Unholy Death Knight Review - Battle for Azeroth Community Opinions
Throughout the pre-patch, we'll be launching a community opinions article for every class and spec. We're continuing our Battle for Azeroth Class Reviews and in this post, we'll be taking a look at the state of Unholy DK. See if this spec appeals to you in Battle for Azeroth!
We reached out to the Unholy Death Knight community to give their thoughts and opinions on the changes and current state of the spec.
If this spec appeals to you after reading this article, check out our
Battle for Azeroth Unholy DK Guide
- Banter is a terrible DK who retired because he was so bad. Now completely washed up, he did what all power hungry people do in his position, became a Discord moderator. Now out of retirement, Banter spends his time not listening to other people’s opinions, and banning people who contradict his feelycrafting to make up for playing like hot trash.
💪 - Guide writer, theorycrafter and contributor in the Acherus discord.
- Useless minion and raider in <Wicked Vigilantes>
- Tzo is a helpful minion in the Acherus Discord and raids in Afro Ninjas.
- Disgusting Unholy Parselord from Unrivaled on Stormreaver
“How we lookin Doc?”
Unholy has come a long way over the course of the BFA beta, having been nigh unplayable prior to the hefty talent shake up, which no one saw coming. Unholy plays much the same as Legion at its core but is no longer funneled into ST or AoE exclusively, and is a much more versatile spec because of it.
Overall, if you enjoyed Unholy throughout Legion, you will certainly have a good chance at liking it in Battle for Azeroth. Unholy is also viable in more than just one aspect of the game, which was hardly seen throughout Legion now that it has a larger toolkit that can handle different AoE scenarios, such as using
, while still keeping respectable single target damage.
Another noteworthy change is that the cooldown reduction of
still exists, and is now baseline, similar to the talent Shadow Infusion in Legion. This effectively makes the cooldown of
slightly smaller (which will decrease even further as the expansion goes on, since the GCD/min will increase with our increasing Haste values, leading us to cast more
s per minute).
Gameplay -- The “Wound” system
While mostly unchanged, something very important to note is the change to
(the “Wound” system). With the change from an 8 wound cap to a 6 wound cap, with
now applying 2-3 wounds down from 2-4 and
costing 4 wounds; opener rng is effectively eliminated &
will always follow a double
All in all, these minor changes reduce the amount of variance when it comes to the wound system, leading to the system feeling more fair and predictable
- This is one of the largest issues with current Unholy, yet it still exists as a talent. Ideas such as making it transform while
is active, making it scale with our mastery or even just giving us a replica of our current pet. All of us agree that Alfred the Archer needs some changes.
Banter - Technical/Theoretical Issues of All Will Serve
While the talent has various AI issues, and could see some use in PvP (in its BfA iteration), it is unlikely the talent will see PvE play with its current iteration (same mechanics as Legion, but without the perk of no CD on
Something noteworthy though, is that Vers is looking to be better for Unholy in BfA than it was for Legion, and this is purely where AWS gets its scaling (since it deals physical damage). If there is a rework in a later patch, where the AI issues get ironed out, and the pet can acquire additional scaling with Mastery (similar to our friend Gary the Gargoyle & if Mastery is still as useful as it has been in Legion), as well as having scaling from Vers, we could see this talent becoming popular.
and the L90 Talent Row
- Having no clear single target application feels problematic with this row.
feels like a worse version of
and Blizzard outlined they do not wish for us to use
single target. Replacing
with something passive would answer these concerns.
An important issue that the
debate has raised is Unholy’s lack of strong sustained AoE, an area where Frost shines. Some of the various suggestions people have to improve or change
involve removing this one weakness that Unholy has, in comparison to Frost.
So while this talent could be made more appealing, this is also an area where Frost becomes more appealing in comparison (constant and reliable AoE through Frostscythe spam, or Breath of Sindragosa), which is important when balancing two DPS specs for a class.
Unfortunately, not changing this talent will leave the row completely useless for single target.
doesn’t have to change, but something on this row does
Additional Note: Ironically - as of pre-patch,
are very minor increases in single target, and worth casting in the rotation. This does contradict what was stated by blue posts, so we will have to wait and see if this tuning is accidental or not.
- Dark Arbiter has a successor in
, functioning much the same as Arbiter did in Legion but with a nerfed ramp up (2 Runic Power - 1% increased damage). Lasting 30 seconds on a 3 minute cooldown, it covers more of Bloodlust and aligns with the racial: Berserking. Consequently, baseline
has been removed.
