Thoughts on My Own Learning

So far, demon hunters have been hard for me to master. That isn’t because of the class, it’s just me taking forever to learn how to intuitively play something new.

A while back I ran heroic Halls of Valor on my two tanks. My demon hunter was at about 850 ilvl, my monk barely above 810. And throughout the whole thing, I actually felt more confident on my monk than my demon hunter. Not for any class or balance reason, but because when bad stuff happens to my monk I intuitively know how to handle it. When my health becomes unstable, even if I don’t know why, I can probably put up an Ironskin Brew and I’ll be okay. I know to do that without even consciously thinking it.

In our first few weeks of Emerald Nightmare, I died many more times than my co-tank. A few deaths were just due class differences (I thought I could take the same stuff to the face as a bear), more were because of mechanic failures, but most were just due to mismanaging my class. I died too many times with all my cooldowns up. It was frustrating, and made me question why I’m punishing my guild with wipes when I could be playing a class I’m much better at.

It might be hard to believe, but I take longer than the average joe to figure stuff out. It’s why this whole blog exists, as an excuse for me to learn how to play. It’s an avenue to figure stuff out in ways I know work for my brain: writing everything down, focusing on small achievable steps, and displaying only the information I need at any given time. This is the reason I talk so much about approachability, because I struggle so much with it myself.

I think one reason brewmaster just clicks with me is that they have relatively few skills. I’ve always been terrible at remembering cooldowns, and brewmasters have few of those in any form, rotational or defensive. I don’t have the fastest reaction times, and brewmaster mechanics that slow damage down just make a lot of sense to me. I don’t think that means vengeance can’t click with me, but it will probably take more work.

To complicate my learning process, demon hunters don’t use their skills in the same way as monks, they’re just designed differently. Monks have relatively few tools, but those tools are applicable to many situations. Ironskin Brew works against magic and physical, it’s effective even in a panic situation, and Fortifying Brew is a genuinely strong cooldown with similar benefits. In contrast, Demon Spikes only works on physical, and you need another semi-active-mitigation that works differently if you’re facing magic. While demon hunters have a wide array of cooldowns, each comes with its own drawbacks, which makes them best used with a plan. It can be really frustrating because all these skills I’ve developed on my monk don’t immediately apply to my demon hunter.

This has provided me with some insight into the requests of others to please help them improve, they feel like they’re doing something wrong but they’ve done all this research and practice and still feel like they’re failing. I always struggle with asks like this, because I’m not sure what makes me better at one class over the other, either. Maybe some classes just click with some brains, and some take extra work. Some brains can hold a lot of information at once, some can only hold a little (this is me). Some can react really quickly, some just can’t.



I’d rather not have to slow my teammates’ progress down to learn new things, but I think the challenge is good for me for long term engagement. Raiding as a brewmaster, I had a tendency to get bored halfway through each progression fight. I’d figure out my tasks quickly, and usually had to wait for the rest of the group to figure out their tasks, so I’d spend many wipes just counting down until the next boss. That also made each kill feel unearned, like I never got challenged enough to make that boss finally dropping feel like a giant relief.

Maybe this is why I’m really enjoying my brewmaster in dungeons. Brewmasters have fewer cool toys than vengeance in that department. That grants vengeance the chance to feel smart when they use their toys well, but it also risk simplifying their world, too. When you drop a timely sigil of flame, and the boss dies, does that feel triumphant? That’s meant to be rhetorical, because sometimes it feels great and it doesn’t even register as a challenge. Similar with brewmaster, does it feel great to passively shrug off so much damage with Ironskin Brew? Sometimes yes, and sometimes it makes survival too easy.

All these struggles have cause me to wonder if I should be playing a brewmaster exclusively. Clearly that class just clicked with me, whereas vengeance has not yet. But I’m still having fun playing vengeance, and I am getting better, albeit slowly. Apart from that, all this discomfort at learning new things is making me a better player. For one thing, coming from a class with Guard, I never needed to development my external cooldown calling skills; a skill I will need raiding on my demon hunter. I also have to pay attention to other things going on in the raid when survival is hard. Struggling forces me to find creative solutions. It’s a worthy time and effort investment all around, but it comes with a cost of playing at a lower level until I get there.

