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Thread: [Cataclysm] Death Knight Tanking: Satorri's Guide to the Bloody Future

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2008

    [Cataclysm] Death Knight Tanking: Satorri's Guide to the Bloody Future

    Welcome to the new world, fellow former servants of the Lich King. When the world split it did a real number on the Death Knight class. While much will appear similar, a lot has changed beneath the surface, so hold on to your knickers, let go of your old ideas about the class, and prepare to see a new Death Knight reality!

    As with my previous work I will be breaking down each important sector of relevant material on Death Knight tanking. I will purposefully aim this work at instructing you on the what and the why, and leave room for you to make your own choices on how you want to use that information. I firmly believe this is the only way you will become a skilled player and not a cookie-cutter sheep. There is nothing wrong with making the same choices as other people, so long as you know why you are making those choices!

    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.

    The sections for this guide are as follows:
    1. Terminology and Acronyms
    2. Experienced DK Primer!
    3. Runes and Runic Power: The Power System
    4. Specs and Glyphs
    5. Priority - How to use your Skills
    6. Gear Stats, Reforging, and Enchants/Gems
    7. Advanced Skills and Concepts: Developing your Style
    8. UI Modification
    9. FAQ
    Last edited by Satorri; 12-01-2010 at 07:26 AM.
    The (Old) Book on Death Knight Tanking
    The New Testament on Death Knight Tanking
    Quote Originally Posted by Horacio View Post
    Who f-ing divided by zero?!?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Terminology, Glossary:

    Common Acronyms:
    HS = Heart Strike
    PS = Plague Strike
    IT = Icy Touch
    OB = Obliterate
    DS = Death Strike
    RS = Rune Strike
    NS = Necrotic Strike
    FeS = Festering 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
    SoB = Scent of Blood
    WoN = Will of the Necropolis
    BCB = Blood-caked Blade
    RunEmp = Runic Empowerment
    DarkSim = Dark Simulacrum

    Rune System Terminology:

    Rune Set = 1 Blood, Frost, and Unholy rune, 3 runes available in two sets 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
    Sleeper Rune = the second rune of any same sort that is waiting for the other rune to finish its regeneration in order to start its own

    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.
    The (Old) Book on Death Knight Tanking
    The New Testament on Death Knight Tanking
    Quote Originally Posted by Horacio View Post
    Who f-ing divided by zero?!?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Primer for Experienced Death Knights

    So, you played a Death Knight in the Wrath of the Lich King expansion and figure you know the ropes? This is the place for you. Many of the important names and elements have stayed, but there have been several adjustments on the system. In this section I will assume you had a strong, working familiarity with the WotLK form of Death Knights and will only look to bring you into the new system for the key changes.

    The later sections may still have good information for you, but they will be designed to be equally accessible to someone who has never played a Death Knight before.

    Dedicated Tank Tree
    Blizzard made a very tactical decision. While they didn't feel that 3 specs capable of tanking and DPSing was not working or broken, they did feel like they were not offering the quality of design that they could. Each tree tanking *and* DPSing meant that each tree had to have a balance of tools for both, and the old talent system also meant that those abilities had to be carefully placed so that one spec couldn't overpower the others by cherry-picking prime abilities from another tree. The result is that the trees had a lot of split purpose or cautiously presented abilities. The upshot is that with one dedicated tank tree, DK tanks can have a spec like Paladins and Warriors that *really* feels like a tank spec, complete with generous helpings of tank-oriented abilities. Not supporting multiple purposes as a primary interest allows the trees to really shine at their designated purpose.

    You will no doubt form your own opinion, but I think they've really done a nice job with the dedicated tanking tree, and Blood has had a unique and iconic feeling among tanks which is not forgotten or ignored.

    I expect that you, as a DK of yore, will fall into one of three groups on this change:
    1.) Blood Tank in WotLK = It's where you came from and now you get new toys!

    2.) Frost/Unholy/Dual Wield Tank in WotLK = You loved your old spec and are a little sad that it is going away, but you still love your Death Knight, and tanking, so you are soldiering on and learning the new way.

    3.) DPSer who's decided to take on more responsibility = Maybe you played Blood, maybe not, but now that you are going to tank, and you're locked into Blood for serious tanking.

    Regardless of where you come from, welcome to the new world order, and welcome to the Bloody family (yes, I will not be shy with Blood-oriented humor).

    The New Runes
    The first and most obvious change you will notice is the new Rune system. This change revolves around two key elements:
    1.) Runes of the same sort (Blood, Frost, Unholy) can only recharge in sequence, or one at a time. That means that if you spend your two Blood runes back to back, the first will start its standard 10 sec regen, and the other will wait until that countdown is completed to start its own 10 sec (note: Haste will now accelerate rune cooldowns, but as tanks I will not expect us to have much Haste on our gear).

    2.) Runic Empowerment is a new passive spell given to all Death Knights. RunEmp will give each of your base RP abilities a 45% chance to regenerate a random queued rune. That means as a Blood Tank your Rune Strike will have a 45% chance on each use to cause a rune that is blacked out to regenerate instantly. This will always refresh a queue'd "sleeper" rune (the rune waiting to start its CD) and will not refresh a rune that has a live timer.

    This change has severe implications for the way you will play your Death Knight, even as you keep many of the same priorities for abilities used. Some spells have had their cost adjusted to reflect the new availability, and all abilities have had their damage/threat output adjusted to reflect the new slower pace.

    As it would appear this will have two practical implications on the feel of rune spending:
    1.) Without accounting for Runic Empowerment, this will significantly slow down your rune spending, which in turn results in a slower pace no longer focused on filling and maximizing every GCD. While this may feel a little frustrating at first, remember to appreciate that this also allows for runes to be held in wait for use without being wasted (as opposed to the WotLK format where if you don't spend a rune you are losing out on the maximum output you are capable of). Blizzard's design is specifically to allow this sort of delay to do other important things like use non-central tools (healthstones, Lightwell, etc), move as required by an encounter, and make use of special procs without losing the value for resources sitting stagnant.

    2.) Under the old system, rune use generated RP as a byproduct and using it was an afterthought. When you had nothing better to do with runes, you would "dump" RP into Death Coil (and RS was used with minimal consideration as soon as it was available, queued for the next swing, and macro'd by many into other buttons so they didn't even have to use it consciously). In the new system RunEmp creates a dynamic interaction between Rune spending and RP spending. Runes generate fixed proportions of RP at 10 RP per rune, and spending RP on RS or DC will give you a chance to restore a rune prematurely (Note: DC is only worth using as a ranged threat utility as RS costs less, hits harder, and is now always available in Blood Presence). This means that spending RP should no longer be a byproduct or afterthought, it will fuel your cycles. The simple lesson to take home here is that RP moves should be used more actively and aggressively to fuel rune refreshes, for more depth and insight see the Advanced Skills and Concepts section.

    Be aware, the advent of RunEmp leads to a new level of unpredictability. The rune restored is semi-random (though the fact that it will only restore a sleeper rune will give you some degree of predictability). When you combine this pseudo-random resource availability with the much slower pace of the base rune regeneration you can essentially throw out any ideas you had of a "rotation." The only way to play cleanly now is by paying attention to what is available in the moment and making smart choices with that.

    Spell Changes
    A lot of abilities have taken on particular adjustments to cost, cooldown, and other little tweaks. Very few abilities have been significantly revamped. Among the buttons you press, however, here are some key highlights to note:

    Heart Strike = where previously this struck up to 2 targets, hitting the second for half damage, HS now strikes up to 3 targets and does not drop off as quickly (25% reduction from one target to the next).

    Death Strike = previously this strike, when talented, would restore 15% of your max health. This will now restore at least 7% of your maximum health, but will attempt to restore 20% of the damage you have taken in the last 5 seconds (scaled by talents up to 29%). That means that if you catch a spike of damage, this ability can scale upwards proportionately to off-set that increased damage. Also worth noting as the glyph will be an easy choice in the new system, the DS glyph will increase damage completely with the full scale of RP (from 0-100 instead of 0-25 for buffing range). When combined with the increased value of spending your RP, you may find you will no longer try to keep above a minimum to get the best possible value out of the glyph.

    Blood Boil = while the ability itself is remaining essentially the same (though with a very pretty new animation when emphasis is turned on, see interface options), this will now tie, with talents, to our version of the enemy damage reduction debuff (new version of Demo Shout). We will also have access to a talent that both buffs the damage and allows us to use BB free of cost when we refresh an active Blood Plague with PS.

    Death and Decay = there are two important changes here, not to the ability itself, but how we use it. First, the ability no longer costs 3 runes, it will only cost one Unholy rune, and will generate RP accordingly. Second, Morbidity no longer reduces the cooldown, but instead increases the damage. This means that we will not be able to use this AoE threat maneuver more than 10 seconds out of every 30 (15 sec with the glyph). Beware and use it with good timing to be sure it is not wasted when you need/want it most.

    Dancing Rune Weapon = what was formerly a DPS-oriented ability at our 51-point talent, with very late expansion tanking applications in WotLK, is now a cool new tank tool. DRW now offers 20% Parry in addition to a 50% mirror to our damage while it is active for 12 sec on a 90 sec CD. With the matching glyph, this also will boost our threat by 50%. The spell still costs 60 RP which can be a bit steep (compared to two RS, each of which has a chance to regenerate runes), but it is definitely a fun tool in the arsenal. For more math on the breakdown, see the Advanced Skills and Concepts section below.

