DK Tanking Guide (5.1)

90 Tauren Death Knight
8920
I was actually intending to update the section referring to SoB stacks and Death strike, but ill lay it out here as well. (and probably copy/paste part of it into the guide because im lazy like that).

(this assumes significant content, so not all of this rings 100% true for 35% nerfed content)

First lets lets look at what death knight tanking "is".
If block tanks are stable and consistent (slightly more armor, more raw dmg reduction less, full hits), than what are we? We are the "self heal" tank, which makes us very mana efficient. we generally take far less external heals than other tanks, at the cost of taking slightly more damage compared to a warrior or paladin tank.

"how does mana efficiency affect SoB and death strike? Isn't less damage the goal regardless?"
-you

Well of course lower damage taken is good, but let's look at why we want lower damage taken in the first place.
1) lower damage taken means less mana required from the healers to keep you up.
2) lower damage means you have a better chance at surviving.

Now given that we are very mana efficient, we have some wiggle room with #1. A little more damage taken over the course of a fight will not hurt our healers much since they will still require far less mana to keep us up vs other tanks. The tricky part comes when we look at #2.

The reason it becomes complicated is that due to our reactive healing style of tanking, we have to take damage before we can prevent more, as well as the fact that we will naturally take more damage due to less armor and raw dmg reduction (10% vs 15% for pallys and 25% for warriors for example). This means that while our dmg taken will be only slightly more than other tanks, the shape of the damage will be very different and much burstier, with periods of both very light damage followed by very large damage. You may have heard the common complaint from healers that DKs are "spiky", and this is where that comes from.

"again, how does this affect SoB and overall dmg reduction?"
-you

Be patient! Because of this spiky nature, we have to really step back and think "how do I go about being the 'best' DK tank? Should I focus on raw dmg taken and increase my already good mana efficiency? Or should I focus on those bursts that plague healers? which one is more threatening to me as a tank?"

For most content you will find that how you handle those bursts is what will make you a mediocre or fantastic tank. Tank healing is already pretty mana efficient compared to raid healing, so focusing on increasing our already fantastic self heals is generally not going to do as much for you compared to focusing on minimizing the threat from the bursts. That's to say you should ignore overall damage taken, but it shouldn't be your #1 concern.

"look, I didn't want a lecture on tank ideology I just want to know how this applies to SoB stacks"
-you

Given that we came to the conclusion that generally (heavy emphasis on generally) focusing on minimizing the burst damage vs the overall damage taken is going to result in better tanking and happier healers, this means that death strike should be used in a way that will not just result in the most healing/dmg reduction, but that will help reduce the threat from burst damage. Let's look at a real world situation...
Edited by Reniat on 9/11/2012 11:07 AM PDT
90 Tauren Death Knight
8920
you are at 70% health with no defensive cooldowns up when a boss hits you with a full hit (a hit that's not absorbed/dodged/parried) and brings you down to just 20% health. You have quite a bit of damage taken and you haven't taken much other damage in the preceding 5 seconds, so for max healing/dmg reduction it would be optimal to wait for about 4 seconds and gather more dmg and SoB stacks so that when you DS it will be huge.

But now let's put it in perspective of the healer, who has to save your sorry butt...
The tank just bursted from 70% to 20% and you as the healer are freaking out trying to get him up, since for all you know the next hit could kill him. he continues to take severe damage for the next ~4 seconds and doing no self heals then all of a sudden he heals himself after a burst and doesn't take any damage at all for a few seconds. after this glorious period of relief he takes another burst and it's back to crazy mode again.

From the tank's point of view, he has mitigated the max amount of damage. He is optimizing his death strike to return the most absorption. but from the healers perspective he is going from no damage to crazy damage at almost random intervals. After a while a good healer would learn to expect the pattern of heavy damage light damage, but it's still crazy bursty when it's heavy.

now lets look at the same example but with a different DS usage...
you are at 70% health with no defensive cooldowns up when a boss hits you with a full hit (a hit that's not absorbed/dodged/parried) and brings you down to just 20% health. You have quite a bit of damage taken and you haven't taken much other damage in the preceding 5 seconds and don't have many stacks of SoB, but you hit death strike anyway to bring yourself back from the brink of death and back into a safer health range, though you will not have as much of a shield as before.

The healer sees the burst to 20% but also the instant jump of health following it from death strike, and while the tank will start to take damage again sooner from having less of a shield the burst was less significant and the tank feels more stable.

These were two extremes (waiting for all dmg in 5 seconds and waiting for none), and the "correct" usage will usually be between the two, depending on how much damage you are taking and how bursty it is. for example if you had only gone from 100% to 70%, then it would probably be safe to allow for more damage and SoB stacks in that window, but when you actually push the button for DS should be determined by the damage you are taking, not the stacks you have.
Edited by Reniat on 9/11/2012 11:15 AM PDT
90 Draenei Death Knight
15395
Just some feedback. If you want that in your guide. It's likely better to have a simple overview and link to the longer one for those that wish read it. Odds are many would probably be overwhelmed by the wall and just read the first and last paragraphs lol.
90 Tauren Death Knight
8920
Oh i'm not going to try and fit that into the guide lol. I physically couldn't. I don't have enough reserved spaces. I'll condense it down to the main points when i get some time.
90 Draenei Death Knight
15395
09/11/2012 02:10 PMPosted by Reniat
Oh i'm not going to try and fit that into the guide lol. I physically couldn't. I don't have enough reserved spaces. I'll condense it down to the main points when i get some time.


