Brewmaster Monk Tank Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities (WoW MoP 5.4)

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Brewmaster Monk Art Image
General Information

On this page, we list your Brewmaster Monk core abilities and how they should be used together (rotation) in World of Warcraft MoP 5.4. We also explain when to use your various cooldowns. Then, we go deeper and present all the subtleties that you will need to know if you want to excel at playing a Brewmaster Monk.

The other pages of our Brewmaster Monk guide can be accessed from the table of contents on the right.

About Our Reviewer

This guide has been reviewed and approved by Sunnier, who maintains the most respected Brewmaster Monk resource site: Sunnier's Art of War.

1. Single Target Rotation↑top

The single target rotation for Brewmaster Monks revolves around spending your Energy to generate Chi, and then spending your Chi to improve your survival and threat generation. The priority list below does not take into account the various survival cooldowns at your disposal, which we will cover at length in another section.

  • Chi builders (by order of priority). Only use when you are not at maximum Chi.
    1. Use Keg Smash Icon Keg Smash (generates 2 Chi, so only use when you have 2 or fewer Chi).
    2. Use Expel Harm Icon Expel Harm
      • Only when you are not at full health. This will provide a small amount of self-healing.
    3. Use Jab Icon Jab. This is your default Chi builder, and your primary source of dumping Energy.
  • Chi finishers (by order of priority)
    1. Use Blackout Kick Icon Blackout Kick at least once every 6 seconds, to maintain high uptime on Shuffle Icon Shuffle, the self-buff that it applies.
    2. Maintain optimal uptime on the self-buffs applied by Tiger Palm Icon Tiger Palm.
      • Cast Tiger Palm at the start of the fight, in order to apply the damage-increasing (rather, armor-ignoring) self-buff.
      • Cast Tiger Palm before casting Guard Icon Guard, in order to improve Guard.
    3. Use Tiger Palm Icon Tiger Palm as a filler when there is nothing else to cast (despite the fact that we list it as a Chi finisher, it actually has no resource cost or cooldown).

This priority is very basic, and it does not cover the use of your several survival cooldowns. To get a full understanding, we recommend that you read our in-depth survival section, as well as our section on cooldowns.

2. Multiple Target Rotation↑top

In all cases, you should keep up your Shuffle Icon Shuffle buff by using Blackout Kick Icon Blackout Kick.

Against 2 enemies, you should simply use your normal rotation, switching between the two targets.

Against 3 or more enemies, perform the following actions, in addition to your normal rotation.

  1. Cast Keg Smash Icon Keg Smash.
  2. Use Rushing Jade Wind Icon Rushing Jade Wind, if you have taken this talent.
  3. Make sure that the Dizzying Haze Icon Dizzying Haze debuff is up on all targets. It is applied by Keg Smash Icon Keg Smash, but in case it is not up on the targets for some reason, you can apply it manually through Dizzying Haze.
  4. Keep the Breath of Fire Icon Breath of Fire DoT up on all targets, assuming that your Shuffle Icon Shuffle is not about to expire soon, and that you have spare Chi.
  5. Use Rushing Jade Wind Icon Rushing Jade Wind (this talent is the best for AoE situations).
  6. If you have not taken Rushing Jade Wind, use Spinning Crane Kick Icon Spinning Crane Kick as a filler.

Against a large number of enemies, you can simply spam Keg Smash Icon Keg Smash and Rushing Jade Wind Icon Rushing Jade Wind/Spinning Crane Kick Icon Spinning Crane Kick.

3. Active Damage Mitigation↑top

As a Brewmaster Monk, you have several abilities at your disposal that allow you to deal with the incoming damage that you receive. Their proper usage is crucial to your survivability. We explore each of them in greater depth in its own dedicated section, but here is what you must know:

  • Purifying Brew Icon Purifying Brew should be used often, whenever you have a large amount of staggered damage (read more about Stagger and Purifying Brew).
  • Elusive Brew Icon Elusive Brew should be used whenever you believe you will receive dangerous melee attacks (read more). Make sure to use it when your stacks are high so as not to have them reach maximum capacity and have new ones go to waste.
  • Guard Icon Guard should be used as many times as possible during the encounter. Make sure to always have Power Guard Icon Power Guard up before using Guard (read more). Use this as a major cooldown, whenever your health drops unexpectedly or you know a very dangerous attack is coming.
  • Blackout Kick Icon Blackout Kick applies a 6-second self-buff (Shuffle Icon Shuffle) each time you use it. Make sure that this buff is active before periods of intense damage (read more). Maintaining this buff is a top priority.

