The latest Warlords of Draenor
alpha patch notes have been released, and they come with some pretty hefty changes to monks--Mistweavers in particular. Blizzard has been experimenting with the monk class, and that comes as no real surprise. They were the new kids of Mists of Pandaria
, so it's expected that they'll be getting relatively large changes in the expansion immediately following their introduction. Death Knights went through the same thing in Cataclysm
, so this seems to be just part of the new class cycle. Keep that in mind as we go over the changes; this is still alpha, after all, and if there were any time for Blizzard to play around and see what happens, it's now.
The biggest changes in the current build involve haste, the global cooldown, and the separation of the traditional healing style of Mistweavers versus the Eminence dps-while-healing style. Like Warriors, a number of the monk changes show a great emphasis on the importance of stances, and how different stances affect gameplay. The monk change notes are after the break, with the strikeouts left intact so as to illustrate the dynamic changes from the last alpha build. Red text in the original that is not
struck out has been bolded below.
Warlords of Draenor Alpha Patch Notes for June 18th
About midway through the expansion, it became clear that mana was not valuable for Mistweavers. We tried some adjustments to solve that, but it proved too large of a change to make at the time. We chose to just live with that problem for the time being, and tune them around not really caring much about Spirit or mana (once they reached epic gear).
Now that we have the time to tweak things, and for Mistweavers to acquire new gear, we're going to make changes to get them in the right spot. Initially, we experimented with giving Mistwavers a 1-second GCD akin to that of the Rogue to give them a faster combat feel. However, it's proven difficult to balance. Haste is attractive to healers because it lowers not just cast time but GCD as well. Therefore, Monks valued Haste much less than other healers. We explored a few options, but ultimately landed on changing the core GCD for Mistweavers from 1 second to the standard 1.5 seconds, which you will be able to reduce with Haste. This will feel jarring at first, but we're confident that it's for the best, long-term.
- All abilities available to Mistweavers now have a 1.5-second global cooldown (up from 1 second).
- Stance of the Sturdy Ox and Stance of the Fierce Tiger now reduce the global cooldown of the Monk's abilities by 0.5 seconds.
- Stance of the Wise Serpent now causes Haste to reduce global cooldown of the Monk's abilities.
- Crackling Jade Lightning's throughput has been increased by 100%, but it no longer generates Chi for Mistweaver Monks. Additionally, it is free in Stance of the Wise Serpent.
- Detonate Chi is a new spell available to Mistweaver Monks, instantly detonating all Healing Spheres, and causing each of them to heal a nearby ally within 12 yards of the sphere with a 15-second cooldown.
Focus and Harmony is a new passive ability for Mistweaver Monks and causes Haste effects to reduce the global cooldown of spells and abilities.
- Healing Spheres now heal an ally within 12 yards (up from 6 yards) for 100% (up from 50%) of their normal healing, when they expire.
- Soothing Mist's healing has been increased by 100%, its GCD has been reduced to 0.5 seconds, but no longer heals immediately, and no longer generates Chi.
- Stance of the Wise Serpent no longer increases Haste from items by 50%.
- Summon Jade Serpent Statue now has a 10-second cooldown (down from 30 seconds).
- Thunder Focus Tea no longer costs Chi, causes the next Renewing Mist to jump up to 4 times (instead of causing the next Uplift to refresh the duration of Renewing Mists on all targets). Its effect on Surging Mist remains unchanged.
Another issue with Mistweavers is that of Eminence, which has never really played out how we had hoped. The intent with Eminence was to create an alternate play style to fulfill the fantasy of healing through dealing damage, since we knew a lot of players had that fantasy, and a new class was the perfect opportunity to satisfy that.
Having two play styles in one spec (Eminence, and traditional Mistweaving, healing primarily through casting heals) proved challenging to balance, because we don't want players to take the best parts of both and stack them into an unintended superior spec. The most notorious of these cases was "Jab-Jab-Uplift". In order to solve this problem, we're giving Mistweavers two stances. Stance of the Wise Serpent will continue to be the stance from which to do traditional Mistweaving. The new Stance of the Spirited Crane will be the stance to use for Eminence. You can swap stances at will, with only the cost of a GCD and any current Chi that you've accrued. The intention is that Crane Stance allows Mistweavers to trade healing for damage; it should fall somewhere in the middle between being a full healer, and being a full damage dealer.
