SECTION 1 – BASIC TRAINING
Welcome to the srsbusiness guide to Death Knight tanking. As tanks, our job is to piss things off and live to talk about it. But if you’ve come here, you already know that. I’ve compiled the information in this guide to give beginners and veterans alike a source for meaningful information and analysis pertaining to the intricacies of our job.
This guide would not be possible without the work of other like-minded enthusiasts, for their varied contributions I would like to thank each of them.
+ INTRODUCTION TO THE DEATH KNIGHT
The newest tank and WoW’s first Heroic class, Death Knights borrow greatly from several sources. DKs have a set of six Runes that function ostensibly similar to combo points, these Runes are used to activate special attacks and abilities. These attacks generate Runic Power, which is the DK equivalent to Rage. This Runic Power (or RP) is used to fuel certain attacks and abilities. And now with the advent of Runic Empowerment, our RP based attacks also have a chance of refreshing a random Rune.
This reciprocal approach to resource mechanics is at the heart of the Death Knight playstyle, so keep this in mind if you are considering becoming one of these powerful plate wearers. It is a complex class that is at once easy to play, but difficult to master.
Due to the complexity of the Death Knight’s abilities, and the broad toolset available to a DK tank, there is a lot of terminology to familiarize yourself with. For brevity sake, these terms have been abbreviated, the key to these abbreviations is provided below.
+ COMMON ACRONYMS:
HS – Heart Strike
PS – Plague Strike
IT – Icy Touch
OB – Obliterate
DS – Death Strike
RS – Rune Strike
NS – Necrotic Strike
FeS – Festering Strike
BB – Blood Boil
DnD – Death and Decay
DC – Death Coil
BP – Blood Plague
FF – Frost Fever
Pest – Pestilence
IBF – Icebound Fortitude
AMS – Anti-Magic Shell
AoD – Army of the Dead
RP – Runic Power
ERW – Empower Rune Weapon
SoB – Scent of Blood
WoN – Will of the Necropolis
BCB – Blood-caked Blade
RunEmp – Runic Empowerment
DarkSim – Dark Simulacrum
+ RUNE SYSTEM TERMINOLOGY:
■ Rune Set: 1 Blood, Frost, and Unholy rune, 3 runes available in two sets to all Death Knights.
■ FU Pair: 1 Frost and 1 Unholy rune, frequently used together for moves.
■ Rune Blackout: when all 6 runes are on cooldown and are not available.
■ Sleeper Rune: the second rune of any same sort that is waiting for the other rune to finish its regeneration in order to start its own.
+ GENERAL GAME JARGON & TERMINOLOGY
■ Mob: an enemy, monster, or computer controlled non-player character (npc).
■ Proc: a spell, talent, enchant, or glyph effect that triggers from some set of conditions usually providing a buff or ability.
■ Tank: the designated character in a party or raid who gears to be strong on survival and takes the primary attention of enemy targets.
■ DPS: short-hand for damage dealers. I will use the lowercase “dps” to short-hand for damage per second.
■ Pop: slang for using a spell or ability.
■ Cooldown (CD): the period where a spell or item is unusable because it is refreshing.
■ Global Cooldown (GCD): the game is built with a base cooldown for the player client of 1.5 seconds. This keeps the player from being able to use most abilities less than 1.5 seconds apart. Some abilities can be used without triggering the Global Cooldown, while for certain classes, the Global Cooldown can be reduced in length with certain stats or abilities.
■ Internal Cooldown (ICD): a cooldown hidden in a talent, set bonus, trinket, or gear proc. Cooldown is not visible to the player, but the ability won’t be able to proc again until the cooldown is finished.
Acronym and Terminology Key taken from Satorri’s Guide
SECTION 2 – PISSING THINGS OFF: The Basics of the Blood Rotation
One major concern for tanks of any class is establishing and maintaining threat. Essentially, it is the tanks job to piss things off and live to talk about it.
There are two major schools of thought concerning threat, and they both depend on one critical issue, Diseases. In both cases, there is not a rigid rotation but a priority list. Certain actions supersede others. Add in the random nature of Rune generation via Runic Empowerment, then understanding priority becomes even more prevalent. I have included both methods, and below I will discuss the merits of each.
