PvE Blood Death Knight Tank Best Races

wotlk classic pve blood death knight tank best races

In Wrath of the Lich King, Death Knights are available for every race without restrictions.

Horde has a clear best race for Blood DKs, while for Alliance, things are slightly muddier, as several races have useful bonuses.

Wow Horde CrestHorde

Wow Orc Crest Orc is the strongest race you can choose as a Horde Blood DK, and the other races are significantly weaker. , this is mainly due to two of their racial effects being extremely strong, namely Blood Fury which can be used to severely enhance your burst, and Axe Specialization which is extremely potent considering that most of the best weapons in the game are axes.

Teron Gorefiend, an Orc, was the first ever Death Knight in Warcraft lore, so it’s no coincidence that Orcs are the strongest race for Horde Death Knights. Axe Specialization and Blood Fury are simply better than what other races can offer, and it doesn’t hurt that Orc DKs look really cool too.

  • Axe Specialization increases your expertise by 5 when using axes or fist weapons. There are a lot of very powerful axes out there, including Shadowmourne, the strongest two-handed weapon in the game, thus this racial is extremely powerful.
  • Blood Fury is an on-use spell that increases your Attack Power and scales with your level. At level 80 it will provide +322 attack power for 15 seconds on a 2-minute cooldown. It no longer reduces healing received in WotLK, making it a great cooldown for tanks to use early on, helping you build a solid threat lead.
  • Hardiness provides you with resistance to crowd control effects which is better suited for PvP scenarios but it can also help you during certain PvE encounters. As a tank, this racial effect can really shine in PvE scenarios.
  • Command is a very powerful racial, that can enhance your pet’s damage. Unfortunately, only Unholy DK ghouls are classified as pets by the game, with the rest being classified as “guardians” — meaning we sadly do not benefit from this otherwise powerful racial effect.

Taurens are big and beefy (heh, heh) which is why they’re usually associated with tank specs. Unfortunately, their racials aren’t the best, even for tanking — but they’re still decent, hence their #2 position among Horde races.

  • Endurance increases base health by 5% — meaning your natural health at level 80, without your extra health or stamina from equipment, buffs, etc. Health is an incredibly powerful stat for Blood DKs (duh) but this bonus just isn’t very large, unfortunately.
  • War Stomp gives you an on-use AoE stun with a 2-minute cooldown. While it’s mostly useful in PvP situations, it can also be used to provide a quick crowd control effect — specially useful against caster mobs. Beware, however — you cannot dodge or parry during the 0.5 second you’re casting this spell, so only use it when you aren’t actively tanking a melee mob.
  • Nature Resistance reduces the chance you will be hit by Nature spells by 2%. This is mostly a neglectable racial when it comes to PvE.
  • Cultivation increases your initial Herbalism skill by 15. This doesn’t have a gameplay impact besides minor convenience.

Trolls are an extremely powerful race for DPS classes, but their racials sadly don’t help with tanking as much. Their racials are still okay, but the races listed above are just better. It’s a shame — we’d love to do some voodoo magic, Drakuru style!

  • Berserking is an on-use spell that offers +20% increased attack speed for 10 seconds on a 3-minute cooldown. Attack speed isn’t the greatest stat for Blood DKs, as auto-attacks are less important for us than other DK specializations, but it’s still a decent racial effect.
  • Beast Slaying increases your damage dealt to Beast-type enemies by 5%, which is very powerful. Unfortunately, there aren’t a whole lot of Beasts in Wrath of the Lich King, especially inside raids, making this racial not too impressive in practice.
  • Da Voodoo Shuffle passively reduces the duration of movement slowing & immobilizing effects on you by 15%. Generally mostly a PvP racial, but it can occasionally come in handy in PvE as well when it comes to tanking. This can be extremely useful when you are dealing with caster mobs that have slowing spells.
  • Regeneration increases health regeneration by 10% and allows you to regenerate health during combat at 10% of the your normal regeneration rate. Unfortunately for us, our self-healing effects are classified as “healing” and not as “health regeneration”, so they don’t benefit from this racial, meaning it’s only really relevant while questing or leveling.
  • Bow Specialization and Throwing Specialization increase your critical strike chance with bows & throwing weapons by 1%. Sadly, Death Knights do not benefit from this racial effect as they cannot use ranged weapons.

