Unholy Death-Knight DPS

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Unholy Death-Knight DPS

Post  Mundy on Wed Dec 23, 2009 8:50 am

I'll be playing a Death Knight in this project, and will more than likely be Unholy as the general consensus from EJ and Ensidia seems to be that it is the superior single-target and AoE spec.

I will likely dual-spec Frost, in case we don't have an Enhancement Shaman in the raid (for Icy Talons - +20% raid melee haste). If we end up having a reliable Enh Shaman I will then probably have my second spec as a slightly modified Unholy spec suited for AoE damage.



Advantages of Unholy:
- Unmatched AoE damage, although this doesn't seem to be as important in ICC as it has in previous tiers of content (according to EJ, I haven't stepped into ICC yet).

- Ebon Plague (+13% magic damage taken, +30% disease damage) this gives all magic-using DPS a significant boost as well as a very sizeable boost to any other Death Knights (who aren't unholy) in the raid.

- Good survivability (Bone Shield, near-passive 20% damage reduction).



The Spec:
- 17/0/54 Single-target
- 17/0/54 AoE

The AoE spec is simply some points from Necrosis into Morbidity to help prop up DnD. Both specs lack Reaping, as this is considered not worth it until one obtains the 2p T10 bonus (+10% OB + SS damage, +7% HS damage), which I'll obviously not be getting with the blue restriction.



Glyphs:
Majors seem to be mostly set in stone regardless of content, spec or gear level. I've had a look at the alternatives and the rest don't really seem to provide anything significant.

Single-target Majors:
- Glyph of Dark Death
- Glyph of the Ghoul
- Glyph of Icy Touch

AoE Majors:
- Glyph of Death and Decay
- Glyph of Disease
- Glyph of Icy Touch

Minors
- Glyph of Horn of Winter
- Glyph of Pestilence
- Glyph of Raise Dead



Optimal Rotation
The rotation changes if one has reaping, since I will not be taking reaping I will only list the non-reaping rotations.

Unholy's main nuke ability is Scourge Strike which gains bonus damage from diseases. Ensuring all diseases are up before using SS will ensure maximum dps.

Single-target
PSIT – (DC) - BSBSSSDC - HoW
SSDCSSSSDC – (DC)

Get diseases up (use PS first so that IT will take advantage of Ebon Plague), dump RP if maxed out, burn blood runes with BS, use our nuke (ss), dump RP and if there is a free GCD at the end of the rotation, use HoW. The rotation then follows the 2nd line until diseases need to be reapplied.

AoE
Initial: ITPSPestilenceDnDDCHoW
SSBSBBSSDCDC
SSPestilenceDnDDCHoW

Never DnD before diseases are up and have been spread with pestilence. Use initial rotation at start of fight and then alternate between 2nd and 3rd for duration of fight or until diseases fall off (due to movement or other boss mechanic etc).



Stats:
Death Knights are a strength-based melee class like warriors, and hence value much the same stats (STR, Crit, Hit, Exp etc).

Just like any other melee class, the hit cap (264 rating or 231 with a Draenei) is #1 priority before anything else, this also means that if you are under the cap, you should gem for hit.

Both Hit and Exp caps look like they will be quite difficult (impossible even) to obtain in blue gear without gemming for it. This will be covered below in the gemming section however.

The stat priority is as follows:
Hit (until capped) > Strength > Crit Rating > ArP >= Expertise > Haste > Agility

You need 26 expertise (6.50%) to be expertise soft capped.



Gemming:
My model death knight in RAWR that has all the BIS blues + enchants + gems + BS and JC bonuses + full raid buffs (not inc Bloodlust) + consumables has a paltry 61 hit rating. Even with 3 of the JC-only hit gems (+34 hit rating each) that leaves me 68 rating shy of the cap (I'm in the US guild which is alliance side, so I'm assuming a Draenei will be in the raid), meaing 4 more Rigid Autumn's Glow gems will be needed to reach the cap.

With the current gear I've picked out, this leaves 9 slots for other gems (2 from JC trinket, and 2 from two blue JC-crafted rings).

