Home Strategy Choosing your rune: Hungry, hungry arrows

In its attempts to create a more balanced gameplay experience, Blizzard created hot-swappable skill runes that would offer you, the player, a variety of balanced offensive and defensive options. The goal, of course, was to remove the cookie-cutter nature of Diablo 2’s skillsets, instead giving gamers a slew of separate (but equal) choices.

My immediate goal became, predictably, to discern which runes were the best, banishing the rest into the junk drawer forever. Today, we’ll look at Hungering Arrow and find out which iteration feeds your foes damage the fastest.

 

Hungering Arrow – the basics

If you own Diablo 3, have a Demon Hunter, and somehow don’t know what Hungering Arrow does, here’s the breakdown:

Fire a magically imbued arrow that seeks out targets for 115% weapon damage and has a 35% chance to pierce through targets. Generates 3 hatred.

It’s essentially Guided Arrow from Diablo 2, except it’s not free to use and includes an innate Pierce bonus. It’s a powerful primary attack since it can’t miss and can, in fact, hit your enemy more than one time (though pierce counts greater than two will be rare).

Now, I can’t tell you what makes this arrow so hungry. But I can explain how much damage each variety of Hungering Arrow will do, given a few reasonable assumptions (arrows will rarely pierce four or more times, there will usually be a target for pierced arrows to hit). I’ve performed a lot of rounding, but if you find a significant flaw in my mathematics, let me know!

For each rune, I’ll lay out quickly estimated calculations for the total damage output and likelihood of that occurence, multiplying them to determine the average damage you can expect. Let’s look at the skill’s base results:

Hungering Arrow default

  • Initial hit: 100% chance of 115% damage (115% total, 115% average)
  • 1st pierce: 35% chance of 115% damage (230% total, 155% average)
  • 2nd pierce: 12% chance of 115% damage (345% total, 169% average)
  • 3rd pierce: 4.3% chance of 115% damage (460% total, 175% average)

Now let’s examine how each rune impacts Hungering Arrow’s value to Sanctuary’s Demon Hunters.

 

Puncturing Arrow

Puncturing Arrow increases the chance of your arrow piercing to 50%. While this may seem trivial, it’s actually a significant boost, taking your projectile’s bonus from a roughly 1-in-3 occurrence to a more favorable 1-in-2 coin flip.

Puncturing Arrow

  • Initial hit: 100% chance of 115% damage (115% total, 115% average)
  • 1st pierce: 50% chance of 115% damage (230% total, 173% average)
  • 2nd pierce: 25% chance of 115% damage (345% total, 201% average)
  • 3rd pierce: 12.5% chance of 115% damage (460% total, 216% average)
  • 4th pierce: 6.2% chance of 115% damage (575% total, 223% average)

While Puncturing Arrow has no effect on the initial hit or total damage of your hungry, hungry, attacks, the difference in average performance is immediately clear following the (now more likely) first pierce. Because your bolts will more often make it into another demon, the average damage is dramatically higher, hitting upwards of 223% average from just one shot! Additionally, it’s also feasible your attacks will pierce four times, with one in fifteen arrows accomplishing this feat.

Pros: Is more reliable, will proc on-hit effects frequently
Cons: Low per-shot damage, no additional utility


Cinder Arrow

Cinder Arrow lets loose a flaming projectile that deals an extra 35% fire damage to your targets over 3 seconds (150% total). My immediate reaction is that this is both a large up-front boost and a liability against fire-resistant enemies. Here’s what the numbers say.

Cinder Arrow

  • Initial hit: 100% chance of 150% damage (150% total, 150% average)
  • 1st pierce: 35% chance of 150% damage (300% total, 203% average)
  • 2nd pierce: 12% chance of 150% damage (450% total, 221% average)
  • 3rd pierce: 4.3% chance of 150% damage (600% total, 227% average)

At every hit, including the initial blow, Cinder Arrow is more likely to do more damage than both Hungering Arrow and Puncturing Arrow. Adding guaranteed damage is always good, especially since the majority of attacks (65%) won’t end up piercing. That said, it’s important to keep in mind this ability will do less damage than shown vs smaller groups, since burning will reset, but won’t stack, upon new applications.

Pros: High up-front damage, high per-target damage
Cons: Weak against fire-resistant enemies, burning can’t stack

 

Scatter Shot*

An attack with more flair, Scatter Shot splits your arrow into three projectiles upon the first (and only first) pierce. One of these split arrows can pierce again, but won’t trigger additional Scatter Shot explosions. The mathematics on this one aren’t as straightforward, so I’ll break them down in as simple of a manner as possible.

Scatter Shot

  • Initial hit: 100% chance of 115% damage (115% total, 115% average)
  • 1st pierce: 35% chance of 345% damage (460% total, 236% average)
  • 2nd pierce: 12% chance of 115% damage (475% total, 250% average)
  • 3rd pierce: 4.3% chance of 115% damage (590% total, 255% average)

Initial shots are still weak, but 35% of the time, your arrows will multiply into a 345% damage bonus (3 arrows at 115%). Right off the bat, this blows all other options away at the first pierce damage level. And since one of these projectiles flying has its own 35% chance to murder something, the DPS adds up fast.

