Unholy Death Knight DPS Easy Mode — Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.3
On this page, we explain how to easily play Unholy Death Knight in World of Warcraft — Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.3, using the simplest rotation, talent tree, stat priority, gear setup, etc., without sacrificing performance.
This page is intended for players who are new to the game or class, have no intentions of raiding Mythic difficulty, or simply want a more straightforward way to play their specialisation without being overwhelmed by the numerous subtleties and active abilities that need to be taken into consideration for optimal play.
The Basics of Unholy Death Knights
Unholy Death Knights is a melee DPS specialisation that provides strong single target and AoE DPS. Its playstyle is somewhat complex, however, and Frost is an easier specialisation to pick up.
Your main goal throughout fight is managing the Festering Wound debuff (ensuring not to over-cap it) and then consuming these stacks with Scourge Strike, while also making sure to use Death Coil to not overcap on Runic Power.
Talent Choice for Unholy Death Knights
The following talent choices are effectively best in all situations.
- Level 56: Clawing Shadows
- Level 57: Ebon Fever
- Level 58: Asphyxiate
- Level 60: Pestilent Pustules/ Soul Reaper (if you want a more active playstyle however this talent is usually better anyway)
- Level 75: Spell Eater (against magic damage) / Wraith Walk (mobility) / Death Pact (emergency heal)
- Level 90: Pestilence (single target) / Epidemic (AoE/cleave)
- Level 100: Unholy Frenzy/ Army of the Damned (if you want a more passive playstyle)
Stat Choice for Unholy Death Knights
Currently, you will want to prioritise stats as follows.
- Critical Strike = Versatility;
When simming your character you will usually find Strength simming as your highest stat, With the item level squish of the Battle for Azeroth pre-patch, Strength/item level is more valuable than it was in Legion, making your higher item level pieces of gear usually your best choices.
Essence Choices for Unholy Death Knights
We recommend using either The Crucible of Flame ( Concentrated Flame), Essence of the Focusing Iris ( Focused Azerite Beam), or Breath of the Dying ( Reaping Flames) as your Major essence. You can unlock The Crucible of Flame by starting the Patch 8.2 questline and further upgrade it by gaining Heart of Azeroth levels. You simply use this ability on cooldown. You can unlock Essence of the Focusing Iris by completing a level 4 Mythic+ keystone and unlock Rank 2 by completing a level 7 Mythic+ keystone. In order to get Rank 3, you need to collect 15 Focus Life Anima from your weekly Mythic+ cache. You can unlock Breath of the Dying from the Uldum Accord.
In the Minor slots that you unlock later on, you can use Worldvein Resonance, which is unlocked by doing Island Expeditions, and Memory of Lucid Dreams, which is unlocked from reaching Rank 3 on your Nazjatar follower.
Basic Rotation for Unholy Death Knights
The rotation currently assumes that you are using Unholy Frenzy as your tier 7 talent.
Unholy Frenzy should be used when you are low on Festering Wounds and low on Runic Power. While Unholy Frenzy is active your rotation priority stays the same. You should follow a priority system to optimise the damage of this talent.
- Cast Outbreak to apply Virulent Plague on the target.
- Cast Army of the Dead 2 seconds before the pull and whenever it comes off cooldown during the fight after that.
- Cast Soul Reaper when you have less than 2 full Runes available.
- Cast Dark Transformation off cooldown.
- Use Apocalypse when there are 4 or more Festering Wounds on the target.
- Use Festering Strike to apply Festering Wounds on the target. The optimal times to do this are when the target has 0 Festering Wounds.
- Use Scourge Strike when there are at least 1 Festering Wounds on the target.
Multi-Target Rotation for Unholy Death Knight
- Use Outbreak to apply Virulent Plague on all targets.
- Use Epidemic with at least 30 Runic Power.
- Use Death and Decay.
- Use Scourge Strike (while standing in Death and Decay, so Scourge Strike will hit all nearby targets; if using the Bursting Sores talent, make sure the target you are using Scourge Strike on has Festering Wounds for extra cleave.
- Use Festering Strike with 0 Festering Wounds on the target.
- Use Scourge Strike with at least 1 Festering Wound on the target.
For multi-target on packs that will last fairly long, you may have the option to use Festering Strike once on a few of the targets before using Death and Decay and Scourge Strike with Bursting Sores, since you will then have more wounds to pop on the targets. You will have to decide when it is worth to do this based on the number of enemies you are facing.
Cooldowns for Unholy Death Knights
Unholy Death Knights have 2 DPS cooldowns. They should be used as follows.
- Army of the Dead should normally be channeled before the pull, but it can also be channeled during the fight if you need high burst damage.
- Apocalypse should be used when you have 4 stacks of Festering Wounds.
Azerite Traits play an important role for Unholy Death Knight. This means you need to decide which Azerite items you should choose. The traits are very close to each other in power, though, so we recommend our Azerite trait page for more details.
- 14 Jan. 2020: Updated for Patch 8.3.
- 18 Jul. 2019: Added a section for Essences.
- 24 Jun. 2019: Updated page for Patch 8.2.
- 16 Apr. 2019: This page has been reviewed and no changes are necessary for the release of the Crucible of Storms raid.
- 10 Dec. 2018: This page has been reviewed for Patch 8.1 and no changes are necessary.
- 12 Aug. 2018: Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
- 21 Jul. 2018: Updated the recommended talents and rotation priority.
- Hunter Stable Size Increased to 205 Slots in Shadowlands
- Shadowlands Alpha 9.0.1 Build 34972: Class Changes
- Tyrannical Affix No Longer Affects Boss Mobs in Shadowlands
- Priest Legendary Powers in Shadowlands
- Shaman Legendary Powers in Shadowlands
- Changes to Combat Potions on the Shadowlands Alpha
- Demon Hunter Shadowlands Major Class Changes: July 1st
- An Update on Pelagos' Pronouns on the Shadowlands Alpha