Death Knight Raid DPS Compendium (FR/BL/UH)
This will be the FINAL update for the Death Knight guide for Wrath of the Lich King. With this, I am hoping that the information in the guide will actually be final and no longer changing all the way to Cataclysm. Like some of you know, I haven’t really played WoW at all for the last few months and as such, I’ve been less and less inclined on listening into WoW related items. But due to some work needing to be done in the guide and a bit of free time, I’ve looked up a couple of things and wanna work the guide back to its’ stance.
Death Knight DPS rotations and Item Evaluations:
With the Lich King dead, and the world seemingly is peaceful once more, our Death Knights prepare to rest...but a darkness stirs under the depths of the world. A dark presence is ready to make his return, and with it will cause great strife...prepare...for the CATACLYSM!
Welcome to the guide! This is now being updated to version 3.3 therefore there may still be some information that can be reviewed before being finalized, however I'm honestly certain I can give you the most of this information accurately.
At this time, Death Knights can either dual wield or use two handed weapons. The choice is up to you and the decision will affect certain trees being viable/not so viable.
However, let's first analyze stat priority for DKs.
DKs are very similar to Ret Paladins and Warriors as to gear selection. Here’s the general break down of what stats you’re going for, in priority from first to last.
1- Hit Rating (Yellow Cap)
Hit rating directly affects every single swing you do. To the exception of Icy Touch, Death Coil, Unholy Blight and Howling Blast, every other skill used is directly affected by melee hit. Now, as of 3.0.1, all hit has been rolled into one singular hit rating for both Melee and Spell. So the numbers given below are the numbers you wish to attain on your character sheet when you look at the specific tab (Hit for Melee Hit rating and Spell hit for spell hit rating.)
You need 8%, or 263 hit rating to cap both yellow and white melee damage with a two handed weapon on a boss.
This is the optimum number any dps wants to achieve as this guarantees you won’t miss your melee attacks.
- You need 23% or 745 hit rating or to cap your white damage with dual wielding.
Yes, you need that much. (5% natural miss chance, 18% penalty when dual wielding) But wait, is that all you need? Nope. That’s against a level 80 mob. You need a further 4% (grand total of 27%) or a whopping 875 hit rating to not miss on bosses. Yikes!
Note: This is NOT to say that you need to raise your numbers to the maximum amount of hit required for all of your stats. I'm mostly looking at people who have commented about getting 27% Hit Rating. These numbers are to explain exactly how much would be until you Hard Cap your rating where it then becomes absolutely USELESS to stack more. Please keep that in mind.
- Spell wise, you need 17%, or 446 hit rating to not miss with your spells. Virulence as well as raid buffs should hopefully cover you for the hit rating when it comes to spells as a DK. Unholy will find it easier to cap their spells, blood a bit harder due to not being able to access Unholy talents in that fashion (Although, Blood relies far less on Disease damage than Frost and much less than unholy, therefore capping this is not one of your highest priorities.)
2 – Strength
The prime stat for DPS, this is a 2:1 conversion for DKs. (Which means for every STR you have, you get 2 ap.) Also, this benefits from Blessing of Kings, which further ups your AP once you get the buff. The big kicker here is your Runeblade enchant: Runeblade of the Fallen Crusader. When this procs, this acts like a Crusader proc: 15% extra strength and it heals you. This alone makes strength such a powerful stat for DKs that it should first be regarded over any other stat except Hit and at times, Expertise.
2.5 – Expertise
No matter how much strength you will have, if a mob dodges you while you’re swinging at it, that registers as a flat 0 dps for that swing. The Expertise stat covers this part. Now, expertise is a little bit trickier. There are two things you need to know about Expertise:
-Expertise rating: this is what most items will give you when raising expertise. You need 8.1 expertise rating to give you 1 point of expertise which lowers the mob’s dodge rate by 0.25%
-Expertise number: This is the number you have after your expertise rating calculated. You know those shiny expertise number you get from talents and racial abilities? This is where those go. And these give a flat 8.1 points right away to you. So as human, you get 24.3 expertise rating alone, and as a dwarf or orc, you get 40.5 expertise rating.
Now, to cap this, you need to get the boss’s dodge rating lowered, which is calculated to be at 6.1% (If you're a dwarf using a mace or an orc using an axe), or 6.25% (If you're a human using swords or maces), or 6.5% (All other races) So, you need 4 expertise to get 1%, or 32.4 expertise rating. You want to multiply brings that number to 196, 203 or 211 respectively expertise rating to be capped.
In short, the number you're looking for, on the spreadsheet, should be 26. (Talents included)
No matter what, expertise is a huge number that you really should look into capping. It’s not as hard to cap as hit rating and should be looked at as much as strength should be until capped.
4 – Crit Rating
To beef up your damage, it’s always great to have a good crit rating to an item. More crits mean higher damage. Crit rating requires a whopping 45.91 points for 1% extra crit so don’t expect yourself to be insanely high in crit rating unless some items have that. In this retrospect, crit rating isn’t as important as the above stats because you really need a lot for it to make up for damage you could get out of the three other stats.
