Banishing Eldritch Blast

clearstream

(He, Him)
Of course you certainly looked at vulnerabilities too right? How many have regen that is stopped by force vs fire, acid, silver, etc?
Yes. As I noted, radiant damage gets a buff from the occasional creature that is vulnerable to it. That said, they're frankly rare.

But you get no argument from me that the choices in adversaries and types of challenges the GM makes will have drastic impact on balances. IMO it's the #1 by a mile factor in actual play at the table balance and imbalance.

That's why I pay so little to and credit almost no relevance to white room spreadsheet dpr rants.
There's certainly no substitute for play iterations in getting a deep understanding of a game system. There is a correlation between game quality, and the time and effort put into playtesting. Where analysis helps is to cast light into vast game system spaces, that are often impossible to search through play. Analysis can drive intuitions, and sustain or rebut them. So just as much as there is no substitute for information collected from play, there is no substitute for statistical analysis. It's one of the pillars of good game design.
 

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5ekyu

Hero
Yes. As I noted, radiant damage gets a buff from the occasional creature that is vulnerable to it. That said, they're frankly rare.


There's certainly no substitute for play iterations in getting a deep understanding of a game system. There is a correlation between game quality, and the time and effort put into playtesting. Where analysis helps is to cast light into vast game system spaces, that are often impossible to search through play. Analysis can drive intuitions, and sustain or rebut them. So just as much as there is no substitute for information collected from play, there is no substitute for statistical analysis. It's one of the pillars of good game design.
Analysis is only as rekevant as its assumptions are close to actual gaming and the analysis that goes into good game design and what pretends to be analysis in the white room excel sheet rants are very different things.

That said, folks need hobbies so, its all good.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
Analysis is only as rekevant as its assumptions are close to actual gaming...
Yes, it's important to put forward plausible assumptions. As you say, there are often disparities between what is happening in play and what is being assumed in the analysis. Additionally, play varies widely group-to-group and some dissonance happens just because one group's experiences don't chime with another. Each group is playing the game and having fun in a way that makes sense to them, but features that are simply dominating in one group, might hardly raise a stir in the other. Perhaps the person playing them doesn't push them that hard, or perhaps the situations they meet are more easily resolved with other features.

It might seem like understanding must start from experience in play and flow out to analysis. It's easy to demonstrate the contrary case however: through analysis, players can locate system sweet spots and shape characters to use them, and flow that out into play. It's a back-and-forth process. I don't think analysis can stand without play, but understanding what is likely to be seen in play is manifestly aided by analysis.
 

ClaytonCross

Kinder reader Inflection wanted
2 things.

1) Eldritch blast is a ranged cantrip. Casting it while an enemy is within 5' means it is made at disadvantage even if aiming at an enemy that is not within 5'. So a warlock will always want a melee cantrip in their pocket (shocking grasp, green-flame blade with shillelagh <a popular combination for tomelocks>, ect).

2) If a warlock already has eldritch blast + a melee backup cantrip, why would they not choose strictly utility cantrips with their remaining slots? Message, mage hand, minor illusion... all useful.

I personally don't think eldritch blast needs to be nerfed or banned. It is one of the unique aspects of the warlock and is often one of the things that makes the class fun. If your player is not using their other offensive cantrips, perhaps it makes more sense to allow them to trade them out for defensive or utility cantrips instead.

If on the other hand the player is feeling bored because he's spamming eldritch blast, perhaps that is not a problem with the player but rather an indication to switch up the encounters to force the player to be in close quarters or otherwise change the challenges up. Or put in enemies that are vulnerable to damage types available to the party to allow for strategy, or incorporate how the secondary effects of the other cantrips available to the group might make it easier to deal with an enemy. As examples, trolls don't regenerate after getting hit by chill touch, and ray of frost is great when chasing an enemy. As a DM it is important to pay attention to what resources the players have at their disposal and create encounters that those resources could be useful.

This is an awesome reply. Most of what I wanted to say. I would add one more thing which is in agreement with everything else here.

"Eldritch Blast is really the best damage dealing cantrip" only with Agonizing Blast invocation and Hex against a single low AC enemy at range.

The Pact of the Tome Warlock could take Sacred Flame or Lightning Lure and stand right next to an enemy (in 5ft), using concentration for Hold Person/Monster vs a Wisdom save and have a 100% hit AND CRIT rate.... which will make the damage of Eldritch Blast look bad not to mention the rest of the party jumping in on that.

Toll the Dead is far more effective and reliable vs high AC enemies in 5ft, attacking prone enemies (Hold him down Tank, I got your back), attacking enemies from prone (take that you stupid archers!!), enemies with cover (Ya hide from this!), or general close combat losing concentration is strong possibility or you need concentration for something else like "Protection from Good and evil", "Earth Bind" or Fighting in Flight using the "Fly" spell. In Fact, Wisdom saves are generally so much easier vs high AC dumb brutes that unless your fighting Clerics, Druids, or a scout of some type with higher wisdom its generally a more reliable option.

