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]
To quote the professor, "Good news, everyone!".
We have several updates and fixes in this patch aimed directly at our spec. Firstly, Unholy has received a scaling adjustment with the addition of +5% to Unholy Might. It's an easy way to throttle damage for us from a development standpoint and it's certainly a boon. The most applaudable update from Blizzard though is in regards to our minions.
At BlizzCon 2011's 'Classes, Items, and Professions Q&A', I posed a two-part question asking why our pets have not been inheriting stats (notably crit) and whether the Gargoyle's AI would be changed for more effective use of his ranged ability. My friend and fellow Death Knight, Magdalena of Darkspear-US, began a follow-up thread directly after the convention to foster even further discussion and attention to these issues. Within a week of Blizzcon, the thread received a Community Manager response from Kaivax stating that the patch and its notes were being updated to specifically address and correct the problems we had brought to their attention.
As listed in the 4.3 patch notes, Death Knight pets now properly inherit their masterâ€™s crit/spell penetration stats and our Gargoyle should exclusively use its ranged attack regardless of range to the target.
No adjustments have been made here. This build continues to take all the key damage abilities to make you, your trusted 2H, and Timmy the Ghoul a force of (un)nature.
Your first choice comes at the cusp of tier 3 in Unholy to fulfill the base point requirement:
- Unholy Command
Unholy Command can be useful if you frequently use Death Grip to reel-in mobs or want a pre-requisite talent that does not impose a snare. Unless you are speccing for add control, this talent would carry the most recommendation.
Desecration is an AoE snare applied via Plague Strikes, Scourge Strikes and Necrotic Strikes to non-immune targets. Several encounters benefit from slowing effects and having a snare in melee can be a boon to keep the mobs localized. The downside of Desecration is that it can be a deterrant where mobility is required. There is no 'off' button for Desecrate so it can cause control issues where adds must be relocated quickly.
- Resilient Infection
If there were bosses that dispelled themselves, this might actually be worthwhile in PvE. Pass.
After the necessities in Unholy are taken care of, assign the 5 points as suggested in Blood talents.
Now we arrive at the final 3 points. These last talent points can be spent at your discretion amongst the following abilities:
- Improved Blood Tap
Extra runes equal more DPS. The caveat associated with IBT is whether it will be available when you both need the runes and have the GCD to make use of them. Talents reduce its cooldown by 15s/point.
- Scent of Blood
Boss AoEâ€™s rarely qualify for Scent of Blood so this talent is lackluster if not masochistic.
- Blade Barrier
If you really want to enhance the frugality of your healer, you can pick this talent up for some added damage reduction, but our standard cooldowns are sufficient.
- Scarlet Fever
This provides an amazing debuff but itâ€™s one that should already be supplied by your tanks. Also note that Scarlet Fever does not apply a disease that would synergize with Scourge Strike.
- Hand of Doom
This talent reduces the cooldown of Strangulate to 1 min. This is more provisional for PvP but providing more reliable cast control, and a ranged one at that, can allow for the occasional 'clinch' interrupt.
- Runic Power Mastery
Since Runic Corruption procs no longer override each other (they stack 3 second extensions to the buff) we can Death Coil without fear of wasting rune regeneration. RPM will allow you to collect more total RP and successively Death Coil to reach Dark Transformation faster. 1/3 Runic Power Mastery is definitely recommended and all thatâ€™s required. More investment in this talent provides diminished benefits. Your gains and expenditures of RP (besides sudden AMS pops) will have you below 100 for a majority of the time anyway.
If you didnâ€™t choose it as your 1st utility, you could assign points here now. See above to read the details on this talent. It is of some benefit with situational minuses.
- Resilient Infection
Again, this is a very lackluster considering its lack of PvE application.
- Deathâ€™s Advance
This talent would be welcomed for any fights that repeatedly impose snares. It's of little PvE interest otherwise.
- Magic Suppression
2/3 of Magic Suppression is an excellent choice based on the frequency of this spellâ€™s use. You could also go back and finish 3/3 for even more survivability and healer friendliness. It provides situational enhancements to your RP generation which translates into some DPS.
- Optional: Anti-Magic Zone
If you decided to finish 3/3 of the previous talent, you could take your personal/group magic protection a step further. AMZ has a 2 minute cooldown which can be of benefit for stationary phase events. AMZ opportunities are explained in more detail in the Raid Strategies section of this guide.
- [Glyph of Death Coil] or (AoE) [Glyph of Icy Touch]
- [Glyph of Scourge Strike] or (AoE) [Glyph of Death and Decay]
- [Glyph of Raise Dead]
1[/hr]=Priority & Play=Playing 2H Unholy means maintaining a challenging & fun priority system while artfully commanding Timmy to do your bidding. Fixed rotations are long gone and weâ€™re better for it.
> Dark Transformation
> Death and Decay/Scourge Strike (UU or Death Runes are up)
> Festering Strike (BB and FF are up)
> Death Coil (Sudden Doom, high RP)
> Death and Decay/Scourge Strike
> Festering Strike
> Horn of Winter[/TABLE]
From the start of combat, cast Outbreak to apply your diseases quickly. If Outbreak is unavailable for whatever reason, apply diseases individually via Icy Touch and Plague Strike. The ticking damage from our diseases is minor, but the synergy that they provide is paramount. The first element of synergy is that when you cast Icy Touch/Plague Strike/Outbreak, Ebon Plague will also be applied. Ebon Plague weakens your target to all magical damage by an additional 8% and represents an important raid-wide debuff. Also, for each disease you apply to a target, your Scourge Strike will deal an additional 18% of the physical damage done as shadow damage.