5– Armor Penetration
Armor Penetration is a really tricky beast. There are some people who love it and live with it, and it’s true, ArP is a very solid stat. Others simply don’t care about the stat and downgrade it’s importance. The biggest thing you need to remember is this: Any attack that has a physical ability linked to it will make ArP that much more important to you. ArP tends to fall lower in priority depending on the amount of physical damage that your spec does. Even Unholy now benefits from ArP thanks to the Scourge Strike change.
Since 3.1.1's change to ArP, Death Knights now get around 25% extra benefit from it. This does boost it's importance and it's utility towards a Blood Spec'ed Death Knight. Frost also can benefit from this. Unholy is mostly a magic damage dealing strike dealing the most of it's damage, including the damage of it's DoTs, however with the Scourge Strike change, it now becomes more desirable to have ArP. Frost also has Magic damage in the form of Howling Blast and Icy Touch. Blood relies on it's physical strike however it still has both Death Coil and Icy Touch to worry about in it's rotation. With that in mind, ArP doesn't become stronger than Strength in most situations, including Blood. So long as you keep an attack which will do Magic Damage in your rotation, ArP loses it's utility and Strength will simply be better as it increases damage from ALL attacks and not any physical strikes.
One can argue that the damage that Blood still does is 75% physical as the DoTs don't make much damage nor does Death Coil, but consider this: Sudden Doom can proc off of your Heart Strikes. All and all, it's still a decent chunk of your dps. 25% is being generous but you can see with the mechanics the Blood tree has, ArP loses it's power with some of your attacks.
In short, ArP will be beneficial to Death Knights but never reach a point where it becomes the go to stat instead of Strength. Of course, if we begin looking towards the ArP cap, it’s importance greatly improves due to the curve of armor that the ArP stat removes. For Blood, for sure, ArP will beat Strength but you need to have a specific amount of attack power before you can really get to that point. If you don’t want to break your head and this is what the guide’s really for (Not one that min maxes every single stat), don’t value ArP over Strength. Period. Be happy if the gear gives you some.
Stat conversions are as follows:
For 1% armor ignore, you need 12.31 ArP against mobs.
About 7 ArP on an item will equal to 1 ArP Rating. This means if you had 1000 ArP from selected items, you would have 142.8 ArP rating, or 9.2% armor reduction on creatures.
6 – Raw AP
Attack power is always nice but the problem with attack power is that it only scales with abilities. It also isn’t affected by BoK so you’re really looking at a one way ticket here. In Blood, Abom’s might really is a nice option that opens up some AP damage due to it increasing your ap by 10% but really, Strength just beats it for the simple case of your runeblade proc. However, there’s some times that the leather piece that no one wants has more ap than your strength + Bladed Armor ability will give you. Whatever gives you more AP, go nuts on it. But make sure it’s at least a decent upgrade. Strength’s still going to be the better stat over this.
7 – Agility
Agility is tricky. On one hand, it increases your armor AND your crit rating, but the numbers to do so is a little far fetched. You need anywhere between 52 and 62.5 points of agility for 1% of crit, which makes it less favorable of a stat over raw crit rating. Also, every point of agility increases your armor by 2. So, an item that has 45 agility will increase your armor by 90. That’s half of what you really need to even get 5 points from bladed armor. This makes raw AP better. All and all, Agility is a really mediocre stat.
8 – Haste
With 3.1, Haste was given I believe a 25% increase, just like ArP. However, this does not improve anything but your white attacks. We are on a rune system that has a regeneration that is set to 10 seconds. Each rune takes 10 seconds to reactivate after use, and haste does absolutely nothing. What Haste does do, is that it allows you to lower your global cooldown with the more you have. Also, in most situations, haste will always increase your white damage by a significant portion. But being Death Knights, we are bound, in our best situation, by the rune cooldown and haste has nothing to do with this. This leaves Haste once more the least likely stat to increase, even under Agility.
A note for you all however: Potions of Speed make for a nice pot to use. A nice substitute would be the Potion of Insane Strength or the Potion of Invulnerability. One increases your strength by 125 and lowers your Defense down and the other increases your Armor by a fair amount and that helps with AP if you have Bladed Armor. However in my decision, Speed simply helps out the most. All three are fine.
And that’s pretty much it for stats.
Glyph of Disease mechanics: I simply cannot give any glyph of disease mechanics. To me, these mechanics are utterly flawed and very very precise to the point that one simple strike will throw your entire rotation off the loop. With Blood being so tight, some people will say it works just fine while others will argue that the glyph is a crutch for something that shouldn’t even thought about. I’m really on the latter side to be honest. I dislike the glyph very very much due to the fact it’s too precise of you never to miss or never to move. In a no movement, all out, max dps rotation, I can see how the glyph would really be good for you to use, but I’m sorry, there’s no longer any Patchwerk fights and as such, the glyph loses it’s lustre. As such, I will not cover any of the glyph rotations. Elitistjerks and the WoW forums have enough information if you are curious about it.
BLOOD DEATH KNIGHT:
Let’s get one thing straight with Blood: It is a very gear demanding spec. This is not a spec you want to try with the minimum amount of gear. Furthermore, I wouldn’t suggest anyone attempt to keep up with the two other trees damage wise until you’re at least fully cleared Naxx (Or have tier 7 equal gear which isn't too hard with ToC and H ToC) as well as purchased the Sigil of Virulence. (Best emblem Sigil by far and easy enough to get at 25 badges.)
