Category Archives: Death Knight

Death Knight Leveling: 55-75 Frost DPS

I’d like to tell you that leveling up as a Frost Death Knight is a hard thing to do, but then I would be lying. You see, Frost Death Knights have this thing called a God Complex where they think they can kill whoever they want to without harm or repercussion to themselves, all the loot belongs to them, their DPS is through the roof putting everyone else to shame, and so on. The bad news is, occasionally that will come back to bite you in the butt and score you a trip to the spirit healer. The good news is, that whole God Complex thing started because the majority of it is actually true.

Enough with the intro, let’s take a look at how to go about leveling and playing a Frost Death Knight.

Turn the page to find out more…


Posted by on December 14, 2012 in Death Knight, Guide, Leveling, Melee, World of Warcraft



New Heirlooms in 4.3

In Patch 4.3 the Darkmoon Faire is going to get a nice little revamp (details here). I’ve never been too big on the faire beyond abusing the vendors there to get high selling mats for cheap vendor prices that I could toss on the AH for a quick, easy profit. My lack of interest almost made me ignore the information regarding the faire, but I was bored anyway (and about to leave work for the day) so I figured I might as well take a look.

Most of what the notes mentioned weren’t bad, but nothing that would get me otherwise interested in the DMF, until I stumbled onto this:

“We have adorable companion pets inludin’ a fez-wearing monkey, a plethora of profession recipes, toys, balloons, souvenirs, delectable carnival snacks and beverages, heirlooms for the little ones, and even replicas of long-lost suits of armor that we’re offering for your Transmogrification needs.”

Unfortunately for us, there’s no more mention of heirlooms in the article, so we don’t know for sure what it refers to. It could be new heirlooms, it could be existing heirlooms, or it could be other items all together that they simply used the word to describe. Without the details, one can only hope and imagine.

But wait… we do have details!
Turn the page to find out more…


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Critter Killer Squad

After a few conversations back and forth on Twitter, it was decided that I should be the one to do a post about tips for farming the Critter Killer Squad achievement for your guild by killing 50,000 critters collectively. Completing this achievement gives your guild members access to the Armadillo Pup companion pet, though you do have one heck of a rep grind to do with your guild before you can actually purchase and summon him. The current PTR patch mentions he’s purchasable at Revered once the patch goes live, but currently it’s Exalted.

This isn’t really a guide to show you how to do it, it’s merely a list of tips to help you along the way. I’m going to point out the primary locations for where I did most of my grinding as well as things you can do to help you out in your own.

General Tips

Classy Killers
The first thing to consider if you’re going to go on a critter farming spree is your class. If you don’t have good AoE spells, or you’re not able to “spam” your AoE spells, then you aren’t really an ideal farmer. That doesn’t mean you can’t do it of course, only that you could do better if you were a different class. Which class is the best Critter farmer in the game? Mages followed by Priests.

Mages are the best critter farmers because they have a cheap AoE spell that you can spam (no cooldown) and several ways of getting their mana back quickly and easily. By taking the Arcane spec they can reduce the cooldown of their best mana return, Evocation, to every two minutes. By taking the Fire spec they gain access to two more AoE spells that can be cast instantly on a targeted location. And they can always conjure their own food for free if mana returns get stuck on cooldown.

Priests have a similarly useful AoE, but mana can become an issue after sustained periods without as many ways of generating it back.

You can also do a fair job with a Death Knight if you take the Frost Spec, allowing you to cast two Blood Boils, and two Howling Blasts to clear large numbers of critters. The drawback is that Howling Blast does require you to select a target which can be hard if you’re having to click on some of these tiny critters. You can get around that either with a macro or by trying to click on other, larger targets to center it on. You can also use your “ice cubes” cooldown when it’s up, allowing Frost Fever to kill them.

Critter Killer “SQUAD”
The next thing to consider is whether or not other people in your guild are willing to help you. Why is that important? Because just like loot in dungeons or raids, you get credit for the kills as long as you’re in the area when they die. Credit in the case of critters is the kill count. What that means is that if you’re in a group then everyone who is there and within “reward range” of the critters when they die all get credit for it.

So if you’re in a group with another person for your guild then every critter killed counts as two critters because both of you are rewarded with a kill. If you’re in a group of five, then every critter counts as five. And if you’re in a 40 man raid, then every critter counts as 40 instead.

Remember, guild achievements aren’t meant to be accomplished by a single individual, they’re meant to be a group effort; that’s why they’re guild achievements. Get a group together for the areas you want to farm in and then go do them together. You can either send a large group, like the 40 man raid, to a single location, or you can do smaller parties or raids to several locations at once.

Uldum: the land of sheep, moths, lizards and scarabs.

This is where most of the people who got this achievement first did their thing. There are two locations on the map where two groups of sheep spawn which make it an excellent zone to grab a few, quick kills from. When the expansion was first released killing these sheep forced more sheep to instantly respawn, making it the single-best location in the game to farm the achievement. Once Blizzard caught on though, they took away the respawn rate and now they respawn about the same as any other critter, though maybe a tad slower.

Those little packs of sheep are still a great source of kills though, so I still enjoyed farming them even after the respawn nerf.

