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MonkNov 29, 2017 4:00 pm CT

Zen Meditation: Monks’ wishlist for the future

Brewmaster Monk vs aggramar

First, apologies to regular readers; it seems life likes to roll a natural 20 — or, I rolled a natural 1 — and have everything happen at once. However, I’m pretty excited to be back to discuss all things Monk. As many know, I’ve been chipping away at Tomb of Sargeras as Brewmaster.

Nonetheless, with Battle for Azeroth finally announced, it’s time to think about what I’d love to see going forward for Monks, as well as discuss with some of my Mistweaver and Windwalker brethren what we’d love to see in the future. Now, none of these are promises — heck, they probably won’t happen. Every rose has its thorns, every class has its issues, but comparing Legion Monk to its previous counterparts brings to mind different things we’d all love.

Keep in mind that this will probably come across as very negative; we are highlighting many of the pitfalls in the class itself. If the class were completely unfun, this column likely would not exist, because people would have abandoned Monks ages ago.

Mistweaver: This Mastery isn’t very soothing

I don’t personally main Mistweaver, but I have some understanding of the specialization itself. Nonetheless, I reached out to the theorycrafters and moderators at Peak of Serenity Discord to ask them what they’d like to see, and we all came to two conclusions: Soothing Mist does not feel well designed, and the newest Mistweaver Mastery doesn’t feel great, either.

First, let’s tackle the issues with Soothing Mists. The concept behind this spell seems straightforward. Whenever you cast a heal on a party or raid member, you’ll channel Soothing Mists on them. Well, actually, it’s not that simple. You might want to get a sticky note out, because it only counts Effuse, Enveloping Mist, Vivify, and Life Cocoon. It’s designed more as a stopgap heal; with the Mist Wrap talent, you’re even able to channel Soothing Mists while moving.

However, it’s not as great once you begin to really think about it. Your other healing spells are more expensive in order to encourage you to stand and channel Soothing Mist. So, in essence the Mistweaver spec has been designed to stand and do nothing. That’s not terribly fun, especially when many have reported that their throughput lags behind other healing specializations while using up more mana.

As stated by Scrubyboybuby on Zul’Jin, “Watching druids/paladins/whatever deal with a third of the mana issues I have while also having more throughput and active time in a fight doesn’t encourage my soothing mist use, it just makes me feel like I got [cheated] by having it.”

This leads into some of the issues in handling Mistweaver’s Mastery. While it’s certainly a step up from the often unused orbs that Mistweavers previously produced as a product of Mastery, it doesn’t work terribly well with the toolkit itself. Mastery: Gust of Mists causes your Effuse, Renewing Mist, Enveloping Mist, and Vivify to have an additional heal on the target. Now, this seems great — except that Renewing Mist will bounce as a smart heal, Vivify acts more like a “cleave” heal, and frankly, the rest of the Mistweaver toolkit doesn’t benefit at all. You end up with two spells that really benefit from the Mastery out of… too many that honestly don’t.

It’s worth noting that the Mastery encourages the Mistweaver to more carefully consider which targets they’re healing. But this has the massive downside that most of Mistweaver’s healing in general simply doesn’t require a target. It simply acts against the overall Mistweaver toolkit.

Adjusting Mistweaver’s Mastery and Soothing Mist might not make the class perfect, but both of these spells work against the specialization’s playstyle and introduce other concerns. What would you Mistweavers like to see, too?

Brewmaster: We feel capped

As a raiding Brewmaster, I could give you a list of about 50 different things I’d change about the specialization in general. As most regular readers gathered from my last post, I’m not terribly fond of the Ironskin Brew cap, but there are a few other aspects of the class that haven’t quite hit the mark.

I believe that the brew system could have been more interesting, but the implementation of the cap itself highlights many of Brewmaster’s overall issues: We have too much of our active mitigation up front. Ironskin Brew, for all intents and purposes, could be considered a re-branded version of Shuffle from previous expansions (no, seriously — Ironskin Brew is functionally the same as Shuffle; if you aren’t familiar with Shuffle already, then just take Ironskin Brew and rename it). That is to say, when Brewmasters had Chi, we would use that to build stacks of Shuffle. We didn’t have Shuffle immediately available on pull, but had the same mechanism that repeated uses of an ability would add to our current Shuffle stack so that we could “bank” our mitigation.

