadow Priest (applying the Misery debuff) in your party or raid, that miss chance is further reduced by 3%. That means that unless your target is a raid boss, you will never miss a taunt. If your target is a raid boss, you will have a 4% chance to miss with your taunt.

There are a few bosses in the current endgame that require taunt switching on a regular basis, but given the small chance to miss, I rarely find it advisable to take this glyph. In addition to your main taunt, you have Death Grip which will function the same on a raid boss, bringing your threat on par and redirecting their attention. In other words, you have two taunts, and with only a 4% miss chance, the odds of both missing are very slim. The one reason to take this glyph is if a missed taunt will absolutely kill your team/attempt and you want to be entirely sure that never happens. Otherwise, the applications are few and far between, and you are strongly advised to use different glyphs. If you want to use this for specific encounters, I highly recommend just carrying a stack of this glyph and whichever you switch it for so you can swap just for the single encounter.

12-14-2009, 03:53 PM
The Blood Tank: I Got Healz!

The Blood Death Knight tank is a unique creature in the tanking world. They have little by way of special mitigation tools, or passive mitigation/avoidance bonuses, and will take the most damage of the three trees. You won’t know it to look at them though, as they also rely on several tools for self-healing to offset that incoming damage!

The Generic Blood Method

Every tank will play things a little differently, but the Blood style is generally the least varied. A standard talent spec will use Death Rune Mastery (DRM) along with Death Strike (DS) to generate 2-4 Death runes with the two FU pairs. Blood and Death runes will be used for Heart Strike, Blood Boil, and the occasional survival tools, Vamp Blood, Rune Tap, Mark of Blood, and possibly more Death Strikes. Note: Death Strikes used with Death runes will simply refresh the runes as Death runes again, they will not revert to an FU pair.

There are a variety of small changes you will see from one Blood spec to the next. These swings are usually found in whether the tank takes Rune Tap, Mark of Blood, Spell Deflection, Will of the Necropolis, and what supporting threat tools they take. The standard Blood build, however, will reach for Blood-gorged, going at least 50 points into Blood, and will make use of the Holy Trinity of Tanking Talents (H3T).

The play style of Blood is relatively very simple, and to discuss it, I will split into three sections: Threat Styles, Survival Styles, and Ease Of Play.

Threat Styles of Blood Tanking

As Death Knight styles go, the Blood spec is very simple to play. The Blood tree uses heavy physical damage effects to build threat, and can rely on many small hits, rather than fewer large hits, to generate threat.

The tree itself is built around two compounding elements that improve the Blood tank’s threat: Direct/passive physical damage buffing, and passive critical chance buffing. For the former, Blood-gorged will provide a passive armor reduction that will amount to roughly a 2.5% physical damage increase at all times, while the other portion will increase all damage done by 10% so long as the tank is above 75% health. The larger the tank’s health pool, the easier this condition will be to meet. Bloody Vengeance allows the tank’s crits to stack and maintain a buff that will increase all physical damage done by 9%. Thanks to the passive crit buffs the tree grants, along with raid buffing, this is a very easy effect to stack and maintain. For passive crit buffs, Dark Conviction, Subversion, and Improved Death Strike will grant your 4 largest threat tools generous bumps to their crit chance. Might of Mograine allows you to improve the value of each percent of crit chance on HS, DS, and BB even further, as critical strikes will deal more than the standard double damage.

Hysteria is a powerful tool, but there are nuances in how to use it most effectively. First of all, it is a highly valuable spell to take, as it only costs 1 talent point. Understanding when and how to use it for best effect is a little trickier. It can work as threat boost to the Blood tank, as roughly 75-80% of your total damage-threat will be caused by physical effects.

If you choose to use it for yourself, I highly recommend not using it at the start of the pull, but rather after your opener. Set diseases, and collect a full set of Death runes, then use Hysteria, fire off your best physical threat (usually HS chaining), use Empower Rune Weapon to refresh all your runes immediately, use a couple DS’s to refresh your Death Runes, and continue spamming HS. This can make for an enormous burst of threat. The thing to be wary of, however, is that this increased threat comes at the cost of 1% of your health every second for the 30 second duration. As a Blood tank who relies heavily on stacking health, this will be a pretty sizable bleed. Be careful that you don’t use this at a time when you are already requiring intense healing.

An alternate use, when you do not need the added threat, is to use it on one of your best physical damage dealers. Feral Kitty Druids and DPS Warriors are usually the best investments, but Blood DPS Death Knights, Hunters, Rogues, and Retribution Paladins can follow pretty closely and may get more total value if they’re doing better total damage than the Druid or Warrior. Frost or Unholy DPS Death Knights along with Enhancement Shamans are your third best choice, but because of their heavy proportion of spell damage in their total output, they will not make as strong use as the others listed above. For your consideration, using Hysteria on yourself while doing 2k dps will represent roughly a 320 dps increase in total raid dps. However, if you use it on a Feral Druid who is doing 7k dps, it will become a 1400 dps increase for your raid. Be mindful that you only use it on yourself for strategic threat, and not as a standard tool for yourself in all situations..

The Blood tree relies on a very simple set of moves to create a rotation from. You will always want both diseases active for the sake of buffing Heart Strike damage and Death Strike healing. After that, you will have two paths you can follow at any given time. Death Strike will be your tool to convert FU pairs into Death runes, but once they are Death runes you can choose to either us them for Heart Strike or Death Strike. Heavy use of Death Strike, even if glyphed, will generate a little less threat than Heart Strike unless you get high effective healing from its use. For this reason, in general, you will want to favor HS when you are at full health and only use DS on Death runes when you know you can get value from the heal. Blood Boil can be a strong AoE threat tool for a Blood tank, it will not hit nearly as hard as HS, but on large groups it will allow you to spread the threat far more broadly. I recommend using HS and swapping targets smartly for any pull of 4 or smaller, though BB will do more total damage, I find the focused threat to be more ideal. Beyond 2 targets BB will always do more total damage, and against larger groups it can allow you to set a solid foundation of threat against any AoE dps. It can be very useful to fire off several BB's at the start of the pull then use HS to strengthen your threat on strategic targets. It can also be very smart while spamming BB to simply change your target. Just the threat generated by melee attacks and RSs will prop up threat on select targets.

Additional threat values can be found in the use of Sudden Doom (particularly when compounded with Morbidity and possibly the Glyph of Dark Death) and Necrosis. These values are standalone buffs, however, and will not improve the benefit of any of the other talents that Blood relies on.

Scent of Blood (SoB) is a talent that can be generally misunderstood or mis-valued. As a Blood tank, your #1 priority for RP is that Rune Strike is usable on every proc. With the physical damage buffing, this is easily one of your strongest threat moves, and is far, far and away your strongest use of RP for threat, regardless of talents or buffs. To that end, you will want to make sure you have more than 20 RP at all times. For practical application this means that you should avoid using Death Coil unless you have more than 60 RP. The only time you can and might miss the immediate use of an RS proc is in the first two GCD’s of a fight, after that if you find yourself RP starved it is for a lack of care on your spending. Scent of Blood, at best, will generate upwards of around 40 RP per point, per minute. It will not frequently help you in your first two GCD’s as during that time you will either not proc the effect, or not get more than 1 swing to return 10 RP. Later in the fight, you should be budgeting your RP so that you always have the required amount to use RS, as described above. What that means is that SoB will only allow you to use Death Coil more often. Because of the damage that Death Coil deals, even with Morbidity, it is a smaller threat priority than reapplying/refreshing diseases (for investment purposes) or using HS or DS, so the only appropriate time to use Death Coil is during a rune blackout. The Blood style uses a very high amount of single-rune abilities which means you won’t usually be generating many rune blackouts relative to Frost or Unholy. The GCD’s that may fall into these rune blackouts can be further reduced by use of Blood Tap and other non-rune abilities (such as Engineering bombs or trinkets), so the value of Scent of Blood is only in never missing such an opportunity for Death Coil.

Survival Styles of Blood Tanking

The Blood tree is designed to rely on total health as its primary passive survival attribute. Total health will have a trickle-down effect that will increase the efficacy of many of its tools. Avoidance and armor still play very important roles, but neither will offer quite the same value as pure health for a Blood who relies on their self-healing.

The Blood tree has the following healing tools available to the tank. Different tanks will use different tools with varying effectiveness, but the mark of a strong Blood tank is using these tools well. If she does so, she will appear to take less damage than other Death Knight tanks. Among these tools are:

Death Strike: With the talents taken to improve the effect, every use of DS will heal the tank for 7.5% of her total health per disease on the target, or a total of 15% with both diseases. Even when used sparingly, this will easily become your single largest contributor of healing, even with a whopping 60-70% overhealing rate. A smart user can time Death Strikes in rotation to closely follow boss melee swings, and can find ways to use it to counter dramatic health drops, to ease the apparent spiky nature for healers. If the tank uses an average of 2 DS’s for every 2 rune sets, that will be two 15% heals every 20 seconds. Our example tank will have 40k health for simple benchmarking. Our example tank will then get a 6k heal with each use, or 600 heals per second (hps) on average. If the tank uses the maximum possible of 4 DS’s per 2 rune sets, that becomes 1200 hps before considering overhealing. If you average 67% overhealing, this will average roughly 200-400 hps as effective healing.

Rune Tap: The single point spell version of this talent will instantly grant the user 10% of their total health back, with a 1 minute cooldown. This spell is off the global cooldown (GCD). This allows the heal to be used in a flash, at any time during the fight provided a single Blood/Death rune is available. Within the typical DRM style of play this is very easily accomplished as, in addition to all 6 runes regularly rolling over as a Blood or Death rune, the single-rune spending nature of the spec will often leave Blood Tap free to use. Blood Tap is also off the GCD, so the two Tap spells can be used simultaneously without otherwise affecting your rotation. Fully talented for an additional 3 points, Rune Tap will heal the tank for 20% of her total health on a 30 second cooldown. Using our same example tank, that is a 8k heal available on demand. If used on cooldown that will be 267 hps before considering overhealing. Because the ability is off the GCD, and used actively by the tank, it is very easy for a skilled tank to average less than 20% overhealing on average with this ability. If you take the 20% as your average overhealing, you will see roughly 213 hps on average. The real value of this spell though, is in reacting to health dips. If combined with a quickly executed DS, our example tank could prop her health back up by 14k in an instant, nearly half her total health, and that healing will often come faster than a healer could respond. An easily forgotten element of this is that the healing will also generate threat. Where damage, by default, will generate 1 point of threat per 1 point of damage, healing will generate 1 point of threat per 2 points of healing. Healing threat is also split across all targets you are in combat with. However, if you are using this against a single boss target it can still become a strong threat bump. Note: all threat generated, healing included, while in Frost Presence is multiplied by 2.0735 (the same is true for Prot Warriors in Defensive stance, and the total value of Protadin and Bear threat multipliers). So, if a single HS hits for 2k damage, it will generate 4147 threat. If your Rune Tap, at the same rune cost, heals you for 6k health while you are tanking a single target, that will generate 6220 threat.

Mark of Blood: This spell is a little more challenging to use well. Mark of Blood will place a debuff with 20 stacks on your opponent. Every time the opponent deals damage to someone, that target will be healed for 4% of their total health. The heal is applied directly after the damage, but instantaneously. As a result, provided the damage dealt is more than 4% of the target’s total health, it will never overheal, and the target will appear to take less or no damage. Because of the indirect nature of this spell, many tanks find it challenging to remember to use it, and harder still to find the right moments to maximize its effectiveness. To give an idea of the range of its use, if it is placed on the boss the example Blood Knight is tanking, and during the 20 seconds she only takes a melee swing every 2 seconds, then the Mark will heal the tank for 1600 on each swing, or for 800 hps. Again, provided the melee swings are for more than 1600, this will never overheal. If the swings are hitting for 10k, it will appear as if the tank is only taking 8.4k damage on each swing. Note, however, that this will only use half the charges. If the tank finds a way to spend all 20 charges in 20 seconds, this will be a much larger total effect. Here are some of the encounter specific locations I’ve found the spell very useful:

On Kel’thuzzad, in Naxxramas, applying the buff prior to a Frostbolt Volley will greatly reduce the apparent damage taken by the raid. Applied to one of the adds during phase 3, the add tank will start receiving less damage, or even a net gain from one add depending on when in the phase this happens.
On Steelbreaker in Ulduar, using Mark of Blood during a Fusion Punch will actually proc a heal off of each melee swing around the Fusion Punch, and will proc 4 times off of the punch itself. 2 are easy to explain as the punch consists of two parts (one nature and one physical damage), but the other two are a bit anomalous. This can significantly cover the tank almost independently for one punch (provided the debuff is dispelled).
On Hodir in Ulduar, using Mark of Blood during Frozen Blows will benefit the tank as, like Fusion Punch, each blow is one part melee and one part magic damage, and each damage source will proc its own heal. Charges will also leach into the raid some and ease the healing on the group as a whole.
On Mimiron in Ulduar, Plasma Blast will hit the tank for several rapid-fire hits. Using Mark of Blood here will significantly reduce the healing load required by the tank.
On Gormokk in Trial of the Crusader, using Mark of Blood will cause his melee hits and his Impale applications to heal the tank. It will not cause the Impale ticks to heal the tank, but the healing can be more than enough to ease some of the potential spikes if these damage sources line up too closely. If used on one of the Jormungar from the same encounter, prior to a “Spew” they will heal the tank for almost as much as each tick of the damage, and there will be no added need for healing. If used on Icehowl in the same encounter, prior to his Frost Breath, the freeze will deal little or no discernible damage provided it doesn’t hit more than 10 people.
On the Faction Champions in Trial of the Crusader, applying this buff to the Warlock before he Hellfires, the Warrior before he Bladestorms, or the Rogue at most any time he finds a squishier raid member, this can save lives and really protect the raid from being bursted.
Against the Twin Valkyr in Trial of the Crusader, using Mark of Blood on the Valkyr that is not healing will ease the burst dealt to the tank. Alternately, using it on either Twin at any time during the fight will give the healers a temporary respite from the constant AoE drain as it will most of the raid with every tick.
Against Anub’arak in Trial of the Crusader, if you choose to use a single tank on the adds, this spell can greatly ease the healing required on that tank by debuffing one of the adds. This can be done regardless of what your assignment is. The adds attack very quickly and so the charges can be used very quickly. If used during Leaching Swarm, the charges will be used up very quickly, but can stabilize the raid for a moment.

These are not the only applications, just a few hand-picked. As with most cooldowns, if you understand how the tool works, you can find very ideal places to use it to maximal effect.

Bloodworms/Imp Blood Presence: I’ve combined these two healing abilities as they have similar concerns. Each of these abilities does not scale with your total health, but instead scales weakly with your Attack Power (AP). Improved Blood Presence converts 4% of each damaging attack you deal into a heal. To compare in general, this means that if you’re dealing 2k dps while tanking, it will generate a stream of 80 hps. The passive nature of the heals will sometimes cause it to skew towards larger overhealing values, but the small size of each heal will counter that to some degree as it provides some filler when you aren’t topped off. This will not save your life, but it will accumulate over the course of the fight to a not insignificant total healed. The Bloodworm talent will cause your melee strikes to sometimes summon a few small worms. These worms’ damage scales very slightly with AP, and when they deal damage you will receive healing proportional to that damage. The problem with worms as a tank is that they are coded as ‘guardians.’ That means that they will spawn at your location and have no special coding or defenses. This has two main problems. First, they will attack from where you are standing. As a tank, that means they will stand in front of the boss, and their attacks are parry-able. That means that if the target is capable of parry-hasting, they could actually increase your damage taken, and possibly more than the amount they heal you for. Second, because they have no defenses and very little health, they will die quickly and easily to any cleave, breath, aura, or other source of damage. As such in many encounters they will have a very short lifespan when they are spawned. These talents are not useless, but compared to the other tools, and the other talents for survival and threat, they are weak values.

In addition to these self-healing tools, the Blood tree sports a very special iconic survival cooldown: Vampiric Blood. Vamp Blood will increase your total health by 15%, and increase all healing effects on you by 35%. This is a very powerful buff for the Blood tank on two fronts. First, 35% increased healing from healers is a powerful buff on its own. The 15% increased health total simply buys them more time to fire heals off. Second, because of the two portions of the buff, it will double-buff your self-healing. Your most powerful self-healing tools all scale with your maximum health, but they also benefit from the increase to healing. That means that each of your self-healing effects will actually receive a total increase of 55.25%! It is important to note that this talent will not reduce your damage taken. That said, provided your increased health total is enough to take the blows in question, the increased healing will mean that for the same mana spent, healers will have an easier time keeping you alive.

The Blood tree uses two more standard survival tools that work in more specific situations:
Spell Deflection: This talent uses your current parry chance as your chance to essentially parry spells. However, doing so will not negate the damage; just reduce it by 15/30/45%. The chance nature of this spell means that it will be hard to rely on when you absolutely need to not take the full hit, but when it procs it will be a significant reduction in damage taken. Note: this reduction can only work on direct spell damage, as opposed to periodic effects. That means that it will not work on DoT’s, auras, and damage zones.

Will of the Necropolis: When you take damage that drops you below 35% of your total health (including damage taken when your health is already below 35%) that damaging hit is reduced by 5/10/15%. Patch 3.3.3 removed both the 15 sec ICD, and the minimum hit-size threshold of 5%. Any hit can trigger this ability. This change effectively converts WotN from a lifesaver that is weaker in the greater equation, into an ability that is very well suited to Blood and can be pivotal in high-damage encounters. The current functionality of this talent effectively makes the Blood tank harder to kill as his health gets low. When the Blood Tank's health gets low he will then take less damage, functionally extending the value of his health and making it easier for healers to pick him back up. As is the theme with Blood tanking abilities, this scales very nicely with health as it extends the range in which this talent will work. This talent can be expensive to get as it is at the bottom of the tree and will never be needed for filler next to the other talents available. The value of this talent will make it most meaningful when you are in a situation where your health can be expected to drop low, either regularly (i.e. progression fights with hard hitting bosses), or when it is possible for your health to drop low (any time when something goes wrong). I'd label this a *very* valuable talent for any progression tank interested in the best survival, but I would label it as a marginal to moderate value for any content you out-gear or are very comfortable with. This ability really shines on fights like Festergut, Marrowgar, and the Lich King in ICC, as well as Garmokk and Anub'arak in To(G)C.

Ease of Use in Blood Tanking

The survival and threat tools and techniques are fairly easy to read, but there are harder values to appreciate as a Death Knight tank in the form of play style adjusting talents and glyphs. Using a standard spec, the Blood tank will use DS to convert FU pairs to Death runes, and otherwise rely on HS spam for the primary threat ability. That said, the duration of your diseases and the method for re-application will alter how much you can use those primary abilities. The main two items of interest here are Epidemic and the Glyph of Disease.

Epidemic will increase your disease durations from 15 seconds to 18/21 seconds. In a typical rotation the Blood tank will be alternating rune sets, using the first to apply diseases and convert FU pairs, and the second to unleash their strongest moves. If their diseases do not last to the end of the second rune set, it can diminish the total effect of the tank by either reducing their damage using HS without diseases, or by requiring them to reapply diseases sooner offering a smaller window to use their big swings. This talent, in two points, allows the Death Knight to complete two full rune sets before diseases need to be reapplied or refreshed. This improvement is hard to quantify as it will vary with the player, the network latency, and the methodology being used, but regardless of circumstances it will represent an increase in overall damage/threat, and a simplifying of the rotations and priorities used by the Blood tank.

Glyph of Disease allows your Pestilence, in addition to spreading the diseases on your main target to un-diseased targets, to refresh the diseases on any target it hits. That means that if you have a single target, using Pestilence will refresh disease durations to full with a single cast. An interesting side effect of this is that if you use Pestilence on anything, whether or not it has diseases, any targets hit by the chaining effect that have diseases on them will have their durations refreshed. Take note, however, that Pestilence will not apply diseases to additional targets if your main target does not have any diseases on it. The effect of this glyph is most noticeable in the ease of use that it grants. Rather than requiring a Frost and Unholy rune (or 2 Death runes), you can refresh all your diseases with a single Blood/Death rune cast. Because the Blood style has 4-6 runes rolling over as a Blood/Death rune constantly, this is very easy to accomplish at any time to ensure diseases never fall off. Saving yourself one extra rune every other rune set is not a big step up in total damage/threat done, but the simplicity this grants allows for more flexibility and less distraction which in turn allow you to be a stronger tank. With Patch 3.3.3 Icy Touch hits like a truck for threat, and as such it diminishes the value of Glyph of Disease a bit for Blood tanks. On single targets it is actually not in your best interest to avoid the use of IT. This glyph retains its utility, however, and can make AoE tanking and chain pulling much easier, should you choose to use it.

Blood Tanking Spec Design:

This talent spec should make up a simple core to the Blood Tank design:
From the talents taken there are 3 swing points from 32-35 total in Blood that can go into Rune Tap, Improved Rune Tap, Spell Deflection, Mark of Blood, Abomination’s Might, or Hysteria, as desired by the tank. As stated above, I do not recommend Scent of Blood for a Blood tank. In the example spec, I’ve put these points in Abomination’s Might and Rune Tap.

There are 2 more swing points from 38-40 that can be place in any of the above talents, with Sudden Doom now also available. I’ve put the points into 2/3 Improved Rune Tap, so that I can continue to illustrate the tree.

I have one more swing point at 44 points spent, that can go to any of the above listed talents, and now Will of the Necropolis is also available. I’ve placed that last point in finishing Improved Rune Tap, for illustration purposes.

With 5/5 in Blood-gorged, the remaining 6 points are available to swing as the user desires. In addition to the talents listed above, the following talents offer some benefit:

Morbidity: This talent in the Unholy tree will give you access to Death and Decay nearly on cooldown. This can be very useful for situations where you will want to pull out DnD frequently, and can support your AoE threat nicely. The other half of the talent buffs your Death Coil damage. This is valuable for improving your RP dump value, and is more valuable still if you use Sudden Doom.

Necrosis: If you take Morbidity, you will have sufficient points in Unholy to spend some in Necrosis. Necrosis will add a small chunk of shadow damage to each melee auto-attack and RS you use equal to 4% of the damage that strike caused, per point spent in Necrosis. This is a competitive threat value as auto-attacks and RS hits will be two of your top 4 chief threat abilities.

I do not advocate the following talents, and I’ll explain why:
Black Ice: The Shadow and Frost damage bonus gained here will only go to serve your Death Coil, Icy Touch, Death and Decay, Blood Boil, and disease damages. Even in heavy AoE fights, this buff is a bit weak compared to the other options.

Unholy Command: This talent reduces the cooldown on your Death Grip by 5/10 seconds. With your main taunt already on an 8 second cooldown, the only reason to take this talent is to specifically get more frequent access to the pull effect of Death Grip. There is exactly one raid encounter in WotLK that I would advocate that value and it won’t help you if you’re the main tank. Otherwise this talent is only ideal for PvP.

Ravenous Dead: While the percent Strength gained from this talent may seem like a good idea, the AP and Parry chances gained are actually very minimal even with the strongest gear in the game. The buffing to your ghouls is generally lost as a tank and only serves to represent a marginal increase in total raid dps if you try to keep your ghoul out as often as you can.

Blood Tanking Glyph Selection

Glyph of Vampiric Blood: The one standout as a defensive glyph for Blood tanks. This increases the duration of the buff from 10 seconds to 15. This effectively raises the uptime if used on cooldown from 17% to 25%.

Glyph of Death Strike: This is one of the strongest threat glyphs for the Blood tank, but its value will vary depending on how frequently you use Death Strike. If you use it the bare minimum, largely as a tool to convert FU pairs, then it may garner less threat gained than the Glyph of Rune Strike. If you use Death Strike more often than is strictly required, usually to make the most of heals, this can quickly become a superior threat value. The glyph increases the damage dealt by DS, for all intents and purposes, by 1% per 1 RP available when the ability is used up to a 25% buff. Because we will always try to maintain enough RP to have RS used whenever it is available, it is safe to assume that the full 25% will always be available. 25% more DS damage is the same as 25% more damage threat, before you consider the synergy of Might of Mograine, Improved Death Strike, and Dark Conviction. All tolled, Death Strike is a very powerful tool to buff the damage of.

Glyph of Rune Strike: The easy contender with DS for the best threat glyph available. The 10% bonus crit granted by this glyph will be the same as a 10% increase in total damage of Rune Strike, and 15% increase in total threat thanks to the passive threat bonus. Rune Strike does not benefit from any of the crit damage buffs from Blood, so this value is not padded, but Rune Strike will be very powerful in general for Blood tanks, as both Blood-gorged and Bloody Vengeance will multiply the damage wonderfully. If you pay close attention to improving your dodge and parry, this value may surpass Death Strike fairly easily, but in general it is not the clear cut superior that some believe it to be.

Glyph of Disease: While this is not an easily quantifiable value for threat, this glyph can make your abilities much simpler to use. The glyph causes your Pestilence to refresh the diseases on every target it hits. That means a single cast of Pestilence will refresh the diseases on your main target, or on any other target it hits even if there are no diseases on your main target. If there are diseases on your main target, it will still spread them to any un-diseased other targets. This allows you to use a single Blood rune, again, of which you will have 4-6 runes available for at all times, to maintain diseases so you can focus on your other abilities, and not be concerned with IT or PS after the first application. With patch 3.3 it is unlikely this will see an increase in threat for the tank as IT is a threat monster, but it may not be a noticeable loss either, if you choose to use this glyph.

Glyph of Dark Death: This glyph will increase Death Coil damage by 15%. As stated above, Death Coil is not a terribly competitive damage/threat value, so really the only appropriate times to use it are during rune blackouts. To that end this is not a fantastic use of a glyph slot. The one potential exception is if you decide to play to your Death Coil utility. Combining Sudden Doom, Scent of Blood, and Morbidity can allow you to squeeze extra threat out of your Death Coils and in the end, out of your total setup. This would be my third choice for threat glyphs after Rune Strike and Death Strike, but I expect the gains would be negligible if you are not using Sudden Doom and Morbidity, and I would generally favor the play style aid of Disease, and the survival value of Vamp Blood before I would take this.

Glyph of Rune Tap: This is another hard item to find the value in. First it will require you to take Rune Tap. If you have Rune Tap fully improved, the glyph will make it so your Rune Tap heals you for 22% of your total health, and heals each member in your party (note: not raid-wide) for 10% of their health. This can be used to great effect if you stack your party carefully, and are paying attention to other people in your party. It can buy a vital moment and save lives. That said, as opposed to Glyph of Disease, this glyph adds complexity to your move and makes it a little less simple to use. Suddenly you may feel the need to use it or save it for better moments in its overall effectiveness. If you can find the best ways to use it that is good, but I would consider this an advance user glyph to really optimize.

12-14-2009, 03:53 PM
Frost Tanking: Like Pounding a Block of Solid Ice

The Frost tank most closely matches the classic design of a ‘tank.’ The tree sports the strongest passive survival buffing a Death Knight can get in the form of increased miss chance and increased damage reduction from Frost Presence. The Frost tree is also the most varied in terms of spec styles and play styles. It is possible to either dual wield or 2-handed tank with this tree, and depending on which you pick will alter the value you get from different talents. Both styles are equally viable as an endgame tank in any content released so far. The threat generated by Frost on either a single target or an AoE pull will be characterized by massive spikes of threat delivered in fewer heavy-handed hits.

General Frost Style

It is worth noting that the only place dual wielding play will really differ from 2-handed Frost tanking is in terms of a few talent point placements and gear selection. Otherwise the specs will play more or less the same. I will occasionally point out where they differ, but you can generally assume that unless I reference one style specifically, what I say can be applied equally to both. The two styles will play the same as far as survival goes, where the only difference will be the shift in stats depending on what 1-handed or 2-handed weapons you use.

To understand how the two styles vary for threat, I will provide some simple math to illustrate. When dual wielding, your off-hand weapon receives a 50% damage reduction penalty. The talent Nerves of Cold Steel (NoCS) will increase the damage done by your off-hand by 8/16/25% and that value is applied after the baseline reduction, so functionally the net penalty will only be 37.5% for 3 points invested. The talent Threat of Thassarian (ToT) will allow your Obliterate, Frost Strike, Rune Strike, Blood Strike, and Plague Strike to hit with both weapons on each use. This means that each time you cast Obliterate there will be two separate damaging hits. There will only be one roll to hit, so if one hits, both hit, but damage is calculated individually for each weapon, including the off-hand damage penalty. An interesting quirk is that each strike will have an individual chance to proc on-hit effects, which will become important later. So, to understand the relative value of 2-handers, slow 1-handers, and fast 1-handers, I will use sample damages based on item level 245 weapons, for comparison:

Fast 1-hand: Blood Fury (http://www.wowhead.com/?item=47266), 196.7 dps, 1.5 speed, average hit: 295
Slow 1-hand: Stormpike Cleaver (http://www.wowhead.com/?item=47148), 196.5 dps, 2.6 speed, average hit: 511
2-hand: Sharpened Obsidian Edge (http://www.wowhead.com/?item=49498), 255.6 dps, 3.5 speed, average hit: 895

If we take a tank with 5k AP, 0% haste from gear, and the standard 23% melee haste raid buff, then the average hit size and speed for each weapon will be roughly:

Blood Fury = 652 dmg, 1.22 sec
Stormpike Cleaver = 868 dmg, 2.11 sec
Sharpened Obsidian Edge = 1252 dmg, 2.85 sec

We’ll use three setups, (1) with two fast weapons, (2) with two slow weapons, and (3) with the 2-hander. Remember the off-hand weapon will do only 62.5% damage. The damage per strike will be listed with the two weapons combined where dual wielding:

Melee auto-swings:
(1) 652 + 375 = 1027 (per 1.22 sec = 842 dps)
(2) 868 + 499 = 1367 (per 2.11 sec = 648 dps)
(3) 1252 (per 2.85 sec = 440 dps)

Rune Strike:
(1) 1728 + 994 = 2722 dmg
(2) 2052 + 1180 = 3232 dmg
(3) 2628 dmg

Obliterate (with 0 diseases on the target):
(1) 989 + 569 = 1558 dmg
(2) 1162 + 668 = 1830 dmg
(3) 1469 dmg

As you can see, faster weapons and dual wielding net a stronger melee auto-swing damage output, but the slower the weapon the heavier your specials will hit, and special attacks will come at a uniform rate, regardless of the speed of the weapon. It is also worth noting that auto-swings for a dual wielding tank will have a higher miss rate which will serve to regulate that damage unless the tank over-stacks hit rating (which a dual wielder can actually gain value out of).

Beyond the weapon-based contributions on melee auto-swings, Obliterates, Rune Strikes, Blood Strikes, Frost Strikes, and Plague Strikes, you will see no difference between the contributions of Howling Blast, Icy Touch, diseases, Blood Boil, or Death and Decay for 2-handed styles or dual wielding.

Frost Threat Styles

Frost relies on a short list of heavy hitting tools to generate threat. Most notably, Obliterate and Howling Blast share the FU pair slot with heavy hits and slightly different purposes. Rather than Death Coil, which should only be used in a rare situation where you cannot enter melee range, Frost spec will burn its excess RP on Frost Strike. As opposed to Death Coil, Frost Strike is a heavy hitting attack. While it won’t compare with RS for the threat per RP ratio, it will still be well worth your while to fit it into rotation smartly. Because Frost uses double-rune abilities frequently, it will generate noticeably more rune blackouts than Blood would. Using the Blood of the North talent, Blood runes are converted using Blood Strike and Pestilence into Death Runes. These Death Runes allow the Frost tank to use additional Obliterates or Howling Blasts in every other rune set.

There are two primary approaches to threat for either weapon style, and they involve the use of diseases. In order for the tank to get all the passive buffs from the Frost tree, she only needs to have Frost Fever on the target. The second disease will contribute damage itself, and will buff Obliterate and Blood Strike to their full values, but otherwise, there will be no difference. As such some Death Knights choose to use a “Single Disease” method only applying Frost Fever, while others use both diseases.

In trying to decide which the right choice is for you, the answer is not clear cut, and will vary in aspect depending on weapon style. It will also alter the ease of play. I will discuss the latter point more in a later section. The primary consideration is usually based on the speed and convenience of a single disease rotation. With Glyph of Howling Blast it is entirely possible to use no spells but Howling Blast, Obliterate, Blood Strike/Blood Boil, Rune Strike, and Frost Strike. There is no need to use Icy Touch, Plague Strike, or Pestilence, all of which are generally weak on threat for their cost, as they’re balanced for use as a utility of disease setting and maintenance.

A very important thing to understand is the relative damage value of Obliterate versus Howling Blast. This will vary slightly depending on weapon style and disease style, but the final idea remains the same. With our example tank above, regardless of which weapons are taken, Howling Blast will do approximately 2033 dmg on each target it hits. To compare, for a 2-handed Death Knight, Obliterate with 2 diseases up will hit for 1836 dmg (1653 with 1 disease). What is not showing here is that Obliterate will have roughly a 18% higher crit rate. With 3/3 in Guile of Gorefiend, if you include critical strikes in your average damage, Obliterate will gain about 26% more value with all else being equal, so Obliterate will edge out Howling Blast on single target threat, but only slightly. The same is true for dual wielding two fast weapons, though the margin is a little smaller. In order to understand what this means in the larger picture we need to now consider the other supporting talents in the Frost tree.

The Frost tree is designed to use special talent procs to inform your choices about which moves you use in a given moment. The two important effects are Killing Machine and Rime. Killing Machine (KM) allows your melee strikes to proc a buff that will cause your next IT, FS, or HB to be a critical hit. In general, you can do just fine without paying close attention to this proc, but the more experienced, skilled Frost tanks will find the timing to weave those KM procs such that they never waste it on an IT, and ideally will use it on the ability that will get them the most value for the current situation (generally, FS on a single target and HB for group threat). Rime gives your Obliterate hits a chance to trigger the Freezing Fog buff. This will reset the cooldown on your Howling Blast and cause your next use of HB to not cost or consume runes. This effect is very important to the central style of Frost and your use of abilities. As of 3.3.3 dual wielding Obliterate no longer appears to get two rolls to proc Rime per use.

Combining the relatively close damage values of HB and OB with the Rime effect makes for a very simple set of priorities for a Frost tank: Your best use of FU pairs is Obliterate if you are tanking a single target, or if Howling Blast is on cooldown. If you are tanking a group, or in need of multi-target threat, Howling Blast is easily the better choice and should be used whenever available. On a single target, Obliterate will get you more bang for your buck, but be sure to use Rime procs immediately unless you are trying to use a KM proc more strategically. Using your Rime proc before using Obliterate again ensures that you never waste a Rime proc by overwriting it. A Rime proc is, for all intents and purposes, free threat, and not a small amount of threat either.

So, to pull these elements together, here are rough summaries for each of the sub-methods:
2-handed Single/Double Disease: With a 2-handed weapon there is a very little difference between using a single disease rotation and a double disease rotation in the final tally of idealized damage. Because of that, a single disease rotation is popular and for good reason. This combines well, as mentioned above, with Glyph of Howling Blast, where you can simply rely on Rime procs to maintain Frost Fever, while spamming your heaviest hitting abilities. With a 2-handed, single disease method, you will want to favor Howling Blast whenever it is available, and Obliterate whenever it is not.

Dual Wield, Survival-Oriented (fast tank weapons): Some Frost Knights like to take the opportunity to use the tanking weapons that are available for 1-handed weapons so that they can make the most of their survival stats. These weapons are usually quite fast (the one shining exception currently is Quel’serrar!), and so you need to prioritize based on understanding where that will shift your damage. Single Disease setups may be about as effective as Double Disease methods, as with 2-handers, but it is worth checking against your gear. If you choose a single disease method, as with 2-handers, you’ll want to prioritize HB if it is available. If you choose a double disease method, you’ll want to favor OB, but be sure to use your Rime procs before hitting OB again.

Dual Wield, Threat-Oriented (slow DPS weapons): The most powerful threat you can produce from a Frost tanking build comes from dual wielding slow DPS 1-handed weapons with a 2-disease method. This will have powerful, hammering OB’s and the best net combination of elements to rack up big threat values. Still, it is perfectly reasonable to use a Single Disease method, particularly when you are learning to play a Death Knight tank at 80, as it is much easier to perform. Even with a Single Disease method, you may still strongly favor Obliterate, in this case, as it will hit quite hard, and always carry the potential for Rime procs.

I will discuss the ins and outs of a Double Disease method in the Ease of Play section below.

As a final item for threat consideration, I want to talk about the use of Death and Decay as Frost. Death and Decay appears very appealing to tanks in concept because the damage has a bonus threat multiplier. That said, Death and Decay is a poor fit, and not particularly needed for Frost tanks. The answer why is simply that Howling Blast really holds its own, especially when supported with Blood Boil. DnD further cramps a Frost style as it will consume 3 runes, which will interfere with your even pairings for FU abilities. There are places where the spell will be strategically convenient as a utility, but on the whole I do not recommend using it for general threat, and I don’t recommend going out of your way to buff it.