Anywhere that you find green growth in the zone can also be home to moths which count for the achievement as well. If you happen to be an herbalist or a skinner then you’ll likely be farming these areas for your professions as well, and killing critters while you’re in the middle of farming something else anyway is a great way to contribute to the guild without going out of your way. The sheep don’t quite have enough time to respawn after a single path along the highest spawn points of Whiptail unless you manage to find several of the nodes and stop for moths along the way, but a double-path should have the big sheep packs back up for you.

If you’re a miner then you’ll often find along your mining paths here that there will be several groups of critters that spawn in groups of three and then spread out and “flee” when you get close to them. Drop down in the middle and fire off an AoE spell to grab your three kills and then return to your ore farming. Many of the ore nodes themselves are spawn points for these critters which you can use to some extent as a reference for a place to keep your eyes open for a node you’re not aware of.

I start my mining path just south of where the sheep spawn, at a point where I often find Pyrite nodes and then I run a path that takes me through both sheep spawn locations, up around where the Armadillo rare spawn is located, up into the western mountain ranges looping around the north side of the map all the way to the east where I also find several Pyrite nodes, and then I go back to the sheep spot. My mining path is significantly larger than my herb path, and the sheep have always respawned by the time I get back around.

You can also make a macro to “/target Strange Camel Statue” to search for the statue that gives you a chance at a camel mount. I haven’t had any luck with that one myself yet, but I’ve been told that’s the best way to find it since the statue can be targeted.

Zul’Gurub: The raid that once was, land of the eternal snakes.

In Zul’Gurub you’re going to be killing snakes. Lots, and lots, and lots of snakes. Now, there aren’t all that many snakes that are actually there, probably only 25-30 in this particular area, but killing them forces more to spawn and they also have a fast respawn rate on their own. The key to getting them to spawn a lot is to make sure that you kill all of them, and doing that requires you to know where all of them are.

Go to the area marked on the map. You’ll find the section where the snake boss used to be located when ZG was still a raid instance. Now, back out of his room onto the main pathway that runs around the instance. There are 4 snakes that spawn right outside there; 2 are in line with the doorway and there is one slightly to both the left and right of the door. The doorway itself also has up to 3 snakes that can spawn inside it.

Now your objective is clear a ring around the entire area inside the snake bosses “room”. So go in the door and start making a circle around the edge, spamming your AoE the whole time. I prefer to turn right and go around counter-clockwise, but that’s just me. When you come around opposite the doorway to where the stairs are go on up and do the same thing there, spamming your AoE as you circle around the upper floor. Then go back down the stairs and finish your ring of the lower level by following it around and going back out the door.

From there it’s just a simple matter of repeating everything you just did. If you don’t kill all of the snakes then not all of them will respawn, that’s why I have you kill the ones outside the door. You can’t kill just the lower floor and outside the door, or the snakes will follow normal respawn rules. If you do take the time to get snake down in there then you’ll have a constant supply of snakes to kill.

As you path around here you’ll pick up on where all of the snakes are and get a feel for where you need to stand when you fire your AoE to kill the most snakes per cast, and you’ll find just how close you need to get to the edges of the room. Once you’ve got a feel for it you’ll be able to clear the place in no time and can probably develop a rhythm like I did where I didn’t even have to look at the screen anymore because I knew how far to turn in each direction in sequence to get to where I was going.

ZG farming gets old pretty fast, but it is effective and it’s your best source if you don’t want to deal with respawn rates. If you’re grinding the achievement with your guild you probably don’t want to bring more than 2-3 other people with you to this place. While killing does force respawns, there’s still a little bit of an actual respawn on the forced spawn as well which ends up giving you a slight delay followed by bursts of snakes in random places and it gets a little screwy.

Eastern Plaguelands
Eastern Plaguelands: Enough creepy crawlies to feed the entire goblin race for a decade.

Eastern Plaguelands is overall the best place for you to farm. It has more critters than any other location in the game now, and they all have a reasonable respawn rate of 3-5 minutes. The respawn timer kind of sucks, but the cave is large enough and there are enough critters in there to make up for it.

EPL comes with another side benefit though which helps with that respawn timer, and that’s farming for the Mr. Grubbs companion pet. The whole point of killing these critters is to open up another pet, so don’t try to tell me you’re not in it for pets. ;)

If you don’t already have Mr. Grubbs then go ahead and clear out the cave full of critters and then fly east and farm some mobs for a chance to get Mr. Grubbs. After a few minutes of grinding those, head back to the cave and kill some more, then grind Grubbs while you wait, and so on and so forth.

If you’re going to grind this achievement with your guild then this is the best place to do it in groups.

Psynister’s Psystem
I did a large portion of my guild’s critter farming solo, mostly because I had no idea at the time that doing it in groups could multiply your kill count. If I had known that then we would have gotten it way sooner than we did.

I started off farming the sheep in Uldum, pre-nerf, and not expecting a nerf to come for a while I mostly took my time with them and only did a few thousand at a time before going off to do something else. I don’t remember what our count was when the nerf hit, but I think it was around 10-12k at that point.

The nerf wasn’t a big setback though because I had found a location that was even better. I was leveling a Worgen Fury Warrior to become PvP twink when I suddenly found myself in a tunnel/hallway absolutely full of critters. I remembered it from the Beta but I had completely forgotten that the area existed. The great thing about this place was that the critters actually attacked you which mean that my Warrior had a never ending supply of Rage along with a never ending supply of critters, and a wonderful spell to dump that Rage into that just happened to be an AoE.

