Unholy Death Knight PvP Guide 5.4.8
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Unholy Death Knight PvP Guide

Table of Contents:
1. Introduction

2. Main changes from Cataclysm to MoP 5.4.8

3. Your main resources
3.1. Runes
3.2. Runic Power

4. Races and their benefits
4.1 Alliance Races
4.2 Horde Races

5. Main abilities explained
5.1 Offense
5.2 Defense
5.3 Utility
5.4 Passives

6. Talents

7. Glyphs
7.1 Major Glyphs
7.2 Minor Glyphs

8. Stats and how they dictate playstyle. The “Rotations”
8.1 Mastery Unholy
8.2 Haste Unholy
8.3 Reforging, Gems, Enchants and Professions

9. Everything about your Ghoul

10. Macros

11. Spell Tips and Tricks

12. Arena Setups
12.1 2v2
12.2 3v3

13. Addons

14. Closing Remarks

15. Currently Known Bugs

1. Introduction

So I've come up with yet another monster-sized Unholy Death Knight PvP Guide. In most aspects it will be similar to my previous guide, but obviously with updated information. I tried to make it a little bit more compact, but the guide is still going to be just as detailed.

Once again, Unholy spec dominates the Arena scene for the third expansion in a row. Ever since Wrath of the Lich King, Unholy proved itself to be the go-to spec of most Gladiator Death Knights due to its great balance of survivability, mobility and damage, compared to the other specs.

Here are its advantages and disadvantages compared to Frost:
+ Higher control and mobility due to pets;
+ Better survivability since Death Coil heals for more;
+ Abilities scale better due to Unholy Might granting 35% Strength;
+ Better sustained damage, especially since Diseases deal 60% more damage, and we can use Necrotics more often;
+ Higher execute damage since it scales with our Mastery;
+ Higher versatility since many of our abilities generate Death Runes;
- Less burst damage than Frost;
- Harder to maintain Runes and Runic Power;
- Overall more difficult to play.

A few things about this guide:

  • It will be more schematic than my previous guide, making it somewhat easier to read, but it will be just as comprehensive.
  • It is aimed at both new players and veterans.
  • Most abilities are explained from an Unholy Death Knight's point of view.
  • Merely reading this guide won't instantly turn you into a Gladiator.
  • I will no longer include a dueling section. It's even more unbalanced than in the previous expansions so I won't really bother with it.
  • The guide is huge. You can read whatever parts of it you want, just go to the Table of Contents and click on the desired chapter.
  • If you notice any mistakes in the guide (including broken links, incorrect information, macros that don't work, and typos) please let me know and I will fix it.

I would like to briefly explain a few terms and abbreviations that are going to be used in this Guide, just to eliminate any confusions:

  • CC - short for Crowd Control, a term used to describe any effect that causes loss of control over your character: Polymorph, Sap, Stuns etc. Some of those effects can be broken by damage.
  • DR - short for Diminishing Returns, it is used to describe the resistance of players against repeatedly used CC effects. For example, if a player gets stunned for 5 seconds, and if in the next 15 seconds he gets stunned again, the second stun will only last 2.5 seconds, the third one 1.25 seconds, and the fourth one 0 seconds.
  • RNG - abbreviation for Random Number Generator. It describes abilities or events that have a set chance to happen, such as Critical Strikes.
  • PvP Trinket - used to describe any Trinket (or the Human Racial) that removes all kinds of CCs.
  • Peel - term used to describe the act of helping your teammates in trouble, either by CC-ing the enemy, slowing them, or by simply damaging them.
  • Fakecast / Juke - when a caster suddenly stops his cast to trick you into interrupting nothing.
  • Burst - used to describe the moment when a player uses all of his cooldowns to maximize damage.
  • Downtime - used to describe the moments when a Death Knight has no Runes or Runic Power and he cannot do anything.
  • Baseline - something that is available by default.
  • Proc - when something procs, its special effect becomes active or available to use.
  • Uptime - used to describe the amount of time you spend in melee range. For example, if the fight took 10 minutes and you had an uptime of 70%, it means that you spent 7 minutes out of 10 in melee range.
  • GCD - short for Global Cooldown, a 1 second cooldown shared by most abilities.

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2. Main changes from Cataclysm to MoP 5.4.8

If you're completely new to Death Knights, you may want to skip this section.

  • Baseline Global Cooldown (GCD) of 1 second. This means you'll have a GCD of 1 second in any Presence.
  • On a Pale Horse is now baseline.
  • Summon Gargoyle no longer costs Runic Power and its damage benefits from Mastery.
  • Frost Presence has been redesigned and now reduces CC duration by 20% and increases Runic Power generation by 10%. It no longer increases damage done.
  • Death Pact is now a talent, no longer costs Runic Power and no longer shares GCD with any ability.
  • Blood Tap has been redesigned into a talent: instead of converting 1 Blood Rune into a Death Rune, it will now consume Blood Charges to activate any fully-depleted rune into a Death Rune.
  • Ebon Plaguebringer has been redesigned into a passive. It is no longer a disease that increases magic damage by 8%, but instead increases Disease damage by 60%, causes Plague Strike to apply both Diseases and causes Blood Plague to apply Physical Vulnerability
  • Desecration has been removed, and Desecrated Ground took its place as a Tier 6 talent that functions as a PvP Trinket.
  • Necrotic Strike now costs 1 Death Rune instead of 1 Unholy Rune.
  • Icebound Fortitude no longer costs Runic Power.
  • Unholy Frenzy no longer counts as an Enrage, and therefore it cannot be dispelled by Rogues, Hunters or Druids anymore.
  • Unholy Might now grants 35% strength, up from 25%.
  • New ability: Soul Reaper, essentially an execute ability.
  • New passive: Unholy Aura, increases your party and raid member's melee and ranged attack speed by 10%.
  • Raise Dead's cooldown has been reduced by 1 minute.
  • Strangulate's cooldown has been reduced by 1 minute, and it no longer shares GCD.
  • Every interrupt ability including Mind Freeze has had its cooldown increased by 5 seconds, but their cost was also removed.
  • Leap and Gnaw (and their Dark Transformation versions) no longer cost energy and no longer share GCD.

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3. Your Main Resources

Death Knights have 2 types of resources: Runes and Runic Power

3.1 Runes

Most of Death Knight's abilities utilize Runes. There are 3 types of runes, and Death Knights have 2 of each:

In this image, from left to right: 2 Blood Runes, 2 Frost Runes and 2 Unholy Runes
In addition to those, Death Knights also have a fourth, special type of Rune, called Death Runes:

Death Runes can be used as any type of Rune, and they can be generated by using a set of specific abilities: Festering Strike, Blood Boil, Icy Touch, Blood Strike and Pestilence. (also see Reaping)
Abilities have different Rune costs and in different amounts. Whenever you use an ability that requires Runes, the spent Runes will enter a cooldown state, that normally lasts for 10 seconds and can be reduced by Haste effects. There are 3 types of cooldown states: Fully-Depleted, Recharging, and Active.

  • Recharging Runes have already started their cooldown.
  • Fully-Depleted Runes are waiting for the Recharging Runes to finish their cooldown so that they can start their own. In this aspect, Runes are working in pairs. It wouldn't make sense for a Frost Rune to wait for a Blood Rune to finish its cooldown.
  • Active Runes are ready to use.

In the picture above, the first Blood Rune is Recharging and the second Blood Rune is Fully-Depleted, and won't start it's cooldown until the other Rune finished its own. The rest of the Runes are Active.

