Unholy Death Knight talents guide

Patch 10.0.5 Last Updated: 22nd Jan, 2023
Kwepp Unholy Death Knight Author

Class Talents

Dragonflight brings a brand new overhaul to the talent system, giving us a wide range of talents and abilities to choose from and form builds with. In this section, I will go over different Talent builds for Raiding and Mythic Plus, as well as give a general overview of each Talent and its strengths/synergies with other talents.

There are areas in these talent builds which can be altered depending on your scenario. This can include utility and some throughput choices.

Class Talent Tree Setup Examples

Here are a couple of examples of class talent trees you can use. Talent trees are in-depth and have a lot of different pathing choices, so after these examples, I will discuss the pathing options, which talents are essential, and which are more flexible/optional.

General Single Target Example:

unholy dk class tree ST

General AOE Example:

unholy dk class tree aoe

Death Knight Class Tree Discussion

The Death Knight Class Talent Tree has a fair few options, and most of the throughput options are at the bottom of the tree. I will be discussing the Class tree in two different sections. The first section will be about the ‘Upper Tree’, where I will go over important/essential talents and some optional/utility options. 

Then in the second section, I will go over the ‘Lower Tree’ at the bottom of the tree, which consists of very throughput-heavy talent options.

Upper Tree

unholy dk class upper tree

Important/Essential ‘Upper’ Talents (Red)

Chains of Ice: This is a mandatory talent that you need to take to start progressing down the left side of the tree. You won’t be using this ability too often, as its primary use for Unholy is to apply a slow to a target that is susceptible to crowd control effects.

Mind Freeze: The next step from Chains of Ice is Mind Freeze. It is an essential spell that you can utilize to interrupt casts. This is particularly useful in Mythic Plus and raid encounters with interruptible casts.

Icebound Fortitude: This is one of your main defensives, it is important to take as it gives you a 30% damage mitigation effect when used and also makes you immune to stun effects which can be very handy in scenarios where you can be stunned.

Merciless Strikes: A small crit buff that links further down the left side of the tree.

Gloom Ward: For Unholy, you always want to choose this over Proliferating Chill, as the gain from using Proliferating Chill is very rare/niche for Unholy, so you take Gloom Ward for the extra absorb value (effects spells such as Anti-Magic Shell).

Runic Attenuation: One of Unholy’s primary resources is Runic Power. Runic Attenuation is an essential talent as it provides additional Runic Power, which results in you having more resources for Death Coil / Epidemic casts. 

Death Strike: We need to take this talent not only because it opens a link to Veteran of the Third War, but also because it is the primary way Death Knights can self-heal/sustain themselves, making this talent crucial.

Anti-Magic Shell: Another essential talent for Unholy Death Knight, Anti-Magic Shell is a crucial tool that Death Knight’s can use to mitigate magic damage and become immune to magic aura applications. This can be incredibly valuable in specific encounters and makes DK able to “cheese” a lot of aura application mechanics.

Improved Death Strike: As stated above, Death Strike is essential for Death Knights to sustain themselves through heavy damage intake, but just Death Strike alone is not enough, so Improved Death Strike is a vital pickup.

Veteran of the Third War: This talent offers incredible value for two talent points, increased 20% health is too good not to pick up.

Raise Dead: As Unholy, you receive this talent baseline, as it’s an essential talent that gives you access to your Ghoul (a primary source of Unholy’s damage).

Cleaving Strikes: To reach the talent Brittle, we have to take this talent, even in scenarios where we will not be using Death and Decay. However, this talent is significant in AOE, as it allows your Scourge Strike to cleave other enemies within your Death and Decay, which is how you will be bursting your Festering Wounds in AOE scenarios.

Brittle: This is a basic talent you always want to have, just because it is a throughput increase. It is based on your diseases, so as long as you keep good uptime on your diseases, you will get good throughput value out of this talent.

Might of Thassarian: Another basic throughput increase, nothing special but still a nice 2% strength buff for 1 point.

Unholy Ground: You mainly take this talent to have a link to Death’s Echo if you choose to go with the Blood Draw + Death’s Echo combination. It is also a nice haste buff for AOE, which will help you get extra casts during your Death and Decay windows.

