Due to an unfortunate family situation, I had to take a break from writing and playing right around the time of release. Now, though, I'm back and ready to talk monk! I've leveled a monk to 90, and in the process, have learned quite a bit more about all three specializations. Build some chi and follow me as we talk turkey about talents.
Keep it rolling
I'd originally felt that Momentum and Celerity were pretty equal choices. Now, though, Momentum has my heart. Why? Well, two reasons.
First, Roll is great, but save for the interposition of a solid object, there's no way to do a half-roll. That means if the object you are trying to get to is not some multiple of 20, Roll doesn't get you "right" there, which can be a problem. (Canny PvP opponents are already discussing how to stay 10 yards away from windwalkers to ensure rolls go right past them.) Momentum doesn't fix this, but it makes closing the remaining distance much less painful.
Second, you can keep that movement speed buff going for 20 seconds. Roll once, wait until the 25% buff is about to drop, and roll again to get 10 more seconds of 50%. For traversing long instances/indoor areas where you can't mount, Momentum is much, much faster than Celerity.
That's not to say Celerity doesn't have its uses. When fighting some of the rare elites in Pandaria, for example, many of their abilities are very painful if they hit you, so you will need to open/close range frequently, and Celerity helps with that. Overall, though, the number of times I've been talented into Celerity and thought "man, I wish I had Momentum" are much greater than the converse.
Oh, and Tiger's Lust? Absolutely essential for any encounter involving snares, but I can't recommend it until it loses the chi cost.
Doing the wave
I'd originally been enamored with Zen Sphere as a self-healing tool for windwalkers and brewmasters. Unfortunately, after it got nerfed during the beta, it never really came back into its own. While it does a steady stream of healing to you (and damage to your target), it takes a long time to do it, and the overall healing done is less than Chi Wave. For example, my level 90 windwalker heals for 36k HP over 16 seconds with Zen Sphere, and 52k HP over 3-4 seconds with Chi Wave, both for 2 chi: which would you choose?
Of course, Chi Wave has some idiosyncracies. You have to actually be fighting someone to get it to bounce back and forth. It has a 40 yard cast range, but only a 20 yard bounce range, so it can fizzle out if you cast it and roll away from a target. It can bounce to others; I find this to be a good thing, but if you didn't want to heal that silly warrior standing in acid, you won't get much of a choice. Finally, it travels very slowly, which isn't a big deal if you're in melee, but can be a problem if you're at range. A neat trick is to park yourself just within 20 yards from an enemy caster and cast Chi Wave on cooldown (using Crackling Jade Lightning to restore chi in-between); I've gotten up to 3 Chi Waves bouncing between me and the enemy at once, which looks pretty cool.
Now, the calculation for mistweavers is a little different, and this is where Chi Burst comes into play. Chi Burst hits a single target for slightly more than a single bounce of Chi Wave, so if you can hit 4+ targets with Chi Burst, it's a better option. Actually, now that Spinning Crane Kick's healing has been nerfed, there's no better option for AoE burst healing (though a Spinning Crane Kick buffed with Rushing Jade Wind is still quite strong).
What about when people are more spread out? Well, in this scenario, the choice is between using chi on Uplift or Chi Wave. Uplift is more reliable but heals for two-thirds as much as CW, so I prefer CW unless you have a Renewing Mist on at least five targets.
Power Strikes not so powerful
In the theorycrafting world, Power Strikes is clearly the best choice for maximum chi generation. When playing, though, it's tough for any of the specs to be able to Jab every 20 seconds exactly to maximize it (especially because it's tracked via a hidden cooldown). According to the PTR patch notes, this will change to 22 seconds; it may or may not have been hotfixed in already, but I'm done with it regardless. I'm changing my recommendation to Chi Brew, which also helps windwalkers and mistweavers deal with one of their weaknesses, burst damage/healing. Ascension, though, remains a bad choice; proper play will efficiently use chi, which makes having a "bigger tank" pretty useless.
Well, this hasn't changed from beta: Leg Sweep is still amazingly powerful. When tanking an instance as a brewmaster, I use it immediately after my initial Keg Smash/Breath of Fire to give myself a chance to put Guard up and blunt the initial spike of damage. I've saved numerous tanks with it as a windwalker (and myself, when soloing), and given myself a chance to get caught up on healing as a mistweaver. I expect it'll get nerfed at some point, but I can't recommend it highly enough.
The other choices here are less good. Deadly Reach would be a lot better if the range increase was 40 yards; at 20 yards, it's something I'm already in combat with, or can roll to if needed. Charging Ox Wave is fun (and I can't be the only person who's noticed the acronym/visual and immediately dubbed it my "cow stun") but it's inferior to Leg Sweep in every way.
The level 75 tier is the one that's seen the least use from me, mostly because the potential benefits of Dampen Harm or Diffuse Magic are seen most in raids or PvP, which I haven't done any of yet. Of the two, Diffuse is much more broadly applicable; I've found myself using it frequently in 5-mans as a self-dispel when the healer is busy (or not paying attention). The reversal is gravy if you can get it, but think of it more as a bonus than anything else; it's seemed to be pretty arbitrary on what things it would and wouldn't reverse.
Healing Elixirs isn't terrible, but i[t's also getting a nerf in 5.1, and still requires you to use your brew/tea abilities more frequently than you otherwise would in order to benefit from it. Still, when soloing/leveling, it's probably your best option.
If you're used to other temporary summons like Force of Nature or Mirror Image, the first thing that will strike you about Xuen is how long he lasts. 45 seconds seems like forever; unfortunately, to compensate for the duration, he doesn't melee all that hard. Still, his lightning effect works well when dealing with groups of 2-3, which is very common for instances. He's by far the best option for windwalkers, and surprisingly good for mistweavers, since all of his damage is counted for Eminence healing.
Rushing Jade Wind is more situational. It's great for huge packs of enemies, but that's not very common. My brewmaster liked its snap AoE threat back when Keg Smash only affected 3 targets, but that's not an issue anymore. Pretty much, the only spec that will still use RJW is mistweavers looking to buff their AoE healing, and with Spinning Crane Kick taking a 30% nerf, that might not be the best option anymore. As for Chi Torpedo, it joins Ascension in the "interesting idea but too weak to be taken seriously" bin.
That's it for the talents, and yes, I've heard the many calls for a mistweaver guide. Next week, mistweaver 101 -- don't be late!
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!