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Unholy Death Knight DPS Easy Mode

Last updated on Sep 16, 2017 at 07:52 by Vlad 453 comments

Table of Contents

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.

1. The Basics

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 Icon Festering Wound debuff (ensuring not to over-cap it) and then consuming these stacks with Scourge Strike Icon Scourge Strike.

2. Talent Choice

The following talent choices are effectively best in all situations.

3. Stat Choice

Currently, you will want to prioritise secondary stats as follows.

  1. Mastery;
  2. Haste;
  3. Critical Strike = Versatility.

4. Basic Rotation

The rotation currently assumes that you are using Dark Arbiter Icon Dark Arbiter as your tier 7 talent. As such, things are slightly complex.

Dark Arbiter Icon Dark Arbiter requires preparation to use correctly. Before you activate it, you should have saved up 100 Runic Power (or very close to it), as well as 3 Runes. While Dark Arbiter is active, you should follow a priority system to optimise the damage of this talent.

If you are going to use Dark Arbiter on the pull (which you should do), you should follow these steps. At other points in the fight, simply start pooling resources for Dark Arbiter 10-15 seconds before it becomes available (and obviously exclude the pre-pull steps).

  1. Use Army of the Dead Icon Army of the Dead 6 seconds before the pull.
  2. Use a Strength potion slightly before the pull.
  3. If you are using Ebon Fever Icon Ebon Fever, make sure to apply/refresh Virulent Plague Icon Virulent Plague before casting Dark Arbiter Icon Dark Arbiter, otherwise it will drop during its duration.
  4. Use Festering Strike Icon Festering Strike (until you are about to reach maximum Runic Power).
  5. Use  Icon Apocalypse to burst your Festering Wound Icon Festering Wound stacks when you are at 6 stacks.
  6. Use Dark Arbiter Icon Dark Arbiter.
  7. Use your racial ability (if it boosts damage) and any on-use trinkets.
  8. Cast as many Death Coil Icon Death Coils as you can.
  9. Use Arcane Torrent Icon Arcane Torrent (if you are a Blood Elf).
  10. Use Scourge Strike Icon Scourge Strike to consume Festering Wound Icon Festering Wounds if  Icon Apocalypse is on cooldown, and use up Runes.
    • This consumes 1 stack of Festering Wound Icon Festering Wound, so only use it if the target has at least 1 stack.
  11. Use Anti-Magic Shell Icon Anti-Magic Shell to absorb damage and generate Runic Power to allow for more Death Coils, if possible.
  12. Use Death and Decay Icon Death and Decay combined with Scourge Strike Icon Scourge Strike as many times as possible, while casting Death Coil Icon Death Coil during AoE.

Once Dark Arbiter ends, you should simply return to your regular rotation.

Regarding Dark Transformation Icon Dark Transformation, if you are using the Tak'theritrix's Shoulderpads Icon Tak'theritrix's Shoulderpads legendary shoulders, Convergence of Fates Icon Convergence of Fates, and Shadow Infusion Icon Shadow Infusion, then you should use Dark Transformation only after  Icon Apocalypse and Dark Arbiter Icon Dark Arbiter have been used, so that all pets are buffed by it. Once you have used it, you can use it freely while Dark Arbiter is on cooldown, but just make sure to save it in preparation for your next Dark Arbiter cast.

If you are not using Convergence of Fates Icon Convergence of Fates (and therefore not Shadow Infusion Icon Shadow Infusion either), but are still using Tak'theritrix's Shoulderpads Icon Tak'theritrix's Shoulderpads, you should just use Dark Transformation Icon Dark Transformation after Dark Arbiter Icon Dark Arbiter, but you can use  Icon Apocalypse freely, as it is not worth trying to tie its timing to that of Dark Arbiter.

5. Cooldowns

Unholy Death Knights have 2 DPS cooldowns as well as  Icon Apocalypse, the Artifact ability. They should be used as follows.

  • Summon Gargoyle Icon Summon Gargoyle should be generally be used whenever it is available, but you can save it for a period when you need to do extra damage. The gargoyle scales with spell haste, and using it together with Heroism Icon Heroism/Bloodlust Icon Bloodlust/Time Warp Icon Time Warp allows the gargoyle to get a few extra casts off, increasing its damage slightly.
  • Army of the Dead Icon 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.
  •  Icon Apocalypse should be used when you have 6 stacks of Festering Wound Icon Festering Wounds.

About Our Reviewer

This guide has been reviewed and approved by JaceDK, long-time Death Knight theorycrafter and moderator on the Death Knight Discord. You can also catch him on his stream or on his YouTube channel. He also raids in WHATEVER WERE AWESOME, a top guild.

6. ChangeLog

+ show all entries - show only 10 entries
  • 16 Sep. 2017: Clarified the part discussing summoning pets before using Dark Transformation.
  • 31 Aug. 2017: Yet again removed a mention that implied Clawing Shadows is a recommended talent.
  • 28 Aug. 2017: Updated the page to account for changes made to the rest of the guide (talents, rotation).
  • 26 Aug. 2017: Removed yet another mention that implied Clawing Shadows is a recommended talent.
  • 14 Aug. 2017: Removed a mention that implied Clawing Shadows is a recommended talent.
  • 25 Jul. 2017: Updated the talents and rotation to align with changes made to the rest of the guide.
  • 12 Jun. 2017: Page reviewed and deemed updated for 7.2.5.
  • 11 Mar. 2017: Updated tier 1 talent recommendation.
  • 17 Jan. 2017: Made a few updates to the page so that it accurately reflects the guide.
  • 10 Jan. 2017: Updated for Patch 7.1.5.
  • 16 Dec. 2016: Fixed an error referring to tier 7 talents being available at level 110, instead of 100.
  • 13 Dec. 2016: Added easy mode page.
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