[Death Knight][Dual-Wield] Eric’s DPS DeathKnight PVE guide





The death knight was a new class added in the Wrath of the Lich King. Blizzard calls it a hero class because of the many nice things the death knight is able too. In the start the death knight seems to be a much overpowered class, but it ends up as a normal class in level 80. I want to thank Jyambi for her nice Druid Healing Guide that’s leading me to make this guide about the death knight. Also thanks to and last to Jame of for making it possible to write guides here.

First of all let’s start off with the talents of the death knight. Talents are always the most important of all classes even for pets (the hunters pet talents). There are talent specializations for player vs. player combat, for DPS in raid, for tanking, healing etc.
The most wanted talents of the death knight class in instance, raid etc. are DPS.

What you need to use this guide:

  • Level up to level 80.
  • Train up all skills at death knight class trainer (will cost between 200 – 400 gold)
  • Equip dual wield. It’s not optimal but its a greatly help.

Table of Contents

  1. Talent builds
  2. Spells and abilities
  3. Spell rotations
  4. Ghoul
  5. Gear
  6. Consumables
  7. Add-ons
  8. Boss Dps and single target Dps
  9. Levelling as a Death knight
  10. In progress / Updates



For link, click here.

There are several ways to build you death knight talent. This should be the best. It’s used for dual wield. Dual wield is right now the best weapons for DPS as a death knight. Why this is the best choice?:

  • Your ghoul! That’s just a most of the death knight in PvE. The ghoul will give up to 1/4 of you damage, in a damage meter this will boost you for example from 40% to 50%. The ghoul is a huge help to more damage.
  • Howling blast is the next bonus. This is a serious spell. Really hurts in AoE.
  • Bladed armour helps a lot for your Attack power and only requires 5 points in blood tree.
  • Icy Talons is a huge help for melee dps’ tank etc. in raids/dungeons.
  • And you return keep fighting as a ghoul when you die, this is also nice.

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Blood Strike
Blood strike is the only strike you use. Blood strike is useful for single target DPS’ing and make a very nice combo if the target you attack equip Frost Fever and Blood Plague. Blood strike is for PvE and soloing, not for PvP.

ps.jpg Plague Strike
Third most important spell in the spell rotation of PvE dps. It drops off a decease called Blood Plague that it is very important to always get on the target. Very nice for PvP also because it removes a healing over time effect like Regrowth Renew etc.

hb.jpgHowling Blast
That is number 1 of damage abilities! Does double damage if mob infected with Frost Fever. For both raiding and PvP DPS this is the best. So its important to cast Icy Touch to get the effect Frost Fever and then pestilence(if mass kill). IF you to also got Killing Machine on you will crit up to 5500 to all in front of you with an instant spell.

it.jpgIcy Touch
Great magic, most of the combos as a death knight starts with Icy Touch. Its very helpful for tanks but also you need it for Howling Blast.

Used for mass kill dps or AOE levelling. Always cast it after a Plague Strike or Icy touch.

fortitude.jpgIcebound Fortitide
I often use this ability, to avoid being one-hitted when I get aggro. It’s a tank spell but works great as a dps. Cast this spell when a boss/mob does an AOE spell or a spell that’s hit all nearby.

HORNOFWINTER.jpgHorn of Winter
This is the death knight’s buff. Make sure to cast it when it runs out.

raisedead.jpgRaise Dead
This spell is used to return your ghoul from a dead humanoid or Corspe Dust. Very important.

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The spell rotation is quite simple. It builds on 5-6 spells. Death knight spells build much on combos. This below is for single target dps.

it.jpg –>ps.jpg–> hb.jpg–>–>

After doing this rotation, all your runes are on cooldown. This takes max 6 seconds. You’ll just follow the process again and again until the boss/mob is dead.

Now to the AoE kill DPS.

it.jpg –>ps.jpg–>pestilence.jpg–>hb.jpg–>–>hb.jpg

Make sure you don’t pull a troop of mobs or a boss with Howling Blast. To prevent that, you need to get behind the mob with front toward the tank.

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The ghoul is very important both for DPS and questing. Its like every other pet, set it to defensive stance and follow.

