Blood Death Knight Dragonflight Leveling Guide From 8 to 70 (Dragonflight 10.2)
When leveling up, you should always choose the piece of loot with the highest item level. The only exception to this rule is if you have a Ring or Necklace with a slightly lower item level, but 2 secondary stats on it instead of 1.
Your goal is, evidently, to go as quickly as possible throughout the zones and levels, and the best way to do this is to get the best possible gear without getting out of your way while doing so.
Level by Level Rotation and Talents
Move the slider below to make the guide update to your level!
Until level 10, if you are an old-school race, your Heart Strike will be replaced by its generic alternative, Rune Strike.
Depending on which race you picked, you will start a different level, and have a slightly different intro:
- If you picked an Allied Race, you start at level 10, and start with the new Bolvar experience.
- On the other hand, if you started with one of the old races, you start at level 8, and get to re-live the Scarlet Enclave original starting zone!
Regardless of this choice, your first talent row unlocks at Level 15.
Talents to Level Up as a Blood Death Knight
Your talent build is the following:
Most of these talent points will be gradually available as you level; we will only note down the active abilities in the guide below, along with the most important talents to pick up. Throughout the levelling process, you will also pick up a variety of passive damage increases to other abilities.
Rotation to Level Up as a Blood Death Knight
- You start with access to Rune Strike, acting as your main Rune spender, and Death Coil acting as your main Runic Power spender. Death and Decay is also available for large groups of enemies, although Rune Strike does not cleave while inside it. Simply burn Runes with Rune Strike and Runic Power with Death Coil.
- Pick Blood! This provides three different bonuses:
- You also gain access to Death Strike, a very powerful Runic Power spender that also heals you for 25% of all the damage you took over the past 5 seconds. A portion of this healing is also duplicated as an absorption effect through your mastery Mastery: Blood Shield.
- Finally, you also gain a hidden effect called your "spec aura", which buffs a number of things — the most important one to know about is a 140% damage increase to Death Strike. From this point on, you will no longer use Death Coil.
- Pick Raise Dead on the class talent tree. This grants you access to your ghoul — it functions as a damage cooldown, and you can simply press it when it is available.
- Pick Heart Strike on your specialization tree; this turns Rune Strike into Heart Strike, a more efficient Rune spender.
- Use Heart Strike as your filler, and Death Strike as your RP spender. Along with the spec-specific increase to its damage, you also get the benefit of Mastery: Blood Shield!
- Pick Cleaving Strikes on the class talent tree. This allows Heart Strike to cleave to 5 targets when you are standing inside your own Death and Decay. This greatly increases your damage when fighting a large number of enemies
- Pick Blood Boil on your specialization tree; this is your main AoE damage ability. It also applies Blood Plague on all targets hit by it.
- Pick Anti-Magic Shell on the class talent tree. This is your first defensive cooldown, and grants you a short-duration magic absorption shield, totalling 30% of your maximum health.
- Pick Marrowrend on your specialization tree; is your Active Mitigation ability. It is not very active, but that is down to terminology. Pressing it grants you 3 Bone Shield stacks; you lose a charge per melee hit taken, at a maximum of once per 2.5 seconds. You should ideally never cap those, and aim to be around 5-7 stacks instead.
- Pick Improved Death Strike on the class talent tree. This increases the healing done by Death Strike by 10%, and reduces its cost by 5 Runic Power - an 11% increase in throughput!
- Pick Vampiric Blood - this functions as your second major defensive cooldown, and increases your maximum health and all healing received by 30%.
- Put two points in Veteran of the Third War. This increases your total stamina by 20%. We are tanks, and stamina is one of our main concerns.
- Pick Ossuary on the specialization tree. This further reduces Death Strike's cost by 5 Runic Power - a 12.5% throughput increase! It also allows you to progress further down the tree
- Pick Icebound Fortitude on the class talent tree. This is your third major defensive cooldown - a 30% damage reduction effect, and total immunity to stun effects while Icebound Fortitude is active.
- Pick Dancing Rune Weapon. This is your first offensive cooldown, but it also has major defensive benefits. While it is up, you gain 40% parry; it also doubles the number of Bone Shield charges generated by Marrowrend, and grants you 5 bonus Runic Power every time you cast Heart Strike. This should be cast as close to on cooldown as possible, as it is a major DPS and survival increase.
- Pick Insatiable Blade on the specialization tree. This causes any Bone Shield charge consumed by auto-attacks or Tombstone (we will talk about this one later!) to reduce the remaining cooldown on Dancing Rune Weapon by 5 seconds.