4. Cooldown Usage↑top

In addition to the above-mentioned active defensive cooldowns, you also have two abilities with a long cooldown. One is important to your own survival, whereas the other is a raid cooldown.

  • Fortifying Brew Icon Fortifying Brew should be used whenever you are about to take a large amount of damage. Alternatively, it can be used as an emergency cooldown when your health is low, although it is less effective in this way.
  • Avert Harm Icon Avert Harm is a raid cooldown that redirects 20% of all damage done to raid members within 10 yards of you to you, for 6 seconds. The effect ends prematurely if your maximum health goes below 10%.
  • Zen Meditation Icon Zen Meditation allows you to greatly mitigate the damage of the first melee attack that hits you while channeling it.

Additionally, your talents have the potential to provide you with an additional 3 active survival cooldowns. We discuss this, as well as the proper timing and usage of your default cooldowns in a subsequent section.

5. Taunting↑top

Provoke Icon Provoke is your single target taunt. When taunting your Black Ox Statue (see below), all enemies within 8 yards of the statue are forced to attack you. This constitutes a sort of AoE taunt. It is worth noting that taunting a target with Provoke increases its movement speed by 50%, which is useful when quickly changing a boss's positioning.

Thanks to Glyph of Leer of the Ox Icon Glyph of Leer of the Ox, you gain a new ability called Leer of the Ox Icon Leer of the Ox. Using this ability causes your Black Ox Statue to perform a single-target taunt. This taunt does not work on raid bosses, so it is not very useful.

It is also worth noting that the tiger spawned by Invoke Xuen, the White Tiger Icon Invoke Xuen, the White Tiger has the ability to taunt targets. You can control this (including turning off the auto-taunt feature) through the pet control bar that you are provided with. Note that this taunt does not work against raid bosses.

6. Stance↑top

It is of paramount importance to always be in Stance of the Sturdy Ox Icon Stance of the Sturdy Ox when tanking. This provides you with various benefits, which we present below.

7. Statue↑top

You should always have your Black Ox Statue active (Summon Black Ox Statue Icon Summon Black Ox Statue). This provides you with various benefits, which we present below.

8. Optional Read: Mastering Your Brewmaster Monk↑top

The information presented until now will allow you to tank successfully as a Brewmaster Monk, in the vast majority of situations. However, there are several aspects about your class and spec that you need to have a very deep understanding of, if you are to take full advantage of your character.

8.1. Vengeance

Vengeance Icon Vengeance is a passive ability which you receive for choosing the Brewmaster specialisation. Essentially, it increases your attack power for 1.5% of the unmitigated damage you receive. It takes the form of a 20-second buff, and its power fluctuates during the encounter, based on your damage intake.

Vengeance also has diminishing returns, in that each additional target attacking you generates less Vengeance than the previous one.

8.2. Energy and Chi

8.2.1. Energy

Energy is a resource that Monks share with Rogues and Feral Druids. There are several things you need to know about Energy:

  • Energy is generated passively. The regeneration speed is affected by your haste. Additionally, some abilities grant you Energy.
  • Energy is spent mainly on Chi-generating abilities, most notably Jab Icon Jab.
  • You have a maximum capacity of 100 Energy.
  • Energy never decays. A natural consequence of this is that your normal state is to have a full Energy bar (such as before starting combat).
  • Being at maximum capcaity causes any additional Energy you would generate to be wasted.