Patch 3.3.3 and the new Icy Touch, aka "Icy Slam"
In patch 3.3.3 Icy Touch has been given a new bonus threat modifier when used in Frost Presence. This bonus modifier is 7 times the threat. When combined with Frost Presence, Icy Touch does a total of roughly 14.5 times the damage in threat. Because of this Icy Touch becomes a very powerful threat tool. While Icy Slam will now be very useful, especially for opening threat, it is not generally worth using any more than you do already. It is possible to make a spec specifically designed to abuse IT, but it will play a lot like Blood without the interesting abilities tied to IT the way they are with HS. The main thing that this changes is that no DK tank should be shy about using IT, and only on rare occasion should you not open with it immediately. For Frost, it makes this a very nice way to spend odd runes that may be left out of the double rune spam, such as a second Death rune when one is used for Pestilence, or the extra Frost rune if you use glyph of HB to refresh FF and combine it with PS to refresh Blood Plague.

Survival Styles

Frost is the most stable of the Death Knight specs for survival tools, but it is also the weakest in terms of scaling and active defenses. The combined effect of Frigid Dreadplate (+1/2/3% chance to be missed) and Improved Frost Presence (Frost Presence now reduces all incoming damage by 9/10%) make the Frost tank the most solid Death Knight spec at the baseline. Blood is designed to counter this slightly squishier state with heals, while Unholy uses Bone Shield. Beyond that, however, Frost has only its primary defensive cooldown, Unbreakable Armor, and a 50% increase on the duration of Icebound Fortitude (total of 18 seconds with 3/3 in Guile of Gorefiend).

Unbreakable Armor is the iconic cooldown for the tree. The ability increases your armor by 25% (30% when glyphed) and increases your Strength by 20% for 20 seconds. Each of these has a positive effect on survival. A 25% increase in armor will depend on how much armor you have to start for the value it gets you. For example, if you have 25k armor, a 25% increase (+6250) will increase your passive reduction from 60.05% to 65.26%, or a 5.21% net gain in physical damage reduction. If you have 30k armor, a 25% increase (+7500) will increase your passive reduction from 64.33% to 69.27% or a net gain of 4.94%. Bear in mind that the smaller increase in percent reduction from a higher baseline of total reduction is actually still a consistent increase. As percent reduction approaches 100% each equal size step becomes a larger effect on damage reduction. The 20% increase in Strength will be a generous threat buff, but will also increase parry by a small amount. If you have 1200 Strength and roughly 500 parry rating initially (rough approximation around 21% parry), Unbreakable Armor will give you about 1% more parry, which is not insignificant, though somewhat smaller than the armor value for survival. Using more gear with bonus armor (i.e. neck, rings, trinkets) will improve the value of Unbreakable Armor when it is used, but remember, the damage reduction cap is 75% for armor value, so you will not get additional value when your armor goes above the current cap at ~49,903. So, if you have glyphed Unbreakable Armor, any armor in excess of 38,387 (39,992 armor without glyph) will not benefit from Unbreakable Armor. Conveniently, that armor value is not easily reached in tier 9 or lower gear. The bonus armor available in Icecrown Citadel however, may make that possible. It is important to note that this cooldown will have no effect against the vast majority of magic damage sources.

The Frost tree has one other prominent survival tool: Acclimation. Frost’s unique answer to magic damage is a special sort of buff. Acclimation gives you a 10/20/30% chance when hit by any sort of magic damage to receive a unique buff. This buff increases your resistance to the school of magic that caused the proc by 50 for 18 seconds. This buff can stack up to 3 times (150 total resistance) refreshing the duration on each additional stack, and the buffs against different schools of magic are independent, so in the rare occasion where you are taking multiple schools of damage at once (Twin Valkyr comes to mind), you will receive separate stacks for each school on their own timer. This resistance stacks with all currently available raid buffs. An important thing to know is that the resistance will apply to the spell damage that procs the buff, so at a bare minimum you will get the benefit of that 50 resistance.

To understand how much protection that grants, you have to understand magic resistance. Resistance has two inherent mechanics: damage reduction (just like armor, but against that sort of magic damage and on a very different scale), and partial resists. Just like armor the passive damage reduction will depend on where you start. If we assume you have raid buffs and no racial benefit against the specific school, we’ll assume you have 130 resistance to the school in question (from a totem, Paladin aura, etc). 130 resistance is roughly 19% reduction to damage from that school of magic. The first stack of Acclimation will increase that to 25% reduction, the second will increase that to 30.1%, and the third will make it a grand total of roughly 34.6%.

The partial resist mechanic gives you increasing chances to resist a portion of the buff in 10% steps (i.e. a 10% resist, 20% resist, 30% resist, up to 100%). The chance for each of these steps increases as your resistance increases, though it moves like a curve. At low resistances, you’ll have a high chance of small partial resists, at mid-range resistance values you’ll have a higher chance of mid-range resists and smaller chances of small or high percent resists. To use more specific numbers, at 130 total resistance, you’ll see primarily 20% resists, with some 10% and some 30% resists. At 240 resistance you’ll see primarily 30% resists, with some 20% and some 40% resists. At 540 resistance you’ll see typical partial resists around 50%, with some 40% and some 60% resists. This effect is not to be underestimated (nor is your use of resistance buffs in raids from the various sources). The quirk of the buff is that there is only a chance to stack with each portion of damage taken. That means that when damage is regular and consistent, the buff will become more powerful, but when it is more sporadic or few large hits with generous space between, the buff will not stack as well. Conveniently, when the ability does proc, it lasts for a generous 18 seconds which will work in your favor. In certain fights, this effect becomes very significant. Twin Valkyr again come to mind, as you will stack both Fire and Shadow resistance buffs and they will be maintained quite easily.

One side topic I want to touch on is Lichborne. Fairly early in the tree, this talent allows you to become immune to fear, charm, and sleep for 10 seconds on a 2 minute cooldown. This will occasionally have its value as a raid tank, for example, it will give you at least one get-out-of-fear card to play against Onyxia in phase 3, or on Auriaya in Ulduar. However, the long cooldown will limit the frequency of use, and in general you will not see many fears as a tank. This talent is primarily aimed at PvP.

Ease of Play

The primary challenge for any Frost tank is in deciding whether to take a single or double disease methodology. As described above in threat styles, the Single Disease method is much simpler, but if you are dual wielding it may easily produce less threat in single target situations. The Single Disease method relies on only Frost Fever, and if you use Glyph of Howling Blast you will never need to use Icy Touch. You can simply apply FF with HB straight away, and then rely on nothing more than Rime procs and HB coming off cooldown to maintain the disease without thinking. If you choose a Double Disease method, you have a lot more to consider and juggle. That is what I will focus on for this section.

Double Disease Methodology/Rotation
I wanted to take time out to address this method specifically, as I think it is one of the bigger game play challenges for a Death Knight tank. It is easy to say, “two diseases with two slow weapons means your Obliterates will hit like a truck.” The challenge is when you start to try to maintain 2 diseases with a Frost build. Let me first illustrate the conundrum. The tools that we will rely on are:

Icy Touch/Plague Strike (F and U, respectively): to apply diseases
Pestilence (B): if you need to spread diseases
Blood Strike (B): for single target threat and conversion of Blood runes
Blood Boil (B): for multi-target threat, but use is a consideration that BB does not proc BotN Death runes
Obliterate (FU): your major FU pain-bringer, a serious threat tool on its own that also allows free and frequent use of HB for still more value
Howling Blast (FU): near unmatched for AoE threat, particularly for the tremendous multi-target burst value. When not against a group, it is still valuable, but reserved for free spending from Rime procs

So, if we were to try and open on a Boss (starting with no runes spent, or BBFFUU), we would want to apply our diseases (BBFXUX), then Blood Strike twice to start Blade Barrier and convert the Blood runes (XXFXUX). This leaves us with the final FU pair for an Obliterate, maybe with a Rime proc. This is 5 casts, 4 single runes plus one FU pair, for 55 RP (60 with Chill of the Grave), and 7.5 seconds elapsed if you are sharp on the timing. That means you will still have 2.5 seconds until your first rune comes back. If you get a Rime proc, you’re lucky. If you’ve gotten and used an RS proc, you do not have the RP to use FS without potentially blocking your next RS. If you have SoB, CotG, have used Horn of Winter, and have glyphed FS, you may be able to get around this, but this leaves you with a space to do something or sit and wait. One easy method is to use Blood Tap and fire another Blood Strike, or if you’re trying to open big, you could go so far as to hit Empower Rune Weapon and start fresh.

The challenge with the Double Disease rotation comes once we’ve passed the opening rune sets. When your runes start coming back, you can wait for the Unholy rune you spent on PS to come up then use the first FU pair for an Obliterate. If you didn’t use Blood Tap, your other Death rune will now come up in short order and you can fire another Obliterate, always here using Rime procs when you get them. As soon as that has fired your other FU pair will come up and there is another Obliterate.

The second rune set was 3 casts from runes, and odds are at least one Rime proc. We’ll average it out and say that is 4 casts (6 seconds elapsed) and you will have the RP to fill the remaining 4 seconds until you have a rune again with a FS or two. If you do not have Epidemic, which is not uncommon for Frost Specs, you need to start finding a way to refresh your diseases now. On one side, that could easily be done by replacing the previous OB with IT/PS to be sure the diseases do not fall off. Alternately, you can squeeze out Obliterates but you will lose your diseases. Unless you saved Blood Tap for this moment, you will lose your Frost Fever and with it the full damage buffing to Frost Strike or whatever you use to fill the gap. If you choose to never let diseases fall off, you will lose that Obliterate, and the short duration on your diseases will mean you refresh them on your first and second, fourth and fifth, seventh and eighth, etc rune sets. This can be a bit confusing as it actually encourages what is essentially a 4 rune set cycle.

Potential solutions to this problem are available, but they are each a tricky choice of their own:

Epidemic: maybe the easiest choice, stretching the duration of your diseases allows you to switch into a simple back-and-forth, 2 rune set method. Apply diseases, convert Blood runes, and get one FU spend on the first set, spam FU pairs on the second set, rinse repeat. This may require points to be taken from other talents to get Epidemic and Frost is not short on good options.
Glyph of Disease: by trading away one of your glyphs, you can rely on a single Blood rune to maintain your diseases rather than taking a full FU pair. This can be helpful, but it can also add its own form of complication. If you do not use Epidemic, your second rune set will have two Death runes, and using one for Pestilence will still prevent you from a third FU pair spend. If you want to make it work without using Epidemic, I have a solution, though it is not the cleanest. At the start of the fight, when reaching the end of your second rune set, you can pop Blood Tap quickly and Pestilence to refresh disease durations. The tricky thing is that in order to keep this running down the line, you will not be able to follow a fixed rotation. Rather you will need to use Pestilence when you are last able before your diseases run out. This will inhibit your FU uses throughout your fight. If you are not comfortable playing off the books like that, Glyph of Disease will not solve the problem for you. If you have Epidemic, instead the glyph will simply give you one vital change: You will trade one BS with an IT and PS, for a Pestilence and an Obliterate. IT and BS hit sufficiently hard for Frost and PS does hit, so this may not be a fantastic trade, though it does solve one small issue: it allows you to not use KM procs on IT ever, even by accident.
Glyph of Howling Blast: this is something I label as an advanced solution. Glyph of Howling Blast will allow your HB usage, or more generally, your Rime procs to maintain your Frost Fever. As with a Single Disease method, the frequency with which you use Howling Blast (at least on the cooldown will not be prohibitive, but Rime procs will ensure it may be more often than 15 seconds apart). This solves the more important half of the disease application, in that Frost Fever will not fall off. Then your only concern becomes to make sure you reapply Blood Plague before you OB again, you can let Blood Plague fall off until you actually need it for OB/BS buffing. So to play out an idea of how that would work, you can start your pull like you would otherwise, using IT and PS for disease, BS for rune conversion, and OB for your first FU pair. Your second set, now, however should include HB if you do not get any Rime procs. If you do, you can just use OB three times again. And from here on, you’ll need to insert Plague Strikes when you need the disease buffing, and make sure that HB is used, by runes or by Rime, ideally before FF falls off. This can be a little tricky mid-rotation and have some 5 rune spending that leaves an awkward 6th rune lying around. This can be cleaned up by just inserting an extra IT, or by using Blood Tap to make an FU pair of one Blood rune and one Frost or Unholy rune. I consider this an ‘advanced’ method because it requires a non-rigid rotation, and the adaptation of the player to the constantly changing set of resources. I do not recommend this for new Death Knights, but advanced players may find that this works well for them. Used well, it can result in more total threat output than a rigid disease application method, but only once you’ve gotten behind the complicated resource management.

Frost Tank Spec Construction and Glyphs

The Frost spec talents that should be paid attention to, and are not generally worth avoiding without exceedingly good cause, are the central survival talents (Frigid Dread Plate, Improved Frost Presence), the proc-based threat/damage talents (Killing Machine, Rime), and the many passive buffs to your primary threat tools (Black Ice, Glacier Rot, Blood of the North, Rime, Guile of Gorefiend, Tundra Stalker). These central buffs combine with the play-style elements of Blood of the North, Annihilation, and the spells Howling Blast and Frost Strike, to make up the backbone of the Frost methodology.

Before we get into the details of building a Frost spec there is one vital point to take into consideration: Improved Icy Talons. Prior to patch 3.3.3 this was a tricky talent and generally unappealing to tanks as A.) it only provided a 5% haste buff for 6 points if you have anyone else in the raid providing the 20% melee haste raid buff, B.) it is 6 points in an otherwise very crowded spec, and C.) faster swing speed has limited value for tanks as it will give a marginally more opportunities for RS and a small increase in melee damage/threat. As of patch 3.3.3 this moves to become a more serious value. Improved Icy Talons will provide the same exclusive raid buff as it did before along with 5% passive haste to the tank. However, the haste granted by Icy Talons itself is no longer exclusive with the raid-wide buff, meaning that any points spent in that talent will stack with the raid buff. So a DK with Improved Icy Talons will have 45% melee haste from the 6 points. This may still not be a commanding amount of threat for a tank, but it is far more valuable now. The talent will be easiest to take with 2-handed Frost and may well be worth it.

I will create these core specs with the assumption that the buff is covered by your raid, but I will mention it as a second consideration as to where to take points from to get it, if you feel you need to bring that buff to your raid.

There are many styles, but the core of the spec you will want for Frost(2-hander) looks like this:

With 32 points in Frost, 33-35 are swing points. There are no clear cut choices if you aren’t taking Icy Talons, but Endless Winter is an easy one to take at +2% Str per point and the reduction/removal of the RP cost of Mind Freeze, Death Chill can be a powerful move for controlled bursts of threat, and Chill of the Grave can generate much welcomed extra bits of RP (bonus RP gained from CotG also generates a small increased margin of threat for the power gain). As of patch 3.3.3, having less than 5 points in Icy Talons can still be valuable as the haste stacks with raid buffs.

I do not encourage Icy Reach as the value is usually lost once the fight starts, and I do not recommend Runic Power Mastery as, with good management of Rune Strikes and Frost Strikes, you should rarely if ever reach the 100 RP cap. Merciless Combat is a sticky item as well. As far as tank values go, it really doesn’t suit us well. It will represent a threat/damage increase in the last 35% of a target’s health. Against AoE packs, this won’t get much use as things will die very quickly in that window. Against Bosses, this will come very late in the fight. If you need the threat at that late stage, you have bigger problems, and this talent is not the way to fix them. The one value to get from this talent is an increase in raid DPS, as a tank, it won’t be a commanding increase, only a min/max squeezing out of damage. Chillblains is a great talent in concept, but in raids there are a disheartening amount of mobs that are immune to the chilling effect. Hungering Cold can be a great ability for an emergency save or a quick application of Frost Fever to targets, but in the current raid environment with the lack of crowd control and the healthy amount of splash damage, you’ll rarely see this effect last even a moment unless you take the time to train your team and create a way to warn them when you’re about to use it.

I will fill in Chill of the Grave and Death Chill as I think those are the strongest choices and I need the points to continue filling out the skeleton tree, but the choice is to the user.

Point #40 is another floating point. If you are a filling Icy Talons this could be your 4th point. Otherwise, any of the above options may be your choice, but this tier offers no new talents for a 2-hand wielder. For the sake of continuing the core of the build, I’ll place that point in Hungering Cold.

Point #45 is once again a floating point. If you want or intend to take Acclimation, it is now available, as are any talents you did not take previously. I will place this point in Acclimation to climb to Tundra Stalker.

Howling Blast is a no-brainer, so you will definitely spend at least 51 points in Frost. With our other standard tanking talents, we’re left with 5 points to place. If you are filling out Imp Icy Talons, you may have put point #45 in that. If so it will only take 1 of your remaining points. If you are not taking Imp Icy Talons, you have the following good options for your remaining points (besides any of the above talents not taken, though beyond Chill of the Grave, the talents in the other trees could easily be preferable):
Scent of Blood: In the Blood tree. This will increase your income of Runic Power, and as a Frost tank, you will really enjoy the increased availability of Frost Strike.
Subversion: In the Blood tree. For threat purposes this can be a fantastic choice. A 9% increase in BS and OB crit chance can be a HUGE threat buff, particularly for a Double Disease method. If you are using a Single Disease method with your 2-hander, this is probably not the best choice, though it is definitely still a strong choice.
2-handed Specialization: In the Blood tree. Because you are using a 2-hander, this talent will be very worth your points as it will trickle down through several of your big threat tools in OB, BS, PS, RS, and your melee auto-swings.
Epidemic: In the Unholy tree. As I discussed above in the Ease of Play section, I would recommend this for new Frost tanks and players learning the ropes, as it allows for an easier or static rotation while learning. It is generally valuable, but tanks with more improvisation skill may find they can do as well without it.
Dark Conviction: In the Blood tree. This is not a bad talent as it will buff your overall threat. That said, as a 2-handed Frost tank, I would prioritize this below 2-hand Spec, and probably a bit above Subversion for a Single Disease method, or roughly on par with it for a Double Disease method.
Rune Tap: In the Blood tree. There is nothing wrong with taking this spell as it will give you a 10% heal available once per minute (for a typical tank that’s on the order of a reusable potion on a pretty short cooldown). That said, because it costs a Blood rune, you may find it is harder to use easily, particularly if you are keeping a sharp rotation, and it may interfere with your FU pair spending.

As a 2-handed Frost tank, I do not recommend the following talents, and here is why:
Butchery: In the Blood tree. This talent will garner you very minor amounts of RP compared to Scent of Blood and Chill of the Grave. If you want to squeeze every ounce of RP you can out, this is your only remaining tool to do it, but it really isn’t worth the points in a net value comparison.
Death Rune Mastery: In the Blood tree. This can be a very tempting ability to get as it can allow your Obliterates to cause your FU pairs to become Death runes. That can allow you to find more versatility in fitting your moves in at every opportunity. Combining DRM with BotN means all 6 runes can be spent in any fashion, frequently. This may work, but it can also be very under-utilized as most often you will be trying to spend FU pairs primarily, and this talent is very awkward if you don’t take the full 3 point investment.
Morbidity: In the Unholy tree. This talent is tempting to some who see Death and Decay as a key threat ability. However, as I discussed above in Threat Styles, for Frost, there is little or no use for Death and Decay, despite the bonus threat it generates. As Frost, you also will rarely use Death Coil, so one or both portions of this talent can easily go unutilized, severely diminishing the value of your points spent here.

For a dual wielding Frost tank, much of the same listed above is true. The two crucial differences are that you will no longer find value in 2-hand Specialization, and now will have 6 new attractive points in Frost spec. The core talent tree for a dual wield Frost tank should look as follows:

You will find that for these point allocations there are no blatantly questionable choices, no particular swing points, and no half-utilized values. This core will leave you with 4 points remaining to apply to the other potential values. I would choose between:

Epidemic: as referenced above, this may make your rotation easier and your method easier to play. That said it should not be seen as essential.

Chill of the Grave/Scent of Blood: These two talents each serve the same purpose so it is worth measuring their individual, potential return. Chill of the Grave 2/2 will generate 5 additional RP per usage of Icy Touch, Howling Blast, and Obliterate (and Chains of Ice). Depending on how you play you may use these tools a lot, or almost exclusively. If you are playing a safe Double Disease, dual wield method, without Glyph of Howling Blast, you can expect to use these three tools roughly 5-7 times per two rune sets, depending on Rime procs and how you manage disease maintenance. If you only use them the bare minimum of 5 times, that is 25 RP per 20 seconds, or 75 RP per minute (average that down to 37.5 per point in the talent). Scent of Blood will depend more on your gear, your target, and your weapon choice. If we assume, for conservation sake, that the tank is using two slow weapons (2.6 speed, with raid-buffed haste will be roughly 59 swings per minute), and there is a single attacker with 30 proc-capable swings per minute (~2.0 second swing timer), then it is fairly reasonable to assume that the tank will get most of the proc’d charges for up to 2/3 points in the buff, and you will only start to see a little bit of lost swings with the third point. So it is reasonable to expect that the tank will get somewhere around 4.23 procs per minute, or 4.23 swings per point, to generate 10 RP each. That works out to be roughly 42 RP per minute per point in SoB. Based on this comparison the two are very similar. CotG should be more reliable, particularly if your method uses more than the bare minimum of OB/HB in rotation (i.e. smart Rime usage). Scent of Blood will also become slightly more profitable when you are taking on more than one target, or particularly fast-swinging targets. Additional RP will allow, essentially, for heavier use of Frost Strike. For this reason, combining one or both these talents with the Glyph of Frost Strike will allow you to fill rune blackouts very well.

Subversion: For the fact that it buffs the critical chance of Obliterate alone, this talent may be worthy of your consideration. However, given the options, I would only take this if you were interested in a strong, non-playstyle buff. This will pair very well with the glyph for Obliterate.

Acclimation: For the tank most concerned with survival, this really is a fantastic talent that you may find covers you in some serious damage situations throughout the current raid content. This should not be passed up, unless your primary concern at this point is to get threat from your talents.

Frost Glyph Choices

The glyphs for Frost are probably some of the harder choices for Death Knight tanks and answers will vary largely by player. There are several very sharp threat glyphs for the Frost spec so you would be wise to figure out which one suits your personal style best.

Glyph of Unbreakable Armor: This glyph increases the amount of increased armor the Frost tank gets when using Unbreakable Armor by 20% (from 25% to 30%, *not* 25% to 45%). This is a valuable survival glyph, though it is an easy temptation to leave it off given the several powerful threat buffing glyphs.

Glyph of Obliterate: This is an easy choice for most play styles. This will increase your Obliterate damage by 20%. For any build/style that makes heavy use of Obliterate this is a hard value to match, however, given the amount of passive buffing available for Obliterate in the talents, this will still be a large value even for 2-handed, 1-disease methodologies.

Glyph of Frost Strike: Reduces the RP cost of FS to 32 RP (down from 40 RP). From one perspective this will be a 20% reduction in cost, which means you will be able to use it sooner, and more often as your critical threshold for application will change (now you can use it with 52 or more RP and not thwart your next RS proc). Combined with SoB and CotG, this can allow you very frequent access to FS without any repercussions.

Glyph of Howling Blast: This will cause your HB to apply Frost Fever to every target it strikes. The disease is applied prior to the damage being calculated, so this will, functionally, assure your HB does full damage at all times. Because the only spells that require Blood Plague to do full damage are single target, this may replace the use of Pestilence. The value and applications of this glyph have been referenced several times above. The most notable reason to use it is to never worry about Frost Fever wearing off. This glyph shines in Single Disease methods.

Glyph of Rune Strike: As for most tanks, this is a very pleasant buff to a very useful tank tool. You will find that while Frost does not have any particular benefit to the use of Rune Strike, it will still be a high-threat item on your list, and as such it is not a terrible idea to buff it. That said, given the significant game-play elements that help or hinder the Frost tree, I would highly encourage you to take some combination of the glyphs listed above before you take this glyph. The one resounding exception is if you play a heavily avoidance-centric Frost setup (creature of myth), in which case your RS will be the commanding threat tool.

There are some easy and not unusual choices that I have seen, but do not recommend:

Glyph of Death and Decay: As stated above, Death and Decay I find to be largely wasted as Frost, in all but a utility application. Improving its damage is an exercise in investing in a rare value. If you find a way to use Death and Decay very well with a Frost build, maybe this glyph will appeal to you, but unless you are doing so, I’d highly recommend steering away from it.

Glyph of Disease: I explained above, but I will repeat here. For the typical Frost methodology, this glyph will not actually prove to help much. Ultimately it may be a strong choice for a beginning Frost tank if only to make life simpler, but it is really not hard to see that it can lack value for the Frost tank down the line.

Glyph of Chains of Ice: There is a rationale where you *could* use this, in combination with Endless Winter, to have Chains of Ice replace Icy Touch in some places, particularly where you are kiting targets. That said, this is a strong strategy in PvP, but I find it is a bit too expensive and unnecessary in PvE. That is compounded with the aforementioned fact that many targets you face in raids will be immune to the slowing effect.

12-14-2009, 03:53 PM
Unholy Tanking: I have a bone to pick with you?

The Unholy style of tanking is particularly unique, and one of the most complicated to play well. Unholy tanks rely very heavily on the use of a single tool, Bone Shield, for survival, and sport a very special tool that allows them to protect themselves and/or parts of their raid from magic damage (Anti-magic Zone). The threat styles used by Unholy are heavily magic damage-oriented, and Unholy itself offers a very useful version of the +13% spell damage raid buff (exclusive with Earth and Moon from Balance Druids and Improved Curse of Elements from Affliction Warlocks).

General Unholy Style

The Unholy style uses a single, special FU pair ability, with stacked DoT effects to maximize threat. These tools can require a lot of maintenance, but if well-managed it can deal commanding threat. Without careful management however, this spec/style can appear sub-standard.

For survival, the tree relies heavily on Bone Shield as its iconic survival tool, and sole physical damage reduction from talents. The ability requires attention and maintenance to optimize its uptime. If handled well, the tank can be extraordinarily durable. If the buff is not well-managed, the tank appears with all the squishiness of a Blood tank but without the self-healing to mask it.

For these two elements combined, I consider Unholy to be the spec most challenging to non-advanced users.

Unholy Threat Styles

There are two major paths that I have identified so far for threat styles, but these paths share all of their major tools in common, they just use them slightly differently. Whether you follow one of my styles, or one of your own, I highly recommend that you figure out which elements you want to use best, and really support them with glyphs and talents.

The major tools in your arsenal are as follows:

Scourge Strike: Regardless of how you spec, if you are digging deep into the Unholy tree, this will be your best choice for use of FU pairs beyond disease application. Scourge Strike deals a solid physical hit, but it really shines as it adds damage for each disease you have on the target as shadow damage. Each disease will add 25% of the base damage you deal as shadow damage. This means that increasing the physical damage underneath will in turn scale the shadow damage which will already ignore armor.

Diseases: Unholy, more than either of the other two specs will command the largest value from their diseases. The Crypt Fever talent will boost that disease damage handsomely. If nothing else, the Unholy tank can set down respectable AoE threat just by spreading and maintaining those diseases.

Death and Decay: Again, while this is a strong tool for Blood tanks, and a possible utility for Frost tanks, Death and Decay for an Unholy tank is a powerful threat ability. This can be used frequently to cement the AoE threat caused by diseases. That said there are implications to its use that do need to be considered. I will discuss this more below.

Blood Strike/Blood Boil: Blood Strike will play a key role in the Unholy threat toolbox. Use of the Desolation talent will cause the regular use of BS to trigger a flat 5% increase in damage that will be valuable to maintain. It will last for 20 seconds though, so it is very easy to maintain with minimal attention. In addition, Blood Strike will deal increased damage for Unholy’s third disease making this a respectable use of Blood runes on single targets. When in need of AoE threat instead, Blood Boil is a powerful tool. While it does not benefit for any diseases beyond the first, it does get a very nice buff from Impurity and Ebon Plague, allowing it to provide heavy AoE support to match or surpass Blood’s use of it.

Unholy Blight: In its current form, Unholy Blight will deal 10% of your Death Coil damage over 10 seconds following the hit. That may seem like a small amount until you realize that it has the ability to stack, like Deep Wounds for Warriors. This means that so long as you fire one Death Coil every 10 seconds you can continually stack up the damage this deals over the course of the fight. This may be a new challenging task and it will influence spec and glyph choices, but used well this can cause Unholy Blight to represent a 2-5% increase in total damage/threat for a single talent point spent, if used well with other moves. I will discuss this below as well.

The basic methodology of an Unholy tank is to first and foremost always ensure that both diseases are on all targets, at all times. This will maintain the third disease, Crypt Fever/Ebon Plague, on its own. Once diseases are set, BS will be used at least once in every other rune set to maintain Desolation. For other Blood runes, if Reaping is used, Blood Strikes and Pestilence will be used to convert them to Death runes, and/or Blood Boil can be used to support AoE threat. For all FU or Death rune pairs, when diseases have sufficient duration remaining, Scourge Strike will be your powerful threat tool for supporting single target threat.

The two major paths that I will discuss here for Unholy tanking revolve around the threat style of choice. Each path will help determine which talents and glyphs will support you best. These two styles are the Death Coil Hammer and the Scourge Strike Spammer.

Scourge Strike Spammer

This style is very easy and straight forward to use. Between the two options presented here, I would recommend this first to new Death Knight tanks before the Death Coil Hammer method. This style will rely heavily on Scourge Strike as the primary threat tool.

This method will rely on Reaping, and may make use of Glyph of Scourge Strike to stretch out disease timelines. A popular alternative to Glyph of Scourge Strike, however, is Glyph of Disease as it will allow you to turn over Blood runes while maintaining diseases with a single use.

The simple method will first apply diseases (Icy Touch and Plague Strike combined will hit harder with Unholy than any other spec), spread diseases if needed (Pestilence), Blood Strike to set Desolation, then Scourge Strike to finish off the set. This will leave the tank with two Death runes instead of Blood runes, and two FU pairs, which can all be used to spam Scourge Strike. If you are using the Glyph, each Scourge Strike (ScS) will add 3 seconds to the disease duration out to a maximum of 9 seconds, which will allow you to complete 3 rune sets before they need re-application. If you use this glyph, that means you can take your third rune set to ScS twice immediately, Blood Strike to refresh Desolation, and then BS again to make sure you have Death runes. The fourth set will use an FU pair to refresh diseases, then spam two more ScS’s, and the cycle will continue as such, with disease reapplication on every third set, BS and Pestilence to convert pairs, and ScS’s for every unused FU pair or Death rune pair. This works well, provided you can wrap your head around the idea of more than a two-phase rotation.

Alternately, if you use Glyph of Disease, your rotation options will change after your first two opening rune sets. When you reach the third set, you will want to use Pestilence immediately to refresh diseases. This will also start that Blood rune rolling over, a Blood Strike and two Scourge Strikes would allow the Unholy tank to continue to spam Scourge Strike in the even rune phases.

So to illustrate in short-hand:
Opening Rune Sets:
1: IT > PS > BS > BS/Pest > ScS
2: ScS > ScS > ScS

Cruising Rune Sets (Glyph of Scourge Strike):
A: ScS > BS > ScS > BS
B: IT > PS > ScS > ScS
C: ScS > BS > ScS > BS
D: ScS > ScS > ScS
E: IT > PS > BS > BS > ScS
F: ScS > ScS > ScS

Cruising Rune Sets (Glyph of Disease):
A: Pest > BS > ScS > ScS
B: ScS > ScS > ScS

The Glyph of Disease Method will be simpler, but the Scourge Strike glyph method will probably net a bit more threat in the end, in exchange for a more challenging rotation to follow.

Death Coil Hammer

<<Note: this play style has been nerfed in 3.3 reducing the scale of UB, and is difficult to use well in ICC in light of the fewer magic damage opportunities>>
This methodology is one of my own design that I have not seen used anywhere else. I cannot guarantee that it will offer more threat than the simpler Scourge Strike-centric design, but I can say that in my tests in tier 9 content, it performed very powerfully. If Unholy is a more advanced-user style compared to Blood or Frost, this method is a more advanced-user style than the Scourge Strike-centric methods. This is largely because it adds a very important, but very tight timer to play within to maximize output. A missed step can cap your threat, but if you can maintain it, the threat can become phenomenal and get larger and larger as the fight continues.

This method, as the name suggests, makes heavy use of Death Coil and Unholy Blight. Talents and glyphs will bolster the strength of both spells such that Unholy Blight will turn out its peak output per application. Death Coil must be used every 10 seconds, and smart use of AMS can support this continuation or simply boost the stack even further for the skilled user.

In order to maintain a high amount of Death Coil casts, where one per 10 seconds is a very high RP cost, we need to use every tool available to us to maintain heavy amounts of RP coming in. The primary tools for this are Scent of Blood (as listed above will be roughly 42.3 RP per minute per point, given average boss swing timers and 2-handed weapon swings for the tank), Dirge, and AMS. Scent of Blood will create a fairly steady income of bonus RP coming in, and Dirge will improve the payoff of using ScS and PS. As opposed to the Scourge Strike style, this method will *not* use any special glyphs to handle disease refreshing. Instead you will want to use PS and IT for refreshing to make use of the improved RP generation of single-rune spell casts. In the same vein, you will want to carefully consider when and how you use DnD with this build as it will consume 3 runes for the smallest possible RP generated.

When I performed these tests in average t9 level gear, Death Coil was hitting for 3k damage or more, and fairly regularly critting for well over 6k. This is a formidable amount of ranged threat when you are doling them out at least once every 10 seconds.

The rotation for this build will be very non-standardized and will rely more heavily on priorities to make sure Death Coil is used frequently enough. This is the only Death Knight build, ever, where I will advocate using Death Coil before any spell costing available runes in certain situations. This method will apply diseases once every other rune set with IT/PS. It will also use ScS on FU pairs that are not used for IT/PS as this is still a powerful threat tool, and will still generate 20 RP (as opposed to 25 from IT/PS). Blood Runes will always be used freely for BS, BB, and Pestilence. As opposed to the Scourge Strike method where you are concerned with generating Death rune pairs for more Scourge Strikes, this build will not use Reaping, and as such there is no penalty for using Blood Boil, so long as you are sure to BS at least once every 20 seconds.

The use of AMS becomes a key threat element with this method. Magic damage absorbed by the spell will generate additional RP, and that RP can be a necessary input to be sure you get Death Coil in at the right time. In addition, once you’ve gotten used to maintaining Unholy Blight, you can use AMS and any raid encounter provided fire patch, breath, or other magic damage to fuel 2-4 chained casts of Death Coil to provide a great boost to your rolling Unholy Blight ticks. To give a more solid example of numbers, if your Death Coil hits for 3k, a one hit application that falls off will tick for 30 per second (60 per second when I developed this). On multiple fights from tier 9 content (Ony, Twins, Jarraxus, Anub, and Beasts in particular) I was able to get that to tick for 2-3k damage per second by the end of the fight. It is a very challenging balancing act to keep the stack from falling off, but doing so successfully has no ceiling beyond how much you can do in the fight duration.

As opposed to the Scourge Strike method, this method will not suffer the same with using a dual wield arrangement, and in fact that may strengthen the RP generating efficiency of Scent of Blood. However, I do not recommend dual wielding unless you are specifically talented to do so with Frost, unless you are very familiar with the class and sporting carefully chosen gear to support the style.

There is an important point to make on the use of pets while tanking. Unholy sports both a powerful ghoul and a talented Gargoyle pet. These pets can be very powerful for increasing your DPS, but they are weak for tanks because your pets are considered entities all their own. Neither your ghoul nor your gargoyle will ever generate threat for you, in any way. Because of this, no tank builds represented here will feature talents for either pet. These can be used to increase the total DPS generated by your raid, but the cost is significant to you as a tank, when there are so many strong talents that you will already not be able to take. If you choose to take these talents, do so carefully, and mindfully of what you are giving up to take them.

There is a special note with this method regarding Rune Strike. Rune Strike will always be your best way to spend RP for threat in that it is the best threat per RP efficiency. However, care may be warranted with its use and this spec, and this spec may benefit from less passive use of the spell (by creating macro’s for all your spells with RS casts included), lest you have insufficient RP at the wrong time and drop your Unholy Blight stack. This will be touched on a bit more in the Survival Styles section.

Unholy Survival Style

Unholy Spec uses very few special tools, but that means that each tool becomes very important. Conveniently for me, that means I can spend my time speaking in depth about each item.

The primary tool for Unholy’s survival is the use of Bone Shield. Bone Shield will function as a Shaman shield does. The spell will set a number of charges (3 at the base, 4 with glyph) and so long as one charge remains, the Unholy tank will take 20% less damage. Every incident of damage will remove a bone, but the shield cannot shed more than one bone every 2 seconds or so. That means that even in a constant stream of damage the shield cannot be stripped faster than 8 seconds with the glyph, though practically it is usually at least 10-12 seconds.