Vampire Barbie is an incredibly cool concept that we would absolutely love to explore. However, the unfortunate reality of the situation is that Blood Elf racials just aren’t that good for Blood DKs. Any of the races listed above will be significantly better tanks, sadly.

  • Arcane Torrent is an-use racial with a 2 minute cooldown, which silences all enemies within 8 yards for 2 seconds, while also restoring 15 runic power to you. The runic power component is trivial, but the AoE silence can help repositioning casters — though it will generally more useful in dungeons than raids, as many raid enemies (including bosses) are immune to silence.
  • Magical Resistance reduces the chance to be hit by spells by 2%. This racial effect, while useful by definition, does not provide a considerable gameplay bonus while in raids.
  • Arcane Affinity increases your initial Enchanting skill by 10. This does not have colossal gameplay implications, only providing an initial minor bonus.

Some people die once, and then there’s you, Jimmy… the Undead Death Knight? How beautifully ironic. Wait, you steal people’s blood in order to regenerate your life? Isn’t that, like, against the rules?

Unfortunately we’ll never find out, as Undead have no PvE-relevant racials whatsoever, particularly for tanks. You could choose to go Undead just for the sheer peculiarity of the concept, or because you think they look cool — but know that you’ll be severely weakening your character in the process.

  • Will of the Forsaken removes charm, fear, and sleep effects. This will be the biggest beneficial racial for PvE as it will help mitigate certain raid mechanics.
  • Cannibalize allows you to feast on the corpses of your slain enemies to restore your health. This does not have big implications for PvE content but does come in handy whilst doing solo content.
  • Shadow Resistance reduces the chance you will be hit by Shadow spells by 2%. This is mostly a neglectable racial when it comes to PvE.
  • Underwater Breathing helps you survive for a very long time underwater. Most raids are unfortunately above water.

Wow Alliance Crest Alliance

Wow Human Crest Human is the strongest option for Alliance Blood Death Knights, thanks to their Sword Specialization & Mace Specialization which increase their expertise by 3 when using swords or maces. Every Man for Himself is also an excellent racial effect, particularly in PvP. However, you will frequently find yourself using axes as a Blood DK, so in reality the difference won’t be very big — you actually have a few options as an Alliance Blood DK.

The first Death Knight may have been an Orc, but the most famous DKs in the World of Warcraft are all Humans: Mograine, Thassarian, Baron Rivendare, just so many of ’em. It’s thus no coincidence that Humans make the best Blood DKs on the Alliance side. However, their strength lies in their expertise-boosting racial which activates only when using swords or maces — if you swap to an axe, such as the all-powerful Shadowmourne, then the lead that Humans have vanishes. The remaining races then all become great choices.

  • Sword Specialization & Mace Specialization increase your expertise by 3 when using swords or maces. This is lower than the 5 expertise that other races get with equivalent racials, but you have more versatility in picking different weapon types, while other races are generally forced into 1 specific weapon type.
  • Every Man for Himself is a crowd-control removal ability just like the Undead race, but this one has universal applicability. It is useful in PvE scenarios but has much more use in a PvP encounter, where Humans are typically considered the strongest race in the game.
  • Perception passively increases your stealth detection level by a small amount. Since there aren’t a lot of stealthed mobs in PvE, this benefit is largely not too useful.
  • Diplomacy increases the rate at which you gain reputation by 10%, a major boost for your reputation grind. Whilst a beneficial quality of life racial, it doesn’t impact actual gameplay.
  • The Human Spirit increases your spirit by 3%. This is unfortunately nearly useless for Death Knights.