Your Death Coils, aside from damaging your target, will apply a Shadow Infusion buff on your Ghoul which is capable of stacking up to 5 times. The player can consume the 5 charges of Shadow Infusions on the Ghoul to transform it into a powerful undead monstrosity for 30 seconds. A huge factor in your overall DPS is maximizing Dark Transformation's uptime (see the Mods section in this guide for suggestions about monitoring DT and Shadow Infusion). It is key that you super-size Timmy as often and as quickly as you can. If your runes are cooling down while you have 5 charges of Shadow Infusion, remember that Blood Tap is a Death Rune activator that may enable you to DT faster (read more on BT's mechanic below). One can also reserve Runic Power during an active Dark Transformation for quick reapplication of Shadow Infusion stacks the moment Timmy returns to normal. As a general rule, you will want to 'throttle' your non-Sudden Doom Death Coil usage so that you approach the RP cap just as DT fades.
Death and Decay/Scourge Strike
Death and Decay is a solid tick that requires minor effort to place. Regardless that it is an AoE, it is still a DPS gain to use it on a single target. Astute observation of the current fight's mechanics will be key to maximizing the damage. The most frustrating and unfortunate situation is when you have just cast Death and Decay and the mob moves or the dynamics of the fight shifts. Whenever possible, plan ahead to avoid losing potential DnD damage. If it means deferring DnD until the target it situated or when the timing will align with phases or periods of movement, so be it.
Scourge Strike is our hard hitter and is similarly high in priority. Scourge Strike will replace Death and Decay when it is on cooldown.
In the continued philosophy of utilizing our runes and managing cooldowns, supplement your priority with Festering Strike. With Reaping (from our Unholy specialization), the runes consumed by Festering Strike will become death runes when they reactivate. Also, Festering Strike serves the very important purpose of adding 6 seconds to your diseases. Mechanics allowing, our diseases should nearly always auto-renew themselves. Itâ€™s like watering a plant of doom. At the very least, Festering Strike bridges the gap between Outbreak cooldowns.
Similar to efficient rune expenditure, we want to capitalize on Sudden Doom procs. With Runic Corruptionâ€™s mechanic revamped in past patches, we no longer have to worry about overriding our rune regeneration. Death Coil may be done freely to make use of Sudden Doom procs, to build Shadow Infusion stacks quickly (as prioritized above in Dark Transformation), and to avoid the RP cap. Although itâ€™s not a necessity to visually track Runic Corruption anymore, itâ€™s still nice to see your uptime and gains (see Mods if youâ€™re interested).
Death and Decay/Scourge Strike and Festering Strike
This is your â€˜rinse and repeatâ€™ in order when you have runes (and the cooldown) available.
Horn of Winter
When all else fails, you can toot your horn for RP and to maintain its uptime for yourself and cohorts. Itâ€™s a step above twiddling your thumbs if you have a vacant GCD that cannot be filled with Engineering bombs.
Diseases + Pestilence
> Dark Transformation
> Death and Decay/Scourge Strike (UU or Death Runes are up)
> Blood Boil (BB and FF are up)
> Death Coil (Sudden Doom, high RP)
> Icy Touch [/TABLE]
By AoE fight, I do not just mean multiple targets. For your standard dungeon pull, you would still use the â€˜Single Targetâ€™ as above. This AOE priority is written for the cultist packs in Bastion, the non-elite cultists before High Priestess Azil, roaming Trogg packs, minion patrols, and other mass pulls. In these cases, you will want to switch momentarily to Frost Presence.
If any of the mobs will survive for more than a few seconds, it is worthwhile to Pestilence. One caveat on this: do not Pestilence if it will pull an adjoining group or if there is a CC nearby. This is particularly noteworthy if you are glyphed for extended range on Pestilence. Mages get really frustrated when their sheep spasms with cooties and comes to cough in their face.
Is still of equally high importance. Same as with single target priority.
Death and Decay/Scourge Strike
Same as with single target priority.
Blood Boil, for Unholy DKâ€™s, always results in a leftover Frost rune which can only be used offensively for Icy Touch. We'll capitalize on the Frost rune lowest in our priority.
Same as with single target priority.
If no other attacks are available, make use of any leftover Frost runes.
As with 4.2, 'Assist' will remain the standard command stance for our pet, Timmy.
For extra control, bind his Attack/Follow/Stay & Huddle commands to keys/buttons you can access quickly (I use Shift + letters, but whatever works for you). For the most part, Timmy is a resilient pet. He has an unspoken 90% AoE damage reduction and can be healed by your Death Coil (discounted healing with Glyph of Deathâ€™s Embrace). Rather than putting your pet on cruise control, it's far better to have an awareness of him and his actions (particularly given the AI's observable hiccups). It will greatly help survivability, group tactics, and your DPS.
Raise Ally is instant cast, costs 50 Runic Power, and has a 10-minute cooldown. The requisite Runic Power means you must be in the midst of combat activity and temporarily forgo your personal DPS for the benefit of returning others to the field. It shares the same global battle resurrection cap with other players, so like our Druid and Warlock rezzers, communication with the raid before and during an encounter is required. Only one manner of resurrection is allowed in a 10-man and three within a 25-man fight (excluding self-resurrections) so there is stressed value in using it wisely. Also be aware that Death Knight resurrection brings the player back with just 20% health and mana so if another rezzer has a superior resurrection effect, defer to them whenever possible. Resurrections have raid saving potential so don't waste it by selecting the wrong person or watching someone accept prematurely. Often people are so eager to be rezzed that they will immediately take their resurrection and get killed again. Macros or Ventrilo are both fine ways to warn the recipient to take their rez with discretion.