+ DISEASELESS PRIORITY LIST
■ Step 1: Is Scarlet Fever or equivalent on the target? If yes, skip to step 2. If no, use Blood Boil.
■ Step 2: Do you have a Blood Rune available? If yes, use Heart Strike. If no, skip to step 3.
■ Step 3: Do you have an FU Pair available? If yes, use Death Strike. If no, skip to step 4.
■ Step 4: Do you have at least 30 Runic Power? If yes, use Rune Strike. If no, revert to step 1.
+ DISEASE PRIORITY LIST
■ Step 1: Is Frost Fever or equivalent on the target? If yes, skip to step 2. If no, use Icy Touch.
■ Step 2: Is Blood Plague on the target? If yes, skip to step 3. If no, use Plague Strike.
■ Step 3: Is Scarlet Fever or equivalent on the target? If yes, skip to step 4. If no, use Blood Boil.
■ Step 4: Do you have a Blood Rune available? If yes, use Heart Strike. If no, skip to step 5.
■ Step 5: Do you have an FU Pair available? If yes, use Death Strike. If no, skip to step 6.
■ Step 6: Do you have at least 30 Runic Power? If yes, use Rune Strike. If no, revert to step 1.
+ TO DISEASE OR NOT
The primary issue with diseases is ramp up time. It simply takes longer to generate meaningful amounts of threat with Diseases. When you consider that IT and PS could be another Death Strike, giving you more threat, more healing, and more shielding… it’s a lot easier to understand the attraction. By streamlining the rotation you also free yourself up to concentrate on situational awareness and cooldowns.
The other side of the argument is – that over a long enough time frame, disease TPS adds up. And overall your threat would be higher with diseases rolling. Likewise, diseaseless has a tendency to make several talents much less useful.
Another major factor is the debuffs, is someone else able to apply the slow from Frost Fever? Is someone else able to apply the damage debuff from Scarlet Fever? If so, then you’re better off (at least initially) using a diseaseless rotation. Even in longer fights however, you still have Outbreak to apply diseases with 50% of the time. So, for the moment at least it seems like diseaseless is the way to go.
+ MORE THAN THREE TARGETS
■ Step 1: Is Death and Decay off cooldown? If yes, use it. If no, use skip to step 2.
■ Step 2: Do you have a Blood Rune available? If yes, use Blood Boil. If no, skip to step 3.
■ Step 3: Tab target using Rune Strike and Death Strike as able until a Blood Rune becomes available, then revert to step 1.
+ THREE TARGETS OR LESS
Same as above but replace BB with HS.
PRO TIP FOR AOE
Be ready with those defensive cooldowns when you pull 3 or more mobs, a glyphed Dancing Rune Weapon can be a great help on packs of melee mobs. Helping you generate massive threat against the facerolling DPS, while also providing more parries.
DEATH RUNES AND SELF HEALING
Death Knight tanks generate Death Runes via Blood Rites, Death Runes can be used as Blood, Frost, or Unholy Rune. This offers great flexibility to an attentive tank: you can use a specialized cooldown such as Bone Shield or refresh a disease (if that’s your thing), hell you can even just spam Heart Strike to get rid of those Death Runes.
Another important situational skill is knowing when to heal yourself. Death Runes or not, your self heals can mean the difference between a wipe and loot. If your health is low or a healer’s been momentarily removed from the equation then you can heal yourself. Knowing when and what to use in these situations can mean the difference between a wipe and loot, as a rule of thumb set yourself a threshold (say 50% health) if your health drops below that point heal yourself.
Remember always, healing yourself is absolutely not a waste of resources… live tanks are doing their jobs, dead tanks are not.
Establishing Aggro on Bosses
When tanking bosses it’s important to get as much threat as possible early on, one way to accomplish this is to burn all of your initial Rune Set on HS and DS, pop Empower Rune Weapon, Dancing Rune Weapon and run your normal rotation. This method should establish a solid lead (especially when combined with Misdirection and Tricks of the Trade). However, it is important to keep tabs on your threat relative to that of the other raiders, as well as allowing for fight mechanics – though rare threat resets during a fight are not unheard of.