5 good rules for your ghoul:

  • Always let the ghoul attack the mob with most aggro. (Normally a boss or a mob marked with skull).
  • Always wear a stack of Corspe Dust (reagent instead of use a humanoid). Can be bought from a reagent vender.
  • DONT let the ghoul tank.
  • Make sure to have the ghoul to help defeat bosses.
  • Take care of your ghoul
    • heal it with death coil


As many healers don’t take care of healing pets, you need to do it!. Because of that keep an eye on your ghoul. When ghoul is at 7000-8000 hp, start heal you ghoul with death coil, it’s just a little extra click and it rewards a high extra damage.

For me, my ghoul does 1/4 of my total damage, maybe more.

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Gear is what you want in level 80. Gear means what you wear and is created to improve your stats. In this section I’ve made a list of what you need to get the right DPS in heroic, raids etc. Death knight will need a mix between critical strike rating, haste rating and attack power/strength.


WoWhead has an excellent tool for finding and comparing gear. It has an adjustable weighting system preset for healing druids and an advanced filter so you can look at items only from a specific level range or source. You can compare gear quite easily with this source as well – it even has a nice system for comparing two hand weapons with combinations of one hand and off hand items. I highly recommend checking it out for your gearing questions.
– Jiyambi


Stats you need:

  1. Strength / Attack Power
    Totally number 1! high strength or attack power is just a must, without that you don’t deliver enough damage and it is also required for many raids. Attack power and Strength improves your damage with melee weapons.

  2. Critical strike Rating
    Crit rating is also very important, when you crit chance is over 24% you got enough(for 10 man raids / heroic dungeons) and then go for attack power or strength.

  3. Agility
    Improve critical chance.

  4. Haste Rating
    Also a nice addition. Make time between attacks faster.

  5. Hit Rating
    In many raids hit rating is required. Hit rating improves chance to hit with melee weapons.

  6. Exspertise
    Exspertise reduce the chance to be dodged or parried etc. (not misses). A 2%-4% is good.

  7. Armor Penetration
    A new stat added in The Burning Crusade. It reduces you enemy’s armour. It says “reduces enemy’s armour by up to 537″ (The words in bold make a big difference).

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Off hand:

Rune of Razorice Crafted by runeforging

Main Hand:

Rune of the Fallen Crusader Crafted by runeforging


Arcanum of Torment 150g in icecrown from Knights of the ebon blade quartermaster. Requires revered eith Knights of the ebon blade.


Enchant Cloak – Greater Speed Mats: Infinite Dust x24 and Greater Cosmic Essence x12.


Enchant Chest – Powerful Stats Enchanting 440. Mats: Infinite Dust x15 and Abyss Crystal x4.


Enchant Bracers – Greater Assault Enchanting level 430. Mats Infinite Dust x25 and Greater Cosmic Essence x 15.


Enchant Gloves – Greater Assault Enchanting level 395. Mats: Infinite Dust x6 and Greater Cosmic Essence x 1.


Eternal Belt Buckle Simply adds a socket to the belt of any choose. AH price is normally 100g.


Icescale Leg Armor buyed from ah 200 gold or created by a leatherworker. Mats: 2 Heavy Borean Leather and 2 Icy Dragonscale. Required level: 425.


Enchant Boots – Greater Assault Enchanting 440. Mats: Infinite Dust x35 and Greater Cosmic Essence x5 and Abyss Crystal x4.


Greater Inscription of the Axe Requires exalted with Sons of Hodir. Cost 100 g at the quartermaster in The Storm Peaks.

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glyphi.jpgGlyph of Plague Strike
This one is just a must. 20% extra damage from plague strike both to AoE DPS and single DPS.

glyph.jpgGlyph of Icy Touch

glypho.jpgGlyph of the Ghoul

glyphpestilence.jpgGlyph of Pestilence
Of minor glyphs this is the most important. Used for AoE kill.

glyphdeathcoil.jpgGlyph of Death’s Embrace

glyphraisedeath.jpgGlyph of Raise Dead

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heymeta.png Meta gem Sockets

  1. Chaotic Skyflare Diamond
  2. Invigorating Earthsiege Diamond

heyrealred.png Red Sockets

  1. Bold Cardinal Ruby
  2. Bold Scarlet Ruby
  3. Bold Bloodstone

heyred.png Blue Sockets

  1. Balanced Dreadstone
  2. Sovereign Twilight Opal
  3. Balanced Shadow Crystal

heyyellow.png Yellow Sockets

  1. Smooth King’s Amber
  2. Smooth Autumn’s Glow
  3. Perfect Smooth Sun Crystal

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Deadly Boss Mods

It’s just a must! Without that you are totally lost in Naxxramas for example. It tells when bosses cast spells.

