This post was published long before the Mists of Pandara Expansion.
The tips and techniques explained here may be outdated.

Warlock Spell: Shadow Bolt

Shadow Bolt Tooltip


SB Casting

Here’s my visualization of the spell cast. Above is the timeline. It’s dotted in 1 second intervals with an extra dark dot at each 5 seconds to make it easier to read.

The spell is cast at time 0. It has a 2.5 second cast and the “X” is the Global Cooldown (GCD) (1.5 seconds) which occurs at the beginning of its cast time while it’s casting. This can crit for (normally) 1.5 times the damage. The damage occurs at the end of the cast time (at 2.5 secs).

Average Damage = ({(Min Damage + Max Damage)/2} + ({Shadow Damage} * ({Effective Coefficient}+{Shadow and Flame Bonus}))) * (1 + {Shadow Mastery Bonus} + {Improved Shadow Bolt Bonus} + {Succubus Sacrifice Bonus} + {Critical Strike bonus * Critical Strike Rate} + {Ruin Bonus})

Given my affliction spec and assuming I have 1k bonus shadow damage and 15% crit rate I should see an average of 1900 damage for each Shadow Bolt.

Relevant Talents:

Nightfall 2/2 – Gives each tick of your Corruption and Drain Life spells a 2/4% chance to cause you to enter a Shadow Trance state after damaging the opponent. The Shadow Trance state reduces the casting time of your next Shadow Bolt spell by 100%

Shadow Mastery 5/5 – Increase the damage dealt or life drained by your Shadow Spells by 2/4/6/8/10%

Improved Shadow Bolt 5/5 – Your Shadow Bolt critical strikes increase shadow damage dealt to the target by 4/8/12/16/20% until 4 non-periodic damage are applied. Effect lasts a maximum of 12 seconds.
To quote TeePee: “I’m going to assume that Improved Shadow Bolt will on average give you a 10% damage increase overall. Due to the nature of how it works, its very hard to put an exact number on it, but 10% seems to get used widely around the web (and its a nice round number).”

Shadow and Flame 0/5 – Your Shadow Bolt and Incinerate spells gain an additional 4/8/12/16/20% of your bonus spell damage effects.

Backlash 0/5 – Increase your critical strike chance with spells by 1/2/3% and gives you a 8/16/25% chance when hit by a physical attack to reduce the casting time of your next Shadow Bolt or Incinerate by 100%. This effect lasts 8 seconds and will not occur more than once every 8 seconds.

Bane 5/5 – Reduces the casting time of your Shadow Bolt and Immolate spells by 0.1/0.2/0.3/0.4/0.5 seconds and your Soul Fire by 0.4/0.8/1.2/1/6/2.0 seconds.

Cataclysm 0/5 Reduce the mana cost of your destruction spells by 1/2/3/4/5%.

Aftermath 0/5 Give your destruction spells a 2/4/6/8/10% chance to stun your target for 5 seconds.

Devastation 5/5 – Increase the critical strike chance of your Destruction spells by 1/2/3/4/5%.

Intensity 0/2 Give you a 35/70% chance to resist interruption caused by damage when casting a destruction spell.

Destructive Reach 2/2 Increases the range of your destruction spells by 10/20% and reduces the threat by 5/10%.

Ruin 0/1 – Increases the critical strike damage bonus of your Destruction spells by 100%.

Demonic Sacrifice 0/1 – When activated, sacrifices your summoned demon to grant you an effect that lasts 30 min. The effect is canceled if any Demon is summoned.
Imp: Increases your Fire damage by 15%.
Voidwalker: Restores 2% of total health every 4 sec.
Succubus: Increases your Shadow damage by 15%.
Felhunter: Restores 3% of total mana every 4 sec.
Felguard: Increases your Shadow damage by 10% and restores 2% of total mana every 4 sec.

The icky math

Destruction Shadow based Direct Damage spell. 2.5 second cast. Can crit.