RUNIC POWER AND YOUR ROTATION
As in life, when you are tanking… sometimes you just have to take a dump. Each of the abilities listed in the rotations above generates Runic Power. RP can be used for several Defensive cooldowns, but your main use of RP will be Rune Strike. Most of the time you’ll want to cast RS over any defensive cooldowns, but with Scent of Blood you should have little problems generating enough RP to keep yourself active.
A Brief Note on Scent of Blood: With the changes made in Cataclysm you need Scent of Blood, if you’re not using at least two ranks of the talent – you are doing it wrong.
SECTION 3 – LIVING TO TALK ABOUT IT: The Basics of Defense
Defense is gone, but there’s still some things to think about. If you’re looking for information about Avoidance stats (Dodge and Parry) please see Section 4. Here, I will be focusing on Effective Health and Cooldowns.
+ Effective Health and Hit Points: Effective Health is a formula that shows the amount of damage a tank can take (without heals) before dying. This will give you a general idea of what you can tank, for simplicity state I recommend using the links listed below to calculate your EH. After getting your Avoidance to around 50% your next goal should be to increase your EH as much as possible. You can never get it too high so just keep pushing for higher numbers while maintaining your threat stats and you should be fine.
+ COOLDOWNS AND THEIR USE
■ Blood Shield – Though not a traditional cooldown, it will be your most used defensive ability since it’s triggered from your normal rotation. Be aware though that this ability only absorbs melee damage, but it scales with your gear so expect to get some serious mileage out of it.
■ Icebound Fortitude – The traditional workhorse of DK cooldowns, it reduces incoming melee and spell damage. It gives you stun immunity. And when talented costs nothing, unfortunately with recent nerfs the cooldown is enough that you may have only one or two chances to use it in a typical boss fight. That said, you want to save it for OH SHIT moments such as soft enrages toward the end of the fight.
■ Vampiric Blood – This one’s great when you need big heals, and in conjunction with RT and DS can save your bacon in a pinch. To get the most mileage macro this with a +Health trinket like Juggernaut’s Vitality.
■ Dancing Rune Weapon – The RP cost of DRW is prohibitive, and the fact you get Parry instead of outright damage absorption is a bit of a put off for some. But this works great early in the fight, coupled with Empower Rune Weapon alongside the DRW glyph and you should be able to push a substantial threat lead with a higher chance of parrying incoming hits.
■ Bone Shield – This one is an odd bird, for starters there’s the charged nature of this cooldown – get hit a few times and it fades. Then there’s the cost, an Unholy Rune is something of a premium considering you need both an Unholy and a Frost Rune for DS. So if you cast this during combat, your rotation gets thrown off. So, the best use of this ability is before the pull. Use Bone Shield to take the edge off of the first few seconds of the fight. Likewise, in heavy movement fights or tank switches you may opt to use this while the boss is otherwise occupied.
■ Antimagic Shell – Great for caster mobs and bosses, which unfortunately makes this cooldown somewhat limited.
■ Rune Tap – Effectively this is Healing Potion, that scales with your gear. And is usable every 30 seconds. Better still, if Will of the Necropolis goes off you get a freebie RT. Use care when using this ability, if it’s all overheal you may as well use the Blood Rune on an HS.
SECTION 4 – RACES STATS AND TALENTS: Building a Better Death Knight
I began my Death Knight tanking experience the night Wrath of the Lich King was released, initially as Unholy. The night Ulduar was released I switched to Blood and have been happily Heart Striking my way through content since then. With the release of the 4.0 patch, there can be only Blood tanks. Even so, there are definitely some options within the tree and certainly some things to consider on your way to level 85 raids…
Ostensibly there’s little difference between using one race or another to tank other than aesthetics, there are however a few racial abilities that make certain races more desirable for different situations as a Death Knight. Since we’re only concerned with tanking here, I’ll be brief and discuss the advantages each race offers while fulfilling this role.
