Unholy Death Knight Best Covenants, Soulbinds, and Conduits — Shadowlands 9.1
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 Sanctum of Domination. This page's recommendations are subject to change, so make sure to keep yourself updated.
Necrolord with Bonesmith Heirmir is the best option for Raiding. It simply brings superior damage output compared to all other choices. For Mythic+, Venthyr with Theotar the Mad Duke provides the best throughput. The low cooldown of Swarming Mist and the great synergy with Epidemic makes it ideal.
Necrolord Covenant for Unholy Death Knight
Currently, Necrolord/Bonesmith Heirmir is the best option for Unholy, while Venthyr/Nadjia the Mistblade is a competitive 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 (BiS everywhere), Convocation of the Dead (second choice single-target), Embrace Death (third choice single-target), Adaptive Armor Fragment (second choice for AoE), Brutal Grasp/ Proliferation/ Impenetrable Gloom/ Withering Ground (third choice AoE)
- Best Finesse Conduits: Spirit Drain (offensive option), Fleeting Wind (movement option), Chilled Resilience (defensive option).
- Best Endurance Conduits: Reinforced Shell (raid cooldown), 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 it comes to your second and third Potency Conduits, it depends on the content you are running. Pick up Convocation of the Dead for single-target or Adaptive Armor Fragment for AoE. Finally, the third Potency Conduit becomes Embrace Death for single-target or Brutal Grasp/ Proliferation/ Impenetrable Gloom/ Withering Ground for AoE.
Best Endurance Conduits for Unholy Death Knight
Reinforced Shell is a powerful option for group content. It increases the benefits of Anti-Magic Zone by making it last longer and cover a larger area. This does not always increase its power due to the absorption cap, but it is still nice. Hardened Bones is the best personal defensive option. Condensed Anima Sphere is the second-best personal option, providing nice passive healing.
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 the highest single-target DPS as well as competitive AoE DPS. This Covenant is currently the best all-around option.
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. Venthyr is generally considered the better Mythic+ covenant.
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, but still falls short compared to other Covenants.
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 Sanctum of Domination.
- Pelagos is the best choice for single-target by a good margin, thanks to Combat Meditation, Better Together, and Newfound Resolve, 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 does offer multiple Soulbind traits that increase damage throughput, mainly focused on critical strikes. She is definitely a viable option!
- Forgelite Prime Mikanikos can be a strong option, especially since he scales with our Mastery.
- Emeni does provide a nice buff to your teammates, but does not provide enough personal throughput to be the best pick.
- Bonesmith Heirmir is the best option in all content. It provides the most personal DPS everywhere.
- Plague Deviser Marileth is an interesting pick. At Renown 60, he is viable single-target option due to the damage from Kevin's Oozeling
- Theotar the Mad Duke has a great proc but suffers from heavy movement.
- Nadjia the Mistblade is a very consistent option that will generally perform better than 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.
- 29 Jun. 2021: Guide reviewed and updated for Patch 9.1.
- 10 May 2021: Updated to recommend Heirmir for Necrolord and Venthyr for Mythic+.
- 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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