Blood Death Knight Tank Spec, Builds, and Talents — Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.3
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) 8.3. 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.
Talent Choices for Blood Death Knight
|56||✓ Heartbreaker||✓ Blooddrinker||? Rune Strike|
|57||✗ Rapid Decomposition||✓ Hemostasis||✗ Consumption|
|58||? Foul Bulwark||✓ Ossuary||✗ Tombstone|
|60||✓ Will of the Necropolis||? Anti-Magic Barrier||? Rune Tap|
|75||? Grip of the Dead||? Tightening Grasp||? Wraith Walk|
|90||✗ Voracious||✓ Bloodworms||✗ Mark of Blood|
|100||? 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 56) Talents for Blood Death Knights
|✔ Heartbreaker||✔ Blooddrinker||? Rune Strike|
- Heartbreaker causes your Heart Strike to generate 2 additional Runic Power for each target it hits.
- 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 does not count as a defensive ability).
- 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 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..
Rune Strike can be considered in very niche scenarios where you need additional runes, with a significant rotational overhead. These cases are few and far between, and so far, there has not been one in Battle for Azeroth.
Tier 2 (Level 57) 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).
- 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 58) Talents for Blood Death Knights
|? Foul Bulwark||✔ Ossuary||✘ Tombstone|
- Foul Bulwark causes your maximum health to be increased by 1% for each charge of Bone Shield you have.
- Ossuary causes your Death Strike to cost 5 less Runic Power when you have 5 or more Bone Shield charges. Additionally, Ossuary passively increases your maximum Runic Power by 10.
- 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 is the default choice on this tier, and should be used in nearly any situation. Maintaining 5 stacks of Bone Shield is not more difficult than keeping Bone Shield up generally, and the discount to the cost of 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 will provide an average of 6-9% additional maximum health assuming effective play. While this is a valuable benefit, it cannot compete with the multiple benefits derived from Ossuary. Only use this talent if you need more effective health at the cost of healing throughput, and you have exhausted other options, such as flasks, food, and your runeforge.
Tombstone is a moderately powerful defensive cooldown, allowing access to a 30% absorb that snapshots, at the cost of 5 charges of Bone Shield. Due to its operational overhead and the problem of it being on the global cooldown, however, it does not perform as effectively as it could, even in the situations where it is useful (taking infrequent hits larger than your maximum effective health). It is therefore better to avoid this choice.
Tier 4 (Level 60) Talents for Blood Death Knights
|✔ Will of the Necropolis||? Anti-Magic Barrier||? Rune Tap|
- 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%.
- 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 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.
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 will outperform it across an entire fight, and Rune Tap should only be considered for encounters where stacking damage reduction cooldowns is required.
Tier 5 (Level 75) 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 90) Talents for Blood Death Knights
|✘ Voracious||✔ Bloodworms||✘ Mark of Blood|
- Voracious provides 15% Leech for 6 seconds after using Death Strike. The effect does not stack or extend on multiple uses of Death Strike, instead just refreshing the buff to 6 seconds.
- 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 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 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.
While Mark of Blood could conceivably provide more healing per Runic Power spent than Death Strike on weaker content or 2-3 target sustained encounters, it will not compete with the healing from 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. There are some niche uses for it, but they are more down to bosses that have an attack speed increase; this talent saw some play when tanking Pa'ku on the Conclave of the Chosen encounter.
Tier 7 (Level 100) 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.
General PvP Talents
The first PvP talent slot is the same for all classes and specs and provides defense against crowd control abilities.
- Relentless is a passive ability that reduces the duration of all crowd control abilities.
- Gladiator's Medallion is a 2-minute cooldown ability that clears all crowd control effects on you.
- 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 - Blood Death Knights have access to extensive crowd control immunity through Icebound Fortitude and 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 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.
Blood Death Knight PvP Talents
- Blood for Blood deals a trivial amount of damage to you in exchange for a 60% increase to Heart Strike damage over 12 seconds.
- 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.
- Unholy Command is a good quality of life improvement while completing open world content.
- 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.
About Conflict and Strife
The PvP essence provided in 8.2, Conflict and Strife allows us to use Unholy Command in PvE content. This has very little value in open world content, as this effectively means you'll end up picking a fourth, sub-par PvP talent in return.
Its PvE viability in dungeons and raids will also be niche, as it depends highly on the encounter, and you sacrifice a lot to choose it.
- 13 Jan. 2020: This page was reviewed for Patch 8.3 and no changes are necessary.
- 26 Jun. 2019: Updated for Patch 8.2.
- 22 Jan. 2019: This page has been reviewed for Season 2 and no changes are necessary.
- 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.
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