Me and my Vigilance-Buddy

Vigilance is a buff that a protection warrior can put on another member of her group or raid. The buffed person takes 3% less damage, and 10% of her threat goes to the tank who provided the buff.

The usual trick is to put Vigilance on one of the dps who is generating the most threat. So everyone benefits, they get to do some more damage before being threat capped, the tank gets to generate some extra threat, it’s all good. So I’m a threat thief, hurrah!

I find that I often tend to put Vigilance on the same person. I try to be aware of which fights are most threat-cautious for different classes, where the ranged guys cut loose vs where melee will be closer to my threat. But my usual Vigilance-buddy is one of our hunters. We have a deal worked out privately — he gets the Vigilance, and I get the misdirects.

It started slowly, like all good relationships. I noticed that his threat was high (and his damage even higher) and stuck Vigilance on him one night. The next week, he hugged me as we gathered together for Ulduar and whispered to me to ask if he could have Vigilance again. I said, ‘How about some misdirects? :P and a beautiful friendship was born.

See, most people don’t notice which buffs they’ve been laden with. To find someone who not only notices the Vigilance but appreciates it … well, it makes you feel kind of warm all over. I think he’s a keeper. But I admit it is an odd basis for a relationship.

Fun with Vigilance

Vigilance is a quirky warrior talent.

It’s a 30min buff that you can put on someone else in your raid and while it is active, you will nick 10% of their threat, the damage that they take will be reduced by 3%, and every time they get hit your taunt is refreshed.

When I first read the text, I thought that perhaps the idea was that you slapped it on someone mid-fight if they’d accidentally got aggro — that would not only reduce their threat and how much damage they take but also let you taunt off them quickly.

You can do this if you want. But we have other abilities that are just as good for grabbing a mob that has transferred its undesired attentions  to someone else (Intervene, or if the mob is tauntable then just taunt it with the new 30′ ranged taunt).

Ninjaing other people’s threat

The 30min duration hints at another use though. If you put Vigilance on whichever dps is likely to be top of the threat meter,  they get some extra breathing space on threat and you get a nice scaling threat talent. Bargain.

If you’re quick with your targetting, you can also swap it around during a fight if the previous holder died or someone else is coming close to you on threat.

If you read forums, you’ll find that a lot of warriors don’t like Vigilance on principle. The basic reason for this is because they’d rather have their threat increased via more damage. Warrior damage is already weak compared to other tanks (while tanking or off-tanking) and while the threat boost is very useful, why not hit two birds with one stone  instead of providing a strange pure threat talent that scales with other people’s damage?

The concern is that Blizzard may be balancing tank threat assuming that all warriors have Vigilance. In which case, we’ll always be way behind on damage because they’ll assume we don’t need it. Which is hard to swallow when you see other tanks pulling significantly more dps than you do, while tanking. Tanks aren’t picked for their damage but it’s not a good thing for the gap between top and bottom to be too high.

[edited to add: Actually, the more I think about this, the more I think it’s a daft thing to worry about. The extra dps added to a raid by letting one of your top dps have a 10% higher threat cap is probably way more than you would have done as a tank.]

I think this is mostly ‘sky is falling’ fretting. But we’ll have to wait and see what 3.1 has in store, tank changes are in the works and the proof of what Blizzard actually think/ expect will be in the pudding.

Taunt to victory

Passive threat increases are fine and good but what about the other side-effects of Vigilance? In most fights, taunt is only used in emergencies but sometimes having it available on every global cooldown is precisely what you want. And in those cases, you can Vigilate (it SO should be a word) one of the other tanks … as long as you are sure the fight isn’t threat sensitive for them.

I was messing with this in Naxxramas this week, on Gothik. For those not familiar, this is a fight where there are a lot of adds to pick up in Phase 1 which need to be tanked and killed on a priority basis. I was tanking the live side with a Death Knight helping out. I stuck Vigi on him, knowing that he was bound to be constantly aggroing something. It made it very very easy for me to keep taunting the riders and knights in a fight which is normally quite hectic.

You can use the same trick on Sartharion if you’re picking up adds or elementals. Vigi the main tank and enjoy being able to taunt everything all of the time.

Damage reduction

The other side to Vigilance is that it does reduce damage taken by the target by 3%. Which is another good reason to stick it on a tank in a non threat-sensitive fight. But I haven’t really found a place where I’d use the buff just for that yet. It’s more of a side effect than anything else.

What does Blizzard intend for the talent?

I do love abilities that can be used in several different ways, adapting to the needs of an encounter (I always thought that lifebloom was genius design, for example). But you always end up wondering ‘is this really the use that was intended?’

Is the intention for warriors to be able to taunt constantly or is that an unwanted side effect? If it is the intention then … that’s cool. It does give us something neat that other tanks don’t have, the ability to pick up streams of tauntable mobs quickly and neatly (and from 30′ away).

But that’s also the reason that I have my doubts. I expect that when 3.1 comes live, it will answer my questions about Vigilance and what Blizzard expects us to use it for.

Until then, I’ll be sitting here on the Live side of Gothik, enjoying my uber taunt.