Blood Death Knight Tank Spec, Builds, and Talents — Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.1

Last updated on Dec 10, 2018 at 12:39 by Volstatsz 45 comments

On this page, you will find out the best talents for each tier for your Blood Death Knight in World of Warcraft — Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.1. 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.

1. Talent Choices for Blood Death Knight

Level Choices
56 Heartbreaker Heartbreaker Blooddrinker Blooddrinker Rune Strike ? Rune Strike
57 Rapid Decomposition Rapid Decomposition Hemostasis Hemostasis Consumption Consumption
58 Foul Bulwark ? Foul Bulwark Ossuary Ossuary Tombstone Tombstone
60 Will of the Necropolis Will of the Necropolis Anti-Magic Barrier ? Anti-Magic Barrier Rune Tap ? Rune Tap
75 Grip of the Dead ? Grip of the Dead Tightening Grasp ? Tightening Grasp Wraith Walk ? Wraith Walk
90 Voracious Voracious Bloodworms Bloodworms Mark of Blood Mark of Blood
100 Purgatory ? Purgatory Red Thirst Red Thirst Bonestorm 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 Icon Tome of the Tranquil Mind and Codex of the Tranquil Mind Icon Codex of the Tranquil Mind can be used to temporarily allow players to change talents anywhere, as long as they are out of combat.

2. Tier 1 (Level 56) Talents for Blood Death Knights

Heartbreaker Heartbreaker Blooddrinker Blooddrinker Rune Strike ? Rune Strike
  • Heartbreaker Icon Heartbreaker causes your Heart Strike Icon Heart Strike to generate 2 additional Runic Power for each target it hits.
  • Blooddrinker Icon Blooddrinker is an active, channeled ability with a 3-second 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 Icon Death Strike does not count as a defensive ability).
  • Rune Strike Icon Rune Strike is a melee attack that deals moderate physical damage and generates 1 rune. The cooldown of Rune Strike is reduced by runes you spend, allowing the ability to scale with haste. Rune Strike has two charges, and activates the global cooldown when used.

In this tier, we recommend Blooddrinker Icon Blooddrinker for purely single-target encounters, and Heartbreaker Icon Heartbreaker for most other circumstances. Even with only occasional opportunities to cleave, Heartbreaker will quickly pull ahead. Rune Strike Icon Rune Strike can be considered in purely single-target encounters where you need more defensive throughput; however, Rune Strike complicates your rotation significantly for a marginal benefit — it is usually better to find a different way to increase your defensive capability.

3. Tier 2 (Level 57) Talents for Blood Death Knights

Rapid Decomposition Rapid Decomposition Hemostasis Hemostasis Consumption Consumption
  • Rapid Decomposition Icon Rapid Decomposition causes your Death and Decay Icon Death and Decay and Blood Plague Icon Blood Plague to tick 15% faster (while retaining its total duration, leading to more damage and healing).
  • Hemostasis Icon Hemostasis increases the damage and healing of your next Death Strike Icon Death Strike by 8% for each target hit by Blood Boil Icon Blood Boil. This effect stacks up to 5 times for a maximum of 40% damage and healing possible.
  • Consumption Icon 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.

Hemostasis Icon Hemostasis is currently the only talent worth considering in this tier. The defensive and offensive benefits of Rapid Decomposition Icon Rapid Decomposition Consumption Icon Consumption are negligible.

4. Tier 3 (Level 58) Talents for Blood Death Knights

Foul Bulwark ? Foul Bulwark Ossuary Ossuary Tombstone Tombstone
  • Foul Bulwark Icon Foul Bulwark causes your maximum health to be increased by 1% for each charge of Bone Shield Icon Bone Shield you have.
  • Ossuary Icon Ossuary causes your Death Strike Icon Death Strike to cost 5 less Runic Power when you have 5 or more Bone Shield Icon Bone Shield charges. Additionally, Ossuary passively increases your maximum Runic Power by 10.
  • Tombstone Icon Tombstone is an active ability with a 1-minute cooldown which consumes up to 5 Bone Shield charges. This grants you an 8-second damage absorption shield, the size of which is based on the amount of Bone Shield charges consumed (6% of your maximum health per charge). It also grants you 6 Runic Power for each charge consumed. Tombstone is on the global cooldown, unlike most defensive cooldowns.

