Welcome to MmoGah's Unholy Death Knight guide for the upcoming Wrath of the Lich King Classic. This guide will help you, and your Death Knight class face the toughest raids and dungeons and improve your knowledge, role, and class.
Leveling Death Knights in Pre-Patch
If you are worried about not being able to get good gear in pre-patch, don’t worry, as there is an easier option in the Arcanite Ripper, a weapon that you get from a pre-patch event.
Also, you need to get Wrath of the Lich King Classic gold to be able to afford the Jewel Spec before Wrath. It’s useful having the blood-off spec while you level, as it’d make it easier to solo some elite quests.
During pre-patch, you must prepare 25 tasks ready to turn in when WotLK Classic launches. You can use corpse explosion on your pet, which will do additional AoE damage and help you level faster.
If you have extra gold, you’d also want to get some cheap consumables like food buffs, elixirs, weapon sharpening stones, etc. We recommend saving some gold for the actual Wrath content. So get some good consumables if you have that extra cash; if not, you can buy WotLK Classic gold easily.
Why Play Unholy Death Knight?
Unholy Death Knights are going to see a lot of usage in raids. As masters of death and decay with a melee DPS spec, they have an incredible single target DPS throughout the entire expansion, and a great AoE sustains damage, making them suited as well for DPSing dungeons and cleave fights. They have a high defensive stat with easy access to self-healing without relying on mana, making them incredible at leveling. When it comes to leveling, even Frost and Blood DKs can't compete with them. At the very start, leaving Lvl 58, you’d already be equipped with your best tool, Wandering Plague, for farming large enemy packs. They can deal damage to multiple targets at once. In addition to their Pestilence, the Wandering Plague makes them AoE monsters allowing them to take down multiple enemies with very little downtime.
Unholy Death Knight DPS Glyphs
Glyphs are a new feature in Wrath of the Lich King Classic, allowing you to augment your spell abilities with major and minor glyphs. These are slowly unlocked as you level, and at Level 80, you'll have access to all 6. The best glyphs for you will depend on what spec you have, regardless if you're still leveling or looking for a BiS guide.
Best Glyph for Unholy Death Knight
These are the best glyphs available for you to run based on our recommendations, and you can change them when doing different things such as focusing on a single target, moving quickly, fighting mobs, etc.
The major glyphs are:
Glyph of Icy Touch - As unholy, this glyph is a good portion of both your AoE and single target damage as long as you have the tier set bonus from Trial of the Crusader. It also adds a nice boost to your Frost Fever as it deals 20% additional damage.
Glyph of Dark Death - Powerful for both Dual wield and Two-handed Unholy. It increases the damage done by Death Coil by 15%. Death Coil is a good share of your single target damage as well.
Glyph of Disease - A very important one that causes your Pestilence to refresh disease duration and secondary effects of disease on your primary target back to their max duration. It's very important because the two diseases you want on every target are Blood Plague and Frost Fever. These will make your strikes like the Blood Strike, Death Strike, and Plague Strike do more damage.
For minor glyphs, we have:
Glyph of Pestilence - Although minor, it provides an appreciable DPS increase. You can spread your pestilence to targets that would normally be out of range.
Glyph of Blood Tap - This is mostly for the small quality of life improvement, but it's a great add. With this, your Blood Tap will no longer cause damage to you because Blood Tap typically takes some of your health to convert Blood Rune into a Death Rune.
Glyph of Raise Dead - with this, your Raise Dead spell will no longer require a reagent. This is just a quality of life change, though, but important.
Unholy Death Knight Stats Priorities
Hit Rating - For your stat priority, the first thing, like any other physical DPS class, is making sure you have Hit. Hit is an essential stat for Unholy Death Knight as it increases your chance to hit when attacking. Normally, you should have an 8% increased chance of hitting so that your special abilities won't miss.
Strength - Moving in, you'll focus on strength which is the best primary stat. It gives you roughly 2.7 Attack Power.
Haste Rating - One of the most important secondary stats increases your auto attack frequency. It improves your auto attack damage and the amount of Blood Caked Blade procs you'll see. The beauty of this stat is that all of your summoned undead benefit from Haste Rating.
Expertise - The expertise cap is 26, but don't worry about focusing on getting all that early on in phase 1. You get an Expertise point which reduces the chance that your attacks are parried or dodged. You can get points from Expertise Rating and talents and abilities such as Rage of Rivendare, Sword Spec, or Mace spec.
Armor Penetration - A scaling stat that gets stronger the more you have. In late game, you'll have a lot of static armor penetration. Armor penetration will cause your attack to ignore some parts of your enemy's armor to deal more damage output.
Critical Strike - This increases the chance that your spells and attacks are critical strikes as it deals double the normal strike.
Unholy Death Knight Rotation
As Death Knight, you must deal with Runes and Runic Power, which requires a rather complex rotation. Rotation will maximize your DPS in AoE and Single target situations. Firstly, here is a little overview of the Unholy Death Knight's abilities:
Icy Touch - Deals Frost Fever and Frost Damage. Reduces the attack speed of your target by 20% and increases yours.
