Tag Archives: Tanking

Paladin Leveling: 70-85 Protection

Here we are now in the final stretch, finishing up Wrath content and both starting and finishing Cataclysm leveling content as you prepare for your gear and reputation grinds as you strive to get your gear improved enough for heroics and eventually raids as well.

This guide will get you all the way to the level cap so you’ll have all of your spells and talents available to you at the end of this. If you aren’t already familiar with your various cooldowns and buffs, then now is the time to learn them. Go queue yourself up for a random dungeon and make a point of using all of your cooldowns at some point. If you’re still under level 81 then queue for Wrath dungeons so that you don’t have to worry about new mechanics just yet, and focus on learning how and when to use the spells you may have been ignoring up to this point.

As always, remember that my guides are focused on getting you leveled up. I’m not here to get you ready for raiding, that’s for other bloggers who focus specifically on certain classes and the raiding aspect of the game.

Playing a Protection Paladin
So now you’re in Northrend level content and moving up towards Cataclysm content and the level cap. As far as playing your Prot Pally goes there’s not much difference at all, save that Northrend mobs are harder than Outlands mobs and Cataclysm mobs are harder than Northrend mobs. You can still do big AoE pulls in all the content you’ll level through in this range, though I suggest you go back to starting with small pulls of 2-4 until you get a feel for the mobs and then work your way up to bigger groups.

Questing as Prot is both simple and effective. Keep on doing what you’ve been doing the whole time, keep an eye on your health when you enter new areas so you know what to expect in the way of healing and pulling, but otherwise just have at it.

If you’re looking for specs, rotations, gear guides, and so forth for getting into heroics and raids, then I direct you to Righteous Defense, a blog written by my buddy @Rhidach, who I consider my go-to source for end game Paladin information.

Protection-Specific Tips
I don’t have much in the way of specific tips for you in this level range other than I love taking advantage of kill quests to use my AoE. I didn’t have any trouble at all with Northrend group quests until I got to the last couple of levels in Northrend, there’s one Group 5 quest in Ice Crown that I couldn’t handle at 78. Not a big deal, I just skipped it and went on to other quests.

As you get into Cataclysm you’ll notice a big jump in how powerful mobs are compared to how relatively weak your gear is if you’re leveling straight through and weren’t raiding in Wrath before. While not specific to Prot, I suggest you check the Auction House or your crafting alts to get yourself some Cataclysm gear from level 78 on. Get yourself a new set of armor, a new weapon, and a new shield. You should be able to get a couple of rings and a neck for fairly cheap since Jewelcrafters mass produce them to level their profession. A good weapon and shield are probably going to cost you a couple hundred gold each, but it’ll be worth it.

Important Spells & Abilities

Level 70-85:

  • Avenging Wrath: Increases all damage and healing caused by 20% for 20 sec.
  • Resistance Aura: Gives additional Fire, Frost and Shadow resistance to all party and raid members within 40 yards. Players may only have one Aura on them per Paladin at any one time.
  • Turn Evil: The targeted undead or demon enemy will be compelled to flee for up to 20 sec. Damage caused may interrupt the effect. Only one target can be turned at a time.
  • Hand of Sacrifice: Places a Hand on the party or raid member, transfering 30% damage taken to the caster. Lasts 12 sec or until the caster has transfered 100% of their maximum health. Players may only have one Hand on them per Paladin at any one time.
  • Mastery: Divine Bulwark: Increases your chance to block melee attacks by 18%. Each point of Mastery increases block chance by an additional 2.25%.
  • Inquisition: Consumes all Holy Power to increase your Holy Damage by 30%. Lasts 4 sec per charge of Holy Power consumed.
  • Divine Radiance: Heals all friendly targets within 0 yards for up to 683 every sec, with effectiveness diminishing on targets farther than 8 yards away and for each additional player target beyond 6. Lasts 10 sec.
  • Guardian of Ancient Kings: Summons an Ancient Guardian who reduces all damage taken by 50% for 12 seconds.

Avenging Wrath, at level 72, is what gives your Paladin their “wings”. It’s a flat 20% increase in damage and healing that you do. It’s a great buff and you should use it whenever you have the opportunity to do so, whether you’re solo questing or tanking.

Level 76 gives you Resistance Aura which is a pretty decent buff when used at the right now. If you’re in a situation where you’re going to take elemental damage and you don’t particularly need any of your other auras, then you might as well use this one. If you aren’t taking significant elemental damage though, I wouldn’t bother with it. As Protection Paladins we can take a melee style beating for days and just keep right on going, but we have very little resistance to Magic damage, so if you find yourself facing a lot of casters it might be a good idea to switch this baby on for a bit.

At level 78 you’re able to send the fear of righteousness into undead and demons thanks to Turn Evil. It’s a fear spell that can only target Undead and Demons, but at least it’s somewhat reliable CC when it can be used. There aren’t a whole lot of undead in Cataclysm, but there are some demons hanging around here and there. Honestly I only use this in AoE situations so that I can get a mob to socially agro his buddies for me. I leave the CC to other classes when I’m tanking.

At level 80 you get both Hand of Sacrifice and access to your Mastery, Divine Bulwark. Hand of Sacrifice is a great spell for saving the lives of your teammates by taking 30% of the damage they deal and directing it to yourself instead. The only time I cast this as a tank is when my healer is taking damage and my taunts are on cooldown. I use this a lot more during the rare moments I’m in a spec other than Prot. We make great use of our Mastery stat.

Level 81 sends in the (Spanish) Inquisition, our final method of burning Holy Power, this time to increase our Holy Damage. I’m not going to lie to you, I forget this thing exists constantly. It seems to me it’s more of a DPS spell, though it could of course be used for tanking as well. I generally don’t bother with it, but that’s me.

Level 83 brings Holy Radiance which is an AoE heal centered on you that heals for more the closer they are to you. I actually like using this as Prot, even though it’s a heal and my heals typically suck. It’s something I can cast during combat to add a little buffer to myself and the other melee DPS. When I talk about the 939 rotation down below, this is one of those spells I fit into a 9-slot that doesn’t typically belong there.

And finally, level 85 gives us Guardian of Ancient Kings, a spell that has a different effect based on your spec. For Prot that means we get 50% damage reduction for 12 seconds. It’s a great way to mitigate some damage and ease up the load on your healers, or to add some more survivability when you’re solo grinding large packs of mobs.

Leveling a Protection Paladin
Buffs List: Righteous Fury, Seal of Insight/Truth, Blessing of Might/Kings, Retribution/Devotion Aura
Multi-Target Rotation: Avenger’s Shield, Hammer of the Righteous, Holy Wrath, Hammer of the Righteous, Judgement, Hammer of the Righteous
Single-Target Rotation: Exorcism, Avenger’s Shield, Crusader Strike, Judgement, Crusader Strike, Holy Wrath, Crusader Strike, Shield of the Righteous
Boss Rotation 1: Avenger’s Shield, Judgement, Divine Plea, Shield of the Righteous, Crusader Strike, Holy Wrath, Crusader Strike, Judgement, Crusader Strike, Shield of the Righteous
Boss Rotation 2: Divine Plea, Shield of the Righteous, Crusader Strike, Judgement, Avenger’s Shield, Consecrate, Holy Wrath, “939”

The Buffs List contains the buffs you should have up at all times. You’ll notice that most of those have a This/That option as well. I tend to use Seal of Insight at all times while I’m leveling. Most mobs aren’t going to live long enough to make SoTruth worth it, and it’s better to keep your life and mana topped off instead. For Blessings I generally use Might when soloing and Kings when I’m in a group or a Battle Ground. The Aura is up to you, though I lean towards Retribution unless I’m taking a ton of damage.

The reason why the Boss Rotation 1 changes from everything else we’re doing is because you want to start off as strong as possible on the threat front. This is my own preference for boss fights, it’s how I like to handle them. Avenger’s Shield and Judgement give you a decent start on threat but the real kicker is using Divine Plea which your talents trigger to give you 3 Holy Power and Shield of the Righteousness burns those three for a big burst of threat as well. Doing this should put you far enough ahead of all your DPS that you won’t have to worry about them pulling off of you. Also, if you have your Avenger’s Shield cooldown reset from your talent procs go ahead and fit it in whenever you have a moment to do so.

Boss Rotation 2 brings up the mysterious Paladin rotation known as 939. Prior to 939 you’re building up your threat with various cooldowns and then settling into the 939 rotation. See the following section for details on what 939 is, and how to use it.

Understanding the 939 Rotation
939 – Those numbers more or less represent the cooldowns of your spells. The 9’s represent your longer cooldown attacks while the 3’s always represent Crusader Strike (single target) or Hammer of the Righteous (AoE). So the basic idea to do Special Attack > Crusader Strike > Special Attack, and repeat that over and over. That’s why Paladins are “so easy” to tank with, because they have a literal rotation and it’s easy to follow.

The easy part of 939 is remembering that you’re going to use Crusader Strike or Hammer of Righteousness every time they’re off cooldown, which will end up being every-other attack.

The “hard” part, which really isn’t hard, is remembering when to use your 9’s, which are all of your other special attacks. On one hand you could say to just use whatever happens to not be on cooldown and you’ll probably do just fine while you’re leveling. But the key to making 939 work, and work well, is knowing the priority of your 9’s.

Before you learn their priority, you probably need to know what the 9’s are: Judgement, Avenger’s Shield, Holy Wrath, and Shield of the Righteous. There are also a couple of spells that can fill the 9’s slot that don’t have a dedicated place in the rotation and instead are used as needed in a 9 slot: Word of Glory, Consecration, Hammer of Wrath, Hammer of Justice, and Rebuke.

Priority of 9’s: Shield of the Righteous (only with 3 Holy Power), Judgement, [Exception*], Avenger’s Shield, Consecration, Holy Wrath

Shield of the Righteous takes the top spot because if you don’t use it when you’re sitting at 3 Holy Power then you’re going to waste Holy Power with the next Crusader/Hammer cast that you make unless you throw off your whole rotation. Judgement provides you with a lot of different beneficial effects, so use it when you can to reap the benefits.

The [Exception*] is when the target is below 20% health. In those situations Hammer of Wrath takes a priority slot right behind Judgement. If you don’t have 3 Holy Power yet and Judgement isn’t on cooldown, cast Hammer of Wrath before all the others.

Avenger’s Shield, Consecration, and Holy Wrath fill out the remainder of the priority list. I’m not a big fan of Consecration in this expansion, so I usually leave it out completely, but that’s just me.

The other spells I mentioned being able to fill your 9’s slots with are all situational. You won’t necessarily be able to fit in a Hammer of Justice or Rebuke cast on the 9 slot as interrupts are usually needed right now instead of whenever it’s convenient for you, and if you’re in desperate need of a Word of Glory heal then of course you need it when you need it.

