A Ret Paladin’s Guide To DK DPS (Blood)

I have been spending a lot of time on my DK lately, and since it is the toon most likely to be an alt at 80, (since it starts out at 50 instead of 0), I thought I would post a bit of info on DK DPS.  Because the world is full of fail DK’s, internets, I don’t want you to be one of them.  It can be confusing playing a DK.  If you read the tootips, instead of saying things like “Does xxx damage” it says “does 80% of MH damage, + x% for each disease on the target.”  And sometimes, you talent and glyph a spell, which you would think would be inferior, and it actually becomes part of your rotation.

Sorting Out The Specs

So, while I was leveling my DK through Outlands, I just played around (which is why it probably took a lot longer than it should have to pass through outlands).  Some that were cookie cutter, some that were my own invention.

It’s important to note, Blizz says that every tree should be able to tank, and every tree should be able to DPS.  As such, each tree must be sorted through really closely to make sure that you aren’t taking tanking talents.

Frost DK’s are probably the most analogous to a Ret Paladin play style, in the fact that there is really no rotation.  Frost is very reactive – you have to wait until the target has different debuffs/buffs before you activate your skills.  Coming from a FCFS rotation, this is probably going to feel very familiar.  However, you MUST not fall into the trap of just randomly whacking things.  Watch your buffs, and you will do OK.

Unholy DK’s, ill be honest, I couldn’t get the rotation down.  I had to peruse EJ forums to finally get it.  And I really don’t like it.  Coming from a “facerolling” class (which I completely disagree), this spec really felt like facerolling to me.

However, Blood does not.  It is nothing like a Ret Pally.  Let me explain.

The Rotation

Blood DK’s are all about “the setup.”  Each button you press not only does damage, but sets the whole rotation up.  However, it comes with risk, and tradeoff.  Blood DK’s are pretty darned useless in AoE situations.  They are extremely good at single target.  This is a complete turnaround coming from ret, who are aoe powerhouses.

The rotation goes a bit like this:

Icy Touch (sets in frost fever for your later strikes)

Plague Strike (sets in blood plague for later strikes)

Heart Strike x2 (Heart strike is the big blood tree talent.  It is your major source of dps – does moderate damage and sets up cooldowns for later)

Death Strike (takes your last two runes and turns them into death runes for later use)

Then we get to the point in the rotation called the “dump” phase.  The Dump phase simply is casting as many Deathcoils as you can (that time and runic power permits), before your next strike comes out of cooldown.

Death Strike (takes your last frost and unholy runes and drops them into death runes)

Heart Strike x4 (this is your major major dps burst.  Heart strike is going to dole out lots of damage – especially if it crits)

This end stage is where how you specced comes into play.  If you do not have the unholy talents to increase your plague duration, then you wont get those 4 heart strikes in, there is no time.  You will be higher dps to go back to the start and restart your rotation.

If you did spec that way, then all of your runes should be on cooldown.  This is your second dump phase.

The thing about blood is that your strikes are always going to do more damage than your deathcoils, so you will always always jump out of your dump phase as soon as your runes are off of cooldown.  Don’t worry about wasting runic power.  If you have some amount of latency (like I do), then chances are you may not even have dump phases.

Here comes the pitfalls though, because each rotation needs to have them to weed out the goods from the bads – if you make a mistake and hit the wrong button (maybe you tapped the Icy Touch button once to many times), it will REALLY penalize your DPS.  A single mistake, at best, requires very skilled play to recover from, hitting the right talents at exactly the right time.  At worst it requires you to simply drop the rest of your rotation, enter your final dump phase (if you have any runic power to drop deathcoils at this point) and wait for ALL of your runes to come off of cooldown, and start again from scratch.  Just like I keep telling you about the ret rotation, the blood rotation must have your full attention in order to play correctly.

Burst, Burst, Burst

Blood is all about the single target burst.  Right now, at lvl 74, my little DK does about 900-1k dps sustained.  However, with everything popped, I can easily break 1.8-2k dps on a boss.  Blood, more than any other spec, is about the buttons you push to power up your dps.

Blood’s major talent, all the way at the end of the tree, is Dancing rune weapon.  Basically its a clone of your weapon that will do 50% of the damage you do for so many seconds.

The second talent it has is Hysteria.  It increases the pysical damage done of target player (usually you, unelss in a raid setting) by 20% for its duration.  Coupled with the unholy talent that will cause all auto attacks (which are physical) to do additional shadow damage, and its a really good DPS boost.

This is not to mention any trinkets you have.

Setting Up Rune Weapon Properly

Because of the way that the rune weapon is programmed, it acts off of an entirely separate plague table.  That means if you unleash the weapon in the middle of the rotation, its only doing a fraction of what it can do, because it does not have access to the plagues you do.

For that reason, I tend to go through one whole rotation before I launch the weapon.  I simply skip the second dump phase so that I have enough runic power to pop it.

For your major DPS phase, you will want to cast your runic weapon, drop you histeria, pop trinkets, then start your rotation from the beginning.  You can use a haste pot as well, which will get you an auto attack or two more before your burn phase ends, but rember that DK’s are reliant on the rune cooldowns, so haste is really not going to benefit you nearly as much as another class.  I daresay that you can even skip over the haste pot if you would like, its not going to be any significant fraction of your dps.

Wow.com did a guide recently, that tells you how you can spec and glyph.  Its a great article, but I felt it really missed the nuances of the blood spec. I won’t rehash some of that stuff. Remember, everything about blood is a set up.  Don’t goof it up.  It isn’t as forgiving as the ret spec, not by far.

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