When making an attack of opportunity, does it count as a standard attack and thus benefits from feats such as Vital Strike?


A creature can't benefit from the feat Vital Strike when making an attack of opportunity

The Pathfinder Core Rulebook FAQ includes this exchange:

Can I use this with Spring Attack, or on a charge?
No. Vital Strike can only be used as part of an attack action, which is a specific kind of standard action. Spring Attack is a special kind of full-round action that includes the ability to make one melee attack, not one attack action. Charging uses similar language and can also not be used in combination with Vital Strike.

Emphasis mine. Unfortunately for the creature with the feat Vital Strike, the free attack granted by an attack of opportunity is not a standard action but not an action at all. A similar conclusion is reached in Paizo messageboard threads from 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, and 2016.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Corollary: the Vital Strike line is one huge trap, and should be avoided. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jun 19 '16 at 18:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ Its still possible for my archer as there will be cases where he moves, then fires, on each round. But the more I look into the feat the more limited and worse it gets... \$\endgroup\$ – Fering Jun 19 '16 at 20:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Fering If it was something you could just do, without a feat, you would want to some of the time. If it cost only one feat to get the whole thing, automatically scaling with BAB or whatever, that might be worth it—though much more for melee than ranged. But as it is, it costs a ton of resources for a decidedly back-up option. Particularly with ranged, where you’re more likely to have a target without moving, and you want to pile on as many extra attacks as you can (which Vital Strike will not scale with). \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jun 19 '16 at 21:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ The notable exception to Vital Strike being only bad is siege weapons- they get big damage dice to multiply and you'll never get more than 1 attack per round (although a single large creature with 2-3 feats can get to the point where they only miss an attack every 3 rounds) \$\endgroup\$ – Delioth Jul 20 '16 at 18:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Actually, AoO are now free actions as updated in the melee tactics toolbox. \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil May 6 '17 at 18:13


Attacks of opportunity are not standard actions since they are used during enemy turn, and Vital Strike explicitly requires an attack (so standard) action.

This will be the case for any kind of feat or class feature that requires an attack action or a standard action.


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