Blood Death Knight Tank Covenants For M+ (shadowlands)

Covenants provide an array of packaged benefits to players. After showing the recommendation upfront, each aspect of covenants will be reviewed, compared, and then the covenants will be looked at as a whole. By default, it is assumed that the player has maximum renown, though there is some mention of how things change at lower renown levels.

Recommendation

General Recommendation: (Kyrian)/Mikanikos
EHP or Threat Alternative: (Night Fae)/Niya

Signature Abilities

To start, each covenant provides access to signature abilities that are given to all classes.

Kyrian:

[Phial of Serenity] – A supplement healing potion that provides the added benefit of removing Curse, Disease, Poison, and Bleed effects. 

Extra Details: 

  • The three minute cooldown doesn’t begin until you leave combat.
  • A potion with 3 charges can be generated every 5 minutes.

Necrolords:

[Fleshcraft] – This ability provides a reasonably-sized absorb shield and a damage reduction effect while it is channeling. Absorbing corpses reduces the cooldown of this ability. 

Extra Details: 

  • You can dodge and parry while channeling this ability.

Night Fae:

[Soulshape] – This is a powerful movement speed buff combined with a recastable blink effect. However, the form is lost whenever another cast is used.

Extra Details: 

  • The blink occurs on cast and is available for additional casts on a 4 second cooldown.

Venthyr:

[Door of Shadows] – This long range targeted teleport.

Comments:

[Phial of Serenity] can be extremely useful when you are frequently dealing with dangerous debuff effects it can remove (such as when dealing with the [Necrotic] affix). The mitigation provided by the healing effect is insignificant relative to incoming damage for its cooldown, but it’s something.

[Fleshcraft] provides a small amount of mitigation with its absorb shield and some temporary EHP with its damage reduction effect. It’s not overwhelmingly powerful, but it’s a solid benefit.

[Soulshape] provides some much needed general-use mobility, which can also be used as an instant disengage from enemies with its blink effect and can greatly help when setting up multi-group pulls.

[Door of Shadows] is a little clunky for tanks since it is not instant cast and you can’t dodge or parry while casting it, but it’s still a nice mobility tool that can address some of our movement speed needs and it can be used for quick disengages.

None of these signature abilities are universally strong, but they can all be a nice benefit under the right circumstances.

Class Abilities

Each covenant provides access to class-specific abilities.

Kyrian:

[Shackle the Unworthy] – A single target DoT effect that reduces the damage a target does to you that can be spread with rune-spending abilities. 

Extra Details: 

  • The DoT has a 50% chance to spread when targets are hit with rune-spending abilities.
  • If you hit multiple targets with a [Heart Strike] that all have the DoT, you have a 50% chance to spread the DoT for each target hit, though it can only spread once per [Heart Strike].
  • The DoT spreads at its current duration.
  • Unlike other Death Knight DoT effects, this fully scales with haste.
  • The DoT effect also ticks once, immediately, on debuff application.

Necrolords:

[Abomination Limb] – An AoE damage ability that pulses damage and constantly spams a damaging [Death Grip] on applicable targets. Generates up to 9 [Bone Shield] charges over the duration.

Extra Details: 

  • Every tick of damage has the ability to [Death Grip] a target between 8 and 20 yards away from you (prioritizing the closest target in this range).
  • The same target cannot be gripped more than once every 4 seconds.
  • The [Death Grip] does the same amount of damage as the normal AoE ticks.

Night Fae:

[Death’s Due] – An upgraded [Death and Decay] that causes each [Heart Strike] used in the AoE ground effect to apply a buff/debuff for 2% Strength and 2% personal damage reduction, stacking up to 8% each.

Extra Details: 

  • The duration of the buff *and* debuff is 12 seconds and these durations get refreshed with every [Heart Strike].
  • You get a stack of the buff effect for every enemy hit by each applicable [Heart Strike].
  • Other than the buff/debuff and visual effects, this ability functions *exactly* like [Death and Decay] for Blood.

Venthyr:

[Swarming Mist] – An AoE damage ability that pulses damage, generates RP based on the number of targets hit, and provides some additional dodge.

Extra Details: 

  • This ability ticks once immediately on cast.

Comments:

[Shackle the Unworthy] will generally provide the most single target damage of the class abilities, but its mitigation contribution is fairly small. Against multiple targets, the DoT can slowly spread at a reduced duration, so both the damage and mitigation of this ability do not scale as well as the other class covenant abilities as target count increases.

