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Unholy DPS | Cataclysm 4.0.6, The Missing Frame

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    King Hippo

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Posted 06 December 2010 - 09:19 AM


2/20 | Cataclysm 4.0.6

Minor tweaks here and there for the hot-fixes. Nothing too notable, as not much happened; we lost some dps, but our playstyle, stat weights, and so forth, all remain relatively identical to what they were.

To be done: Fill in reforging for BiS, fix gaps in AMS section, add some new macros/mods, and other odds and ends. As always, feedback and such welcome.

=Best Spec=
This is probably the most asked question here or anywhere else, so I may as well address it before going on to any real information. Before I do, it's important to be clear that the below assumes, gear/raid comp wise, that they're equal/equivalent, and that latency isn't a factor (meaning you have less than 400 ms). It suffices to say that said assumption won't apply to everyone (although it should cover the majority of people), and if you experience different results, that's likely due to some individual issue; either your gear greatly favors a specific spec, your latency is through the roof, or you're simply playing a spec improperly. As well, the below is talking in terms of single target encounters: although AoE situations are relatively common, they introduce way too many additional variables to sort through.

Normally, I wouldn't even bother to address this, but with it being the very beginning of an expansion, I may as well toss a quick line or two on the subject. Unfortunately, leveling speed can't be quantified in the same manner as PvE dps, but that doesn't mean all specs are equal in this regard - certain talents/playstyles undoubtedly favor faster leveling; increased mount speed, increased run speed, 1 second GCDs, Butchery, Unholy Command, burst dps, disease independence, and so on. Only one build has all of these perks and more: Frost 2H. That isn't to say you can't level as Unholy or Frost DW - of course you can - merely that, objectively speaking, they're subpar speed-wise. More on the subject can be found here.

[Normal Raids]
Assuming an average iLvl of 359 (normal t11), the order goes something like: 2H Unholy > DW Frost = 2H Frost > DW Unholy, with 2H Unholy being ~2% ahead, DW Frost and 2H Frost being within 0.5% of one another, and DW Unholy being hopelessly behind. For reference's sake, the approximate dps at this gear level is 20k, pending the fight. This is the simulated result, remember, which means it's assuming no AoE, no movement, no fight specific buffs/debuffs, all raid buffs/debuffs and so forth.

In reality, Frost will tend to underperform compared to what it theoretically should be at, partially because it's more heavily affected by RNG, partially because of the rune bug where they skip back half a second, partially because it's more heavily affected by movement, and a handful of other minor factors. Generally speaking, this leads to DW Frost and 2H Frost falling an additional 5% behind on most of the current single target centric fights of the tier, although the two specs are very competitive on AoE-centric fights.

[Hardmode Raids]
Assuming an average iLvl of 372 (hardmode t11), the order goes something like: 2H Unholy > DW Frost >= 2H Frost > DW Unholy, with 2H Unholy being ~2% ahead, DW Frost and 2H Frost being within 1% of one another, and DW Unholy being hopelessly behind. For reference's sake, the approximate dps at this gear level is 22k. This is the simulated result, remember, which means it's assuming no AoE, no movement, no fight specific buffs/debuffs, all raid buffs/debuffs and so forth.

In reality, Frost will tend to underperform compared to what it theoretically should be at, partially because it's more heavily affected by RNG, partially because of the rune bug where they skip back half a second, partially because it's more heavily affected by movement, and a handful of other minor factors. Generally speaking, this leads to DW Frost and 2H Frost falling an additional 5% behind on most of the current single target centric fights of the tier, although the two specs are very competitive on AoE-centric fights.

[TABLE="head"]Abbreviation | Meaning
AMS | Anti-Magic Shell
AMZ | Anti-Magic Zone
AotD | Army of the Dead
AoE | Area of Effect
BA | Bladed Armor
BB | Blood Boil
BiS | Best in Slot
BoT | Bastion of Twilight
BP | Blood Plague
BS | Blood Strike
BT | Blood Tap
BWD | Blackwing Descent
DC | Death Coil
DG | Death Grip
DK | Death Knight
DnD | Death and Decay
DPS | Damage per Second
DT | Dark Transformation
DS | Death Strike
DSim | Dark Simulacrum
DW | Dual Wield
EP | Ebon Plague
ERW | Empower Rune Weapon
FeS | Festering Strike
FF | Frost Fever
FP | Frost Presence
GCD | Global Cooldown
GoX | Glyph of X
HoW | Horn of Winter
IBF | Icebound Fortitude
ICD | Internal Cooldown
IT | Icy Touch
IUP | Improved Unholy Presence
MF | Mind Freeze
NS | Necrotic Strike
PS | Plague Strike
RC | Runic Corruption
RE | Runic Empowerment
RI | Resilient Infection
RP | Runic Power
RPM | Runic Power Mastery
SD | Sudden Doom
SF | Scarlet Fever
SI | Shadow Infusion
SS | Scourge Strike
TotFW | Throne of the Four Winds
TX | Tier X
UB | Unholy Blight
UF | Unholy Frenzy
UP | Unholy Presence[/TABLE]

Generalized Spec

Gone are the days where we have multiple cookiecutter specs to choose from, but none of those options happen to have even the slightest fraction of customization. Instead, we now have only one viable build... and that's it. The upside to our lack of choice being that this one spec is capable of getting each and every accessible dps talent, on top of having a couple points left over which are truly the player’s choice as to where they go. Blizzard’s new talent tree philosophy has succeeded, at least to an extent, for Unholy.

[2H; Only Option] | 5/0/32 + 4
There's little to be said; as the default build this grabs all the vital dps talents (of which, yes, Magic Suppression is one – although 1/3 is all it takes to reach a sufficient damage:RP conversion ratio). The point in Desecration can go in either Unholy Command or Resilient Infection - none of the three will affect your raw damage in PvE, so it's simply a matter of which form of utility you find most preferable for your own playstyle. The remaining four points can go, quite literally, wherever, with minimal impact on your damage output. DPS as this spec is done in Unholy Presence. Scourge Strike (physical + shadow) will be the ability contributing the highest percent of your total damage, followed by your Ghoul and then Death Coil.