Chill touch for stopping enemy health regeneration that is faster than your damage.


So... The OPs dislike of "Eldritch Blast + Agonizing Blast + Hex" is pretty much based on an incorrect over valuing of Hex which is good but not nearly as powerful as stated because when it's best is vs a single target with lots of HP to hit with as many Hex triggers as you can... your usually fighting a boss with High AC which then levels it back out. Occasionally you get a low 13AC giant but they also have a -1 wisdom save... An adult Black dragon has high 19AC and +1 Wisdom modifier so your more likely to hit with Toll the dead and burn those Legendary Resistances to open up more fun toys!!
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
This is an awesome reply. Most of what I wanted to say. I would add one more thing which is in agreement with everything else here.
My thread title for obvious reasons lead initial posters to believe I was targeting a nerf. My goal is to broaden viable strategies.

"Eldritch Blast is really the best damage dealing cantrip" only with Agonizing Blast invocation and Hex against a single low AC enemy at range.
In play the 120' range is almost always sufficient to give 100% up-time. It's true Agonizing Blast is essential: it's an example of narrowing viable strategies by making one strategy over-shadow. We've discussed a few ways that it can be improved. One is to make it a class feature rather than an invocation (if something is so good you have to take it, you might as well have it as an auto-pick... and one could argue that not doing that sets up a trap for new players). Another is to make it apply to other damage-dealing cantrips. I've tried that in some dummy runs, and experientially it did make me feel a lot more like casting things such as Frostbite, Ray of Frost, even Toll the Dead.

A single low AC enemy? Warlock's chance of hitting with EB is as good as any other character's, their range is often better, and they can divide the bolts for maximum efficiency. It's amazing in play how often the correct answer turns out to be "spam Blast".

The Pact of the Tome Warlock could take Sacred Flame or Lightning Lure and stand right next to an enemy (in 5ft), using concentration for Hold Person/Monster vs a Wisdom save and have a 100% hit AND CRIT rate.... which will make the damage of Eldritch Blast look bad not to mention the rest of the party jumping in on that.
It's a nice scenario. In play, these setups often don't work out as well as they sound on paper. It can happen, no doubt. The experience will be different depending on tier. Up to tier 3, the Warlock has two spell slots and could use Hold Person. The foe must be humanoid. They give up their first turn to cast it. (Sometimes the range will be an issue, but often not.) If it lands, they spend a couple of turns dropping that foe. Spells with saving throws can't critical, so the benefit is hitting a bit more often: prima-facie I think spamming EB will work out about the same for damage, and better by tier 3. FWIW it'd be better to cast Hold and hit the target with Blast, which can critical. In many cases it'be be better to Fireball with the slot, and then switch back to Blast.

Toll the Dead is far more effective and reliable vs high AC enemies in 5ft, attacking prone enemies (Hold him down Tank, I got your back), attacking enemies from prone (take that you stupid archers!!), enemies with cover (Ya hide from this!), or general close combat losing concentration is strong possibility or you need concentration for something else like "Protection from Good and evil", "Earth Bind" or Fighting in Flight using the "Fly" spell. In Fact, Wisdom saves are generally so much easier vs high AC dumb brutes that unless your fighting Clerics, Druids, or a scout of some type with higher wisdom its generally a more reliable option.
With RAW as it stands, Toll is okay in tier 1 and then falls terribly behind. Part is that it doesn't scale as ferociously. Part is the shorter range and conditional resulting in more circumstances where it lacks 100% up-time.

Chill touch for stopping enemy health regeneration that is faster than your damage.
Trolls and Vampires. Vampire Trolls! I wish Celestial had a feature that let them make Eldritch Blast deal radiant. I as saddened and surprised not so see that!

So... The OPs dislike of "Eldritch Blast + Agonizing Blast + Hex" is pretty much based on an incorrect over valuing of Hex
It's not, but no one likes a nerf. That said, I think, probably the only feature these boards agree on the evaluation of, is GWM! And I don't feel like GWM needs a nerf!! I really use the all-in melee attack as the standard by which others are judged. Ranged attacks for me should be about 2/3rds the damage, to be ensure non-ranged strategies are viable in play. Part of that is up-time. Part is safety.

which is good but not nearly as powerful as stated because when it's best is vs a single target with lots of HP to hit with as many Hex triggers as you can... your usually fighting a boss with High AC which then levels it back out. Occasionally you get a low 13AC giant but they also have a -1 wisdom save... An adult Black dragon has high 19AC and +1 Wisdom modifier so your more likely to hit with Toll the dead and burn those Legendary Resistances to open up more fun toys!!
I think Hex shouldn't be counted as 100% up-time. Sometimes the Hex falls on a target that turns out not to be the best one to attack, or goes down before the Warlock attacks it, or runs off, or whatever. I count Hex at 65% up-time in my balancing estimations.

