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I'm having a hard time figuring this one out. The top three standouts seem to be:

Cluster Arrow with Grenadier passive, Impale with Sharpshooter passive, and Rapid Fire with Ballistic passive, but my mathcraft skills might be insufficient for determining the answer.

My fear with Impale/Sharpshooter is that for longer fights, the Crit chance dropping itself off from the Sharpshooter triggering and having to start over will lead to lower overall DPS but I don't have the formula to prove this.

With Cluster arrow, the main problem seems to be that with 50 hatred cost per tick, and average boss length fight will have you running on empty constantly.

That leaves Rapic Fire/Ballistic, but that answer has way too much gut instinct for me - does anyone know the numbers?

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A lot of this is situational. I mean, if you have time to prep (say, before a boss fight when you know where the mob will spawn), you can drop 6 Spike Traps on the spot and do somewhere around 1650% Weapon Damage. –  LessPop_MoreFizz May 26 '12 at 23:22
    
Very true, but unfortunately prepping for "real" bosses, i.e. Blue's and Gold's is usually not possible... –  Palantar May 27 '12 at 0:57
    
Sure it is. Just depends on your willingness to kite! –  LessPop_MoreFizz May 27 '12 at 1:52
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2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Depends on the boss.

If the boss is big,

than use Elemental Arrow with Nether Tentacles - damage will 'tick' twice, due to the size of the target which gives 2x155% = 310% damage. Also if you have 'fear on hit' abilities, or the boss is running away it is also possible to 'tick' twice.

If the boss is small

than Hungering Arrow with Devouring Arrow rune is the best. 115% + ( 0.35 x 185% ) + ( 0.12 x 255% ) which gives ~210% damage that does not use hatred - which will increase overall DPS (you don't have to stop attacking). As an added benefit crits from pierced arrows will be huge - which looks nice ;) The above calculation assumes that arrow can't pierce more than twice, because I'm lazy.

I assumed you mean DPS as in damage per second, and not biggest single hit ability.


Elemental Arrow vs...

  • Impale and other costly skills - you can't spam them. Your DPS will suffer badly.
  • Rapid Fire - you can't move whilst using it (Elemental Arrow allows for a 1 shot-1 step combo which doesn't seem to slow attack speed). Oh! and you will not die due to standing still, which also kills DPS :P

Rapid Fire is better if

you have a godly tank and the boss is small and does not have mortar :P In that case I would recommend Web Shot rune (slow) with Cull the Weak passive (+15% damage to slowed enemies).

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OMG, I had no idea that Hungering Arrow re-proc'd on a single target. You just changed my life! –  Palantar Jun 20 '12 at 11:46
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Unfortunatly with the 1.03 changes the Nether Tentacles answer got nerfed, but that still leaves the impressive Hungering Arrow trick. –  Palantar Jun 20 '12 at 11:47
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With the 1.0.3 patch, Nether Tentacles will now only hit an enemy once. –  user28140 Jun 25 '12 at 17:53
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So after multiple run throughs on inferno, I was just about ready to reply to this post with the answer that Impale/Sharpshooter seemed to be the best when it suddenly hit me - this answer is actually entirely dependent on weapon speed and hence balances proc effects!

This is actually quite clever by Blizzard and I'm pretty impressed that they worked it in so well.

DPS seems to be quite well balanced across the various weapon speeds. I have seen 1200 DPS weapons all the way from 2 handed crossbows firing once per second down to little one handers firing over 1.6 times per second. The proc effects however don't seem to scale - with life on hit for example, the maximum I have seen for life on hit is a bit over 900 for both the super slow weapons and the super fast. This would seem to be imba for the fast weapons until you realize that going a super fast (but lower damage and same DPS) weapon nerfs the heck out of your hatred skills.

Cluster Arrow is 50 hatred cots per tick, and Impale is 25. That means you get 2, maybe 3 shots of Cluster Arrow before having to regen your hatred and 4-6 shots of Impale. Since those skills are based on absolute damage and not DPS, they will be far more effective with the lower speed weapons.

So there you have it. The highest DPS seems to be Impale as long as you are using a 2H Crossbow, by design, but going that route will nerf your ability to proc which would require much faster weapons.

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While you're dead on about the fundamental tensions involving weapon speed and resource expenditure, I don't think you're right about Impale specifically - there are simply too many factors and too many different modifiers to reliably say any one skill does the most damage. For instance, against mobs with large models, because of the way damage is distributed, Nether Tentacles does an absurd amount of damage - it ticks several times as it travels past them for 155% Weapon Damage - at two ticks, you're already outpacing Impale, and for less than half the Hatred cost. –  LessPop_MoreFizz May 30 '12 at 12:04
    
Oh wow, fascinating. As you can see from my question that's an angle I hadn't even considered - very helpful! –  Palantar May 30 '12 at 13:48
    
Right, my point is that it's not a useful question for exactly that reason. There are simply too many factors. –  LessPop_MoreFizz May 30 '12 at 13:58
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