DK Tanking FAQ - 4.3 [NOT CURRENT]

85 Orc Death Knight
4300
PLEASE READ:
This thread is no longer current and no longer being updated. The only thing I am doing in Mists is playing pokeymans. I have requested that it be removed from being a sticky. Feel free to continue to use it for discussion in the meantime.

HI!

Thanks very much to the moderation team, who kindly extended the post cap on this thread! (Twice!)

This post assumes a basic understanding of how things work with the changes in Cataclysm. If you need an explanation of how the new Rune system works, what Runic Empowerment is, how Mastery works, or how Blood Shield works, this is not the place to find it.

The place to find those answers is by reading tooltips. Blizzard makes their in-game explanations of things relatively clear in most cases. Use Wowhead. It is your friend and has a lot of valuable information. Your best skill as a tank is being able to find and figure out information on your own.

What you will find in this thread are answers to questions that are not already answered by reading tooltips - the "How do I play" questions.

Posts in this FAQ:
1) How do I spec and glyph for tanking?
2) How do I gem, enchant and reforge?
3) What is my rotation?
4) Do I use Diseases?
5) CAN I DUEL[sic] WIELD?
6) Understanding Death Strike / Mastery (by Euliat)
Edited by Lichloathe on 9/24/2012 8:58 PM PDT
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85 Orc Death Knight
4300
1) How do I spec and glyph for tanking?

For only 5 mans:
http://www.wowhead.com/talent#jcGrbsMruszZbhc
Goal is to maximize aoe threat potential. Now that more people have good gear, there are more situations you can get away with minimal CC, and DPS aoe is going to be higher anyway. This is mostly moot, however, as with the 500% threat bonus threat has functionally become a non-issue that you should never have to worry about. I'd advise this spec only for someone who just recently hit 85 and could potentially be running with DPS that severely, severely outgears them. The Raid Progression spec is more than adequate otherwise.

Raid progression:
http://www.wowhead.com/talent#jcGr0sMruszG0ob

This spec has the highest survivability potential. When Lichborne is available, you can pool Runic Power and use it to heal yourself with Death Coil, which synergizes well when you pick the VB Glyph. With large stacks of Vengeance, Death Coil heals for massive amounts and you can machine gun up to 3 in a row. It does require some preparation and loss of Rune Strikes, however, after the initial pull Vengeance largely makes threat a non-issue as it is currently tuned. For more in depth analysis, it is best to refer to this post:
http://elitistjerks.com/f72/t105485-old_cataclysm_dk_endgame_tanking_4_x/p14/#post1806084

Talents you will want to avoid:

3/3 Scent of Blood - Has stacking issues, as the max stack is 3. Stacks are often lost when procs happen close together. This does, however, still increase RP generation marginally.

Abomination's Might - DPS classes can and will bring this and they do it better. The 2% Strength bonus that is not redundant is not worth the points you will spend on it.

Blood-Caked Blade - Has a value of less than 0.5% overall damage increase per talent point.

Crimson Scourge - Blood Boil's damage is extremely low, so the boost this talent gives is negligible at best, even if the damage is free. Skip it.


Glyphs
Note: If a Glyph is not listed, it is not worth considering.

Prime Glyphs

Rune Strike / Heart Strike / Death Strike - Single target threat bonuses.
Death and Decay - AoE threat bonus.
Death Coil - Arguably mandatory. The only Prime Glyph which can assist with survivability, via a Lichborne spec.


Major Glyphs

Rune Tap - Very valuable for assisting healers with saving mana.
Vampiric Blood - Synergizes well with Lichborne specs. The 15% health bonus you lose is not likely to be noticeable outside of progression hard modes.
Anti-Magic Shell - Meh, but better than nothing.
Dancing Rune Weapon - Worth mentioning only to point out that it is poorly designed and not often valuable. Most of the time, the only time this threat bonus would be useful is at the start of a pull, the time you are least likely to have 60 RP. There are some limited situations where it can be helpful, though.


Minor Glyphs

Blood Tap - The only one that isn't awful.
Death Gate - YEAAAAAAAAAH
Edited by Lichloathe on 12/6/2011 1:03 PM PST
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85 Orc Death Knight
4300
2) How do I gem, enchant and Reforge?

First of all, your Runeforge will be Swordshattering. The bonuses provided by SSG are no longer as beneficial or competitive as they were in Wrath.