So long as Bone Shield is up, the Unholy tank will take noticeably less damage than either of the other two trees, so Bone Shield maintenance and optimization will be key aspects to being the most sturdy tank you can. I will explain more about stats in general for the different specs in a later section, but I want to discuss the merit of avoidance versus health for the smart use of Bone Shield. This may be the one spell in the game that can flip the common wisdom of “Health > Avoidance” on its head, and it may be one of the reasons that Unholy is not a common spec you will find tanks in.

In order to compare, I will set a baseline situation by which we can measure. A boss hits the tank for 80k damage every 2.0 seconds prior to mitigation. For the sake of simplicity we’ll assume the de-haste buff has already been applied. The tank, again for simplicity, will have the 8% damage reduction from Frost Presence, 5% from Blade Barrier (assuming 100% uptime), and will have 65% damage reduction from armor. That means that the functional total damage reduction on boss swings, before Bone Shield or other cooldowns, will be 69.41%. In other words, each swing after passive mitigation will hit for 24.5k damage.

I will compare two extreme cases that should be roughly achievable in t9 level gear, but these are extreme cases and not meant to be representative of common tanks. Tank A will have a high-health, low-avoidance setup (the sort you would see from putting pure stamina in every socket, and two stamina trinkets in trinket slots with all health/Stamina enchants). Tank A has 52k health and 52% total avoidance. Tank B has a high-avoidance, low-health setup (socket most every slot for dodge rating or stamina/dodge, using two avoidance trinkets, and rune of Swordshattering). Tank B has 40k health and 68% avoidance. These numbers are roughly rounded off from tests I did on the PTR. They are not absolute, but the proportion should be roughly accurate.

At the baseline the boss will swing 30 times per minute.

Tank A will take 14.4 hits per minute
Tank B will take 9.6 hits per minute

If we average the frequency of the hits so that they come in regularly, that means Tank A will take a hit once every 4.17 seconds, while Tank B will take a hit once every 6.25 seconds. With the same armor, that means tank A will take 5,869 dps and Tank B will take 3,916 dps, before Bone Shield. However, the value of maximum health is that it allows the tank to take more abuse before dying, and the appearance of the health bar’s shift can influence the stress state of the tank and the healers. The tank with high avoidance and low health will take less total damage, but every hit will shift the tank’s health by about 61%. The tank with high health and low avoidance will take more damage, but his health will only shift by 47% with every hit. That means that the high-health tank should survive two hits in a row (without other damage sources), while the high-avoidance tank will not. Bear in mind this is all prior to the use of Bone Shield.

Now, we will use Bone Shield. With hits evenly distributed it will skew the value slightly, as one of the strongest aspects of Bone Shield is that it is very powerful against damage sources taken close together. That said, if Tank A takes a hit every 4.17 seconds, it will take an average of 16.68 seconds to remove 4 charges. That means the shield will have roughly a 27.8% uptime (without a t9 set bonus). Tank B on the other hand will have an expected duration of roughly 25 seconds or a 41.7% uptime. Both tanks will only soak 4 hits with Bone Shield, but Tank A will take more hits without the benefit of the shield. That means that the final values will have Tank A take four 19.6k hits and 10.4 hits for 24.5k, for a total of 5,547 dps. Tank B will take four 19.6k hits and 5.6 hits for 24.5k damage, or a total of 3,589 dps. To compare as before, relative to total health, the four hits under Bone Shield will now only amount to 48.9% of Tank B’s total health, so those hits can be survived two in a row without heals, but also recognize that the number of hits taken without the armor have dropped in half.

The total reduction in damage is largely due to avoidance as you can see the same damage reduction from Bone Shield, because of the highly standardized concept of hits here. However, if you consider that any other sources of damage that happen during that time will also be reduced by 20%, the value becomes much larger, and the additional amount of coverage becomes an important buff.

Intelligent play can improve the uptime and the coverage of Bone Shield, and it is not terribly uncommon for a tank with high avoidance to see Bone Shield last the full length of the cooldown. Tactics to help improve this include pre-buffing prior to a fight. As of 3.3 this tactic can again be used as the duration has been re-extended to 5 minutes if the charges are not consumed. To do this, simply apply Bone Shield at least 30 seconds prior to starting the pull, if possible. This gets a head start on the cooldown and may allow you to reapply it as soon as it falls off, or shortly afterwards.

Another tactic that will improve your heartiness as a tank is to use other abilities in Bone Shield blackouts, periods where you cannot yet reapply, but your shield has come off. Using IBF and trinkets in these spaces will make your damage intake much more consistent. Using IBF while Bone Shield is up can work and make you exceedingly durable while both are active, but the effect will be more valuable when used between Bone Shield applications for the sake of consistency in damage taken.

There are two other survival abilities in the Unholy arsenal, but both are aimed at magic damage survival. First, 3/3 Magic Suppression will reduce all magic damage taken by 6% (to match Warrior, Paladin, and Bear Druid talents). It will also cause your AMS to absorb 100% of the magic damage taken, instead of 75%. Currently, as AMS is capped for how much it will absorb at 50% of your total health, this increase will not help you against a shot large enough to eat your entire shell in one hit. It will allow your bubble to remove your incoming damage if you’re taking multiple sources or many small hits for the duration. This also improves your income of RP ever so slightly, in the latter case.

Anti-magic Zone is a valuable, but often mis-used or under-used tanking tool. AMZ allows you to create a bubble roughly 20 yards across that will protect everyone inside. The bubble will act like an AMS for anyone standing inside of it, absorbing 75% of their magic damage taken, until it reaches a total absorbed amount of 10k plus double your current AP total. This has some interesting quirks. The first challenge to its use is that it is auto-cast centering on the Death Knight. If you want to place it anywhere other than where you are, you will have to move there. This is awkward as a tank as you may frequently be trying to avoid pointing your target towards your group for cleaves and breaths. On the other hand, it has a very interesting perk in that, if there is a single shot large enough to use the shield’s entire absorb value on any one player, it will apply the same buff equally to all group members inside the bubble simultaneously. For example, if there is a flash that will cause 20k magic damage to everyone it hits, and your bubble is only supposed to soak 20k total, when 10 people stand under the bubble they will each only take 5k (75% reduced), even though that means the total absorbed was 150k. In short, the AMZ does not choose randomly or otherwise who receives the damage and who does not. It simply acts simultaneously for everyone. So, while the ability is hard to use, it can add up very quickly to much more than the apparent value if you use it smartly. As always it can be used as an AMS for the tank that just does not grant RP, and for many smaller targets, it will be large enough to cover the melee dps at the same time.

As stated, I will discuss the value of the different tank stats in another section. However, it is important to note here that the high avoidance value will have a different feedback mechanism on the two different threat styles. Specifically, while high avoidance will work generously with Bone Shield, it may cause problems with the Death Coil Hammer method, as your increased avoidance will increase Rune Strike procs noticeably, and reduce your available RP for Death Coils.

Ease of Play

Much of this section has been discussed above. One important element that influences Ease of Play for Unholy tanks is your method for tracking your buffs. This will have a lot to do with your UI modifications, but to that end I like to use Power Auras to create special and easily watchable indicators to track both the Bone Shield duration and charges, along with the state of the cooldown. That way I can see how much time I can be prepared to cover the gaps between its uptime. I also use a tracker for Unholy Blight to watch the duration. This is vitally important for the Death Coil Hammer method to be sure you never let it drop off.

Unholy Talent Specs

The core of an Unholy build will remain roughly the same for anyone, but I will sketch it out to show where points can be moved differently for each of the two threat methods listed above. All Unholy tanks will want to reach Rage of Rivendare as the flat damage buffing is vital to your threat. Some users in the past of opted to go into Unholy without reaching this talent, but I would not recommend it unless you have a very specific plan to counter the loss, and even then, I would not recommend it.

The core of the tree should look like this:

There are not necessarily any swing values here, though some users may find they want to shift certain points. While there are other options, these are generally the safest and strongest buffs for an Unholy build. For the Scourge Strike Spam Style, I recommend putting the remaining 3 points in Reaping, and removing the 2 points from Dirge for 2-handed Specialization. For the Death Coil Hammer Style, I recommend the 3 points go in Scent of Blood.

There are some strong appearing talents that can be explained here as to why I do not prioritize them high enough to drop anything else present:

Virulence: For the Death Coil Hammer Style, this makes sense as it will ensure you do not miss any DC applications, however, it is not strong enough to warrant taking over the other talents presented. Even with the focus on Death Coil, Outbreak is the most obvious choice, but the total buffing to PS and ScS is very strong still.

Ravenous Dead: While it is very tempting to take this talent while climbing, the Strength buff is a bit weak, point for point, for your threat improvement. The core reason here is that the other half of the talent’s itemization goes to buffing your ghoul pet. As mentioned above, while ghouls are valuable for raid dps, they will not help your threat at all, and so ghoul talents will generally be excluded from my tank-centric builds.

Blood-caked Blade: This talent is a strong increase in damage/threat dealt. However, the additional strikes generated by this talent are subject to standard boss avoidance, and as such will offer additional threat value relative to your hit and expertise. In general, the total value gained from this talent is not much superior to any of the other buffs, and so this balancing act puts it slightly lower than other options on the priority list. This talent will be more desirable in a DPS build, or if you attempt to dual wield.

Corpse Explosion: While I have long been a big fan of this spell, it has fallen on hard times thanks to the nature of the Wrath of the Lich King raids. While in heroics or Naxxramas, it can be used as an alternative to Death Coil (assuming you are not using the Death Coil Hammer method), in any situation where there are multiple targets. It will easily do a larger total damage as it splashes everything in range. In Ulduar it is plagued with two major problems: 1.) much of the trash that comes between encounters is either mechanical or elemental and as such cannot be exploded. 2.) In the encounters where you might find the most use of this, namely Razorscale and Thorim, the adds are designed to disappear very rapidly so as not to slow down the players' clients (drawing more than they have to). In order to use CE well here you basically have to be waiting for the target to die and use it immediately afterwards. Needless to say that is not very helpful for a tank’s attention. In Trial of the Crusader, there is no trash, and the only adds are on Anub’rhekan, and they too are designed to despawn quickly after death. Icecrown may offer more trash to explode, but the already limited opportunity makes this not a great investment if you’re running a range of content. Otherwise, this talent will simply reign as the second coolest tool a Death Knight can have (next to Death Grip). Never underestimate the joy of flying corpse bits.

Wandering Plague: This talent is a strong value, particularly for AoE tanking, however, it is also a harder value to fully realize as a tank. Essentially, this talent gives your disease ticks a chance to crit, and when it crits, it will hit any other targets (that are not crowd controlled) in close range. This is a powerful increase in AoE threat, and even a nice value in single target threat, as a well-geared 25-man raid tank will have around 20% crit chance. However, the problem with the talent is its placement in the tree. In order to get it you will either have to give up Scent of Blood and/or part of Dirge (DCH method), or some combination of Reaping and 2-hand Specialization (ScSSp Method). These buffs are very strong to the central style, so it is not usually worth trading these quality scaling factors for Wandering Plague. Alternately, if you want to get the best possible AoE threat you can, I would recommend modifying the Scourge Strike Spam method slightly to allow you to use this, particularly by dropping points from Reaping and relying on Blood Strike more..

Black Ice: There is nothing about this talent that isn’t good for Unholy, however, it suffers being in a bad location. If you use Imp Icy Touch, and take 5/5 in Bladed Armor and Rage of Rivendare, both of which are superior values, you cannot get more than 3 points in Black Ice, and as listed above, Reaping, Scent of Blood, Dirge, and 2-handed Spec are all more valuable directly to the threat play styles listed above. If you are able to get the other talents you need and somehow shed some extra points (for example, if someone else is covering the full de-haste buff) this is the last place I would go to round out and maximize your threat.

Unholy Glyphs:

Bone Shield: This glyph increases the number of charges on your Bone Shield to 4, from 3. This may seem like a small change, but it is terribly valuable as Bone Shield is your single major survival tool as Unholy. Increasing the uptime is in your best interest. Unless you are absolutely unconcerned with survival, and even then, I would highly recommend using this glyph.

Glyph of Scourge Strike: As described above in Threat Styles, this glyph works well with the Scourge Strike Spam method, but it lends itself to a slightly more complicated rotation than Glyph of Disease would, in exchange for a little more threat.

Glyph of Disease: Again, as described above, this glyph can allow for a simple rotation, though it is only an ideal match for the Scourge Strike Spam method.

Glyph of Dark Death: This glyph is a must for the Death Coil Hammer method. As Unholy with 5/5 in Impurity, 3/3 in Morbidity, and the assorted buffs to AP and spell damage, this glyph will help Death Coil truly hit like a truck.

Glyph of Unholy Blight: This glyph is a little less clear in value. Given the current state of Unholy Blight this glyph will do less than it used to, and the only way I would recommend it is for use with the Death Coil Hammer method. If you are very comfortable with Unholy Blight Stacking this glyph can earn its value, otherwise it is easily an inferior use of the slot.

Glyph of Rune Strike: I want to make two notes on the value of this glyph here. For an Unholy tank who makes heavy use of avoidance, this glyph can really provide good buffing. That said, if you are using a Death Coil Hammer method and are trying to not over-spend RP, this may not be your best choice for glyphs.

Glyph of Death and Decay: If there is a good use for this glyph, an Unholy build will definitely be it. While I don't tend to favor glyphing DnD as I do not use it for single targets, Unholy's DnD will invariably hit the hardest. That said, as stated above, if you use the Scourge Strike Spam method, you will find too frequent use of DnD to be inconvenient and a bit prohibitive, and so this glyph will be slightly diminished in value.

Glyph of Anti-Magic Shell: In general, I don't find this glyph particularly helpful since the absorbed amount has been capped based on health. That said, a savvy user could combine this with the Death Coil Hammer method to generate still more RP. This would not top my list of best choices, but I think it could be used well, if used conscientiously.

12-14-2009, 03:54 PM
Under-utilized Death Knight Tools for Tanking

Relative to some, the Death Knight class has a great many spells and utilities. Of these many are used by both tanks and damage dealers in a variety of situations, but there are a handful of spells that are frequently under-used or under-valued.

I want to take some time to highlight these spells, their functions, and ways to improve your own usage of them.

Blood Tap

Blood Tap is a very handy move, and I’m generally hoping that people know of it and use it with some regularity. I have spoken with more than a few who were either unfamiliar or did not use it.

Blood Tap is an instant cast ability, off the global cooldown (i.e. can be used simultaneously with other moves), and has a 1 minute cooldown. When used, Blood Tap converts one of your Blood runes into a Death rune and instantly finishes its cooldown (currently it does not appear to have “smart” scripting so it will just refresh the first of the two runes as they list from left to right).

This spell has two major values:

It allows you to refresh a rune for immediate use regardless of their cooldowns.
It allows you to get access to one rune of any sort on demand (either for a single-rune ability or to pair with another rune for a FU pair).

The best use I have found for this ability is to help reduce rune blackouts while still using rune cost abilities. In other words, if you use a method that involves a lot of double-rune cost abilities, you will have more GCDs to fill. Being able to hit Blood Tap and use another spell in that rotation can be very useful.

I’ve also found that this can be handy for maneuvering runes with a Frost double-disease method. If for some reason you find yourself with an awkward setup for runes that won’t allow clean double rune spending, make sure you’ve used your Blood runes, then you can use Blood Tap to generate another FU move with only one Unholy/Frost rune available.

I’ve found this ability is least often used with Blood in rotation, as the high amount of single-rune abilities will generate very few rune blackouts, however, should you find one, Blood can make the best use of this spell. An extra HS is not insignificant, and it can also be very handy for ensuring you can use Rune Tap the moment you want it.

Empower Rune Weapon

Empower Rune Weapon (ERW) is instant cast and off the GCD. ERW will instantly restore all your runes and grant you 25 RP. This ability has a 5 minute cooldown.

This is a very powerful ability that is easily overlooked by Death Knights. Why? At a 5 minute cooldown you don’t want to waste it at the wrong time as that will work out to be roughly once per encounter, unless you use it very early. If you combine this desire for caution with a conservative tank, you will find the ability is forgotten for lack of use.

What is the optimal use for this ability? There are two major scenarios that I think merit its use.

While tanking, one of the major vulnerabilities of a Death Knight is our dependency on runes for some key abilities. We have no AoE taunt, so in order to engage multiple targets well we need to use multiple spells, or high rune-cost spells. This is also the case of an emergency where an enemy is pulled off of you when you are stuck on a rune blackout. At this time, the ability to refresh all your runes is the ability to reclaim your control quickly. However, this needs to be an isolated situation or even ERW will not save you with its long cooldown.

The second and generally more advisable use of ERW is to generate a strong burst of threat when you really need it. In general, it is a smart move to have prepared tactics involved for a fight, rather than to run in and wing it every time. These tactics involve preparing snippets like a rotation to insert into your tanking maneuvers. ERW is a move that can allow very specific tactical moves. I will give examples for each tree. The common element is that to make the best use of the spell, you’ll want all your runes on cooldown.

As Blood you can use one of two quality uses for this refresh. The first will be for some emergency damage control. At any time regardless of the state of your Death runes generated by DRM, you can pop ERW and fire 2 rapid Death Strikes. Provided your diseases are up and rolling, this will quickly return 30% of your health. If you also throw in a Rune Tap, you can restore 50% of your health in less than 2 seconds. If you use this with Vamp Blood this is an enormous amount of healing, completely by you. The alternate use can be to generate a very high amount of threat in a relatively shorter timeline. I recommend doing this after your opener, or an appropriately similar position in your cruising rotation. The goal is to find a place where you use two Death Strikes together to convert both FU pairs and create a rune blackout. Immediately following your second Death Strike you can hit ERW and refresh all your runes, which will give you 6 runes free for Blood rune spending. 6 Heart Strikes or Blood Boils can get a very useful bit of threat in any situation. This can further be combined with other damage increasing cooldowns like Heroism/Bloodlust, Hysteria, or Tricks of the Trade to cement your threat lead or power through a period where a boss will take extra damage/threat from the raid, or the damage dealers will be trying to burn the target down extra hard. If well-played it is not uncommon to see your average threat per second jump by 30-50% for a half-dozen GCDs.

Frost’s uses of ERW will vary a bit with your choice of weapons, specs, and styles. However, one of the best uses of this spell for threat will be following any rune set where you can fire off three double-rune abilities in a row as this will generate the longest blackout on your runes. Using ERW at this time can allow you to quickly get the Blood runes converting again, and fire off two more FU abilities in short order. This will increase Frost’s already commanding burst threat. ERW can also be used to manage some awkward situations with rune spending if you’re using a double-disease rotation. If you find yourself with an awkward place on disease durations and runes available, this can be used to open up your options to get a clean start on your runes.

Unholy will use this ability usually much the way Frost will. The ability to refresh your runes and fire a few quick Scourge Strikes and Blood Strikes will be a very useful ability for threat. In addition to that, the bonus RP can be very advantageous to support or maintain your Unholy Blight. If you are using the Death Coil Hammer method, you can create a sequence early in the fight to generate a heavy stack for Unholy Blight which can give you an early bump to your baseline threat. If you know you will be able to use AMS well early in the fight, you can perform a quick opening set to get diseases set and refreshed, and use AMS to spam some Death Coils. Once you do this, you can re-spend your runes to get them quickly on cooldown and your Blood runes converted, and you can then pop ERW, use Scourge Strike a few more times, then monopolize on the long rune blackout to spam a few more Death Coils. This combination will allow you to get your Unholy Blight to a high level earlier on. If you are adept at maintaining the Unholy Blight duration, this can really add up over time.

Death Pact

This is an ability I myself am guilty of under-using. Death Pact allows you to sacrifice your summoned ghoul to instantly restore 40% of your total health with a 40 RP cost and a 2 minute cooldown. There are several limiting factors on your ability to use this spell as a tank, but they are not entirely prohibitive.

The requirement of a ghoul makes things slightly complicated. As, generally, no tank will have a permanent ghoul pet, it is rare that a raised ghoul will actually survive very well if it is summoned in advance in many raid situations. Furthermore, to make use of this when it matters most, you will need to purchase Corpse Dust or a Glyph of Raise Dead. The summoned ghoul will, without talents from Unholy, only last 1 minute with a 3 minute cooldown, which means that the most a Blood or Frost tank can use this will be once every 3 minutes. Most Unholy tanks will not take points in Night of the Dead, so they will have the same restriction. An Unholy tank who does invest in this talent can have a ghoul available every 1.5 minutes, or slightly more often than the cooldown on Death Pact, and this talent will also grant the standard passive magic damage protection that other pets get. This means you will be able to summon your ghoul more preemptively. This does not seem like a great reason to invest in this talent, personally, but some may find they like this as a tool for tanking.

Many players swear by a macro to summon their ghoul and instantly sacrifice it for health, though I have had issues where I have to spam the button a couple times to get it to fire both effects as the ghoul takes a bit of time to claw his way out of the ground and be accessible. Because of this, I simply roll one binding to the next.

This heal should not be forgotten, as there are no other Death Knight tools that can return as much health as quickly.

Raise Dead/Ally

Beyond just the use for sacrificing your ghoul for health, having a ghoul and/or risen ally can be a handy little bump to your raid dps. If you are aiming to save this for Death Pact then you can only consider this in terms of Raise Ally.

Raise Dead, without talents, has a 3 minute cooldown and a 1 minute ghoul duration. Be wary of fights where there is much non-directed AoE damage as your ghoul may die very quickly and waste the summoning. Your ghoul will manage its abilities on its own without talents to make it a permanent pet, so all you need to do is summon it, and it will attack whatever you do.

Raise Ally has a 10 minute cooldown, but it will allow one of your friends to come back as a ghoul for up to 5 minutes. Presumably, the player will be able to survive a bit longer than a computer-scripted ghoul as it can dodge raid hazards. If you have a raider who is down and cannot/will not be Rebirthed/Reincarnated/Soul Stoned, this can let that player still contribute to the raid a while longer.

Using these spells at all will generate more total effect than they will when never used, regardless of effectiveness. Keep that in mind and pay close attention to when and where you can use ghoul support best.

Army of the Dead

Thanks to the damage dealers’ community wisdom, many Death Knights have learned that Army of the Dead can be a powerful tool for bumping raid DPS. However, there are some other aspects that may be missed by Death Knight tanks.

When cast Army of the Dead needs to be channeled for 4 seconds and a ghoul will be raised every half second (for 8 ghouls total). The spell has a 10 minute cooldown. While channeling the Death Knight will take a percent less damage equal to the sum of their dodge and parry chance.

This move can easily be a double-edged sword for you and any DPS Death Knights in your raid. Used at the wrong time, these ghouls can wreak havoc on your encounter. The ghouls will attempt to taunt and tank targets they attack, though it appears their “taunt” only serves to catch up to the threat leaders on the target but their personal threat will not be strong against a tank. If this is used at an awkward time or the beginning of a fight, however, beware. The ghouls can and will pull attention from the tank, and when they do, they tend to dance awkwardly along with their target as they try to settle into a stable position. This means the tank could have a lot of trouble controlling the position, direction, and threat of the boss. While the ghouls are up they will do a fairly generous amount of damage.

There are 3 main places and applications I have found for this spell.

First, you can use the spell like a DPS Death Knight would, simply summoning an army of ghouls to boost your raid DPS for a time.

Second, this ability can be fantastic for covering a tank’s death or when reaching an enrage timer on a raid boss. The ghouls will usually have to be targeted one by one and killed by the boss before he will start to ravage your raid. This can by you a vital window to resurrect a tank, or kill the boss before everyone in the raid is dead.

The third and least appreciated element of this spell, is the damage reduction. I have not yet tested to see if this works on the reduced avoidance value or the actual avoidance value in Icecrown Citadel yet. However, this spell will grant the tank 4 seconds of upwards of 40-55% damage reduction. This may be useful just to cover you while summoning your army, but this may also be a key value if you are expecting to have to take an unusual big chunk of damage. The window is short, but using it well may swing the tide of a fight on that rare occasion when you have a hole in your other defensive cooldowns.

If you are curious about how Army of the Dead will affect different fights, you can usually find a listing in any resource available to DPS Death Knights.

12-14-2009, 03:54 PM
Tanking Stats and Weapon Runes

While talents, glyphs, and spells make the major distinction of being a Death Knight as opposed to any other sort of tank, each class/spec will have its own values and priorities when it comes to gear. Usually this will take effect in your selection of enchants and gems. Rather than just telling you what enchants and gems I think are best, I want to first illustrate the different tank stats, explain their use, and then give my preferences as far as gems and enchants go.

The stats you will see and want most on your gear as a Death Knight tank are:
Defense Rating
Dodge Rating
Parry Rating
Hit Rating
Expertise Rating

For all intents and purposes these are the only stats you will need or get much use out of. You will not find raw Attack Power, Haste rating, Critical Strike rating, or Armor Penetration rating (there is one random, and odd exception to this in Ulduar10) on Plate tanking gear. That said, as we will often use DPS weapons to tank, we will find some of these stats in relatively small quantities, so I will also touch on their value.

The primary value of armor is as a passive physical damage reduction. Armor will be converted into a percent value. This percent value is designed to be gained in smaller increments per equal amount of armored gained as your total armor increases (diminishing returns). Contrary to how this may appear, this is done so that each step of armor will give you roughly linear improvements in survival. This is a side effect of working with percentages. The level of the attacker will determine in a small part, the protection your armor grants. For a level 80 Death Knight tank, the formula to calculate damage reduction is:

Target is level 80, % Damage Reduction = (Armor / (Armor + 15232.5)) * 100
Target is level 83(raid boss), % Damage Reduction = (Armor / (Armor + 16635)) * 100

Damage reduction from armor is capped at 75%, and can never be increased from that by any means. That means that against a raid boss at level 80, you cannot receive benefit from armor above 49,905. Against a target at level 80, the maximum value is 45,698.

Armor comes in three forms:

Base Armor from armor pieces (head, cloak, chest, wrists, gloves, belt, pants, boots)
Bonus Armor from jewelry, trinkets, weapons, and bonus armor on gear (any armor where the number appears green)
Agility grants additional armor, 2 Armor points per 1 Agility point

To find bonus armor on gear simply subtract the green value from any other piece with the same item level and armor weight. Type 1 armor is buffed by the Toughness talent, the Austere Earthsiege Diamond Meta gem, and the use of Frost Presence. Armor types 2 and 3 are not increased by talents or stance, but will be increased by the use of Unbreakable Armor for Frost tanks. Armor gained from type 3, Agility, also benefits from percent gains in your core stats (i.e. Kings and Improved Gift of the Wild).

Bladed Armor increases your AP by 1 point per 180 points of your total armor (types 1, 2, and 3 included), per point invested in the talent. As such this talent will allow armor to act in part as a threat stat as well as a survival stat.

Armor has no effect on magic damage itself. There are some situations where magic damage is related to a reducible physical damage, armor may affect it indirectly, but this is an unusual case.

Currently you will find a healthy helping of Strength on any level 80 plate gear. This is a major part of how tank threat is buffed and scaled for elevating levels of content.

Strength will grant 2 Attack Power for every 1 point of Strength. There are talents throughout the trees that can augment the value of each point of Strength, and as such effectively get us more AP per point of Strength on gear. These talents are Veteran of the Third War (Blood), Abomination’s Might (Blood), and Ravenous Dead (Unholy).

All Death Knights also have a passive spell called Forceful Deflection. This spell will convert 25% of our Strength into Parry rating. This rating will be added to any that you receive from gear, and will be affected by diminishing returns. I will discuss this further in the section on Parry.

Strength is above all else a threat value, but through Forceful Deflection it will also grant some small survival ability to Death Knight tanks.

Stamina is the stat that will directly increase your health. For all intents and purposes, any Stamina you add through gear will offer 10 health per 1 point of Stamina. However, like Strength there are a variety of talents and effects that can increase the amount of Stamina you actually get from each point on gear. Veteran of the Third War is the only talent that will increase your total Stamina. Frost Presence will offer another 6% Stamina to the tank, and the Runes of Stoneskin Gargoyle or Nerubian Carapace will add another scaling effect. These percent Stamina increases are applied to your total Stamina and so will increase each other (combine multiplicatively), along with Blessing of Kings/Sanctuary.

For example, if a Blood Tank with 3/3 in Vot3W (+3%), is in Frost Presence (+6%), using Rune of Stoneskin Gargoyle (+2%), and is buffed with Blessing of Kings (+10%):
Total +% Stamina = (103%)(106%)(102%)(110%) = +22.50% Stamina

That means that 1 point of Stamina on gear will effectively be 1.25 points of Stamina for the Death Knight, or 12.5 health per point.

Health value is a very big deal for Blood tanks, but it is still a very important element for all tanks. The critical need of Health is based on the size of the hits the tank takes, which is in turn a product of the various mitigation effects available to the tank. Generally speaking, a good goal for your health is that you can survive at least 2 hits in sequence without healing and without dying. That is not always possible depending on what content you are in, and in an ideal balance, you should be able to survive 3-4 or more hits without dying or being healed, but that will also depend on the variables of attack speed and multiple damage sources.

Defense Rating:
Defense rating will be available in some scale on almost every piece of tank gear you acquire, aside from Trinkets, and the odd piece of Jewelry.

The first thing that you need to understand is the difference between Defense rating and Defense skill. Defense rating is received as a stat on gear, while Defense skill is the final value that appears on your character sheet. Defense skill will be used to compare to your opponent’s level (via their weapon skill which is their level times 5). Note: the Runes of Stoneskin Gargoyle and Nerubian Carapace grant you Defense skill which is added directly to your character sheet total.

Defense rating plays two key roles. First it will affect your chance to be critically hit by computer controlled opponents. The chance to be hit with a critical strike is 5% plus 0.2% per level difference above you the opponent is, so a raid boss (essentially level 83), will have a 5.6% chance to hit you with a critical strike. To determine the opponent’s chance to critically strike you, subtract the difference between your Defense skill and your opponent’s weapon skill (level times 5), divide that value by 25, and subtract it from 5. Or as follows:

% Chance to be critically hit = 5 – [(Tank’s Defense skill – (Target’s Level x 5)) / 25]

So, if your target is level 83 (Weapon Skill = 415), and you have 530 Defense skill, you will have a 0.4% chance to be critically hit.

A critical strike from a computer opponent will do double its normal damage. This can represent a very significant increase in damage taken when it happens, so your general goal will be to make sure you are never critically hit.

The second value you gain from Defense rating is in the form of increases in your chance to be missed, your chance to dodge, and your chance to parry (this would also apply to Block chance, but we do not use shields). Every 1 point of Defense skill will grant the Death Knight 0.04% chance to dodge/parry or be missed, prior to diminishing returns. Defense rating converts to Defense skill at a rate of 4.918 Defense rating per 1 Defense skill. So, 24.59 Defense rating will grant 0.2% miss, dodge, and parry chance before diminishing returns.

While the value of this avoidance should not be underestimated, Defense rating will not provide the same total avoidance value as pure Dodge or Parry rating.

Dodge Rating
Your chance to dodge is determined, after the Anticipation talent and a base 5%, by Dodge rating, Defense rating, and Agility. These three factors combine and are applied with a diminishing curve so that each incremental increase in Dodge chance is a little more expensive to get. Like with armor this allows Dodge to scale linearly with a consistent gains in the ratings, rather than having each equal increment give you more value than the last.

Of the three tools for increasing Dodge chance, Dodge rating will provide the largest increase per point. Prior to diminishing returns, Dodge rating will grant 1% Dodge per 45.25 points of Dodge rating. The cap to which the curve diminishes for Dodge rating is approximately 88%, so Dodge rating also sports the highest potential for total avoidance.

Dodge is an avoidance ability. That means that a successful dodge will result in no damage being taken. Only physical swings can be dodged, this survival tool will have no effect on damage sources that cannot be avoided such as most magic attacks (note: some are attached to a physical strike which can be avoided) and many special attacks in general.

Parry Rating
Your chance to parry an attack is determined by your Parry rating and your Defense rating. As with Dodge, these factors are subject to diminishing returns that will inform your decision on which avoidance stat will give you the best total avoidance.

Parry behaves like Dodge in that when you parry an attack you will take no damage from that attack. The difference in effect, however, is that every time you parry an attack you can be “parry hasted.” Parry haste will have a varying effect depending on where you are in your swing timer. A successful parry will reduce your current swing time by up to 40%, but it cannot reduce it to less than 20% of the timer remaining. That means that you can short hand this into three possible behaviors:

>60% of your swing time remaining = reduces your swing time by 40%
21% – 59% of your swing time remaining = reduces your swing timer to 20% remaining
<20% of your swing time remaining = has no effect on your swing.

In other words, if you have a 3.5 second swing timer (so parry cannot reduce that below 0.7 seconds remaining), and you have 3.2 seconds remaining until you swing again, a successful parry will instantly reduce you to 1.8 seconds remaining until your next swing. This effect will average a small increase in haste for your melee auto-swings which will in turn increase your auto-attack damage, and give you more frequent swings to utilize Rune Strike procs. The haste effect is relatively somewhat small compared to other threat increasing stats, but it is not completely negligible.

Parry rating is diminished on a curve towards roughly 47%, and otherwise gains the same value per point as Dodge rating at 45.25 Parry rating per 1% Parry before diminishing returns. Because of this Parry will grant less total avoidance per point than Dodge below a certain threshold. This threshold can be found by subtracting your contributions that are not subject to diminishing returns (from base avoidance, talents, and weapon runes) from your current totals, and comparing that Dodge% to the Parry%. If the Dodge% is more than 1.88 times the size of the Parry%, then Parry rating will give you more avoidance. The equations are:

Diminishable Dodge = (Current Dodge on character sheet) – (5% for base) – (1% per point in Anticipation) – (1% if you are using Rune of Stoneskin Gargoyle)

Diminishable Parry = (Current Parry on character sheet) – (5% for base) – (1% if you are using Rune of Stoneskin Gargoyle) – (4% if you are using Rune of Swordshattering)

If: (Diminishable Dodge) > (Diminishable Parry) x 1.88
Then: Parry rating will give more avoidance point for point
Otherwise: Dodge rating will give more avoidance point for point

This should not influence your choice of gear based solely on whether or not the gear has Parry rating. It should only affect your choice of gems if you choose to gem for Avoidance.

In general, this will not affect Death Knight tanks unless you are deliberately stacking large amounts of Avoidance ratings, and this is all because of Forceful Deflection. The Strength on all tanking gear will provide heavy amounts of Parry rating that will make it very hard to overcome that ratio with Dodge rating on gear.

Hit and Expertise Rating
These two stats will be found occasionally on tanking gear, and for this we should be grateful. These two stats will combine to determine whether or not we will hit our targets with any of the moves we use. Some of these numbers are listed above, but I will reproduce them here. The chances against targets are as follows, all assuming a level 80 Death Knight as the attacker:

Chance to be dodged, parried, or miss:

Level 83 (Raid Boss)

8% chance to miss with all special melee attacks, 2-handed melee auto-swings
27% chance to miss with 1-handed auto-swings while dual wielding
17% chance to miss with certain spells (Dark Command, Icy Touch, Death Coil, Howling Blast, Blood Boil)*
5.6% chance for all melee attacks to be dodged
~14% chance for all melee attacks to be parried

Level 82 (Heroic Boss)

7% chance to miss with all special melee attacks, 2-handed melee auto-swings
26% chance to miss with 1-handed auto-swings while dual wielding
6% chance to miss with certain spells (Dark Command, IT, DC, HB, BB)*
5.4% chance for all melee attacks to be dodged
5.4% chance for all melee attacks to be parried

Level 81

6% chance to miss with all special melee attacks, 2-handed melee auto-swings
25% chance to miss with 1-handed auto-swings while dual wielding
5% chance to miss with certain spells (Dark Command, IT, DC, HB, BB)*
5.2% chance for all melee attacks to be dodged
5.2% chance for all melee attacks to be parried

Level 80

5% chance to miss with all special melee attacks, 2-handed melee auto-swings
24% chance to miss with 1-handed auto-swings while dual wielding
4% chance to miss with certain spells (Dark Command, IT, DC, HB, BB)*
5.0% chance for all melee attacks to be dodged
5.0% chance for all melee attacks to be parried

*Note: Death and Decay does not appear to follow the standard spell hit chance, this may have to do with the once per second tick.

To counter these values you have Hit rating and Expertise rating. Each will reduce the chance of misses, dodges, and parries, using the following exchanges:

32.79 Hit rating = will remove 1% chance to miss with melee swings of any sort
26.23 Hit rating = will remove 1% chance to miss with spells of any sort
32.79 Expertise rating* = will remove 1% chance to be dodged and 1% chance to be parried

*Note: every ~8.20 Expertise rating will equal 1 Expertise skill point that appears on your character sheet. You will want 26 Expertise skill to remove any chance to be dodged by any target in the game currently.

In addition to these values, in various buffs you can receive 3% reduced miss chance on your spells from Misery applied by Shadow Priests or Improved Faerie Fire applied by a Balance Druid. Misery is a universal talent taken by all Shadow Priests and is applied automatically when they use their key spells. Not all Moonkin will have Improved Faerie Fire, and may not maintain it as well, as it is applied through an individual spell cast. A Draenei of any class in your party (not raid-wide) will grant you a 1% reduction to miss chance with both spells and melee attacks.