I rather not be too optimistic about numbers and this guide is more simple about requirements for builds. In the end, most builds will work fine and dandy, just quite suboptimal compared to other builds depending on when you decide to use the spec. Blood is definitely the one spec in our trees that requires a fair amount of minimum gear level to pull off the damage from this spec. My suggestion: Don’t bother until you’re in minimum the beginning of Tier 8 gear and with the Sigil of Virulence. Frost and Unholy will whip the snot out of this build with the lower amount of gearset you have. Be warned.
The spec for Blood has not really changed all that much since 3.1 where they made Death Strike the main FU of choice. With this in mind, the build really stays the same: 51/0/20
With that, you’re pretty much getting the essentials in Blood. Now some may question my decision on Blood Aura and Mark of Blood. Here are the reasons.
a)Blood Aura: No matter what, there will be some fights where you’re going to get hit by some AoE and it’s going to hurt. And your healers will have to heal you. So why not lower the need of healing you twice when healing you once will give you that potential 10% extra! Furthermore…guess what other attacks you have in your skills. That’s right! Death Strike is affected by this heal, therefore you’re getting 10% more efficiency from it to boot. This might be one of the bigger reasons why we’re getting such overpowered heals. (Record of around 32k heal from a 24k Death Strike). Now this is not a set in stone and I may not be reading the skill right however any healing done to you is increased by 10%. Death Strike hits and heals you. Put 2 and 2 together and that will show you my argument.
b)Mark of Blood: Ever have one of those times where you know the MT’s gonna take a lot of damage? And you wanna help out? There’s why you have Mark of Blood. Use one of your Death or Blood runes to pop that on the Boss to help your MT and your Healers. Remember, part of being good at your class is knowing when you can help and benefit your raid. If the MT dies, you’re gonna die next most likely and you may as well keep your MT quite happy.
Of course, there are other things you could look at: Could always put 3 points in Bloodworms and have their DPS increase your total dps (Which is true, it would raise your DPS because the worms do damage.) however I find that if you have to use Bloodworms, they tend to die a lot, and I’ve seen a lot of AoE situations where those lil things just would not survive at all. Would be nice if you would have to target the worms like Totems to destroy them however a lot of people would probably QQ about that one so let’s just leave it at a ‘wish list’
Added note: There is two things I wanna touch here: One is there is a glyph of disease build out there that seemingly is stronger than rotation build. It works on a priority system which emphasises Heart Strike, Death Strike, your diseases up, DC on time down, Ghoul when you got nothing else. This build is on par with the Blood rotation but is a little trickier to pull off. You always wanna make sure you have your diseases up and you simply make sure that you use your main attacks. I personally don’t feel comfortable with this type of play as I noted in the Glyph of Disease addendum up above therefore I won’t cover it. The rotation build suits our needs fine here.
Alright, let’s get into the gist of it: Rotations are always key to good dps, however, KNOW WHEN TO PRIORITIZE YOUR SKILLS! If you know something’s gonna be big and you have Empowered Rune Weapon ready to be used, you might want to consider using two Death Strikes instead of 4 Heart Strikes to keep your health up. Or maybe you want to consider using Blood Boil to hit those extra targets to drop them down. (The Deconstructor adds come into mind when they come too close to him). Sunny, a Death Knight back in the day of testing, said to prioritize first over rotate, and in this case you have to keep that in mind. Be a smart raider: know when it will benefit you to do something else than a rotation. Rotations are meant to be the best possible way to pump out DPS on an ideal setting.
Blood’s Rotation doesn’t change much from Pre 3.1 unless you did the silly Diseaseless build that shouldn’t of ever been put into the game because it was using bad mechanics of a class. Face it: We have diseases that are empowering our attacks. In that manner, we should NEVER need to forfeit those diseases for more damage.
And with that in mind, here is the rotation:
IT, PS, HSx2, DS, DC dump.
DS, HSx4 DC dump.
The reason why we’re putting HS before DS is that we’ll have the Glyph of DS on as one of our three Major Glyphs and to get the most Umph out of our DS, we’ll want to have as much RP as possible in our Runic Power tank.
WHEN TO USE HYSTERIA/DRW:
What’s nice is that they lowered the CD of Dancing Rune Weapon to 1.5 minutes, which coincides nicely with Hysteria. At first, always wait till you have 100 RP. This may not happen on your first rotation, but it’s bound to happen on the second, and if it doesn’t, you have Horn of Winter to help you out there as well. At that point, Hit Hysteria, ensure that all your buffs are up, and hit DRW. This will make all your attacks hit harder while DRW is up which will, in turn, make it hit for the most damage possible that it can, cut down by 50% of your own damage.
At this point, DRW will come back off it’s CD before Hysteria. Don’t forget to use it again! It’s a way to keep sustained DPS up because we don’t have a spiffy ghoul to rely on nor do we have constant damage going like Frost does. Once 3 minutes are up, your Hysteria may come off the CD earlier than DRW but not by much. Wait till both are back, then rinse and repeat.
Note: It’s always best to wait till you have a Heroism up but don’t rely on it. It’s on a 1.5 minute cooldown for a reason: use it when it can be used.
