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Thread: Zaubade's Basics of Blood Tanking

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2009

    Zaubade's Basics of Blood Tanking

    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

    Must-have talents

    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)

    First tier

    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.

    Second tier

    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.

    Third tier

    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.

    Fourth tier

    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.

    Tier five

    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.

    Tier six

    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.

    Tier seven

    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.

    Tier eight

    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.

    Tier eight

    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.

    Tier nine

    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
    and http://www.tankspot.com/forums/f14/5...cs-styles.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.

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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?
    4. 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?”

    1. Attack Power: You do not need it. You will get all the AP from strength which also gives you some parry.
    2. 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)
    3. 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:
    1. Make sure you have enough of the right color gems to get your meta gem to work.
    2. Use them to fill out any gaps your gear has in Defense, Expertise, Hit, etc.
    3. 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)

    Survival Glyphs

    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.”
    Last edited by zaubade; 12-12-2009 at 07:10 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2009

    Techniques and Methods

    “Gear: Check. Spec: Check: Glyphs/Enchants/Gems: Check. OK, I am ready to tank. Erm, how do I go about doing that? What do I need to know?”
    That is precisely what knowledge this section will try to enlighten you with. I will cover the essentials for tanking as Blood. I will primarily concentrate on the maneuvers and spells of DK tanks and particularly, Blood DKs. Giving the nature of tanking there will be some general knowledge that would apply to all tanks, but if you are looking for a “How do I tank?” guide, you would best be served elsewhere.

    Presence, or “What's my stance?”

    Like the Warrior or Paladin, we have a stance/aura system. Unlike either of them, we do not get as much utility in our presences. For the most of the time as a tank you will want to be in Frost Presence. If I had to give a percentage of this time in Frost Presence, it would be 99.99%. There are, however, a few situations that you might need or want to be in another.
    Note: Any time you switch presences it costs one rune of the same flavor as the presence you are switching to. You also burn a GCD. Be aware that the cost of switching out of Frost into another and back may far outweigh any possible benefits.
    Lets list the presences, as it is a short list I think we can waist some space.

    Frost Presence: The death knight takes on the presence of frost, increasing Stamina by 6%, armor contribution from cloth, leather, mail and plate items by 60%, and reducing damage taken by 8%. Increases threat generated. Only one Presence may be active at a time.” As stated above, this is what you will be using 99.99% of the time. The reasons are, hopefully, obvious.

    Blood Presence: “Strengthens the Death Knight with the presence of blood, increasing damage by 15% and healing the Death Knight by 4% of damage dealt. Only one Presence may be active at a time.” This as a tank has one use, To drop threat. You will want to use this any time you need to hit a mob as an off tank and are getting to close to the tank. You will lose a Blood Rune and Frost Rune as you toggle between Frost and Blood, but if you are getting too close to pulling off a main tank before a planned switch, this can help. Generally, I try to just not go over the main or other tanks threat until we need to switch.

    Unholy Presence: “Infuses the death knight with unholy fury, increasing attack speed by 15%, movement speed by 15% and reducing the global cooldown on all abilities by 0.5 sec. Only one Presence may be active at a time.” About the only time you will use this as a tank is when you need to go catch a mob. Personally if I have Death grip up I prefer to grab the stray mob that way. Less running and looks kind of cool. If you find you need to get somewhere faster try swapping to this.

    Spells and Hits or, “What do I use when?”

    The Blood tank shares a few spells with all specs. We do, however, have a few of our own spells and hits to ourselves. What you have to use will depend on how you talent into the Blood tree. Unlike some DPS and like most modern tanks we do not have a set rotation. Instead, we have a priority list. The flow of what's more important changes with how many mobs or even the situation. I am not going to list all of our spells and hits. Hopefully at 80 you should know what you have access to. If not, open up your spell book and start reading. It is also worth noting that even though the priorities I will be listing are, for the most part, widely accepted they are not the only way for every situation. Again the biggest challenge to any tanking class, and I would argue that DKs have it the hardest, is deciding what is best in any situation. Sometimes you have little to no time to decide this. Also note that this section assumes dungeon or raid content with mobs that are not going to die in very few hits.