Optional Talents

With four floating points unused in the build, you’re left with almost a dozen options from which to invest in, and it’s largely a matter of personal choice as to which of these you ultimately grab. Although some of the following may produce minor scraps of damage in rare raid situations, the amount gained is so incredibly laughable (we’re talking sub Virulence levels here, and that’s in the best case scenario where they even grant you anything at all), that unless you’re the most hardcore min-maxer or you’re one who sees absolutely zero worth in any of the other available selections, you’ll view them as just as option as the rest.
  • Runic Power Mastery
    With one point, RPM allows you to hoard enough runic power to then dump three successive Death Coils, which lets you quickly stack Shadow Infusion back up after Dark Transformation has run its duration; this being an incredibly valuable technique. With Runic Corruption procs now adding to the previous one's duration (instead of overwriting it), this practice of pooling RP has zero drawbacks, and RPM lets you get another whole DC off. Wonderfully valuable, and I would highly recommend a point here. More than one point spent, however, is of much less worth - unnoticeable, really, aside from when AMSing.
  • Magic Suppression
    Although, as previously stated, one talent point in Magic Suppression is all you need to achieve an adequate damage:RP conversion ratio (one similar to what was experienced baseline in Wrath), additional talent points here provide additional survivability and slightly more runic power. Additional survivability never hurts, especially in an expansion where healers can’t afford to spend the extra mana on a dpser who intentionally soaks avoidable damage so as to maximize their dps. It may give you some slight dps gain on certain fights, however. Survivability and damage (ever slight/rare it may be) makes MS a solid choice, and my personal preference. After a point in RPM.
  • Improved Blood Tap
    More runes is more dps, so long as you're not GCD capped. That said, IBT isn't as simple (and as great) as a free SS every minute and a half (one point)/minute (two points), due to the fact that although the spec may not be GCD capped over time, it can be for bursts of times, and if BT comes off cooldown during one of those instances, the talent (or parts of it, anyways), are basically going to waste until you can make proper use of the skill. As such, IBT may be a dps talent, but it's of less worth than many others, and debatably worth it.
  • Death's Advance
    In PvE play, this talent essentially makes you immune to snares for almost the entirety of any fight. Wonderful utility if ever a fight heavily features snares!
  • Scent of Blood
    More RP is more damage, and that’s all it comes down to… the big disclaimer being that Scent of Blood requires you to get hit for it to proc. On a fight where you take the occasional unavoidable and nonlethal melee swing, SoB is free dps. Unfortunately, those fights are rather rare. Your call. Do note that most AoE damage auras present in raid encounters do not proc SoB.
  • Blade Barrier
    This may seem like an odd addition to the list, at least for those of you who are still stuck in the Wrath mindset of raiding, but it really shouldn’t be so surprising when you consider the following facts: 1)Healers cannot afford to spend any more mana than they have to in Cataclysm, due to incredibly inflated mana costs and nerfed regen tools. 2) There’s no other real dps talents from which to draw from. 3) Blade Barrier provides what is, essentially, passive damage reduction. Combine those three facts, and this is actually a very decent place to stick your remaining talent points.
  • Desecration
    As the Lich King encounter showed, bringing a near passive (but also active on demand, if necessary) AoE snare is incredibly powerful – and now, with Chains of Ice being nerfed to a level hardly superior to Desecration, this talent is all that much stronger. Unfortunately, although this snare is unrivaled in terms of ease of application and effect on dps in situations which call for one, it’s also unrivaled in terms of annoyance when it’s not needed and tanks are trying to position mobs or drag them over to a specific location. Unlike Earthbind Totem, Hamstring, and every other snare – there’s no offswitch if you’re specced into this. You can’t just not use it; it’s there, for the good times and the bad. Whether it’s worth that drawback is largely a matter of opinion and of the specific content in question.
  • Resilient Infection
    If there’s ever a boss who cleanses constantly, this talent would be amazing. Otherwise, hardly worth mentioning!
  • Scarlet Fever
    10% decreased melee damage is an absolutely incredible debuff, and unarguably mandatory in a raid setting. The fact that we can pick it up without having to sacrifice any “real” dps talents is nice convenience... but one which, realistically, hardly matters. Every single tanking spec can bring the debuff in Cataclysm, with two of the four having it baseline, and all four of them being able to apply it without wrecking their rotation or TPS/DPS (whereas Blood Boil usage does not play nice with Unholy’s dislike of single Blood rune abilities).If your raid’s tanks are inept and don’t keep up the buff, then by all means, grab it (or, better yet, find new tanks!), but otherwise the talent really isn’t that attractive in PvE for us. If there are raid encounters where dps may be called on to off-tank mobs, then SF’s value would increase, but that’s unlikely to happen.
  • Hand of Doom
    Strangulate is already one of the strongest silences in the game, lasting a whopping 5 seconds while having a relatively low base cooldown of two minutes. Knocking that cd in half to 60 seconds is amazing… if a fight ever actually benefits from you being able to silence more often (and if other classes can’t manage it with what tools they have open to them). It’s unlikely this would ever be the case, largely because PvE tends to only require interrupts, not actual silences, but things could change. Who knows. Odds are this will remain a PvP talent, but it can’t hurt for PvE – it just might not help.

  • | , for AoE.
  • | , for AoE.
  • [Individual's Choice]
  • [Individual's Choice]
  • [Individual's Choice]

The prime glyphs should speak for themselves, as they’re pretty obvious.

As far as major glyphs go, the choices are rather straightforward largely because no other majors affect Unholy in the least, be it single target or AoE. Thus, you may as well take AMS, which is actually quite decent, and then Pestilence and BB, despite the fact that the latter two are only of value on AoE (and not worth a ton even then).

Minors are as relatively unimportant as ever. You have several decent (although hardly essential) choices: Glyph of Death's Embrace, which is excellent if you ever need to heal your pet (since, with the loss of Ghoul Frenzy, there's no other way to do so). Glyph of Path of Frost, which is great for fights involving fall damage. There’s Glyph of Blood Tap, which basically saves you 2500 health (at level 85) every 30-45 seconds. Glyph of Resilient Grip allows you to essentially spam taunt any target immune to the grip aspect of DG, and thus can come in handy. Glyph of Raise Ally does have some potential dps value, but only if others in the raid actually die early on and then make use of the increased run speed. Glyph of Horn of Winter is all but worthless, considering we’ll never go more than two minutes without casting HoW anyways.

Single Target

Say good bye to the rigid, fixed rotations of the past, and hello to the priority-based playstyle of Cataclysm:

Diseases > Dark Transformation > DnD/SS if both Unholy and/or all Death runes are up > FeS if both pairs of Blood and Frost runes are up >
DC if SD, 100 RP, will overcap RP with anything else or if DT isn’t up > DnD/SS > FeS > DC > HoW.

That likely looks much more intimidating and, in general, complicated than it actually is:

Keeping up diseases is, as it’s (almost) always been, the most important thing, less so for their relatively mediocre damage these days and primarily for the boost they provide to everything else. While diseases may only last 33 seconds and Outbreak has an unreducable 60 second cooldown, Festering Strike will bridge the gap, making it so you never have to resort to IT or PS in regular play on a single target.

Then comes Dark Transformation, whose uptime needs to be maximized for optimal dps. DT boosts your Ghoul’s damage by a truckload – a straight up 60% buff overall, plus a 20% Claw specific boost, on top of Claw then cleaving. The second you can DT, you do – no exceptions unless, of course, your ghoul is unable to attack the boss at the time.

You never want to waste runes, which is why DnD/SS and FeS when both of their respective rune costs are up comes next. Death and Decay does more damage than Scourge Strike, even on a single target, so use the former over the latter whenever you can. The reasons DnD is so potent are complicated, but part of it has to do with mastery, part of it with the guaranteed chance to hit (can't be dodged/parried), and part of it with the "extra" 11th tick.

Just as you don’t want to waste runes, you don’t want to waste potential Sudden Doom procs (by having it just override a yet-to-be-used current one), waste runic power, or waste Shadow Infusion/DT Uptime, which is why you prioritize DC here.

After all of the above is factored away you simply DnD, SS, FeS, and DC. The order doesn’t actually particularly matter unless the mob’s death is imminent – in which case you go in that order.

It’s worth noting that on a fight where a npc is constantly healing itself and you can count on the full absorb to be consumed (and the prevented healing would have meant that much more damage needing to be dealt), Necrotic Strike does replace Death and Decay/Scourge Strike in your rotation. It might not aid you with the meters, but it will be more effective in actually killing the boss.

A reminder: all of this is done in Unholy Presence.

Multiple Target

The AoE rotation isn’t terribly different from the single target one:

Diseases > Dark Transformation > Death and Decay > SS if both Unholy and/or all Death runes are up > BB + IT if both pairs of Blood and Frost runes are up >
DC if SD, 100 RP, will overcap RP with anything else or if RC isn’t up > SS > BB + IT > DC > HoW.

Differences to note:

Whenever you apply diseases, you also want to then spread them with Pestilence. As long as there’s at least one mob up who will survive for their full duration (or, of course, more mobs who may live for less), Pestilence is worth it.
Blood Boil use, for Unholy, always results in a leftover Frost rune which one has no choice but to use for Icy Touch. The two, in combination, replace Festering Strike in your rotation.

As long as there are three or more mobs present, BB + IT is worth using in place of FeS.

When AoEing, it's generally ideal to switch to Frost Presence.

Everything else remains relatively unchanged and thus isn't worth commenting on.

=Stats and Gearing=
Stat Weights

Specific stat weights are listed later on, but may naturally vary by person, and thus the following chain of relative worth is generally of more use:

Strength > Hit to cap > Haste > Mastery > Expertise to cap > Crit > Agility

There’s not a ton to say.

Strength is as potent as ever. This is on top of the fact that the value of the stat stays consistent as you level: 1 Strength will always provide X AP which will more or less lead to a constant amount of dps. This is unlike any of the secondary stats, whose rating:percent conversion rates almost universally quadrupled from 80 to 85, and thus all of them (even hit, which has) have taken a huge knock down in damage. Strength, however... it's still going strong.

That said, although it is now inferior to strength, hit is still the best secondary stat. Because of its number two status, you'll never actually want to gem it; reforge to the cap if you're not already there, but don't gem it, as strength is more desirable there. 8% is still the desirable number . There's no need to worry about any additional hit beyond that point, however: with Virulence now being 9% at max rank, you're automatically spell-hit capped if you're melee-capped.

