Blood Death Knight Tank Spec, Builds, Talents, and Glyphs (MoP 5.4)

Blood Death Knight Art Image
General Information

On this page, we present the viable talent and glyph choices for Blood Death Knights in World of Warcraft MoP 5.4. We detail what each of the talents and glyphs do and in which situations they should be taken.

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 Reniat, the author of the Blood Death Knight guides on the Official Forums and MMO-Champion.

1. Talent Choices↑top

Level Choices
56 Roiling Blood Plague Leech Unholy Blight
57 Lichborne Anti-Magic Zone Purgatory
58 Death's Advance Chilblains Asphyxiate
60 Death Pact Death Siphon Conversion
75 Blood Tap Runic Empowerment Runic Corruption
90 Gorefiend's Grasp Remorseless Winter Desecrated Ground
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  • Performance-enhancing
  • Survival
  • Crowd Control
  • Movement
  • Utility
  • Situational

There is no longer such a thing as a default build. Most of the talents are now viable. They can easily be changed, thanks to Dust of Disappearance Icon Dust of Disappearance (and Tome of the Clear Mind Icon Tomes of the Clear Mind from level 86 to 90). You will frequently find yourself changing talents and glyphs between encounters, in order to adapt your play style to different mechanics. Therefore, it is important to understand what each of your talents does and how they affect your play style.

2. Tier 1 Talents↑top

Tier 1 offers you a choice between 3 talents that interact with your diseases.

  • Roiling Blood Icon Roiling Blood passively causes Blood Boil Icon Blood Boil to trigger Pestilence Icon Pestilence if it hits a diseased target.
  • Plague Leech Icon Plague Leech is an active ability, with a 25-second cooldown, which consumes your diseases on the target, activating two depleted runes as Death runes. It can only be cast if both Frost Fever Icon Frost Fever and Blood Plague Icon Blood Plague are on the target, and it activates the following two runes, based on your specialization.
    • Blood: 1 Frost and 1 Unholy.
    • Frost: 1 Frost and 1 Unholy.
    • Unholy: 1 Blood and 1 Frost.
  • Unholy Blight Icon Unholy Blight is an active ability with a 1.5-minute cooldown, which causes you to spread your diseases to all enemy targets within 10 yards of you, for 10 seconds.

All 3 talents in this tier are interesting, but currently, Plague Leech Icon Plague Leech is the best choice in terms of single-target fights, providing a substantial improvement to your tanking performance. In multiple-target fights, as we will see, Roiling Blood Icon Roiling Blood may still be preferable.

Plague Leech allows you to gain a boost in the number of Death Strike Icon Death Strikes you can use over the course of the fight, by using the ability on cooldown, and then re-applying your diseases immediately with Outbreak Icon Outbreak (which, if you are using the Glyph of Outbreak Icon Glyph of Outbreak, has no cooldown). You can read more about this technique in the relevant section of the rotation page).

Roiling Blood Icon Roiling Blood allows you to easily spread your diseases to targets around your current target, simply by using Blood Boil Icon Blood Boil. You will get many procs of Crimson Scourge Icon Crimson Scourge, which make your Blood Boil free, so you will be spreading diseases to adds at virtually no cost. This talent is recommended when adds continue to enter the fight at regular intervals, in which cases you will see greater overall benefit from this than from Plague Leech.

Unholy Blight Icon Unholy Blight also allows you to seamlessly apply your diseases to many targets, but it can only be used once every 90 seconds, so it is really only useful in encounters where the adds enter the fight at longer intervals.

3. Tier 2 Talents↑top

Tier 2 talents offer you a choice between 3 abilities that improve your survivability (and, in the case of Anti-Magic Zone Icon Anti-Magic Zone, your raids' survivability as well).

  • Lichborne Icon Lichborne is an active ability with a 2-minute cooldown. It lasts for 10 seconds, during which time casting Death Coil Icon Death Coil on yourself heals you.
  • Anti-Magic Zone Icon Anti-Magic Zone is a raid cooldown. The ability has a 2-minute cooldown, and it allows you to place a bubble at a location on the ground. The bubble reduces all damage taken by raid members inside it by 40%, and it lasts 3 seconds.
  • Purgatory Icon Purgatory passively allows you to survive a killing blow, once every 3 minutes. The attack that would otherwise kill you places a 3-second healing absorption debuff on you instead. The debuff absorbs healing equal to the amount of damage that the killing blow would have done to you. While the debuff is active, you cannot be killed, and any damage taken is added to the healing absorption effect. If the effect is still present when the 3 seconds run out (meaning, if you haven't been healed for the entire amount by then), you will die.

