Blood tank spec in 3.3

Blood remains the best single-target raid tank spec.

April 8th, 2010: I have just posted a grid showing the specs against dimensions of threat, survival and utility. You may find it an easier way to choose a spec or understand them.

Patch 3.3.3 buffed WotN, and also Dancing Rune Weapon now gives threat, so consider dropping 1 from Necrosis and move it to DRW. This is a raid-tanking damage talent, not so useful for 5-mans.

Raid spec

Main raid spec: Blood 54-8-10

  • The template above is a strong raid-MT oriented build, with a few points you can move around
  • Has the most user-choice, with many raid buffs and different ways to spec.
    • This in fact makes blood fun in a way; you can personalise it quite a lot more than the other trees. You can spec into raid buffs, or single-target threat, or survivability.
    • I have a diagram showing where you could move talents to
  • Blood AOE in this spec is good. This spec is for maintanking in 25-mans and this version includes many raid buffs with 3/3 morbidity.
  • Powerful tanking cooldowns (Vampiric Blood and Will of the Necropolis).
  • Optionally spec for a bonus cooldown of Mark of Blood; acts like a mini shield block.
  • Includes 2/2 Abominations Might, but optionally 1 of 2 Abomination’s Might will give you about 75%+ uptime on a single-target fight due to probability

There are so many possible and valid variations on a Blood maintank spec, I thought it’d be useful for me to outline a few additional specs. Choosing a blood spec can give you an anxiety disorder.

April 2010: I put a grid together across survival and threat, putting specs into it for context, see Gravity’s Grid.

Here are some alternative specs:

  • Survival-oriented: loses raid-utility of Abomination’s Might (10% AP buff) and Hysteria, to gain Spell Deflection and Mark of Blood. Works if you have enhancement shaman reliably in the raid. Will require more careful RP-management since there is no Scent of Blood, so that you always have RP for IBF and RS.
  • Threat-oriented: no raid utility, also loses Rune Tap (self-healing) to gain Sudden Doom and Subversion. Requires someone else in the 25-man raid is buffing 10% Attack Power. Can swap will of the necropolis for rune tap if you prefer a more proactive tanking style, like this, which also lets you get Necrosis (for slightly more tps than Subversion)
  • Heroic 5-man bias: good spec to choose if you’re 2nd spec is for dps. No will of the necropolis, but has Abom Might and Corpse Explosion for 5-mans along with glyph of DnD so your AOE works.
    • Single target tweaks: if desired, you can swap Rune Tap for Sudden Doom to gain single-target threat, or glyph of DnD for glyph of Death Strike
    • Raid tanking tweaks: you could drop Abominations Might if someone else brings it.
    • 1/3 Scent of Blood to give that bit more RP for corpse explosion, RS and DCs.

I also have a diagram showing where talents can be moved, and which to avoid.

Want to know how much threat each talent gives you? I’ve analysed that too.

Curious on the threat difference between a survival and threat oriented spec?


Best glyphs are:

  • vampiric blood (mandatory as a tank),
  • death strike (for threat, does not effect self-healing) and
  • rune strike or disease.

I might do some testing to see how much closer dark death glyph now is to rune strike, but it should still be pretty far behind. Glyph of disease is a quality of life option, makes for a simplified rotation. I need to test its threat output, but suspect it’s about neutral.

Threat stat weightings

Verified these on Dec 18th, using ICC dodge aura and Bluedragon specs.

Strength | 2.37
ExpertiseRating | 2.89
BeforeMeleeHitCap<8% | 2.37
ArmorPenetrationRating | 1.85
CritRating | 1.78
Agility | 1.33
ExpertiseRating After Dodge Cap | 1.33
AttackPower | 1 (0.27 DPS/per AP)
HasteRating | 0.81
SpellHitRating | 0.43

or, for talent threat values, read here.

Attack speed reduction

The specs keep Improved Icy Touch (giving 20% melee and ranged attack speed reduction) since it can be applied so easily by a DK. I put it even on a ‘threat oriented’ spec, becauses it reduces incoming damage and that’s more important than tps.

If your raid includes a reliable druid or paladin who’s willing and able to put their haste-reduction on the boss, you can move those three points into Necrosis for more threat in Unholy. (You can’t rely on a dps warrior to do it for you because it’s in the protection tree, and if she is prot, she’s not likely to also be on your target.)

