DPS theory in RuneScape is fairly simple. You use basics to build up adrenaline, this game’s “energy” meter, then use thresholds/ultimates to use that up. Chaining together the right basics, thresholds, and occasionally ultimates will lead to the best DPS possible in the game. With the right setup and knowledge of the game, achieving the best possible DPS should be a piece of cake.
Some abilities benefit by being used right after another or under specific situations. Good examples are the 3 second abilities – Slice, Punish, Piercing Shot, and Wrack. Normally their damage is among the weakest in the game, but if your target is bound or stunned, damage is doubled, which can rival abilities like Sever and Dragonbreath in terms of pure damage! Slice’s damage buff is handled differently in that instead of just doubling damage, the ability range is changed to 80%-146%. In terms of pure averages this is the same damage as a boosted Punish, but with a lower maximum hit yet higher minimum hit, making it a good “finisher” move if on Slayer or something similar. Unfortunately, due to an update, Destroy/Rapid Fire/Asphyxiate’s stun/bind doesn’t last long enough for the 3 second abilities to be boosted, nor can basic stuns (except for Binding Shot in cases where you can bind the target, like Slayer or pets at Durzag). Only “deep” stuns last long enough to take advantage.
Then there’s others that speak for itself like using your damage boosting ultimate then moving up to thresholds ASAP.
Examples of ability combos are:
- Destroy/Rapid Fire/Asphyxiate (before fourth hit to quickly finish off Slayer mob) -> Slice/Punish/Piercing Shot/Wrack
- Binding Shot/Tight Bindings -> Piercing Shot -> ability -> Piercing Shot -> ability -> Piercing Shot (repeated infinitely until bind wears off)
- Forceful Backhand/Stomp/Deep Impact -> Slice/Punish/Wrack
- Berserk/Death’s Swiftness/Metamorphosis/Sunshine -> adrenaline potion -> strong basics -> strong thresholds
- Natural Instinct (during instances of damage-reduction) -> basics -> Berserk/Death’s Swiftness/Sunshine -> Hurricane/Snapshot/Wild Magic -> basics/thresholds -> Hurricane/Snapshot/Wild Magic
General Ability Rotations
Every style has a 3 second ability and a 5 second ability. In the beginning of EoC, it was best to spam those abilities the most over nearly every other basic ability. Today, that only applies to the 5 second abilities – in this case, Fury/Needle Strike/Dazing Shot/Concentrated Blast/Sonic Wave. Those abilities do a lot of damage for such a low cooldown, and it’s a very good idea to build a “core” rotation based around it. For example:
Needle Strike -> Snipe -> Fragmentation Shot -> Needle Strike -> Corruption Shot -> Binding Shot -> Needle Strike -> Piercing Shot -> Snipe -> Needle Strike
Ditto for Melee/Magic. Keep in mind, however, that this is only for those playing in full manual. Revolution is disadvantaged here due to the fact that it can’t make smart decisions in terms of ability rotation, limiting DPS potential unless you’re willing to override the abilities often.
Optimal Ultimate Rotation
The following spreadsheet shows the most optimal DPS rotation under a damage-boosting ultimate or Onslaught. However, keep in mind that it’s purely optimal with no interruptions at all. Otherwise, self explanatory here.
Due to the randomness of Impatient activating, it is not factored in the ability rotations. Additionally, Planted Feet’s timer extend will not be featured due to potential upcoming changes.
Balancing Healing and the Deeps
There are penalties to immediate healing from food and brews respectively: -10% adrenaline per bite of food and a 5 level debuff from a single sip of a brew. Both are devastating at the wrong times, so you should make sure you make the right decisions to balance between good DPS and keeping your state of well-being in check.
- You just laid down a damage-boosting ultimate and suddenly you’re knocked below half LP and very close to dying. Use brews sparingly until you hit your first threshold, then use food until you recover enough.
- You’re sitting at 100% adrenaline, waiting for an opening/abilities to come off cooldown. In this case, it’s best to not brew and instead just eat.
- A sudden attack sent you below half LP but you haven’t used a damage-boosting ultimate. Since you’re not in a position to really lay down a lot of DPS, it’s ok to eat both food and brews via combo-eating (eating a food and a brew at the same time).
- If you need to build up to 100% adrenaline as soon as possible, brew up a bit while playing it safe. Be ready to eat food if an upcoming special attack could potentially knock you off your feet.
