Runes: The biggest change to Blood (and all) DKs is the removal of unique Runes.  The Rune system is now made up of all one type of rune instead of Frost, Blood and Unholy, and these generic runes all recharge individually;

Diseases: The two diseases for Blood DKs have been replaced by Blood Plague.  This both deals damage and heals the DK;

Active Mitigation: Bone Shield is now generated through a new ability called Marrowrend, while Death Strike now costs Runic Power;

New Abilities:

  •  Death’s Caress: A 30yd ranged attack that both deals Shadow damage and applies Blood Plague to the target;
  •  Gorefiend’s Grasp: This ability has been removed from the talent trees and is no a Blood only base ability.  It functions as before except for its cooldown up to 3 minutes from 1 minute;
  •  Heart Strike: This cleave attack makes its return, hitting both the target and 1 nearby enemy, slowing their movement by 50% for 8 seconds.  Additionally, this generates Runic Power.  If the DK is standing within Death and Decay, Heart Strike can hit up to 3 additional targets;
  •  Marrowrend: Single target attack that deals high amounts of damage and generates 3 charges of Bone Shield;
  •  Wraith Walk: A channeled spell that breaks Root effects, increases movement speed by 70% and makes the DK immune to all movement-impairing effects for 3 sec. Any action will cancel the effect;

Removed Abilities:


Strength > Haste > Crit > Mastery > Versatility > Stamina


  • Haste: Haste makes your runes regenerate faster.  This allows for the use of abilities more often, which increases both survivability and damage done;
  • Critical Strike: In addition to higher damage, crit also converts to parry. There are also talent choices that allow crit to increase the effectiveness of Bone Shield;
  • Mastery: Increases the amount of damage that Mastery: Blood Shield can absorb.  However, there is a cap to where mastery no longer smooths out the incoming damage;
  • Versatility: A flat damage & health increase;
  • Stamina: Obviously important, but every piece of gear will grant stamina;





Level 56:

  • Blooddrinker : Channeled ability that deals damage and restores DK health over 3 sec.  You can move, parry, dodge, and use defensive abilities while channeling this ability;
  • Bloodworms : Auto attack critical strikes have a chance to summon a Bloodworm that deals minor damage for 15 sec and then burst, healing the DK for 5% of missing health.  Dropping below 50% health, will immediately burst all Bloodworms;
  • Heartbreaker : Heart Strike generates 3 additional Runic Power per target hit;

All survivability talents, Heartbreaker is the standard talent for this tier, as the extra Runic Power is a great boost for more Death Strikes.  Blooddrinker can be useful for encounters where the DK has to move out of damaging effects, allowing them to heal with doing so, while Bloodworms can provide a small boost to DPS along with the healing effects.

Level 57:

  • Soulgorge : Consumes all Blood Plagues within 30 yards, dealing Shadow damage to each infected enemy, and empowers the DK for 24 sec with up to 15% Rune regeneration per plague. Plagues closer to expiration grant more Rune regeneration.  Also causes Blood Boil to no longer applies Blood Plague
  • Spectral Deflection : Attacks that deal more than 25% of maximum health will consume a second Bone Shield charge to further reduce the damage
  • Rapid Decomposition : Death and Decay deals damage 50% more often, and while in Death and Decay the DK generates 20% more Runic Power.

This tier offers some choices on methods of controlling passive effects.  Soulgorge allows for control over Rune regeneration, but makes the AoE rotation more complicated.  Rapid Decomposition is useful for encounters where the DK can maintain position within Death and Decay.  Spectral Deflection provides a higher spike damage survivability bonus.

Level 58:

  • Anti-Magic Barrier : Anti-Magic Shell also increases the DKs maximum health by 25% for 10 sec.
  • Blood Tap : Generates 1 Rune on use. Recharge time reduced by 1 sec whenever a Bone Shield charge is consumed.
  • Ossuary : While the DK has at least 5 Bone Shield charges, the cost of Death Strike is reduced by 5 Runic Power.  Additionally, increases maximum Runic Power by 10.

More control over survivability in this talent tier.  Anti-Magic Barrier offers some additional protection against spike damage to an existing defensive CD.  Blood Tap allows the DK a significant amount of control over Rune regeneration, allowing the player to use Runes when needed most.  Ossuary has a good deal of synergy with other talents that provide boosts and control over Runic Power generation.

Level 60:

  • Mark of Blood : Places a Mark of Blood on an enemy for 25 sec. The enemy’s damaging auto attacks will also heal their victim for 2% of maximum health.
  • Red Thirst : Spending Runic Power will decrease the remaining cooldown on Vampiric Blood by 2 sec per 10 Runic Power.
  • Tombstone : Consume all Bone Shield charges. For each charge consumed, 3 Runic Power is gained and the DK will absorb damage equal to 3% of maximum health for 8 sec.

Level 60 talents focus on choice for self-healing.  Mark of Blood is an effective damage reduction ability, allowing healing for each auto-attack from the target.  Red Thirst gives the DK the option of using Vampiric Blood more often, while Tombstone allows for the DK to turn Bone Shield into a more powerful single-use defensive cooldown.

