1. [Guide] PvE Unholy Death Knight 3.3.5

    PvE Unholy Death Knight Guide [3.3.5]

    1. Introduction

    The Death Knights are a melee, Plate wearing class.
    Main resources are the runes (Blood, Frost and Unholy), and the Runic Power you generate when using abilities that consume runes.

    Unholy Death Knights:
    - don't deal large portions of damage. (So don't expect miracles to happen.)
    - are support DPS with valuable buffs and tasks throughout different encounters.
    - have lots of diseases and damage over time effects.
    - are not that strong in Single Target encounters, though they can still catch up with the Frost Death Knights' DPS.
    - have pets that deal high damage.
    - can make strong bursts.
    - can reach the highest AoE damage in WotLK, thus beating the other classes on encounters with more than one target. (read bellow)
    - use a Two-Handed Weapon.

    2. Main Gear

    The classic setup that most people use is 4 or 5 parts of Tier 10 (or 10.5(hc)) gear.
    These are the bonuses provided by Tier 10:
    " (2) Set: Your Obliterate and Scourge Strike abilities deal 10% increased damage, and your Heart Strike ability deals 7% increased damage.
    (4) Set: Whenever all your runes are on cooldown, you gain 3% increased damage done with weapons, spells, and abilities for the next 15 sec. "


    The setup that I'm going to present to you is made up of 4 parts Tier 9 (or 9.5(hc)) gear.
    These are the bonuses provided by Tier 9:
    "(2) Set: Your Blood Strike and Heart Strike abilities have a chance to grant you 180 additional strength for 15 sec.
    (4) Set: Your Blood Plague ability now has a chance for its damage to be critical strikes."

    The four parts you need are:
    - T9.5HC Head
    - T9.5HC Shoulders
    - T9.5HC Chest
    - T9.5HC Gloves

    The last slot is usually for Legs. You can find the "best in slot" items below.

    For more explanations about the T9.5 go to the end of the guide.

    3. Stats

    1.1. You need certain amount of Hit Rating - 264 which is equal to 8%. Your first task is to reach this amount.
    1.2. Strength is your main stat. The more you have - the better.
    1.3. Expertise is needed when you are situated in front of your target. The amount needed is around 24 which is equal to 6%. But you can go with less Expertise if you are more experienced in the encounters.
    1.4. Haste is another important stat, because it modifies serveral things which are:
    - Your global Cooldown.
    - Your attack speed (you have talents like "Blood Caked-Blade', 'Necrosis', 'Icy Talons').
    - Your Gargoyle's attack speed.
    1.5. Critical Strike Rating is extremely important for Unholy Death Knights. You need around around 38-40% (with Horn Of Winter active), so in raids you can reach 40% and above.
    It's important for:
    - the 4 part bonus of Tier 9 gear.
    - 'Wandering Plague' talent.
    - your melee hits.
    1.6. Armor Penetration is not that useful stat. Most of your abilities are not physical. However, you'll have some Armor Penetration in your end gear which is nice and it will do the job.

    After you have capped Hit Rating, your prioritization should look like this:

    Strength > Critical Strike Rating => Haste > Expertise > Armor Penetration

    4. Talents

    The best talents that you can use as Unholy are:

    0/17/54 using Frost as Sub-Spec.

    Here you can see the talents:

    - Virulence increases spell Hit Rating - it's a must.
    - Epidemic is usually used in order NOT to screw your rotation. The less time your disease have, the more Pestilence and Blood Runes you'll use, thus losing DPS and even risking to fully drop your diseases accidentally.
    - Necrosis and Blood-Caked Blade are a must.
    - You need your Ghoul active through encounters, it's a great source of damage.
    - The same implies to Bone Shield (it gives you 2% damage increase while active).
    - Wandering Plague is a must.
    - Gargoyle will help your burst.

    - Runic Power Mastery extends the Runic Power pool to 130. It's good when you use lots of runes, or absorb damage with Anti-Magic Shell.
    - Icy Talons is important for your melee haste. It helps your Necrosis and Blood-Caked Blade talents.

    5. Glyphs

    - Glyph of Disease*
    - Glyph of Icy Touch*
    - Glyph of Dark Death*

    - Glyph of Horn of Winter
    - Glyph of Blood Tap
    - Glyph of Pestilence*

    * These are the most important glyphs you should always have.

    6. Enchants, Runeforging, Gems, Sigil

    1.1. Enchants:

    - Head - 50ap + 20crit.
    - Shoulder - 40ap + 15crit.
    - Cloak - 23haste. *If you are a Tailor - "Swordguard Embroidery".
    - Chest - 10all stats.
    - Bracers - 50ap.
    - Gloves - 44ap. *If you are an Engineer - "Hyperspeed Accelerators".
    - Belt - extra socket. *Cobalt bomb if Engineer.
    - Legs - 75ap. + 22crit.
    - Boots - 32ap. *You can go with Nitro Boosts if Engineer, it might be helpful in some situations.

