Brewmaster Patch 5.4 Survival Guide

There are a lot of goodies in this patch, so I’m going to stick with the stuff that affects PvE Brewmasters.

In summary:

  • You’ll be doing less damage, thanks to Vengeance and Keg Smash nerfs.
  • Chi Brew might be worth speccing into, sometimes.
  • Xuen should work better.
  • Rushing Jade Wind has been redesigned. Still your best AoE talent choice.
  • Chi Burst no longer requires a target so you can use it like the old RJW.
  • Some new glyphs, most of which aren’t terribly exciting.
  • A new legendary! Plus changes to the old legendary gems.
  • Our stat priorities will sort of change because we’re reaching ridiculously high levels of crit, and changing tier bonuses.
  • Proving Grounds, which will be the new best way to practice your Brewmastery skills.

Vengeance, Threat, and DPS

Vengeance Nerf

There have been significant changes to Vengeance for all tanks. In short, you’ll be getting less of it, which means less dps for you. Most of these changes are here to discourage Vengeance abuse, like tanking twice as many adds for twice the vengeance or intentionally getting crit for the higher vengeance.

  • Characters in a tanking specialization now generates 40% more threat.
  • Vengeance now grants Attack Power equal to 1.5% of the damage taken, down from 1.8% (The tooltip said 2% but it was actually 1.8%).
  • Tanks no longer receive Vengeance from many persistent area damage effects (standing in the fire) or from missed attacks (dodging and parrying an attack will continue to work as it has before).
  • Vengeance gains from being critically hit have been reduced by 50%.
  • There are now diminishing returns on Vengeance gains while tanking multiple targets. Each additional target grants progressively less Vengeance.
  • So as not to affect Challenge Mode leader boards, the above Vengeance changes will not apply there. For Challenge Modes, Vengeance will continue to work as it did in patch 5.3.

The repercussions of these changes are: you’ll deal less damage, your abilities that scale with attack power (Guard, Expel Harm, etc) will be less potent, and you shouldn’t feel required to act in weird ways just to gain vengeance.


All taunt type abilities now increase all threat generated against the target while the taunt is active by 200%.

This is a simple, quality of life change that should make it easier to keep aggro after you taunt. It was put there because previously it was easy for a low vengeance tank to taunt off a high vengeance tank only to lose threat in a few seconds due to dps differences.

Keg Smash Nerf

Keg Smash now deals 18% less damage.

Let’s face it — we were dealing too much damage. It should equate to roughly 5% reduction in our dps. The Rushing Jade Wind redesign should help make up some of that AoE damage.

Weird Scaling Bugs

Fixed a bug that caused the damage of some abilities for Brewmasters with Vengeance to scale incorrectly.

It turns out that our abilities scaled differently with vengeance and without. The result of these fixes is that our dps will not scale so well at high vengeance.

With vengeance reduction, Keg Smash nerfs, and this scaling fix, you will see your dps drop. Brewmasters have been the best damage-dealing-tanks for a while now, so while this is depressing it’s also necessary.


Chi Brew Improvement

Chi Brew now restores 2 Chi, has a 45-second cooldown (down from 1.5 minutes), and generates 5 stacks of Elusive Brew.

While Ascension and Power Strikes will remain the best chi generating talents over the course of a fight, Chi Brew should fill a niche that might be useful. That niche is anything that requires a cold tank swap (where you might not have chi and Elusive Brew built up and you start out very squishy) or a fight where you might need more precise control over Elusive Brew.

Power Strikes Modification

Power Strikes will now activate from the following Chi generating abilities; Jab, Expel Harm, Spinning Crane Kick (when it hits at least 3 targets), Crackling Jade Lightning, and Soothing Mist.

Attaching the Power Strikes proc to Expel Harm and Spinning Crane Kick is a nice change but doesn’t increase the actual chi you get from the skill.

Xuen Improvements

Invoke Xuen, the White Tiger now has a pet control bar for Xuen, and the talent is no longer on global cooldown for all Monk specializations.

The pet bar gives you control over Xuen’s taunt and leap, both of which were previously cast automatically and caused a few problems. The safest route is to turn both off of autocast and use them when those skills are needed.

Brewmaster Monks now gain Vengeance when Xuen takes damage.

This is a small change that will probably be felt in 5 mans, where Xuen can tank trash for you.

Rushing Jade Wind Redesign

Rushing Jade Wind has been redesigned and replaces Spinning Crane Kick.
Rushing Jade Wind: The Monk summons a whirling tornado around them, dealing damage to nearby enemies (heals nearby allies for Mistweavers). Rushing Jade Wind has the same costs, Chi generation, and periodic rate as Spinning Crane kick, but, deals 80% of the periodic damage or healing, lasts 6 seconds, is instant, and not channeled.

