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Monks are the new class that is being introduced in Mists of Pandaria. Today, we offer you a first look at their DPS tree, the Windwalker specialisation.
It should be stated that this article is not meant to be a comprehensive guide, and that it is based on preliminary Beta content. There is no reliable means of measuring DPS and there are no raid encounters yet where we can fully explore the mechanics of the class. Furthermore, level 90 is not yet available.
Here are a few facts about the Monk's DPS specialisation:
- melee DPS;
- can use Fist Weapons, One-Handed Axes/Maces/Swords, Polearms, and Staves.
- dual resource system comprised of Energy and Chi (more on this below);
- the usual array of melee DPS abilities (interrupts, slows, stuns, disarms).
The Resource System
The Windwalker Monk resource system is comprised of Energy and Chi.
Energy is very straightforward, acting in the same way as Rogues' and Feral Druid DPS' resources of the same name. It regenerates steadily over time, at a base rate of 10 per second. Its regeneration rate is affected by haste. Energy is used mostly for utility spells (interrupt, resurrecting players, etc.), but also by Jab, the main Chi generating ability.
Chi is required for the vast majority of the damaging spells used by Windwalker Monks in their normal rotation. It has a maximum capacity of 4 (5 if the Ascension talent is taken) and it does not decrease or decay in any way (even when out of combat).
Your Mastery is Combo Breaker. It interacts with 3 of your main spells, by giving you a chance, each time you use Jab, to proc a cost-free Blackout Kick or Tiger Palm. Each of the two spells has a different proc, and they can both proc at once. The only thing to note here is that you should make sure to use the proc(s) before using Jab again, so that, in the event of a new proc, the old one does not go to waste.
The Windwalker DPS rotation is centered around spending Energy to generate Chi, and spending that Chi on your most damaging abilities. As part of your rotation, you must also keep in mind a few side-mechanics (debuffs, self-buffs) of your spells.
You will be using Jab regularly to generate Chi for your other abilities. You should use it often enough that your Energy does not reach maximum capacity. The Chi you gain in this way should be used as follows:
- Keep Zen Sphere up. This will cost you 2 Chi every 16 seconds.
- Use Rising Sun Kick on cooldown. This is your most damaging spell. It costs 2 Chi and has an 8 second cooldown. It also applies a debuff to the target, increasing all damage it takes from your attacks by 10% for 15 seconds.
- Use Tiger Palm to spend excess Chi. By doing this, you will also be keeping up 3 stacks of the self-buff it applies, which causes you to bypass 15% of the target's armor.
- Use Tiger Palm and Blackout Kick whenever you benefit from a proc from your Mastery (making them free of Chi cost).
You have several other damaging abilities in your arsenal, however it does not appear that they are efficient to use as part of your rotation.
The only notable exception is Expel Harm, which acts a self-heal and damaging spell. It has no cost, a 15 second cooldown and it generates 2 Chi. The damaging portion of it seems to be on par with other spells that use up a global cooldown, making it possibly useful during fights. The damage you deal is conditional on the self-healing not being an over-heal, so it is most likely only going to be usable when you are not already topped off. More testing is required.
As a Windwalker Monk, you only have 3 (possibly 4, depending on the talents you chose) DPS cooldowns:
- Energizing Brew, which regenerates 60 energy over 6 seconds, on a 1 minute cooldown. You will want to use this on cooldown, assuming that you are able to keep spending your energy so that it does not reach maximum capacity.
- Tigereye Brew, which allows you to consume all the stacks of Brewing: Tigereye Brew that you have, increasing your damage done by 2% per stack for 15 seconds. You gain 1 stack of Tigereye Brew each time you spend 4 Chi. You can have a maximum of 10 stacks, and the buff lasts 2 minutes (allowing you to easily pool stacks). During normal rotation, it takes you about 90 seconds to reach 10 stacks. You should use Tigereye Brew as many times as possible during the fight, whenever you need the extra burst.
- Touch of Death, which is a single attack ability that instantly kills the target if it has equal or less health than you. We list this as a cooldown since it is not part of your rotation, likely only being usable once during a boss fight. For the purpose of this spell, actual health is considered (not percentage health, and certainly not maximum health). We imagine that in a raid environment, it will be very hard to land this spell in the time the boss spends between 300,000 health and 0 health. It costs 3 Chi, but there is a glyph that removes the cost entirely.
- Chi Brew (only if talented), which regenerates all of your Chi, on a 1 minute and 30 second cooldown. It should be used on cooldown, when you have 0 or 1 Chi.
Leveling Up and Surviving
The Windwalker specialisation will most likely be the specialisation of choice for leveling up in Mists of Pandaria. As you level up, you will take a lot of damage from the various NPCs you are facing, and this will put you in danger since you do not have the benefit of a healer, as you do in raids.
Keeping Zen Sphere active and using Expel Harm if you are ever in need of additional healing should be enough to keep you alive through most of the damage you take. However, here are a few other useful abilities you can use to help you survive:
- Fortifying Brew, which increases your maximum health by 20% and reduces all damage taken by 20%, for 20 seconds.
- Touch of Karma, which is a debuff placed on the target, lasting 10 seconds. During this time, all damage taken by you will be dealt to the target instead (up to a maximum of your total health).
- Healing Sphere, which allows you to place up to 3 healing spheres on the ground. Each sphere costs 60 energy to cast, but has a duration of 2 minutes. Walking over the sphere will heal you for a reasonable amount. You can set up 3 spheres prior to engaging a powerful elite mob, wait for your energy to replenish, engage the mob and then walk over the spheres during the fight to restore some health.
- Grapple Weapon, which disarms your target for 10 seconds, greatly reducing its damage.
The rotation seems very simple at the moment (perhaps too simple), and we imagine that it will become more complex by the time Mists of Pandaria goes live.
For example, Blackout Kick, which seems like it is meant to be our go-to Chi-dumping spell, is currently less efficient to cast than Tiger Palm or Zen Sphere. This makes managing the self-buff applied by Tiger Palm extremely easy, since we will probably be spamming this ability.
We also have to wonder about the ultimate goal of Zen Sphere. Currently, it deals far more damage and it is far more efficient to cast than its tier 2 talent counterparts ( Chi Wave and Chi Burst), making it the obvious choice. This type of clear-cut decision is exactly what Blizzard were trying to eliminate with the new talent system, so we imagine that these abilities will be re-balanced.
Moreover, it is, as of yet, very difficult to tell whether dual-wielding or using a 2-handed weapon is better. Furthermore, any kind of stat priority would be very premature at this stage (although both Hit and Expertise will likely need to be capped).
As level 90 becomes available, and we can test classes in Mists of Pandaria's raid encounters, more definitive information will surely surface.
Until then, we hope you enjoyed this first look at playing a Windwalker Monk, and we'd love to hear what you think about the specialisation or about our overview of it!