[Death Knight][Dual Wield] Shinke’s Guide to Death Knight Dual Wield DPS




Note: This guide is a revision of Eric’s original Dual Wielding Death Knight DPS Guide. With permission, I have revamped it for 3.2.2, using his original format (which is awesome btw) and my own text.

The Death Knight is a new class added in the Wrath of the Lich King. Blizzard calls it a hero class because of the many nice things it is able to do. While you are leveling, the death knight seems to be a much overpowered class, but it ends up as a normalish class at level 80.

To begin, let’s talk talents. Talent builds are the most important tactics for 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 talents we’ll be using in this guide are for 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.

If you don’t have a set of one-handed weapons, you can either try Unholy or Blood for Two-handed weapon DPS, or get a couple one-handed weapons.
I would recommend you get a pair of Aledar’s Battlestar, which drops from Heroic Trial of the Champion.

Table of Contents

  1. Talent build
  2. Spells and abilities
  3. Spell rotations
  4. Gear
  5. Add-ons
  6. Consumables
  7. Levelling as a Death knight
  8. In progress / Updates



For link, click here.

There are several different builds for Dual Wield DPS at the moment. This is the one I’ve had the most success with. Why this is the best choice?:

  • Nerves of Cold Steel reduces the required hit rating to cap! Instead of 8%, you now only need 5%.
  • Howling blast is the next bonus. This is a great spell. Really hurts in AoE.
  • Killing Machine and Rime: Put these together and you get a free Howling Blast CRIT!
  • Icy Talons can replace the need for a shaman’s Windfury Totem in raids and dungeons.

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Obliterate is your main source of damage. Obliterate is useful for single target DPS’ing and will do a lot more damage if the target you attack has Frost Fever and Blood Plague.

Blood Strike
Blood strike is your secondary strike. Blood Strike is useful for single target DPS’ing and will do more damage if the target you attack has Frost Fever and Blood Plague.

ps.jpg Plague Strike
Third most important spell in the spell rotation of PvE dps. It drops off a desease 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
This is your AoE spell. Does double damage if mobs are infected with Frost Fever. For both raiding and PvP DPS this is great. So it’s important to have Frost Fever on all targets for optimal DPS. If you to also get a Killing Machine and/or Rime proc you will crit for a massive amount of damage.

it.jpgIcy Touch
Great magic, most of the combos as a death knight start with Icy Touch.

Used for mass kill dps or AOE leveling. Always cast it after Plague Strike and Icy touch when facing multiple mobs.

fortitude.jpgIcebound Fortitide
This can be a lifesaver when soloing or when you overtake aggro on a mob. It’s a tank spell but works great as a dps.

HORNOFWINTER.jpgHorn of Winter
This is the death knight’s buff. Make sure to cast it when it runs out. Make sure to tell shamans not to use their Strength of Earth Totem, as this gives the same buff.

raisedead.jpgRaise Dead
This spell is used to return your ghoul from a dead humanoid or Corspe Dust. Very important. Also, with Glyph of Raise Dead, this no longer requires Corpse Dust, so use it whenever you can!

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The spell rotation is simple, but with a few tricks thrown in. You will DPS in Blood Presence at all times. This below is for single target dps.

it.jpg –>ps.jpg–>Ob.jpg–>–>–>fs.jpg (until your runes are ready for use)
–>Ob.jpg–>Ob.jpg–>Ob.jpg–>fs.jpg (until your runes are available again)

After doing this rotation, all your runes are on cooldown. This is what you will do normally.
However, you should know that Killing Machine and Rime have a chance to proc. What to do when this happens? Simple: If Killing Machine procs (a free crit), but Rime does not, just run through the rotation normally. However, if both Killing Machine AND Rime (a free Howling Blast cast) proc, immediately use Howling Blast. Other than those 2 procs, this rotation will cut the mustard.

