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Blood Death Knight Tank Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities (Legion 7.0.3)

Last updated Yesterday at 08:08 by Vlad 20 comments

Table of Contents

General Information

On this page, we list your Blood Death Knight core abilities and how they should be used together (rotation) in World of Warcraft Legion 7.0.3. 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.

About Our Reviewer

This guide has been reviewed and approved by Aughyssul, a top Blood Death Knight who raids in WHATEVER WERE AWESOME, streams on Twitch, and whom you can follow on Twitter.

1. Single Target Rotation

Generally speaking, your goal during each fight is to use your resources (Runes and Runic Power) to generate threat and to stay alive. The recommended playstyle is based on the following priority of abilities.

  1. Apply and maintain your disease (Blood Plague Icon Blood Plague) on the target using Blood Boil Icon Blood Boil.
  2. Make use of your Crimson Scourge Icon Crimson Scourge procs to cast Death and Decay Icon Death and Decay.
  3. Use Marrowrend Icon Marrowrend to maintain at least 5 stacks of Bone Shield Icon Bone Shield.
  4. Spend your Runic Power on Death Strike Icon Death Strike.
    • Remember that Death Strike Icon Death Strike is your main means of active mitigation, and it should not be used freely. More on this below.
  5. Use free global cooldowns on Blood Boil Icon Blood Boil while you are building Bone Shield Icon Bone Shield stacks.
  6. Spend your excess Runes (only if you have 5 stacks of Bone Shield Icon Bone Shield and do not need to use Marrowrend Icon Marrowrend) on using Death and Decay Icon Death and Decay on cooldown, and on using Heart Strike Icon Heart Strike.

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

When tanking 2 enemies, you should use the following priority.

  1. Apply and maintain your disease (Blood Plague Icon Blood Plague) on the target using Blood Boil Icon Blood Boil.
  2. Cast Death and Decay Icon Death and Decay on cooldown.
    • You will occasionally get Crimson Scourge Icon Crimson Scourge procs that make your Death and Decay cost no Runes and have its cooldown reset, so make sure to keep an eye on this.
  3. Use Marrowrend Icon Marrowrend to maintain 5 stacks of Bone Shield Icon Bone Shield.
  4. Use free global cooldowns on Blood Boil Icon Blood Boil while you are building Bone Shield Icon Bone Shield stacks.
  5. Spend your Runic Power on Death Strike Icon Death Strike.
    • Remember that Death Strike Icon Death Strike is your main means of active mitigation, and it should not be used freely. More on this below.
  6. Spend your excess Runes (only if you have 5 stacks of Bone Shield Icon Bone Shield and do not need to use Marrowrend Icon Marrowrend) on Heart Strike Icon Heart Strike.
  7. Spend your excess Runic Power on Death Strike Icon Death Strike.

If you are tanking 3+ enemies, you should do the same except you will only aim to keep 1 stack of Bone Shield Icon Bone Shield, and you will instead spend Runes on Heart Strike Icon Heart Strike (at the expense of Marrowrend Icon Marrowrend) to generate high amounts of Runic Power, which you will still then dump on Death Strike Icon Death Strike.

3. Taunting

Dark Command Icon Dark Command is your main taunting ability. It only works on a single target and has an 8-second cooldown.

Death Grip Icon 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.

4. Survival Cooldowns

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 2 kinds of cooldowns: proactive cooldowns (to protect yourself before high damage spikes occur) and cooldowns that are both proactive and 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.

Proactive Cooldowns
Anti-Magic Shell Icon Anti-Magic Shell
  • Reduces all magic damage taken by 100% (up to a maximum of 50% of your maximum health).
  • Prevents most magic debuffs from being applied on you.
Dancing Rune Weapon Icon Dancing Rune Weapon Grants +40% chance to parry for 8 seconds, also mirroring all your attacks (meaning it helps with DPS and applications of Blood Plague Icon Blood Plague).
Mixed (Proactive or Reactive) Cooldowns
Death Strike Icon Death Strike
  • Heals you for an amount based on your attack power.
  • Protects you with a damage absorption shield (thanks to Mastery: Blood Shield Icon Mastery: Blood Shield).
Vampiric Blood Icon Vampiric Blood
  • Grants you 30% additional health.
  • Increases the healing you receive by 30%.