THE DEBATE BETWEEN UNHOLY BLIGHT AND DANCING RUNE WEAPON:
There’s been some talk about dropping the 51 point talent for the 21 point talent in Unholy: Unholy Blight. Unholy Blight is a simple DoT that is stackable which shows up every time you Death Coil. This should lead to a better single target damage dealing ability right? Not...quite.
1) Unholy Blight is a magical damage attack. Keep that in mind. We don’t go far enough in the Unholy tree to truly give Unholy Blight it’s damage possibility. The talents I can think up right now is Ebon Plaguebringer and Impurity, both which increase magical damage which affects UB. That alone weakens UB’s standpoint as a viable attack.
2) Everything that we have in our Blood talent tree focuses solely on physical damage dealing attacks. Unholy Blight's magic damage just doesn't have the right feel to this type of play.
Those two points alone make me hesitant about Unholy Blight being superior to Dancing Rune Weapon, even with the nerfs that it has suffered. I like my Dancing Rune Weapon even though he can be dumb and go in front of the boss and Parry some of his attacks. My statement stands: Go with DRW.
The Following Glyphs are used in this build:
Glyph of Death Strike: Although we don’t use Death Strike for anything else but rotate our FU glyphs to Death Runes, we may as well give the attack a good chunk more damage than it does now. Also, more damage: bigger heals which is always nice.
Glyph of Dark Death: This glyph not only empowers your dump attack, but it also empowers that one attack that may proc due to having so many Heart Strikes in your rotation! With the way that things are going as well with the Tier sets empowering Death Coil, this is a sure way to get the most out of your attacks
Glyph of Dancing Rune Weapon: You might as well get more damage out of it so an extra 5 seconds out is always a great way to go.
* You could replace either the DRW or Death Strike rune with the Glyph of Disease for the disease priority system. My suggestion would be DRW because you use Death Strike in your attacks every rotation whereas you don’t use DRW often (Every couple of minutes.)
WHAT DOES A BLOOD DEATH KNIGHT BRING?
Well for starters, he brings Abom’s Might, which is 10% extra attack power to the raid. This lets Hunters not worry about going Beastmaster which from what I understand, has been lacking in the DPS section. (Could be wrong, I don’t pay attention to Hunters) Furthermore, you are bringing a DPS that can watch his own health rather effectively and provide some interesting buffs: Mark of Blood being the big one to help out with your Main Tanks. This gives this Death Knight an added advantage to not only be a class that can DPS with the best of them, but moreso to push to the limit and not worry about dying so much due to the amazing tools the class has to keep themselves alive. Remember, a dead DPS is 0 DPS, and in that manner, the Blood Death Knight brings his own constant health regeneration.
Blood changes from pre 3.1 to now have been moreso for the good. At this point, stat priorities may change a bit, giving ArP a more solid nod than usual. This will probably be better than Haste and about as high as Crit. The rest stay the relative same.
Death Strike being the FU of choice is a great way to work the Blood build. It has a much better feel of belonging there and it just simply makes the tree fit nicely. The change from Obliterate to Death Strike was a good one, especially with the addition of the attacks in our Tier 7 as well as the Sigil of Awareness.
If there is one critique of Blood, it’s that it’s actually somewhat difficult to get RP for this build. This is a very short RP build that doesn’t pump out the same RP numbers as most would think. It is essential in that manner to use your RP wisely as it becomes more of a decision making situation than any other: Should I use my RP to hit a death coil when DRW is nearly off it’s CD? Is Death Strike the next attack and if it is, should I use a Death Coil, possibly lowering Death Strike’s damage? These are all things a Blood Death Knight now has to watch and evaluate when DPSing. And it does make a difference. Play smart and a Blood Death Knight in the right hands will make a welcome addition to the party.
FROST DEATH KNIGHT:
Frost 3.2 has surely changed the mechanics of the Frost world right? ...well not really. To you Frost two handed enthusiastic, the mechanics of Frost are going to be the same to be honest. However, you will be focusing moreso on getting rid of your two hander for the much preferred dual wielding method. The reason behind is would be lain upon solely the Threat of Thassarian talent. This talent allows your offhand to do half of the damage your mainhand attack does. With the talent in mind, this pretty much gives your attacks the same amount of oomph as a two hander, however you can empower it far more with dual wielding capabilities and talents such as Necrosis and Blood Caked Blade, which no longer is normalized. The weapon suggestion for this build is slow/slow, unlike the Unholy counterpart of dual wielding, and focuses mostly on Obliterates being your strongest damage dealing ability in your rotation. Many people will be opting to go back to their Sigil of Awareness found in Naxxramas 25 or bought with 25 badges from the Valor vendor. However other than this change, your rotation system stays the same.
When first starting to raid, one would think they’d want to go down through the blood tree to get stat altering builds, right? Well, unfortunately, a lot of the Blood skills are not as needed as most would think. In fact, it is commonly agreed upon that past Subversion, Blood really doesn’t give much help. You are much better off branching in Unholy immediately. Some die hard Blood fans will not listen though, so I offer this build to start off. Note that I would not recommend this to even start with, but if you sincerely think your stats are far too low to actually matter, then by all means:
The World of Warcraft Armory
As you can see, we take Bladed Armor and Dark Conviction to boost up our AP and Crit rating. However Crit rating is not as needed as many people see. If you go down the Frost tree, you will see that we have a lot more focus on skills that will proc and make our next attack either free or a critical strike. This skill would be Killing Machine. With Killing Machine, crits come around far more often than most other builds and it is with that skill that makes crit slightly less essential.