There are two meta choices, Relentless Earthsiege Diamond and Chaotic Skyflare Diamond. The Skyflare is easily the better gem, but it has harsher gem requirements (2 blue gems vs 1 of each color). In my current RAWR model and gem configuration, the difference between the 2 is only 3 DPS in favor of Relentless Earthsiege Diamond.

According to EJ, on some occasions, gear with no blue sockets, one yellow and any number of red sockets it is a DPS boost to use an orange gem to pick up the bonus. They are assuming epic gems though and epic-quality bonuses so this may or may not hold true for blue-level gearing. Since I will be using a large number of yellow gems anyway, this will more than likely not even be an issue.

Although my model is below the expertise cap, replacing str gems for expertise has rather large DPS penalties and hence I have not gemmed for any.



Consumables:
Flask: Flask of Endless Rage (+180 AP)
Potion: Potion of Speed (+500 Haste for 15 secs)
Secondary Potion: Indestructible Potion (3500 Armor (+97 AP from Bladed Armor) for 2 min)
Food: Dragonfin Filet (+40 STR and +40 STA)
Pet Food: Spiced Mammoth Treats (+30 pet STR and +30 pet STA)

Using Indestructible/Speed Potion just before entering combat allows you to use a second potion during the fight.



Cooldowns:
- Army of the Dead
The most optimal time to use Army of the Dead will vary from boss to boss, but is typically right before the beginning of an encounter. During a battle it is not often wise to use it as it is channeled and will lower your DPS uptime, but can be used in fights with a phase transition, where you cannot dps for a short time for example.

- Summon Gargoyle
To be used as much as possible, but attempt to use when all your procs are available, as when the gargoyle is summoned it will take a snapshot of your stats and use those throughout it's duration. It is always best to use gargoyle than miss a cooldown as 2 fully buffed gargoyles will still not out damage 3 unbuffed ones.



Professions:
Jewelcrafting and Inscription are the two professions I will be taking up. Jewelcrafting offers the best bonus to str and hit while inscription provides superior benefits to all other professions since the exalted SoH enchant is prohibited.



References:
Considering I know (or knew) practically nothing about Death Knights, most of the information in this post has come from the following two guides

Elitist Jerks - Unholy DPS | 3.3, Take Me Away
Ensidia - Death Knight DPS Guide for 3.3



Expected DPS:
RAWR calculates my raid DPS to be ~4600.



I will be updating this post/thread as I do more testing/simulation in RAWR and again once I reach level 80. Feel free to correct anything I've gotten wrong (there's bound to be something) or any of your own ideas.


Last edited by Mundy on Tue Jan 12, 2010 7:52 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Unholy Death-Knight DPS

Post  Gevlon on Wed Dec 23, 2009 1:52 pm

Great job!

I have just a few comments: for beginner DK's the abbreviations in the rotations should be explained (what is PS, IT, DC?).

If the ghoul got his own glyph, why ghoul frenzy talent is missing (I'm sure there is an answer but it seems counter intuitive to me)

Considering that we are just using blue gems, are you sure that BS is a good prof?

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Re: Unholy Death-Knight DPS

Post  Mundy on Wed Dec 23, 2009 3:18 pm

I've linked all the abbreviations to the spells on wowhead, so one just needs to click to see what the abbreviation is. I've also tried to use the full name first then the abbreviation so it shouldn't be too cryptic.

As for Ghoul Frenzy, the talent is listed as an "Optional Talent" on the EJ guide, with the advice that in most cases it will be a dps loss unless you struggle to keep your Ghoul alive.

Elitist Jerks Guide wrote:Ghoul Frenzy – This talent should only be taken if you have trouble keeping your Ghoul alive. If you do, it becomes invaluable, as a dead Ghoul is a large portion of your dps down the drain (due to 30 seconds of absolutely zero Ghoul damage, followed by your Ghoul doing reduced damage for the remainder of the fight from missing buffs). If you don’t have issues with your pet going down, then skip this talent. In nearly every case it will be a strict dps loss.
In heavy AoE fights it might be an idea to maybe pick it up for just that fight, but otherwise it seems that using the points elsewhere would be much more effective.

