Blood Death Knight Tank Guide — Shadowlands 9.2.5

Last updated on Jul 30, 2022 at 04:05 by Mandl and Panthea 26 comments
General Information

Welcome to our Blood Death Knight guide for World of Warcraft — Shadowlands 9.2.5. Here, you will learn how to tank as a Blood Death Knight in both raids and Mythic+ dungeons. We cover everything from the basics all the way to min-maxing techniques to optimize your survivability.

1.

Blood Death Knight Overview

Blood Death Knight is one of the six available tanking specializations within World of Warcraft, and is centered around reactively healing damage taken using Death Strike Icon Death Strike, and using a large array of cooldowns to support yourself and your team.

2.

Strengths and Weaknesses

V Strengths
  • +Wide array of cooldowns for all situations: Anti-Magic Shell Icon Anti-Magic Shell, Icebound Fortitude Icon Icebound Fortitude and Vampiric Blood Icon Vampiric Blood, to name a few.
  • +Utility: ranged interrupt, 90% snare, combat ress, short-duration immunity to magic debuffs.
  • +Predictable, simple rotation, with options to truly get the maximum out of the spec in the hands of a skilled player.
  • +Reactive self-healing, based on damage taken.
X Weaknesses
  • -Very EHP-dependent (meant to take more up-front damage than other tanks and heal it back).
  • -Very low armor.
  • -Relatively low stamina modifier.
  • -Bone Shield Icon Bone Shield is Active Mitigation that requires you to take a hit before you can use it.

Note that this guide focuses on aspects that are specific to Blood Death Knights and general tanking strategies are beyond its scope. If you wish to know more about the tanking role and what you can do to improve, we recommend that you read our tanking guide.

3.

Patch 9.2.5 Changes for Death Knights

We are maintaining a list of changes for Death Knights, so you can see what changes with every patch of Shadowlands. Be sure to also check out Blood's specific changes from the previous patch, 9.2, to hear our thoughts on the tier set bonuses that arrived at that time.

3.1.

Mage Tower Challenge

From Patch 9.1.5 onward, both Legion Timewalking and the Mage Tower have returned. As such we have created a separate guide detailing what you can expect from the Mage Tower challenge available to Blood Death Knights.

There are not too many changes that change how Blood Death Knight plays in Shadowlands. The impact of losing Azerite and Essences to us was minimal, and outside of one key change (Ossuary Icon Ossuary was made baseline), the specialization plays relatively as it used to. A couple of talents saw minor changes making them situationally good, but we'll cover this in the talents page.

4.

Basics of Blood Death Knight Gameplay

The Blood specialization has an engaging playstyle, using self-healing through Death Strike Icon Death Strike as a primary source of damage mitigation. Blood has a versatile defensive and offensive toolkit, which comprises of numerous smaller defensive cooldowns than other tanks, aimed at countering certain scenarios.

Put together, this specialization is effective in the full range of current content, but falls short on Effective Health checks. Essentially, if you can survive a hit, you will come out stronger after it.

If you are new to Blood Death Knight and would like to learn the basics of the class, we recommend looking at the Spell Summary, as well as the Easy Mode page we have linked below.

We also have a guide for the Blood Death Knight talents and rotations below.

5.

How to Gear Up as a Blood Death Knight

Gear, enchants, consumables, and gems also play a big part in increasing your character's DPS. Linked below is a page to show you which enchants, consumables, and gems to use, as well as a stats page, where you can find more information on each stat and how they interact with your character.

6.

Leveling a Blood Death Knight

If you do not have a Blood Death Knight at maximum level (or at all!), you can follow our dedicated leveling guide that will walk you through the best talents to choose on your journey, and also provide you with a number of tips and tricks. Before you start on your journey, though, we recommend setting up your UI so that you can familiarize yourself with it before you reach maximum level.

Once at maximum level, were commend checking out our Easy Mode guide, linked below. This guide will briefly go over what you need to do to play your character optimally, though of course the main Rotation and Talents pages are slightly more optimized.

7.

