HELLO THERE ANON I am happy to share my knowledge of the unholy plaguespreader to the best of my ability.

I’m guessing you’re interested in DPS if it’s your first time doing melee, so I’ll just be getting into that— but if you’re interested in tanking, I may refer you to barkentin because he’s the first person that comes to mind here on the tumblrs for tanking.

There are a few universal things that you have to worry about as a melee class, at least for now: hit and expertise rating. These things won’t matter as you’re leveling and I believe they’re being removed next expansion (or combined into a single stat? I admit that I’ve not been paying the closest attention to some of the upcoming changes), but once you hit 90 they become your top priority for balancing. While you’re leveling, your primary stat concern becomes strength, and don’t worry too much over your secondaries and reforging because you’ll be replacing your gear so quickly.

Luckily these days dual wielding does not require a monstrous amount of hit, so to get the cap for hit and expertise for both DW and 2-hand, you will need 7.5% of both at level 90, or 2550 adding up the numbers on the gear. You can see these ratings on the right-hand side of your character info (pointed out in this post, with a bit more info on the subject).

At 90 and after capping hit and expertise, your primary stat remains Strength but your secondary stats change depend on your spec.

For Unholy and 2-Handed Frost, your priority goes Crit > Mastery > Haste.

For dual-wield Frost, your priority is Mastery > Crit > Haste.

I could spend all day writing a lengthy guide on stats and move rotation/priority for both specs but a lot of people have written some really good and well-organized guides already!

Here is the guide on Icy Veins for Unholy, and here is the guide for Frost. It’s a good site in general for any class tips and is pretty easy to navigate. The Elitist Jerks articles are a little less beginner-friendly but also good references, and they can be found here and here.

Some good general tips for a beginner melee/DK, though?

  • Always* stand behind the boss. Rogues aren’t the only ones that do it from behind! Even if you’re expertise capped, a boss can still parry your moves if you’re in front, but the expertise means that if you’re behind it can’t dodge. A lot of bosses also do moves like fire breath or frontal cleaves that will gib you. Hard to tell where ‘behind’ is on a massive blob of a boss? Follow the hunter pets and ghouls!
  • *Some bosses you can’t stand directly behind! If it has a tail, like a dragon or a dinosaur, it probably has a tail swipe that will knock you away or stun you. Try to keep near the flank or back leg of creatures like these.
  • You are tremendously weapon-dependent. Don’t feel bad if you do subpar DPS if you’re using an outdated weapon. If it’s possible, try to make it your top priority for upgrading.
  • It can be kind of easy to tunnel-vision with your rotation but don’t let your diseases fall away! They make up a significant chunk of your damage and also buff your other moves (which is changing in WoD, presumably because so many people tunnel-vision and let their diseases fall off).
  • As far as I know, leveling as a DK is still hilariously broken right now and Blood Boil is monstrously overpowered. You can power-level to about 75 using nothing but Blood Boil because it magically 2-shots everything, so enjoy the power trip while it lasts.
  • Both specs are very priority-based and cater to different kinds of playstyles, so I suggest messing around with both. Unholy is significantly easier to keep up your diseases thanks to Festering Strike, and I find it a bit easier for survivability thanks to the ghoul always being out and the self-heal that comes with that, and also it has better mobile dps. It has a much more complex rotation than Frost, though, which is basically just spamming Howling Blast a lot (or Oblit if you’re 2H). If you can get used to managing your diseases on Frost it is the easier of the two specs, and also the better of the two DPS-wise on low-mobility fights. It tests much higher on dummies.
  • Anti-Magic Shell is often neglected but is your best friend. Make constant use of it: it not only saves your skin from high-damage spell moves (which are often predictable, like Swelling Pride on Sha) but it also converts what you absorb into runic power. Some fights have constant magic damage flying around (like Norushen) and if you use it whenever it’s up, it’s that much more power to you (and less burden on the healers).
  • Unholy Master Class
  • Obligatory ‘have fun’!

I should mention that Anti-Magic shell prevents the application of magical debuffs as well. This is key to cheesing so many mechanics. You can do things like cast it and then run through the tar on Iron Juggernaut without being slowed.