The hagbane seems to be a mystery to a lot of players, so I have run practical tests on the bow and asked questions in order to learn and put together something informative for players. So here is a good run-down on it:
Without charging the bow, it only hits a single target. AKA you can’t friendly fire an ally that has a gutter-runner on them. Charging the bow grants it AoE.
Its primary uses would be:
Thinning clumped hordes.
Controlling an area.
Shaving down bosses. If you have an ammo box nearby, you can dump into them that way. If you’re really good, you can utilize the headshot weapon trait for ammo to fire near-infinitely into their heads.
The hagbane’s DoT will stack, so you can shoot it multiple times to stack the poison. When you’ve used it enough, you know when you can “fire and forget an arrow(or multiple arrows)” because the DoT will finish the target. In regards to how DoT damage functions, see the following:
DoT’s only apply if damage is dealt. This means that under normal conditions, DoT’s can’t be applied to armored targets(like chaos warriors). This is why Handmaiden’s Dash(her bleed DoT) does not normally affect armored targets like stormvermin. There are 3 ways to bypass armor and apply the DoT:
Critical strike. Critical strikes don’t increase the damage of the DoT(only the initial arrow impact damage that the hagbane arrow does, because only attack damage is affected by critical strikes); they simply allow it to bypass armor restrictions.
Strength potion. In addition to the damage boost to attacks, Strength potions allow all damage(including DoT’s) to bypass armor and deal damage.
Hitting a clanrat with the arrow of hagbane and having the poison AoE hit an armored unit(like a chaos warrior) will not affect them because the AoE of hagbane has a separate damage profile which in general contains no armor penetration. In order to apply the DoT in such a manner and affect armored units in an AoE, you’d have to either critically strike or be affected by a strength potion.
For example, you could absolutely decimate a clumped up chaos/stormvermin patrol, even on Legend, by consuming a strength pot and shooting charged hagbane arrows into them.
Hagbane details following May 13 2018:
If you want to maximize value out of each arrow, you charge it. LMB taps are for speed and precision(like knocking a gutter runner off of an ally without poisoning your ally as well).
I played around with test dummies for a bit and came across some results(All numbers are shown from my Handmaiden and no power talents on Legend target dummies):
The LMB tap applies 575(950 headshot) impact damage and 4 ticks of 275(1100 total) poison damage to the target hit.
The RMB applies 575(950 headshot) impact damage to the target and a light AoE impact damage to the target area(100) and surrounding targets(75, 50, 25 depending on distance from impact). The AoE impact damage does less damage the further away targets are from the point of impact. A hagbane arrow can also apply both impact poison damage and AoE poison damage to an unarmored target. This means that the unarmored target hit by the charged arrow suffers two ticks of damage:
One applied from impact
One applied from AoE
All targets not hit by the arrow itself can only suffer from AoE applied poison damage.
This means that it’s more “bang for your buck” to hit unarmored targets with charged arrows as you will apply both the impact poison DoT(275 a tick) and the AoE poison DoT(200 a tick) for 1900 total damage(1100+800).
The hagbane’s poison affects armored differently and is applied differently. LMB hits of the hagbane will not affect armored unless it hits the head, critically strikes, or is affected by a strength potion. RMB hits will do 125(200 headshot) impact damage and cause 4 ticks of 300 damage(1200 total). The AoE impact damage and poison from RMB will not affect armored targets, but can still affect unarmored.
A strength potion will allow you to bypass the restrictions of armored and allow application of damage from both the arrow impact and the poison(the testing dummies aren’t properly showing that the AoE poison and AoE impact damage can be applied to surrounding armored enemies during a strength potion. The second video, while not as crystal clear as I wish I could make it, demonstrates it can in a real game. In the third video you can see the control and damage done to the chaos warriors. Mind you, they were probably not 100% hp when I started firing into the group. I’m sure I could eventually make a better video.).
The one thing I’m not certain of is:
Does a strength potion cause you to inflict both impact poison and AoE poison to enemies you hit with the arrow in the same way it does to unarmored? I would assume it does given the behavior of how a strength potion affects it in an actual game and how an RMB affects an unarmored dummy.
The following are videos I put together for demonstrating some of the things talked about in this post:
Control of enemies(slowing/halting the advance of enemies. Can also stop attack animations from enemies like maulers)
Boss killing(this one was Stormfiend)
Boss killing(the boss derped out and I could get easy shots on him. Clean demonstratiion of damage to Stormfiends)
Useful if cornered. Temporary life gained will likely negate any damage you cause to yourself via poison
Control of enemies(staggering a stormvermin off the ledge, in this case)