Your choice here will depend entirely on the requirements of the encounter and on your own personal preference.

Anti-Magic Zone Icon Anti-Magic Zone should be taken if there is use for it in the fight (such as predictable raid-wide magic damage), since it benefits your entire raid.

Lichborne Icon Lichborne provides a rather reliable, on-demand heal that can save your life. We believe this alternative to be preferable to Purgatory Icon Purgatory, excluding specific encounter mechanics.

Purgatory Icon Purgatory can save your life, it can allow you to overcome mistakes from your own part or from your healers, and it can help you bypass otherwise deadly encounter mechanics.

4. Tier 3 Talents↑top

Tier 3 talents offer you a choice between abilities that improve your movement, kiting, and crowd-control.

  • Death's Advance Icon Death's Advance passively increases your movement speed by 10%, and actively (with a 30-second cooldown) grants you 30% movement speed increase for 6 seconds. The movement speed bonus offered by this ability stacks with other movement speed increases (such as the one from Unholy Presence Icon Unholy Presence).
  • Chilblains Icon Chilblains causes the targets on which you cast Frost Fever Icon Frost Fever to be slowed by 50% for 10 seconds. Additionally, it causes your Chains of Ice Icon Chains of Ice to immobilize the target for 3 seconds.
  • Asphyxiate Icon Asphyxiate is an improved version of Strangulate Icon Strangulate, which it replaces. It has a 30-second cooldown, and it stuns the target for 5 seconds. In the event that the target is immune to stuns, it silences them instead.

Death's Advance Icon Death's Advance is by far the best choice here, in the majority of situations. The other two talents could have some usefulness, although only situationally.

5. Tier 4 Talents↑top

Tier 4 talents offer you a choice between 3 self-healing abilities.

  • Death Pact Icon Death Pact instantly drains 50% of your minion's maximum health, healing you for 50% of your own maximum health. It has a 2-minute cooldown.
  • Death Siphon Icon Death Siphon costs 1 Death Rune, and instantly deals a small amount of Shadowfrost damage to the target, healing you for 150% of the damage done. It can be used from as much as 40 yards away.
  • Conversion Icon Conversion is an ability that can be toggled on and off at will. Toggling it on costs 5 runic power, and keeping it on costs 5 runic power per second. For each second that it is active, Conversion restores 3% of your maximum health. While Conversion is active, you can only gain runic power from using runes. Note that having Conversion active does not prevent you from performing any actions (i.e., it is not a channeled spell).

We believe that Death Pact Icon Death Pact is the best choice here, not only because of its nice amount of healing, but also because it has no resource cost.

6. Tier 5 Talents↑top

Tier 5 talents offer you a choice between 3 means of improving your rune regeneration rate.

Blood Tap Icon Blood Tap and Runic Corruption Icon Runic Corruption are the top choices here, with Runic Empowerment Icon Runic Empowerment being considerably less valuable.

Blood Tap provides you with a lot of control over your rune situation, and this is its main strength. It allows you to chain a number of Death Strikes (by using up your Blood Tap charges), and this is of particular benefit if you want to stack Mastery: Blood Shield Icon Mastery: Blood Shield on you before a damaging mechanic strikes.

Runic Corruption is more stable, and will provide roughly the same survivability as Blood Tap. It also has the benefit of boosting your DPS somewhat.

Runic Empowerment is quite unreliable in the Death Strikes it provides, since you are relying on a 45% chance of it proccing each time you use Rune Strike Icon Rune Strike. The result of this is that you risk often finding yourself unable to get your extra Death Strikes when you need them, even if the number of Death Strikes it provides over the entire course of the fight may be comparable to the other two talents (although it lags slightly behind here as well).

7. Tier 6 Talents↑top

Tier 6 talents offer you a choice between 3 crowd-control abilities.

  • Gorefiend's Grasp Icon Gorefiend's Grasp places a buff on an ally or enemy, which pulls all enemy targets (enemies of the Death Knight, not the target itself) within 20 yards to the location of the target. It has a 1-minute cooldown.
  • Remorseless Winter Icon Remorseless Winter causes all enemies within 8 yards of the Death Knight to be slowed each second for 8 seconds. Each time they are slowed, their movement speed is reduced by 15%. When they have been slowed 5 times, the targets become stunned for 6 seconds. Remorseless Winter has a 1-minute cooldown.
  • Desecrated Ground Icon Desecrated Ground places a friendly void-zone under you, lasting 10 seconds. While you stand in this void zone, you are immune to effects that cause loss of control of your character.