Learning requires challenge. Not too much to discourage, but just enough to stick. The places where I’m most engaged in each class are the places I feel like I can improve, and I know how to improve. When I’m tanking as a brewmaster and planning all my brews around my elusive brawler and ox orbs, I feel smart and enjoy it immensely. When I’m picking up adds as vengeance and I’m planning all my cooldowns around their attacks and all my add pickup abilities around how frequently I can use them, I feel smart. When I’m mobbed by casters and archers on my monk I feel frustrated and out of control, because I can’t find a solution other than doing exactly what I’m already doing. When I’m getting trucked by a hard-hitting boss on my demon hunter, I am overwhelmed with managing my plethora of cooldowns that may or may not be effective here.

Recently, while running another random heroic on my demon hunter, I realized that I was feeling more confident. I was pulling bigger groups, rotating my cooldowns (even though I didn’t really need them), and felt like I almost knew what I was doing. I don’t know if I’ll ever be as good on my demon hunter as I am on my monk, but it’s fun just to try. I really want to play both classes intuitively, and the best path for that is to keep putting myself in difficult situations and problem-solving my way out.

  • Leonardo Rodrigues

    It is incredible how I relate too much with the text; as you, I changed from my brewmaster to vengeance, and at start I felt like Vengeance were so much ahead from Brewmaster, especially because of BM refactor that made me really sad.
    But now, with progress going well and ‘mastering’ my demon hunter, I feel like it have some complicate tools that are by far completely disposable… While BM feels like a whole package, even with so much changed…
    It is like Vengeance has a big kit with especifics applications to it that make me just ‘dumb’ down and face roll my skills… Because does not feels worthy to change your gameplay anytime has a different mechanic…
    I mean, it is really fun learn to tank with Vengeance; reach the high skill cap is really boring…
    This skill cap was much more fun with my Brewmaster.

  • Mauritz Nordin

    So i came back to the game after stopping halfway into HFC while we did do good, Xhul’horac. but when i came back to noticed that my “main” tank guardian, had been completely overhauled and felt strange to me, so i decided to go and try out DH Vengeance. A new tank class and felt over joyed because it was a long time ago since i “tried” a new class, as i have been maining my druid since late cataclysm and i started to really enjoy the DH while i was lvling and the normal dungeons, when i come up to mythic plus and just regular mythics, i feel that i sometime am overpowered and have the ability to counter every little thing that can get thrown at me, but then there are pulls like Halls of Valor, in the big room with the tables, and if just one thing extra gets pulled you start to feel a bit insecure that your able to handle this, that you don’t have the cds for this or you just used that sigill of chains that makes it unable to grp things up properly and that one guy that doesn’t go out with the aoe stun. You just know that that’s the end of you, but you miraculously survive because you have your one “oh shit i could have died there” but didn’t bc you gained 20000% more hp and healer is top in his game saving you from your dumb mistake, while when i think about it after we just did the dungeon if i had the same gear and about the same in everything on my druid i probably would have been able to come out of that situation with a bit less of a scare then i would have with my demon hunter, while i find it “fun” in those moments, you get that rush about having to save the grp because if you don’t do things good you will wipe them, but to conclude i find the Demon hunter really fun and quite strong in most scenarios, and you have to plan a lot more with your “tanking” then you usually do especially as a old bear tanker, but you have more utility but not really the proper “defensiveness” that makes you feel safe, while as exhilarating as that is its not preferable in my honest opinion and would make it hard to play as you put it the class “intuitively”

  • Andreas Frohm

    Great text Sunnier. Also maining the BM and starten playing wow In legion. Finding your guides very helpfull :) tried a few other tanks but only really clicked with the monk. Kind regards from Sweden

  • michael jacks

    OMG! You nailed it! Keep up the good work as I keep up my campaign to solo as a BM every world boss this expansion.

