What is a mistweaver monk? Monks have three role options: damage, tanking, and healing, of which mistweaver is the healing role.
How do mistweaver monks work? Mistweaver monks have two primary resources, mana and chi. Mana works similarly to all other mana-based classes; it regenerates at a constant rate, regenerates at half that rate in combat, and powers the majority of your healing abilities. Somewhat similar to holy paladin mechanics, however, is the addition of chi, which is generated by several different abilities. Chi can stack up to 4 (5 if talented) and powers some of the spec's stronger abilities and damage potential.
Damage potential? What is this "melee healer" thing? While it's still heavily being tweaked, mistweavers have several passive abilities that allow them to convert damage into healing. The most important of these is Eminence, which converts 50% of the monk's special ability damage into healing a nearby ally with the lowest health. Eminence can currently be stacked twice if a Jade Serpent Statue is dropped, which provides enough healing for encounters with light damage.
The rotations are pretty simple: Use Jab, Expel Harm, or one of your heals to generate chi, then spend it via Tiger Palm or Blackout Kick to get the Eminence healing. If you're fighting a large pack, use Spinning Crane Kick, which heals based on AoE damage. If things get tough, though, you'll want to switch to full-time healing. As it currently stands, DPS healing isn't required, but it provides a small additional boost to overall raid damage and raid healing -- and it's also pretty fun, too.
For weapons, monks can either dual wield fist weapons, swords, maces, and axes or use a two-handed polearm or staff. For heirloom purposes, the Dignified Headmaster's Charge is your best option.
What are mistweaver monks' key abilities? First, make sure you're in Stance of the Wise Serpent (healing), not Stance of the Fierce Tiger (DPSs). You can use Fierce Tiger for DPS while soloing if you choose, but it's not that effective.
Ready to go? The first spells you'll want to figure out are Soothing Mist and Surging Mist. Soothing Mist is your "cheap heal." It doesn't have a long cast time like other cheap heals, but it's also a channeled spell and heals for very little. This is your filler that you'll cast when nobody's taking significant damage.
In contrast, Surging Mist is your "fast heal," similar to a priest's Flash Heal. Surging Mist does roughly three times the healing per second as Soothing Mist, but it takes quite a bit more mana, so you want to use it sparingly. What's really unique, however, is the way they interact. Unlike every other channeled spell in the game (to my knowledge), while Soothing is channeling, Surging becomes an instant-cast usable on the Soothing target, and it doesn't break the channel. To give a real-world analogy, it's like running a blender on low (Soothing) and then pushing the "pulse" button a few times to break up chunks (Surging). It's very dynamic and works extremely well for tank healing.
Doing that a few times will build up some chi, so then you get to spend it on the "strong heal:" Enveloping Mist. This costs 3 chi, can also be cast as an instant during Soothing Mist, and has two benefits. Not only is it a very strong heal over time that is similar in strength to Surging Mist, it also boosts the healing from Soothing Mist by 30%. Put all of those together, and you have a very synergistic combo that should make mistweavers very effective tank healers for raid content.
In contrast, raid healing is somewhat of a weakness. Mistweavers' primary AoE heal is Renewing Mist, which is a weak HoT with an 8-second cooldown and a unique clone effect. You cast it on a single target, and the first three times it ticks, it spawns a full-duration copy of itself on the nearest injured player. It won't duplicate targets though, and the "clones" won't spread again, so the end result is one cast that results in four HoTs ... eventually. (You will almost certainly want the glyph, since it doubles the range of the clone effect.)
The synergistic ability with Renewing Mist is Uplift, which costs 2 chi, heals all targets that currently have your Renewing Mist for a small amount, and increases the duration of the effect by 6 seconds. I have a feeling that this effect will end up getting changed; at the moment, a Surging/Surging/Renewing/Uplift rotation lets you continuously roll Renewing Mists on up to 10 players, which probably isn't intended.
Finally, the last (and definitely least) ability you have is Healing Sphere, which is this expansion's Lightwell. Theoretically, you can use this during downtime to create a little "heal spot," which would be great if anyone would actually notice and walk over it. The mistweaver mastery also procs these, which means most mistweavers will be reforging out of mastery ASAP. I really hope they do something to make these more visible/noticeable.
What cooldowns do I have?
- Your Jade Serpent Statue, as mentioned before, is pretty critical to pulling off melee healing successfully. It also channels Soothing Mist on a random target when you cast yours (at half the strength) which is a nice addition. It has a 3-minute cooldown, but it lasts essentially forever; the biggest downside is that its stationary and you can only have one, so make sure you put it where you need it.
- Life Cocoon is like a Power Word: Shield on steroids. Absorbs a good chunk of damage and boosts all periodic heals by 50% for 12 seconds. (Your raid's resto druids will love this.) 2-minute cooldown.
- Thunder Focus Tea is a mild ability; spend 1 chi, and your next Surging Mist or Uplift gets doubled in power. 45-second cooldown.
- Revival is a mistweaver's strongest AoE heal. Cast this, and everyone within view gets an immediate moderate-strength heal and dispel. 3-minute cooldown. (Also, it sounds way too much like Revive, which totally throws me off. I keep clicking this to rez.)
- Zen Meditation will probably get rebalanced, but at the moment it effectively makes your raid nigh-invulnerable to AoE damage for 8 seconds. 3-minute cooldown.
- Movement Roll! Similar to a mage's Blink; not as fast, but more charges. You also get Transcendence, which is somewhat similar to a warlock's Demonic Circle, though you don't unlock it until 87.
- Buffs Legacy of the Emperor, which is a 5% stat boost.
- Mana Regen It's teatime! You generate charges of Mana Tea by simply performing your rotation, and then you take a break to drink up and regenerate. (I prefer the glyphed version.)
- Other The usual; you can remove diseases and poisons with Detox and revive dead players (out of combat) with Resuscitate. For PvP or CC, you've also got a robust toolkit: an incapacitate, a snare, a disarm, and an interrupt. Last, but not least, you can also insta-kill some things with Touch of Death. Sure, it's not an overly practical ability, but it's pretty sweet. (No, it doesn't work in PvP -- no I.W.I.N button for you.)
The Level 30 tier of talents offer some good healing options, though the numbers are still being rebalanced. (Zen Sphere seems vastly overpowered at the moment.) Chi Brew is also great for quickly restoring chi to get some back-to-back Uplifts out. I've got a fuller description of monk talents here.
That's it for mistweavers. Of the three specs, this one feels the most in flux still; the developers are still trying to figure out how effective to make melee healiing, and AoE healing feels overly punishing. I'm a big fan of the Surging/Soothing interaction though, and I look forward to using it when Mists goes live. Got any questions? Feel free to ask them in the comments. Also, if you have any ideas for what I should cover from here on out, let me know!
It's open warfare between Alliance and Horde in Mists of Pandaria, World of Warcraft's next expansion. Jump into five new levels with new talents and class mechanics, try the new monk class, and create a pandaren character to ally with either Horde or Alliance. Look for expansion basics in our Mists FAQ, or dig into our spring press event coverage for more details!