Unholy DPS vs Blood DPS

Here we go again. I went to do some parsing in the Blasted Lands, because it's impossible to do it in the Ebon Hold with dozens of people bashing the Training Dummies 24/7 and messing up my results with their extra diseases :P

Note: Both tests are done with a level 61 Death Knight, equipped with the starting area set.

Anyway, here is the first test. 5 Minutes of single target damage with this Unholy Spec. The Gargoyle was summoned twice and lasted full duration each time.

Total combined DPS: 702 DPS

Conclusion: We're doing a bit less damage than before, overall. However, our personal damage went way up. Scourge Strike is even better now, had some 2100+ crits with the Cinderglacier buff on. Death Coil is finally useful and does decent damage.

On the other hand, the ghoul got seriously nerfed to oblivion. Barely half the DPS it used to do. I think it will work out at high level though, with good gear and a lot of STR, the ghoul's dps will be more acceptable.

All in all, I like this new Unholy DK more than the old one, because even though it was fun to have an imba pet, our personal damage was pathetic, and this needed fixing. But this raises the question now, with this big nerf on the ghoul's DPS and all the boosts made to the Blood tree, is Unholy still the best leveling spec?


Blood DPS Parsing results

Here we go. Same time same place. 5 minutes of single target DPS on a Servant in the Blasted Lands with this Blood Spec.

Ghoul was summoned once and fought for 2 minutes. Dancing Rune Weapon was summoned 3 times and fought for its max duration everytime. Hysteria was used 3 times as well.

Total DPS: 654 DPS

Conclusion: Quite close, as you can see. The blood tree definitely got some nice improvements, and I think I can do better with a different build involving Death Rune Mastery (for more Heart Strikes, because Heart Strike is a lot better now, as you can see). What also impressed me was the damage coming from Death Coil. It has become quite significant, enough to take talents such as Butchery and Scent of Blood.

The Unholy Build still comes ahead. However, it's not that simple. When you're leveling, you generally fight one mob at a time, sometimes two, rarely more. Even if you're trying to AoE grind as a Death Knight, it means you have to spend extra time gathering mobs, which will sometime just slow you down.
The reason why the Unholy Build comes ahead on a single target fight, is that it's a 5 minute non-stop fight, on the same target, which means you always have your 4 diseases up and running, increasing your DPS a lot.
This wouldn't be possible in a normal leveling siutation, because Unholy Blight costs 60 runic power and lasts only 20 seconds, which means it's a waste to use it unless you're fighting an elite or a big pack of mobs. So effectively, while leveling up and killing solo mobs, the Unholy Build would have a lower DPS, because you'd have to substract the damage lost from not using Unholy Blight on most fights..
Moreover, if you compare the two builds, you'll see that the Blood spec has much more survivability with +10% Parry, Vampiric Blood, Mark of Blood and Bloodworms.

I've got one complaint though, and I hope blizzard will change this. Dancing Rune Weapon. I mean, it's the ultimate talent for the Blood Tree, and it's not even as good as Summon Gargoyle, which is in the middle of the Unholy Tree. They definitely need to increase the duration of Dancing Rune Weapon by a lot, or do something to make it more powerful, because right now, it's really lackluster for an ultimate.

So at this point, I'm back to wondering what I'll recommend as talent spec for my leveling guide. The above samples were too short to draw a final conclusion, so tomorrow, I'll be back in the Blasted Lands and will run thorough tests.

After that, I think I'll be able to determine what will be my final leveling build for my Death Knight Guide. Till tomorrow then!

19 Response to "Unholy DPS vs Blood DPS"

  1. Tarciryan says:

    A couple of points on leveling.

    -You'll never use your cooldowns everytime, and even if you do they will not be used a maximum potential so they're not reliable for mesuring DPS.

    -Blood HP regen is overkill. On elites unholy works just as good, Bone Armor and Death Strike heal you sufficiently and should you mess up you got quite alot of DPS as a ghoul as you die. Once you get to Northrend neither spec will make you kill elites (90% of the elites anyway, currently done Howling Fjord and Dragonblight and only found two elite quests I could solo).

    Otherwise I liked the changes in the latest patch. More dmg to us, less to the ghouls (w're not BM hunters afterall). And even without cinderglacier Icy Touch got a manic buff, crits for 1500 atm with 3 diseases (I'm currently 72 and picked up Icy Talons before Unholy Blight).

    Whyzer says:

    I just had few questions mainly about gear.

    First: have you tested 2h vs dw if dw is possible with deathknight?

    Second: Would faster weapon be more reliable for unholy and slower for blood, or it would not matter?

    Third: have you started replacing starting gear with outland one?

    Tarciryan says:

    I haven't tested DW yet, but I would assume a mix of Unholy/Blood be good for DW with offhand buff and various autoattack procs.

    Jame says:

    Almost didn't replace any of the starting gear until Nagrand. Haven't tested Dual Wield also, simply because I didn't have any decent 1H combo to try it.

    Also, I don't know about you, but just can't picture a Death Knight dual wielding, it just feels weird. 2Hand weapons look so much cooler on them :p

    Wyrmsfire says:

    Hey Jame... great work dude. Please, keep it up. But don't forget to take a break once in a while. Don't want to get burnt out, right?

