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World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King

Death Knight Unholy / Blood DPS Pre-Raiding Gear Guide

Written by Jim Freedan
Copyright Jim Freedan 2009


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Version History
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Version 1.
December, 30th 2008

- Guide created: 
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Table of Contents                                                 Search String
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1. About this Guide  .................................................... [001]
2. Weapons .............................................................. [002]
3. Head  ................................................................ [003]
4. Neck  ................................................................ [004]
5. Bracer  .............................................................. [005]
6. Shoulders ............. .............................................. [006]
7. Cloak ................................................................ [007]
8. Belt ..................................................................[008]
9. Feet ..................................................................[009]
10. Hands ................................................................[010]
11. Chest ................................................................[011]
12. Legs .................................................................[012]
13. Rings ................................................................[013]
14. Enchants .............................................................[014]
15. Gems .................................................................[015]
16. Sigils ...............................................................[016]
17. Professions ..........................................................[017]

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1. About this Guide  .................................................... [001]
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This is a list of gear for 2hander Death Knights in a DPS role who want to 
prepare for raiding. I Originally posted this guide to the official WoW forums
using my own Death Knight character, Morglaif, but it was never sticky'ed so 
I am putting it on GameFAQs so more people can see it.

I am not going to go into discussion about what stats are optimal for Death 
Knights; other guides on the internet exist about this topic already.

I have compiled this gear list because other lists I have seen include items
that I do not believe are very good for Death Knights who want to gear for 
raiding (ie Runeblade of Demonstratable Power, Icier Barbed Spear) or skip 
a few quest rewards that are very good. I created this list for myself but 
thought I would share it with others.

To be practical, I have included several possible items for each slot that 
will all be adequate for raiding, but not all of these items are equal to one
another. To make things easy to understand and ensure people know “which item 
is better”, I will rank items by number; the lower the number, the more 
desirable the item is (ie #1 is the best, #2 is second best, and so forth).

Unlike some lists, I will not include any Naxx or Arena items. All items will
be things you can obtain within a week of hitting 80 and without needing to 
step into a raid or Arena. I will also not include Mail or Leather items, 
as these really are inferior to Plate items for us (due to the lack of STR 
and Armor, both of which are stats that gives us more AP than whatever you’re
going to find on items itemized for Rogues, Druids and Hunters). 

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2. Weapons .............................................................. [002]
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#1: Titansteel Destroyer (Crafted- Blacksmithing, Bind on Equip)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=41257

Thoughts: This is the best 2hander you are going to find outside Naxx. 
Amazingly, it is even better than a Naxx drop (Demise). If you can afford 
to buy or create one, go for it.

#2: Colossal Skull-Clad Cleaver (Heroic Halls of Lightning- Loken)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=37852

Thoughts: This is a very nice 2hander offering quite a’bit of damage and
crit (from AGI). However, you will be hard pressed to find a party capable
of taking down Loken due to the skill required of all party members. I would 
advise you not to “aim” for this drop, but if you happen to encounter it and
don’t have a Titansteel Destroyer, go for it!

#2: Dreadlord's Blade (Normal Culling of Stratholm- Dark Runed Chest)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=37108

Thoughts: This has more STR than the Sword of Justice can obtain and 68 
hit rating, which makes it very desirable.

#3: Sword of Justice (Normal Halls of Stone – Tribunal Chest)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=37653

Thoughts: This sword has a red gem slot, so you can slot it with a +16 STR
gem, which (along with the Crit) makes it superior to the Argent Skeleton 
Crusher.

#4: Argent Skeleton Crusher – (Argent Crusade Rep Reward at Revered)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=44244

Thoughts: This is the best reputation reward for Death Knights because of 
the STR (which Runeblade of Demonstrable Power lacks). Armor penetration is 
more helpful to Blood than Unholy, but it is still a solid DPS weapon if you
don’t have anything else on this list and it is pretty easy to get the 
Reputation. 

