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Skribs' PvP DK Handbook
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Skribs’ PvP DK Handbook
The purpose of this post is to provide a thorough examination of PvP within the realm of the DK class. It assumes you know the basics of the DK (the spells, talents, and resource mechanics), or that you can quickly look that information up in the general FAQ or the database in this website, which should be very easily accessible from right here. Where this differs from the FAQ is that the focus is entirely on PvP, and much more in-depth.
A few selfish notes I must come clean with – I will not be including that many links in this post. Like I said above, the information is very close to this post anyway, as wowhead is a very thorough site. I also intend to use this post as something I can copy+paste parts of into other posts, since many people asking questions about PvP ask the same thing. So while this is meant to be a source of information for up-and-coming PvPers, for me it represents an ease in responding to the same questions over and over again. It isn’t laid out like a FAQ, but it is going to be a response to many of the questions that appear frequently.
A little bit about me – many of the regulars here know me as a regular as well. I hope I have a reputation as a knowledgeable and helpful member of the community, who puts thought into the posts including experience, math, and anecdotes. I take my information on the DK class from the forums at deathknight.info, wotlkwiki.info, and wowhead.com (and to a lesser extent, elitistjerks.com), as well as my own personal mathematical investigations and experience with the class. Keep in mind that the DK class is ever changing, as Blizzard will be buffing and/or nerfing us, as well as simply the fact that it is so new there are some aspects yet to be explored – but at the time of this writing, the answers to the topics given are accurate to my knowledge.
While I am including a table of contents, there are a few sub-points that I will highlight by bolding the thesis of the paragraph. I will do my best to orient the reader, especially because (as a college student, I know) people tend to only skim content looking for the questions they want answered. However, I may not be perfect in anticipating which specific questions may be asked.
1. General PvP
6. Notes on Discussion
It should be noted that section 3 will be the biggest section. Gear is pretty much self-explanatory, and only really goes into detail on enchants and gems. The others are going to be fairly small sections if you already know a lot about the class to begin with. The talent discussion, however, covers a lot of important info.
1. General PvP
In general, PvP is about 3 things: Burst Damage, Survivability, and Mobility/Control. Yes, if you can maintain 100% time-on-target (ToT), then sustained damage is good, too, but burst damage is important when getting kited and/or when dealing with healers – since burst damage is harder to heal through. Just one of these, however, isn’t going to win PvP fights. You need at least 2/3 to be great, or all 3 to be somewhat good in order to be competitive.
If you have high burst damage, but absolutely no mobility, then you’re never going to touch a kiter. If you have high mobility but no survivability or burst damage, then you may maintain 100% ToT, but you’re going to just die quick and not do much during that time. If you look at TBC arenas, resto druids had insane survivability and M/C, leading them to be very OP in arenas. Yes, they didn’t have burst damage, but they were healers.
This will be discussed a lot more in-depth particularly in the talents section, as to how DK’s need to focus on each of the principles in PvP. However, it is important to know that the DK by itself is already very strong in survivability, and moderately strong in both the damage and control.
Right now, however, I will cover the question of DW vs. 2H.
I am not going to get into a PvE debate on the effectiveness while tanking or DPSing, however it is very clear that DW will have a very negative impact on a PvP DK. DW provides no benefit to survivability –OR- control, and at the same time nerfs your burst damage. The only benefit DW provides is higher white damage and related procs, at the cost of a minor amount of stats as well as a significant chunk of strike damage. With the spastic ToT that PvP provides, you need your strikes and white hits both to hit harder – faster hits mean nothing when you’re not on target enough to get the second hit in (i.e. if you’re on target for 2 seconds of every 4, a 2.6 attack speed and a 3.6 attack speed will both be nerfed to a 4.0 attack speed, but the 3.6 will hit harder). The result of the poor ToT is that white damage (and related procs) are going to be hurting in PvP, so you should probably go with the weapon choice that gives less focus on white damage and procs – and get a 2H.
What about group makeup or specific encounters?
The problem here is that there are so many possibilities it would take me too long to write each specific group makeup and playstyle. However, DK’s work well with many group makeups, and you’ll have to find your particular fit. There are some interesting tactics you can use, such as using DG as a CC (especially when combined with a fearing class), or combining DG with a snare (such as spamstring) to keep the targets separate (generally separate someone from the healer). Overall, it’s up to you to figure out in your situation what to do with or against X class. As to duo-DK groups, having one go frost and one go unholy provides very nice synergy.
Most PvE-focused DK’s know about spell rotations, and are wondering what to use in PvP. Well, the problem is that there is no easy answer to that question. PvP is a lot different than PvE, because you’re against opponents with more tools to use against you and with much better brains. Thus, you have to react to situations, and then react to the opponent’s reactions.
The general rules still apply, that you want to put up the appropriate diseases, then burn some damage, make death runes, and RP dump. However, utility will come as necessary at some points, such as CoI, Strangulate, self-heals, or defensive cooldowns. The goal should be to get in as much damage as you can around utility, which means the appropriate disease (FF as frost, BP as unholy) and then whatever else you can lay down. It really is up to you to know how much damage each of your abilities does within your given spec and gear level (test dummies can be helpful here) and then to make your own field decisions.
Some general guidelines though: death runes are good. This is more of a talent thing, but also comes into play here: you want the versatility to handle variations in situations that arise. 2-rune attacks are generally better than 1-rune attacks. They provide more damage per click, which provides more burst. That’s not to say NOT to use 1-rune attacks, but that bigger hits are certainly extra helpful in PvP. If you want general ideas of which abilities to use for more damage, check out
the EJ forum
for ideas. DPS in PvP, while admittedly sometimes secondary to utility, the abilities deal damage in a similar manner.