Basically, Rushing Jade Wind is an improved Spinning Crane Kick that does slightly less damage but allows you to use other actions, instead of channeling the spin forever. This talent is very good for us, especially in any sustained AoE encounters. It’s a big buff to our AoE damage overall, and the instant cast allows us to continue generating Elusive Brew stacks for the duration. If an boss throws lots of adds at you regularly, then spec into RJW. If the boss throws adds rarely or not at all, you’ll want the cleave and single-target damage from Xuen. If a fight doesn’t really need dps but your raid could use some healing, go with Chi Torpedo.

Chi Burst Redesign

Chi Burst no longer requires a target. It now travels as a 40-yard line in front of the Monk.

The ranged AoE aspect of the old Rushing Jade Wind was seemingly transfered to Chi Burst, along with removing the target requirement. It should work much the same as old RJW, but with a cast time and heal component. Spec into this new Chi Burst for fights that need ranged add pickup, straight up AoE burst damage or, just like now, when a fight requires the raid to group up for heals.

Zen Sphere Buff

Zen Sphere now deals 15% more healing and damage.

Pretty straightforward increase. I’m one of the rare Brewmasters who has a soft spot for Zen Sphere, as it’s useful during hectic, high damage situations where you can’t always react quickly enough to heal yourself. But for the rest of you, Chi Wave and Chi Burst will be more attractive.

Healing Elixirs Improvements

Healing Elixirs will no longer activate if the Monk is already at full health, and activate automatically when the Monk has less than 35% of their maximum health.

The more effective healing doesn’t make Healing Elixirs that competitive compared to Dampen Harm or Diffuse Magic, but it’s still a nice change. You shouldn’t have to worry about using Elusive Brew at maximum health and thus wasting the heal, and it will automatically heal you when you drop low. I can see myself using this during hectic encounters where my health dips faster than I can react, just like Zen Sphere. (Actually, if combined with Desperate Measures and Zen Sphere, we actually have a lot of low health heals.)

Ring of Peace has a new visual effect that properly depicts its area-of-effect, and now disarms both enemies and those attacking allies within the Ring of Peace’s area-of-effect for 4 seconds (up from 3 seconds); the silence effect for casting spells remains unchanged at 3 seconds.

An additional second on the disarm portion is small, but the new effect is pretty.


There are many new and improved glyphs, but I’m only going to cover the ones we might use in PvE.

Rapid Rolling

Glyph of Rapid Rolling makes the next Roll or Chi Torpedo go farther after using a Roll or Chi Torpedo. Replaces Glyph of Expel Harm.

Glyph of Expel Harm increased the range of Expel Harm by 10 yards. Now instead of that, we get about 10 extra yards on consecutive Rolls. I personally don’t like it because I have a feeling I’m going to forget about those extra 10 yards and roll off a cliff, but that’s just me.

Fortuitous Spheres

Glyph of Fortuitous Spheres causes a healing sphere to be summoned near the Monk at no cost when their health falls below 25%. This effect cannot occur more than once every 30 seconds. Replaces Glyph of Retreat.

Glyph of Retreat temporarily removed all your threat after rolling. It was useful for Windwalkers, but usually a bad idea for us Brewmasters. Its replacement, Fortuitous Spheres, will be a fantastic filler glyph (i.e. use it when you don’t need something else) and great for those fights that reliably bring your health low. (And now we have our fourth low-health heal.)


Glyph of Detox causes Detox to heal the target when it successfully removes a harmful effect. Replaces Glyph of Stoneskin.

I only mention this change because we occasionally used Glyph of Stoneskin, which reduced bleed damage by 20% while Fortifying Brew was active. It was never a great glyph, but there were some fights that dealt bleed damage and it was a decent filler. Glyph of Detox will, similarly, be used infrequently by us.

Targeted Expulsion

Glyph of Targeted Expulsion now causes Expel Harm to heal for 50% as much when used on other targets. Replaces Glyph of Uplift.

This glyph allows us to directly heal another player, which is something we don’t have much control over normally. That said, since we usually need Expel Harm for ourselves, the 50% reduction is not a trade-off we can easily make.


Glyph of Transcendence now reduces the cooldown of Transcendence: Transfer by 5 seconds (used to increase the range by 10 yards).

I’m sad to see the range-increasing bonus go. That was one of my go-to filler glyphs since I use Transcendence often, and the default 40 yard range was not good enough. The one time the new cooldown reduction would be useful is for Dark Animus, where you’re frequently running up against the cooldown. Maybe we’ll need to use Transcendence every 20 seconds in Siege of Orgrimmar.



Capacitive Primal Diamond vs. Indomitable Primal Diamond
The tanking legendary meta has been buffed to provide around 30% to 40% uptime and reduces all damage types (previously it only reduced physical), so it is increasingly attractive. The dps meta has had its proc rate cut nearly in half, and will be much less impressive than in Tier 15. The dps is not horrible, but I feel like the tanking one is the better choice to start off with. If you care about min-maxing you’ll want both available so you can swap.

