Unholy Death Knight in Shadowlands
“Unholy” Death Knight is a melee fighter who commands a small group of summoned undead, and all of his basic abilities consist of dark magic, disease, and strong physical abilities. Unholy DK is the strongest and most sought after melee class in Shadowlands due to its high DPS and extremely powerful defensive and utility abilities. In this guide you’ll learn how to max out your DPS, how to properly utilize your special abilities, what gear to collect, which talents to pick, what covenant to choose and much more. Let’s go!
Like any other DK spec, “Unholy” has 2 resources: Runes and Runic Power. Runes are always ready outside of combat. After using a rune, it starts to recharge. Only 3 runes can be recharged at a time. Runes regeneration rate depends on your haste, traits and Runic Corruption procs. Runic Power is similar to rage — it can be accumulated and spent.
- High damage to a single target
- Strong burst
- Strong AoE without a target cap for main ability
- Execute ability (increased damage on targets with low health)
- Anti-Magic Zone as a regular save
- A wide range of utilities like pull and control undead. DK’s saves allow to avoid multiple mechanics
- A pretty long burst that doesn’t allow to deal a lot of damage in a short window
- Long AoE set up
- Some players might find this disadvantageous — you must control your pet to maximise DPS and pull of some control effects
- Average mobility
About the author
Raider of the “Exorsus” guild — nurseos. I’ve been playing WoW since 2009. Since 2014 I regularly compete for top spots in raids, and took part in two WF in Legion. Multiclasser, played DK since 7.0, was 8th in the world to close the epic Castle Nathria on DK and completed all 15th keys (1300 RIO). You can always find me on twitch.tv, where I stream regularly and share my experience.
Festering Strike — costs 2 Runes and generates 20 Runic Power. Infects the target with 2-3 Festering Wound
* Festering Wound — a debuff that bursts and deals a small amount of shadow damage, generating 3 Runic Power. A total of 6 wounds can be applied to a target at the same time. Lasts 30 seconds. The lesions burst upon death or when damaged by certain abilities or passive effects.
Scourge Strike — costs 1 Rune, generates 10 Runic Power. Deals physical and shadow damage. Causes 1 Festering Wound to burst.
Outbreak — infects the target and nearby enemies with Virulent Plague. Costs 1 Rune, has a 30 yd range.
* Virulent Plague — deals decent shadow damage over time, each tick has a 30% chance to deal additional shadow damage to all afflicted targets. Also procs when the infected target dies.
Death Coil — our main Runic Power spender. For 40 Runic Power fires a blast of unholy magic at an opponent within 30 yds. Each Death Coil reduces the cooldown of Dark Transformation by 1 sec. Sudden Doom passive occasionally makes your Death Coil free.
Epidemic — damages the targets affected by Virulent Plague and deals a small amount of damage to nearby targets in the area. Costs 30 Runic Power. Sudden Doom also procs for Epidemic.
Death and Decay — deals shadow damage in a chosen area for 10 sec. While standing in it, your Scourge Strike hits 4 additional enemies around your target, which allows you to burst Festering Wound on multiple targets at the same time. Used for cleave.
The Raise Dead ability summons a ghoul that you can control. CD 30 sec.
Dark Transformation changes your pet by enhancing and modifying its abilities.
You can also blow up your pet with Sacrificial Pact. The explosion will damage enemies around the pet and heal you for 25% hp.
Your pet’s abilities are:
Gnaw — stuns the target for 1 sec, CD 1.5 min. Dark Transformation increases damage and stun duration up to 2 sec.
Leap — leaps behind an enemy. Dark Transformation interrupts spellcast and immobilizes the enemy for 2 sec.
Huddle — reduces incoming damage by 50% for 10 sec and prevents other actions. With Dark Transformation your pet can perform actions during Huddle.
Claw — main offensive ability. Dark Transformation makes it weaker, but allows it to strike all enemies in front of the pet, dealing shadow damage.
Apocalypse — deals decent physical damage instantly and bursts up to 4 Festering Wound. Summons an Army of the Dead ghoul for 15 sec for each burst wound.