    Rune Strike = First, RS is no longer on-next-swing. RS is now an instant strike meaning you will be inserting this with high priority into your GCD uses. In addition, RS no longer requires you to avoid an attack while in Blood Presence, which means you can use this preferentially over DC in almost every situation. With the new RunEmp-fed resource system, this will be an important tool as it provides the same 45% proc chance at 3/4 the cost of Death Coil.

    Bone Shield = that's right, BONE SHIELD! The former characteristic Unholy ability has been transplanted to the Blood tree and it is ours to use. The spell is unchanged, and does still cost an Unholy rune. To get optimal benefit from this spell be sure to pre-buff early (5 min duration if not consumed, 1 min CD, if you buff 1 min or more before combat, you can have it ready to reapply as soon as you want) and reapply as is reasonable for your need for reduced incoming damage and available resources.

    New and Revamped Mechanics
    There are many tools that you will not press on their own, but it is important to know that they are there:

    Scarlet Fever = previously lamented by many DKs, we now have a Demo Shout analog. With the talent Scarlet Fever, you can now apply the 10% damage dealt reduction debuff with Blood Boil.

    Frost Fever = we still have the 20% attack speed reduction, but no tanks are required to talent any more to get the full version. Frost Fever, Thunderclap, etc all have the full 20% reduction as a base value.

    Scent of Blood = there is no change in the functionality here, but it is worth noting the new relevance. In WotLK, for a Blood tank, this ability had the soul distinction of allowing you to use more DCs. While the RP generation will be slightly lower as you use runes less quickly, the value of RP is significantly increased now that we have both DRW as a tanking ability, and RS can be used freely as resources are available. Without changing the talent itself, Blizzard's changes have made this terribly relevant to Blood tanks.

    Improved Blood Presence = this talent is now mandatory for anyone tanking serious content, and has serious secondary benefits. This is now the source of crit reduction since we no longer add defense to our gear, and will increase rune regeneration speed by 20%. There is no reason not to take this talent.

    Blood Parasites = gone are the squishy little worms of yore, welcome the new pudgy sources of raid support healing! The new worms will path smartly (meaning they will hang out behind the target, not just wherever they pop out), have copious amounts of health (roughly 25% of the DK), and will exchange their old trickle of heals for a new splashy surprise. The worms will now attack their target, gorging themselves until they explode, healing everyone in close proximity for a generous heal. Each attack will grant the worm the ability to heal 10% of their health when they explode. The end result is that when the worms pop they will provide a very generous splash heal on the tank and the melee. This is now a talent very well worth taking.

    Will of the Necropolis = the concept of WotN remains the same, but the application has changed in a fun new way. When your health dips below 30%, three things happen: you receive a refreshed Blood rune, your Rune Tap cooldown is finished, and you receive 25% damage reduction for 8 sec. This can occur once every 45 sec. This means that in addition to giving added protection if your health dips, you are able to instantly prop your health back up by savvy use of Rune Tap. This will not mirror the obvious protection of WotLK's WotN, but remember that health will not have the same fast flash rises and falls most of the time (at least in the Cataclysm endgame), and this ability will appear delightfully useful.

    Crimson Scourge = this is a new talent that is designed to support our AoE and debuff cycle. The talent provides a passive buff to BB damage, and provides a secondary effect. When you reapply diseases (i.e. when you PS a target that already has Blood Plague), you can cast a BB free of cost, allowing you to refresh your damage reduction debuff for free when you reapply diseases.

    Blood Presence = it is not terribly surprising, but a change worth noting. The presences were juggled to reflect the tree-appropriate names. Blood Presence is now the tanking presence, while Frost provides an increase in damage and Unholy still offers hasting effects.

    How does this change the way I play as a Blood Tank?
    If you are already an experienced Blood tank, this is the section for you. If you have tanked, but not as Blood previously, there is a whole guide to fill you in on the new situation.

    Threat Abilities/Priorities:
    First and foremost, your priorities have probably changed very little unless you were doing something weird or special.

    Rune Strike is your best single-target threat move, and should be used early and often as RP allows. It is no longer on-next-swing, so be sure to use it actively. Remember, only queued "sleeper" runes can be refreshed by RunEmp. With this no longer based on a proc, the limiting factor of when you use it should now be only whether RP is available, whether you are reserving RP to use with DRW, and whether or not there are sleeper runes waiting that can be refreshed. The threat will always be a serious value, but the ability to proc a refreshed rune adds a distinct margin to the value of RS, so be mindful of this when you use it. Without a proc-based usage, you cannot waste RS by delaying its use, in all situations. For that reason it is good to be aware of the state of your runes. If you do not have any runes waiting to start their CD, you can delay RS to get better value out of it.

    Heart Strike is still your strongest single-target rune-costing damage/threat ability, and will be the default use for Blood and Death runes if you have no other concerns. This also now hits 3 targets and does not fall off as quickly, so it will easily supplant Blood Boil for threat when you are tanking only 1-3 targets, possibly 4 if you are savvy at swapping targets (even on 4 targets it can keep a total damage/threat edge, but you run the risk of not threatening a target if you are not careful).

    Blood Boil will remain your key tool for spreading threat around to unlimited targets when you have high enemy counts, but those situations should be uncommon comparatively once you move into the Cataclysm world. This will be most reliably used as an application for the damage reduction debuff. DnD will still support multi-target threat, but remember to use it at the right time as you will always be waiting on the full 30 sec CD.

    Disease application is still important and should be done early. At level 81 you receive a new tool to apply diseases, Outbreak. This can be reserved as a tool for quick pick-ups or coverage when you accidentally let diseases fall off, or it can be used to start fights. Note: Outbreak deals zero threat. If you use Outbreak to start a fight, you will suffer one or two GCDs with no damage/threat done whatsoever as you apply diseases and spread them. This *might* make it worthwhile using IT/PS to start a fight, but you can make good use of the quick diseases if you are smart and your DPS aren't too jumpy. Mid-fight, with the use of Crimson Scourge, you will want to use PS/IT so long as you are maintaining the damage reduction debuff. There has been a popular style at level 80 to not use Diseases while tanking. This is a careful decision to make. You will lose some threat from diseases and the tanking debuffs, but you *may* be able to accomplish more total threat because of the simplified move usage. Should you choose to employ this method, make sure you are covering the missing buffs where possible.

    Dancing Rune Weapon can be a quality threat buff, and a powerful survival buff. Use it wisely and use it, perhaps more often than you would be inclined to. With the glyph, the threat gained will be a very useful burst.

    When it comes to threat, the best advice I can give is to be patient and tactical in your choices. The new system does *not* reward hasty moves above all else. Runes will not waste if you have one set on CD, if you delay a moment to use them. Timing is more important than ever.

    Defensive Abilities: When did I get so many buttons?!
    The new Blood tank has an arsenal of survival tools! Let's look at them all quickly:
    • Icebound Fortitude = talented to be free of cost, 50% damage reduction, for a 12 sec duration on a 3 min CD.
    • Anti-Magic Shell = 5 seconds of 75% magic damage reduction up to a maximum of 50% of the tank's health, on a 45 sec CD. This no longer costs resources.
    • Vampiric Blood = now free of cost, you receive a 15% health bump and a 25% increase to healing received for 10 sec on a 1 min CD. Glyphing this will remove the health bump, but increase the healing received buff to 40%.
    • Bone Shield = for one Unholy rune you get 3 charges for your Bone Shield. While the shield is active you take 20% less damage from all sources and get a 2% increase to damage done. Charges can be consumed on an internal CD of approximately 2 - 2.5 sec. Without consumption of charges the shield will last 5 min with a 1 min CD. Glyphing this will no longer increase charges, but instead give you a movement speed buff (non-stacking).
    • Dancing Rune Weapon = for 60 RP you gain a floating duplicate of your weapon for 12 sec on a 1.5 min CD. This weapon will duplicate every attack you make, dealing 50% of your damage on each hit. It will also protect you, effectively increasing your Parry chance by 20%. If you glyph this spell it will buff your threat by 50% for the duration.

    We have several tools, both baseline tools with no cost, and special tools with special costs. We also still have our self-healing abilities to rely on, now with new tweaks:
    • Rune Tap = this ability is now tied as a pre-requisite to WotN, making it significantly more valuable and less likely to be overlooked by Blood tanks. It has also lost its additional talent point costs and gives you a 10% heal every 30 sec for the one point invested.
    • Death Strike = the purpose of the strike remains the same, delivering decent damage, but a significant heal. It has new embellishments though that allow for significant scaling of its value. First, the strike will heal for a minimum of 7% of your maximum health, but will be able to scale upwards to provide a heal equal to 29% of the damage you have taken in the last 5 seconds. This means if you are taking heavy damage in a raid, the value of Death Strike will scale up nicely to match. On top of this, the Blood tree's Mastery is the Blood Shield proc. When you use DS you will receive a bubble equal to a proportion of the heal that will be attempted (i.e. it works on the total heal, not the effective heal). This value starts at 50% of the heal and increases by 6.25% per point of Mastery (*not* Mastery rating).
    • Blood Parasites = the heal from these parasites may not be enormous on you in proportion, but their value is definitely present, and their raid value is more significant still. Do not discount these for your own sake, but remember that they are affecting much more than you.

