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Unholy DPS 5.2 | Thunderstruck


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#1 Matron Heartless

Matron Heartless

    Von Kaiser

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Posted 28 August 2012 - 04:58 AM

Updated: 4/16/2013, Content Current for Mists of Pandaria 5.2.x

Posted Image
=Introduction===Abbreviations and Keywords==[TABLE="head"]Term | Meaning
AMS | Anti-Magic Shell
AMZ | Anti-Magic Zone
AotD | Army of the Dead
AoE | Area of Effect
BB | Blood Boil
BiS | Best in Slot
BP | Blood Plague
BS | Blood Strike
BT | Blood Tap
CoI| Chains of Ice
CU | Control Undead
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
EP | Ebon Plaguebringer
ERW | Empower Rune Weapon
FeS | Festering Strike
FF | Frost Fever
FP | Frost Presence
Gary | Gargoyle
GCD | Global Cooldown
GoX | Glyph of X
HoW | Horn of Winter
IBF | Icebound Fortitude
ICD | Internal Cooldown
IT | Icy Touch
MF | Mind Freeze
NS | Necrotic Strike
OB | Outbreak
PoF | Path of Frost
PS | Plague Strike
RA | Raise Ally
RC | Runic Corruption
RE | Runic Empowerment
Rez | Resurrect
RP | Runic Power
SD | Sudden Doom
SI | Shadow Infusion
SS | Scourge Strike
SR | Soul Reaper
Timmy | Ghoul Pet
TX | Tier X
UB | Unholy Blight
UF | Unholy Frenzy
UP | Unholy Presence[/TABLE]

==New in Patch 5.2==
Unholy Related Notes (aka "Confetti Time!")
  • Death Siphon now heals for 150% of the damage dealt (was 100%).
  • Conversion now costs 5 Runic Power plus 5 per second thereafter, down from 10 Runic Power plus 10 per second.
  • Death Knights now maintain the same health percentage when switching into and out of Blood Presence.
  • Blood Plague now deals 15% more damage.
  • Frost Fever now deals 15% more damage.
  • Strangulate's cooldown has been reduced to 60 seconds (was 2 minutes).
  • Asphyxiate's cooldown has been reduced to 30 seconds (was 1 minute).
  • Unholy
    • Reaping now also applies to Icy Touch.
    • Summon Gargoyle no longer costs Runic Power.
    • Gargoyle Strike now also deals Shadow damage, in addition to Nature damage.
    • Ebon Plaguebringer now causes Plague Strike to inflict Frost Fever, in addition to its other effects.
    • Scourge Strike now deals 3.8% more damage.
  • Frost and Unholy Tier-14 2-piece set bonus has been reduced to 4% (was 10%) increased damage on Frost Strike, Obliterate, and Scourge Strike.


Important Note: Some tooltips and item links are still being updated in the Wowhead database from PTR. As such, names and numerical values are appearing incorrectly for many entries. For Glyphs and Gems, I decided to include their links despite some anomolies since they're either minor or simple to correct.

==Previous Changes of Note==
What changed for Death Knights between Cataclycsm and Mists of Pandaria? If you're a returning player, this should help get you up to speed.
Spoiler

 1[/hr]=Talents=
The following talent tables include a description of each option and the uses they are most suited to. At the end of each tier, I will make a final analysis to help explain the pros, cons, and key differences between your options. There is no set spec anymore; ultimately, you may pick your current talent lineup based on available information, your personal preference, and the fight at hand.

==Level 56==
[TABLE]Posted Image | Roiling Blood Posted Image  1[/hr] Your Blood Boil ability now also triggers Pestilence if it strikes a diseased target.
| Roiling Blood is suitable whenever you will be AoEing a lot of mobs that do not spawn all at once, i.e. in staggered aggro. With this talent you can immediately Blood Boil because it will act as an automatic disease spreader between the targets who are already infected and those that are not.

Posted Image | Plague Leech Posted Image  1[/hr] Draw forth the infection from an enemy, consuming your Blood Plague and Frost Fever diseases on the target to activate a random fully-depleted rune as a Death Rune.
| Given that Unholy has Festering Strike to prolong the duration of our diseases, we are looking at a benefit of 1 Unholy Rune every minute (we're not saving a Frost Rune anymore because Plague Strike now applies Frost Fever). This ability and benefit reads nicely on paper but the practical use of it can be a challenge. Diseases should be consumed by Plague Leech within < 3 seconds remaining and that's a small window of opportunity. For the users of the default UI, timing an ability that accurately is difficult since your visibility is limited to two very tiny boxes. For users of mods, the visual complication can be removed but it's still one more element to micromanage.

Posted Image | Unholy Blight Posted Image  1[/hr] Surrounds the Death Knight with a vile swarm of unholy insects for 10 sec, stinging all enemies within 10 yards every 1 sec, infecting them with Blood Plague and Frost Fever.
| In a standard single target situation, Unholy Blight wouldn't be needed because you've managed to maintain your diseases on the target with only Festering Strike and Outbreak. Again in reality, a.k.a. the unfortunate place we've found ourselves in, diseases sometimes fall off the truck when Outbreak is on cooldown. Maybe there was nasty stuff on the floor, there were movement problems, you had to rez someone, or you made a mistake. If you're ever faced with having to manually reapply diseases through IT/PS, Unholy Blight becomes a slight rune savings and quality of life improvement, simple as that. Unholy Blight can also be useful apart from being a cooldown band-aid. For AoE, trash clearing, and 5-mans, and scenarios Unholy Blight is a quick, Pestilence-free disease applier.
[/TABLE]

Final Analysis: If you're undaunted by, or actually enjoy, micromanaging the timers required to Plague Leech correctly, it has a slight benefit over Unholy Blight. Otherwise, Unholy Blight is plenty useful in dungeons and has repairing effects on play errors if Boss battles get messy. Roiling Blood can be taken when improved, staggered AoE is demanded.
==Level 57==
[TABLE]Posted Image | Lichborne Posted Image  1[/hr] Draw upon unholy energy to become undead for 10 sec. While undead, you are immune to Charm, Fear, and Sleep effects, and Death Coil will heal you.
| This talent will probably appeal more to Blood spec and PvPers. For us, Death Coil healing is obviously a direct trade for DPS. Lichborne Death Coils will unfortunately not contribute towards Runic Corruption or Runic Empowerment because they do not operate off of heals (only damage).

Posted Image | Anti-Magic Zone Posted Image  1[/hr] Places a large, stationary Anti-Magic Zone that reduces spell damage done to party or raid members inside it by 75%. The Anti-Magic Zone lasts for 10 sec or until it absorbs at least X spell damage.
| Anti-Magic Zone sets itself apart as the only talent in this tier that has party and raid-wide benefit. Like our classic AMZ, this stationary bubble shields us and anyone smart enough to take a hint. Unlike the classic AMZ, we can now target the location where it will be dropped (akin to how DnD is cast). Also, one important thing that a lot of people underestimate is the amount of damage that AMZ can absorb. Its best use is against a large amount of damage that occurs to everyone simultaneously. A good example of this would be the Elementium Bolt on Madness of Deathwing. When damage occurs in one burst, the Zone will first absorb 75% of the magical attack regardless of the amount. It then registers whether the amount absorbed exceeded the stated amount on the tooltip. If so, then it poofs.