8.2.2. Chi

Chi is a Monk-only resource. There are several things you need to know about Chi:

  • Chi is generated by several abilities, the most notable of them being Jab Icon Jab.
  • Chi is spent on many crucial abilities, that are part of your rotation.
  • You have a maximum capacity of 4 Chi (5, if you have the Ascension Icon Ascension talent).
  • Chi decays quickly when outside of combat, but it does not decay while in combat. A natural consequence of this is that, when starting a fight, you will have no Chi.
  • Generating Chi while you are at maximum capacity will cause the new Chi to be wasted. The only exception to this is the Chi generated thanks to the Power Strikes Icon Power Strikes talent, which spawns a Chi sphere each time your Chi would be wasted. The sphere grants you 1 Chi when you walk over it.

8.3. Stance of the Sturdy Ox

Stance of the Sturdy Ox Icon Stance of the Sturdy Ox provides the following benefits:

  • Grants you immunity against critical strikes.
  • Increases your Stamina by 20%.
  • Reduces all damage taken by 25%.
  • Increases Energy regeneration by 10%.
  • Grants you the Stagger Icon Stagger mechanic (explained below).

8.4. Black Ox Statue

Your Black Ox Statue provides you with the following benefits:

  • Every time you deal a set amount of damage (based on your attack power), the statue will cast Guard Icon Guard on a low-health raid member within 40 yards, absorbing a certain amount of damage. The effect does not interact in any way with your own Guard spell, and it also cannot be cast on yourself.
  • The statue interacts in two ways with your ability to taunt targets, as described above.

8.5. Survival Mechanisms

In the following sections, we will cover all the various mechanics that help you survive.

8.5.1. Stagger

In addition to dodging and parrying attacks, Brewmaster Monks also gain a new means of avoiding damage, called Stagger Icon Stagger. This is actually a key element in your survivability as a tank, so it is important to understand it correctly.

As mentioned above, you only benefit from Stagger when you are in the Stance of the Sturdy Ox Icon Stance of the Sturdy Ox.

Stagger causes physical attacks against you to have their damage split in two portions:

  • An instant portion, which, predictably, has its damage done to you instantly, in the moment of the attack.
  • An over-time portion, which has its damage done to you in the form of a 10-second DoT.

The division between the portions depends on your Mastery (Mastery: Elusive Brawler Icon Mastery: Elusive Brawler), as well as on the Shuffle Icon Shuffle self-buff, applied by Blackout Kick Icon Blackout Kick.

As can be easily noticed, Stagger Icon Stagger does not provide any form of damage reduction, mitigation, or avoidance. This is where Purifying Brew Icon Purifying Brew, an ability with a 1-second cooldown that you have by default, comes into play. Purifying Brew costs 1 Chi, and instantly removes all of your staggered damage.

A simple example, assuming a Stagger amount of 40%, is as follows:

  1. An attack of 100,000 damage is performed against you.
  2. 60,000 damage is dealt to you instantly.
  3. A DoT is applied to you, which deals 40,000 damage over 10 seconds.
  4. You cast Purifying Brew Icon Purifying Brew after 2 seconds, removing the DoT.
  5. You have sustained 60,000 in instant damage, and 8,000 in Staggered damage. The remaining 32,000 damage has been removed by Purifying Brew.

It is hard to say how often Purifying Brew must be used, as this depends on a lot of factors. We touch on the subject again below.

8.5.2. Shuffle

Shuffle Icon Shuffle is a self-buff which increases your chance to parry by 20%, and also increases the amount of staggered damage by 20%. Shuffle is applied by Blackout Kick Icon Blackout Kick.

It is important to note that successive applications of Shuffle will extend the duration of the self-buff. The duration of the self-buff has no maximum length of time (you can have it go as high as 2 minutes, though this is uncommon).

Due to the importance of the buff for your survival, and the relative ease of maintaining a high uptime, you should aim to always have Shuffle up during periods of even moderately intense damage. In fact, you should be able to maintain 100% uptime on the buff in most circumstances.

