Legion Brewmaster Preview

From the official post:

The brewmaster is a quirky character, though dangerous when underestimated. Brewmasters may seem to struggle with balance as they chug their concoctions in the middle of a fight, but this unpredictable behavior is far from foolhardiness. Most opponents barely have time to process the erratic nature of the brewmaster’s fighting tactics before they find themselves laid low—possibly the result of a keg smash to the head. When an opponent actually manages to land an attack, it’s often unclear how much the brewmaster feels it . . . if at all.


The gameplay for Brewmasters hasn’t quite fit their archetypes to this point. Rather than being the tricky martial artists, staggering around with an evasiveness that frustrates their opponent while being a little squishy when taking an unmitigated blow, Brewmasters have been more focused around large absorption shields and clutch self-healing. Our new design approach is to get more gameplay depth out of their strong, thematic abilities. Instead of Chi as a resource, which had little depth for Brewmasters, we’re switching to charges on Brew abilities that other abilities still interact with.

Here’s a basic look at the core defensive and offensive combat abilities for Brewmaster Monks:

(Screenshots from Wowhead)



Additionally, to give you an idea of how some talents may build upon this, here’s an example of one of their Brewmaster-specific talents:


Additional Information

  • This is only the very, very basic rotational ability list.
  • Talents and Artifacts will add a huge amount of complexity (if you chose). It’s safe to assume that all of our talents are changing.
  • Niche or long cooldown abilities that aren’t listed, like Fortifying Brew and Spear Hand Strike, are most likely still present in Legion.
  • Rotational abilities that aren’t listed, like Guard, Expel Harm, Elusive Brew, Jab, and Shuffle are likely gone.

Dev Clarifications

Thoughts on Fantasy

From a pure fantasy perspective, I’m ecstatic to lose Guard and the bursty damage intake we’ve seemed to exemplify during Warlords. In contrast, Stagger has perfectly matched the unpredictable and soft brewmaster tanking style, and Ironskin Brew pushes that even further.

Breath of Fire will finally take the prestigious rotational position it has always deserved. It’s such an iconic skill that is actually used in real world martial arts movies, and has never had a prominent place in our rotation.

Blackout Strike, assuming that’s the real name (it is referred to as “Blackout Kick” elsewhere in the blog), uses a weapon strike instead of a kick. I love Blackout Kick’s animation, but Brewmasters really should have their feet on the ground. They’re stable and balanced, and spinning around on one foot doesn’t evoke that.

I like that “brews” are essentially our resource. I love chi management, but I think managing brews will have a similar amount of depth and it fits with our class so well. It’s easy to imagine a brewmaster just carrying around a few jugs of beer to pull them out when needed. (Though who knows how we’re brewing anything as fast as we’re generating the brew resource.)

Thoughts on Functionality

I imagine the base rotation will look like this:

  • Generate brew resources
    • Keg Smash on cooldown
    • Spend excess energy on Tiger Palm
    • Fill empty GCDs with Blackout Strike (Breath of Fire for AoE).
  • Defense
    • When a big physical attack comes, Ironskin Brew before and Purifying Brew after.
    • React to low health by shuffling side to side for healing orbs, if they’re there.

Some complexity occurs because you can’t do that all the time, so you can either decide to go all proactive (super stagger all the things), all reactive (purify all the things, seems unlikely), chain/alternate the brews, or save them up for something important.

It’s really hard for me to evaluate beyond laying out what I expect the rotation to look like. I need to play it, and I need to play it a lot, for me to build up any deeper understanding. For example, with the loss of a free, cooldown-less Tiger Palm, will our rotation feel empty in practice? I’m not really sure what to think of the new mastery. It definitely seems weird, but I don’t want to rule it out.

On losing Elusive Brew: I hinted at my dislike of active avoidance abilities before, so I’m not entirely surprised that Elusive Brew is gone. In general, avoidance abilities don’t grant the feeling of control that damage reduction or healing abilities give, and classes that depended on them had to be compensated in sort of overpowered ways just to cover the rare chance they never dodged anything. Besides, our example talent, Elusive Dance, will give avoidance AM back to us if we want it.

On losing stagger mastery: Our old mastery increased the amount of damage we staggered, and while it was lovely, it presented us with all sorts of long term scaling issues. Stagger mastery was more powerful the more you had, and every tier it had to be nerfed in some way, either by reducing the value gained from it as they did in Mists, or by reducing your total possible Stagger, as they did in Warlords. Now that stagger is only increased through our actions, it will be less susceptible to being overpowered and more interactive. The new mastery will be an avoidance stat. As I said a few paragraphs ago, I’m unsure about the actual usefulness, but I think a passive avoidance is one of the better places to have avoidance, and our mastery did need to change.

On losing Guard: As much as I love Guard, I wasn’t happy with how the most important button a brewmaster could push was so poorly aligned with the fantasy. As long as the many roles Guard filled are covered somewhere else, I will accept its loss. Speaking of roles to fill, we know at least that magic damage reduction will come from stagger, and therefore Ironskin Brew will be a pretty decent tool for that. The other role Guard filled was simply being our best defensive cooldown, but as we only know rotational abilities so far, we can’t say how or if this niche gets filled elsewhere.


