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Monk - Warlords of Draenor Alpha Patch Notes Analysis

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Posted 16 April 2014 - 10:20 PM

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Icy Veins asks the experts' opinions on their favorite class changes! Today, Sunnier, Justmonk and Unpl discuss Monk patch notes.

The Warlords of Draenor Alpha patch notes have been out for only a few days, but millions of players are already voicing strong opinions of the direction Blizzard is headed with the game in this coming expansion. Some class changes have received overwhelmingly positive feedback, while others have left many a player scratching their head. A few changes have even caused a substantial outcry of rage!


To see things more clearly, we've invited a handful of our class MVPs to share their opinions on the changes made to their respective class. For this patch notes analysis topic, we have requested feedback from our resident expert on the projected changes being made to the Monk class. Sunnier, Justmonk, and Unpl have been kind enough to share their thoughts on the upcoming Monk changes!

Sunnier maintains the most respected Brewmaster Monk resource site, Sunnier's Art of War. Justmonk, one of the best Windwalker monks in the world, raids with Method. Unpl is a talented Mistweaver Monk who raids in Paragon.

Blizzard Icon Monk WoD Alpha Changes

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Ability Pruning

  • Avert Harm has been removed.
  • Clash has been removed.
  • Adaptation has been removed.
  • Power Guard has been removed.
  • Disable is now available only to Windwalker Monks.
  • Healing Sphere (the spell, not any other sources of healing spheres) has been removed. Mistweavers' Gift of the Serpent, Brewmasters' Gift of the Ox, and Windwalkers' Afterlife still summon healing spheres.
  • Surging Mist is now available to all Monk specializations. It costs 30 Energy in Ox or Tiger Stance, and continues to cost mana in Serpent Stance and Crane Stance. However, it only generates Chi for Mistweaver Monks.
  • Stance of the Spirited Crane now replaces Stance of the Fierce Tiger for Mistweaver Monks (see Monks below for details).
  • Stance of the Sturdy Ox now replaces Stance of the Fierce Tiger for Brewmaster Monks.

Hit and Expertise Removal

  • Stance of the Wise Serpent no longer increases Hit or Expertise.
  • Stance of the Sturdy Ox now also reduces the chance for attacks to be parried by 3%.

Retuning Healing Spells


See the full patch notes for complete details of these changes.

Active Mana Regeneration

  • Crackling Jade Lightning's channel duration has been reduced to 4 seconds.
  • Stance of the Wise Serpent now also causes Crackling Jade Lightning to cost no mana, and restore 2% of the Monk’s maximum mana if the ability is channeled for its full duration.

Crowd Control and Diminishing Returns

  • Fists of Fury no longer stuns a target more than once per cast.
  • Glyph of Breath of Fire’s Disoriented effect now shares Diminishing Returns with all other Mesmerize effects.
  • Grapple Weapon has been removed.
  • Ring of Peace no longer Silences or Disarms enemies. It now incapacitates targets in the area for 3 seconds, or until the target takes damage. The ability now shares Diminishing Returns with all other Mesmerize effects.
  • Spear Hand Strike no longer Silences the target if they’re facing the Monk.
  • Spinning Fire Blossom’s Root effect now shares Diminishing Returns with all other Root effects.

Buffs and Debuffs


Weakened Blows was a debuff that mattered almost exclusively to tanks, and that every tank automatically applied. We removed the debuff and reduced creature damage to compensate.
  • Weakened Blows
    • Keg Smash no longer applies the Weakened Blows effect.
As part of a push to combine the different types of Haste in the game as much as possible, we merged Spell Haste and Attack Speed into just Haste, which benefits everyone.
  • Brewmaster Monks now also learn Legacy of the White Tiger, granting 5% increased Critical Strike chance to all Party and Raid members.
  • Monk (Windwalker): Rising Sun Kick now also increase magic damage taken by the target by 5% for 15 seconds.

Instant Cast Heals

  • Uplift (Mistweaver) now has a 1.5-second cast time (up from instant cast).

Tank Vengeance and Resolve

  • Bladed Armor is a new passive ability for Blood Death Knights, Guardian Druids, Brewmaster Monks, Protection Paladins, and Protection Warriors.
    • Bladed Armor increases Attack Power by 100% of the character's Bonus Armor.
  • Vengeance has been removed and replaced with a new passive ability, Resolve. Resolve increases your healing and absorption done to yourself, based on Stamina and damage taken (before avoidance and mitigation) in the last 10 seconds.
  • Mastery: Elusive Brawler now also passively increases Attack Power by 12% (percentage increased by Mastery), in addition to its current effects.
  • Brewmasters no longer deal 15% less damage.