Posted Image | Purgatory Posted Image  1[/hr] An unholy pacts grants you the ability to fight on through damage that would kill mere mortals. When you would sustain fatal damage, you instead are wrapped in a Shroud of Purgatory, absorbing incoming healing equal to the amount of damage prevented, lasting 3 sec. If any healing absorption remains when Shroud of Purgatory expires, you die. Otherwise, you survive. This effect may only occur every 3 min.
| Purgatory is what you could call 'redshirt insurance'. When you would receive damage that is fatal, you're instead dropped to 1 hp and given 3 seconds to heal back the amount of damage that you should have sustained. The best outcome is that you and your healers are able to dissipate the Shroud of Purgatory in time. You can even try to save yourself with a self-heal like Death Pact. Alternately, i.e. the 'classic Samurai movie' outcome, is that you sustain too much damage but you go down with a dramatic, drawn out death scene where you compliment your killer's excellent technique. Timmy will weep for your loss and seek appropriate revenge for his fallen master by taking up your sword. (Ok, why is this not a real addition to the talent? Just saying.) You'll notice that if you've used Purgatory, you receive Perdition (a debuff) that prevents the effect from occuring more than once every 3 minutes.
[/TABLE]

Final Analysis: Anti-Magic Zone carries the most universal benefit when spell damage is prevalent and you're providing enhanced survivability for someone besides yourself. Purgatory can be a great choice during risky progression fights or when a gear check causes personal survival issues. Lichborne isn't forgotten, but there are few occassions where you'll be inclined to take it.

==Level 58==
[TABLE]Posted Image | Death's Advance Posted Image  1[/hr] Movement speed increased by 30%. Cannot be slowed below 100% of normal run speed.
| Death's Advance is an amazing talent. We've been asking for ways to help us deal with the parity between casters and melee and increased mobility is a welcomed addition. The most common question concerning run speed is "What does this stack with?". The answer is, happily, many things...
| [TABLE="HEAD"]Effects | Movement Speed
Death's Advance passive without Unholy Presence | 110%
Unholy Presence | 115%
Unholy Presence + Death's Advance passive | 126%
10% of 115 is 11.5, so 115+11.5 = 126.5 | -
Unholy Presence + Death's Advance passive + Death's Advance active | 149%
The two DA effects do not stack so it's just 30% of Unholy Presence being gained | -
Unholy Presence + Death's Advance passive + Darkflight (Worgen Racial) | 161%[/TABLE]

Posted Image | Chillblains Posted Image  1[/hr] Victims of your Frost Fever disease are Chilled, reducing movement speed by 50% for 10 sec, and your Chains of Ice immobilizes targets for 3 sec.
| This is another talent which is going to appeal much more to other specs and PvPers. The only noted use for us is when we're talked into kiting mobs that would not be sufficiently handled by the Glyph of Death and Decay. Really though, if your main goal is kiting nasty things, you might as well go Frost.

Posted Image | Asphyxiate Posted Image  1[/hr] Lifts an enemy target off the ground and crushes their throat with dark energy, stunning them for 5 sec. Functions as a silence if the target is immune to stuns. Replaces Strangulate.
| Again, this talent seems better geared towards PvP since there tends to be other people in a group who are better suited to stunlocking a mob. That said, if you need a Choke-a-Cola, this is certainly a tasty one. Here's a screenshot of the talent in action.
[/TABLE]

Final Analysis: Death's Advance, all day long.

==Level 60==
[TABLE]Posted Image | Death Pact Posted Image  1[/hr] Drain vitality from an undead minion, healing the Death Knight for 50% of their maximum health and causing the minion to suffer damage equal to 50% of its maximum health.
| This talent has seen a lot of improvement. Firstly, we're no longer throwing Timmy under the bus and secondly we're being healed a lot more (+25%) in return. If you happened to have your Army of the Dead active, they can be used for Death Pact too. Another upshot is that it doesn't require any resources and it's off the GCD.

Posted Image | Death Siphon Posted Image  1[/hr] Deal X Shadowfrost damage to an enemy, healing the Death Knight for 150% of damage dealt.
| This ability received a +50% healing buff in Patch 5.2. Death Siphon, for Unholy, is superior than using Death Strike but it requires the expenditure of a Death rune and it is on the GCD. The positives are that it can occur as often as you feel like spending Death runes, it's ranged, and it scales with AP and mastery. Death Siphon could be good on fights where the boss is playing peek-a-boo with you (like Alysrazor or Hagara) and you are left with some resources and no target.

Posted Image | Conversion Posted Image  1[/hr] Continuously converts Runic Power to health, restoring 3% of maximum health every 1 sec. Only base Runic Power generation from spending runes may occur while Conversion is active. This effect lasts until canceled, or Runic Power is exhausted.
| Conversion costs 5 RP on the first tick to cast and has an upkeep of 5 RP for as long as you have RP to spend or cancel the effect manually. Sacrificing an almost full pool of Runic Power would net you close to 60% of your maximum health over 20 seconds. This trade can also impact the effectiveness of your Level 75 talent if you have significantly less outgoing Death Coils. If you compared Conversion to Death Pact, the obvious pants kick is that you have to spend 100 RP to gain 1-10% more health. Still, there are other aspects to keep in mind. One positive is that you're not limited to a 2 minute timer, so you could apply heals over time as often as you had the RP to back it up. You could also change your perspective to look at Conversion as more of a recuperative effect during a lull rather than an "Oh sh!#, hold my beer!" type of heal. If, for example, you're inbetween pulls or phases, you could use your leftover RP to heal yourself rather than watch it go to waste.
[/TABLE]

Final Analysis: Death Pact offers us the most healing for the least opportunity cost to DPS.

==Level 75==
[TABLE]Posted Image | Blood Tap Posted Image  1[/hr] Each damaging Death Coil, Frost Strike, or Rune Strike generates 2 Blood Charges, up to a maximum of 12 charges. Blood Tap consumes 5 Blood Charges to activate a random fully-depleted rune as a Death Rune.
| In its most current iteration, Blood Tap is back off the GCD and the Blood Charges have a duration of 24 seconds which is refreshed with each new generation. One other distinguishing feature of Blood Tap is that the consumption will activate a fully-depleted rune as a Death Rune. Even though it's not in the tooltip, Blood Tap's priority for Unholy spec is to activate depleted Blood and Frost Runes rather than Unholy ones. It would be wonderful if this was a baseline ability, but such is unlife.

Posted Image | Runic Empowerment Posted Image  1[/hr] When you land a damaging Death Coil, Frost Strike, or Rune Strike, you have a 45% chance to activate a random fully-depleted rune.
|Its effect on rune activation is random but it's completely passive and not open to error.

