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Advanced Unholy DPS | Unholy Relaxation [4.3]


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#1 optional22

optional22

    Von Kaiser

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 08:36 PM

Hey guys, this thread is going to be devoted to advanced Unholy min/maxing. It's assumed you've read and understand everything in Heartless's thread. This stuff goes pretty in-depth on every trick that the community can think of to maximize DPS. You have something to contribute or contest, please reply to this thread, and I'll make the necessary adjustments. This thread is meant to be read from start to finish. I sometimes reference things explained earlier in the article that may be lost on some people. I also use various acronyms. Heartless's Unholy DK threat explains them in great detail (http://elitistjerks..../#Abbreviations). Thanks Heartless! This thread is merely meant to be an addendum to Heartless’s original thread and not by any means a replacement. This thread builds on her original post to focus on advanced techniques.

This is the first part of the thread. The last half will be written and up as soon as I have time to write it.


= DPS Philosophy, Part 1=

Resource Starvation vs Resource Cap

I want to start off by explaining some basic DPS philosophies I've used over the years. GCD cap is the ideal situation to be in. GCD cap is when you are constantly hitting an ability every chance you get. When you are not GCD capped, you have down time between abilities where you cannot cast anything that benefits you DPS-wise. Being permanently GCD capped will result in a huge DPS gain for any fight. On the other hand, being starved of your resources (in a DK's case, runes and runic power) is the worst possible situation. Avoiding periods of down time where auto attacking is your only option is what most of what you read after this point focuses on. Capping your resources is similar but not the same as GCD capping. Resource capping means that either your runes or your runic power or both are being wasted in some way. For example, if your blood runes are not being regenerated, then they are capped. Same goes for your unholy or frost runes. If your runic power is at 95/100, then using any rune ability (which generates at least 10 RP) will waste a small amount of runic power, a state called runic power cap. Both these situations are not ideal. Being GCD capped may result in you using an ability every 1 second assuming unholy presence, but still may not cap any resources. If you are resource capped, you damn better be GCD capped trying to resolve that situation as well. Using FeS on two Death Runes is generally also not ideal to get around rune cap because it is a flat DPS loss over two SS's. These are important terms and ideas that will be brought up later in this thread.

The Little Things

Another idea I'd like to share is that of proper min/maxing. Some of the things in this thread may sound like incredibly small DPS gains. The thing is, you should use them. Every one. You take a few small DPS gains, say 100 DPS gains here and there, and they may add up to 1000 DPS or more. The more little things you can stack in your favor, the bigger DPS gain you will see in the big picture.

Lastly, a lot of what you are about to read are the product of experience with the spec. I did not come up with everything you will read here. Some is mine, some I stole, some I was given. And they will eventually become useless. But knowing old tactics and reapplying them in future content patches is a huge part experience. I'm not the first to come up with this stuff, and I won't be the last. If you work your ass off learning and working on your character, you will come up with better ideas, and if you do, I hope you share them with the community as well.



= Armory=

Specs

Okay, let's get down to it. First things first, we'll start with the armory. When it comes to enchants and gemming, refer to Heartless's thread. There are no surprises here that I know of. I do recommend you use Heartless's stat weights and use a nifty little website known as WoW Reforge (WoW Reforge Calculator & Optimizer) to reforge. It allows you to set proper hit and expertise caps, and it gives you the optimal possible reforging. Yes, this will reforge better than a human can on average as reforging by yourself may lead you to an unoptimized setup.

When it comes to specs, you have a bit of leeway. I personally roll with two Unholy specs when I really want to go all out - simply switching between specs depending on the fight.

Single target: Talent Calculator - World of Warcraft
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Multi target: Talent Calculator - World of Warcraft
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One is a single target spec while the other is aimed at being AoE-capable. I always spec 2/3 in Magic Suppression due to the power of AMS not just to save your life, but also its ability to increase your DPS. 3/3 at this point in DS is a bit unnecessary. In the single target spec, I drop Contagion in favor of Runic Power Mastery (RPM) and Improved Blood Tap (IBT). If you have to pick between RPM and IBT, I’d lean to at least 1 point in RPM. One extra point in RPM guarantees you an extra death coil with a full RP bar after using AMS to soak or just runic power capping. An extra Death coil can be the difference between resource starvation and resource capping due to its chance to proc RC. Other than that, I feel that putting more points in IBT is appropriate if you are having trouble maintaining GCD cap for any significant periods of time. If you find yourself always GCD capped, then leaning towards RPM is a better idea. For my AoE capable build, I pick up Contagion. I leave 1 point in Runic Power Mastery over Improved Blood Tap because of the implications of Death Coil. The glyphs are pretty obvious choices and can be found in Heartless’s thread.

Professions

As far as profession go, the ideal professions at this point in time are Engineering and Blacksmithing. Engineering gives you an on use cooldown called Synapse Springs that attaches to your gloves giving you 480 strength for 10 seconds on a 1 minute cooldown. This averages out to the standard 80 Strength over time similar to alchemy or enchanting. However, Engineering has the advantage of being able line up perfectly with Blood Fury and Summon Gargoyle making it considerably stronger than alchemy or enchanting. Blacksmithing allows you to add two sockets to your current items - gloves and bracers. If you are using non-epic gems, this also averages how to the standard 80 strength gain. However, with epic gems, this becomes a 100 strength gain, which puts Blacksmithing clearly in the lead.

