Blood Death Knight Artifact: Netherlight Crucible, Traits, Relics
This section of the Blood Death Knight guide explains the best possible choices for the Netherlight Crucible, important traits and relic bonuses, and how to progress through your artifact weapon Maw of the Damned. This guide is written by
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Protection Warrior Guide
Rotation & Abilities
Macros & Addons
Maw of the Damned
Equipping the Maw of the Damned grants you the ability
, which causes you to attack all enemies in front of you for a high amount of damage, healing you for all damage done.
Relics and the Netherlight Crucible
is a new feature in patch 7.3 that allows you to empower your relics with additional traits. It can turn even the weakest relics into viable options depending on how lucky you are with its randomly-rolled traits. Netherlight Crucible traits are randomly selected when a relic is first put into the Crucible, so one
may have completely different traits than another
! You should always preview a relic's potential traits before you use it or throw it away unless it is a significant item level downgrade. Previewing a relic's traits will bind it to your character, so if you are thinking of trading it to a party member, don't preview and lock it to yourself.
The Netherlight Crucible grants a simple 3-tier, branching tree of traits to each of your 3 equipped relics. You must choose one trait from each tier. The first tier is always a 5 item level increase to your weapon. The second tier is a choice between a light or shadow trait. The third tier is a choice between one of three weapon traits, and your available options are affected by which direction you went in the second tier (left vs. right). Your ability to choose traits for your relics is gated by your weapon's Artifact Level.
You must be at Artifact Level 75 to completely customize your weapon at the Netherlight Crucible. At current Artifact Knowledge values, this is expected to take several months. Don't worry, it's something to work toward!
Here is a breakdown of Artifact Level values and trait availability:
At 60, you unlock the second tier of your first relic. At 63, you unlock the second tier of your second relic. At 66, you unlock the second tier of your third relic.
At 69, you unlock the third tier of your first relic. At 72, you unlock the third tier of your second relic. At 75, you unlock the third tier of your third relic. Job's done!
Tanking is, as always, a bit of a conundrum when it comes to making recommendations. If you're tanking cutting-edge, high-level Mythic raid progression, you will want different things from someone pushing high-level Mythic+ dungeons, working on Heroic raid progression, or occasionally filling in during farm raids on an off-spec. Moreover, the item level approximations that most DPS classes are able to make of their traits doesn't really translate to tanks at all due to the lack of functioning SimulationCraft modules for tanks (even if there were, making those pure DPS numbers translate into the broader picture would either be difficult or useless).
Consequently, the best recommendation I can make is to list the traits in order of value, first defensively, then offensively. I will weigh more heavily toward single-target scenarios for offense. Tanks do much better in AoE (and tank DPS is more relevant in Mythic+ than Mythic raid, for example), but single-target is much more reliable. Blood Death Knights scale pretty well with weapon item level, so sacrificing a good trait to gain item level is usually worth it.
Tier 2 Traits
Because your choice in Tier 2 affects which traits you can reach in Tier 3, you need to balance both the Tier 2 and Tier 3 bonuses when you make your Tier 2 choice.
is an all-around A+ trait. The Haste is the star of the show, but a little bit of movement speed can go a long way, particularly for a mobility-challenged class like Death Knight.
are both A+ traits offensively, and decent defensively.
(when Avoidance is valuable)
(when Avoidance is weak)
are hands-down the two best traits on offense.
is not a bad trait defensively, but its unreliability is a major drawback.
is reliable and Avoidance is great, but Mastery is not a good stat.
is the best defensive trait whenever the Avoidance applies and is important (this includes pieces of nearly every fight in ToS, but is most significant for soaking meteors on Kil'jaeden and hammers on Maiden of Vigilance). If you're already handling yourself comfortably without
(or have a fair amount of Avoidance on gear), you may get better defensive benefit from another trait.
Tier 3 Traits
Again, your Tier 2 choice will need to consider your available Tier 3 options. One thing to bear in mind is that
, which is rarely available on relics around the world, is perfectly available through the Netherlight Crucible. Unlike the Tier 2 abilities, most weapon traits do not directly offer both offensive and defensive value. Because the Blood Death Knight toolkit has a lot of leech (through
), offensive traits can be worth a good bit of direct self-healing. Quantifying that can be tough, but basically defensive-only traits that are below middle-of-the-pack are worth less defense than good "pure" offense traits. The defensive gains from traits below
are pretty low, and even for more defensively-minded players, good offensive traits will probably outweigh them in total value.
is tremendous, and should be your go-to whenever available.
both offer a lot of offensive and defensive value.
is equally offensive and defensive, but has little value outside of massive, long-term AoE scenarios, which are rare.
Patch 7.2 added the ability to unlock 4 new traits and an infinite trait (
) that grants a Versatility proc with ~23% uptime. Additionally, you will be able to put a fourth point into your existing 3-point traits, which provides a modest amount of customization.
is a 1-pointer, and the first new trait. It's great! Get it ASAP.
is the new minor trait. It is seriously good at increasing your defenses, and will not only make you more resilient against all types of damage, it will increase the size of Blood Shields created by your Mastery. At this point, this appears to be the best defensive trait in the entire tree. It's great!
into an even stronger self-healing cooldown, and provides an interesting bit of group utility.
is a solid new defensive trait. Overhealing is something you want to avoid, but ultimately inevitable as a Death Knight - especially when using
in AoE situations. This has the potential to increase your health pool by 30%, which is really good for surviving burst damage.
is a random Versatility proc. It can only be unlocked once you have put 4 points into every single minor trait in the tree.
is a very good defensive minor trait, and should be a high priority for putting in a 4th trait.
is the best DPS trait, and should be a high 4/4 priority - particularly due to its synergy with
! Also, damage kills stuff, so do as much as you can!
Recommended Build Path
features a lot of meaningful trait interactions, and very impactful one-point talents in the Golden Dragons and
The recommended initial artifact path is this:
Once you've unlocked all three Gold Dragon traits, complete
, in that order.
empower your weapon
(requires unlocking the Broken Shore, reaching AK 26, and completing a short questline):
You should generally favor relics with higher item level. A good trait may be worth sacrificing a few item level, but the difference between the best and worst traits is does not significantly outweigh weapon item level.
Offensive traits to prioritize:
- Your best minor trait for single target DPS and very good against up to 5 targets.
- Strong for AoE DPS, decent for single target DPS.
- Decent in single target, poor in AoE.
Defensive traits to prioritize:
- Although boosting the power of defensive cooldowns is generally a very small bump to overall tanking strength, given how often
is available, this trait is quite good.
- It's not tremendously effective, but the damage reduction from percentage increases to armor is incredibly reliable, and reasonably comparable in value to
- Parry is not the most reliable or noticeable stat, but this trait is solid for damage reduction, particularly when tanking in AoE - where
tanks have historically struggled to stay alive.
- Synergizes with
to provide a modest amount of self-healing. It's a low-to-middle of the pack option for both damage and defenses.
- Useful against spell damage, but otherwise a small increase when compared to most options in the tree.
- Provides a modest overall benefit and helps line up
with cooldowns a little longer. By no means bad, but definitely has less impact than other always-active traits in the tree.
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