4.0.6 Unholy Death Knights: How To Guide
4.0.6 has seen Death Knights change yet again. So in 4.0.3 Unholy DKs saw themselves torn between dual wield and 2h viability. In 4.0.6 that all changes. Some changes to our mastery are also being factored in so with all these changes, what is a Death Knight to do? Well so many folks have contacted me saying they enjoyed my 4.0.1 DK posting, that I decided to write up one focusing on Unholy DKs first since they have been modified to hell and back (yes that was meant to be a pun).
Spec & Glyphs
Some of the biggest changes to Death Knights are the reduction in damage of our pets and our Death Coil. Our mastery was renamed Dreadblade and now increases shadow damage per point of mastery. This actually makes mastery a viable stat for Unholy Death Knights now. Dual Wielding is effectively dead now that Sudden Doom only procs off main hand attacks.
So what does all this mean for our spec? Well you want to start with the base 5/0/32. This is with 4 free talent points at level 85. These 4 points realistically can be put just about anywhere without truly impacting your DPS. But where should you put these points? Well you have some front runners. You can put 2 points into Magic Suppression, this provides only slightly more runic power generation, but does provide a lot more survivability. With many magic AoE fights in the current tier of raiding this isn’t a bad idea to use 2 of your 4 points here.
Another option is in the Frost tree, to put points into Runic Power Mastery, its not a bad option to bank extra runic power, but in my opinion its not entirely necessary as you shouldn’t stay maxed at 100 RP for very long anyway. However 1 point here could be beneficial to help you avoid being capped too often and give you more room in your rotation for some more flexibility.
In the Blood tree, another option is Improved Blood Tap, this while it looks good on paper as a DPS improvement, it can be hard to work into your rotations. So while you can throw 2 points into this if you feel confident in being able to work it into your rotation but you may only want to put in 1 point, you know dip your toe in the water to see how it is before you fully commit. If you are sold on this, I urge you to put in 1 point, but then make it a point to work it into your rotation. If you do and do it well, you can reconsider adding in another point.
Your glyphs haven’t changed much from 4.0.3
Your Minor glyphs do not matter much, now if you did go with Improved Blood Tap I recommend you using the Glyph of Blood Tap. Two other minor glyphs I recommend are Glyph of Path of Frost and Glyph of Horn of Winter. There aren’t many minor glyphs to choose from and these are just two that I use, but any you want are fine as they won’t noticeably impact your DPS.
Here is the Spec + Glyphs I would recommend for the level 85 Unholy DK: 6/1/34
The rotation for DKs still hasn’t changed since 4.0.1
Single Target Priority Rotation:
*This is done in Unholy Presence
- Get your Diseases up, and keep them up
- Activate Dark Transformation
- Scourge Strike if both Unholy and/or Death Runes are up
- Festering Strike if both pairs of Blood and Frost runes are up
- Death Coil on Sudden Doom proc or at 100 runic power
- Scourge Strike > Festering Strike > Death Coil > Horn of Winter
AoE Priority Rotation (3 or more mobs):
*This is done in Frost Presence
- Get your Diseases up and spread them with Pestilence
- Activate Dark Transformation
- Death and Decay
- Scourge Strike if both Unholy and/or Death Runes are up
- Blood Boil + Icy Touch if both pairs of Blood and Frost are up
- Death Coil on Sudden Doom proc
- Scourge Strike >Blood Boil + Icy Touch > Death Coil > Horn of Winter
With 4.0.6 stat priority has changed slightly
- Hit to Cap
- Expertise to Cap
- Critical Strike
Reforging is simply taking an item thats lower on the priority list and upgrading to a stat that is higher on the priority. It is recomended you reforge for Hit if you are below the hit cap. Do not gem for hit if you can help it, and that leads me into…
The below are the gems you should be using. However you should gem Bold Inferno Ruby in all gem slots unless the socket bonus is +20 strength or more. Of course if you are a jewelcrafter, you will want to use the +strength epic JC gem that only JC can use.
Red: Bold Inferno Ruby
Yellow: Fierce Ember Topaz
Blue: Etched Demonseye
For assistance with gemming and reforging you can look to Ask Mr Robot, its a pretty solid tool to help you in some of your choices.
These are the best enchants per slot, if these are too expensive find something comparable
- Head – 60 Strength / 30 Mastery – Wildhammer/Dragonmaw reputation
- Cloak – 65 Critical Strike Rating
- Shoulder – 50 Strength / 25 Critical Strike Rating – Therazane reputation. In you are a scribe use the scribe shoulder enchant.