Talent Spec: Protection 85

  • Improved Judgement 2/2: Increases the range of your Judgement by 20 yards.
  • Crusade 3/3: Increases the damage of your Crusader Strike, Hammer of the Righteous, and Templar’s Verdict by 30%, and the damage and healing of your Holy Shock by 30%. In addition, for 15 sec after you kill an enemy that yields experience or honor, your next Holy Light heals for an additional 300%.
  • Pursuit of Justice 2/2: You have a 100% chance to gain a charge of Holy Power when struck by a Stun, Fear or Immobilize effect. In addition, increases your movement and mounted movement speed by 15%. This effect does not stack with other movement speed increasing effects.
  • Rule of Law 3/3: Increases the critical effect chance of your Crusader Strike, Hammer of the Righteous and Word of Glory by 15%.

I like to take Improved Judgement as my first point outside of the Prot tree. It’s great for pulling additional mobs, patrols, or adds when you don’t have a taunt handy (or want to save it), and for having more to do while you’re rushing in on a boss. It’s not required, but I like it a lot personally. Switching these points to Eye for an Eye would be a decent alternative I imagine.

Crusade is a flat damage increase of 30% to two of our most frequently used spells: Crusader Strike and Hammer of the Righteous. I also like it for the 300% healing from Holy Light after you kill an honor/experience target so that I can easily top off after a big pull with a single, cheap heal.

Pursuit of Justice is a great little talent. First it gives free Holy Power when you’re stunned, feared, or immobilized and then it has the added benefit of increasing your movement speed by 15% on top of it. Increasing your speed from talents frees up an enchant slot on your boots too.

We finish off our talent points with Rule of Law, increasing the crit chance of three of our most common spells.

Again, I want to point out that my guides are here to help you level your toon, not necessarily to get your ready for raiding and farming heroics. If you want to get serious about end game content then you’re much better off looking at someone who’s focused on end game. I level, it’s what I do, and I can help you with that just fine, but end game is not my strong point.

All of your glyph slots will be open to you as of level 75, so you’ve now got 3 of each type to fill. Glyphs are listed in the order I would suggest you take them from a leveling perspective.


Now that all of our glyph slots are open, it’s time to fill them up with the good stuff. I list these in the order I suggest that you take them.


Again, I list these in the order I suggest you take them. One glyph that might stand out as an oddity to you is the Glyph of Lay on Hands. I mention it solely because of the mana issues that many people are having right now, especially healers. Lay on Hands restores a lot of health, but it also restores some mana to the target as well, and being able to use this on a healer who’s out of mana can be the difference between a loot roll and a corpse run.


Paladin minor glyphs are crap. We get six glyphs that all do exactly the same thing, reducing mana cost of their respective spells by 50%. Grab the three you cast most often and go with it.

Gearing Up as Protection
As a melee class we’re looking for stats that impact our melee performance such as Strength, Attack Power, Hit, Crit and Haste. As a tank though, you also want to look for survival stats such as Stamina, Dodge and Parry.

Stat Priority: Strength and Stamina, Mastery, Dodge and Parry, Other melee stuff

Use that as a general guide for your stats. If you’re looking to get geared up for heroics and raids then I suggest you do a little more research elsewhere to find the actual stat weights.


Posted by on February 16, 2011 in Class, Guide, Leveling, Melee, Paladin


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Paladin Leveling: 50-69 Protection

Now it’s time for our next-to-last guide on leveling your Protection Paladins. This time we’re going to finish up Vanilla, blow through the Burning Crusade content, and get started the Wrath of the Lich King content as well.

Up to this point you have all of the primary tools required for tanking, though you’re still missing some of your defensive cooldowns. At the end of this guide you’ll also have those cooldowns that you’re missing and you’ll finally reach the final talent point in your tree, allowing you to finally be able to branch out into the Holy and Retribution trees.

Playing a Protection Paladin
There’s not much change at all in how you play your Paladin in this level range compared to how you played it in the last. You now have both of your Holy Power generating attacks as well as both of the spells you’ll primarily dump your HP into to use. You’ve got all the tools you need to be an AoE grinding fiend, and you’re virtually immortal so long as you don’t over-pull.

While you’re getting ready to go to Outlands at level 58 I suggest you go ahead and start testing those boundaries to see just how far you can go. Pull five or six mobs and see how you do. Any problems? If so, then you know that your limit is below that. If not, then go pull a couple more and see if you can still survive it. Keep on doing this until you find out where your boundaries are so that you don’t find yourself in situations that you can’t handle. Know your strengths, and utilize them.

As you move into Outlands itself you’re going to end up in a gear reset though, so be prepared to get hit harder once you get there and likely you’ll find you can’t pull nearly as many mobs as you could in Vanilla. Well, not until you get your gear upgraded at least. Once you’ve got the gear upgrades you can start finding those boundaries again.

Prot Paladins truly are a power trip. You have some of the best defenses the game has to offer coupled with some incredible healing and survivability skills, and great damage thrown in as well. You’re not going to kill things as fast as a DPS character will, but you’ll kill more things in shorter time than they could. You also excel in areas filled with Undead or Demon mobs, which is what much of Outlands is all about.

Protection-Specific Tips
The first thing you need to know about this level range is that level 50 opens up your Plate Specialization. Since you’ve chosen the Protection spec, this means that you get a 5% bonus to your Stamina for wearing Plate armor in all of your armor slots, so make sure you’re not still carrying around any Mail pieces that might have been left over; upgrade them as soon as possible. You can probably drop under 50g on the auction house to replace any Mail pieces that you’re still holding onto.

The next thing you need to know is that at level 62 you get access to Crusader Aura which increases your mounted speed by 20%. You’re probably going to have this ability turned on all the time when you’re out running around the world, especially if you have a gathering profession. But remember, you can only have one aura active at a time and having this active while running dungeons is a complete waste. So don’t be a nubcake by leaving your Crusader Aura on or else you’ll make me a sad panda, and I don’t want to be a sad panda. :(

Important Spells & Abilities
There are a lot of spells and abilities that come with being a Paladin, but I’m going to try to keep it simple and limited to only the most important ones for a Protection spec. There are other spells that you’ll get in this level range as well, I leave them out only because I do not find them critical to playing a Prot Paladin.

Level 50-69:

  • Hand of Freedom: Places a Hand on the friendly target, granting immunity to movement impairing effects for 6 sec. Players may only have one Hand on them per Paladin at any one time.
  • Blessing of Might: Places a Blessing on the friendly target, increasing attack power by 10% and restoring 326 mana every 5 seconds for 1 hour. If target is in your party or raid, all party and raid members will be affected. Players may only have one Blessing on them per Paladin at any one time.
  • Crusader Aura: Increases the mounted speed by 20% for all party and raid members within 40 yards. Players may only have one Aura on them per Paladin at any one time. This does not stack with other movement speed increasing effects.
  • Hand of Salvation: Places a Hand on the party or raid member, reducing their total threat by 2% every 1 sec for 10 sec. Players may only have one Hand on them per Paladin at any one time.

Hand of Freedom is by no means a critical spell, unless you’re a big fan of PvP. However, there are going to be some mobs that start to use some slowing effects on you in this level range were before it was very rare. If you find yourself slowed or rooted in place, then this is the spell that you use to free yourself (or another friendly target). I use this a lot when I’m body pulling several mobs for an AoE grind, especially when there are casters using Frost spells on me.

Blessing of Might is our second blessing. Generally speaking I like to use Might when I’m soloing, and Kings when I’m in a group (unless there’s a Druid in the group, then I’ll Might). It’s an Attack Power buff and it also restores mana, making it a very useful buff, especially when you don’t have any DPS there to provide you with extra firepower.

Crusader Aura, like I mentioned above, is a fantastic buff that gives you an extra 20% mounted movement speed, which makes Paladin an excellent gathering class, and that movement is very useful when you’re leveling by cutting down your travel time between questing hubs and locations. Just don’t forget to turn it off when you’re in dungeons since it does nothing for you there.

Hand of Salvation is a spell that you need to get familiar with as soon as you get it. It reduces threat over time of the target you cast it on, lowering their threat by 2% every second up to a maximum of 20%. If you see someone getting close to you on threat then you want to cast this on them early to be sure they don’t steal it from you. If you’re in a dungeon and you find someone who’s consistently pulling threat, just get used to casting this on them before it becomes an issue each time. Different classes build threat at different speeds so it’s hard for me to tell you when to cast it, so just pay attention and adjust as needed. If they’re stealing it early then cast it right when they start to become an issue, if it takes them a few moments to get it then cast it at the end of your rotation or something to knock them down before it becomes an issue.

Leveling a Protection Paladin
Buffs List: Righteous Fury, Seal of Insight/Truth, Blessing of Might/Kings, Retribution/Devotion Aura
Multi-Target Rotation: Avenger’s Shield, Hammer of the Righteous, Holy Wrath, Hammer of the Righteous, Judgement, Hammer of the Righteous
Single-Target Rotation: Exorcism, Avenger’s Shield, Crusader Strike, Judgement, Crusader Strike, Holy Wrath, Crusader Strike, Shield of the Righteous
Boss Rotation: Avenger’s Shield, Judgement, Divine Plea, Shield of the Righteous, Crusader Strike, Holy Wrath, Crusader Strike, Judgement, Crusader Strike, Shield of the Righteous

Not much change here except that I’ve added in the Boss Rotation and the Buffs List.

The Buffs List contains the buffs you should have up at all times. You’ll notice that most of those have a This/That option as well. I tend to use Seal of Insight at all times while I’m leveling. Most mobs aren’t going to live long enough to make SoTruth worth it, and it’s better to keep your life and mana topped off instead. For Blessings I generally use Might when soloing and Kings when I’m in a group or a Battle Ground. The Aura is up to you, though I lean towards Retribution unless I’m taking a ton of damage.

The reason why the boss rotation changes from everything else were doing is because you want to start off as strong as possible on the threat front. Avenger’s Shield and Judgement give you a decent start on threat but the real kicker is using Divine Plea which your talents trigger to give you 3 Holy Power and Shield of the Righteousness burns those three for a big burst of threat as well. Doing this should put you far enough ahead of all your DPS that you won’t have to worry about them pulling off of you. Also, if you have your Avenger’s Shield cooldown reset from your talent procs go ahead and fit it in whenever you have a moment to do so.

Talent Spec: Protection 69

  • Vindication 1/1: Your Crusader Strike and Hammer of the Righteous reduce physical damage done by their primary targets by 10% for 30 sec. In addition, your Hammer of Justice will interrupt creatures that are immune to stuns.
  • Guarded by the Light 2/2: Increases your Word of Glory by 10% when used to heal yourself, and allows your Word of Glory to grant Holy Shield. In addition, any overhealing will create a protective shield equal to the amount of overhealing that lasts for 6 sec.
  • Reckoning (+1) 2/2: You have a 20% chance after blocking an attack for your next 4 weapon swings within 8 sec to generate an additional attack.
  • Shield of the Templar 3/3: Reduces the cooldown of Avenging Wrath by 60 sec and Guardian of Ancient Kings by 120 sec. In addition, your Divine Plea will generate 3 Holy Power.
  • Sacred Duty 2/2: Your Judgements have a 50% chance of making your next Shield of the Righteous a critical strike. Lasts 15 sec.
  • Ardent Defender 1/1: Reduce damage taken by 20% for 10 sec. While Ardent Defender is active, the next attack that would otherwise kill you will instead cause you to be healed for 15% of your maximum health.

