Brewmaster Monk Tank Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities — Shadowlands 9.2.5
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 — Shadowlands 9.2.5.
Rotation for Brewmaster Monk
Welcome to the Rotation section of our Brewmaster Monk guide. If you came here without first checking over the Spell Summary, it is recommended that you do so. Understanding what your spells and abilities do will make it easier to consider where they stand in the topics discussed here.
If you are not interested in learning the smaller details of how to play as a Brewmaster, then the Easy Mode version of this guide may be more along the lines of what you are looking for. It will briefly summarize the core of what you need to do as a Brewmaster, but it is still highly recommended that you read the other sections as well to gain a full understanding of how to maximize your character's potential.
In addition to your rotation in general content, there are also separate sections of this guide devoted to how your playstyle may change in Mythic+ and Torghast, Tower of the Damned. Please take a look at them if you would like to learn more about how to play there.
The rotation for Brewmaster Monks is based on a priority system. That is, you are not using abilities in a strict order so much as you are casting the ability that is highest on the list when it is available for use. However, we will still be using the term "rotation" to describe this behavior throughout the remainder of this guide.
To begin, please select the options on the following table that represent your chosen Covenant, relevant Talents, and Legendary Power. Options not shown here will not alter the rotation enough to be mentioned:
|Covenant||Level 15 Talent||Level 45 Talent||Legendary Power|
|Kyrian||Eye of the Tiger||Special Delivery||Charred Passions|
|Necrolord||Chi Wave||Rushing Jade Wind||Stormstout's Last Keg|
|Night Fae||Chi Burst||Exploding Keg||No Legendary|
Single-Target Rotation for a Brewmaster Monk
- Cast Touch of Death on an enemy if it can be used.
- Cast Invoke Niuzao, the Black Ox.
- Cast Keg Smash.
- Cast Blackout Kick.
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 both cooldown reduction for your Brew-based abilities and Shuffle to empower your Stagger.
Multi-Target Rotation for a Brewmaster Monk
Brewmaster is a somewhat unique specialization in that your rotation will mostly stay the same whether you are in single-target or multi-target combat.
- Cast Touch of Death on an enemy if it can be used.
- Cast Invoke Niuzao, the Black Ox.
- Cast Keg Smash.
- Cast Blackout Kick.
- Cast Spinning Crane Kick if you do not need more cooldown reduction on your Brews and will have enough Energy available by the time Keg Smash is available. Use Tiger Palm instead if more Brew cooldown reduction is desired.
Although Spinning Crane Kick deals enough damage to normally justify being a high-priority ability, it is too expensive on Energy to use when there are plenty of other abilities that are free.
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 it 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 made against you to have their damage split into two portions:
- An instant portion, will immediately deal its damage to you in the moment of the attack.
- A Staggered 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. While you are Staggering damage, you will have one of three debuffs to represent how intense the DoT is: Light Stagger, Moderate Stagger, and Heavy Stagger. If you are in Heavy Stagger, then that means you are taking at least 60% of your Maximum Health as damage over those 10 seconds. However, you are likely to regularly exceed 100-200% of that amount in some forms of content!
Beyond that, the division between the instant and Staggered portions of damage your damage taken depends on other factors, namely whether or not you have the High Tolerance level 50 talent — which increases the Staggered portion — and whether or not you have Shuffle or Fortifying Brew active.
As you might have noticed, Stagger does not by itself provide any form of damage reduction, mitigation, or avoidance. This is where Purifying Brew comes into play. Purifying Brew has 2 charges with a 20-second recharge time, and using it instantly removes 50% 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 1,000 Physical damage is performed against you.
- 600 damage is dealt to you instantly.
- A DoT is applied to you, which deals 400 damage over 10 seconds.
- You cast Purifying Brew after 2 seconds, removing 50% of the DoT's 320 remaining damage.
- After 10 seconds, you have sustained 600 instant damage, and 240 in Staggered damage. The remaining 160 damage has been removed by Purifying Brew.
The other ability that has a close interaction with Stagger and Purifying Brew is a passive called Shuffle. This buff increases the amount of damage you Stagger, and you are given 5 and 3 seconds of it when you Keg Smash or Blackout Kick, respectively. Shuffle can be extended until it reaches 15 seconds. Note, however, that Shuffle has no impact on "old" damage you have already Staggered, instead affecting new damage you take while the buff is active.
