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Blood Tanking - Actively Mitigating since before it was cool

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.



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.


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%
Parry885 (or 951 Str)

(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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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 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 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 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 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 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.

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

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).


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.


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.
/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.
/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).
/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.
/cast !Death and Decay
Anti-Magic Zone targeting
The same thing also works for AMZ.
/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.
/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).
/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.
/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):
/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.)
/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]
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)
/console CameraDistanceMaxFactor 5


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

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 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 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 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 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.


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.

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.


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):

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.


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.


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


Tier 15


Tier 16

Coming soon!

Whats new in 5.0?


- 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.


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).


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.


Not convinced on the RC for max DPS. Are you factoring in gaming RE for B runes? Now getting it on a B rune on every proc would be very difficult, as you'd have to time rune dumps when you have an FU pair without letting both FUs go off cycle as well as not capping RP. This would be made easier with the reduced GCD, but still not nearly as easy as RC. You don't need to hit every RE proc on blood rune to make it worth it, however. In fact you only need to get ~18.867% of your RE procs on blood runes to make it equal in damage. Anything above that is just more dmg.

Heres the math proof, since i know many will want to see it:

1 Heart Strike is worth ((11828+(70,000/14)*3.3)*1.7+1482)*1.3*(1-.3209)*1.04 = 45,559.735
1 Death Strike is worth ((11828+(70,000/14)*3.3)*2.35+1464)*(1-.3209)*1.04 = 48,050.53wd
RC is worth 13.5% of a heart strike and 13.5% of a death strike (or 27% of half of a death strike) per rune strike

RC's value per rune strike:
RC = .135*45,559.735 + .135*(48,050.53) = 12,637.4 dmg.

Now we need to calculate the value of B runes per rune strike required to make RE do equal damage:
(B runes)*(45,559.753) + (.45 - (b runes))*(48,050.53/2) = 12,673.4
B runes = .0849
So in order to make them equal, one Rune Strike needs to equal 8.49% of a blood rune.
Since Rune Strike gives 45% of a rune back, and needs to give at least 8.49% of a blood rune, we find that you need .0849/.45 ≈ .18867 ≈ 18.867% of your RE procs need to be on B runes. This is a very manageable number, especially since if you just left it up to RNG you would get ~33% over the course of the whole fight.
You are right about Runic Corruption being slighly worse for a full DPS rotation and I am sure I had that in the post at some point but I must have lost it during copying over.

The reason I still list Runic Corruption as being better is that it helps you do the most DPS while doing your normal tanking rotation (since RC will boost your Blood Rune regen on top of the survival benefits of the FU/D Runes) and not a full out Blood DPS rotation where you use all Death Runes for Heart Strike/Soul Reaper etc. This is simply not feasible while tanking.

I'll edit that caveat in, thanks.
But consider the flexibility that RE would provide. Gaming for B runes and using D runes on HS would provide more DPS than RC, but with a simply play style change you can go back to gaming for F and U runes and have more DS throughput than RC. And remember only 19% of your RE procs need to go to B runes to make RE do more dps than RC, so you don't have to sacrifice every single RE proc to make a difference. Good guide overall though. Not trying to just criticize :)

Still going over some of the talent assessments, but otherwise I agree with everything (maybe not the SSG>SS for EH though. Not enough EH to make it worth it, even if you need EH. I'd rather take the dmg reduction of SS and put an extra stam gem or two to get that EH.)

Also, really glad to see another guide that isn't all about overall dmg taken and actually focuses on reducing spike dmg which is the most threatening and thus the most important.

Hit and Expertise help us land our Death Strikes more reliably. Why is this important? Because it allows us to react to damage at will. If you know a boss is going to land a big hit on you, you can wait until you take the damage and then Death Strike to heal back a portion of that. If you have to second guess if your Death Strike will land even if you wait then that kind of defeats the purpose. In particularily bad cases, you might even get killed because your Death Strike missed more than once in a row on the harder hitting bosses.

I'm not sure if I'm misreading this, but is the indication that missed/dodged Death Strikes no longer heal (and thus do not provide a shield)? When I was testing on a dummy last night I found that missed/dodged DSes continue to provide a blood shield (granted it's not boosted by scent of blood). I'm only 88 on the beta currently so I'm not sure if this is something for MoP proper or only at 90 or if I'm just reading too much into the statement.
Death Strike is currently bugged and continues to give the shield on dodges and misses. Here is a lot i threw together proving it. You can see my shield is refreshed at the exact same time stamp as DS is dodged.

