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#1 Illundai

Illundai

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Posted 07 November 2008 - 02:36 AM

Death Knight DPS Compendium


__________________________________________________________________________________

0. Index
  • 1. Other Prominent Death Knight discussions
  • 2. Common Abbreviations
  • 3. Benefits of bringing a Death Knight to a raid
  • 4. Death Knight Resource mechanics
    • 4.1. Runes: How They Work
      • 4.1.1. Death Runes
      • 4.1.2. Empower Rune Weapon
    • 4.2. Runic Power
      • 4.2.1. Runic Power Generation
  • 5. How to DPS as a Death Knight
    • 5.1. Presences
  • 6. Itemizing as a Death Knight
    • 6.1. Stats choices
      • 6.1.1. Attack Power / Strength
        • 6.1.1.1. Attack Power Coefficients
      • 6.1.2. Hit Rating
      • 6.1.3. Expertise Rating
      • 6.1.4. Crit Rating
      • 6.1.5. Agility
      • 6.1.6. Armor Penetration Rating
      • 6.1.7. Haste Rating
      • 6.1.8. Spell Power
    • 6.2. Dual Wield vs Two-Handed
    • 6.3. Trinkets
    • 6.4. Enchants and Gems
      • 6.4.1. Runeforging
    • 6.5. What about our ranged slot?
    • 6.6. Consumables
  • 7. Death Knight Pets: Ghoul, Summon Gargoyle, Dancing Rune Weapon and Army of the Dead
    • 7.1. The Ghoul
    • 7.2. Summon Gargoyle
    • 7.3. Dancing Rune Weapon
      • 7.3.1. Summon Gargoyle vs Dancing Rune Weapon
    • 7.4. Army of the Dead
  • 8. Talent Specs
    • 8.1. Blood
      • 8.1.1. Benefits brought by Blood specs
      • 8.1.2. Talent Choices
      • 8.1.3. Rotation
      • 8.1.4. Glyphs
        • 8.1.4.1. Major Glyphs
        • 8.1.4.2. Minor Glyphs
      • 8.1.5. DPS Increase per Talent point breakdown
    • 8.2. Frost
      • 8.2.1. Benefits brought by Frost specs
      • 8.2.2. Talent Choices
      • 8.2.3. Rotation
      • 8.2.4. Glyphs
        • 8.2.4.1. Major Glyphs
        • 8.2.4.2. Minor Glyphs
      • 8.2.5. DPS Increase per Talent point breakdown
    • 8.3. Unholy
      • 8.3.1. Benefits brought by Unholy specs
      • 8.3.2. Talent Choices
      • 8.3.3. Rotation
      • 8.3.4. Glyphs
        • 8.3.4.1. Major Glyphs
        • 8.3.4.2. Minor Glyphs
      • 8.3.5. DPS Increase per Talent point breakdown
    • 8.4. Dual Wield Tri-Spec
      • 8.4.1. Benefits brought by a Dual Wield Tri-Spec
      • 8.4.2. Talent Choices
      • 8.4.3. Rotation
      • 8.4.4. Glyphs
      • 8.4.5. DPS Increase per Talent point breakdown
  • 9. Race Selection
    • 9.1. The Alliance
      • 9.1.1. Humans
      • 9.1.2. Dwarves
      • 9.1.3. Gnomes
      • 9.1.4. Night Elves
      • 9.1.5. Draenei
    • 9.2. The Horde
      • 9.2.1. Orcs
      • 9.2.2. Tauren
      • 9.2.3. Trolls
      • 9.2.4. Undead
      • 9.2.5. Blood Elves
  • 10. Useful Links and Addons
  • 11. Useful Macro's
  • 12. Professions
  • 13. Notes for Raid Leaders
  • 14. Sources used
  • 15. Changelog
__________________________________________________________________________________



1. Other Prominent Death Knight Discussions
  • http://elitistjerks....s_abilities/p1/
    • Death Knight beta thread, pretty huge post so might be hard to find the information you're looking for. But just in case I missed something :).
  • http://elitistjerks....raft_tool_beta/
    • Vontre's Death Knight version of magegraf. Pretty neat tool, still in beta though and has some bugs and tweaks to sort out. Should be a pretty useful tool when it nears completion.
  • http://elitistjerks....n_we_do_better/
    • Discussion on how Rune addons should look, so far trying to figure out which is the best layout. Pretty interesting thread, should definitely add some feedback so we can come to a agreed conclusion.


2. Common Abbreviations used

[table="head"]Abbreviation|Ability|Abbreviation|Ability
IT|Icy Touch|SD|Sudden Doom
BS|Blood Strike|MoM|Might of Mograine
PS|Plague Strike|BG|Blood Gorged
HS|Heart Strike|HB|Howling Blast
FS|Frost Strike|BotN|Blood of the North
SS|Scourge Strike|GoG|Guile of Gorefiend
DS|Death Strike|TS|Tundra Stalker
OB|Obliterate|HC|Hungering Cold
DRW|Dancing Rune Weapon|CE|Corpse Explosion
MoB|Mark of Blood|SG|Summon Gargoyle
OaPH|On a Pale Horse|IBF|Icebound Fortitude
CF|Crypt Fever|BT|Blood Tap
EP|Ebon Plaguebringer|AMS|Anti-Magic Shell
RoR|Rage of Rivendare|AMZ|Anti-Magic Zone
UB|Unholy Blight|ERW|Empower Rune Weapon
DC|Death Coil|BB|Blood Boil
FF|Frost Fever|BCB|Blood-Caked Blade
BP|Blood Plague|AoD|Army of the Dead
DG|Death Grip|DnD/D&D|Death and Decay
MoG|Master of Ghouls


3. Benefits of bringing a Death Knight to a raid

There are several upsides to bringing one or more Death Knights to your raid.

  • Powerful raid buffs and debuffs, ranging from base skills (f.ex Horn of Winter) to spec specific (de) buffs. (f.ex Improved Icy Talons)
  • A viable offtank for fights even when DPS specced. All it requires is a gear and presence swap.
  • A viable tank for when shit hits the fan. Death Knights can swap to Frost Presence midcombat and tank if necessary, albeit not as good as they would in Tank gear (obviously).
  • On par DPS with any other class
  • A "Combat Ressurection" in the form of Raise Dead. Obviously not as useful as a Druid's Rebirth, but useful nevertheless.
  • Death Knights are very potent in keeping themselves alive, not to mention they are wearing Plate. With the help of Death Strike and in Blood's case Rune Tap (which can be turned into an AoE group heal with a Major Glyph!) Death Knights will require very little healing if played right.


4. Death Knight Resource Mechanics

Death Knights use two major Resource mechanics to do damage.
This is a new concept, as with all previous classes they only use one mechanic, be it Mana, Rage or Energy.

4.1 Runes: How They Work

Runes are the primary resource mechanic for Death Knights. It's a very new concept (somewhat) that can be compared to Energy. Runes have a set regeneration period, which is 10 seconds. A Death Knight starts with 2 Blood Runes (B), 2 Frost Runes (F) and 2 Unholy Runes (U).

It was always assumed that Runes just had a pure 10 second regen time. This has proven to be false from various tests. The behaviour that has been noted is that after the first set of runes very often runes regen after 8 seconds. The current concensus is the following:

Runes have a 10 second regen time. However, if you do not use your regenerated rune as soon as it comes up, it will activate a timer (up to 2 seconds, is the current theory) which will count as the Rune being used. Think of it like this:

[table="head"]Time|Ability|Regen time|Runes
00:00:00|Icy Touch||BBFUU
00:10:00||10s|BBFFUU
00:11:50|Icy Touch||BBFUU
00:20:00||8.5s|BBFFUU


Because you waited 1.5s after the rune was available to use the second frost rune, it's regen time was reduced to 8.5s. Do note, if you wait longer than 2 seconds the above does not apply.


4.1.1. Death Runes

If you spec Death Rune Mastery, Blood of the North or Reaping, upon using the specified abilities the Runes that they use up will regen into Death Runes. Death Runes are a 4th type of Rune which is able to be used as either a Blood, Frost or Unholy Rune. They only stay a Death Rune for one usage and in general you will only use up a Death Rune if none of the normal Runes are available to be used with an ability.