That’s as much as I will touch about Blood. The next two builds will focus more on Unholy branches.
The World of Warcraft Armory
This build focuses on getting Subversion for not only the threat reducing talent (You will find the dual wielding build causes a lot of threat) but for the extra 9% extra crit strike chance on Obliterate as well. In a tree where there are a lot of abilities that cause your attacks to crit, it isn’t as noteworthy to think about, however Obliterate is your main source of damage and to crit more often is always a good idea. If you believe your crit is a bit low and you seem to be pulling too much aggro, this build could work for you.
The World of Warcraft Armory
This would be my personal favorite build, as well as the one I’m running with at this time. With this build, you grab a full 3/3 Blood Caked Blade, which is point per point slightly better than Subversion in damage potential. The idea is that with BCB now not normalized, slow weapons that you will have will make the skill hit harder, which is always nice. Combined with the feel of how the Frost dual wielding tree works, it’s only fitting to have the BCB skill in your arsenal.
Frost has lost it’s rotation system. This is the ONLY time I will ever state that you should work on a priority system based on the Glyph of Disease as it simply is much better DPS than a rotation based system. If you absolutely must, you can follow the basic rotation of IT, PS, BSx2, OB, FS dump, OBx3, FS dump. But I don’t suggest it anymore. Really, to be honest with you, you’re better off learning the priority system when it comes to this tree.
The priority is rather simple:
KM – Frost Strike
Keep diseases up
Horn of Winter
Because of this, you wanna make sure to watch this rotation. You may want to set your UI in order to see it light up as they come up and are available. This would honestly be your best bet at this point but really, do yourself a favour and do this. The reason as well as I say use the Glyph of Disease on this is due to not having to use two runes and only one, and one that isn’t that high in the priority list. (That would be Blood Strike if you haven’t noticed.)
That rotation above is simply based on single target. AoE’s a little different:
Pestilence diseases all over
Death and Decay
Horn of winter.
You’re pretty much using all the resources you have at your disposal for maximum AoE damage, and trust me, that’s a LOT of damage being thrown out.
With this all explained, you honestly should be fine with a priority system. It isn’t as hard as some people would think so you may as well. Furthermore, this will open the door for the other disease builds that may excel in some areas (Blood in particular, if you master it, gives you an extra Heart Strike, which would give you more damage in the long run.) Make sure to take a look at this and try your hardest to learn it. It’s kinda like whack a mole: hit the button that is up at the time. Just make sure it’s set in the right method: 1’s 100 points, 6 is like..10. Very odd way of showing what I mean but trust me, it makes sense...well ok, maybe in my world.
WHEN TO DEATHCHILL, RIME, KILLING MACHINE, AND UNBREAKABLE ARMOR:
Deathchill: Use this for a guaranteed crit with either Icy Touch, Howling Blast, Obliterate or Frost Strike. Preferably, you would use this with Frost Strike on a single target as it will be your bread and butter in damage, however if there are AoE situations, a solid crit buff for Howling Blast while in an AoE position will definitely be your strongest DPS increase. Try not to use this when Killing Machine is up, it’d be counter productive. Know your situation and use it accordingly.
Rime/Killing Machine: We’re back to hitting Rime dead last and using KM with Frost Strike. It’s simply worth the damage to combine the two together now for extra damage. Combine Killing Machine with Frost strike and use rime when you simply have little to nothing else to hit. Rime’s damage is not that much worth in single targets (Do realize that if you’re AoEing, Rime becomes a lot more amazing in the scale of things.)
Unbreakable Armor: I still have not figured a right way to do this skill in a rotation to benefit me. I have been thinking of attaching it with Blood Tap and using it every time it’s up. I just haven’t figured out when would be the best time to do so without messing your rotation up too badly. Unbreakable Armor increases your strength by 10%. This is a great buff and gives you a decent amount of AP to boot. Let’s analyze:
With 1000 Strength, using Unbreakable Armor will give you 100 strength or 200 AP bonus. And that’s just with ONE talent point. The more strength you get, the higher this goes. I’m sitting at around 1300 Strength unbuffed, which means 130 strength or 260 Attack Power. That’s as good as a Trinket Proc. Now you can see why I’m trying to figure a way to put this skill in our rotations. The best time to do it I think would be at the end of the second rotation to empower your Frost Strikes and have it at your cooldown. A macro would be useful here to use both Blood Tap and Unbreakable Armor at the same time.
Some individuals love this ability and will get rid of one point in Killing Machine to get Unbreakable Armor. Whichever you feel like doing is entirely up to you, as both work just fine.
The Following Glyphs are used in this build:
Glyph of Frost Strike: This lowers Frost Strike’s RP cost to 32 RP. This allows for a third Frost Strike to go through on a 100 RP scenario. Always nice to have, but can become a pain to dump if you don’t have enough time to dump it all. I’m still on the fence about this due to that and the fact that you have 130 RP as your maximum makes this even more painful to dump at a lower cost. The extra Frost damage is key to this build but you cannot neglect your rotation too much otherwise you could potentially be hitting your Frost Strikes without Frost Fever up and that’s a no no.
