Some Quick Thoughts on The State of Vengeance in Raiding

Today, the above graphic surfaced on r/wow.

It paints an interesting picture, devoid of context though it may be.

Mythic progression has drastically increased in size over the last few weeks, as nerfs to Mythic Kil’Jaeden have led to a larger number of kills than we had for months.

One trend, as the graph illustrates, remains the same.

Guardian Druid is too stronk.

However, it’s quite humorous how that came to be for this tier of raiding.

In truth, Druids excel as tanks on this fight in particular because they have Stampeding Roar. When you absolutely, positively GOTTA GO FAST (I may have played some Sonic Mania this week, what?) Druids bring that to the table for everyone. I don’t think this is a bad thing – if you’re trying to keep a difficult fight down, the easiest way to do so is to ensure that you have the best possible toolkit. On the DPS side, that is why rogues are so prevalent this tier as well.

With that said, however, there is one factoid that sticks out to me, and it’s not the overwhelming presence of orange on that pie.

It’s that 0 Vengeance Demon Hunters have killed Kil’Jaeden on Mythic.

To explain how I see this, I have to preface by saying that I’m not a mythic raider. My guild is a Normal first, Heroic later, usually clears both by the very end of the tier type of guild. I won’t claim to have some massive, all-encompassing knowledge of tank balance.

I do think however, that unlike the introduction of Death Knights in Wrath, and Monks in Mists of Pandaria, that Demon Hunters (on the tank side at least) were introduced…relatively well-balanced. In fact, prior to 7.1.5, I’d argue that Vengeance was perhaps the first new tank spec in the game’s history that was introduced under-tuned.

Why is that my perception? Well, here’s the history – Death Knights were immediately in play during Wrath, as it was the first new class in the game. They also had huge lore hooks into the expansion, and a lot of people switched over to one. A Death Knight was my first alt, and my first tank! In Wrath, they were perhaps OP as tanks for much of it because they were versatile to an extreme – every spec had tank talents, and you could make some interesting choices. Frost allowed resilient tanking, with large amounts of damage reduction. Blood allowed for the self-healing playstyle that has since become the foundation of the current only tank spec for the class. Unholy had…magic reduction. Well, two of the three specs were super viable, and in fact felt really powerful.

Likewise in Mists, Monks were introduced with Brewmaster as a tank spec. The early design of Brewmaster was incredibly strong, combining the ability to Stagger damage with Guard, a powerful damage absorption effect that could get up to ridiculous levels. When you add in high innate dodge chance, and the ability to Purify off all the staggered damage, the class could make itself damn near untouchable.

Vengeance Demon Hunters at their introduction to the game were a bit weak. They had high damage output for a tank, sure, but the playstyle was very different from any other, even the self-healing of Blood DKs. Vengeance, early on in Legion, was like ping-pong – you’d watch your health straight up jump off a cliff, and then you’d hit Soul Cleave and it’d be okay. This back and forth, however, was unnerving. I almost went to my original plan of maining my Druid or Monk. The artifact traits smoothed that ping-pong out a lot, and then 7.1.5 brought us to a good state.

However, that patch is only 7 months old, and a lot of the early Mythic race happened while Vengeance was in a relatively unsafe state. Perhaps the only tanks with less to offer at the time were prot warriors, mainly because of their very-limited self healing relative to, well, all the other tank specs.

I do believe that the tanks, as of today, are relatively well-balanced, which makes the difference. Vengeance is not as OP as the older “new” tank specs, and so player migration is not as high. (Monks were fairly underrepresented as well, to be fair). I don’t think this is everything that accounts for the difference, but it certainly is a good bit of it.

I think throughout Legion, we are likely to continue to see this, because at the Mythic level, the biggest component of this is that people are playing their best-geared, raid main characters. Nighthold was the druid show, and so everyone in a Mythic guild that tanks likely has a very high item level Guardian druid, with best legendaries and large amounts of Artifact Power stocked into their Guardian weapon. Further, I think the innate advantages of the Druid are again on display in Tomb of Sargeras (highest unbuffed health pools, large amounts of armor, Active Mitigation through Ironfur that scales vastly better than other forms of AM, largest number of “oh shit!” buttons through Survival Instincts, Barkskin, Rage of Ursol, and a damage-intake based self-heal that does quite a lot) – and this plays well into keeping Guardian atop the heap.

I think outside of the cutting-edge Mythic race, however – Vengeance is fantastic right now. I challenge DPS in my guild for amount of damage done, and I very rarely feel compromised in terms of ability to avoid damage. I do take more than my Death Knight co-tank, but I have other things I bring to the table in terms of my own mobility and DPS. I would argue that Vengeance DH can absolutely progress in Mythic as well, but the cutting-edge race relies on tried-and-true reliable tanks, the players of which usually have better geared and better developed artifacts on classes like Druid, Paladin, or even Monk. I do believe that we’ll see Vengeance in that mix once Antorus opens, both due to catchup mechanics and also to the designs of the fights in the raid so far.

The Mythic race does tend to push it’s perceptions down the playerbase to lower-level raiders, but I haven’t been unwelcome in any groups all expansion, and the early jitters of many healers are quickly dissipated with a few pulls worth of clearly skillful gameplay. I’ve seen bad Vengeance play as a healer myself, as many of my alts heal and I do remember the early part of the expansion, leveling my priest as Disc (my heart rate hasn’t jumped that much even during intense cardio at the gym!).

So while this chart seems to paint a bad picture of the Vengeance Demon Hunter’s position in the raid hierarchy, I don’t believe it’s doom and gloom for us. I just think that the current strength and stability of a bear tank, coupled with raid utility, outweighs what we bring to the table through self-mobility and high tank DPS.

That’s okay – play what you like and don’t worry too much about charts.

You can prove why you belong pretty easily.

One thought on “Some Quick Thoughts on The State of Vengeance in Raiding

  1. I had no idea, that the chart looked that way. Can’t say it affect me much, for all the seasons you describe. It must be difficult to balance all classes while at the same time keeping us all unique.
    I know little of tanking in Legion, but I would always pick my friend who plays a Vengeance Demon Hunter, he is the best player I know, and have had no trouble in mythic + either.
    I heard that “bring the player, not the class” is long gone in Legion though?
    How does charts look for healers these days, I wonder?


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