Haste is still going up there in value, although it's no longer as remotely amazing as it was towards the end of Wrath. Do remember, it does now affect rune regeneration rates by the same amount at which it affects attack speed (meaning NewRuneRegenTime = (BaseRuneRegenTime) / (1 +(Haste%/100)), as well as our ghoul's energy generation rate (by that same formula). It does not affect diseases or Unholy Blight ticks. There is a softcap - a point at which haste offers diminished value - but it's not yet reachable in any current gear, and thus nothing to worry about.

With the latest buffs, Mastery is pretty up there. It affects our DnD, Blood Plague, Death Coil, and the shadow portion of our Scourge Strike. With those four generally averaging to a solid 35%ish of our total dps (and more in AoE situations), the stat is pretty desirable; it falls somewhat short of haste, but blows past expertise and crit.

Expertise is somewhat decent nowadays, unlike how the stat fared for Unholy throughout most of Wrath. Although we're not GCD constrained in current gear, we are awfully close - and overcapped when stuff like Unholy Frenzy, Heroism/Bloodlust, or AMS are up - and because of that fact, expertise is moderately desirable. Generally speaking, you will end up capping it, simply because there's a limit to how much hit you can make use of, and you can't reforge to haste if there's already haste on a piece. That said, there's no actual need to or mystical value in doing so. Treat the stat as you would any other according to its weight, and if it caps, great, but if you don't make it there, it's never worth sacrficing any of the above three to do so.

Crit is as middle of the road as ever. Although pet's are intended to benefit from it (and although those of other classes now do), the Ghoul still doesn't according to the latest testing. Blizzard has yet to comment on the subject, but presumably it's a bug. Hopefully, anyways. Once it's resolved, the value of the stat will jump, although it's unlikely it will surpass haste or expertise until future tiers, if even then.

Just for the record, agility items will never be taken from now on, unless the ilvl gap between it and a strength piece is something ridiculous (i.e, at least two tiers – 26 ilvls – worth). Part of this is because agility items no longer have attack power, while another part of it is because we get 5% strength for free when wearing all plate.

Specific Stat Weights

Preliminary stat weights are as follows:

[iLvl 359 - Normal Raids]
[table="head"]Stat | 2H
Strength | 2.96
Hit | 1.08
Haste | 0.86
Mastery | 0.82
Expertise | 0.72
Crit | 0.66
Attack Power | 0.75

[iLvl 372 - Hardmode Raids]
[table="head"]Stat | 2H
Strength | 3.10
Hit | 1.10
Haste |1.01
Mastery | 0.90
Expertise | 0.82
Crit | 0.76
Attack Power | 0.79

Do note that from this point in time and onward any and all stat weights presented by me will be in terms of dps, not attack power. There's numerous benefits to doing so: most notably the fact that when weights are in terms of dps, you can compare them cross-spec or even cross-class, allowing you to compare how different specs/classes scale relative to another, or permitting you to figure out who actually will benefit best from a specific upgrade. There's other factors in play, but that's one of the biggest motivators to switch. Besides, there's nothing you can do with weights-in-AP that you can't also do in weights-in-DPS.

If you really want the weights the old way, for some odd reason, simply multiply everything by the inverse of AP's dps weight; 1/(AP's Weight) = (Coefficient for weights in terms of AP).


Reforging takes 40% of a secondary stat* already on an item and converts it into a secondary stat not already on an item. This lets you optimize your gear to a level like never before, and diminishes the gap between the best items and their lesser counterparts.

Unfortunately, it's very difficult to reforge properly, and takes way more math than gemming or actually gearing itself could ever require.

At first glance, it may seem nothing more than taking the least valuable stat on each item and reforging it to the most valuable stat not already present on that item and, to be truthful, that really is all there is to it. The complexity comes when working around the hit and/or expertise caps: unfortunately, there's no simple way to explain how to handle that. You don't just reforge your weakest stats into hit until the cap, and then focus on everything else. Sometimes it's desirable to reforge away hit on one item, but then reforge to it on another. Sometimes you just reforge it away. Sometimes you just reforge to it. In essence, you want to get your hit/expertise as close to the cap as possible (slightly over or slightly under not being too important), and do so while maximizing the rest of your secondary stats.

How to do this simply depends on your specific set up of gear, and I haven't quite figured out an easy way to explain the exact process. Fortunately, there's numerous reforging programs out there (such as Team Robot's) which makes the whole process as easy as can be.

*Secondary stats mean Spirit and all ratings except Resilience (which is oddly exempt from reforging for whatever odd reasons).

Set Bonuses

It doesn’t take any complex math to look at the T11 bonuses and know they're must haves:

  • [T11 2P] Increases the critical strike chance of your Death Coil and Frost Strike abilities by 5%.
  • [T11 4P] Each time you gain a Death Rune, you also gain 1% increased attack power for 30 sec. Stacks up to 3 times.

The two piece is an approximate 1% dps gain, while the four piece is more along the lines of a ~2% boost. Considering the set is well itemized even ignoring these bonuses, it would be silly not to get them, and undoubtedly suboptimal.


There's a common misconception that trinkets are somehow harder to evaluate than other items. They (generally) aren't. A trinket's value comes down to nothing more than:

[TABLE]Trinket Value = | (Amount of Passive Stat x Passive Stat's Weight) + ((Amount of Proc/Use Stat x Proc/Use Stat's Weight) x Proc/Use Uptime)[/TABLE]

Simple, no?

Unfortunately, however, there is the reason I put generally in parenthesis earlier: Blizzard does not make internal cooldowns (and, thus, uptimes) visible from an item's tooltip or datamined information, which can make trinkets difficult to eyeball in value.

Fortunately, in Cataclysm, Blizzard has greatly simplified matters. With some rare (and generally obvious) exceptions, trinkets with a proc ("Chance on X to boost stat by Y for Z seconds") have an internal cooldown equal to 5 times Z (the duration of the proc's buff). Trinkets with an on-use effect ("Use: Increases stat by Y for Z seconds") have a cooldown equal to 6 times Z (the duration of the on-use buff). When you consider that procs won't go off the second the ICD is up, on top of the fact that it's harder to line up procs than it is to line up on-use effects, the two end up with near-identical uptime, although proc-based trinkets do come out slightly ahead.

On top of that, the budget of the stat proc/use is now equal to the budget of the passive stat.

Thus, what this means is that trinket selection comes down to nothing more than picking the highest iLvl trinket you can get which has one of its stats as strength, and which then has the most desirable secondary stat for your spec. When presented with multiple options, choose a proc trinket over a use trinket, and a trinket with strength as its proc/use over a trinket with strength as its passive (with the former, you can reforge, with the latter, you can't).

Simple as that, really.

Best in Slot

With Heroic Presence – the Draenei hit aura – being reworked to self-only, there’s no longer any real reason to differentiate between Alliance and Horde when it comes to Best in Slot sets, as one outfit will fit all… unless you’re a Draenei, in which case you can easily just reforge/enchant away some of the hit.

[2H Pre-Hardmode]
[table="head"]Slot | Item | Gemming | Reforging | Source
Head | | 1x Reverberating, 1x 20str/haste | TBD | BWD; Nefarian
Neck | | None | TBD | World BoE
Shoulders | | 1x 40str | TBD | BoT; Cho'Gall
Back | | None | TBD | Valor Points
Chest | | 1x 40str, 1x 20str/hit | TBD | Valor Points
Wrists | | None | TBD | BWD; Omnitron
Hands | | 1x 40str | TBD | Valor Points
Waist | of the Faultline | 1x 40str | TBD | TotFW; Conclave
Legs | of the Faultline | 1x 40str, 1x 20str/hit | TBD | TotFW; Al'Akir
Feet | | 1x 40str | TBD | BWD; Chimaeron
Ring | | None | TBD | Valor Points
Ring | | None | TBD | World BoE
Trinket | | None | TBD | BWD; Chimaeron
Trinket | | None | TBD | Valor Points
Two Hand | | None | TBD | BWD; Nefarian
Relic | | 1x 40str | TBD | Valor Points

