WotLK Death Knight Guide – Blood Tank

WotLK Death Knight Guide – Blood Tank

Wrath Death Knight Guide



This is the blood tanking guide i compiled for my guild from various sources and then changed/added what was needed to fit in with moltens own peculiarities. just though i would post this here so i dont have to repeat myself a 100 times whenever someone posts “need help with dk blood tanking?”


IT- icy touch
PS-plague strike
HS-heart strike
DS-death strike
HOW- horn of winter
DND- death and decay
DC- death coil


The blood DK tank is the hardest tank to play effectively.This is because of the constant need to pay attention to all your spec’s details in order to maximize your tanking ability. I won’t lie – this can become overbearing at times for beginners, but with practice it is something you will begin to do without thinking. As a DK you will notice that your tanking abilities have fairly short cooldowns – this means that unless you are saving them for a specific point in an encounter you should be using them proactively.
DKs tank in Frost Presence, always.

(DK’s are meant to use a slow dps weapon to tank with. even as a dual wield frost tank. I see alot of new DK’s using 1h tanking weapons in the frost tree to tank with. This is a common mistake . the reason is because all tank weapons have a very fast speed, and since most our abilities scale off of weapon dmg this greatly lowers their threat. The rule of thumb when choosing a weapon to tank with , is that the slower the speed and therefor the higher damage(not dps the actual damage the weapon does)the better threat you will produce. though if you are well geared you can just about get away with using a slow mainhand weapon and fast tank offhand weapon)


Runes and Runic Power
As with all aspects of the Death Knight class runes and runic power are key to tanking successfully. There are a few things to consider:
– You need to keep your blood runes on cooldown as much as possible in order to keep Blade Barrier up and running.
– Rune Strike is a primary source of threat, you will need to make sure you have enough runic power at any given time to use this ability when it comes up.
– Icebound Fortitude is your most powerful tanking cooldown in most situations and costs you 20 RP to use. Many tanks like to try and keep enough RP available to use this ability when needed.


As you already know Runeforging for a DK is basically a free weapon enchant. These enchants have so far always been preferable to those available from enchanters As with normal enchants a Runeforge does work with temporary enchants such as oils and Windfury. There are really only 2 common choices of Runeforge when tanking,

Rune of the Stoneskin Gargoyle grants 25 Defense and 2% Stamina. The point to note here is that the enchant provides 25 Defense not 25 Defence Rating, this will go a long way towards helping a new tank reach the Defense minimum of 540 (689 Rating) and also provide them with 3% avoidance via this Defense boost(1% dodge, 1% parry, 1% chance to be missed).

Swordshattering +4% Parry and reduces disarm affects by 50% on a 2h-weapon.

If you are already defence capped then the difference between the 2 runeforging’s is that Stoneskin Gargoyle provides 1% less avoidance but 2% extra health than Swordshattering

The other interesting thing about Runeforges is that they do not count towards the diminishing returns on a given stat, so taking the Parry Runeforge will not count towards the diminishing returns you experience on Parry Rating.

Why Blood?

Blood has the most user-choice, with many raid buffs and different ways to spec.
This in fact makes blood fun in a way; you can personalise it more than the other trees. You can spec into raid buffs, or single-target threat, or survivability. Blood has some really powerful tanking abilities with short cooldowns, and in the hands of someone who knows what he is doing can be a very effective tanking tree.Blood also has very good single target threat, though its multi target threat is lacking compared to the frost or unholy trees.


(this is a decent single target threat and self healing spec. at the end of the guide i will explain the optional talents)


Blood’s rotation needs to be more flexible because Death Strike and Rune Tap will heal you, and should both be used regularly, but use runes you’d otherwise spend on damaging the boss. You need to use heart strike/icy touch initially to get your threat lead against dps, then once you’re comfortably ahead you can start to self-heal.

(Blood is easier to play with 26+ expertise skill, because you can reliably use more heart strikes.)

