Best Death Knight Builds in WoW Wrath of the Lich King Classic

by Tom Cunliffe


Death Knights took the world (of Warcraft) by storm during their debut in World of Warcraft’s 2008 expansion Wrath of the Lich KingNot only were they the first ‘Hero Class’, providing the player with a unique starting experience, but they were arguably the most powerful class of the expansion, topping damage meters and holding absolute dominion over Arena. But what are the best builds for a Death Knight in WoW: Wrath of the Lich King Classic?

The Best Death Knight Builds for Every Specialisation in Wrath of the Lich King Classic

At the start of the expansion, and up until the final raid launches, the Frost Death Knight is the leading specialization choice for damage. Unholy Death Knights also output extremely strong damage numbers, so which specialization you choose as a DPS is entirely up to the playstyle you prefer. Below are the best Death Knight builds for all three specializations in World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King Classic: Frost, Unholy, and Blood.

Best Frost Death Knight Build in Wrath of the Lich King Classic

Frost Death Knights are incredibly powerful, consistently ranking at the top of the damage meters, and being the go-to choice for the first few phases of the expansion. The best build for Frost Death Knights in World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King Classic involves spending some points in the Blood tree. This is due to the bonuses granted to Critical Strike, as well as boosting Rune Power regeneration and Attack Power. Only 15 points should be spent in the Blood tree, with the remaining 56 dedicated to Frost.


Blood Tree

  • Butchery – Rank 2
  • Subversion – Rank 3
  • Bladed Armor – Rank 5
  • Dark Conviction – Rank 5

Frost Tree

  • Improved Icy Touch – Rank 3
  • Runic Power Mastery – Rank 2
  • Black Ice – Rank 5
  • Nerves of Cold Steel – Rank 3
  • Icy Talons  – Rank 5
  • Annihilation – Rank 3
  • Killing Machine – Rank 5
  • Chill of the Grave – Rank 2
  • Endless Winter – Rank 2
  • Glacier Rot – Rank 3
  • Improved Icy Talons – Rank 1
  • Merciless Combat – Rank 2
  • Rime – Rank 3
  • Threat of Thassarian – Rank 3
  • Blood of the North – Rank 3
  • Unbreakable Armor – Rank 1
  • Frost Strike – Rank 1
  • Guile of Gorefriend – Rank 3
  • Tundra Stalker – Rank 5
  • Howling Blast – Rank 1

Major Glyphs

  • Glyph of Disease – This saves you from having to use both an Unholy and Frost Rune to refresh your diseases by allowing Pestilence to do it for you.
  • Glyph of Obliterate – A flat increase to DPS, as Obliterate is a huge part of the Frost Death Knight’s damage output.
  • Glyph of Frost Strike – By lowering the Runic Power cost of Frost Strike, you will be able to cast the spell more during longer fights.

Minor Glyphs

  • Glyph of Raise Dead – Eliminates the cost of summoning a ghoul.
  • Glyph of Pestilence – Pestilence’s range increases, which is essential for AoE damage in dungeons and raids.
  • Glyph of Horn of Winter – Horn of Winter should always be up, so an extension of time the buff is active will save you Runic Power to use on Frost Strike.

Best Unholy Death Knight Build in Wrath of the Lich King Classic

The best build for Unholy Death Knights in Wrath of the Lich King Classic involves using a two-handed weapon. Much like the Frost Death Knight build, you will want to spend Talent Points in two trees. However, this time you will want to spend 17 points in the Frost, rather than Blood. Runic Power Mastery permanently increases your maximum Runic Power, whilst Black Ice provides a static 10% damage boost to both Frost and Shadow damage, and Endless Winter yields a considerable 4% strength increase and free use of Mind Freeze.


