Written by Fenira
DK DPS Guide v2 (UPDATED FOR 3.2.2)
Sigils and Their Meanings - How to effectively use magic symbols, sigils, and signs and their meanings in witchcraft, astrology, horoscopes, and Wicca for personal strength, power, and family unity. The Celts were of the iron age and were led by warrior chiefs. The Celtics were people who lived in Britain, Early Europe around the year 500 BC and 400 AD.
Table of contents
2 Rotations, Ability Usage and Gear/Gem Style
2.1 Unholy Rotation
2.2 Blood Rotation
2.3 Frost Rotation
6. Personal Preference
ALL SPECS USE BLOOD PRESENCE, Gylphs are included in the specs.
Expertise: 6,5% or 26 Expertise needed for Dodge cap - Different specs gain the following Expertise:
Blood 6 - Frost 5 - Unholy 5 (these do show in character sheet)
Hit Rating: 8% is the Hit cap for special and 2H attacks, 27% -3% for Nerves of Cold Steel for DW, keep in mind that those 3% also add up to special attacks for DW, so you'd only need to have 5% Hit as DW to never miss specials.
Spell hit cap is 17% - 3% for Misery -3% for Virulence = 11% needed. Only a few skills of ours use spell hit cap, Icy Touch, Death Coil, Unholy Blight, Howling Blast AND Mind Freeze, however it's highly adviseable to get the 289 Hit Rating as DW Frost. Remember that spell hit cap is on a different conversion ratio than melee hit (check your spell tab in character screen). You will be very close to spell hit cap at 8% melee hit (with Virulence).
It depends on the spec you use. As Blood you want to softcap ArP, which is a bit above 500 ArP Rating. DW Frost takes ArP as a gimmick, it's the 2nd best stat for that spec. ArP is useless for Unholy once again, maybe a bit better than Agility but who cares about that stat anyway. With Icecrown not being too far away, with Blood (no other spec) you might want to go for the ArP hardcap, which is around 1200 ArP, but NOT at the moment. Important Note: ArP is the 2nd best stat for Blood and Frost, but it's not as good as Strength after the recent nerf to ArP. So if you had to choose between an item that has Str/ArP and Str/Haste the choice should be quite easy depending on which spec you play.
This is the best stat for all specs, and it's recommended to gem for Strength, especially if you are a person that changes specs as often as normal people change underwear. The only reason to not gem Strength would be that you are missing Hit for the 8% or you're playing DW and are missing Expertise for the Expertise cap.
Some abbreviations used in this section:
IT - Icy Touch
PS - Plague Strike
BS - Blood Strike
HS - Heart Strike
DS - Death Strike
ERW - Empower Rune Weapon
DRW - Dancing Rune Weapon
OB - Obliterate
FS - Frost Strike
HB - Howling Blast
SS - Scourge Strike
DC - Death Coil
UB - Unholy Blight
FS - Frost Strike
DnD - Death and Decay
HoW - Horn of Winter
RP - Runic Power
PT - Pestilence
PS - IT - SS - BS - BS - DC - HoW - DC - PS - IT - SS - BS - BS - DC - DC
The rotation is pretty simple and you'll have plenty of time for it. Just make sure to never overcap RP because DC will be your hardest hitting ability.
PS - IT - Pestilence - DnD - DC - PS - IT - Pestilence – SS – BB - DC – DC
The best time to use a Gargoyle is at the 2nd part of the rotation, combined with ERW. However ERW won't always be up for when you want to use Gargoyle, in that case just make sure to use Gargoyle in the 2nd part of the rotation and maybe skip a DC if needed. It's important that you use Horn as often as you can to get more RP. You should also know that the Gargoyle benefits from your buffs at the moment you're summoning it, so if you have on use trinkets/pots/racials ready, make sure to pop them before you summon your Gargoyle.
Sigil of Vengeful Heart is what you should be using until you get your hands on the new Sigil of Virulence.
Some people might wonder why Black Ice isn't used anymore as Unholy, the reason is pretty simple. With 4 parts T9 your diseases gain the ability to crit, which means you want to boost your disease damage by as much as possible, with is achieved by having the 4% crit from Dark Conviction and the passive AP buff from Bladed Armor. Subversion is mandatory for Unholy now because without it your SS is just a gimp ability, pre 3.2.2 it was Subversion that was considered as waste of talent points because it had no DPS effect for Unholy, unless you were using OB.
OB falls behind now because it generates less RP now due to the Dirge change, that results in a DPS loss of 200-300 if you used OB instead of SS. The buff to Subversion boosts the SS damage to the level of OB pre 3.2.2, so this patch is actually a buff to Unholy.
This is the 2nd best stat for an Unholy DK and many people might wonder why. With the current state of Unholy our Auto Attack does the most damage when it comes to single target damage, and Haste has a great effect on it because it also boosts Necrosis and Blood-Caked Blade. But more important is that your pets gets 100% of its master's Haste which is pretty awesome for both your Ghoul and your Gargoyle. Apart from that Haste has an effect on your GCD, which can come in handy for this spec because you are spamming all the time.
It's useless, really. Don't use it for PvE.
