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Reply To: Comprehensive Unholy DK Guide2017-04-15T06:40:16+00:00
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Good morning fellow Deathknights!
Updated March 2nd,2017 8am Pst
Note: as I have more free time I will be adding more information and improving the guide so please check back every now and again to see how the guide/build has changed there is so much information to be put here and that will take a bit of time, Thank you
As of recently I have been seeing an increase in the amount of Unholy DK’s on US servers and just wanted to put some good information out for those who might be considering switching from frost. I will say that overall it will do less damage than frost in single target situations but as far as utility and constant AOE pressure I believe Unholy DK has a lot to bring to the table.

first lets talk stats and the two most effective ways to build your Unholy DK

I Mastery Build Str>Mastery(60-70%+)>Crit(to 21-25%)>Haste (to 18%)>Vers
For Single Target in most situations
For AoE in most situations

This build will focus on taking clawing shadows as your bread an butter DPS
and determines your secondary main stat as Mastery. For all of those uncertain STR will still be our priority as Str give Attack Power which increases damage from all abilities
Now lets go over our talents and why we choose them
Tier 1
Ebon Fever/Bursting Sores
Ebon Fever :
this ability received a huge damage increase in 7.1.5 and even in single target or bosses with heavy cleave deserves heavy consideration(when and if you get the 4 set NH tier set this will be your go to talent as the talent change in tier 6 will benefit more from this and will do overall more damage). Overall it causes your Viruelent plague to deal more damage. as its damage is increased and it deals it faster. Thus you will be maintaining this on the boss and any mobs that spawn 100%. When combined with heavy mastery this DoT will likely do 30-50% percent of your overall damage(depending on how much mastery you have stacked) Generally in single target I would only take this if you have 75% or Higher mastery as anything lower is a dps loss from the tests and data I have seen. As far as Aoe Pressure it is the most consistent because it does not require your targets to have wounds on them to burst to do a ton of damage. Nor be anywhere near your target.
Bursting Sores :
Overall this is going to be your go to talent for good single target and Aoe Dmg. When Paired with your Tier 6 Talent Infected Claws you will almost always have a Festering Wound on your main target and during Transformation on several targets at once. This talent prefers lower mastery and higher Crit and Haste. Thus if your only at 60% Mastery or lower this is going to do the most damage for you in most situations.
Tier 2
Pestilant Pustules/Blighted Rune Weapon
Pestilant Pustules
Over all for single target and most heavy cleave fights this is your go to talent as rune starving youself is a huge dps loss. Even if you find yourself at points capped with runes while burning Runic Power it is still the best choice for all situations in raids. Overall it is a resource returning talent based on your top two damage rotation abilities and should always be taken in raid siruations
Blighted Rune Weapon
This talent is only preferred in lower level Mythic plus dungeons when there are lots off adds that you cannot maintain a decent amount of festering wounds on your targets Must be paired with Bursting Sores Talent from Tier 1. However it is worth a mention, mainly what you need to consider is how fast mobs will die and try to crank out the most AoE burst Dmg as possible. Your Ghoul can only transform on avg once every minute so keep in mind that if your pulling a mob of 3+ targets less than once a minute this will be a Dps increase
Tier 3
Clawing Shadows
Clawing Shadows:
Overall running this particular Mastery build this is your only choice for this tier. Changing your scourge strike ability to do Shadow damage makes this build not only viable but incredibly strong. Considering this abilities damage will scale both with Strength and mastery increasing its damage done by a sever amount
Tier 4
Sludge Belcher/Asphyxiate
Sludge Belcher
In almost all situations this will be your got to talent as it adds some well needed improvements to your ghoul. For one it has an additional Deathgrip built into the pet. For two during its transformation its AoE cleave ability hits all target around it rather than just in front as our base ghoul does. This also increases the amount of festering wounds go out on a mob during its transformation. Which in turns is a Dps increase.
This talent is Nice depending on the situation but is in no way useless. Adding a stun to our toolkit can be very useful in higher level Mythic + Dungeons and sometimes in raid depending on your raids needs. Overall this is not a DPS increase and should only be taken when it is Needed.
Tier 5 These are situational and depending on the player
Tier 6
Necrosis/Infected Claws
This talent only gets its full value with the 4 set bonus from NH but if you really enjoy the play style of alternating between Death coil and Clawing Shadows be my guest. I will say overall once you have the 4 set from NH this will so more damage on single target fights as maintaining more stacks of Festering wound is much easier on one target. However even with 4 set this talent falls short as soon as there are 3 mobs present during part of the encounter.
Infected Claws
This talent overall will be your best choice for single and multiple target in raids and Mythic + Dungeons.Especially when paired with bursting Sores this is huge AoE Dps increase as you’ll be able to explode multiple stacks of Festering wound and can just maintain happy clawing shadows spam. Note: using Death and Decay and Dark Transformation paired with this Talent will maximize your AoE and Cleave Dmg potential
[Tier 7
Soul Reaper/Dark Arbiter
Soul Reaper
In almost all situations this is going to be your go to Talent choice for both Raids and dungeons. As a haste increase is always beneficial as it increases you and your pets attack speed and your rune generation. Allowing you to get of more abilities within a single damage window thus being a Dps increase. It is easy to maintain on a target and is paired well when using your Artifact Ability Apocalypse to burst multiple wounds at once.
Dark Arbiter
I still think this talent is good especially considering the most recent damage increase however I think it is very situational. I will increase your burst initially so it is not preferred for raid encounters of any type. However I will say it does have its merit within Mythic + Dungeons. Whether its Tyrannical Affix week and those bosses need to go down within 2 minutes or you are doing lower level Mythic Plus Dungeons and are just looking for some better single target pressure on a two minute cooldown. Overall not the best choice but it has uses.

