Death Knight talents in Mists of Pandaria – Unholy, Frost and Blood – new WoW 5.0 talent system

It’s all change time! Mists of Pandaria’s new talent system introduces a total change in the way WoW talents work. With the 5.0 talent system, Death Knights of any spec – Frost, Unholy or Blood – will all get to choose one talent every 15 levels.

Here’s the complete list of all the DK talents, as announced at Blizzcon, and subsequently updated on the Blizzard site.

Updated 12th Dec 2011 to latest alpha talents!

Note: If you’d like to copy any part of this to use in a blog article, please feel free – just please link back to here as the source.

Tier 1/ Level 15 talents: Roiling Blood, Corpse Explosion, Outbreak

Roiling Blood

Your Blood Boil ability now also triggers Pestilence if it strikes a diseased target.

Corpse Explosion

30 Runic Power

Instant cast

Detonate the nearest Disease-Ridden corpse to deal 2493 Shadow damage to enemies within 15 yards, afflicting them with Blood Plague and Frost Fever. An enemy that dies while afflicted by one or more of your diseases will receive the Disease-Ridden effect.


30 yd range

1 min cooldown
Instant cast

Instantly applies Blood Plague and Frost Fever to the target enemy.

Tier 2/ Level 30 talents: Lichborne, Anti-Magic Zone, Bone Shield


2 min cooldown
Instant cast

Draw upon unholy energy to become undead for 10 sec. While undead, you are immune to Charm, Fear and Sleep effects.

Anti-Magic Zone

2 min cooldown
Instant cast

Places a large, stationary Anti-Magic Zone that reduces spell damage done to party or raid members inside it by 75%. The Anti-Magic Zone lasts for 10 sec or until it absorbs 10114 spell damage.

Bone Shield

1 min cooldown
Instant cast

Surrounds you with a barrier of whirling bones. The shield begins with 6 charges, and each damaging attack consumes a charge. While at least 1 charge remains, you take 20% less damage from all sources. Lasts 5 min.

Tier 3/ Level 45 talents: Death’s Advance, Chilblains, Asphyxiate

Death’s Advance

While your Unholy Runes are both depleted, movement-impairing effects may not reduce you below 75% of normal movement speed.


Victims of your Frost Fever disease are Chilled, reducing movement speed by 50% for 10 sec, and your Chains of Ice immobilizes targets for 3 sec.


30 yd range
1 Blood

1 min cooldown
Instant cast

Lifts an enemy target off the ground and crushes their throat with dark energy, stunning them for 5 sec. Functions as a silence if the target is immune to stuns.

    Replaces Strangulate.

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Tier 4/ Level 60 talents: Death Pact, Death Siphon, Vampiric Blood

Death Pact

40 Runic Power

2 min cooldown
Instant cast

Drain energy from an undead minion, healing the Death Knight for 25% of her maximum health.

Death Siphon

40 yd range

Instant cast

Consumes a Death Rune to deal 3116 Shadow damage to an enemy, healing the Death Knight for 75% of damage dealt.

Vampiric Blood

1 min cooldown

Temporarily grants the Death Knight 15% of maximum health and increases the amount of health received from healing spells and effects by 25% for 10 sec. After the effect expires, the health is lost.

Tier 5/ Level 75 talents: Blood Tap, Runic Empowerment, Runic Corruption

Blood Tap

Instant cast

Each damaging Death Coil, Frost Strike, or Rune Strike generates a Blood Charge, up to a maximum of 6 charges. Blood Tap consumes 3 Blood Charges to activate a random fully-depleted rune as a Death Rune.

Runic Empowerment

When you land a damaging Death Coil, Frost Strike, or Rune Strike, you have a 45% chance to activate a random fully depleted rune.

Runic Corruption

When you land a damaging Death Coil, Frost Strike, or Rune Strike, your rune regeneration rate is increased by 100% for 3 sec.

