In preparation for the updates to our guides for Mists of Pandaria Patch 5.0.4, we are releasing articles such as this one, explaining what has changed for a particular class and spec, and what the new rotation is likely to be.
Keep in mind that this is still a work in progress (both from Blizzard's side and from our own) and that this article assumes you are at least somewhat familiar with the Cataclysm version of the Blood Death Knight rotation and playstyle (such as from reading our guide).
We will first list the most important changes to the Blood Death Knight Cataclysm abilities, and then we will proceed to explaining the (likely to be) optimal rotation. Keep in mind that we do not document every single change or new ability, only those that impact the rotation.
Finally, we will give you some information about the most useful talents and glyphs you should choose.
- Scent of Blood is a very important new mechanic (it existed in Cataclysm too, although it was only remotely related to the current version). It is a stacking self-buff, that procs each time you perform a melee attack. It increases the healing and minimum healing done by your next Death Strike by 20% per stack, up to a maximum of 5 stacks. Moreover, each time you gain a Scent of Blood stack, you also gain 10 runic power.
- Control Undead allows you to take control of any hostile Undead mob (only one mob at a time, however). Bosses are immune to this ability. The mob's attack speed and casting speed are diminished, but it retains all of its abilities. You cannot summon your ghoul ( Raise Dead) while you have a controlled mob, although you can control a mob while your ghoul is active, having both up at the same time.
- Soul Reaper is a nuke, with "execute" properties. It deals 100% weapon damage and applies a debuff on the target, lasting 5 seconds. If, when the debuff expires, the target is below 35% health, it deals a moderate amount of Shadow damage. The ability's damage, when the target is not below 35% health, does not make it worth casting. Finally, if the target is killed while the debuff is active, you gain 50% haste for 10 seconds.
- Tier 1 talents offer a choice between Plague Leech and Unholy Blight (and Roiling Blood, although this is a passive ability). We discuss these talents in greater depth in the Talents section.
- Tier 2 talents offer a choice between Lichborne and Anti-Magic Zone (and Purgatory, but this is a passive talent). We discuss these talents in greater depth in the Talents section.
- Tier 4 talents offer a choice between Death Siphon, Death Pact, and Conversion. We discuss these talents in greater depth in the Talents section.
- Tier 5 talents offer a choice between Blood Tap and two passive spells, Runic Empowerment and Runic Corruption. We discuss these talents in greater depth in the Talents section.
Changes to Existing Mechanics
- The base global cooldown is now 1 second by default. Previously, this was a feature of Unholy Presence.
- Death Strike cannot be parried.
- Horn of Winter now grants 10% increased attack power to all raid members. This is due to the old buff of Horn of Winter (549 Strength and Agility to all raid members) having been removed. Horn of Winter now also lasts for 5 minutes, instead of 2 minutes (3 with the appropriate glyph).
- Frost Fever and Blood Plague now last 30 seconds.
- Blood Tap has practically been removed. There is a new spell with the same name in Mists of Pandaria, although it has nothing to do with the Cataclysm version of Blood Tap.
- Lichborne has been removed as an easily-attainable spell. It is now one of the 3 mutually exclusive tier 2 talents.
- Death Pact has been removed as a default spell. It is now one of the 3 mutually exclusive tier 4 talents, although it has been slightly changed (it is more powerful now).
- Blood Strike has been removed (although it was not part of the Blood rotation anyway). It is now only available to Unholy Death Knights.
RotationThe rotation for Blood Death Knights remains largely unchanged in Mists of Pandaria (see our Cataclysm guide for more details).
Firstly, the introduction of Scent of Blood does not change much. The buff stacks with every successful melee attack, so you will benefit from it passively without any need for action. The only implication is that you will probably end up prioritising Hit Rating and Expertise Rating to ensure that all your melee attacks land.
Secondly, in case you choose Runic Empowerment as your Tier 5 talent (which, we believe, is going to be the best choice), you will want to always have one Blood rune available, so that Runic Empowerment will always refresh an Unholy or Frost rune, which you can then use on Death Strike. In the event that you choose Runic Corruption instead of Runic Empowerment, then this is no longer a concern.
Finally, because Scarlet Fever causes Blood Boil to refresh the diseases on targets it hits, Blood Boil is the most efficient means of keeping up diseases against single targets.