    Anyway, as a person who has not been into the beta, I've got a lot of questions. But I wont share them all here.

    Here's one for you though: How difficult do you think it is going to be to get used to the Death Knight class system? There's a lot of new stuff to take in: Runic Power, Runeforging, assigning runes to your weapon...

    It sounds really complicated.

    Thanks again!

    Whyzer says:

    Ah was just interested in comparison, i wouldve guessed that dw will be a must for tanking, but big 2h is always good in the hands of melee class that can smash with it :D

    Oh ye i know your guides base around fast pve progressing thru circuits in certain zones, but heres the snag, what if you get interrupted in circuit by cc or constant ganking? is dk viable to deal with classes of equal and maybe few lvls higher if in a pinch? (ie just killed 7 mobs that left you on 50ish % hp and rogue jumped you, hypotetical situation, can you fend him off or even kill him?)

    Tarciryan says:

    The big downer with DW for tanking is the riposte effect, on hard hitting bosses that either means gimping your survivability for hit rating or risking a whole lot of hurt from parries.

    You can get by fine in Outland on starting gear, but once you hit Northrend, all that is out before you you're done with the first zone.

    I know frost is behind blood and unholy.
    But it has some nice CC options... even dual wield has potential (if fallen crusader stacks like the regular crusader enchant does)

    I was wondering if you looked at the DPS of frost... I guess my question is:

    From a DPS stand point how far is frost behind Unholy and BLood?


    Aogan says:

    Great work, as usual Jame! One comment though... I think your dps calculation is flawed in that you are adding Ghoul (and Gargoyle) dps directly to your own to get the final dps count.
    You are over stating the pet dps. Sure, the Ghoul dps is 106 (for Blood spec), but only for 2min of the 5min you are fighting.

    It seems to me the real dps is:


    A significant advantage for Unholy! I'm not sure of the mechanics on the Ghoul summoning, but the Unholy calculation gets a bonus because you summoned him twice in that fight. If Blood can do that too, it should be consistent.

    Jame says:

    @Wyrmsfire: It's actually not that complicated. They removed the whole attachign runes to weapons thing. Now you have 2 blood 2 frost 2 unholy runes, that's it, you can't change them.

    After that, it's all about finding a dps cycle which utilizes as much of your abilities as possible, knowing that runes take 10 second to refresh. I suggest optimized dps cycles in my guide by the way.

    Once you get used to a rotation it will feel quite simple. You can practice on a target dummy for 5-10 minute and then you'll have it down)

    Jame says:

    @william wallace

    I haven't checked the DPS of frost recently, but I will as soon as I get some time.

    Jame says:


    Hmm I did the math again and find the same result.

    I simply add the damage of each source and then divide everything by 300. (5 minutes = 300s)

    (162948+12216+15765+5492)/300= 654.73

    Now, math isn't my forte, is there something I'm missing?

    Jame says:


    DKs have excellent survivability in PvP. Also, while soloing, your HP will almost never go below 75%, you can fight non-stop and finish most fights full HP.

    Aogan says:

    LoL... no it's my math skills that are off. I mistakenly assumed you added 106dps to 544dps to get ~654 dps for the Blood spec.
    That's what I get for trying to use them before I've had my coffee in the morning!

    Sorry for my confusion.

    Jame says:

    Hehe no problem :)

    Michael says:

    Hey Jame, could you do another blood vs unholy vs frost dps test if you find the time? With the fix of heartstrike, the buffs to frost and the pretty nasty nerfs to unholy I'd be very interested in the results. Unfortunately I dont have a beta account so I cant test it myself :/

    Jame says:

    Aye, I'll do some tests tomorrow and make an article :)

    This comment has been removed by the author.

    1) blood is AMAZING for surviving.
    with runetap (wich grants you with 10% of your maximum health, an with improved runetap, it increases the healing by 100%) mark of bblood wich heals for for 4% of your maximum health up to 20 times. and blood worns wich fight along with oyu healing yo u as they do DMG.
    2)yes unholy focuses on an offhand, but, as a deathknight, all of your moves are instant, so theres absolutley no point in focusing on hitting faster, u alrwady hit pretty fast with ALL instant hits (besides rune strike)

    unholy has NO heals unless u count deathstrike wich all dk's have, and unholy does grant you an extra diseas to heal you more with deathstrike, but, blood is way better for surviving in pvp.

    would you rather do dps with absolutley no heals ? (obviously besides deathstrike) or do a little less DMG but amazing healing, and if your unholy, to heal, you have to fight to heal, what if you are capturing the flag in WSG without a healer? you would need to take ppl on to heal yourself, unlike blood wich has instant heals.

    i would much rather prefer blood over unholy
    (i actualy forgot to bring up death pact wich heals you for 40% of your total health at the scrifice of a ghoul, but over all id much rather prefer doing not much less DMG but with amazing heals over a little more DMG without heals)
    but i have to admit, i like the thought of an unholy spec'd deathknight, haha.

    wow this was long lol >.<