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3. Head  ................................................................ [003]
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#1: Spiked Titansteel Helm (Crafted; Blacksmithing, Bind on Equip)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=41386

Thoughts: This helm has a lot of STR, AGI, Hit and a Meta slot, enabling
you to socket it with Chaotic Skyflare Diamond (+21 Critical Strike Rating 
and 3% Increased Critical Damage; http://www.wowhead.com/?item=41285) It is 
also pretty easy to obtain because it is a crafted Bind on Equip.

#2: Charged Titanium Specs (Crafted- Engineering 400)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=42552

Thoughts: This is actually an epic, but it has a level 72 requirement, so 
if you are an Engineer you might actually own this helm before you become 
level 80. This helm possesses a meta socket and a yellow socket, so it is
pretty nice.

#3: Chitin Shell Great helm (Heroic Azjol-Nerub–Anub’arak)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=37237

Thoughts: This is a really nice helm because it has a meta socket, a yellow 
socket, and 60 critical strike rating. It also looks like the Death Knight 
starter set helm, which makes it pretty cool. Unfortunately, it drops off a
boss who is difficult to kill because his high damage single target attack 
is currently bugged and capable of causing a swift party wipe. You will have
a hard time convincing people to run this instance.

#4: Fang-Deflecting Faceguard (Argent Crusade Rep Reward at Revered)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=44247

Thoughts: This is the best helm Reputation reward available. Blood will get
more benefit out of the Armor penetration than Unholy does, but it is still a
solid upgrade if you have nothing else.

#5: Faceguard of Punishment (Quest Reward in Utgarde Pinnacle)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=44412

Thoughts: This has a nice chunk of Hit on it, so if you are needing to get 
Hit capped this is pretty good to start with. 


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4. Neck  ................................................................ [004]
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#1: Gold Amulet of Kings (Heroic Utgarde Pinnacle- King Ymiron)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=37397

Thoughts: This is the only STR neck outside of raids. Ideally you want to 
have this, as 47 Str is 94 AP (unbuffed) and 43 Critical strike rating is a 
nice benefit.

#2: Titanium Impact Choker (Crafted; Jewelcrafting. Bind on Equip)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=42645

Thoughts: 84 AP is good, and it has a red socket so you can pop a +16 STR 
gem into it.

#2: Pendant of the Outcast Hero (purchase with badges in Dalaran)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=40678

Thoughts: This is a good DPS necklace, but the lack of STR really makes it 
less appealing for Death Knights.

#2: Necklace of Arcane Spheres (Heroic Violet Citadel- Xevozz)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=37861

Thoughts: This is a solid DPS necklace but it lacks STR.


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5. Bracer  .............................................................. [005]
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#1: Vengeance Bindings (Crafted- Blacksmithing, Bind on Equip)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=41355

Thoughts: These are probably what you will be using at level 80 in order to 
get Hit capped. If you are already hit capped, look at the Golden Limb Bands 
below.

#2: Golden Limb Bands (Heroic Azjol-Nerub – Krik’thir the Gatewatcher)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=37217

Thoughts: 42 Critical strike rating is pretty good, but they have 9 less STR 
than Vengeance Bindings and lack the Hit. If you are well above the Hit Cap I 
would take these over Vengeance Bindings.

#3: Cast Iron Shackles (Bind on Equip, drops in Violet Hold or obtained from 
Rusted Prisoner Footlockers in Dalaran) 
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=37891

Thoughts: 29 hit rating and 43 STR. If you need the hit, these are a solid 
upgrade.

#4: Bands of the Stoneforge (Heroic Halls of Stone-Sjonnir The Ironshaper)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=37668

Thoughts: These are epics, but I rate them so low because they have haste
rating, which isn’t a particularly useful stat compared to the Hit and Crit 
contained on the other pieces. 50 STR is still pretty solid AP, but I 
wouldn’t go out trying to obtain these when Vengeance Bindings are so much 
easier to get, and better.