Improved Frost Presence

One bug very recently brought to my attention by Mione of Envy involves improved frost presence. If you go to a trainer and spec a Frost build of any type with full points in improved frost presence, switch to blood presence, then to unholy presence, then respec that same frost spec to an unholy build, you keep the benefit of 4% RP generation from improved frost presence talent. Switching presences, switching dual talent specs, or dying wipes this benefit. Relogging does not.


= Diseases, the 60 Second Cycle and Reapplication=

The next topic to discuss is diseases and the disease cycle. A disease cycle starts when you use Outbreak and ends the next time Outbreak is used. This is extremely important because, due to the cooldown of Outbreak being 1 minute, all your cooldowns will need to line up nicely with it. We will talk about cooldowns shortly, but for now, we will focus on diseases. Diseases are not something that blindly need to be up on every target. They need to be used strategically so that the diseases are always as strong as possible - this includes reapplying them when needed. Disease damage works by snap shotting your current damage stats when they are applied. If you have 100 strength and 100 mastery when you apply diseases, they will hit according to those numbers even if you gain 1000 strength and mastery the second after diseases go off. You can use this to your advantage. When you initially pull a boss, you should use icy touch while running in and hit plague strike once in melee position. Once you're trinkets are all fully active (eg Eye of Unmaking is at 10 stacks), you hit all your damage gaining cooldowns (synapse springs and blood fury ideally, if unavailable, use whatever you have), followed by outbreak. This reapplies your diseases making sure they hit as hard as possible. Using a regular single target rotation, maintaining diseases until the next Outbreak by Festering Strikes should be rather trivial. The reason Outbreak isn't used first is because that Outbreak takes less global cooldowns to apply than hitting Icy touch and plague strike. You want to maximize the number of scourge strikes, festering strikes, and death coils you can fire at the boss when in the high DPS state of having all your cooldowns up and on you. Before you next hit your Outbreak, you should be sure to use your cooldowns (synapse springs and blood fury) again, so once again, all your diseases continue dealing as much damage as possible.


= Starting and Ending Rotations=

Trash and Firelands 2 Piece

In a raid, everything will work slightly differently. To start off with, you should ideally have two pieces of Firelands DPS tier gear. I usually just wear this for all trash cleared in raids, but that is not necessary as you can switch gearsets between pulls. If you don't have these tier pieces, i highly suggest you get them, as they are easily obtainable via the justice point vendors. Two pieces of Firelands tier gear gives you a buff that regenerates 3 runic power every 5 seconds. This is huge. This lets you easily maintain your current runic power level while not in combat. If you are not runic power capped after coming out of a trash pull before a boss, you can spam death and decay along with horn of winter to build up levels surprisingly quickly. If critters or ogre pinatas are available, spamming two chains of ice followed by scourge strike nets you an easy 30 runic power per target. Now, you may find yourself runic power capped before pulling. In this case, fire a death coil at your pet to give it a shadow infusion before the fight even begins. You should closely monitor the time left on shadow infusion so that you can maintain a stack of it for a fairly long period of time. Being about 50-70 RP under your maximum allotted RP is fine for the pull since you will be using your rune abilities at the start anyway. You will likely use Army of the Undead before the fight, which nets 30 RP followed by icy touch and plague strike nets you another 20 RP, which closes in quickly on that runic power cap. That being said, if you’re really practiced with this and know when your raid will pull the boss, you can get up to 5 stacks of shadow infusion immediately prior to pulling along with some spare runic power in the bank allowing you to cast a dark transformation within the first seconds of an encounter, which has the potential to be a huge DPS gain.

Opening Rotation

Okay, you're stacked up with runic power and maybe a shadow infusion on your pet. Now what? As said previously, hit that army ~6-7 seconds prepull and start running! Don't forget to prepot, and open with icy touch from range. Once in melee range, hit plague strike. At this point, you will likely have this rune set up in front of you:

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Remembering your rune mangement rules, you'd throw a festering strike next in order to uncap your blood runes. If you forget or don't know those rules, I'll go over them in section 6 - just trust me for now. After the festering strike, things have the potential to diverge depending on your exact situation. Now, you need to be monitoring your trinkets. If you are using Eye of Unmaking, that's a huge one to monitor. You need to know when you have 10 stacks of it up on you - the buff is called titanic strength. If you are using Creche of the Final Dragon, it should proc rather quickly, but you should also monitor that. The second your trinkets are good to go, you need to hit your short term cooldowns, again synapse springs and blood fury, and then outbreak. This is the point where you can hit your first death and decay of the fight as well. Lining death and decay with CDs also greatly increases its damage output.

Congratulations, you just successfully opened a grab bag of discomfort on a poor unsuspecting boss. Now, as you probably already know, getting off a dark transformation quickly is incredibly important to maintain DPS. If you start with RP and maybe have 1 stack of shadow infusion on your pet already, there should not be a conflict with choosing between your cooldowns and between casting DT. You should be able to get DT off before your have to start hitting CDs. I talk in more detail about figuring out if it's better to delay your DT or delay your CDs in more detail in the DT section of this thread (falls under the 6 vs 7 DT discussion).

Ending Rotation

Once the boss is about to die, your rotation changes. Hitting DT or DnD if the boss will die before a significant portion of those cooldowns affect the boss is a DPS loss. You also need to try and avoid using death coils if at all possible right before the boss dies. Death coils have a travel time. When you use it, it takes a short amount of time before it lands on your target. In cases like Ultraxion or Sinestra, that travel time of the death coil can be rather large. If the boss dies while your death coil is still traveling, that death coil won’t register as a hit, and therefore is a wasted GCD. Scourge strike and festering strike have no travel time and are better options if the boss has 100k HP left. Horn of winter is also unadvisable to weave in when boss death is imminent unless you need to cast it for a runic power gain. Generally, I like to prioritize death coils a little higher than normal (still without letting your runes cap) in order to get them off before I need to prioritize scourge strikes. Maximizing scourge strikes is also ideal before the boss dies due to their superior damage output, so getting them off over death coils prior to boss death is further favored.