I farmed the crap out of that hall until all of my non-BoA gear was broken. Once it broke I set off to find myself a repair vendor so I could make use of my enchanted Hand-Me-Downs again, but none of them existed in the phase I was in. Sadly, neither did a mailbox so I couldn’t send the BoA’s to a new Warrior. The grinding was still great, but slower after all of my gear was busted so I took a break there for a while as well. The following week this place was nerfed as well so that the critters don’t count. Still, I’d managed over 20,000 kills there.

That left me with only a few options so I searched for other good places to go and stumbled onto the snakes in ZG. The good thing about them is that they do have an excellent respawn rate. The bad thing is, farming them kind of sucks with how spread out they are so you don’t get as many kills in as short of a time. And because of the layout I actually got bored with it easier than I did the others. I only did maybe 500-1,000 there before I got bored and left.

I then went to try my luck in EPL which is where I decided to spend most of my remaining time farming it. The respawn rate isn’t great, but the number of critters inside was fantastic. The respawn timer did make it boring pretty easily though, so again I only ended up with a little over 1,000 kills here at the time.

From there I left the achievement alone for a while at around 36,000 critters. From there I left it up to the rest of the guild for a while and we made decent progress from there. When I saw that we were within 5,000 of the achievement I went back to farming a bit more seriously and decided to beat the respawn timers by setting up a different toon in each of my three best farming locations and just relog each time I finished off an area. That worked for all of two cycles before I was killing them all too fast to really make it efficient. The DK in Uldum was doing good slaying sheep with Blood Boil and Howling Blast, but the Balance Druid kind of sucked in ZG with how much they were spread out and how much mana my non-cooldown AoE spells required to cast. The Mage was still slaying like crazy in EPL though, and eventually I just gave up on the rotation and stuck with Mage/EPL.

Quite a few members jumped in there at the end trying to finish off the achievement. At the very end, I saw two other people farming critters and only one of which was in a good spot (Uldum) for getting big numbers in a short amount of time. I’d worked so hard on the achievement though that I wasn’t about to let someone else finish what I’d started so I jumped back on the Mage for one final push through that EPL tunnel. I went in with 200 critters left on the countdown and started in.

I saw the numbers drop quickly, and just as we hit 13 I saw someone else in my tunnel doing the same thing. If he had been flagged, and on the opposite faction, I’d have killed him with AoE spells a’blazing, but that was not the case. Luckily I’d been through that stinking cave so many times that I knew all of the twists and turns and I knew there was a side passage to his right…and apparently so did he.

But, he wasn’t a mage.

/cast Blink
/cast Arcane Explosion (critter count: 3)
/cast Arcane Explosion (critter count: -7)

Now all I have to do is stop being such a friggin altoholic and focus on a single character long enough to get my rep high enough to buy the Armadillo. I’m not real big on companion pets, but still – I am a Texan, after all.


Posted by on January 13, 2011 in Death Knight, Mage, Priest, World of Warcraft


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Guide to Heirloom Purchases

Today we’re going to look at which heirlooms you should purchase for your leveling alts. A couple of weeks ago I covered Enchanting Your Heirlooms, so I’ll refer you back to that post if you have already purchased heirlooms and would like to look into the various ways that you can enhance their performance via enchants and item enhancements.

Equipment Lists
I’m going to make a list of heirlooms for each class individually, and I will mention certain items that would work better for certain specs as well. I will tell you right now though, that while I have leveled most classes to a significant leveling milestone, I have not played every class and every spec. So if you see me suggest an item for your class because I know you’re looking for Spell Power, but you feel it would be better for you to go with another because it has Spirit as well as Spell Power, then go with your gut as you may very well know that particular class better than I do.

What I am going to have is a list of weapons, chests, and shoulders for you to use in each of your different specs, and a (hopefully) short explanation of why. In some cases there may be multiple suggestions made for a particular slot, particularly when it comes to weapons. The reason for this will generally be because there are multiple builds that people use for that class, or because certain equipment options aren’t available until a higher level. A good example of this is the Enhancement Shaman who benefits more from a large two-hand weapon until level 40 when they can dual wield one-handers, or the Warrior who may dual wield one-handers until level 60 and then dual wield two-handers from there on.

Under each class header you’ll find the list of gear that I suggest and prefer. There will also be a Substitutions list which are items that I consider to be reasonable replacements for the items I suggest in case you already have some of those and would rather not purchase others, or in case you have more of one currency than another and can’t afford all of the recommended pieces.
Turn the page to find out more…


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How To: Deleting Level 80 Toons

A subject that I get endless laughter out of on Twitter or in Vent is the deletion of level 80 toons. I’ve deleted two level 80 characters so far, and I have no doubt that there will be others in my future as well. Deleting characters has never bothered me because, as I’ve stated several times before, I play to level. Once a character hits the level cap the game doesn’t “start” for me, it ends. I don’t care about gearing them up, doing dailies for gold, building my rep, collecting mounts and tabards, or anything else that people do at level 80.

One way you can look at it is that the Experience bar on my toons is a representation of my personal Enjoyment bar. The more it moves, the more fun I have. Once I ding and that bar resets I’ve got a whole new bar full of fun to go play around with. But once that bar stops moving, so too does my enjoyment with that character. Now, I do have an exception to that which is raiding with my guild, but I only do that on one of my toons. Right now that one toon happens to be my Mage, but he may very well get replaced with a healer before too long.