    All tolled, we have a strong arsenal of survival abilities, and it will be well worth your while to use them smartly. Blizzard has openly admitted that because of our copious ability to restore health, we are being balanced to take a bit more damage than other tanks. With smart use of our abilities, we can be very strong and very sturdy tanks. If our abilities are under-used for our survival, we can be potentially more squishy and do our groups a disservice.
    Last edited by Satorri; 12-01-2010 at 09:19 AM.
    The (Old) Book on Death Knight Tanking
    The New Testament on Death Knight Tanking
    Quote Originally Posted by Horacio View Post
    Who f-ing divided by zero?!?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    The Power System: Runes and Runic Power

    The Death Knight class has easily the most complex power system of any of the 10 classes. That said, within the complex system there is a high level of dynamic interplay that allows the resources to be a mini-game all its own.

    The Rune bar consists of 6 single runes in 3 pairs: Blood, Frost, and Unholy runes. At the base you will regenerate one rune of each type at a time with a 10 sec refresh timer. That means that if you spend one Blood rune it will immediately start refreshing and will be ready to be used again in 10 seconds. If you use the second rune at any time during this 10 seconds, the rune will wait until the actively refreshing rune is done its cooldown before starting its own 10 second refresh. This cooldown is also affected by Haste, which provides substantially more value than Death Knights have gotten previously from Haste.

    The new rune system has an essential benefit over the old system: because the second rune will always wait for the active refreshing rune to finish its cooldown, it doesn't matter if you use that rune with 10 seconds remaining on the other's refresh, or at 2 seconds. In the old system if you didn't use the rune as soon as it was available you were setting your pace back and losing potential value. This allows for more spaces in rune spending than before without losing any of your peak value.

    Runic Power is a semi-secondary resource that behaves like Rage for Warriors and Bear Druids. Runic Power (RP) is generated on a default-to-zero scale to 100 that will degenerate over time when you are out of combat. Using abilities that cost runes will generate RP at a rate of 10 RP per rune, and Horn of Winter will generate 10 RP when used.

    A key new ability has been added in the redesign of the Rune system for Cataclysm: Runic Empowerment. Runic Empowerment gives all Death Knights a 45% chance when they use Death Coil, Frost Strike, or Rune Strike to regenerate a queued, "sleeper" rune. So, any rune that is waiting for its matching pair to finish its cooldown can be refreshed by this passive ability. This ability has a great deal of significance because it changes the dynamic of the system. Where in Wrath of the Lich King Death Knights would consider RP generally as an afterthought, a byproduct to be dumped when there was opportunity (usually when runes were not available). Runic Empowerment creates a symbiotic loop. These refreshes will also create a degree of randomness, where you cannot fully predict what resources will be available next unless you play the system very carefully (and possibly to the detriment of your interests).

    The Symbiotic Loop
    Using a rune generates Runic Power. Spending RP on core abilities (each spec still has a spell that will consume RP with no chance to proc Runic Empowerment) will give a chance to regenerate a rune. This creates a loop wherein your abilities will feed into using each other. Consider the math for a moment:

    1 rune = 10 RP
    40 or 30 RP will give a 45% chance to regain 1 rune

    If we use a grand statistical average (meaning lots and lots of repetition, results in localized small numbers of uses will vary from this point), that means:

    Death Coil or non-glyphed Frost Strike (40 RP) ==> 89 RP = 1 rune
    Frost Strike, glyphed (32 RP) ==> 71 RP = 1 rune
    Rune Strike (30 RP) ==> 67 RP = 1 rune

    I will discuss this significance in greater detail in the Advanced Concepts section.

    The take-home points here are, beyond spec-specific concerns:
    1.) Delay using RP dumping abilities (DC, FS, RS) until there are sleeper runes waiting to start their cooldown.
    2.) Do not leave Runic Power as an afterthought while focusing on rune abilities. Any rune that has a paired rune on cooldown will not be wasted in any measure by being delayed. Runic Power gained when the gauge is maxed out is wasted. It is possible to become locked out of runes and RP if you spend all your runes and are unlucky with your RP moves afterward. If you have runes that can be refreshed by Runic Empowerment, refreshing them midstream can encourage a moving cycle.
    4.) Don't over-think this until/unless you are comfortable with the system. Use your abilities strategically, and patiently.

    I will discuss this with more specific relevance to Blood Death Knights when I discuss spells and talents.
    Last edited by Satorri; 12-01-2010 at 07:59 AM.
    The (Old) Book on Death Knight Tanking
    The New Testament on Death Knight Tanking
    Quote Originally Posted by Horacio View Post
    Who f-ing divided by zero?!?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Specs, Glyphs, and Play Styles

    Blood is now the dedicated tanking tree for Death Knights. That makes this section much simpler than it did in my previous edition. I will only discuss the mainstream tanking elements here, which is to say Blood-centric tanking. Please do not take that as a message that you cannot tank otherwise, always be creative if you have a mind to. Because of the dedicated tanking tree design, however, Frost and Unholy will not be able to support deep end-game tanking for a heavy lack of tools to contribute to survival.


    The new 31 point talent trees simplify things, but they also have a nice degree of room for varying choices. These choices will specialize your skill set towards single-target threat, multi-target threat, or tanking utility. The defensive talents are powerful enough that you should consider carefully before not taking any them, none of them are truly sub-standard.

    Congratulations, you have selected the Blood Tree, you now receive the following gifts:
    Heart Strike = this will be your core Blood rune, threat ability. It hits for more than Blood Strike, and will cleave up to 2 additional targets (losing 25% on each additional jump, or 75% damage on the second target and 56.25% damage on the third). Note: each incidence of damage is based on the first but individually buffed by diseases, you do not get compounding value on each additional jump.

    Veteran of the 3rd War = +9% Stamina and 6 Expertise (skill, not rating, and that is a good thing) are yours to keep.

    Blood Rites (Death Rune Mastery) = when you use Obliterate or Death Strike the Frost/Unholy runes used for the ability will become Death runes (wild card runes that can be used as Blood, Frost, or Unholy). These runes will not last indefinitely, but they should last more than long enough to matter within any given encounter, and will often bridge to the next.

    Vengeance = the new tank scaling ability that all tanks receive. When you take damage, 5% of that damage is added to your total attack power. The total benefit of Vengeance is capped at 10% of your maximum health. This allows tanks to add a scaling factor for longterm threat, based on their health (which will primarily scale with content/gear level).

    Mastery = Blood Shield = When you use Death Strike you create an absorptive shield on yourself. The shield will absorb a static amount equal to 50% of the total heal value (*not* the effective heal value, so regardless of whether or not you need the healing, you will get the full shield size). That percentage is increased by 6.5% per point of Mastery skill, or ~179.5 Mastery rating. This shield does not stack with previous incidences of the buff. More on this below.

    In addition to these core passive buffs, we have the optional investment of talents. The tree behaves the same way as older versions where it take 5 points to fill a tier and move to the next one. In addition, the new system will lock you into your tree until you have spent 31 points. These can be any 31 points and do not have to go to the bottom of the tree, but the 31 point talents in every class and spec's talents are worthy abilities, and Blood is no exception. This will leave 5 additional points to spend at level 80, and 10 additional points at 85.

    I will discuss the specific value of each talent below, but as a general guideline:
    Osyras says:
    When making a talent spec for any class, take only what you *need* to first. Make hard choices with the most desirable talents first, and fill in points in the other attractive talents when you have extra points or the talents passed up become more attractive than later tier talents. I will add editorial lines to each tier's decisions to illustrate this process.
    Tier 1
    Butchery = when you deal the a killing blow that yields experience or honor, you get 10/20 RP. You also generate 1/2 RP every 5 seconds while in combat. Do not expect to get killing blows often as a tank, that RP generation will be rare and unreliable. The passive generation will give you 12/24 RP per minute.

    Blade Barrier = when both of your Blood runes are on cooldown, you get a 2/4/6% damage reduction buff for 10 seconds. It does not matter if the Blood runes are currently Death runes, those specific rune slots will be the deciding factor. This will frequently be refreshed as you will often have one rune on cooldown in the middle of combat, and using the other will refresh it.

    Bladed Armor = this passive buff grants you 2/4/6 AP for every 180 Armor you have. This is applied to the final armor value provided by Blood Presence, and so, it scales very favorably for tanks.
    Choosing in tier 1. Butchery is a weak value overall as a PvE-oriented tank. The passive generation is slight, and as tanks we rarely get killing blows, definitely not enough to get consistent generation. Bladed Armor and Blade Barrier are both exceptional, and you will likely fill them later, but you can put 2/3 in whichever category feels less pressing for you to start: threat (Bladed Armor) or survival (Blade Barrier).
    Tier 2
    Improved Blood Tap = Reduces the cooldown on Blood Tap by 15/30 sec.

    Hand of Doom = Reduces the cooldown on Strangulate by 30/60 sec.

    Scent of Blood = Gives a 15% chance when you Dodge, Parry, or take direct damage to generate 10 RP on your next 1/2/3 auto-swing(s). Dodge, Parry, and taking damage covers the majority of the outcomes you could have. The only exception to that is miss which should be about 5% or less. Essentially, you have a 14-15% chance every time someone attacks you to proc this buff. If you are being attacked by one enemy every 2 seconds, that will be roughly 4.5 procs per minute (on a large average) for 45/90/135 RP per minute generated. If those procs are perfectly spaced they would be 15 sec apart, and you would have plenty of time to get 1/2/3 swings off before the next proc (with a ~3 sec swing timer that is a 9-11 sec window for 3/3). In reality the procs can come closer together. The more points you place in the talent, the higher the likelihood is you will clip that. Conveniently, however, the additional procs will stack up to a maximum of 3, so you have some protection. 2/3 is often a safe spending to rarely waste procs *but* you will still generate more RP if you take 3/3, just not necessarily the full point's worth compared to the first 2 points.