Pros: Extremely high first pierce damage potential, will proc on-hit effects frequently
Cons: Poor up-front damage, scatter pattern bad on some maps

 

Devouring Arrow

More famished than the rest, Devouring Arrow boosts damage 70% every time you pierce a target (but falls back to the default when you don’t). Contrary to my initial understanding of this rune, Rabid Ferret explained the extra DPS actually goes into your next attack, not the next pierce of your current arrow. This makes it even stronger, since you could potentially hit more enemies with your newly powered-up projectile.

Devouring Arrow

  • 1st arrow: 100% chance of 115% damage, then 35%, 12%, and 4.3% chance of 115% damage
    (460% total, 174% average)
  • 2nd arrow: 35% chance of +70% damage, then 12%, and 4.3% chance of 185% damage
    (900% total, 228% average)
  • 3rd arrow: 12% chance of +140% damage, then 4.3% chance of 255% damage
    (1295% total, 256% average)
  • 4th arrow: 4% chance of +210% damage
    (1505% total, 264% average)

Obviously I’ve had to simplify things a little bit, chopping off all projectiles with odds under 4.3% off of my calculations. When the dust (and my weary brain) settled, the results were encouraging. With enough luck, it’s possible to pump out absurd levels of damage, and even average chances give greater returns than Puncturing and Cinder Arrow.

Pros: Potential for absolutely massive damage
Cons: Inconsistent high/low results, weak initial shot

 

Spray of Teeth

Unlike other effects that center on piercing, Spray of Teeth triggers a 50% area of effect burst whenever your shots crit. Mind you, that’s 50% of your gigantic critical hit damage, which starts at 200% and rises based on equipment and other modifiers. To that effect, there are almost too many variables to calculate the theoretical utility of this skill, since it depends on your crit chance, your crit bonus, the number of pierced shots that occur, and the number of enemies in the area of effect for each explosion. Even I’m not dorky enough to calculate all of that.

That said, a 5% chance to do 100% damage to three targets (using rough figures) would be a 15% damage increase across the board. Fairly conservative. If you could get your crit rate up to 20%, with a 150% damage bonus, that’d be a 90% damage boost… much more impressive. Of course, there’s no way to know how often you’ll be hitting multiple enemies near your initial target, so the skill (like all crit-based abilities) is a bit of a gamble.

Pros: Extra damage non-reliant on piercing, potential for huge gains
Cons: Requires investment in crit boosts, requires enemies in AOE

 

Summary

If pure DPS was the only consideration, Devouring Arrow would be the winner.

With nearly 265% average weapon damage per shot (with a theoretical 1500% total), Devouring Arrow tears through demons with the burning fury of… well… I guess one hungry-ass missile. That’s certainly nothing to scoff at as far as Hatred-generating abilities go. And in my theorycrafting, only Scatter Shot came close, at 255% average carnage per volley.

Of course, there are limitations many limitations and variables. In other words, it’s certainly possible to conceive of situations where, say, Cinder Arrow outperforms Devouring Arrow. Against a single monster in a tight indoor area, the upfront force of Cinder Arrow would pay off more than an inconsistent projectile that might hit barriers. It’s also possible to imagine Spray of Teeth doing better against tightly packed crowds, assuming a few boosts to your critical hit stats.

But you didn’t come here for nuanced analysis, did you? You came here for the best skill, and, on average, Devouring Arrow will slightly outperform other variants of Hungering Arrow. Consider your hunger for knowledge satiated.

Of course, this doesn’t mean Devouring Arrow is the best primary skill, the best single-target skill, or even a good skill at all. But it does mean it’s a safe bet for Demon Hunters who want to take the “aiming” and “timing” out of their execution-style exorcisms.

Stay tuned for more Demon Hunter analysis from both me and Rabid Ferret as we delve deeper into the depths of development detective work on Diablo 3.

* This section has been updated to better reflect the spray pattern of Scatter Shot.

9 replies to this post
  1. Ray of Frost next please (:3)
    In the end of the day you need one skill set for mobs and one for bosses; if you end up analyzing every skill, make a T³ build recommended skill build post !!~

    • Just adding up
      I think that the DH with focus on traps (engineer DH) and whatnot has a lot of potential. This is what I came up with:
      Grenades(Gas Grenade)
      Smoke Screen(Choking Gas)/Vault(Rattling Roll)
      Sentry(Spitfire)
      Spike Trap(Scatter/Long Fuse)
      Cluster Arrow(Shooting Stars)
      Multishot(Arsenal)
      Custom Engineering/Grenadier/Ballistics as passives.

  2. Heyho!
    Nice article! But concerning devouring arrows: the calculation there is just plane wrong – even the tooltip says “each consecutive pierce” not “the next arrow”. I’ve tried that stuff now for quite some time and with no gear on and could not see any “buff” for the next arrow. The pierces, however, DID a fair amount of increased dmg.
    I’d recommend reviewing that, please ;)

    Regards!

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