- Author: Nevermore
- Date: July 19, 2022
- Updated: September 15, 2022
- Expansion: WotLK Classic
When it comes to the abilities and possible rotations for a Death Knight, we have to take into consideration the fact that the class itself uses two special types of resources. With this in mind, there are two things that we have to talk about. First of all, it is unbelievably easy to mess up your rotation due to how our runes work. Secondly, we have to take into consideration that there is a major difference between a properly done rotation and a completely random button-mash. In this section of the guide, we will explain how to properly utilize both your Runes and Runic power and how to properly perform your rotation whether it might be on a Single-Target raid boss or an AoE situation in a dungeon filled with monsters.
- Cast Death and Decay if you’re fighting 2 or more targets
- Cast Icy Touch, which will apply Frost Fever on the target
- Cast Plague Strike, which will apply Blood Plague on the target
- Cast Pestilence to spread your diseases if fighting 2 or more targets
- Use your Frost Runes on Icy Touch if you need more threat, or Death Strike if you need healing / damage instead
- Use up your Blood runes so you activate Blade Barrier — dependent on the situation
- Cast Empower Rune Weapon when all your Runes are used up
- Cast Blood Tap on cooldown, using the Death Rune for an Icy Touch or Death Strike
- Make sure Rune Strike is added to all of your abilities with a macro, so you cast it as much as possible
- Use Horn of Winter when all of your Runes are used up — it generates Runic Power!
- If you find yourself having 80+ Runic Power and all of your Runes are used up, “dump” your Runic Power by using Death Coil
- You have a lot of defensive cooldowns, use them as needed: Icebound Fortitude, Death Pact, Vampiric Blood, Rune Tap, Anti-Magic Shell
When it comes to Single-Target, Blood Death Knights have one of the strongest threat generation tools in the entire game!
There will be only one standard rotation for the entirety of the expansion, even with Tier set changes.
- Icy Touch->Icy Touch-> Blood Tap -> Icy Touch -> Empower Rune Weapon ->Icy Touch -> Icy Touch ->Plague Strike-> Pestilence-> Blood Strike -> Rune Strike (Whenever Possible)->Horn of Winter-> Death Strike (Whenever on 75% health) ->Repeat
- Use Dark Command whenever you have to swap back aggro from the Main Tank/Off Tank
- Rune Strike should be bound to every single one of your offensive abilities as it does not have a Global Cooldown, use it constantly!
- Aim to refresh your diseases with Pestilence!
- Icy Touch is your most important spell, you can consider it your true “filler” ability as you will want to cast it constantly.
- Use Blood Strike when you have spare Blood Runes, which will re-activate your Blade Barrier talent
- Death Strike should be used whenever you are crossing the 75% health threshold, especially due to the fact that it procs Death Runes
- Blood Tap as often as possible to either cast Death Strike or Icy Touch
- Use defensive cooldowns properly! Learn the bosses’ abilities and use them in the proper moment, utilizing them randomly can result in one-shots.
As a Blood Death Knight, you have to understand one thing clear right from the beginning of your journey, Icy Touch is your most powerful spell! Icy Touch generates the highest amount of threat in the entire game, you could even call it an absurd amount. Our whole rotation is designed in such a way that we maintain our survivability while we dish out as many Icy Touches as possible.
Another side of our rotation is disease upkeep, due to the fact that we do not benefit from Epidemic, we will have to refresh our diseases often. Luckily, with the number of Icy Touches spammed throughout a fight, you will only have to worry about Blood Plague. This can be easily solved by utilizing the Glyph of Disease, which allows us to both spread our diseases through Pestilence but also refresh them on all affected targets.
Empower Rune Weapon should always be used at the beginning of the fight due to two main reasons. First of all, it has an insanely high cooldown, allowing maybe one or two uses in an entire fight. Secondly, it enables you to properly grasp your target, making sure that you cast enough Icy Touches that it will never want to lose sight of you. However, do be careful of using Empower Rune Weapon right of the bat when you are dealing with an encounter that requires constant target swapping, as you might need to use it a bit later on to help your other tank.