Many won’t remember this, but Thane Korth’azz, the dwarf, was the most dangerous Death Knight of the 4 Horsemen back in Classic, which is why raids were forced to kill him first or risk dying to his powerful spells. Thus, it’s thematically appropriate that Dwarves make for the second best race for Alliance Blood DKs, having 2 extremely solid racials.

  • Mace Specialization increases your expertise by 5 when using maces. Most of the strongest weapons you could use tend to be axes and swords, making this racial better on paper than it is in practice. Regardless, it is incredibly powerful if you’re using maces.
  • Stoneform is an on-use spell that gives you +10% increased armor for 8 seconds on a 2-minute cooldown. For a Blood Death Knight, this racial effect is extremely powerful, especially since it also gives you a small offensive boost thanks to the Bladed Armor talent.
  • Frost Resistance reduces the chance you will be hit by Frost spells by 2%. This is mostly a neglectable racial when it comes to PvE.
  • Find Treasure is a very cool racial from a roleplay point of view, allowing you to see treasure on the minimap. This is very fun to use while questing and leveling up, but it unfortunately has 0 relevance in raids.
  • Gun Specialization increases your critical strike chance with guns by 1%. This racial effect is entirely useless for Death Knights, as we cannot use guns.

Draenei Death Knights are heresy. How DARE you.

In all seriousness, Draenei is a decent choice for Blood DK. You will generally see better results in terms of your threat and survivability with Human and Dwarf respectively, but in truth none of the races offer a massive, irreplaceable benefit, so if your raid needs more Draenei for the Heroic Presence racial, you could roll Draenei. Having said that, you typically want your casters and healers to be the one offering this buff, and if you already have 5 Draenei in your raid, then you effectively don’t have any racial effects, because the other effects just don’t help you as much.

  • Heroic Presence increases the chance to hit with spells and physical attacks by 1% for you and all party members within 30 yards. Every single DPS group will want to have at least 1 Draenei for this powerful buff, meaning your raid needs 5 Draenei in total. Those 5 Draenei will ideally be casters or healers, as they don’t gain much of a benefit from any of the other races.
  • Gift of the Naaru places a heal-over-time effect on a single target that lasts 15 seconds, with a 3-minute cooldown. You cannot parry or dodge while casting, however, compared to the TBC era, this spell is now an instant cast usable even while tanking. Moreover, the heal amount scales with your attack power, scaling perfectly well with a Blood Death Knight!
  • Shadow Resistance reduces the chance you will be hit by Shadow spells by 2%. This is mostly a neglectable racial when it comes to PvE.
  • Gemcutting increases your initial Jewelcrafting skill by 5. This doesn’t have a gameplay impact besides minor convenience.

Night Elves tend to be the butt of jokes in discussions about racial effects, as their racials just aren’t really useful for anyone — and Blood DKs are no exception. Be expected to get asked if you misclicked Night Elf while selecting your character’s race, as a Blood DK.

  • Quickness reduces the chance you’ll be hit by melee and ranged attacks by 2%. This effect is surprisingly nifty, helping patch up your defensive stats early on. However, its value diminishes dramatically after your gear has become good enough that you are naturally immune to critical strikes — it’ll simply be better to go Dwarf if a defensive boost is what you’re after.
  • Nature Resistance reduces the chance you will be hit by Nature spells by 2%. This is mostly a neglectable racial when it comes to PvE.
  • Shadowmeld can be used in order to escape combat and become stealthed once every 2 minutes. It will also cause you to drop all threat on every target you’re currently engaged in combat with, but all threat will be restored the moment you leave stealth — which will happen the moment you move or take any action. The moment you use it, the boss will turn around and kill a random DPS player, meaning its only value comes from trolling your raid — and if that’s your plan, you might as well pick Gnome.
  • Elusiveness reduces the chance to be detected if you are stealthed. The only way to go stealth as a Death Knight is through Shadowmeld, making this racial irrelevant in PvE content.
  • Wisp Spirit increases your movement speed by 75% while dead. You generally don’t want to be dead.

