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Brewmaster Monk Tank Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities (WoD 6.2.4)

Last updated on Jun 22, 2015 at 13:00 by Vlad 51 comments

Table of Contents

General Information

On this page, we list your Brewmaster Monk core abilities and how they should be used together (rotation) in World of Warcraft WoD 6.2.4. 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 Misume, one of the best Brewmaster Monks in the world, who raids in Midwinter and streams on Twitch. You can also follow him on Twitter.

1. Single Target Rotation

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 on cooldown (it generates 2 Chi, so only use when you have 2 or fewer Chi).
    2. Use Expel Harm Icon Expel Harm (note that when you are below 35% health, or below 50% health with the Tier 18 2-Piece Set Bonus, Expel Harm has no cooldown).
      • Only use it 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. It should only be used when you have around 80 Energy, to prevent capping it.
    4. Use Tiger Palm Icon Tiger Palm to fill any spare global cooldowns. The ability has no resource cost, and it has the benefit of applying a damage-increasing (rather, armor-ignoring) self-buff called Tiger Power Icon Tiger Power. Make sure to maintain 100% uptime on this buff.
  • Chi finishers (by order of priority)
    1. Use Guard Icon Guard (this is explained in detail later on, as part of your active mitigation.
    2. Use Blackout Kick Icon Blackout Kick, to maintain high uptime on Shuffle Icon Shuffle, the self-buff that it applies.

Note that if you have the Tier 18 4-Piece Set Bonus, Expel Harm Icon Expel Harm becomes a top priority, as each use reduces the cooldown of Guard Icon Guard.

This priority is 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

In all cases, you should keep high uptime on 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. 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.

If you have taken Chi Explosion Icon Chi Explosion as your tier 7 talent, then use this with 2 Chi in order to build Shuffle, and once you have enough duration on Shuffle (or you do not need it), use Chi Explosion with 4 Chi.

Breath of Fire Icon Breath of Fire should only be used against adds that you wish to prevent from casting spells, but it should not otherwise be part of your rotation.

3. Active Damage Mitigation

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), or while Serenity Icon Serenity is active, if you have taken this talent.
  • 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. It is usually a good idea to use Elusive Brew when Guard Icon Guard is not available.
  • Guard Icon Guard should be used as many times as possible during the encounter. Use this as a major cooldown, whenever your health drops unexpectedly or you know a very dangerous attack is coming. You should always make sure that at least one charge of Guard is on cooldown at all times.
  • Blackout Kick Icon Blackout Kick (or Chi Explosion Icon Chi Explosion, if you have taken this talent) 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), and especially while Elusive Brew Icon Elusive Brew is active.

4. Cooldown Usage

In addition to the above-mentioned active defensive cooldowns, you also have two abilities with a long 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.
  • Zen Meditation Icon Zen Meditation allows you to greatly mitigate the damage abilities with a cast time (since the cast time allows you to time Zen Meditation perfectly). Alternatively, it can reduce 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

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

You are always going to be in Stance of the Sturdy Ox Icon Stance of the Sturdy Ox when you are using the Brewmaster specialisation. While its benefits are mostly passive, and while it is impossible for you to exit this stance, we still present it to you in more detail below.

7. Statue

You should always have your Black Ox Statue active (Summon Black Ox Statue Icon Summon Black Ox Statue). This makes picking up adds easier. We present this in more detail below.

8. Optional Read: Mastering Your Brewmaster Monk

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. Resolve

Resolve Icon Resolve is a passive ability which you receive for choosing the Brewmaster specialisation. Essentially, it increases your self-healing and your own absorption effects based on the amount of unmitigated damage you have taken in the last 10 seconds, including contributions from avoided melee attacks. Its value fluctuates with your damage intake during an encounter, and decays away over about 10 seconds if you stop taking damage. It has a built-in diminishing returns effect which limits the increase to 240% of the base healing or absorption value. In other words, at maximum Resolve your heals do 340% the amount they would do with zero Resolve.

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:

  • Increases armor by 125%.
  • Increases your Stamina by 25%.
  • Reduces magic damage taken by 15%.
  • Grants you the Stagger Icon Stagger mechanic (explained below).
  • Offers various improvements to some of your abilities.
    • Expel Harm Icon Expel Harm has no cooldown when you are below 35% health.
    • Fortifying Brew Icon Fortifying Brew provides you with a 20% increase in Stagger.
    • Blackout Kick Icon Blackout Kick increases your parry chance and Stagger amount by 10% for 6 seconds.

8.4. Black Ox Statue

Your Black Ox Statue lasts for 15 minutes, and it pulses threat to all enemies within 30 yards for the duration.

