Death Knight Talent Trees and Skills – Patch 3.1.0 – Unholy

April 19, 2009

Surazc – Death Knight Tank

With 3.1 upon us, I have dove in and looked around at all the changes with the current build. Here I will be giving you my take on each of the changes for Death Knights tree by tree.

Doesn’t matter who smelt it, YOU dealt it! It’s stinky, toxic, and will kick major ass. That’s right! It’s time to talk about…


Is the hot chick at the party

Unholy has been given breast implants and a cooch that emits pheromones in such volume that all DKs go rabid when they get near it. This is not an overstatement at all. I will explain why at the end of this section.

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Death Knight Patch 3.1.0 Changes – Unholy

March 11, 2009

So, for the last time in this series I’m going to say, “with the 3.1.0 PTR patch notes currently live at MMO Champion, it is my duty to share with you my thoughts on the Death Knight changes, not only from the perspective of tanking, but from the class as a whole (with of course, an emphasis on tanking).”

Now it’s time look at the third Death Knight talent tree.  It’s called:


Unholy gets to see a new level of favoritism yet unknown by the DK class with the new changes (with the exception of one MAJOR change). Let’s take a look, shall we?

  • Plague Strike now deals 50% weapon damage plus 189 and infects the target with Blood Plague, a disease dealing Shadow damage over time. (No longer removes a HoT)
  • Raise Dead cooldown reduced from 5 minutes to 3 minutes. The ghoul now only lasts for 1 minute.

The change to Plague Strike is DEPRESSING. Blizzard believes that a 20% gain in damage dealt makes up for the HoT removal in PvP? Blizzard believes that removing one of the most interesting and unique mechanics about the Death Knight is a good idea? Well then I want a stun. You heard it and saw it correctly. I want a stun. Forgive me this tangent on PvP, but this change is too serious to slip by just because this blog is primarily about tanking.

The reason that Death Knights had this wonderful mechanic is because it accomplished 3 things that all class and role designers try to do:

1. It was something only that added flavor to the class: the ability to both do damage and prevent HoTs until their disease was cured

2. It was a viable alternative to homogenization. The primary reason classes have stuns is to prevent HoTs from stacking with casted heals and kill someone before they regenerate their health

3. It gave Death Knights a unique purpose not only in a raid setting, but also in a PvP setting as well.

I understand the argument both directions. If you have too many Death Knights, then HoTs become 100% impossible because there are too many iterations of Blood Plague on everyone, by that same token, one Death Knight with pestilence can de-HoT an entire group of combatants.


If you’re fighting an entire team of rogues, and they’re communicating properly, you’re 100% screwed. Chain disables on everyone, sprints everywhere, blinds… but you don’t see rogues getting any of that removed because it makes PvP unmanageable, do you?

Back to the tanking discussion:

Raise Dead’s change is kind of necessary from the PvE viewpoint. Tanks adding DPS through a ghoul for almost the entire fight (4 minutes) is a little silly. Unholy closely emulates the warlock class and giving frost a equally viable (yet uncontrollable) ghoul is, by my own admission, pretty stupid.

  • Unholy Blight moved from Tier 11 to Tier 5.
    • This was necessary to facilitate the Gargoyle change. It also allows Blood tanks to dip into Unholy and pick up some decent AoE threat generation while DnD is down.
  • Scourge Strike (Tier 9) now deals 55% of weapon damage as Shadow damage plus 185.63, increased 9% per each of your diseases on the target.
    • I’m not quite sure what to make of this. It seems, at first glance, like a nerf… but 27% extra damage is SILLY.
  • Night of the Dead (Tier 8 ) now reduces the cooldown on Raise Dead by 45/90 sec and Army of the Deat by 5/10 min. (Previously reduced cooldown when you hit the target)
    • Neutral change. It basically just made permanent what was once stacking.
  • Desecration (Tier 7) now causes all Plague Strikes to cause the desecrated ground effect. Targets in the area are slowed by 10/20/30/40/50% by the grasping arms of the dead while you cause 1/2/3/4/5% additional damage while standing on the unholy ground. Lasts 12 sec.
    • Damnit. I was hoping this never happened. Desecration is one of those skills that you know is essential to maxing out Melee DPS, but it has the unfortunate side effect of covering the ground, and with it: void zones, plague clouds, runes, etc.
  • Anti-Magic Zone (Tier 7) no longer requires a rune to activate.
    • Finally. Now they just need to take it off the GCD and we’ll have a tanking viable cocoon of safety for magic damage.
  • Unholy Aura (Tier 7) renamed Improved Unholy Presence and changed to: While in Blood Presence or Frost Presence, you retain 8/15% increased movement speed from Unholy Presence, and your runes finish their cooldowns 5/10% faster in Unholy Presence.
    • Uh oh… you see that second part? DPS REJOYCE! YOU HAVE BEEN PAMPERED. Expect to read more on this below.
  • Magic Supression (Tier 6) is now a 3 point talent and You take 2/4/6% less damage from all magic. In addition, your Anti-Magic Shell absorbs an additional 8/16/25% of spell damage. (Previously a 5 point talent)
    • 2 more free points, 1% free magic reduction… only a buff. Too bad it still only lasts a maximum of 7 seconds.
  • Master of Ghouls moved from Tier 6 to Tier 4. It now also reduces the cooldown of your Raise Dead spell by 60 sec.
    • Now ALL unholy DKs can have pets. Shit.
  • Summon Gargoyle moved from Tier 5 to Tier 11.
    • And it was returned to its former glory damage. Why didn’t Howling Blast get the same treatment?
  • Blood-Caked Blade (Tier 4) now has a 3 sec internal cooldown.
    • Wonderful. It also procs off the damage for the weapon that caused the strike. A big nerf to DW DPS.
  • Shadow of Death removed from the game.
    • WHAT!?
  • Outbreak (Tier 3) no longer affects Blood Boil. It now affects Plague Strike and Scourge Strike.
    • Increases the damage of an already high-damage skill… I like it.
  • Necrosis (Tier 3) now only affects main hand auto attacks. (Previously affected all auto-attacks)
    • Another change in the downscaling of DW DPS.
  • Virulence moved from Tier 2 to Tier 1. Morbidity moved from Tier 1 to Tier 2.
    • Because Frost tanks will NEVER pick up Virulence and have T2 unlocked from Anticipation it is safe to assume this is purely a DPS change. Moving Virulence to T1 gives unholy DPS a decent (3% hit on spells) boost and allows Unholy DKs to completely skip Morbidity (though why they would do that, I don’t know).
  • NEWGhoul Frenzy, Tier 6, 1 point talent – Grants your pet 25% haste for 15 sec and heals it for 30% of its health over the duration. 1 Unholy Rune. 45 Yard range. Channeled. 30 sec cooldown.
    • Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb. Notice that you have to channel the skill. I’d rather have Shadow of Death for the stat increases.

Unholy Blight being moved to Tier 5 (without a subsequent nerf) makes it a top tanking talent now. You don’t have to go balls deep in DPS talents to get to the prime AoE DoT threat generation. What’s funny to me is that with all the changes to the unholy tree, there really isn’t anything there for tanking any more except for Anticipation, Bone Shield, Magic Suppression, and Anti-Magic Zone.

Unholy has transformed into the DPS tree of choice for AoE. Blood will still ALWAYS be better in the long run for single target DPS because of the changes to Blood Strike and Heart Strike. Expect to see those either changed, or reverted, before long because as they stand they are simply too good.