Say, for example you are specced into Death Rune Mastery and you have used Obliterate. The Frost & Unholy Rune will become Death Runes. However, you still have 2 Blood Runes, 1 Frost & 1 Unholy Rune left. If you let the Death Runes come up so that your Rune layout looks like BBFDUD and you want to BS twice, PS once and IT once, you will only use up BBFU, leaving you with DD. The Death Runes are always the last runes to be used.

As a side note, Blood Tap is the only non-talented ability that will give you access to a Death Rune.

It should be further noted that Death Rune Mastery works somewhat different from what you'd expect. If you have all your Unholy and Frost Runes as Death Runes (so BBDDDD), and then use an Obliterate or Death Strike, the following happens:
  • [1] Your two Unholy Runes which are currently Death Runes will get used by the ability.
  • [2] Only one of your recently used Death Runes will remain a Death Rune. The other will turn back to Unholy, despite having just been used for an ability. (Or BBDDDU)
If you have only your Unholy Runes as Death Runes, and your Frost Runes are currently on cooldown, thus making it that your two converted Unholy Runes get used by Obliterate or Death Strike (BBFFDD), the following happens:
  • [1] Your two Unholy Runes which are currently Death Runes will get used by the ability.
    [2] As before, only one of your two Unholy Runes becomes a Death Rune, however one of your Frost Runes (despite not being used by the ability) will also become a Death Rune. (BBDFDU)
That also applies if you have two Frost Runes as Death Runes and you use those for Obliterate or Death Strike. You end up with one of the Frost Runes staying a Death Rune, while one of the Unholy Runes will also turn into a Death Rune.
Thanks to Chicken

4.1.2. Empower Rune Weapon

Empower Rune Weapon will generate 25 Runic Power and immediately activate all your runes, meaning, if some of your runes were on cooldown, the cooldown is gone and the runes become activated. It can be useful in DPS situations where you need to pull that extra rotation and can't afford to wait. The cooldown is 5 minutes, so use it with consideration.

4.2. Runic Power

Runic Power is the second Resource Mechanic of a Death Knight. You could compare it to a Warrior's Rage, as they are somewhat similar. Runic Power is generated through using abilities which require a Rune. There are set values for the amount of Runic Power generated, depending on the amount of Runes said ability requires:

  • Abilities that require one Rune will generate 10 Runic Power.
  • Abilities that require two Runes will generate 15 Runic Power.
  • Abilities that require three Runes will generate 20 Runic Power.
Runic Power can be consumed by other abilities, varying for each spec. Blood will commonly use Death Coil to use up Runic Power, mixed with Dancing Rune Weapon. Unholy on the other hand, will use up their Runic Power on Unholy Blight, Summon Gargoyle or even Death Coils (depending on the situation). Frost finally will use up most of their Runic Power with Frost Strikes.
We commonly refer using up Runic Power as Runic Dumps.

Runic Power generation can be modified by various abilities (and even setbonuses) such as Chill of the Grave.

4.2.1. Runic Power generation
Runic Power generation can also be relatively simply calculated, using the following equation:

(((# of abilities used)-2)*5)+40 = Runic Power per rotation

This equation works for untalented rotations. The lower bound of 40 corresponds to a DnD and AoD rotation. The upper bound of 60 corresponds to rotations using all 6 runes individually.

Example:
DnD-IT-PS-BS gives you 20-10-10-10 = 50rp.
Using the equation we have (((4)-2)*5)+40 = (10)+ 40 = 50.

For the purposes of further study we will assume a standard 10 second rune cooldown. The reason for this is first it makes the math easy, and second I believe the buffer code is intended to give us more flexibility from rotation to rotation and while still providing a fairly predictable runic power generation.
This means our untalented lower bound is 4 RP/s, and the upper bound is 6RP/s. (RP/s = Runic Power per Second)

Talents
There are four talents that effect runic power generation: Butchery, Scent of Blood, Chill of the Grave and, Dirge.

  • Butchery
    Gives us an additional .2/.4 RP/s, the secondary effect is hard to model for obvious reasons so we will ignore it for the time being because against raid bosses and even most arena environments this effect will be largely unimportant.
  • Scent of Blood
    Gives us an additional .25/.5/.75 RP/s this is also hard to surely model since it has an cooldown and requires you to be hit, but for maximum study purposes we'll assume that it procs exactly every 20 seconds.
  • Dirge
    Gives us an additional .5/1 RP/s. A way to view this and Chill of the Grave is that it gives you additional RP when you use Unholy and Frost runes respectively.
  • Chill of the Grave
    Gives us an additional .5/1 RP/s. The only note here is that Death Strike is not included in this talent so a frost build using Death strike hampers it's RP generation.
Since all of these talents can be acquired in the same build we can generate an upper bound for RP/s with talents:
6+1+1+.75+.4= 9.15 RP/s

  • Death Runes:
    Can change the results from tree to tree and depending how they are used. However given that Death Runes can only be used in certain ways we can show that used appropriately they can still only generate an additional 1RP/s.
Using this we can generate a greatest upper bound on RP/s:
6+1+1+1+.75+.4= 10.15 RP/s


Max RP/s for Tree centric talent builds without Death Runes:

[table="head"]Spec|RP/s
Blood|7.15 RP/s
Frost| 7 RP/s
Unholy| 7 RP/s

Max RP/s for Tree centric talent builds with Death Runes:

[table="head"]Spec|RP/s
Blood|7.15 RP/s
Frost|8 RP/s
Unholy|8 RP/s

Most rotations will fall into the 5.5 and 6.5 RP/s range.

Thanks to Arkasi

5. How to DPS as a Death Knight

While you'll find a number of "cookie-cutter" or standard rotations here in this thread for each spec, it's important to keep in mind that these rotations are theoretical-- they're what most people find to be the best for a fight under ideal conditions (i.e., Patchwerk-type dps tests). The key to maximizing your dps as a Death Knight is understanding what contributes most significantly to your dps, and what priorities you should follow when your circumstances deviate from the ideal. Whether it's a mobile encounter, or you miss an attack, or you need to refresh Horn of Winter, or your timing just gets off over the duration of a fight-- it will happen. Here's a suggested priority list for single target dps:
  • [1] Don't die.
  • [2] Keep your diseases (Blood Plague, Frost Fever) up 100% of the time. These boost your primary damage attacks significantly, and add a non-trivial amount to your dps themselves. Use a mod to track their remaining time (I use Elkano's Buff Bars, but there are lots of mods that can accomplish the same thing).
  • [3] Use your highest damage-per-rune attack as much as possible, whenever it is available. Blood: Heart Strike, Frost 2h: Obliterate, Unholy: Scourge Strike.
  • [4] Spend your runic power before it hits the maximum. There's a common misconception that runic power is a secondary resource to runes. Your core RP abilities (Death Coil, Frost Strike, Unholy Blight) all do significant amounts of damage, and it's just as worthwhile to use an available global cooldown on one of these abilities as on a rune ability. Managing these can be tricky, especially in Blood spec when you have Sudden Doom procs to contend with also. Use the rune latency coding to your advantage-- there's an extra GCD in there after a rune becomes available (see: Rune Mechanics). When in doubt: as long as you are still not violating any of the previous three rules, dumping runic power will maximize your dps.
  • [5] Use your spec's secondary strikes, talented appropriately, to convert off-spec runes into Death Runes. (Blood: Obliterate, Frost and Unholy: Blood Strike). This is in support of rule #3.
  • [6] Use your dps cooldowns appropriately to maximize their uptime. Know your rotations and how long the fight is, and judge accordingly. Note that cooldown use is an exception to rule #4: You'll want maximum runic power before using Gargoyle or Dancing Rune Weapon, for example.
  • [7] Do anything necessary to increase your raid's dps. While seeing big numbers fly by is fun, we have some abilities that may benefit the raid's overall damage more than a selfish buff to ourselves. Remember, the boss falling down is the ultimate goal. Use your discretion as to who in your raid might benefit most from Hysteria, a pure physical damage boost. Similarly, see the explanation of how Unholy Aura can benefit the raid significantly. If you're in charge of providing Abomination's Might (AP raid buff) or Imp. Icy Talons (haste raid buff), make sure they stay up.
Thanks to Leaflock.
5.1 Presences

Presences are the Death Knight equivalent to a Warrior's Stances. There are three Presences total.
  • Blood Presence: Commonly accepted as the Presence you will be DPSing in.
    Blood Presence just flat increases the damage from all your abilities by 15% whilst providing you with selfhealing.
  • Frost Presence: Your tanking Presence.
    You can swap to this when you pull aggro or when you need to offtank, but make sure to not try and DPS in this Presence as the Threat modifier is quite big.
  • Unholy Presence: This Presence is commonly accepted as not being so useful, for anything but PvP.
    Due to the fact this Presence grants Haste rather than the Damage % increase that Blood Presence grants it performs significantly worse. Haste is one of the worst Stats for a Death Knight.
    Unholy Presence also lowers your GCD by 0.5 seconds, which is not all that bad but in a lot of specs you will not be bound by GCDs, but by Rune Regeneration time so again it loses some of it usefulness.

