WE DID IT FRIENDS!
If it wasn't obvious what that was about, and if you haven't been paying tooooo much attention to the changes on the beta, the level 100 talent tier got a massive update. Fortifying Mind was made baseline, affecting both Fortifying Brew as well as Black Ox Brew and was replaced with a super high-skillcap talent called Blackout Combo. So what this talent does is whenever you cast Blackout Strike, the next ability is empowered. The abilities it empowers are below:
- Tiger Palm - Increases its damage by 200%
- Breath of Fire: - Reduces the cooldown for your next Breath of Fire to 9 seconds (down from 15)
- Keg Smash - Now reduces the remaining cooldown on brews by 6 seconds (up from 4)
- Ironskin Brew - Pauses damage taken from Stagger for 3 seconds
- Purifying Brew - Provides a stack of Elusive Brawler (our mastery)
As well, the other two talents got some neat changes. Elusive Dance now gives a % damage buff equal to the original dodge buff when purifying (5% for purifying light stagger, 10% for medium stagger, 15% for heavy stagger), as well as increasing the amount of stagger purified to 65%, instead of 50%. High Tolerance was buffed to 10% increased baseline stagger, as well as giving you a 5-15% multiplicative haste buff depending on your current level of stagger (same rules as Elusive Dance), lasting as long as stagger does and innately changing its value depending on your stagger.
So at first glance, Blackout Combo looks like it's the best thing there. It's certainly the most flexible, providing both very solid damage and defense compared to either other option. But let's actually look into it a bit deeper.
Roughly speaking, Blackout Combo should provide more damage than Elusive Dance across all content, as you'll very likely be able to make use of some extra damage Tiger Palms while still using Blackout Strikes for Keg Smash and Breath of Fire for defensive purposes (factoring in Hot Blooded). More brew charges from Keg Smash also means more purifying. But there's a bit of a tricky bit with Blackout Combo versus High Tolerance.
To get right to some number crunching, we're going to assume that the base haste level you have is 25% (an energy regeneration of 12.5 per second). We're also assuming three ranks in Face Palm (30% chance for +1 additional CDR from Tiger Palm). We're then going to be comparing the number of charges gained across 10 minutes, with no level 45 talent, Light Brewing, and Black Ox Brew. Check the table below!
So as you can see here, if you are dealing with light stagger, you will get about 6 to 12 more charges across 10 minutes depending on talent choice. At 100% uptime of medium stagger, it's roughly even, with Black Ox Brew still maintaining a lead with Blackout Combo. At 100% uptime of heavy stagger, you're going to see about 2 to 6 additional brew charges with High Tolerance.
Of course, this isn't that black and white. For one thing, the value of 5-15% haste's value to damage is up in the air so while High Tolerance appears to be stronger for higher difficulty content, it might not be as flexible as Blackout Combo. For another, 100% uptime of any stagger level is going to be wishy washy at best. Another thing is that Blackout Combo, due to it empowering Keg Smash, will still provide more snap-CDR than High Tolerance, so if you need bursts of high CDR in a short window, Blackout Combo should still serve you well.
Another question is whether or not the additional uptime of Hot Blooded from Blackout Combo would beat out the 10% stagger damage smoothing. Let's take a quick look at that, as well. The rough idea here will be 3 ranks in Hot Blooded (for 6% damage reduction with the Breath of Fire DoT) and damage reduction with and without Ironskin Brew active.
So seeing here, as far as just smoothing is concerned, High Tolerance is still the champ. I actually took the liberty of doing a quick check to see what it would be like if High Tolerance was nerfed back down to 5%... It's actually more even at that point, but still off with a difference of 3.45% damage from the initial hit without ISB and 4.31% with.
This brings up a big question of what then is really better? I don't think anyone minds if Elusive Dance is a pick for players who don't need the extra damage smoothing and aren't skilled enough to get the damage output from Blackout Combo, but High Tolerance, a passive, seems to be fairly solidly outperforming Blackout Combo, a very active talent. I think there's a solid case to be made for Blackout Combo's high degree of flexibility in what it does, but signs seem to point to High Tolerance being a bit more consistent. Take that how you will. I'd personally love to see a bit of re-balancing go on between these two, but I dunno how I'd personally do it. Maybe a bit more CDR on the Keg Smash proc for Blackout Combo, or a passive benefit on top of it. Perhaps some slight nerfs to High Tolerance on top of that. It is an active talent, so it should have some strong power with it. The questions that come up from that though are how much power is too much, and is the extra effort needed for the talent worth the power it provides compared to other options?
Thanks for reading! As always, if you're interested in discussing this week's post, I'd love to have a chat over on Chiburst!
See you next time,
~The Brewing Scribe