    Scarlet Fever = Grants your Blood Boil a 50/100% chance to apply Scarlet Fever on all opponents it hits. Scarlet Fever will reduce physical damage dealt by 10% for 30 sec.
    Scarlet Fever is the easy take here unless you are totally confident that you will have another group member providing that debuff. This is a significant survival value to leave off entirely. Scent of Blood is a very important value now to support the use of RP abilities in the symbiotic loop between RP and Runes. 2/3 is an optimal investment, though 3/3 will generate more RP. Improved Blood Tap is a prime value for a tank in terms of reliability; this is a talent to take to make sure you can far more frequently free up a rune when you need it. The free Death rune is also ideal for reapplying Bone Shield or using Rune Tap quickly. Hand of Doom is a strong utility, but is best left as a talent to come back to if you have some swing points. It is most ideal for reining in casters. I would recommend filling Scarlet Fever first, unless your raid is handling it elsewhere, followed by 2/3 in SoB, followed by 2/2 in Blood Tap. I would finish Bladed Armor or Scent of Blood if you do not take Scarlet Fever.
    Tier 3
    Blood-Caked Blade = Your auto-attacks have a 10/20/30% chance to generate a bonus strike. This strike will deal 25% weapon damage, plus 12.5% for each of your diseases on the target. This strike will have no effect on your auto-swings or special abilities and will not consume a SoB charge. Assuming 100% uptime on diseases this represents a 5% increase in auto-swing damage per point.

    Bone Shield = at the cost of 1 Unholy rune you get a shield similar to a Shaman's shield with three Bone charges. So long as at least one charge remains, you take 20% less damage from all sources and deal 2% more damage. The shield will last 5 min if the charges are not consumed and the ability has a 1 min cooldown. Charges will be consumed when you take damage, but they have a ~2.5 sec internal cooldown for charge consumption. For that reason this is far more effective against multiple simultaneous damage sources and stacked damage components (for example, a melee strike that also does spell damage on hit, each individual damage component will be reduced).

    Toughness = increases non-bonus armor by 3/7/10%. Bonus armor is any armor value on necks, rings, weapons, or trinkets, and any armor on gear that appears green (you can find the base and bonus by subtracting the green value from a piece for the same slot with the same item level and armor weight). This ability does stack multiplicatively with Blood Presence's armor buff, and the buff from the Stoneskin Gargoyle weapon rune.

    Abomination's Might = all raid members within 100 yards receive +10% AP, and increases the Death Knight's Strength by 1/2%. This is the same buff provided by Marksman Hunters, Enhancement Shamans, and Blessing of Might from Paladins. These buffs are exclusive and do not stack.
    Bone Shield is a useful and powerful cooldown, and at one point it is a very easy investment. Toughness is also a key passive buff for tanks and should not be left out, unless you are actively sabotaging your survival value to accomplish something. Abom's Might is a very available raid buff. The passive Strength buff is not sufficient to make this a decisive value on its own, it is only a bonus value if you take this to benefit your group. Blood-Caked Blade is a strong single-target threat value, but with the copious other values available on this tier, it is easy for it to take last priority. Bladed Armor will be better, point for point, than Blood-Caked Blade, so be sure that is maxed out before you put any points in BCB.
    Tier 4
    Sanguine Fortitude = increases the damage reduction of Icebound Fortitude by an additional 10/20%, and reduces the cost by 50/100%. This converts the base ability with 30% reduction and a 20 RP cost, to a powerhouse 50% reduction for no cost.

    Improved Blood Presence = Reduces your chance to be critically hit by 3/6%, and you retain 2/4% of the damage reduction from Blood Presence while in Frost/Unholy Presence. Each point will also increase your rune regeneration rate by 10% for a total of 20% for 2 points spent.

    Blood Parasites = your melee strikes have a 5/10% chance to spawn a Bloodworm. The worm will have roughly 25% of your maximum health, and will behave like a smart guardian (you will not be able to control them but they will position behind the enemy). The worms will attack the enemy, gorging themselves, until they explode. Their explosion will heal any nearby party/raid members for 10% of the worm's health per stack (2.5% of your maximum health). The worms can last up to 20 sec and multiple worms can be spawned at a time.
    Improved Blood Presence is non-negotiable for any endgame tank as being able to be critically hit is extremely dangerous and hard on your healers, and the rune haste will likely make it a non-choice for anyone spec'd into Blood. Sanguine Fortitude is likewise a huge value as it turns your IBF into a serious tanking tool. Blood Parasites in its new incarnation is a great raid value, and even a nice hedging value for you as a tank. That said, it will have to take a third priority to the other two talents on this tier. It is an excellent filler value to come back to with spare points, however.
    Tier 5
    Vampiric Blood = Grants the Death Knight 15% additional maximum health and increases all healing taken by 25% for 10 sec, on a 1 min cooldown. At the end of the duration the bonus health is lost.

    Rune Tap = for one Blood rune you regenerate 10% of your maximum health. This ability has a 30 sec cooldown and does not use a GCD. This is required to take Will of the Necropolis.

    Will of the Necropolis = When a damaging attack brings you below 30% of your maximum health you receive a buff which reduces all damage taken by 8/16/25% for 8 sec. Your Rune Tap cooldown will also be finished and Blood rune will be refreshed. This cannot occur more than once every 45 sec.
    This tier is packed to the gills with fantastic tank value. Vamp Blood is the DK's equivalent to Survival Instincts or Last Stand, with the key exception that the DK gets less health increase but receives an improvement to healing taken. This two-fold buff actually double-buffs the DK's own self-healing tools which are all based on his total health. Rune Tap is a strong ability on its own, but it is also required to take WotN which is also a very useful tool. WotN plays an essential role in Blood's design. Blood tanks are balanced to take slightly more damage, but counter that with self-healing. WotN acts as a safety net when the tank drops too low to make them easier to pick up and harder to kill.
    Tier 6
    Improved Death Strike = increases the damage and healing from Death Strike by 15/30/45%, and increases the ability's chance to critically hit by 3/6/9%.

    Crimson Scourge = increases the damage dealt by Blood Boil by 20/40%. When you use Plague Strike on a target already infected with Blood Plague, your next Blood Boil cast will have a 50/100% chance to not cost runes.
    Improved Death Strike is an easy take and a no brainer as it buffs both your threat and your survival (Blood Shield/Self-heal). Crimson Scourge will be a more negotiable value. The damage bonus to Blood Boil is strong, but with Heart Strike hitting 3 targets and the new climate focusing less on tanks taking large groups, that will be a less essential value. The secondary effect will allow you to keep Scarlet Fever up for free on longer fights, provided you take Scarlet Fever and reapply diseases manually. If you do not take Scarlet Fever the only value from this is primarily a buff to large group tanking.
    Tier 7 - the 31 pt Talent
    Dancing Rune Weapon = this ability has been given both damage and survival value. For 60 RP you receive a cloned copy of your weapon that follows you around for 12 sec on a 1 min cooldown. This weapon will mirror your auto and special attacks but will only do 50% damage with its versions. The weapon's damage does not count as your own threat, but when glyphed the ability will grant a threat bonus to the tank. The ability will also increase your parry chance by 20% while active.
    DRW is a worthwhile threat *and* survival tool, and is certainly worth taking. The only drawback to the ability is the RP cost which will inhibit RS usage and the Runic Empowerment cycle. This is a very good reason to make the most of Scent of Blood for RP gain.
    Additional Talents from Frost and Unholy
    Note: the current Frost Talents in Tier 1 are lackluster at best for tanks. Runic Power Mastery should never be used as you should be using RP long before you reach the cap. Icy Reach will allow you to IT from a longer range, but that is a barely noticeable value in most situations for a PvE tank. Blood will perform very subpar while dual wielding, so most Blood Tanks will not do so, making Nerves of Cold Steel a non-value. Increasing the damage of Obliterate with Annihilation could/should be unused as Death Strike with talents will hit very hard and provide the added healing and protection value. The status protection of On a Pale Horse fits far better in PvP than PvE, and while it may not be totally without value, it is expensive to get. Endless Winter provides a nice resource cost reduction, but as with the previous two, it is very expensive to reach through unattractive talents.
    Unholy Command = reduces the cooldown of Death Grip to 25/20 sec and gives a 50/100% chance to refresh the cooldown when you deal a killing blow that yields experience or honor.

    Virulence = reduces your chance to miss with spells (i.e. any ability that isn't -strike or done with a weapon) by 2/4/6%.

    Epidemic = increases the duration of your diseases to 25/29/33 sec.
    Epidemic is an easy choice as it allows you to stretch out your disease duration an insert more abilities into the space before you have to refresh them. 2/3 will almost sync the duration with Scarlet Fever if you have it, but there is no reason not to take 3/3. Virulence is nice but we do not rely heavily on spell damage for threat, only IT and DC will be particularly noticeably affected by this talent. Unholy Command is a worthwhile filler should you choose to try to reach Tier 2 in Unholy. You should not expect to get killing blows often, but having a taunt more frequently available is not bad. Note: Death Grip currently has a minimum range, meaning that you can only use it to pull back things at range, or you need to be tricky and step out of melee range to grab something you are attacking.
    Morbidity = increases the damage/healing of Death Coil by 5/10/15% and the damage of Death and Decay by 10/20/30%.