An adult black dragon would be a tier 3 encounter. The chance of hitting with Tolls isn't too much better than with Blast, given 8+stat+prof+misc for saves vs roll+stat+prof+misc for ranged spell attacks. Adult black dragon has +6 on the save, or 19 AC so the difference is 5%. Blast at tier 3 is doing 3d10+15 at 120'. Toll is doing 3d12 at 60'. Dragon flies (speed 80').
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Here's my take. For most of a warlocks career, Hellish Rebuke does just about as much damage as hex. So when it comes to comparing EB + Hex + Agonizing Blast the more accurate comparison would be Toll the dead + Hellish Rebuke. Honestly the only real difference comes out to agonizing blast coupled with multiple attacks. In fact, any more I tend to prefer Hellish Rebuke to Hex even when using eldritch blast.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
Here's my take. For most of a warlocks career, Hellish Rebuke does just about as much damage as hex. So when it comes to comparing EB + Hex + Agonizing Blast the more accurate comparison would be Toll the dead + Hellish Rebuke. Honestly the only real difference comes out to agonizing blast coupled with multiple attacks. In fact, any more I tend to prefer Hellish Rebuke to Hex even when using eldritch blast.
Interesting points. Hex and Hellish both are both conditioned on events: for the sake of argument lets call those satisfied. I think combats run about five turns, so...

Tier 1 4th Warlock vs CR 2 creature
Rebuke caps at 6d10 * chance of failed DEX save = say +3 vs Warlock's DC 14 = 50% = 17ish + Toll x5 = 32.5*.5 = +16ish = 33ish
Hex caps at 4d6 * chance of hitting = say AC 13 vs Warlock's +6 Attack = 70% = 10ish + Agonizing on 4x beams = 22+16*.7 = +27ish = 37ish

Higher tiers will go even more heavily to Agonizing, which also has better range. As you say, Rebuke/Eldritch Blast is better than Hex/Eldritch Blast in a damage contest. Rebuke/Toll doesn't appear to be. That could change in cases where the Warlock is faced by (and knows they are faced by) foes with markedly poor Dex and Wis saves.

A concerning downside is Rebuke has to monopolise casting slots. Hex lasts an hour, so a Warlock can rest and recover slots. That plays out as the Hex Warlock throwing things like clutch Synaptic Statics, or Dimension Door bail outs. Resting and carrying over also means that I've low-balled the Hex damage (removing a turn of Blasts): over a day, it will be greater than shown. Versus either, Greater Invis. (Archfey) cast on a GWM Barbarian or Archery Ranger will be stronger than Rebuke or Hex. I just use Hex just as a sort of yardstick for damage a Warlock spell slot can do. Spamming EB in every turn the Warlock isn't casting a spell.

The change I suggest aims to broaden viable strategies by giving whatever bonuses Invocations apply to Blast, to all damage-dealing cantrips that a Warlock has. This would make Rebuke/Toll a valid strategy: shorter range, and more slots invested, but better damage. In my opinion, and to my taste, the effective buff (lots more options in combat) would be correctly balanced by toning Agonizing down slightly in comparison with other attacks. The much reviled "Once per turn" nerf. There are two reasons I like that possible change.

1) In play, Warlocks don't hit with every beam, every turn. At tier 1, once per turn makes no difference. At higher tiers, the difference is ameliorated by a tendency to not hit each turn with every beam.
2) I use a factoring of about 2/3rds ranged damage to melee. This means that if a 120' attack is doing on average 22 damage, then I think of that as equally viable as a melee attack that does 33. Observably, ranged attacks enjoy about 20% more up-time than melee attacks, but I also consider target choice, and character defence (safety/ability to stay in the fight/consumption of resources to stay in the fight). I think the minimum ratio would be that a melee attack must do +20% over a ranged, to be equally viable.
 
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FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Interesting points. Hex and Hellish both are both conditioned on events: for the sake of argument lets call those satisfied. I think combats run about five turns, so...

Tier 1 4th Warlock vs CR 2 creature
Rebuke caps at 6d10 * chance of failed DEX save = say +3 vs Warlock's DC 14 = 50% = 17ish + Toll x5 = 32.5*.5 = +16ish = 33ish
Hex caps at 4d6 * chance of hitting = say AC 13 vs Warlock's +6 Attack = 70% = 10ish + Agonizing on 4x beams = 22+16*.7 = +27ish = 37ish

I disagree with your choices for comparison but since you said "ish" i'll let it slide.

