+gun damage diminishing returns: how does it work?

So I recently posted a Moze build and a recurring theme in the build from skills and gear selected is +gun damage. However, I assume there is some diminishing returns on more and more +gun damage but not sure how it works or at what point it becomes pointless to add more. I looked in some of Prismatic’s threads about BL3 math but didn’t see anything specific to this.

Anyone know more about how the math works with this or maybe a thread/post that already goes over this?

Diminishing returns are probably best shown off with a couple of examples.

Lets take a splash gun with 100 damage. With no buffs it will deal 100 damage.

If you add 20% gun damage then you’ll be doing

100 x 1.2 = 120

You didn’t have gun damage previously so there was no diminishing returns and so your total damage went up by 20%. If you add 30% gun damage now you’ll be dealing:

100 x (1.2 + 0.3) = 150%

Here because you already had gun damage you suffered diminishing returns and gained only 25% total, even though the boost you added was 30%.

For a general you can find the total increase you get by saying

Total Increase = Total after boost / Total before boost - 1

So in our above example we plug in the gun damage before boost and the one after boost.

Total increase = (1.5 / 1.2) - 1 = 0.25

Which taken as a % is 25% which we saw.

This has the consequence that if you have 100% of a boost then any further boosts of the same type are half as effective. Lets take a Blast Master example. A splash gun with 100 damage and Blast Master does:

100 x 2 = 200

If we add a 40% splash damage boost you get:

100 x 2.4 = 240

Which is a 20% increase to your total damage.

Now onto the question of how much is too much?

Diminishing returns aren’t an issue on their own. 1000 damage in isolation is always better than 999 damage. If boosts of 1 type are the only thing available then get as much of them as you can.

The lesson to diminishing returns is to not over invest. If we think on that Blast Master example, consider that if we took 26% weapon damage roll on a class mod instead of the 40% splash then we get:

100 x 1.26 x 2 = 252

We get better damage from the gun damage in this example because it didn’t suffer diminishing returns. Whereas the 40% splash would have.


Great info thanks. I guess it’s a bit tough to figure out when it’s too much when you have numerous skills all being activated in different ways and at different times. Not sure how you would determine if some of these skills are just overkill on weapon damage or not and in some cases there aren’t really great alternatives anyway.

This is the list of skills that boost my gun damage:

Armored Infantry : full time 15% gun damage while shields active (always active).
Drowning in Brass : adding 20% gun damage per stack.
Desperate Measures : with +3 on your CoM this will give you full time +100% gun damage.
Phalanx Doctrine : CoM likely provides at least +1 in this so with 6/5 in this another 12% gun damage per stack.
Tenacious Defense : Utilizing the Snowshoe + Snowdrift you can continually deplete your shield (and instantly refill it) which triggers TD and gives another +30% gun damage pretty much full time.
Scrappy : 30% weapon damage while moving.

Since then I have also added 2/3 in Click Click which adds even more gun damage but hard to tell how much at any given time. It would be nice to be able to diversify the damage more or at least know if for example Tenacious D is just not doing enough to justify the point so better spent on shields or mag size or something.

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Short of doing a ton of full build damage calcs its hard to really know. A lot of the time its best to just experiment and see how it feels in practice, because as you allude to its hard to pin down a number and say this is how much gun damage I have while in combat.

I personally don’t think TD is worth it for the gun damage, you already have a ton of it from SOR, though I do believe the shield restore is worth it.

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Yeah. I think that is true. However, it puts into serious question the value of Click Click which is sketchy in the best of circumstances considering mag size, overheating and not being able to maintain that to maximize the bonus anyway. I also need to test if the auto-refill of the Snowshoe effect is counteracting the shield gain of TD. If so, then that point is possibly not well spent, either.

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Been using a lot of your math breakdowns Prismatic. Keep up the good work.

Even if it still takes me 2 hours and 4 pieces of paper to calc out how much my mindsweeper grenades should be doing lol

While you are here, could you tell me how exactly the Pearl factors into the equation? Is the 90% included in v1, v2, or its own separate category?

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I’ll refer you to what I said in my Gearology post on it.

Edit: Whoops some of the formatting didn’t carry over. The exponent should now show for the stack bonus.