3.2 Runic Power

Some Death Knight abilities utilize Runic Power. This resource is mainly generated by spending Runes, but it can be received from other sources as well. Generally, spending 1 Rune will generate 10 Runic Power. Exceptions from this rule:

  • Blood Boil - will only generate Runic Power if it hits something.
  • Horn of Winter - no Rune cost, generates 10 Runic Power.
  • Empower Rune Weapon - no Rune cost (on the contrary, it resets all of their cooldowns), generates 25 Runic Power.
  • Anti-Magic Shell - will generate Runic Power when absorbing Magic damage. (1 Runic Power for every 1000 damage)
  • Chains of Ice - costs 1 Frost Rune, but will generate 20 Runic Power if wearing PvP Hands.

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4. Races and Their Benefits

4.1 Alliance


  • Human has always been the best race for PvP in general.
  • Every Man for Himself - while every other race is forced to equip a PvP Trinket, thanks to this racial, Humans are not. It allows us to equip any other trinket of our choice instead of a PvP Trinket.
  • Mace Specialization - grants 1% bonus expertise when wearing Maces.
  • Sword Specialization - grants 1% bonus expertise when wearing Swords.


  • Stoneform - removes and makes you immune to all poison, disease and bleed effects and reduces damage taken by 10% for the next 8 seconds. Very good against warriors, rogues and ferals.
  • Mace Specialization - grants 1% bonus expertise when wearing maces.


  • Heroic Presence - grants 1% Hit Rating all the time. We can easily reach the Hit Cap in PvP so this racial is better for PvE.
  • Gift of the Naaru - heals you or your friendly target for 20% of their health over 15 seconds.

Night Elf

  • Shadowmeld - makes you invisible as long as you stand still. It is good for avoiding projectile spells such as Frostbolt; for example if you are about to get hit by a Frostbolt that was already casted by the Mage, use Shadowmeld and you will evade it.
  • Quickness - makes you 2% harder to hit with melee / ranged attacks.


  • Viciousness - 1% increased Critical Strike chance. It really isn't that much of a bonus.
  • Darkflight - increases movement speed by 40% for 10 seconds. Doesn't stack with Death's Advance.


  • Escape Artist - removes all roots and slows when used. Gnomes would've actually been a viable Race if this ability's cooldown was lower.

4.2 Horde


  • Best horde race for Death Knights.
  • Command - increases your Ghoul's damage by 2%.
  • Hardiness - reduces stun duration by 15%.
  • Blood Fury - grants 4514 Attack Power for 15 seconds when used.
  • Axe Specialization - grants 1% bonus expertise when wearing Axes.


  • Will of the Forsaken - removes all Charm, Fear and Sleep effects, but does not make you immune to them. Shares a 40 second cooldown with PvP Trinkets.
  • Touch of the Grave - a very interesting ability. It scales with our Mastery, has a high proc chance (20%) and a 15 second internal cooldown.


  • Berserking - increases haste by 20% for 10 seconds when used. Helps a bit with Rune Regen.
  • Da Voodoo Shuffle - reduces the duration of slows and roots by 15%.


  • Time is Money - grants 1% increased attack speed.
  • Rocket Barrage - fires a Rocket which deals Fire Damage. Shares cooldown with Rocket Jump.
  • Rocket Jump - jump forward a few yards, allowing you to get closer to your target or kite. Shares cooldown with Rocket Barrage.

Blood Elf
Blood Elf male, you say? There's no such thing...

  • Arcane Torrent - silences all enemies within 8 yards for 2 seconds and generates 15 Runic Power. Causes Diminishing Returns, which makes any Silence (including Strangulate) be less effective for the next 20 seconds.(for example, if you silence someone with Arcane Torrent first, and then follow up immedately with Strangulate, your Strangulate will only last for 2.5 seconds).


  • War Stomp - stuns up to 5 targets within 8 yards for 2 seconds, but has a 0.5 second cast, which can be doubled if you're being attacked by someone.

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5. Main Abilities Explained

In this section I will shortly explain most abilities. Talents will be explained in the next section.

5.1 Offense

Plague Strike

  • Cost: 1x Unholy Rune, generates 10 Runic Power.
  • This ability deals moderate Physical damage and applies BOTH diseases on the target.
  • Use it ONLY when you need to apply Diseases.

Frost Fever

Blood Plague

NOTE: Your diseases are very important, not only because they slowly decimate your targets, but also because most abilities depend on them to deal extra damage.


  • No cost. 1 minute cooldown.
  • Applies both of your diseases. Only use it during your burst.

Scourge Strike

  • Cost: 1x Unholy Rune, generates 10 Runic Power.
  • Deals good Phyiscal damage and for every Disease present on your target, it will deal an additional 25% of the Physical damage as Shadow Damage. The shadow portion scales with Mastery.
  • Use it to deal damage, but you shouldn't be spending Death Runes on it.

Festering Strike

  • Cost: 1x Blood Rune and 1x Frost Rune. Generates 20 Runic Power.
  • Deals high Physical damage and extends the duration of your Diseases, Physical Vulnerability and Chains of Ice on the victim by 6 seconds.
  • Converts the Runes used into Death Runes.
  • Use it only when you want to generate Death Runes.

Blood Boil

  • Cost: 1x Blood Rune. Generates 10 Runic Power, only if it hits something.
  • Deals moderate Shadow damage to all enemies within 10 yards. It's damage is increased by 50% if there is at least 1 Disease present on the victim, and it also scales with Mastery.
  • Converts the Runes used into Death Runes.
  • Will also spread Diseases if you're specced into Roiling Blood.
  • It's an excellent spell in AoE situations and in Battlegrounds. Its damage is now almost as high as Howling Blast.

Icy Touch

  • Cost: 1x Frost Rune. Generates 10 Runic Power.
  • Deals low Frost damage and applies Frost Fever.
  • Apparently an unimportant ability, but its significance is increased tenfold when using Glyph of Icy Touch, which allows you to dispel beneficial effects from enemies.
  • Generates Death Runes.

Blood Strike

  • Cost: 1x Blood Rune. Generates 10 Runic Power.
  • Deals very low Physical damage... pretty useless , most of the times you're better off using Blood Boil, with the exception of situations where you can't use Blood Boil because it would break CC.
  • Generates Death Runes.

Necrotic Strike

  • Cost: 1x Death Rune. Generates 10 Runic Power.
  • The most important ability in PvP. Most of gameplay evolves around managing this ability.
  • Deals moderate Physical damage, and applies a debuff on your target that prevents Healing done and reduces cast time by 10%. The amount of healing reduction is equal to 225% of your Attack Power + PvP Power, but it gets reduced by your target's Resilience.
  • You will be spending most, if not all Death Runes on this ability. Do NOT spam it. It is much harder to manage Necrotic Strike since its cost has been changed. More about this later.

Soul Reaper

  • Cost: 1x Unholy Rune (its cost changes according to specialization). Generates 10 Runic Power.
  • Another prime ability. Initially it deals moderate Physical damage, and applies a debuff on the target for 6 seconds. After those 6 seconds have expired, if your target is at or below 35% health, it will "explode" dealing massive amounts of Shadow Damage. If your target dies before the debuff expires, you gain 50% haste for 5 seconds. This ability is essentially an execute.
  • Generally it is best used when your target has around 50% health left and you know he cannot be healed in any way.