#5: Vambraces of the Vengeance Bringer (Quest Reward – Utgarde Keep)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=39680

Thoughts: This is a really, really easy to obtain piece you probably got as
soon as you entered Northrend. 

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6. Shoulders ............. .............................................. [006]
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#1: Spaulders of the Giant Lords (Sons of Homir Reputation reward at Revered)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=44195

Thoughts: Let me tell you upfront, you will have a difficult time finding 
really amazing DPS plate shoulders outside of a raid. Sons of Homir 
reputation is a slow grind, but this will be the best choice for you until 
you do get a raid drop. (However, as the rep grind is so slow, you might 
actually obtain a raid drop before you get Revered with them).

#2: Mantle of Volkan (Quest reward from Sons of Homir)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=43198

Thoughts: In order to get these, you must go through a long quest chain.

Fortunately, you will have to do the quest chain anyway to unlock Sons of 
Homir, so you’ll probably pick these up whether you want them or not.

Unfortunately, the quest to obtain these is at the very end of the long 
chain, and by that point you may not need the Hit.

#3: Gold Star Spaulders (The Oracles Reputation reward at Revered)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=44111

Thoughts: If you fully understood that you could swap your Reputation levels 
with Frenzyheart and the Oracles by doing a simple quest, these will probably 
be the shoulders you have at level 80.

However, if you are kind of a dork like me and decided to help out an injured 
Oracle without realizing this act of kindness toward the big tongues would 
make you unable to transfer the reputation you had built with the 
Frenzyhearts to the Oracles, just screw these shoulders and aim for the 
Sons of Homir ones (lol!)

#4: Savage Saronite Pauldrons (Crafted- Blacksmithing, Bind on Equip)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=41351

Thoughts: I hate to recommend welfare PVP plate for raiding, but these 
really are a solid piece of gear for PvE due to the 52 STR and 43 Crit. If 
you find yourself hit capped, these can be better than the Mantle of Volkan 
due to the Crit. 

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7. Cloak ................................................................ [007]
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#1: Cloak of Bloodied Waters (Bind on Equip, Drops in Gundrak Heroic)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=37647

Thoughts: This is the best cloak in the game for DPS Death Knights. 
Do not allow the fact it is a blue to confuse you. 68 STR = 136 attack power 
for a DK, which is more AP than any other DPS cloak in the game will give us. 
With Rune of the Fallen Crusader and Blessing of Kings that both boost STR 
(and thus, the final AP we receive from our STR), it should be obvious this 
is the best DPS cloak we can get right now.

Absolutely DO NOT waste 2,000 gold on a Ice Striker’s Cloak. Cloak of 
Bloodied Waters commonly sells for 200g and is vastly superior. 

#2: Durable Nerubhide Cape (Crafted- Leatherworking 430, Bind on Equip)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=43565

Thoughts: At first glance you’d think this would be terrible for DPS, but 
you’d be mistaken. This is more of a tanking cape but this is one of the 
few capes with expertise and STR, which are both useful for DPS. The AP 
value we get from the STR is 82 (before buffs).

#3: Illskar’s Greatcloak (Quest reward in Icecrown)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=43924

Thoughts: Yes, this is a green, but this might be what you start with at 
level 80 if you did any questing in Icecrown. This does have 20 Strength 
(40 AP before buffs) and a yellow socket, so you could choose to socket 
more Crit or do what I’d do-- slam a +16 STR gem in there for an end result 
of 36 STR (72 AP before buffs).

#4: Cloak of the Gushing Wound (Heroic Violet Hold- Erekem)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=43406

Thoughts: Not a single piece of STR on this one, and the attack power is 56. 
However, it has 29 hit so if it drops and you feel you need just a wee bit of 
Hit, you might want to roll on it if no Hunter or Rogue is in the party.

#5: Cloak of Holy Extermination (Argent Crusade Rep Reward at Honored)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=44216

Thoughts: This is the best Reputation reward for DPS. Unfortunately, it is not
terribly good so unless you don’t want to do a very easy quest in Icecrown 
for the Illskar’s Greatcloak, I wouldn’t bother. 

