Hail! First round of Brews is on me, Monks. Shall we talk a bit about Brewmasters?
As Seph talked about in a recent Rogue thread, 7.2.5 will include much more significant class change than 7.2 did, and one of the specs that we're focusing on is Brewmaster. Brewmasters are currently quite strong, performance-wise, but have a few notable issues that we'd like to work out.Offensive Abilities
Rotationally, Brewmasters are using a mixture of offensive and defensive buttons. Some parts of this worked well, such as Keg Smash and Tiger Palm granting partial charges of your Brews. One part that hasn't worked out well is in Blackout Strike and Breath of Fire. Having no direct defensive value, or interaction with other abilities in your rotation, they end up feeling disconnected, and leave you wondering why you're hitting them. There are a couple minor artifact traits that give them some defensive value, but that's ultimately negligible as far as rotation design goes. One saving grace here is the Blackout Combo talent, which gives a strong reason to care about Blackout Strike, and add a lot of depth (and complexity) to your rotation.
Another problem is that Blackout Strike has a 3.0s/Haste cooldown, which is actually rather bizarre on a class with a 1.0s GCDs. Experienced players have learned that you should get a significant enough amount of Haste to bring that down to something in the 2.2-2.5sec range, and alternate Blackout Strikes with other abilities, with awkward 0.2-0.5sec gaps in between your abilities. This also means that with the forced gaps, you become GCD-capped, and Energy stops functioning. Finally, one last problem we're looking at is that there are rather limited options for customizing the rotation through talents (pretty much just Blackout Combo), and no baseline variability, leading to some people finding it repetitive and predictable.
We'd like to clean this up, and here are our current thoughts on how (not set in stone, very interested in discussion and PTR testing).
- First, Blackout Strike and Breath of Fire will have a direct defensive value: they'll grant a stack of Elusive Brawler (per target hit, in Breath of Fire's case).
- Second, Blackout Strike will more smoothly fit into the rotation. We're going to try it having a cooldown, but Tiger Palm significantly reducing that cooldown, such that you can Blackout Strike every few GCDs, and not have any forced partial-second pauses. We want to make sure that Energy (and thus Haste) controls the speed of your rotation, so that that's in your control. If you want a more full, button-spammy rotation, you can favor Haste. If you prefer being more tactical with your GCDs, optimizing the timing of each one, you can favor other stats.
- And finally, to let you customize the rotation with both higher GCD utilization and some variance, we're planning to add a talent that gives Tiger Palm a high chance to reset the cooldown of Breath of Fire. (Where exactly to put that talent is unclear; replacing Chi Burst is the current idea, but we're not super thrilled with that.)
Overall, Stagger is working quite well in the general case. Ironskin vs Purify (and in particular when to Purify) is a good choice, though maybe a tad bit skewed toward Ironskin right now. However, it becomes problematic in the extreme case, where Stagger is used to cheese mechanics that aren't intended to be survivable. For example, a Brewmaster may use High Tolerance and Fortifying Brew in order to get 100% Stagger, soak several of some raid mechanic that is intended to be entirely unsurvivable (probably even piercing immunities), Purify twice quickly, and get healed through what little of the damage is remaining.
The key source of this is when Stagger reaches 100% or near-100%, and our planned changes to solve this focus on that:
- We'll be reducing the Stagger gain of Fortifying Brew, and slightly reduce the Stagger gain of Ironskin Brew.
- We'll be raising Brewmaster's base armor to compensate.
- We're going to add a cap on how much damage can be Staggered (high enough that you won't hit it in normal gameplay, but enough to stop cheesing mechanics).
- There is also an artifact trait that increases the Stagger gain of Fortifying Brew that has been mostly-useless since 7.1.5, which we're going to redesign.
Again, the point of this is not at all to be a nerf in intended circumstances, but rather to shift around where the mitigation comes from, such that it can't be used to unintentionally bypass mechanics.
Relatedly, one mechanic that causes imbalance with tanks is that in a tank-swap situation in a raid, tanks can store up a large amount of active mitigation while not actively tanking, both in terms of ability charges, and buff durations. In general, this is fine, but it can be taken to extremes, and Brewmasters are a good example of that, frequently being able to go into their tanking with a 30+sec duration Ironskin Brew rolling. Some amount of this is fine, but to keep it within a reasonable range, we're going to put a cap on how long you can extend tank active mitigation buffs, to a maximum of twice their base duration.
Thanks for reading! We look forward to your feedback.