I always have IIT in a tank spec because it means you are sure your target has the debuff, regardless of what everyone else is killing (for example, think of Freya first phase, you’re the only person on her whilst the rest are killing waves, so who’s going to put up the debuff for you then?).

Rotation and priorities

See the dedicated post I have on rotations and priorities.

Doing 5-man heroics in blood

Most of the previous discussion was about raid tank specs.

I tested the 5-man heroic spec above and it works really well. The key is glyph of DnD and Corpse Explosion. The combination makes it formidable on trash. You do not need corpex in raids.

I went with glyphs of death strike, vampiric blood and death and decay. Remember the minor glyph of corpse explosion, too.

You need a little more skill in managing cooldowns than you do as Frost tank, so you can use DnD twice on really big AOE pulls. AOE works by using corpse explosion as your runic dump as soon as you can, cleaving with heart strike plus tabbing around if necessary, plus a single-disease spread of frost so your blood boil has more punch.

The buff from Abominations Might, 10% AP, also buffs your AOE spells by that amount since their damage is based on a coefficient of your attack power.

Corpse explosion hits pretty hard, 970 average damage for me, and you can fire it off fairly early in your rotation. I like that it’s RP-based so you can AOE even if your runes are on cooldown.

Basically for an AOE rotation I would do this:

  • open with Death and Decay
  • death grip a caster into it
  • Icy Touch, Plague Strike, Pestilience on the first kill target
  • wait for runes, and auto attack a different mob if needed
  • then if 3 or more targets alive: blood boil, blood boil, death strike
    • if 2 or less alive use heart strike
  • use corpse explosion as soon as the first mob is dead
    • save RP for corpse explosion, so avoid using death coil
  • from here in, you should prioritise one disease up on all targets, blood boil then corpose explosion. Remember to do a death strike occasionally so you generate death runes, which you use for spamming blood boil.

Variation: don’t do plague strike, then use Blood Tap.

To comment

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32 comments to Blood tank spec in 3.3

  • Zeflaak

    Hi,i want to ask ya about the basic questions.Ive started after my main pally DK as tank and im not sure what to stack as tank.I know,i can google it,but i think its better (and easier) to ask ya for help.Dinged yesterday and started to farm HCs for T9 232ilvl tank gear ect,know tacts for all raids,so np with that.If you have some advices for me,post it now ^^ (yea,rly poor eq :P )

  • Ok, so I am sort of a tanking noob, my main is a mage. But I use to play my dk all the time until they nerfed unholy. I have been running blood ever since, and this may be a really dumb question, but why not take improved blood presence. Doesn’t this give me 4% healing from my own abilities? I am considering tanking in ICC, ten mans but I haven’t tanked in so long, so I need to know some info! Thanks

  • Improved Blood Presence is kind of an odd talent. It looks decent at first glance, but it doesn’t stand up to closer scrutiny. For a tank, even a Blood spec tank, the healing that you receive from this talent is too little to be worth two talent points. Think about it this way, for two talent points, you more or less receive a couple hundred HP back every few seconds. However, that amount of healing is equivalent to a single HoT from a healer – if that. That’s not the kind of damage a tank needs to worry about – we worry about the back to back massive hits, which this talent does very little to help. For a DPS DK, the added healing benefit isn’t really worth it either. You’ll actually “be” in blood presence, so heals on you will be quite large, but for the most part you shouldn’t be taking that much damage in a raid as a DPS. There certainly will be times that you take damage, and this talent is nice for those times, but overall it’s gimmicky at best – especially since there are so many other talents that can improve our dps. The odd thing is that this talent isn’t even all that useful in the Arena – which is what this talent looks like it’s made for. The reason being that PvP DK’s spend the vast majority of their time in Unholy presence instead.
    .-= Lasciell´s last blog ..Back on track =-.

  • I have been fine tuning my Blood tanking spec constantly over the past few weeks. I’ve tanked in both ICC 10 and 25 now, and have respeced between runs at least a dozen times so far to move a few points around here and there. I’ve finally settled on my “perfect” Blood tanking build. It performs very well across the board, from Heroic 5mans to MT or OT in ICC 10 or 25. I’d like to share my build with you folks, so you can try it out and provide some feedback. I haven’t run this build through any simulator, this is all based on my first hand experience. It’s not quite what I expected it to be when I set out, so I’d like to go over my reasoning. Here’s my build:

    The spec.