Army of the Dead — a powerful DPS cooldown that summons a bunch of undead to fight by your side for 30 sec. Costs 1 Rune, CD 8 min.
Sudden Doom — your auto attacks have a chance to make your next Death Coil or Epidemic cost no Runic Power.
Runic Corruption — each Runic Power you spend has a 1.6% chance to increase your Rune regeneration rate by 100% for 3 sec.
Anti-Magic Shell — (or AMS). Surrounds you in an Anti-Magic Shell for 5 sec, absorbing damage equal to 30% of your max health and preventing application of harmful magical effects. Damage absorbed generates Runic Power. CD 1 min.
Icebound Fortitude — reduces incoming damage by 30% and makes you immune to stun effects. CD 3 min.
Lichborne — you become undead for 10 sec, increasing leech by 10%, and making you immune to charm, fear, and sleep.
Anti-Magic Zone — places a small dome for 10 sec that reduces incoming magical damage to your allies by 20%.
Raise Ally — combat resurrection that shares the same mechanics with all similar spells of other classes. CD 10 min outside of raid combat. During raids, its CD depends on the amount of players (CD = 90/x, where x — amount of players)
Death Gate — teleport to Acherus, your class hall. CD 1 min.
Runeforging — a crucial ability that allows you to apply different runic upgrades to your weapon. Overall, only one rune is useful — Rune of the Fallen Crusader. Just don’t forget to apply it to your weapon.
Mind Freeze — interrupts enemy’s spellcast and prevents any spell in that school from being cast for 3 sec. CD 15 sec, 15 yd range.
Chains of Ice — for 1 Rune slows the enemy by 70% for 8 sec. 30 yd range.
Path of Frost — allows you and your party/raid members within 50 yards to walk on water. Any damage will cancel the effect.
Control Undead — dominates the target undead up to level 121 for 5 min. Costs 1 Rune, 1.5 sec cast, 30 yd range.
Death’s Advance — moderately increases your movement speed for 10 sec and makes you immune to forced movement effects and knockbacks. Passive: You cannot be slowed below 70% of normal speed.
Dark Command — taunt that forces the target to attack you for 3 sec.
Death Strike — for 35 Runic Power deals physical damage and heals you for 40% of all damage taken in the last 5 sec, minimum 10% of maximum health. After killing an enemy, activates the Dark Succor effect that makes your next Death Strike within 20 sec free and increases its healing by 100%.
Death Grip — pulls a target within 30 yds toward you. CD 25 sec.
On a Pale Horse — passive effect. Increases mounted speed by 20%.
Veteran of the Fourth War — increases your stamina by 10%.
General information. On reaching several levels, you will open new Talent tiers. In each tier, you can choose one Talent at a time. Talents can affect your abilities in different ways: add new ones, replace old ones, passively modify various effects and spells. You can change Talents while you’re in Sanctums or in rest areas, but if there are no such places nearby, you can use Tome of the Tranquil Mind, which allows you to change Talents within a minute. Note that Talents can’t be changed in combat. Also, if a Talent selected in a certain tier is on CD, you’ll have to wait for it to recharge in order to change it.
Tier 1 — 15 lvl. Talents that affect DPS
* ST — All Will Serve
Mythic+ — Infected Claws
Burst cleave — Clawing Shadows
Tier 2 — 25 lvl. Talents that affect DPS
- Bursting Sores. Bursting a Festering Wound deals 25% more damage, and deals shadow damage to 8 nearby targets. Best choice for burst AoE or big pulls in M+.
- Ebon Fever. Virulent Plague deals 15% more damage over time in half the duration. Not used at the time.
- Unholy Blight. For 6 sec you infect enemies around you with Virulent Plague and an additional DoT that stacks up to 4 times. Your minions deal 3% more damage per stack. Default choice.
* Bursting Sores — for big pulls in high M+ keys.
Unholy Blight in all other cases.
Tier 3 — 30 lvl. Control
- Grip of the Dead. Death and Decay reduces the movement speed of enemies within its area by 90%, decaying by 10% every sec. Good choice if you need to slow the boss.
