Unholy Death Knights: From the Lich to a Niche
Unholy death knights are largely misunderstood, their pet equates to as much as 15% of their damage, unholy tanks don’t even use a ghoul. Their single target DPS is second to Blood, the tanking threat generated by an unholy DK is mediocre at best. So why would anyone want to spec into one as either DPS or Tanking?
Blood DKs have a superior single target DPS to Unholy its true, so to maximize your own dps, why would you even want to spec into Unholy, or as a raid leader bring an Unholy DK?
Why spec Unholy when you could go Blood for superior sustained single target dps, superior single target burst, Hysteria, Abomination’s Might, and simpler gearing options?
First off survivability, unholy DK’s get bone shield, so beyond a brief damage boost to all attacks while its up, you also take 20% less damage, healers love this. This is by far the best option among all the trees for DK DPS, sure there are options in the others but they are more for tanks.
The next big plus is sustained AoE DPS. The more mobs the higher the DPS for an unholy DK go. Now this requires getting all diseases up, and passing them around via pestilence, proper use of blood boil and death and decay, but by using all of these properly on multiple mobs it’s hard for anyone, including casters to match the sustainable AoE DPS an unholy DK can put out.
Unholy Tanking fills a solid void if you are missing a prot pally, as one of strengths is AoE tanking. However where they may excel with that, they do lack in single target threat. Frost and Blood seem to be a bit better in most other categories. However Unholy does make up for in damage reduction with the use of bone shield and anti-magic zone.
Raid Utility as DPS or Tank
All these are well and good, but what is the one thing that makes you invaluable as either a tank or DPS that in a world of increased homogenization of characters makes you stand out. 2 words: Ebon Plague.
Ebon Plague does what no other character class or spec can do, it increases disease damage by 30% AND increases magic damage taken by 13% by whatever you put it on. So what, Moonkin and Warlocks have the 13% increased magic damage also, yeah but neither can apply it as quickly or to as many enemies at one time without hurting their own dps in the process. With an unholy DK, this debuff on mobs and bosses is pretty much automatic. Shadow Priests love it since Devouring Plague is a big part of their overall damage, the disease portion of this spell helps them.
Unholy is worth the price of admission, you just need to understand its mechanics.