Posted Image | Runic Corruption Posted Image  1[/hr] When you land a damaging Death Coil, Frost Strike, or Rune Strike, you have a 45% chance to activate Runic Corruption, increasing your rune regeneration rate by 100% for X sec.
| The time that a Runic Corruption will last is variable and decreasing based on your character's haste because RC's actual duration is 30% of your rune regen time. So, if you had a base rune speed of 7s, your RC would alter your rune speed to 3.5s for 2.1s. Again, this talent is completely passive and it affects all runes equally.
[/TABLE]

Final Analysis: Choose where you want your regen shot administered. "Would you like this shot in the bum, shoulder, or 'surprise me'?" They're simulating very closely with one another (all within <2% range). Blood Tap is testing highest and provides an elective window to use the proc which places the reward or blame on you. If you're more dependent on Death Runes (for Death Siphon or perhaps Necrotic Strike), then Blood Tap provides that specific gain you're looking for too. Runic Empowerment can also be manipulated to a small degree (i.e. 'gaming') by purposely avoiding the full depletion of a rune. Runic Corruption suffers some due to the inverse haste scaling, but its mechanic is still interesting to a number of players.

==Level 90==
[TABLE]Posted Image | Gorefiend's Grasp Posted Image  1[/hr] Shadowy tendrils coil around all enemies within 20 yards of a target (hostile or friendly), pulling them to the target's location.
| Gorefiend's Grasp is like an AoE deathgrip, but with some crucial differences. Firstly, it doesn't taunt the enemies and secondly, it pulls nearby enemies to a target. The target could be you or someone else entirely. The obvious PvE example would be to cast Gorefiend's Grasp on your tank in order to draw the mobs closer to them. Or, if your job was to help AoE a certain group of enemies, you could cast it on yourself to help keep those mobs in your range. The only caveat with Gorefiend's Grasp is don't attract more mobs than you can handle. Lastly, you may have also noticed that this talent says you can designate a hostile target for Gorefriend's Grasp. Are the wheels turning yet? I'll let your imagination help you decide how best to use that.

Posted Image | Remorseless Winter Posted Image  1[/hr] Surrounds the Death Knight with a swirling tempest of frigid air for 8 sec, chilling enemies within 8 yards every 1 sec. Each pulse reduces targets' movement speed by 15% for 3 sec, stacking up to 5 times. Upon receiving a fifth application, an enemy will be stunned for 6 sec.
| Remorseless Winter could be used in a similar manner to Gorefiend's Grasp. After casting it on yourself, you become a mobile snare to either help a tank or condense mobs for AoE. If you're able to keep the mobs within your 8 yard range for 5 seconds (5 stacks), the resulting stun has a fair duration.

Posted Image | Desecrated Ground Posted Image  1[/hr] Corrupts the ground in a 8 yard radius beneath the Death Knight for 10 sec. While standing in this corruption, the Death Knight is immune to effects that cause loss of control. This ability instantly removes such effects when activated.
| The talent is roughly equivalent to the effect of a basic PvP trinket or a Shaman's Tremor Totem. Desecrated Ground has a 2 minute cooldown and will be a reprieve in more specific situations.
[/TABLE]

Final Analysis: None of these talents impart directly damaging effects, so your decision will revolve around the dungeons or raids at hand. Speaking generally, Gorefiend's Grasp and Remorseless Winter will have the widest appeal since they impart added mob control on a 1 minute timer. Desecrated Ground, on the other hand, is so specific that it will be a deliberate substitute for certain fights.

==Glyphs==
===Major===
The most important caveat about Major Glyphs is to avoid the Glyph of Outbreak. It's proving difficult enough to generate RP and it's not worth paying that much for it when we don't need it on a whim anyways.

Here are a few good choices to consider:
  • (read: Unholy Frenzy, Wowhead still has the wrong entry for this guy)
  • (read: Pestilence)
  • (read: Dark Simulacrum)
===Minor===
These tend to very small impact on gameplay, but I see a few of particular interest to us:

  • (read: Army of the Dead)
  • (read: Tranquil Grip, also keep in mind that Death Grip is now our only taunt)
  • (read: Path of Frost)
 1[/hr]=Priority & Play=
There are two "schools" of Unholy play being discussed right now at the onset of 5.2: standard and "Festerblight". In case you haven't perused the other threads in the EJ DK forum, let's talk about Festerblight for a moment.

/Pops in 1980's instructional VHS

The principle of Festerblight is rather simple: you use all your trinkets and buffs then apply your diseases with Unholy Blight. For the duration of the fight, you use Festering Strike more often to keep these original diseases applied. Not too complicated, right? Mendenbarr has a thread that covers the details of Festerblight if you'd like to dig in and give it a try:

http://elitistjerks....rblight/#Unholy

What dictates whether Festerblight outperforms a standard rotation?
  • AoE and target switching scenarios are unfavorable fights for Festerblight
  • Immunities and prolonged phasing will also interfere with disease rolling
  • Your trinkets will heavily impact the peak of buffs that can you achieve at the start of a fight and the overall effectiveness of that playstyle
Regardless of whether Festerblight interests you (and what changes occur over the next few weeks), knowing when to roll or reapply diseases is the staple of any good DK.
And now, back to our regularly scheduled style...
==Presence==Unholy ==Runeforge==Rune of the Fallen Crusader==Single Target Priority==

[TABLE="head"]Standard Single Target Priority
Target < 35%, Soul Reaper
> Diseases
> Dark Transformation
> Scourge Strike/Death and Decay* (UU or Death Runes are up)
> Festering Strike (BB and FF are up)
> Death Coil (Sudden Doom, high RP)
> Scourge Strike
> Festering Strike
> Horn of Winter[/TABLE]

Soul Reaper
Whether it's a boss or a lesser-type jerk, you want to take advantage of the direct damage and/or the haste bonus. Prepare yourself for the execute phase in of two ways:

For lower HP creatures, execute them as a source for the haste bonus; use Soul Reaper just before their life is gone.

For significant monsters and bosses, the slower decay of the health pool will obviously afford you multiple damaging uses. If you are feeling confident, you can be 'predictive' with your cast of Soul Reaper. For instance, if your target is =>35% but you feel, with a high amount of certainty, that it will dip below 35% within 5 seconds (or 45% if you have the T15 4 piece bonus), you can pre-cast Soul Reaper to increase the number of potential uses you will get. Every 6 seconds recast Soul Reaper until the target's death is imminent. Retain the necessary runes to make sure you can Soul Reaper without delay.

Diseases
From the start of combat, you can cast Outbreak or Unholy Blight (if you chose it as the lvl 56 talent option) to apply your diseases quickly. If Outbreak and Unholy Blight are unavailable for whatever reason, you will have re-apply diseases manually. Ah, but here's some good news! Plague Strike (via Ebon Plaguebringer) now applies Frost Fever for us. So, what was once an awkward tickle fight is now a gentlemanly subtitution of Plague Strike for Scourge Strike. Runes are left in a smoother order and that allows you to keep your rhythm which, I think, ultimately makes the spec more fun to play.

If you've spec'd into Plague Leech, you will want to consume your diseases with less than 3 seconds remaining and reapply them ASAP afterwards.
Ebon Plaguebringer was reworked so that Blood Plague applies a physical vulnerability and for each disease you apply to a target, your Scourge Strike will deal an additional 25% of the physical damage (up from 18%) done as shadow damage. Diseases should never be neglected anyways, so this is just one more good reminder.

Dark Transformation
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. One can 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.

Scourge Strike/Death and Decay*
Scourge Strike hits harder than Death and Decay by a margin so in a true single target scenario, you will only be using that attack. *Death and Decay can be used instead if there's a second target that would take multiple ticks of the spell.

