my death knight 10/10/51 build

and so the 2 most popular death knight (DK) builds after patch 3.1 are:

12/0/59,  recommended for those that are still starting Ulduar and have not a Conqueror’s/T8 set gear yet but have at least 4 pieces of the Valorous/T7 set


0/10/61, recommended for those with at least 4 pieces of the Conqueror’s/T8 set, or more.

most of the DK sites, blogs and forums recommend these 2 builds. i however went with another.  the not so popular 10/10/51 unholy build.  this has been floating around for quite a while now. certainly i am not the first to use this build i am sure.  but this one i did not copy.  i just read `talks` and references of the 10/10/51 build and thought i’d create my own. it’s not hard.  you just use your better judgement in distributing the points and pray you get lucky with it.  LOL!

when patch 3.1 came out, i was not happy with 12/0/59/.  it was just like the the old one, minus the +5% crit from  Dark Conviction, but the added mobility that comes with the run speed increase from an improved unholy presence.  0/10/61 puts you in with more threat since you don’t have Subversion invested into your talents. plus its a more suitable build with Ulduar gear. i didn’t like the latter for the reasons that, (1) since our guild is still learning Ulduar (now past Auriaya), i wouldn’t be of much help to our tanks grabbing the threat from them.  it’s not that our tanks are bad. they are very good. when my crits are in a string i am sure to grab aggro from Bosses or mobs, especially at the start of fights, even from our best paladin tank who is geared to the teeth in heroic Naxxramas gear. without Subversion, i’ve done this lots of times when i was still a dual-wielding (DW) death knight using the now defunct 0/32/39 shadow-frost with perma-ghoul build.  so i didn’t wanna repeat the times when, for example, during the adds fight on Thaddius, i was thrown instead of the tank.  weee.. . flying is FUN when you are not on a mount. LOL! and, (2) my gear is not Ulduar level yet. well i got 2-3 pieces, neck and ring and another one, from Ulduar. having a 2-piece Conqueror’s set would really get me started on this particular build.

so what is my 10/10/51 build?

well it just takes most of the important talents in Unholy, up to the 51st talent which is the Summon Gargoyle.  let’s go down from top to bottom of which talent i skipped or partially put some points on.

Unholy Tree – 51 points

(what i did not get or partly did)

Wandering Plague.  i didn’t take this talent at all.  for me it didn’t hold much allure.  even before patch 3.1, everytime i review my DPS meter, wandering plague was always at the bottom of the damage i’ve done, and it didn’t proc that often.  i’m not so sure how this talent really works, but it is definitely equal to your melee critical chance, and for this to work or to benefit the most, there should be more than one target nearby.  with my unbuffed critical strike rating going down from reshuffling my gear for hit and without Dark Conviction, this talent definitely didn’t get my interest.

Magic Suppresion.  no use getting this if you want to maximize your damage.  this is more of suvivability.  well they say a dead DPS is zero DPS. which is absolutely true.  most DPS builds won’t include this talent. so it’s your take.

Anti-Magic Zone.  didn’t bother on it.  this, in my opinion, is only useful in boss fights with heavy magic abilities, and you are assigned to lessen the blow from magic damage to the raid.  i don’t even think Unholy (UH) tanks get this ability.

Improved Unholy Presence.  most people recommend UH death knights to get this.  it will give you, according to their calculations and based on previous facts, a slightly higher DPS gain on running fights.  i would tell you to get it too.  Ulduar is full of running boss fights.  however i did not for my build to work.

Dirge. spent 1 talent point on this. just to reach higher talent tiers.  2.5 additional runic power is not so bad at all too.

Blood-Caked Blade. skipped this.  chance again! i placed everything instead on Necrosis which deals 20% additional Shadow damage on auto attacks.  from my DPS meter reviews on boss fights, next to my Scourge Strikes, melee (or white attacks) is the highest in overall damage.  while BCB is definitely not bad at all, i thought it would be best if i poured out the points on just Necrosis, giving me a flat 20% increase damage on all my white attacks.  BCB also doesn’t double-dip anymore.  they nerfed it.  it doesn’t crit too.  so why do i have high number of melee attacks, i wonder? perhaps i got too much haste? LOL!

note: i’ve been reading the forums heavily, and some say Necrosis is better than this, while some say otherwise.  most of the time, Necrosis stands out as the winner.  5% dps increase, compared to 3% on BCB.  that is point for point of the talent.