Stepstone choices (Magenta)

Blinding Sleet: If you are in a scenario where you need to disable/interrupt a group of enemies simultaneously, you can use Blinding Sleet to blind them all. This only works on enemies that are susceptible to crowd control effects. This talent is helpful in Mythic Plus and boss encounters that require additional control.

Coldthirst: This is an excellent talent to pick if you are in a scenario where you are using Mind Freeze a lot. It gives you a bit of Runic Power (a nice throughput bonus). It makes your Mind Freeze a 12-second cooldown instead of 14 seconds, which can be substantial depending on how frequently an enemy casts an important ability.

Permafrost: This is just a passive shield you gain when auto-attacking. It’s not super strong for Unholy, as your attack speed with 2H weapons is slower, but it is still an excellent shield to have if the other two options aren’t needed/useful.

Enfeeble: Your ghoul will have a chance to apply a 15% damage reduction effect onto your target, which affects bosses, so this is a solid talent to take mitigation-wise. While it is not 100%, it is still a nice passive.

Sacrificial Pact: If you need an extra heal, it can be worth taking Sacrificial Pact; however, it is a massive damage loss to lose your pet as Unholy. It also has a 2-minute cooldown, whereas Enfeeble can be effective many times during an encounter, so I recommend taking Enfeeble over Sacrificial Pact.

Death’s Reach / Grip of the Dead: This is another add control/utility option. Death’s Reach gives your Death Grip some extra range which can be very useful for certain encounters, and also resets the cooldown on Death Grip if you get the last hit on an enemy. Grip of the Dead is mainly used to slow a large number of enemies in your Death and Decay, and I would use this to help tanks kite or stop fixate adds from reaching your raid team.

Unholy EnduranceLichborne is typically not very useful outside of immuning fear, sleep, and charm effects; however, this talent makes Lichborne a small personal defensive cooldown you can use in combination with another defensive like Anti-Magic Shell. It’s generally nice to have if you don’t need Death’s Reach / Grip of the Dead.

Asphyxiate: Just like Blinding Sleet, this is mostly used when you need to crowd control an enemy; however, it only affects one target, but the stun lasts for 5 seconds and does not break on damage (like the Blind effect from Blinding Sleet does). This is worth taking if you need additional crowd control.

Death Pact: While this can save your life if you are out of Healthstones and Health pots and are not in range of Death Strike, it is generally not worthwhile because it also applies a healing absorb effect afterward. I recommend taking this talent specifically if you are in an encounter where you need to be at max health before a big hit frequently, then this could be a worthwhile talent choice.

Wraith Walk: This talent is very useful for getting out of root effects and being a nice movement ability if you need it. Although this talent is a bit out of the way and requires you to take Death Pact, Assimilation, or Asphyxiate to reach, it’s quite a commitment that will mean you will have to give up other forms of utility/defensives.

Utility options with 2 spare points (Cyan)

March of Darkness: Similar to the conduit in Shadowlands, March of Darkness gives your Death's Advance an additional burst of movement speed at the start, which is quite helpful on heavy movement encounters.

Blood Scent: It gives 3% leech, which is not very useful compared to the other tree options.

Suppression: Avoidance is a valuable stat for mitigation, but there are much better mitigation options on this tree, so this is not worth using.

Acclimation: This makes your Icebound Fortitude a 2-minute cooldown. Most of the time, you will not use this; however, if there is a scenario where you take a big hit of damage every 2 minutes, then this talent could be a good option.

Anti-Magic Barrier: As mentioned earlier, Anti-Magic Shell is a powerful ability for multiple reasons, so increasing its duration, reducing its cooldown, and increasing the absorb amount is essential.

Clenching Grasp: Generally, this is more of a PvP talent, but it can be helpful in particular situations (let's say you need to grip an add away from a boss, the slow is an excellent addition to this to keep the add away from the boss for longer), but generally not a very useful talent.

Control Undead: This is an incredible niche talent. It will be a massive damage loss if you control a different undead minion than your Ghoul, so I would not recommend taking this talent unless you are doing some particular "cheese" strat in content such as Mythic Plus.

