Damage over time builds design philosophy

Hi everyone,

Here’s feedback concerning dot builds. I get that getting dots with fixed base damage is an easy way to understand dot mechanics.

However, this brings a serious drawback. In most games, what differenciates dot and hit based builds is the gameplay.

For hit based builds, you want to spam your abilities with on hit effects and crits to get high damage numbers to make up for down times in your fights when you need to activaly avoid abilities and what not. For dot builds, you trade off your high damage, on hit effects and crits to put dots on your target, along with debuffs and time related effects to increase your damage uptime. Those are two very different ways to play.

But in LE, you don’t have this difference, because dot builds are still on hit builds. Since a dot instance has a fixed base value, you’re incentivized to stack dot instances which mostly have short durations, and use high attack/cast speed to maximize your damage output as you would do for a proper hit based build.

This does not mean that those builds are not strong, but the game play is quite the same. LE would gain in gameplay variability to review this design philosophy and make dot builds proper dot builds, even if it means trading damage numbers again.

Balance between dot and hit based builds should be made around damage over a period of time. Hit based builds should be spiky with high damage values while dots should be more consistent with low damage values, all leading to a samy average damage over a period of time. I do think that hit based builds should be able to scale further than dot builds. But dot builds should have the quality of life to indeed be damage over time builds and not hit based builds in disguise.

Finally, because of this disign, the ramping of dot builds is not a very fun experience. Because you need stacks to do damage, you need those stacks to ramp up, which leaves your character in a very dangerous place most of the time.

A solution to this problem would be to get added damage to dot base values with mods like “+X added damage to bleed” for instance, but have skills have a specific added damage effectiveness for dots. Also, there should be an explicit suffix giving ailment duration, which is lacking so much for now. However, all this means that dot instances should always have a cap, if not necessarily always a cap of 1.

Thabk you for reading that if you did!

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I see where you’re coming from, but for PoE, for example, DoT builds still require a hit & usually as big a hit as they can get as the damage of the DoT is based on the hit & most of them don’t stack (except poison).

Yes, but you can completely ignore the hit damage & crit/crit multi.

Yeah, I think that’s a fair point, but I personally wouldn’t want all DoTs to be the same as they are in PoE (based on the damage of the hit). Perhaps there could be more slower higher damage hit builds and some DoTs that scale off the damage of the hit as they do in PoE so there are some slow large AoE DoT builds as well as most of them being fast attacking builds.

And yes, I think it’s also a fair point about most/all DoTs having a low duration thereby removing one of the differences between hit & DoT builds. They could increase the duration a fair bit while decreasing the DPS to compensate (but not too much).

Your concern is more about Ailment Build and not so much DoT builds.

This is a big difference. There are already a number of DoT builds (not using ailments) that exactly fulfil your criterias. (Wandering Spirits/Spirit Plague for example)

This is simply not going to happen. LE is not using any strong forms of cooldown, so no build in LE is really spikey. There are not big cooldowns, signature, ultimate or similar skills, like for example in Marvel Heroes (Every Hero had a 20-60 Sec signature cooldown plus a 7-10 Min Cooldown Ultimate).

There is no way hit based builds will get spikey damage in LE without substantial fundamental changes in skills, damage and cooldowns. That would massively affect the game.

The only thing that I agree with, what makes them not differentiate enoug his, that for most builds you want to go high attack speed.

I think something to make Ailments good without just scaling attack speed would be good.

Something that would probably not bring this on the same level, but would be a start, would be something like slow or cooldown based skills applying all your on-hit affects more than regular hits.

So something like a positive ailments frequency.
Skills liek FLurry ahve a negative ailments frequency.
I think something like Meteor or Erasing Strike having a positive ailments frequency like 200-300% would at least bring some mroe variety to ailment based builds.
This still wouldn’t eleminate the desire for high attack speed for other ailments builds though.

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That’s kinda true. Essentially, to my knowledge, there is no real difference between direct dmg builds and DoT stack (or ailments) builds beside having to invest in different multipliers.

Mind posting a link to such a build? I’ve never heard of using Wandering Spirits or Spirit Plague for their actual DoT damage. Skills like that, to my knowledge, have negligible dmg and serve for utility and proccing.


I get there’s a difference between a pure dot build and an ailment build. But letting ailments stack infinitely kind of forces us to use high attack speed values to maximize the stack number. Because of that, most builds use attack/cast speed and most of them feel really alike. Also, pure dot builds are scarce.

A solution that would imply a lot of changes of course, would be to link skills to base weapon types so that base action speed is managed at skill level and not at weapon level. Alternatively, adding speed multipliers on the skill itself could be possible. This would be a way to get high damage skills with low attack/cast speed and add variety. I think all that is a consequence of how skills are available whatever the weapon type you use (or close). Their hybrid approach between the PoE way (Skills are independent from base weapon types) and D4 (skills are class dependent) shows its limit there.

