The Shadowlands Prepatch: Staggering 9.0

Whether we wanted it or not, Patch 9.0.2, the Shadowlands Prepatch, has arrived and it is loaded with plenty of class and systems adjustments to discuss. Rather than overwhelm everyone with a massive list, this page will instead break down the changes into groups related to both Brewmaster monks and the game as a whole. If at any point there is a section you are really after, the Sidebar can offer easy navigation. There will also be a number of fresh articles breaking down some of the biggest offerings of the Shadowlands as its murky launch date approaches some time in the future. Until then, let us dive into what is new and available on October 13th!


Ability/Talent Changes

Note that the following changes apply to what is available to a level 50 character in the Shadowlands Prepatch. There are additional spell effects that will be learned once the Shadowlands are breached. You will have to wait a little longer to use to use Clash again.

General

  • Player levels and stats have been squished, with level 120 characters from Battle for Azeroth now being level 50; the Level cap in Shadowlands will be level 60.
  • Massive overhaul of player customization for all races, including in-game gender swapping. See your local in-game barber to try them out!
  • Allied Races can now be unlocked without any reputation requirements.
  • Transmog restrictions on artifact weapons have been lifted for weapons in one’s class. This means Brewmasters can now use the appearances of Sheilun, Staff of the Mists or the Fists of the Heavens, with some restrictions. For more information, see the pins of our Discord server’s #mogmymonk channel.
  • Brewmaster Monks can once again dual wield and may choose between swords, axes, maces, and fist weapons for either hand.
  • There is now a variance of 5% on most abilities that are not DoTs or HoTs. For example, if Tiger Palm previously hit for 100 damage, it will now hit for 97.5-102.5 instead.
  • Many abilities have received target caps in AoE.

Abilities

  • Ironskin Brew has been removed.
  • Fortifying Brew cooldown is now 6 minutes (down from 7).
  • Mastery:Elusive Brawler has received a new icon. It is otherwise unchanged.
  • New AbilityTouch of Death—Now available to all Monk specializations. Instantly kill any target whose current Health is lower than your maximum Health. Stronger enemies and players resist this effect, instead receiving 35% of your Maximum Health as damage if cast while they are below 15% of their Maximum Health.
  • New PassiveShuffle—Functions identically to Ironskin Brew (ISB), but is passively applied by using Keg Smash, Blackout Kick, and Spinning Crane Kick. Buff duration capped at 15 seconds. Like ISB, you should easily achieve 100% uptime with proper play.
  • Blackout Strike has been replaced with Blackout Kick and its cooldown is now 4 seconds, unhastened (up from 3). Also grants 3 seconds of Shuffle when cast.
  • Keg Smash now deals reduced damage after hitting more than 5 targets in a single cast and reduces Brew cooldowns by 3 seconds (was 4). Also grants 5 seconds of Shuffle when cast.
  • New AbilitySpinning Crane Kick—25 Energy. Deal damage over 1.5 seconds to up to 6 targets, hastened. In addition, gain 0.5 seconds of Shuffle per target hit, per tick of damage. You can still dodge and parry while channeling this ability.
  • New AbilityCelestial Brew—Create an absorb shield for (60% of attack power*1+versatility%*1+crit%) that lasts for 8-seconds and absorbs all damage. One-minute cooldown, reduced by Keg Smash and Tiger Palm. Absorb size can be further increased to up to three times its original size based on how much Stagger damage you have recently removed with Purifying Brew.
  • Purifying Brew now only has 2 charges on a 20-second recharge, hastened (was 3 charges, 15-second recharge). No longer shares charges with another ability. Increases the size of your next Celestial Brew by providing stacks of Purified Chi when used. One stack is given for clearing Light Stagger, two stacks for Moderate Stagger, and three for Heavy Stagger, capping out at 10 stacks. Stacks last for 15 seconds.
  • New AbilityInvoke Niuzao, the Black Ox—Functions identically to the old talent, but can no longer taunt. 3-minute cooldown, 25-second duration.
  • Leg Sweep‘s range has been increased to 6 yards (up from 5).
  • Expel Harm now also provides a baseline heal of 120% Spell power and gained a 5-second cooldown.

