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The Death Knight Tank and You: 4.0.1 Specs

October 20, 2010


A heroic fight to the death on a bridge with a spider? Good lord ladies, how could you leave a man like this single!?



We find our hero in the Ebon Hold, apparently class is finally back in session!

This week, students I decided that we should start at the basics for Tanking in this new, groundbreaking (literally) patch. We could go over techniques or abilities, but we’d best get a healthy foundation before starting talking about those. Let’s learn about how we should tweak our characters before how to play them!

Blood Red Spec

Hopefully as you all know, Death Knights now have a dedicated Tanking Talent Tree. Of course it is the Blood Tree seeing as it was the best Raid Tank spec pre 4.0. The tree focuses around self-healing, avoidance, and mitigation thus making it a perfect tree. Along with its cool downs it was probably the best move for Blizzard to make, rather than balance 3 Tanking Trees, 3 DPS Trees, and 3 PvP Trees.

In addition to the Tanking Tree, they also changed the Blood and Frost Presences a bit. Now, Frost gives 15% additional damage done, and Blood gives 8% additional STAM, 60% additional Armor Value from Armor, 8% reduced damage taken, and increased Threat generation. Basically they just switched Blood Presence with Frost Presence in case you haven’t caught on.


The way choosing talents works now is quite different from pre 4.0; you put your first 31 points into the spec you will be “maining”. So as a Tank we have an easy decision, we have to put at LEAST 31 points into our Blood spec before we can move out into Frost/Unholy. This means we get plenty of great suvivability talents and our 31 pts talent, Dancing Rune Weapon which is deliciously epic.

In addition to being able to put talents into your spec, Blizzard also gave each spec “perks” and one of their essential moves, or more specifically in our case we get Heart Strike! Included with the perks also is our Mastery skill which I will go over in a few more paragraphs so sit tight!

Blood Death Knight’s “Perks” are as follows:

  • Veteran of the Third War: Before the current patch, this used to be a staple Talent in any Blood DK Tank’s spec. It’s just a simple increase to our HP (6% STAM) and 6 extra expertise which is our highest TPS generation stat. Needless to say regardless of what you were going to do in your Tanking spec you’d grab that if you were a Blood Tank.
  • Blood Rites: This was also another useful Talent for a Blood DK to grab. As it says in the description, whenever you Death Strike/Obliterate the Frost and Unholy Runes would turn into Death Runes which could count for any single rune (Blood/Frost/Unholy). Death Runes are great in tight situations where you may need to pop a C/D and don’t have the Blood runes up to do so, or just simply need some more Blood Boil/Heart Strike in an AOE situation.
  • Vengeance: A very nice add to our Perks is the Vengeance passive skill. It is basically free AP which equates to free TPS, TPS is good so thus we have a useful addition to our passive buffs. Whenever we take Damage (absorbed damage included) 5% of the damage is reverted into AP. The 5% goes up to 10% of our Total HP so we can get a decent amount of AP out of the deal.

Mastery: Blood Shield

Whenever you hit lvl 80 one of the skills you are able to train as any class is a skill called Mastery. This allows the soon-to-be-obtainable Mastery Points on gear to be useful to your role/Class. Each spec has a specific base Mastery that empowers/is triggered by their abilities and the Mastery Points themselves further empower the bonus by the amount specified in the tool tips of the Mastery Skill for each spec.

Basic Reforging

Currently, the only way for us to obtain additional Mastery is to reforged Stats on gear. This actually is not a bad deal, if you are over the hit cap/expertise cap (soft cap is 26 which is what we’re aiming for) or there are just some plain useless “rating” (crit/spirit/haste/expertise/hit/dodge/parry/block) you can turn half of those points on any piece of gear into points of a different rating that is not present on the gear.

