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WoWJun 16, 2017 6:00 pm CT

Zen Meditation: Patch 7.2.5 gives Monks the good, the bad, and the ugly

Brewmaster monk with mage tower challenge appearance

{PB} With the arrival of patch 7.2.5, I’m sure many a Monk is stressing out. Should I be excited? Should I repec? Should I keep doing what I’m doing? The start of a patch with major class changes can be filled with decisions on whether to re-gem or re-enchant, and whether or not you want to dust off that alt.

Of the Monk specs, Brewmaster received the most changes, but one addition is notable for all of us: new Legendaries, in particular the Soul of the Grandmaster, which grants you an extra talent. I’ll cover the options and recommendations in each spec section below.

Windwalkers are just stagnating

Let’s start with something a little different: a quick lesson in economics.

Let’s say that you start your job at $100/week. Your cost of living at this time is about $80/week. Next year, your costs are $85/week but you aren’t getting a raise — your wages stay at $100/week. Your wages have stagnated, and economically, you’ve been given a pay cut.

The parallels to the Windwalker Monk are the same here when you consider that Windwalker damage hasn’t been adjusted all that much for 7.2.5. There have been some flat-out nerfs to Fists of Fury and Spinning Crane Kick, while the Windwalker Aura found itself bumped up to about 19% (a 10% increase). Post-patch, Windwalkers have had some small buffs, with an 8% damage boost for Blackout Kick, Rising Sun Kick, and Tiger Palm.

However, while these changes mean Windwalker has remained about the same, other specs have received some pretty wild changes, putting Windwalker in dead last at best. Similar to the above example, consider your personal DPS to be your wages per week. The cost of living would be the overall average raid DPS per DPS. Your DPS has thus stagnated because while other classes receive pretty good boosts from their tier or have received an amount of buffs, Windwalker has remained the same.

I would be prepared to not be on top of the meters with the implementation of the patch. However, having played a Windwalker in past tiers, I’m confident that if the spec is too far out of line, then it can look forward to buffs as better data presents itself to Blizzard.

For your new Legendaries, look forward to our class ring granting Chi Orbit. Your new Legendary hat, The Wind Blows, will reduce the cooldown of Strike of the Wind Lord and also give you a free Blackout Kick. Neither of these legendaries are terrible, but The Emperor’s Capacitor will still be above The Wind Blows.

Mistweavers can rejoice with the latest changes

While Mistweaver has been in a good spot, it should be in an even better one now that 7.2.5 is live. Garg covered several of the nit-picky changes on his blog Peak of Serenity already, most are general buffs in terms of reduced mana costs.

However, the easiest one to misunderstand comes the change to Essence Font. On first glance, it looks like a nerf: Blizzard opted to put a short, 12-second cooldown on the ability. This seems bad, but it actually adds better choices for Mistweaver in spell selection. With two powerful AOE heals in Essence Font and Vivify, there seemed to be little choice but than to simply hit Essence Font all the time. This change puts Vivify more firmly into Mistweaver AOE rotations, which also increases the desirability of Mastery: Gust of Mists because you’re casting more spells that will trigger it.

Overall, Mistweavers are receiving a ton of very positive changes for their playstyle. I would recommend taking some time to check out Garg’s quick guide (he’s a much better Mistweaver than I am — after all, he keeps me alive during raids!) for more details on the spec’s spell changes and talent choices, as there are far too many to fit in here.

In terms of Legendaries, the new class ring gives Mistweavers the Mist Wrap talent, which will be very niche in raids and effectively worthless in dungeons. Doorway to Nowhere grants a 20% chance per cast of Essence Font to invoke Chi-Ji, the Red Crane for 15 seconds. This becomes a bit difficult to maximize because you have to work lots of Essence Font into your rotation, made harder by its new cooldown. Both of these Legendaries are pretty middle-of-the-pack: not bad, but not amazing.

Brewmasters aren’t happy with this patch

We finally made it here, Brewmasters.

