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.
Since this is a taunt swap fight with large amounts of downtime, both classes can keep their active mitigation up the whole time while tanking. Vengeance can Infernal Strike out of the raid to drop the debuff, Monks can roll or transcendence to place it.
In mythic, where a group can be mind controlled, both classes have control options that are almost too good (healers don’t like being silence for so long by sigil of silence, and a 5 second stun from leg sweep is an eternity).
During the bug phase, Infernal Strike is really handy if you are surrounded by puddles and/or bugs. If the monk was proactive enough (what even is planning ahead), they might have placed Transcendence in a good place, but usually I just have to roll to safety. Brewmasters have better options for dealing damage at ranged, though. They have Keg Smash! Vengeance can almost-spam Throw Glaive but that’s not nearly as satisfying.
Vengeance needs really tight timing of Demon Spikes for Overwhelm and the charge, a few seconds too soon or late can be brutal, though once you get the timing down they stay relatively stable. Brewmaster really shines at this fight, because while they still can’t overuse their brews, they can use them much more often. And it feels so damn good to get a 110% stagger after the charge + overwhelm combo and to purify that away.
I found it much easier to handle Overwhelms and tanking the boss as a brewmaster, though Rend, which is best countered by self healing, was much easier to handle on my dh.
Fortifying Brew fits in really well for the enrage, as long as you can hold off from using it earlier (admittedly rare for me). Metamorphosis is a weaker defensive cooldown for that kind of damage, but it works.
My responsibility on this fight is the spiderlings. Ox Statue is fun for this job, I just move it around to wherever I’m going to take the next wave of spiders and rarely have to worry about additional pickup, though I do like to take RJW as well just in case I need some more regular AoE threat. Otherwise, it’s hard for my monk to pick up those streaming spiders at range, since I’m limited to Keg Smash.
My DH handles the streaming add pick up very well with Throw Glaive, though it’s not difficult to remember where all the spiderlings spawn and have my tab-targeting down so that I can quickly grab them all.
While actually tanking the spiderlings, my DH struggles with damage intake. Soul Barrier is strong against the poison debuff, but Ironskin Brew doesn’t require any set up. Fel Devastation does wonders, though.
It’s also my job to run across the web bridge and pick up spiders other people spawn. Vengeance can glide and leap over, which is nice because I don’t have to worry about missing the lower bridge. Transcendence on the middle island works just as good, as long as I remember to put it there. Vengeance does fine picking up spiders with Immolation Aura, though if your raid is far behind you it will probably fall off before the remaining spiders make it your way. On my monk, I just leave my statue and hope the spider smashers kill all the spiders before they become an issue.
Vengeance handles the Razor Talons with Empower Wards, Brew handles it with Ironskin. The hardest part was the Violent Winds in mythic, which is sustained, steadily increasing magic damage that pushes you back. On my monk, just Ironskin and maybe Diffuse Magic was easily enough. But on my DH, Empower Wards doesn’t cut it, it’s too short a duration and too small a reduction on its own, plus you’re constantly pushed out of melee range so you can’t back it up with your heals. On our first kills I had to resort to Nether Bond on my cotank to cut that damage, though later kills went okay with Soul Barrier.
Dragons of Nightmare
There’s not much going on in this fight for either tank, though I noticed that I have an easier time on my DH, probably because of their self-healing. Anytime the raid is split, being a little more self-sufficient comes in handy. If I had the opportunity or willingness, I’d choose healing/damage reduction talents on my brewmaster to compensate.
Both tanks handle add spawns really well, as long as the brewmaster can talent into Ox Statue. Without that, it can be hard to pick up far away adds on a monk. DH does just fine with Throw Glaive.
Both tanks also handle the long range movement that eases tank swaps, either with Infernal Strike (+ abyssal strike) or Roll (+ chi torpedo) / Transcendence.
Sigil of Chains was a nice bonus for a DH, especially to help control the adds try to heal the dragons. The snare from Keg Smash is also helpful here.
This is another straightforward fight for both classes. The hardest part on my demon hunter was figuring out a cooldown rotation for the Eye of Fates, those big magical attacks. Empower Wards isn’t up for both, and it probably wouldn’t be enough for the second one anyway. During progression, when those adds took forever to die, I had to plan for four breaths total, and not all my cooldowns were up for the second set. It was like old school tanking where I had to write down timings and plan cooldowns around when they became available. (BTW, my original cooldown rotation was 1: Talisman of the Cragshaper, 2: Empower Wards + Fiery Brand, 3: Meta, 4: Meta + Empower Wards.)
On my brewmaster, this was a complete non-issue. I would just use Ironskin for every Eye, saving some ox orbs to top myself off after the second one, and Fortifying Brew was saved for emergencies.
Originally I took my demon hunter for the first few weeks of farm on this boss because of Sigil of Chains. It’s not required, since all the oozes have to be near the boss anyway for it to grab them, but it was a nice safety net for my raid. I was worried about bringing my monk but my raid adjusted (I’m not even sure they noticed to be honest).