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8. Belt ..................................................................[008]
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#1: Flame-Bathed Steel Girdle (Heroic Nexus- Keristrasza)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=37171

Thoughts: This is an excellent belt that is actually on par with Naxx gear 
when you consider you can add an Eternal Belt buckle to obtain two gem slots, 
then put two +16 STR gems into it for a total of 98 STR.

This belt is also really easy to obtain given it drops in Nexus.

#2: The General’s Steel Girdle (Heroic Halls of Lightning- General Bjarngrim)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=37826

Thoughts: This is a pretty good belt, although it is inside Heroic Halls of 
Lightning, which is considered more difficult to find a group for than Nexus, 
which offers a vastly superior belt.

#3: Spiked Metal Cilice (Normal Culling of Stratholme – Salramm the 
Fleshcrafter)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=37088

Thoughts: This is a pretty solid DPS belt, offering 51 STR, 37 AGI and 51 
Hit rating. 


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9. Feet ..................................................................[009]
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#1: Death-Inured Sabatons (Knights of the Ebon Blade Reward at Exalted)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=44306

Thoughts: This is the best reputation reward available for DPS Death Knights, 
as well as the best DPS boots you will find outside a raid. Two gem slots and 
66 Critical Strike rating. These will last you quite a long time and should 
be one of the first reputation rewards you grind for.

#2: Rift Striders (Heroic Nexus – Anomalus)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=37150

Thoughts: These are an excellent pair of boots with a red gem slot, 50 STR 
and 50 Crit. In my experience they also drop quite often and because Nexus is 
one of the easiest Heroics, these are quite obtainable. This is a very solid 
piece of gear that will last you until you (inevitably) obtain Death-Inured 
Sabatons.

#3: Berserker Sabatons (Bind on Equip, drops in Utgarde Pinnacle Heroic)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=37068

Thoughts: These are nice boots that have Hit, but less AP potential than 
Rift Striders. If you feel yourself needing Hit, you might want these.

#4: Spiked Titansteel Treads (Crafted- Blacksmithing)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=41391

Thoughts: These are epic boots, but not terribly good compared to Rift 
Striders. You’ll get a little more AP than Rift Striders but won’t have as 
much Crit. These are also rather expensive to purchase or create.

#5: The Obliterator Greaves (Heroic Violet Hold- Zuramat the Obliterator)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=43402

Thoughts: Haste and Armor penetration is not terribly good for Death knights, 
but you can slot this with a +16 STR gem and obtain slightly more AP than the 
Rift Striders will offer.

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10. Hands ................................................................[010]
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#1: Heroes Scourgeborne Gauntlets (Purchase with Badges of Heroism in Dalaran)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=39618

Thoughts: I really consider these the best glove investment you could make 
since if you raid and the T7 shoulders drop, you will have 2 pieces of the 
set and obtain the 5% Critical Strike increase for Scourge Strike and 
Obliterate, which are the DPS staples for Unholy and Blood. These also have 
46 Critical strike rating and a socket.

#2 Gauntlets of Dragon Wrath (Heroic Oculus- Cache of Eregos)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=37363 

Thoughts: These are pretty solid DPS gloves with 38 hit and 67 STR. 
However, they lack slots.

#3: Gauntlets of The Culling (Quest reward- Culling of Stratholme)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=44399

Thoughts: These are pretty solid gloves due to the 50 hit rating and 52 STR. 
You may start level 80 with these. 

===============================================================================
11. Chest ................................................................[011]
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#1: Bonegrinder Breastplate (Heroic Old Kingdom- Prince Taldaram)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=37612

Thoughts: This is the best DPS chest piece you are going to find outside of 
a raid. It is actually better than the T7 DPS chest because of the additional 
Crit rating. It has 2 sockets a red and a blue. There is also a +6 Critical 
strike rating socket bonus that is worthy of mention.

