One Year of Brewmasters

It’s been a little more than a year since brewmasters became playable on the MoP Beta. And my, have things turned out differently. We went from using Guard as our primary active mitigation tool, to spending most of our time channeling, to finally kicking our enemies in the face to reduce damage and loving crit. Here is a look back at the changing state of brewmasters.

I don’t know why they needed a Pandaren Monk pet as a placeholder for this NPC


October 22-23, 2011

Blizzcon 2011, where Mists of Pandaria was announced. Low level monks were playable, had no auto-attacks, and managed a resource system that included energy, Light Chi, and Dark Chi.

March 19, 2012

Blizzard released MoP notes to fan sites, including a lot of information on monks. Of course, no one had really played a monk at this point (except at Blizzcon a few months prior), so these notes were often confusing and incomplete.

April 6, 2012

My first post on brewmasters after actually getting into the beta. At this point, Guard was our primary active mitigation and it had little to no cooldown. Blackout Kick was only used when it procced off parries. Dizzying Haze didn’t work on bosses. And our only way to generate chi was Jab and Expel Harm.

April 13, 2012

Keg Smash was introduced. Guard became what it is today, and our new primary active mitigation tool was Shuffle. Shuffle was a channeled skill that simply guaranteed that Stagger would proc for the duration (stagger was random back then). Our basic rotation included standing there Shuffling for 6 seconds, then using Purifying Brew, then fitting in a Keg Smash and Jab to repeat the process.

May 6, 2012

The birth of my Brewmaster guide and it’s when we started to look like the modern monk. Shuffle got attached to Blackout Kick, stagger became reliable, and our mastery was changed to push more damage into stagger, as opposed to reducing that damage automatically.

May 23, 2012

We got Zen Flight, worried about bugs that made Keg Smash not awesome, and Blackout Kick no longer did more damage when the target was in execute range.

June 2, 2012

Level 90 was unlocked, along with our final tier of talents. Which, surprisingly, have not changed much since.

June 19, 2012

Elusive Brew, a way to make crit useful, finally turned into its modern implementation. Mastery was nerfed to no longer increase parry.

Once upon a time, you could create a pandaren with black hair and a red tail. More like a real life red panda. But Blizzard took it out, probably because too many people liked it.

Detailed Skill Changes

Way back before the beta began, the monks previewed at Blizzcon had no auto-attack. Instead, Jab filled that role. That quickly changed when the developers decided it just wasn’t practical. Jab started out with a different name depending on your weapon. The dropped names were: Club (maces), Slice (swords), Sever (axes), Pike (polearms), and Clobber (staves). Now only the icon changes with weapons.

Dizzying Haze

40 Energy, 40 yd range, Instant
You hurl a keg of your finest brew, reducing the movement speed of all enemies within 8 yards by 15%.
Affected targets have a 3% chance to have their attacks misfire and strike themselves instead for 5141 damage. Stacks up to 3 times.

It spent a few weeks with the name “Drunken Haze”, and could stack 3 times. The debuff did not apply to bosses. Early on it didn’t apply any threat, either, and it was our only AoE tool that didn’t cost Chi.


3 Chi, Instant
Requires Ox Stance
You guard against future attacks, absorbing 38,478 damage for 8 seconds.

Initially, Guard had little to no cooldown and cost 3 chi. It was our primary active mitigation back then. It quickly changed to what we have today.


You shrug off attacks, causing 50% of the damage to happen instantly and the remaining 50% to happen 3 sec later.

The idea of stagger was similar to today, but the details were very different. For one, stagger was a random chance, much like block. It went through a few iterations of numbers, but started out shaving 50% of every staggered hit into the after-effect dot. This related to mastery, which reduced the damage of the after-effect dot, not the initial hit like it does today. We also had no way to monitor our stagger damage except for the scrolling combat text.


2 Chi, Channeled
You shuffle around, causing all melee attacks to be staggered. While shuffling, you cannot move, attack, or cast spells.

Shuffle was an actual ability that cost 2 chi and was supposed to be part of our active mitigation rotation. Because we weren’t guaranteed to stagger every hit, this skill was theoretically useful because it guaranteed that stagger for the duration. The downside was that it was a channeled spell and effectively left us doing nothing for the duration. In the beginning, this had a moderate cooldown. Later on, they gave it no cooldown and it spent some time as our primary active mitigation tool (which meant we were actually spending most of our tanking channeling).

Elusive Brew/ Elusive Ale

1 Chi, Instant, 45 sec cooldown
Increases your chance to dodge melee and ranged attacks by 50% for 10 seconds.

It cost 1 chi and simply granted 50% dodge for 10 seconds, with a 45 second cooldown. It was so very boring.