The statue interacts 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, does its damage to you instantly, in the moment of the attack.
  • An over-time portion, which does its damage 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) and on your Fortifying Brew Icon Fortifying Brew.

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 10%. 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 even have it exceed 2 minutes).

Maintaining good Shuffle uptime is most important while Elusive Brew Icon Elusive Brew is active, but it is otherwise not a high priority.

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 a lot of Chi. Because of this, you will have to strike a balance between the two. Deciding when to use which ability depends on many factors.

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), or while Serenity Icon Serenity is active, if you have taken this talent. The amount you purify will depend on the encounter, but purifying Moderate stagger and above is a good place to start.

The Shuffle Icon Shuffle buff applied by Blackout Kick is not a priority, and you should mostly use Blackout Kick to apply this buff only while Elusive Brew Icon Elusive Brew is active.

8.5.4. Elusive Brew

Elusive Brew Icon Elusive Brew is an ability that increases your chance to dodge by 45%. 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 and Tiger Power

Tiger Palm Icon Tiger Palm has two 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 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 and Keg Smash

Dizzying Haze Icon Dizzying Haze allows you to throw a keg at a targeted location, slowing the movement speed of all enemies within 8 yards by 50% for 15 seconds. It also generates a high amount of threat, but it does no damage. It has no cooldown or cost.

The same slow effect is applied by Keg Smash Icon Keg Smash, except that Keg Smash also damages targets. Keg Smash costs 40 Energy, generates 2 Chi, and has an 8-second cooldown.

8.6. Detailed Cooldown Usage

8.6.1. Guard

Guard Icon Guard is a defensive ability with 2 charges and a 30-second recharge time. It costs Chi. Guard 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%.

While delaying it too much is not recommended, it is perfectly acceptable (and recommended) to time it with particularly problematic moments in the fight.

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. 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.

8.6.3. 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 the damage of abilities with a cast time, since the cast time makes it very easy to time Zen Meditation perfectly. It can also be used to mitigate a powerful melee attack or other boss mechanic.

8.6.4. 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 an autoattack multistrike. 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. If the spheres expire without being consumed, they will do their healing to you automatically, provided that you are in range of them.

If you can predict when you will take higher than usual damage, you can save up some spheres around you and use them all when you need the extra healing.

8.6.5. Touch of Death

Touch of Death Icon Touch of Death is only usable against enemies who have equal or less current health than you, or who are below 10% health. This latter part makes it usable against raid bosses. The ability does a very large amount of damage, and you should do your best to use it whenever possible.

8.6.6. Tier 2 Talents

Zen Sphere Icon Zen Sphere should be used on cooldown, and used alternatively between two targets. 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.

8.6.7. 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 15-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).

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.

8.6.8. 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 an 18-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.

8.6.9. 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.

8.6.10. Tier 7 Talents

Serenity Icon Serenity, the recommended option in this tier, should be used at the start of the fight, as well as later on, whenever you want to boost your survivability. While Serenity is active, you can quickly set up your Guard Icon Guard, which is particularly useful at the start of the fight. During Serenity, you should spam Purifying Brew Icon Purifying Brew.

If you have taken Chi Explosion Icon Chi Explosion, you should use it with 3 Chi when you are actively tanking a single target, and with 4 Chi when you are tanking multiple targets. If you are not actively tanking, you should use it with 2 Chi. It is interesting to note that if you have Chi Brew Icon Chi Brew, you can use this to give you the necessary Chi to use Chi Explosion to pull targets from far away.

8.7. Roll

8.7.1. 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.

8.7.2. Transcendence

Transcendence Icon Transcendence allows you to place a copy of yourself behind for up to 15 minutes. If you then use Transcendence: Transfer Icon Transcendence: Transfer, you will be instantly moved back to the location of your copy. This can be useful in a wide range of situations, typically those where you know you will have to return to a certain location after moving away from it.

9. ChangeLog

  • 22 Jun. 2015: Patch 6.2 update.
    • Modified the guide to account for the fact that Shuffle no longer grants Stagger.
    • Added mentions of ideal usage of the Tier 18 Set Bonuses.
  • 08 May 2015: Made tweaks and improvements to the single and multiple target rotation sections, as well as to the Gift of the Ox, Zen Sphere, Serenity, and Chi Explosion sections.
  • 02 Mar. 2015: Added a small section on the usefulness of Transcendence Icon Transcendence.
  • 08 Dec. 2014: Added a mention of when to use Purifying Brew Icon Purifying Brew with the Serenity Icon Serenity talent. Also updated the description of Stance of the Sturdy Ox Icon Stance of the Sturdy Ox.
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