Regarding Blacksmithing, I believe it still will be the best proffession as the other professions don't offer anything really compelling over it. Even with blue gems, the two BS sockets will give +32 STR/hit whereas all of enchanting/leatherworking/inscription/alchemy all offer +80 AP, Skinning offers +40 crit while the remaining ones (excluding Engineering) don't offer anything useful to DPS. Using the stat weights from EJ (~3.0 for STR, ~1.0 for AP and ~2.6 for crit) , the +32 STR still wins out while the +hit is first priority (if you are under the cap) regardless.

The stat weights are calculated for ilvl 245 gear and above however, so some further testing will need to be done before making a concrete decision.

Engineering [i]may[/u] work out better, but it is difficult to measure since it doesn't have any flat bonuses like the others.

Admittedly, proffessions is something I need to look into a little more, but I still have a good amount of time remaining.

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Re: Unholy Death-Knight DPS

Post  gnomeofzurich on Wed Dec 23, 2009 4:17 pm

You should theorycraft this yourself from scratch. There is an unholy DK from a top guild in the lj community who has discussed the fact that a huge amount of the benefit of SS comes from the sigil of virulence/hanged man procs which won't be available in blues. That in fact if you don't have a sigil which procs on scourge strike, he claimed it's actually higher dps to use plague strike and icy touch and get rid of reaping for another talent. Or just to go blood. You should run the numbers, before assuming the EJ standard. Another spec (or a different rotation as unholy) may be significantly better at our gear level.

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Re: Unholy Death-Knight DPS

Post  gnomeofzurich on Wed Dec 23, 2009 4:20 pm

Also remember: inscription is more than +80 AP, since you can't use the Sons of Onan exalted enchant. And JC gives you higher benefit since you can't use epic gems (and you get some slot bonuses that you otherwise would not).

So JC/inscription should probably be the default against which you compare everything else.

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Re: Unholy Death-Knight DPS

Post  Mundy on Wed Dec 23, 2009 4:40 pm

Point taken.

I will research it a little more. As for "theorycrafting from scratch" I'm not sure I'd even know where to start =/

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Re: Unholy Death-Knight DPS

Post  Niola on Wed Dec 23, 2009 4:54 pm

gnomeofzurich wrote: (and you get some slot bonuses that you otherwise would not).

How so? The JC gems have a color themselves.

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Re: Unholy Death-Knight DPS

Post  gnomeofzurich on Wed Dec 23, 2009 8:00 pm

oops, missed that change. they used to match any color slot like the old prismatic gems.

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Re: Unholy Death-Knight DPS

Post  Chopsui on Wed Dec 23, 2009 8:46 pm

I am playing DK for this project as well and arrived at Unholy for DPS as well. Although I still am going to play around with other specs, most people noted Unholy was the least gear dependant spec, and as such should be the first place to look.

We have 3 sigil options. One improves SS base damage with 91.35, one increases IT damage by 111, and the third increases DC damage by 80.

Unfortunately the best weapon seems to be a sword (Sword of Justice), negating the orc racial bonus for axes. Haste is pretty crappy for DK's so the choice for Orc for his +pet bonus and AP racial still seems valid.

I don't have much time to elaborate on findings, but will write a bit more tomorrow Smile

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Re: Unholy Death-Knight DPS

Post  Abrogate on Sun Dec 27, 2009 1:12 am

I'm using a Dwarf DK for this project, and using the WoWHead profile feature I was able to reach 8% hit (w/o Draenei) and 26 expertise (counting Dwarf racial) in blues with one JC expertise gem and two blue hit gems. After further analyzing information on EJ I re-adjusted my profile to drop expertise in favor of strength. You can look at the profile here:

http://www.wowhead.com/?profile=19963414

To expertise cap I had the JC expertise gem in my boots, Girdle of Valorous Defeat, and Cloak of the Gushing Wound.

I'm theorizing that since armor penetration is not a stat we will have the luxury of getting on most of our gear, using a spec that doesn't utilize it as much is to our advantage. Neither our ghoul or our gargoyle scale with armor pen.

Like the OP I've opted out of Ghoul Frenzy, since most sources state it's not worth the loss of a rune + GCD, but at this low gear level I'll probably test it out at 80 regardless. I'll also give Blood a try. There's only one slow blue ilvl200 1-hander in the game that I have found, and it drops off one of the random VH bosses, so frost testing may not be practical.

