Blood Death Knight Tank Azerite Traits/Powers and Armor — Shadowlands Pre-Patch 9.0.1

Last updated on Oct 12, 2020 at 22:14 by Mandl and Panthea 2 comments
General Information

Choose the best Azerite gear for your Blood Death Knight and understand more about Azerite traits in World of Warcraft — Battle for Azeroth — Patch Pre-9.0.1. Azerite gear and the traits it grants are enabled by the Heart of Azeroth Icon Heart of Azeroth. Read our Heart of Azeroth guide to find out more.

For more information about how the new Essence system introduced in Patch 8.2 affects you, please refer to our Blood Death Knight essence page.


Best Azerite Traits for Blood Death Knight

Given the diversity in both effects and power that Azerite traits can provide, as a Blood Death Knight, you will almost always want to prioritize picking the best that is available to you. As you acquire more gear, it is recommended you build gear sets for various situations, including purely defensive ones. Below, we will discuss and highlight the benefits of each trait, and the best choices for our specialization.


The Spec-Specific Outer Ring (Ring 0) for Blood Death Knight

As a general rule, our spec-specific Azerite traits are underwhelming. However, some are worse than others, and this section will endeavour to highlight this.

Out of the possible traits, three of them (Bloody Runeblade Icon Bloody Runeblade, Bones of the Damned Icon Bones of the Damned, and Eternal Rune Weapon Icon Eternal Rune Weapon) provide an effect in two parts; the first being stackable, and the second being static:

  • Bones of the Damned Icon Bones of the Damned has a small always-on armor buff, and gives a chance (approximately 18%) to apply a fourth stack of Bone Shield Icon Bone Shield with each Marrowrend Icon Marrowrend. Note that the chance to receive additional stacks of Bone Shield does not scale with item level or additional ranks of this trait.
  • Eternal Rune Weapon Icon Eternal Rune Weapon provides a Strength buff during Dancing Rune Weapon Icon Dancing Rune Weapon, and extends its duration for every rune you spend. The duration extension does not increase with item level or multiple ranks of this trait.
  • Bloody Runeblade Icon Bloody Runeblade provides a short Haste buff as well as 5 Runic Power when Crimson Scourge Icon Crimson Scourge procs. The bonus Runic Power does not increase with item level or multiple ranks of this trait. Because the effect has a 10-second internal cooldown on activation, the best way to optimize it can feel awkward:
    • On a single target, and depending on your critical chance, it is typically worth casting Death and Decay Icon Death and Decay as soon as possible once Crimson Scourge Icon Crimson Scourge procs. Do note, however, that certain abilities will take precedence over this.
    • Waiting too long to use Death and Decay Icon Death and Decay can significantly reduce the value of the trait. Waiting approximately 3 seconds to cast Death and Decay Icon Death and Decay after receiving a Crimson Scourge Icon Crimson Scourge proc will result in less Runic Power overall than not using Death and Decay Icon Death and Decay at all.
    • With three or more targets, Bloody Runeblade Icon Bloody Runeblade does not change how to use Death and Decay Icon Death and Decay, although you will still maximize the value of the trait if you cast Death and Decay as soon as you receive a proc.

Our other three spec-specific traits stack at full value:

  • Marrowblood Icon Marrowblood provides a small (~300) additional amount of healing every time you use Death Strike Icon Death Strike. This amount depends on the number of Bone Shield Icon Bone Shield charges you had at the time of the cast. Due to the very small additional gain per charge, it is never worth going out of your way to either time Death Strike Icon Death Strike based on charges of Bone Shield Icon Bone Shield, nor wasting runes on wasteful Marrowblood Icon Marrowblood casts. Due to its current, very weak tuning, it is recommend to avoid this trait
  • Bone Spike Graveyard Icon Bone Spike Graveyard causes casts of Death and Decay Icon Death and Decay to deal additional Physical damage to all targets in the reticle, and to provide a small amount of additional healing per target hit.
  • Deep Cuts Icon Deep Cuts causes the main target of all Heart Strike Icon Heart Strike casts to take additional damage when Blood Plague Icon Blood Plague ticks. This heals you for 100% of the damage done.

