6) Understanding Death Strike / Masteryhttp://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. Misconceptions1. Misconceptions
2. Death Strike
3. Blood Shield
4. Heal/Shield Calculations
4a. Minimum heal5. How DS/mastery affect Blood’s rotation
4b. Over minimum heal
5a. RE Gaming
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:
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.