While Reforging has added an extra level of complexity, this decision is actually even easier now because of it. Use the following guidelines for all of your enchanting, gemming and Reforging needs:

- If it is possible to choose more Mastery, do that.
- If it is possible to choose more Stamina but not more Mastery, do that.
- Depending on personal preference, get enough Hit to ensure Outbreak will never miss.
- Expertise can be ignored entirely.

If you have any remaining pieces of gear that have not yet been Reforged:
- Reforge Dodge or Parry as above into Mastery

If you are somehow above the Hit or Expertise cap:
- Reforge excess Hit or Expertise into Mastery

For your Meta, you want the Austere Shadowspirit Diamond.

Based on the most recent testing that I've done, Mastery is superior to Avoidance for damage prevention. While on a 1:1 rating basis they are roughly equivalent, Avoidance's value remains the same when Magic damage is added to a scenario, while Mastery's goes up. This is because Death Strike heals will include magic damage, even though Blood Shield will not mitigate it. The Blood Shields will therefore be larger.

Refer to this post for some additional data and discussion:
http://elitistjerks.com/f72/t110102-blood_dk_endgame_tanking_4_x/p5/#post1830811
Edited by Lichloathe on 12/6/2011 3:48 PM PST
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85 Orc Death Knight
4300
3) What is my rotation?

There is no rotation. We now have a priority/logic system.

Single Target
1) Outbreak on cooldown
2) Death Strike
3) Rune Strike
4) Rune Tap on cooldown (if 90% health or less)
5) Horn of Winter
6) Heart Strike/Blood Boil

Functionally, DS has the highest priority, as it is our survivability mechanic. Outbreak is only higher because you never want it to be sitting off cooldown, since Diseases apply the Standard Tank Debuffs (STDs) and this does it for free. However, you generally want to avoid back to back Death Strikes, to avoid clipping when a melee hit between them is reduced by the existing Blood Shield.

HS is rarely used, despite that it is the signature ability of Blood. It brings virtually no advantage to the table in a world where Vengeance makes threat autopilot in the majority of situations, and now that Blade Barrier is passive there's almost no reason to have both Blood Runes on cooldown juking your RE procs.

DRW is kind of a goofy cooldown. It is generally best to synchronize it with Outbreak or Bone Shield when you can, as the latter's average uptime will go up with increased avoidance, and DRW will dupe your diseases with the former.

Multi Target
1) Death and Decay
2) If Outbreak is up, use it. If not, it is generally safe to avoid Diseases in 5 mans, and in Raids another tank will provide the STDs.
3) Pestilence if you used Outbreak, otherwise ignore.
4) Death Strike
5) Rune Strike
6) Blood Boil / Heart Strike

If 4 or more targets, always choose Blood Boil over Heart Strike. Otherwise, it doesn't matter. If you are running the 5 man spec above, Death and Decay will take care of most of the threat you need anyway.

Gaming Runic Empowerment

At all times, you will want to hold on to one fully recharged Blood Rune so that RE will only pick a Frost or Unholy rune when it procs, giving you more DS.

Using Blood Tap Effectively

To avoid losing a DS when casting Bone Shield, BT should be used to create a Death Rune for this purpose. This will occupy half of your BTs during a fight, as Bone Shield has a 1m cooldown and BT has 30s. The remainder should be used to cover Disease uptime as appropriate. Consult the "Should I use Diseases" question for more information on this.
Edited by Lichloathe on 12/6/2011 10:02 AM PST
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85 Orc Death Knight
4300
4) Do I use Diseases?

Note: Due to Outbreak having a 30 second cooldown as of 4.3, this is largely no longer an issue, but as this information is still important to understand, I'm leaving it here anyway.

At first glance this probably seems like a stupid question. Diseases are a core mechanic! you might say, Of course I want to keep them up at all times. But the answer is actually not that cut and dry.

For what purpose does a Blood tank keep up Diseases? What benefit do they potentially provide? Let's have a look.
1) They do damage
2) They cause Heart Strike to do more damage
3) Frost Fever slows attack speed, Blood Plague reduces damage by 10%

Now, why might a Blood tank not want to keep up Diseases? There's really only one reason. When you're not applying them via Outbreak, it costs one Frost and one Unholy Rune - The cost of a Death Strike that you just lost. So the question is this - Does the extra Death Strike you get every minute outweigh those 3 reasons above? Absolutely.

