Brewmaster Monk Tank Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities — Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.1
On this page, you will learn how to optimize the rotation of your Brewmaster Monk, depending on the type of damage you will be tanking. We also have advanced sections about cooldowns, procs, etc. in order to maximize your survivability and DPS. All our content is updated for World of Warcraft — Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.1.
1. Rotation for Brewmaster Monk
The rotation for Brewmaster Monks is based on a priority system. It does not account for your active mitigation abilities (which we discuss in depth in a dedicated section) or your survival cooldowns (also discussed separately).
- Cast Keg Smash on cooldown.
- Cast Blackout Strike on cooldown.
- Cast Breath of Fire on cooldown, and when activated by the Spitfire talent.
- If talented, cast Rushing Jade Wind before it falls off.
- Cast Tiger Palm if there is nothing else to do and you will still have enough Energy for your next Keg Smash.
- If talented, cast Chi Wave or Chi Burst on cooldown.
It is absolutely imperative that you save energy to cast Keg Smash on cooldown, as this is a large source of damage and the main source of Brew generation.
If you have taken Blackout Combo as your tier 7 talent, then you should check this section, since the ordering of abilities changes from a priority system to an almost set rotation to provide maximum benefit from the talent.
2. Stagger and Active Mitigation
Brewmaster Monks rely on a specific ability (Stagger) to smooth out the damage they take throughout fights. This is a somewhat complex ability, and we will explain in depth in the sections that follow.
In addition to dodging and parrying attacks, Brewmaster Monks have an additional means of mitigating the damage that they take, called Stagger. This is a key element in your survivability as a tank, so it is important to understand it correctly.
Stagger causes Physical and magic attacks attacks made 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 amount of Physical damage staggered is based on your Agility, while only 35% of that amount applies to magic attacks. That said, the division between the portions of damage depends on other factors, namely whether or not you have the High Tolerance tier 7 talent (which increases the over-time portion) and whether or not you have Ironskin Brew or Fortifying Brew active.
As can be easily noticed, Stagger does not provide any form of damage reduction, mitigation, or avoidance. This is where Purifying Brew comes into play. Purifying Brew has 3 charges and a 14-second recharge time, and using it instantly removes 40% of the Staggered damage (the damage you are due to take over the next 10 seconds).
A simple example, assuming a Stagger amount of 40%, is as follows:
- An attack of 500,000 damage is performed against you.
- 300,000 damage is dealt to you instantly.
- A DoT is applied to you, which deals 200,000 damage over 10 seconds.
- You cast Purifying Brew after 2 seconds, removing 40% of the DoT's remaining damage.
- You have sustained 300,000 in instant damage, and 136,000 in Staggered damage. The remaining 64,000 damage has been removed by Purifying Brew.
The other ability that has a close interaction with Stagger and Purifying Brew is Ironskin Brew. This ability also has 3 charges and the same recharge time as Purifying Brew, and in fact the two abilities share charges. Ironskin Brew grants you a 7-second buff that increases the amount of damage you Stagger for 7 seconds. Successive applications of Ironskin Brew (while the buff is active) will extend its duration up to 21 seconds. Note that Ironskin Brew has no impact on the existing Stagger damage, and only affects damage you take while the buff is active.
Note that the remaining recharge times of your Purifying Brew and Ironskin Brew (and the remaining cooldown of Fortifying Brew) are reduced by 1 second each time you use Tiger Palm and by 4 seconds each time you use Keg Smash.
2.2. Purifying Brew Versus Ironskin Brew
The hardest part of playing a Brewmaster Monk is to find the balance between Purifying Brew and Ironskin Brew. Both of these abilities have extremely valuable effects, but at the same time, because they share charges, you cannot use them liberally.
The decision on which brew to use when is not too complicated. Simply keep 100% uptime on Ironskin Brew over all else. Then, keeping in mind that the maximum duration is 21 seconds, you can use excess charges on Purifying Brew to reduce your stagger damage. You will want to purify high yellow and red staggers, but keep in mind that a red stagger is not a death sentence. Healers are much more capable of dealing with the trickle of stagger damage than the large hits you will be taking if your Ironskin drops.
You must also make sure to neither cap on Brew charges, or use Ironskin when the added duration would go over the 21 second maximum.
3. Cooldown Usage for Brewmaster Monk
As a Brewmaster Monk, you have two defensive abilities with long cooldowns.
- 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 used in this way.
- 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 or boss ability that hits you while channeling it.
Additionally, your talents have the potential to provide you with many different abilities with defensive qualities. We discuss this, as well as the proper timing and usage of your default cooldowns in a subsequent section.
4. Taunting for Brewmaster Monk
Provoke is your single target taunt. When taunting your Black Ox Statue (if you have taken the Summon Black Ox Statue talent), 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 the positioning of a boss.
It is also worth noting that the Ox spawned by Invoke Niuzao, the Black Ox 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.
5. 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 require a very deep understanding if you wish to take full advantage of your character.
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.
- 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 capacity causes any additional Energy you would generate to be wasted.
5.2. Mastery: Elusive Brawler
Your Mastery also passively increases your attack power. The amount of dodge chance increase and the amount of attack power increase depend on how much Mastery you have.
5.3. Gift of the Ox
Thanks to Gift of the Ox, a passive ability, you have a chance to summon a healing sphere each time you receive damage. These healing spheres persist on the ground around you, and moving over them causes them to be consumed, healing you. 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.
The spheres can sometimes be hard to spot, and that is where Expel Harm becomes really useful. Expel Harm costs 15 Energy, draws in all your Healing Spheres and damages the nearest enemy for 10% of the amount that the spheres heal you for.
