A Brawling we will go

Entirely by accident I found myself in the Brawler’s guild yesterday. I wasn’t planning on doing anything as messy as stepping into the ring but then I realized that I was completely alone. The rest of the server were either running around on the Timeless Isle or busy hanging out at the Darkmoon Faire in search of Moonfang related goodies, therefore if I fell flat on my face with my silly Mistweaver DPS, no one would know. So with my heart racing, I spoke to that Worgen gentleman and waited. A mere heartbeat later I was in the ring, waiting for an oversized crocodile to eat me alive. Surprisingly he didn’t although I didn’t notice this until I was ported out because I was too busy staring at the chomp cast bar. Heart in my mouth, I queued up again and again and again, ticking off ranks 1 through 4.


So I’m now the proud owner of Clock’em, ok it’s months after everyone else but I did do it specced as a healer which has to count for something right? Can I get all the way to rank 10 as a Mistweaver? I suspect not, at least not without some major gear upgrades but I do intend to try. I also need to see if it’s doable on other classes as Sprout would love to be Brawler.

BETA: Weaving the Mist – healing from a Monk’s perspective (lv 11 to 45)

First of all, I’m not going to cover levels 1 through 10 because Tzufit has already done  a great job of doing that, which can be found here. Secondly this is going to concentrate a bit more on PvPish things because well, I’m a ganker at heart.

So you rolled a Monk, reached lv 10 and picked Mistweaver, well congratulations!

From picking up your specialisation, you get access to your first heal, Soothing Mists. From levels 10 to through to dinging 18 this is it, the extent of your healing toolbox.

It is a great spell for a couple of reasons, first of all, the mana cost is not upfront. You only pay for what you use. Over the course of eight seconds, you can potentially (if you choose not to interrupt it) get with my meagre haste levels, nine ticks of Soothing Mists. However I find myself rarely going full channel with this. In PvP related activities, grabbing the first two ticks and then moving is great as a way of keeping health pumping in but making it hard for your opponent to interrupt you.

Secondly, each pulse without overhealing counts as a possible generation of chi (it seems bugged in the current Beta build providing a 100 percent chance).  This combined with point 1, means that you can cast a tick or two on the tank, stopping when they reach full health, wait a bit for them to take a hit or six and then recast it again, ensuring you maximise both your mana usage and your chances of gaining chi. This is not, in my opinion a spell you want to have overheal on because it’s just not necessary.

At lv 18, we get Chi Wave.

This is a quite a contentious spell and whilst I agree it does have a few negatives, I like it. Yes, it’s targeting could definitely do with being a bit smarter, less critters and mobs on the other side of walls please. That said, I’ve had a lot of fun with it and because it will go you -> the thing you’re fighting -> you etc etc, I find it to be a great PvP and grinding tool plus it’s definitely contributed to my success in 1 v 1s.

In my dungeon experience , especially those that Mr Harpy and I two manned, it worked really well (apart from the odd bounce through solid walls). I could build chi either through the careful use of Soothing Mists or through clobbering stuff (in Serpent Stance or switching to Tiger if I thought mana would be an issue at some point) and fire this off every 8 seconds. I love having two resource systems for healing, in the same vein as Paladins with Holy Power but would like to see more Chi based abilities at low levels to help people get in the habit of using it earlier on.

Our next heal pops up at lv 26. Now this isn’t Mistweaver specific but I decided to include it here because it’s still useful in both PvE and PvP environments.

Because it’s available to all Monks, there is of course an energy version which differs slightly to this one (40 energy cost/heals you for 313 and causes 120 percent of the amount healed as damage). I see it as a mini version of Desperate Prayer with a really short cooldown which also provides a smack in the face to whatever is currently trying to kill you. It does suffer from a similar issue to Chi Wave, in that it’s choice of targets isn’t exactly smart. Make sure there aren’t any critters between you and the boss …. but I’ve found in the vast majority of dungeons I’ve run so far, this is enough to keep myself alive. Again, overhealing doesn’t translate into damage so make sure you’re aware of your own health before using it.

Now we hit a bit of a healing drought, having to wait until level 34 for our next heal.

I believe there is talk of making this require a target rather than it functioning as a smart heal and I think that’s probably the right line for Blizzard to take. Right now it’s awesome and certainly from a random battleground perspective, it would increase your chances of being healed by monks with zero situational awareness but I feel that since it fits into the “flash heal” type category and can already become instant cast whilst providing chi that leaving it the option to remain as a smart heal is a step too far.

That said though, I tend to only use it whilst channelling Soothing Mists so that I can double dip into my chances of getting chi so wouldn’t miss that utility. As a PvP tool, the fact that when you’re channelling Soothing Mists, the only impediment to it’s instant castiness is your reaction time means that it’s wonderful. Burst healing and instant casts are king in the PvP world and as Monks all our abilities seem to be based around that principle.

The last heal we gain in the this bracket is my all time favourite.

An infectious renew which lasts for almost double it’s cooldown meaning that you could technically have them spread over quite a few people in a battleground or a dungeon even at this level and without Uplift.

