Blood DK has 3 viable covenants, all with different niches. Kyrian is the strongest general use covenant, Necrolord is unmatched when you want to group up mobs and is also the simplest covenant to play, while Night Fae is the strongest defensive option on single target and also provides the most mobility.
Signature ability: Summon Steward is an ability every Kyrian gets regardless of their class. This signature ability will give you a potion called Phial of Serenity which gives you an extra health pot that doesn’t share a cooldown with the normal health potions and healthstones. It also has the additional effects of removing debuffs such as bleeds and diseases on you which is very valuable in both dungeons and raids.
Death Knight Specific Covenant Ability: Shackle the Unworthy is a 14 second (17 with the Proliferation conduit) DoT, that will spread to a nearby enemy whenever you use a rune spending attack on the target. With Unity this will grant a 4% damage buff stacking up to 5 times and refund a rune every time the debuff spreads to a new target. In aoe this is an enormous amount of resources, which synergises very well with the set bonus to help maximise your Dancing Rune Weapon uptime.
Signature Ability: Fleshcraft is the ability every Necrolord gets regardless of class. The ability itself provides a shield, the strength of which is based on time channeled. Additionally you gain 20% DR while it is channeling. It is a unique channel so you are able to dodge, parry and block while channeling. This is an insanely good ability as you’re pretty much immortal while channeling.
Death Knight Specific Covenant Ability: Abomination Limb (otherwise known as slappy hands) is a part DPS part utility 2-minute cooldown.
The ability deals high damage to all enemies around you over 12 seconds and grants 3 Bone Shield charges every 6 seconds. With Unity this is increased to a 16s duration and 3 Bone Shield charges every 4s and it will additionally increase your damage dealt to enemies hit by 20% for 12s. The ability will also grip in targets up to 20 yards away every second which can be useful to group up any stray mobs in dungeons and raid boss fights.
In fights where you don’t need to use Abomination Limb to group enemies you should simply aim to press it on cooldown for damage. In addition to being the simplest Blood Death Knight covenant to play, this is also the best overall covenant for all 3 DK specs if you wish to play multiple specs and only 1 covenant.
Signature Ability: Soul Shape is the ability every Night Fae gets regardless of Class. The added mobility is very nice if you find yourself in a situation where you have to move far but Death’s Advance and Wraith Walk aren’t enough. Overall very welcome on a low mobility tank such as DK.
Death Knight Specific Covenant Ability: Death's Due is an ability that replaces Death and Decay with an empowered version of it. While standing in Death's Due it acts as a Death and Decay, but with the added benefit reducing enemy damage dealt to you by 2% when hit with Heart Strike, stacking up to 8% and granting you up to 8% strength. With Unity the strength buff is increased to 5% per stack up to 20% and it persists for 2s longer, and additionally while standing in Death's Due your runic power generation is increased by 20%. Death's Due is also reset by Crimson Scourge procs, as with Death and Decay.
For purely defensive purposes 8% damage reduction is immensely powerful. This along with 20% increased runic power generation and strength will give you far more resources to Death Strike throughout a fight and make you much more survivable.
Signature Ability: Door of Shadows is the ability every Venthyr gets regardless of class. As a largely immobile class, the teleport this ability provides can be very useful for us.
Death Knight Specific Covenant Ability: Swarming Mist deals moderate damage to all enemies within 10 yards for 8s, grants 10% dodge and generates 3 runic power per enemy hit up to 15 runic power max. With Unity when Swarming Mist expires it will deal a burst of damage to 5 nearby enemies, increased by 2% for every runic power spent during the ability and heals the player for 25% of that.
With the tier set already increasing your runic power generation significantly, and the Unity bonus encouraging an inherently risky playstyle of overspending resources, this is by far the weakest option for Blood DK in the current tier.
Soulbinds and Conduits
In multi-target scenarios where you can reliable benefit from Hammer of Genesis, this can outperform your third potency conduit.
As with Necrolord there may be some situations where double finesse conduits can outperform a second endurance conduit.
On single target Dauntless Duelist can outperform a third potency conduit, and should be prioritised.
I will list all conduits for Blood Death Knight and rank them from best to worst.
You should always aim to have the covenant specific conduit in a potency slot.