1/2) They do damage and buff Heart Strike's damage
Barely. Diseases, especially as Blood, are pretty terrible at dealing damage. They're just not that potent. As for Heart Strike, if you are playing optimally, you are almost never using it to prevent RE proc interference from having both Blood runes on cooldown.

3) Frost Fever slows attack speed, Blood Plague reduces damage by 10%
Sure. So do other tank debuffs that cost less to apply. No other tank trades their "block" to apply the Standard Tank Debuffs (STDs), so it is always better for a non-Death Knight to do so. In addition, if any DPS Death Knight is in the raid, this covers Frost Fever, and there is no reason for you to ever cast it. Both Frost and Unholy keep 100% Disease uptime as part of their normal rotation, without sacrificing anything.

But the more important issue is that, when applying Diseases without Outbreak, we lose one Death Strike. Losing one DS every minute may not seem like a big deal, but it actually is. It directly affects our survivability (obviously), and we already take more damage than other tanks by design with the intention that we can heal some back (http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/2140511400?page=2#21).

Current theorycrafting shows that having 50% uptime of Scarlet Fever or losing one Death Strike per minute result in damage taken that is within 1% of each other. What this means is that whichever you choose to do has almost no noticeable effect on your overall damage taken. What's important, however, is how the damage reduction happens.

Given the above, consider that in a one minute period, 30 seconds of Scarlet Fever and one Death Strike reduce your incoming damage by roughly the same amount. What's important about this is that a Death Strike covers (generally) about 8 seconds worth of incoming damage. What this means is that even though they reduce the same amount of damage, because of the time span difference, dropping the Death Strike results in a higher burst of incoming DPS, which places more stress on your healers.

All of this does not count the healing lost from that Death Strike, as well. In summary, to play optimally to reduce your incoming damage, you want to abide by the following rules:

1) Outbreak on cooldown
2) If there is no one to apply the attack speed debuff to your target, use Blood Tap->Icy Touch to keep up Frost Fever in periods not covered by Outbreak and only apply Blood Plague with Outbreak
3) If someone (another tank or DPS DK) is applying the attack speed debuff to your target, use Blood Tap->Plague Strike to keep up Blood Plague during periods not covered by Outbreak
Edited by Lichloathe on 12/6/2011 10:04 AM PST
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85 Orc Death Knight
4300
5) CAN I DUEL[sic] WIELD?

Sure. Death Knights have the ability to use two one-handed weapons. Dual wielding as a tank, however, comes with the following stipulations:

- There is no situation in which dual wield will be equal to or better than using a two handed weapon.
- There is no support within our talent tree structure for dual wielding as Blood.
- There is little to no support within the WoW commuinty for dual wielding as a tank, at best. More often, you will be insulted and vote kicked.

Dual wielding, therefore, is a deliberate underpowering of your character for the sake of style. Do it if you want to hold your group back, because this is the only thing you will accomplish.
Edited by Lichloathe on 5/16/2011 8:53 PM PDT
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85 Orc Death Knight
4300
6) Understanding Death Strike / Mastery
http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/2416208246?page=1</a>[/i]

Throughout reading posts on these forums, it has become evident that there are still a large number of players who don’t understand at all how Death Strike (and by extension, Blood Shield) actually works. While I don’t fully know every little answer myself, I hope this thread will clear up any misconceptions as well as serving to explain to current and future Blood tanks how Death Strike affects their rotation and survivability, as, after all, it is an integral part of their mastery. Ultimately, the survivability of the player boils down to their ability to use DS well.

This post is limited to a PvE perspective, primarily in the context of Blood tanking at 85 and some of the recommendations may not be appropriate in heroic raids depending on your raid composition and skill.
Here is a list of titles so you can quickly access the information you would like to read:

    1. Misconceptions
    2. Death Strike
    3. Blood Shield
    4. Heal/Shield Calculations
      4a. Minimum heal
      4b. Over minimum heal
    5. How DS/mastery affect Blood’s rotation
      5a. RE Gaming
      5b. “Shot-gunning”

1. Misconceptions

Starting off, I’ll address a few of the misconceptions (shown as quoted text) I have heard about Death Strike and Blood Shield so far:

#1: Death Strike is based on the damage you do.
Not true. It’s based on the damage you TAKE.

#2: Blood Shield’s size is subject to Mortal Strike or any effects of that nature, since that reduces/increases (VB*) the healing from DS.
Also not true. The shield is calculated independently from the heal size that you actually receive. +% heal effects and -% heal effects have zero impact whatsoever on the shield size (except Improved Death Strike).

