Brewmasters in 7.2.5

Class Development
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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.
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. We seem to be balanced around the 100% uptime right now as well. Glad to see the armor buff to help mitigate that.

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. Chi Burst is actually a rather nice talent when going AoE heavy. I think a better alternative for replacement would be Chi Wave, which is pretty much completely unused.

I think part of the problem with Blackout Combo is that Tiger Palm is so weak by itself, and it synergizes so well with the Face Palm talent. Both of those together make Tiger Palm go from hitting like a wet noodle (the base damage of the ability is just incredibly low, especially for being an energy spender) to something reasonable. I think if you want to mitigate the prevalence of Blackout Combo you need to address the base damage of the spell (buff by 100% atleast) then nerf Face Palm slightly, or some combination of adjusting the damage bonus from the talent and trait so it's not so mandatory to have Blackout Combo for Tiger Palm to do reasonable damage. Without Blackout Combo (and Face Palm relics) our ST damage is extremely low.

Overall I like the row 100 talents, they offer a good degree of versatility. It's the just the deficiency in Tiger Palm damage that is mandating the use of Blackout Combo, in my opinion.

On the stagger cap... are you thinking about taking the massive damage approach and it being 2x our max health? Is that pre-mitigation or post-mitigation?
03/31/2017 06:45 PMPosted by Celestalon
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.


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.
This is terrible please don't do it.

I mean, you buried the lede with that casual "we're killing your active mitigation btw" at the end there. Especially don't do that, its worse than all of the other nerfs combined. I'm tired of only being viable for the middle third of an expac.

Really hoping this is an April Fools Day joke.
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."
I'm kinda on the fence with the buff to base mitigation in exchange for a nerf in active mitigation. Without numbers, it's hard to tell if this will help the average player or just bring us all down.

I completely understanding remodeling things that cheese mechanics entirely. But I (with good reason, based on the treatment of monks in the past) am worried that you will hurt my spec by changing too much.

It seems like anytime this class is competitive, the dev team tries to drag us back into obscurity. Please don't let this be the case. Consult actual Brewmaster monks.
Hi Celestalon, thanks for the post! It's great to hear about upcoming changes!

I think the changes with Offensive abilities is fantastic! It's great that you noticed the oddities with the Blackout Strike rotation.

I would like to address my concerns with some of the defensive changes, though. Specifically A) adding a Stagger % cap and B) adding an Ironskin Brew duration cap.

Regarding A) the Stagger % cap, I would argue that removing it concerns me greatly at my viability as a tank. Note, that our raid hasn't used the cheese-strategy of avoiding mechanics in this manner, and I agree that completely avoiding mechanics in such a way ruins the intended gameplay fun.

That said, being able to completely stagger all of the incoming damage from a boss for a few seconds has gotten us a kill from a loss multiple times. I would rather have the said mechanics ignore some percentage of Stagger than remove our "poor-man's pally bubble".

Regarding B) the Ironskin Brew duration cap, I understand the need to cap it to help prevent the above cheese mechanics, however I think that 12 seconds (twice it's base duration) is far too short. The nature of Brewmaster tanking requires us to have 100% uptime on Ironskin Brew, or we end up just being a slightly-less-squishy rogue. I believe it would also make the Black Ox Brew talent nigh worthless.

That being said, I really like where Brewmaster has come over the years, so keep up the good work!

Konayuki
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.
03/31/2017 07:08 PMPosted by Celestalon
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."


Immediately thought about Shield Block's interaction with Heavy Repercussions. That should be an exception as well, since we're able to get its duration above 12 seconds with enough Shield Slam resets.

I'm not sure how other people feel about this, but I personally think that Gift of the Ox orb generation is too passive. If you wanted to give a survivability incentive to Tiger Palm and Blackout Strike, maybe instead of adding that "TP resets Breath of Fire" talent, add something that gives those abilities a chance to generate more GotO.
03/31/2017 06:45 PMPosted by Celestalon
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).


Will there be any changes to Elusive Brawler itself? If you're going to make it such a central mechanic (relative to the live build, anyways), then it deserves a change as well. In large scale AoE, a single Breath of Fire would overcap your dodge chance, but this would still only dodge a single attack, making it seem like there's no reward whatsoever for hitting a large breath of fire.

03/31/2017 06:45 PMPosted by Celestalon
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).


This is completely unclear. 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.
It seems you're disconnected to the way some brewmasters like to play, in my opinion. A tank that only uses abilities with defensive value is an incredibly boring tank. Using Blackout Strike and Breath of Fire correctly is important in maximizing dps. In addition to this, they DO have defensive value, through artifact traits. Few brewmasters stack haste to reduce their CD's to smooth out the rotation, and if you do, you're basically building the class wrong. We get enough haste to keep our brews going, and that's basically it.

