Death Knight tank spec 3.33

We’ll probably see 3.33 this week. There are a few important changes we all know about: [spell]Icy Touch[/spell] gives loads of threat, [spell]Will of the Necropolis[/spell] is always available and [spell]improved icy talons[/spell] stacks with itself (45% melee haste); the last being confirmed by Ghostcrawler. Other Frost changes to talents in 3.33 are not so tank-oriented but will help give us a small threat boost.

Icy Slam

Icy Touch will hit like shield slam. In Frost Presence, it will hit for x14 threat rather than the usual x2. That’s been recently checked on PTR.

This really is a great change, albeit it’s in a design-style that Blizzard do not enjoy. High-threat moves in a presence/stance are not their preferred method. Cataclysm might revert it for something else, but that’s a long way off.

You do not need to respec to take advantage of Icy Slam; keep your normal spec and your normal rotation to get more threat. Notably on the pull, which is where we needed it, and also on adds.

You might want to spam Icy Touch to get even more threat. I suggest doing that just on your opening rotation, or if you have serious threat problems in the first place (perhaps you undergear the dps, or are a new tank to L80 in 5-mans).

Tanks who are not stressed out by threat do not need to spam Icy Touch, and can stick with a rotation which delivers more damage. Our damage in a raid, whilst small compared to a dps class, is still a contribution. You do not need gob-loads more threat than the raid. So if you are way ahead in Omen, you should be doing as much damage as you can. IT & PS combined do less damage than [spell]Obliterate[/spell], [spell]Scourge Strike[/spell] or [spell]Death Strike[/spell] (and DS it is simply a more useful because of self-healing) so keep doing your strikes.

Where it may be useful is on the pull.

Depending on the fight, you can use [spell]blood tap[/spell] to slam an extra IT. You could do this after using the blood runes on blood/heart strike, tacking the extra IT on the end of your rotation with the death rune from a blood tap. Or, you could add it in the beginning with blood tap again, but then you lose a blood rune for your strikes. I’m not sure what would be best, but will try those two out first.

On some fights, if you have the 4pc T10 bonus, you may want to save blood tap for its 10% damage reduction if you know that incoming damage will occur within the first minute.

I do not think an IT-spam spec will be very sensible but it would generate fairly wicked threat.

Bear in mind that spamming IT, or dropping [spell]epidemic[/spell] on the basis of knowing you’ll spam IT and PS, is going to compromise your AOE whilst buffing single-target. On a pull of more than three targets, epidemic would help your AOE, and you are not likely to have the frost/death runes to spam all 4+ mobs with your fancy Icy Slam, so you’d have a net loss on AOE. For two or three targets, spamming IT could work.

Howling Blast-glyphed tanks don’t usually have epidemic talented even in 3.3 and will gain from 3.33, but must remember that HB does not have the same threat modifier. In a single-target fight you should revert to casting IT rather than applying fever with your HB. In an AOE fight, HB will still pwn.

With even a normal spec of any tank tree, AOE fights like halls of reflection will be easier simply because your IT will be so threatening. You will be able to pick up loose targets confidently.

Endless Mind Freeze

Frost also had some minor threat buffs, such as more strength in [spell]endless winter[/spell]. Remember +x% strength helps dps far more than DK tanks. For us,the gain on parry from [spell]forceful deflection[/spell] is meaningless. For us, initial strength is so low that a +2% more is also small.

You might as well talent into [spell]endless winter[/spell] anyhow, but more because the free mind freeze will save you RP for [spell]rune strike[/spell] on the occasional fight.

Offhand damage in [spell]Nerves of cold Steel[/spell] and [spell]Unbreakable Armor[/spell] strength bonus also buffed in 3.33, but again they’re nice threat bonuses in talents you’d have anyhow.

Will of the Necropwnolis

Some tanks will say, Blood is now the only tanks spec, because of this buff to WotN. I disagree. Whilst every Blood spec should take these talents now, WotN is still a Plan B talent.

WotN saves your ass when things go wrong, or when you’re really pushing the envelope into new content for your raid. It doesn’t save you at all when you’re farming content or overgearing or when your healers are totally in-sync with the damage pattern of the raid.

That distinction is why Blood is not the only spec now.

It’s an incredible buff for those who need it. If things go wrong, having all damage reduced by 15% is probably going to prevent a wipe.

Not everyone uses a Blood MT spec because most tanks are in different circumstances to one another. Some tanks need a dps offspec, so then pick Frost for tanking due to its ST and AOE capability. Other tanks have better one-handed weapons than two-handed, so pick Frost, or perhaps it’s simply preference and muscle-memory.

Frost is a great tree. They take a flat 2% less damage always and have 3% more avoidance and a longer IBF and a proper damage-reducing cooldown.

It’s childish logic to try comparing Blood to Frost simply on the basis of one Plan B talent; but of course many trolls will do that. You need to look at the whole picture. How about raid buffs?

Improved Icy Talons and Windfury

In some previous analysis I had done, it showed that [spell]improved icy talons[/spell], our version of Windfury, was only better than its alternatives if you did not have Windfury in the raid already. That’s now changed, since the personal haste stacks with your own IIT. They do not stack for the raid.

I haven’t done the maths on this, but expect all dual-wield Frost tanks should now spec into IIT. Weapon attack speed has great synergy with rune strike. You might need another point in [spell]Scent of Blood[/spell] to keep feeding rune strikes.

For two-handed Frost tanks, I’m not so sure. Need some more detailed analysis on its net benefit, which I’ve not done yet.

Tank spec in 3.33

If you’re Blood, make sure to have WotN. Remember that DRW gives threat now too.