■ Gemcutting – As with the rest of the profession racials, this is good if you’re working on the profession. But worthless when tanking.
■ Gift of the Naaru – It’s a heal, so this should be bread and butter, right?
Think again – the heal is pretty minimal.
■ Heroic Presence – This is huge, a flat 1% hit that you don’t need to worry about. That reduces the hit needed for a Draenei DK to 7%.
■ Shadow Resistance – This one is dependent entirely on the prevelance of the appropriate damage type in Cataclysm’s endgame.
■ Explorer – As with the rest of the profession racials, this is good if you’re working on the profession. But worthless when tanking.
■ Frost Resistance – This one is dependent entirely on the prevelance of the appropriate damage type in Cataclysm’s endgame.
■ Gun Specialization – Death Knights can’t use guns…
■ Mace Specialization – Great for a little more Expertise, assuming you’re using the appropriate weapon.
■ Stoneform – Actually a decent cooldown for tanking.
■ Arcane Resistance – This one is dependent entirely on the prevelance of the appropriate damage type in Cataclysm’s endgame.
■ Engineering Specialization – As with the rest of the profession racials, this is good if you’re working on the profession. But worthless when tanking.
■ Escape Artist – This could be great for high movement fights, but this is really more of a PVP racial.
■ Expansive Mind – Death Knights have no mana, wasted racial.
■ Shortblade Specialization – Only good if you’re using 1 handed swords, so only useful if you’re trying to dual-wield tank. Therefore, useless.
■ Diplomacy – Great for gearing up actually, but that’s about it.
■ Every Man For Himself – Similar to the Gnome’s Escape Artist racial with one small difference, it’s better because it also gets you out of fear like a PVP trinket. This has great potential for certain encounters.
■ Mace Specialization – Great as long as you’re using a mace.
■ Sword Specialization – Great as long as you’re using a sword.
■ The Human Spirit – Spirit, seriously? I think I just lulzed my pants…
+ Night Elf:
■ Nature Resistance – This one is dependent entirely on the prevelance of the appropriate damage type in Cataclysm’s endgame.
■ Quickness – This is huge as a tank, arguably the most powerful racial for a tank in the game.
■ Shadowmeld – Not that amazing for tanking, I could possibly see use for tank switches. More likely though, it’ll be a humorous way to kill someone else in the raid.
■ Wisp Spirit – Slightly more useful than Gun Specialization, but only slightly.
■ Aberration – This one is dependent entirely on the prevelance of the appropriate damage type in Cataclysm’s endgame.
■ Darkflight – Great for chasing down runners, getting out of fire, or moving into a pull, not quite Charge but it’s something.
■ Flayer – As with the rest of the profession racials, this is good if you’re working on the profession. But worthless when tanking.
■ Viciousness – This one will add a bit more threat, but personally I’d rather have Expertise or Hit for threat, not Critical Strike.
+ Blood Elf:
■ Arcane Torrent – Silence and it generates Runic Power, so great all around ability for any Death Knight.
■ Arcane Affinity – As with the rest of the profession racials, this is good if you’re working on the profession. But worthless when tanking.
■ Magic Resistance – This one is dependent entirely on the prevelance of the appropriate damage type in Cataclysm’s endgame.
■ Rocket Jump – Works similar to the Mage Blink spell, can be used to jump into a fight or out of the fire. Shares cooldown with Rocket Barrage. Other problem, considering the buggy history of Blink and the nature of Goblin rocketry… this could get messy.
■ Rocket Barrage – Warriors pull with a throwing axe or rifle, Goblin DKs pull with a friggin Rocket Launcher. How cool is that? Shares a cooldown with Rocket Jump.
■ Time is Money – A passive attack speed buff, faster attack speed means more threat. More threat = more win.
■ Best Deals Anywhere – Great for vendoring your ill gotten gains, but for tanking it’s pretty worthless.
■ Pack Hobgoblin – This can be a lifesaver in a pinch, you can just grab that resist gear you forgot in the bank. Or the key, or whatever. Obviously, this can save you a lot of time when you forget something.
