Death Knights Endgame Tanking

Cookie-Cutter Tanking Builds and Associated Tanking Rotations

*Build Disclaimer* This class is great in that we have a wealth of valuable talents in each tree. I am very aware that there are several viable variations of any build linked here, and that some are better that others relative to the encounter. The heading of this section describes the builds here appropriately as cookie-cutter. Feel free to modify them to suite your needs. However these builds are what I consider to be the best builds representing the respective trees. Your mileage may vary.

Important: No rotation is perfect and usable in all situations. Good DK tanking requires dynamic rotations and quick responses to changes in encounters. However, in an unrealistically static encounter where all attacks land, there are intelligent rotations. Additionally, these builds do not include RP dumps. It is assumed that you are Rune Striking whenever possible and not allowing yourself to reach maximum RP by using your tree’s RP dump.

Cheap WoW WOTLK Classic Gold

Glyph of Icebound Fortitude is not listed as a recommended Glyph for any build. Feel free to substitute it as you see fit.


This section is largely incomplete. I have limited Blood raiding experience as I still believe it to be inferior to the other trees.

Blood is still under scrutiny, as it is the newest tree to become a viable tanking option. This will be updated the most in the coming weeks, so check back frequently as information here is subject to change dramatically.

Blood Strengths

  • Single-Target Threat – roughly comparable to Frost ST threat (see weaknesses)
  • Effective Health – capable of the highest effective health of any deep-tree build
  • Expertise – capable of the most reasonably-attained expertise via talents
  • Nice Raid Buffs – Blood Aura, Abom’s Might, Hysteria

Blood Weaknesses

  • Dependency on debuffs for threat – Sunder/Expose armor. Less of an issue on 25-man raids than 5/10-man
  • AOE Threat – Very inferior to the other trees
  • Proactive damage mitigation – No Bone Shield, UA, etc.

Blood Builds (includes recommended glyphs)

Standard (+3DS) – This build is excellent for tanking 3-drake Sarth, and doesn’t require regular respecs to do it.
Single Target Rotation – IT-PS-OB-HS-HS OB-HS-HS-HS-HS RPDUMP = RS/Deathcoil
Multi Target Rotation – DnD-IT-PS-Pest then TAB-HS/Pest/BloodBoil RPDUMP = RS/Deathcoil

Evaluating additional Blood builds.


My favorite tree.

Frost Strengths

  • Arguably best in ST threat (at worst tied with blood)
  • Damage reduction – Frigid Deathplate, UA, GoG, Lichborne, yum.
  • AoE Threat. Capable of out-AoE’ing Unholy with a string of KM/HB procs. Less reliable, more exciting.

Frost Weaknesses

  • No real raid utility. If not specd into IIT, you don’t buff your raid.

Frost Builds (includes recommended glyphs)

Single Target Rotation – IT-BS-OB-(Blood Tap if no Death Rune)OB RPDUMP = RS/FS
Alt-Single Target Rotation – IT-PS-BS-BS-OB OB-OB-OB RPDUMP = RS/FS
Multi Target Rotation – DnD-IT-PS-Pest then TAB-HB/Pest/BloodBoil RPDUMP = RS/FS

Improved Icy Talons
Single Target Rotation – IT-PS-BS-BS-OB OB-OB-OB RPDUMP = RS/FS
Multi Target Rotation – DnD-IT-PS-Pest then TAB-HB/Pest/BloodBoil RPDUMP = RS/FS


My most familiar tree. Provides more utility and raid buffs than Frost, and more AOE threat than Blood. I consider it our strongest tanking tree all around.

Unholy Strengths

  • Best reliable AoE Threat – Unholy Blight/Wandering Plague/Impurity
  • Damage reduction – Bone Shield and (situationally) Anti-Magic Zone..
  • Raid Buffs – Unholy Aura and Ebon Plaguebringer are fantastic.

Unholy Weaknesses

  • Low(er) ST threat – Still enough, but certainly the lowest of the 3 trees.
  • EP doesn’t stack – Either your threat or your Unholy DPS DK’s damage will be adversely affected by the fact that both of you cannot keep the debuff on 100% of the time.

Unholy Builds (includes recommended glyphs)

Single Target Rotation – IT-PS-BS-BS-SS SS-SS-SS RPDUMP = RS/UnholyBlight/Deathcoil
Multi Target Rotation – DnD-IT-PS-Pest-UnholyBlight then TAB-OSS/Pest/BloodBoil RPDUMP = RS/Deathcoil

3DS Build
Single Target Rotation – IT-PS-BS-BS-IT-PS RPDUMP = RS/Deathcoil

Related Articles