8.5.3. Purifying Brew Versus Blackout Kick

Purifying Brew Icon Purifying Brew and Blackout Kick Icon Blackout Kick are the two abilities on which you will spend the vast majority of your Chi. Because of this, you will have to strike a balance between the two. Deciding when to use which ability depends on many factors, but in principle, you should try to keep 100% uptime on Shuffle Icon Shuffle and use Purifying Brew the rest of the time.

While, of course, using Purifying Brew each time you are the victim of an attack will result in the highest damage reduction from it, it is best to check how much Staggered damage you currently have, and only use Purifying Brew when this damage is high (particularly after big hits).

8.5.4. Elusive Brew

Elusive Brew Icon Elusive Brew is an ability that increases your chance to dodge by 30%. Its usage is conditioned by Brewing: Elusive Brew Icon Brewing: Elusive Brew, a stacking self-buff that you gain each time you perform critical strikes with your autoattacks. For each stack of the buff (which has a maximum capacity of 15 stacks), Elusive Brew lasts 1 second.

Elusive Brew itself has a 6-second cooldown. Generally speaking, maintaining 100% uptime on this buff is impossible, since you would need to generate one stack per second. Therefore, this should be viewed more as an active defensive cooldown, rather than a buff to maintain.

Since dodge chance only works against physical attacks, it is ideal to use Elusive Brew before a series of powerful attacks is made against you.

Elusive Brew provides the same amount of dodge, regardless of the number of stacks you use it with. This, coupled with the fact that it is off the the global cooldown, means that you do not have to wait until you have 15 stacks to cast it. You should not use it with too few stacks, however, since the chances of being the victim of a boss attack while it is active are diminished in this way. Ideally, you will wait until you have a reasonable number of stacks, at least 6.

Finally, it is essential to not forget to use Elusive Brew, because the stacks of Brewing: Elusive Brew are capped at 15, as we have mentioned. Do keep in mind, however, that it is perfectly acceptable to "waste" a few stacks by delaying Elusive Brew in order to time with a particularly important moment in the fight.

8.5.5. Tiger Palm, Tiger Power, and Power Guard

Tiger Palm Icon Tiger Palm has three uses to you as a Brewmaster Monk.

  • It applies a self-buff, Tiger Power Icon Tiger Power, which causes your attacks to ignore 30% of the target's armor. It is important to your threat generation and DPS.
  • It applies a self-buff, Power Guard Icon Power Guard, which increases the potency of your next Guard Icon Guard by 15%. You should always make sure to have this buff up before casting Guard (as it will give you more benefit out of the Chi you spend on Guard).
  • It acts as a filler, allowing you to deal damage, generate threat, and refresh the above buffs. It does this very well because it has no cooldown or resource cost, meaning that you can literally spam this ability at will.

8.5.6. Dizzying Haze

Dizzying Haze Icon Dizzying Haze is a debuff applied by Keg Smash Icon Keg Smash. It lasts 15 seconds (whereas Keg Smash's cooldown is only 8-seconds), and you should have 100% uptime on it. Dizzying Haze provides two benefits:

  • The target has a 3% chance of their attacks misfiring. This means that the attack will fail, and instead of striking you, it will strike the target.
  • The target's movement speed is reduced by 50%.

It is important to note that Keg Smash Icon Keg Smash damages all targets within 8 yards of the main target, and applies Dizzying Haze to all targets it hits.

8.5.7. Desperate Measures

Thanks to Desperate Measures Icon Desperate Measures, a passive ability, whenever you are at or below 35% of your maximum health, Expel Harm Icon Expel Harm has no cooldown, and its cooldown is reset. In this case, it should take precedence over Jab Icon Jab.

8.6. Detailed Cooldown Usage

8.6.1. Guard

Guard Icon Guard is a defensive ability with a 30-second cooldown. It has two benefits:

  • It absorbs a certain amount of damage (based on your attack power).
  • While Guard is active (that is to say, before the damage absorption shield is broken), all self-healing is increased by 30%.

The amount of damage that Guard Icon Guard absorbs is influenced by your attack power, so with high amounts of Vengeance Icon Vengeance, Guard can absorb massive amounts of damage, making it very useful.

