Mists of Pandaria Unholy Death Knight PvP Gearing | How to Gear Enchant and Reforge a Unholy Death Knight in WoW PVP - Season 13 Patch 5.2

by Archive // April 11, 2013


This guide is a collaborative effort with Ayra and Nytemare, produced by SkillCapped. All of our written guides are available for free, and we encourage you to post them wherever you’d like as long as you use a link back!

Table of Contents

  1. Stat Priority
  2. Adjusting Stats As You Grind
  3. Optimal Final Stats
  4. Getting Started
  5. Honor Gear
  6. Conquest Gear
  7. The Best Unholy Death Knight PvP Gear in Season 12
  8. Unholy Death Knight PvP Professions


Stat Priority For Unholy Death Knights


Melee Hit is by far the most important stat for Unholy Death Knights, and yet its importance is often times overlooked by the Death Knight PvP community. The hit cap for melee/ranged classes in PvP is 3%, and until you have reached the 3% threshold, you should make obtaining Melee Hit your number one priority.

The 3% threshold ensures that all of your Special Attacks, or Yellow damage numbers as they appear on screen, will never “Miss.” Auto attack damage, or White damage, still has a chance to miss on level 90 players. The amount of Melee Hit necessary to ensure all white damage lands on your target is extremely high, and does not warrant the loss of other secondary stats. Anything over the 3% hit cap will have a negligible impact on damage output, and thus, is a waste of secondary stat allocation.

You may notice that Melee/Ranged Hit required is much less than the amount of Hit necessary for Spell Casters (3% Melee Hit compared to 6% Spell Hit required). The differential is due to physical damage classes having the additional requirement of Expertise.  The current Expertise cap is 3%.

Ideal Stat Gains

These are the stats you will focus on once you have achieved 3% hit. In this section, you will find a list of stats along with their descriptions; stats are ordered based on their importance. While gearing, you should focus on achieving the following stats based on this priority hierarchy:

  • PvP Resilience
    • PVP Resilience reduces the damage your opponent does to you. In a PvP scenario, increasing your damage is amazing, but decreasing the amount of damage you take can dictate how a PvP scenario plays out. You can’t do damage if you’re dead!
    • Death Knight survivability can sometimes be an issue in Mists of Pandaria.  While Death Knights have access to some strong defensive cooldowns, such as [Anti-Magic Shell], [Icebound Fortitude], and [Anti-Magic Zone] when talented.
  • PvP Power
    • PVP Power increases all of your damage against other players. This additional damage increases linearly and does not fall subject to diminishing returns, making this stat more and more effective as you gear your character. We won’t get into the calculations, but PvP Power is point-for-point better than any other stat you can get in terms of damage output in WoW PvP’s current state.
  • Strength
    • Strength increases your Attack Power.
    • As a Unholy Death Knight, Strength will increase your damage done by a considerable margin as you gear your character. Since Strength adds to your attack power, one of the more prominent statistics in terms of damage output, achieving the highest Strength levels possible will maximize damage output.
  • Haste
    • Haste increases a Death Knight’s attack speed, resulting in more melee attacks per second.  This leads to faster rune generation, along with the added benefit of more [Sudden Doom] procs.  Haste also increases the attack speed of your various ghouls, particularly beneficial when your [Summon Gargoyle] and [Dark Transformation] are active.
  • Mastery
    • Unholy Death Knight mastery, [Mastery: Dreadblade], increases all Shadow damage dealt.  As our name implies, Unholy Death Knights do a significant portion of their damage via various shadow strikes and spells (including our diseases), and [Scourge Strike] adds up to a significant amount of shadow damage.  Increasing all of this damage by a larger percentage as you stack Mastery will net a large boost to our overall damage output.  Mastery should be weighted heavily.
  • Critical Strike
    • Critical Strike, or Crit, increases your chance to do double damage to your target.  However, much of a Unholy Death Knight’s damage output comes from Damage over Time effects, limiting the benefit of Crit.  Critical Strikes from your [Summon Gargoyle] can add some serious burst, but allocating into other secondary stats is more appropriate.

Stat Priority

Hit(3%) > Expertise(3%) > PvP Resilience > PvP Power > Strength >
Haste > Mastery > Crit

Note: We left out Stamina, as there will never be a situation where Stamina is better than any of these stats. Thus, you should never be Gemming or Enchanting Stamina on your gear.

