Unholy Death Knight Guide for The War Within

Last updated on Jun 18, 2024 at 21:00 by Bicepspump 69 comments

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on the Unholy Death Knight changes in World of Warcraft's latest expansion, "The War Within." This page is designed to help you navigate the new changes, optimize your gameplay, and get the most out of your Unholy Death Knight in PvE environments.

In this guide, you'll find detailed breakdowns of the new Hero Talent Trees for Unholy Death Knight. We'll explore the most significant updates, and offer insights into how these changes will impact your overall playstyle. Whether you're a veteran Unholy Death Knight or new to the class, our goal is to equip you with the knowledge and tools needed to excel in "The War Within."

1.

Unholy Death Knight: The War Within Expansion Preview

Welcome to our War Within expansion guide for Unholy Death Knight. Ahead of launch, this page will contain everything you need to know about the Unholy Death Knight spec in the forthcoming The War Within expansion, including changes, Hero Talent Trees, and some light predictions on the state of the spec going into the expansion.

This page is a constantly evolving work in progress, with regular changes expected as updates hit the War Within Beta. This is not meant to be a launch guide for Unholy Death Knight, but instead serves as a resource for you to keep up to date with how the spec is evolving on Beta, and what you can expect from its playstyle and feel on launch.

2.

The War Within Changes for Unholy Death Knight

2.1.

Core Changes

Unholy Death Knight has received a number of changes in The War Within so far, primarily in the form of new talents as well as talent tree restructuring. Notable new talents are Unyielding Will Icon Unyielding Will, Null Magic Icon Null Magic, Festering Scythe Icon Festering Scythe, Doomed Bidding Icon Doomed Bidding and Raise Abomination Icon Raise Abomination. Furthermore, some of our core spells and talents have been functionally reworked. Festermight Icon Festermight now stacks as Iron Fur, where each individual stack has its own 20-second duration. Furthermore, Sudden Doom Icon Sudden Doom now only reduces the cost of your next Death Coil Icon Death Coil/Epidemic Icon Epidemic by 10 Runic Power, but makes it a guaranteed crit and burst a Festering Wound Icon Festering Wound (Death Coil Icon Death Coil only) on each target hit. It also procs significantly more due to a rework in the proc mechanic itself. Finally, Army of the Dead Icon Army of the Dead is now a fixed 3-minute cooldown, no more annoying Cooldown Reduction to worry about!

2.2.

Systems Changes

While nothing changed for Unholy Death Knight's core features, The War Within still has major implications for all specs thanks to the Hero Talent Tree system, new tier sets, and the natural reduction in secondary stats when entering a new expansion.

Unholy Death Knight gets to choose between the Rider of the Apocalypse and San'layn Hero Talent Trees. In sections below, we will talk more deeply about the implications of these Hero Talent Trees for the spec, and some thoughts on what looks strong and weak ahead of launch.

3.

Hero Talent Trees for Unholy Death Knight in The War Within

3.1.

Rider of the Apocalypse Hero Talents for Unholy Death Knight

The Rider of the Apocalypse Hero Talent tree is mainly a passive tree without much interaction with our kit. We randomly summon Horsemen to aid us in our fight, which use their own abilities. Mograine does cast Death and Decay Icon Death and Decay and provides some extra cleave whenever this happens. Furthermore, you will summon all four horsemen every 3/1.5 minutes with your Army of the Dead Icon Army of the Dead/ Raise Abomination Icon Raise Abomination, making you feel pretty cool as your army of minions end up really quite large.

On a Paler Horse Icon On a Paler Horse is probably the most interesting talent in the tree, at least for non-instanced content. This allows you to stay mounted in combat, fighting your enemies off the back of a horse. A major speed-up to questing and leveling, as well as a really cool addition to the game. It's a shame it doesn't work in dungeons and raids, but that also probably would've been too powerful.

In terms of tuning, the rider tree relies heavily on the raw damage of the riders themselves. It looks like a solid option in all scenarios. It does provide a nice defensive riders themselves. It currently does not look as strong as San'layn, but that might very well change in the future. It does provide a nice defensive boost via Pact of the Apocalypse Icon Pact of the Apocalypse, making it a really strong defensive choice overall.

3.2.

