Blood Death Knight Best Covenants, Soulbinds, and Conduits — Shadowlands 9.0.5
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.
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.
There were changes to Necrolord just before the game went live. It has taken some time to simulate the impact of these changes and the guide has now been updated in accordance with those changes. With this change, all covenants are acceptable choices. You will have some minor gains between the choices so either pick what you prefer, or what has a higher level of throughput for your preferred content type.
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, along with a large amount of Mastery for its duration. The second health potion and full dispel from Phial of Serenity is also amazing as a tank. Top notch choice.||S|
|M+||Excels at priority damage, but Shackle the Unworthy is unwieldy
in AoE and difficult to spread to more than 5 targets due to the innate
target capping of Heart Strike. You will likely need to adjust
some of your pulls to work around it.
Phial of Serenity is an extremely potent utility choice in some dungeons, particularly Plaguefall.
|Night Fae||Raiding||Very unwieldy and taxing rotationally, this covenant does not provide any additional mileage considering the complexity you incur when picking it.||C|
|M+||Even more unwieldy than in raid due to the inability to gain stacks on more than 5 targets due to the innate target hard-capping of Heart Strike, and the fact that you will be using Death's Due with Grip of the Dead to kite, thus wasting or dropping stacks.||F|
|Necrolord||Raiding||Provides burst damage on a longer cooldown than Kyrian, the equivalent of 6 runes in 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 (particularly on Sun King's Salvation). Great, but should be handled with care.||B|
|M+|| Abomination Limb is hard-capped to 5 targets, and as such, quickly tapers off.
It being a 2-minute cooldown unlike the other options is also a small drawback; however,
the Bone Shield charges it provides is a top-notch resource gain if used properly.
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 fox can get gripped.
|Venthyr||Raiding||The ability for this Covenant to scale well beyond 5 targets for damage, and 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.||B|
|M+||This is the only Covenant option that is not hardcapped, and the runic power it provides every minute is amazing to set up pulls. The dodge chance is the cherry on top, along with some good Soulbind choices, making up a very well-rounded Covenant for high keys.||S|
By default, We advise this all-purpose Pelagos (Kyrian) tree for Raiding, Mythic+, and Torghast as a Blood Death Knight, due to its versatility in all content types. For more in-depth information about Soulbinds and Covenants as Blood Death Knight, please continue to the Choosing the Right Covenant section below.
Best Conduits for Blood Death Knight
Conduits are very similar to 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
Best Endurance Conduits for Blood Death Knight
Best Finesse Conduits for Blood Death Knight
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 Rank 7 (Mythic Nathria) this is a 24% increase!
- Debilitating Malady increases the damage done by Blood Plague by a quite small margin. At Rank 7 (Mythic Nathria) 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 2x 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 require it for a specific encounter.
- Hardened Bones at high ranks this transforms Lichborne into a minor defensive cooldown by reducing the damage you take scaling with conduit rank. At Rank 7 (Mythic Nathria), this will reduce your damage taken whilst Lichborne is active by 9.6%.
- 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.
- 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.
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 7 (Mythic Nathria) this will generate 16 Runic Power (1 runic 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 7 (Mythic Nathria), it reduces the cooldown by 30 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 better and worse options but the choice will not be hindering your daily activities.
While all of the Covenants have their place some simply perform better on a day to day basis than others. Kyrian and Venthyr are the two that stand out the most for Blood Death Knight due to their powerful class abilities and Soulbinds.
- Kyrian — Good for all content styles and highest single target DPS
- Venthyr — Strong AoE damage and on demand full runic bar in M+
- Night Fae — Strong single target damage reduction and generic covenant
- Necrolord — Strong damage in AoE + Generates Bone Shield charges.
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 5% 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, Pelagos is your go to Soulbind. Combat Meditation is a powerful throughput increase, and Let Go of the Past is a consistent piece of Magical Damage Reduction.
Mikanikos unfortunately is a very weak Soulbind. Would avoid using until a rework happens.
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. Nadjia will be picked when you need more DPS.
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 stood still. Draven will be picked when you need more Effective Health for Raid Progression.
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 with Mastery and Wasteland Propriety provides you and the group with Versatility when Swarming Mist is used. Theotar will be picked when the group benefits outweigh your own benefits.
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 1% per stack, and you will gain a stacking buff which will increase your Strength by 1% 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.
Night Fae Soulbinds
Dreamweaver was previously a good pick in previous iterations, however you are unable to avoid Podtender now, which ultimately makes it a less than ideal pick. 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.
Because of the issues above with Dreamweaver, we would recommend Niya. Grove Invigoration provides you with additional health/mastery whenever you cast Death's Due, which is a nice bonus. The last row is intentionally left blank as this choice is yours to make. Niya's Tools: Poison if you can reliably land interrupts is a very potent DPS increase, this combined with Spirit Drain gives you even more reason to interrupt! Alternatively Niya's Tools: Burrs can be used for a very competitive amount of DPS when the target can be slowed.
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 now a pretty appealing ability to press thanks to the Patch 9.0.5 rework. It is now 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 is the end Ability where you will regenerate Health during and after Fleshcraft and be immune to Crowd Control.
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. The final Ability Gnashing Chompers provides you with stacking haste when an enemy is defeated, great in Mythic+, not so great in most raiding scenarios.
For Mythic+ you would opt to have the end Ability of Heirmir's Arsenal: Ravenous Pendant:
For everything else you would go down the route of having Heirmir's Arsenal: Gorestompers as your end Ability.
- 09 Mar. 2021: Updated for 9.0.5, with a reference to the upgraded Fleshcraft and changes to Marileth's description.
- 19 Dec. 2020: Added a table clarifying the value of each covenant.
- 29 Nov. 2020: Updated information for Necrolord as it changed just before the expansion launched.
- 21 Nov. 2020: Fixed broken Soulbind link.
- 20 Nov. 2020: Updated with latest changes.
- 17 Nov. 2020: Page created
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