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Mists of Pandaria Unholy Death Knight Guide – Talents, Rotations, Stats and Glyphs

WOW Death Knight
With Mists of Panderia looming over the horizon we think it’s about time to take a look at the specs for the Unholy Death Knight. Note that this guide is primarily optimized for group PvE.

Basics
Like the other two Death Knight builds, Unholy has only been tweaked a bit. Of course, there’s enough tweaks that there’s stuff to learn, but the basic things are the same.

The biggest change you’ll notice is that the new version of Ebon Plaguebringer no longer has the magic damage debuff or the third disease. Instead, they’ve upped the damage on our strikes to compensate.

Unholy is best played with a two-handed weapon enchanted with Rune of the Fallen Crusader, as you will need its power to get the most damage from your strikes, and in Unholy Presence. Make sure you have your ghoul out as much as possible, as it makes up a good deal of your damage. If you don’t want to deal with a pet or want to dual wield, you’re better off switching to frost DPS.

Stats
Strength is still your primary stat. It informs all damage you’ll be doing, even spell damage, and boosts it more than anything else, especially with Unholy Might.

Make sure to get your Hit/Expertise rating to the 7.5% soft caps to ensure your attacks and spells don’t miss.

Haste increases not only attack speed, but rune regeneration. It also affects pet attacks, and since pets are such an important part of unholy death knight DPS, it’s just another reason to stack this. After you’ve got hit and expertise capped, you’ll want to get this.

Critical strike rating comes in second to haste, in part because it affects your pets now, and therefore provides a bigger boost to all of your damage.

Mastery can become more important if you have a weapon with a shadow damage proc such as Gurthalak, but on a day to day basis, it’ll be your least desired secondary stat.

Talents
Like all death knight builds, Unholies have a lot of options when it comes to talents.

Tier 1
Plague Leech will be a DPS increaser on this tier if you can consistently use it every time your Outbreak is up and/or your diseases have only a couple seconds left before they drop.

Unholy Blight is a great backup for those moments when you really need your diseases up, but Outbreak is on cooldown. Roiling Blood can also certainly help if you’re doing a lot of AoE, too, especially since Reaping now affects Blood Boil.

Tier 2
Lichborne is a very solid self-healing mechanism, and something you may want to keep in reserve for soloing or when your healers just don’t have the mana to heal you.

Anti-Magic Zone gives you a very nice group defensive cooldown that could save your raid or dungeon group if you’re facing down a boss with some nasty magic AoEs. I’d recommend Lichborne personally.

Tier 3
You’ll want to take Death’s Advance here. Its passive speed boost does stack with Unholy Presence, and you’ll have that cooldown to chase down runners.

Tier 4
Death Pact is the best option on this tier. It provides a pretty huge heal and it won’t actually kill your ghoul. The only real downsides are the 2 minute cooldown and the possibility of your ghoul dying to a stray hit until he heals back up.

Tier 5
Blood Tap provides the most bang for your buck here, since you can use it to refresh a depleted frost or blood rune and have a “free” Scourge Strike ready to go.

Tier 6
This tier, since no ability does damage, is preference based. Remorseless Winter can help keep trash pulls locked down nicely, ready for your tank to pick off.

Gorefiend’s Grasp can be used to help reign in a pull that’s starting to go bad. Desecrated Ground may prove useful if you come up against a boss fight mechanic that it can break or protect you from.

Glyphs
Glyphs, have become more of a matter of preference for Death Knights, at least for PvE. I would recommend you go for Glyph of Anti-Magic Shell, as you should be using that ability to absorb magic damage and generate runic power as often as possible. Other than that, you can feel free to go wild.

Rotation
Most death knights do not have set rotations, but must use their abilities when and where they will be most effective according to the situation, here are some basic guidelines.

  • Keep your diseases up. You’ll need both the debuffs and the extra damage they provide to your scourge strike. Whenever possible, use Outbreak or Unholy Blight, as using runes will almost always mess up the rest of your priority.
  • Use Dark Transformation. Getting your ghoul pumped up and powerful means more damage, and the sooner he’s through with it, the sooner your death coils can build up for the next one. Don’t waste any possible stacks of Shadow Infusion if you can help it.
  • If your target is below 35% health, use Soul Reaper.
  • If your runic power is capped or near-capped, use Death Coil. You don’t want to waste the runic power generated by your other attacks.
  • Use Death and Decay if the target is not moving and it won’t pull adds. Death and Decay is still a net DPS gain to your single target rotation thanks to your high shadow damage.
  • Use Scourge Strike if both unholy runes or all death runes are up.
  • Use Festering Strike if both sets of frost and blood runes are up. You will also want to make sure you use it often enough to keep your diseases refreshed.
  • Use Death Coil if you have a Sudden Doom proc
  • Use Scourge Strike
  • Use Festering Strike
  • Use Death Coil