The Brewmaster Monk has had its ups and downs ever since joining the ranks of tanks in the Mists of Pandaria expansion, but right now it fulfils that role exceptionally well. It also relies on a very unique - and uniquely challenging - playstyle, something that we’ll help you come to grips with in this Brewmaster Monk guide.
What makes the Brewmaster Monk special is its passive “Stagger” ability. Unlike most tanks who are hit and take damage minus the amount prevented by any defensive skills they've deployed, a Brewmaster constantly “staggers” 40% to 20% of the damage from each attack (depending on the damage type).
This means that the staggered portion is not delivered immediately, but is instead delayed and divided out over a 10-second period - giving healers time to prepare the tank’s health to absorb the pain, or even allowing the Brewmaster to use his Purifying Brew to eliminate a good chunk of the pending doom. Several of the Brewmaster’s abilities and talents interact with this very system.
In this Brewmaster Monk guide, we’ll outline a talent build that will allow you to focus on mastering this core mechanic as easily as possible, and that will enable you to effectively tank in Normal, Heroic and Mythic dungeons, as well as in raids up to Heroic.
If you choose to level as a Brewmaster, you can do so using this talent build for running “levelling” dungeons via the Dungeon Finder tool - but consider looking into our Windwalker Monk guide for a more well-rounded levelling experience.
We’ll also detail a basic rotation to help you generate threat and spend your Energy wisely, but the meat of our playstyle advice will be found in our recommendations for cooldown and mitigation ability usage - these are key to your survival as a Brewmaster Monk, after all.
In future updates to this guide, we’ll include a section on how to upgrade your Artifact Weapon, and show you how the primary and secondary stats found in gear enhance your tanking abilities.
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Brewmaster Monk talent build
This is our talent recommendation for playing a Brewmaster. Some choices can be improved - situationally - for considerable gain, and we have noted those in the right column.
|Level||Talent Option||Reason for Choice|
|15||Eye of the Tiger - Tiger Palm also applies Eye of the Tiger, dealing moderate Nature damage to the enemy and an equal amount of healing to the Monk over 8 sec.||This is universally the best talent to take, due to its natural fit into your rotation and passive healing power.|
|30||Celerity - Reduces the cooldown of Roll by 5 sec and increases its maximum number of charges by 1.||Of the several mobility increase options, this is the easiest to master, and is not significantly inferior to the others.|
|45||Light Brewing - Reduces the cooldown of Ironskin Brew and Purifying Brew by 3 sec and increases their maximum number of charges by 1.||This talent makes your main mitigation abilities available much more often, allowing for a smoother and less frantic playstyle.|
|60||Leg Sweep - Knocks down all enemies within 5 yards, stunning them for 5 sec.||A fantastic AoE stun that is particularly helpful when tanking Mythic+ dungeons, and stands head and shoulders above the other options.|
|75||Healing Elixir - Drink a healing elixir, healing you for 15% of your maximum health. Healing Elixir will automatically trigger if you drop below 35% health, and if a charge is available.||Both safety net and periodically usable cooldown, this is a fantastic overall choice, but you should switch it out for Mystic Vitality on fights that are heavy with Magic damage.|
|90||Rushing Jade Wind - Summons a whirling tornado around you, causing high damage over 6 sec to enemies within 8 yards.||This greatly improves your ability to pick up and maintain threat on multiple targets in dungeons. If you wish to simplify your rotation and up your damage instead - or are tanking raid bosses - use the passiveSpecial Delivery instead.|
|100||Elusive Dance - Purifying Brew now clears an additional 15% of damage delayed with Stagger. It also grants up to 20% Dodge and damage done for 6 sec, based on the level of Stagger damage purified.||All Brewmaster Tier 7 talents are cool, but this one is rotation-independent and thus easiest to use, passively helping you both avoid and clear more damage.|
Brewmaster Monk rotations, active mitigation and cooldowns
Our rotation is chiefly geared towards helping you keep threat on your targets. It is the same regardless of the number of enemies you face, and is not nearly as important as having good knowledge about the fight’s mechanics, and how to properly position yourself to avoid your target(s) damaging you and the party unnecessarily. This is especially relevant to a Brewmaster Monk because, as you will see below, movement is an intrinsic part of the specialisation.
Knowing when and how to activate your mitigation abilities and defensive cooldowns, on the other hand, will dictate your capacity for survival as a tank, and is of the utmost importance.
This is a very simple and easy to execute rotation that will enable you to generate enough threat to keep enemies away from the target. Insert your mitigation abilities and / or defensive cooldowns between these steps as needed - advice on this will be given in the next section of our guide.
|Action||Condition / Further Instructions|
|1||Exploding Keg (Level 100 Artifact Ability)||If there are 3 or more enemies in range.|
|4||Tiger Palm||If you have 65 or more Energy.|
|5||Rushing Jade Wind|
|6||Breath of Fire|
|7||Exploding Keg (Level 100 Artifact Ability)||If there are 2 or less enemies in range.|
|8||Repeat from Step 1.|
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Active mitigation abilities
The Brewmaster’s Active Mitigation abilities, that is, the abilities that you can count on frequently to either boost your capacity to stagger damage, or remove part of that staggered damage altogether, are complemented by a passive skill called Gift of the Ox.
This periodically spawns a healing orb nearby, which you may then walk over for a generous amount of self-healing. You should ideally keep at least a couple of these in reserve for periods of particularly high damage. You can also “vacuum” them into your hero all at once through Expel Harm, as detailed below.
In addition, note that Ironskin Brew and Purifying Brew share their charges, and you should always save the last of these for Purifying Brew.
|Expel Harm||You can use this as often as you like, as the only constraint is a (low) Energy cost. You should, however, let at least three Healing Orbs accumulate before activating it, and do so when you are at 50% to 60% Health.|
|Ironskin Brew||This is what you want to use before your target’s more powerful attacks, as it will help you stagger the majority of said damage. Keep in mind that staggered damage is not avoided, only delayed - unless you follow up with Purifying Brew, of course.|
|Purifying Brew||With your talents, using this will clear 65% of the incoming staggered damage, and considerably increase your ability to dodge attacks for a short while. You should accumulate as much stagger damage as possible before deploying it - how much exactly depends on your situation, and you will have to learn from experience. If you find that you are having trouble surviving, this is the first place where you should look for flaws - there is a big chance that you are being too greedy in the amount of stagger damage that you are accumulating.|
Brewmaster Monks are tailor-made to avoid fatally damaging attacks through their natural Stagger mechanic, so they have few defensive cooldowns when compared to other tanks. That said, we'd be remiss if we didn’t go into the handful they have in more detail.
|Fortifying Brew||This is an incredibly strong cooldown that will make you all but invincible for 15 seconds, an extremely long period when compared to other tank cooldowns that usually tap out at 6 or 8 seconds. The catch is that you are only able to rely on it once every 7 minutes - effectively once per boss fight, if that. You can deploy it as a last resort when you're very low on health, but its optimal usage is right before fatal attacks or prolonged periods of intensive damage.|
|Zen Meditation||A weird ability, this will prevent a lot of damage but only up until you are physically hit. You can use it right before a single high-damaging attack to prevent just that one, or during periods of channelled damage - that is, when your target is casting a damaging spell that prevents him from physically hitting you (this is the case of most AOEs, as an example).|
We hope that you’ve found this first version of our Brewmaster Monk guide useful. In the next update, we’ll lay down the best upgrade path for your Artifact Weapon, enabling you to invest those AP wisely. We’ll also explore the effect of main and secondary armour stats on your performance as a tank.
In the meantime, please take some time to go to the comment section below and give us your feedback!