Brewmaster Azerite Traits
Welcome to PeakofSerenity’s Brewmaster Monk Azerite Guide. This guide is intended to both introduce the basics of Azerite Traits and explain the value of the various traits available to Brewmaster Monks. Navigate quickly to the section you need using the sidebar on the right.
This guide has been updated for Patch 8.1 (as of December 8th) and is regularly updated when discussion, theorycrafting, or testing yields new information.
What Are Azerite Traits?
Azerite Traits are effects attached to certain pieces of gear in Battle for Azeroth content in place of secondary stats. They fill a very similar role to that of Legion‘s Artifact Traits or tier bonuses from prior expansions: small effects that interact to provide a large impact. You can find these traits on gear in the Head, Shoulder, and Chest slots. Each drops with a predefined set of 3 or 4 rows of traits, with more rows found on items from Mythic dungeons, Emissaries, and all difficulties of raids.
You can have multiple copies of each trait, and multiple copies will stack (with some notable exceptions). However, unlike the Netherlight Crucible’s random effect on which traits are available, which allowed for some silly setups with 3 extra ranks on ideal traits in a perfect setup, Azerite pieces have fixed traits. That said: these traits do scale with item level, so there isn’t a “Best-in-Slot” list so much as a “Traits to Look For” list. You may get a piece that has “bad” traits, but which is better due to item level.
In this section, we are going to recommend some builds to go for for different kinds of content. These lists do not have items, and are not BiS lists! Item level is extremely important to the power of most traits, and often a higher-ilvl “bad” trait is worth more than a low-ilvl “good” trait. These are simply targets to help you target your bonus rolls and residuum purchases. Detailed descriptions of traits are in the next section.
Note that a trait not being listed here does not make it bad. If we listed every usable trait for every build, this document would be completely illegible. We have many perfectly usable traits that happen to be just shy of the power given by those listed here.
Once you start obtaining gear with 4 rows of traits, you’ll have greater flexibility with your trait choices. ToN is one of our only top-tier traits that doesn’t lose value from multiple copies, and should be your first pick after SnC most of the time. That said, BB and EF are both valuable talents in their own right, but do not stack defensively and cannot compete with generic traits for damage, so you should avoid taking a 2nd copy of either.
Keep an eye on this space, as we have not had the opportunity to do extensive testing of traits going into Battle for Dazar’alor.
Healing in Mythic+ is much more constrained than in a raid environment. Additionally, there is substantially more magic damage in BFA dungeons than Uldir. These factors increase the value of traits that grant additional healing, like BB, AV, and IV. For this reason, if you have a choice between Gemhide and IV, it is generally recommended to choose IV for Mythic+. Note that more copies of AV increase the odds that you hit the 100% HP breakpoint and lose the HoT, so having 3 copies is likely to be worse than having 2.
An honorable mention goes to Archive. You do not lose stacks immediately on leaving combat, so after your first pull you will spend most of the dungeon at around 20 stacks, making this a substantial Agility bonus. However, Agility is not very good defensively so this should be considered an offensive option.
Lastly, it is generally recommended to avoid LM in Mythic+. While it has purportedly been fixed, we still frequently receive reports of it pulling packs and breaking CC. The damage it deals is not worth the risk, and neither is the healing.
Among these, you should always use at least one piece giving LM or Archive to turn on RA, regardless of item level. The amount of secondaries that RA gives is so large that no amount of ilvl obtainable right now will be worth dropping it.
You will notice that all of these traits either grant Armor or Mastery. Uldir has heavy physical damage, and melees are a substantial part of that. Thus, traits that give either are very powerful. Aside from LM/Archive, your best traits are the first copy of SnC and then copies of Gemhide.
Outer Rows: 6x Generic Traits
General Row: 3x Generic Traits
Defensive Row: There are no DPS traits on this row
The damage given by our spec-specific traits is usually negligible compared to that of generic traits on both rows. If you want to maximize your damage, you should sim yourself. Trait damage is dominated by ilvl, so we cannot give universal advice for how good a trait is for DPS. Bloodmallet maintains a list of the current top-simming traits for each spec, which can be used to identify bonus-roll and residuum targets.
The bulk of this document is devoted to The Brewmaster Trait Compendium, which details the results of analysis & testing on the majority of traits we’ll be interested in along with a rating.
Note that many traits that only give damage or secondary stats are not included here, because they are best evaluated via simulations. There are good traits that are not listed here, they simply don’t provide defensive power.
Our rating scale is:
- Seek out. This trait is top-tier. Unlikely to replace except with either another top-tier trait or a large ilvl upgrade.
- Fine. This trait is totally fine. Not the best, but you won’t be unhappy about taking it.
- Skip. Traits that simply aren’t good. Unlike the previous tier, you will probably be pretty unhappy with these.
