Blood Death Knight Tank Spec, Builds, and Talents — Shadowlands Pre-Patch 9.0.1
On this page, you will find out the best talents for each tier for your Blood Death Knight in World of Warcraft — Shadowlands Pre-Patch 9.0.1. We also have default talent lists for various types of content, such as raiding or Mythic+. If you play with Warmode on, we have your PvP talents covered as well.
On this page, we cover all of the talents you have access to, explaining how each one of them is to be used. Some of these talents, active or passive, can make a huge difference in how Blood Death Knights are played, all of which is explained on our rotation page.
There are also some talents that are good in certain environments, while lacking in others. For more information regarding talents that are good in Mythic+, you can take a look at our Mythic+ guide.
Talent Choices for Blood Death Knight
|15||✓ Heartbreaker||✓ Blooddrinker||✗ Tombstone|
|25||✗ Rapid Decomposition||✓ Hemostasis||✗ Consumption|
|30||✗ Foul Bulwark||✓ Relish in Blood||✓ Blood Tap|
|35||✓ Will of the Necropolis||? Anti-Magic Barrier||✗ Mark of Blood|
|40||? Grip of the Dead||? Tightening Grasp||? Wraith Walk|
|45||✓ Voracious||✗ Death Pact||✓ Bloodworms|
|50||? Purgatory||? Red Thirst||? Bonestorm|
Talents can be freely changed when out of combat and in a rested XP area (such as an inn or a capital city). Moreover, Tome of the Tranquil Mind and Codex of the Tranquil Mind can be used to temporarily allow players to change talents anywhere, as long as they are out of combat.
Tier 1 (Level 15) Talents for Blood Death Knights
|✔ Heartbreaker||✔ Blooddrinker||✘ Tombstone|
- Heartbreaker causes your Heart Strike to generate 2 additional Runic Power for each target it hits, up to 10 extra.
- Blooddrinker is an active, channeled ability with a 3-second hasted duration and a 30-second cooldown. While channeling Blooddrinker, you drain health from the target (it loses it and you receive it as healing). While channeling Blooddrinker, you can still parry, dodge, and use defensive abilities (notably, Death Strike does not count as a defensive ability, while Dancing Rune Weapon does).
- Tombstone allows you to convert up to 5 Bone Shield charges into 6% maximum health as an absorb and 6 Runic Power each, every minute. This "costs" you 4 Runes not spent on Heart Strike to return this value.
In this tier, we recommend Blooddrinker for purely single-target DPS, and Heartbreaker for other circumstances. Even with only occasional opportunities to cleave, Heartbreaker will quickly pull ahead. It is also worth noting that mismanagement of Blooddrinker, even slight mistakes like clipping the last tick, will cause it to be inferior to Heartbreaker.
Tombstone is too underwhelming to even be considered; in an optimal use case, you are looking at barely breaking even on Runic Power generation and healing.
Tier 2 (Level 25) Talents for Blood Death Knights
|✘ Rapid Decomposition||✔ Hemostasis||✘ Consumption|
- Rapid Decomposition causes your Death and Decay and Blood Plague to tick 15% faster (while retaining its total duration, leading to more damage and healing), and Blood Plague to do 50% more damage.
- Hemostasis increases the damage and healing of your next Death Strike by 8% for each target hit by Blood Boil. This effect stacks up to 5 times for a maximum of 40% damage and healing possible.
- Consumption is a melee attack that hits all enemies in front of you for a moderate amount of damage and heals you the total damage dealt. Consumption has no cost and a 45-second cooldown.
Tier 3 (Level 30) Talents for Blood Death Knights
|✘ Foul Bulwark||✔ Relish in Blood||✔ Blood Tap|
- Foul Bulwark causes your maximum health to be increased by 1% for each charge of Bone Shield you have.
- Relish in Blood causes you to gain 10 Runic Power and a minimal heal when consuming Crimson Scourge.
- Blood Tap is an active ability on a set of two charges, off the global cooldown, that allows you to regain a Rune when used. The cooldown of this ability is reduced by 2 seconds whenever you lose a charge of Bone Shield.
This row has two independent, valid choices:
- In situations with constant tanking uptime, Blood Tap naturally gains in value, as you lose more charges of Bone Shield. In addition to this, its effect (gaining a Rune) is more versatile than the competition. However, just like every active effect, proper management of it is necessary: do not use it to regain a Rune that would cause you to cap on recharging another Rune, essentially. In the hands of a skilled player, it is the better option on the row as long as you are not tanking a 50% uptime boss.
- Everywhere else, Relish in Blood causes the use of a Crimson Scourge proc to grant you 10 Runic Power. The heal is negligible; the important part is the Runic Power. Due to how Crimson Scourge works, and more importantly, how it is not possible to gain a proc when Death and Decay is on the ground, you have a very strong incentive to consume those procs as quickly as possible.
Tier 4 (Level 35) Talents for Blood Death Knights
|✔ Will of the Necropolis||? Anti-Magic Barrier||✘ Mark of Blood|
- Will of the Necropolis absorbs 30% of all damage taken below 30% health. The absorb is pro-rated on damage taken that brings you below 30%; for example, if you were at 40% health, and took damage that would bring you to 20%, then half of the damage taken would get the 30% damage aborption effect. Because of this, it is fundamentally accurate to think of Will of the Necropolis as equivalent to an approximately 13% increase in maximum health. This also affects damage that would bring you below 1 HP, thus providing a linear increase to effective health.
- Anti-Magic Barrier reduces the cooldown of Anti-Magic Shell 15 seconds, increases the duration by 1.5 seconds, and increases the amount absorbed by 30%.
