Legion Brewmaster Preview

From the official post:

The brewmaster is a quirky character, though dangerous when underestimated. Brewmasters may seem to struggle with balance as they chug their concoctions in the middle of a fight, but this unpredictable behavior is far from foolhardiness. Most opponents barely have time to process the erratic nature of the brewmaster’s fighting tactics before they find themselves laid low—possibly the result of a keg smash to the head. When an opponent actually manages to land an attack, it’s often unclear how much the brewmaster feels it . . . if at all.


The gameplay for Brewmasters hasn’t quite fit their archetypes to this point. Rather than being the tricky martial artists, staggering around with an evasiveness that frustrates their opponent while being a little squishy when taking an unmitigated blow, Brewmasters have been more focused around large absorption shields and clutch self-healing. Our new design approach is to get more gameplay depth out of their strong, thematic abilities. Instead of Chi as a resource, which had little depth for Brewmasters, we’re switching to charges on Brew abilities that other abilities still interact with.

Here’s a basic look at the core defensive and offensive combat abilities for Brewmaster Monks:

(Screenshots from Wowhead)



Additionally, to give you an idea of how some talents may build upon this, here’s an example of one of their Brewmaster-specific talents:


Additional Information

  • This is only the very, very basic rotational ability list.
  • Talents and Artifacts will add a huge amount of complexity (if you chose). It’s safe to assume that all of our talents are changing.
  • Niche or long cooldown abilities that aren’t listed, like Fortifying Brew and Spear Hand Strike, are most likely still present in Legion.
  • Rotational abilities that aren’t listed, like Guard, Expel Harm, Elusive Brew, Jab, and Shuffle are likely gone.

Dev Clarifications

Thoughts on Fantasy

From a pure fantasy perspective, I’m ecstatic to lose Guard and the bursty damage intake we’ve seemed to exemplify during Warlords. In contrast, Stagger has perfectly matched the unpredictable and soft brewmaster tanking style, and Ironskin Brew pushes that even further.

Breath of Fire will finally take the prestigious rotational position it has always deserved. It’s such an iconic skill that is actually used in real world martial arts movies, and has never had a prominent place in our rotation.

Blackout Strike, assuming that’s the real name (it is referred to as “Blackout Kick” elsewhere in the blog), uses a weapon strike instead of a kick. I love Blackout Kick’s animation, but Brewmasters really should have their feet on the ground. They’re stable and balanced, and spinning around on one foot doesn’t evoke that.

I like that “brews” are essentially our resource. I love chi management, but I think managing brews will have a similar amount of depth and it fits with our class so well. It’s easy to imagine a brewmaster just carrying around a few jugs of beer to pull them out when needed. (Though who knows how we’re brewing anything as fast as we’re generating the brew resource.)

Thoughts on Functionality

I imagine the base rotation will look like this:

  • Generate brew resources
    • Keg Smash on cooldown
    • Spend excess energy on Tiger Palm
    • Fill empty GCDs with Blackout Strike (Breath of Fire for AoE).
  • Defense
    • When a big physical attack comes, Ironskin Brew before and Purifying Brew after.
    • React to low health by shuffling side to side for healing orbs, if they’re there.

Some complexity occurs because you can’t do that all the time, so you can either decide to go all proactive (super stagger all the things), all reactive (purify all the things, seems unlikely), chain/alternate the brews, or save them up for something important.

It’s really hard for me to evaluate beyond laying out what I expect the rotation to look like. I need to play it, and I need to play it a lot, for me to build up any deeper understanding. For example, with the loss of a free, cooldown-less Tiger Palm, will our rotation feel empty in practice? I’m not really sure what to think of the new mastery. It definitely seems weird, but I don’t want to rule it out.

On losing Elusive Brew: I hinted at my dislike of active avoidance abilities before, so I’m not entirely surprised that Elusive Brew is gone. In general, avoidance abilities don’t grant the feeling of control that damage reduction or healing abilities give, and classes that depended on them had to be compensated in sort of overpowered ways just to cover the rare chance they never dodged anything. Besides, our example talent, Elusive Dance, will give avoidance AM back to us if we want it.

On losing stagger mastery: Our old mastery increased the amount of damage we staggered, and while it was lovely, it presented us with all sorts of long term scaling issues. Stagger mastery was more powerful the more you had, and every tier it had to be nerfed in some way, either by reducing the value gained from it as they did in Mists, or by reducing your total possible Stagger, as they did in Warlords. Now that stagger is only increased through our actions, it will be less susceptible to being overpowered and more interactive. The new mastery will be an avoidance stat. As I said a few paragraphs ago, I’m unsure about the actual usefulness, but I think a passive avoidance is one of the better places to have avoidance, and our mastery did need to change.

On losing Guard: As much as I love Guard, I wasn’t happy with how the most important button a brewmaster could push was so poorly aligned with the fantasy. As long as the many roles Guard filled are covered somewhere else, I will accept its loss. Speaking of roles to fill, we know at least that magic damage reduction will come from stagger, and therefore Ironskin Brew will be a pretty decent tool for that. The other role Guard filled was simply being our best defensive cooldown, but as we only know rotational abilities so far, we can’t say how or if this niche gets filled elsewhere.


Questions / Unknowns

  • Protection Paladins will be losing their single target / AoE carbon copy skills (Crusader Strike / Hammer of the Righteous), while brewmasters gain one (Blackout Strike / Breath of Fire)? Admittedly, Blackout Strike and Breath of Fire have slightly different effects because the latter applies a DoT. If the damage over time component of Breath of Fire is significant, we might only want to cast it enough to keep the DoT up. And both Blackout Kick and Breath of Fire have cool fantasies for the class, which is probably more than could be said for the corresponding paladin abilities.
  • Are cool animations / spell effects being reused? I personally love the guard movement (not just the bubble, but the way monks move when they cast it) and I’d love to see that find a new home. Will the Jab animation be reused for Blackout Strike, since the tooltip describes a weapon strike? I really hope we don’t end up with another Chi Explosion-type animation that simply reused the same casting animation everyone has.
  • Stats: Will we receive defensive benefits from attack power (agility) or crit? Will we receive offensive benefits from stamina, since it’s now the only way to increase healing and all the other defensive stats have offensive components?