Vindication reduces the damage we take from the primary target of our CS and HotR attacks by 10%. It also turns Hammer of Justice into a spell interrupt for us to use against targets that are immune to stuns, which are typically elites and dungeon bosses, but also some mob types who are generally immune to stun as well. The main thing though is the damage reduction.

Guarded by the Light is another great defensive tool, increasing the healing we receive from Word of Glory and also allowing WoG to proc Holy Shield for us, so that we can get the defensive buff from HS even when we’re in AoE grinding mode and spending our HP on heals rather than single target DPS from Shield of the Righteous. It also has the added benefit of providing us with a bubble whenever we overheal ourselves with Word of Glory, allowing us to dump HP for addition defense in cases where WoG heals you to full but your other talents make that WoG cast cost no HP, you can cast it again to get a bubble if you need one.

Reckoning we already had one point in, and now we’ve just finished it off. It’s purely a Threat/DPS increase, giving us a chance to get free melee attacks after we block an enemy attack. The best way to (ab)use this talent is by fighting multiple melee mobs at once, so always strive to do so when it’s convenient.

Shield of the Templar reduces some cooldowns that we don’t even have yet which is kind of wasted for right now, but it also provides us with 3 Holy Power instantly when we cast Divine Plea. You can either turn that into an “oh crap-heal!” opportunity to get a full powered WoG cast (or as a bubble from the talent above), or you can use it offensively by popping Divine Plea before you rush in to attack a boss and start the encounter off with a full powered Shield of the Righteous (see the Boss Rotation in the section above).

Sacred Duty is another potential Threat/DPS increase. Every time you cast Judgement on the target you have a 50% chance to ensure your next Shield of the Righteous is a critical strike. The buff lasts for 15 seconds, so if you’re about to cast SHoR and your Judgement is off cooldown, but you don’t have a Sacred Duty proc, start with the Judgement cast first for a chance to score a free crit with your most damaging spell.

Ardent Defender is purely a defensive cooldown. You want to use it when you think you’re about to die. It provides a 20% damage reduction so it’s good to cast at any time, but it’s best used when you really are going to die because it will stop you from dying and instead heal you back up to 15% of your maximum health. If I’m going down I try to pop this when I know I’m a few seconds away from dying and I’ll follow up the Ardent Defender heal when I “die” with either a Lay on Hands for a full heal, or a Divine Plea-fueled Word of Glory heal to try to get myself back on my feat as best I can.

Now that we have access to two of each glyph slot I’m going to include a third option for you to choose from in each category. Glyphs are listed in the order I would suggest you take them.


Now that you have two slots to fill you need to decide which two are going to be the best for you. I suggest Hammer of the Righteous no matter what. Of the other two I suggest Shield of the Righteous if you’re going to do a lot of dungeon running, and Crusader Strike if you’re more focused on solo questing.


Dazing Shield is the one I suggest you get first as it has the most potential for being useful. Holy Wrath is a close second since you’re going to start running into more Dragonkin and especially Elementals as you continue on. As I’ve said before, Consecration is quickly becoming a thing of the past, so I’m not too fond of it. As my 85 Prot Paladin is currently AoE grinding the crap out of mobs left and right I’m actually using it more and more, but that’s really the only situation where it’s a big deal. Pick up Dazing Shield and then go with whichever of the other two appeals to you more, or pick another one that I didn’t mention if you don’t like the sound of either.


Pick two and go with it. Since seals only have a 30 minute duration where Blessings are 60 minutes, I suggest you take that as one of them just because you’ll cast it more often, but otherwise it really doesn’t matter.

Protection Macros
Only one new glyph this time, and it’s up to you whether or not you use it.

/castsequence reset=10 Judgement, Divine Plea, Shield of the Righteous

This macro is one I use when I’m charging in on a boss. Rather than pressing all the buttons I need to cast the spells individually, I just spam this one while I’m running in to face the boss until SHoR goes off. I’ve played around a bit with adding Avenger’s Shield either before or after Judgement, but I prefer to just have it off on it’s own to add it in when I want it or leave it out otherwise.

The idea here is to use Judgement hoping for a Sacred Duty proc to force SHoR to be a crit, then using Divine Plea to get 3 Holy Power for free, and following that up with the actual SHoR cast. It’s the single best way to establish threat on a boss early on. The only thing you can do to improve it is to throw Avenger’s Shield into the mix as I said, though I’d probably start off with it and then spam this one. Whether or not you need that much threat starting off is something you’ll have to decide on your own.

I only use this on bosses though, as it’s not really needed during trash pulls or when soloing.

Gearing Up as Protection
As a melee class we’re looking for stats that impact our melee performance such as Strength, Attack Power, Hit, Crit and Haste. As a tank though, you also want to look for survival stats such as Stamina, Dodge and Parry.

Stat Priority: Strength and Stamina, Dodge and Parry, Other melee stuff

In short, we’re going to stack Strength and Stamina first and foremost, followed by our avoidance stats of Dodge and Parry, and then on to any other DPS stats (attack power, hit, crit, haste, etc). Most of the stats that you want to cap at end game are still rare for us to find even in Outlands (though not as bad as Vanilla was), so this is really all you need to watch out for for the time being.


Posted by on February 1, 2011 in Class, Guide, Leveling, Melee, Paladin


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Paladin Leveling: Protection 30-49

Today we’re going to take the next step in leveling a Prot Paladin, moving through most of the remaining (revamped) vanilla content and pushing ever closer to the world of crappy looking gear known as Outlands.

You get to go through this level range with the majority of your primary tanking tools. You don’t get your defensive cooldowns just yet, but most of the other things will be yours in this level range. The most welcome tool, in my opinion, is Shield of the Righteous which will finally allow you to spend your Holy Power on something other than just Word of Glory heals, which in this case is a bashing your target’s face in with your shield.

Playing a Protection Paladin
A Protection Paladin in this level range will play much like you did in the lower level range (1-29) except that you can now get much more aggressive in combat and you can likely handle larger pulls as well. This is the level range in my questing where I stopped trying to gather 3 quest mobs at once and instead bumped it up to 5-10.

With some better defense spells opening up as well as some more powerful attacks and moving into areas where you’re more likely to find undead mobs, you’re able to get a lot more aggressive and really enjoy the total power trip that only a Paladin can truly be.

Protection-Specific Tips
I already covered the basics such as Holy Power usage, Judgement and Seals, Auras and so forth in the 1 – 29 Guide if you feel you need a refresher on that, so this time we’re going to look a little closer at what you do to actually embrace the tanking spec.

First thing’s first – USE RIGHTEOUS FURY!!! If I see one more Paladin “tank” without RF on I’m going to go into an Unrighteous Fury of killing rabbits and squirrels all over the world. Do you hear me? Cute, fluffy animals will die all over Azeroth if you don’t have your Righteous Fury active! Do not test me… *cough* Alright, moving on then.

You have two abilities that generate Holy Power: Crusader Strike and Hammer of the Righteous. If you’re tanking a single target then you use Crusader Strike, otherwise you use Hammer of the Righteous. That part of the equation is really that simple (though you may prefer to use CS on 2-3 targets depending on the sitation, always an exception, so on and so forth). These general rules apply regardless of where you’re at or what you’re doing. It doesn’t matter if you’re tanking in LFG or if you’re solo questing or AoE grinding to farm mats – that’s how you do it.

At level 39 you finally have to start making a choice for how to spend your Holy Power. Just like building the Power, you have two abilities that spend the power too. You can either get a very nice heal from Word of Glory (WoG), or you can deal a very solid amount of damage to a single target with Shield of the Righteous (ShoR). Which you use, and how often, are going to depend entirely on your situation. If you need a heal and there’s not a healer with you then WoG is the obvious choice. If you need additional AoE threat then WoG can be a better solution than ShoR, even if you don’t actually need the heal. If you’re trying to burn down a particular mob, then ShoR is your best bet if you’re not in danger on the health front.

When pulling a group of mobs I follow one of two basic strategies: Body Pulling and Avenger’s Shield. Since I like to do a lot of AoE grinding the Body Pull is my most common method because I’ll body pull several groups of mobs at once. The key to successful body pulling is knowing when you can just run and when you need to strafe or back pedal. If you’re just running and mobs are trailing behind you then you lose all of your avoidance and just let the mobs spank you as you go. If you strafe away from them or walk backwards towards other mobs, then you don’t lose all of that extra protection. Pulling with Avenger’s Shield loads some threat right away as well as silencing the targets which is the much safer route in LFG.

If you’re doing LFG, don’t pull mobs with Hand of Reckoning. Never throw away your taunts to pull additional mobs before you know how the other people in your group play. You do get a second taunt in this level range that gives you a little more forgiveness if you do, but while HoR dealt damage to mobs not targeting you in previous patches it’s now just a typical taunt that sets you back on top of the threat list. Pulling with it is a waste unless you’ve got complete control of all mobs. Regardless, it’s a bad habit to get into, so save yourself some trouble later in your career by not getting into that habit early on.

Important Spells & Abilities
There are a lot of spells and abilities that come with being a Paladin, but I’m going to try to keep it simple and limited to only the most important ones for a Protection spec. There are other spells that you’ll get in this level range as well, I leave them out only because I do not find them critical to playing a Ret paladin.

Level 30-39:
Divine Protection (30): [1 minute cooldown] Reduces all damage taken by 20% for 10 sec.
Seal of Insight (32): Fills the Paladin with divine power for 30 min, giving each single-target melee attack a chance to heal the Paladin and restore 4% of the paladin’s base mana. Only one Seal can be active on the Paladin at any one time. Unleashing this Seal’s energy will deal Holy damage to an enemy and restore 15% of the Paladin’s base mana.
Righteous Defense (36): Come to the defense of a friendly target, commanding up to 3 enemies attacking the target to attack the Paladin instead.

Divine Protection is one of your best defensive tools in this early stage. It also has the wonderful added effect of not being tied to the global cooldown, meaning that you can (and should) macro this to one of your attacks so that it’s active as often as possible. I use a macro to cast this on myself when I cast Crusader Strike so that I don’t waste any of it’s uptime while I’m not engaged in melee combat.

Seal of Insight is the seal that I prefer above all others for most of my play. If you need additional threat you can get that from Seal of Truth which you get at level 44, but otherwise this is your main source of keeping your health and mana high.

Righteous Defense is the other taunt I mentioned up above. It pulls up to three mobs off of one of your party members and redirects them to you. A lot of Paladin tanks like to use this with what’s called a mouse-over macro so that you don’t have to target someone to actually cast it (thereby losing your current target), but I prefer assigning it to my Healbot addon which shows me when someone has threat. There are a lot of ways you can use this with macros and addons, so find one that works for. If I see the mobs leaving me soon enough I’ll also just cast it on one of the mobs heading towards the target and it works as though I’d cast it on the person instead, so whatever works.

