We're going to be doing a DPS and skill comparison between the five spammable skills currently available to the Magicka Nightblade PvE DPS as of the Stonethorn DLC or Update 27 patch. Due to buffs and other changes for the Stonethorn patch, Magicka Nightblade has risen to the top of the DPS food chain for 4 man content and 12 man raid compositions. With the rise in usage and popularity of Magicka Nightblades, I figured why not take a look at the five skills one can use as a Magicka Nightblade DPS and help you guys determine which is the best spammable skill in the available toolkit?
Let's take a look at the spammables fully buffed and leveled provided to us by Professor Skinny Cheeks and go over how they work:
Elemental Weapon - Psijic Guild skill, costs 2389 magicka to cast, 13,780 damage per cast on the tooltip plus we can't forget about the Spell Orb passive giving some damage from casting a Psijic skill.
Concealed Weapon - Nightblade ability, 14,821 damage on the tooltip, noticeably cheaper than Elemental Weapon at 2066 magicka cost per cast.
Swallow Soul - Nightblade ability, 13,780 damage on the tooltip and has a cost of 2430 magicka per cast.
Force Pulse - 13,326 damage on the tooltip per cast from this Destruction Staff ability and of course we can't forget about the secondary effects' damage plus the cleave. It has a cost of 2430 magicka per cast.
Arterial Burst - the magicka cost morph of the Vampiric spammable, 15,307 damage with an increase at lower health amounts, costs the least out of the five abilities at 1942 magicka per cast however due to the Vampire passive, we do get a 3% increase to the cost of all non-Vampire abilities at Stage 1 Vampire.
Before I explain how situational each skill can get and how they compare in actual raids, I want to show the numbers that Professor Rosskag got in a static environment on the Iron Atronach raid dummy. Rosskag performed five tests per spammable test to try to eliminate human error and as you guys can see, the damage is quite similar with a range of one to three thousand DPS between some of these skills.
Of course raid dummies aren't the end all be all as I will explain here shortly.
Note that the sustain differences you guys may experience parsing on the raid dummy may not even be existent in raids as again you do have more debuffs and buffs available to you in actual Trial environments. So for example while Concealed Weapon can be better sustain-wise on a dummy compared to Elemental Weapon, the sustain difference on a dummy is probably negligible in raids where you have Worm or Hollowfang or a much shorter boss fight duration compared to the dummy.
On that note, the two skills that will stick out to most of you guys for a comparison is going to be Concealed Weapon and Elemental Weapon in terms of numbers. It's very difficult to tell which of these two spammables is stronger because you can't tell how much Burning is contributed from Elemental Weapon.
An obvious assumption is to just say that the DPS of Burning is the average of Chilled and Concussed plus the 10% Engulfing Flames debuff but as we currently have many sources of Burning like Maw of the Infernal or a Flame Enchantment, it could be overridden.
And on paper, while the Spell Orb passive could edge Concealed Weapon out in terms of DPS, you have to take note that Spell Orb doesn't necessarily always hit bosses when there are adds, instead hitting adds or something else besides the boss.
Concealed Weapon in some fights for raid scenarios such as Archcustodian in Veteran Halls of Fabrication seem to also win out in terms of max DPS and averages compared to Elemental Weapon. Plus it's much easier to weave compared to Elemental Weapon but does require you to be melee. Yet one can't also forget about the fact that it's cheaper than Elemental Weapon which means you may be able to drop Siphoning Attacks as a Magblade DPS depending on the fights which would mean a free skill slot in fights where you are melee ranged.
In comparison to these two, Swallow Soul's DPS is noticeably less but just like Concealed Weapon, it is easier to weave than Elemental Weapon for most people and is less punishing when you do miss a light attack however you also have to remember that Swallow Soul does generate ultimate while healing you meaning for certain fights you could potentially get an extra Incapictating Strike or Soul Harvest and in places or with strategies that calls for you to be much more aggressive such as Veteran Cloudrest or Veteran Asylum Sanctorium, Swallow Soul shouldn't just be ignored simply because it pulls less DPS than Concealed or Elemental Weapon.
Moving onto Force Pulse, this skill will simply be better than Swallow Soul, Elemental Weapon and Concealed Weapon for when cleave damage needs to be involved and of course it's a ranged option if need be as well.
Last spammable to compare is Arterial Burst which is quite an oddity when you look at it after reviewing the other spammables. In terms of DPS or damage, Arterial Burst is quite comparable to Concealed Weapon or Elemental Weapon and yes it is quite cheaper in magicka cost per cast compared to any of the other spammables however you do get a cost increase to non-Vampire abilities like Blockade, Cripple, Mystic Orb, Siphoning Attacks, Shade, whatever which can be noticeable on both a raid dummy and in raids.
Another downside of this much like Concealed Weapon depending on the fights is that you have to be melee to use it so again depends on content, positioning and strategy.
One thing I would like to note for you guys to keep an eye out for is next patch when Update 28 or Markarth DLC rolls out with one of the two new Mythics called Ring of the Pale Order which may mean a return of the other morph of Arterial Burst, Blood for Blood as the mythic allows you to heal for 15% of the damage caused as of Week 2 on the Markarth Public Test Server.
So we will see what happens with that mythic and Blood for Blood potentially should Magicka Nightblade DPS remain relevant for some groups.