Level 75:

  • March of the Damned : Wraith Walk lasts 50% longer and breaks stun, snare, and root effects when cast.
  • Tightening Grasp : Reduces the cooldown on Gorefiend’s Grasp by 60 sec, and Death and Decay also reduces the movement speed of enemies within its radius by 70%.
  • Tremble Before Me : Enemies damaged by Death and Decay have a chance to cower in place for 3 sec, but cannot suffer from this effect more than once per 10 sec. Damage may cancel the effect

Crowd Control is the theme for Level 70 talents.  March of the Damned allows for the breaking of CC on the DK, which increases mobility.  Tightening Grasp is an excellent talent for encounters with high number of adds, while Tremble Before Me has the potential to create passive spell interrupts on enemies within Death and Decay.

Level 90:

  • Foul Bulwark :  Each charge of Bone Shield increases your maximum health by 2%.
  • Rune Tap : Consume a Rune to reduce all damage taken by 25% for 3 sec.  Has 2 charges.
  • Will of the Necropolis : Damage taken below 35% Health is reduced by 20%

More survivability choices in this tier.  Foul Bulwark has some interesting synergy with talents like Ossuary.  Rune Tap allows the player to have another defensive CD to use with some careful Rune management, while Will of the Necropolis smooths out damage taken at low HP levels.

Level 100:

  • Blood Mirror : Afflict an enemy with Blood Mirror for 10 sec. While active, 20% of any damage dealt to you is redirected to the target
  • Bonestorm : A whirl of bone and gore batters nearby enemies every 1 sec, dealing Shadow damage every sec, and healing you for 1% of your maximum health every time it deals damage. Lasts 1 sec per 10 Runic Power spent
  • Purgatory : An unholy pact that prevents fatal damage, instead absorbing incoming healing equal to the damage prevented, lasting 3 sec.  If any healing absorption remains when this effect expires, you will die. This effect may only occur every 3 min

Three very strong talent choices at Level 100.  Blood Mirror is a great defensive CD that also provides a single target DPS increase, while Bonestorm does the same in AoE situations.  Purgatory is a free cheat death, but healers will need to be aware of the absorption effects and react accordingly.


Talent Build Options:

As with every spec and class, the Blood Death Knight talent tree allows for a lot of personal choice as to how the player would like to play his/her character.  Below are just some ideas to start off, but are by no means the ‘best’ or the ‘only’ builds:

Standard Raid:

 Heartbreaker –  Rapid Decomposition –  Blood Tap –  Red Thirst –  Tightening Grasp –  Rune Tap –  Purgatory

This is a general build that focuses on survival and player control over resources;


Passive Survival:

Bloodworms – Spectral Deflection –  Ossuary –  Mark of Blood  –  Tightening Grasp –  Will of the Necropolis – Purgatory

This build allows for newer DKs to take the easy to manage passive survival effects, allowing them to focus on the core abilities of the class without complicating the rotation;



Heartbreaker – Rapid Decomposition – Ossuary – Tombstone – Tightening Grasp – Rune Tap – Blood Mirror

Focuses on self-healing abilities and runic power regeneration to allow for more use of Death Strike;




Upon acquiring the Maw of the Damned, the DK obtains two abilities, one passive and one active:

 The Maw Must Feed: after killing a non-elite humanoid or demon, you receive a 30-second buff granting 1% increased damage. Stacks to 10.

Consumption:  Strikes all enemies in front of you with a hungering attack that deals 250% Physical damage and heals you for 100% of that damage.

This guide will be updated with trait descriptions and paths closer to the Legion launch.



The goal of play for a Blood Death Knight is to properly manage both Runes and Runic Power in order to effectively survive while tanking.  In addition to watching resources, the Blood DK must keep track of ensuring that Blood Plague is maintained on all targets, and that Bone Shield is maintained, usually to 5 stacks.





Defensive Abilities:

  • Death Strike: This active mitigation ability allows the Death Knight to both heal himself as well as create an absorb shield through  Mastery: Blood Shield.  While trying to keep the shield up is a bonus, Death Strike should be looked at first as a healing ability.  Try not to use this when at or near full health.
  • Bone Shield: The other active mitigation ability, this is the most important ability to maintain during any encounter, as it not only grants 10% haste, but also a 20% reduction of damage taken.

Survival Cooldowns:

  •  Dancing Rune Weapon: Summons a rune weapon for 8 sec that mirrors melee attacks and grants 40% parry chance.  3 min CD.  Use this CD on large incoming damage spikes that can be avoided;
  •  Vampiric Blood:  Increases maximum health by 30% and all healing received by 30% for 10 sec.  1.5 min CD.  This has two main uses.  It can be used prior to a heavy hit to increase the max health, or it can be used after a large attack to allow for healing.
  •  Anti-Magic Shell: Surrounds an Anti-Magic Shell for 5 sec, absorbing up a set amount of magic damage and preventing application of harmful magical effects. Damage absorbed generates Runic Power.  Obviously, use this at times of high magic-based damage