Blood Death Knight Viability in the Shadowlands

With the right playstyle and the knowledge of encounters, Blood Death Knights can be a force to be reckoned with, particularly in fights with infrequent, high, but not lethal Physical damage. Their toolkit is also varied, and seasoned players will find answers to almost every situation they might get into in Mythic+.

We are currently the tank with the lowest amount of Armor, both baseline and with Active Mitigation up. We take a significantly larger amount of damage than other tanks, and this can be a very important fact to be taken into consideration when choosing a tank. After all, you cannot heal back up if you are dead. This had numerous implications for Sanctum of Domination, not least of which being Painsmith Raznal (as all the weapons deal primarily Physical damage, although what kills you tends to be the trap explosions), although fortunately, some of the encounter design trends have been reversed and tanks no longer have to cross the entire fight area to drop tankbusters in Sepulcher of the First Ones!

Sepulcher of the First Ones also packs a number of encounters where displacing adds is very important, sometimes even mandatory. For instance, on the Anduin Wrynn encounter, the downstairs phase requires adds to be efficiently cleaved down as they attempt to reach the center of the arena, and this efficiency directly impacts the difficulty of the last phase of the encounter. As you may expect, bringing two Death Knights (as each tank can only do this phase once), preferably Necrolord Death Knights, will massively help.

Beyond these encounter-specific requirements, unfortunately, our damage is strictly middle-of-the-road, requiring a specific set of trinkets to execute. Just as in Battle for Azeroth, our borrowed power options are slim: Primarily conduits do not offer much in the way of added power for the spec. This is primarily coming from Legendaries and Soulbinds (rather than our base toolkit). This is both a gift and a curse: we are both largely unaffected by temporary systems, but it also means that the massive potential gain that other tanks are seeing are just not realized with this specialization.

8.

How to Gear Up as a Blood Death Knight

This happens to be a relatively simple topic, since we benefit relatively equally from all secondaries. As a result, we're much more drawn to item level than to specific pieces, with the exception of trinkets and specific pieces of gear that may be significantly stronger than the alternatives.

We maintain a page with gearing advice for the current patch, including Best in Slot alternatives from different content sources. You can find a link to this below:

Once you have started to gear, you will need to make sure that you have the appropriate consumables, gems, enchants, and more. We have a dedicated page for exactly this, as shown below, as well as the stats page, where you can find more information on the possibility of a changing stat priority and the necessary changes you may need to make for consumables.

9.

End-Game as a Blood Death Knight

Starting off as any tank is an exercise in frustration, due to the high learning curve associated with having to learn both your spec and the encounters. However, fortunately, we also maintain a set of pages containing tips, tricks and strategies for all end-game content:

10.

Improving as a Blood Death Knight

Blood Death Knight has an indirect feedback loop, in that instead of getting crushed right off the bat, you will slowly fall behind on resources. The main drivers to this are bad Marrowrend Icon Marrowrends (wasting Runes on inefficient Marrowrend casts — remember, these generate 5-15RP less per Rune spent than a Heart Strike Icon Heart Strike), capping Runes/RP or not using your entire toolkit, particularly holding cooldowns for extended periods of time without a reason to do so. Remember, anything in your toolkit that is free should be used as close as possible to on-cooldown, particularly if they are dual-purpose cooldowns like Dancing Rune Weapon Icon Dancing Rune Weapon!

We collected a list of common mistakes, along with explanations for each of them, resources to train and counter them, and tips on how to truly understand what makes the spec tick. You can find these below:

11.

