Saturday, 18 December 2010

Unholy DK Specs, Stats and Talents for Levelling

Playing an unholy death knight has always been fun. When I started messing around in unholy again after 4.0 dropped, I loved the Sudden Doom and Dark Transformation warnings that popped on my screen. I loved seeing my ghoul transform from a boney thing barely hung together to a brutal globbulus abomination. Since Anyah on Twitter needed some help getting to grips with her DK after a substantial break, I thought it might be about time to look at how unholy plays now in Cataclysm.

We'll take a brief look at spec and stats in this post, but I'll mainly be focusing on the talents we have, priorities on attacks and how we can use them both to help in the new Cataclysm dungeons and the flavour that Unholy now has in Cataclysm. There'll be a resource list at the end of the post too.

Spec
I've chosen to run with a basic cookie cutter spec which I got from the ever trusty Deathknightbuilds.net. I'm unlikely to raid in unholy spec so choosing something just to get me from 80-85 in dps gear is enough for now. I've also chucked a point in Runic Power Mastery, because, well, I like it. Stats and gear wise, as someone levelling in unholy, your quest rewards are pretty much dictated to you. You have to choose plate, you'll find some comes with Int and Spirit on it. Obviously these are useless for us, we're far to clever to need any more intellect thank you and spirit? Well, we have no soul any more so that's useless. Hence, grab all the gear loaded with Strength and Stam. Yes stamina is good for levelling, it keeps you alive.

At the moment, mastery isn't much of a boon for Unholy (unlike Blood) so reforge that off if you want to. Haste is a good stat to have now and as we approach 85 you'll want to consider the hit cap. According to those maths gurus at Elitist Jerks, it looks like the hit cap is still 8%. Top three stats at 85 work out like this - Strength - Hit Cap - Haste then it's Crit, Expertise to the cap, Mastery and lastly, Agility.

Talents and Attacks
Now, onto those talents and attacks. I was concerned that as a few people had suggested, Unholy was loosing it's flavour in 4.0. Bone shield was removed and put in the blood tree. On a Pale Horse was stuck over in Frost. Well, I'm happy to say that with such things as Dark Transformation I'm not worried that we've lost the flavour. We are still bad-ass disease-ridden killing machines and as such, our diseases are still the priority.

Icy Touch and Plague strike need to be on those mobs sharpish - don't forget about Festering Strike and Outbreak too, I'll cover those in a bit more depth later on. Scourge Strike is still the big hitter but working up the RP for those Death Coils is important. A Sudden Doom proc grants you a free Death Coil, use it. 5 Death Coils will give you your Dark Transformation and turn your ghoul into a DPS monster. Whilst levelling, if I've had a DT proc at the end of a trash pack, I've been holding off on popping it (there's 30 secs to use it) until we engage in the next pack. If it's on a boss fight, well pop it baby!

Keeping up Diseases
Icy Touch and Plague Strike have long been a part of the Unholy DKs rotation. And they are still the basis of our priorities. In 4.0 (and now in Cataclysm) we are ever more dependant on these diseases to pump out the damage. Add to this two new talents, Festering Strike and Outbreak and we can see where Blizzard is putting the emphasis for Unholy DKs.

A bit more on Festering Strike then. FeS works to extend the length of your blood plague, frost fever and chains of ice effects. Essentially then, rather than hitting IT and PS to refresh your diseases, you can just hit FeS whack the mob for some weapon damage and refresh the diseases at the same time. Sounds good to me!

Outbreak sticks both IT and PS on a mob and comes with a 1 minute cooldown. It won't replace IT and PS because of this longer cooldown, but it will be handy to have for additional mobs. EJ don't seem to mention it on their latest breakdown which I guess tells you quite a bit about it's importance. Or lack of it.

So, we don't have a set rotation any more. Keep your diseases up, use Pestilence to spread them around on groups of mobs, hit Scourge Strike and use those Death Coils!

Dungeons - Now with added CC!
I like Bubbles wrote up a little post this week on the talents that DKs have that can help in the new era of CC in dungeons. For all those Wrath Babies who haven't had to use CC, it means Crowd Control. This is anything that effectively removes a mob from a fight for a period of time. If you see a CC-ed mob, don't hit it. Death Knights do not have CC tools. However, as was pointed out by Ilikebubbles, we do have interrupts and some other tools to help tanks and healers and the whole group in general.

Mind freeze - an interrupt with a 10 second cooldown and 4 second duration on the target. I have this sitting on my toolbar in handy reach as I have found it invaluable in the past. The quick cooldown means you can use it on a couple of mobs if needed.

Strangulate - another interrupt, this time with a 2 minute cooldown - not as handy imho as Mind Freeze due to it's cooldown time, but a good utility for it's silence on non-player victims.

Death grip - when used properly, death grip can be invaluable. I always ask my tank 'Do you want me to DG that caster/range/whatever into the group?' DG causes the target to focus on you for 3 seconds, thus acting like a taunt. Your tank needs to know you're going to DG a mob so they can peel them back off you. Failure to tell them may result in cranky tank. DG also acts as an interrupt and is thus very handy to use on the pesky caster at the back. You interrupt them, and gather them into the group to feel more AoE.

Chains of Ice - have you missed that mob running off to get more friends? Stick him/her on ice until the tank can catch up and you can batter them. Side note - DG + Chains is fun in BGs XDYour ghoul - Your ghoul also has interrupt skills - namely Gnaw, it acts as a 3 second stun whilst your ghoul chews off your enemy's arm.

Using these abilities will help your group through the dungeons. Using this knowledge will help at 85 because you'll know your class a lot better. And one step at a time we can break the Death Knight reputation of being, shall we say, less than clever?!

I hope these little tips have helped in some way to help you find your way to 85 with your unholy death knight.

Resources

Elitist Jerks - you know it makes sense

Death Knight Builds - full listing of all builds, take your pick.

Pwn Wear - for DK tanks, but you might want to have a look :D

Erm .. here?!


If you've got any links and good resources, please leave me a comment and I'll update the list.

Suffer Well!



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