 

Talents

The Brewmaster talent page in Battle for AzerothThe Brewmaster Monk talent page in Shadowlands

 

 

 

 

 

  • Light Brewing now reduces the cooldown of Purifying Brew and Celestial Brew by 20%. It no longer provides an additional charge of Purifying Brew.
  • Black Ox Brew now also resets the cooldown of Celestial Brew.
  • Special Delivery now also activates from Celestial Brew, Fortifying Brew, and Black Ox Brew. Its damage does not have a target cap.
  • Rushing Jade Wind now deals damage to up to 6 targets.
  • New TalentExploding Keg—Identical to the Legion artifact ability, but with a worse animation. Throw a flaming keg at your enemies, causing all those struck to deal 99% reduced damage with their melee attacks for the next 3 seconds. The in-game tooltip is a lie.
  • Guard has been removed.
  • New TalentCelestial Flames—Using a Brew ability has a 30% chance to provide you with a buff for 6 seconds. While this buff is present, using Spinning Crane Kick will also apply the Breath of Fire DoT effect to all those hit and this Breath of Fire will reduce damage taken by 10% versus the usual 5%. Currently bugged; this new Breath of Fire overwrites the normal one and only provides 4% damage reduction. Use at your own risk until fixed during the Shadowlands Prepatch.
  • Blackout Combo‘s Stagger pause interaction is now tied to Celestial Brew.

Target Caps in Shadowlands

While poring over the list of ability changes, you may have noticed that some abilities now have target caps. Keg Smash, for example, states “Deals reduced damage beyond 5 targets.” on its tooltip while Rushing Jade Wind says “up to 6 targets”. Some abilities, like Breath of Fire or Special Delivery, mention neither of them, but does it mean one is not there? This can be a bit inconsistent in the Shadowlands Prepatch, but in general there are three types of target cap to look for: Linear, Logarithmic, and Square Root. Fortunately, there are hints about what type of cap an ability uses. That being said, the following information is not necessary to know if you just want to follow a set rotation. Feel free to skip ahead if you like.

Linear

Linear target caps are the most common, worded on abilities with the clear line of “up to 6 targets”. As the name implies, your ability with effectively deal double its total damage if it hits two targets, triple for three, etc. However, once past 6 targets, the damage is hard-capped and the ability itself will not hit more than 6 at a time. For abilities with multiple hits, like Rushing Jade Wind, damage will be dealt to your main target and the 5 enemies closest to them. This happens every single damage “tick”.

Logarithmic

Logarithmic target cap abilities more rare and phrased as “Deals reduced damage beyond 5 targets”. Keg Smash is currently the only ability in the Brewmaster toolkit using this target cap. Fortunately, this cap is also the most desirable. You otherwise often see it on certain tank AoE abilities and other long cooldowns.

Square Root

Square Root is the rarest form of target cap, and with good reason. This type of target cap does not have consistent wording on the abilities that use it. It also results in the sharpest decrease in total damage per additional target. At the moment, Breath of Fire is the only ability on a Brewmaster using this style of cap. Due to these inconsistencies and general bad feeling on the abilities it applies to, there is a chance this type of target cap is removed at some point during the Shadowlands Prepatch. As a not-so-fun fact, Keg Smash was using this scaling for much of the Shadowlands Alpha and Beta, only recently switching to Logarithmic.

Putting it all together, you can see how the different types of target capping work below for Brewmasters up to 10 targets, or you can view the full graph to 20 targets here.

A graph depicting how target caps interact in World of Warcraft: Shadowlands

 

To explain, the X-axis represents the number of targets being attacked, and the Y-axis represents the equivalent amount of damage you have dealt with an ability based on its target cap. The ability labels are there to remind you about which ability uses that type of target cap. A Spinning Crane Kick hitting 6 targets does not actually do more damage than a Keg Smash hitting 6. Rather, it is doing 6 times its normal damage while Keg Smash is doing roughly 5.6 times its normal amount.

