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WoW Mists of Pandaria: In-Depth Look at the Monk Talent Tree

/ Jul 14th, 2012 No Comments

Mists of Pandaria - Monk Talent Tree

Mists of Pandaria - Monk Talent Tree

Mists of Pandaria – Monk Talent Tree

In the upcoming World of WarCraft expansion, Mists of Pandaria, there’s a new class of character known as the Monk. In this article, we’ll outline the Monk talent tree and give you a look at this new playable character type. Having spent more time with the monk talents, this week I will take on the monk talent tree, assessing each ability and the overall balance of each tier.

I Like to Move It

The first tier talents (available at 15) focus on mobility. Celerity reduces the cooldown on roll and increases the number of roll “charges” by one. I’ve found that in practice, this talent basically guarantees the player will have roll available in 95% of situations. Tiger’s Lust is a targetable spell with a 30 second cooldown that costs 1 chi removes all immobilizing and slowing effects from the target and further increases the target’s speed by 70% for six seconds. Players always love “oh sh—“ abilities, and Tiger’s Lust certainly delivers. The speed buff alone could become a tool for getting slow players out of deadly-ground-stuff before they die. The last talent at this tier, Momentum, increases movement speed by 25% for 10 seconds every time you roll. This effect can stack twice, and it resets the duration when you apply the second stack. Obviously, this talent exchanges almost constant uptime for a boost in effectiveness. This talent seems to split the difference between Celerity and Tiger’s Lust, offering a bit more reliably available emergency move in exchange for less power.

This tier feels balanced in respect to PvP and PvE. The question each player should ask when picking a talent from this tier is “do I want a little more mobility all the time, mobility in emergencies, or something in the middle?”

Two Sides of the Same Coin

[adsense250itp]The second tier talents (available at 30) grant ranged abilities that damage and heal. Chi Wave has a 40 yard range and behaves like chain lightning when targeted at a foe and like chain heal when targeted at an ally. The eight second cooldown prevents Chi Wave from becoming a bread-and-butter attack or heal, but an instant chain lightning/heal benefits the ranged-deprived monks well. Zen Sphere has a 40 yard range and creates a sphere (no kidding) that heals its target while damaging all nearby enemies every couple seconds. Casting the spell again while an orb is active detonates it, turning the spell into essentially a powerful Holy Nova. This spell has the most complicated mechanics of the three, but also perhaps the greatest versatility. Tanks can use it on themselves for survivability and threat, healers can get two instant heals out of it, and dps can milk a little more AoE dps while they spin like madmen. Chi Burst is a one second cast that shoots a healing/damaging wave that affects everything in its path, including the caster, to a target 40 yards or less away. The move has high potential healing and damage, but requires an excellent sense of awareness. Even then, a last second Disengage or Blink can totally ruin the line of effect.

The second tier offers some versatile abilities with a range of differing mechanics, but the balance could use some work. Chi Burst needs too much effort to use, and I could see Zen Sphere or Chi Wave becoming an important part of a windwalker’s AoE rotation. Especially since all three attacks have the same cost of two Chi, the relative power and utility of each move needs to end up almost equal.

The Energizer Panda

The Monk Zen Sphere

The Monk Zen Sphere

The third tier (available at 45) offers abilities affecting Chi generation. Power Strikes is a passive that makes Jab give an extra Chi, but with a 20-second cooldown. If already at full Chi, a Chi orb appears near next to the monk that they can pick up to get an extra Chi later. Jab should work into every monk’s rotation, but since Jab requires melee range, Power Strikes effectively becomes worthless at a distance. In contrast to the relatively complex mechanics of Power Strikes, Ascension just increases maximum Chi by one. That’s it. Nevertheless, anyone that desires increased burst or finds themselves constantly hitting max Chi will like Ascension. Chi Brew keeps it simple as well: a 1.5 minute cooldown that gives the caster full Chi. The increased burst damage and healing potential of this ability speaks for itself.

Overall, this tier seems like a retread of tier one except applied to Chi generation instead of mobility. One ability (Power Strike) offers more reliability in exchange for emergency utility, another (Chi Brew) offers the opposite, and the last (Ascension) splits the difference. Likewise, the third tier shares the good balance of the first. Choice should end up more a matter of preference than theorycrafting.

