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The Death Knight Tank and You: OH SHI- Buttons (Part 1)

December 28, 2010

No, giant orc children isn't a DK cool down....

We find our hero tinkering with his new goggles, he’s clearly entertained for the next 30 seconds…

Death Knight tanking is a unique style of tanking just like any of the others. However, it’s not only the fact that we don’t require a shield or any kind of furry form to tank and with our own set tanking tree we don’t have the amazing amount of customization that we had in WOTLK. No, instead it’s the amount and requirement of our play style that we use our cool downs (or OH SHI- buttons as I like to call them) at the best possible times. In a sense we rely on our cool downs to allow us to tank the way we do.

That can be said for any class, if a Warrior is dieing he needs to pop a cool down to mitigate the extra damage he is tanking. The same goes for a Paladin or a Druid, however Death Knights are a little different. We have many more cool downs, heals, and damage reduction abilities in our arsenal. Not even counting trinkets we have about 10 (if you count Bone Shield, which I am).

For today’s lesson let’s break down the OH SHI- buttons and learn how/when to use them and figure out what they do!

Anti-Magic Shell

Being my favorite of the Death Knight tanking OH SHI- buttons, Anti-Magic Shell certainly makes Death Knights the best tank for casters. While this is up you receive 75% less spell damage and absolutely no magic-based debuffs can be put onto you. You’re basically untouchable unless you’re up against a melee mob in which case you’re downright stupid for popping Anti-MAGIC Shell.

This cool down costs no runic power anymore so it’s free to use whenever you see fit. Also, this cool down has a total duration of 5 seconds so you’ll want to pop it when a mass of unavoidable/uninterruptable magic damage is going to smash into you.

How should it be used?

Well I just said that it should be used at a point where you are going to be hit with uninterruptable damage. However, another use for it is to clear off stacks of a magic-based debuff. So, say there is a boss that the group is constantly getting stacks of a DoT with frost magic damage on it. What you would want to do is to wait for the tick to be less than 5 seconds and be at a fairly decently numerous stack number and then pop AMS.

Now the DoT stack will fade away and begin at one yet again allowing you to be more easily healed and take significantly less damage. I’m sure you can think of plenty of other awesome ways to use AMS such as moving out of fire/shiet, but I’ll leave that up to your little creative minds.

Bone Shield

While it’s not so much of a cool down, Bone Shield is an extremely useful ability for use to have up. It costs 1 unholy rune and lasts a duration of 5 minutes. However, it generally will not last the full 5 minute duration as it only has 3 charges on it. The ability itself reduces damage taken by 20%, but you lose a charge each time you are hit.

Still, 20% less damage for 3 hits and this can be put up long before a fight even starts giving you plenty of time to recharge your unholy rune. Plus, with the Glyph of Bone Shield you run 15% faster allowing you to maneuver around into battle faster and begin your threat rotation sooner.

How should it be used?

It is on a 1 minute cool down, but do not be fooled for it is not meant to be an in combat cool down. The 1 unholy rune can be a bit of an annoying loss for one trying to build threat in a boss fight, and while the damage reduction is good, it’s not worth screwing up your rotation to no end. Instead use it a bit prior to your next pull when it is off its cool down. From there you get 20% less damage taken for the first few (and sometimes most crucial) seconds of the pull.

Death Pact

This OH SHI- Button is one of the many heals that we can throw on ourselves at any time. However, there is a catch to Death Pact, we must sacrifice one of our undead minions in order for it to heal our lives. You spineless Death Knights that actually still have emotions can leave the room now.

However, Death Pact is an excellent way to recover from a low amount of HP. What I tend to do is use the ability Raise Dead and then immediately kill off the ghoul with my Death Pact. However, this is not limited to your ghoul, it can work off of any other undead creature you control such as an Army of the Dead ghoul.

In addition to killing off one of our undead comrades, we also have to use 40 RP to use the ability, but for healing us for 25% hp that’s a modest price. Trust me, it’s more than worth it to kill off your undead minions, most of them lost the will to live as soon as the sprouted anyhow. You’re doing them a FAVOR!

How should it be used?

Death Pact is best used when you are below 50% HP and your Healer is fairly low on Mana. This should be used to buy yourself and your Healer some time as he regenerates his health and you ready yourself for the next near-death blow that the encounter provides in the next few sec- oh there it is!

See you’d have been dead had you not used Death pact so strategically. Now, assuming your Healer is downright awesome and was able to regenerate his mana the fight should go smoothly, if not, you died in vain but you at least died a little slower, and for that we thank you.

Protip: Standing in fire is okay so long as you dance.

Dancing Rune Weapon

When I first noticed Dancing Rune Weapon I was…. disappointed to say the least. However, when I actually read the tooltip/Glyph of Dancing Rune Weapon I was more than pleased to say that Blizzard just gave us the best damned Threat increasing/damage reduction talent in the god damned game. Basically what it does is for 12 seconds spawns a copy of your weapon that does the exact same abilities that you do in that time period.

Diseases/abilities/whatever, however it is 50% less damage, still though that is a decent amount of damage. However, it also gives you 20% parry in that time period which is actually pretty significant. Now with the amazing, sexiful, glyph you do 50% more threat during that 12 second duration as well.