Death Coil

  • Cost: 32 Runic Power
  • Deals high amounts of Shadow Damage on enemy targets, or heals a friendly Undead target for 3.5 times more.
  • Use it to deal damage, or you can heal yourself with Death Coil while Lichborne is active. You can also heal your pets with it.

Summon Gargoyle

  • No cost. 3 minutes cooldown.
  • Summons a Gargoyle that will attack your target for the next 30 seconds.
  • His cast time is reduced by your Haste.
  • His damage scales with Mastery.
  • In Mists of Pandaria, all temporary pets no longer snapshot stats. For this reason, it is no longer important to pop every cooldown before summoning the Gargoyle, although you should still summon him while having as many procs and buffs as possible.
  • Summon him when you want to deal lots of damage.

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5.2 Defense

Anti-Magic Shell

  • No cost. 45 seconds cooldown.
  • Reduces all magic damage taken by 75% for 5 seconds, or until you absorb damage equal to 50% of your health. Also prevents the application of all Magic debuffs.
  • It generates Runic Power every time you absorb damage with it, at a rate of 1 Runic Power for every 1000 damage absorbed.
  • It's mainly a defensive spell but it can also be used offensively, for example if you want to prevent a CC effect so you can continue attacking. In this sense, Glyph of Regenerative Magic is excellent.
  • Cannot be used while Silenced.

Icebound Fortitude

  • No cost. 3 minutes cooldown.
  • Reduces all damage taken by 20%, removes all Stuns and makes you immune to them for 12 seconds.
  • Use it when the enemy pops cooldowns, or use it to escape Stuns.
  • Glyph of Icebound Fortitude will reduce its cooldown by 50% and duration by 75%. Basically that means it will have a cooldown of 1.5 minutes and a duration of 3 seconds. This glyph turns Icebound into more of a trinket against stuns than a defensive / damage-reducing ability.
  • Cannot be used while Silenced.

Blood Presence

  • No cost, no cooldown, but consumes any Runic Power you have.
  • Increases armor by 55%, Stamina by 25% and reduces all damage taken by 10%. It's one of the best defensive abilities and it makes Death Knights a lot harder to kill.
  • Death Knights will be spending most of their time in Blood Presence. However, you can always try to play in Unholy Presence and then switch to Blood Presence when you're in trouble.

Death Strike

  • Cost: 1x Unholy Rune, 1x Frost Rune. Generates 20 Runic Power
  • Death Strike deals a moderate amount of Physical damage and heals you for 7% of your maximum HP. Its only purpose will be to heal us.
  • The cost for this ability is quite high so only use it when you really need it.

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5.3 Utility


  • Cost: 1x Blood Rune. Generates 10 Runic Power.
  • Spreads the diseases from your current target to all other targets within 10 yards (or 15 yards with the Glyph)
  • Generates Death Runes.

Dark Simulacrum

  • Cost: 20 Runic Power.
  • Applies a debuff on the target for 8 seconds. When your target casts a spell that costs mana, you will copy it. It gives you a 20 seconds window of opportunity to use it.
  • It cannot copy totems, pets, or immunity spells.

Death Grip

  • Our signature ability, it pulls your target towards you. Thanks to the Death Knight 4-set PvP bonus, we can use it twice in a row. 25 seconds cooldown.

Horn of Winter

  • Increases your Attack Power by 10% and generates 10 Runic Power. 20 seconds cooldown.
  • Use it every time you need Runic Power.

Chains of Ice

  • Cost: 1x Frost Rune. Generates 10 Runic Power, or 20 if you're wearing PvP hands.
  • Reduces your target's movement speed by 60% for 8 seconds, and applies Frost Fever.
  • Its duration can be increased by using Festering Strike
  • Use it to slow down your enemies, making it harder for them to run away from you, and making it easier for you to approach them.

Death and Decay

  • Cost: 1x Unholy Rune. Generates 10 Runic Power.
  • This spell deals low Shadow damage, and therefore you should only use it to put healers in combat, unstealth Rogues / Druids / Hunters, or slow enemies down if you have the Glyph.

Mind Freeze

  • Interrupts your target's spellcasting, and prevents them from casting a similar spell for 4 seconds.
  • Use it to interrupt healing spells, or spells that deal a lot of damage.
  • Its cooldown has been increased by 5 seconds so make sure you don't get juked.

Raise Dead

  • No cost. 1 minute cooldown.
  • Summons your permanent Ghoul pet, which will be discussed later in this guide.

Dark Transformation

  • Cost: 1x Unholy Rune. Generates 10 Runic Power.
  • Consumes Shadow Infusion stacks to greatly empower your Ghoul, enhancing his damage and abilities.
  • This is a very important ability, as you will see later in the guide.

Frost Presence

  • No cost, no cooldown, but consumes any Runic Power you have.
  • Increases runic power generation from all sources by 20%. That means that an ability which normally generates 10 Runic Power will generate 12 Runic Power in Frost Presence.
  • Reduces the duration of all CCs by 20%. It's usually not a bad idea to switch to Frost Presence before you get CC'd, especially if you have the Glyph, which allows you to keep 70% of your current Runic Power when switching presences.

Unholy Presence

  • No cost, no cooldown, but consumes any Runic Power you have.
  • Grants a flat 10% Haste (20% for Unholy DKs) and increases your movement speed by 15%.
  • It allows Sudden Doom to proc.
  • You will be sitting in Unholy Presence if you want to maximize damage, at the cost of some survivability.

Empower Rune Weapon

  • No cost. Generates 25 Runic Power. 5 minutes cooldown.
  • Very strong ability, it resets the cooldown on all of your Runes and grants 25 Runic Power.
  • Use it ONLY when you're 100% certain that you can land a kill on someone.

Unholy Frenzy

  • No cost. 3 minutes cooldown.
  • Increases your target's Haste by 20%, but also damages them for 20% of their health over 30 seconds.
  • It can no longer be used on your partners to remove CC that breaks from damage.
  • Never use it on your Pets. Always use it on yourself, that way both of you will benefit.


  • Cost: 1x Blood Rune. Generates 10 Runic Power. 1 minute cooldown.
  • Silences your target, preventing any spells or magic abilities from being used for 5 seconds.
  • Mainly use it against Healers to prevent any healing during your burst.

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5.4 Passives

These are the passives granted by the Unholy spec.

Unholy Might

  • Increases your Strength by 35% all the time.

Unholy Aura

  • You and your party members gain 10% increased melee and ranged attack speed all the time.

Sudden Doom

  • Your main hand auto attacks have a chance (~20%) to make your next Death Coil cost no Runic Power at all.
  • It only works while in Unholy Presence.

Shadow Infusion

  • Every Death Coil that hits the target (whether it heals or deals damage) will grant a stack of Shadow Infusion.
  • Each stack increases your Ghoul's damage by 10% (and it also increases his size).
  • When you reach 5 stacks, you can use Dark Transformation.

Mastery: Dreadblade Blizzard stole my name -_-

  • Increases ALL of your shadow damage.

Master of Ghouls

  • Reduces the cooldown on Raise Dead by 1 minute.
  • This passive removes the limited duration on the Ghoul and allows us to gain full control over him.

Ebon Plaguebringer

  • Increases our Disease damage by 60%.
  • Causes Plague Strike to apply both diseases.
  • Causes Blood Plague to also apply Physical Vulnerability.

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6. Talents

The talent system has changed in Mists of Pandaria. Instead of elaborate Talent Trees, we now have a set of 3 talents for every Tier, and 6 Tiers overall. You can only choose 1 Talent from each Tier. Each Tier focuses on improving one aspect. In this section I will discuss each talent and their viability in PvP. An important aspect in Mists of Pandaria is that you can change your talents before the Arena match begins.

