DK tanks can feel squishy compared to block-tanks in 5-mans. You can offset a lot of this through skill. We have a pretty impressive arsenal to use.
Here are some important pointers which are often overlooked by new DK tanks. It’s a good checklist.
Tank tree cooldowns
Use your tree’s big cooldown a lot: [spell]vampiric blood[/spell], [spell]unbreakable armor[/spell] or [spell]bone shield[/spell]. They’ve got short cooldowns. Use them on trash.
I use UA on trash very happily, it’s ideal for that purpose. BS is just awesomeness and AMZ can be very nice but most Unholy DKs will have spec’d into threat instead of that talent.
Many padawans tanks save all their cooldowns for bad moments then end up struggling on trash. On a boss fight, of course, you should save them for the damage spikes you know about. On trash though, use them on the pull to reduce initial damage or if you get to 50% health during the pull. Don’t do 10 minutes of trash and never use your cooldowns.
VB isn’t so great in 5-mans, as its more a throughput talent that’s for raiding, so in 5-mans its better suited to oh-shit moments than the other two trees. That said, blood has Rune Tap which can be used liberally.
Think ahead, and don’t waste [spell]icebound fortitude[/spell] if you are going to need it on the boss who’s coming up, or a huge pull of AOE adds, but otherwise use it liberally.
IBF scales with defence. You gain 0.15% of damage reduction per defence skill over 400, added to its base of 20%. This creates another benefit to Nerubian runeforge, even if you end up over the minimum of 540.
400 Defence – 20%
540 Defence – 41%
550 Defence – 42.5%
560 Defence – 44%
570 Defence – 45.5%
600 Defence – 50%
IBF makes you immune to stuns. This can be helpful if you can predict one’s coming up. You cannot avoid when you’re stunned. It doesn’t remove stuns.
Anti magic shell
AMS is great and under-utilised by tanks. Use it more often.
If you’re fighting a caster, use it. If you’ve an ugly debuff, try it out; might reduce the effect. It prevents harmful magic effects too: it makes you “immune to magic debuffs”. Also remember it gives you RP, so tanks will know it reduced your damage because you’ll suddenly have more RP afterwards.
For a 5-man, choose useful trinkets from your stable and use them. Same philosophy as for tank tree cooldowns: don’t save them if you can still have them ready in time for the boss. Deploy trinket powers against trash too.
Have it keybound somewhere convenient. Use it to stop a caster finishing his damaging spell. Preventing damage is also reducing the damage you take. I do this a lot.
[spell]Strangulate[/spell] is useful to pull ranged casters in towards you. I save it for that purpose rather than interrupts on trash. Halls of Reflection is a classic scenario to use it.
I wrote how planning ahead helps in many ways.
Gather up your mobs, then take a step back to ensure they’re all in front of you. You can’t avoid someone doing you up the ass. Keep melee in front of you. This is very important. I often re-position mobs when I’m aoe tanking, as they move around a bit.
You should care about your own health. Do not naively think your health is entirely the healers’ responsibility. If you’re getting low, it’s your job to do everything in your power to stay alive. Use death strike.
Nearly all DK tanks should have talented icy touch for the melee haste debuff. You only skip it in unusual raid compositions where you can be certain the debuff is applied by someone else. That’s so uncommon, that I instead consider it a mandatory talent.
So, get that fever up on all the mobs! It reduces the damage you take. I really like glyph of HB for this reason too, since it puts the debuff up on your AOE opening move.
This is obvious. Keep it up. Keep your blood runes busy for barrier. I have my UI customised so my own buffs are filtered to show blade barrier, IBF and the others I care about no others (like motw/kings is hidden). Once I had used Elkano buff bars to the same end, and made them really big.
Horn of winter
The buff gives you avoidance. Don’t let it fall off. I cast it in between times when there’s no rune availabe or action I can take. Gives RP too.
Death pact your ghoul
If I’m worried about the way a fight’s going, I’ll raise my ghoul so he’s ready. I’ll then keep my RP up, so I can cast [spell]death pact[/spell] as a huge self-heal.
Army of damage reduction
Has two uses. [spell]Army of the dead[/spell] has a damage reducing feature which is excellent if you’re not taking melee damage, but want to avoid large environmental magic damage.
Once they’re up, because the little buggers taunt everything they then take damage away from you. Great to use against the Black Knight’s own army in ToC-5.
If you know of a boss fight or other scenario when it’s great to use army or ams or something like that, let me know and I’ll add it in to give more examples.
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