= Cooldowns=

When to Delay

When it comes to cooldown use, the general idea is that they should be constantly used the second they are available. This is not universally true, only a rule of thumb. There are some times where delaying a CD due to reduced benefit from it is highly recommended. For example, using dark transformation right during Hagara's transition to Lightning phase is unadvised. There is a significant amount of downtime in that period that wastes the DT. To get around this, you can place your ghoul in a remote area while occasionally refreshing stacks of shadow infusion on it using your current RP pool or by using AMS to build up extra RP. This is not always possible depending on your raid's strategy, but it's something to keep in mind. Other times, a high damage phase may come soon, so delaying a CD like synapse springs a few seconds in order to ensure it lines up with a blood lust or maybe a boss phase where they take extra damage. The other time to delay cooldowns is for AoE burst periods. Since dark transformation lets your ghoul cleave mobs, delaying DT as well as DnD is highly preferred for these situations. If needed, you should draw out a diagram of how you will use your CDs on a fight. It may allow you to see solutions that you missed previously.

Anti-Magic Shell

Anti-magic shell is one of your most powerful cooldowns in your arsenal. Use it right, and you can see huge gains in your DPS and survivability. AMS should be viewed as an offensive and defensive ability. With the Magic Suppression talent, magic damage absorbed also generates runic power. That means if you start becoming resource starved, if you have the opportunity, hit AMS and take some magic damage. The ideal type of damage to take would be a relatively small amount of continuous damage over the course of 7 seconds( assuming you glyphed AMS). This allows you to continuously dump death coils into a target while not capping out on runic power. If this situation leads you to the land of bountiful resources, you should not forget your rune abilities. They are still preferred and valued over your runic power abilities as explained later on. Using AMS whenever you need runic power is the best situation to be in on any fight. However, there are fights where you need to use AMS intelligently. If, for example, you need to use it along with icebound fortitude to soak damage from Ultraxion's Hour of Twilight, you should be careful not to use it less than 45 seconds before Hour of Twilight goes off, or you will be a dead and quite useless death knight. Again, making diagrams to plan out windows you can use your AMS in is a good idea.

Blood Tap

Blood tap is an interesting ability in that it's rather poorly designed. Hitting blood tap fills one of your blood runes and turns it into a death rune. It prioritizes your first blood rune, but it will regenerate your second blood rune if your first is up. This will likely turn your first blood rune into a death rune as well. Blood tap also puts a buff on you, which, when it expires, restores the death rune back into a blood rune.

Depending on how you use this ability, you can actually sometimes turn both of your blood runes into death runes. This happens when your second blood rune is regenerating while your first is completely down. This situation, as you might expect, leads you to rune balance issues and can be annoying to pull off correctly. You will end up with extra frost runes with no festering strike to use them on. The other situation you can use them in is when you use festering strike on one of your blood runes so that it just started regenerating as a death rune. This situation keeps the peace and leaves your runes balanced. You should monitor the blood tap debuff, so you know exactly when it will fall off. If you use a festering strike with a blood tap'd death rune, it will turn your other blood rune into a death rune instead, so keep this weird fact in your mind if you find yourself in such a situation.

I personally use blood tap as a resource starved cooldown. Regardless of the situation, if I need to fill a GCD, I use blood tap first - rune balance be damned. Keep in mind how often you use this ability. If you generally use it with a second of it being off cooldown, then improved blood tap may be a good talent for you to pick up if you don't have it already. If you find yourself fine on resources, so that you use blood tap after it's been on cooldown for 15+ seconds, you may need to reconsider picking up that improved blood tap talent. Also keep in mind that how you use blood tap will vary by fight, haste levels, and play.

Empower Rune Weapon

Empower rune weapon is a cooldown that should never be used randomly whenever available. Empower rune weapon has two uses, and how it's used is up to you. This is a cooldown that I can't tell you exactly how to use on every fight. It really is something that comes with experience and preference. One situation where empower rune weapon would be useful is when you are resource starved. Being a 5 minute cooldown, you should be careful when you use this on a short fight. If your guild kills Morchok in 4 minutes flat, for example, getting resource starved immediately before a black phase and using empower rune weapon is a bad idea. While stunned as Morchok starts to cast his black goop of death, your runes will naturally regenerate anyway, making that use of empower rune weapon mostly wasted. I've heard many times in the past stories of death knights uses empower rune weapon right after they hit all their cooldowns when they are not resources starved. The idea is to maximize rune abilities. This is a DPS gain, but it is a small one. Unless there is some compelling reason to do so, using empower rune weapon when starved of resources is always preferred. A compelling reason you say? Whatever do you mean? Well, if there is an AoE phase coming where the adds need to die immediately, blowing empower rune weapon for some extra blood boils there would be a great idea. Or, if you are working on heroic Spine of Deathwing for the first time and need to kill that damn Burning Tendon or the raid wipes, then using empower rune weapon there when you aren’t really resource starved, but seeking to maximize scourge strikes, is also a great idea. You know what needs to die, and what doesn't really need to die right now, so use this ability appropriately and seem dem numbers roll in. If you do end up using ERW as a resource starved single target cooldown, keep in mind your current rune situation. For example, if you have a frost rune converted to death and a blood rune converted to death, when you hit ERW, you will be in a perfect situation for a FeS. Since you are hitting ERW between GCDs, you may not have time to properly react to your new rune situation after hitting ERW and seeing all those runes pop up. You should know what the best ability to use is immediately after hitting ERW.

