Blood Death Knight Best Covenants, Soulbinds, and Conduits — Dragonflight 10.0.2
Covenants, Soulbinds, and Conduits are the most important character customization options in Shadowlands. They have a substantial impact on your toolkit and performance as Blood Death Knight. This page's purpose is to help you pick the right options according to the content you intend to do in Shadowlands.
Please be aware that as of the Dragonflight Pre-Patch and Dragonflight expansion, all Covenant abilities, Soulbinds, and Conduits will only function while within the Shadowlands. This page will temporarily remain as a reference.
This page assumes that you are already familiar with Covenants, Soulbinds, and Conduits. If that is not the case, we have a number of pages that can help you get up to speed:
- Covenants Guide, which explains what Covenants are, what perks they bring, and how you can join one;
- Death Knight Covenant Abilities, which lists all the abilities that Death Knights gain by joining each Covenant;
- How To Change Covenant?, which tells you how you can switch Covenant (rejoining a former Covenant will require you to perform a number of tasks to regain their trusts);
- General Soulbind Guide, which explains what Soulbinds are and how you can pledge yourself to them to open up their Soulbind tree;
- Death Knight Conduits, which lists all of the Conduits available to Death Knights.
Summary of the Best Covenants, Soulbinds, and Conduits
Blood Death Knights have no strictly superior Covenant; instead, their strengths and the utility they provide varies based on the content, your strategy towards beating said content, and even in some cases the race of your character!
We have summarized some of the strengths and weaknesses of each one in the table below:
|Kyrian||Raiding||Excels at priority damage and provides 8% Damage Reduction every minute affecting any target with Shackle the Unworthy on it. The second health potion and full dispel from Phial of Serenity is also amazing as a tank. Top notch choice.||S|
|M+||With the addition of Final Sentence as a second Legendary, Shackle the Unworthy effectively translates into infinite runes every pull. Extremely fun playstyle, and very strong when it comes to damage, with the 4-piece set bonus papering over all of the defensive shortfalls of this Covenant choice. Phial of Serenity is an extremely potent utility choice in some dungeons, particularly Plaguefall.||S|
|Night Fae||Raiding||Despite Rampant Transference simplifying the rotation slightly, and high-rank Conduits making hard-casting Death's Due on cooldown a viable choice, this Covenant is still a whole lot of pain for very little additional gain. It thrives on predictable, largely stationary encounters, and loses value everywhere else. Soulshape can situationally be useful for some mechanics, particularly for Dausegne, the Fallen Oracle.||S|
|M+||The addition of Rampant Transference and Withering Ground scaling to levels where it is perfectly okay to hardcast Death's Due on-cooldown has turned this from a minority choice to one of the best world-first key choice. That said, this all assumes proper play and some support from your group. It is also our strongest large-scale AoE Covenant choice when it comes to damage, and the least dependent on cooldowns.||S|
|Necrolord||Raiding||Provides burst damage on a longer cooldown than Kyrian, the equivalent of 6 runes worth of Bone Shield charges, and limited utility through the unwieldy nature of Fleshcraft, although it can situationally provide you with a free 20% damage reduction cooldown for tankbusters. The additional grip potential can be make-or-break in some situations (Anduin Wrynn's down phase being the prime example in Sepulcher of the First Ones). Great, but should be handled with care. Fleshcraft is an amazing rotational defensive button, and since we still have downtime, we do not even pay a harsh price for it. Two of our soulbinds, including the most common pick (Emeni), allow this to also be a damage bonus.||A|
|M+||Abomination Limb's 2-minute cooldown is highlighted more in Mythic+ than in raids, which translates into a much, much larger amount of upfront damage every other pull, instead of every pull. It is also uncapped as of Patch 9.1.5, meaning that this damage will be spread evenly across all targets, making it even more reliable. Just like in raids, you will need to be aware of cases where Abomination Limb can ruin your encounters, particularly on Mistcaller in Mists of Tirna Scithe, as the vulpin from Freeze Tag can get gripped. Wherever you decide to go, Fleshcraft even nicer in Mythic+ as you are typically freely able to channel it at the end of a pull or in downtime. Emeni and Plague Deviser Marileth reward you for using it, and it is the activator for the dungeon buff present in Plaguefall. What is there to dislike?||A|
