Unholy Death Knight Best Covenants, Soulbinds, and Conduits — Shadowlands 9.0.5
Covenants, Soulbinds, and Conduits are the most important character customization options in Shadowlands. They have a substantial impact on your toolkit and performance as Unholy Death Knight. This page's purpose is to help you pick the right options according to the content you intend to do in Shadowlands.
This page assumes that you are already familiar with Covenants, Soulbinds, and Conduits. If that is not the case, we have a number of pages that can help you get up to speed:
- Covenants Guide, which explains what Covenants are, what perks they bring, and how you can join one;
- Death Knight Covenant Abilities, which lists all the abilities that Death Knights gain by joining each Covenant;
- How To Change Covenant?, which tells you how you can switch Covenant (rejoining a former Covenant will require you to perform a number of tasks to regain their trusts);
- General Soulbind Guide, which explains what Soulbinds are and how you can pledge yourself to them to open up their Soulbind tree;
- Death Knight Conduits, which lists all of the Conduits available to Death Knights.
Summary of the Best Covenants, Soulbinds, and Conduits
The recommendations below are meant to maximize your performance for Mythic+ and Castle Nathria. This page's recommendations are subject to change, so make sure to keep yourself updated.
Currently, Necrolord with Emeni is the most balanced option for both Raiding and Mythic+. Emeni offers fantastic damage both single-target and AoE, buffs your groups damage when you use Abomination Limb, and has the bonus ability of gripping in mobs at range.
|Raiding||Necrolord||Emeni||Unholy Death Knight Emeni Raiding Tree|
|Mythic+||Necrolord||Emeni||Unholy Death Knight Emeni Mythic+ Tree|
|Torghast||Necrolord||Plague Deviser Marileth|
Necrolord Covenant for Unholy Death Knight
Currently, Necrolord/Emeni is the best option for Unholy, while Venthyr/Theotar the Mad Duke is a competitive option. With Soulbinds fully-unlocked, Bonesmith Heirmir becomes the best overall option. As of Patch 9.0.5, a Necrolord's Fleshcraft also offers a 20% damage taken reduction while channeling, giving you another defensive cooldown.
Make sure you remember that switching covenants is not free, switching covenants after you have already chosen one leaves you at the same level of progress with that covenant. In order to return to a Covenant you previously left it takes two quests with at least a full week in between the two quests.
Best Conduits for Unholy Death Knight
This section goes over which Conduits you should pick. For more detailed explanations on what all the Death Knight Conduits do, check out our Death Knight Soulbinds and Conduits page linked below.
This is a brief overview of the Conduits for each different category and the role that they play. This list is organized in order from strongest to weakest, however some Conduits gain value in certain scenarios.
- Best Potency Conduits: Eternal Hunger (All-Rounder), Brutal Grasp (AoE), Convocation of the Dead (Single-Target).
- Best Finesse Conduits: Spirit Drain (Offensive Option), Fleeting Wind (Movement Option), Chilled Resilience (Defensive Option)
- Best Endurance Conduits: Reinforced Shell (Raid CD), Hardened Bones (Strong Defensive)
Eternal Hunger is by far the best option currently for both single-target and AoE scenarios for Unholy Death Knights. When you unlock your second Potency Conduit slot, you should use either Convocation of the Dead or Brutal Grasp, depending on the content you are doing. When you hit Renown 31, Bonesmith Heirmir becomes an extremely competitive option when you use Heirmir's Arsenal: Marrowed Gemstone instead of a second Potency Conduit.
Best Endurance Conduits for Unholy Death Knight
Reinforced Shell is a very powerful option for group content. It increases the benefits of Anti-Magic Zone by making it last longer and cover a larger area, making it an even more powerful Raid Cooldown. Hardened Bones is the best personal defensive option.
Best Finesse Conduits for Unholy Death Knight
These Conduits are for utility and mobility purposes, meaning they do not directly impact your DPS, however if there is anything to interrupt, then Spirit Drain is a strong option, especially for Mythic+.
Covenants for Unholy Death Knight
Kyrian: Shackle the Unworthy
Kyrian is a strong pure single-target option, however it provides some of the weakest AoE DPS.
Necrolord: Abomination Limb
Necrolord is the best Covenant for Unholy Death Knights, providing competitive single-target DPS that is comparable to Kyrian, while also providing significantly more AoE DPS. This Covenant is currently the best all-round option for Mythic+ and Raid.
Venthyr: Swarming Mist
Venthyr Theotar is a very competitive option and you will usually see a few top players using that combination. This is due to Soothing Shade, which is a proc that provides a significant amount of Mastery.
Night Fae: Death's Due
Night Fae is currently the weakest option by a fairly significant margin. Niya is currently the strongest Soulbind option for Night Fae for Unholy Death Knight and becomes a slightly competitive option at Max tree.
Soulbinds for Unholy Death Knight
These Soulbinds are always subject to change, so we will aim to keep them updated to ensure you can have an accurate ranking of your options. This page is for maximizing your performance in the progression phase of Mythic Castle Nathria.
- Pelagos is the best choice for single-target by a slight margin, thanks to Combat Meditation and Let Go of the Past, however it offers very weak AoE damage compared to Venthyr and Necrolord Soulbinds. You will very rarely see this used in Raid and Mythic+.
- Kleia is one of the weakest Soulbinds in the game for Unholy Death Knight. At Max tree, it becomes a more viable option for primarily single-target, although this does not make it viable, so you are better off using Pelagos.
- Forgelite Prime Mikanikos is currently one of the weakest options for all Covenants, so you would be better off using Pelagos in the same Covenant.
- Emeni is currently the strongest Necrolord option and currently the strongest and most used soulbind.
- Bonesmith Heirmir is currently slightly behind Emeni for both single-target and AoE. When Renown 31 is unlocked, Bonesmith Heirmir becomes the best soulbind.
- Plague Deviser Marileth is the weakest Necrolord option and should not be taken when the other two are available. Even when you have the option to take 2 Potency Conduits for Plague Deviser and only 1 for Emeni, you are still better off using the Emeni soulbind.
- Theotar the Mad Duke is slightly ahead of the other Venthyr options. Theotar offers a large Mastery stat proc which is also usually an Unholy Death Knight's best stat.
- Nadjia the Mistblade is a very consistent option that is competitive with Theotar.
- General Draven is simply a weaker choice than the other two options, so you will rarely ever see it used in Mythic+ or Raid content.
Night Fae Soulbinds
- Korayn is one of the weakest soulbinds in the game for Unholy Death Knights and is slightly behind Niya.
- Niya is the best Night Fae soulbind for Unholy Death Knights, being slightly ahead of the other 2 options for both single-target and AoE.
- Dreamweaver is one of the weakest option out of all Covenant trees.
- 09 Mar. 2021: Updated to include a note about the new 20% damage reduction from Fleshcraft.
- 19 Jan. 2021: Guide reviewed and completely updated.
- 22 Nov. 2020: Added a section on Renown.
- 20 Nov. 2020: Page added.
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