On a side note, there are several talents that will look like they increase the effect of each specific Presence at first glance (and while that was true in the early stages of beta) but they are not linked to any Presence and are just like a Paladin's aura. Said Talents are Blood Aura, Frost Aura and Unholy Aura


6. Itemizing as a Death Knight

Itemizing as a Death Knight is actually not that simple. There are a lot of variables which will increase or decrease the usefulness for a stat. One of the major variables being talent choices.

We are a melee class, so like with every melee class you will have to assign stat weights to each stat and make gear choices that way.
As with every melee, the biggest DPS increasing upgrades are always weapons.

6.1. Stats choices

While Death Knight theory crafting is still in its infancy, early modeling and testing has produced normalized values for comparing dps gear. While many argue that these numbers are still premature, they do show many important trends in each of the talent trees These numbers are currently based on Naxx 25 man DPS gear.

Base stats+Talents +Raid buffs

[table="head"]Stat (rating)|Unholy|Blood|Frost
1 AP|1.0000|1.0000|1.0000
1STR|2.4847|2.5570|2.3650
1HIT|2.4748|2.6609|2.4046
1APR|0.5447|1.0456|0.7628
1EXP|1.3914|1.7023|1.2453
1CRT|1.1240|1.1453|1.1894
1HASTE|0.6214|0.5640|0.4978
1DPS (wpn)|7.5670|8.9665|10.3610
Spec|17/0/54|51/13/7|17/54/0
DPS TOTAL|3114.42|3278.62|3152.79

Keep in mind this is vulnerable to change as we are still building up the theorycraft around gearing a Death Knight. Use this as a guideline, rather than all-to-be-guide.

Thanks Tzenes for help with the following sections

6.1.1. Attack Power / Strength

Like Warriors we gain 2 AP per every point of Strength. In addition to the traditional 10% Blessing of Kings multiplier, Death Knights receive a number of other talented multipliers.
Every one of our abilities have a modifier for attack power, increasing their damage with more Attack Power, including Icy Touch and Howling Blast.

Attack Power increases damage done by the Gargoyle and Dancing Rune Weapon (more on that in their respective sections).
Attack Power has an increased value for Unholy specs due to Impurity

While Strength/AP certainly are important, I would suggest you browse past the other values before stacking it alone.

6.1.1.1. Attack Power Coefficients

You can calculate how much damage your spells will be doing with a very simple equation:
B + (C x AP) = D
With B being the base damage of the spell, C the attack power coefficient of the spell and AP being your attack power. D is the damage you will be doing.

Example:
Death Coil damage with 2000 AP:
443 + (2000x0.15) = 743

Attack Power Coefficients table:

[table="head"]Ability|Coefficient
Blood Boil|0.04
Blood Plague|0.055
Bloodworms|0.006
Corpse Explosion|0.0475
Death and Decay|0.0475
Death Coil|0.15
Frost Fever|0.055
Howling Blast|0.1
Summon Gargoyle|0.4
Icy Touch|0.1
Pestilence|0.04
Strangulate|0.06
Unholy Blight|0.013

A few notes:
  • Bloodworms' base damage at level 80 appears to be 50 average (2.0 attack speed) before armor mitigation, assuming the formula is D = base + C × AP where C is the AP coefficient.
  • Currently Corpse Explosion is bugged and the AP coefficient itself scales with Runic Power. On an empty RP bar the ability deals the base damage (220), and at 100 RP you get extra damage equal to 0.0475 × AP.
  • Gargoyle Strike is the Gargoyle's only ability, which it spams continuously until it gets killed or the summon duration ends. The spell's base damage at level 80 appears to be 150, assuming the formula is D = B + (C × AP) where C is the AP coefficient.
  • Pet's are affected by the Orc Racial, so you can add 5% to the pet coefficients if you're an Orc. (f.ex Gargoyle: 0.4 + ((0.4*10)/100) = 0.42)

6.1.2. Hit Rating

Despite the importance of Strength as a stat, hit rating (before the special cap) can actually be a more important stat. There are a number of reasons for the importance of Hit Rating. First off a 1% increase in Hit Rating translates to a >1% increase in dps (going from 90%-91% is 1.11% increase in damage). With the possible exception of disease ticks, hit rating effects every dps attack a Death Knight employs. While Hit rating contribution is not uniform across attacks, it does consistently provide at the > 1% rate. Because some Death Knight abilities are still on a two roll system, the value of hit also increases the value of crit rating for abilities like Death Coil.

Death Knights are based around a four resource system: Runes, Runic Power, Diseases, and Time. Each of these resources changes differently based on a miss. A miss of a Rune does not cost that Rune (it regenerates in less than the minimum possible GCD). A miss of a Runic Power does cost that RP however. A miss of a Disease can not only cost that disease, but cost an additional amount as diseases are required, most of the time, for effective dps. Finally, a loss of the time to cast the spell, as well as additional time recasting. Because rotations are often times dense and diseases can run out, this loss of time can have a heavy impact on the Death Knight.

Hit needed for special attack hit cap at level 80:
9% (special attack base misschance) needed, or 9 x 32.79 = 295.11 rating.

As for Spell Hit, only Icy Touch, Howling Blast and Death Coil use Spell Hit cap to check if they will miss or not. If you pick up Virulence from Unholy, the spell hit will be attained by simply being Special Attack capped (assuming you have Misery)
17% (base miss chance) - 3% (Misery) - 3% (Virulence) = 11% needed from gear, or 11 x 26.23 = 288.53 rating.

Virulence is worth 78.69 Hit. So you need 367.22 Hit rating to be capped with spells if you are not specced for Virulence. It's another 78.69 Hit if you are missing Misery.
If you're guaranteed a Draenei in your group, you can gear/gem for 1% (32.79 Rating for melee, 26.23 Rating for Spells) less hit.

6.1.3. Expertise Rating

Unlike Hit Rating, Expertise effects a smaller range of attacks. Because a large portion of Death Knight damage comes in the form of Diseases and RP dumps which cannot be dodged (Frost Strike, Death Coil, Unholy Blight), its value is diminished.

While hitting the Expertise cap may not always be desirable, it is still one of the higher valued stats, and should not be avoided. Additionally, Blood spec in particular, due to its heavy reliance on physical based attacks, can benefit very well from this stat. Finally, Death Knights as tanks have a much higher benefit from Expertise than those in traditional roles, so these values should not be used to make tanking threat decisions.

Keep in mind, that each spec has innate expertise (11/5/5 B/F/U) as well as racial bonuses (5/5/3 O/D/H).
  • 1 Expertise Skill reduces the chance your attacks will be dodged/parried by 0.25%
  • 32.79 Rating is equal to 1% less chance your attacks will be dodged/parried.
  • 8.20 Rating is equal to 0.25% less chance your attacks will be dodged/parried and thus is equal to 1 Expertise Skill.

Expertise needed to hit Dodge cap:

[table="head"]Spec|%|Rating|Skill
Blood|3.75|122.96|15
Frost|5.25|172.15|21
Unholy|5.25|172.15|21

6.1.4. Crit Rating

Another traditional dps stat, Crit has less baring on Death Knights than many other classes. No core mechanics require Crit to drive them (though Blood does require a some Crit, and Frost does benefit the most). Additionally, the amount found on gear is more than sufficient where necessary.
Crit Rating affects both our melee and spell crits. You need 45.91 Crit Rating to gain 1% melee and spell crit. All our abilities except Icy Touch, Howling Blast and Death Coil use our melee crit chance.
We are the only class that have a passive spell critical damage increase, under the form of Runic Focus granting us double damage on both melee and spell critical hits.

6.1.5. Agility

A Death Knight needs 62.5 Agility to gain 1% Crit.
Agility is strictly inferior to Crit Rating in nearly every situation as Agility does not grant us Spell Crit, while Crit Rating does. Crit Rating also grants you more Crit Chance than Agility for the same item budget.

