Keeping your Healers Happy: a Death Knight Tank’s Perspective

Keeping your Healers Happy: a Death Knight Tank’s Perspective

deathknight

This is a guest post by Scourge of his self titled Death Knight blog, The Scourge!

First of all, I’d like to thank Matticus, Wynthea, and Sydera for allowing me to guest post. I have been reading this blog for a long time and followed SYTYCB intently. I didn’t participate at the time for two reasons. One, I don’t heal and two, I didn’t have a niche to discuss. Wrath changed one of those drawbacks.

I originally planned on continuing to tank on my Feral Druid but I rolled a Death Knight for fun. Next thing I know I’m the 3rd level 80 in my guild as an Unholy Death Knight and I specced to tank.

Now let’s talk about keeping your healers happy. Some of this advice will apply to all tanks and some to Unholy Death Knights only.

I love healers.

I love the two healers in my small guild
I love all the healers that are on my friends lists from guilds past
I love all the healers that I pug with.

I pug a lot.

My first goal in every Heroic or raid is to complete the run. The second is to make my healers so happy that they want to heal me again. As I write this, patch 3.08 is still on the PTR and keeping healers happy as a DK isn’t always easy. It seems the damage we take can be inconsistent. For some reason healers like consistency, I figure Matticus and crew can tell you why.

Overall basics to keep your healer happy

  • First: Make sure you are geared for the content you are running. That means defense capped, plenty of health, armor and avoidance, proper gems, chants, and glyphs and a kitchen sink. You never know when you’ll need the kitchen sink.
  • Second: you better be specced properly for the job. When Ghostcrawler says all DK specs can tank he doesn’t mean spend 71 talent points willy-nilly however you want and you’re golden. There are clear mitigation talents in every tree and you need to have them if you want to tank.
  • Third: come prepared. Food, pots, flasks, repaired, all standard stuff. But if you want to get on a healers friends list, which makes pugging a heroic real easy, you need to be prepared.
  • Fourth: Healers get mad when other players take unnecessary damage because they have aggro. Now Ron White says you can’t fix stupid and any DPS who focus fires secondary targets get what’s coming to them, but you should provide enough AOE or set up enough CC so you are the only one taking non AOE damage.

Death Knights take inconsistent damage because we try to avoid it altogether. Let’s face it we stack parry and dodge to avoid incoming damage and reasonably geared have around 50% avoidance. That’s a coin flip. Every time the boss swings we either get hit or we don’t. Right from the start we are inconsistent in the damage we take.

Death Knights also have a number of talents, spells, and abilities that either increase our avoidance or pump up our mitigation for a short period of time. These also lend themselves to taking inconsistent damage.

To start us out, let’s look at the two abilities all DKs have.

Anti-Magic Shell and Icebound Fortitude

Both of these are on a one-minute cooldown and provide great mitigation. For 5 seconds, Anti-Magic Shell will mitigate 75% of the magic damage a DK is taking, while Icebound Fortitude will reduce all damage by 50% currently for 12 seconds. Fantastic mitigation while in use, if we use these whenever the cooldown is up that creates sudden drops in the damage we take which may lead to greater over healing. Whoops. Healers don’t like wasting their mana.

That leaves talented mitigation abilities. Any DK tank worth their salt will have at least 3 of these, some may have four. We’ll break these down into avoidance, mitigation, and healing efficiency.

Avoidance talents

The avoidance talents are Blade Barrier and Lichborne. Blade Barrier procs off of using both your blood runes and increases your parry by 10%. A good tank will have this up just about the entire fight, which contributes to the coin flip. Lichborne, on the other hand, adds a flat 25% chance to be missed and has a cooldown. Needless to say, when your healer is charging up a big one and the tank pops this and the boss misses a couple in a row the healer may have wasted their time and mana.

Mitigation talents

For mitigation DK tanks will have either Bone Shield, Unbreakable Armor, or even Anti-Magic Zone. Once again, all three have a cooldown and provide excellent mitigation when active. BS can by glyphed and kept up around half the time in most boss fights. UA increases the armor damage reduction even further, while AMZ drops a stationary bubble everyone can get into to avoid all the magic damage flying around.

Healing efficiency

Blood tanks (yeah I know lolbloodtank, for now) have a couple talents that help with the healing load. Mark of blood will give back 4% of damage dealt by the boss for 20 seconds out of every three minutes and Vampiric Blood will increase healing efficiency by 50% when its in use. Want to see a big fat heal, crit a blood tank when Vampiric Blood is up.

The trick to keeping your healers happy with all these talents at our disposal is to use them judiciously. Pop them when you know there is an incoming damage spike, whether an enrage, adds, or whatever. The other time to use them is when your healers are low on mana; just let them know you will be giving them a break. Nothing says healer love like telling them the next 16,000 in damage won’t need to be healed and they can score some non-casting MP5.

I’d like to close this guest post with a shameless plug. My blog titled The Scourge has several posts dealing with achieving and maintaining the defense cap, talent discussions, and tanking strategies.

About Matticus

Matticus is the founder of World of Matticus and Plus Heal. Read more of his columns at WoW Insider. League of Legends player. Caffeine enthusiast.