Atlasloot Enhanced Atlasloot

It’s a very helpful add-on for all new dinged classes if you want get the best gear for heroic dungeons and other stuff. I use it and it’s a great help. It’s from were you can find a lot of add-ons to customize your game play.


Also useful for any class. I added this add-on to the list because its fun to see, especially when you playing with friends, how high your damage is.

Omen Threat Meter

Very helpful for heroic raids when bosses can one hit players. Keep an eye on this little meter, if it gets too high stop attacking to avoid more aggro.

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potlogo.jpg Elixirs/Flasks

Battle Elixirs:

  1. Elixir of Mighty Strength (attack power)
  2. Elixir of Deadly Strikes (critical strike rating)

Gurdian Elixirs:

  1. Gift of Arthas

foodlogo.jpg Food

  1. Dragonfin Filet
  2. Blackened Dragonfin

scrolllogo.jpg Scrolls

  1. Scroll of Strength VIII
  2. Scroll of Agility VIII

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Single target Dps

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The best way for a death knight to level up quickly, is to AoE.

Specc can be found here.
Talnet build : AoE

Jame already wrote a nice guide about spell rotations etc., just check this one out:
How to AoE with a Death Knight

If you don’t like AoE or just find it difficult, then you can use solo levelling with this.

Talent build: Solo

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Version 1.0 – First time this guide is out. All the basic things are here. (Currently:)

In Progress:
Version 1.1 – A boss specc and rotations chapter will be added.

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    Dec 28, 2010 @ 10:16 am

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    Oct 20, 2010 @ 10:22 am

    Out of DateThis guide is out of date. If anyone is interested in adopting it and updating it, please leave a comment here. Until then, it will be moved to the archive section.

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    Oct 8, 2009 @ 17:32 pm

    Hey Shinke, and welcomeHey Shinke, and welcome back!

    The guide actually needs a revamp, because there is actually no useful information in this guide ATM beside the links.. So what about writing your own Death knight Dual-Wield guide? If you want, I can copy-paste the guide and PM it to you if you want the layout (which is pretty good in my opinion), and just refill the text with your own :P? So you’re getting the credits.

    Also, thanks for the nice feddback!

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    Oct 8, 2009 @ 3:31 am

    Shinke is BACK and he isShinke is BACK and he is playing a dual wielding death knight :O

    First, let me just say, Eric this guide is awesome, the layout is great, formatting is great, the whole thing is just simply great.
    Secondly, you said in a previous comment that you haven’t had time to update the guide.. Perhaps I could help you out, with an up to date spec, rotation, glyphs, the whole nine yards. It would save you the trouble, and give me something to do while I watch the Twins fall apart playing the Yankees 🙁

    Get back to me as soon as you can!


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    Sep 15, 2009 @ 20:17 pm

    Thank you for your feedback!Thank you for your feedback! And yes, this guide is pretty much outdated (patch 3.0 I believe), so I need to update it, when I get the time (I’m pretty busy at the moment).
    If you decide to write a guide about your Death Knight spec – I’ll gladly help you with links, and a pretty layout as I’m pretty handy with such things 😉
    I really appreciate your interest [url=](You can see on my Armory, that I’m pretty outdated :P[/url] If you’re interested in writing a guide, just PM me, and I gladly explain more 😉

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    Sep 14, 2009 @ 2:08 am

    Doesn’t work anymoreUnfortunatly, in 3,1 (yes, I know it was a while ago), the frost dual wield build had a bad nerf. So much that it really couldn’t be a viable raiding spec. However, 3.2 brought frost Dual wield back into the game, which is a good thing 😉

