So, my brand new monk hit 84, and promptly got stuck when trying to do the quest chain that takes him into Twilight Highlands… and since I would rather rub sandpaper on my nipples than level 84-85 solely in Uldum and Deepholm, I went ahead and made a template character. First thing I did with my brand new panda monk (spooneristically named “Metabonkey”) was to spec him brewmaster and queue for one of the new dungeons. Queue popped instantly and I was taken to Stormstout Brewery, where I promptly realized the big issue with Brewmasters in their current iteration
They are fucking squishy. Here’s why: My druid tank, in bear form, in ilvl 397 gear has 58422 armor on the beta. My monk, in 378 gear (admittedly worse, but not DRAMATICALLY so) is sitting at 11381 armor.
Now baseline, that’s roughly a 30% difference in damage reduction mitigated by armor. Per swing. Brewmasters DO have a lot of tools to combat this between Guard and Staggering damage, but therein lies the problem. NO one tank class shouldn’t have to use a minimum of 4 global cooldowns for his damage taken to be similar to that of the other tanks. 4 global cooldowns is the MINIMUM… That’s providing you start a fight with full chi and are talented into having a maximum of 5 chi. If you’re going in blank it could take as many as 9 global cooldowns (Keg smash, Jab x2, Tiger Palm x3, Keg Smash, Guard, Purifying Brew) . And that is IF every single blow lands.
That’s a long damn time for you to be getting your face pounded in while trying to be “just as good” as the other tanks. Now the guard gives you a bit of breathing room, and purifying brew will cleanse off any Staggered damage you took in that time frame, but unless you throw a blackout kick (2 chi, which means you need to generate 2 MORE chi somewhere in that 9s string of nonsense) somewhere in there, there isn’t any guarantee that you will stagger ANY hits. Which means you took at *least* 3 swings from a boss at “full strength” with your monk’s piddly little 30% armor. Which means your healers are panting and going “what the fuck y u so squishy!??!”
All things being equal, this is a problem in and of itself. I don’t think anyone will argue that, but here’s the rub. Keg smash has a cooldown. If you miss with it either time in those 9 seconds then you wasted a cooldown and now have to jab TWICE for two chi, instead of KS’ing ONCE. On top of that, your keg smash/jab cost 40 energy. Energy is kind of a funky resource overall because baseline it regenerates at 10/sec. Of course haste will change that, but the amount it does so is SO miniscule (10% haste = 1 extra energy/sec. HARDLY worth the hassle when you could look for so many better things on gear).
So, let’s look at this from another way, where energy actually comes into play in the above rotation (starting a fight with zero chi). Keep in mind, I am no hardcore theorycrafter, but all of this makes sense even to me, so it should be simple enough to understand. We are assuming 0 haste on your behalf (which we know will not be the case, because we’ll ALWAYS find SOME gear with garbage stats on it). e = energy, c = chi.
Keg smash (-40e) Jab (-40e) Jab (-40e) = -120 energy. Right off the bat, you’re ALREADY waiting for energy to regenerate. Now admittedly, you can throw your three tiger palms in after the first jab, so it would look like this. Keep in mind that the base regeneration rate is 10 chi per second, and the Brewmaster monk’s have a 1s global cooldown instead of 1.5 baseline like everyone else.
Fight: (100e 0c) Keg smash (60e 2c), Jab (30e, 3c), Tiger palm x3 (60e, 0c) Jab (30e, 1c)–and right here your stuck. The next thing you SHOULD do is keg smash again, but you don’t have the energy to do it. You have to wait a full second to get enough energy to fire off your keg smash… or even another jab. At this point the boss has swung at you roughly 2 times (we’re assuming a 3 second swing timer. Of course this could be higher or lower, but 3 is a nice round number, it’s an “average” boss swing timer, and it suits our purposes here). So at this point, we’re waiting for enough energy to keg smash, where we’ll have the chi to Guard and Purifying Brew.
Again, this is ALL assuming that you have enough hit and expertise to never miss, and never be dodged or parried. And all of this is to get our survivability up to where EVERY OTHER TANK is back at the beginning of the pull. This is a little messed up right now.
I feel like I should say this (as I always do), but this is BETA. I know things will be changed. Numbers will be tweaked. Blizzard doesn’t want ANY tank going underrepresented, especially not their new class for this expansion. I understand the point of not wanting to repeat their mistakes with Death Knights at the beginning of WotLK (where they were soloing raid bosses at level), but I feel like they swung the pendulum too far the other direction for now. Of course, this is a GOOD THING. Having a class that starts out feeling weaker and gradually bringing it up to everyone else’s relative position makes us feel more powerful. This is MUCH more preferable than having us feel like gods among men, and then feeling neutered when we’re actually IN LINE with the other mere mortals (again, see DK’s in early Wrath).
I’m not writing this as a bitchfest post or anything like that. I am writing it so that those of you without beta access, or those simply unwilling to get in the beta for your own reasons, have an idea of what’s going on and where things lie for the “newcomers” to Azeroth. If Blizz balances Brewmasters out like I am *certain* they will, then I am about 75% that the Brewmaster monk becoming my new main for Mists. I’m excited by the potential of the Monk class as a whole… but it’s still pretty early in the day. I look forward to seeing the class evolve as Blizzard starts tightening the screws.