    In all of the Blood tanking builds I’ve tried, I’ve consistently noticed the following:

    1) Pretty much regardless of my build, my single target threat is more than sufficient. I’ve found ICC 10 to have the most potential for a threat challenge, as the DPS is fully raid buffed, and there very well may be no Rogue or Hunter in the raid. Even so, pretty much every build I’ve tried is up to the task.

    2) Depending on the build I’ve used, survivability is sometimes an issue as MT or OT in ICC. Some of the “high threat” builds lack some of the survivability talents available, and this can be very noticeable in some encounters.

    3) In every Blood build I’ve tried, AoE threat is my greatest (relative) challenge. When I first set out to give tanking a shot on my DK, the conventional wisdom I read on strat sites was that this was mainly an issue for heroics, and less of an issue when raiding. I’ve found this to be patently untrue. If anything, I’ve found that AoE threat is a bigger issue in ICC than it ever is when running my daily heroic. There are several pulls in ICC that require tons of AoE. That epic pull in the beginning of the Plague Wing used to give me fits.

    So keeping all of that in mind, I’ve readjusted my priorities when designing my build. Single target threat was given lower priority, as I’ve been fine pretty much regardless of my build, and survivability and AoE threat were given high priority. I’ll go over my talent choices in each tree.


    Nothing done different here. I pick up IIT because being able to easily push that out to every mob is just way too good, regardless of whether or not someone else might be able to cover that debuff.


    I max out Morbidity to improve my AoE threat, but I go one step further and pick up Corpse Explosion as well. I was really on the fence about picking up this talent for a MT raid build, I respeced numerous times to move just that single point back and forth. In the end, I found it to be way too useful in ICC to not have it. The best use for this spell is to establish immediate AoE threat to a new wave of adds while you’re in the middle of a pull. This happens several times in ICC, where you’ll be in the middle of a pull, and another wave comes in. The epic AoE pull in the Plague Wing is a perfect example of this. That pull used to give me fits, as I was already pushing myself to maintain threat on multiple targets, so I was not always able to immediately easily pick up another wave of adds. Corpse Explosion is perfect for this, as it is less of an issue to keep a reserve of Runic Power during an AoE pull than it is to have a reserve of Runes. It buys you some very valuable time.


    There are a lot of no brainer picks here, so I’ll just cover the few talents that merit question. I go 1 point into Abomination’s Might, as I can’t count on this buff in a 10 man, and it’s very useful both for RDPS and my own threat generation. I’ve found 1 point to be reliable enough. I spare 1 point for Scent of Blood primarily to generate RP for Corpse Explosion use in AoE pulls. With several targets hitting me, I’ve found 1 point to be sufficient to keep this buff up, whereas 3 points is only really useful to keep that proc going against a single target – where my threat generation is fine. I don’t put any points into Spell Deflection, as there isn’t enough single target spell damage in ICC to merit it. Acclimation in the Frost tree is another matter entirely, I’d probably go that route if I were Frost. I don’t pick up Hysteria, as I’m pretty pinched for talent points in this build, and I decided that I’d spend that one “raid buff” point in Abomination’s Might instead – as it was both a raid buff and a personal threat buff. I put 3 points into Subversion to help keep a full stack of Bloody Vengeance, and I only drop my single remaining point into Might of Mograine – as it is primarily just a single target threat boost – which is fine as is.


    Vampiric Blood is a no brainer decision for a Blood tank.
    Death and Decay is to improve my AoE threat generation – which IMO is crucial for ICC.
    That leaves my last glyph slot for single target threat – and Death Strike performs the best for the remaining glyph options.

    The minor glyphs are all no brainers.

    I would love to hear feedback on this build. I’ve been very satisfied with it so far.
    .-= Lasciell´s last blog ..Back on track =-.

    • Gravity
      Twitter: gravitydk

      That’s a great spec. Quite similar to my “heroic 5-man” spec, but you’ve made a good argument for its use in raids! I too am a big fan of corpex, as you’d know, and agree it’s superb for those mid-wave adds when combined with SoB (which procs a lot during AOE fights too).
      I’m surprised you found DS glyph to be better than RS though; is that from analysing WoL parses?