[2H No Restrictions]
[table="head"]Slot | Item | Gemming | Reforging | Source
Head | | 1x Reverberating, 1x 20str/haste | TBD | Unknown
Neck | | 1x 40str | TBD | H BoT; Sinestra
Shoulders | | 1x 40str | TBD | Unknown
Back | | None | TBD | H BoT; Monstrosity
Chest | | 1x 40str, 1x 20str/hit | TBD | Unknown
Wrists | | 1x 40str | TBD | H BoT; Sinestra
Hands | | 1x 40str | TBD | Unknown
Waist | of the Faultline | 1x 40str | TBD | H TotFW; Conclave
Legs | of the Faultline | 1x 40str, 1x 20str/hit | TBD | H TotFW; Al'Akir
Feet | | 1x 40str | TBD | H TotFW; Chimaeron
Ring | | 1x 40str | TBD | H BoT; Sinestra
Ring | of the Faultline | None | TBD | H TotFW; Al'Akir
Trinket | | None | TBD | H BWD; Chimaeron
Trinket | | None | None | H BoT; Monstrosity
Two Hand | | None | TBD | H BWD; Nefarian
Relic | | 1x 40str | TBD | Valor Points

=Gemming and Enchanting=

One of the most important changes to the gearing aspect of the game is the mix-up in gem colors: every single color has a stat of an interest to us, including blue:

[table="head"]Color | Melee Stats Available
Red | Strength, Expertise Rating
Yellow | Crit Rating, Haste Rating, Mastery Rating
Blue | Hit Rating

For Cataclysm, that leads to the following:
[table="head"]Color | Gem
Red |
Yellow |
Blue |

Even if you're not hit-capped, remember, it's never worth going out of your way to gem to that point. Reforge to it if you must, but never gem. It's simply not worth sacrificing strength for.

You only bother to use orange/purple gems if the socket bonus is 20 strength, 40 of any secondary stat, or anything higher than that for one yellow/blue slot, and 30 strength for two. Otherwise, simply go straight strength all the way.


. What needs to be said?


Fairly self-explanatory, as it’s simply a matter of applying the stat weights, but as some people are curious and/or confused and/or lazy:

[TABLE="head"]Slot | Enchant | Notes
Head | 60 Str / 30 Mastery | Wildhammer/Dragonmaw revered. No competitive alternatives.
Cape | 65 Crit | No competitive alternatives.
Shoulder | 50 Str / 25 Crit | Therazane exalted. 130 Str / 25 Crit for those with Inscription, of course, but no competitive alternatives otherwise.
Chest | 20 Stats | No competitive alternatives.
Bracers | 50 Str | 130 Strength for those with Leatherworking, of course, but no competitive alternatives otherwise.
Gloves | 50 Str | No competitive alternatives.
Legs | 190 AP / 55 Crit | No competitive alternatives.
Feet | 50 Haste |Runspeed enchants are pointless considering we now DPS in Unholy Presence. 50 Hit is a viable alternative; which you take ultimately matters on how you can best reforge your gear at the time[/TABLE]


There is currently only one viable Runeforge for Unholy PvE DPS: Rune of the Fallen Crusader.

=Consumables and Cooldowns=

Food: / /

Not much to say here. Although we still have Bladed Armor, prepotting with an armor potion isn't worth it - their duration has been decreased substantially, such that they last no longer than a "real" potion.

A reminder, but pet food is gone.


As an Unholy DK, you only have three cooldowns - Army of the Dead, Summon Gargoyle, and Unholy Frenzy. Maximizing their use is essential to maximizing one’s dps.

Army of the Dead

Similar to a Blood or Frost DK’s Ghoul or our own Gargoyle, Army of the Dead will take a snapshot of your AP, haste, and hit at the time summoned. Changes in these stats after you have casted the spell will have no effect on the summoned minions, and other stats – crit, mastery, and the like – will have no effect period.

The most optimal time to use Army of the Dead will vary from boss to boss, but it is typically right before the beginning of an encounter. Using it mid-fight can lead to lost dps time, as the spell is channeled, and can also open the possibility of the spell getting interrupted by an npc mechanic, drastically lowering the value of the spell. That said, if you are unable to cast it before the fight begins it is still worth casting mid-fight – ideally during a phase transition or similar period of down-time – simply not as large a gain as using it immediately before the pull.

One note about Army of the Dead is that although the summoned ghouls will not taunt a boss, they will taunt most adds present on boss encounters. Keep this in mind as it can cause a wipe if used inappropriately… or prevent one if used intelligently.

Summon Gargoyle

Summon Gargoyle isn't terribly complex in its use. Your Gargoyle scales with your attack power and haste based on the moment it was cast, and will retain those exact stats for its entire duration. Try to wait on using it until all of your procs coincide, however, don't let this make you miss an opportunity to cast it. Summoning your Gargoyle three times in a fight is better than only summoning it twice, regardless of procs. As such, figure out how many times you'll be able to use it based on the fight length. Try and use it at some point during Heroism's duration - it needs to be popped after Heroism is cast, while the buff is active on you, to benefit. This is also the time to pop your potion, ideally.

Also remember, your Gargoyle has horrid AI. It will melee if summoned too close to the center of the boss’s hitbox. There is a trick to avoid this, however, and it’s popularly referred to as “Gargoyle Twisting”. When you’re about to summon your Gargoyle, you want to quickly turn your character about 90 degrees from where you were facing the boss, cast the summon, and then quickly turn back, all in a fraction of a second. Done properly, you’ll only lose a miniscule fraction of auto-attack time on the boss, which is easily made up by your Gargoyle not meleeing for its entire duration. The only real way to mess up this technique is to keyboard turn… and if you’re doing that, you have more important issues to resolve!

Your Gargoyle will follow the same commands you give your Ghoul (i.e, follow, stay, attack, etc), so you can move it out of AoEs such as Shock Blast – however you are best off simply waiting until immediately after such spells to go off to summon it.

Unholy Frenzy

A 20% melee/range haste buff with a 30 second duration and a 3 minute cooldown is rather impressive - in fact, it would be an 18% or so dps boost for us during its course. Quite good. Unfortunately, the buff is classified as an enrage, and because of that fact it's an even greater damage gain for Fury Warriors, whose mastery amplifies the effect of enrages. They would get at least 25% more out of the buff than we would. When using it on others, try to time it with Heroism or various self-buffs they have such as Death Wish.

If a Fury Warrior isn't present in the raid, then yes, it's best to simply use it on yourself. It's cooldown lines up perfectly with that of Summon Gargoyle, so the two should generally be macroed together or, at the least, used consecutively.

=Basic Combat Mechanics=
Some elementary numbers to remember when raiding.
  • Boss level mobs no longer cause an unavoidable amount of partial resists.
  • Glancing blows happen 24% of the time on auto-attacks and cannot be critical hits. A glancing blow deals 70% damage. These only occur on boss level mobs, and there's no way to reduce the chance of them happening.
  • Yellow melee attacks and white two-hand attacks have an 8% chance to miss against boss level mobs. At 120 hit rating per 1% hit, it takes 960 hit rating to become hit soft-capped. For dual wielders, Nerves of Cold Steel reduces the chance to 5%, meaning you need 600 hit rating to then be soft-capped.
  • Spells have a 17% chance to miss against boss level mobs. At 102 hit rating per 1% spell hit, it takes 1734 hit rating to become spell hit capped. Our passive bonus from Runic Focus lowers this to 8% or 816 hit rating.
  • White DW attacks have a 27% chance to miss against boss level mobs. At 120 hit rating per 1% hit, it takes 3240 hit rating to become hit hard-capped. Nerves of Cold Steel reduces the chance to 24%, meaning you need 2880 hit rating to then be hard-capped. Do note, it's not actually worth being hard-capped.
  • Melee attacks - yellow or white, main-hand or off-hand - all have a 6.50% chance to be dodged when attacking a boss level mob from behind. At 30 expertise rating per 1 point (0.25%) expertise, it takes 780 expertise rating to become expertise soft-capped.
  • Melee attacks - yellow or white, main-hand or off-hand - all have a 14% chance to be parried when attacking a boss level mob from the front. At 30 expertise rating per 1 point (0.25%) expertise, it takes 1680 expertise rating to become expertise hard-capped. Do not, you should never be attacking a boss from the front, and thus it's not actually worth being hard-capped.
  • It takes 128 haste rating to equal 1% haste.
  • It takes 179 crit rating to equal 1% crit.
  • It takes 179 mastery rating to equal 1 mastery.
  • Melee attacks against boss level mobs automatically suffer a 4.8% crit supression, meaning you're that much less likely to crit said mobs with melee attacks.
  • Spells against boss level mobs automatically suffer a 3.0% crit suppression, meaning you're that much less likely to crit said mobs with spells.