Dark Transformation

Dark transformation is the next cooldown we'll be discussing. As far as damage per GCD used goes, dark transformation is your most efficient. Maximizing uptime of dark transformation is crucial to maximizing your DPS on any encounter. Dark transformation turns your pet into a big nasty ghoul that cleaves, but this ability is only active after gaining 5 stacks of shadow infusion, which are gained by firing death coils at a target, including your pet. You need to monitor stacks of shadow infusion as well as time left on the stacks before they fall off. You also need to monitor the dark transformation buff so that you know exactly when it will fall off. Ideally, you want to gather a little extra runic power, again, without letting your resources cap, right before the stacks fall off. This is so that you can start firing off death coils and building stacks of shadow infusion as soon as you can. Keep in mind the delay from when death coil is fired and when it lands. Shadow infusion stacks up when it actually does damage to the boss, so you can fire off death coils a tad bit early depending on what you are attacking. You don't want to save up runic power at the expense of having no abilities to use, however. If you have 34 runic power and no runes, fire that death coil regardless of where your dark transformation or shadow infusion is currently at. If possible, you can time your anti magic shell to line up with when dark transformation falls off, so you generate a ton of runic power allowing you to get dark transformation back up rapidly.

As I mentioned in the Opening Rotation section, you can stack up RP before pulls as well as get shadow infusion stacks off before combat even starts. A good trick to go with this is getting naked and then putting gear back on. Since pet HP scales with your HP, when you put gear back on, your pet will no longer be at 100% HP. This, combined with Death's Embrace glyph reduces the RP it costs to DC your pet. It allows you to get more stacks of shadow infusion off before pulls as well as allowing you to keep the stacks for a longer period of time by refreshing them. Very handy.

Another trick, which is rather hard to pull off, allows you to get an extra stack of shadow infusion off on your pet. The way it works is simple, get 5 stacks of shadow infusion, and fire another death coil while casting dark transformation while the death coil is still in the air. Once it lands on its target, it grants your dark transformed pet a single buff of shadow infusion, which increases your pets damage. This requires a boss with a huge melee range such as Sinestra or Madness of Deathwing. If you can't pull it off on a certain boss, don't worry about it. It's a DPS gain, but messing up your abilities to try and get it up isn't worth it, neither is delaying dark transformation in order to pull it off.

When it comes to dark transformation, increased uptime can be huge for your final DPS outcome. However, going overboard with getting dark transformation casts can also be a DPS loss. This sounds confusing, so let me explain. Let's say you cast 6 dark transformations in a fight, and the boss is about to die. He's at .5%, and you realize you have 5 shadow infusion stacks. Hitting DT here would increase it's overall uptime but decrease your overall DPS because a simple scourge strike would have done more damage in that time frame. This means that you could have theoretically delayed your previous 6 dark transformation casts slightly and the final dark transformation would have still finished before the boss dies. If you let your runes cap in order to maximize DT uptime, you would have seen a DPS loss if you couldn't get that 7th dark transformation off. This is a very hard thing to judge going into a fight. You need to know roughly when a boss will die and how long it will take you to get off your dark transformations in each fight. This will let you decide if it’s worth letting runes cap for a very short time in order to get an extra dark transformation off at the end of a fight or if it’s better to not let runes rot because you haveno chance of getting off an extra dark transformation. We will go over world of logs use later on, and I can help show you how to determine which scenario is for you.

If possible, lining up AMS for RP generation as your DT falls off can be very useful. It allows you to very rapidly get DT back up by letting you machine gun off some death coils. AMS is best used as a resource starvation cooldown, but keep in mind that it can work very nicely with DT. Letting a rune cap for a second is fine as long as you don't over do it.

Final note about dark transformation, it does not snapshot your stats when you cast it. It will constantly scale with whatever your current stats are. There is never a reason to try and line it up with your cooldowns, just keep it up properly.

Death and Decay

Death and decay is our next awesome cooldown. Behind dark transformation, it's next up for top damage per GCD cast. Due to a fun bug, it actually ticks 11 times instead of 10, increasing its damage output by a nice margin. This ability does more per GCD than scourge strike, so you should be using it as much as possible every 30 seconds. This guy doesn't snapshot your stats when you cast it, but due to it's short nature, casting it while your CDs are up allow it to hit harder during that time frame. Now, calling back to the 60 second disease cycles, death and decay falls into that design rather nicely. Right after hitting your short term CDs and casting outbreak, you should, as soon as you can, hit death and decay so that it overlaps with synapse springs/blood fury - greatly increasing its damage output. 30 seconds later, your cooldowns won't be ready, but you should still cast death and decay as quickly as possible so that 30 seconds later, when it comes back up, it will line up with your short term cooldowns once again as the cycle repeats.

There are times to delay death and decay, of course. Delaying it for aoe and high burst damage phases is still preferred, as you would expect. Also, you should keep in mind that, whenever possible, make your death and decay hit multiple targets at once. For example, on Yorsahj, even during a non-aoe phase, there may be a mana void up. If you cast Death and Decay between Yorsahj and the mana void, it will sometimes tick on both targets instead of just Yorsahj. Death and decay's visible area of damage is actually smaller than what it actually does damage to. Keep that in mind when aiming your DnD. Also, you need to learn how your tank moves the boss on each fight. For example, on Morchok, some tanks may just sit the boss and never move him, so you can constantly just death and decay right on the boss without a care in the world. Other tanks will drag him closer to the orbs that spawn. In that case, you can aim your death and decay between the boss and the orb if close enough so that the boss will be hit by DnD for the full duration. If the boss will be moving all the way to the west coast of the moon, you can delay your DnD for when you know the boss will take full or near full damage from it. If the boss only takes a few ticks, it is not beneficial to use a rune on Death and Decay. Lastly, when I play Unholy, I use a macro for death and decay.