The biggest question, however, becomes which presence to use.
The problem with answering that question is that there is no easy answer. Blood presence provides the highest damage per attack, and the biggest numbers on white attacks. The self-heal isn’t that great, but it is helpful. Unholy presence gives the speed boost, and lowered GCD. It’s particularly useful against kiters, as you can spam more abilities during the time you got AMS up, but it doesn’t have the same overall damage as blood does. Frost presence is very good if you’re getting focused, and actually doesn’t limit your damage done too much (especially with bladed armor). Overall, it boils down to your spec (as unholy aura makes unholy presence a lot less favorable) and your opponent.
While Frost is a different approach, in terms of damage the question becomes - Blood or Unholy? (Frost's damage is inferior to both, even with bladed armor). With VERY limitted ToT (e.g. less than a second at a time) blood will come out on top, as it will with very good ToT. Unholy shines mainly when you only get 2-3 GCD's in blood (thus adding an extra GCD in UH) or when you need utility, as you can hit strangulate or CoI a half second faster. UH also gives a huge benefit if you do not have Unholy Aura. As to the extra GCD, though, chances are it will be used on a lesser ability (e.g. going from PS+SS to PS+SS+BS), so don't think it's 15% damage for a full extra attack, it's 15% damage on a good attack(s) for 15% damage on a lesser attack. Overall, it boils down to your style, your opponent, and the group makeup.
90% of the PvP discussion I see in the forums comes down to talents, and as such this will probably be the biggest section in this post. I should cover some general points before I go on to specific trees, however.
First, remember that the DK is designed as a hybrid DPS/tank class in PvE, so some talents are designed to maximize one of those roles. Also know that in PvP, you are both tank and DPS, as there is no reason for enemy players to focus you or not. If you go full survivability, you’re less helpful when not getting focused, and if you go full damage, you can get burst down a lot easier. There isn’t a lot of historical evidence for LK arenas, but in TBC there were very few prot warriors or fire magi in arenas. The reason is the fire mage had no survivability, and the prot warrior had no damage. As such, try not to focus on one principle.
The result is that in PvP you must try to avoid filler talents as much as possible. Filler talents maximize on one particular role, but a DK should be trying to get both the best of the survivability and the best of the damage talents, while of course picking up the M/C that you need. Talents such as bone shield and unbreakable armor add a lot to survivability, but anticipation and frigid death plate do not.
For each of the following, I will cover the tree as both main-spec and off-spec. I will rate talents on a 4-point scale: 1 = crap, 2 = filler, 3 = optional, 4 = mandatory. Note that some deep talents will end up being rated a 3 despite very good quality, simply because options early in another tree are equally as viable (e.g. the difference between 24/0/47 and 21/0/50 is choice, so even though those 3 points are VERY good in either tree, the fact that you have the other very good choice drops each talent to optional, since you can’t get them both). However, sometimes you may want to go with talents I rated as inferior due to personal preference. If one talent is optional, and the other is filler, but the optional talent plays less into your playstyle, by all means get the filler.
Also know that I’m specifically targeting arenas, since those are the only real competitive form of PvP, where rating matters – and thus being the best matters.
Here is where I must break my promise. I will not be very thoroughly examining blood as a main spec for a PvPer because blood falls behind. Remember the three principles above? If not, I’ll lay them out again – burst damage, survivability, and mobility/control. While yes, blood offers a LOT of survivability in the form of self-heals, it falls behind on the other 2 (similar to DW). Blood focuses on HS as damage, which is weaker in burst than the frost or unholy focuses on damage. Blood also does nothing extra to help prevent getting kited, while frost and unholy both do. Thus, blood is high in 1, but weaker in the other 2, and thus does not represent the versatility needed in PvP. However, blood makes a VERY good sub-spec due to the versatility in lower-tier talents.
Like I said above, blood is a very powerful off-spec.
in blood is pretty close to cookie-cutter for both specs, with some minor variations. I’ll go into specific choices, now, tier-by-tier:
Tier 1 – For an unholy DK, all 3 of these are filler. I’d say subversion is somewhat weaker, as blood strike is pretty much unbuffed elsewhere and obliterate is replaced by SS. 2/2 butchery and 3/5 blade barrier or 5/5 blade barrier are both very good choices, however. If you want to DPS as well as PvP, then subversion actually provides a very nice bonus for you. As a frost DK, subversion is mandatory at this point, as it buffs obliterate. The other 2 points are filler, and just as good in either talent.
Tier 2 – Bladed Armor is a very good talent, which scales quite well. A PvPer will have a lot of armor anyway. 2H Spec is also a very good talent, arguably better than Dark Conviction in the next tier. Scent of blood is pretty much a crap talent – you already generate a lot of RP anyway.
Tier 3 – Rune Tap is mandatory if you are going to put 18 or more points into blood, but is pretty much crap without it. It is a great source of healing with Imp Rune Tap (basically 4x as powerful as the first point for the same rune cost) but it is very weak by itself. Dark conviction is then a moderately powerful talent that actually gets reduced to filler because of the power of other talents in the previous 1 and next 2 sets of tiers. Either way, I’d put 2 points into 2H weapon spec before moving up to tier 3, and then deciding from there depending on how many points you are planning on putting in. Death Rune Mastery is pretty much a crap talent, as it provides more blood runes, which you don’t particularly need in the other specs (although it would be great in a blood-main build, but like I mentioned above, I’m not covering that).
