Death Knight Gear – A Guide for Death Knight Tanks

Death Knight Blood-spec Gear

Like it or not, gear is an important part of World of Warcraft. If you want to tank opponents as a Blood-spec Death Knight, you need to have the best Death Knight gear that you can get your hands on. The question is, what should you be looking for while you are equipping your Death Knight?

Recommend Gear Priority

Death Knight Gear

Here is the order of importance I recommend giving the stats you'll find on gear. This means that, all things being equal, you'd take gear with a higher-priority stat bonus over gear with a lower-priority stat bonus.

Stamina > Armor > Mastery > Avoidance (Dodge/Parry) > Expertise > Hit

At the moment, I still think Stamina is of critical importance to tanks. There has been some talk that this is not the case, due to the way dungeons work in Cataclysm. Previously, monsters hit like trucks, and so tanks had to stack stamina hard to survive. In Cataclysm, monsters don't hit as hard (relative to the new level cap) but healers are more strained for mana. Avoiding damage therefor might be the most important trait.

The counter-argument to this is that a tank with a huge health pool, via stacking of Stamina, gives a healer less reason to worry. The healer can use his or her more efficient, slow-cast heals and won't have to frequently use mana-hog emergency heals if the tank is hit with burst damage. In addition, there are some monsters that hit hard with magical damage, which can't be parried or dodged.

Alternate Gear Priority

Best Death Knight Gear

Avoidance (Dodge/Parry) > Mastery > Armor > Stamina > Expertise > Hit

This alternative gear priority takes into account the argument that avoidance may be better than having a huge hitpoint pool. By avoiding damage as much as possible, this tank could put theoretically less strain on his healer's mana pool, making fights easier to complete.

Beyond the obvious priority on Dodge and Parry, this priority wants a lot of Mastery, because it provides a damage shield whenever you use Death Strike (and you should be using Death Strike whenever it's available and your health isn't at 100%).

Please note that each point of Strength adds .25 Parry rating, so Strength gear is important if you want to maximize your Parry rating. Agility can provide dodge rating, but it is generally not considered as important, because it does not also offer an Attack Power increase like Strength does. In addition, Agility is pretty rare on plate armor.

Further Gear Priority Thoughts

The debate about the important of Stamina and Avoidance on Death Knight gear is far from settled. It will probably be several months before either becomes an obvious victor. In fact, given how hard some monsters hit with spells, there may end up being a split among tanks. Avoidance may prove better in some fights, while Stamina may prove best for others.

I rank Expertise and Hit low because tanks are not having a difficult time generating threat. If there was a change in gameplay mechanics that made threat more difficult to obtain, this recommendation might change, because you can't obtain any threat if you can't hit monsters reliability.

There are some stats that you should avoid, as well. They're generally obvious, but I'll list them here.

  • Agility – Provides only Dodge
  • Intellect – Provides no bonuses.
  • Spirit – Provides no bonuses.

This post is part of the series: Death Knight Blood Spec Guide

Want to play a Blood-spec Death Knight in World of Warcraft? This guide provides you with the info you need to know to get started.
  1. World of Warcraft Death Knight Blood Spec Guide Part 1: Basics
  2. World of Warcraft Death Knight Blood Spec Guide Part 2: Talents
  3. World of Warcraft Death Knight Blood Spec Guide Part 3: Abilities and Rotations
  4. World of Warcraft Death Knight Blood Spec Guide Part 4: Gear
  5. The Death Knight – One Fun Class
  6. WoW Patch 3.1 Proposed Class Changes – Death Knight
  7. The Definitive Guide to the Post 3.1 DPS Death Knight