× Premium Announcement Image

Premium Subscription Reminder!

We just wanted to remind you that we have a premium membership system in place to help support the site for a small monthly/yearly amount! The main perks are no ads and no tracking.

Premium Button

For more information, please read our Premium FAQ.

This announcement is displayed once a month for non-premium users.

Warning It appears that you may be blocking the ads, and we are fine with it (read more here). That said, it would really be awesome if you decided to whitelist our website or make a donation :) You can also send us Bitcoins (1DEkropiHPWBmfJxogFaXQscfzhmdpTti4)!

Unholy Death Knight PvP Guide (Legion 7.3)

Last updated on Sep 20, 2017 at 13:19 by Mysticall 7 comments

Table of Contents

Introduction

This guide will walk you through everything you need to know to play an Unholy Death Knight in a PvP environment. The guide will cover everything from talent choices, artifacts, gameplay and rotation, and useful racial bonuses. It is most applicable to Arena content, but most talents and racial bonuses will work in Rated Battlegrounds and skirmishes.

About The Author

This guide has been written by Mysticall, a seasoned PvP player who has repeatedly achieved Arena Master and 2300 rating. You can watch his stream on Twitch, and you can also check out his YouTube channel.

1. Spec Overview / Place in the Current Meta

Unholy Death Knights are the most unique melee specialization in the game. Most of their damage comes from their pet. Not only that, but they have to keep track of two resources: Runic Power and Runes. Unlike other melee classes that have strong single- target damage, Unholy Death Knights have the ability to AoE down entire teams. To add to this, you also have to maintain buffs, diseases, your pet and Runic Power. Unholy Death Knights are one of the hardest melee classes to master, but are certainly worth learning.

2. Gear

With regards to gear, the biggest change in Legion is that there is no more PvP gear. Your strength in PvP will be determined based on the average item level of your gear (as displayed on your character sheet). For example, the base item level at level 110 is 800, so your stats in PvP will be adjusted accordingly. For every 10 item levels you gain, your stats are increased by 1%.

The implication is that it does not matter where your gear comes from, and all that matters is its item level. Gear from quests or PvE content is just as good as gear you get as a reward from PvP (which, in fact, will be very similar to PvE gear; there are no more PvP stats on gear).

Practically, you will simply look to collect gear with the highest item levels possible, and the stat distribution on the gear will not matter.

3. Artifact Traits

Below, we will explain what the recommended order for artifact traits is, if you wish to maximise your PvP potential. It is quite possible that your artifact path (at the time of reading this guide) differs from our suggestions. If this is the case, do not worry, and use the information below to help you understand your traits and guide your future choices.

If you have suddenly decided that you want to turn to PvP, the best thing to do in your artifact progression is continue to your closest Golden trait, and then follow the recommendations below. Picking up the most useful traits ( Icon Rotten Touch,  Icon Deadly Durability, and  Icon Gravitational Pull) along the way is a great way to boost your potential.

3.1. First Golden Trait

The first Golden trait you should go for is  Icon Scourge of Worlds.

  1. Take  Icon Feast of Souls.
  2. Take  Icon Eternal Agony.
  3. Take  Icon The Darkest Crusade.
  4. Take  Icon Scourge of Worlds.

3.2. Second Golden Trait

The second Golden trait to take is  Icon The Shambler.

  1. Take  Icon Scourge the Unbeliever.
  2. Take  Icon The Shambler.

3.3. Remaining Traits

After this, you should head for your last Golden Trait,  Icon Double Doom, picking up any remaining traits after that. Although there is no particular order to get the remaining traits, you should look to get  Icon Deadly Durability,  Icon Plaguebearer, and  Icon Rotten Touch. You should get  Icon Armies of the Damned last because Army of the Dead Icon Army of the Dead is not usable in PvP.

4. Relics

Relics are disabled in PvP, so they are not a concern to you.

5. Talent Choices

Regular talents work in both PvP and PvE content (although they may sometimes work differently in the two environments, which is indicated by their tooltips). In other words, they are always active.

On the other hand, Honor talents are inactive outside of a PvP environment.

5.1. Regular Talents

5.1.1. Tier 1 (Level 15) Talents

If the goal for your team is to have strong spread pressure, Ebon Fever Icon Ebon Fever is the best choice in this tier. This will increase your overall spread pressure greatly. However, if the goal for your team is single target pressure, Bursting Sores Icon Bursting Sores is the best choice in this tier.

5.1.2. Tier 2 (Level 30) Talents

Blighted Rune Weapon Icon Blighted Rune Weapon is the best choice in the tier. This allows you to easily generate Festering Wound Icon Festering Wounds on your target.

