Home WotLK Classic Classes WotLK Classic Death Knight Guide

Death Knights are one of the fastest growing classes in the game, mainly due to their speed in killing mobs, ability to deal damage to multiple targets, excellent self-healing, ability to wear heavily armored gear and a large number of passive skills that maintain and grant health and rune power, limiting downtime and making the leveling process extremely stable and quite fast. If you plan to play solo as a Death Knight, Blood is by far the fastest growing spec, as the extra healing given by the Blood tree talents will help you level up much faster, as you will be able to take down a larger number of mobs than what you get by choosing a Frost or Unholy spec. Let’s explore this in our WotLK Death Knight Guide.

WotLK Death Knight Overview

As the first WoW heroic class, Death Knight has pretty specific gameplay and many outstanding features you will like.

WotLK Death Knight Abilities

The level rotation in Death Knight places a lot of emphasis on the ability to maintain your own health and take down large groups of enemies. Emphasis should be placed on talents/abilities that cause you to heal or deal passive damage through illness, as your illnesses are likely to spread to all enemies you fight, not just your main target to kill. The Death Knight gets a free epic land mount as part of its starting zone, so don’t worry about saving gold to get it.


Death Knights have three presences, one based on each of the available specializations. While the presences most likely won’t match your specialty, each offers unique bonuses that will come in handy and help you greatly in the leveling process.

Blood Presence: increases the damage you deal and makes your skills heal you for a small percentage of the damage you deal when this buff is active. This is the default presence when you level up, as your main goal is to increase your kill speed and reduce downtime when you level.

Unholy Presence: significantly increases your movement and attack speed. While this presence is extremely useful for movement, the extra attack speed will not help you kill faster than the extra damage of Blood Presence, so this presence should only be used when moving from target to target.

Frost Presence: increases your Stamina and contributions to your team’s armor. This is not a presence we recommend when leveling up unless you are in a group and intend to take significant damage while you have a healer ready to heal you.

Blood DK

WotLK Classic Death Knight Guide

Each Death Knight spec is useful in its own way and fulfills a role important to the group, but Blood is definitely best for solo leveling, while also allowing you to refuel if needed.

Main abilities – Heart Strike & Death Strike.

Unholy DK

WotLK Classic Death Knight Guide

If you’re leveling with other people, Unholy might be a good choice. Unholy Death Knights offer some of the strongest buffs/debuffs in the game, regardless of level, and can spend talent points to make their already extremely powerful debuff spells even stronger.

Main abilities – Scourge Strike & Plague Strike.

Frost DK

WotLK Classic Death Knight Guide

Frost is another great option, whether in a group or solo. If you play Frost, you’ll use mostly one-handed weapons, as much of the damage is amplified by procs from auto-attacks, and while leveling up as Frost is viable and can help you dish out massive AoE damage, it’s often very dependent on your equipment and less durable than Blood.

Main abilities – Frost Strike & Obliterate & Blood Strike.

WotLK Death Knight Changes

This is a new class, so there are no changes, but we have class-specific novelties. This class character starts playing at level 55, and has 3 presences – it’s a new mechanic from only this class and is only available when you already have a character of the maximum level on the account.

WotLK Death Knight Leveling

The best DK spec for leveling is definitely Blood because of great healing and a lot of other options. You can learn more about Bloody Death Knight leveling in our special guide.

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WotLK Classic Death Knight Guide

Lich King Classic Death Knight Talents and Glyphs

Blood Build [51/20/0]: suitable for solo leveling or tanking. Optimal look pumping initially in the tanko build with adding talents that help in leveling.

WotLK Classic Death Knight Guide

Unholy Build [12/0/59]: Unholy DK – one of the strongest PvP classes in the game, it is with him many sets of 3v3/ 2v2 take the cherished 2200, there are several variations of the build depending on the partners/ goals (Arena/ Open-world PvP/ Battlegrounds).

WotLK Classic Death Knight Guide

Frost Build [13/58/0]: Frost DK – one of the best damage dealers in the game, but because of the dependence on good gear is revealed in the last stages of the game and can take a stable + top 10 in the DPS list.

WotLK Classic Death Knight Guide

WotLK Classic Death Knight Stat Priority

Wrath of the Lich King requires fewer consumables and enchants than Classic or The Burning Crusade, but they are all extremely important to maximize your damage and survivability in any situation, for example – Dungeons & Raids runs. Below is a list of optimal consumables and spells to help you get the most out of your Death Knight.

