Throughout Mists and Warlords, our level 75 defensive talents have been exemplary. The choice between the three talents was always compelling and varied; the universally useful (but minor) Healing Elixirs, the strong damage reduction (but restricted uptime) of Dampen Harm, and the impressive magical damage reduction (but situational use) of Diffuse Magic.
But when the tanking paradigm changed in Legion, these talents suffered. In a world where big defensive cooldowns were neutered, and active mitigation was molded to fill that role, Diffuse Magic and Dampen Harm fell into disuse. Compared to Ironskin Brew, both abilities were ineffective. Diffuse Magic could reduce magic damage pretty well, but why waste a talent on it when Ironskin Brew is nearly as good, and most boss burst magic were designed to be countered by frequently usable active mitigation anyway. Dampen Harm could be used to reduce those giant physical attacks, but if it was used at the same time as Ironskin it was unlikely to even trigger. These two talents were built in a time when infrequent defensive cooldowns were necessary, and clung to that ideology even when tanks changed to value frequent defensives much more.
But, in 7.1.5, that’s all going to change!
Replacing Diffuse Magic:
Mystic Vitality: Stagger is now fully effective* against magical attacks. Passive.
(* Actual effectiveness subject to balancing.)
Redesigned Dampen Harm:
Dampen Harm: Reduces all damage you take by 20% to 50% for 10 sec, with larger attacks being reduced by more. 2 minute cooldown.
I’m excited about these changes. I think Mystic Vitality remains a niche talent that’s really strong for magic damage, especially in raids. I can see uses for it against Elerethe and Xavius for sure, worth experimenting with on Il’gynoth, Dragons, Cenarius, and Helya. The fact that it’s passive allows it to synergize with our active mitigation, instead of supplanting it.
The new Dampen Harm could reclaim its former role of reducing big, predictable damage, with the additional benefit of no longer requiring big hits to trigger, and no limit of three big hits. I can see using it for any bosses that have “spear” attacks (Odyn, Cenarius), where Ironskin Brew alone might not cut it, or for bosses where you might stagger so much damage you need to Purify twice (Ursoc, Guarm). It will also be good to just have a traditional damage reduction ability. So much of the Legion brewmaster is about smoothing damage (which I love), but having a little bit of true damage reduction to opt into will be welcome.
Healing Elixir didn’t see any changes, but it didn’t need to. It was adjusted to the new tanking paradigm quite early, and fills a vital self-healing niche that’s lacking in the brewmaster toolkit. I think Healing Elixir will still stay dominant in solo play and dungeons, and any other situation where you have limited healers. Like before Legion, Healing Elixir is your all-around useful choice, though with these changes it won’t be the only choice anymore.
There are a few more talent updates, though none are quite so revolutionary. Many of our lesser-used talents (Elusive Dance, Gift of the Mists) got buffs, and I expect to see more balancing later on.
Ring of Peace was also redesigned.
Ring of Peace: Form a Ring of Peace at the target location for 8 sec. Enemies that enter will be ejected from the Ring. 45 second cooldown. 40 yard placement range.
This makes Ring of Peace a sort of reverse Sigil of Chains that can be placed on the ground instead of a friendly target. This fixes one of my main problems with Ring of Peace, in that I almost never wanted to cast it on myself and there was a lot of overhead for casting it on someone else (like macros, or the whole process of targeting someone in the field and casting). It also no longer requires enemies to actually cast inside the ring, making it much more universal.
I can think of some places to use this, like Il’gynoth bloods in raids. I might use it in dungeons to knock casters on to me, as long as the range is nice. I can see its use in affixes like Necrotic, to help me kite or reset stacks against mobs that can’t be stunned.
If tanks ever become viable in PvP, I can absolutely see Ring of Peace being my top battleground choice as a way to keep enemies off points, or to protect teammates without triggering diminishing returns on crowd control. This talent is also available to the other monk specs, so you can still use it as you wait for tanks to be acceptable again.
I still believe it will be hard to disrupt Leg Sweep’s momentum as the default talent choice in that tier. It’s generally assumed that you have Leg Sweep in any dungeon, and for good reason. It’s one of the best mythic crowd controls available. If I’m in a group that already has a healthy set of stuns (which I actually have in my regular group), I might pick Ring of Peace over Leg Sweep.