Tier 1 - Disease Management

Roiling Blood - it causes your Blood Boil to proc Pestilence from the nearest target infected with Diseases. To put it differently, it's as if Pestilence would also deal some AoE damage.
Pros and Cons:
+ This talent makes spreading Diseases a bit easier since you don't actually need a target. It spreads Diseases from the nearest infected enemy that gets hit by Blood Boil.
+ Spreading Diseases will now deal damage.
- Your Diseases normally snapshot stats, so if you spread Diseases while having all cooldowns, they will do more damage, but then if you use Blood Boil again after your cooldowns have expired, your Diseases will do normal damage.

Plague Leech - consumes both Diseases from your target to activate and convert any 2 fully-depleted Runes into Death Runes. 25 seconds cooldown.
Pros and Cons:
+ You can practically gain 2 Death Runes every 25 seconds, which is very beneficial for Necrotic Strike.
- Adds a lot more micromanagement. It's not particularly easy playing with this talent, as you can't really remove Diseases from your main target because you would have to re-apply them every time. On the other hand, you could use it on a less important target, such as a hunter's pet.

Unholy Blight - practically an AoE Outbreak. It applies Diseases to all targets within 10 yards for 10 seconds and it has a 1.5 minute cooldown. It really isn't as useful as the other 2 talents in this Tier.

Conclusion: Roiling Blood and Plague Leech are both very good talents, and the choice between them usually comes down to personal preference. Roiling Blood is great for 3v3 and especially Battlegrounds, while Plague Leech might be better for 2v2.

Tier 2 - Survivability

Lichborne - makes you undead for 10 seconds, removing and making you immune to CCs such as Fear, Charm, and Sleep. It will also make you immune to effects such as Polymorph or Sap but it will not remove them.
Pros and Cons:
+ It's another method of removing CCs.
+ Allows you to heal yourself A LOT with Death Coils.
- Makes you vulnerable to spells that can only be casted on Undead targets, such as Priets's Shackle Undead or Paladin's Turn Evil.

Anti-Magic Zone - a super-nerfed version of what it used to be in Cataclysm, thanks to PvE.
Pros and Cons:
+ It can be placed anywhere you want.
- Only lasts 3 seconds and reduces magic damage by 40%, which makes it pretty useless.

Purgatory - instead of dying, Purgatory will keep you alive for 3 more seconds, and in that time all damage you take will be placed as a healing absorbtion debuff (which means you cannot be healed for that specific amount).
Pros and Cons:
+ Keeps you alive for 3 more seconds, and if you're lucky your healer can outheal the debuff and keep you alive.
- It simply cannot compete with the benefits provided by Lichborne.

Conclusion: The obvious winner is Lichborne, as it provides so many benefits compared to the other talents, and the disadvantages can be easily overcome (Shackle Undead or Turn Evil can be dispelled).

Tier 3 - Mobility

Death's Advance - while having this talent, your movement speed can never drop below 70%. When activating the spell, it increases movement speed by 30%, and your movement speed cannot drop below 100% for 6 seconds.
Pros and Cons:
+ It's like having a permanent mini Hand of Freedom.
+ Makes you almost impossible to slow.
+ Makes kiting a lot easier.
- Sometimes it's better to keep multiple targets slowed rather than increasing your own movement speed.

Chilblains - causes your Frost Fever to apply a slow that lasts for 10 seconds, and your Chains of Ice will root the target for 3 seconds (in addition to the slow effect).
Pros and Cons:
+ Practically any ability that applies Frost Fever will now slow your target as well.
+ Spreading Frost Fever to other targets will also spread this, so you can easily keep multiple targets slowed.
+ When combined with Roiling Blood, you can keep an entire team slowed almost all the time.
- The root from Chains of Ice will break if the target takes damage equal to 10% of their HP.
- The slow effect is directly tied to Frost Fever, so if someone dispels your Disease, it will also remove the slow.

Asphyxiate - replaces Strangulate with an ability that has no cost, generates no Runic Power and has 30 seconds cooldown. It stuns your target for 5 seconds, but if your target is immune to stuns it will Strangulate them instead.
Pros and Cons:
+ Very short cooldown.
+ It's Physical so it cannot be dispelled.
+ It silences targets who are immune to stuns.

Conclusion: All 3 talents are great, they're all viable for PvP, BUT in different situations. Death's Advance is better in 2v2, or in 3v3 if your team has a lot of slows. Chilblains is far superior in Battlegrounds, and it's also very good in 3v3. Asphyxiate is situational, you should only take it if your team doesn't have many stuns.

Tier 4 - Self-Healing

Death Pact - sacrifices 50% of your Ghoul's health to heal you for 50% of your own maximum health. 2 minutes cooldown.
Pros and Cons:
+ A lot of healing in a very short time.
- Obviously, it might kill your Ghoul.
- The cooldown is too long to make it viable for very long arenas.
- It's value is greatly decreased by Battle Fatigue and Mortal Wounds

Death Siphon - consumes 1 Death Rune to deal Shadowfrost damage and heals you for 225% of that damage. The healing is just not enough for its cost, and we're spending most of our Death Runes on Necrotic Strike anyway so this ability is useless.

Conversion - converts 5 Runic Power into 2% of your health every second.
Pros and Cons:
+ Good cost / healing ratio.
+ Has no cooldown. Can be activated or deactivated any time you want.
+ If you can supply enough Runic Power it will provide a constant stream of healing.
+ It's excellent for long arenas.
- Prevents extra Runic Power generation from Frost Presence.
- You might sometimes find yourself unable to use other abilities that require Runic Power.

Conclusion: Both Death Pact and Conversion are good. Death Pact is better against teams that can do a lot of damage in a very short amount of time, while Conversion is better against longer arenas and against teams that cannot kill you almost instantly.

Tier 5 - Rune Regeneration

Blood Tap - your Death Coils generate 2 Blood Charges. Blood Tap consumes 5 charges to reset the cooldown and transform a fully-depleted Rune into a Death Rune.
Pros and Cons:
+ It's the only Talent in this Tier that generates Death Runes. That makes Necrotic Strike management a million times easier.
+ It's the only Talent that is not based on RNG.
+ Blood Charges can be generated even while healing with Death Coil, unless you have the Glyph of Death's Embrace, in which case it won't generate charges when healing pets.
+ Provides Runes on demand.
- The Death Knight will have more downtime with this talent when compared to Runic Corruption.

Runic Empowerment - your damaging Death Coils have a 45% chance to reset the cooldown on any random fully-depleted Rune. This talent is not really that great, as it's based on RNG, it might activate a Rune that's completely useless for you, and it doesn't generate Runic Power.

Runic Corruption - your damaging Death Coils have a 45% chance to make your Runes regenerate 100% faster for 3 seconds.
Pros and Cons:
+ It scales very nicely with Haste
+ Its the easiest way to manage Runes
+ If it procs again while you already have the buff, its duration will be extended instead of being refreshed.
- Does not provide Death Runse
- It's based on RNG

Conclusion: Blood Tap and Runic Corruption are both viable choices. It mostly comes down to playstyle and gear (Mastery vs. Haste). I will discuss these two talents more in-depth later in this guide (chapter 8).