Using Anti-Magic Shell intelligently is one of the key aspects that separates the 'good' Death Knights from the 'great' ones. AMS provides a two-fold benefit and understanding it well will optimize your play.
Firstly, AMS is a powerful defensive ability that absorbs 75% (83%/91%/100% Magic Suppression) of the damage dealt by harmful spells up to 50% of your total health and prevents the application of harmful magical effects. In heavy damage situations, this is a lifesaver and aids on healing resources.
Secondly, and often underutilized, is AMS's DPS boon. Damage absorption (again via Magic Suppression) will cause you to become 'energized' and generate a substantial amount of Runic Power. When you can anticipate AMS a few seconds ahead of time, make sure to have very low RP so that you do not cap while energizing.
The only caveat associated with AMS is not to use it when you a required to get a magical debuff. One example of this is Elementium Monstrosity where you have to get the grounded or levitated debuff to survive. These are rare situations but worth keeping in mind.
Observed offensive and defensive AMS usages are explained in greater detail within the Raid Strategies section.
Don't forget that you have a myriad of interrupts, Icebound Fortitude (which now breaks stuns), Death Strike, Death Pact, and Army of the Dead (i.e. as aggro fodder). Death Strike consumes a valuable rune and Death Pact is a last resort, but these can sometimes make the difference between a dead boss and a dead you.
Unholy Frenzy can be a potent enrage cast in exchange for a small expenditure of health. Unholy Frenzy and Heroism/Time Warp/Bloodlust do not stack, hence the former should be saved until the latter has worn off.
It should be noted, however, that Unholy Frenzy's benefit will become more variable in this patch due to increasing haste figures on gear. Depending on your personal stat values, you will encounter at least one, or possibly two, haste breakpoints in this tier. The first breakpoint, valued at ~1600 personal haste, will provide the Gargoyle an attack speed that exceeds its own global cooldown of 1.5 seconds. Effectively, any inherited haste beyond this point can have no effect for him: the Gargoyle is GCD locked. The second possible breakpoint in this tier occurs for the player at ~2600 haste. Not to be confused with a hard cap, this benchmark merely represents when rune regeneration rates create diminishing returns via rune capping. The easiest test for determining when/if you want to use Unholy Frenzy on yourself is whether you become GCD locked, simple as that.
Blood Tap activates a Blood Rune and converts it to a Death Rune. The cost is a tithe of health (6%) or free if you glyph for it. Its relatively short cooldown will allow you use it frequently provided you arenâ€™t capped for GCD or â€˜global cooldownâ€™. Meaning: if you are in a GCD capped situation where your actions are limited, donâ€™t bother activating runes you canâ€™t use anyways.
Empower Rune Weapon
A potent reset button to activate all your runes and generate 25 runic power. With a 5 minute cooldown this will generally equate to a 1/boss fight use. This is best paired when you have Unholy Frenzy, Bloodlust, or Time Warp up and have expended your runes. Absolutely great for burst DPS.
Army of the Dead
Bit of a long channel so it's best to cast either just before the pull, during a phase change, or when things go south. Army Ghouls will taunt adds and normal mobs in combat so have that in mind before using. You might be screaming "No, no, no!" and all they hear is "Who wants cake? Who wants cake!?". Let me tell you something: They all do. They all want cake.
[TABLE="head"]Type | Options
Flask | [Flask of Titanic Strength]
Potion | [Golemblood Potion]
Food | [Beer Basted Crocolisk] [Fortune Cookie] [Feasts][/TABLE] 1[/hr]=Character Optimization=
For our purposes, races will be listed in the order of most optimized to least optimized within each faction.
Viciousness | 1% critical strike
Darkflight | Increased movement speed by 40% for 10 seconds (2 min cooldown)
Aberration | 64 shadow and nature resistance at level 85
Running Wild | Increase ground speed by 60%/100%
Flayer | Skinning skill increased by 15 and allows you to skin faster
Two Forms| Turn into your currently inactive form[/TABLE]
Verdict: More crit and movement increasing effects are stellar for any melee DPS class. Alliance Death Knights looking to optimize will therefore find Worgen of the most interest.
Heroic Presence | 1% melee and spell hit (raid boss hit cap = 841 hit rating)
Gift of the Naaru | Heals the target for 20% of their total health over 15 sec. (3 min cooldown)
Gemcutting | Jewelcrafting skill increased by 10
Shadow Resistance | 1 point shadow resistance per character level[/TABLE]
Verdict: 1% hit will reduce the cap and allow for some more creative reforging. The free self-heal is on par with a post-kill glyphed Death Strike and operates over the course of 15 seconds.
Every Man for Himself | Removes movement & control impairing effects (2 min cooldown)
Diplomacy | Reputation gains increased by 10%
Mace & Sword Specialization | 3 expertise
The Human Spirit | 3% spirit[/TABLE]
Verdict: The added expertise is beneficial if you conveniently happen to equip such a weapon. Asides from that potential, the ability to simulatanously run away and still be well liked gets an impressed nod. Humans will fare the best through reputation grinds.
Stoneform | Remove poison, disease, and bleed effects; +10% damage reduction for 8 seconds (2 min cooldown)
Mace Specialization | 3 expertise
Frost Resistance | 1 point frost resistance per character level
Explorer | Archaeology increased by 15 points and allows for faster surveying
Gun Specialization | 1% crit with guns[/TABLE]
Verdict: Dwarves also have a potential addition to expertise and a nice ability to counteract common status effects. Stoneform is a bit less desirable than Every Man for Himself on the basis that mobility is still preferred.
