Warning It appears that you may be blocking the ads, and we are fine with it (read more here). That said, it would really be awesome if you decided to whitelist our website or make a donation :) You can also send us Bitcoins (1DEkropiHPWBmfJxogFaXQscfzhmdpTti4)!

Unholy Death Knight DPS Spec, Builds, and Talents (Legion 7.1.5)

Last updated on Jan 17, 2017 at 18:26 by Vlad 353 comments

Table of Contents

General Information

On this page, we present the viable talent choices for Unholy Death Knights in World of Warcraft Legion 7.1.5. We detail what each of the talents do and in which situations they should be taken.

The other pages of our Unholy Death Knight guide can be accessed from the table of contents on the right.

About Our Reviewer

This guide has been reviewed and approved by Magnuss, a top Unholy Death Knight who raids in Occasional Excellence.

1. Talent Choices

Level Choices
56 All Will Serve All Will Serve Bursting Sores Bursting Sores Ebon Fever ? Ebon Fever
57 Epidemic Epidemic Pestilent Pustules Pestilent Pustules Blighted Rune Weapon Blighted Rune Weapon
58 Unholy Frenzy ? Unholy Frenzy Castigator Castigator Clawing Shadows Clawing Shadows
60 Sludge Belcher Sludge Belcher Asphyxiate ? Asphyxiate Debilitating Infestation Debilitating Infestation
75 Spell Eater ? Spell Eater Corpse Shield ? Corpse Shield Lingering Apparition ? Lingering Apparition
90 Shadow Infusion Shadow Infusion Necrosis ? Necrosis Infected Claws Infected Claws
100 Dark Arbiter ? Dark Arbiter Defile Defile Soul Reaper Soul Reaper

Talents can be freely changed when out of combat and in a rested XP area (such as an inn or a capital city). Moreover, Tome of the Tranquil Mind Icon Tome of the Tranquil Mind and Codex of the Tranquil Mind Icon Codex of the Tranquil Mind can be used to temporarily allow players to change talents anywhere, as long as they are out of combat.

2. Talent Cheat Sheet

There are currently two different, viable builds as an Unholy Death Knight (along with a number of talents which are situational), depending on whether you choose to prioritise Mastery as your secondary stat of choice, or Critical Strike. We currently recommend the Mastery build, but provide both.

2.1. Mastery Talent Build

2.2. Alternative Talent Build

3. Tier 1 (Level 56) Talents

All Will Serve All Will Serve Bursting Sores Bursting Sores Ebon Fever ? Ebon Fever
  • All Will Serve Icon All Will Serve causes Raise Dead Icon Raise Dead to summon a skeletal minion in addition to the ghoul, and it also removes Raise Dead's cooldown. The skeletal minion lasts indefinitely and it uses a ranged attack against your target.
  • Bursting Sores Icon Bursting Sores increases the damage of bursting Festering Wound Icon Festering Wound by 50%, and also causes all enemies within 8 yards of a burst Festering Wound to take Shadow damage.
  • Ebon Fever Icon Ebon Fever passively reduces the duration of Virulent Plague Icon Virulent Plague by 50% while causing it to deal 20% more damage.

The talent choice in this tier is not very straightforward.

Bursting Sores Icon Bursting Sores is likely the best talent choice in this tier against a single target as well as in long-lived 2-3 target cleave situations. It especially benefits from playstylse that use the Infected Claws Icon Infected Claws talent or the The Instructor's Fourth Lesson Icon The Instructor's Fourth Lesson legendary bracers, and it is particularly strong at high levels of Mastery.

Ebon Fever Icon Ebon Fever works very well if there are large numbers of short-lived adds in the fight. If a large portion of Virulent Plague Icon Virulent Plague's timer can tick down on a group of 3+ adds before they die, or if there are multiple spread out adds for long durations in the fight, this talent may be the right choice.

All Will Serve Icon All Will Serve can see some use for freshly-geared Death Knights who lack supporting legendary items and/or have very low Mastery. It also benefits in situations where the Death Knight is away from the boss for long periods of time (which is rare). However, the damage of All Will Serve falls behind the other two talents in this tier in most situations, and is therefore not recommended.

4. Tier 2 (Level 57) Talents

Epidemic Epidemic Pestilent Pustules Pestilent Pustules Blighted Rune Weapon Blighted Rune Weapon
  • Epidemic Icon Epidemic is an active ability with 3 charges and a 10-second recharge time. When used, it causes all instances of your Virulent Plague Icon Virulent Plague (within 100 yards) to deal Shadow damage to the affected enemy, as well as a small amount of additional Shadow damage to all other enemies around them.
  • Pestilent Pustules Icon Pestilent Pustules causes you to gain 1 Rune for every 8th Festering Wound Icon Festering Wound you burst.
  • Blighted Rune Weapon Icon Blighted Rune Weapon is an active ability with a 1-minute cooldown, which causes your next 5 auto attacks to infect the target with 2 stacks of Festering Wound each.

Pestilent Pustules Icon Pestilent Pustules is the strongest option in this tier, in essentially any given situation. Both of the other talents are behind and are not considered competitive.