As a Death Knight tank, while not necessary, it is very valuable to try to reach the “soft hit cap” or the point at which you will never miss your special melee hits. This will allow smooth rotations and predictable outcomes. While the runes will regenerate faster if a hit fails to land, a hit that misses will cause zero threat and possibly delay other factors like the application of diseases and debuffs.

Similarly it can be very advantageous to have at least the “soft cap” of Expertise as well, or 26 Expertise on your sheet where you can be sure to never be dodged by your targets. Until you reach 26 Expertise, every point of Expertise rating will reduce your chance not to hit by double the amount that Hit rating will, in regards to melee attacks. Because of this, you will find Expertise a very valuable investment for threat until that point, particularly as Blood spec and dual wield Frost.

As a side note, while not every opponent can do it, the parry haste mechanism described above can also be used by certain raid bosses. As such, reducing your chance to be parried can sometimes also provide some small survival value by reducing the number of swings you take. This is not a major value in most cases, but it is still worth noting. Contrary to popular concerns, there is no immediate danger of dual wielding causing extremely rapid death for Frost dual wielding tanks provided typical Expertise values. However, in the cases where parry haste is possible, using slow weapons and being at or above the soft expertise cap will virtually eliminate noticeable effects of any additional parries you may generate.

Additional ‘Threat’ Stats
As mentioned, because we often use DPS-itemized weapons to tank, we will occasionally get DPS stats.

**The first and most important thing to understand is that the weapon DPS will always outweigh the benefit gained from any stats on the weapon for threat output. That said, you may value Hit or Expertise rating for matters of convenience and reliability rather than raw total threat output.

To understand the other stats you may get:
Haste Rating: will increase your auto-swings with your weapon. This will increase your auto-attack damage, and increase your opportunities to use Rune Strike. For a Death Knight this will have no effect on your Global Cooldown, and so otherwise is not a terrific stat.

Critical Strike Rating: will increase your chance to crit with both melee and spell abilities. This can be very valuable for threat.

Armor Penetration Rating: will effectively reduce your target’s armor against your attacks that would otherwise be mitigated by armor (i.e. physical damage). The effect of this rating will be slightly diminished by the presence of other armor reducing debuffs such as Sunder Armor and Faerie Fire, though it is still a nice buff for certain abilities. Blood tanks will see the most benefit here, followed by Frost and Unholy who use much more non-physical damage.

Agility: will grant a few small bonuses. It will give the wielder increased chance to dodge, increased armor, and increased chance to hit with melee critical strikes. It will grant less avoidance than Dodge rating, and less critical chance than Crit rating (and only melee critical chance, not spell), but it is the only way to add armor via sockets, and will offer a strong net value.

In general, I would not recommend socketing anything from the “Additional Threat Stat” list, however, Agility may be a worthwhile investment as it is the only stat you can gem for, other than Stamina, that will increase your Effective Health. If you are trying to maximize your Avoidance, however, Dodge rating will always be preferable.

On Gems and Enchants
There are a great many options available, but given the above information, I recommend the following guidelines:

When picking gems, you can follow one of two paths: Maximize a single stat –or– Get the best net value out of your gems.

Maximize One Stat: put the same stat in every slot, regardless of socket colors and bonuses, and only use other color gems if needed for your meta gem bonus.
Best Net Value: find the best gem to match each Red, Yellow, and Blue sockets to always make socket bonuses. You may not get as much of the single stat, but you will get the largest net benefit to your survival/threat. Generally, it is worthwhile to invest in your health, so you may use Purple, Green, and Blue gems to get Stamina in every socket. Popular Purple gems would be Regal (Dodge/Stam), Shifting (Agi/Stam), and Guardian (Expertise/Stam). Popular Green gems would be Enduring (Def/Stam) and Vivid (Hit/Stam).

There are prime tanking enchants for every slot, but for some slots there are more than one. Do not under-estimate the value of:

Hit rating to gloves, this can be very valuable particularly while gearing up.
PvP Head/Shoulder enchants to get more Stamina at the expense of Defense/Dodge. Resilience will contribute to your reduction in chance to be critically hit, and can reduce your need for Defense rating early on. Note: if your defense is sufficient to remove your chance to be crit, Resilience will offer no value whatsoever in PvE.
Trading a small amount of Stamina on your boots to increase your run speed. “Tuskarr’s Vitality” will grant 7 less Stamina but increase your run speed slightly.
Heavy Borean Armor patches are available to grant 18 Stamina to Head/Shoulder/Chest/Gloves/Legs/Feet, however, this is inferior to other Stamina enchants available for the Head, Shoulder, Chest, Legs, and Feet slots. For a Death Knight, this is only a strong alternative for the Glove slot.

Taking a profession can give you strong options to improve your passive stats:

Engineering will offer a +885 Armor to glove enchant, a 45 Stamina head enchant (Mind Control does not work well while tanking), a Cloak enchant that offers slightly more Agility than the pure Agility enchant and will give you a parachute, and a belt enchant that will dispense bombs on cooldown. Engineering can also make separate bombs, though they will share the same cooldown, the belt cannot be consumed, and is not exclusive with the belt socket added by Blacksmithing attachment.
Blacksmithing offers two additional Prismatic sockets, one for Bracers and one for Gloves. These additional sockets can offer whatever value you get from the gems you use. The sockets do not affect socket bonuses at all, but they will contribute towards meta gem requirements.
Jewel Crafting grants access to special “Jeweler’s Gems.” You can have 3 of these in your equipped gear at a time and they will offer additional amounts of the normal stat, but only offer a single stat, never split values.
Enchanting offers ring enchants. For a tank you can add 30 Stamina to each of your rings.
Alchemy offers a passive buff to increase the effect and duration of any flask, elixir, or potion you use.
Leatherworking offers a self-only Bracer enchant, which for tanks can be +102 Stamina.
Inscription offers a self-only Shoulder enchant at 60 Dodge Rating and 15 Defense rating.
Tailoring offers a self-only Cloak enchant that will occasionally give the user additional AP.
Each of the gathering professions also grants a buff. Mining will increase the user’s stamina, Skinning will increase Crit rating, and Herbalism will grant a special heal.

*Note: each of the buffs that can grant you a passive increase to Stamina are all balanced to match each other in total scale.

Highest Item Level is not always the best piece of gear for you at any given time. Choose your upgrades carefully, and match your enchants and gems to suit the needs of the gear you equip. That said, do not pass up the opportunity at tank gear when it doesn't seem like a good upgrade currently, as you may get more value out of it at a later time, or value from it in a secondary special tank set.

Death Knight Weapon Runes
Death Knights are given access to a special tool. They can apply unique enchants to their weapons in place of a permanent enchant granted by Enchanters. These enchants are usually better than anything else available, though that is not universally true. Some dual wield Frost tanks have found great success using Blade Ward on one or both weapons. Blood Draining seems like a good value for a Blood tank, however, I suspect the tanking Runes will grant better overall survival value.

The Death Knight runes that will be most significant to a Death Knight tank are as follows:

Rune of the Stoneskin Gargoyle (SSG) = this Rune will increase your Defense skill by 25 and grant 2% more Stamina. The 1-hand version (Nerubian Carapace) will grant 13 Defense skill and 1% additional Stamina to each weapon it is placed on.
Rune of Swordshattering (SS) = this Rune will increase your Parry chance by 4%. The 1-hand version (Swordbreaking) will grant 2% Parry chance on each weapon. This Parry chance will not be affected by, or contribute to the diminishing returns on Parry rating. These Runes also grant a non-stacking 50% reduction in the duration of Disarm effects, but these are currently non-existent in raids, and nearly so in 5-mans.
Rune of Spellshattering = this Rune will reduce all magic damage taken by 4%. The 1-hand version reduces magic damage taken by 2% per weapon. Both versions reduce silence durations by 50%, again non-stacking.
Rune of the Fallen Crusdaer = this Rune will sometimes heal the Death Knight for 3% of her total health and grant 15% bonus Strength for 15 seconds.

There are a couple other damage-oriented weapon enchants, but they are less ideal for a tank. SSG will be a very valuable tool for new tanks trying to remove the chance of being critically hit. After that point is reached from gear alone, the Rune will grant less avoidance than SS, but the bonus health can be particularly valuable depending on what content you are running and what spec you are. Specifically, Rune of SSG will grant you 1% miss, dodge, and parry each, along with the 2% stamina buff, while Rune of SS will grant you 4% parry (note: only 2% of the 3% on SSG can proc RS). SS will be your single best Rune for combining survival (through avoidance) and threat (through Rune Strike use).

Spellshattering/breaking is generally dismissed as a tanking rune. That said, it can be a very valuable tool in certain encounters. The major problem is that you cannot swap Runes mid-instance, so this is usually only worth carrying along if you have an additional weapon that you can put this on and keep in your bags for the times it will be valuable. In general the avoidance and health from SS and SSG will grant more total survival value against the predominantly physical raid environment.

Rune of the Fallen Crusader is primarily a DPS Rune. That said, the heal can be particularly powerful for a Blood tank, or any tank who has a generous amount of health, and the increase in Strength also grants some small avoidance in addition to the powerful threat buff. I do not recommend this over the net value of the other runes, but it may sometimes be worth carrying for threat.

12-14-2009, 03:54 PM
UI Modifications and Macros

There are extensive discussions elsewhere on the topic of UI design, and I will not get very deeply into that here. However, I am a firm believer that the current default UI design for displaying Death Knight runes is actually inconvenient to the point of obstructing smart play rather than being a non-factor.

Using your runes smartly and quickly will frequently place the user in a constantly shifting flux of availability and cooldowns. To make the absolute most of your resources it is in your best interest to have those resources very visible. To that end, I highly recommend that all Death Knights, regardless of whether or not you use many addons, should get a UI Mod that will track rune cooldowns, if nothing else. Many of these addons will also offer Disease duration trackers, RP gauges, and the like.

My personal favorite for rune tracking is RuneWatch. This has been around since the WotLK beta, and is a solid little addon. It can be set to “compact mode” and placed anywhere on your screen. I prefer it be set at the bottom middle, but that may vary for you based on where your unit frames are placed. Rune Watch will show you a central orb that displays your current RP, each of the 6 runes will be displayed around that and you can customize the order and appearance of them, and on one side of the orb (customized through settings), it will display the current duration on your Horn of Winter, along with the duration left of each of your diseases on your current target.

One alternative that I have tried is DK.info’s “DKi Runes.” This addon is far more customizable, but may require a bit more tinkering with before you feel like it is behaving the way you want. One of the very nice features of this rune tracker allows you to show runes sliding towards the frame rather than giving you a numerical timer. Some people do better with numbers while some people understand graphical representations better at a glance. It is smart to figure out which works better for you and stick with it.

As a tank it is essential for us to be able to pay attention to what is going on, so it is in your best interest to make your runes very visible and readable at a glance so they do not distract you from what you are doing.

The last UI modification I want to plug is the use of Power Auras Classic. Power Auras will allow you to create visible glow effects that will appear or disappear on your UI when the right conditions are met. These glow effects can be fantastic for tracking the availability of special moves, the duration of current buffs and debuffs, and for watching special talent procs. Smart use of these auras can further support your ability to focus on the physical environment by providing very noticeable but not obstructing indicators. For the many things a Death Knight will want and need to track, this is a great tool.

In addition to “3rd Party” modifications, there are several helpful tools that the game offers to make your character easy to play. One of the major ones is macros. Macros allow you to create simple or complex commands and place them in a single button. This could include a conditional button that does one thing in one situation and something else in another, or it could simply perform multiple actions at once.

One very important macro is the ability to add Rune Strike to other moves. This may allow you to use it more frequently without having to push an additional button. The macro would look like this:

#showtooltip <Original Spell>
/cast <Original Spell>
/cast Rune Strike

This would create a button that looked like whatever the spell you were adding RS to and even show the tooltip if you mouse-over it. There is a common misconception that the Rune Strike line requires an “!” before Rune Strike to keep the button from toggling the ability back off if pressed again, but that is actually no longer the case. It simply won’t do anything if it is in your macro.

Some people choose to add this macro to every spell they use to make sure that no matter what they press they will always use Rune Strike when it is available. There is no good reason not to do this, as Rune Strike is invariably your best threat generated from RP. However, in the Death Coil Hammer method for Unholy tanks, you may not always want to use RS the moment it is available to ensure your Unholy Blight pacing is maintained. Furthermore, personally, I find that once you reach a high familiarity level with the class, it can be helpful to notice each of your RS procs for efficacy. If you know you hit one target with an RS, and you are trying to spread threat around, you may know you can jump to the next target immediately as RS is a powerful chunk of threat. If nothing else I do not recommend adding this macro to abilities that cost RP. That ensures that you don’t accidentally bump RS with another spell that uses the needed RP. Smart use of this macro can reduce the buttons you need to press slightly even while using it consciously, and as such can make it easier to play your Death Knight.

The Death Pact macro previously mentioned is scripted as follows:

#showtooltip Death Pact
/cast [target=pet, exists, nodead] Death Pact; Raise Dead

This single button will now summon a ghoul if you do not have one, and if you have one available, will use Death Pact. Also as mentioned, I’m not a big fan of this macro as it will require a bit of spam clicking to get it to work and I find casting each spell in sequence I can generally get it to work more efficiently. Otherwise this macro will not save you buttons, unless you do not otherwise summon ghouls, which I do not recommend.

I like using macros for some other key tasks, but as a tank the last major value I get from them is in letting your team know what you are doing. For example, as a Blood tank, I like to use the following macro:

“Grant Hysteria”
#showtooltip Hysteria
/cast [target=CharacterName] Hysteria
/w CharacterName You have Hysteria, smoosh eet!!
/raid CharacterName has Hysteria, he could use a HoT!

This macro will give your chosen teammate Hysteria, whisper them to let them know they have the buff, and announce to the raid (or healer channel if you have one) that the character will need a little extra healing.

I also have my Vampiric Blood set to announce to the healers that I will be receiving additional healing for a time. Putting these into macros allows me to avoid adding clutter to Vent during a raid encounter when someone else may need to be announcing or directing something. In general, I would recommend being wary about announcing just any cooldowns this way as it may be spammy (especially if you have a tendency to hit a button 4 or 5 times when you’re trying to use it quickly) and that may be more harm than good if no one else really needs to know about it.

There are many good resources you can find online for macros other people find helpful, along with resources on learning how to write macros.

12-14-2009, 03:54 PM

I’ve prepared this section to address many of the questions that are very frequently asked. Ideally, rather than re-answering these questions, I will simply be able to link here and people can find the answers through this listing and its links into the guide above. This list will grow with time.

Q. I’m a DK tank and I want to know how my gear/spec looks!

A. There is a separate forum where people will be ready and willing to give you feedback on your gear. I do recommend that you read this guide first and decide for yourself.

If you have a new idea for how to play a Death Knight tank, it may warrant a new post here, but please prepare your material first and support your ideas with figures, talent trees, and test data if available.

Q. I am not quite at the uncrittable cap even with my gear set up, am I going to die a horrible death??

A. Not necessarily. The ideal situation will not have critical hits even as a remote possibility. That said I have tanked all the content through Ulduar25 in gear that left me around 538-539. The chance is there but I never once saw a critical hit. It was luck, plain and simple. If you test that far enough you will lose an attempt somewhere against a boss who will hurt you badly.

Q. What are good values of Hit and Expertise to have?

A. The value of each and your relative values are listed HERE in the above guide. You do not need to be hit or expertise soft capped, but it is advisable. It is not advisable to go out of your way to reach the hard caps (dual wield melee swings never miss, spells never miss) as it will be a very heavy investment for less benefit than other possible buffs.

Q. Which is the MOST POWERFUL Death Knight tanking spec?!

A. None of them are, on their own, the best spec for tanking. Each spec has its own strengths, weaknesses, and applications. Any spec can be used for any situation without issue, but each spec will shine in some areas. You can find a short guide to finding your ideal spec HERE.

Q. Each tree has an iconic cooldown, Vamp Blood, Unbreakable Armor, Bone Shield, but people keep telling me that X is the best! Which one is the best, shouldn't I pick my tank tree based on that?

A. The short and sweet answer is that each tree is balanced as a whole, not against the single cooldown that has become iconic to that tree. Each tree has a cooldown to support its style. What does that mean?

Vampiric Blood is often heralded as the most powerful DK tanking cooldown, and not without reason. The ability increases your health by a nice step (more buffer space to blows you take not to kill you) and increases all healing on you by a pretty high measure. Both of these also double buff most of your strongest self-heals, and buff the general survival strategy of Blood that uses big health totals. However, you must note that this does nothing to effect the incoming damage you take, so it has drawbacks in the face of damage that is too large in scale, and places the stress on the healers while making their job easier. If you have no heals you still won't survive much better.

Unbreakable Armor is a relatively smaller survival buff as it represents in most gear only a 3-5% reduction in only physical damage, and a ~0.5% increase in parry. However, Frost also gets a 50% longer IBF duration, as well as the strongest passive survival tools in the tree already.

Bone Shield is a heavy static reduction at 20%, but it is restricted by charges. It can surpass UA in terms of raw mitigation as it also applies to magic, but the variable uptime may make it less reliable or scale unfavorably. It is strongest against multi-source burst damage (i.e. multiple damage sources that hit at the same time creating an apparent damage spike). Some tanks feel that the only thing that can *really* kill a good tank with strong healers is large spikes of damage in short time spans, and compared to that Bone Shield would be the best survival you could hope for.

Rather than pontificating, though, let's take a quick look at the relative value of each tree-specific cooldown in action. First let's note that UA for Frost is exclusively an anti-physical damage ability and will have no effect on magic damage. To be fair though, at least 70% of most raid encounter tank damage is physical. So, we'll use a simple test. A raid boss hitting the tank once every 2 sec for 67k damage before armor and stance/buff reductions. We'll assume we have healing effective to match the damage. We'll assume each tank has roughly 48k health raid buffed, 65% damage reduction from armor, and 60% avoidance before talents. Blood and Unholy will have 12.6% dmg reduction from Frost Pres and Blade Barrier, Frost will have 14.5%.

First, for Blood, you will have no special mitigation factors, but you can expect to have ~6% more stamina which we'll just simplify to ~6% more health. So the Blood tank has 50.9k health, 60% avoidance, and 69.4% total damage reduction. This is 20.5k per hit, and 4.1k dps. If that is matched the norm will be 4.1k hps to keep the tank alive.
When Vamp Blood is used, the tank will now have 58.5k health, and receive 35% more healing from all effects. That means that while the incoming damage is the same at 4.1k dps, the healing required to counter it will only be 3037 hps, instead of 4.1k. Assuming the health total is enough to absorb the damage allowing sufficient time for healing (each hit will take roughly 35% of the tank's total health), this will functionally reduce the load on healers by 35% or in this example 1063 hps. The assumptions here are important, but hard to quantify cleanly, as the tank will still take the full brunt of whatever damage is coming. If it is glyphed, this is 15 sec up per minute (25% uptime), or 15.95k healing need removed.

The Frost tank will have increased reduction thanks to Imp Frost Pres, and 3% more avoidance from Frigid Dreadplate, giving 48k health, 63% avoidance, and 70.1% total damage reduction. This is 20.0k dmg per hit, 3.7k dps incoming, which we'll match with 3.7k hps to keep the tank alive.
When glyphed Unbreakable Armor is applied the armor reduction will increase by ~5.7% for a total reduction from armor and stance of 75.9%, and total avoidance will be increased by roughly 0.5% to 63.5%. Now the tank will take 16.8k per hit (~35% of total health), and 3061 dps. Reduced from the 3.7k hps before that is 639 hps reduction in healing needed, or ~17%. So, for a guaranteed uptime of 20 sec per minute (33% uptime), that is a total of 12.78k less healing required.

The Unholy tank has no bonus health, avoidance, or mitigation built into the spec, instead it relies on Bone Shield to be the work horse. That means the Unholy tank will have 48k health, 60% avoidance, and 69.4% total damage reduction, for 20.5k dmg per hit, and 4.1k incoming dps.
Bone Shield when glyphed has 4 bones, and a 1 min cooldown between applications. If we disregard pre-buffing and take only the middle portion of a fight as our window, that means Bone Shield has a minimum of 10 sec uptime (we'll call the bone consumption cooldown 2.5 sec even). With 60% avoidance, we'll assume for simplicity that hits are evenly spaced and it will take 10 swings by the boss to get 4 hits, sufficiently spaced between to consume 1 bone each time. That means with a 2.0 sec swing timer Bone Shield will last for 20 seconds (33% uptime) and reduce the 4 swings by 20%. So, per minute the Unholy DK will take 4 swings for 16.4k each, and 8 swings at 20.5k each, for a total average incoming dps of 3827. That is a 273 hps less required to keep the tank alive overall. With a 20 sec uptime that becomes 5.47k less total healing required.

However, note that this example specifically circumvents Bone Shields greatest strength: stacked damage elements. There is also a key variable where uptime is concerned. As avoidance increases, and where you take multiple hits in sequence rather than them being perfectly staggered, suddenly Bone Shield uptime increases noticeably as does damage taken. Let's say, for illustration purposes, that hits come in a different sequence of 2 hits 3 avoids, 2 hits, 3 avoids (notice 60% total avoidance). Now with a 2.0 sec swing time that would cause the Bone Shield to absorb both hits at the cost of only 1 bone, and it would take 20 swings to remove all 4. That is a 40 second duration on the Bone Shield (67%). Now the tank will take 8 hits at 16.4k, and 4 swings at 20.5k, for a total of 3553 dps taken. That is a 547 reduction in hps required or a total of 21.9k healing not required.

In my practical experience the reality is usually somewhere in between these two, but it often skews towards the latter and is capable of going higher still. This variability makes it very hard to quantify in ideal theorycrafting.

Q. t10 has a cool 2 piece set bonus, it makes DnD 20% bigger!! Does that mean I should use DnD all the time?

A. Not really. If you combine the glyph with the bonus it will be a solid piece of threat on any target, however it is still less competitive than the alternatives for Blood and Frost on a single target. It does make it a very powerful AoE threat tool, however, that may even appeal to Frost for multi-target threat. See more math and considerations here: http://www.tankspot.com/showthread.php?60096-DnD-T10-and-glyph&p=339922#post339922

Q. My friends keep telling me Unholy is awful now (post 3.3), what's the real scoop?

A. Currently in general, Unholy tanks have been seeing a slightly lower margin on their threat when they are Unholy compared to Blood and Frost. It is not enough to make you unable to tank, but it is enough to register on comparative testing. This should not stop you from tanking as Unholy if you enjoy it.

The second issue is the value of Bone Shield in ICC. This is not a surprise, but it takes some explaining to clarify. Bone Shield will, generally, only last for 4 absorbs. Any damage sources that stack close enough in sequence will allow your shield to absorb more (there is a time restriction/cooldown making it so you can only drain one charge per ~2-3 seconds). Avoidance normally helps you stretch that out, if you don't get hit, you don't lose charges. A 20% drop in avoidance then does not help and in general you will see a lower total uptime. That said, it is not as game-breaking as you might think. Normally it is actually the avoidance that is reducing your total damage taken and it is that loss that *would* increase your damage taken. Bone Shield's reduced uptime will result in more exposure and make Unholy feel less appealing, but in practical application it is not quite as bad as you might think on first inspection.

Q. Patch 3.3.3 says IT does massive bonus threat, is it true? What does it mean, should I just use it all the time?

A. In patch 3.3.3 an additional bonus of 7x threat has been applied to IT when used in Frost Presence. To that end most anyone's IT will now be doing threat comparable to RS on a per-hit basis. That said, it's not in anyone's interest to be spamming IT all the time. If you go about your business as if nothing has changed you will just notice that you never have a slow start on single targets. Generally speaking, I would not recommend changing anything you do, unless you avoid using IT (like through the use of Glyph of Disease). I have played with a spec designed to abuse IT and spam it heavily (BotN and DRM to use all 6 runes for IT), and while it can do pretty silly bursts of threat (15k tps peak with no buffs at all, with very underwhelming dps), it is not particularly interesting to play. I won't be advocating it as a go-to spec any time soon.

Q. I need personal guidance! Can you please teach me, show me, check my gear, check my spec, etc?

A. I do try to field requests for personal help when I can, but I only have so much time in the week. I usually answer all of my PM’s through TankSpot, but sometimes it can take some time to catch up. I generally do not prefer that people try to find me online. If I am playing the game, I’m relaxing and having fun.

== more to come ==

12-14-2009, 03:54 PM
Up-to-date for Patch 3.3.3 (3/23/2010)
*Updated on 1/26/10* = fixed links for new forum structure, added FAQ entries including tree-specific cooldown changes
*Updated on 3/23/10* = changes for 3.3.3 and the new significance of IT and WotN

Elements Under Construction:
FAQ entries
Adding WoWhead tooltip links

12-14-2009, 04:59 PM
Holy effing shit.
There goes my night lol, I bow to the master

12-14-2009, 05:19 PM
Holy effing shit.
There goes my night lol, I bow to the master

Um yeah. That's why he's the DK guru around here. I think Satorri is one of the best damn authors anywhere, not just TS. He really knows how to cover topics well.

Keep up the good work!

12-14-2009, 05:25 PM
Also wtb stikie

12-14-2009, 06:31 PM

I will now take my little guide and go home... j/k

Very well done sir, well done indeed.

12-14-2009, 06:31 PM
I also wtb sticky

12-14-2009, 06:47 PM
Stuck :D

12-14-2009, 07:07 PM
Hey satorri, Im setting up power auras (fun tool by the way) I want to use it to track my rime procs better, however I cant get rime (freezing fog) to work
I set up Killing machine and blade barrier fine so im not sure what the problem is. Any tips on this one?

12-14-2009, 07:13 PM
Stuck :D

Yay..... :)

12-15-2009, 06:43 AM
Actually, I'm hoping to find software to let me do some video editing so I can start adding some video guides to addons (as navigating the options windows on some are a little tricky and easier to do with visual aids).

But, I have Rime setup, and I think you have the only thing you need to know, the buff it gives is actually called "Freezing Fog" and that's what Power Auras will register.

Did you re-check the spelling and make sure no boxes were checked that shouldn't apply? Such as "exact spelling" or "enemy target?" Also, make sure you're using the "Buff" key as the proc provides a buff.

An alternate but obviously less appealing method until you get the Rime aura working would be to simply make a "Action Usable" tracker for Howling Blast. It won't distinguish HB coming off cooldown from a Rime proc, but it will at least let you know it's usable.

12-15-2009, 07:04 AM
Actually, I'm hoping to find software to let me do some video editing so I can start adding some video guides to addons (as navigating the options windows on some are a little tricky and easier to do with visual aids).

But, I have Rime setup, and I think you have the only thing you need to know, the buff it gives is actually called "Freezing Fog" and that's what Power Auras will register.

Did you re-check the spelling and make sure no boxes were checked that shouldn't apply? Such as "exact spelling" or "enemy target?" Also, make sure you're using the "Buff" key as the proc provides a buff.

An alternate but obviously less appealing method until you get the Rime aura working would be to simply make a "Action Usable" tracker for Howling Blast. It won't distinguish HB coming off cooldown from a Rime proc, but it will at least let you know it's usable.

Debuff Filter is an extremly good tool for showing an icon when certain buffs proc, IE Rime, Freezing Fog, or for tracking when buffs are up such as VB or UA. It also tracks debuffs such as diseases if you want a more visual approach. It's real easy to set up, takes maybe 5 minutes and is useful for target, player, or even focus. Uses a very small amount of memory as well.

12-15-2009, 08:08 AM
Still cant figure out why it didnt work at first, but i "fixed" it

12-15-2009, 08:29 AM
Question with regards to blood tanking.

Dancing rune weapon - although I previously thought this a DPS only talent point, I've been left wondering recently if there is a use for this in tanking. Specifically looking at getting agro quick.

My question is though anyone got any idea if DRW counts as a pet and therefore builds its own agro table or if its attacks count as coming from yourself and therefore a 50% agro increase for its duration?

12-15-2009, 08:34 AM
Question with regards to blood tanking.

Dancing rune weapon - although I previously thought this a DPS only talent point, I've been left wondering recently if there is a use for this in tanking. Specifically looking at getting agro quick.

My question is though anyone got any idea if DRW counts as a pet and therefore builds its own agro table or if its attacks count as coming from yourself and therefore a 50% agro increase for its duration?

Pet and has it's own agro.

12-15-2009, 08:40 AM
DRW is the same as your Ghoul, Bloodworms, and Gargoyle. They are pets, they have their own threat, and that threat never transfers to you. At all.

12-15-2009, 08:57 AM
A couple points that stuck out for me:
ArP increases in value with Sunder/Faerie Fire.
It might be worth mentioning the value to proposition of SSG is 3% avoidance + 2% stamina vs SS is 4% avoidance (as I recall), is that no longer true?

12-15-2009, 09:03 AM
Armor Pen loses value with Sunder and FF as far as how much armor it removes, it still increases your damage done.

Short-hand explanation, ArP is applied in cascading multipliers with Sunder and FF. So if your target has 10k armor, a full stack of sunder takes that to 8k (20% off), FF takes that to 7.6k (5% off that), and 10% armor reduction from B-G takes that to 6.84k.

If you look at that in the least flattering way, you would say it only removed 760 armor (7.6% not 10%), but it'd be a little higher if you took all the reductions at essentially the same time. If you're talking about reducing the damage reduction (oops I've gone cross-eyed), then reducing 1k armor from 10k or 760 from 7.6k you're still not doing better in the overall damage buffing sense. Let me dig through my numbers, I ran the calculations on this a while back.

Your SSG vs SS is true, but I thought I mentioned that. I may have only done it in my head, thank you, I'll go back and check. =)

12-15-2009, 09:33 AM
I'm trying to find where I read it was more effective (in terms of damage output) but I'm coming up empty. Should Ret Pallies be in the second tier for Hysteria? I could be wrong, but Hysteria affects basically any attack modified by ArP and its value for a Ret Pally is really low because it only affects about 35% of their damage. Frost and Unholy would actually benefit quite a bit (because of high melee and Obliterate usage for Frost, and Scourge Strike now being physical based at its core).

12-15-2009, 09:42 AM
Hysteria increases anything that is "physical" damage. Ret pallies do a lot of physical damage, but not entirely, they still get a lot of magic damage. Thus the second tier. Maybe they deserve the same treatment as Frost/Unholy DK's I haven't had a good parse on Retadins or Frost DK's in a while.

At the end of the day though, it's hard to beat a dps warrior or kitteh, they only do physical damage really (yes little snippets not here and there).

12-15-2009, 11:16 AM
Just to double check my reasoning (and I know this isn't a primary point of your guide so I'll try to avoid cluttering the thread too much), I looked at a recent log for a ret pally in my guild. Out of all of their abilities, exactly three are physical based. Melee (19.8%), Crusader Strike (9.8%), and Divine Storm (5%). That matches pretty closely the number I picked out of a Ret Pally guide. The rest is Holy damage and unaffected by Hysteria (you might make an argument for Righteous Vengeance 8.7% being partially caused by Crusader Strike and Divine Storm crits, but that still doesn't make the physical boost compelling).

Meanwhile, the last time I was Unholy on the same boss:
22.8% Melee, 28.7% Scourge Strike, 5.5% Blood Strike, 2.9% BCB, 2.4% PS = 62.3% physical

Hardly on the same scale as a kitty, warrior, or blood DK, but certainly better than a ret paladin. Likewise, I don't have any logs of me as Frost handy, but I remember Obliterate damage comprising about 38% of my damage alone (I could be mistaken).

12-15-2009, 01:25 PM
Scourge Strike is currently only ~57% physical damage (assuming you're using it with 3 diseases always, and if you were measuring before the current patch it's not physical at all). But that's good info to have, thank you.

12-15-2009, 01:50 PM
It was post patch, and while the damage is only 57% physical, the shadow portion is based entirely off the amount of physical damage done. It won't double dip like it does with other modifiers, but it benefits from Hysteria (1.2 * the physical damage modifies the shadow damage by 1.2 in turn).

I also forgot why to mention why using Hysteria on warriors is largely a wasted measure. It won't stack with Wrecking Crew on Arms Warriors or Deathwish for Fury (so if you give it to a Fury Warrior, you need to coordinate).

While I looked that up, I found the list from patch 3.1 that describes somethings to consider when giving out Hysteria:
"Hysteria (http://www.wowwiki.com/Hysteria), Tricks of the Trade (http://www.wowwiki.com/Tricks_of_the_Trade), Enrage (http://www.wowwiki.com/Enrage), Wrecking Crew (http://www.wowwiki.com/Wrecking_Crew), Death Wish (http://www.wowwiki.com/Death_Wish), Arcane Power (http://www.wowwiki.com/Arcane_Power), Owlkin Frenzy (http://www.wowwiki.com/Owlkin_Frenzy), Beast Within (http://www.wowwiki.com/The_Beast_Within), and Avenging Wrath (http://www.wowwiki.com/Avenging_Wrath) damage bonuses no longer stack together."

12-15-2009, 01:57 PM
Yeah, it overwrites Wrecking Crew for Arms warriors giving 10% more damage done (cut in half essentially). It's pretty easy though to not overlap with Death Wish.

12-15-2009, 02:03 PM
Satorri, I don't post much but just wanted to comment that this guide is awesome!
Great info, I just went dps with my DK but I may go back to tanking now, keep up the great work.

12-16-2009, 10:25 AM
I'm trying to find where I read it was more effective (in terms of damage output) but I'm coming up empty. Should Ret Pallies be in the second tier for Hysteria? I could be wrong, but Hysteria affects basically any attack modified by ArP and its value for a Ret Pally is really low because it only affects about 35% of their damage. Frost and Unholy would actually benefit quite a bit (because of high melee and Obliterate usage for Frost, and Scourge Strike now being physical based at its core).

Just browsing around but,

We were doing deathwhisper a few nights ago and found that our 4.5k ret paladin (who we stuck on adds...mistakenly in hindsight) does a surprisingly TINY amount of actual physical damage. His normal dps is somewhere around 4 and a half raid buffed if not higher, and on the adds that take almost no magical damage he was pulling around 1.6k.

Judging from that alone i would never waste a hysteria on a ret pally unless there was NOTHING else to blow it on, and even then i'd consider myself a better alternative than him probably.

12-16-2009, 01:14 PM
Maybe I didn't catch it, but Death Strike for Unholy spec tanks is pretty powerful. It heals just as much as Blood tanks w/ 3 diseases, and you can use it more often in Unholy than you can in Blood. Blood will just give you slightly more stamina to increase the effect of Death Strike.

The only thing you lose as Unholy by doing that is threat, but you can start out w/ SS and move to DS later on in the fight, as you've built up great amounts of Threat. Plus, Runestrike will continue to provide a huge amount of threat necessary to handle aggro, even swapping out SS for DS.

A lot of information and well written. TY!

12-16-2009, 01:39 PM
In the unholy section, you describe rolling unholy blight as something worth pursuing. However, it would appear that unholy blight functions in the same manner as the current ignite and deep wound, such that when the DoT is reapplied, while already in effect, the remaining damage of the current effect is spread across the new effect. This in fact only defers your damage rather than increasing it. Which is rarely of any benefit while tanking.

If this is the correct model, I don't see how it would be possible to obtain a 2k blight tick. If it were possible to throw deathcoils every second (i.e. with only one tick of damage being spent between the DoT being refreshed) you would need an average deathcoil damage of over 20k (10k for the older UB). It would take 29 of these to reach 1.9k per tick and a further 43 to reach 1.99k.

12-16-2009, 02:47 PM
Jehrin is right. You gain no advantage by timing DCs differently with UB. If it were, there'd be plenty of discussion about it in Unholy DPS threads. As it is, UB is generally considered a middle of the road talent (and really only worth about 1% of damage). It's not fantastic, but there's no better place to put that point, so it stays.

12-17-2009, 10:29 AM
That's odd. Maybe you can explain how I reached 2k ticks of UB then. I really wish I'd saved the recount, I wasn't logging at the time for a retrievable parse.

12-17-2009, 11:48 AM
It was post patch, and while the damage is only 57% physical, the shadow portion is based entirely off the amount of physical damage done. It won't double dip like it does with other modifiers, but it benefits from Hysteria (1.2 * the physical damage modifies the shadow damage by 1.2 in turn).

I also forgot why to mention why using Hysteria on warriors is largely a wasted measure. It won't stack with Wrecking Crew on Arms Warriors or Deathwish for Fury (so if you give it to a Fury Warrior, you need to coordinate).