Escape Artist | Escape immobilization or movement speed reduction effect (1.5 min cooldown)
Shortblade Specialization | 3 expertise with daggers and 1h swords
Arcane Resistance | 1 point arcane resistance per character level
Engineering Specialization | Engineering increased by 15 points
Expansive Mind | 5% mana[/TABLE]
[TABLE="head"]Night Elf |
Shadowmeld | Stationary stealth (2 min cooldown)
Quickness | Reduces the chance of melee/ranged attackes hit you by 2%
Wisp Spirit | 75% increased death speed (+25% than other races)
Nature Resistance | 1 point nature resistance per character level[/TABLE]
Verdict: Being a Night Elf provides no tangible benefit for Death Knights, but hide-and-go-seek with Darion Mograine will have acceptable results.
Blood Fury | Increase attack/spell power for 15 seconds (2 min cooldown)
Command | 5% pet damage
Axe Specialization | 3 expertise with axes
Hardiness | 15% stun duration reduction[/TABLE]
Verdict: If you made a shopping list of the the bonuses you would want to give an Unholy DK, it would almost certainly include pet damage and attack power. Given that Orcs have both of these and, maybe even a smidge of extra expertise, they make the best Horde race for Unholy Death Knights. Orcs may also be the universal winner by a small margin (it was a very close sim between the green guys and the monocle dogs).
Time is Money | 1% attack speed
Rocket Jump | Jump forward (2 min cooldown, shared with Rocket Barrage)
Rocket Barrage | launches rockets at enemy (2 min cooldown, shared with Rocket Jump)
Best Deals Anywhere | receive the best discount regardless of faction
Pack Hobgoblin | Bank access 1 minute (30 min cooldown)
Better Living Through Chemistry | Alchemy increased by 15 points[/TABLE]
Verdict: Goblin racials are rather amazing for melee DPS like Death Knights. Goblins are closely ranked with Worgen, and in Horde-only terms, are just behind Orcs.
Berserking | 20% increased attack speed for 10 seconds (3 min cooldown)
Da Voodoo Shuffle | 15% reduction of movement impairing effects
Regeneration | Health regen rate increased by 10%, 10% of total regeneration during combat
Beast Slaying | 5% damage versus beasts
Throwing Specialization | 1% crit with throwing weapons
Bow Specialization | 1% crit with bows[/TABLE]
Verdict: A short haste bonus and a snare reduction isn't bad, but it's a downgrade in comparison to Orcs and Goblins.
[TABLE="head"]Blood Elf |
Arcane Torrent | Silence all enemies within 8yds for 2 seconds and gain 15 runic power (2 min cooldown)
Arcane Affinity | Enchanting increased by 10
Magic Resistance | 1 point arcane resistance per character level[/TABLE]
Verdict: The silence can be helpful when Mind Freeze is down or when you just want an ounce of free RP to Death Coil. Asides from that, you're basically joining this race for the hair: the superbly immaculate hair.
Will of the Forsaken | Removes charm, fear, and sleep (2 min cooldown)
Cannibalize | Regen 7% health every 2 seconds for 10 seconds (2 min cooldown)
Shadow Resistance | 1 point shadow resistance per character level
Underwater Breathing | 233% duration[/TABLE]
Verdict: Will of the Forsaken would be impressive if charm, fear, and sleep were more common in PVE. Since they're not, sadly there's not much benefit here for Death Knights.
War Stomp | Stuns up to 5 enemies within 8yds for 2 seconds (2 min cooldown)
Endurance | Base health increased by 5%
Nature Resistance | 1 point nature resistance per character level
Cultivation | Herbalism increased by 15 points and speeds the gathering process [/TABLE]
Verdict: Tauren are on par with Night Elves in regards to lacking useful PVE racials.
[table="head"]Name | Benefit
Alchemy | Mixology adds an additional 80 strength on to [Flask of Titanic Strength] and increases the duration of all alchemical consumables
Blacksmithing | Smithing allows for an extra socket in your bracers and gloves netting 100 strength (2x [Bold Queen's Garnet]).
Enchanting | [Enchant Ring - Strength] can be used on both rings for a total of 80 additional strength
Engineering | Engineers can add [Synapse Springs] to gloves (480 strength * 10s/ 60s cooldown = passive 80 strength) and it stacks with normal enchants
Herbalism | Herbalists have the castable [Lifeblood] ability (480 haste * 20s / 2 min cooldown = passive 80 haste)
Inscription | [Lionsmane Inscription] is an alternative to the Therazane faction reward shoulder enchant
Jewelcrafting | 3 x to socket into your gear instead of 3 x [Bold Queen's Garnet] equates to 51 extra strength
Leatherworking | Leatherworkers can add [Draconic Embossment] to wrists and is 80 strength superior to what enchanters can provide.
Mining | Miners receive a 120 stamina buff
Skinning | Skinners receive a 80 critical strike rating bonus
Tailoring | Tailors can sew [Swordguard Embroidery] into cloaks but it does not stack with [Enchant Cloak - Greater Critical Strike] so it's generally considered less desirable 1[/hr]=Gear Optimization=
It has been determined that stat weights will shift if you possess [Gurthalak, Voice of the Deeps].
As such, the weights and stat priorities have been split into two categories.
[table="head"]Stat | Weight
Strength | 3.65
Hit (to cap)| 3.00
Expertise (to cap)|0.99
Adjusted Weights for 4pc Tier and [Gurthalak, Voice of the Deeps]
[table="head"]Stat | Weight
Strength | 3.65
Hit (to cap)| 3.90
Expertise (to cap)|1.43
Many thanks to Tsukiyuri of Dragonmaw-US for providing this updated Gurthalak data.
