Sometimes I get these trains of thought about brewmastery stuff. They have no real conclusions, so I avoided turning them into blog posts, but maybe if I get them out of my head they could turn into something.
The past few raid nights I’ve been playing around with Healing Elixirs, a level 75 passive talent that heals for 10% of your health whenever you use a brew ability (like Purifying Brew and Elusive Brew). It has an internal cooldown, though it works a little differently than you might think. Every 18 seconds, you get the Healing Elixirs buff, which you can use at any time. You can sit on it for 17 seconds, use a brew skill to activate the heal, then 1 second later get another buff. So you don’t have to activate the heal as soon as it appears to make the most of the talent.
When I first saw this talent, it seemed pretty mediocre when compared with the two defensive cooldowns on the same tier: Dampen Harm and Diffuse Magic. If we learned anything from tanking the last few expansions, it was that tanking cooldowns are The Most Important Thing. Why pass that up for a relatively small (50-60k, depending on your health) heal? Healing Elixirs always seemed to be the talent for new tanks to pick, and more experienced tanks would pick one of the others. It was the automatic transmission talent.
However, now that I’m neck deep in MoP raids, I’m finding the two tanking cooldowns are just not that useful. Sure, Diffuse Magic is extremely powerful for fights that have predictable magic burst, and there are a handful of those, but it’s useless for most fights that only have unpredictable magic, or constant, slow magic damage, or entirely physical damage. It’s very situational.
Dampen Harm seems like it should be the default. It’s basically a shield wall with charges, right? Except that again, only a handful of fights can even activate it. It will only reduce the damage of very large hits. In my current gear, it will only get consumed by an attack that’s a little bit more than 100k damage. And this is rarer than I initially thought. Most fights with dangerous tank damage put me in the danger zone only when I take many small hits, not when I take a single big one. Of course, there are notable exceptions, like Blade Lord Ta’yak, but again we’re left with a cooldown that’s very useful sometimes, and extremely useless other times.
So for the default talent, that leaves us with Healing Elixirs. Except now, Healing Elixirs doesn’t look so bad. It might be passive, but you still have a lot of control over it. As long as you don’t consistently activate it while at full health, it will be effective in every fight. A 50k instant, free heal with only a 18 second cooldown is starting to look pretty good, especially at low vengeance when we can’t guarantee a big heal with Expel Harm. On top of all that, it’s getting buffed in 5.2 to heal 15% of max health instead of 10%.
During the last two weeks that I’ve been playing with it, I’ve come to like this talent more and more. I’ve trained myself to use brews at the right time so that the heal can be effective, and I’ve even found myself using Elusive Brew or Purifying Brew simply to activate the heal (and the benefits of the actual brews have been more of a nice bonus to the heal). It’s like an extra, cheap Expel Harm. It’s not nearly as braindead a talent as I thought. It’s a great talent for new tanks who are already overwhelmed with the monk’s skill set and don’t want to have to think about yet another ability, and it’s great for advanced tanks who want to have access to on demand heals.
I think it plays well into the Brewmaster kit, where we excel at short term active mitigation. We only have one Big Cooldown, and a choice between two very situational ones. Sometimes it’s frustrating to have so few oh-shit-buttons, but Healing Elixirs is a strong, if not obvious, way to fill in those panic moments.