Blood Strike - Your main Blood Rune spender. It deals with weapon damage and triggers Desolation.
Plague Strike - Helps to apply Blood Plague on your target.
Scourge Strike - Your main offensive ability that deals 70% weapon damage. Also, it deals a 12% shadow damage and also direct weapon damage on targets affected by your Disease.
Death Coil - Your main Runi Power spender, deals shadow damage and heals your friendly undead target.
Pestilence - A useful ability for raids and dungeons. Your main AoE ability spreads disease to enemies within 15 years.
Summon Gargoyle - This allows you to deal nature damage by summoning Gargoyle to bombard targets. It has a 3-minute cool down.
Death and Decay - This allows you to desecrate an arena and deal damage to enemies caught in it - an AoE ability to use after you spread your disease.
Death Strike - Your main survivability ability heals you for 5% of disease present on target and deals weapon damage.
Empower Rune Weapon - Gives you 25 Runic Power while resetting the cool down of your Runes. To maximize damage, use Gargoyle and Trinket Procs.
Bone Shield - Surrounds your character with three whirling bones, and while at least one remains, reduces damage taken by 20% and increases attack by 2%.
Anti-magic Shell - Defends against magic damage. It provides you with Rune whenever you absorb magical damage.
Icebound Fortitude - Defends against stun effect and grants you massive survivability. It is advisable to reduce incoming attacks by 30%, so keeping it up in a dangerous one-shot situation.
Horn of Winter - Provides +155 strength and agility to you and your allies and as well generates 10 Runic Power.
Blood Tap - This allows you to convert one Blood Rune to Death Rune, enabling you to use more Scourge Strike.
Unholy Presence - Increases your movement and attack speed by 15%. It also reduces your Global Cooldown by 0.5 seconds, allowing you to spam your abilities effectively.
Frost Presence - Reduces damage and Increases stamina by 8%. You also get a 60% armor value contribution. Amazing for increasing your survivability in occasions that need it. Although weak against magical damage, it’s amazing for defense against physical damage.
Blood Presence - Increases damage by 10% while healing yourself by 4% of the damage done.
Unholy Death Knight DPS Rotation
Icy Touch > Plague Strike > Blood Strike > Blood Strike > Scourge Strike > Summon Gargoyle > Scourge Strike > Empowered Rune Weapon > Scourge Strike > Scourge Strike > Blood Strike > Blood Strike > Blood Tap > Pestilence > Death Coil > Death Coil > Death Coil > Horn of Winter >>> Repeat.
You want to start with your Icy Touch because it's a ranged ability, so it's easy to use while you walk towards the enemy; then, your Global Cooldown should be back when you arrive. Then you use Plague strikes to inflict both Frost Fever and Blood Plague diseases on the target. Use Blood Strike twice and Scourge Strike, then pop your cool down again and Summon Gargoyle. Next, use Scourge Strike again and cast your Empower Rune Weapon, which refreshes all your Runes. Then use Scourge Strike twice, Blood Strike twice, and then use Blood Tap to convert your Blood Rune into a Death Rune. Follow up with Pestilence and the Death Coil three times, which is a Runic Power dump. Cast Horn of Winter to generate 10 Runic Power, and after that opener, use two Scourge Strikes in a row, followed by two Death Strikes, and then use up all your Runic Power on Death Coils before using Pestilence to refresh your diseases.
Note that it's very important to leave one Blood Rune or Blood Tap ready to use on Pestilence to refresh your disease. This is because you don't want to waste a Frost and Unholy Runes to refresh Blood Plague and Frost Fever when it can be done with one Blood Rune. So never use your last Blood Rune on Blood Strike if your diseases are about to expire. It's also important not to let your diseases expire because using Scourge Strike on a target without diseases is a waste.
Class mechanics for Unholy Death Knight DPS
If you haven't played the Death Knight class yet, know that two resources are the core of the Death Knight class: Runes and Runic Power. You have six runes in total; 2 Blood Runes, 2 Frost Runes, and 2 Unholy Runes. Runic power works like rage; you stack up and spend it on abilities. Every ability you use requires some combination of these runes. Death strike, for example, requires one Unholy Rune and Frost Rune, and when used, it builds 15 Runic Power.
Runes have a cool-down period and regenerate after use at a rate of 10 seconds per Rune Grace Period. As Unholy, you can use Blood Runes to generate Death Runes. Your talent Reaping can convert the Blood Runes you spend on Pestilence or Blood Strike. Death Runes then can be used as though they were any of the other Runes and then converted back to Blood Runes after about 30 seconds.
Runic Power is a secondary resource with a pool of 100, with each class having one specific to them. Generally, abilities that cost 1 Rune provides 10 Runic Power while those that cost 2 Runes provide 15 Runic Power. The talent tree can then modify this baseline and possibly increase the maximum pool. The main spender of Runic Power for Unholy DKs is the Death Coil, which is a damaging single target ability.
Unholy Death Knight DPS Talent Build
While leveling, you'll unlock your talents rapidly. But this is our recommendation for PvE DPS as Unholy Death Knight.