A posted above me mentioned the legendary chest, and its interaction with the talent affecting Tiger Palm you spoke of. This talent will not be taken by anyone with the chest, which is essentially best in slot, so it will effectively be a 2 talent tier for those of us lucky enough to get the item.

I personally love the way Blackout Strike fits into the rotation, especially with Blackout Combo. Some people may not agree, but I definitely think it doesnt need to be changed. That is minor compared to the other things you talked about, however.

The stagger changes - sure, as long as the stagger cap isn't too low. And I hope you mean a cap on how much damage can be staggered from one instance of damage, not a cap on how much total damage we can have stored in stagger. However, it will be a nerf, despite what you say. I can't argue that Brewmaster is very strong due to stagger, so I can understand this, as much as I don't like it.

Now for my biggest problem with this post - the cap on active mitigation. Stacking stagger duration has become a core mechanic in playing brewmaster, and without it, we will not be able to effectively use our brews. What are we supposed to do when stagger is barely even tickling us, and we are about to cap on brews, with more than 8 seconds on ISB? Waste our resources? That seems to be the only thing we can do in that situation, with your changes. It also seems that other tanks wont be affected nearly as much by this change, and that it is specifically targeting brewmasters. Paladins may be affected by it, but Death Knights, Druids, Warriors, and Demon Hunters will be basically completely unaffected. I have no problem with a cap on ISB duration, but 16s is too low for that the way I see it.

I don't intend this to be a post of QQing - I just want to express my concerns with the changes you plan on making, and their impact on my class. I chose to play my monk instead of my death knight in 7.2 due to being bored with Blood, and I am probably going to regret that decision if these changes go through. I'm not sure how to feel about how this will affect our playstyle.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on my feedback.

(I have edited my post to be a little less dev-bashing. I overreacted a little bit - that doesn't help my case at all.)
The biggest concern for me is the ISB duration cap - surely there are ways to change gameplay mechanics without arbitrary caps?
It's a mechanic that just "Feels bad".
I'm positive that switching priority to PB a bit would make ISB stacking a non issue - but large ISB durations are an INTEGRAL part of tanking on a monk else we spend our entire time with capped resources, tracking buffs, or wasting resources. It's bad design that really only punishes paladins and monks (both of which I play at a Mythic NH+ level).
03/31/2017 07:12 PMPosted by Celestalon

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


I would like to bring up Blackout Strike, in regards to rotational flow. Historically Brewmaster has been a class that has always been capable of filling 100% of it's GCDs. Prior to Legion you filled spare GCDs with Tiger Palm. Playing properly with Blackout Strike helps me feel very active with my rotation in the Legion iteration of the class because due to it's low cooldown I can weave it in between all of my abilities. Timings can certainly be ackward at some haste levels but the rotation feels very smooth and very high on GCDs when you get to the 20% and especially 30% range of haste (at 30% haste BoS is a 2s CD). 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.
03/31/2017 06:45 PMPosted by Celestalon

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%,


Would it not be be better to add a cap on how much dmg you can stager? like 85% insteed of having a cap on how much dmg you can stager.

im just worried becouse adding a cap on how much you can stager would make it so that if we reach that point we no longer have staer working for us.
Please, Do not put literally any of these changes through. it will destroy the monk class, there are areas in your post that everyone in the monk discord are completely stumped by.

Such as your comments about questioning why we even hit BoF or BoS, These are both abilities that are great and feel nice rotationally, BoF is an amazing filler ability whenever there is down time.
I dont know what monks you have been looking at, but as of lately very little of us run with anything higher then 15% haste and dont feel energy starved by no means (BoB helps with this by far, usually when I start feeling I need energy it comes off CD)

Changes too ISB and a 7MINUTE COOL DOWN ABILITY make me pray this post will be an April fools joke.

"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." This is your one point in the entire post in which is completely statisfying. The stagger around trait feels completely useless and unneccesary.

Other then that, Every single person I know looking at this post (THe massive discord dedicated to monks, hell even the Demon hunter discord) is looking at this and is baffled, none of these changes are good.

If you were to replace any talent from the lvl15 talent tier it would be chi wave as its awful quite honestly.

Anyway, I am hoping out on this being an April fools joke, other wise Ill be going back to mainingg DH, yay...
My initial impressions:

Really like the proposed changes to blackout strike, especially giving a reason to press it when not talented into blackout combo.

