Choosing the right PvP and PvE talents is a prerequisite to proper performancein PvP. This guide goes through the various talent choices available to you asan Unholy Death Knight and gives you the best combinations you can take.
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This page is part of our UnholyDeath Knight PvP Guide.
|15||✔ Infected Claws||✔ All Will Serve||✔ Clawing Shadows|
|25||✔ Bursting Sores||? Ebon Fever||✔ Unholy Blight|
|30||? Grip of the Dead||
✘ Death”s Reach
|35||✔ Pestilent Pustules||? Harbinger of Doom||? Soul Reaper|
|40||✔ Spell Eater||✔ Wraith Walk||✔ Death Pact|
|✔ Unholy Pact||? Defile|
|50||✔ Army of the Damned||
✘ Summon Gargoyle
|✔ Unholy Assault|
While the above table provides a generally accurate overview of theviability of talents, some finer points are discussed in the sections thatfollow, and we recommend you read those for a deeper understanding.
All 3 talents in this row have value. Infected Claws providesanother form of wound generation, and also resets the duration of wounds on atarget when you are in crowd control, helping to retain your stacks. Thisincreases the effect of Wound-bursting talents like Pestilent Pustulesand Necrotic Wounds.
Clawing Shadows provides a potent ranged spender which keeps pressureup even when you are being kited. It also scales with your Mastery and Necrotic Aura, which heavily increases its value.
All Will Serve is passive chip damage that adds up over the course ofan arena.
Ebon Fever provides a pretty sizeable buff to your rot pressure andis totally passive, making it simple to use.
Unholy Blight deals a solidamount of damage when fully stacked, and increases the damage of your minions.This adds another source of damage to Unholy, making it even more difficult topeel the rot pressure and sustained output. This is a very good talent.
Bursting Sores can potentially see play against melee cleaves, as itdramatically increases in value in AoE situations. The single target pressureis not quite as noticeable.
Asphyxiate is almost always going to be the pick in this row.However, Grip of the Dead could see play in niche setups that use thelegendary
Phearomones which rely on the enemy team to remain withinyour Death and Decay.
Pestilent Pustules is the best resource generation talent on thisrow and helps smooth out the rotation of Unholy. There are a lot of extrawound generation and bursting tools in Unholy PvP talents giving thisadditional value in a PvP environment.
Harbinger of Doom has added value as you can use the free
Death Coil procs to heal yourself during
Lichborne. It alsoworks well with the talent Army of the Damned as it helps reset thecooldowns of your burst windows.
Soul Reaper is a solid execute, with enough Mastery, and couldhelp push a target into the execute window of other classes like Warrioror Windwalker Monk.
Spell Eater is extremely potent because even when you are not ableto get perfect use out of its survivability increase, the duration increaseallows to prevent and immune more crowd control effects. This stops you frombeing peeled during your burst windows.
Wraith Walk helps deal with some of DK”s mobility issues. It is on afairly long cooldown, but helps tremendously if you are rooted after yourhealer has already dispelled, or if you are LoS.
Death Pact is verymeta-dependant. In dampening metas with a lot of sustain, and passiveself-healing, it is very poor. In burst matchups, with windows where youneed to survive just a few more seconds, it is fantastic.
Unholy Pact far outweighs the other choices in this tier. Itadds a passive amount of additional AoE damage to
Dark Transformationas well as granting you Strength which simply increases all of your damageduring that window.
Defile is precisely useful when you are using the Night FaeCovenant as it will lower the cooldown and increase the damage of yourCovenant ability. This makes it a great pick in that exact setup, but verypoor otherwise.
Unholy Assault provides another ability to your burst window andhelps to setup Apocalypse by immediately giving you 4 wounds.Furthermore, it increases the potency of that window by granting haste to youand all your minions.
Army of the Damned gives a little more damage to Apocalypseand Raise Abomination as well as reducing their cooldowns. These quickercooldowns help keep your pressure available and more consistent. This synergizesvery well with Harbinger of Doom.