Tier 6 - Control

Gorefiend's Grasp - basically it's like a second Death Grip, but it works a bit differently. It can be casted on a friendly target, and all enemies within 20 yards of that target will get pulled towards him. You can cast it on yourself and you basically have a Death Grip with 20 yards range.
Pros and Cons:
+ Combined with other spells it can create some nice results, such as pulling multiple targets into a Warrior's Bladestorm
- It's not very reliable in Arenas.

Remorseless Winter - a spell that we learned from the Lich King himself, the infamous Remorseless Winter is unfortunately not as powerful as you might think. When activated, it will slow all enemies within 8 yards by 15%, and that slow stacks every second, up to 5 times, for 8 seconds. When reaching the 5th stack, they will be stunned for 6 seconds.
Pros and Cons:
+ It's good against players that have exhausted their means of removing slows or magic effects.
- If the slow effect is removed at 4 stacks, there's no chance your target will get stunned.
Most classes have methods of removing slows or dispelling magic effects which makes this Talent almost pointless in Arena.

Desecrated Ground - a free PvP Trinket... and even makes you immune to CCs while standing in that zone. Who wouldn't want this?!

Conclusion: I think the winner is pretty obvious in this case... (Desecrated Ground, if it's not). Either way, Gorefiend's Grasp and Remorseless Winter are pretty good for Battlegrounds (especially in premades).

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7. Glyphs

In this section I will only discuss the Glyphs that are actually useful in PvP. Note that there are no longer any "best" glyphs, but all of them are situational and you should change them accordingly.

7.1 Major Glyphs

Glyph of Icy Touch - the most important glyph for PvP, it gives Icy Touch the ability to dispel beneficial magic effects from your enemies.

Glyph of Regenerative Magic - another great glyph, it reduces the cooldown of Anti-Magic Shell (AMS) based on the amount of damage absorption that remains. The way it works is quite simple: let's suppose that you have 500k HP, you use AMS and it will absorb 250k damage (50% of your HP). If in 5 seconds you take 0 magic damage, AMS's cooldown will be reduced by 50%. If in 5 seconds you absorb 125k damage, AMS's cooldown will be reduced by 25% (because there was still 125k more damage to absorb, and that equals 25% of your HP). This glyph is great because it leaves casters with not much of a choice. They will either attack you, you will absorb most of their damage AND generate Runic Power, or they will not attack you and your cooldown will be reduced. Either way we get some form of benefit. Also, this glyph is great when you use AMS offensively, such as when using AMS against CC like Polymorph, Cyclone or Frost Nova.

Glyph of Anti-Magic Shell - normally AMS absorbs 75% of Magic damage (up to a maximum of 50% of your HP). This glyph causes it to absorb 100% damage; it doesn't change the absorb limit.

Glyph of Dark Simulacrum - this glyph is great against Spell Cleaves (team comps with lots of casters). It reduces its cooldown by half and extends the debuff's duration to 12 seconds, greatly increasing your chances of copying something.

Glyph of Icebound Fortitude - this glyph is good againt teams with lots of stuns. It sacrifices Icebound's defenses and turns it into a PvP Trinket only for stuns.

Glyph of Shifting Presences - a good glyph if you want to "Presence Dance" (change your presences often according to the situation) since you will keep 70% of Runic Power when switching presences.

Glyph of Enduring Infection - use this if your diseases are getting dispelled very often. It will result in a DPS increase since you won't have to use Plague Strike every 8-10 seconds. However, in Arenas or Battlegrounds, nobody will bother dispelling your diseases as they'd rather save the cooldown to dispel CCs, so this glyph is more useful in duels.

7.2 Minor Glyphs

Glyph of Death's Embrace - when healing Pets with Death Coil, you will get 20 Runic Power back, but you will no longer generate Blood Charges if you're specced into Blood Tap. It's almost as if they're grateful for your healing. "Thanks for the heal, bro! Here's some Runic Power."

Glyph of Resilient Grip - the cooldown of your Death Grip is instantly reset if the target is immune (it refers to complete immunities such as Divine Shield)

Glyph of Corpse Explosion - show your enemies how strong and awesome you are by turning their corpses into a pile of meat and bones ( ͡░ ͜ʖ ͡░)

Note: The above mentioned Glyphs are generally the best Glyphs for PvP. However, if you find that a Glyph not on this list fits your playstyle more, then go for it!
Note 2: Just like with Talents, we can now change Glyphs before an Arena match starts.

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8. Stats and how they dictate playstyle. The "Rotations"

Before beginning, let's take a look at stats and what benefits they bring to us.

  • Strength - Increases Attack Power at a rate of 2 Attack Power for every 1 Strength. Attack Power increases the damage of all of our abilities, and it also increases Necrotic Strike's absorption amount.
  • Haste - Increases Attack Speed, Rune Regeneration speed, Ghoul's Energy Regeneration, Ghoul's Attack Speed and Gargoyle's Cast Speed.
  • Mastery - Increases ALL of your Shadow Damage. That includes abilities like Blood Plague, Scourge Strike's shadow portion, Blood Boil, Death and Decay, Gargoyle Strike and Death Coil.
  • Hit Rating - Reduces your chance of missing with any melee attack. A Hit Chance of 3% means you will never miss against Players.
  • Expertise - Reduces the chance of your attacks getting Dodged or Parried. Also grants Spell Hit.
  • Spell Hit Rating - Reduces your chance of missing with any spell. A Spell Hit Chance of 7% means you will never miss against Players.
  • Critical Strike Rating - Increases your chance of doing double damage with one ability.
  • PvP Power - Increases all damage and healing done to players and their pets or minions, and also increases your Necrotic Strike's absorbtion.

8.1 Mastery Unholy

Stat Priority: Hit Cap 3% = Expertise 4% > Strength > Mastery > Haste = Crit

So it is very important to get 3% Hit Chance and 7% Spell Hit Chance via Expertise. As for Haste and Crit, they're both good stats and it usually comes down to personal preference.

This playstyle was the most popular and it evolves around spreading Diseases on as many targets as possible, and constantly maintaining a stack of Necrotic absorption on your main target. It has a lot more passive and ranged damage through Diseases and Death Coils. It's good versus every pretty much every comp, especially Spell Cleaves (caster comps), where you can't have 100% uptime on your target, but it also has more downtime, which means you will often find yourself without any Runes or Runic Power to use.

Most of the times, your opening rotation looks like this:

Chains of Ice -> Plague Strike -> Festering Strike -> Blood Boil -> Scourge Strike -> 2x Death Coils

After that, you need to start managing Necrotics on your Target. This is done by initially using 2x Necrotics, and then the following Necrotics will be used to maintain the duration of it on your target. This is why we cannot spam Necrotic Strike anymore, it is much harder to maintain stacks on a target since it costs Death Runes and they're not easy to come by. Blood Tap will help you enormously with this. You should refresh Necrotics when there are ~5 seconds left on the target. Keep them slowed all the time, whether via Chains of Ice or Chilblains, so you can easily go within their reach to reapply Necrotics. Keep generating Death Runes with Festering Strike, Blood Boil and Icy Touch. Use Blood Tap when you demand a Death Rune. Spend your Unholy Runes on Scourge Strikes, but try to save one Rune when you're about to Transform your pet.

When bursting, you need to make sure you have every trinket or enchant proc and every buff possible. Re-apply diseases to your main target with Outbreak, spread them around if possible, and start using as many Necrotics as you can. Pop Unholy Frenzy, summon your Gargoyle and Transform your Ghoul. If your Target is at ~45% HP, you can also apply Soul Reaper, but make sure he has a decent stack of Necrotic Strike on him; if he gets healed, Soul Reaper will not explode.