Blood Unholy Frost
  1. Defense 540
  2. Hit to taunt cap
  3. Stamina
  4. Expertise 
  5. Dodge 
  6. Strength 
  7. Parry
  1. Hit Rating
  2. Strength
  3. Haste
  4. Critical Strike Rating
  5. Armor Penetration
  6. Expertise
  7. Attack Power
  8. Agility
  1. Hit
  2. Expertise
  3. Strength
  4. Armor Penetration
  5. Critical
  6. Haste
  7. Attack Power
  8. Agility

Wrath Classic Death Knight Best Race

Let’s check all options for both factions.

Alliance Horde
  • Human: Perception is very strong against any stealth class and can give you a huge advantage in PvP, but Will to Survive is a real game changer, allowing you to dispel crowd control effects from yourself and free up one of your token slots for a second PvE token. Both Mace Specialization and Sword Specialization are quite strong at lower equipment levels, and can even change your equipment choice later on while maintaining Expertise;
  • Dwarf: a unique race because Stoneform can be a powerful defensive tool when it can’t be dispersed, has a nasty bleed, and takes a lot of physical damage. Unfortunately, “Find Treasure” and “Gun Specialization” is completely useless for Death Knights in any combat situation;
  • Draenei: offers very useful healing called “Gift of the Naaru“, which can save you or a party member in an emergency. Heroic Presence is the most powerful race, however, because it allows you and your party members to equip items in a completely different way due to the extra number of hits;
  • Night Elf: speed provides a fair amount of dodging by virtue of being a Night Elf, as well as a bit more passive immunity to nature, which is the main source of damage in this expansion. Shadowmeld doesn’t really provide any benefit in combat, but it can sometimes help you save on your repair bill;
  • Gnome: Escape Artist can be quite useful, as one of the Death Knight’s biggest limitations is its lack of movement speed, but all other races, with the possible exception of Arc Resistance, are fairly useless in any combat situation.
  • Orc: generally the strongest Death Knight race due to the benefits of Blood Fury, which in Wrath of the Lich King no longer reduces the healing received, the extra damage from Command pets, and the slightly higher efficiency of axe use due to Axe Specialization;
  • Blood Elf: while Arcane Torrent provides a small amount of Rune Power, Blood Elves don’t have much combat benefit beyond passive magic resistance;
  • Tauren: by default the densest Horde race due to the increased health value provided by Endurance and the fact that they have the powerful stun War Stomp, while Death Knight has no other stun;
  • Undead: while Will of the Forsaken is a strong cooldown in PvP, it is somewhat redundant with spells like Lichborne, and Undead has no use in combat other than as an additional shadow immunity, which is a major source of damage in the Wrath of the Lich King expansion;
  • Troll: if you plan to play only an unholy Death Knight, it could be argued that the Troll might be stronger due to the synergy of the Berserking with the Summon Gargoyle, but overall the Troll is far inferior to the Orc in all Death Knight specializations, including Blood.

WotLK Classic Death Knight Consumables, Chants & Gems

In the first phase of this expansion, we will not have all the top consumables, enchantments, and gems at our disposal. The list will change in the future.

Blood DK

Gems Chants Consumables

Unholy DK

Gems Chants Consumables

Frost DK

Gems Chants Consumables

WotLK Classic Death Knight Best Professions

Engineering is extremely important for Death Knights, both because of the personal DPS boost provided by the cape and gauntlet spells, and because of the insane mobility provided by the Nitro Boost attached to the boots. Engineering is ultimately a slightly smaller stat boost than other crafting professions, but the overall benefit it provides makes it a must-have for almost every class, especially those with mobility issues, such as the Death Knight.

Jewelcrafting is the biggest stat addition of all crafting professions, especially before the addition of epic gems to the game. Stamina is the strongest stat in Blood Death Knight’s survivability, and it’s the largest single addition to it.

Engineering and Jewelcrafting are chosen based on their usefulness in the endgame and do not provide particularly useful gold farming.

WotLK Classic Death Knight Rotation

The basic subsequence for your abilities depends on your specialization. Of course, the order can and will change in various situations.