In terms of the stat priority.  There was a bit of a split between whether Haste > Mastery or vice versa.  While Mastery will increase your damage by a considerable margin, Haste ensures you’re able to link skills in faster succession, which could prove the difference in the match.  It will boil down to personal preference as to which fits your play style and comp more appropriately.

Adjusting Stats As You Grind

Here we will be explaining exactly how to obtain, and what the optimal gear choices are while building up your character. While you are accumulating gear, it is important to recognize that until you have your completed set, your stats will constantly be changing. It is extremely important to be mindful of what stats are most important for your class as you work towards your optimal set, and make item selections based on what will have the most profound impact on your performance.

  • Make sure you are always at 3% hit rating. If you are below 3%, swap out a gem in favor of a Hit gem, or reforge some Haste or Mastery into Hit until your gear improves.
  • Always try to accumulate as much PvP Power and Resilience as you can until you are in the best gear Season 13 offers. While you are gearing, how much damage you do to players, and how much damage they do to you, is significantly different than if you were in full gear, so it is not advised to prioritize Strength where you could get additional PvP Power and/or Resilience.

Optimal Final Stats For Unholy Death Knights

These stats reflect what we have researched and believe to be the best obtainable stats for Season 13 using Conquest gear with the Elite gear set. These stats are here to give you a benchmark as you work towards completing your gear set.

  • Hit: 1,099
  • Expertise: 1,192
  • PvP Resilience: 9,735
  • PvP Power: 10,892
  • Strength: 13,806
  • Haste: 6,713
  • Mastery: 4,295
  • Crit: 4,019


Getting Started

This section is geared towards people who have recently hit 90 for the first time, or have an under-geared alt that needs to be primed for beginning the PvP gear grind.

Upon achieving level 90, we do NOT advise you to just jump into an Arena, or start grinding Battleground’s, or do any sort of PvP for that matter fresh off of leveling in your leveling items. Chances are many of the enemies in a Battleground will significantly out-gear your fresh level 90, which means they will have a significant advantage over you in a PvP setting. Something that we promise will save you a lot of grief, speed up your grind, and make your PvP experience that much more enjoyable would be to obtain the crafted PvP gear right away. Here is a list of all of the items you should immediately obtain before you start PvP’ing in Mists of Pandaria:

Tip: It is normally much cheaper to get the materials for these items yourself and have someone craft them for you, rather than buying them off of the Auction House. Even if you just buy the materials off the Auction House and spam trade, it’s normally cheaper. Always check first for good deals on the Auction House, though!

Honor Gear

Should I get the Honor Gear?

The short answer: 0/2 Malevolent Season 12 conquest gear is roughly in-line with Malevolent Season 13 gear. 1/2 and 2/2 upgraded Malevolent Season 12 gear is better than Malevolent Season 13 gear. Don’t get the honor gear this season for any conquest pieces you upgraded in season 12.

The detail: Not only is there a new arena season in patch 5.2, but also new PvE content. Blizzard did not want Honor PvP gear to have the same (or higher) item level as the PvE gear available from the Looking For Raid system. The decision was made to reduce the item level of the Malevolent Season 13 gear available for purchase, while increasing the Stamina, PvP Power, and PvP Resilience values to offset the differential. Season 12 gear that was earned last season is not effected by the change.

If you did not participate in Season 12, honor gear should be accumulated to increase your characters power. The stat differential going from the Crafted Dreadful set to Malevolent Season 13 gear is significant and will greatly increase you chances of success in a a PvP setting.

Malevolent season 12 gear that was not upgraded is essentially in line with the Malevolent season 13 gear. The differential between 0/2 upgrade Malevolent season 12 and Malevolent season 13 gear is minuscule, if any differential at all, so it is NOT NECESSARY to upgrade. If you have any upgraded season 12 gear (1/2 or 2/2), those pieces will be superior to the lower item level gear available for honor and those items should be retained.

What Honor Gear to Get, and What Order

If you did not participate in season 12, you should upgrade your gear using the Malevolent Season 13 set available at the honor vendor. Below you will find a list of all of the honor gear pieces you can obtain. They are listed in order of their stat benefits to you. That is, if you go follow this list in order, you will get the best stats first. This is not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things, but we feel if you are going to gear up, you might as well do it in an efficiently as possible.

Please Note: This order assumes you have acquired your Crafted Dreadful set, or at the very least you are at or slightly above the 3% hit cap. If for whatever reason you chose not to craft or purchase the Dreadful set, be sure to maintain your 3% hit cap. This may mean you must reforge away from some of your more favorable damage secondary stats temporarily.