- Death’s Reach. Increases the range of Death Grip by 10 yds. Killing the target resets the cooldown of Death Grip.
- Asphyxiate. Single-target stun go 4 sec. 20 yd range, CD 45 sec. Useful if you need a stun for the encounter.
* The choice is yours.
Tier 4 — 35 lvl. Talents that affect DPS
* Pestilent Pustules is picked rarely and only for a Bursting Sores build.
Soul Reaper — best choice for any scenario. It can be used as either a powerful execute, or an additional way to regen resources on dying enemies.
Tier 5 — 40 lvl. Survivability
- Spell Eater. Enhances Anti-Magic Shell by 30% and increases its duration by 5 sec.
- Wraith Walk. Removes all root effects and increases movement speed by 70% for 4 sec. Taking any action cancels the effect. While active, your movement speed cannot be reduced below 170%. CD 1 min.
- Death Pact. Replenishes 50% of your max health, but creates a shield that absorbs incoming healing equal to 30% of your max health for 15 sec. Situational.
* If you don’t need an extra sprint for the fight, Spell Eater is your preferred choice, especially if there is a lot of magic damage in the battle. Anti-Magic Shell generates Runic Power when absorbs magic damage.
Death Pact is rarely picked.
Wraith Walk — default choice, since DK lacks mobility.
Tier 6 — 45 lvl. Talents that affect DPS
* Unholy Pact — the only choice in this tier.
Other talents don’t give as much DPS.
Tier 7 — 50 lvl. Talents that affect DPS
* Army of the Damned — default choice for most situations.
Unholy Assault is used in keys with difficult pulls and only for a Bursting Sores build.
Summon Gargoyle is not used.
Here are your common builds
ST / Raids:
- All Will Serve
- Unholy Blight
- Soul Reaper
- Unholy Pact
- Army of the Damned
This build is primarily focused on single-target combat, but it is still quite effective in AoE and cleave. The only variety may be in the first tier. If the fight is more focused on cleave, pick either Infected Claws for constant AoE or Clawing Shadows to maximize your burst damage.
The build described above is also suitable for M+. Infected Claws for more AoE on the Fortified affix. Choose All Will Serve for the Tyrannical affix, but be careful — that skeleton likes wandering off and attracting unwanted packs.
The build below will focus on max AoE in M+. It is useful only on pulls with 5+ tough mobs, since Unholy DK has quite a long setup phase before inflicting AoE damage in this build.
- Infected Claws
- Bursting Sores
- Soul Reaper / Pestilent Pustules
- Unholy Pact
- Army of the Damned / Unholy Assault
Upon reaching level 60 in Shadowlands, you will have to choose one of 4 Covenants: Kyrian, Night Fae, Venthyr, and Necrolord. Each Covenant has a signature and a class ability to offer, as well as 3 unique Soulbinds, with whom you can lick your soul and thereby unlock additional talents. To progress you need to increase your renown with the chosen Covenant.
You can easily switch Covenants in Oribos and quickly gain your renown level back. Problems can only arise if you want to return to a Covenant that was once abandoned. In this case, the Covenant will give you a quest that cannot be completed in one week.
Necrolord > Venthyr >>>> Kyrian = Night Fae
In case you play other DK specs as well, note that for the “Blood” spec in PvE Venthyr are preferred for Mythic+ and Kyrian for raids. For the “Frost” spec — Kyrian or Venthyr for raids, Necrolord for M+.
In PvP (which is a good source of loot in Shadowlands) Necrolord is the preferred Covenant for every spec.
Abomination Limb — instant cast, 2 min cooldown. You sprout an additional limb that damages all enemies to nearby enemies over 12 sec. Every 1 sec, an enemy is pulled to your location if they are further than 8 yds from you. The same enemy can only be pulled once every 4 sec. Additionally, you gain Runic Corruption instantly, and again every 6 sec.
This ability gives you extra utility in the form of enemy grips.
