Level Up (A5E) Eldritch Blast: Re-visiting DPR Potential and Other Considerations

All hail the king of at-will damage! This thread is a continuation of a previous thread, correcting Eldritch Disturbance's damage. I will provide the updated chart below, along with some observations that were much quicker than the ones I made last time:

Quick Notes:
In my mind, I categorize the Eldritch Blasts as Ranged Blasts (Ray, Disturbance) and Melee Blasts (Scythe, Whip), hopefully for obvious reasons. If all you care about is maximum damage potential, this distinction might not matter to you, but the ranged blasts and melee blasts are so incredibly different in so many ways, and encourage such incredibly different character choices, that this should be the first question that a warlock asks itself when deciding which Eldritch Blast to take. It doesn't matter if a melee blast does more damage than a ranged blast, for example, if you are specifically building your character around being as far away as possible from the pointy ends of the other guys' spears. That out of the way, let's do a quick analysis:

Ranged Blasts:
Eldritch Ray: Starting in tier 2, the more damaging ranged blast. Also starting in tier 2, the ranged blast that makes the most use of invocations that modify Eldritch Blast, since Ray gets multiple attacks and Disturbance does not. If you want to deal the most damage, or if you want many invocations that modify Eldritch Blast, this is the better choice.
Eldritch Disturbance: Disturbance, starting at level 5, deals less damage than Ray and can't benefit from invocations like Agonizing Blast multiple times per turn. However, Disturbance has two advantages over Ray. First, Disturbance can be used in melee more effectively, given that Ray is used with disadvantage against opponents within 5 feet. Second, Disturbance is guaranteed to deal damage on any given turn (given that half damage is dealt if an enemy succeeds on its save): against opponents with a high AC, this is a very big advantage for Disturbance. (Half damage on a save also helps Disturbance to deal very consistent damage, even against opponents with a high save.)
The Bottom Line: If you want a ranged blast, I think the most important question you have to ask is how much you want to rely on Eldritch Blast for utility. If the answer is "a lot," then choose Eldritch Ray. If the answer is "not much," then I would still choose Eldritch Ray, but other warlocks might prefer the unique perks that Eldritch Disturbance offers instead of increased damage. (Of course, if you are in a campaign that will never see level 5 and above, then Eldritch Disturbance is better than or matched with Eldritch Ray in every way except for range.)

Melee Blasts:
Eldritch Scythe: As far as I am concerned, both RAW and RAI, Lifedrinker and Eldritch Scythe are compatible—we'll see how this statement ages with the upcoming errata. This means that, even just paired with a longsword, a melee warlock with Eldritch Scythe is going to do incredible damage, as it gets effectively one extra attack per turn—pair it with a greatsword or a polearm and your damage potential is even greater (starting at level 5, anyway). If you plan on using Pact of the Blade and want to be a melee warlock, I see no reason not to choose Scythe as your Eldritch Blast. Without a good constitution and dexterity investment, and multiclassing or the Eldritch Warrior invocation, you may find yourself a bit of a glass cannon, however...
I think it's worth noting that Eldritch Scythe states that it only replaces weapon attacks made as part of the Attack action (or a reaction), not as part of a Bonus Action. This means that Eldritch Scythe cannot replace the Bonus Action attack granted by two-weapon fighting. Given how much damage Eldritch Scythe + Pact of the Blade + Lifedrinker already deals, however, I don't think this will be a deal-breaker for most gishlocks.
You can make a pseudo-ranged warlock build by using your familiar (Pact of the Chain) to deliver Eldritch Scythes, but familiars become so fragile so quickly that I don't think it's worth it, especially since you'd effectively just have a less flexible and less damaging version of Eldritch Ray at that point. But, perhaps there is a familiar that I am unaware of that would make this unexpectedly effective.
Eldritch Whip: Very high damage potential, although that potential is somewhat inconsistent until you can start making multiple attacks per turn. It takes about three turns for Eldritch Whip to exceed the damage of most other Blasts at most tiers, and not landing a single attack during those turns completely resets Whip's damage potential. This also makes Whip not particularly compatible with Pact of the Blade, as, unlike Scythe, Whip doesn't get to replace other attacks.
The Bottom Line: If you want a ranged blast, I think the most important question you have to ask is whether or not you want Pact of the Blade. If the answer is "yes," then choose Eldritch Scythe. If the answer is "no," then choose Eldritch Whip.

Closing Thoughts:
As I mentioned in the previous thread, I love the Eldritch Blasts present in A5e. I think they are very well-designed and encourage excitingly varied styles of play. Of all these options, I've spent the most time thinking about Eldritch Spasm, as I think it falls just a little short of all the other Blasts for two reasons:
  1. Low average damage potential
  2. Can never benefit from Blast-altering invocations more than once per turn
I think the low overall damage is effectively mitigated by being guaranteed to deal damage, so that's not a concern that I think needs tweaking. But not being able to use Eldritch Grasp, Eldritch Tentacle, Repelling Blast, or any invocation that significantly expands the utility of Eldritch Blast seems, to me, to be a real lost. I plan on experimenting, in my games, with Eldritch Spasm being guaranteed to activate these invocations so long as it dealt damage, regardless of whether the enemy creature made its save or not. This would make Disturbance even better than the others in tier 1, but I think it would keep the various Blasts on a more level playing field as the levels progress and the other Blasts get additional attacks.

Enough has been said, I think, about Eldritch Blast at this point. I think the warlock is in need of a more comprehensive guide instead...

(Treantmonk on calculating average DPR.)
(Pack Tactics on calculating average DPA for half-damage on a save.)
 

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