Unholy Death Knight DPS Spec, Builds, Talents, and Glyphs (WoD 6.2.2)

Unholy Death Knight Art Image
General Information

On this page, we present the viable talent and glyph choices for Unholy Death Knights in World of Warcraft WoD 6.2.2. We detail what each of the talents and glyphs 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 Tegu, one of the best DPS Death Knights in the world, who raids in Serenity. You can follow him on Twitter, and you can find him on the #Acherus IRC channel on irc.coldfront.net.

1. Talent Choices↑top

Level Choices
56 Plaguebearer Plague Leech Unholy Blight
57 Lichborne Anti-Magic Zone Purgatory
58 Death's Advance Chilblains Asphyxiate
60 Blood Tap Runic Empowerment Runic Corruption
75 Death Pact Death Siphon Conversion
90 Gorefiend's Grasp Remorseless Winter Desecrated Ground
100 Necrotic Plague Defile Breath of Sindragosa
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  • Performance-enhancing
  • Survival
  • Crowd Control
  • Movement
  • Utility
  • Situational

Talents can easily be changed, thanks to Tome of the Clear Mind Icon Tomes of the Clear Mind. You will frequently find yourself changing talents and glyphs between encounters, in order to adapt your play style to different mechanics. Therefore, it is important to understand what each of your talents does and how they affect your play style.

2. Tier 1 (Level 56) Talents↑top

Tier 1 offers you a choice between 3 talents that interact with your diseases.

  • Plaguebearer Icon Plaguebearer passively causes your Death Coil Icon Death Coil to extend the duration of your diseases on the target by 4 seconds or to add a stack of Necrotic Plague Icon Necrotic Plague.
  • Plague Leech Icon Plague Leech is an active ability, with a 25-second cooldown, which consumes your diseases on the target, activating two depleted runes as Death runes. It can only be cast if both Frost Fever Icon Frost Fever and Blood Plague Icon Blood Plague are on the target, and it activates 1 Blood rune and 1 Frost rune.
  • Unholy Blight Icon Unholy Blight is an active ability with a 1.5-minute cooldown, which causes you to spread your diseases to all enemy targets within 10 yards of you, for 10 seconds.

We believe that Plague Leech Icon Plague Leech is the best choice in terms of single target DPS, when paired with either Breath of Sindragosa Icon Breath of Sindragosa or Defile Icon Defile. Against multiple targets, however, Unholy Blight Icon Unholy Blight (combined with Necrotic Plague Icon Necrotic Plague) yields higher DPS.

3. Tier 2 (Level 57) Talents↑top

Tier 2 talents offer you a choice between 3 abilities that improve your survivability (and, in the case of Anti-Magic Zone Icon Anti-Magic Zone, your raid's survivability as well).

  • Lichborne Icon Lichborne is an active ability with a 2-minute cooldown. It lasts for 10 seconds, during which time the effectiveness of Leech is increased by 10% and you are immune to Charm, Fear, and Sleep effects. During this time, casting Death Coil Icon Death Coil on yourself or another Undead ally causes healing instead of damage.
  • Anti-Magic Zone Icon Anti-Magic Zone is a raid cooldown. The ability has a 2-minute cooldown, and it allows you to place a bubble at a location on the ground. The bubble lasts for 3 seconds, and during this time it reduces all spell damage taken by raid members inside it by 20%.
  • Purgatory Icon Purgatory passively allows you to survive a killing blow, once every 3 minutes. The attack that would otherwise kill you places a 3-second healing absorption debuff on you instead. The debuff absorbs healing equal to the amount of damage that the killing blow would have done to you. While the debuff is active, you cannot be killed, and any damage taken is added to the healing absorption effect. If the effect is still present when the 3 seconds run out (meaning, if you have not been healed for the entire amount by then), you will die.

Purgatory Icon Purgatory can save your life, it can allow you to overcome mistakes from your own part or from your healers, and it can help you bypass otherwise deadly encounter mechanics. This should be the default choice in most encounters.

Anti-Magic Zone Icon Anti-Magic Zone should be taken if there is use for it in the fight (such as a powerful burst of damage that can be reduced by the zone), since it benefits your entire raid.

Lichborne Icon Lichborne increases your leech, providing you with extra healing. That said, despite its reliability, it is a small heal that will not often make a big difference. It is also worth noting that the Fear, Charm, and Sleep immunity that Lichborne offers may be of use in some encounters. You can also use Runic Power to heal yourself using Death Coil Icon Death Coil during this time.

4. Tier 3 (Level 58) Talents↑top

Tier 3 talents offer you a choice between abilities that improve your movement, kiting, and crowd-control.