Fleshcraft — signature ability, 4 sec cast. Once every 2 min grants a shield with pretty decent damage absorption — 20% of max hp. The shield grows when cast near a dead enemy. The stronger the enemy (lvl, elite), the stronger the shield. Limit — 50% of your max health.
Swarming Mist — class ability, 1 min cooldown, lasts 8 sec. Increases dodge chance by 10%. Deals damage every 1 sec to enemies within 10 yds. You gain 3 Runic Power per tick, up to a maximum of 15 Runic Power. Deals reduced damage beyond 5 targets (but still hits all of them).
Venthyr allows you to quickly regenerate Runic Power to avoid downtime. It’s also useful in AoE, since extra Runic Power will guarantee more Epidemic uses in dungeons.
Door of Shadows — signature ability. Blink with a 35 yd range and 1.5 sec cast. CD 1 min.
Shackle the Unworthy — class ability, damages the target for 14 sec and decreases its damage done to you. While it’s active on an enemy, your direct-damage attacks that spend runes have a 50% chance to spread Shackle the Unworthy to a nearby enemy. Pretty weak bonus for an Unholy DK.
Signature ability: Summon Steward — summons a minion to bring you 3 Phial of Serenity that can be consumed to restore 20% hp and remove all curse, disease, poison, and bleed effects. These phials have a separate cooldown. The ability to remove any debuff in a dangerous situation can be useful in any type of content.
Death’s Due — class ability, replaces Death and Decay and has the same cooldown (15 sec). While you are in the area, your Scourge Strike will inflict the targets with a stackable debuff that reduces damage they deal to you by 1% and increases your strength by 1%, up to 8% max for 12 sec.
Bad for Unholy DK.
Soulshape — signature ability. Teleport 15 yds forward, increasing movement speed by 50% for 12 sec. During this time you can reactivate the ability to blink every 4 sec. Any other ability will cancel the effect. CD 1.5 min.
This ability makes up for DK’s low mobility, but Death’s Due is too bad.
Soulbinds are heroes of your Covenant, with whom you can link your soul. This unlocks a special tree with multiple bonuses. Each Soulbind has their own bonuses and they are different in each Covenant.
- Necrolord: Emeni from lvl 5 renown. Bonesmith Heirmir becomes the best choice after lvl 31 since just a basic Forgeborne Reveries won’t be better than a buff from Emeni with 4 allies. Heirmir’s Marrowed Gemstone is better than the path to a second potency conduit. As a result, the combination of two Heirmir bonuses and one potency conduit yields the best results in all types of content.
- Kyrian: Pelagos in any scenario
- Night Fae: Niya up to lvl 13, Dreamweaver from 13 to 30. After 30 — Niya with Burrs
- Venthyr: Nadjia for ST, Theotar for AoE and M+
Conduits are improvements to your Soulbinds that can be installed in a specific slot. Their ilvl affects their power. Each Soulbind has 2 slots for every type of Conduit. They come in 3 types:
- Potency — affect DPS
- Finesse — grant extra utility
- Endurance — boost your defensive abilities
- Eternal Hunger — Conduit №1, unmatched in terms of bonuses. Even at 145 ilvl it will be better than any other 226 ilvl Conduit.
- Convocation of the Dead — the second strongest Conduit. At 145 ilvl it’s slightly inferior to Embrace Death, but after 184 outperforms it significantly. Used as a second potency conduit if your Soulbind has the appropriate slot (which is not always the case).
- Embrace Death and Lingering Plague can be used when you only have a maxed out char with no other Conduits available.
4 in total. The choice is purely individual.
- Spirit Drain — best choice for M+. Gives a lot of Runic Power in dungeons.
- Fleeting Wind — best way to improve mobility.
- Chilled Resilience — useful against such bosses like Xy’Mox. Helps you clear traps.
- Unending Grip — if you need additional slow, but you always have Chains of Ice
3 in total.
- Hardened Bones — reduces incoming damage while Lichborne is active. Best endurance conduit for Unholy.
- Insatiable Appetite — slightly boosts your HPS, not used very often.
