[Death Knight][Blood] DPS Death Knight Leveling Guide - Talents and Tips

NOTE: The Blood Tree incurs a LOT of major changes with the 3.1 patch that should be released within the next few weeks. As such, this guide will be outdated (as will most other Death Knight build guides actually). I'll update it as soon as I test a few new builds.

[Blood] DPS Death Knight Leveling Guide

Jame's has a great guide for leveling up Death Knights (Alliance, Horde), but he uses the Unholy tree during it. I decided to use the Blood tree instead. To use this guide, whenever Jame's guide tells you to use your talent points, spend them in the next items down the list.

Table of Contents


  1. Improved Icy Touch
  2. Improved Icy Touch
  3. Improved Icy Touch
  4. Glacier Rot
  5. Glacier Rot
  6. Black Ice
  7. Black Ice
  8. Black Ice
  9. Black Ice
  10. Black Ice
  11. Icy Talons
  12. Icy Talons
  13. Icy Talons
  14. Icy Talons
  15. Icy Talons
  16. Annihilation
  17. Annihilation
  18. Annihilation
  19. Vicious Strikes*
  20. Vicious Strikes*
  21. Butchery
  22. Butchery
  23. Subversion
  24. Subversion
  25. Subversion
  26. Bladed Armor
  27. Bladed Armor
  28. Bladed Armor
  29. Bladed Armor
  30. Bladed Armor
  31. Rune Tap
  32. Death Rune Mastery
  33. Death Rune Mastery
  34. Death Rune Mastery
  35. Dark Conviction
  36. Improved Rune Tap
  37. Improved Rune Tap
  38. Improved Rune Tap
  39. Dark Conviction
  40. Mark of Blood
  41. Veteran of the Third War
  42. Veteran of the Third War
  43. Veteran of the Third War
  44. Dark Conviction
  45. Dark Conviction
  46. Dark Conviction
  47. Bloody Strikes
  48. Bloody Strikes
  49. Bloody Strikes
  50. Bloody Vengeance
  51. Bloody Vengeance
  52. Bloody Vengeance
  53. Blood Worms
  54. Blood Worms
  55. Blood Worms
  56. Hysteria
  57. Blood Aura
  58. Blood Aura
  59. Vampiric Blood
  60. Abomination's Might
  61. Heart Strike
  62. Might of Mograine
  63. Might of Mograine
  64. Might of Mograine
  65. Abomination's Might
  66. Blood Gourged
  67. Blood Gourged
  68. Blood Gourged
  69. Blood Gourged
  70. Blood Gourged
  71. Dancing Rune Weapon

51/18/2 Blood Specification

* Alternatively, instead of Vicious Strikes, you could place those 2 points into Two Handed Weapon Specialization for a weapon damage boost.

53/18/0 Blood Specification

Some people may prefer to complete their Blood tree talents before spending any in Frost and Unholy. There is nothing wrong with that. The benefit you get from finishing your non-Blood talents is your lower level actions (Icy Touch, Plague Strike, Death Strike) will be stronger while leveling. The increased attack speed from Icy Talons is also great in combination with Blood Aura. Finishing your Blood tree first gives you Dancing Rune Weapon around level 60 (essentially right out of the starting area) instead of level 80. This is not a light consideration since Dancing Rune Weapon can be a massive damage boost, especially in boss fights.

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Talents Left Out

These are the talents in the Blood tree that were left out of this build and why they do not help with this build.

Blade Barrier

This is a good talent for tanks, but since this is a DPS build, it doesn't really help with our primary objective (that is, maximizing damage output). The 5 points are much better spent elsewhere.

Scent of Blood

This is perhaps the only useless talent in the Blood tree. Blood Death Knights generate runic power so quickly, that having a 20% chance to generate some every 20 seconds is less than useless.

Two Handed Weapon Specialization

This is a nice talent and is located in a great place in the talent tree, however, it limits you as to what weapons you can use. To be more versatile, don't spend the points here.

Spell Deflection

This is a great way to mitigate some direct spell damage, but it doesn't fit well with this build. It is a good alternative talent if you don't need some of the other basic talents (e.g. Two-handed Weapon Specilization).

Sudden Doom

This isn't a great talent for where it is in the tree.

Will of the Necropolis

This is a great talent as it stands now; however, the 3.0.8 patch that is being released soon takes away the major advantage of this talent (the increased armor when you are low on health). In my opinion, this talent gets weakened a ton in the new patch and will no longer be worth the 3 points, especially at that level on the tree.