    Desecration = Plague Strike will create a melee range patch within which enemies movement speeds are slowed by 25/50% for 20 sec.

    Resilient Infection = if your diseases are dispelled you have a 50/100% chance to regenerate a rune appropriate to re-apply the disease was removed. In other words, if both diseases are dispelled, you instantly refresh a Frost and Unholy rune. Note: this does not apply to diseases that are "removed" from a target that becomes immune (such as through Hand of Protection or Cloak of Shadows), only ones that are dispelled.
    Resilient Infection will be generally wasted in PvE as there are very rare mobs that dispel diseases. Desecration can make a nice utility should you choose to reach for it, but there are more central values that *might* be more appealing. Morbidity is appealing, but only a half-used talent as the new system allows you to use RS at all times, leaving DC only a utility for ranged damage/threat. As such, Morbidity will be a surplus multi-target threat buff of moderate value.
    There is a special spec that is being tested for value right now. This spec takes Lichborne in Frost tier 2 to create a sort of indirect survival tool. While under the effects of Lichborne you are classified as Undead. Because of this you can target yourself (and other DKs can target you) with Death Coil to deliver a heal. In order to get full value, there are a lot of things that need to happen: the tank and/or other DKs in the group need to save up RP, and everyone needs to be ready to hit the tank with DC when she uses the ability. Lichborne has a 10 sec duration and a 2 min CD. The more you use DC, the more value you get, but note that saving up for this can inhibit your RunEmp cycle before hand (and provide proc potential, but at a reduced rate because of DC's higher cost). This saving actually gives value to Runic Power Mastery where there would not have been much before. RPM will allow you to save up for a full 3 DCs instead of just 2. The conditional nature of this spec may make it less appealing to people who do not have a well-coordinated group with at least a couple DKs including the tank.

    So, based on the above, I would recommend this as a core skeleton:

    Where Scarlet Fever or Abom's Might are interchangeable (points are in Scarlet Fever in the link), or if you have both covered by others, you can place the points in Blood-Caked Blade for threat or Hand of Doom for utility. At least one of the two points will have to be put on the first 3 tiers.

    I would recommend placing the remaining 10 points in:
    • (3) Epidemic for baseline play support.
    • (2) Unholy Command if you want to build to Unholy tier 2.
    • (3) Morbidity followed by Crimson Scourge for the sake of multi-target threat.
    • (2) Crimson Scourge to support Scarlet Fever for raiding.
    • (2) Scarlet Fever and/or Abom's Might to add insurance to your raids buffs if needed (10-mans particularly)
    • (3) Blood-Caked Blade to support single-target threat.


    There are three levels of glyphs: Prime, Major, and Minor. Prime Glyphs are unequivocal buffs to your major abilities. Major buffs may enhance the way you use abilities or adjust their niche slightly. Minor glyphs have small effects that just make your life easier. For Blood Tanks, the following glyphs are best suited to help.

    Death Strike = increases the damage dealt by DS by 2% per 5 RP (up to a maximum of 40%). That means at 5 RP you'll get 2% bonus damage and at 100 RP you'll get 40% bonus damage. With this full scale, it is not really reasonable to try and leave your RP maxed out to get the full buff. It may make it worth while to use DS *before* you RS, however, just to get the optimal value available at the time. It is not worth delaying or avoiding using RS to increase your DS damage however. This does *not* buff the heal, only the damage.

    Heart Strike = increases HS damage by 30%.

    Rune Strike = increases your critical strike chance with RS by 10%.

    Death and Decay = increases the duration of DnD by 50% (to 15 sec on a 30 sec cooldown).
    Rune Strike and Heart Strike are major values, and easy to take. HS will be powerful for single- and multi-target threat, while RS will be a central ability for single-target threat. DS will come in third in value as it only buffs single-target and not quite as reliably as RS, but it should not be under-valued. If you want to support more multi-target threat, you can glyph DnD in place of DS for more diverse value. Expect DS to outpace DnD on single targets every time however.
    Dancing Rune Weapon = increases threat generation by 50% while DRW is active.

    Vampiric Blood = increases the healing received by 15% (to 40%), but Vamp Blood no longer increases your maximum health.

    Rune Tap = Rune Tap also heals your party for 5% of their maximum health.

    Bone Shield = increases your movement speed by 15% when Bone Shield is active. Does not stack with other movement speed increasing effects.

    Blood Boil, Pestilence, Death Grip = increases the range/radius of the ability by 5 yards.

    Anti-Magic Shell = increases the duration of the shell by 2 sec (to 7 sec total).

    Strangulate = increases the silence duration by 2 sec if used on a target casting a spell.
    Dancing Rune Weapon is a very nice value, particularly if you are using DRW with some regularity/comfort. Rune Tap can be nice for a group buffing value, particularly if you are in the same raid party as the other tank(s). Note: it is only party-wide, not raid wide. In the new health/healing climate, that healing could be valuable and welcome. Bone Shield is a red herring for tanks, as it is very easy to get either a Mastery or Stamina buff with a run speed increase for enchantments to your boots. Anti-Magic Shell may be a decent value if you are not strong with timing, or are soaking less than what will consume your cap from a damaging over time. The Vamp Blood glyph will change the nature of the buff and should be taken with careful consideration. Some situations will be benefited more by an increase in maximum health and the unglyphed state will benefit your self-healing more as it will apply the two factors multiplicatively (for a 43.75% increase. However, in a raid situation you will receive a greater portion of healing from your healers, and a 40% buff will create a greater buff for them. The trade off should consider whether the health margin is helping you in a meaningful enough way to keep it Beyond these considerations you can get some small range/coverage benefits.
    Blood Tap = removes the damage cost of using Blood Tap.

    Resilient Grip = if you Death Grip something that is immune, it resets the cooldown (meaning you cannot waste your cooldown on something that cannot be pulled).

    Raise Ally = increases the health of your Risen Ally by 25% and its run speed by 15%.

    Horn of Winter = increases the duration of HoW by 1 min (to 3 min).

    Path of Frost = allows you to fall from a slightly greater distance without suffering damage.
    Blood Tap is an easy strong choice as, particularly with Imp Blood Tap, we will use this ability often. The health cost is not significant, but every little bit helps. Resilient Grip is a nice utility for preserving the cooldown, but naturally not a big deal. Raise Ally can be a nice value if you use it, as can Path of Frost. Horn of Winter's RP generation is helpful enough that you may find yourself refreshing it more often than 2 min, but the longer duration can help in any situation where you are not regularly on top of people you are trying to buff. There aren't really any poor choices for minor glyphs, though you may find Death's Embrace unattractive, since you won't want to spend RP to keep a ghoul alive.
    Note: You can now learn glyphs and carry the capacity always. You only need Vanishing Powder at level 80 and Dust of Disappearance at level 81-85 to remove the old glyph and place a new one. These materials can be made with Inscription and carried with you, and the glyphs can be applied anywhere out of combat and arenas/battlegrounds.
    Last edited by Satorri; 12-01-2010 at 09:20 AM.
    The (Old) Book on Death Knight Tanking
    The New Testament on Death Knight Tanking
    Quote Originally Posted by Horacio View Post
    Who f-ing divided by zero?!?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Priority - How to use your Skills

    I will split this into two sections: threat and survival. I will trust that you will figure out the appropriate balance of the two depending on the situation, as the need of each will vary from fight to fight and group to group.

    As Blood we will rely primarily on the following abilities to generate threat and hold the attention of our enemies:
    • Heart Strike = 1 Blood rune, hits up to 3 targets (100%, 75%, and 56.25% damage).
    • Rune Strike = 30 RP, single target, best single-hit threat on one target, 45% chance to refresh a queued sleeper rune.
    • Death Strike = 1 Frost, 1 Unholy rune, converts FU pair into Death runes, adds survival value, discussed below.
    • Blood Boil = 1 Blood rune, hits an unlimited number of targets. Applies Scarlet Fever if talented. Hits softer than HS.
    • Death and Decay = 1 Unholy rune, unlimited targets, point and set selected zone. 10 sec duration (15 glyphed) with a 30 sec cooldown.
    • Icy Touch, Plague Strike, Outbreak, Pestilence = the disease tools. IT/PS will apply diseases individually, and deal damage but not competitive damage on their own to other abilities. Disease buffing is important to HS and BB threat. Outbreak will instantly apply both diseases at range, but will deal no damage.
    Heart Strike will be your strongest rune-cost ability for threat and your Blood/Death runes will be used for this for the sake of threat. Death Strike will be your best threat ability to use for FU pairs, particularly when you factor in the cross-over survival value. Death Strike will sometimes be used on Death runes for survival value. Death Strike *may* also surpass the threat of HS when the heal value is fully used, and you are fighting a single target (healing threat is split over all targets in combat, and overhealing causes no threat).

    RS is your strongest threat ability and the single best way to use your RP. DC should only be used in situations demanding ranged threat as it will cost 33% more and hit for less threat.