While I looked that up, I found the list from patch 3.1 that describes somethings to consider when giving out Hysteria:
"Hysteria (http://www.wowwiki.com/Hysteria), Tricks of the Trade (http://www.wowwiki.com/Tricks_of_the_Trade), Enrage (http://www.wowwiki.com/Enrage), Wrecking Crew (http://www.wowwiki.com/Wrecking_Crew), Death Wish (http://www.wowwiki.com/Death_Wish), Arcane Power (http://www.wowwiki.com/Arcane_Power), Owlkin Frenzy (http://www.wowwiki.com/Owlkin_Frenzy), Beast Within (http://www.wowwiki.com/The_Beast_Within), and Avenging Wrath (http://www.wowwiki.com/Avenging_Wrath) damage bonuses no longer stack together."

I'm not sure how a fury warrior deals with an incoming enrage while Deathwish is popped (I'm guessing the Deathwish stays?), same with wrecking crew and death wish on Arms. But for those who don't play ferals, kitties only have one really big CD, which is Beserk, cutting energy costs down significantly, and it does stack with Hysteria. So while warriors and kitties are about the only pure physical classes left, kitties receive the most benefit.

Alongside ret paladins, I'd add enhancement shamans. They are a bit rarer, and they do have an appreciable magic damage component via Maelstom weapon + Lightning Bolt (or Chain Lightning), If I had to choose between the two, I'd give it to the shaman. One thing somebody would have to figure out is weapon imbues; typically with reasonably good raid gear, an enh shaman imbues MH with Windfury (physical boost) and Flametongue weapon on OH to increase Lava Lash. (which is further boosted by the glyph). If you plan on poping hysteria consistently on the shaman, it might be worthwhile to investigate dual WF imbues.

Incidentally, some of the effects don't make sense. Arcane Power and Owlkin Frenzy work with spell damage, there's no reason to boost physical damage on an arcane mage or lazerbudgie.

Maybe I didn't catch it, but Death Strike for Unholy spec tanks is pretty powerful. It heals just as much as Blood tanks w/ 3 diseases, and you can use it more often in Unholy than you can in Blood. Blood will just give you slightly more stamina to increase the effect of Death Strike.

The only thing you lose as Unholy by doing that is threat, but you can start out w/ SS and move to DS later on in the fight, as you've built up great amounts of Threat. Plus, Runestrike will continue to provide a huge amount of threat necessary to handle aggro, even swapping out SS for DS.

A lot of information and well written. TY!

I'm assuming you are referring to Reaping as far as judging more Deathstrike usage. Although the healing component is the same, there is a pretty big threat gap, not only inherently due to increased damage via blood talents, but also you wouldn't normally glyph for deathstrike as unholy. Therefore, unless your DPS is quite far behind on threat (which might be OK if your DPS is constantly switching targets), even with runestrike I am not sure if some aggressive DPS might not catch up. The idea of DS as unholy is to help ease the healing load at the expense of DPS and/or threat. It's about as desirable as say a prot/ret paladin switching out from seal of Vengeance/Blood to Seal of light/Seal of wisdom for extra health/extra mana, which is a nice boost in some situations (you lost a healer, you lost an OT on a cleaving boss, etc.), but hardly standard procedure as it were. I've never raided as an unholy tank, but I can tell you that as a tankadin switching to light in the later stages of the fight is viable, as long as increasing the fight length through lower threat/dps is outweighed by the extra healing provided (I've averaged 1k HPS on a single fight according to recount, probably a little more if you clip it only to the sections where SoL was up). I'm guessing an unholy knight would get approximately the same benefit, or we would see it used more often than intended.

12-17-2009, 12:47 PM
DS works fine for Unholy in that it heals as much as Blood (assuming you have the same health), however, it is not as valuable to Unholy for a few reasons. The biggest one is that the damage will be very noticeably inferior to ScS considering you're both lacking Imp DS and *can/will* have several buffs to ScS. In the situations where the healing is not/less required (which will also be smaller and fewer than Blood since Bone Shield will reduce your damage a lot) the value will be much less.

It's fine to use DS to pop some healing when you're Unholy, but I wouldn't rely on it or you may find your threat to be a little lackluster, comparatively. If you want to play the trying to pick the right one at the right time game, that's your call, but Unholy has a lot to keep track of already.

12-18-2009, 07:35 AM
Christ almighty..and I thought I wrote a lot.

You win, sir. You win.

12-18-2009, 08:25 AM

Humbled by your reverence. :D

12-18-2009, 10:01 AM
That's odd. Maybe you can explain how I reached 2k ticks of UB then. I really wish I'd saved the recount, I wasn't logging at the time for a retrievable parse.

I could be way off on this, but this is how I understood these rolling ticks to work (this is the model as explained for Deep Wounds):

Death Coil 1: 2000 damage
Unholy Blight 1 damage: 200 spread over 5 ticks @ 40 damage per tick.

Death Coil 2: 2000 damage, applied after tick 3
Unholy Blight 1 had 80 damage left on it, so that 80 damage gets added to Unholy Blight 2's damage:
Unholy Blight 2: 280 damage over 5 ticks @ 56 damage per tick

This time you let the stack drop. Unholy Blight 2 did 280 damage, Unholy blight 1 did 3 x 40 = 120 damage, for a total of 400 damage total. You gained nothing by extending the first dot.

By rolling the stack, you'll get higher and higher instant DPS and TPS, but your overall Damage and Threat is actually slightly reduced if you never let the stack fall. Basically you're taking damage you did in the first part of the fight and continually shifting it toward the end of the fight, compressing more and more damage done in the latter half.

So yes, it's possible to get very high ticks of Unholy Blight going. All that really means for you, though, is that you have built up a large excess of damage/threat done that you never let land.

12-18-2009, 12:03 PM
Wow, Satorri. The thoroughness with which you covered this topic is truly commendable. /salute

12-18-2009, 06:54 PM
Dear Satorri...
...<3, many warm fuzzies, and much adoration.

Tank DK worship aside, I do have a thought regarding unholy and it's strength considering the new ICC instances. How much would the "icecrown radiance" debuff (-20% dodge) influence unholy's strength, especially in conjunction with the faster swinging bosses, and would that bear mentioning in the bone shield segment?

12-18-2009, 07:00 PM
So yes, it's possible to get very high ticks of Unholy Blight going. All that really means for you, though, is that you have built up a large excess of damage/threat done that you never let land.

Could be useful if you roll it up until an enrage timer near the end.

12-19-2009, 02:38 AM
Yeah, lately I've been looking for a new cult to follow...so....ah....um...where do I sign up? And does this cult come with spiked soft drinks?

12-19-2009, 12:24 PM
Spiked cookies. spiked kool-aid is way to passe.

12-19-2009, 01:35 PM
Could be useful if you roll it up until an enrage timer near the end.

Oh, absolutely. I wasn't meaning to imply that there was no point in it, I just wanted to clarify that one isn't actually gaining additional damage or threat done by continuously rolling.

But as a tank, I'm mostly concerned with my threat generation, and all that really matters there is total threat done. Were you ever to end up in a scenario where you have to choose between refreshing your Unholy Blight dot and some other task, it's important to realize that dropping the stack isn't that big of a deal after all.

12-20-2009, 08:43 AM
I don't see very many tanks taking Glyph of Indomitability - Item - World of Warcraft (http://www.wowhead.com/?item=47735) . Is that because there's no Stamina on it? I never managed to get Heart of Iron - Item - World of Warcraft (http://www.wowhead.com/?item=45158) (and it's unlikely I ever will now...). I've got extra Emblems of Triumph, would the Glyph be a reasonable upgrade over The Black Heart - Item - World of Warcraft (http://www.wowhead.com/?item=47216) ? Or is there a better way to go?

12-20-2009, 11:12 AM
There is a large bias against the Glyph due to tank-illiteracy. The glyph is an amazing EH trinket. It comes out ahead of the Black Heart basically any time the encounter has a majority of physical damage.

What you should probably be rocking is Glyph/Heart unless you have Juggernaut(aka satrinas)/Heart. If you have the latter combination I would go Juggernaut/Glyph.

12-20-2009, 12:49 PM
Thank you for the effort that compiling this guide required. I recently decided to revisit and gear my Death Knight for tanking as my guild has recently been experiencing a shortage of reliable tanks for ICC. It made relearning the craft considerably easier.

12-20-2009, 12:50 PM
Thank you for the effort that compiling this guide required. I recently decided to revisit and gear my Death Knight for tanking as my guild has recently been experiencing a shortage of reliable tanks for ICC. It made relearning the craft considerably easier.

Off-topic: Really? A shortage? Every tank we've had has come out of the woodwork for this crap and we have 10 tanks who are main characters at the moment. It's absurd.

12-21-2009, 04:59 AM
Off-topic: Really? A shortage? Every tank we've had has come out of the woodwork for this crap and we have 10 tanks who are main characters at the moment. It's absurd.

Off-topic , are guild has three tanks and are short as well depending on availability.

12-21-2009, 05:05 AM
A comment and a question, then another question...

Firstly, just wanted to say that I thank you very, very much for the ridiculously comprehensive guide for this. I'm a pretty fresh 80 DK, and I've never tanked before in WoW (previous main was a Mage). Your guide has helped me so very much in figuring out specs, techniques, etc. I'm already faring quite nicely in heroics, and have already tanked the new ones, even nailing the Halls of Reflection OMGITSARTHASRUN phase on the first try (kept the abominations turned away and everything!).

Secondly: I'm currently running Frost 2H right now, mainly because I quickly got a Marrowstrike to use (after tanking some heroics with a Whale-Stick Harpoon...yikes). I plan to switch to DW, mainly because the idea of more Rime procs and Rune Strike oppurtunities makes me excited in ways I shouldn't mention.

Anyways, concerning gemming: I understand that Expertise is more valuable than Hit; is it worth gemming Expertise for DW? I doubt I would ever throw a pure Expertise gem in a slot, but is it worth it using Stam/Ex gems? I've read elsewhere that the Expertise soft-cap target is 30 for DW (instead of 26), so my concern should be obvious.

Thirdly: Say I choose to use one tanking weapon and one DPS weapon for DW-ing; is there a preference/difference in which should go main hand and which should go off-hand? I would imagine the slower one would go main-hand.

It's probably obvious that not only am I new to tanking, but melee in general. Thanks in advance, and again, fantastic guide!

12-21-2009, 08:24 AM
Whew, I'm a bit behind on the questions. Let me go one by one.

To be clear on UB, you are *never* wasting the damage by stacking it, you just aren't multiplying it, assuming the method described is correct. Every time you keep the stack up you are simply intensifying the ticks. Remember that with threat it is not about the total done, but when the threat is applied. Using the Death Coil Hammer method I described above I was able to out-threat any of my other builds. Not all my builds are designed to hit the same threat vs survival balance, and you can say what you will about my personal skill, but assuming that my skill is roughly constant across the class/specs, it is worth noting.


Kensho, the effect of Chill of the Throne is most notable against Bone Shield. It will hurt our uptime, and since single hits are less painful than they used to be, often enough, you might see less sizable steps in reduction there. However, one thing worth noting is that we get some value back with the large amounts of multiple small damage sources and fast attack speeds. With attacks close enough together we can get a bit more mileage in not consuming charges within the hidden cooldown.

Personally, I would feel slightly discouraged about using Bone Shield with that huge chunk of Dodge missing, but there are mitigating factors that do counter the loss a bit.


Bluepepper, I think you just did sign up. Please remit a sample of your own blood, preferably in a sealed phial, for banking and other miscellaneous applications.


Krahla, the Glyph of Indomitability is tricky. It is not subject to the armor multipliers of Toughness or the Meta, but it is still a solid chunk of mitigation.

Here's the problem: for effective health gains (composite of health, armor, and % damage reduction from stances and buffs) the Glyph is slightly less EH value than a Stam trinket of the same level.

Here's the upside: stacking pure health is great (and outwardly visible) but it does nothing at all to reduce the amount of damage you take. In a world where healers don't care about mana (usually), and therefore efficiency is virtually meaningless, taking less damage has little or no value if we're speaking purely in terms of EH.

That said, the armor trinket(s) will be fantastic in situations where you are first concerned with taking less damage, but they will be a little less valuable for pure EH gains, and will offer no protection against magic damage.

For my money, I love that this trinket also gets you some AP (50 isn't too shabby), and it will play rather nicely with Unbreakable Armor, if you are Frost.



Expertise is not necessarily more valuable than hit. It depends on what you have and what you're using.

Until you hit 26 expertise on your character sheet every point of expertise rating is giving you double the hit chance reduction as hit rating on melee attacks. Expertise has no effect on spells. Hit rating will be the only factor helping your spells not miss, though for some specs that is less important, yes.

Frost happens to walk the middle ground. Howling Blast is a very nice ability not to miss, but dual wielding auto-swings will really appreciate less dodge/parry chance, as will Obliterate.

In general, I recommend aiming for soft-cap expertise at 26 (no, it's no different for dual wielding, your chance to be dodged has nothing to do with your weapons, that likely was a product of someone saying where you will see not many more parries than a 2-handed DK), and 8% reduced miss chance (7% if you always have a spacegoat with you).

If you're over that soft cap on either it's not the end of the world as you will still get value. If you're going to be over on one, I recommend it be Expertise if you have a say. It's not the end of the world if you aren't quite soft-capped, but it will feel more comfortable for rune usage.

When dual wielding, always put the slowest/highest instant weapon damage in your main hand. A quick, short-hand explanation.

If you have 2 weapons, one does 1000 damage every 2.5 seconds (fictional, but note: 400 dps) and one that does 400 damage once per second (again, 400 dps) look at what happens when you put them in each hand:

Slow Main/Fast Off = 1000 + (400*0.575) = 1230
Fast Main/Slow Off = 400 + (1000*0.575) = 975

It won't matter for auto-swings as the swing timer will bear out, but for instant weapon strikes the off-hand damage penalty will hurt you more on the slow weapon (which will hit harder each time it connects).

12-21-2009, 07:33 PM
deleted: clicked post accidentally and too early.

12-21-2009, 08:18 PM
I think you're underestimating Scent of Blood in your guide.

First, we will never have enough RP that you can reserve 20 RP at all time while still bombing DC. That's just not going to happen.

In every pair of runesets (21seconds), we will acquire 110 RP from all our strikes (1PS, 1 IT, 2 DS, 6 HS), with 4 empty GCDs before we have to refresh diseases. If we use just 2 RS every 20s (very likely), we will only have enough RP for 2 DC. Also, reserving 20 RP is a very tricky thing - at least not as simple as you make it out to be. Imagine if you have 45 RP, and the next blood rune will only refresh 2s from now. Do you DC? If you DC, you won't be able to RS for 2s rune refresh + 2 more GCD to strike the runes to get 20 RP enough to RS. But if you don't DC, you're seeing a dip in threat for at least 2s. Without SoB, we will see more GCDs filled up with HoW, which generate very little threat if at all.

Second, don't just look at percentage of recount to determine the value of DC/SoB. That's because: (1) If I remember correctly, the DC proc-ed from Sudden Doom is not able to crit and (2) you're already DCing less in the first place. This goes back to point 1: do you actually DC at every opportunity? If you only do 2 DC at every pair of Runesets, you're potentially only DCing 6-7 times a minute - of course the threat value is very low. If that 6-7x a minute contributes 6-7% of your threat, and if 3/3 SoB can increase the frequency to 9-10x a minute, that is a 3% increase in threat, already equal to the value of Subversion without even counting theoretical higher percentage of RS over melee ratio.

Third, 40 RP per minute per point is an underestimation of its uptime. Its uptime is really high, and it can consume the charge from RS - which can't be blocked/parried/dodged, increasing the RP return from the talent itself. In any multimob tanking (2 and above) you can be guaranteed it has close to 100% uptime. With 3.6 speed weapon and 20% haste, we're expecting to hit a single target boss 20x a minute - with 80% uptime, you're expecting 160 RP per minute.

Now, it's possible that you're not seeing the benefit of extra RP in your raid. If you raid with 1x Disc Priest and 3x Resto Druid bombing you with PW:S and Rejuv, you'll probably have enough RP to the point that you forget having Scent of Blood. Or if you can get 100 RP every 45s from AMS (very possible) you'll probably forget having Scene of Blood. But that's anecdotal - not everyone is going to have that kind of composition, and not every boss has that kind of mechanic.

To prove the point, I created a template in Kahorie's DK Simulator, exactly same spec, gear is what I have in Armory, one with 3/3 SoB and one with 3/3 Subversion. The result is SoB template wins out by 64 TPS (8758 to 8694). No big deal obviously as the difference is <1%, but it shows that SoB is better than "giving more DCs and DCs contributes so little to TPS".

12-22-2009, 08:02 AM
You seem very up-in-arms without understanding the point in the first place.

1.) RS >> DC for threat, and for threat per RP. Therefore you should only EVER use DC when you can do so without inhibiting your use of RS. Flat, inalienable statement. Because of that you should *never* be using DC, even if a rune blackout is available, if you have less than 60 RP. That's a choice to support your superior threat tool, and it is a choice. Using Death Coil is an option not a given or unavoidable.

2.) I don't base any of this on Recount. If you are using DC and losing RS procs, then you are sabotaging your own threat. Because of #1, if you get SoB you should only ever be getting more DCs, which *is* more threat, but it just happens to be one source of threat, and not one that I would hitch my star to at the cost of other things in just any build. Some builds make good use of that, and some of those builds even go so far as to use Glyph of Dark Death.

3.) The 40 RP per minute is presented with math in tact. Let's look at the extreme though. If you are using a quicker 2-hander (say the rare 3.2 base speed), 23% total raid buffed haste, that's a 2.48 sec swing time, or 24.16 swings per minute. If you could get 100% uptime on Scent of Blood you'd get 240 RP per minute.

Scent of Blood relies on incoming hits though. If you're up against a single boss target (which is where this will actually matter as trash will not be terribly reliant on RP generation), with a really fast swing timer of 1.0 second *after* de-hasting, that is 60 swings per minute. Scent of Blood procs off of anything but misses. Lets say the tank is only uncrittable with only 6% chance to be missed, so 94% of the swings that are thrown have the *chance* to proc. The ability has a 15% chance on each swing that can proc it. So 94% of 60 swings is 56.4 swings that have a chance to proc, and 15% of those will proc on average or 8.46 procs per minute. *If* in the best case scenario, those procs are equally spaced, they will come 7.09 seconds apart.

If you are getting 24 swings per minute (2.4 seconds apart) you can get 2 swings in between procs. That means that you won't get value from the third point in SoB as you will never get that third swing for 10 more RP. However, with 1 point you will get 84.6 RP per minute (1 swing, 10 RP), and with 2 points you will get 169.2 RP per minute (assuming you aren't missing, parried/dodged).

Typical weapons are 3.5 sec swing time though, or 2.716 sec with full raid haste. That's 22.09 swings per minute. Typical raid bosses will throw swings capable of proc'ing SoB closer to once every 2 seconds. 94% of 30 swings per minute is 28.2 proc'able swings, 15% of those actually will proc for 4.23 procs per minute, thus the 42.3 RP per point. Looking at it like above, the most ideal situation would have those procs equally spaced to make sure you get the most swings in for RP gain. 4.23 procs per minute is a proc roughly every 14.18 seconds. With a 2.716 swing time, you could reasonably get all three swings in between procs and get the full 126.9 RP per minute with 3 points invested.

The truth is though, that is a mitigated value because procs *aren't* evenly spaced. If you get two procs in a row, you've wasted the proc completely. If you get them one swing separated, you've lost 1-2 swings if you have 2-3 points invested. Etc. In addition, in order to get the RP generated you have to connect. If you are hit capped and expertise soft-capped, your melee auto-swings will still fail to connect ~7% of the time which will further diminish your returns. My estimation was actually a little generous, and did not try to factor the reductions, only the gains.

So, the point of all of this is, RS is your priority and you are not wise to use DC if it will make you incapable of using RS. It's simply never worth it. If you believe this, not sure why you wouldn't, then you understand that the only value of SoB is to use more Death Coils.

More Death Coils *will* get you more threat, there's no question about that, but there's a question of how much.

We'll use your rotation, PS/IT/HS/HS/DS > HS/DS/HS/HS/HS bi-phasic rotation, unfaltering. That's 10 moves per 20 seconds, 15 seconds of GCDs leaving 5 seconds open. Technically that's only 3 GCDs with a fudge factor, but that's not quite right, let's break it down properly. Phase 1: 5 moves, 7.5 seconds elapsed on rune abilities, 2.5 seconds remaining for the first to refresh. Those 5 moves generated 55 RP. If you RS once (likely, as you said), you have 35 RP. Not enough for a DC. If you have SoB, the chances of getting a proc in the first 7 seconds is slim, and in order to get that DC in then you'd need to proc it AND use at least one swing. That means you need SoB to proc in the first 3 seconds of the fight, which will be a rare occurance. Phase 2: 5 moves, again, 7.5 seconds elapsed, again, and 55 more RP generated, and we'll say one more RS. Now we have 2.5 seconds again until our runes come up, that's 1 GCD and change, most people will not stall that half second, will use a second GCD and delay their next rune set. Now we have 70 RP after two RSs, and conveniently that will fund 1 DC, not two. In order to get a second (and delay your next rune set by half a second) you will need to have had SoB proc and get in at least one swing before now. In 19.0 seconds that would hopefully be a pretty decent chance, but let's refresh that math. If your attacker swings once every 1.5 seconds (to be favorable), 12 swings, 94% to be proc-capable becomes 11.28 proc-capable swings, with a 15% proc chance becomes 1.69 procs, so maybe as much as 2 procs. That means we most likely have the RP to fill that extra GCD.

That's an opener though. Down the road, using your rotation, we're talking 10 moves per bi-phase, 15 seconds of GCDs used, averaging 5 seconds of open GCDs, 3 GCDs (4 will ruin your ideal rotation if you use that last 0.5 seconds on another GCD). If you are looking to use 3 GCDs per bi-phase, you never use them on HoW or a Defensive cooldown, and you only use Blood Tap for non-GCD abilities, then where does that put us with SoB vs without?

Without, we're saying (anecdotally, but it works) that we get 2 RS per 2 rune sets, and generating 110 RP per two rune sets. That's 70 RP to work into 3 GCDs, meaning we'll only get 1.75 DCs on average into 3 slots. In order to get the full 3 slots perfectly in our ideal rotation, we'll need 1.25 more DCs or 50 RP more. To get that we'll need 5 SoB auto-swings. In 20 seconds with our average 3.5 base speed 2-hander we'll get 7.36 swings on average. In order to get the RP to fill every GCD in that ideal rotation you'd need SoB up 67.9% of the time. With our generous 1.5 sec swinging boss, that's 13.33 swings per 20 seconds. 94% of them can proc, or 12.53 proc-capable, and 1.88 will proc on average. That's less than 2 procs per 20 seconds. *If* you get those 2 procs early enough, *and* you have 3/3 in SoB, *and* you do not waste swings (by proc'ing twice within 5 swings of the boss), then you will be able to fill that last GCD.

All of this becomes horribly representative because we are *tanks* not dps. We have defensive moves eating GCDs and preventing an ideal rotation. We move around, we miss swings because of that, and we rarely keep a static rotation (nor should we) as we adjust to suit the needs of the situation.

It is for all this combined that I don't recommend Scent of Blood to Blood tanks. And all of that was presented (in a little less detail) above.

Do you still think I'm under-valuing it?

12-22-2009, 08:18 AM
2.) I don't base any of this on Recount. If you are using DC and losing RS procs, then you are sabotaging your own threat. Because of #1, if you get SoB you should only ever be getting more DCs, which *is* more threat, but it just happens to be one source of threat, and not one that I would hitch my star to at the cost of other things in just any build. Some builds make good use of that, and some of those builds even go so far as to use Glyph of Dark Death.

In interest of summarizing Satorri's wall of text (ow. my eyes. ow.:eek:), the tangental complaint about why Frost DKs have threat issues is often related to the management of Runic Power for Frost Strike & Rune Strike. There's a pretty definite connection between folks that spam Frost Strike having threat issues, as they are inhibiting RP availability for Rune Strikes. Ergo, they have less RS's, and often with RS doing less overall damage than FS, which shows up in parses.

It's not the size of your DPS output that matters, it's how much threat it generates. Hands down, RS wins.

12-22-2009, 08:37 AM
It's also not just how much threat you generate, but how much when.

I think it would be really interesting to create a simple red light/green light indicator addon that will let you know when your threat cannot be passed by damage threat. In other words, when the boss has a certain amount of health left, and you have a certain lead over the second highest threat, that highest dps threat could only generate so much threat from damage without bonus threat abilities.

It would be laborious to make one that included all the non-damage threat factors, but a simple one could be nice. I've been tanking and gearing up a second DK on another realm, and plugging my warrior a lot, and laughing at the surge of threat that leaves average pug dps in the dust. Most targets I can just stop doing anything and get a drink while the dpsers finish them off (but what fun is that, then I wouldn't bump dps down the damage meters too). An addon like that could be interesting feedback.

12-22-2009, 09:48 AM
That would be cool, Me i know my raid group and if I wanted I could probably gauge that off of experience. However for pugs it would be great.

12-22-2009, 08:27 PM
No one is doubting that the threat/RP for RS is higher than DC. Let's get that out of the way first. If this is your point - well, I actually got it.

The reason I brought up comparison with DC frequency is that, by sticking to the priority of RS -> DC, we will see higher RS to melee ratio and higher DC frequency on top of that if we have SoB compared to without. The gain from both factors (higher RS and DC frequency) is a lot - and you don't seem to realize it based on the low contribution of TPS from DC (which is skewed on Recount). The higher frequency of RS is not something we can see from Recount, it has to be observed from (1) numerous combat logs with external factors properly considered or (2) simulator - neither of which you mentioned.

When SoB first came out, a lot of people have pointed that the third point of SoB is *probably* not needed, because the gain is small - however it all depends on the experience. A simulator could probably point out the estimated number for each point on single target fight. Still, 40 point/RP is underestimation - because the gain from first point is probably higher than the third, as you showed it yourself. As you RS more often, the benefit of SoB increases, because we remove parry/dodge from the combat table of Main Hand strike.

Also, VB is the only defensive move that consumes GCD - and it cost a rune, so it should never interfere with the flow. IBF, AMS, Blood Tap do not use a GCD. We should have enough RP for IBF and AMS by doing HoW when everything else is down - and we have a lot of blank GCDs. The biggest factor to disrupt our flow is miss/dodge/parry.

Your analysis of the opening is excellent, and I won't argue about it, but it doesn't reflect what I'm trying to say. I'm not saying that we should DC *every time* the GCD is blank, nor am I saying that I'm *only* trying to fill empty GCDs with DC. That is *not* the point of SoB, although to be fair, I should have elaborated it in my first post.

What I'm trying to say, is the point of SoB, is not just to give you more DC. It allows you to:
1. Increase RS to melee ratio
2. Increase DC frequency
3. help fill the GCD blanks to smooth the TPS curve by reducing the chance that unfavorable cases happen.

I'm pretty sure that these cases happen to a lot of us (albeit anecdotally):
1. 50 < our RP < 60
2. 10 < our RP < 20

In case (1) and (2), our GCD is blank - TPS will dip, and by a lot, especially if the next rune abilities can only come in more than 2s (usually at the second half of every rune set). The point of having SoB is to reduce the chance that such cases occur. By having SoB, let's assume that we get additional 10 RP compared to without, you could DC AND RS on first case, and RS on second case. The benefit of the reduced chances for both cases occuring is higher than you give it credit to.

Let's look at other RP windows:
3. 30 < our RP < 40
4. 0 < our RP < 10

In the case (3) and (4) above, it *looks* like having SoB or not wouldn't make a difference. By having additional 10 RP on both cases, we still can't do anything - the GCD is still blank. However, having SoB or not will make a difference for case (4) in the *next* GCD. If the next GCD we do a HS/PS/IT, we can immediately RS on next GCD in case (4). Also, having SoB will make a difference for case (3) in the *next* *next* GCD. If you have SoB, we're likely to immediately move from case (3) to arrive at case (1), where you can immediately fill all next 3 GCDs while *still* maintaining 20 RP for RS just in case it procs - notice that I still don't change the priority: RS comes first, DC second.

The only case where having SoB or not wouldn't make a difference is where (5) 20 < our RP < 30. With or without SoB, we can only reserve it for RS. Even if the next 2 GCDs generate RP, it's not likely we can immediately arrive to case (1) even with SoB.

The cases where our RP > 60 are trivial. We always DC and reserve the next 20 for RS.

All these cases don't happen *suddenly*. It's a cultivation of a long fight. Having SoB makes these cases cycle faster, and thus increasing the chances of favourable RP window to occur.

How much benefit it gives us in terms of numbers, I'll leave it to simulator - because a simulator considers every cases through its random number generation. The simulator values SoB higher than Subversion in a single static tank/spank fight. The reason I'm using Subversion as comparison is that Subversion is the closest threat oriented talent nearby that is dubious (IMO). 2H Spec is awesome, DRM is excellent, Bladed Armor is pretty much mandatory, whereas Butchery is not worth it.

At least I'll admit that there is a case where the simulator shows that 3/3 SoB is inferior to 3/3 Subversion. That is when we have only 30% avoidance - pretty close to our avoidance level at starting ICC (I'm sitting at around 31%-32% now, nothing 251 or above yet except the ring, but fully gear/gemmed for stamina and ignoring socket bonuses). The reason is that with the reduced chance of RS proccing, the value of having more RP is reduced. However the difference between the two is about 1% TPS difference, with the gap closing as we gain avoidance (at 35% 3/3 SoB is about 0.5% inferior than 3/3 Subversion, at 50% avoidance, 3/3 SoB is about 1% ahead of Subversion). At 30% avoidance level (and without SoB), the TPS contribution from HS is quite close to RS, so it makes sense to buff HS and DS compared to RS and DC.

So yeah, I still think you under-value SoB. On single target fight with 30% avoidance, it's about 1% inferior to Subversion. In multi-mob, the uptime should be close to 100% and RS is procced more often, so it should be higher, though it's probably harder to quantify. If we find the third point of SoB is unnecessary, we could have specced 2/3 SoB and 1/3 Subversion.

12-23-2009, 07:34 AM
Ok, we aren't connecting on one point: if you always value RS over DC and make a point to always have that 20 RP available to use it, then SoB will never increase your RS usage.

The only time, without SoB, that you should be unable to use an RS proc is in the first couple rune sets and SoB will very rarely improve that as it is just as difficult to get the perfect timing of an immediate proc AND a couple swings in before the RS is available.

I made no comment on the simulator directly because that falls under the blanket of, simulator works in an ideal world, does not factor your usage of non-threat rotation items or account for moving, network latency, or any number of other things that will throw you off. The simulator can also perfectly manage things that you will fail to simply for the issue of perfectly timing these GCDs and rune CDs.

Any simulator that puts SoB ahead of Subversion though has me immediately suspicious. Each point of Subversion is +3% crit on HS, which with Might of Mograine represents a 4.35% increase in HS threat per point. I'd be stunned if the conditional extra DCs can really surpass that value in real execution. Perhaps in a perfect simulated tank on a non-dynamic fight, but even then I'd be a little surprised. Simulators are nice, but never make the mistake of trusting a simulator over real execution or the deviations that will result in the quirks and conditions of each fight.

Otherwise we seem to agree in all but conclusion. SoB will give you more DCs and fill more GCDs and we get more threat. Period. It's a gain, it's good. I just add that it is one of the last places I would fill in for adding threat, while you seem to prefer it.

(Horn of Winter takes a GCD, too, by the by)

12-26-2009, 08:21 AM

How are you/we feeling about UH as a tank in ICC. I read your reply to Kensho, and while it seems that the make or break it factor for Bone Shield has always been the ability to avoid hits long enough to extend the duration of Bone Shield well beyond the duration of the other DK tanking tree-specific cooldowns to make UH a competitive tree.

As I see it, threat-wise, UH just isn't monstrously better than the other two, EH is lower, and hell even avoidance is lower, so aside from a desire to rebel, or boredom I'm struggling to find a reason to go UH at this early stage in ICC. Maybe later when more gear becomes available and a solution to getting the dodge rating back into a place it needs to be is arrive up.

I've digressed a bit. Thinking purely by the numbers, with preference aside, does UH still have a place?

12-26-2009, 11:12 AM
Guide looks good, I tend to do all my own things but I do recommend this guide for new players or players who don't have the time to delve into their own theorycrafting, sim running or just beating their heads into the wall to figure it all out on their own.

12-26-2009, 08:33 PM
I want to track Rime / Killing Machine procs a lot easier (specifically Rime).

Does Power Auras do this or do you have another recommendation for that?

12-26-2009, 09:55 PM
I want to track Rime / Killing Machine procs a lot easier (specifically Rime).

Does Power Auras do this or do you have another recommendation for that?

Power Auras is great for tracking procs or pretty much anything like that. I use it and recommend it.

12-26-2009, 10:20 PM
Another question... is there a particular reason that the character sheet doesn't show the 3% hit from Nerves of Cold Steel?

I just want to make sure that my assumption is correct that if I'm already hit capped (263), I can reduce my hit gemming/enchanting by 3%?

I'm focusing specifically on special attacks.

[EDIT: Nevermind. I have a shadow priest and just zoned out and focused on this and ignored that she's in the same situation with the hit not being reported.]

12-27-2009, 01:58 AM
Great guide, all the information that was scattered all over the place is finally in one place. Thanks a lot man.

A couple of things,
Firstly the new glyph of Icy Touch with the 20% disease damage increase, is this worth taking for a frost tank? While not significant - it is a flat out TPS increase, however i have not yet seen any numbers to quantify if it is more valuable than other glyphs available for selection.

Another thing - quite often i see a lot of references to macroing your RS into all the other non-RP abilities. I personally never did that and do not intend on doing so for the simple fact that i like to be in complete control of my RP. It is used for other tanking utilities and not just RS + Dump for example, IBF, Death Pact, Mind Freeze. As a tank, you might have to interrupt or pop your cooldowns quite frequently on certain fights. Having your RS macroed into all the abilities might prevent you from being able to do the remaining stuff. I personally find that it might be a much better habit to just get used to clicking it on your own just like any other skill in order to not miss your CDs or interrupts which may lead to a wipe.

From personal experience - unholy tanking is just not worth it at the moment, especially with the Chill of the Throne debuff giving a massive reduction in the avoidance in ICC. After a full clear of the ICC first wing i found that the Bone shield uptime is at the maximum of 15-18 seconds, and that is after i've put on every piece of avoidance gear available to a DK in the current content.
Generally, the idea is an excellent one, however given the current numbers we have in the ICC - it just isn't worth it in terms of suvivability for a tank. Frost or even blood offer much better rock solid EH.
There is, however, in my opinion a good way to use BS - on bosses requiring tank switching. Bosses like Northrend Beasts, Saurfang, etc where the amount of time you are actively tanking is minimized - the effective uptime of the BS rockets really high making it a very valuable tool. The same thing is applicable to offtanking in ICC - having to absorb lashes or cleaves - it minimizes the number of hits you take, thus increasing the uptime of the BS making it an extremely valuable tool.
Since 3.3 the SS revamp, the ST TPS of the unholy build is very solid, i didn't have any issues holding aggrom but overall, i just don't see the worth in it as an end game tank when compared to frost.

As it goes for the huge amount of theorycrafting and stuff in your guide - excellent work, accurate to the point.

12-27-2009, 09:05 AM
One question, here and in many other places I've seen it advised to "macro" rune strike to everything, but is that really a good idea? It seems to me that for interrupt fights in particular (say, Jaraxxus/deathwhisper when the melee interrrupter is running), you would want to have the choice of using rune strike or not. Same with an emergency IBF; if you know "Big Bang 3.0" is coming, you would want to make sure you have the RP ready without worrying about halting your rune ability rotation?

Moreover it seems like frost in particular might like to use frost strike more often instead if they have a large threat lead and are trying to contribute larger damage; I'll also admit to having hungering cold in my frost build since it's mostly my "trash+onyxia" spec while my mainspec blood is for bosses.

12-27-2009, 12:25 PM
Rune striking to everything I agree is a bad idea. I have it macroed to oblit and blood strike only. This way my two primary single target skills have it but I am still able to build rp without problems.

12-27-2009, 01:18 PM
I dont have that problem? I dont feel thats a swell idea. rune strike being the most threat gen attack, should be Spammed as much as possible. Things like blood tap, ERW, horn of winter, along with talents such as scent of blood, chill of grave also generate runic power.

Blood tap 10 runic power, can be used for vamp blood, UB, or bone shield, Horn is good when runes are on cd, or u need extra runic power.

Druids which revitalize, which regens "energy" such as 16 runic power on chance, is usually procing.using UB VB or Bs also generate 10 runic power, seeing how a kick is only 20 runic power which u can prob skip out on a DC or a FS to compromise.

i personally save ERW for things like a O SHIT button, which is comparable to death pact. My cds are generally rotated, with ibf being situational.

12-27-2009, 09:33 PM
So I want to know, via an addon that allows better placement, when I have BLOOD runes available (not to be confused with death runes).

Does Power Aura Classic do this? What about that rune addon in the guide?


I don't use any rune modifications and so I have a tendency to keep using death runes to make death runes. I want to be able to track exactly when I need to BS to convert a blood rune.

