Unholy has changed: no reaping

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:

  1. Bone shield
  2. ebon plaguebringer for the raid
  3. 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 1stchanged 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.

Related Posts:

28 comments to Unholy has changed: no reaping

  • Gravity
    Twitter: gravitydk

    Guys I’m testing this, but right now think you should use the IT Glyph not the Dark Death glyph. Gives slightly less dps but the same threat because you do more rune strikes. Also testing per Banishedone’s question, and results posted on EJ

    • Leucyte

      Since you actually went through the trouble of testing I’ll forgive you for mixing us up. ;)
      Been pondering on and off about the lack of death runes as well, but with my normal unholy usage pattern I don’t think it will pose  a problem, outside of the possibility of cramming in an extra death strike. Guess it will have to be tested to get a feel for it. The IT glyph is also an interesting idea.
      Now, to take the plunge of moving magic suppression into BCB or not? :)
      Thanks for doing and presenting all this work by the way!

      • Gravity
        Twitter: gravitydk

        You’re welcome, and I do enjoy it of course. If possible, keep AMS/AMZ if you can afford to in terms of threat. All depends how much the deeps are chasing your threat ceiling. :)

  • Noobie

    Hi, im pretty sure this is a noob question, but when using this unholy tanking spec, do you have unholy or frost presence on? Because it looks like the frost presence with the unholy spec would be more “tank-like” imo….  same with the blood tanking spec, which presence do you use? and why?

    • Gravity
      Twitter: gravitydk

      You can only tank in frost presence, regardless of which tree you spec into. The others are for dps. Checking the tooltips will make it clear why (more armour and threat).

      The way the presences are named frost/unholy/blood is confusing for new DKs. There is no relationship at all between presence (think of them like a warrior’s stances) and the tank spec tree you choose.

      Frost presence could be called “tank presence”, blood “hard hitting dps presence” and unholy “twitchy dps presence”.

  • hellsmasherr

    i was just wondering, im tryin out this spec it seems to be a decent unholy, going with the amz ams spec, what glyphs would i use

  • What do you think of this spec?
    I don’t see the reason for Vicious Strike and Scent of Blood seems too rare to work to be effective.  IMHO, of course.