Glyph of Icy Touch: The change to this glyph makes it so that you get 20% extra Frost Fever damage when applying it to an enemy. This lowers the RP that we got with the old glyph however ups the DPS. This is also a very nice addition to add more damage to your attacks.
Glyph of Disease: This is a must. Replace with Icy Touch if worse comes to worse: you lose out on the damage that your Icy Touch does but you’re gaining a priority system that will outdps your normal rotation methods. I hate to say this but really, get this in your head fast: The Frost tree is made for a priority system and the system is by far the better one. This is not a murky water type deal like Blood is.
Glyph of Obliterate: 20% extra damage to your FU is always a nice choice to have and a great tool to use. One of the must have glyphs with dual wielding at this point.
WHAT DOES A FROST DEATH KNIGHT BRING?
Frost Death Knights bring melee enhancing speed attacks to the raid. This is especially nice to have for any melee, as Haste benefits every class…except the Death Knight. It’s ironic that we have a talent which really only increases our white damage…and that’s about it. Rogues get more chances to proc poisons, Warriors get more rage with more white attack swings, Rets get the ability to smack things faster with their two handed (Not sure how else that benefits them) And Enhance shamans get the fun time of having more WFs proc with faster attacks. Death Knights? White damage only! Woo!
Frost also brings a very strong AoE damage dealer. Frost’s power and rotation changes slightly when it comes to AoE by using Howling Blast over Obliterate. This alone makes for a great damage dealing ability. Who can complain about an attack that can crit every target around his focused target? AoE packs tend to really get hurt.
Bring a Frost Death Knight if you require a speed buff or if you want a strong AoE presence. They can hold their own in single target DPS too.
Frost has overcome some drastic changes to make things look rather interesting for a little while. The introduction of Frost Dual Wield gives another angle to play the class. The tree no longer looks at powerful burst as it’s key but like all dual wielding builds, looks to push on sustainability. You won’t win big burst fights such as XT where bursting the heart with cooldowns is always a great thing, however you will be always one of the higher DPS thanks to sustainability and the ability to keep constant damage pouring out.
The major problem I have with Frost is unlike Blood and Unholy, we do not have a cooldown to use on command for extra burst. I suppose due to how the tree works, the on crit attacks are our on demand damage, however this is a control we do not have and is solely reliant on PPMs and other random factors that come into play. In short, Frost suffers from having no cooldowns to really push numbers hard and fast. I wrote up my thoughts about Frost versus Blood dps but you could easily put Unholy in Blood’s position and get the same thoughts about it. You can read this here, at Tankspot: Blood vs. Frost Dual Wielding.
UNHOLY DEATH KNIGHT:
Unholy Death Knights: Masters of Magic and DoTs. They are the tree in which focuses mainly on awesome DoT upkeep as well as strong magical damage. Unholy Death Knight are by far the most gear friendly of the trees in the manner that really, the only big thing you want to focus on here is AP and getting your spells to do more damage. AP will solely boost this tree’s damage and as such, relies less on specific gear setup. I would firmly suggest any new DK willing to push themselves to the limit on DPS to choose this tree. It’s main FU strike, Scourge Strike, is a magical damage attack that deals part shadow damage, part physical damage.
Due to how Scourge Strike takes a long while to get geared until it is actually more beneficial than attacking with skills including Necrosis, the first build focuses on having a rotation that doesn't include as much the Scourge Strike attack. The reason behind this is that you are doing as many attacks to allow Necrosis to proc and do more damage in the long run than simply following a Scourge Strike focused build.
The World of Warcraft Armory
Simply put, you drop Reaping, grab Necrosis and go from there. Epidemic allows you to do the full rotation without worries of your diseases and trust me it's going to feel weird at the first part when the rotation is explained. However it will be beneficial for you to follow it.
Upon achieving two pieces of Tier 10 (Or get at least around half of your gear pushed in tier 10 content), Scourge Strike begins hitting stronger than Necrosis + other skills combined. At this point, you want to actually pick up Reaping and ditch the two extra Blood Strikes in your rotation. You also pick up Epidemic as always, and get rid of Necrosis completely:
The World of Warcraft Armory
As you can see, there are some interesting changes: For one, there is no Necrosis chosen and instead we went with two points in Morbidity to increase your Death Coil damage. The points in Morbidity will oddly enough outweight the two points you could put in Necrosis by a small bit therefore in a maximum dps setting, it’s better there. The rest is pretty average in the build that you would normally see. Your ghoul acts as a DPS increase as well. Keep an eye on him because it’ll hurt your DPS if the bugger dies. The gargoyle is also an increase of DPS with a decent CD on it so use it in burn phases.
The rotation for Unholy is pretty much simpler now that most people will forego the Scourge Strike glyph for the much better Glyph of Icy Touch. Please refer to the new changes for this glyph to realize it’s potential in an Unholy tree.
