Regional FlagBrewmasters in 7.2.5Source
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#1 - 2017/04/01 01:45:00 AM
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.)

Defensive Abilities
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.

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#5 - 2017/04/01 02:08:00 AM
03/31/2017 06:54 PMPosted by Dobi
What are you doing to address the fact that ISB has basically become the new shuffle and requires 100% uptime? That's literally brew gameplay right now -> 100% ISB uptime and anything left goes into purify.


I touched on that a bit, that the decision is skewed a tad bit towards Ironskin right now. There are 3 changes here that will help with that:
  • The increase to base armor will help with the problem of Ironskin falling off feeling like a death sentence.
  • The reduction to Ironskin effectiveness will slightly decrease the difference between Ironskin being up and not.
  • Our current plan for the mentioned artifact trait replacement is Purify percentage, which will increase the value of Purifying.


03/31/2017 06:54 PMPosted by Dobi
How does a talent like Tiger Palm resetting Breath Fire work when you have the legendary chest? Clearly we wouldn't take it since Keg is resetting breath about every 5 seconds. With both it would be absurd.

Occasional legendaries that push you away from or toward a particular talent are generally OK. If you have the Breath of Fire chest, you likely will want to pick one of the other talents instead of Spitfire (the Tiger Palm resets Breath of Fire one), and that's OK.

03/31/2017 07:00 PMPosted by Pursuit
Will there be exceptions added to this rule? For example, will this not just completely negate the use of the 'Bastion of Light' talent for Protection Paladins? Gaining the instant charges allows them to go much further beyond the "twice their base duration", essentially throwing away all that additional SotR uptime that comes from the talent during the activation window.

There may be, yes. We don't want to invalidate any existing gameplay, just prevent the "I've been offtanking for a bit and have a crazy long duration buff up when I take over, skewing my priorities."

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#8 - 2017/04/01 02:12:00 AM
Without hard numbers, it is difficult to see if this will be a blessing or a curse.


Numbers matter for performance, and I want to reemphasize the fact that the changes I'm talking about are intended to be net-neutral, performance-wise. Of course they will affect performance, but we'll offset them with number tweaks, in whichever direction is necessary.

The point of all of these is gameplay, mechanics, and particularly rotational flow.

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#31 - 2017/04/01 03:13:00 AM
03/31/2017 08:05 PMPosted by Liandracel
My first concern on hearing that there is a stagger cap is what does that mean for damage intake: once you're at stagger cap, do you take full damage from hits? How do you anticipate this working on mobs like The Demon Within, which is already hitting for approximately 5 million white damage per auto set? Extrapolating further to future mythic tiers, it's not necessarily unreasonable to anticipate mobs that will be hitting a monk in excess of 7+ million white damage (for example) every 1-1.5s. Given brew generation in your most favorable circumstances, it seems there is a real possibility of brewmasters essentially hitting some upper limit of mob they're able to tank before they're essentially as squishy as a dps, save dodging, due to having capped stagger.


To be clear, the stagger cap is not on the amount you can stagger per-hit, but on the total amount you can have delayed in your "stagger bar" at once. As stated, it's mainly a limit to avoid abusive cases, similar to how spells like Guardian Spirit have a point where they stop working. If you're about to try to soak something that will do a few times your maximum health in damage (even after cooldowns), you should expect to die immediately. This should come into play only in relatively extreme cases.

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#81 - 2017/04/01 07:33:00 AM
03/31/2017 07:18 PMPosted by Serenerivers
What exactly do you mean by a cap on how much damage can be staggered? Is there a maximum amount of damage that is allowed to be in the stagger dot? Or does each attack have a maximum amount that can be absorbed from it and added to the stagger dot? This is hugely important to know.


There will be a maximum amount of total damage that you can have banked in your Stagger DoT. Any overflow beyond that will continue through to your health.

03/31/2017 07:20 PMPosted by Fluddinatah
I personally love the way Blackout Strike fits into the rotation, especially with Blackout Combo.


And you're not alone; we recognize that there are many Brewmasters who love Blackout Combo, and have Haste in the right thresholds to make it flow reasonably well. One of the things of utmost importance to us with this rotation change is that it doesn't feel worse to those like you. We have several experienced Brewmasters internally who voiced this apprehension when first hearing about these changes, and after playtesting it they all agreed that it felt the same to them. In our books, that's a win, since it's an improvement for the rest of the Brewmasters who aren't in that sweet spot. We hope that sentiment is common externally as well, so please test it out when the PTR goes up, and let us know how it feels. Your feedback on this really matters.