Breath of fire change... I'm not sure how to feel about it. It seemed like the hot-blooded trait was reason enough to press the button in every situation to me. Having it give a stack of brawler is a nice incentive for boss fights, but seems pretty lackluster for AoE where the stack will be consumed immediately - though I suppose it doesn't need any help in the AoE department.

Breath of fire resets seems like it will be fun (esp. in m+, though it's potentially redundant with RJW), but potentially too good? Having 100% uptime on hot-blooded means a constant 8-14% flat DR, which brings me to my next point...

I can understand the reasoning behind the ISB changes, but I am concerned that stagger will lose meaning as our DR consistently shifted to passive means. Increased armor and hot-blooded uptime means less damage TO stagger - and the less stagger there is to purify, the less fun the class is to play. All of which is exacerbated by also reducing the amount of stagger provided by ISB. I might be way off base here, but that's my concern.

Also, please be conservative with adjusting stagger uptimes considering that we get a so much brew from T19 which won't be around forever.
Burnick summed up exactly my feelings 10 fold.

These changes are out in the left field and no where close to being "good" changes at all. Blizzard please think on this...
Every time Brewmaster's lose their stigma of being "bad", Blizz come along and change it all again. Resulting in players not knowing how to play properly again, and Brewmaster's getting their bad reputation back.

I'm happy to hear that some of the long standing issues are being looked into, but am worried Blizzard will go to far as they usually do.

Two things that worry me:
- a cap on damage that can be staggered (BrM specific)
- a cap on how much AM buff can be banked (all tanks)

Both of these seem like simplistic "fixes" to non-simple issues. Rather than a cap, the source of these thing should be changed. Much like mobs scaling to ilevel, these are addressing a symptom rather than the cause.
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 going to put a cap on how long you can extend tank active mitigation buffs, to a maximum of twice their base duration." -- I can already tell you that having Ironskin last only 14 seconds is going to annoy Brewmasters more than promote 'good play.' The current style is very clearly chug 3 Ironskins back ASAP follow with Black Ox Brew and Chug 1 or 2 more Ironskins back. My advice is to push this at ~24 seconds specifically for this reason. This makes it so my eyes aren't crazy focused on the lowish number instead of what's going on.

"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. I am sitting at 38% Mastery currently, but if you keep that change in particular you are going to make me want so much more; this is obviously a choice for the devs to want or not, but at 50% mastery, ~18% base dodge, 3% base parry, and 10% Brew-Stache reaching 81% Dodge nearly all time. Blackout Strike isn't hard to use. -- My suggestion would be restore Energy instead, honestly. Keeping a well founded rotation should be rewarding, but you're going to make it very rewarding.

"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." -- Easy rework my friend, Keg Smash reduces the CD on Fortify Brew by an additional second (per point). Sold.

"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)." -- This is something Blizzard has been bad at for years. WHAT WILL THE CAP BE? HOW WILL I KNOW? WHAT WILL KILL ME AND WHAT WON'T? Putting a cap on Stagger is a fools task, if the healer can heal through it, so be it! The way you are adjusting us is already enough. Just make max stagger go to 95%, that 5% should be enough for you to create mechanics a Brew simply cannot ignore, or develope mechanics with proper statements that claim to pierce through mitigation (so all tanks know, can't be blocked, dodged, parried, staggered etc). With your increase to armour, this should be fine, but you would need to give us a micro-defensive (like changing Brew-Stache to reduce damage by 10% for a short duration instead of dodge for 10%).

Now, for my personal input
1) Tracking Stagger without an addon is impossible, do something to help with that. Red Stagger means very little most of the time.
2) Expel Harm shouldn't cost Energy, and shouldn't do damage. The damage is meaningless, often causes more harm then good, and if it doesn't cost energy this would be a fair nerf.
3) Niuzao is so interesting to use as a tank, I personally would like to see him more involved in how we tank. I would even love it as a permanent pet. This would be something wildly unique to the Brewmasters.
4) Rushing Jade Wind should use a half-global since it's use is so frequent and this would help smooth it out.
5) Healing Elixirs automatically proc'ing for Brewmasters is often more harm then good, can you please not have this. We have a trait, Obstinate Determination, that promotes play below 35%, but healing Elixirs will proc anyways.
6) Bump out range on Keg Smash to 30 yards because that's how long taunt is.
7) Nothing interacts with Exploding Keg except itself, why is this?
8) On Provoke can you put in the tooltip that it also increases threat generation for its duration since it's the only taunt that doesn't state it?
9) Gift of the Mists is still useless 99% of the time. Can the overhealing of Healing Spheres go somewhere when I take this talent?
10) I wish I was obnoxious enough to make a 10th point.

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