  • Death's Advance Icon Death's Advance passively increases your movement speed by 10%, and actively (with a 30-second cooldown) grants you 30% movement speed increase for 6 seconds. The movement speed bonus offered by this ability stacks with other movement speed increases (such as the one from Unholy Presence Icon Unholy Presence).
  • Chilblains Icon Chilblains causes the targets on which you cast Frost Fever Icon Frost Fever to be slowed by 50% for 10 seconds. Additionally, it causes your Chains of Ice Icon Chains of Ice to immobilize the target for 3 seconds.
  • Asphyxiate Icon Asphyxiate is an improved version of Strangulate Icon Strangulate, which it replaces. It has a 30-second cooldown, and it stuns the target for 5 seconds. In the event that the target is immune to stuns, it silences them instead.

Death's Advance Icon Death's Advance is by far the best choice here, in the majority of situations. The other two talents could have some usefulness, although only situationally.

5. Tier 4 (Level 60) Talents↑top

Tier 4 talents offer you a choice between 3 means of improving your rune regeneration rate.

  • Blood Tap Icon Blood Tap passively causes every 15 Runic Power that you spend to generate a Blood Charge, and you can have up to a maximum of 12 charges. Using Blood Tap consumes 5 charges, activating a random fully depleted rune as a Death Rune. Blood Tap is not on the global cooldown, and it has no cooldown and no cost.
  • Runic Empowerment Icon Runic Empowerment acts passively whenever you spend Runic Power. For every point of Runic Power spent, you have a 1.50% chance to activate a random fully-depleted rune.
  • Runic Corruption Icon Runic Corruption acts passively whenever you spend Runic Power. For every point of Runic Power spent, you have a 1.50% chance to increase your rune regeneration rate by 100% for 3 seconds.

Blood Tap Icon Blood Tap is currently the best choice for Unholy. If you have having trouble managing Blood Tap optimally, you are better off using Runic Corruption Icon Runic Corruption. Macroing Blood Tap is not recommended, as it will often lead to you wasting your resources.

6. Tier 5 (Level 75) Talents↑top

Tier 5 talents offer you a choice between 3 self-healing abilities.

  • Death Pact Icon Death Pact instantly heals you for 50% of your maximum health, but also absorbing 25% of your maximum health in healing received over the next 15 seconds. It has a 2-minute cooldown.
  • Death Siphon Icon Death Siphon costs 1 Death Rune, and instantly deals a small amount of Shadowfrost damage to the target, healing you for 400% of the damage done. It can be used from as much as 40 yards away.
  • Conversion Icon Conversion is an ability that can be toggled on and off at will. Toggling it on costs 20 runic power, and keeping it on costs 20 runic power per second. For each second that it is active, Conversion restores 2% of your maximum health. While Conversion is active, you can only gain runic power from using runes. Note that having Conversion active does not prevent you from performing any actions (i.e., it is not a channeled spell). The spell is turned automatically off when you run out of Runic Power.

We believe that Death Pact Icon Death Pact is the best choice here, not only because of its nice amount of healing, but also because it has no resource cost, and, as such, does not detract from your DPS.

7. Tier 6 (Level 90) Talents↑top

Tier 6 talents offer you a choice between 3 crowd-control abilities.

  • Gorefiend's Grasp Icon Gorefiend's Grasp places a buff on an ally or enemy, which pulls all enemy targets (enemies of the Death Knight, not the target itself) within 20 yards to the location of the target. It has a 1-minute cooldown.
  • Remorseless Winter Icon Remorseless Winter causes all enemies within 8 yards of the Death Knight to be slowed each second for 8 seconds. Each time they are slowed, their movement speed is reduced by 15%. When they have been slowed 5 times, the targets become stunned for 6 seconds. Remorseless Winter has a 1-minute cooldown.
  • Desecrated Ground Icon Desecrated Ground places a friendly void-zone under you, lasting 10 seconds. While you stand in this void zone, you are immune to roots, snares, and effects that cause loss of control of your character.

The choice here is somewhat preference-based, but in most cases Gorefiend's Grasp Icon Gorefiend's Grasp is a clear winner, as being able to group up large number of adds for easy AoE damage is often invaluable to many strategies.

8. Tier 7 (Level 100) Talents↑top

Tier 7 offers you a choice between 3 talents that improve your DPS and tanking performance.