/cast !Death and Decay

If you are prone to accidentally double hitting your death and decay button, which causes its targeting reticule to disappear, this is the macro for you because it prevents that. It forces you to have to right click or hit escape to turn off the death and decay reticule.

The Three Minute CDs

Next up is our glorious three minute cooldowns - Unholy Frenzy and Summon Gargoyle. Generally, you should use these guys together if you have a low level of haste (sub 1600). I use a simple macro for this:

/cast Unholy Frenzy 
/cast Summon Gargoyle

Make sure Unholy Frenzy is casted first so that our precious little gargoyle benefits from the haste gained. Summon Gargoyle works similarly to diseases in that it snapshots your stats - strength and haste - and uses that to scale its damage regardless of how your stats change afterwards. Therefore, you want to always cast your 3 minute cooldown macro when you are potted (hopefully) and have used your short term (synapse springs and blood fury) cooldowns. There are times where you wouldn't want to use these together, but it is highly variable.

For example, let's say you kill Ultraxion in 5 minutes and 30 seconds and you lust immediately at the start of the fight. In this case, lining up Unholy Frenzy and Lust is unideal. You will be GCD capped for the whole duration and likely resource capped for most of it regardless if Unholy Frenzy is on you or not. Also, your Summon Gargoyle will also be GCD Capped just by the Lust. In that case, I would play the start of the fight like this: Lust goes off, Icy Touch, Plague Strike, Festering Strike, then normal DPS until trinkets are up, short term cooldowns (synapse springs and blood fury), then summon gargoyle. Once Lust falls off of your character, you can use Unholy Frenzy. Now here comes the tricky part, the next time your summon gargoyle comes off cooldown, your Unholy Frenzy won't be up for ~20 seconds or so. Fear not, simply delay your 3 minute cooldowns for an extra minute (casting them both at minute 4ish). This way, you can use both at the same time while still lining them up with synapse springs and blood fury. If the fight were shorter, so that delaying your 3 minute cooldowns would result in them being wasted because the boss would die before they did their damage, then **** the police and hit two 3 minute puppies together at the start of the fight. Again, this is something that varies depending on your raid's DPS output and strategy.

One other time to delay using your gargoyle is for blood fury. The orc racial is a 2 minute cooldown, and therefore, will only line up with your first cast of summon gargoyle. You can ignore this fact and just diddle away if the fight is roughly 6 minutes and 45 seconds or longer. If the fight is 5-6 minutes in length, then you should delay your 3 minute cooldowns by 1 minute. What casting your 3 minute cooldowns at the 4 minute mark instead of the 3 minute mark is allow blood fury, the two minute cooldown, as well as synapse springs to line up with summon gargoyle and cause a slight DPS gain. Although you do the same thing in both this situations (delay your 3 minute cooldowns by a minute), I list them separately because you may not lust at the start, which throws everything off. These tricks will very likely be applicable in some way in MOP as well. The final reason to delay your 3 minute cooldowns is for high DPS phases, i.e. Hagara after a frost or lightning phase.

However, once you start hitting haste levels over 1600, there is no longer any reason to line up these two cooldowns. Your gargoyle will cast 16 gargoyle strikes before leaving regardless of how much more haste you stack. Keep UF and gargoyle on separate buttons and use gargoyle on cooldown lined up with every CD you can. You should use Unholy Frenzy as a resource starved cooldown similar to Empower Rune Weapon. However, when it comes to shorter term fights, it is better to get out extra Unholy Frenzies. Getting out an extra one over the course of a fight is better than trying to use it strategically in general. Therefore, on your typical Ultraxion type fights, it is likely a greater DPS gain to use it on CD with Summon Gargoyle even though you may not benefit greatly from it. This is still a point that I personally am unconvinced which way would be better, so I leave it to you, dear reader. Do some math and impress the hell out of us all.

Last thing I have to say about Summon Gargoyle is that you can, and sometimes should, aim it. Whichever direction you cast it in, it will land a few feet in front of your character in that direction. In some fights, there is AoE damage or stuns going out, which will kill or incapacitate your gargoyle wasting its DPS. For example, casting your gargoyle between Warmaster and raid members in phase 2 of the fight might result it being hit by shockwave, which is an AoE stun. Instead, turn and cast it in a direction where as few people as possible are standing without moving.


Short Term CDs

Next up is our short term cooldowns, synapse springs from engineering and blood fury, the orc racial. If you're not an orc and not an engineer, well, you should be. For our unwashed alliance friends, you may want to skim this next part. Anyhoo, generally, these are also cooldowns you want to use every time you can. I use the following macro:

/cast 10 
/cast blood fury

The ‘10’ part of this macro automatically uses your glove slot item, so even if you upgrade your gloves, it will still properly cast synapse springs if they are attached. Some people (including me in a former tier) delay blood fury on certain fights in order to make sure they line up. I don't agree with this strategy anymore since it's very risky. Most of the time, you want to just use it on cooldown and delay summon gargoyle to line up with blood fury instead. Delaying blood fury requires the fight to end within a shorter time frame than summon gargoyle, which is what makes that strategy more risky. Delaying 3 minute cooldowns gives you a larger window for the boss to die in while still getting full use out of the gargoyle and unholy frenzy. These are also delayed for burst AoE or high DPS phases.

