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The Death Knight Tank and You: How To Pull

January 5, 2010

Elnoriah leaps up into the air, the wind brushes across his face and his hair becomes a tarnished mess in the crisp air. A large rocket is fired from his hands and  the target is eliminated, mission success….

Considering my absence of talking about Death Knight Tanking recently due to the holidays and a few other “real life” shenanigans coming into play, I hope you have all had a chance to test out your abilities as a Death Knight Tank in the glorious new patch that is 3.3. For your sake, let us assume that you have, students!

“Just one… you can afford… to lose… just one…”
Munch, you’re a vegetarian, what would you do with my students?

Out of each of the Tanking classes, each has a distinct way of pulling a group of mobs or a boss. Undoubtedly, the Death Knights definitely have the most intricate and challenging pull techniques out of the four. There are about 4 different pulls that we will be going over today, and these include: The Single Target Boss/Mob pull, Caster and some Melee, 2 Casters and possibly some Melee, lots and lots of Melee.

Other Tanking Classes Pull Techniques

Druid- The Furries (Bear Tanks) have one the simplest ways of pulling a group. Keeping the Threat on multiple targets post pull, although significantly harder is not what we are talking about. The execution of the pull is a simply either Feral Charge a caster mob (or any if there is none) granted they have the Rage to do so. If they do not have the Rage to charge, or it is somehow on C/D they will just run in and body pull. Very, VERY simple, but it works I suppose!

Paladin- The Pally is practically as simple as the Bear, but to their credit, they do have to plan the pull a bit more beforehand. On every pull that there is at LEAST 1 caster in they should be throwing out their Avenger’s Shield and then run in and start their usual rotation. If it is a group of all Melee, they still should use the Avenger’s Shield, but they could just as easily body pull and start their rotation. What the shield does is merely give the Paladin some base Threat, and it will prevent spell casting for a few seconds as he/she sets up the pull.

Warrior- I’ll give the Warriors some credit, it takes a bit more skill to go through with a Warrior pull than the others (sorreh guize!). There are two different pulls as a Warrior. The general Multiple Melee (maybe 1 caster)- just charge in, thunderclap, shockwave, and you’re ready to start Tanking. The Boss Pull- Charge and Tank, Charge and Tank, AND HE SCOOORES!

The somewhat tough pull is with more than 1 caster a Warrior would use his Heroic Throw on a target and charge the other. Then they would move on to shockwave, thunderclap, and finally start Tanking! None of these are difficult, but they are certainly a bit tougher than Bears/Pallies!

Soloing the Lich King- Priceless

Now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for!

As I said earlier, there are four commonly known ways to pull as a Death Knight Tank, and this will vary between the number of opposing forces that you are pulling at any given time. For example, if you are pulling a boss or a single trash mob it will be significantly different from that of pulling 4 melee and a caster! To me this just makes the Death Knight class as a whole much more enjoyable, I can be creative and show off, while at the same time maneuvering a seemingly simple pull.

Practice makes perfect, students, so it is crucial for you to keep trying because I guarantee it will be fairly difficult to pull some of the trickier groups on your first try!

Single Target/Boss Pull

The Boss Pull (Single Target as well, Boss just sounds cooler) is certainly the easiest of the 4 classified Death Knight pulls. It only requires a very simple maneuver of running towards the enemy and either using Icy Touch or your Death Grip ability to start the pull.

Personally I would only pull with IT if it is a trash mob simply because it has a much shorter range, and you can afford  to not use a DG on a trash mob. By all means feel free to DG it to you, or do a running DG (when one keep running after he DGs, some mobs are too large to pick up). Just keep in mind that starting with disease on trash is not a horrible sin, so long as you can keep the mob on you!

As for bosses, using a DG to start the pull is your best move. First of all, it has a 30yd Range, which means you can get to it before the damn Squishies or eager Melee jump the gun. Secondly, the 3 seconds of forced attack upon you will help give you enough time to ensure a sealed, safe, amount of TPS is up and running on said Boss.