San'layn Hero Talents for Unholy Death Knight

The San'layn Hero Talents revolve around the Vampiric Strike Icon Vampiric Strike ability. This is a random proc off your Death Coil Icon Death Coil/ Epidemic Icon Epidemic which turns your Scourge Strike Icon Scourge Strike/ Clawing Shadows Icon Clawing Shadows into Vampiric Strike Icon Vampiric Strike for the next cast. Vampiric Strike Icon Vampiric Strike heals your for 2% of your max HP, and provides the Essence of the Blood Queen Icon Essence of the Blood Queen buff. This buff can stack up to 7 times, and a large part of the San'layn gameplay is to try and keep this buff up. We also have very strong synergy with DoTs, which does result in some degenerate gameplay!

The gameplay loop of San'layn looks something like this: Pop Dark Transformation Icon Dark Transformation, giving you unlimited Vampiric Strike Icon Vampiric Strike for its duration via Gift of the San'layn Icon Gift of the San'layn. Prioritise Scourge Strike Icon Scourge Strike to stack up your Essence of the Blood Queen Icon Essence of the Blood Queen buff, as well as increase the duration of your Dots via Infliction of Sorrow Icon Infliction of Sorrow. Once your DT finishes, consume your DoT for a large hit. Pray you get a proc in such a way that your Essence of the Blood Queen Icon Essence of the Blood Queen lasts until the next Dark Transformation Icon Dark Transformation window and then repeat.

The priority change during Dark Transformation Icon Dark Transformation gives the tree a slightly different feel to play around. Festering Strike Icon Festering Strike gets completely ignored during Dark Transformation Icon Dark Transformation! Dropping Essence of the Blood Queen Icon Essence of the Blood Queen feels really bad but the bad-luck protection around Vampiric Strike Icon Vampiric Strike procs makes this a bit better. The tree presents a disease-focused playstyle that's quite refreshing to play around. The opener gets a bit tricky when trying to buff your DoT consumption but it is overall pretty straight forward to think about and optimise.

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San'layn also incentivizes us to pick up lots of DoT spells to synergise with the Infliction of Sorrow Icon Infliction of Sorrow mechanic. We want to maximize the amount of hypothetical damage our DoTs would to in their full duration (this is what the consumption damage is based off). Therefore, talents like Ebon Fever Icon Ebon Fever and Plaguebringer Icon Plaguebringer synergize heavily.

Power-wise, San'layn looks good in all situations. Infliction of Sorrow Icon Infliction of Sorrow is strong and the Essence of the Blood Queen Icon Essence of the Blood Queen buff keeps your haste high at all times. Defensive-wise, it provides a nice amount of self-healing but not a lot of raw defensive power. It's the tree for running content without a healer, but it won't necessarily prevent you from getting one-shotted.

4.

Unholy Death Knight Tier Set in The War Within

Below are the Tier Set Bonuses for Unholy Death Knight in The War Within. After the wording of the bonus, you will find a brief note/commentary that is italicized.

  • Death Knight Unholy 11.0 Class Set 2pc Icon Death Knight Unholy 11.0 Class Set 2pc — Your minions deal 8% increased damage. Completely passive raw damage increase to our minions.
  • Death Knight Unholy 11.0 Class Set 4pc Icon Death Knight Unholy 11.0 Class Set 4pc — When you summon a minion, your Haste is increased by 2%, up to 8% for 8 sec. Works off the summoning of Army of the Dead Icon Army of the Dead/ Raise Abomination Icon Raise Abomination, Apocalypse Icon Apocalypse, Magus of the Dead Icon Magus of the Dead and Summon Gargoyle Icon Summon Gargoyle. Very much reliant on Sudden Doom Icon Sudden Doom procs via Doomed Bidding Icon Doomed Bidding to maintain uptime. Heavily incentivises picking up Doomed Bidding Icon Doomed Bidding as a talent.

Both set bonuses are completely passive and are not expected to have any gameplay impact.

4.1.

How Good is the Unholy Death Knight Tier Bonus in The War Within?

The tier set favors pet-heavy builds due to the 8% damage increase. Furthermore, it pretty much requires us to pick up Doomed Bidding Icon Doomed Bidding due to the extra uptime on the 4-set that it provides.

The gain of the tier set very much depends on the talents that end up being meta. At best it'll be around 9% total damage. This is roughly in line with most previous tier sets, which have been sitting at the 10-12% mark.

5.

Unholy Death Knight Strengths and Weaknesses

Strengths icon 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.
Weaknesses icon Weaknesses
  • -Limited mobility.
  • -Limited mythic+ utility.
6.

Changelog

  • 17 Jun. 2024: Page added.
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