Level 40-49:
Divine Plea (44): You gain 10% of your total mana over 15 sec, but the amount healed by your healing spells is reduced by 50%.
Seal of Truth (44): Fills the Paladin with holy power, causing single-target attacks to Censure the target, which deals additional Holy damage over 15 sec. Censure can stack up to 5 times. Once stacked to 5 times, each of the Paladin’s attacks also deals 9% weapon damage as additional Holy damage. Only one Seal can be active on the Paladin at any one time. Lasts 30 min. Unleashing this Seal’s energy will deal Holy damage to an enemy, increased by 10% for each application of Censure on the target.
Hammer of Wrath (46): Hurls a hammer that strikes an enemy for 442 to 488 Holy damage. Only usable on enemies that have 20% or less health.
Divine Shield (48): Protects the paladin from all damage and spells for 8 sec, but reduces all damage you deal by 50%. Once protected, the target cannot be targeted by Divine Shield or Hand of Protection again for 2 min.

Divine Plea is another great tool for restoring your mana, and one that I’ll often use during boss fights if I switch to Seal of Truth. It’s not as useful now as it will be later on, but it doesn’t hurt to get familiar with it early. It only restores 10% of your mana, so it’s not great, but it can help. It has the drawback of reducing your healing spells by 50% which can hurt in soloing situations, so while I have my WoG set to cast in my HealBot as well, I also have a WoG macro on my action bar that cancels Divine Plea before it casts the heal so that my healing isn’t nerfed when I seriously need it.

Seal of Truth is for when you’re dealing with single targets and need to firmly establish threat. It can help while soloing group quests as well if you really need the extra damage, though I tend to use Seal of Insight for the healing and mana restoration for those personally. If you’re having threat issues on a boss though, this is your answer.

Hammer of Wrath is your execute spell. If a mob drops to 20% health or below you chuck this sucker at them to finish them off. It’s not going to kill every single target you use it on (particularly bosses), but if you use it on trash mobs or questing mobs while they’re low on health you can pretty well count on them being dead.

Divine Shield is the notorious Paladin bubble used for the bubble-hearth of old. It doesn’t last long enough for bubble-hearthing any more, but I never really used it for such anyway so I couldn’t care less. The good thing about this bubble though is that you’re immune to everything the game will throw at you outside of PvP. It’s total immunity to just about everything. You do take a 50% cut to your damage dealing while it’s active, but the only time you’ll really cast this is when you’re about to die anyway. Cast the bubble, heal yourself to full, and then go right back to laying the smack down.

Leveling a Protection Paladin
Multi-Target Rotation: Avenger’s Shield, Hammer of the Righteous, Holy Wrath, Hammer of the Righteous, Judgement, Hammer of the Righteous
Single-Target Rotation: Exorcism, Avenger’s Shield, Crusader Strike, Judgement, Crusader Strike, Holy Wrath, Crusader Strike, Shield of the Righteous

While you’re questing you have two options. The first is to just keep on doing single target like it’s going out of style (it’s already out of style), the second is to do multiple mobs at once. I’m still a huge fan of AoE grinding, so I like to have at least 3 mobs on me at all times.

If you’re facing a boss in LFG then you might want to switch from Seal of Insight to Seal of Truth for the additional damage and threat that goes with it, but if you’re doing single-target questing I’d stick with Seal of Insight since SoT isn’t likely to stack high enough to matter on a mob that’s not going to live long anyway. Better to keep the health and mana topped off to keep going than to save yourself 2 seconds if you’re lucky.

The one exception to ShoR being primarily used on single-target is that once you reach level 49 and place a talent point in Holy Shield, ShoR triggers Holy Shield to provide an additional 10% damage reduction from shield blocks for 20 seconds. If you’re doing very large pulls or are facing hard-hitting melee opponents, spending your first Holy Power on ShoR to trigger Holy Shield is a good way to help keep you alive. You’ll get a feel for when to cast it, and how early/often as you play more and more.

Talent Spec: Protection 49

  • Sanctuary 3/3: Reduces the chance you’ll be critically hit by melee attacks by 6% and reduces all damage taken by 10%. In addition when you block or dodge a melee attack you gain 3% of maximum mana.
  • Wrath of the Lightbringer 1/2: Increases the damage by 50% of your Crusader Strike and Judgement and increases the critical strike chance by 15% of your Holy Wrath and Hammer of Wrath.
  • Shield of the Righteous 1/1:
  • Slam the target with your shield, causing Holy damage. Consumes all charges of Holy Power to determine damage dealt.

  • Wrath of the Lightbringer (+1) 2/2: Increases the damage by 100% of your Crusader Strike and Judgement and increases the critical strike chance by 30% of your Holy Wrath and Hammer of Wrath.
  • Grand Crusader 2/2: When your Crusader Strike or Hammer of the Righteous deal damage to your primary target, they have a 20% chance of refreshing the cooldown on your next Avenger’s Shield.
  • Reckoning 1/2: You have a 10% chance after blocking an attack for your next 4 weapon swings within 8 sec to generate an additional attack.
  • Holy Shield 1/1: Using Shield of the Righteous or Inquisition increases the amount your shield blocks by an additional 10% for 20 sec.

Sanctuary is all about keeping you alive and keeping your mana topped off. It’s one of the best talents in the tree and one you definitely don’t want to pass up. Wrath of the Lightbringer is one that a lot of Paladin’s go back and forth on whether to take it or leave it. It’s purely a DPS increase, which in turn is a threat increase, so it’s nice but not required. I take it because I like to kill stuff, but you may prefer getting more points into either Reckoning for some free melee swings or perhaps Divinity back up on the first tier for increased healing if you want more survivability.

Shield or the Righteous has a higher damage potential than everything else available to you, and it’s where you’ll dump your Holy Power when you don’t need to heal. It’s also the key to triggering another one of important defensive talents, Holy Shield, which we’ll talk about in just a second.

Grand Crusader is a lot like Wrath of the Lightbringer in that it’s all about giving you additional damage, but this time in the form of resetting your Avenger’s Shield cooldown so that you can cast it more often. Since you’re leveling in this bracket I strongly suggest it as a leveling talent, though if you’re going to be a raider you’ll likely not bother with it once you reach level cap. For leveling though, especially with AoE grinding, this talent is excellent.

Reckoning is a talent I go back and forth on, I’m not sure yet whether I love it or hate it. Free attacks are free attacks, but it doesn’t appeal to me as much as it used to . I’ll leave it to you to decide whether you want to spend more or less points in this one.

Holy Shield wraps it up for this level range, providing an extra 10% damage reduction on shield blocks. While ShoR is a single target attack, Holy Shield makes casting it when fighting groups of trash worth it. In AoE grinding you might want to spend your first Holy Power on ShoR just to trigger the extra damage reduction and then refresh it every 18-20 seconds so that Holy Shield stays up as often as possible.

I’m going to list at least two options for each glyph type that you can choose from, and below each section I’ll mention why I choose them and under which circumstances I might change from one to another.


These are your two best choices for threat and damage. Do you want to have better threat against trash (HotR) or better threat against bosses (CS)? That’s the question, and your choice of glyph is your answer. I prefer to go with HotR because I like to AoE while I’m questing as well, so it’s just more valuable for me to take it over CS.


The more I play as Prot, the more I think Consecration is a thing of the past. I just don’t need it. I do go ahead and use it when I’m doing some serious AoE grinding and pulling way more mobs than I really should be, but otherwise it’s really just a waste of a cooldown and the mana that goes with it these days. It’s good to use in LFG if you’re having threat issues, but otherwise it kind of sucks right now. If you need the threat, take it, otherwise go for Dazing Shield.


As with most classes, our minor glyphs kind of suck. Most Paladin minor glyphs right now just reduce the mana cost of spells that you’ll likely only cast outside of combat anyway, where casting your buffs and then drinking to restore your mana would negate the glyph’s use, not to mention we don’t care about mana much to begin with. But, these are the main glyphs we can use at this level range, so there you have it. If you’re going to do LFG a lot, then go with Kings since you’ll cast it more often, but if you’re going to solo/quest more then Insight will give you more “savings” in the long run since it’s duration is half as long as Kings.

Protection Macros
I don’t use a whole lot of fancy macros on my Paladin just yet, but I do have a few that are particularly useful.

/cancelaura Blessing of Protection
/cast Crusader Strike [same for Judgement, Hammer of the Righteous, etc]
/cast Divine Protection [only on the Crusader Strike and Hammer of the Righteous]

This is the one that I mentioned up above that cancels my BoP right before I attack. BoP gives you immunity to physical damage, but at the expense of not allowing you to attack. Generally you want to cast this when you need to heal yourself (if you’re targeting yourself), so after you’re finished healing it’s time to get back to combat rather than just waiting for it to end itself. Basically this one saves me the trouble of canceling the buff myself.

I use a version of this macro for all of my primary attack spells as I mention in the macro text itself. The one difference is that I only apply the Divine Protection cast to Crusader Strike and Hammer of the Righteous. I’m more likely to take a lot of damage once I close in to melee range than I am from max range for Avenger’s Shield, so I don’t want to waste some of the protection time while closing the gap. Using it on my melee abilities means it’s going to cast at the most important time and give me the most protection possible.

/cast [modifier:alt] Consecration
/castsequence reset=combat/9 Holy Wrath, Consecration, Holy Wrath

This macro I use for my AoE, just to save space on my bar. I don’t cast Consecration as often as I do Holy Wrath, and if I have an option between the two I generally go with HW unless the fight is going to last long enough for Consecration to be worth it. So using this you’ll cast Holy Wrath and for the next 9 seconds or until you cast it the button will change to cast Consecrate instead. For long fights with lots of AoE I have it cycle to another cast of Holy Wrath. You also have the option of holding Alt to force a Consecrate cast if you can’t or don’t want to use Holy Wrath.

I actually modified the version of this that I use to just be a simple HW cast by default, or a Consecrate cast if I hold Alt when I activate it just because I almost never cast Consecrate now. Consecrate used to be the spell I looked forward to getting the most, but now it’s just another crappy spell taking up space in my spellbook.

/cancelaura Divine Plea
/cast Word of Glory

This is the one that I mentioned I keep on my action bars even though I have a healing addon that casts most of my heals for me. Divine Plea cuts your heals in half, so if you’ve used it to get your mana back but find yourself in sudden need of a heal this will cancel your Divine Plea, meaning you don’t get any more mana back but your heals will work fully.

Gearing Up as Protection
As a melee class we’re looking for stats that impact our melee performance such as Strength, Attack Power, Hit, Crit and Haste. As a tank though, you also want to look for survival stats such as Stamina, Dodge and Parry.

Stat Priority: Strength and Stamina, Dodge and Parry, Other melee stuff

In short, we’re going to stack Strength and Stamina first and foremost, followed by our avoidance stats of Dodge and Parry, and then on to any other DPS stats (attack power, hit, crit, haste, etc). Most of the stats that you want to cap at end game don’t even exist in the early stages, so this is really all you need to watch out for.