Raid Utility Balance

  • Avert Harm has been removed.
  • Stance of the Fierce Tiger’s movement speed increase now affects the Monk and all allies within 10 yards.

Class Changes


The brand-new class for Mists of Pandaria, Monks, turned out to be a ton of fun. Brewmasters stayed fairly solid all expansion long. Windwalkers needed a few tweaks here and there, especially to their Mastery, and still have a few shortcomings that we hope to improve, but overall worked quite well. Mistweavers had a bit of a rollercoaster ride, veering between weak and strong over the course of the expansion. Most of our changes to Monks will focus on Mistweavers, to try to get them just right.

About midway through the expansion, it became clear that mana was not valuable for Mistweavers. We tried some adjustments to solve that, but it proved too large of a change to make at the time. We chose to just live with that problem for the time being, and tune them around not really caring much about Spirit or mana (once they reached epic gear).

Now that we have the time to tweak things, and for Mistweavers to acquire new gear, we're going to make changes to get them in the right spot. Initially, we experimented with giving Mistwavers a 1-second GCD akin to that of the Rogue to give them a faster combat feel. However, it's proven difficult to balance. Haste is attractive to healers because it lowers not just cast time but GCD as well. Therefore, Monks valued Haste much less than other healers. We explored a few options, but ultimately landed on changing the core GCD for Mistweavers from 1 second to the standard 1.5 seconds, which you will be able to reduce with Haste. This will feel jarring at first, but we're confident that it's for the best, long-term.
  • All abilities available to Mistweavers now have a 1.5 second global cooldown (up from 1 second).
  • Stance of the Sturdy Ox and Stance of the Fierce Tiger now reduce the global cooldown of the Monk’s abilities by 0.5 seconds.
  • Stance of the Wise Serpent no longer increases Haste from items by 50%.
  • Focus and Harmony is a new passive ability for Mistweaver Monks.
    • Focus and Harmony: Haste effects lower the global cooldown of your spells and abilities.
  • Crackling Jade Lightning's throughput has been increased by 100%, but no longer generates Chi for Mistweaver Monks.
  • Soothing Mist no longer generates Chi for Mistweaver Monks.
  • Thunder Focus Tea now causes the next Renewing Mist to jump up to 4 times (used to cause the next Uplift to refresh the duration of Renewing Mists on all targets).
  • Healing Spheres now heal an ally within 12yd (up from 6yd) for 100% (up from 50%) of their normal healing, when they expire.
  • Detonate Chi is a new spell available to Mistweavers. Detonate Chi: Instantly detonate all of your Healing Spheres, causing each of them to heal a nearby ally within 12 yards of the sphere. 15 sec cooldown.
Another issue with Mistweavers is that of Eminence, which has never really played out how we had hoped. The intent with Eminence was to create an alternate play style to fulfill the fantasy of healing through dealing damage, since we knew a lot of players had that fantasy, and a new class was the perfect opportunity to satisfy that.

