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Thread: GWM Reference Table

20140924, 01:39 PM (ISO 8601)
 Join Date
 Apr 2011
GWM Reference Table
The table below is intended as a reference to help determine when it is advantageous to use GWM or Sharpshooter. At the base damage levels indicated on the table, you do the exact same average damage whether you use the feats or not. If your base average damage is higher than the number on the table, then using either feat will decrease your average applied damage. If your base average damage is lower than the number on the table, then using either feat will increase your average applied damage.
Derivation
The numbers on the table were derived by comparing the proportional change in chance to hit represented by the 5 penalty to the proportional change in damage represented by the +10 bonus. The change in average applied damage is exactly equal to the product of these two ratios. Accordingly, the values on the table are the base average damage values where the product of the two ratios is equals 1.
For example: if a character needs to roll an 11 to hit before GWM (without adv/disadv), use of the feat decreases the chance to hit from 50% to 25%, cutting the character’s chance to hit in half. Accordingly, the feat must also double the base average damage or else it will change the average applied damage. Since GWM always adds a flat +10 damage bonus, it will only double the base average damage if that base is also 10.
Simplified, the formula to calculate the numbers on the table is:
10/(1/([Chance to Hit With Penalty]/[Chance to Hit Without Penalty])1)
Important Note
This table only considers maximizing average applied damage. Tactical considerations, such as facing a foe with minimal remaining hit points or a foe with various healing options, might present different criteria for deciding whether or not to use GWM or Sharpshooter.
Using the Table
Calculate your base average damage, including all nonGWM/Sharpshooter sources of damage on a hit, such as the Paladin’s Smite, the Warlock’s Hex, and other sources of extra damage. Any proportional changes to damage (such as a target taking half damage due to resistance) can be ignored so long as they apply equally to all your damage. If the target has any effects (such as Heavy Armor Master) that decrease damage by a fixed amount, subtract that amount from your base average damage before using the table.
Next, find that base average damage in the “normal” column and look on the left to find the corresponding base roll. Against targets easier to hit, using GWM or Sharpshooter will be beneficial to your average applied damage. Against targets harder to hit, using GWM or Sharpshooter will be detrimental. Repeat the process for Advantage and Disadvantage.
Spoiler: Example 1Fred the fighter has an 18 strength and wields a longsword. His base average damage is 8.5 (4.5 from the 1d8 weapon, 4 from strength). From the table he sees that when he doesn’t have advantage or disadvantage, he should only use GWM against targets who can only be hit on an 11 or better. When he has advantage, that improves to include targets that can only be hit on a 12 or better. When he has disadvantage, however, he should only use GWM against targets that can only be hit on a 5 or better.
Spoiler: Example 2Patty the paladin also has an 18 strength and wields a longsword, but plans on using a first level spell to smite for an additional 2d8 damage. Her base average damage is therefore 17.5 (4.5 weapon, 4 strength, 9 smite). From the table she sees that when she doesn’t have advantage or disadvantage, she should only use GWM against targets that can only be hit on a 7 or better. When she has advantage, that improves to include targets that can only be hit on an 8, 9, and 10 or better. When she has disadvantage, however, she shouldn’t ever use GWM: her base damage is just too high.
(Technically, should Patty ever face a foe whose AC is equal to or lower than her attack bonus (i.e. she’d “hit” on a theoretical roll of zero) then using GWM would be advantageous, as indicated on the expanded table in the spoiler below.)
Update 10/13/2014: Here's an expanded table including the unusual cases where you'd hit on a roll of 1 or less were it not for the 1=automatic failure rule.Spoiler: Expanded Table
Update 7/11/2016: Here are two new tables I created for a discussion in another thread that may be of use:
Spoiler: Table: Change in expected damage per attack using GWM or Sharpshooter
Spoiler: Table: Change in expected damage per attack using GWM or Sharpshooter, with AdvantageLast edited by Xetheral; 20200318 at 12:05 PM. Reason: updated links to new image host

20141013, 03:37 AM (ISO 8601)
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 May 2007
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 Somewhere you're not
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Re: GWM Reference Table
I don't understand how you arrived at these numbers.
It would seem to me for example that if you need a 18 to hit, you have 15% chance to do so, if you take a 5 to hit, you need a 20, or 5% chance. Should the max avr, damage before gwm not be (15/5)*10=3.33? Similarly for hitting on a 19 with disadvantage, you'd have (0.1)^2 chance to hit before gmw, and (0,05)^2 after, should your max avr. damage not be 1/4*10=2.5?
Am I missing something here or are your numbers wrong?
Edit:
scrap that, I understand now, I'd need to multiply with the total damage after gwm to get the correct numbers, not just the bonus dmg from gmw.