5. Tier 3 (Level 58) Talents

Unholy Frenzy ? Unholy Frenzy Castigator Castigator Clawing Shadows Clawing Shadows

Clawing Shadows Icon Clawing Shadows benefits from high levels of Mastery and is the recommended talent in this tier (even if you have the The Instructor's Fourth Lesson Icon The Instructor's Fourth Lesson legendary). The ranged nature of Clawing Shadows has some potential utility in a fight, but in general spamming Clawing Shadows from range without Festering Wound Icon Festering Wounds on the target is considered inefficient.

Castigator Icon Castigator scales with Critical Strike, and synergises heavily with a wound-based playstyle. Using the The Instructor's Fourth Lesson Icon The Instructor's Fourth Lesson legendary bracers, the legendary ring (Uvanimor, the Unbeautiful Icon Uvanimor, the Unbeautiful) and belt (Draugr, Girdle of the Everlasting King Icon Draugr, Girdle of the Everlasting King), and/or the Infected Claws Icon Infected Claws talent will all result in more Festering Wound Icon Festering Wounds and more efficient use of resources. This talent also reduces your ramp-up time by allowing for more Festering Wounds to explode in a shorter period of time.

Unholy Frenzy Icon Unholy Frenzy is a strong choice for any encounter during which you will have a high uptime on a target. The closer to 95% uptime this talent gets, the more competitive it becomes. It can also assist with the Necrosis playstyle if you are having a hard time with properly managing Runic Power.

6. Tier 4 (Level 60) Talents

Sludge Belcher Sludge Belcher Asphyxiate ? Asphyxiate Debilitating Infestation Debilitating Infestation
  • Sludge Belcher Icon Sludge Belcher causes Raise Dead Icon Raise Dead to now summon an abomination instead of a ghoul. The Abomination has similar abilities to the ghoul, with the notable difference being that its Hook Icon Hook, which it can use to pull a target to it and immobilise it for 2 seconds (the latter part only during Dark Transformation Icon Dark Transformation).
  • Asphyxiate Icon Asphyxiate is a single-target, 5-second stun with a 45-second cooldown.
  • Debilitating Infestation Icon Debilitating Infestation causes Outbreak Icon Outbreak to reduce the movement speed of affected targets by 50% for 3 seconds.

None of the talents in this tier improve your DPS, but they still have a lot of potential usefulness. We recommend taking Sludge Belcher Icon Sludge Belcher as a default talent, as this provides you with good utility (in the Hook Icon Hook) and increases the damage reduction of your pet.

Alternatively, Asphyxiate Icon Asphyxiate could have some uses in dungeons, especially in Mythic dungeons.

Debilitating Infestation Icon Debilitating Infestation is generally regarded as sub-optimal, and there are many other classes who can slow targets more efficiently.

7. Tier 5 (Level 75) Talents

Spell Eater ? Spell Eater Corpse Shield ? Corpse Shield Lingering Apparition ? Lingering Apparition
  • Spell Eater Icon Spell Eater increases the absorption capacity of Anti-Magic Shell Icon Anti-Magic Shell by 20%, and extends its duration by 5 seconds.
  • Corpse Shield Icon Corpse Shield is an active ability with a 1-minute cooldown and 10-second duration. During this time, 90% of all damage you take is redirected to your ghoul. If the ghoul dies while Corpse Shield is active, then you cannot resummon it for 30 seconds.
  • Lingering Apparition Icon Lingering Apparition increases your movement speed during Wraith Walk Icon Wraith Walk by 30%, and reduces the cooldown of Wraith Walk by 15 seconds.

The talents in this tier do not increase your DPS either, but they can provide you with great benefits during raid encounters. They are quite situational, so you will have to choose based on the requirements of the fight.

Spell Eater Icon Spell Eater is the preferred choice in fights with large amounts of magic damage, allowing you to survive if you make a mistake, to soak the damage of certain abilities, or to avoid certain mechanics altogether. This talent works very well with the Acherus Drapes Icon Acherus Drapes legendary, which further extends its duration.

Corpse Shield Icon Corpse Shield could be used to help you survive mechanics that should otherwise kill you, and can generally provide a good damage reduction (provided that you pair it with the Ghoul's Huddle Icon Huddle, or with the Sludge Belcher's Protective Bile Icon Protective Bile, if you have taken this tier 4 talent). It is an extremely strong defensive cooldown. We recommend this talent for fights without significant magic damage.

Finally, Lingering Apparition Icon Lingering Apparition increases your mobility, which is always a good benefit to have.

8. Tier 6 (Level 90) Talents

Shadow Infusion Shadow Infusion Necrosis ? Necrosis Infected Claws Infected Claws

Infected Claws Icon Infected Claws is the default choice in this tier, as it creates "free" Festering Wound Icon Festering Wounds on your target as long as your pet is attacking. For wound-focused builds, this option is likely best, and it can gain added benefit in AoE situations when combined with the Sludge Belcher Icon Sludge Belcher talent. The Sludge Belcher spreads a gas around itself that causes all enemies it hits to have a chance to gain Festering Wounds from Infected Claws. This can make it the ideal choice for AoE encounters.