    DnD is a strong multi-target threat tool, but can only have a 50% uptime at most and must be placed. If you have to constantly move around it may not be as powerful, but if you have the ability to stand in the same rough area, this is your primary threat tool. If you take Crimson Scourge Blood Boil will be a strong support, otherwise it will be rather weaker, but still your only option on target counts higher than 4. On 4-5 or fewer targets, HS will be a superior ability for overall threat, but require target swapping to make sure it is well-dispersed where needed.

    Diseases should be placed early and refreshed promptly. Disease damage/threat is not so significant that you need to worry about clipping their durations (i.e. refreshing before they fall off). If you have Crimson Scourge and Scarlet Fever, refreshing with PS will always be preferable on any fight where you will get ongoing value from damage reduction. Outbreak can be a handy utility or a quick start tool, but be careful of how and when you use it deals no threat on its own. It is possible to do well without diseases, but should you choose to do so, you need to be conscious of covering the tank debuffs that you will drop, and conduct your own tests to see if *you* can generate more threat with the simpler move set (not everyone will).

    Dark Simulacrum is a new ability at level 85. It will not negate a spell the way Spell Reflect for Warriors can, but it will allow the Death Knight to copy the spell and use it themselves. Remember to watch for spells used by the enemy, it does not have to have a cast time for you to copy it, so if you learn the visual queues you can spot instant casts as well.

    For survival purposes you will use the following 7 active abilities (plus one special and infrequent ability):
    • Icebound Fortitude (IBF) = talented this becomes a 50% reduction of all damage for 12 sec on a 3 min cooldown, for no cost.
    • Anti-Magic Shell = for 5 sec all magic damage (read: non-physical damage) is reduced by 75%, or until the shell absorbs 50% of your maximum health. 45 sec cooldown, costs no resources.
    • Vampiric Blood = for 10 sec your maximum health is increased by 15% and all healing effects on you (from your own abilities and items and outside sources) are increased by 25%. 1 min cooldown, costs no resources. When glyphed this ability no longer increases your maximum health, but instead increases all healing done to you by 40%.
    • Bone Shield = 1 Unholy rune gives you 3 charges/bones. So long as at least one bone remains the shield will grant 20% damage reduction and a 2% increase in damage dealt. The charges have a 2.5 sec ICD and the shield will last 5 min if the charges are not consumed, and the ability has a 1 min cooldown.
    • Dancing Rune Weapon = 60 RP will give you a bonus to damage and parry chance. For 12 sec, on a 1 min cooldown, this spell will grant you 20% additional chance to parry and create a guardian pet that will match every move you use but deal 50% of the damage you do (note: the guardian will continue to auto-attack even if you cannot). If glyphed, this will also increase your threat dealt by 50% when used.
    • Rune Tap = instantly converts one Blood rune into 10% health restored on a 30 sec cooldown. This spell does *not* use your GCD (meaning it can be cast simultaneously with other spells).
    • Death Strike = for 1 Frost and 1 Unholy rune, this ability heals the Death Knight for at least 7% of her maximum health, but as much as 20% of the damage the tank has taken in the last 5 sec. Talented, that becomes up to 29% of the damage taken in the last 5 sec. Note: this is not a random range, the heal will try to match the percentage of damage taken but will not heal for less than the minimum value. Blood Shield will grant the tank a bubble equal to 50%, plus 6.5% per Mastery skill point, of the total heal. The size of the bubble is not reduced by overhealing (i.e. the bubble is based on the total heal, *not* the effective heal).
    • *Army of the Dead* = for 1 of each of the 3 rune types you will perform a 6 sec channel to summon 8 minions. While channeling the tank will have all damage taken reduced by a percentage equal to the sum of your dodge and parry chance. Once active, the minions will also taunt and attempt to tank anything that is not a raid boss. Note: be careful about using this on any non-raid boss that has position-specific concerns like Dragons with breath weapons, tail swipes, and cleaves; the ghouls will cause the enemy to move and point in semi-unpredictable directions which can cause chaos and unneeded group damage.
    Simple Directives:
    On entering combat, your priorities should be as follows:
    1.) Apply diseases. Outbreak can make a quick opener and allow you to keep a full set of 6 runes to open with harder hitting abilities like HS and DS. Be careful that your ranged DPS do not just start shooting off of the pull however as you will have no threat on your 30 yd ranged pull. Refresh diseases, do not proceed with core abilities other than RS or DS if you do not have your diseases active.

    2*.) If you are providing Scarlet Fever, use BB early and keep the damage reduction debuff active. This is done for survival sake, but it will specifically displace threat priorities.

    3.) HS is your best fall-back ability for threat. If you have no need of healing or preventative bubbling, use HS for your Blood and Death runes.

    4.) When in doubt, DS! DS on any free FU pairs. DS if you have Death runes but want the healing and/or bubble (it will refresh them still as Death runes, not an FU pair).

    5.) DnD if you have multiple targets you are collecting that can be kept in the same predictable location, or if you have adds streaming in from a predictable location and you want to make sure they are flagged to you. Note: the damage is not significant enough to lock them to you if they only take a tick or two, but it will give them a reason to look at you if nothing else has touched them, and enough to keep them from attacking the healer if there is not too much healing and sufficient numbers of enemies to disperse the threat.

    6.) Use BB in place of HS if you have more than 4-5 targets that you are actively tanking.

    7.) Dark Simulacrum can be a HUGE value if it is used on the right spell. Keep your eyes open for abilities that can be powerful to reproduce. This can be a useful utility, but it could also be a big threat tool in specific circumstances, do not underestimate this value.

    For Protection:
    1.) Use IBF when you are taking or about to take a heavy burst of damage. The catch-all damage reduction will make you far more easy to heal. Learn the dungeons and raids so you know the most appropriate times to use this, and otherwise use it any time you expect to need to be easier to keep alive (i.e. accidentally pulled a second group, a healer was killed or incapacitated, your health dipped particularly low and your healers are struggling to pick you back up). Note: this does not require a GCD or resources, so it can be used at any moment it is needed when it is off of cooldown.

    2.) Use Vamp Blood more frequently than it is strictly needed. Look for periods of increased need of healing or reduced availability of healers, or in similar emergencies as described for IBF. Note: this does not require a GCD or resources, so it can be used at any moment it is needed when it is off of cooldown.

    3.) AMS has a relatively short cooldown and can be a fantastic tool to soften the burst of magic damage effects, *or* it can make damage over time or aura ticks a non-issue for a short window. Another very important aspect of AMS is that it will block the application of many negative effects, both DoTs and status effects. Figure out the best timing to use this to soften bursts of damage, but do not otherwise concern yourself with saving this for emergencies. It will refresh more than often enough to let you cover yourself frequently.

    4.) DS often, but try not to DS twice in immediate succession when you can help it, unless you are taking sufficient damage to consume the shield in the course of the GCD (1.5 sec). Any opportunity for the shield to be used will increase the effectiveness of the buff from Blood Shield.

    5.) Rune Tap early and often. With a 30 sec cooldown and the spell not taking a GCD, it can be used heavily. If the heal is fully effective, it will provide as much or more single target threat as HS. It will be diluted over multiple targets, but the healing value is significant enough that it will be worth your while unless you absolutely need the threat. This is not a bad use for Blood Tap.

    6.) Bone Shield. Pre-buff and refresh when it fits. You can apply it up to minutes before combat and have the cooldown finished on the spell and the runes while keeping the buff. If nothing else that is a good use of the spell. It can be awkward to use mid-combat as it will break an FU pair and inhibit nice round numbers of Death Strikes, but with RunEmp proc'ing rune refreshes, it is not hard to find runes and time to apply it if you are mindful. 20% reduction with a bias to soften bursts of damage, combined with a small damage buff is very nice value.

    7.) DRW. This ability is a great threat and survival buff, but it is also expensive. Use it carefully and mindfully to be sure that you aren't infringing too much on your RS uses and RunEmp proc cycle. This can be very good if you push towards the RP cap for some reason.
    Last edited by Satorri; 12-01-2010 at 09:21 AM.
    The (Old) Book on Death Knight Tanking
    The New Testament on Death Knight Tanking
    Quote Originally Posted by Horacio View Post
    Who f-ing divided by zero?!?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Gear Stats, Reforging, and Enchanting/Gems

    Gear in Cataclysm has reached a new level of customization when it comes to stats. In addition to the enchantments (stretching back to Vanilla) and gems (added in Burning Crusade), we now have access to the Reforging ability. This ability allows us to subtract a small portion of a non-core stat (i.e. not Str, Agi, Int, Stam), and add a corresponding amount of a stat that does not appear on the gear. So, if you have Haste and Crit rating available, you can subtract a portion of the Haste Rating and add a matching amount of Hit rating. You could *not* add Crit rating because there is already Crit rating on the item.

    In order to choose the most appropriate gems, enchants, and to understand where it is worth your while to shave stats and add others, we first need to understand the value of each gear stat. All values listed below will assume that you are wearing all Plate (+5% to core stats) and have the 5% Stat buff from Blessing of Kings, Mark of the Wild, or Gift of the Shale Spider. All values also represent the value at level 80, and will be updated later for 85.

    Survival Stats:
    Red = Parry rating, Strength*, Agility*
    Yellow = Dodge rating, Mastery rating
    Blue = Stamina

    With the redesign of stat colors for Cataclysm, each color now offers a specific primary survival value. Mastery rating will also play a key role for tanks. Note: Strength and Agility will offer low levels of avoidance through parry and dodge respectively. While this will not match the pure survival value of Parry or Dodge rating, it may be worthy of some small note as a hybrid stat as Strength and Agility will also offer AP and Crit chance respectively.