20141013, 03:53 AM (ISO 8601)
 Join Date
 Sep 2014
Re: GWM Reference Table
(0.1)^2 is the average chance of rolling a success with either die. This is not your overall success chance, because sometimes you will roll a success with both dice. Although two successes have been rolled, it only counts as a single success.
The number you're looking for is 1  (1  0.1)^2Last edited by Strill; 20141013 at 03:55 AM.

20141013, 03:59 AM (ISO 8601)
 Join Date
 Apr 2011
Re: GWM Reference Table
The table lists the breakpoints. That is, if without GWM your average damage equals the number on the table, then using GWM provides identical average applied damage as not using GWM.
With that in mind, let's check my work...
Need to roll an 18: A 15% chance to hit for 5 damage is the same as a 5% chance to deal (5+10) damage, so the table value of 5 is correct.
Need to roll a 19 w disadvantage: A 1% chance to deal 3.33 damage is .0333 average applied damage. A .25% chance to deal (3.33+10) damage is also .0333 average applied damage, so the table value of 3.33 is correct.
So it looks like the table values (at least the ones you chose) are correct. (Although the methodology on all of them is identical.)
Lets consider your proposed formula instead. If the table value for Needtoroll 18 were 3.33, that would mean that a 15% chance of dealing 3.33 damage (0.4995) should equal a 5% chance of dealing 13.33 damage (0.6665). In fact, if your attack without GWM would deal 3.33 average damage, you're better off using Sharpshooter, so 3.33 can't be the breakpoint.
Let me try a different way of describing it: for GWM to be good tactical choice, the proportional increase in damage represented by the +10 damage must exceed the proportional decrease in chance to hit. Does that help the table make sense?
Edit: Didn't notice your edit before posting! Glad it makes sense now.Last edited by Xetheral; 20141013 at 04:04 AM.

20141013, 04:03 AM (ISO 8601)
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 Apr 2011

20141017, 08:57 AM (ISO 8601)
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 Sep 2014
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 Spain
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Re: GWM Reference Table
Can you post the original spreadsheet file?
I want to subtract the +Atribute to damage and leave only the "weapon damage".
Thanks to your work I see clearly that GWM is less desirable in attacks with large bonuses to damage as cleric (+ 2D8 / +9 average ), i want to test with other classes.

20141017, 09:39 AM (ISO 8601)
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 Feb 2013
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 The Netherlands
Re: GWM Reference Table
So I just add any bonus damage of abilities like Smite on top of the average damage, correct? Took me a while to notice the "This is the maximum average damage per hit you can do before using GWM is not beneficial for you".
Also; doesn't extra/higher weapon damage dice change these calculations when taking criticals into account?Last edited by Ferrin33; 20141017 at 09:42 AM.

20141017, 03:45 PM (ISO 8601)
 Join Date
 Apr 2011
Re: GWM Reference Table
The spreadsheet is part of a large, clunky spreadsheet that I use for 5e notes. Maybe at some point I'll extract the GWM part into a cleaner sheet that's easy to share. In the meantime, here's the data from the chart in a forum table. You should be able to copy and paste straight into Excel or another spreadsheet program. The formula used to derive the data is: 10/(1/([Chance to Hit With Penalty]/[Chance to Hit Without Penalty])1).
Spoiler: data in text table
Roll Needed Adv Normal DisAdv 3 Any Any Any 2 1320 180 87.5676 1 488.75 85 40.1389 0 256 53.3333 24.381 1 156.25 37.5 16.5441 2 104 28 11.8788 3 78 26 10.9032 4 61.0909 24 9.931 5 49.0769 22 8.963 6 40 20 8 7 32.8235 18 7.0435 8 26.9474 16 6.0952 9 22 14 5.1579 10 17.7391 12 4.2353 11 14 10 3.3333 12 10.6667 8 2.4615 13 7.6552 6 1.6364 14 4.9032 4 0.8889 15 2.3636 2 0.2857 16 2.8676 2.5 0.4167 17 3.7143 3.3333 0.6667 18 5.4167 5 1.25 19 10.5405 10 3.3333 20 Any Any Any
Glad I could help! Given how low the numbers are, I have the distinct impression that just about any source of bonus damage is going to make GWM nonoptimal against any except the lowest ACs. Given that it is harder to get ranged bonus damage, however, Sharpshooter might see more use.
Yes, just add in the average bonus damage.
Thanks for the feedback! Should I rewrite the introduction to be clearer? Any suggestions?
To my understanding, you crit on a natural 20 even if your attack bonus was low enough that 20+attack bonus is still less than the enemy AC. Accordingly, using GWM doesn't impact that chance to crit. Since the 10 extra damage from GWM isn't multiplied on a crit, GWM doesn't impact the damage on a crit either. So GWM is completely transparent to the 5e crit mechanics, including bonuses that trigger on a crit.