Going from left to right, 3 and 4 are the timers relating to Renewing Mists. 4 is the duration of the mists itself and 3 shows the number of potential jumps remaining plus a timer in which those jumps must be made.

So far, I love our toolbox. That fact that everything is either instant cast (renewing mists, expel harm and chi wave) or can be instant cast depending on how you use it (soothing mists and surging mists), means that we’re really well set in PvP for quick and effective healing on the move. So that’s the healing abilities covered, now lets look at utility and what that brings to the table.

At level 18 we gain Resurrection. This isn’t particularly exciting just a necessary part of levelling a healer these days.

I do find the PvP implications of the second half interesting though, Night Elf monks shadowmelding to drop combat behind well-placed pillars and then pulling off sub 5 second resses perhaps.

Level 20 brings Detox, another staple of playing a healer.

Apart from the Bleed effects, this is a fairly standard spell. The bleeds do make it a bit more interesting though and I’m interested in seeing if it allows Monks to “cheese” spells like Grievous Wound and Grievous Whirl. It also means that not only will we be stealing Feral Druid gear for our offspecs but that we can pretty much negate them in PvP too.

At 28, we get our very own hamstring.

I found that this plus roll provided some rather satisfying results against melee classes, especially since we can remove poisons and bleeds into the bargain.

The Monk kick requires either Tiger Stance or Ox stance but I feel it’s worth including here because any decent Mistweaver who PvPs is going to have to get into the habit of switching stance to use it, just as Resto Druids currently have to go catform to interrupt spellcasting.

We get it at lv 32 and regardless of whether you intend playing a Monk or not, you might want to play close attention to the tooltip.

In short, when you’re playing a Monk, make sure you’re facing them when you interrupt for added insult to injury. When you’re not playing a Monk but you’ve got one in your face, try and keep your back to them when you feel you have to use cast times. I must admit as a healing Priest, it’s spells like this that make me sad that all my cast time shadow spells have been taken away because if they catch me casting, I’m still going to take a five second silence regardless of whether I’m dpsing or healing.

Finally, there is Paralysis.

In PvP, the duration is eight seconds from behind and four from the front.

We learn this at lv 44 and again it’s baseline for the class. Unfortunately you can’t win, don’t turn your back on a Monk and you risk being locked out of all your spells for five seconds, turn your back and you could find yourself incapacitated longer.

In PvP at any rate, given that most of our useful utility requires melee range, I think it’s going to be an interesting game of chase (at lower levels anyway). Allowing pesky melee to catch you every so often just you can get the most of your incapacitates and disables whilst chasing down other healers and casters yourself to interrupt them, all the while punctuating your utility moves with as much instant or near to instant healing as possible. I don’t know about you, but I love to dance….

There are a few things I’d like to see improved/changed, perhaps most importantly another way of spending Chi that isn’t just doing melee dps (by lv 44, we still only have Chi Wave as a healing spell which relies on it). That said, I think I definitely do more than decent dps in both a PvP and PvE environment (testing PvP is a little hard at the moment since Battlegrounds haven’t worked since a patch or two ago) by generating chi through healing/clobber and spending it on mostly melee dps.

I’d like the “smart” aspect of Chi Wave and of Expel Harm to get a lot smarter. Please prioritise stuff we’re already in combat with and don’t go for yellow mobs/critters over red ones.

All in all though, I haven’t lost a duel yet at any level, even against the other two specs of Monk. This is mostly because of Expel Harm and Chi Wave with the odd melee hit thrown in for good measure. I’ve also managed to 2 man a lot of the lower level dungeons, including Razorfen Kraul which was far too easy for two Monks (healing and tank) to saunter through randomly pulling stuff through walls and not stopping runners. The cynic in me expects things to change quite a bit between now and live but the naughty little Gnome with an eye on MoP PvP secretly hopes they won’t.

I would definitely recommend if you have the time and the Beta access, levelling a Monk from scratch rather than just grabbing a premade. It’s a bit like building a house of cards, starting from the bottom is always best. Learning each ability as you get it and figuring out how best to interlace it with others makes getting to grips with a new class easier than trying to sort out forty abilities all at once. This is particularly true of the Monk class as quite a few abilities do work best when used in tandem with others (as an example see Soothing Mists and Surging Mists).

Right now, I think Blizzard are sending mixed signals with the Monk class. Are we meant to be in melee hitting stuff between casting just like my Paladin used to have to in the old judgement days? or are we meant to be pure healers just standing around at the back? I know that even at this point, we have two clear ways of generating chi, one to potentially appeal to both groups but the most effective way seems to be a combination of those methods. Personally I enjoy being in melee range using spare chi to dps but I know it’s a play style not to everyone’s tastes but also groups don’t always seem to like it either.

Finally, I’ll leave you with a screenshot of one of the battlegrounds I did manage to do on the Beta. Eighteen Monks in Warsong Gulch was a fairly hilarious experience (there was a Mage and a Warlock making up the numbers).