Quite Stunning

The fourth tier (available at 60) focuses on abilities that stun or incapacitate enemies. Deadly Reach adds a 20 yard range to Paralysis, a core monk ability that incapacitates enemies for 30 seconds or one minute if used from behind them. Monks need all the ranged moves they can find for PvP, and a ranged incapacitate especially helps windwalkers or brewmasters trying to close on an enemy. The crowd control potential gives Deadly Reach some solid utility in PvE situations as well. The second ability on the tier, Charging Ox Wave, is a one minute cooldown that stuns all enemies within 30 yards in the direction the monk is facing. I have to say, I hate this move. The facing element requires pinpoint accuracy and timing, and the target may even be out of range when you cast it. Furthermore, the theoretical ability to stun multiple enemies never materializes unless in melee. That situation leads me to the last move: Leg Sweep. It instantly knocks down any enemies within five yards of the monk, effectively stunning them for five seconds. Throw in the mere 25 second cooldown, and you can see why Charging Ox Wave cannot match it.

This tier needs the most work, all because of one move. Deadly Reach and Leg Sweep offer a choice of easier crowd control at range or amazing close range AoE stun. Charging Ox Wave offers frustration and a steep learning curve, with little reward. It does not compare in any way to the other two abilities. It seriously needs a buff or reworked mechanic.

Stayin’ Alive

The fifth tier (available at 75) focuses on survivability. Healing Elixers passively heals 10% life whenever the monk activates a brew or tea ability. Outside of PvP, only tanks get the full value of this ability, unless the fight happens to have a great amount of unavoidable AoE. Nevertheless, the 10% life heal is not insignificant and the 15 second cooldown does not feel prohibitive while still preventing exploiting. Next comes Dampen Harm, an active ability with a 1.5 minute cooldown that halves the damage of the next three attacks within 45 seconds that do 10% or more of your life. The rather long duration, notably half the cooldown period, really makes Dampen Harm valuable. Being able to pop it that far in advance opens up some interesting strategic considerations. Like the rest of this tier, healers and dps will not get the full use outside of PvP situations. Lastly, Diffuse Magic has a 1.5 minute cooldown as well and lets you reduce all magic damage by 90% for six seconds. In case that did not pique your interest, Diffuse Magic also clears all negative magical effects on the caster. If THAT was not enough, consider that this handy spell also sends all those nasty magical debuffs back to the caster (as long as they are within 40 yards, of course). In case you could not tell, I like this move. It brings together practicality with the joy of righteous vengeance. That said, Diffuse Magic certainly lacks the universal utility of Healing Elixers or Dampen Harm, so it balances out well. Still, Diffuse Magic leads to some undeniably epic moments in the tradition of Dark Simulacrum.

Fifth tier manages to balance out the various survival utilities. Reliability and availability face off again against power and effectiveness, and neither side can objectively claim victory.

Tornados, Torpedos, and Tigers

This tier (available at 90) focuses on abilities that damage and heal, but with an added element of awesomeness. The first, Rushing Jade Wind, does damage to all enemies in a 30 yard path in front of the caster and applies a debuff that makes them take 30% more damage from Spinning Crane Kick. While this move does carry the same targeting mechanic as Charging Ox Wave, it actually has much more in its favor. The cooldown is only 30 seconds, the debuff works with the monk’s main AoE ability, and Rushing Jade Wind is not competing with Leg Sweep. Unfortunately for Rushing Jade Wind, it IS competing with Invoke Xuen, the White Tiger. A 3 minute cooldown, IXtWT summons a white tiger (no way!) for 45 seconds that attacks enemies, including hitting three enemies within 10 yards with tiger lightning ever six seconds. Awesomeness of summoning a white lightning tiger aside, this move adds constant damage without requiring continued attention from the caster, always a bonus. Lastly, Chi Torpedo replaces Roll by offering the same function with the added bonus of healing any allies or damaging any enemies within the path of the ability. Any talents that affect Roll also affect Chi Torpedo as an added bonus.

This tier might need some tweaking in the numbers, but the mechanics (outside of the stupid targeting on Rushing Jade Wind) look sound. The second tier, I worry that the theorycrafters will be able to turn the set damage and healing numbers into a certified “best choice” for the tier. Regardless of such an outcome, I am sticking with the lightning tiger.

Ethan Smith

Ethan Smith

A perpetual over-thinker, Ethan Smith spends all of his free time playing video games like an English professor reads books, writing a secret novel, and trying to actually finish a game of Medieval II: Total War.
Ethan Smith

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