Unlike other tanks, and due to the relative weakness of all our traits, it is currently not advisable to stack any of them, but to instead seek a diverse composition in traits. Both Bloody Runeblade Icon Bloody Runeblade and Eternal Rune Weapon Icon Eternal Rune Weapon are very appealing on their first trait.


Generic Outer Ring Traits for Blood Death Knights

Generic traits range from pure damage traits to strength procs, to anything else in between. Typically, you will never want to pick a Blood trait over a generic trait, and due to the relatively weak defensive value on this ring, your choice for a "defensive" piece will typically be made on the innermost ring of the piece. As such, in the overwhelming majority of cases, you will be making the choice on this ring based on its offensive aspect. For this, the chart below should provide some initial guidance:

For the complete simulation results, check out

Additionally, it is worth looking out for the following traits:

  • Undulating Tides Icon Undulating Tides functions similarly to Tidal Surge Icon Tidal Surge, with the caveat that if you drop below 50%, you gain a relatively large absorption shield and the DPS part of the trait is put on cooldown for 45s. This makes it very appealing, and due to the way the trait is tuned at the moment, it is very strong.
  • Blood Rite Icon Blood Rite's refresh effect is not modeled in simulations; it will have substantial benefit in situations such as Mythic+, where it can be refreshed regularly.
  • Secrets of the Deep Icon Secrets of the Deep provides a significant increase to Strength on proc. This trait may require you to reposition regularly to pick up orbs; depending on the encounter or your strategy, you may be forced to waste orbs to keep the boss stationary. Note that the two orb types (light and dark) provide different buffs and stack. With optimal play, you will have close to 100% uptime on the weaker version (light), and ~20% uptime on the stronger (dark) one.
  • Filthy Transfusion Icon Filthy Transfusion is a strong choice both offensively and defensively, as 100% of the damage is leeched back to you. As it happens to also be one of the strongest DPS traits, it is extremely desirable. However, it is only possible to get one of them at 415.
  • Synaptic Spark Capacitor Icon Synaptic Spark Capacitor is the best choice when using Engineering goggles; the proc has a surprisingly strong defensive component.
  • Bonded Souls Icon Bonded Souls will typically buff your co-tank, maximizing the benefit of this already strong trait.
  • Rezan's Fury Icon Rezan's Fury and Thunderous Blast Icon Thunderous Blast are the two strongest options for pure offensive capability.
  • A notable mention for Arcane Heart Icon Arcane Heart is needed, as it currently suffers from two bugs, making it disproportionately strong and weak at the same time. The healing part of the trait ignores Death Strike Icon Death Strike healing, but includes overhealing. It is already stronger than a Blood Death Knight Azerite trait, however, and should be picked if available, albeit not at the expense of a better Azerite piece.
  • Loyal to the End Icon Loyal to the End needs to be evaluated as a proportion of people using this trait near you. If that number is low, do not bother; if it is high, then it quickly scales to be on par with the rest.
  • Person-Computer Interface Icon Person-Computer Interface is slightly stronger when using the trinket (And fitting it with a cyclotronic blast red card!)
  • Heart of Darkness Icon Heart of Darkness is an appealing generic trait from Ny'alotha and, as of the Shadowlands pre-patch, no longer has any corruption requirement, offering a sizable chunk of every secondary with 100% uptime.

Some traits should also be avoided, if at all possible. They are listed below:

  • All of the PvP-only traits except Battlefield Focus Icon Battlefield Focus are under-tuned and/or underwhelming; even Fight or Flight Icon Fight or Flight, despite looking appealing at first. You should strive to avoid them; fortunately, due to the scarcity of PvP pieces available at maximum item level, you will rarely be presented with this choice.
  • Unstable Catalyst Icon Unstable Catalyst would be strong if it did not require you to stay in an 8-yard wide circle on the highest possible stratum. It is extremely difficult to see what is below (such as volcanoes and other ground AoE). Due to this, it is the only case where a Blood trait might be better.

Middle Ring Traits for Blood Death Knights

Unlike the Outer Rings, the Middle Ring has a variety of traits serving different purposes. Some are purely defensive, others are purely offensive, and some provide a mixture of both. They are outlined below.