Tier 4 – Pretty much the only talents here are Imp Rune Tap, which are absolutely mandatory. Spell Deflection is filler (although not as good as the other talents in the area, so you probably won’t get it); what prevents it from being high quality is that it doesn’t do anything to actually avoid magic effects – such as slows. Vandetta would be great in solo or in BG’s, but in arenas it won’t proc enough (if at all) and the proc itself is very weak. If you want to get to Tier 5, putting points in Dark Conviction is wise.
Tier 5 – This is about as far as most blood sub-specs end up going, and due to the nature of the deep-end frost and unholy talents, points at this tier end up being optional despite their power. Mark of Blood is a very powerful talent mainly because it helps a group member out as well – although the larger-scale the encounter the worse it is, as it only applies to one enemy at a time. Veteran of the Third War is also a very good talent, and overall offers a huge boost to both survivability and damage, albeit not as much damage as the options in deep-frost or deep-unholy (i.e. Tundra Stalker or Rage of Rivendare) with which it will usually be competing. Bloody Strikes I would consider crap for a non-blood build as it will buff your weakest attacks.
Thus concludes the blood-sub-spec section. The other sub-spec sections will be easier, as they are both shorter and only assume 1 tree as the main spec (e.g. frost/unholy or unholy/frost). Also keep in mind that you don’t have to have only 1 sub-spec, in fact the build I’m planning on going with is 10/11/50, which means that you would only go through the first 2 tiers in this guide. The main point is that there are a lot of options, some of which would be better in different situations.
Frost allows DK’s some extra range and control in comparison to the others. It’s also got some very nice burst. I personally
unholy, but that’s not because frost is flawed – rather I enjoy the playstyle better. This is a prime example that a lot of DK talent choices come down to preference, even though the math is still important.
Tier 1 – Improved Icy Touch is optional. It’s a great talent if you use IT a lot, but it’s not so great if you use CoI a lot. It depends on several factors – when you’re kited, do you prefer ranged attacks or a snare? Do you have Chillblains later on? Do you fight a lot of meleers where the snare isn’t an issue? Glacier Rot and Toughness are then pretty much mandatory, as toughness is great for both survivability and control, and glacier rot will buff you frost-specific abilities.
Tier 2 – Nerves of Cold steel is obviously crap, as we already discussed that DW is sub-par for PvP. Black Ice offers so much damage to a frost DK that it would be retarded to pass up, and Icy Reach adds range, which is a form of M/C. Both of these are mandatory.
Tier 3 – Lichborne provides a nice defensive or anti-control cooldown to use, and is actually useful against most classes. It subtly provides protection against polymorph, but also opens you up to turn evil or shackle undead. However, for the extra trinket (particularly against locks and meleers) I consider it mandatory. Just bear the counters in mind. Annihilation is also mandatory, as it gives a lot of freedom to obliterate as well as damage overall with your melee attacks. Icy Talons would pretty much be crap despite the large amount of haste, for the same reason why DW is, as mentioned above – PvP severely limits white damage, and thus talents affecting white damage or related procs are general not that great.
Tier 4 – Both Killing Machine and Runic Power Mastery are filler talents. Now would be a good time to go back for talents in the previous tiers, because I listed more talents as mandatory than you could have gotten with just the 15 required to get here. I’ve seen Killing Machine argued both ways (actually, I’ve argued it both ways) that as an auto-attack proc, it is less useful in PvP, however because if your ToT is severely limited to the point where you get more white hits per yellow hit, then the chance you will have it proc for FS or HB goes up per yellow hit. As to RP mastery, I prefer to dump my RP when I get it, but others prefer to save it up and use at least 2 points in RP mastery to get 3x FS in a row for some very nice burst. RP mastery also has the benefit of allowing glyph of death strike to have greater effect. Overall, picking up either of these talents or skipping them should not make or break your build.
Tier 5 – Deathchill is absolutely mandatory, as it provides great controlled burst. Chill of the Grave is optional, and you may want to go back a tier or two at this point, although Chill does lead to frost strikes quicker. Frigid Deathplate is pretty much filler – it’s a great tank talent, but 1% physical mitigation isn’t too great in PvP where half the classes cast.
Tier 6 – Since Icy Talons is crap, Improved Icy Talons is going to then also be crap. Endless Winter is pretty much mandatory, since it gives ease in interrupts and allows your snare to apply frost fever (thus meaning you don’t have to choose between the snare and the disease, but rather the snare and the extra damage). If you have glyphed CoI, this is a very powerful talent indeed. Rime is also mandatory, as it allows you greater burst while also allowing an extra attack via free HB (thus leading to free RP generation). Merciless combat seems nice, but actually isn’t as powerful as it seems. It only works when targets are under 35% health, and chances are at that point the 12% damage will be overkill anyway. I would consider this filler.
Tier 7 – Howling Blast is mandatory. Yes, it is an AoE, and isn’t as strong of a single-target attack as Oblit. However, rime can give free HB’s, and HB is ranged (thus making IT + HB a decent amount of damage while getting kited). Frost Aura is optional, and depends on your make-up as well. If you have a druid, for example, MotW can pretty much give most of that resistance anyway. Chillblains is also optional, and one of those optional talents (like Improved Icy Touch) that becomes crap if it doesn’t fit your playstyle. I personally prefer the choice between snare and damage, as if I need the snare CoI is much better. However, the combination of damage + weaker snare is a choice as well. If you have CoI glyphed, this pretty much becomes crap, as well as if you use CoI a lot more than IT (since CoI overrides chilblains). Thus, the power of it depends on your playstyle and your opponents.
