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[Resto] Mists of Pandaria 5.4

Sep 11 2012 11:54 PM | Earen in Druid


 

Contents

Introduction


This is a compendium of information on raiding as a Resto Druid. It summarizes well-known points of Resto play, and serves as a starting point for discussion of healing in Mists of Pandaria. While there's a lot of room for discussion, people should be generally familiar with the contents of this post before replying on this thread.

Talents, Glyphs, and Race


The Spec


The new talents are such that the intention is for one not to be exceedingly better than the other, which leaves you many options. You should explore the talents and find those that suit both your play style and the dynamics of each encounter. With the ease of respeccing, you may find that certain talents are more advantageous for different encounters. As such, you may want to consider using the new flexibility to respec based on the demands of each encounter.

Legend:
  • Recommended - This talent will be very useful to nearly all Restoration Druids, but there are some instances in which you may want to skip it in favor of a different talent in the tree.
  • Situational - This talent will be useful in some situations depending the style of the fight.
  • Skip - There are very few circumstances in which this talent is worth considering in PvE content, but should not be overlooked if there are boss mechanics in which it could be useful.

Tier Talent Recommendation Comments
    
15Feline Swiftness
Recommended
The static movement speed increase will be beneficial in almost all situations and is always valuable.
15 Displacer Beast
Situational
While not as continuously beneficial as Feline Swftness, this instant movement ability will port you 20 yards. Moderately long cooldown.
15 Wild Charge
Situational
While not a poor choice, it will not be as continuously beneficial as Feline Swiftness. However, do not discount the usefulness in encounters where a quick, instant movement might be of benefit.
    
    
30 Ysera's Gift
Recommended
Every 5 sec, heals you for 5% of your maximum health. If you are at full health, the most injured nearby ally will be healed instead.
30 Renewal
Skip
Of the three talents in the tier, this is the weakest option for PvE. The direct heal isn't insignificant and is off the GCD - but as resto you have other, stronger tools for self healing.
30 Cenarion Ward
Recommended
The weakness in this ability is that it offers another heal over time ability, that you cannot direct, and has a lot of potential for overheal and wasted healing.
    
    
45 Faerie Swarm
Situational
Provides the option to stack weakened armor and snare for 15 seconds.
45 Mass Entanglement
Situational
A crowd control ability that is essentially entangling roots on crack. Gives the ability to root up to four additional targets near the initial target.
45 Typhoon
Situational
A crowd control ability that allows a knockback of all targets within 30 yards and dazes them for 6 seconds. Can also be used to torment tanks and troll melee.
    
    
60 Soul of the Forest
Recommended
Gain 100% haste after using Swiftmend. Can be very powerful when combined with Wild Growth for extra burst AE healing during heavy raid damage or to refresh Lifebloom or Rejuv during periods of heavy tank damage. This choice can be strong in encounters with consistent raid damage.
60 Incarnation
Recommended
Permits you to shift into Tree of Life. Gives 15% increased healing as well as the ability to enhance Lifebloom, Wild Growth and Regrowth. In addition to the healing boost, it is very powerful as a mana saving resource due to the relative low cost of Lifebloom and the extra clearcasting procs resulting from multiple Lifeblooms being active.
60 Force of Nature
Situational
Summons a treant to help you heal. Upon summoning the treant will cast Swiftmend on your target. Despite the changes to improve this talent, it remains the weakest of the three abilities in this tier and its use remains situational.
    
    
75 Disorienting Roar
Situational
Crowd Control ability that lets you fear all enemies within three yards for a short duration, but you must be in melee range of your target to activate this ability.
75 Ursol's Vortex
Situational
Crowd Control ability that snares enemies and ports them back to the center of the vortex upon attempting to leave the vortex. Can be used at range.
75 Mighty Bash
Situational
Crowd Control ability that stuns one target for five seconds, but you must be in melee range of your target to activate this ability.
    
    
90 Heart of the Wild
Situational
Offers a static 6% increase to intellect and also offers the ability to enhance specific abilities outside of the resto specialization for 30 seconds. While the "enhanced" portion of the ability is situational, the Intellect increase is quite strong. This ability will also increase healing by 25% while active. Note: This is a very strong option for Challenge Modes, where the enchanced portion of the ability is quite strong as a means to add extra DPS during periods of low damage.
90 Dream of Cenarius
Situational
The least attractive ability in this tier, Dream of Cenarius will cause wrath to do 20% more damage, and will heal nearby allies for 100% of the damage done. The weakness in this ability is the high cost of Wrath and the interaction with the healing portion not being a good trade off comparatively.
90 Nature's Vigil
Recommended
Increases all damage and healing done by 12% for 30 seconds. and causes single-target healing spells to trigger an additional heal on a nearby ally for 25% of the amount healed. It also permits your healing spells to do damage to nearby enemies for 25% of the healing done. This is a strong option due to the increased healing provided, which offers us an additional cooldown during high damage times.
Here's a typical spec that can get you started in the right direction:
Talent Calculator - World of Warcraft

There are few adjustments you might consider making:
  • Incarnation:Tree of Life: You may find that you prefer the play style and performance that ToL offers, and may want to consider it as an alternative to Soul of the Forest.
  • Heart of the Wild: You may find that you prefer the static 6% intellect boost and 25% healing cooldown to having the increased healing cooldown offered by Nature's Vigil.

Talent details


A few additional facts for the people who are interested:
  • Omen of Clarity: Clearcasting can only be procced by Lifebloom (via the Malfurion's Gift ability that is part of the baseline resto abilities). Among healing spells, Clearcasting is only consumed by Healing Touch and Regrowth. A proc lasts 15 seconds.
  • Efflorescence is now combined with Swiftmend and will show as Efflorescence in your logs. The individual ticks can now also crit.
  • You can now glyph Efflorescence to decouple it from Swiftmend.
  • Wild Growth: The base heal decays with each tick, but all extra healing from spellpower is equal across the ticks.
  • Mark of the Wild: Now only provides Strength, Agility and Intellect.
  • Heart of the Wild is calculated utilizing your total intellect as opposed to base intellect.

Glyphs


Prime Glyphs:
Use [Glyph of Efflorescence], [Glyph of Wild Growth]*, [Glyph of Regrowth]. If you do not want to lose the HoT from utilizing [Glyph of Regrowth], consider utilizing [Glyph of Healing Touch]. It should also be noted that [Glyph of Rebirth] is now an optional glyph, as Rebirth restores a player to 60% of their health.

It should be noted that [Glyph of Efflorescence] will be very strong, and will also permit decoupling swiftmend from efflorescence.

You may also want to consider [Glyph of Stampeding Roar] for its situational usefulness on certain encounters.

*When working on Challenge Modes, you will want to opt for [Glyph of Stampeding Roar] or [Glyph of Rebirth] in place of [Glyph of Wild Growth]

Minor Glyphs:
Minor Glyphs are all now largely cosmetic or “fun” options, and you should feel free to choose whichever glyphs you like best. I might recommend [Glyph of the Stag], [Glyph of the Orca] and [Glyph of Charm Woodland Creature] if you are looking for some fun new forms or toys to play with. Alternatively, for those who languished in caster form, you may want to utilize [Glyph of the Treant] to get back to your roots(pun intended!). You may want to play around with [Glyph of One with Nature] for what is essentially a Wormhole Generator: Druid!

Lastly, for those who prefer to keep the targeting reticule for mushrooms, rather than planting them underneath someone, you can opt to select [Glyph of the Sprouting Mushroom]


Race


Horde: Troll is best, since it gives Berserking. Tauren gives no healing benefit.
Alliance: Worgen is best, since it gives 1% crit (Darkflight is also a nice perk). Night Elf gives no healing benefit.

In both cases, the difference is very minor.

Gear


Please see the post below for a list of Pre-Raid gear.

Leather Specialization


Resoration Druids receive a passive bonus, via Leather Specialization, that increases intellect by 5% provided that all applicable item slots are filled with leather gear. This is a very easy bonus to obtain and the bonus far outweighs any benefit that you may receive by wearing non-leather items. To take advantage of this bonus, you should always opt to wear leather items.

Stats


In roughly descending order of importance.

Intellect:
Intellect provides 1 spellpower and 0.00039% to crit per point.

Several abilities and bonuses may interact with Intellect to provide an increased value for each point of Intellect that you have. There are three main abilities that will have this effect: Leather Specialization (5%), Heart of the Wild (6%) and Mark of the Wild (5%). As such, assuming use of Leather Specialization and MotW, 1 point of intellect will be worth 1.1025. If you add in Heart of the Wild 1 point of intellect will be worth 1.169 (this will also provide you with 0.00046% crit per point). Note that it takes 2168 points per 1% crit, which is about 3.5 times weaker than 1 crit rating.

Intellect will be your best stat for throughput.

Spellpower:
Intellect, without the talent bonuses or crit bonus. Basically a weaker form of Intellect that only appears on weapons and trinkets, but is still good.

Spirit:
Since Intellect no longer increases our mana pools, or has any effect on our regen (or innervate), Spirit has become our primary regen stat. 1 point of spirit will grant you roughly 1.128 MP5 (~.56 MP5 in combat). With Meditation (which is baseline), you will gain 56.4 MP5 in combat for every 100 Spirit.

It should also be noted that with the changes to Innervate and Spirit's interaction with it, Spirit effectively gains an additional 0.138 MP5, making the total effect in practice approximately 0.70 MP5.


Mastery rating:
480 mastery rating adds 1% to our Harmony bonus. This is essentially a flat bonus to all healing (albeit an additive bonus, so slightly weaker than it looks). Aside from haste breakpoints, mastery is the secondary stat giving the best throughput.

Haste rating:
425 haste rating gives 1% spell haste. This reduces the cast time and GCD of all of our spells, to a minimum of 1 second GCD (there is no effect on Rejuvenation, which automatically has a 1 second GCD from talents). It also causes our HoT's to tick faster and potentially gain extra ticks (see below for more on breakpoints). Aside from a few very significant breakpoints, haste is a weaker secondary stat since it doesn't improve Rejuvenation at all, and increases mana consumption.

Critical strike rating:
600 crit rating gives 1% to crit. All healing effects are able to crit. Due in part to its greater itemization cost, crit adds ess throughput than mastery.


Haste Breakpoints


As noted above, much of the value of haste lies in its ability to add extra HoT ticks at certain specific values. Here are some of the most important ones that tend to be useful to know while gearing your character:

The 5% haste buff referred to below comes from a Moonkin, Shadow Priest, or Elemental Shaman.
Spell # Ticks Percent +5% Raid Buff Unbuffed
     
Lifebloom +1
16
3.36%
0
1428
Wild Growth (SotF) +8
15
107.25%
0
1542
Wild Growth +1
8
7.12%
860
3028
Lifebloom +2
17
9.95%
2004
4229
Wild Growth (SotF) +9
16
121.48%
2325
4566
Rejuvenation +1
5
12.51%
3039
5316
Tranquility +1
5
12.52%
3043
5320
Lifebloom +3
18
16.62%
4703
7063
Regrowth +1
4
16.65%
4717
7078
Wild Growth (SotF) +10
17
135.57%
5176
7559
Wild Growth +2
9
21.43%
6652
9109
Lifebloom +4
19
23.38%
7440
9937
Wild Growth (SotF) +11
18
149.69%
8033
10559
Lifebloom +5
20
29.95%
10101
12731
Wild Growth (SotF) +12
19
164.20%
10970
13643
Wild Growth +3
10
35.78%
12458
15206
Lifebloom +6
21
36.71%
12834
15600
Tranquility +2
6
37.50%
13157
15940
Rejuvenation +2
6
37.52%
13163
15947
All values are courtesy of Binkenstein and his great work on the Healer Haste Breakpoint Cards.

Stat priority and Reforging


Intellect will be your primary stat. While chosing gear you will need to find a point where you have a comfortable amount of throughput and regen. To facilitate this, you will want to optimize trade offs between spirit and other secondary stats so that you have enough regen to fit your playstyle (and raid environment) without neglecting other secondary stats. If you are ending encounters with excess mana, continue to devalue spirit until you reach a point that you can successfully end the race with your mana bar empty while continuing to feel that you had enough mana to successfully navigate the encounter.

Healer epics have Intellect, Stamina, spellpower in the case of weapons, and 2 out of the 4 secondary stats: crit rating, haste rating, mastery rating or Spirit. Reforging allows you to change 40% of one secondary stat on an item into another secondary stat that's not already present. When planning what to equip and reforge, keep the following in mind:
  • You should be aware of haste breakpoints for your HoT's (see above).
  • The first breakpoint we will want to try to reach is 3043, for your first Rejuv and Tranquility tick. One thing to note about the Tranquility breakpoint is that it only affects the HoT portion of Tranquility and you do not gain extra ticks of Tranquitly itself. It may be appropriate to give up some Int if necessary to reach your breakpoints (by using haste gems or swapping an item). As we continue to gear through SoO, you can aim for the sixth rejuvenation tick attainable at 13,163 haste. It is perfectly fine to remain at 3043 and reforge any excess haste into mastery if you cannot reach the higher breakpoint.
  • It is important to note when you are gearing for breakpoints that you should select one and gear accordingly - you will want to be at either 3043 or 13163. If you cannot reach your selected breakpoint, do not continue to gear haste that will leave you in between break points. Simply reforge your gear appropriately until you are capable of reaching the next benchmark.
  • Otherwise, always choose an item of higher ilvl (and if possible, higher socket count) in each slot. You should opt for items that have both Int and Spirit, until you have reached a comfortable regen level, and then you can opt for items that have alternative secondary stats.
  • Outside of haste breakpoints, your basic choice is between throughput stats (mastery and crit) and regen (Spirit). When it's not getting you extra HoT ticks, haste is your weakest stat since it doesn't benefit Rejuv and increases your mana consumption.
  • Between mastery and crit, mastery winds up being a better throughput benefit.
  • With the change to mana pools and the regen paradigm, you should look to find a regen level you are comfortable with relative to your preferred play style, and then reforge to mastery or haste depending on your preferred haste breakpoint. You will receive the same mana return from innervate as you did pre-5.4 at 12,000 spirit.

The end result is that once we are comfortable with our regen (spirit levels) we will continue to stack mostly Int as much as possible, and try to reach 3043/13163 haste if you can reasonably do so in your gear. Otherwise, generally try to fill any remaining stats with mastery.

Set Bonuses


T14 2 Piece Bonus: The 2T14 will be quite attractive as we enter the first tier of raiding, due to the reduced mana cost of Rejuvenation (10%). Use it as soon as you can get it.

T14 4 Piece Bonus: The 4T14 is also quite good for the decreased cooldown on Swiftmend. When used in conjunction with Soul of the Forest it helps to better synergize the cooldowns on Wild Growth and Swiftmend.

T15 2 Piece Bonus: This bonus will be quite nice in a 25 man setting due to the likelihood of consistently having four targets grouped for Swiftmend, but may not be as useful in a 10 man setting.

T 15 4 Piece Bonus: The value of this bonus is about a 16% increase to rejuv's healing, the later, more powerful, ticks are more likely to be overhealing - which synergizes well with the new mushroom format.

T 16 2 Piece Bonus: I think that this is an interesting bonus. Essentially, at 5 stacks you have a completely free HT. I’m not 100% sure it will be worth picking up until you have your four piece bonus – as I’m not sure it’s worth losing your 4 T15 bonus. That being said, if you are not in T15 Heroic Gear and/or you don’t have your T15 4 piece bonus – the item upgrades may be worth moving to right away, so keep that in mind and consider it as you make a gear plan for yourself.

T 16 4 Piece Bonus: This is a pretty powerful four piece bonus, and is something that you will want to try and pick up as soon as you can. It’s a very nice boost to Wild Growth, and give it something it sorely needs in today’s healing environment: the ability to offer a nice heal instantly

[Jina-Kang, Kindness of Chi-Ji] The Legendary Cloak - While not a set bonus, I do think that the cloak is worth mentioning. As a druid, this is going to be especially powerful given the nature of HoTs and the relationship that they have come to have with overhealing, especially in today’s healing environment. It is also worth noting that utilizing Wild Mushroom or Tranquility during a proc will be very effective. You will want to try to acquire your legendary cloak as soon as it’s feasible for you to do so.

Trinkets

Trinket iLevel Average Spirit Average Intellect MP5 Location Comments
[Prismatic Prison of Pride] 528/540/553/559/566/572 N/A 1620/18112/2045/2162/2308/2442 Based on Current Spirit + Stat Increase Sha of Pride Stat Increases are at: 6%/6%/7%/7%/8%/8%
[Nazgrim's Burnished Insignia] 528/540/553/559/566/572 N/A * N/A Nazgrim RPPM is .92. Multistrike.
[Thok's Acid-Grooved Tooth] 528/510/553/559/566/572 N/A 1620/18112/2045/2162/2308/2442 N/A Thock Cleave.
[Dysmorphic Samophlange of Discontinuity] 528/510/553/559/566/572 * 1552/1735/1959/2072/2211/2339 * Siegecrafter Blackfuse RPPM is .92.
[Stolen Relic of Zuldazar] 502/522/528/535/541 1218/1467/1552/1657/tbd n/a 686.95/827.39/875.33/934.55/tbd Primordius - Throne of Thunder RPPM 3
[Inscribed Bag of Hydra-Spawn] 502/522/528/535/541 1218/1467/1552/1657/tbd n/a 686.95/827.39/875.33/934.55/tbd Megaera - Throne of Thunder RPPM 1.13
[Lightning-Imbued Chalice] 502/522/528/535/541 N/A 1218/1467/1552/1657/tbd N/A Lei Shen - Throne of Thunder RPPM 6
[Horridon's Last Gasp] 502/522/528/535/541 N/A 1218/1467/1552/1657/tbd tbd Horridon - Throne of Thunder RPPM 1
[Soothing Talisman of the Shado-Pan Assault] 522 N/A 1467 828 Friendly - Shado-Pan Assualt  
[Spirits of the Sun] 483/496/509 1166/1316/1485 1021/1152/1300 652.90/736.85/831.57 Tsulong - Terrace of Endless Spring 15% proc chance, 105 sec ICD (confirmed)
[Qin-xi's Polarizing Seal] 476/489/502 956/1079/1218 1274/1450/1624 535.36/604.24/682.08 Mogu'shan Vaults Zone Drop 15% proc chance, 45 sec ICD (confirmed)
[Jade Courtesan Figurine] 489 899 1079 503.3 Trash Drop: Mogu'shan Vaults click to use, 15 sec. active time, 60 sec. CD
[Scroll of Revered Ancestors] 489 705 1079 395.08 Valor Points: Shado-Pan Revered click to use, 15 sec. active time, 60 sec. CD
[Relic of Chi Ji] 476 1345 1157 753.39 Darkmoon Card: Crane Deck 15% chance to proc, 45 sec ICD (confirm)
[Thousand-Year Pickled Egg] 470 N/A 904 N/A Coren Direbrew/Brewfest Haste Proc 5082, can only be obtained during Brewfest
[Vial of Ichorous Blood] 463 707 847 395.83 General Pa'valak - Siege of Niuzao Temple click to use, 2 min cooldown
[Price of Progress] 463 N/A 847 ~550 Darkmaster Gandling - Scholomance Healing Spells have a chance to grant 5082 (+100% of spell power) mana.
[Empty Fruit Barrel] 463 847 1129 474.32 Ook-Ook - Stormstout Brewery proc rate 15%, 30 sec. ICD (confirmed via beta logs)
[Zen Alchemist Stone] 450 300 (after reforging mastery) 1140 168 + Alchemy Bonus Crafted - Alchemist Only +18,000 mana with Potion of Focus, +12,000 mana with Master Mana Potion, 60 sec. ICD (?)
Note: I did not add any crit trinkets to this list, with the assumption that we will favor trinkets with some form of mana return in this first tier. The only exception is the Direbrew trinket, as it may be an easy "gimme" starter trinket.

Sometimes you simply want to activate a trinket on cooldown. Here's a macro you can stick into any of your spells to do so without spamming error messages or sounds:
/script UIErrorsFrame:UnregisterEvent("UI_ERROR_MESSAGE");
/console Sound_EnableSFX 0
/use [combat] 14
/console Sound_EnableSFX 1
/script UIErrorsFrame:RegisterEvent("UI_ERROR_MESSAGE");
(14 is the bottom trinket slot.)


Consumables, Gems, Enchants and Professions


Consumables


Something that is important to note with regards to food and flasks is that they do not have the same 1:2 benefit that gems share with regards to secondary stats. That means that the trade off is 1:1 for both of these forms of consumables; or put more simply you would be trading the same amount of a primary stat as you are a secondary stat for the trade. While the benefit of spirit consumables is a topic of debate, the general consensus (and the math!) is that it is not worth the trade off to utilize spirit consumables over intellect.

I have continued to include them in the guide for completeness purposes (and so I don't get a million notes telling me they've been forgotten!), but as a Resto Druid, you should generally always make use of intellect consumables.

Flasks
  • Flask of the Warm Sun will provide 1000 Intellect and will be your best flask for throughput.
  • Flask of Falling Leaves will provide 1000 Spirit and is an option for Regen, although a sub-optimal one and generally should not be utilized (i.e. you really are better off with an intellect flask!).

Food
  • Mogu Fish Stew will provide 300 Intellect and will be your best option for throughput. You can also utilize Braised Turtle.
  • Steamed Crab Surprise will provide 300 Spirit is an option for regen, although a sub-optimal one and generally should not be utilized (i.e. you really are better off with the intellect food!).
  • It should be noted that individual food will provide higher stats than feasts.

Potions

Gems


Meta Gems
  • Courageous Primal Diamond - The meta gem from the Black Prince Quest Line offers you the equivalent of three free rejuvenation casts during its proc. it's quite good and should be sought after as soon as you are able to obtain it.
  • Burning Primal Diamond - This will be the main throughput gem once you have found a comfortable level of regen from gear and are ready to move into more throughput. It will likely continue to be the main choice for meta gem for challenge modes.
  • Revitalizing Primal Diamond - This gem focuses on regen and becomes less valuable as regen increases from gear.
  • Ember Primal Diamond - This gem focuses on throughput and increased mana pools. However, the 2% mana increase is not as strong as the regen gained from the additional spirit in the Revitalizing gem. You should never use this gem if there is a Revitalizing Primal Diamond available for use.

Gems

It should be noted that, unlike in past expansions, socket bonuses are generally quite strong. This means that, outside of extraordinary circumstances, you will want to match your sockets for desirable bonuses. Once you reach T16 level of gear, you will want to start favoring secondary stats when gemming.
  • Brilliant Primordial Ruby - Will be an option as throughput gem, but it's worth taking a look at secondary stat and hybrid gems to see if they will offer more throughput in red sockets as gear increases before opting for this gem.
  • Sparkling River's Heart - As gear levels increase, this gem becomes less desirable. You will utilize hybrid gems to meet socket bonuses; and, as such, will not want to utilize straight spirit gems.
  • Fractured Sun's Radiance - Will be an option as a throughput gem at higher gear levels and can be used to fill yellow sockets.
  • Purified Imperial Amethyst - This is a hybrid throughput/regen gem. Use this gem to fill blue sockets with good set bonuses.
  • Zen Wild Jade - This is a hybrid throughput/regen gem. Use this gem to fill yellow or blue sockets with good socket bonuses.
  • Reckless Vermilion Onyx - This is a hybrid haste/throughput gem. Use it to meet haste breakpoints as needed. Favor yellow sockets, when possible, if using this gem.
  • Artful Vermilion Onyx - This is a hybrid mastery/intellect gem. Use in yellow sockets when haste or spirit aren't needed and there is a good socket bonus.
  • Energized Wild Jade - This is a hybrid haste/regen gem that can be utilized in assisting with reaching high haste breakpoints.
  • Quick Sun's Radiance - This is a haste gem that can be utilized in assisting with reaching high haste breakpoints.



Enchants


Excluding profession bonuses, you should use:

Professions


Aside from a few unusual ones, most professions provide roughly equal gains:
  • Alchemy: Mixology with Flask of the Warm Sun will give you 320 Intellect as well as double the duration of your flasks. Alternatively you can utilize Flask of Fallng Leaves which will provide an additional 480 Spirit, however this is a weaker option and is less desirable.
  • Leatherworking: 500 Int to bracers in place of the usual 180 Int, for a 320 increase to intellect.
  • Blacksmithing is similar. An extra socket each in your wrists and gloves, each with a Brilliant Primordial Ruby, gives 320 Intellect. Alternatively, you can socket them with two Sparkling River's Heart for a 640 spirit increase.
  • Enchanting: 160 Int to each ring gives 320 Intellect.
  • Inscription: 520 Int/100 Crit to shoulders in place of the standard shoulder enchanter gives 320 Intellect.
  • Jewelcrafting: 2 Brilliant Serpent's Eye in place of Brilliant Primordial Ruby gives 320 Intellect. Alternatively you can utilize two Sparkling Serpent's Eye in place of two Sparkling River's Heart for a 320 increase in spirit, however this is a weaker option and is less desirable.
  • Engineering Synapse Springs give an average value of 320 int (1920 Intellect for 10 seconds, with a 60 second cooldown).
    A macro similar to the one given above for trinkets can be used for glove tinkers--the glove slot is number 10.
  • Tailoring Lightweave Embroidery gives 2000 Int for 15 seconds, 20% proc on spellcast, 60 second cooldown. The average benefit is around 500 Int, minus the 180 Int you usually have on your cloak, for an increase of around 320. However, Darkglow Embroidery gives 3000 Spirit for 15 seconds, 20% proc on spellcast, 50 second cooldown. The average benefit is around 900 Spirit, however it becomes less desirable as gear levels increase.

The remaining professions are weaker:
  • Herbalism gives a haste cooldown via Lifeblood. At 2880 haste for 20s every 2 minutes, it averages out to 480 haste. Additionally, you can loot Water Spirit's.
  • Skinning gives 480 crit rating.
  • Mining provides 480 Stamina, but no healing gain.

Casting Mechanics


It's important to not waste time between casts. This is an easy way to lose quite a lot of healing over the course of a fight without realizing it. This section contains a bit of information that you should know about spell targeting, timing, haste, queueing, and the GCD.

Targeting


By default, a heal targets your target, if it exists and is friendly. Otherwise, if you have Auto Self Cast activated (Interface->Game->Combat), it will target yourself. If not, you will get the dreaded "blue hand" asking you to choose your target.

You can control targeting priority using macros. For example, if you want to heal your target's target if your target is hostile:
#showtooltip
/use [@target, help][@targettarget, help] Rejuvenation
Most healers use mouseover macros of some variety (either with Clique (see below), or with keyboard binds, or both). The basic form of a mouseover macro is this:
/use [@mouseover, help] Rejuvenation
You can any combination of click-casting and keybinds to heal effectively, so long as you don't use the "blue hand." But if you've never used mouseover functionality of any kind (either click-casting or mouseover keybinds), I recommend you try it at least for a while. Though some good healers stick with the "old fashioned" target-and-cast setup, that requires two inputs instead of one for each heal. You should try both before deciding.

Timing


You now have the option to have the client process events when you release the key or on your initial key press. Keep the option you choose in mind for learning your timing. It should be noted that, by default, this is set to cast on key down. If this is unsatisfactory, you can select your preference under Interface -> Combat.

When you send a spell command to the server, if your character is unable to cast immediately (typically because it's still casting or GCD-locked from your last spell), the server will see if you become ready to cast within a certain short window. If you do, it will begin the cast immediately. You can set the length of this window with an interface option called "Custom Latency Tolerance." You want to set this value to a high enough amount that you can always press the next spell key comfortably before the current spell finishes, and never have a gap between casts. But you don't want to set it too high, because you can't change your mind after you queue a spell, so your reaction time is effectively slower if you "lock in" each spell a long time before it begins casting. Experiment and find something you're comfortable with.

We spend a large portion of our time casting instants, so you want to get very comfortable with the rhythm of your GCD spark. If done perfectly, each GCD begins as the previous one ends, with no visible gap.

Our spells


This section is a summary of basic principles--detailed discussion of various healing techniques and spell usage will be largely be the focus of the discussion thread.

Rejuvenation: Though we have to manage our mana, and will not be able to sustain blanketing the raid, this spell is still central to our healing. It does very high amount of healing, is quite efficient, and it enables Swiftmend. Because it is a moderately expensive instant, it can burn your mana quickly if you start spamming it. But whenever you can cast a Rejuv that will not be mostly overheal, it is an excellent choice. In addition, you will often maintain Rejuvenation on a tank who's taking any significant amount of damage. In general, your "filler" healing is a mix of Nourish and Rejuv, based on your mana. It is also worth noting that your rejuvenation will now also instantly heal for the equivalent of one tick upon being cast.

Wild Growth: This remains an excellent spell all-around. It will automatically target the 5/6 lowest-HP people within range (not necessarily including the target). Because the radius is now so high (30y), you can often just cast it on anybody and get a good result. Make sure to cast it anytime an AoE effect hits some people in the raid. In heavy damage situations you'll use Wild Growth on cooldown. Even though it is expensive, it does more than enough healing to be worth it. Wild Growth is unusual in that in can be targeted on a hostile unit and will still apply to the lowest-HP raid members in range of that unit. Additionally, you will want to consider that if you opt for Soul of the Forest you can “prep” your Wild Growth to be more powerful by using the haste bonus from Soul of the Forest to add a nice healing boost. To do this, simply cast a Swiftmend and make sure that Wild Growth is the next spell that you cast. This will be very useful during times when the raid is experiencing heavy damage and needs to be topped up quickly.

Lifebloom: You want to keep this rolling on a tank at virtually all times. It is a strong, cheap HoT, has a very fast tick rate to help stabilize the tank. It is also helps to enable Omen of Clarity procs, so that you enter a clearcasting state. Try to get used to the timing of refreshing this on the last tick without breaking your casting rhythm, both with Lifebloom itself and with Nourish/HT/RG. With the increased duration of Lifebloom, you should always have an opportunity to refresh it in your healing rotation. Always have a Lifebloom stack on one person, even if there's no tank at the moment. Additionally, with [Glyph of Lifebloom] you can swap around your three stack for the cost of one GCD and utilize it as a quick ticking HoT for quick, emergency healing on another member of your raid, provided it's not needed on the tank at that time.

Nourish: The Druid's cheap heal. Nourish's healing per mana is now quite low, and your mana may be better spent filling time with extra Rejuvenations instead, when you can afford them, even if it means you have some down time in casting. Based on this there is almost no optimal time to utilize nourish where another spell will not better serve you.

Healing Touch: Has the same cast time as Nourish, but is less efficient and much larger. While a typical use was to top off a tank who needs a direct heal, glyphed Regrowth now does this quicker and more efficiently. As such, you will almost never cast Healing Touch in its current state. However, with the 2 T16 set bonus you will want to make use of HT with the procs. You will also likely want to revert back to pairing NS with HT again.

Combined with Nature's Swiftness (now on a one minute coolodwn), it provides an emergency instant heal which is somewhat stronger than Swiftmend. You'll usually use it with Swiftmend when you need two consecutive instant heals on someone. Macro for this:
/showtooltip Nature's Swiftness
/stopcasting
/use Nature's Swiftness
/use [@mouseover] Healing Touch
(You can replace the @mouseover with whatever target you like). Note that this will cast both spells at once if you're still, but you'll need to press the macro twice if you're moving.

Regrowth: The Druid's fast, inefficient direct heal. When people in the raid need immediate healing to avoid death, use this (also use Swiftmend if it's available). Whenever a Clearcast procs, you can more liberally throw a Regrowth on anyone in the raid who isn't topped off. With the [Glyph of Regrowth], Regrowth becomes a very powerful, fast, direct heal and will be your main direct heal. If you are utilizing the glyph, Regrowth has almost equal healing to Healing Touch, and will also plant a living seed on your target. As such, you may want to consider pairing it with Nature's Swiftness. You can utilize the macro above to achieve this - just replace "Regrowth" with "Healing Touch". Regrowth has another important use during Incarnation: Tree of Life, discussed below.


Swiftmend: A strong instant heal on a short cooldown. Swiftmend now has efflorescence baked into it as one of the base effects of the ability, so in addition to the instant heal, you will also provide AE healing to those 10 yards around the target. Additionally, if you are spec’d into Soul of the Forest, your Swiftmend will provide a haste boost to the next spell cast, and is very complimentary when used in concert with Wild Growth.
Swiftmend is one of our best spells. Always be vigilant for people at low HP on whom you might use this. It's great for helping stabilize a tank anytime you see them sit low for more than a GCD, or making sure any raid member is safe while your HoT's do their work. You can Swiftmend another Druid's HoT's, so you want your raid frames to show who's Swiftmendable. Using Swiftmend on cooldown also helps to ensure high Harmory uptime.

Glyph of Efflorescence: While this is not a spell, I do feel that it deserves a note of its own. This glyph will make Efflorescence a permanent spell as long as you have a Wild Mushroom active in the raid. Additionally, utilizing the glyph will allow you to decouple swiftmend from efflorescence, which effectively means that you no longer have to rely on swiftmend to place efflorescence and will be able to utilize the two abilities individually without any negative consequence.


Clearcasting: Not a spell, but deserves an entry. Clearcasting lasts 15 seconds and can only apply to the expensive spells Regrowth and Healing Touch, so it's difficult to waste. When Clearcasting procs, you simply have to make sure to cast a Regrowth in the next few seconds. A Regrwoth should generally be your first thought--based in its current place in the Druid toolkit. The tank is a good target; and regrowth on him for a free heal and LB/Harmony refresh is never a bad option. If, however, people in the raid are in need of a quick heal, a Clearcast is a good chance to throw a Regrowth on them as well. Clearcasting has a 4% chance to proc.

Incarnation: Tree of Life: In addition to the 15% healing bonus, this has a few effects on our healing spells:
  • Lifebloom: now castable on any number of targets. This is handy since Lifebloom does moderate healing and is very cheap. In a fight where you don't need Tree for other purposes, shifting to cast primarily Lifebloom for 30 seconds lets you use ToL as a very good mana cooldown.
  • Regrowth: now instant cast. Not a throughput gain since Regrowth is a 1.5 cast anyway, but this allows use while moving and also gives you much quicker reactive healing. Because of all the Lifeblooms you use during Tree of Life, you get a lot of Clearcasting procs from Malfurion's Gift, and can turn each one into a free instant Regrowth. The Regrowths even refresh the Lifeblooms.
    If many people in the raid need healing quickly, shifting to cast instant Regrowths can help hit people who need the most healing immediately. Similarly, it is also quite strong for tank healing in challenge modes during periods of quick, heavy tank damage. Be careful though, as this can be expensive. Still use a good amount of Lifebloom when people aren't in danger of death.
  • Wild Growth: now targets 2 extra people. Simply makes WG slightly better to use even than it ordinarily is.

As as final note, in my experience, I tend to use ToL form at fixed times each encounter (once I've seen the fight enough times to have a plan), rather than in much of a reactive way.

Soul of the Forest: Similar to Clearcasting, this is not an ability, but also deserves an entry. If you opt to take the Soul of the Forest talent, you will have the ability to add 100% haste to your next every time you cast Swiftmend. The bonus is multiplicative and will result in a flat increase and a multiplier to your existing haste value. This can be very powerful when used smartly. You will want to pair this with Wild Growth when able, but it can also be a very strong buffer to both Lifebloom (which has been fixed) and Rejuv when used on the tank. You will also want to be careful that you don't utilize a NS/HT or 2 T16 HT right after casting SM, so that you do not lose the benefits gained from Soul of the Forest.


Tranquility: This spell is very strong now, and outputs massive amounts of healing during its channeling time. Due to the new smart targeting mechanics, it's basically self-working. Can easily save people from dying if you mash it quickly when the raid takes a lot of damage. You can now use it 2-3 times per fight, so depending on the encounter, you might use it reactively when the raid is at low HP, or you might plan its use around certain boss abilities. The spell is now immune to pushback, so you no longer have to protect it with Barkskin. When Tranquility is cast in a 25 man setting it will heal 12 injured raid members. In a 10 man setting it will heal five injured raid members.


Wild Mushroom/Wild Mushroom:Bloom: You are able to place on mushrooms under a party member or on the ground (utilizing the glyph) and then "bloom" them to heal all allies within 10 yards of the mushrooms. Your rejuvenation overhealing with "charge" the mushroom, but to 33% of the Druid's total health. If you are required to move a mushroom, it will retain the "charge" that has been built up in the mushroom. The mushroom suffers from diminishing returns for everyone they hit beyond six people. You will need to determine when mushrooms will be a benefit to your healing, and when other options will be preferable.

To utilize mushrooms, it will be important to have both placement and bloom keybound to easier facilitate the mechanics required by the ability. You want to always have a mushroom active, so that you are gaining the benefits of the Glyph of Efflorescence - and will you want to bloom them at opportune times as damage patterns require. Because of the change to only require use of a single mushroom, it should be very easy to keep on active, even after having bloomed it. It should be noted that there is a 3 second cooldown between placing your mushroom and being able to bloom it, so you will want to try to plan out your blooms in advance, when possible.

Genesis Genesis is a new addition to our toolkit that targets all party or raid members within 60 yards and accelerates the casting Druid’s Rejuvenation effects, causing them to heal and expire at 400% of the normal rate. This will be a very powerful burst healing tool that will allow you to be able to cause your Rejuv to heal their targets more quickly. You will want to find optimal times in an encounter where Genesis will be valuable and pre-plan utilizing it so that you can ensure that you have sufficient rejuvenations spread on the raid. It can also be utilized in an emergency, provided that you have sufficient rejuvenations on the raid to make it benefical. You will want to be careful to utilize Genesis smartly, so that you can maximize its usefulness without expending unnecessary mana when it is not required - as Genesis does not add healing, it simply accelerates it for an extra mana cost.

Living Seed:While this is not an ability it is worthy of a note, as Living Seed is now baseline for all resto druids. Every time you critically heal a target with a direct heal, you will plant a Living Seed on them that will stack up to 50% of the casting druid's health and heal when triggered. Living seed will not trigger if the target is at full health. Swiftmend, Nourish, Healing Touch and Regrowth can all plant a Living Seed.

Rebirth: This will allow for an in combat resurrection of an ally. The most important issue is to avoid wasting it, especially now that the raid can only use a limited number per attempt (3 in 25-man, 1 in 10-man). First, make sure to coordinate with other Druids/DK's/Warlocks in your raid using macros or Vent so two of you don't cast on the same target. Second, people love to accept the resurrection as soon as it appears and die to something immediately. It can be good to warn them if it's a bad time to accept.
Here's a macro that casts Revive instead of Rebirth if you're out of combat, and also alerts your raid if Rebirth is used:
#showtooltip
/use [nocombat] Revive
/stopmacro [nocombat]
/use Rebirth
/ra Rebirth on %t
Innervate: In general, you will cast this on yourself on cooldown. Use the first one in any encounter after you dip slightly below 80% mana, and then on cooldown after that. Innervate is extremely weak when cast on targets other than yourself, and this is rarely going to be worth doing. It should be noted that the mana return from Innervate is now based on the casting druid's spirit - as such you will require 12,000 spirit to have an equal return on Innervate as you did prior to 5.4. Any additional spirit past that point will result in a larger innervate relative to the amount of spirit that you have.

Nature's Cure: On an 8 second cooldown, this will remove poison, magic and curses. It will be important to prioritize cleanses in order to make sure the most imported debuffs and/or the most important people are cleansed first. It will likely also be important to work with your healing team to organize cleanses on any encounter where the need to cleanse multiple people exists.

Barkskin: Remember that this doesn't use the GCD, so you can cast it almost anytime without disrupting your healing. It should be on an easily-accessible bind, and you should make it second nature to hit this instantly when you foresee a threatening amount of damage coming.

Iron Bark: Castable on a friendly target, it will reduce 20% of all incoming damage. It has a one minute cooldown, and should be coordinated with the other healers on your healing team and treated as a tanking/raid cooldown. However, with such a short cooldown, you should not hesitate to utilize the ability freely across your group/raid as it is needed.

Symbiosis: Creates a link with another member of your party or raid that gives you one of their abilities, and provides your ally one of your abilities. The strongest abilities for you will most often be the extra survivability abilities offered, however it will likely be determined by your raid team where they would like Symbiosis for maximum benefit to the raid. Additionally, keep in mind that certain encounters may have mechanics that can favor a specific symbiosis set up.

You can find the abilities gained and the abilities given in the charts below. It should be noted that some of the abilities gained are modified versions of the original and may not contain all aspects of the original ability.

Abilities Gained
Class Restoration
Death Knight
Icebound Fortitude
Hunter
Deterrence
Mage
Ice Block
Monk
Fortifying Brew
Paladin
Cleanse
Priest
Leap of Faith
Rogue
Evasion
Shaman
Spiritwalker's Grace
Warlock
Demonic Circle: Teleport
Warrior
Intimidating Roar


UI


I'm not going to say too much about UI; it's largely a personal issue. The only major point specific to Resto Druids is that we can move continuously while casting many of our normal spells. You want to have a control setup that allows you to be proficient at moving and casting independently--experienced Druids get very comfortable doing this. But it's a matter of practice more than anything else.

You need some kind of raid frames. Grid, Vuhdo, Healbot, and Shadowed are all in use currently. You can find all of them at typical addon sites. Choosing between them is up to you. Whichever you use, you want to have it set up to show you at least the following:
  • Each raid member's HP (including pets)
  • Which of your HoT's are on which targets (particularly Rejuvenation)
  • Their durations
  • Which raid members are in range
  • Which targets are Swiftmendable
  • Debuffs you can remove (Curses/Magic/Poison)
  • Customizable debuffs for important boss abilities
  • Which players are being targeted by mobs
  • Which players have incoming heals from other healers
  • Notifications for when a player is resurrected, offline, or has the Spirit of Redemption buff (all important to make sure you use Rebirths wisely).

A few other UI tips specific to Resto Druids:
  • Since we use instants so much, you want to have some kind of prominent indicator for your GCD. The Quartz (below) GCD spark can be put anywhere; right next to your raid frames is a good option.
  • Now that you usually only have Lifebloom on one target, it's good to have a timer somewhere outside your frames. I keep one just above my raid frames by my casting bar, so I can see when I need to refresh by looking in one prominent place, regardless of whom it's on. I also have an aura set up to notify me if, for whatever reason, I’ve let Lifebloom drop.
  • A UI tip that applies to anyone, but is too important to omit. In whatever buff mod you use (e.g. Raven, Power Auras, Weak Auras, Tell Me When, etc.), make a central and very large buff indicator (i.e. a substantial portion of your screen), that contains only those critical boss debuffs that require immediate reaction to prevent a death or wipe. The goal is to grab your attention and make it impossible to not notice immediately when you get one of these debuffs, no matter where on the screen you're looking. People who do this are far less likely to be the one who wipes the raid because they had tunnel vision, and that is more important than any amount of healing technique.

Clique: If your raid frames don't inherently support click-casting (Grid, for example), this is a simple, popular mod for setting it up.

Quartz: as a primary caster, you should have a proper cast bar. This is an excellent one.

Weak Auras


Weak Auras is a powerful tool that you can adapt to create auras and notifications to alert you to important events, either with your character or in a given encounter. While they certainly are not necessary, learning Weak Auras and utilizing them will help to allow you to monitor important things while healing. Below are some basic auras for Resto Druids. You can use them as they are, or modify them to better fit your needs.

Nature's Vigil
Nature's Vigil - Active Time
Wild Growth
Swiftmend
Soul of the Forest
Nature's Swiftness
Wild Mushroom: Bloom
Mushroom Charges
Lifebloom Missing
Lifebloom Active
Iron Bark
Innervate
Incarnation: Tree of Life
Harmony Missing
Harmony Active
Clearcasting
Low Mana Warning
Legendary Meta Proc
Mana Tide
Berserking
Trinket - Soothing Talisman of the Shado-Pan Assault


Authors Note and Thanks


The foundation of this guide came from Hamlet's work during Cataclysm. While he is no longer as active in the game, he has left a lasting memory on many of us with his mathematical prowess and knowledge of the class. We would not have many of the resources we have today without his hard work and I thank him for his contributions to the community. In addition I would also like to thank both Binkenstein, for his work on the haste breakpoints for all healers and Kjeldorian, for his work on optimal use of Soul of the Forest.

I would also like to note that I am not Hamlet. This guide is a work in progress. It can, and will, evolve with the knowledge that comes out of the Mists. I am not infallible, I make errors (and have probably done some math wrong somewhere already!) and I am sure that the initial thoughts we have now will change as we move further into the expansion and have more hands on experience with the content. I am happy to make any changes necessary, entertain healthy conversation about the class as we move forward, and update the guide as needed from the resultant conversations. In return, I kindly ask that you are respectful in all feedback offered. If you notice an error, please feel free to post it below or PM me, and I will correct it as soon as possible.

May your leaves flourish in the fresh breezes bringing us to Pandaria!

Click here to view the guide

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[Guardian] Mists of Pandaria 5.4

Oct 01 2013 06:14 AM | ArielleEJ in Druid


 

Contents

Introduction


Hello Guardians!

I present to you the Mists of Pandaria Guardian Guide!

It's important to remember that this guide isn't meant to teach you how to tank per se. It is meant to inform and empower you to be the best Guardian you can be. That being said there are some very important basic tanking skills that will directly affect your "mileage" as it were. Instead of rehashing all of that content here, I'll just provide links to the relevant sources.

Of course if you're already an experienced tank and are just looking for a consolidated source of information, then this guide is still for you.

As always the information in this guide is based on various sources, but mostly mine. Special thanks to Fasc, Tangedyn, and Hinalover for assisting with the base formulae back in 5.0. Extra thanks to Hamlet and Theck for helping with crazy stuff like approximating RPPM trinkets. Extra special thanks to Buraan for being what amounts to a guinea pig. Thanks also to the many forumites here at TiB for constantly providing questions and information about Guardians in any form of content.

I would like to give a special thanks to Reesi and Lissanna for the guidance they've given me over the past several years. I've learned a lot from them, and I hope I'll be able to use this knowledge to write a guide that people can use to improve their play.

Important Note:


This guide is essentially a copy&paste of the original guide from The Inconspicuous Bear. As such this iteration of the guide is not yet fully suited to an EJ audience, nor will it be immediately be updated with new information since TiB always comes first.

Game Mechanics


Guardian Specialization


Druids gain a 4th specialization with the launch of Mists of Pandaria. The new specialization Guardian will be the Druid's dedicated tanking specialization. This comes complete with Guardian-only abilities, tier sets, and a new Mastery. Please make sure you are using the correct specialization before you go and try to tank anything! ^.^

Vengeance


Vengeance is the attack power buff that is granted to tanks when they take damage in PvE content. Previously you would gain 10% of the melee damage taken as Attack Power up to a cap of (10% Base Health + Buffed Stamina). In Mists of Pandaria the way Vengeance is gained and lost has changed to scale with the content you are doing.

The new formula is as follows:

0.015 * UnmitigatedDamage + OldVengeance * OldVengeanceSecondsRemaining / 20

Whenever you take damage, you gain 1.5% of that unmitigated damage as Attack Power. This Attack Power then decays over time, losing 5% of its value every second as long as you are taking damage. If you dodge a melee attack you will still gain Vengeance as if it had actually hit you. Note that this does not apply to "special attacks" that can also be dodged (Garalon's cleave for example). Blizzard has stated that all sources of damage that are directed at the player now contribute to Vengeance instead of just melee attacks. So things like magical damage, bleeds, and special attacks will also now grant Vengeance. However this does not include environmental effects like fire on the ground. This means it is no longer advantageous to "stand in bad" during an encounter.

Vengeance caps at your maximum health, this has no actual affect on gameplay since if it gets that high in a normal situation you're going to be dead anyway. The decay rate will still even out relative to the incoming damage to give you a somewhat constant level of Vengeance. When something hits you the game will attempt to "bump" you up to what it thinks is 50% of the max based on the damage you just received. Special attacks not included in the "floor" calculation, meaning you can't take an extremely large hit from a special attack to spike your Vengeance super high.

When you taunt a target that is currently attacking another tank, you will be given half of that tank's Vengeance. Further, in order to prevent that tank from instantly pulling off of you again all taunts temporarily grant the tank a 200% bonus Vengeance modifier for 4 seconds. This is in addition to the passive +700% bonus that you receive for just being a tank. Together, this means you will generate a total of 1400% threat (7*2) when you taunt a target.

Lastly, Vengeance has diminishing returns when tanking multiple targets. The formula for this diminishing returns is as follows:

The Nth strongest (based on pre-mitigation average auto attack DPS) mob that has hit you in the last 5 seconds grants 1/Nth of full vengeance with their attacks. N is recalculated on every hit taken.

Note that the DR does not affect Challenge Mode dungeons.

Rage


Rage is no longer generated from taking damage. Instead Guardians now generate Rage from landing attacks on our enemies. You will gain Rage from performing one of the following actions (Direct Generation):
  • Mangle generates 5 Rage when used (or 6.5 if you have the talent Soul of the Forest). Mangle has a 6 second cooldown.
  • Auto-Attacks generate ~10.85 Rage per attack that deals damage. Your base auto-attack speed is 2.5 seconds.
  • Enrage generates 20 Rage when used, and an additional 10 Rage over the next 10 seconds. Enrage has a 60 second cooldown.
  • Critical Strikes of either Mangle or Auto-Attack will generate 15 Rage (Mangle Critical Strikes will generate 19.5 additional Rage if you have the talent Soul of the Forest).
  • Shifting into Bear Form will set your Rage to 10.

Before going any further you should already be able to tell that the overwhelming bulk of our Rage Generation comes from Critical Strikes. Therefore our goal should be trying to maximize the number of those we get. The easiest way to do this is to simply stack Critical Strike Rating. Not only is that an awesome stat by itself, but while in Bear form we get an extra 50% Critical Strike Rating. This makes Critical Strike the single best Rage Generation statistic to stack.

Using one of the following abilities will allow you to use something that generates Rage (Indirect Generation):
  • Incarnation sets cooldown on any offensive Bear ability to 1.5 seconds for 30 seconds. This includes Mangle, meaning you can press Mangle every global cooldown to generate the maximum amount of Rage. Incarnation has a 3 minute cooldown.
  • Berserk removes the cooldown on Mangle and causes it to strike up to 2 extra targets for 10 seconds. Berserk has a 3 minute cooldown. It should be noted that the extra targets struck are not causing any Rage to be generated on regular hits. However critical hits on the extra targets will generate 15 (or 19.5) Rage. Whether this is intended or not is unknown.
  • Landing a hit with Lacerate, Thrash, or FFF has a 25% chance to reset the cooldown on Mangle.
  • Temporary buffs such as Heroism/Bloodlust or Trinket Procs can also indirectly increase Rage Generation by increasing Haste, Critical Strike, Agility, Hit, or Expertise. Although I don’t recall the last time I saw a temporary Hit or Expertise proc/buff.

You can probably tell that the most common of these either reset or completely remove the cooldown on Mangle. While this also increases our DPS, both Incarnation and Berserk should primarily be held in reserve as Rage cooldowns unless you know exactly when you need to have them available.

