Unholy Death Knight PvE Guide 5.4.8

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Post Posted: 07-07-2016, 11:57:53 | Translate post to: ... (Click for more languages)

Unholy Death Knight brief PvE guide


1. Your specialization and its role in PvE
2. Talents
3. Your Abilities and Rotation
4. Gemming, enchanting, and reforging
5. Consumables
6. Sources

1. Your specialization and its role in PvE

You are an Unholy Death Knight, which is the second DPS specialization for the class, the other one being Frost. You are heavily based on Damage over time Effects and depend on your minions to maximize damage. Unholy has a higher skillcap than the other specialization when it comes to PvE, but is far more rewarding and interesting to play. What makes you different from other close range DPSes is that you can accomplish a wider variety of tasks and have a wider variety of means to accomplish them. Please refer to my spec guide for more information on the Unholy DK. Despite being harder than the other two specializations, you`re going to have lots of fun playing it once you get used to it.

2. Talents

Currently, we can`t say there is such thing as a "viable build", because all abilities are good in their own way. Tier by tier, the abilities have the following roles:

- Plague Leech is the best for performance
- Lichborne and Purgatory are survivability talents, whereas AMZ is a utility talent
- Chillblains and the stun are the best for Crowd Control, whereas Death's Avance is a movement / utility talent
- On this tier, the talents are situational
- All talents are situational, but Blood Tap is the best if you would like to follow the rotation presented at point three, section two. It allows for extra actions to be taken as fillers.
- Gorefiend`s Grasp and Remorseless Winter are situational CC talents, whereas Desecrated Ground is rarely used, but still viable.

For Glyphs, use: Glyph of Tranquil Grip (your DG no longer taunts the target) and possibly Glyph of Army of the Dead (Your summoned Ghouls no longer taunt the target). whereas the Major Glyphs are situational.

Glyph of Festering Blood causes Blood Boil to damage all targets as if they were infected with Blood Plague and Frost Fever.

Glyph of Shifting Presences allows you to retain 70% of your runic power when switching between presences. This can be helpful if you are switching between Unholy Presence and Blood Presence. While there is no reason to do so from a DPS standpoint, Blood Presence boosts your survivability, which may be desirable in certain situations.

Glyph of Regenerative Magic procs each time your Anti-Magic Shell expires from you without having been fully consumed by damage. When this happens, the cooldown of Anti-Magic Shell is reduced by an amount based on how much damage it had absorbed (the more damage absorbed, the smaller the reduction), up to a maximum of 50%. This glyph is very beneficial in allowing you to gain more runic power over the course of the fight.

Glyph of Anti-Magic improves your Anti-Magic Shell, by increasing the amount of incoming damage that it absorbs to as much as 100%, up from 75%. Note that Anti-Magic Shell's absorption still remains limited by 50% of your maximum health. This glyph always has the potential of being beneficial, so you should take it if you do not need to use another glyph instead.

Glyph of Icebound Fortitude reduces the duration and the cooldown of Icebound Fortitude. This glyph allows you to use Icebound Fortitude much more often, for short periods of time. It is well suited to the DPS role, where most times when you use Icebound Fortitude to reduce damage, the damage comes in the form of a single raid-damage spike.

Glyph of Unholy Frenzy causes Unholy Frenzy to no longer deal damage to the player on whom it is cast. If you are not using this glyph slot for something else, then this is a nice way to reduce some damage.

Glyph of Pestilence increases the range of Pestilence (including when Pestilence is triggered by Roiling Blood) by 5 yards, which makes it easier to spread diseases to adds that are not stacked together.

Glyph of Dark Simulacrum reduces the cooldown of Dark Simulacrum by 30 seconds and increases its duration by 4 seconds. If you can find an ability in the encounter that you can use Dark Simulacrum against, then this glyph could be a DPS increase.

Glyph of Death Coil causes Death Coil to place a damage absorption effect, if cast on an ally. This will generally not be a worthwhile thing to do, but it remains a possibility in some remote situations.

Glyph of Dark Succor gives you a cost-free Death Strike that heals for at least 20% of your maximum health, each time you get a killing blow on an enemy that grants experience or honor (only while in Frost Presence and Unholy Presence). While it will generally not work, this glyph can sometimes help on fights where you are killing adds and you need a self-heal.

Glyph of Loud Horn increases the amount of runic power generated by Horn of Winter Icon Horn of Winter by 10, but doubles its cooldown. This glyph is a small DPS bonus whenever you can afford to use it (that is to say, when you have a free Major Glyph slot).

3. Your Abilities and rotation

Festering strike
Plague Strike
Scourge Strike
Blood Strike
Death Coil
Summon Gargoyle
Unholy Frenzy
Dark Transformation

Bellow is a summary of Unholy's priority system:

- Your single-target rotation is as follows:

-> -> -> -> -> ->

- Death Coil is to be used either when you have bellow 90 RP / you have a "Sudden Doom" proc. If spells in your rotation are unavailable, replace them with whatever maximizes your DPS at that point.

- Diseases should be up at all times. They can be either applied with Outbreak (pre-fight) or Plague Strike (during the fight).

- Only use soul reaper if your target is bellow 35%

This rotation is best used when you have "Blood Tap" talented, because the talent allows you to have little downtime and increases flexibility. Remember to always use it when possible! Bellow is a macro to simplify your rotation:

#showtooltip Death Coil
/cast Death Coil
/cast Blood Tap


Summon Gargoyle is a very powerful cooldown that is free of cost. You generally want to use it whenever it is available, but you can save it for a period when you need to do extra damage. The gargoyle scales with spell haste, and using it together with Heroism/ Bloodlust/ Time Warp allows the gargoyle to get a few extra casts off, increasing its damage slightly.

Empower Rune Weapon refreshes all of your runes and grants you 25 runic power. It has a 5-minute cooldown and, as such, it can realistically be used only twice per fight.

Empower Rune Weapon should be used when all of your runes are on cooldown and you have low runic power. It is useful in providing a large burst of DPS, so keep that in mind when deciding when to use it.

Army of the Dead summons a number of ghouls to fight at your side for a short while. As it has a 10-minute cooldown, it can only be used once per fight.

It is best to cast this shortly before combat or during phases when you cannot attack the boss, since it has a cast time during which you cannot attack

4. Gemming, Enchanting and Reforging

Before explaining the stat priority, let`s take a look at the stats:

- Strenght increases attack power and causes you to do more damage
- Hit rating increased your chance to hit
- Expertise decreases the chance of your attacks being dodged (which is 7.5% against a raid boss)
- Haste rating increases your attack speed
- Critical Strike rating increases your chance to critically strike
- Mastery increases the shadow damage you deal, in the same way that Mastery: Dreadblade does.

You should gem, enchant and reforge based on the information above.

5. Consumables

- Strenght: Black pepper ribs and shrimp / Fluffy Silkfeather Omelet / Pandaren Treasure Noodle soup
- Flask: Flash of Winter`s bite
- Potion: Potion of Mogu Power

6. Sources

The information which I wasn`t aware of, or was added to enhance the guide was taken from:

- Freakz Database
- MopVeins

Former Game Master & Discord Community Manager
(January 2017 - February 2018)

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