  • Necrotic Plague Icon Necrotic Plague is a DoT that replaces Frost Fever Icon Frost Fever and Blood Plague Icon Blood Plague, and which is applied by the same abilities that apply these two DoTs. Necrotic Plague lasts 30 seconds, and it deals Shadowfrost damage every 2 seconds. Each time it deals damage, it gains 1 stack, and infects another nearby enemy within 8 yards. Necrotic Plague cannot be refreshed, and any abilities that normally apply it will simply increase the number of stacks it has by 1. The maximum number of stacks is 15.
  • Defile Icon Defile is an improvement over Death and Decay Icon Death and Decay, which it replaces. It is active ability with a 30-second cooldown, which allows you to place a void zone at a targeted location. This lasts for for 12 seconds, and each second it deals damage to enemies standing in it. Whenever it deals damage, its radius and damage is increased by 2.5%. It costs 1 Unholy rune.
  • Breath of Sindragosa Icon Breath of Sindragosa is a frontal cone attack with a 2-minute cooldown. It costs 15 Runic Power for each second that it remains active (until canceled or until you run out of Runic Power). While active, Breath of Sindragosa deals Shadowfrost damage to all enemies in the cone in front of you.

The best choice of tier 7 talent depends greatly on the amount of Multistrike you have. If you have around 30% Multistrike, then Breath of Sindragosa Icon Breath of Sindragosa is the best choice in terms of single target DPS. In such a case, the Vial of Convulsive Shadows Icon Vial of Convulsive Shadows and Unending Hunger Icon Unending Hunger trinkets are the best pair. This set-up will not only provide you with a high amount of single target DPS, but also good cleaving damage.

Defile Icon Defile is viable alternative if you do not have the above-mentioned amount of Multistrike, and especially if you have the Empty Drinking Horn Icon Empty Drinking Horn trinket.

For AoE, we believe the best choice is Necrotic Plague Icon Necrotic Plague, when combined with Unholy Blight Icon Unholy Blight, especially once the Reaper's Harvest Icon Reaper's Harvest trinket is acquired, as Wandering Plague will deal a lot more damage with Necrotic Plague than it does with regular diseases. Defile and Breath of Sindragosa are viable alternatives, but not nearly as strong as the Necroblight playstyle.

9. Major Glyphs↑top

There are three Major Glyphs that are essentially mandatory for you as an Unholy Death Knight.

  • Glyph of Blood Boil Icon Glyph of Blood Boil increases the radius of Blood Boil Icon Blood Boil by 5 yards, allowing you to make more efficient use of it to spread your diseases in situations when the targets are slightly spread out. Whenever such situations arise, this glyph is extremely desirable.
  • Glyph of Raise Ally Icon Glyph of Raise Ally removes the runic power cost of Raise Ally Icon Raise Ally, allowing you to use it exactly when it is needed. This glyph proves to be extremely useful, and it should be taken in most situations.
  • Glyph of Regenerative Magic Icon Glyph of Regenerative Magic procs each time your Anti-Magic Shell Icon 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, and it should be taken in practically all situations.
  • Glyph of Shifting Presences Icon 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 Icon Unholy Presence and Blood Presence Icon 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.

10. Minor Glyphs↑top

There are three Minor Glyphs that may be of interest to you.

Glyph of Tranquil Grip Icon Glyph of Tranquil Grip causes your Death Grip Icon Death Grip to no longer taunt the target, making it ideal if you wish to pull an add to you (or away from the tank) and you do not wish to take aggro.

Glyph of Army of the Dead Icon Glyph of Army of the Dead causes your ghouls to no longer taunt their target. This glyph is useful because it gives you the option of having your target (an add, since bosses cannot be taunted by Army of the Dead anyway) continue attacking its tank, in case this is desirable.

Glyph of Path of Frost Icon Glyph of Path of Frost causes your Path of Frost Icon Path of Frost to reduce your fall damage.

11. Changelog↑top

  • 07 Sep. 2015: Updated tier 1, 6, and 7 talent discussions and updated the descriptions of Glyph of Blood Boil, Glyph of Raise Ally, and Glyph of Regenerative Magic. Added Glyph of Shifting Presence.
  • 14 Aug. 2015: Updated the Runic Power cost of Conversion.
  • 22 Jun. 2015: Updated the tier 1, 4, and 7 talent discussions.
  • 27 May 2015: Updated tier 1, 2, 4, and 7 talent discussions.
  • 23 Feb. 2015: Updated tier 2 and 7 talent descriptions to account for Patch 6.1 changes.
  • 10 Jan. 2015: Fixed an issue where self-healing from Death Coil during Lichborne was not mentioned in the talent description.
  • 07 Dec. 2014: Revamped the evaluations of several talents, and also revamped the Major Glyph section.