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On this page, we list your Blood Death Knight core abilities and how they should be used together (rotation) in World of Warcraft MoP 5.4. We also explain when to use your various cooldowns. Then, we go deeper and present all the subtleties that you will need to know if you want to excel at playing a Blood Death Knight.
The other pages of our Blood Death Knight guide can be accessed from the table of contents on the right.
1. Single Target Rotation↑top
Generally speaking, your goal during each fight is to use your resources (runes and runic power) to generate threat and to stay alive. This is the recommended way to use your abilities:
As you can see, this rotation does not take into account the use of your many survival abilities. You will often find that you must mix these abilities with the above rotation in order to stay alive. Please refer to the sections below in order to better understand how to use all of your survival abilities.
2. Multiple Target Rotation↑top
When tanking 2 or 3 enemies, your go-to ability will be Heart Strike. Against 4 or more enemies, you will want to switch to Blood Boil. Keep in mind that Blood Boil scales much better with your gear and stats than Heart Strike, so you should check the damage of these abilities to see which one is best to use in your particular case.
Additionally, you will want to use Death and Decay on cooldown, placing it under the targets you are tanking.
As in the case of the single target rotation, Crimson Scourge procs should be used firstly on Death and Decay, if available, and after that on Blood Boil.
Dark Command is your main taunting ability. It only works on a single target and has an 8-second cooldown.
Death Grip grabs your target and moves it to your location. It also has the effect of taunting the target and interrupting spellcasting. The movement effect does not work against most raid bosses.
You should always be in Blood Presence. There is no exception to this.
5. Survival Cooldowns↑top
As a tank, you have many survival cooldowns that you need to often insert into your rotation to survive the various abilities that your enemies will throw at you. There are 3 kinds of cooldowns: proactive cooldowns (to protect yourself before high damage spikes occur), reactive cooldowns (to heal yourself after taking damage), and cooldowns that are both proactive or reactive (meaning that you can use them however you want).
Below, we present all the cooldowns at your disposal, with a short explanation of what they do. More information about each cooldown can be found in subsequent sections.
6. Optional Read: Mastering Your Blood Death Knight↑top
While the information we gave in the previous sections will yield very good results, there are many things you should be aware of, in order to play your Blood Death Knight to its full potential. In particular, we explain in great detail how to properly use your various survival cooldowns.
Vengeance is a passive ability which you receive for choosing the Blood specialisation. Essentially, it increases your attack power for 1.5% of the unmitigated damage you receive. It takes the form of a 20-second buff, which you should have no problem maintaining 100% uptime on.
Vengeance also has diminishing returns, in that each additional target attacking you generates less Vengeance than the previous one.
6.2. Soul Reaper
Soul Reaper is a damaging, execute-like ability that should be used when the target is below 35% health.
6.3. Dark Simulacrum
Dark Simulacrum is a very special ability. It places a debuff on the target, which causes you to mimic their next spell cast that costs mana to use. This grants you the ability (it will replace Dark Simulacrum on your bars) for a short amount of time. Using this mimicked ability can be very beneficial (even exploitative) on some encounters.
Note that Dark Simulacrum does not work, most times, in PvE.
6.4. Generalities On Survival Cooldown Usage
Blood Death Knights take damage in a far more unpredictable manner, compared to the other tanking classes. This is due to the fact that the other tanking classes have passive abilities (block chance, in the case of Paladins and Warriors) that handle the mitigation of damage automatically.
Blood Death Knights, however, only have their dodge and parry chances. This causes them to take fully unmitigated attacks far more often. To compensate for this, Death Knights have, as we have seen above, a very large number of survival cooldowns. In order to function properly during raids, Death Knight tanks will have to make extensive use of these cooldowns. Doing so well can have tremendously good results, while doing so poorly can make it seem like other tanks are far easier to heal.
There is no set order in which you should use your abilities. Rather, you should use some cooldowns (proactive ones) in anticipation for an event in the encounter, in order to be better prepared for when it occurs. Other cooldowns (reactive ones) should be used to better recover from an unfavourable situation. Finally, there are a number of cooldowns that can be used both reactively and proactively, depending on the situation.
In the following sections, we go through all your survival cooldowns and explain how and when to use them.
6.5. Detailed Cooldown Usage
6.5.1. Anti-Magic Shell
Anti-Magic Shell should be used whenever there is magic damage to mitigate (such as breath attacks, for example). The mitigation that it offers is very high. It has a short duration (5 seconds) so you will need to be quite accurate in timing it.
It also has the benefit of preventing the application of magical debuffs on you while it is active, and it can be used for this purpose, as well, depending on the encounter mechanics.