While it is on a 1.5 min c/d and costs 60 RP, the benefits for it are more than worth it to use it whenever you possibly can. Do you need some extra threat at the beginning of a boss? Need to parry those strikes a bit more? Hell, maybe you just want to ensure that god damned Rogue doesn’t pull off of you so you pop it and scream suck it as you dominate the Threat meter. Whatever it is, DRW is your friend.

How should it be used?

Use it whenever you’re taking a decent amount or damage OR need extra TPS. This goes for practically any point of a fight, even if it is a caster you can still benefit from DRW assuming you NEED the extra TPS on that mob. How do you know if you honestly need the TPS? Well, if someone is about to pull off you that’s the best indicator, if not then if someone is at 80-90% threat and the mob is more than 25% hp.

There really is no downright wrong way to use this OH SHI- button unless it’s a caster mob that you have plenty of threat on.

Empower Rune Weapon

Elnoriah you bastard, this is a DPS C/D! Oh damn, you caught me. Here’s your frickin’ diploma.

Yes, Empower Rune Weapon is a DPS C/D, however that also means it allows us to generate threat/healing as a Blood Death Knight tank. Both of which pertain to us as a whole and of which leads me to believe that this is actually one of our OH SHI- buttons as well as those DPS Death Knights.

What this does is completely refreshes our runes no matter if they’re recharging or not, and it also gives us 25 RP. The only cost it has is the cost of us having to wait 5 minutes to use it again, so essentially it can be used once a boss fight. This means that as a Tank we have to use this the most efficient way possible.

How should it be used?

There are two ways it could be used. 1) You need more threat so some more heart strikes and some more Death Strikes and more Rune Strikes are necessary for you to have a good grip on that boss you’re up against. 2) You require more healing and so need the Death Strikes and the RP for Lichborne Death Coil heals/Death Pact sacrifice heals. Or hell you can use a combination of the two.

Either way you’ll want to use this when either you need more TPS (generally at the beginning or at the burn phase if a DPS is catching up) or when you need Healing and your Healer is too low on the blue stuff to whip up some HP for you. Use your own judgment on this, but just remember you’ll probably only get one.


Okay, so instead of going on with Blood Tap, Rune Tap, Icebound Fortitude, Lichborne, and Vampiric Blood I figure this is a good place to make a halfway mark, students. So go on, have fun and learn more about the cool downs we discussed today. Next week we will cover the rest of the OH SHI- Buttons of Cataclysm.

Happy WoWing


15 Comments leave one →
  1. December 28, 2010 5:30 PM

    You might want to mention you can solo the last boss in Vashyr. Just sayin.

  2. Alex Yang-Nikodym permalink
    December 28, 2010 11:15 PM

    Didn’t you already do an oh shit buttons post? =/

    • December 28, 2010 11:25 PM

      Yes but a few were added/tweaked in 4.0/Cata shiet so I figure I may as well just redo them.

  3. Sag permalink
    January 6, 2011 10:26 AM

    I haven’t seen where AotD was changed to not be a defensive CD as well. While the taunting is annoying in non-raids it has saved me at least 3 times in instances already (and I don’t run all that many). Too many adds? low dps and healer needs a break? Just getting owned and out of “normal” defensive CDs? I usually use mine right after empowered rune weapon. Burn all runes ERW + AotD. Also one taunt after AotD (while not in a raid) and you’ve pretty much got anything stuck to you like glue. Seriously, go make a sandwich or something, barring a taunt from someone else that boss isn’t going to go anywhere.

    I use Boneshield the same way you do most of the time, but if a boss is about to toss out a wtfpwn ability and you have the rune available it will absorb 20% of anything, so after AMS and IBF are used it’s good to use if you know a huge hit is coming. The ascendents from BRC on the second boss come to mind. Last I checked it still had a CD of 2 seconds per bone charge removal, which means unless you dodge or absorb everything it’s only going to last 4 seconds. It’s enough to take on one large strike though. Also worth noting that if bloodshield is up you do not lose a bone charge.

  4. January 13, 2011 1:31 PM

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  5. lifedeathsoul permalink
    January 15, 2011 10:48 PM

    Don’t forget one of the most important Defensive CD the DK has, AOTD. Long 10 mins cd, but it buys your healer enough time to regen his mana. You also take less damage equivalent to your parry and dodge. Ragewyn (The Austrian Death machine) uses it as well to take less damage on boss fights.

  6. Gunnhildr permalink
    January 16, 2011 12:49 PM


    Pop Dancing Rune Weapon, extra 20% Parry. Proceed to popping AotD since you get %% damage less equal to your total parry + dodge while you channel.

    Perk 1: Don’t know if that extra 20% parry would count, if it does you take at least 40% less (adding your pre-DRW avoidance) damage while channeling.

    Perk 2: Extra ghouls up for a potential Death Pact.

    Baddie: Sure it wastes about 8-10 seconds of DRW. Lesser chance to actually parry/generate threat. (Correct me if I’m wrong but I am also pretty sure you can parry/dodge WHILE channeling AotD)

    Argument: I’m sure the choice of being able to rely on a fixed 40~% damage reduction is more appealing than extra %%/chance of parry from the RNG.

    Assuming it works, I’m definitely going to try this. 😀

  7. Darth permalink
    January 17, 2011 7:00 AM

    i know it’s not a classic tanking CD, but you can use lichborne macroed with self DeathCoils to heal you up. Used right can save your toon too 🙂

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