Deathwing's trait, Aspect of Death, increases all spell damage that Deathwing deals to heroes by 100%. This sounds straightforward, but it is the source of a tremendous amount of confusion and incorrect talent priorities. Let's say I deal 100 damage baseline with an ability. Clearly, Aspect of Death will increase this to 200 damage vs heroes. But what if I take a talent that grants an additional 50% damage bonus? Will my ability deal 300 damage, or 250? Does the additional 50% damage multiply with the previous damage bonus granting 200% more damage total, or does it add to the previous damage bonus, granting 150% more damage total? (These are called "multiplicative" math and "additive" math respectively.)
Most people assume that the damage bonuses are multiplicative, but in HotS, almost every damage bonus in the game is additive. The only consistent counter-example is Armor (positive and negative), which is multiplicative with everything. This means in the example above, my ability would deal 250 damage, not 300, which means the imaginary talent I described is far less valuable than it looks. It only provides 1.25 times more damage against heroes (200 -> 250) rather than the 1.5 times that it advertises.
With that primer out of the way, let's look at some talents:
- Level 4 – Infernus: When Molten Flame is cast at 75% Energy or higher, its damage is increased by 75% against Heroes.
Hopefully you can see the problem here. Against heroes, this will increase Molten Flame's damage by 1.375 times (200% -> 275%), not 1.75 times. While a 1.375 times increase is still very noticeable, it is significantly worse than it looks at first glance.
- Level 4 – Heat Wave: Destroyer: After hitting an enemy Hero with Incinerate, Deathwing deals 14 (+4% per level) damage per second to all nearby enemies for the next 8 seconds. Stacks up to 4 times. World Breaker: Increase the explosion damage of Lava Burst by 125%.
The World Breaker effect, versus heroes, is only half as strong as advertised. It only grants 1.625 times more damage (200% -> 325%) rather than the 2.25 times that it advertises. However, versus non-heroes, Aspect of Death does not apply, so this would indeed grant 2.25 times more damage (100% -> 225%).
The Destroyer effect, versus heroes, is twice as strong as advertised, because Aspect of Death applies to it. Each stack deals 28 damage per second, which means the full 4 stacks deals 112 damage per second to heroes, not 56. (Also remember that this talent deals damage every 0.5 seconds rather than every 1 second, so the damage ticks are only half of the damage per second.)
- Level 4 – Dragon's Ire: While Deathwing has 3 or fewer Armor Plates, his damage is increased by 25%.
This one is tricky. Deathwing's Basic Attacks are not affected by Aspect of Death, so Dragon's Ire will always grant 1.25 times more damage to them (100% -> 125%). Deathwing's abilities are affected by Aspect of Death, so Dragon's Ire's bonus is halved to 1.125 times more damage (200% -> 225%), but only against heroes. Against non-heroes, this talent is actually 1.25 times more damage (100% -> 125%) even for abilities.
- Level 10 – Burn Beneath My Shadow: When an enemy Fort or Keep is destroyed the cooldown of Cataclysm is reset. Cataclysm's periodic damage is increased by 80%.
The periodic damage bonus is not as effective as advertised. Against heroes, it grants 1.4 times more damage (200% -> 280%). Against non-heroes, it does grant the full 1.8 times more damage (100% -> 180%).
- Level 13 – Fire and Fury: Basic Attacks against Rooted, Slowed, or Stunned enemy Heroes deal 30% additional damage and reduce the cooldowns of Deathwing's Basic Abilities by 0.5 seconds.
This is the only talent in Deathwing's entire tree whose damage boost behaves exactly as advertised. Aspect of Death does not affect Deathwing's basic attacks, so this talent is always 1.3 times more damage (100% -> 130%) whenever it triggers.
I haven't mentioned every talent affected by Aspect of Death, just the ones that I think people overvalue and undervalue due to their deceptive math. By far the biggest mistake people make is overvaluing Infernus and undervaluing Heat Wave (in Destroyer form). People also undervalue Fire and Fury because its tooltip doesn't look as impressive as talents like Infernus or Burn Beneath My Shadow.
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