RPS Targets


Below you will find a link to a spreadsheet describing how much Rage you need to be able to generate to maintain 100% Savage Defense uptime for a given tank interval. These intervals range from 12-42 seconds. You seldom see a swap interval shorter than 7 seconds, which has the same RPS requirements as if it was 12. On the other end of the spectrum 42 seconds is the maximum amount of time you can keep Savage Defense up before you start to lose uptime to the recharge rate of 9 seconds. Anything higher than 42 seconds is simply 6.66666~ RPS (60 Rage / 9 Seconds).

The second column denotes the amount of Rage you could potentially bank in a given interval while not Tanking. Essentially the assumption is that you will bank at minimum 60 Rage, otherwise you're just doing it wrong.

The third column expresses how much RPS you need to be capable of generating to bank the desired amount of Rage within the time allotted. Since time spent "banking" actually starts right after you hit the last Savage Defense, the total time available is actually Interval + 6.

The fourth column describes how much RPS is needed to generate the Rage required to maintain 100% Savage Defense uptime for the duration of the tanking interval. First you determine the number of 6 second "sections" there are in a given interval and subtract 1 since any Rage generated during the last "section" is actually "banked". Then subtract the amount of Rage "banked" from the amount of Rage needed. Since the amount of Rage needed is a fixed number based on the length of the interval (60, 120, 180, etc.) this is pretty easy to find. Finally, divide the amount of Rage required by the amount of time you have to generate it and you end up with the RPS required to meet that goal.

The last column is simply the amount of time you need in order to "bank" the desired amount of Rage, based on the RPS required to maintain Savage Defense at 100% uptime (column 4). Again this is another interesting number to note, as you will see that the higher your RPS is, the lower the amount of time you need to spend "banking" it.

It should be noted that for the purposes of these calculations it is assumed you do not shift into Bear form at all - and thus do not trigger the extra 10 Rage from shifting. You almost never want to shift out of Bear form anyway unless absolutely required, in order to keep applying Tooth and Claw to reduce the damage taken by your co-tank.

In any case, if you wish to download the spreadsheet and play with it yourself, you can find it here.

Tooth and Claw


One thing to note is that the addition of Tooth and Claw the RPS target for any given interval is increased from anywhere betwee 3 and 5 RPS. This value depends on your haste since the proc rate is a flat 40%. With 0% haste you have a 87.04% chance (1 - (0.6^4)) every 10 seconds you are auto-attacking a mob (4 swings) assuming you are both Hit and Expertise capped. Since Maul costs 30 Rage that turns into an additional 3 RPS required. Once you get up to 20% haste this additional target goes up to 3.75 RPS, and so on.

Suppressions


Something that previously hasn't been very well understood by most players is the concept of suppressions. That is if you're attacking (or if something is attacking you) and there is a level difference the higher level character (or mob) has an advantage in combat. These are the stats that are affected by suppressions:
  • Miss: For every 1 level difference, the chance the higher level combatant's attacks will miss their target is reduced by 1.5%. Additionally the chance the lower level combatant's attacks will miss their target is increased by 1.5%. This effectively means that a boss mob will never "miss" you.
  • Dodge: For every 1 level difference, the chance the higher level combatant's attacks will be dodged is reduced by 1.5%. Similarly the chance the lower level combatant's attacks will be dodged is increased by 1.5%.
  • Parry: For every 1 level difference, the chance the higher level combatant's attacks will be parried is reduced by 1.5%. Similarly the chance the lower level combatant's attacks will be parried is increased by 1.5%.
  • Critical Strike: For every 1 level difference, the chance the higher level combatant's attacks will score a critical strike is increased by 1%. Similarly the chance the lower level combatant's attacks will score a critical strike is reduced by 1%. Tanks don't have to worry about being hit by critical strikes since all of them have a talent that reduces the chance of this happening to 0 against a boss level mob.
  • Armor: The physical damage reduction provided by the armor of the lower level combatant decreases as the level of the higher level combatant increases. To find out what kind of damage reduction you receive, use this simple formula: DamageReduction = TargetArmor / (TargetArmor + 4037.5*AttackerLevel – 317117.5).

Weapon Damage


Something that might seem relatively minor at first, but is actually pretty significant. All base weapon damage has been doubled. This has a cascading effect onto those abilities that scale from weapon damage such as [spell]33878[/spell]. As a result, you will see nerfs to these abilities. Just remember that while the actual percentage on the ability has gone down the actual damage dealt has gone up significantly.

Primary Stats


The only two primary stats of consequence are Agility and Stamina. You will never actively seek out Strength or Intellect gear. The only exception to this is an Intellect weapon for use with the new talent Heart of the Wild. However I'll cover that later.

Agility


Agility has historically been the character statistic that you seek out above all others for most of Cataclysm. However Agility will no longer significantly directly affect a mitigation ability like it did with the Cataclysm version of Savage Defense. While Frenzied Regeneration still scales off of Attack Power, it will not gain a substantial direct benefit from Agility. Agility has the following effects at level 90:
  • 951.158596 Agility = 1% Dodge before diminishing returns
  • 1259.51806640625 Agility = 1% Melee Critical Strike chance
  • 1 Agility = 2 Attack Power, 2.31 Buffed (2.4486 with Heart of the Wild)

Stamina


As previously mentioned your Vengeance cap will be directly influenced by your Stamina. However you will be dead if you reach that cap anyway, so it's not relevant to worry about. Stamina still continues to be the single best statistic to obtain for increasing your survival. Stamina does the following:
  • 1 Stamina = 14 HP, 19.404 Buffed in Bear Form (20.56824 with Heart of the Wild)
  • Increases the minimum amount Frenzied Regeneration will heal by 2.5 per point

Secondary Stats


The big change in Secondary Stats since Cataclysm is that Haste is no longer worth almost nothing. One of the biggest changes in Mists of Pandaria is that there will now be 50% more secondary stats on gems, but more on this later.

Dodge


Dodge's purpose as a secondary stat has remained completely unchanged. However the amount of Dodge gained per point of rating has decreased - otherwise we'd approach absolutely insane numbers (well, even more insane than we already get) when Savage Defense is up. It still technically reduces more damage on average than Mastery - but only if that damage is on the combat table. However since "handling" damage via our new active mitigation tools is far more efficient, you should not be actively seeking out Dodge as a secondary stat.
  • 885 Dodge Rating = 1% Dodge before diminishing returns

Mastery


Along with a new specialization Guardians are also receiving a brand new Mastery called Nature's Guardian. The new Mastery grants an additional 2% armor per point of Mastery, with a base of 16% (8 * 0.02). This bonus acts as a final multiplier on all armor your character has. This means it also affects Bonus Armor which is defined by additional armor in green text on a few items. The most obvious example of this is a [Kiril, Fury of Beasts] which will actually grant you a minimum of 869 bonus armor instead of the 790 that appears on the item. Mastery grants less overall TDR than Dodge for damage that is on the combat table, but it also has the advantage of increasing physical EH for damage that doesn't penetrate armor.
  • 600 Mastery Rating = 1 Mastery = 2% Armor increase

Critical Strike


Instead of directly contributing to mitigation or survival as it did in Cataclysm, Critical Strike instead allows you to make more choices. This is accomplished by drastically increasing Rage generation through Primal Fury. Critical Strike grants on average more Rage generation than Hit/Expertise, however it does so in a similar manner to how Dodge vs Mastery works at preventing damage. In other words it provides more average Rage generation at the expense of making it more "spikey". A secondary effect is that the critical strike chance of spells - like Healing Touch - is also increased. For Rage generation purposes, melee Critical Strike has a soft cap of 76% against bosses which shows as 79% on your character sheet.

Additionally Bear Form increases the Critical Strike rating from items (including Elixirs) by 50%.
  • 600 Critical Strike Rating = 1% Critical Strike (Melee/Ranged/Spell)

Expertise


Expertise has been significantly reworked. In Cataclysm Expertise reduced the chance your melee attacks would be Dodged or Parried at the same time, up to a certain point labeled the "softcap". This is no longer the case. Expertise now reduces Dodge, and then Parry. Additionally while reducing the chance an enemy will Dodge your melee attacks, Expertise will also reduce the chance a damaging spell cast will miss a target. For Guardians this will only really affect FFF. Since Tooth and Claw only occurs when your auto-attack hits a target (including Blocks and Glancing blows) Expertise increases the chance you will receive a T&C proc on a given melee swing. Think of it like a 2-roll system.
  • The first 3 + Max(0, (1.5 * (Target Level - Your Level))) percentage points will reduce the chance your attacks will be dodged. It will also reduce the chance your offensive spell casts will miss.
  • The next 3 + Max(0, (1.5 * (Target Level - Your Level))) percentage points will reduce the chance your attacks will be parried.
  • 340 Expertise Rating = 1% Expertise

For reference the new caps are:
  • vs Level 90: 6% = 2040 Expertise Rating
  • vs Level 91: 9% = 3060 Expertise Rating
  • vs Level 92: 12% = 4080 Expertise Rating
  • vs Level 93: 15% = 5100 Expertise Rating

Like Critical Strike, Expertise doesn't directly contribute to mitigation or survival. Instead it provides more Rage for you to do with what you please. As previously mentioned it won't provide as much average Rage generation as Critical Strike, but it will provide more consistent generation.

Hit


The only change to Hit is the cap reduction. When attacking a boss level mob the Hit cap is now 7.5%, down from 8%. Otherwise Hit has identical functionality to Expertise, including Rating -> Percentage. For reference the new caps are:
  • vs Level 90: 3% = 1020 Hit Rating
  • vs Level 91: 4.5% = 1530 Hit Rating
  • vs Level 92: 6% = 2040 Hit Rating
  • vs Level 93: 7.5% = 2550 Hit Rating

Haste


Haste has three effects. First it increases how fast your auto attacks occur - thus increasing Rage generation and frequency of Tooth & Claw procs. Second it lowers the GCD on "spells". For Guardians this mostly just refers to FFF. This second part turns out to be a bit of a pain in the ass, because all of our melee abitilies are on a fixed 1.5s GCD. This can cause downtime in the rotation of fractions of a second. Guardians also receive a bonus 50% Haste Rating from gear just for being in Bear Form. 425 Haste Rating = 1% Haste. The third and final effect is to increase the chance some RPPM - or "Real Procs Per Minute" - effects will occur. Note that Haste does not affect all such procs in this manner, only some of them.

Abilities


These abilities have all changed in some way or another. This list will only include abilities that have significant mechanic changes, as a lot of the changes are purely numbers tweaking. If any ability changes are not mentioned here, they are likely to abilities that Guardians do not actually care about. As a rule if a utility ability (such as Stampeding Roar) requires a specific form, you will automatically be shifted into that form upon use. This affects almost everything in the Druid toolkit.
  • Mangle now deals 280% weapon damage and costs no Rage, but more importantly it generates 5 Rage when it hits. Mangle has a 6 second cooldown, however Lacerate, Thrash, and Faerie Fire all have a 25% chance to reset it.
  • Maul now deals 110% weapon damage, however it still costs 30 Rage. Maul has a 3 second cooldown. In Cataclysm and eras of unlimited Rage it was typically advantageous to macro Maul into all of your buttons. No longer. The only time you should be using Maul is when you aren't actively tanking something, to apply a Tooth and Claw proc, or your total Rage generation exceeds what you need to fully sustain your own healing.
  • Swipe now deals 247 + 22.48% AP in damage, and 20% extra to bleeding targets for no Rage cost. Swipe has a 3 second cooldown. A nice synergy with Thrash has been added. Since its damage is lower than that of FFF and it doesn't have a chance to reset Mangle you should never use it on a single target. Swipe is now AoE only.
  • Rebirth now resurrects your target with 60% health baseline, instead of 20%. This means the [Glyph of Rebirth] is no longer mandatory.
  • The cooldown on Skull Bash has been changed to 15 seconds Baseline, and no longer costs Rage.
  • Faerie Fire now deals 10 + 30.2% AP in damage, and grants 3 stacks of the new armor debuff Sunder Armor baseline. FFF has a 6 second cooldown (15 seconds glyphed). Since the debuff only lasts 30 seconds most tanks will be charged with its upkeep on the target. Also has a 25% chance to reset the cooldown on Mangle when used.
  • Savage Defense now costs 60 Rage and increases your chance to Dodge by 45% for 6 seconds. Has 3 charges that regenerate at a rate of 1 charge every 9 seconds. If you expend more than one charge within 6 seconds the durations are additive. This will be your primary "Active Mitigation" ability.
  • Thrash now deals 19.1% AP in damage on the initial hit, and 14.1% AP in damage every 2 seconds for 16 seconds. Thrash has a 6 second cooldown. Causes the Weakened Blows debuff which reduces physical damage dealt by 10%. This debuff lasts 30 seconds. Also has a 25% chance to reset the cooldown on Mangle when it hits a target. This only happens once per use, not once per target hit.
  • Lacerate now deals 61.6% AP in damage, and an additional 5.12% AP in damage every 3 seconds for 15 seconds. The DoT damage stacks up to 3 times. Lacerate has a 3 second cooldown. Lacerate has a 25% chance to reset the cooldown on Mangle when it hits a target.
  • Bear Form now increases the Critical Strike Rating and Haste Rating gained from items by 50% in addition to previous effects. The Stamina modifier has also been changed to 40%.
  • Frenzied Regeneration now costs up to 60 Rage and heals you for max(2.2*(AP-Agi*2), Sta*2.5). If less than 60 Rage is consumed, you will be healed for an amount proportional to the maximum. This is the ability you use to handle damage that is not on the combat table (Magic, Bleeds, etc.). No longer increases your maximum health.
  • Bash is now a talent.
  • Feral Charge has been renamed Wild Charge and is now a talent.
  • Shapeshifting now also removes roots in addition to snares.
  • The critical strike reduction on Thick Hide now applies to all attacks. This is a PvP only change.
  • Barkskin now has a 30 second cooldown.

While not nearly as big as either of the two previous lists Guardians (and Druids in general) have gained a few new abilities in 5.0.4.
  • Might of Ursoc increases your current and maximum health by 30% for 20 seconds. The extra health is lost when the effect ends, but your current health is not reduced.
  • Bear Hug stuns the target and deals 10% of the Druid's health in damage every second for 3 seconds. The Druid is immobilized for the duration. You can still dodge while using Bear Hug, but it still deals a lot less damage than anything else you could be pressing while tanking. Still great for soloing.
  • Symbiosis is the new spell Druids learn at level 87. More info on this below.
  • Tooth and Claw is a new ability granted to Guardians at level 32. Every melee auto-attack that hits a target has a 40% chance to grant this buff. It causes your next Maul to reduce the physical auto-attack damage dealt by the target. This only affects the primary target if you are using the [Glyph of Maul].

Symbiosis


Symbiosis is our new level 87 spell. For a 6 second cast, the Druid essentially "bonds" with their target, granting them a new ability and gaining one from their target. The ability the target gains is determined by what class and specialization they are, and similarly the spell the Druid gains is determined by their targets class and the specialization of the Druid.

Like with any Druid, you don't particularly care what your target gets if you have the opportunity to gain something particularly awesome. In that vein, I don't really care what I give my target. As a tank I'm mostly concerned about getting something that will help me stay alive, or handle additional targets in some manner. The abilities we gain are listed below by the class they come from:
  • Death Knight: Bone Shield. This is easily the best option in terms of a damage reduction cooldown for a specific ability. The only problem is that this version of Bone Shield lacks the ICD on draining charges that the Death Knight version comes with. So save it for something Impale-esque.
  • Hunter: Frost Trap. This is amazing for kiting - if any situations like that come up (think Maloriak).
  • Mage: Frost Armor. I'm sorry, but this is absolute shit. Frost Trap is better in every concievable manner. Not only that, but with Infected Wounds and Faerie Swarm which are both better (by a 20% snare margin), there's no reason to ever take this.
  • Monk: Elusive Brew. This is by far the best option for simple damage reduction from things on the combat table. Ideally you would be able to swap between a Monk and a Death Knight based on the fight.
  • Paladin: Consecration. This is the 2nd best possible DPS ability. It functions exactly like the Paladin version in that it's totally fire-and-forget. It doesn't do that much damage to a single target, but it would be useful to plant down to pick up adds that spawn at a predetermined location.
  • Priest: Fear Ward. No. Just. No.
  • Rogue: Feint. This would be useful to reduce damage when you aren't actually tanking something. However if you are tanking something you will almost always have enough Vengeance to make Frenzied Regeneration a better choice for spending Rage.
  • Shaman: Lightning Shield. Easily the biggest DPS increase. The only downside is that it has the same problem that Thorns used to. However it does so much more damage than Consecration. It lasts for 10 minutes and has unlimited charges.
  • Warlock: Lifetap. The only possible use I can think for this is for trying to bank Rage for a tank swap when you have nothing to autoattack. But even in that situation I'd almost just take Elusive Brew or Bone Shield instead and use a cooldown for the swap itself. Honestly I'm just not a huge fan of this, but I bet someone could find a use somewhere.
  • Warrior: Spell Reflect. I can see this possibly being useful for Challenge Mode dungeons. But nothing else. Ever.

Of the options listed above, casting on a Monk or a Death Knight is the clear winner in terms of survivability or TDR. Shaman wins for pure DPS, followed by Paladin. Hunter provides great kiting utility. The rest of them have variable levels of uselessness.

Everything else is mostly just shit.

Talents and Glyphs


The new talent trees are divided into 6 "tiers". Supposedly they are supposed to represent different types of Druid abilities, but we find it's just much easier to name them according to the level at which you get them. Each tier has 3 talents to choose from. The tiers of talents become available at levels 15, 30, 45, 60, 75, and 90 respectively.

Level 15 - Movement

  • Feline Swiftness increases your movement speed by 15%. Stacks additively with other permanent movement speed increases, including boot enchants and Cat Form. Does not stack with temporary buffs like Dash or Stampeding Roar. Also no longer stacks with the movement speed bonus from the PvP set.
  • Displacer Beast teleports you forward 20 yards, activates Cat Form, and grants a 50% movement speed increase. 30 second cooldown.
  • Wild Charge has a different effect depending on what form you are in. Bear form charges you towards and enemy and roots them (current Bear charge), whereas in caster form you can leap to a nearby ally. 15 second cooldown.

The obvious loser here is Displacer Beast. Anything it does either Wild Charge or Feline Swiftness can do, and do better. The two remaining talents are chosen based on the encounter you're doing. I'd go with Feline Swiftness as the default, switching to Charge if you need it. Displacer Beast is exceptionally useful for instant burst movement, just remember that you lose all of your Vengeance when you use it.

Level 30 - Healing

  • Ysera's Gift Heals you for 5% of your max HP every 5 seconds. If you're already at full health, acts as a smart heal instead.
  • Renewal instantly heals you for 30% of your maximum health. 2 minute cooldown.
  • Cenarion Ward places a buff on your target that triggers a HoT effect every 2 seconds for 6 seconds the next time they take damage. 30 second cooldown.

Ysera's Gift offers incredible sustained throughput that can not only heal yourself, but injured members of your raid. Even though it lacks the direct control of Cenarion Ward, it's definitely a viable talent option. Cenarion Ward provides a hefty amount of throughput either on you or another raid member. However Renewal still synergizes very nicely with Might of Ursoc for an "OH SHIT" button, plus it's also off the GCD. All of these talents have their place, and it's up to you to decide what you want. Ysera's is by far the best talent for soloing, CW can be good in almost any content, and I'd definitely recommend Renewal for Challenge Modes or Proving Grounds.

Level 45 - Kiting

  • Faerie Swarm adds a 50% snare that lasts 15 seconds to FFF. Can affect multiple targets.
  • Mass Entanglement instantly root your target in place for 20 seconds. 30 second cooldown.
  • Typhoon knocks back targets up to 30 yards in front of the caster, dazing them for 6 seconds. 30 second cooldown. This now shares diminishing returns with other knockback effects in PvP.

Faerie Swarm allows you to permanently keep 2 targets slowed, making it incredibly useful for kiting. Typhoon is the talent that sees the most use in raid/dungeon content by a huge margin. Mass Entanglement has no target limit. It might be useful for Proving Grounds, but I'm not convinced.

Level 60 - Effectiveness

  • Soul of the Forest causes Mangle to generate an additional 30% Rage on hit. It also increases the damage by 15%.
  • Incarnation transforms you into an armored bear. While in this form all offensive abilities have their cooldowns reduced to 1.5 seconds for 30 seconds. 3 minute cooldown.
  • Force of Nature has 3 charges. Each charge summons a treant when expended. Each treant has 40% of your total health, 4x your armor, dynamically updates stats, and lasts for 15 seconds or until it perishes. The summoned treant cannot taunt boss level mobs. 20 second recharge.

Unfortunately since the minions summoned by Force of Nature can't actually taunt boss level mobs, that severely (and probably rightly so) limits their usefulness in a raid situation. Further they don't scale with weapon damage and will re-target if they lose aggro on their current target. Incarnation remains provides great burst Rage generation and DPS. On the other hand Soul of the Forest provides more consistent Rage generation over time, while giving you about the same amount of damage. Both talents are definitely viable options, and you can freely choose between them. I recommend SotF for new Guardians, and Incarnation for more advanced users or if there's a specific use for it. FoN is just mostly a waste of time.

Level 75 - Crowd Control

  • Disorienting Roar disorients all targets within 10 yards for 3 seconds. 30 second cooldown.
  • Ursol's Vortex creates a vortex that attempts to suck nearby enemies in. Enemies within 8 yards also have their movement speed reduced by 50%. Lasts 10 seconds. 1 minute cooldown.
  • Mighty Bash stuns a target for 5 seconds. 50 second cooldown.

Like T3 most of these talents have a negligible impact on most raid encounters. Vortex is great for Challenge Modes, and there are some encounters where having one of these talents can be beneficial.

Level 90 - Hybridity

  • Heart of the Wild grants you increased effectiveness when performing roles that you are not specialized for - for 45 seconds. Also grants you a permanent 6% Agility, Intellect, and Stamina. 6 minute cooldown.
  • Dream of Cenarius increases the critical chance of Mangle by 10%, and has a 40% chance to grant a 20 second buff whenever Mangle crits. This buff allows you to instantly cast Healing Touch or Rebirth while in Bear form. The Healing Touch will use AP/2 instead of SP, thus scaling with Vengeance.
  • Nature's Vigil causes your single target damage abilities to heal a nearby target for 25% of the damage done, and your single target healing abilities to damage a nearby target for 25% of the healing done. Also increases your healing and damage by 12%. 30 second duration, and 1.5 minute cooldown.

Dream of Cenarius easily provides the most constant healing of any of the talents, at the cost of a slight DPS (5-10%) loss because of the consumed GCDs. However since saving someone in your raid from certain death will almost always be more valuable than whatever DPS you lose, it's definitely worth it if you can manage the procs well. Remember to have a healing addon like Grid or Vuhdo set up if you want to maximize your effectiveness with this talent.

Nature's Vigil is definitely recommended as the "starter" talent of this tier. It provides pretty decent splash "smart" healing, and a small DPS increase. The biggest benefit is that it lines up nicely with both Berserk and Incarnation, allowing you to macro them together for maximum effectiveness.

Heart of the Wild is the top DPS and burst healing talent when you can make use of it, or if you need the extra Stamina (you won't for the most part). However you need to have a spellpower weapon to make the most out of using the healing and caster portions of the talent. Recommended for the most advanced users only.

Glyphs

Another pretty substantial change is in the Glyph system. Prime glyphs have been completely removed, leaving only major and minor glyphs. Even then these consist of mostly pretty wide open choices. Some of them you'll even find yourself switching on a fight-by-fight basis. I've listed all of the relevant Guardian glyphs below.

I'd consider glyphing [Glyph of Thorns] all of the time since it's a minor glyph that has the potential to be very beneficial on some encounters. [Glyph of Maul] is pretty useless so I'd avoid it unless you need the extra damage for some reason. [Glyph of Rebirth] is no longer mandatory but still a nice glyph to pick up. Honestly these are mostly an encounter-by-encounter decision. Some of these "new" glyphs will convert from existing ones, while others will have to be obtained brand-new from a scribe. For raid content you'll want to consider having [Glyph of Savage Roar] and [Glyph of Berserk] glyphed at almost all times. However you'll want to remember to shuffle glyphs in and out as you need them.

Pretend [Glyph of Frenzied Regeneration] doesn't exist. It's a trap glyph.

Gameplay


So now that we've covered all of the boring stuff we can get to the real question: What should you do when you actually go to play your Guardian in MoP?

Gear


There will be a separate thread for an actual pre-raid or T14 gear list going up sometime in the near future. However I can talk about the kinds of things you'll be looking for in your gear when levelling or running dungeons.
  • Item Level - Armor is by far the most powerful stat for Guardians in Mists of Pandaria. To the level of approxmiately twice whatever the next closest stat is. Since Armor is only influenced by item level, typically the highest level piece of gear that has armor will be your best choice. There are potential differences - say you're hit/exp capped and your higher level piece is hit/exp vs your crit/mastery piec - but those will be dealt with inside a gear list itself.
  • Rage Generation - Rage Generation stats are king regardless of the kind of content you're doing. Tanks value consistency above all else, and this definitely applies to Rage generation. While Crit and Haste will both provide more raw RPS, it won't be as consistent as if you cap both Hit and Expertise. For all Guardians I definitely recommend capping both Hit and Expertise and then devote extra points to Crit until you reach the softcap, then Haste.
  • Sockets - Gear with sockets wins over anything at an equal item level, as long as it doesn't have Mastery. There's been a change to gems that means secondary stat gems are worth 100% more than primary stats (50% more than Stamina). This means that gemming any secondary stat is going to be superior to gemming Agility. Gemming Stamina for EH is considered a last resort.

The best way to reforge is for consistent RPS:

Max DPS/Consistent RPS: Hit=Exp (to caps) > Crit (to softcap) > Haste > Mastery > Dodge

This setup will work well for any type of content. If you want suggestions for a specific encounter, check out TiB's Raiding and Dungeons forum.

Gems


As previously mentioned there's been a pretty significant shift in terms of how gems operate in Mists of Pandaria. Instead of primary and secondary stats both providing the same amount, secondary stats now provide an additional 100% value over primary stats (50% over Stamina) on gems. This means that a gem like Dodge, Mastery, or Crit is suddenly worth more than any kind of Agility gem. That's all well and good, but what does it really mean in terms of what you do?

The first thing to remember is that gems are far more costly and time consuming to replace than simple reforges. So you want to pick something that will last you for the long haul as opposed to an individual fight. That is unless you can afford to switch every encounter somehow.

Here are some general guidelines to follow in terms of gemming:
  • As with reforging, gem for consistent RPS.
  • If you find you need extra Stamina (pertinent only to Heroic level raiding), consider gemming for Stamina as an absolute last resort.

That being said, here's a quick and dirty list of what you should put in each colour socket:

For your Meta gem there are two options. If you're doing any kind of Heroic progression raiding I definitely recommend going with [Indomitable Primal Diamond]. At almost a 50% uptime, this gem is incredible for tanks. However you will definitely want to have a second helm with [Capacitive Primal Diamond] for when it's time for funsies, or you need an extra DPS boost.

Enchants


Enchanting follows pretty much the same philosophy as gemming with one exception. Always, always, always, always, always get a movement speed boot enchant. Always. There is no excuse for this. In any case, here's your list:

Legendary Cloaks


I thought I'd make a note about this here. There are two cloak options [Qian-Le, Courage of Niuzao] and [Fen-Yu, Fury of Xuen]. I generally recommend going for the "tanking" cloak primarily, because making up that missing 1000 Expertise is a huge pain in the ass. However feel free to pick up the DPS cloak as well. Use the same sort of logic as you would for the Meta gems. Use the tanking cloak for progession, and the DPS cloak for funsies or you need the extra DPS.

Professions


I wrote a blogpost about this previously. So instead of rehashing the entire thing I will introduce you to the wonders of copy&paste.
  • Blacksmithing: 2 extra gem sockets. This totals to 640 secondary stats (Crit, Dodge, etc.), 320 Agility, or 480 Stamina. Value increases with epic gems.
  • Herbalism: Lifeblood gives 2880 Haste Rating for 20 seconds. Lifeblood has a 2 minute cooldown. This averages around 480 Haste Rating - give or take depending on encounter length.
  • Skinning: Master of Anatomy grants 480 Critical Strike Rating.
  • Leatherworking: The Leatherworking only bracer enhancements grant an additional 330 Agility or 750 Stamina over the existing options.
  • Jewelcrafting: The special Jewelcrafter gems grant 320 Primary or Secondary Stats, or 480 Stamina.
  • Inscription: The Scriptionist (I made a word!) only shoulder enchant grants 320 Agility or 480 Stamina.
  • Enchanting: Ring enchants grant 320 Agility or 480 Stamina.
  • Alchemy: Since you will be using Armor + Crit or Mastery Elixirs, you will gain 480 Bonus Armor and 240 Mastery or Crit.
  • Engineering: Synapse Springs grant 2940 of your highest primary stat (Agility/Str/Int) for 10 seconds. This averages to 490 - give or take depending on the encounter. Phase Fingers currently grant 20520 Dodge Rating, but this appears to be a typo.
  • Mining: Toughness grants 480 Stamina.

Just from looking at the above, you can immediately see that Blacksmithing is by far the biggest contributor at 640 stats, adding even more when epic gems come out. After that Skinning, Engineering, and Alchemy all look to be so close that there's no real disadvantage to taking one over the other. The rest of the professions kind of lag behind.

So if you're a total min-maxing kind of a player, you will want Blacksmithing. After that you can pick whatever suits your needs the best. For the rest of the Guardians out there, it won't really matter what professions you pick, but I'd stay away from Herbalism.

Rotation / Ability Usage


I've written about this before, but I feel now is a good time for a quick recap. So what is the new ability "rotation"?
  • Single Target: Mangle > Lacerate > Thrash Maintenance > Faerie fire. The idea here is that you always press Mangle whenever it is available. The rest of your rotation is devoted to generating as many Mangles as possible, while maintaining your two debuffs - Weakened Blows and Sunder Armor. Since FFF does more damage than a simple impact hit of Thrash, you should use FFF whenever Thrash still has at least 6 seconds left and neither Mangle or Lacerate are available.
  • AoE: Mangle > Thrash > Swipe. Pretty simple. The big difference here is that you always press Thrash whenever it is up and Mangle isn't. It actually does more damage with its initial hit than Swipe does, even on a bleeding target. Use Swipe to fill in the gaps.

As for how you spend your Rage once you generated it....
  • Savage Defense increases your chance to Dodge by 45% for 6 seconds, costs 60 Rage. Savage Defense has 3 charges, and regenerates them at a rate of 1 charge per 9 seconds. This is your primary source of “Active Mitigation” against bosses.
  • Frenzied Regeneration heals you for up to max(2.2*(AP-Agi*2), Sta*2.5) for a cost of 60 Rage. If you do not have 60 rage all available Rage will be consumed and you will be healed for a relative percentage of the maximum amount. Frenzied Regeneration will be your way of handling damage that cannot be Dodged (Magic, Bleeds, etc.).
  • Maul deals 110% weapon damage and applies Tooth and Claw to your primary target when it is up. Costs 30 Rage. Despite the fact that there is now a mitigation component, it is still worse than both of your other mitigation oriented options. Use Maul when you are close to or at 100 Rage, Frenzied Regeneration would cause at least 50% overheal, and Savage Defense is not up. For new players I'd recommend ignoring this completely until you are comfortable with Savage Defense and Frenzied Regeneration.
  • Tooth and Claw has a 40% chance to proc from an auto-attack that hits a target. When applied the target will be debuffed and will deal max(0.88*(AP-Agi*2), Sta*2.5). This amount stacks with multiple applications, and only expires when an auto-attack by the target hits you. So it works very well with Savage Defense. Applied to the target by using Maul.

Consumables


Nowadays consumables only really come in three (3) varieties: Food, Elixirs/Flasks, and Potions. In Cataclysm it was pretty simple. GET ALL THE AGILITY - which made it very cheap for progression. Nowadays if you want to get the most out of your Guardian you will need ot invest a sizable amount more $$$.

Bearcatting


One of the more obvious casualties Guardians will notice is that our DPS in Cat form has dropped substantially. During bosses with prolonged tank swaps, feel free to dump excess Rage into Maul when you aren't tanking something. Just make sure you keep yourself alive with Frenzied Regeneration, and you bank 100 Rage when it's your turn to tank.

Addons


As some of you may or may not be aware, I recently took some time to redo my UI. I don't really recommend doing this in the middle of a progression raid tier, and it's definitely easiest during an expansion change. There are several different areas that as a Guardian you should focus on. I'll try to cover them individually and let you know what I've chosen for each particular need. Remember that as with any UI mod, the goal is to keep you focused on the action, instead of staring at the periphery of your screen to gather information.
  • Boss Timers: This one is kinda self explanitory - and probably everyone knows what it means by now. The point here is to provide information in a better way than what the game does (and Blizzard actually assumes you have one of these by the way). There are different varieties - I think the most common ones are Bigwigs and DBM - and it doesn't really matter which one you pick to be honest. Just pick one.
  • Unit Frames: Blizzard took a step in the right direction by allowing you to finally be able to move your character portraits in the default UI. However having a mod to give you that level of control (and so much more) is just better. I personally use Xperl because that's what I've had since ..... Vanilla? But there are tons of different ones. This isn't "required" per se, but will help you a lot.
  • Action Bar: Lets be honest, the default Blizzard action bar is shit. You can't move it, it takes up too much room, and they're in random places on the screen. Action Bar mods allow you to fix all of that. I use Bartender, but again there are different ones available.
  • Threat Mod: Blizzard doesn't actually have anything that allows you to track numerical threat values on a target. Get something that does that. Trust me. You'll want/need it for tank swaps in MoP. I use Omen, not sure what else there is.
  • Nameplate Mod: Again - what seems to be a common theme here - the Blizzard nameplates are shit. I only recently installed Tidyplates, and oh-my-god-it's-the-most-amazing-thing-ever. I'm not even kidding. Get it, or another nameplate mod with similar functionality. You won't regret it.
  • Cooldown Tracker / Auras: Again, the whole point is to keep your eyes on what you are doing, not staring at your action bars to figure out when you can use your abilities. The point of Auras or Cooldown Timers is to make that information readily available to you - so you don't have to go searching for it. Personally I use a combination of Droodfocus (essentially a collection of Auras tailored to Guardians and Ferals), and Forte Xorcist (I like their cooldown bar). However it's important to remember that the functionality of these bundled addons can be replicated in something like WeakAuras, which I know is also very popular. Regardless of what solution you go with, you should definitely have one.
  • Random Stuff: There are other little things I have to make other parts of the game easier to manage. I have a bag mod (Bagnon), a chat mod (Prat), a reforge calculator (ReforgeLite), and maps (Atlas). Obviously this section is pretty much pick and choose what you think would be cool.

For reference there is an existing thread where other users from the forums have been posting their WeakAuras scripts. If you have some to share, or are looking for one to solve your problem(s) go check out this thread - The Inconspicuous Bear Forums • View topic - [5.1] WeakAuras for Guardian.

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[Balance] Mists of Pandaria 5.4, Guide and Disc...

Sep 24 2012 12:44 AM | Hamlet in Druid

 

Contents

Introduction

This is a compendium of information on serious PvE (raiding and challenge modes) as a Balance Druid. It contains everything a beginner needs to achieve basic competence at DPS, as well more detailed discussion for people more interested in understanding the theory or more advanced play. The article is supplemented by the attached spreadsheet.

Anyone posting on the thread should have a good familiarity with the current state of Moonkin theory, either from this guide or from anywhere else. At the very least, do not ask questions that are directly answered in the guide; they will be infracted. It's good to be familiar with things that have been discussed on the thread as well, we start new thread each patch so they don't get too long. In particular, know what's been discussed on the last few pages before posting.

In addition, I tend to discuss any Druid research/theorycraft work I do on Twitter:
Jay (HamletEJ) on Twitter
And I upload videos of myself playing various boss encounters here (currently on hiatus from raiding, but have some challenge mode content here in MoP):
Arawethion's Channel

Some of my current WoW theorycraft goes on this blog:
Warcraft | It's Dangerous to Go Alone

Talents, Glyphs, Skills, and Race

Talents

Talents are very different from what they used to be before MoP. For the most part they provide utility-type benefits whose value is dependent on a particular situation. As such, there's no general-purpose correct set of talents, and very often choice of correct talents will depend on your understanding of a particular encounter. I expect much of the discussion on the thread will be about talent choice for specific purposes. For now, some general comments on each tier:

The talent list, for reference.

 

  • Level 15: Passive movement speed is a strong bonus in PvE. Displacer Beast's blink ability can be very useful as well, but requires a GCD afterwards to get back into Moonkin Form, so less attractive for Balance than it is for Resto.
  • Level 30: Ysera's Gift and Cenarion Ward are capable of similar amounts of healing, but Ysera's Gift doesn't require any GCD's or attention from you.
  • Level 45: This is entirely up to what version of crowd control is best suited to a particular situation.
  • Level 60: The first DPS talent. Force of Nature is the strongest single-target DPS talent and is very flexible in timing. It does not get stronger on multiple targets, however (it actually gets slightly weaker since the Treants can be confused when a target dies). Incarnation is also good, and is a strong choice when you need a controlled burst or want to multi-DoT or AoE heavily.
  • Level 75: Once again, 3 crowd control choices. All have potential applications in raids, with Bash and Roar in particular both giving added abilities to interrupt the casting of small mobs.
  • Level 90: The second DPS talent. Heart of the Wild outpaces Nature's Vigil for average DPS, and Nature's Vigil having only a 12% damage boost means it doesn't get too much better due to timer stacking. HotW also gives you a very strong raid cooldown in the form of HotW-Tranquility. Dream of Cenarius competes with HotW on paper, but it extends your Eclipse cycle and is heavily disrupted by movement.

 

Talent/Skill Details

  • Eclipse. The base Eclipse bonus is 15%, and the 15% from Total Eclipse stacks on top of that. The damage bonus is multiplicative. Spells provide Eclipse energy when they complete, and in a change from Cataclysm, the subsequent queued spell will now be correctly affected by entering/exiting Eclipse. If your Mastery rating changes during the Eclipse, the damage bonus changes dynamically.
  • Balance of Power: Your base Spirit is not included in the hit rating conversion, only bonus Spirit (green number in the tooltip).
  • Moonkin Form: The damage bonus is multiplicative. The spell haste buff does not stack with Wrath of Air Totem or with the Priest talent Improved Shadowform.
  • Owlkin Frenzy: This can proc from physical or magical damage, but many boss abilities which hit the player frequently do not proc it.
  • Force of Nature: The Treants spam this Wrath spell, and inherit your hit chance, crit chance, and haste. The Treants will attack whichever mob hates you the most. They have 90% reduction against AoE damage in PvE, allowing them to survive most boss abilities.
  • Sunfire: Identical to Moonfire in all respects except appearance and damage type.
  • Starfall: This will not fire stars when your character is stunned, and the buff will drop entirely if you shift into a Feral form. The worst use is against a single target, where you only get 10 stars. Against multiple targets, you will get 20 stars total. Each star checks your current spellpower at the time it is fired. Stars will only hit enemies that are aggroed onto a target or are under 100% HP.
  • Heart of the Wild: Stacks multiplicatively with Mark of the Wild and Astral Leather Specialization.

One miscellaneous point of mechanics that people should understand: DoT's read their spellpower, haste, and crit values, and any %damage buffs, at the moment they are cast. These do not update while the DoT is ticking. Target debuffs, however, do update dynamically.

Glyphs

Major Glyphs

Very slim pickings here. The only Major Glyph that affects our DPS is [Glyph of Guided Stars], which you can use if needed to avoid Starfall damage on meaningless targets. [Glyph of Rebirth] is useful in any raid situation, but not as critical now that the default Rebirth has been increased to 60% HP. Otherwise, use any Glyph that provides meaningful utility at a given fight. [Glyph of Stampeding Roar] and [Glyph of Stampede] have some minor all-purpose value.

Minor Glyphs

None of these add any DPS, so it's entirely up to personal taste.
Glyph of Grace is the only one that affects game mechanics, and could be of occasional benefit.

Race

Horde: Troll is best for DPS, since it gives Berserking and Beast Slaying. Tauren gives no DPS benefit.
Alliance: Worgen is best for DPS, since it gives 1% crit (Darkflight is also a nice perk). Night Elf gives no DPS benefit.

Symbiosis

To be clear on how Symbiosis works, when you cast it on a target:

  • Your Symbiosis button changes into a new spell based on the target's class and your spec.
  • Their Symbiosis button changes into a new spell based on their class and their spec.

Spells the Balance Druid can gain are:

Here is a handy chart of all spells the target gains.

Make sure to check the tooltips linked above for the Druid's acquired version of these spells, as they are not always the same as the native class's version.

None of the options add any DPS, so you should be making situation-specific utility choices. The best general-purposes options are Undying Resolve, Anti-Magic Shell, and Cloak of Shadows for personal survivability.

Gear

Stats

In roughly descending order of importance.

Intellect:
Intellect provides 1 spellpower and 0.00039% to crit per point. With Mark of the Wild, Heart of the Wild, and Astral Leather Specialization, it provides 1.169 spellpower and 0.00046% crit (2168 points per 1% crit, about 3.5 times weaker than 1 crit rating).

Spellpower:
Now that this only appears on weapons, the only relevance is that it ensures that higher-ilvl weapons are virtually always upgrades.

Hit/Spirit/Expertise:
340 hit/expertise rating gives 1% to hit with spells, up to the cap of 5100 rating (15%) against a level 93 target. 1 Spirit and 1 hit/expertise rating are identical for gear selection purposes (if you ever play Resto at all you probably want to gem Spirit). You always want to reforge so as to keep hit as close to the cap as possible. Remember that hit rating over the cap does nothing, so you need to reforge hit to other stats if you gear has more than this amount (see below).

Haste rating:
425 haste rating gives 1% spell haste. Haste is generally a strong stat until you reach 10296 rating, which causes your instant spells to hit the minimum 1 second GCD (with Moonkin Form and Nature's Grace).
Haste adds extra DoT ticks at certain points. Assuming the haste benefits of Moonkin Form and Nature's Grace, breakpoints occur at 5273, 10289, and 15318 (see WrathCalcs for more). With the 4-piece T14 bonus, they are instead at 3706, 8089, and 12517.
Haste also increases the proc frequency of some trinkets and enchants, through the RPPM system.

Critical strike rating:
600 crit rating gives 1% to crit. With a Burning or Revitalizing meta, crits do 2.06 times the damage of non-crits, otherwise 2.00 times. Crit and haste generally spreadsheet as very similar in value as long as haste is under the GCD cap. As crit rating gets very high, is value decays someone because the added Starsurge procs (much of the value of crit) are harder to use every time and are sometimes wasted.

Mastery rating:
320 mastery rating adds 1% to our Eclipse bonus, added to the 30% we have to start with. Generally our weakest secondary stat. However, in high T16 gear when your crit can your exceed mastery by 10000 rating or more, the sustained value of crit and mastery starts to become roughly equal. WrathCalcs can help you see when they equalize for you for purposes of sustained DPS. At that point the value of mastery in your opening burst (which is all done under Eclipse) can make it worth keeping some.

Stat Priority

The stat priority at the moment can be summarized as:
Int >> hit (to cap) > haste (to cap) => crit = excess hit (reforged to crit)* > mastery > half Int (gems) > haste (beyond cap)

*The "real" per-point value of hit rating is largely irrelevant, as you always gear/reforge so as to remain hit capped. Therefore the effective value of hit/Spirit/expertise on gear is equal to whatever stat you reforge in/out of to account for the excess hit (crit or haste)

Gems

Since gems are changed in MoP to have half as much Int as other stats, all colors of gems are nearly equal in value. As a result, always match colors in each socket. A far as the "second half" of each gem, haste and crit are very closely matched (or even crit and mastery at very high gear levels); you can check WrathCalcs for an exact comparison in your gear.

So for example, if you meet your hit and haste goals and want straight crit, you would gem:

*These slots are tricky. See the note above about the value of excess hit. For basic use, use whichever makes it more convenient to stay at hit cap, the Int or the hit/spirit/expertise version. Advanced players should choose based on whether the excess hit can actually be cashed into haste/crit rating through reforging.

Set Bonuses

Both of our tier 14 (Regalia of the Eternal Blossom) set bonuses are in the expected range, roughly 2% DPS. Use them when you have access to them.

The tier 15 (Regalia of the Haunted Forest) set bonuses are both upgrades over the T14 equivalents, so move to them as soon as you have the gear.

The tier 16 (Regalia of the Shattered Vale) set bonuses are both quite strong as well, so upgrade as usual. The only play note is that the substantial increase to Starsurge procs from 4T16 means you will likely transition to always using procs immediately, if you were not already.

Trinkets

Most trinkets can be evaluated based on their stats just like any other item, if you use the uptime on their proc/use to compute an average stat value. WrathCalcs can also help you evaluate trinkets.

In T16, the best trinket at each tier on a single target is [Purified Bindings of Immerseus], followed by [Kardris' Toxic Totem]. Anytime you are DPSing 3 or more clumped targets a large portion of the time, [Frenzied Crystal of Rage] is extremely good and should be used. Do not use [Prismatic Prison of Pride].

Unerring Vision

This trinket is highly unusual, requiring you to react immediately to its 4-second proc in order to get the proper value out of it. The moment it procs, drop whatever you were doing and recast both your DoTs on the current target (regardless of whether you're clipping or not). If you're lucky enough to have a timer such as Celestial Alignment available, make sure to press it before the DoTs for a huge DPS windfall. Once the DoTs are up, use as many of the ensuing Shooting Stars procs as possible during the 20 seconds or so that they last (and fill with normal nukes in between).

Because the procs are so rare (even at 50% total haste, expect one every 2 minutes) and require you to react within a GCD or two to get the benefit, you must have a UI alert using WeakAuras or a similar mod. The buff is Perfect Aim - Spell - World of Warcraft. Make sure you're not going to miss it anytime it fires.

Activated trinkets

Typically the best time to activate is with your DoT's. Not only does this ensure you get a set of buffed DoT's, but you often refresh DoT's at the beginning of Eclipse. Even better, if it's a 20 second buff (like many are), your 14-16 second DoT's should get a second set of refreshes during the trinket activation. So, macroing trinkets to a DoT is not a bad plan if you don't want to deal with them manually all the time.

Here's a macro you can stick into any spell (such as Moonfire) to activate a trinket without spamming error messages or sounds:

 

/script UIErrorsFrame:UnregisterEvent("UI_ERROR_MESSAGE");
/console Sound_EnableSFX 0
/use 14
/console Sound_EnableSFX 1
/script UIErrorsFrame:RegisterEvent("UI_ERROR_MESSAGE");
/use Moonfire

(14 is the bottom trinket slot, 13 is the top. Make sure to put these lines before the spell cast in your macro.)

 

Consumables

Use [Flask of the Warm Sun] and [Mogu Fish Stew] or similar Int buffs if you don't have access to those.
The best DPS potion is [Potion of the Jade Serpent]. You want to use it during Bloodlust. When you're trying to completely maximize your DPS, remember you can click a potion just before combat starts (ask your tank to count down), and then be able to use another potion later in the fight.

Enchants

Excluding profession bonuses.

Professions

Non-gathering professions are all very similar in value, giving a bonus with a benefit of roughly 320 Int. If you're picking fresh professions right now, it looks like Blacksmithing slightly edges out the others, and Jewelcrafting is slightly weaker. However, the differences are too small to be worth switching around existing professions.

Blacksmithing: An extra socket each in your wrists and gloves, each with a [Brilliant Primordial Ruby], gives 320 Intellect. However since another gem (such as [Smooth Sun's Radiance]) is even better, Blacksmithing can give somewhat more benefit than other professions.

Engineering: Synapse Springs give 1920 Int, for 10 seconds out of every 60, for 320 Int on average (varies slightly in practice). Has potential to slightly outdo other professions since you can time the use to be most efficient.
A macro similar to the one given above for trinkets can be used for glove tinkers--the glove slot is number 10.

Leatherworking: 500 Int to bracers in place of the usual 180 Int gives you 320 Intellect.
Alchemy: Mixology (with your [Flask of the Warm Sun]) will give you 320 Intellect.
Enchanting: 160 Int to each ring gives 320 Intellect.
Inscription: 520 Int/100 crit to shoulders in place of the usual is a gain of 320 Intellect.
Tailoring: Lightweave Embroidery gives 2000 Int for 15 seconds, 20% proc on damage, 60 second cooldown. The average benefit with perfect procs is around 500 Int, minus the 180 Int you usually have on your cloak, for an increase of around 320 Int. This is slightly reduced due to delay on the proc, but increased since you get a proc at the very beginning of the fight, so the end result is similar to other professions, but with a little variance.

Jewelcrafting: 2 [Brilliant Serpent's Eye] in place of 2 [Brilliant Primordial Ruby] gives 320 Intellect. However, since [Brilliant Primordial Ruby] may not be your best gem (see above), the gain is slightly less. In addition, Jewelcrafting may grow weaker when epic gems are introduced.

Gathering professions are weaker:
Herbalism now gives a haste cooldown via Lifeblood. At 2880 haste for 20s every 2 minutes, it averages out to 480 haste.
Skinning gives 480 crit rating.
Mining provides 480 stamina, but no DPS gain.

Gear Selection

General Principles

I'm not going to set out full BIS lists here, for a few different reasons. It's best for you to read this guide until you understand the class well enough to choose gear based on the things I've said above. But here's some overall advice to help provide some guidance.

Caster epics have Intellect, Stamina, spellpower in the case of weapons, and 2 out of the 4 secondary stats: crit rating, hit/Spirit, haste rating, mastery rating. Keep in mind a few rules of thumb, which are enough to get a quick estimate of the value of any piece:

  • Higher-ilvl gear is stronger. Intellect usually increases very regularly with ilvl, so we have a predictable gain.
  • More sockets are better, since the items have more stat points in total.
  • As far as secondary stats, gear so as to reach the hit cap and maximize crit and haste, without going past the GCD haste cap. Since meeting the hit cap is not difficult in current gear (if anything, having too much hit is the problem), crit/haste items are the most desirable, followed by any other crit items.

Since the 5% Intellect from Leather Specialization is a strong bonus, you should ignore cloth gear.

To compare items more precisely and check for upgrades, use WrathCalcs to test different setups. You can also use WrathCalcs to compute DPS weights for all your stats for guidance. Generally though, the above rules are sufficient to figure out which of two items is better. See below for more on WrathCalcs.

Casting Mechanics

The first rule of DPS is to always be casting (or waiting out a GCD after an instant). Anytime a spell ends, you should already have queued your next one (see below). Don't delay a cast to make a decision or react to proc--train yourself to start another spell regardless of what's going on, and change the subsequent spellcast if necessary after you've had another second to think.