=Ghoul Specific Mechanics=
With your Ghoul being one of your highest sources of damage, and the primary tool which sets an Unholy DK apart from other DKs, there are some basic numbers to know about it.
  • Due to lackluster AI, even with Claw on auto-cast, you Ghoul won't use it as often as it can. To maximize its dps, it's best to macro Claw into your Scourge Strike ability.
  • Ghouls work like most permanent pets, receiving a portion of your stats and benefitting from any buffs on you – although they, themselves, cannot be individually buffed so as to prevent double dipping.
  • Ghouls receive 100% of your strength, stamina, haste rating, and hit rating. Glyph of Raise Dead causes your ghoul to receive 140% of your strength and stamina.
  • Ghouls gain expertise based on your hit rating. If you are half-way to the hit cap, then your pet will be half-way to the expertise cap. The Draenei hit aura does not give expertise to the pet.
  • Ghouls benefit from the 15% haste of Unholy Presence and the 10% damage of Frost presence.
  • Ghouls have a 90% passive AoE damage reduction buff which does not show up in the spellbook.

=Anti-Magic Shell and Dark Simulacrum=
Ignored or forgotten by many, Anti-Magic Shell not only absorbs magic damage, but when talented into Magic Suppression it also produces Runic Power based on the damage absorbed. More Runic Power translates directly into more damage and, as such, the proper use of AMS is a skill essential for a DK wishing to perform to their very best. With the assistance of Veoxess, the information in this section has been compiled to showcase the various soaking opportunities - for both offensive (meaning primarily for the purpose of generating RP and thus dps) and defensive (meaning primarily for the purpose of saving your life) usage - present in each boss encounter present in tier 11 content.

The two different possible intentions behind using the spell aren't particularly important; offensive application will still convey defensive benefit, and vice versa. Still, if you can use AMS to save your life, that trumps any possible dps use, as should go without saying.

At this time, there are no known raid opportunities to use Dark Simulacrum worth nothing, but if and when such openings are available, they'll be included in the below.
The Bastion of Twilight

[Halfus Wyrmbreaker]
Fireball Barrage: The Proto-Behemoth will fly around in the air spamming fireballs on the raid. They are easy to dodge, but if you are looking for an easy way to get some free RP you can simply stand in place when they're about to land. The damage isn't lethal, with or without a cooldown.
Flame Breath: As does every dragon, the Proto-Behemoth will cast a Flame Breath every 30 seconds. It is unavoidable and is a decent chunk of RP if you place your AMS properly. Since AMS is on a 45 second cooldown you'll only be able to get it every other time. Actual damage taken is rather minimal.

[Theralion and Valiona]
Fabulous Flames: Flame patches spawn on the ground that deal negligible damage. Easy to side-step into them when AMS is up for the RP boost.
Blackout: Much like Jaraxxus, Valiona will put a debuff on a random player which absorbs a specific amount worth of healing. Once the debuff has been healed through or has expired it will explode, splitting a large sum of damage by the number of players hit. AMSing here is great; not just for the typical dps boosting aspect, but also the survivability side of matters.
Twilight Blast: Inflicts damage to a random player. All enemies within 8 yards take splash damage. Simply pop AMS if you are targeted or are running near someone with it.

[Ascendant Council]
Water Bomb: Cast by Feludius after Ignacious does his Inferno Leap, this will deal damage and cause you to become Waterlogged. Instead of dealing with running towards a flame patch you can easily AMS the ability when he casts it to grant you a bit of RP as well as more uptime on the boss.
Glaciate: Area aoe cast soon after Water Bomb. This will kill players who don't run out, but you can survive if you're at max health and you throw up AMS. It's risky, however, and generally speaking you gain more dps time by using AMS on Water Bomb.

Flame Torrent: Deals damage in front of Ignacious. If you want to sneak in some extra RP you can run in front of Flame Torrent with AMS without dieing. There is no cleave to worry about, and the damage isn't high enough to pose any real risk of death.
Inferno Rush: After Ignacious casts Inferno Leap he will then rush back to the tank, leaving a trail of fire. This fire is your cure to the aforementioned Water Bomb, as well as a free source of runic. Due to the frequency at which Inferno Leap + Inferno Rush are cast, you can always count on a flame patch being up in phase 1.
Rising Flame: Cast when Ignacious uses Aegis of Flame. Rising Flame pulses fire damage and can easily be abused for AMS RP gain purposes.

Call Winds: A cyclone will be flying around the room. If you are already lifted and you’re waiting for Quake to be cast you can always take another hit of the cyclone for extra RP.
Lightning Rod: Marks 1 or 3 (for 10m or 25m, respectively) random targets in the raid, causing them to deal nature damage to all raid members around them after five seconds. If cast on you or if one of the targets doesn't run far enough, AMSing here provides a huge breather for the healers, in addition to the normal RP gain.

None to mention.

Elementium Monstrosity
Lava Seed: Random spots on the ground will spawn small red flames, which will then eventually erupt. Similar to the flame patches from phase 1 of the encounter, these are a free source of RP with no serious risk of dying.
Liquid Ice: The boss will continuously spawn ice underneath him. It deals damage and grows for each second he stays on top of it. Melee can stand on it the entire phase without any trouble, as the damage output isn't that great, and thus you can essentially AMS it on cooldown.

Corruption: Sickness: After 50% Corrupted Blood you gain the named debuff, which spews in a cone in front of you dealing shadow damage. You can always AMS your own debuff after you hit 50% to mitigate some of the damage; however, you will still have to turn away from the other melee. A better use is to AMS and sidestep into it if one of the other melee receive it. Be careful, since once your AMS falls off you’re susceptible to Corrupted Blood stacks.
Flame’s Orders: Cho’gall gains an attack buff which spawns fire patches. Depending on how you tank the encounter you may or may not be able to take advantage of these patches.
Shadow’s Orders: Cho’gall gains buff which pulses shadow damage to everyone in the raid. A perfect opportunity for soaking.
Depravity: This is interruptable and should be interrupted each cast but if, for some random reason, one gets through, quickly AMSing will prevent a lot of damage and Corrupted Blood stacks.
Corruption of the Old God: Cho’gall becomes completely corrupted and starts pulsing shadow damage to the entire raid for the entire phase. Brainless AMS usage for all.
Sprayed Corruption: Deals damage as a conal AoE in front of the Faceless One. You can easily run in front and grab RP via AMS if you time it properly. These mobs do not cleave.

Unknown at this time.

Blackwing Descent

[Omnitron Defense System]
Arcane Annihilator: Targets a random player and deals arcane damage. When Electron becomes the target of choice place a focus on Archanotron and watch his cast. If at any point he targets you a pre-emptive AMS can be a life saver as well as a DPS gain. This should be interrupted, however, and thus not a worry.

Electrical Discharge: Moderate to little damage. Chain lightning like effect. Not predictable. Jumps between random raid members. Trying to AMS this is likely an exercise in frustration.

Incineration Security Measure: Jet of flames that originate from Magmatron and leave two spots of safety. The ability is channelled and thus no tank damage is being done at this point. The damage done is moderate and therefore casting AMS can be a huge benefit.
Acquiring Target: Much like Incineration Security Measure, a jet of flames originate from Magmatron and is considered a channelled ability, therefore no tank damage is occurring. If you are the intended target run out of the raid and cast AMS therefore negating the ability and giving you a nice chunk of RP.

None to mention.

Ignition: Sends walls of flame in random directions (much like Archimonde). It deals moderate to little damage so strafing to grab a tick with AMS up is an easy trick.
Lava Spew: Spews lava damage to all players within 60 yards for 3 seconds. The damage here is heavy, and reducing it will make the healers love you - not to mention the full bar of runic never hurts.
Pillar of Flame:Throws a stream of magma at a random raid member, dealing damage and causing a flame patch. An obvious candidate for soaking if you or someone nearby is targeted.
Parasitic Infection: Deals damage every 2 seconds. At this point you should be out of the raid, but AMS’ing on the way is a decent way to pool RP for when you go back in.
Infectious Vomit: Casted after the duration of Parasitic Infection. Deals heavy damage to you and any raid member within 8 yards. You would do well to stay out of the raid and use AMS defensively for this ability.

