Blood DK Tank
Hello and welcome. There are many guides for tanking out there. Some are good, some bad, some have misleading information or widely disputed information. Although I will not profess to be the one who knows all there is about tanking in general or Blood tanking, I do believe I have the experience and knowledge to write a general guide to the Blood tank. Thank you in advance for reading, and I hope this will answer questions as well as encourage discussion.
This is aimed at the new level 80 Blood tank or the Blood tank looking to improve or refresh their abilities. This is not an ultimate information source. I will be leading you to more complete posts and articles on several topics. I will try to discuss everything with an eye to methods and opinions that have been accepted generally by the tanking community. I will also not claim that anything in this guide or discussion is the only way of doing anything. When a talent or method is the preferred or generally accepted as best, I will note this. This is, doubtless, not your only source of information, and as such, I will link to any article I know of that can give further or more complete information.
“What is a Blood tank?”
The obvious answer to this question is a DK who has mostly tanking talents and mostly on the Blood tree. The more complete answer is that a Blood tank has the necessary tanking talents across all trees. He or she has a talent spec that is capable of surviving high amounts of incoming damage through mitigation and self healing. A Blood DK is balanced with a high level of threat generation through mostly physical melee hits.
A Blood DK tank has several talents and hits that are theirs alone. Most of them protect the Blood DK with immediate, hit-based healing or passive self healing, like Improved Death Strike. These are paired with spells, such as Mark of Blood, that are used actively to pre-protect or react to heavy incoming damage. Threat and DPS generation spells, such as Bloody Vengeance and Heart Strike, work in conjunction with survival spells.
Spec considerations and options
It is widely accepted that all DK tanks, regardless of which tree you chose, must have the three “tank talents” filled out. These are all in the first level and one in each tree.
The first is Blade Barrier, located in the Blood tree: “Whenever your Blood Runes are on cooldown, you gain the Blade Barrier effect, which decreases damage taken by 5% for the next 10 sec.” It would be foolish to not have this talent, since as a Blood Tank, Blood Runes will almost always be on cooldown. You would be hard-pressed to find any authority in DK tanking that would discount this as a must-have talent.
The second, located in the Frost tree, is Toughness: “Increases your armor value from items by 10% and reduces the duration of all movement slowing effects by 30%.” This talent is doubly beneficial. The increased armor is a direct damage reduction and directly contributes to your Effective Health. The 30% reduction to slowing is very helpful in many tanking scenarios. A side benefit, if you take the often recommended Blood talent of Bladed Armor is a direct increase in threat generated. This is also widely accepted as a must-have and I do not know of any serious raid DK tank that is without it.
Anticipation is the third talent in the “holy trinity” of tanking talents for any DK tank: “Increases your Dodge chance by 5%.” As a DK tank of any flavor is largely based on damage reduction via avoidance, this has no alternative in the talent trees.
Other Blood talents that you should or could have
At least look at them very closely before you discount them!
This section will not be all-inclusive, as there are already in-depth discussions which are beyond the scope of an introduction guide such as this. This is also not a “get this” list. There are many ways a Blood or any DK tank can spec. Such choices of what goes into your spec will be determined by your roll in your raid, your play style; and to some degree, your content and gear. I am sure I will miss some of the options that are used to some or great success. For a more complete discussion, please go to Satorri's thread on Blood tank specs (http://www.tankspot.com/forums/f14/5...d-tanking.html)
Within the first tier of the Blood tree you should already have Blade Barrier maxed out. You will need at least two more points spent to get further into Blood. The obvious points to spend are in Subversion: “Increases the critical strike chance of Blood Strike, Scourge Strike, Heart Strike and Obliterate by 9%, and reduces threat generated while in Blood or Unholy Presence by 25%.” As it is an increase to damage, it is more desirable over Butchery, which only procs after an enemy dies.
Bladed Armor: “Increases your attack power by 5 for every 180 armor value you have.” This talent is often picked up for Blood tanking. It is a direct threat increase and has a good relationship with Toughness.
Scent of Blood: “You have a 15% chance after dodging, parrying or taking direct damage to gain the Scent of Blood effect, causing your next 3 melee hits to generate 10 runic power.” Most Blood tanks will not find themselves needing extra RP, however if you do find your RP to be lacking due to missing raid synergies, this is a good talent to look at.
Two-Handed Weapon Specialization: “Increases the damage you deal with two-handed melee weapons by 4%.“ This is just another threat and DPS boost.
