- Author: Nevermore
- Date: August 29, 2022
- Expansion: WotLK Classic
Player-versus-Player requires a bit of a different mindset compared to the PvE content. It necessitates fast thinking, fast reactions, and adaptability to each situation. This guide will go over all of your useful spells, and cover how to use them as effectively as possible.
In the sections below we will go through each ability and explain how to properly use it.
Strategy & Spell Priority
Keep in mind that every matchup is entirely different and it requires a different approach. Depending on whether you are fighting a caster or a melee physical damage dealer, your approach to combat will drastically change!
We will now go over the different strategies and spell priorities that you can use depending on which type of the encounter you find yourself in.
General Spell Priority
- Offensive: Bone Shield -> Horn of Winter -> Chains of Ice -> Gnaw -> Plague Strike -> Scourge Strike -> Blood Strike -> Blood Strike -> Summon Gargoyle -> Death Coil -> Corpse Explosion -> Death Strike
- Defensive: Icebound Fortitude (Physical Damage/Magical Damage)
- Anti-Magic Shell (Pure Magical Damage/Crowd Control)
- Anti-Magic Zone (Pure Magical Damage)
- Lichborne (Crowd Control/Self-Heal)
As an Unholy Death Knight, you are a pure caster killer. Any type of caster that dares cross your path will end up being completely obliterated. Your kit is impressively constructed: not only can you negate any effort made by a caster for at least 10 to 15 seconds, but you can also counter any type of a plan that they might concoct in general.
First of all, just like in any other combat situation, the first priority is to place your diseases on the target. However, due to how many potentially dangerous spells they have in their arsenal, you will want to incapacitate your enemy first. Depending on the distance between you and your target, you may want to use Death Grip in the beginning to close the gap. If the target is in reasonable proximity, you will want to generate enough runic power to mitigate any resistance that they might attempt.
You can easily achieve this goal by using Anti-Magic Shell, an ability that makes you immune to any type of magical effect, with the exception of Chaos Bolt. AMS will protect you against any type of spell, including diseases and curses. However, what makes it truly special is the fact that you will be immune to any form of magical crowd control while it is active. To generate enough runic power in order to use Anti-Magic Shell at the beginning of the fight, you can use a combination of Icy Touch and Chains of Ice! You can add Horn of Winter into the mix as well, if you have not used it before the fight.
Once AMS is deployed and you have placed your diseases with Plague Strike and either Chains of Ice or Icy Touch, you will want to make sure that two things happen. First of all, you should make sure that your diseases cannot be dispelled by applying Unholy Blight with a single use of Death Coil. Secondly, you will want to make sure that Chains of Ice remains active on the target to remove any kind of possible mobility from them.
If your target attempts to flee with a spell such as Blink or Demonic Circle: Teleport, simply re-apply Chains of Ice, or drag your target back to you with Death Grip.
Once your Anti-Magic Shell expires, you will want to instantly apply Strangulate! In WotLK, silence effects can’t be removed by trinkets, instantly granting you 5 seconds of total dominance over any caster. While your target is silenced, you will want to burst it as much as possible with your Summon Gargoyle and Corpse Explosion. If you are going to use Corpse Explosion, make sure that Raise Dead is available, to gain back your trusty minion right away.
The normal spell priority for a burst rotation will look like this:
- Summon Gargoyle -> Chains of Ice -> Corpse Explosion -> Blood Strike -> Scourge Strike -> Scourge Strike -> Death Coil
If your target is still somehow alive after 10 to 15 seconds since the beginning of the fight, you will want to use either Gnaw to stun them or Mind Freeze to interrupt them.
The whole idea behind fighting a caster class as an Unholy Death Knight is to prohibit the use of any magical spell in their arsenal. If a caster is instantly denied access to magic, they will simply represent cloth-wearing, easy targets.
Lastly, if you are targeted by a caster from afar, you can simply negate their efforts with Anti-Magic Zone. This ability will grant you a protective zone in which all magical damage is reduced by 75% for 10 seconds. You can use AMZ to protect yourself in case either of your crowd control spells is on cooldown, effectively mitigating your opponent’s damage and giving you time to recuperate your cooldowns or LoS your target.
Melee fights will be a bit more challenging than fights against casters. While fighting against a caster, you have total dominance over the outcome of the encounter. However, when fighting a melee physical damage dealer, the outcome is purely based on skill and matchup.
Just like with any other combat scenario, your first priority is to apply your diseases. This can be done quicker in a fight against a melee class, since you won’t need to spend your initial moments prioritizing Anti-Magic Shell.
Fights against melee classes are usually a combination of kiting your foe and being right in their face. In matchups with opponents like Warrior, Paladin, and Death Knight you will want to kite the target as much as possible. Meanwhile, in matchups against Rogues and Feral Druids you will want to be as close to them as possible.
No matter the fight you find yourself in, you will always want to start by placing Chains of Ice on your target, followed by Plague Strike to ensure that your diseases are up. Immediately after, you will want to place Unholy Blight on them — cast Death Coil to ensure that your diseases are not dispelled.
What follows after is entirely dependent on your matchup. In matchups with Warrior/Death Knight/Paladin, you will want to kite the target as much as possible and use Summon Gargoyle as quickly as possible. Your strategy is likely going to be slowly melting your opponent with your minions and diseases, while keeping a safe distance and abusing the movement speed granted by the Unholy Presence.
