Unholy Death Knight

Patch 8.3

Written by Miniaug Last Updated: 4th Mar, 2020

Azerite Traits

Azerite traits

Festermight: This is by far the best trait for Unholy DK in Battle for Azeroth for both Single Target and AoE! It gains insane value in combination with Infected Claws. Get as many of this as you can, even dropping item level for it can be acceptable in certain situations.

Magus of the Dead: A solid Single Target option that spawns when you use Apocalypse and Army of the Dead so it is extremely good with Festermight.

Heart of Darkness: A good trait, but you can get 3x Festermight and 3x Magus of the Dead from raid gear, so you don’t end up using this trait.

Helchains: A decent AoE option but out-scaled by Festermight.

Harrowing Decay: Single Target only. Quite a weak option you generally want to avoid this trait.

Cankerous Wounds: Single Target only. Also a weak option that should be avoided.

Bone Spike Graveyard: AoE Trait that should be avoided at all cost. Very weak.

Last Surprise: A very hard trait to play around. Adds a lot of complexity to the spec with a not so great payoff.

Azerite rotation changes


Be more conscious about your wounds and when to pop them. As Festermight has a static 20s duration that cannot be extended, you need to be careful not to pop wounds and/or cooldowns like Apocalypse at the very end of a Festermight window. Generally you want to pool wounds and runes to make sure you can start your next Festermight window strong.

Bone Spike Graveyard

Use Death and Decay on Single Target if you are using this trait


Be mindful of your positioning in relation to your pet and the enemies when using this Trait. You want to hit as many enemies as possible with the chain.

Last Surprise

When using this trait your Apocalypse also becomes an AoE cooldown so you might want to think about delaying it so the ghoul explosions will hit the maximum amount of enemies.

Recommended Azerite Traits

3x Festermight is mandatory for every situation.

For Single Target

Magus of the Dead / Undulating Tides on shoulders if you’re feeling risky.

For AoE

Helchains is an acceptable replacement for the above 2 traits on multi target fights if you do not have those 2. If you have them, don’t replace them. If you don’t have Helchains, stat proc traits are also good for AoE.


Major Essences

Vision of Perfection

Vision of Perfection: Spawns 2 Army of the Dead ghouls and 1 Magus of the Dead if you have a magus azerite trait. This is quite good for single target as you want to have 3x Magus of the Dead traits.

Blood of the Enemy

Blood of the Enemy: This essence is generally used when you want to burst something down, which happens to work extremely well with the Infected Claws and Bursting Sores build. This essence is mostly used in Mythic+ and for padding in raid. 

Essence of the Focusing Iris

Essence of the Focusing Iris: A decent alternative for raid AoE situations while you are not playing Infected Claws and Bursting Sores. Za’qul is a good example of this essence being extremely useful if your raid does not have enough passive AoE to cleave down the adds and you need an emergency AoE ability.

Minor Essences

Memory of Lucid Dreams

Memory of Lucid Dreams: You always take this as it refunds full runes when it procs. This just increases your ability usage throughout the fight.

Essence of the Focusing Iris

Essence of the Focusing Iris: As this is basically passive haste, this is extremely good as your best stat is haste.

Breath of the Dying

Breath of the Dying: Good, but mostly because this essence has a lot of power as a Minor.

Purification Protocol

Purification Protocol: This generally is only used in Mythic+ as it is meant for AoE situations only, but it can have its uses in raids. 

Default Raiding Essences

Major: Condensed Life Force

Minor: Breath of the Dying / Memory of Lucid Dreams / Essence of the Focusing Iris

Default Mythic+ Essences

Major: If you are playing Infected Claws and Bursting Sores, Blood of the Enemy is best. If you are playing a standard build, play Condensed-Life Force.

