After about a dozen or so failed attempts, I am finally leveling a monk. I'm not sure I could even tell you why I failed to push myself past level 20, but almost every jade-colored Grid square I had started would eventually meet the business end of the word "Delete" before learning how to ride a bike.
Now I am jabbing and kicking my way into Outland and, somewhat shamefully, am having a complete blast. I almost feel bad that my weekly playtime on the monk is exceeding that of my paladin by a significant margin, though after reading through the forums and seeing many posters make comparisons between ret paladins and windwalker monks, I don't feel quite as bad.
Indeed, in many ways my monk reminds me of my paladin -- a melee class using a secondary resource reminiscent of combo points and maintaining a damage-increasing buff feels right at home. Still, though, there are a number of major differences between the specs, enough to make me a little jealous of what monks have that paladins don't.
Setting the land speed record via Roll and Flying Serpent Kick
For the longest time I have been hearing people tell me that ret's mobility sucks, and I have always refuted them. Admittedly, it is not as great as it was near the tail end of Wrath when we got to use Long Arm of the Law and Pursuit of Justice simultaneously, but the fact that every paladin has access to any one of our level 15 movement-altering talents is a definite step up from expansions past.
Hitting level 18 on my monk and getting Flying Serpent Kick was likely one of the reasons I became so infatuated with the spec. Not only do monks get Roll at level 5, with their first tier of talents altering its behavior in a way much like the paladin's, but windwalkers get this nice little pseudo-charge as icing on the cake. Did I mention that it has a mere 25 second cooldown, and that you can use it to glide over water? Yeah, Blizzard, ret will take some of that action.
More travel options than Bill Shatner, thanks to Zen Pilgrimage
I've never been terribly envious of druids and their Teleport: Moonglade ability. The only time I was remotely green was during Firelands, when I couldn't get back to Stormwind because my hearth was down and had to wait for a summon to the raid.
For the record, I've also never been envious of death knights and their loner city in the skies over the middle of nowhere either. Acherus is a mobile necropolis, right? Why not move it... anywhere else? Was the Lich King the only one who knew how to drive the thing?
Regardless, monks get Zen Pilgrimage, a free second hearthstone (well, an unbuffed one at least) that is permanently set in the mountains of Kun Lai Summit. Having a way of instantly teleporting to an endgame-relevant zone on a relatively short timer is extremely convenient. The closest anyone else can get is to carry a mage around in their pocket or pick up the glorious profession of engineering and hope that your Wormhole Generator: Pandaria doesn't put you in Jade Forest when you want to be in Townlong Steppes.
Other than functionality, the Peak of Serenity is just a very cool place in general. Doing the daily quest is particularly fun, bowing to each master to initiate a duel and the different challenges the masters provide are all nice touches that give a lot of flavor to the new class.
Getting more bang for your buck with Tiger Power
Even though I have proclaimed my appreciation for Inquisition time and time again, much to my own embarrassment I'm sure, there is one thing about the ability that I think we can all agree on: using it feels a bit like contributing a small percentage of your paycheck to a particularly low-interest savings account. You know you'll benefit from it in the end, but the cost over the short term stings and provides no instant gratification.
For the unaware, monks also have a maintenance buff that boosts their damage output, called Tiger Power. However, whereas ret paladins sacrifice three holy power (or one Templar's Verdict) to keep that bankroll going, windwalkers only have to spend one chi to yield a 20-second Tiger Power.
Thanks to Combo Breaker: Tiger Palm, often times they will get to refresh the buff for the small cost of a GCD and not have to spend any chi whatsoever. An incoming buff in patch 5.4 to Inquisition's duration will even out the resource cost to buff duration ratio a bit, where one holy power will produce a 20-second Inquisition. Even so, Combo Breaker still looks awfully attractive.
Of course, windwalkers do have a second buff to maintain, a debuff applied by Rising Sun Kick, but thanks to the attack's high damage, a 15-second duration on the debuff it applies and an 8-second cooldown on the ability itself, the micromanagement here is virtually nonexistent.
Truth be told, most of these differences are minor and inconsequential. Every spec and class has some little thing that distinguishes it from every other one, and windwalkers and ret paladins are no different. I'm enjoying the leveling process, but something tells me that I'll miss ret's burst when I finally hit 90 and start gearing the little spacegoat out.
Well that, and all of our utility, defensive cooldowns, dashing good looks...
The Light and How to Swing It teaches you the ins and outs of retribution paladins, from Ret 101 and how to gem, enchant and reforge your retadin, to essential ret pally addons.