Death Knight Combat

Solo Play Unholy

Playing a Death Knight can be an incredible experience, able to choose to either tank or DPS deepening on which spec they choose, the Death Knight is a versatile class that will never leave the player bored. Players typically choose one or the other (tanking or DPS) and collect gear accordingly, however, it is quite possible with the Death Knight to be accomplished at both. No matter how you choose to play your Death Knight, you will want to do it well. Most of your skill will come from hours and hours of play time, but, below you will find some helpful information to hopefully point you in the right direction:

Death Knight Solo Play

Soloing as Death Knight can be a tricky, yet rewarding, experience. Death Knights can not only handle larger groups of mobs because of their ability to wear heavy armor, but they can also dish out some crazy DPS combined with self heals that seal the deal to soloing awesomeness. No matter what spec you choose with the Death Knight soloing will be a piece of cake.

Simply be sure that all self buffs are active (example: Horn of Winter), you are at full health, and pull away. Defeat the mob using any combination of abilities you desire. Solo play is pretty easy so you can pretty much auto attack most enemies to death. Remember though, soloing is a prime place to experiment with new abilities and rotations and familiarize yourself with your class.

Death Knight Unholy DPS

Those who choose the path of the Unholy Death Knight will want to start off in Unholy Presence and will stick to this Presence in almost all situations. Unholy Dks will also want to Runeforge their weapons with Rune of the Fallen Crusader for optimal damage. While Dual-Wielding is not unheard of in this spec, most will agree that it is no longer viable because of this Two-Handed Weapons tend to be the norm found within this spec.

Death Knights of any spec have no true rotation. Instead each spec has a set list of priorities leaving an open range for how the Death Knight plays. The Unholy single target priority list looks something like this:

  • Diseases
  • Dark Transformation
  • Death and Decay/Scourge Strike (Only if Unholy/Unholy or Death Runes are up)
  • Festering Strike (Only if Blood Boil or Frost Fever are up)
  • Death Coil
  • Death and Decay/Scourge Strike
  • Festering Strike
  • Horn of Winter

Looking to do some multi-target DPS? No worries! Unholy Death Knights are more than capable. See the priority list below:

  • Diseases & Pestilence
  • Dark Transformation
  • Death and Decay/Scourge Strike (Unholy/Unholy or Death Runes up)
  • Blood Boil (Blood Boil and Frost Fever are up)
  • Death Coil
  • Icy Touch

Unholy Death Knights also have the useful ability to have a permanent Ghoul. This pet acts much like the Hunter pet and will need to be monitored by the Death Knight in order to produce the best results. For extra control over your pet it may be helpful to bind the Ghoul’s Attack/Follow/Stay commands to buttons or keys you can get to in a pinch.

Death Knight Frost DPS

Currently unlike the other Death Knight specs Frost Death Knights have the option to use either a Two-Handed Weapon or Dual-Wield. If using a Two-Handed Weapon the DK should use Rune of the Fallen Crusader. If Dual-Wielding the DK should use Rune of Razoreice on the main hand weapon and Rune of the Fallen Crusader on their off-hand weapon. Frost Death Knights will primarily be found using Unholy Presence.

Death Knights of any spec have no true rotation. Instead each spec has a set list of priorities leaving an open range for how the Death Knight plays. The Frost single target priority list looks something like this:

  • Diseases
  • Obliterate (if both Frost/Unholy pairs or both Death Runes are available or Killing Machine is up)
  • Frost Strike (if Runic Power is full)
  • Rime
  • Obliterate
  • Frost Strike
  • Horn of Winter

Looking to do some serious AOE damage with your Frost specced Death Knight? Check out the priority list below to find out how:

  • Howling Blast (Only if both Frost Runes and/or Death Runes are available)
  • Death and Decay/Plague Strike (only if both Unholy Runes are available)
  • Frost Strike (Only if Runic Power is full)
  • Howling Blast
  • Death and Decay/Plague Strike
  • Frost Strike
  • Horn of Winter

Death Knight Blood Tanking

The Death Knight tank is like no other tank in game, as they use no shield to protect themselves. Because of this the Death Knight tank is left with the option of either a Two-Handed Weapon or Dual-wielding. While you do have the option and while it may be appealing visually, Dual-Wielding is currently NOT viable as a DK tank and Two-Handed tanking is the way to go

Now that you know what you should be tanking with lets get on to what you should do once you actually start…you know…tanking. The Death Knight tank has no clear rotation, instead they have a sort of priority list:

  • Outbreak (on cooldown)
  • Death Strike (highest priority)
  • Rune Strike
  • Rune Tap (only if 90% or less health)
  • Horn of Winter
  • Heart Strike/Blood Boil

Basically you want to put up your diseases then use Death Strike as often as possible. Rune Strike when you need the threat and to proc Runic Empowerment, and use Heart Strike for additional threat and to maintain your blade barrier. During this time you will also want to be sure to keep up both diseases using Outbreak to provide additional damage reduction key to your survival.

Looking to tank more than one enemy at a time? No worries the priority list for multiple targets looks something like this:

  • Death and Decay
  • Outbreak (on cooldown)
  • Pestilence (if Outbreak is used)
  • Death Strike
  • Rune Strike
  • Blood Boil



About the Author

Last Updated:

Around the Web