Tier 6/ Level 90 talents: Gorefiend’s Grasp, Remorseless Winter, Desecrated Ground

Gorefiend’s Grasp

1 min cooldown
Instant cast

Shadowy tendrils coil around all enemies within 20 yards of a target (hostile or friendly), dealing 2543 Shadow damage and pulling them to the target’s location.

Remorseless Winter

1 min cooldown
Instant cast

Surrounds the Death Knight with a swirling tempest of frigid air, dealing 3777 Frost damage to enemies within 10 yards, every 1 sec for 8 sec. Each time Remorseless Winter deals damage, it reduces enemy movement speed by 15%, stacking up to 5 times. Upon receiving a fifth application, an enemy will be stunned for 6 seconds.

Desecrated Ground

2 min cooldown
Instant cast

Corrupts the ground in a 8 yard radius beneath the Death Knight, dealing 1246 Shadow damage every 1 sec for 10 sec. While standing in this corruption, the Death Knight is immune to crowd control effects.

Want talents for other classes? Text of all 5.0 talent trees

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Patch 4.3 Unholy Death Knight (DK) Quick-Start Guide: stats, spec and talents, glyphs, gems, reforging, and rotation

Ah, Unholy. After a brief and unpleasant interval at the bottom of the tree in 4.1, it’s going from strength to strength as it heads into Patch 4.3, and the Fight with Deathwing’s Appendages. So, get your stats, specs, glyphs, gems, reforging priorities, rotation and all that other stuff sorted out right here, and let’s get on to the slaying.

Updated Nov 29th 2011 for Patch 4.3

Unholy Death Knight changes in Patch 4.3

Unholy only has a few changes, but they’re good ones. Unholy Might now offers 25% additional Strength, up from 20%. In addition, all DK pets now properly inherit Crit and Spell Penetration stats from their master, and Unholy’s gargoyle will now always use its ranged attack, which will make it more effective. Finally, we’re the beneficiaries of the global 4.3 melee DPS buff, giving us an extra 10% attack power.

Unholy set bonuses in T13 are strong, but don’t significantly change gearing or rotation once achieved.

Rotation / Priorities

Unholy DKs, like most DPS classes in Cataclysm, do not have a “rotation” as such. Instead, they work on a priority system – use the most important abilities whenever possible before less important ones.


Top Priority: Diseases and Dark Transformation. Apply or reapply diseases as first priority, preferably using Outbreak, and use Dark Transformation whenever it’s available.

Second 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.

Third Priority: Death Coil IF Sudden Doom is up or Festering Strike. Only use Festering Strike here if it will extend your diseases.

Fourth Priority: Death and Decay or Scourge Strike. This is your bread-and-butter.


For standard dungeon packs, you still want to use the single-target rotation above. Only use the AOE rotation here for LARGE packs of mobs. Switch to Frost Presence when using this.

Follow the same priorities as for Single Target – however, ignore Festering Strike, and use Pestilence to spread your diseases.

Other abilities

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.


Best Unholy DPS Spec

The unholy forces of Elitist Jerks and #Acherus on IRC align to agree that this build (Patch 4.3) is the best option.

At Tier 3, you’ll have to spend a point in one of two places – either Unholy Command or Desecration. Unless you have a specific need for mob slowing abilities, take Unholy Command.

There are also 3 points left at the end of the talent build that you can spend in a variety of places. Good options include:

  • Improved Blood Tap (Second Tier, Blood) – can be used to increase your DPS with more runes. Not always useful, but a handy option.
  • Runic Power Mastery (First Tier, Frost) – increases your maximum Runic Power. Useful, but less so than you might expect because you’ll usually be below 100. One point highly recommended.
  • Magic Suppression and/or Anti-Magic Zone (4th and 5th Tier, Unholy) – very useful survival talents with some DPS application. Anti-Magic Zone is very situational, Magic Suppression generally useful.