Posted by on December 23, 2010 in Class, Guide, Leveling, Macro, Melee, Paladin, Play Styles


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Death Knight Tanking: Frost (71-80)

First thing’s first – Holy crap! It’s been two months since my last Death Knight Tanking post. Wow. Uh, whoops? Sorry about that, guys. We also know now that Blood is going to become the tanking tree when Cataclysm hits, so I should have gotten this done a couple of months ago for sure.

Here are the links to the previous guides if you’d like to go have a look at them.
Death Knight Tanking: Frost (55-60)
Death Knight Tanking: Frost (61-70)
AoE Grinding: Frost Death Knight Edition (70)
Play Styles: Death Knights for Spellcasters

Psynister has been sitting at level 80 now for a while. I haven’t done a whole lot with him since then, save for running a few heroics here and there. Surprisingly enough I get chosen for DPS most of the time in randoms, which doesn’t bother me much to be honest since I actually enjoy my DPS spec and playing as Unholy DPS is a blast.

Last time we talked about getting you up to level 70, some of the differences between Two-Handed tanking versus Dual Wielding, how the Rune and Runic Power system works, and the different rotations between trash packs and bosses. This time we’re going to focus more on finishing off our spec to level 80, getting geared up to tank heroics, and some updates we need to make in reaction to the changes that came in our most recent patch, 3.3.3.

Frost Tanking Spec

Frost Death Knight Tanking Spec, Level 80

Endless Winter 2/2: Your strength is increased by 4% and your Mind Freeze no longer costs runic power.
Threat of Thassarian 3/3: When dual-wielding, your Death Strikes, Obliterates, Plague Strikes, Rune Strikes, Blood Strikes and Frost Strikes have a 100% chance to also deal damage with your offhand weapon.
Bladed Armor 5/5: Increases your attack power by 5 for every 180 armor value you have.

With the recent patch, Endless Winter became a very strong addition to our tanking toolbox with a solid boost to our Strength. Threat of Thassarian provides us with a welcome increase to damage which in turn of course is an increase in threat generation. Bladed Armor finishes off our tanking tools by adding even more attack power as a good deal of our threat against bosses is going to come from our attacks more so than our diseases.

NOTICE: The spec I’m suggesting here is what you should use for leveling. It’s not a raiding spec. If you are going to continue on into heroics and raids as a Frost Tank then you’ll want to use one of the following: Dual Wield Tanking or Two-Handed Tanking. For Heroics you’re better off using the DW build for extra threat, but for raiding you’ll want the 2H build instead. Welcome to patches changing how things work.

Also, Blizz has revealed to us that Blood is the tanking tree going into Cataclysm, so the work that’s been put into these guides is going to become completely nullified in a matter of months when the expansion hits. Nothing like wasting several hours of research and writing only to have it nullified. Thanks Blizz, screw you too…

Glyph of Howling Blast: [Major] Your Howling Blast ability now infects your targets with Frost Fever.
Glyph of Disease: [Major] Your Pestilence ability now refreshes disease durations on your primary target back to their maximum duration.
Glyph of Icy Touch: [Major] Your Frost Fever disease deals 20% additional damage.
Glyph of Obliterate: [Major] Increased the damage of your Obliterate ability by 20%.
Glyph of Frost Strike: [Major] Reduces the cost of your Frost Strike by 8 Runic Power.
Glyph of Unbreakable Armor: [Major] Increases the total armor granted by Unbreakable Armor to 30%.

Those are my major glyph suggestions in the order that I would suggest them.

Glyph of Pestilence: [Minor] Increases the radius of your Pestilence effect by 5 yards.
Glyph of Raise Dead: [Minor] Your Raise Dead spell no longer requires a reagent.
Glyph of Blood Tap: [Minor] Your Blood Tap no longer causes damage to you.

As for minor glyphs, those are the ones you tank with as Frost, plain and simple. Raise Dead is the one you can change if you feel so inclined.

New Spells: 71-80

Raise Ally: Raises the corpse of a raid or party member to fight by your side. The player will have control over the Ghoul for 5 minutes.
Empower Rune Weapon: Empower your rune weapon, immediately activating all your runes and generating 25 runic power.
Army of the Dead: Summons and entire legion of Ghouls to fight for youl. The Ghouls will swarm the area, taunting and fighting anything they can. While channelling AotD, the DK takes less damage equal to their Dodge plus Parry chance.

Ok, so Raise Ally is one of my favorite spells of all time. When I first found out this ability existed after Wrath launched and that someone in my guild had it, I intentionally got myself killed just so I could run around as a ghoul. As far as using it yourself, you’ll probably only use it on rare occasions. Pull it out in a raid when all the druids have already used their combat rez or in dungeons when your healer’s not a druid, your dps are being stupid, or whatever. It’s a fun spell but it’s not especially useful.

The Empowered Rune Weapon spell is great for tanking and DPS alike, immediately resetting all of your runes. If you know you need to front load some serious threat on thing right from the beginning it’s not a bad idea to switch your rotation to something like HB > BB > PS > D&D > ERW > BB > BB > Pest > Obl/HB > PS > FS. It’s great for throwing down everything you’ve got and then resetting your runes and jumping into your rotation as normal. It’s basically a free ticket to the Open a Can show.

And last but not least, Army of the Dead; the sole reason I ever wanted to have a Death Knight in the first place. I’ve said it before, but I’ll bring it up again here, I’m a Necromancer at heart and this spell is the only thing that fits that makes my shriveled black heart have a happy beat. For tanking you want to pull this out before you pull to begin with and then lay into whatever it is you’re fighting with as much hate as you can. The Army is going to taunt things off of you left and right which sucks, so you need to keep an eye on their timer and be ready to establish threat once they’re gone. It’s a lot easier to do on a boss than on a pack of mobs, but if you use it at all then that’s how/when to do it. Be prepared to use your taunt, Death Grip, or 2-3 Icy Touches to reestablish agro once they’re done.

Tanking Trash

I’m going to list two different Rune Sets here, one for when you’re running with your guild and they understand that giving you a few seconds to build threat is beneficial to them, and one for when you’re in a PUG and need to front load the AoE threat as much as possible because you know the people in your group are going to AoE the second you start moving.

Just to reiterate, I tank as Frost while Dual Wielding slow, one handed weapons.

No Rush Rune Sets
First Rune Set: Icy Touch (F), Plague Strike (U), Pestilence (B), Blood Strike (B), Howling Blast (FU), Frost Strike

Second Rune Set: Obliterate (FU), [Howling Blast if Rime procs], Obliterate (Death Runes), [Howling Blast if Rime procs], Howling Blast (FU), Frost Strike

The First Rune Set establishes our diseases on all of the mobs within the area, burns our Blood Runes to proc our blood tree’s defensive talent, and then hits with our AoE to get a solid start on our threat. The Second Rune Set is there to establish as much AoE threat as we can using our big damaging spells.

When you’re cycling through the Obliterates looking for a Rime proc you might want to cycle through your targets as you do so that if Rime does not proc then at the very least you get to spread your threat throughout the mobs by not hitting just a single target. When Rime does proc, use your Howling Blast right away. If you find that Howling Blast is off cooldown when an Obliterate shows up in the rotation, go ahead and cast HB instead if you’re fighting more than two mobs. Similarly, if the rotation says to use HB but it’s on cooldown, use Obliterate instead.

AoE Rushed Rune Sets
First Rune Set: Howling Blast (FU), Blood Boil (B), Blood Boil (B), Plague Strike (U), Blood Tap (none), Pestilence (Death), Icy Touch (F), Frost Strike (60+ RP only)

Second Rune Set: Howling Blast (FU), Obliterate (Death Runes), [Howling Blast if Rime procs], Obliterate (FU), [Howling Blast if Rime procs]

Nothing really changed here as far as rotations and general play style went. The one big change that should be brought to your attention is that Icy Touch now generates a truckload of threat when you’re in Frost Presence. If your taunt/DG either miss or are on cooldown, just target the mob and Icy Touch them instead. It now generates 14 times its damage as threat which is huge.

Tanking Bosses
Now that we have our hard hitting abilities, it’s time to change up the boss rotation as well.

Boss Set One: Icy Touch (F), Plague Strike (U), Blood Strike (B), Blood Strike (B), Obliterate (FU), Frost Strike (60+ RP only)

Boss Set Two: Obliterate (FU), [Howling Blast if Rime procs], Obliterate (FU), [Howling Blast if Rime procs], Obliterate (FU), [Howling Blast if Rime procs], Frost Strike, Frost Strike

This is your rotation for fighting bosses. Establish your diseases, and then take advantage of the hardest hitting spells you have every time they come up. If the boss has adds then you might need to use regular Howling Blasts in place of some of those Obliterates, and you’ll want to drop the first Blood Strike for a Pestilence instead so that you get your diseases spread around nicely. Other than that it’s all about bashing the boss in the face as hard as you can each GCD.

With the changes in 3.3.3 Icy Touch deals 14x its damage as threat (in Frost Presence) which is pretty huge. If you lose threat on something then you either need to taunt it with Dark Command, Death Grip it to force focus on you, or use Icy Touch for burst threat. If you’re having particular trouble holding a mob then taunt it with Dark Command to bring your threat up to the level of whoever has it right now, and follow it up with Icy Touch to get a strong lead on them.

If you’re having problems with agro on the boss then drop some of those Obliterates and replace them with Icy Touch and Plague Strike instead. You’ll lose a bit of damage, but you’ll gain threat from Icy Touch instead.

Preparing for Heroics
I’m not going to make a gear guide here because that’s not what I do here. This blog is dedicated to getting you leveled up, not getting you maxed out once you’re there. It’s not hard to do a search online for gearing guides for heroics though so you shouldn’t have much trouble.

I will give you some basic guidelines though. First off you need to get your Defense raised to 535-540 so that you can avoid being critically hit. The cap for Heroic instances is 535, and 540 for Raids. Get your Defense up first off and then switch to your Stamina. You’re looking for 20,000 HP while self buffed starting off, and as long as you’re close to that you should be alright. You’ll have the dicks out there that insist you have 28k+, but as long as you’re somewhere close to the 20k, say +/- 2,000, then you’re good. If you can get up to 28k or more then all the better, but it’s not a requirement.

An easy way to buff up your health a bit is to have the Mining profession, though there’s not much you can do besides gear, gems, and enchants for the Defense issue. If you’re looking for maximum benefit from professions then you want Blacksmithing and Jewelcrafting, or Blacksmithing and Engineering. Other professions can provide tanking benefits as well (Enchanting and Inscription come next on my personal list), but those will be your best bet.

If you’re going to PUG a lot, then be prepared to do a lot of your pulls with the AoE heavy rotation I mentioned up above, and don’t be surprised if you find yourself doing a lot of single disease with just Frost Fever because you’re burning too many runes to bother with Plague Strike and Pestilence. If you’re holding threat then you’re doing just fine.

