Unholy Again: Some Thoughts

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0/10/61 is one of the cookie-cutter builds floating around the internets for Death Knights in the brave new world that is 3.1. I’ve been trying this out, because so far I’ve been doing pretty successfully with builds that scale well with gear, and I have a few thoughts on it. Not so much any changes at all - I’m happy with the way it works - just maybe a few caveats.

  • If you’re coming from a rotation-based spec, this is going to be a bit of a wake up call. The multiple-target rotation is pretty familiar (PS > IT > Pest > DnD > UB), but the single target rotation is like a weird cross between a rotation system and a priority system. The default single-target rotation is:

SS > BS > BS > SS > RP dump
SS > SS > SS > RP dump

RP dump, in this case, is Unholy Blight if it’s not up, or Death Coil if it is. Scourge Strike, at any time, should be replaced with PS > IT if your diseases are about to fall off (including the very first Scourge Strike listed) - however, the Glyph of Scourge Strike ensures that most of the time, that won’t happen.

  • Despite the way that this build takes Improved Unholy Presence, please do not use this spec in Unholy Presence. I’ve tried it, others have tried it, even more have done the math to back it up - it’s simply a DPS decrease compared to Blood Presence. I feel IUP will shine in Ulduar due to that movement boost, personally, even if you don’t get a ton of use out of it during a 5-man or most Naxx bosses. Ulduar fights, from my limited exposure to them, look and feel a lot more mobile.

  • Learning to insert Ghoul Frenzy into the rotation - which you should every chance you get - is damn near an art form. My recommendation would be to insert it after the second part of the rotation. It’d look something like this:

SS > SS > SS > Blood Tap > Ghoul Frenzy > RP dump

Another recommendation I’ve seen, esp. for when Blood Tap is on cooldown, is to use it as the first Death Rune in the second half of the rotation, then to use our strongest single-rune nuke (Icy Touch) for the other one. I’ve not gotten a lot of practice doing this. Originally I was trying to insert it after the first round of the rotation, but that caused major slowdown with the third Scourge Strike of the second half of the rotation, as I was waiting on the second rune to come off cooldown.

  • In fact, as long as we’re on the timing issue - the timing of this build can be very weird to get down, especially the SS > SS > SS portion. You’re effectively waiting on runes to come off cooldown 2 at a time, which causes a little pause prior to the swing that those coming from rotation-only specs (including me) need a little bit to get used to.

  • Tanks these days put out so much threat that the lack of a mechanic to reduce threat may initially seem like a problem. Frankly, I’ve been running with non-Subversion builds since before 3.1, and I’ve only had one instance where even a much-lesser-geared tank couldn’t keep a threat lead over me (and to be fair, he couldn’t keep threat off of the shadow priest, or anyone else). Nevertheless, get Omen and watch it. You want to get a feel for how your tank performs when you’re in this build. Most builds prior to now have taken full points in Subversion, so running without it may be a new experience.

  • Oh, and don’t forget your gargoyle. Not that I did for two full heroics or anything. cough

In a day or two, I’ll take a look at a real experiment: I’ve been tanking as Blood-spec. Quick verdict: much better than it used to be.


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