Minor: Breath of the Dying / Memory of Lucid Dreams / Purification Protocol


What is Corruption

Corruption has been added to 8.3 as a replacement for Warforging and Titanforging. When you get a chance of gear, it has a chance to roll with a number of different positive effects that give different amounts of corruption. It also comes with a few very negative effects so you don’t want to get too much corruption. Due to this, you want to get the right corrupted pieces so you can do the most damage.

Not all corruption effects are that amazing, some due to scaling with stats that aren’t good, others due to the fact that they just aren’t strong, and a few just because they have too much corruption.

Some corruption effects have tiers, with their effectiveness scaling on those tiers. For example, the stat gaining effects are 6%, 9%, and 12% based on the amount of corruption they have.

Best Corruption Effects


Expedient - 10/15/20 Corruption - Increases the amount of haste you gain from all sources based on the corruption tier.

Gushing Wound

Gushing Wound - 15 Corruption

Your damaging abilities and abilities have a chance to cause your target to ooze blood, dealing [X] damage over 7 seconds.

This effect scales with the item level of the piece that it is on, so the higher the item level the more damage it deals.

Infinite Stars

Infinite Stars - 20/50/75 Corruption

Your spells and abilities have a chance to strike a nearby enemy with an Infinite Star, dealing (X% value) Arcane damage and increasing their damage taken from your Infinite Stars by 25%, stacking up to 10 times.

This effect now scales with the item level of the piece that it is on, so the higher the item level the more damage it deals.

Due to the fact that this trait stacks, it is not great in situations with multiple targets. In something like mythic+, you should absolutely never run Infinite Stars because mobs just do not live long enough to take advantage of how good this trait is. A boss like Shad’har is a best case scenario for this trait and you generally only want to run it on fights like that or fights where you can stack it up for important damage phases. 


Masterful - 10/15/20 Corruption - Increases the amount of mastery you gain from all sources based on the corruption tier. This is better than Expedient on 2+ targets.

Honorable Mentions

Echoing Void

Echoing Void: Your damaging abilities build the Echoing Void. Each time it builds, Echoing Void has a chance to collapse, dealing X% of your Health as Shadow damage to all nearby enemies every 1 sec until no stacks remain (splits damage between all enemies hit).

  • T1 (15) Corruption -> 0.4%
  • T2 (25) Corruption -> 0.6%
  • T3 (66) Corruption -> 1%

Racing Pulse

Racing Pulse: Your spells and abilities have a chance to increase your Haste by ([X] value based on the tier) for 4sec.

  • T1 (10) Corruption -> 546
  • T2 (20) Corruption -> 728
  • T3 (35) Corruption -> 1275

Negative Corruption Effects

Grasping Tendrils - Happens at 1 Corruption

Puts a snare on you for 5 seconds. Not a big deal for a DK as you can not be slowed below 70% movement speed due to Death’s Advance.

Eye of Corruption - Happens at 20 Corruption

Randomly summons a circle around you that deals damage while in it for 8 seconds. 

Grand Delusions - Happens at 40 Corruption

Generally not worth going up to this corruption level as this is where it gets a bit tricky to deal with the effects as this can randomly deal over half your life if you don’t see it. Due to this, you can get killed unexpectedly just because you miss it. It really isn’t worth going up to this level while you are doing progression. This add can be stunned and slowed, so if you want to play it you will have to do that so you don’t randomly die from it.

Cascading Disaster - Happens at 60 Corruption

If you are struck by a Thing from Beyond summoned by Grand Delusions, you instantly get affected by Eye of Corruption and Grasping Tendrils. If you get up to this level you need to dodge the Thing from Beyond. 

Inevitable Doom - Happens at 80 Corruption

Increases your damage taken and reduces your healing taken by 5% baseline, increasing with your corruption amount. If you somehow for some reason think that going up to 80 corruption is a good idea, just go back down to at least 60. Please.

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Charts (Bloodmallet)

Azerite Traits

Tier 3 & 4


Tier 2


Tier 3 & 4


Tier 2



Tier 3 & 4


Tier 3 & 4