Questions / Unknowns

  • Protection Paladins will be losing their single target / AoE carbon copy skills (Crusader Strike / Hammer of the Righteous), while brewmasters gain one (Blackout Strike / Breath of Fire)? Admittedly, Blackout Strike and Breath of Fire have slightly different effects because the latter applies a DoT. If the damage over time component of Breath of Fire is significant, we might only want to cast it enough to keep the DoT up. And both Blackout Kick and Breath of Fire have cool fantasies for the class, which is probably more than could be said for the corresponding paladin abilities.
  • Are cool animations / spell effects being reused? I personally love the guard movement (not just the bubble, but the way monks move when they cast it) and I’d love to see that find a new home. Will the Jab animation be reused for Blackout Strike, since the tooltip describes a weapon strike? I really hope we don’t end up with another Chi Explosion-type animation that simply reused the same casting animation everyone has.
  • Stats: Will we receive defensive benefits from attack power (agility) or crit? Will we receive offensive benefits from stamina, since it’s now the only way to increase healing and all the other defensive stats have offensive components?
  • Hibiki

    Hey Sunnier !! Been some time since i posted on your blog, but I guess that given the fact i can’t post on US battle.net forum, i might as well share my view on things here, where I can actually get an answer from a Monk !!

    To begin with, I just want to tell you once again that your blog/guides are really well done and written.

    Now to get to the things at hands :

    On the fantasy side:

    I agree with you for the most part, except for Ironskin brew. Don’t get me wrong, I really like that ability and think it’s really in sync with the brewmaster thematic, but just not in the rotational part of our gameplay.

    To explain myself, and to quote blizzard, a good description for brewmaster is as follow “When an opponent actually manages to land an attack, it’s often unclear how much the brewmaster feels it . . . if at all”. Meaning, really hard to land a hit on him (slippery fighting style translated by dodge/parry/any means of avoidance in game) and when you do strike, it’s a “soft” kind of strike (accompanying the blows received translated by stagger in game) which in my opinion makes way more sense for a martial artist, to dodge/redirect blows and to reduce the impact of those you can’t avoid/redirect.

    Instead of that they give us the same elements, but in the reverse order, giving us rotational stagger and occasional avoidance (how would you translate that in fantasy anyway? A fighter good at reducing impact from punches, and who if hit enough times in a row will eventually stumble, dodging a blow in the process ?) Doesn’t quite fit the fantasy if you ask me.

    I would much rather have ironskin brew (or an alteration of it) function the way guard was used in MoP, an “oh shit button” that allows us to survive long enough for healers to catch up when our avoidance fails. That being said, the question of “what would our active rotational mitigation be?” would still be there, and as much as i would want something about being elusive/dodge/parry, i can’t see anything that wouldn’t be too RNG (I’m open to all ideas).

    The other thing that bother me, and indirectly tied to what I already said, is the mastery. I can’t agree more they had to remove our mastery but this one seems really, i don’t know, meh…

    Well I really would like to have your thoughts on my input, but I will understand if you don’t have the time for it!
    In any case keep up the good work and see you soon !

    • Sunnier

      I guess we just have different visions of what’s defining for brewmasters, because I love Ironskin Brew! But I understand where you’re coming from. Staggering is really important for the martial art that brewmastery is based on, but redirecting attacks is more commonly found in other defensive martial arts, and both are valid sources of inspiration for the fantasy. I like it because it’s functionally similar to Shuffle, in that both increase(d) stagger, but they took out the maintenance aspect and made it stronger.

      The mastery change elicits a big “meh” reaction of most brewmasters, so you’re not alone there. I don’t hate it, but it’s definitely the least exciting part of the preview. I have no idea how “having a greater chance to dodge if you’re unlucky with dodging” translates to fantasy, though an avoidance passive admittedly matches the name “Elusive Brawler” better than a smoothing passive. I imagine they wanted our mastery to be avoidance, but a straight mastery to dodge conversion is hella boring and no one would want it, so they went with a more reliable avoidance. I want to see it in action before passing final judgement.

      Thanks for sharing your insight! I enjoyed reading it.

      • Hibiki

        Hi Sunnier, sorry I intended to give you an answer yesterday night but given what happened in my country last night, i was glued to the information channel :/.

        To get to the more joyful subject of Brewmasters, I like Ironskin brew too, just not the way it’s implanted, I feel like we’re kind of a “one trick pony” since our only answer (so far) to any threat is “Ironskin brew”. Even more than that the decision between where using our brew ressources isn’t even a real decision since a usage of iron skin brew will most of the time result in a usage of puryfying at the end of the ironskin brew buff (unless we get some crazy luck on dodging).

        I won’t go into much details since all the thinking i’ve done so far pretty much all ended with “ok they will have to tell us some more so I can judge”, but i would like to get either another proactive ability (to work jointly with ironskin) or another reactive ability (not tied to ironskin like puryfying brew more or less is). And, yes, I know we may already have those but they may have just not been annouced.

        On another note, as an ex bear main (and I know you are too), I kind of like what they did do bear! Having 2 straightforward proactive mitigation ability (+armor / Magic reduc) and an healing reactive ability, with the mastery incresing EH and the effect of the reactive ability. Both simple and efficient.

        Well here is all, too bad we can’t discuss more than that due to lack of information, but I’m glad you took the time to answer me.
        See you soon when we get more information to debate !

  • Jermaine Brantley

    The only thing I wanted to say is in the world of martial arts kicks can be used defensively. For the mobility and elusive style they have I felt like kicks should of been more a part of their animations. Their guard animation (the tetsuzanko) was a nice add.

    • Sunnier

      Yeah but Brewmasters aren’t just some salad of all defensive martial arts, they are a very specific form of martial arts. And the form they take is at the very least, grounded.