Question that this wall of text is going to answer:
- How long exactly is the DoT?
- Why does the performance vary so much between situations (e.g. different skills, hit & run scenarios etc.)?
- Can the sword crit and what about the DoT?
- Can you increase the damage of the DoT?
For everything I am going to explain it does not matter, if you use 1 or 2 Bloodletters (Guardian vs. BM) the damage simply gets added from both swords per swing. You never do more hits than with a single sword, neither with auto attack nor with any skills:
SoJ (Sword of Justice) for example always does 3 hits and when dual wielding the damage of both weapons gets added for each hit; the number of hits always stay the same. It has no effect on the DoT mechanic, because 2 Bloodletters simply lead to a twice as strong DoT. The duration isn’t affected by the amount of weapons used either.
How long is the duration of the DoT?
Judging by my findings, the duration switches between 2 exact numbers:
The intentional 2 seconds, which translate into 8 ticks (a tick occurs every 3 server ticks which is 15 frames in a 60 fps environment or every 250ms)
the unintentional 3.75 seconds, which translate into 15 ticks
Sometimes you only see 4 or 5 ticks, but that is due to lag and the server adding the damage of 2 ticks into one. Evidence comes from framecounting, because the ticks take way longer to show up instead of the usual 250ms interval. Also their damage is noticeably higher. This doesn’t mean the DoT applications stack on top of each other (see below).
Why does it switch between 2 amounts of ticks and what is the cause?
From a technically standpoint I can only make assumptions why the server/game does that, but the circumstances that lead to the specific numbers are pretty much figured out:
- A single slash like an auto attack, a slow chain of attacks or even a single usage of SoJ lead to the unintentional 15 ticks and therefore overperformance; However:
- When holding down the SoJ button for consecutive uses – once you stop there are 8 ticks from the moment your last hit procced the DoT (as intended). It seems too many hits within a short period of time lead to the intentional amount of ticks.
Why does the performance vary so much between situations (e.g. different skills, hit & run scenarios etc.)?
Bloodletter is a “very slow attack speed” weapon. A weapon like Hikida’s Lamentation is “very fast” which results in about 33% faster attack rate as long as you use a skill that scales with attack speed (see next point).
Autoattacks and most skills such as SoJ scale with attack speed, making Hikida’s Lamentation very popular, because similar to Bloodletter, it comes with very high base damage. However, Whirlwind always has the same duration and hitcount. Once pressed it is going to attack enemies around you every 22.5 frames or 375ms for a total of 8 times. This skill works particularly well in conjuncture with Bloodletter. It also procs the unintentional 15 tick DoT, which results in good “hit & run” performance, where you tag a mob once and run away (the DoT will kill it). Consecutively hitting enemies with Whirlwind means getting a hit and a one DoT tick (rinse and repeat) leading to average performance.
However, the DoT cannot stack and gets reapplied every time you hit an enemy, making consecutive hits fairly weak compared to hit & run scenarios. This fact already explains the most damage variance found between AoE scenarios (hit & run Whirlwind) and single target damage performance (e.g. SoJ). The DoT first appears 250ms after the initial hit, reducing the amount of ticks to usually 1 when using skills such as Whirlwind or SoJ consecutively against the same mob because the DoT gets getting reapplied.
The DoT can, in fact, not crit and neither is the damage calculated by a mean of your crit chance nor crit damage, they have no effect on the damage at all. This does not apply to the slash itself (working as expected). So for the initial slash, everything that would power up Hikida’s damage will also apply to Bloodletter. For the DoT: factors that will impact the damage are: Skilldamage (includes skills like SoA or Anchor), elemental damage on armor –weapon and mods, increased damage on armor – weapon and mods.
The DoT does more damage than intended. Judging by the sheer numbers in the weapon screen, the damage of the weapon is split into two part: 50% slash damage and a 2 second DoT that is supposed to deal the exact same damage as the slash within the course of 2 seconds. However, this means every tick should do 1/8 of the damage of the slash, because 2 seconds are 8 ticks (every 250ms). Judging by my findings the damage is closer to being 1/5 or 1/6 (1/8 is statistically unlikely). In order to find out the exact number, it either needs a very sophisticated test setup or hours upon hours of solid numbers to average out.
This all leads to the evidence found by players that spamming SoJ with Bloodletter results in significantly less damage than Hikidas. If you still do not understand why, check out this frame protocol:
Frame protocol (60fps): Using Bloodletter without any form of increased attack speed spamming SoJ:
Frame 1 is set to be the point of mana consumption
Frame 2-10: nothing
Frame 11: First hit of SoJ
Frame 12-22: nothing
Frame 23: Second hit of SoJ
Frame 24-37: nothing
Frame 38: Third hit of SoJ. This is technically the same frame the first DoT tick of slash 2 should occur and evidence points to the circumstance that they are added up in terms of damage. There is a small possibility that the DoT does not count and gets simply overridden. I tried to test this and without a big sample there is no possible statistical evidence to confirm it or deny it. If it’s true, it would be a 6-7% dmg increase compared to cases, where the DoT does not occur the same frame. However, increased attack speed that separates DoT and strike also increase your damage because they increase SoJ animation speed.
What does that mean? Evidence points to the case that no increased attack speed lead to a situation where the third strike of SoJ and a DoT tick are happening simultaneously, resulting in a slight damage increase, because you gain one dot tick per SoJ iteration (2 instead of 1 - SoJ slashes constantly delay DoT hits). By stacking attack speed (e.g. the 16% expertise) you would separate them and lose a DoT, resulting in only 9-10% dmg increase instead of the expected 16% (linear scaling). Further attack speed however would increase the damage in a linear fashion (true for all weapons using SoJ). So if you use Bloodletter with SoJ, make sure to at least have +10% attack speed or all you get is faster mana consumption.
Frame 38-51: nothing
Frame 52: DoT tick number 2 and mana consumption of the second iteration of SoJ. From now on, the process repeats itself and literally nothing changes. It starts with the first hit of SoJ 10 Frames later, which results in the DoT reapplying and therefore being delayed.
Spamming SoJ with Bloodletter means you get 3 hits of your weapon and 2 DoT tick per usage of SoJ (if chained) with no attack speed increase!, otherwise 3 hits and 1 DoT tick. The DoT cannot crit and does gets reapplied with every slash so the performance has a high variation across different situations.
A single use of SoJ triggers the unintentional 15 ticks DoT which leads to much better “damage per skill execution” performance. If you stop any SoJ chain, you just get the regular 8 ticks at the end.
The Implication of the findings are quite simple. Bloodletter looks good on paper, but what really breaks its neck is the non-stacking DoT. Blademasters have no reason to not go for a crit build in 1.5 making the non-crit DoT even worse. The only use this weapon has is hit & run scenarios, where mobs would die after the 15 ticks for both BM and Guardian (e.g. sweeping strike), otherwise Hikidas and the new 1.5 Masamune Nodachi appear to be the better choice.