8.2 Haste Unholy

Stat Priority: Hit Cap 3% = Expertise 4% > Strength > Haste > Mastery > Crit

This playstyle is reminescent of the Cataclysm Death Knight, which stacked a lot of haste. In combination with Runic Corruption, you can quickly regenerate Runes to dish out as much damage as possible. It focuses on using as many Necrotics as you can, while still trying to maintain their duration. It's recommended that you play with Plague Leech to ease out your Necrotic management. It's also a good idea to spread Diseases. Their damage won't be quite as high but they're still going to do a decent amount of damage. This spec is better against Melee Cleaves, where you can sit on your targets for most of the time. This playstyle has less downtime than the other one.

The opener is still the same:

Chains of Ice -> Plague Strike -> Festering Strike -> Blood Boil -> Scourge Strike -> 2x Death Coils

Then you will start stacking Necrotics on your target. Use Plague Leech on secondary targets to generate some Death Runes when needed. Keep your targets slowed and within reach all the time. Use as many Death Coils as you can to proc Runic Corruption, which will regenerate your Runes and allow you to use even more damaging abilities. You might want to sit in Unholy Presence to enable Sudden Doom procs.

Follow the same rules when bursting. Make sure you've got as many procs as possible, Transform your Pet, use Unholy Frenzy, Summon your Gargoyle, maintain Necrotic stacks on your target and attempt to execute him with Soul Reaper.

8.3 Reforging, Gems, Enchants and Professions


You will reforge according to your chosen playstyle and stat priority.

  • First of all, make sure you got at least 3% Hit Rating and 4% Expertise.
  • If you have too much Hit or Expertise, reforge them into your most preferred stat.
  • Then, proceed to reforging the least preferred stat into your most preferred stat. (For example, if an armor piece has Haste and Critical Strike on it, and you prefer Mastery and Crit, then reforge Haste into Mastery).


Red or Prismatic Sockets - Bold Primordial Ruby - you would want to put these in every socket, disregarding socket bonuses, but we'll see how it goes.
Blue Sockets - Tense Imperial Amethyst
Yellow Sockets - Skillful Vermilion Onyx / Fierce Vermilion Onyx / Resplendent Vermilion Onyx
Meta Sockets - Reverberating Primal Diamond or Tyrannical Primal Diamond when it becomes available.


Boots - Pandaren's Step +140 Mastery and Movement Speed
Bracers - Exceptional Strength +180 Strength
Cloak - Superior Critical Strike +180 Critical Strike Rating / Swordguard Embroidery +4000 Attack Power proc for 15 seconds
Chest - Super Resilience +200 PvP Resilience
Gloves - Super Strength +170 Strength
Weapon - Rune of the Fallen Crusader +15% Strength on proc, and also heals you for 3% of your HP


In my opinion, the best Professions are Engineering and Tailoring. They provide these benefits:
Engineering - Synapse Springs - a Glove enchant that stacks with the other enchants, it grants 1920 strength on use.
Talioring - Swordguard Embroidery - a Cloak enchant which unfortunately does not stack with normal enchants. It provides 4000 attack power for 15 seconds when it procs, and it has a 1 minute internal cooldown.

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9. Everything about your Ghoul

Ghouls are often underrated and overlooked. In reality, they are a major source of damage and utility, and learning to control him will maximize his potential.

Before we begin, here's some information about Timmy:

  • His abilities use Energy.
  • His Energy's Regeneration rate is increased by your Haste, as well as his attack speed.
  • His health is equal to 50% of your Health.
  • His damage scales with your Attack Power.
  • He inherits Critical Strike from you.
  • He gets both Hit and Expertise just from your Hit Rating.

Those are his abilities:

Claw - deals 125% of normal damage.
Transformed Claw - deals 150% of normal damage and hits up to 3 targets.

Gnaw - stuns your target for 3 seconds.
Transformed Gnaw - deals 125% of normal damage and stuns for 4 seconds.

Leap - essentially a Charge ability.
Transformed Leap - charges the enemy, interrupts spellcasting and roots them for 2 seconds.

Huddle - reduces damage taken by 50% but it has to be channeled for 10 seconds.
Transformed Huddle - reduces damage taken by 50%. No channeling required.

Your pet can be transformed by getting 5 stacks of Shadow Infusion. Those are generated by dealing damage or healing with Death Coil. After you reach 5 stacks, Dark Transformation becomes available. It enhances your pet's abilities and increases his damage by 100%. The new abilities use the same spell icon on your Pet bar. Also you won't have to create different macros for normal or Transformed versions of the spells.
Tip: If your Shadow Infusion stacks are about to expire and you have no target to damage with Death Coil, use it on your pet instead. Having Glyph of Death's Embrace will allow you to easily generate Shadow Infusion stacks by just healing your Pet.
As you can see, his Transformed abilities are much more effective. That is why you will want to keep him Transformed as much as possible.

Controlling your Ghoul

I will discuss two different ways of controlling your pet, one that is more suitable for new players until they get used to it, and one for more advanced players.

For new players

Your Ghoul has 3 different behaviour methods (a.k.a. Stances): Passive, Defensive and Assist.

  • Passive means he won't do anything unless you tell him to.
  • A Defensive Ghoul will only attack if you get atacked.
  • A Ghoul that Assists you will attack your current target.

Until you get used to the way your pet works, you will want to keep him on your main target all the time. For that, you're going to keep your Ghoul in the Assist stance. You're also going to need a few macros:


You're going to macro this together with your main attacks: Scourge Strike and Necrotic Strike.

/use Scourge Strike

/use Necrotic Strike

This way, your pet will always follow your current target.

You're going to need separate keybinds for Gnaw, Leap and Huddle. You will also need a keybind for this macro:


This will tell your pet to stop attacking and he will start following you.

Since Gnaw and Leap no longer cost Energy and they do not share GCD with any other spell anymore, you can safely keep Claw on Autocast. You can do this by right-clicking on Claw, or by typing this macro in chat:
/petautocasttoggle claw

You will know Claw has Autocast turned on when there are little yellow "sparks" moving around the icon.
You DO NOT want to keep Gnaw or Leap on Autocast.

For advanced players

You will want to keep your Pet on Passive. Remove /pettatack from all of your macros, and create a new macro which contains just /petattack, and assign a keybind to it. Put separate keybinds for Gnaw, Leap and Huddle and /petfollow. You will also need a keybind for this:


This will send your pet to a specific location and he will sit there until you tell him to do something else.

Since your Pet is going to be on Passive stance, you're going to have to use your /petattack macro every time you switch targets, if you want your pet to follow your target. It's also a good idea to keep your pet on a different target, if you want to spread out your damage, or if you want to keep Healers or Rogues in combat all the time.

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10. Macros

About macros. Modifiers and Targets.

Macros allow you to put several spells on a single keybind, and you can also define Modifiers and Targets in your macros. Let's have a look at an example:

/use [nomod] Scourge Strike
/use [mod:shift] Leap
/use [mod:alt, @focus] Leap
/use [mod:alt, @focus] Gnaw

When I will press this macro normally, it will cast Scourge Strike on my target. If I keep Shift pressed, it will use Leap. If I keep Alt pressed, it will use Leap on my Focus Target, and if I press it again it will use Gnaw.

This is where you will have to show your creativity. I will give you some basic macros, but eventually you're going to have to combine them because you would end up with way too many keybinds.

