Doing the Math: Falstad

We did the math so you don’t have to! Inspired by /r/theydidthemath, we’re going to look at some Falstad numbers to see how powerful the buffs to Ability Power Falstad are. Falstad is a pillar in the competitive scene and sees tournament play across all regions with an auto-attack style build. With the few buffs to “Mage-stad”, I can safely say his damage is on par with his auto-attack build and his burst damage is terrifying.

The Changes

January 27th, 2016

  • Hinterland Blast (R)
    • Damage increased from 411 (+4% per level) to 411 (+4.75% per level)
    • Cooldown increased from 90 to 120 seconds

February 10th, 2016

  • BOOMerang (Talent)
    • Damage increased from 121 (+4% per level) to 150 (+4% per level)
  • Hinterland Blast (R)
    • Base damage increased from 411 (+4.75% per level) to 475 (+4.75% per level)

March 9th, 2016

  • Gathering Storm (Talent)
    • Damage gained per Hero hit increased from 1 to 2
  • BOOMerang (Talent)
    • Reactivation damage increased from 150 (+4% per level) to 175 (+4% per level)
    • Damage radius increased by 25%, which now more appropriately matches the explosion’s visual effects
  • Charged Up (Talent)
    • Additional strikes increased from 2 to 3
  • Thunderstrikes (Talent)
    • Damage bonus per subsequent strike increased from 15% to 20%

For the last month, Falstad has received consistent buffs to his Ability Power talents in hopes for talent diversity in the hero. With yesterday’s patch, this may be the case. Let’s look at two of the builds available for Falstad.

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The Build

For a full damage build we can look towards this build: http://www.heroesfire.com/hots/talent-calculator/falstad#gTdD.

The big argument against Mage-stad is the loss of Mighty Gust at level 10. Mighty Gust is a unique and powerful displacement tool in Heroes of the Storm. Mighty Gust has the team-fight power of E.T.C’s Mosh Pit and Zagara’s Devouring Maw, but is only on a 40 second cooldown. To maintain Gust, let’s use this build: http://www.heroesfire.com/hots/talent-calculator/falstad#gTsu. At level 20 we have the luxury of picking either Epic Mount or Wind Tunnel, both more powerful tools than Call of the Wildhammer.

As we will see after numbers are crunched, Hinterland Blast is a powerful burst damage tool, but is not the strongest ability that Falstad possesses. I’m going argue that Hinterland Blast will not impair Falstad’s kill potential and is not integral to the build.

The Damage

In calculating damage, we are ignoring the Gathering Storm talent at level 1. Gathering Storm is an amazing talent, especially with the buff in yesterday’s patch. Gathering Storm increases Hammerang’s damage by 2 permanently for every hero it hits in the forward swing and the backswing. After hitting a hero with both hits of Hammerang, the next Hammerang will hit for 8 more damage! A played a few games last night, and was able to get upwards of +100 damage on Hammerang by the end of the game. Double that number and add in +25% damage from Overdrive at 16, and you have a TON of damage.

I am refraining from calculating the damage from the standard auto-attack Falstad build for a similar reason. While it would be a great tool for comparing the two Falstad builds, auto-attack Falstad relies heavily on Seasoned Marksman to build up damage throughout the game. Due to reliance on this talent, it is incredibly difficult to gauge the damage output of auto-attack Falstad.