Agility also increases our armor by 2 armor per agility. As an interesting side effect from this, if specced for Bladed Armor Agility will indirectly increase your Attack Power. Every point of Agility will increase your Attack Power by 1/18 or 18 Agility will increase your Attack Power by 1.

6.1.6. Armor Penetration Rating

Armor Penetration Rating is a bit of an odd beast for us.
It doesn't affect our damage from Diseases, Icy Touch, Howling Blast, Scourge Strike or Death Coil. This makes Armor Penetration have a reduced value for Unholy and Frost Specs. Blood however does have quite a lot of benefit from ArP Rating, due to the majority of it's damage being Physical.

We need 15.39 Rating to ignore 1% armor on our target.

6.1.7. Haste Rating

Haste Rating will directly increase the contribution of white swings to your DPS - 1% Haste will generate 1% more auto attack DPS.

Unlike many other melee based classes, Death Knights draw a much smaller portion of their dps from White damage. As a result, Haste is a much less desirable stat. As you can also see, the value of Haste is effected by the spec. Abilities like Necrosis and Blood Caked Blade allow for Unholy specs to gain much better damage per Haste Rating. Additionally, Killing machine works similarly.

While Haste is never a particularly desirable stat for Death Knights, we must remember how it effects their GCD. Because of dense rotations additional haste rating can reduce the strain on a player and allow for a larger margin of error. However, stacking too much of it is also not recommended, due to its low value.

We require 32.79 Rating for 1% Haste.

6.1.8. Spell Power

Don't get it. None of our spells/abilities/diseases are affected by Spell Power. None. Nada. Nothing.


6.2. Dual Wield vs Two-Handed

Everyone has the image of Death Knights wielding big Two Handers. Every single DK NPC pre-WOTLK only used Two-Handers. However, Blizzard changed that stance and will allow Death Knights to Dual Wield.

Dual Wielding can only really work with one spec, which is the Tri-Spec (more on that below). It has the downside of having a lot more misses, but has an increased portion of white damage, making haste more valuable. It relies on hitting a lot (and fast) to generate a lot of procbased attacks. It also uses Howling Blast as it's primary source of damage, as it's independent of weapon damage.

A frequently asked question is whether or not to Duel Wield. While early speculation has shown a wide range of effects of Duel Wielding, it certainly seems like a powerful approach. As of right now, most Death Knight dps models are built around Two Handed Weapons, and I would not suggest moving from there just yet.

It is still too soon to say.


6.3. Trinkets

Coming soon! Need some maths on the current trinkets from Naxx/OS/EoE and badges to be able to make a comparison.

6.4. Enchants and Gems

Enchants:

As for Gemming:

6.4.1. Runeforging

Runeforging is a Death Knight only profession, it allows you to empower your weapon(s) with Runes, which are basicly the equivalent to Enchants (or so they are meant to be). Whether or not they are, will need some further testing. Here are the DPS Runeforges:

Obviously Cinderglacier is pretty good for Unholy and Frost, while Fallen Crusader is pretty good for all specs. Razorice is pretty much a Frost only Rune.

More Runes will be added hopefully throughout WOTLK.

6.5. What about our ranged slot?

Death Knights use a Relic -- like Shaman, Paladins and Druids -- called Sigils. Their functionality is similar to the Shaman, Paladin & Druid ones.

F.ex: Sigil of Awareness which as you can see, is very potent. For now there are very little choices, this one drops from Naxx25, while the other option is from badges (and by coincidence or not, is also very bad).

6.6. Consumables

7. Death Knight Pets: Ghoul, Summon Gargoyle, Dancing Rune Weapon and Army of the Dead

Death Knights have one base pet to start off with: The Ghoul. Summon Gargoyle is a 21 point Unholy Talent and Dancing Rune Weapon is a 51 point Blood Talent. All of these are affected by the Orc Racial.

7.1. The Ghoul

Untalented, this little bugger will be up for 2 minutes and the ability has a 5 minute cooldown. Through an Unholy talent (Master of Ghouls this pet can become a permanent one.
Untalented you have no control over it's actions, talented you gain a pet bar with multiple abilities:

For PvE you won't need to manage these abilities all that much. In PvP however, the applications are obvious; you will need to control your stun and intercept rationally. The Ghoul scales with your stats, taking a percentage of your stats and applying it to him. On average, the ghoul adds about 300 dps. The Ghoul is not really a reliable tool for Blood or Frost specs, since it's duration is a lot shorter than the cooldown. For Unholy however, the Ghoul is a permanent pet and a rather big portion of your DPS (relatively).

The biggest issue with the Ghoul is just the fact that it's rather squishy. The Ghoul has about 12k hp, which will deplete rather quick if not payed attention to from either you or healers. Death Coil is the only way you can heal your Ghoul, which very often is a way better investment in hitting the boss rather than healing the Ghoul for a very small portion of it's total HP.

7.2. Summon Gargoyle

Summon Gargoyle is a 21 point deep Unholy talent. Maximum duration 1 minute. The Gargoyle requires 50 Runic Power to be summoned and then 8 Runic Power for every second past that. So for it to last the whole full minute, you will need to generate 50 + 50 x 8 = 450 Runic Power over the duration of a minute. As Unholy, the optimal RP generation is 8 RP/s (see above section, Runic Power generation) which will grant you 480 RP/minute. If you summon the Gargoyle at 100 RP, you will need to generate 250 RP over the next minute.

What this means is that it's rather tight to generate enough Runic Power to keep the Gargoyle up a whole minute and get a DC or two off, but it is very possible. As Blood, it's recommended to only use Sudden Doom proc Death Coils though.

7.3. Dancing Rune Weapon

DRW is the 51 point talent in Blood. It spawns a copy of your weapon, which copies your attacks.
Maximum duration 20 seconds. Dancing Rune Weapon should ONLY be used when you have 100 Runic Power. Any number below that will make it a waste, significantly reducing it's uptime.
It's major downside is that you will need to be hitting the boss for the duration of it's uptime, but also it is very prone to hitting the boss from the front which will reduce it's DPS and increase the boss' dps significantly.

7.3.1. Summon Gargoyle vs Dancing Rune Weapon

This comparison is for the 50/00/21 spec (obviously). Summon Gargoyle has the advantage that it scales way better with starting gear, while DRW gets SIGNIFICANTLY better with every weapon upgrade.

For Dancing Rune Weapon to become better than Summon Gargoyle, it will need to do more DPS in 20 seconds (in combination with your Death Coils) than Summon Gargoyle will do in a whole minute. Whether that's the case for every gearprogression, is hard to say right now.

Dancing Rune Weapon has the additional benefit that it's a fire and forget button. Summon Gargoyle will require some effort to keep up, which won't always be possible. They both have their ups and downs and it's just too early to say which one is the better one until we've seen some more ingame numbers.

7.4. Army of the Dead

These are not really a pet, but rather minions. Army of the Dead is our level 80 ability and has a 20 minute cooldown.
Army of the Dead is another "oh shit" spell which is a channeled spell that summons a ghoul for every second you channeled. The ghouls will swarm the area and taunt everything that moves. This spell is useful in situations where a wipe is imminent, as the ten (needs to be verified) ghouls are great cannon fodder, since they will taunt the boss and get killed, giving you time to breathe.

8. Talent Specs (by Zurm)

8.1. Blood

The blood spec is the most physical damage based of all the DPS specs. Unlike other DPS specs, its primary strike only uses one rune rather than two, and this creates a unique situation of many strikes rather than a few super strong one.

8.1.1 Benefits brought by Blood specs

The unique raid buff that blood offers is the equivalent of an enhancement shaman’s Unleashed Rage. Called Abomination’s Might, this ability triggers off of both Heart Strike (your main attack) and Obliterate (used to generate Death Runes as a blood spec). You also get a buff called Hysteria that is usable every three minutes on a single target which increases the target’s physical damage by 30% for 30 seconds, but deals periodic damage to them. It is generally accepted that the best use of this (strictly from a PvE raid DPS perspective) is on the highest physical damage dealing warrior or feral druid. Use on a hunter (due to the buff not affecting pet damage, and hence a large part of the hunter’s DPS), death knight (due to a large amount of magic damage), retribution paladin (same reason as a death knight) or rogue (due to a massive amount of poison damage) is not recommended.
Blood's token aura is Blood Aura, which will make the selfhealing portion of Blood Presence a raidwide aura (do note this is NOT linked to whether or not the Death Knight is in Blood Presence).