While delaying it too much is not recommended, it is perfectly acceptable (and recommended) to time it with particularly problematic moments in the fight. Keep in mind also, as stated above, that you can boost the efficiency of your Guard thanks to Tiger Palm Icon Tiger Palm.

An interesting thing you can do is use Glyph of Guard Icon Glyph of Guard in fights with little or no magic damage. This glyph causes Guard to only absorb (and be consumed) by magic damage. If you use it when there is no magic damage coming your way, then you can retain Guard on you for its full 30-second duration, benefiting from the 30% increased self-healing. Note that the usefulness of this technique is limited, because your self-healing is lackluster in general. As such, you should only do this when the physical damage you are taking is not problematic at all (because if it is, you are in fact better off absorbing it through an unglyphed Guard).

8.6.2. Avert Harm

Avert Harm Icon Avert Harm is a raid cooldown. It will redirect 20% of all damage taken by nearby raid members to you, for 6 seconds. If your health reaches 10% of your maximum health, the effect is canceled. It is important to note that the damage taken through Avert Harm, even if not Physical in nature, can still be Staggered.

This is a useful method of helping raid members (especially melee players) take less damage, but you must be very careful not to take excessive damage because of it. Even though the effect is canceled when you reach 10% of your health, if the boss is currently striking you for high amounts of damage, 10% may be much too low for you to stay alive.

You can couple Avert Harm with Fortifying Brew Icon Fortifying Brew, and you should always have Chi in reserve for Purifying Brew Icon Purifying Brew, each time you use Avert Harm.

We want to emphasize that Avert Harm has a very small range, only working on raid members within 10 yards of your location, so keep that in mind!

It is also interesting to note that if Hand of Protection Icon Hand of Protection is cast on you while Avert Harm is active, you take no damage at all from it. Naturally, you cannot tank bosses while Hand of Protection is active, and it requires coordination with a Paladin, but it is certainly worth exploring.

8.6.3. Fortifying Brew

Fortifying Brew Icon Fortifying Brew increases your health by 20%, reduces all damage taken by 20%, and increases your Stagger Icon Stagger amount by 20%, for 20 seconds. It is a major defensive cooldown (your only one).

Fortifying Brew is best used preemptively. One thing to note about it is that, because of the Stagger increase it offers, it is imperative to use Purifying Brew Icon Purifying Brew to take full advantage of it.

8.6.4. Zen Meditation

Zen Meditation Icon Zen Meditation is a very powerful defensive cooldown. It reduces damage taken by 90% for 8 seconds, but the effect is canceled prematurely if you are the victim of a melee attack.

The spell is most useful for reducing magic damage during times when you are not being actively attacked by any targets, but it can also be used to mitigate a powerful melee attack or other boss mechanic.

8.6.5. Gift of the Ox

Thanks to Gift of the Ox Icon Gift of the Ox, a passive ability, you have a chance to summon a healing sphere each time you deal damage with a melee attack. These healing spheres persist on the ground around you, and moving over them causes them to be consumed, healing you.

You should make it a habit to pick up these spheres whenever you need extra healing.

8.6.6. Touch of Death

Touch of Death Icon Touch of Death is only usable against enemies who have equal or less current health than you. This means that, in most cases (at level 90), it will only be usable on enemies who have around 500,000 health or less. The spell does a huge amount of damage, killing the target. Essentially this means it deals damage equal to their remaining health.

Using Touch of Death against raid bosses is very difficult. This is because the health of raid bosses decreases very rapidly, especially when they are in "execute range" (below 20-25% health). You will, at best, have a 1-2 second window of opportunity to use this spell.

Even so, however, you should do your best to use it whenever possible. You should look out for low health adds that you can use it against.

8.6.7. Tier 2 Talents

Zen Sphere Icon Zen Sphere should be refreshed each time it expires. Chi Wave Icon Chi Wave should be used on cooldown, but it can be delayed slightly until you take damage. Chi Burst Icon Chi Burst is only really useful when the raid is stacked together, and that is when it should be used.

