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WoWNov 12, 2015 3:00 pm CT

Zen Meditation: The Monk in Legion

A monk in Stormstout Brewery

Some of us are happy. Some of us are sad. Some of us are full of trepidation. The rest of us are probably Mistweavers.

Yesterday, Blizzard finally released the Monk preview for changes to come in Legion. With all three specs containing perceptibly different fantasies, there are some pretty sweeping changes to look at.


A change of brew

Brewmaster’s changes have reverberated in a pretty split manner, leaving most (at least myself) cautiously excited about the changes. While Chi has been a cornerstone resource for Monks, their change in Legion to using brews fits the fantasy better — that is, that they are actual masters of brew. This sounds almost like their fantasy comes very close to the name of the spec itself!

Before really analyzing the class, a few major changes have been made that should be noted.

  • Jab has been completely removed, and merged into Tiger Palm. There will no longer be a Tiger Power buff to maintain. This now costs 25 energy, and reduces the cooldown on your brew spells by 1 second.
  • Keg Smash has had a similar redesign; with the same cooldown as before, it will reduce the cooldown on brew spells by 4 seconds, costs 40 energy, and will also reduce the movement speed of hit targets.
  • Blackout Kick seems to have been renamed into Blackout Strike, and shares a 3 second cooldown with Breath of Fire.
  • Ironskin Brew has been introduced. This increases how much damage can be Staggered [edit: this originally stated “cleared”, but the correct terminology is “Staggered”].
  • Purifying Brew carries 3 charges, shared with Ironskin Brew. It will still clear Stagger.
  • Stagger no longer ties itself to mastery. Further, it also reduces magic damage taken.

This is a huge change in the overall paradigm of Brewmasters, but in essence increases the value of haste (less downtime means that you hit Keg Smash and Tiger Palm more often, leading to more mitigation through your brews). However, I would caution against over-valuing Haste: it will likely not become your best stat at this time, but should at least be more in-line with other secondaries.

No word has been stated in regards to Guard, but Dodge has suddenly become a larger part of the class. Mastery now grants Dodge, but relies upon being hit by an attack. Each time you are hit by an attack, you will gain a stack of a buff that will increase your dodge by 20% [edit: this was not terribly clear, and stated that there was a chance to gain a buff that increased your dodge by 20%]. This can stack, but no amount of stacks are specified. Additionally, the example talent provided illustrates that Purifying Brew will also grant a percentage of Dodge.

The problem with this is that Dodge became almost gutted during Warlords of Draenor‘s development. While Elusive Brew grants it in the current meta, it is not considered terribly strong due to being based upon luck. Relying too much on dodge takes mitigation out of the hands of the Brewmaster, and instead puts it into the hands of RNG. The Brewmaster could take very little damage, or they could take quite a lot of damage. However, the play between Iron Brew and Purifying Brew could prove to be very… satisfying.

Calligraphy on US-Stormreaver using Storm, Earth, and Fire

Walking on wind

If you’re a Windwalker, you may have a few concerns. First, Storm, Earth, and Fire is now a toggle similar to a rogue’s Bladeflurry. This takes quite a lot of control out of the player’s hands. Let’s hit a few things first:

  • This does NOT devalue Storm, Earth, and Fire in two-target fights. It does not hit your damage, and at least one clone will hit the target you are hitting. It will still be viable in two-target situations.
  • It does sound very bad. However, through your own feedback, the AI for this spell has already grown tremendously. Continued feedback during the development cycle will likely make this into a very solid change.
  • You will control the Storm Spirit. The other two Spirits will grant 50% additional damage.
  • As per the point above, two target fights will see 150% damage, while three and above will see 200% damage.

Similar to Brewmaster, Jab and Tiger Palm have also been merged but will cost 50 energy. Tiger Power will no longer need to be maintained, and Rising Sun Kick will no longer need to be used in order to maintain a debuff.

That 50 energy seems like a large number, but Blackout Kick now costs 1 Chi in order to compensate for this. There should be very little slowing overall of the class’s rotation.

Speaking of rotation – how about that mastery? Combo Strikes increases the damage dealt by unique abilities — that is, repeated abilities will not be buffed by this, but unique, non-repeated abilities will be. This actually makes mastery a stat that shouldn’t be completely avoided. While numbers are still pending in terms of how it will be weighted (especially as we do not yet know point-for-point how much we will benefit from mastery), this encourages Windwalker into a more thought-out rotation of alternating abilities in a fast-paced, Street Fighter-esque fashion rather than spamming the same spells. Another thing to note — Tigereye Brew had previously been considered Windwalker’s main mastery. Now, it will be a 1.5 minute damage cooldown.

Tsuki on Windwhisper (US) channeling Soothing Mists with Breath of the Serpent.

The tears in the mist

Mistweavers, you’ve gone through so many changes. First major changes in 5.2 that pushed you away from Jab-Jab-Uplift. In Draenor, Fistweaving was gone and then it was a stance. And now, it may well have been lain to rest. Well, it is — at least in current plans.

So let’s get the elephant out of the room. Speaking personally, I’m pretty upset by this change. When announced, Mistweavers were to be DPS healers that would be caught in the heat of melee battle, while still acting as a support. This drew probably the greater majority of Mistweavers to the class – the idea of playing like a melee, yet acting like a healer, changed things in the meta. However, Fistweaving has been — for lack of a better word — a very clunky aspect of the class. In Mists, it seemed almost impossible for Blizzard to nail it down; first with the introduction of the Eminence buff that allowed abilities to do damage, and then in Warlords, in which Fistweaving became part of Crane Stance instead.

So, while Disc priests gain more damaging abilities and Holy Paladins are to be treated like melee, Mistweavers will now become a ranged healer. It seems that in the mind of Blizzard, Mistweavers are not melee fighters the way that Brewmasters or Windwalkers are. After all, not all Monks are fighters. Many are simply in search of peace and meditation. Apparently Mistweavers are to be designed to fit this ideal of seeking Nirvana rather than jabbing for it.

This change heavily overshadows the rest of the class redesign, but other changes have come to light. Mistweavers have wanted a new mastery for some time – and now instead of healing orbs, you will now do an additional direct heal as a result from a direct heal. You might consider this similar to how Multistrike currently works to Mistweaver. Mana tea has also been removed, but now Soothing Mists (and your mastery) interact with other heals to make them slightly stronger.

While there are many other changes to be noted, the major thing: Mistweavers will now deal more direct heals than previously. Their playstyle will depend far less upon heal-over-time-spells, and it seems their toolkit for general group healing is either gone or changed dramatically.

Tsuki on Windwhisper (US) casting Uplift

Voice your feedback!

Let us know your thoughts on these changes in the comments! Additionally, if you have good (read: polite) feedback for the developers, you can tweet at @WarcraftDevs. To leave more in-depth feedback or to read the full class preview, you can find the Monk-related blog here.

Keep in mind that these are very early changes — we are only receiving a taste of what is to come. There may be more abilities, and just because one ability is not listed does not mean it is gone.

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