Weights were determined using simulations at 50k iterations with modified stat deltas (particularly, a negative haste delta to adjust for the breakpoint).
[table="head"]Standard Stat Priority
Strength > Hit to Cap > Haste > Crit > Mastery > Expertise to Cap > Agility
[table="head"]Adjusted Stat Priority for Gurthalak Owners
Strength > Hit to Cap > Haste > Mastery >= Crit > Expertise to Cap > Agility
Hit to cap is still as important as ever. If you miss a lot, thatâ€™s 0 damage on a frequent basis. Meters can't discriminate whether your damage suffered because of low hit rating or because you were too busy watching Fresh Prince reruns to pay attention to the boss (the latter is slightly more acceptable). Also keep in mind that your Ghoul inherits your stats (with hit rating no longer rounding down), so be a good influence on Timmy (for a note on Timmy's inheritance, see the Appendix).
At approximately 120.11 hit rating per 1% hit, it takes 961 hit rating to become hit soft-capped for a raid boss (841 for Draenei). There is a certain leniency for being slightly over or slightly under, but you want to negotiate this very carefully. When in doubt, test yourself on a target dummy for extended lengths of time or run your characterâ€™s paper doll through simulations for a very general idea of how it will affect your real performance.
Your GCD is affected by various factors such as expertise, Heroism/Bloodlust effects, Runic Corruption, your connection speed and so forth. To repeat what was said earlier, depending on your personal stat values, you will encounter at least one or possibly two haste breakpoints in this tier. The first breakpoint, valued at ~1600 personal haste, will provide the Gargoyle an attack speed that exceeds its own global cooldown of 1.5 seconds. Effectively, any inherited haste beyond this point can have no effect for him: the Gargoyle is GCD locked. The second possible breakpoint in this tier occurs for the player at ~2600 haste. Not to be confused with a hard cap, this benchmark merely represents when rune regeneration rates create diminishing returns via rune capping.
The best way to approach haste itemization is whether or not you personally experience GCD locks. If you have no trouble expending resources, haste remains highly favored, simple as that.
Naturally, the fixes applied to minion stat inheritance has modified our stat priority selection. Unless you specifically have Gurthalak, Crit will now overtake its other linear counterpart, mastery, quite handily as a preferred stat and something of a 'dark horse' .
If you possess Gurthalak, mastery begins to edge out crit by a small margin. Otherwise, mastery will contribute less to your overall damage than crit would.
At approximately 30.0272 rating per point, expertise is barely interesting as a DPS stat. It is rated rather low priority until the 'soft cap' of 781 rating (i.e. 26 expertise) whereupon it decreases even further. Plain and simple, do not be concerned with reaching any certain amount of expertise.
In regards to reforging your gear, start with the hit cap and manage your DPS stat priority as above. Haste and crit are the highest priority with the others trailing sequentially in conversion to damage. Iâ€™d recommend taking a look at Wow Reforge to help you make your reforging decisions outside of the game. When using Wow Reforge's site for Unholy, expertise is of little consequence but you will need to specify your hit rating for 'close to' 961 (or 841 Draenei). By choosing 'close to', the calculator attempts to reforge your gear to the specified hit cap number but it also considers reforges in a tight threshold around the cap. It weighs the various configurations by the stats they provide and ranks them from highest to lowest in EP value. It may be that your optimum reforge puts you exactly at hit cap or it could put you a point over or under because the DPS is rated better. It will simply depend on your race and assortment of gear.
Reforge calculators require a lot of complicated math so always double check your results for accuracy. Report any anomalies to the site owner to improve the reliability of the tool.
Tips for Reforging:
- Your first calculation for reforging should be for your hit rating. Sometimes you will want to reforge away hit on one item only to add it back on another. Ex: forging hit to haste on Item A and forging crit to hit on Item B where haste already exists.
- Don't reforge away haste unless you are experiencing GCD locks.
- Reforge unnecessary hit, mastery, and expertise into haste and crit at every available opportunity (or haste and mastery if you have Gurthalak).
4.3 introduces new gems which are available through raiding. They are similarly named, beefier versions of the gems you are used to.
[table="head"] Color | Name
Red | [Bold Queen's Garnet]
Yellow | [Fierce Lava Coral]
Blue | [Etched Shadow Spinel]
You will defer to the red gem unless the socket bonus would provide more strength or an important secondary stat. For example, let's say you had a piece of gear with a red socket, a yellow socket, and a +20 strength socket bonus. If you ignored the socket bonus and gemmed 2x [Bold Queen's Garnet], you would have a straightforward gain of 100 strength. On the other hand, if you gemmed 1x [Bold Queen's Garnet] and 1x [Fierce Lava Coral], you would gain 95 strength (75+ 20 from the bonus) and 25 haste. Applying our stat weights, it's easy to see that it's an upgrade to follow the socket bonus (by about ~30dps).
Never gem expressly for hit, even if you are under the cap. Given the stat priority discussed earlier, it is a greater DPS sin to miss out on potential strength. Reforging is the best and most flexible method to negotiate the proper hit rating. If, however, an extra 50 rating would fit into your calculations more neatly, I have included the optional 50 hit rating to boots in the enchants section below.
Our meta has not changed with 4.3 despite the other new gems. The requirements of this meta will be exceptionally easy to attain.
The best and clear choice for those with Jewelcrafting as a tradeskill. Again, no change yet in 4.3.