Changelog

  • 30 Jul. 2022 (gear page): Updated with all season 4 information.
  • 28 Jul. 2022 (Sepulcher of the First Ones page): Reviewed for Season 4. Added Meteor Cleave Tip for Mythic P4 Jailer.
  • 28 Jul. 2022 (Castle Nathria page): Added covenants. Updated legendaries.
  • 28 Jul. 2022 (Sanctum of Domination page): Added covenants. Updated legendaries.
  • 23 Jul. 2022 (mythic+ page): Updated with all season 4 information.
  • 04 Jul. 2022 (Sepulcher of the First Ones page): A long-awaited update - changed all talents, legendaries, and added a tip about Kyrian specifically for Rygelon.
  • 31 May 2022 (addons page): Page reviewed for Patch 9.2.5.
  • 31 May 2022 (gear page): Page reviewed for Patch 9.2.5.
  • 31 May 2022 (spells page): Page reviewed for Patch 9.2.5.
  • 31 May 2022 (talents page): Page reviewed for Patch 9.2.5.
  • 31 May 2022 (Legendaries): Page reviewed for Patch 9.2.5.
  • 31 May 2022 (rotation page): Page reviewed for Patch 9.2.5.
  • 31 May 2022 (simulations page): Page reviewed for Patch 9.2.5.
  • 31 May 2022 (mythic+ page): Page reviewed for Patch 9.2.5.
  • 31 May 2022 (Covenants and Soulbinds): Page reviewed for Patch 9.2.5.
  • 31 May 2022 (easy mode page): Page reviewed for Patch 9.2.5.
  • 31 May 2022 (FAQ page): Page reviewed for Patch 9.2.5.
  • 31 May 2022 (stats page): Page reviewed for Patch 9.2.5.
  • 31 May 2022 (this page): Page reviewed for Patch 9.2.5.
  • 31 May 2022 (how to improve page): Page reviewed for Patch 9.2.5.
  • 31 May 2022 (enchants page): Page reviewed for Patch 9.2.5.
  • 31 May 2022 (Torghast): Page reviewed for Patch 9.2.5.
  • 11 May 2022 (mythic+ page): Updated Level 15 Talents to take Tier Bonuses into consideration.
  • 10 Apr. 2022 (Covenants and Soulbinds): Updated for hotfixes and to account for both double Legendaries and the builds we tested.
  • 10 Apr. 2022 (Patch 9.2 Analysis): Updated to account for hotfixes, added info on Legendaries, new Legendaries, Halondrus, and Tombstone.
  • 10 Apr. 2022 (talents page): Added info about Tombstone's impact on DRW, added hints related to 2pc, and clarified a couple of explanations.
  • 10 Apr. 2022 (gear page): Refined gear recommendations to account for tier hotfixes and number crunching.
  • 10 Apr. 2022 (rotation page): Added all information about Tombstone, its usage, the 2pc implications of the March hotfixes, and the considerations about when to use what. The Necrolord opener is reworked as a result.
  • 10 Apr. 2022 (stats page): Adding information about the tier set's impact on stats.
  • 10 Apr. 2022 (Legendaries): Reworked entirely to account for the hotfixes to tier set.
  • 15 Mar. 2022 (Sepulcher of the First Ones page): Added tips for last 3 bosses. Updated Halondrus as we've now seen the new version of the encounter.
  • 01 Mar. 2022 (Sepulcher of the First Ones page): Updated Vigilant Guardian P2 Info.
  • 28 Feb. 2022 (Sepulcher of the First Ones page): Page added.
  • 20 Feb. 2022 (addons page): Reviewed and approved for Patch 9.2.
  • 20 Feb. 2022 (talents page): Reviewed and approved for Patch 9.2.
  • 20 Feb. 2022 (simulations page): Reviewed and approved for Patch 9.2.
  • 20 Feb. 2022 (rotation page): Added information regarding Unity; streamlined rotation; described the impact of the 4p (2p unimpactful in terms of rotation beyond "more DRW").
  • 20 Feb. 2022 (enchants page): Added Cosmic Healing pots, clarified flask, clarified pots, reworked Shard blurb.
  • 20 Feb. 2022 (mythic+ page): Added Affix info. Tazavesh info will come in a bit!
  • 20 Feb. 2022 (easy mode page): Added Unity mentions, reworked some elements for Patch 9.2.
