They’re finally here! After plenty of alpha and beta time with minimal changes outside of making up for lost artifact traits (more on those here), Brewmaster has received some rather substantial adjustments.

What’s Changed:

  • Guard is back! This ability makes a welcome return in the level 100 talent row, replacing Elusive Dance. This ability is ON the global cooldown and lasts for 15 seconds or until the absorb is consumed.
  • Spitfire, a talent first discussed back in 7.2.5’s development when Brewmasters were being tinkered with, now makes an official appearance in the level 45 talent row and replaces Gift of the Mists. It even comes with its own aura by Blizzard.
  • The base cooldown on Ironskin Brew/Purifying Brew (ISB/PB) has been changed from 16 seconds to 14, before haste.
  • Ironskin Brew‘s duration has increased from six seconds to seven. This also increases the duration cap from 18 seconds to 21.
  • Black Ox Brew‘s (BOB) cooldown has been increased to two minutes (up from a minute and a half)
  • Blackout Combo no longer has an interaction with Purifying Brew.
  • Magic damage is now staggered at 35%, up from 25%.
  • Gift of the Ox (GoTO) has been buffed from 115% of attack power to 150% of attack power in healing per orb.
  • Vivify has been buffed again (from 105% of attack power to 120%).
  • Max hp has been reduced by 10%.
  • The Guard Honor Talent has been renamed to Avert Harm.

Spitfire‘s new aura on proc

Welcome back, old friend (Guard)

What Does It Mean? Feelycraft

On paper, all of these changes should help to shore up the biggest hardship Brewmaster has been facing in Battle for Azeroth. Brew generation has been a struggle until today, with players more or less being forced to take High Tolerance to maintain 100% uptime on Ironskin Brew. Even then, it was incredibly difficult to spare anything extra for purifying. Now, with Ironskin brew‘s recharge at 14 seconds (at 0% haste) and a seven second duration, some early napkin math shows Brewmaster only needing around 13% haste, before accounting for any talents, to maintain full ISB uptime with perfect play; anything beyond that can (presumably) go into more purifies. This ties into the viability of our new talent Spitfire. Since more Breath of Fire DoT uptime isn’t particularly necessary–we have 80% by default–and it doesn’t help reduce the recharge on our brews, Spitfire will remain a talent chosen purely for damage, unless we won’t have enough energy regen to make up for losing Black Ox Brew. That being said, the ability to reset the cooldown on Breath of Fire without having access to Sal’Salabim’s Lost Tunic means that the honor talent Incendiary Breath is viable again for those of you that may want to opt in for War Mode. As for the longer cooldown on BoB, this will realistically translate to only an extra 15-18 seconds due to our cooldown reduction in the rotation itself.

For the more minor tuning changes like GoTO, more self healing is always welcome, even if it remains relatively minor in our overall survivability. Losing 10% max hp also ties into that idea, as our orbs are spawned based on how much damage we have taken compared to our max hp. Vivify being buffed yet again will only apply to healing out of combat as it usually does (barring some unusual circumstances like, perhaps, the Avatar of Sethraliss) That being said, the 10% extra magic damage staggered could end up being particularly relevant as the expansion goes on and the damage we receive grows more massive.

Finally, the most anticipated change, Guard 2.0. The idea of this talent is a fantastic one: so long as the absorb holds, any damage that would have gone into stagger instead counts against the absorb’s value. If you already have stagger in your pool when casting it, your stagger will drain away as it normally does and will not drain from Guard. However, it’s important to remember that Guard only works against the staggered portion of the damage. The unstaggered portion will damage you as it usually would. What’s really impressive, though, is that Guard interacts with nearly every secondary stat; agility and Mastery both add to the shield by increasing attack power, as does versatility. Even critical strike chance directly buffs the absorb size through Celestial Fortune. As such, over time this talent should only become stronger. However, in its first deployment, Guard may be fairly undertuned. On average, the shield is roughly equal to 22-25% of a player’s max hp and gets utterly demolished within a second against even heroic dungeon trash (or a single swing from a raid boss). If this level of tuning is intended, it could very well be that players wouldn’t want to have Ironskin Brew active while using Guard to help it last longer from less damage being staggered; but why have the talent at all if optimal use requires dropping our main source of damage smoothing? For now, it seems the expected use would be in areas of low, persistent stagger, although that would generally be easier content and thus using Blackout Combo for more damage would be expected instead. On the whole, this talent may need a bit of iteration to help flesh out its identity, and tuning will largely determine where and when it’s actually useful.

Overall, the quality of life improvement and general buffs to brew generation are greatly welcome, as is the inclusion of new talents to bolster Brewmaster dps and defensiveness. We’ll just have to see if tuning makes those talents worthwhile in the end.

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