Stats, Reforging and Gems

Strength is by far your most important stat, followed by Hit to the Hit Cap (961 for anyone except Draenai, for whom it’s 841), then Haste, Crit, Mastery, Expertise to the Expertise cap of 26

Gems: Always choose a Bold Inferno Ruby unless a socket provides 20 or more Strength or 40 or more of another important stat. In the latter case, use either Fierce Ember Topaz or Etched Demonseye as appropriate.

Reforging: Reforge to Hit up to the hit cap. Then, reforge to Haste, or Crit if that’s not possible. Never reforge Haste to anything else, including Hit.

Buffs: Stay in Unholy Presence and use Rune of the Fallen Crusader. Keep Horn of Winter up whenever possible.

Enchants for Unholy

Remember to check if your profession offers better enhancement options for a slot!

Head Arcanum of the Wildhammer (Alliance) or Dragonmaw (Horde)
Shoulders   Greater Inscription of Jagged Stone
Back Enchant Cloak – Greater Critical Strike
Chest Enchant Chest – Peerless Stats
Wrist Enchant Bracer – Major Strength
Hands Enchant Gloves – Mighty Strength
Belt Ebonsteel Belt Buckle
Legs Dragonscale Leg Armor
Feet Enchant Boots – Haste or Precision if you’re not hit-capped
Weapon Rune of the Fallen Crusader

Glyphs for Unholy

Prime: Glyph of Death Coil, Glyph of Scourge Strike, Glyph of Raise Dead unless you want to focus on AOE damage, in which case replace the first two with Glyph of Icy Touch and Glyph of Death and Decay.

Major: Glyph of Anti-Magic Shell, Glyph of Blood Boil, Glyph of Pestilence.

Minor: Glyph of Blood Tap, Glyph of Death’s Embrace, Glyph of Path of Frost – all of these are actually useful!

  • Elitist Jerks – Unholy Guide – Unusually well-written and easy to follow for EJ, this is a superb guide. If you want more detail than this article has given you, go here. Updated for Patch 4.3 already!
  • Son Of A Lich – from the people who also write the EJ Death Knight guides, a superb site for all DKs.
  • #Archerus IRC channel on – GREAT DK community.

You also might find the rest of MMO Melting Pot interesting – we scour the blogosphere daily looking for the most interesting discussions and posts about WoW and other MMOs and deliver them straight to you, all in one place, right here. See what’s on the Pot today!

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Don’t forget to kill Philip!

If you play an Unholy Death Knight, I’ve got some bad news for you. You might want to sit down. There’s no easy way to break this to you, so I’m just going to come out and say it. Consider is gone. I know, I know. It’s going to be hard, but we’ll have to struggle on together.

Consider has maintained the awesome Unholy DK thread over on Elitist Jerks for quite some time now, and it’s brilliant. Have you ever randomly been grouped with a DK only to realize with shock that they weren’t an idiot and actually knew how to play their class? It’s rare (for Death Knight players, anyway) but it does happen, and the reason is usually because they’ve read Consider’s thread.

Sadly, Consider is finally hanging up his ghoul and calling it a day. Luckily for us poor Death Knights, the thread already has a new maintainer. Matron Heartless has taken over, and she’s in no danger of letting the quality drop. The new thread, Just Act Natural (which scores bonus points for an excellent Shawn Of The Dead reference) is excellent. It’s based on the guide published at Heartless’s own blog, Son Of A Lich (again, bonus pun points must be awarded), which is in itself a great read for Death Knight players.

So, if you play a Death Knight and haven’t yet memorized every damn word of these guides, get reading. Maybe one day we can lose our moniker of Class Most Likely To Attract Morons!

The EJ thread for Frost Death Knights (which was also maintained by Consider) is still in need of an new author, by the way, so if you’re up for the job (and you’re not scared of the notoriously friendly and welcoming Elitist Jerks), throw your name in the ring.

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