    Single target (and it's Probably a Boss)

    Pull. (We will discuss various options on how to do this later.) As you are positioning after the pull, get both of your diseases up. Icy Touch and Plague strike to apply the diseases. By this time your DPS is probably going at it. If they are not and give you longer than a fast count to five pleases do send them my way. (I want them.) Now start your death rune conversion by dropping a hit of Death Strike, then on to the bread and butter hit of a Blood DK, Heart Strike. By the time you have off a few hits of Heart Strike you should have a few Death Runes to hit a few more times with it. If at any time your RP is too high, dump it with a Death Coil or two. Do be aware that it is a good idea to keep enough RP around to have for your Rune Strikes to hit when they proc. It is also a good idea to have enough RP to use Icebound Fortitude or Mind Freeze, etc, if you need them. If you find yourself out of runes and or RP that us a great time to refresh your Horn of Winter. So for those who like a list.

    1. Icy Touch
    2. Plague Strike
    3. Death Strike
    4. Heart Strike 1 to 4 times (back to 1 if your diseases are wearing off)
    5. Rune Strike whenever it is up and you have enough RP to use it.
    6. RP dump via Death Coil (unless you need the RP for something else)
    7. back to 1

    A nice flow chart would be better. But that is the basic priority rotation. Keep in mind I said basic, because when the situation gets hairy your rotation is all out the window and you will need to adjust priorities as needed. Example: a DPS pulls off of you. What are you doing? Well, you're probably using a Global Cooldown for a taunt, then you need to rebuild that threat gap fast, so you might hit the Death Strike and just spam Heart Strike for a bit. Perhaps you had some RP to waste, so you might fire off a Death Coil as the mob is running back to you. Essentially, you will need to keep yourself fluid and be ready to adapt to any situation.

    Two to Three mobs

    With the introduction of more than one mob, things get a little complicated. We will assume that the mobs in question are your standard elites and not two or more boss types. (Although there are a few encounters when you can and will be tanking two bosses. The twins come to mind.) Firstly, it is important that your DPS'ers understand that starting up with AoE is often a bad idea. Stress that although you could hold threat on all mobs at once, it is a good idea to let you get a little bit of a threat lead before they let out their E-Peeen, er I mean DPS Godliness. Besides, AoE at two mobs is not much of a DPS gain over focused fire kills.
    To start you will still want to get your diseases up as soon as possible and spread to all the mobs in question. Personally, if I have two or three mobs the rotation is fairly simple.
    1. Icy Touch first mob. Either as the pull or just after.
    2. Plague Strike the first mob. Now your diseases are ready.
    3. Hit that mob with Pestilence. This spreads your diseases.
    4. Now comes the choice at two mobs I switch targets and hit second mob with a Heart Strike. This will hit the second mob, and if your position is correct, the first mob also.
    5. However, at three mobs I recommend a Blood Boil or two
    6. With two or three mobs, at this point you can use Death Strike if it is ready to convert your Frost Unholy Runes then start tab spamming Heart Strike.
    7. Throughout, weave in your Rune Strikes whenever they proc and you have the RP.
    Do realize that the above rotation assumes no more than three mobs and that you could also, at three mobs, start with a Death and Decay. (I often do, in fact, if all the mobs are close together) Changes will need to be made in the case of casters in the group you are pulling. You might have to alter the tab rotation to silence one or more of the casters. In a raid, do not be afraid to have Hunters use Misdirect and or Rogues use Tricks of the Trade. (The main Hunter and Rogue I have with me in my 10 and 25 mans are both DPS gods, and have no problem sacrificing some of that initial DPS to get me bumped up on threat fast.)

    Four or more mobs
    (Many whelps! HANDLE IT!)

    When you are tanking groups of many, the strategy changes. If the mobs are all hard-hitting high health elites, you might want to use more than one tank and or use crowd control. If they are small, not so hard-hitting, lower health elites (like the Onyxia whelps) then proceed in your single tank pull. There are a few options for a many mobs situation. Most all will include Death and Decay. The various techniques generally differ in when DnD is dropped: Before the pull by a few seconds, or as the pull. Both methods have merit. With DnD as the pull you get massive snap aggro and all of the ticks and therefore threat from DnD, however you are quickly at a Rune blackout as it takes one of each type to drop DnD. Dropping your DnD before the pull, away from the mobs, allows for your Runes to be back sooner. This, however, does lose the initial snap aggro and lessens the overall threat and damage of the DnD as it will have wasted a few ticks. It is important to note that DnD is like a DOT in that it ticks on application, then every second thereafter. It is possible to have a mob run through DnD after dropping it an not get hit. With either method be prepared to grab the runners if your DPS pulls them off of you.

    The DnD for the pull method

    1. Drop and pull with DnD. It is important to position the mobs so all of them are in the DnD.
    2. If they are all fast-dying/low health mobs then Blood Boil.
    3. If they are not fast-dying then get diseases up and spread them around.
    4. If you are talented into Morbidity, drop a new DnD as soon as it is ready, assuming the mobs are still alive enough to worry about them. Repeat as needed.
    1. Between diseases and refreshes on DnD, tab target around a bit to hit the mobs with your auto hits, Heart Strike and Death Strike.