    1.2. Runeforging:

    - Rune of the Fallen Crusader.

    1.3. Gems:

    If you are a T10.5HC player you'll stack 20 Strength everywhere - plain and simple, that's the best choice.

    However, for T9.5HC there are generally three options here:

    1. Stack 20 Strength - doesn't work good at all. You will lose DPS.
    2. Match colors - this way you'll get fair amount of Strength and Critical Strike Rating. Probably the best choice.
    3. Stack 10 Strength + 10 Critical Strike Rating everywhere. This also leads to matching colors if we are doing it on "best in slot" gear. Performance varies.
    The choice is yours.

    I usually go for matching.

    - Chaotic Skyflare Diamond - 21% Critical Strike Rating + 3% Increased Critical Strike Damage;

    - 20 Strength;

    - 10 Strength + 10 Critical Strike Rating or 10 Strength + 10 Haste Rating;

    - 10 Strength + 15 Stamina. You need only one of these, combined with Nightmare Tear in order to activate your Meta Gem. I usually have one on my chest. Nightmare Tear is usually on my pants.

    1.4. Sigil:

    - Sigil of the Hanged Man

    7. Rotation

    1. Have your Bone Shield up.
    2. Have your pet summoned, with full Energy and buffed.
    Seconds before you start the encounter:
    3. Use racials (Troll, Orc, Blood Elf) and trinkets that are manually activated.
    4. *Hyperspeed Accelerators and Horn of Winter.

    Icy Touch >> Plague Strike >> Blood Strike >> Blood Strike >> Scourge Strike >> Summon Gargoyle >> (Cobalt Frag Bomb) >> Scourge Strike >> Empower Rune Weapon >> Scourge Strike >> Scourge Strike >> Blood Strike >> Blood Strike >> Blood Tap >> Pestilence >> Death Coils >> Horn Of Winter

    You start by applying diseases, 2xBlood Strike and 1xScourge strike.
    If you started properly then you have enough Runic Power to Summon Gargoyle and all your trinkets and bonuses have procced.
    You can throw in Cobalt Frag Bomb.
    Now you have to wait for less than 1 second for one more Scourge Strike, before refreshing all runes with Empower Rune Weapon.
    You throw in another 2xScourge Strikes and 2xBlood Strikes.
    By this time you will have 0 active Blood Runes, and your Diseases will be close to dropping. That's why you use Blood Tap and Pestilence.
    You now have around 130 Runic Power. You can spam Death Coils until other spells are ready.

    After that, it usually goes like: 2xScourge Strike > 2xBlood Strike > Death Coils > Pestilence...

    The order of importance of the spells is:
    1. Scourge Strike > 2. Blood Strike > 3. Death Coil

    It's important to use Scourge Strike first. It does the highest damage from the three abilities listed above and prioritizing it enables your Frost and Unholy runes to regenerate while you are using Blood Strike and Death Coil.
    While using Blood Strike always keep an eye on your diseases' time left and the available Blood runes or the cooldowns left on them.
    In a certain moment you'll have to use Pestilence, which costs one Blood Rune. Make sure you have one available.
    You can track your Blood Tap's cooldown and use it few seconds before diseases are going to drop in order to refresh them. It also generates Runic Power.
    Using Horn of Winter usually happens when you don't have any other active spells. You can cast it while running/moving, depending on encounter.
    If you have Hyperspeed Accelerators - use them on cooldown.

    - It's important to use your Summon Gargoyle spell when you have procs and Bloodlust/Heroism for maximum performance.
    - When there is more than one target, always try to spread diseases on them. Wandering Plague will increase the damage on the main target too.
    - If you happen to drop your diseases accidentally, use Pestilence. If there is another Death Knight in your group, and his diseases are on the target, you'll have yours up, without losing Unholy and Frost runes and screwing your rotation. However if there isn't, you'll have to reapply them.
    - Anti-Magic Shell can be used as your advantage in different encounters (for example Rotface where you can pop Anti-Magic Shell and go in the puddle which will result in instant 130 Runic Power). This way you can spam Death Coils for a while.
    - Don't forget to have Bone Shield up and your ghoul summoned.
    - If you see any potential danger don't be a hero - use your defensives even if it costs you some DPS. A dead DPS is USELESS DPS.

    8. Offset items, trinkets, weapons.

    1.1. Best in slot offset items and trinkets for T9.5HC setup:

    Neck: Penumbra Pendant
    Cloak: Winding Sheet
    Bracers: Taiga Bindings
    Belt: Coldwraith Links
    Legs: Scourge Reaver's Legplates
    Boots: Apocalypse' Advance
    Ring 1: Ashen Band of Endless Might
    Ring 2: Might of Blight
    Trinket 1: Sharpened Twilight Scale
    Trinket 2:
    - Deathbringer's Will.
    - Death's Choice/Verdict.
    - Whispering Fanged Skull.