Festering Strike
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 (as well as Pestilence and Blood Boil) 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 are sustainable. It’s like watering a plant of doom.

Death Coil
Similar to efficient rune expenditure, we want to capitalize on Sudden Doom procs. 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), to proc our level 75 talent of choice, and to avoid the RP cap.

Scourge Strike/Death and Decay* and Festering Strike
This is your ‘rinse and repeat’ in order when you have runes (and the cooldown) available. Again, only use Death and Decay if there's some amount of collateral.

Horn of Winter
When all else fails, you can toot your horn for RP and to maintain its uptime for yourself and cohorts. It’s a step above twiddling your thumbs during a GCD. ==AoE Target Priority==[TABLE="head"]AoE Target Priority
Diseases + spread (based on your talent pick at level 56)
> Dark Transformation
> Death and Decay (UU)
> Blood Boil (BB and FF or Death Runes)
> Scourge Strike (UU)
> Death Coil (Sudden Doom, high RP)
[/TABLE]

Firstly, you will no longer change presences for AoE since Frost's effects have been altered. Secondly, our AoE rotation works best when we're prepared and have planned our runes out ahead of time. The ideal way to enter AoE combat is with 4 Death Runes (DD|DD|UU). This allows us to spam Blood Boil ad nauseum. 2 Festering Strikes are an obvious way to fully deplete Blood and Frost Runes so that they come back as Death Runes.

Diseases
For staggered AoE situations, players with Roiling Blood can spread their diseases immediately from one infected target to others through Blood Boil (which saves a GCD). Players with Unholy Blight can of course use this ability to infect everything within 10 yards. If neither option is available, and the mobs will live more than a few seconds, then Pestilence is in order. Pestilence would also help to convert any remaining Blood Runes into Death Runes. 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.

Dark Transformation
Transforming Timmy when he's ready to hulk out is still very important.

Death and Decay/Scourge Strike (if on CD)
Drop Death and Decay to begin the cooldown and have a sustained AoE while you Blood Boil. Scourge Strike whenever your Death Runes are refilling and DnD is on cooldown.

Blood Boil
Blood Boil is now a part of Reaping for Unholy DKs which means that anytime we use it, those runes will become Death Runes when they activate. Fire at will!

Death Coil
Same as with single target priority.

==Ghoul==Timmy is still some of your best damage so it’s wise to learn how to use him properly.
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 Death’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.

==Survival and Utility==To quote Ghostcrawler, "Dungeons are hard."

Raise Ally
Raise Ally is instant cast, costs 30 Runic Power (down from 50), 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 60% health (up from 20%) and 20% mana. 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.

Control Undead
Just like the tooltip says, we can dominate an undead creature. While controlled, the time between the undead minion's attacks is increased by 30% and its casting speed is slowed by 20%. The effect lasts up to 5 min. It won't work on bosses, hostile player ghouls, or hostile player's with Lichborne active. Mobs it does work on will follow you around like a spooky puppy until the spell wears off or you cross a loading transition (instances, portals, hearth, logging, etc.). The downside is that Control Undead counts as your one and only pet. You can't control an NPC and your ghoul so its reward must be weighed against the crucial benefit of Timmy's DPS and delightful banter.

Anti-Magic Shell
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% (or 100% if glyphed) 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 will cause you to 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 under the effect.

The caveats associated with AMS is not to use it when you a required to get a magical debuff (which can be a gimmick in certain fights) and to not use it with AMZ expecting it to stack (Shell will override AMZ).

Other Resources
Don't forget that you have interrupts, Icebound Fortitude, Death Pact/Lichborne/Death Siphon, and Army of the Dead (aggro fodder if left unglyphed). ==Cooldowns==Unholy Frenzy & Gargoyle
Unholy Frenzy is essentially the same spell as before, however, it's not being treated as an enrage anymore (at least for the purposes of buff types). This removes whatever preferential treatment that Fury Warriors were getting previously. Hah! Take that, other class!

Unholy Frenzy and Heroism/Time Warp/Bloodlust do not stack, hence the former should be saved until the latter has worn off.

The easiest test for determining when/if you want to use Unholy Frenzy on yourself is whether you become GCD locked, simple as that.

Gary the Gargoyle has received quite a lot of love recently. Did those dance lessons pay off? Maybe it's Maybelline? Actually, it's probably because his cast no longer costs Runic Power AND his Gargoyle Strike now deals Shadow Damage in addition to Nature Damage. The removal of the Runic Power cost clears any doubt or reservation we may have had before about casting him. Call up Gary; that guy knows how to party!

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.

Army of the Dead
This is 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 unless you are glyphed 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.
==Consumables==Speaking of cake, consumables can add a significant bonus to your primary DPS stat. These are must haves for optimum performance.

[TABLE="head"]Type | Options
Flask | [Flask of Winter's Bite]
Potion | [Potion of Mogu Power]
Food | [Black Pepper Ribs and Shrimp][/TABLE] 1[/hr]

=Character Optimization===Race== There are immediate and undeniable PVE performance benefits to what race you select. Each race also brings unique aesthetics and story that is a totally separate matter of opinion.

===Alliance===
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[TABLE="head"]Worgen |
Viciousness | Increases critical strike chance by 1%
Darkflight | Increased movement speed by 40% for 10 seconds (2 min cooldown)
Aberration | Reduces Shadow and Nature damage taken by 1%
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.


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[TABLE="head"]Draenei |
Heroic Presence | Increases your chance to hit with all spells and attacks by 1%
Gift of the Naaru | Heals the target for 20% of the caster's total health over 15 sec (3 min cooldown)
Gemcutting | Jewelcrafting skill increased by 10
Shadow Resistance | Reduces Shadow damage taken by 1%[/TABLE]

Verdict: 1% hit will reduce the cap and allow for some more creative reforging. The free heal is also significant.


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[TABLE="head"]Human|
Every Man for Himself | Removes movement & control impairing effects (2 min cooldown)
Diplomacy | Reputation gains increased by 10%
Mace & Sword Specialization | Expertise with swords and maces is increased by 1%
The Human Spirit | Spirit increased by 3%[/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.


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[TABLE="head"]Dwarf |
Stoneform | Remove poison, disease, and bleed effects; +10% damage reduction for 8 seconds (2 min cooldown)
Mace Specialization | Expertise with maces is increased by 1%
Frost Resistance | Reduces Frost damage taken by 1%
Explorer | You find additional fragments when looting archaeological finds and you can survey faster than normal archaeologists
Crackshot | Expertise with ranged weapons is increased by 1%[/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.


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[TABLE="head"]Gnome|
Escape Artist | Escape immobilization or movement speed reduction effect (1.5 min cooldown)
Shortblade Specialization | Expertise with Daggers and 1H-Swords is increased by 1%
Arcane Resistance | Reduces Arcane damage by 1%
Engineering Specialization | Engineering increased by 15 points
Expansive Mind | Mana pool is increased by 5%[/TABLE]

Verdict: As another form of movement restoration, Escape Artist has plenty of great PVE uses. The rest of their racials unfortunately fall short in terms of use for a Death Knight.