12-28-2009, 07:33 AM
I'll catch up!

Fely! Power Auras is great for tracking those, that's what I use, but it doesn't do it all on its own, you have to set up the tracker yourself (though there is an export option, so maybe I'll add some of my auras to the guide). The character sheet only tracks miss chance reduction from hit rating, it does not add in any of the hit chance improvers otherwise (and Spriest's spell is a debuff on the target). Crit chance will also only reflect universal crit chance, but that *is* updated by talents like Dark Conviction and Ebonplaguebringer (note, it is not updated with Annihilation which is melee only, even in the melee tab). Power Auras does not track rune states, or at least I haven't figured out if it does (it was just updated very nicely by the way).

Pavor! Glyph of Icy Touch is nice, and it wouldn't be terrible for Frost or Unholy, however, your diseases will still be a relatively small portion of your threat, so the value won't be as competitive with other options, especially for Frost (with OB and FS). If you're going pure threat I expect you will still find 3 better for each spec.

On Unholy:
Unholy is still plenty strong as a tank spec, even in ICC. The thing is it *feels* like you're investing in something that cripples your strongest tool without positive reinforcement. Yes, Bone Shield will not last quite as long, however, you may find it to be more effective at key times. The rapid strikes and stacking damage sources actually really benefit from Bone Shield's coverage. Do I think it's a terrible idea to be Unholy in ICC? No. Will it feel perfectly matched? Probably not. Don't let it make you feel like you *have* to play differently if you like Unholy tanking, but if you aren't Unholy, you probably won't feel much gain from switching to it either.

On Rune Strike macro'ing. This connects to what I was talking about above with Boeten. The only way in which using RS on every available proc, immediately, will compromise your ability to tank is if you are using your RP dump too liberally and running around with no RP. If you follow the simple directive of conditional RP dumping you will never have this problem, ever. That means, never use DC/FS if you have less than 60 RP and never use glyphed FS if you have less than 52 RP. If that is your method you can use it blindly and never see a problem, all that will happen is you *might* forfeit a RS in favor of IBF, AMS, or Mind Freeze.

The problem will not be with the macro but with the player's use of their dump. That said, I think the macro is a fantastic tool for new DK tanks as it will mean one less thing you have to try and pay attention to, but for more experienced tanks it is not a big deal to use it consciously and it may help you have a better sense of how often you RS.

the KRIS
12-28-2009, 10:34 AM
Lets say the tank is only uncrittable with only 6% chance to be missed, so 94% of the swings that are thrown have the *chance* to proc.
Sat, I think you mean 11% - the paper doll didn't include the intrinsic 5% miss chance of all mobs, which you must mentally add to the defense mouseover.

Did you forget about this in your calculation or is my theory knowledge way off?

If the former, this changes your calculations and actually proves your point even stronger against SoB being a viable deep blood talent.

12-28-2009, 10:40 AM
The functional miss chance is rather less than you might think. Miss chance has pretty steep diminishing returns as the cap is only 16%. The 5% base is also reduced by 0.6% if you're being attacked by a raid boss (level difference). 6% is a bit conservative though, it is true, especially when you add the 3% miss buff from Hunters/Moonkin.

I wanted to be conservative though to show the best case you could expect from SoB. =)

I think, in full raid buffs, including the Scorpid Sting/Insect Swarm, I'm sitting at roughly 11% miss, on my DK tank as Blood.

12-28-2009, 02:08 PM
Satorri (and everyone else), mind if I get your thoughts about a tanking rough spot I have?


12-29-2009, 08:57 AM
Btw Satorri, there is an addon called ThatJustHappened that announces certain events (such as buffs gained/faded) to a channel of your choice. Perhaps useful for those cooldowns, as you don't need a macro?

12-29-2009, 10:27 AM
I would just like to thank Satorri for an amazing guide and for giving me a reason to dust off my DK. Hopefully, in a week or twos time, I can take my DK to tank TotC 10/25 and leave my main to tank ICC and TotGC.

12-29-2009, 05:06 PM
I'm confused what you're talking about using that for, WarTotem.

12-30-2009, 04:06 AM
Before I ask yet another question, just want to thank Satorri once again for the dynamite guide. With its help, my DK has been 80 for just under two weeks and I've already tanked ICC, ToC, and a couple bosses in ToGC (all 10 man) successfully. Probably also have to thank Blizzard for the lolbadges and new heroics to let me gear up so quickly.

My question pertains to AoE threat. As you state in your guide (and that I've also found in personal testing and experience), D&D pretty much sucks as Frost since HB does the job so well, and because it's awkward for our rune usage, in my opinion. My typical AoE pull is HB/BB/BB/OB (hoping for a Rime proc, and giggling like a school girl when it happens), then Blood Tap for another BB if it's up. Obviously using Glyph of HB, of course.

Anyways, with T10 pieces on the horizon, I can't help but notice the 2pc bonus; +20% damage from D&D. Will this make it the main AoE threat choice even for Frost?

Let's assume that it will make D&D superior for a moment; that probably means that at least I'll drop Glyph of HB. I already use a 2-disease method for single targets; I pretty much only keep the HB glyph for AoE pulls. Unless D&D/HB/BB is an acceptable opening AoE rotation (along with the ridiculous rune blackout following it), I'll see little reason to keep it.

Also, assuming that the 2pc bonus and the Glyph of D&D stack, giving a 40% increase in D&D damage (or a little more, if it's multiplicative), would that even make it a necessary piece of single-target rotations?

12-30-2009, 07:37 AM
I did math on it here:

*If* you wanted to make use of the DnD set bonus and glyph as Frost, you'd want to make a custom spec around it, particularly taking Morbidity for more frequent uptime. Still, like you pointed out, using DnD kind of impairs the clean rotation of Frost procs with frequent usage, so I'd be inclined to suggest swapping to a different tree.

12-30-2009, 08:36 AM
Fantastic maths.

Nuts to D&D. I like Frost too much to switch, and I doubt anyone is going to yell at me for not using D&D, considering that my HB pulling has been more than adequate thus far.

I'll still have the T10 bonus since they'll more than likely be the best gear upgrades for me (and the 4pc bonus seems pretty darn good), but that doesn't mean I have to use it. :P

Thanks again!

12-31-2009, 12:13 AM
I'll still have the T10 bonus since they'll more than likely be the best gear upgrades for me (and the 4pc bonus seems pretty darn good), but that doesn't mean I have to use it. :P

Thanks again!

T10 isn't the best gear (for most situations, hardmode content could be a diffirent story) at any level currently. Check the EJ tanking thread for the math. It's estimated at something like 72 stam and 2-3k armor (gained by wearing non-set) vs. 4% (pre-diminishing returns) avoidance and the set bonues (ignoring non-survival stats since both sets easily hit and expertise soft-cap).

I think you'd be hard pressed to consider even the 4p bonus so good it handily out-weighted that much stam and armor.

That isn't to say "avoid t10," because i'm sure at some point i'll have the set, but it certainly isn't a first-buy with frost badges. I would at the very least pick up the gloves, cape, and probably the chest offset bits to maximize your EH. Also, don't forget the crafted legs (which look to be BiS at the moment) and boots which aren't too shabby either.

12-31-2009, 03:37 AM
Why does Unbreakable Armor increase gear/stat armor and not trinket armor?

12-31-2009, 06:15 AM
Unbreakable Armor increases *all* armor. It scales your personal total (i.e. not Devo Aura or Stoneskin as they're applied after the buff, unless I'm mistaken) but it includes trinket/neck/ring armor.

Frost Presence and the meta bonus do not scale those "bonus" armor contributions to help us not scale outrageously.

12-31-2009, 10:01 AM

My base armor (after Horn of Winter) is 26033. I was specifically testing with the Furnace Stone trinket (+5152 armor on use). I'd pop Furnace Stone first and then immediately after UA.

(26033 + 5152) + 25% (7796) = 38981 (but the actual result was 37693 (which is (base + 25%) + 5152))

[EDIT: It occurs to me maybe we're thinking of two different things. Are you referring to on equip armor Satorri?]

12-31-2009, 11:45 AM
This is an awesome guide, and it will help me to better understand the DK tanks that I raid-lead.

I noticed an error that exists in a few locations throughout, and I don't see anyone else mention it. (Although I only browsed the 5 pages of replies... I don't have all day here.)

You mention Improved Gift of the Wild as a 2% stat modified similar to Blessing of Kings. This is incorrect.

Improved Mark of the Wild increases the effect of Gift/Mark and that's the only thing that applies along with the buff. The talent in the resto tree also adds 2% total attributes to the druid who specs 2/2 Improved Mark of the Wild, but that effect only applies to that particular druid and not the recipient of the buff! It's likely designed to be motivation for every druid (especially ferals) to take the buff increase talent, since many people have an annoying tendency to completely ignore utility and only pick talents that buff themselves personally.

(see: Improved Mark of the Wild - WoWWiki - Your guide to the World of Warcraft (http://www.wowwiki.com/Improved_Mark_of_the_Wild) )
2/2 Improved Mark of the Wild:
Increases the effects of your Mark of the Wild and Gift of the Wild spells by 40%, and increases all of your total attributes by 2%.

The "your" means the druid who took the talent, not the recipient of the improved gift/mark.
You've got calculations showing a 1.02 multiplier on stats such as stamina as a result of this buff and you've also mentioned in a few other places that Imp Gift is a percent modifier.

01-02-2010, 02:38 AM
(removed again)

01-02-2010, 01:28 PM
It seems to be rolling, not stacking, from what I see ingame. Or is that just me? :S

You're correct in how it works, this was already discussed on page 3.

01-02-2010, 06:03 PM
I guess I am a blood tank and having difficulties with frost. All of which I am sure are due to my lack of understanding with how it works exactly. Ive read this post and the EJ post and for the life of me I still miss it.

Oh I understand the concepts and things but I can't seem to hold agro with frost d/w or 2hd for the life of me like I do with blood. Perhaps I need a hand holding or something.

Either way thanks Satorri for the work it's nice someone has taken the time to display all the different spec's and the information about them as detailed as you have.

01-02-2010, 06:06 PM
Well pruke, that is one good thing about the dk. You like blood? Then you tank as blood! All there is to it! The specs are all very well done at the moment, and there's even a discrepancy about the best raid spec. Good stuff overall!

01-02-2010, 06:41 PM
Well pruke, that is one good thing about the dk. You like blood? Then you tank as blood! All there is to it! The specs are all very well done at the moment, and there's even a discrepancy about the best raid spec. Good stuff overall!

And by discrepancy, he means they're all good except Unholy in ICC right now. Which is lame. Because Unholy rocks with awesome viking power.

01-03-2010, 03:30 AM
I had no big problems tanking ICC10 as Unholy. Bone Shield being used up so fast hurts, but -6% magic damage sure rocks on Deathwhisper, as does AMZ.

Sure, Marrowgar and Saurfang are melee fights, but we only have access to 4 of the bosses so far. The rest sounds a lot more spelldamage based than these we have now.

I had aggro troubles though, until the 251 2Her from Marrowgar dropped. After that it was perfectly fine.

01-03-2010, 06:06 PM
Unholy doesn't really suffer much from aggro issues anymore (link me your spec if that was an issue, i might be able to help), but i think it's going to be a very encounter-specific spec once content is really challenging us. I haven't found any ICC encounter to be much more difficult in any spec, but unholy did come out on the low end since there isn't much spell damage outside of deathwhisper (and our interrupters are usually on the ball, so even there I don't take a lot of spell damage with baseline ams).

On Marrowgar I felt like blood was a top contender, along side frost, and the same with Overlord and airship. Deathwhisper had a lot more to do with just add-control rather than survival, so i actually liked 2h frost varieties there (if you'd like a spec or details on that, i'll post them).

01-05-2010, 11:53 AM
Heya, my DK is gonna hit 80 soon I've two questions.

Firstly regarding spec. I've found Talent Calculator - World of Warcraft (http://www.wowhead.com/?talent#jcErVh0IcbobsRx0xZ0gh0x:idGmVM) in one of the stickies on WoW forums and it is said to be THE progression spec. I modified it a bit and came up with Talent Calculator - World of Warcraft (http://www.wowhead.com/?talent#jcEMqI0Icbobosx0xZ0gh0x:GpimVM). I lose out on Will of the Necropolis and Scent of Blood but gain Rune Tap and Imp. Rune Tap which I think would be very useful.

Would you say WotN and SoB are REALLY that important and are worth sacrificing Rune Tap for?

When compared to the blood spec you posted, I lose Improved IT and gain Necrosis among other things. Is Improved IT really important, and why?

Secondly, regarding glyphs. Glyph of Vampiric Blood is given, however I'm picking two out of Glyph of Disease, Glyph of Death Strike and Glyph of Rune Strike. In the sticky from WoW forums regarding the progression spec, it picked Glyph of Rune Strike and Glyph of Death Strike. However, I can't help but think of the usefulness of Glyph of Disease. Instead of spending three runes to IT -> PS -> Pestilence, I could just use one Blood/Death rune to refresh all the diseases on all targets.

Lastly, thanks very much on such a great guide, I've learned a lot from it. :)

01-05-2010, 02:39 PM
Heya, my DK is gonna hit 80 soon I've two questions.

Firstly regarding spec. I've found Talent Calculator - World of Warcraft (http://www.wowhead.com/?talent#jcErVh0IcbobsRx0xZ0gh0x:idGmVM) in one of the stickies on WoW forums and it is said to be THE progression spec. I modified it a bit and came up with Talent Calculator - World of Warcraft (http://www.wowhead.com/?talent#jcEMqI0Icbobosx0xZ0gh0x:GpimVM). I lose out on Will of the Necropolis and Scent of Blood but gain Rune Tap and Imp. Rune Tap which I think would be very useful.

Would you say WotN and SoB are REALLY that important and are worth sacrificing Rune Tap for?

When compared to the blood spec you posted, I lose Improved IT and gain Necrosis among other things. Is Improved IT really important, and why?

Secondly, regarding glyphs. Glyph of Vampiric Blood is given, however I'm picking two out of Glyph of Disease, Glyph of Death Strike and Glyph of Rune Strike. In the sticky from WoW forums regarding the progression spec, it picked Glyph of Rune Strike and Glyph of Death Strike. However, I can't help but think of the usefulness of Glyph of Disease. Instead of spending three runes to IT -> PS -> Pestilence, I could just use one Blood/Death rune to refresh all the diseases on all targets.

Lastly, thanks very much on such a great guide, I've learned a lot from it. :)

While there are places where one can play with DK Tank talent builds, IIT is not one of those places. Just read the tool tip, all tanks have a method of dehasting the boss/mobs attack speed... IIT is how a DK tank does it. If you get hit more often, you die faster. Your job is to (1) stay alive and (2) hold aggro and IIT is one of the most important talents for (1). Don't raid without it.

01-05-2010, 02:45 PM
WotN is a passive, possibly save your butt ability with a 15 second cooldown. Less necessary in ICC because of smaller hits, but still useful. SoB fuels your Rune Strikes, your #1 threat generator. IMHO, neither are worth sacrificing for a 30 second cooldown heal. Others disagree.

Improved IT is important because it allows you to make mobs hit you slower, therefore making you take less damage.

I used to use GoD because it makes the rotation fairly mindless, but it negates the value of Improved IT because the refresh leaves a Frost Fever on the mob that only melee dehastes them the original untalented amount. You also sacrifice some amount of threat.

01-05-2010, 03:05 PM
My question pertains to AoE threat. As you state in your guide (and that I've also found in personal testing and experience), D&D pretty much sucks as Frost since HB does the job so well, and because it's awkward for our rune usage, in my opinion. My typical AoE pull is HB/BB/BB/OB (hoping for a Rime proc, and giggling like a school girl when it happens), then Blood Tap for another BB if it's up. Obviously using Glyph of HB, of course.

I disagree with the criticism of D&D in frost. I have in the past experimented with single disease openers and found they are inferior to the following: D&D, IT, PS, Pest, BT, BB, FS, HB (no glyph on HB, D&D glyphed). I only open with HB when a gauntlet forces me to do aoe pulls faster then the untalented cd of D&D, or when some unwary dpser aggros mobs during the 5 or so seconds I sometimes have to wait between trash pulls. In heroics and whatnot I pull to fast to use BT on every pull, so I omit that first BB on every other pull or so, and often just make sure that it is stuck in the rotations for the bigger pulls in the instance (leaving it out of little two/three mob pulls to make sure it is available when I chain pull an entire room).

That being said, I only use D&D to load aggro in the first rotation. Given its rune cost its not really practical after that. So I continue on with IT, PS, Pest, BB, FS dump, HB. When all but one or two of the mobs are dead I will either go strait single target, or use hybrid rotations, depending on the situation.

The IT, PS, FS dumps and RS procs should all be targeted to the primary dps target if there is one, so that your high threat single target dpser's don't grab aggro while the aoers mow down the rest. Even in fights where mobs aren't marked for dps priority, the single target dps'ers who are worth a damn will use /assist macros or other conventions (such as target of target) to make sure they are dolling their damage on your highest threat target.

As far as the aoe threat generated goes... my server is full of DK tanks using one disease rotations and glyphed HB openers, but high damage aoers often tell me that I am one of the few DK tanks who they will open up hard and early with, without worrying that the entire pull is going to jump them for doing it.

01-06-2010, 04:54 AM
Just a quick thought.

Bone Shield would be interesting if it were turned into something of a Holy Shield type ability, giving the Unholy tree essentially a block mechanic.

1U - Bone Shield - Creates a whirling shield of bones that protect you, causing you to take 20% less damage from all sources. 3 Charges (4 glyphed). Lasts 10 seconds. 30 second cooldown.

Rough idea, and it's early in the morning, but something like that might make it more viable in ICC content.

01-06-2010, 05:06 AM
I used to use GoD because it makes the rotation fairly mindless, but it negates the value of Improved IT because the refresh leaves a Frost Fever on the mob that only melee dehastes them the original untalented amount. You also sacrifice some amount of threat.

I knew it didn't refresh Imp. Icy Talons, but I was unaware of this. Can anyone confirm?

01-06-2010, 07:15 AM
GoD does not do anything to Imp Icy Touch except make it so you don't use the damage increase on IT very frequently. It has zero effect on the de-haste as the talent modifies Frost Fever and doesn't care how it is applied.

You also sacrifice no threat to take GoD, in fact you increase it slightly, however it *may* not be as large a value as other threat glyphs, which is why I classify it as a play style effect more than a threat glyph. The trade off means you don't have to use IT/PS, but instead use a no-threat Pestilence and another single-rune ability of your choosing (often HS/BB). The glyph gives you one extra rune and one extra GCD per bi-phase.

And to be clear on Imp IT, the full de-haste is really not a smart thing to leave off unless you're trusting someone else to apply the debuff. The talent amounts to something on the order of 2% reduced damage per point, or ~6% for the full 3/3 in Imp Icy Touch. This is a very respectable tanking talent.

Firebolt. I don't know where you dug up that "THE progression spec" but while it's not horrible you should know it's just a heavily threat-centric build with a little dumb wrapped in (the whole spec trades survival tools for threat tools until you reach WotN and MoM, where they trade a point in MoM devaluing several other talents, and fill out WotN as the sole survival tool aside from Vamp Blood).

To answer some of your specific concerns though, WotN is a fine talent if you're dealing with heavy hitting raid bosses (the sort of thing you don't see often outside of Uld/ToC), and you want an insurance policy. The overall reduction is nothing particularly comparable to other survival tools. Even in the most generous of situations it will only approach them. I wouldn't recommend using it as a new 80, your points will be better spent otherwise.

I love glyph of Disease, I feel that it makes me a stronger tank with fewer vulnerabilities in threat generation. It is not universal, nor is it an absolute superior threat value, but there is no good reason to not use it unless you have glyphs you prefer. You can probably not notice leaving off glyph of Vamp Blood as a new 80 either, but when it comes to heavier raid tanking, you'll likely enjoy the longer duration (especially since the t9 4 piece bonus is so easily achieved now, combining the glyph with that bonus makes for a high Vamp Blood uptime).

01-06-2010, 12:50 PM
I never particularly cared for Glyph of Disease when in blood spec.

I always found that it really screwed up my rotation to the point that the one extra HS was not worth it. The problem is that you cannot possibly refresh your diseases at the same time every rotation, thus the pestilence has to be moved around.

Even in a perfect 2/2 Epidemic rotation, any minor delay, will cause the disease to drop off, and if you happen to hit Pest, spreading only one or zero diseases, you have wasted your Death Rune, and can't even deliver a proper IT/PS combo to recover until another whole rotation.

I just found that the tiny amount of extra DPS (HS damage vs. IT/PS damage) to not really be worth it, never mind that I would also have to lose a DPS glyph on top of that.
If I am incorrect, do you have a strong rotation where it would be possible to always use Pest at the same time each rotation?

My rotation is IT > PS > HS > HS > DS > DC > DC or HoW > DS > HS > HS > HS > HS
Currently I use glyph of rune strike, dark death, and death strike. I would probably sacrifice the death strike glyph if I were to grab the disease one.

Edit: The above is really geared toward a single target situation. In an AOE situation, where I am already using Pest, it would be a nice tool to have.

01-07-2010, 07:01 AM
I'm stumped, how does Glyph of Disease screw you up? Are you trying to use a static rotation, set sequence and you don't feel like you can Pestilence at the same time with it?

Part of the point of Glyph of Disease the way I use it with Blood and DRM is that you don't have to try to follow a strict cast sequence (which I actually find to be inhibiting). Instead you can follow a priority system and remain flexible. You can Pestilence whenever you need to with Glyph of Disease because you have 4-6 accessible runes constantly coming off cooldown. If you miss a refresh that's for your own lack of attention, it has nothing to do with the glyph.

I'm also a little confused by your putting glyph of DS below Dark Death, but perhaps you have 3/3 in Sudden Doom?

01-07-2010, 11:34 AM
As far as the aoe threat generated goes... my server is full of DK tanks using one disease rotations and glyphed HB openers, but high damage aoers often tell me that I am one of the few DK tanks who they will open up hard and early with, without worrying that the entire pull is going to jump them for doing it.

Comparing yourself to others that may be under geared, poorly geared or just plain fail is rarely a good way to measure yourself :D

I run with ICC, ToCG geared DPS and do not have trouble holding packs with a single disease opener in Frost. I do not use D&D at all in when I'm tanking frost. So to each their own. That's the great thing about DK's, you can really play them in so many different ways and do well.

01-07-2010, 11:34 AM
As far as the aoe threat generated goes... my server is full of DK tanks using one disease rotations and glyphed HB openers, but high damage aoers often tell me that I am one of the few DK tanks who they will open up hard and early with, without worrying that the entire pull is going to jump them for doing it.

Comparing yourself to others that may be under geared, poorly geared or just plain fail is rarely a good way to measure yourself :D

I run with ICC, ToCG geared DPS and do not have trouble holding packs with a single disease opener in Frost. I do not use D&D at all in when I'm tanking frost. So to each their own. That's the great thing about DK's, you can really play them in so many different ways and do well.

01-07-2010, 01:09 PM
Satorri, you're probably right about the haste debuff. I thought I'd read that GoD didn't work with it in addition to Icy Talons, but I may have misread it.

01-08-2010, 06:34 AM
I'm entirely confident that it has no effect on Imp Icy Touch. I'm not 100% about Icy Talons as I rarely have the talent. =)

Imp Icy Touch modifies the Frost Fever effect, and is exclusive from Icy Touch use (ironically). Icy Talons is worded to say that it is triggered so long as "Frost Fever is reducing a target's attack speed" so I'd assume it works for that as well, but that I haven't read on or tested.

01-08-2010, 12:23 PM
I can confirm that icy talons is not renewed by glyph of disease.

01-08-2010, 01:19 PM
Quick question:

I am planning to go with Talent Calculator - World of Warcraft (http://www.wowhead.com/?talent#jcEMqI0IsbobosthxZ0g) an need help with my last 3 points. I was originally planning to go with 3 points into Morbidity but I realized I only use DnD at the beginning of the rotation (pull) so why would I really need to lower it's cooldown? One option I am thinking of is going 1 point into Morbidity (since some pulls are fast enough where I wish I had DnD 2-3 sec early) and the other 2 points into Imp Blood Presence. Thoughts?


01-09-2010, 12:51 AM
Imp BP is a poor choice for a tank. Think about it. You hit for 10k with great gear, you get a 200 heal. That's almost laughable when you consider you spent 2 talent points for it and death-strike is a % heal that is already in any blood tanking spec.

While i'm so very tempted to say that WOTN is the only only only choice for those three points... i suppose if you just don't care about maximizing survivability scent of blood deserves a point (not sure why you don't have at least 1 point there, though 3 isn't necessary), and sudden doom is a slight single target threat boost.

01-09-2010, 01:51 AM
This did turn out to be a good book, well done Satorri. :) I haven't quite finished reading it yet.

01-09-2010, 07:17 AM
Thank you, Grav, you humble me. =)

And Adiba, remember that reducing the CD on DnD is only half the talent, the other half buffs your DCs which is not a bad investment either. The combined value can be rather nice.

For when you use DnD, try running it. I usually will only drop it once per pull in a 5-man, but if your group is strong enough you'll be rolling through the instance rather fast and you may find you are watching the cooldown. Perhaps that will only come with time and experience though, as pushing the pace of an instance is a skill set (and the impatient desire to go fast has seen many of the tanks I heal not able to support their own pace >.<)

01-10-2010, 09:02 PM
Edits for the sections I've read so far :)

in the section entitled "glyphs", I recommend you change title to "Glyphs not to use" or "bad glyphs".

In that section, Glyph of IT (should really have been called glyph of frost fever, eh), is excellent for unholy tanks threat who can pick RS, BS and IT. My view is it shouldn't be in the bad glyph section, but it is bad for frost or blood tanks, compared to their alternatives. IT Glyph though for Unholy is generally the highest threat choice for your third glyph (RS and BS being the two mandatory 1st and 2nd).

01-11-2010, 08:10 AM
I haven't actually crunched the numbers, that section was written just before 3.3 and I didn't catch that to re-address.

For pure threat choices, I'd want to compare it to Dark Death with UB taken, and DnD as well. I'll have to do that, but now is not the time. =)

And I don't like labeling a section "bad" anything. The point is they aren't actually bad, they're just limited or not valuable depending on the situation. IT was labeled as inferior because it offered less value, not no value. I'll need to re-run numbers.

01-11-2010, 01:28 PM
You could even go so far as to look at the glyphed DnD two-piece T10 gear, with a single-target rotation including DnD (even though it'd suck for every fight with mobility outside the DnD area). :) Probably not a good tanking concept for the overview book though.

01-11-2010, 05:21 PM
You mean, like this:

01-11-2010, 07:14 PM
Satorri, you mentioned you use GoD. Which glyph (presumably either Rune Strike or Death Strike) do you forgo for it?

EDIT: Nvm just found your armory and saw that you replaced Glyph of Rune Strike with GoD. Thanks anyway! :)

01-12-2010, 06:17 AM
I never kept Glyph of RS. I tested it against DS, DS gave me better returns. Disease has been a staple since its inception. =)

01-12-2010, 02:38 PM
You mean, like this:

I'd link to that discussion then. It's pretty solid. Satorri-Solid.

01-12-2010, 05:53 PM
I saw it somewhere but I have no clue where. What's the damage reduction via resistance?

Basically.. a 3 stack of Acclimation.. just how useful is it?

Also, what are some good strong fights for it?

01-12-2010, 08:30 PM
I couldn't find it on tankspot, but there are two recent threads on dk.info about it: 1 (http://deathknight.info/forum/index.php?topic=7983.0) and 2 (http://deathknight.info/forum/index.php?topic=8027.0).

01-12-2010, 11:32 PM
I have a simple question: What is the best spec for tanking in ICC25 ? at the moment im blood speced, but to be honest i dont like it very much ... would itbe possible to tank as unholy in ICC25 ?

01-13-2010, 08:29 AM
Damage reduction from Resistance is a little hinky and it's 2-featured with mitigation (think armor vs spells) and partial resists. The long and the short of it is that Acclimation is a major survival value against consistent spell damage. It is not wasted on more sporadic spell damage, but it *really* shines when you're taking regular damage, even from multiple sources.

exxistenz, there is no *best* that transcends the player. The good question is which will be best for you and that is something you'll have to figure out for yourself through trial and error if you're so inclined.

Unholy can certainly tank ICC, though the Chill of the Thrown debuff will actually affect your primary defensive cooldown (Bone Shield). It is not a game breaker, but it is enough for many tanks to not want to in favor of the unaffected CDs of Blood and Frost.

01-13-2010, 06:29 PM
To toss in my two cents about Acclimation, it's one of those talents (not unlike AMZ or Rune Tap) that when it has a chance to get used to its fullest potential it's worth every talent point you put in it.

A couple of great examples of fights where Acclimation is noticed is Twins, Koralon, add tank for Emalon, and Lady Deathwhisper. I'd have to check to see if it's as good as I think it is on Fester and Rot. Some mechanics are sort of odd in that they will proc Acclimation, where other similar mechanics won't. If it does work on Fester it'd help ease incoming constant damage from Gaseous Blight.

Personally I enjoy the roll of being "the pinch hitter" tank for odd situations, and am always willing to respec for such an occasion.

01-14-2010, 04:01 AM
I have 1 point to put somewhere in my spec.

Do you think 10% proc rate on Acclimation is still worth taking it?

01-14-2010, 07:05 AM
It may be, if you're looking for improving you survival particularly against spells. But it would be more helpful to see the rest of your tree to make that call.

(and Lillith, I'd wager it's pretty unnecessary/mildly helpful on Festergut, but for the off-tank on Rotface it *may* not be bad, especially while learning).

01-14-2010, 09:23 AM
So I was told that if your a DK tank in a progression guild you need to be Blood and nothing else. This seems highly prejudiced against Frost and Unholy to me. Now granted I have never tanked Unholy before so not sure how it really is. BUT I am DW Frost Tanking, and it seems not only viable but really well suited for progression raids.

Thoughts? Or anyone have examples of DW Frosties Tanking for Progression guilds?

01-14-2010, 10:12 AM
People who say you need to be blood and nothing else are the same types that say Arcane, Mut, Survival, Destro, etc. are the only way to go. They're talking about spreadsheets and math. In practice it's a very different creature.

DW frost has a few things going for it that blood cannot contend with. First is snap aoe aggro. This is endlessly helpful for not only trash, which as much as we may all not want to admit to it, can wipe a raid much like a boss can. And it's great for things like Deathwhisper and Gunship (if you're defending your boat). As well, the frost CD "Unbreakable Armor" along with the longer IBF makes frost tanks a tad more solid when it comes to taking less damaging hits.

The argument for blood often comes from the two-dimensional philosophy that more health = better tank. It's an outdated ideology that should be discarded.

If you can also manage to build a solid tank set with two slow 1 handers, instead of the standard two fast tanking weapons, then you'll also be a beast when it comes to rune strike damage/threat.

All in all, is blood the ONLY choice, no it isn't. While it may make people feel more at ease to see a tank with 40k unbuffed as opposed to 37k unbuffed, if all of the other factors that make frost worth playing are taken into consideration it should be a non-issue.

The only spec that really suffers this patch is Unholy because of the avoidance-dependent Bone Shied. This doesn't make Unholy impossible to play, but it does mean you gotta think a bit different than a blood tank.

01-14-2010, 12:16 PM
Absolutely magnificent detail in your guide Satorri! Bravo!

01-15-2010, 06:30 AM
So I was told that if your a DK tank in a progression guild you need to be Blood and nothing else.

Because I am rather frequently involved in DK tanking online and in the forum communities, I've been keeping track for the last year and a half:

1.) Popular opinions on DK specs, particularly for tanking.

2.) What specs people I speak to are *actually* using.

Be sure, popular opinion only sways what specs are actually being used so much, and it NEVER dictates its efficacy.

There were Blood tanks before Blood was patched up to be as pleasant as it is now. They did fine, they just had to work a little harder. I was one of the first *vocal* DK tanks to make the move to Blood when they did patch it, and it took time for people to decide that Blood was SUPER powerful for tanking.

For a long time it was firmly believed that Frost was *the* only DK tank tree. It was also believed that dual wield tanking would mean you would insta-explode in a fiery blaze of dumb (via parry-haste). The thing that makes me chuckle there is that now there are talents to support dual wield threat, but not only did they *not* reduce parry liability, they increased it (FS no longer immune to parry).

To answer your question more directly, Frost is a tank powerhouse, and currently there are many high-end tanks who are quite comfortably tanking their way through ICC.

Blood is strong, but no stronger in ICC, and if anything the shift is starting to move away from obsessive health stacking and to more damage saving values (thank you delicious bonus armor on gear).

Unholy works just fine in ICC, but the major issue is that Chill of the Thrown has a slight reducing effect on the uptime of Bone Shield. Generally speaking, Bone Shield always soaks roughly the same amount and increasing the uptime comes with additional damage savings from the avoidance itself, but there is an effect in helping the chance stacking of damage sources (against which it is quite strong). When in doubt though, players usually prefer predictable passive results to chance-based or questionable (rightly or misplaced) methods.

01-15-2010, 09:15 AM
I have noticed a few of the high-end raiding guild DK tanks are switching from Blood to Frost tanking. It seems they are still prefering using a 2H'er over DW though. In this guide, it rates them as being equal. Has there been any changes in thought to 2H vs DW, specifially when talking about ICC content.

01-15-2010, 11:01 AM
I am guessing with ICC glyph of Death Strike pulls even further ahead of Rune strike.

Great info Satorri. I don't have as much time to spend research stuff for my dk alt and having a source like this is appreciated.

Even if you are a space goat. ;p

01-15-2010, 02:40 PM
Heilig, honestly, there's nothing wrong with using a 2-hander, but it's hard for it to keep up with a dual wield setup threat-wise. You gain very little survival value for using the 2-hander as well.

The reason you may see some of these new switchers using 2-handers is for lack of 1-handed weapons in their arsenal. They may never have imagined a dual wield set and as such had nothing lying around to use at the same level as their 2-hander.

And Predakhan, it's sticky. RS also got a threat buff. It has slipped a bit down the list though for total threat for me. And don't hate the spacegoats, LOVE the spacegoats!

01-16-2010, 01:58 AM
Small nitpick, I was looking through the Runeforges section (and wanting to brush up on thoughts of Stoneskin Gargoyle vs Swordshattering) and I noticed you had Fallen Crusader as 2h only. It is definately both 1h and 2h.

01-16-2010, 04:41 AM
Also in the case of Frost it frees up points, I find it ~impossible to supply my raid with Imp Icy Talons or pick up Acclimation in a spec if I go for DW-Frost. :(

01-16-2010, 04:52 AM
Hey All,

Hopefully I don't get kicked off here for asking questions.....like on EJ. Anyway, thanx for the awesome guide. Really helped me out.

Personally I like Frost and the whole DW tanking idea. I leveled my DK before any of my other toons (played druid tank in vanilla and TBC) but because I didn't understand it, I placed here in a box and leveled everything else.

Now a bit bored with my druid, found this thread and thoroughly enjoyed the reading. Well Done!!

So do I have a question? Yes I do. I have tried my best to go through this thread to see if there is anything that would help me so apologies if my question has been specifically asked/answered and I missed it. A gentle nudge in the direction would be appreciated.

Right. So I am in lvl200 gear. I have 2 T9 pieces but that is all that is worth mentioning. My single target threat is around 5k upwards according to omen so I am happy with that.

What I am not happy with is my AoE tanking. I think I am missing something. I use basically the same method as Haber described on page 5 I think...which is HB, BBx2, BT, BB etc etc.

While this works great if there is a KM queuing, I feel that the normal non-crit hit of HB is just not doing it for me.

1) Is the only way to get more KM procs to up hit and expertise?
2) Is there some way to get OB to proc Rime more? or is that just a "use it more" answer?

I was thinking that since BB is an integral part of Frost AoE tanking (as u said in your guide Satorri) that I should maybe swap my rotation for AoE pulls to something like IT > PS > Pest > BB > BT > BB and then carry on from there since BB gains more from 2 diseases?

Appreciate any suggestions.


01-16-2010, 05:34 AM

For tanking heroics, I've found a few things, at least in my experiences, that can make your life a little easier:

I would personally use D&D more often while your weapons are bad (and your HB not as good). I was lucky enough to get some decent weapons pretty quickly, but you'll find D&D is better until you get some good i232s from the new heroics or something along those lines.

Don't be afraid to put DW on the shelf temporarily if you nab a really good 2-hander. If you have a 2hander that's something like 13+ item levels higher than your 1H weapons, your threat will likely be better just going 2H with the better weapon.

I've also found a very good rotation for AoE pulls, but isn't always available for obvious reasons: HB/PS/Pest/BB/BT/OB. Obviously this is with HB glyphed...you get both diseases spread quickly, and still get the nice snappiness of HB/BB in there as well. Gotta have Blood Tap up (or still have Death Runes from a prior pull...sometimes happens) to do it, but I've found it to be very solid.

