Thrill of the Spreadsheet: Glaives Vs. Barrage

Edit:  With the hotfixes announced 12/8/2014, much of this information has quickly become outdated.  Aimed Shot recieved a 10% nerf (as did Kill Shot).  As soon as I have more logs, I will revisit this issue, and, if needed, post more info on this blog.

On the Hunting Party Podcast yesterday, we briefly touched on the choice between Glaive Toss and Barrage on Single Target fights.  I think I've briefly covered this, to some extent, but I wanted to get into it again just to have all my thoughts collected in one place.

The crux of the argument I'm trying to make in favor for Glaive Toss is this:
While compared in a vacuum, Barrage does more damage than Glaive Toss, and does more Damage/Cast-time than Glaive Toss.  However, when you compare the opportunity cost, that is to say, how much time you'll have to spend casting Steady Shots to make up the focus cost, or what you could have spent with that same amount of focus, Glaive Toss ends up being the better choice.  
To get to that conclusion, I want to take a look at one of my logs from last week.  In a single target fight (against the Butcher), the value of my Glaives and Barrage looks like this:

Tick/HitCrit TickPer cast ave:Focus CostCast/GCDDam/CTDam/FocusDam/CT/Foc
AiS w/ TotH22359.151751.531176.82242.2114107.161299.03587.80
AiS w/ CA22359.151751.548812.26322.2122087.001525.38690.22
AiS w/ TotH&CA22359.151751.548812.26122.2122087.004067.691840.58
Glaive Toss5972.112405.817766.4315117766.431184.431184.43
Chim Shot36711.380655.566007.435166007.401885.931885.93

If you're curious where those Aimed Shot focus costs came from, I had about a 30% crit chance, so without Careful Aim, I should have 30% of my Aimed Shots cost 30 focus (because the crit returns 20 focus), and 70% cost 50 focus. I used the same averaging technique with Careful Aim, but with 90% crit chance.  

Considering Barrage

What I've tried to do in this spreadsheet is control for the focus cost of a shot, by not just looking at Damage per Cast-time (or DPS, however you like to think about it) but looking at Damage per Cast-time per Focus. As I've mentioned before on this site, this creates a simple metric to compare focus-costing shots by both their damage and their opportunity cost in resources.  

From this sheet, we see Chim Shot is the clear winner, as we expect, even during Careful Aim while TotH is up, we're getting the most "bang for your buck" from Chim Shot.  But that's not really what was in question here.  What we're trying to look at is the comparison of Glaive Toss to Barrage. The trouble with barrage, is in this scenario, it's focus cost is so high that it's only doing better than one ability, which is Aimed Shot with no Careful Aim and no TotH buff.  There's no question then, that Aimed Shot during Careful Aim is more valuable than Barrage, but also, when you consider, I had TotH up, on average, 64.32% of the time, Aimed Shot without Careful Aim is still, on average, a more valuable ability than Barrage.  This puts Aimed Shot above Barrage on our ability priority list. 

The reason this is important is because once an ability with no CD is higher on our priority list than another ability, then we'll never get to the lower ability.  And that is really what the pro Glaive Toss argument relies on, it's not that Glaives is necessarily better than Barrage on it's own, it's that Barrage isn't as good as Aimed Shot.  That's the result of having a really powerful focus dump, that's further buffed by Lone Wolf.  

Considering Glaive Toss

As you can see in the spreadsheet above, because Glaive Toss has no cast time and a low focus cost, its value (when measured in dam/ct/focus) is relatively high.  Higher, in fact, than Aimed Shot in all but one situation (Careful Aim while TotH is up).  In addition, it's DPS is higher than Aimed Shot without Careful Aim, and not significantly lower than Barrage.

But that's not the only benefit of Glaive Toss.  One of the harder to quantify benefits is that it is a single GCD ability in a sea of cast-times.  I mentioned above that no matter what, Chim Shot is at the top of our Priority (yes, it does more damage on average than Kill Shot, also, but that's really for a different discussion), and that means we want to use it as close to on CD as possible.  With Glaive Toss we have an opportunity to use it as a "filler" shot in our rotation.  That is to say, if I only have a second left before Chim Shot is off CD, if I choose to use Barrage, then I either have to use Aimed Shot, delaying Chim Shot by 1.2 seconds,  or I can just sit there twiddling my thumbs for an entire GCD until Chim Shot comes off CD.  With Glaive Toss, however, we have a low focus cost, instant cast ability to fill in those occasional little gaps in our rotation.  