As a preliminary note, this type of macro might be useful for automatically assisting with your nukes when you have a raid member targeted:

 

#showtooltip
/use [@target, harm, nodead][@targettarget, harm, nodead][] Starfire

 

Spell Queueing

First, there is an in-game option to decide whether keypresses activate on press or on release. Choose what you like and keep it in mind for learning your timing.

When you send a spell command to the server, if your character is unable to cast immediately (typically because it's still casting or GCD-locked from your last spell), the server will see if you become ready to cast within a certain short window. If you do, it will begin the cast immediately. You can set the length of this window with an interface option called "Custom Latency Tolerance." You want to set this value to a high enough amount that you can always press the next spell key comfortably before the current spell finishes, and never have a gap between casts. But you don't want to set it too high, because you can't change your mind after you queue a spell, so your reaction time is effectively slower if you "lock in" each spell a long time before it begins casting. Experiment and find something you're comfortable with.

Spell Rotations

The Short Version

  • Start by applying Sunfire and Moonfire, and casting Starsurge and Starfall. Whenever either DoT falls off the target, or Starsurge or Starfall comes off cooldown, recast it.
  • Cast Starfire until until a Solar (Wrath) Eclipse procs, then switch to Wrath. Cast Wrath until a Lunar (Starfire) Eclipse procs, then switch back to Starfire.
  • Repeat this Eclipse cycle, always keeping your two DoT's on the target and using Starsurge, and Starfall on cooldown.
  • Use Celestial Alignment whenever an Eclipse as just ended and it's off cooldown. Use DPS talents whenever they're available.

For more detail, continue to the following sections.

The Eclipse Rotation

You will generally operate in a four-step cycle.

  1. Pre-Lunar. Cast Wrath until the Eclipse buff appears (have some mod that will make it very obvious when you gain the buff).
  2. Lunar Eclipse. When you see the buff, finish casting your current Wrath and then cast Starfire for the duration of Eclipse.
  3. Pre-Solar. When Eclipse fades, continue casting Starfire until the Eclipse buff appears.
  4. Solar Eclipse. Cast Wrath for the duration. Continue casting when it ends to loop back around into step 1.

Basically, you cast Wrath until Lunar procs and cast Starfire until Solar procs. But once DoTs and other instants are involved, thinking in terms of the four-phase cycle helps you plan your casts well.

Note that unlike in the past, Starfire is somewhat stronger than Wrath, meaning you do more DPS in the Lunar half of the cycle.

Subtleties of Transitions

Unlike in Cataclysm, if you cast an instant immediately after the nuke that triggers Eclipse, the instant will be affected by Eclipse.

Solar: You want to watch for when your Solar energy is at 60 or higher, so that you know your current Starfire cast is your last one, and queue a Sunfire or other Solar spell.
Lunar: Wrath now, like Starfire, gives its energy on cast completion. If your Lunar energy as you start a Wrath is 70 or higher, queue Starfall for your next spell (even if it looks like it's on cooldown), followed by Moonfire or other Lunar spell.
Do your best to avoid casting extra spells beyond what's necessary to proc Eclipse.

If you use the mod Balance Power Tracker (below) things look slightly different. That mod can display a modified energy bar, which projects your energy value from currently casting spells, so all you have to do is check for when it reads 100. Remember that if you move or interrupt a cast though (or if your spell misses), your energy will appear to go back down.

Managing Eclipse

We now have the ability Astral Communion to set our energy to whatever value we like (multiples of 25) in advance of an encounter. As you attempt a particular fight more and more, you can sometimes plan out your Eclipses for certain AoE/movement phases. I'm not going to give a boss-by-boss guide here, but you should pay attention to the order of events in each fight and refine your routine. An important point is that you always delay an Eclipse by spamming Moonfire with Lunar Shower or casting the off-Eclipse nuke, so sometimes you can use that to control when you enter or leave Eclipse at various points in an encounter. At some encounters, planning out your Eclipses at specific points in the fight will be a major part of doing good DPS. Most commonly, when a fight has AoE phase, you will want to do whatever is necessary to make sure you're in Solar when that phase begins, by delaying Eclipses as necessary.

When the Eclipse arrow is neutral (after zoning in, logging in, or rezzing) and can go either way from 0, Astral Communion will take you towards Lunar.

There are two good options for a single-target opening burst:

  1. Start at 75 energy towards Lunar. Starfall before the pull, as you pre-pot, then Wrath once to start into Lunar. Use CA as that Lunar ends.
  2. Start in Solar. As before, Starfall, pre-pot, and start casting a Wrath as the boss is being pulled. CA immediately and then progress towards Lunar.

#1 is generally favored at low haste, #2 at high haste. In particular, use #2 when at the haste cap and getting Bloodlust at the start of the fight. The reason for this is that the 15-second CA Eclipse is much longer than a natural Eclipse when you're under that many haste effects, and you want to use it right away, under the effect of as many procs as possible.

Starsurge

 

At very high levels of crit/haste, it generally becomes better to ignore the below rules and instead use any Starsurge proc as soon as possible, in order to minimize the chance of a second proc overwriting your existing one.

In weaker gear, there is one major exception: do not cast Starsurge twice within the same Solar Eclipse. This will cause you to be at 0 energy (instead of 5 energy) after 6 total spells, ending Solar one cast early. It's fine (in fact, it's good) to cast a second Starsurge at 5 energy, as the final spell of Solar, if you have it available.

A more minor exception is that if you are close to a new Eclipse, saving Starsurge for Eclipse can be slightly better, as long as this does not increase the number of casts to reach Eclipse (i.e. if at 60 energy towards Lunar, cast the SS, to get into Lunar right away). If you're unsure, using Starsurge whenever it's up (subject to the above exception) is fine.

DoT Refreshing

DoT's are similarly strong as they were in Cataclysm. You want to do your best to maintain very high uptime on both of them (Sunfire has replaced Insect Swarm, but no change conceptually). Typically, the only time you will hold up recasting of a DoT is if it falls off and the corresponding Eclipse is coming up very soon and/or you don't have Nature's Grace--you'll wait one or two casts and refresh at the beginning of Eclipse. If both DoT's are coming up at around the same time when you start Eclipse, casting the non-Eclipse DoT first gives a very minor improvement due to Lunar Shower.

In practice, the duration of a DoT (around 14 or 16 seconds) is similar to the time it takes to get from one Eclipse to the next, so it's easy to work in a pattern where you recast both DoTs at the beginning of each Eclipse. If you are at all interrupted during Eclipse and your Eclipse DoT is close to falling off, you can refresh it (even clipping slightly) just before leaving Eclipse.

Remember that Cataclysm changed the way DoT refreshing works--when you refresh a currently ticking DoT, you no longer waste a partial tick. Significantly, if you refresh a DoT when it has only one tick remaining, there is no loss at all.

DoT ticks use your spellpower, haste, crit, and +% damage (e.g. Eclipse) values from the moment the DoT was cast--they do not update in real time until the next time you cast the DoT. Because the entire DoT is affected by your stats at the moment of cast, there can be detailed decisionmaking in when to apply them--see "Advanced Points" below for more.

Cooldowns

  • Starfall: Cast this as your first spell of Lunar Eclipse. Given the new cooldown refresh mechanism, there's very little reason to do anything else, unless there's an important set of multiple targets to hit with it later in the same cycle.
  • Celestial Alignment: Use this immediately after ending an Eclipse. It does not consume a GCD, so cast another spell immediately as it starts (macroing a Moonfire into CA seems reasonable). Typically you want to get Starfall and Moonfire going as soon as you start. You usually want to refresh Moonfire on every target just before CA falls off, especially if you also have Incarnation up.
  • Incarnation: You want to use this whenever you can have it affect an Eclipse and a Celestial Alignment immediately after. This means you should use Incarnation at the beginning of the Eclipse before you're planning to use CA. Since they're on the same cooldown, you should be able to do this throughout the fight.
  • Nature's Vigil: use this together with Incarnation and/or Celestial Alignment for best DPS. Between Incarnations, use it exactly on cooldown even if it doesn't line up well with Eclipse, so that it's ready for your next Incarnation or CA.
  • Force of Nature: keep using these often enough to never let them pool to 3 charges. The best time to drop them is when Tempus Repit (the meta gem proc) is active, so they'll have that buff for most of their life. If you know that a large buff like Bloodlust is coming, or a DPS burst requirement, you can save them for up to minute to get 3 charges.
  • Dream of Cenarius: Not technically a cooldown, but fits here. Sometime during each cycle (ideally, during Eclipse after casting your DoTs), cast one HT on any target. Remember to use NS once a minute (you can use an NS macro to do this automatically).

Utility Spells

These have a small portion of the guide, but don't be deceived--good use of them tends to be the hallmark of top players. But no advice I can give here is a substitute for awareness and familiarity with your class.

  • Nature's Swiftness: all Balance Druids have this now. Unless using DoC, remember to use it to speed up your Rebirth or throw an emergency heal when needed.
  • Typhoon, Mighty Bash, Disorienting Roar: remember that these can interrupt spellcasting of PvE targets.
  • Faerie Fire: We no longer need to use this unless the raid is missing an Armor debuff (Sunder Armor or Expose Armor). Note that while the Faerie Fire debuff itself lasts 5 minutes, the armor reduction must be refreshed every 30 seconds. Faerie Fire can be Glyphed to provide a silence, but this is often impractical due to the need to shift to Bear Form one GCD in advance of using it.
  • Innervate: This is not too powerful anymore, but try to give it to healer on cooldown unless DPS is so tight that you don't want to spare the GCD.
  • Rebirth: The most important issue is to avoid wasting it, especially now that the raid can only use a limited number per attempt (3 in 25-man, 1 in 10-man). People love to accept the resurrection as soon as it appears and die to something immediately. It can be good to warn them if it's a bad time to accept, and Glyph of Rebirth provides further insurance.
    Here's a macro that casts Revive instead of Rebirth if you're out of combat, and also alerts your raid if Rebirth is used:
    #showtooltip
    /use [nocombat] Revive
    /stopmacro [nocombat]
    /use Rebirth
    /ra Rebirth on %t
  • Tranquility: This spell does quite a large amount of healing due to our high spellpower (only slightly less than that of a Resto Druid). Don't forget to use it at some point during the fight when the raid has taken a lot of damage. If you have Heart of the Wild and are not using it for anything else, remember to pop it before starting Tranquility.
  • Dash, Might of Ursoc, Stampeding Roar: Now that these can be used without having to shift form or wait for resources, you should have them keybound and ready to use at any time. Might of Ursoc is least useful as it fades if you shift out of Bear, but it can be useful to pop it briefly if you're worried there's a good chance that a big attack might kill you.

Bloodlust/Heroism

Nothing significant will change during the rotation, except that DoTs become very good. Make sure to DoT any possible target as soon as Bloodlust starts, probably even clipping any existing DoTs at that point (use any timers here if possible, such as Berserking and your Potion, and especially Celestial Alignment). If you have a Nature's Grace near the beginning of Bloodlust, even better to spam DoTs with.

Movement

The basic solution to any movement situation is to try to get the most out of DoTs and Lunar Shower, and other instants. Cast Moonfire/Sunfire the instant movement begins (or even just before) to start stacking the buff, then spam it on the target while running. Use Shooting Stars when it procs. Planting Wild Mushrooms at the enemy's feet while moving take some practice but is worthwhile if there are multiple targets; remember that you can wait until your next Solar Eclipse to detonate them. Finally, if at all possible, you want to be in an Eclipse for movement, although you might often have little control over this.

For brief periods of movement, if you're not in Eclipse and/or NG, you may not want to overwrite a strong existing DoT with a weak DoT. In that case, try to find something else to do with the GCD (such as planting a WM).

It's important to manage our DoTs well during high-movement situations. You want to plan your casting so that you cast DoTs (or other instants) while moving, and nukes while standing still. This requires you to be highly aware of both your spell rotation and your surroundings, so you can anticipate movement. It's always worth delaying a DoT by a few seconds to cast it while moving, so you can cast another nuke while still. This also holds true for other instants.

Multiple Targets and AoE

In multi-target (3 or more) situations, use a mix of Wild Mushroom, Hurricane, and DoTs.

 

  • It is better to be in Solar, since WM is buffed and Hurricane is better than Astral Storm. However, being in Lunar is still better than being outside of Eclipse. Note that even if you use Celestial Alignment in Lunar or post-Lunar, you will have Astral Storm and not Hurricane.
  • Wild Mushroom is slightly lower DPET than Hurricane, so you no longer have to drop a set of 3 WM's on cooldown against clumped targets. However, since they can be placed in advance, good planning still lets you use them for extra burst along with Hurricane.
  • With 3 or fewer targets, put up both DoTs on anything that's going to live for the full duration. With more targets or for AoE lasting for a shorter time, either put up the Eclipsed DoT only or just use Hurricane.

On encounters with a major AoE component, a big part of your planning should revolve around being in Solar Eclipse at the right time.

 

Advanced Techniques

The Balance spec has a number of interacting buffs and procs, making it currently one of the complex classes in the game to play well. There's no concise list of rules for what to cast and when (which is part of why this guide is so long); you need to have the solid understanding of how the different abilities works and use your judgment in a variety of situations. When you feel you've mastered the basic techniques described so far, here are more subtle points you can try to start working into your play:

 

  • Unlearn your Cataclysm habit of casting one Eclipsed spell before a DoT. You now want to queue your first DoT or Starfall immediately following the final post-Eclipse spell.
  • Similar, you can no longer sneak in a DoT or instant Starsurge after the final Eclipsed spell. If you want to clip a DoT at the end of Eclipse, it must be done before the last Eclipsed nuke.
  • When casting two DoTs at the beginning of Eclipse: cast the unecplised DoT, then the Eclipsed DoT (unless you expect to clip the Eclipsed DoT for any reason), then Starsurge if it's up. In Lunar, cast Starfall before all other spells since its DPS drops when Eclipse ends.
  • [Mostly deprecated at high haste due to very frequent Starsurge procs]: When Solar Eclipse starts, use the first Starsurge you have available. If a second SS procs during the Eclipse, save it for when you have 5 energy remaining (if you don't use BPT, queue it when the energy bar reads 20 and you're casting a Wrath). Depending on whether you got the proc, you'll be at either 10 or 15 energy in post-Solar. Wrath 3 times to reach Lunar and save any SS procs for the beginning of Lunar (as noted above, you can start to ignore this when at haste cap and high levels of crit).
  • In all cases, in Lunar Eclipse, simply cast Starsurge when it comes up.
  • There are a wide variety of things that affect the damage done by a DoT at the time you cast. A non-exhaustive list: Nature's Grace, Eclipse, Incarnation, Nature's Vigil, trinket procs, Lightweave/Synapse/Power Torrent, Bloodlust, Potion, Berserking. Depending on you closely you monitor your buffs (there's no way you can watch all these things effectively without a mod organizing your buff information), you can squeeze out extra DPS by watching what's going on as you refresh DoT's, and adjusting slightly earlier or later as necessary.
  • This also means that if you're moving, sometimes you don't want to use the usual Lunar Shower spam because it will overwrite a strong DoT with a weak one (for example if Eclipse just faded). This is the sort of situation where you might plant Wild Mushrooms to fill time for 3 GCD's, and detonate them at any later time, such as during your next Solar Eclipse.
  • From a reset Eclipse position, Starsurge and Celestial Alignment will now give Lunar energy. Keep this in mind when setting up for a pull, depending on which Eclipse you want to start with (which Eclipse this is depends on your plan for the fight). A solid starting routine is important, because you have your Int Potion, first set of trinket procs, and often Bloodlust, and want to maximize their effect. Pay particular attention to DoT refreshing.
  • At the beginning of a fight, start at 75 energy towards Lunar, and open with Starfall, then Wrath to start Lunar. Recast Starfall during Lunar as soon as it ends, and then again during Celestial Alignment. This results in an opening sequence that looks like:
    Starfall, Wrath, Incarnation, Sunfire, Moonfire, Starsurge, Starfire, Starfall, Starfire x3, Celestial Alignment, Moonfire, Starfire/Starsurge, Starfall, and then proceed as usual.
  • If you're at haste cap, have the legendary meta, and are opening the fight with Bloodlust, the extreme haste value can make it slightly better to instead start a fight with immediate Celestial Alignment (in order to align the CA with starting trinket/meta procs). Start in Solar Eclipse, cast Starfall and 1 Wrath during the pull, and immediately hit CA, DoTs, and Starsurge. Proceed normally from there (remembering, as before, to start the second and third Starfalls when the previous Starfall ends).
  • When starting Lunar, if you note that your next Lunar is going to be the one that you Incarnation, don't use Starfall at all, and instead use it just before the next Lunar (similar to the beginning of the fight).

 

Mods

There is only one addon I use that is specific to Balance spec:

Balance Power Tracker: An alternative energy bar. Among various display features, this bar has the option to add the expected energy from currently casting/spells to your energy bar, to help you see when you need to swap spells for the next Eclipse. Try this feature out to see if you like it, but remember that if you've been practicing with the default energy bar, the timing change will take a bit of getting used to.

WrathCalcs

 

Download here:

http://forums.elitistjerks.com/index.php?app=core&module=attach§ion=attach&attach_id=30587

Moonkin theorycraft spreadsheet. Will give you the exact value of stats/talents/glyphs in your current setup, and lets you experiment with different rotations. Originally made by Adoriele here. I've since taken it over and used it as the platform for my own theorycrafting, reflected in the version posted here.

For those of you who used WrathCalcs in Cataclysm, things are the same. There's a front page where you can select gear, gems, enchants, and reforges from drop-down menus. Stats are automatically totaled and passed to the second page, where you'll find all the other features: talent and buff selection, and detailed outputs.

For everyone else, here's a basic description to get you started:

1) Input your gear, gems, enchants, and reforges on the front page. The basic rule is that any light-blue box is a dropdown menu where you can choose something. The sheet will automatically black out any enchant/gem slots that don't exist, and will highlight any inactive socket bonuses or meta gems in red. To un-reforge (or un-gem or un-enchant) and item, just the delete the current reforge/gem/enchant selection.
2) On the second page, input your talents, glyphs and buffs. Again, light blue boxes are menus where you can enter your setup. Don't modify the pink boxes, which are the stats inherited from the front page--these are shown so you can see the stat weights (see below). You can also set some parameters about how you use your spells in the purple boxes.

3) Basic results are in green boxes. You can read your overall DPS in the "main results" box (also copied to the front page so you can easily see how it changes when you change gear). Other green boxes show your hit/haste breakpoints, the DPET of each of your spells, and the damage breakdown of all your spells.
4) Advanced results are in the blue boxes. These require the use of data tables, which you have to recompute manually by pressing F9. These include:
a) next to each stat, buff, glyph, and talent, the amount of DPS and MP5 derived from that particular thing. For stats, it shows the benefit of having 1 more of that stat. For talents and other bonuses, it shows the value you currently gain from that bonus (i.e. the amount you would lose by dropping it).
B) next to the spell table, the amount by an additional stat point improves each individual spell.


There is now one version of the sheet for both Excel and OpenOffice. OO users select "OpenOffice" from the dropdown on the first page, and everything should work (except for the data tables/advanced outputs, which are not supported by OO).

There's also a profile save/load feature now (only works in Windows Excel) so you can swap between different gear sets more easily.



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[Balance] Encounter Mechanics

Mar 11 2013 05:18 PM | Lazerdollarz in Druid

Introduction (directly copied and pasted from Tecton's T14 thread)

"Other classes have had threads detailing optimal DPS strategies on a fight-by-fight basis in the past, and I've found them very useful without even playing those classes. I checked with Melthu and he was happy for us to have a similar thread here. I'll keep this updated regularly. Please contribute, as I'll only be able to update each fight as I get to them and I'm sure some of you have extensive beta raid testing experience!

Now, obviously we don't have such heavily abusable abilities as some other classes like Cloak of Shadows, Mirror Images or Anti-Magic Shell. Oh, hold on, yes we do! For all of the poor reception of Symbiosis in some quarters, it certainly opens up a large amount of opportunities & utility to us. Beyond that, our new talent options really give us a lot of customization options.

Apologies to the other specs, but I don't really play anything but Balance enough to curate a sensible list for you, so this will be limited to Balance only tips & tricks. This is bare bones for now, and will live or die by your participation. Please post your findings (and keep the conversation civil if you disagree with someone's opinion)! I've left the world bosses off this list for now as they are very simple encounters."

(B) - basic tip, quick and easy ways to optimize DPS that might not be obvious on the first pull.
(I) - strategies to take once you are more comfortable with a fight and familiar with the abilities.
(E) - expert level tips, either very difficult to achieve or requiring a high degree of setup.

Basic Tips and Tricks

(B)Evaluate your Symbiosis target for every encounter, and familiarize yourself with who gets what from it. Here's a table to help with that. For nearly every fight, you'll be picking from Anti-Magic Shell (aka AMS, from DKs), Cloak of Shadows (from rogues), or Unending Resolve (warlock).
(B)Using Symbiosis on a DPS DK is the only appreciable direct raid DPS increase, as it allows them to save on runes.
(B) If there's a period of time where you can't DPS anything and you don't need to move, line up a new Eclipse with Astral Communion.
(B)Don't forget about Might of Ursoc! Combining this ability with a Healthstone provides a very large heal, especially if it's glyphed.
(I) Stampeding Roar should be glyphed wherever possible, and used any time there is a large amount of raid movement required. Coordinate this with other druids/warriors with Symbiosis.
(I) Displacer Beast's redesign makes it very useful for periods of long movement - if the time spent moving would be greater than the 2 GCDs it takes to use DB and shift back to Moonkin Form, taking this talent is something to consider.

Siege of Orgrimmar

Immerseus
(B) - Typhoon, Ursol's Vortex, Treant roots, Mighty Bash, Fungal Growth (from Mushroom Detonation), etc. all work to control Sha Puddles.
(B) - If no Puddles are available to DPS, heal the Contaminated Puddles using NS, HT, and Rejuv - Tranq will not work.
(B) - Cloak of Shadows will prevent damage/knockback from Swirl.
(I) - Heroic Cloak will reset/immune your stack of Sha Corruption, allowing you to continue to single target the boss.

Fallen Protectors
(I) - You can immune several stacks of Mark of Anguish with Cloak of Shadows before passing it.

Norushen
(B) -Treants are unaffected by Corruption and as such deal full damage to the boss, making them the optimal DPS talent for this fight by a wide margin.
 
Sha of Pride
(B)Cloak will remove Mark of Arrogance without gaining Pride. Cloak will also immune the damage from Swelling Pride.
 
Galakras
(B) - Incarnation + Dream of Cenarius is the obvious choice for DPS talents on this fight.
(B) - Wild Charge (moonkin) is perfect for getting out of Shattering Cleave and for getting to the back of your group in phase 2.
(B) - Cloak and AMS are good for mitigating damage and resetting your debuff stack in phase 2. 
(B) - Both the tower grunts and the adds that Fracture can be stunned/vortexed/Typhooned, etc. 

Iron Juggernaut
(B) - Cloak of Shadows will immune all damage in phase 2 as well as preventing you from being knocked back.
(E) - Timing Displacer Beast immediately after the Shock Pulse perfectly counteracts the knockback.

Kor'kron Dark Shaman
(B) - I use AMS for this fight, but Cloak and Unending Resolve are decent choices as well. 
(B) - No matter when you get the Iron Prison debuff, you can use Barkskin for it; Barkskin will come off cooldown before the debuff expires even if you've just used it. 


General Naz'grim
(I) - Liberal use of CC on adds is important for mitigating damage on your raid. 
(I) - Treants can continue to DPS the boss in Defensive Stance without causing him to gain rage.

Malkorok
(B) - AMS is great damage reduction for soaking pools, but Cloak will immune the damage from the corruption balls on heroic. Depending on your comp, you'll pick between these.
(B) - Stampeding Roar will remove Displaced Energy's root effect on heroic.
(B) - Use Glyph of Guided Stars to ensure you don't pull aggro on the adds that spawn on heroic.

Spoils of Pandaria
(B) - Using Cloak of Shadows right before the Set to Blow debuff expires will immune the damage. You still need to be away from everyone, though.
 
Thok the Bloodthirsty
(B) - Unending Resolve provides excellent damage reduction as well as making you immune to the interrupt from Deafening Screech.
(B)  - Druids can dispel poison, which is especially helpful when Fixated. Additionally, you can pick up Mass Dispel from a priest Symbiosis to further assist with dispels, though keep in mind that moonkin MD has a 1 minute cooldown now. 
 
Siegecrafter Blackfuse
(E) - You can use Wild Charge (Moonkin) to bypass the belt debuff and kill the weapons on the belt every time. This takes incredibly precise positioning and moonkins aren't the best class for the belt, so this is probably a last resort. 

Paragons of the Klaxxi
(B) - Faerie Swarm/Bash/Typhoon/HoJ/etc. are useful for controlling the Bloods. 

Garrosh Hellscream
(B)  - Cloak will immune all damage on this fight, but you may have better results with Unending Resolve as far as mitigating Intermission damage and Iron Star Impact is concerned. ****Need confirmation on Unending Resolve/Cloak immuning the interrupt from phase 4 Iron Star Impacts - I'll test that this week.**** 

T15:


Spoiler


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[Balance] Proven Assailant Guide

Oct 26 2013 07:44 AM | Thermomenes in Druid

This is my how-to guide for Moonkins attempting Proven Assailant.
The video provides in-depth commentary to help you get this difficult-to-obtain and noteworthy title.

Any feedback or questions are welcome.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7PJl4XJyhY&feature=youtu.be

Thanks, good luck, and enjoy!

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Blood Tanking - Actively Mitigating since befor...

Aug 26 2012 09:47 PM | Tyvi in Death Knight



So, apparently, naming your thread "THREAD FOR THE BEST DK SPEC - Mists of Pandaria Edition" was deemed too tacky. Who knew.

Welcome to the new Blood DK thread for Mists of Pandaria. This post will hopefully be of help to both experienced and novice Blood DKs alike with a focus on endgame raiding and Challenge modes. Please take the time to read through the whole post because parts of it are based on each other.

Nonetheless, if you only came to check what's change for us going into 5.0, at the bottom of the post.

You can find a Frequently Asked Questions section at the bottom as well.

5.4 changes:
- All taunt type abilities now increase all threat generated against the target while the taunt is active by 200%. Very handy for burst threat and tank swaps.
- Vengeance gain has been reduced across the board. For us DKs this mainly means a DPS loss but no real change to survival since our active mitigation is not tied to Attack Power besides Lichborne heals and Death Siphon (which itself got a +10% damage buff).
- The tanking meta gem has received a significant buff: It now reduces all damage taken instead of just physical damage and it's proc rate has been doubled. In addition, the DPS meta has been nerfed for tanks. If you were already using the tank meta then nothing changes for you but if you were one of the many people who used to tank with the DPS meta take note of the increased opportunity cost of doing so now.
- Necrotic Strike damage has been reduced to 100%. This means we will never use it for damage over Heart Strike anymore (it is still great for mobs that heals though).
- Soul Reaper damage went up. It is now within 5% of the damage of Heart Strike on single target with it's physical damage portion only.
- Riposte: When the Death Knight dodges or parries any attack, they gain 75% of their Parry and Dodge as additional bonus to Critical Strike for 20 seconds. This is a nice damage buff in tank gear but it does not change relative stat values or how you will play. Just assume 100% uptime on it whenever you are tanking anything at all and look at avoidance gear as being 75% as effective as crit rating.
- Dancing Rune Weapon no longer costs Runic Power. Woohoo!
- Scent of Blood now also has a chance to activate when the Death Knight dodges or parries a melee attack. This is a pretty hefty AoE tanking buff for us. Again though, not changing our gearing or how we play.
- Sanguine Fortitude no longer reduces the cost of Icebound Fortitude. Do not be alarmed by this, Icebound Fortitude now does not cost RP at base so this effect was simply not needed anymore.
- Anti-Magic Zone now reduces magical damage by 40% for 3 seconds. This makes AMZ less of a niche talent but timing is still as important as before.
- Plague Leech now refreshes 2 Runes as Death which is essentially a Death Strike. It's a good buff but unfortunately Plague Leech is still on the global CD which was the real reason it was not as popular in practice even though it is a great talent in theory. That said, a free Death Strike every 25 seconds does sound good if you can handle the GCD cost.



 

Contents

Tanking Philosophy


As tanks we have 5 goals, listed in the order of importance:

1) Survive.
2) Hold aggro.
3) Minimize damage taken and healing required (through self heals, damage reduction CDs and such).
4) Support the raid with CDs (i.e. Anti-Magic Zone, Glyph of Death Coil).
5) Deal as much damage as possible.

While none of these goals are particularly new, I want to take some time to discuss 3) and 5) at detail here because they might be the most controversial.

Total damage taken vs burst damage taken


While minimizing healer attention is generally something to strive for, we need to be reasonable about it. I don't know when it started but people have come to equate "less total damage taken" with being a "good tank" or being "more survivable" when this is not always true: You can take more overall damage than someone and still be the better tank. How? Because it matters when and how quickly you take the damage. Your assigned healer(s) will not heal you any differently if you take slightly more damage per swing and in most cases, they will not even notice and the damage saved will go into overheal especially if you have HoTs on you anyway (forget the notion of a tank healer going OOM since that does not happen; it's raid healing that drains the mana). What they will however notice is if you drop dead or close to that within ~5 seconds.
This is what we need to reduce: burst damage (and if we cannot reduce it, we have to make sure we have enough health to survive it atleast). Burst damage is what kills tanks and makes your healers panic. We are still the tank that is most susceptible to dying from burst damage because of how our active mitigation works: It is more powerful than that of other tanks because our active mitigation has to partially compensate for our lower baseline mitigation and it is reactive (and I wouldn't have it any other way, it's fun to play but the burst damage susceptible is nonetheless an issue for bosses that are designed to challenge all tanks, especially those with active mitigation that prevents damage without requiring to get hit first).

You absolutely do not need to Death Strike when you are safe. Yes, even if you are sitting on both Rune pairs because of lucky RNG (Tier 5 procs, avoidance etc). Will you take more overall damage than someone who keeps his Runes on CD - with a minimum heal Death Strike if he has to? Yes, you will. But you are pretty much unkillable with both Rune pairs off CD because you can react to any form of burst damage. The person who used a DS earlier opens himself up to said burst damage because now all his Runes are on CD and his Blood Shield gets eaten through pretty quickly due to low sized Death Strike heal from earlier.
If you are still having doubts, think about this: Would you use Anti-Magic Shell or Icebound Fortitude on CD just to reduce your overall damage taken or rather sit on them and use them for the breath mechanic or similar burst damage even if that means you waste time sitting on the ready CDs? I think everyone will agree that the latter is always going to be more important for survival than the former.
Using Death Strike (and appropriate gearing) to react to burst is the same thing in essence. Forget about using Death Strikes per minute as the be all, end all factor to gauge tank effectiveness. It is only part of it and the less important one compared to properly timing them. A better way to evaluate how you do with utilizing Death Strike is to look at your WoL and checking your average Death Strike healing and it's overheal %. The higher the former and the lower the latter, the better since that means you used Death Strikes during high damage periods and not just whenever you could. That said, there are still legitimate things that can and will drop your average heal size and increase the overheal like lulls in damage or deliberately stacking Blood Shield for whatever reason (or even just adding DPS since sitting on Runes is a DPS loss). This is, like so many things, something you need to judge on a case by case basis. But atleast it's a start.


Tank DPS matters


Ask a DPS player if he would like to do 10k or more DPS. Chances are that they would not only say yes but would even sacrifice you to their dark gods if they could - just to do more DPS (and probably because you asked a really stupid question ). Then why is the public perception that tank damage is not important? We need to try and change that, especially now that we have the new Vengeance which scales tank damage up proportional to how much damage we take with no cap - which will help equalize the importance of a 25 man tank's DPS compared to a 10 man tank.
Any way you look at it, tank damage matters, especially on progression fights. I'm sure many of you had sub 1% wipes and wondered if it would have been a kill if anyone - maybe even you - had just done a little bit more DPS (a common counter-argument is to ask your DPS to step up - which is a fair point - but if you can help out, why would you not do it?).
My point is that as long as you don't atleast try to improve your DPS (just as long as you don't get yourself killed), you are not performing as well as you could. Help your raid out where you can, it's part of being a good tank and a raider after all.

And with all things, be reasonable. You do not need to sit on Runes on content that doesn't have a chance to kill you nor should you start Heart Striking with your Death Runes to improve your DPS on a boss that can kill you within a Death Strike interval. Use common sense.


Gearing


Stat priority


Most stat priorities you will find for tanks have been simmed or mathed out with one thing in mind: reducing total damage taken throughout the fight and, as addressed earlier, this is not what is going to kill you. There is simply no simulator or sheet that accurately emulates how a human would play a Blood Death Knight. Most of these models "cheat" by assuming static incoming damage (maybe a special hit at fixed intervals at most), setting Death Strike to be executed at a fixed interval (usually whenever it's ready) and then comparing which gear and spec permutations end up giving you the least damage taken which will highly undervalue hit/exp for survival and overvalue avoidance compared to mastery (don't get me wrong, sims are not a bad thing; they just don't work as well for tanking purposes as they do for DPS).
With that in mind, here is what we came up with:

Method 1: Prioritizing avoidance over accuracy:
Enough health to survive the worst case scenario > Mastery > Dodge/Parry > 7.5% Hit > 7.5% Exp > Haste

Method 2: Prioritizing accuracy over avoidance:
Enough health to survive the worst case scenario > Mastery > 7.5% Hit > 7.5% Exp > Dodge/Parry > Haste

(7.5% Expertise/Hit equate to 2550 rating each. Hit is more useful because of Rune Strike so if you have to make a choice between capping Hit and spreading it between Hit and Exp, cap Hit first so you can always land a Rune Strike for reliable threat and Tier 5 procs.)

Both ways to gear will leave the lionshare of survival in your own hands since the heavy mastery focus makes triggering Blood Shield even more important than if you had just stacked avoidance and relied on your passive stats to get you through the fight (as a matter of fact, Blood Shield and avoidance fill a very similar role and I will get to that in more detail here; the short version is that Blood Shield is more reliable on short term because you can trigger at will).

Method 2 takes this a step further by ensuring that your Death Strike (and all your spells, including the all important Outbreak) will never miss against a raid boss so it removes yet another layer of RNG and puts more of your survival into your own hands. In addition, you gain a non-trivial amount of DPS on top of things which - combined with all the other advantages - makes Method 2 my favorite. Note however that even if Death Strike should fail to land, you will still gain the shield and heal from it so if you just want to cap for Death Strike, you should reconsider (it still helps with Scent of Blood and smoother T5 procs though; you will never waste a GCD and lose RP if your Rune Strike fails to land for example)
The fact that you will naturally get some gear with accuracy stats on them and that accuracy ratings are much cheaper per 1% than avoidance also helps keep the avoidance difference between Method 1 and 2 pretty small.
And finally, note that we lost the free 9% spell hit from Runic Focus as well so gearing for exp/hit helps compensate for that, too. That said, you will not be able to (soft) cap either stat without sacrificing Mastery until you are in item level ~500 gear.

How much is "enough health"?


The first goal in gearing is to get enough health to survive the worst case scenario you are expected to take without cooldowns. But how much is enough? Generally, the content you are tanking and the healers you play with will determine how much health you will need. Having Stamina trinkets handy in addition to your normal Mastery ones is a good and quick way to change your EH on the fly whenever needed.

Basically, someone who predominately runs heroic 25 mans and has healers with good reactions will gear differently from someone who runs normal 10 mans and has average healers (or any combination of these).
Find out the highest possible burst damage you are expected to take that you are not expected to CD through (because it happens too often to CD every one of them). A good boss to look at would be Warmaster Blackhorn because he has abilities that can land at the same time (let's ignore the fact his damage increases over the course of the fight): His normal auto attack, Devastate and Disrupting Roar. Naturally, you will want enough health to survive this. A tank that has great healers might stop here and focus on Mastery now because he knows that his healers will always heal him fast enough to survive the next auto attack in time (or will even heal him to full inbetween the swings) whereas someone who has worse healers might want to consider getting some more health to make it easier for their healers to heal them enough to survive the next swing as well. This is on top of the fact that a DK with good healers will be much more likely to be at full health to take the burst combo as well as opposed to the DK with lesser skilled/geared healers.
Additionally, how you manage your Death Strike also has a bearing on this. If you are confident in always being able to respond to the worst case scenario with a Death Strike you may need less health than someone who might have had to use Death Strike earlier though it needs to be said that stacking a bit more health than technically required is not a bad thing because it might allow you to get one more swing into your Death Strike heal window more comfortably than if you had slightly less health.

Finally, let's look at another example with actual numbers for a generic boss now:
In both scenarios the boss will swing for 200k plus a 200k special roughly every 10 seconds. Said boss also has a 1.5 sec swing timer so the next 200k hit would follow 1.5 seconds after the melee/special combo lands in the worst case.

Tank A has quick healers and is pretty good at managing his Death Strikes so he can be sure that he will get healed to full (or close enough) by the next melee swing. This tank would technically only need 401k health to survive reliably and can focus on other stats instead.

Tank B has average healers and will not always be able to respond to the burst damage with Death Strike so he will only receive 150k healing within the next 1.5 seconds. He would be better off stacking more health to give himself and his healers more time to get him back to full.

If after all this you are still dying and not sure if it's caused by a lack of effective health or something else, I recommend using addons that can show you both the incoming heals and damage shortly before you died, like Death Note.

Note: It's also for reasons like this that you should not blindly copy the gemming of tanks in the top guilds if you aren't exactly sure why they do it. Sometimes you will see them stack stamina because they run content they undergear and which doesn't apply to you if you play in a different raid size, difficulty or even if you reach the same content a few weeks later (most of your Stamina/EH is tied to item level so it increases naturally the more upgrades you get - the players who get to the encounters first are usually undergeared).
(The same applies for more than just stamina stacking but this is one of the most common examples.)


Stoneskin Gargoyle vs Swordshattering


Pick Stoneskin Gargoyle if you need more EH, otherwise go with Swordshattering. Spell Shattering has some niche use for bosses that exclusively do magic damage (like Lei Shi) or against burst damage that primarily consists of magic damage.
(If you are fine on the survival side of things, feel free to go with Fallen Crusader even to add more DPS.)

Avoidance vs Blood Shield


If we only look at avoidable physical damage then Blood Shield and avoidance are actually very similar. In essence, there is no difference between having a 200k Blood Shield and a single dodge on a boss that swings for 200k damage. Both Blood Shield and avoidance let you negate a full boss swing and both stats are roughly equal in reducing your average damage taken.
So why did I rate mastery above avoidance in my stat weights? Because Blood Shield let's you "avoid" swings on demand since you can trigger it at will while avoidance is still bound to the RNG. Don't get me wrong, avoidance is great and it plays well with our active mitigation* - but reliability wins.
Mastery also has the benefit of making you stronger on encounters with big magic burst because the extra magic damage taken will increase the size of our Blood Shields whereas avoidance does not get better. On the flipside, avoidance has the benefit of letting us avoid some nasty, stacking debuffs on a few boss encounters which can also be valuable. But in general, Mastery will remain the better stat to gear for.

*Every avoided and fully absorbed hit let's you delay your next Death Strike by another 1.5 secs (or whatever the bosses swing timer happens to be in this case) which is essentially the same as giving you +1.5 secs free Rune regeneration time. (I really love the interplay of avoidance, Mastery and our Runes.)

Balancing out Dodge and Parry


The diminishing returns on Dodge and Parry work differently in Mists: Dodge diminishes much, much faster than Parry now. Unfortunately, there is no easy rule as we had in Cataclysm where we just tried to keep both ratings close to each other.
Depending on your Dodge%, you would need to get 2-3 more Parry for Dodge to become better again. Theck put it pretty nicely here so allow me to quote him instead:

Originally Posted by Theck
If we have 10% total dodge on our character sheet, we’d want to stack up to 21% parry to make sure that we’re not being inefficient with our diminishing returns. And it gets worse as we go higher – at 15% total dodge, we’d want 39% parry, and at 20% dodge we’d want 57% parry. The ideal ratio of parry:dodge gets larger as we stack more dodge.
Source: Avoidance Diminishing Returns in MoP – Part 3 | Sacred Duty

Remember to substract 4% Parry in the comparison if you are using Swordshattering because this avoidance is not affected by diminishing returns.

Reniat compiled a macro for us that will print out how much parry is ideal for your current dodge values (you can also just copy and paste this into your chat if you don't want to make a macro for it):

With Swordshattering:
/run d=GetDodgeChance() n=3.22 b=5.01 if UnitRace("player")=="Gnome" then n=n-.01 end if UnitRace("player")=="Night Elf" then b=b+2 end p=235.5*d/90.6425-((235.5/90.6425)*b-n)+4 DEFAULT_CHAT_FRAME:AddMessage("Ideal parry: "..string.format("%.2f",p))
Without Swordshattering:
/run d=GetDodgeChance() n=3.22 b=5.01 if UnitRace("player")=="Gnome" then n=n-.01 end if UnitRace("player")=="Night Elf" then b=b+2 end p=235.5*d/90.6425-((235.5/90.6425)*b-n) DEFAULT_CHAT_FRAME:AddMessage("Ideal parry: "..string.format("%.2f",p))
Note: An addon like RatingBuster should help with this as well. It can show you how much Dodge%/Parry% you get from a given gem or item since it automatically includes diminishing returns.

If you establish that Parry rating is better than Dodge rating for your gear level and you want to enchant for avoidance, look for enchant options that offer the same amount of Strength in a slot as they do Dodge rating and pick the Strength enchant because it will actually be better. Yes, that's right. You can now enchant Strength for survival over Dodge and you will be backed by Math™.
(Though I still don't recommend enchanting for avoidance either way.)

The value of accuracy stats


With Death Strike healing and shielding even if it fails to connect, accuracy stats do not offer as much for survival as they did before that change. In general, if you are gearing for accuracy you do it because you care about your DPS since the uncapped Vengeance makes actually landing your abilities much more important (the downside of Death Strike always shielding and healing us is that the Runes get consumed even if Death Strike fails to land and does 0 damage. With DS making up the biggest portion of our DPS this is obviously not a good thing if your raid needs your DPS to beat the enrage timers).
That said, gearing for the spell hit cap will also ensure that Outbreak will always hit, which is a survival boost; a missed Outbreak will make you go a whole Rune cycle without a Death Strike in the worst case which can potentially be fatal. Keep this in mind if you want to spec Plague Leech, specifically. If you are not spell hit capped you cannot guarantee that Outbreak will land after you used PL which decreases it's value (and no one can argue that PL is not a survival boost if used properly).
And finally, accuracy stats will give you a constant stream of Runic Power through Scent of Blood procs.


Does avoidance have a negative effect on Blood Shield? Does Mastery diminish with itself?


The short answer: No. Avoidance does not make our mastery worse and neither does mastery diminish itself.

The long answer: The misconception that avoidance negatively affected our Blood Shield stemmed from sim results that used Death Strike whenever they could. Yes, the same sims that were used to find out the total damage reduction various stat weights gave you.
And to be fair, it's an easy mistake to make. It's not hard to think of a scenario where you dodge 2 or 3 swings in your Death Strike heal window (the 5 seconds before you Death Strike) which would naturally lower your subsequent Blood Shield size, all the way down to the minimum size. This would be even exarberated if you now also took 2-3 unavoided hits just after you used said min heal Death Strike so it would look like that avoidance screwed you over, right?
Except no, it hasn't. You mismanaged your Death Strike since there was no need at all to use it during an avoidance streak. And as mentioned above, the sims that were used were not instructed to take avoidance streaks into account - but us players do not have this problem so we are also not affected by this.

The same applies to Mastery diminishing with itself. It only does that if you Death Strike without regard of how much damage you let into the Death Strike heal window because you can just as easily wait until your previous Blood Shield has been consumed fully and you took 2-3 full hits before you Death Strike again.

Tier 14, 15 and 16 set bonuses


Tier 14 Bonus
2 Set Reduces the cooldown of your Vampiric Blood ability by 20 sec.
4 Set Increases the healing received from your Death Strike by 10%. (This is a multiplicative bonus for a 22% Death Strike heal before Scent of Blood stacks and not 30%).

Tier 15 Bonus
2 Set Reduces the cooldown of your Rune Tap ability by 10 sec and removes its Rune cost.
4 Set Your Bone Shield ability grants you 15 Runic Power each time one of its charges is consumed.

Tier 16 Bonus
2 Set Every 10 Heart Strikes, Rune Strikes, Death Coils, Soul Reapers, or Blood Boils will add one charge to your next Bone Shield.
4 Set Dancing Rune Weapon will reactivate all Frost and Unholy runes and convert them to Death runes.

Should you get Tier 16? Oh yes, you definitely should. Not only are the set bonuses are amazing but the items are well itemized to boot.

2P will give you ~3 more Bone Shield charges per minute which is an increase of ~50%. But the beauty of the bonus is being able to store the charges for longer than a minute and having the option to forgo uptime/maximum amount of charges for deploying them during high damage phases. Do not be afraid to lose some Bone Shield usage if you need to save the damage reduction for other phases.
(Getting 100% uptime is not possible, not even in a high haste gear set and the CD reduction trinket while spamming Heart Strike over Death Strike which is a good thing for balance. You may even want to use Heart Strike more often in very low damage phases to build up the Bone Wall charges more quickly which is a nice option to have.)
4P is a slightly weaker Empower Rune Weapon on a much shorter CD. It gives you 4 Death Runes to play around with and the flexibility that offers is really amazing. You can get up to 2 Death Strikes, more Blood Boils for AoE pickup or other offensive utility and most amazingly you can channel Army of the Dead with the DRW buff up for an additional 20% damage reduction. And all this without expending extra resources since DRW got it's RP cost removed as well.

Tier 16 trinkets


For the first trinket slot we have Vial of Living Corruption which increases the cooldown recovery rate by 20% and the passive stat is pretty good. So what does +20% cooldown recovery rate mean? It does not mean you can just substract 20% of the CD time (a common mistake) but it does mean you can divide your CDs by 1.2. Essentially, for every 1 min of CD the trinket reduces it by 10 secs. The affected spells are:
- Icebound Fortitude at 150 secs CD (-30 secs), 115 secs CD glyphed (-15 secs).
- Outbreak at 50 secs CD (-10 secs)
- Dancing Rune Weapon at 75 secs CD (-15 secs)
- Bone Shield at 50 secs CD (-10 secs)
- Anti-Magic Shell at 37.5 secs CD (-7.5 secs)
- Vampiric Blood at 50 secs CD (-10 secs), 33 secs with T14 2P (though this has no practical application besides showing us that the flat reduction of -20 secs is applied before the trinket)

The synergy between this trinket and with our T16 set bonus should be obvious.

For survival, the trinket in th second slot is going to be [Item not found!] which offers some more passive EH while providing an amazing damage reduction on use for many, many boss abilities. Keep in mind that AoE abilities include bursty tank killer abilities such Primordial Strike, Explosive Slam and so on even if they are technically supposed to only hit tanks.

The third trinket of interest is [Thok's Tail Tip] which is technically a DPS trinket. Even so, this trinket gives you a good amount of Mastery passively (1.2k with ~17k Mastery compared to ~2k what you could get from a 553 trinket itemized for pure Mastery). So while this trinket is not the best for survival, it is unique in being a very good trade off in terms a bunch of DPS for a small survival loss. If you want to add damage at low opportunity cost, equip this.
That said, I expect Thok to be quite popular among 10 man tanks since bosses hit less hard there and tank DPS matters more (plus it's great for your offspec so you probably want one anyway).

And finally, let's take a look at this trinket: Juggernaut's Focusing Crystal. While the idea is nice, this is a pretty niche trinket for survival purposes. Even if you are doing 300k DPS you are still only healing yourself for 8k HPS, which may or may not be overheal.
That said, this trinket may have some niche uses on an encounter or two where you can slap high powered diseases on a bunch of mobs who preferably won't fight back (stuff like Primordius oozes basically) or on mobs that take increased damage. But as you can tell from the rather contrived situations for the trinket to be even viable, this is not a trinket you should expect to use often or at all. Keep it if drops but don't actively pursue it is my recommendation.


Rating conversions at level 90


StatRatings for 1%
Mastery600
Dodge885
Parry885 (or 951 Str)
Hit340
Expertise340


(Mastery now displays as % for all classes. However the 600 rating is equivalent to 1 point of mastery in Cataclysm terms.)

The Strength to Parry rating conversion has been vastly improved. As a matter of fact, with Blessing of Kings you would only need 905 str compared to 885 Parry rating for 1% Parry before diminishing returns - in other words, Strength is 97% as effective as Parry rating while offering attack power on top. That said, even if you wanted to gem for avoidance (for whatever reason), you still wouldn't gem Strength because all non-primary stat gems give twice the rating than primary stat gems (i.e. 320 Parry vs 160 Strength). If you decide to enchant for avoidance though, you will want to look into going with the Strength enchants in cases where you find 1:1 conversions for primary stats and ratings if the rating in question happens to be Dodge (i.e. [Formula: Enchant Bracer - Superior Dodge] vs [Formula: Enchant Gloves - Super Strength]) because Parry is better than Dodge in most cases.

Either way, this is a nice buff to our natural avoidance gain since Strength will automatically increase with item level and one that was sorely needed because bosses ignore significantly more of our avoidance now: 4.5% Parry, Dodge and chance to be missed each.


Enchants


The head enchants have been removed in Mists of Pandaria and the shoulder enchants have been moved from reputation vendors to the Inscription profession.

Slot Enchant Comments
Shoulder 300 Stamina/100 Dodge [Greater Ox Horn Inscription] (Inscription); Scribes should use [Secret Ox Horn Inscription].
Cloak 200 Stamina [Formula: Enchant Cloak - Greater Protection]; Do not use [Enchant Cloak - Accuracy] even if you need the hit because it's underbudget. Use hybrid gems to make up for it instead: [Retaliating Imperial Amethyst] in red or [Sensei's Wild Jade] in blue sockets.
Chest 300 Stamina [Formula: Enchant Chest - Superior Stamina]
Bracers 170 Mastery [Formula: Enchant Bracer - Mastery]; this enchant is underbudget as well but there is no way to make up for the Mastery otherwise so we will use it regardless; Enchant Bracer - Exceptional Strength is a valid alternate if you want avoidance. Leatherworkers should use Fur Lining - Stamina or Fur Lining - Strength for avoidance.
Gloves 170 Mastery [Formula: Enchant Gloves - Superior Mastery]; another underbudget enchant but nothing we can do about this, either [Formula: Enchant Gloves - Super Strength] is our best avoidance enchant.
Belt Belt Buckle [Living Steel Belt Buckle] (Blacksmithing)
Legs 430 Stamina/165 Dodge [Ironscale Leg Armor] (Leatherworking)
Feet 140 Mastery + 8% run speed [Formula: Enchant Boots - Pandaren's Step]; the run speed bonus stacks with Death's Advance.