5.1.3. Tier 3 (Level 45) Talents

Clawing Shadows Icon Clawing Shadows is the best choice in this tier. This talent provides a good increase to your damage and helps with doing damage from range when an enemy is far away. If you are playing against against a team with no ranged targets, Unholy Frenzy Icon Unholy Frenzy is the best choice in this tier. This increases both your sustained and burst damage.

5.1.4. Tier 4 (Level 60) Talents

Asphyxiate Icon Asphyxiate is the best choice in this tier. Unholy Death Knights do not have any crowd control. This talent gives you a ranged stun that is useful for setting up crowd control on enemies.

5.1.5. Tier 5 (Level 75) Talents

If you are playing against a team with a melee DPS on it, Corpse Shield Icon Corpse Shield is the best choice in this tier. This is by far the strongest defensive you have as a Death Knight.

If you are playing against a team with two caster DPS on it, Spell Eater Icon Spell Eater is the best choice in this tier. This makes your Anti-Magic Shell Icon Anti-Magic Shell even more powerful. This talent is crucial for surviving against casters.

5.1.6. Tier 6 (Level 90) Talents

Infected Claws Icon Infected Claws is the best choice in this tier. This talent increases your sustained damage and lets you generate stacks of Festering Wound Icon Festering Wound faster.

5.1.7. Tier 7 (Level 100) Talents

Soul Reaper Icon Soul Reaper is the best choice in this tier. This ability is crucial for Unholy Death Knights. The Haste buff you gain when after using Soul Reaper Icon Soul Reaper is an overall increase to both sustained and burst damage.

5.2. Honor Talents

5.2.1. Tier 1 Talents

Gladiator's Medallion Icon Gladiator's Medallion is the best choice in this tier, which provides a standard PvP trinket effect.

5.2.2. Tier 2 Talents

If you are playing against a team with a caster on it, we recommend Reinforced Armor Icon Reinforced Armor in this tier.

If you are playing against a team with two melee on it, we recommend Sparring Icon Sparring. Both of these talents improve survivability, you just have to switch them based on the team you are playing against.

5.2.3. Tier 3 Talents

Anti-Magic Zone Icon Anti-Magic Zone is the best choice in this tier. This is an extra defensive against casters and even some melee classes. If you are playing against a team with very little spell damage, Dark Simulacrum Icon Dark Simulacrum could be better. Try to steal important crowd control like Cyclone Icon Cyclone, Fear Icon Fear or Polymorph Icon Polymorph.

5.2.4. Tier 4 Talents

If you are playing with a teammate that deals magical damage, Necrotic Aura Icon Necrotic Aura is the best choice in this tier. However, if you are playing with a melee, Decomposing Aura Icon Decomposing Aura is a better choice.

5.2.5. Tier 5 Talents

Crypt Fever Icon Crypt Fever is the best choice in this tier. This talent will make it even harder for the enemy healer to keep your target alive. This is an increase to your overall damage. It is important to maintain a Festering Wound Icon Festering Wound on as many enemies as possible.

5.2.6. Tier 6 Talents

Necrotic Strike Icon Necrotic Strike is the best choice in this tier. This will make it much harder for healers to keep your target alive. Well timed Necrotic Strike Icon Necrotic Strikes to negate incoming healing will help you secure kills much easier.

6. Racial Bonuses

Racial bonuses can provide interesting PvP benefits. Here are the best races to choose for each faction.

6.1. Horde

Orc is the best race for Unholy Death Knights, thanks to the passive Orcs have (Hardiness Icon Hardiness), reducing all stuns greatly improves survivability.

Alternatively, Blood Elf is also a good race. The passive you gain (Arcane Torrent Icon Arcane Torrent) is a great ability with how little crowd control Death Knights have. The additional silence helps you lock down casters much easier.

6.2. Alliance

The Human bonus (Every Man for Himself Icon Every Man for Himself) is a great way to escape stuns.

7. Playstyle

The Unholy Death Knight has one role when in an Arena: do unrelenting sustained damage. Unholy Death Knights lack crowd control with a very small amount of utility for teammates. Players should focus on maximizing their sustained damage as much as they can. Death Knights lack mobility, which is why when you get to the enemy you should deal as much damage as you can to them. With relatively short cooldowns, Unholy Death Knights have the ability to use their burst rotation and force cooldowns as soon as the Arena begins. They have great sustained damage and very short burst cooldowns.

7.1. Before Gates Open

Have a plan for who you will be mainly using your crowd control on. Although Unholy Death Knights lack crowd control, they still have Asphyxiate Icon Asphyxiate.