And remember, it’s better to piss off a bunch of random people you’ll never see again by fail tanking in a PUG than it is to let your own guild down in a raid. I’m not telling you to go intentionally piss people off, I’m telling you to suck it up and go run some PUGs where things are going to go wrong, threat issues will happen, and frustration will occur, so that you can learn from it and grow stronger. Nobody gets better from being on easy mode all the time. Go introduce a little chaos into your life and force personal growth, that’s how you’re really going to learn to handle situations that get out of hand rather than getting a blank stare as you watch your raid wipe.

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Posted by on April 23, 2010 in Death Knight, Guide, Leveling


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AoE Grinding: Frost Death Knight Edition

I have covered the greatness of Paladin AoE Guides. I have revealed unto you the incredible power of Frost Mage AoE Grinding. And now I must bring forth, Frost Knight AoE Grinding!

You can't see my sparklies very well in that picture, but that's 12 mobs piled up there.

You can use the general information from this post in conjunction with the Death Knight Tanking Guides for AoE rotations I use for questing. I use pretty well the same exact concepts and rotations when doing AoE Tanking on my Death Knight when the situation calls for me to focus on AoE to grab and maintain agro in an instant so that I can then settle into a tanking rotation.

For the purposes of this article when you see any form of “(BFU)” it is an expression of the ability’s Rune Cost, where “(##)” will show the amount of Runic Power that is required for abilities with RP costs rather than Rune costs. When using our Death Runes they will be noted as “(DD)”.

This guide also contains only information up to level 70, so spells obtained only at higher levels will not appear in this guide.

Death Knight Specs: Quick Overview
Any Death Knight spec can do AoE grinding to at least some degree. Frost and Unholy are much better off than Blood is in the AoE category (though perhaps not so much in the survivability area), but any spec can technically do it. Some just need to branch out a little bit more than others.

All DK’s have access to Death and Decay which is a solid AoE ability though it does come with a heavy Rune cost.

Spending 11 points in the Unholy tree grants you access to Corpse Explosion which serves as a Runic Power version of AoE damage to be used when you are in a Rune Blackout (all runes used and on cooldown). Corpse Explosion does require a non-elemental, non-mechanical corpse in order to be used, but it is another option for AoE damage once you’ve laid down the hate and started piling up the corpses. But any corpse will do, including a fallen comrade.

With 8 points in the Blood tree you can have Scent of Blood 3/3 which gives you a 15% chance after a dodge or parry to have each of your next three auto-attacks generate 10 Runic Power which could be taken in addition to Corpse Explosion to help fuel its repeated use. I don’t know that it’s a great option, but there it is if you happen to be a CE freak (like me).

You can spend 14 points in the Blood tree to get both Rune Tap (B) which will restore 10% of your health when used, as well as Death Rune Mastery which will cause the runes used for Obliterate and Death Strike to regenerate as Death Runes. Having both Death Rune Mastery and Blood of the North maxed will give you four different attacks that will grant Death Runes to help fuel whatever ability you might want to use.

Since I’m focusing on Frost here, I will point out that I suggest you get all the way through the Frost tree (level 60 minimum) before you branch off into the other trees. As for the rest of the spec, I suggest you follow the guide I offer in my DK Tanking: Frost Edition guides.

Frost AoE: General Information
You can use either a single disease or a double disease method for this, though my personal suggestion is that you go with a double disease, dual wielding Frost build.

Howling Blast (FU) is your largest source of AoE damage, and using things like your Killing Machine procs and your Deathchill ability to maximize your damage by providing auto-crits go a long way towards burning down the largest group of mobs in the shortest amount of time. Rime procs will give you free uses of Howling Blast as well as resetting its cooldown, so keep a keen eye out for those as well. You may want to consider using an addon such as PowerAuras Classic to help you keep track of your procs if you have trouble with them.

With Frost you are going to make frequent use of Howling Blast for AoE damage and applying the Frost Fever disease, Obliterate (FU) to generate Rime procs for free Howling Blasts, Blood Boil (B) for DK-centered AoE damage, Pestilence (B) for disease spreading, and potentially Death & Decay (BFU) as well. If you branched out into Unholy for Corpse Explosion (40) then you have a Runic Power AoE as well, which is centered on the corpse that it’s used on.


As a Death Knight you have several tools to use for pulling mobs. The most obvious of these is Scorpion’s famous move, Death Grip, which will pull the targeted mob to you and “force” them to attack you for three seconds. Some mobs are immune to the physical pull, but they will still agro you and chase you down after you use it. Death Grip has a pretty big cooldown all things considered, but it does not require any runes or runic power to use.

You also have two sources of ranged AoE pulling, in the form of Howling Blast (FU) and Death and Decay (BFU), which can both be used to pull a group of mobs instead of just one. Howling Blast is a bit better if you are pulling the group and moving on to pull others as well, where Death and Decay is probably better off cast as you near the end of your pull so that you can make use of its DoT (Damage of Time) AoE effect.

You also have two forms of single-target ranged pulls in Icy Touch (F) and Death Coil (40). Death Coil requires RP to cast, so it’s not the greatest spell for pulling, but when you find yourself high on RP and nothing else to spend it on just yet you might as well get some use out of it.

If you don’t have much, or any, Runic Power built up during a pull, feel free to use your melee abilities rather than simply body pulling. Primarily you want to use Plague Strike (B) for this in order to establish a disease, or Blood Strike (B) to get your Blood Runes converted to Death Runes for use in the next round.

There is one other spell I want to mention here for pulling, but it will actually be more useful after the next step happens to help get stray casters to come to your centralized area. The spell is called Strangulate (B) which is a single target, 30 yard ranged Silence spell that lasts for 5 seconds. When you use that on a caster they will rush towards melee range as long as they are silenced, and 5 seconds should be more than enough for you to get them within range of your AoE spells.

And of course you do still have the old fashioned, tried and true body pull which can be done either mounted or on foot, which simply requires that you get within agro range of the mobs. Some locations allow for or maybe even require that you use Line of Sight (LoS) techniques to agro the mobs and then move to a location that they cannot attack you from so that they must run around it to engage you; running to the other side of a wall is a perfect example of this as they will run around the wall as well and then stand there clustered together to help with your AoE.

In my other AoE Grinding guides I mentioned a step here that I called “Corral”, which is basically just gathering all the mobs up into a central area so that you can AoE them down from there. You want to do that with a Frost DK as well, but it’s not quite so big a deal as it is with a Mage; instead it’s more like grinding with a Paladin where as long as they are within your AoE range you really don’t care how close they are to one another.

To be technical on the subject, you do want the mobs to be within 10 yard of each other so that you are able to hit them all, but with the exception of casters they should all be ganged up around you to begin with. Again, using the various spells mentioned in the Pulling section above and things like LoS are key to getting the mobs centralized and ready to burn them down.

Where a mage wants to put some distance between himself and the mobs, a Death Knight just wants everyone to look straight into his scourgefire eye sockets and see their own deaths rushing forth to meet them. As a DK you need to embrace your tanking habits and be sure to get as many mobs as you possibly can to be in front of you so that you can make use of all of your avoidance on them. You do this by repositioning yourself which usually consists of just backing up while facing them so that they get in front of you.

Some mobs just move in odd patterns and constantly seem to move behind you no matter what you do. In those cases you can either plant your back against a wall, or just ignore that one mob until you’ve taken out the others. Another option that is open to you is to use your Hungering Cold (F) ability to freeze everything in place, reposition yourself where you want to be (with all the mobs in front of you), and then either wait for the spell to wear off or hit them with a ranged AoE like Howling Blast to break them all out again.

Strategic use of Hungering Cold can make the difference between a successful AoE grinder and an exceptional AoE grinder. Use it to freeze the mobs in place, use Pestilence to spread your diseases (which does not break the ice), and then use a bandage on yourself if needed to restore your health and also allow your other runes the time they need to cooldown. Once you’re ready (or the 10 second timer is up) spread your diseases again with Pestilence and then go back into your rotation. If you do not have the Glyph of Disease to refresh your diseases for you then you will need to reapply them via Icy Touch > Plague Strike > Pestilence. If you do have the glyph then as long as the diseases are still on your current target it will refresh them and spread them around once again.

Important Note: Because our survival talent from the Blood tree, Blade Barrier, doesn’t come into effect until our Blood Runes are on cooldown, I suggest you go ahead and use up any remaining Blood Runes during this step. If you haven’t spread your diseases yet or you did spread them but they’re wearing off, then use Pestilence, otherwise go for Blood Boil if there are two or mobs near you or Blood Strike if there is only one.

Death to the Living!
Once you’ve gathered up the mobs and got them in place it’s time to burn those suckers down. Each DK has their own personal play style, so if you have another way you prefer to do this then by all means go with your own if you prefer, and of course feel free to leave any comments, suggestions, or criticisms you might have.

1st Rune Set: Icy Touch (F), Plague Strike (U), Pestilence (B), Blood Boil (B), Howling Blast (FU), RP Dump
2nd Rune Set: Obliterate (FU), [Howling Blast (Free)], Howling Blast (DD), Obliterate (FU), [Howling Blast (Free)], RP Dump

Technically our first rune set will actually be a sporadic mishmash of whatever you happened to use to pull all of the mobs to you, but we’re talking about the rotation here.

The first rune set establishes your diseases, spreads them around, and then hits with two AoE spells. Your Runic Power Dump for the first set is probably going to be Frost Strike (40). If you have enough points in Unholy then it can be used for Corpse Explosion (40) instead if you want more AoE.

Frost Strike hits hard and it’s great for chopping down your groups faster which will lead to better survivability overall, but CE will help bring down the group as a whole so use whichever serves best in your situation. If you’re taking quite a bit of damage then it’s better to increase your single target DPS with FS to kill some of them off, unless the mobs are already low enough on health that CE might finish one or more of them off for you. If you’re doing fine on your health then stick to AoE spells as much as you can so that you get the most damage on the most targets for the resources you spend.

In the second rune set we focus more on AoE damage to bring down the mobs as one. With the initial Obliterate we are hoping for a Rime proc to use Howling Blast, but if we don’t get one then we’re moving right along to a regular Howling Blast and getting those Blood Runes (Death Runes in this case) back on cooldown to proc our Parry buff again. Whenever Rime procs go ahead and use your Howling Blast; if that screws up your rotation because HB is on cooldown then simply replace the HB with Obliterate instead and try for another Rime proc.

Remember though that we aren’t trying to tank an instance with this, so we aren’t so much worried about maintaining threat as we are simply killing everything around us. If Howling Blast is available and you still have multiple mobs on you it’s perfectly acceptable to use HB instead of Obliterate for the AoE damage. Rime is more likely to proc when using two weapons instead of one, so it’s especially acceptable for a 2H build to use HB over Obliterate since the chance to proc Rime is lower.

Settle down now, you’re a DK…you’re already dead. Before we get on into the next section, let us take a break and talk about what to do when things go wrong and suddenly you’re in trouble.

The first choice you have is something I already mentioned up above, which is using Hungering Cold to freeze everything within 10 yards of you for 10 seconds. This gives you time to either use a bandage or put your running shoes on and get the heck out of there (only a coward runs from combat, but only a “moron” throws his gold away on unnecessary repair bills).