The choice here is absolutely preference-based. It is possible that some specific encounter mechanics will cause one talent to be favoured over the others. Only Remorseless Winter Icon Remorseless Winter may have some usefulness in stunning trash mobs so that they cease to deal damage for a few seconds.

8. Major Glyphs↑top

There are several Major Glyphs that can be beneficial to you as a Blood Death Knight.

  • Glyph of Festering Blood Icon Glyph of Festering Blood causes Blood Boil Icon Blood Boil to damage all targets as if they were infected with Blood Plague Icon Blood Plague and Frost Fever Icon Frost Fever. This glyph is excellent if you need to do high burst threat (and damage) to targets who are not alive long enough to justify applying diseases to them.
  • Glyph of Outbreak Icon Glyph of Outbreak removes the cooldown from Outbreak Icon Outbreak, but causes it to have a 30 runic power cost instead. This glyph is practically mandatory, since it enables a particularly beneficial interaction with Plague Leech Icon Plague Leech.
  • Glyph of Icebound Fortitude Icon Glyph of Icebound Fortitude reduces the cooldown of Icebound Fortitude Icon Icebound Fortitude by 50%, but also reduces its duration by 75%. This glyph is excellent when you need to use Icebound Fortitude more often, but for very short periods of time. Unless you really need the reduced cooldown, you should not use this glyph.
  • Glyph of Vampiric Blood Icon Glyph of Vampiric Blood increases the bonus healing received while Vampiric Blood Icon Vampiric Blood is active by 15%, but Vampiric Blood no longer grants you any health. Depending on the fight conditions, this glyph can sometimes be beneficial. You should consult with your healers.
  • Glyph of Regenerative Magic Icon Glyph of Regenerative Magic procs each time your Anti-Magic Shell Icon Anti-Magic Shell expires from you without having been fully consumed by damage. When this happens, the cooldown of Anti-Magic Shell is reduced by an amount based on how much damage it had absorbed (the more damage absorbed, the smaller the reduction), up to a maximum of 50%.
  • Glyph of Anti-Magic Shell Icon Glyph of Anti-Magic Shell improves your Anti-Magic Shell Icon Anti-Magic Shell, by increasing the amount of incoming damage that it absorbs to as much as 100%, up from 75%. Note that Anti-Magic Shell's absorption still remains limited by 50% of your maximum health. This glyph always has the potential of being beneficial, so you should take it if you do not need to use another glyph instead.
  • Glyph of Death Coil Icon Glyph of Death Coil causes Death Coil Icon Death Coil to place a damage absorption effect, if cast on an ally. This will generally not be a worthwhile thing to do, but it remains a possibility in some remote situations.

9. Minor Glyphs↑top

There are no interesting or relevant Minor Glyphs.

10. Changelog↑top

  • 10 Sep. 2013: Patch 5.4 update.
  • 28 Jul. 2013: Slightly reworded the evaluation of the Runic Corruption talent.
  • 20 May 2013: Patch 5.3 update: nothing to change.
  • 03 Apr. 2013: Changed Desecrated Ground Icon Desecrated Ground's category to be situational, since it allows players to avoid certain effects that cause loss of control of the character.
  • 31 Mar. 2013: Performed three updates to the page.
    • Updated the relative value of Tier 1 talents (now accurately states that the benefits of Plague Leech Icon Plague Leech are effectively minor, and that one of the other two talents is a better choice).
    • Updated the explanation of Tier 5 talents. Gave a higher priority to Runic Corruption Icon Runic Corruption, more accurately explained the benefits of Blood Tap Icon Blood Tap, and more accurately explained the drawbacks of Runic Empowerment Icon Runic Empowerment.
    • Added mention that Glyph of Icebound Fortitude Icon Glyph of Icebound Fortitude should not be taken unless you really need the cooldown reduction.
  • 07 Mar. 2013: Patch 5.2 update.
    • Updated Asphyxiate Icon Asphyxiate explanation to reflect the new 30-second cooldown of the ability.
    • Updated Conversion Icon Conversion explanation to reflect the new 5 runic power cost (both initial and per second).