Breath of Fire

2 Chi, 40 yd range, Instant
Breathes fire onto the target, causing 2.385 damage. Damage is multiplied by the number of Drunken Haze stacks of the target.

Breath of Fire started out with no DoT component, and instead it just did more burst damage when Dizzying Haze was on the target. It did decent damage back then, even single target. However, it required 3 stacks of Dizzying Haze to deal maximum damage. Sadly, because the Dizzying Haze debuff did not apply to bosses, Breath of Fire was rarely useful.

Spinning Crane Kick

1 Chi, Instant
You spin while kicking in the air, dealing 218 Physical damage every 1 second to all nearby enemies within 8 yards. Movement speed is reduced by 30%. Lasts 6 seconds.

Cost 1 chi instead of energy like today. Also lasted a whopping 6 seconds.

Tiger Palm
Initially cost 1 chi and buffed your next guard by 5% (stacked up to 15%). It was rarely worth using because you could mitigate more damage by putting all your chi into Guards instead of buffing a single cast. They went back and forth between free and 1 chi during the beta.

Blackout Kick

2 Chi, Melee Range, Instant, 3 sec cooldown
Kick with a blast of sha energy, causing 471 Physical damage to an enemy target. Only usable on targets at or below 35% health. If the target is killed by Blackout Kick, you are refunded 1 Chi.

It started out exclusively as an execute ability, did not provide shuffle, and was purely a dps button. Brewmasters did have a passive ability that gave us a free Blackout Kick after each parry, though our parry was so low that this happened once in a blue moon.


Reduced damage taken by stagger by X% and increased the effect of Guard by X%. Remember that stagger was still random and initially reduced a hit by 50%, so this mastery reduced the after effect. This mastery was passive and was actually negated by Purifying Brew. Later, they removed the Guard-improving aspect and added a parry increase, though that too was taken away in time.

Had no use for a long time, which was very concerning.

Nothing all that special, but we did get 5 energy per dodge.


In the beginning of the beta, we had around 5% base parry and no other way to obtain it, besides reforging. It did increase our dps a tiny bit by giving a chance for free Blackout Kicks. Later on, our mastery changed to increase parry as well, but now we only get it through Shuffle.

Black Ox Statue

Guard (on-click effect)Allies can right-click the Statue to gain the Guard effect, absorbing 12,826 damage. Any healing done by the Monk is increased by 30% while Guard is active. Guard has 10 charges.

Required people to click on the statue, similar to Light Well, to get the shield. It only had 10 charges with a 5min cooldown. Brewmasters could click it too, and it became an important part of our mitigation to keep the statue for ourselves and click it every few seconds.

Leer of the Ox
Now it’s a glyph, but back then it was one of our baseline skills.

Stance of the Drunken Ox

Reduces damage taken by 20% and increases your chance to Stagger damage by 25%.

It’s now called “Stance of the Sturdy Ox”, but I love the image of a drunken bovine. Note that we didn’t have any health increases or crit resistance yet.

Purifying Brew
It used to have a moderate cooldown, which was quickly reduced to 6 sec, and then the 1 sec it is now. Its function hasn’t changed much, though its usefulness has. Back when mastery reduced the DoT after the hit, it was actually counter-active to purifying Brew usage. If you used Purifying Brew, your mastery was entirely wasted.

Keg Smash
We didn’t get this skill for a long time, which meant our chi generation was incredibly slow and Dizzying Haze was our only other AoE tool we could use at the beginning of a pull.

Used to be called Clashing Ox Charge. It also didn’t have a minimum range, so we had yet another AoE stun at our disposal in melee range.

Avert Harm

15 yd range, Instant, 1 min cooldown
You reduce the damage taken by all nearby friendly targets with in 10 yards by 20% and cause half of all remaining damage they take to be re-directed to you. Lasts for 15 sec.
Avert Harm is cancelled if you reach 10% or lower health.

Not only did it have a greatly reduced cooldown compared to now, it also had a hidden bonus of reducing all damage the monk took by 20%, making it similar to Barkskin.

Initially cost 50 energy instead of charges.

Fortifying Brew / Fortifying Ale

Instant, 3 min cooldown
Increases your health by 100%, but you cannot be healed. Lasts 20 seconds.

