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World of Warcraft Classes Death Knight «Unholy»

Unholy Death Knight PvE Guide (WoW Legion 7.3.5)

Death Knight of the specialization Unholy relies on using dark magic and diseases, all of this combined with their mastery of two-handed weapons in Melee. As assisting force, there are Skeletons, Ghouls, Abominations. Gargoyles and even a Val’kyra.



Like any other Death Knight spec, Unholy uses 2 resources: Runes and Runic Power (hereinafter – RP). Runes are always ready out of combat. After a Rune is used, it starts to restore. Only 3 Runes can be restoring simultaneously. Rune restoring speed depends on the speed rating, traits and whether you have Runic Corruption. The RP is somewhat like Fury – you can earn it and then spend it.

Let’s take a closer look at the strong and the weak points of this specialization:

+ Depending on the selected talents and Legendaries, it can show remarkable results on single-target, and nice results on cleave and AoE.
+ It has several defensive abilities + it can decrease the incoming damage on an area by 20% (Unholy Endurance 4/4).
+ Possesses two Grips.
– Low mobility.
– To do AoE damage, time for speeding up is needed.
– High dependency in Legendaries.

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Main abilities

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General information. On achieving several new levels you’ll get access to new talent ‘Tiers’. Talents may have different effect on abilities: add new features, replace old ones, modify passively different effects and spells. Talents can be changed in Sanctuaries or any recreational zones. However, if you don’t have any of those places nearby you can use the Codex of the Tranquil Mind which allows you to switch channels within a minute. You can’t change talents in combat. You can’t change a talent if the talent you’ve picked in the last Tier is on Cooldown. You’ll have to wait until it’s restored first.

Tier 1. Lvl 56.

  • All Will Serve. Raise Dead additionally summons a skeleton archer. The talent also kills down the restoring time for Raise Dead. The weakest talent, never used.
  • Bursting Sores. Festering Wounds do 50% more damage when bursting. Apart from that, the bursts hit all the targets within the 8m range with dark magic. Best choice for burst AoE, especially if you’ve got the
  • Ebon Fever. Virulent Plague does 20% more damage over half the time. A default choice in any situation as this is the best talent.


Tier 2. Lvl 57.

  • Epidemic has 3 charges. When used, does dark magic damage to all the enemies infected with Virulent Plague as well as extra dark magic damage to all the enemies close to those. Nice in terms of mechanics but, unfortunately, a very weak talent in its numeric manifestation. At the moment, it’s not used.
  • Pestilent Pustules. Each eighth Festering Wound creates 1 Rune. As simple as that. The easiest passive talent is the best for now.
  • Blighted Rune Weapon makes the following 5 Auto-Attacks infect the target with 2 Festering Wounds. In its effectiveness, the talent is close to Pestilent Pustules but it does perform better whenever you need to burst something or you have +damage on some target. This is a default choice for Mythic+ allowing you to collect wounds on packs faster.


Tier 3. Lvl 58.


Tier 4. Lvl 60.

  • Sludge Belcher. Raise Dead now summons an Abomination instead of a Ghoul (this pet’s abilities are described in the Main Abilities section). This is a default choice as it enables a second grip. This pet has better saves and, unlike the other two talents, here we indirectly increase the outgoing damage as under Dark Transformation, the pet AoEs all around itself, not only in the cone in front of it, and this is significant.
  • Asphyxiate is a single-target stun for 5 secs. Action radius – 20m, CD 45 secs. If you need a stun in your encounter, this talent could be of use.
  • Debilitating Infestation. Outbreak decreases all your infected enemies’ speed by 50% for 3 secs. This is not the best slowdown but if you don’t have any other options – take it.


Tier 5. Lvl 75.

  • Spell Eater empowers the Anti-Magic Shell by 20% and prolongs its action by 5 secs.
  • Corpse Shield redirects 90% of the damage your pet receives, for 10 secs. If your pet dies from the damage during this effect, you can only summon them no sooner than in 30 secs. CD 1 min.
  • Lingering Apparition. During Wraith Walk, the running speed goes extra 30% up, and its restoring speed is 15 secs shorter (making it 30 secs CD).

* The choice is up to you. Pick whatever your encounter needs.


Tier 6. Lvl 90.


Tier 7. Lvl 100.