Okay so… you probably scrolled past 70% of that and you want know how to pull high Dps with Unholy Right?
It really boils down to these key factors
High Mastery: The Higher your mastery the higher your dps, it is nearly on par with strength and you should prioritize any piece that gives both strength and mastery highly especially trinkets.
Maintaining Festering wounds on your target: never let your main target drop below 1 festering wounds as they last a long while and you dont want to be in a situation when your need to pop wounds and you have to expend runes and Gcd’s to put them back on the only exception to this rule is when Scourge of the Worlds procs in that cast do burst all wounds on the target. Weave it in and keep track of them! Why? because you never want to be in a situation where scourge of the worlds procs and you dont have any or enough wounds on a target to take advantage of via clawing shadows. Its better to be able to spam clawing shadows to increase your damage output during this dps window
Always use Single Target Dps Cooldowns on Cooldown I cant stress enough that you need to be summoning your gargoyle and using Apocalypse on cooldown make sure you are watching your cd’s especially with Apocalypse make sure you have 6 festring wounds on your target before bursting them.
Hold Runic Power for RP dump and dont Waste Doom Procs
note:This changes if you are running the necrosis talent
Number 1 rule never let Runic power go to waste or possible Runic corruption procs to never happen. Always build up to max RP then fire off 3 Deathcoils. As far as Doom procs go Weave them into your rotation so that you aren’t hitting them to be able to spend your runic power that is a dps loss. As you could complete your runic power dump and start spending more runes to generate a full bar again. The reasoning behind this is due to the overall dps value bursting your wounds on the target has. As well as when scourge of the worlds will prob you dont want to have a lot of runes down and not be able to take full advantage of this proc.
However, if you are using the Necrosis talent then you will always want to be alternating between death coil and festering strike. the only time this loses value is when scourge of the worlds procs at which points you should be dumping your runes into clawing shadows whenever you proc this debuff on a target.
Know the best time to use Dark Transformation
Generally you will want to pop this at the start of encounter to maximize its uptime and generally this is a good rule to follow. However dont forget that the synergy between infected claws and your empowered Abomination’s Vile gas ability. As it will apply multiple festering wounds to multiple targets . this combined with Death and decay allows you to burst multiple Festering wounds on multiple targets with a single Clawing Shadows which is a huge AoE Dps increase.
Scourge of the world is top priority
Unless you have 0 festering wounds on your target when scourge of the world procs all you should be doing is bursting wounds during this burst window. This being said do not use a clawing shadows without a wound on the target as it is a dps loss rather one festering strike will apply enought wounds for 2-4 consecutive clawing shadows no problem
Rotation Priority que whatever you call it these days ;p
1.)No matter what you should always maintain 3 stacks on your main target as this is the best way to maintain high damage on your target. If youre stacks fall below 2 this use Festering stike to reapply immediately as you’ll want to maintain a good control of this debuff on the target to maximize Dps