■ Better Living Through Chemistry – As with the rest of the profession racials, this is good if you’re working on the profession. But worthless when tanking.
■ Blood Fury – Most would consider this more of a DPS ability, but using this alongside your normal rotation can give a sizable boost to threat.
■ Hardiness – Stunned tanks don’t dodge or parry, stunned tanks aren’t building threat. And stunned tanks definitely can’t taunt off a healer.
■ Command – Admittedly, not the best tanking ability. But in a crunch, when you’re using your pet – the boss will die a little bit faster.
■ Axe Specialization – Expertise is a great stat for tanking, and having free expertise frees you up when choosing gear. Grade A bonus, assuming you’re using an Axe.
■ War Stomp – Stunning multiple targets is great, this has some great possibilities when AOE tanking, especially against casters.
■ Endurance – More health, if I have to tell you this is a win for tanking you should maybe go play Farmville.
■ Cultivation – As with the rest of the profession racials, this is good if you’re working on the profession. But worthless when tanking. And of course, Herbalism is for hipsters…
■ Nature Resistance – This one is dependent entirely on the prevelance of the appropriate damage type in Cataclysm’s endgame.
■ Berserking – Good cooldown for building threat.
■ Regeneration – It’s passive, so that’s good. But overall you don’t regenerate a whole lot.
■ Beast Slaying – Great for threat, assuming you’re fighting beasts.
■ Throwing Specialization – We don’t use thrown weapons…
■ Bow Specialization – Bows too, seriously?
■ Da Voodoo Shuffle – Could be good for heavy movement fights, but more of a PVP racial.
■ Cannibalize – Great for leveling up, or between pulls. But otherwise not that great for tanking.
■ Shadow Resistance – This one is dependent entirely on the prevelance of the appropriate damage type in Cataclysm’s endgame.
■ Underwater Breathing – Useless for tanking.
■ Will of the Forsaken – Good for breaking out of CC mechanics.
Despite the removal of Defense in Cataclysm, tanks still have several stats to worry about as they level and get gear. Fortunately Reforging allows us to play with the item budge a little to make things work a little better. In this section I’ll be discussing the stats you need to focus on.
■ Dodge and Parry: 176.72 rating = 1% Dodge or Parry chance before diminishing returns. Expect the actual value to be between 70-85% of that value depending on how much you have (more you have the less % value you get). Now that both Dodge and Parry share DRs you will always get the most benefit from getting more of the stat you already have the least of.
■ Stamina: 1 Stamina = 16.81 Health for a Blood Tank.
■ Strength: 1 Str = 2.205 AP (2.25 AP with 2/2 Abom’s Might), and 0.25 Parry rating (~0.003-0.005% parry).
■ Expertise: at level 85, 125.72 Expertise rating will reduce your chance to be dodged by 1% (to a cap of 6% against a raid boss, or 754 rating), and your chance to be parried by 1% (to a cap of 14% against a raid boss, or 1760 rating).
■ Hit: at level 85, 120.07 Hit rating will reduce your chance to miss by 1% with melee attacks. Special attacks and auto-attacks while using a 2-handed weapon will have a maximum of 8% chance to miss against raid bosses, which will require 961 Hit rating to remove. Icy Touch, Death Coil, and Pestilence use the Spell Hit table and the Spell Hit conversion (102.52 Hit rating = 1% reduced miss chance). These spells have a 17% chance to miss against raid bosses, which would require 1743 Hit rating. Remember though that the Virulence talent in Unholy can offset your spell hit needed by as much as 9%. With full Virulence you would need only 820.32 Hit rating at 85 for these spells.
TLDR Version: Diseaseless Rotation needs 8% hit (or 960.56 Hit Rating) at 85 to be “capped”. Even disease based rotations will only need spell hit for Icy Touch, so over 8% just isn’t that valuable.
■ Mastery: 179.24 Mastery rating = 1 Mastery Skill = 6.25% increase that your Blood Shield takes from you Death Strike heal, from a base of 8 Mastery Skill and 50% of your Death Strike value as a shield.