It’s not all bad news though. While those two kinds of healing carry penalties, there are other sources of healing that are fortunately wasteless. However, they all have drawbacks of their own.
- Soul Split (and on that note, the vampyrism scrimshaw/aura) heals back damage proportional to your damage dealt. With very good DPS, this practically allows an endless reservoir of LP at almost all low/mid-level bosses. Using Soul Split, however, locks you out of protection prayers. That problem can be avoided by prayer flicking, or basically turning on Soul Split when a boss isn’t attacking for that time, then switching back to a protection prayer right as the boss starts to hit you again. That requires mastery of a boss and assurance in one’s own combat skills, though.
- The (Elite) Enhanced Excalibur restores 20% (40% if elite) of health for 20 (40 if elite) seconds every 5 minutes and it’s activated through a simple right-click from the inventory. Aside from the 5 minute cooldown, there is only one drawback to using it: if your phoenix necklace or portent/sign of life triggers, the Excalibur effect will be prematurely canceled. In addition, certain cutscenes and other random things prematurely cancel it, which are noted in the glitch library.
- Phoenix necklaces restore 30% of LP if you dip below 20% LP from anything. This is very safe and lossless, but it drawbacks to it is that it clears all of your accuracy boosts from the reaper necklace and it’s not a foolproof way to heal. If the boss one-hits you from 31%+ LP to zero, that phoenix necklace being there was for nothing.
- The bunyip familiar restores 2% LP every 15 seconds. As a comparison, this is as much as an Enhanced Excalibur every 5 minutes. This is pretty good, but it locks you out of other familiars like a pack yak, steel titan, or nihil.
Remember though: if you must, it’s better to eat immediately instead of risking death by not eating. Beginners at bosses have a lot of leeway in being able to eat/brew due to them taking in the boss, but experts set their area of leeway much lower as there are more things to keep track of, like their damage-boosting ult in relation with the boss’s special attacks and autoattacks while they manage their adrenaline/stats. Remember that while DPS is important, dead people can’t do damage, so always make sure you are safe or will be safe before attempting to deal good DPS.
Your own skill level sets the threshold of when you truly need to heal up or if you’re just fine. Do not attempt to take any unnecessary risks unless you really know what you’re doing (E.G. staying below 2k LP at RotS, but not eating and instead using a vampyrism scrimshaw and Soul Split to heal back up to full LP while running the Melee brothers).
- Always switch to a ring of vigour before using an ultimate (except for Onslaught). That extra 10% adrenaline does more than you think!
- If you’re using a 2h weapon, wait a tick before using your damage-boosting ultimate and let an autoattack slip by. This leads to more damage overall that outweighs the extra tick needed to fire off that autoattack.
- Should you be using Death’s Swiftness or Sunshine, try standing near the boss while using it so it takes the bleed damage. It adds up over time to around 150%-300% ability damage, which is quite a bit on top of the boosted damage. Keep in mind though, that in group PvM only the first Death’s Swiftness/Sunshine would work.
- Debuff spells are extremely potent! They are Vulnerability, Enfeeble, and Stagger. Each one lasts for 1 minute and carry very good effects: Vulnerability increases all damage by 10% (even bleeds), Enfeeble reduces damage the boss can deal by 10% (so it works on everyone), and Stagger reduces the boss’s accuracy by 10% (slightly helpful at Raids). Vulnerability speaks for itself, but Enfeeble/Stagger can help indirectly increase DPS due to not eating as much, although certain skill levels with Soul Split flicking can potentially make that redundant.
- Walk all of your bleeds (barring Dismember/Blood Tendrils) for increased damage! In some cases it can be impossible for this to happen (Queen Black Dragon/Yakamaru), but with a walked bleed, it becomes the most powerful basic/threshold (in case of Slaughter) to use. Do keep in mind, however, that using a bleed while another is already active will override it, canceling out any future potential damage that bleed could have caused. This makes bleeds not as good in group PvM, but in solo PvM they are your best abilities and should be prioritized over any other.
- Special attacks that can raise boss affinity like Statius’s warhammer and Guthix staff can drastically increase DPS due to higher accuracy. They’re not inefficient to use even in terms of pure damage since they can do decent damage by themselves (Guthix staff in particular can hit over 8k in Sunshine!) alongside increasing accuracy for 1 minute.
- Perks are so extremely important for DPS that there’s an entire page dedicated for you to say which perks to use.