- Mark of Blood marks your target with a debuff for 15 seconds. Whenever they melee something in that time, they will heal them for 3% of their maximum health.
In most content, Will of the Necropolis will be the best choice. The passive benefit is useful in nearly any tanking scenario. It is also worth noting that it is modelled in-game as an absorb and, therefore, unlike other damage reduction sources in the game, the damage it reduces still counts in Death Strike healing calculations.
Anti-Magic Barrier can be valuable when the cooldown reduction allows you to fit Anti-Magic Shell into your cooldown plan more effectively, or when the increased duration or size allows you to avoid the application of a debuff.
Mark of Blood had its cost removed this expansion. However, it is niche at best, and very questionable overall.
Tier 5 (Level 40) Talents for Blood Death Knights
|? Grip of the Dead||? Tightening Grasp||? Wraith Walk|
- Grip of the Dead applies a 90% snare to enemies in your Death and Decay. This snare decays over time by 10% every second.
- Tightening Grasp reduces the cooldown of Gorefiend's Grasp by 30 seconds, to 90 seconds.
- Wraith Walk is an active ability that increases movement speed by 70% for 4 seconds, on a 1-minute cooldown. Taking actions during Wraith Walk immediately cancels the effect.
Grip of the Dead should be your default choice in Mythic+, along with any fight where there is a requirement for what is arguably the strongest snare in the game. It is worth noting that, if you manage to make an enemy walk into your Death and Decay at the second it expires, it will be affected with a full 10 seconds of 90% speed reduction.
Any time the other two talents will not provide benefit during the encounter, you should use Wraith Walk, as having two separate mobility cooldowns gives you a much stronger mobility profile, which has several benefits for any tank.
Tier 6 (Level 45) Talents for Blood Death Knights
|✔ Voracious||✘ Death Pact||✔ Bloodworms|
- Voracious amplifies the healing provided by Death Strike by 20%, raises the minimum healing value to 10.5%, and grants you 15% leech for 8 seconds after using it.
- Death Pact is a trap talent. Unless you absolutely need to survive an ungodly large oneshot mechanic, do not even look at it.
- Bloodworms gives your auto-attacks a chance to summon a guardian pet that will auto-attack your target for 15 seconds. When the 15 seconds expires, or when you fall below 50% health, the bloodworm will be killed and heal you for 15% of your missing health. Multiple bloodworms can be active at the same time; you will summon approximately 5 bloodworms per minute.
Bloodworms is the go-to generic talent on this tier. The auto-attack damage dealt by the bloodworms is significant, and the defensive bonus, while weak, is passive and is more valuable when tanking more difficult content.
Voracious has increased in value by a lot, and is now the go-to defensive/healing throughput on the row. Pick it when you're at constant risk of dying. Its only drawback is that it provides no offensive benefit.
Tier 7 (Level 60) Talents for Blood Death Knights
|? Purgatory||? Red Thirst||? Bonestorm|
- Purgatory passively allows you to survive a killing blow, once every 4 minutes. The attack that would otherwise kill you places a 3-second healing absorption debuff on you instead. The debuff absorbs healing equal to the amount of damage that the killing blow would have done to you. While the debuff is active, you cannot be killed, and any damage taken is added to the healing absorption effect. If the effect is still present when the 3 seconds run out (meaning, if you have not been healed for the entire amount by then), you will die.
- Red Thirst reduces the cooldown of Vampiric Blood by 1 second for every 10 Runic Power spent.
- Bonestorm is an active ability with a 1-minute cooldown, which consumes up to 100 Runic Power. It lasts 1 second for each 10 Runic Power it consumes, and while active, it deals Shadow damage every 1 second to enemies around you. It also heals you for 3% of your maximum health each time it deals damage. The heal is capped at 15%, or 5 targets hit.
In most encounters, the cooldown reduction provided by Red Thirst will allow you to plan your defensive cooldowns more effectively, making it the default talent choice in this tier.
Purgatory is a powerful tool for learning encounters and recovering from mistakes. While there is a meaningful possibility you may die, and the cooldown reduction of Red Thirst will not provide benefit to your cooldown plan, it should be your talent choice in this tier. It is important to recognize that as your skill level goes up, the value of Purgatory falls significantly — experienced Blood Death Knights on well-practiced content will rarely need a cheat death, and often in such circumstances the benefits of Red Thirst could have been more effective in saving their lives.
Bonestorm is a powerful AoE ability on a relatively short cooldown. It is especially valuable in Mythic+, and on encounters where burst AoE damage is important. The heal has the potential to be very large as well, scaling with the number of enemies hit (up to 5 enemies). Do not let this limit fool you — a 15% healing per second HoT is more than consequent. As such, this talent is the default pick for Mythic+.
PvP Talents (War Mode)
In Battle for Azeroth, there will be the option to go into "War Mode". Enabling War Mode provides the following benefits:
- PvP talents enabled in the outdoor world.
- 10% increase in World Quest rewards at maximum level.
- 10% more experience gained while leveling.
- Earn Conquest Points which can reward gear every week.
Blood Death Knight PvP Talents
- Death Chain is a nice damage increase when pulling 3 or more enemies, though the 30-second cooldown prevents it from being used on every pull.
- Necrotic Aura and Murderous Intent can be very strong when completing open world content in a group, but have very limited value in solo play.
While PvPing as Blood Death Knight can certainly be fun, you might also want to try out PvPing as either Frost or Unholy. Both of these specs will deal a lot more damage while being squishier.
- 12 Oct. 2020: Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
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