World of Logs - Real Time Raid Analysis
Yeah, I just did DS tonight which confirmed my dummy testing. Blood shields are still being generated. Is the change to DS+BS supposed to have gone live for the pre-patch or is that supposed to be arriving in MoP proper? I went back to the Beta and tested it and it's the same as on live.

Looking at through the beta build change summaries on MMO-Champ I couldn't find anything indicating that DS was being reverted to the 4.2 state. Granted I haven't been keeping super up to date on the build-to-build changes, but it seems like requiring reforging to Hit/Exp in order to survive is exceptionally punishing towards tanks. Not getting SoB buffed DS is already punishment enough in itself, I find it difficult to believe that they'd actually revert back to 4.2 DS.

I did notice that I was taking a lot more damage (threat generation at the start was very rough) mostly due to being unable to pool/sit on runes; once I got threat, it was a lot easier to plan out incoming damage.

Yeah, I just did DS tonight which confirmed my dummy testing. Blood shields are still being generated. Is the change to DS+BS supposed to have gone live for the pre-patch or is that supposed to be arriving in MoP proper? I went back to the Beta and tested it and it's the same as on live.

Looking at through the beta build change summaries on MMO-Champ I couldn't find anything indicating that DS was being reverted to the 4.2 state. Granted I haven't been keeping super up to date on the build-to-build changes, but it seems like requiring reforging to Hit/Exp in order to survive is exceptionally punishing towards tanks. Not getting SoB buffed DS is already punishment enough in itself, I find it difficult to believe that they'd actually revert back to 4.2 DS.

The new Death Strike should have been added to the pre-MoP patch but it seems like they copied the bug over from beta to live. As to how you can tell, the tooltips of the 4.3 Death Strike and the current one are different: The 4.3 tooltip specifically split the healing/absorb bit from the damage and mentioned that the damage would only occur if the strike successfully landed (I couldn't find the old 4.3 tooltip to link to unfortunately). The current version on the other hand links the damage and the healing/absorb together so the Death Strike has to land for the Blood Shield and healing to occur.

As to being exceptionally punishing, I'd disagree with that. Death Strike not healing and shielding us was indeed punishing in T11 and T12 heroics but that was because no other tank had to gear for accuracy and because it was just not feasible to ever hard cap expertise either. Now that every tank cares about accuracy stats (meaning bosses and tank balance will be designed with this in mind) and Death Strike cannot be parried anymore, the new Death Strike is much fairer. Additionally, you want to be spell hit capped anyway for Outbreak not to miss (if you go for the accuracy gearing method, that is) which just happens to be the point where Death Strike will always land, too. And that's just in addition to the greater DPS we will be doing which is and will always be important - more so with the new Vengeance people got to test and play with now.

While we cannot get Death Strike to always land in the 463 heroic dungeon blues yet without sacrificing mastery, it becomes much easier once we start getting a few epics and raid bosses generally won't hit hard enough in normal difficulty for a missed Death Strike or two to be a problem. It only does become a problem once we start getting hit hard - which is conveniently when we start doing hardmodes and should already have good enough gear to get spell hit capped without sacrificing Mastery, so it all works out.

Where I could see a potential problem is in Challenge modes because the bosses in there are +3 level and we are getting downscaled to 463 gear so we won't be able to get Death Strike to always land. That said, I wouldn't expect Challenge mode bosses to hit as hard as normal difficulty raid bosses (even once you count the fact that you only have one healer there who has to split attention with you and the DPS whereas in raids you will have more healers) so it will probably be fine there as well. Correct me if I am wrong though, since I didn't actually run Challenge modes on Beta.

On a different note, let me know if anyone has something more to add for the encounter specific tips and tricks section, either here or via PM.



We were concerned that Blood DKs were too susceptible to spike damage. Blood DKs rely on being able to take damage and then heal it back, despite taking the largest hits of any tank. This works fine most of the time, but strings of unavoided hits or really large hits in a row might have presented a problem. We chose not to reduce damage taken, but to increase their maximum health instead. The stamina buff from Blood Presence from +8% to +25%.

