A Beginner’s Guide to Vengeance

We only have a few months left of Vengeance, but I wrote this post a while ago and it’s still a pretty common misunderstanding. And I’m trying to clear out my backlog.

I’ve already talked quite a bit about making the best use of vengeance offensively, but I haven’t explained much about the defensive aspect and the basics of gaining vengeance. Vengeance is the most important scaling mechanism for our defenses that scale with attack power, but it’s often forgotten. It’s very important to tanking and sadly I’ve never really talked about it.

Vengeance is in this weird spot where it’s important but it’s difficult to realize just how important it is without researching outside of the game or mousing over values of spells. I think its poor representation is a major contributor to one of my most frequently asked questions: “why do I struggle so much early in a pull?” Vengeance is low at the beginning of a pull, which requires wise use of abilities to survive. This is difficult for brewmasters because the cooldown you think you want to use early to make you easier to heal, Guard, just does not work well at that point in time. On top of that, our heals are near worthless, and our skills that don’t require vengeance need time to build up.

Super Vengeance Basics

Vengeance increases by taking damage. Vengeance decays when you’re not taking any damage.*

To tell if a skill scales with vengeance, look at the ability tooltip. If it has some random-looking integer, then it likely scales with attack power; if the tooltip contains a percentage, then it’s likely to not scale with vengeance. You can also go find the full calculation in Wowhead tooltips.

Brewmaster skills that scale with vengeance (often the “reactive”, healing skills):

Brewmaster skills that don’t scale with vengeance (usually avoidance skills or percentage damage reduction):

Gaining Vengeance

Your Vengeance gained is proportional to the damage the boss deals to you. There are some caveats to this which can get pretty complicated, but I’ll try to simplify them.

  • Vengeance gained is proportional to the damage you would take before any mitigation (dodge, armor, etc) is taken into effect.
  • Using active mitigation abilities (like Guard or Elusive Brew) doesn’t decrease your vengeance. It doesn’t matter if you dodge, parry, stagger, or absorb damage, you’ll get the same amount of vengeance.
  • Vengeance typically reaches its average level quickly. Your active mitigation that scales with vengeance will only be relatively weak for the first ~5 seconds of a fight. Before that, stick with your non-vengeance skills unless you’re in desperate need. Vengeance will often continue to grow more after that, but you should have the bulk of it quickly.
  • Some specific boss abilities are excluded from giving you vengeance. The excluded abilities are typically events that you should be avoiding, like ground effects or AoE effects. As long as you’re not trying to soak spells that are clearly designed to be avoided, you won’t need to worry about this.
  • If there’s a big, unavoidable damage event, like a dragon breath, that will usually give you a burst of vengeance.
  • Taunting off of another tank will give you a portion of their vengeance.
  • Tanking multiple mobs at once will give you more vengeance, but not much.
  • All this changes for challenge modes, but I won’t dive into that here.

Losing Vengeance

To make the best use of Vengeance, it’s important to know when you’ll lose it.

  • Vengeance lasts 20 seconds, decaying over that time unless you’re taking regular damage.
  • Vengeance is based on the recent damage you’ve taken, so it will decrease when the damage you’re taking decreases.
  • If not tanking a boss and you take a little bit of damage from other sources (like from a ground effect), your high vengeance will average with the low incoming damage, reducing your overall vengeance.

Using Vengeance

Using vengeance effectively means that…

  • Don’t use your vengeance-scaling abilities in the first few seconds of a fight.
  • When you pull a boss, start with avoidance and percent reduction abilities, like Elusive Brew (if you have any) and Shuffle, as quickly as possible. If it’s a particularly dangerous boss, use a cooldown like Dampen Harm or Fortifying Brew.
  • There are a handful of heals that recover a percentage of health and thus don’t depend on vengeance, like Healing Elixirs and Healthstones. Keep those in mind if you need a heal at low vengeance.
  • Use addons to monitor your vengeance directly. Your average vengeance will vary depending on the content you’re doing.
  • Vengeance lasts 20 seconds. If a boss is taunted off you, use your defensive and offensive moves early rather than later to make the best use of your vengeance before it decays.
  • Shield abilities like Guard will “snapshot” your attack power value when it’s used, and do not decay alongside vengeance.
  • Avoid avoidable damage. Don’t step in fire, especially if your vengeance is decaying.
  • After significant damage events (like a dragon breath), use your vengeance scaling abilities and dps cooldowns since that’s when your vengeance will be highest.