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Re: Unholy Death-Knight DPS

Post  Hanibal on Sun Dec 27, 2009 2:10 am

I've been playing with RAWR a bit. I have come up with 3 builds. I wanted to try blood spec because of better self healing.

I compared:

1) "standart" blood build 51/0/20 (4572 DPS full buffed)
2) ghoul blood build 45/0/26 (4816 DPS full buffed)
3) "standart" unholy 17/0/54 (5292 DPS full buffed)

So from RAWR v2.3.4 simulation unholy seems like a winner.

Blood advantages:
- blood build gives better self healing (as death strike is part of rotation)
- provide abomination's might if needed
- provide Hysteria buff (for best mele dps)

Also for me blood seems like easier to play so I expect to do less mistakes.

So I will give blood a chance. I case of big DMG gap (not DPS) I'm willing to go unholy.


Last edited by Hanibal on Wed Dec 30, 2009 4:17 am; edited 3 times in total (Reason for editing : fixed mistake in a build and added links to builds)

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Re: Unholy Death-Knight DPS

Post  Abrogate on Sun Dec 27, 2009 2:34 am

Hanibal wrote:
1) "standart" blood build 54/0/17 (4572 DPS full buffed)
2) ghoul blood build 45/0/26 (4816 DPS full buffed)
3) "standart" unholy 17/0/54 (4999 DPS full buffed)

Blood does have a simpler rotation, have you tried plugging in a 51/0/20 Blood build and comparing that to Unholy?

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Re: Unholy Death-Knight DPS

Post  Mundy on Sun Dec 27, 2009 6:34 am

Any particular reason you chose dwarf?

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Re: Unholy Death-Knight DPS

Post  Abrogate on Sun Dec 27, 2009 9:50 pm

Mundy wrote:Any particular reason you chose dwarf?

Largest expertise bonus of the Alliance races, and a decent active tanking racial (+10% armor for 8 seconds) that also boosts DPS through Bladed Armor

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Re: Unholy Death-Knight DPS

Post  Hanibal on Tue Dec 29, 2009 10:57 am

Abrogate wrote:
Hanibal wrote:
1) "standart" blood build 54/0/17 (4572 DPS full buffed)
2) ghoul blood build 45/0/26 (4816 DPS full buffed)
3) "standart" unholy 17/0/54 (4999 DPS full buffed)

Blood does have a simpler rotation, have you tried plugging in a 51/0/20 Blood build and comparing that to Unholy?

Actually I made a mistake when I was writing here on the forum. "standart" blood build in point 1) is exactly the one you have posted.

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Re: Unholy Death-Knight DPS

Post  Mundy on Sat Jan 02, 2010 1:43 pm

http://www.wowhead.com/?profile=20638668

Played around with the wowhead profiler, this is what I have for myself so far.

I've used jewelcrafting and inscription as my professions as they provide a larger benefit over blacksmithing and jewelcrafting.

I've used a sword to take advantage of the Human racial (+expertise w/ swords).

I have a lot less crit than Abrogate managed to get, but I have 245 more attack power.

Am yet to model both in Rawr, will probably do this tomorrow night.

Comments?

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Re: Unholy Death-Knight DPS

Post  Abrogate on Sun Jan 03, 2010 3:18 am


The latest word from Gevlon is that we can use the epic leg enhancements, so you should incorporate that into your profile. A couple of your items don't seem like the best choice to me though.

You should switch the HR gem in your shoulders with the Str gem in your chest, 6 Str at the price of 6 Stam.

Also switch shoulders to Pauldrons of the Lightning Revenant. You'll lose 14 Str and 1.5 AP (through Bladed Armor) but gain 42 HR. That means you can replace one of your 34 HR gems with a 34 Str Gem and replace the 16 HR gem in your legs with an 8Str/8Hit gem, keeping your HR the same but gaining 28 Str over your current configuration.

Also, I think you could make a better choice of ring. With Kings, you receive ~115 AP from your Ring of Earthen Might. If you replaced it with Signet of Bridenbrad, you'd get ~102 AP and ~.81% crit (assuming same gem).