- Special. Traits that operate on a different axis or are otherwise noteworthy, but that we can’t (or won’t) give one of the other ratings.
SnC (New in 8.1)
Straight, No Chaser (SnC) provides a reasonable armor buff while ISB is active, and gives each cast of ISB a chance to refund a brew. Although only the first copy gives the chance to refund a brew, the armor bonus is good enough to use the trait on its own so you will never mind having extra copies. Your first copy of this trait is hands-down the best you can get, and it is worth saving bonus rolls to target pieces that grant it.
Verdict: Seek out. Having one copy of this trait is exceptionally powerful. You won’t mind having 2-3 copies either.
Boiling Brew (BB) provides a bonus to Breath of Fire damage, and gives the dot effect a small chance to spawn a Healing Sphere. While the damage is lackluster on single-target encounters, the healing is not. Note thath the number of orbs spawned does not increase with multiple copies of the trait. The defensive value thus caps at the first copy of the trait.
Verdict: Seek out. Having one copy of this trait is very good, especially in Mythic+.
Elusive Footwork (EF) provides a large damage boost to Blackout Strike and causes its critical strikes to give an extra stack of Mastery: Elusive Brawler. The single-target DPS provided by this trait is generally lower than a generic trait. While the defensive component does not scale with ilvl or multiple copies, it remains very powerful because it effectively scales with the rest of your gear. Note that this trait generally provides lower effective dodge than ToN, which gives Mastery directly.
Verdict: Seek out. Having one copy of this trait is very good when you aren’t being hit by multiple enemies.
Training of Niuzao (ToN) increases our Mastery: Elusive Brawler depending on our current level of Stagger. Specifically: it gives 1/3 of the maximum value at Light Stagger, 2/3 at Moderate Stagger, and the full value at Heavy Stagger. This trait is very strong for mitigating melee attacks and has a minimal DPS upside. This strength only grows as damage increases, meaning that it will be one of the best choices for high-level Mythic content.
Verdict: Seek out. Our best trait for mitigating melee attacks, but of limited use on other kinds of damage.
Fit to Burst (FtB) causes your next 3 melee abilities after a Purifying Brew to heal you for a small amount. This trait is worse defensively than your first copy of either BB or EF, but is otherwise quite good and a strong choice for your 3rd trait. It does have a minor positioning requirement in that you need to be in melee range for all 3 hits, but this should rarely be a problem in practice.
Verdict: Fine. This trait is a solid choice that will fill out the 3rd (and even 2nd) Azerite slot on many Brewmaster’s gear.
Staggering Strikes (SS) causes your Blackout Strike to remove a small amount of damage from your Stagger pool. While this effect does nothing if you have no stagger, this is such a rare occurrence that it doesn’t impact the value of the trait. This trait is on par with FtB at low ilvls and only slightly worse at 340 and above.
Note: there is a common misconception that this trait removes an amount of damage from each tick. This is incorrect! The damage is removed from the total Stagger pool, which will translate into removing 1/20th of the damage from each individual tick.
Verdict: Fine. This trait is a solid choice that will fill out the 3rd (and even 2nd) Azerite slot on many Brewmaster’s gear.
Bonded Souls (BS) grants a proc on damage taken that heals you and another nearby target over 15s, additionally granting a decent amount of haste for the duration. While we’re not terribly interested in the haste, your cotank might be. Nevertheless, the HPS here is solid and makes this trait worth considering.
Verdict: Fine. While not exciting, this trait provides a reasonable defensive bonus.
Pressure Point (PP) is a Windwalker trait that provides a small damage boost to Tiger Palm, along with a secondary effect that has no impact on Brewmasters. Currently, this trait works while in Brewmaster spec and has its damage increased by Blackout Combo. The damage provided when running BoC in a single-target scenario is better than any Brewmaster-specific trait, and unlike with the venerable Legion-era trait Face Palm this trait doesn’t force us to forego valuable traits on rows 2 and 3. If you do not run Blackout Combo, then this trait does not provide good DPS. Further, unless you manage to have three high-level PP pieces, it is unlikely to outperform the damage given by generic traits coupled with HT in a raid environment on Heroic or higher.
Verdict: Special. Great for single-target DPS currently, but much worse as soon as you switch off of BoC.
Crystalline Carapace (CC) grants a small amount of bonus armor when hit for more than 10% of your max HP, and has a small thorns-like effect tied to it. The damage is generally quite low and not going to make a significant contribution to your DPS. The armor given is is reasonable, and due to the interaction this trait has with Stagger (that is: it counts pre-Stagger damage, and will virtually always trigger due to our low maximum HP) it provides a very consistent bonus.
Verdict: Seek out. This trait is very good defensively, even if it feels like a strictly-worse Gemhide.