Having two play styles in one spec (Eminence, and traditional Mistweaving, healing primarily through casting heals) proved challenging to balance, because we don't want players to take the best parts of both and stack them into an unintended superior spec. The most notorious of these cases was "Jab-Jab-Uplift". In order to solve this problem, we're giving Mistweavers two stances. Stance of the Wise Serpent will continue to be the stance from which to do traditional Mistweaving. The new Stance of the Spirited Crane will be the stance to use for Eminence. You can swap stances at will, with only the cost of a GCD and any current Chi that you've accrued. The intention is that Crane Stance allows Mistweavers to trade healing for damage; it should fall somewhere in the middle between being a full healer, and being a full damage dealer.
  • Stance of the Spirited Crane is a new ability for Mistweaver Monks, which replaces Stance of the Fierce Tiger.
  • The Spell-Power-to-Attack-Power conversion effect has been moved from Stance of the Wise Serpent to Stance of the Spirited Crane.
  • The Eminence effect has been moved from Stance of the Wise Serpent to Stance of the Spirited Crane.
  • Teachings of the Monastery now makes Spinning Crane Kick heal friends instead of damaging enemies, while in Stance of the Wise Serpent (previously, it would heal allies in addition to damaging enemies).
  • Mastery: Gift of the Serpent’s Healing Spheres now scale with Spell Power instead of Attack Power.
  • Serpent's Zeal has been removed. Eminence now always includes Auto Attacks.
  • Muscle Memory and Vital Mists have been merged. Muscle Memory now requires Stance of the Spirited Crane, and passively increases the damage of Crackling Jade Lightning by 100%, causes Tiger Palm to trigger the Vital Mists effect, and causes Blackout Kick to hit 4 additional nearby targets for 50% damage.
  • The following abilities now require Stance of the Wise Serpent for Mistweavers: Enveloping Mist, Renewing Mist, Soothing Mist, Uplift.
  • The following abilities now require Stance of the Spirited Crane for Mistweavers: Blackout Kick, Jab, Tiger Palm.
We also improved all Monk Healing Spheres. You'll no longer waste them when running over multiple at once when you only need a little healing. And we significantly improved the effect when Mistweavers' Healing Spheres expire. We also made Afterlife Healing Spheres consistent with the rest of the class.
  • When a player runs through multiple Healing Spheres at once, only as many as needed to heal the player to full health will be consumed (instead of all of them if the player is injured at all).
  • Healing Spheres from Gift of the Serpent now heal an injured ally within 12 yards (up from 6 yards) for 100% (up from 50%) of their normal effect, when they expire.
  • Afterlife’s Healing Sphere now heals for the same amount as other Healing Spheres (instead of healing for 15% of maximum health).
There were several changes that affected multiple Monk specializations. We’d like to see Monks using Transcendence more often, so its usability has been improved (some baseline, and some in a Draenor Perk). For Touch of Death, we like that it’s a unique execute being usable only once, but found it impractical to use on bosses and have improved its usability. For Tiger Strikes, we buffed it to grant Multistrike ability which it was similar to already, and extended it to work with all Monk specializations.
  • Transcendence: Transfer no longer has an energy or mana cost.
  • Touch of Death is now usable on targets that have 10% or less health remaining, or have less current health than your maximum health. The rules against players remain unchanged.
  • Tiger Strikes is now available to all Monk specializations, and has a chance to trigger on successful auto attacks and their Multistrikes. It has an 8% chance to trigger while using a two-handed weapon, and a 5% chance to trigger while dual wielding.
    • When triggered, Tiger Strikes now grants +50% to Multistrike for 8 seconds instead of +50% to attack speed and double attacks for 4 attacks.
We’re making a few changes that mostly affects Windwalkers, but has a minor impact on Mistweavers and Brewmasters as well. For energy-based gameplay to function well, the primary limitation on ability usage should be energy, not time. As such, we're making the following changes to address GCD-capping problems. First, we’re reducing the effects and mana increase of Ascension, because it became more powerful when combined with several of our other changes to healers. We believe that Ascension will remain as a competitive talent for Brewmasters. Second, energy cost of Jab has been increased for Windwalkers. And Third, we reduced the chance for Combo Breaker to trigger. Individually, these may sound like significant nerfs but Windwalker damage has been adjusted to compensate for these changes. The goal is not to reduce DPS while addressing the issue with GCD-capping.
  • Ascension now increases energy regeneration and maximum mana by 10% (down from 15%).
  • Combo Breaker now has an 8% chance to trigger, per effect, per Jab (down from 12%).
  • Stance of the Fierce Tiger now also increases Jab’s energy cost by 10.
A couple of additional changes for Windwalkers. Storm, Earth, and Fire, got buffed to make it smoother to use. We also buffed Fists of Fury because we felt that the ability wasn’t giving a strong enough damage boost given its restrictions and impact on the Monk's rotation.
  • Storm, Earth, and Fire no longer has an energy cost, and is off GCD.
  • Fists of Fury now deals 100% increased damage, and always deals full damage to your primary target; additional targets are still affected by the damage split.
For Brewmasters, Gift of the Ox has been modified to allow it to scale defensively with the new Multistrike stat. The Black Ox Statue has been modified to aid Monks in establishing aggro on new enemies.
  • Black Ox Statue now also passively attracts the attention of all enemies within 30 yards, causing a minor amount of threat each second.
  • Gift of the Ox now has a chance to trigger only from auto attack Multistrikes, instead of from all auto attacks. It has a 100% chance to trigger while using a two-handed weapon, and a 62.5% chance to trigger while dual wielding.


1. What is your overall impression of Blizzard's changes to the Monk class?


Sunnier (Brewmaster): Brewmasters scraped by mostly unchanged. We had some skills pruned that will likely be missed, but other than that, no mechanics were changed (yet). I think we were in a good position to begin with, and not much needed changing anyways.

Justmonk (Windwalker): The overall impression of the Windwalker changes is very good. There are mostly quality of life changes so far, and some of these improvements are issues that were brought up during Mists of Pandaria’s cycle and are now being addressed. For instance, the Fists of Fury buff and glyph will support the use of it again fully instead of having it as an ability one rather doesn’t use.

Unpl (Mistweaver): I feel like Blizzard have completely scrapped the MoP iteration of what a MW was and are returning to the drawing table. What comes out of that table remains to be seen.

