Unholy Death Knight Changes – February 22nd

Plagues are nasty, right?

And usually pretty rightfully so, death, disease and blight are awful, un-fun things. Unless you’re an Unholy Death Knight, in which case, those things ARE your things. Your goal is to spread as much decay, death, and agony as inhumanly possible.

And to that end, we have many tools in our arsenal, one of the most ominous of which is called Virulent Plague. A lovely sounding name to an Unholy DK, but not the greatest of our spells. Until now.

Death Knight – Original Post


Virulent Plague damage over time effect has been increased by 67%. Damage unchanged in PvP.

Summon Gargoyle: Gargoyle Strike damage has been increased by 50%. Damage unchanged in PvP.

Dark Arbiter: Val’kyr Strike damage has been increased by 16%. Damage unchanged in PvP.

Some interesting stuff here; As I mentioned in my last article, a lot of our damage is tied up in our cooldowns that just don’t deliver. This may not propel us terribly higher, but it does take some steps to begin addressing a few of our major issues.

How much of a benefit is all this?

Let’s take a look at a bit of napkin math to try and figure out what this does for us. We won’t know for sure until after maintenance this Tuesday, but for now we can do a little preliminary math to see where this takes us DPS-wise

Going by my virtual Patchwerk encounter from last week, (My single target Star Augur Etraeus kill I like to use for so much math), we take the following values for specific abilities that we’ll need to calculate our damage delta.

Firstly, we currently take Bursting Sores in all situations. How much damage do we gain from this?


  • Total Damage from Festering Wounds: 34.54M
  • Residual Additional Damage from Bursting Sores: 1.77M
  • Virulent Plague Damage: 6.16M
  • Virulent Eruption Damage: 3.72M

Now, some of this damage is dealt to the tiny Voidling adds that are spawned during the final phase, but for the purposes of our math here, they are essentially negligible and we can write off the damage to them entirely. We will gain some inflation from this, but they will always exist, so rather than complicate things, we’ll keep the numbers as they are for now. For those of you who are perfectionists and want the single target estimation without the voidling inflation… I’m not sure why you would; they always exist and padding or not, they count, and altogether they constitute .003% of the overall DPS. Considering that acceptable margin of error is as much as 5%… I think this is more than alright.

Bursting Sores increases the damage dealt by our Festering Wounds by 50% and causes them to deal damage to nearby targets when we burst our Festering Wounds. The buff to the base damage of Virulent Plague encourages us to pick up Ebon Fever instead of Bursting Sores, so let’s look at how this changes our damage based on the values above.

The loss of Bursting Sores means that we reduce our Festering Wound output by 33% (From 150% to 100%)

  • New Festering Wound Value (34.54M * .67) 23.14M [Delta: 11.4M]
  • Residual Damage from Bursting Sores Lost (1.77M)
  • Calculated DPS loss: 39,451

However, we now increase the damage of Virulent Plague by 67%

  • (9.87M *1.67) = 16.28M

Increase that damage by 20%

  • (16.28*1.2) = 19.78M

And double that damage.

  • (19.78*2) = 39.56M

The total delta between the old Virulent Plague damage and the new?

  • 39.56M – 9.87M = 29.69M

This is of course mitigated by the loss of the Bursting Sores damage.

  • 29.69M – 13.17M = 16.52M damage

Now we can garner the Damage Per Second gained based on the length of the fight in seconds

  • 16,520,000 / 303 = 54,521 damage per second.

This might be greater for you if you have a higher item level or more Mastery but overall it’s a 10% DPS boost on single target, based on the gear I had at the time which is not awful.

The Gargoyle buff is far easier to calculate.

According to Warcraftlogs, for its duration compared to the duration of the fight, the Gargoyle contributed 16,596DPS. Increased by 50%, that equates to a modest 8,298dps increase.(just about 1.5% overall)


So, in total if we switch over to Ebon Fever with this upcoming change, we are looking at approximately an 11.5% DPS boost on single target. Without switching to Ebon Fever, we’ll be looking at approximately a 5-6% boost overall. I have very little to go on whether this is a large AOE gain, but I am somewhat doubtful based on what little personal testing I’ve been able to do with the abilities pre-patch. Our AOE with Bursting Sores has a better feel, but not having to do such major setup could benefit us greatly in the long run.

All things considered, I want everyone to keep in mind that these numbers are based solely on anecdotal evidence, but this particular log I’m using is a fairly accurate representation of upper average output. (It’s an Orange level parse [95th percentile] for Unholy, at the ilvl represented (892, with Bracers and Prydaz), and a purple level parse compared against every ilvl and Frost.)

Some final notes: 

This may actually increase the value of Defile as a talent, as Virulent Plague scales much more strongly with Mastery than with Haste. The calculations for the effects of this talent swap are somewhat beyond my ability to calculate, as there are a LOT of factors to account for, including Defile damage, the average value of the Mastery buff from Defile, the average value of the Haste buff from Soul Reaper, Soul Reaper damage, actual base Mastery, etc. Be on the lookout for an update to the Unholy Death Knight guide curated by Maxweii, link available below, as there will be more information available there in the coming days.


Star Augur Etraeus Log

Maxweii’s Unholy Death Knight 7.1.5 Guide


As a side note:

If you’re looking for some WoW stream content, I livestream Heroic and Mythic raid content (Elisande & Gul’dan Heroic, progression Mythic) 8-11pm Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays on my Twitch. I always play Unholy, and new boss kills will be available via Youtube an hour after the end of the stream.

Tune in a bit earlier to watch the full Heroic Clear starting with Skorpyron!



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s