Single target, opening rotation
Ongoing SELF HEALING rotation
(feel free to throw in a dc at the end of the rotation if you haveplenty of rp and a free gcd or 2. but under no circimstances should you use dc if it means you cant use runestrike if it suddenly comes up. generaly the only time you will use death coil is if you are the OT and not being hit so you cant runestrike)

Bear in mind, rune tap and death strike’s priority goes up higher if you’re low on health. The below presumes you’re not about to die. Also it’s a given that the 5% damage reduction from blade barrier is more important than threat moves.
1- Frost Fever
2-Blood Plague
3-Heart Strike
4-Death Strike

This also presumes that you have runestrike macro’d onto every ability
The macro is
#showtooltip <ability name>
/cast !Rune Strike
/cast <ability name>

it should read something like this

#showtooltip Heart Strike
/cast !Rune Strike
/cast Heart Strike(Rank 6)

(the ! mark before runestrike stops you from toggling the ability off when you hit runestrike again)


Vampiric blood (mandatory as a tank)
Death strike (for threat, does not effect self-healing)
Rune strike (for threat)
(optional) dark command
(A 2h DK has 2 hit caps, 8% for all melee and 17%{14% if talented} for spells. In blood the only spells really used are icy touch and dark command, The Dark Command glyph insures that you will not miss a taunt with only 8% hit rating)

For advanced tanks:
Glyph of Rune Tap can be helpful if used intelligently(especially with an addon like grid)
Glyph of Disease, might give you a more comfortable rotation. It’s a playstyle choice but has slightly weaker threat than alternatives.
Glyph of Anti Magic Shell, this is not recommended, but if you dont have threat issues it can replace a threat glyph for slightly more dmg reduction


Sigil of insolence is your best choice here. the eof tanking sigil is sligtly better but it has a longer ramp up time. meaning that in alot of fights you will not get the optimal use from it.but if it is a straight tank fight where you wont haveto move or be interupted then the eof one will be better


Head [Arcanum of the Stalwart Protector]Argent Crusade Exalted: +37 Stam and +20 def rating
Shoulder [Greater Inscription of the Pinnacle]Sons of Hodir Exalted: +20 dodge rating and +15 def rating(a alternative to SoH shoulder enchant is the 30 stamina 15 resilience enchant from honor- albert000)
Cloak [Enchanting: Enchant Cloak – Titanweave]: +16 Def Rating or [Enchanting: Enchant Cloak – Mighty Armor]+225 Armor
Chest: +10 to all Stats or +22 defense rating or +275 hp. Another perfectly viable option is Heavy Borean Armour Kit for 18 stamina.( thnx to Kaspa for mentioning this)
Bracers [Enchanting: Enchant Bracers – Major Stamina]: +40 Stam
Gloves [Enchanting: Enchant Gloves – Armsman]: +2% Threat and 10 Parry Rating is the best option.
Legs [Leatherworking: Frosthide Leg Armor]: +55 stam and +22 Agility
Feet [Enchanting: Enchant Boots – Greater Fortitude]: +22 stam
Rings [Enchanting: Enchant Ring – Stamina]: +30 stam (if your an enchanter)
( a great thank you to Kaspa for telling me the names of all these enchants :))


Meta Gem- Austere Earthsiege Diamond
For every other slot the Solid Majestic Zircon is generally your best bet unless you are under defence cap. The one red slot you will have to fill for your meta to work is largely upto you as it will make little difference. (Dodge and parry are generaly poor stats to gem for due to diminishing returns. also if you are tanking icc the 30% health bonus makes stamina gems the best by far.)

(Edit- by albert000)
About Gems:

Stamina stacking is the best as u said, but u can also respect some sockets with a blue gem & 9+ stamina as a bonus, 10 dodge 15 stamina vs 30 stamina for example becomes 10 dodge vs 6 stamina …

anyways gems that can be used if u want to respect sockets are:

blue = stamina.

red = dodge + stamina, expertise + stamina, str + stamina.

yellow = hit + stamina, defense + stamina. )

Stat Priorities

Stat priorities for defensive tanking can be summarised as Defense (until you hit 540) > stam/Armor > dodge > parry – Parry is a pretty poor stat for DK’s as we hit the diminishing returns on it very fast due to forceful deflection.

Hit/Expertise are great tools to help you push out threat, but your main priority is tanking, and although being a threat rocket is great.- if you can’t survive the fight and give healers something to work with the fight will not go well. Just make sure you have sufficient stats to survive the encounter before you start gearing entirely for threat.