[Abomination Limb] provides a moderate amount of mitigation through [Bone Shield] generation and it can provide the most AoE damage of the class abilities with enough targets. Granted, this combination of mitigation and damage, on its own, does not differentiate itself too much from the competition. An additional benefit of this ability is its continuous [Death Grip]s. It’s rare that we get much value out of thesee [Death Grip]s in M+, but it’s nice when it happens.

[Death’s Due] provides a solid and consistent amount of mitigation, EHP, and damage. However, the buffs and debuffs associated with [Death’s Due] are slow to ramp up, limited in effectiveness on 6+ targets, movement constraining, and very high maintenance compared to other options; all of these downsides cause a loss of value in M+ content where individual pulls may not last long, may have more than 5 targets, may require movement, and may already require some degree of multi-tasking. Once it ramps up, the fact that its benefits are consistent and that it provides a respectable amount of EHP is useful; these two things are the main benefits it has over other covenant abilities, since the mitigation and damage increase, on its own, does not stand out.

[Swarming Mist] provides moderate mitigation and damage when used on a single target, but it provides a very large burst of mitigation and good damage when the target count gets high enough. The main issue with the ability’s mitigation is that it overloads you with so much RP in a short period of time with multiple targets that it’s hard to make efficient use of it all, since it can provide as much as 145 RP while you continue to use other rune-spending abilities. Still, the fact that it is very controllable means that smart use of this ability can amplify its value.

Alone, all of these abilities provide significant bonuses, much more than the signature covenant abilities. However, soulbinds are also influential.

Covenant Legendary Powers

In 9.2, covenant legendary items can be equipped in addition to any other legendary item. So, for all intents and purposes, the covenant legendary power is now a part of a covenant’s baseline power, especially since there are no special legendary synergies enabled by our covenant legendary powers that cause us to change our “normal” legendary based on our covenant choice.

Kyrian:

[Final Sentence] – This legendary power provides rune generation and a stacking increased damage buff when [Shackle the Unworthy] is applied to targets. The effect can provide a significant amount of mitigation and damage when multiple targets are present, but the legendary power provides minimal benefits on single targets or especially low target counts.

Necrolords:

[Abomination’s Frenzy] – This legendary power provides increased [Abomination Limb] duration, increased [Bone Shield] generation during [Abomination Limb], and an increased damage taken (by you) debuff on any damaged enemies. Unless you are starting from zero [Bone Shield] charges, most of the additional [Bone Shield] generation will be wasted. Outside of any additional grip utility, this legendary power only provides a low amount of mitigation and damage.

Night Fae:

[Rampant Transference] – This legendary power provides increased RP generation when standing in [Death and Decay] as well as increasing the duration and strength of our [Death’s Due] stacks (specifically the strength buff and *not* the damage reduction debuff). Since we actually care about our damage reduction debuff, this legendary power does not change how we use [Death and Decay], so the only benefits of note are the increased strength and RP generation. In total, the legendary power provides a large amount of mitigation and damage in all situations.

Venthyr:

[Insatiable Hunger] – This legendary power potentially provides a large amount of burst damage on up to five targets through its [Swarming Mist] effect. However, since the effect deals more damage based on the amount of RP spent during [Swarming Mist], maximizing the damage benefit will come at a cost for mitigation. A portion of the damage is provided as healing, but, similar to other leech effects, it does not result in a significant amount of mitigation on its own. Due to the damage profile of this legendary power, it becomes less impressive the more you deviate from a five target pull.

Comments:

The 9.2 addition of a second legendary power disproportionally benefits (Night Fae) and (Kyrian) relative to (Venthyr) and (especially) (Necrolord) in M+.

Soulbinds

Kyrian Comments:

Pelagos provides a decent blend of mitigation, damage, and EHP relative to the other Kyrian options.  Most of his benefits are from the periodic burst of mastery rating provided by [Combat Meditation]. [Better Together] and [Newfound Resolve] provide smaller, but respectable, benefits. The magic mitigation from [Let Go of the Past] doesn’t hurt, but it usually isn’t particularly valuable. About half of the potential benefit of [Combat Meditation] is associated with chasing three orbs around once every cast, which is a movement constraint that makes his full potential harder to reach in real situations.

Kleia provides some unique utility, but she is hard to justify over the other Kyrian soulbinds on the standard measures. Healing from [Valiant Strikes] and [Resonant Accolades] is relatively minor compared to other mitigation-based soulbind traits. While we aren’t huge fans of critical strike under normal circumstances, it doesn’t help that the critical strike being provided here doesn’t factor into our parry rating, at all. One unique utility available with Kleia is the 8 second debuff immunity that she can give to [Phial of Serenity], which means she has some more utility against [Necrotic], but, at the end of the day, that’s her only redeeming quality.