2. Which changes do you think are the best and why?


Sunnier (Brewmaster): Removal of Vengeance. Taking damage to increase damage caused many problems in the tanking sphere, from encouraging very un-tanky behavior to making tank DPS incredibly variable and frustrating. The defensive gameplay that remains and will be moved to Resolve is worthwhile, and the fact that our own baseline damage will be tolerable is a big plus as well.

Justmonk (Windwalker): The Fists of Fury change as mentioned is the best change they are doing for windwalkers so far. Perhaps there will be something better down the line, but for now this change will help bring back the monk feeling a Windwalker had in early Mists (beta) where Fists of Fury was a great spec defining spell that you love pressing.

Unpl (Mistweaver): The separation of Mistweaving and Fistweaving to their corresponding stances. This should allow Blizzard to design MWs to be competitive without having to worry about Fistweave abilities.
Making our Mastery desirable is always a plus.

3. Which changes do you think are the worst and why?


Sunnier (Brewmaster): My initial reaction to most of our level 100 talents is scepticism. With Chi Explosion, I'm not sure what the intent is (whether it's supposed to be a survival increase or DPS increase), and I have trouble finding situations where one would want or need to combine Shuffle and Purifying Brew. I'll reserve my final judgement of this talent for whenever it becomes available for testing, but right now I'm cautious. Chi Serenity is similarly confusing, since all it really allows us to do is spam Shuffle, Purifying Brew, and occasionally Guard at once. None of these abilities particularly benefit from being spammed in such a way, and this talent will require awkwardly pressing two or three buttons at once (or a macro), since Purifying Brew and Guard are off the GCD and can be used at the same time as Blackout Kick. It is, however, a pretty clear DPS cooldown, so there is that.

Justmonk (Windwalker): This is a hard question for Windwalkers, as there aren’t any real bad changes made to us. If anything the worst change so far is adding another beneficial effect to Energizing Brew, with it increasing your Multistrike chance it becomes a button you don’t only press to gain energy but also to stack on top of other cooldowns. This will likely mean we will be pressing it as it comes off cooldown most of the time instead of having some thought put behind it and use it when you know you will not waste any energy. Perhaps our energy regen will not be enough to do so, but it will still end up being a 1 minute button you keep on cooldown in that case.

Unpl (Mistweaver): Monks were sold as a fast-paced, mobile, melee healer. The global cooldown being increased to 1.5seconds and the reduction in the number of Chi Generators available contradict that design. With the current amount of Chi generators the pace is worryingly similar to that of a Paladin.

4. How would you alter any of the existing changes?


Sunnier (Brewmaster): I wouldn't alter any changes at this moment. We didn't see many, and what we know so far is an incomplete picture. Since it's so early in the testing process, and we are still a ways from being able to actually test these changes in a "realistic" environment, I will save my judgement until later.

Justmonk (Windwalker): Let’s stick to the worst here, and I would not have a Multistrike chance attached to Energizing Brew. Suggestions to still have energizing brew stay interesting and not just be a button you press all the time are hard to come up with, because of the way the spell works there is only so much you can do to make it interesting. Perhaps get rid of the energy regen and just supply us with combo breaker procs but still keeping the Multistrike will result in less energy capping but still feel like you get more out of it than just more damage. I’m sure there are several more other options as well to make Energizing Brew an interesting cooldown button you want to press.

Unpl (Mistweaver): Eminence healing is still stuck at 20 yards, which is weak, but might work with the half of a DPS/half of a healer mentality. Also the current implementation of Jade Serpent Statue feels lackluster. The statue and its model are iconic to MW monks, but what it bring to the table is not.

5. What changes would you like to see in WoD?


Sunnier (Brewmaster): I have a couple of minor things I'd like to see, such as a re-evaluation of the Shuffle duration, more interesting glyphs (major and minor), and more interesting tanking encounters. I know that at the very least we'll see the later two.

Justmonk (Windwalker): I was hoping for changing in regard to raid cooldowns, equalizing most DPS and specs and there seems to be a plan there that is still to be shown to us as of writing this so I will let that topic be. Other changes that I would like to see are a few more minor improvements to Storm, Earth and Fire. Adding a debuff to targets your 'wind' image is on so you see that one of your clones is hitting it without the need to use an addon or looking at the model (which is hard to see when raiding).

Another look at our level 90 talents would be nice as well. With the improved Spinning Crane Kick we are getting, Rushing Jade Wind’s power will be diminished and it’s possible our only option will be Xuen. Making it a one option in that tier and that’s not ideal for the talent system.

Unpl (Mistweaver): I’d like for MW monks to retain their fluid and fast-paced gameplay. Being able to channel Mana Tea while moving might help with that.

Patch Notes Last Updated - 24 April 2014

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