Multiple Target RotationWhen against 2-4 enemies, your go-to ability will be Heart Strike, which provides much higher damage than Blood Boil. Against more than 4 targets, Blood Boil pulls ahead. Of course, in both cases, you will want to have both your diseases up on the targets, and you will maintain them by using Blood Boil.
CooldownsNothing significant has changed in terms of defensive cooldowns for Blood Death Knights ( Blood Tap has been removed, and Lichborne and Death Pact are now part of mutually exclusive talent choices with other useful survival talents). Death Knights retain their characterstic of having many active mitigation abilities.
TalentsTier 1 talents offer a choice between 3 talents that are related to your diseases. Plague Leech can have a minor influence on your survivability, granting you a Death Rune by consuming your diseases on the target. This can then be used to cast a Rune Tap.
The other two talents simply make it easier to spread your diseases, and do not affect your tanking ability directly. They may have usefulness when you encounter adds.
Tier 2 talents offer a choice between 3 survival talents. Lichborne allows you to heal yourself with Death Coil for 10 seconds every 2 minutes.
Anti-Magic Zone places a protective barrier at a target location, reducing the magic damage taken by any raid members inside it by 75%. The zone lasts for 10 seconds, or until it absorbs a fixed amount of damage (rather low). It is unchanged from its Cataclysm version (except that it can now be placed at a targeted location), and it will remain useful for reducing the damage of a powerful AoE attack, and less useful for reducing damage that comes in over time.
Purgatory allows you to survive an attack that would otherwise kill you, every 3 minutes. The amount of damage that is prevented from reaching you (i.e., the amount of damage that would have been the "overkill" portion) will be turned into a healing absorption effect on you, lasting 3 seconds. During those 3 seconds, you cannot die, and all damage done to you is added to the healing absorption effect. If, after 3 seconds, you were not healed for that amount (so, if the absorption effect still exists), you will die.
The mechanics of the encounter you are progressing on will determine your choice. Anti-Magic zone is useful as a raid cooldown any time there is a big magic damage attack that you want to mitigate. Purgatory can be useful in allowing you to bypass encounter mechanics, while Lichborne simply allows you to help out the healers by keeping yourself alive during times of heavy damage.
Tier 3 talents offer a choice between 3 crowd-control and utility talents. Death's Advance will probably be the default choice unless encounter mechanics require something else, simply due to the fact that it offers a passive 10% increased movement speed at all times.
Chilblains will be useful when there are adds that must be kited.
Asphyxiate, which is an improved Strangulate (half the cooldown, no rune cost, stun instead of silence, when possible), will mostly have PvP applications and, unless there is a specific encounter where it is for some reason particularly beneficial, it will not show up in PvE.
Tier 4 talents offer a choice between 3 self-healing talents. Death Pact will be the default choice in most situations.
At the same time, Death Siphon is quite powerful and, despite the fact that it costs runes, making it compete with Death Strike (and providing considerably less healing than Death Strike), it can be used at range, which may be useful in some situations.
Conversion is currently the least appealing talent.
Tier 5 talents offer a choice between 3 talents that improve your rune regeneration. Runic Empowerment or Runic Corruption, though we believe the former to be the best choice (although it makes the playstyle somewhat more difficult).
Tier 6 talents offer a choice between 3 crowd-control talents.
The stun provided by Remorseless Winter may be of some use against trash, preventing you from taking damage from the mobs for the duration of the stun.
GlyphsWhile many Death Knight glyphs are interesting and have applicability for PvP or questing, in terms of PvE performance, there are only a few Major Glyphs that we consider worth mentioning.
- Glyph of Dancing Rune Weapon greatly increases your threat generation while Dancing Rune Weapon is active, but reduces the damage that it deals by 25%. Using this glyph will depend on which you prefer between threat and DPS.
- Glyph of Icebound Fortitude allows you to use Icebound Fortitude much more often, but reduces its duration by 75%. This can be useful on fights where you need to mitigate high damage regularly (and often), but when this damage is not sustained.
- Glyph of Vampiric Blood increases the healing you receive during Vampiric Blood by 15%, but causes Vampiric Blood to no longer grant health.
- Glyph of Death Coil grants your Death Coil the ability to be cast on allies. When doing so, it will place a damage absorption shield on them.
- Glyph of Anti-Magic Shell allows your Anti-Magic Shell to absorb all the magic damage taken (up from 75% without the glyph), up to 50% of your maximum health. In practice, this will allow Anti-Magic Shell to absorb slightly more damage, in some situations, improving your survivability.