I just feel that dot builds are in a really weird spot. You either have to play them as hit based builds or suffer from channeling mechanics (like ghostflame), and it feels bad.

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I don’t think it’s that. Or at least, not just that. I think the fundamental issue here is that the devs want you to have active builds. They don’t like walking simulators.
It’s the reason why a permanent minion army isn’t as strong as one where you’re constantly casting stuff, be it shade, temporary minions or whatnot.
It’s the reason why you don’t have viable retaliation builds.

So a build where you place a dot and just walk around waiting for it to kill stuff is something they dislike and discourage. Which is a shame, to me, because I like some of those builds. Especially retaliation builds the way GD had them before the last patch.

Ultimately, I don’t think this will change, except maybe over time if enough of the community asks for it. It is, as mentioned in the title, a design philosophy.

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There is huge difference.
For DoT builds you want Spell Damage and don’t want cast speed.

While that essentially means there is investment in “different multipliers”, it still makes character building and msot importantly playstyle very different.

I don’t have any character right now that I could share a link to.
I deleted all my pre 1.0 characters and have not played one yet in 1.0.

I absolutely don’t know where you got the idea from that these skills only serve utility.
Post 1.0 I could easily run 300-500 corruption with a WS + SP build.

WS received a substantial change in 1.0 which should make this even better.

Wandering Spirits possible is the strongest DoT skill in the entire game agaisnt big bosses (like Lagon or Emporer of Corpses. Each individual Spirit can hit the same target, so with the right spec it can shotgun big enemies like crazy, literally melting the boss.

Also Spirit Plague can be specced for Single Target support (No Spreading but huge multiplier) or AoE (invest into spreading).

All of this was already possible pre-Warlock. Now with Warlock this will be even better and stronger.

This is a good point. The indeed sauf they did not want walking simulators. But there’s a difference between hitting 10 times a second and getting a few seconds dot instances and it does not mean that dot builds should be passive. They could be as active as minion builds.

Dots should be weaker. To make up for that, other mechanics could be used. Applying debuffs, or creating special circumstances for dots to be more effective. This maintains a build active but you don’t lose what a damage over time actually means. Actually being inflicted over a duration…


Lots of things could be done to create a viable DoT build. I think they haven’t done it so far because of their dislike for the playstyle. Even if, as you mention, it could be made more active.
Ultimately, I think they should revisit that philosophy. They could even make it so that lazy/walking simulator builds are viable, they’re just not as strong. I’d be happy with that.

For example, before 1.0 my favorite build was a retaliation Forge Guard. It was almost unkillable, but it needed 10-15 minutes to clear a single echo (except for spire echoes, those were fast). It needed 20-30 minutes to kill a boss. It was reeeeaaalllly sloooooooow. But I enjoyed it.
Then 1.0 came, Rebuke was nerfed and the build died.

I don’t care that the build wasn’t competitive or that there were stronger builds (lots of them) or faster builds (all of them). I just wanted to have fun with a playstyle I enjoy.
So I really think they should revisit that philosophy choice and make these build archetypes viable, even if they’re not particularly strong. Much like a pure permanent minion build is viable, even if not particularly strong.


I’m not sure I see the difference. Weapons are just stat stick & the implicit attack speed acts as a multiplier to the % increased attack speed stat which is then a multiplier to the skill’s base speed (generally 1.4 something seconds).

Are there any DoT builds in PoE that aren’t hit-based?

He meant that in LE you have to play them as if they were a normal non-DOT build, constantly dealing hits to stack the ailments. As opposed to builds in PoE where you hit and wait for the damage to finish dealing (or just move on and let them die offscreen), like ED/Contagion builds.


There is plenty of really strong DoT builds.

Life drain, Disintegrate(might be up for debate how strong this is, I found it good enough to list) Holy trail, Consecrated aura judgement(RF), Spirit plague/WS. Torment warlock(Torment is an ailment, but only stacks once) the list goes on.

There is actually a lot of fire and forget DoT skills that dont require a hit, and dont care about scaling speed.

I mean it guess it depends on how we categorize “Strong” if we are talking 2k corruption melters, yeah no, DoT never hits that level. But well into the 600-800 range these non stacking non attack speed focused DoT builds work and are strong.


I recently realized that many problems are tied to this. Having multiple base weapon types that can be used with multiple skills creates balance issues. Because weapons have implicits and base attack speed and damage values, you can’t efficiently balance your skills. Indeed, a specific skill gets different base stats according to the weapon it’s used with. This is a balance nightmare and forces the game designer to limit the skill design space to avoid loopholes and broken corner cases.

I know there are strong dot builds. I never said there weren’t. I said most felt like hit based builds.

I have to try torment though. I heard about it but it was late in the cycle and PoE was releasing 3.24 ^^

May be I’ll try that next cycle! Disintegrate is a channeling skill. That’s a problem with pure dot skill. If they’re not ailment based, a lot are channeling.

This cycle, I played healing hands electrify. It was really good, but it really did not felt like dot neither.

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