Tier 8 – Two very good talents here, although only blood of the north is mandatory. The versatility and extra burst provided by blood of the north is invaluable, and the cooldown provided by unbreakable armor is great too (both extra damage and survivability). It’s nice, because you spend 6 talents here but there’s 4 talents in the next tier that you’ll grab, thus none need to be optional or filler. However, UA is only optional because it only really helps against meleers, and there may be previous talents you would rather fill out.
Tier 9 – Grab frost strike and guile of gorefiend. Both provide impressive burst damage, and guile of gorefiend makes IBF last longer (which is also great stun resistance). Both of these are mandatory for frost PvP. Acclimation is just…crap. It’s rather proccy, and takes a while to get its effects up. There are other useful talents that are a lot better against more classes.
This is pretty much the end of the cookie cutter, although the spec can go on. Tundra Stalker is optional despite its power, for reasons mentioned above – the power of blood talents that TS trades with is also impressive. Hungering Cold is a talent that some people swear by and other people consider crap – I consider it optional because it provides our only real CC despite the high cost and cooldown. I wouldn’t pick it up for PvP, but I wouldn’t laugh at someone who did (although I would point it out so they know it’s not mandatory, and let them decide from there). I’ll post 2 variations of the cookie cutter, with different options filled out, but both are 45 frost:
Less RNG, CoI Focus
More RNG, IT Focus
There’s obviously other variations you can make between the two, but they show extreme differences in filler. However, several talents are the same in both specs, those being: Toughness, Glacier Rot, Black Ice, Icy Reach, Lichborne, Annihilation, Death Chill, Rime, Endless Winter, Howling Blast, Blood of the North, Frost Strike, and Guile of Gorefiend – pretty much all the mandatory talents listed out for you. It is also possible to go 44 frost (without UA or any extra of the previous fillers) although I don’t really see a reason 2).
(EDIT): There is a build that has recenly come to my attention which has seen very good results by some players, a PROC-based build. I would only recommend it if a healer is present, as it may take some time for it to reach full effectiveness, but it is based on getting the most burst possible via procs. Basically, it's prone to cold starts, but once you get going you're a juggernaut, thus you only should use it if you're living long enough to make it through a cold start.
Imp Icy Talons, Killing Machine, and Acclimation are all vital to this build, as IIT gives you more KM procs, in which White Crit - Yellow Crit - deathchill+Yellow Crit can lead to quite a bit of damage in not a lot of time. It's almost like the old shockadin, where you would burn a holy shock + judgement right after a SoC crit.
would be the basics of the spec, which you could fill points into any of the trees as mentioned elsewhere in this post.
for an unholy build is pretty straight-forward, and is actually pretty short. The one problem with it is that it picks up a lot of filler, but Lichborne is a nice tool to have.
Tier 1 – Toughness is a very good talent, optional in general for an unholy build (e.g. 21/5/45) but mandatory for the frost off-spec. Glacier Rot only really buffs IT and FF as unholy, not the more-powerful HB and FS, thus leading to its crap status. Imp IT pretty much buffs the damage from IT, but it’s more powerful than the other general frost damage counterparts in this tier and the next.
Tier 2 – Icy Reach is optional, as it allows you to CoI from a greater distance, but Black Ice is crap (same reason as glacier rot, it synergies great with deep frost but is horrible with unholy) and NoCS is again crap as it only buffs DW. As you can see, that’s where I get the cookie cutter, pretty much choosing filler over crap.
Tier 3 – Annihilation buffs Oblit, which should be replaced by SS in an unholy build. Thus, Annihilation is filler for UH, only due to the crit it grants. Lichborne is mandatory, and is really the only reason to this deep into frost.
I would strongly recommend against going further without going full frost. Although Runic Power Mastery seems nice (especially with gargoyle), it’s really only filler and you’re getting filler and crap talents to get to it, which really isn’t worth the points. In comparison to blood, which has more general talents (such as AP, Crit, 2H weapon damage) many frost talents depend on doing frost damage, which isn’t going to be much without HB or FS.
My personal favorite; unholy offers a lot of utility over the other specs. Longer-lasting diseases, a primary attack that is not affected by armor, a permanent pet and an extra temporary pet, as well as some nice movement buffs make this a very capable PvPer. Not necessarily better than frost, I just prefer it.
There are pretty much 2 main shells for unholy. Unlike frost, where most of the filler provides a lot of options, unholy is a lot less flexible. There are some subtle options…but not as many. The main difference is whether or not to get AMZ.
Tier 1 – Anticipation is pretty much a tank talent. For the same reason as frigid deathplate in frost, it pretty much becomes crap/filler, in that it won’t help against half the classes and it’s there to maximize mitigation, not to buff it a whole lot. Morbidity and vicious strikes are both mandatory, vicious strikes mainly for the power, and morbidity because it’s better than anticipation.
Tier 2 – This tier is interesting, in that most of the talents (with the exception of virulence) aren’t really powerful enough to be considered mandatory, but they are better than the talents in the next tier – since necrosis is the best of those 3 talents, and necrosis itself is barely filler. At this point I’d fill Tier 2, and then pick it up at Tier 4 (although you may put a point or two into Tier 3 for filler, later). In terms of power, Virulence > Unholy Command > Epidemic > Ravenous Dead, although Ravenous Dead goes up a notch if you get Master of Ghouls later.
Tier 3 – I sort of covered this above, but Outbreak and Corpse Explosion are crap. CE isn’t worth the UH rune, and thus not worth the point. Outbreak is great AoE damage, but the buff to PS is too weak to be worth it. Despite the weak nature of auto-attack in PvP, necrosis is the best talent at this point due to its status as filler.