Frost Tree

  • Improved Icy Touch – Rank 3
  • Runic Power Mastery – Rank 2
  • Black Ice – Rank 5
  • Icy Talons – Rank 5

Unholy Tree

  • Vicious Strikes  – Rank 2
  • Virulence – Rank 3
  • Epidemic – Rank 2
  • Morbidity – Rank 1
  • Ravenous Dead  – Rank 3
  • Outbreak – Rank 3
  • Necrosis  – Rank 5
  • Blood-Caked Blade – Rank 3
  • Night of the Dead – Rank 2
  • Impurity – Rank 5
  • Dirge  – Rank 2
  • Master of Ghouls – Rank 1
  • Desolation – Rank 5
  • Crypt Fever  – Rank 3
  • Bone Shield – Rank 1
  • Wandering Plague  – Rank 3
  • Ebon Plaguebringer – Rank 3
  • Scourge Strike  – Rank 1
  • Rage of Rivendare – Rank 5
  • Summon Gargoyle  – Rank 1

Major Glyphs

  • Glyph of Icy Touch – Unholy Death Knights are all about diseases, so a 20% flat increase to Frost Fever is a fantastic choice.
  • Glyph of the Ghoul – Being the most crucial part of your kit, a stronger ghoul is a no-brainer. (Literally.)
  • Glyph of Dark Death  – Working alongside Morbidity and Impurity, Glyph of Dark Death is nothing to sneeze at, increasing Death Coil by a further 15%.

Minor Glyphs

Minor Glyphs stay the same as the Frost Death Knight build, with Glyph of Raise Dead being especially useful due to how important ghouls are in the Unholy Death Knight’s kit.

  • Glyph of Raise Dead
  • Glyph of Pestilence
  • Glyph of Horn of Winter

Best Blood Death Knight Build in Wrath of the Lich King Classic

Being the Death Knight’s only tank specialization, the most important part of a Blood build is damage mitigation and Threat generation. To obtain the highest potential in raids, it’s important to dip into all three Talent Trees, although the majority of your points will still be allocated to Blood.


Unholy Tree

Virulence is the only needed talent from the Unholy tree. However, if you are consistently raiding with an Enhancement Shaman or Frost Death Knight with Improved Icy Talons, you can omit spending points on Improved Icy Talons, and opt-in to choosing Anticipation or Morbidity instead.

  • Virulence – Rank 1

Frost Tree

  • Improved Icy Touch – Rank 3
  • Toughness – Rank 5
  • Black Ice – Rank 5
  • Icy Talons – Rank 5
  • Improved Icy Talons – Rank 1 (If someone in your Raid can provide this buff, spend your points in Unholy, as detailed above)
  • Endless Winter – Rank 2
  • Frigid Dreadplate – Rank 3
  • Glacier Rot – Rank 3

Blood Tree

  • Blade Barrier – Rank 5
  • Bladed Armor – Rank 5
  • Scent of Blood – Rank 1
  • Two-Handed Weapon Specialization – Rank 2
  • Rune Tap –  Rank 1
  • Dark Conviction – Rank 5
  • Death Rune Mastery  – Rank 3
  • Improved Rune Tap – Rank 3
  • Spell Deflection  – Rank 3
  • Bloody Strikes – Rank 3
  • Veteran of the Third War  – Rank 3
  • Abomination’s Might – Rank 2
  • Unholy Frenzy  – Rank 1
  • Improved Death Strike – Rank 2
  • Vampiric Blood – Rank 1
  • Will of the Necropolis – Rank 3

Major Glyphs

  • Glyph of Death Strike – Increasing the damage done by Death Strike will, in turn, increase Threat. You should always stay at 25 Runic Power or above to maximize the potential of this glyph.
  • Glyph of Disease – Pestilence will refresh the duration of diseases, saving you two runes for the price of one. This means you will be able to cast Death Strike more often, which synergizes with Glyph of Death Strike for higher Threat generation, as well as self-healing.
  • Glyph of Dark Command or Glyph of Vampiric Blood – If you are not hit capped, Glyph of Dark Command is essential to increase the success rate of Dark Command. However, if you are hit capped, Glyph of Vampiric Blood, which increases the duration of the spell, is a more useful option.

Minor Glyphs

Two Minor Glyphs stay the same as both the Frost and Unholy Death Knight builds, with the exception of Glyph of Blood Tap, which replaces Glyph of Horn of Winter.

  • Glyph of Raise Dead
  • Glyph of Pestilence
  • Glyph of Blood Tap – This allows for a free rune on a 1-minute cooldown, without the 6% base health cost.

World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King Classic is available now via Blizzard’s on PC.


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