Mikanikos has some interesting benefits. Especially due to interactions with the 9.2 tier set bonuses, he has a noticeable mitigation and damage throughput advantage compared to the other Kyrian soulbinds. [Effusive Anima Accelerator] and [Hammer of Genesis], in particular, are what gives him most of his extra value, especially with the tier set synergy. Mikanikos is considered the recommended soulbind among the Kyrian soulbinds, since neither of the other options compete with him on traditional metrics or [Dancing Rune Weapon] uptime.

Necrolord Comments:

Bonesmith Heirmir provides some unique EHP benefits on multiple targets with average damage that is skewed towards high target counts among the Necrolord options, though he provides the least mitigation. [Serrated Spaulders] and [Mnemonic Equipment] provide pure damage benefits. [Forgeborne Reveries] provides Strength and Armor, while also providing the handy ability of keeping you alive for 10 additional seconds when you die. [Waking Bone Breastplate] provides a respectable boost of EHP in multiple target situations.

Plague Devisor Marileth provides the best mitigation benefits of the Necrolord soulbinds, by far,  along with average damage potential. His performance can be further enhanced by buffs collected from dead enemies. He is providing self-healing through [Ooz’s Frictionless Coating] along with passive mastery and other benefits through [Volatile Solvent], as well as a pseudo-EHP benefit through [Undulating Maneuvers]. [Kevin’s Oozeling] provides an additional minor source of flat damage and healing output, though it isn’t too impactful overall. Plague Devisor is the go-to M+ option for this covenant due to a commanding mitigation advantage without significant downsides.

Emeni has a bit higher damage output on single targets relative to the other Necrolord options, though her multiple target damage is very similar to the other options. While her mitigation benefits aren’t as low as Heirmir, they also aren’t close to what Marileth provides and she isn’t providing much of an EHP benefit. She has a primary stat buff for yourself and allies through [Lead by Example], a temporary increase in EHP from [Emeni’s Magnificent Skin], magic-specific healing output through [Resilient Stitching], and flat damage/healing output through [Pustule Eruption].

Night Fae Comments:

Niya provides the strongest benefits for mitigation, EHP, and damage at all target counts among the Night Fae options. [Grove Invigoration] and [Bonded Hearts] provide a consistent source of extra mastery, health, and healing, while [Survivor’s Rally] provides even more healing. Additionally, she has [Niya’s Tools: Burrs] available for a strong single target damage increase.

Korayn provides an assortment of benefits that don’t quite stack up against the competition. she gets a small damage boost with [Wild Hunt Tactics] and [Wild Hunt Stratagem], which also have a small impact on [Death Strike] healing. [Hunt’s Exhilaration] provides a consistent leech benefit which provides a small boost to mitigation. While the benefits of [Hold the Line] are strong, having to stand still for 5 seconds is usually too restrictive to get much value out of it. Without being able to benefit from [Hold the Line], there’s not much of an argument to be made to take Korayn over Niya even after taking into account [Wild Hunt Tactics], [Wild Hunt Stratagem], and [Hunt’s Exhilaration].

Dreamweaver provides reasonably competitive overall benefits, but Niya is almost strictly better by traditional metrics and Dreamweaver can’t use cheat death effects effectively. She gets a reasonable (but movement restricting) haste buff through [Field of Blossoms], in addition to either an increase in healing efficiency from [Empowered Chrysalis] or a versatility buff through [Social Butterfly]. Additionally, [Waking Dreams] provides a strong boost in self-healing. Being forced to take [Podtender] is a bit iffy; while a cheat death is nice, it leaves your group vulnerable to further deaths while you’re stuck in stasis for 10 seconds (which also locks you out of getting battle resurrected in a shorter amount of time in a situation where you died straight-up). It will also out-prioritize more useful cheat death effects, which diminishes their value.

Venthyr Comments:

Theotar provides a strong blend of mitigation and damage benefits with some movement considerations, since he provides both a versatility and a mastery soulbind trait along with a random buff effect. While the [Soothing Shade] buff has some movement constraints, only a fraction of its potential uptime is needed for Theotar to outperform Nadjia on mitigation and damage, especially after taking the [Wasteland Propriety] group buffs into account.

Nadjia has decent mitigation and damage benefits that are unconstrained by movement considerations, but her potential performance tends to be lower than the other two soulbinds in most M+ situations. She has a back-loaded haste and versatility buff through [Thrill Seeker] and [Fatal Flaw], along with assorted benefits from [Exacting Preparation] and a potential AoE CC on [Door of Shadows] from [Agent of Chaos].