If you already own the Season 12 equivalent of this gear, simply skip over that item and proceed to the next!


Hit cap will be achieved when you accumulate [Malevolent Gladiator's Dreadplate Gauntlets], [Malevolent Gladiator's Signet of Accuracy], [Malevolent Gladiator's Signet of Cruelty] and [Malevolent Gladiator's Choker of Accuracy].

Conquest Gear

What Conquest Gear to Get, and What Order

This season, there are two tiers of conquest gear. In hopes of creating a more level playing field, Blizzard has decided to do away with rating requirements for all items (except for a weapon enchant to help differentiate players that have attained a high rating). This means that all players will have access to the best PvP gear available, provided they earn enough conquest points to purchase the items.

The second tier of conquest gear, or “elite” gear, is only available for purchase once you’ve amassed a certain number of conquest points for this season. Once 27,000 Conquest points are earned, it will unlock the “elite” tier gear. It is also important to mention that a new honor quartermaster will also be made available, which will have the non-elite gear available for honor points! This will be of particular value to hybrid classes, as they can participate in Battlegrounds to purchase their off-set PvP items.

Please Note: The order below assumes you have acquired your Honor set, or at the very least you are at or slightly above the 3% hit cap.

If you have a mix of upgraded and non-upgraded gear from last season, prioritize the gear that has NOT been upgraded. The stat gains will be greater.


Hit cap will be achieved when you accumulate [Tyrannical Gladiator's Choker of Accuracy], [Tyrannical Gladiator's Dreadplate Gauntlets], and [Tyrannical Gladiator's Signet of Accuracy].

Chest – 2,250 Conquest Points

[Tyrannical Gladiator's Dreadplate Chestpiece]

  • Best Gems
    • Red: [Resplendent Vermilion Onyx]
      • With burst damage extremely prominent this season, PvP Resilience offers extra security by reducing the incoming damage enemy players can dish out. The Strength provided by this gem also adds to our own damage output.
    • Yellow: [Mystic Sun's Radiance]
      • PvP Resilience gems upgrade our survivability. Our contributors feel that stacking PvP Resilience will give players the best chance for success in PvP this season. After all, you can’t do any damage at all if you’re dead!
  • Best Enchants
  • Reforge
    • From Crit to Mastery

Head– 2,250 Conquest Points

[Tyrannical Gladiator's Dreadplate Helm]

  • Gems
  • Enchant
    • Head enchants were taken out of the game in Mists of Pandaria!
  • Reforge
    • From Mastery to Haste

Weapon – 3,500 Conquest Points

NOTE: this item has the same item level as the fully upgraded ELITE weapons available last season (ilvl 498). It is advised you skip this item if you were able to acquire the Elite weapons last season.

[Tyrannical Gladiator's Greatsword]

Trinket 1 – 1,750 Conquest Points

[Tyrannical Gladiator's Badge of Victory]

  • The On-Use trinket is preferred for PVP, as the majority of your kill attempts will revolve around coordinated set-up with your teammates. Having access to an On-Demand burst increase will help with those attempts.
  • There is a significant amount of PVP Power on the trinket as well – a Unholy Death Knight’s number one secondary stat for damage output.

Legs – 2,250 Conquest Points

[Tyrannical Gladiator's Dreadplate Legguards]

  • Gems
    • Red: [Resplendent Vermilion Onyx]
    • Blue: [Vivid Wild Jade]
      • PvP Power yields the highest damage increase of any secondary stat and should be used in Blue sockets. The hybrid gem with PvP Resilience is recommended for blue sockets for the additional survivability.
  • Enchant
    • [Angerhide Leg Armor]
      • Can be found on Auction House, or crafted by a Leatherworker if that’s too expensive.
  • Reforge
    • From Crit to Mastery

Shoulder – 1,750 Conquest Points

[Tyrannical Gladiator's Dreadplate Shoulders]

Feet – 1,750 Conquest Points

[Tyrannical Gladiator's Warboots of Alacrity]

Waist – 1,750 Conquest Points

[Tyrannical Gladiator's Girdle of Prowess]

Hands – 1,750 Conquest Points

[Tyrannical Gladiator's Dreadplate Gauntlets]

Wrist – 1,250 Conquest Points

[Tyrannical Gladiator's Armplates of Alacrity]