#3: Overhealing with Death Strike reduces Blood Shield’s size.
Not true. Overhealing has zero impact on shield size. Whether you get 100% overheal or 0% overheal, you will not see a different shield size.

#4: Blood Shield absorbs magical damage.
Nope. Just physical. Blood Shield's value is increased by magical damage, but it doesn't actually absorb magical damage.

#5: Using Death Strike more often than someone else leads to better mitigation.
Maybe? It really depends. If you’re getting more Death Strikes off, but not timing a single one of them, you may not necessarily be better off. You’ll also be suffering from your previous Blood Shield reducing damage in your damage window if you’re doing them really quickly, too. The flip side to this, though, is that if you focus too hard on timing them, you'll lose out on more Death Strikes. There's a balance somewhere. If you’re losing more than 2 per minute, then you’re probably netting a loss, but that’s still a little difficult to determine.

#6: Mastery stops at 100% (16 mastery).
It doesn’t. You can have more than 100%.

#7: More stamina means larger Death Strike heals.
This one is partially true, but only if your heal is at the minimum value. If it isn’t, see #1. In current-tier raids, minimum shields are rare.

*Unglyphed VB can increase the Blood Shield size only at the minimum value because it increases your max HP. Over this, or glyphed, it has no effect on shield size.

2. Death Strike

Firstly, here is the base tooltip for Death Strike:

Death Strike
1 Unholy, 1 Frost
Unleash a powerful strike that heals you for 20% of the damage you have sustained during the preceding 5 sec (minimum of at least 7% of your maximum health), while also dealing <yyy>% weapon damage plus <zzz> to an enemy if the attack is successful.

The heal occurs regardless of whether DS does damage or not. For Blood tanks, this attack will be your primary strike, as it hits quite hard, heals you, and triggers your mastery. Even though this attack will give you 2 death runes, you should use those runes on another Death Strike instead of 2 Heart Strikes. You’re a tank—your first priority is living, not doing damage. Using 2 Heart Strikes instead costs a significant amount of mitigation. Referring back to the tooltip, there is an extremely key part that will be important if you want to maximize your survivability:

heals you for 20% of the damage you have sustained during the preceding 5 sec
What this means is that timing is key. Don’t just blindly hit DS as soon as your F/U/D runes come up. You need to learn to wait to time it with incoming damage, or high spikes in damage (dragon breaths, massive AoEs, etc.). The Cataclysm rune system allows you to wait for a little bit without a penalty. You can only regenerate 1 of each rune at a time, so as long as you don’t wait until your next set of runes finishes cooling, it’s okay.
Edited by Lichloathe on 5/8/2012 2:31 PM PDT
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85 Orc Death Knight
4300
Another factor with timing is your current HP. If you’re at full HP, then your Death Strike isn’t going to do any effective healing at all. Although that doesn't affect mastery, it is affecting your overall mitigation. So, on top of timing with damage, you need to keep an eye out on your HP to minimize overhealing as best as you can (but don’t stress on it, because some overheal is intended). Regardless of the overheal, once again, your shield size is not determined by overheal, so it will scale properly to accommodate. Keep in mind that if you can’t live until your next DS, all of your effort timing DS or minimizing overheal is wasted. This is one of the downsides to extreme timing. Do whatever it takes to survive first.

I recommend downloading the addon “Blood Shield Tracker” to help you monitor an estimated heal size. While it is not 100% accurate due to latency, it will help you keep track of the damage you've taken by showing you the estimated heal, instead of having to guess or mentally keep track of that.

To expand on the timing portion, a typical slowed boss swing timer is 1.8 seconds. That means in your 5 second window, you could potentially get up to 3 attacks (0.0s, 1.8s, 3.6s) going toward your Death Strike’s heal. It also means that there is a 1.4 second “gap” that you can use to your advantage by getting 3 swings into the damage window instead of 2, which means a larger heal. Try your best to time your Death Strike with damage sources, such as the boss’s swing timer (which you just have to “guess”). However, you need to be somewhat aware of avoidance’s effect on your heal size. Although avoiding an attack usually always leads to less damage taken overall, it’s going to affect your shield size because it has effectively eliminated a swing out of the window. This might lead to “spikiness.” You don’t need to be overly concerned about this, but just be aware that, in some cases, it might be better to hold off a DS for a little bit if you’ve just avoided 2 attacks in a row. Blood Shield Tracker can help you out with this by reflecting your estimated heal size. If you already have a decently sized Blood Shield up, but you are avoiding a good deal, it’s probably better to get a lower Death Strike just to maintain the current shield so it doesn’t get lost. Again, there’s a balance between stalling and using DS. If you wait too long to use DS because you’re tracking avoided hits, you could be lowering your total DS use so much that you’re netting a loss. Don’t overly focus on extreme timing for every DS, but it can be a nice gain every now and then.