8.1.2. Talent Choices

There are two common specs used as blood. Currently, a debate exists as to which is best, but they are close enough that both are viable. Different rotations are required to maximize DPS for these two specs, however.

50/0/21: This spec is based around Gargoyle as the primary runic power dump. The additional advantage of Blood Caked Blade and 5% more strength from Ravenous Dead and Shadow of Death make it a formidable spec. However, as will be shown in the next section, a sacrifice made to the rotation due to the absence of Annihilation causes a good portion of this benefit to be cancelled out by the next spec.

51/13/7: This spec uses Dancing Rune Weapon instead of Gargoyle. While it has been shown that DRW scales better with gear, Gargoyle lasts longer and proves to be a more efficient use of RP when compared to Death Coil. Proponents of this spec point to a more efficient rotation than the 50/0/21 spec shown above, while opponents point to the ten “wasted” talents placed in frost in order to be able to get to Annihilation.

8.1.3. Rotation

PS = Plague Strike
IT = Icy Touch
HS = Heart Strike
OB = Obliterate
DC = Death Coil

Please note that DRW and Gargoyle are not included in rotations. They drain RP while used so you would simply not use DC’s while they were up, and maintain everything else in the rotation. Also note in the “DC” section, continue using Death Coil until you can’t cast anymore, meaning you have less than 40 RP remaining and no Sudden Doom procs. Rotations are shown over two cool-downs per rune, with full rotations lasting approximately 20 seconds.

50/0/21:

PS -> IT -> HS -> HS -> OB -> DC
PS -> IT -> HS -> HS -> HS -> HS -> DC

51/13/7:

PS -> IT -> HS -> HS -> OB -> DC
OB -> HS -> HS -> HS -> HS -> DC

8.1.4. Glyphs

8.1.4.1. Major Glyphs
  • Glyph of Obliterate: While you only use Obliterate one or two times in a 20 second rotation, this glyph makes the ability scale significantly better with gear. Once you get some T7 level gear, you can expect noticeably more powerful Obliterates with this glyph.
  • Glyph of Icy Touch: This is widely regarded as a staple for all raiding DKs. The lost damage from IT isn't very signficant, but the extra RP generation (especially as 50/0/21 since you're casting IT twice as often) is very nice for DC damage.
  • For your last major Glyph slot, there are a few choices. There is nothing simply amazing, but a few that you can chose from that provide some benefit. If you are dead-set on maximizing your DPS, then Glyph of Plague Strike or Glyph of the Ghoul is your best bet. If you want to throw in some surviveability or PVP focus since you wont get too much out of the previous glyphs, Glyph of Icebound Fortitude and Glyph of Strangulate provide some nice utility.

8.1.4.2. Minor Glyphs
  • Glyph of Pestilence: An invaluable minor glyph for all PVE DKs. This allows you to more easily AoE and spread diseases with pestilence, saving you from having to re-apply diseases where you might have previously had to. This, in turn, allows you to get more powerful strikes in the during the short lifespan of trash mobs and multi-mob boss encounters. IMO, absolutely required for every raiding DK.
  • Glyph of Horn of Winter: Not an amazing glyph in all raiding situations, but it has its place in 5 mans and certain raiding encounters. If you aren't able to be near an enhancement shaman, this makes the fairly steep cost of HoW cheaper, and more bearable in a raiding situation.
  • As for remaining minor glyph slots, you can chose whatever you find most helpful. At the moment, the only remotely helpful minor glyph for blood that hasn't been mentioned is Glyph of Blood Tap and that just allows you to get an extra HS in there every minute or so.
8.1.5. DPS Breakdown Per Talent Point

DPS per talent point|Maxed out|Max-1|Max-2|Max-3|Max-4|Max-5
Butchery|1.51%|0.80%|1.51%
Subversion|2.42%|0.81%|1.61%|2.42%
Bladed Armor|5.30%|1.08%|2.13%|3.18%|4.25%|5.30%
Bloody Strikes|7.13%|2.48%|4.85%|7.13%
2H spec|2.14%|1.07%|2.14%
Dark Conviction|2.91%|0.58%|1.16%|1.74%|2.33%|2.91%
Veteran of the 3rd War|1.92%|0.65%|1.29%|1.92%
Bloody Vengeance|5.27%|1.76%|3.51%|5.27%
Abomation's Might|Exempt|2.75%|5.48%|
Hysteria|Assume 4kdps|3.48%
Sudden Doom|3.61%|0.24%|0.54%|1.57%|2.59%|3.61%
Heart Strike|HS->BS|3.72%|
Might of Mograine|3.34%|1.11%|2.23%|3.34%
Blood Gorged|9.08%|1.82%|3.64%|5.45%|7.26%|9.08%
Vicious Strikes|0.27%|0.14%|0.27%
Morbidity|1.57%|0.52%|1.04%|1.57%
Virulence|3.38%|0.13%|0.25%|0.38%
Ravenous Dead|No Ghoul|0.06%|0.10%|0.16%
Necrosis|2.04%|0.41%|0.82%|1.23%|1.64%|2.04%
Blood-Caked Blade|6.09%|2.03%|4.06%|6.09%
Shadow of Death|0.10%|0.10%
Gargoyle|6.87%|6.87%


8.2. Frost

The power of frost spec lies, not surprisingly, in the massive amount of frost damage it can put out. The elemental damage helps deal with armor mitigation, although Unholy does an even higher percentage of magic damage. Frost has the hardest hitting single abilities of all the specs, but of course balances this by having less consistent damage.

8.2.1. Benefits brought by a Frost spec

Frost provides the equivalent to Windfury Totem to the raid. You must get both Icy Talons (personal 20% haste buff) and Improved Icy Talons (makes the buff raid-wide and provides a permanent 5% extra haste). Frost also has a few personal utility-type abilities which are useful in raids, including Lichborne and Unbreakable Armor.
Frost's token aura is Frost Aura, which will make the Resistance portion of Frost Presence a raidwide aura (do note this is NOT linked to whether or not the Death Knight is in Frost Presence).
However, Frost specs do not usually pick this up unless it's a gimmick spec for a heavy resistance fight.


8.2.2. Talent Choices

17/54/0: Unlike blood, there is primarily only one DPS spec used for deep Frost builds. There are some points which can be shifted around as desired, but for the most part you will see a build that resembles this. A lot of the damage from this spec comes from Frost Strike, as well as Killing Machine and Rime procs for Icy Touch and Howling Blast.

8.2.3. Rotation

PS = Plague Strike
IT = Icy Touch
BS = Blood Strike
HB = Howling Blast
OB = Obliterate
FS = Frost Strike

Note in the “FS” section, continue using Frost Strike until you can’t cast anymore, meaning you have less than 40 RP remaining. Also, all Rime procs will be used in the “FS” section to cast HB. Note that in some situations (particularly AoE-related) HB may be superior. While you cannot replace all OBs with HBs due to the 6 second cool-down on HB, you can still get a significant boost by timing your HBs properly within your rotation. However, HBs usage must be primarily restricted to Rime procs, as OB has no cool-down and is fairly powerful. Rotations are shown over two cool-downs per rune, with full rotations lasting approximately 20 seconds.

17/54/0:

PS -> IT -> BS -> BS -> OB -> FS
PS -> IT -> OB -> OB -> FS

8.2.4. Glyphs

8.2.4.1. Major Glyphs
  • Glyph of Obliterate: Provides increased scaling on your primary strike. In typical raiding gear it increases your damage significantly, and is absolutely required by a frost spec.
  • Glyph of Icy Touch: This is widely regarded as a staple for all raiding DKs. The lost damage from IT is a big more significant as frost, but the extra RP generation is very nice for FS usage.
  • For your last major Glyph slot, there are a few choices. There is nothing simply amazing, but a few that you can chose from that provide some benefit. If you are dead-set on maximizing your DPS, then Glyph of Plague Strike or Glyph of the Ghoul is your best bet. If you want to throw in some surviveability or PVP focus since you wont get too much out of the previous glyphs, Glyph of Icebound Fortitude, Glyph of Frost Strike, and Glyph of Strangulate provide some nice utility.