Tier 4 – This is another tier that pretty much is all mandatory. BcB is just a proc, but it hits pretty hard and adds burst. It’s also reliable enough that it shouldn’t be one of those once-per-BG sort of procs. On a Pale Horse provides help against literally every class (albeit not every spec) and should help especially against rogues and warlocks. Shadow of Death, a requirement for Master of Ghouls, is a very fun talent that has allowed me to get my revenge many a time in world PvP.
Tier 5 – Summon Gargoyle is absolutely mandatory, it provides some INCREDIBLE burst. The gargoyle also benefits from Ebon Plaguebringer later on in the tree. Dirge is optional, although it’s pretty much better than most other options available at that tier. Impurity, while being filler, is probably the best use for extra points at this point. At this point I must apologize for previous posts, in which I used necrosis for filler. However, after reviewing the EJ post mentioned earlier, it showed that impurity is a bigger DPS increase (and it focused on single target damage, i.e. boss damage) than necrosis, and that assumed 100% ToT. When ToT drops, and thus auto-attack, impurity is better (I had previously used necrosis not based on my rationale, but because someone on another forum had that impression). Long story short – impurity is a better filler than necrosis, so only put points in necrosis if you filled up impurity. So I reiterate – Gargoyle is mandatory, dirge is optional, and impurity is filler. It should take 4 points to get through this tier, due to the 6 used last tier.
Tier 6 – Here is where the decision to get AMZ or not comes into play. If you do want AMZ, then Magic Suppression is mandatory. If not, it is crap. Reaping is mandatory for the flexibility provided, and master of ghouls is optional (but recommended). It’s nice for the duration, but if your ghoul gets creamed or if the arena lasts less than 90 seconds it doesn’t really matter. Without MS, you are likely to spend 3-4 points here, so a couple will be filled in earlier (likely impurity).
Tier 7 – Desicration is mandatory, and would be even without the damage. It’s there for the snare. Unholy Aura is mandatory if you are not going to be using Unholy Presence, and filler if you are going to be using it (remember, it buffs your party too, so that can help the ret paladin keep up the hurt or the frost mage kite a bit easier). I personally like the extra damage from blood presence, so I grab unholy aura. AMZ is obviously dependent upon your choice covered earlier. It is a great talent, but comes at a high cost. Builds with or without AMZ are neither wrong.
Tier 8 – Night of the Dead is optional, but other talents at this tier and higher tiers are valuable enough to make NotD put on the backburner. If, however, you skip unholy aura due to using mainly unholy presence (or whatever othe reason), then NotD is a good alternative.. It’s not a bad talent, but it’s not as good as the other options. Crypt fever provides a 3rd disease, which is incredibly powerful and therefore mandatory. While Ebon Plaguebringer (the talent on the next tier) requires 3/3 CF, and is a mandatory talent; if you are not going with EP for whatever reason I would only put 1 point in CF just for the disease. Bone shield is mandatory.
Tier 9 – Ebon Plaguebringer is mandatory, as is Scourge Strike. Wandering Plague is interesting, in that it shouldn’t be affected by resilience (it’s based on crit chance, but it’s not a crit), but diseases don’t do enough damage to really be worth it. Some people put 1 point in WP to scout for stealthers, but overall it’s 1/3 optional and 3/3 crap.
Just like frost, tier 10 is very powerful, but optional due to the same quality in early blood. Unholy Blight is AoE that requires high ToT, which pretty much means not a good PvP talent (or crap).
are the 2 cookie cutters. Additional points in tier 8+ are additions beyond that.
As an off-spec, unholy won’t provide much damage, but it will provide a lot of utility. However, I don’t see a real reason to go in-depth to a sub-spec, since it will pretty much follow the same choices as a main spec, except that you will stop sooner. It is up to you how far you want to go, just keep in mind that some tiers you want to fill out a lot more. I hope I covered the importance of each talent within each tier. Also remember that blood offers more raw power as a sub-spec for frost, although unholy gives some fun options too.
While this says hybrid, it’s more of a general advice on making specs that are not covered in this, specifically blood or hybrid specs. The problem with blood I mentioned earlier, and the problem with hybrid specs is that they skip out on a 41-point talent (notably frost strike or scourge strike) which offer a lot of damage. SS makes annihilation not necessary, and FS is just way better than DC.
However, if you so choose to go off from the norm, the original principles remain – the 3 main aspects of PvP (damage, survivability, and M/C), and that you should focus on getting the best of the aspects, instead of the filler that buffs survivability or damage just a little to put it over the top. There is one third aspect that is important to a hybrid spec, though, and that is focus.
Some people claim that versatility is important and thus put points everywhere. These are NOT good specs, as you don’t have any real power anywhere. Pay attention to the points you use, and the synergy you will get from it. For example:
provides very little synergy. It could be said to buff Icy Touch, while allowing Oblit and BS to be used to a great extent. However, IT isn’t powerful enough by itself to warrant those points in frost, there really isn’t any snare usage unless you use CoI (thus negating all those points spent), and overall it just doesn’t flow well.
, on the other hand, has the focus of high spell damage, allowing for much more powerful ranged attacks while being kited, as well as some very nice snare options. It also may confuse enemies who see you with bone shield to also be using HB, and it adds a disease by putting 1 point in CF. I’m not sure how it would compare to a full-fledged build, but it has focus to it that I’ll show in the next few paragraphs.