  • 20 Feb. 2022 (gear page): Reworked Shards, added Sepulcher BiS, reworked trinkets, clarified the Fatescribe trinket change, and explained all the things.
  • 20 Feb. 2022 (this page): Reviewed and approved for Patch 9.2.
  • 20 Feb. 2022 (Covenants and Soulbinds): Clarified Kyrian, modified and adjusted everything for Patch 9.2.
  • 20 Feb. 2022 (how to improve page): Reviewed and approved for Patch 9.2.
  • 20 Feb. 2022 (FAQ page): Reviewed and approved for Patch 9.2.
  • 20 Feb. 2022 (stats page): Reviewed and approved for Patch 9.2.
  • 20 Feb. 2022 (Legendaries): Clarified Covenant Legendaries, reworked to account for Unity, and specified what slot Unity will be crafted in.
  • 20 Feb. 2022 (Torghast): Reviewed and approved for Patch 9.2.
  • 20 Feb. 2022 (spells page): Reviewed and approved for Patch 9.2.
  • 12 Feb. 2022 (Patch 9.2 Analysis): Adjusted for current PTR data, clarified some points
  • 15 Jan. 2022 (Patch 9.2 Analysis): Page added with initial thoughts and information.
  • 01 Nov. 2021 (Patch 9.1 Analysis): Added info about AoE uncapping, and clarified the intro for 9.1.5 info.
  • 01 Nov. 2021 (Legendaries): Reviewed and approved for Patch 9.1.5.
  • 01 Nov. 2021 (Torghast): Reviewed and approved for Patch 9.1.5.
  • 01 Nov. 2021 (Covenants and Soulbinds): Added Covenant information enabled by the free swapping in Patch 9.1.5.
  • 01 Nov. 2021 (FAQ page): Reviewed and approved for Patch 9.1.5.
  • 01 Nov. 2021 (simulations page): Reviewed and approved for Patch 9.1.5.
  • 01 Nov. 2021 (gear page): Added Legion timewalking disclaimer - nothing is great.
  • 01 Nov. 2021 (addons page): Reviewed and approved for Patch 9.1.5.
  • 01 Nov. 2021 (enchants page): Reviewed and approved for Patch 9.1.5.
  • 01 Nov. 2021 (stats page): Reviewed and approved for Patch 9.1.5.
  • 01 Nov. 2021 (Sanctum of Domination page): Reviewed and approved for Patch 9.1.5.
  • 01 Nov. 2021 (mythic+ page): Added Covenant swap info, refined tips, and provided Infernal affix info.
  • 01 Nov. 2021 (rotation page): Reviewed and approved for Patch 9.1.5.
  • 01 Nov. 2021 (talents page): Reviewed and approved for Patch 9.1.5.
  • 01 Nov. 2021 (spells page): Reviewed and approved for Patch 9.1.5.
  • 01 Nov. 2021 (easy mode page): Reviewed and approved for Patch 9.1.5.
  • 01 Nov. 2021 (this page): Updated for Patch 9.1.5.
  • 01 Nov. 2021 (how to improve page): Reviewed and approved for Patch 9.1.5.
  • 20 Oct. 2021 (gear page): Updated Shard of Domination recommendations and included additional trinkets.
  • 18 Jul. 2021 (Sanctum of Domination page): Updated boss information for Guardian, Kel'Thuzad, and Sylvanas; removed PTR references; updated incorrect talents on Painsmith.
  • 18 Jul. 2021 (Covenants and Soulbinds): Updated Draven Soulbind tree to include new Conduit.
  • 18 Jul. 2021 (Patch 9.1 Analysis): Removed PTR references; updated information for Theotar and Dreamweaver.
  • 12 Jul. 2021 (mythic+ page): Updated for Shadowlands Mythic+ Season 2.
  • 03 Jul. 2021 (Sanctum of Domination page): Guide created.
  • 29 Jun. 2021 (addons page): Reviewed and approved for Patch 9.1.
  • 29 Jun. 2021 (enchants page): Updated for Patch 9.1.
  • 29 Jun. 2021 (simulations page): Reviewed and approved for Patch 9.1.
  • 29 Jun. 2021 (stats page): Reviewed and approved for Patch 9.1.
  • 29 Jun. 2021 (gear page): Updated for Patch 9.1.
  • 29 Jun. 2021 (how to improve page): Reviewed and approved for Patch 9.1.
  • 29 Jun. 2021 (this page): Updated for Patch 9.1.
  • 29 Jun. 2021 (spells page): Reviewed and approved for Patch 9.1.