The uncontrollable variance of Dark Arbiter is something that many people didn't like about the talent. Amazing pulls could give you an adrenaline kick with an 80 million damage Arbiter, but a lackluster pull could also make you feel really bad with a 30 million DA. I’m sure most raiders know the pain of their Death Knight’s comparing how big their Dark Arbiter pulls were, almost as if they were overcompensating for something (their mechanical prowess, obviously).
Essentially, the reduced proc rate of
(through the loss of Double Doom, and the loss of being able to take this alongside
) will reduce the variance of the new
; since a higher percentage of your
’s used to empower Gary will now come from building Runic Power instead of from procs.
Something that has been pointed out though, is the distribution of critical strikes. Crit’s will still contribute to the randomness involved, and thanks to the increased duration/number of casts, could be more of a determining factor in how big your Garg is.
- Overall this talent is very satisfying, with the change from costing 1 rune with 3 charges (Legion), to 30 runic power with no charge (BfA). This removes the need to use
in AoE scenarios and gives us a source of active AoE detached from
- The extra range is nice but not enough to warrant picking it in any difficult scenario, even for encounter’s where it would make sense, such as Aggramar. Ideally, this talent would function far better if it’s secondary effect was simply “
has two charges”, but in its current state, we do not see this talent being a good pick.
- At first glance, this talent seems very boring for its row but it fills the same niche as our T20 set bonus and can be very strong when paired with
in M+ so that you can use
for multiple bosses for a decent chunk of damage.
However, Tzo did point out that this talent can be used in conjunction with Ghoulish Monstrosity, which will certainly lead to some ‘interesting’ PvP situations.
- So far the utility is solid within the Unholy talent tree, getting 2 dedicated utility rows. We have the ability to slow packs through DnD with
- replacing our spammable 50% - 10 second snare in Debilitating Infestation in Legion.
- a budget grip cooldown that probably won’t see use outside of leveling or some battlegrounds, and we still get to keep
, albeit with a slight nerf. We also have
back which is amazing for self utility. We get to keep
as a talent, and
still exists, now in the form of a talent (sadly, for some), but is pretty cool since it works as an additional movement CD; it does not replace
The addition of
gives us an overall superior option for movement speed increase. The longer duration, the ability to use spells when it's active and the knockback immunity are all aspects that render this new spell far better than
. Being able to use both for an encounter will certainly make future encounters interesting.
- It is worth noting that
got buffed to 30%, which can help out with dps DKs being viable for longer when pushing M+. Unholy still has
, and now
, but we unfortunately no longer have Unholy Endurance, which will be greatly missed.
Fortunately, baseline Unholy feels a lot more like a complete spec in Battle for Azeroth than Legion Unholy did without the Artifact/Legendaries, but unfortunately, the Azerite Traits don’t seem to be as creative as some of the Artifact Traits/Legendary bonuses. One of the more interesting ones,
, adds some interesting gameplay into the mix with the ability to temporarily gain strength, based on the number of recently burst wounds.
is probably the best trait in terms of Quality of Life, with a secondary effect of boosting the %chance of getting the maximum 3 wounds off
by a considerable amount. Unfortunately though, the maximum QoL bonus does not change when stacking multiple of the same trait (Damage is increased, but the effect (at the time of writing 10% chance) will never increase), so this will hardly be noticed during regular play.
Outside of the two aforementioned traits though, no other Azerite traits seem to offer any big gameplay changes, contradictory to the original pitch for Azerite traits ,where they were conceived as “filling holes that losing the Artifact would create”. Instead, the design consensus ended up being to make certain Legion spells baseline (
), as well as polishing the talent tree/adding some there (As we’ve seen with countless specs, Blood and Frost included).
This is not a critique at the design team/overall design direction for classes in BfA. We are simply just very interested to see if Azerite traits will eventually contain more depth, as none of them really seem to fit any of these holes, but instead mostly just give you some incredibly minor passives; something, again, leaving the traits looking quite bland.
This could easily change in the future though, with the eventual tuning pass, and the ability to acquire more of these traits.
Looking Fit and Healthy
All in all, we’re feeling fairly positive about Unholy in BfA. Everything that player’s enjoy about its Legion incarnation is still there (Apoc being baseline,
being Arbiter 2.0), and everything else has been improved (
, DnD burst), leading to a much more fluid and versatile spec.
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