Anti-Magic Zone: Most of the time, you want to take this talent as it is a raid cooldown; while it is not very strong for Unholy, it is still a helpful raid cooldown that can be utilized by your Raid or Mythic Plus team for magic damage encounters. If you are in a situation where no Magic damage mitigation is needed, you can save yourself a point and pick something else.

Assimilation: When using Anti-Magic Zone, you give up a potential offensive spell cast, so gaining some additional Runic Power from Anti-Magic Zone is a nice bonus. Can be very useful to gain additional runic power for Summon Gargoyle ramps.

Proliferating Chill: For Unholy, this talent does not provide any additional throughput, but it can be useful in niche scenario where you need to apply Chains of Ice to two targets that are next to each other (this is very specific and you will generally not want to use this talent).

Lower Tree:

unholy dk class lower tree

In the lower tree, you have two “routes” that you can go down to reach the essential talents. One is more utility based with Death’s Echo and a weak defensive in Blood Draw. The other is more defensive based with Will of the Necropolis (a much stronger defensive) and Insidious Chill which isn’t that good if you are playing with Warlocks, or Rogues with Numbing Poison (essentially it’s a wasted talent point if you are playing with a Warlock as they have Curse of Weakness baseline, and Rogues can talent into Numbing Poison).

Important/Essential ‘Lower’ Talents (Red)

Icy Talons: Attack speed benefits Unholy due to increased Sudden Doom procs and more Runic Power generation from Runic Attenuation. This talent also leads to Empower Rune Weapon, so it’s mandatory.

Rune Mastery: This is another throughput talent that you want to pick. It gives you 6% strength, a solid buff, and has relatively decent uptime. It is also essential to create a link to Abomination Limb for AOE.

Unholy Bond: This is an excellent talent. Runeforges are still very strong and are better than any enchant that is offered in Dragonflight. For Unholy, you want to use Rune of the Fallen Crusader, which gives you 15% strength when it procs. However, Unholy Bond will increase the buff by 20%, giving you an additional 3% strength to your Rune of the Fallen Crusader proc, making it 18%.

Empower Rune Weapon: Unholy greatly benefits from Haste and resource generation (Runes and Runic Power). So, naturally, Empower Rune Weapon will be a solid talent to use alongside your other cooldowns. It also synergises exceptionally well with Summon Gargoyle, giving you haste and rune generation in combination with Abomination Limb for AOE. You will want to use this talent in all scenarios and damage profiles.

Single Target / AOE Choice (Green)

Abomination Limb: This is going to be your AOE/Cleave choice. It is great for damage and gathering enemies together for you and your group to cleave down. It may also be worth taking on specific boss fights that require enemies to be gripped together. It will cost you some single-target boss damage (although not too much), but it provides almost invaluable utility in the right situations.

Soul Reaper: One of Unholy’s strengths is that it has execute, and Soul Reaper is one of the main reasons for this. You want to pick this talent for any encounter that requires single target boss damage, especially when you need as much damage as possible during final phases (typically in the last few minutes of an encounter where the boss is within the execute range). It loses value outside of single target, so if you are going to be consistently dealing with more than one target, then Abomination Limb will pull ahead.

Utility Route (Orange)

Blood Draw: This is a relatively weak defensive as it has a 3-minute cooldown. It does not heal you much if you do not have a lot of enemies around you. However, this is a compromise to use Death’s Echo and still pick up all your essential throughput talents.

Death’s Echo: You get a lot of value from this talent as you gain two charges of Death’s Advance (which significantly helps with mobility), two charges of Death Grip (which is super nice for gripping adds into place), and two charges of Death and Decay which works well in AOE as you can use Death and Decay back to back, for 20 seconds of Scourge Strike cleave.

Defensive Route (Purple)

Insidious Chill: While this can be useful for tanks, it is generally not a valuable use of a talent point. The main reason is that Warlock can apply this effect to a boss without spending any talent points. Also, if you have any additional Rogues in your group, they can take Numbing Poison, which is pretty much the same. It also applies on auto attacks, which makes it hard to apply to multiple targets for your tank in Mythic Plus. It has its use in Mythic Plus, but not so much in a raid.

Will of the Necropolis: This is an excellent defensive talent which is much better than Blood Draw, but of course, you need to take Insidious Chill instead of Death’s Echo for it so that you don’t lose any of the essential talents further down the tree.