And we’re not terribly happy with the patch.

Let’s quickly talk about the core of Brewmaster since its inception. Ever since Mists of Pandaria, Brewmasters’ core gameplay involved gaining Chi (now Brew Charges) to hit Blackout Kick to bank Shuffle (now Ironskin Brew). You wanted to hit Purifying Brew sometimes, but without causing Shuffle to fall off. It’s not terribly important how much Chi these abilities cost, but Purifying cost half of the Chi of adding a few more seconds to Shuffle. We even took Serenity in Warlords of Draenor so that we could more easily put a good “buffer” on our Shuffle uptime so that Purifying wouldn’t hurt as much when Shuffle was incorporated into Stance of the Study Ox.

While much has changed with Brewmaster in Legion, the core remained the same: build up your Shuffle stacks so that you didn’t risk becoming a flat pancake the moment you want to Purify. But Purify received several nerfs. It now effectively costs as much as a single Blackout Kick or Ironskin Brew — 1 Brew Charge, or effectively, 2 Chi — and also only purifies part of the damage (40% in Patch 7.2.5). However, we saw some great changes, too, in making Breath of Fire a staple in our rotation and rather than dealing with Chi, we instead have abilities to reduce the cooldowns on our Brews (including Fortifying Brew).

We also lost many of our CDs, such as Guard and Elusive Brew (which, well, effectively became our Mastery while Guard became a PVP talent). Compared to other tank classes, we run with extremely few cooldowns. Now if we lose Ironskin Brew, we effectively become a flat pancake.

Frankly, we needed certain changes. It sounds odd, but I’m fully in favor of only purifying 40% of incoming damage in order for it to be a bit more on-par with other tank cooldowns. Sal’salabim’s Lost Tunic also becomes indirectly nerfed by the artifact trait Hot Blooded now being up all the time (albeit, at 50% of effectiveness), which will hurt only because it made our rotation more interesting.

What we’re most upset about comes in the devaluing of our playstyle of trying to keep Shuffle up and gain buffer on it. All tank active mitigations now cannot extend past 3 uses, or 24 seconds for Ironskin Brew at 4 traits of Potent Kicks.

If you haven’t been playing Brewmaster as long as I have, or in the content I have, this one change might not upset you as much as it does career Brewmasters. Yes, we all agree that the playstyle feels stagnant and we do like the idea of choice between purifying or not. However, banking Ironskin Brew to silly levels generally becomes broken in two instances: bosses with poorly tuned initial phases, or content that you already horrendously over-gear.

To put it short: It’s not fine for Brewmasters to be able to survive certain mechanics that other tanks breeze through with a cooldown ability. Additionally, with the Tier 20 bonus in mind (2P and 4P), Purifying Brew nearly stops existing in our new model.

To break it down, this is why Brewmasters are unhappy:

  • Ironskin Brew will be capped at 3 uses, when we have been used to banking its charges since we began playing the spec.
  • Many of our talents have changed greatly, such as Special Delivery taking a back seat for Rushing Jade Wind (again, not the worst change, but many people, including myself, loved Special Delivery because it matches the spec’s identity so well).
  • We’ve received a lot of nerfs that were necessary (full details on this page of Peak of Serenity), but they still don’t address why we’re so incredibly strong.
  • Haste has also become rather devalued due to the change with Brews and because the cooldown reduction from haste has been removed from Blackout Strike. Yes, you can theoretically fit more purifies in with higher haste, but it takes a bit more for it to make any difference.

There are, of course, many more changes, but I haven’t even been able to discuss our new Legendaries without running out of time! Similar to the other two specs, the new ring will be situational (it grants Mystic Vitality). Stormstout’s Last Grasp grants 1 Keg Smash charge (so that you can have 2 charges of Keg Smash), and seems to be a bit more “middle of the road.” It will likely be a DPS legendary.

That’s all there is so far for Monks in patch 7.2.5, but we’re staying tuned to the hotfix notes to see if anything changes.

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