Rune Tap: “Converts 1 Blood Rune into 10% of your maximum health.“ It's a good choice to drop a point in this if you are going for a survival spec and want to take advantage of the powerful self healing a Blood DK can do. This scales with gear and can also be improved in the next tier.
Dark Conviction: “Increases your chance to critically hit with weapons, spells and abilities by 5%.” Three to five points in this will not be wasted as this is another threat/dps boost. Personally, I think this should be maxed out so you can get its follow-up talent a few tiers down, called Bloody Vengeance.
Death Rune Mastery: “Whenever you hit with Death Strike or Obliterate there is a 100% chance that the Frost and Unholy Runes will become Death Runes when they activate. Death Runes count as a Blood, Frost or Unholy Rune.” This is usually considered a necessity as it will allow you to take Obliterate off of your action bars and, more importantly, have a steady use of a Death Rune or three. This is handy for spamming the Blood DK's go-to hit, Heart Strike.
Improved Rune Tap: “Increases the health provided by Rune Tap by 100% and lowers its cooldown by 30 sec.” If you picked up Rune Tap, this is very hard to pass up. Improved Rune Tap will provide you with a powerful survival tool.
Spell Deflection: “You have a chance equal to your Parry chance of taking 45% less damage from a direct damage spell.” If you plan on tanking a lot of bosses that deal magical damage this is a very good choice. Some would say that it is more a PVP option as a large portion of the bosses deal mostly physical hits. Spell Deflection can be a useful tool to pick up, especially if there are no other magic soaking tanks in your raid.
Mark of Blood: “Place a Mark of Blood on an enemy. Whenever the marked enemy deals damage to a target, that target is healed for 4% of its maximum health. Lasts for 20 sec or up to 20 hits.” Mark of Blood is great for the self healing that is a Blood DK. This is also a great utility spell if you are the off-tank, as you can help heal some of the damage from the boss on the main tank during hard-hitting phases. This does require some thought to its use, however. Mark of Blood should be used timed carefully on bosses with special abilities, however during any boss fight where there are no spike hits or special phases it should be used often as it can to help smooth out the healing.
Veteran of the Third War: “Increases your total Strength by 6%, your Stamina by 3%, and your expertise by 6.” Nearly all Blood Tanks will pick up this talent. Triple benefits are granted by choosing this over other talents: A decent chunk of health, avoidance and threat.
Bloody Strikes: “Increases the damage of Blood Strike by 15% and Heart Strike by 45%, and increases the damage of Blood Boil by 30%.” Another great threat/DPS talent, but pure survival tanks might pass up getting all the points in this. If you have no threat problems, then that is a valid choice, however, the more damage you do on some of your hits the more they heal you. Choose carefully on this one.
Abomination's Might: “Your Blood Strikes and Heart Strikes have a 50% chance and your Death Strikes and Obliterates have a 100% chance to increase the attack power by 10% of raid members within 45 yards for 10 sec. Also increases your total Strength by 2%.” With the 2% boost to Strength, this is an attractive survival tool. The fact that it also helps your raid DPS gives it a good spot in the collection of utility talents.
Bloody Vengeance: “Gives you a 3% bonus to physical damage you deal for 30 sec after dealing a critical strike from a weapon swing, spell, or ability. This effect stacks up to 3 times.” If you picked up Dark Conviction, take a look at this, especially if you want or need more threat and damage.
Improved Blood Presence: “While in Frost Presence or Unholy Presence, you retain 4% healing from Blood Presence, and healing done to you is increased by 10% in Blood Presence.” Another passive healing tool that the Blood tank can spec for. The value of this at end game raids is debated as the healing is attached to your DPS. Although it does scale, the healing at very high DPS is still somewhat minimal. If you are looking for a place for one or two unspent points, Improved Blood Presence would be worthwhile.
Hysteria: “Induces a friendly unit into a killing frenzy for 30 sec. The target is Enraged, which increases their physical damage by 20%, but causes them to lose health equal to 1% of their maximum health every second.” This is a great utility tool if used correctly. Bear in mind that if it is used on you that as a tank you are probably not the highest DPS and whomever receives it might surpass you in threat if they are already close. With that said, if you have a point to give this can help your top or close-to-top melee DPS push a little bit more.
Improved Death Strike: “Increases the damage of your Death Strike by 30%, increases its critical strike chance by 6%, and increases the healing granted by 50%.” Another survival/threat tool, with both diseases up this can heal you for 15% of your total health.
