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Blood Tanking 2: The Rotation

September 16, 2010

This post is designed for beginning tanks. Some disclaimers:

This will be out of date as soon as Cataclysm hits us.
For detailed information on raid tanking go and look at Elitist Jerks and the http://pwnwear.com forums.

At first glance the rotation is quite easy and can be characterised as make sure you have your diseases up and then hit things. However, one of the chief skills of a blood death knight is knowing what ability to hit with at the right time. Ideally, you will be ready to heal yourself once you take damage and so

First, macro Rune Strike to every single non-ranged attack with this macro:

#showtooltip
/cast Plague Strike
/cast !Rune Strike

Replace Plague Strike with whatever spell you want (I have it macroed to Plague, Heart and Death Strikes. This casts Rune Strike whenever it is available and the “!” keeps it from being toggled off when you hit another button.

Second, be aware that you need to balance your rotation between Survival and Threat. When you need threat then focus on creating death runes with Death Strike and using them for Heart Strikes. When you need survivability, use your death runes on more Death Strikes and only use Blood runes on Heart Strike.

Try to use Death Strike only when you have taken noticeable damage. Delaying for a couple of seconds or using a Heart Strike or a Runic Power dump is perfectly acceptable if it means you heal some damage rather than waste it.

1) Single Target
a. Start – Icy Touch, Plague Strike, Heart Strike, Death Strike, Heart Strike.

b. Continuation Priorities – Refresh Diseases as they fall off, use Death Strike to create death runes (purple ones) and to heal yourself and use Heart Strike for high threat.

c. Runic Power – If you have no runes available then press Horn of Winter or Death Coil depending on how much runic power you have (you probably want to keep a reserve of c. 40 runic power at all times). Your Rune Strike should be used with macros do that it is used asap.

2) Two Targets – the key here is to use pestilence to keep diseases on both and to use Heart Strike’s cleave to hit both targets. Swap targets frequently to keep threat even and/or mark a Skull on your primary target to tell the dps who to focus.

a. Start – Icy Touch, Plague Strike, Pestilence, Death Strike, Heart Strike.

b. Continuation Priorities – same as Single Target.
c. Runic Power – same as Single Target.

3) AoE (3 or more targets) – this is a very different rotation to that above. Heart Strike falls out, Death Strike is still used for survivability and to generate death runes but you want to use Pestilence, Blood Boil and Death and Decay to keep aoe threat on targets.

a. Start – Death and Decay, Icy Touch, Plague Strike, Pestilence.

b. Continuation Priorities – Keep your diseases up by pestilence on one mob, then tabbing to another and using pestilence again. Death and Decay should be used on cooldown. Use Death Strike when possible and use Blood Boil if you have a spare rune at any point.

c. This is a tricky rotation to get right. At the start focus on keeping diseases and death and decay on your enemies. Anything else is icing on the cake.

Remember that Blood AoE is not strong unless you have 2T10 and the Glyph boosting Death and Decay. Be ready to taunt and death grip.

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