[TABLE="head"]Slot | Enchant | Alternate
Head | [Arcanum of the Wildhammer] [Arcanum of the Dragonmaw] | -
Shoulder | [Greater Inscription of Jagged Stone] | [Lionsmane Inscription] via Inscription
Back | [Enchant Cloak - Greater Critical Strike] | -
Chest | [Enchant Chest - Peerless Stats] | -
Wrist | [Enchant Bracer - Major Strength] | [Draconic Embossment] via Leatherworking
Hands | [Enchant Gloves - Mighty Strength] | [Synapse Springs] via Engineering (stacks)
Rings | | [Enchant Ring - Strength] via Enchanting
Legs | [Dragonscale Leg Armor] | -
Feet | [Enchant Boots - Haste] | [Enchant Boots - Precision]
Weapon | [Rune of the Fallen Crusader] | -
[table='head']Slot| Pre-Deathwing (6/8) | | Deathwing Included (7/8+) | |
Head | [Visage of Petrification] | Valor Points (2200) | [Visage of Petrification] | Valor Points (2200)
Neck | [Necklace of Black Dragon's Teeth] | Valor Points (1250) | [Necklace of Black Dragon's Teeth] | Valor Points (1250)
Shoulders| [Necrotic Boneplate Pauldrons] | Hagara | [Necrotic Boneplate Pauldrons] | Hagara
Back | [Dreamcrusher Drape] | Valor Points (1250) | [Dreamcrusher Drape] | Valor Points (1250)
Chest | [Necrotic Boneplate Breastplate] | Ultraxion | [Necrotic Boneplate Breastplate] | Ultraxion
Wrist | [Bracers of Destructive Strength] | Blacksmithing | [Bracers of Destructive Strength] | Blacksmithing
Hands | [Necrotic Boneplate Gauntlets] | Warlord Zon'ozz | [Necrotic Boneplate Gauntlets] | Warlord Zon'ozz
Waist | [Bonescriven Demon Collar] | Hagara | [Bonescriven Demon Collar] | Hagara
Legs | [Necrotic Boneplate Greaves] | Yor'sahj | [Necrotic Boneplate Greaves] | Yor'sahj
Feet | [Kneebreaker Boots] | Valor (1650) | [Kneebreaker Boots] | Valor (1650)
Ring 1 | [Breathstealer Band] | All Bosses Except Deathwing | [Breathstealer Band] | All Bosses Except Deathwing
Ring 2 | [Curled Twilight Claw] | Ultraxion | [Curled Twilight Claw] | Ultraxion
Trinket 1| [Eye of Unmaking] | (LFR) Spine of Deathwing | [Eye of Unmaking] | (LFR) Spine of Deathwing
Trinket 2| [Bone-Link Fetish] | All Bosses Except Deathwing | [Bone-Link Fetish] | All Bosses Except Deathwing
Weapon | [Gurthalak, Voice of the Deeps] | (LFR) Madness of Deathwing | [Gurthalak, Voice of the Deeps] | Madness of Deathwing
Relic | [Gutripper Shard] | Valor Points (700) | [Gutripper Shard] | Valor Points (700)
The above list utilizes every available gearing opportunity before stepping into Heroic Dragonsoul.
[table='head']Slot| Pre-Deathwing (6/8) | | Deathwing Included (7/8+) |
Head | [Necrotic Boneplate Helmet] | (H) Warmaster Blackhorn |[Necrotic Boneplate Helmet] | (H) Warmaster Blackhorn
Neck | [Necklace of Black Dragon's Teeth] | Valor Points (1250) |[Necklace of Black Dragon's Teeth] | Valor Points (1250)
Shoulders| [Necrotic Boneplate Pauldrons] | (H) Hagara |[Backbreaker Spaulders] | (H) Spine of Deathwing
Back | [Dreamcrusher Drape] | Valor Points (1250) |[Dreamcrusher Drape] | Valor Points (1250)
Chest | [Necrotic Boneplate Breastplate] | (H) Ultraxion |[Necrotic Boneplate Breastplate] | (H) Ultraxion
Wrist | [Rockhide Bracers] | (H) Morchok |[Rockhide Bracers] | (H) Morchok
Hands | [Necrotic Boneplate Gauntlets] | (H) Warlord Zon'ozz |[Necrotic Boneplate Gauntlets] | (H) Warlord Zon'ozz
Waist | [Bonescriven Demon Collar] | (H) Hagara |[Bonescriven Demon Collar] | (H) Hagara
Legs | [Necrotic Boneplate Greaves] | (H) Yor'sahj |[Necrotic Boneplate Greaves] | (H) Yor'sahj
Feet | [Treads of Crushed Flesh] | (H) Warlord Zon'ozz |[Treads of Crushed Flesh] | (H) Warlord Zon'ozz
Ring 1 | [Breathstealer Band] | (H) All Bosses Except Deathwing |[Breathstealer Band] | (H) All Bosses Except Deathwing
Ring 2 | [Curled Twilight Claw] | (H) Ultraxion |[Curled Twilight Claw] | (H) Ultraxion
Trinket 1| [Creche of the Final Dragon] | (H) Ultraxion |[Eye of Unmaking] | (H) Spine of Deathwing
Trinket 2| [Bone-Link Fetish] | (H) All Bosses Except Deathwing |[Bone-Link Fetish] | (H) All Bosses Except Deathwing
Weapon | [Gurthalak, Voice of the Deeps] | Madness of Deathwing |[Gurthalak, Voice of the Deeps] | (H) Madness of Deathwing
Relic | [Gutripper Shard] | Valor Points (700) |[Gutripper Shard] | Valor Points (700)
Given the percentage of players who completed the final encounter in Tier 12, the BiS lists are divided into Pre-Deathwing and 7/8+ encounters. Essentially this is done to support a wider base of players if the Deathwing fights become exclusive due to difficulty. This will be less of a concern (if any) for non-Hardmodes, but I elected to maintain the separation in both levels of raiding for consistency's sake.