Pestilence

Pestilence is up next. Pestilence is a rather obvious ability, so I won't say much about it. You should try to exploit it as much as possible. For example, on Yorsahj, if you are DPSing a globule, and it runs close enough to Yorsahj before dying, you can pestilence off of it back to Yorsahj. This saves you GCDs that would have been otherwise spent applying icy touch and plague strike if outbreak isn’t up. Although not hugely valuable on Yorsahj, there are some fights where tricks like that are huge DPS gains, especially in tier 11. Also, I've heard from many people a common misconception about the way pestilence and contagion work. Contagion increases the damage of diseases spread by pestilence by 100%. However, without this talent, diseases spread by pestilence only do 50% of their normal damage. Therefore, contagion restores the disease damage to normal. It does not increase damage done by diseases greater than applying them manually.


= Change Log=

4/6/2012 - Clarified spec section slightly, fixed typos. Fixed DnD scaling section, clarified 3 min CD section, and updated improved frost presence section (thanks Devodante). Updated 3 min cooldown section to include UF/Garg separation strategy (thanks Dante and Mikikas). Added AMS/DT coordination (thanks Netukka).

4/7/2012 - Fixed error in blood tap section (thanks Brozooka).

4/11/2012 - Added new strategy to empower rune weapon section (thanks me!), added words of caution to 3 min CD section (thanks to the several people that contributed to this section, too many to name).

4/15/2012 - Added getting naked and DCing pet strategy under DT section (thanks Minoan).

= To Be Continued...=

Next up is Rune Management, AoE, DS fight analysis, UI, and DPS Philosophies Part 2.

A quick special thanks to Heartless (Son of a Lich | a resource for DPS Death Knights of the World of Warcraft), Tsuki, Lamperouqe, Magdalena, CHRIS COCKBURN, Mione, señor Arv, and everyone else in #Acherus for feedback, help, and the general awesomeness.

Edit: Sorry for not finishing this thread. I really wanted to, but real life stuff has gotten worse and worse. Before making this thread, I made a Youtube video that covers some of what I wanted to cover in the remaining bit of this thread. I figure I'd just link it here anyway... Autopsy's Guide to DPS DKs: Rune Management - YouTube

#2 MagdalenaDK

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 09:18 PM

Excellent guide!
I have a question concerning the use of double Death Runes on Festering Strike: What situations, if any, do you see this being optimal? For instance, suppose we're under the effects of Unholy Frenzy/Lust and also manage to score a number of lucky RC procs, thus giving us a very short rune regen time- when does using up double Death Runes on Festering Strikes become a DPS increase over the two globals for Scourge Strikes?

#3 optional22

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 09:50 PM

Excellent guide!
I have a question concerning the use of double Death Runes on Festering Strike: What situations, if any, do you see this being optimal? For instance, suppose we're under the effects of Unholy Frenzy/Lust and also manage to score a number of lucky RC procs, thus giving us a very short rune regen time- when does using up double Death Runes on Festering Strikes become a DPS increase over the two globals for Scourge Strikes?


Thanks.

That's a good, tough question I was planning on tackling in Part 2.

When unlusted, if you get a bunch of RC procs, you can easily become rune and RP capped. Going through all your runes with SS takes a while since you have to go through blood runes, then unholy runes, and then frost runes (if they are all death runes). By which point you will no longer have RC up and be completely RP capped. Once your runes are uncapped, you only have at most 3 DCs you can throw. If these don't proc RC, you're screwed. This is where people resort to using FeS to get through those runes faster in order to get their RC up as quickly as possible.

I used to do this, but I don't any longer. I found a better solution is to SS a few times, then when RP cap rears its head, I throw a DC or two, then continue SSing. This violates one of the major rules of uncapping your runes over RP all the time, but in this case, it's better. It allows you to help keep RC procs up on you while still maximizing the number of SSes you throw, which hit much harder on average.


When lusted, it's less punishing. I just use SS for the whole duration, and I won't weave in DCs. This is because my runes will regenerate fast enough, and I will likely get Sudden Doom procs anyway all thanks to lust. However, if Lust is about to fall off, you may end up screwed again, in which case you may need to resort to the 'unlusted' strategy described previously.

#4 mikikas

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 10:47 PM

It is my understanding that our gargoyle and unholy frenzy can be cast together but it is not necessary and by no means a benefit. Haste procs will decrease the cast time of gargoyle strikes but even if it is reduced to 1.0s the gargoyle will still only cast 16 strikes and fly away before finishing 17. 16 strikes is reached at 1600 personal haste. Ideally you would want to use gargoyle durring a proc point, however, frenzy can be used much like ERW as either a increase to a proc point or in order to speed up regen durring a resource starved portion of a fight.

#5 optional22

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 10:56 PM

It is my understanding that our gargoyle and unholy frenzy can be cast together but it is not necessary and by no means a benefit. Haste procs will decrease the cast time of gargoyle strikes but even if it is reduced to 1.0s the gargoyle will still only cast 16 strikes and fly away before finishing 17. 16 strikes is reached at 1600 personal haste. Ideally you would want to use gargoyle durring a proc point, however, frenzy can be used much like ERW as either a increase to a proc point or in order to speed up regen durring a resource starved portion of a fight.


A good strategy that I had missed. Also brought up by Dante. Thanks.