Gems


Unless you are trying to get enough EH and can't afford to grab the non-Stamina socket bonuses, I recommend getting every socket bonus.
Once you reached your EH goal, you can focus on Mastery primarily and then either avoidance or accuracy stats secondary - depending on whichever gearing method you decided on earlier. This means:

Color No Hit/Expertise Hit/Expertise option
Yellow [Fractured Sun's Radiance] ([Fractured Serpent's Eye] for Jewelcrafters) <-- the same
Blue [Puissant Wild Jade] [Sensei's Wild Jade]
Red [Fine Vermilion Onyx] [Keen Vermilion Onyx]
Meta Gems [Austere Primal Diamond] for general purpose tanking; [Effulgent Primal Diamond] for bosses where magical burst damage is most likely to kill you (Lei Shi for example) <-- the same
Prismatic [Fractured Sun's Radiance]/[Fractured Serpent's Eye] or [Solid River's Heart]Solid River's Heart/[Solid Serpent's Eye] <-- the same


Reforging


For gearing method 1 (avoidance > accuracy), in order of importance:
1) On items with no Mastery, reforge the highest non-Mastery stat to Mastery.
2) On items with Mastery, reforge the highest accuracy stat to whichever avoidance stat you benefit from most.
3) Reforge Parry/Dodge into whichever stat diminishes the least for your gear.

For gearing method 2 (accuracy > avoidance), in order of importance:
1) On items with no Mastery, reforge the highest non-Mastery stat to Mastery.
2) On items with Mastery, reforge the highest avoidance stat to whichever accuracy stat you need the most.
3) Reforge Parry/Dodge into whichever stat diminishes the least for your gear.

Consumables


For consumables, we have a couple of choices depending on what we need:

Type Effective Health Mastery Accuracy Avoidance
Food [Chun Tian Spring Rolls]/[Twin Fish Platter]/[Wildfowl Roast]; [Banquet of the Oven] and [Pandaren Banquet] will provide 415 Stamina, whereas the other feasts will give you 375 [Pearl Milk Tea] [Spicy Vegetable Chips]/[Rice Pudding] or [Spicy Salmon]/[Wildfowl Ginseng Soup] [Black Pepper Ribs and Shrimp]/[Eternal Blossom Fish]/[Charbroiled Tiger Steak]
Flask/Elixir [Flask of the Earth] or [Mantid Elixir] [Monk's Elixir] [Elixir of Perfection] or [Elixir of Weaponry] [Flask of Winter's Bite] or [Elixir of Mirrors]

And lastly, [Potion of Mogu Power] for DPS/avoidance and [Potion of the Mountains] for EH.

Professions


I am sure people are wondering if they should pick up new professions for Mists of Pandaria so let's take a closer look at what they all offer for us tanks:

Leatherworking:
Leatherworking offers the biggest boost to Stamina with it's Fur Lining - Stamina which provides a whopping 750 Stamina which is 710 Stamina more than the closest comparable Stamina enchant ([Formula: Enchant Bracer - Major Stamina] from WotLK).
While you do lose out on the 170 Mastery enchant on bracers, this bonus is just way too good to even matter. For comparison's sake, 750 Stamina is the same item budget as 1000 Mastery so even once you substract the 170 you still end up at 830 - the highest bonus of all professions.
Longterm, LW may or may not lose some of it's advantage over other professions; this really depends on the fact if we get new bracer enchants or not (if you remember, the 40 Sta enchant on bracers from WotLK was only added after launch).

Blacksmithing:
Blacksmithing offers the most flexibility since it let's you socket 2 additional gems, one in your bracers and one in your gloves. Because of this, Blacksmithing is one of the only two professions that let you pick your bonus: Mastery, Stamina, Dodge or Parry, it's up to you.
In terms of raw item budget, BS is worth 320 primary stats = 480 Stamina = 640 Mastery
This bonus is only going to increase with epic gems.

Jewelcrafting:
Jewelcrafting is the other profession besides Blacksmithing that let's you pick the bonus stats. For us this will generally be [Fractured Serpent's Eye] or [Solid Serpent's Eye]Solid Serpent's Eye. In the end, JC will give us a bonus of either 480 Stamina or 320 Mastery. While the Stamina bonus is in line with the better professions, the Mastery values are once again underbudget.
(Yes your read that right, Blacksmithing makes much better use of gems than Jewelcrafting does. <_<)

Engineering:
Engineering gives us this new glove enchant (it's +2880 dodge rating, ignore the bugged tooltip). Unfortunately the tinker is underbudget since it only offers 1.5x more rating than Synapse Springs does Strength when it should be 2x as much. That said, while the stat gain averages out to be only 480 rating, do not understimate the effect of having it available all in one big burst. This is handy since we can use the tinker together with Dancing Rune Weapon and/or trinket uses (and with Army of the Dead). With the recent hotfix, the Dodge tinker actually is better for survival than the Strength tinker. Which one you ultimately go for is up to you but I wouldn't be surprised if the Strength one still wins out in most cases due to the added damage and only being slightly worse avoidance than the Dodge tinker.
In addition, Engineering offers some utility with things like Nitro Boosts which is hard to quantify when it helps in encounters and doesn't actually blow you up.
As a side bonus, Engineering also offers [Reinforced Retinal Armor] which will last you until you get actual raid loot.

Enchanting:
Enchanting gives us access to 2xEnchant Ring - Greater Stamina for a 480 Stamina boost which is inline with most other professions (this got hotfix buffed up from 320 Stamina). This puts the Stamina bonus inline with the other upper tier professions though. In terms of item budget, this is worth 640 Mastery.

Alchemy:
Alchemists gain an additional 480 Stamina from Mixology when they use Flask of the Earth. In terms of item budget, 480 Stamina would be worth 640 Mastery.
The Alchemy only trinket [Zen Alchemist Stone] is decent enough, though you will not use it for long since you can get better trinkets from the heroics, for example these two: [Heart of Fire] and/or [Iron Protector Talisman].

Mining
Mining gives you a flat 480 Stamina which is equivalent to 640 Mastery.

Inscription
Inscription offers [Secret Ox Horn Inscription] which is a 450 Stamina gain over [Greater Ox Horn Inscription]. In terms of item budget, 450 Stamina would be the same as 600 Mastery which is decent.

In summary, Leatherworking and Blacksmithing are the two top dogs for stat gain - with the latter even letting you choose which stat you get.
Jewelcrafting, Enchanting, Mining and Alchemy are ranked slightly behind those two because they "only" offer Stamina and unlike Leatherworking, it's less (while Jewelcrafting and Alchemy technically do offer ways to convert the Stamina stat bonuses into Mastery, they do so at a terrible conversion rate. If you want to use the Mastery instead, there are better professions to pick).
Inscription is a little behind on the Stamina bonus.

Engineering is harder to rank; while it does not offer any Stamina and rather low averaged rating, the glove tinker is pretty sweet and works better than if it was just a higher, static value since we can combo it with our other cooldowns.
Things like Nitro Boosts are also pretty handy if you can make them work in raids though be aware that it can still backfire. And finally, the helm is handy for your pre-raid gearing.

Tailoring, Herbalism and Skinning do not offer any meaningful tanking benefits.

All in all though, if you don't happen to have Enchanting, Tailoring, Herbalism or Skinning you should be fine. Min/maxers will probably reroll Blacksmithing/Leatherworking though (with some keeping Engineering for the non-stat bonuses and the epic helm which will atleast last into normal Tier 14).


Talents


There is no such thing as a default spec that is optimal for every single situation so please do not ask for it.

I strongly suggest you read the whole thing but if you just want the abbreviated version, click here.

Tier 1 - Plague Leech, Roiling Blood, Unholy Blight


Plague Leech Draw forth the infection from an enemy, consuming your Blood Plague and Frost Fever diseases on the target to activate a random fully-depleted rune as a Death Rune. 25 sec cooldown.
  Plague Leech is a good choice for single target tanking. While it can give you a Death Strike every 25 seconds, we don't have to use it on CD to benefit from it. However, do not understimate the GCD cost it incurs. This is really it's biggest drawback and one of the reasons it is not as popular in practice than it is in theory. But if you can handle it, give it a shot.
  • For survival: To supplement Blood Tap and Runic Empowerment procs to get the second Rune to use for a Death Strike. Also useful for Runic Corruption when you need to desync a Rune pair to use any non-DS abilities since PL allows you to sync them again. Do note that PL is on the GCD unlike Cata-Blood Tap and that it does not remove the Weakened Blows debuff when it consumes diseases so if you really need that Rune to Death Strike, don't hesistate to use it. (If you notice that you use PL more often than every 60 seconds or if you are not spell hit capped, consider glyphing Outbreak to reapply diseases afterwards; it's certainly less punishing than using Runes to do it with.)
  • For single target DPS: PL every 60 seconds just after a disease tick and follow up immediately with Outbreak. The ~1 secs of diseases lost is less damage than a Heart Strike/Soul Reaper you gain.
  • For AoE: In certain circumstances, you can even emulate Roiling Blood in terms of Runes saved by PLing off your current target and using the new Rune to either DnD or BB followed by reapplying diseases with Outbreak. Note that if you need to spread diseases or pick up mobs more often than once a minute with unglyphed Outbreak or once every 25 secs with glyphed Outbreak, then you are better off speccing RB. I am mentioning this because there will be encounters where single target tanking performance will be more important than adds or in scenarios where you need to handle both equally well but adds are rare enough for PL to still be able to do the job while still letting you benefit from PL's single target advantages.
Roiling Blood Your Blood Boil ability now also triggers Pestilence if it strikes a diseased target.
  Roiling Blood lets us cut out Pestilence from our AoE rotation and replace it with Blood Boil. That may not sound like much but keep in mind that BB does not require any targets to be in melee range so you can Outbreak from range and BB while running into a new pack of mobs before they can even touch you and still spread diseases. This speeds up our AoE setup time tremendously in conjunction with our new 1 sec GCD. On top of that, you get to deal some AoE damage on the pull which is important to keep the mobs on you while you set up your AoE rotation fully. While the first Blood Boil with RB will not deal full damage to all mobs due to the fact that the diseases get spread AFTER BB's damage is calculated, it should still be sufficient to get things going, especially if you built up some Vengeance already. Expect to use this in Challenge modes (most likely in conjunction with Glyph of Outbreak) and on any boss encounters with adds that spawn often and quickly (i.e. Bloods on Spine or Maloriak adds). RB does absolutely nothing on single target. The disease refresh you are seeing is from Scarlet Fever.
Unholy Blight Surrounds the Death Knight with a vile swarm of unholy insects for 10 sec, stinging all enemies within 10 yards every 1 sec, infecting them with Blood Plague and Frost Fever. 90 sec cooldown.
  Unholy Blight is a resource free way to apply our diseases on AoE. Unfortunately due to the rather long CD and the fact that we still have a 60 sec Outbreak and can keep diseases up indefinitely with Scarlet Fever, it lost much of it's usefulness for Blood. The only advantage UB has over RB is that it doesn't cost any resources and can debuff streaming adds due to it's 10 second duration. However, I don't expect to see UB used much because a 90 sec CD is quite a big disadvantage over our other alternatives. Even if we give UB the benefit of doubt and pretend there is a boss encounter that spawns adds every 90 seconds, you can just use Outbreak and RB or even PL instead (with PL having the benefit of being useful for the times you are just on the boss, too). UB might be useful if you are chain pulling in Challenge modes and don't want to glyph Outbreak for whatever reason but aside from that, anything UB can do, RB and PL can do better for our purposes. On single target, UB is a very, very minor DPS increase by allowing you to swap a BB with a HS every 90 seconds. But if you are going for more DPS, PL is much better suited for that anyway



Tier 2 - Lichborne, Purgatory, Anti-Magic Zone


Lichborne Draw upon unholy energy to become undead for 10 sec. While undead, you are immune to Charm, Fear, and Sleep effects, and Death Coil will heal you. 2 min cooldown.
  Lichborne is an amazing self heal, especially with the new Vengeance. At 120k AP (which isn't all that hard to get in a 25 man), a single Death Coil will heal you for 200k. A DK tank in T14 heroic gear will have roughly 600k health so you are looking at a 33% max health heal for 40 RP. This is really good, especially if you weave it inbetween your Death Strikes (which is much more forgiving with the 1 sec GCD, too). Not only that, Lichborne heals (and all other forms of non-damaging Death Coils) stack and refresh your Blood Charges if you happened to be specced into Blood Tap. That said, Lichborne has two drawbacks: You have to bank some RP (or be forced to combo with ERW/AMS to gain some RP quickly) which makes it a proactive CD. Not a big deal, but worth noting either way. The second drawback is that LB will not help you against abilities that can kill you from 100% health. While it is true that these attacks are generally intended to be cooldowned through with proper damage reduction CDs like Icebound Fortitude, it should be noted that Purgatory can be used for these things as well and since LB directly competes with Purgatory it is important enough to be mentioned. I do expect Lichborne to generally be picked over Purgatory and AMZ unless the encounter specifically demands for a raid CD or some Purgatory gaming because it is less situational than either.
Purgatory An unholy pacts grants you the ability to fight on through damage that would kill mere mortals. When you would sustain fatal damage, you instead are wrapped in a Shroud of Purgatory, absorbing incoming healing equal to the amount of damage prevented, lasting 3 sec. If any healing absorption remains when Shroud of Purgatory expires, you die. Otherwise, you survive. This effect may only occur every 3 min.
  Purgatory is a good talent but also a double edged sword. It has the potential to be great but probably not in the way most people expected to use it when they saw the talent: like Wrath Ardent Defender. On the contrary, if Purgatory procs from low overkill amounts (normal boss swings, auras etc) then chances are the immunity from Shroud of Purgatory will fade very quickly, generally within the same GCD from heals that were already incoming when you procced Purgatory; this is bad because you are very likely to be at low health and the next swing will kill you regardless. A much safer and more reliable way to use Purgatory is if you can anticipate the proc - which you will generally do by allowing it to happen. By doing so, you can turn your and your raid's reactive healing CDs into a ghetto-damage reduction CD. Let's look at this example: The boss has a telegraphed attack that hits for 900k damage on your 600k health and that you are expected to CD through. Now instead of using IBF you can let the attack hit and take the 300k overkill. Now you Death Strike (so you have a Blood Shield for the next swing) and Death Pact (if you want to be safe, you can even request LoH's from your Paladins - which is much easier to time if they already know it's required in advance - or combo it with Vampiric Blood). This may seem like a lot of effort but keep in mind you just emulated IBF for a single attack which at worst allows you to save IBF for the next time the attack hits and at best cut out a second tank if the encounter expected you to rotate tanks for said ability.
Anti-Magic Zone Places a large, stationary Anti-Magic Zone that reduces spell damage done to party or raid members inside it by 40%. The Anti-Magic Zone lasts for 3 sec. 2 min cooldown
  Anti-Magic Zone has lost it's Rune cost and can now be placed from range. It is our raid CD option but it comes at the cost of a personal CD which is a pretty steep cost. However, if you can afford to drop Purgatory or Lichborne for it, it is a good raid CD. Since 5.4 it now reduces a fixed amount of damage but fades a lot faster now so make sure you time it correctly.



Tier 3 - Chilblains, Asphyxiate, Deaths Advance


Chillblains Victims of your Frost Fever disease are Chilled, reducing movement speed by 50% for 10 sec, and your Chains of Ice immobilizes targets for 3 sec.
  Chilblains allows us to kite (combos nicely with Roiling Blood) and root mobs. If you are on add duty, consider speccing this even if you are not required to kite mobs. Blood Boil's CD (8.3 secs in the worst case) is shorter than the duration of Chilblains (10 secs) so as long as you use every Blood Rune on BB you can keep mobs permanently snared. That gives you the option to back off if your health drops too quickly so you can give your healers some time to catch up or let your Death Runes regen to Death Strike. Just be aware that doing this will sync up the mob's swing timer if you move back in which can open you up for some big burst damage (that is, if it didn't already sync up from AoE stuns anyway). Also note that you can use Chains of Ice as a ghetto-stun if you root a melee mob and stay out of it's range (which worked really well on Shamblers when they enraged on the Lich King encounter). Do note that the mob will try to hit anyone that is in range which will generally be melee so either taunt (which forces it to try to attack you - which it can't so it ends up doing absolutely nothing) or watch the melee get hit in the face. Your choice though I am a firm believer of letting Darwin sort it out.
Asphyxiate Lifts an enemy target off the ground and crushes their throat with dark energy, stunning them for 5 sec. Functions as a silence if the target is immune to stuns. Replaces Strangulate. 30 sec cooldown
  Asphyxiate turns Strangulate into a 1 min CD interrupt/stun that doesn't cost resources. Consider speccing this for boss fights that require regular interrupts so you got something to fall back on when someone misses his turn on the interrupt rotation.
Death's Advance Movement speed increased by 30%. Cannot be slowed below 100% of normal run speed. 30 sec cooldown
  Death's Advance improves our otherwise lackluster mobility. Not only does the passive 10% boost stack with run speed enchants, the on-use sprint also allows us to move out of The Fire™ faster. It also lets you help out your healers on things like Frostflake or even just with moving from pack to pack in Challenge modes. As thel east situational of our Tier 3 talents, I expect this to be specced often.



Tier 4 - Death Pact, Death Siphon, Conversion


Death Pact Drain vitality from an undead minion, healing the Death Knight for 50% of their maximum health and causing the minion to suffer damage equal to 50% of its maximum health.
  Death Pact is generally going to be our default choice. It's off the GCD, heals for 50% max health and Raise Dead's CD has been adjusted to 2 min to match Death Pact's. In terms of burst healing, nothing in this tier comes even close. Great CD all around.
Death Siphon Deal X Shadowfrost damage to an enemy, healing the Death Knight for 100% of damage dealt. 1 Death Rune cost.
  Death Siphon is not worth it for survival on non-gimmick encounters since it competes with Death Strike for Runes. That said, it is not without worth because there are bosses that take bonus damage which inflates the healing DSi does (and it becomes comparatively better if the boss does not melee at all or very rarely). For example, 2xDSi will heal you for 110k with 120k AP and the 5% spell vulnerability debuff which is generally less than a DS plus Blood Shield but on a boss like heroic Wind Lord Mel'jarak who has phases where he takes 600% (!) extra damage every now and then you are looking at a 385k heal per Rune - which is simply amazing (consider glyphing Vampiric Blood to boost the healing even more). The fact that he also starts hitting harder during that time and you have to play without Death Pact during the non-vulnerability phases may or may not push DSi ahead in terms of survival. Additionally, Death Siphon is our best damage per Rune ability at ~67k AP or more with a Tier 14 normal weapon - which is very easy to achieve (look here for more detailed AP break points with various weapon item levels), all the while adding some non-trivial healing on top. While DSi is pretty niche for survival, it is our go-to talent for anything that requires that bit of extra DPS in situations where we can spare losing Death Pact and are able to weave in some Death Siphons at the expense of Death Strikes.
Conversion Continuously converts Runic Power to health, restoring 3% of maximum health every 1 sec. Only base Runic Power generation from spending runes may occur while Conversion is active. This effect lasts until canceled, or Runic Power is exhausted. No cooldown.
  Conversion has one thing going for it: It can potentially offer more overall healing than Death Pact, however it does so slowly over time and while eating into your RP (it disables Scent of Blood RP generation while it is active to boot). While you can still boost your RP generation by comboing it with AMS, you still have to question the worth of doing so. If you use AMS on something like a breath anyway, do you really need more healing just then or is AMS sufficient to keep you alive (the answer is generally "no")? Additionally it cuts into your Death Strike availability since it pretty much stops your Rune regeneration from Tier 5 by eating up all your RP. That's not even considering the fact that burst healing is generally more likely to keep you alive against burst damage (which is what kills tanks) and not consistent yet low healing.


Tier 5 - Runic Empowerment, Runic Corruption, Blood Tap


This has been a controversial tier throughout Beta so let me preface that your playstyle is going to make a bigger impact on this choice than the advantages/disadvantages they have in a given encounter. If you simply perform better with a specific talent even if another is theoretically better, stick with it. We are not DPS; we can afford to sit on our Runes when the need arises which can make a difference between a talent that gives you 0.45% of a Rune on average per Rune Strike versus one that gives you 0.4% of a Rune much smaller than for DPS classes. In the end, timing your DS (if needed) and coordinating your CDs will make a bigger difference than any of these talents.
With that out of the way, let's get to the advantages and disadvantages for each talent for those that are comfortable with ether choice:


Runic Empowerment When you land a damaging Death Coil, Frost Strike, or Rune Strike, you have a 45% chance to activate a random fully-depleted rune.
  Runic Empowerment offers the highest theoretical Death Strikes/Runes per minute if gamed. However with the removal of Cata-Blood Tap a single proc does not improve our survival anymore: You need to get an even number of procs to DS with. In the longterm this doesn't mean anything but for the short term this can be problematic though Plague Leech can alleviate this problem a bit. In addition, do keep in mind that DS/min is not the be all, end all metric. The timing is just as important and sometimes you will sit on Runes (avoidance streak, low incoming damage etc) so the advantage RE has may or may not even out (though being able to get the Runes faster to sit on them is valuable in itself). Generally, the two alternatives will be better since they do not promote a gameplay where having fully exhausted Runes is the only way to make use of it.
Runic Corruption When you land a damaging Death Coil, Frost Strike, or Rune Strike, you have a 45% chance to activate Runic Corruption, increasing your rune regeneration rate by 100% for 2.5 sec. (The 2.5 sec number is affected by haste; the more you have, the lower the value)
  Runic Corruption has the advantage that every single proc matters since it speeds up the regen of all FU/D pairs at once but offers the lowest Rune return of all talents. While a single proc is only moving your next DS closer by 2.5 seconds per Rune (2x5 seconds for 2 procs; compare with RE which gives you 2x8.3 secs worth of Runes per two procs) this can be the difference between being able to DS right now as opposed to not at all because you might be dead just when you second proc would have occured. For short term, RC will generally be more reliable than RE for this reason even though it will fall behind on average/long term. Also, due to the fact that Runc Corruption will always be effective even if you only have the first set of Runes regenerating, RC allows you to hold a fully refreshed second Rune pair indefinitely without wasting RC procs - which makes timing Death Strikes in some cases easier than with the alternative talents (bB dD dD is a good state to be in to respond to damage after all). As a bonus, RC gives us the best theoretical DPS while we do our normal tanking rotations since it also speeds up Blood Rune regeneration. Our rotational damage has been massively shifted from Heart Strike to Death Strike, which makes gamed Runic Empowerment the best DPS talent now.
Blood Tap Each damaging Death Coil, Frost Strike, or Rune Strike generates 2 Blood Charges, up to a maximum of 12 charges. Blood Tap consumes 5 Blood Charges to activate a random fully-depleted rune as a Death Rune.
  Blood Tap offers the highest reliability of all Tier 5 talents since every Rune Strike will generate Blood Charges so there is no bad RNG on procs at all (but in return, neither can there be good RNG so getting a bonus Death Strike after only 2 Rune Strikes is out - unlike with RE where it can happen). In addition, BT allows you to store your proc'd Death Strike as a self-buff to be used when you really need them. Build them during damage lulls so they can be utilized during damage spikes (either encounter specific ones like the stacking Zon'ozz damage buff or even just during your avoidance streak to use when all swings happen to land later on). However, BT pays for it's reliablity having a consistently long gap inbetween proc'd Death Strikes though you can alleviate these problems a bit with Plague Leech and BT gaming. If you have no trouble dealing with the unmodified 8.3 Rune speed (for obvious reasons it won't help you when you die while stacking up the Blood Charges ), then BT will suit you well to combat spike damage. As a bonus, Blood Tap is the only Tier 5 talent that procs on While you can macro Blood Tap into your Rune Strike, I recommend against this because it defeats the whole purpose of storing the Runes until really needed. If you do not want to store the charges then you are better off playing with either RE or RC anyway. Blood Tap will always try to turn one of your Blood Runes into a Death Rune if able to and is the only Tier 5 talent that procs on Death Coils that were used for healing or shielding. Very handy to refresh your Blood Charges stack if you can't get to the mob(s) in time.
Check out the discussion we had over these talents starting from this post.


Tier 6 - Remorseless Winter, Gorefiends Grasp, Desecrated Ground


Remorseless Winter Surrounds the Death Knight with a swirling tempest of frigid air for 8 sec, chilling enemies within 8 yards every 1 sec. Each pulse reduces targets' movement speed by 15% for 3 sec, stacking up to 5 times. Upon receiving a fifth application, an enemy will be stunned for 6 sec. 60 sec cooldown.
  Remorseless Winter offers a 6 second AoE stun which is pretty good. In addition it can also be used as snare and the talent synergizes well with Chilblains to reset mobs if you trapped yourself while kiting. Keep in mind that kited and stunned mobs will sync up their swing timer when they can reach you again so be careful about that. I expect to see this used often in Challenge modes because it's amazing for shutting down incoming damage on trash.
Gorefiend's Grasp Shadowy tendrils coil around all enemies within 20 yards of a target (hostile or friendly), pulling them to the target's location. 60 sec cooldown.
  Gorefiend's Grasp offers us some more mob control. The most obvious use of this talent is to move mobs to you or your co-tank - though be aware that GG does not taunt mobs. This is actually a good thing: You can place GG on a ranged player while you have aggro on them to give yourself some breathing room; now they have to walk all the way back to you while you are taking no damage at all (bonus points if you put a glyphed DnD inbetween them and you). Naturally, this talent also synergizes well with Chilblains (and, as with RW above, mobs that reach you at the same time will sync up their swing timer as well). A mouse-over macro to use on friendly targets is recommended so you don't have to deselect the mobs. And lastly, remember that GG will also interrupt any mobs that were casting (some mobs will just recast the same spell once they land but for some others the spell will go on CD - figure out which mob does what for maximum benefit). This talent is surprisingly on the GCD.
Desecrated Ground Corrupts the ground in a 8 yard radius beneath the Death Knight for 10 sec. While standing in this corruption, the Death Knight is immune to effects that cause loss of control. This ability instantly removes such effects when activated. 2 min cooldown.
  Desecrated Ground let's us break all form of CCs except snares and roots. While this is a pretty niche talent for PvE, there usually are a few bosses here and there that can CC players. One example is Windlord with Amber Prison (which technically does not get cast on tanks but you can still get hit by it if the debuffed melee doesn't move away from you in time). It's really quite a shame that it does not break roots and snares since these debuffs are much more likely to hit players but even then the talent will be good on anything it's allowed to work on. This talent, too, is surprisingly on the GCD.


The abbreviated version


No explanations given and some caveats/niche uses will be excluded to simplify things. If you want the full explanations, please read the more detailed evaluation above (if you got anything to add, please check the detailed breakdown above in case it's already mentioned).

Tier Comments
1 Plague Leech for single target, Roiling Blood if you are assigned to adds fulltime or for a significant amount of time. Unholy Blight is not as useful in general.
2 Lichborne for a strong active CD, Purgatory let's you use healing CDs like LoH/Death Pact as damage reduction CDs and is generally useful if there is a chance of a non-trivial overkill amount (~200-300k+), Anti-Magic Zone if a raid CD is required.
3 Chilblains if you are on kiting duty (combo with Roiling Blood and Remorseless Winter or Gorefiend's Grasp if possible), Asphyxiate if you need a single target stun or a ranged, resource free interrupt on a 1 min CD, Death's Advance if you need mobility or you have no need for stuns or kiting.
4 Death Pact for a great burst healing CD, Death Siphon is a trade off between Heart Strike's damage and Death Strike's survival boost but is generally worse than either, Conversion is generally not worth it.
5 Runic Empowerment will theoretically give you the most Runes/min but a single proc gives you nothing and it promotes having all your Runes on CD to proc it, Runic Corruption is less susceptible to bad RNG, passive and every single proc helps, Blood Tap is the most reliable and can be used to combat spike damage if you can build charges during damage lulls but has the highest average gap inbetween potential "free" Death Strikes.
6 Remorseless Winter if you need an AoE stun or snare, Gorefiend's Grasp for some mob control (either combos well if you are kiting with Chilblains), Desecrated Ground for anything that CCs you though it unfortunately doesn't work on snares and roots which are by far the most common debuffs in PvE.

Gameplay & Priority


We do not have a set rotation like many other classes. What we have is more akin to a priority and our gameplay is very Death Strike centric.
Pretty much everything we do is about optimizing Death Strike, either directly with Tier 5 to increase how often we can Death Strike and indirectly with CDs that let us survive the intervals between Death Strikes more reliably (i.e. Death Pact, Lichborne etc).
Even things like Roiling Blood are picked up for AoE because ideally they help us do enough threat so we don't have to use our Death Runes to hold threat and use them to - you guessed it - Death Strike instead.

In case you wanted an actual priority list, here is a simplified version for single target:
1) Death Strike when needed.
2) Keep up Weakened Blows with Outbreak and/or Blood Boil through Scarlet Fever.
3) Rune Strike so you can Death Strike more.
4) Use your Blood Runes on Soul Reaper or Heart Strike depending on mob health.
5) Use Crimson Scourge procs (DnD > BB).

This may look pretty dull if you put it like this but in practice, optimizing 1) and 3) is much more engaging than it looks. That's in addition of doing as much damage as you can without negatively affecting your survival.

For multitarget, get initial aggro with Death and Decay, spread diseases with Pestilence or Blood Boil if you have Roiling Blood and use your Blood Runes on Blood Boil instead.
Unfortunately on AoE, the odds are stacked against us. If we have to use more than a Blood Rune every rune cycle (8.3 secs without T5 procs), we start cutting into our survival since we have to use Death Runes to fuel the Blood Boils instead and cannot use them to Death Strike (this is especially pronounced on anything with streaming adds like on Heroic Spine). So our goal is try to keep using Death Runes for Blood Boil/Death and Decay to a minimum on hard hitting mobs while still grabbing aggro on all of them which can be a problem. Thankfully, we have been given some tools to deal with this: We can save a Crimson Scourge proc if we know adds are incoming or when we move from pack to pack in Challenge modes which helps us save the Rune for Death and Decay.
Additionally, Remorseless Winter helps us stun the mobs so we can regen some of our Death Runes if we were forced to use them to pick up the mobs. And if it gets really bad, we can even kite them with Chilblains to buy us even more time.
We still have it pretty bad compared to the other tanks but it's atleast better than in Cataclysm - provided the adds can be slowed and/or stunned anyway.

Glyph Evaluation


Glyph of Festering Blood is, along with Glyph of Pestilence, another good and powerful glyph for AoE tanking. It offers superior burst threat/damage on new spawns and even with Roiling Blood it is a minor DPS increase because the first Blood Boil which spreads the damage does not get the +50% damage done bonus. Unfortunately this means that for AoE we only have one free glyph slot left so I do hope that Glyph of Pestilence might go baseline soon.

Glyph of Regenerative Magic is fantastic and I expect this to be one of the glyphs that you will rarely if ever remove since there is no drawback in having this (except losing a glyph slot, obviously). This glyph should replace Glyph of Anti-Magic Shell barring few circumstances because they affect each other negatively - so do not use them both at once. With Regenerative Magic you don't want to reach the absorb cap as quickly so you can get more CD reduction out of it. Ideally you will use AMS to survive the burst without utilizing the full duration so it doesn't absorb minor, incidental damage (i.e. on breath abilities which deliver the damage every 0.5 secs you don't necessarily have to pop AMS for the first tick unless not doing so will kill you) so that you may use AMS more often. This glyph will also provide a minor DPS increase since you will now be able to gain RP more often. If you want to be really clever you could also use a /cancelaura macro for AMS but I would consider that overkill for most purposes. :V

Glyph of Loud Horn and Glyph of Swift Death are both utterly worthless for us and not worth slotting under any circumstance over the other alternatives.

Glyph of Anti-Magic Shell increases AMS' absorb percentage to 100%. This is useful if there is a single big hit that you need to absorb and where you don't need AMS to last for the full 5 seconds to protect you from debuffs. Also, fully absorbed damage will not expend a Bone Shield charge so that's a nice bonus.
With the introduction of Glyph of Regenerative Magic we will not slot this much if at all anymore since it is generally inferior.

Glyph of Icebound Fortitude turns IBF into a 3 sec 50% DR CD with a 90 sec cooldown. You will generally use this on bosses that require you to CD through just a single big hit that happens more often than every 3 minutes, like Impale on Madness. If you time it right, you can even reduce the subsequent melee swing with this, too.
Just make sure you actually get to use IBF more often during the encounter that you glyphed it for or the glyph becomes pointless.

Glyph of Death Grip is a pretty straight forward glyph. Slot it whenever you feel you need a slightly longer range on Death Grip. This is probably going to be one of our few default glyphs on encounters where we simply have no use for the more specialized ones.

Glyph of Death and Decay is pretty handy for kiting. More details here.

Glyph of Shifting Presences could be useful on tank swap encounters where you need to leave Blood Presence or risk pulling aggro again (the new Vengeance makes it really hard for a tank with 0 Vengeance to outaggro one that has 100k+ AP). That said, if you need your 3 glyph slots for something else, chances are you will just stop attacking until the new tank got enough Vengeance. It's a pretty niche glyph for Blood PvE.

Glyph of Icy Touch gives us an offensive dispel which is pretty great. How great depends on the raid composition you run with. If you are the only dispeller it's obviously more useful than if you had other classes who could dispel for you. That said, it may still be advisable to glyph this if you feel you can spare the Rune to help out since sometimes your healers might be busy and miss the dispel (and it let's your DPS keep up their DPS rotation without wasting the GCD - we can generally spare them more easily). Do keep in mind that if you run Runic Corruption, being on dispel duty will unsync your Runes.
On challenge modes though? This glyph s going to be very handy.

Glyph of Pestilence gives us a range increase on Pestilence. Useful for kiting with Roiling Blood and generally just dealing with spread out packs of mobs.

Glyph of Vampiric Blood let's you trade some EH for increased healing done on yourself. How useful this is depends on the content you run, more specifically if it's 10 man or 25 man. The EH boost in 10 mans is generally more useful because bosses hit less hard so unglyphed Vampiric Blood gives you more EH relative to the boss' damage than it would for a 25 man tank. Additionally, 25 man tanks usually have more healing on them so the increased healing taken is more useful for them. Just keep in mind that glyphing this makes VB even more of a proactive CD than reactive.
Also, our CDs that scale with max health will be slightly stronger with unglyphed VB (i.e. Death Pact 0.5*1.25*1.15=71.8% vs 0.5*1.4=70%) is but in return something like Death Siphon and Lichborne will be better with the glyphed version.

Glyph of Outbreak removes the CD on Outbreak but makes it cost 30 RP. If you end up using Plague Leech more often than once a minute, consider speccing this since paying 30 RP to get up diseases and Weakened Blows (if it naturally ran out; PL does not remove it) again is much less punitive than using 2 Runes for it.
Glyph this also when you notice your Outbreak's CD cannot keep up with the pace you move from pack to pack in 5 mans - which I assume will be the case for Challenge modes.

Glyph of Dancing Rune Weapon Come 5.4 this is not a trap glyph anymore since the RP cost of DRW got removed. Still, there are ways to boost your burst threat that do not take up either a glyph slot or reduce your damage done such as pooling Runes and making use of the taunt buff so if you can solve your threat issues with that, do so. If not, the glyph will help you out but make sure you unslot it when you don't need it anymore.

Glyph of Death Coil gives us some group/raid utility by allowing us to shield a friendly unit. While the shielded amount could be higher (it uses the same formula for the Death Coil shield as it does for damage - unlike Death Coil heals that get a 350% multiplier), it is not tied to the Lichborne CD and is still a respectable 60k absorb at 120k AP - which is still a 10% max health shield for most tanks in heroic T14 gear.
That said, you don't have to use it on your co-tank exclusively and the 60k makes a bigger impact if used on healers or DPS. In fact, this versatility makes this glyph pretty great for any encounter that requires your raid members to survive unavoidable damage every now and then (like Hour of Twilight).
As a bonus, a Death Coil used this way will refresh and stack up your Blood Charges if you specced Blood Tap. Pretty handy just for that alone.
I recommend using a mouseover macro for Death Coil so you don't have to deselect your targets and lose auto attacks.

Glyph of Mind Freeze is generally not something you will want on boss encounters; most bosses have fixed cooldowns on their spells and will start recasting them once that CD is up (though sometimes they take a few seconds to cast even if the spell is ready but they will never do it earlier than their fixed CD either way). Depending on what the spell cooldowns happen to be you will either need one or more interrupts to keep that spell from going off and the glyph won't change that.
On the other hand, a 1 second shorter interrupt might help on trash and Challenge modes since caster mobs there usually will cast their spells the moment the lockout ends so being able to interrupt more often is useful. Unfortunately though, the 10 RP cost and the fact that you can keep non-boss caster mobs locked down for a pretty long time if you really want to by alternating the 15 second Mind Freeze with a variation of Death Grip, Gorefiend's Grasp/Remorseless Winter and Asphyxiate/Strangulate diminishes the worth of the glyph there as well.
Honestly, I don't see much use for it in PvE - certainly nothing that would justify the RP cost and, more importantly, the glyph slot.

Glyph of Strangulate is in similar to Glyph of Mind Freeze and will not do anything on casts with fixed CDs that bosses tend to have (aside from the fact that they are not silencable, anyway). However, unlike Glyph of Mind Freeze, Strangulate has no added opportunity cost and is actually useful on Challenge modes and other trash mob because it is part of the whole chain of things we can do to keep the mob(s) locked down. It's just a pity the glyph doesn't move Strangulate off the GCD like Silence and any other interrupt because that would be even better (yes, in an ideal world Strangulate would be off the GCD baseline but at this point it's time to accept that it will probably take another expansion for that to happen - something we should be well used to by now ). 5.2 removed the GCD on Strangulate, yay!
Regardless, solid choice for anything you can silence.


Glyph of Path of Frost is the one only two Minor Glyph to make the cut into the evaluation because it can actually have an impact on raid and dungeon performance - as small as it is: it helps you deal with abilities that knock you into the air. While most of them are technically supposed to be avoided to begin with (i.e. Pillar of Flame or Magma Jets) it doesn't hurt to have this as a safety net. That's in addition to when you cannot avoid getting knocked into the air anyway, like Hurricane.
There really is no reason to not have this slotted even for Engineers.

Glyph of Resilient Grip is the other Minor Glyph that could be useful in raiding if there is anything like the Meteors from Ragnaros again.
Note that your target needs to be both immune to the taunt and the grip portion or the glyph will not kick in.

[h2] Glyph Recommendations[/h1]
There are some glyphs that you will use very often and as such they are close to mandatory. Here they are:
For single target: Glyph of Regenerative Magic
For AoE: Glyph of Festering Blood and Glyph of Pestilence.


Macros


Set the icon to ? for all of these and the icon will automatically update to the relevant ability unless specifically mentioned otherwise. You can name these however you want.

Mouseover Gorefiend's Grasp
This macro will cast Gorefiend's Grasp on any friendly mouseover target. If your mouse is not over any friendly unit or unit frame, it will default to casting Gorefiend's Grasp on your target instead (the macro will not work on mouseover hostile targets so there is no chance to accidentally pull the wrong pack/mob).
Use this so you never have to deselect your target and interrupt your auto attack.
#showtooltip
/cast [target=mouseover, exists, help, nodead] Gorefiend's Grasp; Gorefiend's Grasp
Whispering your Dark Simulacrum target
This macro is handy for encounters that include Mind Controls on your party members so you can request various abilities from them through Dark Simulacrum.
This macro does not work to actually cast the ability you receive with Dark Simulacrum. You will need to put a non-macro'd version on your bars to do that in addition to this one.
#showtooltip
/cast Dark Simulacrum
/run SendChatMessage("Dark Simulacrum on you!","WHISPER",nil,GetUnitName("target",1))
This is a modified version that whispers your mouseover so you don't lose your auto attack target or your selected target if you have no mouseover target (it has not been tested yet though).
#showtooltip
/cast [target=mouseover, exists, nodead, harm] Dark Simulacrum; Dark Simulacrum
/run SendChatMessage("Dark Simulacrum on you!","WHISPER",nil,GetUnitName("mouseover") or GetUnitName("target",1))
Death and Decay targeting
This macro prevents accidentally cancelling the targeting reticule of DnD by pressing the keybind twice. The only way to make is disappear is to either right click or use another ability.
#showtooltip
/cast !Death and Decay
Anti-Magic Zone targeting
The same thing also works for AMZ.
#showtooltip
/cast !Anti-Magic Zone
Lichborne plus Death Coil healing in one button
This macro makes using Lichborne self healing a little easier. It will trigger Lichborne and fire a Death Coil right at you if you had a free GCD. Any subsequent press will continue shooting Death Coils at yourself until Lichborne runs out.
Does not deselect your target nor interrupt your auto attack.
#showtooltip Lichborne
/cast !Lichborne;
/cast [@player] Death Coil
Mouseover healing Death Coil
This macro will attempt to heal your mouseover target or selected target if friendly. If your target is hostile, it will Death Coil at him instead. Just as with the Gorefiend's Grasp macro, the mouseover will not work on hostile targets so there is no chance to accidentally pull anything you didn't want to.
Use this to heal both yourself (if you don't want to use the Lichborne macro above), other Death Knights with Lichborne, your minions and other players if you glyphed Death Coil - all without deselecting your target.
#showtooltip
/startattack
/cast [target=mouseover, exists, help, nodead] Death Coil; Death Coil
Mouseover Soul Reaper
This macro lets you score the useful Soul Reaper haste buff more easily by allowing you to cast it on your mouseover target once it is low on health (i.e. low health trash/adds) without making you drop your real target (i.e. the boss).
#showtooltip
/startattack
/cast [target=mouseover, exists, nodead, harm] Soul Reaper; Soul Reaper
Mouseover Raise Ally
This macro let's you resurrect a player without having to deselect the target you are currently tanking by using a mouseover. This will also cast Raise Ally as usual if you don't want to use the mouseover function by targetting the player you want to resurrect.
#showtooltip   
/cast [@mouseover,help] Raise Ally; Raise Ally
Cancelling Hand of Protection/Sacrifice quickly
I suggest making a macro to remove either of these buffs at will since trying to click them off in the heat of the battle would take too long or be too distracting,
Hand of Sacrifice because you might not want to keep it damaging the Paladin who cast it on you once HoSac absorbed whatever you wanted it to.
Hand of Protection because you will generally only use this to reset stacks on physical debuffs while still tanking or when you get trolled by your co-tank. If you aren't quick enough to cancel the buff the mob(s) you are on will just attack whoever is next on threat.
(You can add pretty much any encounter specific buff that you might want to cancel here as well - the macro will still remove them all if able to.)
/cancelaura Hand of Protection
/cancelaura Hand of Sacrifice
/cancelaura Path of Frost
/cancelaura Flash Freeze
In the case of canceling Hand of Protection, you can even macro it into one of your rotational abilities as long as you remember you have it there because sometimes you don't want to cancel HoP early (i.e. mobs will still try to attack if taunted through HoP and we can chain two taunts in a row).
For example, here is what I used for Halfus heroic (this even works if you don't have enough RP for Rune Strike):
#showtooltip
/startattack
/cast Rune Strike
/cancelaura Hand of Protection
/cancelaura Path of Frost
/cancelaura Flash Freeze
Keybinding encounter specific buttons
This macro will emulate encounter specific buttons like Dream on Madness and Heroic Will on Ultraxion so you can hide them via an addon (Bartender 4 can do it for example) and put them on your normal bars so you can keybind them more easily.
This should keep working for similar abilities in MoP.
/click ExtraActionButton1
Dismiss minion from Control Undead and summon your own ghoul
This macro will dismiss the minion you got through Contol Undead and let you summon your ghoul to sacrifice him.
#showtooltip Raise Dead
/run PetDismiss()
/cast Raise Dead
Dismiss minion from Control Undead and recast Control Undead on it (or another target)
This macro will also dismiss the minion you got through Control Undead and will immediately recast Control Undead on your target. This is useful to refresh the Control Undead duration on the enslaved mob if there is a risk of it running out mid-combat. Note that this macro will always remove the Control Undead debuff on the minion even if you use it while you are not targeting an undead mob or if you use this macro during a global cooldown (as a mater of fact, I deliberately use it this way sometimes to dismiss the pet and summon my own ghoul so I don't have to use yet another macro to do this (see above) but YMMV.)
#showtooltip
/run PetDismiss()
/cast Control Undead
All purpose focus macro
This macro will set your mouseover target as focus. If you have no mouseover target, it will set your selected target as focus. If you have neither a mouseover nor selected target it will clear the focus frame.
Set whichever icon you like for this.
/focus [target=mouseover,exists][exists]
/stopmacro [target=mouseover,exists][exists]
/clearfocus
Increasing maximum camera distance
This let's you zoom out further than the default max setting whenever you feel like you want to see more than boss crotches need a better overview on the battle field to dodge various raid hazards.
/script SetCVar("cameraDistanceMax",50)
or
/console CameraDistanceMaxFactor 5

Addons


Here are some addons I consider invaluable for playing a DK optimally. If you think I missed an addon, PM me and I'll add it.

Rune-it-All
Rune-it-All let's you change your Rune display. You can pick between various designs and forms.

Magic Runes
Similar to Rune-it-All, this addon let's you change your Rune display.

Death Knight Monitor
DKM includes Runic Power tracking and disease timers as well as the Rune display.

Blood Shield Tracker
Blood Shield Tracker is very useful for displaying your Blood Shield size (including time left on it), estimated Death Strike heal and can even display other sources of absorbs on you like Power Word: Shield, Illuminated Healing and so on. The estimated Death Strike heal is generally not very accurate due to combat log lag though, so I wouldn't rely on that very much except for getting the minimum heal amount right.

Shield Tracker
Shield Tracker shows you all kinds of absorbs similar to Blood Shield Tracker but unlike BST, it can show the total absorb value not just on you but your target, focus or even a player whose name you added to be tracked. This is very handy for tracking absorbs on your co-tank (and squishier raid members) so you can time your Glyph of Death Coils more easily. Plus, it allows you to make an absorb bar for your own Anti-Magic Shield which BST cannot do (yet).

Auracle (De)Buff Monitor
Auracle can show the buffs and debuffs of pretty much anything (on yourself, your target, your pet etc). It also groups similar debuffs together in categories like Faerie Fire, Expose Armor, Sunder Armor and so on.

NeedToKnow
NeedToKnow lets you monitor specific buffs, debuffs and cooldowns, similar to Auracle above, but using timer bars instead.

ICDBars
ICDbars will track internal cooldowns for you. In our case this will be Will of the Necropolis and possibly trinket procs. Fortunately, Purgatory already debuffs you if it's on CD so you can use an addon like Auracle to track that.

Death Note
Death Note is invaluable in finding out how and why you (or your group members) died. It can show the combat log for up to 120 seconds before the death occured. Here is a sample pic (that Jazende character really should have played better there).

GrimReaper
GrimReaper is similar to Death Note but allows you to check the damage/healing sources and (de)buffs on the fly. Another advantage it has over Death Note is that you can link from it while the target is still alive - whereas with Death Note they need to be dead first.

RatingBuster
RatingBuster converts combat ratings in your tooltips into percentages, so that you have more meaningful information when comparing different items. It even includes diminishing returns for Parry and Dodge rating!

Action Bar Saver
Action Bar Saver let's you save and restore your action bar configuration. Handy for swapping between common talent setups and even works with Bartender.

OmniCC
OmniCC is an addon that adds text to items, spell and abilities that are on cooldown to indicate when they will be ready to use. In other words: it turns all the standard analogue cooldowns into digital ones. Works with pretty much anything.

LDB-Vengeance
LDB-Vengeance shows you the amount of AP you have from Vengeance while only using up little of your UI space. This is very handy for optimizing DPS and if you like looking at numbers in general, I suppose.

Broker Statistics
In the same vein as LDB-Vengeance, this addon allows you track your current total attack power (and other stats if you like). Use it along with LDB-Vengeance or just on it's own to optimize your DPS and Death Coil healing/shielding.

Weak Auras
WeakAuras is a powerful and flexible framework that allows you to display highly customizable graphics on your screen to indicate buffs, debuffs, and a whole host of similar types of information. It was originally meant to be a lightweight replacement for Power Auras, but it now incorporates many features that Power Auras does not, while still remaining more efficient and easy to use.

Attack Bar Timer (Mirror 1 Mirror 2)
Attack Bar Timer shows you the enemy's swing timer so you can time Death Strike more easily. A guildie and me modified it from the outdated version here. The "Attack bar" folder goes into World of Warcraft\Interface\ and the Attack bar.lua goes into the World of Warcraft\WTF\Account\\SavedVariables\ folder.
To unlock the timer, type /abar unlock and /abar lock to lock it. Does not work on dual wielding mobs.
There is no support for this because the original author appears to have abandoned it and I don't know more about LUA than simple trial and error.


Advanced


Timing Death Strike


Chances are, you have seen me mentioning "timing" or "managing" Death Strikes quite a few times throughout this guide. And chances are you also were thinking I am being very melodramatic about it because you just do fine without any timing.
And in most cases, you would be correct: you don't need to time Death Strike for every boss because there is little chance of tank death to begin with (and in these cases, you should be adding more DPS anyway. But that makes the cases where you get hit hard and you need to time Death Strike all the more important and it is on those bosses that you will be able to tell the difference in survivability between timing Death Strike vs using it on CD.
It is no secret that our baseline damage mitigation is one of the lowest of all tanks which in turn makes our active mitigation one of the most powerful - if not the most powerful (I'd rate Paladins as a close second with Shield of the Righteous though). With this comes the benefit of being able to tell a great Death Knight from "merely" a good Death Knight but also the risk of dying more easily because you mismanaged your active mitigation. And that's a good thing; if there is never a chance to fail, there is also never a chance to be better than the average.

So how do you determine when it is a good time to Death Strike and when you are better off waiting?
In general, we try to build the biggest Blood Shield by encompassing as much damage as possible in or Death Strike window so that it can last for as long as possible to let our Runes regenerate for longer and give our healers some time heal us up. At it's simplest form, we do this by watching the bosses swing timer* if he has no special attacks. If he does have special attacks (i.e. a breath or an instant melee strike) we will try to get that into the healing window as well for an even bigger Blood Shield.
This is the ideal situation.

However, in practice we also need to consider our current health: If the next melee or melee/special combo would kill us, we should Death Strike immediately if that will give us enough of a Blood Shield to survive. This rule supersedes everything else for obvious reasons.
For example, if you are fighting Warmaster Blackhorn and you know his Devastate melee special is going to land within the next 2 secs along with his auto attack hit and you simply don't have enough current health to survive the combo (and you aren't sure your healers will get you up in time), you are better off Death Striking right then and there instead of delaying it and getting a bigger Blood Shield later - because you might be dead by then.

*With the removal of attack speed debuffs, most raid bosses have a 1.5 sec swing timer. For us that means we can now fit up to 4 auto attacks (0s, 1.5s, 3s, 4.5s) into our Death Strike healing window as opposed to the 3 from Cataclysm (0s, 1.8s, 3.6s). In practice though, 3 hits will be more common due to latency since you only have a 0.5 sec grace window with 0 latency. So if you manage to get 3 hits in your Death Strike healing window, you are already doing pretty well and addon such as Attack Bar Timer will help you with that.