Another option that we have open to us is Death Pact (40 RP, requires level 66) which requires you to sacrifice your ghoul in exchange for 40% of your health to instantly be healed. It’s a big heal and it comes in very handy. For this reason I save my ghoul for when I need heals rather than using him for extra dps, pulling, or whatever. The one thing you need to watch out for is the runic cost of Death Pact. If you are taking a beating, be sure to build up your RP but try not to use it unless you have more than 30-40% so that you can DP when needed.

You also have the use of Icebound Fortitude (20) after level 62 which will give you 12 seconds of damage reduction to lessen those blows.

You can also make an adjustment to your attack rotations, replacing Obliterates and/or Howling Blasts with Death Strike (FU) instead, to heal yourself for 5% of your maximum health for each disease you have on the target.

If things are really getting hot, you’ve already used everything available to you that we’ve talked about here, then the only other option you have left to you (besides potions and such which you should already be well aware of) is to make an emergency switch over to Blood Presence (B) which increases your damage by 15% and heals you for 4% of the damage you deal. By default you should be grinding in Frost Presence (F) which increases your Stamina by 6%, your armor from gear by 60% and reduces damage you take by 8%. Losing Frost Presence can be a very dangerous thing when you’re already getting beat on hard enough to be worried, but if you can dish out enough damage in a short enough amount of time then Blood Presence can potentially save your life by switching to it, landing a big attack for the heal (Death Strike is optimal for this), and then switching back to Frost Presence for your damage reduction.

All Your Sparklies Are Belong To Me
And now that they’re all dead it’s just a matter of collecting loot and moving right along to the next group. A lot of your damage is going to be dealt over time rather than in bursts. So when you do get procs like Rime and Killing Machine, it’s a good idea to move right into your next pull to take advantage of those if you aren’t in need of healing. Timing your Rime/KM procs so that they’re used together is an excellent way to bring down a lot of mobs in a short amount of time.

What Spells Do I Use Again?

Howling Blast Blood Boil
Corpse Explosion Death and Decay

Posted by on March 3, 2010 in Death Knight, Guide, Leveling


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Death Knight Tanking: Frost

[NOTE: This post is meant to cover you only up to level 60.]
[NOTE 2: I have updated the spec details and link for level 60 to help you in tanking Outlands instances. Removed Acclimation 1/3 with Lichborne 1/1. Details below.]


As I write this article, my Frost DK is currently sitting at level 65. The image below will update itself as the Armory information is updated though, so you may see him at a higher level in that picture when you read this. The picture updates, but the Psynister I leveled for this series of posts made it to level 80 and then got deleted and replaced with a new one, which isn’t being leveled as Frost.

About a week or so ago I posted about A Death Knight Tank, one named Khanus in particular, and how how that DK inspired me to want to finally make a DK of my own and actually focus on leveling him as a tank to see for myself just how hard it would be to successfully fill that role with a DK.

I planned on leveling a DK sometime within the next couple of months or so, but circumstances changed a bit here and there and I decided to roll him early rather than waiting. I’m pretty well known for my patience outside of the game, but for some reason when I’m in a virtual world that aspect of my personality disappears and when I want something I want it now. I didn’t have a character named Psynister on this server just yet, so that’s how this fellow came to be.

I didn’t want to be just another Death Knoob out there, so when I got started with this guy I did my research first and smashed faces later. I did a lot of reading on different blogs and forums to get everyone’s general views of how to tank with a DK and I found a lot of really good information out there. I found a lot of bad/old information as well, but we don’t need to waste our time with that.

General Tanking Information
The first thing that I want to throw at you here, besides the unnecessarily long introduction up above, is that all three of a DK’s talent trees are capable of tanking. You can find that little tidbit of information just about anywhere you look for tanking info.

That being said, only Frost and Blood are really considered to be high end tanking specs at this time. Recent nerfs to Unholy have reduced their effectiveness. That doesn’t mean they can’t still do it, especially if an experienced player is behind the keyboard, but if you’re new to DK tanking then stick with Frost or Blood.

Tanking with a DK is different than tanking with other classes. You don’t really have a set rotation you’re going to go through (sorry, no 96969 business over here), and while you do have two taunts, one of them has a long cooldown and both of them are only single target. So you can’t slip into a single style of play and assume that it’s going to work for you all the time. You need to be flexible, and you need to be able to react to the situation as it changes.

Death Knights have a very unique system of resources as well, having to manage both a Runic Power pool and a Runic system as well. Managing those can be tricky at first, and using abilities without being aware of their Rune costs can completely kill your ability to act as a tank. Focusing too much on your Runes though makes you waste your Runic Power, which means you’re throwing away additional DPS which in turn is throwing away threat. It sounds pretty complicated, and when you’re new to it it certainly seems that way, but the longer you play with it the more natural it will become.

Frost Tanking Basics
I was misinformed from previous playing experience and discussions prior to the two or three most recent patches, that Unholy was the main spec for AoE tanking. However, the real king of AoE threat generation comes from the Frost tree.

Frost tanks have two primary styles of play: single disease, and dual disease. You also have the option of using either a two-handed weapon for big hits, or dual wielding weapons for additional stats and smaller, but faster attacks. My personal style of playing works better with dual diseases right now, and up to this point I have only tried two-handed tanking and so cannot comment on the dual wielding yet. [Dual Wielding is covered in the follow up post, however.]

Frost Tanking Spec
Alright, it’s time to get a little more specific about how to tank with the Frost DK, and the first order up on that list is what sort of spec you should be running. As I mentioned, I did a lot of research before I actually rolled this character, and the spec I am using is what I felt was the best route for me to take after that research.


Alternate (Recommended) Spec for Level 60
This is a revised spec for level 60. After spending five days doing almost nothing but running random dungeons and leveling my professions I needed to make a change.

The change isn’t huge but it is significant, especially for the mid-to-upper sixties. I removed the single point in Acclimation and replaced it with Lichborne, which makes you immune to Charm, Fear, and Sleep effects for 10 seconds. When you run randoms in your 60s you are going to run into a lot of Fear effects. Enough so that my human racial and my PvP trinket were not enough to take off all of the fear at times.

The magic-based damage reduction from Acclimation isn’t bad, it just didn’t provide enough benefit (especially with only one of the three possible points spent in it) for me to take it over Lichborne given how often I had to deal with fear and how seldom I had to deal with spell casters.

Improved Icy Touch 3/3: Your Icy Touch does an additional 15% damage and your Frost Fever reduces melee and ranged attack speed by an additional 6%.

Toughness 5/5: Increases your armor value from items by 10% and reduces the duration of all movement slowing effects by 30%.

Black Ice 5/5: Increases your Frost and Shadow damage by 10%.

Annihilation 3/3: Increases the critical strike chance of your melee special abilities by 3%. In addition, there is a 100% chance that your Obliterate will do its damage without consuming diseases.

Killing Machine 5/5: Your melee attacks have a chance to make your next Icy Touch, Howling Blast or Frost Strike a critical strike. Effect occurs more often than Killing Machine (Rank 4).

Chill of the Grave 2/2: Your Chains of Ice, Howling Blast, Icy Touch and Obliterate generate 5 additional runic power.

Frigid Dreadplate 3/3: Reduces the chance melee attacks will hit you by 3%.

Glacier Rot 3/3: Diseased enemies take 20% more damage from your Icy Touch, Howling Blast and Frost Strike.

Deathchill 1/1: When activated, makes your next Icy Touch, Howling Blast, Frost Strike or Obliterate a critical hit if used within 30 sec.

Rime 3/3: Increases the critical strike chance of your Icy Touch and Obliterate by 15% and casting Obliterate has a 15% chance to reset the cooldown on Howling Blast and cause your next Howling Blast to consume no runes.

Hungering Cold 1/1: Purges the earth around the Death Knight of all heat. Enemies within 10 yards are trapped in ice, preventing them from performing any action for 10 sec and infecting them with Frost Fever. Enemies are considered Frozen, but any damage other than diseases will break the ice.

Improved Frost Presence 2/2: While in Blood Presence or Unholy Presence, you retain 6% stamina from Frost Presence, and damage done to you is decreased by an additional 2% in Frost Presence.

Blood of the North 3/3: Increases Blood Strike and Frost Strike damage by 10%. In addition, whenever you hit with Blood Strike or Pestilence there is a 100% chance that the Blood Rune will become a Death Rune when it activates. Death Runes count as a Blood, Frost or Unholy Rune.

Acclimation 1/3: When you are hit by a spell, you have a 10% chance to boost your resistance to that type of magic for 18 sec. Stacks up to 3 times. [Revision: Replaced by Lichborne]

Lichborne 1/1: Draw upon unholy energy to become undead for 10 sec. While undead, you are immune to Charm, Fear and Sleep effects. [Revision: Replaces Acclimation]

Frost Strike 1/1: Instantly strike the enemy, causing 55% weapon damage plus 137.5 as Frost damage.

Guile of Gorefiend 3/3: Increases the critical strike damage bonus of your Blood Strike, Frost Strike, Howling Blast and Obliterate abilities by 45%, and increases the duration of your Icebound Fortitude by 6 secs.

Tundra Stalker 5/5: Your spells and abilities deal 15% more damage to targets infected with Frost Fever. Also increases your expertise by 5.

Howling Blast 1/1: Blast the target with a frigid wind dealing 518 to 562 Frost damage to all enemies within 10 yards.

Glyph of Howling Blast: [Major] Your Howling Blast ability now infects your targets with Frost Fever.
Glyph of Frost Strike: [Major] Reduces the cost of your Frost Strike by 8 Runic Power.
Glyph of Disease: [Major] Your Pestilence ability now refreshes disease durations on your primary target back to their maximum duration.

Glyph of Pestilence: [Minor] Increases the radius of your Pestilence effect by 5 yards.
Glyph of Raise Dead: [Minor] Your Raise Dead spell no longer requires a reagent.

I am currently using Disease over Howling Blast because I really enjoy AoE grinding while I quest, but as far as tanking goes Howling Blast is probably going to be better for you overall if you plan on sticking primarily to dungeons or questing with groups rather than solo questing and grinding. I am also using the Death Strike glyph in place of Frost Strike to test it, but I’m going to replace it tonight because I completely misread what it did and get very little benefit from it where reducing the runic cost of Frost Strike will grant me more threat generation during boss fights.

As for the minor glyphs, you want those two glyphs and you want them before any others. Pestilence is higher priority than Raise Dead, so if you are only able to get one of them for some reason, go for Pestilence.

Tanking Trash (Up to level 60)
Trash tanking is where all of your AoE spells really shine. The other members of your group dictate where your AoE spells get cast in your “rotation”, whether you need to front load the AoE threat or if you’ll have to time to start and spread your diseases first.

The research I did frequently pointed out that being able to react to your situation is the key to being a good DK tank, and I have found that to be entirely true. As such, I have developed my own rotation here for what works well for me, based solely on how I like to play. There may very well be a better rotation to use out there, but this is what works for me.