Beta Class Balance Analysis Pt. II - MMO-Champion BlueTracker

We got a significant health buff, which should give us the highest Stamina scaling of all tanks now.
And what a great change this is for us: It was the perfect way to increase our EH without de-emphasizing the importance of our active mitigation whereas just giving us a flat damage reduction boost would have made Death Striking slightly less important (the less baseline mitigation we have, the more important our active mitigation becomes).
And to be fair, the minimum heal size also got increased with this as well which should help those that cannot/do not want to time their Death Strikes.
I can't search for the bluepost because I'm at work, but there was a confirmation that dps and tanks will not have to "overcap" hit and expertise to still be hitcapped in challenge modes. Those stats probably just won't get scaled down.

Also the buff to DK hp looks really nice, should make healing you guys not so much of a "oh shit he got a big hit" kind of affair :)
Nice buff to EH. I was yesterday in DS and on figths where aren't big aoe healing is needed I done more than holy pala and resto druid. AotD do second me dps on every figths, first was always DS and I choose RC. How much damage do HS 100%-25% and 25%-0%, and how much do SR 100%-25% and 25%-0%. Is there big diffrent?
If you remember this post, theres a pretty good chance that Death Strike always healing/shielding is intentional. If you think about it, we're more dependent on hit/exp than the other tank classes.

Blood needs hit/exp for:
  • Resource generation - Landing runic power / rune abilities
  • Scent of Blood - Increases the strength of death strike, generates more runic power
  • Death Strike - Increases the reliability always procs heal/blood shield

Guardian needs hit/exp for:
  • Resource generation - Landing rage generating abilities

Brewmaster needs hit/exp for:
  • Resource generation - Landing chi generating abilities
  • Blackout Kick - maintaining the shuffle buff always procs shuffle

Prot Pala needs hit/exp for:
  • Resource generation - Landing holy power generating abilities
  • Shield of the Righteous - Increases the reliability always procs sotr

Prot War needs hit/exp for:
  • Resource generation - Landing rage generating abilities

Depending on how the devs are looking at it, they could also categorize Scent of Blood as resource generation. Since it's responsible for the vast majority of our runic power. Looking at it like this, it would be a bit imbalanced if everyone else got guaranteed active mitigation, but Blood didn't.

I can't search for the bluepost because I'm at work, but there was a confirmation that dps and tanks will not have to "overcap" hit and expertise to still be hitcapped in challenge modes. Those stats probably just won't get scaled down.

It's true that the game will not scale down your Hit or Expertise ratings for Challenge modes (for any role, not just tanks). However, the game will still scale down your other stats proportionally to compensate so we don't gain anything from it at best and at worst the game will not differentiate between the other stats and scale down your Mastery as much as your avoidance - just for accuracy you may or may not even have needed.

I expect serious Challenge mode tanks to either reforge beforehand or build a second set just for this with only exact as much Hit and Expertise as they need so the game doesn't remove too much of the other beneficial stats (Mastery, especially).

But, as I said earlier, worrying about accuracy stats for survival might not even be an issue. It is more likely that you will want to be capped for the trash mobs because of the added DPS instead (since Heart Strike is going to be really, really good there).


If you remember this post, theres a pretty good chance that Death Strike always healing/shielding is intentional. If you think about it, we're more dependent on hit/exp than the other tank classes.

That's a pretty good list. I always considered our resource generation to be less prone to unlucky boss avoidance simply because our Runes always regenerated and Rune Strike is easy to cap (and if it misses we only lose a small portion of RP).
However with Scent of Blood you are probably right since that gives us yet another source of resource generation which - in addition to Rune Strike/T5 procs - pretty much rivals the resource generation of other tanks.
If that assessment is true, then Death Strike should not be subject to boss avoidance after all. Though, for me, that is only a slight buff until I am geared up enough to gear for accuracy again because I like the reliability of being spell hit capped, of Rune Strike never missing and simply contributing more to DPS.
But nonetheless something to keep an eye out for once Blizzard releases the new patch that fixes the tooltips for the stealth buffed/nerfed abilities.

Nice buff to EH. I was yesterday in DS and on figths where aren't big aoe healing is needed I done more than holy pala and resto druid.

Are you including Blood Shield into that? Because I hope you aren't. I know WoL counts it as a heal but that would be like counting blocks or the ShotR damage reduction as healing.
(I am just asking because I see people mistake WoL absorbs for proper healing. I actually considered putting that in my FAQ because the inconsistency between how WoL and Recount/Skada track healing is causing quite a few misunderstandings.)
Aug 30 2012 02:27 PM
Here's some thoughts from our heroic DS clear last night.