Rank Mana Min Max Effective Coefficient (with downranking)
11 420 598 668 85.71% (105.71% with Shadow and Flame)

Math based on my affliction build: 5/5 Shadow Mastery, 5/5 Improved Shadow Bolt, 0/1 Shadow and Flame, 0/1 Demonic Sacrifice, 0/1 Ruin

With 1k Shadow Damage and 15% crit rate

Max Total Damage(with crit) = ({Max Damage} + ({Shadow Damage} * ({Effective Coefficient}+{Shadow and Flame Bonus}))) * (1 + {Shadow Mastery Bonus} + {Improved Shadow Bolt Bonus} + {Succubus Sacrifice Bonus} + {Critical Strike bonus} + {Ruin Bonus})

Average Damage = ({(Min Damage + Max Damage)/2} + ({Shadow Damage} * ({Effective Coefficient}+{Shadow and Flame Bonus}))) * (1 + {Shadow Mastery Bonus} + {Improved Shadow Bolt Bonus} + {Succubus Sacrifice Bonus} + {Critical Strike bonus * Critical Strike Rate} + {Ruin Bonus})

Average Damage = ((598+668)/2 + (1000 * .8571)) * (1 + 0.10 + 0.10 + (0.50*0.15))
Average Damage = 1899.878

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9 comments to Warlock Spell: Shadow Bolt

  • Not that I plan on ever pulling my lock (lvl 25) out of mothballs, but this is really good, useful information. Thanks for the posts.

    Leiandras last blog post..Revision of Previous Post

  • TeePee

    As always, nice in depth post – I’m curious about the damage that’s appearing on your screenshot for Shadowbolt though. I had thought the base damage for SB is 541-603? Really not meaning to be nit-picking your well researched post, its just your screenshot really surprised me – wondering if i’m going on old data or something and need to go update my post… /confused

    TeePees last blog post..Mythbuster: The Great Immolate Debate

  • TeePee

    ahhh that makes sense – i think there’s an addon that does that isn’t there? or is that game default? hehe been that long since i read tool tips like that in game i really don’t remember

    TeePees last blog post..Mythbuster: The Great Immolate Debate

  • Nibuca

    Hmmm. Screenshot was done this morning. I -didn’t- strip off all my clothes.. I’ll try that tonight. AFAIK the only buff I had active at the time was Fel Armor.

    I -did- notice that I had to take off my wrist armor as they had haste and effected the cast time shown in the tooltip.

    HRm.. it’s also vaguely possible that the tooltip is adjusted by my talents.. bummer.. that’d make these kind of posts very hard to generate.

  • mbf

    Just to keep things confusing, *some* tooltips are updated based on talents and some are not – same with gear differences.

    *Some* buff tooltips are updated to take talents into account and some are not too.

    Fun!

    BTW, before you spend too much time on this, you may want to check out the wow warlock DPS spreadsheet:

    http://www.leulier.com/

  • Nibuca

    Thanks for the pointer. I will look into it.. but I’m one of -those- people. Until I can prove it to myself “on paper” I can’t believe the pat answers. I will keep it in mind though.

  • mbf

    Hehe, I understand – I’m the same way.

    Being an engineer means always trying to find the most efficient (or lazy – depends on you pov) way of doing something.

    Affliction is necessarily more complicated anyway because of actual spell rotations (not just SB spam) – and the 4-piece bonus of t4 only complicates it with an extra tick of immolate and corruption changing the DoT refresh timing.

    Good luck with your project – I look forward to seeing the results and how they match my own calculations.

    I once tried to create comparative graphs of the DS/SnF build vs the ruin/MD succubus build with demonic tactics and demonic knowledge (stamina and intellect from gear and typical raid buffs on you and your succy into consideration). It turned out to be a 4-dimensional graph which is a bit difficult to visualize. In the end I had to pick certain sections of the graph, using spell damage/sta/int based on typical gearing.

    It’s a slightly better build at kara gear levels, but more spell damage makes shadow and flame beat out demonic knowledge because the bonus spell damage from +sta/+int doesn’t scale as well (although you get +15.5% to all damage with soul link and md having your succubus out versus +15% to shadow only from saccing her with the typical destro build – and +5% crit from demonic tactics instead of 3% from backlash).

    Of course you have to keep your demon alive…

    Try working those into your SB function above, I dare you :)

    And then thy nerfed demonic kowledge anyway…

  • TeePee

    or you could just use wowwiki :) pretty sure their numbers are the spec’less base values

    TeePees last blog post..Mythbuster: The Great Immolate Debate

  • Nibuca

    So it turns out the base damage is influenced by your spec. This is annoying and will need to be dealt with. I guess at some point I’m going to respec and copy down tooltips while spec-less. *sigh* bother.