If DW Frost, I’d suggest IIT. 2H Frost, I don’t have a firm view (yet).

Unholy, no changes.

Rotation for all tanks: unchanged, except you may hit IT more in your opening rotation, using blood tap.

This topic will be closely discussed by everyone in our forums, me too, as the patch goes live. We have threads on:

Related Posts:

21 comments to Death Knight tank spec 3.33

  • Slipperhat

    Windfury does not stacks with 20% personal haste from  Icy Talons and the 5% personal haste from Improved Icy Talons.
    Windfury does not stack with the 20% melee haste raid buff from Improved Icy Talons.  From

    • Gravity
      Twitter: gravitydk

      Thanks for that. You’ve written what I meant. Adjusted OP; your own ‘windfury’ (ie. IIT) stacks with your own personal melee haste.

      • Slipperhat

        Made a mistake typing it. My comment should read:
        “Windfury does stack with 20% personal haste from  Icy Talons and the 5% personal haste from Improved Icy Talons.

        Windfury does not stack with the 20% melee haste raid buff from Improved Icy Talons.”
        Also, where you talk about Nerves of Steel – it should be Nerves of Cold Steel.
        Thanks for the great blog!

  • Gloom

    I wondered about IIT for frost tank builds, as Frost DW is pretty tight on points anyway. The best compromise I could come up with is
    I lose a couple of points in KM (acceptable as I’ll be meleeing faster anyway) and lose all of Bladed Armour (this one I’m less comfortable with as I’ve always felt that this was a bread and butter Tank Talent for Frost and Blood)

  • Shazear
    Twitter: Shazear

    I really do need to get around to updating the threat addon so that I can have an automated way of giving me a threat report.  (As if I don’t already have enough on my plate. LOL)

  • Ténacity
    Twitter: xxiceman720xx

    THis is good news

  • tadrinth

    I don’t quite see why DW tanks would spec into IIT more aggressively than 2H.  The DW spec is already so tight on points, I’m having a hard time figuring out where to pull just the two points for Endless Winter.  I’d like to see your take on DW frost specs, if you have time to run the numbers.

    • Gravity
      Twitter: gravitydk

      Aye, it’s tricky. You have to drop Black Ice and some KM to get IIT, and use single-disease with no epidemic. In 3.3 that was a net gain. I haven’t done the sim/maths to check if it’s still the case. I wrote about it here.

  • Feezee

    “Frost is a great tree. They take a flat 2% less damage always and have 3% more avoidance and a longer IBF and a proper damage-reducing cooldown.”
    Magic damage is not mitigated by UA, its a huge limitation in my opinion, and a big reason why I run a blood build for bosses.

    • Gravity
      Twitter: gravitydk

      Most ICC boss damage is physical.

      • Feezee

        I don’t care as much about most boss damage anywhere near as much as I do about the damage spikes that are most likely to kill me.  The most dangerous times are two or more instances of high incoming damage within 2 minutes (so IBF cannot be used for both).  When this is magical damage, the limitation of UA not reducing incoming magical damage is problematical.

        • Gravity
          Twitter: gravitydk

          In normal modes, I think the only boss with a large spike damage that’s magic-based, that’s on a 1 min cooldown or so, is the Lich King? If so, then UA is fine.

  • Gloom

    I’m not sure I’d want to drop Black Ice to gain IIT, thats a 10% loss to one of my largest AE snap threat attacks (Howling Blast). It feels like you’re trading too much AE threat for extra single target. Admittedly you can tab/target mobs to spread your hasted attacks around but that harkens back to more how a Blood Tank deals with AE.
    I’m curious to know how Bladed Armour actually functions – as I’m considering losing it for an IIT build. Is is 1AP per 180 of your itemised armour value or your actual armour value (with Frost presence etc. calculated in)?

  • Gravity
    Twitter: gravitydk

    Bladed Armour is one of the biggest threat contributors to everything. I’m fairly sure it’s our #1 threat talent. It is based on your Frost Presence multiplied armour, yes. That’s why it’s so good for tanks.

    You’re right Black Ice is an excellent AOE talent. Thus, its trade-off for ST threat is the question, answered by considering your goal in the spec.

  • I’m fairly sure that threat wise it’s a wicked idea to use any KM procs on IT now, or am I missing something here?

  • hobojoe92

    Threat-wise, is it better to have 3/5 KM and 5/5 Bladed Armor or 3/5 Bladed and 5/5 KM?

  • Frostanker

    Very useful threads, it’s great to have so many options discussed since in the end everybody have their own preferences ( took me 2 hours to read all of it and make my own tree though :D )
    Thanks guys!

  • Kasgrin

    Thanks for a wonderful read. Been tanking on a Bear, a Warrior and a Paladin since vanilla switching between them whenever the mood strikes me. Just started on a DK because I thought it would be nice to have all the tanking classes at 80.
    The posts here helped me out a lot in getting to grips with the different trees and rotations, so thanks a lot. Without having delved into the forums super deep (ran a few searches which turned up empty), are there any decent posts up about gear to start aiming for near 80 or when I hit it, from a tanking point of view obviously in my case?

    • Gravity
      Twitter: gravitydk

      Hi mate, we don’t have a specific post which outlines “new to 80″ gear. Obviously though, get all the items from the i232 set gear with triumph emblems, then (less obviously) get the Frost cloak first, then belt. This list has all the gear that exists, for you to keep in mind as a shopping list. Rawr is also good (if you can use its filters) in generating a customised ‘to do’ list. Lastly, this post has some of the BOP gear in the 5-mans which is really good.

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