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Must have missed that part. Thanks for the fast reply.

Yea, I knew about the values of the calculation, just wasn’t sure of its exact placement in the formula. I guess that doesn’t matter if the 16.2% is multiplicative wherever it is. Just wish gearbox could be a bit more transparent about these things…

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Just in case anyone was wondering…I just tested the instant refill effect of sliding with Frozen Snowshoe Shield with a Deathless Artifact and Tenacious D and TD is definitely working well with the shield. I thought it was but wasn’t sure how consistent.

With a 60k shield size and 1hp when I slide into enemies my shield goes down to around 26k then refills from there (instead of all the way down). I tested this about 10-12 times and only once did this not work. I assume it was just bad timing where I took a lot of damage right as my shield depleted but regardless…these pair really well together considering 26K is a much safer buffer with only 1hp! So the gun damage may not be that beneficial due to diminishing returns but the shield effect definitely is.

Back to the OP topic…wouldn’t it be nice if GB added some sort of effect HUD? So (if you wanted to toggle it on) you could view various stats in real time? Like crit chance, gun damage etc…? Even if they would just make an event log that could be exported or viewed I bet fans could come up with something like that much like they have for MMOs like WoW.

I still feel calling it a diminishing return is a bit misleading. You are still getting the full 30% but just off the base gun damage instead of stacking or compounding.

So if I have 7 different modifiers and each one gives 30% I am going to receive 210% damage increase. None of them have diminished they just arent boosting the other boosts.

I know that it might just be arguing semantics and I love the explanation and the work done on the math and all. Thank you for that.

Of course I could also be wrong or misunderstanding something. Frankly I still have no idea how some of my weapons can end up doing 800 million one shot and 800k the next.

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I’ll be the first to agree its semantics that I’m about to debate. However its a bit of fun and I feel like clarifying why I don’t mind the term being used loosely.

We talk about diminishing returns when discussing min maxing a characters damage, I don’t think anyone considering damage is concerned about the isolated effect of each modifier. Its the effect that it has on the overall damage that is in question. Hence our point of comparison is naturally the final damage we deal.

An argument could be made that we should say “diminishing returns with respect to overall damage,” however when there isn’t relevancy to the individual contributions of each buff its over complicating the matter for no gain.

Mathematical work done for a video game is at its best when its minimally complex. Not everyone will study or even have a mind to read an entire post on a math topic. So to implant distinctions that have no relevance will confuse people when they skim the post looking for important info.

A similar argument that I very much support being precise and disclaiming what we’re comparing to is the use of additive and multiplicative. Here the terms are used in reference to many terms and context depending can give false information.


I still just have a lot of trouble figuring which modifier goes when and which ones are added to what sometimes.

For instance, let us say I have a dahl smg that does 1000x2 splash.
It has an element of fire that does 1000 with 100% chance.
It also has an anoint with 300% when above 90.
My shield has a 50% radiation ASE.
My Grenade has when thrown 25% weapon damage.
Class mod has Dahl 25%, SMG 25% and radation 25%
Artifact has Weapon damage 25%, splash 25% and fire 25%
Skills give me bonuses to damage of 100% and gun damage of 100% and status damage of 100%.

Assuming everything is activated, where the heck do you start to figure this mess out?

If you are not interested in wading through all that, no problems, but it gives me headaches to figure what is affecting what and when. Makes me wish the jack standee was more accurate and or let you see elemental damage as well.

I have no problem with shorthand to save on typing / reading / attention spans. As long as the shorthand doesnt confuse people as to what is going on.

Yeah. They could greatly improve that target dummy. Like give it a finite amount of health so we could kill it and it could give DPS feedback. Like give it 5k health so you could use skills and see how fast you can kill it…it would return some DPS number. Then you could make skill or weapon changes and do it again to compare.

I created a thread topic about this same issue earlier. I think the ideal option would be a text breakdown of the last 20 or so instances of damage. It could point out the sources of the damage and what element they are.


Gun bullet damage: 10000 corrosive
Bonus damage from annoint: 15000 radiation
Bonus damage from shield: 5000 cryo

Perhaps this could be done by putting a computer screen near the firing range. Press Q to access, pops up and shows you the damage breakdown. Just some wishful thinking.

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