Your healing spheres are precious, and you should try to save up at least 3 of them before you either pick them up or use Expel Harm. With this said, you should only use the spheres when you are dropping low on health or need to get topped off before you are struck by a special attack.
5.4. Detailed Cooldown Usage
5.4.1. Fortifying Brew
Fortifying Brew increases your current and maximum health by 20%, reduces all damage taken by 20%, and modifies your base Stagger amount by 10%, for 15 seconds. It has a 7-minute cooldown (but the remaining cooldown is reduced by 1 and 4 seconds when you use Tiger Palm and Keg Smash, respectively).
Fortifying Brew is your main defensive cooldown, and it is best used pre-emptively, such as before taking a large amount of damage from a boss ability. You can also use it reactively, to prolong your survival, since it increases your health by 20%. One thing to note about it is that, because of the Stagger increase it offers, it is imperative to use Purifying Brew to take full advantage of it. In fact, in combination with Ironskin Brew, you will take very little immediate physical damage, with the vast majority moved into stagger.
5.4.2. Zen Meditation
Zen Meditation is a very powerful defensive cooldown. It reduces damage taken by 60% 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.
5.4.3. Tier 1 Talents
Chi Burst is best used when there are a lot of mobs stacked up. You should always try to aim the projectile towards your raid, since it heals all allies in its path.
5.4.4. Tier 3 Talents
If you chose Black Ox Brew, you should always make sure to use up all your Brew charges before using it. A good way of doing this is to use 2 Ironskin Brew charges followed up by a Purifying Brew, if you are actively tanking, or just 3 Ironskin Brews to prepare for incoming damage. Remember that Black Ox Brew also refills all your Energy, and since Ironskin Brew and Purifying Brew are off the global cooldown, this leaves you with room for a Keg Smash or Tiger Palm at the same time.
5.4.5. Tier 4 Talents
Ring of Peace can be useful to interrupt several mobs at once (since the knockback interrupts casts), but you should be careful never to use the ability on raid members standing in the melee group, since this can cause adds to be knocked out of melee range. It can also be useful to protect ranged and healers from enemies that target them.
Summon Black Ox Statue is a one of a kind ability that you should strive to play with. Having all of the mobs running to the same place makes everything so much easier when trying to pick them up. Remember you can use Provoke on your Black Ox Statue to taunt all the mobs near the statue. Remember that the statue is killable, so you should try to summon another one once you have picked up the adds.
5.4.6. Tier 5 Talents
Healing Elixir should be used when you are behind on health, or just prior to a large hit to give a buffer of health. It is good practice to try and always have a charge cooling down, though there is some utility in having two uses banked for an exceptionally large heal.
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.
5.4.7. Tier 6 Talents
Rushing Jade Wind should be used to keep the buff active. Since it does not need to be channeled, you can simply continue casting your other abilities as soon as you cast it.
Invoke Niuzao, the Black Ox 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 Niuzao's taunt.
5.4.8. Tier 7 Talents
High Tolerance is the best option for defensive play, in almost any situation. This is due to the 8% additional Stagger effectiveness that High Tolerance provides. Remember that you also gain up to 15% Haste depending on your current amount of Stagger, which means that you can purify a little more.
Guard is useful only in specific scenarios, such as large individual hits. You will often be better off using High Tolerance.
Blackout Combo empowers your next ability, and therefore changes your rotation somewhat. It is also different from both Guard and High Tolerance in that it is still strong while you are not taking any damage.
So what should you use your Blackout Strikes in combination with? You should almost always be using your Blackout Combos with Tiger Palm. To accomplish this, you will modify the conventional priority list to a simple rotation that consists of:
The filler spells can consist of Breath of Fire and Rushing Jade Wind as well as any other talents you have taken (e.g. Chi Wave). If all of these are on cooldown, do not use anything and wait for Blackout Strike. You should avoid using Blackout Combo on your brews, and therefore you should make sure to use your brews outside of the Blackout Strike → Tiger Palm window.
However, Blackout Combo has 3 other spells it modifies: Keg Smash comboed gives additional cooldown reduction on Brews, and the Breath of Fire combo reduces its cooldown by 2 seconds. These are not useful.
In rare situations, using Blackout Combo on Ironskin Brew can benefit you. Using it 'pauses' your Stagger for 3 seconds, causing it to deal no damage to you, but not reduce the total stagger value and still build up if you take more damage. Normally using this would be harmful: you take slightly less damage for 3 seconds in exchange for a significantly larger stagger DoT in the future while still taking boss damage causing you to have to Purify more- but there are situations where this is fine.
If you know enemies are going to deal a very large amount of damage in a short time, and then deal very low damage afterwards a tagger pause can provide significant damage smoothing- you will take the burst of damage and no ticks, and high ticks after while the enemy is dealing less damage.
Please keep in mind that most of the time you pause stagger you are hurting your survivability. If it is very useful on any raid bosses, it will be mentioned in their specific writeup. During Legion it was useful on only 3 raid bosses in the entire expansion (one being Mythic only).
5.5. Roll and Transcendence
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
- It has a maximum of 2 charges, and each charge has a 20-second recharge time.
- The 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.
- Your movement speed while rolling is greater than while running, so rolling off a cliff will push you further than if you were just running and jumping.
Transcendence allows you to place a copy of yourself behind for up to 15 minutes. If you then use 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.
Transcendence can also be used to reset a fight. If you place it outside the room before you engage the boss, you can taunt the boss and use Transcendence: Transfer, and he will follow you outside and reset. This can save your raid a lot of setup time so try to do it if Transcendence is not worth using in the fight.
- 10 Dec. 2018: This page has been reviewed for Patch 8.1 and no changes are necessary.
- 19 Sep. 2018: Minor fixes and improved defensive section.
- 13 Aug. 2018: Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
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