Blood Unholy Frost
  1. Spread and sustain plagues using Icy Touch and Plague Strike;
  2. Use Pestilence to spread plagues in any situation where you are fighting more than one target;
  3. Use Heart Strike as the primary destroyer of Blood Plague against up to two targets. When you fight more than two targets, you should use Blood Purger as the primary consumer of Blood Spikes;
  4. Use Death Strike as the main consumer of Frost and Unholy Runes. Make sure you keep the rune on cooldown at all times to maximize the use of your skill;
  5. Cast Death and Decay when fighting more than 3 mobs, and they will definitely survive most of its duration;
  6. Make sure you automatically attack all the time.
  1. Spread and sustain plagues with Icy Touch and Plague Strike;
  2. Use Pestilence to spread plagues in any situation where you are fighting more than one target;
  3. Use Blood Boil as the main recipient of Blood Runes against up to two targets. When you are fighting more than two targets, you should use Bloody Purging as the main consumer of Blood Runes. Make sure your Desolation Buff is active as often as possible, even when you fight more than one mob;
  4. Use Scourge Strike as the main consumer of Unholy Runes when the target already has Blood Plague active. Icy Touch should be the primary consumer of Frost Runes;
  5. Cast Death Coil as the primary Rune power giver;
  6. Cast Death and Decay when you are fighting more than 3 mobs and are sure they will survive most of its duration;
  7. Make sure you automatically attack all the time.
  1. Spread and sustain plagues with Icy Touch and Plague Strike;
  2. Use Pestilence to spread plagues in any situation where you are fighting more than one target;
  3. Use Blood Strike as your primary consumer of Blood Thorns against up to two targets, if you are fighting more than two targets, you should use Blood Boil as your primary consumer of Bloodworms;
  4. Use Obliterate as your primary Frost and Unholy Consumption. Make sure your runes are constantly on cooldown to maximize the use of your skill;
  5. Cast Howling Blast when you’re fighting 2+ mobs or at a single target if you get a proc;
  6. Cast Frost Strike as the primary recipient of rune power;
  7. Cast Death and Decay when fighting 3+ mobs and you are assured of surviving most of its duration;
  8. Make sure you automatically attack all the time.

WotLK Death Knight Best in Slot Lists

We are almost at the end, so let’s check the BiS lists for every spec and every PvP or PvE situation. As always, let’s start with Blood Death Knight Tank spec WotLK, and move on.

Blood DK

Bloody (Tank) Pre Raid Bloody (Tank) BiS 

Unholy DK

Unholy Base Equip PVP  Unholy PvP BiS (for the start of Season 1) Unholy PvP BiS (for the end of Season 1)

Frost DK

Frost PvE Pre Raid DPS Frost (DD) Best in Slot

WotLK Death Knight PvP

For successful PvP in this class, your choice should fall on the Unholy. There are several variations, depending on your goals- raising the rating of 2v2 Arenas, 3v3 Arenas, or open-world PvP/ Battlegrounds – we will reveal all this in a separate guide dedicated to Death Knight PvP, and above you can find the best unholy stats for Death Knight regardless of the talent variations.

2v2 Comps 3v3 Comps
  • Unholy Death Knight & Discipline Priest
  • Unholy Death Knight & Holy Paladin
  • Unholy Death Knight & Holy Paladin & Marksmanship Hunter
  • Unholy Death Knight & Holy Paladin & Arms Warrior
  • Unholy Death Knight & Resto Shaman
  • Unholy Death Knight & Ret Paladin
  • Unholy Death Knight & Discipline Priest & Marksmanship Hunter
  • Unholy Death Knight & Holy Paladin & Shadow Priest
  • Unholy Death Knight & Enhancement Shaman
  • Unholy Death Knight & Resto Druid
  • Unholy Death Knight & Subtlety Rogue
  • Unholy Death Knight & Holy Paladin & Affliction Warlock
  • Unholy Death Knight & Holy Paladin & Retribution Paladin

WotLK Death Knight Macros

At last, some useful macros will make your gameplay easier.

Gargoyle snapshotting

/use [combat] 13
/use [combat] 14
/use [combat] Potion of Speed
/use [combat] 10
/cast Summon Gargoyle

Your Summon Gargoyle skill uses the stats you have when you cast the skill; they do not update dynamically. The above macro uses a trinket/glove spell if you are an engineer, and a speed potion to get the most out of your Gargoyle.

Stop cast Mind Freeze

#showtooltip Mind Freeze
/cast Mind Freeze

Although you don’t often cast the Death Ritual, being able to interrupt it is important, so this macro ensures that you can interrupt it without potentially having to use a channel or cast something.

DK is a new class in the game, in the original Wotlk it was an incredibly strong class, and it contributes:

  • Every build is playable, both in Pvp and PvP;
  • Blood is the best class for solo leveling;
  • Unholy – the strongest class for PVP/ 2×2/ 3×3 – this is one of the classes that take the cherished 2200 rating;
  • Frost – one of the strongest PvE classes in the game;
  • Quick start at level 55 and interesting quests;
  • Built-in Launcher for which you do not need to spend money;
  • The ability to carry a legendary axe, which seems to have been made for DK – ideal stats and the ability to bend all the final stages of the game;
  • In addition, you get the opportunity to have a class that in addition to all the above – can be a tank, and demanded, because DK though he does not wear shields – thanks to the stats and talents – will be able to compete for a slot even with the paladins, who want to see in every raid as a tank.

We hope, this knowledge will help you master your DK skills. Don’t forget to rate our article, if our guide was useful for you.

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