Lots and Lots o’ Melee

Once again, this is a fairly simple tactic to master, but it is a tiny bit trickier to manage than the Boss Pull. The difficulty is only increased because you need to make sure that you indeed have all of the mobs on you specifically.There are two different ways to pull a group of melee, and both of them work fine!

It is perfectly acceptable to do the good ol’ run in and drop Death and Decay right on top of your targets and Tank them as is. Just make sure you have a Death and Decay on them (Howling Blast is acceptable too for the Frosties if you’re up for that) for the initial Threat pull and hold. By pull and hold I mean, it aggros the mobs onto you and keeps them on you as you are spreading diseases/going through with your start-up rotation.

My favorite however is the use of a DG/DND combination. Mark a target, (or not if your group is at least semi-competent) and use a DG to pull them towards you. Immediately drop a DND and put your diseases on your main target as the DPS begins to AoE/Nuke him. Pest. for instant win and you have yourself a successful pull! (If you’re glyphed for HB you know what to do instead of Pest.)

Caster and  Some Melee

Similarly enough, doing a single caster pull is much like the more difficult version of the Lots and lots o’ Melee pull. Of course, there are two ways that you can pull the good ol’ Caster and Melee mix.

The inefficient, but still viable way of pulling is to Strangulate the caster and simply run in and DND the place up. Once that is done feel free to start pumping out the AoE rotations like they were I-R-O-N! Not only am I being a bastard when I call this why inefficient, I’m somewhat correct to boot. You end up using a single Blood Rune that could be saved for a rotation had you just done the other pull technique-

Numero 2 for the pull technique is identical to the second multi-melee pull explained before this. The only difference being that you will be DGing the CASTER/RANGED mob out of the group. The melee will follow immediately after so long as you don’t have any overly anxious/idiotic DPS that attack the melee before the pull is set up.

2+ Casters and a Dash of Melee

My favorite, but definitely the most fun out of all of the tactics. For a visual effect think of the 4 pulls prior to the gauntlet in PoS (the only enjoyable part of the instance for yours truly). Each of these have 2-3 casters with quite a few melee, and it is fairly difficult for one to pull these and be able to keep aggro up on all of them unless you use the technique!

Mark the caster you are running up to with an “X”, and the farthest caster with a “Skull” (very weird, eh?). Now, as you run in drop a DnD in the center and make sure it hits all of your targets. Keep the “Skull” as your target, and once you are in melee range of  “X” DG “Skull” and start your AoE rotation.

VERY fancy, right? Hellz yes! Yet this is an extremely effective way to pull a group with multiple casters (whom won’t budge without being DG’d or silenced) because it requires very little movement on your part as a Tank. What it does require is finesse, and a lot of it, so get practicing, and when you master this skill you WILL feel like a bad ass!

The water looks so much prettier when you're not on ridiculously low graphics!

What do DPS need to know before starting their rotations?

DPS, if there is one thing that you should know before cranking the DPS machine it’s knowing when to START. DK Tanks need a few seconds to set up the pull, mostly for their DnD to get all set up. If you feel like getting on our good side from the start either count to 5 out loud, or wait until the DnD is on the ground before you start hammering it out.

Hunters and Rogues can charge in a bit faster with Tricks/MD, but I do urge you to let us get somewhat set up before you give us a random TPS boost!

Racial Abilities

Are there any abilities that help pul- YES and they’re all on Horde-side! Note: I am not telling you to play these two races because it will make some pulls a bit easier, just spreading the word on how some Racials can be winsauce!

Blood ElvesArcane Torrent can silence all casters within a 15yd range of you and can make pulling 2+ caster pulls easier once every 2min. It is certainly a help for a beginner Death Knight Tank in-case they mess up the pull, but it by no means an excuse for anyone to not have to learn that specific pull1

Tauren- War Stomp the couple of seconds of stunned casters will certainly buy you a bit of time as you set up the pull right from under their noses. As with the Belfs it is certainly a bit of a help, but it will not be up often enough to ensure you not to have to learn the 2+ caster pull!