PS-IT - HS - HS - DS - DC -> DS- HS - HS - HS - HS - Repeat
Note: It's important that you keep up your diseases, with either Death Runes or the Unholy/Frost. Your rotation can get a bit off for many reasons, like dodge, misses, movement fights and whatnot.
It's really important that you keep above 25 Runic Power - Death Strike glyph will cap damage on 25 Runic Power, so try not to go below. However dump all your RP if you know that you won't be using DS because you have Death Runes up already for example.
Dump your Runic power when your runes are refreshing - and dump RP before you cap it. The only exception to this rule is when you have a trinket proc like Mjolnir Runestone or Grim Toll, then you should just pump out as much physical damage as you can.
Dancing Rune Weapon
Try to use Hysteria before you use DRW. Also monitor your procs like Unholy Strength from Rune of Fallen Crusader, trinket procs like Greatness and then use them with these. Nowadays you just need the minimum amount of 60 RP for DRW to last its entire duration of 17s and it's not affected by Runic Power Mastery anymore. Make sure to refresh diseases once you have spawned your DRW to maximize its damage.
Sigil of Virulence is what will be used with the changes in 3.2.2, it's a decent DPS increase over the other Sigils and should make up for the ArP nerf.
As you might have read on our forums we always recommend you to either use Grim Toll or Mjolnir Runestone. The reason for this is that those trinkets bring you close to the ArP cap (which is 100%), the biggest boost you can get from trinkets. However if you're planning to go for the hardcap for future instances then you shouldn't use either of those trinkets once you reach around 50-60% ArP in your char screen.
Banner of Victory is a good alternative to the other ArP trinkets if you don't have them, it's also very easy to obtain because it drops in ToC 5 man normal.
It's still the good old 51/0/20, but you use Glyph of Disease instead of Glyph of Dark Death. This spec only becomes better with 4 parts T9 which gives your diseases a chance to crit. The reason to use Glyph of Disease is because you can 'roll' your diseases with it. This means that once your trinkets and Fallen Crusader proc you refresh diseases so they tick for more and with that glyph you can keep those high ticks running forever. Some people might encounter problems with 1/2 Epidemic, so just swap 1 point from Morbidity into Epidemic. There are discussions if this spec is even better with T8 gear, but the difference isn't noticeable however it should be with 4 parts T9. I didn't have the chance to test this spec out myself, but I'll update this guide once I had the chance to not be Unholy in ToC.
PS - IT - OB - BS - PT - FS -> OB - OB - OB - FS - FS > OB - OB - BS/PT - PT/BS - FS > OB - OB - OB ...
Side note: This rotation is very tight, you might end up having 0.5s left on your diseases before you use PT. In case your rotation fails make sure to reapply diseases as soon as possible. Also, it's no problem to cap RP, rather use OB as often as possible, use FS when your runes are on CD, it's really hard to make a proper rotation because you only have a few seconds for using FS.
There are 2 procs which you should always be aware of, those are Killing Machine (KM) and Freezing Fog (Rime). Both combined result in a DPS increase, but on their own are of minimal importance. If you get a Rime proc but not KM you just don't use Howling Blast (HB), unless you are fighting 4 or more enemies. If you have KM but not Rime you just use your runes and hope for a Rime proc. If that doesn't happen you just dump RP with FS and 'waste' a KM proc on it. Once every 2 minutes you should use Deatchill to force a so called KMRime proc, you don't have to have a KM in order to make HB crit. Just to keep it short: don't ever use Rime on it's own, combined with KM is when you use it, but that doesn't necessarily hold true for the other way round.
The best time to use this ability is when you just used BS/PT, then you Blood Tap and pop Unbreakable Armor. Once you have done that make sure to cancel Blood Tap so you don't run into problems with a Death Rune disappearing. It's highly adviseable to use a cancelaura macro for Blood Tap. Even after the recent nerf this ability received it still is a nice DPS boost because with the 1 minute cooldown and 20s uptime you have it up for 1/3 of the time, and it also fits in well with the 1 minute Blood Tap cooldown.
Good old Sigil of Awareness is the best Sigil for DW Frost when you're saving emblems for T9 gear. Once you're fully covered in T9 then you might consider switching to Sigil of Virulence. However, some people say that Awareness is the way to go and I have to agree considering the fact that endgame gear will have a lot of ArP. This boosts your OB damage even more, whereas the static 200 Strength just won't make the cut. My advice is, until you have all emblem gear you need, even tanking stuff just stick to Awareness and then try Virulence for yourself.
Sigils For Strength
This question is being asked often, so just to say it once and for all, don't ever use fast weapons for DW Frost. Even if you have coliseum weapons with 1.6 speed, ilvl 200 blue weapons with 2.6 speed will give you more DPS. The reason for that is because DW Frost has OB as main damage ability and so you want to use slow weapons in both hands for OB to hit harder. Unless your 1.6 weapon has 100 DPS more than your 2.6 weapon you should just give it a spot in your bank.
