WoW Mists of Pandaria Blizzard Update
Blizzard has recently updated the talent and specialization page for Monks. Lets take a look at how this new class fairs in the upcoming expansion of Mists of Pandaria.
The three specializations that Monks can take are the tanking Brewmaster spec, healing Mistweaver spec, and melee damage Windwalker spec. Similar to other classes Monks get different abilities and spells depending on what specialization they take. It's also safe to assume while all three specializations use the same talent tree they will probably end up not using the exact same build.
Tanks in Cataclysm have taken an important role in Rated Battlegrounds. Currently Protection Warriors are the dominant tanks and flag carriers and a must have in any RBG setup.
Zen Meditation is an ability that all Monks can pick up at level 82. This is a really strong ability, especially in Rated Battlegrounds. It essentially makes you act as a giant Grounding Totem for your entire group and makes them immune to spells for 8 seconds. The only weakness to this is that it's a channel ability and taking melee damage will stop the effect. I can imagine Brewmaster Monks not being focused as they're going to be a resilient target, and then running off somewhere safe around a corner and channeling Zen Meditation. This literally will let their team dominate for a full 8 seconds if left alone.
Clash is an ability that Brewmaster Monks can pick up at level 18. This is an ability that has the potential of stunning an entire group of people along with acting like a mini Death Grip. If used in the right way people in Rated Battlegrounds may have to make sure not to clump up when fighting Brewmaster Monks.
Besides these two abilities Brewmaster Monks can also summon statues that shield the raid, interrupt enemy casts, slow, heal and more. They also have several other abilities that helps them tank damage.
Comparing to a Protection Warrior however, it's hard to say if Monks will replace or at least compete with them for a spot in Rated Battlegrounds. Protection Warriors as we know has many escape mechanisms that makes the dominant as flag carriers. While monks will have Roll available to them, Warriors have abilities such as Heroic Leap, Intervene, and their baseline defensive abilities make them the best flag carriers in the current state of the game. Warriors, however are changing a little in Mists of Pandaria as well. We'll have to see at level 90 competitive battlegrounds how the game flows to know what will be the best flag carrier, but for now I believe warriors will continue to be the best.
Healers have always been an important role in almost all aspects of the game. Whether it's in PvE, Arena, or Rated Battlegrounds healers are a staple ingredient for success and group survival. They are important and have a spot no matter where the game stands.
Mistweaver is the healing specialization of Monks. One thing being different about Monks compared to other healers in general is that they have a 1 second global cooldown no matter what specialization they play. This includes the Mistweaver healing spec. Monks will be the only healer with a 1 second global cooldown.
Mistweaver Monks also have Zen Meditation. This is a strong ability no matter what PvP setting we get into if used correctly.
Currently on Mists of Pandaria Beta, Mistweaver Monks seems to have the best heals if left alone. The biggest weakness to them is the majority of their heals are channeled making them extremely vulnerable to interrupt abilities. They don't seem to have that opportunity to keep people alive with instants as Shamans and Priests have right now.
Dematerialize is one of the main abilities Mistweaver Monks will use to survive with. Killing Mistweaver Monks in stuns may be difficult with Dematerialize having a 10 second internal cooldown. It may be best to not stun them at all, as any stun you use is almost guaranteed to provide a strong immunity.
It's hard to say how Mistweavers will stand in PvP at the moment. They have a good distinct advantage with a lower global cooldown but their ability to survive and avoid crowd-controls seem a bit weak. The reliance on using some offensive abilities to generate chi as a healing spec might also throw a wrench into the delicate balance of Mistweaver Monks.
Damaging classes have been the majority of availible classes in most MMOs. In WoW: Mists of Pandaria, this trend continued. Windwalker is the damage specialization that Monks can take, modeled after a Kung-Fu oriented martial arts combat style.
Similar to the other two specializations Windwalker will have a 1 second global cooldown. Being able to perform 30 more abilities in a minute is an insane advantage for any PvP setting. Windwalkers also have Zen Meditation along with the other two specializations, so they may in a pinch easily save their teammates from enemy casters.
Rising Sun Kick is an ability similar to Mortal Strike. It essentially deals damage and places a debuff that reduces the effectiveness of all healing abilities on target. Monks along with several other classes have an ability similar to this. Having some kind of healing reduction ability has always been a strong bonus in any arena teams, as it makes any damage you do count for a lot more whenever the enemy healer has to outheal it. Having this ability as part of the primary rotation, due to the damage taken debuff makes Windwalker Monks a lot stronger. This ability, in addition with the 1 second global that all Monks have makes Windwalker Monks content to be a strong melee class.
Touch of Karma is another interesting PvP oriented ability that Windwalker Monks have. Players attacking Monks may have to "juke" their damage cooldowns by forcing the monk to use Touch of Karma first. That is, unless they want to risk killing themselves!
Some of the most important things to a damage specialization in the end however is damage. Be it burst damage or consistent damage, top tier PvP classes have always been strong in at least one of the damage categories.
I haven't been able to fully understand the damage potential of Windwalker Monks yet as players haven't gotten familiarized with the rotations and gameplay in PvP. In Random Battlegrounds they seem to do a decent amount of consistent damage to me, but they lack high burst. It'll be interesting to see how level 90 PvP gear will affect their damage scaling and what will happen once more top end players get to play around with Monks and really figure out how to play them in a PvP setting. Of course, we all want Monks to become a strong alternative to all the other classes and specs but we want to make sure that they don't turn out to be another Season 5 Death Knight type of class, capable of overcoming whole 3v3 teams by themselves!