    Deathbringer's Will is all about luck. It's good enough for shorter encounters. Keep in mind that it can turn tables.
    Death's Choice/Verdict will always provide solid DPS and is good for longer fights.
    Whispering Fanged Skull can also be a good replacement for long encounters, but keep in mind that its performance varies.

    1.2. Weapons:

    - Shadowmourne - enough said.
    - Glorenzelg, High-Blade of the Silver Hand - gives you good damage, stats such as Critical Strike, Expertise and 3 Red Sockets.
    - Shadow's Edge - Shadowmourne's little brother.

    Bryntoll and Cryptmaker are not good choices for T9.5HC setup, because they lack Critical Strike Rating.

    9. (like Tier 9)

    This is the end of the guide.
    No questions remain unanswered, no doubts linger.

    Why T9.5HC?

    It's because of the 4 part bonus. It's easy to figure it out, once you see it. It comes out that this bonus is strong enough to match T10.5HC.

    Tier 10.5HC can have advantage over 9.5HC only in a single-target encounter. Still not a large one! In a long fight, you can even the scales.
    Bringing a second target into the fight will be instant win for T9.5HC.
    Keep in mind that in "LK 25 HC" and "Halion 25HC" encounters, you face multiple targets. Most of the ICC fights also include more than one target. These are all fights, where T9.5HC will prevail.
    My final advice is to have both gears in your backpack and make your choice.

    10. Proof, testing

    Testing conditions:
    - Both gears are tested on DUMMY (note that this ignores Armor Penetration).
    - Tests are made only on single target.
    - The length of each test is 211 seconds. (= 10sec. + Gargoyle's cooldown + 1 cycle of Diseases).
    - The only allowed buffs are: Bone Shield, Blood Presence and Horn of Winter.
    - Best in slot items are used for both builds. You will see those setups below.

    I wanted to make it fair, so I went for single target, where T10.5 will prevail, and because the BiS gear for T10.5 has 20% more Armor Penetration than T9.5 and Armor Penetration is ignored on dummies, as you might know.
    I already stated that bringing only one more target to the fight will be a win for T9.5, so I think the conditions are perfectly fair.

    T10.5HC Setup:
    4xT10.5HC parts (including Head, Chest, Gloves and Shoulders) + Scourge Reaver's Legplates.
    - Neck: Penumbra Pendant
    - Back: Winding Sheet
    - Bracers: Polar Bear Claw Bracers
    - Belt: Coldwraith Links
    - Boots: Apocalypse's Advance
    - Ring 1: Might Of Blight
    - Ring 2: *Ring of Rotting Sinew - I didn't have Ashen Band of Endless Might available in the test realm, so that was the best replacement with hit rating.
    - Trinket 1: Sharpened Twilight Scale
    - Trinket 2: Deathbringer's Will
    * one more test was done with Death's Choice for more accuracy (because DBW procced different for 211 seconds).

    T9.5HC Setup:
    4xT9.5HC parts (including Head, Chest, Gloves and Shoulders) + Scourge Reaver's Legplates.
    - Neck: Penumbra Pendant
    - Back: Winding Sheet
    - Bracers: Taiga Bindings
    - Belt: Coldwraith Links
    - Boots: Apocalypse's Advance
    - Ring 1: Might Of Blight
    - Ring 2: *Ring of Rotting Sinew - I didn't have Ashen Band of Endless Might available in the test realm, so that was the best replacement with hit rating.
    - Trinket 1: Sharpened Twilight Scale
    - Trinket 2: Deathbringer's Will
    * one more test was done with Death's Choice for more accuracy (because DBW procced different for 211 seconds).
    * third test was done with Whispering Fanged Skull in order to show how T9.5HC benefits from Critical Strike Rating.

    TEST 1:
    T9.5HC vs T10.5HC (single target, 211 sec, DBW (double Strength proc)).
    Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MsgNZKXgl6U&

    As you can see, here T10.5HC fully benefits from the Strength procs and wins the fight with more than 40k damage done.

    TEST 2:
    T9.5HC vs T10.5HC (single target, 211 sec, Death's Choice).
    Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KEI8FzUhLtk

    We have a draw here. As you can see, the Strength loss is not that fatal for T9.5HC, while T10.5HC's damage done drops quite more.

    Pie charts:

    This is the damage for T10.5HC with DBW. Notice melee is always first, Scourge Strike following.

    This is the damage for T9.5HC with DC. Critical Strike Here is lower so you can see the damage done by Wandering Plague and how many times it occured.

    This is T9.5HC with WFS. Critical Strike Rating here is higher.

    As you can see damage on single target is really close and these are more like synthetic tests.
    The next tests are going tol be from real encounters probably with more than one target, and NOT in BiS gear.