8.2.4.2. Minor Glyphs
  • Glyph of Pestilence: An invaluable minor glyph for all PVE DKs. This allows you to more easily AoE and spread diseases with pestilence, saving you from having to re-apply diseases where you might have previously had to. This, in turn, allows you to get more powerful strikes in the during the short lifespan of trash mobs and multi-mob boss encounters. IMO, absolutely required for every raiding DK.
  • Glyph of Horn of Winter: Not an amazing glyph in all raiding situations, but it has its place in 5 mans and certain raiding encounters. If you aren't able to be near an enhancement shaman, this makes the fairly steep cost of HoW cheaper, and more bearable in a raiding situation.
  • As for remaining minor glyph slots, you can chose whatever you find most helpful. At the moment, the only remotely helpful minor glyph for frost that hasn't been mentioned is Glyph of Blood Tap and that just allows you to get an extra BS, Pestilence or Blood Boil in there every minute or so.
8.2.5. DPS Breakdown Per Talent Point

This isn’t available for the frost spec at the moment.

8.3. Unholy

Unholy is the most magic-damage heavy of all the specs. As such, it is particularly adept at killing targets with high armor and mitigation. In addition, it offers the most powerful area of effect damage of any of the specs.

8.3.1. Benefits brought by an Unholy spec

Unholy’s raid buff comes in the form of Ebon Plague. With the effects of Crypt Fever built-in, it not only provides all other Death Knights with 30% more disease damage, but also provides 13% more magic damage done to all targets diseased by you. While Warlocks and Moonkin can also provide this buff, it is most easily applied (especially to multiple targets) by a Death Knight. This spec is also capable of temporarily resurrecting raid members as ghouls, providing extra damage when no battle res is available.
Unholy's token aura is Unholy Aura, which will make the run speed portion of Unholy Presence a raidwide aura (do note this is NOT linked to whether or not the Death Knight is in Unholy Presence). Some argue that it's not worth picking up, more on that below in the Talent Choices section.

Please note that you should only have one Unholy DK in the raid at a given time. Ebon Plague does not stack, and will only count as a third disease for strike damage to the DK that applied it.

8.3.2. Talent Choices

17/0/54: You may see points in this tree distributed differently, but this is my personal preference. Note that the talents you are likely to see varying amounts of points are Necrosis, Impurity, and Unholy Aura. There are a lot of misconceptions floating around about these talents, but thankfully the DPS breakdown below helped clear up many of them. Many people also argue that Unholy Aura does not directly contribute to DPS, and hence is not worthwhile. However, here is a fairly convincing post that illustrates otherwise:

Let's do some napkin math, shall we? In a 25-man, let's assume we have 7 melee DPS. Now lets assume we are on a fight like KT, with approximately 10% running time with no run speed enchant, and let's also assume a personal sunstained DPS of all melee to be 4k. These are all fair numbers from what we have seen on beta, shifted slightly to make the math easier to follow. Now, without any runspeed enchant, we could expect each individual member to do:

4000 * (1-.1) = 3600 DPS, and combined: 3600 * 7 = 25200

Now, if we increase running speed by 15%, we increase the (1-.1) = .9 multiplier to 1-.087 = .913. Re-doing this:

4000 * .913 = 3652 DPS, and combined: 3652 * 7 = 25564

Or a net raid DPS increase on this fight of 364. This is also just purely the DPS benefit from a running fight. This doesn't factor in the ability to hit your WHOLE raid with a 15% boost on fights like Heigan to make it easier (while it's not needed to have this speed boost on heigen, it certainly helps, especially with the achievement where no one can die t his bursts). Also, you will most likely be near to the tanks at all times, and allowing the tanks to grab targets more easily is extremely helpful.


8.3.3. Rotation

PS = Plague Strike
IT = Icy Touch
BS = Blood Strike
SS = Scourge Strike
DC = Death Coil
UB = Unholy Blight

Note that in the “DC” section, you should continue to cast DC until you no longer can. Rotations are shown over two cool-downs per rune, with full rotations lasting approximately 20 seconds.

17/0/54:

PS -> IT -> BS -> BS -> SS -> UB
SS -> SS -> SS -> DC

8.3.4. Glyphs

8.3.4.1. Major Glyphs:
  • Glyph of Plague Strike: This is actually quite good for unholy if you make sure your rotation is tight enough that the target always has one disease on them.
  • Glyph of Bone Shield: Since bone shield offers a 2% increase to damage, this glyph ensures it stays up longer, hence increasing your damage. Also great on fights with lots of AoE damage.
  • Glyph of Scourge Strike: This glyph isn't necessarily bad, but most DKs from beta strongly caution the use. In a typical 4x SS rotation, diseases should ALWAYS be up, and this glyph brings absolutely nothing in terms of benefit in a raiding situation unless it's a boss fight with a lot of target switching or moving and it just happens to proc before you start running. Keep in mind that even with a 25% proc rate, there is a 32% chance in any given 4x SS rotation that you will get ZERO procs. Due to how unreliable and situational this glyph is, most Unholy DKs advise against its use in a raiding situation.
  • Glyph of Blood Strike: I put this glyph here because there is a common misconception about how it functions. Many assume that bosses hit with desecration will take more damage with this glyph. THIS IS WRONG. It is nothing like the warrior daze mechanic in raids, and is strictly a PVP glyph. Do not use.
  • For your last major Glyph slot, there are a few choices. There is nothing simply amazing, but a few that you can chose from that provide some benefit. If you are dead-set on maximizing your DPS, then Glyph of the Ghoul is your best bet. If you want to throw in some surviveability or PVP focus since you wont get too much out of the previous glyph, Glyph of Icebound Fortitude and Glyph of Strangulate provide some nice utility.

8.3.4.2 Minor Glyphs:
  • Glyph of Pestilence: An invaluable minor glyph for all PVE DKs. This allows you to more easily AoE and spread diseases with pestilence, saving you from having to re-apply diseases where you might have previously had to. This, in turn, allows you to get more powerful strikes in the during the short lifespan of trash mobs and multi-mob boss encounters. IMO, absolutely required for every raiding DK.
  • Glyph of Horn of Winter: Not an amazing glyph in all raiding situations, but it has its place in 5 mans and certain raiding encounters. If you aren't able to be near an enhancement shaman, this makes the fairly steep cost of HoW cheaper, and more bearable in a raiding situation.
  • As for remaining minor glyph slots, you can chose whatever you find most helpful. At the moment, the only remotely helpful minor glyphs for unholy that haven't been mentioned are Glyph of Blood Tap and Glyph of Raise Dead.
8.3.5. DPS Breakdown Per Talent Point

[table="head"]#|Skill | Rotation(20) 4x SS | % per point
1|SS|19.82%|exempt
2|Epidemic|8.23%|4.12%
3|EbonPlaguebringer|9.27%|3.09%
4|Bone Shield|1.96%|1.96%
5|Wandering Plague|5.83%|1.94%
6|Crypt Fever|4.90%|1.63%
7|BcB|4.77%|1.59%
8|Rage of Rivendare|6.85%|1.37%
9|Vicious Strikes|2.56%|1.28%
10|impurity|5.34%|1.07%
11|Shadow of Death|0.75%|0.75%
12|Morbidity|2.07%|0.69%
13|Necrosis|3.16%|0.63%
14|Desecration|2.77%|0.55%
15|Virulence|1.14%|0.38%
16|Ravenous Dead|1.12%|0.37%
17|Outbreak|0.46%|0.15%
Thanks to Methods for this data.


8.4. Dual Wield Tri-Spec

This spec focuses on the scalability of dual wielding and massive proc generation. It also makes particular use of Howling Blast as its main “strike” since HB is independent of weapon damage.
For this build, you want a slow mainhand and a fast offhand. The fast offhand maximizes procs, while the slow mainhand maximizes BCB proc damage (since offhand procs of BCB are based off mainhand damage).

8.4.1. Benefits brought by a Dual Wield Tri-Spec

The tri-spec offers the same raid utility as a deep frost build. The haste (especially the 5% personal from Imp Icy Talons) is essential to generating as many procs as possible, which is what makes this build viable.

8.4.2. Talents Choices

15/37/19: All of the points in this build are designed around maximized white damage and proc generation. BCB, Howling Blast, and Killing Machine are absolutely required for a tri-spec to minimize the penalty of reduced strike damage when compared with a two-hander and to maximize procs to compensate.