    DnD and wait method

    1. Drop DnD, but outside of the mob aggro range.
    2. Wait a few seconds so your runes will be ready shortly after you pull.
    3. Pull into the DnD.
    4. If they are all fast-dying mobs, Blood Boil a time or two.
    5. If they are not fast-dying mobs, get your diseases up.
    6. Even without being talented into Morbidity you might be able to drop a new DnD at this point if needed.
    7. If they are still alive, tab target around to auto hit and use Heart Strike and Death Strike.
    8. Repeat as needed.

    There are, I am sure, other ways of pulling and keeping big packs of mobs on you. These two are the basic methods I have used and seen posted around the forums. Do modify as needed for your situation and needs.

    “What? Wait? I do not have a gun, how do I pull?”

    That's right kiddos. No ranged weapon slot. Hey, chins up, I do believe we have a few more tools than druids to pull with. Let's look at a list of what we have, what they do, and how each one is usable.

    1) Icy Touch, 20 Yard range: “Chills the target for 227 to 245 Frost damage and infects them with Frost Fever, a disease that deals periodic damage and reduces melee and ranged attack speed by 14% for 15 sec.” This spell is available more often than any other. Probably the one to use in most situations as you will want your diseases up anyway.
    2) Death Coil, 30 yard range: “Fire a blast of unholy energy, causing 381 Shadow damage to an enemy target or healing 571.5 damage from a friendly Undead target.” If your RP is still up from your last pull, you can fire off a blast of this to engage the next mob, follow up with Icy Touch and you have a small start on threat before the mob is even close to you.
    3) Death and Decay, 30 yard range: “Corrupts the ground targeted by the Death Knight, causing 62 Shadow damage every sec that targets remain in the area for 10 sec.” This ability produces a high amount of threat. Used in some cases for your group pulls. This is not recommended for single target pulls.
    4) Chains of Ice, 20 yard range: “Shackles the target with frozen chains, reducing their movement by 95%. The target regains 10% of their movement each second for 10 sec.” This is useful as a pull if you need a mob or two to get to you a little slower than the others. As this will use up a Frost Rune, your diseases will be a little slower in getting up on your primary target.
    5) In a group, five man or raid, you will or most likely will have others that can assist on the pulls, primarily a hunter with misdirect. Do not be shy in having them help you out.
    6) Death Grip and Dark Command: Both are ranged and both can be used to pull, however they should in most cases be used to get mobs back or in the case of Death Grip, to control casters.

    Other Tools and their use

    You might be asking yourself, “If there are only about six hits/spells in the tanking rotation, then why do I have so many other things in my spell book?” Let's now explore some of the other tools we have at our disposal.

    Mind Freeze:Smash the target's mind with cold, interrupting spellcasting and preventing any spell in that school from being cast for 4 sec.” Our go-to caster interrupt. In situations where you will be using this, it is important to remember to keep your Runic Power above 20.

    Strangulate: “Strangulates an enemy, silencing them for 5 sec.” This is very useful for getting those pesky casters over to you.

    Anti-Magic Shell: “Surrounds the Death Knight in an Anti-Magic Shell, absorbing 75% of the damage dealt by harmful spells (up to a maximum of 50% of the Death Knight's health) and preventing application of harmful magical effects. Damage absorbed by Anti-Magic Shell energizes the Death Knight with additional runic power. Lasts 5 sec.” Five seconds of protection against heavy AoE damage, incoming boss magics, and you will get back some of the RP you used to cast it.

    Death Pact: “Sacrifices an undead minion, healing the Death Knight for 40% of his/her maximum health. This heal cannot be a critical.” Used in conjunction with Raise Dead, you have a very handy heal every 3 minutes. This should be on your bars and used as it can save your healers some panic on those heavy damage portions of a boss fight.

    Raise Dead: “Raises a Ghoul to fight by your side. If no humanoid corpse that yields experience or honor is available, you must supply Corpse Dust to complete the spell. You can have a maximum of one Ghoul at a time. Lasts 1 min.” This little bugger does not hit very hard. He is, however, very useful per Death Pact. In fights that you know you will need the health boost, he probably should be saved for such.