6.5.2. Icebound Fortitude
Icebound Fortitude is only truly useful if it is used before you take a high amount of damage. It reduces all damage you take by 50% for 12 seconds, and it should always be used when you anticipate that you will take a lot of damage or that your healers will be unable to heal you.
6.5.3. Dancing Rune Weapon
Dancing Rune Weapon should be used before you take a high amount of physical attacks. It grants you 20% chance to parry for 12 seconds. It is, therefore, excellent against melee attacks and thus physical damage.
6.5.4. Army of the Dead
Army of the Dead has two survival benefits. As we will see, it is more potent when you are trying to reduce magic damage, but it works well against Physical damage as well.
The first benefit is the damage reduction that it provides. While the spell is being channeled, your damage taken is reduced by the sum of your dodge and parry chances. As such, this cooldown provides a sizable damage reduction for a short amount of time. Note, however, that while you are channeling, you cannot dodge or parry, so you will be hit by every attack made against you, which works to counter the damage reduction that you gain, to some extent. So, when used against Physical damage, it is best to use it when unavoidable abilities are cast at you, but at any rate, it remains beneficial to use against practically anything.
The second benefit is that the ghouls will taunt any mobs that they can, with the exception of raid bosses. This allows you some time to breathe and recover, while the ghouls are dying. Note that this effect can cause problems if the adds require some specific placement or handling, though.
6.5.5. Vampiric Blood
Vampiric Blood is one of your most powerful cooldowns. If unglyphed, it will grant you 15% extra health for 10 seconds, and increase your healing received (from all sources, including self-heals) by 25%. It can be used both reactively and in ancitipation.
For most encounters, we recommend that you use the Glyph of Vampiric Blood. This will cause the ability to not grant you any health, but increase all healing received by 40%. This makes it an amazingly potent cooldown for when you expect to require a lot of healing or that you will be taking a lot of damage. It can also be used reactively, if you couple it with some of your self-heals to raise your health up in a very short amount of time.
6.5.6. Empower Rune Weapon
Empower Rune Weapon does not provide any survival effects on its own. It instantly activates all of your runes and grants you 25 runic power. It is very useful for providing you with extra resources when you need to use your survival abilities that have rune or runic power costs.
Its cooldown is quite long, so make sure to use it wisely.
6.5.7. Bone Shield
Bone Shield offers you 20% damage reduction for however long the buff persists on you. The buff has 6 charges and each time you receive a damaging attack, a charge is lost. Damaging attacks cover both physical attacks as well as magic attacks. Damage from DoTs and ground based AoE abilities consumes a charge, although this is not always the case and it seems to depend from encounter to encounter.
Because this spell has a 1 minute cooldown and 5 minute duration (unless all charges are spent before that time), it is ideal to cast it on yourself before combat, so that it has time to cool down. This way, you can chain the effect twice as soon as you engage the boss.
6.5.8. Rune Tap
Rune Tap is on a 30-second cooldown and it heals you for 10% of your maximum health. It costs 1 Blood rune to cast. Basically, you want to use this ability more or less on cooldown, as long as it does not overheal you. In case you know for certain that a big amount of damage is incoming, you should save it for this time.
Also, you should not try to save this ability specifically for when you drop to a low health percentage. This is because each time you drop below 30% health (not more often than once every 45 seconds, however), Will of the Necropolis will reset the cooldown of Rune Tap and make it free of cost. Additionally, each time Will of the Necropolis procs, you will gain a 25% damage reduction for 8 seconds.
If you are in the process of taking a lot of damage, you should try to use Rune Tap normally, before you drop below 30% health, so that you can then use it again.
Note that the Tier 15 Set 2-piece Bonus provides a 10-second reduction to the cooldown of Rune Tap, and makes it free of cost.
6.5.9. Tier 1 Talents
Unholy Blight is an excellent way to apply diseases to newly-spawned adds. You can simply turn it on and run through/into the adds. Alternatively, you can turn it on and apply diseases to a newly spawned single target.
Roiling Blood should be used to simply spread your diseases to any new targets that have entered the fight. Just use Blood Boil whenever you want to spread the disease, but try to only do so when you have Crimson Scourge procs in order to avoid spending runes.
Plague Leech should be used on cooldown. Make sure that both your Frost and Unholy rune pairs are depleted, and use Plague Leech to gain a Frost rune and an Unholy rune. Then, you can simply re-apply your diseases with Outbreak (using Glyph of Outbreak, which removes the cooldown of the ability).