  • Dark Arbiter replaces Summon Gargoyle. Active for 20 secs, CD 2 min. The difference between its mechanics and that of Gargoyle’s is that Val’kyra empowers in 1:1 proportion per each RP spent. If you use this ability in a correct way, together with Tak’theritrix’s Shoulderpads and 2t20, you can do massive damage with this CD. This relent is your default choice on a single target for now, regardless of whether you have trinkets/Legendaries.
  • Defile replaces Death and Decay. It mimics all the effects of the latter but does more damage, grows in size if there is at least one enemy, and increases your mastery rating by 300 per sec. The effect can be added up, up to 10 times. Used in AoE encounters and in Mythic+.
  • Soul Reaper does significant dark magic damage for the cost of 1 Rune; applies a 5-sec namesake debuff on a target. If the hit target receives a Festering Wound during this effect, you receive 7% increase in your speed for 15 secs. The effect adds up, up to 3 times. At the moment, the talent is irrelevant.

As a result, we could mock up 2 builds intended for meeting absolutely different objectives.

1. Single target: 3211011 where having Shadow Infusion depends on whether you have Convergence of Fates and the legendary shoulders. Otherwise you pick Infected Claws.
Ebon Fever
Pestilent Pusteles
Unholy Frenzy
Sludge Belcher
Lingering appar
Shadow Infusion
Dark Arbiter

2. AoE: 3331032, where Bursting Sores is only obtained if you have the Instructor’s Fourth Lesson.
Ebon Fever
Blighted Rune Weapon
Clawing Shadows
Sludge Belcher
Lingering Apparation
Infected Claws

If you are using CrucibleWeight you can import this string into the game:

cruweight^128403^ilvl^1^191485^6.23 6:6.48 7:5.83^252799^11.39^252922^5.04^191592^3.85 6:4.45 7:2.99^252875^10.88^252888^9.7^252091^10.14^191419^9.82 6:9.95 7:9.73^252088^10.77^208598^2.1 6:-0.47 7:-0.86^191488^7.75 6:7.71 7:7.51^238044^3.32 6:3.24 7:2.81^191442^2.25 6:2.62 7:1.69^253093^7.1^191494^0.98 6:2.32 7:0.64^252191^10.01^252906^11.76^253070^6.97^end

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Unlike talents, in the weapons branch there is no choice of what you can and what you can’t take. With the current Artifact Knowledge, the order of artifact acquisition is insignificant as to open all the traits, you only need to earn 2.23 billion artifact power which is extremely easy to do just over the first few minutes after you’ve reached level 110.


We are pretty much interested in only 2 relics – Plaguebearer and the Darkest Crusade. The Deadliest Coil is nice, too, especially considering the coming up t21 bonuses. All the other relics are initially weaker. But since the weapons’ ilvl is quite a big deal, it would be better if you do not ignore relics with higher ilvl. So let’s take a look at this little list with the recalculation based on the weapon ilvl:

  1. Plaguebearer and Darkest Crusade – 7
  2. Deadliest Coil – 6
  3. Rotten Touch, Scourge the Unbeliever and Runic Tattoos – 3
  4. Eternal Agony – 1


If you are having second thoughts whether you should take or introduce a new relic with worse abilities but higher ilvl, use raidbots.com which has a very convenient interface for solving this type of problems.

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Netherlight Crucible

Tier 1 of any relic allows you to increase your weapon’s ilvl by 5 points.

Tier 2. For your convenience, let’s present it in the form similar to the relic valuing of the previous section:

  1. Torment the Weak – 11.1
  2. Shadowbind – 10.3
  3. Shocklight – 10.2
  4. Master of ShadowsLight Speed – 9.6
  5. Chaotic Darkness – 9.1
  6. Murderous Intent – 8.8
  7. Secure in the Light,  Infusion of Light – 6.7
  8. Dark Sorrows – 5

Tier 3 completely coincides with the relic priority list:

  1. Deadliest Coil – 9 (6 without T21)
  2.  Darkest Crusade – 7.2
  3. Plaguebearer – 6
  4. Runic Tattoos – 3.5
  5. Rotten Touch, Scourge the Unbeliever – 3.5
  6. Eternal Agony – 1.8

Eventually, you have to pick a way that gives you the highest total of these ilvl equivalents.

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The Unholy Death Knight has access to the total of 14 Legendaries.

Let’s rank them the best to the worst.

  1. Cold Heart. Chains of Ice become a very powerful ability on single target.
  2. Tak’theritrix’s Shoulderpads empower your Ghouls from the Army of the Dead, Apocalypse, your Gargoyle / Val’kyra. This is a very powerful tool on a single target (Keep in mind that only the undead summoned in advance are empowered!)
  3. Soul of the Deathlord allows you to cleave with no loss on a single target . This goes particularly well in combats with skinny faint mobs and a main target. The best Legendary for Mythic+.
  4. The Instructor’s Fourth Lesson/ Kil’jaeden’s Burning Wish. These two are average, no particular achievements. Just nice continuous damage.
  5. Prydaz has a bunch of secondary characteristics and can be great on progression raids.
  6. Sephuz’s Secret is also an average one if you have the opportunity to actuate it per CD.
  7. Aggramar’s Stride has an occasional output. In general, it has nice stats and helps compensate for lack of speed.
  8. Death March is never used without Defile. The perfect Legendary for Mythic +.