Finally, there is one more ability that indirectly works with your Stagger: Celestial Brew. Although the absorb it provides for only 8 seconds may seem small at first, it can be increased to up to three times its original size! This is caused by the buff Purified Chi, which you will gain stacks of from every use of Purifying Brew: One stack gained from Purifying while at Light Stagger, two stacks from Purifying in Moderate Stagger, and three from Heavy Stagger. Each stack increases the size of your next Celestial Brew shield by 20% per stack, going up to +200% at the stack cap of 10.
It is important to remember that the recharge time of Purifying Brew — along with the remaining cooldowns of Celestial Brew and Fortifying Brew — are reduced by 1 second each time you use Tiger Palm and by 3 seconds each time you use Keg Smash.
Juggling Shuffle, Purifying Brew, and Celestial Brew
The hardest part of playing a Brewmaster Monk is remembering to maintain 100% uptime on Shuffle while trying to find the best time to make use of Purifying Brew and Celestial Brew. The latter two abilities have extremely valuable effects but they seem to have long periods between uses. As such, you have to find an appropriate time to use them without letting the abilities sit off-cooldown and waste the cooldown reduction effects your rotation is naturally providing.
Fortunately, Shuffle is not too hard to keep up, nor is the decision on which Brew to use when is not too complicated. So long as you are following the Single-Target or Multi-Target priorities above, you should have more Shuffle time than you are using. As for your use of Purifying Brew, there is a fairly simple set of rules to follow:
- Do not have both charges of Purifying Brew off-cooldown.
- Keep one charge available for an emergency.
- Use a charge as the second charge is about to come off cooldown.
You may notice that this set of rules more or less involves you pretending that the ability has only one charge instead of two. This is intentional, due to how frequently Purifying Brew will be available during your standard rotation. What this also means is that there may be times where you end up having to purify in only Light Stagger or Moderate Stagger rather than heavy, and that is okay so long as you still have that second charge ready for a sudden spike of damage.
By having access to an abundance of Purifying Brew usage, you will also have built up plenty of stacks of Purified Chi to give you larger Celestial Brew absorbs. As a result, this ability is also best used on cooldown. It will usually be better to create more shields over time rather than possibly wasting both Purified Chi stacks and cooldown reduction. There is one small thing to consider, however. You may not want to Purify any Staggered damage if you will not take enough to eat away at the entire absorb. Since Celestial Brew's shield only lasts for 8 seconds, any amount of absorb afterward is effectively wasted. Since this absorb can soak up any damage — including Stagger — you can think of it as a stronger form of Purifying Brew.
Covenant Ability Usage and Unity
There are potentially four different Covenant abilities that need to be considered in the rotation priority, and each provide very different effects. While advanced tips related to each will be found in their respective sections, it is important to remember that each of them will have a near-highest priority use in the rotation. However, upon obtaining the Legendary Power Unity, you will unlock access to the Covenant-exclusive Legendary Powers at the same time as your other Legendary. These effects can slightly change how you choose to make use of the abilities.
Weapons of Order
Cooldown Usage for Brewmaster Monk
As a Brewmaster, you have two baseline defensive abilities with long cooldowns. You also have two offensive cooldowns that also provide some defensive effects as a bonus. Compared to the reactive nature of Purifying any Stagger you have built up with the help of Shuffle, these cooldowns are best used before you have taken damage in the first place.
- 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 deal in particular, 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.
- Invoke Niuzao, the Black Ox while more useful for damage, does take on a portion of the damage you are Staggering during the time he is present.
- Touch of Death is to be used when an enemy's Health is low enough to allow it. While the damage it deals will also remove a portion of your Stagger, you are usually using it against something that is nearly dead and cannot harm you anymore. This cooldown is therefore more useful offensively, but you may rarely be able to plan around its defensive benefit as well.
In addition, your talents have the potential to provide you with some additional abilities with defensive qualities. We discuss this, as well as the proper timing and usage of your default cooldowns in a subsequent section.
