PvE Blood Death Knight Tank Stat Priority

wotlk classic pve blood death knight tank stat priority

Blood Death Knights have a similar stat priority to other tanks and physical damage dealers, with a catch: as a melee / spellcaster hybrid, we care about our spell hit chance as much as we care about our physical hit chance, and aim to cap both. As a tank, we also highly benefit from expertise, as it reduces the chance of our attacks to get dodged OR parried, so it essentially offers double the benefit for us than it does for melee DPS specs.

Stat Priority

  1. Hit Rating
    • Cap: 263 rating, or 230 if there’s a Draenei in your group — read below if you have the Virulence talent
  2. Expertise
  3. Defense Rating
    • Cap: 540 rating
  4. Stamina
  5. Armor
  6. Parry
  7. Dodge
  8. Strength
  9. Agility
  10. Attack Power
  11. Armor Penetration

Stat Explanations

Hit rating is by far the most important stat for a Blood Death Knight. If your hit chance is not “capped”, you will often find yourself missing your melee attacks and spells, resulting in potentially losing threat on your target, which will likely lead to a wipe. Death Knights are a hybrid class between a melee and a caster, they benefit from reaching both the melee and spell hit caps. You need 32.79 hit rating for 1% physical hit chance, and 26.232 hit rating for 1% spell hit chance.

In order to never miss with physical attacks, you will need 8% increased hit chance, or 263 hit rating. We unfortunately don’t have any talents or other effects which increase our hit chance, but if you have a Draenei in your group, you get the Heroic Presence buff which increases your hit chance by 1%, meaning you only need 7% bonus hit chance or 230 hit rating.

Capping spell hit chance is more challenging, as you need 17% bonus spell hit chance. Thankfully, our Virulence talent gives some “free” spell hit chance, though you can typically only put 2 points in it with the standard talent build. This means that we need 15% bonus spell hit chance, or 394 hit rating, which is slightly too high. Fortunately, in 25-man raids you’ll typically have a Shadow Priest or Balance Druid, who will apply a non-stacking debuff (Misery / Improved Faerie Fire) which increases your hit chance by a further 3%, reducing the cap down to 12% spell hit chance, or 315 hit rating. Having a Draenei in your group reduces that target by a further 1%, meaning you need 11% bonus spell hit chance, or 289 hit rating.

If you don’t have Virulence, it simply takes too much hit rating to cap your spell hit chance — you would have too trade too much survivability to reach the cap. For that reason, if you’re not running a Virulence build, we’d recommend that you just stick to the physical hit caps.

Expertise is a stat that reduces the chance of your attacks being dodged or parried. You get 1 expertise for every 8.1974 expertise rating you have, and each point of expertise reduces the chance that your attacks get dodged or parried by 0.25%. Thus, it takes 26 expertise (referred to as the “soft cap”) for your attacks to no longer be dodgeable, and 56 expertise (the “hard cap”) for your attacks to also not be parriable.

As a Blood Death Knight, we get a “free” 6 expertise from our incredibly powerful Veteran of the Third War talent, which every Blood DK should take. This means that you need 20 more expertise, or 164 expertise rating, in order to reach the soft cap. It is generally not recommended that you go for the hard cap, as it simply takes way too much investment to get there, but if you wanted to do so for some reason, you’d need 50 expertise, or a 410 expertise rating — assuming you have the 6 bonus expertise from Veteran of the Third War.

Defense rating is one of the most important stats that you will have to acquire as a tank! Defense Rating grants you a reduced chance to be hit by critical strikes, a reduced chance to be dazed, an increased chance of a boss missing his attacks on you, an increased dodge rating, and an increased parry rating.

You will always want to be defense capped, with the cap being 540! Beyond 540, defense rating will continue to increase your Parry and Dodge stat.

In the current meta of the expansion, Stamina is one of the best stats that you can acquire in any type of tanking specialization. Stamina increases your overall health, allowing you to “tank” some of the most grievous wounds and withstand deadly blows.

You will want to stack as much as possible from any form of equipment, enchantments, gems and flasks. There is no precise number for how much stamina you should acquire, however, we can tell you that you must aim to have as much as possible!