If one of the aforementioned classes attempts to quickly burst you at the beginning of the encounter, make sure to pop your defensive cooldowns, like Icebound Fortitude and Anti-Magic Shell, to ensure your survival while attempting to gain distance. If gaining distance from your target is not possible, spam Death Strike in combination with Empower Rune Weapon to survive their burst.
Keep in mind that Strangulate can still impact a melee damage dealer’s performance. However, it will not completely prohibit all of its abilities, only the ones that are tagged as spells.
In matchups against Rogues and Feral Druids, you will want to take a different approach, keeping close to the target by constantly using abilities such as Death Grip and Chains of Ice.
Against those classes, you will rely more on abilities like Death Strike, Blood Strike, and Scourge Strike, rather than kiting. The reason for this is quite simple: Feral Druids can escape movement-impairing effects through Shapeshifting, while Rogues can use Cloak of Shadows and Vanish to reset the fight.
Finally, if a physical damage dealer manages to get you extremely low on health, use Lichborne and Death Coil to heal yourself as much as possible.
In battlegrounds, you should never think to do solo fights, even if you are a big bad mean Death Knight! Instead, work together with your allies — literally form a “blob” as a frontline to either pick off solo targets or fight off the enemy group together.
Your role in a battleground is strictly to isolate targets and draw them into the fold! Considering that you have access to Death Grip, you are perfectly fit for the job!
Your spell priority will be exactly the same, especially in a battleground group. We advise you to always try to isolate dangerous magic casters or healers from the opposing group. By doing so, you can pick off a valuable target and instantly burst it down together with your allies without resulting in any significant loses or penalties.
Another important role for you in a battleground is as a flag carrier. Because of your plate armor and heavy magical resistances, you are the perfect candidate for the flag carrier role! Well, provided that you bring one or two pocket healers in case the situation takes a wrong turn.
Arenas work differently than battlegrounds or solo encounters. In arenas, your priorities will change significantly depending on the composition of your team.
As an Unholy Death Knight, you have the option of having multiple types of arena comps, with the general Death Knight/Healer comp being the most recommended. However, you can totally opt-in for a double DPS composition, even if it will not be the most convenient for a high rating!
If you choose to partner up with a healer, you will be the sole damage source of the comp, requiring you to adopt an attrition approach. That is, you should be spreading your diseases and applying constant pressure on both of your opponents while also keeping an eye on your healer and “peeling” for them.
Trivia: The term “peel” means to keep your ally safe by making sure that you crowd control any enemies that attempt to harm them, or by providing your ally with support abilities such as Death Grip, Chains of Ice, and Anti-Magic Zone.
When partnering up with a healer, you will have to combine your efforts in order to turn the constant pressure that you are applying to the enemy team into an opportunity for a burst-kill!
If you choose to partner up with another damage dealer, your mentality should change entirely. The best comps that you can create with the double DPS frame are usually with you as a Death Knight and another class that has the term “hybrid” in it. This can either be a Shaman, Paladin, Priest, or a Druid.
When choosing to play a double DPS comp, your goal should be immediate crowd control on a target, followed up by a powerful burst from you and your ally. Your strategy will revolve around killing a target as fast as possible while suffering as little damage as possible in the process. The reason why you will want to partner up with a hybrid class is that, if things go sideways, you will always have a backup healer!
Macros will help you fight your foes more efficiently! You will want to utilize macros in order to trigger multiple spells at the same time or to improve your overall quality of life!
The start attack macro assures you that your character will attack your target with basic attacks, no matter what spell you will utilize! You will genuinely want to make startattack macros for the majority of your spells!
#showtooltip Chains of Ice /cast Chains of Ice /startattack
Corpse Explosion Macro
This macro will allow you to easily setup your pet and force him to explode, inflicting massive damage to everyone around it!
#showtooltip Corpse Explosion /petstay /cast [@pet] Corpse Explosion
You will want to utilize this macro to quickly heal yourself through the use of Lichborne, without you requiring to swap targets!
#showtooltip Lichborne /cast !Lichborne; /cast [target=player] Death Coil
Hey can i ask why there is no Icy Touch in rotation? Sorry if its stupid question but im new in DK class. Thanks for respond
Its replaced with Chains of Ice, however you can switch them both, I use Icy Touch instead just because I rather manage the Chains of Ice differently. With that being said you don’t want to use both at the same time like Hit Icy Touch then right after use Chains of Ice because you lose both Frost Runes which take away the hard hitter Scourge Strike. If you end up using both you’ll be on cooldown and ruin the rotation. You could play it different if you’d like but it would rely on Blood Tap, so for example. Icy Touch, Chains of Ice, Blood Tap, then continue the rotation like normal, but Blood Tap is 1min cooldown.
Thank you very much for explanation 🙂
Do you not use blood tap in pvp? New to dk here too thanks
Yes blood tap is essential for converting Blood runes into death runes which count for any rune. This will help if you need another death rune for Chains of Ice if you have no frost runes available to keep and enemy slowed or you need to Death Strike to stay alive. Blood tap is your go to for when you need a rune thats on CD for an ability thats needed in that situation.
But then you’ll miss Lichborne on the Frost tree which is godly for PvP against fear and you are able to cast Death Coil on yourself for healing.
Why? blood tap isnt a talent, he doest mean rune tap.