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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Solo Blood Death Knight Rotation

See also:
Solo Blood Death Knight Spec
Solo Blood Death Knight Glyphs
Solo Blood Death Knight Gear

Following my previous post, here's a quick primer on the ideal rotation for Blood. This works for both solo-ing and raiding. Of course, a raider needs to keep other things in mind as well, which are not the scope of this article, but you can find more on the subject on such theorycrafting sites as the Elitist Jerks forums.

Now I'm sure that everyone who's played a Death Knight has at least a basic understanding of how the resource system works. I will attempt to give a short explanation for those who are just starting out as a Death Knight.

Basically there are 2 resources: Runes and Runic Power. Runes start out as "activated" i.e. ready to be used. Runic Power starts at zero and in a way is similar to a Warrior's Rage.

There are 6 Runes: 2 of each Blood, Frost and Unholy. As a general rule, special weapon strikes use one or more of these runes. A rune will "recharge" or activate in 10 seconds after being used. The weapon strikes that Blood uses are: Icy Touch (uses 1 Frost Rune), Plague Strike (uses 1 Unholy Rune), Heart Strike (or Blood Strike before you get access to Heart Strike) (uses 1 Blood Rune) and Death Strike (uses 1 Frost and 1 Unholy Rune).

You should always start your rotation with either Icy Touch or Plague Strike in order to apply their 2 diseases to the target. I always start with Icy Touch because it's a ranged ability and by the time the mob gets in melee range, my Global Cooldown (GCD) is over and I can Plague Strike immediately. The 2 diseases (Frost Fever and Blood Plague) are very important on a target because they allow your 2 most important strikes (Heart Strike and Death Strike to deal considerably more damage).

A special weapon strike will also generate Runic Power. You can have a maximum of 100 Runic Power (or 130 when talented). Every once in a while in your rotation you will need to dispose of this Runic Power (also called "dumping") by using an ability that's fueled by Runic Power. For my build, Death Coil is the main Runic Power dump. Dancing Rune Weapon is better than Death Coil whenever its cooldown is up, but personally I only use it on tougher mobs because regular mobs go down so fast that I don't feel it's necessary to use it on them. If you let your Runic Power build up to maximum, you will lose DPS if you don't use it, so make sure you do.

Here's the rotation. I will assume you are starting the fight with all Runes off cooldown.
BBFFUU (2 Blood, 2 Frost, 2 Unholy)

Icy Touch (1 Frost) -> BB_FUU
Plague Strike (1 Unholy) -> BB_F_U
Heart Strike (1 Blood) -> _B_F_U
Heart Strike (1 Blood) -> _ _ _F_U
Death Strike (1 Frost, 1 Unholy) -> ______ (this also causes our Frost and Unholy Runes to convert to Death Runes when they activate, thanks to Death Rune Mastery)
Death Coil

From here on it depends what you are fighting. For normal mobs, once I get to use my Runic Power Dump, they are dead, so I just start all over for the next mob.

For elites and/or tougher mobs, you can either choose to repeat the rotation from the beginning, so as to refresh your diseases on the mob (remember, Heart Strike and Death Strike both do more damage the more diseases you have on the target). Alternately, at this point you will also have enough resources (2 Blood Runes and 2 Death Runes) to spam 4x Heart Strikes like so:

Heart Strike
Heart Strike
Heart Strike
Heart Strike
Death Coil

So that's the basic rotation for Blood in a nutshell. Of course, there are other abilities at our disposal. For example, I will also use Rune Strike whenever it becomes available although truth be told, it's more of a tanking ability and now it strikes for less damage than before so I suspect that for my Blood build Death Coil still remains a better alternative. Don't quote me on that yet because I haven't tested extensively since Rune Strike's damage was nerfed but that's just my feeling. I would actually prefer I wouldn't use Rune Strike anymore because it would simplify my rotation and I could also remove another skill from the bar.

One other thing that you need to bear in mind is that Blood's rotation is very tight, meaning that if you miss a strike or you use the wrong one, you will mess up your entire rotation. I am guilty of that on a regular basis usually due to pressing the wrong button. On the other hand, if you get it right, everything runs like clockwork and killing becomes a beautiful dance of death.

Fighting multiple mobs (AoE)
Unfortunately Blood isn't the best Death Knight spec for AoE but we can manage. I admit that I tend to become rather chaotic in my rotation when I have to fight multiple mobs. I will usually throw out there any ability that has enough Runic Power or Runes. Which is not good. I really need to go out there with a target dummy and practice a good rotation. Essentially you will need to use something like this: Death and Decay, then Icy Touch, Plague Strike on one mob, then Pestilence to spread the diseases on all other mobs, Death Coil on the first mob and then Blood Boil to deal AoE damage to all mobs (if your Blood Rune has activated). I usually mess up this rotation badly and I'm all over the place with my abilities. Need... more... self... control...

As a final word, I will mention Obliterate. Before patch 3.1 (I believe), I was using Obliterate instead of Death Strike. Death Strike was used only for healing. Nowadays, I am very happy to completely remove Obliterate from my bar. If you are still thinking of using it as Blood, forget it. Death Strike is the way to go, especially when talented and glyphed.