Example: Munchy has a chest that gives him

  • 100 STAM
  • 78 STR
  • 50 AGI
  • 40 Haste Rating
  • 90 Hit Rating

However, Munchy realizes that he is far over the Hit Cap and would prefer Mastery over the Hit Rating on his Chest. So, he will pay the nice Reforger at the Enchanter shop in any Major City a fair sum in order to exchange 45 HR to 45 Mastery. Munchy is now much happier with his Chest item and will go on his merry way to thrash the living hell out of mobs in various Heroics.

Okay, I got a bit side tracked there, but that rambling may actually benefit some of you students so copy those notes down. Any who, our Mastery Skill is called Blood Shield this works off of the sheer power and awesomeness that is our Death Strike. The healing received from our DS (overhealing included) will also pop a shield sort of like a Priest’s or Pally’s that is at 50% strength of the previous DS. That’s a bit of a confusing explanation, but some nice confusing Math will do the trick for explaining!

Example: Elnoriah’s Shield Power, maximum power for maximum awesome!

9000 Death Strike Heal * .5 (50%)  = Blood Shield absorption

9000 * .5  = 4500 damage absorbed

4500 = Blood Shield

However, the strength of the Blood Shield increases with the amount of Mastery you have. Each point of Mastery increases the amount of  the damage the shield absorbs by 6.25 %. A hefty amount if I do say so myself, so some revised math is in order!

Elnoriah is a cool kid who reforged his gear to grant him 4 additional Mastery Points equating to 25% extra absorption

9000 Death Strike Heal * .75 (50% + 25% = 75%) = Blood Shield absorption

9000 *.75 = Blood Shield

67500 = Blood Shield

Needless to say Mastery is going to become a staple in our damage mitigation. Honestly, look at that, at least right now in WOTLK that’s a great amount of free damage mitigation. However that much mastery right now is a bit annoying to obtain.

The Spec

Enough chit-chat, the actual spec is now far overdue. The best possible spec for Tanking as a Death Knight right now with our 36 available Talent Points at 80 (79 to be exact, it’s one every odd level plus 1 at 10, and then 1 for each level after 80) is a 33/0/3 spec. This spec grabs all of the essentials including Epidemic over in Unholy to extend our Disease timers.


The glyphs are also there courtesy of the folks over at the Elitist Jerks Death Knight Tanking thread. This gets you the most bang for your buck in my opinion, it’s got all the survivability needed to Raid Tank and the AoE needed to run Heroics. It’s delicious. However I do use a modded spec for my own personal uses.

It’s still a 33/0/3 spec, but I took the two points out of Blood Worms and put them in Abomination’s Might for the added DPS increase simply because Elnoriah here hasn’t been running many Raids that need the extra survivability of Blood Worms, and rather I’ve been futzing around with Alex and friends in Heroics that I out gear. However, when we start doing ICC again I’ll swap out the Abom’s Might for Blood Worms.


So there you have it, a spec for you to try out and familiarize yourself with and some further knowledge on the Blood Spec’s perks for us to toy around with. Next week we will be talking about Glyphs and what to do with them!

What’s your build? Are you using something different?


3 Comments leave one →
  1. Trey permalink
    October 23, 2010 2:45 PM

    The information is good and very informative, although I suggest you try out non-disease tanking. Getting the talent in Unholy that adds time to your diseases is a complete waste of points imo. The best DK’s right now are finding the best threat generation is actually without wasting time applying diseases and going straight into DnD/BB/BB/DS/RS as a basic formula. This obviously means putting points into Imp DS and Crimson Scourge. Though I haven’t seen anything on this, I myself have come to the conclusion that Virulence is a must seeing as the majority of your threat will be generated through spells (DnD/BB)

    • October 23, 2010 4:12 PM

      Interesting, I actually have not seen much on the subject to be honest. I’ll have to try that soon, thanks!

  2. weaverk permalink
    October 29, 2010 8:08 AM

    9000 Death Strike Heal * .75 (50% + 25% = 75%) = Blood Shield absorption

    9000 *.75 = Blood Shield

    67500 = Blood Shield

    should be 6750 i would assume ^^

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