Nerfs suck. Brewmasters have sustained quite a few in the past few months, and it’s easy to freak out. Sometimes I want to be angry, too. But it’s time to chill out and reason through this.
At the onset of Patch 5.4, we were hit with a Keg Smash nerf, a vengeance nerf, and some scaling bug fixes. This was tolerable, but overall a pretty small nerf. All tanks were afflicted with the vengeance nerf, and the Keg Smash nerf only reduced our damage by a measly 5% (ish).
We thought we got away clean, but sadly Blizzard figured it out. Recently, we were saddled with a full 10% damage reduction, and then a subsequent 5% nerf, for a total of 15%. That’s like, three nerfs in a row, which feels bad. First off, I want to point out that many nerfs in a row just feels worse than one big nerf. A 10% nerf followed by a 5% nerf generally makes people more sad than a single 15% nerf. Recognise this as the unintentional psychological effect it is, and focus on the actual nerf(s) as it is without letting your “gut feeling” drag you down.
The continued nerfing actually indicates that this is not a gut reaction on Blizzard’s part. They’re trying to nerf us only as much as we need, not trying to destroy the class. Blizzard has lots of numbers; far more than we do. Even if it feels like overkill because you and me and a couple other brewmasters weren’t topping the meters, that doesn’t mean that overall brewmasters were not trending too high.
Well to be honest, we were doing too much dps. We even might still be doing too much (though I hope not). Word from Blizzard is that from all angles: mastery and crit builds, 10 and 25, AoE and single target, we were doing too much damage. Even if you weren’t topping the charts, on average other Brewmasters were. (You can blame them — those dpsing over achievers.)
A couple things contributed to our ridiculous dps. One is just scaling. We’re getting a ton of crit and very good weapons. Even in a mastery build, you have so much crit that your dps is very high.
Two is an unintended consequence of a psuedo-nerf at the launch of 5.4. If you recall, there was a problem with the way our abilities scaled with vengeance, which enabled us to deal even more damage at higher level of vengeance than was intended. Blizzard changed the equations of our abilities to scale less efficiently with vengeance and with a slight boost upfront from weapon damage. We focused on the vengeance aspect, but the weapon damage buff actually did incredibly well with new SoO weapons (surprise!).
Three, the nerfs at the launch of 5.4 weren’t nearly enough. The Keg Smash nerf of 15% was a relatively small reduction to our total damage, and all tanks suffered from the vengeance nerf. We were far more than 6% ahead of other tanks.
Four, our AoE skyrocketed with the introduction of Rushing Jade Wind. To be clear, the problem is not just with our AoE damage, but it’s a big contributor. We’ve always had good AoE but it went largely unnoticed because there weren’t so many AoE fights before T16. Now that AoE is so prominant, it presents a bigger balance problem.
How should you react? Well from a stats perspective, you still want crit for dps and mastery for smoothing. Nothing changes there. Even though you’ll be doing less dps than before, that doesn’t reduce the value of contributing dps in the first place. If more damage is what your guild needs, crit is still the solution. It’s true that crit (and all our other dps stats) will be less effective than before, but we weren’t stacking crit because it was super effective, we stacked it for the final goal of more dps. Unless that goal changes your gearing shouldn’t either. (If for some reason you only stacked crit to top the meters, and now that you are #2 you don’t see the point, well, that’s a different issue.)
What about statue / T16 2pc? Well, don’t worry too much about the 2pc. Your occasional, tiny self-shield will occur less often, yes, but the bonus is already insignificant enough that a small reduction in its proc isn’t a big deal. The shields going out on the raid will be a bigger deal for fights with AoE damage (i.e. where the random shield is useful). It will take you longer to generate each shield, but the loss in your personal damage will likely be a bigger nerf to your raid utility than the shield procs that occur a little bit less. And it’s not really that big of a nerf in our shield proc rate.
So just relax, tell your raid leader that you’re still just as competitive as the other tanks, and keep doing whatever is was you were doing.