Patch 3.1: Death Knight Changes - Unholy

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Our knights of the bug swarm, summoners of gargoyles and ghouls, heavily armored warlocks - call them what you will, Unholy is a heavily-represented Death Knight spec, favored by both those who love it for what it is, and those who love it because it makes dual-wielding better. Not for long on the latter, kiddos… Let’s see what they’ve done to Unholy.


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)

Hey, look at that, they’re trying to make Plague Strike not suck. No one’s been a bigger disparager of Plague Strike than me - removing a HoT frankly isn’t that great in PvE, and because of that PvP ability, its damage was crippled in both environments. Now it just inflicts damage and adds Blood Plague, and that’s satisfying. And yet… I probably will remain diseaseless.

Raise Dead cooldown reduced from 5 minutes to 3 minutes. The ghoul now only lasts for 1 minute. The cooldown now starts when your ghoul dies

Not a big deal for Unholy DKs, as you’ll see below, but basically we of the other two trees will only be busting the ghoul out on bosses now. (Of course, that’s all I do anyway - he has an uncomfortable tendency to go aggro trash… especially on Gothik the Harvester. I watched my ghoul leap across the room to hit a knight that just spawned on Live Side.)


Unholy Blight moved from Tier 11 to Tier 5.

Swapping places with the Gargoyle. Unholy will pick this up on their way down anyway; sucks for dual-wielders (or 50/0/21) who used the Gargoyle for burst damage. The 50/0/21 build is now basically dead in favor of some variant of 51/0/20, and probably not even that with Shadow of Death being eliminated.

Yes, you read that right. See below.

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. (Previously dealt 60% of weapon damage as Shadow damage plus 81, and an additional 40.5 bonus damage per disease.)

Scourge Strike is taking the same change as Blood Strike and Heart Strike - dealing more flat damage and less of a percent of weapon damage, plus a percent per disease as opposed to a flat amount per disease. I can’t help but think that this doesn’t feel like much damage, though, for the Unholy tree’s “signature” strike.

Night of the Dead (Tier 8 ) now reduces the cooldown on Raise Dead by 45/90 sec and Army of the Dead by 5/10 min. (Previously reduced cooldown when you hit the target)

Well, Army of the Dead usually cools down by the time I get to a boss anyway… but the flat cooldown reduction just makes sense. The current way Night of the Dead reads doesn’t make a lot of sense, anyway.

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.

Good. No need to take all 5 points in this to guarantee it appears. Unfortunately this means it now doesn’t provide that 5% damage boost unless you get 5/5 in it. I suppose individual DKs will have to decide how much this matters to them.

Anti-Magic Zone (Tier 7) no longer requires a rune to activate.

Handy. Assuming it doesn’t cost Runic Power, it’s now an even better emergency ability, and one that’s easier to work into any rotation. Sweet!

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.

Ouch. One of the reasons to bother taking Unholy Aura was to increase run speed for the entire raid. On the other hand, the rune cooldown increase finally reduces the amount of time you spend twiddling your thumbs waiting on runes to cooldown if you’re using Unholy Presence. If only there was a way to get that without investing 7 tiers worth of talent points into Unholy.

Magic Suppression (Tier 6) is now a 3 point talent and reads: 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)

Flat-out magic reduction? I can hear casters crying now. It’s basically the same as it is now, and it’ll continue to see far more use for tanks, though, given as how it doesn’t have the stupid single-target-spell restriction of Spell Deflection, and the amount of magic damage flying around in raids.

Master of Ghouls moved from Tier 6 to Tier 4. It now also reduces the cooldown of your Raise Dead spell by 60 sec.

There’s a reason for this. It’s coming up shortly. This is a good combination with the new cooldown rule on Raise Dead, too.

Summon Gargoyle moved from Tier 5 to Tier 11.

Gargoyle is now the capstone talent, as it probably should’ve been all along. Sucks for dual-wielders and 50/0/21’ers, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles. Sorry ‘bout your gargoyle, enjoy your bug cloud, I guess…

Blood-Caked Blade (Tier 4) now has a 3 sec internal cooldown.

To be honest I thought it always did have an internal cooldown.

Shadow of Death removed from the game.

This was the change I alluded to above. I guess this was easier than fixing the bugs in it, though to be perfectly honest it hasn’t been that bad lately. I’m going to miss the passive bonuses from this more than the ghoul form, though.

Outbreak (Tier 3) no longer affects Blood Boil. It now affects Plague Strike and Scourge Strike.

If this ups the damage of Plague Strike and Scourge Strike by the same percentage (15/30/45%), I know a lot of Unholy DKs who are going to be seeing massive increases in the damage they deal with Plague Strike.

Nec rosis (Tier 3) now only affects main hand auto attacks. (Previously affected all auto-attacks)

Another shot at dual-wielders.

Virulence moved from Tier 2 to Tier 1.


Morbidity moved from Tier 1 to Tier 2.

It’s like a Chinese fire drill, but for talents.

New Talent Ghoul 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 Instant cast (build 9626). 30 sec cooldown.

Alright, so we get a Mend Pet that has to be slotted into a rotation, and gives our pet haste. At least it’s not channeled anymore, right? Waiting on hunters to cry foul in 3, 2, 1…

Raise Ally has a >15 min cooldown to keep it out of Arena.

I doubt I’d have time to think about using it anyway, but now I couldn’t even if I wanted to.


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