#6 Netukka

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 11:35 PM

One note about the UF/Garg macro. If you macro them together like (simply /cast after each other), the UF and Garg get summoned at the same time and the Garg wont get the benefit from UF. Was a lot more important in t11 when the garg wasnt gcd capped with just your haste, but now it doesnt really matter. Should still clarify that you should separate the two.

Another good "trick" you should include is timing AMS with DT dropping off whenever its possible, obviously easier on continous spell dmg bosses (ultrax for example). Wait until DT is just about to drop off, pop AMS and start spamming DC and youll get DT back up in 3-4 seconds after it drops off. You will cap runes for a few seconds while mashing the DCs but youll get extremely high DT uptime. Obviously shouldnt plan using AMS around DT dropping, but whenever its possible with little sacrifice its a good increase.

You also missed possibly the most important aspect of UH dps. Getting good RNG with our beloved/hated sword :)

#7 optional22

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 11:39 PM

One note about the UF/Garg macro. If you macro them together like (simply /cast after each other), the UF and Garg get summoned at the same time and the Garg wont get the benefit from UF. Was a lot more important in t11 when the garg wasnt gcd capped with just your haste, but now it doesnt really matter. Should still clarify that you should separate the two.


Nope, I've tested this already. That bug is fixed. It scales properly when you use one macro.

Another good "trick" you should include is timing AMS with DT dropping off whenever its possible, obviously easier on continous spell dmg bosses (ultrax for example). Wait until DT is just about to drop off, pop AMS and start spamming DC and youll get DT back up in 3-4 seconds after it drops off. You will cap runes for a few seconds while mashing the DCs but youll get extremely high DT uptime. Obviously shouldnt plan using AMS around DT dropping, but whenever its possible with little sacrifice its a good increase.

You also missed possibly the most important aspect of UH dps. Getting good RNG with our beloved/hated sword :)


I could have sworn I already mentioned that, but I can't find it. Derp. Thanks!

#8 Droisa

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 01:06 AM

Great guide, it leaves me with a question thats been bugging me since I've started playing unholy in cata, how long is too long to leave your ghoul in it's original un-dt form in the duration of a fight. i understand maximizing uptime is key but what percentage of the time will your ghoul be out of dt form with the t13 set bonus and effective haste on gear now it shouldn't be more than a few seconds... just curious.

#9 optional22

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 01:42 PM

Great guide, it leaves me with a question thats been bugging me since I've started playing unholy in cata, how long is too long to leave your ghoul in it's original un-dt form in the duration of a fight. i understand maximizing uptime is key but what percentage of the time will your ghoul be out of dt form with the t13 set bonus and effective haste on gear now it shouldn't be more than a few seconds... just curious.


Well, it's a hard thing to quantify because it can vary greatly fight to fight. Delaying DT for AoE periods or not casting it when the boss is at 200k HP will reduce your percent uptime on it but be a net DPS gain. Also, getting off a DT via prepull shadow infusion stacks can greatly increase uptime artificially and mess up any type of rule one can create. However, in single target Patchwerk fights, I usually aim for at least 60% uptime on DT, preferably in the range of 65%. I also aim for sub-30% uptime on Shadow Infusion, preferably 25% or less.

#10 Skullbound

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 02:52 PM

It is my understanding that our gargoyle and unholy frenzy can be cast together but it is not necessary and by no means a benefit. Haste procs will decrease the cast time of gargoyle strikes but even if it is reduced to 1.0s the gargoyle will still only cast 16 strikes and fly away before finishing 17. 16 strikes is reached at 1600 personal haste. Ideally you would want to use gargoyle durring a proc point, however, frenzy can be used much like ERW as either a increase to a proc point or in order to speed up regen durring a resource starved portion of a fight.



With that being said, why is it that on almost every top 200 parse (including Autopy's 52k parse) every DK has used UF with Garg? Also Autopsy in your parse you had UF while Lust was up unless I'm reading this wrong.

Posted Image

I can understand you used UF at the start to gain more resources since you used the 60/70 RP you had on the Garg and was in need of runes if that was the case. But couldn't you just save UF for after lust? Just wondering if there was a certain reasoning for this :x

#11 optional22

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 03:10 PM

With that being said, why is it that on almost every top 200 parse (including Autopy's 52k parse) every DK has used UF with Garg? Also Autopsy in your parse you had UF while Lust was up unless I'm reading this wrong.

I can understand you used UF at the start to gain more resources since you used the 60/70 RP you had on the Garg and was in need of runes if that was the case. But couldn't you just save UF for after lust? Just wondering if there was a certain reasoning for this :x


A few things about this. Firstly, I explained already in the 3 minute CD section on the thread the reasoning behind delaying UF from Lust, and why in the image you show above why I would not separate them. Secondly, the trick with using UF as a resource starved cooldown is, quite frankly, new to me. I hadn't thought of it before, so I haven't used that tactic in a parse yet.

#12 Skullbound

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 03:16 PM

Ah I see thank you for clearing that up! Seeing it as a #2 parse, I figured it was the best thing to do.

#13 mikikas

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 04:08 PM

With that being said, why is it that on almost every top 200 parse (including Autopy's 52k parse) every DK has used UF with Garg? Also Autopsy in your parse you had UF while Lust was up unless I'm reading this wrong.


Good question. You have to keep in mind that just because two things happen at the same time does not mean they have an effect on each other. In a fight like the one parsed in your comment it is more an illustration of the intricacies of cd decision making and not that UF was used to buff the gargoyle. As has been said UF can have 2 uses.