01-16-2010, 06:50 AM
Draco, to be sure, you're dual wield frost tanking, yeah? I'll break down some key details that might help in your figuring.

1.) If you want to do the quick snap AoE threat with HB and BB, you need to have HB glyphed. If you don't then that's going to be on the weak side. If you want to make that more reliable you can put a point into Deathchill and use that on the pull. It will guarantee that first HB hits like a truck on everything it hits. That's the best use of the talent I have found.

2.) BB only gets buffed if you have a disease on the target, it does not get buffed *per* diseases, so a second disease will add its own threat to your targets but it will not buff BB or any other damage. FF is the only requirement to get the full damage value out of everything except BS and OB for a Frost DK.

3.) As Haber was suggesting, an alternate tool for more reliable threat when you're a newer tank or if you don't feel like HB is doing it for you, is to actually drop DnD, HB your targets, then BB, Blood Tap> BB. That will set up the spike damage, but will also get you the best DnD ticks you can to support that. DnD scales directly off AP and has a nice threat multiplier, which with Tundra Stalker and Black Ice buffing it makes for fairly reliable foundation threat. In the long run I almost invariably advocate getting used to not using DnD as Frost as I feel you can make better use of your Frost skills that way, but DnD is a great tool to rely on when you're not confident in your gear yet.

4.) KM is proc-per-minute regulated, and while I know it has a limit to how often it can trigger, I'm fairly certain it is *not* enforced that it will proc the most it can all the time. This is speculation on my part as it is hard to test and I haven't found anyone who has, but I'm fairly certain that you can lose a proc if your swing is avoided. That being the case, in theory, you should be able to improve the proc rate marginally by improving your hit/expertise if they are particularly lacking. Generally, though, I still see it come up fairly regularly with my experimental mini-dk whose tank set is rather weak on hit/expertise, so maybe I'm mistaken.

Generally, you don't really play into getting KM more, the key is just in using it on the tool you want most. That's often best accomplished by having a clear indicator of the proc, and the wherewithal to hold your FS/IT for that HB you want (or IT/HB for the FS you want).

5.) Rime is a chance proc on OB. There is nothing you can do to improve the proc rate other than "OB more" as you said (though, I'm fairly certain it only procs on OB hits, not uses, so again not missing OBs will improve that). If you're dual wielding you're already getting the best possible situations for procs otherwise.

6.) The value of a second disease is most noticeable in single target threat for buffing OB and BS into their strongest form. That said, it is not a non-factor and can still support a decent bump to your aoe threat if you take the time to put diseases on everyone. It is simply just not as fast, and more costly to maintain.

01-16-2010, 08:19 AM
I think this is the original reason why I went back to my druid. Swipe, while not hitting for as much as HB, crits all the time and even if it doesn't....it feels to me like "better threat" if I can put it like that.

For my DK I don't think my gear is too bad. If you wanna have a look HERE (http://eu.wowarmory.com/character-sheet.xml?r=Nagrand&cn=Deathrune)

I don't have awesome gear but it should be ok to tank normal heroics. I am not looking to raid just yet. But the main problem is that AoE threat is not great. You have both referred to snap AoE threat using HB and BB....My HB is glyphed. I checked in a few runs I just did.....after popping HB > BBx2 > BT > BB ..... I only had about 12 - 13k threat and then the mages took the mobs using blizzard.

So I assume one of 2 things then. Either my gear really is too crap for heroics or I am not doing something right....or...3rd thing....I need to gem or enchant a certain way.

I am gonna go and look at Rawr quick.

Thanx for the help so far. I really want to learn all I can.

Guess I need more AP for HB to hit properly.

01-16-2010, 11:28 PM
I'd wager you went back to your bear for the same reason i regularly run heroics and other off-raid fun stuffs on my paladin or warrior instead of my dk: rune refresh time is a major buzzkill for both aoe and trying to speed-run anything.

The key to aoe with a dk of any spec is figuring out: how long you need to keep aggro, how vital the initial snap threat is, and how many mobs you'll be handling.

Generally for frost a glyphed HB will be all the snap you need for an aoe pack in a heroic. Toss in some blood boils and you are probably going to hold onto things until they die, moments later.

Conversely, in a raid setting, where you want to hang onto say 8 mobs for a minute or two. First off, glyphed HB isn't great for a raid setting, so you probably don't have it. That being said, you'll generally dnd, apply your diseases to a target, pestilence (that puts all of your runes on cooldown) and then get to tabbing, attempting to rune-strike as many of the adds as possible (with priority on a burn target if one exists). That's the generic "i wanna keep these for a while" template, regardless of spec (excluding, as i mentioned above, non-standard glyphs setups).

From there you would do whatever aoe is best fitting your spec (it helps if you have rune-strike macro'd to that skill so you can continue to do the whole tab-strike thing while you hb/bloodboil/heart strike/etc.) and then go back to step 1 once diseases are wearing off.

01-17-2010, 12:46 AM
Yes. At this stage I am having that blackout that every1 is talking about :)

The problem as I see it is not the amount of threat applied when u use a skill, but rather the consistency of the threat applied. I realised last night that in my concentration and focus to learn a rotation and try and keep agro on a pack....especially when there are ppl hitting everything but your target (any1 notice that no one knows or uses target of target and are very rude about it when u tell them too)...that in the mess I forget about my other cooldowns, such as Empower Rune Weapon.

I think one of my main concerns is that I don't understand yet what stats effect what abilities. For instance, I had a trinket with a use function on it that added 600 AP for 20secs. Gave my HB about 130 more dmg on each hit on the dummies. This took my AP up to about 3000 (unbuffed). But when I get into an instance and I am buffed and AP is at 4.2k (approx), HB is still under hitting for a 2k non-crit value.

So do I need to stack crit to some or other softcap? Reason I ask this is cos I have seen BB crit a few times. I am thinking that if I can get that and HB to crit more often (excluding KM) I might solve my problem.....or is that going to come with gear?

The other thing that was mentioned to me last night when I was playing around with hit etc is that I need spell hit. At first I thought meh....but there is that talent in the Unholy tree that gives u spellhit. Is it worth stacking hit for spellhit for raiding or is that purely an Unholy thing. Since I am a spacegoat along with NoS, I have 4% hit before gear. So I only need 4% from gear for softcap right? Don't know if I answered this yet: Yes I am Frost dual wielding.

I know there is a gem section in your guide Satorri but I can't remember seeing it there.....so I will go and read again but I will ask anyway. Rawr is telling me to stack stam. Logic tells me that I need to stack avoidance more than stam to get max RS. In red slots I have been putting dodge/stam, in blue I have been putting stam. what do I put in yellow? Forego the bonus and put a pure dodge or expertise or strength or crit or stam?

01-17-2010, 12:54 AM
Throw your rune-strike logic out the window and stack stam in your gem sockets. You will not notice significant threat gains from RS by gimping your EH through avoidance gemming or enchanting.

The 'blackout' point in your rotation is problematic for any dk. Functionally, the best thing you can do to alleviate the issue is make sure to position youself in melee range of all the targets (if you can) so that they can be hit with RS while you're generally tabbing quickly to keep them all on you. You can also maintain sufficient levels of hit stats so that you aren't ending up with a lot of wiffed RS procs.

The fickle nature of RS is something that takes time to deal with and accomodate for. You're never really going to reach a point where you aren't at least somewhat at luck's mercy as to whether or not you'll maintain sufficient threat on all the mobs in a big aoe pack/aoe dps situation, but you can work on understanding the mechanics and practicing those basics to ensure you've got the best possible odds.

And of course, when all else fails, grab a hunter and/or rogue for mis-direction and tricks.

01-17-2010, 09:08 AM
It depends. I gem some Avoidance/Sta or even Crit/Sta (with too low crit my AE threat is rock-bottom because I need 20%+ buffed crit to notice Wandering Plague securing it) if I would gain a Sta-socketbonus anyways. Likewise I socket Exp/Sta if there's a Sta socketbonus because my Expertise is so low any lower and I'd start parrying for the boss. ;)

01-17-2010, 01:20 PM
It depends. I gem some Avoidance/Sta or even Crit/Sta (with too low crit my AE threat is rock-bottom because I need 20%+ buffed crit to notice Wandering Plague securing it) if I would gain a Sta-socketbonus anyways. Likewise I socket Exp/Sta if there's a Sta socketbonus because my Expertise is so low any lower and I'd start parrying for the boss. ;)

No, please do not ever gem crit (avoidance gemming is ineffectual enough) in your tanking gear. I'm begging you.

01-18-2010, 04:39 AM
Question for you all.

Which build is best for death knight magical damage tanking?

**Edit** Scratch that, peoples opinions of pro's and cons of each spec's magical tanking.

All are assuming 4% spell reduction using runeforging. - So that can be ignored.

Blood offers spell deflection (parry % change to reduce spell damage by 45%). So stacking parry gear of the usual kit could lead to a decent amount of reduced damage. Taking about 25% parry chance (higher than normal because choosing parry gear, against the normal balance) gives 11.125% spell damage reduction. But note this is avoidance based.

Frosts main spell damage reduction is Acclimation. With the two onyxia rings and the correct aura applied, its quite easy to get up to 335 resist. Now I've got no maths on this, but once I've got to this level I dont recount ever recieving a full damage hit. - Mix of avoidance and flat damage reduction. Its a chance of damage reduction yes, but I don't think once built I've been hit for a 100% spell damage hit, except on the built up. And personally I think this is probably the best.

Unholy has the AMZ, improved AMS and 6% base magic damage reduction. - I see this as still useful as unlike bloods deflection, its a flat damage reduction and unlike the other two works against magical damage taken from enviromental effects (the others require you to be attacked by a spell).

01-18-2010, 04:48 AM
Another question about Acclimation.. does the buff apply BEFORE or AFTER the damage from the attack that manages to trigger it?

[EDIT: Actually, looking over a log I have of me speccing into 3 ranks of it for the Anomalus achievement.. the buff is applied BEFORE the damage. This means that even at 1 rank and lasting for only one hit, it's still beneficial (although probably just a small amount). Still mulling over where to put that last 1 talent point. It's either Acclimation or toss it into something that gives more threat/dps (which I don't really have any issues with 'at the moment').]

01-18-2010, 04:50 AM
Another question about Acclimation.. does the buff apply BEFORE or AFTER the damage from the attack that manages to trigger it?


01-18-2010, 05:32 AM
Yeah, I just went back and got a cleaner log and you're right. It's after the damage is done.

01-18-2010, 08:53 AM
From my testing, the combat log will say that it is applied after but the damage taken is more concurrent with the resistance being applied before. Be careful how you take the entries in the combat log they can be a little wonky thanks to server communication.

Acclimation can be a very heavy survival value against magic damage. Against infrequent damage it can average to be a little weak because of the chance to proc, but when you are taking regular damage from the same source(s) it can add up to be a pretty remarkable mitigation value.

Spell Deflection will average out to a larger average reduction than Magic Suppression for Unholy given typical parry levels, however the tricky thing about it is that it does not apply to every incident. If you're dealing with specific shots that *must* be survived, you are less likely to avoid them all. When it procs Spell Deflection is a big deal life saver, whereas Unholy relies on a constant level of magic mitigation.

Prolet, Avoidance gemming is not ineffectual, at all, ever. It's just a less popular/common value.

Draco, there's nothing wrong with gemming avoidance, but as a tank health is your bread and butter baseline. I usually fall somewhere between the "pure stam in every socket, period" and having sockets without stamina. I prefer stam on every gem to keep my health total respectable, but there is no such thing as a useless socket bonus for a tank, and with t9+ gear you'll find most of our socket bonuses are just more stamina. Pick your favorite gems for your slots and stick with them (like for me, I prefer pure stam in blues, Agi/Stam in reds, and Hit/Stam in yellows if I'm on a low hit swing on gear, or Def/Stam if I'm not). You can make more net value if you actually value non-stam stats. If you only want health, and many people do, pure stamina in every socket will always get you the most of that.

On that note I've been doing some experimenting with my super secret mini-dk alt I have. I've built a t9.0 equivalent tank set, with a frost spec, and I've been abusing the scale towards avoidance, primarily through trinkets and dodge/stam gems. So far I've been tilting the scale slowly, mostly splitting more values. Right now, with modest buffs she sits around 65% avoidance and 38k health, full raid buffs should push her a decent stretch over 40k, and gain me 3-4% more avoidance.

I've been running random 5's primarily so far to see how healers respond, and so far the feeling has been that I am terribly easy to heal. I'm eager to pit myself against a good raid boss or 10 to gauge how that feels to healers, particularly ToC and ICC, but that will be time willing. The ultimate test of health vs avoidance is when your target can hit you for a significant portion of your health.

To rehash the age-old issue on EH vs Avoidance, the distinction is a little funny, if you're just making the balance using gems and trinkets. You are not choosing between damage reduction tools, your only means to get armor through gems is Agility. You may be dealing with an armor trinket, but usually the choice is between a stam trinket and a dodge trinket. What this means is Avoidance will result in you taking less damage, but because your health total is smaller, your health bar will appear to take bigger steps when you get hit. If you are facing down most things that will only hit you for a fraction of your health, you'll find that is not so significant. Against a target that really smashes you, it will only *actually* become an issue when the target can actually kill you in two swings. Provided your avoidance set is capable of surviving two hits in a row, the less frequent hits will actually appear to drop your bar farther when you are hit, but you will generally leave healers aware of the fact that you take less work to keep up.

So far this is fairly anecdotal and is shy of the most critical tests, but I'll post to update as I make those tests. The other key issue here is that it largely does come down to psychological implications for the healers now. What I mean is, mana management is less of a driving force now than healing output, so to that end there's nothing inherently negative about being a manasponge (huge health, poor avoidance/mitigation, you'll take plenty of damage but because you have so much health you have time for the healers to spam you full).

That said, if you can take less or infrequent enough damage, healers don't mind that your bar seems to dip in larger steps, since it also takes fewer heals to push you back to full.

It's funky, but I've been doing research trying to wrap a more conclusive handle around it. =)

That still won't stop everyone who have never played it out in reality from regurgitating the substandard value of avoidance, and extolling the might of pure stamina in every source you can get it.

01-18-2010, 11:35 AM
As someone who just hit 80 less than 2 weeks ago and probably have sub-par gear like you, here is what has worked well for me for AOE tanking. Granted, I am blood specced (and love it!), this might help you a bit.

2+ mobs:
DnD > IT > PS > Pest
After this just tab and HS/DS like crazy (note that both my HS and DS have RS in them)

5+ mobs:
DnD > IT > PS > Pest
Now just DS to convert your runes and use them to BB like there is no tomorrow

5+ mobs that have no hp:
DnD > BB like crazy

This has worked really well for me, I never lose aggro on aoe unless there are melee who are single targeting then I it is just a matter of noticing what mob they are focus firing and switching to that

01-18-2010, 01:07 PM
Disregard my previous post. I'm unwilling to debate avoidance gemming once again.

01-19-2010, 11:34 AM

As you will quickly discover, there are a number of ways to handle an aoe pull in frost, and it is good to practice all of them as the "best" way is often dependant on environmental restraints, mob types, cool downs, etcetera. That being said I wanted to toss in a factor that nobody else seems to have mentioned regarding your original post. In high end gear your aoe threat output in frost should easily hold against the aoe of mages and whatnot. From time to time a mob pops out and you just deal with it quickly, but generally there just aren't problems.

The problem you may be facing is not that you aren't "geared enough" for heroics, but that you aren't "geared enough" for higher geared aoe dps'ers. Their threat generation does not go down just because they are doing an overgeared lol run. If you have people in the party putting out high aoe damage, unfortunately, you may be doing everything you can and still not holding against them. In those circumstances, until you are a geared beast, you will need the overgeared to back off a bit.

01-19-2010, 11:53 AM
Comparing yourself to others that may be under geared, poorly geared or just plain fail is rarely a good way to measure yourself :D

I run with ICC, ToCG geared DPS and do not have trouble holding packs with a single disease opener in Frost. I do not use D&D at all in when I'm tanking frost. So to each their own. That's the great thing about DK's, you can really play them in so many different ways and do well.

Well... yeah, I agree on all points.

01-19-2010, 08:35 PM
Hi. I need more threat.

Atually i'm using DW frost (9/52/10) with Que'el serrar main hand and Rimefang's Claw off hand

Link---> Talent Calculator - World of Warcraft (http://www.wowhead.com/?talent#j0vZhxe0A0I0c0fuzAo0gh)


Multi target:

DnD-IT-PS-Pest, RS, HB, OB, OB



Single target:


01-19-2010, 08:49 PM
First Let me say thank you Satorri. You do a great job of explaining without belittleing anyone. EJ's could take a page from your book.

I'm lvling a DK and just chose to switch to Frost hoping to get Aoe aggro a bit more undercontroll. Not to worried about rotation ATM but I wonder if you have a thread based on mobs. I have a healer and a hunter and have mostly just followed along but now i would like to try a new tanking. I beleive there is a kill order but I cant find a place that lists the priority.
Is there a priority for aggro?
Is there such a list as to which mobs you grab first?

01-20-2010, 07:55 AM
There are too many mobs in the game to have an all-inclusive list, and people rarely write guides for trash in raids.

It's a good question though, and one not terribly appropriate to this thread.

Maybe I'll write something up in a thread of its own once I've given it some thought, but generally you'll want to learn each instance and get used to identifying who are the biggest risks/priorities for yourself, and once you've been a tank you can start to take notes from people who tank for you on what their priorities.

Usually it'll be something like this:
1.) Does it heal? Probably one of the first you'll want to kill unless you're totally confident you can keep it locked down indefinitely *and* you actually want to.

2.) Can it be tanked, can it be tanked indefinitely? In AN for example, Skirmishers will at a certain time length, pick a random target and lock on, becoming untauntable. You'll want to nuke them before they do so. This isn't common, but it can be an issue.

3.) Does it represent a particular damage risk to the tank or the group. Many casters can meet this. While not heals, the spike damage from their spells can be threatening on the tank, or maybe they AoE the group. Taking them down early on will save healer trouble. (Some casters are composites of 2 and 3, where they'll just cast at random targets in the group, usually for less damage, but you don't want them hanging around).

4.) What will die fastest? Sometimes the big bruiser may be more threatening, but the little guys with him can die really easily, and so it may be worth flashing them down first.

There's no substitute for experience, and a little smart thinking. =)

01-20-2010, 08:06 AM
Kuzadrepa, that would be more appropriate to a HALP thread of its own, but at a glance, I'd recommend dropping Morbidity for finishing Bladed Armor and a couple points in SoB, CotG, or even Deathchill.

Unless you're chain casting DnD, Morbidity should be wasted on a Frost DK.

Those point shifts shouldn't make a world of difference on threat though, only a small step up. Generally, the answer will not be in rotation but on working harder to keep all the targets up.

Once you get diseases around on a group pull, HB and BB are your hot threat items. If HB is on cooldown, OB will be your go-to to hope for Rime procs and combined with target switching, your OB, melee, and RS threat can shore up any targets who've gotten hit less.

RS is on-next-swing, so I would assume you're just using it constantly, it shouldn't appear as in-rotation.

None of this will necessarily make you a god that can out-threat certain classes in much higher level gear. If you're doing LFD runs and you get a very well-geared Lock, Hunter, Mage, Arms Warrior, or most other classes when not careful, they'll pull threat and there's not a whole lot you can do other than taunt and death grip people back in.

01-20-2010, 11:14 PM
Thank you.

01-21-2010, 09:49 AM
Thank you Satorri, for this excellent guide. My Frost DK is my first actual tanking character and I absolutely hated playing it until I read your guide. I do have one question though. I prefer DW Frost tanking with glyphed HB, but my off-spec is a 2hand Frost tank. In your opinion, is it worth it to spec into Imp Icy Talons at the cost of other talents (such as Deathchill)? I noticed in the guide you forgo it in favor of DC but that melee haste buff just seems too tempting (I run with a lot of melee and no shammy). Thanks again!

01-21-2010, 12:48 PM
Thanks for this awesome guid Satorri.

I notice one mistake today, mistake that I did too until today. In the 11th post (http://www.tankspot.com/forums/f14/59900-comprehensive-guide-death-knight-tanking.html#post337869), you show the benefits of several buffs on stamina.

[...]along with Blessing of Kings/Sanctuary and Improved Gift of the Wild.

For example, if a Blood Tank with 3/3 in Vot3W (+3%), is in Frost Presence (+6%), using Rune of Stoneskin Gargoyle (+2%), and is buffed with Blessing of Kings (+10%) and Improved Gift of the Wild (+2%):
Total +% Stamina = (103%)(106%)(102%)(110%)(102%) = +24.95% Stamina

That means that 1 point of Stamina on gear will effectively be 1.25 points of Stamina for the Death Knight, or 12.5 health per point.I took a closer look at the Improved Mark of the Wild (http://www.wowhead.com/?spell=17051) and the +2% attributes. In fact, the +2% is only a passive part of the talent that is applied to the druid only. The +2% are not applied to the people buffed with Mark/Gift of the Wild.

So finally, +%stamina is "only" +22.5%

01-21-2010, 05:51 PM
Kagenote, the trick is that from the standpoint of self-buffing, Imp Icy talons is not worth the cost, *if* you have the melee haste buff provided (Frost DK or Shaman in raid dropping Windfury). If you have another source of this melee haste it does not stack, and so it is 6 talent points for 5% haste.

Usually, the other concerns is that there are so many talents worth putting points into that you generally are happy to cut this one out. That said, 2-hand Frost is the one spec where it's not terribly hard to take (dual wield has 6 more points elsewhere that are very valuable only if you're dual wielding).

If you happen to be running with a group that doesn't have the buff provided, it may well be worth your points, and it will certainly help your raid dps if you have melee dps.

Milowen, this is a misconception I picked up on some time back, though apparently I forgot to fix it in my text. Thank you. =)

01-21-2010, 07:47 PM
I have to concurr that, if you are taking a 2h frost spec anyhow, picking up Imp Icy Talons is far from stretching things. OFC that is assuming your raid doesn't already have the buff.

Talent Calculator - World of Warcraft (http://www.wowhead.com/?talent#j0EbZhxxxA0Izc0buzAo0g:adkMmV)

Above is the spec I used a few weeks in 10man (mostly melee stack) when our enhance shaman was out sick. Swap the frost strike glyph out for the unbreakable armor glyph unless you're armor capping with it.

01-22-2010, 12:41 AM
Im starting to use Unholy to tank heroics. Mainly because so many people hate unholy and say it is horrible. I do fairly well and I have only been using it for 2 days.

01-24-2010, 07:17 AM
Sweet, Swam. I always enjoyed it and did quite well with it, provided I didn't mind the heavy maintenance of abilities. =)

In fact, something funny just occured to me. There is a disparity. Currently, Unholy is *the* go-to dps spec for the min/max raiders. In theory that should translate into Unholy tanks potentially having superior threat. So I find it curious that people keep *trying* to report that Unholy dps is the weakest right now.

I mean, Unholy Tanking and DPS are not the same thing and will use slightly different sets of talents, and will have different gear values, *but* there doesn't seem to be any good reason I can imagine why it would be low threat compared to other tanks. Perhaps only because it has the least RS buffing (Blood gets increased physical damage and armor ignore, Frost gets dual wield two weapon RS and more opportunity to use it for fast swings)?

01-24-2010, 03:29 PM
Im starting to use Unholy to tank heroics. Mainly because so many people hate unholy and say it is horrible. I do fairly well and I have only been using it for 2 days.I've also been using UH as my heroic tanking spec, glyphing and talenting for heavy disease and D&D damage it it is pretty darn awesome for getting mobs to hug me. Add that Ebon Plague makes AoEing down packs faster I think it is a great 5man tanking build. I've yet to try it in a raid situation, mainly because I've geared for stamina too accompany my main spec: blood. If I was to go UH for raid tanking I'd try to throw in more avoidance to help with Bone Armor up time, it's something I look forward to doing.

Anyway, just wanted to say thanks for the guide, very well done.

01-25-2010, 02:41 AM
Sweet, Swam. I always enjoyed it and did quite well with it, provided I didn't mind the heavy maintenance of abilities. =)

In fact, something funny just occured to me. There is a disparity. Currently, Unholy is *the* go-to dps spec for the min/max raiders. In theory that should translate into Unholy tanks potentially having superior threat. So I find it curious that people keep *trying* to report that Unholy dps is the weakest right now.

I mean, Unholy Tanking and DPS are not the same thing and will use slightly different sets of talents, and will have different gear values, *but* there doesn't seem to be any good reason I can imagine why it would be low threat compared to other tanks. Perhaps only because it has the least RS buffing (Blood gets increased physical damage and armor ignore, Frost gets dual wield two weapon RS and more opportunity to use it for fast swings)?

You make it sound as though there is some kind of conspiracy against unholy tanking among our populace. Nobody is trying to make unholy out to be worse than it is. It just is a few percent short (perhaps more since the hotfix that ruined necrosis applying to rune-strike) of blood and frost for TPS. Honestly, per my own testing threat was a much much smaller issue than bone-shield up-time and lack of meaningful uses for amz in ICC.

01-25-2010, 07:00 AM
Are you sure than Rune Tap generating aggro ? If it's the case whith the glyph you could have a large amount of aggro with one clic(put the 2 tank in the same group...)? the healing aggro is on the effective heal or just on the amount even it goes to overheal?

01-25-2010, 07:57 AM
Bambou, the threat generated from Rune Tap is standard healing threat. What that means is where 1 dmg = 1 threat normally, 2 heal = 1 threat. It is also split across all the targets you are in combat with. It will also get the multiplier to its threat from Frost Presence. As you ask, it is *only* effective healing that generates threat, *not* overhealing.

That means, however, if you are tanking a single target, and your Rune Tap heals for 9k without overhealing, it would be roughly equivalent to hitting the boss with a 4.5k dmg strike. So, in that regard it is definitely a valuable threat item in certain situations, and provided it isn't wasted on all over-healing it will not be bad for your threat to use it well.

Prolet, I don't mean to suggest that there is some conspiracy (suggesting intelligence being behind it =D). I simply mean to point out that there is an odd divergence. 99% of the reports of the efficacy of Unholy come from people who have not played it. It is from simulators. Simulators are great fun, but I'm highly reluctant to trust their output for the many assumptions that are required when applying it to DK game play.

The rune system is simply a little too interactive with personal attention/reflexes, and patience to be simply modeled by a space filling, ideal execution simulator. The same was said of Unholy before 3.3 but when I tested Unholy then I was able to generate more threat with Unholy than I usually averaged with Blood or Frost at the time. There have been changes and they haven't been terribly favorable, but I do feel like too many people cite non-real references to support the claims of what spec A or B is capable of. Something of a mis-use of theorycrafting.

01-25-2010, 05:26 PM
Ty :)
Just to be sure to understand, if I use glyph of rune tap, it could bring me(without activated vampiric blood): tank (me) 45K : 10K/2 , tank 2 45K : 4.5/2, dps (X3) 18K : 1800/2 *3
So without overhealing (its almost time impossible but let's dream) : 5000 + 2250 + 2700 so approxim. 10k aggro with one clic ! And it's the case when I'm not under frost Presence (with it it seems to be 20k aggro)

01-25-2010, 06:16 PM
It's pretty simple really. 2 large contributors to Unholy DPS are pets, which don't effect TPS. It has multiple abilities that scale with critical strike, which is impossible to reach large values of as a tank. It has no buffers for RS beyond RoR, which is inferior to what Blood and Frost provide. Beyond the TPS concerns (which are really small in this day and age of button mash tanking and ToT/MD) the bigger issue is simply that Unholy provides the worst mitigation. Bones are inferior to VB for 99% of fights, UA/GoG for 85% of fights, and you likely will be doubling up on one of the raid buffers with the prevalence of Unholy DK DPS. It's rehashed over and over at this point, but it's unavoidable that the sum of parts for Unholy tanks is quite low.

01-25-2010, 11:51 PM
Prolet, I don't mean to suggest that there is some conspiracy (suggesting intelligence being behind it =D). I simply mean to point out that there is an odd divergence. 99% of the reports of the efficacy of Unholy come from people who have not played it. It is from simulators. Simulators are great fun, but I'm highly reluctant to trust their output for the many assumptions that are required when applying it to DK game play.

The rune system is simply a little too interactive with personal attention/reflexes, and patience to be simply modeled by a space filling, ideal execution simulator. The same was said of Unholy before 3.3 but when I tested Unholy then I was able to generate more threat with Unholy than I usually averaged with Blood or Frost at the time. There have been changes and they haven't been terribly favorable, but I do feel like too many people cite non-real references to support the claims of what spec A or B is capable of. Something of a mis-use of theorycrafting.

I can assure you the theorycrafting has been tested in-game and proven that anywhere from 5-10% (again, no testing since the necrosis change) threat will be lost if you swap to unholy from standard blood (I can only assume this means much lower than dw frost). I've seen the results myself in raid. While I certainly concurr with you that unholy isn't broken due to threat issues (I point that finger at nerfed avoidance and the oddities of bone-shield charges we now see) and it can do all the threat you need for most situations, you're going to rely more heavily on mis-direct mechanics and you may find yourself with issues on threat-sensetive encounters that the other two specs would laugh at.

01-26-2010, 01:49 AM
The issue is more in that Unholy DPS DKs are still ahead of the meanline damage curve, so I wouldn't expect buffs to our damage output (and hence threat output). Unless they allow Wandering Plague to work from Crit + Defense above default or something which makes it scale very nicely for Tanks ,I don't think the two extremes of DPS Unholy and Tank Unholy will be balanced out.

In other words: Let's better not expect help from Blizzard - TPS buffs to us would usually come down to a damage buff for the DPS specs, and they won't do that.

01-26-2010, 07:21 AM
It's pretty simple really. 2 large contributors to Unholy DPS are pets, which don't effect TPS.

Mmm that's a good point, I hadn't thought about their contribution, that would be generous even without considering the scaling of crit on Wandering Plague.

I would love to see some adjustments to make Unholy a bit more appealing in ICC, but I'm not holding my breath, I know it's hardly worth the developer time.

(also, going through to fix my internal links in the guide now for the new forums. If anyone has external links to this guide you may need to fix/update it).

01-26-2010, 07:29 AM
Also, it's worth noting that at this point, Necrosis doesn't work with Rune Strike anymore (which was the one possible RS buffer it easily had max points in).

01-26-2010, 07:36 AM
Mmm that's a good point, I hadn't thought about their contribution, that would be generous even without considering the scaling of crit on Wandering Plague.

I would love to see some adjustments to make Unholy a bit more appealing in ICC, but I'm not holding my breath, I know it's hardly worth the developer time.

(also, going through to fix my internal links in the guide now for the new forums. If anyone has external links to this guide you may need to fix/update it).

On the flipside though, I think people generally forget the extra tanking cooldown you get with a 3 point investment... a 20+K heal on a single global with a permanent pet. Not too shabby! It's also easy to get Rune Tap too with an Unholy tanking spec, and if threat isn't an issue you can use a 3 disease DS...

01-26-2010, 07:38 AM
After trying many specs, I have not found any with a higher single target DPS than my standard blood build. Please note, that I am talking single target DPS...not threat...not AOE.

In a standard tank oriented build, blood is king as far as I have tested. Now I may not be correct, but if I am not, I would like someone to post an exact spec and rotation which can beat it.

Typically in blood build, I will take 3/3 spell deflection, and probably 3/3 improved icy touch. I will probably not use Will of the Necropolis or Rune Tap, as I personally don't seem to get much use out of either.

If I really want to up my DPS, I will drop both of those, and go to a 5/5 Necrosis build.

Keep in mind I will always have the 5/5/5 trinity, plus Vampiric Blood.

Survival oriented - http://www.wowhead.com/?talent#jcErVhhIcb0fosxhxZ0gb

DPS oriented - http://www.wowhead.com/?talent#jcErVh0Icb0fosx0xZ0gh0x

Rotation is IT-PS-HS-HS-DS-DC-DC or HoW- DS-HS-HS-HS-HS

My challenge is for someone to find a tanking spec and rotation that will exceed the DPS output of my builds against a single target. I will verify both and have equal gear i can use for 2H or DW builds.

01-26-2010, 07:42 AM
Also, it's worth noting that at this point, Necrosis doesn't work with Rune Strike anymore (which was the one possible RS buffer it easily had max points in).

When did this change happen? I am not doubting you, but I guess I missed that in the patch notes.

01-26-2010, 07:57 AM
Necrosis not affecting RS was caught in the hotfix that adjusted PPM effects.

Generally I am assuming it was an unintended glitch and will be fixed in the future (since that was a pivotal value in that talent for tanks who otherwise get less and less value as their gear improves and RS replaces more regular swings).

01-26-2010, 08:05 AM
I originally thought it was unintended, but I'm reading elsewhere that threads reporting this on the official forums are getting deleted without developer comment. I fear it may be intended (or at least something they won't fix).

01-26-2010, 08:48 AM
Threads don't get deleted to avoid attention on a subject, they get deleted when they're repetitious or have been answered elsewhere. If I had to guess I'd wager it is a known bug that is on the list and doesn't need repeating, but hey, I could be wrong, maybe they want to devalue the talent a bit for tanks (incidentally that will pretty easily make Sudden Doom my preference for Blood tanks =D).

I've now updated the FAQ and rehashed an old calculation I did comparing the relative values of the tree-specific cooldowns.

01-26-2010, 09:04 AM
Hi Satorri,

Long time reader and huge appreciator of your very detailed guide to the DK. I do have a question though and I hope you can explain things to me a bit better. After reading your guide and playing around in ICC a bit, I decided to try Unholy for my spec. I chose to go with the "DC Hammer" style because you mentioned the "stacking" component to DC. I figured.. a DoT that's easily maintained should produce decent threat. However, I found that UB didn't do a whole lot for me in the end and it really wasn't worth having. After running several tests and spamming DC on my targets, I didn't notice any "stacking" damage effects of keeping it applied within the 10 second window. UB itself produced very low output thus very low threat. So, I wanted to post on here and ask you if I'm missing something or if I'm not understanding what you're referring to when you say it "stacks". Could you explain that a bit more clearly for our benefit? Thanks in advance.

01-27-2010, 07:34 AM
Ok, so the way UB stacks is not purely additive, from all inspection. In other words, it is designed such that the value scales with the value of your Death Coil, but it's made to not go terribly beyond it.

The way it stacks enables it to simply not waste value. If you use your Death Coil to refresh the effect, UB takes the remaining damage from the existing DoT and adds it to the total damage of the new application, then redistributes the ticks. What this means is UB should remain a static value relative to how well you use DC. I've gotten upwards of 6-7% of my total damage, but that comes with an asterisk.

UB was nerfed in 3.3 just after I wrote this portion of the guide and the proportion was cut down. That will reduce the value. The thing to bear in mind here is that this move is not a power move, it is not your main threat tool, but it is a competitive tool for that 1 point spent. I am going to add a note to that effect on the main guide.

It also has a strategic value for tanks that extends beyond the overall value. In short, as tanks, we are not just interested in overall output, but in the needed application of threat at a given time. Consider this, if you are stacking the ability that stacks once per second from the start of the fight (which I don't find easy requiring you to reapply once every 10 sec), in the beginning it will start at ~60 tps, but if you continue to stack it you can push upwards of 1-2k tps just from this ability, fight mechanics willing. The problem is that is not easy. It often requires spell damage components and smart use of AMS, along with heavily RP generation to get that compulsive stacking. Note that reaching that size tick does not increase the overall contribution of the ability, but in localized threat it raises your baseline noticeably. Ultimately this value depends on you getting the tick off the ground and everytime it drops you start over.

In ICC Unholy is a bit trickier than ToC where I did a lot of my research on that particular method. Particularly, there are fewer unavoidable or minimally avoidable magic damage effects, but you can find them if you look. Coldflame on Marrowgar, DnD on Deathwhisper (requires a LOT of running around if you really want to use it, most of the rest is too random to be reliable), and you don't see much of any magic damage from there until you get to the Plague Wing.

01-28-2010, 08:57 AM
Thanks for replying to my question. I now see what you're talking about with UB. I tried this out in ICC and while I had enough RP to burn DC quite a bit, I just wasn't seeing the potential. I didn't intend to sound like I was using it as a main threat tool because, frankly, compared to everything else we have, DC is the lowest priority (imo) for threat. I was under the wrong assumption as to what you meant when I tried it, and I thank you for clarifying that information.

01-28-2010, 09:13 AM
Satorri - thank you for an extremely detailed and interesting thread :)

Looking for some assistance from you or other frost tanks.

I'm going to preface this by saying that my main is an Elemental Shaman. I rolled the Dk to tank in order to do something completely different from what I'm used to doing. So far, i've been loving it. I am a 2h frost tank, that uses a single disease rotation on AoE pulls. I've only been tanking for about 3 weeks now, mostly in heroics (1 Ulduar weekly OT position - woot!). Here is the thing, when I am in heroics I find myself constantly being second guessed by others in my party who criticize me non-stop for not using DnD in my AoE rotation - I'd say 75% of those that do criticize go on to say that they've got a blood/unholy dk tank themselves. I've tried to explain that with a single disease rotation (glyphed HB) that it is not necessary and so far i've almost always been able to hold threat on all pulls (even with an ICC geared mage from my guild running with me). The only time I've had issues is when running with a ICC geared hunter who would start AoE'ing right after my initial HB...