|Venthyr||Raiding||The ability for this Covenant to scale up to 5 targets for the Runic Power gain is largely a technical footnote for raiding, as the type of content typically has smaller target counts than this. It is still valuable, and Door of Shadows can also be situationally awesome, but slightly behind the Kyrian competitors. Its Covenant Legendary and general toolkit runs counter to our 2-piece set bonus, as our goal with it is to spend Runes, not RP. This is effectively our weakest Covenant option in 9.2.||D|
|M+||Both the Runic Power Swarming Mist provides and the effect of the covenant legendary run counter to keeping uptime on Dancing Rune Weapon through the use of Blood DK 2-Piece. As a result, this is the weakest covenant by far - the RP it provides ends up in overcap, the covenant legendary is just low damage, and if you try to play around it, you end up sacrificing more than you put in.||D|
Since Patch 9.1.5 brings the ability to swap Covenants freely (after reaching Renown 80 on one of them), you will typically be interested in switching between, at the very least, Necrolord, Kyrian, and Venthyr; Night Fae will likely rarely see play as they are plentiful, most of what can be done with Soulshape can be done with Door of Shadows, and Death's Due is both punishing and unwieldy. We have prepared a small list of notorious cases where a certain Covenant has an edge:
|Anduin Wrynn||Necrolord||The down phase of the encounter features adds that need to be killed before they reach the center of the room, and this has a major effect on your success in Phase 3 (totalling up to 200% extra damage and 90% damage reduction). Based on PTR testing, and since each tank can only do this phase once, we recommend two Necrolord Death Knights for this encounter.|
The Dragonflight Pre-Patch keeps the Soulbind and Covenant systems active; for good or bad, this means that we actually need to care about this, even if just for one month.
Fortunately, for us, the answer is very straightforward - Night Fae is an absolute winner as most of the rotational changes brought forward by the new talents (specifically, hard-casting Death and Decay) all work in their advantage.
Niya is your go-to Soulbind, with Dreamweaver being a throughput choice with a very high risk-reward constraint. As a result, we will just focus on Niya:
Best Conduits for Blood Death Knight
Conduits are very similar to Battle for Azeroth's Azerite Traits in that they are something that you specifically target to enhance your character. They are also shared among all Covenants with the exception of one Potency Conduit, which is Covenant-specific and interact with the Class ability from that Covenant. These are Proliferation, Impenetrable Gloom, Brutal Grasp and Withering Ground. You will always want one of these as a Blood Death Knight.
Best Potency Conduits for Blood Death Knight
- Proliferation, Impenetrable Gloom, Brutal Grasp, or Withering Ground
- Withering Plague
- Eternal Hunger
- Adaptive Armor Fragment
Best Endurance Conduits for Blood Death Knight
- Meat Shield
- Condensed Anima Sphere
- Reinforced Shell
Best Finesse Conduits for Blood Death Knight
- Fleeting Wind
- Spirit Drain
- Chilled Resilience
Conduits for Blood Death Knight
The Conduits mentioned under each sub-section are ranked from best to worst.
Blood Death Knight Potency Conduits
- Proliferation (Kyrian) increases the duration of Shackle the Unworthy by 3 seconds and increases the damage dealt quite significantly — a must have for any Kyrian Blood Death Knight.
- Impenetrable Gloom (Venthyr) increases the dodge of Swarming Mist by an additional 3% and increases the damage dealt by a sizable amount — must have for any Venthyr Blood Death Knight.
- Withering Ground (Night Fae) increases the damage dealt by Death's Due by a large amount — a must have for any Night Fae Blood Death Knight.
- Brutal Grasp (Necrolord) simply makes Abomination Limb deal increased damage — a must have for any Necrolord Blood Death Knight.
- Withering Plague increases the damage done by Heart Strike; nice and simple. At 226 item level this is a 24% increase!
- Adaptive Armor Fragment is new for Patch 9.1 and will increase your Strength by a set percentage of your total Strength (3.2% at 226 item level) when you are healed by another player. However, at the level it is set to at the moment you would only use this Conduit if you wanted a bit more DPS and had to pick three Potency Conduits in your chosen Soulbind path.
- Eternal Hunger is a surprise stemming from a hidden feature (bug?) in World of Warcraft: Dancing Rune Weapon is considered a minion. With the Blood DK 2-Piece equipped, and particularly once you have acquired Blood DK 4-Piece as well, this is a 12.6% increase on all the damage Dancing Rune Weapon does. It also buffs Bloodworms and your ghoul from Raise Dead, but those are footnotes compared to a ~7% DPS gain on a given fight.
- Debilitating Malady increases the damage done by Blood Plague by a quite small margin. At 226 item level this equates to a 1.8% increase (stacking 3 times) on a spell that deals 8% Attack Power on its own. Small increase to a small damage dealing spell.
As you can see from the list of Conduits above, there is not really much to pick from, which is why it is not essential for a Blood Death Knight to use 2/3x Potency where available.
