Death Knight Leveling Guide (MoP 5.4)

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Preliminary Mentions

In this guide, we will offer you some quick and practical information for leveling up your Death Knight from level 85 to level 90. We cover rotation, talents and glyphs. We do not, however, cover statistics, gear, or any information about the zones you should be questing in.

This guide requires a basic understanding of how the Death Knight class works at level 85. This guide is not meant to reflect how you should play your character at level 90, or in a raid environment or dungeon.

While leveling up, you can complete 4 dungeons:

These dungeons have quests which reward you with vast amounts of experience.

In our opinion, you should level your Death Knight up as either Frost or Unholy, since this is much more efficient than leveling as Blood.

1. Frost Leveling Guide: 85-90↑top

1.1. Talents and Glyphs

Before setting out on your leveling journey, you should take these talents and glyphs, for maximum efficiency. Obviously, this is not set in stone, and you have a lot of liberty.

In the spaces where no glyphs are mentioned, you can use anything you like.

1.2. Rotation

You have to adapt your raiding rotation to work against against targets which, generally, will not live very long. As such, you will probably only have time for one or two cycles before the target is dead. This rotation is very similar (practically identical) to your normal raiding rotation. We will summarise this rotation below, but keep in mind that we do not go into cooldown usage, although you should try to use your DPS cooldowns (also listed in the rotation page linked above) as much as possible.

  1. Put your diseases on the target (ideally through Outbreak Icon Outbreak, but if it is not available, then apply them manually through Howling Blast Icon Howling Blast and Plague Strike Icon Plague Strike).
  2. Use Howling Blast Icon Howling Blast if you have a Rime Icon Rime proc.
  3. Use your Killing Machine Icon Killing Machine procs on Obliterate Icon Obliterate (if you are using a two-handed weapon) or Frost Strike Icon Frost Strike (if you are dual-wielding).
  4. Use Obliterate Icon Obliterate the rest of the time.
  5. Dump runic power with Frost Strike Icon Frost Strike (do not let it reach maximum capacity).

You should be using Frost Presence Icon Frost Presence.

In addition to this, you should use Blood Tap Icon Blood Tap to activate more Death runes. We do not advise macroing it, since situations can occur where you do not want to use the Blood Tap charges right before your current enemy dies, but instead use them on a new enemy that you will pull very soon.

Plague Leech Icon Plague Leech should be used whenever your target is almost dead, so that the diseases on it are consumed to give you a Death rune.

You can use Death Siphon Icon Death Siphon while fighting, to heal yourself a bit while also dealing damage. It costs 1 Death rune, though, so it is a DPS loss to use.

If you are in greater danger of dying, you can save yourself by use of Lichborne Icon Lichborne (and spamming Death Coil Icon Death Coil on yourself for healing), Death Strike Icon Death Strike, and Icebound Fortitude Icon Icebound Fortitude.

Do not forget to use Death Grip Icon Death Grip and Death's Advance Icon Death's Advance, which will save you a lot of time.

A single change occurs as you level up, namely that at level 87 you gain Soul Reaper Icon Soul Reaper. This ability places a debuff on the target, which deals damage to it after 5 seconds. This damage is greatly increased if the target is below 35% health when the damage is done. If the target dies before Soul Reaper ticks, your haste will be increased by 50% for 10 seconds.

As you can tell, you should try to delay using it until the target is below 75% health or so (this depends on the health of the target, and on how quickly you can damage them). In any case, you should try to use Soul Reaper on every target you encounter, provided that you can gain either one of its benefits.

2. Unholy Leveling Guide: 85-90↑top

2.1. Talents and Glyphs

Before setting out on your leveling journey, you should take these talents and glyphs, for maximum efficiency. Obviously, this is not set in stone, and you have a lot of liberty.

In the spaces where no glyphs are mentioned, you can use anything you like.

2.2. Rotation

You have to adapt your raiding rotation to work against against targets which, generally, will not live very long. As such, you will probably only have time for one or two cycles before the target is dead. This rotation is very similar (practically identical) to your normal raiding rotation. We will summarise this rotation below, but keep in mind that we do not go into cooldown usage, although you should try to use your DPS cooldowns (also listed in the rotation page linked above) as much as possible.

  1. Put your diseases on the target (initially through Outbreak Icon Outbreak, if it is available; otherwise use Plague Strike Icon Plague Strike).
  2. Cast Dark Transformation Icon Dark Transformation whenever available (if the target you are fighting is almost dead, save it for a new target).
  3. Cast Scourge Strike Icon Scourge Strike whenever available.
  4. Cast Festering Strike Icon Festering Strike whenever available.
  5. Dump runic power with Death Coil Icon Death Coil (do not let it reach maximum capacity).

You should be using Unholy Presence Icon Unholy Presence.

In addition to this, you should use Blood Tap Icon Blood Tap to activate more Death runes. We do not advise macroing it, since situations can occur where you do not want to use Blood Tap right before your current enemy dies, but instead use them on a new enemy that you will pull very soon.

Plague Leech Icon Plague Leech should be used whenever your target is almost dead, so that the diseases on it are consumed to give you a Death rune.

You can use Death Siphon Icon Death Siphon while fighting, to heal yourself a bit while also dealing damage. It costs 1 Death rune, though, so it is a DPS loss to use.

If you are in greater danger of dying, you can save yourself by use of Lichborne Icon Lichborne (and spamming Death Coil Icon Death Coil on yourself for healing), Death Strike Icon Death Strike, and Icebound Fortitude Icon Icebound Fortitude.

Do not forget to use Death Grip Icon Death Grip and Death's Advance Icon Death's Advance, which will save you a lot of time.

A single change occurs as you level up, namely that at level 87 you gain Soul Reaper Icon Soul Reaper. This ability places a debuff on the target, which deals damage to it after 5 seconds. This damage is greatly increased if the target is below 35% health when the damage is done. If the target dies before Soul Reaper ticks, your haste will be increased by 50% for 10 seconds.

As you can tell, you should try to delay using it until the target is below 75% health or so (this depends on the health of the target, and on how quickly you can damage them). In any case, you should try to use Soul Reaper on every target you encounter, provided that you can gain either one of its benefits.