8.4.3. Rotation

PS = Plague Strike
IT = Icy Touch
BS = Blood Strike
HB = Howling Blast
OB = Obliterate
DC = Death Coil

Note in the “DC” section, continue using Death Coil until you can’t cast anymore, meaning you have less than 40 RP remaining. Also, all Rime procs will be used in the “DC” section to cast HB. However, HBs usage must be primarily restricted to Rime procs. Rotations are shown over ONE cool-down per rune, with full rotations lasting approximately 10 seconds.

15/37/19:

X = HB unless a Rime proc is up, OB if Rime is up

PS -> IT -> BS -> BS -> X -> DC
(There are no death rune talents, so you will simply repeat this cycle)

8.4.4. Glyphs

There are no particular helpful Glyphs for this spec. Mostly the Blood Glyphs fit the Tri-Spec theme quite well, so for Glyphs help for DW Tri-Spec, see Blood Glyphs.

8.4.5. DPS Breakdown Per Talent Point

This isn’t available for the tri-spec at the moment.

9. Race Selection

9.1. The Alliance

9.1.1. Humans

9.1.2. Dwarves

9.1.3. Gnomes

9.1.4. Night Elves

9.1.5. Draenei

The choice is a tough one for Alliance. If you have a lot of Draenei in your raid usually, go Dwarf or Human for the Expertise racial (from a pure DPS point of view).
Human has the added benefit of having Diplomacy and Every Man For Himself, while Dwarf has Stoneform for little extra DPS boost with Bladed Armor.
Gnomes don't really have any edge over any other class, Escape Artist for PvP is pretty nice though.
Night Elves are primarily a tanking race now.

9.2. The Horde

9.2.1. Orcs

9.2.2. Tauren

9.2.3. Trolls

9.2.4. Undead


9.2.5. Blood Elves

As for Horde, Orc is the superior race for DPS. Troll is alright for DPS as well.
Tauren, Undead and Blood Elves are the PvP choices with Tauren and Blood Elves having alright tanking racials as well.

10. Useful Links and Addons:

11. Useful Macro's:

Ghoul Death Coil on an Alt Modifier
#showtooltip Death Coil
/cast [nomodifier] Death Coil; [modifier:alt,target=pet] Death Coil

Uses Death Coil on your Ghoul if holding alt, uses it normally if you're not.

Spell Interrupt
#showtooltip Mind Freeze
/cast Mind Freeze
/cast Strangulate

Uses Mind Freeze, if Mind Freeze is on CD it uses Strangulate instead

Chains of Ice + Death Grip CC
#showtooltip Chains of Ice
/cast Chains of Ice
/cast Death Grip

Press this twice in quick succession and your target will fly through the air at a very slow rate.

Stunning a mob/player with the Ghoul if you have Master of Ghouls:
#showtooltip Death Grip
/cast Death Grip
/cast Gnaw

First it'll drag the mob/player to you with Death Grip, then it will stun it for 3 seconds.


12. Professions

Stat Comparisons (between professions):

  • Herbalism = 66.7AP (average, requires consumables)
  • Skinning = 25 Crit rating
  • Alchemy = 64 AP (Flask of Endless Rage)
  • Enchanting = 64 AP
  • Jewelcrafting = 42 AP or 21 AGI or 21 STR or 21 Crit Rating or 21 Haste Rating or 21 Hit Rating or 177 ArPen (based on epic gems, which are currently not available)
    • Jewelcrafting = 62 AP or 31 AGI or 31 STR etc. (counts avoiding using a blue gem instead of a red for meta requirements) (based on epic gems, which are currently not available)
  • Blacksmithing = 80 AP or 40 AGI or 40 STR or 40 Crit Rating or 40 Haste Rating or 40 Hit Rating or 280 ArPen (based on epic gems, which are currently not available)
  • Leatherworking = 64 AP
  • Inscription = 64 AP
  • Tailoring ~= 50-70 AP

13. Notes for Raid Leaders

The Death Knight is still a new class, so we're still in the middle of theorycrafting and daily people come up with new theories and/or findings. This will make it hard for you to judge a Death Knight player in the beginning. Rest assured, a Death Knight should do appropriate DPS for his gear level and should be on par with the other classes.

If your Death Knight is underperforming, it might be a good idea to make him read this thread/post.
Make sure he's using the approprite spec and rotation (check his damage breakdown with Recount or WWS). Also, a Death Knight is a hybrid so DO expect your Death Knight to do more than just DPSing. We are built on the possibility of tanking and all sorts of utility, so you would be a fool to not use these to your advantage.

A very good idea would be for you as a Raid Leader to familiarize yourself with this post as well so you can talk to your Death Knight. Know what stats he needs, know what rotation he should be using. Try and understand the class.
But most importantly... Have patience! It's a new class for everyone so without a doubt people have to learn how to play it in raids.

14. Sources used

15. Changelog
  • 7 November:
    • Added this section.
    • Fixed minor typos,mistakes and layout errors.
    • Added a CC macro for the Ghoul for Unholy Death Knights.
    • Added a small section on Empower Rune Weapon usage.
    • Added a small section covering Army of the Dead.
    • Added Tailoring to professions.
    • Added some more foodbuffs.
    • Added some more abbreviations.
    • Added ArP to the stats comparison table.
    • Rewrote the Agility section.
    • Reworded a portion of the Rune section.
    • Added Glyphs.
    • Added Attack Power Coefficients.
    • Adjusted the Blood specs (removed Bloodworms)
    • Added some more details on Expertise caps.
    • Rewrote section 5 and renamed it How to DPS as a Death Knight
    • Made the Presences section a subsection of the new section 5.
  • 11 November:
    • Fleshed out the Pets section a bit.
    • Changed the Unholy spec from 17/00/54 to 17/00/54.
    • Clarified some Glyph of Pestilence entries.
    • Added DPS per Talent Point breakdown for Blood.
    • Corrected an error under Gargoyle section.
    • Clarified a portion of the DW Tri Spec regarding weapon choices.


#2 Illundai

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Posted 07 November 2008 - 02:38 AM

What is unfinished:
  • Glyphs for each spec.
  • Pets!! I realised I really don't know a whole lot about those pets, so I'd love some help on that section.
  • Enchants/Gems
  • Professions
  • I'd really like a confirmation on the 2 second latency timer that I talk about in the Rune section, I put it in Italic since I'm really not sure they kept that mechanic.

It should be a WIP for a while, I think. Oh well, think I summarized it quite well. I don't pretend to know it all just yet so I'm certain I'll have made mistakes all over the place. Feel free to correct me, then I'll update the first post.

Thanks for all the contributions, obviously!

#3 Nitz

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Posted 07 November 2008 - 02:42 AM

I think you can merge the Ability and WoWhead tooltip columns in point 2.

#4 Illundai

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Posted 07 November 2008 - 02:47 AM

Whoops, should've made a to-do list. I was planning on that, fixed now.

#5 Flamingcloud

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Posted 07 November 2008 - 03:08 AM

Looking good so far. The thing I would like to see the most is the actual value of armor pen for the various specs added into the table mainly to see if it is better or worse than melee haste. Having the finalized list (for naxx gear levels) for gear prioritizing would be handy.

#6 FunnyNameHere

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Posted 07 November 2008 - 03:38 AM

Couple things to add.

The dps leg enchants are nerubian leg armor(rare) and icescale leg armor(epic). Tanking are jormungar leg armor(rare) and frosthide leg armor(epic).

According to wowhead, a couple more ghoul abitities are gnaw(3 second stun) and huddle(shield wall-esque). Dont see explode on wowhead, but it may not be in their system.

#7 Illundai

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Posted 07 November 2008 - 03:45 AM

Oh d'oh, now I get what the tooltip on those buggers mean. I'll add them in a second.

#8 Davia

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Posted 07 November 2008 - 04:11 AM

8.3.1. Benefits brought by an Unholy spec

Unholy’s raid buff comes in the form of Ebon Plague. With the effects of Crypt Fever built-in, it not only provides all other Death Knights with 30% more disease damage, but also provides 13% more magic damage done to all targets diseased by you. While Warlocks and Moonkin can also provide this buff, it is most easily applied (especially to multiple targets) by a Death Knight. This spec is also capable of temporarily resurrecting raid members as ghouls, providing extra damage when no battle res is available.

Please note that you shoul only have one Unholy DK in the raid at a given time. Ebon Plague does not stack, and will only count as a third disease for strike damage to the DK that applied it.


Is this part implying that with Master of Ghouls you can raise a player as a ghoul without the 2 minute duration limit? I hadn't really ever considered this possibility.