  • 29 Jun. 2021 (Legendaries): Updated for Patch 9.1.
  • 29 Jun. 2021 (talents page): Reviewed and approved for Patch 9.1.
  • 29 Jun. 2021 (Torghast): Reviewed and approved for Patch 9.1.
  • 29 Jun. 2021 (rotation page): Reviewed and approved for Patch 9.1.
  • 29 Jun. 2021 (mythic+ page): Reviewed and approved for Patch 9.1.
  • 29 Jun. 2021 (Covenants and Soulbinds): Updated for Patch 9.1.
  • 29 Jun. 2021 (FAQ page): Reviewed and approved for Patch 9.1.
  • 29 Jun. 2021 (easy mode page): Updated for Patch 9.1.
  • 17 May 2021 (enchants page): A BfA gem was being recommended here. Fixed!
  • 29 Apr. 2021 (Patch 9.1 Analysis): Added initial content.
  • 09 Mar. 2021 (talents page): Added notes on how to decide what Tier 6 talent to pick.
  • 09 Mar. 2021 (spells page): Reviewed for Patch 9.0.5.
  • 09 Mar. 2021 (Torghast): Small changes and re-ordering of powers to account for hotfixes and 9.0.5 buffs.
  • 09 Mar. 2021 (rotation page): Reviewed for Patch 9.0.5.
  • 09 Mar. 2021 (gear page): Added Valor recommendations. Updated trinket recommendations. Added PvP gearing section.
  • 09 Mar. 2021 (stats page): Reviewed for Patch 9.0.5.
  • 09 Mar. 2021 (Covenants and Soulbinds): Updated for 9.0.5, with a reference to the upgraded Fleshcraft and changes to Marileth's description.
  • 09 Mar. 2021 (easy mode page): Updated Kyrian information to reflect 9.0.5 buffs (5% to 8% Damage Reduction).
  • 09 Mar. 2021 (Legendaries): Updated Legendaries; removed all mentions of Bryndaor as Crimson Rune Weapon is now better than it in every way.
  • 09 Mar. 2021 (mythic+ page): Added a small mention for Fleshcraft.
  • 09 Mar. 2021 (enchants page): Reviewed for Patch 9.0.5.
  • 06 Mar. 2021 (Castle Nathria page): Updated Legendary options for multiple bosses with new 9.0.5 changes to Crimson Rune Weapon. Added talent tip for Inerva (Mark of Blood). Added tips on breaking stuns on Stone Legion Generals. Added Mythic Sire Tips.
  • 24 Jan. 2021 (rotation page): Removed a Standard Rotation step.
  • 14 Jan. 2021 (enchants page): Adding soul treads and shaded hearthing to enchants.
  • 14 Jan. 2021 (easy mode page): Removing a stray reference to Blooddrinker as the talent is not recommended.
  • 14 Jan. 2021 (FAQ page): Fleshing out covenant section.
  • 14 Jan. 2021 (simulations page): Updated for Shadowlands.
  • 14 Jan. 2021 (rotation page): Added covenant rotational tips.
  • 22 Dec. 2020 (gear page): Added Castle Nathria loot. Fixed incorrect dungeon link.
  • 19 Dec. 2020 (Covenants and Soulbinds): Added a table clarifying the value of each covenant.
  • 19 Dec. 2020 (Castle Nathria page): Updated Huntsman to explain adds spawn on 90% if you're full health. Added note on Sire Dentharius to explain how to debuff adds.
  • 06 Dec. 2020 (Castle Nathria page): Added guide.
  • 06 Dec. 2020 (mythic+ page): Preparing an initial version containing all class changes for Season 1. Dungeon-specific tips will be expanded in the first week.
  • 01 Dec. 2020 (Castle Nathria page): Added placeholder Castle Nathria page.
  • 29 Nov. 2020 (talents page): Updated information surrounding the Consumption talent.
  • 29 Nov. 2020 (Covenants and Soulbinds): Updated information for Necrolord as it changed just before the expansion launched.
  • 29 Nov. 2020 (Legendaries): Changed Raiding Legendary recommendation to Superstrain.
  • 24 Nov. 2020 (this page): Removed references to BfA systems.
  • 24 Nov. 2020 (Torghast): Guide added.
  • 23 Nov. 2020 (talents page): Updated for Shadowlands.
  • 23 Nov. 2020 (gear page): Fixed typo.
  • 23 Nov. 2020 (enchants page): Updated for Shadowlands with Oils, Armor Kits, New enchants.
