Death Knights as Tanks


I’ll confess.

Lately I’ve had a bit of class envy developing. I’ve watched as a couple of the folks in our guild re-roll Death Knights and gear up along side me as we do our weekly raiding routine. I embraced my new tanking brothers and was happy to have some new blood in the tanking ranks.

But then I saw something else happening. I saw those same DK’s, who started raiding weeks behind me, quickly catch up. When checking who should tank what, I would ask, what’s your armor up to now? Your avoidance? I could see that their hitpoints were quickly matching and then surpassing my own. As well as their armor quickly caught up with, and also passed. And then I see that the avoidance as well? Wait a minute, what’s going on here?

I’ll admit that when DK’s originally came out, I did not give them much of a second glance when it came to tanking. I fully expected DK’s to be OP in the DPS department, but I was not prepared for what they might be capable of in the tanking department too.

Now, as the raid leader, I always strive to put the people who are most suited for the job in the position to ensure our best chance of success. More and more, I am having to cope with my view that in most circumstances DK’s are better equipped to tank those bosses that I was so intimate with. More armor, more avoidance, more health, better DPS, better ability uptime… Why wouldn’t I put those guys as the front man?

I realize that patch 3.1 is bringing DK’s down a bit, but I begin to wonder if I’ll be spending more and more time in my upcoming secondary spec as DPS rather than up front face smashing as a tank.


  1. Well thats a very noble and laudable attitude. However, dont just switch players in and out until you’ve tried the content yourself. I think its bad for business. I dont even believe the very best guilds are doing this in order to be successful. There’s like a sub strata of guilds out there who believe deeply in numbers and analysis. Dont assume they’re right.

    There’s a certain raiding magic that occurs for sucessful progression raids. Some raids have it, some do not. You know when you have it, and you know when you dont, even if you cant put your finger on it. It can ever vary from night to night with the same group of players. Its magic because it hard to predict or even create reliably. But you know what I’m talking about.

    Technically, everything can be right but something is just wrong. And to top it all, that nooby guild on your server without a single Dk tank just jumped ahead of you in progression. I guess you should say gratz to the GM, even though you’re mad with envy, eh?

    • I’m not basing my assumptions on anything other than my own experiences. We do just fine with whatever we’ve had to work with, be it a warrior, paladin, druid or DK. I’m just saying from my own point of view, when looking at what I feel will grant us the most success in any given encounter, I will always do what I can to ensure success. And more and more these days, that move is to put the DK’s in the lead role as they are just better suited to it from a pure technical point of view.

      As far as other guilds being ahead of mine in progression, I do not care what other guilds are doing, or their rank. All that matters to me is that my guild and raids are progressing on our own, and having fun doing it.

  2. Oh well you missed my point entirely.

    See you in Ulduar. Or rather, see your 3 month old DK in Ulduar!

  3. You hit the nail on the head – i’ve been tanking since original wow and to see DK’s just strolling in really hurts, I see DK’s with 1/2 blue’s matching all my purples!

  4. No I was suggesting something else entirey but I see I’ve failed to communicate at all. I was suggesting that the best guilds in the world, and the most successful raids, do not swap their playres in and out based on the community’s buzz around a “flavor of the month” class. I tried to describe why, in a raid scenario, we all know that successful raiding is about much more than your classes and which of the 30 odd specs are hot today.

    But you missed all my points, so I basically gave up trying to show you another way to think about high end raiding, and pretended to agree with your resigned and depressing conclusion.

    Hope that clears that up at least.

  5. ps. its a different level of raid organization which I believe leads to a higher level of success. But that’s fine, you should organize your raids according to whatever criteria you believe will work. I’m was just trying to say that there are more sophisticated ways of doing it.

    • And I think I failed to communicate my thoughts on the matter as well. I am not in a high end min/max raiding guild (just downed Sarth2D this week). We progress at our own pace. All things created equally, players skill, attitude, gear level, etc, the DK will perform better due to simple game mechanics (IMHO). That is all I was saying. I’m not depressed or resigned, I’m just pointing out my thoughts.

  6. Yes I understand that, the thing is that all things are NOT created equally. The things you are assuming to be equal (skill, attitude, gear level) are in fact the least equal for pretty much all guilds.

    The things you are concerned are unequal (class & spec & mechanics designed by Blizzard) are in fact the MOST equal.