Taunting for Brewmaster Monk
Provoke is your single-target taunt. If you have taken the Summon Black Ox Statue Talent at Level 35, you can also Provoke your statue to force all enemies within 8 yards of it 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 you want changing the positioning of an enemy. However, it can also be dangerous when you are trying to keep an enemy from attacking you but need to maintain your Threat against it.
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. Some of these explanations can also be found in our Spell Summary, linked below.
Gift of the Ox
Although Gift of the Ox claims to offer a chance to summon a healing sphere when taking damage, it actually follows a consistent set of rules. One of these spheres will spawn for every 100% of your maximum Health you have taken as damage. These healing spheres will persist on the ground until you either walk over them or they time out after 30 seconds and automatically provide you with their healing. There can only be up to 5 active spheres at a time. Any further spawns beyond that will cause the least-recent sphere to heal you and be consumed.
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.
Since they can sometimes be hard to spot, they can also be gathered using your Expel Harm ability. Expel Harm costs 15 Energy and will immediately heal you for the amount of all of your existing spheres, along with dealing damage to an enemy equal to 10% of the amount healed.
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 a dangerous hit occurs.
Tiger Palm Versus Spinning Crane Kick
At first, choosing between Tiger Palm and Spinning Crane Kick seems like a decision with an obvious answer: use Tiger Palm against one target and switch to Spinning Crane Kick if there are two or more. However, the actual choice is not so simple. Spinning Crane Kick also generates additional Shuffle time with every target hit and attracts your Gift of the Ox spheres to you while Tiger Palm reduces the cooldown of your Brew abilities by 1 second.
Even though it is a channeled ability, Spinning Crane Kick deals damage longer than a Brewmaster Monk's global cooldown. In fact, if you use another ability as soon as you can, Spinning Crane Kick will finish its damage even though you have "stopped" channeling to cast something else. In addition, if using Spinning Crane Kick twice in a row, the two casts' channel times will combine to prevent any potential damage being wasted.
Spinning Crane Kick is not without its downsides, however. While it may seem convenient for your Spinning Crane Kick to draw in Gift of the Ox orbs, this also means that you are not able to save them up for a large heal with Expel Harm in an emergency. You also already should have maximum uptime on Shuffle by using both Keg Smash and Blackout Kick on cooldown. This means that all of the supposed defensive benefits of Spinning Crane Kick do not really help you out as a Brewmaster.
Knowing all of this, your actual choice between the two abilities becomes a little more complicated. If you do not need extra cooldown reduction on your Brews and do not need to use a stronger Expel Harm, then Spinning Crane Kick will provide you with more damage. But, if you use it, remember that though the channel is longer than your global cooldown other abilities can be used without the channel being broken early! Using Spinning Crane Kick multiple times in a row will also combine the channel durations to avoid any of the damage being "wasted". On the other hand, if you need more defensive power and are not in danger of losing threat on enemies in a group, then Tiger Palm makes more sense to use even in AoE. Do not forget that Tiger Palm still needs to be used sometimes if you have chosen Eye of the Tiger as your Level 15 Talent!
Charred Passions and Spinning Crane Kick
If you have chosen to make use of the Legendary Power Charred Passions, the decision between Tiger Palm and Spinning Crane Kick actually becomes much more simple. While the Charred Passions buff is present after using Breath of Fire, your use of Tiger Palm should be replaced with Spinning Crane Kick to maximize its bonus damage, even in single-target. This will have a couple of effects to be aware of. First, you will not have as many charges of Purifying Brew or Celestial Brew available over time. You also will likely not be able to maintain full uptime on the debuff of Eye of the Tiger. As a result, you may have to use the Chi Wave talent in single-target encounters.
Detailed Cooldown Usage
Fortifying Brew increases your current and maximum health by 20%, reduces all damage taken by 20%, and increases your base Stagger amount by 10%, for 15 seconds. It has a 6-minute cooldown, but it is reduced by 1 and 3 seconds when you use Tiger Palm and Keg Smash, respectively.
Fortifying Brew is your main defensive cooldown, and it is best used preemptively, 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, taking full advantage of its defensive value also will also involves your usage of Purifying Brew.
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.