You can choose 3 of the following PvP talents. Each ofthem have their uses, but some are better for certain strategies than others.These talents are sorted into General PvP Talents that can be applied toalmost any situation, and Situational PvP Talents that require certainenemy compositions, brackets, or environments to excel in. Unholy hasa great deal of viable PvP talents, so all the best use cases willbe outlined here for you to choose the proper three for thetype of content or composition you are playing.
Raise Abomination applies wounds, your disease, and deals a fairamount of damage. This is a lot of value from one cooldown, and helps establishthe powerful burst window that Unholy provides right now. As mentioned, thistalent has great synergy with Army of the Damned.
Strangulate is a very impactful crowd control effect. Itcosts no resources, has no cast time, and lasts 4 seconds on a short1-minute cooldown. Because of this, you will tend to setup your ownCC chain with Asphyxiate into Strangulate. Thisis going to be very difficult for a healer to deal with, becauseeven if they use their trinket on one effect, they still have tosit the other. You will want to use your burst cooldowns duringthese windows to make sure the CC will result in a kill.
Necrotic Wounds is a very powerful Mortal Wounds-type effectthat stacks with other effects of similar nature. It is a somewhat trickytalent to use, as when you burst a wound, you will start a 12-second timer.Any additional wounds you burst in this period stacks this Mortal Woundseffect higher and it will cap out at 6. However, it will not reset theduration of the effect. Therefore, you will want to burst as many woundsat the beginning of each of these 12-second windows as you can, resultingin you pooling your wounds near the end of the windows. If you can masterthis cyclical pattern, you will be extremely disruptive toward enemy healersthat will struggle to heal through the 30% healing reduction at maximum stacks!
Necrotic Aura is a very simple talent that will increase the magicaldamage taken by any enemy within an 8-yard radius of you. All spellcasters areprimarily magic damage, but many melee such as fellow Death Knights or DemonHunters will also do a fair amount of magic damage. Therefore, if your compositioncould use just a little bit more “oomph” to land kills, this talent is a verysimple pick that will increase all your pressure in every window.
Doomburst is a very synergistic talent as there are a lot ofcurrent effects that happen when a wound is burst. Having another way toburst wounds, especially at a range, can be extremely impactful. Furthermore,if you are using it at range you can apply a massive 90% slow to the enemy,allowing you to stop them from kiting for a brief moment allowing you toincrease uptime. This is another pressure-oriented PvP talent but canbe very impactful.
Life and Death is a PvP Talent that should only be used inRated Battlegrounds. It scales tremendously well with the amount of playerson the enemy team, and RBGs have the most players available in them for ratedcontent. The more players getting dispelled and healed the more impact it willhave and it is practically a mandatory talent for that environment.
Dark Simulacrum is one of the more interesting spells in the gamecurrently. It is extremely powerful against spammable CC effects, such as
Cyclone as well as powerful healing cooldownssuch as
Life Cocoon. It is a neat addition to Death Knight”s toolkit,while having a high skill-cap and awareness requirement.
Dome of Ancient Shadow is very powerful for team survivability andshould be used in almost every spell cleave where you will not be targeted.It provides an answer to the “setups” of any comp that deals with magicaldamage. This also handles rot comps extremely well, as stacking in it allowsyour team to stabilize through the sustained pressure.
Spellwarden is a remarkably powerful survivability tool. It getsmost of its value against wizard compositions, but can actually providea lot of healing against any class with spell damage including otherDeath Knights or Retribution Paladins. This talent also provides a lot ofdisruption in the form of cast speed reduction making it a no-brainerinto any spell cleaves.
Death”s Echo is the ultimate utility answer. A second chargeof very impactful mobility and anti-mobility options can be used against anycomposition you want to disrupt as much as possible. Compositions like Rogue/Mageand Hunter/Feral are prime examples where this PVP talent would come in handy.You can even get a second charge of Death and Decay to stop enemydrinks, pull out players in stealth, or get tremendous synergy withthe Covenant ability
04 Jul. 2021: Updated for Patch 9.1 of Shadowlands.20 Mar. 2021: Reviewed for Patch 188.8.131.52 Feb. 2021: Updated to highlight Necrotic Strike synergies.05 Dec. 2020: Updated for Shadowlands Season 1.26 Oct. 2020: Updated Talent Table.
14 Oct. 2020: Updated for Shadowlands pre-patch.