An important aspect that you should understand right off the bat is your taunt mechanic, Dark Command. It is of utmost importance that you understand that you should NEVER use it as an initiation tool. You should only use Dark Command when there is a pesky mob that can not be grabbed by Death Grip and is threatening one of your squishy allies, or when you have to face some type of stacking mechanic from a boss and you and the other tank have to rotate aggro. Failing to do so will most likely result in a very fast wipe and a potential scolding from your team mates.
Blood Tap should always be used on cooldown due to the generation of Death Runes. At the same time, you can think of your Death Strike as an ability with two distinct mechanics. The first one is to generate Death Runes, just like Blood Tap, while the second mechanic is to offer you a very strong self-heal.
Death Runes will be one of the most important aspects of your rotation, due to the fact that it further enables your Icy Touch spam!
Death Strike, as mentioned above, should be used as much as possible when you reach 75% health, as it is an extremely potent ability. Once you are sure that you have generated enough threat on a target in such a way that it might never escape your evil grasp, you can entirely focus on spamming Death Strike.
Rune Strike is a unique Runic Power spender among the Death Knight specializations, mainly due to the fact that it is not affected by Global Cooldown. However, the ability has a prerequisite that we will be lucky enough to proc consistently. You can macro Rune Strike to all of your offensive cooldowns, resulting in a Rune Strike spam, especially when considering how reliant we are on parrying our opponent’s strikes. Rune Strike is by far one of your hardest-hitting abilities, making it one of the best runic spenders, unlike Death Coil. Speaking of which, you can choose to utilize Death Coil in a macro with Lichborne in order to heal yourself in sticky situations!
Lastly, defensive cooldowns can be used in a multitude of ways. You can choose to use them individually in certain moments of an encounter, which entirely depends on the type of encounter that you are facing or you can choose to use them all at the same type if you require a panic button.
Nonetheless, each defensive cooldown has its own strengths and weaknesses, many of the encounters require a combination of multiple defenses in order to be effective. For example, in some fights, you will want to preserve Anti-Magic Shell to entirely cancel a magic debuff mechanic, however, you may want to utilize both Icebound Fortitude and Vampiric Blood at the same time in the case of a Boss that has an enrage mechanic or simply hits hard during a certain mechanic.
You should never start the fight with your defensive cooldowns as it will severely dampen your ability to mitigate important raid mechanics! Always be mindful of your encounters and never randomly press them!
Blood Death Knights have multiple tools in their arsenal when it comes to Area-of-Effect encounters, ranging from spreading your diseases to boiling the blood of your enemies or even desecrating the ground beneath their feet.
- Death and Decay -> Icy Touch -> Plague Strike -> Pestilence -> Blood Tap -> Blood Boil -> Refresh diseases (Pestilence) -> Death Strike-> (Weave in Rune Strike) -> Death Strike -> Pestilence-> Blood Boil x5 -> Repeat
As mentioned earlier, the main way that you can spread your diseases is by using Pestilence. On top of that, you also have access to Death and Decay, a zone-based ability that allows you to devastate an area.
There are two main ways in which you can refresh your diseases, the first one is to manually reapply them to your main target and then cast Pestilence again, thus refreshing the disease duration to all the targets afflicted by the second Pestilence. The second way of refreshing your diseases in an AoE situation is to utilize the Glyph of Disease. By utilizing the Glyph of Disease, you will be able to refresh all diseases that are currently afflicting any mob in your vicinity by just simply casting Pestilence again, without the need to cast Icy Touch or Plague Strike on your main target first.
A fun tool that we have access to as Blood Death Knights is Blood Boil. Not only that it is befitting to the lore but it also deals high amounts of damage! The catch to Blood Boil is to always refresh your diseases properly, as it will deal increased damage to targets affected by your diseases.