Unholy Death Knight DPS Easy Mode — Shadowlands 9.0.2
On this page, we explain how to easily play Unholy Death Knight in World of Warcraft — Shadowlands 9.0.2, 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 specialization 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
For those who are new to Unholy Death Knight and are not sure what each ability does or how they interact with the Unholy toolkit, we recommend checking out our Spell Summary guide linked below.
Unholy Death Knight is a melee DPS specialization that provides strong single-target and AoE DPS. Its playstyle is somewhat complex, however it is incredibly rewarding to master.
Your main goal throughout a 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.
Covenant Choice for Unholy Death Knight
Covenant choices are a very important part of Shadowlands. With how important this choice is you want to make sure you choose what is best for the content you are focusing on. We recommend Necrolord for Mythic 0 and Mythic+ content, as it provides the most well-rounded single-target and AoE damage.
Soulbinds are also an important system within your Covenants. We recommend picking Emeni since it offers competitive single-target DPS that is within 1% of the other top single-target options but also provides the highest AoE DPS by over 5%. Here is our recommended Soulbind path. For Finesse and Endurance Conduits you may pick whichever ones fit the content that you plan on doing. The above path does feature the recommended Potency Conduits for both Mythic+ and raid, however.
For more information, please refer to our Covenant, Soulbinds, and Conduits page:
Conduit Choice for Unholy Death Knight
Best Potency Conduits for Unholy Death Knight
- Eternal Hunger is over 1% better than any other option for single-target and over 2% better for AoE. This makes it the best all around option as a conduit choice.
- Convocation of the Dead is the second best option for single-target however it provides no AoE damage.
- Brutal Grasp (Necrolord) is only a small DPS increase for single-target with the second-best AoE making it a well balanced alternative to Convocation of the Dead.
Best Endurance Conduits for Unholy Death Knight
- Reinforced Shell is the best conduit for any type of group content. it increases the value of your Anti-Magic Zone significantly which is very helpful in Raid and any Mythic+ content with magic damage.
- Hardened Bones is the best content for any type of solo content such as world questing and Torghast. It is also very powerful for Raid and Mythic+ although it's utility is below that of Reinforced Shell.
Talent Choice for Unholy Death Knights
The following talent choices are effectively best in all situations.
- Level 15: All Will Serve
- Level 25: Unholy Blight
- Level 30: Asphyxiate
- Level 35: Soul Reaper
- Level 40: Spell Eater (against magic damage), Wraith Walk (for mobility), or Death Pact (for an emergency heal)
- Level 45: Unholy Pact
- Level 50: Army of the Damned
These are the easiest talents to use when factoring in gear and rotation, but if you want to use the absolute best talents for Unholy Death Knight, then we have a more in-depth page linked below.
Stat Choice for Unholy Death Knights
Currently, you will want to prioritise stats as follows.
- Critical Strike;
This can be different depending on your character's gear, so make sure you sim yourself, in order to find what your personal stat priority is.
Basic Rotation for Unholy Death Knights
The rotation currently assumes that you are using Army of the Damned as your tier 7 talent.
- Cast Outbreak or Unholy Blight 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 Dark Transformation off cooldown.
- Use Apocalypse when there are 4 or more Festering Wounds on the target.
- Use Death Coil when you have 80+ Runic Power or a Sudden Doom proc.
- 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 or Unholy Blight to apply Virulent Plague on all targets.
- Use Epidemic with at least 80+ Runic Power or a Sudden Doom proc.
- 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 Epidemic.
- Use Scourge Strike with at least 1 Festering Wound on the target.
- Use Festering Strike with 0 Festering Wounds 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.
For a more in-depth rotation, please consider checking out our rotation page linked below.
Cooldowns for Unholy Death Knights
Unholy Death Knights have 3 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.
- Dark Transformation should be used off cooldown and as an opener on packs of multiple mobs.
- 23 Nov. 2020: Page updated for Shadowlands release, updated talents, stats, removed BfA-specific sections
- 10 Nov. 2020: Updated stat recommendations.
- 12 Oct. 2020: Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
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