Could always start another thread with a lot more reserves and we can try to get another one stickied to j/k
90 Tauren Death Knight
8920
There are places where I think I can cut down if i can't get this info into the current guide, since this info is probably more important for progression DKs than a lot of the rest of the guide. how you use death strike and how you approach tanking from an ideological standpoint matters so much more than what professions you are using. Though both are valueble, I'd be baddy if i didn't find a way to put this in there. Maybe it could replace/enhance the EH section? since they kind of stem from the same ideas. I'll have more time to sit down and write it out tonight after raid.
Edited by Reniat on 9/11/2012 2:26 PM PDT
90 Draenei Death Knight
15395
It's not easy to explain early and generally players seem to want more specifics for particular scenarios and or preference. Since active mitigation isn't truly an exact science. Plus how do you truly portray how timing is also the key? Definitely a puzzle that has to be wordy. I just fear most aren't big on reading through it. It can be hard, how many paragraphs just to more clearly explain runes?
Edited by Tor on 9/11/2012 3:35 PM PDT
90 Draenei Death Knight
11090
Not worth it to "game" SoB, even when hit/expertise capped.

You have to take into account your swing timer (and if it will land), the boss's next swing (and if it will land), your current HP/shield (to measure how "badly" you need that DS), and if stalling for that extra swing will pull more damage out of your DS window than waiting (by removing previous damage).

Let's just put it this way: I wrote the sim from which the stat priority and rotation came, and even I'm not going to bother tracking all of that.
90 Undead Death Knight
11155
We are sticky! woot
90 Draenei Death Knight
15395
09/11/2012 04:58 PMPosted by Scarredsoul
We are sticky! woot


?
90 Tauren Death Knight
8920
We are highly rated, but we are not sticky yet :)

Also, updated the guide with an "advanced playstyle" section where I get to do the fun hardmode theory stuff where lines become blurred and abstract :)

And i've already corrected myself 3 times since submitting it. I need an editor XD
that or they just need to better incorporate grammar syntax into spell check software.
notice how neither of those options involve me actually working to fix my grammar before I submit :)
Edited by Reniat on 9/11/2012 5:31 PM PDT
90 Orc Death Knight
10125
Excellent guide. Looking forward to the advanced section.

Edit: Would it be too much to expect an encounter section for MoP?
Edited by Aniana on 9/11/2012 5:47 PM PDT
90 Tauren Death Knight
8920
09/11/2012 05:41 PMPosted by Aniana
Would it be too much to expect an encounter section for MoP?

I'll replace the dragon soul guides with updated guides for new tiers as they come, though I haven't figured out a timeline for how soon i'll be updating it each tier. It will not likely be before I have a chance to progress a bit myself, but my guild's goal is to be 100 US 25m so we should be progressing pretty fast.

You can probably expect at least the normal boss guides up within the first week or two, but i've got no time table on the heroic versions. There is already a lot of good info out there, so I don't really wanna put out info that's already been said without having a chance to put it into my own words after having done the content.

This first tier is gonna be a quick experiment as far as the boss section goes.
Edited by Reniat on 9/11/2012 6:37 PM PDT
90 Orc Death Knight
10125
09/11/2012 06:36 PMPosted by Reniat
You can probably expect at least the normal boss guides up within the first week or two, but i've got no time table on the heroic versions.


That's perfectly good. I don't really expect other early progression guilds to put up much info on early Heroic bosses so as to keep their advantage anyway.

Upvoted and sticky requested!

Question: Does the new Vengeance model take into account absorbed damage from Death Strike? Healer absorb would be logically out of the question.
90 Draenei Death Knight
15395
I could be wrong but so far I've only seen Vengeance function from damage taken. Having maybe 2k total AP granted from many packs while soloing.
90 Tauren Death Knight
8920
Vengeance should not be affected by normal tanking mitigation, both active and passive. The dmg reduction from diseases, the active mitigation via Death Strike (or whatever that AM is for any given tank) and avoided damage is all irrelevent to how much vengeance you get. The idea is that you shouldn't be penalized dps wise for getting more tank stats and being a better tank.
09/11/2012 08:07 AMPosted by Hajï
I'm very confused as to what you mean by "Charges" do you mean the Scent of Blood Charges? Or that you can use it twice then it takes 6 to 8 seconds to use it again?


To Haji: Before this patch I was using deathstrike way more than once every 8 seconds. As to the exact number, I am not certain. But, Ive noticed for deathstrike in this patch once I have used two deathstrikes in a row the skill greys out and a timer appears on the skill. Also in the text box for the skill the words x second cooldown shows up with a timer in the text box. Even when I have the runes to use another deathstrike I cant until the timer has ran through.

Note: Since nobody else has commented about deathstike behaving this way, I may actually have stumbled upon a bug.
90 Tauren Death Knight
8920
09/11/2012 10:28 PMPosted by Hotspot
Note: Since nobody else has commented about deathstike behaving this way, I may actually have stumbled upon a bug.

You may have. Can you grab a screenshot of having the runes available and still being unable to use death strike?
I went and further tested what I was seeing with Death strike. The cooldown I was seeing in the skill text actually corresponds to when the required runes for deathstrike will become available. The visual timer on the skill also corresponds to when the required runes for deathstrike will be available.

I did not do an extremely long test because I dont have the time right now. But, in the 2 to 3 minutes I was testing on the dummy; I did not run into having available runes but not being able to utilize death strike.

Also, this new text and visual timer has been added to all of the rune strikes. Possibly even the other rune skills though I did not examine them. However this new flashy system may only be available if the dk is using Runic Corruption. I haven't actually tested the other resource systems.
90 Tauren Death Knight
8920
Are you using any addons that deal with action bars?
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