PvE Blood Death Knight Tank Rotation & Cooldowns

blood death knight rotations and abilities featured image cataclysm

The overall rotation of a Blood Death Knight tank has been simplified with the arrival of Cataclysm, with some of the more complex mechanics from WotLK such as upkeeping Blade Barrier being obsolete. The addition of new proc effects plus the new Mastery effect, Blood Shield, has changed the way Blood Death Knight functions as a tank for the better.

In this section of the guide, we will go over the rotation and abilities of Blood Death Knight Tank, in both Single-Target and AoE/Cleave encounters.

Single-Target Rotation

  1. Cast Bone Shield before engaging and on cooldown after the initial cast
    • Use Blood Tap for your Bone Shield reset to avoid utilizing one of the Death Runes from the Unholy Runes slot
  2. Apply and upkeep diseases with Outbreak
  3. Cast Empower Rune Weapon after using all of your initial runes to reset them and generate a large amount of Threat
  4. Cast Rune Strike to spend Runic Power
    • Prioritize Rune Strike only after Depleting your Runes
  5. Cast Death Strike to heal yourself
    • Use Death Strike whenever Death, Unholy, and Frost Runes are available
  6. Cast Heart Strike whenever you have Blood Runes available
  7. Cast Blood Boil whenever Crimson Scourge procs

The Single-Target rotation has been simplified considerably when compared to WotLK in Cataclysm, as we now can use Rune Strike without any pre-requisite, apply and upkeep diseases easily, and even gain a proc that allows us to integrate Blood Boil in the rotation.

The main way we will apply diseases is now through Outbreak as it doesn’t require runes and applies both Frost Fever and Blood Plague at the same time. The cooldown also shares a similar duration with your diseases, making it easy for us to have 100% disease upkeep. Plague Strike and Icy Touch are good alternatives at the beginning of the fight to generate Threat, especially if you have Empower Rune Weapon available to instantly reset your runes.

Death Strike is your main filler ability, being spammed whenever your Death Runes become available for self-healing and for the Blood Shield effect while Heart Strike should only be used while Blood Runes are available. Heart Strike should never be used on the Death Runes which were converted from Frost or Unholy runes, as those are always reserved for Death Strike. Lastly, Rune Strike should mainly be used after consuming all of your active runes!

AoE/Cleave Rotation

  1. Cast Death and Decay as soon as you are in a proper position
  2. Apply and upkeep diseases with Outbreak
  3. Spread diseases with
  4. Cast Death Strike to heal yourself
  5. Cast Heart Strike whenever you have Blood Runes available if there are 3 targets
  6. Cast Blood Boil if there are more than 3 targets and whenever Crimson Scourge procs

The AoE/Cleave rotation remains fairly similar to what we were used to in WotLk, with not much changing in this regard in Cataclysm. The main difference is that we can now easily upkeep and spread our diseases much more efficiently through Outbreak and Pestilence. Death and Decay remains the highest priority spell in your kit that should be used as soon as your diseases are spread!

Thanks to the Crimson Scourge proc, we will now get to use Blood Boil much more often in AoE situations with Blood Boil becoming a much more prominent AoE tool while Heart Strike remains a stable Cleave tool in any encounter with two or three targets.

Lastly, Death Strike should be used as much as possible to maintain Blood Shield and provide self-healing.


About the Author


Hey there folks, I am Nevermore and have been deeply passionate about WoW for more than a decade. Whether we talk about the hidden mysteries of Azeroth or the otherworldly Outland, my journey brought me here to share the things that I have experienced with you all.
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