- Put two points into Heartbreaker on the specialization tree. This passively grants you 2 bonus Runic Power per target hit by Heart Strike.
- Pick Gloom Ward on the class talent tree. This passively amplifies all absorption effects cast on you by 15%.
- Pick Improved Bone Shield on the specialization tree. This grants you 10% haste while Bone Shield is active.
- Pick Unholy Endurance on the class talent tree. This turns Lichborne into a major defensive cooldown by granting you 15% damage reduction while it is active.
- Pick Unholy Ground. This is the first of three important modifications to Death and Decay. While you are in your own Death and Decay, you gain 5% haste.
- Pick Coagulopathy on the specialization tree. This increases all your damage by 5% to targets afflicted with Blood Plague. In addition to this, casting Death Strike increases the damage of all Blood Plagues by 25%, stacking up to 5.
- Pick Death's Echo on the class talent tree. This passively grants you a second charge of Death and Decay, Death's Advance and Death Grip.
- Pick Sanguine Ground on the specialization tree. This is the second of three important effects modifying Death and Decay. This time, you gain 5% damage and healing while you stand in your Death and Decay.
- At this point, you have all the tools required to have upwards of 90% uptime on Death and Decay, and should opt to just cast it on cooldown as long as it is not already active.
- Pick Tombstone on the specialization tree. This allows you to consume 5 Bone Shield charges to reduce the cooldown on Dancing Rune Weapon by 25 seconds (because we picked Insatiable Blade).
- Put two points in Blood Draw. This is not a talent you will keep at maximum level, but while levelling, it allows you to burst every nearby target for a large amount of damage when you drop below 30%, and all the damage it deals heals you. It is a fantastic and completely passive emergency tool while levelling.
- Put two points into Shattering Bone. This massively increases your damage output, assuming that you followed our advice and have a decent uptime on Death and Decay. Each Bone Shield charge consumed now deals 12% of your attack power in shadow damage to every enemy near you - and this is tripled while you are in your own Death and Decay! Bone Shield charges consumed by Tombstone also count - this effectively turns Tombstone into a burst damage cooldown.
- Pick Abomination Limb - a burst DPS cooldown on a 2 minute cooldown that also grants you a total of 9 Bone Shield charges over its duration.
- The rest of the talent points are up to you. Refer to our loadout at the start of the page to decide where to put points next; all the choices from here on a minor. Enjoy the next 8 levels in the Dragonflight zones!
Blood Death Knight War Mode Talents for Leveling
While levelling with War Mode enabled, you gain access to three additional PvP talents. Their effects also work on enemies in the open-world, and while most of them are lacklustre, a couple of them can significantly speed up your levelling process. We have highlighted them below:
- Death Chain allows you to frequently (50% uptime) chain an enemy with two nearby hostile targets. While chained, damage done to one enemy is partially copied over to the other two. This effectively rewards you for pulling more than one target (which you should do, anyway. You are a tank) by allowing you to increase your effective damage by 30%.
- Necrotic Aura passively causes all targets near you to take 4% more magic damage. This includes Blood Boil, Blood Plague, Death and Decay, Shattering Bone and any other magic damage you (or others) deal.
- Decomposing Aura causes enemies to have their maximum health reduced by 3% every 2 seconds, up to a maximum of 15%.
- Murderous Intent is a 3-15% damage increase on a target, refreshed by your auto-attacks. This is the least bad option we have access to after picking the other two.
For simplicity's sake, we recommend defaulting to Necrotic Aura, Death Chain and Decomposing Aura, and to use Death Chain whenever pulling more than one target.
- 09 Nov. 2023: Removed outdated reference to Blood for Blood.
- 06 Nov. 2023: Reviewed for Patch 10.2
- 04 Sep. 2023: Reviewed for Patch 10.1.7
- 10 Jul. 2023: Reviewed for Patch 10.1.5.
- 01 May 2023: Reviewed for Patch 10.1.
- 20 Mar. 2023: Updated for Patch 10.0.7.
- 24 Jan. 2023: Reviewed for Patch 10.0.5.
- 11 Dec. 2022: Adding max level brackets to all options.
- 11 Dec. 2022: Fixes for Talent Tree displaying wrong order to pick talents.
- 28 Nov. 2022: Updated for Dragonflight launch.
- 25 Oct. 2022: Updated for Dragonflight pre-patch.
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