    Specific values:
    Stamina => 1 Stamina = 16.81 Health for a Blood Tank.
    • A primary survival value. Increasing your health pool will increase the margin within which you can take damage, without receiving sufficient healing, and not die. For Blood Death Knights it will also improve the scale of our self-healing abilities and key survival talents, particularly: Death Strike/Blood Shield, Rune Tap, unglyphed Vamp Blood, Blood Parasites, as well as the threshold for triggering WotN. See more discussion about this in the following section on Advanced Concepts.

    Dodge and Parry rating => 176.72 rating = 1% Dodge or Parry chance before diminishing returns. Expect the actual value to be between 70-85% of that value depending on how much you have (more you have the less % value you get). Look in the Advanced Concepts section for more details, but understand that while each additional amount of rating will give you less % avoidance from that stat, the overall value remains static, so 20 Parry rating at 10% parry chance is the same value as 20 parry rating at 30% parry chance for actual survival value. Because Dodge and Parry diminish on the same curve, you will always get more total avoidance value from the stat of which you have less.
    • Avoidance gives you a chance to completely avoid being hit by a melee attack, taking no damage at all. The pseudo-random nature of avoidance means that the shorter the window you look at, the less certain you will be to get the exact amount you see on your sheet. You may receive more or less actual percentage on a small window. However, the average over a long time will match the value listed. Avoidance allows you to reduce damage taken while also spacing out the incidence of damage taken from avoidable attacks. For perspective, on a typical raid encounter the tank will take roughly 60-100% damage from avoidable attacks. Avoidance has no effect on magic damage, bleeds, and some special attacks.

    Mastery rating => 179.24 Mastery rating = 1 Mastery Skill = 6.25% increase that your Blood Shield takes from you Death Strike heal, from a base of 8 Mastery Skill and 50% of your Death Strike value as a shield. Note: unlike Expertise which uses a similar Rating => Skill => % Effect system, Mastery *can* make use of fractions. ~28.68 Mastery rating = 1% additional value from the Death Strike heal will be added to your Blood Shield.
    • Blood Shield is a standard absorb mechanic that will only reduce physical damage taken. The shield will last more than long enough (8 sec) that the shield will be consumed if you remain in combat, but it will not be consumed if you do not take damage, so it has no negative interaction with avoidance. The value absorbed will be applied to the damage value *after* damage reduction and armor, so it *does* keep the positive interaction with your other damage reduction abilities (Blade Barrier, Armor, etc).

    A comparison of the survival value of Avoidance and Blood Shield can be found in the Advanced Topics section. The short answer is that the relative value is situational and personal. Avoidance will allow you to negate an entire hit, while Blood Shield will shave damage off of many more hits, but in much smaller relative scale per incidence. Comparing on a total damage reduction value, you can take less damage overall with the benefit from Mastery rating, provided that you use DS more than 4.6-5.0 times per minute.

    Threat Stats:
    Red = Strength, Expertise rating, Agility*
    Yellow = Crit rating, Haste rating
    Blue = Hit rating

    While threat will likely be a secondary concern in most serious tanking situations, it is still worth understanding exactly what value the stats will offer you. Note: Agility will offer crit chance, and dodge chance as mentioned above, but both values will be inferior to pure Dodge or Crit rating; The key distinction is that Agility is available in a red slot for gems. I will assume that most people will not gem for Haste or Crit, but should you decide to make a threat set, I would recommend Haste for the acceleration of rune cycles it offers.

    Specific values:
    Strength => 1 Str = 2.205 AP (2.25 AP with 2/2 Abom's Might), and 0.25 Parry rating (~0.003-0.005% parry)
    Expertise => at level 85, 125.72 Expertise rating will reduce your chance to be dodged by 1% (to a cap of 6% against a raid boss, or 754 rating), and your chance to be parried by 1% (to a cap of 14% against a raid boss, or 1760 rating). That means that below 754 rating, you are receiving a double-value for reducing your chance not to connect. As a Blood-spec'd tank, you receive 6 Expertise skill from the Veteran of the 3rd War passive. As a result, the Expertise caps are 629 Expertise rating to never be dodged, and 1572 rating to never be parried.
    Hit => at level 85, 120.07 Hit rating will reduce your chance to miss by 1% with melee attacks. Special attacks and auto-attacks while using a 2-handed weapon will have a maximum of 8% chance to miss against raid bosses, which will require 961 Hit rating to remove. Icy Touch, Death Coil, and Pestilence use the Spell Hit table and the Spell Hit conversion (102.52 Hit rating = 1% reduced miss chance). These spells have a 17% chance to miss against raid bosses, which would require 1743 Hit rating, less 205 rating per point in the Virulence talent in Unholy.

    To compare the increasing chance to hit from Expertise with the increase in hit size from Strength:
    Consider first melee auto-attacks. Your weapon dps is increased by roughly 7.14% of your Attack Power. That means that if your weapon does 295 dps and you have 1700 Strength, your actual dps from auto-swings will cause ~563 dps reduced by your total chance to not hit (miss + dodge + parry). So, if you are soft-capped on Hit Rating, but below the soft cap on Expertise, say at 22 Expertise (1% dodge + 9% parry = 10% chance to not hit), your auto-swings will do 506 dps.

    Now let's try adding Str or Exp in appropriate measure. One full epic red gem will give you either 20 Strength or 20 Expertise rating. 20 Strength will give you 44 additional AP, which will increase your dps by 2.84 (= 44.1 AP * 7.14% * (100 - 10% chance to not hit)). 20 Expertise rating will become 0.65 Expertise skill, which will reduce your chance to miss by 0.325% (0.65 skill * 0.50% dodge + parry chance), and increase your dps by 2.30. So on auto-attacks, the raw Strength offers more value.

    Alternately, consider your Heart Strike ability. HS hits for a percent of instant weapon damage, meaning weapon speed is now a factor. From the base values above and a standard 3.5 sec base swing speed, your instant weapon damage is increased by roughly 25% of your AP. HS uses 100% weapon damage plus 735, and is increased by 10% for each disease on the target. If we assume both diseases are up, that means that the HS will do 3246 dmg on a successful hit to its main target. If we average that value over all your attacks to account for the strikes that do not land, that is an average value per swing of 2921. Now add a pure epic Strength gem again, and your HS damage average per use will increase to 2933, for a 0.41% increase. If instead you added a pure Expertise gem, it would reduce your chance to not connect and give an average per use value of 2932, for a 0.38% increase. Strength still offers very slightly more overall value.

    A key ability to consider now, however, is Rune Strike. Rune Strike cannot be dodged or parried, and double dips from attack power by using both a percentage of weapon damage *and* an amount of AP as an additional value. These combined mean that your RS will receive no value from Expertise, but will receive a lot of value from Strength. Rune Strike will constitute a significant portion of your threat.

    Spells will also not gain value from Expertise as they cannot be dodged or parried, but they will receive a small portion of your attack power in their damage value.

    Combine the above and the result is that Strength will offer more total value towards your threat than Expertise in total damage, but Expertise will give a stronger likelihood that when you press the button, you get the value of the move. The margin is narrow enough that it would not be a significant loss to add Expertise rather than Strength, and the reliability factor gained may be more desirable.
    Note: you do not *need* to cap Hit or Expertise to do adequate threat, but for the sake of optimizing reliability of threat, it is a worthwhile endeavor to aim for the soft cap of both Hit and Expertise (8% melee hit or 951 Hit rating, and 6% Dodge/Parry neglect or 26 Expertise skill or 764 Expertise rating). These values will optimize the chances that you will not fail to connect on a threat move. Having values in excess of these caps will not be immediately wasteful, but they will yield much less value than they did to that point, with more drop off in value for Hit rating. Be aware, a special move that costs runes and does not connect will still trigger a 5 sec rune cooldown, and a missed ability that has an RP cost will still take the RP from your pool.

    Note: As opposed to WotLK, Taunt now uses the melee hit chance, so reaching 8% melee miss chance reduction will make your Taunt always hit.

    So, how should I set up my gear then?!
    Take your gear in the following steps. The philosophy here is that you should start with the least mutable or interactive values. So, the piece of gear is the first major choice, followed by the enchants you place on the piece, the gems placed in sockets, and finally Reforging. Reforging will allow you to make a very personalized adjustment of stat values. It is better to start with large strokes on Gem and gear stats, and then adjust with Reforging to dial values back to caps, or into the desired proportions.

    1.) Gear Selection
    In general, you will not have many pieces to choose from at a given level of content, and the ability to reforge should make differences very minimal in final effect. Higher level gear will now, almost invariably, offer more total value in every slot but trinkets.

    For trinkets, you will get large single passive stat bonuses and bonus effects. The on-use effect or passive chance to proc an effect is as important as the passive bonus. Factor this effect into your decisions. A trinket with an on-use ability will only be put to best use if you are careful to use the effect regularly. Armor and Stamina trinkets can very easily be appealing for the raw health and survival value, but be aware that trinkets with avoidance ratings can be Reforged to give you other benefits like additional Mastery, should you choose to favor that value.

