Everyone has an opinion about lock and load. It used to be the bread and butter of the trapdancing spec, and is now still an incredibly nice talent that’s well worth the points spent in it. What it does is proc from 20% of the ticks of black arrow outside its 22 second cooldown, providing you with a short window of time to fire off two explosive shots without causing a shot cooldown, taking ammo, or taking mana. In effect, you can fire three in a row. This post will go over how to use these procs.
I tell you to fire three explosive shots in a row. You think “This must be the easy part. Any primate with half a brain can press a button three times!” while furiously spamming explosive shot. This would be wrong! Because explosive shot is actually a 2 second damage over time effect that ticks three times, if you fire it every 1.5 seconds (as fast as you can), you will prevent the last tick of the DOT from hitting by overwriting it with a fresh explosive shot. There are two ways to deal with this. The right way that does the most DPS, and the wrong way that leaves DPS on the table.
The right way is to fire a shot every two seconds. As long as the flight time remains the same (neither you nor the boss move), you will be sure that all 9 ticks from all 3 shots will go off. In order to maximize your performance and reduce the chance of error, you might want to use some sort of addon to help you time this. I use Quartz, and I use a macro for explosive shot that looks like this:
/qt ESDot 2
/cast explosive shot
For the other stuff in my macro, see my relevant post.
The wrong way to use lock and load is to fire a shot (edit: other than kill shot, which has priority over all other actions) between free explosives. This is better than clipping the last tick, but not as good as firing your explosives every two seconds. The reason for this is that the earliest you can fire (for example) an aimed shot is 1.5 seconds after your first explosive shot, which then triggers another 1.5 second global cooldown. This means that you’re pushing your next explosive shot back by at least 1 second per “in between” shot, and that pushed back the next natural (neither locked nor loaded) explosive shot by at least two seconds. Waiting for half a second in between only costs you half a second per wait. Figure out the average damage per second, factoring in a 6 second cooldown, of your explosive shot, use that to calculate the loss of 1 second of it, and compare that to what you gained by an aimed shot and a steady. It’s never worth it.
Long story short:
- good = explosive, wait, explosive, wait, explosive.
- bad = explosive, aimed, explosive, steady, explosive.