Now to the AoE DPS. For this, it is simple. What I prefer to start with is:

it.jpg –>ps.jpg–>pestilence.jpg–>. This will put all your diseases on all the enemies. You now have 1 rune of each available, and a Death Rune on Cooldown. Use Howling Blast followed by Blood Strike and dump your runic power.

Make sure to jump on those Killing Machine and Rime procs, a howling blast crit on an AoE pull is sure to bump your dps through the f***ng roof!

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 the front towards the tank.

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Gear is the most important thing for PvE at level 80. Gear is what you wear and is created to improve your stats. Now that Emblems of Conquest drop in heroics and some raids, you can take advantage of the gear purchasable with these emblems. In this section I’ve made a list of what you need to get the best DPS in heroic, raids etc. Death knights will need a mix between critical strike rating, haste rating and 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

Pre-Raid Gear
This section contains the gear you can get before even taking a step into Naxx, or whatever raid you want to do. With the new patch heroics are dropping Emblems of Conquest and yes, we are going to take advantage of that.
Note: The Emblem of Conquest Quartermaster is located in your faction’s side of Dalaran.

Conqueror’s Darkruned Helmet: This can be bought with 58 Emblems of Conquest.
Spiked Titansteel Helm: This is crafted by a blacksmith and will usually go for 600g on the Auction House.

Spiked Battleguard Choker: Bought with 19 Emblems of Conquest.
Pendant of the Outcast Hero: Bought with 25 Emblems of Heroism. There really isn’t any alternative to the first one, as this would actually cost MORE.

Majestic Silversmith Shoulderplates: This drops in Heroic 5-man ToC. Off of Eadric the Pure. 12% Drop chance.
There isn’t any alternative to this. Getting shoulders pre-raid is difficult.

Hammerhead Sharkskin Cloak: This costs 25 Emblems of Valor. You can trade in Conquest badges for Valor badges.
Drape of the Undefeated: This drops in Regular-mode 5 man ToC off of the Black Knight.

Conqueror’s Darkruned Battleplate: You can buy this with 58 Emblems of Conquest.
Breastplate of the Imperial Joust: This drops in Regular mode 5 man ToC off of Eadric the Pure or Argent Confessor Paletress.

Vambraces of Unholy Command: This drops in Heroic 5 man ToC off of the Black Knight.
Bands of the Stoneforge: Drops in Heroic Halls of Stone off of Sjonnir The Ironshaper.

Bladebreaker Gauntlets: Sold for 28 Emblems of Conquest.
Gauntlets of the Stouthearted Crusader: Drops off Eadric the Pure in Normal ToC.

Belt of the Singing Blade: Costs 28 Emblems of Conquest.
Girdle of Arrogant Downfall: Drops in regular 5 man ToC off of the Black Knight.

Legplates of the Violet Champion: Costs 39 Emblems of Conquest.
Legplates of Relentless Onslaught: Drops in Heroic 5 man ToC off the Black Knight.

Plated Greaves of Providence: This drops in Heroic 5 man ToC off of Argent Confessor Paletress.
Spiked Titansteel Treads: Can be crafted by a blacksmith. Usually goes for 600g on the Auction House.

Ring of Invincibility: Costs 25 Emblems of Valor.
Hemorrhaging Circle: Drops off Gal’Darah in heroic Gundrak.
Titanium Impact Band: Made by a jewelcrafter. Again, goes for about 600g on the Auction House.
Uruka’s Band of Zeal: Drops in regular 5 man ToC from the Black Knight.

Banner of Victory: Drops in regular ToC off the Black Knight.
Darkmoon Card: Greatness: This will cost a lot of gold. But if you have the gold go for it! It’s a great trinket.
Mirror of Truth: Costs 40 Emblems of Heroism. This does seem like a lot compared to the other Emblem gear, but there are no real alternatives.

Aledar’s Battlestar: This drops off Eadric the Pure in heroic 5 man ToC. It is not unique, and if you can get two of them that’s awesome.
Titansteel Bonecrusher: Made from Blacksmithing. There really aren’t any other alternatives to these, sadly.