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[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 | Reduces Nature damage taken by 1%[/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.
===Horde===
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[TABLE="head"]Orc |
Blood Fury | Increase attack/spell power for 15 seconds (2 min cooldown)
Command | Damage dealt by Death Knight, Hunter, and Warlock pets increased by 2% (down from 5%)
Axe Specialization | Expertise with Fist Weapons, Axes, and 2-H Axes is increased by 1%
Hardiness | 15% stun duration reduction[/TABLE]

Verdict: Given that Orcs have both pet damage and attack power and extra expertise, they make really good Death Knights.

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[TABLE="head"]Goblin |
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.

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[TABLE="head"]Troll |
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
Deadeye | Expertise with ranged weapons is increased by 1%[/TABLE]

Verdict: A short haste bonus and a snare reduction isn't bad, but it's a downgrade in comparison to Orcs and Goblins.


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[TABLE="head"]Forsaken |
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 | Reduces Shadow damage taken by 1%
Touch of the Grave | Your attacks and damaging spells have a chance to drain the target, dealing X amount of Shadow damage and healing you for the same amount.[/TABLE]

Verdict: Touch of the Grave's damage/heal scales with mastery and is more optimized than what Belfs and the moo cows have to offer.

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[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 | Reduces Arcane damage taken by 1%[/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.

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[TABLE="head"]Tauren |
War Stomp | Stuns up to 5 enemies within 8yds for 2 seconds (2 min cooldown)
Endurance | Base health increased by 5%
Nature Resistance | Reduces Nature damage taken by 1%
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. "The cow goes 'boooooo'."

==Professions==
When it comes to professions, the biggest question is, "Which ones give the most strength?". Leatherworking provides a flat 330 strength benefit via its improved wrist enhancement - 10 more than its other competitors. Alchemy, Enchanting, Blacksmithing, Inscription, and Engineering are all on par by conveying 320 strength and are excellent choices as well. Engineering, as has been the case for a long while, provides us that strength via the Synapse Springs (Mark II) which can be used for 10s every 60s. It's slightly inferior if only for requiring people to remember to activate the springs, but there are some other convenience perks that makes Engineering appealing.

In terms of long term benefits, any of the aforementioned six tradeskills are great options. If you're looking to absolutely maximize your Death Knight's strength gains, you can relegate gathering to another character so that you have 640 bonus strength from crafting professions.

[table="head"]Name | Benefit
Alchemy | Alchemists receive the and an increase to the duration of related consumables. Do note that the tooltip, as of this writing, appears to be incorrect. Alchemists are experiencing a 320 stat bonus in actual practice.
Blacksmithing | Blacksmiths are able to socket both bracers and gloves with an additional socket. Each socket would then derive a 320 strength from 2x [Bold Primordial Ruby].
Enchanting | Enchanters may add [Enchant Ring - Greater Strength] to both rings for a total gain of 320 strength.
Engineering | Engineers can add [Synapse Springs] (Mark II) to gloves (1920 strength * 10s/ 60s cooldown = passive 320 strength) and it stacks with normal enchants.
Herbalism | Herbalists still have their castable heal and self-buff in the form of Lifeblood. The spell grants 2880 haste for 20 seconds on a 2 minute cooldown so, effectively, it conveys 480 haste.
Inscription | Similar to Leatherworkers, Inscriptionists can enhance shoulder enchants beyond the norm. By applying their , they gain 320 strength as well.
Jewelcrafting | Jewelcrafters may add 2x [Bold Serpent's Eye] to socket into your gear instead of 2x [Bold Primordial Ruby] equates to 330 additional strength.
Leatherworking | Leatherworkers have a wrist slot enhancement via Fur Lining - Strength. Where a normal person could enchant their wrists up to 170 strength, Leatherworkers add 500 strength, so 330 more.
Mining | Miners still receive a bonus to stamina and it has increased to 480.
Skinning | Likewise, Skinners receive their 480 critical strike rating bonus.
Tailoring | As with last patch, they still receive Swordguard Embroidery for a boost to AP.
[/table]

 1[/hr]=Gear Optimization=
==Stat Weights==
Level 90 Weights:

[table="head"]Stat | Weight
Strength | 1.00
Hit (to cap)| .77
Expertise (to cap)| .82
Haste|.52
Crit|.46
Mastery|.40
[/table]

Note: These preliminary values are based on test profiles and normalized to Strength.
==Stat Priority==Gearing, like your play choices, is also based upon a priority system. Included below is the order of most beneficial to least beneficial stats to help you make informed decisions about gear.

[table="head"]Standard Stat Priority
Strength > Hit/Expertise to Cap > Haste > Crit > Mastery > Agility[/table]

Hit
Hit to cap is extremely important. Not only does it determine your melee hit, but it's now relied on for your spell hit too. If you miss a lot, that’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).

At level 90, it takes 2550 hit rating to become hit capped for a raid boss (2210 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 character’s paper doll through simulations for a very general idea of how it will affect your real performance.

Expertise
As stated at the beginning of the guide, expertise will negate dodge AND spell miss, then parry. Therefore whatever value you have for expertise will combine with hit to determine your spell hit. Expertise, as such, has become incredibly valuable for us. At level 90, it takes 2550 expertise rating to become expertise capped for a raid boss (2210 for races with 1% added expertise).

Haste
Your GCD is affected by various factors such as expertise, Heroism/Bloodlust effects, your connection speed and so forth. 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.

Crit
Naturally, the fixes applied to minion stat inheritance has modified our stat priority selection.

Mastery
Mastery boosts our shadow damage via Dreadblade and has a bit less parity than before.
==Reforging==
In regards to reforging your gear, start with the hit and expertise cap and manage your DPS stat priority as above. I’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, you will need to specify your hit & expertise caps for 'close to' 2550 or 2210 (if you have a +1% racial). 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 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 and expertise ratings. Sometimes you will want to reforge away a cap stat 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.
  • Don't forget that you have options to change your cap stat values through gemming and enchanting too.
==Gems==
===Standard===
[table="head"] Color | Name
Red | (+160 strength)
Yellow | (+80 strength/+160 haste)
Blue | (+80 strength/+160 hit)
[/table]

You will defer to the red gem unless the socket bonus would provide more strength or enough of an important secondary stat. By applying our stat weights to the stats offered between gem choices and socket bonuses, it lets you determine if an upgrade exists.

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.

===Meta===
(+216 strength/3% crit effect)

or if you've completed the quest for Wrathion

[Capacitive Primal Diamond] (+324 Crit Rating and chance on melee or ranged hit to gain Capacitance. At 5 stacks, fires a Lightning Strike.)

===Chimera===
(+320 strength)

Note that JCs can have 2 Chimeras active at a time, not 3.

==Enchants==
[TABLE="head"]Slot | Enchant | Alternate
Shoulder | | (Inscription-only)
Back | [Enchant Cloak - Accuracy] | [Enchant Cloak - Superior Critical Strike]
Chest | [Glorious Stats] | -
Wrist | [Enchant Bracers - Exceptional Strength] | Fur Lining - Strength (Leatherworking-only)
Hands |Enchant Gloves - Super Strength | [Synapse Springs] (Mark II) (Engineering-only, stacks)
Waist | | -
Rings | | [Enchant Ring - Greater Strength] (Enchanting-only)
Legs |Angerhide Leg Armor| -
Feet | Enchant Boots - Greater Precision | Enchant Boots - Greater Haste
Weapon | [Rune of the Fallen Crusader] | -
[/TABLE]
==Level 90 Best in Slot==
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Big thanks to Magdalena of Whisperwind-US for assembling the BiS lists for everyone. This was an amazing effort and is greatly appreciated. As a reward, I'm giving him 2 x Frostmournes.