So now that you’ve got the backstory that nobody asked for let’s get down to business; shall we?

Deleting max leveled toons is something that makes most players cringe. They just can’t stand the thought of throwing away all that time and effort that it took. For me of course, it’s just another day and another toon.

Steps For Deletion
When you delete a high level toon for the sake of deleting them rather than for something like closing your account and rage quitting or whatever.

Check the Auction House: A lot of players do all of their AH business on a single toon, which is my preferred method. If that’s the case with you then you can skip this step unless (obviously) this is the toon that you do it on. The first thing you want to check is whether or not you have any gold coming in from sells. If so then you know you need to wait to delete until after you get the gold for those items. If a bid was placed then you’ll need to wait for one hour after the auction time, where a buy out will come in approximately one hour after it was purchased. For all other items you have on there you want to just cancel the auctions so that you can get the items back and then send them to another toon to sell or just vendor them.

Clear Out Your Bank: First thing’s first, you need to send all your valuable goods to another toon, preferably your bank alt or your main character, or something along those lines. If you send items in the mail then you can immediately delete the toon and still get the items in the mail, but if you put something on the AH with them then you lose any items or gold from selling them. If there are Soulbound items in there then you should vendor them all or delete them if they cannot be sold.

Everything else should be sent to another character. If you have crafting mats for that toon then you may want to take one last run through your profession to make whatever might be more profitable crafted than as raw mats. If you have any items in your bags or bank that are for quests that you can’t immediately turn in, then delete them.

Spending Currency: The first thing you want to do is take advantage of all your currency. That means raid/heroic emblems, stonekeeper shards, honor points, etc – basically everything except for your gold. Spend it either on things that you can sell or things that can benefit your other characters. In my case I spent my emblems of Frost/Triumph on Crusader Orbs that I sent to my bank alt to sell on the AH. My Stonekeeper’s Shards and Wintergrasp Marks were turned into Wintergrasp Commendations which bind to your account and grant 2,000 Honor when used.

I used the honor tokens to bump Psynister’s honor to get close to a multiple of 10,000 and then ran one quick battleground for enough honor kills to get the last 250’some honor to bump me over the 10k mark (50k in his case) rather than spend one of the commendations for 2k and then not use 1,750 of it. The honor points were then used to purchase epic gems from the vendor in Stormwind which I sent as raw gems rather than cutting them myself before I deleted him.

Also, since Psynister was a 450 Jewelcrafter I did his daily JC quest and turned the token in for a Dragon’s Eye that I also sent to have auctioned since the gems you cut from it all bind on pickup. The final currency he had available to him was the gold itself which I did not spend since it can be spent by any toon.

Selling Your Gear: Deleting a character with all their gear on is like throwing away gold, so be sure to find yourself a vendor and sell everything you’re wearing that’s not transferable to another toon (such as BoA Heirlooms). The whole point here is to not waste resources. You might be deleting the character and thus “wasting” the time and effort put into the character, but for me I got paid back for that with entertainment and the rest is just icing.

Mail Your Spoils: Finally you need to send everything you’ve got left to another character. I personally use my main character as my AH character and have my bank alt simply hold things for me so that I’m not bothered with logging into them all the time. Send everything that you kept from your bank/bags and everything that you got from cancelling auctions and so on, but don’t send your gold just yet.

Sell Your Bags: We’re here to milk it for everything it’s worth so be sure to sell your bags after you’ve gotten rid of all of your other items. If your bags aren’t soulbound then you can send them in the mail as well, otherwise you’ll need to just vendor them.

Send Your Gold: And finally you need to send all of the gold that you have to your other character as well.

Now that all of your resources have been spent and all your goods have been sent off to other characters to hold or dispose of, it’s time to get down to business and delete the toon. All it takes is a quick log out, click the delete button, type in the word “delete” to confirm, and then click on “Ok”. It’s as simple as that.

To give you a better idea of how it’s done I went ahead and put it into a video for you. I realize that the audio in the video is insanely low compared to what it was when I uploaded it, so something apparently went a little off during the upload or something. I might fix it, might not. Anyway, my apologies for the crappy sound.


Posted by on June 2, 2010 in Death Knight, Guide, World of Warcraft


DK Leveling: Unholy DPS (58-80)

Although I really enjoyed leveling my Death Knight as a Frost Tank, I haven’t found much joy overall in playing him as a tank once he got to level 80. Instead I generally run around in an Unholy DPS spec either solo questing or running random heroics.

Introduction to Unholy
When I wrote the Play Styles: DK’s for Spellcasters article a lot of people wanted to know why in the world I didn’t write about Unholy instead of Frost. Several people simply dismissed it the second they saw that I was writing about Frost. The reason for their questions/disagreement with that is because of all three trees Unholy deals the most magic-based damage. The reason why I didn’t write that article from an Unholy perspective is that while Unholy deals the most magic damage the majority of their attacks are actually physical attacks that simply add magical damage.

Unholy is a melee spec which deals excellent AoE damage by establishing multiple diseases, spreading them around, and then having each damaging tick of their diseases potentially act like a miniature version of the Shaman’s Fire Nova thanks to the Wandering Plague talent which we’ll discuss in a bit more detail down below. After our diseases are spread we go into full melee mode using spells and abilities that generally deal more damage or have stronger effects based on the number of diseases on the target, and Unholy is the only spec that gets a third disease.