Blood Death Knight Endurance Conduits
- Meat Shield increases the duration of Dancing Rune Weapon by 3 seconds. This seems like a potency Conduit, but it is classed as Endurance, so that is a free win for us! It will also increase your health by 2% each time you parry within the active time of Dancing Rune Weapon for 15 seconds (stacking up to 2 times).
- Reinforced Shell increases the size of Anti-Magic Zone by 15% and the duration based on Conduit rank. This Conduit is great if you Anti-Magic Zone will not expire before the max duration and you require it to be active for longer.
- Blood Bond adds a party wide heal when you use Rune Tap. A nice bonus but you would never go out of your way to spend a rune to heal the group. The heal is not large enough to attract this kind of play, so it is simply a perk rather than anything special to drastically change the way the ability functions.
- Condensed Anima Sphere is new for Patch 9.1 and will heal you for a small percentage of your maximum health when you take damage every 10 seconds. The total amount of healing provided by this Conduit is not worthwhile enough to consider.
- Insatiable Appetite. This Conduit increases the MINIMUM healing of Death Strike. This would be of value in scenarios where you have taken no damage in the last 5 seconds and in a majority of gameplay scenarios this is not going to be the case as when you need healing... you have taken damage. Such is the way of how the spec works. Avoid.
- Hardened Bones is permanently disabled in the Dragonflight pre-patch, even if you have not selected Unholy Endurance as a talent. As a result, you should just not use it.
Blood Death Knight Finesse Conduits
- Spirit Drain allows your interrupt to generate Runic Power. Embrace your inner demon hunter and generate resources when you interrupt! At Rank 11 (Empowered Mythic Sanctum of Domination) this will generate 20 Runic Power (5 Runic Power more than a standard Heart Strike for free).
- Chilled Resilience reduces the cooldown of Icebound Fortitude. This is yet another Conduit that should be Potency but is classed as something else. At Rank 11 (Empowered Mythic Sanctum of Domination), it reduces the cooldown by 40 seconds!
- Fleeting Wind gives a small speed boost to the start of your Death's Advance. The power of the above Finesse Conduits mean that this one unfortunately will not see regular play.
- Unending Grip adds a slow to your Death Grip, a slow that using Heart Strike does too as a standard interaction. Only useful at high ranks in PvP really, as you do not really grip something to you in PvE that is trying to escape. It is usually you trying to escape from them and bringing them to you is not the right move.
Choosing the right Covenant
Before going more in depth about Covenants, it is important to understand that any of the 4 Covenants can be played as Blood Death Knight. There will definitely be situationally better and worse options, but the choice will not be hindering your daily activities.
We have quickly highlighted the strengths of each Covenant below:
- Kyrian — Good for all content styles and highest single-target DPS
- Venthyr — Strong AoE damage and on-demand full Runic Power bar in M+. Loses steam once you acquire Blood DK 2-Piece.
- Night Fae — Great at everything, with very few rotational changes brought along from the Dragonflight pre-patch talent changes. Very straightforward with no changes to rotational priorities or additional abilities to manage.
- Necrolord — Strong damage in AoE + Generates Bone Shield charges.
Due to the relatively unlimited swapping enabled in Patch 9.1.5, we are now in a situation where we can finally pick a Covenant based on the content we are doing!
Kyrian For Blood Death Knight
Kyrian is a great option for Blood Death Knights.
Shackle the Unworthy deals a large amount of damage over time, provides you with 8% damage reduction and has as a small chance to spread from Rune Spending Attacks ( Heart Strike and Marrowrend). It will spread the debuff at the remaining duration and will spread to a target within 8 yards of you without a debuff.
Summon Steward summons an owlkin steward. You can speak with your steward and he will offer you a range of services, the most important of which are Phial of Serenity. This potion restores 20% of your health and more importantly removes all diseases, poisons, curses and bleeds on you. Being able to remove any of these is a huge benefit of being a Kyrian.
While Pelagos, Kleia, and Forgelite Prime Mikanikos all provide their own strengths, when fully unlocked, Forgelite Prime Mikanikos will be your go-to Soulbind across all content types. The sheer strength of Shackle the Unworthy makes the cooldown reduction Effusive Anima Accelerator provides (along with its additional DoT!) a very strong option. Supporting traits such as Hammer of Genesis whenever adds are involved, or Soulglow Spectrometer when HPS is not strictly required, turn this owl steward into your new, favorite best friend.
When raiding, this path will be preferable:
When doing Mythic+, you will instead prefer this path:
As an alternative you can also use Kleia. All of her benefits are tied to group play. Valiant Strikes, Mentorship, and Pointed Courage all tie into this. This, however, is a niche pick you will typically only reserve for Necrotic Weeks.