In regards to gemming, all sets (Pre-Hardmodes and Hardmodes) will use the matching red, orange, or blue selections discussed earlier in order to meet the socket bonuses for each piece. Gemming is very straightforward this time.
[table="head"]Tier 13 | Bonus
2 Piece | Sudden Doom has a 30% chance and Rime has a 60% chance to grant 2 charges when triggered instead of 1.
4 Piece | Runic Empowerment has a 25% chance and Runic Corruption has a 40% chance to also grant 710 mastery rating for 12 sec when activated.
The values of non-tier vs. tier per slot is incredibly close in several situations (as little as ~0-1 dps) so our BiS maintains that we achieve our set bonuses despite whatever RNG may provide.
Trinket evaluation, in the most basic form, is done by calculating the estimated DPS value. Uptime will be deteriminate on an assumed internal cooldown for Proc-variety trinkets or the listed cooldown for Use-variety trinkets.
Assumptions Regarding Trinkets
- All items are given maximum uptime. Proc-variety trinkets and Use-variety trinkets will, in reality, have comparable uptimes. Proc-variety trinkets have a shorter (internal) cooldown but procs are not guaranteed to occur immediately after the ICD has been reached.
- Trinkets with the description "Chance on attack to boost X by Y for Z seconds" do not have their cooldowns listed within the tooltip. Generally, proc internal cooldown will equal 5x the effect's duration.
1[/hr]=Mods=Some people are content with the out-of-the-box game experience, but others feel like they can play and monitor their character better with additional tools.
Doc's Debug Runes (link)
A combined rune, runic power, disease, proc, Dark Transformation, Runic Empowerment, Runic Corruption, Blood Shield and Death Strike heal display. Visually simple but very effective, DDR uses short bars to display runes, diseases, power and specific procs.
Magic Runes (link)
If you want a more aesthetic minded rune watch, Magic Runes also provides a really nice view of your runes with several chart type variations. It's very straightforward and graphically clean. It does not show your procs or special cooldowns (for better or worse), so you will need to set up other mods if you prefer having those features.
Death Knight Monitor (runes) (link)
DKM displays the most relevant stuff for a deathknight like runes, runic power, diseases and procs. It is inspired by RuneWatch and while being much more minimalistic, it sports a lot more features like independent positioning of every UI element, UI element sticking, rune prioritisation and a lot more.
CLCDK is a class HUD featuring disease durations, GCD timer, ability timers, runic power, runes, and an optional suggestion box.
What this mod should do is show you Runic Power, special cooldowns (Gargoyle/Army), Runes, and disease timers in 1 add on.
What this mod should NOT do is replace your brain. Blindly mimicking its suggestions will produce ignorant, lazy play. After all, weâ€™re trying to break the negative stereotype of our class, not reinforce it.
Used properly, the suggestion box can serve as a friendly reminder for when diseases reach low time or a cooldown is ready. Thatâ€™s a fine and reasonable use of a tool, just donâ€™t confuse what it says you CAN do with what you actually SHOULD. You can also completely turn off the suggestion box if you don't like it or if you'd prefer more space.
NeedToKnow lets you monitor specific buffs, debuffs, and totems as timer bars that always appear in a consistent place on your screen. You can track yourself, others, your target, your pet, and much more. This mod is fantastic to let you watch your Shadow Infusion stacks, Dark Transformation timers, Anti-Magic Shell, and Runic Corruption uptime. You can set colors, scaling, and different groups of bars. Very customizable and user friendly.
Deadly Boss Mods (link)
Deadly Boss Mods is a boss alert mod. It consists of many individual "boss modules", mini addons that are designed to trigger alert messages and timer bars for one specific raid boss each. Instance modules will be loaded and enabled when you enter the corresponding instance. If you donâ€™t already have this, get it yesterday. I have glowing recommendations for all its included features.
Recount is a graphical combat log meter complete with damage, healing, and more. This is the â€˜Howâ€™s My Driving?â€™ equivalent of your DPS performance. Everyone has a job and ours is to put up big numbers. Hold yourself accountable by knowing your output and surpassing the expectations of others. I consider this mod another 'must have'.
ReforgeSaver allows you to save and restore reforging profiles for your equipped items. Equip the items you want and reforge them as desired. When you're done, click the "Save" button on top of the Reforging frame and choose a name for your profile. You can restore your profile at any time by selecting it from the dropdown menu and clicking "Reforge". It will display how much gold the total reforge will cost and begin reforging once you confirm. This is extremely helpful if you frequently switch between specs and/or different sets of gear.
Power Auras (link)
This addon was created to provide visual cues (auras) when you gain buffs, debuffs and many more. Very useful for shorts buffs or debuffs, it allows you to draw in the center of the screen, or around your character, very customizable visual effects, rather than having to look at or mouseover buff/debuff icons/actionbars.
Weak Auras (link)
WeakAuras is a flexible framework that allows you to display customizable graphics on your screen to indicate buffs, debuffs, and a whole host of similar types of information. It was originally meant to be a lightweight replacement for Power Auras, but it now incorporates many features that Power Auras does not. 1[/hr]=Macros=Macros expand your ability to customize and automate certain actions via sequences of slash commands. If you are unfamiliar with how to make macros, I recommend reading WoWWikiâ€™s â€˜Making a Macroâ€™ guide. Donâ€™t let the involvement of code deter you from macros. Theyâ€™re generally very simple to write or, even better, just copy and paste ones that have already been created (as below).