    If anyone needs the spec, please check my armory:

    The first spec is a spec I use if there are no enhancement Shamans in the raid, my personal DPS is slightly lower, but it improves overall raid DPS.
    The second spec is a spec I use if there is an enhancement Shaman in the raid, I don’t spec into icy talons because their totem has the same effect. It improves my personal DPS.
    Glyph choice is the same for each spec:
    Glyph of Obliterate: Extra damage.
    Glyph of Frost Strike: Less runic power on frost strikes, meaning more frost strikes per rotation, meaning more DPS.
    Glyph of Disease: A lot of people question this one, saying that it should be Glyph of Icy Touch. However, I personally choose to use disease as it only requires a pestilence to refresh diseases (1 blood rune, which would be converted into a death rune, instead of 1 unholy and 1 frost).
    Minor glyphs are for obvious reasons, I hope I was help in any way 🙂

    PS: Yes, I know this guide is outdated, and it probably would have been better to make my own, but as I lack skills on links, pictures and such, I decided to post this as a comment instead, hope that’s OK. 🙂

    Best of luck, Death Knights.

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    Apr 25, 2009 @ 10:09 am

    Not sureI thought that Blizzard called the Death Knight a Hero class because it was one of the major pieces in the Warcraft strategy game or something like that? I never played it, but I think I read that somewhere.

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    Feb 5, 2009 @ 15:48 pm

    The last weeks, I discoveredThe last weeks, I discovered the way of twohand-weapons could be a good choice of dpsing. I’ve think as a generally dungeon spec and AoE spec my guide is the best choice for dealing most damage in 5-man dungeons because of the AoE spell rotations and builds.

    If you go in depths two-hander is best because you need of SINGLE TARGET dps for bosses in Naxx / OS etc.

    Then i writed my way of single target
    [*]Use a two-hander
    [*]Spec can be found [url=]here[/url]
    [*]use of ghoul (like always)


    Icy touch -> Plague strike -> Blood strike -> Blood strike -> Scourge strike -> Death coil -> Scourge strike -> Death coil

    Hope you will leave some suggestion comments if im wromg

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    Feb 4, 2009 @ 0:41 am

    I was under the impressionI was under the impression that this guide was specifically designed to help people figure out how to maximize their DKs should they wish to dual wield. I think the assumption is that we go with a big two-hander…

    My DK is still only level 70 but this is a great start for the guide. Just a lot of information to put down on paper, and getting all the formatting and stuff down here is a big task as is it. Thank you!

    Eventually it would be nice to see some more polish as you can… incorporate people’s suggestions, make some of the spells smaller, etc. As well as fixing the grammatical and typographical errors, since that will make readability much better. Keep up the good work!

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    Jan 25, 2009 @ 16:23 pm

    Hey, like i am said there isHey, like i am said there is alot of death knight builds, i’m still using my own. If you see my “IN PROGRESS” chapter i will add a boss spec. Its new for me so feel free to leave a coment if you think i’m wrong.

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    Jan 25, 2009 @ 12:34 pm

    The talent build you linkedThe talent build you linked is so wrong I don’t even know where to begin. By wrong I don’t mean that you can’t play the game with it and do some decent DPS. By wrong I mean that it’s FAR from being the best DW Build you could make.

    And I’m not pulling that out of nowhere, I actually read the 60+ something pages of theorycrafting and spreadsheet / WWS analysis [url=]here[/url] on the EJ boards.

    ps: Make an effort with your spelling please.

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    Jan 25, 2009 @ 11:00 am

    Talent treeI think that the TT u sugested isnt teh best a DK can have. With my DK im frost/blood and didnt spent any talents on the 2h weapon or dual wield talents. Thats the best talent tree imo :

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    Jan 24, 2009 @ 7:06 am

    Okay, first of all, thisOkay, first of all, this looks like a good start.