So here are the modifiers you can use:


It is important to define [nomod] in any macro that has at least 1 modifier, else it will not work.

And the targets:

[@partyX] - replace X with any number between 1 and 5.
[@arenaX] - replace X with any number between 1 and 5.
[@player] - macros with @player will be cast on yourself.
[@mouseover] - macros with @mouseover will be cast on the target you're keeping your mouse on.

Macros that you're going to need:

Focus current Target:

Remove current Focus:

Death Grip + Focus:

/use [nomod] Death Grip
/use [mod:shift, @focus] Death Grip

Chains of Ice + Focus:
#showtooltip Chains of ice
/use [nomod] Chains of Ice
/use [mod:shift, @focus] Chains of Ice

Strangulate + Focus:
#showtooltip Strangulate
/use [nomod] Strangulate
/use [mod:shift, @focus] Strangulate

Mind Freeze + Focus:
#showtooltip Mind Freeze
/use [nomod] Mind Freeze
/use [mod:shift, @focus] Mind Freeze

Focus Dark Simulacrum:
#showtooltip Dark Simulacrum
/use [@focus] Dark Simulacrum

It's a good practice to keep 2 keybinds for Dark Simulacrum, one for your normal Target, and one for this Macro. For instance, let's say that you will put the normal Dark Simulacrum on 5. Then you will need to keybind shift-5 somewhere else on your Action Bar, and you will put this Macro there. This way, when you copy something with Dark Simulacrum, the copied spell will be properly cast on your Focus if you press shift-5. If you make a macro for both Focus and normal Target and put it on a single keybind, the copied spell will always be cast on your normal Target, even if you keep Shift pressed.

Focus Leap + Gnaw
/use [@focus] Leap
/use [@focus] Gnaw

This macro will first cast Leap, and then use Gnaw when pressed a second time. If the target is too close for Leap, the pet will attempt to Gnaw. If you don't like this macro, you can try the following:

/petattack [@focus]
/use [@focus] Gnaw

This macro will first send your Pet towards your Focus Target. Press it a second time when he's in melee range and it will also use Gnaw. If your Focus Target is already close, your pet will use Gnaw. Note that by using this macro, your pet will also sit on your focus target if he's set on Passive.

Plague Leech with priority on Mouseover:
#showtooltip Plague Leech
/use [@mouseover,exists][@target,exists] Plague Leech

This macro will use Plague Leech on your current Target if you're not keeping your mouse over a different target. If you do, however, it will cast it on your mouse-over.

Blood Tap failsafe:
#showtooltip Blood Tap
/castsequence reset=0 Blood Tap, null

If some of your keyboard or mouse buttons are extra-sensitive (like mine) Blood Tap will sometimes accidentally fire twice. This macro prevents that from happening.

Raise Dead and Dark Transformation all-in-one:
/use [nopet] raise dead; !dark transformation

This will summon your Pet if you don't have one. When you have an active Pet, the button will be replaced with Dark Transformation.

Death Coil macro:
#showtooltip Death Coil
/use [nomod] Death Coil
/use [mod:shift, @pet] Death Coil
/use [mod:alt, @player] Death Coil

When you press this macro normally, it will cast Death Coil. If you keep Shift pressed, it will heal your Pet. If you keep Alt pressed, it will heal yourself.

Presence Dance macro:
/use [nomod] Unholy Presence
/use [nomod] Blood Presence
/use [mod:shift] Frost Presence

When pressing this macro normally, it will alternate between Unholy Presence and Blood Presence. If you keep Shift pressed, it will use Frost Presence.

Burst Macro:
#showtooltip Summon Gargoyle
/use [@player] Unholy Frenzy
/use 14
/use Summon Gargoyle

"/cleartarget" and "/targetlasttarget" were necesarry in Wrath of the Lich King and Cataclysm to prevent a bug which didn't allow you to use Summon Gargoyle on your current target. I don't know if it's still necesarry in Mists of Pandaria but I will be keeping it anyway, it does no harm. You might want to remove Unholy Frenzy from that macro, personally I like to use it in different situations. Also, you might be wondering what the hell is "/use 14". Well, let's take a look:

Slot Macros

Slot Macros will activate whatever special effect you have on the respective Gear slot. For example, if you're an Engineer, "/use 10" will activate Synapse Springs if you have it on your Hands. Now let's look at the slot numbers:

/use 6

Will activate whatever enchant you have on your BELT.

/use 10

Will activate whatever enchant you have on your HANDS.

/use 13

Will activate whatever TRINKET you have in the FIRST trinket slot.

/use 14

Will activate whatever TRINKET you have in the SECOND trinket slot.

/use 15

Will activate whatever enchant you have on your BACK.

These types of macros are A LOT more reliable than "/use (itemname)" because you don't have to change the macro every time you change your respective item.

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11. Spell Tips and Tricks

I could have included those tips in the "Main Abilities Explained" chapter, but I decided to make a separate one for whoever would like to read only about these.

Dark Simulacrum

  • It's a spell that's not quite easy to use and it requires you to anticipate your enemy's next move.
  • Against Mages you can apply Dark Simulacrum and then stun the mage with either Asphyxiate or Gnaw. In 90% of cases he will Blink, and you will copy the spell.
  • If you want to copy a casted spell such as Polymorph, you should only apply Dark Simulacrum when there are ~0.5-0.3 seconds left from the cast. If you apply it too soon, he will most likely notice it and stop casting.
  • Don't try to copy Immunity spells, it won't work anymore. Same goes for other spells such as Avenging Wrath, Mortal Coil, Ring of Frost, Typhoon, or Howl of Terror.

Death Grip

  • NEVER start a fight by using Death Grip, you will need it later and most classes will try to counter it in the start.
  • Death Grip shouldn't only be used to close the gap between you and your target.
  • You can also use it to briefly interrupt spellcasts from far away, or to interrupt casts which are normally not interruptible.
  • You can use it to bring a target closer to your Partner so he can use one of his CCs.

Death and Decay

  • Use it to get Rogues / Druids out of Stealth, or Hunters out of Camouflage.
  • If a Healer is drinking to restore Mana and he's out of reach (or out of Line of Sight), use Death and Decay to put him in combat.
  • The Glyph of Death and Decay is useful in Battlegrounds to slow down groups of people or Flag Carriers.

Mind Freeze

  • You can safely use Mind Freeze when a Warrior pops Spell Reflection. Mind Freeze will get reflected and it does no harm to you.
  • When a Paladin uses Hand of Protection you can still use Mind Freeze to interrupt his spell casts, since Hand of Protection only protects against Physical attacks and Mind Freeze is a Magical attack. The same goes for Strangulate orAsphyxiate

Pet Tips

  • If you want to interrupt a spell, but your Mind Freeze is on cooldown, and your Pet is Transformed, use "/petmoveto" to move your Pet away and then use Leap to interrupt the spellcast.
  • Most of the times it's not worth using the normal versions of Leap, Gnaw and Huddle. Note that they share cooldown with their Transformed versions, so you're better off waiting for Dark Transformation.
  • If you want to Transform your Pet faster, then use Glyph of Death's Embrace and start using Death Coils on him. Every time you heal your Pet you will receive 20 Runic Power back, making it easier to stack Shadow Infusion.

Death Strike

  • Even if Death Strike misses, it's still going to consume Runes and heal you.
  • Death Strike cannot be parried, so it can be useful against Warriors who pop Die by the Sword.