03/31/2017 07:30 PMPosted by Daggerdsan
The ability to be GCD capped, or very close to it, is something that I have always loved about brewmasters and on a personal level of feedback it is really important to me that that type of gameplay is still available and viable. Brewmaster has always been a very high APM spec (even if not all of the GCDs directly translate to defensive benefits) so please be careful to maintain that as you tinker with the rotation.


We absolutely hear you, and are targeting Spitfire, Rushing Jade Wind, and Haste at players like you. It'll probably take us some iteration on the energy and proc rate numbers to get the feel just right, so we'll need your help with PTR testing feedback.

03/31/2017 07:39 PMPosted by Sassyfist
Please Increase the IsB duration cap, at least 30-40s. 16s is too short.
And when will you address that bears have been OP for too long and EASIER to play without any significant nerf?

We're starting with a cap of "double the base duration," but that may feel too restrictive, and we'll iterate. This is still early in the process (PTR hasn't even started yet), and none of this is set in stone.

Cheers to everyone that has provided valuable feedback here so far. We'll keep reading and iterating.

03/31/2017 07:41 PMPosted by Tortoise
"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)." -- I am sure you are well aware this will push Mastery's value through the roof.

That's certainly possible, and we'll adjust stat tuning if needed. Again, this is intended to be performance-neutral, so we're not trying to buff OR nerf overall performance here.

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#95 - 2017/04/01 08:26:00 AM
On the AM max duration discussion, there's been a ton of great feedback on that so far. I'd like to go into why we're considering this change a little more. Forgive me for the verbosity (hah):

This effects Brewmasters more than other tanks, but not exclusively. The main reason that this affects Brewmasters more is that they are meant to split their resource between two brews: Ironskin and Purifying.

Consider a simple situation of two bosses, each beating on a tank. The Brewmaster is using a mixture of their Brews, maintaining ISB while using excess on PB (or maybe even letting ISB fall off when the boss stops to cast something, or is otherwise unthreatening for a moment). She gets more Brew charges than she needs to keep ISB up, but she's using those excess charges on PB, so ISB duration is remaining low.

The co-tank, let's say a Warrior for example, is built a little differently, having two separate defensive resources (Shield Block charges and Rage for Ignore Pain). Both are being generated and consumed at a similar rate, also not gaining increasing Shield Block duration.

Things are good here, and let's suppose for the sake of argument the two tanks are 'balanced' in this context.

---

OK, now let's change the design of the fight, to one where there's one huge boss, and the two tanks take turns tanking for 30sec at a time. Arguments of this being a less-engaging fight aside, let's look at how that affects the tank balance.

While the Warrior is OTing, he's building up Shield Block charges, but once he hits max charges, they're being wasted. He can use one at a time as they're generated, but they don't last longer than it takes to generate, so his Shield Block buff duration doesn't grow over time. Similar deal with Rage and Ignore Pain. He builds up Rage, and when that caps out, he builds up an Ignore Pain stack, but that caps out pretty quickly too. Excess Rage is wasted (at least defensively anyway; they can put it into damage). When the Warrior taunts, he goes into it with some buffer of his max Shield Block charges, maybe a single partial Shield Block buff, and max Rage and Ignore Pain. Overall, he could carry over some value from that time not tanking, but not all of it.

Meanwhile, when the Brewmaster is not tanking, they're building up charges of their single defensive resource, Brew charges. Once at max Brew charges, she starts using Ironskin Brews, as they're generated. Since there's nothing to Purify, she never does so, and all of her charges go into Ironskin Brew, creating a surplus of Ironskin duration that just grows over time. When she taunts, she goes into it with max Brew charges, and a 1min long Ironskin buff. She never has to Ironskin the whole time she's tanking, and can send all of her Brew charges into Purifying, over tripling (if not more) how often she can Purify, providing a sizable gain over her Warrior counterpart. All that time she spent not tanking goes into storing up defensive value for when she is tanking, with no limit.

If the two tanks were 'balanced' in the first fight, then the Brewmaster is overpowered in the second. Alternatively, if you argue that they're balanced in the second fight, that means they're underpowered in the first. The goal of this change is to place a reasonable limit on how much value you can carry over from time spent not tanking, so that we can tune the tanks to be balanced in both of these situations, not just one of them.

I totally get that right now you can always get benefit out of hitting Ironskin Brew, never being fully wasted, and so the prospect of going to a system where there may be a time where you're just sitting on full charges, wasting them sounds like a negative. Please understand that for most other tanks, that's just normal; a Warrior that's not tanking is just wasting the defensive value of their Shield Block charges once at max charges, and that's just an accepted norm. By bringing Brewmasters into parity in this regard, we can then tune them to be more consistently balanced with other tanks, which is the core goal of the change.