Modulation: Increases sound by 7 and deals shadow damage. Damage is increased depending on your sound level. Using this early on can equate to less damage received over the course of the fight, as well as more RP gained.
Roaring Flame: Flame patches are scattered across the room, dealing the laughable damage of flame patches everywhere. Running through one of these during air phase can give you a nice chunk of RP but you will still be sitting on your hands twiddling your thumbs, and thus it's likely not the best option.
Sonar Bomb: A ground-based AoE. Once again, easy to soak from, but since it's only used during the air phase, you can't do much of anything with the RP gained.
Sonic Fireball: Much like any meteor like effect, it is avoidable, but easy to soak from if needed. Only cast during the air phase.

Caustic Slime: Casts damage that is spread between raid members. Since you should be stacked at this point helping out your healers by soaking that bit of nature damage can really help as well as give you a nice amount of RP for when you get back in on Chimaeron.

Arcane Storm: Raid wide AoE damage. Although it should be interrupted, if it's not (or if it is, but a wave or two still gets off), it's more than sufficient for capping your runic. Cast in all phases save the final one.
Biting Chill: Debuff casted on a random raid member which deals damage to the individual and all those around the individual. If placed on you or someone nearby, it's wonderful soaking opportunity, and helps healers out. Only cast during the blue phase.
Scorcing Blast: A meteor type frontal cone attack which splits its damage among all hit targets. If you're assigned to help divide the damage, an easy, predictable opportunity for free RP. Only cast during the red phase.

Electric Discharge: Onyxia’s sides will glow once this ability is fully charged. Lightning will erupt from her sides. Essentially, you shouldn’t take much damage from this, but if DPS isn’t high enough you can line-of-sight the ability behind the pillars. If for whatever reason you need to an AMS here would be appropriate to mitigate some of the incoming damage
Hail of Bones: Nefarian will cast this during the first part of Phase 1. Each time it spawns an add which deals pulsing shadow damage. AMS if you find yourself near them since it tends to deal a large chunk of damage.
Shadowblaze Spark: Deals very high damage which will prove fatal if you're slow to react. If you end up hesitating it would be best to AMS and then move since it will kill you within 3-4 seconds otherwise. Very risky to intentionally attempt to soak from.
Blast Nova: Pulsing AOE that originates from the Chromatic Prototypes in Phase 2. You should take advantage of this since you will be on a small pillar with no way to avoid the damage anyway.

Throne of the Four Winds

[Conclave of Wind]
None; Wind Blast will knock you back, resulting in death, with or without AMS.

Wind Chill: Stacking debuff dealing frost damage and increasing frost damage received. A well timed AMS can reset your stacks so that healing can be less of an issue, in addition to the normal RP produced.
Ice Patch: Nezir will drop an Ice Patch every so often slowing movement and dealing damage. It is imperative that you get out of this patch as soon as possible but popping AMS on the way out for extra RP doesn't hurt.
Sleet Storm: Cast when Nezir caps his energy, Sleet Storm deals damage to everyone on the platform and splits it between all of them. Timing AMS for this phase would be a good idea if you happen to be on the Frost Platform, but better off used elsewhere otherwise.

Soothing Breeze: An AoE heal cast by the boss which will also silence/pacify raid members standing in it If you happen to be under the boss when its cast you have a split second to react and AMS while running out. You will not be silenced if you do it correctly.
Toxic Spores: Anshal will cast nurture which will spawn Creepers. Creepers are small adds that cast spores near them. If you happen to get too close to one you can AMS the stacks off if you time it well enough.


=Races and Professions=


The fact that they’re new is irrelevant; Worgen have, hands down, the best PvE racials of any Alliance (or, debatably, any) race. Visciousness provides a passive 1% crit, while Darkflight gives the utility of a 40% speed sprint every 2 minutes. The two just cannot be beat, and their value isn’t dependent on using a specific weapon type or gearing around a special stat cap.

Heroic Presence – usually referred to as the “Draenei aura” – has been made self-only, as of patch 4.0.1, and thus the race can no longer claim supremacy. 1% hit still isn’t bad, however, and is stronger than any of the non-Worgen alternatives. Don't make the mistake of thinking 1% hit is better than 1% crit - with reforging, it's not. Gift of the Naaru is as laughably weak as ever, but a free heal-over-time at no cost of dps doesn’t hurt in an expansion where our self-healing capabilities in our dps spec is being severely reduced.

Best case scenario, being human gives you 3 expertise and a free snare/CC break every 3 minutes. Although the second is quite useful, the first is worse than the equivalent passives of both Worgen and Draenei, and that’s not even considering the fact that you only get that expertise if you’re using a sword or a mace of some type. For PvE, humans are very middle of the line. Not bad, but far from the best.

Similar to Humans, Dwarves provide expertise; 5 when you’re using any sort of mace. Although this is slightly stronger than the human weapon bonus, it’s also more limited in use, and on top of that is the fact that Stoneform – a poison/disease/bleed clear and slight armor (and thus AP, via BA) on a 2 minute cooldown – is clearly inferior to Every Man for Himself. All in all, I would put Dwarves on par with Humans, although they're nearly equal.

Gnomes are a relatively decent race for Frost DW DKs. Their weapon racial provides expertise, similar to Humans and Dwarves, but you need to be using a dagger or a one-hand sword to benefits. Escape Artist – a snare/immobilize break on a 1.75 minute cooldown – is actually quite decent, and certainly on par with EMFH or Darkflight in PvE. Not a bad option although, as always, the weapon racial is quite situational pending available itemization, and it's completely worthless if using a 2 hander.

Night Elf
Hands down the worst Alliance race for PvE dps , for Frost DKs or any other class/spec! All Night Elves have going for them is a temporary aggro dump on a two minute cooldown. Even if we had threat issues, which we don’t, this would still be quite horrendous, considering all the threat is returned to us the second you break Shadowmeld. There’s no passive which provides any sort of dps in any sort of scenario. If you’re truly looking to min-max, this is the last race you want as a dps.


Orcs have long been the absolute best race for Unholy dps, and they still are for Horde. 3 expertise when using an axe/fist, 5% pet damage, and a 15s boost to AP every 2 minutes is almost tailored to fit the spec. The expertise boost is based on weapon itemization available and the AP cooldown is quite decent (1170 at 85), thus being enough to place Orcs a step below Worgen if you're looking at the absolute best race, faction regardless. Still, Orcs are as solid a choice as ever.

It shouldn’t come as any huge surprise that Goblins, being a brand new race, are much better than average. 1% increased attack/cast speed is quite decent, and a resource-free nuke (or, alternatively, blink) on a 2 minute cooldown is free dps, pure and simple. Orcs ultimately win out, but it's a fairly close call.

Reduced snare duration and a 10s haste buff on a 3 minute cooldown. Trolls, and the remaining horde races, are a huge step down from the amazingness that is Goblins and Orcs. The dps benefit of these racials, although not nonexistent, are just so incredibly small it’s hardly worth analyzing.

Blood Elf
15 runic power every 2 minutes, which is essentially one free Death Coil a fight. That’s hardly anything – about half of half of one percent of a dps boost. Barely noticeable. The lack of any sort of dps passive is what really hurts Blood Elves; and the remaining two races.

A charm/sleep/fear break on a 2 minute cooldown. That’s it. It will give you a couple extra seconds of dps time on the rare fight which involves a fear, but nothing more.

Even worse than Night Elves, all Tauren bring is a 2second AoE stun. Utterly worthless for PvE dps. There’s literally no benefit to it.


Synapse Springs averages out to approximately 80 strength, as with most other decent professions. Good old s or (which is superior depends on various factors; number of mobs present, how close to the GCD cap you are, and so on) thus push the profession to the top.

Bold Chimera’s Eye of which you can use three, coming out to a 81 strength gain. Ever so slightly superior to all of the below, but every bit helps. The second best available option.

Draconic Embossment - Strength which replaces the otherwise standard 50 strength enchant. Tied with Blacksmithing, Alchemy, Enchanting, and Inscription.