This no-capped vengeance is ridiculous, It has to get nerfed into the ground for 10m raids. After my first 120k trash pull, I knew I was in for a ridiculous night. After taking my first Hour of Twilight on Ultraxion, I had 85k attack power. I had a similar amount near the end of Spine. Wearing full DPS gear has almost no effect on my avoidance stats or my mastery. I have MORE avoidance in DPS gear because Strength is a stronger avoidance stat than Dodge at 85, and will be 90% as good as dodge at 90 right now. For the last 3 fights, I used my tank 4-set, but otherwise, it's completely unnecessary anymore.

Death Strike damage sucks now, I usually break grips while the DPS are on the tendon in Spine with a single DS, this week it took me at least 3-4 hits instead of one. I can't complain one bit, since the healing from Scent of Blood is amazing.

Holy Paladin's Sacred Shield- holy crap- it synergizes so well with Blood. Get yourself a pally healer friend for mists, and send him muffins every week. The offtank and I miscommunicated and he taunted Blackhorn back too early- he died from melee hits from BH and Goriona at 75% and the pally healer and I finished the fight as the only ones alive a full 2 minutes later (first wipe was a 240k heal crit on a Consuming Shroud target that instantly killed 8 people, second- rogue's Leeching poison almost killed a couple people, and people kept randomly dropping in the easy part). Our fury warrior took one for the team and taunted BH when I had no cooldowns available and got 2-shotted, but it gave me enough buffer to pool runes and pop Army for a Death Pact.
Aug 30 2012 02:38 PM
Blood Boil now refreshes your diseases to 100% duration on all targets- the Devs did this because they wanted DKs to have a reason to use the free proc on BB instead of D&D. BB now does a LOT more damage- hit for 19k, crit for 35k on Ultrax. It's just crazy for AOE, I pulled 60k dps on Spine and 63k on Yor'sahj, and my diseases did 24% of my damage on Ultraxion, which was about 65k.

World of Logs - Real Time Raid Analysis
(Logs are messed up right now- didn't record our feral druid at all, recorded all heroic fights as normal, and 3 fights registered as invalid, though recount/skada matched up correctly).

Are you including Blood Shield into that? Because I hope you aren't. I know WoL counts it as a heal but that would be like counting blocks or the ShotR damage reduction as healing.
(I am just asking because I see people mistake WoL absorbs for proper healing. I actually considered putting that in my FAQ because the inconsistency between how WoL and Recount/Skada track healing is causing quite a few misunderstandings.)

I was including Blood shield, but before 5.0 I can't never get close to healers.
Mists of Pandaria Beta - Build 16030 - "Blood Presence now increases Stamina by 25%, up from 8%." - Will this allow us to skip some of the gemming for EH in the beginning of the xpac, or was our HP just way too low on beta @ lvl 90? Our guild aren't doing any Beta testing so I don't know. That is, either way, quite a significant boost.
Good news everyone, Ghostcrawler has announced that Empower Rune Weapon and Army of the Dead will now reset for every raid encounter. For us that means there is literally no reason not to use Army and ERW atleast once per encounter which is a pretty awesome change.

Source: Beta Class Balance Analysis Pt. II - Forums - World of Warcraft

Mists of Pandaria Beta - Build 16030 - "Blood Presence now increases Stamina by 25%, up from 8%." - Will this allow us to skip some of the gemming for EH in the beginning of the xpac, or was our HP just way too low on beta @ lvl 90? Our guild aren't doing any Beta testing so I don't know. That is, either way, quite a significant boost.

Our health was fine but our damage reduction through Blood Presence and armor wasn't, yet we didn't take more overall damage than the other tanks.
The problem we had was that even though we were expected to (and could have) Death Striked after a big hit, we'd be dead before we got the chance to do so. The health buff helps us survive this hit now and we can use our active mitigation abilities just like the other tanks that could do it preemptively (and it doesn't change the overall damage taken either which a buff to Blood Presence's damage reduction would have done).
For example, stuff like Thrash from the Sha of Fear encounter does quite a lot of damage because you need to take 3 boss hits all at once and it happens roughly every 10 seconds so it is easy to time ShotR/Shield Block etc for it (but too frequent to just CD through it all with longer cooldowns). It's also easy to save a Death Strike for it but you have to survive it first since you will not always be able to get a Blood Shield up beforehand (which is what you would have had to do if you would lack the EH for it; but this particular boss has a 2.5 swing timer so you the maximum amount of hits you could get a Blood Shield from before the Thrash would have been 2 and that is assuming you didn't avoid any hits which in the worst case would give you a minimum sized Death Strike/Blood Shield which isn't going to help much against the following Thrash).
Props on the guide, is very thorough and nicely organized.