I considered using the JC DPS trinket but it just didn't seem worth it to me. It breaks down to ~150 passive AP and a terrible on-use. I suspect you'd be better off using Sphere of Red Dragon Blood and then gemming more Str, I haven't run the numbers though.

Here's my two current DPS profiles for comparison:

7% hit: www.wowhead.com/?profile=20611992
8% hit: www.wowhead.com/?profile=19963414

You'll notice I don't really manage to get much for my 1% hit. Right now I'm leaning towards Meteorite Whetstone over Incisor Fragment because Ghoul/Garg scale off haste but not ArPen, but that's going to come down to how much of my damage they end up doing.

EDIT - You've left a BS socket in your gloves, too.

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Re: Unholy Death-Knight DPS

Post  Mundy on Mon Jan 04, 2010 6:51 am

Abrogate wrote:The latest word from Gevlon is that we can use the epic leg enhancements, so you should incorporate that into your profile.
Fixed.

Abrogate wrote:You should switch the HR gem in your shoulders with the Str gem in your chest, 6 Str at the price of 6 Stam.
Fixed, must have overlooked that.

Abrogate wrote:Also switch shoulders to Pauldrons of the Lightning Revenant. You'll lose 14 Str and 1.5 AP (through Bladed Armor) but gain 42 HR. That means you can replace one of your 34 HR gems with a 34 Str Gem and replace the 16 HR gem in your legs with an 8Str/8Hit gem, keeping your HR the same but gaining 28 Str over your current configuration.
Yeah, I'm not really sure what I was thinking using the tanking shoulders. I went and looked over them again today and was pretty puzzled o_0.

Abrogate wrote:Also, I think you could make a better choice of ring. With Kings, you receive ~115 AP from your Ring of Earthen Might. If you replaced it with Signet of Bridenbrad, you'd get ~102 AP and ~.81% crit (assuming same gem).
Makes sense =)

Abrogate wrote:I considered using the JC DPS trinket but it just didn't seem worth it to me. It breaks down to ~150 passive AP and a terrible on-use. I suspect you'd be better off using Sphere of Red Dragon Blood and then gemming more Str, I haven't run the numbers though.
You're right. Initially I was attracted by the two gem sockets as I was under the impression I'd need a lot to reach the hit cap which obviously turned out to be false. Reading the comments on wowhead about it, the on-use is only meant to be worth a paltry 20 DPS.

Using the AP -> DPS coefficient (0.63 in ilvl 245 from the EJ post), the 670 attack power on the sphere is a 422 DPS increase (for 20 seconds). I'm assuming the coefficient would be quite a bit lower for blue-level gearing but even at 0.3 it is still far superior to the boar.

Abrogate wrote:You'll notice I don't really manage to get much for my 1% hit. Right now I'm leaning towards Meteorite Whetstone over Incisor Fragment because Ghoul/Garg scale off haste but not ArPen, but that's going to come down to how much of my damage they end up doing.
I was thinking the same thing =)

Abrogate wrote:You've left a BS socket in your gloves, too.
Whoops.

Abrogate wrote:
Here's my two current DPS profiles for comparison:

7% hit: www.wowhead.com/?profile=20611992
8% hit: www.wowhead.com/?profile=19963414
What are your thoughts on the Sigil of Arthritic Binding over the starter sigil? As Scourge Strike is Unholy's main nuke I would think that this Sigil would be superior.

With the adjustments made I've managed to squeeze out 57 passive AP and 1.04% crit as well as improve how well I should scale with buffs.
http://www.wowhead.com/?profile=20646757

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Re: Unholy Death-Knight DPS

Post  Abrogate on Mon Jan 04, 2010 10:50 am

Mundy wrote:What are your thoughts on the Sigil of Arthritic Binding over the starter sigil? As Scourge Strike is Unholy's main nuke I would think that this Sigil would be superior.

I'm torn. All of the sigils seem to be static boosts to particular spells, which means the best option will depend on the rotation. With my planned rotation I'll get 3xSS and 4xBS into a cycle. I'm not sure how many DCs will fit but it's possible that the DC sigil may be a contender as well.

PS > IT > BS > SS > BS > Dump
SS > BS > SS > BS > Dump

The damage added is all to the base of the spell, so I expect it gets improved by talents, etc. Too tired to look it over now, though.