    Raise Ally: “Raises the corpse of a raid or party member to fight by your side. The player will have control over the Ghoul for 5 min.” Out of Battle rezes? Need some more DPS? This is the spell for you. As a tank it can be awkward to get to the party member, target them, etc, but worth it in some cases. I usually find that if you have another DK in your group, they know how to control themselves as a ghoul.

    Army of the Dead: “Summons an entire legion of Ghouls to fight for the Death Knight. The Ghouls will swarm the area, taunting and fighting anything they can. While channeling Army of the Dead, the Death Knight takes less damage equal to his/her Dodge plus Parry chance.” It's extra little DOTs on your target, and the damage reduction can help in some situations.

    Empower Rune Weapon: “Empower your rune weapon, immediately activating all your runes and generating 25 runic power.” For use in situations when all your runes are on cooldown and you need them now. The RP is also a nice bonus.


    It should be apparent now that DKs, in general, are a very versatile class. With all three trees able to DPS or tank, the play styles are numerable. Blood as a tanking tree has dual ability to concentrate on survivability, TPS, or a balance of both. This is important to remember when considering your spec and play style.
    When looking at guides, such as this one, or posts about specs, etc, be sure to study the context of the information. As a Blood DK you have a lot of options, including other trees. Do not be discouraged by the overload of information and decisions you will have to make about your spec and gear. It is important to also remember that with all the options, you might find people who have truly unique specs. Instead of passing them off as nonsensical or wrong, I would recommend attempting to see how the spec could work or in what situations you could use the same synergies they have come up with. This is not to say that every spec you see is valid. Like all classes, it is possible to have talents that are totally worthless.
    Absolutes are a finicky thing in any DK spec. Anybody claiming that there is only one way to do anything within the DK tanking community should be questioned. I mention this simply as a warning to be sure of your sources.
    I will once again reiterate that the information presented in these pages is not the end-all of Blood tanking. Almost everything discussed will most likely have other ways that work. Some of those ways may not be the best, and there are perhaps better methods and ideas than I have presented. I do hope that the following discussion is one that breeds more ideas and tips, etc.

    Resources and citations

    I have not provided any number crunching anywhere in this guide. I do not do so as there are others who have already. I thank them. I have used many resources on Tankspot and other sites. If your work is listed, then I thank you for its creation and your work in getting the numbers, whether through testing or research.

    Last edited by zaubade; 12-22-2009 at 01:27 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2009


    Change log

    12/12/2009 - noted that Glyph of IBF is unneeded after 540 D
    12/22/2009 - added the death night tank bible by Satorri to the link list

    Last edited by zaubade; 12-22-2009 at 01:28 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    one more just in case
    Last edited by zaubade; 12-11-2009 at 12:09 AM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Glyph of IBF is useless for a tank. It gives no additional damage reduction over 540 defense.

    Comprehensive guide, nice work.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Quote Originally Posted by vine View Post
    Glyph of IBF is useless for a tank. It gives no additional damage reduction over 540 defense.

    Comprehensive guide, nice work.

    First of all thank you.
    I was under the impression that the glyph was valid later than 540.... will have to find the numbers. If you are indeed right I will probably remove that from the list of suggested survival Glyphs.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    I have a question when I was spec'ed blood I have a very impotent AoE threat I do DnD icy-plauge Pestilence but can't to seem to hold the mobs together at all expecially in heroics
    sKsBlaster/Blasterion for Stim Kill Smile and Last Light on Stim Kill Smile and MedivhUS

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    When you need extra pop for AoE as blood, always remember you have Boil Blood to throw around. I have used it stand alone before as a way to gather mobs quickly as both frost and blood.
    The Pwnstar Puddin, Now in a Fun Sized Goblin Shell.

  9. #9
    DnD, IT, PS, Pest, Blood Tap, BB. by then your 3 from DnD should be off cooldown and give you the option to start the typical tab target rotations of disease upkeep, Ds and Hs spam.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    I run two specs, Blood, and Frost. Blood is my raiding spec and is tailored for raid bosses. Frost is my trash-aoe spec and is perfect for blitzing through heroics. Pretty much all I cast is D&D > HB > BB, I have RS macrod in.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    minnesota aka southern canada
    Quote Originally Posted by zaubade View Post
    First of all thank you.
    I was under the impression that the glyph was valid later than 540.... will have to find the numbers. If you are indeed right I will probably remove that from the list of suggested survival Glyphs.
    I made this mistake in my guide as well. Back when it was introduced It was glitched and did still provide halp to tanks. They fixed it however and now it mainly a pvp oriented glyph.
    I never got the memo and stuck with it
    Quote Originally Posted by Ghostcrawler View Post
    I'm on a shark

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