Neck – 1,250 Conquest Points

[Tyrannical Gladiator's Choker of Accuracy]


  • From Hit to Mastery

Ring 1 – 1,250 Conquest Points

[Tyrannical Gladiator's Signet of Accuracy]

  • Reforge
    • From Mastery to Haste

Ring 2 – 1,250 Conquest Points

[Tyrannical Gladiator's Signet of Cruelty]

  • Reforge
    • From Crit to Mastery

Back – 1,250 Conquest Points

[Tyrannical Gladiator's Cloak of Alacrity]

Trinket 2 – 1,750 Conquest Points

[Tyrannical Gladiator's Medallion of Tenacity]

  • Reforge
    • From Mastery to Haste

The Best Unholy Death Knight PvP Gear in Season 13

Elite Gear is available for purchase after earning (not necessarily spending) 27,000 Conquest Points. Any piece of gear that actually alters the appearance of your character will have an Elite upgrade (in other words – chest, helm, legs, shoulders, gloves, belt, boots, and weapon).

Remember, once you earn 27,000 Conquest Points this season, you will also be able to purchase Non-Elite Conquest gear with Honor Points! This is of particular value to hybrid classes that would like to switch specs, from say a healer, to a dps class. Instead of having to use additional Conquest Points on your off-spec gear, you can farm Battlegrounds for your gear! Note: the 27,000 Conquest Point threshold is essentially a full set of conquest gear.

Follow the same gemming and enchanting template that was used in the previous section.

Hit cap will be achieved when you accumulate [Tyrannical Gladiator's Dreadplate Gauntlets], [Tyrannical Gladiator's Signet of Accuracy], [Tyrannical Gladiator's Cloak of Alacrity] and [Tyrannical Gladiator's Choker of Accuracy].

Unholy Death Knight PvP Professions

Our goal is to give you the absolute best gear set up you can achieve as a Unholy Death Knight in Season 12, and part of that is choosing the right professions. Before we tell you what the best professions are, we should note that when comparing professions, there is a very marginal benefit to your overall gear set, and you should not sacrifice a profession you really enjoy for the sake of a minor stat increase. Leveling a new profession can be costly!

That being said, here are the best professions for a Unholy Death Knights in Mists of Pandaria PvP:


This is the best Profession for a Unholy Death Knight because of the two extra gem slots that can be used to refine your stats. Blacksmithing offers you the best customization, as you are able to increase primary stats, along with the freedom to choose various secondary stats, such as Mastery, Crit, or even PvP Power and PvP Resilience! Other professions simply do not offer this much customization for your character.

The next two Professions were a split decision between our pros, and are totally up to what you want to do.


This is our second favorite profession solely because of the glove enchant [Synapse Springs] that will increase your Strength by 1920 for 10 seconds. Great for that big burst window you set up when going for a kill. Note – [Synapse Springs] cannot be used in conjunction with [Tyrannical Gladiator's Badge of Victory], as use of one or the other will invoke a short cooldown. Utilizing both On-Use procs does, however, allow for stronger burst attempts while your PvP trinket is on cooldown.

Oh, and [Nitro Boosts] are the greatest things since sliced bread, but unusable in Arenas or Rated Battlegrounds.


Jewelcrafting allows your character to use [Resplendent Serpent's Eye] in two of your red slots.  This offers you a boost to survivability along with some added damage. [Tense Serpent's Eye] is also available to add even more damage output, if you feel your survivability is sufficient.

Good Luck!

This guide is a collaborative effort with Ayra and Nytemare, produced by SkillCapped. All of our written guides are available for free, and we encourage you to post them wherever you’d like as long as you use a link back!

We hope this answers every question you’ve ever had about Unholy Death Knight Gear in Season 12, and is used as a reference point for your quest to obtain the best PvP gear out there. Let us know if we missed anything, or if there is something you need cleared up in the comments below, and we’ll be sure to get back!

Please let us know how the article was. Were we missing anything? Do you have any further questions? Was the format useful? We always want to improve our articles, and your feedback helps!

  • 0
    17 months ago
    Where has the frost guide gone? Not everyone switched to UH.
  • 0
    19 months ago
    isn't crit better than haste?
  • 0
    19 months ago
    cuz I messed up the codes =(

    I'll fix the guide ASAP - sorry about that
  • 0
    19 months ago
    Why are you guys using agility enchants instead of strength ones?
Powered by Olark