For the most part, you can ignore target caps and still play just fine. Hopefully though, this quick overview will allow you to start recognizing them in ability tooltips and understand how some of them fit into an AoE rotation on your own.

Gear/Loot/Achievements

Though the Battle for Azeroth may be coming to a close, The Heart of Azeroth along with its Azerite traits and Essences will not fizzle out. Instead, you may continue to utilize the titan’s power on your Brewmaster or any other character during the Shadowlands Prepatch. If you would like, you can still continue to level up the Heart of Azeroth as well. However, one major gearing decision that is gone is Corruption. All Corruption effects on items are disabled. Horrific Visions still exist as a piece of content that can be run, and sockets applied by the Gouged Eye of N’zoth still work. You can even continue to add sockets to items from patch 8.3 during this time.

An item in World of Warcraft with its Corruption effect disabled.

Not so devastating now.

Further Squish

As mentioned before, the Shadowlands Prepatch has also brought with it another stat squish. To give an idea of how extreme this is, a Mythic Ny’alotha-geared player has likely gone from roughly item level 480 to 135. This is equivalent to the gear rewarded to a Level 58 character that is questing in the Shadowlands. The Heart of Azeroth and Ashjra’kamas, Shroud of Resolve remain a slightly higher item level, but will similarly be replaced shortly after leveling is finished. In addition, so long as your Brewmaster or any other character are within the Shadowlands, both Azerite traits and essences will be disabled. You are on your own for leveling.

Secondary Stat Diminishing Returns

In addition to having fewer stats to begin with, secondaries now experience their own diminishing returns in the Shadowlands Prepatch. If you reach more than 30% in a secondary, going from 30-31% will require more than going from 29-30%. This effect ramps up slowly, however. It also only applies to actual stats, not raw percentage boosts like the Haste provided by High Tolerance or Bloodlust. That being said, Brewmasters in particular might run into these diminishing returns a little bit during this Prepatch time. Since it was common to stack Versatility with the Versatile Corruption in Patch 8.3, it is very possible to be at over 30% Versatility, or roughly 366 post-squish. However, once in the Shadowlands and at level 60, this slight problem will take care of itself. Until then, do not get too worried. Most of the time, you will not notice it.

If you would like to learn more about the exact breakpoints of this new stats mechanic, check out Wowhead’s guide on the matter. Link.

Cosmetic Rewards

Did you not yet earn your Ny’alotha Allseer or Glacial Tidestorm? If you have not, there is still time! During the Shadowlands Prepatch both are still available at a 100% drop rate from N’zoth and Jaina, respectively. However, Ahead of the Curve and Cutting Edge achievements are no longer obtainable. In addition, any rank 4 essence rewards or “prestige” cosmetics such as the Awakened Mindborer from achieving Battle for Azeroth Keystone Master: Season Four are no longer available. But, if you like, you may continue to run Mythic+ or PvP for gear on your Brewmaster. There will also be catchup gear available from the Scourge Invasion event later in the Prepatch.

Conclusion

Overall, the Shadowlands Prepatch does not offer a lot to really sample just yet. The Scourge Invasion pre-release event will not happen until the release date of Shadowlands is revealed again. However, this is a great time to experiment with the new character customization, a revamped leveling experience, or to unlock a new Allied Race! The pressure of getting Cutting Edge, Keystone Master, or pushing your PvP rating is gone, so why not mess around? Go try a wacky build, see if you can get Celestial Flames to work—or yell at Blizzard to fix it faster. Just remember, what you are seeing on your Brewmaster or any other character is only a piece of the big picture.

Coming soon, both in-game and in-Peak, there will be Legendaries, Covenants, and Soulbinds to discuss. There is also the matter of the eight new dungeons and Castle Nathria. But until then, enjoy yourself and get ready to dive into the Shadowlands later this year!


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