Unholy Death Knight PvE Guide - Cataclysm Classic

These guides are based on simulation data, tools, and theorycrafting from original Cataclysm. We'll be sure to update them when modern sims are finished. Rotations are likely to get optimized via sims, but it should already give you a very strong starting point.

Introduction

    Unholy Death Knights are a 2-handed plate DPS class that bring an 8% Magic Damage debuff to raids with
    Ebon Plaguebringer
    . All Death Knights also bring a Strength and Agility buff with
    Horn of Winter
    and a Combat Resurrection with
    Raise Ally
    .

Cataclysm Classic Unholy Death Knight Rotation

    Unholy Death Knights gain Death Runes when using
    Festering Strike
    thanks to their
    Reaping
    passive. A high uptime on
    Dark Transformation
    will be crucial for optimal DPS. When your Ghoul is transformed, it won't gain stacks of
    Shadow Infusion
    , so having your Runic Power close to cap once
    Dark Transformation
    expires will critical for getting to 5 stacks quickly, and casting
    Dark Transformation
    again. As with any Death Knight specialization, proper Rune and Runic Power management and using
    Death Coil
    at the correct times to benefit from
    Runic Empowerment
    (altered to
    Runic Corruption
    ) will also be extremely important.

Single Target

  1. Use
    Rune of the Fallen Crusader
    .
  2. Be in
    Unholy Presence
    .
  3. Maintain
    Horn of Winter
    if assigned.
  4. Cast
    Army of the Dead
    . Best used before pull, or during non combat phases in encounters.
  5. Cast
    Blood Tap
    . Best used when
    Dark Transformation
    is not active to minimize downtime.
  6. Cast
    Unholy Frenzy
    . This does not stack with
    Bloodlust
    /
    Heroism
    .
  7. Cast
    Summon Gargoyle
    .
  8. Cast
    Empower Rune Weapon
    when all Runes are on cooldown and you won't cap on Runic Power.
  9. Apply
    Frost Fever
    and
    Blood Plague
    with
    Outbreak
    or
    Icy Touch
    and
    Plague Strike
    if it's on cooldown. Maintain them with
    Festering Strike
    .
  10. Cast
    Death Coil
    to get to 5 stacks of
    Shadow Infusion
    .
  11. Cast
    Dark Transformation
    when at 5 stacks of
    Shadow Infusion
    . Aim to have close to Runic Power cap when it ends so you can maximize uptime.
  12. Cast
    Death and Decay
    or
    Scourge Strike
    if it's on cooldown when both Unholy Runes or Death Runes are up.
  13. Cast
    Festering Strike
    when both Frost Runes and Blood Runes are up.
  14. Cast
    Death Coil
    when
    Sudden Doom
    procs or to avoid capping on Runic Power.
  15. Cast
    Death and Decay
    or
    Scourge Strike
    if it's on cooldown.
  16. Cast
    Festering Strike
    .
  17. Cast
    Horn of Winter
    .

AoE

    For large pulls

  1. Be in
    Frost Presence
    .
  2. Cast
    Outbreak
    to apply
    Blood Plague
    and
    Frost Fever
    or
    Icy Touch
    and
    Plague Strike
    if it's on cooldown.
  3. Cast
    Pestilence
    to spread them.
  4. Cast
    Dark Transformation
    when at 5 stacks of
    Shadow Infusion
    . Aim to have close to Runic Power cap when it ends so you can maximize uptime.
  5. Cast
    Death and Decay
    or
    Scourge Strike
    if it's on cooldown when both Unholy Runes or Death Runes are up.
  6. Cast
    Blood Boil
    .
  7. Cast
    Death Coil
    when
    Sudden Doom
    procs or to avoid capping on Runic Power.
  8. Cast
    Icy Touch
    .
  9. Otherwise

  10. Perform single target rotation, but use
    Pestilence
    to spread diseases.

Cataclysm Classic Unholy Death Knight Talents

Standard Build

If you want
Anti-Magic Zone
, take the 2 points out of
Improved Blood Tap
.
0
Blood
0
Frost
0
Unholy

Cataclysm Classic Unholy Death Knight Glyphs

  1. Prime:
    Raise DeadRaise Dead
    ,
    Scourge StrikeScourge Strike
    ,
    Death CoilDeath Coil
  2. Optional: For AoE, replace
    Scourge StrikeScourge Strike
    and
    Death CoilDeath Coil
    with
    Icy TouchIcy Touch
    and
    Death and DecayDeath and Decay
  3. Major:
    Blood BoilBlood Boil
    ,
    PestilencePestilence
    ,
    Anti-Magic ShellAnti-Magic Shell
  4. Minor:
    Blood TapBlood Tap
    ,
    Horn of WinterHorn of Winter
    ,
    Death's Embrace-cataDeath's Embrace

Cataclysm Classic Unholy Death Knight Best Consumables

Flasks and Elixirs

    Best:
  • Flask of Titanic Strength

Food

    Best:
  • Seafood Magnifique Feast
    ,
  • Beer-Basted Crocolisk
    ,
  • Fortune Cookie
    Alternatives:
  • Broiled Dragon Feast
    ,
  • Hearty Seafood Soup

Potions

    Best:
  • Golemblood Potion

Cataclysm Classic Unholy Death Knight Best Races

Alliance

  1. Worgen:
    Viciousness
    and
    Darkflight
  2. Human:
    Sword Specialization
    and
    Mace Specialization
  3. Gnome:
    Shortblade Specialization
  4. Dwarf:
    Mace Specialization
  5. Draenei:
    Heroic Presence

Horde

  1. Orc:
    Axe Specialization
    ,
    Blood Fury
    , and
    Command
  2. Troll:
    Berserking
  3. Goblin:
    Time is Money
    ,
    Rocket Barrage
    , and
    Rocket Jump
  4. Blood Elf:
    Arcane Torrent

Cataclysm Classic Unholy Death Knight Best Professions

  1. Engineering:
    Synapse Springs
    .
  2. The rest of the professions are very close in power, with Blacksmithing becoming better with epic gems in T13.