Note: under construction - will add Blood tanking and Unholy tanking notes in the near future. Please feel free to make corrections, as this is 100% researched based and 0% practical experience based.
Death Knights specialize in melee DPS or tanking.
Death Knights as tanks - general
Unlike other tank classes, Death Knights can spec deep into any of their three talent trees and remain perfectly viable tanks.
The abilities outlined in this section are core DK abilities relevant to tanking. The one exception to this is Blade Barrier, which should be specced by any DK wishing to tank, regardless of which talent tree they wish to persue.
- Horn of Winter: raid-wide strength and agility buff (+155 for each), lasts 2 mins. Cannot be active at the same time as a Shaman's Strength of Earth Totem.
- Death Grip: widely recognized signature DK ability that pulls a mob to the DK. Is effective at pulling casters into melee range.
- Strangulate: core ability which silences mobs for 5 seconds. DK's occasionally use this ability to force casters to get into melee range.
- Mind Freeze: silence/interrupt ability which prevents the mob from using any spell from the same school that was interrupted for 4 seconds.
- Death Grip: as well as pulling a mob to the DK, Death Grip also interrupts any spell being casted by the mob at that moment.
- Dark Command: the "taunt" of Death Knights; forces an enemy to attack the DK. Has a range of up to 30 yards. 8 sec cooldown. Mainly used when healer/DPS pulls aggro, or when MT/OTs are switching aggro on a boss.
- Death Grip: pulls a mob into melee range and forces it to attack the DK for 3 seconds. This shouldn't be considered a true "taunt", since it doesn't modify the DK's threat in relation to other raid members; the DK will still need to gain aggro.
Incoming damage reduction
- Icebound Fortitude: core ability casted on self by the DK - reduces ALL damage taken by 20% plus an additional reduction based on the DK's defense. Lasts 12 secs with a 1 min cooldown. Can be effective in reducing predictable spikes of damage.
- Blade Barrier: talented ability that increases the DK's Parry chance by 10% for 10 secs whenever their Blood Runes are on cooldown. It can't be "casted" per se, since it relies on both of the DK's Blood Runes being on cooldown, although ideally the DK's rotation should ensure Blade Barrier is up 100% of the time aside from the first rotation of a pull (i.e. when Blood Runes are up).
Magic damage reduction
- Anti-Magic Shell: self-targetted core ability - absorbs 75% of the damage dealt by harmful spells and prevents application of harmful magical effects. Lasts 5 secs, 45 sec cooldown. Useful for predictable spell damage spikes.
Death Knights as tanks - Frost
The Frost tree enhances the DK's avoidance.
- Improved Icy Talons: raid-wide buff that refreshes when the DK uses Icy Talons; increases melee haste of raid by 20% for 20 seconds, and should be rotated so it's always up. Does not stack with a Shaman's Windfury.
- Frost Aura: raid-wide buff of +80 spell resistance.
- Lichborne: self-buff, makes the DK immune to Charm/Fear/Sleep effects for 15 seconds, 3 min cooldown.
Incoming damage reduction:
- Lichborne: self-buff, increases the miss chance of attackers by 25% for 15 seconds, 3 min cooldown.
- Icy Touch: applies debuff that decreases a mob's melee/ranged attack speed by 14% (can - and should - be talented to 20%).
- Unbreakable Armor: self-buff, increases armor by 25%, strength by 10% and parry by 5% for 20 seconds. 1 min cooldown.