Revised Attacks Macro
If you lack the runes to use an ability, this mod will clear the red error text on the top of your screen and your auto-attack will still begin. I use this macro for each of my major melee abilties where â€˜Nameâ€™ is the spell/ability.
#showtooltip Name /startattack /cast Name /script UIErrorsFrame:Clear();Ghoul Claw
If you experience problems with Timmy hoarding energy, then this macro will still prove of use.
#showtooltip /cast Scourge Strike /cast [@pettarget,harm] ClawDeath Coil Pet Heal Toggle
By using modifier keys, you can toggle between a self-heal, pet heal, or damage a target as normal.
#showtooltip /cast [mod:ctrl, @pet] Death CoilMax Camera Distance
This isn't so much of a macro as it is a one-time slash command. The following script will increase the allowable threshold of your camera's distance. This is wonderful for fights like Al'Akir where there are large scale effects and far away enemies. Just type the script into your chat window and scroll your wheel to experience the amazing new birds-eye view. (source: Arena Junkies)
/script SetCVar("cameraDistanceMax",30)1[/hr]=Raid Strategies=Additional raid strategies and tactics are always welcomed as submissions via PM.
Hagara's Shattered Ice can be copied with Dark Simulacrum and does well over 100k damage per copy as Unholy.
- Submitted by Clown of Arygos-US
If your diseases are fixing to drop off of Ultraxion and you are in the normal realm, you can use Outbreak on the boss. So, if you used Heroic Will to avoid Hour of Twilight you can still use that single ability in either realm.
- Submitted by Unsoul of Vashj-US
For any platform you don't have Nozdormu alive (and have to deal with elementium bolt), AMZ will block 75% of the brunt of the initial impact. So instead of blocking its normal ~40,000 damage it will block a lot more. Other, than elementium bolt, AMZ will get eaten up pretty quickly when the claw/wing tentacles are low on hp so it won't block as much damage.
- Submitted by Meygaera of Dalaran-US
1[/hr]=Other Resources=To further your individual research about the class, play, and so forth, I also have a list of online resources to recommend:
- Son of a Lich - My DK blog, complete with a version of this guide in mobile friendly form.
- #Acherus IRC - Moderated, live DK chat and think tank.
- @heartless_dk - Casual class thoughts & discussion welcomed.
- Simulation Craft - Active and comprehensive simulation code project.
- Ask Mr. Robot - World of Warcraft gear optimization and theorycraft website.
- Wow Reforge Calculator - A valuable tool to aid in reforging.
- MMO Champion - Breaking news, updates, and sneak peeks.
- Lichborne by WowInsider - DK oriented articles and news.
Dodge | 176.71899
Parry | 176.71899
Block | 88.3594
Hit | 120.109
Spell Hit | 102.446
Crit | 179.28
Resilience (Player Damage Taken) |276.12299
Haste | 128.05701
Expertise | 30.0272
Mastery | 179.28
Combat Ratings are a conversion method between a stats rating and its 1%/1pt. value. (source)
Yellow Swing Miss | 8% | (120.109 * 8) |961 Hit Rating
2H White Swing Miss | 8% | (120.109 * 8) |961 Hit Rating
1H White Swing Miss | 27% | (120.109 * 24) |2883 Hit Rating and Nerves of Cold Steel
Spell Miss | 17% | (102.446 * 8) | 820 Hit Rating and Runic Focus
Parry (front) | 14% | (14 / .25 * 30.0272) | 1682 Expertise Rating*
Dodge (behind) | 6.5% | (6.5 / .25 * 30.0272) | 781 Expertise Rating
Melee Crit Reduction | 4.8% | - | N/A
Spell Crit Reduction | 3% | - | N/A
Glancing Blows | 24% | - | N/A[/Table]
*This 'hard cap' is unattractive to attain as you should be attacking from behind anyways.
While our Ghoul is described as inheriting 100%/140%(glyphed) strength from the player, data collection has shown a distinct variation. In observation, an unglyphed Ghoul appears to have closer to ~101% strength and a glyphed Ghoul has closer to ~143%. Linear regressions performed with samples of player data place the Ghoul's base AP at ~931.
I will make updates and additions as is feasible and desired. If changes in between a patch affects the core material, I will make the necessary updates. Otherwise, I believe patch-to-patch should be sufficient.
- Cheers (and pie) to the core group of #Acherus. Your intelligence, experience, wit, and patience are an invaluable source of inspiration and DK brotherhood.
- Big thanks to Tehax for all his support, reviewing, and technical assistance.
- I would like to thank Consider for his sagely and invaluable contribution. He kept us on the path to good DPS and made me personally appreciate the value of research, testing, and thinking about this game critically.
- Thank you Jmickey from the Warlock class threads for inspiration on guide post formatting.
11/29/2011 - Updated for 4.3.
11/29/2011 - Updated 'Professions'.
11/29/2011 - Updated 'Mods'.
11/30/2011 - Corrections to BiS for content and updated Wowhead item numbers.
12/02/2011 - Updated BiS, added separation to Normal listing, removed Tier 11 Raid Strategies, condensed the last tier into a new 'Legacy' section via a spoiler toggle tab, added new strategy for Dragonsoul.
12/06/2011 - Updated 'Raid Strategies'.
12/14/2011 - Updated BiS.
12/30/2011 - Updated stat weights, priorities.