The effect of avoidance and low/high damage periods on our timing:
As mentioned earlier, we try to build the biggest Blood Shield to let our Runes regenerate for longer and give our healers some time heal us up but let's not underestimate the effect avoidance has here: It can significantly increase the time your Blood Shield will stay up if you get lucky but it can also do the opposite and make your Blood Shield last for only a short time if you get unlucky. In the long term, your average avoidance rates will balance each other out (25% avoidance doesn't mean you will avoid every 4rd swing on the dot, after all); some avoidance streaks might be followed by streaks where every single hit lands and it is our job to make sure we compensate for these streaks. We can do this by withholding Death Strike during avoidance streaks so that we can use them when we run into periods of zero avoidance. If you happen to run into cases where you are taking so much damage that you cannot cope with just Death Strike, use cooldowns; they are there for a reason and they will help you survive the time between Death Strike intervals.

The same applies if the boss has phases of low and high damage periods (Zon'ozz at low and high stacks, for example), simply treat the low damage periods as you would high avoidance streaks and the high damage periods as you would zero avoidance streaks.

With the way our Runes work we don't even lose anything most of the time by sitting on a Rune pair because we still have a second Rune pair regenerating. And even if you end up with both off CD, it doesn't matter because you are in a very good place to react to any form of upcoming damage.
Just keep in mind that incoming damage is not distributed equally due to avoidance and various boss abilities and that it is in or best interest to help even them out with smart usage of Death Strike and cooldowns.


Final notes: I strongly recommend gearing for accuracy because at times you will deliberately take as much damage as you comfortably can in your Death Strike window to get a big Blood Shield out of it. If you cannot guarantee that your next Death Strike will land, you will be in a very vulnerable situation and risk death.
If you cannot or do not want to gear for accuracy, keep in mind that mobs cannot avoid our attacks if they are casting so that is a great time to Death Strike if it coincides with lots of incoming damage (Nefarian's breath was pretty much ideal in that it gave you lots of damage to help fuel your Blood Shield with and because it was channeled so his avoidance dropped to zero).

Crithto, the adorable tanking dummy and Warlord Bloodhilt/High Marshal Twinbraid


With the release of the Mists of Pandaria, alliance players got the option of practicing Death Strike timing against the mobile tanking dummy called Crithto. He is a neutral mob with ~10 million health that wanders around the Stormwind garden and has a damage range from ~60k to 160k (including crushing blows) so he makes for good training if you can convince a healer to stick around with you (he is pretty slow and affected by nearly all forms of CC includng stuns and snares so you can reset him whenever you like).
Once we start outgearing him and reaching level 90, he should still be useful if you remove non-essential gear though we might find another mob that could act as tanking dummy by then (like Myzerian was in Cataclysm if you never did the quest that removed his invulnerability).

Once your gear improves and Criththo just isn't a challenge anymore, you can move on to Warlord Bloodhilt (prevent his charge by everyone being in melee range) for Alliance players or High Marshal Twinbraid for Horde players in the Krasarang Wilds. These have significantly more health than Crithto and hit harder as well.

The effect of Scent of Blood stacks on our gameplay


Simply put: It has none. You do not care about your Scent of Blood stacks when you determine the time to optimally Death Strike. It is still the incoming damage that dictates when to Death Strike because the Scent of Blood's bonus isn't that amazing.
While a 100% bonus at 5 stacks might sound good, it's easy to see that it is still subservient to how much damage we took in the last 5 seconds. Let's look at one extreme to help illustrate this:

If you took 0 damage within the last 5 seconds, your 5 stack Scent of Blood Death Strike would heal for 14% (twice the minimum heal) of your health which is 84k at 600k health. How much damage would we need to take to heal for that much without any Scent of Blood stacks? 84k/0.2 = 420k; that is ~2 melee swings at 200k damage and easy enough to achieve in your Death Strike healing window, especially once we consider the fact that Scent of Blood will stack up naturally to 2-3 stack just doing our normal rotation.

What Scent of Blood really does is reward us for things we should already be doing anyway: It will stack up higher the the longer your Death Strike gaps are which happens naturally if you run into an avoidance streak or if you aren't actively tanking. Basically, it helps you in scenarios you were already safe in to begin with (or in the case of avoidance streaks, with things that are out of control).

When to stack Blood Shield and when to let it drop


If Blood Shield only has enough absorb left that it will drop on the next boss swing, don't extend it. You are better off saving the Runes and waiting until you start taking more damage again.
During tank swaps, you can and should build a Blood Shield - but only if you are not tanking for a while so it actually pays off. Ideally, you will Death Strike at the last possible second so your Runes regenerate even while you are doing this (Blood Shield lasts 10 seconds, Runes regen at 8.3 seconds without any Tier 5 procs). Just to be clear, you aren't helping yourself if you spend 2-3 Death Strikes on minimum sized Blood Shield and then taunt back with your Runes on CD; chances are the boss will just break through the bubble in one or two hits and now you are sitting there helplessly.

Effects that don't work with Death Strike/Blood Shield the way you'd expect


In some scenarios, Death Strike will heal for less than you would expect just by looking at how much damage you received. This is because some effects ignore Death Strike's reactive healing, such as:
  • falling damage (because it's is based on your max health and can never exceed 100%)
  • some boss abilities that do damage based on your max health (such as Decimation Blade which hits you for 90% of your max health)
  • overkill damage (Purgatory)

Using Death Strike specifically only to counter these effects will result in a minimum sized heal unless other sources of damage managed to make it bigger.

In addition, while Death Strike is affected by both increased and decreased healing done/received effects, Blood Shield ignores these when it calculates your Blood Shield size (that includes Vampiric Blood, too).

Gaming Runic Empowerment


For survival, we want Runic Empowerment to only proc Frost, Unholy or Death Runes for us so that we can use these to fuel more Death Strikes. Unfortunately, Runic Empowerment on it's own will not differentiate between fully depleted Runes and can return Blood Runes - unless you game it. Here is how:


This is the base layout for the Runes. I am using a block format since that groups the respective Rune pairs visually.

We have to create Rune states where only one one of our Blood Runes is on CD* but atleast 3 Death/Frost/Unholy Runes so that our Rune Strikes can only proc the Death, Frost or Unholy Rune. Most of the time, you will have all 4 of these Runes on CD because Death Striking puts them on CD 2 at a time. Typically, it will look like this:

A Rune state that is ideal for RE gaming because it will only proc Death Runes

Every Rune Strike now has a 45% chance to proc a Death Rune and no chance at all to proc the Blood Rune (because it's pair is still off CD). Note that Runic Empowerment always has a 45% chance regardless of how many Runes pairs you have on CD. It doesn't matter that 2 Death Rune pairs on CD - the chance is still 45%.
In this particular scenario, we now have 4 seconds to use our Rune Strikes and no longer. Once the top row of Death Runes cools down, we have to start anew and try to recreate this Rune state again before we continue using Rune Strikes.

*While you can simplify things by never using Blood Runes at all, I recommend against doing this. Not only is this a waste of DPS but you also lose 10 RP per unspent Blood Rune. Practice with atleast one Blood Rune always on CD and I promise that after a while you can game Runic Empowerment so well that you will even be able to put both Blood Runes on CD at once because you know you can afford to wait until one has cooled down before you use Rune Strikes - all without capping on Runic Power.

Gaming Blood Tap


Unlike Runic Empowerment where you are punished with a lower effective proc rate on Frost, Unholy and Death Runes if you don't game it, Blood Tap will always have an effective 40% proc chance and it will always return Death Runes. So why would you need to game it?
It's a fair question so let's look at Blood Tap's weakness: It takes a pretty long time to return enough Runes to get a Death Strike off. With Rune Strike generating 2 charges and the "bonus" Death Strike requiring 10 charges to use, that's a minimum of 5 GCDs just spent on Rune Striking. In reality generating 10 charges will take longer because we can't store 150 RP to dump all at once.
While gaming does not actually reduce the required RP and GCD cost long term, in the short term we can set up our Runes to store a Death Rune indefinitely which will speed up our response time once we manage to reach said Rune state (basically it let's us frontload the setup time so we can benefit from it later).

Here is how you do it: once you get your first 5 charges, make sure both your Blood Runes are on CD and use Blood Tap once (the state of your other Runes does not matter since Blood Tap prefers to refresh a Blood Rune as Death if able to). Once you did this, you should look at something similar to the picture below and you keep building charges up as usual. RP loss should be minimal as long as you make sure you use the normal Blood Rune on CD - just make sure you don't accidentally use the Death Rune.


This is once again our base layout for illustration purposes.



How it should look with a stored Death Rune.

Now if we need to Death Strike, we only need 5 more charges to do it. Additionally, if we manage to store up the maximum amount of 12 charges, we can actually fire off 2 Death Strikes with a compartively low setup time:
First Death Strike immediately through the stored Death Rune + 5 charges which leave 7 charges over. Then you can Rune Strike twice more and you will have another 11 charges which is enough to get another Death Strike only 2 GCDs after the first one - if you managed to bank the 60 RP to pull this off anyway. Alternatively, Plague Leech can function as another 5 charges here instead.
Afterwards you have to set the whole thing up again. Ideally, you will use low damage periods for this so you can benefit from BT when the damage starts ramping up again.

For encounters with an add component where you alternate between single target and multi target on a fixed timer, you could also use this to bank the Death Rune for a Death and Decay so you don't desync your Runes - all while still carrying around the 12 charges on top.

Note that Blood Tap can stack charges even with Lichborne Death Coil heals and through the absorb shields from Glyph of Death Coil.


That said, I just want to stress the fact again that we don't actually change the effective Rune return of Blood Tap by gaming this.
What we do gain though is the ability to respond faster to burst damage once the setup is done and even store a maximum amount of 17 charges like this (12 from the normal charges plus the 5 that are effectively stored in the Death Rune). If you include Plague Leech, the number can even go up to 22 charges.

Gaming Runic Corruption


While using the word "gaming" in this context might be a bit of a stretch, there are some things we can do to get the most ouf of Runic Corruption (plus, I wanted it to fit with the other two titles <_<).
One of the features of Runic Corruption is that it is really hard to waste procs. All you need to do is have one Rune set on cooldown, looking a bit like this:


This is once again our base layout for illustration purposes.


Our ideal state: Allows us to benefit from Runic Corruption procs while still holding a Death Strike in reserve.

The benefit of such a Rune state is that you have a full Rune set ready to go when you need it and yet you can still Rune Strike for Runic Corruption procs without wasting any of them - just as long as you make sure one Rune set actually stays on CD. If you compare this with Runic Empowerment, the advantage is obvious: If you game Runic Empowerment, you have to pick between proccing Runes or holding Runes for Death Strike since doing both at once is not possible; using Rune Strike with Runic Empowerment in the Rune state above will waste any Runic Empowerment procs you could have gotten because there are no fully depleted Runes.

This is why you should try to keep your Runes in this state if the boss encounter requires any Death Strike timing at all.

CD tricks


A few of our CDs have some nice interaction with each other and other less known uses. Here are a few examples:

Dancing Rune Weapon
You can use Dancing Rune Weapon to interrupt or build threat on ranged mobs (some of the time, anyway): Cast it on a ranged mob and then either do your normal rotation on the melee mobs to build threat on it or Mind Freeze any of the melee mobs just when the ranged mob casts. Dancing Rune Weapon will copy the interrupt and the mob will run to you.
In addition, you can use DRW to apply Strangulate on two different targets like this, too.
And finally, DRW will even help heal yourself during Lichborne because it even copies all Death Coils cast on yourself. Unfortunately, DRW will not help you apply the Death Coil shields from glyphed Death Coil though.

Here is a list of abilities that it can copy:
Heart Strike, Death Coil (both the heal on yourself and damage but not the glyph absorb), Death Strike, Rune Strike, Pestilence, Icy Touch and Plague Strike, Chains of Ice, Mind Freeze, Strangulate, Necrotic Strike, Outbreak and Death Siphon.
While it can also copy Soul Reaper, it only does so in a limited fashion: if the Dancing Rune Weapon despawns before the Soul Reaper debuff expires, the delayed damage portion will not trigger. Amusingly, it will even receive the haste buff you get if you kill a mob before Soul Reaper can trigger just as you would.

Here is what it cannot copy:
None of our talents besides Death Siphon (so no Roiling Blood, Chilblains snares, Asphyxiate stuns etc), Army of the Dead, Raise Dead, Death and Decay, Dark Simulacrum. Aside from that it, cannot copy the obvious stuff like survival cooldowns or Path of Frost etc.

What this means for us in practice:
If we want to make use of Dancing Rune Weapon below 35% for DPS purposes, we have to try and apply Soul Reaper atleast 5 seconds before Dancing Rune Weapon would despawn if we want it to do damage. In addition, if we want to do double diseases, we need to apply them after we cast Dancing Rune Weapon and then spread them with Pestilence even if we have Roiling Blood or Unholy Blight specced. We should also be aware that speccing Asphyxiate will remove the ability for it to ever silence since it will not even cast Strangulate anymore.

Lichborne
Speaking of Lichborne, did you know that you can get healed by any Death Knight if you have Lichborne active? This is handy if you run with a Death Knight co-tank or other Death Knight DPS with preplanned LB usage (since it's rather hard to make use of this if people don't know it's coming in advance).

Bone Shield
Bone Shield works well with Blood Shield and any other absorb shields. As long as the damage is fully absorbed, Bone Shield will not lose a charge but it will still reduce the damage by 20%. In most cases this will be due to Blood Shield absorbing some of the melee abilities fully but even glyphed Anti-Magic Shell can help here, either by absorbing a big hit fully or allowing you to absorb minor hits fully on low hitting auras (i.e. small amounts of Corrupted Blood will expend charges unless fully absorbed with glyphed AMS).
And just to get this out of the way: There is no synergy between avoidance and Bone Shield even though Bone Shield is not expended on avoided hits - because Bone Shield doesn't actually do anything for you on avoided hits.

Army of the Dead
Using Dancing Rune Weapon and an avoidance trinket/glove tinker will increase the damage reduction you receive from Army of the Dead by 20%+. This is very useful for Impale-like hits.
This ability will reset for every raid encounter so there is no excuse not to use it for the damage reduction (or the buffed damaged!) if you need it.

Empower Rune Weapon
This ability has become slightly more powerful in Mists because we now have a 1 sec GCD which means we could double Death Strike more easily now if that is required. Also, don't understimate how much of a difference this CD can make when you get low on health and use it to get in an emergency Death Strike. In many cases this will actually add more survivability/EH than popping Icebound Foritude because IBF gets worse the less health you have when you use it unlike Death Strike/ERW which is only based on how hard you got within the last 5 seconds.
And, like Army of the Dead, this CD will even reset for every raid encounter now. Pretty awesome.

Death Pact
This is rather minor but keep in mind that you can summon the ghoul even if you don't plan to Death Pact right afterwards. Most of the time you can predict when to use DP so you can save yourself the global CD on Raise Dead and just get him up earlier.
(This is really just something we pretty much had to do in Cataclysm since the ghoul was on a 3 min CD and DP on a 2 min CD so you got used to summoning the ghoul early to get it on CD and use DP when the ghoul was close to expiring.)

Frost Presence
Frost Presence now reduces the duration of all forms of CC by 20%. This could potentially be useful on some fights where you can switch to Frost Presence to mitigate the CC but chances are you will only use this while you are not actively tanking, i.e. you could switch into Frost Presence just before Halfus' AoE stun so you can interrupt the Nova afterwards when your co-tank taunted off of you or even when you were currently tanking if you can manage that.
There may or may not be any situations where we can use this on but I figured I'd put this here for completeness' sake anyway.
If you do end up using it, consider also glyphing Shifting Presences.

Soul Reaper


On first view Soul Reaper appears to just be another great way to do damage, but check out the buff you get if the mob dies before the delayed damage procs: Soul Reaper. This buff is equal to 1 Runic Corruption proc (+50% Rune regen for 5 secs = +100% Rune regen for 2.5 secs) and that's not even counting the hasted melee swings you will be doing for more Scent of Blood procs.
So in a way, Soul Reaper gives us an option to convert a Blood Rune into more survival at the expense of damage. This is not something you will do very often because it requires adds that are close to death (unless maybe in Challenge modes, where the opportunities to do this are higher) but this is something to keep in mind on encounters that do throw low health mobs at you and where you could use that survival boost.

Kiting


With the new talents and abilities we received in Mists of Pandaria, we can now kite mobs pretty well. Not as well as a Frost Death Knight but not all that much worse either. Plus, we look more badass while doing it.

What you need:
You will need to spec Chilblains and Roiling Blood*. In addition, I recommend either Remorseless Winter or Gorefiend's Grasp - either have their advantages and I'll get to that in a minute.
Glyph of Pestilence and Glyph of Death and Decay are recommended. Give Glyph of Icebound Fortitude a try if you are in the habit of getting hit every now and then because you trapped yourself and needed a CD to run past the mobs.

How it works:
Pulling this off is actually not much different than our normal AoE rotation: Gather the mobs with Death and Decay, cast Outbreak and then spread the diseases with Blood Boil and you are good to go. Try to kite mobs in a way that one mob is slightly closer than the others but still out of melee range so you can Blood Boil it without getting hit (and if you do get hit, it should only be that one mob that hits you). From there, said mob will spread/refresh Chilblains.
The Chilblains duration is slightly longer than your base Blood Rune regen (10 secs and 8.3 secs respectively) so you should be able to keep the mobs snared indefinitely. Use Death and Decay if Chilblains somehow ran out with your Blood Runes on CD to buy you some time until you can Blood Boil again.
Once you have familiarized yourself with the barebones rotation, there a few things you can do to improve your kiting:

Use Remorseless Winter/Gorefiend's Grasp to force a reset or get some breathing room to pick up new adds: if you managed to get yourself trapped you can hit RW, stun the mobs, run past them and resume kiting (just keep in mind that RW does not stun immediately so you need to plan this ~5 secs in advance). The same applies if new adds spawned and you need some breathing room to pick them up.
Gorefiend's Grasp can also help with this, either by letting you bunch up the slowed mobs with the fresh ones for easier disease spreading or by letting you GG the old adds on one of your raid members further away from you and then picking up the new mobs before the old mobs come back (put a glyphed DnD inbetween you and them if you like to keep them away even longer).
Ultimately, which of the Tier 6 talents you choose is up to you. GG can keep mobs away for ~3-4 seconds if you pull them to a far away raid member but it doesn't stun and requires said raid member to be in position.
RW will not work on mobs you cannot stun obviously but it does not require any other setup either if it does work.

Use Death Grip on a single mob to get some Vengeance and Death Runes: This is as straightforward as it sounds; grip the mob close to you, Death Strike it to turn your Frost and Unholy Runes into Death Runes for more potential Blood Boils and get hit a bit to stack up Vengeance (the single mob should pose no threat to you after all). Once the other adds are close enough you can use this mob as your Pestilence Beacon and Blood Boil off of it and resume kiting.

I made a video back in early Beta when we got to play with Chilblains for the first time. This is without any Tier 6 talents and no Death and Decay (because that kept crashing me to Windows). Take a look here if you want to see how the kiting should look roughly.


*Roiling Blood is technically not mandatory because Scarlet Fever will refresh diseases and Chilblains on it's own so once you get your Pestilence off in melee range you can theoretically kite the mobs as usual from there. However, if you happen to miss a mob and let diseases run out or if new mobs add, you will need to go back into melee range to Pestilence oto n them again which will get you hit. Roiling Blood makes things so much easier that I strongly recommend you spec it.

Getting the most out of Dark Simulacrum


Mind Control and Dark Simulacrum:
It's not a big secret that Dark Simulacrum isn't usable in many encounters but that doesn't mean we can't tip the scales in our favor when we can, does it?
This trick works on any encounter that has a Mind Control component to it: simply cast Dark Simulacrum on a player who is about to break Mind Control and instruct him to use an ability you want. In our case this will generally be a defensive cooldown like Divine Protection but even utility abilities like Paladin Hands, Hymn of Hope or offensive abilities would work just as well.
Here is one example with Divine Protection.
Refer to the macro section if you need a Dark Simulacrum macro that whispers the people you cast it on. Also consider using [Glyph of Hungering Cold] if you need the lower cooldown.


There are a few things you need to be aware of before you choose what to copy:
- Abilities that scale from spellpower such as Ice Barrier, Shadow Bolt or all kinds of heals will also copy the spellpower from the target you copy it from. Basically, the better their gear, the more you get out of these abilities.
- Abilities that scale from either SP or AP (Paladin spells generally) will scale from our AP. And yes, that does include Vengeance.
- Abilities that scale from max % health/mana (i.e. Hymn of Hope) will always work the same regardless of your current gear or that of your target.
- Abilities with a cast time will be instant for us once copied but channeled abilities will still need to be channeled.
- Abilities with long cooldowns like Doomguard with a 10 min CD cannot be repeatedly copied because even the copies obey their normal cooldown: Basically, you cannot cast Doomguard twice in a row even if you copied it from two different Warlocks because the copied spell still has a 10 min CD (the game will still let you copy the second cast, but you won't be able to use it because the "Spell is not ready yet.")
- Abilities that are modified by glyphs will be copied as if they were not glyphed. For example, Divine Protection will always give 40% magical damage reduction even if your target is using [Glyph of Spiritual Attunement] (presumably, the same applies for talents affecting copied abilities).
- Abilities that require a resource we do not have (Holy Power, Soul Shards etc) will not work. Neither will abilities like Avenger's Shield because we cannot equip shields.
- Try not to negatively affect the person's performance you are copying from. Asking your Ret Paladin to give you Divine Protection is not a good idea if he might die because you made him put it on CD when he needed it for a telegraphed boss AoE attack for example. For obvious reasons, neither should you ask for Tranquility to be used if there is absolutely no reason to cast it to begin with. (That doesn't mean you cannot or should not ask for it ever; just be aware of the encounter mechanics so you can copy abilities without negative effect.)


A list of powerful spells that can be copied


(This list focuses on the more niche and/or powerful abilities so if a spell isn't listed in here, doesn't mean you cannot copy it. Abilities such as Flash of Light and Pyroblast work as well obviously and are always a nice backup if none of the abilities in this list are applicable.)

Tranquility Heals 5 nearby lowest health party or raid targets within 40 yards with Tranquility every 2 sec for 8 sec. Tranquility heals for 9037 (+ 83.5% of SpellPower) plus an additional 1542 (+ 14.2% of SpellPower) every 2 sec over 8 sec. Stacks up to 3 times. Channeled, 8 min cooldown.
  Tranquility is the Druid version of Divine Hymn and usable by all Druid specs. Refer to the entry for Divine Hymn for more information.
Evaluation: Druids are not a very good target for us to copy spells from. Aside from Tranquility they offer little else that we could reasonably use in raids (so Entangling Roots and Cyclone, while technically copyable, are outright out) - especially once you consider that Ironbark and Barkskin cannot be copied.


Ice Barrier Instantly shields you, absorbing (4,580 + 440.1% of SpellPower) damage. Lasts 60 sec. While the shield holds, spellcasting will not be delayed by damage. 25 sec cooldown.
  Ice Barrier gives us another on-demand absorb shield that scales with the Mage's gear. Unlike with Power Word: Shield there is no risk to negatively affect your healers by debuffing yourself with Weakened Soul either. The short CD of 25 seconds also makes it very likely that the Mage can afford using this spell just for us and still have it up for himself later when it might become necessary.
Temporal Shield Envelops you in a temporal shield for 4 sec. Damage taken while shielded will be healed back over 6 sec. This spell is usable while stunned, frozen, incapacitated, feared or asleep, and is not on the global cooldown. 25 sec cooldown.
  Temporal Shield scales extremely well with incoming damage and is one of our best abilities to copy from all classes (other abilities might be more powerful but they are also tricker to use and/or have a longer CD). If you can pull it off, this should combo well with Purgatory. And just as with Ice Barrier above, the short CD should make it very likely to be available to copy.
Molten Armor Increases your spell critical strike chance by 5%. Reduces all physical damage taken by 6%. 3 sec cast.
  Molten Armor is another solid choice for us with it's 1 minute duration once stolen. The spell has no cooldown either so a Mage will always be able to provide this if necessary though I do recommend [Glyph of Frost Armor] for your Mage if he can afford it to drop the 3 second cast to a 1.5 second cast to minimize the DPS lost. Speaking of DPS: the 5% spell crit bonus is nothing to laugh at either and it's all on top of the damage reduction, too.
Mage Armor Increases your Mastery by 3000. The duration of all harmful Magic effects used against you is reduced by 35%. 3 sec cast.
  Mage Armor is the second armor that is worth copying. While the reduced magic debuff duration is a nice bonus, it's the 3000 Mastery bonus we are after. Like Molten Armor it can be glyphed to a 1.5 sec cast for the Mage and will last 1 minute for us. Most of the time, Molten Armor will be the better choice though.
Evaluation: Mages offer great survival benefits on a short cooldown which should allow them to give us these spells to copy without any danger to them. Temporal Shield is going to be more useful in situations where you take a lot of damage because it scales with incoming damage and Ice Barrier in lower damage situations because it is a static absorb. While Molten Armor and Mage Armor are less powerful than these two abilities, they last a full minute which is useful if you don't need the mitigation right after the Mind Control phases (we can only store the buff for 20 seconds after all) but later on (up to 80 seconds later if you use it just before the Dark Simulacrum buff runs out).
Note that Ice Block and Alter Time cannot be copied. (Frost Armor can be copied but there are better alternatives, especially since the haste buff doesn't work on our Rune regen.)



Divine Protection Reduces magical damage taken by 40% for 10 sec. 60 sec cooldown.
  Divine Protection is a pretty good damage reduction CD against magical damage on a short CD. Divine Protection is a good choice for us to copy if your Paladin can spare it.
Hand of Protection Places a Hand on a party or raid member, protecting them from all physical attacks for 10 sec, but during that time they cannot attack or use physical abilities. Cannot be used on a target with Forbearance. Causes Forbearance for 1 min. 5 min cooldown.
  Hand of Protection is a pretty situational ability and may not be always a good idea to request just after a Mind Control (a Clemency specced Paladin can mitigate this though by allowing him to use it again later and still hand it out). How useful copying this Hand is going to be will highly depend on the encounter.
Hand of Purity Places a Hand on the friendly target, reducing the damage of harmful periodic effects by 70% for 6 sec. 30 sec cooldown.
  Hand of Purity has the same issues as Hand of Protection above but atleast it has a much lower cooldown to compensate.
Hand of Sacrifice Places a Hand on a party or raid member, transferring 30% damage taken to the Paladin. Lasts 12 sec or until the Paladin has transferred 100% of their maximum health. 2 min cooldown
  Hand of Sacrifice gives us a nice single target raid utility spell. While the chances of a Paladin casting it right after a Mind Control are probably not very high, we can still request it from a Ret Paladin if required since we are more likely to be able to handle the incoming damage than they will without resorting to Divine Shield/Hand of Protection.
Seal of Insight Fills you with Holy Light, increasing your casting speed by 10%, improving healing spells by 5% and giving melee attacks a chance to heal you for (0.15 * AP.15 * holy spell power) and restore 4% of base mana.
  Seal of Insight gives us a stream of healing that scales with our AP and lasts for 1 minute even though you will not see a buff icon. Unfortunately, the 5% extra healing does not work with our abilities (not even Death Coil healing) and the 10% casting speed only works for Death Gate. That said, Seal of Insight is very easy for Paladins to provide because it has no cooldown so it makes a good default choice if you cannot make use of the other abilities. (Note that Seal of Truth can also be copied if you want to add DPS instead; it should offer you the highest damage per Dark Simulacrum cast out of all Paladin abilities.)
Evaluation: Paladins offer a variety of spells for us to pick from. Divine Protection and Seal of Insight are nearly always useful and copying the Hands could situationally be powerful as well. Unfortunately Divine Shield, Guardian of Ancient Kings, Lay on Hands and Devotion Aura cannot be copied.




Hymn of Hope Restores 2% mana to 3 nearby low mana friendly party or raid targets every 2 sec for 8 sec, and increases their total maximum mana by 15% for 8 sec. Maximum of 12 mana restores. Channeled, 6 min cooldown.
  Hymn of Hope gives us a pretty good utility CD. Depending on how tight healer mana is, being able to duplicate this spell could alleviate healer troubles quite a bit. This ability is also usable by any spec so you can even copy it from Shadow Priests (if you want to minimize the DPS loss, they can stop channeling immediately and the spell will still copy). Note that this is a channeled ability so using it along with a personal cooldown to mitigate the loss of avoidance is advisable. Alternatively, you may be able to channel while you are not currently tanking.
Divine Hymn Heals 5 nearby lowest health friendly party or raid targets within 40 yards for 7987 (+ 154.2% of SpellPower) every 2 sec for 8 sec, and increases healing done to them by 10% for 8 sec. Channeled, 3 min cooldown.
  Divine Hymn gives us yet another option for a raid CD. It is channeled just like Hymn of Hope above so the same precautions apply. Unfortunately, while Divine Hymn is pretty powerful, it is also more situational. Unless Mind Control phases are followed by periods of high AoE/group damage, using this spell just for us to copy makes little sense.
Power Word: Barrier Summons a holy barrier on the target location that reduces all damage done to friendly targets by 25%. While within the barrier, spellcasting will not be interrupted by damage. The barrier lasts for 10 sec. 3 min cooldown.
  Power Word: Barrier is yet another raid CD we can copy. It is not channeled but it is just as situational as Divine Hymn so unless using it just after the Mind Control phases makes sense, you shouldn't request this spell.
Guardian Spirit Calls upon a guardian spirit to watch over the friendly target. The spirit increases the healing received by the target by 60%, and also prevents the target from dying by sacrificing itself. This sacrifice terminates the effect but heals the target of 50% of their maximum health. Lasts 10 sec. 3 min cooldown.
  Guardian Spirit is a powerful CD but has the same problem as Power Word: Barrier. Do not copy it unless the Priest was going to use it after a Mind Control phase anyway.
Pain Suppression Instantly reduces a friendly target's threat by 5%, and reduces all damage they take by 40% for 8 sec. 3 min cooldown.
  Pain Suppression is a great damage reduction CD but has the same problems as Guardian Spirit; it is unlikely you will be required to use it just after Mind Control phases.
Fear Ward Wards the friendly target against Fear. The next Fear effect used against the target will fail, using up the ward. Lasts 3 min. 3 min cooldown.
  Fear Ward can also be copied. Could be useful for anything that includes fears.
Mass Dispel Dispels magic in a 15 yard radius, removing all harmful spells from each friendly target and 1 beneficial spells from each enemy target. Affects a maximum of 10 friendly targets and 10 enemy targets. This dispel is potent enough to remove Magic effects that are normally undispellable. 15 sec cooldown.
  Mass Dispel allows us to help with dispelling. Could be useful if we want to help our healers and save them some mana.

Evaluation: Priests offer a plethora of (raid) cooldowns for us to copy. Except for Hymn of Hope though, most of them are not very likely to be used right after a Mind Control. However, for the rare cases where they are, copying them will be even more important. That said, consider prioritizing Priests with Dark Simulacrum for Hymn of Hope alone if mana becomes tight and you can afford to pass up on defensive/offensive cooldowns from other classes.
Note that while Leap of Faith and Power Word: Shield can be copied, there is very little use to do the former in a raid and the latter can negatively impact the healing of of your Priests. Power Infusion cannot be copied.



Just listing this for completeness' sake but Shamans offer nothing of value. Neither totems, weapon enchants or their damage reduction CDs can be copied (copying totems worked pre-5.0 atleast). While Dark Simulacrum does work on Earth Shield, you immediately lose the buff if you get hit - and you don't even get the healing.
If you absolutely have no choice but to copy Shaman spells, take solace in the fact that their damage spells (i.e. Chain Lightning and healing spells (i.e. Healing Rain) do work though these spells aren't particularly powerful compared to what you can get from the other classes so I don't recommend copying from Shamans if you can at all avoid it.




Unending Resolve The Warlock hardens his skin, reducing all damage taken by 40% and preventing his spells from being interrupted or silenced for 8 sec. 3 min cooldown.
  Unending Resolve is very similar to Icebound Fortitude and a great spell to copy if you need more survival. As a matter of fact, Unrending Resolve was modelled after Icebound Fortitude (it had the same sound/animation in early Beta) so it is only fair we take back what was ours to begin with. (Seriously though, it's good. Copy it whenever you need another damage reduction CD.)
Summon Doomguard Summons a Doomguard to attack the target for 1 min. Doomguard will cast Doom Bolt until it departs. 10 min cooldown.
  Summon Doomguard is basically our version of Summon Gargoyle except smarter and more handsome, plus it deals more damage to boot. For optimal use, your Warlock should pop a spellpower trinket before summoning it so we can copy the buffed version since the damage the Doomguard does will scale with the Warlock's gear and Dark Simulacrum snapshots his stats the moment it is copied which allows our copy to benefit from the trinket full time. Ideally you will want to use this ability during the execute phase but even outside of it, two Doomguards should outdamage a single Doomguard during the execute phase anyway.
Dark Soul: Knowledge / Dark Soul: Instability / Dark Soul: Misery Your soul is infused with demonic knowledge, increasing your Mastery by 18000 / Critical Hit Chance by 30% / Haste by 30% for 20 sec. 2 min cooldown.
  Dark Soul is a very powerful cooldown from Demonology, Destruction and Affliction specced Warlocks respectively. The huge Mastery bonus is very nice for survival while the Crit will increase our DPS. The Haste cooldown on the other hand should offer the best possible DPS while still giving us a survivability boost to boot. Which Demon Soul buff you will get obviously depends on the Warlock specs you have in the raid but if you can pick, I'd recommend Misery for the DPS/survival boost unless you really need the Mastery from Knowledge (this isn't to say that Instability is bad by itself, it's just that Haste will offer more DPS and it cannot compare to Mastery by virtue of doing something else entirely). The relatively short CD of 2 mins will also make it pretty likely that the Warlock can save using this ability for until after he gets Mind Controlled much more easily than Doomguard for example.
Soulstone When cast on living party or raid members, the soul of the target is stored and they will be able to resurrect upon death. If cast on a dead target, they are instantly resurrected. Targets resurrect with 60% health and 20% mana. 10 min cooldown.
  Soulstone's worth heavily depends on how it interacts with the combat resurrection rules in raids. If it is counted against the 1/3 limit for 10 man and 25 man respectively, then it has very little use. If for some reason the Dark Sim'd Soulstone can be used as a bonus, then the applications should be obvious (comboing it with Purgatory being one of them). Note that the copied Soulstone buff will only last for 1 minute.
Evaluation: You really can't go wrong with copying spells from Warlock. They offer a fantastic damage reduction CD with Unending Resolve and great DPS cooldowns with Dark Soul and Doomguard. As a matter of fact, I expect them to be a primary target to get multiple Dark Simulacrums cast on them whenever they get Mind Controlled just because of their powerful DPS cooldowns.


Maximizing Blood DPS


I have been trying to make a point throughout this guide about the importance of tank DPS; with the new AP values from Vengeance we are a serious source of DPS - in both 25 man and 10 man. This portion of the guide is meant to help you increase your DPS so that you can become an even better tank.
And it needs to be said again: Do these things only if they don't affect your survival negatively. You are not helping anyone if you get yourself killed because you overexerted yourself on the DPS front. (You are especially not helping me if I am stuck explaining to your Raid Leader in PMs why I apparently compelled you to get yourself killed. )

What you want to do is do the most possible DPS while still comfortably surviving anything the boss throws at you. Here are a few things we can do to increase our DPS:

- Runic Empowerment will offer the best DPS because it returns the most Runes per Rune Strike. It is followed closely by Blood Tap because it let's you use our highest damage per Rune ability more often: Death Siphon.
- Use your DPS CDs properly. Army of the Dead and Raise Dead now do really good DPS and update their stats dynamically so you will want to cast them when you have high Vengeance and don't expect to lose it for a while (i.e. don't use them on the pull if you want them do as much DPS as possible).
- Learn how to use Dancing Rune Weapon like a real DPS cooldown. In essence, this CD gives us a 100% damage boost for 12 seconds - which, I believe, makes it the best DPS cooldown in the game. Ideally, you will want to use DRW with as much RP banked as possible without capping and with as many Runes off CD as possible without wasting regen time (in this case, one set of Blood, Frost and Unholy Runes would be off CD and the second set would be close to being ready). That way you can unload once DRW is cast for maximum effect. If available, you could even use Empower Rune Weapon for even more damage. If Outbreak is available, it's a good idea to cast it as well with DRW up. If you can, makes sure that you cast DRW during execute range as well so that it will copy your Soul Reapers (do not delay DRW if it means you lose a full use of DRW though; getting 4 casts is better than 3 even if one is during the execute for example).
- Do not to sit on Crimson Scourge procs so there is no chance that the proc will overwrite itself (Death and Decay > Blood Boil in terms of damage).
- Try to use Soul Reaper on CD once the boss has 35% health left. Save Blood Charges or sit on a Rune with Runic Empowerment if you have to; being able to use Soul Reaper on CD is going to be worth it in terms of DPS.
- Make the most out of Vengeance; our levels of Vengeance will make a huge difference on our DPS (there are addons that will track your Vengeance). Therefore you need to abuse this mechanic as much as possible if you are going for maximum DPS. This includes things like not popping your CDs like DRW or the ghoul before you got high enough levels of Vengeance which generally means you don't use them on the pull (same caveat as above: if you risk losing a full use of DRW or the ghoul, don't wait).
- Harking back to the above, try standing in fire to increase your Vengeance or even get hit by things you are not meant to - as long as you can survive them obviously.
- Use burst potions as DPS would. One before the pull and the second during Lust/DRW/Execute range ideally.
- Use Death Runes for Soul Reaper below 35% health and Death Siphon otherwise (Heart Strike if you do not have Death Siphon specced; note however that the damage difference between a Death Strike and two Heart Strike is very small now so it might not be worth the mitigation loss for the low DPS return): Most bosses do not hit hard all the time so you can comfortably skip a Death Strike every now and then and Heart Strike with those Runes instead. It is important that you find out how the damage is distributed throughout the fight to make use of this. For example, let's look at Heroic Nef. In the early parts of phase 1 there is only Onyxia to tank, all your healers are still with you and no adds need to be picked up. The damage you take here is pretty low so you can Heart Strike without any problem. Once the adds have spawned and the Nef tank plus his healer(s) move away you can revert to your normal survival rotation until P2 where you can go back to your DPS rotation. And in P3 you go back to the survival rotation.
- And finally, consider swapping in some DPS gear if you can afford to. I recommend Haste centric gear because our high AP values make stats that increase our DPS by a % better than Strength that increases our DPS by a static amount and it increases our Rune regen on top - which is a nice survival boost as bonus. I especially recommend trinkets that can you combo with your Dancing Rune Weapon (the +Strength glove tinker from Engineering is also nice).

Death Siphon AP break points


Given high enough AP, Death Siphon will outdamage Necrotic Strike, Heart Strike and Death Strike for single target DPS. This value is highly dependent on the weapon you have so you can either use this chart or calculate the break point for yourself to find out which ability will do the most damage at various AP levels (check the addon section for addon(s) that can show you how much AP you have at a given time):

Note that per Rune, Necrotic Strike will always do more damage than Heart Strike or Death Strike regardless of your AP and Heart Strike will always do more damage than Death Strike.
Necrotic Strike damage has been nerfed to 100% so ignore the affected parts for now.

Weapon (sorted by ilvl) Death Siphon > Necrotic Strike
(H, TF) [Uroe, Harbinger of Terror] (24464) 252360 AP
(H) [Uroe, Harbinger of Terror] (23134) 232960 AP
(N, TF) [Uroe, Harbinger of Terror] (21673) 211649 AP
(N) [Uroe, Harbinger of Terror] (20495) 194465 AP
(H Scen) [Immaculate Pandaren Greatsword] (18842) 170353 AP
(H) [Shin'ka, Execution of Dominion] (18157) 160361 AP
(H) [Starshatter] (17011) (LFR) [Uroe, Harbinger of Terror] (17011) (BS T3) [Lionheart Executioner, Reborn] (17011) 143645 AP
(N) [Shin'ka, Execution of Dominion] (16086) 130152 AP
(N) [Starshatter] (15070) 115332 AP
(LFR) [Shin'ka, Execution of Dominion] (14251) 103385 AP
(LFR) [Starshatter] (13351) [Mogu'Dar, Blade of the Thousand Slaves] (13351) 90257 AP

Do keep in mind that there is no difference in weapon damage between weapons of the same item level. So if you happen to own a [Bo-Ris, Horror in the Night] you can still use the values of [Uroe, Harbinger of Terror] and vice versa.


The math (with an item level 522 weapon):
Spoiler


If your weapon is not listed here, you can still find out the breakpoints within seconds: Simply click this link and replace '20495' with the average weapon damage of your weapon and hit enter.

Symbiosis


Druids of all specs received a new spell in Mists of Pandaria called Symbiosis. This spell gives the Druid and the player it was cast on a bonus ability and it doesn't matter which spec the Druid is - the other class always get the same ability depending on his own spec.

All tanks get an additional damage reduction cooldown out of it and ours is Might of Ursoc.

If you do not require the additional cooldown, make sure to decline Symbiosis if it would help raid to put it on another player. Sometimes having an additional Leap of Faith or Stampeding Roar is more important than tank survival (because you are doing just fine without it). In most cases however you will probably still get it since DKs give the casting Druid powerful abilities in return (AMS for Balance, IBF for Resto, Bone Shield for Guardian and... Death Coil for Ferals.)

You can find a list of all Symbiosis combinations here.

Self-evaluation


This portion of the guide is supposed to help you evaluate yourself and - ideally - help you become a better tank once you figured out the areas you can improve on.

Generally, if you want to improve it is because you keep dying or being (allegedly) "hard to heal". The first step is to find out if that is because you are doing something wrong or because your healers need to step up (or simply because you are doing the encounter wrong).
For that, you should look into installing Death Note from our addon section as it can show you all events up to 120 secs from your death. Once you did that, we can look at the death log:

Step one is to determine how fast you died: Did you die over a long time period and received little healing from your healers (i.e. just HoTs)? Did you go a long time (4+ secs) without any heals at all while actively tanking? That's usually on your healers and you should ask them about it - sometimes there is valid reason.
Did you die even while being actively healed (that means more than just HoTs)? In that case, check your last Death Strike amount. Was it a minimum heal and did you die within 5-8 seconds after that? If so, that is on you because you could have withheld that Death Strike until you actually started taking damage (remember, a min Death Strike generally means you were at full health to begin with).
Or did you maybe die in a shorter time frame even with a large Blood Shield up? In that case, look if you took a hit/debuff you were meant to avoid or if you were supposed to cooldown through it.
(If neither applies, you were probably tanking pre-nerf heroic Baleroc and got screwed by his auto attacks. )

Aside from Death Note, you can also use World of Logs to find out how well you are doing with debuff uptime and Death Strike timing.
This is a random report I pulled from WoL:

You can reach this page by selecting the boss in question on the third dropdown menu from the right and selecting the wipe/kill you want to look at. After that click on the "Players" dropdown and select Death Knights --> Your char. Then hit the "Healing by spell" tab. (If you want to check your disease/Scarlet Fever uptime, click on the "Buffs cast" tab instead and look at the Debuffs table there.)


The values that are of interest here to us are all in the Death Strike row:
The average Death Strike value will show you how well you timed your Death Strikes relative to the incoming damage. The higher this value, the better you did (compare it with your minimum heal value as well since that is your lower limit; the upper limit is whatever damage the boss can throw at you in a Death Strike window). The second value of interest is the Death Strike overheal value. The lower that value, the better.
In case you are wondering why we don't look at the Blood Shield values, that is because the Blood Shield size is affected by Mastery whereas the Death Strike heal is much more intimately tied to the incoming damage as opposed to the gear you are wearing.


Now keep in mind that this is all true for a hard hitting Patchwerk fight where you tank one boss full time without swaps. If the encounter involves tank swaps or he starts hitting you for low amounts, then your average Death Strike will go down because of the lower damage or because you started stacking a Blood Shield while you aren't actively tanking.
It is of utmost importance that you understand how the fight works before you make any evaluation of how good or bad a given Death Strike average value is. Additionally, some encounters do not require Death Strike timing at all because there is little threat of tank death. This does not mean you did worse there or anything and I certainly don't want this metric to be taken out of context and be twisted around like "Death Strikes per minute" one which somehow got turned into the universal and, apparently, only statistic to evaluate how good a given DK tank was.

And while we are on the topic of Death Strikes per minute: While a high amount is definitely not bad, the opposite is not necessarily true: What a high DS/min number shows is someone who knows how to game his Tier 5 talent and/or someone who got lucky with RNG. It does not directly translate to being good at Death Striking though someone who can game Runes well is also likely to be doing well overall - just don't mistake the cause and effect.

One more thing about Death Strike overheal values: Having a low overheal value does not necessarily mean we are more efficient to heal than other tanks. Keep in mind that your healers will still be healing you and if you manage to fully utilize the Death Strike heal by timing it correctly there is still a chance that that the next incoming heal(s) will (partially) overheal because of this, which lowers the overall mana efficiency. And the reverse is also true; if you have heals coming in just a split second before you Death Strike does not mean you messed up the timing. Your healers might just be that good (or they got lucky :P).
That said, this is not something we need to be concerned about anyway since tank healer mana is generally not a problem. I just want you to understand that it is not necessarily true that we require less healing than other tanks if you only looking at self healing/absorbs since that can mess up healer efficiency.

Encounter specific tips and tricks


Noticed Anti-Magic Shell working on a important debuff? Dark Simulacrum worked on something in the encounter? A particular talent or glyph proving to be exceptionally useful? All this stuff would go in here.
Grayed out icons are either not working or have not been tested so please try these out when you get a chance. Every Man for Himself is assumed to work on anything that Icebound Fortitude and Desecrated Ground work on.

Tier 14


Spoiler



Tier 15


Spoiler


Tier 16


Coming soon!

Whats new in 5.0?


General


- Raid bosses now ignore 4.5% of a tank's block, parry, dodge and chance to be missed. For us that equates to 13.5% less avoidance against a +3 mob. In return, plate classes had their strength to parry rating conversion improved.
- Spell hit, hit and expertise caps for raid bosses have changed. Read about it in more detail here. The short version is that we now require 7.5% hit and expertise (2550 rating each) to be melee and spell hit capped. If you want to remove boss parry as well, you would need another 7.5% expertise - but doing that is simply not feasible.
- All tanks are now utilizing active mitigation and the block tanks cannot cap block anymore. This is good for us since that means bosses won't have to drastically hit harder going from one tier to another anymore just to challenge them (i.e. T11 --> T12). That said, we still remain the tank with the most bursty damage intake.
- Vengeance has been reworked: The AP cap has been removed and it now calculates from unmitigated damage values (2% from physical damage and 5% from magical damage). Expect getting 100k+ AP just from Vengeance on hard hitting content.
- All Prime Glyphs are gone.


Class specific


- We lost the bonus 9% spell hit from Runic Focus and the expertise from Veteran of the Third War.
- Runic Power Mastery is gone. We are now capped at 100 max RP regardless of spec or Presence.
- Blood Worms now inherit our (accuracy) stats properly and Army of the Dead received a huge scaling buff in terms of damage. Army also received an indirect buff as damage reduction cooldown because of our increased avoidance from parry and dodge (remember that while bosses negate 13.5% of our avoidance, Army only cares about the absolute values so it is not affected by the boss level reduction).
- Death Strike is back to it's pre-4.2 incarnation: If it misses or is avoided, you don't lose the Runes but neither do you get the heal/Blood Shield. In return though, Death Strike cannot be parried anymore so once you gear for the spell hit cap it will always land (that's 7.5% Hit and Expertise each).
- Bone Shield and Dancing Rune Weapon are now off the GCD. The latter received a huge DPS buff and now functions as a +100% damage dealt cooldown for 12 seconds in addition to increasing our parry chance by 20%.
- Death Grip is now a 25 sec CD.
- Abomination's Might has been removed; Horn of Winter now provides the 10% AP buff instead.
- Outbreak is back to a 1 min CD. In return, we gained an improved version of Scarlet Fever that let's us refresh diseases with Blood Boil.
- Death and Decay lost it's bonus threat but in return Blood Boil damage has been significantly increased (especially so for Blood with it's bonus 40% from Crimson Scourge and the new AP values from Vengeance). Additionally, Crimson Scourge now allows us to proc a free Death and Decay though it will not reset the CD on it. Neither proc'd BB nor DnD will generate RP.
- We received an execute ability with Soul Reaper.
- Pestilence got it's 50% damage penalty for spreading removed. On top of that, disease damage has been increased.
- Necrotic Strike now costs a Death Rune which makes it slightly harder for us to keep up the Curse of Tongue's effect if we have to. Additionally, the effect now increases cast time by 50% instead of only 30% and it atleast lasts for 10 seconds even if the absorb portion is being removed by heals.
- Control Undead is our new, undead specific CC. It works on pretty much any mob that is vulnerable to other forms of CC (Shackle Undead, Hunter traps etc). Note that Death Pact will not work on this minion and Raise Dead will also be blocked while you still control it.
- Mind Freeze got it's CD increased to 15 seconds like all other 4-5 sec lockout interrupts and no longer costs Runic Power. Can be glyphed to a 13 sec CD with a 20 RP cost.
- Anti-Magic Shell now gives Runic Power baseline on magic damage absorption and can be glyphed to absorb 100% of the damage instead of the normal 75%. The conversion rate is 1 RP per 180 damage absorbed.
- We now have access to another cooldown with Might of Ursoc if there is a Druid in the raid willing to cast Symbiosis on us.
- Scent of Blood has been reworked. It now grants 10 RP on every successful melee hit and increases Death Strike's healing by 20% per stack, up to a maximum of 100% at 5 stacks. With the Improved Death Strike talent being removed, we would need 2 stacks to break even (0.2*1.4 = 28% vs the 29% from Cataclysm). Keep in mind that the increased healing from SoB is affecting the 20% from Death Strike so a 5 stack SoB at 100% increased healing would give us a Death Strike that heals for 40% (0.2*2=40%) of the damage taken and not 120% or something equally silly.
- On a Pale Horse is now baseline.
- Raise Ally's RP cost has been reduced to 30% and the target will resuurect with 60% health now. There is still no glyph to get this up to 100% though.