Great job today students! Go try out some of these pulls!

Happy WoWing

P.S. If you haven’t yet already, PLEASE go HERE to vote for the schedule of Plagued Candle’s upcoming Livestream Podcast. It will be recorded of course, but it is more fun to chat it up with us live!

8 Comments leave one →
  1. January 5, 2010 4:29 PM

    Great post! I’ll definitely be sending this along to my guildie who’s just starting to learn how to DK tank. 🙂

  2. January 5, 2010 6:25 PM

    Excellent post.

  3. Aifel permalink
    January 5, 2010 11:26 PM

    Uh, I don’t think you can cast War Stomp while in most forms (I think theres one you can cast it in, and it might be Dire Bear, but I’m not 100%). And you misspelled pull near the end. 😀

    • January 6, 2010 3:02 PM

      I’m talking about how to pull as a Death Knight. I just put the other classes in towards the beginning to make a comparison as to how different pulling is as a DK.

  4. Ben permalink
    January 13, 2010 9:20 PM

    Hmm, couple questions.

    For the single caster + melee, for a HB glyphed dk this would seem optimal to me (but I don’t have much experience, so please comment if there is anything I’m missing):
    HB the group from afar, DG the caster as soon as he starts casting, then drop the D&D. You get diseases on everyone immediately (as well as some snap aggro), you still get the caster right by you before he can cast anything, and everyone else will be running over.

    If you do it the other way (DG, D&D, HB), wouldn’t you have to wait on the HB to make sure you’ll catch all the melee in it (i.e., wait until they are close enough to the caster you DGed over?)

    On a 3 caster pull, I assume you could do something like set the 3rd (non X, non skull) as a focus target, and use a macro to strangulate your focus on your way in? So something like: As running up, drop D&D. Silence the focus (or target and silence if you like, but swapping targets on the way in would likely be a little more difficult), arrive by X, then DG skull.

    On bosses, (and this is probably just inexperience talking), wouldn’t it be better to get close enough to icy touch first, then DG to get 3 secs of aggro as you set up the rest of your stuff? I would think that using it at 30 yards, you’d be wasting 1 or 1.5 seconds of your taunt, whereas if you do it once you are a lot closer (after using a ranged attack, but before in melee range), it seems like you would get more time to get your threat up.

    • January 14, 2010 3:06 PM

      For HB I’d definitely agree on the trash pulls.

      As for a 3caster pull, I suppose it honestly depends on how far the ranged actually were from you. Using the POS pulls for instance (going up the hill on your way to the gauntlet) Run towards the closest (X), drop a D&D when close enough, and DG the farthest caster (Skull). You will still be able to hit the caster that is in the middle of the pull with all of your AoE Threat abilities. Which is your goal.

      If they are farther apart it would be best to do it just as you described!

      The only problem that I’ve found with getting off an IT on a boss are the trigger-happy DPS that just decide to either rush-in or the Ranged love to just start nuking right from the start. So in a sense it depends on the group, but the insurance of having DG up on the boss from the start is certainly helpful to start off the pull correctly.

  5. Iskariot permalink
    June 22, 2010 7:36 AM

    i’ve been searching all over for DK group pull, and yours the best 🙂

    i got several question:
    1. what do you think of this rotation for pulling several mobs with 2 casters? DG the farthest (like you said) DnD > Howling Blast (glyphed) > Blood Boil > HB > BB > rinse and repeat?
    2. you got any talent build suggestion? for group pull?
    3. what is the best place to train my group tanking skill?

    thanks a lot 🙂

    • June 22, 2010 12:30 PM

      1. I think you would be alright, if the fight is long enough consider dropping DnD again, but that depends on your group.

      2. I wouldn’t really try to talent to one specific build, any decent tanking build will do you fine. Or is it that you want a build suggestion for Heroics?

      3. PoS is a great one to try that out. Although if you’re really daring you could grab a group of friends and fool around in Magister’s Terrance. It’s old, but the pulls can still be a challenge to get just right.

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