    They are subject to rigorous testing and control procedures. The former are not. People make choices for upside down reasons, that’s all I’m saying.

  7. Do equally geared DKs really have as much armor as Warriors? Isn’t that the trade-off: EH vs. avoidance. The healers in my guild have told me on several occasions that they prefer healing warriors to DKs.

    And, Bizzam, I get what you’re saying…. some fight mechanics do favor one class tank over another. What’s interesting is that JohnD was right as well, he just chose to climb on a soap box to explain it ;-)

  8. chrominix says:

    Raid chemistry counts for alot. Guilds that have it will always fair better than g better geared guilds that cant communicate or dont mesh with eachother and synergize.
    Like it or not theorycrafting is part of the game, and we all do our own bit of min/maxing when it comes to raiding. Pre patch were DK’s with best in slot items better prepared than other tanks? There is evidence that says yes.
    However, i would much rather have an Paladin or Warrior MT that has been tanking with his class for 2 years than a DK tank that was rolling a hunter 6 months ago. Post patch we will see how the nerfs effect DK tanking. Blizz has been obsessed with balancing the classes so i doubt they will let one tank class rule them all for very long, even if it means another DK nerf, after the one we just saw.

    Both JohnD and Bizzam have sound strageties. Bizzam just wants to find the highest probability for sucess, and sometimes that is at the expense of the MT class with inferior game mechanics at that given time. JohnD has made it clear that the best players and the best guilds do not yield to these game mechanics because of their superior skill and raid synergy(where there is a will, there is a way). Both seem like different ways to skin the same cat?

  9. I just had this discussion the other day with a Death kNihgt that informed me that warriors suck and need to be given some love in future patches.

    It kind of stung a bit because part of it is true and also because there are things beyond the numbers…..

    If everythign was driven purely by the numbers then why would we even play the game at all? You’d turn it on and watch it go… All by itself.

    Personally, although all classes get respect, when it comes to giving the helaing classes time to react I don’t think there is anyone that does it better than a warrior. And numbers be damned there is nothing that can compare to our abilities for buying the raid time. I mean come on… Pop shield wall, last stand, wait a bit hit enraged regen, THEN start thinking about using your trinkets and health pots and stones…. You’ve just baught your raid a whole lot of time to settle things down if need be. If you have a few deaths your druids cna throw a HoT on you and can start battle rezzing.

    Plus we keep demo up, and a warrior that knows how to alternate and time spell reflect and interrupt (if the spell casting can be effected). And I don’t see how we take a back seat to anyone.

    That isn’t even throwing in the rest of our mitigation.

    These are the reasons why my healers love to heal me. Because they know that as a warrior I’ve learned how to watch the fight and what I need to do to help get each other through the fight.

    The numbers are just numbers. What makes Warriors a great tank is we have a multitude of abilities to use when we need them to be applied. We have a lot of options that are available to us and can choose when to use them. It takes a little bit of thought to play a warrior. I like that!

  10. Kowshield says:

    “The things you are concerned are unequal (class & spec & mechanics designed by Blizzard) are in fact the MOST equal. ”

    Yes, because a Fury warrior can kick a Retardin’s ass 5/10 times. LOL

  11. JIRodriguez says:

    I find that most DK tanks are somewhat lacking in experience (and my main is a DK!). Most are new to the roll and still learning to create that “magic” that make a good run. I have ran into a few good DK tanks and had good runs with them, but most of the great tanks I have ran with are warriors or pally’s.

    I personally prefer to use my DK as an off tank/DPS. With my blood spec. I can keep a mob or two busy (and off of the casters) and keep myself alive. While maintaining a high DPS lvl.

    One of the reasons I still think warriors and pally’s do so well is due to their shield abilities. I have done some tanking and talked to the healers afterwards to see how it went from the healers perspective. Usually it is harder for a healer to keep a DK tank alive vs. a warrior or paly.

    One great combo is a paly tank with righteous fury (?) (the one that increases their threat by 200% or something crazy like that) and a DK off tank/DPS. As a DK I keep an eye out for any mobs making a break for the healers and deathgrip them back into the pally’s concecration. With the pally generating so much threat the mob switches to the paly and I can keep up the DPS on the skulled target. I have had many, many healers and casters thank me for that strategy… lol.

    All in all I believe you can have a good tank, be it warrior, pally, or DK… but it is important that the person know how to tank with that toon!