This guide is intended for those who are fairly new to the death knight class and are looking for a great way to start.
What Has Changed With Death Knights?
1. The rune system is completely different and a lot easier to manage. In the past there were frost, death, and unholy runes, but now they are basically like having six death runes.
2. All Death Knight specs have a ranged kick of 15 yards, which is very nice because we lack mobility.
3. Abilities That Were Pruned Include: Desecrated Ground, Lichborne, Death Siphon, Death Pact, Icy Touch(along with its dispel), Plague Strike, Plague Leech, Strangulate was replaced with Asphyxiate, and one of the biggest prunes in my opinion was the presence pruning.
4. We have a great, utilizable talent tree for many different arena situations.
5. Death Knights have a new ability called wraith walk, which allows you to break roots and slowing effects, and increase your movement speed by 70% for 3 seconds. So, this is essentially a 3 second freedom every 45 seconds, just remember that any action you do, will cancel the effect.
6. Chains of Ice is now a 70% slow, up from 50%, which is a great tool to peel for your teammates.
7. We have a new ability that comes from our artifact weapon. This ability is called Apocalypse. It does a massive amount of single target damage and summons an army of undead minions that attack your target. These minions have special effects that they may place upon your target.
Effect 1: Pestilence - Is a Dot that does physical damage stacking up to 3 times.
Effect 2: Death - Increases damage taken by the DK by 5% per stack. Maximum 15% increase.
Effect 3: War - Reduces Healing by 5% per stack. Maximum 15% reduction.
Effect 4: Famine - Reduces damage dealt to the dk by 5% per stack. Maximum 15% reduction.
8. Glyphs are completely removed from the game, but you are able to buy cosmetic glyphs to make some of your abilities look cooler.
9. An important thing to notice is your artifact weapon talent tree as well. When you guys obtain your weapon make sure to read each piece because some of them are extremely vital tools for your kit in arena. An example of this for unholy is that your death grip reduces the targets movement speed by 50% for 6 seconds, so knowing this piece of information can potentially allow you to save a rune for d rather than utility.
10. Death Strike costs 45 runic power instead costing 2 runes like it used to. It can heal you for a minimum of 10% of your maximum health plus 20% of all the damage you took in the last 5 seconds.
Here are two lists of talents that I prefer to run on unholy death knight and below are explanations as to why I choose those talents and any tweaks that you could make for certain situations.
This is a list for the damage spec.
This is a list for the necrotic spec.
Level 56 [Damage Spec]: I really like Bursting Sores for this talent choice because it makes your apocalypse burst hit a lot stronger with each wound that you burst which makes for a nice nuke every 1.5 minutes. The damage may not be as steady as All Will Serve, but that is another option to chose as well if you want more steady damage, plus its always nice to be able to spam res your pet because they pruned death coil being able to heal it.
Level 56 [Necrotic Spec]: I chose the All Will Serve Talents for this tier because you aren't really going to be getting the benefit from bursting a wound because necrotic doesn't burst a festering wound, it instead converts it into a necrotic wound.
Level 57 [Damage and Necrotic Spec]: I personally like Blighted Rune Weapon for this tier because it allows you to keep your wounds up on your target more often, rather than expending more runes to apply them, you can spend more runes to burst them or to necrotic them.
Level 58 [Damage Spec]: Clawing Shadows is ideal for this tree because the damage increase from scourge to clawing shadows is a lot higher. The only reason I know this is because I have tested many hours attack a dummy to ensure that this was true. You also have to take into consideration that clawing shadows is unaffected by armor and can be used from a distance, which is nice due to the lack of mobility that you have.
Level 58 [Necrotic Spec]: Castigator is the best option in this tier when playing the necrotic spec because the ideal of the necrotic spec is to apply as many festering wounds as you can in the fastest amount of time, so that you can convert these into necrotic wounds, so with every crit you are capable of placing a very high number of wounds on your target very quickly rather than expending more runes and wasting those runes on not necroticing.
Level 60 [Damage and Necrotic Spec]: Asphyxiate is the ideal ability in almost every situation because without this, you would only have a 2 second ghoul stun on a 1.5 minute CD, which is not ideal. I have testing if the question if the Sludge Belcher hits harder than the regular ghoul and the answer is no, they hit the same.
Level 75 [Damage and Necrotic Spec]: Corpse Shield is good in just about every situation and here is why. There is a little niche that you can do with this ability. When you pop corpse shield 90% of the damage you take is redirected to your pet...correct? When you pet dies from the effects of corpse shield, you cannot summon your pet again for another 30 seconds, but there is a solution to this problem. Right before your pet is about to die from corpse shield and if you are fast enough, you can dismiss your pet with a dismiss pet macro and will be able to summon a pet again. This works extremely well with the All Will Serve Talent. I can see where some would think "Spell eater is great for full caster teams", but my argument would be that if you could effectively use your corpse shield, then it is a better tool 100%. Another useful niche with this corpse shield is the fact that you can huddle your pet so that it stays up longer.
Level 90 [Damage Spec]: Necrosis for obvious reasons. It increases the damage of your scourge strike/clawing shadows after every death coil. Maximize your damage output by death coiling into clawing shadows after.