In general, if you want a hybrid spec, it’s important to take some thought into it. First, figure out what abilities you want to use, and how the talents would affect them. Then, pick the talents you absolutely want (in the example above, it was a spell-based build that picked up a ton of mobility and control. The goals were 1/3 CF + bone shield and howling blast). After that, fill in talents based on their power within the given build. Remember how talents synergy, e.g. how black ice is worthless if you don’t have HB or FS, and use CoI over IT, but it’s mandatory with deep-frost. Once you’re done, look at your build and see if it works. What abilities would you use? Are they so varied that you could buff yourself by picking more concentrated talents? Does this really offer no real benefit over a “pure” (e.g. 41+ points in 1 tree) build that picks up the more powerful, deep talents? With the above build, it gives you bone shield – which is OP in itself – grabs an extra disease to buff OB or BS if used, and provides multiple options to buff M/C or ranged damage (powerful death coil, HB, gargoyle, and IT; CoI applies FF, desicration, unholy aura, and lowered CD on Death Grip).
The gear choices for PvP should be fairly obvious – pick up the PvP gear. If you have the option though, remember that STR > AP, and haste is a pretty crap stat for DK’s. Covered above, go with 2H instead of DW.
I will, however, cover gems and enchants in much more detail. I will list a few options for each, but overall it’s up to you. These assume you do not have any professions except for runeforging (and RF will be picked over weapon enchants).
In general, you should socket for the color present. In DPS, blue gems are normally not that great because they can only be stamina or mana-related stats (i.e. spirit, mp/5), but stamina, str, and crit are all good for PvP.
Meta: Excepting Thundering Skyflare Diamond, Relentless Earthsiege Diamond, and Effulgent Skyflare Diamond, any of the melee (e.g. non-mana or spell-power based gems), any of the gems would be good, and they all provide help in different situations – some add a lot more damage, some add resistance to specific CC mechanics, and some offer some extra survivability. Swift Skyflare Diamond I would avoid if you use either unholy presence or aura, as it won’t stack. I would pick these based either on what CC I normally come up against (or if I need more damage or survivability), or based on what gems I already have. They all offer good options.
Red: Bold (Str), Fractured (ArP), or Precise (Expertise) will be great. Precise will be great for making sure blows land, especially against other meleers; and bold and fractured will both give bigger hits.
Yellow: Mystic (resilience), Rigid (hit), or Smooth (crit) will all be great. Mystic for defense, rigid to make sure blows land (remember 5% hit cap in PvP), and smooth for more burst damage. Hit translates to overall damage faster than crit, but crit means more burst.
Blue: Solid (stam). The other’s affect spells, solid gives stam.
If you want to go with hybrid colors, make sure they contain the stats above. AP is inferior to Str, Agi is crap for us, and the rest of the melee stats are pretty good for us. I’d also recommend against the defensive tanking talents as those only apply to melee, whereas res applies to melee and spells.
For enchants, I will include the name, the stats, and rep requirement (if applicable). I am including the res/stam based enchants and the damage-based enchants, as both are viable. I personally prefer damage, as I’ve already got a ton of survivability, but it’s going to be the same buff either way. Damage just helps more when I’m not being focused.
I start talking here about stat value, which will be important later in the professions section. Stat value is the base value given to stats, that is that 1 value = 1 base stat or rating (except stam), 1.5 stam, or 2 AP. There are other stats that may be considered, but they aren’t too important for this discussion.
Head: Arcanum of the Savage Gladiator – 30 stam, 25 res (Alliance Vanguard or Horde Expedition – Exalted), Arcanum of Torment – 50 AP, 20 crit (Knights of the Ebon Blade – Exalted), Arcanum of Triumph – 50 AP, 20 res (40 stonekeeper’s shards in LWG)
Shoulder: Greater Inscription of the Axe – 40 AP, 15 crit (Sons of Hodir – Exalted), Inscription of Triumph – 40 AP, 15 res (30 stonekeeper’s shards in LWG), Lesser Inscription of the Axe – 30 AP, 10 crit (Sons of Hodir – Honored), Heavy Borean Armor Kit – 18 Stam (no rep requirement). Obviously the first 2 are prime choice, the later 2 are options if you have less reputation. Both of the best provide 35 stat value.
Back: Mighty Armor (225 Armor), Major Agility (22 Agility), or any of the superior resistances (60 to X resistance). There really aren’t any great enchants for DK’s for the backs.
Chest: Powerful Stats (10 stats), Super Health (275 HP). The health doesn’t stack with most percent-based buffs (except frost presence), but is actually very powerful in comparison to the stats, when you consider that the str and stam only add up to 20 value, and agility is weak (whereas 275 HP is about on par with 27.5 stat value).
Wrist: Greater Assault (50 AP), Expertise (15 Expertise), Greater Stats (6 stats), Fortitude (12 Stam; TBC enchant). Obviously they go in that order in terms of stat value, although you may prefer specific stats. Greater assault provides 25 stat value.
Hands: Crusher (44 AP), Precision (20 hit), Expertise (15 Expertise). In that order for stat value, although vs. meleers the expertise would overall be better, and precision would be very powerful vs. all.
Legs: Icescale Leg Armor (75 AP, 22 crit) or Frosthide Leg Armor (55 Stam, 22 Agility). Go with Frosthide only if you absolutely need the stam, otherwise go with Icescale. 75 AP is slightly more stat value than 55 stam, and 22 crit is way better for DK’s than 22 agility.
Feet (with movement): Tuskarr’s Vitality (15 Stam),
Feet (without movement): Icewalker (12 hit + 12 crit), Greater Assault (32 AP), Greater Fort (22 Stam). If you don’t need the speed, Icewalker is the best enchant for you by far.
Weapon: Get fallen crusader, although razorice (for frost) or cinderglacier (either spec) provide some nice results as well. FC is considered to be very powerful, though, and I like the DS crits I’ve seen thanks to it, which would not have been affected under the other 2.