Socket Bracer and Socket Gloves, allowing for two additional Bold Infernal Rubys. Thus BS is the same 80 strength gain as almost everything else. Tied with Leatherworking, Alchemy, Enchanting, and Inscription.

Mixology which, based off of Flask of Titanic Strength, gives a bonus of 80 strength, on top of the convenience gained by longer duration flasks and elixirs. Tied with Leatherworking, Blacksmithing, Enchanting, and Inscription.

Enchant Ring - Strength x 2. A straight up 80 strength gain, keeping in line with the majority of other self-perks. Tied with Leatherworking, Blacksmithing, Alchemy, and Inscription.

Lionsmane Inscription, which is a 80 strength gain over its Therazane exalted counterpart. Tied with Leatherworking, Blacksmithing, Alchemy, and Enchanting.

Lifeblood , which is now a haste cooldown with a minor self-heal attached. 480 haste rating for 20 seconds with a 2 minute cooldown comes out to 80 haste over time, although the actual value of the ability is a bit higher since you can line it up with cooldowns for a greater-than-normal benefit.

Master of Anatomy which is simply 80 crit rating.

Swordguard Embroidery, grants 800 AP for 15 seconds, which with a 45s ICD gives it a theoretical maximum of 267 AP over time. When you subtract from this the lost crit of a normal cloak enchant, it comes out well behind all of the above professions.

Toughness, the self-only perk of Mining, provides 120 stamina and thus absolutely zero damage. Extra survivability never hurts, sure, but if you’re trying to optimize dps, this is the one profession to avoid like the plague.

=Macros and Mods=

I'm not a huge macro fanatic, but as many find them useful, the following are ones of Unholy DK interest:

[TABLE]#showtooltip Death Coil
/cast [modifier:shift,target=Pet] Death Coil
/cast [nomodifier] Death Coil [/TABLE]
Shift will cause you to Death Coil your pet for the heal; otherwise, it will Death Coil your target as usual.

[TABLE]#showtooltip Unholy Frenzy
/cast [modifier:shift,target=Warrior'sName] Unholy Frenzy
/cast [nomodifier] Unholy Frenzy
/cast [nomodifier] Summon Gargoyle[/TABLE]
Shift will cause you to cast Unholy Frenzy on your raid's warrior (insert the name, of course), if present. Otherwise, it will cast it on you as usual, as well as cast Summon Gargoyle.

[TABLE]#showtooltip Mind Freeze
/cast [modifier:shift] Strangulate; Mind Freeze[/TABLE]
A handy interrupt macro. Casts MF, but if MF misses, is on cooldown, or you're at range, just hold down shift and it will cast Strangulate.

UIs are a very individualized aspect of the game. It’s extremely rare for two people to be using the exact same mods in the exact same layout with the exact same options… and that’s honestly as it should be. What works for one person may or may not work for another, and personal familiarity and habit can often outweigh the transition of switching add-ons (or keybinds, for that matter) just because someone says something else is better. Besides, you don’t even have to use mods at all, and I’m sure there are some out there who make do with the default Blizzard UI for one reason or another.

That said there is something almost any moderately competent DK would agree on, and that’s that the default rune display is absolutely atrocious. You have to stare at the upper-left corner of your screen to see it. You can’t tell how many seconds are actually left on a rune refresh. It handles Runic Empowerment and Runic Corruption procs poorly.

Can you play with it? Yes. Can you perform to the best of your ability? Unlikely or, at best, quite difficult.

Thus if there is one sort of add-on I would advise every single DK to pick up, it’s a rune mod. The following are some of the most popular and useful, any and all of which are leagues above the built-in display.

Posted Image

Developed by this forum’s own dr_AllCOM3, DDR is my personal favorite and what I would highly recommend to any one new or old to the class. It does it all; clearly displays runes in a manner intuitive with the new rune system, highlights on RE/RC procs, shows time remaining on diseases, includes an icon for SD/KM, leeps track of SI stacks/DT time remaining, has a bar for runic power, and so on… all in a lightweight, unobtrusive little package. The only downside to the mod is the fact that it’s extremely limited in customization, but that’s only an issue if you don’t find the natural state absolutely perfect as I myself do!

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What I used for most of Wrath, and another popular choice, MagicRunes are extremely customizable. You can have your runes display as a single vertical bar, multiple vertical bars, a single horizontal bar, multiple horizontal bars, squares, circles, line graph, bar graph, and all sorts of different setups. You can make it as big or a small as you like, as bright or as dark as you please. Similar to DDR, this also can track diseases and runic power if you so choose; unfortunately, unlike DDR, it doesn’t cover any of our procs or things like Shadow Infusion stacks. Perfectly functional, and an attractive option for those looking for something thoroughly tweakable.

Posted Image

Although I’ve never personally used it, seeing as how it’s the most popular rune mod download on Wowinterface, Runewatch must have something going for it. A quick look through shows it as having some options for different skins/layouts; more than DDR but less than MR. The display is a bit more garish and space intensive than most, but some may prefer that. As with the previous options, RW does include disease timers and runic power display, but as with MagicRunes, it lacks any sort of proc notification. Certainly better than the default, and a safe choice.

=Valuable Resources=
Consider’s Blog
The analysis behind the numbers. Wanting to know why the latest changes have the sort of effect they do, and not simply what that effect is? Wanting to know the thoughts on a new patch from the perspective of a fellow DK with as much raiding experience as anyone? Wanting to know the general musings of yours truly? Then look no further; this blog is for you. Surely I’m allowed to plug my own work after having written this guide?

Kahorie’s DK Simulator
An amazing tool. Curious how much dps you should be doing relative to your gear level? Curious whether or not it’s time for you to transition specs? Curious what your personal stat weights are? The simulator can tell you all of that and more. It’s truly the best tool of its nature; its competitors don’t even come close in terms of accuracy or functionality.

Mr. Robot
Simple but useful. Wondering what gear is optimal, despite not being an actual raider? Wondering what's best in slot for your specific circumstances? Wondering how simply gearing actually is? This site is for all of those who were distraught that I removed the pre-raid BiS lists here! The algorithm it uses isn't completely perfect, but it's close enough such that the results will be perfectly accurate in 90% of situations.

A DK-centric community. Looking for information about the other aspect of the class; tanking? Looking to read more anecdotal and subjective accounts of the class, in contrast to the more factual and objective fare you’ll partake in here? Looking for another interesting site to read? Then Pwnwear is your place.

=Thread Change Log=
[2]: 02.08.11 Updated for 4.0.6
[1]: 12.06.10 Thread Relaunched

#2 Azhe


    Von Kaiser

  • Members
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Posted 11 December 2010 - 08:50 AM

So were the gem requirements for [Chaotic Shadowspirit Diamond] actually reverted, cause the ones I'm seeing in game still say "more blue than red". Until my guild JCs are finished leveling or I can find one on AH for less than 1000g, I can't test it, though...

#3 Diello


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Posted 11 December 2010 - 01:11 PM

The meta can't get fixed until there's a patch and, despite all the hotfixes, we haven't had a patch yet.

#4 Savetheday


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Posted 11 December 2010 - 09:30 PM

As far as meta-gem goes for unholy I'd suggest either socketing all hit/strength and the chaotic(with a haste/hit somewhere) if you can use all the hit from gems, or you can just conveniently go with Thundering. Gear set-ups vary a lot at the moment, so one might be better then the other for you.

#5 shed


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Posted 11 December 2010 - 10:05 PM

Where did the gear list for pre-raids go to?

#6 Flin


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Posted 11 December 2010 - 11:48 PM

This. In retrospect, it was silly to even bother trying to do them, and they have now been removed, Unlike with raid gear, there's just way too many factors into play - do you count Archaeology weapons, despite the incredibly low RNG? Do you count Chaos Orb gear, despite it being however long before it can be crafted? Do you count Valor Point items, even though you can only get 70/day outside of raiding? Include BoE epics? Profession gear? What about Conquest gear? Tanking gear? The list could go on near endlessly.

Now, I'm sure everyone has their own opinions on the answer to each of those questions... but it's just that: an opinion. There's no objective answer to them, and therein lies the problem. Raid BiS sets, on the other hand, are simple: Anything outside of hardmores is applicable to the pre-HM one, and anything and everything goes in the other. Nothing subjective, nothing to discuss. It is what it is.

