Two blood tank extremes

Blood is so flexible. You can spec into survival, single or AOE threat. What’s the threat you gain from a heavy threat build compared to one for survival?


Here’s a really survival-heavy tank build for 25-mans.

Regarding spell damage: Some tanks might poo-poo the spec since it has [spell]spell deflection[/spell] (which is fairly weak, as not many fights actually include direct damage magic attacks) but put that aside for the purpose of this discussion. If you really hate the talent, move the points somewhere else. Once we’ve seen full parses of ICC, we can decide what value spell mitigation will play and respec appropriately into it, [spell]acclimation[/spell] or even [spell]magic suppression[/spell]. For now, I included it to deliberately nerf the spec’s threat output.

The build assumes your shaman is bringing the AP buff from [spell]53137[/spell]. I would never use this build in 5-man heroics. It skips [spell]hysteria[/spell], which is a superb talent in a 25-man environment where you’re pushing the envelope. It includes [spell]will of the necropolis[/spell] which I like for survival because it is a Plan B talent.


I then built a very high threat blood tank build, with some constraints so it’d still be a tank build.

I kept crucial tank talents like [spell]rune tap[/spell] and [spell]vampiric blood[/spell], but dropped [spell]mark of blood[/spell] and WotN. I skipped the raid buffs just as I had in the survival build, so it was a fair comparison. Because I had previously analysed the best threat talents for a blood tank, it was pretty easy to optimise.

I took 3/3 [spell]morbidity[/spell] for AOE. It’s not great for single-target threat. If I wanted to max that, ravenous dead is better.

Then I ran Kahorie’s sim, with my usual raid buffs and i245 settings.


The threat build generated 8.7% more threat (6489 TPS vs 5966).


You should ask yourself, do I really need more threat? Many tanks assume they do, without really validating the assumption.

In a 5-man heroic, your snap agro is important. In a 25-man raid, it’s nearly always your sustained threat generation that matters. Put some thought into how much survival you should sacrifice in order to boost threat and reflect if you’ve got the balance right.

For a gain of nearly 9% threat at most in this example (which is a good amount, of course), is it really worth the cost? Are the DPS really that close to your threat ceiling?

My personal ideal setup is a survival-oriented blood tank build (probably not with spell deflection) coupled with a frost AOE build (with howling blast glyph), for the best of both worlds. Once I get a good two-hander, that’s what I’ll be doing.


Chat on this topic is now in this forum thread.

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16 comments to Two blood tank extremes

  • “In a 5-man heroic, your snap agro is important. In a 25-man raid, it’s nearly always your sustained threat generation that matters.”

    I had not considered this in detail before, but you are exactly right here. Particularly snap AoE aggro in 5-mans, since your dpsers will invariably target a mob other than the one marked, or will open with a strong AoE attack such as Bladestorm.

  • Psy
    Twitter: thelordpsy

    In any 25-man setting, your threat output is absolutely meaningless.  Tricks of the Trade and Misdirection can provide enough threat to cover you in any reasonable situation.  Of course, my thoughts on the relevance and worth of specific talents are a little different from yours.

    • Gravity
      Twitter: gravitydk

      Actually not so. Many progression (hard-mode) guilds’ tanks had threat issues in Ulduar, in some fights where everyone else got buffs (like Hodir) but they didn’t effect the tank as much, or other limits on threat.

      In more ‘normal’ guilds, threat becomes less of an issue.

  • Flowen

    Even outside of specific fights like Hodir, tanks having a higher threat ceiling lets rogues trade tricks earlier in the fight. Most progression rogues have been glyphing tricks for the RDPS increase.
    Assuming a tank does 2500 DPS while a rogue is doing 8k, the rogue tricking the tank ups RDPS by 125 (1.15*10/30*2500). A rogue tricking another rogue will raise RDPS by 400 (1.15*10/30*8000). If you run a raid with 3 rogues, letting them trade tricks instead of having to funnel all the threat to the tank can add 1k extra DPS to the raid (1200 – ~200). I used 200 instead of 375 because the damage buff portion doesn’t stack, and there’s likely to be significant overlap time when stacking all 3 on a single tank.
    Of course, rogues should open up with tricks on the tank on the initial pull to give some good buffer, but any fight where you really need to push the RDPS, having enough threat on your own, maybe with some hunters’ help, to let the rogues trick around is quite beneficial.