- Proliferation, Brutal Grasp, Withering Ground, or Impenetrable Gloom
- Withering Plague
- Eternal Hunger
- Adaptive Armor Fragment
- Debilitating Malady
Although Eternal Hunger is an unholy conduit, it will increase the damage done by your Dancing Rune Weapon, and as such is one of our best options for pure DPS. If you wish to be as durable as possible then Adaptive Armor Fragment is a better choice.
You will most likely only ever use the top 3 here.
Crimson Rune Weapon should be your go-to legendary in all situations, as the reduced cooldown of Dancing Rune Weapon has very potent synergy with the Blood DK tier set Endless Rune Waltz, allowing you to reach 90% uptime of Dancing Rune Weapon on some fights.
Unity (Double Legendary)
The most notable covenant legendary for Blood DK is Final Sentence, which can provide you with an enormous amount of resources and damage when you can reliably spread Shackle the Unworthy to multiple targets. This makes Kyrian a true powerhouse in keys and raid fights with regular add spawns.
Abomination’s Frenzy increases the duration of Abom Limb by 33% which is very nice for grouping adds, and provides a total of 15 Bone Shield charges over its duration in addition to a reasonable 20% damage debuff to an enemy when they are first damaged by your limb. Overall a reasonable legendary, but the strength of Necrolord has always been in the damage and utility of the base ability.
Rampant Transference improves the strength buff of Death’s Due to 5% per stack, up to 20% maximum, and grants you 20% increased runic power generation while you remain in the AoE. Overall a strong main stat buff with high uptime due to Crimson Scourge procs, though the extra Runic Power is wasted more often than not.
Insatiable Hunger is the most lackluster of the covenant legendaries. With a covenant ability that floods you with even more Runic Power; forcing Death Strike to compete for globals with Heart Strike leading to lower Dancing Rune Weapon uptime. In addition to this the legendary.
- Death knight 2 set - Heart Strike increases the duration of Dancing Rune Weapon by 0.5 seconds and additionally gives you a 1% strength increase per cast capped at 40% increased strength; this persists for 10 seconds after Dancing Rune Weapon ends.
- Death knight 4 set, taking damage has a 100% chance equal to your parry chance to lash out, using heart strike. Dancing Rune Weapon summons an additional weapon.
- There aren't really any playstyle changes with our tier set. The only thing would be prioritizing Heart Strike during Dancing Rune Weapon to extend it for as long as possible and stacking up the strength buff as high as possible.
Some strong pieces to look for or potentially spend Dinars on are:
Gavel of the First Arbiter: The strongest weapon currently in the game, the amount of damage this can do is truly absurd, and more than makes up for its lack of secondaries. Additionally most of the boons have some strong defensive benefits too.
Old Warrior’s Soul: A decent stat proc trinket, and provides some small raid healing. A somewhat high haste stat stick that takes a small amount of time to ramp up. One of the best, and most versatile, trinkets available even after the 10% nerf in season 4.
Reactive Defense Matrix: A pretty strong trinket with a high proc rate, reflecting a moderate amount of damage taken back to your attacker.
Shard of Annhylde’s Aegis: An insanely powerful defensive trinket for M+ and or any situation where you’re being hit by multiple damage instances at once as this has no cap or internal cooldown on its absorb once used.
Weave of Warped Fates or Splintered Heart of Al’ar: Both of these trinkets allow you to “Cheat Death” once every 8 minutes, both are very powerful for progression raiding as usually a tank death would be an automatic wipe. If you have the choice of either, then Weave of Warped Fates is marginally better, due to the lack of friendly fire when the cheat death procs.
Logic Loop of Recursion and Overclocking Bit Band: The combination of these two rings will give you a significant amount of free haste (90 haste at 290), making them far over budgeted compared to their competition.
Soleah’s Secret Technique: A fairly simple stat stick trinket that you use on an ally to gain their highest stat. With many classes favouring haste, it should be easy to get a desirable stat with this.
Codex of the First Technique: When taking heavy damage this is one of the best trinkets in the game, reflecting 10% of damage taken from all sources to your target, with a cap that you will never realistically hit. Excellent in high keys or Mythic raid.
Other weapons and shields from later bosses such as Jaithys, the Prison Blade are strong, but have worse stats than their competition.