8.6.8. Tier 3 Talents

Power Strikes Icon Power Strikes provides its benefit passively, by causing your Jab Icon Jab, Expel Harm Icon Expel Harm, and Spinning Crane Kick Icon Spinning Crane Kick to generate 2 Chi instead of 1, with a 20-second internal cooldown. This is a benefit you should simply enjoy, which will not affect your rotation in any way.

Chi Brew Icon Chi Brew is ideally suited for picking up new targets, especially when you were not previously tanking anything (and your Elusive Brew Icon Elusive Brew stacks are low, and when you have no Chi to put up your Shuffle Icon Shuffle buff).

Ascension Icon Ascension, should you choose this talent, will also provide its benefit passively, by giving you a larger Chi pool, and increasing your Energy regeneration rate.

8.6.9. Tier 5 Talents

Healing Elixirs Icon Healing Elixirs provides its benefit passively. It heals you for 15% of your maximum health, every time you use one of the following abilities.

Unfortunately, the effect is restricted by a 15-second internal cooldown. If you have taken this talent, then you will want to make sure that you are using Elusive Brew and/or Purifying Brew when you are in need of self-healing. Sadly, it is very likely that the effect will be on cooldown when you need it most, since Purifying Brew is part of your very regular rotation. That said, since the talent does not proc when you are at full health, you may see quite a nice benefit from it after all, since it will most likely be ready to proc as soon as your health drops.

Dampen Harm Icon Dampen Harm is a survival cooldown that you can use to mitigate the damage from powerful boss attacks. It is most useful if used preemptively.

Diffuse Magic Icon Diffuse Magic is your only reliable means of protection against magic damage. Again, it must be used preemptively.

8.6.10. Tier 6 Talents

Rushing Jade Wind Icon Rushing Jade Wind should be used whenever there are 3 or more enemies around you. Since it does not need to be channeled, you can simply continue casting your other abilities (your defenses and Keg Smash Icon Keg Smash) as soon as you cast it.

Invoke Xuen, the White Tiger Icon Invoke Xuen, the White Tiger can be commanded to attack and taunt specific targets through the pet control bar. We advise you to remove the auto-taunt feature. Note that bosses are generally not susceptible to Xuen's taunt.

8.7. Roll

Roll Icon Roll is an ability that allows you to quickly move 15 yards in front of you. It is a useful mobility ability, which you should use extensively for quickly traversing short distances. Here are a few facts about Roll:

  • Roll has no resource cost and no cooldown. It is based on a charge system.
    • It has a maximum of 2 charges, and each charge has a 20-second recharge time.
    • The Celerity Icon Celerity talent increases the number of charges to 3, and reduces recharge time to 15 seconds.
  • Roll is off the global cooldown, but while you are rolling, you are unable to use any other ability.
  • Roll will always send you in the direction that your character is currently moving (including backwards). If your character is stationary, Roll will send you in the direction your character is facing.
  • You cannot roll through objects or obstacles. If you encounter an obstacle, your Roll is ended prematurely.

Finally, Chi Torpedo Icon Chi Torpedo, a tier 6 talent, replaces Roll with Chi Torpedo. Chi Torpedo is identical to Roll in every way, except that it rolls 5 yards further, and it damages enemies and heals allies in your rolling path.

9. Changelog↑top

  • 18 Sep. 2013: Updated the guide to remove an outdated mention of Rushing Jade Wind Icon Rushing Jade Wind applying/refreshing Shuffle Icon Shuffle.
  • 11 Sep. 2013: Patch 5.4 update.
  • 20 May 2013: Patch 5.3 update: nothing to change.
  • 12 Apr. 2013: Made several updates.
    • Improved the multiple target rotation.
    • Added sections for Gift of the Ox Icon Gift of the Ox, Zen Meditation Icon Zen Meditation, and Tier 2 talents.
    • Improved the explanations of several mechanics, including Taunting mechanics, and Guard Icon Guard.
    • Added a section about Vengeance Icon Vengeance.
  • 11 Mar. 2013: Patch 5.2 update.
    • Updated Elusive Brew Icon Elusive Brew section to mention that it now has a 6-second cooldown, down from 9 seconds.