Looking to and through Tension Bow

(old pic)

So this is the first item part of this little series and I wanted to cover an ridiculously broken item known as Tension Bow. This has a lot of Math in it so be patient please. What does Tension bow do?

Every 6 seconds you will do, on your next basic attack, an extra 240 damage. It increase base damage by 60 and has 10% armor pierce.:thinking:

This is gonna be short and sweet by the way. Why does it seem like SMEC can’t do math? Atleast to me it seems like that. Every six seconds with Tension Bows 60+ bonus base damage and you are doing 240 extra damage. 240+60 is 300, 2 sorrow blades worth of damage in one shot. Thats not even including the extra 10% armor pierce you are doing. Well do damage in between that tension bow, well before you could but now not so much.

Tension Bow costs 2150
Sorrow Blade costs 3100

That is a 950 gold difference, so while you have your heavy steel +55 and Six Sins +30 (total 85) He just got a Tension bow and even though he does 25 less base damage that 2 free Sorrow Blades will hit and destroy you. And if he farmed for a little more and you got that sorrow blade he might have bought a Heavy Steel giving him +55 more damage. Then he has a total +115 base damage increase. So now he’s only 35 damage behind you which helps you but that first double sorrow blade will cost you the fight. It’s so strong you’ll rarely see any weapon carry without one.

This item on hero named Gwen makes any decent Gwen player just super annoying to face because you know they’re gonna get tension bow and you know they’re gonna do so much damage. I don’t know I feel like buffing Tension Bow a 60 damage buff is really high. They’re nerfing it’s damage by 10 to make it 50 but if they want a bursty weapon item maybe have it like 40.

Here are heroes I see it a lot on and the heroes I’m listing are all weapon branches and it is part of a lot of core builds I see.


A lot of these heroes you’ll see tension bow on and yes I understand it’s a burst item and they want it but its everywhere and sometimes will replace sorrow blade because the burst from it is unreal. Back in the day tension was built too but it felt balanced like it did a lot of damage but for early game. Maybe they want it more late game too like AS but it’s just so strong.

What do you guys think? Item look throughs are much shorter and some convo in comments really helps even shed some light to me when you got some time like this. How would you change tension bow if at all?

thank you for reading and I hope enjoyed the first look through on a item. Don’t be afraid to criticize if you feel like I can do something better.


Where’s the maths? Semi serious, late game fully built hero’s (Ringo for instance) will out DPS a tension bow Gwen thanks to their attack speed buffs.

1 Like

Thats a different between DPS and Burst damage. Tension bow is so good early game for more adventage but the scaling late game isnt good enough but still good in some heroes for burst such as gwen.

1 Like

As a Gwen player, I start with Tension Bow, and then late game, I switch it with Tyrant’s Monocle. I do that because this is what someone has recommended me, and it works pretty good IMO.

I would hesitate to make many assumptions before seeing the patch drop. Certainly in the negative direction, hype is rarely a bad thing. :3

Your analysis looks accurate (don’t have time to check numbers) but there is a big part of the equation you are missing. Tension Bow is stronger for the very first hit every 6 seconds. After probably 5 autoattacks tops, the Sorrowblade User should have roughly as much raw WP output. Its not hard for a decent sniper build to output around 2 autoattacks per second if not more. So while TB is very strong early on, it falls off super hard when teamfights grow beyond the first few seconds.

Its important to factor in the gold amounts present (kudos to you for factoring that in) - a lot of wannabe analysts forget that part entirely - but its also worth considering that TB is a weak lategame item. If you ever approach full build it will have much less impact, especially in 5v5 with the longer teamfight potential. In 3v3 Its more viable in many ways to burst down the enemy laner (or jungler occasionally). So lategame your damage will be worse for having the TB.

I have not checked out the update notes recently, so i’m going off of what you say about TB. 240 to 300 is going to be fairly impactful early game imo, it already hits super hard with specific heroes already. However, they seem to be nudging it towards even more of a snowballing early game item. I would say the damage ends up being a slight nerf in a protracted fight (up to just before every 6 seconds duration with the next TB proc). The burst damage is better but you pay a slightly higher price for it again.

Ringo Gwen WP Taka, Glaive, Ardan, Krul, and Grace (pre-nerf) are all fine running TB. Taka with TB is one of two arguable build paths to take. Likewise most of the other heroes have decent options without TB available too. Krul in 5v5 loves Tb though because of the synergy with his A. Same with Ardan for his B.

However, Idris and Joule kind of work differently, so while they “can” use TB effectively its not worthwhile. Idris iirc generally builds something like SB, SM/PS, BP. TB hasn’t been a core item for him for a good while (when it was also sorta core for Blackfeather, several updates ago). He can be good for burst, but it doesn’t seem that necessary. WP Joule generally should stack crit for synergy with her B crit and pierce ability. So SB+TT/TM/BP. Up to 4 offense. I occasionally see people drop in say, SM instead situationally, but generally you max her damage output with heavy WP and crit. Her goal is to output as many ThunderCrits as possible.