The first is to increase burst dps via regen, attacks and therefore output from the player durring a high proc portion of the fight. It just so happens that this is also an opportune time to use gargoyle because you also want as many procs going when it is summoned.

The second use of UF is to increase sustained dps or to regen resources when starved. Using it like this has a few different factors weighing the decision. One is fight length. On a short fight (4 min or less) you have a narrow window in which to delay UF at the start in order to ensure you can use it again, you also have many other regen tools at your disposal, ams, ERW lust etc so the question is are you going to become resource starved in the first 30 sec of a a 4 min fight like Ultax? Doubtful, so you can default to using UF on the proc portion.

Longer fight's or add intensive fight's provide other option's. For example warlord or yor'sahj. Warlord you could use gargoyle durring proc points regardless of whether you are on the boss directly. If procs start durring the black phase, just summon it on the boss as you run out. Frenzy when on the boss and resource starved. Yor'sahj again gargoyle on proc points and try and reserve frenzy for the first wave of black adds for ghoul aoe and to regen runes for personal aoe. If it comes off cd with only a min left to the fight maybe use it sooner rather than waiting for another wave of adds that may never come but again it is very on the fly decision making.

Anyways the point is that UF/Gargoyle will still sometimes line up, there is nothing wrong with that as long as it was separate decisions for each that caused them to be in sync not because it was thought that one benefited the other.

Excellent thread btw op.

#14 Uspoonybard

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 09:01 PM

also another reason for using UF during a sustained time on the boss is just for more gurth procs, if you're going that route. Since our only real melee attacks are FS, SS, and normal white swings this puts rng in your favor for more tentacle procs.

#15 Lamperouqe

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 12:18 AM

I've almost always used my UF on the first GCD of the pull to help me proc everything and stack trinkets up for my garg as fast as possible. How I use it later in the fight depends on fight length, but I just about always line it up with my gargs. For one if I'm not going to delay my 3-min CD:s they naturally overlap. Secondly, if I delay my garg I will have my second potion, CD:s and trinket procs up at that moment, also making it an ideal place to use UF. Being hasted also helps with the high RP cost of the garg.

#16 Minoan

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 03:29 AM

One silly trick which sounds like old good t12 buff abuse in the beginning of the content. If you're standing near boss, full RP-capped, and you have a certtain glyph, but your heals drinking|you're waiting 20 sec to Lust from the beginning of the fight, you're interested to keep DT as soon as pull starts. Usuallly it is 30sec+ 2-3 coils in pet given by full RPcap+HoW and DnD into nowhere to regen it. What I'm doing is, if we're waiting for something or explaining the tactics to the new person-simply start stripping, equipping white non-epic gear, to decrease your pet's HP and then dress up back. It will give your pet non-full health bar, which can be fulfilled by coils which will cost you just 14 RP. Awesome trick if you want to DT as soon as you will stack|proc your trinkets.
Haven't seen that trick in Merciless DK thread.
Autopsy, I'm your very fan since 4.0.3, that thread is amazing. Keep it up, thank you very much!

#17 Droisa

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 12:01 AM

One silly trick which sounds like old good t12 buff abuse in the beginning of the content. If you're standing near boss, full RP-capped, and you have a certtain glyph, but your heals drinking|you're waiting 20 sec to Lust from the beginning of the fight, you're interested to keep DT as soon as pull starts. Usuallly it is 30sec+ 2-3 coils in pet given by full RPcap+HoW and DnD into nowhere to regen it. What I'm doing is, if we're waiting for something or explaining the tactics to the new person-simply start stripping, equipping white non-epic gear, to decrease your pet's HP and then dress up back. It will give your pet non-full health bar, which can be fulfilled by coils which will cost you just 14 RP. Awesome trick if you want to DT as soon as you will stack|proc your trinkets.
Haven't seen that trick in Merciless DK thread.
Autopsy, I'm your very fan since 4.0.3, that thread is amazing. Keep it up, thank you very much!


You know what? That sounds like a good idea that will be nice with the deaths embrace glyph refunding rp if the deathcoil heals the pet. Thank for pointing it out

#18 Minoan

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 03:22 AM

You know what? That sounds like a good idea that will be nice with the deaths embrace glyph refunding rp if the deathcoil heals the pet. Thank for pointing it out


Sounds trolly, I've just want to show how to spend 14rp instead of 34 if you want to start the battle capped.

#19 optional22

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 03:16 AM

One silly trick which sounds like old good t12 buff abuse in the beginning of the content. If you're standing near boss, full RP-capped, and you have a certtain glyph, but your heals drinking|you're waiting 20 sec to Lust from the beginning of the fight, you're interested to keep DT as soon as pull starts. Usuallly it is 30sec+ 2-3 coils in pet given by full RPcap+HoW and DnD into nowhere to regen it. What I'm doing is, if we're waiting for something or explaining the tactics to the new person-simply start stripping, equipping white non-epic gear, to decrease your pet's HP and then dress up back. It will give your pet non-full health bar, which can be fulfilled by coils which will cost you just 14 RP. Awesome trick if you want to DT as soon as you will stack|proc your trinkets.
Haven't seen that trick in Merciless DK thread.
Autopsy, I'm your very fan since 4.0.3, that thread is amazing. Keep it up, thank you very much!


I didn't think of that. I'll add it to the thread! Thanks!

#20 Droisa

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 01:13 PM

Sounds trolly, I've just want to show how to spend 14rp instead of 34 if you want to start the battle capped.


Didnt mean to come off as trolly was genuinely saying it was a good idea to get transformed quicker and increase dps




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