Unholy also gets the benefit of a permanent Ghoul pet which we can control the actions of and our talents significantly increase the ghoul’s effectiveness in combat. And while Army of the Dead is often frowned upon by tanks and DPS who aren’t used to dealing with a group of constantly-taunting mobs, Unholy brings a reduced cooldown to it which allows more frequent use of it. I don’t often suggest using it in PUGs or randoms, but my guild personally uses it on every boss fight in ICC-10 with no threat issues after the Army’s duration is up.

Playing an Unholy Death Knight
Playing a DPS Death Knight is much the same as playing any other melee DPS class in the game, with a few exceptions. When in combat you’ll always want to be behind the mobs, you want to make sure your Ghoul’s not on aggressive and pulling mobs instead of the tank, and you want to remember the tool set that you have and what you’re capable of bringing to the group.

You have tools to silence/interrupt, you have taunts, you have ranged spells that can either slow or kill fleeing mobs, you have Death Grip to peel mobs off of your healer if the tank’s not capable of doing it himself, you have spells such as Path of Frost and Horn of Winter to buff and assist your party members, and so on.

You also need to remember that while you wear plate armor and every talent tree in the current patch is “capable” of tanking, that you’re not a tank. You can fill that role for a short time, but that’s not what you are or what you’re there to do, and most likely not what you’re geared for either. Focus on the tank’s target so that you’re not stealing agro, unless you’re peeling a mob off of the healer. Unless you’re asked to be an off tank for some reason your goal is to assist the tank in killing his targets.

In many ways you’re like a DPS Warior with all the melee that you’ll be doing. In some ways you’re still similar to an Affliction Warlock, focusing on keeping your DoTs up at all times and using your Ghoul to assist in combat. You’re a hybrid in that your class isn’t tied to a specific type of combat and in how much you can bring to the group if you’re willing to embrace the diversity that’s offered to you.

Another thing worthy of being mentioned is that Death Knights have their own form of weapon enchanting. It’s sort of similar to the Shaman’s weapon enhancements in that you have several options to choose from and that they help with different aspects of the class, but they’re completely different in that they are actual enchants you put on your weapons rather than 30 minute buffs. Runeforging takes the place of normal Enchantments, so you’ll be enchanting your own blade (no material requirements) rather than relying on the Enchanting profession. More on Runeforging below.

Talent Spec and Glyphs

Levels 55-58 Levels 59-68 Levels 69-80

[Update: It’s been mentioned several times now, in comments, on twitter, in other posts and forums, etc – that On A Pale Horse (20% faster Mounted Speed, doesn’t stack) is the “greatest leveling talent ever” and there is much shock in me not suggesting that you take it. There has also been mention of Improved Unholy Presence () and why I didn’t take it either. So I’m going to put the reasons up here in the main post, right below the talents, so that you see why I didn’t bother suggesting either of them:

On A Pale Horse:
It’s an excellent talent, don’t get me wrong. It helps you quest faster and it helps you gather faster, the only drawback is that it has no impact at all on your DPS, and it doesn’t stack with any other movement increasing effects. You’ll also see that while I don’t tell you to spend points in the talent, I never tell you not to either, and in fact I do suggest it at the end of this section as an alternative talent.

When I leveled my DK I did so specifically to find the best way to not suck at playing the class in groups so that I could tell people how to get away from the “Death Knoob” label since so many people that play this class suck at it. The best way to do that was to do the majority of my leveling via LFG, and when you’re in dungeons your mounted speed means nothing. OaPH has no impact on your performance, but it can save you a some time.

OaPH is an unnecessary talent. It’s nice to have when you’re able to make use of it, but it’s not required and during the times that you can’t use it it’s worthless. Technically it’s still got some potential when you can’t mount because it also reduces stun/fear effects by 20%, but they’re rarely used so I don’t much care.

If you want to take it, by all means go right ahead. I generally take it myself. However, it’s not crucial, it’s simply helpful. Do I support you taking it? Absolutely. Do I suggest it? Not really, no. Since you can switch to Unholy Presence at any time once you’ve got it, you’re missing out on a whole 5% speed. If it stacked, I’d take it every single time, but since it doesn’t I’m not too worried to be quite honest.

Improved Unholy Presence: You get to keep your +15% movement speed regardless of which presence you’re in. It’s really cool to be able to move faster on your feet all the time. The problem is that once again it’s not necessary. If you need the speed boost then you can just switch to Unholy Presence and you’re golden. Movement in combat isn’t very important while you’re leveling, it really only matters in raids.

Of the two, I definitely consider this one to be the least important. Not to say that it isn’t helpful, because it certainly can be, but again it’s not required.

There you have the individual breakdowns of the spec for each of the level brackets that I broke it down into. As for when/where to put the points, here’s a textual break down for you.

Starting Area (55-58)
In the starting area you’re going to get a boat load of talent points as your quests reward them to you to make up for the 54 levels you get to skip for rolling a DK in the first place. Rather than having a horrendously long list of descriptions and everything I’m just going to list off how I suggest you spend your points, and in what order, and then I’ll highlight the ones of particular note. The setup here will be Talent_Name (Pts). If there’s a (+Pts) then it means that we’ve already put points into that talent and we’re now adding more points to it.