  • Overwhelming Power Icon Overwhelming Power is arguably the strongest trait on this ring. The stack loss has an internal cooldown of 1 second on both types, which means that, at worst, you will keep stacks of the trait for 13 seconds. The amount of Haste this trait provides is, even on average, considerably higher than anything else.
  • Unstable Flames Icon Unstable Flames provides an amount of Crit, and therefore parry. You should see an average of 2-3 stacks of this trait.
  • Crystalline Carapace Icon Crystalline Carapace can be relied on to be active any time you are actively tanking in a boss encounter, and provides a small Armor gain and a thorns-like effect. The defensive component of this trait differs in magnitude depending on the content you are doing, but sadly, is generally lackluster.
  • Lifespeed Icon Lifespeed is a very small passive boost to Haste and Avoidance. This provides roughly an extra Death Strike Icon Death Strike every 4 minutes with perfect use of runes.
  • Winds of War Icon Winds of War is respectable in single-target encounters, and is particularly strong in Mythic+ and multi-target raid encounters. Unfortunately, there are very few pieces of Azerite Gear with this trait that also have good options for the Outer and Inner Rings.
  • Ablative Shielding Icon Ablative Shielding can be very useful while progressing on challenging content, or during an encounter where an ability will drop you below 40% health and where you will actively tank afterwards.
  • Gutripper Icon Gutripper is the strongest pure-DPS trait in single-target encounters. Its boost during execute phases makes it ideal for progression.
  • Heed My Call Icon Heed My Call is the strongest DPS option on this Ring on multi-target encounters. As with other DPS traits, this comes at the cost of a moderate amount of survivability.

Inner Ring Powers for Blood Death Knights

This ring should be the deciding factor when picking Azerite armor of the same item level, as it confers the biggest defensive gains out of the four rings. Every trait on this ring is defensive, and some are drastically better than others.

You should strive to prioritize Impassive Visage Icon Impassive Visage and Resounding Protection Icon Resounding Protection. Both of those are a sizeable amount of HPS, and will virtually always be valuable. In Mythic+, Vampiric Speed Icon Vampiric Speed also picks up a lot of value, as you do not need to land the killing blow to benefit from it. Bulwark of the Masses Icon Bulwark of the Masses also gains value in Mythic+, although it is usually difficult to trigger it on boss encounters.

Gemhide Icon Gemhide can be a very strong choice on any encounter where the Avoidance will apply to threatening attacks. By itself, the armor buff is noticeably less valuable.

Finally, both of the traits on the Engineering helmet (Personal Absorb-o-Tron Icon Personal Absorb-o-Tron and Auto-Self-Cauterizer Icon Auto-Self-Cauterizer) have situational uses. On fights where there are frequent bleeds, such as on the second half of King's Rest, the Cauterizer has the potential to save your life. The Asorb-o-Tron currently also is able to take in overkill damage; while the buff (which is actually a separate entity) holds, all damage taken is redirected in its entirety. This means that, in practice, this trait gains significantly more value than the tooltip leads you to believe.


Azerite Trait Rotation Changes for Blood Death Knight


Azerite Gear for Blood Death Knight

Due to the relatively restricted nature of Azerite, and the fact that, unlike other specializations, we do not care for specific class traits, the general advice is that you should simply seek out a piece matching the following conditions, in this order:

  1. The highest possible item level you can find.
  2. One of the following on the inner-most ring: Resounding Protection Icon Resounding Protection, Vampiric Speed Icon Vampiric Speed, or Impassive Visage Icon Impassive Visage.
  3. One of the following on the second inner ring: Overwhelming Power Icon Overwhelming Power, Lifespeed Icon Lifespeed, Unstable Flames Icon Unstable Flames, Gutripper Icon Gutripper, or Heed My Call Icon Heed My Call.

A small number of examples are highlighted below. All of them can be acquired from the Residuum vendor.






Find Azerite Armor By Trait/Power

In the table below, you can see all of the Azerite gear available to your Blood Death Knight. By using the + button located next to each item, you can expand the list of Azerite powers that this item possesses (to collapse the list, simply click the - button).

If you want to filter items according to the powers that they offer, you can use the filters below.

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Head Items Shoulders Items Chest Items