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 100. 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 a high level. This guide is not meant to reflect how you should play your character at maximum level, or in a dungeon or raid environment.

While leveling up from level 85 to 90, you can complete 4 dungeons:

While leveling up from level 90 to 100, you can complete 4 dungeons:

  • Bloodmaul Slag Mines;
  • Iron Docks;
  • Auchindoun;
  • Skyreach.

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: 85-100↑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.

At level 90, you will be able to choose a tier 6 talent. We advise you to choose Remorseless Winter Icon Remorseless Winter, since this will allow you to occasionally stun mobs you are fighting.

1.2. Rotation

The rotation you use while leveling up will prove to be very similar to your normal raiding rotation, but we will summarise the rotation you should use below.

  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.

When you are fighting multiple targets at once, make free use of Blood Boil Icon Blood Boil to spread your diseases to all targets, and of Death and Decay Icon Death and Decay if the targets are stationary.

At level 87, you gain Soul Reaper Icon Soul Reaper. This places a debuff on the target that lasts 5 seconds and that deals a high amount of damage to it when it expires, provided that the target is below 35% health at that time. If the target dies before the debuff expires, you gain 50% haste for 5 seconds. Since the targets you fight while leveling up will not live for very long, you can apply Soul Reaper much earlier, even when they have 50% or more health, since what matters is that Soul Reaper ticks when the target is below 35% health. You will have to experiment with your DPS and the mobs' health to figure out the best.

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.

Below, we will quickly list your important DPS cooldowns, survival abilities, and the leveling perks you will gain between level 90 and 100.

1.2.1. Cooldowns

Ability Usage
Pillar of Frost Icon Pillar of Frost Use on cooldown
Army of the Dead Icon Army of the Dead Use when overwhelmed by number of enemies, or when fighting a very strong enemy
Empower Rune Weapon Icon Empower Rune Weapon Use for a burst of damage, or when fighting a very strong enemy

1.2.2. Survival

Ability Usage
Blood Presence Icon Blood Presence Switch to this for increased health, armor, and damage reduction
Death Siphon Icon Death Siphon Use to heal yourself and deal damage (it is a small DPS loss)
Death Strike Icon Death Strike Use to heal yourself and deal damage (it is a DPS loss)
Icebound Fortitude Icon Icebound Fortitude Use to reduce incoming damage and gain immunity to stuns. Best saved for very powerful enemies
Lichborne Icon Lichborne Use whenever you require extra healing from leech (it is free of cost and off the global cooldown)

1.2.3. Perks

At levels 92, 94, 96, and 98 you will receive one of 4 perks, in random order. Below, we list the perks and quickly mention how they affect your playstyle.

Perk Effect
Empowered Obliterate Icon Empowered Obliterate Passive DPS increase
Empowered Pillar of Frost Icon Empowered Pillar of Frost Passive DPS increase, also removes cost from Pillar of Frost Icon Pillar of Frost, making it easier to use
Improved Death Grip Icon Improved Death Grip Death Gripped targets now also slowed by Chains of Ice Icon Chains of Ice; generally inconsequential
Improved Runeforges Icon Improved Runeforges Passive DPS increase

2. Unholy Leveling Guide: 85-100↑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.

At level 90, you will be able to choose a tier 6 talent. We advise you to choose Remorseless Winter Icon Remorseless Winter, since this will allow you to occasionally stun mobs you are fighting.

2.2. Rotation

The rotation you use while leveling up will prove to be very similar to your normal raiding rotation, but we will summarise the rotation you should use below.

  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). Also use Death Coil whenever you have Sudden Doom Icon Sudden Doom procs.

You should be using Unholy Presence Icon Unholy Presence.

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.

When you are fighting multiple targets at once, make free use of Blood Boil Icon Blood Boil to spread your diseases to all targets, and of Death and Decay Icon Death and Decay if the targets are stationary.

At level 87, you gain Soul Reaper Icon Soul Reaper. This places a debuff on the target that lasts 5 seconds and that deals a high amount of damage to it when it expires, provided that the target is below 35% health at that time. If the target dies before the debuff expires, you gain 50% haste for 5 seconds. Since the targets you fight while leveling up will not live for very long, you can apply Soul Reaper much earlier, even when they have 50% or more health, since what matters is that Soul Reaper ticks when the target is below 35% health. You will have to experiment with your DPS and the mobs' health to figure out the best.

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.

Below, we will quickly list your important DPS cooldowns, survival abilities, and the leveling perks you will gain between level 90 and 100.

2.2.1. Cooldowns

Ability Usage
Summon Gargoyle Icon Summon Gargoyle Use against any powerful enemies
Army of the Dead Icon Army of the Dead Use when overwhelmed by number of enemies, or when fighting a very strong enemy
Empower Rune Weapon Icon Empower Rune Weapon Use for a burst of damage, or when fighting a very strong enemy

2.2.2. Survival

Ability Usage
Blood Presence Icon Blood Presence Switch to this for increased health, armor, and damage reduction
Death Siphon Icon Death Siphon Use to heal yourself and deal damage (it is a small DPS loss)
Death Strike Icon Death Strike Use to heal yourself and deal damage (it is a DPS loss)
Icebound Fortitude Icon Icebound Fortitude Use to reduce incoming damage and gain immunity to stuns. Best saved for very powerful enemies
Lichborne Icon Lichborne Use whenever you require extra healing from leech (it is free of cost and off the global cooldown)

2.2.3. Perks

At levels 92, 94, 96, and 98 you will receive one of 4 perks, in random order. Below, we list the perks and quickly mention how they affect your playstyle.

Perk Effect
Empowered Gargoyle Icon Empowered Gargoyle Passive DPS increase
Enhanced Dark Transformation Icon Enhanced Dark Transformation Removes cost from Dark Transformation Icon Dark Transformation, making it easier to use
Enhanced Fallen Crusader Icon Enhanced Fallen Crusader Passive survivability increase
Improved Soul Reaper Icon Improved Soul Reaper Soul Reaper Icon Soul Reaper deals its additional damage when the target is below 45%; adjust your usage of the ability accordingly