      • That’s based very much on play style. If you run everything through a Sim, the Rune Strike glyph wins for TPS. My first hand experience confirms this as well – “if I use the highest TPS rotation”. However, due to being in a very small guild, I find myself more often than not in PUG’s, or at best, patchwork raids made up of two or three guilds. In these situations, you sometimes have to account for less than perfect performance from the rest of the raid. Sometimes it’s a healer/s that could use quite a bit more gearing up. Sometimes it’s the dps who like to stand in fire while calling out for heals on vent. Other times it’s that ignorant other tank who isn’t hit capped and misses their taunt. All of these events have trained me to take a good look at my threat lead, and if it’s sufficient, I generally wind up using Death Strike whenever I can, even if I have Death Runes available. As long as my threat lead is comfortably high, I like to do this to make the healer’s job easier. With this kind of rotation, the Death Strike glyph outperforms the Rune Strike glyph. Once the dps that I usually run with are more geared up, I suspect I’ll have to switch over to a more normal rotation of spamming Heart Strike with every death rune. When that happens, I’ll be switching to a Rune Strike glyph.
        .-= Lasciell´s last blog ..Back on track =-.

        • Darthlegolas

          What exactly is your rotation? I’ve always used Frost for tanking, but I recently added dual-spec to my DK and I’m trying out your build. Is it the same as posted above in the guide? Thanks!

  • I basically don’t have so much a rotation, as much as a priority list. For the most part, Gravity has spelled out rotations in a very clear manor for every build – I can’t really improve on what he already did. To recap a single target pull, I apply both diseases, Heart Strike twice to put my blood runes on CD, hit Death Strike, and then Blood Tap and hit Vampiric Blood. The optimal threat “rotation” is just make sure your diseases are always up, and use every death rune and blood rune on Heart Strikes, and use Death Strikes with Frost and Unholy runes. All that I’m doing differently is that sometimes when I have death runes available, I choose to use Death Strike instead of Heart Strike “if and only if my threat lead is sufficient”. Nothing radically different really. What this does is basically trade some threat generation for some life regen in order to make the healer’s job easier.

  • gul

    hey m8, caheck this tree i call it… why? its hybrid and it is low on threat i agree, needed trick from rogue few times, but it hold up well all up to blood queen in 10 normal, we didnt go further so i dont know what it would be on sleeper, i assume crap as no aoe in it..

    here is link to my armory page, so just want to hear ur opinion.

    btw, in 5 hc i did not need healer allmost at all..lolz. did vh and uk and nexus without healer at all.. pall did cast hands when cd was off, but that was all :)


  • Instructions
    Twitter: awfullyquiet

    One thing I’ve been seeing more and more of while healing pugs (and thus, spying on other DK tanks on my server >.<) is that there's so few who pick up Rune Tap…

    I'm not doubting my spec, or my ability, i'm just grasping at straws at the apparent benefits… sure, you could toss more into threat skills, max out subversion, but at what point does the survival outweigh the threat? i'm sure on a boss-by-boss study, sure, it might work if you're slightly under geared as a tank going with highly geared players in order to keep them off your threat ceiling… but, for the most part, I think as Blood, our issues lie less in our ability to maximize our threat ceiling, but, as most DK's, our ability to mitigate and survive… I guess I'm of that school of thought that survivability and mitigation is always the paramount of tanking, threat is second… and, it's not like our single target threat is bad by any stretch of imagination anymore…

    Unless you're tanking with a 232 weapon against 258ilvl geared players, i don't see the point in specing into an increase in threat over survivability…

    the spec listed for the most part is too perfect… i just tend to sub in CE for hysteria… for some reason, every time I pull into a raid… there's just an opportunity for me to use it effectively in every trash pull while my OTs mop things up… for me though, hysteria only gets used during BQ… and most of the time, if you're doing it right, it's not a deal breaker… *shrugs*, hysteria is one of those funny abilities.

  • Drunknite

    Wouldnt GoD be a threat increase?  Just thinking about it (haven’t tested) but wouldn’t it mean one more HS per rotation since the last 2 death runes are used to refresh diseases?