Vampiric Blood: “Temporarily grants the Death Knight 15% of maximum health and increases the amount of health generated through spells and effects by 35% for 10 sec. After the effect expires, the health is lost.” With the one-minute cooldown, this is a powerful way to get past the predictable spike damage of many bosses. Applied at the right moment this can help the healers immensely. During any boss fight where the damage is steady, this can be used whenever it is ready to help save your healers mana.
Will of the Necropolis: “Damage that would take you below 35% health or taken while you are at 35% health is reduced by 15%. This effect cannot occur more often than once every 15 sec and cannot be triggered by damage which deals less than 5% of your health.” Will of the Necropolis is a passive survival tool. The value is somewhat debated, primarily because there has not been enough evidence that it removes all 15% of a hit that would take you below the trigger point. Nevertheless this is definitely a solid survival talent.
Heart Strike: “Instantly strike the target and his nearest ally, causing 50% weapon damage plus 368 on the primary target, and 25% weapon damage plus 184 on the secondary target. Each target takes 10% additional damage for each of your diseases active on that target.” This is a must for any Blood tank. It is the only way to get a cleave and it is a very high threat tool.
Might of Mograine: “Increases the critical strike damage bonus of your Blood Boil, Blood Strike, Death Strike, and Heart Strike abilities by 45%.” Having that much crit bonus to all of your main strikes is very nice. This is primarily a threat/DPS tool. As it does increase damage on your Death Strike, it will increase your healing received.
Blood Gorged: “When you are above 75% health, you deal 10% more damage. In addition, your attacks ignore up to 10% of your opponent's armor at all times.” This will always buff your threat; firstly, by acting as a direct armor penetration and secondly,when you are above 75% health, which hopefully is a lot of the time. You will generate 10% more damage, which creates a lot more threat.
This concludes the list of the most useful talents you will have to choose from in the blood tree. While some are not listed, they are either PVP-oriented or provide little additional survival/threat to you as a tank. By all means, if there is a talent that you want and fits your play style, do not conclude that I am telling you it is absolutely worthless. Only you can decide that. Also you will note that there are many first to third tier talents in the other two trees that can be of use to the Blood tank. In order to get all of the talents I have listed, you will have no talents left over. This is the start of what makes any DK a unique class to play. You will have to decide whether you want to be threat-centric or survival-centric or a balance of the two. For a more complete breakdown of the synergies and the math behind them, take a look at: http://www.tankspot.com/forums/f14/5...d-tanking.html
For some of you, I thought a basic spec might be helpful. Note this is not complete, because I only spent the points needed to get to Blood Gorged. There are a total of 11 unspent points. Some of the choices you might make differently. By all means do so. As long as the basic tank talents are present and the recommended Blood talents are used you should be fine. It does not cost too much gold to re-spec if you find out something does not work for you. The only way to tank and not just take points someone else has laid out for you is to try a spec out, evaluate and revise as you see fit. With all that said here is the spec:
The World of Warcraft Armory
So you have a tank viable spec. You are ready to go out and spank some bosses so some other peeps can burn them down. But wait, you can't do that when you're naked. Well, you can bet your healers would hate you. You need gear. Not just any gear but gear that will help you live longer and keep the bosses mad at you and you alone.
“So what stats should I go for?” you ask.
If you did not actually ask I am asking for you.
- Defense: This is the number one stat to look for in tanking gear. At least until you have a minimum of 540 defense. Notice I said minimum. There is no cap.
- Expertise/Hit: Until you are near the 26 minimum expertise and hit at 8%. As a DK tank, you can go higher on expertise and if you can it is not a bad thing.
- Stamina/Dodge/Strength: All three are good and what you will be stacking depends on what you need. Are you low on health or avoidance or threat?
- Armor Penetration: Is not something you go out and look for but will see it on some nice tank weapons. Go ahead and pick them up but generally you will not need to go for gear that has it.
“So what stats are better left alone or have a better option for me?”
- Attack Power: You do not need it. You will get all the AP from strength which also gives you some parry.
- Haste: This does not do a whole lot of good for a Blood tank. At the levels that it becomes a viable stat to get, you would have to sacrifice too many other stats. (Note: There are some good tanking weapons that have this. Do not pass them up if all the other stats are an upgrade)
- Agility: It does give you armor and crit, but generally there are better options. Some do gear/gem for it but they usually have very specific reasons. If you have a reason and the know how you probably already know anything and everything in this little guide.
“This is all well and good but where do I get this gear?”