#9 Clandestine

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Posted 07 November 2008 - 05:00 AM

No, it's actually a DPS downgrade to resurrect a raid member via Raise Dead if you're specced into Master of Ghouls because the player controlled Ghoul will still expire. As well, I don't think they ever fixed the issues with trying to resurrect someone after Raise Dead has been used on them, so you can probably count out any potential Rebirth if you turn them into a Ghoul.

#10 Randyll

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Posted 07 November 2008 - 05:13 AM

Is this part implying that with Master of Ghouls you can raise a player as a ghoul without the 2 minute duration limit? I hadn't really ever considered this possibility.


No. Talented or not, Shadow of Death on players (or yourself) lasts 45 sec max. As Clandestine stated, it's probably not worth using on players unless your own ghoul died and there's no BR available (due to bugs).

To Illundai: You could also mention in the stat section that for each point of strength, DK's gain 0.25 parry rating. There could also be a section about AP->Spell Power coefficients on spells like Death Coil and other abilities, so that people can evaluate the damage of their DC and other spells.

#11 Suno

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Posted 07 November 2008 - 05:15 AM

No, it's actually a DPS downgrade to resurrect a raid member via Raise Dead if you're specced into Master of Ghouls because the player controlled Ghoul will still expire. As well, I don't think they ever fixed the issues with trying to resurrect someone after Raise Dead has been used on them, so you can probably count out any potential Rebirth if you turn them into a Ghoul.


You still get the option to be resurrected while you are a ghoul. Accepting it kills off the ghoul you used to be, and any extra DPS that it could bring. If "ghouling" a fellow raider, pick one that a rebirth likely will not be burned on.

#12 Davia

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Posted 07 November 2008 - 05:15 AM

No. Talented or not, Shadow of Death on players (or yourself) lasts 45 sec max. As Clandestine stated, it's probably not worth using on players unless your own ghoul died and there's no BR available (due to bugs).

To Illundai: You could also mention in the stat section that for each point of strength, DK's gain 0.25 parry rating. There could also be a section about AP->Spell Power coefficients on spells like Death Coil and other abilities, so that people can evaluate the damage of their DC and other spells.


Coefficients would be very helpful to include in the guide.

#13 level12wizard

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Posted 07 November 2008 - 08:55 AM

Minor typos:

8.3. Unholy should be made larger, and Chaotic Skyflare Diamond meta links to the wrong wowhead item.


I'd suggest at least thinking about pet food buffs. The frailty of a ghoul in a typical raid situation with AoE damage without damage reduction like a Hunter/Warlock pet is obvious, but nonetheless. There is Spiced Mammoth Treats and Kibler's Bits. It's hard to say if they would work with Gargoyle or DRW, but it should at least work with the MoG Ghoul.

For food there is also Very Burnt Worg and Imperial Manta Steak, which is potentially useful in a dual wield build, although it may not compare to 40 str/crit rating.

Some more things possibly worth mentioning:

- Stroke, although I'm not sure how exactly it works. From what I've heard it's implementation has been fairly buggy.

- Effective usage of Empower Rune Weapon

- Army of the Dead, while it might be considered a tanking skill. I assume it can be part of what you do when shit hits the fan, though I'm not too sure on it's exact mechanics either.

A macro that might be worth using with a MoG ghoul that I saw somewhere in the inital thread:

#showtooltip Death Grip
/cast Death Grip
/cast Gnaw


#14 Gavain

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Posted 07 November 2008 - 10:11 AM

very nice work indeed !

minor typo : 8.3.1 "Please note that you shoul only have one Unholy DK..."

Maybe an additional note concerning strength/AP and our primary weapon enchant "Fallen Crusader". Up to a point it is better to gather strength over pure AP, even if the AP value alone is higher.
I am not sure if this is included into the values shown under 6.1. Even if, it might be worth mentioning under 6.1.1
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#15 Randyll

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Posted 07 November 2008 - 10:27 AM

I'd suggest at least thinking about pet food buffs. The frailty of a ghoul in a typical raid situation with AoE damage without damage reduction like a Hunter/Warlock pet is obvious, but nonetheless. There is Spiced Mammoth Treats and Kibler's Bits. It's hard to say if they would work with Gargoyle or DRW, but it should at least work with the MoG Ghoul.


The food won't work with the gargoyle, as it's classified as a "construct". Using it would be a waste given the gargoyle's duration. The pet food buffs apply only pets and minions.

Here's some bits I came up:
  • Empower Rune Weapon will generate 25 RP and immediately activate all your runes, meaning, if some of your runes were on cooldown, the cooldown is gone and the runes become activated. It can be useful in DPS situations where you need to pull that extra rotation and can't afford to wait. The cooldown is 5 minutes, so use it with consideration.
  • Army of the Dead is another "oh shit" spell which is a channeled spell that summons a ghoul for every second you channeled. The ghouls will swarm the area and taunt everything that moves. This spell is useful in situations where a wipe is imminent, as the ten (needs to be verified) ghouls are great cannon fodder, since they will taunt the boss and get killed, giving you time to breathe.


#16 Ish

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Posted 07 November 2008 - 12:26 PM

I am uncertain but reports say that Swordguard Embroidery from tailoring has a 45 sec ICD, with a 25% procrate and a 15 second duration that would put it at around 90 AP vs 22 agi or 22 haste.

I am mentioning it because you left tailoring out of the professions.

I hope someone has more accurate details regarding it since it is likely a good perk for the DK class considering our limited use of haste or agi

#17 Illundai

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Posted 07 November 2008 - 01:30 PM

Added a changelog so you guys can keep up with what changes I make.

I haven't added the attack power coefficients just yet, want to have some more confirmation they are indeed correct before I do.

#18 Zurm

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Posted 07 November 2008 - 02:10 PM

I've gotten a lot done with the Rawr module, and while I'm not yet confident in the stat breakdowns it provides, it is generating them error-free! As soon as I get the model to a comfortable point, I'd like any DKs comfortable with C# (or Java, as it's almost identical) to help me take a look over the math and make sure the model makes sense.

Once the Rawr module is completed, we will have a source for point-by-point talent comparisons, gear comparisons, automatic gemming to maximize DPS, and AP equivalence.
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#19 Sh4d0wfury

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Posted 07 November 2008 - 03:10 PM

A quick comparison about professions:

Alchemy: Cheap Profession that gives more or less a 33% better flasks for the alchemist. That would be 60AP from an endless rage flask. Elixirs and flasks also double in duration .

Blacksmith: 2 New (Colorless) Gem sockets to your gear. With Rare Red gems, this is 64AP from the gems. There's no BoP gear anymore.

Enchanting: 2 Ring enchants, that equals to 64AP. Since we can runeforge our own weapons, the value of enchanting is dismissed a little.

Enginerring: Crafted BoP Epic googles (iLvl 200). Not very usefull after getting T7. Here is a comparison between the two
Item Comparison Tool - World of Warcraft

Inscription: Cheap Profession that gives better shoulder enchants. The DPS enchant gives (surprise) more 64AP than the normal enchant.

Jewelcraft: 3 Chromatic (Death?) Gems, which compared to Rare red gems gives more 66AP. Also gives a DPS trinket:

Note the gem slots on the trinket.

Leatherworking: Give a bracers enchant, which gives 76 more AP than normal enchants. Also gives drums to the raid, but they don't stack anymore.

Tailoring: An executioner enchant on your cloak. Nothing really usefull.

Herbalism: A HoT that heals 2000 damage over 5 seconds.

Mining: Flat 500HP Bonus.

Skinning: A flat 25 critical strike rating.

I would suggest getting Inscription and Alchemy, especially if you have an Herbalist or Enchanter Alt, since they are cheap professions with cheap bonuses. BS, JC and Engineering bonuses dismish after some raiding tiers. LW and Tailor doesn't have much use.

#20 methods

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Posted 07 November 2008 - 03:15 PM

Looking good so far. The thing I would like to see the most is the actual value of armor pen for the various specs added into the table mainly to see if it is better or worse than melee haste. Having the finalized list (for naxx gear levels) for gear prioritizing would be handy.


I added ARP to my sheets and have come up with these rough numbers for a naxx gear DK:

1ARP to AP
[Table="head"]Stat|Unholy|Blood|Frost
1ARP|0.9727|1.8892|1.2623

Again, remember this is just a best guess and may have some errors in the sheets still. That being said, Blood looks like it has another favorite stat. It's interesting that haste is worse than ARP for unholy even.




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