Gnomes are without a doubt the weakest race for an Alliance Blood DK. However, that is only a concern for meta-chasing sheep — you should 100%, without a doubt, pick Gnome as a Blood DK. The reason would of course be aesthetics — there’s something absolutely hilarious about being a tiny guy with glowing blue eyes, holding an axe 3 times your size, tanking a massive undead monstrosity and refusing to die as you constantly steal its life. Trust us on this one, ignore the comments listed below and follow your dreams as a Gnome tank.

  • Escape Artist instantly removes all movement slowing and immobilizing effects on a 1-minute cooldown. While this can occasionally be useful in PvE, it’s generally better in PvP (where Humans are far better anyway), so this is overall not amazing.
  • Engineering Specialization increases your initial Engineering skill by 15. This is slightly more useful than other profession-boosting racials, as Engineering has guardian-type summoned pets, which scale with your Engineering skill. This racial makes your summoned pets level 83, which makes them a decent bit stronger, but as there aren’t many useful guardians, this racial isn’t really ground-breaking.
  • Arcane Resistance reduces the chance you will be hit by Arcane spells by 2%. This is mostly a neglectable racial when it comes to PvE.
  • Expansive Mind increases your total Intellect by 5%. Death Knights do not gain any benefit out of Intellect, and if you actually picked Gnome DK, then it’s probably for the best that you lack the intellectual capacity to think more about it anyway.


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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1 year ago

I disagree about Human racials being better than Night Elf for blood PvE. 3 expertise is equivalent to about 23 expertise rating at 80, swiftness is (roughly, since you can’t gem for overall miss) equivalent to about 63 dodge rating at 80. Blood DKs are single target threat monsters so the main reason for wanting expertise is to avoid parry haste. There’s only a few bosses where that matters and they are later in the game. If you’re tanking, chances are that you’re a priority for dispelling any loss-of-control effects even on the handful of fights that have them, so the free PvP trinket isn’t that big for raids. 2% miss chance helps against literally every mob, as well as shifting the hit table to make easier to become uncrittable.Dwarf stoneform is decent, but it’s really a less powerful version of icebound fortitude.

Reply to  Mondegreen
1 year ago

Hey and thank you for your comment!

3 expertise isn’t an incredibly significant amount, you’re right on that, but also avoiding parry haste isn’t the only reason to want it. Blood DKs have really good ST threat, for sure, but if an overly keen DPS player gets a chain of crits at the start of a fight, while you get a couple of unlucky dodges or parries (so all your threat came from IT + fever) it isn’t impossible for them to pull threat. Moreover, sometimes you really need to hit that Death Strike for an emergency heal, you don’t want to have to cast it twice to get the heal, and avoiding a dodge / parry there can be very nice. The double nature of parry & dodge reduction on expertise has a tremendous return there, so as a tank I’d say any expertise amount that pushes you closer to the soft cap is very, very nice.

Furthermore, the free PvP trinket can remove undispellable CC, and it can work in situations where the entire raid gets CCed, such as AoE fears — situations where your healers can’t simply dispel you. Again, you’re right that it’s not a gamebreaking benefit, but it definitely helps a bit!

Overall you’re right, Night Elf isn’t a terrible race, we might have been slightly harsh here. However, most Blood DKs will go Human for an offensive / DPS focus (still matters when off-tanking or not tanking!), Draenei if their raid needs the hit racial, or Dwarf for a defensive focus. The Dwarf racial is a less powerful version of Icebound Fortitude, but you can have both, so why not? It can help a bit when things get ugly. Meanwhile the NE racial, while undoubtedly useful, as you yourself say kinda loses a big part of its value once you’re uncrittable off your gear alone, and just helps you slightly passively. Not a useless race by any means, but I think it’s fair to rank it as the 4th best Alliance race overall, though of course it’s completely fine to disagree and prefer Night Elf.

Once again thank you for your comment!

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