Elemental damage


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Cindercoat provides +Fire% and reduced fire skill cost.

Elemental Damage is an item bonus property with much expanded importance in Diablo 3 version 2 and Reaper of Souls. The in-game terminology is always "____ skills deal X% more damage." which means that any skill rune with that type of damage will be boosted in total damage by the item.

The damage from Elemental damage bonuses (available on a variety of items) are added last in the damage calculation, after damage is determined by all the usual sources, chiefly skill property, mainstat, crit chance and crit damage, +damage gear, etc. Thus a player with +50% damage to one element would add literally 50% to their damage output when using a skill of that elemental damage type, taking a 1,000,000 crit up to 1,500,000 damage.

Elemental Damage Types[edit]

There are numerous types of damage in Diablo 3, but all item bonuses and skill effects are sorted into just seven types. They are:

  • Physical damage.
  • Arcane damage.
  • Cold damage.
  • Fire damage.
  • Holy damage.
  • Lightning damage.
  • Poison damage.

All skills and rune effects in Diablo 3 are classified into one of these types of damage, and only Skill Rune Effect(s) that matches the elemental damage type from the item affix receives the benefit.

Fire damage was by far the most useful at and shortly after Reaper of Souls' release, since it was found on many legendary items and several of the most powerful skill rune effects. The developers were aware of that, and in the first few patches after release they tweaked the elemental damage of numerous skills and runes to provide players with more options in matching their gear to their builds.)

Sheet DPS display

Sheet DPS[edit]

Though +elemental damage does *not* show in the character window (the "sheet DPS") it can be quite impactful, and for most players, adding 20% to the elemental damage of their main attack skill adds as much or more effective DPS than 10% critical hit chance or 75% critical hit damage. The exact benefits and values vary depending on play style, attack speed, and the relative level of other stats, but on the whole +elemental damage% is a very valuable stat. One many new players do not value properly, precisely since it does not get factored into the sheet DPS, and can only be seen by the pop up damage numbers or by judging relative kill speed in game.

Elemental Damage Availability[edit]

Items with bonuses to elemental damage are very valuable in Reaper of Souls, as they enable players to unlock much higher total damage than is possible with just the traditional trifecta and mainstat forms of attack. Those affixes are still essential even with elemental damage, but since the elemental damage multiplies the total sheet DPS, the total damage can be raised much higher with elemental bonuses.

All Elemental Damage[edit]

Only two item slots can roll elemental damage as a random affix. The bonus to any 1 type of elemental damage may appear as a random affix on any bracer or amulet. (Aside from a few legendary amulets where one type of elemental damage is inherent.)

  • Bracers (db): 15-20% any elemental damage from random affixes.
  • Amulet (db): 15-20% any elemental damage from random affixes.

Several legendary items always roll with 1 of the 7 types of elemental damage, randomly selected. These items are also listed in each damage type below for easier element by element reference.

Arcane Damage[edit]

Arcane damage is exclusively a Wizard damage type and nearly all the items dealing bonus Arcane damage are Wizard-only.

Cold Damage[edit]

Fire Damage[edit]

Lidless Wall can roll all elemental type.

Fire damage is not the most common bonus on items, but it's second to Lightning in frequency, and players feel that most of the best skills in the game hit for Fire damage.

Holy Damage[edit]

Holy damage type is mostly seen on Crusader and Monk skills.

Lightning Damage[edit]

Holy damage from a Golden Scourge Crusader flail.

The largest number of item types with +elemental damage give it to Lightning. Only the fact that more of the best/most popular skills in the game deal Fire damage keeps this from being the #1 elemental damage type. (Up to 290% Lightning Damage could be achieved, though a character would need to be multiple classes at once and wear up to 4 items in the same slot.)

Physical Damage[edit]

Physical damage is dealt by a number of skills and by most pets. Witch Doctors get the most benefit from physical damage bonuses, if they go with a heavy-summoning zookeeper build.

Poison Damage[edit]

Poison damage gets by far the least elemental damage bonuses from gear, and is fairly uncommon as a skill damage type as well. Players who want more of this damage type often joke that Blizzard assigns the bonuses alphabetically and thus there are none left by the time they finally get to Physical and then Poison.

Elemental Damage Balance[edit]

The utility and sheer number of items with each type of bonus is nowhere near balanced as of Patch 2.0.5 (May 2014.) There will never be total balance, since some elemental types are much more common than others, but the Diablo 3 developers have stated their goal to achieve a relatively equal balance between the elemental damage types.

At launch and up through Patch 2.0.5 Fire damage was the biggest of the damage types, followed closely by Lightning. Many patches at and after release have tweaked the skills damage types and item damage bonuses, and more are yet to come.