How to Talent and Gear for PvP? The Death Knight


Right now (patch 5.4), for PvP, the best specializations for Death Knights are Unholy and Frost. Unholy is superior to Frost in this patch, though. 

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There has been minor changes with this patch, so everything is pretty much the same than last season. Things to note are that Ice-Bound fortitude now doesn’t cost anything. Very good thing, and that Death Siphon had its damage increased by 10%. That doesn’t mean much, though so I stick with Conversion as a talent (we will see about them later). 

In this very long tip, we will see the talents to choose (and why), the glyphs to choose (and why), stats priority (and why) and the gems and enchants, which will be best to use in PvP.



1. Rolling Blood:An excellent ability which gives a quick disease spreading (or just to act as a free outbreak). Very good thing to put the opposite team’s healers at work and to keep pressure.

2. Lichborne:Anti-Magic Zone has be redesigned. It reduces damage taken in area of effect by 40% for three seconds. It doesn’t have a cap anymore and no longer scale with strength. This is a very heavy nerf. It might have been done in function of PvE-gameplay, I wouldn’t know, but in PvP, this is a very heavy nerf, making this talent pointless. Purgatory is like a kind of “Cauterize”, 3 minutes cooldown, no control over it… No thank you.

3. Asphyxiate:Depending on the partner you are working with, it might be needed or not. If you are playing with a rogue, who as a variety of stuns, you might not need it and Chilblains is interesting to take. But if you are alone or with a partner who cannot stun that much, Asphyxiate is great: it gives you 5 seconds to get heavy necrotic strikes out before your enemy can outheal them. Healers coming out from a stun with around 30% health and get a 150-200k Necrotic stack are usually in very bad troubles.

4. Conversion:I prefer conversion, but Death Pact is also a pretty good one. Death Pact is a good burst healing, but Conversion is most useful in my opinion because it helps to counter sustained damage like DoTs (Damage over Time) very well, which Death Pact cannot do. Death Siphon is a pretty weak healing and even though it had its damage increased by 10%… It is not worth taking.

5. Blood Tap:Blood Tap is simply better because you can choose to stack necrotics (for a burst) whenever you want. You can get additional death runes and effectively being able to stack necrotic more than twice in a row (without the use of Empower Rune Weapon).

6. Desecrated Ground: Gorefiend’s Grasp has been nerfed a while ago and is now uninteresting for PvP, Remorsless Winter hasn’t many good uses in PvP. Any good player will easily avoid it… It can be an annoyance to enemies in battlegrounds with objectives like bunkers and nod defense, but except that, Desecrated Ground, an extra trinket is best. It can be a nightmare for melee, range or caster if you use it right and break or prevent their burst. With Desecrated Ground, your Death Knight gets four ways to escape crowd control and stun: Trinket, Anti-magic Bubble, Icebound Fortitude and Desecrated Ground… Now you’re mobile!


Major Glyphs:

Six glyphs are very interesting:

Glyph of shifting presence:You retain 70% of your Runic Power when switching Presences. It can save your life when you are focused and have to switch to Blood Presence to sustain heavy damage and don’t want to lose Runic Power.

Regenerative magic:If Anti-Magic Shell expires after its full duration, the cooldown is reduced by up to 50%, based on the amount of damage absorption remaining. It is a new and very useful glyph which was added in 5.4.

Glyph of Death and Decay: Your Death and Decay now also reduce movement speed of the enemy by 50%. You have more time to land some heavy DPS on the enemy.

Glyph of Icy Touch:Your Icy Touch dispels one helpful Magic effect from the target. Very annoying in PvP, you can remove the enemy’s buffs, and they do not like that very much.

Glyph of Dark Simulacrum:Reduces the cooldown of Dark Simulacrum by 30 sec and increases its duration by 4 sec. It is situational and depends whether you use and will use Dark Simulacrum in the upcoming fight. If you do not fight a caster, this will be useless, of course.

Glyph of Anti-Magic Shell:Causes your Anti-Magic Shell to absorb all incoming magical damage, up to the absorption limit. Very useful glyph. Let’s say you have 400k health. If you use Anti-Magic Shell (with or without the glyph) you will have a 200k shield (50% of max health).

Without the glyph, the shield absorbs 75% of the damage dealt by a spell. For example, if a warlock throw a 160k Chaos Bolt at you. The Bolt would only hit you for 40k and consume 120k of the shield, leaving you with 360k health and an 80k shield.