Baseline 1.0 sec GCD


This gets it's own section because the change is really just that good. Here is why:

- It directly boosts survival. Let's not mince words here, the 1 sec GCD is probably the biggest survival buff we have gotten so far in MoP. Why? We are primarily a CD based tank class and most of our CDs are used reactively (unless otherwise preplanned to align with telegraphed boss abilities); and this includes Death Strike. Having a faster response time to spike damage is a really good thing.
Think about how much easier it is to Death Strike twice (or even just once) inbetween boss swings now (assuming a 1.5 sec swing timer this wouldn't even be possible with the 1.5 sec GCD) either from saving Runes for it or with the use of Empower Rune Weapon because you are near death.
Think of how much easier it is to weave in Death Coil heals from Lichborne inbetween DS/RP generating abilities because we are less constrained by the GCD.
Think about Purgatory and the fact that we can fit in 3 GCD abilities before Shroud of Purgatory; you will generally use Purgatory reactively as well so being able to fit in a Death Pact and up three Death Strikes (with ERW if required) will be great) instead of the 2 we could only use with a 1.5 sec GCD.

- It sped up our AoE setup. We require Outbreak, DnD and Blood Boil (with Roiling Blood)/Pestilence just to get started and a lower GCD help with this. We are down to 2 sec setup time (Outbreak is assumed to be done from range) which helps quite a bit. Compare it to the Paladin who is done within a single GCD at 1.5 secs and we are definitely looking better than before with our 3 second setup time. Even if DnD is on CD we can more easily BB twice like this to secure mobs initially. This may not look like much, but it definitely adds up with the other benefits we gained.

- It helps in scenarios where you are affected by haste, either through different gearing (swapping in DPS gear for softer hitting bosses is not unheard of if you need to squeeze in some more raid DPS to get a kill), raid encounter buffs (i.e. Sinestra) or simply just when soloing in your DPS gear. In addition, using a full Heart Strike rotation also works much better with a 1.0 sec GCD and there are times you will use that rotation (moments where you are not actively tanking and DPS is more important than stacking Blood Shield, i.e. Nef P2).

- It makes Runic Empowerment gaming less punishing because it's easier to squeeze in Rune Strikes while all 4 Death Runes are on CD with the 1 sec GCD. It also made Blood Tap a very formidable choice for Blood because getting 10 stacks for a bonus Death Strike only required 5 seconds of RP dumping which was very relevant when you looked at Blood Tap's direct competition with Runic Corruption which would on average only need 2 seconds or RP dumping to shorten the gap between Death Strikes.

- We gained burst threat/damage.That's probably obvious, but think about it this way: We are balanced around doing x damage/threat over a given time period. With the 1.0 sec GCD (and given how Runes work) we can unload the lionshare of the damage at will whereas classes that fill every GCD will do their damage mostly evenly over a given time frame. This may sound obvious, but think about the advantages of this when you have to pick up a new mob or two and get aggro on it ASAP. Or when you need to some damage quickly on something (i.e. something takes bonus damage for a short time). We can now much easier save Runes and/or DRW to unload the damage/threat very quickly and maybe even use Empower Rune Weapon if required.

Frequently Asked Questions


Q: With Scent of Blood proccing off auto attacks, is dual wield viable again?
A: No, dual wield is still dead. Scent of Blood is based on a PPM mechanic and only procs from the the main hand weapon which equalizes the amount of procs you can get between a 2h and a faster 1h: 1h weapons have a lower chance to proc SoB whereas 2h's will always proc it. That's in addition to 2h's doing more DPS - which is something you don't want to sacrifice, especially for zero gain.

Q: Will Scent of Blood stacks change how we will play? Should I only Death Strike if I have atleast 2 or more stacks up?
A: No, SoB does not change how we play. You still respond to the incoming damage with Death Strike regardless of your SoB stacks. They are just a bonus.

Q: What should I spec? You never actually gave a link to WoWhead with preselected talents!
A: That's intentional. Our talents are situational enough that there is simply no way to make one spec that works for everything. Read the talent evaluation, play around with the choices and stick with whatever works best for you and your raid group.

Q: Runic Empowerment, Runic Corruption or Blood Tap?
A: There really is no quick way to answer this while still doing either talent justice. Please read this.

Q: I don't like Plague Leech but your guide recommends it for single target. What should I do?
A: While it is true that Plague Leech offers the most survivability, you need to know how to pull it off well. If you think you would do more harm than good with it, pick a different Tier 1 talent (like Unholy Blight for single target).

Q: You keep going on and on about timing Death Strike but I do just fine without timing Death Strike. What gives?
A: You aren't wrong, you can do well in many encounters by just using Death Strike on CD. However timing Death Strikes gets more important the harder a boss hits and the more likely you will die inbetween Death Strike intervals. I stress timing Death Strike because when it matters, it is all the more important. And let's face it, any boss you can do while machine gunning Death Strikes is not going to be a problem anyway.

Q: Help, I die a lot! What can I do to fix this?
A: Get an addon like Death Note and look at the last 10-20 seconds to find out what killed you. Did healers not heal you for a long time? Did you get killed while Death Strike was on CD? Did you die to something that you were expected to CD through?
Once you found out what went wrong, you can start fixing it.

Q: What stat should I stack, stamina or mastery? What about avoidance? I saw a Death Knight from a top guild stack X, should I also stack X?
A: Read this.

Q: How important are accuracy stats?
A: In terms of survival, they offer pretty little. Being spell hit capped however makes landing Outbreak easier which will avoid putting you in scenarios where you need to sacrifice a full Death Strike to apply them. However, the biggest gain from accuracy stats is that it improves your DPS quite a bit which is nothing to scoff at with uncapped Vengeance.

Q: In terms of avoidance, should I get Parry or Dodge? Which one diminishes less?
A: In general, you will want 2-3 more Parry rating than Dodge but it really depends on how much Dodge % you have. Refer to the stat weights section for further info.

Q: Which Runeforge should I use?
A: Stoneskin Gargoyle if you need the EH, Swordshattering otherwise. (Fallen Crusader for DPS.)

Q: You said that Roiling Blood doesn't do anything on single target but it still refreshes my diseases. What's going on?
A: Your diseases are not being refreshed by Roiling Blood but by our Scarlet Fever passive instead. Don't mix them up.

Q: If I have both Blood Shield and external absorbs like Power Word: Shield on me, which one gets absorbed first?
A: Power Word: Shield and the externals get used up first. There are addons that can track the non-Blood Shield absorbs that make this more obvious.

Q: My Death Strike heal gets increased by Vampiric Blood and other encounter specific buffs, why isn't my Blood Shield going up? Is that normal?
A: Yes, that's normal. While Death Strike healing is affected by Mortal Strike debuffs and +healing done/received buffs, Blood Shield ignores them (so we don't end up too good or too bad on encounters with +healing received/done and -healing received/done, respectively).

Q: Is the Sunflower really evil?
A: Yes.

Spoiler


Known Bugs


- Dancing Rune Weapon does not always stick to the mob you cast it on.


Special Thanks


- Big thanks to the people in #Acherus for helping me with my questions and testing things for me. A special thanks to fletchii for coming up with the Hipster Arthas pic.
- Thanks to everyone, who contributed and/or plans to contribute, be it through PMs or just posts. You guys rock. (Special thanks to Otou for helping out with lots of encounter tips.)
- Thanks to Jazende for always having such a great affinity to death, being dead, a useless corpse, bereft of life, deceased, departed, done for, expired, extinct, gone, gone to meet maker, inanimate, inert, lifeless, liquidated, perished, pushing up daisies and resting in peace. I couldn't have made that sample pic for Death Note without you.
- Thanks to Tyche for testing lots of spells with me for Dark Simulacrum. And Mystara because he begged me to include him here (he may have helped a bit with the Mage abilities).

Changelog


10.09.13 Updated for 5.4.
04.06.13 Updated Death Siphon break points. Apparently Necrotic Strike is not normalized so you need more AP to break even now.
10.05.13 Updated Death Siphon break points to incorporate the changes to Death Siphon, Heart Strike and Death Strike damage.
12.03.13 Updated the Tier 15 encounter specific tips.
05.03.12 Updated for 5.2. Encounter specific tips will follow as soon as we get more live data.
09.10.12 Added a Consumables section.
26.09.12 Added AP break points for Death Siphon and updated some stuff to reflect the strike damage changes.
16.09.12 Added a list of copyable spells to the Dark Simulacrum section, updated Engineering glove tinker stats and added Crithto to the "Timing Death Strike" section. Also added Broker Statistics to the addon list which allows you to track your total AP very easily.
09.09.12 Added Runic Corruption to the Advanced section.
07.09.12 Death Strike is doing the same damage as two Heart Strikes now, updated the Blood DPS portion to reflect this.
28.08.12 Now with more tables (no, not that one)
26.08.12 Initial posting in preparation for 5.0.4.
TEST

Read story →    340 comments    -----

Death Knight Cooldown Usage Spreadsheet

Sep 22 2013 03:46 AM | MagdalenaDK in Death Knight



Introduction
Welcome to the Siege of Orgrimmar edition of the Death Knight CD usage spreadsheet. This spreadsheet aims to make information pertaining to Tier 16 bosses and relevant to DK players of all specs more accessible. Whether it's personal CD usage, raid cooldown viability or even encounter-specific tips and tricks, I hope the community will find this information useful.
This spreadsheet is a work in progress. Additional contributions and corrections are welcome.

Spreadsheet

 
  
 
 
EncounterCan Dark Simulacrum be used?Ability that can be Dark SimmedIs it worth using the Dark Sim glyph?Best times to use Anti-Magic ShellBest times to use Icebound FortitudeIs it worth using Glyph of Icebound Fortitude?Will Anti-Magic Zone be useful for this fight?Best times to use Anti-Magic ZoneLevel 90 talent usage
ImmerseusNoNot ApplicableNoSoaking Sha Pools, AMS can be used to go through Swirl without taking damage (also means no RP)In case you fail a Swirl or have to step through poolsNoYesOnce the blobs hit the boss you can throw it on your group to reduce damageGorefiend's Grasp if there are 3+ adds nearby
Fallen ProtectorsNoNoNoAMS and/or AMZ during Sun's Desperate Measures and the Embodied Sorrow's Inferno StrikeIf you fail at Gouge (IBF breaks the stun); Desecrated Ground doesn't workIf you fail the gouges a lot (you shouldn't, so that means No)YesInferno StrikeGorefiend's Grasp works well to drag in Sha adds during Dark Meditation
NorushenYesBlood DKs can copy the Hurl Corruption ability, cast by the Titanic Corruption add during the Test of Confidence; be aware that it deals high shadow damage to the playerNoFrayed casts below 50% boss health, Burst of Anger fail in serenity testIf you fail at the cutter beam, a combination of this and AMS will save your lifeNoYesWhen there's a lot of Manifestations of Corruptions out; also use AMZ to mitigate Icy Fear as the Amalgam reaches lower health levels 
Sha of PrideNoNot ApplicableNoSwelling Pride, Mark of ArroganceSwelling PrideYesYesSwelling prideGorefiend's Grasp can help to clump up adds spawned by Self-Reflection
GalakrasNoNot ApplicableNoPhase 1: Tidal Wave from Shaman, Phase 2: When Flames of Gakakrond goes out Possibly for mitigating Flames of GalakrondUp to the playerWhen Flames of Galakrond goes outGorefiend's Grasp is useful for clumping up adds within Blizzard
Iron JuggernautNoNot ApplicableNoAt the start of Siege Mode, Seismic Activity deals Nature damage; Shock Pulse also deals large amounts of Nature damage in addition to the knockback For mine soaking, YesNoIf talented, try to hit as many people as possible during Seismic Activity 
Kor'kron Dark ShamanYesKardis' Froststorm Bolt, which scales with the Frost DK MasteryYesPoison Mists, Green slimes when close, Foul Stream if you're the targetFoul Geyser on youPotentiallyYesAMZ for when Falling Ash meteor hits raidGorefiend's Grasp can be used to gather Foul Slime adds, but keep in mind that it is extremely dangerous to ever be within their melee range due to Foulness
NazgrimYesArcweavers' Arcane Shock (may not be worth it due to increased raid damage if not interrupted)NoIf you see yourself targeted by an Arcane Shock that won't be interrupted, or if you fail to avoid the fire trails left behind by Heroic ShockwaveIf there are Ravagers flying around or an add starts whirlwinding close to you, also when the boss casts War SongPossibly to mitigate Warsong more frequentlyNoNot ApplicableRemorseless Winter is useful for stunning adds, particularly on Heroic where a Death Knight can be very useful for interrupting Magistrike, cast by Arcweavers; Gorefiend's Grasp can also be used to improve add positioning if needed.
MalkorokNoNot ApplicableNoAMS can be used off cooldown when Ancient Miasma is active, due to the ticking shadow damage it deals; AMS can also be saved for Imploding Energy soaking, as well as Essence of Y'Shaarj soaking on HeroicBlood Rage phase, or when soaking Imploding EnergyIf you're soaking Imploding Energy frequentlyPossiblyAnother option when soaking Imploding EnergyGorefiend's Grasp can be useful for gathering up Living Corruption adds that spawn from Malkorork's Seismic Slam ability on Heroic difficulty
Spoils of PandariaYesRage of the Empress, cast by Set'thik Wind Wielders from the Mantid Crates can be copied and applied to all nearby allies, though it is reduced to a 5% rather than 50% buff; Residue cast by Zar'thik Amber Priests is a powerful group HoT that can also be copiedYesEvery Mogu-side miniboss has an unavoidable AoE magical attack, such as Zu Yin's Molten Fist; also use it to soak damage from Gusting Bomb, Pheromone Cloud and Encapsulated Pheromones on Mantid SideIcebound Fortitude can essentially be used off cooldown given the constant, pulsing AoE damage that is present during this encounterUp to the playerPossiblyWhen one of the AoE-Boss mobs are activeGorefiend's Grasp can be used to clump up newly released/spread out mobs
Thok the BloodthirstyNoNot ApplicableNoOff CD, but be aware that his Shock Collar won't always hit you; Corrosive Blood (Poison debuff from green add) is also worth soakingDefeaning RoarsNoYesYou can throw it on your groups stack point to reduce fire/poison/frost damage takenGorefiend's Grasp can be used on Captive Cave Bats, which are adds that the raid must deal with on Heroic difficulty
Siegecrafter BlackfuseNoNot ApplicableNoStanding in fire nearbyDuring Magnetic CrushNoNot unless you're blowing up Crawler Mines Gorefiend's Grasp can be used to clump up and reposition Crawler Mine adds, assuming you aren't on Conveyer Belt duty at the time
Paragons of the KlaxxiNoNot ApplicableNoCatalyst explosions, standing in amber pools for extra RPIf you are helping to soak AimYes if you are aiding in Aim soakingYes, but it's hard to use on this fight with heavy movement Desecrated Ground can break the stun caused by Whirling
Garrosh HellscreamYesFarseer Wolf Chain Lighting AND mind controlled allies: Tranquility, Divine Hymn, Dark Soul: Instability, Shadow Priest T90 talents, Moonkin Starfall, Summon Doomguard/Infernal, Power Word: BarrierOnly if you don't use the Iron StarIron Star explosions and Whirling CorruptionGlyphed IBF on CDYesYes, for whirlwinds if you have melee stand in itWhen Garrosh casts Whirling Corruption 

Special Thanks

This spreadsheet would not have been possible without the assistance of the entire community. Thanks to:
  • Jessamy for his help formatting the spreadsheet and bringing it over to EJ.
  • Mendenbarr for additional formatting help and running sims for me when I tell him to. He also made me a cute little banner suggestion: http://img19.imageshack.us/img19/872/vhvy.png
  • Tyvi for providing thumbnail artwork.
  • Ketsuki for passing on the amazing artwork you see here, and Elypop for making the artwork.
  • Nangz for the awesome banner.
  • All of #Acherus for their invaluable contributions and testing. Keep it up guys!

To be done
  • Fill up more sections/confirm existing sections
  • More formatting work

Change Log

Change Log

September 21, 2013:
[3:48] Thread created.
[9:20] Whee, let's delete everything!
[10:40] Here it is, it was here all along. I don't know what you're talking about.

September 24th, 2013:
[18:09] Clarified and expanded upon AMZ uses for Norushen.
[21:18] New abilities added to Spoils of Pandaria. Also adding in Wowhead links for multiple spells/abilities.

September 25th, 2013:
[16:49] Added more abilities to the Spoils of Pandaria and Malkorok sections, as well as more formatting work.

September 27th, 2013:
[10:32] New abilities added, and more formatting. Please do keep contributing; it is immensely helpful to the community.

September 28th, 2013:
[20:47] More Level 90 talent uses added for various bosses.

October 6th, 2013:
[8:20] More information added to Spoils of Pandaria and Paragons of the Klaxxi section.

October 7th, 2013:
[15:48] New uses for Gorefiend's Grasp added.
[23:54] More AMS and IBF uses added.

October 10th, 2013:
[19:24] Corrected an error on Malkorok, where I was mistakenly referring to Imploding Energy as Displaced Energy.

October 12th, 2013:
[08:46] Fleshed out the Spoils of Pandaria section.

Read story →    28 comments    -----

Frost DPS 5.4 - Howling Blargh

Feb 26 2013 09:38 PM | Jessamy in Death Knight

Last Updated 04/02/2014 By Mendenbarr
In memory of Ganaza, a pioneer of HB


04/02/14 | Mists of Pandaria 5.4

 

Contents

Introduction

 

Welcome to the frost death knight guide for both the fast attacking dual-wielder, and the mighty two-hander. This guide should cover all of the basics, and serve as a reference for both new players to the class and veterans. The sim work and item lists are accurate to 5.4, unless otherwise specified.
If you find any errors in this guide, broken links, or items you feel have been omitted that would help to understand the class please PM me. Please leave the thread for discussion.




 

Note-worthy Changes at a Glance

 

 

  • Death Gate now returns the Death Knight to a location near their original departure point when the spell is cast while in Ebon Hold.
  • Icebound Fortitude no longer costs Runic Power.
  • Necrotic Strike now deals 100% weapon damage (down from 150% weapon damage).
  • Rune of Razorice now causes 3% extra weapon damage as Frost damage (up from 2%), and each stack of Frost Vulnerability now causes the target to take an additional 3% damage from the Death Knight's Frost attacks (up from 2%).
  • Soul Reaper's initial damage component has been increased by 30%. If the target is below 35% health after 5 seconds the amount of Shadow Damage dealt has been increased by 20%.
  • Unholy Presence now grants a flat 10% Haste to all things, up from Haste for melee (attack speed and Rune regeneration) only. The movement speed buff remains unchanged.
  • Fixed a bug that caused Improved Blood Presence and Runic Corruption to incorrectly increase activation rates of some trinkets and effects.
  • Frost Strike now deals 115% weapons damage (up from 105% weapon damage).
  • Howling Blast now deals 15% more damage.
  • Might of the Frozen Wastes now increases all melee attack damage by 30% (up from 20%).
  • Obliterate now deals 250% weapon damage (up from 230% weapon damage).
  • Anti-Magic Zone has been redesigned. The talent now reduces magic damage taken in the area-of-effect by 40% for 3 seconds, there is no longer a cap on total damage absorbed, and the ability no longer scales with strength.
  • Death Siphon had its damage increased by 10%.
  • Plague Leech now tries to convert 2 fully-depleted runes (up from 1) into a Death Rune based on specialization. Frost: 1 Frost Rune, 1 Unholy Rune
  • New Glyph of Regenerative Magic: If Anti-Magic Shell expires after its full duration, cooldown for the ability is reduced based on the amount of damage absorbed.
  • New Glyph of Swift Death: Haste effect granted by Soul Reaper now also increases the Death Knight's movement speed for the duration.
  • New Glyph of Loud Horn: Horn of Winter now generates additional Runic Power, but the cooldown is increased.
  • Glyph of Enduring Infection now reduces damage dealt by diseases by 15% (down from a 30% reduction).
  • Glyph of Mind Freeze now reduces the cooldown of Mind Freeze by 1 second, and raises its cost by 10 Runic Power (down from 2 seconds and 20 Runic Power).
  • Glyph of Outbreak now causes Outbreak to cost 30 Runic Power (down from 40).
  • Glyph of Pillar of Frost now reduces movement speed by 70% instead of freezing the Death Knight in place.
  • New Glyph of the Long Winter: The Horn of Winter ability now lasts for 1 hour.
  • New Glyph of the Skeleton: The Death Knight's Raise Dead spell now summons a Skeleton instead of a Ghoul.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abbreviations and Keywords

 

Term Meaning
AMS Anti-Magic Shell
AMZ Anti-Magic Zone
AotD Army of the Dead
AoE Area of Effect
BB Blood Boil
BiS Best in Slot
BP Blood Plague
BS Blood Strike
BT Blood Tap
CoI Chains of Ice
CU Control Undead
DC Death Coil
DG Death Grip
DK Death Knight
DW Dual Wield
DnD Death and Decay
DPS Damage per Second
DT Dark Transformation
DS Death Strike
DSim Dark Simulacrum
EP Ebon Plaguebringer
ERW Empower Rune Weapon
FeS Festering Strike
FB Festerblight
FF Frost Fever
FP Frost Presence
FS Frost Strike
Gary Gargoyle
GCD Global Cooldown
GoX Glyph of X
HB Howling Blast
HoW Horn of Winter
IBF Icebound Fortitude
ICD Internal Cooldown
IT Icy Touch
MF Mind Freeze
NS Necrotic Strike
OB Outbreak
Oblit Obliterate
PF Path of Frost
PoF Pillar of Frost
PS Plague Strike
RA Raise Ally
RC Runic Corruption
RE Runic Empowerment
RG Raise Ghoul
Rez Resurrect
RP Runic Power
SD Sudden Doom
SI Shadow Infusion
SS Scourge Strike
SR Soul Reaper
Timmy Ghoul Pet
TX Tier X
UB Unholy Blight
UF Unholy Frenzy
UP Unholy Presence
2H Two-hand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Talents and Glyphs

 

 

 

 

Talents

 

Talents will change often between bosses so for most talent tiers there is never one right choice for all fights

 

 

15 Roiling Blood Plague Leech Unholy Blight
30 Lichborne Anti-Magic Zone Purgatory
45 Death’s Advance Chilblains Asphyxiate
60 Death Pact Death Siphon Conversion
75 Blood Tap Runic Empowerment Runic Corruption
90 Gorefiend’s Grasp Remorseless Winter Desecrated Ground

 

Tier 1

Roiling Blood – Your Blood Boil ability now also triggers Pestilence if it strikes a diseased target

*Blood Boil is not part of our single target or multi-target rotation so this talent appears rather useless for Frost. This is purely an AoE talent and will not benefit you in single target situations.

Plague Leech 25 sec – Draw forth the infection from an enemy, consuming both your Blood Plague and Frost Fever diseases on a target to activate two random fully-depleted runes as a Death Runes.

*This refunds 2 death rune when you need them. This is the best talent to take for damage in both ST and AE, but requires more management than UB, which is the light option. 2Hand frost uses PL every 25-30 seconds, before diseases fall off, while DW uses it as a second BT, hitting the button whenever you need runes.

Unholy Blight 1.5 minutes – Surrounds the Death Knight with a vile swarm of unholy insects for 10 sec, stinging all enemies within 10 yards every 1 sec, infecting them with Blood Plague and Frost Fever.

*This is a significant DPS loss compared to Plague Leech but still a viable option for those who don't want to manage PL. With this we only need to use Plague Strike once every two minutes to keep up full diseases on a single target and can instantly spread full diseases in AoE situations.

Tier 1 ranking single target
The point of the ranking is to demonstrate how close the three talents are, don't blindly pick the highest one, as the one you're the most comfortable with will likely do the best.

DW frost:


2Hand frost:


Tier 2

Lichborne 2 minutes – Draw upon unholy energy to become undead for 10 sec. While undead, you are immune to Charm, Fear and Sleep effects.

*This will be good for any fight where you face CC and useful for any phases of heavy burst magic damage where sustaining yourself with Death Coil and Anti-Magic Shell may be the best course of action. This does cut into your damage if you need to heal yourself with Death Coils so this may not be the optimal choice if your healers can keep you up.

Anti-Magic Zone 2 minutes
Places a large, stationary Anti-Magic Zone that reduces spell damage done to party or raid members inside it by 40%. The Anti-Magic Zone lasts for 3 sec.

*One of the best cooldowns in the game for strong single hits of magic damage. This will absorb 40% of at least one magic hit, and is downright awesome on single big hits. It still absorbs 3 ticks for abilities that tick every second, and is still very powerful. It's got a very short cooldown as well, but it's weakness is long term sustained damage, physical damage, and times when everyone is spread out.

Purgatory – An unholy pacts grants you the ability to fight on through damage that would kill mere mortals. When you would sustain fatal damage, you instead are wrapped in a Shroud of Purgatory, absorbing incoming healing equal to the amount of damage prevented, lasting 3 sec. If any healing absorption remains when Shroud of Purgatory expires, you die. Otherwise, you survive. This effect may only occur every 3 min.

*Saves you from death for 3 sec once every 3 minutes. This counts as an absorb effect so moves that go through other absorbs can still kill you. As soon as the absorb shield is healed off, the effect is removed regardless of when during the 3 seconds that happens. Purgatory can save your life, but it can also be next to useless. If you are healed up to 1% from a HoT half a second after the proc, the next hit will still kill you. However, when combined with healers who are good at using lay on hands and void shift, this talent will save your life many times.

Tier 3

Death’s Advance 30 sec – You passively move 10% faster, and movement-impairing effects may not reduce you below 70% of normal movement speed. When activated, you gain 30% movement speed and may not be slowed below 100% of normal movement speed for 6 seconds.

*This is the go-to talent for this tier when none of the others are necessary. 10% runspeed passively and a 30% boost every 30 seconds will increase uptime on bosses with target switching or lots of movement mechanics. This does stack with the movespeed enchants for boots, and pretty much every other run speed buff.

Chilblains – Victims of your Frost Fever disease are Chilled, reducing movement speed by 50% for 10 sec, and your Chains of Ice immobilize targets for 3 sec.

*Good for kiting and slowing adds from getting to their target. The root effect for Chains of Ice is nice but few bosses or adds can be rooted.

Asphyxiate 30 sec – Lifts an enemy target off the ground and crushes their throat with dark energy, stunning them for 5 sec. Functions as a silence if the target is immune to stuns. Replaces Strangulate.

*Replaces our Strangulate with a stun with half the cooldown time. Again, pretty fight dependent as most bosses cannot be stunned or silenced.

Tier 4

Death Pact 2 minutes – Drain vitality from an undead minion, healing the Death Knight for 50% of his maximum health and causing the minion to suffer damage equal to 50% of its maximum health.

*Only useful if your ghoul is active for Frost DKs, but offers a large amount of healing on command. Ideally this is the choice in this tier, as it does not impede our damage at all in most cases. You can use this on your risen ghoul, army of the dead ghouls, and the tier 15 2-set trolls.

Death Siphon (1 Death) – Deal Deal 7609 to 8842 (+ 37.4% of Attack power) shadowfrost damage to an enemy, healing the Death Knight for 150% of damage dealt.

*A ranged death strike in essence. This can be useful during times of target switching and heavy incoming damage but uses runes that can be used for stronger hitting moves.

Conversion (5 Runic Power + 5 Runic Power per second) – Converts Runic Power to 3% max health every second.

*If there are periods of heavy AoE damage this could be useful. This is going to make it easier for healers to keep you up rather than ensuring you keep yourself up but this will cut into our ability to do damage effectively. Cool concept though.

Tier 5

Blood Tap – Each damaging Death Coil, Frost Strike, or Rune Strike generates 2 Blood Charges, up to a maximum of 12 charges. Blood Tap consumes 5 Blood Charges to activate a random fully-depleted rune as a Death Rune.

*A guaranteed Death Rune from fully depleted runes when you want it as long as you have at least 5 Blood Charges.

Runic Empowerment – When you land a damaging Death Coil, Frost Strike, or Rune Strike, you have a 45% chance to activate a random fully depleted rune.

*Able to game runes with this to get back certain runes. Keep in mind you must have a fully depleted rune for this to do anything.

Runic Corruption – When you land a damaging Death Coil, Frost Strike, or Rune Strike, you have a 45% chance to activate Runic Corruption, increasing your rune regeneration rate by 100% for 3 sec.

*Returns 30% of 3 runes. This will not actually last for 3 seconds unless you have 0 haste but will last for shorter amounts of time as your haste goes up so that you are always getting 30% of each rune regardless of your haste.

Tier 5 ranking
Again, use whichever talent you prefer the most, as you are most likely to do best with that talent. The sim manages BT properly, but if enough people ask for it, I may add in macroed BT to the rankings.

2Hand frost:


DW frost:


Tier 6

Gorefiend’s Grasp 1 minute – Shadowy tendrils coil around all enemies within 20 yards of a target (hostile or friendly), pulling them to the target’s location.

*A fantastic talent for add control and positioning, useful for stacking adds to make them die to AE faster, for getting a group of adds on top of a tank, and for getting a group of adds away from someone kiting them, or giving a tank some breathing room. However, unless a fight calls for this, it isn’t the best choice. This utility is unique to dks.

Remorseless Winter 1 minute – Surrounds the Death Knight with a swirling tempest of frigid air, every 1 sec for 8 sec. Each time Remorseless Winter hits, it reduces enemy movement speed by 15%, stacking up to 5 times. Upon receiving a fifth application, an enemy will be stunned for 6 sec.

*This has some great utility for add kiting, both a slow and a stun. Also useful as a cooldown for your tanks, being one of the longest stuns in the game.

Desecrated Ground 2 minute – Corrupts the ground in a 8 yard radius beneath the Death Knight for 10 sec. While standing in this corruption, the Death Knight is immune to crowd control effects.

*There are a few fights where CC breaks are helpful, and this talent takes the cake for them. However, on a patchwerk fight, none of the T6 talents are useful, and it is suggested you take whichever one suits the fight best, there really is no default option.



Innate Skills

 

Frost Death Knights gain some pretty nice passive skills which are important to know about and have an effect on the way we play.

Icy Talons
Increases your melee attack speed by 30%. Not much to say here. It is a completely passive bonus so just be aware of it. This does not increase our Rune Regeneration rate but does increase our ghoul’s attack speed and KM procs.

Killing Machine
Your auto-attacks have a chance to grant your next Obliterate or Frost Strike (or soul reaper if you have the t15 4-set) a 100% Critical Strike chance bonus. This will proc more often for DW than 2H, for obvious reasons hopefully and DW and 2H will want to use it differently due to the next two skills. This has 6 PPM meaning that before any haste is applied or dual wield affects take place auto attacks will proc this 6 times a minute on average. Thanks to haste and if you are dual wielding to will see more than 6 PPM. This also activates our T16 2-set for a nice stat bonus.

Improved Frost Presence
While in Frost Presence, your Frost Strike ability costs 15 less Runic Power.

Horn of Winter - Increases attack power of all party and raid members within 100 yards by 10%. Lasts 5 min.
Unholy Aura - Increases the melee and ranged attack speed of all party and raid members within 100 yards by 10%.

 

Debuffs

 

Brittle Bones.

 

Glyphs

 

Major
Major glyphs are all fairly situational and the ideal ones to use may change from fight to fight. This lists contains all the major glyphs although there are some that are not applicable for Frost.

 

 

[Glyph of Anti-Magic Shell] Causes you Anti-Magic Shell to absorb all incoming magical damage, up to the absorption limit.
[Glyph of Chains of Ice] Your Chains of Ice also causes 150 Frost damage, with additional damage depending on your attack power.
[Glyph of Dancing Rune Weapon] Increases your threat generation by 100% while your Dancing Rune Weapon is active, but reduces its damage dealt by 25%.
[Glyph of Dark Simulacrum] Reduces the cooldown of Dark Simulacrum by 30 sec and increases its duration by 4 sec.
[Glyph of Dark Succor] When you kill an enemy that yields experience or honor, while in Frost or Unholy presence, your next Death Strike within 15 sec is free and will restore at least 20% of your maximum health.
[Glyph of Unholy Frenzy] Causes your Unholy Frenzy to no longer deal damage to the affected target.
[Glyph of Outbreak] Your Outbreak spell no longer has a cooldown, but now costs 30 Runic Power.
[Glyph of Vampiric Blood] Increases the bonus healing received while your Vampiric Blood is active by an additional 15%, but your Vampiric Blood no longer grants you health.
[Glyph of Unholy Command] Immediately finishes the cooldown of your Death Grip upon dealing a killing blow to a target that grants experience or honor.
[Glyph of Death Coil] Your Death Coil spell is now usable on all allies. When cast on a non-undead ally, Death Coil shrouds them with a protective barrier that absorbs up to ((0 + 0.495 * AP) * 1) damage.
[Glyph of Pestilence] Increases the radius of your Pestilence effect by 5 yards.
[Glyph of Pillar of Frost] Empowers your Pillar of Frost, making you immune to all effects that cause loss of control of your character, but also reducing your speed by 70% while active.
[Glyph of Death Grip] Increases the range of your Death Grip ability by 5 yards.
[Glyph of Death and Decay] Your Death and Decay also reduces the movement speed of enemies within its radius by 50%.
[Glyph of Icebound Fortitude] Reduces the cooldown of your Icebound Fortitude by 50%, but also reduces its duration by 75%.
[Glyph of Icy Touch] Your Icy Touch dispels one helpful Magic effect from the target.
[Glyph of Shifting Presences] You retain 70% of your Runic Power when switching Presences.
[Glyph of Enduring Infection] Your diseases are undispellable, but their damage dealt is reduced by 15%.
[Glyph of Strangulate] Increases the Silence duration of your Strangulate ability by 2 sec when used on a target who is casting a spell.
[Glyph of Mind Freeze] Reduces the cooldown of your Mind Freeze ability by 1 sec, but also raises its cost by 10 Runic Power.
[Glyph of Festering Blood] Makes Blood Boil treat all targets as if they have been infected with Blood Plague or Frost Fever.
[Glyph of Regenerative Magic] If Anti-Magic Shell expires after its full duration, cooldown for the ability is reduced based on the amount of damage absorbed.
[Glyph of Swift Death] Haste effect granted by Soul Reaper now also increases the Death Knight's movement speed for the duration.
[Glyph of Loud Horn] Horn of Winter now generates additional Runic Power, but the cooldown is increased.

 

Suggested glyphs:
[Glyph of Regenerative Magic] is almost always useful.
[Glyph of Loud Horn] is a straight up damage gain.
[Glyph of Icebound Fortitude] is nice for survivability. If you want a fight specific one, swap this out first.

Most of the glyphs have a niche where they are useful, and only 2 of them increase damage by a noticeable amount. Try them out and see which ones fit best with play-style, and whatever fight you are trying to beat.


Minor
Minor glyphs are mostly cosmetic in MoP but a handful can be helpful in some situations. Army of the Dead, Death’s Embrace, Path of Frost, Resilient Grip, Tranquil Grip can all be useful when needed.

 

 

[Glyph of Army of the Dead] The ghouls summoned by your Army of the Dead no longer taunt their target.
[Glyph of Corpse Explosion] Teaches you the ability [Spell]Corpse Explosion[/Spell].
[Glyph of Death Gate] Reduces the cast time of your Death Gate spell by 60%.
[Glyph of Death's Embrace] Your Death Coil refunds 20 Runic Power when used to heal an allied minion.
[Glyph of Foul Menagerie] Causes your Army of the Dead spell to summon an assortment of undead minions.
[Glyph of Horn of Winter] When used outside of combat, your Horn of Winter ability causes a brief, localized snow flurry.
[Glyph of Path of Frost] Your Path of Frost ability allows you to fall from a greater distance without suffering damage.
[Glyph of Resilient Grip] When your Death Grip ability fails because its target is immune, its cooldown is reset.
[Glyph of Tranquil Grip] Your Death Grip spell no longer taunts the target.
[Glyph of the Geist] Your Raise Dead spell summons a geist instead of a ghoul.
[Glyph of the Long Winter] The Horn of Winter ability now lasts for 1 hour.
[Glyph of the Skeleton] The Death Knight's Raise Dead spell now summons a Skeleton instead of a Ghoul.

 

 

Presences

 

Our presences have changed around with the release of MoP and all DKs now have a 1 second GCD rather than 1.5 seconds base GCD.
Blood Presence - You assume the presence of Blood, increasing Stamina by 25% and base armor increased by 55%, and reducing damage taken by 10%. Threat generation is also significantly increased.
Frost Presence - Strengthens you with the presence of Frost, increasing Runic Power generation by 20%, and reducing the duration of effects that remove control of your character by 20%.
Unholy Presence - You are infused with unholy fury, increasing attack speed and rune regeneration by 10%, and movement speed by 15%.

Due to Frost’s skill Improved Frost Presence all Frost DKs will dps in Frost Presence.
It's worth swapping out to unholy presence when you are in dire need of a tiny bit of movement speed, and blood presence when you require either threat or a little more survival. Note that both are a significant damage loss.



 

Priority

 

 

 

 

Single Target

 

 

DW Priority
Blood Tap if you have 11 or more stacks of blood charge
Frost Strike if Killing Machine is procced, or if RP is 89 or higher
Howling Blastwith both frost or both death off cooldown
Soul Reaper when target below 35%
Plague Strike if one Unholy Rune is off cooldown and blood plague is down/nearly down
Howling Blast if Rime procced
Frost Strikeif RP is 77 or higher
Obliterate when 1 or more Unholy Runes are off cooldown and killing machine is down
Howling Blast
Blood Tap
Frost Strikeif RP is 40 or higher
Horn of Winter
Plague Leech
Empower Rune Weapon

Don't let blood charges cap!
DW in Mists plays similar to how “Masterfrost" did at the end of Cataclysm. This is due to the large emphasis on frost damage and mastery thanks to the Threat of Thassarian skill. This means spending Runic Power on Frost Strike, with killing machine up, is the top priority when possible. After that, you want to avoid wasting runic power, so you try not to let it cap at 100. You also don't want runes to cap (unholy not as important as frost and death), so you use howling blast to use those up.


Soul Reaper hits like a weak noodle. Still worth using over the alternatives, unless Howling Blast beats it in damage.  This happens when 
(((Weapon min damage + weapon max damage)/2) *1.3 + (2.4 *(X/ 14)))*1.15*1.04*0.68 + (60000 +1.2X)*1.15*1.05 < (499 + 0.8487X) * 1.10*1.05*1.15 *Mastery value.  Solve for X to find the AP breakpoint where HB wins in damage. If you don't want to bother with this, just use soul reaper, it's better more oft than not. 

 

Keep up your diseases, frost fever you won't even need to manage due to all of those howling blasts, but every 30 seconds you want to reapply blood plague with plague strike, though make sure you use an unholy rune for this and not a death rune, even if it means losing some disease uptime. Do NOT use outbreak, unless you are out of range (air phase!) of the target.

Use up rime procs, use frost strike to get below 77 runic, and then use obliterate to make unholy runes go away. Next just spam howling blast and blood tap, and then frost strike (but don't go below 20 runic, save that for a killing machine proc), and if you've got nothing else to do, use horn of winter and plague leech and empower rune weapon to generate runes and runic.

Mastersimple vs. Mastercomplicated:

Due to the fact that howling blast scales with mastery, and obliterate doesn't, there comes a point in time where obliterate is no longer worth casting. This point is very, very roughly around 14k mastery, but you can find your own personal breakpoint through simC, following the instructions on this page

Mastercomplicated is the priority described above, while mastersimple drops out obliterate, and replaces it with DnD/PS at the end of the priority. The frost and death runes are spent on more of your harder hitting Howling Blasts, while the unholy runes are left to sit and rot, unless you have nothing else to cast, in which case you spend them on DnD, and Plague Strike. 

 

 

 

 

2H Priority
Soul Reaper when target below 35%
Obliterate when Killing Machine is procced and both diseases are on the target
Diseases
Obliterate When any runes are capped
Frost Strike if RP capped
Howling Blast if Rime procced
Frost Strike
Obliterate
Horn of Winter

The new Soul Reaper hits like a weak noodle. Still, it's pretty nice for a one rune ability, so use it as often as possible whenever you are in execute range.

2H in Mists plays almost the same as it did in Cataclysm. After diseases and when not in execute range, spending runes on Obliterate, with killing machine, is the top of the order. Thanks to Might of the Frozen Wastes, Obliterate hits extremely hard for 2H Frost.

This means using Obliterate when both Frost and Unholy sets are up or two Death runes. This is followed by Frost Strike to keep you from reaching your max RP and wasting extra Runic Power and using any Rime procs you may have.

Next, Frost Strike; Make sure you're not Frost Striking when you don't actually have the correct number of runes of the same pair on cooldown. This will depend on which tier 5 talent you choose. You need to have runes fully depleted in order for Runic Empowerment to proc so at least one pair of runes must be on cooldown. Runic Corruption will get the maximum benefit when at least one rune from each pair is on cooldown. Blood Tap will always be used to its maximum potential as long as you don’t let it go over its 12 stack cap or let the buff fall off.

Lastly, obliterating without a KM proc to fill GCDs.

Unlike DW, 2H will not use single Frost or Death runes on Howling Blast. Save them until another rune is available to Obliterate with. Fill any remaining downtime with Horn of Winter.


 

 

 

 

 

Multiple Target

 

 

DW Priority
Howling Blast if both Frost runes and/or both Death runes are up
Death and Decay if both Unholy Runes are up
Frost Strike if RP capped
Howling Blast
Death and Decay
Frost Strike
Horn of Winter
Plague Strike tab target to hit multiple enemies

You'll want to use Howling Blast and Death and Decay as often as possible. You no longer use obliterate, instead spending unholy runes on DnD and plague strike. If you are using Runic Empowerment, you will try to keep one Unholy rune available at all times so your Runic Empowerment will refund a Frost or Death rune that can be used for more Howling Blasts. If you are using runic corruption or blood tap, you don't need to leave one unholy rune up.

Finally, use Frost Strike to regain runes when possible. Death Coil will be used in place of Frost Strike when you are kiting adds or cannot be in melee range.
This leads to a gain over single target with 3 or more targets.

Note: Pestilence is rarely worth using as DW. I suggest just not using it, but for advanced users who want to squeeze out a little more dps:
It's benefit will vary based on your mastery level, and here is a way to find out how many ticks you need to get, per target, to make it worthwhile.
(1+.5*Extra Targets) * HB ST DMG = (Y)*BP Tick
Replace extra targets with the number of targets you want to check, HB ST DMG with an average hit of HB on one target, and BP with how hard your BP ticks for. Y is the number of ticks you need to make it a gain.

 

 

 

 

 

2-hand Priority
Howling Blast if both Frost runes and/or both Death runes are up
Death and Decay if both Unholy Runes are up
Frost Strike if RP capped
Obliterate if killing machine is up
Howling Blast
Death and Decay
Frost Strike
Horn of Winter
Plague Strike

Nearly identical to DW, the only change is using obliterate if KM procs. This leads to a gain over single target with 3 or more targets.

Note: Pestilence is rarely worth using as 2H. I suggest just not using it, but for advanced users who want to squeeze out a little more dps:
It's benefit will vary based on your mastery level, and here is a way to find out how many ticks you need to get, per target, to make it worthwhile.
(1+.5*Extra Targets) * HB ST DMG = (Y)*BP Tick
Replace extra targets with the number of targets you want to check, HB ST DMG with an average hit of HB on one target, and BP with how hard your BP ticks for. Y is the number of ticks you need to make it a gain.



 

 

 

Runic Power Management

 

In general, Runic Power gains correspond directly to the number runes spent on abilities. Each depleted rune will give you 10 Runic Power but being in Frost Presence will give you 20% more Runic Power. Here’s a table showing how much each ability will generate depending on if you are in Frost Presence or not.
Note: You should pretty much always be in frost presence.

 

 

 

Ability Base RP gained RP gained in Frost Presence (+20%)
Obliterate 20 24
Howling Blast 10 12
Plague Strike 10 12
Icy touch 10 12
Death and Decay 10 12
Horn of Winter 10 12
Rime 0 0

 

 

 

Cooldowns

 

Pillar of Frost 1 Frost 1 minute
The only unique cooldown for Frost DKs, this is an absolutely amazing ability. Granting 20% strength for 20 seconds is 20% cooler than any other class's CD, and only on a 60 second cooldown, this should be used on cooldown as often as possible or lined up with phases where bosses take more damage. If you have an on-use trinket, make sure to macro it in with Pillar of Frost to get the most out of it. It also provides immunity to knockback effects. This is reduced by the cooldown trinket.

Raise Dead 2 minutes
As close as we get to being an Unholy DK - Raise Dead summons a ghoul to fight for you for 1 minute. Your Ghoul scales with your attack power, haste, crit and hit continuously throughout its duration. This will line up nicely with Pillar of Frost giving your ghoul a bigger punch for the price, as will using it during bloodlust or heroism.

Army of the Dead 1 Blood 1 Unholy 1 Frost 10 minutes
Army of the Dead will channel over 4 seconds to summon a gaggle of ghouls to giggle at the ghosties. Like Raise Dead, Army of the Dead will scale with your AP, haste, and hit throughout its duration. The best time to use Army of the Dead will vary from boss to boss, but it is typically best to use right before the beginning of an encounter or in any phase transition where you will not be and cannot be on the boss and no DPS will be lost. One note about Army of the Dead is that although the summoned ghouls will not taunt a raid boss, they will taunt most adds present on boss encounters. The corresponding glyph can stop your ghouls from taunting when needed.This is reduced by the cooldown trinket.

Empower Rune Weapon 5 minutes
Activates all your runes and provides 25 Runic Power (30 in Frost Presence) once every 5 minutes. Ideally you’ll want to use this any time when you need some heavy burst, and the burst from ERW is so awesome. Try to line it up with all your Runes being on cooldown and having low amounts of Runic Power. This will reset your whole priority, which can throw people off when they find themselves with 6 runes off cooldown and high Runic Power. You’ll likely cap your Runic Power when you use Empower Rune Weapon. Don’t worry about it; continue the priority as you would normally. Depending on the length of the fight you may be able to use this more than once by using it early in the fight. This is reduced by the cooldown trinket.

Outbreak 1 minute
Outbreak will apply both Frost Fever and Blood Plague to your target once a minute. As Frost DKs, we will mainly use this to reapply Blood Plague without expending an unholy rune when we can on a single target. In some situations, like fights with heavy target switching, it is best to save Outbreak for quickly applying your diseases to a target that needs to be burned down. DW frost doesn't use this. This is reduced by the cooldown trinket.

Dark Simulacrum 1 minute
Dark Simulacrum allows a Death Knight to place a debuff on a target that will grant the DK the ability to copy the next spell the target casts that costs mana. There are few to no encounters where this comes into play in PvE, unfortunately. You can glyph this cooldown down to 30 seconds with [Glyph of Dark Simulacrum].

Anti-Magic Shell 45 seconds
Anti-Magic Shell is our most reliable way of avoiding raid damage. This baby absorbs 75% of the magic damage taken, up to 50% of the DK’s health for 5 seconds. As of 5.0, this gives us Runic Power as it absorbs damage at 1 Runic Power for every 1000 damage absorbed. Anti-Magic Shell also makes you immune to magical debuffs which can be equally important or more important than the damage mitigation depending on the encounter. Knowing when to correctly use this on any given encounter can greatly increase your survivability and damage output. The new glyph of regenerative magic, plus the 580 trinket bring AMS's CD down to 20 seconds. 20 seconds guys. YAY! This is reduced by the cooldown trinket.

Icebound Fortitude 3 minutes
Our standard defensive ability. A 20% damage taken reduction for 12 seconds as well as making you immune to stun effects. Use this when you know heavy damage is incoming. Don't make the easy mistake of using it after you've already taken a good chunk of damage; anticipate damage to get the most out of this ability. The glyph for this ability reduces the duration down to 3 seconds, and the CD down to 1.5 minutes, and is normally worth it because it let's you absorb that big hit that is likely to kill you. This is reduced by the cooldown trinket.

Mind Freeze 15 seconds
This is our basic interrupt. It is off the global cooldown and you must be in melee range to use it.

Strangulate 1 Blood 1 minute
Mind Freeze’s BBBFF Strangulate interrupts and silences a player target for 5 seconds and can interrupt non-player spell casting for 3 seconds. Unlike Mind Freeze, Strangulate is a 30 yard ranged silence, and costs a Blood Rune to use. This is a last resort in a PvE context. It will slow down your damage by expending one of your runes. As such, this is going to sit in your back pocket for most fights, but can really save the day when it is needed.

Raise Ally 30 Runic Power 10 minutes
You can resurrect one of your fallen brethren once every 10 minutes to 60% health and 20% mana.

Control Undead 1 Unholy
Take control of an Undead enemy for up to 5 minutes to act as your minion. Sadly lacking in use so far in MoP.


 

Symbiosis

 

Druid’s new skill Symbiosis grants Frost and Unholy Death Knights the Wild Mushroom: Plague skill. This is the only skill that druids give via symbiosis that is a direct DPS increase for the receiver. Although it is only a TINY gain in single target fights, it will prove to be quite useful on fights with lengthy stationary AoE or when a ranged AoE snare needs to be repeatedly applied. Since this last for 30 seconds it can cover a minute worth of diseases every 3 minutes.

Feral Druids can benefit from using Symbiosis on us as they receive Death Coil in return, giving them something to do when they can’t be in melee range, while balance gets the sexy, although weakened, AMS.


 

Stats and Gearing

 

 

 

 

Stat Priorities

 

 

Even stat priorities can vary from player to player, so for the best results, sim your own character.

 

 

 

 

 

Two Handed Stat Priority
Strength > Yellow Hit to Cap = Expertise to Cap > Crit > Mastery >= Haste

 

 

 

 

Dual Wield Stat Priority
Strength > Yellow Hit to Cap = Expertise to Cap > Mastery > Crit > Haste >= Hit over Cap

 

 

Specific Stat Weights

 

Stat weights are as follows relative to damage gained for 5.4


Please keep in mind these stat weights use BiS gear, and the default simcraft profile, which includes the legendary meta, and legendary cloak and the amp/CD trinket. This means a changed race, talent, or gear, in particular trinkets and weapon, will change the stat values. I've seen far too many people trying to use these weights for characters that are 50 ilvls under BiS. I highly recommend running the sim with your own character to see stat weights for your character.

If you don't know how to run a sim with your own character, I've written a getting started guide. If you have any questions or cannot get something to work, feel free to PM me, or drop by #Acherus.


Realistic sim:

 

 

Stat 580 DW 580 2H
Strength 7.77 6.46
Yellow Hit 13.34 9.39
Expertise 13.26 9.37
Haste 3.43 3.39
Mastery 5.21 3.65
Crit 4.41 4.27
Hit Over Yellow 2.97 -

 

 

 

Note: Realistic sims contain AMS soaking once per minute for 100k.





 

Specific Stat Caps

 

 

Level 93 Boss Avoidance

 

Avoidance % Avoidance to Rating Effective Requirement
Yellow Swing Miss 7.5% (340 * 7.5) 2550 Hit Rating
1H White Swing Miss 26.5% (340 * 26.5) 9010 Hit Rating
Spell Miss 15% (340 * 15) Hit Rating + Expertise Rating = 5100
Parry (front) 15% (15 * 340) 5100 Expertise Rating
Dodge (behind) 7.5% (7.5 * 340) 2550 Expertise Rating
Glancing Blows 24% - N/A

Expertise will only reduce dodge chance up to 7.5%. Above that it will only lower parry chance and will not lower parry chance until you reach the 7.5% plateau.