5. Optional Read: Mastering Your Blood Death Knight

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.

5.1. Runes and Runic Power

Death Knights use a dual resource system of runes and Runic Power. While it is quite straightforward in how it works, we will explain it here for the sake of completion.

5.1.1. Runes

You have a total of 6 Runes, which are available by default. Some of your abilities have Rune costs, and whenever you use an ability that consumes one or more Runes, those Runes will immediately begin recharging. The exact amount of time it takes a Rune to recharge depends on how much Haste you have.

Whenever a Rune is consumed, you gain 10 Runic Power (more on that below).

5.1.2. Runic Power

Runic Power is a resource that resembles Rage, in the sense that it decays when out of combat, but does not decay during combat. As mentioned above, consuming Runes generates 10 Runic Power per Rune spent, and this is the primary means of generating Runic Power, although some abilities also help with this. You can have a maximum of 115 Runic Power.

5.2. 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 fair 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.

5.3. Detailed Cooldown Usage

5.3.1. Anti-Magic Shell

Anti-Magic Shell Icon 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.

Moreover, if you are using the Anti-Magic Barrier Icon Anti-Magic Barrier tier 3 talent, you can use the ability to react to high amounts of damage, not necessarily magic damage, which can threaten to kill you.

5.3.2. Dancing Rune Weapon

Dancing Rune Weapon Icon Dancing Rune Weapon grants you 40% chance to parry for 8 seconds. As such, it should be used before you take a high amount of physical attacks (or hard-hitting ones). Additionally, the summoned weapon will copy your abilities, increasing your DPS for its duration, and allowing you to apply double Blood Plague Icon Blood Plague debuffs.

5.3.3. Vampiric Blood

Vampiric Blood Icon Vampiric Blood is your most powerful cooldown. If grants you 30% extra health for 10 seconds, and increases your healing received (from all sources, including self-heals) by 30%. It can be used both reactively and in anticipation.

5.4. Death Strike and Blood Shield

Death Strike Icon 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 Icon Mastery: Blood Shield), you cannot simply use Death Strike whenever it is available.

The most immediately apparent effect of Death Strike is that it heals you, so it is always well used after you have taken damage to heal yourself back up a bit and help the healers. Be smart about when you are using Death Strike. As it depends on your damage taken in the previous 5 seconds, it should be used after taking high damage. Of course, capping your Runic Power while not using Death Strike should also be avoided.

You can also use it in preparation for taking damage, both by topping yourself up, and also by stacking your Blood Shield to mitigate more damage.

Regarding your Mastery, it is important to remember that the shields provided by Death Strike only protect against Physical damage. It is also interesting to note that the shield from your Mastery also counts as active mitigation, which is typically relevant for boss abilities that take this into account.

You should minimise Death Strike overhealing by making sure not to use Death Strike when at or near full health. While using it at these times does still grant a shield from your Mastery, it effectively wastes half of the ability's effect.

5.5. Bone Shield

Your Marrowrend Icon Marrowrend ability applies 3 stacks of Bone Shield Icon Bone Shield each time you use it, up to a maximum of 10 stacks. As long as you have at least 1 Bone Shield stack active, your damage taken is reduced by 20%, and your Haste is increased by 10%. Each attack made against you consumes a Bone Shield charge. Bone Shield also has a duration of 30 seconds, at which time the stacks would simply drop off you (although this is unlikely to ever occur during a boss encounter).

Both physical as well as magic attacks against you consume charges, but damage from DoTs and ground effects does not always do so.

Keeping Bone Shield up is paramount to playing Blood properly. The Haste increase is essential for Rune regeneration and the damage reduction is essential for survivability. Moreover, if you have taken the Ossuary Icon Ossuary talent, then with 5 or more stacks of Bone Shield, the cost of Death Strike Icon Death Strike is reduced by 5 Runic Power, which allows you to use it more frequently.

6. ChangeLog

  • 21 Jul. 2016: Slightly updated the single target and AoE rotations to give Blood Boil more importance. Also clarified that Death Strike should not simply be used on cooldown, since it is part of your active mitigation.
  • 18 Jul. 2016: Updated for the Legion pre-patch.
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