Fen-Yu, Fury of Xuen vs. Qian-Le, Courage of Niuzao
In my opinion, neither legendary cloak proc is especially attractive to us. With Crit, Exp, and Mastery, the stats on the tanking cloak are superior and there’s no denying that the proc will prevent some progression wipes, so I’m leaning toward that one as my first choice. I’m not sure if it’s possible, but if you could have both cloaks on hand, that will end up being useful. The cleave from the dps cloak isn’t great, but it’s better than nothing on fights that never threaten your survival.

For either choice, the quest actually gives you an upgrade item, Timeless Essence of the Black Dragonflight, that you must apply to your epic cloak. If you’re like me and originally picked the dps epic cloak and want to switch to the tanking legendary cloak, you’ll have to shell out 10,000 gold to buy the proper cloak before consuming that upgrade. I’m sorry.

I’ve heard that if you have both Tigerfang Wrap and Oxhoof Greatcloak in your inventory when using Timeless Essence of the Black Dragonflight, it will upgrade both cloaks to legendary. I haven’t been able to find out if this works on live yet, but we’ll know in a few hours.

Tier Bonuses

Tier 16 is worth getting and excellently itemized (for 10 man raiders, anyway). Tier 15 still remains fairly strong, so the Tier 16 pieces you do pick up should be a significant upgrade on their own before you break the Tier 15 4pc. You don’t want to drop 4 piece normal Tier 15 for 2pc LFR Tier 16, but dropping normal Tier 15 4pc for normal Tier 16 2pc should be fine.

Two Piece

When your Black Ox statue Guards another player, you also get a Guard for 8% of that amount.

This isn’t an incredibly powerful bonus, but shields are nice to have. It encourages maximizing your dps, which means it works best with crit gearing. Other than trying to deal the most damage you can, this tier shouldn’t change your gameplay.

Four Piece

Purifying Brew also heals you for 15% of the amount of staggered damage cleared.

This bonus is surprisingly good, even for 10 man tanks. It encourages haste, by increasing frequency of the heal tied to Purifying Brew, and mastery, by increasing the magnitude of the heal. With this bonus, you should avoid using Purifying Brew when your health is full. In most cases, you won’t be at full health because of whatever attack just caused a large stagger, though there are exceptions (like absorbing said attack with Guard).

To further encourage you to upgrade tier bonuses, Tier 15’s two-piece has been nerfed significantly: from 12% additional shuffle to 6%.

Stat Priorities

There aren’t any big changes to our stat priorities, though changes in our tier bonuses will shake things up:

  • Tier 16 2pc favors crit, though not a strong enough bonus to force it.
  • Tier 16 4pc favors haste and mastery
  • With the loss of T15 4pc, we might need to reevaluate our personal haste needs. That bonus was worth roughly 2k haste, so you might want to increase your haste a bit once you drop this bonus.
  • With the loss of T15 2pc, crit loses its smoothing potential. Tier 16 2pc adds a tiny bit of smoothing, but not at the same effectiveness.

On top of that, people have reported that encounters might be hard hitting enough for even 10 man raiders to favor mastery builds. And it should come as no surprise that mastery will remain the favored stat for 25 man Brewmasters. Crit will remain our best secondary stat for pure dps and avoidance.

We will also soon be reaching the crit cap (57% for dual-wield, 79% for two-handed). If you reach these points, you’ll have to move more stats into mastery and haste. Any crit above those values is wasted.

Personally, I want to try a hybrid crit/mastery build (with both in roughly equal amounts) and around 7k haste. This will probably change as I become more familiar with the requirements of this tier. If you want to stick with a high dps build, then you want crit. If you want to be more tanky, try some mastery.


I covered some in-depth analysis on my Tier 16 Trinkets for Brewmasters post.

Proving Grounds

The Proving Grounds will be a great place to practice playing your Brewmaster, which, as we’re rather complicated to learn, will be a valuable asset. To get to the Proving Grounds, you have to fly to the Temple of the White Tiger in Kun Lai Summit. I believe that the difficulties are set up such that achieving Bronze means you’re ready for LFR, Silver means you’re ready for Normal raids, and Gold means you’re ready for Heroic raids. There’s also “Endless Mode”, which is there simply for the challenge.

In the tanking Proving Ground, you will have to protect a single healer/ranged dps powerhouse by maintaining aggro, taunting, positioning, and managing active mitigation. The healer npc keeps a HoT on you while dealing a significant amount of damage.

Weak Auras

The original Weak Auras addon hasn’t been updated on Curse lately (I hear the original creator abandoned it), but you can find updates from the person who took over on this Curse addonpage.

My personal Weak Auras shouldn’t need any updates, as I haven’t experienced any catastrophic errors during my PTR testing. I have added some minor updates to my strings if you wish to upgrade, but it shouldn’t be required.