2.)If you are running Necrosis talent you’re going to want to alternate between Deathcoil and Clawing Shadows as much as possible as it is a large damage increase. This being said when your pet procs the increased Clawing Shadows damage use this time to dump runes into runic power. Seeings how it does not last all too long and already increases damage of your clawing shadows it would be a dps loss to still alternate while this debuff is on your target. As stated above whenever you trigger the Scourge of the worlds debuff on your target your priority will be bursting wounds on your target as the damage increase is too good to be wasting a global using deathcoil during this time.
3.) For mob DPS depending on your talent choice should be either to first wait until the mobs are grouped,cast dark transformation,cast outbreak.cast 1 Festering Strike on the main target then spam clawing shadows. Note if you took the Infected Claws talent and Bursting Sores you may not need to even cast festering strike pay attention to your debuffs on the target. Otherwise its the same.
4.) I don’t care what spec or talents you’re running always maintain 100% uptime in Virulent Plague via your Outbreak spell. No matter what it is still a DoT that only costs 1 rune and 1 GCD even if you are not taking the Ebon Fever Talent
Note: The Unholy rotation varies greatly based on talent choice. Running Necrosis means you will be alternating two abilities and to achieve higher damage avoid hitting either ability as much as possible to maximize your Dps. This being said there are times when you will have no choice but to double or triple cast. An example of this would be casting your Soul reaper ability. In order to get its full affect on cooldown you will need to either burst three wound with clawing shadows OR use an Apocalypse CD to burst 6 or more wounds.
Pre Pull
this will almost always be your pre pull and is one of the most asked questions I get i goes as folows
[i]Army of the undead at 7 secs to pull, Dps Pot,Engage target with outbreak,Summon Gargoyle,Dark Transformation,Festering Strike to 5 or 6 Festering wounds,Soul Reaper,Apocalypse,Deathcoil,Clawing shadows.[/i/
Then depending on your talent choice you will either build 5 Festering wounds and clear them with Clawing shadows or alternate between Clawing Shadows and Deathcoil.
As I know this is a sour subject for a large number of players I will say that unlike frost you do not need BiS legendaries to pull good Dps but as is obvious it does make a huger Difference. so In descending order here are your legendaries that I would suggest
The Instructor’s Fourth Lesson
This overall will increase your damage output as being able to burst multiple wounds in a single go allows you to use Festering strike more often and genrate more runic power
KIl’Jaeden’s Burning Wish
THis Trinket is like the Chrono Shard but immensely better as it not only gives you a ton of strength but an insanely strong burst AoE cooldown on of the best for Unholy by far
Uvanimore the Unbeautiful
Just good hands down it gives a tons of mastery and haste which is just amazing and puts more festering wounds on a targer and when paired with bracers is just insanse. Without the bracers it is not as strong but still very valuable
Draugr, Girlde of the Everlasting King
Amazing stats and an okay ability most would rank this higher but I have found it overall to do the least amount of good of the Legionaries I Have Listed

Alright folks aside from roation which I will be adding more at a later time due to servers about to come up hope this helps you out!. I myself was a MS BoS DK since the start of 7.1.5 and found the playstyle boring and all too button mashy, RiP Frost DK’s around the world!
here are my logs as an 892 unholy DK last week in Normal NH had to go MS as the raid leader needed my Higher damage for a few bosses as we were running some new people through