  • Drew Miller

    Awesome thoughts! I was hoping you’d discuss how each class was feeling to you, and here it is. :D

    I find I feel quite the opposite: the DH if anything feels extraordinarily basic to me – baseline phys damage reducer for resources on short cooldown, rotational strong self-heal, very cool targeted phys damage reducer on minute cooldown, magic reducer, and an oh snap! button we also get for a purgatory-like ability. I think we do feel a bit soft. I came to the class though with a lot of experience as a protadin and blood tank, which may make the difference. By contrast, when I play the BM, the shuffle debuff has me feeling like I’m hemorrhaging constantly without enough brew charges to manage it! It’s a lot harder for me to arrive at how it should feel when I’m doing it right. 0_o

    I do think that vengeance is a superb tank for 5man content, but benefits strongly from full use of the toolkit. An anecdote: last night I was tanking a regular mythic BRH (mythic+0?) where one of the DPS was DCing regularly due to the hurricane, and another was being carried for gear. The demon gauntlet before the 3rd boss was consequently not going well. I was the only one who made it to the top, with a mountain of bats and two demons with 9 stacks of empowerment, and thought I was done for, but then I dropped Sigil of Misery.

    This is an ability I’d rarely use, because in a group setting the CC is almost always obliterated by subsequent damage. (And normally, I mainspec havoc anyway.) By myself though? It’s true AoE CC that lasts for 30 seconds! I was able to catch my breath and wait for the empowerment buff to fall off and my own cooldowns to come back up, and then kill them before the rest of my team was able to run back in. And it felt really, really good. :D

    Now, I’m thinking about how I will use Misery all the time: to incapacitate half of those tough pulls leading up to the hall entrance in HoV, or some of those packs in early VoW.

  • Mepmop

    I read online that brm lags a little bit behind other tanks. This is imho only popular opinion. I did feel like brewmasters lagged a medium cooldown defensive CD (fortyfing brews 7 mins, even with deduction from keg smash and tiger palm, is a bit too much). That’s when I got the tanking trinket from Ursoc. BRM is supernice to play harder content once you have that trinket. I honestly think Blizzard made it so that certain classes need certain trinkets to be a good option for harder content. It’s almost like it’s the class trinket :)

    • Mepmop

      BTW, long time bloglurker here. I’ve opened your website during my early brewmastering days countless times. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and expertise with us fellow brewers :)

  • Gary Hicks

    I still LOVE my Brewmaster, so glad I stuck with him! It’s a challenge to keep up with Protection Warriors’ performance, but then (in my opinion) Brewmasters have the most fun and engaging rotation so I’m happy.

  • Taoiseach

    Like a lot of the other commenters here, as well as yourself, coming into legion seemed like a great time to try something new. I mained a Death Knight in WoD and after picking up the Demon Hunter on alpha and beta thought I had found a new main. It felt like it had a lot of toys in its toolkit that I had already enjoyed on the Death Knight, but with a slightly different flavor. On top of that it had mobility. Oh, the glorious mobility Demon Hunters have. It’s something I was always so jealous of other tanks for. Before the Death Knight I was a pally, back before the pocket pony. Mobility was esentially the rose colored glasses that led me down a very unfulfilling path.

    I leveled up in the first day, being the second group in my guild to hit 110 and started getting gear. I felt a little squishy in dungeons, but I figured that was a combination of many things: A) Learning a new class and what rotational abilities and cooldowns were important B) A lack of gear C) Waiting for more artifact traits to come on line to finish out the spec. I kept with it because I still enjoyed the self healing, I felt like the kit was robust and had options to it that were very attractive, and again (and I can’t say it enough) mobility felt so so good.

