You probably hear this all the time for various encounters, especially from DPS: “Bloodlust at the start of the fight, because everyone’s standing still and [some mechanic] isn’t happening yet, so you get the best DPS value out of it.” This post is slightly tricky because I want to talk about 1) a subtle fallacy here (that Bloodlust is inherently better at times when raid DPS is higher), while also noting that, 2) in the end, it often is correct to use it at the start of the encounter (because it will have the strongest intersection with everyone’s cooldowns and trinkets).
There are two reasons that (1) can be incorrect. First, it can be more important to get through a hard phase of the fight faster than to end the whole fight more quickly. This is important but I’m not going to get into it too much here. It’s generally well-recognized and, when Bloodlust isn’t used at the start, this is typically the reason. What’s more interesting and counterintuitive though is that using Bloodlust when the raid’s doing the most DPS isn’t even necessarily best for ending the fight quickly.
How is that possible? It’s (roughly speaking) a uniform %-based DPS increase. It’s most valuable when the underlying damage is the highest! (You might be saying).
Say you have a 2-phase encounter. Phase 1 goes until 50%. It does nothing–it’s a target dummy and the raid does its maximum DPS (our hypothetical encounter designer is very amenable to setting up weird examples for me). Phase 2 has lots of abilities that interfere with DPS, movement and the like. Say the raid does half of its maximum DPS here. The boss has 20 million HP and the raid’s maximum DPS is 100,000. And forget about potions and trinkets etc. for the moment (I’m keeping things very abstract and continuous for now, but will revisit some of these assumptions below).
- Without Bloodlust: P1 takes 100 seconds, and P2 (at half DPS) takes 200 seconds. Boss dies in 300 seconds.
- With Bloodlust in P1: the raid does 130,000 DPS for 40 seconds, doing 5.2 million damage. The remaining 4.8 million of P1 take 48 seconds. P2 still takes 200 seconds. Boss dies in 288 seconds.
- With Bloodlust in P2: at the start of P2, the raid does 65,000 DPS for 40 seconds, doing 2.6 million damage. The remaining 7.4 million damage of P2 takes 148 seconds. P1 still took 100 seconds. Boss dies in 288 seconds.
“Ok Hamlet,” you might say, “what kind of math voodoo is this? Bloodlust to add 15000 DPS for the 40s duration is equally effective as Bloodlust to add 30,000 DPS for the 40s duration?”
Well, think about it this way. Bloodlust adds 30% haste for 40 seconds. In this uniform, continuous model, Bloodlust lets you do 52 seconds of work in 40 seconds. So, yes, in all examples, it saved 12 seconds of encounter time, and you shouldn’t expect anything different. The only important caveat to this is that it works out because I hypothesized an encounter where the phases are %-based (this is, of course, very common). In a boss with time-based windows of different conditions, the result would be different.
In a moment I’ll get into some of the ways reality deviates from this basic model, but it still served an important purpose. It shows that one intuitive reason to use Bloodlust in P1–that it’s better while the raid is doing more DPS because encounter mechanics are leaving you alone–isn’t true.
So in a baseline abstract model, the two times to use Lust are “tied”. When would you use it in a real encounter that worked like I described? There are two important factors, that cut in opposite ways.
First, using it at the start is the easiest time to get it to overlap with all your trinkets and potions and cooldowns. It’s not the only time–you can set up a full burst with everything except for proc trinkets anytime you want–but it’s a natural and convenient one. This is real DPS value. The Bloodlust is worth more when multiplied into cooldowns, and if I’d factored in an opening raid DPS burst in the example above, P1 would have come out ahead.
However, the point of using Bloodlust is to improve damage, and the point of doing more damage (unless you have a tight Berserk, which is rare these days) is to shorten the parts of the fight which are most dangerous and most likely to cause wipes. In a fight that’s totally uniform, no phase changes or anything, that’s the same as optimizing for total damage. But in a fight that’s not, you really want to separate optimizing for best chances of success from optimizing for shortest encounter/highest DPS.
In the example, Bloodlusting in your opening DPS stack will, as I just said, end the fight a few seconds earlier. But P1 is trivial and has no chance of people dying (or similarly, of using excessive healer mana), and P2 is hard and might involve deaths. Ending P2 faster is better for avoiding risk of a wipe, that is, for probability of winning. Ending P1 faster is completely meaningless. You could go make a sandwich during it if you wanted to and your raid’s chance of success wouldn’t be hurt.
So the example is still exaggerated of course, but it’s still an example of a hypothetical encounter where a good raid leader will Bloodlust in phase 2, even though that’s worse on Warcraftlogs.
And the example is not even quite as farfetched as it sounds. The thought for this quick note came to me when I was thinking about a new encounter I saw this week, Hans’gar and Franzok (Heroic–I don’t know if Mythic mechanic will change this). The first phase goes to 85% and has pretty close to nothing going on. Two bosses stand there next to each other, there’s nothing to dodge, and you can plow into them full-throttle. A Bloodlust there feels pretty satisfying for DPS. And the final phase, with the stamping presses and moving conveyors, and the bosses apart more because Hans is Body Slamming more times, feels terrible. It’s pretty much just like the P2 in my example. And for the same reasons, I don’t see why you wouldn’t Lust there.
So the point is twofold. Lust has more value than simply shortening the total fight length (rankings notwithstanding). And second, that even to shorten fight length, there’s often no inherent advantage (surprisingly) in using it for a high-DPS phase. Real encounters are more nuanced than the example, but I hope this all helps to analyze the tradeoff.
- I presented a scenario that might be counterintuitive, because it’s interesting and really happens at times. There are a lot of cases where things will still work just as they seem. For example, at Mythic Twin Ogron, despite being a fight with a lot of internal variation and dangerous parts at the end, you probably want to lust at the start (and cleave into two bosses while standing still, just like I said you don’t want to do at Hans and Franz). The main difference is that Twins doesn’t have any %-based triggers.
- I should mention that Bloodlust can also be a powerful healing cooldown. There are a few reasons this tends to wind up being the less important factor in using it (haste’s value for healers having some limitations is a big one). However, you can look for nice alignments where Bloodlust during a hard phase both ends it faster and lets healers handle it more easily.
- Similar logic to this post also applies to Execute-type mechanics. Alignment with Bloodlust doesn’t in and of itself increase their effectiveness (the added damage you can do if you lust with them up is canceled out by the added time it takes to get to them). The basic theme is here is things that depend on a boss’s % health not interacting with Bloodlust very much.