I’ve cleared all of this raid on both vengeance and brewmaster, enough offer a decent comparison of the two specs I main. Both are roughly the same ilevel, with experience on the same bosses.
For Emerald Nightmare, I started bosses on my DH and took my brewmaster on farm. Originally this was because I am far more comfortable on my monk and I wanted to force myself to learn my demon hunter. It ended up being handy because the way a DH times their AM can more easily apply to the way a monk applies AM than the other way around. I can learn to time my Demon Spikes around an event, and that maps to Ironskin Brew pretty well. In contrast, a brewmaster is much more flexible, and can potentially use Ironskin much more often than a DH could do with Demon Spikes.
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.
The biggest changes you might see if you import these are:
Health and reactive mitigation:
Soul Cleave prediction is now a bar that displays your estimated Soul Cleave compared to your max health. It’s designed to sit on top of the health bar so you can easily compare the two.
Stagger is still a bar, but it’s no longer color coded (since you typically don’t decide when to Purify based on color in Legion). It’s designed to sit on top of the health bar so you can easily compare the two.
I made these changes because in my experimentation, I found it incredibly useful to see the abilities whose relative importance depends on my current or max health displayed in the same way.
Ironskin (& Purifying) Brews are now displayed as “pills”, one icon per charge.
Demon Spikes, Empower Wards, and Soul Barrier are now grouped and displayed as “pills”, with Demon Spikes getting one icon per charge.
I made these changes to emphasize when I am full on charges of active mitigation, or when I am about to run out completely. Charges having their own icons emphasizes the psuedo-resource state of these abilities.
Item cooldowns have been moved to their own group (trinkets, artifact spells). I did this because the main defensive cooldown group was getting too busy, especially on the demon hunter. Also, since this group is made up of mostly trinkets, I can easily share it between my tanks.
So brewmasters aren’t so popular anymore, but they’re still as powerful as ever. How can this be? Why am I still playing one? Why does the community at large think they’re terrible? What can be done to fix it?
I’ve said before that if I were making choices solely based on progression, and not my irrational need to experiment with new things, I would be favoring my brewmaster in raids. And truth be told, I’m getting closer and closer to my ideal of playing my monk and demon hunter equally. The deeper we get into the expansion, the more my love of brewmasters grows, and it becomes ever more frustrating to see that not only do people fail to appreciate them the same way I do, but they think their strengths are actually weaknesses!
Maybe I need to do a better job of professing my love for this specialization, and so here it is: a whole lot of words about what keeps me playing a brewmaster and what could make playing one better.
I love both classes, and for entirely different reasons. I get very excited about Brewmaster’s ironskin/purify gameplay and the artifact Fu Zan. And I can’t wait to leap around and play with talent builds as Vengeance. There’s a lot to look forward to!