Unholy Death Knight DPS Guide — Dragonflight 10.2

Last updated on Nov 29, 2023 at 17:50 by Bicepspump 69 comments
General Information

Welcome to our Unholy Death Knight guide for World of Warcraft — Dragonflight 10.2. Here, you will learn how to play as an Unholy Death Knight in both raids and Mythic+ dungeons: from the very beginning to maximizing your DPS.


Unholy Death Knight Overview

The Unholy specialization currently provides high single-target burst as well as good AoE scaling. We are also one of the tankiest classes in the game, something that is very useful in all PvE content!


Strengths and Weaknesses

V Strengths
  • +High single-target and AoE burst potential.
  • +Great add control with Death Grip Icon Death Grip.
  • +Knockback prevention with Death's Advance Icon Death's Advance.
  • +Anti-Magic Zone Icon Anti-Magic Zone as a magic damage raid cooldown.
  • +Effective at range.
  • +One of the tankiest specs.
X Weaknesses
  • -Limited mobility.
  • -Limited spread add cleave.
  • -Limited mythic+ utility.
  • -Low cleave DPS.

Unholy Death Knight and Guide Changes for Patch 10.2

The Unholy Death Knight received a number of tuning changes to move our damage profile away from the 3-minute burst window and into our core rotation as well as 45-second burst windows:
  • Unholy Assault Icon Unholy Assault now increases all damage dealt by 20% (was 20% Haste) for 20 seconds.
  • Raise Dead Icon Raise Dead (Main Ghoul) damage increased by 10%.
  • Summon Gargoyle Icon Summon Gargoyle damage reduced by 30%.
  • Soul Reaper Icon Soul Reaper damage increased by 20%.
  • Army of the Dead Icon Army of the Dead damage of ghouls reduced by 25%.
  • Ghouls summoned by Apocalypse Icon Apocalypse now have their own scaling from the Death Knight's stats, separate from Army of the Dead Icon Army of the Dead.
  • Apocalypse Icon Apocalypse Ghoul damage increased by 12%.
  • Death Coil Icon Death Coil damage increased by 12%.
  • Scourge Strike Icon Scourge Strike/ Clawing Shadows Icon Clawing Shadows damage increased by 12%.
  • Festering Strike Icon Festering Strike damage increased by 20%.
  • Festering Wound Icon Festering Wound damage increased by 10%.

Lots of changes here, all done with the same goal in mind: make us do less burst in our opener and 3-minute cooldown window and move that damage to our core rotation and other cooldown windows. This was done successfully, lowering our peak burst by around 15% but not changing our overall damage throughput.

Unholy Assault Icon Unholy Assault moving to 20% is a nice boost to our AoE, since Haste is not that valuable for us in AoE scenarios. Furthermore, it is also a buff in Single Target since a raw 20% damage boost generally is better than 20% Haste!

Decoupling Army of the Dead Icon Army of the Dead and Apocalypse Icon Apocalypse is a solid change that will make it significantly easier to tune our burst DPS vs constant DPS. Previously, any buff to our 45-second burst window via Apocalypse Icon Apocalypse would also buff our burst. Now, however, they can be tuned independently, like we see in these notes.

These changes do have an impact on the value of Power Infusion Icon Power Infusion for us, in addition to the buff itself being nerfed. Other specs with similar gains were also nerfed however, still making us one of the top targets for this buff.

The changes to the guide itself due to this update are primarily related to the new gear. Our builds and rotation are largely the same!

  1. Updated BiS gear.
  2. Minor rotation changes due to new Tier Set.

For a full breakdown of all Class Changes in Patch 10.2, check out our dedicated page below.


Mage Tower Challenge

From Patch 9.1.5 onward, both Legion Timewalking and the Mage Tower have returned. As such we have created a separate guide detailing what you can expect from the Mage Tower challenge available to Unholy Death Knights.