This is why it was removed, and why I doubt he will bring it back.

#7 Consider


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Posted 11 December 2010 - 11:58 PM

Indeed. Although I've been a fan of them in the past and still see some value in them, the days of BiS lists are numbered, and it's all thanks to the incredible worth of strength and the flexibility of reforging. In 95% of cases all you have to do is pick the highest ilvl str (dps) piece for a slot and, when there's more than one option (available to you or out of what you're looking at), pick which has the two most favorable secondary stats. Do that for each slot. Once your done, you just use a reforging optimizer (I'm sure a decent one will be available soon; if not, you can do it by hand), to then finish it off.

There are a few rare exceptions to this rule, of course: if you end up with so much hit (or expertise) that you can't reforge all of it off, working around set bonuses, the occasional times when a tanking piece is worth it, and so on. But, by and large, it's very simple to figure out.

I'll continue to provide them, don't get me wrong, but even the most DK-ignorant or math-inept person out there could figure it out... provided they simply knew the ranking of stats (X > Y > Z), which you could likely deduce even without the simulator.

#8 Istial


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Posted 12 December 2010 - 05:27 AM

With the Glyph of Death's Embrace it is possible to gain RP through use of Death Coil on your pet when you have Sudden Doom up; since the Death Coil costs no RP to use and the mechanic of Death's Embrace refunding a portion of the normal cost (instead of reducing the base cost for heal) you will gain 20 RP on use.

I don't understand the purpose of using SD procs on ghoul heals in conjunction with the minor glyph. You gain 20 RP, but you lose the damage of 1 DC...how is this a beneficial trade off? What am I missing?

In the case of having 14 RP and SD up you can either:

Use SD proc on target, gaining 1 stack of SI and dealing 1 DC damage.

Use the SD proc on your pet then DC the target after, gaining 2 stacks of SI and dealing 1 DC of damage.

In simpler terms this would be a trade of a GCD for a SI stack, or in the case that your pet currently under the effect of DT a free pet heal.

This can be entirely situational based on current RP amount, more so for using it as a 'free' pet heal (which could be an entirely redundant use).

#9 Flin


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Posted 12 December 2010 - 06:25 PM

Considering that these fights are taking place over a long period of time, wouldn't it be possible (assuming that there is a DPS gain to be had in the refund) to just use ALL Sudden Doom procs to heal your ghoul so long as the twenty percent will not put you over the RP cap?

Also, the fact that it's a minor glyph means that there's no DPS loss to be had on the glyph end of things.

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Posted 12 December 2010 - 07:00 PM

Just a suggestion: under your "Best Spec" category, you could link to where the theorycrafting was done that supports DW Unholy pulling ahead. I'm sure there are quite a lot of people coming back to the game after being gone for a while that take one look at those results and say "wtf."

#11 Azhe


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Posted 12 December 2010 - 10:12 PM

I don't understand the purpose of using SD procs on ghoul heals in conjunction with the minor glyph. You gain 20 RP, but you lose the damage of 1 DC...how is this a beneficial trade off? What am I missing?

#12 royaljester


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Posted 13 December 2010 - 12:06 AM

Sorry if this has been covered, but I didn't find it and from reading the OP I wasn't sure of the method.

How are people using their blood runes in 2H Unholy? I'm finding that I use SS and FeS but still occasionally have a blood rune sitting there. And unless I missed the wording, it seemed like the proper application had FeS used only to bridge your diseases between Outbreak cd's. What am I missing?

#13 Flin


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Posted 13 December 2010 - 01:22 AM

I don't understand the purpose of using SD procs on ghoul heals in conjunction with the minor glyph. You gain 20 RP, but you lose the damage of 1 DC...how is this a beneficial trade off? What am I missing?

Shadow Infusion stacks from the 20 RP (essentially a bonus 2/3 Death Coil). If you're getting an additional 2/3 Shadow Infusion per Sudden Doom proc (in addition to the DC from the proc alone), depending on your SD procrate (faster for DW, faster at higher gearing levels), it may be worthwhile just to get Dark Transformation up faster.

#14 Consider


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Posted 13 December 2010 - 02:05 AM

Glyph of Death's Embrace will only refund runic power if your Death Coil heals your pet for at least some; i.e, 100% overheal will net you nothing, but a heal of 1 with 99% overheal will. It was changed at one point in beta, largely for scenarios such as the one being discussed.

That said, even in usable situations, unless your pet needs the heal for the sake of a heal, I don't see it worth using. You spend a GCD and get 20 RP, a stack of SI, a chance of RC, and 0 damage. Alternatively, you spend a GCD and get 0 RP, a stack of SI, a chance of RC, and DC's damage. 20 RP doesn't outweigh DC's damage.

#15 Istial


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Posted 13 December 2010 - 02:54 AM

Glyph of Death's Embrace will only refund runic power if your Death Coil heals your pet for at least some; i.e, 100% overheal will net you nothing, but a heal of 1 with 99% overheal will. It was changed at one point in beta, largely for scenarios such as the one being discussed.

I had already tested prior to posting, and just retested now. You still gain 20 RP when you cast on the pet at full health.

You spend a GCD and get 20 RP, a stack of SI, a chance of RC, and 0 damage. Alternatively, you spend a GCD and get 0 RP, a stack of SI, a chance of RC, and DC's damage. 20 RP doesn't outweigh DC's damage.

You are overlooking the ability to cast a second DC assuming you have 14 RP prior to using a SD proc on pet, the 20 RP contributes towards the cost of a second DC. Admittedly I had forgotten to re-add the mention that it may also be only worth using when all runes are still on CD due to the cost of a GCD.

It might even be feasible using the GCD for this instead of using HoW (if the situation occurs).

#16 Consider


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Posted 13 December 2010 - 03:47 AM

So it does. Not sure why they would revert that change. Most illogical.

I wasn't overlooking the additional portion of a DC - that's simply implied in the 20 RP (what else would you be doing with it?!). If you want to break it down further, it would come down to: is that fraction (20/34) of another SI stack, RC proc chance, and DC's damage worth the cost of a GCD and a full DC's damage? Ultimately, yes, if you have the empty GCD available (or if it's just replacing a HoW), if RC isn't already up, if DT isn't already up (or SI is stacked to 5), and if that 20 RP will be sufficient to grant you an additional Death Coil than you would have been able to do otherwise (meaning you had 14<=x<34 runic)...

But if you fail to meet a single one of those conditions? No, and such is going to be the case the majority of the time.

Still, if one is able to recognize and instantly react to the times when those stars do align, yes, it's free dps. But it's not going to be a common scenario by any stretch of the imagination, and if you misjudge (i.e, think you have the free GCD but you really won't, or whatever), you're going to hurt yourself.

#17 Skullbound


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Posted 14 December 2010 - 04:37 AM

Wouldn't DW Unholy be ahead of 2h Unholy during the T11 (Normal) gear either way? Just because dw has a higher chance of procing SD? Or is there something behind that?

#18 Arkhill


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Posted 14 December 2010 - 09:23 AM

If you're at 100RP and Sudden Doom Procs, you fire off a Death Coil. Say Runic Corruption procs, would it be better to wait till the buff fades before using another Death Coil, using a Rune ability and wasting RP, or burning RP with Death Coil and possibly clipping RC?

#19 Flagellum


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Posted 14 December 2010 - 07:38 PM

Just wanted to mention from my personal experiences in heroics (haven't done the raids yet), I would strongly recommend not using Desecration. It tends to hide all the bad things that will one shot you especially if you have your spell graphics turned up all the way. The utility is nice, but that's a moot point if you're dead. Just my opinion/observation.

#20 Max zero

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Posted 14 December 2010 - 08:25 PM

Just wanted to mention from my personal experiences in heroics (haven't done the raids yet), I would strongly recommend not using Desecration. It tends to hide all the bad things that will one shot you especially if you have your spell graphics turned up all the way. The utility is nice, but that's a moot point if you're dead. Just my opinion/observation.

Had the same issue. On Orbital Defense System (probably the first boss most people will fight in BWD) Desecration will cover the blue pools (which give mana/damage boost) and will cover the edge of Green poison pools (increase damage taken).

In the end I specced out of it and it did help the raids positioning.

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