Spec Talents

In this section I will be discussing each of the talents in the spec tree, where you would want to use them and how they synergise with other talents. This should add some context to the choices in the builds above.

Festering Strike: A simple ability for your toolkit, it will be the primary way you apply Festering Wounds to enemies.

Scourge Strike: This ability is what you use to burst Festering Wounds in both Single Target and AOE scenarios.

Raise Dead (Rank 2): Normally, the Ghoul from Raise Dead will only last for 60 seconds, but this talent makes your Ghoul permanent, which is vital for Unholy.

Outbreak: This ability is mainly used to apply your Virulent Plague and other diseases if you are using the talent Superstrain.

Dark Transformation: This is one of your most essential cooldowns. It turns your Ghoul into a Monstrosity and empowers it for 15 seconds. Your Dark Transformation interacts with many talents in the Unholy Spec Tree, including Eternal Agony, Infected Claws, Ghoulish Frenzy, Unholy Aura, and Commander of the Dead, so it is a vital part of your kit.

Unholy Blight is the talent you need to reach the more AOE-focused talents. It is an excellent way to apply your diseases to multiple enemies around you over 6 seconds, and it will apply an additional disease. This talent plays well into Morbidity and Plaguebringer, due to Plaguebringer increasing the rate at which your Unholy Blight disease does damage and the other diseases you have applied to the target. However, Unholy Blight is not as strong as some other options right now for single-target encounters, so you will only want to talent into Unholy Blight in cleave/AOE scenarios.

Improved Festering Strike: Festering Wounds are one of your primary sources of damage, especially in AOE. To get to Apocalypse, you need to choose Improved Festering Strike or Runic Mastery, and currently, Improved Festering Strike gives more value, so you will want to talent into this.

Runic Mastery: As discussed above, this talent is currently not as valuable as Improved Festering Strike, so it is not the most optimal choice for throughput.

Infected Claws: We want to pick this talent mainly because it allows you to reach very strong talents such as Reaping and Plaguebringer. The talent is also excellent, enabling your Ghoul to apply wounds to your target(s) while using other abilities such as Death Coil. It is also a vital part of your AOE because Dark Transformation causes your Ghoul to cleave with its attacks, so Infected Claws will cleave applications of Festering Wounds to a group of enemies.

Epidemic: When you are dealing with 4 or more stacked targets Death Coil starts to lose value, and this is when Epidemic is a good choice if you need a consistent Runic Power spender for AOE scenarios. It does a lot of damage when you are using it on large numbers of stacked enemies and is a great way to stack Death Rot on multiple targets at once.

Replenishing Wounds: You will only want talent into this in AOE scenarios, and most of the time, only because you need to unlock this stepstone to reach Bursting Sores (which is one of the most essential talents for AOE). The additional Runic Power it provides is nice but usually unnecessary and will often cause you to overcap on Runic Power, especially in AOE scenarios.

Feasting Strikes: I’m afraid to say that this talent is not really worthwhile. While Rune generation is nice, the chance is relatively low. You don’t use Festering Strike often enough to gain any significant value, especially when you compare this talent to other potential options. Also, having Infected Claws diminishes the importance of this talent even more.

Apocalypse: One of your core abilities is Apocalypse, and it will also be provided a good portion of your damage by summoning Ghouls, as well as Magus of the Dead. You will want to use this talent in almost all scenarios unless you are doing constant sustained cleave/AoE, then Apocalypse loses value.

Plaguebringer or Clawing Shadows: This is an interesting choice node, as it offers two uniquely strong talents that will alter your gameplay a fair bit. Plaguebringer is focused around your diseases, and it’s a buff that you will want to keep as much uptime on as possible. It works very well with Superstrain and Unholy Blight, as it applies to all diseases you inflict your target(s) with, and even without those talents, it’s still strong. 

Clawing Shadows can be appealing due to the 30-yard range on Scourge Strike, and also because it makes Scourge Strike deal 100% shadow damage instead of 50% physical and 50% shadow. So it does mean that your Scourge Strikes will deal more damage naturally, as magic damage ignores armor and scales better with your Mastery: Dreadblade. While Clawing Shadows does give you 30 yards of range, it does mean that utilizing that range will come at the cost of losing uptime on your Unholy Aura, which is a significant damage loss. So it does conflict a bit with that talent, however, Clawing Shadows is still a solid talent and very useful in a lot of different scenarios.