- Reinforced Shell — slightly increases the Anti-Magic Zone radius and extends its duration. Not useful anywhere in Shadowlands for now, but keep it in mind.
A total of 16 legendaries are available to Death Knights — 8 class ones with 3 for Unholy specifically.
In Shadowlands you can get legendaries from various sources and then apply them to base items via Runecarver in Torghast. Each legendary effect can be applied to only two equipment slots (for example, only cloak and pants). Each legendary item has 4 levels. The level only affects its ilvl, the effect itself is not enhanced.
To craft a legendary item you need:
- Soul Ash (obtainable in Torghast)
- A base item. Craft or buy at the auction.
- 2 Missives which will define the secondary stats that the legendary will have. Be careful — you can’t’ change them later
- A legendary recipe. Press Shift+J and open the “Powers” tab. There you can see which effects you already have, as well as the sources for the ones you don’t.
Legendary items can be crafted at any level, as long as you have enough Soul Ash. Already created legendary items can be enhanced by infusing additional ash.
- Rank 1 — 190 ilvl (1250 ash)
- Rank 2 — 210 ilvl (2000 ash when crafted immediately)
- Rank 3 — 225 ilvl (3200 ash when crafted immediately)
- Rank 4 — 235 ilvl (5150 ash when crafted immediately)
When upgrading a legendary, simply subtract the amount of ash already spent on previous ranks. Example: you have a tier 2 legendary and want to upgrade it to tier 4. 5150-2000=3150 — that’s how much ash you’ll need to spend.
If you added a socket to your legendary, it won’t be lost after an upgrade.
- Deadliest Coil. Drops from Sire Denathrius in Castle Nathria on any difficulty with a 100% drop rate. Can be applied to “Chest” and “Back” slots. It not only increases the duration of Dark Transformation, but also reduces the Runic Power cost of Death Coil by 10. This is a significant change, which will reduce downtime in combat and allow you to use Dark Transformation, Army of the Dead, and Apocalypse more often. The only downside to this legendary is that it doesn’t work with Epidemic. Nevertheless it is the best choice for raids, and also a worthy choice in Mythic+, especially in tyrannical weeks.
- Frenzied Monstrosity. Drops from Nurgash Muckformed. Can be applied to “Back” and “Legs” slots. Increases your burst potential during Dark Transformation. Best choice for Mythic+ and AoE raids where we use Epidemic.
In the end, ideally you should have both of these legendaries to be as comfortable as possible in all types of content.
If you’d like to perform well in PvP, better save some Soul Ash for a legendary from the “Frost” spec — Absolute Zero, since the Frost DK has higher PvP potential.
Other legendaries are too weak compared to the ones mentioned above.
A few simple notes about dealing damage as an Unholy DK:
- Avoid Rune downtime. All 6 Runes should not be ready at the same time.
- Runic Power shouldn’t be kept at a 100 for too long, avoid staying at this value. Exception — AoE set up with Epidemic.
- Pets are your main damage dealers
- Maintain Virulent Plague on the primary target and other enemies, if possible. This can be done with Outbreak or Unholy Blight
- Dark Transformation on CD
- Apocalypse on CD if the target has 4+ Festering Wound
- Death Coil when Sudden Doom procs
- Death Coil, if you have 80+ Runic Power to avoid overcap
- Scourge Strike / Clawing Shadows, if the target has Festering Wound
- Without Festering Wound — Festering Strike
* Festering Strike can be used if the target has 3 stacks and you have 3+ Runes
- Other times Death Coil
- Army of the Dead
- Festering Strike
- Unholy Blight / Outbreak
- Abomination Limb
- Festering Strike
- Dark Transformation + racials + active trinkets + pot
- Unholy Assault (if picked)
- Follow basic priorities next
* During this burst you’ll have resource overcap and it’s fine. Prioritize draining Runic Power over idle Runes.