Ossuary Icon Ossuary is the default choice on this tier, and should be used in nearly any situation. Maintaining 5 stacks of Bone Shield Icon Bone Shield is not more difficult than keeping Bone Shield up generally, and the discount to the cost of Death Strike Icon Death Strike results in a 12.5% increase to available Death Strikes, which is significant. Paired with the increase to maximum Runic Power, the talent also allows you to bank a third Death Strike worth of Runic Power.

Foul Bulwark Icon Foul Bulwark will provide an average of 8-9% additional maximum health assuming effective play. While this is a valuable benefit, it cannot compete with the multiple benefits derived from Ossuary Icon Ossuary. Only use this talent if you need more effective health to survive a specific ability, and you have exhausted other options, such as flasks, food, and your runeforge.

Tombstone Icon Tombstone is a moderately powerful defensive cooldown; however, Blood already has a generally high degree of cooldown availability, making the benefit of adding another marginal. Additionally, as Tombstone is on the global cooldown, relying on it as a defensive ability forces you to stop attacking in anticipation of an attack, which is risky at best.

5. Tier 4 (Level 60) Talents for Blood Death Knights

Will of the Necropolis Will of the Necropolis Anti-Magic Barrier ? Anti-Magic Barrier Rune Tap ? Rune Tap
  • Will of the Necropolis Icon 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.
  • Anti-Magic Barrier Icon Anti-Magic Barrier reduces the cooldown of Anti-Magic Shell Icon Anti-Magic Shell 15 seconds, increases the duration by 1.5 seconds, and increases the amount absorbed by 30%.
  • Rune Tap Icon Rune Tap is an active ability with two charges that provides 30% damage reduction for 4 seconds. Rune Tap has a 25-second recharge time, and costs one rune.

In most content, Will of the Necropolis Icon Will of the Necropolis will be the best choice. The passive benefit is useful in nearly any tanking scenario.

Anti-Magic Barrier Icon Anti-Magic Barrier can be valuable when the cooldown reduction allows you to fit Anti-Magic Shell Icon 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.

Rune Tap Icon Rune Tap can be valuable in encounters with large, predictable spikes of damage, where additional damage reduction is required simply to survive. Generally, the passive benefit of Will of the Necropolis Icon Will of the Necropolis will outperform it across an entire fight, and Rune Tap should only be considered for encounters where stacking damage reduction cooldowns is required.

6. Tier 5 (Level 75) Talents for Blood Death Knights

Grip of the Dead ? Grip of the Dead Tightening Grasp ? Tightening Grasp Wraith Walk ? Wraith Walk
  • Grip of the Dead Icon Grip of the Dead applies a 90% snare to enemies in your Death and Decay Icon Death and Decay. This snare decays over time by 10% every second.
  • Tightening Grasp Icon Tightening Grasp reduces the cooldown of Gorefiend's Grasp Icon Gorefiend's Grasp by 30 seconds, to 90 seconds.
  • Wraith Walk Icon 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.

The correct talent on this row depends on the encounter. Take Tightening Grasp Icon Tightening Grasp any time the reduced cooldown to Gorefiend's Grasp Icon Gorefiend's Grasp will provide benefit. Grip of the Dead Icon Grip of the Dead should be your default choice in most Mythic+ situations, except on Sanguine Icon Sanguine weeks. Grip of the Dead may have situational utility in raid encounters as well, depending on your raid composition and encounter strategy. Any time the other two talents will not provide benefit during the encounter, you should use Wraith Walk Icon Wraith Walk, as having two separate mobility cooldowns gives you a much stronger mobility profile, which has several benefits for any tank.

