Zen Meditation: Fortifying Brew compared to other tanks’ cooldowns
Originally, I had wanted to focus today on Brewmaster cooldowns in general. However, Fortifying Brew itself is a monster of a cooldown and so today, that’s what we’re talking about. In some ways, it’s not a bad cooldown — however, when considering its competition, it could certainly see some growth.
How does this work?
The longest cooldown a Monk tends to deal with is Fortifying Brew. Not only does it give your Monk a grey, bubbly effect, but it also increases your health by 20% while reducing damage taken by 20%. As a Brewmaster, Fortifying Brew also increases your stagger amount by 20%.
So, how much mitigation does this actually mean? Let’s take a look at a hit for 100,000 — a number big enough to be reasonable, and yet small enough to really take a look at it. Right before this 100,000 damage hit lands, the Monk hits Fortifying Brew, increasing their health to 481,400 from 410,100. The Monk effectively takes 80,000 damage in the initial hit. With ~7% mastery, they stagger 27% in addition to another 20%, so a total stagger of 47% of that 80,000 hit to be staggered. In other words, they take 42,400 damage from the initial hit, and then stagger 37,600 (thus taking 3,760 damage per second over 10 seconds if they do not purify it). So, their health effectively goes from 410,100 to 481,400 to 433,700. At the end of the Fortifying Brew (assuming they are not taking more hits, and they do not Purify, and they do not heal), they will go from 481,400 health to 396,100 health (ad their health would adjust with the added 20% health being gone).
If they had not used Fortifying Brew, then that 100,000 hit would have hit them for 83,000, with around 27,000 staggered over time. At the end of that stagger, they would have taken the total 100,000 hit — rather than the 80,000 hit.
If none of that made sense, the basic idea is that the Monk managed to keep themselves alive a little bit longer, and took 20% less damage. If they Purify the hit, then they effectively take 40% less damage.
The competition’s cooldowns
In the meantime, how about other tank cooldowns? How do those even compare?
Guardian Druids have Survival Instincts. This stacks up to 2 times, with a 3 minute cooldown per usage. When one stack is used, all damage taken is decreased by 50% for 6 seconds. So, for the 10 seconds that the Brewmaster reduces hits by 20-40% (depending on how often they actually can purify, thus sacrificing possible other damage or Guards), the Guardian has reduced all damage taken for 12 seconds (note, as someone with a Guardian alt, I do not recommend this. It is definitely recommended to still stagger Survival Instincts usages).
The Protection Warrior has their own version of Fortifying Brew broken into two cooldowns, both of which can be used every three minutes. Shield Wall is simply a 40% damage decrease; the Warrior does not even need to use any resources in order to mitigate the extra 20%. In addition, if the Warrior needs more health, they can use Last Stand to increase their health (both current and maximum) by 30% for 15 seconds — 5 seconds longer than Fortifying Brew lasts, with an extra 10% health.
Protection Paladins can reduce their damage taken by 50% for 8 seconds every three minutes with Guardian of Ancient Kings, and just in general have a pretty large arsenal of cooldowns. Death Knight’s Icebound Fortitude will protect her from all incoming damage by 50% for 8 seconds, every three minutes (the tooltip shows 20%, but Blood Death Knights gain an additional 30%).
So you see, Fortifying Brew forces the Brewmaster to use Chi in order to get the most out of it. While the added health is welcome, most other tank classes actually do have other cooldowns that are comparable — either additional 20% damage reductions, or another CD to increase their health.
Fortifying Brew doesn’t quite match others’ cooldowns
This seems like an incredibly narrow view of the Brewmaster’s cooldowns. After all, the overall survival kit — especially with their set bonuses — really does make them very strong. If they were underpowered, they wouldn’t see content at all.
However, Fortifying Brew is supposed to be the Brewmaster’s Shield Wall. It’s their major cooldown, and supposed to be the biggest way for them to skillfully increase their survivability. So, while the rest of the package with Guard and Stagger and Purify is really quite fantastic, the cooldown itself pales in comparison when thrown down with any other major tank cooldown.
Thus, it spells out quite simply: while Brewmasters are fantastic tanks in progression, Fortifying Brew likely will not save the day as well as another cooldown might.
Should it change?
The problem with possibly buffing or otherwise changing Fortifying Brew is that either it would need to be nerfed in other ways, or other parts of the Brewmaster’s toolkit would need to be changed. A well-geared Brewmaster may never even realize that she’s taken more damage than her bear co-tank after a large hit because of the interactions with Guard, Elusive Brew, and others. However, another Brewmaster might notice that his Shield Wall melts under a particularly large hit, while his Paladin co-tank survives just fine.
Thus, a better quality of life would be to instead increase the damage reduction component to at least 30%, and either remove or reduce the staggered amount. The health granted would likely also need to be either adjusted, or at least moved to its own cooldown. This would mean the Brewmaster from before would still take 70,000 from this hit, with 27% still staggered — for a total hit of 51,000 and 18,900 staggered that the Brewmaster can Purify if it’s a good time to do that. This means that the Brewmaster’s now shrugged off around 50% of that same hit, and can use a different cooldown if they need to actually increase their health.
However, this change would be incredibly subtle. Considering the strength of Stagger in general, this change does not seem terribly necessary — however, it would certainly help less geared Monks to better compete with other tank classes.
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