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Alternative Talents

These are talents that were left out, but could fit in this build by changing other talents out (mainly from the Frost tree).


This is a great talent, especially for leveling and in Battlegrounds. It allows you to decrease your downtime between targets (both PvE and PvP).


Increased Damage, Increased Healing, lower cooldown for Death & Decay. 2 major positives and 1 minor positive ... can't really complain there.

Unholy Command

Lower cooldown on Death Grip is useful for almost any Death Knight build.

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Attack Rotations

As with any character, you have to manage your resources when using abilities. Death Knights have 2 resources to manage: Runes and Runic Power. These rotations attempt to maximize damage while organizing usage or runes and runic power in an efficient manor.

Single Target

Healing Rotation

  1. Icy Touch --> Plague Strike --> Death Strike --> Heart Strike --> Heart Strike --> Death Coil --> Obliterate --> Death Coil
  2. Icy Touch --> Plague Strike --> Heart Strike --> Heart Strike --> Heart Strike --> Death Coil --> Obliterate --> Death Coil --> Repeat 2

Initial Healing Attack
/castsequence reset=10 Icy Touch, Plague Strike, Death Strike,
 Heart Strike, Heart Strike, Death Coil, Obliterate, Death Coil

Repeatable Attack
/castsequence reset=10 Icy Touch, Plague Strike, Heart Strike,
 Heart Strike, Heart Strike, Death Coil, Obliterate, Death Coil

NOTE: The reset=10 portion allows you to keep your next available spell active on the macro until its sure your runes have recharged. That way, if you are switching targets in battle, you can keep calling the macro and it will continue in the list. Once you've stopped attacking for 10 seconds, it resets for your next set of attacks.

Damage Rotation

  1. Icy Touch --> Plague Strike --> Obliterate --> Heart Strike --> Heart Strike --> Death Coil --> Obliterate --> Death Coil
  2. Icy Touch --> Plague Strike --> Heart Strike --> Heart Strike --> Heart Strike --> Death Coil --> Obliterate --> Death Coil --> Repeat 2

Initial Damage Attack
/castsequence reset=10 Icy Touch, Plague Strike, Obliterate,
 Heart Strike, Heart Strike, Death Coil, Obliterate, Death Coil

Multiple Targets

  1. Icy Touch --> Plague Strike --> Pestilence --> Blood Boil --> Death Coil --> Death Strike --> Death Coil
  2. Icy Touch --> Plague Strike --> Blood Boil --> Blood Boil --> Death Coil --> Blood Boil --> Death Coil --> Repeat 2

When a mob dies, switch to the one with the highest amount of hit points and continue with the attack sequence.

Initial Multiple Attack

/castsequence reset=10 Icy Touch, Plague Strike, Pestilence,
 Blood Boil, Death Coil, Death Strike, Death Coil

Repeatable Multiple Attack

/castsequence reset=combat/target Icy Touch, Plague Strike, Blood Boil,
 Blood Boil, Death Coil, Blood Boil, Death Coil

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Major Glyphs

Glyph of Death Strike

Mandatory - Increase Death Strike damage. The 3.0.8 patch nerfed this glyph (a lot), however it is still better than any other glyph for this build (since you use Death Strike a lot).

Glyph of Obliterate

Mandatory - With the 3.0.8 patch, this changes to a pure damage increase, making it required for this build.

Glyph of Chains of Ice

Optional - Causing Frost damage while slowing the target ... what's not to like?

Glyph of Rune Tap

Optional - When in parties, your group members will be thankful for this Glyph. Doesn't help with damage, but an instant 10% heal for the entire party is always helpful.

Glyph of Blood Boil

Optional - The damage output decreases with this glyph, but it slows targets down, which can be helpful when dealing with a lot of mobs.

Minor Glyphs

Glyph of Pestilence

Increases the affected area of Pestilence by 5 yards (that is, increased AoE).

Glyph of Blood Tap

No damage to you when using Blood Tap.

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The gear for this build is relatively simple. Always use Plate armor. Prefer modifications that increase the following attributes in the given order:

  1. Strength
  2. Critical Strike
  3. Stamina
  4. Armor Rating

Strength increases both your attack power and parry rating. Critical Strike increases your burst damage. Stamina increases your hit points. Armor rating (with Bladed Armor) increases your attack power.


The goal of this build is to provide high DPS and self-healing/life drain capabilities. This gives you the ability to solo most of the quests to get to Level 80 as well as provide a nice DPS character for raids. Additionally, its burst damage is great for PvP encounters.

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