TLDR Version: 8% Hit and a 26 Expertise (with parry haste being a non issue I don’t recommend going beyond the Expertise soft cap). Additionally find an avoidance level you’re comfortable with (say 50%) and reforge the excess into Mastery for bigger Blood Shields. After that, focus on Stamina and Armor.
To a degree your talents will be dependent on your playstyle, and also to your normal raid composition. Here I’ll show you how to get started, and your options after that.
■ Base Spec and Glyphs – Basically you should start with this spec, a few talents are optional however. Bone Shield isn’t exactly the most popular girl at the ball right now, similarly you may decide you won’t be using Blood Boil enough to warrant the four points devoted to Scarlet Fever and Crimson Scourge.
And if you are a very casual player or run with a very limited roster you may choose Abomination’s Might to fill a few spots.
And the remaining points? Well, aside from the options listed above you should definitely consider maxing out Scent of Blood, unfortunately Frost doesn’t offer a whole lot of viable options for tanking in the first two tiers. Unholy isn’t much better, but there are a few possibilities. Even if you’re going Diseaselss you will want to take a hard look at Epidemic to keep your diseases up when you use Outbreak.
SECTION 5 – MACROS, ADDONS, AND CONFIGURATION
This section owes everything to Insolence’s Tanking Guide on the Pwnwear forums.
■ Situational Attacks: When you hit the button you’ll use Heart Strike, if you hold Alt while pressing the same button you will use Blood Strike instead. With the prevalence of CC in Cataclysm this should be helpful when you don’t want to break Sheep.
/cast [nomod] Heart Strike
/cast [mod:alt] Blood Strike
■ Mouseover Taunt: This macro allows you to taunt adds without switching targets.
#showtooltip Dark Command
/cast [@mouseover] Dark Command
■ Focus Silence: This will cast Silence on your focus target then switch back to your original target with a single button press.
/cast [target=focus] Strangulate
■ The OH SHIT Button: Using this macro will activate both of your trinkets and Icebound Fortitude.
#showtooltip Icebound Fortitude
/cast Icebound Fortitude
POWER AURAS CONFIGURATION FOR DEATH KNIGHTS
Power Auras Code:
Copy the code from here and paste it into the box that pops up.
■ -20% Attack Speed Debuff (Frost Fever; Applied through Outbreak and/or Icy Touch Baseline):
Version:4.7; Instance25ManHeroic:true; target:true; icon:Ability_Paladin_JudgementsoftheJust; buffname:Frost Fever/Thunderclap/Judgements of the Just/Infected Wounds; x:-64; customname:Frost Fever; bufftype:2; Instance10ManHeroic:true; Instance5Man:true; Instance25Man:true; Instance10Man:true; customtex:true; Instance5ManHeroic:true; combat:true; size:0.23; y:74; inverse:true
■ -10% Physical Damage Debuff (Scarlet Fever; Applied by Blood Boil, Talented):
Version:4.7; Instance25ManHeroic:true; target:true; icon:Ability_Creature_Disease_03; buffname:Scarlet Fever/Demoralizing Shout/Vindication/Curse of Weakness/Demoralizing Roar; x:88; customname:Blood Boil; bufftype:2; Instance10ManHeroic:true; Instance5Man:true; Instance25Man:true; Instance10Man:true; customtex:true; Instance5ManHeroic:true; combat:true; size:0.23; y:73; inverse:true
Basically here’s how it works: It scans your Target for any type of Debuff that reduces either Attack Speed by -20% or Physical Damage done by -10%. If it can’t find any, then it shows you the icon for that specific debuff.
■ The below Code shows you the icon for Will of Necropolis when its active, along with a timer showing uptime. When Will of the Necropolis fades, so does this graphic and timer.