The rotation is as follows:
IT, PS, BSx2, ScS, (DC if you have the RP)
ScS, BSx2, ScS, (DC until rune refreshes)
IT, PS, BSx2, ScS, (DC if you have the RP for it)
ScSx3, (DC until rune refreshes)
Now, Death Coil has lost it’s power when it comes to Unholy and as such, it is acceptable to leave some RP left in your tank if you get to the point your runes refresh. Always use your runes over your dump; your dump is not the strongest of your attacks. Now some members will ask me what happens if I get a spot where I'm waiting for Runes? At that point, you want to use your cooldowns. Bone Armor, Horn of Winter, etc etc etc. That cooldown is meant for any skill that you need to refresh/reactivate. Use it wisely. It will usually show up in the first part of the rotation when waiting for the other runes to come off cooldown.
WHEN TO USE BONE ARMOR/GARGOYLE:
We get two abilities that will help our damage.
Bone Armor: This armor will give us a bit more damage to our attacks (2%). Although it doesn’t sound like much, this is a passive shield that stays around you until the charges are used up. Which means it’s a Fire and Forget button. It also is a five minute buff therefore it really isn’t hard to keep track of. Proper use would be to use outside of battle and refresh when necessary through your rotation (Try using Blood Tap/Bone Armor after you have used a Blood rune rotation, preferably after the second Blood Strike in your first rotation).
Gargoyle: Every 3 minutes, we get to summon a flying ugly mongrel called a Gargoyle. He loves to flap around and cough out some giant balls of goo at your enemies...or are they Shadowbolts? Meh, they do damage! Now the trick with the Gargoyle is this: With 3.2's changes to the bugger, he now no longer saps your RP while he's out which means you're going to get a full 30 seconds of him blasting your enemies to bits for 60 RP. It's a nice change as it means you no longer lose 80 RP just to keep him up. That's two extra DCs you can toss at your enemies as well.
How he works is fairly simple. Picture a snapshot of your character screen showing statistics and whatnot. Well look at the AP section. The moment you activate your Gargoyle, whatever your AP is at, is what he’s going to attack with. Therefore the best time would be to use it when Trinkets as well as any speed enhancing abilities are fully functional. This means a good time would be during Heroism as he will get the speed buff for the full 30 seconds he’s flapping away.
The downside of this is that he’s not very sturdy. He’ll easily get shot down if there’s any sort of AoE so you have to watch and gauge when to use him. If it’s a high intensive fight where there is constant AoE, you are better off not using him and sticking to a Death Coil rotation. It’s a sad fact but he won’t help you.
THE GHOUL, A FRIENDLY PET!
The great thing about Unholy is that down at the 25 talent tree mark, we get a spiffy ability that makes our Ghoul a pet. He gets some spiffy lil abilities and gets Strength and Stamina based on whatever you have. Ravenous Dead will give even him even more benefits to boot, and Night of the Dead, it’s needed talent before being able to access the Master of Ghouls talent, increases it’s AoE survivability by 75% by avoiding it. Adding a certain Glyph of the Ghoul, you will pretty much give him an increase of 100% of your Strength and Stamina. That’s pretty much double your stats that the lil bugger will have. That’s a pretty potent ally to have as a pet! Go on, try it with both, watch him nearly double your strength and you sit and cry because your undead corpse dropping follower is stronger than you and losing limbs while he hits people. (He doesn’t but you get the point.)
The ghoul is an invaluable pet to the Unholy DK that adds a significant amount of DPS to your character. As such, keep him alive as much as you can and get acquainted with the follow command it has. There are some AoE attacks that will wipe him out in a shot and as such, you must control your pet well enough. Otherwise you have to wait 4 minutes for another one and that’s a drop in DPS for that little bit.
He also gets a nice ability further down the tree that allows you to use an Unholy rune to activate called Ghoul Frenzy. Now, you must ask yourself again: When do I use it? Remember my idea about refreshing Bone Armor? Well this is where it comes in handy. After using your first rotation, immediately pop Rune Tap and then Ghoul Frenzy. This will not stagger your Blood rune too much due to it’s immediate use and it will allow you to give your ghoul some nice haste bonus to boot and heal it. Gotta keep the lil bugger happy, right?
Proper Ghoul management will up your DPS by a significant portion. As an Unholy Death Knight, use the power of Unholy creation to your advantage: keep him alive and healthy.
Unholy Death Knights have a range of glyphs that they can use that are actually quite beneficial to them. Choosing 3 will be up to the Death Knight. The following Glyphs are used in the builds:
Glyph of the Ghoul: 40% Strength and Stamina to the Ghoul. That’s a 100% increase of whatever your stats are. This gives your ghoul a nice boost and gives you in the end a boost in DPS. Nothing wrong with that, I would say.
Glyph of Icy Touch: 20% more damage on your Icy Touch’s DoT damage. It speaks for itself when your DoTs are your strongest damage in your tree. Get it, you won’t be upset.
Glyph of Dark Death: Empowering your Death Coils is a great way for a DPS boost as a dump. A strong choice if you want to get more dps out of your dump.
Glyph of Unholy Blight: This glyph adds 40% to your Unholy Blight damage done. It's a nice addition to the DoT damage that will only scale as you get better gear as well. A sound investment.