One of the most common responses so far has been "I understand wanting a cap, but 2x*duration is too short". Totally reasonable argument, and we'll need your help finding what the right cap is. We chose that to start with because that's consistent with things like Ignore Pain, Mark of Ursol, Blood Shield, Soul Fragments, etc. Given the more liberal use of Brew charges, it may be more appropriate to be higher for Brewmasters.

I'd love to keep hearing your thoughts on this, and I hope that this massively-over-verbose post helped better explain our thought process here. Thanks to those of you that stuck with it, reading it all the way through. :)

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#101 - 2017/04/01 08:46:00 AM
03/31/2017 10:46 PMPosted by Liandracel
This is probably the most extreme example I can pull from in game currently and it results in 21.5 million staggered, which is certainly a lot but I know on Mythic Gul'dan, there have been moments where I've had between 10 million and 18 million staggered and subsequently purified. How will this design idea allow those two different situations to co-exist? How does the game react to me being sent to stagger cap because of a single huge ability that should've killed me rather than the fact that the boss encounter just hits extremely hard? And if your retort is "well, brewmasters shouldn't be able to solo fel scythes and still continue to tank the boss" my counter is "what about guardians doing the same thing with roughly the same amount of externals?"


That is exactly my retort, and Guardians shouldn't be able to either. Soloing every 100-Energy Fel Scythe is perfect example of the cheese this is intended to prevent, and we'll be preventing it on Guardians as well.

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#117 - 2017/04/01 09:47:00 AM
04/01/2017 02:05 AMPosted by Larahz
How much of a threshold are we talking? One stagger bar? Two? Five? Ten?

When we reach this threshold, what happens? Do we begin to take unmitigated hits? Will stagger simply stop working? If so, what's the plan for taking an unmitigated raid boss hit, as a few bosses are capable of 100-0% a 910 brewmaster in a single swing?


The current idea is that the Stagger bar that the UI shows is the cap, which matches up with your health bar, since that'll be the most understandable and intuitive. Then, however much of a buff to max health is needed to make that balanced.

Example, with 80% Stagger, 33% Armor for convenient numbers:

HP: 100/100 ~ Stagger: 0/100

Take a hit for 30, armor reduces that to 20, then stagger takes 16, and 4 goes through to HP.
HP: 96/100 ~ Stagger: 16/100

Time passes and 8 of the Stagger damage goes over into HP.
HP: 88/100 ~ Stagger: 8/100

Then you take a big hit for 60, armor reduces that to 40, then stagger takes 32, and 8 goes through to HP.
HP: 80/100 ~ Stagger: 40/100

You quickly Purify 50% of that.
HP: 80/100 ~ Stagger: 20/100

Then you take a *massive* hit for 210 (something cheesy), armor reduces that to 140. Stagger would take 112, but there's only room for 80 in your Stagger bar. So Stagger takes 80, and 60 goes through to HP.
HP: 20/100 ~ Stagger: 100/100


TL;DR: The Stagger bar on your UI is now representative of your maximum stagger pool, and any overflow damage continues on into your HP bar. Max HP is increased as needed, such that these two bars combined are a big enough pool for normal gameplay.

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#301 - 2017/04/03 07:23:00 PM
Alright, second round is on me as well, Brewmasters. Now that the weekend is over, we've had a chance to discuss all the great feedback you all have provided so far. Here's what we're thinking:

(Note that the below changes likely won't make it into the first PTR build.)

Stagger Cap
As I said, the goal of this was cheese-prevention, not intended to impact normal gameplay. A Stagger cap of 100%*HP has a lot of value to us due to it functioning intuitively within the UI. We had hoped that the amount we need to buff HP/Armor would be reasonable in order to make that work, but looking at the numbers and your feedback, we don't think there's enough room there. Therefore, we're now leaning toward a 200%*HP cap, and that just won't be visible in the UI (but then, neither is the cap of Guardian Spirit and the like).

Active Mitigation Duration Cap
There has been a ton of useful feedback about this topic. Being able to carry over a ton of banked Active Mitigation (and Ironskin Brew absolutely is AM in context) from tank swaps and low damage phases is extremely powerful, and contributes to imbalance between tanks. But we're also sympathetic to how it adds an additional complication that you need to keep in your mental space. We think that just loosening the restriction up a bit so that the window you can safely press Ironskin Brew in is much wider will satisfy that, so we're going to try a cap of 3x Duration instead of 2x. And to clarify, calling this "base duration" was inaccurate; I meant the duration of a single cast of Ironskin Brew, including traits (so 3x Duration would be 24sec with 4/4 of that trait).