General Draven’s mitigation is comparable to the other Venthyr soulbinds, while he has slightly less damage output on single targets. However, he does not lose significant value from either forced movement or being out of combat for long periods of time and he provides a *lot* more EHP than the other options even if you assume [Hold Your Ground], a large potential source of EHP, has a low uptime. Given the low cost associated with his significant EHP benefit, General Draven is the go-to Venthyr soulbind for M+. In addition to [Hold Your Ground], [Service in Stone] provides a consistent source of EHP, while [Battlefield Presence] provides even more consistent EHP (on top of increased damage and healing) that is particularly noticeable on multiple targets. To top it all off, [Regenerative Stone Skin] provides a respectable amount of mitigation.

Overall

General Recommendation: (Kyrian)/Mikanikos
EHP or Threat Alternative: (Night Fae)/Niya

Basis:

Option #1: (Kyrian) – Here’s a summary of overall benefits assuming Mikanikos is used as a soulbind:

Altogether, (Kyrian) benefits provide above-average damage at all targets count and strong multiple target mitigation throughput, but it is at the cost of no significant EHP benefits and having on-pull threat issues. Added gameplay considerations are to use rune-spending abilities on targets with [Shackle the Unworthy] to spread the debuff and to prevent excess resource waste as much as possible with [Final Sentence] rune regeneration, but this isn’t overly complicated with the current rotation in 9.2. The 9.2 tier set has disproportionately benefited (Kyrian) more compared to other covenants, since (Kyrian) has the most extra rune regeneration potential and the tier set bonus disproportionately benefits from extra rune regeneration; in particular, this means that (Kyrian) will enjoy higher uptimes of [Dancing Rune Weapon] than other covenants. [Phial of Serenity] can also become a lot more valuable when it has the ability to remove dangerous debuffs (such as when [Necrotic] is active).

Why is (Kyrian) not generally recommended? The prospects of (Kyrian) have greatly improved with a second legendary power in 9.2 and the tier set bonus, overall mitigation and baseline EHP benefits are still lower compared to (Night Fae) (especially on single targets) and initial AoE threat generation leaves something to be desired, but (Kyrian) damage potential has some advantage on multiple targets and the significantly higher [Dancing Rune Weapon] uptime can offset the lower baseline EHP to an ambiguous degree. And so, as long as you aren’t doing content where it is possible to die through [Dancing Rune Weapon] and threat is not an issue, I would generally recommend using (Kyrian).

(Kyrian) gains additional value on [Necrotic] weeks with [Phial of Serenity], so that can be a consideration if a three minute single-use reset can enable specific tactics.

If you are considering using (Kyrian) to enable a dungeon bonus, just be aware that your single target performance, EHP, and initial AoE threat generation will become significantly weaker. Your multiple target mitigation is also heavily dependent on rune regeneration, which is a cast-time intensive resource to turn into self-healing. These weaknesses can be especially problematic on Necrotic Wake, which puts a larger emphasis than usual on AoE threat generation as well as EHP. Spires of Ascension has more contained and longer duration pulls, so the weaknesses, while still not ideal, are more workable than they are on Necrotic Wake.

If you are considering using (Kyrian) to enable a dungeon bonus, just be aware that your single target performance, baseline EHP, and initial AoE threat generation will become weaker than (Night Fae), though you have the potential for reasonably higher [Dancing Rune Weapon] uptime. These weaknesses can be somewhat problematic on Necrotic Wake, which puts a larger emphasis than usual on short-term AoE threat generation as well as EHP. Spires of Ascension has more contained and longer duration pulls, so the weaknesses will be a lot less noticeable.

Option #2: (Night Fae) – Here’s a summary of overall benefits assuming Niya is used as a soulbind:

Combined, (Night Fae) benefits provide a potentially strong blend of Mitigation, EHP, and Damage at all target counts, but it also has additional gameplay considerations to reach its full potential. In particular, [Death’s Due] requires some amount of ramp time, it is unable to reliably maintain debuffs on more than 5 targets, there is some risk of losing stacks due to forced movement at the wrong times, and it adds some higher maintenance priorities to our rotation. So, real benefits can be situationally lower in real situations, especially those that rely on the damage reduction debuff in larger trash pulls (some portion of the mitigation and EHP benefits). That being said, the addition of the 9.2 tier set bonuses and the ability to use a second legendary lower these downsides significantly. Granted, the extra runes required to spend on [Death’s Due] mean that (Night Fae) will generally have lower [Dancing Rune Weapon] uptimes than other covenants. Even taking those factors into consideration, (Night Fae) provides an especially strong blend of mitigation, damage, and EHP. [Soulshape] also provides some nice movement utility that is unmatched by other covenants.