When looking at whether you need more threat or more avoidance gear there is a general rule that in tanking new encounters its generally more useful to have more defensive abilities than threat, as it allows for a few more mistakes from your healers and yourself without you dying. The way to get around the need for both threat and defensive power is to have a couple of gear configurations, one for high threat and one for high avoidance. eg: you might carry two neck pieces, one with +hit and + expertise and the other with +dodge and +parry. It does not generally require you to carry 2 full sets of tanking gear around, just enough to push your stats either way.


The only real option here is the flask of stoneblood for 1300 extra health

The best bet here is the Indestructible Potion . 2 min(4 if your an alchemist) of an extra 3500 armour can be useful on some of the harder bosses. and with 5/5 bladed armour it also adds about 100 odd attack power making it good for defence and threat

Dragonfin Filet 40 str + 40 stamina is the best to use (thnx to Kaspa for pointing that out to me)

Optional Talents

3/3 Improved Runetap
(runetap is nearly useless without the 3/3 improved)
some people say that the 4 points in here are wasted since it is the healers job to heal you ,not yours, Personally I say it is everyone’s job in the raid to ensure a successful raid. And this skill has saved my life more times than I can count. Having this Oh **** button that will restore 20% or more(with raid buffs or vampiric blood) of your health every 30 seconds is priceless. Sometimes **** just happens, and when it does this skill can mean the difference between a wipe or boss kill. The only time you should maybe think of not taking this is if you have serious threat problems. Then these points might be better spent elsewhere.

Mark Of Blood
Yes I know this is mainly a pvp talent. But if you have a point to play with you can put it here for a little better survivability . Also since it seems to proc on all dmg the boss does. even aoe’s , you can actually use this to keep other people alive a second or 2 longer for the healers to catch up, you will need grid or something like it to be able to judge when best to use this. But to be completely honest this isn’t that good of a tank talent and shouldn’t be taken unless you have more than enough threat and a point to play with.

Abominations Might
Seems like this talent is truely optional as 2 other classes bring this buff to a raid and they dont stack. the 2% inc strength from it is a bit usefull though
Unleashed Rage (Enhancement Shaman talent)
Trueshot Aura (Marksmanship Hunter talent)
EDIT- it seems you can get this buff to stack with true shot aura if you spec out of it and back into it while having a hunter with true shot near by. though this is probably considered an exploit so it is done at your own risk

This is a really useful buff. If you have threat problems you can cast this on yourself, just as you start the fight, for a great threat increase for 30 seconds. If you dont have threat issues you can cast it on a Feral Druid, rogue or warrior mainly. They will love you for it.

Might Of Morgraine
since as a tank you will have a very low crit chance you can decide to put these points elsewhere

You should only put points in here if you often have to hold aoe threat on more than 3 mobs at a time. otherwise it is not that usefull at all

since a dk has 2 hit caps this can be a very usefull talent to bring your spell hit cap down to only 14%(11 % if raiding with a shadow priest). But then ,as blood tank ,the only 2 abilities that require the higher hit cap are Icy Touch and Dark command so while this is not neccasary it is still quite usefull. But if you have glyphed dark command then there is little reason to take this unless you have threat issues With around 6%- 9% of your Icy touches missing( assuming you are melee hit capped at 8%)

Spell Deflection
This talent is now working as intended but may not be nearly as usefull as it might look at first, as it only procs on direct dmg spells not aoe or elemental weapon strikes. Though if you dont have threat issues and a few points to play with it can be slightly useful. Though in icc Prince Keleseth is the only boss it is very usefull on

The rest of it depends on your gear and how much threat you are preducing. If you have more than enough threat feel free to take a point or 3 out of dps talents to play with. If you have threat issues you should take the points out of Runetap/Improved Runetap for dps talents.


These are talents i often see DK’s taking that are useless

often new tanks will put points in here even though this is a pvp talent. Currently this is bugged so the worms dont heal you . But even if it did work properly they heal for such a small amount as to make it worthless. Also it seems they soak up aoe heals that would have better gone to other raid members

Improved Blood Presence
again this talent is often taken by a new dk tank, but it only gives you the smalest amount of heals and is basicaly worthless.