Use this spec if you have no Enhancement Shaman in your raid to buff you with Windfury Totem. This spec does less DPS than the other DW spec mentioned above, but the total raid DPS will increase with it if there is nobody else to provide 20% haste. Additionally the rotation is quite different because you can't use PT anymore to refresh diseases, so the rotation will be
PS - IT - OB - BS - BS -> OB - OB - OB -> OB - BS - BS - PS - IT
This results in much more time to dump RP with FS, so don't ever overcap RP.
For all specs
Take advantage of Anti Magic Shell (AMS) to gain more RP which will result in a DPS increase. Mimiron P2 is a perfect example of when to use it, you get the Heat debuff -> you use AMS and have a full RP bar which you can dump, a great DPS increase. It might be hard for DW Frost to fit in the additional RP dumps because of the tight rotation, but taking less damage because of AMS is never wrong even if it means you are capping RP.
The T9 set is the best set for us, by a huge margin. The 2 part T9 bonus is better than both from the T8 set together, and that holds true for all specs. It's highly advisable to buy the T9 shoulders and then either legs (Blood/Frost) or helm (Unholy) first.
The best professions for a DK are Blacksmithing and Jewelcrafting, that allows you to use the stats you desire instead of just AP if you were an enchanter or inscriptor for example.
Flask: Flask of Endless Rage
Food: Dragonfin Filet or Hit/Expertise Food if you aren't cap or at least close to it. You can also use Spiced Mammoth Treats to buff your pet if you're Unholy specced.
Unholy:Potion of Speed before you use your Gargoyle, and you can also use an Indestructible Potion.
Blood:Potion of Speed before you use DRW.
Frost:Insane Strength Potion try to use it at the same time as you use Unbreakable Armor, it's a great DPS boost.
I don't use many macros so I'll just list the ones I use, for the people who like using macros I suggest you just google it, personally I'm not a big fan of it.
Very important for almost every bossfight.
Bone Shield or UA macro
/cast Blood Tap
/cast Bone Shield
/cancelaura Blood Tap
Use this to not mess up your Death Runes. The best time to use it is when you just used your Death Runes and you see your Blood Runes being on cooldown with the other runes. You will have to hit the macro twice. Change Bone Shield with Unbreakable Armor if you're playing Frost.
/cast [target=PlayerName] Hysteria
This buffs a certain player in the raid with Hysteria without you having to target him, I usually use it on myself.
#showtooltip Dancing Rune Weapon
/cast [target=player] Dancing Rune Weapon
This macro spawns your DRW at you, and you should always be hitting a boss from his back.
ForteXorcist - An addon to track your diseases and your cooldowns, such as Gargoyle, DRW, UA etc. but it also shows internal trinket cooldowns for example your Greatness Card, but also Death's Choice and much more.
Omen - A threat meter, must have addon for tanks, but it's also important for DPS to know when to hold back.
Magic Runes - An addon to track the cooldown of your runes.
Out of the 3 specs mentioned above I consider all to be competitive. With the current tests we made in Ensidia it turns out to be that Unholy is the best spec in Coliseum because of its AoE capabilites. Blood became a pure single target spec after the cleave nerf of HS. There is one thing that can pull other specs ahead of Frost though and that is the amount of KMRime procs you get, which is just bad RNG. Blood also offers the best survivablity with the constant self healing you get. In Vampiric Blood you have a timer which is strong for bosses like Lord Jaraxxus where you have to receive a lot of healing in a short period of time. Apart from that I see all specs being just about the same when it comes to single target DPS, the big difference between those 3 specs is that Frost is much much harder to play.
The Frost rotation is very tight and bad latency, human failure or just movement bosses will result in a huge DPS loss. Personally I like to call Frost a 'stationary spec' because when you stand still, with a bit of luck it'll result in the highest personal DPS a spec can offer. The luck factor is quite large though, so in the end it'll turn out to be just the same DPS as Blood or Unholy, considering both specs are played right.
Blood on the other hand has a much more relaxed and enjoyable rotation. It's not like the old Unholy rotation where you could eat a whole pizza between rotation transitions, but it's also not as tight as Frost. It offers a lot of DPS, especially the T9 set has really good stats for Blood. Hysteria and DRW are 2 timers which you'll have to use wisely to maximize your DPS at all times and the variety in the spec is what makes me enjoy Blood the most.
As for Unholy, I personally don't like this spec, but it's by far the best AoE spec and it's very good for single target as well. It's boring because of the rotation and it heavily relies on your pet staying alive, which adds some micromanagement to your playstyle. I personally think that it's not the most enjoyable thing ever. Apart from that, people who like playing Unholy should give it a shot, and if you're doing any AoE fight there is no way around it. Keeping the pet alive was never a problem in Coliseum, apart from Northrend Beasts HM where the Night of the Dead talent didn't trigger on Icehowl's breath for whatever reason, I hope it's fixed in 3.2.2. Note that with the new changes Unholy once again uses different gear than Blood and Frost, for Blood and Frost it's Str > ArP > Crit > Haste whereas for Unholy it's Str > Haste > Crit > ArP, so changing specs will require more thought taking into account which gear sets you have in your bank/inventory.
For any further questions and discussion please head over to the forums. I will be keeping this guide updated as many changes might occur in 3.3.
Shoutouts to the Ensidia Death Knights for being the best.