I feel my rotation on AoE pulls is fairly typical, and was built on my research in several tanking threads - HB-BB-BB-(BT if up and another BB)-OB-FS dump (unless OB procs KM in which case I use DC until HB is up).

My gear is ok I believe (WoWArmory Link (http://www.wowarmory.com/character-sheet.xml?r=Zul%27jin&cn=Saleesha&gn=Apparition)), and as I've stated, I've only ever had aggro issues that one time with the geared out hunter. But the criticisms are starting to make me second guess the single disease rotation, and I've been scouring tankspot, EJ, anywhere to read about the single disease vs dual disease DnD. I know I read in this thread that my weapon may be lacking a bit, as it is only 219 and that a 232 is really the best for single disease (Mourning Malice (http://www.wowhead.com/?item=49839)). I really don't have the experience or expertise in DK tanking to know if these people are just uninformed in terms of frost single disease, or if I am indeed really doing something wrong... as it is, I've pulled myself from tanking for the time being while I do more research (to much chiding from the guild mage who misses their instant queues :P)

01-28-2010, 11:05 AM
Stand by your convictions. The game is full of people who will want to tell you how to play without actually understanding how it works.

DnD in 5-mans makes it *feel* safer as it guarantees coverage on things, but if you're using a single disease method you shouldn't even see that. And what's more you should have much better snap threat, albeit some vulnerabilities if you're against folk who outgear you and put in a big burst of threat while you're stuck on cooldowns. That's when you'll need to use your tricks to rein them in, taunt, death grip, Blood Tap, etc.

01-28-2010, 01:01 PM
I have run into this situation as well. I have even directed certain especially vocal people to Satorri's guide if they were really interested in knowing more about my priorities/rotations. Unfortunately, things sometimes degenerate from there and I have to remind them that if I wanted some jerk to tell me how to play my class, I'd be over on the official forums.

01-28-2010, 05:28 PM
Thanks Satorri - will do :)

And great suggestion Kagenote. I will indeed direct them to this post should I come across it again.

01-29-2010, 01:37 AM
Tanking Stats and Weapon Runes
If the Dodge% is more than 1.85 times the size of the Parry%, then Parry rating will give you more avoidance. The equations are:


If: (Diminishable Dodge) x 1.85 > (Diminishable Parry)
Then: Parry rating will give more avoidance point for point
Otherwise: Dodge rating will give more avoidance point for point

First of all, great post! I just hit 80 on my DK about three days ago and have been using your post to get started tanking, and it's been really helpful.

One thing I noticed though was your equation, shouldn't it be
( If: (Diminishable Dodge) > (Diminishable Parry) x 1.85 ) since dodge has the higher cap?

01-29-2010, 04:11 AM
About the AE tanking with single-disease Frost, you can always opt for HB -> DnD in front of you -> BB if you know people outgear you badly.
This pairs best if your Frost spec is for 5mans only - say on an alt. Pick up Chillblains and glyph HB and you got an instant AE snare, so even if someone was to outaggro the mob can't leave the DnD fast enough and will get aggroed back onto you.

01-29-2010, 07:39 AM
Ha, good catch Yun! I didn't even notice I did that.

01-30-2010, 09:17 AM
2 errors on the Frost (might be because of recent changes):
* Rime is a 15% proc chance per button press. It is no longer linked to the amount of connects you do. (This would've been imba in DW ofc)
* ToT doesn't seem to act the way you work. First of all, I have seen plenty of MH fails while the OH still did damage. Surprisingly... I have yet to see one the other way around. It would seem to me as this works identicly to the above Rime mechanic, where every use simply has a 100% proc chance to proc the OH swing. This is also in line with the latest PPM changes, KM being MH only and can ofc be easily tested by a lower level DK on the heroic training dummy.

02-01-2010, 06:44 AM
Can you back that up with some hard info Wartotem?

I expected them to do something about the Rime proc sooner or later (it definitely was working the way I described it but I haven't had my frost spec for a couple weeks now, and I didn't use it for a week or so before that).

Specific proof would be:
For Rime a tracker of some sort that can show the proportion of Rime-HB to OB hits. If you do a test only using HB on Rime procs that should do just fine.

For ToT that should be easy, if you can link any of the strikes with an odd number of connects (i.e. miss+dodge+parry = odd number).

02-02-2010, 05:52 AM
I'm not on much this week, but I'll see if I can't do some naked tests on the heroic dummy. The Rime thing is in the tooltip though, although I can't recall when it was changed, as I don't remember there ever being patch notes about that.

02-02-2010, 07:05 AM
It doesn't say specifically that it can only proc once per cast. It was what I was figuring was an oversight that it actually proc'd way more than it should if you believe it is supposed to be once per cast.

It may have been fixed, or the real culprit may have been or may still be something not keyed to the number of hits, but it is pretty clear when you go from a 2-hander to dual wielding that you *got* more procs.

02-04-2010, 05:58 AM
I just wanted to say thanks for a great guide. I have a DK tank (alt) myself, and i have forced my DKs to check this through. Very usefull indeed :)

ps. the only fault i could find is that you say that rune of the fallen crusader is only avaliable for 2-handers, but thats not true ;)

02-04-2010, 06:47 AM
Heh, fail in writing, not sure why that was in there, especially seeing as how it was never the case and I've used it regularly on my 1-handed weapons...

02-04-2010, 07:04 PM
Test done so far:
* 15 minutes of naked heroic dummy bashing, no ToT OH hits have missed/parried/dodged on nothing but OB & BS spam. When the MH did not connect the Rune(s) were refunded, which basicly reduces the hit/expertise values :)
* Had 2 reports of the MH on Obliterate miss, but granting Freezing Fog anyway. I will test with MH only later this weekend if I can to see if it is possible to proc Rime on a not-connect.
* Either I get EXTREMELY lucky, or Rime buff seems to refresh on any Obliterate you cast. (Similar to Blade Barrier)

02-05-2010, 07:33 PM
* Either I get EXTREMELY lucky, or Rime buff seems to refresh on any Obliterate you cast. (Similar to Blade Barrier)
You were extremely lucky. Rime does not refresh with every obliterate.

02-07-2010, 10:46 PM
Ok, LOVE your guide, currently trying to get my DW Frost tank geared up and was having fun pre-80 with it cant wait to start up again. One question though, expertise you say a soft cap of 26 is advisable, so would I be correct in aiming for a 13/13 since I dw or a 26/26? Sorry if this seems kinda stupid but been playing caster classes most of my time and am digging melee and tanking and want to make sure I get it right.

Thanks for your time

02-08-2010, 06:56 AM
The character page splits so you know what the expertise is for each weapon to allow for different weapon types interacting with racials. You still want to reach 26 effectively which would be 26/26 or something close to that.

13/13 would be the same as a 2-hander with 13 expertise. Does that make sense?

02-08-2010, 07:47 AM
Ahh ok, so just to type it so I understand it well, its as I was just using 1 1h or a 2h. I think I can deal now lol, have geared up a Warlock and a Priest and my first melee past the 40's so some of the ideas are foreign to me. But I am having a blast tanking(well in normal I am, Heroic I am not gonna try and embarass myself being undergeared right now).

02-08-2010, 03:25 PM
Hey guys,
Just a quick note..saw this blue posting in the tank forum on WoW..nice little buff coming to DK tanks if it makes it to live...

Death Knight:

Frost Presence now provides 8% Stamina, up from 6% Stamina.
Icebound Fortitude now provides 30% base damage reduction, up from 20% damage reduction. For a geared tank with high defense, this translates to 50% damage reduction, up from 40%.


02-08-2010, 04:15 PM
It's already live I'm pretty sure. The Paladin nerf is.

02-09-2010, 07:40 AM
I believe the change is live but I'm going to wait on updating my numbers until they fix the tooltips.

I'm pretty psyched though, by my math right now IBF is giving me over 60% damage reduction, pretty serious value. And I can't complain about getting some health back. =)

02-10-2010, 12:35 PM
For the grant Hysteria macro, I want to suggest some changes I made too it.

#showtooltip Hysteria
/cast [target=CharacterName] Hysteria
/w CharacterName You have Hysteria, smoosh eet!!
/raid CharacterName has Hysteria, he could use a HoT!I modified it to use a simpler system so you don't have to have a different macro for everyone you could cast it on

#showtooltip Hysteria
/cast [target=exists,help,nodead] Hysteria
/stopmacro [noexists][harm][dead]
/script SendChatMessage("You have Hysteria","WHISPER",nil,UnitName("target"))
/raid %t has Hysteria, he could use a HoT
This macro has added features from the original! But there are some trade offs. For starters it can be cast on any unit that can be targeted, is friendly, and is not dead. It will termanite itself if the target doesn't meet these parameters (I.E. The target isn't friendly, you don't have a target, or the target is dead). It will then whisper the player the good new, AND send a tell to raid chat.

The trade off? You actually have to target the unit in question, while a line can be added, so that character actually gets targeted it makes it less work to change characters.

#showtooltip Hysteria
/cast [target=exists,help,nodead,"CHARACTERNAMEHERE"] Hysteria
/stopmacro [noexists][harm][dead]
/script SendChatMessage("You have Hysteria","WHISPER",nil,UnitName("target"))
/raid %t has Hysteria, he could use a HoT
Modifications of the message can be made, but since I'm using Lua to send the whisper you need to keep modifications under 48 characters (counting unit name, if you so choose to include it).

Just throwing it out there for consideration.

02-11-2010, 06:31 AM
The trade off? You actually have to target the unit in question, while a line can be added, so that character actually gets targeted it makes it less work to change characters.

And that would be a helpful macro, I'm sure people would appreciate the semi-automated version of the standard use. Also very good for pugs. My design was specifically to *avoid* having to target the person, and it was/is intended for fixed or anticipated raid groups. At least it is very easy to copy the macro at the beginning of the raid and put in the name of the person you want to favor.

Not requiring targeting is what makes this very very easy to use while tanking as I don't have to stop what I'm doing even for a moment.

02-11-2010, 02:46 PM
Hello, Satorri.

First of all I would say that this is the best guide I've ever read. Ever. It's a first time I completely agree with writer in every aspect :)

But there's one thing that I would like to discuss a bit: AOE tanking of incoming adds.

Basically preconditions are: I don't need to tank a hard-hitting boss. I have to tank a lot of incomming adds like 4+, and they come relatively frequently and my goal to keep them all on me. So agro is a main concern.

So my question is - what would be the best spec in this case. I guess frost and unholy would be nice.

Personally I want to try DW frost for this case. But one thing confuses me a bit: I have 2T10, so I have bonus for DnD. Coupled with glyph + Morbidity DnD can be really helpfull for AOE tanking in my case. But in your guide I can see that you do not advise to use DnD in frost.

Can you give me some comments?

Just for info: I have pretty good gear from ICC25. In blood I have 47.3khp unbuffed at the moment with 60.89% avoidance and 1800 strength.

And if this topic already was discussed somewhere on the forum - can you please give me the link?

Again. My major goal is to find the best way of tanking multiple incoming adds.

02-11-2010, 04:41 PM
DnD is fine for Frost, assuming you're not using it multiple times on a single pull. "Not recommended" does not mean "Never use it. I swear to god, if you touch that DnD button I'll crawl through your monitor and pluck your eyebrows until your toilet begs me to stop". It's great to use when gearing up for pulling groups when you've got overgeared/stupid dps to contend with, though it's still not really worth it to buff up. As an example, a guildie recently switched to tanking on his DK and refused to use DnD at all, citing that the guide, meaning this one, said that it wasn't recommended. His spec was fine, his glyphs were fine, even his gear was more than adequate for heroics. After spending half of OK being ribbed at for constantly losing aggro, even with the dps holding back, he starts using DnD on group pulls. The difference was night and day. Granted, dps still had to watch it, but it still took more than a single KM'ed HB to pull threat.

Which brings me to why I was initially posting. Satorri, if you would, could you put a note in the DnD for Frost section saying that it's okay to use? While the rune cooldown thing is a big downside, I'd say a fair few people looking at the guide will be in the process of gearing up initially and they can use all the threat they can get, especially since they're likely to also be using fast tank weapons for the extra stats.

02-11-2010, 05:58 PM
If that means I should cast DnD once while pulling a pack of mobs then I don't see any reason to have DnD glyphed. Also in this case there is no reason to take Morbidity in talents.

No. My concern is: does it make sense to have DnD in rotation as a Frost DW tank?

It would be awesome to add to this guide a detailed analysis about AOE tanking of multiple mobs (3-4+). I'm sure many DK tanks will appreciate such information a lot :)

02-12-2010, 02:58 AM
I think in the guide Satori mentions that rotations can/ need to change depending on the situation you see in front of you. If the situation calls for a DnD, by all means go for it. If, like me in the beginning of my DK tanking career, you notice you can't hold aggro even against the weakest DPS, or healer, in your group, then you need to add DnD to your rotation.

When (raid) tanking in frost talented spec, I expect Howling Blast followed by Blood boil to do enough initial damage to glue mobs to me, and I very rarely use DnD.

02-12-2010, 06:45 AM
Ok. Can I ask another question: which spec will have highest DPS numbers from DnD with 2T10 bonus (+a glyph as an option). I guess it will be unholy, but will there be a big difference comparing to blood with all threat talents taken?

02-12-2010, 07:20 AM
I would actually recommend Frost for the situation you're describing, though Unholy would be a strong second especially with the 2 pc t10 bonus (Unholy with glyphed and set bonused DnD? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha).

The perk of Frost here is the nature of repeatedly available HB which is great burst aoe threat for pick-ups. Like Daft said just above this it's not a bad idea to use DnD, it's just a tricky hand off. Specifically, using DnD keeps you from your other tools and messes with your tree functionalities. It's not bad to use, I just wouldn't generally glyph it, or put points in Morbidity.

The value is simply this: DnD is small steady threat that can be setup to tick passively while you do whatever else you do. This can be very important in certain situations and what you're describing could be one of them. If you have regular pulses of adds coming from a set location you can pre-emptively set DnD smartly to get their attention and start applying threat to everything. If you have glyphed HB you can back that up with a quick splash that will do a big burst of threat *and* apply FF so your DnD and future abilities also do their best threat. If you add a BB with your final Blood rune you have the math for some silly strong AoE threat.

Some people take that and say, "if I'm using DnD I MUST take Morbidity." I am generally not a fan though, partly because Frost is strapped for points to get many of the delicious talents, and because half the talent is wasted as you will rarely use DC, but also because if you are using DnD on CD every 15 sec you are impairing your Frost-style goodness so much that you might as well spec Unholy and you will probably see as much or more AoE value.

So in general for these situations I'd recommend using DnD early but not often. Get comfortable using HB to be the backbone of your AoE attention, and use DnD to cover your holes where you need it.

Here is some extensive math I did on a similar question, though it was targeted a bit more at "can I use DnD as my best move on single targets."

02-12-2010, 08:52 AM
Thank you SO much for this.
I turned my oft-forgot 80 dps DK into a 2h frost tank for quicker badges, and found its harder than it looks. I'm a protection warrior 99% of the time, so the idea of having to run off of runes was a little scary to me!
This is the BEST death knight tanking guide anywhere on the net. Period. It answered ALL of my newbie DK questions, and cleared up a lot more, too. Thank you so much for taking the immense amount of time to write this up for us in such a clear, concise way!
I'm not at the point where I can even tank heroics yet, but I feel more confident now that I have an idea of what to do :)

Thanks again!

02-12-2010, 10:48 AM
Thank you for clarification, Satorri. Can you give a suggestion about talents? I understand, that people play styles differ a lot, but how YOU would distribute talents in my case? And what spec would you use? 2h frost? DW slow-slow frost?

02-12-2010, 11:55 AM
Honestly? I wouldn't spec for specific circumstances. I think your first priority is to figure out which spec you enjoy most then learn how to use it in every situation you need. With dual specs if you are a chronic tank, you can even take your top two.

Ultimately you can make any of them work for anything you need, the defining issue is experience and practice. From the sound of it you really enjoy Frost. If you want the most reliable form, personally I'd recommend a dual wield spec with a collection of options. If you collect fast tank weapons, slow dps weapons, and stock up on glyphs you can adjust your method slightly as needed. If you want peak single target killing you can do slow/slow with glyphed OB, FS, and RS, and a double disease method. If you want versatile AoE tanking you can do slow/fast or fast/fast with glyphed OB/RS, FS, and HB and a single disease design to abuse AoE spam.

That's all terribly personal though, I value personal enjoyment over min/max output on a class-wide scale.

02-12-2010, 12:32 PM
Hahaha :) Thanks for comment, Satorri. But in this case I will stay blood :) I do enjoy blood a lot more than frost and normally I tank most number of encounters in blood.

02-12-2010, 03:58 PM
Alright, keep rereading and am think I am close to starting to tank again in the heroics this time. Was wondering if I could have someone with some Frost DW experience take a look at my profile and give me some pointers. http://www.wowarmory.com/character-sheet.xml?r=Kargath&cn=Faerosia

Now I have the T9 tank pants in my bags, working on the T9 chest and the 245 vendor tank helm right now. As for the other pieces that need upgrades I have the Amulet and Ring from the chest in H HoR, Trinket and Wrist from H PoS and the Boots and another Nighttime from H FoS planned out. Belt I might go for the crafter Belt of the Titans if it aint too much or might just end up with the 219 from the normal PoS. Spec is a little out of whack as well gotta redo it to match http://www.wowarmory.com/talent-calc.xml?cid=6&tal=0055200000000000000000000000305053003520330003 002331013510050000000000000000000000000000

Question I have is once I get all that on, how do I hit the expertise soft cap of 26? I know some gems will help but trying to get it right.

Apologizing for the wall o' text ahead of time.

02-13-2010, 06:20 AM
When you're gearing up there is only so much you can do Salmonman. You kind of have to take what you can get and adjust with gems here and there to what you feel is important.

Once you have a proper set of gear to tank with whether it is ideally balanced or not it will at least have the necessary components for you to be tanking. You can then headhunt raids and instances to patch and swap pieces while tanking.

02-15-2010, 10:20 AM
I'm sorry, I know this is a newbie question. However, at the start of a pull (as Frost spec), would I activate Unbreakable Armor/Icebound Fortitude? Or would I use it throughout and during the trash pulls and repeat after CDs, or are they simply intended as "Oh crap!" skills?

Thank you.

02-15-2010, 03:01 PM
UA is an awful "oh crap" skill. I would use it every time it is up, save IBF for the oh crap moments.

02-19-2010, 09:50 PM
Thanks Satorri, been focusing on that part too much I lost sight of my other stats. But am up to 29k health unbuffed in frost with still needing a belt, helm and trinkets. Loving frost DW just having trouble picking weapons lol.

Oh, and who else is excited for the 3.3.3 stuff? IT with very high threat, off hand dmg talent increased, just looks to be nice to be a DW Frost lately.

02-20-2010, 02:45 AM
A stunning read.... I have been tanking my Death knight for 8 or so months with degrees of success. I have read other very good informative guides , some on this very site...

This guide on my first read through has been both assuring to know I'm on the right lines and also a wealth of information as to where I could improve.
The urban myth sometimes appears to be "OMG DK TANK IN GROUP.. WE'RE DOOMED......" and that's why I want to be the best I can. I think there may have been a trend for a lot of DK's to all have a go at tanking but many have given up as it needs time/thought and a considered approach.

On a personal note I have tried to retain hit and expertise as I read from previous guides these are important..
I suppose no hittie NO threatie !!!!! and you can have bags on stam, truck loads of armour but if the targets are running around everywhere because you haven't or can't hit them....

I do suffer from a tendancy to loose track of cooldowns/runes and start hitting whatever is off CD.. but again.. a read of this guide.. and a re-read at some point will improve this no end..

Without wanting to sound too nooby I am a tiny bit confused about when to use procs and exactly what they are still..... but this has helped.

It seems to be working ok. I do about 1800-2k dps which I'm sure can be improved and generally hold threat . I always ask dps (especially aoe) to hold the carnage back a few secs so I can get it (threat) on.. so to speak..

I tank on a paladin also and have always found (again on a personal note) that the pala has been MUCH easier to tank with even with worse gear and worse stats..... the value of threat and hit was learned on the pala when I read up, geared up and tanked Violet Hold heroic with a new sword when I had a 1h sword skill of 227...... and wiped the group...... to the sound of boo's and jeering........ lol.... Thanks again for the informative read..


02-20-2010, 06:29 AM
Without wanting to sound too nooby I am a tiny bit confused about when to use procs and exactly what they are still..... but this has helped.

I assume we're not speaking semantically (proc is our slang for special short-term buffs when they trigger, like Rime or Killing Machine). I do recommend Power Auras Classic, if you aren't shy about addons. The ability to create nice visible indicators of special effects like Rime and KM is very valuable to tightening your performance as Frost, I find them nigh-indispensable.

I tank on a paladin also and have always found (again on a personal note) that the pala has been MUCH easier to tank with even with worse gear and worse stats.....

I find tanking on my Paladin a bit simpler as well, at least from the fundamental standpoint. Added depth with Paladins comes in using your many many utilities, where as there is a higher element of depth in just doing your core duties as a DK. I do enjoy that about DK tanking though, it keeps things interesting, interactive. Tanking ICC on my Paladin I find it easier to zone out in certain places.

02-20-2010, 12:51 PM
UA is an awful "oh crap" skill. I would use it every time it is up, save IBF for the oh crap moments.

UBA is just fine against physical damage... or am I the only one who thinks that 5/30 equals 16 percent additional mitigation? Use 4 piece bonus blood tap to activate it and now it is a downright sick "oh crap" skill.

But really, the reason I logged in is... OMFG.. Threat multiplier on Icy Touch in 3.3.3.... and a cascade of Frost Buffs.. hooray Beer!!!

02-21-2010, 11:04 AM
This is just unbelievable cool DK Tank guide, thank you very much S. Maybe I just skimmed through it and missed it, but where are the rotations for each spec you recommend ? I am looking to try out both the Blood and Frost spec, but Blood seems more my liking with the self healing abilities and stuff like that. What spell rotation is best for a Blood Tank ? Thank you.

Ok after reading it closer it looks like for Blood Tank spec the rotation goes like this ? IT,PS, DS, then the runes which are HS, BB, PeS, but what about these (Runetap, Mark of Blood, Vamp Blood ) ?

Was just talking to my Guild about this great article and said I might try out Blood spec for my DK Tank, he said WTF, ever since 3.3 the Blood Tank's are the worst he said only allowing like 2 targets at most. He told me go Frost and nothing else. Opinions/

02-21-2010, 08:35 PM
Was just talking to my Guild about this great article and said I might try out Blood spec for my DK Tank, he said WTF, ever since 3.3 the Blood Tank's are the worst he said only allowing like 2 targets at most. He told me go Frost and nothing else. Opinions/

I think that that is a terrible misconception. Frost has an easier time pulling aggro on multiple targets (I say easier and not better because when carefully played blood will be able to provide a very good aoe threat) ,but it shouldnt be the only option. I think what it boils down to is what spec you prefer to play. Some specs are a bit more gear dependent then others, but when u get into Icc content your gear shouldnt exclude you from being able to tank as a blood, frost, or unholy spec.

[i think maybe when u start off tanking then you should probably go with a frost build, simply because when you are running heroics for gear it will give u an easier time gaining threat on the packs of mobs. Once you gear up a little bit more and learn how to use all of your abilities effectively, there shouldnt be any difficulty tanking many many many more mobs then just 2 targets in a blood spec x.x]

02-21-2010, 09:04 PM
Was just talking to my Guild about this great article and said I might try out Blood spec for my DK Tank, he said WTF, ever since 3.3 the Blood Tank's are the worst he said only allowing like 2 targets at most. He told me go Frost and nothing else. Opinions/

Every major progression guild uses Blood tanks. They are without a doubt the best for pure raid tanking. Your guild leader is poorly informed :(

02-21-2010, 11:13 PM
Thanks for the info. I am Frost spec Tank right now while I gather badges to gear up. So far just have 2 pcs of the Tier 9 gear, working to get all 5...and also some misc item level 200 Def gear. So I am still a fresh 80 newb/Tank. Can I switch to Blood spec Tank now this early ?

Or not until I have the full 5 pc Tier 9 set, only then switch to Blood Tank ? I always did enjoy Blood when I first created my DK in DPS role over a year ago, interested in how that tree Tanks, in 5man Heroics and the lower 80 Raids ? Can Blood still attract and hold aggro for a mid level geared 80 compared to Frost ? My guild mate said that Blood spec is a great Tank, but not to be used until I have Tier 10 and 264 item level gear.

What is the best rotation for Blood spec ? I am mainly going against groups, like 5man Heroics, and then single target for the bosses, so will use two sets of rotations right ?

What is your opinion of this Blood Tank spec;

02-22-2010, 06:47 AM
Was just talking to my Guild about this great article and said I might try out Blood spec for my DK Tank, he said WTF, ever since 3.3 the Blood Tank's are the worst he said only allowing like 2 targets at most. He told me go Frost and nothing else. Opinions/

Reaction? Your friend has no idea what he's talking about.

As for gear and new tanks, you can really tank with any of them at any point in your gearing. Blood can actually be quite nice for new tanks, *but* here's the general breakdown:

Blood = scales *very* nicely with gear, particularly health from your gear. Larger your health the stronger many of your Blood tools become.

Unholy = scales nicely with gear, particularly avoidance. As your avoidance improves you can see a decent margin of increase in value from Bone Shield (though not directly, the avoidance is the actual source of improved damage reduction, but longer uptimes on Bone Shield will result in your healers seeing you take much less damage overall when it absorbs most of the hits that do get through).

Frost = scales the weakest with gear. The passive mitigation means that regardless of your gear you are getting roughly the same value from the talent spec from top to bottom of your gear progression. It is not exactly static but it does mean that as your gear does more and more work your talents don't scale nearly as much as Blood's. This means that the static mitigation/avoidance can be *very* nice for a new tank who is light on gear contributions. This is anything but game-changing though.

At the end of the day, your best bet is to figure out which spec you enjoy the most and stick with it. The more practice and experience you get with your spec of choice will be a much bigger value than where you put a talent point or two.

For the spec you linked (<3 Grav), it is a survival-oriented build that sacrifices baseline threat from Subversion and Morbidity for the sake of WotN. Currently WotN is a nice value, but generally will only see the most use in progression raiding. With your gear you might find value in it if you do much in the ICC 5-mans or ToC (Gormok and Anub, generally), but it is not a major survival value overall. It's a nice clinche, when you see it proc you'll probably be happy it did.

I wouldn't recommend that spec for you though unless you're diving into the deep end of tanking.

*if* the WotN change goes through 3.3.3 (figure 1-2 months from now), it will shift its value up a bit as an overall survival tool, but as it stands I wouldn't put too much weight on that talent over the fairly formidable value of Subversion and Morbidity for threat.

02-22-2010, 08:01 AM
Thanks Sat :)

So for a newb DK Tank can I switch to Blood spec now, or still better until I have my full Tier 9 set later this week ? I will use your talent tree listed on page 1 of this thread for the Blood Tank, now what is the best rotation to use ? For now I am main tanking 5man heroics, no raids yet with this guy until he is in 100% 232 and higher gear.

So when I see a mob in front of me in a 5amn dungeon to do I always start off with DnD, then bring then IT, PS, HS, HS, DS, BT ? I am confused on how to do the Blood rotation. Also which spells are the big AoE ones to use with mobs ?

Or use this for mobs; DnD - IT - PS - PEST - DC - BB - DC - DS - DS - PEST, and this for single targets IT - PS - HS - HS - OB - Dump(DC/RS) ??

02-22-2010, 08:33 AM
If Blood is what you want to do, better to start now and train with it as you improve your gear, that way when you feel comfortable stepping into raid tanking you won't be doing it with an unfamiliar spec.

For Blood, try not to think in terms of rotation, think in terms of priority.

Keep diseases up (Pest them to targets who don't have it)
DS on FU pairs that aren't needed for IT/PS
HS on free Blood/Death runes, unless you could really use the heal in which case DS is still a fine tool

RS on every availability. Only DC if your runes are on CD and you have more than 60 RP.

DnD is very nice for AoE groups, don't be shy about when you use it in 5-mans, though I would recommend not using it on bosses, instead set your diseases and hammer him with DS/HS.

BB is a worthwhile swap for HS if you are trying to support threat against 4+ targets against stuff like Volley, Hurricane, and Blizzard (i.e. where everything is taking uniform damage). On 3-4 or fewer targets you can do just as well by swapping targets with your HS cleaves to spread the love around where it's needed most. I highly recommend doing this just to practice sometimes as it is a valuable skill as a tank.

02-22-2010, 02:14 PM
I have started using a blood tank spec. I find myself with full rune power and the only way to dump it is death coil. Is this right, or should I be dumping it another way. Thanks...

edit: Ok I just realized I havent tried this on a raid boss yet, and the runic power will be consumed by rune strike, excuse my nubness.

02-22-2010, 02:58 PM
For the spec you linked (<3 Grav), it is a survival-oriented build that sacrifices baseline threat from Subversion and Morbidity for the sake of WotN.

I find questions like "how do you like this spec" lacking when they do not state the scenario or situation in which it would be used. Satorri's response is right.

In fact, in my post, I specifically describe the scenario that spec is designed for.
In Satorri's OP, he also talks specifically about designing your spec to your situation.

The classic analogy here is threat -vs- survival. You have to design a spec which sits somewhere on the continuum between those two, or finds a happy balance.

So, usually, asking "how do you rate this spec" without any context about the situation you will be tanking in, shows some premise that there is a 'one spec to rule them all', which is false.

All that said, I also maintain a view that for some people, you're better off picking a spec you enjoy (Satorri mentioned that on this page too). I've written (http://pwnwear.com/2010/02/09/enjoying-your-tanking/) about how Unholy isn't appropriate for most bosses in ICC, but that if you love it and you're happy, and your raid doesn't kick you, then go for it. :)

02-22-2010, 11:01 PM
I have been playing as Frost tank while I gear up. So far just have 2 pcs of Tier 9 gear, and misc item level 200 +Def gear. I asked my #1 Guild Death Tanker, and he said Frost or Unholy only for a DK Tank, he said Blood sucks so bad, unless your uber geared full Tier 10, 277 highest items from ICC 25man, then Blood is great, but no gear below 277 is good for Blood he said.

I was very interested in trying out Blood Tanking too once I had the full 5pcs Tier 9 gear...oh well

02-23-2010, 03:01 AM
Darthdingo, your colleague is wrong. I found Blood to be good once I had 4%+ expertise, which is attainable quite early on. Below that, your threat really suffers.
It's just incorrect to say you need i277 gear, in fact that's laughable. You can do it fine in i213s.

02-23-2010, 06:48 AM
I asked my #1 Guild Death Tanker, and he said Frost or Unholy only for a DK Tank, he said Blood sucks so bad, unless your uber geared full Tier 10, 277 highest items from ICC 25man, then Blood is great, but no gear below 277 is good for Blood he said.

Take it from me then. You've confirmed your supposed authority really doesn't know what he's been talking about. I've been Blood since I was progressing through Ulduar and it has been the strongest spec for me and my raids. I've done repeated testing to compare, and if you were to go on the perception of survival from healers and user, then generally pre-ICC the reaction was Blood was about on par with Unholy, and Frost felt a little squishier (purely anecdotal perception testing). Blood scales extremely well, and it will be at its best in high level ICC gear, sure, but that doesn't make it any less before then.

The *real* issue in DK tanking is the player using it. so, if your primo DK tank says "blood is no good" you can generally translate that to, "I am not good with Blood." Follow your tastes. You want to be Blood, spec Blood and go do it. With time and practice you can prove him wrong, or at least disagree with him and understand why.

02-23-2010, 07:38 AM
I have been playing as Frost tank while I gear up. So far just have 2 pcs of Tier 9 gear, and misc item level 200 +Def gear. I asked my #1 Guild Death Tanker, and he said Frost or Unholy only for a DK Tank, he said Blood sucks so bad, unless your uber geared full Tier 10, 277 highest items from ICC 25man, then Blood is great, but no gear below 277 is good for Blood he said.

I was very interested in trying out Blood Tanking too once I had the full 5pcs Tier 9 gear...oh well
Before the 3.1 buff that made Blood uber, Blood tanking was substandard. I hung on to it as long as I could in Naxx, but finally had to switch to Frost because 10-man Maexxna ate my lunch.

That was then. This is now. Blood is a fine tanking spec for any raid level. It's a little more difficult in heroics because AoE threat is less than optimal. Morbidity and Glyph of DnD will take care of that issue though.

So, what I'm really trying to say is Blood tanking is fine. Tell your uber guild death tanker to visit us for more information. :)

02-23-2010, 09:33 AM
Blood was sub-par to Unholy pre-3.1. Frost has never been a top spec for much of anything outside of 5m content where Howling Blast really shines. Blood took over after unholy and there has been no looking back since then with VERY little change in talent point allocation to boot.

02-23-2010, 02:48 PM

Just kidding!

Proofreading time! I didn't see anywhere that I could add any significant info, nor do I have any questions that weren't answered, so I decided to go with my other strength. Being a Grammar Nazi. I hope the following is fairly straight-forward and easy to follow, but if you have any questions, feel free to ask and I'll be happy to elaborate.

Rotations, Methods, and Priorities
I feel that rotations are a clutch(crutch is what I think you're looking for), a means to be lazy in the long term and potentially to not make smart use of your abilities. It is a valuable tool while learning to play, but in the interest o f(space between the "o" and "f") becoming...
Mark of Blood
Against Anub’rhekan(Anub'Arak) in Trial of the Crusader...
General Frost Style
If we take a tank with 5k AP, 0% haste from gear, and the standard 23% melee haste raid buff. Then(should read: buff, then) the average hit size and speed for each weapon will be roughly...
Frost Threat Styles
While it won’t compare with RS for the threat per RP ratio, it will still be well worth to fit into rotation well.(This is more of a personal flow choice, I think, but I believe it would sound better if written: well worth to fit into a rotation well. or well worth it to fit it into a rotation well)
Empowered Rune Weapon
In addition to that, the bonus RP can be very adventitious(advantageous) to support or maintain your Unholy Blight.

02-23-2010, 03:07 PM
I have been playing as Frost tank while I gear up. So far just have 2 pcs of Tier 9 gear, and misc item level 200 +Def gear. I asked my #1 Guild Death Tanker, and he said Frost or Unholy only for a DK Tank, he said Blood sucks so bad, unless your uber geared full Tier 10, 277 highest items from ICC 25man, then Blood is great, but no gear below 277 is good for Blood he said.

I was very interested in trying out Blood Tanking too once I had the full 5pcs Tier 9 gear...oh well

Ignore your under-informed guildy. Furthermore tell him to read this guide... many times

And furthermore... Blood has always been fine.. a bit harder then some specs at times .. but you just had to work harder.. pre 3.1

02-24-2010, 07:08 AM
Blood's weakness pre-3.1 had a lot more to do with it's sub-par AoE tools (they added BB support). The patch also brought Imp DS so that you could play deep Blood without having to spec to Annihilation for supportable FU spam. In general it just made Blood tanking feel better.

Also, thanks for the proofing Sunder, I'm glad you found so little. I wrote this over the course of about 2 months, writing, re-writing. Then I spent 4 days proofing it, but after you've read it so many times it's hard to push yourself to really read it and not let your brain just shortcut as it remembers what it said.

02-24-2010, 07:33 AM
Always a pleasure, Satorri. I was also surprised that I found so little. Excellent job on your own proofreading skills :).

02-25-2010, 06:52 AM
I am thoroughly impressed, and inexpressively thankful for the depth and substance found in this guide. Hours upon hours ago i was reinstalling wow and figured I'd take a look around for some tips. Instead what i found was an absolute marvel of unbaised opinion and effort put forward by satorri-sensei in a post that i will forever be recommending to all the tanks of my faction on my server.

You, sir, are an amazing author and educator. I look forward to whatever it is you post next. Thank you for the guide, and best of luck to you in your future endeavors.:D

02-25-2010, 07:49 AM
btw , one quick question as i can't seem to find anything online about it;

do you know if the "uptime" of Rune Strike (how long it stays illuminated and thus triggerable for use on the next melee swing) varies based on weapon speed? I'm really not sure if it was just my personal reaction/distraction factor at first or the fact that i macro-ed it to most everything, but shortly after switching to dual wielding it seemed that the amount of time it remained available for after dodging/parrying an attack seemed shorter. Any thoughts/conclusive evidence?

btw: my raid seemed to think it made sense that the availability of it would be shorter based off a faster wep speed, perhaps subconsciously attamepting to avoid remaining confused and ignorant about this topic.