Magic DR
We've talked about having armor and potentially HP as tuning knobs to use. We also have the % of Stagger that applies to Magic to use. All of the changes we're discussing in this thread are for mechanical and playstyle reasons, and then tuning is a separate (but big and important) issue. Just to set expectations, Brewmasters with Mystic Vitality are currently seen as extremely strong against Magic damage, sometimes overpowered. Guardian Druids are also overpowered against Magic damage, and that will be adjusted as well.

Thanks, and keep the feedback coming!

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#326 - 2017/04/03 10:20:00 PM
Another point of feedback is that Brew charges feel totally wasted when not tanking (or in a low damage phase), whereas on other tanks they can at least get some offensive value out of them.

This is rather experimental, but we're going to try adding an additional effect to Purifying Brew: "Also increases the damage of your next Breath of Fire by 50%." (tuning not final of course).

And FYI, it looks like we are going to be able to fit these latest changes (this one included) into the first PTR build.

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#343 - 2017/04/03 11:18:00 PM
04/03/2017 03:50 PMPosted by Wilson
A smarter approach to the cheesing problem, is a 'stagger-per-strike' limit.


A per-hit Stagger limit is not a possible option, since the damage in question is not guaranteed to be a single hit. Ex: Something like Spellblade's Annihilation, or a pack of many adds.

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#355 - 2017/04/04 12:09:00 AM
04/03/2017 04:57 PMPosted by Alveona
To be honest all of this "cheesing and brewmaster" thing sounds either like you're totally not aware of the fact that a lot of tank classes are able to cheese different mechanics or just like a bad excuse to make some changes to BRM for no reason.


We are absolutely aware that similar mechanics can be cheesed by other classes. It's a matter of how trivial it is to do, how frequently they can do it, how much external assistance they need, etc. A Paladin being able to Divine Shield through 1 Fel Scythe every 5min is acceptable. A Brewmaster being able to just 2-3x Purify every one of them is not. Guardians are also quite high on ability to do that, which will also be adjusted.

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#364 - 2017/04/04 12:39:00 AM
04/03/2017 05:35 PMPosted by Zarcistirra
Please explain exactly how Guardians are being adjusted. We are all extremely interested to hear what your plans are for them. If you're planning on making a thread specifically for them please tell us so we can keep an eye out for one.


We will be discussing Guardians (and others) separately. Please keep this thread to Brewmaster discussion.

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#440 - 2017/04/04 05:10:00 PM
04/04/2017 05:00 AMPosted by Chirini
going to be disappointed if I waste some of the effect on DoT overlap (if this does stack).


Clarification: Purifying Brew will increase the direct damage of your next Breath of Fire by 50%. We don't want to beg the question of how the DoT interacts with mixing buffed/unbuffed BoFs.

EDIT: And you will be able to Purify without any Stagger, to be clear.

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#472 - 2017/04/04 08:26:00 PM
Usually, we don't discuss changes so early in the design process, but decided to try it out here. That's why I've focused so much on our thoughts and intent, not the exact changes we're planning, because planned changes are so ephemeral.

Our design process is extremely iterative. We start with something and tweak it until it's as good as we can get. That means it starts out pretty rough, and solidifies over time into something better, and this discussion is a perfect example of what it looks like to peak into that process.

Continuing this iteration process, listening to your feedback, and lots of internal discussion and testing, we're now leaning toward removing the Stagger cap. (To be perfectly accurate, changing it to an obscenely large value so that it still functions as exploit prevention. If you can get to 1000% Stagger... sorry, that's probably enough.)

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#490 - 2017/04/04 09:54:00 PM
04/04/2017 02:48 PMPosted by Sifu
So there is basically two ways to "nerf" our ISB uptime.


Nerfing Ironskin Brew uptime is explicitly not a goal of these changes. We have no current intention to do that. 100% uptime of ISB is totally fine right now.

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#559 - 2017/04/11 01:48:00 AM
Continuing to iterate...

Special Delivery already fills the role of giving an offensive value to Brew charges, but not in a reliable way. Instead of the Purifying Brew -> Breath of Fire buff, we're going to try making Special Delivery reliable. If you're the type of player that dislikes Brew charges being wasted when not tanking, Special Delivery already is attractive, and we're just going to make that feel better by being reliable.

FYI, the first datamineable PTR build likely won't have this change.

EDIT: "Reliable" meaning 100% proc chance, damage per keg reduced to compensate.