7.1.1. The Opener

The opener refers to your team's opening crowd control chain and damage done as soon as you get out of the gates. The main goal in the opener is to force your enemies to use their cooldowns.

If the enemy healer uses their trinket in the opener, they are in trouble. In the opener, Unholy Death Knights should focus on sticking to an enemy and dealing large amounts of damage to the target.

This is the rotation you should use on your target at the beginning of the game.

  1. If someone on the enemy team has Stealth, use Death and Decay Icon Death and Decay to try to get them out.
  2. Use Outbreak Icon Outbreak on the enemy team to apply and spread Virulent Plague Icon Virulent Plague.
  3. Use Blighted Rune Weapon Icon Blighted Rune Weapon on your main target to start applying Festering Wound Icon Festering Wounds.
  4. Use Festering Strike Icon Festering Strike.
  5. Use Scourge Strike Icon Scourge Strike or Clawing Shadows Icon Clawing Shadows.
  6. Use Festering Strike Icon Festering Strike.
  7. Use Scourge Strike Icon Scourge Strike or Clawing Shadows Icon Clawing Shadows.
  8. Use Death Coil Icon Death Coil to avoid capping Runic Power.
  9. Get crowd control on the enemy healer (you can use Asphyxiate Icon Asphyxiate or have a teammate do this).
  10. Use your burst rotation.

7.1.2. Burst Damage

When you have the enemy healer in crowd control and you are trying to kill an enemy, you use your burst damage.

Before you burst, you want to make sure you have at least three stacks of Festering Wound Icon Festering Wounds and some Runes available.

  1. Use Dark Transformation Icon Dark Transformation.
  2. Use Soul Reaper Icon Soul Reaper.
  3. Use  Icon Apocalypse. Use this when you have 5+ Festering Wound Icon Festering Wounds
  4. Use Summon Gargoyle Icon Summon Gargoyle.
  5. Use
    1. Use Clawing Shadows Icon Clawing Shadows or Scourge Strike Icon Scourge Strike if there are 3+ Festering Wound Icon Festering Wounds;
    2. Festering Strike Icon Festering Strike if there are fewer than 3 Festering Wound Icon Festering Wounds.
  6. Use Death Coil Icon Death Coil.
  7. If your target is low, you can do one of the following:

7.1.3. Sustained damage

Sustained damage is damage you do when your burst cooldowns are not available.

  1. Use Soul Reaper Icon Soul Reaper off cooldown.
  2. Use Outbreak Icon Outbreak to maintain Virulent Plague Icon Virulent Plague.
  3. Use Blighted Rune Weapon Icon Blighted Rune Weapon off cooldown.
  4. Use Festering Strike Icon Festering Strike to generate and refresh Festering Wound Icon Festering Wound.
  5. Use Clawing Shadows Icon Clawing Shadows or Scourge Strike Icon Scourge Strike to burst Festering Wound Icon Festering Wounds.
  6. Use Necrotic Strike Icon Necrotic Strike if you have extra Runes to use and want to prevent any incoming healing.
  7. Use Death Strike Icon Death Strike if you are about to cap on Runic Power and you are being attacked.
  8. Use Death Coil Icon Death Coil to avoid capping Runic Power and if your target is out of melee range.

7.2. Defensive Techniques

Anti-Magic Shell Icon Anti-Magic Shell is your primary defensive. This is very strong against caster classes. With a relatively short cooldown, use this if you are being focused and need to negate incoming spell damage.

Icebound Fortitude Icon Icebound Fortitude is another strong defensive. This will give you immunity to all stuns and reduce all damage on you. Use this when you are in a stun and being focused.

Corpse Shield Icon Corpse Shield has a relatively short cooldown, and you should use this when you are not in a stun and are being focused. It is important to coordinate this ability with your healer so that they can heal your pet while this is active. If you do not, it is likely that your pet will die almost instantly.

Wraith Walk Icon Wraith Walk, although not exactly a defensive ability, should be used when you need to get to an enemy or to avoid incoming crowd control.

8. ChangeLog

+ show all entries - show only 10 entries
  • 20 Sep. 2017: Performed several changes for Patch 7.3
    • Removed Artifact Trait descriptions.
    • Changed recommended tier 3 regular talents.
    • Changed recommended tier 5 honor talents.
    • Updated burst and sustained damage rotations.
  • 19 Jul. 2017: Changed recommended tier 1 and 3 regular and tier 4 honor talents. Also updated burst and sustained damage rotation.
  • 22 May 2017: Guide added.
Force desktop version
Force mobile version