DW Frost no longer has access to Nerves of Cold Steel so both DW and 2H will need 7.5% hit and 7.5% expertise to reach cap.

 

Combat Ratings

Ratings needed to gain 1% of the stat

 

Stat Level 85
Hit 340
Crit 600
Haste 425
Expertise 340
Mastery 300

 

 

Reforging

 

Reforging takes 40% of a secondary stat already on an item and converts it into another secondary stat not already on an item. This gives you a lot more flexibility in trying to hit both the hit and expertise cap while maximizing your desired secondary stats.

You will want to reforge following your specs stat weights above while making sure to keep your hit and expertise capped. Sometimes this will mean reforging out of hit on one item and reforging into hit on another item to get the most of your desired stats. This is a tricky and complicated task which I encourage you to do, if for no other reason than to work on some math problems.



 

5.4 loot

 

The Fantastic Kerriodos has compiled a list of all the plate loot for 5.4, which can be found at
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/...GMnZoY0E#gid=0
Check the tabs at the bottom to organize by boss or slot, or swap to heroic mode.
You rock dude.



 

Best in Slot 5.4

 

 

[DW]

 

 

 

Slot Item Gemming Reforging Enchant
Head [Helmet of Cyclopean Dread] 1x [Capacitive Primal Diamond], 1x [Skillful Vermilion Onyx] Haste to Crit None
Neck [Malkorok's Tainted Dog Tags] None None None
Shoulders [Pauldrons of Cyclopean Dread] 2 x [Skillful Vermilion Onyx] None [Greater Tiger Fang Inscription]
Back [Gong-Lu, Strength of Xuen] 1 x [Skillful Vermilion Onyx] None Enchant Cloak - Superior Critical Strike
Chest [Breastplate of Cyclopean Dread] 3 x [Skillful Vermilion Onyx] Haste to Crit Glorious Stats
Wrists [Bracers of Blind Hatred] None None Enchant Bracers – Exceptional Strength
Hands [Gauntlets of Cyclopean Dread] 2 x [Skillful Vermilion Onyx] None Enchant Gloves – Super Strength
Waist [Demolisher's Reinforced Belt] 1 x [Skillful Vermilion Onyx], 2 x [Fractured Sun's Radiance] Haste to Crit [Living Steel Belt Buckle]
Legs [Legplates of Willful Doom] 2 x [Sensei's Wild Jade], 1 x [Skillful Vermilion Onyx] None [Angerhide Leg Armor]
Feet [Malkorok's Giant Stompers] 1 x [Fractured Sun's Radiance] Expertise to Crit Enchant Boots – Pandaren’s Step
Ring [Devilfang Band] 1 x [Skillful Vermilion Onyx] Expertise to Crit None
Ring [Bloodclaw Band] 1 x [Fractured Sun's Radiance] Hit to Crit None
Trinket [Evil Eye of Galakras] None None None
Trinket [Thok's Tail Tip] None None None
Main Hand [Xifeng, Longblade of the Titanic Guardian] 1 x [Skillful Vermilion Onyx] Hit to Crit Rune of the Fallen Crusader
Off Hand [Xifeng, Longblade of the Titanic Guardian] 1 x [Skillful Vermilion Onyx] Hit to Crit Rune of Razorice

 

[2H]

 

 

Slot Item Gemming Reforging Enchant
Head [Helmet of Cyclopean Dread] 1x [Capacitive Primal Diamond], 1x [Inscribed Vermilion Onyx] Haste to Crit None
Neck [Malkorok's Tainted Dog Tags] None None None
Shoulders [Tusks of Mannoroth] 3 x [Inscribed Vermilion Onyx] None [Greater Tiger Fang Inscription]
Back [Gong-Lu, Strength of Xuen] 1 x [Inscribed Vermilion Onyx] Haste to Expertise Enchant Cloak - Superior Critical Strike
Chest [Breastplate of Cyclopean Dread] 3 x [Inscribed Vermilion Onyx] Mastery to Crit Glorious Stats
Wrists [Bracers of Blind Hatred] None None Enchant Bracers – Exceptional Strength
Hands [Gauntlets of Cyclopean Dread] 2 x [Inscribed Vermilion Onyx] Mastery to Crit Enchant Gloves – Super Strength
Waist [Ashen Wall Girdle] 1 x [Inscribed Vermilion Onyx], 1 x [Smooth Sun's Radiance], 1 x [Piercing Wild Jade] Hit to Expertise [Living Steel Belt Buckle]
Legs [Greaves of Cyclopean Dread] 2 x [Smooth Sun's Radiance] None [Angerhide Leg Armor]
Feet [Greaves of Sublime Superiority] 1 x [Inscribed Vermilion Onyx] Hit to Expertise Enchant Boots – Pandaren’s Step
Ring [Devilfang Band] 1 x [Inscribed Vermilion Onyx] Mastery to Crit None
Ring [Seal of the Forgotten Kings] 1 x [Inscribed Vermilion Onyx] None None
Trinket [Evil Eye of Galakras] None None None
Trinket [Thok's Tail Tip] None None None
Main Hand [Xal'atoh, Desecrated Image of Gorehowl] 1 x [Inscribed Vermilion Onyx] None Rune of the Fallen Crusader

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best in Slot 5.3

 

 

[DW]

 

 

 

Slot Item Gemming Reforging Enchant
Head [Crown of the Golden Golem] 1x [Capacitive Primal Diamond], 1x [Skillful Vermilion Onyx] Crit to Mastery None
Neck [Amulet of the Primal Turtle] 1 x [Bold Primordial Ruby] Hit to Mastery None
Shoulders [Pauldrons of the All-Consuming Maw] 1 x [Bold Primordial Ruby], 1 x [Skillful Vermilion Onyx] Expertise to Haste [Greater Tiger Fang Inscription]
Back [Tigerclaw Cape] 1 x [Bold Primordial Ruby] None Enchant Cloak - Superior Critical Strike
Chest [Breastplate of the All-Consuming Maw] 1 x [Bold Primordial Ruby], 1 x [Skillful Vermilion Onyx], 1 x [Etched Imperial Amethyst] Expertise to Mastery Glorious Stats
Wrists [Caustic Spike Bracers] 1 x [Skillful Vermilion Onyx] None Enchant Bracers – Exceptional Strength
Hands [Gauntlets of the All-Consuming Maw] 1 x [Bold Primordial Ruby] Hit to Mastery Enchant Gloves – Super Strength
Waist [Cloudbreaker Greatbelt] 2 x [Bold Primordial Ruby], 1 x [Skillful Vermilion Onyx] None [Living Steel Belt Buckle]
Legs [Greaves of the All-Consuming Maw] 1 x [Skillful Vermilion Onyx], 1 x [Etched Imperial Amethyst] Crit to Haste [Angerhide Leg Armor]
Feet [Sabatons of the Superior Being] 1 x [Etched Imperial Amethyst], 1 x [Skillful Vermilion Onyx] Expertise to Mastery Enchant Boots – Pandaren’s Step
Ring [Ra-den's Ruinous Ring] 1 x [Etched Imperial Amethyst] Expertise to Mastery None
Ring [Band of the Scaled Tyrant] 1 x [Bold Primordial Ruby] Hit to Mastery None
Trinket [Fabled Feather of Ji-Kun] None Hit to Mastery None
Trinket [Spark of Zandalar] None Haste to Mastery None
Main Hand [Qon's Flaming Scimitar] 2 x [Bold Primordial Ruby] Expertise to Haste Rune of the Fallen Crusader
Off Hand [Qon's Flaming Scimitar] 2 x [Bold Primordial Ruby] Expertise to Haste Rune of Razorice

 

[2H]

 

 

Slot Item Gemming Reforging Enchant
Head [Crown of the Golden Golem] 1x [Capacitive Primal Diamond], 1x [Fierce Vermilion Onyx] None None
Neck [Talisman of Angry Spirits] None Mastery to Haste None
Shoulders [Pauldrons of the All-Consuming Maw] 1 x [Bold Primordial Ruby], 1 x [Fierce Vermilion Onyx] Expertise to Haste [Greater Tiger Fang Inscription]
Back [Tigerclaw Cape] 1 x [Bold Primordial Ruby] None Enchant Cloak - Superior Critical Strike
Chest [Breastplate of the All-Consuming Maw] 1 x [Bold Primordial Ruby], 1 x [Etched Imperial Amethyst], 1x [Fierce Vermilion Onyx] None Glorious Stats
Wrists [Caustic Spike Bracers] 1 x [Fierce Vermilion Onyx] None Enchant Bracers – Exceptional Strength
Hands [Gauntlets of the All-Consuming Maw] 1 x [Bold Primordial Ruby] Hit to Haste Enchant Gloves – Super Strength
Waist [Cloudbreaker Greatbelt] 2 x [Bold Primordial Ruby], 1 x [Fierce Vermilion Onyx] Mastery to Crit [Living Steel Belt Buckle]
Legs [Greaves of the All-Consuming Maw] 1 x [Fierce Vermilion Onyx], 1 x [Etched Imperial Amethyst] Mastery to Haste [Angerhide Leg Armor]
Feet [Sabatons of the Superior Being] 1 x [Etched Imperial Amethyst], 1x [Fierce Vermilion Onyx] Expertise to Haste Enchant Boots – Pandaren’s Step
Ring [Ra-den's Ruinous Ring] 1 x [Bold Primordial Ruby] None None
Ring [Band of the Scaled Tyrant] 1 x [Bold Primordial Ruby] Hit to Crit None
Trinket [Fabled Feather of Ji-Kun] None Hit to Haste None
Trinket [Primordius' Talisman of Rage] None Crit to Haste None
Main Hand [Greatsword of Frozen Hells] 1 x [Bold Primordial Ruby], 1 x [Fierce Vermilion Onyx] None Rune of the Fallen Crusader

 

 

 

Trinkets

 

 

 

DW trinket combo rankings:
All trinkets used 580 ilevel gear, with T16 4-set and leg meta/cloak; 10k iterations.
Please note in the case of feather and shadopan, for every hit or expertise point you are over the cap because of them, the ranking goes down by about 4 dps. (1.2 for hit)



Note that the amp trinket becomes better the more gear you get, since it multiples that gear. At lower gear levels it's less awesome, but still awesome. If you want to learn how to set up a personal trinket sim for your character, PM me.
Note 2: Timeless Isle Xuen trinket lies between shadopan and HTF Gaze




2-hand trinket combo rankings:
All trinkets used 580 ilevel gear, with T16 4-set and leg meta/cloak; 10k iterations.
Please note in the case of feather and shadopan, for every hit or expertise point you are over the cap because of them, the ranking goes down by about 4 dps.



Note that the amp trinket becomes better the more gear you get, since it multiples that gear. At lower gear levels it's less awesome, but still awesome. If you want to learn how to set up a personal trinket sim for your character, PM me.
Note 2: Trinket pairs coming maybe!
Note 3: Timeless Isle Xuen trinket lies between flex skeers and HTF feather



 

 

 

Set Bonuses

 

T16

 

  • 2P – Killing Machine and Sudden Doom grant 500 Haste or Mastery, whichever is highest, for X sec, stacking up to 10 times.
  • 4P – Death Coil increases the duration of Dark Transformation by 2 sec per cast. Special attacks while Pillar of Frost is active will impale your target with an icy spike.

T15

  • 2P – Your attacks have a chance to raise the spirit of a fallen Zandalari as your Death Knight minion for 15 sec.
  • 4P – Your Soul Reaper ability now deals additional Shadow Damage to targets below 45% instead of below 35%. Additionally, Killing Machine now also increases the critical strike chance of Soul Reaper.

T14

  • 2P –Your Obliterate, Frost Strike, and Scourge Strike deal 4% increased damage.
  • 4P – Your Pillar of Frost ability grants 5% additional Strength, and your Unholy Frenzy ability grants 10% additional haste.

Consumables

 

Flask: [Flask of Winter's Bite] gives 1000 Strength
Potion: [Potion of Mogu Power] gives 4000 Strength for 25 seconds

 

 

Food:  
[Black Pepper Ribs and Shrimp] 300 Strength
[Eternal Blossom Fish] / [Pandaren Banquet] / [Great Pandaren Banquet]/ [Chao Cookies] 275 Strength
[Charbroiled Tiger Steak] 250 Strength

All Strength food is learned by the Way of the Grill cooking specialization.


 

Gemming, Enchanting, Professions, and Race

 

 

 

 

Gemming

 

 

Color Melee Stats Available
Red Strength, Expertise Rating
Yellow Crit Rating, Haste Rating, Mastery Rating
Blue Hit Rating, Stamina

Currently the best gems for each socket color:

 

 

 

Color Gem
Red [Inscribed Vermilion Onyx]
Red [Skillful Vermilion Onyx]
Yellow [Smooth Sun's Radiance]
Yellow [Fractured Sun's Radiance]
Blue [Piercing Wild Jade]
Blue [Sensei's Wild Jade]

 

 

Meta-Gems

[Capacitive Primal Diamond]
[Reverberating Primal Diamond]


Enchants

 

 

 

Slot Enchant Notes
Back Enchant Cloak – Accuracy or Enchant Cloak – Superior Critical Strike 180 Hit or 180 Crit. Most of the time you'll be so high on hit, you'll want the crit rating.
Shoulder [Greater Tiger Fang Inscription] 200 Strength and 100 Crit
Chest Glorious Stats 80 to All Primary Stats
Bracers Enchant Bracers – Exceptional Strength 180 Strength
Gloves Enchant Gloves – Super Strength 170 Strength
Belt [Living Steel Belt Buckle] Prismatic Socket
Legs Angerhide Leg Armor 285 Strength and 165 Crit
Feet Enchant Boots - Greater Precision, Enchant Boots – Greater Haste, or Enchant Boots – Pandaren’s Step 175 Hit, 175 Haste, or 140 Mastery and move speed. Move speed/mastery is suggested.

 

 

 

Runeforges

Dual wielding will use Rune of the Fallen Crusader on their main hand with Rune of Razorice on their offhand. If able, keep a third weapon enchanted with Rune of Cinderglacier to swap for your off hand weapon to use in AoE scenarios.
These are the correct runeforging, and are further explained in the FAQ.


2H will use Rune of the Fallen Crusader.


Professions

 

Engineering is the top profession due to its 1920 Strength bonus to gloves for 10 seconds every minute (320 strength average passive) which lines up nicely with Pillar of Frost, and frag belt, which is a 500 dps increase per target. Leatherworking, Alchemy, Enchanting, Blacksmithing, and Inscription are all on par giving 320 Strength.

 

 

Name Benefit
Alchemy [Item not found!] and increases the duration of all alchemical consumables
Blacksmithing Smithing allows for an Socket Bracers and Socket Gloves netting 320 strength (2x [Bold Primordial Ruby])
Enchanting Enchant Ring - Greater Strength can be used on both rings for a total of 320 additional strength
Engineering Engineers can add Synapse Springs to gloves (1920 strength * 10s/ 60s cooldown = ~passive 320 strength) and it stacks with normal enchants. Also allows access to Goblin Glider, Nitro Boosts, and Frag Belt
Herbalism Herbalists have the castable Lifeblood ability (1920 haste * 20s / 2 min cooldown = ~passive 320 haste)
Inscription [Secret Tiger Fang Inscription] is an alternative to the standard [Greater Tiger Fang Inscription] shoulder enchant giving an additional 320 Strength
Jewelcrafting 2 x [Bold Serpent's Eye] to socket into your gear instead of 2 x [Bold Primordial Ruby] equates to 320 extra strength
Leatherworking Leatherworkers can add Fur Lining - Strength to wrists and is 320 Strength over Enchant Bracers - Exceptional Strength.
Mining Miners receive a 480 Stamina buff from Toughness
Skinning Skinners receive a 320 critical strike rating bonus from Master of Anatomy
Tailoring Tailors can sew Swordguard Embroidery onto their cloaks replacing other cloak enchants

 

 

Races

 

All the races are listed below with all their racial traits. Death Knights are available to all races except the Pandaren. This is in a vague order of best to worst choice for Frost Death Knights.

 

Alliance

 

Worgen Darkflight, Viciousness, Aberration, Flayer, and Running Wild
Draenei Heroic Presence, Gift of the Naaru, Gemcutting, and Shadow Resistance
Human Sword Specialization, Mace Specialization, Every Man for Himself, Diplomacy, and The Human Spirit
Dwarf Mace Specialization, Stoneform, Frost Resistance, Crack Shot, and Explorer
Gnome Shortblade Specialization, Escape Artist, Engineering Specialization, Expansive Mind, and Arcane Resistance
Night Elf Shadowmeld, Nature Resistance, Quickness, and Wisp Spirit
Pandaren Bouncy, Epicurean, Gormand, Inner Peace, and Quaking Palm

 

Horde

 

Orc Axe Specialization, Blood Fury, Command, and Hardiness
Goblin Time is Money, Rocket Jump, Rocket Barrage, Best Deals Anywhere, Better Living Through Chemistry, and Pack Hobgoblin
Troll Da Voodoo Shuffle, Berserking, Beast Slaying, Dead Eye, and Regeneration
Forsaken Will of the Forsaken, Cannibalize, Shadow Resistance, and Touch of the Grave
Blood Elf Arcane Torrent, Arcane Affinity, and Arcane Resistance
Tauren War Stomp, Cultivation, Endurance, and Nature Resistance
Pandaren Bouncy, Epicurean, Gormand, Inner Peace, and Quaking Palm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mechanics, Mods, Macros, and More

 

 

 

 

Current Raiding Mechanics

 

Raiding mechanics section can be found here.



 

Mods

 

Rune Addons
The default rune UI doesn’t tend to work as well as most Death Knights would like and most use an addon for displaying runes in a clearer, easier to view way. Here are a few mods that do a good job of showing you what you need to know about your runes and runic power. Of utmost importance is to find what mod works best for you. There are many more than the ones listed but these are some of the more common ones.

DKi Runes
DocsDebugRunes
Magic Runes
Acherus Runes
Compact Runes

Boss Addons
Many bosses have timers for moves you need to be aware of. These addons let you know what they are and when they are coming.
DBM
Big Wigs

Cooldowns and Buffs Trackers
Keeping track of the cooldowns of your abilities and trinkets and buffs will allow you to maximize their use.
Power Auras Classic
WeakAuras
TellMeWhen



 

Macros

 

Not many macros are essential for Frost DKs and only one is truly recommended

 

 

#showtooltip Pillar of Frost
/use # (only for on-use items, replace ‘#’ with item slot #)
/cast Pillar of Frost
/cast Raise Dead

Pillar of Frost has a 1 minute cooldown and Raise Dead has a 2 minute cooldown. You can also add any on-use items into this macro. For reference, gloves are item slot 10 and trinkets are slots 13 and 14. You can also add in racials like blood fury and berserking here.

 

FAQ

 

 

Q: Which is stronger: Dual Wield or 2-Hand Frost?
A: Both are pretty close in single target situations, with 2-hand about 5% behind, and you'll generally do better with whatever you have a better weapon for. Dual wield tends to excel at cleave scenarios and AoE, of which there are very many in T16. 2-Hand tends to excel at burst damage due to its extremely strong Obliterates, as well as raw single target damage. 2Hand is also considered by many to be easier, but DW is slightly stronger overall right now.

Q: What is the best race in 5.4?
A: The races differ by under a hundred dps, but I'd have to say orcs, if you have the weapon for it.

Q: Why did haste become so bad?
A: There were several factors that reduce haste's value for 5.4:

1. Haste no longer scales with rppm trinkets/zandy.
2. RC bug removed from the game, stopping it from multiplying with haste to further make the trinket uptime go down.
3. The new PL generates 2 runes every 25 seconds instead of 1, and is basically free if managed right. These extra free runes make haste less necessary to GCD cap.
5. The new AMS glyph reduces the average CD on AMS, allowing you to get more runic from it.
6. The new CD trinket does the same thing.
7. The amp trinket means you need less haste to achieve the same rune regen effect.
8. The T-16-2set, if haste is your highest stat, leads to pushing you above the GCD capped threshold.

Most of these factors do not yet affect people. Even the PL/trinket change alone is enough to drop haste down a bit, and perhaps below crit. Best way to find out if it affects you is to sim yourself.

Q: Why is Rune of the Fallen Crusader on the main hand and Rune of Razorice on the off-hand for DW?
A: SR only procs MH weapon enchants, and you get a basically free slightly higher uptime on FC by putting the enchant on your MH.

Q: I want to dual wield but I don’t like this “masterfrost" priority. What can I do?
A: It is entirely possible to dual wield and not use the “masterfrost" priority and instead use a more 2H-esque priority by using most of your runes for Obliterate rather than Howling Blast. This is a slight DPS loss (between 5-10%) and favors more crit over mastery (Strength > Hit/Exp >Crit > Mastery > Haste).

Q: Our tank died. My group needs me to offtank. What do I do?
A: Non-blood Death Knights have lost their taunt ability, Dark Command, which makes us rather inefficient at quickly grabbing threat on more than one target. You can, however, taunt with Death Grip, if need be. If you must offtank, switch over to Blood Presence and use Icebound Fortitude, Army of the Dead as best you can to stop as much incoming damage as you can while someone (Perhaps you) resurrects the tank.

Q: We need a kiter. Should it be me? What do I need to know?
A: Frost Death Knights make excellent kiters. Howling Blast is a spammable ranged AoE spell that can quickly pick up targets. Talenting into Chilblains will stop most adds in their tracks and prevent them from ever catching up to you. Consider switching to Blood Presence if adds are getting away from you or to Unholy Presence if you find that adds are catching up with you. Death and Decay and Death Coil will both be helpful at holding aggro while keeping at distance.


 

 

Other Resources

To further your individual research about the class, play, and so forth, I also have a list of online resources to recommend:

 

 

 

 

 

Corrections and Updates

 

If you find any errors in this guide or items you feel have been omitted that would help to understand the class please PM me. Let’s leave the thread for discussion.




 

Planned Changes

 

Currently working on:
Fine tune BiS list.
Try to optimize 2H action list a bit.
Double trinket rankings.
I take requests, PM me.



 

Special Thanks

 

  • Euliat for his work on simulating DK stats and priority.
  • Titus Pullo for handling the frost guides since 4.3, and providing the framework for this guide.
  • Magdalena for his work on #Acherus and being a great dude.
  • Kerriodos for his AMAZING T16 Str plate list.
  • Heartless for her unholy guide framework, and the abbreviation list. RIP
  • Theck and Reia for doing amazing things with simc.
  • Jessamy for being a great DK forum mod here at EJ
  • Dant for his awesome artistic contribution.
  • #Acherus
  • Everyone who contributes to this thread for their continued effort at understanding and maximizing the DK class.

 

Change Log

02/25/13: Created, using http://elitistjerks.com/f72/t130617-...ld_hand_death/ as a framework, and updated to be current.
02/28/13: Updated quite a few typos and mistakes, added a planned changes section, and updated note next to stat weights.
03/05/13: 5.2 is here! proofread through guide, and made the following changes: updated dates and thread name with 5.2, updated sim note in introduction, removed all "as of 5.2", and updated abilities to latest changes, split up multiple target into both specs, added new stat weights and finished full loot list for 5.2. Added BiS list 5.2.
03/05/13: Added abbreviation list, thanks to Heartless
03/06/13: Added T5 numbers for 5.2
03/07/13: Added race analysis for 5.2
03/07/13: Added a bunch of stuff, stat weights, t1 ranking, t5 rankings, and changed great-sword of frozen hells source to shared boss, instead of trash.
03/08/13: Added realistic stat weights next to the patchwerk ones.
03/11/13: Added trinket note and legendary meta gem.
03/13/13: Added more trinket info and frost nerf.
03/16/13: Added trinket rankings for normal mode gear; and updated BiS for DW significantly, as well as updated FAQ. Added some frost abbreviations to the list.
03/30/13: Fixed a few broken links, thanks Jessamy.
05/21/13: Updated for 5.3 Nothing to see here.
05/28/13: Finally fixed the 5.3 BiS list for 2-hand frost. Note to self: put in ilevel 600 cape.
06/02/13: Fixed neck for DW to be "obtainable" and added 600 cloak.
07/28/13: RC is now mandatory. (kinda)09/08/13: Updated for 5.4, RC no longer mandatory
09/22/13: Runeforges swapped weapons for DW.
09/24/13: Changed rules for pestilence on AE.
09/25/13: Runeforges swapped weapons for DW.... in the section that I missed. Thanks xtrl9
04/02/14: Baby I'm back! Revamped formatting for new/old EJ text formatting, added new mastersimple/mastercomplicated section. Returning to actually reading comments on the guide. 



Read story →    82 comments    -----

Unholy DPS 5.4 - The Fun has been Doubled!

Sep 08 2013 04:28 PM | Mendenbarr in Death Knight

Last Updated 9/8/2013 By Mendenbarr


9/8/13 | Mists of Pandaria 5.4

 

Contents

Introduction



Welcome to the unholy death knight guide for the masters of death and disease. This guide should cover all of the basics, and serve as a reference for both new players to the class and veterans. The sim work and item lists are accurate to 5.4, unless otherwise specified.
If you find any errors in this guide, broken links, or items you feel have been omitted that would help to understand the class please PM me. Please leave the thread for discussion.


Abbreviations and Keywords


Term Meaning
AMS Anti-Magic Shell
AMZ Anti-Magic Zone
AotD Army of the Dead
AoE Area of Effect
BB Blood Boil
BiS Best in Slot
BP Blood Plague
BS Blood Strike
BT Blood Tap
CoI Chains of Ice
CU Control Undead
DC Death Coil
DG Death Grip
DK Death Knight
DnD Death and Decay
DPS Damage per Second
DT Dark Transformation
DS Death Strike
DSim Dark Simulacrum
EP Ebon Plaguebringer
ERW Empower Rune Weapon
FeS Festering Strike
FF Frost Fever
FP Frost Presence
Gary Gargoyle
GCD Global Cooldown
GoX Glyph of X
HoW Horn of Winter
IBF Icebound Fortitude
ICD Internal Cooldown
IT Icy Touch
MF Mind Freeze
NS Necrotic Strike
OB Outbreak
PoF Path of Frost
PS Plague Strike
RA Raise Ally
RC Runic Corruption
RE Runic Empowerment
Rez Resurrect
RP Runic Power
SD Sudden Doom
SI Shadow Infusion
SS Scourge Strike
SR Soul Reaper
Timmy Ghoul Pet
TX Tier X
UB Unholy Blight
UF Unholy Frenzy
UP Unholy Presence


New in Patch 5.4



Unholy Related Notes (aka "Party Cannon Time")
  • Death Gate now returns the Death Knight to a location near their original departure point when the spell is cast while in Ebon Hold.
  • Icebound Fortitude no longer costs Runic Power.
  • Necrotic Strike now deals 100% weapon damage (down from 150% weapon damage).
  • Soul Reaper's initial damage component has been increased by 30%. If the target is below 35% health after 5 seconds the amount of Shadow Damage dealt has been increased by 20%.
  • Unholy Presence now grants a flat 10% Haste to all things, up from Haste for melee (attack speed and Rune regeneration) only. The movement speed buff remains unchanged.
  • Fixed a bug that caused Improved Blood Presence and Runic Corruption to incorrectly increase activation rates of some trinkets and effects.
  • Master of Ghouls now reduces the cooldown of Raise Dead by 60 seconds.
  • Ghoul's Leap and Gnaw abilities are no longer on a global cooldown, and no longer cost Energy
  • Unholy Might now increases the Death Knight's Strength by 25% (up from 10%).
  • Anti-Magic Zone has been redesigned. The talent now reduces magic damage taken in the area-of-effect by 40% for 3 seconds, there is no longer a cap on total damage absorbed, and the ability no longer scales with strength.
  • Death Siphon had its damage increased by 10%.
  • Plague Leech now tries to convert 2 fully-depleted runes (up from 1) into a Death Rune based on specialization. Unholy: 1 Blood Rune, 1 Frost Rune
  • New Glyph of Festering Blood: Makes Blood Boil treat all targets as if they have been infected with Blood Plague or Frost Fever.
  • New Glyph of Regenerative Magic: If Anti-Magic Shell expires after its full duration, cooldown for the ability is reduced based on the amount of damage absorbed.
  • New Glyph of Swift Death: Haste effect granted by Soul Reaper now also increases the Death Knight's movement speed for the duration.
  • New Glyph of the Loud Horn: Horn of Winter now generates additional Runic Power, but the cooldown is increased.
  • Glyph of Enduring Infection now reduces damage dealt by diseases by 15% (down from a 30% reduction).
  • Glyph of Mind Freeze now reduces the cooldown of Mind Freeze by 1 second, and raises its cost by 10 Runic Power (down from 2 seconds and 20 Runic Power).
  • Glyph of Outbreak now causes Outbreak to cost 30 Runic Power (down from 40).
  • New Glyph of the Long Winter: The Horn of Winter ability now lasts for 1 hour.
  • New Glyph of the Skeleton: The Death Knight's Raise Dead spell now summons a Skeleton instead of a Ghoul.





Previous Changes of Note



What changed for Death Knights between Cataclycsm and Mists of Pandaria? If you're a returning player, this should help get you up to speed.
Spoiler


Talents




The following talent tables include a description of each option and the uses they are most suited to. At the end of each tier, I will make a final analysis to help explain the pros, cons, and key differences between your options. There is no set spec anymore; ultimately, you may pick your current talent lineup based on available information, your personal preference, and the fight at hand.


Level 56



Roiling Blood Your Blood Boil ability now also triggers Pestilence if it strikes a diseased target.
  Roiling Blood is suitable whenever you will be AoEing a lot of mobs that do not spawn all at once, i.e. in staggered aggro. With this talent you can immediately Blood Boil because it will act as an automatic disease spreader between the targets who are already infected and those that are not. This is an amazing talent for AE.
Plague Leech Draw forth the infection from an enemy, consuming your Blood Plague and Frost Fever diseases on the target to activate 2 random fully-depleted runes as a Death Runes.
  This is actually a very nice choice for damage increase, it provides a 2 free runes if we use it right before we refresh diseases, and plays into both maintaining disease uptime and disease gaming. A bit tricky to get used to, but a very solid pick for single target damage.
Unholy Blight Surrounds the Death Knight with a vile swarm of unholy insects for 10 sec, stinging all enemies within 10 yards every 1 sec, infecting them with Blood Plague and Frost Fever.
  In a standard single target situation, Unholy Blight wouldn't be needed because you've managed to maintain your diseases on the target with only Festering Strike and Outbreak. Again in reality, a.k.a. the unfortunate place we've found ourselves in, diseases sometimes fall off the truck when Outbreak is on cooldown. Maybe there was nasty stuff on the floor, there were movement problems, you had to rez someone, or you made a mistake. If you're ever faced with having to manually reapply diseases through IT/PS, Unholy Blight becomes a slight rune savings and quality of life improvement, simple as that. Unholy Blight can also be useful apart from being a cooldown band-aid. For AoE, trash clearing, and 5-mans, and scenarios Unholy Blight is a quick, Pestilence-free disease applier.

Final Analysis: If you're undaunted by, or actually enjoy, micromanaging the timers required to Plague Leech correctly, it has a minor benefit over Unholy Blight. Otherwise, Unholy Blight is plenty useful in dungeons and has repairing effects on play errors if Boss battles get messy. Roiling Blood can be taken when improved, staggered AoE is demanded.

T1 ST DPS rankings:



Level 57



Lichborne Draw upon unholy energy to become undead for 10 sec. While undead, you are immune to Charm, Fear, and Sleep effects, and Death Coil will heal you.
  This talent will probably appeal more to Blood spec and PvPers. For unholy, Death Coil healing is obviously a direct trade for DPS. Lichborne Death Coils will contribute towards Runic Corruption or Runic Empowerment because they do operate off of heals (only on you, not your pet).
Anti-Magic Zone Places a large, stationary Anti-Magic Zone that reduces spell damage done to party or raid members inside it by 40%. The Anti-Magic Zone lasts for 3 sec.
  One of the best cooldowns in the game for strong single hits of magic damage. This will absorb 40% of at least one magic hit, and is downright awesome on single big hits. It still absorbs 3 ticks for abilities that tick every second, and is still very powerful. It's got a very short cooldown as well, but it's weakness is long term sustained damage, physical damage, and times when everyone is spread out.
Purgatory An unholy pacts grants you the ability to fight on through damage that would kill mere mortals. When you would sustain fatal damage, you instead are wrapped in a Shroud of Purgatory, absorbing incoming healing equal to the amount of damage prevented, lasting 3 sec. If any healing absorption remains when Shroud of Purgatory expires, you die. Otherwise, you survive. This effect may only occur every 3 min.
  Purgatory is what you could call 'redshirt insurance'. When you would receive damage that is fatal, you're instead dropped to 1 hp and given 3 seconds to heal back the amount of damage that you should have sustained. The best outcome is that you and your healers are able to dissipate the Shroud of Purgatory in time. You can even try to save yourself with a self-heal like Death Pact. Alternately, i.e. the 'classic Samurai movie' outcome, is that you sustain too much damage but you go down with a dramatic, drawn out death scene where you compliment your killer's excellent technique. Timmy will weep for your loss and seek appropriate revenge for his fallen master by taking up your sword. (Ok, why is this not a real addition to the talent? Just saying.) You'll notice that if you've used Purgatory, you receive Perdition (a debuff) that prevents the effect from occuring more than once every 3 minutes.

Final Analysis: Purgatory should be your go-to talent, unless you can get enough benefit out of AMZ to make it worthwhile. That actually happens a fair bit with the redesign, so if the fight has significant magic damage, and everyone is grouped up at that point, consider AMZ. Lichbourne is not forgotten, but unless you need it to break a CC, it's not worth taking over AMZ/Purg


Level 58



Death's Advance Movement speed increased by 30%. Cannot be slowed below 100% of normal run speed.
  Death's Advance is an amazing talent. We've been asking for ways to help us deal with the parity between casters and melee and increased mobility is a welcomed addition. The most common question concerning run speed is "What does this stack with?". The answer is, happily, most everything...
 
Effects Movement Speed
Death's Advance passive without Unholy Presence 110%
Unholy Presence 115%
Unholy Presence + Death's Advance passive 126%
10% of 115 is 11.5, so 115+11.5 = 126.5 -
Unholy Presence + Death's Advance passive + Death's Advance active 149%
The two DA effects do not stack so it's just 30% of Unholy Presence being gained -
Unholy Presence + Death's Advance passive + Darkflight (Worgen Racial) 161%

Final Analysis: Death's Advance is the go-to talent here, but if your group needs a stun/slow, while you're not the best choice to supply them, they remain an option.


Level 60



Death Pact Drain vitality from an undead minion, healing the Death Knight for 50% of their maximum health and causing the minion to suffer damage equal to 50% of its maximum health.
  This talent is fantastic. 50% of our health, that's effectively free, on a short 2 minute cooldown? Very nice survival cooldown.
Death Siphon Deal X Shadowfrost damage to an enemy, healing the Death Knight for 150% of damage dealt.
  This ability does decent healing, but suffers from the fact that it costs damage to use. Has a niche use that let's unholy spend runes during air phases.
Conversion Continuously converts Runic Power to health, restoring 3% of maximum health every 1 sec. Only base Runic Power generation from spending runes may occur while Conversion is active. This effect lasts until canceled, or Runic Power is exhausted.
  Conversion suffers from the same problem that death siphon does; it's not free. It's a really neat idea though.

Final Analysis: Death Pact offers us the most healing, it offers healing in burst which is most likely to save your life, and it offers it for free. Take death pact.


Level 75



Blood Tap Each damaging Death Coil, Frost Strike, or Rune Strike generates 2 Blood Charges, up to a maximum of 12 charges. Blood Tap consumes 5 Blood Charges to activate a random fully-depleted rune as a Death Rune.
  In its most current iteration, Blood Tap is back off the GCD and the Blood Charges have a duration of 24 seconds which is refreshed with each new generation. One other distinguishing feature of Blood Tap is that the consumption will activate a fully-depleted rune as a Death Rune. Even though it's not in the tooltip, Blood Tap's priority for Unholy spec is to activate depleted Blood and Frost Runes rather than Unholy ones. It would be wonderful if this was a baseline ability, but such is unlife.
Runic Empowerment When you land a damaging Death Coil, Frost Strike, or Rune Strike, you have a 45% chance to activate a random fully-depleted rune.
 Its effect on rune activation is random but it's completely passive and not open to error. Does not return runes if there are no open rune slots available.
Runic Corruption When you land a damaging Death Coil, Frost Strike, or Rune Strike, you have a 45% chance to activate Runic Corruption, increasing your rune regeneration rate by 100% for X sec.
  The time that a Runic Corruption will last is variable and decreasing based on your character's haste because RC's actual duration is 30% of your rune regen time. So, if you had a base rune speed of 7s, your RC would alter your rune speed to 3.5s for 2.1s. Again, this talent is completely passive and it affects all runes equally.

Final Analysis: Choose where you want your regen shot administered. "Would you like this shot in the bum, shoulder, or 'surprise me'?" They're simulating very closely with one another (all within <2% range). Blood Tap is testing highest and provides an elective window to use the proc which places the reward or blame on you. If you're more dependent on Death Runes (for Death Siphon or perhaps Necrotic Strike), then Blood Tap provides that specific gain you're looking for too. Runic Empowerment can also be manipulated to a small degree (i.e. 'gaming') by purposely avoiding the full depletion of a rune. Runic Corruption suffers some due to the inverse haste scaling, but its mechanic is still interesting to a number of players, and it's the simplest to use.

T5 ST DPS ranking



Level 90



Gorefiend's Grasp Shadowy tendrils coil around all enemies within 20 yards of a target (hostile or friendly), pulling them to the target's location.
  Gorefiend's Grasp is like an AoE deathgrip, but with some crucial differences. Firstly, it doesn't taunt the enemies and secondly, it pulls nearby enemies to a target. The target could be you or someone else entirely. The obvious PvE example would be to cast Gorefiend's Grasp on your tank in order to draw the mobs closer to them. Or, if your job was to help AoE a certain group of enemies, you could cast it on yourself to help keep those mobs in your range. Stacking those enemies together will let you wipe them out in 10 seconds flat. Lastly, you may have also noticed that this talent says you can designate a hostile target for Gorefriend's Grasp. Are the wheels turning yet? I'll let your imagination help you decide how best to use that. This is completely unique to death knights.
Remorseless Winter Surrounds the Death Knight with a swirling tempest of frigid air for 8 sec, chilling enemies within 8 yards every 1 sec. Each pulse reduces targets' movement speed by 15% for 3 sec, stacking up to 5 times. Upon receiving a fifth application, an enemy will be stunned for 6 sec.
  Remorseless Winter could be used in a similar manner to Gorefiend's Grasp. After casting it on yourself, you become a mobile snare to either help a tank or condense mobs for AoE. If you're able to keep the mobs within your 8 yard range for 5 seconds (5 stacks), the resulting stun has a fair duration.
Desecrated Ground Corrupts the ground in a 8 yard radius beneath the Death Knight for 10 sec. While standing in this corruption, the Death Knight is immune to effects that cause loss of control. This ability instantly removes such effects when activated.
  The talent is roughly equivalent to the effect of a basic PvP trinket or a Shaman's Tremor Totem. Desecrated Ground has a 2 minute cooldown and will be a reprieve in more specific situations.

Final Analysis: None of these talents impart directly damaging effects, so your decision will revolve around the dungeons or raids at hand. Speaking generally, Gorefiend's Grasp and Remorseless Winter will have the widest appeal since they impart added mob control on a 1 minute timer. Desecrated Ground, on the other hand, is so specific that it will be a deliberate substitute for certain fights.


Glyphs




Major



Major glyphs are all fairly situational and the ideal ones to use may change from fight to fight. This lists contains all the major glyphs although there are some that are not applicable for Unholy.
[Glyph of Anti-Magic Shell] Causes you Anti-Magic Shell to absorb all incoming magical damage, up to the absorption limit.
[Glyph of Chains of Ice] Your Chains of Ice also causes 150 Frost damage, with additional damage depending on your attack power.
[Glyph of Dancing Rune Weapon] Increases your threat generation by 100% while your Dancing Rune Weapon is active, but reduces its damage dealt by 25%.
[Glyph of Dark Simulacrum] Reduces the cooldown of Dark Simulacrum by 30 sec and increases its duration by 4 sec.
[Glyph of Dark Succor] When you kill an enemy that yields experience or honor, while in Frost or Unholy presence, your next Death Strike within 15 sec is free and will restore at least 20% of your maximum health.
[Glyph of Unholy Frenzy] Causes your Unholy Frenzy to no longer deal damage to the affected target.
[Glyph of Outbreak] Your Outbreak spell no longer has a cooldown, but now costs 30 Runic Power.
[Glyph of Vampiric Blood] Increases the bonus healing received while your Vampiric Blood is active by an additional 15%, but your Vampiric Blood no longer grants you health.
[Glyph of Unholy Command] Immediately finishes the cooldown of your Death Grip upon dealing a killing blow to a target that grants experience or honor.
[Glyph of Death Coil] Your Death Coil spell is now usable on all allies. When cast on a non-undead ally, Death Coil shrouds them with a protective barrier that absorbs up to ((0 + 0.495 * AP) * 1) damage.
[Glyph of Pestilence] Increases the radius of your Pestilence effect by 5 yards.
[Glyph of Pillar of Frost] Empowers your Pillar of Frost, making you immune to all effects that cause loss of control of your character, but also reducing your speed by 70% while active.
[Glyph of Death Grip] Increases the range of your Death Grip ability by 5 yards.
[Glyph of Death and Decay] Your Death and Decay also reduces the movement speed of enemies within its radius by 50%.
[Glyph of Icebound Fortitude] Reduces the cooldown of your Icebound Fortitude by 50%, but also reduces its duration by 75%.
[Glyph of Icy Touch] Your Icy Touch dispels one helpful Magic effect from the target.
[Glyph of Shifting Presences] You retain 70% of your Runic Power when switching Presences.
[Glyph of Enduring Infection] Your diseases are undispellable, but their damage dealt is reduced by 15%.
[Glyph of Strangulate] Increases the Silence duration of your Strangulate ability by 2 sec when used on a target who is casting a spell.
[Glyph of Mind Freeze] Reduces the cooldown of your Mind Freeze ability by 1 sec, but also raises its cost by 10 Runic Power.
[Glyph of Festering Blood] Makes Blood Boil treat all targets as if they have been infected with Blood Plague or Frost Fever.
[Glyph of Regenerative Magic] If Anti-Magic Shell expires after its full duration, cooldown for the ability is reduced based on the amount of damage absorbed.
[Glyph of Swift Death] Haste effect granted by Soul Reaper now also increases the Death Knight's movement speed for the duration.
[Glyph of Loud Horn] Horn of Winter now generates additional Runic Power, but the cooldown is increased.


Suggested glyphs:
[Glyph of Regenerative Magic] is almost always useful.
[Glyph of Loud Horn] is a straight up damage gain.
[Glyph of Unholy Frenzy] is a good choice if nothing else jumps out.
[Glyph of Festering Blood] is great for snap AE.
[Glyph of Icebound Fortitude] is good for increasing your survival.
[Glyph of Pestilence] is great for AE.


Most of the glyphs have a niche where they are useful, and only a handful of them increase damage by a noticeable amount. Try them out and see which ones fit best with play-style, and whatever fight you are trying to beat. We have way too many useful glyphs to use them all.



Minor



Minor glyphs are mostly cosmetic in MoP but a handful can be helpful in some situations. Army of the Dead, Death’s Embrace, Path of Frost, Resilient Grip, Tranquil Grip can all be useful when needed.
[Glyph of Army of the Dead] The ghouls summoned by your Army of the Dead no longer taunt their target.
[Glyph of Corpse Explosion] Teaches you the ability [Spell]Corpse Explosion[/Spell].
[Glyph of Death Gate] Reduces the cast time of your Death Gate spell by 60%.
[Glyph of Death's Embrace] Your Death Coil refunds 20 Runic Power when used to heal an allied minion.
[Glyph of Foul Menagerie] Causes your Army of the Dead spell to summon an assortment of undead minions.
[Glyph of Horn of Winter] When used outside of combat, your Horn of Winter ability causes a brief, localized snow flurry.
[Glyph of Path of Frost] Your Path of Frost ability allows you to fall from a greater distance without suffering damage.
[Glyph of Resilient Grip] When your Death Grip ability fails because its target is immune, its cooldown is reset.
[Glyph of Tranquil Grip] Your Death Grip spell no longer taunts the target.
[Glyph of the Geist] Your Raise Dead spell summons a geist instead of a ghoul.
[Glyph of the Long Winter] The Horn of Winter ability now lasts for 1 hour.
[Glyph of the Skeleton] The Death Knight's Raise Dead spell now summons a Skeleton instead of a Ghoul.

Priority & Play



There are two "schools" of Unholy play being discussed right now at the onset of 5.4: standard and "Festerblight". In case you haven't perused the other threads in the EJ DK forum, let's talk about Festerblight for a moment.

The principle of Festerblight is rather simple: you use all your trinkets and buffs then apply your diseases with Unholy Blight. For the duration of the fight, you use Festering Strike more often to keep these original diseases applied. Not too complicated, right? Mendenbarr has a thread that covers the details of Festerblight if you'd like to dig in and give it a try:

Unfortunately, festerblight is no longer viable as of 5.4.
It has died a valiant death, and we shall keep it's memory in our cold, still hearts.

The reason festerblight was viable in 5.2/5.3 was feather. We went from a combined total of 8k str in T14 gear to about 30k, from feather/shadopan or feather/rage. That's an increase of 275% more strength than the prior tier. At the same time, ilevel went from 517 to 549 (for US, same rules apply for Asia, just 8 ilevels higher), which was 32 more ilevels. 32 ilevels increase stats by a ballpark of about 30%, so you would expect 8k to become about 11k, but we got 30k instead.
Right off the bat, for 5.4, feather has been nerfed 20%. It now provides 16k str instead of 19k str for the 549 version. On top of that, the two new trinkets, at 580 ilevel, have a combined str of about 30k, and it would need to be about 30% higher (because of the ilevel jump) to break even with festerblight's gain now. We would need about 40k str from trinkets alone to get festerblight up to the same, small gain it is now. It had already fallen from it's peak in 5.2 with the tricks nerf for 5.3

This logic is confirmed by sims, if you take the simC profile linked in the festerblight section of the unholy guide, and run it against traditional unholy now, you'll see that it is a single target loss.
And that doesn't even count the fact that near every fight this tier is full of target swaps and cleave and AE, all of which is unfriendly to festerblight. On top of that, the we can't benefit from the PL buff with festerblight.

That's not to say festerblight is NEVER viable. It's possible that if damage only matters in a certain phase, (think lei shen p3), that it's worth sacrificing some of your single target damage in order to get that higher burst at the end. It's also within reason that there is a fight with a large damage buff at the start that doesn't come back up. I'm not aware of any such circumstances yet, but if any show up, I will update the guide.

Keeping up high diseases, and then refreshing them when new trinkets proc, is still viable, and optimal, and it's called disease gaming. Festerblight is all about keeping one set of diseases rolling the entire fight, and that is not viable.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled style...

Presence


Unholy

Runeforge


Rune of the Fallen Crusader

Single Target Priority




Standard Single Target Priority
Target < 35%, Soul Reaper
> Diseases
> Scourge Strike/Death and Decay*(Unholy/Death Runes are Capped)
> Dark Transformation
> Death Coil (Sudden Doom, high RP)
> Festering Strike (BB and FF are up)
> Scourge Strike
> Festering Strike
> Horn of Winter

Soul Reaper
Whether it's a boss or a lesser-type jerk, you want to take advantage of the massive direct damage. Prepare yourself for the execute phase! Soul Reaper hits like a truck on steroids, and maximizing it's use goes a long way towards doing the most damage possible.

For significant monsters and bosses, the slower decay of the health pool will obviously afford you multiple damaging uses. If you are feeling confident, you can be 'predictive' with your cast of Soul Reaper. For instance, if your target is =>35% but you feel, with a high amount of certainty, that it will dip below 35% within 5 seconds (or 45% if you have the T15 4 piece bonus), you can pre-cast Soul Reaper to increase the number of potential uses you will get. Every 6 seconds recast Soul Reaper until the target's death is imminent. Retain the necessary runes to make sure you can Soul Reaper without delay.

Diseases
From the start of combat, you can cast Outbreak or Unholy Blight (if you chose it as the lvl 56 talent option) to apply your diseases quickly. If Outbreak and Unholy Blight are unavailable for whatever reason, you will have re-apply diseases manually. Ah, but here's some good news! Plague Strike (via Ebon Plaguebringer) now applies Frost Fever for us. So, what was once an awkward tickle fight is now a gentlemanly substitution of Plague Strike for Scourge Strike. Runes are left in a smoother order and that allows you to keep your rhythm which, I think, ultimately makes the spec more fluid and downright fun to play.

If you've spec'd into Plague Leech, you will want to consume your diseases with less than 3 seconds remaining and reapply them ASAP afterwards.
Ebon Plaguebringer was reworked so that Blood Plague applies a physical vulnerability and for each disease you apply to a target, your Scourge Strike will deal an additional 25% of the physical damage (up from 18%) done as shadow damage. Diseases should never be neglected anyways, so this is just one more good reminder.

Scourge Strike/Death and Decay
Death and Decay hits harder than Scourge Strike by a margin so even in a true single target scenario, you will be replacing a SS with a DnD whenever DnD is off CD and the target will not move out of the area. Death and Decay should be saved if there's a second target that would take multiple ticks of the spell coming up soon.

Dark Transformation
Your Death Coils, aside from damaging your target, will apply a Shadow Infusion buff on your Ghoul which is capable of stacking up to 5 times. The player can consume the 5 charges of Shadow Infusions on the Ghoul to transform it into a super timmy undead monstrosity for 30 seconds. A minor factor in your overall DPS is maximizing Dark Transformation's uptime (see the Mods section in this guide for suggestions about monitoring DT and Shadow Infusion).

Death Coil
Similar to efficient rune expenditure, we want to capitalize on Sudden Doom procs. Death Coil may be done freely to make use of Sudden Doom procs, to build Shadow Infusion stacks quickly (as prioritized above in Dark Transformation), to proc our level 75 talent of choice, and to avoid the RP cap.

Festering Strike
In the continued philosophy of utilizing our runes and managing cooldowns, supplement your priority with Festering Strike. With Reaping (from our Unholy specialization), the runes consumed by Festering Strike (as well as Pestilence and Blood Boil) will become death runes when they reactivate. Also, Festering Strike serves the very important purpose of adding 6 seconds to your diseases. Mechanics allowing, our diseases are sustainable. It’s like watering a plant of doom. DOOM!


Scourge Strike/Death and Decay and Festering Strike
This is your ‘rinse and repeat’ in order when you have runes (and the cooldown) available.

Horn of Winter
When all else fails, you can toot your horn for RP and to maintain its uptime for yourself and cohorts. It’s a step above twiddling your thumbs during a GCD.