    But. There are quite a few errors and omissions (The following assumes something like a [url=]0/32/39[/url] build) :
    [*][b]Gear[/b] – You want to use fast/fast unless you get a slow weapon that’s significantly better ([url=]Titansteel Bonecrusher[/url] > [url=]Fang of Truth[/url], for example). As a rule of thumb, a slow weapon needs to be ~10 DPS higher to be superior. Priorities are as follows:
    [*]Soft hit cap (8.2%).
    [*]Haste/Expertise/More hit
    [*]ArP is bad, don’t get it.[/list]
    [*][b]Gemming[/b] – [url=]Chaotic Skyflare Diamond[/url] is the meta. Slap two [url=]Sovereign Twilight Opals[/url] into your gear for the blue gems (epic gems are still NYI), then [url=]Bold Scarlet Ruby[/url] for everything else (unless the socket bonus gives you more strength/AP. Remember that strength scales with kings).
    [*][b]Consumables[/b] – Like before, Strength stuff is better than anything else. However, the [url=]Flask of Endless Rage[/url] is better than any elixir. Gift of Arthas no longer counts as an extra disease (and you need to be hit to proc it anyway).
    [*][b]Glyphs[/b] – Like Jame said, [url=]Glyph of Icy Touch[/url] is pretty much mandatory. I’d swap it out for [url=]Glyph of Blood Strike[/url], BS is a small part of your DPS.
    [*][b]Sigils[/b] – [url=]Frozen Conscience[/url] is the best you can get, by miles. It costs 30 Venture Coins, which you can get from 3 or 4 PvP dailies in Grizzly Hills.
    [*][b]Enchants[/b] – [url=]Greater Inscription of the Axe[/url] from the Sons of Hodir in Storm Peaks is a better shoulder enchant (Inscribers get an even better one). [url=]Crusher[/url] for gloves is a straight up better enchant, [url=]Precision[/url] may be better if you’re just short of the cap.
    [*][b]Pets and RP dumping[/b] – You haven’t mentioned the Gargoyle. It does a lot of DPS, but is very fragile. So don’t pop it before a big AoE. It inherits your stats [i]at the moment it is summoned[/i], so you should pop it when your procs go off (Mirror of Truth if you have it, Rune of the Fallen Crusader, etc). Always, always use it when you have 100 RP. The rest of the time, [url=]Death Coil[/url] is your Runic Power dump.[/list]

    Also, Howling Blast is a PBAoE, it doesn’t matter which way you’re facing. Pulling aggro should never be an issue (except perhaps on Malygos) unless your tanks are bad. You should also probably mention that Blood Strike’s main purpose it to make Death Runes for more HB goodness. And finally, HoW is equal to a Shaman’s Strength of Earth totem (and inferior to a Enchance Shaman’s improved version).

    The guide definitely has potential, but needs a bit of polish. Keep up the good work though ;).

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    Jan 24, 2009 @ 1:48 am

    Your gem selection is notYour gem selection is not correct. For a blue slot, Sovereign purple gems are optimal (+STR, +STA), and for a yellow slow, Inscribed orange gems (+STR, +Crit) are best.

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    Jan 23, 2009 @ 23:13 pm

    In the leveling buildIn the leveling build section……

    “The best way for a death knight to level up quickly, is to AoE.

    Specc can be found here.
    Talnet build : AoE”

    Talent is spelled wrong. 🙂
    And not being picky but most people say spec not specc. But that part’s fine.

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    Jan 23, 2009 @ 22:42 pm

    Did Blizz remove theDid Blizz remove the sorta-bug that allowed you to turn back from your ghoul type thing into your normal form after death if you exit the instance?

    If not, you may want to add it 🙂

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    Jan 23, 2009 @ 20:52 pm

    Also, I would shrink the topAlso, I would shrink the top image a little. I love it, but it’s kinda too big 😛

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    Jan 23, 2009 @ 20:46 pm

    Eric, first of all I mustEric, first of all I must say that the formatting and layout of your guide is AMAZING. Beautiful really.

    However, the information needs some adjustments.

    Glyphed of Icy Touch is a must have for DW builds for example. And the best current DW talent spec is : 33/39

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    Dodgy Doctor
    Jan 23, 2009 @ 18:56 pm

    The Doctor is back.You have only given information for dual wield dps, and the spec itself isn’t the most optimal. As it stands the optimal spec is 0/32/39.

    Also, where’s the Two-Handed love? Some of use undead brutes prefer to see big things on our backs.

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