WARNING: DO NOT ACTUALLY DUAL WIELD UNLESS YOU ARE A MAGICAL, THEORYCRAFTING DOGGIE WITH FROSTMOURNES.


BiS - No Restrictions

[table='head']Slot| Piece
Head |
Neck |
Shoulders |
Back |
Chest |
Wrist |
Hands |
Waist |
Legs |
Feet |
Ring 1 |
Ring 2 |
Trinket 1 |
Trinket 2 |
Weapon |
[/table]

BiS - Excludes Heroic Lei Shen or Ra-den

[table='head']Slot| Piece
Head |
Neck |
Shoulders |
Back |
Chest |
Wrist |
Hands |
Waist |
Legs |
Feet |
Ring 1 |
Ring 2 |
Trinket 1 |
Trinket 2 |
Weapon |
[/table]

Important notes from Mags (with some references to the original Wowhead profiles):
  • Lists have now been updated to include 541 versions of BiS gear, where applicable.
  • Remember that 541 Heroic Thunderforged items will probably trump their 535 counterpart; Throne of Thunder has a massive loot table and most items have sidegrades.
  • I’ve included Greatsword of Frozen Hells as our BiS weapon after many requests. Please remember that this is a rare drop, so don’t count on it dropping off any one boss. A 541 version of Uroe is an obvious sidegrade to this.
  • Caustic Spike Bracers off Durumu replace the ones off Jin’rokh, since the latter seem to usually contain a randomized tank stat (though Mastery obviously has its uses for DPS). For Unholy DKs, we’ll likely want Haste or Crit on our bracers. Remember that the single stat usually has double the normal budget of an item, thus reforging can easily allow for greater balance between the two, if desired.
  • BiS cloak will definitely change in 5.3, given that we’ll have an ilvl 600 cloak available via the legendary quest.
  • Please remember that the difference between most items and their sidegrades is incredibly small. Chances are that unless you're grossly over the Hit or Expertise cap, a high ilvl version of a sidegrade (tier bonuses aside) will usually net more DPS.

===T15 Set Bonuses===
[table="head"]Tier 5 | Bonus
2 Piece | Your attacks have a chance to raise the spirit of a fallen Zandalari as your Death Knight minion for 15 sec.
4 Piece | Your Soul Reaper ability now deals additional Shadow Damage to targets below 45% instead of below 35%. Additionally, Killing Machine now also increases the critical strike chance of Soul Reaper.
[/table]
===T14 Set Bonuses===
At the end of 5.1, the 2 piece set bonus has been reduced to 4% (was 10%).

[table="head"]Tier 14 | Bonus
2 Piece | Your Obliterate, Frost Strike, and Scourge Strike deal 4% increased damage.
4 Piece | Your Pillar of Frost ability grants 5% additional Strength, and your Unholy Frenzy ability grants 10% additional haste.
[/table]

==Trinkets Explained==
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.

[table]Proc-variety Trinket Value = | (Passive Stat x Passive Stat Weight) + ((Proc stat x Proc Stat Weight) / 5)
Use-variety Trinket Value = | (Passive Stat x Passive Stat Weight) + ((Use stat x Use Stat Weight) / 6)[/table]

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.
==DK-Specific==
DKDiseases (link)
DK Diseases will track your diseases on your target. It provides both a numeric and color-coded indicator of the disease strength. The indicators help you to know when you should re-apply your diseases to increase your damage.

Doc's Debug Runes (link)

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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.
I am hoping that the remaining LUA errors will be fixed soon. The original author has apparently stopped playing, but I think someone will adopt the project again.

Magic Runes (link)

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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.

RuneHUD (link)
RuneHUD is a simple addon that moves the runes of your DK to make them a HUD (Heads Up Display). The runes are click through which means they don't intercept mouse clicks. RuneHUD has OmniCC support, will be hidden when in a vehicle and the individual runes will fade when on cooldown.

CLCDK (link)

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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, we’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. That’s a fine and reasonable use of a tool, just don’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.

DKOne (link)
Similar in nature to CLCDK, DKOne shows a Rune Display with additional information on runic power and dot timers. One important difference is that CLC does not show Soul Reaper, but DKOne does. It also shows the next two recommended actions and the next two cooldowns that will be up. It dynamically switches between melee, AOE and ranged priorities and whenever you change specs. It tracks the current number of AOE targets and estimates how long until the current target will die. There are up to 8 additional small buttons that you can set to track things like Blood Tap charges and Sudden Doom procs.
(Thanks Kirkvader of Turalyon for this recommendation!)

==Non-Specific==

NeedtoKnow (link)

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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.

Quartz (link)

The core of Quartz is a lightweight implementation of the standard casting bar with configurable size, text and icon positioning, and colors. Similar to Need to Know, Quartz will allow you to display custom timers on the mirror bars as well. Proc displays can likewise be added with the Quartz Procs Module. (Thanks to Kopex of Argent Dawn-EU for this recommendation!)

OmniCC (link)
OmniCC is an addon that adds text to items, spell and abilities that are on cooldown to indicate when they will be ready to use. In other words: it turns all the standard analogue cooldowns into digital ones.

Deadly Boss Mods (link)

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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 don’t already have this, get it yesterday. I have glowing recommendations for all its included features.

Recount (link)

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Recount is a graphical combat log meter complete with damage, healing, and more. This is the ‘How’s My Driving?’ 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 Recount, or Skada (as below), a 'must have' for a good DPS setup.

Skada Damage Meter (link)

Skada is a modular damage meter with various viewing modes. It is inspired mainly by Assessment, but also by Recount. Skada sports segmented fights and detailed views, while being highly efficient with memory. This is accomplished by aggregating data on fight segments. If you're looking for a supremely lightweight meter, definitely check this one out! (Thanks to Kopex of Argent Dawn-EU for this recommendation!)

ReforgeSaver (link)

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 WoWWiki’s ‘Making a Macro’ guide. Don’t let the involvement of code deter you from macros. They’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 ‘Name’ is the spell/ability.
#showtooltip 
/startattack
/cast Name
/script UIErrorsFrame:Clear();

Death 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 Coil

Targeting Toggles
#showtooltip 
/cast !Anti-Magic Zone
#showtooltip 
/cast !Death and Decay

Special Fight Abilities
Sometimes addons will interfere with abilities you receive during encounters (think: Heroic Will on Ultraxion) so it's nice to have a hard-set button that can achieve the same effect.
/click ExtraActionButton1

Max 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=Mists of Pandaria raid information is welcomed via PM. 5.1 strats have been relegated to a 'Legacy' section.
===Legacy===
Spoiler

 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:


 1[/hr]=Appendix=
==Corrections and Updates==If you find any inaccurate, incomplete or omitted material, I would very much appreciate a PM so that I can make the necessary corrections. It's entirely possible for me to mistype or forget to include something. It would never be my intention to knowingly confuse or misinform people. I appreciate suggestions and hope this can be a springboard for better play, comprehension, and discussion.
==Special Thanks==The information in this guide is gathered from a multitude of sources: personal experience (both the good & laughable), my wonderful and insightful DK friends in #Acherus, private messages, posts on the WoW forums, past threads and discussion there at EJ, Twitter connections, and other community sites. I have cited these helpful sources where specifics are lended.