Vicious Strikes (2), Virulence (3), Ravenous Dead (3), Morbidity (2), Outbreak (3), Necrosis (2), Blood-Caked Blade (3), Night of the Dead (2), Unholy Blight (1), Impurity (4), Master of Ghouls (1), Dirge (2), Impurity (+1), Necrosis (+1), Desolation (5), Crypt Fever (3), Bone Shield (1), Necrosis (+1), Ebon Plaguebringer (3), Scourge Strike (1), Wandering Plague (3), Rage of Rivendare (2).

Ok, so that’s a lot to take in at one time, but making up for 45 levels worth of skipped talent points in 3 levels is the way Death Knights work. In your starting area only 3 of those talent points come from actually leveling, the rest all come as part of your quest rewards.

As for which ones are really key to what we’re doing, we’ll actually take a close look at those right now.

The “signature” attack of the Unholy tree is Scourge Strike, dealing a decent combination of both Physical and Magical (Shadow) damage. We improve that strike with Vicious Strikes for an extra 6% chance to crit and 30% extra crit damage (applies to our Plague Strike as well), and Outbreak which increases the raw damage by 20% (and 30% for Plague Strike).

Another signature talent point from the Unholy tree is Bone Shield, providing 20% damage reduction as well increasing the damage we deal by 2%. It makes me feel like a Diablo II Necromancer all over again, I tell you.

If you’ve ever seen an Unholy DK in a raid, you’ll notice that they often do some serious damage in AoE situations. A large part of that is thanks to Ebon Plaguebringer and Crypt Fever which gives us a third disease and also increases the damage dealt to the mobs, but we also have Wandering Plague which has a chance to proc any time our diseases deal damage to deal double damage and also deal that same amount of damage to all other mobs within 8 yards.

And finally my personal favorite, Master of Ghouls, which turns your Ghoul into a permanent pet and reduces the cooldown of your Raise Dead spell from 3 minutes down to 2, so if it dies you don’t have to wait as long to summon a new one. Along with that we have Ravenous Dead which increases our own Strength by 3% and also increases the amount of Strength and Stamina 60% (the default contribution is 50%, and 60% of 50% is 30%, so 50% + 30% = 80% of our total), and also Night of the Dead which reduces our summon cooldown by from the 2 minutes down to only 30 seconds, and also reduces the damage our Ghoul takes from AoE by 90%.

Outlands (58-68)
Now that we’re dealing with only 10 talent points we’ll get back to our regularly scheduled leveling guide and go back to descriptions:

Rage of Revendare +3 (5/5): Your spells and abilities deal 10% more damage to targets infected with Blood Plague. Also increases your expertise by 5.
Summon Gargoyle 1/1: A Gargoyle flies into the area and bombards the target with nature damage modified by the Death Knight’s attack power. Persists for 30 seconds.
Morbidity +1 (3/3): Increases the damage and healing of Death Coil by 15% and reduces the cooldown on Death and Decay by 15 seconds.
Necrosis +1 (5/5): Your auto attacks deal an additional 20% Shadow damage.
Butchery 2/2: Whenever you kill an enemy that grants experience or honor, you generate up to 20 runic power. In addition, you generate 2 runic power per 5 seconds while in combat.
Subversion 2/3: Increases the critical strike chance of Blood Strike, Scourge Strike, Heart Strike and Obliterate by 6%, and reduces threat generated while in Blood or Unholy Presence by 16%.

Finishing off RoR gives us more damage and more expertise while also helping to open up Summon Gargoyle. The Gargoyle used to be really close friends back in the day when he was a lot further up the tree, now he’s not quite as shiny being on the tip of the tree. But, he’s a good boost to your DPS especially during boss fights, just make sure you use your trickets and such to boost your Attack Power before you summon it so that he’s more powerful.

We also finish off Morbidity to pump up our DC damage since it’s our main runic power dump and to reduce the cooldown of D&D for when we’re running with a group, and we finish Necrosis to boost our auto attack damage as well.

We then slide over to the Blood tree for Butchery so that we keep a hefty supply of RP for casting Death Coil and Corpse Explosion (if you get it), as well as Subversion to further increase our damage as well as reducing our threat.

Northrend (68-80)
Subversion +1 (3/3): Increases the critical strike chance of Blood Strike, Scourge Strike, Heart Strike and Obliterate by 9%, and reduces threat generated while in Blood or Unholy Presence by 25%.
Two-Handed Weapon Specialization: Increases the damage you deal with two-handed melee weapons by 4%.
Bladed Armor 3/5: Increases your attack power by 3 for every 180 armor value you have.
Dark Conviction 5/5: Increases your chance to critically hit with weapons, spells and abilities by 5%.
Corpse Explosion 1/1: Causes a corpse to explode dealing Shadow damage to all enemies within 10 yards. Will use a nearby corpse if the target is not a corpse. Does not affect mechanical or elemental corpses.

We’re going to finish off Subversion for increased crit on BS and SS, and most importantly to reduce our threat while in Blood Presence (which you should be) or Unholy Presence. As an Unholy DPS spec you’re going to use a two-handed weapon rather than duel wielding so we’re picking up 2H Weapon Spec for additional damage as well as Bladed Armor so that our armor contributes to our attack power as well. And you can never have enough crits when you’re playing DPS, so Dark Conviction adds a little more frosting to our DoKnut (don’t ask me where that came from, I just thought it up).