The stat value provided by certain enchants is important in comparing with the BoP enchants provided by different professions, as it becomes really clear when you see the stat increase from the professions which are best. However, for the most part, the professions don’t provide enough of a difference for it to matter unless you are min/maxing.
I covered it somewhat already, but now to go into detail on each. First, I will cover professions *not* to go with:
Alchemy: elixirs won’t be used in arenas, so alchemy’s bonus falls apart.
Engineering: can’t use some of the toys, and most of the other toys don’t help DK’s out too much (e.g. haste on gloves). It’s fun, but not really too powerful for DK’s.
Now for the good ones:
Leatherworking: LW gives the option for 90 stamina or 114 AP to wrist. The AP gives 64 more than the wrist enchant (32 stat value), and the stamina is 78 more than the stamina enchant (52 stat value) albeit only 35 more stat value than the best enchant. If you want the health, LW is very powerful, but if you’re concerned with overall stats (which you should be), LW only provides a bonus of 35 stats.
Blacksmithing: BS gives 2 free sockets, which allows for a maximum of 2 more epic-quality gems. Since epic gems have 20 stat value each, this gives a potential 40 stat value, which is very versatile. BS is one of the best professions.
Tailoring: Tailoring gives a really powerful cape enchant (swordguard embroidery) which is a proc for 300 AP for 15 seconds. I’m not 100% sure, but from the best I can tell it’s a 100% proc chance with a 60 second internal cooldown, which leads to 25% up-time, or an average of 75 AP (37.5 stat value) total. However, it’s amazing burst, which provides more average AP on shorter fights (e.g. if it’s a 10 second fight, it would have 100% up-time, resulting in 150 stat value). The armor on the cape enchant translates to about 15.75 stat value, so 37.5 is only an increase in 21.75. However, it is harder than that to judge due to the bursty nature of it (I personally grabbed it, especially because of the stat choices on cape enchants).
Enchanting: Gives ring enchants for 24 stamina each or 32 AP each (total 48 stam or 64 AP, or one of each), for 32 stat value. Comparable with the AP gain from LW, but weaker than the gain from stam on LW.
Inscription: Master’s Inscription of the Axe is a shoulder enchant for 104 AP and 15 stam, which is 64 AP (or 32 stat value) more than the already available enchant. LW adds the same amount of AP, or more value in stamina.
Jewelcrafting: JC is great for DPS, who do not need the blue gems, because the BoP gems (you get 3) are prismatic, and thus benefit the DPS meta slots. However, for tanks or PvP, all 3 sockets provide either mitigation/survivability or threat/damage, which help. Thus, the only effect JC has is that it gives extra stats on 3 gems, which equal to 7 stat value each, or 21 stat value total. JC is the weakest of all the professions that actually add something to the DK.
Mining: Mining gives 500 HP, or approximately 37.5 stat value in 50 stam, although not increased by percent-based stamina buffs.
Herbalism: Herb gives a heal for 2k/5 sec on a 3 min CD. It’s hard to put a value on that.
Skinning: Skinning gives 25 crit, or 25 stat value. It’s very weak, although stronger than JC.
Overall, skip engineering and alchemy. For those that are easy to determine a value, BS > Mining > LW > Enchanting > Inscription > Skinning > JC. Herbalism and Tailoring are harder to pinpoint their exact usefulness. My DK is BS+Tailor, for the power of BS and the burst of swordguard embroidery.
Of course, Mining + BS gives ~77.5 stat value, while going with a combination like Ench+Inscription will give ~64 stat value. Overall the difference is 11.5 stat value (or about 12 crit or str) so it's really not that significant unless you want to min/max.
6. Notes on Discussion
First, I’d like to say sorry it took me 7 posts to get this out, but wowhead has a 15k character limit. I’ll also say it here (instead of above) that this is a lot longer than any paper I wrote this quarter at school, although I had fun writing it. The other sections totaled to 7399 words (compared with my 10-page essay I wrote this quarter, which ended up being 3562 words). Although I don’t expect people to read everything in here (if you do, kudos), but to skim through and look only at the points they find relevant to themselves (e.g. spec, gear, profs, etc).
Also, if anyone replied in between my posting of the various posts in here, argghh! Oh well, people will see the table of contents and know what happened. Overall, I don’t expect people to, but oh well. I will try to reserve a few posts as well, just in case more information comes out later (e.g. blood gets stronger, more options in terms of gear or enchants).
As to discussion, please make it worth my time, and the time of those who are participating. If you disagree with me, don’t just go “Omg you’re an idiot if you think blood isn’t good in PvP.” Give me a reason why you think your point of view is right (and/or mine is wrong). It’s a lot more fun to get into debates with rational thinkers instead of just arguing with some teenager who thinks because he chose one spec that it’s automatically uber and everyone who thinks otherwise is a complete idiot (although he has no logic for picking that spec except maybe one little anecdote).
I’m open to questions, comments, or concerns, provided they are thought out well; or things that I did not cover – but which also aren’t more general knowledge that should be in a general FAQ.
For glyphs, I’m just gonna go in alphabetical order, and discuss each glyph in terms of the 2 specs.
Anti-Magic Shell: Double the duration, for 25% increase in cooldown. Not a bad talent at all against casters, although useless against meleers. Good for either spec.
Blood Boil: You shouldn’t worry about BB’s damage on single-targets, and snares are always good, however with the amount of other snares you have present (CoI, maybe chilblains or desicration) I don’t think it’s really worth it unless you REALLY need an extra or AoE snare. It’s 50% for 5 sec, so it could be good or bad. With unholy, BB converts to death runes (although not frost), so that may affect your judgment.
