Tanking as a Death Knight - Part 2a: Speccing - Blood

So how do you spec for tanking as a Death Knight? Other tanking classes just have one tree for tanking, Death Knights have 3. Each has their own niche, and each can perform equally well given ideal circumstances. Obviously some will be better in one area than another, but the idea is you pick whichever one suits your playstyle.

Personally I have used all 3 of the trees. I started out as Blood for 5 mans, and then switched to Unholy pre-Bone Shield nerf. After the nerf I stayed as Unholy for a little bit, and then went back to Blood for a long time. Now that we are working on Sarth + 2, I've gone back to Frost for Whelp tanking.

Any Death Knight tanking spec will start out with the 3 base tanking talents at the bottom of each tree - Blade Barrier, Toughness, and Anticipation. After you have those 3 you build up your points to your "36 point" tanking talent in your chosen tree. You will want a minimum of 50 points in 1 tree to pick up your "Expertise Talent".


Your base spec will look something like this. There are a bunch of filler talents you have to take to get down to the 50 point level, and are completely optional. These include Bloodworms, Hysteria, and Bloody Vengeance. Some people like to pick up Rune Tap instead - I have never been a big fan of it personally, but it all comes down to taste and personal choice. From there you should have ~9 or so points leftover that you have to decide what to do with. Most people currently stick them in Frost to pick up Lichborne.

My old spec used to look like this. Some people liked to use the last 3 points to pick up Morbidity to strengthen what is arguably Blood's biggest weakness in AoE threat.

In 3.1 Blood will change somewhat. The base spec will change to something like this. Note the filler talents again of Bloody Vengeance, Sudden Doom, Hysteria and Mark of Blood. Those points can be placed in other talents as you so choose. The end spec might look something like this as Blood is being encouraged to put more points into Unholy than Frost. Again, a lot of these talents are optional and highly dependent upon your playstyle.


Tanking as a Death Knight - Part 1: What's a Death Knight?

What is a Death Knight?

A Death Knight is a plate wearing class that can tank and DPS with any of its 3 trees with varying degrees of success depending on the situation. Each tree has its own specialization and style of tanking. There is no "best" tree (although some would argue otherwise) - you just need to pick the one you like the most.


The current focus of Blood is physical damage combined with the ability to self heal through talents. This is mostly staying the same in 3.1. In its current incarnation Blood has great single target threat, but rather lackluster AoE threat. This will change with 3.1 and the removal of Lichborne as a tanking cooldown - together with the changes to Unholy will greatly improve the AoE threat of Blood. On top of that, Blood receives a huge single target increase from the changes to Sudden Doom, and the bonus disease damage changes to Heart Strike and Obliterate.


Frost is focussed on mitigation and Frost damage (duh!). It has the best overall physical mitigation of the 3 trees, together with great single and AoE threat. In 3.1 this largely stays the same. Some talents are getting changed, but the overall focus and threat abilities are staying the same.


Unholy has the best magic mitigation of the three, but the poorest ability to deal with physical damage. On Live right now, Unholy also suffers from horrible single target threat compared to the other trees, but extreme AoE threat from Unholy Blight, reduced CD on Death and Decay, and long disease duration. All of this is largely staying the same in 3.1 - however Scourge Strike is being buffed to take care of the single target threat problem.

All in all, you have to try each of the 3 trees and decide which one you like the most.

It's Alliiivvvveee!

Or something.

Obligatory "Welcome to Death Kitty" post.

This will actually be an on-going World of Warcraft blog focussing on Death Knight PvE (mostly tanking) and Feral Druid PvP.

I got the idea from Lissanna to do a blog. Because lets face it, Lissanna is cool people. That, and there are hardly any *real* Death Knight or Feral PvP blogs in existence.

Overview of Death Knight tanking to follow.