  • Special thanks to Magdalena. If you frequent Death Knight threads, you know that he is an avid contributor and advocate for our class's development. Thank you for all your continued support and efforts. The chat channel, forums, and game wouldn't be the same without ya!
  • Cheers (and pie) to the core group of #Acherus. Every time I log into chat, I'm reminded of what makes this group great. I have been impressed all year long by the threads and initiative of my many DK friends. You all better come to Irvine in November for Blizzcon! There's partying to be had.
  • 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.
==Change Log==
8/27/2012- Thread created.
9/23/2012- Thread updated for MoP release.
9/28/2012- BiS and T14 set bonuses added.
10/3/2012- Raid strategies added.
10/15/2012- Raid strategies and a correction to professions added.
10/29/2012- Added mod recommendation
11/2/2012- Added mod recommendations
11/28/2012- Raid strategies added for Heart of Fear.
1/23/2013- Fixed BiS (thanks Mags!).
3/4/2013- Received little sleep, updated for 5.2.
4/16/2013- BiS Update, Mod Update

#2 Magdalena

Magdalena

    Heroic Class of Heroism

  • Moderators
  • 92 posts

Posted 28 August 2012 - 04:21 PM

Here's some relevant 5.0 changes that the guide doesn't mention, but that are quite relevant to Death Knights. Keep in mind that the majority of these will be more obvious at Level 90 than at Level 85:

*Disease damage has been increased significantly compared to Cataclysm levels. Their AP coefficients and scaling are higher than before, thus making them a larger portion of Unholy's single target and AoE damage.

*Gary the Gargoyle now scales exclusively with Spell Haste. This means that he'll continue to scale with any Haste from gear, but will no longer scale with Melee/Ranged Haste effects. As of the last Beta build, he still appeared to be having issues with target switching, whereby he would refuse to switch targets if his original target died. His casts also had stutters, making his Haste scaling quite iffy.

*Army of the Dead received a substantial numbers buff. The fact that its rune cost and channel did not change does still mean that it is best used before the pull or during a transition phase. Having said this, it does deal damage more fitting to a cooldown of its length compared to its Cataclysm numbers.
Furthermore, it can be glyphed to remove the Taunt element of the ghouls. Depending on the situation, this may or may not be a good thing for your raid, but is likely to be very useful in 5 man or add-heavy scenarios for DPS DKs.
Best of all Blizzard's stated intent is to have cooldowns of Army's length benefit from a new technology that ensures they are up and available for use with each fresh boss pull.

*Both Army and Gary no longer snapshot the summoning DK's stats at the time of the cast. This has both good and bad implications. On the plus side, there's no longer any need to "hold back" casting either cooldown for the sake of better proc alignment- they will scale to match constantly. On the downside, this also means that our days of "rolling" very powerful minions that benefit from all procs present at the time of their summoning for the length of their duration are over.
All in all, I feel it's a positive change that will ensure RNG doesn't play too heavy a role with how much damage we're able to get out of these cooldowns per pull.

#3 mdlobod

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 01:10 AM

What happened with the raise dead Glyph? was it removed? now our pet will have less hp and Strength?

#4 Magdalena

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 01:26 AM

What happened with the raise dead Glyph? was it removed? now our pet will have less hp and Strength?


Yes, it was removed. The 40% Strength loss was compensated for by increasing the potency of Shadow Infusion and Dark Transformation back to 50% and 100% respectively (compared to the 30% and 60% damage bonuses they conferred in 4.3).

The Stamina loss seems to have been mostly compensated by some fixes to pet scaling from Beta.

Some other points for for us to note:

*Army of the Dead is dealing more damage than we'd even anticipated. 3 weeks ago on Beta, it dealt roughly 500k damage at Level 90 with procs/buffs. However, on last night's 25 heroic Ultraxion kill, it dealt well over 700k damage for me. I've also gotten reports of it dealing up nearly 1 million damage in some cases.
Unfortunately, this also comes with a downside: Although Warlocks have reported their 5/10 minute cool downs benefitting from Blizzard's implemented "cooldown reset" technology, the same cannot be said for Death Knights. Hopefully this is a bug.

*While Rune Regen talents can certainly be said to be a choice at Level 90, the Tier 13 four set bonus makes for a clear winner at the time of this writing. Runic Corruption yield the highest uptime (due to increased proc chance) for the four set, and should thus be defaulted to by pretty much all DPS DK specs. Blood Tap has its value further diminished by not interacting with the four set in any way, as well as our toolkit at 85 lacking Soul Reaper (the uptime of which is where Blood Tap truly shines).

#5 Sonustor

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 05:06 AM

Unholy Blight has some value in prolonged diseases rolling. Normally if your diseases drop 10s before a creche proc then you just get no benefit. With Unholy Blight, you can refresh with Outbreak and then reapply when whatever awesome proc activates.

I was pretty easily able to manage right at 90% uptime on creche procced diseases on a dummy. I feel like this is something that isn't being represented in sims.

#6 Magdalena

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 05:24 AM

Unholy Blight also has the added benefit of currently counting as melee attacks for the purposes of proccing Gurthalak. Thus, using it in a large pack (say, Yor'sahj adds) can result in some rather beefy procs.

I'm also currently experimenting with Blood Boil/Roiling Blood also fulfilling Gurthalak's "melee attack" requirement. When I soloed Onyxia as Blood last night, it worked ridiculously well on whelps and procced a large number of tentacles within a few seconds. Unfortunately, I can't tell if it's isolated to Blood Boil, requires Roiling Blood or even requires Scarlet Fever.

#7 Daellia

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 09:27 PM

Seems there's a bug with Festering Strike. It's adding more than 6 seconds to diseases. I noticed this because when using Festering Strike in the unholy rotation, Ebon Plaguebringer was ending up farther and farther below my remaining disease durations, despite starting less than 1 second below them.

After some testing, Ebon Plaguebringer is getting exactly 6 seconds added to it's duration. The diseases, however, seem to be getting 6 seconds plus the remaining time before the next tick added to them. If you use Festering Strike right before a tick, you get almost exactly 6 seconds. If you use it right after a tick, you get close to 9 seconds added to the diseases.

For example, when I cast Outbreak (10 ticks remaining), then cast 4 Festering Strikes willy-nilly, I got 19 ticks (18 expected). However, when I cast Outbreak then 6 Festering Strikes (I got overzealous), specifically cast them right after a tick interval, I got 26 ticks (22 expected), which is consistent with gaining 1.51-2.49 seconds additional per use (so 7.51 to 8.49 seconds per use).

I'll try to get some combat log data later tonight when I have time.

#8 Magdalena

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Posted 31 August 2012 - 01:12 AM

Some disappointing news concerning Army of the Dead and Empower Rune Weapon's cooldowns: Ghostcrawler has confirmed that them not resetting with every pull is intended.

Edit: Very pleased to report that the above report about Army, ERW and similar cooldowns has just been invalidated by Ghost's latest post. We can look forward to them being appropriately reset with every boss pull now!