Sudden Doom: Death Coil is one of our primary sources of damage and is also the main way that we proc Runic Corruption, so Sudden Doom is a great talent that gives us free Death Coils here and there, which potentially means more Death Coils can go into your Summon Gargoyle windows. It is especially useful when you get a Sudden Doom proc while you are out of Runes and Runic Power, and last, but not least, it also applies 2 stacks of Death Rot, so if you get any procs on the pull, you will ramp up your Death Rot faster as well.

All Will Serve: While it is a bit boring, it is a talent that you would use in single-target situations, especially if you are using Unholy Aura. This talent summons a Skeletal Archer that will fight alongside you, and it does pretty solid damage for 1 talent point. It does lose a lot of value in encounters where the boss moves large distances, as the Skeletal Archer is ranged and the pet AI is… not the best. So most of the time, your Skeletal Archer will be doing nothing while it tries to catch up to the boss, attempt to shoot, and then realize it's out of range again, and the cycle continues, so do bear that in mind when deciding whether to use this talent.

Pestilent Pustules: This is most useful when you are chain casting Scourge Strike in your Death and Decay during big AOE burst windows. It gives you a steady flow of Runic Corruption procs, which will keep you well supplied with Runes. Outside of that, this talent isn't that strong, and there are better alternatives.

Bursting Sores or Ebon Fever: Another interesting choice node and both talents are well suited for Cleave/AOE scenarios. Bursting Sores will be the bread and butter of Unholy Death Knight burst AOE. When used in combination with Vile Contagion, Infected Claws & Festermight you will be getting a lot of value from this talent in AOE. This is the go-to talent if you are looking for a strong burst in AOE situations.

Ebon Fever is not burst-oriented like Bursting Sores, but it still scales well in AOE scenarios, particularly in sustained cleave fights. If you combine this talent with Morbidity and Plaguebringer, you can get a lot of damage out of it. It is also strong in single target when used alongside Plaguebringer. The targets need to last long enough for you to get most of the disease ticks before they die, so if enemies are dying super fast, then you won't see much value at all from Ebon Fever and are probably better off with Bursting Sores.

Unholy Command: A lot of Unholy's short cooldowns are 45 seconds, so Unholy Command makes Dark Transformation align with your other cooldowns, as well as making it available more often, so it's an outstanding talent for 2 points and should always be picked up in any scenario. You should always put 2 points into this talent. If you only place one point into it, then it's pretty much pointless.

Magus of the Dead or Ruptured Viscera: Magus of the Dead has received some love in Dragonflight and has returned to a talent (previously an azerite trait) that you will always want in a lot of scenarios, particularly in single target. It does solid damage and benefits from Unholy Aura & Commander of the Dead and extra stat buffs such as Festermight. It's very strong and I recommend using it in most situations unless you need the point for a major AOE/Cleave talent. Then you may choose not to use it.

Ruptured Viscera is not that strong, even in AOE scenarios (which is pretty much what it's made for), so I would not recommend using this talent. If you spend a point in this choice node, it will always be for Magus of the Dead.

Improved Death Coil: As Death Coil is one of your main damage dealers, an additional 30% additional damage is an obvious choice. However, there is another component of this talent that makes it even better, and that is that it also strikes nearby targets. This gives Unholy some good damage in two target cleave scenarios, as the additional Death Coil will also apply Coil of Devastation and Death Rot to target it damages, which is a really nice interaction that can make a noticeable difference. In the past, Unholy would not have much 2-target cleave outside of Dark Transformation cleave attacks, but now it does with this talent, so I thoroughly recommend this talent even in Mythic Plus. With this talent, you will always prioritize Death Coil over Epidemic in 2-3 targets simply due to how much damage Death Coil does now, especially with this talent.

Rotten Touch: Sudden Doom procs are not common enough for this talent to gain any substantial worth, and it does not synergise very well with Summon Gargoyle (as you will probably want to keep using Death Coil, even after a Sudden Doom proc). While it could possibly be quite good in AOE (50% increased Scourge Strike damage during Death and Decay sounds pretty good), it only applies to Death Coil and not Epidemic, so this talent is pretty useless in that scenario too.