At first, I didn’t find myself on the train wanting Chi back. I thought the brew system appeared cool and unique (and not too different from the old Chi system, at that), of choosing between Ironskin and Purifying Brew. However, even with the cap and even with tackling difficult content, I still find myself with very little damage to really Purify, thus eliminating one of my two choices. As an example, I can pull a pack in a Mythic+ key dungeon, find myself nearly dead, but my Stagger would still have only been light at best. In raids, I found myself purifying maybe slightly more often than Mythic+, but when you already dodge the majority of a boss’s white hits, you’ll still find your stagger incredibly low. As a result, the brew system simply hasn’t worked. When you have nothing to really Purify or have low Stagger, it feels awful to feel “forced” to use Purify because brews have capped out and Ironskin Brew’s duration can’t be extended.

Finally, let’s talk about Brewmaster’s overall playstyle. It’s pretty darn stagnant compared to other tanks. In fact, at the start of 7.2.5, Peak of Serenity designed a macro that would allow the Brewmaster to do their entire rotation at around 90% accuracy in a single button, simply adjusted for their level of Haste.

This comes as a result of a few poor design choices. We have no procs or short cooldowns to react to, and our 110 talents are… stagnant. They honestly don’t change much with our rotation at all, unlike many other classes that will often gain another ability or something that adds to their overall playstyle. In fact, most of our talents simply don’t change at all. The rotation has remained the same since the beginning of Emerald Nightmare, resulting from a general lack of scaling with secondary stats.

Windwalker: Still a secondary mess

Overall, the changes to Windwalker have worked out well. Having Storm, Earth, and Fire no longer completely nerfing specific trinkets or breaking abilities has worked out well, and though it’s not without its flaws, having a mostly useful mastery has worked well.

As per Babylonius on Turalyon, the majority of Windwalker’s wishlist comes in retaining many of the traits granted by the artifact abilities. Several of these were not only pretty neat, but also provided better scaling for the class and improved existing abilities. Galeburst and Touch of Death are prime examples of how Artifacts have worked out extremely well for Windwalkers. Galeburst increases the damage done to the target while Touch of Death is active. As stated by Babylonius, this “encourages CD stacking and benefit to other stats rather than being a rarity of specs that have DPS scaling from stamina” — citing how Touch of Death has always scaled more from stamina than Windwalker’s other stats, but Galeburst causes secondaries and Agility to be more useful to Touch of Death than previously.

However, Haste scaling has yet again been murdered for Windwalkers. While Warlords of Draenor saw haste boosted significantly due to Chi Explosion’s Chi and Energy-hungry design, Legion has seen its weight completely plummet to where mastery used to be. Windwalker receives no cooldown reductions from Haste for their largest CDs, Chi spenders don’t use energy (making energy capping more of a concern), and the general GCD has already been set to 1 second and receives no benefit from haste. This also affects Windwalkers during Bloodlust; in other words, they’ll receive almost no benefit at all from a well-timed Heroism/Bloodlust/Time Warp.

Nevertheless, any discussion of Windwalker turns into a discussion of Windwalker’s Mastery. In this case, mastery has become an “all or nothing” stat, and better players will benefit from more Mastery than others will. One mistake, and you lose any benefit from your mastery until you’re able to rebuild it again.

In addition, the lack of scaling with weapon DPS has hurt Windwalkers in a similar way that it’s hurt Brewmasters; only auto-attacks and Strike of the Windlord are affected by receiving better weapons. This makes relic traits more important for both specs, and results in players using relics from lower difficulties simply because they have better traits.

Final thoughts

Legion provided the first major rework to Monks, and overall, I believe that the three specs are generally fun to play. However, these aspects of the class will certainly need to be reworked in order for the class to be competitive and remain fun for the majority of the player base.

How have you enjoyed your monk this expansion? Tell us in the comments what you’d love to see moving forward in Battle for Azeroth!

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