The final point at level 80 I have placed in Corpse Explosion because we all know how much I love AoE. If you don’t like it, don’t take it. That last point can go anywhere you want it to. You may want another point in Bladed Armor, you may want to pick up Rune Tap or Vendetta for more survivability, you may want to ride faster with On a Pale Horse, or any number of other things.

Unholy DPS Glyphs

Major Glyphs
Glyph of the Ghoul: Your Ghoul receives an additional 40% of your Strength and Stamina.
Glyph of Disease: Your Pestilence ability now refreshes disease durations and secondary effects of diseases on your primary target back to their maximum duration.
Glyph of Death and Decay: Damage of your Death and Decay spell increased by 20%.
Glyph of Dark Death: Increases the damage or healing done by Death Coil by 15%.
Glyph of Icy Touch: Your Frost Fever disease deals 20% additional damage.
Glyph of Plague Strike: Your Plague Strike does 20% additional damage.

My first choice for a major glyph is Ghoul as it gives another 40% (of the base 50%, which is 20%) of your Strength and Stamina to your Ghoul, which when combined with our talent points means our Ghoul gets 100% of our Strength and Stamina, so now he’s Super Ghoul! *cape blowing in the wind* and he’s pretty freaking mean.

Since Unholy will actually use Death and Decay in AoE rotations, a flat 20% increase in damage done is good. I didn’t bother with D&D much while questing, but I did use it in dungeons. If you’re going to do runs then you probably want to consider this one, but if you’re flying solo while you level then there are better options for you (such as Dark Death or Plague Strike). I happen to like dungeon runs, so I use this one myself.

Another solid choice is Disease which is going to help us make sure that all of our diseases stay up all the time as long as we use Pestilence before they wear off. It’s not a critical glyph to have, but it’s definitely useful.

If you’re more into solo play then you’ll want to take a look at the damage increasing glyphs such as Dark Death, Icy Touch or Plague Strike.

Dark Death buffs the damage of our primary Runic Power dump, Death Coil, which can also be used to heal your Ghoul (or yourself if you pick up Licheborne from the Frost tree). I personally use Death Coil a lot so I support the use of this glyph.

Minor Glyphs
Glyph of Raise Dead: Your Raise Dead spell no longer requires a reagent.
Glyph of Pestilence: Increases the radius of your Pestilence effect by 5 yards.
Blood Tap: Your Blood Tap no longer causes damage to you.
Corpse Explosion: Increases the radius of effect on Corpse Explosion by 5 yards.

My top choice for minor glyphs is Raise Dead because our pet has a lot of DPS to offer and we want to be sure it’s around whenever we need it and not just when there’s a useful corpse nearby. Sometimes it’s going to die, sometimes it will be unsummoned for whatever stupid reason, and sometimes you might have to sacrifice him for an emergency 40% heal. For times like that you don’t want to have to worry about whether or not you’re packing enough Corpse Dust, so remove the reagent and never worry about it again.

Next up is Pestilence to increase the radius range of Pestilence so that our diseases can spread farther. It’s not quite as important in solo play unless you’re using it to help you pull more mobs, but in dungeons it’s great.

Blood Tap normally costs 6% of your base health when you use it, but using this glyph makes it free. Don’t make your healers angry by taking avoidable damage. It might not be a whole lot of damage, but it’s damage you don’t have to take.

The Corpse Explosion glyph is for those of you who have taken the spell and like to make use of it. It widens the AoE area of CE which is a big deal when using the spell because it’s centered wherever the corpse it targets happens to be, which is not always optimal for you. If you use CE then this is a solid choice for you, otherwise forget it exists.

The Rune you want to start with when you first get your character set up is the Rune of Cinderglacier, giving your weapon a chance to increase your damage by 20% for your next two attacks that deal Frost or Shadow damage, which is a very nice burst DPS rune when it procs. Some people prefer Rune of Razorice for a small but consistent DPS increase as it deals 2% extra weapon damage as Frost and increases vulnerability to Frost attacks. I like Razorice for Frost Tanking, but I’m not such a fan otherwise, so I suggest you go with Cinderglacier.

Somewhere in your late 60s or early 70s (I can’t find the reference online for some stupid reason) you’ll be able to train Rune of the Fallen Crusader which will proc on weapon swings to heal you for 3% of your total health and increase your total Strength by 15% for 15 seconds. This will be your DPS Runeforge from that point on. Actual enchants such as Berzerking can beat it’s overall DPS boost until you get about 650 Strength, but since Runeforging requires no mats and you may be upgrading your weapon frequently, I suggest you stick with runes.

Enough with the details, let’s talk about leveling.

Leveling in the DK Starting Area (55-58)
Rotation 1: Icy Touch, Plague Strike, Blood Strike, Blood Strike, Death Coil (Corpse Explosion), Icy Touch, Plague Strike, Death Coil (Corpse Explosion)
Rotation 2: Icy Touch, Plague Strike, Pestilence, Blood Strike, Icy Touch, Plague Strike

Our starting area is simple, and for the most part fairly easy as well (which is why our rotation is to faceroll). Some of the quests are a bit harder than others, such as the vehicle combat quests (if you’re not familiar with vehicle combat) and the dreaded Bloody Breakout quest which is easily the hardest quest in the starting area as you face an elite spellcaster after growing used to fighting mobs that either don’t fight back or are so weak that even if they do fight back you wouldn’t care.