Vile Contagion: In the past, you would normally have to wait for your Dark Transformation to apply wounds to your targets before you could use Death and Decay and spam Scourge Strike to pop them all. However, with this talent, you can now easily mass-spread wounds across all your targets in a small area. It is incredibly powerful and is a must-have for Mythic Plus and burst AOE.

Pestilence: Sadly, this talent is still pretty awful, as it will only apply a maximum of 10 wounds across ALL of the enemies within Death and Decay, no matter how many are standing in it. So this talent is pretty lackluster and the talent point is better spent elsewhere.

Eternal Agony: As stated before, Dark Transformation is one of your primary sources of damage and is also the conduit for other talent bonuses, so extending it for as long as possible is always going to be worth picking up in any scenario, so for that reason, I recommend using this talent in all scenarios.

Coil of Devastation: This talent is strong in single target as it facilitates all major single target cooldowns such as Summon Gargoyle and Army of the Dead. It also gives you value outside of cooldowns by increasing the damage of your other abilities and major damage sources such as Magus of the Dead. Overall it is a solid talent for 1 point that is a must-have for single target. As mentioned before, it also applies to secondary targets hit by Death Coil when using the Improved Death Coil talent, so it is also perfect for two-target cleave.

Harbinger of Doom: Sadly, this talent is still pretty awful in Dragonflight, even with the major buffs and talents revolving around Death Coil. I don't recommend this talent for any build.

Reaping: Soul Reaper is not the only execute we have going into Dragonflight. We now have Reaping as well. It increases the damage of not only Soul Reaper but also all of your other rotational abilities (Death Coil, Festering Strike, and Scourge Strike), which makes Unholy's execute potential even greater. While you have to commit a couple of points to reach it, it is worth going for if you need the execute damage.

Death Rot: increases the damage of every source of shadow damage in your toolkit. There are many, but the primary sources that matter are Death Coil, Epidemic, Bursting Sores, and Festering Wound. These are major damage sources, so you will want to have this talent in almost every setup. It is also a step-stone to Festermight, another very potent talent you want to use in nearly all scenarios.

Army of the Dead: This ability is iconic for Unholy Death Knight and is also one of your strongest cooldowns. You will always want this cooldown as it is a major source of your single target damage and is one of the best cooldowns in the game when you are benefiting from haste buffs such as Bloodlust and Power Infusion.

Summon Gargoyle: Unlike Shadowlands, Summon Gargoyle is now a powerful single target cooldown. Combined with talents such as Coil of Devastation, Commander of the Dead, Unholy Aura, and Festermight, Summon Gargoyle now does insane damage. To top it all off, it scales exceptionally well with haste buffs like Bloodlust and Power Infusion. All of these talents and buffs together make Summon Gargoyle one of the best single-target burst cooldowns in the game, akin to Army of the Dead.

Festermight: It was a well-desired Azerite Trait in BFA, and now it is back (though nerfed a bit). Despite being nerfed, it's still solid and gives you a lot of strength (depending on how many wounds you pop) which benefits all of your damage, so it's good in pretty much all scenarios. However, while Festermight is excellent in single target, its full potential lies in AOE scenarios. When combined with Bursting Sores, Infected Claws, and Vile Contagion you can quickly get to 20 stacks in AOE by popping a lot of Festering Wounds with each Scourge Strike. This all results in Unholy having incredible AOE burst damage, and this talent is one of the main reasons for that.

Ghoulish Frenzy: While this talent is not as good as others in single target, it gains much more value in cleave/AOE. This is due to Ghoulish Frenzy giving your Dark Transformation more damage for its cleave attacks (this bonus damage gains more value with the more targets you are hitting with its cleaving attacks) and also the attack speed, which increases the rate at which your Dark Transformation will apply Festering Wounds with the Infected Claws talent. This buff is also extended by the talent Eternal Agony, so spending Runic Power via Death Coil or Epidemic will also extend this buff along with your Dark Transformation.