Invoke Niuzao, the Black Ox
Invoke Niuzao, the Black Ox is a fairly unique cooldown, providing both defensive and offensive benefits while active. When present, Niuzao will take on 25% of the damage in your Stagger pool, having it harm him instead. In addition, 25% of your Staggered damage you have removed with Purifying Brew in the last 6 seconds will be used to empower his next Stomp attack. This also includes the 6 seconds before you have even summoned him!
Although it may not seem like it, playing around Niuzao's empowered Stomp damage from your recent casts of Purifying Brew can result in the single biggest swings of damage among Brewmasters. It is not uncommon for some players to intentionally take more damage or to ensure they are being attacked by a boss while the cooldown is active to receive more Stagger that can be purified. If you are feeling confident, give it a try, but remember that a dead player will not deal any damage nor should you hold the cooldown when it is ready for very long. It is, after all, also a defensive cooldown.
Level 15 Talents
If you chose Eye of the Tiger, you should strive to maintain 100% uptime on the buff it provides, which requires you to use Tiger Palm at least once every 8 seconds. Provided you are following the rotation appropriately, this should happen automatically.
Chi Burst is best used when there are a lot of mobs stacked up. You should always try to aim the projectile toward your allies as well, if possible, since it will also heal them as it damages your enemies.
Chi Wave should be used on cooldown as often as possible, though it is less important than most of your other abilities. So long as you are targeting an enemy at the time of casting, its first bounce will be dealing damage.
Level 30 Talents
If you have chosen Black Ox Brew, you should always make sure to have consumed both of your Purifying Brew charges and that Celestial Brew is on cooldown before using it. Remember that you will also need to use another Purifying Brew charge afterward to avoid wasting any cooldown reduction and will likely put up a Celestial Brew shield that does not have many stacks of Purified Chi improving it. Since Black Ox Brew also refills all your Energy, you may also wish to cast Keg Smash or Tiger Palm at the same time. If your priority does not allow for this, however, then it is okay to waste a little bit of Energy regeneration.
Finally, it must be stressed that Black Ox Brew needs to be used on cooldown in order for it to be more useful in overall Brew consumption than the competing talent of Light Brewing. However, Black Ox Brew and your other Brews are not on the global cooldown, which makes setting up your usage of it easier.
Level 35 Talents
Ring of Peace is fairly unique among enemy-moving abilities, allowing you to deny access to an area they may be trying to reach or to use it as an emergency interrupt by knocking the target away. If placed in a corner, an enemy may be forced to bounce against the wall repeatedly. Be warned, however, that some enemies and all raid bosses are immune to its effects. Otherwise, you can find plenty of creative uses for this talent.
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 get their attention. Do not forget that you can also use Provoke on your Black Ox Statue to taunt all the mobs near it. However, remember that the statue is killable and only has half of your max Health, so you should be quick to summon another one if it has been attacked recently. This WeakAura can help you keep track of your statue's Health.
Level 40 Talents
Healing Elixir should be used when you are in need of healing in a hurry, such as just before a large hit. It is good practice to try and always have one of its charges on cooldown, though there is some utility in having two uses banked for an exceptionally large heal. In addition, while the heal itself cannot crit, it can still trigger Celestial Fortune.
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. A further breakdown of its damage reduction can be found in the Spell Summary.
Level 45 Talents
Rushing Jade Wind's buff should be maintained at all times. Since it does not need to be channeled, you can simply continue using your other abilities as soon as you cast it.
Exploding Keg is both an incredibly strong and surprisingly weak effect. As it does not actually cause enemy attacks to miss — instead reducing their damage by 99% — you can still have debuffs applied to you that only require an attack to not miss like the Necrotic affix in Mythic+. At the same time, there could always be a Physical ability used by a boss or tough enemy that this talent might reduce the damage of as well. You should consider this talent very situational as its specific uses get discovered over time.
Level 50 Talents
High Tolerance is the best option for both defensive and offensive play, in almost any situation. This is due to the 5% additional Stagger effectiveness that High Tolerance provides. Remember that you also gain up to 15% Haste depending on your current amount of Stagger, but it is not an even breakdown of 5/10/15%. Rather, you will start with a bonus of 8% Haste while in Light Stagger — that is to say, any Stagger at all! Within Moderate Stagger, this bonus jumps to 12% Haste before finally reaching 15% Haste within Heavy Stagger.