Venthyr For Blood Death Knight
Swarming Mist functions very similarly to Bonestorm where you are surrounded by a mist that will deal damage and generate runic power. The Runic Power generated is as follows: 10 for the Rune spent to cast it, and each tick grants 3 Runic Power per enemy hit (up to 15 Runic Power per hit). 9 ticks total. This means that it will generate 37-145 Runic Power per cast. It also gives you the ability dodge when you use it!
Door of Shadows is a targeted teleport. If you have played Overwatch before you know what to expect. Pick a location that is within Line of Sight and after a 1.5-second cast you are teleported there. Typical uses of this are to cover large distances of space, traverse vertically, skip packs in M+, etc.; possibilities are endless!
Nadjia the Mistblade provides you with a mini bloodlust in the form of Thrill Seeker and increases the effectiveness of consumables with Exacting Preparation. Sinful Preservation is new in Patch 9.1 and this will provide you with an absorb shield when you use a Health Potion or Healthstone; this will be very powerful (as long as you remember to use them!). Nadija will be your default choice as a Venthyr.
New final trait — Fatal Flaw, granting you 20% Critical Strike or Versatility after The Euphoria effect from Thrill Seeker ends for 10 seconds. If you are going for parses, you will likely get the gigantic amount of Critical Strike. If you are doing high keys, you will almost always trigger the Versatility. Since both are percentage ratings, they are unaffected by diminishing returns making it a blatantly ludicrous amount of stats.
Theotar the Mad Duke is a bit of a mix of Nadjia and Draven but focuses purely on providing these benefits to others. Soothing Shade provides you with a random chance to spawn a Parasol which grants you Mastery and Wasteland Propriety provides you and the group with Versatility when Swarming Mist is used. It's Always Tea Time attaches a damage reduction to the Soothing Shade Parasol.
New final trait — Party Favors will provide you with an Augment Rune-style item once per day. When used you will gain a 4-hour buff (which persists through death) that provides either Strength or a random secondary stat. This item will have a 1-hour cooldown allowing you to change what benefit you get each time. If you change your Soulbind to Nadija or Draven the buff will disappear.
General Draven provides you with more personal, defensive utility than the others. Service In Stone stacks with Will of the Necropolis, Enduring Gloom provides you with a health shield when you use Door of Shadows, and Hold Your Ground provides you with more Stamina when standing still. Draven will be picked when you need more Effective Health for Raid Progression — during the last season of content the benefits of Draven were not necessary as a reference — however it comes at the cost of losing DPS.
New final trait — Battlefield Presence provides you with up to 3% damage reduction based on the amount of enemies nearby. This is quite minor when compared to other Soulbinds.
Night Fae Blood Death Knight
Night Fae is the generic pick for Blood Death Knights, it works well in both single-target and AoE environments.
Death's Due replaces Death and Decay and provides it with a new benefit! When you use Heart Strike on a target within your Death's Due, it will gain a stacking debuff, which reduces the damage it will deal to you by 2% per stack, and you will gain a stacking buff which will increase your Strength by 2% per stack. Both the buff and debuff stack to 8% and have a 12-second duration. Each additional stack applied refreshes the duration back to 12 seconds, this means that you will need to cast Heart Strike at the end of Death's Due to make sure the buff/debuff does not reset.
Soulshape is very similar to Ghost Wolf but accessible to all! Whilst you are in the travel form you are unable to cast spells, but if you press Soulshape again you will blink a short distance!
Night Fae Soulbinds
Niya will be your go-to Soulbind choice as a Night Fae. Grove Invigoration provides you with additional health/Mastery whenever you cast Death's Due, which is a nice bonus. For reasons that will be mentioned in the sections for Dreamweaver and Korayn, it is your only competitive option as Blood.
New final trait — Bonded Hearts, causing you to effectively heal up to 5 nearby friendly targets for 2% of their health every 15s. If you heal somebody from another Covenant — which is kind of difficult considering that 95% of the DPS are Night Fae these days — each stack of Grove Invigoration is amplified by 50%.
Dreamweaver has the unfortunate effect of having Podtender as an inevitable pick, which ultimately makes it a less-than-ideal choice. When Podtender triggers, you lose all threat, are unable to be resurrected until the effect is over, and, worst of all, you just have to sit there and watch whatever killed you kill others. The defensive aspects of Dreamweaver are relatively unimpactful as a Blood Death Knight as you will rarely overheal for Empowered Chrysalis and Waking Dreams has a long cooldown associated with the effect.