AoE and Cleave
* Explanation for the last two points. What’s the point of this prioritization if you have to both cleave with Death and Decay and spend Runic Power on Epidemic? We are talking about short AoE moments where all targets die within 4-8 GCD. Meaning, if you have 3 targets that would die easily, just use Death and Decay without Festering Wound on additional targets and spend all Runes on cleave. If about 10 weak mobs appear, then at that point it is advisable to have 90+ Runic Power, cast Virulent Plague on all of them, and spam Epidemic.
Use of cooldowns
Dark Transformation — a short cooldown that modifies your pet. It becomes more powerful, cleaves enemies, buffs your strength, and add an AoE attack with Unholy Pact.
Death Coil reduces the cooldown of Dark Transformation, and with Deadliest Coil increases its duration.
Dark Transformation is always used with Unholy Blight.
Apocalypse is also a pretty short cooldown that summons 4 ghouls and an additional magus thanks to Army of the Damned. With this talent it’s used on cooldown. And if you have Convocation of the Dead, use it only on cooldown with 4 Festering Wounds applied.
If you’re playing without Army of the Damned and Convocation of the Dead:
Army of the Dead
Army of the Dead is a very powerful ability with a huge base CD of 8 min. With the Army of the Damned talent, it’s reduced to around 4 min. Must be used during the toughest moments of the fight, preferably synchronized with Bloodlust/Heroism. To maximize DPS, line up all CDs to Army of the Dead.
Necrolord — Abomination Limb. Combine with other bursts, if you chose Emeni. Gives a good boost in AoE.
Venthyr — Swarming Mist. Cast on cooldown, synergizes with Apocalypse. AoE generates more Runic Power, allowing you to use Epidemic more often.
Kyrian — Shackle the Unworthy. On CD or save until adds spawn to spread this ability.
Night Fae — Death’s Due. Change your Covenant pls =(
Choosing a race
The difference between the worst and best race for an Unholy DK is no more than 1.5%. That’s why you should pick whatever suits you best. The more you’ll be pleased with your character’s appearance, the more you’ll enjoy playing it.
If that’s not your style, then choose a race based on utility. For example, useful dungeon abilities are: Shadowmeld (Night Elf) and Arcane Torrent (Blood Elf). Since DK lacks mobility, Spatial Rift (Void Elf) or Rocket Jump (Goblin) could be quite useful.
And if you’re after max DPS bonuses, then:
- Horde: Orc and Troll
- Alliance: Mechagnome, Dark Iron Dwarf, and Draenei.
Basic stat priority looks like this:
Strength > Mastery > Haste >= Crit > Versatility
Mastery increases your shadow damage and damage done by your pets.
Haste increases Rune regeneration rate and reduces intervals between auto attacks.
Crit affects the chance of dealing double damage with your abilities and auto attacks.
Versatility increases your damage, and half of this bonus reduces incoming damage.
Strength and Mastery are the most important stats for Unholy. Haste and Crit are equal. Versatility will almost always be the last priority, but if somehow you get it near 0 rating, simcraft will quickly remind you that you’re wrong.
For a more accurate stat calculation for your character, visit the Stat Weights section on Raidbots.com. This way you’ll understand your current position in terms of stats. After a while you’ll start to feel the stat dynamics and become more familiar with your class.
Flasks and pots
BiS Gear & Trinkets
Note that the game has weekly chests — great vault. You can get Mythic+ items from it equal to 226 ilvl. Some of them can be better than their raid counterparts in terms of stats. But nevertheless, the raids have fixed loot.