Necrosis Icon Necrosis dramatically alters the flow of Unholy rotations by requiring you to weave a Death Coil Icon Death Coil in between each pair of Scourge Strike Icon Scourge Strikes. The damage gained from this ability can be significant, particularly if you are using a Mastery build or have the legendary belt (Draugr, Girdle of the Everlasting King Icon Draugr, Girdle of the Everlasting King), as this increases the number of Scourge Strikes performed in an encounter overall. The key to using this talent is to try and get every Scourge Strike to have the Necrosis buff, with no exceptions. This can be challenging in a hectic boss fight or during lots of target swaps, so it may prove to be inferior to the alternatives if you are unable to play it correctly.

Shadow Infusion Icon Shadow Infusion benefits most from encounters where the player is away from the boss for long periods of time, but pet uptime remains high. Ensuring that the downtime of Dark Transformation Icon Dark Transformations is minimised by pooling resources as Dark Transformation ends will be important. If you are a player who prefers minimal micromanagement, you will probably get more use out of Infected Claws Icon Infected Claws unless the fight somehow benefits Shadow Infusion in particular.

9. Tier 7 (Level 100) Talents

Dark Arbiter ? Dark Arbiter Defile Defile Soul Reaper Soul Reaper
  • Dark Arbiter Icon Dark Arbiter replaces Summon Gargoyle Icon Summon Gargoyle. Instead of a Gargoyle, the ability summons a Val'kyr to fight by your side for 15 seconds. For every 1 Runic Power you spend, the Val'kyr will gain 1% increased damage. This ability has a 2-minute cooldown.
  • Defile Icon Defile replaces Death and Decay Icon Death and Decay. With every tick, the Defile area of effect will increase if there are any enemies standing in it. Moreover, each time this happens, your Mastery is increased by 300, stacking up to 10 times. Finally, your Scourge Strike Icon Scourge Strike gains a cleaving effect while you are in your own Defile.
  • Soul Reaper Icon Soul Reaper is an active ability with a 45-second cooldown. It deals Shadow damage to the target, and debuffs them with Soul Reaper for 5 seconds. During this time, bursting a Festering Wound Icon Festering Wound on them grants you 7% Haste for 15 seconds, an effect which can stack up to 3 times.

The talent choice in this tier depends mostly on your playstyle choice (Mastery-heavy, in which case you should choose Dark Arbiter Icon Dark Arbiter, or Critical Strike-heavy, in which case you should choose Soul Reaper Icon Soul Reaper).

Dark Arbiter Icon Dark Arbiter requires preparation in order to maximise its damage. As the ability approaches its cooldown, you will want to pool as much Runic Power as possible and hold Sudden Doom Icon Sudden Doom procs so that Dark Arbiter gains as much damage as possible. With this ability having a lower cooldown than the Summon Gargoyle Icon Summon Gargoyle it replaces, it is likely to win out over other talents if the fight length is favorable (meaning, if you can fit in an extra Dark Arbiter in the fight length over the number of Summon Gargoyle casts you would have been able to get). Dark Arbiter also benefits heavily from high levels of Mastery. This talent also conflicts with Shadow Infusion Icon Shadow Infusion or Necrosis Icon Necrosis, since all of them are Runic Power-intensive. If you are using Dark Arbiter, proper execution while it is active is very important.

Soul Reaper Icon Soul Reaper represents a bread-and-butter of the Unholy rotation. The Haste increase can be useful both for single target damage as well as for add phases. If you are unsure that you can utilise the other two talents in this tier to their full potential, then Soul Reaper is your recommended choice.

Defile Icon Defile is most likely viable in encounters where there are frequent waves of minions that will be close enough together to be within Defile's radius. Taking this talent is going to be situational; it benefits from high levels of Mastery, and the legendary helm (Death March Icon Death March) can dramatically increase its uptime. That said, this talent is most likely to be useful in Mythic+ dungeons, if the other two talents do not work with your current party composition, but we cannot really recommend it in raids over either of the other two talents in this tier.

10. ChangeLog

  • 17 Jan. 2017: Made slight updates to some talent evaluations and added a Critical Strike talent path at the start of the page.
  • 10 Jan. 2017: Updated talent descriptions to account for Patch 7.1.5 changes, and re-wrote all talent discussions.
  • 12 Dec. 2016: Updated most talent sections to account for the fact that, generally, one talent per each tier is now considered the best choice in all situations.
  • 16 Oct. 2016: Updated certain aspects of the guide, particularly the All Will Serve and Unholy Frenzy talent discussions.
  • 29 Aug. 2016: Updated for Legion's launch.
  • 03 Aug. 2016: Updated tier 3 talent discussion to account for the nerf to Clawing Shadows.
  • 21 Jul. 2016: Updated tier 1, 2, 6, and 7 discussions to account for encounters that last less than 1 minute, which can happen during the pre-patch.
  • 18 Jul. 2016: Updated for the Legion pre-patch.
Force desktop version
Force mobile version