Celestial Flames is rarely useful, given that High Tolerance provides a noticeably larger increase to both survivability and damage in most scenarios. The main time Celestial Flames can be valuable will involve fights that have low amounts of Physical damage and a large amount of Magic damage or DoT effects that can be effectively reduced with an extra 5% damage reduction on Breath of Fire.
Blackout Combo empowers your next ability, and therefore changes your rotation somewhat. However, due to its substantial nerfs over time, it has become a talent that cannot be recommended or utilized fully in its proper form without causing major rotational issues. If you are feeling experimental, then all that needs to be known is that every use of Blackout Kick should be followed by either a Keg Smash for defensive purposes or Tiger Palm for more damage.
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 placed outside the room before engaging the boss, you can taunt the boss and use Transcendence: Transfer. Should the boss follow you outside of its encounter area, it will despawn. This can save your raid a substantial amount of time and gold in a progression environment. As such, if Transcendence is not being used already in an encounter, this unique behavior can be very desirable.
Making appropriate usage of Clash will require a bit of trial-and-error on your part as a Brewmaster. If the enemy it is used on is immune to movement-effects like Death Grip or your own Ring of Peace, then it is important to remember that Clash will not work on those targets either. However, the ability will still be placed on cooldown, wasting its use. In addition, its minimum-range requirement of 8 yards means that you will not be able to Clash enemies that are actively fighting you in melee range. This means that you will need to first get away through the use of Roll or other means and then Clash your pursuers.
Finally, it is recommended that you almost never engage a pull with Clash, as it will result in only the one enemy you have targeted being moved and the rest potentially being rooted. This will make it harder to hit everything with Keg Smash or any of your other AoE abilities. The main time to begin a pull with Clash will be groups with only one caster present that you want to move right away without needing an interrupt.
Touch of Death
Touch of Death offers a fairly unique way to execute a target at low Health, but the damage it deals depends on the target you are fighting. Although you are normally able to use this ability on any target that has less Health than your current maximum Health, Elite enemies and bosses are a little more resistant to its effects. Instead, if used against these types of enemies, the ability will only deal damage equal to 35% of your maximum Health, but may be used against them so long as they are at 15% Health or less. However, there is a useful, but risky, way to still deal full damage!
If when facing an Elite enemy you instead wait for them to reach an amount of Health that is less than your current maximum, you can instead triple the damage your Touch of Death will do to them. Furthermore, any temporary Stamina buffs, such as a Priest's Power Word: Fortitude or your own Fortifying Brew will increase this threshold. Of course, when trying to use this technique against boss-level enemies, there is some chance of being worse off. Against a boss-level enemy, it is entirely possible that they will be slain before you can take advantage of dealing full Touch of Death damage.
If you are willing to take a chance, you can create a substantial increase in your overall damage by using Touch of Death in this way. However, if you are not comfortable with this approach, do not feel forced to try it.
- 31 May 2022: Page reviewed for Patch 9.2.5.
- 19 Feb. 2022: Page updated for Patch 9.2 with guidance on using Covenant Legendary effects through the Unity power.
- 01 Nov. 2021: Adjusted wording on Fallen Order to reflect its changes in Patch 9.1.5.
- 28 Jun. 2021: Added Faeline Harmony to Legendary choice options and Covenant Ability Usage section; minor rewordings.
- 19 Apr. 2021: Rotation Priorities overhauled with options to tailor them to your chosen Covenant, talents, and Legendary Power; added further info to the Advanced sections of Invoke Niuzao and High Tolerance.
- 09 Mar. 2021: Reviewed for Patch 9.0.5.
- 22 Jan. 2021: Added an advanced section for maximizing Invoke Niuzao.
- 16 Dec. 2020: Added two small sections about Charred Passions and Chi Wave.
- 09 Dec. 2020: Added an advanced section for maximizing Touch of Death's potential.
- 24 Nov. 2020: Added Covenant abilities into priority and a section of advanced usage.
- 12 Oct. 2020: Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
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