    Going into raids was very eye opening however. My co-tank is a paladin. While leaps did help out with many mechanics (Infesting rot, elerethe’s spider gauntlet, getting interrupts on distant mind flays on Il’gynoth, dragon swapping, etc…. there’s something on almost every fight that was made simpler if not trivialized by that leap and its short cooldown) the rose colored glasses gave up the ghost. I struggled for the first time in forever with threat. I was consistently taking a LOT more damage than my co-tank even piling on haste and basically rolling CD’s. I was draining my healers’ mana and regularly sitting at 50% while still doing everything I could to prevent it. Researching other people’s thoughts on talent builds, rotations, etc. didn’t assuage the issue. I longed for the days on my DK where a wipe would be called and I’d get in trouble for not being able to die despite it being just me and the boss. It got me to start playing the DK again and level him up because at the least, I wanted to keep him current with Artifact Knowledge and maybe I’d bring him into the alt runs.

    Then so many things were clarified. I felt like I was doing all I could on the Demon Hunter. I really felt like I was getting a hang of the spec and I felt like my mastery of it was building. I wasn’t there yet, not by a long shot, but I was figuring out the tricks that were helping. I figured out a couple builds that seemed to work and at least fit how I thought the spec should be played. But at the end of the day, there’s something that resonated with me about my DK, not just the way the spec worked or my success with it, but the whole package of that character.

    I was maybe 850 on the DK, while my Demon Hunter was 871 and went into a base mythic DHT with a guild group. Our pally healer didn’t know I was planning to switch but it came up casually with me and one of the DPS when he gave me a compliment after a rather well controlled multi pack pull (basically I picked up everything from Glaidalis to Oakheart). I said “Yeah, well, you know there’s no place like home.” The pally responded: “Oh, you’re switching back? FINALLY.” Apparently even my lower geared DK was way easier to heal. Going back into raids, I got a lot more praise from our healers. I made their life a lot easier in a noticeable way. And I was having more fun doing it too.

    I think you pointed this out on Tankcast, but out in the world and even in the order hall, my demon hunter, the guy that Kayn (or Altruis, but i mean, 88% of people choose Kayn according to Ion’s blizzcon presentation) put in charge while Illidan was away, the guy that broke all demon hunters out of their green crystal cages, the guy wielding the Warblades of the Aldrachi, who sacrificed himself on Mardum to spare his fellow Demon Hunter’s life, would be greeted by other demon hunters, other members of the Illidari, our order with “I’ve sacrificed everything! What have YOU given.” Meanwhile, upon teleporting (which sure beats gliding) to Acherus, I’m greeted EVERY time with “The Deathlord Approaches! Knights, salute!” and the illusion was broken. I decided to revert back to my old main, the one that spoke to me, the one that threw off the yoke of Arthas, the one not only seeking to save the world that hates him from the Legion but also save his fellow knights. The forsaken hero that stopped archimonde that finally saw his queen rise to warchief. I played as a blood elf for the better part of a decade and was tired of it. I started forsaken and it felt good to be home. I mained Death Knight last xpac and wondered why I didn’t do it sooner. I’m maining Deathknight again this xpac, and again, wondered why I didn’t do it sooner. There’s no place like home.

  • Quasi

    I had last been tanking back in MoP, didn’t really play in WoD. I had mained a Monk then and enjoyed it. When I came back I decided to try a DH, but also have a monk. Usually I’m tanking side-by-side with a Druid, the differences there are very stark. If you account for the amounts of healing I’m doing, the amounts that the healers are having to heal each of us is about the same, but my Yo-yo health is just scary to them still when we push in heroic EN.

    I recently started up my Monk again, and just tanking 5mans and such with it. I feel like I have so much less control for those oh s*** situations on the BrM, but I feel so much more durable than my DH did at the same level. Open world and Mythics though, I just have the feeling that the DH would be my goto, the self-healing is so nice when the damage isn’t about the constantly one-shot me. That said, I find myself wishing I had mained my Brew to start since I feel that while there’s less self-healing, there is a huge difference in durability when backed by a healer.

    I can solo just about anything on the DH, but if I have a healer, the bar is so much higher for the Brew.