As a new tank you have several options. You can have many pieces crafted which will get you into dungeons. Once in said dungeons, you can get some gear from them, but more than likely you will be farming whatever the current Heroic badge is to buy gear from a badge vendor. I will not spend hours and hours listing all the gear you can find. Instead, I will point you to some well-written resources.
Those four guides should get you going. Note that they may not be all up-to-date with the latest gear. Once you have the gear you need to get into the latest raid you can figure it out from there. If you can't, well, that is a good portion of what tanking in any class is about. Knowing your gear. It is beyond the scope of this writing to tell you how to figure out what is best for you.
Gems, Enchantments and Glyphs
“Now that I have this gear, how do I make it better?”
The basic way to decide what gems you need is this:
- Make sure you have enough of the right color gems to get your meta gem to work.
- Use them to fill out any gaps your gear has in Defense, Expertise, Hit, etc.
- After you have all the stats you need from just your gear, gem for stats you want. This will be decided by your tanking style.
For Enchantments, follow the same logic in steps two and three from above.
To figure out what you can use for either the gems or enchants, the gear guides above have some mention of what to use. Bumbuckle has a very nice breakdown in his gear list. Also you could ask a Jewelcrafter and Enchanter in game the better ones usually have a good grasp of what people want and or need.
“I do not need a weapon Enchant?
Nope. We use, as you probably already know, a Runeforge to add a DK-only specialized enchant. For tanking, there are a few choices depending on what you are looking for: More threat or more survivability. For survivability, the choice is simple: Rune of the Stoneskin Gargoyle. This adds 25 Defense and 2% Stamina. It is important to note that this is 25 Defense, not Defense Rating. The usual choice for threat and damage is the Rune of Cinderglacier. This adds a chance to increase your damage by 20% for the next two attacks that deal frost or shadow. A balanced threat and survivability Runeforge is Rune of the Fallen Crusader. This has a chance to heal you for 3% and increase your total Strength by 15% for 15 seconds. Alternatively, there are a few which will help with magic damage mitigation or more that can add specific types of damage to your weapon. As we can forge our weapons as many times as we want, using a Death Gate in a raid, re-forging our weapon to suite the boss and getting a summon back is not unreasonable. Of course, if you are lucky enough to have a few different weapons, each with different Runeforges, you can go that route.
Now on to Glyphs. As you know, glyphs add functionality or utility to your already existing spells/hits. As a Blood DK you have a few good ones to choose from for both the minor and major glyphs. Again as with talents this will not be a “get this, not that” list but a list with a brief explanation of why you might want it. This list also has no order. At the end of the day, it will be up to you to decide what glyphs fit your needs and/or style of tanking.
Major Glyphs of interest to the Blood tank (as of patch 3.2)
Glyph of Anti-magic Shell: “Use: Increases the duration of your Anti-Magic Shell by 2 sec.”
Glyph of Icebound Fortitude: “Use: Your Icebound Fortitude now always grants at least 30% damage reduction, regardless of your defense skill.”
(note: over 540 D this might not add anything. OK for dungeon tanks who only need or have 535 D)
Glyph of Vampiric Blood: “Use: Increases the duration of your Vampiric Blood by 5 sec.”
Threat and DPS Glyphs
Glyph of Dark Command: “Use: Increases the chance for your Dark Command ability to work successfully by 8%.”
Glyph of Dark Death: “Use: Increases the damage done by Death Coil by 15%.”
Glyph of Death Strike: “Use: Increases your Death Strike's damage by 1% for every 1 runic power you currently have (up to a maximum of 25%). The runic power is not consumed by this effect.”
Glyph of Death and Decay: “Use: Damage of your Death and Decay spell increased by 20%.”
Glyph of Disease: “Use: Your Pestilence ability now refreshes disease durations on your primary target back to their maximum duration.”
Glyph of Icy Touch: “Use: Your Frost Fever disease deals 20% additional damage.”
Minor Glyphs of interest to the Blood tank (as of patch 3.2)
Glyph of Blood Tap: “Use: Your Blood Tap no longer causes damage to you.”
Glyph of Horn of Winter: “Use: Increases the duration of your Horn of Winter ability by 1 min.”
Glyph of Pestilence: “Use: Increases the radius of your Pestilence effect by 5 yards.”
Glyph of Raise Dead: “Use: Your Raise Dead spell no longer requires a reagent.”
Glyph of Corpse Explosion: “Use: Increases the radius of effect on Corpse Explosion by 5 yards.”