Which glyph for tanking?

Assuming you’re using my recommended Lichborne-spec.

If you’re not familiar with the spec’s concept: you use Lichborne to make yourself undead, so you can self-cast a death coil as a heal, and you glyph it so that’s more effective. Also you skip the useless talents that buff blood boil. Epidemic extends your disease duration to match scarlet fever (our tanking debuff).

For single-target tanking, the glyphs for Death Knight tanking are below:

Prime Glyphs

Pretty straight-forward. Two of the best threat glyphs, and the best tanking glyph to reduce the cost of self-heal death coil.

  • [item]Glyph of Rune Strike[/item]
  • [item]Glyph of Heart Strike[/item]
  • [item]45804[/item]  (this is for self-healing not for damage, you never use DC for damage as a tank)

Major Glyphs

A little more interesting choice. I really like bone shield for run speed, useful when opening a fight or so you don’t need to use unholy presence (and then forget about it) for running around, plus vampiric blood because you generally don’t need more total health but do need to help your healers. Third slot, I’m not so fussed, but like anti-magic shell or rune tap. Glyph of DRW is for threat, which we don’t really need.

  • [item]glyph of vampiric blood[/item]
  • [item]glyph of bone shield[/item]
  • probably [item]glyph of rune tap[/item] or [item]glyph of anti-magic shell[/item]

Minor glyphs

The only mandatory glyph here is for death coil, the rest are all flavour. Even glyph of blood tap doesn’t really prevent much damage these days, relative to the 120K+ health you have.

  • [item]43539[/item] (being nerfed in 4.0.6 so will not be of any use to tanks anymore)
  • Choose 2nd and 3rd slot freely, I like path of frost and raise ally.


Zao has put a glyph thread together with a little more detail on each glyph, and a complete list, plus you can discuss further there.

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14 comments to Which glyph for tanking?

  • Squizm

    You have the warlock Death Coil glyph linked instead of the DK one

  • I know that I am partial to glyph of blood tap as a minor glyph, but resilient grip might be useful on occasion in case you accidentally try to death grip the wrong thing.
    I’m torn between Rune Tap and AMS because on the one hand..there is extra damage mitigation for me, but then Rune Tap heals everyone for 5%. The later might be easier on the healers, but then again it could depend on the fight.
    (also, nifty blog, must add to blog roll!)

    • Zao

      Resilient grip doesn’t work on anything that’s permanently immune to the pulling effect, so the only time it has some use is if the target is somehow rootet or stunned. But I think the glyphs have been made for single target tanking, where there’s virtually no use for GoRG
      And keep in mind that GoRT only heals your PARTY (not raid) for 5%.

  • Perang
    Twitter: perang_tank

    lovely article, however you linked the warlock death coil glyph, not the death knight which is: http://www.wowhead.com/item=45804

  • Tusam
    Twitter: tusamdk

    Nice post. Needs a small correction though. Your [Glyph of Death Coil] link is linking to the warlock death coil.
    Keep the good stuff coming.

  • sputniq

    In heroic gear I haven’t used Death Coils much at all yet, how hard are yours hitting for roughly?
    10k? 20k?
    I’m going to give your Lichborne spec a shot tonight and see how I like it.

    • Zao

      It’s not about the damage of Death Coil, it’s about the 15% increased healing. Death Coild should never be used for damage.
      But it’s great for healing, since they heal for ~30k with vengeance stacked

  • mandible

    yeah I was just trying to get an idea on how much it was going to heal for.  I got a chance to use it last night for the first time, it’s basically one/two gcd’s weaker than lay on hands very amazing imho.
    Thanks for writing about it.

  • Burdell

    I do not use the glyph of vampiric blood for 2 reasons.
    Reason #1.  If you pop vampiric blood while the boss is hitting you harder than normal, your vengeance will stack higher and it does not reset, e.g. during an ultimate against the Conclave of Wind while on the frost platform.  So long as you are taking consistent damage your vengeance damage increase will stay based on the max health provided by your vampiric blood proc.
    Reason #2.  Chimereron.  Vampiric blood’s health increase will take your health from 1 to above 10k without having to receive a heal.  It works just like rune tap does in that fight, the only difference being vampiric blood is not effect by the mortal strike for Break.

    • Leodar

      So with the new glyph switch out mechanic, wouldn’t it make sense to only remove VB glyph for Chimereron?
      I find that choosing the glyph based on vengeance to be a weak argument, and would need more math/more detailed explanation about why a minor DPS/threat increase (when I don’t currently need one) would be worth it.

  • Pestilencio

    I wouldn’t use RP on Death Coils. So much more efficient threat wise to use it on Rune Strikes. So the only remaining value would be when you Lichborne. That means it’s only useful every 2 min as opposed to Death Strike being useful every few seconds.
    It won’t increase the amount of self healing received from DS but it will do more damage to your target which means more threat. That seems far more useful to me.

    • Zao

      Threat currently is a non issue on any content.
      and @Burdell:
      1: Threat is a non issue, and on the fight you used as example, vengeance would reset its stacks when you switch bosses.
      2: RT/DS/LB+DC are also more than enough. And the glyphed VB increases the healing received by those.

  • BigKoala

    From the 4.0.6 patch notes:  Glyph of Death’s Embrace no longer refunds Runic Power when self-healing via Lichborne.

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