Again, your first priority is living, and that may mean not getting such a large heal from DS. It's not just about maximizing the size.

3. Blood Shield

Similarly, here is the tooltip:

Blood Shield
Each time you heal yourself via Death Strike, you gain 50% of the amount healed as a damage absorption shield. Each point of Mastery increases the shield by an additional 6.25%.
Although the wording is vague, Blood Shield does not absorb magical damage. However, Blood Shield’s size can be increased by magical damage, because the healing done by Death Strike doesn’t distinguish between physical and magical damage. Since Death Strike’s heal is the base of this shield, the power of your mastery lies completely in your use of Death Strike. This is why understanding and effectively using Death Strike is so important, because it’s intended to be your version of a block. Consequently, there’s not really much else to say about mastery like there is about Death Strike, except for two more parts.

One benefit to mastery is that it doesn’t suffer diminishing returns*, so every point of mastery is going to increase your shield size by 6.25%, even past 100%, which makes mastery a very appealing stat. Stacking shields can also be used to your benefit, but on typical raid bosses, it makes a small difference, but it is a gain nonetheless. Aiming to stack your shields by using Death Strike back to back is usually a loss (outside of a few mechanics), because your second Death Strike will probably overheal a good deal, which will negate the larger shield size. Not to mention, you’ll probably take a swing before you Death Strike again, which will get fully absorbed, which means it doesn’t count toward your next Death Strike’s heal. Unless you’re going to take a ton of damage in a short interval, it’s usually better to stagger Death Strikes. This will help smooth out your damage intake, while also avoiding your previous shields clipping into your next Death Strike’s damage window, by reducing the damage in the window.

*Technically avoidance and previous shields can both diminish the effect of mastery by reducing subsequent shields. So in that sense, mastery does suffer diminishing returns.
Edited by Lichloathe on 5/8/2012 2:32 PM PDT
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85 Orc Death Knight
4300
4. Heal/Shield Calculations

As can be seen from the tooltip, Death Strike’s healing breaks down into one of two categories, minimum or not, which can cause some confusion for players. The method of calculation is the same, but the result differs. Since this is referring primarily to Blood tanks, these calculations include Improved Death Strike, because if you don’t have it as a tank, go respec. Improved Death Strike doesn’t increase the size of the minimum heal, but it reduces the amount of healing needed to cross the minimum heal from 35% of your max HP to 24.1% of your max HP, so, it technically does work, despite what you may believe.

Here is how your base heal size is calculated:

    1. First, the server calculates the damage you have taken in the previous 5 seconds.
    2. Next, the server takes 29% of this value. (20%*145%=29%).
    3. This calculated value is compared to 7% of your HP.
      a. If 7% of your HP is greater than the calculated value, the server will set your heal to be 7% of your maximum HP.
      b. If 7% of your HP is less than the calculated value, the server will set your heal to be the calculated value.
    4. Heal value is set and used for Blood Shield. Blood shield is applied.
    5. Any healing addition/reduction is applied to the heal value.
    6. You are healed for that amount.

For numerical examples, let’s take a Death Knight who has 160k HP buffed with 130% mastery (20.8 mastery--decimals do count even if stats pane % doesn't change).

The following are simplifications of the calculations, which become more complicated when you add in previous shields / RNG and start to include the next DS mitigation set. This is purely for illustration, though.

4a. Minimum heal

Suppose a mob swings at you for 10k. Referring previously, you’re going to get probably 3-ish swings into your damage window. Given typical levels of avoidance, though, you’re probably going to avoid 1 of them. Let’s see what happens with avoiding 1 and taking the other 2 and going through the steps.