Head — Diadem of Imperious Desire (Sire Denathrius, Castle Nathria)
Neck — Noble’s Birthstone Pendant / Sin Stained Pendant (The Council of Blood, Castle Nathria or Halls of Atonement)
Shoulder — Epaulettes of Overwhelming Force (Hungering Destroyer, Castle Nathria)
Back — Crest of the Legionnaire General (Commander of the Stone Legion, Castle Nathria)
Chest — legendary with Deadliest Coil or Breastplate of Cautious Calculation (Artificer Xy’mox, Castle Nathria)
Wrist — BoE Soldier’s Stoneband Wristguards or Hellhound Cuffs (Huntsman Altimor, Castle Nathria)
Hands — BoE Fallen Templar’s Gauntlets or from weekly M+ Fogweaver Gauntlets
Belt — Stoic Guardsman’s Belt (Artificer Xy’mox, Castle Nathria)
Legs — legendaries with Frenzied Monstrosity or Ceremonial Parade Legguards (Commander of the Stone Legion, Castle Nathria)
Feet — Errant Crusader’s Greaves (Shriekwing, Castle Nathria)
Rings — Most Regal Signet of Sire Denathrius and Fleshfused Circle (Sire Denathrius, Castle Nathria, Theater of Pain or Halls of Atonement)
Let’s highlight the strongest trinkets for the Unholy DK:
Interrupt with modifiers, hold Alt to cast it on the focused target, otherwise — on the current one
/cast [mod:alt, @focus] Mind Freeze; Mind Freeze
Many spells are more convenient and faster to use on cursor:
#showtooltip Anti-Magic Zone
/cast [target=cursor] Anti-Magic Zone
#showtooltip Death and Decay
/cast [target=cursor] Death and Decay
Combat resurrect on cursor
/cast [target=mouseover] Raise Ally
Death Grip on target or cursor, if there is an enemy under it
#showtooltip Death Grip
/cast [target=mouseover, exists] Death Grip; Death Grip
Virulent Plague on cursor or current target
/cast [target=mouseover, exists, harm] Outbreak; Outbreak
Having a good, clean, and functional interface can greatly improve your game in many ways:
- You’ll receive more useful information in a convenient format, which the vanilla UI lacks
- You’ll be able to track your cooldowns and buffs
- See timers with boss abilities
There are 2 main ways of enhancing your interface: using ElvUI — a massive addon that contains a huge number of functions and outputs it all in a uniform style, or via a bunch of separate addons that are responsible for their specific task. It’s easy to use and share profiles. If you’re too lazy to customize, you can always find a suitable profile on wago.io.
If you prefer ElvUI, you still need a couple of key addons to go along with it:
Deja Character stats — Adds more information about the character’s stats, which were hidden in BfA for some reason.
WeakAuras — probably the most important addon in modern WoW. With its help, you can set up almost anything, and on wago.io you can find hundreds of useful auras and import them to your game in a few clicks. You can also find a full pack of auras for any spec.
BigWigs/Deadly Boss Mods — addons with timers and announcements for bosses in raids and M+, choose either of these. It’s also super useful in PvE. For BigWigs, the instance module, LittleWigs, must be installed separately.
Details! Damage Meter — the most up-to-date and advanced damage meter at the moment.
World Quest List — Groups your world quests to the left of the map, filtering them by zone.
Pawn — helps you find gear upgrades, requires SimCraft.
SimulationCraft — simplifies your char’s simulation by creating an in-game line for quick import to Raidbots or SimCraft.
Exorsus Raid Tools — addon for raids with a lot of useful features.
If you’d like to change the UI without ElvUI, then besides the above addons you need to add:
Bartender4 — highly customizable panel addon.
Chatter — chat customization
Sexy map — makes your minimap sexy!
Shadowed unit frames — an alternative to ElvUI for unit frames.
Plater Nameplates — addon from the author of Details that changes enemy nameplates. Fully customizable design and a huge number of available features, as well as the ability to import profiles and mods from wago.io — what else do you need?
Move Anything — allows you to move and resize any part of your interface.
Here you’ll learn a few specific things about playing as Unholy DK, and DK in general:
Anti-Magic Shell — A very interesting ability that allows the DK to ignore a huge number of magical mechanics, or absorb damage and transform it into Runic Power.
Icebound Fortitude is not only a save, but a stun immune. Also dispels existing stun effects.
Lichborne allows you to ignore and remove fear effects.
Here are some basic encounters where you can make your life a lot easier:
- Storming affix — Death’s Advance makes you immune to knockback, but you’ll still take damage from tornadoes.