Gorefiend's Grasp

  • In Battlegrounds, with a bit of teamwork, Gorefiend's Grasp can be a very poweful spell. Here are a few examples:
  • In Arathi Basin at Lumber Mill, or in Eye of the Storm near the flag, use Gorefiend's Grasp on a friendly Elemental Shaman, and he will use Thunderstorm, throwing the enemies down to their doom.
  • Synchronize your Gorefiend's Grasp with a Mage's Ring of Frost, pulling as many targets into it.
  • Druids will often use Solar Beam + Ursol's Vortex. Use Gorefiend's Grasp to pull even more Targets within.
  • If you see players running away from a Bladestorming Warrior, use Gorefiend's Grasp on him.

Anti-Magic Shell

  • Anti-Magic Shell will protect you from Hunter Traps. The traps will still be triggered but they will have no effect on you. It also protects you from their Web Traps.
  • It protects you from Poisons and Diseases as well (because they count as Magic effects).

Icy Touch (Glyphed)

  • It's a good practice to dispel your target's buffs at the start of the fight. Dispelling more important buffs later during the fight becomes easier this way.
  • Usually it's better to dispel magic shields (Power Word: Shield, Ice Barrier etc.) than to damage through them, but don't bother dispelling them if the target has too many dispellable buffs on him, as you might end up wasting your runes.
  • The spell becomes even more powerful if you're using Chilblains, as it will slow your enemy in addition to dispelling beneficial effects.

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12. Arena Setups


Death Knight / Mistweaver Monk
- Great synergy between the two classes. Monks have a ton of CCs and their insane healings will make Death Knights extremely hard to kill.

Death Knight / Restoration Druid
- Not quite as many CCs as the other comp, but the Druid has very good heals and he has many escape tools.

Death Knight / Marksmanship Hunter
- A ton of CCs, a ton of damage, but it requires a lot of coordination and teamwork. You have to kill the enemy team before they kill you.


Death Knight / Affliction Warlock / Restoration Druid or Mistweaver Monk (a.k.a. Shadowcleave)
- Probably the best setup for Unholy Death Knights in 3v3, it brings together two of the classes that can lay down the most pressure in this expansion.

Death Knight / Balance Druid / Mistweaver Monk
- Yet another DoT cleave, it can be just as efficient as Shadowcleave but it requires more skilled players.

Death Knight / Marksmanship Hunter / Restoration Druid (a.k.a. PHD)
- A comp that's been viable since Wrath of the Lich King, it can lay down incredible single-target pressure and has good CC.

Death Knight / Warrior / Restoration Druid (a.k.a. TSG)
- The good old TSG, it is viable once more since Warriors are a strong class again. It's a comp that focuses on training a single target.

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13. Addons

Note: Go to "Other Downloads" and find the version of the add-on closest to 5.4.8. Make sure you don't download any add-ons marked with "-nolib", those are for developers.
Pitbull 4 - highly versatile Unit Frame addon. It's a pain to configure, but it has a ton of options.
Bartender 4 - Action Bar addon, allows you to move them around, hide them, and it makes keybinding a hundred times easier.
Gladius - powerful Arena Unit Frame addon. Tracks PvP Trinket cooldowns and DR stacks.
GladiatorlosSA - an addon for new DKs, it provides sound alerts whenever an enemy casts an important spell. It can become annoying sometimes.
TellMeWhen - an extremely useful addon, it allows you to track virtually anything. If you're smart enough, you can create your own version of GladiatorlosSA with it.
Juked - enemy cooldown tracking addon.
Necrotic Track - an important addon, it tracks the duration and amount of Necrotic absorbtion on your target. Make sure you enable "Load out of date add-ons" else it won't work.
OmniCC - shows the remaining cooldown of your abilities, or the remaining duration of buffs / debuffs on targets.
Tidy Plates - nameplate replacement addon, has a lot of useful features.
PlateBuffs - shows the remaining duration of your debuffs above nameplates. Note Tidy Plates has a similar feature and you should disable it. This one is better as it also tracks CCs by default.
LoseControl - shows the duration of CC effects on yourself or your targets. I prefer using this over Blizzard's loss of control interface.
Quartz - castbar addon with some nice features.
Yury's Rune Display - allows you to resize and move around your Runes. I prefer using the default Blizzard art for Runes instead of some weird Japanese letters...

If anyone is curious about how my UI looks like:

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14. Closing Remarks

Although Death Knights have received many benefits in this expansion, the skillcap is actually higher than it was on Cataclysm. They are even harder to play since we can no longer "Spam 1 button and become gladiator", we actually have to play more carefully now. It's a class that's very hard to master and it takes a lot of time, patience and dedication. It took me about 5 years to reach this level.

I really hope that this guide helped you in one way or another... and if it did, +rep or likes are always welcome!

Also if you have any questions, you can ask them in this topic, or send me a PM. I will answer when I've got time.

15. Currently Known Bugs

Here's a list of known spell bugs which are related to this guide. This section will be updated as they get fixed, and eventually removed when there are no bugs left.

  • Death Coil deals low damage (about 40% lower than normal). - FIXED
  • Gargoyle deals low damage (about 40% lower than normal). - FIXED
  • Death and Decay deals no damage. - FIXED
  • Pets don't benefit from PvP Power. - FIXED
  • Necrotic Strike absorbtion amount is way too low (75% of AP instead of 225%). - FIXED
  • Anti-Magic Shell gives too much Runic Power per point of damage absorbed. - FIXED
  • Unholy Presence and the Soul Reaper haste buff do not affect Rune Regen rate. - FIXED
  • Diseases spread through Pestilence deal 50% of normal damage instead of 100%. - FIXED
  • Desecrated Ground does not remove Hex, Cyclone or Disorient effects. - FIXED
  • Ghouls have 2 times more energy than they should. - FIXED
  • Glyph of Regenerative Magic does not work. - FIXED
  • The 4-piece set bonus doesn't work. - FIXED
  • Glyph of corpse Explosion does not work. - FIXED
  • Gargoyle cannot be controlled using macros. - FIXED
  • Ghoul's HP gets bugged when the player's max HP changes.

Last edited by Dreadblade on 21-08-2015, 19:43:50; edited 10 times in total
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[Insane Loremaster]

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Post Posted: 23-03-2015, 00:06:25 | Translate post to: ... (Click for more languages)

I dont play unholy, and probably never will, but i have to say that i enjoyed reading this guide. It's very well structured and easy to understand. Great job!

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Great job dreadblade ,all i can do is to like it -
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Post Posted: 23-03-2015, 13:08:18 | Translate post to: ... (Click for more languages)

Good job. Nice guide. Congrats

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Great guide ! -
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Nicely done.
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Awesome ! Congrats -

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  Battletag: postrow.ID_BATTLE_NET}  Znk01 
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From what i heard, Unh PvP might be even easier on MoP than cata (maybe i was wrong), but i'd still give it a try by following your guide. Congrats! ^^

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[r u the 16k rep guy?]

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10/10 guide , very complete and you can see the effort put in

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Nice work dude. This is probably the best MoP guide on freakz so far (maybe even better than mine Surprise ).

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Appreciate the feedback, guys. Thanks!
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the best of, nice -

I just want to feel this moment
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10/10 for you too. GJ DB for this pvp tut.

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Great guide! Also another good way to use Dark Simulacrum on Mage is with Death Grip because most of them will use blink after grip so you can use stun and force them to use another cooldown, also another great tip is to use moveto pet ability to "eat" hunters traps.
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Nice, GJ Dreadblade!

Exorcizare Gets 100.000 Honorable Kills
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