Blood Strike: Extra 20% damage against snared targets. Great in PvP because most targets *should* be snared most of the time, but also bad b/c BS isn’t really a prime ability. I believe it also affects HS for blood builds, but in general I think there’s better glyphs.
Bone Shield: 1 extra charge, which seems like it would add 25% to the duration, but because of the way the ICD on the charges works (3.5 sec before another charge can be eaten) it’s more like 33% increase in duration. BS is a very powerful tool, and I’d really recommend this.
Chains of Ice: Adds damage to CoI, which makes your snare more powerful (especially in combination with Endless Winter). An interesting glyph, especially to combine damage and control, especially within a frost build.
Dark Command: Useless except maybe in AV.
Death and Decay: The fear sounds awesome, but I don’t see myself spending 3 runes on D&D in most PvP situations.
Death Grip: The stun is much shorter than the added duration. DG already disrupts spell casting – I’d skip this one. It’s only real use is on casters who are already in melee range. At that point, you should have other tools to interrupt casting (or just move and DG).
Death Strike: This is a very powerful tool for survivability. A DK that could heal itself for 7k on a really big DS crit could potentially heal ~10k with this glyph and full RP. However, if you dump your RP a lot, this is a lot weaker.
Frost Strike: Nice snare, but very RNG. In general, you will FS maybe twice every 10 seconds, resulting in a proc on average every 50. That’s assuming 100% ToT. I’d skip it, as it just isn’t reliable enough.
Icebound Fortitude: Making IBF free means it’s a lot easier to use, especially before combat opens. Its major use will come out against rogues or ret paladins, although rogues can just wait until IBF finishes before opening.
Icy Touch: This glyph doesn’t hurt damage too much, and buffs your RP gen a lot (turns 10% of an IT into 25% of a DC or FS, or 1.25 sec of gargoyle). Overall, though, there’s probably better glyphs.
Obliterate: With or without diseases, OB will hit harder with this glyph. It makes you less reliant on diseases to do damage with OB, and buffs it in general. Good for frost, crap for unholy.
Plague Strike: Only good against druids and somewhat against priests. Otherwise, PS is too weak to make this worth it (same reason as why you should skip outbreak).
Rune Strike: 25% increase in cost for 10% increase in damage. Not worth it.
Rune Tap: Heals your party, but that’s not really your job. Take it for 5’s or in full-DPS teams, but otherwise if you got a healer, he’s probably got the others covered. AoE heals aren’t as great in PvP anyway, where focus-fire is the real killer.
Scourge Strike: Less RNG than FS, but still pretty random. Does make it nice against cleansers, though, as you can potentially reapply diseases with 1 click. I’d personally skip it unless I’m doing raid DPS, though.
Strangulate: The range increase is nice, but strangulate is already ranged. Unless you’re charging the target, it probably won’t be too useful, as you will have no follow up before you close range – at which point you wouldn’t have needed the glyph anyway.
Ghoul: This is a nice glyph, although I personally think that there’s better uses for the 3 slots. If your ghoul gets owned, this glyph is a waste.
Unbreakable Armor: 10% strength for 5% parry…nice for a tank, but not so much when you want both tank and DPS, like you do in PvP. This glyph would also make UA not very useful for added burst damage, if you use it as an AP-CD.
Vampiric Blood – Blood-only, so probably not gonna work with frost or unholy.
Overall, there are several good options, and it largely depends on your playstyle. My personal choices would be: Frost – CoI, OB, AMS, and/or IBF; Unholy – add bone shield to that list. However, the descriptions I gave should point out the ones to avoid, and the others would do good.
Blood Tap – Very nice, as BT adds versatility.
Corpse Explosion – Skip the talent, thus – skip the glyph.
Death’s Embrace – Useful if you heal your ghoul a lot (or yourself via lichborne) but not in most situations.
Horn of Winter – Doesn’t make it free, but makes it easier to cast.
Pestilence – Makes chaining diseases easier.
Raise Dead – Nice if you summon your ghoul a lot, not so nice if you already have him with you.
Should be pretty easy which to pick from that list. Honestly, I know my glyph section probably didn’t pick the glyphs for you – but that’s because there’s more than 3 good glyphs. Depending on your situation, some may be better than others (e.g. AMS won’t help at all against melee, IBF won’t help too much against non-stunning classes, etc).
Reserved for future additions.
Edit: made those changes
Haha 10 replies all by myself! And...reserved for future additions. Forgetting stuff made me realize that maybe I should reserve a lot, because I think I went more in-depth than I planned.
This post was from a user who has deleted their account.
Yes, the damage provided by that rotation may be high, but the individual attacks themselves aren't going to be that powerful, as the focus is on heart strike. You are assuming you will have 100% ToT with a rotation, which gets screwed up as you need utility or as people move out of your melee range. You are not talking about burst damage, but rather sustained damage, which is not as good in PvP unless you can maintain 100% ToT. Burst damage is not the amount of damage you can lay on in 20 seconds. It's the amount of damage you can deal real quick...and blood's strongest DPS attack is HS - which isn't going to do the work of burst.
As for mobility, yes you got OAPH and UC, but you already have the pet stun available in many stituations (maybe not 100% of the time, but for a good portion of most fights), and you miss out on desicration down the line.
Survivability is where blood is strongest, I would never argue that blood has poor survivability. However, it is the M/C where unholy and frost are both superior, and burst damage where blood fails.
Basically, blood is great in theory, where you have 100% ToT. But blood falls behind when you factor in kiting, jousting, and enemy healers, all of which unholy and frost have better tools for.
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This post was from a user who has deleted their account.
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This post was from a user who has deleted their account.
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