Disease Rotation: Icy Touch, Plague Strike, Pestilence, Howling Blast, Blood Boil
Heavy AoE Rotation: (Icy Touch), Blood Boil, Blood Boil, Howling Blast, Pestilence

I prefer using the disease rotation because it gives me the most control over threat during the fight and it gives me the chance to use my AoE spells on other groups of mobs that might get pulled in unintentionally for whatever reason. A lot of people like to power level through vanilla content and then start grouping in Outlands having no idea how to participate in a group.

I would like to say that most of my pulls go off smoothly without having to worry about patrolling mobs or accidental agro, but that’s not the case. I’ve found in my experiences in Outlands so far that it’s better for me to stick with the Disease Rotation up above so that I can hit the AoE spells for instant threat on bad pulls rather than blowing them all at the front of the fight with my intentional pull and then having to run around generating crazy threat on multiple mobs that are chasing my healer.

In the Heavy AoE Rotation I put Icy Touch in parenthesis because if you have the Glyph of Howling Blast then that spell will apply the disease for you which is the main reason I suggest casting it. If you don’t have the glyph then cast Icy Touch first to both establish a disease that can be spread immediately after the AoE as well as to build a solid level of threat on at least one of the mobs in case things don’t work as planned.

Howling Blast is going to deal AoE damage in a radius centered on the target you cast it on while Blood Boil is going to deal AoE damage centered on you. So when you cast Blood Boil, make sure you’re near the mobs that you need to generate the threat on or else you’re wasting the cast.

I most often use the AoE rotation when additional mobs get pulled that I was not intending to have to deal with, which is primarily a patrol in a dungeon I’m not especially familiar with and as such did not see. When a group of mobs comes in that I wasn’t expecting I move in the direction that the mobs are moving, and use my AoE spells on them.

I start off with the double-Blood Boil because when these pulls happen the mobs are almost always already mixed into the group and heading for the healer or whoever may have pulled them, and that usually means that the mobs are right next to me. If the mobs get pulled and are not already next to you then you can either use Howling Blast instead, you can run towards them and use Blood Boil, or you can wait for them to get closer to you and Blood Boil from where you are (if they have to get through you to get to whoever their target is). By default I will run towards the mobs to hit them with the AoE threat because that puts me right in the middle of them and better able to react to the situation in case my Blood Boil misses, it gets me closer to other mobs that might have been outside the range when I used the AoE, and if my AoE burst isn’t enough to put me at the top of the threat list then I’m close enough to throw another one at them immediately.

Tanking Bosses
Tanking bosses is a whole different ballgame all together. Since our strongest method of generating threat on trash mobs is AoE we have to completely switch our rotation to build and maintain maximum threat on a single target. This is where your other spells are going to come into play and where you’re going to refresh your diseases by casting the basic spells that apply them (Icy Touch and Plague Strike) rather than refreshing them by using the Glyph of Disease or using Howling Blast to reapply your Frost Fever.

I like to load a lot of DPS onto a boss at the beginning of the fight and then settle into a rotation.

Boss Rotation: Icy Touch, Plague Strike, Blood Strike, Blood Strike, Death Strike, Frost Strike

When you are about to pull a boss, you want to be sure to use your Deathchill buff which gives you a guaranteed crit with your next Icy Touch, and starting with a crit is great for building your initial threat. Deathchill’s crit boost also works for Howling Blast (if the boss has adds so you pull with AoE), Frost Strike (if you have runic power built up to use it right away), and Obliterate (level 61) spells if you decide to pull with those instead. I would personally use either Icy Touch of Howling Blast for the initial pull, and since IT requires only a single Frost Rune it gets my vote for being the spell of choice unless the boss has adds that will also be hit with Howling Blast.

Plague Strike is the second attack and requires you to be within melee range, but deals Shadow damage to the boss and applies your second disease, Blood Plague.

Blood Strike is a great way to boost your threat, and since we have both of our diseases applied it’s a perfect time to use it. Blood Strike deals an extra 12.5% damage for each disease you have on the target, so using it after IT and PS grants an extra 25% to the Blood Strike’s damage.

Because of the cooldown situation of our runes, the next spell on the list is going to be Death Strike which will damage as well as healing you for 5% of your maximum health for each disease on the target; Since we have two diseases applied, that means we’re healing ourselves for 10%. You may need the heal, you may not, but the attack is dealing damage regardless which will build threat and the heal is just an added bonus. If you started the fight off with some runic power already built up then you can skip this attack and move on to Frost Strike instead.

Frost Strike comes up next to make use of our Runic Power (RP). Assuming you hit with the previous spells you should have enough RP built up to use this when starting the fight with no RP at all, even if you are not using the glyph. This is a nice, hard hitting attack to use up your RP. Your only other option for using RP at this level is Death Coil, which is a decent attack that can be used at range, but I prefer sticking with Frost Strike unless something causes me to be distanced from the boss.

At level 60 you don’t have access to Obliterate just yet, so for now you are going to rotate between the spells already mentioned. When your diseases are getting ready to fall off, go ahead and reapply them with Icy Touch and Plague Strike (even if you have the Glyph of Disease), make use of Blood Strike whenever your blood runes are available, keep your RP down around 20-40 by making use of Frost Strike, and when you feel like you need a boost to your health go ahead and take advantage of Death Strike for the 10% heal.

If you are facing a boss that has an attack such as Fear, knock back, stun, or something that otherwise has a chance of putting distance between yourself and the boss, then you may want to make use of the time to get back to melee range of the boss by casting Death Coil. Your two ranged attacks right now are Icy Touch, Death Coil, and Howling Blast so if you get separated from the boss go ahead and make use of one of them while you move back in so that you continue to generate what threat you can while closing back in. I recommend Death Coil first, Icy Touch second, and Howling Blast third for the sake of making the best use of your resources.

If anyone manages to pull threat off of you then your only option for this level range to taunt them with is Death Grip. Since this is the only “taunt” we have right now I never use Death Grip for pulling a boss unless it’s absolutely necessary. If one of the dps pulls the boss off of me by jumping the gun then I will use it at that time, but using it to start the fight off seems like a bit of a waste to me, so I save it until it’s needed. For trash pulls, Death Grip is fine to use whenever needed, especially to get a caster within melee range, but for bosses I like to save it. There’s nothing wrong with casting Death Grip to start off a boss fight, but from my experience it’s unnecessary and better saved for a time when it’s actually needed.

Watch Your Buffs
I want to point out that the spec that I suggest above gives you a couple of buffs that you need to keep an eye out for.

Killing Machine: This talent gives your auto-attacks a chance to make your next Frost attack (Icy Touch, Howling Blast, Frost Strike) an auto-crit.

Rime: This talent gives you the Freezing Fog buff which makes your next Howling Blast cost no runes to cast.

You don’t want to miss out on free critical hits, and you don’t want to miss out on free AoE damage. Better yet, you don’t want to miss out on free AoE damage that will automatically crit if you happen to have both of them proc at the same time.

Killing Machine is a PPM (Procs Per Minute) buff, meaning that it can only happen so many times each minute. Because of this you are going to have a higher chance of getting this buff by using a slow, two-handed weapon than you will from dual wielding and/or using fast weapons. Killing Machine isn’t taken quite so often by dual wielding Frost tanks, so if you are not using a big two-hander then you may want to consider spending those five talent points in Icy Talons instead to reduce your target’s attack speed while also increasing your own, and you may swap the one point in Acclimation to Improved Icy Talons to provide a melee haste buff to your party as well as a constant haste buff to yourself.

Because of the Death Knight’s unique resource system(s), you need to be able to manage both resources without digging yourself into a hole of inactivity where all of your runes are on cooldown and you have no runic power to use. Using your Runes too fast on low damage or low threat spells is not going to pay off for you in Runic Power. Similarly, though somewhat opposite, not using your Runic Power means that you’re wasting the resources generated by your Rune abilities. Use your Rune powers to deal the damage you need to supply your Runic Power, and then burn through your Runic Power while your Runes are cooling down. Keeping that cycle up is how you manage a constant stream of threat on your targets.


Posted by on February 12, 2010 in Death Knight, Guide, Leveling


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Real PUGs of Power: Mr. I Had A Group Full Of Win’s Guys

Over the weekend I decided to go ahead and roll that Death Knight Tank I had mentioned last week. I have a post in progress to discuss the details of tanking with a Frost DK that should be coming out sometime this week, but if you want details on him right now then you can check out his armory link: Psynister. I bet you didn’t see that name coming, did you?

Today I want to tell you about an especially great group that I found myself in over the weekend. Generally when I queue for a random I run the dungeon and then regardless of how good/bad we did I go ahead and leave group and go find fresh group all together. That seems to be the norm from how quickly most people drop group after the final boss is down.

There was something different about this group though, so I went ahead and stuck with them. I think three of us asked at about the same time after the first run if everyone was up for another. With some amount of surprise from me everyone said yes. The second dungeon went down and we queued up as a group again. I think all together we did three dungeons, but there may have been a fourth in there as well.

I think as a group we functioned extremely well in the dungeons that we ran, and it was interesting to see that even though both the warrior and myself were queued for both Tank and DPS, the role of Tanking was mine every time we queued. I’ve seen the LFG tool swap people’s positions before so I know it can change, but every time it came up as mine.

Generally I like to keep my Real PUGs of Power posts to a single person, but this group worked so well together that I’m throwing them all in there together. Deciding on the title was a bit of a challenge this time since it’s about four people instead of only one, but it works for me even if it is a bit awkward. With four people deserving some praise, I initially was just going to write a regular post about it, but I think something like this shows a bit more sincerity when I say thank you.

Mr. I Had A Group Full Of Win’s Guys
Bethannie, Druid Heals
Nikedawg, Warrior DPS
Aldy, Mage DPS
Adolat, Priest DPS

Psynister’s Notebook presents: Real PUGs of Power

(Real PUGs of Poweeeer)

Today we salute you Mr. I Had A Group Full Of Win’s Guys.

(Mr. I Had A Group Full Of Wiiiinn’s Guys!)

You’ve shown us how a real group clears an instance.
With DoT’s, HoT’s, AoE’s, and Whirlwinds.

(I think we could one-shot Arthas!)

Taking down bosses and trash mobs with ease,
And acknowledging the strengths of every member.

(Great job with the heals!)

Pathing mobs get pulled, no problem.
Mage’s pet was set to aggressive, who cares?
The tank got mind controlled? Lets bring him down!

(Dang it, I wanted to kill him!)

So crack open an ice cold Frost Tank’s heart, you group full of epic win.
There’s no such thing as an unbeatable instance, when the five of you group together.

(Mr. I Had A Group Full of Wiiiinn’s Guys!)


In case you’re wondering, yes the warrior did really try to kill me when I got mind controlled just before the boss in that screen shot went down. We were both trying to fill that tank spot each time we queued, and he never got it. I planned to give him the chance regardless in the next run since I have yet to be chosen as DPS, but the group needed to split right after that boss, so I never got the chance. It was all in good fun (at least, I think it was…) and I think we all had a great time and enjoyed the group.

Hopefully luck will be on my side and I’ll find myself queued up with them another time in the future.


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