I got my start in blogging back in November, when I wrote a guest post for Rhidach’s blog, Righteous Defense. I posted at the time about Vengeance, and some of the problems that I foresaw at the time. The other night, Theck and I had a long conversation about Vengeance, and I think there are some interesting things to say again.
Vengeance: The Problem It Purports to Solve
Vengeance, as far as I can tell, is aimed specifically at solving one problem: It exists to keep tank damage low in PVP while keeping tank damage high in PVE. In this regard, it does succeed, but it has a whole host of follow-on problems that I do think should be addressed.
It’s worth understanding some of the historical context of Vengeance. In Beta there was going to be threat decay, and tank threat multipliers were all 2x damage, rather than the current 3x. Tricks and misdirect would tide you over until Vengeance ramped up, and since DPS threat was also decaying, it didn’t really matter that tank threat production was extremely low for the first few seconds of a fight.
When threat decay was removed, there was an obvious problem with tank threat – it ramps so slowly that by the time Tricks and MD threat fades away, at a 2x threat multiplier tanks had no chance of having surpassed early DPS threat. So we get a 3x multiplier, in order to have enough peak threat production to not only stay ahead of DPS, but to catch up the 15 second lead time DPS has on threat production. The natural consequence of this is trivializing threat after the first 30 seconds of the fight, because tanks aren’t just “ahead” on threat, they’re so far ahead that it’s nearly impossible to fail at holding aggro.
Vengeance: The current problems.
There’s a few things going on with Vengeance right now that I personally consider to be problems, of various levels of severity. The first is the RNG nature of the way it stacks. With a little bit of “luck” on avoidance, tank Vengeance stays low for too long, and suddenly when tricks and MD expire, there’s several DPS over the limit. This is something that’s extremely difficult for DPS or tanks to judge and react to, because they have to know 15 seconds in advance that the tank isn’t getting hit and isn’t GOING to get hit, in order to make good decisions.
This particular problem is liable to get worse as tank avoidance increases – the rate at which Vengeance stacks is decreased, and the reliability of it stacking becomes more volatile. It’s a mechanic that feels like it’s completely out of our control as tanks, we have to pray to get hit “enough” for the few seconds that it matters, and we can’t afford to gear around that because the boss damage levels assume survival oriented gearing on tanks. Catch-22.
Another problem, one that’s perhaps less important, is that the offtank can only make very small contributions while not tanking. Without Vengeance, a tank does a nearly trivial amount of damage, on the order of 4k DPS – or under 1% of raid DPS output in a 25man. With it, the tank does 12-15k. It’s tough to feel like your contributions matter when you don’t have a vengeance stack. Before Vengeance, tanks were resource constrained while not tanking, and one could maximize around that constraint to feel like you were making a contribution. Not so anymore. You maximize because you can, because it’s the right thing to do, even while knowing that whatever contribution you make is really lost in the RNG of crit rates from the real DPS.
None of these problems are crippling, really. They’re things that we have to work around, they’re annoyances, and they aren’t really fun to deal with. They disengage from gameplay and make one think about gaming the system. That’s a pretty good sign of a bad mechanic.
I firmly believe that threat production should matter, and Vengeance takes away from that as it stands, and it does so in a way that I feel like I can’t control. In order to fix Vengeance, I think it needs to be an “always on” mechanic in PVE. Set the tank threat modifier back to 2x, and tune the Vengeance level appropriately for tanks to be at roughly 110% of DPS threat. DPS shouldn’t have to hold back, there’s no counter-intuitive ramp-time issues, and good play as a tank becomes important again. If you can’t run your rotation adequately, your DPS will have to hold back. If you can, they won’t. Doing your job becomes important.
It fixes ramp time, it fixes the RNG nature of Vengeance, and it fixes the off-tank contribution problem. It allows tanks to gear for threat stats if their execution is poor, and feel like doing so has a meaningful impact. The very simplest solution is just to redesign Vengeance to say “Tanks do double damage to NPCs.” It’s not very well lore driven, but neither is toggling raid difficulty with a UI switch. In this case, I think function is more important than form, and the current implementation has major problems with function.
I’m being slightly facetious with the suggestion above, but that version of Vengeance would work seamlessly with the PVP/PVE constraints on design, and it would get rid of all of the problems I’ve highlighted so far. It would be a functional solution to the problem. It might not be “elegant”, but sometimes the simplest solution has an elegance of it’s own.
Other options include Vengeance on avoidance, Vengeance with no decay while in combat, giving every tank a Vigilance-like mechanic to keep Vengeance up while off-tanking, or just giving up entirely and going back to the wrath model of having tanks be resource constrained while not tanking, and accept that tanks will do ~30% of the damage of a real DPS to keep them balanced in PVP. That’s fine – it’s still better than the situation we have now.
I understand that there are some design constraints that mandate a solution like Vengeance. It does very effectively solve the PVP problem as it stands. But tanks are primarily a PVE role, and the mechanic has serious flaws in a PVE environment. I would like to see it fixed. I would rather see the mechanic work well in PVE, the primary focus of a tank spec, and it’s okay if it’s a little kludgey in PVP. But it should be a design priority for the mechanic to work well in PVE, and it currently doesn’t.