    1. 10,000+0+10,000 = 20,000
    2. 0.29 * 30,000 = 5,800
    3. 0.07 * 160,000 = 11,200
      a. 11,200 > 5,800
    4. Heal value is 11,200. Blood Shield is applied and its size is 11,200 * 1.30 = 14,560.
    5. No buffs/debuffs, so no modifiers to the heal.
    6. You are healed for 11,200.

There is only one way to increase the base heal size: stamina.

There are two ways to increase this shield size: stamina and mastery. Going the stamina route, you are subjecting half of your bonus (the healing portion) to overheal for a slight gain if you don’t overheal more than ~20%. Given that if you’re getting the minimum heal already, you’re probably not taking a lot of damage, which means you’ll overheal more. Going the mastery route, you don’t see this penalty.

4b. Over minimum heal

Suppose a mob swings at you for 30k instead. Once again, 3 swings, 1 avoided.

    1. 0+30,000+30,000 = 60,000
    2. 0.29 * 60,000 = 17,400
    3. 0.07 * 160,000 = 11,200
      a. 11,200 < 17,400
    4. Heal value is 17,400. Blood Shield is applied and its size is 17,400 * 1.30 = 22,620.
    5. No buffs/debuffs, so no modifiers to the heal.
    6. You are healed for 17,400.

There’s nothing you can do to increase this heal size before modifiers (except take more damage).

The only way to increase this shield size is mastery.

5. How DS/mastery affect Blood’s rotation

Well, first off, you don’t have one to begin with. You have a priority system, which looks something like this, assuming threat is already established:

    1) Outbreak on cooldown (IT/PS if it misses and can safely reapply)
    2) Death Strike
    3) Rune Strike (if FF and/or UU runes are both cooling)
    4) Rune Tap on cooldown if less than 90% HP
    5) Heart Strike
    6) Horn of Winter?

Now let’s see where that priority system came from. Outbreak on cooldown should be obvious: diseases for tank debuffs at no expense to you. Next is Death Strike, for healing and mastery, both of which will help you survive better, as well as dealing a fair deal of damage and threat. In 4.3, there is zero reason to not have your diseases up. However, if Outbreak misses, and if nobody else can apply the debuffs, you must apply them yourself with IT/PS, but be intelligent. If you know you’re about to get slammed and Outbreak misses, don’t put them up until the damage ramps down. Diseases falling off probably won’t kill you, but applying diseases when you need to DS most certainly will. Rune Tap should also be fairly clear, too. The rest of the priority falls into separate section because of just how involved it is:
Edited by Lichloathe on 5/8/2012 2:33 PM PDT
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85 Orc Death Knight
4300
5a. RE gaming

Next is typically the confusing part, and it’s referred to as “RE gaming.”

Although it says Rune Strike is next, what’s in parentheses is rather important because of the way Runic Empowerment works. Runic Empowerment gives you a 45% chance to refresh a FULLY depleted rune when you use Rune Strike. For this reason, you don’t want to use it unless both frost and/or unholy runes are on cooldown, because then if it procs, it is guaranteed to restore either an unholy or a frost rune, either of which leads to more Death Strikes. If you only have 1 rune cooling down, then Runic Empowerment won’t proc anything. If you have both blood runes cooling, then there’s a chance it could proc one of those instead of a frost or unholy rune (which means less Death Strikes), which is why you want to minimize this window as much as you can. Blade Barrier may be gone, but you still want to keep 1 blood rune cooling down just for the extra RP/damage. HS is only used outside BT. Finally, there is Horn of Winter, because at that point, you don’t really have much else to use.

For a picture diagram of runes and Runic Empowerment for people that want one:

BB / FF / UU, where x denotes a cooling rune:
xx / Fx / Ux – RE will proc a blood rune.
Bx / xx / Ux – RE will proc a frost rune.
Bx / xx / xx – RE will proc either a frost or an unholy rune.
xx / Fx / xx – RE will proc either a blood or an unholy rune.
Bx / Fx / Ux – RE will proc nothing. BOTH runes of the SAME type must be cooling to proc.

By controlling your runes, you can “force” Runic Empowerment to give you what you want. This is the whole point of RE gaming.

To further complicate this, you have Blood Tap on a talented 30 second cooldown. When using Blood Tap, you always want the blood(death) rune constantly cooling down, and leave the pure blood rune off CD until Blood Tap is over. This results in more Death Strikes because you can utilize that blood(death) rune more often (aka as soon as it’s ready).