Armor rating is a stat that reduces all physical damage taken while also granting us a small bit of attack power through the Bladed Armor talent. As a Blood Death Knight, you will want to stack as much armor as possible through enchantments, equipment and gear, due to how important this stat is for us.

You will gain roughly 5 attack power for every 180 Armor Rating, for example, you would gain 500 attack power from an 18000 armor rating, turning armor rating not only into a defensive stat but also an offensive stat.

Death Knights do not use a shield and thus cannot block attacks — a weakness that they make up for with their Parry skill, with Death Knights having multiple abilities that relate to our parry chance, allowing us to completely avoid an attack. An example of this is the class-defining Forceful Deflection passive effect. As a Blood Death Knight, you will want to stack as much parry rating as possible, especially in the later phases of the expansion.

At the base amount, it takes 45.25 parry rating in order to get 1% increased parry chance. However, there are diminishing returns to parry rating — meaning the higher your parry rating, the more points you will need to get 1% increased parry chance.

In the earlier phases of the expansion, 18 to 20% parry chance will be a good amount to aim for, as a general rule of thumb.

Dodge is the second form of mitigation available to Death Knights, allowing you to completely avoid an attack. Dodge chance is afflicted by diminishing returns, meaning that the more dodge rating you acquire the harder it will be to increase your overall dodge percentage.

At the base amount, it takes 39.35 dodge rating in order to get 1% increased dodge chance. However, there are diminishing returns to dodge rating — meaning the higher your dodge rating, the more points you will need to get 1% increased dodge chance.

Strength is a stat that increases your overall attack power, being innate to Death Knights. As a tank, you generally do not want to acquire a large amount of strength, however, a Blood Death Knight works differently from other tanks, benefiting a great deal from stacking Strength.

The main reason for this is our Forceful Deflection passive effect which turns 25% of our strength into parry rating. This effect is very strong, though not strong enough that you’ll want to start stacking strength gems, enchants, etc.

Some people may be confused to see Agility in this list, as it is typically associated with Rogues and Hunters. However, it’s not exclusively useful for them, as it confers a variety of benefits for everyone; specifically, it increases armor, dodge chance and critical strike chance. 2 of those 3 benefits are obviously very useful for tanks.

The catch here sadly is that, while not a bad stat by any means, it’s typically mainly found on leather and mail pieces, which aren’t good for tanking, hence we rate it so low in the list. If you do see it on an otherwise decent item however, don’t be put off — it’s still a useful stat!

Attack power is the core stat for any physical damage dealer, and that includes us as Death Knights. More attack power means more damage and thus more threat, which is great. However, you generally don’t want to focus on this stat at all; you will get a decent amount of attack power via your strength and armor stats (thanks to the Bladed Armor talent), and it’s not worth it to sacrifice stamina for a tiny bit of extra, unneeded damage.

Just like it is the case for our DPS-orientated brothers Frost and Unholy, armor penetration is a powerful stat that increases our physical damage. A large percentage of our damage is physical, with Death Strike, our main ability, being 100% physical.

However, it’s simply not as strong as raw strength is for us, as all it does is increase our damage. However, it’s really good at that — don’t hesitate to grab a few armor penetration pieces that others don’t need, as they can be particularly good when you’re not tanking and thus don’t need to use tank gear.


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

is there other tanking methods for talents with bloodworms for little heath without taking over anyhting in blood?

1 year ago

Question, do we need any Resilience rating and how important it is ? how would you rank it ?

Reply to  Cutie
1 year ago

resilience is for pvp ignore it

Reply to  Piety
1 year ago

BiS Shoulder enchant is Greater Inscription of the Gladiator which gives resilience lowering def cap to 536.

1 year ago

Are you confusing defense rating with defense (skill)? My god, only more misinformation …

Reply to  angry_nerd
1 year ago

Why all the flagging down? You don’t know that you start with 400 points of Defense (lvl 80) and that 1 point of defense rating doesn’t increase Defense by 1 point? Do you think that you know better?

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