  • 23 Nov. 2020 (addons page): Reviewed for Shadowlands release. Added more addons.
  • 23 Nov. 2020 (stats page): Updated for Shadowlands.
  • 23 Nov. 2020 (how to improve page): Updated for Shadowlands.
  • 23 Nov. 2020 (easy mode page): Updated for Shadowlands.
  • 23 Nov. 2020 (this page): Updated for Shadowlands.
  • 23 Nov. 2020 (spells page): Updated for Shadowlands.
  • 23 Nov. 2020 (FAQ page): Removed BfA information. Added Covenant FAQ.
  • 23 Nov. 2020 (rotation page): Updated for Shadowlands.
  • 21 Nov. 2020 (Covenants and Soulbinds): Fixed broken Soulbind link.
  • 20 Nov. 2020 (Legendaries): Page added.
  • 20 Nov. 2020 (gear page): Removed BfA information. Added Shadowlands Dungeon Gear.
  • 20 Nov. 2020 (Covenants and Soulbinds): Updated with latest changes.
  • 17 Nov. 2020 (Covenants and Soulbinds): Page created
  • 12 Oct. 2020 (FAQ page): Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
  • 12 Oct. 2020 (mythic+ page): Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
  • 12 Oct. 2020 (Ny'alotha page): Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
  • 12 Oct. 2020 (this page): Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
  • 12 Oct. 2020 (rotation page): Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
  • 12 Oct. 2020 (talents page): Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
  • 12 Oct. 2020 (spells page): Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
  • 12 Oct. 2020 (easy mode page): Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
  • 12 Oct. 2020 (simulations page): Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
  • 12 Oct. 2020 (stats page): Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
  • 12 Oct. 2020 (addons page): Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
  • 12 Oct. 2020 (enchants page): Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
  • 12 Oct. 2020 (how to improve page): Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
  • 12 Oct. 2020 (gear page): Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
  • 20 Dec. 2019 (The Eternal Palace page): Updated essence choices.
  • 23 Jul. 2019 (The Eternal Palace page): Updated with Mythic information from Week 1.
  • 13 Jul. 2019 (The Eternal Palace page): Further updates to class tips.
  • 11 Jul. 2019 (The Eternal Palace page): Updated with additional information and up-to-date Essence recommendations.
  • 08 Jul. 2019 (The Eternal Palace page): Guide added.
  • 25 Jun. 2019 (Uldir page): This page has been reviewed for the release of Patch 8.2 and no changes are necessary.
  • 25 Jun. 2019 (Crucible of Storms page): This page has been reviewed for the release of Patch 8.2 and no changes are necessary.
  • 25 Jun. 2019 (Battle of Dazar'alor page): This page has been reviewed for the release of Patch 8.2 and no changes are necessary.
  • 21 Apr. 2019 (Crucible of Storms page): Guide added.
  • 22 Jan. 2019 (Uldir page): Updated wording in the introduction.
  • 22 Jan. 2019 (Battle of Dazar'alor page): Guide created for Season 2.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (Uldir page): Updated recommendations for Fetid Devourer, Vectis, Zul, Mythrax, and G'huun.
  • 24 Sep. 2018 (Uldir page): Updated recommendations for several bosses.
  • 06 Sep. 2018 (Uldir page): Updated MOTHER and Fetid Devourer recommendations.
  • 04 Sep. 2018 (Uldir page): Added Uldir boss recommendations.
  • 24 Aug. 2018 (Uldir page): Updated Azerite Trait and Gear recommendations.
  • 13 Aug. 2018 (Uldir page): Page added.
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