Version:4.7; icon:Ability_Rogue_FeignDeath; buffname:Will of the Necropolis; x:4; customname:81163; alpha:1; isResting:0; duration:8; exact:true; spec2:false; customtex:true; size:0.19; y:-42; texmode:2; ismounted:0; timer.Texture:Original; timer.enabled:true; timer.Relative:TOP; timer.x:-9; timer.ShowActivation:true
SECTION 6 – ENCHANTS GEMS AND CONSUMABLES
Recent stat changes have facilitated a shift in focus, to a degree it means the decision making process is more streamlined. But however you want to say it, there’s fewer “real” choices when it comes to enchants and gems in Cataclysm. In addition to the enchants listed below there are other enchants a tank “may” want to pick up, especially when starting out to fill gaps in Hit, Expertise, or Mastery. These are not listed here, because I personally feel most tanks will gravitate toward EH and Avoidance for enchanting purposes.
It’s also important to note that in some cases older enchants may still be viable, as in the case of the Major Stamina enchant for bracers. Don’t feel bad for using older stuff, especially early on in the expansion. It’s not your fault Blizzard didn’t add an upgraded version of the enchant. And it’s possible they’ll add one later on (as they did with the Major Stamina enchant in Wrath).
■ Head Arcanum of the Earthen Ring – Earthen Ring (Exalted Reputation)
■ Shoulders Greater Inscription of Unbreakable Quartz – Therazane (Exalted Reputation)
■ Cloak Enchant Cloak – Protection – Enchanting
■ Chest Enchant Chest – Greater Stamina – Enchanting
■ Bracers Enchant Bracer – Major Stamina – Enchanting (WoTLK)
■ Bracers Draconic Embossment – Leatherworking Only
■ Gloves Heavy Savage Armor Kit – Leatherworking
■ Waist Ebonsteel Belt Buckle – Blacksmithing
■ Legs Charscale Leg Armor – Leatherworking
■ Legs Charscale Leg Reinforcements – Leatherworking Only
■ Feet Enchant Boots – Earthen Vitality – Enchanting
■ Rings Enchant Ring – Greater Stamina – Enchanting Only
■ Weapon Rune of the Stoneskin Gargoyle – Runeforging
Much like enchanting, if you’re familiar with gemming in Wrath there won’t be a lot of surprises here.
My general rules: Until about 30% avoidance, RDE will be a better investment than PDE. And unless you’re under the Expertise cap you should be using DD over GD. Beyond that it’s about Stamina and weighing against socket bonuses.
Be ready to make room for these, because you’ll need them when you’re in Blackwing Descent and other raids in Cataclysm.
INTRODUCTORY TANKING GEAR
This is the set of gear that I plan to work on when Cataclysm launches, the purpose of this set is to prepare for entry level heroics and raiding as soon as possible. There are only two pieces in the set that require Justice Points (for a total of 3300 JP needed), which should be fine for most established players. Be aware please, that this a recomended set – this is NOT a BIS or Must Have list. There are a variety of options available, if you find something comparable or better – use it.
■ Head Grinning Fang Helm – Dragonmaw Clan – Revered
■ Neck Elementium Guardian – Jewelcrafting
■ Shoulders Sunburnt Pauldrons – 1650 Justice Points
■ Back Wrap of the Great Turtle – Guardians of Hyjal – Exalted
■ Chest Hardened Elementium Hauberk – Blacksmithing
■ Wrist Sandguard Bracers – Ramkahen – Exalted
■ Hands Numbing Handguards – 1650 Justice Points
■ Waist Hardened Elementium Girdle – Blacksmithing
■ Legs Stone-Wrapped Greaves – Earthen Ring – Honored Rep
■ Feet Boots of Sullen Rock – Dragonmaw Clan – Exalted
■ Ring x2 Elementium Moebius Band – Jewelcrafting
■ Trinket Figurine – Earthen Guardian – Jewelcrafting Only
■ Weapon Forged Elementium Mindcrusher – Blacksmithing
■ Relic Notched Jawbone – Inscriptions
With the release of Cataclysm the Death Knight stands poised to be a dominant force in raiding, with the move to a dedicated tanking tree we now have real flavor for our tanking talents and meaningful choices. The future looks bright, and I wish you all luck. I hope this guide was helpful, feel free to share as you see fit. And if you have any questions or comments, feel free to reply here or you can contact me in game on the Bloodscalp US (Horde Side) server as Khaas.