Sigil of Awareness: This costs 25 emblems of Valor, and is the best sigil outside of raids for Frost.
Sigil of the Vengeful Heart: This costs 19 Emblems of Conquest. It is cheaper than the Sigil of Awareness, and has a higher iLvl, but frost benefits only a little bit from this one.

If you decide to go for the badge gear, you’ll need a little over 300 badges. Yes, this is a lot, but getting all of it will help you in the long run. With all the top choices of gear on you can enter raids and do OVER 4000 DPS WITH NO PROBLEM. Remember how I said we’re taking advantage of the emblems? Yeah, that’s why.


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. You will be gemming for strength and only strength once you are hit capped.
  2. Critical strike Rating
    Crit rating is also very important, though is considered less of a DPS upgrade than strength when gemming.
  3. Agility
    Improve critical chance. Do NOT try to gear for Agil, Critical Strike gear outweighs it 100% of the time.
  4. Haste Rating
    Also a nice addition. Makes time between attacks faster. This is very important for dual wielding, but again, is not required to gem.
  5. Hit Rating
    In many raids hit rating is required. Hit rating improves chance to hit with melee weapons. With the talent build I have supplied, you will only need 5% to cap special attacks, which should be easily attainable with gear.
  6. Expertise
    Expertise reduces the chance to be dodged or parried. (Not misses). 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). This stat is more important for blood than frost, so do not worry about it.

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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 with Knight 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 choice. AH price varies from 50 to 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 100g at the quartermaster in the Storm Peaks.

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glyphi.jpgGlyph of Frost Strike

glyph.jpgGlyph of Icy Touch

glypho.jpgGlyph of Obliterate

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

glyphdeathcoil.jpgGlyph of Horn of Winter

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 required by most raiding guilds. Without that you are going to die in Naxxramas for example. It tells when bosses cast spells, and will mark certain targets that you need to focus on.

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 where you can find a lot of add-ons to customize your game play.


Also useful for any class. This addon will tell you your total dps, your damage done, and a hell lot more…

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. (Well said Eric!)

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potlogo.jpg Elixirs/Flasks


  1. Flask of Endless Rage This is a must-have in raids.

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. Fish Feast Hopefully someone in your party will have this to put down for your group. If not, consider the following:
  2. Dragonfin Filet
  3. Blackened Dragonfin


scrolllogo.jpg Scrolls

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

I don’t find scrolls to much use. Some buffs will erase them, use at caution.

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

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

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Version 1.0 – First time this guide is out. I will be keeping this up to date with current patches.

Version 1.1 – Updated AoE rotation section, and added a list of pre-raid gear.

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    Oct 20, 2010 @ 10:20 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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    Aug 11, 2010 @ 13:54 pm

    KM/Rime update.You should update the KM/Rime thing. Even if they both proc, on single targets it’s still a DPS increase to use FS for the crit and a Rime after, if you have time. Don’t be afraid to let Rime procs go to waste on single targets, the rotation is really tight.

    “[i]Wise is the man who knows he does not know[/i]”…
    …Or who knows why my mother keeps calling me.

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    Jul 22, 2010 @ 8:41 am

    The true soft hit-cap for DKThe true soft hit-cap for DK frost DW is 288.55 hit-rating (11% spell hit and 8,8% melee hit). It’s very important for DK frost to have spell hitcap cuz we have Icy Touch and Howling Blast that are spells (and very important ones).

    With that soft cap you’ll never miss with your Main Hand or spells, but you’ll miss with your off hand. The white cap for Dw is 885.33 hit-rating.