- You can ignore stacks from the Bursting affix
- Prideful affix — for every 20% of killed mobs it spawns an elite, which will cast Belligerent Boast on one of 5 players. You can “absorb” it with your AMS. Belligerent Boast is never applied to the same player twice in a row. It’s impossible to predict who will be affected by it. With the Spell Eater talent your AMS can cover two of these procs, but there’s no guarantee that the debuff will hit you at that time.
- On the Necrotic affix, the effect from auto attacks won’t apply Necrotic Wound
- Sanguine Depths.
The second boss has Castigate. Its cast is divided in 2 parts — precast and channeling. If you activate AMS during the first Castigate phase, the boss will get upset and won’t start the second phase.
- The Necrotic Wake.
The last boss likes casting Frozen Binds. If you get targeted by him, activate your AMS. The effect won’t stick, and you and your friends won’t have to hide from its large area.
- De Other Side.
The last boss uses Cosmic Artifice. Counter with AMS, but get closer to the boss — the effect won’t be applied, but it’ll still spawn the voidzone.
- Theater of Pain.
Kul’tharok casts Draw Soul. AMS will let you ignore it.
Mordretha, the Endless Empress has a nasty ability — Manifest Death. Activating AMS before the end of the timer will let you avoid the effect and prevent hell from spawning.
- Mists of Tirna Scithe.
On the first boss you can catch the fear effect in AMS or Lichborne.
The second boss summons a Vulpin. If you don’t focus on it, it will freeze everyone. If things get out of control, you can run away from your allies, use AMS and grip the Vulpin, pulling it toward you. It won’t freeze you.
- Halls of Atonement.
The second boss occasionally unleashes Curse of Stone. AMS while it’s being cast to avoid the debuff. If you get stunned, use Icebound Fortitude.
Lord Chamberlain has a dangerous spell — Ritual of Woe. If you stand exactly in the boss model with an active AMS, you can block up to 4 beams without taking damage.
Globgrog always stomps to knock you back and then applies a disease debuff that reduces movement speed. Use AMS before the end of the cast. Use Death’s Advance to prevent knockback.
Domina Venomblade applies Shadow Ambush to one of the players. It forces to move away from allies at the end of its duration, after which the boss teleports to a marked player and stuns them. AMS and Icebound Fortitude to counter stun. You still have to run away from your allies!
Margrave Stradama has a very high damage stacking ability — Infectious Rain. In high keys this DoT melts players, so it’s extremely important to minimize the number of stacks on yourself. AMS will allow you to ignore this ability every once in a while.
- Castle Nathria.
Huntsman Altimor. Sinseeker leaves a magical DoT. Use AMS to ignore it. The damage from an initial hit is physical though.
Sun King’s Salvation. Cast AMS during Blazing Surge to reduce incoming damage and regenerate Runic Power.
Artificer Xy’mox. A walk in the park for a DK. With AMS and Icebound Fortitude you can clear traps and absorb the spirit. Death’s Advance lets you avoid being pulled to the center.
Hungering Destroyer. If you have Gluttonous Miasma, make sure to activate AMS prior to Expunge.
Lady Inerva Darkvein. Always use AMS when she casts Lightly Concentrated Anima — this will prevent the add from spawning if it hits you.
Commander of the Stone Legion. Heart Rend is not a strong DoT by itself, but upon removal it triggers a more dangerous effect. Critical for epic difficulty. Either use AMS during the boss cast, or at the last second of Heart Rend.
Death’s Advance is very useful in the epic variant to avoid being knocked back from the platform.
Icebound Fortitude will help you survive Ravenous Feast.
Sire Denathrius. AMS for almost every Blood Price. Casting AMS during the transition between the first and second phases will make you immune to the slowing effect and ensure you get to the center faster. DKs don’t need to bother clearing Burden of Sin during the first phase. Even with max stacks you’ll get to the center thanks to passive effects of Death’s Advance. This will allow you to avoid Cleansing Pain and the spawning of extra mobs.
In the second phase if things didn’t go according to plan, and you have to get into the voidzone from the death of a mob — use Death’s Advance.
In the last phase you can ignore every other knockback with Death’s Advance.