AoE Target Priority


AoE Target Priority
Diseases + spread (based on your talent pick at level 56)
> Dark Transformation
> Death and Decay (UU)
> Blood Boil (BB and FF or Death Runes)
> Scourge Strike (UU)
> Death Coil (Sudden Doom, high RP)

Firstly, you will no longer change presences for AoE since Frost's effects have been altered. Secondly, our AoE rotation works best when we're prepared and have planned our runes out ahead of time. The ideal way to enter AoE combat is with 4 Death Runes (DD|DD|UU). This allows us to spam Blood Boil ad infinitum. 2 Festering Strikes are an obvious way to fully deplete Blood and Frost Runes so that they come back as Death Runes. If you find yourself with two orphan frost runes, use icy touch to turn them into death runes and continue the carnage.

Diseases
For staggered AoE situations, players with Roiling Blood can spread their diseases immediately from one infected target to others through Blood Boil (which saves a LOT of GCDs). Players with Unholy Blight can of course use this ability to infect everything within 10 yards. If neither option is available, and the mobs will live more than a few seconds, then Pestilence is in order. Pestilence would also help to convert any remaining Blood Runes into Death Runes. One caveat on this: do not Pestilence if it will pull an adjoining group or if there is a CC nearby. This is particularly noteworthy if you are glyphed for extended range on Pestilence. Mages get really frustrated when their sheep spasms with cooties and comes to cough in their face.

Dark Transformation
Transforming Timmy when he's ready to hulk out is still very important, as he cleaves through mobs like butter. Well, maybe more like something nearly as soft as butter, but not quite.

Death and Decay/Scourge Strike (if on CD)
Drop Death and Decay to begin the cooldown and have a sustained AoE while you Blood Boil. Scourge Strike whenever your Death Runes are refilling and DnD is on cooldown. Make sure to only use unholy runes.

Blood Boil
Blood Boil is now a part of Reaping for Unholy DKs which means that anytime we use it, those runes will become Death Runes when they activate. Fire at will!

Death Coil
Same as with single target priority.


Ghoul


Timmy is still some of your best damage so it’s wise to learn how to use him properly.
For extra control in pvp, bind his Attack/Follow/Stay & Huddle commands to keys/buttons you can access quickly. For the most part, Timmy is a resilient pet. He has an unspoken 95% AoE damage reduction and can be healed by your Death Coil (discounted healing with Glyph of Death’s Embrace). For PVE, he does very well on auto-pilot, but make sure to monitor if he's alive or not, and be ready to resummon him in the rare instances where he or you die.


Survival and Utility


To quote Ghostcrawler, "Dungeons are hard."
He's a really quotable dude.
Another, irrelevant one;
"Folks, simulated DPS is not DPS. Please don't use it as evidence. We're not going to take it seriously."

Raise Ally 30 Runic Power 10 minutes
Raise Ally is instant cast, costs 30 Runic Power, and has a 10-minute cooldown. The requisite Runic Power means you must be in the midst of combat activity and temporarily forgo your personal DPS for the benefit of returning others to the field. It shares the same global battle resurrection cap with other players, so like our Druid and Warlock rezzers, communication with the raid before and during an encounter is required. Only one manner of resurrection is allowed in a 10-man and three within a 25-man fight (excluding self-resurrections) so there is stressed value in using it wisely. Also be aware that Death Knight resurrection brings the player back with 60% health (up from 20%) and 20% mana. Resurrections have raid saving potential so don't waste it by selecting the wrong person or watching someone accept prematurely. Often people are so eager to be rezzed that they will immediately take their resurrection and get killed again. Macros or Vent/Mumble are both fine ways to warn the recipient to take their rez with discretion.

Control Undead 1 Unholy
Just like the tooltip says, we can dominate an undead creature. While controlled, the time between the undead minion's attacks is increased by 30% and its casting speed is slowed by 20%. The effect lasts up to 5 min. It won't work on bosses, hostile player ghouls, or hostile player's with Lichborne active. Mobs it does work on will follow you around like a spooky puppy until the spell wears off or you cross a loading transition (instances, portals, hearth, logging, etc.). The downside is that Control Undead counts as your one and only pet. You can't control an NPC and your ghoul so its reward must be weighed against the crucial benefit of Timmy's DPS and delightful banter. Disappointing lack of use so far in MoP.

Anti-Magic Shell 45 seconds
Using Anti-Magic Shell intelligently is one of the key aspects that separates the 'good' Death Knights from the 'great' ones. AMS provides a two-fold benefit and understanding it well will optimize your play.
Firstly, AMS is a powerful defensive ability that absorbs 75% (or 100% if glyphed) of the damage dealt by harmful spells up to 50% of your total health and prevents the application of harmful magical effects. In heavy damage situations, this is a lifesaver and aids on healing resources.
Secondly, and often underutilized, is AMS's DPS boon. Damage absorption will cause you to generate a substantial amount of Runic Power. When you can anticipate AMS a few seconds ahead of time, make sure to have very low RP so that you do not cap while under the effect.
The caveats associated with AMS is not to use it when you a required to get a magical debuff (which can be a gimmick in certain fights) and to not use it with AMZ expecting it to stack (Shell will override AMZ). The new glyph of regenerative magic, plus the 580 trinket bring AMS's CD down to 20 seconds. 20 seconds guys. YAY!
This is reduced by the cooldown trinket.


Army of the Dead 1 Blood 1 Unholy 1 Frost 10 minutes
Army of the Dead will channel over 4 seconds to summon a gaggle of ghouls to giggle at the ghosties. Like Raise Dead, Army of the Dead will scale with your AP, haste, and hit throughout its duration. The best time to use Army of the Dead will vary from boss to boss, but it is typically best to use right before the beginning of an encounter or in any phase transition where you will not be and cannot be on the boss and no DPS will be lost. One note about Army of the Dead is that although the summoned ghouls will not taunt a raid boss, they will taunt most adds present on boss encounters. The corresponding glyph can stop your ghouls from taunting when needed.This is reduced by the cooldown trinket.

Empower Rune Weapon 5 minutes
Activates all your runes and provides 25 Runic Power once every 5 minutes. Ideally you’ll want to use this any time when you need some heavy burst, and the burst from ERW is so awesome. Try to line it up with all your Runes being on cooldown and having low amounts of Runic Power. This will reset your whole priority, which can throw people off when they find themselves with 6 runes off cooldown and high Runic Power. You’ll likely cap your Runic Power when you use Empower Rune Weapon. Don’t worry about it; continue the priority as you would normally. Depending on the length of the fight you may be able to use this more than once by using it early in the fight. This is reduced by the cooldown trinket.

Outbreak 1 minute
Outbreak will apply both Frost Fever and Blood Plague to your target once a minute. As Unholy DKs, we will mainly use this as a free disease application. In some situations, like fights with heavy target switching, it is best to save Outbreak for quickly applying your diseases to a target that needs to be burned down. This is reduced by the cooldown trinket.

Dark Simulacrum 1 minute
Dark Simulacrum allows a Death Knight to place a debuff on a target that will grant the DK the ability to copy the next spell the target casts that costs mana. There are few to no encounters where this comes into play in PvE, unfortunately. You can glyph this cooldown down to 30 seconds with [Glyph of Dark Simulacrum].


Icebound Fortitude 3 minutes
Our standard defensive ability. A 20% damage taken reduction for 12 seconds as well as making you immune to stun effects. Use this when you know heavy damage is incoming. Don't make the easy mistake of using it after you've already taken a good chunk of damage; anticipate damage to get the most out of this ability. The glyph for this ability reduces the duration down to 3 seconds, and the CD down to 1.5 minutes, and is normally worth it because it let's you absorb that big hit that is likely to kill you. This is reduced by the cooldown trinket.

Mind Freeze 15 seconds
This is our basic interrupt. It is off the global cooldown and you must be in melee range to use it.

Strangulate 1 Blood 1 minute
Mind Freeze’s BBBFF Strangulate interrupts and silences a player target for 5 seconds and can interrupt non-player spell casting for 3 seconds. Unlike Mind Freeze, Strangulate is a 30 yard ranged silence, and costs a Blood Rune to use. This is a last resort in a PvE context. It will slow down your damage by expending one of your runes. As such, this is going to sit in your back pocket for most fights, but can really save the day when it is needed.

Summon Gargoyle 3 minutes
Gary the Gargoyle has received quite a lot of love recently. Did those dance lessons pay off? Maybe it's Maybelline? Actually, it's probably because his cast no longer costs Runic Power AND his Gargoyle Strike now deals Shadow Damage in addition to Nature Damage. The removal of the Runic Power cost clears any doubt or reservation we may have had before about casting him. Call up Gary; that guy knows how to party! Unholy's strongest cooldown. This is reduced by the cooldown trinket.

Unholy Frenzy 3 minutes
Behold and be amazed at blood lusts second half cousin twice removed. Not only does unholy frenzy provide a sizable chunk of haste, it's also castable on any raid member, giving you the freedom to empower a guildmate when they have served you well, or take away their power when they displease you. Stacks with lust, though when you're GCD capped you get a reduced benefit from it, and does not give any bonus to gary, he scales with spell haste and not melee haste.



Consumables


Consumables can add a significant bonus to your primary DPS stat. These are must haves for optimum performance.

Type Options
Flask [Flask of Winter's Bite]
Potion [Potion of Mogu Power]
Food [Black Pepper Ribs and Shrimp]



Character Optimization



Race


There are immediate and undeniable PVE performance benefits to what race you select. Each race also brings unique aesthetics and story that is a totally separate matter of opinion.

Alliance




Worgen
Viciousness Increases critical strike chance by 1%
Darkflight Increased movement speed by 40% for 10 seconds (2 min cooldown)
Aberration Reduces Shadow and Nature damage taken by 1%
Running Wild Increase ground speed by 60%/100%
Flayer Skinning skill increased by 15 and allows you to skin faster
Two Forms Turn into your currently inactive form

Verdict: More crit and movement increasing effects are stellar for any melee DPS class. Alliance Death Knights looking to optimize will therefore find Worgen of the most interest.




Draenei  
Heroic Presence Increases your chance to hit with all spells and attacks by 1%
Gift of the Naaru Heals the target for 20% of the caster's total health over 15 sec (3 min cooldown)
Gemcutting Jewelcrafting skill increased by 10
Shadow Resistance Reduces Shadow damage taken by 1%

Verdict: 1% hit will reduce the cap and allow for some more creative reforging. The free heal is also significant.




Human 
Every Man for Himself Removes movement & control impairing effects (2 min cooldown)
Diplomacy Reputation gains increased by 10%
Mace & Sword Specialization Expertise with swords and maces is increased by 1%
The Human Spirit Spirit increased by 3%

Verdict: The added expertise is beneficial if you conveniently happen to equip such a weapon. Asides from that potential, the ability to simultaneously run away and still be well liked gets an impressed nod. Humans will fare the best through reputation grinds.




Dwarf  
Stoneform Remove poison, disease, and bleed effects; +10% damage reduction for 8 seconds (2 min cooldown)
Mace Specialization Expertise with maces is increased by 1%
Frost Resistance Reduces Frost damage taken by 1%
Explorer You find additional fragments when looting archaeological finds and you can survey faster than normal archaeologists
Crackshot Expertise with ranged weapons is increased by 1%

Verdict: Dwarves also have a potential addition to expertise and a nice ability to counteract common status effects. Stoneform is a bit less desirable than Every Man for Himself on the basis that mobility is still preferred.




Gnome
Escape Artist Escape immobilization or movement speed reduction effect (1.5 min cooldown)
Shortblade Specialization Expertise with Daggers and 1H-Swords is increased by 1%
Arcane Resistance Reduces Arcane damage by 1%
Engineering Specialization Engineering increased by 15 points
Expansive Mind Mana pool is increased by 5%

Verdict: As another form of movement restoration, Escape Artist has plenty of great PVE uses. The rest of their racials unfortunately fall short in terms of use for a Death Knight.




Night Elf  
Shadowmeld Stationary stealth (2 min cooldown)
Quickness Reduces the chance of melee/ranged attackes hit you by 2%
Wisp Spirit 75% increased death speed (+25% than other races)
Nature Resistance Reduces Nature damage taken by 1%

Verdict: Being a Night Elf provides no tangible benefit for Death Knights, but hide-and-go-seek with Darion Mograine will have acceptable results.

Horde




Orc  
Blood Fury Increase attack/spell power for 15 seconds (2 min cooldown)
Command Damage dealt by Death Knight, Hunter, and Warlock pets increased by 2% (down from 5%)
Axe Specialization Expertise with Fist Weapons, Axes, and 2-H Axes is increased by 1%
Hardiness 15% stun duration reduction

Verdict: Given that Orcs have both pet damage and attack power and extra expertise, they make really good Death Knights.



Goblin  
Time is Money 1% attack speed
Rocket Jump Jump forward (2 min cooldown, shared with Rocket Barrage)
Rocket Barrage launches rockets at enemy (2 min cooldown, shared with Rocket Jump)
Best Deals Anywhere receive the best discount regardless of faction
Pack Hobgoblin Bank access 1 minute (30 min cooldown)
Better Living Through Chemistry Alchemy increased by 15 points

Verdict: Goblin racials are rather amazing for melee DPS like Death Knights.



Troll  
Berserking 20% increased attack speed for 10 seconds (3 min cooldown)
Da Voodoo Shuffle 15% reduction of movement impairing effects
Regeneration Health regen rate increased by 10%, 10% of total regeneration during combat
Beast Slaying 5% damage versus beasts
Deadeye Expertise with ranged weapons is increased by 1%

Verdict: A short haste bonus and a snare reduction isn't bad, but it's a downgrade in comparison to Orcs and Goblins.




Forsaken  
Will of the Forsaken Removes charm, fear, and sleep (2 min cooldown)
Cannibalize Regen 7% health every 2 seconds for 10 seconds (2 min cooldown)
Shadow Resistance Reduces Shadow damage taken by 1%
Touch of the Grave Your attacks and damaging spells have a chance to drain the target, dealing X amount of Shadow damage and healing you for the same amount.

Verdict: Touch of the Grave's damage/heal scales with mastery and is more optimized than what Belfs and the moo cows have to offer.



Blood Elf  
Arcane Torrent Silence all enemies within 8yds for 2 seconds and gain 15 runic power (2 min cooldown)
Arcane Affinity Enchanting increased by 10
Magic Resistance Reduces Arcane damage taken by 1%

Verdict: The silence can be helpful when Mind Freeze is down or when you just want an ounce of free RP to Death Coil. Asides from that, you're basically joining this race for the hair: the superbly immaculate hair.



Tauren  
War Stomp Stuns up to 5 enemies within 8yds for 2 seconds (2 min cooldown)
Endurance Base health increased by 5%
Nature Resistance Reduces Nature damage taken by 1%
Cultivation Herbalism increased by 15 points and speeds the gathering process

Verdict: Tauren are on par with Night Elves in regards to lacking useful PVE racials. "The cow goes 'boooooo'."


Professions



When it comes to professions, the biggest question is, "Which ones give the most strength?". Alchemy, Leatherworking, Enchanting, Blacksmithing, Inscription, and Engineering are all on par by conveying 320 strength and are excellent choices as well. Engineering, as has been the case for a long while, provides us that strength via the Synapse Springs (Mark II) which can be used for 10s every 60s. It's slightly superior, as it allows you to stack cooldowns together for increased benefit, and gives you access to toys like goblin glider, rocket boots, and frag bomb. Blacksmithing is the second best choice by a small, small amount, as it let's you pick which secondary stats you want to take, unlike most of the other professions which are locked into strength, or in the case of JCing, give half the secondaries that BS gives.

In terms of long term benefits, any of the aforementioned six tradeskills are great options. If you're looking to absolutely maximize your Death Knight's strength gains, you can relegate gathering to another character so that you have 640 bonus strength from crafting professions.

Name Benefit
Alchemy Alchemists receive the [Alchemist's Flask] and an increase to the duration of related consumables. Do note that the tooltip, as of this writing, appears to be incorrect. Alchemists are experiencing a 320 stat bonus in actual practice.
Blacksmithing Blacksmiths are able to socket both bracers and gloves with an additional socket. Each socket would then derive a 320 strength from 2x [Bold Primordial Ruby].
Enchanting Enchanters may add [Enchant Ring - Greater Strength] to both rings for a total gain of 320 strength.
Engineering Engineers can add [Synapse Springs] (Mark II) to gloves (1920 strength * 10s/ 60s cooldown = passive 320 strength) and it stacks with normal enchants.
Herbalism Herbalists still have their castable heal and self-buff in the form of Lifeblood. The spell grants 2880 haste for 20 seconds on a 2 minute cooldown so, effectively, it conveys 480 haste.
Inscription Similar to Leatherworkers, Inscriptionists can enhance shoulder enchants beyond the norm. By applying their [Secret Tiger Fang Inscription], they gain 320 strength as well.
Jewelcrafting Jewelcrafters may add 2x [Bold Serpent's Eye] to socket into your gear instead of 2x [Bold Primordial Ruby] equates to 320 additional strength.
Leatherworking Leatherworkers have a wrist slot enhancement via Fur Lining - Strength. Where a normal person could enchant their wrists up to 180 strength, Leatherworkers add 500 strength, so 320 more.
Mining Miners still receive a bonus to stamina and it has increased to 480.
Skinning Likewise, Skinners receive their 480 critical strike rating bonus.
Tailoring As with last patch, they still receive Swordguard Embroidery for a boost to AP.


Gear Optimization


Stat Weights


Please keep in mind these stat weights use BiS gear, and the default simcraft profile, which includes the legendary meta, and legendary cloak and the amp/CD trinket. This means a changed race, talent, or gear, in particular trinkets and weapon, will change the stat values. I've seen far too many people trying to use these weights for characters that are 50 ilvls under BiS. I highly recommend running the sim with your own character to see stat weights for your character.

580 Stat Weights:

Stat Weight
Strength 7.75
Hit (to cap) 11.05
Expertise (to cap) 11.02
Haste4.43
Crit4.98
Mastery4.68


Stat Priority


Gearing, like your play choices, is also based upon a priority system. Included below is the order of most beneficial to least beneficial stats to help you make informed decisions about gear.

Standard Stat Priority*
Strength > Hit/Expertise to Cap > Crit >= Mastery >= Haste

Hit
Hit to cap is extremely important. Not only does it determine your melee hit, but it's now relied on for your spell hit too. If you miss a lot, that’s 0 damage on a frequent basis. Meters can't discriminate whether your damage suffered because of low hit rating or because you were too busy watching FiM reruns to pay attention to the boss (the latter is slightly more acceptable). Also keep in mind that your Ghoul inherits your stats (with hit rating no longer rounding down).

At level 90, it takes 2550 hit rating to become hit capped for a raid boss (2210 for Draenei). There is a certain leniency for being slightly over or slightly under, but you want to negotiate this very carefully. When in doubt, test yourself on a target dummy for extended lengths of time or run your character’s paper doll through simulations for a very general idea of how it will affect your real performance.

Expertise
As stated at the beginning of the guide, expertise will negate dodge AND spell miss, then parry. Therefore whatever value you have for expertise will combine with hit to determine your spell hit. Expertise, as such, has become incredibly valuable for us. At level 90, it takes 2550 expertise rating to become expertise capped for a raid boss (2210 for races with 1% added expertise).

Haste
Your GCD is affected by various factors such as expertise, Heroism/Bloodlust effects, your connection speed and so forth. The best way to approach haste itemization is whether or not you personally experience GCD locks. If you have no trouble expending resources, haste remains highly favored, simple as that.

Crit
Crit makes abilities hit twice as hard. More crit makes it happen more often.

Mastery
Mastery boosts our shadow damage via Dreadblade and has a bit less parity than before.

*A word on stats
Unholy secondary stat weights are all very close right, so close in-fact that there are obtainable gearsets for every possible stat priority. This means there is no one "right" way to gear, as it will vary from person to person. You can use the above order as a rule of thumb, but it is highly suggested that you sim your own stat weights and try to get them as close as possible together, in order to maximize dps. In general, getting X stat makes Y and Z better, but doesn't change X. So if X is the best stat for you, get enough of X to bring Y or Z up, and then hold that balance.


Reforging


In regards to reforging your gear, start with the hit and expertise cap and manage your DPS stat priority as above. I’d recommend taking a look at Wow Reforge to help you make your reforging decisions outside of the game. When using Wow Reforge's site for Unholy, you will need to specify your hit & expertise caps for 'close to' 2550 or 2210 (if you have a +1% racial). By choosing 'close to', the calculator attempts to reforge your gear to the specified hit cap number but it also considers reforges in a tight threshold around the cap. It weighs the various configurations by the stats they provide and ranks them from highest to lowest in EP value. It may be that your optimum reforge puts you exactly at cap or it could put you a point over or under because the DPS is rated better. It will simply depend on your race and assortment of gear.

Reforge calculators require a lot of complicated math so always double check your results for accuracy. Report any anomalies to the site owner to improve the reliability of the tool.

Tips for Reforging:
  • Your first calculation for reforging should be for your hit and expertise ratings. Sometimes you will want to reforge away a cap stat on one item only to add it back on another. Ex: forging hit to haste on Item A and forging crit to hit on Item B where haste already exists.
  • Reforge weaker stats into strong stats.
  • Don't forget that you have options to change your cap stat values through gemming and enchanting too.

Gems


Currently the best gems for each socket color:
Color Gem
Red [Inscribed Vermilion Onyx]
Red [Fierce Vermilion Onyx]
Red [Skillful Vermilion Onyx]
Yellow [Smooth Sun's Radiance]
Yellow [Quick Sun's Radiance]
Yellow [Fractured Sun's Radiance]
Blue [Piercing Wild Jade]
Blue [Lightning Wild Jade]
Blue [Sensei's Wild Jade]

You will defer to the yellow gem unless the socket bonus would provide more dps. By applying your stat weights to the stats offered between gem choices and socket bonuses, it lets you determine if an upgrade exists.


Meta


[Reverberating Primal Diamond] (+216 strength/3% crit effect)

or if you've completed the quest for Wrathion

[Capacitive Primal Diamond] (+324 Crit Rating and chance on melee or ranged hit to gain Capacitance. At 5 stacks, fires a Lightning Strike.)

Chimera


[Bold Serpent's Eye] (+320 strength)

Note that JCs can have 2 Chimeras active at a time, not 3.

Enchants


Slot Enchant Alternate
Shoulder [Greater Tiger Fang Inscription] [Secret Tiger Fang Inscription] (Inscription-only)
Back [Enchant Cloak - Accuracy] [Enchant Cloak - Superior Critical Strike]
Chest [Glorious Stats] -
Wrist [Enchant Bracers - Exceptional Strength] Fur Lining - Strength (Leatherworking-only)
Hands Enchant Gloves - Super Strength [Synapse Springs] (Mark II) (Engineering-only, stacks)
Waist [Living Steel Belt Buckle] -
Rings [Enchant Ring - Greater Strength] (Enchanting-only)
Legs Angerhide Leg Armor -
Feet Enchant Boots - Greater Precision Enchant Boots - Greater Haste
Weapon [Rune of the Fallen Crusader] -



5.4 loot



The Fantastic Kerriodos has compiled a list of all the plate loot for 5.4, which can be found at
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/...GMnZoY0E#gid=0
Check the tabs at the bottom to organize by boss or slot, or swap to heroic mode.
You rock dude.



Level 90 Best in Slot


BiS - No Restrictions

[2H]
Slot Item Gemming Reforging Enchant
Head [Helmet of Cyclopean Dread] 1x [Capacitive Primal Diamond], 1x [Inscribed Vermilion Onyx] Haste to Crit None
Neck [Malkorok's Tainted Dog Tags] None None None
Shoulders [Tusks of Mannoroth] 3 x [Inscribed Vermilion Onyx] None [Greater Tiger Fang Inscription]
Back [Gong-Lu, Strength of Xuen] 1 x [Inscribed Vermilion Onyx] Haste to Expertise Enchant Cloak - Superior Critical Strike
Chest [Breastplate of Shamanic Mirrors] 2 x [Inscribed Vermilion Onyx], 1 x [Smooth Sun's Radiance] None Glorious Stats
Wrists [Bracers of Blind Hatred] None None Enchant Bracers – Exceptional Strength
Hands [Gauntlets of Cyclopean Dread] 2 x [Inscribed Vermilion Onyx] Mastery to Crit Enchant Gloves – Super Strength
Waist [Ashen Wall Girdle] 1 x [Inscribed Vermilion Onyx], 1 x [Smooth Sun's Radiance], 1 x [Piercing Wild Jade] Hit to Expertise [Living Steel Belt Buckle]
Legs [Legplates of Willful Doom] 2 x [Piercing Wild Jade], 1 x [Inscribed Vermilion Onyx] None [Angerhide Leg Armor]
Feet [Greaves of Sublime Superiority] 1 x [Inscribed Vermilion Onyx] Hit to Expertise Enchant Boots - Greater Haste
Ring [Devilfang Band] 1 x [Inscribed Vermilion Onyx] Mastery to Crit None
Ring [Seal of the Forgotten Kings] 1 x [Inscribed Vermilion Onyx] None None
Trinket [Evil Eye of Galakras] None None None
Trinket [Thok's Tail Tip] None None None
Main Hand [Xal'atoh, Desecrated Image of Gorehowl] 1 x [Inscribed Vermilion Onyx] None Rune of the Fallen Crusader


T16 Set Bonuses


Tier 5 Bonus
2 Piece Killing Machine and Sudden Doom grant 500 Haste or Mastery, whichever is highest, for X sec, stacking up to 10 times.
4 Piece Death Coil increases the duration of Dark Transformation by 2 sec per cast. Special attacks while Pillar of Frost is active will impale your target with an icy spike.

T15 Set Bonuses


Tier 5 Bonus
2 Piece Your attacks have a chance to raise the spirit of a fallen Zandalari as your Death Knight minion for 15 sec.
4 Piece Your Soul Reaper ability now deals additional Shadow Damage to targets below 45% instead of below 35%. Additionally, Killing Machine now also increases the critical strike chance of Soul Reaper.

T14 Set Bonuses


At the end of 5.1, the 2 piece set bonus has been reduced to 4% (was 10%).

Tier 14 Bonus
2 Piece Your Obliterate, Frost Strike, and Scourge Strike deal 4% increased damage.
4 Piece Your Pillar of Frost ability grants 5% additional Strength, and your Unholy Frenzy ability grants 10% additional haste.

Trinkets




Note: Timeless Isle Xuen trinket lies between Flex cleave trinket and HTF rage



Mods


Some people are content with the out-of-the-box game experience, but others feel like they can play and monitor their character better with additional tools.

DK-Specific


DKDiseases (link)
DK Diseases will track your diseases on your target. It provides both a numeric and color-coded indicator of the disease strength. The indicators help you to know when you should re-apply your diseases to increase your damage.

Doc's Debug Runes (link)



A combined rune, runic power, disease, proc, Dark Transformation, Runic Empowerment, Runic Corruption, Blood Shield and Death Strike heal display. Visually simple but very effective, DDR uses short bars to display runes, diseases, power and specific procs.
I am hoping that the remaining LUA errors will be fixed soon. The original author has apparently stopped playing, but I hope someone will adopt the project again.

Magic Runes (link)



If you want a more aesthetic minded rune watch, Magic Runes also provides a really nice view of your runes with several chart type variations. It's very straightforward and graphically clean. It does not show your procs or special cooldowns (for better or worse), so you will need to set up other mods if you prefer having those features.

RuneHUD (link)
RuneHUD is a simple addon that moves the runes of your DK to make them a HUD (Heads Up Display). The runes are click through which means they don't intercept mouse clicks. RuneHUD has OmniCC support, will be hidden when in a vehicle and the individual runes will fade when on cooldown.

CLCDK (link)



CLCDK is a class HUD featuring disease durations, GCD timer, ability timers, runic power, runes, and an optional suggestion box.
What this mod should do is show you Runic Power, special cooldowns (Gargoyle/Army), Runes, and disease timers in 1 add on.
What this mod should NOT do is replace your brain. Blindly mimicking its suggestions will produce ignorant, lazy play. After all, we’re trying to break the negative stereotype of our class, not reinforce it.
Used properly, the suggestion box can serve as a friendly reminder for when diseases reach low time or a cooldown is ready. That’s a fine and reasonable use of a tool, just don’t confuse what it says you CAN do with what you actually SHOULD. You can also completely turn off the suggestion box if you don't like it or if you'd prefer more space.

DKOne (link)
Similar in nature to CLCDK, DKOne shows a Rune Display with additional information on runic power and dot timers. One important difference is that CLC does not show Soul Reaper, but DKOne does. It also shows the next two recommended actions and the next two cooldowns that will be up. It dynamically switches between melee, AOE and ranged priorities and whenever you change specs. It tracks the current number of AOE targets and estimates how long until the current target will die. There are up to 8 additional small buttons that you can set to track things like Blood Tap charges and Sudden Doom procs.
(Thanks Kirkvader of Turalyon for this recommendation!)

Non-Specific


NeedtoKnow (link)



NeedToKnow lets you monitor specific buffs, debuffs, and totems as timer bars that always appear in a consistent place on your screen. You can track yourself, others, your target, your pet, and much more. This mod is fantastic to let you watch your Shadow Infusion stacks, Dark Transformation timers, Anti-Magic Shell, and Runic Corruption uptime. You can set colors, scaling, and different groups of bars. Very customizable and user friendly.

Quartz (link)

The core of Quartz is a lightweight implementation of the standard casting bar with configurable size, text and icon positioning, and colors. Similar to Need to Know, Quartz will allow you to display custom timers on the mirror bars as well. Proc displays can likewise be added with the Quartz Procs Module. (Thanks to Kopex of Argent Dawn-EU for this recommendation!)

OmniCC (link)
OmniCC is an addon that adds text to items, spell and abilities that are on cooldown to indicate when they will be ready to use. In other words: it turns all the standard analogue cooldowns into digital ones.

Deadly Boss Mods (link)



Deadly Boss Mods is a boss alert mod. It consists of many individual "boss modules", mini addons that are designed to trigger alert messages and timer bars for one specific raid boss each. Instance modules will be loaded and enabled when you enter the corresponding instance. If you don’t already have this, get it yesterday. I have glowing recommendations for all its included features.

Recount (link)



Recount is a graphical combat log meter complete with damage, healing, and more. This is the ‘How’s My Driving?’ equivalent of your DPS performance. Everyone has a job and ours is to put up big numbers. Hold yourself accountable by knowing your output and surpassing the expectations of others, but remember, a dead dps does no dps. I consider Recount, or Skada (as below), a 'must have' for a good DPS setup.

Skada Damage Meter (link)

Skada is a modular damage meter with various viewing modes. It is inspired mainly by Assessment, but also by Recount. Skada sports segmented fights and detailed views, while being highly efficient with memory. This is accomplished by aggregating data on fight segments. If you're looking for a supremely lightweight meter, definitely check this one out! (Thanks to Kopex of Argent Dawn-EU for this recommendation!)

ReforgeSaver (link)

ReforgeSaver allows you to save and restore reforging profiles for your equipped items. Equip the items you want and reforge them as desired. When you're done, click the "Save" button on top of the Reforging frame and choose a name for your profile. You can restore your profile at any time by selecting it from the dropdown menu and clicking "Reforge". It will display how much gold the total reforge will cost and begin reforging once you confirm. This is extremely helpful if you frequently switch between specs and/or different sets of gear.

Power Auras (link)

This addon was created to provide visual cues (auras) when you gain buffs, debuffs and many more. Very useful for shorts buffs or debuffs, it allows you to draw in the center of the screen, or around your character, very customizable visual effects, rather than having to look at or mouseover buff/debuff icons/actionbars.

Weak Auras (link)

WeakAuras is a flexible framework that allows you to display customizable graphics on your screen to indicate buffs, debuffs, and a whole host of similar types of information. It was originally meant to be a lightweight replacement for Power Auras, but it now incorporates many features that Power Auras does not.

Macros


Macros expand your ability to customize and automate certain actions via sequences of slash commands. If you are unfamiliar with how to make macros, I recommend reading WoWWiki’s ‘Making a Macro’ guide. Don’t let the involvement of code deter you from macros. They’re generally very simple to write or, even better, just copy and paste ones that have already been created (as below).

Revised Attacks Macro
If you lack the runes to use an ability, this mod will clear the red error text on the top of your screen and your auto-attack will still begin. I use this macro for each of my major melee abilties where ‘Name’ is the spell/ability.
#showtooltip 
/startattack
/cast Name
/script UIErrorsFrame:Clear();
Death Coil Pet Heal Toggle
By using modifier keys, you can toggle between a self-heal, pet heal, or damage a target as normal.
#showtooltip 
/cast [mod:ctrl, @pet][] Death Coil
Targeting Toggles
#showtooltip 
/cast !Anti-Magic Zone
#showtooltip 
/cast !Death and Decay
Special Fight Abilities
Sometimes addons will interfere with abilities you receive during encounters (think: Heroic Will on Ultraxion) so it's nice to have a hard-set button that can achieve the same effect.
/click ExtraActionButton1
Max Camera Distance
This isn't so much of a macro as it is a one-time slash command. The following script will increase the allowable threshold of your camera's distance. This is wonderful for fights like Al'Akir where there are large scale effects and far away enemies. Just type the script into your chat window and scroll your wheel to experience the amazing new birds-eye view. (source: Arena Junkies)
/script SetCVar("cameraDistanceMax",30)


Raid Strategies


Mists of Pandaria raid information is welcomed via PM.
Raiding mechanics section can be found here.




Other Resources


To further your individual research about the class, play, and so forth, I also have a list of online resources to recommend:




Appendix




Corrections and Updates


If you find any inaccurate, incomplete or omitted material, I would very much appreciate a PM so that I can make the necessary corrections. It's entirely possible for me to mistype or forget to include something. It would never be my intention to knowingly confuse or misinform people. I appreciate suggestions and hope this can be a springboard for better play, comprehension, and discussion.


To-Do list



Optimize Unholy more in Simc, specifically PL usage.
Fine tune BiS list.
Double trinket rankings.
I take requests, PM me.


Special Thanks


The information in this guide is gathered from a multitude of sources: personal experience (both the good & laughable), my wonderful and insightful DK friends in #Acherus, private messages, posts on the WoW forums, past threads and discussion there at EJ, Twitter connections, and other community sites. I have cited these helpful sources where specifics are lended.
  • Euliat for his work on simulating DK stats and priority.
  • Titus Pullo for handling the frost guides since 4.3, and providing the framework for the current frost guide.
  • Magdalena for his work on #Acherus and being a great dude.
  • Teskuz for his amazing artistic contribution.
  • Kerriodos for his AMAZING T16 Str plate list.
  • Heartless for her unholy guide framework, and the abbreviation list. RIP
  • Theck and Reia for doing amazing things with simc.
  • Jessamy for being a great DK forum mod here at EJ
  • #Acherus
  • Everyone who contributes to this thread for their continued effort at understanding and maximizing the DK class.

Change Log



09/08/2013- Thread created.

Read story →    25 comments    -----

Advanced Death Knight Tactics

Oct 20 2012 12:58 AM | Mendenbarr in Death Knight

Last updated 9/8/13







 

Contents

Frost




Cooldowns and Timmy


Cooldown stacking is a common practice in wow. This means using as many cooldowns at the same time, for the multiplicative gain. For example, if you have 1 cooldown that increases your damage by 10%, and another that increases your damage by 20%, the total increase, if used together, would be 32% (1.1*1.2), instead of the 30% if used separately. For this reason, most people have one button to pop all of their cooldowns, lining them all up, to make them do that much more together, and this is generally a good idea.

However, one cooldown available to death knights has a slightly different set of rules. Our risen ghoul benefits from all of our cooldowns, if we have 20% more strength from pillar, so does he, but he also costs a GCD. The last thing you want to do is "waste" an entire second of the those cooldowns waiting for the GCD used to summon Timmy to end. On top of this, it takes him a few seconds to crawl out of the ground, time in which he should of been benefitting from your cooldowns. For these reasons, it's optimal to use raise ghoul a second or two before popping your cooldown macro.





2-hand Frost



Priority 1: Not wasting resources


This means you are always able to generate new resources, and never "capped" on any resources. Frost dks have 5 "resources" to worry about.
All of this section's rules ONLY apply when you're not wasting resources, and at times you'll have to make decisions on which resources to waste, as you won't be able to not waste them all. At these times, waste whatever is worth the least.


Runes


Runes regen over time, without you needing to do anything. The rate changes based off your haste, but what's important is that the regen stops when you are rune capped. The solution to this is to avoid, whenever possible, getting rune capped. Think of dks as having 3 runes, not 6. We have 1 frost, 1 unholy, and 1 death. When a rune is charged 50%, you can spend that 50% on an ability, but the rune continues to recharge. However, when a rune is 100% charged, you have both frost runes up, it stops recharging. To avoid this is simple, always spend runes before they reach 100%.
To spend unholy runes, you generally use Plague strike if the target is missing blood plague, or obliterate if it isn't.
To spend frost runes, you use soul reaper if it's off CD, and the target is sub 35%, and you otherwise use obliterate.
To spend death runes is the same as spending frost runes.


Runic Power


Runic power is generated while using abilities, namely abilities that use up runes, as well as horn of winter. Runic power is capped at 100, and the ability that generates the most is obliterate, giving you 24 runic power. To avoid capping runic, always use it before it reaches 100%. That means don't use obliterate at higher than 76 runic, and don't use any other rune abilities at higher than 88 runic.
To spend runic, use frost strike.


Rime procs


Rime procs are generated using obliterate, and give you a free howling blast. You can hold onto a rime proc as long as you want, assuming you don't wait the entire duration, or use obliterate during it, which has a chance of overwriting the proc. In practice, you rarely, if ever, go the full duration without having a free GCD to use it, so just don't obliterate with rime up.
To spend rime, use howling blast.


Tier 5 talent procs


Your tier 5 talent will proc on using frost strike, and depending on which you choose, you can change your play-style.
RE: Don't use frost strike when you don't have a rune below 50%
RC: Don't use frost strike when you have any rune at 100%
BT: Don't use frost strike when you have 11 or more charges.


Killing Machine procs


Killing Machine procs on melee hits, and is used up by turning your next obliterate or frost strike into a crit. Killing machine is also the interesting proc, because you want to use it up as soon as possible to avoid overriding a proc, but you can't stop meleeing, and you also want to wait to use it on an obliterate instead of a frost strike. In general, it's more important to use up the proc to avoid missing out on the next one, but given the choice between using it on an obliterate or a frost strike, choose obliterate every time.


Mastering rime procs


Rime procs are free damage, and should never be ignored. However, they can be put off. Rime, along with to a lesser degree horn of winter, are the main abilities we use on a regular basis, which do not use up KM procs. This means that we can spam them, HoW and then rime for example, without worrying about wasting a KM proc. However, if we use frost strike after rime or HoW, any procs generated during that GCD will most likely get used up on the frost strike. In addition, while obliterate procs more rime, frost strike doesn't. For this reason, it's normally optimal to wait on a rime proc until you've used up as many of your frost strikes as possible, and then to obliterate soon after. If killing machine procs during the frost strike spamming, with rime up, you want to hit the rime proc, and then obliterate.


Mastering diseases with plague leech


Diseases are invaluable for death knights, especially frost, but not for their damage. Diseases do make obliterate much stronger though, and you should never use obliterate without both diseases up. However, missing blood plague when you frost strike is ok, most of the time. We have two ways of applying diseases (not counting unholy blight, which you can't take at the same time as plague leech), and two ways of losing them. We can apply them with outbreak, on a 1 minute cooldown, or with plague strike and howling blast, each costing a rune. We lose them if they are not reapplied for 30 seconds, or if we use plague leech to turn them into a free rune. However, plague leech is not always optimal.
Once every minute, when outbreak is no longer on cooldown, or is a few seconds from coming up, you can follow a plague leech with outbreak for a free disease refresh and 2 runes. However, if outbreak is on cooldown, the best way to reapply diseases is to try to get a rime proc in the 10 seconds before the diseases falls off. If you do, you want to hold off on using the rime proc until blood plague nearly runs out, use plague leech, reapply frost fever with rime, and then use one of the free runes on a plague strike, which you would have to of done anyway.


Mastering Symbiosis


On occasion, you will receive an extra ability, not typically present in a death knight's arsenal. This ability is wild mushroom: plague, and at it's core is a longer version of unholy blight with a longer cooldown. Running a 3 minute cooldown, and a 30 second duration, this placeable mushroom sends diseases to everything within 10 yards, and ticks every 3 seconds. At first glance, you can simply use it to avoid the need to plague strike, starting a fight with outbreak, using WM:P when diseases fall off, and then outbreak is up again for the next round. The ticks of the diseases also make it interesting to combine with plague leech. Leech off the first set of diseases for a free rune, and then pop WM:P. 25 seconds later, leech it again, only to have WM:P reapply without you even needing to hit a button. Because of the 3 second ticks, you may need to hold off on an obliterate for up to 3 seconds, but hey, free rune! When that set of diseases runs low, simply go back to your normal diseases spreading abilities until WM:P comes off cooldown. Fun fact, if you manage to D-sim wild mushroom: detonate, you can detonate your disease mushroom! This seems to destroy them and do about ~30k AoE damage around your mushrooms, and isn't that useful.


Mastering Soul Reaper


Soul reaper is a definitive part of all death knight's rotations, and getting the most out of it has it's own special rules. Only worth using after 35% (45% with t15 4-set), soul reaper packs a medium punch. The most important thing about soul reaper is getting off as many as possible when the target is in his/her execute phase, but soul reaper does not make up a huge amount of frost's damage, and will not make or break your dps. Given the choice between using a KM oblit or an SR, pick KM oblit every time.







To wait or not to wait.



Below is the old sections on waiting to increase dps, for reference. They are currently outdated. There has been a lot of discussion recently on whether or not waiting is worth it, and there will always be more discussion, but for the time being I'm convinced it's no longer worth it.
Euliat has provided a very good analysis here.


Spoiler







Dual-Wield Frost



Priority 1: Not wasting resources


This means you are always able to generate new resources, and never "capped" on any resources. Frost dks have 5 "resources" to worry about.
All of this section's rules ONLY apply when you're not wasting resources, and at times you'll have to make decisions on which resources to waste, as you won't be able to not waste them all. At these times, waste whatever is worth the least.


Runes


Runes regen over time, without you needing to do anything. The rate changes based off your haste, but what's important is that the regen stops when you are rune capped. The solution to this is to avoid, whenever possible, getting rune capped. Think of dks as having 3 runes, not 6. We have 1 frost, 1 unholy, and 1 death. When a rune is charged 50%, you can spend that 50% on an ability, but the rune continues to recharge. However, when a rune is 100% charged, you have both frost runes up, it stops recharging. To avoid this is simple, always spend runes before they reach 100%.
To spend unholy runes, you generally use Plague strike if the target is missing blood plague, or obliterate if it isn't.
To spend frost runes, you use soul reaper if it's off CD, and the target is sub 35%, and you otherwise use howling blast.
To spend death runes is the same as spending frost runes.


Runic Power


Runic power is generated while using abilities, namely abilities that use up runes, as well as horn of winter. Runic power is capped at 100, and the ability that generates the most is obliterate, giving you 24 runic power. To avoid capping runic, always use it before it reaches 100%. That means don't use obliterate at higher than 76 runic, and don't use any other rune abilities at higher than 88 runic.
To spend runic, use frost strike.


Rime procs


Rime procs are generated using obliterate, and give you a free howling blast. You can hold onto a rime proc as long as you want, assuming you don't wait the entire duration, or use obliterate during it, which has a chance of overwriting the proc. In practice, you rarely, if ever, go the full duration without having a free GCD to use it, so just don't obliterate with rime up.
To spend rime, use howling blast.


Tier 5 talent procs


Your tier 5 talent will proc on using frost strike, and depending on which you choose, you can change your play-style.
RE: Don't use frost strike when you don't have a rune below 50%
RC: Don't use frost strike when you have any rune at 100%
BT: Don't use frost strike when you have 11 or more charges.


Killing Machine procs


Killing Machine procs on melee hits, and is used up by turning your next obliterate or frost strike into a crit. Killing machine is also the interesting proc, because you want to use it up as soon as possible to avoid overriding a proc, but you can't stop meleeing, and you also want to wait to use it on an frost stike instead of an obliterate. In general, it's more important to use up the proc as soon as possible to avoid missing out on the next one, but given the choice between using it on an obliterate or a frost strike, choose frost strike every time.




Mastering unholy runes


In the case of dual wield, even before stacking mastery, 2 howling blasts hit harder than an obliterate, and as such howling blast takes a far more prominent spot in our priority. Unfortunately, while both frost and death runes can be used for said howling blast, unholy runes cannot, often leaving us with 2 ugly green runes to get rid of before we can go back to spamming HB and FS. (single target)
There are three ways to get rid of unholy runes, let's see which is the best.
Death and decay: 88.6k dmg
Plague strike:48.6k dmg + FP*2, 54k + disease, 22k per 3 seconds
Obliterate: 175k dmg + FP*2, 54k +45% chance for free HB, 117.6 = 292.6k dmg
HB: 261.4k *FP, 27k dmg

Obviously your best bet is double HBs whenever possible, but let's say you have 1 unholy and 1 frost/death, what should you do?
In order from best to worst:
  • Using plague leech, plague strike and 3 howling blasts gives 831.6k dmg
  • Using plague strike and HB gives 530k dmg IF diseases are about to fall off
  • Using DnD and HB gives 350k dmg
  • Using plague strike and HB gives 310k dmg
  • Using obliterate gives 292.6k dmg
  • Ignoring the unholy rune and just spending the frost/death on HB gives 261.4k dmg

While it's true you can use plague strike and howling blast at half disease duration and count the 50% refresh as 110k dmg, it prolongs the ability to fully refresh diseases via the top option for 15 seconds, and is therefore not a damage gain. If blood plague is not just about to fall off, count it as if it isn't refreshing at all. This includes times when you use PL to take BP off early.

So, if diseases are about to fall off, plauge leech is off cd, or dnd is off cd, use the above options to remove unholy runes, otherwise just use obliterate if you have to.

Note: Due to DW's current state of being close to GCD locked most of the time, we need to reexamine the way to deal with unholy runes. While the above-mentioned list is accurate in terms of numbers, obliterate is more complicated than it seems. Obliterate has two possibilities, it either does 175k in one GCD, or 436k dmg in 2 GCDs. While we can average this out easily, as done above, the GCD cost has to be considered. Using DnD/HB or PS/HB does slightly more than obliterate on average, but costs 2 GCDs. Using obliterate over DnD is a gain if you are GCD capped. Depending on luck, you'll either gain free damage with the rime proc, or gain a GCD which will avoid overflowing resources which will be a damage gain. If you are not GCD capped, DnD/HB and PS/HB wins out.


Mastering Frozen Power


Our new 4-set changes our rotation around slightly when pillar of frost is up, which should be a little less than half the time if you're lucky enough to get your hands on that CD trinket. It procs for about ~27k damage in BiS gear, once for HB, twice for PS/FS/oblit, and 0 times for DnD. As such, even when we're not GCD capped, we end up no longer using DnD when frozen power is up, instead deferring to PS/HB when not GCD capped and obliterate when we are GCD capped. Pillar is an even better CD to pair up with AMS with the 4-set, and you'll want to get out as many FSs as possible, and end the pillar with a fair number of runes and only 20 runic (banked for a km proc).



Mastering blood tap


Blood tap micro-management is very interesting, and useful. Whenever you use frost strike, you add 2 blood charges to a bank, and whenever you use blood tap, you trade 5 charges for a death rune. The first step to correct micro-management is to avoid allowing the blood charges to be wasted via over-capping, or letting the charges fall off. This simply means don't use FS when you have 11 or 12 charges, and don't go 30 full seconds without using FS or blood tap. After doing that, it's ideal to find the opportune moment to use those built up blood taps. I've found two cases where it's worth not using them as soon as you have a free GCD.
Pairing blood taps with unholy runes, when DnD/PL are on CD, and diseases are not about to fall off, allows for very easy management of said unholy runes, and helps to avoid the case of overzealously spamming HB and not having the second rune to pair with the unholy rune.
Saving blood taps for times with your trinket procs are up, or lust, or potions, or burn phases, or multiple targets to hit with HB, or when CDs ure up, leads to a damage increase. If you are GCD capped when you have procs up, you're doing it right.





Waiting DW style


The arguments and strategy behind waiting for DW are nice and simple. They are also easy to prove, and are currently in the default simcraft profile. Bank between 20-39 runic when you don't have a KM proc. That's it. Spend all your runes as soon as possible, don't hold on to blood charges (generally, see above), don't bank more than 39 runic, but save enough for one FS in case KM procs.




DW simple rotation


Due to SR and oblit's weakness in 5.4, it's possible to just leave them out of the rotation and change the rotation into this:
> FS if KM/high runic
> HB
> FS
> PS
A much much simpler rotation, this is a minor (.5-10%) damage loss, varying based off how much mastery you have. The more mastery, the less of a loss it is.






Unholy



Festerblight in 5.4


Alas, Festerblight is dead as of 5.4
It will forever have a place in my cold, unbeating heart.

The reason festerblight was viable in 5.2/5.3 was feather. We went from a combined total of 8k str in T14 gear to about 30k, from feather/shadopan or feather/rage. That's an increase of 275% more strength than the prior tier. At the same time, ilevel went from 517 to 549 (for US, same rules apply for Asia, just 8 ilevels higher), which was 32 more ilevels. 32 ilevels increase stats by a ballpark of about 30%, so you would expect 8k to become about 11k, but we got 30k instead.
Right off the bat, for 5.4, feather has been nerfed 20%. It now provides 16k str instead of 19k str for the 549 version. On top of that, the two new trinkets, at 580 ilevel, have a combined str of about 30k, and it would need to be about 30% higher (because of the ilevel jump) to break even with festerblight's gain now. We would need about 40k str from trinkets alone to get festerblight up to the same, small gain it is now. It had already fallen from it's peak in 5.2 with the tricks nerf for 5.3

This logic is confirmed by sims, if you take the simC profile linked in the festerblight section of the unholy guide, and run it against traditional unholy now, you'll see that it is a single target loss.
And that doesn't even count the fact that near every fight this tier is full of target swaps and cleave and AE, all of which is unfriendly to festerblight. On top of that, the we can't benefit from the PL buff with festerblight.

That's not to say festerblight is NEVER viable. It's possible that if damage only matters in a certain phase, (think lei shen p3), that it's worth sacrificing some of your single target damage in order to get that higher burst at the end. It's also within reason that there is a fight with a large damage buff at the start that doesn't come back up. I'm not aware of any such circumstances yet, but if any show up, I will update the guide.

Keeping up high diseases, and then refreshing them when new trinkets proc, is still viable, and optimal, and it's called disease gaming. Festerblight is all about keeping one set of diseases rolling the entire fight, and that is not viable.

Legacy:
Spoiler