For a long time, our only big cooldown was this skill that could so easily kill us and in a beginner’s hands (or even an experienced players hands) do more damage than good. It would have required a cancel macro, among other things, because 20 seconds is a long time to tank without any heals. Later into the beta, it changed so that all the heals you took during the 20 second duration were effectively saved up and then healed you after it ended, though that did nothing to reduce the initial danger element. I remember being very concerned about monk’s lack of big cooldowns, and I was convinced they just weren’t implemented yet. Luckily, Fortifying Brew grew into something that filled this role, though I still wish we had a traditional damage reduction ability (not that we need it).

Spear Hand / Spear Hand Strike

30 Energy, Melee Range, Instant, 30 sec cooldown
You jab the target in their throat, interrupting their spell cast and preventing any spell in that school from being cast for 5 seconds.If the enemy is facing you, when they cast, they are also silenced out of all schools for 5 seconds.

The function was the same, but having an interrupt with such a long cooldown proved difficult.


Some of these talents were not yet implemented before they disapeared, and some I may have just forgotten about.


Level 15 Talent
Your roll ability cost no Chi. This effect becomes inactive for 15 seconds after use.

I think this was initially a typo, because even back in beta Roll cost energy, not Chi. But anyway, this would have been near mandatory for any raiding monk if they had not changed Roll to a charge system.


Level 15 Talent
Your roll ability will move you at a slightly longer distance, and at a slightly quicker speed.

I think it would have been hard to adjust between a Celerity roll and any other type, though going further would be nice.


Level 15 Talent
Every time you roll, you gain a stacking 10% movement speed buff. Stacks up to 3 times.

Not much different. A smaller speed boost that could stack higher, though it doesn’t compare to the modern version.

Level 30 Talents
These were our chi modifying talents. Other than their location on our talent grid, they remain similar to today. Ascension didn’t have the energy boost it does today, but that didn’t happen until after launch. Chi Brew was called Jin’yu Cider.

Leg Sweep & Charging Ox Wave
Surprisingly similar to today, but they each cost 1 chi.


Level 60 Talent
Channeled, 45 sec cooldown
You escape your Physical form, dematerializing into the ether avoiding all damage for 3 seconds.

This was a talent that cost 1 chi and granted 100% avoidance for 3 seconds. It prevented any other action for the duration. Now it’s a mistweaver-exclusive passive ability.


Level 60 Talent
When attacked, your movement speed is increased by 3% and you cause all nearby enemies to move at 3% reduced speed within 8 yards. This effect can stack up to 6 times.

I never used it because Dematerialize was a much better tanking talent.

Tiger’s Lust
Another level 60 talent, but I can’t remember if it was different than today’s instantiation. It looks similar to Beguile, so likely it was another sprint that cost Chi.

Ring of Peace

Level 75 Talent
Instant, 2 min cooldown
Forms a sanctuary around you, causing all enemies to be unable to attack or cast harmful spells while within it. Lasts 10 seconds.

Similar in spirit to the Ring of Peace we have now, though in completely different tiers.

Chi Serpent

Level 75 Talent
1 Chi, 60 yard range, Instant, 2 min cooldown
You summon a ball of chi energy, dealing damage and healing all targets within its path within 60 yards.While it’s traveling, you can discharge the sphere, dealing x damage/healing to all targets at it’s current location and reducing/increasing all targets movement speed by 70% for 3 seconds, but cancelling the sphere.

Chi Serpent sounds like the spiritual ancestor of Chi Burst and Zen Sphere.

Chi Cocoon

Level 75 Talent
Channeled, 2 min cooldown
You encase the friendly or enemy target in a cocoon, shielding them from all outside damage and healing and causing them unable to attack. Deals x damage to enemies and y healing to allies every 1 second for 8 seconds.

This eventually grew into Life Cocoon, the mistweaver cooldown.

Level 90 Talents
The level 90 talents we have today were implemented before we were allowed to reach 90 in the beta, so we never had a chance to test out the other options that were in place before the final change.

Rushing Jade Wind

Level 90 Talent
40 yard range, Instant, 2 min cooldown
You encase the friendly or enemy target in a whirling jade tornado, becoming immune to all damage and healing and traveling at a quick speed in a distance in front of you.

I guess they just liked the name because today’s RJW is nothing like this cyclone-lifegrip hybrid.

Chi Bind

Level 90 Talent
Instant, 1 min cooldown
Binds yourself to your targeted statue with a tether of chi energy, causing any friend or foe caught in its path to take x damage or y healing.

I think Blizzard took the idea of aimed (as opposed to targeted) damage and healing and applied it to other skills like Chi Burst.

Dampen Harm
It didn’t exist at first, then became a talent. Its function was much the same as today except it cost 1 chi, had a 30 second cooldown, and activated for hits > 10% health.

The tiny little girl pandaren and the little boys with moonkin pet animations made for an interesting experience.