Army of the Damned: This is a very important talent, especially for single-target encounters. It reduces the cooldown on your Apocalypse to 45 seconds (which then makes it align with Dark Transformation & Unholy Blight), and it also reduces the cooldown of your Army of the Dead, based on how much Runic Power you spend via Death Coil and Epidemic. Army of the Dead is a very long cooldown (8 minutes), but this talent allows you to reduce that cooldown duration significantly. With Army of the Damned, your Army of the Dead cooldown duration should average around 3-4 minutes, depending on your uptime (if you are unable to generate runic power due to being out of range of the boss, then you will be losing out on Death Coil / Epidemic casts which will result in wasted potential cooldown reduction of Army of the Dead). In single target, it is vital that you bring Army of the Dead's cooldown as low as possible to align it with Summon Gargoyle, Empower Rune Weapon, and Unholy Assault. So with the cooldown alignment perks this talent brings for Apocalypse and the cooldown reduction on Army of the Dead, you will want to take this talent in almost all scenarios.

Morbidity: When playing this talent, you want to have as many diseases as possible. With this in mind, Morbidity synergizes best with Unholy Blight, Plaguebringer, and Superstrain. This talent is not as strong as some other options currently, but it can do well in sustained cleave scenarios where you will be applying multiple diseases across 3-4 targets simultaneously. As this playstyle has more of a sustained damage profile rather than burst damage, Morbidity plays well into this.

Unholy Aura: This talent is to be used when you are playing around Summon Gargoyle, Army of the Dead, and minion damage. It mostly shines in single-target scenarios and is a stepstone to another strong talent, Commander of the Dead. It does lose some value when you need to move away from a boss frequently, but even then, this talent is still very strong for when you are in range to apply this damage increase for your minions. You will use this talent in any form of minion-oriented builds.

Unholy Assault: Right below Festermight, you will be able to talent into this ability, Unholy Assault. It plays exceptionally well into Unholy's toolkit. It dramatically benefits a lot of its cooldowns and facilitates Festermight, a talent already powerful in its own right. As mentioned before, it also helps your other cooldowns, such as Summon Gargoyle and Army of the Dead, with the haste it provides for its duration. It also lasts 20 seconds long, so you can use it in combination with Empower Rune Weapon and benefit from both haste buffs within your 20-second Festermight window, which would then apply for 20 seconds of your Summon Gargoyle and Army of the Dead. These abilities complement each other well and overlap perfectly, resulting in an exceptionally strong burn window with Summon Gargoyle and Army of the Dead.

The same applies to your AOE burst windows when playing with Bursting Sores and Vile Contagion. You can use it to apply wounds to your main target, then use Vile Contagion to spread those wounds across multiple targets and then you will have a haste buff with both Unholy Assault and Empower Rune Weapon to pop all of your wounds during your Death and Decay window. Overall this is a solid talent that you will want to pick up in most, if not all, scenarios.

Superstrain: Just like in Shadowlands, Superstrain applies two additional diseases to your target when you apply Virulent Plague to them, those diseases being Frost Fever and Blood Plague (although they are at 20% less effectiveness). This talent synergises well with Unholy Blight, Morbidity, and Plaguebringer, as they are all diseased-based talents and compliment each other very well. Superstrain gains value with the more targets you are fighting, so this talent does best in aoe/cleave scenarios. It is still decent in single target, but it's not as good as other options with current tuning. Also, the additional Runic Power you gain from Frost Fever ticks is a nice bonus, giving you even more Runic Power to feed into Death Coils and Epidemics.

Commander of the Dead: Finally, we come to Commander of the Dead, a major talent that shines best in single target, significantly buffing your major single target cooldowns Army of the Dead, Apocalypse (including Magus of the Dead), and Summon Gargoyle. This talent does change when you use Dark Transformation, as you want to use it just before or after you have summoned all of your minions so that they all gain the buff. Commander of the Dead is one of the most significant damage increases for your minions, so it is one of the strongest, if not one, of the best talents you can take for a minion-focused build.

Talent Builds

Bear in mind that these builds are just baselines, and some raid encounters favor other talent builds. Check out the Boss Talents section for builds that are made around each raid boss!

Raiding Single Target


Raiding Sustained Cleave Build


Disease Mythic Plus Build