With the glyph, the shield will absorb the entire 160k Chaos Bolt, leaving you with 400k health and a 40k shield. If you pop up your Anti-Magic shell at the right time, it might make you almost invulnerable.

Minor Glyphs:

You only have two interesting minor glyphs (which is pretty much in fact).

Glyph of Resilient Grip:This is a mandatory minor glyph. When your Death Grip ability fails because its target is immune, its cooldown is reset. This is very good in PvP if you try to Death Grip another Death Knight who has Pillar of Frost up, or a Paladin who is bubbled or anyone immune to Death Grip. Then you get another chance.

Death embrace: Your Death Coil refunds 20 Runic Power when used to heal an allied minion, but will no longer trigger Blood Tap when used this way. Note that this glyph also works on other allied death knights that use Lichborne, since they are undead. It is a nice way to heal friends and minions, but also a nice way to restore Runic Power.


Your stat-priority will be: 

3% Hit > Strength > Mastery > Haste > Expertise > Crit.

Hit:Most important one. If you do not have 3% hit, you will miss. At 3% hit, you will not miss one hit. You can’t hurt anyone if you don’t hit. So the 3% hit, is mandatory and the most important.

Strength:All your damage scale with strength, whether we speak of your strikes, your dots and everything. So put as much strength on everything as you can.

Mastery:Mastery increases your shadow damage, dots, deathcoil which scale with it.

Haste:It is a decent stat for the Death Knight but not as important as it has been. Mastery is more important.

Expertise: This is going with the gear, so don’t worry about it, by the time you have geared yourself up, your expertise will be as needed.

Crit.: This is not very important for a Death Knight.


Last patches, there were some very good PvE trinkets that you could use in PvP, but this is over now, especially since Blizzard added +2600 resilience if you have a set of PvP-trinkets. You can always use extra resilience because sooner or later, in a Battleground or in an arena, you will be focused, and extra resilience will be very handy.

So for now, PvP gear is best for PvP.


PvP-Power is not really useful so gem for your primary stats where your socket bonus isn’t strength, or even if it is but if you get less. Let’s say you put a Tense Imperial Amethyst in your gloves’ blue socket. It has 80 strength and 80 PvPPower. Socket bonus gives +60 strength. Well 80str. + 60str. = 140 str. right? 

If you forget socket bonus and gem a Bold Primordial Ruby, you get 160 strength. In fact, you get more. Since you don’t care about PvP-Power… You don’t have to go for the socket bonus. Not in this patch, at least.

So here are the gems I recommend:

Head:Reverberating Primal Diamond (216 strength – 3% crit.)

Bold primordial Ruby (160 strength)

Shoulders:Skillfuld vermilion Onyx (80 strength – 160 mastery)

Chest:2 x Bold primordial Ruby (160 strength)

Gloves:Bold primordial Ruby (160 strength)

Belt:2 x Bold primordial Ruby (160 strength)

Boots: Resplendant Vermilion Onyx (80 strength – 80 resilience) but Bold primordial Ruby (160 strength) is quite okay.


After you have reach hit cap (3%), reforge all that you can to mastery. I would recommend you to use the add-on Reforge Lite (you can read about it in this tip) and put it to reforge: Hit (1020 – 3%), Mastery, Haste and drop the rest.


Also here, enchant as much as possible with strength.

Shoulders: Greater Tiger Fang (200 strength – 100 Critical strike), it is pretty much the only available shoulder enchant for a Death Knight, so there is not much else to do.

Cloak: Superior Critical Strike (180 crit.) – We don’t have much choice on this one.

Chest: Glorious Stats (80 to all stats) – Many Death Knight prefer resilience on this one. It might depend on your play style if you want to sustain a bit more damage or if you prefer to do a bit more damage and having all stats a bit up. For a Death Knight, I would go Glorious Stats.

Bracers: Exceptional strength (180 strength).

Gloves: Super strength (170 strength).

Belt: Belt buckle with Bold Primordial Ruby (160 strength).

Legs: Angerhide Leg Armor. Pretty much the only choice we have (285 strength – 165 critical strike).

Boots: Pandaren’s Step, also the only viable choice (140 mastery – minor speed increase).

Weapon: Rune of the Fallen crusader.

Now you’re ready to PvP!

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 1 comments
Sweg - April 17, 2015

Thank you it really helped me alot to get started with my unholy dk


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