9. PvE damage rotations

Before you go into doing damage, it's a good idea to confirm that, yes, Blood Presence is the DPS presence for unholy as well. While in previous patches you could technically use Unholy Presence for certain specs, currently the extra damage offered by Blood Presence will far outweigh the haste of Unholy Presence in all situations.

Single Target Damage

The main thing to remember about unholy damage rotations is that they're more about priority, that is, knowing the optimal attack to use next depending on what runes are off cool down and what debuffs are already on your target. That's essentially going to go down like this:

I. Make sure your diseases are up. A lot of unholy's damage comes from having all 3 diseases up. Blood Plague is more important than Frost Fever thanks to Rage of Rivendare.
II. Make sure Desolation is up via Blood Strikes.
III. Fire off your Scourge Strike (or, if you have Reaping, multiple Scourge Strikes on every other rotation).
IV. Dump your runic power. That's usually in the form of a Death Coil. You can also use Gargoyle. As we mentioned before, be aware that Gargoyle takes a snapshot of your stats when you summon it, so it's optimal to summon it while Heroism (or Bloodlust) is active and while any buff procs you have are up. However, don't hold off summon your Gargoyle too much, or you may lose more DPS than you gain.
V. If you have a free global cool down before your runes refresh and not enough runic power for another Death Coil, this is a good time to refresh Horn of Winter. You may need the runic power later anyway.

For a non Reaping build, a common "rotation," assuming no hiccups, will look something like this in theory crafting shorthand:


For a build with reaping, it will look more like this:


Note that if you're building up excess runic power, it may be a good idea to dump it off before you start using Scourge Strikes. Make sure Desolation and your diseases are still up, though. That is key.

AoE Damage

For AoE Damage, your priority changes a bit. Here's the breakdown for that:

I. Make sure your diseases are up. The same principles apply as in single target damage, you'll get more damage out of Ebon Plaguebringer and Rage of Rivendare
II. Make sure your diseases are refreshed and spread via Pestilence. When refreshing via Pestilence, it's a good idea to have either Glyph of Disease or use Pestilence on a secondary target so that you refresh the diseases on your initial target as well.
III. Get Death and Decay down. You definitely want to wait to put down Death and Decay until the first two conditions are met. Not only will the diseases debuffs give you more damage, but you'll give the tank time to establish aggro.
IV. Make sure Desolation is up.
V. If DnD is on cool down and Desolation and your diseases are up, use Scourge Strikes, Blood Boil, and Death Coils. If everything is on cool down and you don't have runic power, use Horn of Winter.

That will look something like this in theory crafting shorthand:

Initial throwdown: PS->IT->Pestilence->DnD->Dump

Continuing: BS->BB->SS->Dump->Pestilence->SS->DnD->Dump

Again, on all of the above, it's based on a priority system, so make sure you keep close watch over your abilities and use what works to give you maximum DPS. Above all, make sure diseases and Desolation are up at all times.

10. Glyphs

For single target damage, you'll probably want to go with Glyph of the Ghoul, Glyph of Dark Death, and Glyph of Icy Touch. Glyph of the Ghoul is definitely mandatory. Your ghoul is a significant part of your damage as unholy, so increasing its damage and survivability is a no brainer. The other two glyphs are honestly there as much because there's none that are any better for damage as any special utility they provide for unholy. They're both good, solid damage causing glyphs. Glyph of Icy Touch is deceptively powerful once you factor in the extra disease damage granted by Ebon Plaguebringer.

If you're focused on AoE Damage, swap out Ghoul and Dark Death for Glyph of Disease and Glyph of Death and Decay. Your single target DPS will suffer, but these will allow you to keep your diseases up with a minimum of work and rune usage, and will provide some extra damage to your most powerful AoE spell.

For minor glyphs, there's none that are specifically useful, but I'd recommend getting Glyph of Raise Dead for those times when even your buffed up ghoul can't quite survive an AE or attacks the wrong mob, Glyph of Pestilence to make sure you hit as many mobs as possible in those massive AoE battles, and Glyph of Blood Tap is handy in case you need an emergency reapplication of Bone Shield.

11. Gems

For the most part, you can get away with gemming for Bold Cardinal Rubies in every slot. If you still haven't hit 8% hit, you'll probably want to use a Rigid King's Amber or an Etched Ametrine instead to help meet those goals. In any case, you'll also want to stick one Nightmare Tear in your gear in order to meet the blue gem requirement for the Relentless Earthsiege Diamond. Technically the agility on that meta gem is less than optimal, but it still has the easiest to meet meta gem requirements on any relatively useful PvE DPS meta gem for death knights. If you try to use another meta gem, chances are you'll give up too many useful stats trying to gem to activate it.

12. End-game enchants

Be aware that this list does not take into account any profession-specific enchants or kits you may have access to.

Welcome to Lichborne, the weekly class column on the newest WoW class, the death knight, where we discuss PuG etiquette and Emblem of Triumph gear for the Death Knight tank, 5-man Crusader's Coliseum gear for tanks andDPS,andbasic Death Knight statistics and mechanics. You might also want to check all the other articles in our Death Knight category.

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