6.5.10. Tier 2 Talents
Lichborne should be used whenever you are low on health, or you just want to supplement the healing that your healers are doing. Simply cast Lichborne and then spam Death Coil on yourself. You will find this macro useful.
Anti-Magic Zone is a raid cooldown, and you should consult with your raid leader and the healers in order to determine the best time to use it.
Purgatory will act passively, saving your life. You should try to use as many self-healing abilities as you can, as soon as Purgatory procs, so that you can get rid of the healing absorption effect that it applies before it wears off, as this causes you to die. Remember that you can (at least in theory) use Purgatory to bypass otherwise deadly encounter mechanics.
6.5.11. Tier 4 Talents
Death Pact heals you for 50% of your maximum health, on a 2 minute cooldown. This is a very powerful heal, so make sure that it does not end up overhealing you.
We recommend this macro to summon a ghoul and use Death Pact at the same time.
6.5.12. Tier 5 Talents
If you have chosen Blood Tap, you should use it with the following guidelines in mind.
Even though there are suggestions of using a macro to automatically cast Blood Tap (it is off the global cooldown), such as macroing Blood Tap together with Rune Strike, we do not advise using these, as they take away all the control that makes Blood Tap so great.
There is one macro, however, that is very useful for Blood Tap, and we talk about it on the macros page.
So, by just using Blood Tap based on the above suggestions, you will get a pretty solid benefit from it. However, there is a more advanced way of using it, which will yield better results. Since this is directly tied to Death Strike usage, we explain it in the next section.
If you chose Runic Corruption, you do not have much to worry about, since its effect is passive.
Finally, if you chose Runic Empowerment, the best way to get as many Death Strikes as possible is to always keep a Blood rune active at all times, so that Runic Empowerment always refreshes a Frost or an Unholy rune.
6.6. Death Strike and Blood Shield
Death Strike is your most important self-healing ability. It is also part of your regular ability rotation during combat. In order to make the most out of Death Strike and of your Mastery ( Mastery: Blood Shield), you cannot simply use Death Strike whenever it is available.
There are three main things to keep in mind when using Death Strike.
For tracking the amount of damage you have taken in the last 5 seconds, and thus the potential efficiency of your Death Strike's self-heal and of your Blood Shield, we recommend the Blood Shield Tracker add-on.
Finally, regarding your Mastery, it is important to remember that the shields provided by Death Strike only protect against Physical damage.
6.6.1. Advanced Death Strike and Blood Tap Usage
As we mentioned above, there is a way to get more out of your Death Strike usage, if you have the Blood Tap talent. Note that this is an advanced (and rather cumbersome) technique, and you need to have a very solid grasp on your gameplay to be able to apply it.
Let us first consider a few things.
The result of this is that your ideal stance while tanking should be one of the following two options.
In the first scenario, using Death Strike will consume your current Frost/Unholy pair, leaving you with no runes active, and a double Blood Tap will give you another Death Strike, with more runes coming off cooldown soon. In the second scenario, it will leave you with one Death rune active, and one Blood Tap will allow you to use Death Strike again, leaving you with more Blood Tap charges (assuming you had pooled them), and with more runes coming off cooldown soon.
6.6.2. Scent of Blood Procs
Each time you perform a successful melee attack, dodge an attack, or parry an attack, you gain a stack of Scent of Blood, up to a maximum of 5. Each stack increases the healing and minimum healing of your next Death Strike by 20%. Additionally, each time the effect procs, you gain 10 runic power.
Clearly, the more stacks you have of Scent of Blood, the more powerful your Death Strike's healing will be. In normal fight conditions, there is little to gain from monitoring the stacks closely, and you can use Death Strike quite loosely.
Riposte is a passive ability that procs when you dodge or parry an attack, increasing your Critical Strike chance by 75% of your total avoidance (your chance to dodge and parry combined), for 20 seconds.
In most cases, this just means that you will have a near-permanent buff to your Critical Strike chance while you are tanking a boss, and it does not require any management from your part.
If you are not tanking any mobs, then you will not have a chance to proc Riposte. There is a trick that you may be able to use in certain situations, however, in order to maintain a high uptime on Riposte. Namely, you can taunt the boss (or other target) off of the current tank and wait until you parry or dodge an attack before having them taunt it back. By doing this every 20 seconds, you could maintain relatively high uptime on Riposte, gaining a sizeable damage boost. Note that if you are attempting this trick, you must be very careful for your taunting not to interfere with any tank-switching mechanics in the fight. Given the fact that most encounters have such tank-switching mechanics, we imagine the usefulness of this strategy to be quite limited.