Best Unholy Death Knight DPS Professions
Professions are the core of the WoW world. Players craft goods and trade different services to generate different equipment to help along their journey or get lots of WoW Classic WotLK gold. So here are the best professions for the Unholy Death Knight.
Engineering is a top profession due to its damage-enhancing gadgets, bonuses, and effects that can significantly improve performances. Not only do they contribute immensely to offenses, but they also give unique tools with survivability and defense upgrades when PvE is concerned.
Their main benefit lies in the Hyperspeed Accelerators gloves enchant that gives a +340 haste rating for about 12 seconds, which is very strong with Gargoyle. Also, the Nitro Boosts give massive boot enchantments with a +24 crit rating for the movement speed boost.
This is a great pair with the Engineering profession and can give you the ability to create and sell different rare gems and jewelry and give you a strong stat boost as well. As an Unholy Death Knight, you’d want to use Dragon’s Eye (Bold Dragon’s Eye and Fractured Dragon’s Eye) as they will give you +42 armor penetrating and +42 strength ratings.
Other Useful Professions
Blacksmithing - Provides two extra gem sockets in the glove and bracers for a total bonus of +40 strength or armor penetration rating.
Tailoring - Use the Swordguard Embroidery cloak enchantment to get +400 attack power for 15 seconds.
Enchanting - As an Unholy Death Knight, you can gain access to special ring enchantments like the Enchant Ring - Assault that gives +80 attack power.
Inscription - Gives you a +80 attack power from the Master’s Inscription of the Axe shoulder enchant, which is better than the Sons of Hodir one.
Unholy Death Knight Consumables, Gems, and Enchants
Apart from talents and gears, there are three more ways to improve your overall performance. With Gems, Consumables, and Enchants, you’ll be able to do that and guarantee yourself raid spots.
Flask of Endless Rage - This increases your attack power by 180. This is a Battle and Guardian elixir, and its effect persists through death.
Potion of Speed - This increases haste rating by 500 for 15 seconds. You might want to drink this before your Summon Gargoyle.
Dragonfin Filet - This is for food and will give you 40 strength and 40 stamina for 1 hour once you eat it.
Spiced Mammoth Treats - This is your pet food. Unholy Death Knight ghouls are important damage dealers, and you need to give them buff and food of choice, which is the Spice Mammoth Treats. Increases the stamina and strength of your pets by 30 for one hour.
In WoW, exactly which gem socket goes where depends on your gear. Death Knights want Strength, Crit, Haste, and Hit. You want the following:
Chaotic Skyfire Diamond - You want this for your Meta. This will grant you a 21% critical strike rating and a 3% increase in critical strike damage.
Bold Cardinal Ruby - For your red socket, you'll want this to get a +20 strength.
Inscribed Ametrine - For your orange socket, you want this to get a 10 strength and critical rating.
Fierce Ametrine - You can use this for your orange socket to get a 10 strength and 10 haste rating instead.
Sovereign Dreadstone - For your blue gem, which you'll need for your Meta to be activated. This will give you 10 strength and 15 stamina.
Nightmare Tear - If you can afford this, you can get it as it matches any of the sockets, and it's +10 to all stats.
For Enchants, you can put the Rune of the Fallen Crusader on your weapon, which is the best enchant for Death Knights only. Death Knights have access to a special mechanism known as Runeforging to do this. Rune of the Fallen Crusader increases your total strength by 15% for 15 seconds.
Head - Use the Arcanum of Torment, which gives 50 attack power and 20 crit. But you have to be revered with the Knights of the Ebon Blade.
Shoulder - Get the Greater Inscription of the Ace with 50 attack power and 15 crit. You have to be exalted with the Sons of Hodir.
Cloak - Get the Scroll of Enchant Cloak - Greater speed which gives you 23 haste, or if you're a tailor, the better option will be Swordgauard Embroidery.
Chest - You want the Scroll of Enchant Chest - Powerful Stats that adds 10 to all your stats. However, if you dont have enough gold for this, you can either decide to buy WotLK classic gold for a trusted site like MmoGah or settle for the Enchant Chest - Super Stats that increases your stats by 8.
Bracers - The Scroll of Enchant Bracers - Greater Assault gives you 50 attack power
Gloves - Scroll of Enchant Gloves - Crusher gives you 44 attack power or if you're an Engineer, go with the Hyperspeed Accelerators.
Belt - For your belt, get that extra gem socket from Eternal Belt Buckle; Blacksmiths can make this. And also a Frag Belt if you're an Engineer as you can throw some powerful Cobalt Bombs from those.
Legs - Get 75 attack power and 22 crit from the Icescale Leg Armour or the Nerubian Leg Armour if you dont have enough gold.
Boots - For boots, get 32 attack power from the Scroll of Enchant Boots - Greater Assault. If you're an Engineer, you can get the Nitro Boosts, which might be super helpful depending on the situation.
So there you go. That’s our ultimate guide on the Unholy Death Knight. Although this concentrates on PvE Unholy Death Knight DPS, you can be sure that MmoGah.com will continue to bring you other useful guides on your way to the Icecrown Citadel. Till then, you can check our other WotLK Classic content here.