A few weeks ago on Tankcast, Arielle and I discussed the class fantasies behind each tanking spec. Blizzard has stated that they intend to bring each class and specialization closer to their fantastical roots. This post is me elaborating on what I think the monk and brewmaster fantasy is.
Monks in General
Monks are subtle, but not in a rogue-like way. They don’t seek to be hidden so much as they avoid sticking out. They’re more practical than flashy (which is often illustrated through their skill names, e.g. “roll”, “jab”, “guard”). They’re an extension of the pandaren culture, taking life slow and simply. That’s not to say that monks aren’t strong, but their strength is always surprising when it reveals itself. The monk is that quiet stranger in rags whose walking stick can be used for deadly efficiency if those who cannot defend themselves are at risk.
I do think this image makes monks have a less attractive fantasy to many people. They’re not super awesome vectors of power and explosions. They’re that wizened old master, found alone at the top of a mountain by prospective martial arts students who say “old man, I’m looking for this totally awesome dude can you show me where he is” and the old master says something enigmatic and then we eventually find out he’s the master they were looking for.
Brewmasters further that “unexpected skill” fantasy by obscuring their innate abilities through drunken movements. Based on Zui quan, they specialize in fluid movements, avoidance, feinting, shuffling, and staggering. Like most martial artists, they can anticipate an enemy’s attacks and mitigate them. Unlike their windwalker cousins, they never seem lightning-fast, though that is because every movement is planned beforehand. They gracefully move from one position to the next, like water. There are some terms that I really like that describe both the real life martial art and brewmasters: soft, agile, balanced, coordinated, weight, momentum, grounded. Stagger is a perfect implementation of this fantasy. Our defenses are soft — when an enemy tries to hit a brewmaster their blows don’t hit a solid wall of steel, they barely land at all. Brewmasters avoid everything in some way, either entirely with dodges and parries, or partially with stagger.
Brewmaster martial artistry is highly connected to liquid. They flow around attacks like water, staggering as if they had a belly full of wine. They use brews to refresh and protect their health. The brews themselves are naturalistic, not strictly alcoholic (but they can be). Everything about a brewmaster centers on seeming like they’re drunk, but actually being in full control. Their power lies in using that expectation to their advantage.