Significant Unholy Death Knight Changes in Dragonflight

The Unholy Death Knight saw some changes that affected how it plays. We generally have more resources, allowing for a smoother rotation with significantly less downtime overall. Furthermore, our AoE scaling has been buffed through the target cap increase on Cleaving Strikes Icon Cleaving Strikes as well as the new Vile Contagion Icon Vile Contagion talent. This made the classic Bursting Sores Icon Bursting Sores build more powerful in Mythic+.

We have also received a large number of new talents, both from the arsenals of Frost and Blood Death Knight, but also completely new ones. Some notable examples are Empower Rune Weapon Icon Empower Rune Weapon, Will of the Necropolis Icon Will of the Necropolis, Vile Contagion Icon Vile Contagion and Commander of the Dead Icon Commander of the Dead. Furthermore, Summon Gargoyle Icon Summon Gargoyle has received significant buffs and will be a staple part of many of our builds.

Overall, Unholy has retained its gameplay from Shadowlands with a smoother overall feeling and more rewarding cooldowns.


Leveling an Unholy Death Knight

If you want to level an Unholy Death Knight, you can check out our leveling guide for tips and tricks for your journey.

Once you reach max level, a great way to customize your game to fit the way you want to play, but also to help you play better, is with AddOns. We recommend using some of the basic AddOns that are on our Addons page below while you are leveling to not only get used to AddOns but also to help speed up your leveling. Since Unholy is a fairly complicated spec to play, it is heavily recommended that you use AddOns to clean up your screen and make your rotation easier.


Basics of Unholy Death Knight Gameplay

Unholy Death Knight is a spec that is all about managing your resources and maximizing your burst potential with correct cooldown management.

If you are new to Unholy Death Knight and would like to learn the basics of the class, I recommend looking at the Spell Summary, as well as the Easy Mode page that is linked below.

We also have a guide for the Unholy Death Knight talents and rotations below.


How to Gear Up as an Unholy Death Knight

Gear, enchants, consumables, and gems also play a big part in increasing your character's DPS. Linked below is a page to show you which enchants, consumables, and gems to use, as well as a stats page, where you can find more information on each stat and how they interact with your character.


Unholy Death Knight Viablity in Dragonflight

The Unholy Death Knight is 100% viable in Dragonflight. We have an incredible burst, making us useful in all situations of the game! We are also incredibly tanky, something great as you progress through hard content. Dying is the number one factor for not killing a boss.


Unholy Death Knight Tier Set in Dragonflight

  • 2-piece set bonus: Death Knight Unholy 10.2 Class Set 2pc Icon Death Knight Unholy 10.2 Class Set 2pc
  • 4-piece set bonus: Death Knight Unholy 10.2 Class Set 4pc Icon Death Knight Unholy 10.2 Class Set 4pc

The Unholy Death Knight Tier Set in Patch 10.2 revolves around our Magus of the Dead Icon Magus of the Dead talent! The 2-piece makes Apocalypse Icon Apocalypse summon an additional Magus of the Dead Icon Magus of the Dead (1 without the talent, 2 with the talent), and makes it cleave up to 4 enemies. Big improvement for you cleave DPS as we otherwise have little tools to deal good damage at 2-5 target.

The 4-set extends the duration of active Magus of the Dead Icon Magus of the Dead by 0.5 seconds for every Rune we spend. This makes the ability significantly more powerful, even keeping them up for as long as 45 seconds during opening burst scenarios with Bloodlust Icon Bloodlust active.

Compared to our Season 2 set, our new set deals the same damage on Single Target, more damage in Cleave and less damage in big AoE. You want to replace your old tier set once you obtain a full set of 4 pieces of the new one. Always sim yourself though as it might be worth to break the old set earlier depending on the ilvl of you pieces!


End-Game as an Unholy Death Knight

The end-game of an Unholy Death Knight is very exciting since your burst is incredibly high, and your AoE potential is also very high. Linked below are our Raiding, Mythic+ and PvP guides!


Improving as an Unholy Death Knight

If, after reading all these guides, you still find your performance lackluster, then check out the pages linked below for some tips and tricks that may answer any question you have. This is fairly common with Unholy Death Knight, as it is a very clunky spec.



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