PVE Unholy Death Knight DPS Guide

PVE Unholy Death Knight DPS Guide WotLK 3.3.5a

Welcome to the Unholy Death Knight DPS PvE guide for World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King!

This guide will teach you how to properly play an Unholy Death Knight in PvE scenarios, battling through frightening dungeons and horrifying raids. Unholy Death Knights may be one of the most terrifying allies to encounter, commanding impressive necromantic powers, laying waste to any foes in their path with both the dreadful diseases and endless armies of ghouls and gargoyles.

Wrath of the Lich King expansion granted us a new class, the first Hero Class of the game — the Death Knights. They feature a hybrid playstyle, something between a melee class and a spell caster. Their toolkit boasts of powerful diseases, crowd control and utility, strong AoE, and solid single-target damage. Unholy Death Knights, in particular, add another element to their core kit, introducing the mechanics of a pet class through the use of ghouls and gargoyles.

Unholy Death Knights can boast about maintaining the highest positions on the damage charters throughout the entirety of the expansion, being seen in multitudes of dungeons and raids.

Unholy Death Knight Strengths & Weaknesses


  • Extremely powerful AoE damage
    Unholy Death Knights are one of the most powerful specializations for AoE damage in WotLK. This is mainly thanks to their ability to spread diseases on many targets with their incredibly powerful Pestilence ability, boosted by Wandering Plague.
  • Powerful single-target damage
    Unholy Death Knights are also top-tier damage dealers in single target situations. They have solid sustained DPS, paired with some very high burst capabilities thanks to their Empower Rune Weapon and Summon Gargoyle cooldowns.
  • Fun playstyle
    Unholy Death Knights were incredibly popular back in OG Wrath, thanks to their dynamic and fun rotation & playstyle. Not only are they super cool from a thematic point of view — who doesn’t want to be a cool warrior / necromancer hybrid?! — but their runic power and disease system makes it so you never just mindlessly mash 1 button on your keyboard for maximum damage, you always have to think about what ability to use next.
  • Impactful utility
    Unholy Death Knights don’t have a lot of utility — typically, Ebon Plaguebringer will be the main thing you contribute besides your damage, and that debuff can also be applied by Balance Druids and all Warlock specializations. However, we’re by far the best at applying it to multiple targets, thanks to our Pestilence ability — which will be highly appreciated by your casters, and result in a major DPS boost for your raid during AoE fights.
  • Consistently strong for the entire expansion
    Frost Death Knights remain competitive on the damage meters for the entirety of Wrath of the Lich King — which isn’t something many specs can boast about. Many Frost DKs will switch to Unholy during the last phase of the expansion as it has a small lead in DPS output.


  • Difficult to master
    Unholy Death Knights have a very complex rotation as mentioned previously. This makes them very fun to play, but on the flipside, they’re also really difficult to master. A new player can get along just fine, but truly mastering this class and reaching your DPS potential will be a difficult challenge.
  • Low mobility
    Unholy Death Knights suffer from having little to no mobility increasing abilities. As a result, in fights with slows or similar mechanics, they’ll very commonly be stuck slowly moving towards the target, unable to reach it in order to deal damage — which is a major weakness.

Unholy Death Knight Utility

Besides their damage, Unholy Death Knights bring in the following utility tools to either dungeon or raid groups:

  • Death Grip
    All Death Knight specializations have access to this incredibly powerful spell that no other class has. It pulls a monster to you, which is very strong in PvE, allowing you to effortlessly re-position monsters as necessary — and particularly those pesky caster type monsters that don’t follow your tank.
  • 13% spell power debuff (does not stack)Ebon Plaguebringer
    Unholy Death Knights possess this must-have raid debuff, boosting your raid’s spell damage by a massive 13%. It doesn’t stack with a Balance Druid’s Earth and Moon or Warlock’s Curse of the Elements, but it doesn’t need to — we automatically apply it with our diseases, which makes us the best at applying it already. Moreover, we’re able to instantly apply it to nearby enemies with Pestilence, which gives us a major edge over the competition — your raid will love you for this.
  • Strength & Agility buff (does not stack)Horn of Winter
    All Death Knight specs provide this must-have raid buff, improving your raid’s Strength & Agility by 155 — a huge bonus. This buff does not stack with a Shaman’s Strength of Earth Totem, and they have a slightly superior version thanks to an improvement talent easily accessible in the first tiers of the Enhancement spec, so very often your buff won’t be needed. It’s still great that if necessary, you can offer this buff, though!
  • Combat Resurrection (Ghoul)Raise Ally
    Death Knights have access to a unique form of combat resurrection. They may resurrect a fallen ally, in the form of a Ghoul that they control, allowing them to keep fighting in a weaker state for 5 minutes. While this combat resurrection is not as powerful as a Druid or Warlock’s, it’s still a very handy tool.


We hope this guide has been able to help you decide if PvE Unholy Death Knight is the class / spec for you. Make sure to check out our other sections, such as talents, gear, gems etc., to get more information on how to improve your performance as a Unholy Death Knight in WotLK!


About the Author


Hey there folks, I am Nevermore and have been deeply passionate about WoW for more than a decade. Whether we talk about the hidden mysteries of Azeroth or the otherworldly Outland, my journey brought me here to share the things that I have experienced with you all.
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1 year ago

It’s a case of low skill floor high skill ceiling

1 year ago

Unholy rotation is not hard at all good lord where are you getting this stuff. if you can half way pay attention to things

Reply to  Justin
1 year ago

So similar to Frost, if you are semi-competent

1) Keeping both disease up whole time. Refreshing it with Pestilence that costs 1 blood rune.
2) Same problems with runes – 1 wrong used ability – and your DPS and rotation are fucked up. Obliterate use unholy and frost rune as well. Pestilence and Blood strike with frost talents make blood rune become death rune after refresh. So clever usage of these abilities will provide extra Obliterate. But if you fucked up somehow – your blood rune will not refresh in time – no Pestilence – no disease refresh – loss of DPS.
3) Rime procs + Killing machine procs – another things to track and use appropriate abilities with these procs if you want max out your DPS.
4) Rune power management
5) CDs management

1 year ago

Sorry, but I cant take 20 years ago andy info, to tell what we should do when 99% of the players back then, sucked.

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