The Conclusions

  • Even without Gathering Storm, Hammerang’s damage is insane. After level 16, activating Overdrive and using Hammerang does more damage than Hinterland Blast. You can see this in the orange highlighted section of the table.
  • Hinterland Blast is powerful burst, but it’s hard to justify it’s cooldown. Let’s get this straight. Hammerang has a 10 second cooldown, Overdrive has a 25 second cooldown whereas Hinterland Blast was “buffed” and given a 120 cooldown. These inconsistencies make me question HotS’ R & D team.
  • It is extremely difficult to land Hammerang, Lightning Rod, BOOMerang!, and Hinterland Blast all during the duration of Overdrive. This is more reason to pick Mighty Gust over Hinterland Blast.
  • Over the 4 seconds of Lightning Rod, Falstad does more than twice the damage of Hammerang and Hinterland Blast. Highlighted in yellow is damage provided by a full damage Lightning Rod. Not only is Lightning Blast the highest damage skill in Falstad’s kit, it is not a skillshot. The biggest weakness in Mage-stad’s damage is the fact that two of his abilities are aimed and can be dodged by the enemy.
  • Treat Lightning Rod like Mage-stad’s auto-attack. It hits 7 times in 7 seconds at level 20 for a total of 2651 damage with Overdrive. Assuming Falstad makes 7 auto-attacks in 7 seconds, that’s 378 damage an “auto-attack” with Lightning Rod.
  • For all the math buffs trying to check my numbers, Lightning Rod should be doing more damage with Overdrive. Through some testing in Try Mode in game, it looks like Overdrive increases the damage done by the initial Lightning Rod hit, but not the damage over time strikes. I will be reporting this on the official forums and seeing if it is intended or not. The numbers in the E Total (CU + TS + Overdrive) row is what is reflected in the in-game client. More on the bug at the bottom of the article. 
  • Falstad can still auto-attack during Hammerang and Lightning Rod, further increasing his damage potential. This is not calculated in the Damage section.
  • Utilizing spells makes Falstad less prone to Xul and Imposing Presence and this build has higher mobility and range than an auto-attack build
  • Mage-stad must be protected for the 7 second duration of Lightning Rod, but you can argue that auto-attack Falstad requires the same amount of attention.

So I can keep Mighty Gust?

Above is a spreadsheet of hero health (not including talents) between the levels of 16 of 20. The red section is heroes with less health than Mage-stad’s full skill rotation with Hinterland Blast. The orange section is heroes with less health than Mage-stad’s full skill rotation without Hinterland Blast. Falstad can kill more than half the heroes in the game given the 4 seconds needed for Lightning Rod, even without Hinterland Blast. Most tanks will pick their respective Spell Shield talents against Ability Power Falstad, although it is notable he hits for more damage than all but four hero’s full health pools anyways.

Ability Power Falstad does not need Hinterland Blast. Every 25 seconds, Mage-stad is able to throw out a Hammerang that can hit for more damage than Hinterland Blast. You can treat Hinterland Blast as a Rewind for Hammerang, but it is hard to justify a 120 second cooldown on Rewind.

Mighty Gust also provides a lot of intangible bonuses for Falstad and his team. It’s hard to quantify the advantage the team-fight control Mighty Gust provides and how many lives it can save as a disengage. Keeping Mighty Gust is not a horrible choice for Magestad now and the subtle changes to Hammerang and Lightning Rod will definitely make Ability Power Falstad viable again.

Just Falstad!

Lightning Rod Bug

To verify the numbers in the spreadsheet, I double-checked values in Try Mode versus the target dummy in the bottom of the map. At level 16, an Overdrive’d Lightning Rod’s strikes (not the initial hit) for:

203, 231, 259, 288, 316, 344, 372.

Without talents and buffs Lightning Rod hits for 200 and 140 damage each second for 4 seconds afterwards. With Charged Up, Lightning Rod hits 7 times over that 4 seconds. With Thunderstrikes, Lightning Rod deals 20% increased damage with each consecutive hit.

Let’s look at the first hit of the Lightning Rod ability, 203.

With how we would assume Overdrive would work (+ 25% damage on all abilities), we would expect the first hit to hit for 140 × [1 .25 (Overdrive) + 0.2 (Thunderstrikes)] = 203. Before Thunderstrikes, we would see an Overdrive’d Lightning Rod DoT to hit for 175 each time in ticks. The additional 20% damage from Thunderstrikes would be 175 × 0.20 = 35 at this time and should be added to each consecutive hit. We would expect:

203, 238, 273, 308, 343, 378, 413.

In the current game client, the initial Lightning Rod tick hits for 140 × 1.25 = 175 damage, and we see a 28 damage increase per strike as 140 × 0.2 = 28 because of Thunderstrikes. We see the sequence 203, 231, etc. as it adds 20% of the initial value of Lightning Rod, not the buffed Overdrive value.

Even though Overdrive applies to the initial value of 140, it does not apply to the 20% increase provided by Thunderstrikes.

Falstad is losing 143 damage at level 16 and this number goes up as he levels up.

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