Shuffle vs. Purify in Warlords

A few months ago I wrote about Shuffle’s position as a maintenance buff, and the positives and negatives of it being up all the time. Some changes in Warlords will further decrease any remaining complication that came with maintaining shuffle, while also reducing the necessity to keep it active. In turn, Purifying Brew usage will only increase.

What changes to Shuffle are we talking about:

  • Shuffle effectiveness halved (was +20% stagger and +20% parry, will be +10% stagger and +10% parry). That decreases the difference between a shuffle-less brewmaster and a shuffle-full brewmaster, which in turn makes keeping the buff active less vital.
  • The primary defensive benefit of Serenity, our likely default level 100 talent, provides a minute and a half lead of Shuffle. You can just forget about Shuffle when you take that talent; it will be active the whole fight without much thought.

Basically, we’ll be purifying a whole lot more just out of lack of anything else to do. Combined with our Tier 17 four piece, Purifying all day long is going to be our thing. The only reason you won’t want to spend your chi on Purifying Brew is to deal some dps with Blackout Kick (oh yeah, that does increase Shuffle, but we only really care about it for the deeps).

Of course, you do have other talent options if you want to find complexity elsewhere. Soul Dance brings us back to a Mists rotation, though sadly it’s optimal encounter, one that deals significant sustained magical damage (i.e. not bursty, since we can handle magical burst just fine without it), is rare. Even in an optimal encounter, Soul Dance has a lot of ground to make up for the ease of play introduced by Serenity. And then there’s Chi Explosion. A poor choice for anyone who thinks tanks should make choices that increase survival, and where the complexity comes from the patience required to build up 3-4 chi, spend and repeat. You’ll struggle a bit harder to keep a long duration on Shuffle, but hey you don’t pick a dps talent for keeping defenses up anyway.

Anyway, back in my post on Shuffle as a maintenance buff, I mentioned these as the reasons why spending resources on something that’s just up all the time is ok:

  1. Leaves more cognitive resources to monitor our other active mitigation. With its position as most important and easiest to maintain, we can focus more attention on our other abilities instead.
  2. Chi dump: having to maintain such a vital buff means that chi is that much more valuable, and that decisions to purify or guard are more important. If we didn’t have something like shuffle and still generated a similar amount of chi, we would have more than enough to spend on all the Purifies and Guards we could ever want. Forcing a constant drain on chi effectively slows down our chi allowance on Purifying Brew and Guard while not actually slowing down our resource generation. It makes a common resource scarce.
  3. At high shuffle, Blackout Kick becomes a dps chi dump. At low duration, of course, you use it for the buff. But at high duration, you no longer care if a 1 minute shuffle becomes a 1 minute 6 second shuffle, so you can instead choose between additional purifies/guards or blackout kick for more dps.

The first and third points are going to be more true than ever. Two points for Shuffle as maintenance buff! The second one is where I get a little sad.

With Serenity, we don’t even have to allocate chi funds on Shuffle. At least, far less than we used to. And while our chi generation rate is dropping (both baseline energy regen and Ascension have been nerfed), our need to feed at least 2 chi every 6 seconds into Blackout Kick is going away.

I enjoy the interplay between Purifying Brew and Shuffle as it is simply because it forces me to make hard choices. On live, sometimes I have to live with a high stagger for a bit longer because it’s better than letting shuffle drop and risking a big burst of damage that the healers and myself will have difficulty reacting to. It’s not about the decision of Purifying Brew vs. Shuffle, because Shuffle almost always wins. It’s more about managing resources so that you can perform the Purifies and Shuffles you need at the right time.

In Warlords, that decision of Purify vs. Shuffle is turned upside down. It actually becomes relevant, though at the loss of resource management. If we only look at the halving of Shuffle’s effectiveness, then we could imagine running into situations where Purify would become more important than Shuffle. That’s exciting! A potential for our active mitigation to be even more interesting! Except that Serenity reduces your chances of ever getting to low Shuffle.

I guess I can look forward to Purify. Stagger is cool and unique, so maybe purifying more often will be engaging. What I don’t want to see is purifying after every melee swing without looking at our Stagger levels and evaluating whether it’s worth it. There’s interesting gameplay in making that decision on the fly versus all the time. It’s the difference between a “priority” and a “rotation”, where the former requires evaluating the situation and the latter barely changes.


What is really happening is that Shuffle is becoming less vital and easier to apply. Purify is becoming more vital but easier to activate. All in all, Brewmasters will probably be easier to play but lose some of their resource management that makes them fun.