Azerite Veins (AV) has a chance to grant a large heal-over-time effect whenever you take damage (roughly once per minute), with the caveat that if you reach full health the HoT immediately expires. However, even if you only get about half the effect on average this trait is still quite good. If you are taking enough constant damage (e.g. from Stagger) to get most of the duration, this trait is beyond excellent. After testing, this does not appear to be a common occurrence in Heroic Uldir, but can provide solid emergency healing in Mythic+.
Verdict: Seek out. This trait is not very good in a raid environment, but is valuable in Mythic+.
Winds of War (WoW) grants a small amount of Dodge Rating when hit, stacking up to 5 times. The buff for this lasts only 3 seconds, but most bosses have swing timers between 1.5 and 2.5 seconds long. Thus, most bosses should keep this stacked relatively high. This trait is very good against high melee damage, but sub-par against any other damage type.
Verdict: Fine. An excellent choice for mitigating melee damage, but of no value outside of this.
Ablative Shielding (AS) grants a guaranteed amount of armor each time you fall below 40%, which is then reduced each time you are hit while the buff lasts, with a cooldown of 30 seconds. The trigger for this effect functions much like the Legion-era Obstinate Determination: it triggers every time you cross the 40% threshold, but will not trigger if you are already below 40% and take further damage. While this trait will not mitigate most tankbuster abilities, it will help stabilize after you are hit by one.
Verdict: Fine. A solid choice that helps stabilize after large hits.
Blood Siphon provides Mastery, and a negligible amount of Leech. This is functionally a stat-stick, and totally fine as a defensive choice—especially when the other traits on a piece are not very good.
Verdict: Fine. A simple stat boost, but an effective one.
Shimmering Haven (SH) grants a proc that has a chance to give bonus HP and armor for 10 sec when you take damage. However, the low uptime on this trait means that this armor bonus pales in defensive value compared to other available traits. Further, when it procs the bonus is tied to a fixed location, so any forced movement undercuts the value of this trait even more.
Verdict: Skip. This trait only provides a defensive value, and that value is not very good.
Gemhide (GH) provides Armor plus Avoidance whenever you take more than 10% of your HP in one hit. However, this trait looks at pre-Stagger damage, meaning that we will see very high uptime on the Armor bonus. This trait is one of our best for mitigating Physical damage.
Verdict: Seek out. This is our best trait for mitigating Physical damage.
Impassive Visage (IV) provides a small, guaranteed heal after you’ve taken damage with a 6 second cooldown. If you can proc it every 6 seconds, it is exceptional. This trait procs on Stagger. While the cooldown keeps it in line, having a guaranteed near-perfect proc uptime makes this trait exceptionally strong for Brewmasters.
Verdict: Seek out. This trait provides excellent healing over the course of a fight, buoyed by its interaction with Stagger.
Bulwark of the Masses (BotM) provides an absorb shield when you are surrounded by 4 or more enemies on a 15 second cooldown. This trait is on-par with Boiling Brew defensively as long as the condition holds, but notably scales with multiple copies. Altogether, this trait is a solid option for Mythic+.
Verdict: Fine. This trait is not very good in a raid environment, but is valuable in Mythic+.
Resounding Protection (RP) provides a small absorb for 30 sec every 30 sec. This trait is a very straightforward reduction to healing required, but does relatively little on average. If you are frequently dealing with multiple enemies, BotM fills this role better.
Verdict: Fine. A serviceable HPS boost, but nothing exciting.
Strength of Spirit (SoS) heals you for a small amount every second while Fortifying Brew is active. While this trait may save you on occasion, the healing amount is quite small compared to the 200k (or more) HP that you will have. If there is a specific strategy where you need to solo a mechanic with Fortifying Brew, it may find niche use. Outside of that, SoS is not a good trait.
Verdict: Skip. You should never take this trait.
Vampiric Speed (VS) provides a heal and burst of speed when an enemy you harmed dies. It is great while leveling and doing world quests, and occasionally on Mythic+ pulls with many small enemies grouped together with a few powerful enemies. It also will infrequently trigger off of things that aren’t visibly NPCs. For example: it triggered off of the mushrooms in the last phase of G’huun for much of the tier (this has since been fixed). It is primarily mentioned for this reason.
Verdict: Special. Rarely valuable in end-game content, but worth keeping in mind for potential silliness in raid encounters.
Frequently Asked Questions
What about healer traits?
Although healer traits like BP do proc off of Celestial Fortune and Gift of the Ox, they simply don’t provide enough healing compared to the defensive power of other traits. This is partly because healer traits benefit from being applied to multiple targets, which we cannot do effectively.
Does this trait stack?
How is <insert DPS trait>?
If you want to maximize your damage, you should sim yourself. Trait damage is dominated by ilvl, so we cannot give universal advice for how good a trait is for DPS. Bloodmallet maintains a list of the current top-simming traits for each spec, which can be used to identify bonus-roll and residuum targets.