Oct 9th: patch 3.3 will change unholy again, back to a spec with reaping, epidemic and a traditional deep unholy build. For Unholy in patch 3.3: read my full analysis.
The below is accurate for patch 3.22
If you’ve been reading Elitist Jerks unholy dps thread, you’ll know this, but many people can’t bear reading those threads so this will be important news. In either case, what I’m bringing is a tank build based on the changes in unholy.
What’s changed is that a few talents which used to be sacrosanct in all unholy builds are no longer:
- epidemic (longer diseases) and reaping (death runes) are not used
- for tanks, epidemic is optional, but reaping is definitely out
- the new rotation is only 10 seconds long.
I have found that a tank build based on this new model generates higher threat than the best I could get out of a traditional unholy build. The analysis of a no-epidemic build has been done by those clever chaps at EJ, and I do not take credit for it, I just offer my adaption for tanking. Probably, for tanks it’ll be no-reaping and deeps will also drop epidemic, but both will do this new short rotation.
Another factor is that in the current endgame, many DK tanks do not value AMS or AMZ. Personally I like to have them for flexibility in all situations, but if you drop them that gives another 4 points you can put into threat talents. The guys at EJ have mixed opinions on it but the weight tends toward dropping them for endgame tanking in return for more threat.
So what is the highest threat 3.22 unholy tank build?
Based on simulations I did, testing various talents and reported at EJ, there are actually two best specs.
- With AMS and AMZ, the best is 11-8-52
- if you drop those, you can pick up blood-caked blade and get 12-8-51.
- optionally you can move 2 points from ravenous dead into epidemic, to make AOE a little easier due to disease length, without much loss of single-target threat. It’ll probably end up being how the final recommendation looks.
Further discussion at EJ.
Blood-caked blade will generate some boss parry-haste, which is why generally tanks don’t take it. However it does give significant threat. At endgame, tanks have so much expertise this is largely a negated risk in the same way that dual-wield tanking is not so bad.
Also I have gone with 2 scent of blood to generate RP for rune strikes, since unholy needs all the single-target threat is can get. If you don’t like SoB, put the points in two-handed spec or wandering plague.
How do I use the no-epidemic build then?
The difference with this build is you run a simplified rotation of:
|IT – PS – SS – BS – BS – DC – (HoW) – DC|
|IT – PS – SS – BS – BS – DC – DC|
The Horn of Winter (HoW) is a filler in case you have nothing else to do, since it generates runic power.
How do I AOE with no epidemic?
This needs further real-world testing, but on paper it should be OK. Longer diseases do help in an AOE situation, and the no-epidemic build doesn’t have that.
Also, because desolation’s 5% damage requires a blood strike you will be doing that rather than a blood boil. This is counter to normal playstyle. You’ll be relying on DnD and diseases for AOE. The rotation looks like this:
|DnD – IT – PS – Pestilence – DC – HoW|
|IT – PS – Pestilence – BS – SS – DC – DC|
A DPSer will spread diseases first before DnD. If you have the luxury of this in an AOE tanking situation, you should do it since the output is higher, but generally we need threat laid down first.
Note there is no blood boil, it’s blood strike to proc desolation.
You can understand this more at the source, EJ DPS for unholy. I have included everything you need to know here, but if you want to understand it, EJ has the facts.
How do I gear for threat?
The best stats for threat in this spec, are strength, then hit and expertise. Weightings:
| AttackPower | 1
| Strength | 2.16
| Agility | 0.8
| CritRating | 1.28
| HasteRating | 1.04
| ArmorPenetrationRating | 0.8
| ExpertiseRating | 1.68
| ExpertiseRating After Dodge Cap | 0.72
| BeforeMeleeHitCap<8% | 2
| SpellHitRating | 0.62
Why tank as unholy?
It’s pretty simple, in order:
- Bone shield
- ebon plaguebringer for the raid
- AOE power.
Bone shield is the best DK tanking cooldown in my opinion. I love it. Others rate vampiric blood as the best, and it’s pretty hard to argue either way. They’re both superb. Personally, bone shield is my favourite and a lot of tanks agree; they’re just frustrated the rest of unholy’s tree isn’t equivalently awesome. You can put up bone shield pre-emptively and its long duration lets you run into a fight with it up for the ugly initial element of a fight. It scales with avoidance. Its damage reduction is impressive for a one-minute cooldown. It looks cool too.
Ebon Plaguebringer is unique insofar that a DK can spread it to multiple targets easily. You might find there is no Unholy DPSer in your raid, so it’s valuable if the tank can bring it. Crypt fever+30% to diseases is a notable boost to shadow priest and DK dps.
Updated October 1st: changed title to ‘no reaping’ since really epidemic is optional, and fixed stat weightings to correct for attack power error in earlier sims.
Traditional unholy spec
If you want information on the traditional unholy spec with death runes and longer diseases:
Simulation work on a traditional unholy spec (with epidemic and reaping) results, including Suno’s Fireside build and Unholy-Vot3W. I also did a simulation to work out the then highest threat talents in 3.22.