There's also a trick you can do to make Blood Tap restore both a blood and an unholy rune as death runes at the same time. To get this result, your runes need to meet both of these conditions: 1) at least 1 blood rune off cooldown and 2) at least 1 F/U pair (1 frost and 1 unholy) that were put on cooldown at the same time (as in, what happens after every time you DS--they both are used at once). How long those two runes have been recharging doesn't matter. You can use Blood Tap to your advantage this way for more Death Strikes or to stop Bone Shield from messing with your rotation. It sounds complicated, but it's really quite simple. If none of that made any sense to you at all, this will work 90% of the time: use Blood Tap when you have at least 1 blood rune off CD.

Literally everything you do in your rotation is designed to maximize your Death Strike throughput.

How can you measure your performance with this in raids? If your guild uses World of Logs, check out how many Death Strikes per minute you are using, as that will be a good gauge. Without any RE gaming at all, you should be at 7-7.5 Death Strikes per minute. Anything less and you’ve got some problems to work out. With decent RE gaming, you should be doing 8.5-10. More is possible, but remember, though, timing your Death Strikes can be important, so the sheer number isn’t always the best measure. When you use those DS's is extremely important.
Edited by Lichloathe on 5/8/2012 2:33 PM PDT
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85 Orc Death Knight
4300
5b. “Shot-gunning”

Despite all of the above about timing, there is another playstyle for using DS that is equally competitive, and that has been termed “shot-gunning.” The entire goal of this playstyle is quantity over quality so much so to the point where you’re overpowering any gain from heavy timing, and it's quite effective in fast, high-damage scenarios.

This playstyle is very simple, so I won’t dedicate a lot of text to it. Maximizing DS use through proper RE gaming and Blood Tap uptime is paramount to the success of this. If you are not using more than 9.5 DS/min, you need to improve your rune manipulation to use this effectively. These DS’s can be loosely sync-ed with swing timers / events for a slightly better gain, but in general, you don’t wait more than 2s. That’s all there is to it. No watching avoidance, no watching timers, etc. It’s much simpler, but you still need to know all of the previous information for knowing which situations call for which styles.

Instead, I’ll focus on the benefits and drawbacks to this style compared to timing. “Shot-gunning” is typically easier to execute well, as it doesn’t involve keeping track of as many events, and it also shortens the time between DS’s, which helps address spikiness. A few drawbacks are that the rotation is very fast and rigid, which requires focus on runes, and each DS is less “significant.” The DS's can frequently suffer from "clipping," where your DS weakens your next DS. These DS’s might also not be timed with high-damage events, which might make it slightly harder to rebound out of a bad situation. However, "shot-gunning" is much better at preventing these spikes from occurring in the first place.

Now the big question: which method is better? Only your healers can tell you that. What works for one player does not always work best for another player. What works in one fight may not even be best in the next fight. Or, maybe it's a combination both--for part of the fight you use one style, and for the other (due to mechanics), you use another.

So, hopefully all of that information helps you improve your performance, or at least better understand what it is that you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Understanding the ins-and-outs of DS is crucial to being not just a successful DK tank, but an excellent DK tank. Your first priority is to live, so do keep that in mind, but look for opportunities to boost the effectiveness of the heal (either in size or minimizing overheal), be aware of penalties to your shield, and make those runes do what you want them to do. After all, it is a game—you should be in control. With that knowledge, you’ll know when you need to supplement yourself with extra cooldowns, and you’ll also be significantly easier to heal.
Edited by Lichloathe on 5/8/2012 2:34 PM PDT
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85 Goblin Death Knight
11755
One thing you might want to change is the glyph section for majors. Dancing rune weapon is amazing...It's been my experience that it's the single most useful glyph I have. Not a major deal on fights where dps have other things to be doing but on fights like BQL and saurfang where they are immediately unloading on the same target you are, this glyph gives you a pretty major boost to threat.
If you notice the way it's worded
"Increases your threat generation by 50% while your dancing Rune Weapon is active."
This means any threat you generate is increased not just direct weapons damage from the weapon itself. Death and decay and diseases are as well. Also in your post above you mentioned that you haven't tested it to be worth the cost of 3 rune strikes. In less than a month rune strike will cost 30 RP and do a bit less damage making this glyph even better.
Just my opinon ATM but i've noticed a lot of top end DK tanks feel the same way.