7. Tier 6 (Level 90) Talents for Blood Death Knights

Voracious Voracious Bloodworms Bloodworms Mark of Blood Mark of Blood
  • Voracious Icon Voracious provides 15% Leech for 6 seconds after using Death Strike Icon Death Strike. The effect does not stack or extend on multiple uses of Death Strike, instead just refreshing the buff to 6 seconds.
  • Bloodworms Icon 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.
  • Mark of Blood Icon Mark of Blood costs 30 Runic Power to place a debuff on your target for 15 seconds. During that time, any auto attacks the target makes will heal the victim for 2% of their maximum health. Mark of Blood has a 6-second cooldown.

Bloodworms Icon Bloodworms is the only talent worth considering 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 Icon Voracious is too weak to consider taking. Additionally, the leech effect occurs right after the self-healing of Death Strike Icon Death Strike, increasing the overhealing rate of the healing this talent would provide.

While Mark of Blood Icon Mark of Blood could conceivably provide more healing per Runic Power spent than Death Strike Icon Death Strike on weaker content or 2-3 target sustained encounters, it will not compete with the healing from Bloodworms Icon Bloodworms and Death Strike combined. It also comes at a cost of both rotational complexity and massive amounts of lost damage from not using Runic Power on Death Strike.

8. Tier 7 (Level 100) Talents for Blood Death Knights

Purgatory ? Purgatory Red Thirst Red Thirst Bonestorm Bonestorm
  • Purgatory Icon 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 Icon Red Thirst reduces the cooldown of Vampiric Blood Icon Vampiric Blood by 1 second for every 10 Runic Power spent.
  • Bonestorm Icon 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 Icon Red Thirst will allow you to plan your defensive cooldowns more effectively, making it the default talent choice in this tier.

Purgatory Icon 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 Icon 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 Thrist could have been more effective in saving their lives.

Bonestorm Icon 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.)

9. 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.

9.1. General PvP Talents

The first PvP talent slot is the same for all classes and specs and provides defense against crowd control abilities.

  • Relentless Icon Relentless is a passive ability that reduces the duration of all crowd control abilities.
  • Gladiator's Medallion Icon Gladiator's Medallion is a 2-minute cooldown ability that clears all crowd control effects on you.
  • Adaptation Icon Adaptation automatically clears any crowd control effect longer than 5 seconds, with a 1-minute cooldown.

Your optimal choice while playing open-world content will typically be Gladiator's Medallion Icon Gladiator's Medallion - Blood Death Knights have access to extensive crowd control immunity through Icebound Fortitude Icon Icebound Fortitude and Death's Advance Icon Death's Advance; Gladiator's Medallion can cover what gaps may exist after these abilities, leaving you very difficult to control in unexpected PvP situations.

Adaptation Icon Adaptation is also a viable choice, particularly if you do not want to keep track of an additional ability solely for use in PvP situations; however, most players who will choose to engage you in open world PvP will be fully prepared to account for an automatic crowd control removal ability, reducing its value significantly.

9.2. Blood Death Knight PvP Talents

  1. Blood for Blood Icon Blood for Blood deals a trivial amount of damage to you in exchange for a 60% increase to Heart Strike Icon Heart Strike damage over 12 seconds.
  2. Last Dance Icon Last Dance reduces the base cooldown of Dancing Rune Weapon Icon Dancing Rune Weapon to 1 minute. Especially paired with the Tier 21 2-piece Set Bonus, this results in a very high uptime on a strong, versatile cooldown.
  3. Death Chain Icon 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.
  4. Unholy Command Icon Unholy Command is a good quality of life improvement while completing open world content.
  5. Necrotic Aura Icon Necrotic Aura and Murderous Intent Icon Murderous Intent can be very strong when completing open world content in a group, but have very limited value in solo play.

Anti-Magic Zone Icon Anti-Magic Zone, Dark Simulacrum Icon Dark Simulacrum, Decomposing Aura Icon Decomposing Aura, Strangulate Icon Strangulate, and Walking Dead Icon Walking Dead all have limited value in PvE content.

10. Changelog

  • 10 Dec. 2018: Added Patch 8.1 talent changes.
  • 24 Aug. 2018: Updated talent recommendations for Levels 56, 75, and 100.
  • 13 Aug. 2018: Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
Show more
Show less
Force desktop version
Force mobile version