#2: Engraved Chestplate of Eck (Heroic Gundrak- Eck the Ferocious)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=43310

Thoughts: If you find yourself needing more Hit, this is a good chest to 
have. It also has 2 sockets.

#3: Heroes’ Scourgeborne Battleplate (Purchased with Badges in Dalaran)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=39617

Thoughts: Meh. Haste is not a really desirable stat when you think about how 
the two pieces above this have more Hit and Crit, which are more valuable. 
Still, if you find yourself full of badges, nothing else to buy, and just 
can’t get one of those two chest pieces to drop, you might want to buy this 
anyway.

#4: Breastplate of Undeath (Heroic Drak’Tharon Keep- Novos the Summoner)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=37722

Thoughts: Not a bad chestpiece. It lacks gem sockets but it boasts 80 STR 
and 112 Agility, which is nothing to mock.

#5: Whalebone Carapace (The Kalu’ak Reputation Reward at Honored)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=44058

Thoughts: You probably are going to start level 80 with this, as most every 
DPS DK buys this while leveling up. If not, it is pretty easy to get.

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12. Legs .................................................................[012]
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#1: Staggering Legplates (Heroic Utgarde Keep – Ingvar the Plunderer)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=37193

Thoughts: These are the best DPS pants you’re going to find, and since they 
drop in Heroic Utgarde Keep (the easiest Heroic), you should probably come 
across them within your first few days of being 80.

It is worth mentioning that these add 80 Hit rating, and will probably make 
up the bulk of your Hit.

#2: Legplates of the Occulus Guardian (Heroic Oculus- Varos Cloudstrider)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=37263

Thoughts: These are pretty solid DPS pants. However, the Oculus is a lot 
harder than Utgarde Keep, so you probably won’t come across these before you 
obtain Staggering Legplates.

#3: Savage Saronite Legplates (Crafted: Blacksmithing, Bind on Equip )
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=41347

Thoughts: These are intended for PVP, but they’ll do if you have nothing 
else.


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13. Rings ................................................................[013]
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#1: Ring of the Kirin Tor (Vendor in Dalaran)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=44935

Thoughts: This has 50 STR (100 AP, unbuffed), 34 Critical strike rating and 
31 expertise rating. It’s not in the game until patch 3.0.8, but it is 
definitely one of the best rings for us. Unfortunately, it is going to cost 
7,600gold to buy ><

#2: Band of Frosted Thorns (Heroic Nexus- Ormorok the Tree-Shaper)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=37151

Thoughts: This is one of the few Heroic DPS rings that have STR on it—and 
at 45 STR (90 AP, before buffs), this has a nice chunk.

#3: Hemorrhaging Circle (Heroic Gundrak- Gal’darah)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=37642

Thoughts: This has no STR, but it has 100 AP and 33 Expertise.

#3: Signet of Bridenbrad (Quest reward in Icecrown)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=44039

Thoughts: Ignore the Yellow Socket. Stick a +16 STR gem in there and you’ve 
got yourself a really solid DPS ring at level 80.

#4: Mobius Band (Heroic Culling of Stratholme- Chrono-Lord Epoch)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=37685

Thoughts: This has no STR but it has 25 Hit rating and 86 attack power. 
If you need more Hit, and don’t have a better ring, it’ll do. 

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14. Enchants .............................................................[014]
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Gloves: Major Strength or Greater Blasting

Bracers: Greater Assault

Boots: Icewalker

Chest: Powerful Stats

Cloak: Major Agility

Legs: Icescale Leg Armor

Belt: Eternal Belt Buckle

Head: Arcanum of Torment (Knights of the Ebon Blade- Revered) 

Shoulder: Lesser Inscription of the Axe (Sons of Hodir - Honored) or 
Greater Inscription of the Axe (Sons of Hodir- Exalted) 

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15. Gems .................................................................[015]
===============================================================================

Red: Bold Scarlet Ruby (+16 STR)