Glyph of Bone Armor: Some people will debate this one but nothing wrong with extra Bone Shield charges to keep your Bone Armor up longer. Remember that Bone Armor now has a 2 minute Cooldown so if it goes down during that time and it’s on CD, you gotta wait for it.
WHAT DOES AN UNHOLY DEATH KNIGHT BRING?
Unholy brings extra diseases to the board. I know for some classes, the more diseases upon your targets, the more damage it does. This alone makes it very worthwhile to have. Furthermore, Unholy Death Knights bring a flat 13% increased Magic damage to your raid. If your raid is caster heavy, this is a godsend to them. This tree does also bring some nice burst damage in the form of the Gargoyle and the lowered time on Army of the Dead which allows players to masterfully use their dead minions at the proper time for an increased amount of damage.
Unholy has gone through a lot of changes and has become much more simplified like Blood is. With this, it loses it’s uniqueness in which was one of the harder trees to play and once you mastered it, you reaped the rewards. However it’s always a nice AoE damage tree which really excels at doing a lot of damage to a lot of creatures. Speaking from a vantage point, the only thing about Unholy will be slightly less damage single target as Unholy doesn’t have as many damaging attacks as say Frost or Blood. The people who are spec’ed Unholy in most of the parsings is not for it’s single target damage but is actually for the AoE possibility that really pushes the numbers up high. In the end, it’s slightly deceiving to believe that the tree can keep up on a single target situation with the two trees, but as soon as you add in more mobs, Unholy leaps ahead. This is not to say that Unholy does not hold it’s ground in a single target DPS situation. I’m just saying that it’s power is much better seen in AoE situations.
Caveat: Unholy DW DPS:
From what I’ve done research on, there is beginning to be less and less point in going Unholy DWing. Frost does just well as the DW tree and Unholy now really benefits from a two hander. In all case and points shown, it’s viewed as a DPS decrease to go with dual wielding instead of your two hander in the tree. There are diehard Unholy fans that will swear that it keeps up and it probably does depending on the situation and how you work your points. But to be honest, right now it’s not really worth the hassle to argue semantics: If you wanna dual wield, go Frost.
Gemming follows a similar path that a Warrior would on the most basic of situations. Presume Blood is similar to Arms and Frost and Unholy more like Fury:
Chaotic Skyflare Diamond:
This Meta Gem adds 21 crit rating which is always nice for any Death Knight looking to help out. The key to this meta, however is the 3% extra critical strike damage. Which means ANY critical strike you do will be 3% stronger. This is where the magic works for your meta gem folks, and is considered our best.
Relentless Earthsiege Diamond:
This Meta Gem adds 21 agility which is not as strong for a Death Knight as pure crit rating would be. Seeing how we need a high number of agility to really pull off 1%, the crit rating gem usually is superior. The counter argument to this is that with 21 agility as a statistic, the gem can scale much better with Kings which is a buff most of you should have in your raid. Again, this gem has the 3% increase in critical strike damage which makes it a solid second choice if you can't find the first one to cut.
Red/Yellow/Blue Gem selection:
At this point, it's silly to list every gem combination possible in the game and give you the pros and cons. However here's the jist of it.
Red gem slot: Bold Cardinal Ruby = 20 Strength (34 for a Bold Dragon's Eye for JCs if possible)
Yellow Gem slot: Inscribed Ametrine = 10 Strength and 10 Critical Strike Rating
Blue: Sovereign Dreadstone = 10 Strength and 15 Stamina
Now, those selections are Best in Slot selections and will give you the MAXIMUM amount of DPS. There are two things that I want people to understand when it comes to gemming:
1) In no way let your primary stats suffer because of a BiS gem. If you're missing 20 Hit, you can either regear yourself to get that hit or just shove a 20 hit gem in there. Hit and Expertise are pretty damn paramount in the build so if you don't have those capped, don't be afraid to gem. It isn't the greatest way to go DPS wise, however you're better off capping those primary statistics before buffing your strength.
2) 90% of the time, unless the socket bonus is equal to 10 Strength, you're going to be using the Bold Cardinal Ruby. It is by far the greatest upgrade for you (You're looking at a flat 40 AP raise, excluding Kings helping this.). The only time you should ever really worry about socketing your gear for a bonus is for 10+ strength. Why? Because it will allow you to get the same amount of strength through the socket as well as the gem (10+10=20) and you will give a secondary stat a boost (Crit or Stamina in this case.)
* Jewelcrafters: Ensure you have 3 +34 Strength gems somewhere in your gear! *
Adding jewels will benefit your statistics and your DPS, however be smart about it: gem successfully!
This is still a work in progress. I fully accept people critiquing as well as giving advice about this class when it comes to DPS.
In the end however, it comes to this: Play the Death Knight class the way you want to. All three specs are very powerful in their own way and it takes skill and effort to get all three to their maximum input. Of all things, this Compendium showed me more about how I play my class than any other has. You have a few options to play with:
- A single target Power House that self heals to sustain himself and potentially his group and raid members
- A dual wielding, sustaining, hard striking individual that focuses on hasting the party's damage output and striking through defenses with frost and physicality.
- A master of DoTs, letting the damage accumulate through it's magic effects and giving casters more oomph to their damage.
Enjoy yourselves, this class is a new class and a very enjoyable one.