Another Metric 

Though I'm a big fan of Damage per Cast-time per Focus, there are other ways to think about the value of our abilities.   One way to consider this particular problem, is what we could do with the same amount of focus.  Barrage, for me, did 54.4k damage, and costs 60 focus. Using that same focus, how many Aimed Shots could I have cast?  Assuming we're already decided that we wouldn't use Barrage during Careful Aim, we can just look at the cost of Aimed Shot outside of Careful Aim.  With, as I mentioned above, a 64.32% up time on TotH, we can say Aimed Shots cost 24 focus 64% of the time, and 44 focus 36% of the time.  That means on average, when Careful Aim isn't up, we spend 31.2 focus per Aimed Shot.  So basically, we could do two Aimed Shots for the same focus cost as one Barrage.  And as we see above, two Aimed Shots provides us with about 10k more damage.  

Another way to think about it is using a Glaive Toss + Aimed Shot comparison.  At 15 focus per GT and 31.2 focus per Aimed Shot, we can cast one glaive toss and 1.44 Aimed Shots,  for a total of 62.7k damage, also well out damaging Barrage.

The Caveat

There is a caveat here, that is certainly worth considering, that Barrage is more valuable than Aimed Shot without Careful Aim or TotH.  The reason I bring this up again, is that even though the average Aimed Shot is more valuable than Barrage, we don't deal with averages in the game. That is, TotH isn't always 64% up,  it's either up or it's not.  

So because of this, there is a time when the in-game application of Barrage is more valuable (measured in Dam/CT/Focus) than Aimed Shot, and since it will do more D/CT than Glaive Toss, I think we've got to consider this as an viable talent.  

In this situation, instead of trying to use Barrage on CD, we would only use it when (TotH isn't up, and Careful Aim isn't up), which may end up netting us more total damage than not using it at all.  This also provides the added benefit of having a high focus cost shot, which is more likely to proc more TotH's, which is especially valuable because you're only using it when TotH is down, giving you the full three stacks.  

In this case, our shot priority would look like this:

  • Chim Shot
  • Kill Shot
  • Aimed Shot w/ TotH & CA
  • Aimed Shot w/ CA
  • Aimed Shot w/ TotH
  • Barrage
  • Aimed Shot
  • Steady Shot (to rebuild focus)

Unfortunately, at this point we've gotten into too many variables, so we can't easily compare the two abilities using spreadsheet math.  We'll have to turn to our handy DPS simulators, to see if we can get some definitive answers, when comparing these two abilities.  For now, I'll be sticking with Glaive Toss for single target, but I'll be very interested to watch hunters who are using Barrage, and see if they find a way to pull more DPS out of it.  


  1. I use Barrage almost exclusively.

    Granted I'm still using focusing shot, which probably puts me in the scrub category as I can't wrap my head around balancing aimed shot/anything else with steady shots low focus gain, it's very easy for me to factor in barrage in my shot priority (no ToTH/CA aimed) as it shares a similar focus cost with aimed shot.

    This is entirely subjective opinion that GT hits very weakly and is another timer to keep track of which adds to attention overhead. So perhaps another metric to add is "how easy is it for me to keep track of this cooldown?".

    1. With Focusing Shot (which I think is very viable with the right player), I'd definitely put Barrage ahead. It's the Lone Wolf buff to Aimed Shot that makes barrage iffy. I should probably make note of that somewhere here...

  2. I personally have been running Barrage on everything as well, simply because GT does not feel worth casting. The damage is absolutely pitiful.

    With that being said, I do find myself holding Barrage well beyond it's cooldown often, just because as you say, it's only worth casting on ST if you aren't in CA, and TotH is down.

    Thankfully there are more often than not things to cleave which just make Barrage the no-brainer choice. I would personally only consider GT for The Butcher in Highmaul. Everything else, Barrage is the clear winner.