#9 Sagemor

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 01:44 AM

Dark Transformation
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 couple of things that IMO should be noted. The Shadow Infusion buff appears on you now as well (tooltip reads: "Pet damage dealt increased by x%.") Not sure if this may cause it to double stack, cause the ghoul still has its own tooltip, or what, but there ya go. Also, if you pick up Unholy Blight, and use any Festering Strikes afterwards, each tick will get rid of the added time gained from FS. So it would be a good idea to keep that in mind.

Edit: Also something that I have noticed but never seen posted anywhere. Say (since we are unholy) you have ready to use DD DD UU runes. Using them gets interesting, due to the order they get used. When you use an ability, it will use first the spots that would normally be used, regardless of death rune status (so say you use FS again, it will then use the first and third death runes, or the first slot for blood and frost). But when you spam scourge strike, cause you know you want to, it will use converted bloods first, then the converted frost. Which could lead to a rotation flux if you are trying to maximize FS to keep your diseases rolling without needing a refresh.

#10 Kiræl

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 10:02 AM

A couple of things that IMO should be noted. The Shadow Infusion buff appears on you now as well (tooltip reads: "Pet damage dealt increased by x%.") Not sure if this may cause it to double stack, cause the ghoul still has its own tooltip, or what, but there ya go.


It was confirmed quite a while back that the player side buff is cosmetic only, possibly to aid people in tracking it in lieu of addons. We were kinda hoping that it would allow us to "save" SI stacks if Timmy died an unfortunate death or despawned randomly as he tends to do but alas it was not to be.

#11 Magdalena

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Posted 07 September 2012 - 09:23 PM

So, something of note is a nerf to Blood Boil that MMO-Champion didn't datamine. The nerf was prompted by Blood AoE (which was becoming a little ridiculous), but has ramifications for us as well.

The base damage on Blood Boil is up to 3855 roughly, while the AP coefficient is now around 12.48%. Blood Boil thus seems to have been nerfed by about 40% for Unholy DKs.

#12 Magdalena

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Posted 14 September 2012 - 12:24 PM

Ghostcrawler took the time to respond to a post of mine asking about Blood Boil's seeming nerf. Here is what he had to say on the matter: Beta Class Balance Analysis Pt. II - Forums - World of Warcraft

The relevant quote:

No, it sounds like you’re missing the very large increase to its base damage. It should change Unholy’s AoE damage somewhat, but it shouldn’t be huge. At low gear levels, it may be a buff even.


So, still an overall scaling nerf by about 8%, if Slant's math is accurate, but not as much of a blow as we'd previously thought.

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#13 kend7510

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 02:24 PM

Hello all, I have noticed something while simming with SimulationCraft. When I add DnD into my priority list (it's not in default), my dps dropped by about 15% (single target, non moving). Is it a problem with the sim or should I not DnD while single targeting?

#14 Magdalena

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 02:47 PM

Hello all, I have noticed something while simming with SimulationCraft. When I add DnD into my priority list (it's not in default), my dps dropped by about 15% (single target, non moving). Is it a problem with the sim or should I not DnD while single targeting?


It's possible Heartless may have forgotten to update this particular section of her guide- DnD is currently looking to not be worth using on pure single target fights.

Your 15% number sounds off though. The damage difference between the two is far less- literally 1-3%, if we're to believe Euliat's numbers.

For comparison's sake, anything involving 2 or more targets, movement away from a stationary boss or a situation where you might not have time to Scourge Strike makes DnD very much worth using.

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#15 Damyou

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Posted 26 September 2012 - 07:34 AM

Has anyone done any testing on AoE regarding using 2xBB and dumping the orphan frost runes with IT compared to hitting FSx2 and waiting for 4xBB and running them continuously?

What kind of uptime do adds/group mobs have to have before it becomes worthwhile waiting for the set of death runes?

#16 Matron Heartless

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 04:49 AM

Since the expansion has been out for a bit, if anyone has more new raid strategies to share, I'd love to incorporate them. Additionally, add-on recommendations would also be welcomed.

#17 Usbeorn

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Posted 01 December 2012 - 04:31 AM

Can the cooldowns section be edited to reflect the fact that Unholy Frenzy stacks with Heroism? All this time, I've been wondering why when I screw up and use UF at the same time hero goes out my dps is higher then when I make sure to keep them seperate. =P They stack really nicely too:

Normal: 56.08%
With Unholy Frenzy: 87.30%
With Heroism: 102.90%
With Both: 143.48%

And that's without 4-piece (or raid buffs). =D

#18 Jessamy

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Posted 01 December 2012 - 03:15 PM

They stack really nicely too.

There are two problems with your premise. First, stacking your haste cooldowns results in more haste while they're active, but yields more time when they're not active, so your average haste ends up about the same either way. Here are your findings:

none 1.5608
UF   (1.5608)(1.2000)=1.8730
lust (1.5608)(1.3000)=2.0290
both (1.5608)(1.2000)(1.3000)=2.4348

But when you account for uptime (source), your average haste becomes

none     1.5608
UF       (1.8730)(0.1918)+(1.5608)(1-0.1918)=1.6207
lust     (2.0290)(0.0902)+(1.5608)(1-0.0902)=1.6030
stacked  (2.4348)(0.0902)+(1.8730)(0.1918-0.0902)+(1.5608)(1-0.1918)=1.6714
separate (2.0290)(0.0902)+(1.8730)(0.1918)+(1.5608)(1-0.1918-0.0902)=1.6629

This is an average increase of 0.85% haste, and is a result of the buffs multiplying while they're stacked. It's not an incredible benefit, but still valuable. However that brings me to the second problem with stacking haste buffs. Haste is valuable for a DK for two reasons. It produces more white attacks (and pet attacks) along with all the things those can proc, and it replenishes our runes faster giving us more resources to use our activated abilities. Bloodlust alone (with haste from gear) should give you enough resources to be gcd-capped. That is, you will always have runes or runic power to use an ability and will never be waiting for something to recharge or come off cooldown. Any additional haste procs or abilities will have less benefit than they would at other times, since they're not giving you any more usable resources during bloodlust, but they would normally.

All that said, there may well be other reasons why your dps increases if you use UF and Lust at the same time. But the haste stacking probably isn't the source of your improvement.

#19 Usbeorn

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Posted 01 December 2012 - 07:05 PM

I suspect it's mainly not for my own benefit, but rather for buffing my ghoul, gargoyle, and army. I make sure all of these are active when I use both hero and UF.

#20 richypc

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 10:46 AM

I also stack them regardless, Le Shins orders with Relic trink with a prepot or late burn phase pot; they all stack with unholy's pets very nicely for a dps gain.

Suppose I do not stack both UF with lust,lets say we lust at start of a fight, 30-40 secs later am I supposed to use UF with all my trinks and enchants on cooldown. Gargoyle unbuffed damage is just so puny it hurts, I can always wait for the next buff alignment, but that brings in another problem with bosses phasing and what not and leaving you holding off on that UF you still haven't used until almost 2 or 3 mins. into the fight can be frustrating, by then you could've just used it twice.

My strat is use it when its up, unless the boss is going to do some crazy phase where it will be immune to attacks.




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