See also:
Solo Blood Death Knight Spec
Solo Blood Death Knight Glyphs
Solo Blood Death Knight Gear

12 comments:

roguedubb said...

I worked out a similar rotation, but I put it all into a single macro. I don't usually include Death Strike as it locks up all my runes leaving me unable to react to new situations (I use this for PVE and PVP). I take out the Rune Strike at the end if I'm not tanking as it is rather threat intensive, but when soloing I always seem to have an excess of Runic Power and Rune Strike can help to siphon it off.

#showtooltip
/targetenemy [noharm]
/stopmacro [noharm]
/startattack
/castsequence [mod] Death Coil; reset=5 Icy Touch, Plague Strike, Heart Strike
/use Talisman of the Tundra
/use Fury of the Crimson Drake
/cast Rune Strike

Darth Solo said...

Thanks for that. Personally I don't like using macros for rotations because it gives me satisfaction to press those particular keys. Just like you said, in a solo situation there's usually an excess of Runic Power that can be used on Rune Strike but I'm wondering if a talented and glyphed Death Coil wouldn't give better damage.

frogi said...

Good post mate although one thing I would now love you to over is the dreaded "Glyph of Disease." I've heard from the EJ forums that this glyph will lover your DPS but, for me as a HC grinder, wouldn't it be better since I'm always fighting against packs of mobs. I think it might just be because I used to be Unholy and used to my Disease refreshing without my input except SS.

You should maybe do one of the mod macros with Rune Strike:
#showtooltip
/cast Death Coil
/equip [mod] Rune Strike

Or one that would cast the DC if under 60 RP but if over it would cast DC then queue RS:
#showtooltip
/cast Death Coil
/cast !Rune Strike

veliaf said...

Best thing that ever happened to me while leveling my Death Knight was discovering the Glyph of Death Grip - http://www.wowhead.com/?item=43541. Seriously. Plus it eliminates the need for pulling with Icy Touch as mentioned in the post, which is only 20 yards anyway I think.

DaveTheWaveUSMC said...

Glyph of Death Grip is awesome for leveling. I really want to try Blood, but my DK is only at 64 and I will not give up "On a Pale Horse" till later. That extra speed is wicked.

Just picked up flying with him in Outland, WOW.

My main is only 74 so so no flying yet for him.

Darth Solo said...

@frogi thanks for the macro. My dilemma still remains: does a talented and glyphed Death Coil do more damage per Runic Power than a Rune Strike? In that case I will just eliminate Rune Strike from my rotation, even though it doesn't affect the GCD. I will have to test this on a dummy when I get back into the game.

@veliaf as good as the Glyph of Death Grip sounds, I'm not sure I would want to sacrifice another important glyph for it. Don't get me wrong, I love Death Grip to death but a 30 second cooldown is very acceptable. From what people are saying, this is a very nice glyph for leveling though, so you can choose to swap it out for something else at 80. The reason why I pull with Icy Touch is because by the time the mob is in melee range my GCD is over and I can use Plague Strike immediately.

@DaveTheWaveUSMC you can still pick On a Pale Horse if you switch some talents around. What I like to do is simply to create another spec with Dual Spec, for example Unholy, in which I include On a Pale Horse. So whenever I need to travel greater distances I can switch to my alternate spec.

Scout said...

Heh, I mentioned Glyph of Death Grip on the post above before seeing the comments here! Nice to see I'm not the only one who likes it-especially for leveling! :)

And On a Pale Horse is a must for my leveling DKs as well. I actually haven't bought a second spec on ANY of my characters-and I have 5 80s and 7 more over 70.

As for Blood spec, I haven't tried it personally. My 80 is Frost, my 75 is Unholy, and my others who are hovering around 60 are also Unholy. My husband's 80 is Blood-and those little worms completely squick me out. Heh, maybe it's a girl thing. ;) But I am pretty happy with my Unholy, especially with the Ghoul-it's almost like being a melee hunter! :)

DaveTheWaveUSMC said...

@Scout I fininally turned off the auto cast on LEAP for my ghoul. With teh Glyph of Death Grip, he was always out leaping my grip. Now I send him in with LEAP on bigger guys I do not want/need to pull with the grip.

Scout said...

Dave,

Storytime...it was just a few weeks after Wrath came out. My family and I made our new Death Knights. We finished the starter zone and headed to Thrallmar. My daughter was playing around, checking spells out, and makes her ghoul "leap" towards my husband's character(note: we are all Horde, PvE realm, not flagged, not dueling, and partied). Suddenly the guards came out of nowhere to kill her ghoul and then her!

We sat there stunned for awhile, not certain what had happened. And I have turned off Leap on all of my ghouls ever since!

Darth Solo said...

@Scout lol! Hell of a story. Might have been bugged, eh?

WOW Death Knight Guide said...

Death Knight, I really want to try this character class. The way a warrior and dark arts work is so cool. He can kill enemies by weakening them and even slowing them, dealing damages like no other and healing from it. He can also summon minions which is way too creepy. I'll try this guide sometimes :)

WOW Death Knight Guide

http://www.wowstrategybook.com/wow-death-knight-guide.php

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Darth Solo said...

To me a Death Knight is more like a dark Paladin but waaay cooler.