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BlizzCon 2011: Early monk abilities and the dark side of the force

Dan O'Halloran

I was able to sit down at the Pandaria demo stations at BlizzCon 2011 over the weekend and play a Pandaren monk two times in a row. (It was a short line.) I came away with the impression that the monk class may be one of the most interesting and dynamic classes to play in the game. Similar to the death knight, there is more than one resource to manage, and it makes the class enjoyable and engaging.

This is how it works. The basics are very similar to playing a rogue except that there is (currently) no auto-attack. You have a bar of chi that mimics the rogue energy bar. You also have a bar with slots for four light orbs and four dark orbs. The basic level 1 attack, Jab, consumes 40 chi (out of 100) with every shot and grants you both a light orb and a dark orb.

Also at level 1, you get an attack that consumes one light orb that does twice the damage of Jab. If the target is over 50% health, it inflicts three times the damage of Jab. At level 2, you get a kick that inflicts three times the damage of Jab and consumes two dark orbs but returns one if the kick kills the opponent.

So your basic attack sequence becomes: Jab a few times to build up orbs and spend chi, then use the light orb attack while the mob is over 50% health, then one or two dark side kicks to finish them off. Another variation is build up orbs using Jab on an easy opponent, then approach a new enemy and unleash your high-damage, orb-only attacks one after another. The mob will drop like a rock.

Level 3 grants you a fast, forward roll ability which is great for getting to the mob faster, though it will cost you chi. Level 5 grants you a flying kick attack similar to feral druid Pounce including the stun component. So now you can close with enemies quickly and stun them for a few seconds, allowing you to use Jab to build up orbs. By the time the stun wears off, you should have enough orbs to unleash your higher-damage attacks. The flying kick ability costs no chi but is on a 30-second cooldown.

Some people have been concerned about no auto-attack in all this, but I barely noticed. By the time multiple Jabs drained your chi, you have plenty of orbs for high-damage attacks. When you run out of those, your chi will have regenerated.

Though I only got to level 5, I found the class fun to play and look forward to seeing what other abilities the monk gets at higher levels. For more on the Pandaria new player experience, check out Joe Perez's impressions from Friday.

The news is out -- we'll be playing Mists of Pandaria! Find out what's in store with an all-new talent system, peek over our shoulder at our Pandaren hands-on, and get ready to battle your companion pets against others. It's all here right at WoW Insider!

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