    Basically, with all talents and buffs:
    You need 5% melee hit for MH = 163.95 hit-rating
    Your OH need 24% melee hit = 885.33 hit-rating (IMPOSSIBLE, ignore)
    Your spells need 11% spell hit = 288.55 hit-rating

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    Apr 2, 2010 @ 1:19 am

    I don’t know if this wouldI don’t know if this would work, but another weapon option may be the [url=]Ironforge Smasher[/url]/[url=]Grimhorn Crusher[/url] that you get from the Argent Tournament. Shouldn’t take more than 5 days per weapon if you only do the crusader dailies, and less if you run H ToC every day. Just a though.

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    Jan 16, 2010 @ 19:16 pm

    frost dpsomfg i changed to your tree and i went from 1200 dps to 2200 dps. i think i just came. ty ty ty

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    Nov 2, 2009 @ 7:58 am

    Just want to point out a few thingsAlright so I looked over this guide and most of the information listed is entirely accurate, but there were a few things…

    First off when you mention Howling Blast, you state the it effects all of the targets infront of you. The way this ability works is it actually effects all mobs within 10 yards of your selected target, not simply what is in front of you.

    Secondly, In your rotation for AoE, you say to use obliterate after pestilence when I believe you meant to say howling blast as it has not yet been used.

    Thirdly, if you refer to elitist jerks it has been noted that having Fallen Crusader on both of your weapons is actually more of a net gain in DPS with procs than it is with Razorice due to the ramp up time for the stacks to apply. This is with a few exceptions of some boss fights in raids where you are not required to switch targets or move often. The reasoning for this leads me into my next thing:

    Next, you fail to mention weapon SPEEDS in your posting and this is the reason Razorice is less attractive. You want to go for the slowest weapon you can achieve. I believe on elitest jerks they had actually done the math that it is better to go with a 2.6 speed weapon over a 2.3 unless the 2.3 is 2 tiers of item levels ahead. Since your abilities focus on the max damage of both weapons.

    Also in your socketing section, it may be useful to mention that you do not want to gem for colors unless you are below the expertise or hit cap. The way around the meta gem requirements is to place a prismatic diamond into a piece of gear, usually your chest piece or whichever socket will help reward a strength bonus of 8. All other sockets should be taken up with red strength gems unless you need hit / expertise and mentioned above.

    But overall this post was very informative and a great help to many people starting out. It was well constructed and looks very nice, I apologize for having to provide so much controversy in post, but I did it with the sincere intentions of hoping this will help


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    Oct 28, 2009 @ 22:42 pm

    Fixed, thank you!Fixed, thank you!

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    Oct 28, 2009 @ 9:33 am

    Just 1thing, on the table ofJust 1thing, on the table of contents the addons section is after consumables, but in the guide the consumables is before addons, also the table of content linky thingy dosnt work on addons:]

    Great guide:}

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    Oct 27, 2009 @ 17:12 pm

    I enjoyed revamping your 😉 I enjoyed revamping your guide eric, thanks for the opportunity!

    BTW, don’t forget to rate it!

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    Oct 27, 2009 @ 16:23 pm

    Wow, thanks Shinke, youWow, thanks Shinke, you really made the guide shine again.

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    Oct 27, 2009 @ 15:08 pm

    Updated AoE section, makingUpdated AoE section, making it clearer on what to do. In the process of adding a gear section.

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    Oct 24, 2009 @ 0:27 am

    It depends on what hit capIt depends on what hit cap you are talking about.

    Basically, with 2 hand weapons the hit cap for white damage and special abilities is 8%. However, with dual wield the hit cap for special abilities is 5%, and the cap for white damage is 24%. The white cap is considred unreachable and should not be attempted by any Death Knight.

    (White damage is melee attacks, special abilities would be Obliterate/Frost Strike/Blood Strike)

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    Oct 23, 2009 @ 15:45 pm

    Just one thing I know theJust one thing I know the hit cap is 8% but I thought the cap went up when u dual-wield is this not the case with DK’s?

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    Oct 22, 2009 @ 14:40 pm

    Great that you made it soGreat that you made it so fast, very nice revamp. I’m clearly gonna use it when I spec Dual Wield again 🙂

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