Besides that, there’s not much going on for tanks. Vengeance has slightly better dps cooldowns for the heart phase, with Fiery Brand + Fiery Demise. Brewmaster could take Niuzao, though for me it hardly seemed worth changing talents. Both have good movement for target switching. Brewmaster has better ranged AoE with Keg Smash, Vengeance has two ranged interrupts.
In normal and heroic, I was responsible for tanking the adds in the middle. Both classes are really great at this, either with an Infernal Strike + Throw Glaive to move around and pick things up, or Transcendence + Ox Statue.
In phase 2 with the Spear of Nightmares, I found it easier to handle on my monk. Ironskin Brew is pretty effective at reducing that. You’d think Demon Spikes would be really good, but on its own I still ended up with a bigger puddle than I’d like. I usually combined it with Soul Barrier or Fiery Brand.
On mythic, my job was tanking dragons in the corner. There’s a lot of damage going on, but not much in the way of mechanics. The same movement abilities proved useful when clearing my debuffs. With only a single healer, my own self healing was important. Vengeance has that by default, and Brewmaster I had to spec into some healing and damage reduction, but both worked well.
Vengeance has sort of an advantage in their ability to handle the debuff with Soul Barrier. It’s not a huge advantage, but it shaves off quite a bit of that damage over time.
Since this fight on mythic tests nothing more than a tank’s’ ability to handle sustained damage, it provided an interesting perspective. There’s not much burst damage to speak of for the monk to smooth, so their primary strength isn’t much of an advantage. However, monks are still really versatile, so it’s not like that caused me to suffer. Weird as it sounds, I get more healing on my monk than my DH for this fight, primarily because of Gift of the Mists. I spend a lot of time at less than max health, meaning I get lots of extra orbs. Brewmaster healing scales far better with with high damage than Vengeance healing, as long as they’re specced into it.
Brewmaster and Demon Hunter aren’t too different here. There’s a lot of tank damage, but with the tank swaps that means both classes are capable of having very high active mitigation uptime. My health is very spikey on my demon hunter and there are often moments where I’m clinging to life, where my brewmaster still has to work hard but is rarely panicking.
Tanking both the boss and the add in phase 1 is the most dangerous time for my DH. I can usually string together cooldowns and survive, but even then it’s often close, and I’m particularly vulnerable to spike damage. My DH does handle the debuffs better than my monk, taking far less damage from them.
I’m still more confident on my brewmaster than my demon hunter, so any conclusions I have need to be understood in that light. Even at low health I’m less worried about dying. Vengeance always feels like they’re one mistake away from a swift death. I think my confidence is largely due to experience and the forgiving nature of the Brewmaster toolkit. I think Vengeance would benefit from mechanics that make them more adaptable to mistakes, as they take a lot of damage when Demon Spikes isn’t active, and it’s absolutely vital that they time it correctly to survive. They’re getting that in 7.1.5, with some of the damage reduction being moved from Demon Spikes to passive.
That leads into one of the primary differences between the two: active mitigation uptime. Ironskin Brew can be up all the time, and Demon Spikes cannot. Vengeance has to precisely time their AM usage around big events, and while there’s timing involved in playing Brewmaster well too, it’s much more forgiving. Vengeance also only has two charges with a rigid recharge, while Brewmasters can have up to four charges with a flexible recharge.
In one way, I appreciate the timing constraints on DH AM. It forces me to actually pay attention and be proactive about big boss attacks. I like that sort of challenge, and it’s been a refreshing change between the two classes.
In a general sense, Vengeance and Brewmaster are polar opposites when it comes to spike damage. If you compare the health levels over the same fight, Brewmaster rarely goes below 25% health, and they usually spend more time at medium health. Vengeance spikes from max health to nearly dead, and back to max, and it’s uncommon for their health to be somewhere in the middle.
I also find it weird that I regularly heal for more, and more effectively on my Brewmaster than my DH. Gift of the Ox, especially with Gift of the Mists and Obstinate Determination, is really strong in hard-hitting content. Soul Cleave can be used more often when bosses hit hard (since you’re generating more pain), but it’s still not much of an increase. A whole lot of Soul Cleave is overheal, too, since it’s our biggest pain consumer and damage dealer. A lot of times you’re sitting at 100 pain and 100% health, and you have to choose to Soul Cleave for wasted healing, or to sit on it for wasted damage (or to spend that pain on talents, if you happen to be using them).
I do take more damage on average on the Brewmaster, but it’s predictable damage, and not a significant difference. Demon hunters have more versatile defensive cooldowns, though Ironskin Brew covers most of those situations just fine. Handling cooldowns on my DH usually means shifting talents around, and on my monk I just have to manage my resources well.
Again, I’m not sure how much of my struggles with DH are due to the class itself or to my comparative experience with brewmasters. Of course anything feels spikey compared to my smooth stagger princess! I just spent two expansions exclusively playing a class with limited big defensives and plentiful AM, so it makes sense I’d struggle with a class who’s the opposite.
I really enjoy playing both classes. It keeps our farm nights interesting, and I get to think more creatively than I would if I stuck to one class. I’ll probably keep doing it in the future, though my hope is that I’ll swap around who I take on progression depending on the boss.