  2. Main dmg source at any single target encounter - Melee autoattacks

    Strength > Hit > Expertise > Haste - totally wrong (right is Hit>Str>Haste>exp)

  3. dk single target dmg done

    scourge strike>autoattack>death coil

    aoe fight

    Wandering Plague>frost fever(if you have glyph)>blood plague>scourge strike>autoattack
    p.s. when ever is bigger group then 6 creeps use D&D on every cd better dmg done, and using blood strike only to get 5%dmg in rest of 20 sec time use blood boil and pestilence(on time)

    i am going more for 8.6%hit>22exp>strenght>66%arp from end gear

    can even be first on lk encounter vs soc pala

  4. dk single target dmg done

    scourge strike>autoattack>death coil
    Auto-attack will always be first on single, and up to ~3-4 targets.

    3. Stats

    Strength > Hit > Expertise > Haste = Critical Strike Rating > Armor Penetration
    At 251+ gear armor penetration will be ahead of critical.

  5. Thanks for the quick feedback. I have a lot to edit still.
    After it's finished I'll have explained everything, because I did lots of tests and I have videos and screenshots.

  6. I very much doubt that going full t9 instead of t10 will provide more dps, same as I doubt that you have actually compared t10 hc sanc with t9.5 hc and the rest of the bis gear. T9 bonuses are indeed very strong compared to t10 ones, but the stats on the icc set more than make up for that.

    Very interested in seeing the screenshots and videos backing up your claim however.

  7. Spoiler: Show
    Virulence increases Hit Rating - it's a must.

    Spell hit. Remember to type that out cause trust me, peeps dunno that.

  8. No glyph of the ghoul? Coming out with double blood strike is pointless considering youre missing the extra strength from sigil of hanged man. The hit cap is 9%.

  9. No Glyph of the Ghoul. Tested. It's useless. At least for T9.5HC build. It might be valuable in single target with T10.5HC (where you have more Strength).
    For opening it's better to do 2x Blood Strikes in order to be sure you have all procs up. 73 bonus Strength would not be a big deal if let's say your Death's Choice hasn't procced yet, right?
    8% Hit Rating or 263 is the cap.

  10. I don't get it, what about shadow damage part of scourge strike?[makes it kinda first on dmg list]
    And if you use reaping ss would be even higher because you can squeeze one more out each 20ish secs or so.
    plus if reaping[to not mess up scourge strikes and still do more of them than w/o reaping] you can take ghouls enrage and do around 3% more of your total dps for low cost of 1 point.
    However it was long time ago testes, things have changed and this needs to be re-checkd.
    Maybe false alarm.

  11. Nice guide!
    Its interesting to read that t9 can compete with t10.

    Just wondering if UH is really the best when it comes to aoe dmg.
    From my experience ret pala pulls the highest aoe dmg on up to 4 mobs (due to known SoC bugs) and fire mage pulls by far the highest aoe dmg on large grp of mobs by spamming flamestrike.

  12. Reaping is an interresting option. I have to test this.
    In reality I don't use it because I'd drop my diseases too often. But it might be useful.

    About AoE - I had good footage but deleted it. Of course I can make new one pretty soon.
    Mages are the main competition (6+ mobs). While Paladins have high DPS on less targets. I'm not sure how well you can cope with the Paladins on 3-4 mobs, but I'm sure T9.5HC will have better performance than T10.5HC for this test.
    There is still more proof to come. I'll be updating the thread.

  13. Nice guide!
    Its interesting to read that t9 can compete with t10.

    Just wondering if UH is really the best when it comes to aoe dmg.
    From my experience ret pala pulls the highest aoe dmg on up to 4 mobs (due to known SoC bugs) and fire mage pulls by far the highest aoe dmg on large grp of mobs by spamming flamestrike.
    I spiked @ 115k on trash before VDW, idk if that's top[because we were few ppl and had time to nuke that ****]
    I think cat in bear form is next best thing with this swipe or whatever spell hits all targets
    And of coarse pala is top "useful aoe" because there is very rarely more than like 10 trash-mobs, but UH has most potential because wandering plague. Each disease tick on each target has chance equivalent to crit chance to do AoE splash, damage scales better than any other class with each additional target.

    Warning this is not precise, just approximate example, mages line would start only after "usefull" cube

    + for epic paint skills

  14. July 4, 2015  
    Stat priority is wrong. Glyphs are wrong. Build is wrong too.

    Morbidity is a DPS loss for single-target, compared to other talents. Stat priority is (Hit)>(Exp)>Str>Haste>ArP>Crit. Glyph of Disease is a DPS loss for single-target.

  15. July 5, 2015  
    I can add that Ghoul enrage is one of best damage increase for 1 point even with bugged ghoul.
    I consider Reaper a "must have" talent.

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