Yellow: Rigid Autumn’s Glow (+16 HIT)

Yellow: Smooth Autumn’s Glow (+16 Critical Strike Rating)

Purple: (matches red or blue sockets): Guardian’s Twilight Opal 
(+8 Expertise and +12 Stamina)

Purple (matches red or blue sockets): Sovereign Twilight Opal) 
(+8 Strength and +12 Stamina)

Orange: (matches red or yellow sockets): Inscribed Monarch Topaz 
(+8 Strength and +8 Critical Strike Rating)

Orange: (matches red or yellow sockets): Etched Monarch Topaz 
(+8 Strength and +8 Hit Rating)

Green (matches a yellow or blue socket): Jagged Forest Emerald: 
(+8 Critical Strike rating and +12 Stamina)

Meta: Chaotic Skyflare Diamond (+21 Critical Strike Rating and 3% Increased 
Critical Damage; requires 2 blue gems)

(Some of these gems are not currently in the game yet. In the meantime, I 
suggest slotting the +7 Strength multi-gems instead of the +32 attack power 
multi gems, as stacking STR will ultimately improve your attack power more 
than a flat AP bonus will after talents and buffs are factored in) 

===============================================================================
16. Sigils ...............................................................[016]
===============================================================================

What is best for you will depend on your spec.

Sigil of Haunted Dreams: (purchased with Badges of Heroism in Dalaran)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=40715

Thoughts: This sigil gives your Blood Strike and Heart Strikes a chance to 
grant 173 critical strike rating for 10 sec. This is best for Blood spec in 
my opinion.

Sigil of Arthritic Binding (purchased at Venture Bay with Venture coins)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=40875

Thoughts: Increases the damage dealt by your Scourge Strike ability by 203, 
making it a clear choice for Unholy specs.

Sigil of the Frozen Conscience (purchased at Venture Bay with Venture coins)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=40822

Thoughts: Increases the damage dealt by your Icy Touch ability by 203. This 
is more desirable for DW specs and the odd 2h Frost spec.

Sigil of the Wild Buck (purchased at Venture Bay with Venture coins)
http://www.wowhead.com/?item=40822

Thoughts: I really dont think this is a very good Sigil compared to the 
others available. This increases the damage dealt by your Death Coil ability 
by 80, and while DC is a good runic dump, it just doesn't really compare to 
the others in my opinion. Still someone might find an unusual use for it. 

===============================================================================
17. Professions ..........................................................[017]
===============================================================================

I want to write some information about Death Knight professions here because 
I feel the subject has not been discussed adequately to answer the most 
common question:

"What professions are best for Death Knight DPS?"

I highly recommend all Death Knights choose Blacksmithing for itemization 
purposes. The ability to socket your gloves and bracers and add +32 Strength 
(64 AP unbuffed) is worth the long mining grind. I once read a post that 
compared the different AP values of different profession-only benefits, but 
Blacksmithing is one of two Professions that allows you to add more STR to 
your gear than other professions can. Because we can boost our Strength with 
talents, Blessing of Kings and Rune of the Fallen Crusader, we always want to 
go for STR instead of AP. Blacksmithing is therefore the most clear choice.

Additionally, depending on your server's population you may have a difficult 
time finding people willing to make you the Blacksmith created items, 
especially the ones that cost Titansteel. Being able to smelt your own 
Titansteel and make your own gear is an invaluable asset.

Skinning for the +25 Critical Strike rating may seem desirable as a 2nd 
profession, but it will be very expensive to raise Blacksmithing without 
Mining. If you have another character who can mine for you, this won't be 
such an issue.

If you really want to min/max and money is no object, Jewelcrafting is the 
best 2nd profession and matches Blacksmithing socket bonus perfectly. You can 
put three Bold Dragon's Eye gems (+27 Strength) into the prismatic sockets 
you attach to your belt, bracer and glove, giving you +81 Strength (162 AP, 
unbuffed).