There’s also an often annoying quest called How To Win Friends And Influence Enemies which has you equip a pair of one handed swords and go beat on Scarlet losers until they tell you their secrets. How quickly you get this quest done is completely and totally random. I’ve had it done on the very first mob I attacked, and I’ve gone through 2 hours of constant grinding before it happened. My suggestion for this quest is that as soon as you get those two swords head back to Ebon Hold and use your Runeforging on them. If you’re going to have to grind for potentially two hours, you might as well make it go as quickly as you can. Also remember that it’s the melee attacks that apply the debuff that makes this quest happen, so don’t use Icy Touch or Death Coil during this quest, stick to melee attacks. I suggest you use Blood Strike x2 > Death Strike x2 > Auto-Attack, and if you already have your Ghoul then put him on passive so he’s not killing the mobs you’re trying to get to talk.

Leveling In Outlands (58-68)
First Runeset: Icy Touch (F), Plague Strike (U), Blood Strike/Pest (B), Blood Strike (B), Scourge Strike (FU), Death Coil/Corpse Explosion (40)
Second Runeset: Scourge Strike (FU), Blood Strike (B), Blood Strike (B), Scourge Strike (FU), Death Coil/Corpse Explosion (40)

Unholy is all about establishing your diseases and then exploiting them by using attacks that have additional benefits from your diseases. Icy Touch and Plague Strike establish their own diseases as well as the third disease from our talent tree. With three diseases we gain an additional 37.5% Physical damage to Blood Strike and an additional 36% Shadow damage to Scourge Strike, which is why they are so prevalent in our rotations.

You also have the option of switching out any of your Scourge Strikes with Death Strike instead which will heal you for 5% of your maximum health per disease on the target, which should optimally be 15% if you have all three diseases up at all times. If you’re not at full health and the mob is about to die, finish it off with a Death Strike instead of Scourge Strike even if you’ve only taken 1% damage. You’ve got nothing to lose and only more uptime to gain by doing it.

Most mobs will not survive the first rune set, so the second probably won’t be used very much. In order to minimize your downtime you may want to use your Death Coil ability to pull another mob when your current target gets low on their health so that you can use Pestilence to spread your diseases from the current target to the new one without having to recast IT/PS. You can chain pulls like this for quite a while in the right areas, though sometimes you may not be able to do it more than once or twice.

There are also a few buffs that you want to be sure you keep up as much as possible. First off you want to be in Blood Presence when you’re filling a DPS role, even while solo questing. Second, you want to be sure that your Bone Shield is always up because in addition to being a great defensive tool it also increases your damage by 2%. The damage buff might not be huge, but it will add up. You also want to keep Horn of Winter active at all times and you may want to include it into your rotation just for that. When solo questing I don’t always keep HoW as part of my rotation so much, but I make sure it never falls when I’m in a dungeon.

You might notice that I’ve added Corpse Explosion to the rotation even though I don’t tell you in the spec to pick the spell up until level 80. The reason for that is that I don’t wait until level 80 personally. I love to AoE things to death, so I grab it as soon as I can. It’s not the best spell in the world, so most players prefer not to take it. If you took it early, add it in. If you didn’t, ignore it.

Leveling In Northrend (68-80)
Single Target
First Runeset: Icy Touch (F), Plague Strike (U), Blood Strike (B), Blood Strike (B), Scourge Strike (FU), Death Coil (40)
Second Runeset: Scourge Strike (FU), Blood Strike (B), Blood Strike (B), Scourge Strike (FU), Death Coil (40), Horn of Winter (n/a)

First Runeset: Icy Touch (F), Plague Strike (U), Pestilence (B), Scourge Strike (FU), Blood Strike (B), Death Coil/Corpse Explosion (40)
Second Runeset: Scourge Strike (FU), Blood Boil (B), Scourge Strike (FU), Blood Strike (B), Death Coil/Corpse Explosion (40), Horn of Winter (n/a)

So here we have the Runesets that you’ll use in Northrend. Look familiar? They should considering we didn’t change anything at all other than adding Horn of Winter to the end of it.

Gearing Up Your Death Knight
Your stats are basically the same as any other melee DPS character:

Hit (until capped) > Strength > ArPen > Haste >= Crit > Expertise > Agility (via @VariantAvatar)

Once you have the hit cap under control your priority is building up your Strength (1 Str = 2 AP) to get your attack power up. I see a lot of Death Knights these days stacking ArPen like crazy, but I think that’s more for Blood and Frost DPS since Unholy’s damage is largely magic based instead of physical. I’m not one to stack ArPen regardless, so whether or not you go and hunt some of that down is your call. and thanks to Variant Avatar’s comments I now know that there’s a very important reason for that.

Variant Avatar:
3. For gearing with the blood subspec you do not want to focus on Attack Power, let that come from your strength stat, as 1 str = 2 AP. You want to follow the below order:
Hit(until capped) > Strength > ArP > Haste >= Crit > Expertise > Agility

4. Unholy is partially magic based, but your magic is all based on how well and how big your attacks hit for since the last patch, which is why you see folks going to armor penetration and stacking str, to make your hits hit harder and penetrate the enemies defenses to land for bigger damage which effects your shadow damage component.

When looking for gear check with your local Blacksmiths first, then take a look at instances that are your level. You may also want to give the PvP vendors a look if you’ve bothered doing much PvP while leveling.


Posted by on May 20, 2010 in Class, Death Knight, Guide, Leveling




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