- Chest – +20 Stats
- Bracers – +50 Strength
- Gloves – +50 strength
- Feet – +50 Haste
- Legs – +190 Attack Power +55 Critical Strike Rating – Dragonscale Leg Armor
- Belt – +1 Socket- Ebonsteel Belt Buckle
- Weapon – Runeforged with Rune of the Fallen Crusader
Managing Your Cooldowns
You have 6 main cooldowns
The ability to activate all your runes can be very powerful in the right circumstances. Where I like to use this is once I hit 2 Festering Strikes, thus turning both sets of my blood and frost runes into death runes, and both my unholy runes are down. This lets me cast 6 Scourge Strikes in quick succession. When would you do such a thing, well you need to time this up with a Heroism or Bloodlust AND after you blow through your runic power on Gargoyle and Death Coils to activate Dark Transformation (if available).
2. Blood Tap
The best time to use this, is in situations where you find yourself suddenly with an extra blood rune available, usually this will happen if you are in the middle of using Death and Decay or if your Festering Strike misses (which it shouldn’t) or you need to reapply diseases and your Outbreak is still on cooldown. But as I mentioned earlier try to work this into your rotations where you can without sacrificing the priority order too much, could also be a good opportunity to use this right before a Heroism to have one more Scourge Strike to bump up runic power in order to prepare to summon Gargoyle
Outbreak instantly applies all your diseases to a mob. This is so great, I can’t begin to tell you, especially on fights where you are constantly switching your targets, like Omnotron Defense System. This should be used early in the fight, and whenever you need to reapply diseases if Festering Strike isn’t cutting it. In some cases I have seen where Festering Strike while it hits, just based on timing the time on the diseases is just running out and may be better to just refresh them.
This is a channeled spell so its best used before a boss fight starts. If you aren’t able to cast it before the fight starts you want to try and cast it during phase transitions to limit your DPS downtime. Remember while channeling the spell you do no DPS. Also fear not the ghouls will only taunt adds and not bosses. The summoned ghouls will utilize your Attack Power, Haste and Hit at the time they are channeled, so if you have any buffs on you when summoned they will benefit from those (i.e. Heroism).
This spell will eat up 60 of your runic power and will take a snapshot of your Attack Power and Haste at the moment it was cast. So its best to time this up with a heroism or bloodlust. Know when that will happen because you will want to make sure you have the 60 runic power to cast this.
This is an enrage that grants 20% melee haste for 30 seconds. Awesome stuff especially when items like Gargoyle and Army of the Dead both work off of our Haste. Something to keep in mind. However because this is an enrage type spell, its actually best used on a Fury Warrior. If there isn’t one in your group then you might as well as cast this on yourself.
Some macros that I use greatly increase my effective DPS by helping to keep things timed and together.
1. Unholy Frenzy + Gargoyle
Replace “Warrior” with the name of your raid’s fury warrior to auto cast unholy frenzy on him/her when you hold down shift, if you do not have a fury warrior, the macro will cast this on you, then summon your Gargoyle. This ties your Gargoyle to your unholy frenzy so it benefits from the extra haste if you cast it on yourself.
#showtooltip Unholy Frenzy
/cast [modifier:shift,target=Warrior] Unholy Frenzy
/cast [nomodifier] Unholy Frenzy
/cast [nomodifier] Summon Gargoyle
2. Scourge Strike + Ghoul Claw
Because having claw on auto attack still doesn’t optimize the use of this ability for your Ghoul, macro’ing it to your Scourge Strike will improve its use and increase your pet’s DPS
#showtooltip Scourge Strike
/cast [target=pettarget,harm,nodead] Claw
/cast Scourge Strike
IceHud will show you your health, runic power, your target’s health along with your buffs and debuffs. It will also show your runes and the cooldowns of them.
NeedtoKnow is a buff and debuff timing mod. I use it to track Blood Plague, Frost Fever and Ebon Plague on my target, and keep these bars front and center. You can also use it to track your periodic buffs like Horn of Winter and Unholy Frenzy, to help with timing of gargoyle and army of the dead.
OmniCC is just a great little utility mod that works well with most addons to include a countdown timer on the spells and effects that are on cooldown. It works great with IceHud and Bartender (both of which I use).