Level 90 [Necrotic Spec]: I personally like Infected Claws for this tier because it allows your pet to apply more wounds to your target and more wounds without the expenditure of your own runes means more necrotic strikes to absorb healing on your target.
Level 100 [Damage Spec]: I really enjoy Soul Reaper for this tier because not only does it do large damage, but has a niche as well. If you apply Soul Reaper before you use your Apocalypse ability, then it will give you the 21% haste buff immediately rather than expending 3 globals to obtain the haste. This haste is great because it allows you to put out globals faster and faster globals equals more damage. Defile can be good in certain situations, but this is still under testing.
Level 100 [Necrotic Spec]: Dark Arbiter is extremely strong when used in the right way, plus it doesn't go against the dps rotation of the necrotic spec, which is very nice. The ideal way to use this talent is when you have 100 runic power because the more you expend the more damage it does. It hits significantly harder than gargoyle even in its shorter duration. Defile is still under testing as well.
Here are two lists of PvP Talents that I prefer to run on an unholy death knight and below are explanations as to why I chose those talents and any tweaks that you could make for certain situations.
This is a list for damage spec.
This is a list for the necrotic spec.
First Tier: Gladiator's Medallion is usually a go to vs teams that have spammable cc, like polymorphs, or fears. ORC OPTION: If the team has heavy stuns and you are an orc, then the Relentless talent would be the way to go.
Second Tier: Reinforced Armor is used in almost all situations because one, dks have the highest hp pool in arena, and two, Sparring is only really viable against pure physical melee teams, which rarely exist.
Third Tier: Most of you might not like this talent tree because there are two very good options on there. Dark Sim and Anti-Magic Zone. AMZ, which has been significantly buffed, has always been a great defensive tool for either yourself or your teammates. I personally choose AMZ because it is, literally, another entire defensive CD for your team and can save trinkets from your healer or defensives for your partners in general. Dark Sim is also viable, especially if you do not need the extra defensive CD.
Fourth Tier: Necrotic Aura when playing with things that would benefit from a magic damage amplification and Heartstop Aura with classes that wouldn't benefit from a magic damage amplification.
Fifth Tier: This tier is extremely amazing. Crypt fever is literally the highest dps ability that you will have versus teams that have a lot of hot healing, like resto druids and mistweaver monks. You will notice that it will top your dps meters, which is hilarious to me because a passive ability shouldn't do that much in my opinion, but it is what it is. It may seem weak versus classes that don't have many hot healing options, but is still the best option on that tier.
Sixth Tier: Unholy Mutation with your damage spec and obviously Necrotic Strike with the necrotic spec. DO TAKE NOTICE, that you can only necrotic strike a target and obtain your necrotic wound if there are festering wounds present on your target. If there are no festering wounds present, then you will not obtain the absorb and you will just be doing weak damage that doesn't do anything.
I still think some people are confused on the whole gearing subject, so I am going to explain it to you guys, so you can benefit yourselves in the best way. The simplest way to explain how to gear in Legion for PvP purposes is to achieve the highest ITEM LEVEL GEAR that you could obtain. Regardless of the stats, each class has a predetermined PvP template of stats when they enter either a BattleGround or and Arena. This "Predetermined" Set of Stats increase with Item level, NOT WITH WHAT THE STATS ON YOUR GEAR SAY.
Here is an example: You obtain a 850 Ilvl piece that gives you mastery and crit and you are like "WoW this is great!" "My Best Stats!". Then 20 minutes later you receive a 855 Warforged piece that gives you haste and versatility. Go for the piece with the higher item level regardless of the stats on the gear, because those stats do not matter at all once you step into a PvP related experience.
To those DKs who want to do the most optimal damage in arena, you are going to have to get your pve pants on because the item level for mythic raiding gear gives your pvp stat templates a nice boost in arena if you are maxed out. Holinka estimated that the difference would be 5% or so, but that is very worth it in my eyes, especially in higher rated PvP.
1. Fallen Crusader
Rotation In PvP
There is no ideal rotation for a death knight in PvP because the way the rune system works. There is a lot of RNG built into the rotation, but the best way I can start you off is with this:
1. Make sure your target is slowed so you can keep on them. You will notice that you have the worst mobility in the game and that is supposed to be normal since we are supposed to do a massive amount of damage and pressure, but this is not the case anymore post Mists of Pandaria.
2. Sudden Doom procs can stack twice and are only usable with death coil. TAKE NOTE: This does increase the damage that your Dark Arbiter does.
3. It is ideal to use your Apocalypse ability with 8 festering wounds present on your target to increase the maximum damage that you to towards your target. Also try to apply your Soul Reaper before you use Apocalypse.
4. When running the Damage Spec, it is ideal to death coil to get your necrosis proc, then clawing shadows to have its damage increased.
5. The best way to get a feel for it is to literally attack a target dummy for an hour or so until you are perfectly comfortable and quick enough to maximize your damage.
Here is a list of macros that you could copy and paste for your benefit.
Death Knight PvP Stream
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