This talent tier dealt with chi generation, either through granting chi directly (through a clickable skill or a timed proc), or indirectly through energy regeneration. Early in the expansion, Power Strikes was the only viable choice, since Ascension only increased maximum chi, and Chi Brew was a simple cooldown that provided an awkward 4 chi on use. Now that Ascension also increases energy regeneration and Chi Brew is a two-charge cooldown that provides Elusive Brew, they have finally established their own niches.
A passive chi-granting ability on a moderate internal cooldown. Popular before the others got buffed, but now it feels stuck halfway between cooldown and passive, losing the benefits of both.
A passive energy-granting ability. The increase energy regeneration brought this talent up to par, but the expanded maximum chi makes it shine. Five chi allows you to pool resources easier and makes over-capping chi more difficult.
An active chi-granting ability. Doesn’t provide the same ease-of-use as Ascension, but really strong for cold tank swaps and heavy movement, and it synergizes well with the low-haste and low-crit of early level gear.
This tier has turned around over the expansion. In the beginning, Power Strikes provided far more resources than Ascension and Chi Brew, making it the only practical choice. Later buffs to those talents left Power Strikes in the dust. This tier is hampered by being so closely tied to our key mechanics, making it difficult to swap around on a whim. If you’re used to a maximum of 5 chi, it requires a learning curve to swap to a maximum of 4 with an on-use ability.
Power Strikes and Ascension provide similar resource gains over the course of a fight, but they are close enough that Ascension usually wins out due to the additional ease of use it brings, plus the regeneration being useful for energy-consumers like Expel Harm. Power Strikes has an advantage during heavy movement fights, where a boss is constantly moving out of your range and leaving you with no place to spend energy, but Chi Brew is just as good at compensating for that situation, plus it brings control. The only thing left is feel, which is important. Ascension should feel a bit more busy than Power Strikes, but our brewmaster haste levels are generally not high enough for it to be a pronounced effect. Ascension and Power Strikes fill such similar niches, i.e. passive chi generation, that they are not really interesting choices for Brewmasters.
Chi Brew has gone through some hard times, but now it’s in a place where I use it quite often, especially in low gear content (like Challenge Modes). It provides less chi over the duration of a fight that Ascension and Power Strikes would, but it gives chi and Elusive Brew exactly when you need them. That control is important in a situation where damage is predictable and/or bursty. It also makes the first few seconds of a cold pull much easier, which is often the most dangerous period for us vengeance-dependent Brewmasters.
Overall, the choice between active and passive resources is interesting, as long as the resources gained are appropriately balanced. In Warlords, the difference between Ascension and Power Strikes may be more pronounced because Ascension will likely provide less chi over the duration of the fight (it’s dropping from 15% increased energy regeneration to 10%). That means the choice between the two will hinge on: do I want more chi over time (Power Strikes) or ease of use (Ascension). Chi Brew will maintain its niche of being useful with low crit and rough target swaps.