20141017, 06:59 PM (ISO 8601)
 Join Date
 Feb 2013
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 The Netherlands
Re: GWM Reference Table
The more of your damage comes from more/higher damage dice, the greater the impact at lower chances to hit.
Examples to simulate what I mean;
5d8+5(27.5) hitting on a 19+ = 27.5 + 50 / 10
3d8+14(27.5) hitting on a 19+ = 27.5 + 41 / 10
Same average damage without taking crits into account, but the lower chance to hit benefits the multiple damage dice a lot more due to critical hits. Honestly I have no idea if this meaningfully impacts your calculations, but it's a thought that popped up in my head.

20141203, 02:19 AM (ISO 8601)
 Join Date
 Apr 2011

20141203, 02:20 AM (ISO 8601)
 Join Date
 Apr 2011
Re: GWM Reference Table
The OP now has a new explanation section to hopefully make the table easier to understand. Feedback is welcome.

20141203, 05:10 PM (ISO 8601)
 Join Date
 Feb 2014
Re: GWM Reference Table
Running the numbers, it would appear using Sharpshooter is virtually always better than not using it.
Example:
For a longbow user, the average damage is increased by sharpshooter so long as the adjusted ACs do not reside in the range of 1417 (1517 with adv, 1019 with dis). Because proficiency is required, the actual ACs would be 1619; 1719 with adv, 1221 with dis.
For a +3 magic longbow user with max deterity, the ranges are actually better, with adjusted ACs of 1019, 1219 adv, 219 dis (actual AC would be: 2029, adv 2229, dis 1229)
The key point being that, almost always, to hit scales up with damage increases. For a level 20 character with archery style, +5 dex mod and a +3 longbow, for anything with an AC of 26 or below, it would be better to use Sharpshooter than not. If I am recalling correctly, that means there are no enemies it would be worse to use Sharpshooter on.
Note: This does not apply to rogues because of sneak attack dice.
Also, calculations change for Champion with GWM because they have an increased crit range and GWM grants a bonus attack on crit.

20141205, 02:38 PM (ISO 8601)
 Join Date
 Sep 2014
Re: GWM Reference Table
well i had this feat with a paladin i used, and i always thought it kinda sucked balls, because, frankly, when do you get a 10/13 ac monster in front of you? thats right, never, im playing three tables and never i have found a monster with less than 14ac even at level 1, and i did encounter lots of monsters with 20+ ac. (and none of my tables are over lvl 7)

20141206, 03:43 AM (ISO 8601)
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Re: GWM Reference Table

20141207, 12:26 AM (ISO 8601)
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 Sep 2014

20160307, 04:32 AM (ISO 8601)
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 Oct 2013
Re: GWM Reference Table
Sweet, pure gold. Thanks for the work.
I am still using it completely wrong however.
Lets give you an insight into my head, so you can fix it:
Monster AC at 14:
Paladin, GWMPAM
+6 to hit (No buffs, no masterwork weapons)
1st attack with a glaive, he hits for: 1d10 (7) + 3str = 10 (11 on the table)
2nd attack with the butt end: 1d4 (3) + 3 str = 6 (13 on the table)
At 10.00 dmg, he should only use GWM if he hits the target at a 11 or better (Check:11+6=17= use GWM)
At 06.00 dmg, he should only use GWM if he hits the target at a 13 or better (Check:13+6=19= use GWM)
Lets add some smiting in there:
1st attack: 10 + 2d8 (9) = 19 (6 on the table)
2nd attack: 6 + 2d8 (9) = 15 (9 on the table)
At 19.00 dmg he should only use GWM if he hits the target at a 6 or better (Check:6+6=12= no GWM)
At 15.00 dmg he should only use GWM if he hits the target at a 9 or better (Check: 9+6=15= use GWM)
How wrong am I? I have the feeling I am completely misunderstanding this. LogicCheck me!Last edited by Dimcair; 20160307 at 05:53 AM.

20160308, 01:09 AM (ISO 8601)
 Join Date
 Apr 2011
Re: GWM Reference Table
That all looks correct to me, but let's doublecheck by calculating for this specific circumstance.
With a +6 to hit against a monster with AC 14 you have a 13/20 chance of hitting. With GWM that drops to 8/20. So your chance of hitting with GWM is 8/13 as much as it would have been without using the feat. That means that for GWM to be beneficial, the 10 extra damage from the feat must increase your damage to at least 13/8 of what it would have been. Thus, that 10 damage must be at least 5/8 of your normal base damage, which is only true if your base damage is no more than 16.
This exactly fits what you looked up from the table: use GWM for each of the options where your base damage is less than 16, which is all except the mainhand smite. (Note that at 15 average damage for the PAM smite, the net benefit from using GWM will be very low, but still positive.)

20160308, 04:39 AM (ISO 8601)
 Join Date
 Oct 2013
Re: GWM Reference Table
That means I may want to pass on GWM if the target is likely to die, just as long as I hit.
Thanks for checking up on it. I honestly do not understand why any ClassGuides that talk about GWM as an option do not incorporate this table.
I will make sure to suggest linking this thread whenever it fits!