It’s exciting times ahead for both you, the Unholy Death Knight, and Timmy, your loyal ghoul. Unholy’s finally gotten the buff it’s been needing. But before you get into fighting for pandas, you’ll have to get used to all of Patch 5.3‘s system changes. We’re here to bring you up to speed on talents, glyphs, stats, reforging and gemming, MoP rotation, and more, without a wall of text – just what you need to know to get going.
Updated 22nd May 2013 to World of Warcraft Patch 5.3
Unholy Death Knight changes in WoW Patch 5.3
No PvE-relevant changes of any significance.
Unholy “Rotation” and Priorities
Unholy Death Knights have changed very little rotation-wise since Cataclysm.
- Top Priority: If the target is below 35% health and it’s available, use Soul Reaper.
- Second Priority: Diseases and Dark Transformation. Apply or reapply diseases as first priority, preferably using Outbreak or Unholy Blight, and using Plague Strike if not. Use Dark Transformation whenever it’s available.
- Third Priority: Death and Decay or Scourge Strike if Death Runes are available. Use DnD even on single-target fights. Use Scourge Strike if DnD is on cooldown.
- Fourth Priority: Death Coil IF Sudden Doom is up or Festering Strike. Only use Festering Strike here if it will extend your diseases.
- Fifth Priority: Death and Decay, Scourge Strike or Festering Strike. This is your bread-and-butter.
- Top Priority: Put diseases up on all targets, using Outbreak and Pestilence or Unholy Blight.
- Second Priority: Use Death and Decay if it’s available. Use Scourge Strike if that’s available.
- Third Priority: Use Blood Boil. Use Death Coil if you’re about to hit maximum Runic Power or if Sudden Doom is active.
For the love of Pete, remember that you can use Raise Ally to combat-res! Other abilities to bear in mind are Icebound Fortitude (to not die), Death Strike (to not die) and your various interrupts.
As far as your damage cooldowns go, Empower Rune Weapon, Gargoyle, and Unholy Frenzy should be used together, ideally. Army Of The Dead is best used on a pull or a phase transition – and be SURE that your ghouls won’t taunt anything important before using it. Seriously. Or you will be very unpopular.
Make sure you’re in Unholy Presence. Make sure to cast Horn of Winter before a pull. Make sure Timmy the Ghoul is active.
Unholy Death Knight Talent Choices
5.3 talent choices are meant to be situational, and are still very early in the theorycrafting stages – but here’s a good standard build to get started with.
- Tier 1: Unholy Blight – already assumed above.
- Tier 2: Anti-Magic Zone – great “barrier”-type spell.
- Tier 3: Death’s Advance
- Tier 4: Death Pact – gives you a strong self-heal.
- Tier 5: Runic Empowerment
- Tier 6: Desecrated Ground – gives you a CD against effects that control you.
Stats, reforging and gemming for Unholy Death Knights
Strength is our best stat, followed by Hit and Expertise to cap (7.5% or 2550 points), followed by Haste.
Reforging: Reforge for Hit and Expertise to cap first, then Haste. Reforge from excess Hit and Expertise, then Mastery, then Crit.
Gems: Go for Bold (Strength) gems in all sockets, except where they grant +20 Strength or more per socket. In that case, choose Etched (blue) or Fierce (yellow) gems.
Meta Gem: Reverberating meta gem.
Unholy DK Glyphs
Unholy DK glyphs are very situational, but here is one solid loadout to begin with:
Major: Glyph of Unholy Frenzy, Glyph of Death Coil, and Glyph of Anti-Magic Shell
Minor: Your choice!
Unholy Death Knight enchants and item enhancements
You should almost always use a profession enhancement item if it provides appropriate stats instead of a general enchant.
- Shoulder – Greater Tiger Fang Inscription
- Back – Enchant Cloak – Accuracy or Enchant Cloak – Superior Critical Strike
- Chest – Glorious Stats
- Bracers – Enchant Bracers – Exceptional Strength
- Gloves – Enchant Gloves – Super Strength
- Belt – Living Steel Belt Buckle
- Legs – Angerhide Leg Armor
- Feet – Enchant Boots – Greater Precision or Enchant Boots – Greater Haste
- Weapon – Rune of the Fallen Crusader
There’s only one good guide for Unholy 5.3 that I’ve found – but it’s very good:
- The legendary Matron Heartless has updated her Elitist Jerks guide for Patch 5.2 Unholy Death Knights. This has long been and continues to be one of the best guides for any spec. If you want more detail on playing an Unholy DK to their full potential, go here.
- Finally, as a WoW player, you should really check out the latest and greatest from the blogosphere on World of Warcraft, here at the Melting Pot.
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