When I read the new build's buff on Blood Presence, I thought it was just a typo. Are they actually increasing the percentage by 17%? That's a LOT. I already uninstalled the beta to get ready on live for Pandaria, but last I checked, my tank gear put me on 486k hit points (and I didn't have BiS gear). How much are the hit points up to now with the buff? Also, if the buff stays, I guess that would make Death Knights, by far, the highest effective health tanks in the game (since it also directly buffs the effects of mastery and avoidance).

Ignorant question: Is there any scenario (raid, dungeons, pvp, challenges or even soloing) where using (due to highly increased life) and (due to the removal of vengeance cap) would be useful or acceptable? I'm not a supporter of dual-wielding nostalgia, but I'd like to know if these items could be used effectively in the future (Same as Vial for Druid/Monk Tanks).

Also, if the buff stays, I guess that would make Death Knights, by far, the highest effective health tanks in the game.

Depends on how much mastery guardians have, but I'm pretty sure this puts us ahead in most situations.

No to Souldrinker. Dual wield is a huge damage loss, stat loss, and now runic power loss thanks to Scent of Blood. Drain Lifes for around 10k (1.7% of 600k) won't come close to making up for it.

Hell yes to Bone Link Fetish. I wish I had one, because vengeance + whirling maw procs would be amazing.
While using DRW and casting Blood Boil me own diseases are refreshed but that put by DRW aren't. Is this intend?

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:

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.

just fyi, you can take the info from Theck's site and condense into a pretty easy to use formula.

in his site he shows formula for the optimal parry/dodge ratio (%s):
Total Parry/Total Dodge = (Cp/Cd) - ((Cp/Cd)Base Dodge - Base parry)/Total Dodge

Cp = 235.5
Cd = 65.631440
Base Dodge = 5.01
Base Parry = 3.22 (including parry from base strength. 3.21 for gnomes)

Parry%/dodge% = 235.5/65.631440 - ((235.5/65.31440)*5.01-3.00)/dodge%

Parry%/dodge% = 3.588 - 14.14.757/dodge%

Parry% = 3.588*dodge% - 14.757

factor in SS and you get the desired parry% = 3.588*dodge% - 10.757 (or parry% = 3.588*dodge% - 10.767 if you are a gnome)

Heres a macro version:

/run d=GetDodgeChance() n=3.22 if UnitRace("player")=="Gnome" then n=n-.01 end p=235.5*d/65.631440-((235.5/65.631440)*5.01-n)+4 DEFAULT_CHAT_FRAME:AddMessage("Ideal parry for current dodge: "..string.format("%.2f",p))

Without Swordshattering:

/run d=GetDodgeChance() n=3.22 if UnitRace("player")=="Gnome" then n=n-.01 end p=235.5*d/65.631440-((235.5/65.631440)*5.01-n) DEFAULT_CHAT_FRAME:AddMessage("Ideal parry for current dodge: "..string.format("%.2f",p))

It will still be easier to use a bot, but it still requires less effort than going over the entire blog to figure out what your dodge and parry are supposed to be at.

That's a pretty good list. I always considered our resource generation to be less prone to unlucky boss avoidance simply because our Runes always regenerated and Rune Strike is easy to cap (and if it misses we only lose a small portion of RP).
However with Scent of Blood you are probably right since that gives us yet another source of resource generation which - in addition to Rune Strike/T5 procs - pretty much rivals the resource generation of other tanks.
If that assessment is true, then Death Strike should not be subject to boss avoidance after all. Though, for me, that is only a slight buff until I am geared up enough to gear for accuracy again because I like the reliability of being spell hit capped, of Rune Strike never missing and simply contributing more to DPS.
But nonetheless something to keep an eye out for once Blizzard releases the new patch that fixes the tooltips for the stealth buffed/nerfed abilities.