Higher tiers will go even more heavily to Agonizing, which also has better range. As you say, Rebuke/Eldritch Blast is better than Hex/Eldritch Blast in a damage contest. Rebuke/Toll doesn't appear to be. That could change in cases where the Warlock is faced by (and knows they are faced by) foes with markedly poor Dex and Wis saves.

Yep, agonizing is flat out better for damage than toll. However, toll leaves open your invocation slot while still outputting decent damage. This allows for more utility or defense.

A concerning downside is Rebuke has to monopolise casting slots. Hex lasts an hour, so a Warlock can rest and recover slots. That plays out as the Hex Warlock throwing things like clutch Synaptic Statics, or Dimension Door bail outs. Resting and carrying over also means that I've low-balled the Hex damage (removing a turn of Blasts): over a day, it will be greater than shown. Versus either, Greater Invis. (Archfey) cast on a GWM Barbarian or Archery Ranger will be stronger than Rebuke or Hex. I just use Hex just as a sort of yardstick for damage a Warlock spell slot can do. Spamming EB in every turn the Warlock isn't casting a spell.

A concerning downside to hex is concentration and the ease in which a warlocks concentration can be broken. The higher level encounters you face the more likely your concentration is to get broken. Not to mention the warlock has some additional very good buffs and control spells that require concentration later which hex competes with.

For levels 1-10 hellish rebuke deals nearly identical damage to hex in typical encounters (if not better), does it's massive amount of damage earlier in the fight (damage earlier is always better than damage later) and is guaranteed unlike hex which can be ended by failing concentration saves the turn after you cast it or any turn after that.

The damage caused by hex with 4 attacks against a 15 ac foe at level 4 is 8.4 damage.
The damage caused by a level 2 hellish rebuke against a +2 dex save foe at level 4 is 12.7875 damage.

Even at Hex's sweet spot of level 5 and 6.

The damage caused by hex with 8 attacks against a 15 ac foe at level 5 is 18.2
The damage caused by a level 3 hellish rebuke against a +2 dex save enemy is 17.6


The change I suggest aims to broaden viable strategies by giving whatever bonuses Invocations apply to Blast, to all damage-dealing cantrips that a Warlock has. This would make Rebuke/Toll a valid strategy: shorter range, and more slots invested, but better damage. In my opinion, and to my taste, the effective buff (lots more options in combat) would be correctly balanced by toning Agonizing down slightly in comparison with other attacks. The much reviled "Once per turn" nerf. There are two reasons I like that possible change.

I'm all for letting it apply to other cantrips. But why limit it for EB? The ranger already out damages you with no feats all the way until you hit level 11. Why further that gap. It's likely the battlemaster fighter outdamages you as well (even without feats). And both can definitely outdamage you with feats.

What melee character are you trying to compare the warlock to that you think doesn't get either the 20-30% higher damage than him or strong enough defensive abilities to compensate for the damage difference?

1) In play, Warlocks don't hit with every beam, every turn. At tier 1, once per turn makes no difference. At higher tiers, the difference is ameliorated by a tendency to not hit each turn with every beam.

It's a pretty big deal even at tier 2. You'll have somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 the time that you hit with both attacks on a turn. That's often enough to matter.

2) I use a factoring of about 2/3rds ranged damage to melee. This means that if a 120' attack is doing on average 22 damage, then I think of that as equally viable as a melee attack that does 33. Observably, ranged attacks enjoy about 20% more up-time than melee attacks, but I also consider target choice, and character defence (safety/ability to stay in the fight/consumption of resources to stay in the fight). I think the minimum ratio would be that a melee attack must do +20% over a ranged, to be equally viable.

Sure, what melee character are you worried about outdamaging with the warlocks agonizing blast?
 

the Jester

Legend
Well, that’s your call. Nothing in the RAW says that’s how it works, and the fact that magic missile specifies that all darts hit simultaneously while Eldritch Blast does not leads me to think otherwise, but your table your rules.

How about a duration of "Instantaneous"?

In general, an instantaneous spell's effects all take effect at the same time. You don't, for instance, get to cast a spell that targets two creatures, choose one, then move, then choose the other. This isn't like using the Attack action, where you have multiple attacks happening in sequence. It's one spell, creating multiple beams.
 

5ekyu

Hero
How about a duration of "Instantaneous"?

In general, an instantaneous spell's effects all take effect at the same time. You don't, for instance, get to cast a spell that targets two creatures, choose one, then move, then choose the other. This isn't like using the Attack action, where you have multiple attacks happening in sequence. It's one spell, creating multiple beams.
Obviously a gm can rule and change however when they want, but all the official play and responses for ray, this etc have been clear that unless simultaneous is there its sequential attacks.
 

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