On A Pale Horse.  errr what?!  PVP perhaps?  don’t get this.

Corpse Explosion. very good on trash pulls for AOE damage.  doesn’t work all the time, since it doesn’t explode elemental or mechanical mobs.  but fun, FUN!  ok i skipped this.

Epidemic.  take this or not, this talent is really good. get it.  i did not get it though. hehe.. . i placed my points instead on Morbidity, which lessens the cooldown of my Death and Decay, while increasing the damage of my Death Coil for another 15%.  besides, didn’t blizzard increase the duration of 2 death knight main diseases by what, 3 seconds?  that’s good enough for me. if i had more talent points to spend, i’d definitely get this. but i need it for the other trees so i have to sacrifice something.

Unholy Command.  great for PVP and leveling!

Anticipation.  get it if you’re a tank!  enough said.. .

Ghoul Frenzy.  i have yet to try this. it doesn’t look very interesting.  plus you will have to put this in your rotation on when to blow it since it uses a rune.  this will just add more headaches to an already complicated UH rotation.

Frost Tree – 10 points

(what i have)

Improved Icy Touch.  3 of 3.  no explanations needed.

Runic Power Mastery.  not much choice here. they reshuffled most of the frost talents. then again it’s not too bad.  more RP means you will have enough juice to squeeze in a death coil or an uholy blight in between rune CDs or when your gargoyle is summoned.  you just got knocked back far, far away from melee range from a boss?  your DPS loss wont be so bad being a melee. with full RP  you could death coil twice, icy touch  1 or 2 depending on available frost runes, then death coil another 2 times.  if lucky, you get 6-8k death coil crits. yes this does happen. yes, i know the rule of never letting your RP bar go full.

Black Ice.  5 of 5.  they nerfed this for frost, so to speak.  but the overall gain from the 10% more damage in both frost and unholy spells is a win, especially that i am a shadow death knight.  stronger Scourge Strikes and all.  WOOT!

Blood Tree – 10 points

(what i have)

Butchery.  this is like our mp5 equivalent.  hehe.. .

Subversion.  less threat, more crit chance.  though UH DKs would only be able to use blood strikes.  lesser threat is generally a good idea!  would’ve been perfect if it also increased Scourge Strike crit chance. but then that would be too imba!

Bladed Armor.  3 of 5.  filler points which are definitely very good.  if you want, you can spend all your remaining points here.  but you lose out on  Two-Handed Weapon Specialization.

Two-Handed Weapon Specialization.  hmm.. . 4% increased damage to all weapon-based abilities.  definitely a go!

there you have it.  tailored to my gear and preference.  here is a link for my build.  try this if you want.  you might like it.  not to brag, but i top damage meters, and such, every so often with this build.  that would go for my guild and in PUGs given my gear level. my gear is not the best in slot.

for my glyphs i’ve always used the following except for the new Glyph of Dark Death which replaced the Glyph of Blood Strike.

Major Glpyhs

Glyph of Scourge Strike – 25% chance for this strike to cause Frost Fever and Blood Plague

Glyph of the Ghoul – gives your ghould additional 40% of your strength and stamina

Glyph of Dark Death – your death coil damage is increased by 15%

Minor Glpyhs

Glyph of Raise Dead – makes summoning your ghoul a free one. no more corpse dust needed.  this saves you bag space plus gold!

Glyph of Pestilence – extends the effective radius by which your diseases are spread via pestilence by another 5 yards.

Glpyh of Horn of Winter – increases the duration of your Horn of Winter ability by 1 minute.

Xzeeviera of Kul Tiras

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Notice: This article was published on May 19, 2009 and the content above may be out of date.