Unholy Death Knight "rotation" and maximizing your damage
February 23, 2011
It’s time to cover the most common DK question I receive… Hey Jigs what is the DK rotation in PVP? Now let me start by saying I think this question is strange because it’s PVP and so much goes into deciding what ability to use next, but I get the gist of the question. PVP as a melee class is always about maximizing your damage, while staying on your target, while avoiding getting killed, and taking care of any peripheral things your class handles (offheals, dispels, interrupts, etc).
You basically always open up with [Chains of Ice]. This will apply [Frost Fever] as well as [Chains of Ice] (your main slow). You always want to start with the slow on your opponent because if they get a slow on you and then get away before you get on them with your slow you will be kited and already behind in the fight. From here you can either use [Necrotic Strike] or [Plague Strike]. DO NOT USE [Outbreak] here because you need to get your unholy runes on CD as soon as possible so that [Death’s Advance] kicks in. Personally, I will put up a [Plague Strike] so that I have full diseases on my target in case I want to use Scourge Strike. So now we have our slow on the opponent and we have two diseases up. You basically always want these three things up on your target. Leaving off a [Blood Plague] in favor of more [Necrotic Strike] is fine though.
Your next step is to get that second unholy rune moving so you proc [Death's Advance]. So now you have 1 frost and both unholy runes on cooldown. You are looking at 2 blood runes and 1 frost rune which means it’s time to convert the leftovers into Death Runes. It doesn’t matter what order you convert the runes in, but you want to use one [Festering Strike] and then either [Blood Strike] or [Pestilence] to convert the single blood rune. Our disease damage is very weak and the damage done by diseases spread via [Pestilence] is even weaker than the ones on our target so I will typically use [Blood Strike].
So now we have 4 death runes coming up and your unholy runes should be up soon. Now it’s time to dump [Necrotic Strike]s or Scourge Strikes depending on the situation. NS does more total “damage” when you add the absorb affect with the damage done up front. For example, I had a 3k NS hit with 4k absorb on a druid in caster form with 4100 resil. With SS I did a total of about 5k – 5.5k damage. I’ve started using more SS’s just to get the upfront damage out there. I do use more NS’s than SS’s in the long run.
After you run through your runes you will want to pump out [Death Coil]s with your runic power. From now on it’s easy…
* Use [Festering Strike] and [Blood Strike] to convert frost and blood runes into death runes,
* Use [Necrotic Strike] and/or Scourge Strike with every unholy rune,
* use [Death Coil] with your Runic Power, and
* refresh [Chains of Ice] when needed
That is your basic “rotation”. Here are a few things you can do with free globals…
Things to use on free globals…
[Horn of Winter] – I try to use this whenever I don’t have anything to do because it generates some Runic Power
[Outbreak] – I don’t use outbreak too often. It doesn’t generate RP and having both diseases on a target is not as vital as it was in previous seasons. When I have a free global or something is out of range to use anything else I will use outbreak. I will also use it if I want to get that second disease up for some Scourge Strikes, but don’t want to waste an unholy rune to get it up.
Help, my damage is low!!!
I see this request a lot as well. Once you have mastered the rotation above there are little things you can do to make sure your damage is where it should be. After the patch DK’s don’t do the tons of pressure that we used to. It’s been reduced, but our damage is still good when it all comes together.
- Is your gear trash? If your gear is just plain bad then you can’t really expect to do more damage than other DK’s or run around soloing people.
- Use your “on use” strength trinket with your Gargoyle. You can also use [Unholy Frenzy] if you don’t need to use it to keep teammates out of crowd control. Your Gargoyle basically takes a shot of your stats at the times its used to decide it’s strength so be sure to use the trinket and [Unholy Frenzy] before summoning the Gargoyle.
- Are you on your target a lot? If not you should work on your [Death's Advance] uptime to make sure you aren’t kited too often. If you are still stuck in CC all day it really could just be bad dispelling by your teammate. I never like to blame things on teammates when we all have things we can do better, but sometimes it is what it is.
- Stack pet transform with your gargoyle for max pressure. Get a [Dark Transformation] proc and build up enough Runic Power to get out your Gargoyle. Pop your trinket, get your garg out, and transform that pet. The combination of these will create the best pressure a DK can put out
- Don’t cap RP if possible. You don’t want to be spamming Scourge Strike while you have a full bar of Runic Power. Be sure to get out some [Death Coil]s in between rune usage. Basically you should do your best to not need to use runes while your RP bar is full because using runes has two effects… 1) the obvious damage or effect of the rune used and 2) the RP gain from using the rune. Weaving in Death Coils will also proc [Runic Corruption]
Let me know if you have any questions. Still working on figuring out the Frost rotation. Should start playing it soon enough.