    2.) Enchants
    For every slot there is at most one survival enchant available, usually that is in the form of Stamina, Dodge, or Parry rating. Gloves are the one exception which also offer armor buffs and other special profession abilities for engineers, as well as Mastery enchants. At level 85, the only armor enchants available are old ones, and potentially not worth down-grading for scale. Alternately these enchants can be used for threat, particularly with hit rating to gloves, and expertise rating to gloves or bracers. Remember that if you are planning to reforge for hit/expertise soft caps, hit or expertise gained through enchants can allow you to reforge *less* from survival stats on gear, and allow you to use reforging to benefit survival more. Enchants of particular note (or are otherwise not particularly obvious):

    Enchant Boots = this slot can be filled with a +50 Mastery enchant, but a strong alternative is Earthen Vitality. This enchant will exchange 15 Mastery for an 8% increase in run speed. This is very useful for staying on top of moving targets, kiting enemies into/out of key locations, and moving out of trouble. Unless you are getting a run speed buff from somewhere else it is highly worth the trade.

    Enchant Gloves = there is a 65 Mastery enchant for survival, or 50 Expertise rating, or 50 Haste rating which may offer a composite survival and threat value by allowing runes to regenerate more quickly, and allow the tank to use abilities more often.

    Enchant Bracers = there is a 50 Dodge rating enchant for gloves, or 50 Hit or 50 Expertise alternatives for threat. Bracers can also receive a 65 Haste rating enchant.

    Weapon Rune = the two most powerful options for a survival-conscious tank will be Stoneskin Gargoyle (SSG) and Swordshattering (SS). It is worth noting that the 4% increase in armor will not represent a 4% additional reduction in damage taken (closer to 0.85% for a well-geared endgame tank). That said, the compounded effective health value will be appealing to many tanks, and the health buff is undeniably valuable to Blood and its self-healing focus.

    3.) Gems
    In gemming, in general, there are two ways in which you can gem a piece of gear: maximize a target stat -or- maximize the net stat value of the gear. The difference is simple. If you want to maximize a specific stat value from a piece of gear you can pay the opportunity cost (socket bonus) and add pure gems for the stat you want to maximize. Alternately, you can add gems selected to match socket bonuses and receive the socket bonus for added total stat value on the gear. So long as you can reasonably benefit from stats other than the one stat you might want to maximize, you can get a superior value by matching socket bonuses, while still playing to your preferred value with hybrid gems.

    At level 85, the feeling of tanking is substantially changed from the experience at 80. Where at 80 the tanks had frequent heavy health flashes, dipping from full to less than half on every hit, at 85 the hits constitute a much smaller portion of your health, and tank health without focusing too heavily on Stamina is substantially higher proportional to the gains from adding Stamina gems. A typical tank with Stamina trinkets and no gems or enchants will have around 150k health. A heavy focus on Stamina in t11 (the first raid tier of Cataclysm gear) will only result in an additional 12-20k health. With smaller hit proportions (and smaller heal proportions), the balance of survival values shifts back towards favoring a balance of health and damage reduction, possibly even tipping the scale towards damage reduction for survival.

    The optimal stats for maximizing survival in gems slots will involve matching sockets for bonuses most of the time. You can accomplish this while playing to the stat you want to maximize by using pure and hybrid gems with the following stats:
    Red = Parry rating
    Yellow = Mastery rating
    Blue = Stamina
    If you want to balance survival and threat, and/or allow your reforging on your gear to be used differently you can substitute Hit rating for Stamina, and Expertise for Parry rating.

    4.) Reforging
    Once you have added all the gems and enchants, only then should you look to reforging. Reforging is a fine tool to create the final touches on value. You can dial your Hit or Expertise up or down, carefully into/from Avoidance/Mastery or Hit/Expertise to reach the soft caps precisely, if you want to optimize your threat reliability.

    To optimize your avoidance value, compare the total values of Dodge and Parry rating. It will be a small but cost-free benefit to move from which ever stat has more to the other. So, if you have 2000 Dodge rating and 1800 Parry rating, you will net a small gain in total avoidance by reforging Dodge rating into Parry rating (on gear that has no Parry rating), with no lost value (other than not being able to reforge that piece of gear otherwise).

    If you make heavy use of Death Strike, it can be worth your while to shift Avoidance into Mastery. Consider this choice based on the information presented in the following section on Advanced Concepts.
    Last edited by Satorri; 12-01-2010 at 09:01 AM.
    The (Old) Book on Death Knight Tanking
    The New Testament on Death Knight Tanking
    Quote Originally Posted by Horacio View Post
    Who f-ing divided by zero?!?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Advanced Concepts and Skills
    *updates will come over time*

    Mastery vs Avoidance:
    Here is a spreadsheet representing values at level 80, a new sheet and discussion will be added in the month(s) ahead to reflect values at level 85.

    Rune Value of RP spent
    *to come*

    DRW vs RS for RP value
    *to come*

    Avoidance Diminishing Returns and the survival value gained per increment
    *to come*

    Forgive me as these topics and more will take months to roll out. Much of it is highly case-specific and is greatly improved by testing and experience at level, in the Live content.
    Last edited by Satorri; 12-01-2010 at 09:11 AM.
    The (Old) Book on Death Knight Tanking
    The New Testament on Death Knight Tanking
    Quote Originally Posted by Horacio View Post
    Who f-ing divided by zero?!?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    UI Modification

    *coming soon*
    Last edited by Satorri; 10-12-2010 at 07:46 AM.
    The (Old) Book on Death Knight Tanking
    The New Testament on Death Knight Tanking
    Quote Originally Posted by Horacio View Post
    Who f-ing divided by zero?!?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008

    *coming soon*

    Change Log:
    10/12/10 = posted for 4.0.1
    12/1/10 = updated for the release of Cataclysm and the level cap bump
    Last edited by Satorri; 12-01-2010 at 09:03 AM.
    The (Old) Book on Death Knight Tanking
    The New Testament on Death Knight Tanking
    Quote Originally Posted by Horacio View Post
    Who f-ing divided by zero?!?

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    [reserved Addendum]
    The (Old) Book on Death Knight Tanking
    The New Testament on Death Knight Tanking
    Quote Originally Posted by Horacio View Post
    Who f-ing divided by zero?!?

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Kind of sad for the Frost tanks left roaming Northend; I tanked my last ICC 25 last night in Frost and fittingly exploded after 10 stacks on Fester (squishy warrior was one shotted right after the taunt) - out with old, in with the new.

    A very nice guide, Satorri, you make me almost look forward to being forced back into Blood. I guess 5 man heroics almost become relevant again to learn the new talents.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    I love the guide Satorri! Keep up the good work! One thing to note, don't forget that Improved Blood Tap halves the time on the 4 pieces set bonus for T10 armor. Effectively giving you 12% Damage Reduction 20s / 1 minute. Last I checked on PTR which was a few weeks ago, it hasn't changed.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Oooo that is good information, Darkwitch! I've been working on this for a while now (though obviously not complete...), but it has all been focused on 80+ stuff, very little attention at 80. Then I realized, "hey! People are actually going to start using the talent and spell changes today..."
    The (Old) Book on Death Knight Tanking
    The New Testament on Death Knight Tanking
    Quote Originally Posted by Horacio View Post
    Who f-ing divided by zero?!?

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Awesome another great guide =D, cant wait to see it finished

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Damn, was hoping to see some work on Mastery when I came here. That's really the only thing I'm unsure of - do I reforge away avoidance for a slightly more reliable form of damage reduction? I ask in the context of tanking H LK 25. It's hard to know because I'm not sure how difficult threat will be to maintain, and if the removal of Chill of the Throne will make it so I get hit too rarely to reliably use Death Strike for shields enough to make mastery worth it.

    Also, is it true that Blood Shield reduces only physical damage? If so, it just became a bit less desirable than I thought it would be. You advocate Death Runes be used on Heart Strike - will we really need the extra threat over a potential shield/heal? Is threat that tight?

    Planning on running some heroics and older raids tonight if possible to get a feel for all of this, but my initial guess is that tanking HLK 25 just became significantly easier for Death Knights (between having 4 piece Scourgelord AND either VB or BS for every Soul Reaper and the increase in avoidance, I'd say we're in a good place).

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    minnesota aka southern canada
    With reforging up with 80 gear and all lvl 80 gear bing revamped (good bye def) You are going to want to reforge some mastery in there. I wouldn't go all out on mastery yet, but I also would not ignore it. For lvling once cata drops mastery will make blood tanks solo gods

    With threat from what I have seen at lvl 85 (my dk is in all greens has run every new regular instance once) threat isnt a problem on your target if you know what you are doing. heart strike is nice because it can give some threat to other mobs in a pull.

    Great stuff S! cant wait to see the ui modification stuff. I for once am very happy with myself because I had everything pretty much figured out by myself. Im a big boy now. still the detail is a great resource and your storytelling made me chuckle

    Also sticky please!
    Quote Originally Posted by Ghostcrawler View Post
    I'm on a shark

  18. #18
    Nice work... this is an epic guide. Moar stickies plz!
    "Stop trying to hit me and hit me!"

    ~ Morpheus

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    minnesota aka southern canada
    So I do have one question. I have been looking at preferred specs and there is one thing that I differ with. Why exactly is improved blood tap so essential? Is that with the set bonus because then I can see it being amazing. but why take it over say abom might or blood caked blade? both of those seem very solid threat and dps to me.
    whats thoughts on this?
    Quote Originally Posted by Ghostcrawler View Post
    I'm on a shark

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    So looks like RS still requires a dodge/parry, did that get changed back in the Cata beta as well?

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