New final trait — Dream Delver is a very simple damage/healing benefit which increases your damage/healing to targets by 1% per event for 4 seconds, stacking up to 3%. The uptime on this effect is near 100%.
Korayn is similar to General Draven as it is a strictly defensive option, however similar to Draven it comes at the cost of DPS. Face Your Foes is a consistent damage reduction as you are always facing your foe! Alternatively you can use Hold the Line for a larger amount of damage reduction, however it is only Physical damage that is reduced (this is a majority of your damage taken in many scenarios).
You are also able to make Korayn into a Damage-oriented Soulbind by capitalizing on First Strike windows and playing around Wild Hunt Strategem, however it typically comes at a lower total DPS amount than Niya.
New final trait — Wild Hunt Strategem allows you to gain a small amount of execute damage whenever you trigger First Strike. However, to trigger Wild Hunt Stratagem you will require another target on low health, therefore in many realistic scenarios it will be very difficult or impossible to trigger.
Necrolord For Blood Death Knight
Necrolord is our last Covenant. Whilst it does not have the clear PvE benefits of the other Covenants, it can still be strong when used correctly.
Abomination Limb is the Necrolord Class Ability. When activated it will deal damage to all targets to nearby targets and attempt to grip a target that is 8-20 yards away from you. Each target can only be gripped once per 4 seconds. You will also generate 3 Bone Shield charges on cast, 6 seconds after casting, and when the effect ends. Abomination Limb is the highest damaging Covenant ability however it has a much longer cooldown than the rest.
Fleshcraft is a 3-second channel granting you a shield for 40% of your Maximum Health, with 20% damage reduction bolted on to it for good measure. You are still able to dodge and parry during it, and its cooldown is reduced by 1 second every time you walk past a corpse you helped kill.
It is worth noting that each tick of the channel snapshots your maximum HP. As such, it may be preferable to use it during Vampiric Blood, although it is not worth using Vampiric Blood for this purpose.
Plague Deviser Marileth provides you with some interesting effects. Volatile Solvent passively soaks up corpses and grants you buffs related to the enemy type it came from: 120 Mastery for Humanoids, 2% Primary Stat for Beasts, 5% Stamina for Demons, and a 5% heal for Undead. In Mythic+, this means you will almost always have 120 Mastery, and get relatively frequent 5% max HP heals at the end of packs.
Ooz's Frictionless Coating provides you with a 15% shield every 30 seconds (it triggers when below 50% health, but as part of normal play as a Blood Death Knight it is every 30 seconds at least). Ultimate Form will allow you to regenerate Health during and after Fleshcraft and be immune to Crowd Control.
Undulating Maneuvers is new in Patch 9.1. This works as a reduced version of a Brewmaster Monk's Stagger. It is an absorb and can proc off itself, which is kind of amusing and good news since it means it counts "double" into the Death Strike healing calculation.
New final trait — Kevin's Oozeling will spawn when you use Abomination Limb. It will spawn a pet guardian that melees whatever you autoattacked last. Whenever somebody nearby takes real damage (i.e. not absorbed), they gain a small shield. You gain 2% extra damage to anything the oozeling touched while it was up. When it despawns, all the effects go away.
Emeni will be your go-to pick. Lead by Example provides you and nearby allies with primary stat when you use Abomination Limb. Emeni's Magnificent Skin provides you with a max health buff for 30 seconds after using Fleshcraft. Gnashing Chompers provides you with stacking Haste when an enemy is defeated — great in Mythic+, not so great in most raiding scenarios. Resilient Stitching will provide you with a shield that absorbs 15% of your max health of magic damage every minute. It is simple and powerful.
New final trait — Pustule Eruption triggers when you cast Fleshcraft. You will generate 3 pustules per second you channeled Fleshcraft. When you take damage a pustule will detonate and deal some damage to nearby enemies and heal nearby allies as well.
Bonesmith Heirmir is a more DPS-oriented Soulbind choice with Serrated Spaulders reflecting damage taken and Heirmir's Arsenal: Marrowed Gemstone further enhancing your damage output. Waking Bone Breastplate provides you with a 5% health buff when you are surrounded by 3 or more enemies which can be quite frequently, even in raid scenarios.
If you are in a scenario where you can damage targets that are above 90% health on a regular basis such as Mythic+ or Raid Encounters which have adds that spawn, we would recommend changing the final choice to Carver's Eye as it is a very high amount of Mastery. The Endurance Conduit you would use here would be Blood Bond.
New final trait — Mnemonic Equipment is a fairly simple damage buff to targets below 35% health.
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