It also should be noted that (Night Fae) is very effective at mitigating AoE threat generation issues compared to other covenants.

Why is (Night Fae) one of the recommendations? Despite its potential complications, (Night Fae) provides overall benefits that are generally superior to most other covenants in most aspects; of particular note is its mitigation throughput advantage at all target counts, its baseline EHP advantage at all target counts, and it has consistently strong initial AoE threat generation that is not dependent on a long cooldown ability. As for its downsides, you will need to work a lot harder than (Kyrian) to maintain near-full [Dancing Rune Weapon] uptime against multiple targets, which will be very important to your overall survivability, which is somewhat exacerbated by the need to sometimes use [Death and Decay] even without a [Crimson Scourge] proc to maintain [Death’s Due] and its multiple target damage potential is somewhat lower than what (Kyrian) can achieve. At this time, (Night Fae) is only recommended if you are confident in being able to maintain good [Dancing Rune Weapon] uptimes with it and if you are either doing content that is capable of killing you through [Dancing Rune Weapon] as (Kyrian) or if AoE threat generation is an issue. Otherwise, (Kyrian) will likely be easier to execute.

If you are considering using (Night Fae) to enable a dungeon bonus, just be aware that your multiple target damage potential and [Dancing Rune Weapon] uptime will be somewhat lower compared to what is achievable with (Kyrian). These weaknesses aren’t particularly impactful in either De Other Side or the Mists of Tirna Scithe, but it’s something to keep in mind. Even if you are (Night Fae), you may want someone else to perform the dungeon bonus mechanic in De Other Side. The urns can be a liability to open if enemies aren’t properly controlled.

Option #3: (Necrolord) – Here’s a summary of overall benefits assuming Plague Devisor Marileth is used as a soulbind:

(Necrolord) provides the second best single target mitigation, though it’s significantly worse than what is provided by (Night Fae). However, its damage is relatively average on all target counts, its multiple target mitigation is significantly worse than what is provided by other covenants, and it does not have particularly strong EHP benefits. The only extra headache on the player’s end is trying to maximize the bone shield generation of [Abomination Limb], which can also be used to help extend [Dancing Rune Weapon] in some situations with the 9.2 tier set bonus. The grips associated with [Abomination Limb] can be especially useful for grouping up large numbers of ranged or caster enemies, while [Fleshcraft] provides for an additional defensive cooldown, even if it is a little clunky.

Why is (Necrolord) not generally recommended? At the end of the day, (Necrolord) is an average to below-average covenant option overall and that gap generally isn’t made up by [Abomination Limb] utility alone. As such, (Night Fae) and (Kyrian) will generally perform better in just about any situation.

If you are considering swapping (Necrolord) to enable a dungeon bonus, just be aware that you will be taking a well-rounded downgrade in performance that will likely be more noticeable with multiple target mitigation and EHP in particular. Theater of Pain is one of the more manageable dungeons even with a weaker personal setup, since a lot of the challenge is on non-tank survivability and meeting the dungeon timer, but Plaguefall has a few larger pulls that are especially dangerous to the tank due to their burst damage (even if the dungeon timer isn’t that challenging).

Option #4: (Venthyr) – Here’s a summary of overall benefits assuming Draven is used as a soulbind:

All in all, (Venthyr) provides a respectable blend of mitigation and EHP in multiple target situations, but its damage is lacking at all target counts and its mitigation throughput is poor on low target count pulls. There is a gameplay consideration with [Hold Your Ground] that provides additional benefits based on how much the player stands still, which is a respectable benefit even if the player only benefits from it some of the time. Most of the mitigation and damage associated with (Venthyr) comes from [Swarming Mist], which can be a double-edged sword at times. Unfortunately, [Swarming Mist] has a bit of anti-synergy with the 9.2 tier set bonuses, because of its rune cost. [Door of Shadows] provides a limited amount of mobility, but it isn’t a very flexible ability given the cast time.

Why is (Venthyr) not generally recommended? While stronger in earlier patches, (Venthyr) lost a lot of its competitiveness after factoring in its weaker second legendary power and the 9.2 tier set bonuses, as such (Night Fae) and (Kyrian) end up being stronger in practically all situations.

If you are considering swapping to (Venthyr) to enable a dungeon bonus, you won’t notice much of a decline in your multiple target survivability, but your damage will be weaker at all target counts and you won’t be as robust in low target count pulls. While Halls of Atonement doesn’t overly emphasize the weaknesses of (Venthyr), Sanguine Depths does have some more dangerous dungeon bosses and low target count pulls as well as a dungeon mechanic that can get the tank killed while activating it without proper control over enemies.

 

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Kyrasis

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