Otherwise a good starting point for new DK tanks and even some seasoned ones who may be confused with changes :)
Edited by Grukthar on 11/5/2010 12:54 AM PDT
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90 Undead Mage
10500
+rep

Er, I mean "like".
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85 Orc Death Knight
4300
The problem with the DRW Glyph is that DRW costs 60 rasmfrackin Runic Power to cast. You're losing two Rune Strikes and two chances to proc Runic Empowerment by having to pool enough RP to cast it. To me, that cost is stupidly prohibitive considering how much you literally will be sitting on your hands doing nothing so you can build up enough to cast it and I question whether I even want to take it as a talent.

Hopefully they will realize how ridiculous a 60 RP cooldown is and lower it. I don't like the idea of Glyphing something I'm rarely going to use in the meantime, though.
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80 Human Death Knight
3995
This is a pretty good start on the Guide Thread, I have to agree with Grukthar though, Dance Rune Weapon is amazing because of how much additional threat it provides when you activate it. (Given the Glyph)

:] But I'm glad someone posted something so soon!
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85 Orc Death Knight
4300
This is a pretty good start on the Guide Thread, I have to agree with Grukthar though, Dance Rune Weapon is amazing because of how much additional threat it provides when you activate it. (Given the Glyph)

:] But I'm glad someone posted something so soon!
I also have to question, honestly, whether we even need that extra threat. DRW is seriously frustrating ability because, like I said, 60 RP is a really excessive cost just for a temporary 20% Parry and (potentially) 50% threat. IBF is free and gives us more damage reduction.
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85 Goblin Death Knight
11755
Yeah but as a tank it's our job to do 2 things

1) Survive (extra 20% parry helps us do that)
2) Out threat DPS (glyph aids us in this)
2.5) move boss out of fire/poison/otherbadthings

I'm not sure what kind of dps you have in your raids/parties but it's been my experience that in BQL especially when you have 2-3 mages popping AP or trinkets and rogues popping every CD they have and every other DPS doing the same damn thing. There is literally no way to keep up unless you can get DRW off. I tell all my dps to give me enough time to cast about 5 spell and they can do whatever they want after that.

My threat per second with DRW is outrageous. If you have 2 or 3 points in scent of blood RP is generated pretty damn quickly once you get into the swing of a fight the threat generated from 2 Runestrikes is decent but the threat generate from 12s of 50% increased TPS is far greater
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85 Draenei Death Knight
12875
This is a pretty good start on the Guide Thread, I have to agree with Grukthar though, Dance Rune Weapon is amazing because of how much additional threat it provides when you activate it. (Given the Glyph)

:] But I'm glad someone posted something so soon!
I also have to question, honestly, whether we even need that extra threat. DRW is seriously frustrating ability because, like I said, 60 RP is a really excessive cost just for a temporary 20% Parry and (potentially) 50% threat. IBF is free and gives us more damage reduction.

While IBF is free, you shouldn't be activating it on cd, whereas you should activate DRW on cd until your threat lead is considerably higher than the dps. IBF should be reserved for spaces of time where damage is high or it is needed to survive something.
Also it isn't potentially 50% more threat, it IS 50% more threat, because unless you are not watching your timers and activate it as an air phase/invulnerable phase/tank switch, you should be hitting the boss.
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85 Orc Death Knight
4300
Any discussion on current threat in Wrath is pretty much irrelevant because we still have the old, unreliable Rune Strike. Unlinking it from avoidance solves just about every threat problem that we have. Having it on-demand, I seriously doubt the threat bonus from DRW is necessary. Any threat problems you have right now disappear completely when the new RS and new Imp BP go live. Keep in mind as well that RE procs from RS give us more Death Strikes, which also increases our survivability, and you don't need the DRW Glyph to get the 20% Parry.

Also, if they fix the bug that keeps outside healing bonuses to Death Strike from affecting the size of our Blood Shield, VB Glyph just about murders DRW as it gives two well timed Death Strikes a 40% increased heal and 40% larger Blood Shield afterward. Considering that BB and RT are basically mandatory, the only real choice is between DRW and VB, and by the time you have 60 RP to use it, you aren't going to need that extra threat anymore.
Edited by Lichloathe on 11/5/2010 1:41 AM PDT
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85 Orc Death Knight
4300
Also it isn't potentially 50% more threat, it IS 50% more threat, because unless you are not watching your timers and activate it as an air phase/invulnerable phase/tank switch, you should be hitting the boss.
It's potentially more because you only get the 50% bonus if you Glyph it.
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