Going into more detail for the classes I have at 85 and have tried out since 5.0.4 dropped:

Resource sensitive active mitigation by class (I've played all of them at 85 in dungeons, but I'm not sure if I got everything, these are just the abilities I remembered). Resources (HP, Rage, Chi, RP) are generated through abilities now for everyone, including warriors and druids, for those who weren't aware of this change.
Paladins: SotR - 30% damage reduction, limited by Holy Power; class has passive block
Warriors: Shield Block - 30%(base?) physical damage reduction; Shield Barrier - Damage absorption based on AP; both limited by high rage cost (60); class has passive block
Druids: Savage Defense - 45% dodge, 3 charges refreshing sequentially, 9 seconds per charge; Frenzied Regeneration - Convert rage to health; both abilities limited by high rage cost (60)
Monks: ? Haven't played with this class so I can't properly speak to its abilities; seems like it uses Chi and Energy (generated by using abilities) to activate a large number of damage reduction CDs.
Death Knights: Blood Shield - Generated by a successful Death Strike (based on planned changes), based on the amount healed, which in turn is based on incoming damage; limited by rune regeneration, runes not returned on miss/dodge.

Surprisingly, I found paladins to be exceptionally hard to play (in the sense of keeping up SotR for a significant amount of uptime) which might be a result of not being used to the new rotation (CS, X, Y). The rage based classes were very spammy and fun to play in that I could see my DPS having a direct effect on my survival, without really needing to pool rage. I played all these classes with high avoidance/mitigation and only around 3-4% hit/exp.

My Death Knight runs very, very low hit/exp (2/2.4) and looking back on my parses for Heroic DS on Wednesday I saw that a not insignificant number of my Deathstrikes were misses/dodges. I never really noticed a big chunk of incoming damage (35% nerf and BS still bugged :|) and spent most of my time just trying to maximize my DPS. I did see a few misses on Mutated Tentacles leading up into impales (which would have been disastrous if Blood Shield actually didn't go up - I usually don't use cooldowns because the shield is normally enough) so I can see how not being hit/exp capped would contribute significantly to surviving vs. dying against a hard hitting progression boss.

I don't have enough experience playing the other tanks to give a fair assessment of how well they're performing vs. DKs (and I don't want this to turn into a discussion of which tanking class is the best or which got screwed the most), but given that DKs rely on a limited set of resources that regenerate over time (and through RNG - although I'm guessing Blood Tap should remove some/all? of that) I feel like Blood Shield not proccing on dodges and misses is unreasonable. We're in the same boat as paladins for resource generation, but unlike them we don't have a passive shield block; on top of that all the other tanks can actively use their mitigation to reduce/avoid all incoming damage whereas we're forced to be hit before we can do anything. The 25% stam buff in Blood Presence may help to alleviate some of this, and I guess we'll have to wait for some live numbers to see if it all works out.

I'll be playing around with the Tier 1 talents later tonight (I found Plague Leech to be clunky and hard to use well as a tanking cooldown) and I'll probably have a few questions on how to use it properly because I'm probably doing it wrong, lol. Also gonna try reforging to hit/exp cap and see how that goes.

While using DRW and casting Blood Boil me own diseases are refreshed but that put by DRW aren't. Is this intend?

I believe this is working as intended as Pestilence and Blood Boil work on your diseases, not those of the DRW; also can you imagine rolling 4 diseases on AOE packs? lol.
Actually pestilence does spread DRW's diseases, making it possible to have 4 diseases on each target, and doing so will lead to insane burst aoe threat. The pestilence triggered from Rolling Blood however, does not affect DRW's diseases, so use pestilence manually once if you want to spread DRW's diseases even with Rolling Blood.

Actually pestilence does spread DRW's diseases, making it possible to have 4 diseases on each target, and doing so will lead to insane burst aoe threat. The pestilence triggered from Rolling Blood however, does not affect DRW's diseases, so use pestilence manually once if you want to spread DRW's diseases even with Rolling Blood.

WTF, I thought they changed it when they did the pestilence change in Wrath (so that I wouldn't spread stuff like Devouring Plague). God, no wonder I always did so much more AOE damage on trash packs when I had DRW up. I never bothered to tab through the stuff quickly to see the other debuffs and Tidyplates only shows your personal debuffs. You learn something new every day.

Edit: Did a bit of reading on the subject. It appears that this only works if DRW is up when you cast pestilence (the DRW is the one mimicking the pestilence and spreading them itself). If you were to pestilence again later it would not spread the DRW's diseases. If you were to Blood Boil at 9s in before the DRW expires, it should replicate the BB and refresh the diseases (assuming the DRW's BB behaves the same as your BB for refreshing diseases).
After they nerfed DRW's ability to copy all spells the DK cast in Wrath, they gave it a set list of DK abilties. DRW doesn't have access to Blood abilties, it just has a list of abilties it's allowed to use. If a DK uses an ability on that list, DRW also uses it.

So DRW doesn't know Roiling Blood or Scarlet Fever, even if the casting DK has them.