Mundy wrote:With the adjustments made I've managed to squeeze out 57 passive AP and 1.04% crit as well as improve how well I should scale with buffs.
http://www.wowhead.com/?profile=20646757

Looks very good. I've just got one minor suggestion, if you put etched in the yellow sockets in your chest and helm and move your Bold Dragon's Eye elsewhere, you can eke out another 18 AP by making both your helm and chest socket bonuses.

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Re: Unholy Death-Knight DPS

Post  Abrogate on Sun Jan 10, 2010 9:01 pm

I've reached 80 and begun gearing up and doing some testing.

I obtained Meteorite Whetstone and have been conducting tests with it and my Gargoyle. Despite EJ's assertion that a Gargoyle inherits 100% of its master's haste when cast I was unable to get more than 15 attacks out of my Gargoyle with multiple tests on the training dummy.

Duration for Summon Gargoyle is 30 seconds, base cast of Gargoyle Strike is 2 seconds, I summoned 5 times, each time with the Meteorite Whetstone proc active (~26% haste), number of Gargoyle Strikes was 15, 14, 15, 15, 15.

In light of this, and after fudging around in Rawr, I have altered my profile: www.wowhead.com/?profile=20677849

Changed my belt, legs, boots, ring, trinket, shoulders, and some enchants. One concern I have is that this profile uses three zero Sta items which drops the health pretty low, but I think Bone Shield as well as judicious use of AMS and IBF will make it a non-issue.

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Re: Unholy Death-Knight DPS

Post  Newtron on Tue Jan 12, 2010 6:17 pm

Abrogate wrote:I've reached 80 and begun gearing up and doing some testing.

I obtained Meteorite Whetstone and have been conducting tests with it and my Gargoyle. Despite EJ's assertion that a Gargoyle inherits 100% of its master's haste when cast I was unable to get more than 15 attacks out of my Gargoyle with multiple tests on the training dummy.

Duration for Summon Gargoyle is 30 seconds, base cast of Gargoyle Strike is 2 seconds, I summoned 5 times, each time with the Meteorite Whetstone proc active (~26% haste), number of Gargoyle Strikes was 15, 14, 15, 15, 15.

How many strikes did you count without haste boosting effects? Maybe the gargoyle isn't casting every 2 seconds like you would expect. Warlock Imps don't use a smart queuing system, they apparently wait for the cast to complete and the results of the cast to be registered before casting again. At a minimum this adds server-client lag to each firebolt cast. This may be affecting other pets that have abilities with a non-instant cast time (like Gargoyle strike).
http://forums.wow-europe.com/thread.html?topicId=11824667823&sid=1

The spell is definitely 2 second base cast time, but how often is the gargoyle actually casting it, unbuffed.

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Re: Unholy Death-Knight DPS

Post  Abrogate on Tue Jan 12, 2010 8:46 pm

Hmm, interesting idea, I'll do some further testing when the servers come back up.

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Re: Unholy Death-Knight DPS

Post  Abrogate on Wed Jan 13, 2010 3:18 am

Abrogate wrote:Hmm, interesting idea, I'll do some further testing when the servers come back up.

Additional testing: Number of attacks over the 30-second Gargoyle duration.

0% Haste
9, 10, 10, 10, 10

13.28% Haste
11, 0, 12, 12, 11
(second summon my garg bugged into the wall and did 0 dmg)

It appears that sometimes while situating itself, the Gargoyle will melee once instead of casting immediately, and that is what the discrepancy is at the same haste levels. 15 attacks vs 10 is pretty significant at ~56 DPS, so I may go with Meteorite Whetstone and the glove haste enchant after all, at least for fights with burst phases.

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Re: Unholy Death-Knight DPS

Post  Newtron on Wed Jan 13, 2010 4:58 am

10 attacks in 30 seconds is pretty low for what should be a 2.0 second cast. You might want to try a macro similar to the one used in that Warlock thread to see if you can get your Gargoyle to cast more frequently.

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Re: Unholy Death-Knight DPS

Post  Abrogate on Wed Jan 13, 2010 7:59 am

Using that macro on all my attacks with about 26% haste yielded ~14 Gargoyle Strikes over the 30 seconds.

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