Other Legendaries are of no particular interest for this specialization. If you have them, and you want to find out which one is better for you, it is recommended you use Simcraft.

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As it was mentioned in the previous sections, even in one type of combat, various talents, Legendaries and even trinkets can be used. That’s why some of the important things will change.

To begin with, let’s take a look at the default priorities regardless of the aforementioned factors.

Single target

  1. Virulent Plague should always be on the target.
  2. Chains of Ice (if you have the Heart of Ice).
  3. Dark Transformation per CD.
  4. Festering Strike, if there are no Festering Wounds on your target, or there are no more than 4 of them.
  5. Apocalypse, if not on CD and on targets with 6+ Festering Wounds.
  6. Scourge Strike/ Clawing Shadows with 4+ Festering Wounds (in case you have the Instructor’s Fourth Lesson, Festering Strike goes for 3 Wounds and less, Scourge Strike – for 5+ Wounds).
  7. Death Coil, if the RP is on max or close to it (if you’re using Shadow Infusion, it is recommended you utilize the whole stock once the Dark Transformation is over to restore the ability ASAP).

With Dark Arbiter, Shadow Infusion and Convergence of Fates


With Dark Arbiter, Shadow Infusion and no Convergence of Fates


With Dark Arbiter, Infected Claws and no Convergence of Fates


AoE and Mythic+

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The default characteristics priority is as follows:

Strength > Mastery > Haste (below 20%) > Crit = Versatility

Mastery of this specialization increases the whole outgoing dark magic damage which is the kind of damage the majority of our abilities do, except for a couple of physical attacks.

Unholy has breakpoints in terms of Haste which are relatively important for Dark Arbiter.

Based on the aforementioned characteristics and results of your character’s own simulation results, you can draw conclusions on Gems, Chants and Raid Chemicals.

1. Gems
Saber’s Eye of Strength. Only one can be used in the gear. – Masterful Argulite / Masterful Shadowruby by default; if you need more haste use Quick Lightsphene / Quick Dawnlight.
2. Chants
– Neck: Enchant Neck – Mark of the Trained Soldier
– Rings: Enchant Ring – Binding of Mastery by default; if you need to increase your speed then use Enchant Ring – Binding of Haste
– Back: Enchant Cloak – Binding of Strength
– Don’t forget to apply Rune of the Fallen Crusader on your weapon
3. Food
Lavish Suramar Feast. 500 strength or Nightborne Delicacy Platter for mastery, or Azshari Salad for haste.
4. Flasks and Potions
Flask of the Countless Armies. 1300 strength for 1 hour.
Potion of Prolonged Power. 2500 strength for 1 min.

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Set bonuses



  • 2 pieces: For each Ghoul summoned via Army of the Dead the outgoing damage is increased by 15% for 3 secs. The bonus does not add up to the damage by this effect.
  • 4 pieces: For each spent Rune your Army of the Dead restoring time cuts 6.0 secs.


  • 2 pieces: Death Coil does extra 35% of its direct damage to the target for 4 secs.
  • 4 pieces: Death Coil has 20% probability to do damage once again.

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Kick with a modifier, with the Shift key held, the ability is applied on a remembered target, without – on the current one.

/cast [mod:shift,@focus][] Mind Freeze


Combat resurrection by cursor’s position:

#showtooltip Raise Ally
/cast [target=mouseover] Raise Ally


An outbreak by cursor’s position:

/cast [target=mouseover] Outbreak


An extremely useful macro for Mythic+ – dismiss the pet:



Death Grip on cursor position; if there’s no target under your cursor, the Grip is applied to the current one:

#showtooltip Death Grip
/cast [target=mouseover, exists] Death Grip; Death Grip


A similar macro for the Abomination:

#showtooltip Hook
/cast [target=mouseover, exists] Hook; Hook


If you want your pet to constantly attack your current target without getting distracted for other buttons:

#showtooltip Festeing Strike
/cast Festering Strike
/cast Claw
/cast Cleaver


/cast Scourge Strike 
/cast Clawing Shadows 
/cast Claw 
/cast Cleaver


* Keep in mind that with these macros, if you want your pet to grip a target outside the reaching zone, your pet will have to make a run for it. When you actuate your macro, the pet cancels that command and goes back to hitting your target (if you’ve actuated the macro after you’ve sent it to grip a target, of course).

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