- Stance of the Spirited Crane is a new ability for Mistweaver Monks, which replaces Stance of the Fierce Tiger, and provides the following effects.
The Spell-Power-to-Attack-Power conversion effect has been moved from Stance of the Wise Serpent to Stance of the Spirited Crane.
The Eminence effect has been moved from Stance of the Wise Serpent to Stance of the Spirited Crane.
Eminence now causes a nearby target to be healed for 35% of all damage caused by the Monk and includes auto attacks.
- The Monk's Attack Power is equal to 100% of their Spell Power, and they no longer benefit from other sources of Attack Power.
- Stance of the Wise Serpent no longer provides this benefit.
- The Monk gains Eminence, causing all damage dealt to also heal nearby allies.
- Eminence now causes a nearby target to be healed for 35% of all damage caused by the Monk and includes auto attacks.
- Stance of the Wise Serpent no longer provides this benefit.
- Haste reduces the global cooldown of the Monk's abilities.
- Crackling Jade Lightning channels 150% faster, generates 1 Chi each time it deals damage, but costs 300% more mana.
- Blackout Kicks grants Crane's Zeal, increasing Critical Strike chance by 20% for 20 seconds.
- Blackout Kick causes Eminence to heal 5 allies instead of 1, but heals for only 15% of damage dealt instead of 35%.
- The Monk gains a stack of Vital Mists for every Chi consumed. Vital Mists reduces the cast time and Mana cost of the next Surging Mist by 20% per stack up to a maximum of 5 stacks.
- Muscle Memory has been removed.
- Serpent's Zeal has been removed.
- Vital Mists has been removed.
- Mastery: Gift of the Serpent's Healing Spheres now scale with Spell Power instead of Attack Power.
Muscle Memory, Serpent's Zeal, and Vital Mists have been replaced with a new passive ability, Crane Style Techniques. Crane Style Techniques enhances several of the Monk's combat abilities while in Crane Stance.
- Rising Sun Kick is now available to Mistweaver and Windwalker Monks. However, it does not cause Mortal Wounds for Mistweavers.
The Windwalker passive ability, Combat Conditioning, Stance of the Fierce Tiger now causes Rising Sun Kick to cause Mortal Wounds, instead of it causing Mortal Wounds naturally.
The following abilities now require Stance of the Wise Serpent for Mistweavers:
- Enveloping Mist, Renewing Mist, Soothing Mist, Uplift
- The following abilities now require Stance of the Spirited Crane for Mistweavers:
- Blackout Kick, Jab, Rising Sun Kick, Tiger Palm
The above pasted text isn't the entirety of the monk section in the alpha patch notes, but it includes all the Monk changes for the current build. At this stage of the alpha, Blizzard is focusing heavily on the Mistweaver monk and balancing traditional healing play style with the Eminence healing-through-damage (aka "Fistweaving") play style. In order to better separate the two styles of play, Mistweaver monks will be getting a new stance: Stance of the Spirited Crane, which sets the monk's attack power at 100% of their spell power and gives them Eminence, and thus all the abilities associated with Eminence.
The changes are clearly stated to be an effort toward separating the two styles of Mistweaver healing. Blizzard does not want players to be able to overlap traditional healing with "Fistweaving" gameplay, and they've made it impossible to use the fundamental spells of each approach in the "wrong" stance. As a long time druid player, the balancing act Blizzard's attempting here reminds me very strongly of the efforts Blizzard went to over the years to separate bear-form tanking and cat-form melee DPS while they were both still rolled into the single Feral druid spec. In the end, the developers gave up entirely on that model and split those roles into two different specs. I can't help but wonder if monks might someday end up in the same place--how long might it be before Eminence ends up with its own fourth talent tree? Perhaps I'm completely wrong and the switch of stances will solve the balance issues Blizzard has perceived between the two Mistweaver styles. Still, I'm very interested to see where this will go. What do all of you think of the latest changes to the Monk?