  • Kermitt

    Can the 5pts in Blood gorged be better used elsewhere?  It looks like a solid threat generator but how much of the fight will the tank be above 75% life. Considering switching from frost to blood, or even taking yr advise and dual spec tanks.

    • Gravity
      Twitter: gravitydk

      In a raid tanking situation, you should be over 75% nearly all the time. Healers get nervous if you’re not. In a 5-man heroic, it might be different, but mostly you’re over 75%.

  • flep

    Im a DK tank since DK was introduced in the game, and always used Frost as tank spec. I’m tanking ICC10 now, and searching if should i change to DW Frost or 2H blood tank specs.
    Looking in a lot of sites, and seeking wow-heroes to see high geared blood DK tanks in a lot of servers, i always get tanks with blood specs who aren’t like your hight threat spec.
    The main difference is that you use Rune Tap, Imp Rune Tap and Necrosis, and i didn’t found any high geared tank using it. Instead, they use Will of Necropolis, Abomination’s Might, 3 Scend of Blood and 1 Suddend Doom.
    Did you tried this type of spec? For example, i found this one in a Blood Tank Guide:

    • Gravity
      Twitter: gravitydk

      Look at Spyte, the DK tank of Splug (Tankspot and fame, a superb tank and theorycrafter). He’s in a top 50 to 70 ranked USA guild. He runs (at the moment) frost and blood tank specs. He specs much like I’ve recommended, with WotN and Imp Rune Tap, and 1/2 abom might (for high probability uptime, but saving a point for other purposes).

  • Matthew

    Im curious why Run Tap is so recommended? A 20% heal every 30 secs doesnt seem like a big deal to me (raid setting where your life can go from 100 to 10 to 100 in 2 secs). Does it provide a large threat gain? It seems like the talents could be so useful elsewhere.

    • Gravity
      Twitter: gravitydk

      You can react very quickly to spikes (like during Festergut third fatness) and if its used during a vampiric blood phase (which is often the case) then the self-heal is significant (11.5K heal for me). You could save yourself in that 2 second window. Bonus: the heals also generate threat.

      It’s not the best talent, but it is one for survival. I’d put the points in Rune Tap or Spell Deflection before threat talents, if possible.

  • Matthew

    Ok I went with spell deflection and I really havent had a chance to test it. I may switch back to Rune Tap, gotta get a feel for what I have at the moment.

  • Illusive

    I have been testing Dual frost spec and blood spec 2 H weapon and seems like frost still better for TPS at this point.

  • Bindura

    A note on Abom’s might. That raid buff should covered by MM hunters (most hunters should be MM in ICC gear). Its one talent point for a permanent raidwide aura (which Aboms might will be changed to in 3.3.3). If you are in a raid team getting your MM hunter to spec into this could be more beneficial to the raid, especially if you need the two talents points for more survival talents. Trueshot aura was considered the best version of the buff by EJ in their raid stacking 101. Btw I’m an MM hunter, learning to be a DK tank ;)

    • Gravity
      Twitter: gravitydk

      I understand that Hunters don’t go MM until a certain ArPen level, before which they get more from Survival. I suspect that might happen earlier for ICC-25 raiders than for 10s.

      • Bindura

        It actually depends heavily on your current gear set; I played MM from the very start in a 10 man raid group, so I have always picked gear that favours MM by virtue of stats for each tier. I was getting more from MM than SV in ToC10 gear and sub 200ArP. There are hunters who have always geared towards SV in 25man raids (far better geared than I am) who still won’t make the switch because SV does better with their gear. If your hunters know their stuff the will be using tool like Shandara’s spreadsheet and femaledwarf .com to evaluate their gear and spec.
        Either way there is a really small difference between SV and MM so if you need replenishment bring SV, if you need 10% AP bring MM.