Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Dr. Wipesaver: How I Learn to Stop Worrying And Love the Wipe

Okay, so my original plan for this post was to go over our specializations, stances, and masteries, Exalting in how awesome Eminence is now that it's been added to the Stance of the Wise Serpent, enjoying the fun and unique utility Stagger brings to the Brewmaster, and bemoaning how dull Stance of the Fierce Tiger is in comparison. I was going to go into how the Mistweaver mastery's primary problem is that it depends on the group being aware and intelligent (and will likely mandate an addon to be useful in random groups.) I was going to vent about the frustrating RNG dependency Windwalkers have with their mastery, especially when you spend an entire boss fight with the damn thing only proccing once. (I know, RNG Gods, that Monks don't need help to be awesome, but shouldn't you think about helping us be more aweosme?) I was going to praise Brewmaster mastery as mastery done right. (Mastery is like Beta - use it too often, and it stops feeling like a real word.)

That post will come later this week, as will a post about my Monk wishlist in terms of abilities, glyphs, and talents, and possibly even a look at fist weapons level 1-90. The delay is partially because a computer issue erased what I had, and I don't feel like re-typing it, partially because this stuff changes so often I'm afraid to get too excited (and getting kind of tired of making posts that are obsolete within two days of posting them), and partially because of a dungeon I ran in the Beta last night. I'm going to relate a story from my 3rd attempt at healing, coming in at the last minute for the Sha of Doubt in the Temple of the Jade Serpent, and how A) Monks are just as awesome as we've been lead to believe and B) How the new talent system is completely changing how we dungeon.

So I wait in the queue for a bit, deliberately going for Temple of the Jade Serpent because I'd been told I could get monk glyphs there. (That is a lie, at least when it comes to random groups - I'm going to walk in there manually at some point because no one seems to know where you get monk glyphs yet.) This was on my Mistweaver and would be the third dungeon I've done in MoP as a healer and the 7th dungeon EVER that I've gone into as a healer, discounting some times I've gone Holy on my Paladin to help with achievement/mount runs of Wrath raids. (Aside: I hate healing in PVE...but I love healing as a Mistweaver, and have now gained a better appreciation for healing as a whole. After I level my Warlock and DK on live, I'm going to level some healing classes, probably a resto druid and disc priest.) After finding out that no, no I can not, I sigh and go help the group take down the remaining boss, the Sha of Doubt.

Thirty seconds later, we're corpse running, having been slaughtered by our summoned doubt-selves, most of who lived long enough to heal the boss.

Alright, that's fine. The Prot Paladin we had as a tank was new here too, the Frost DK was from Mekkatorke with a name in Cyrillic and seemed to have maybe 25 words in English that were related to WoW (He was awesome, don't get me wrong, but communication barriers are hard), the Demonology Lock had the same problem all Demonology Locks have right now, in that they're still learning how their spec plays after a massive re-design, and the Windwalker had he same problem most of us monks have right now, in that we're learning how our brand new class plays while Blizzards keeps altering exactly how we play. We know how it works now, we paused to read the dungeon journal about this instance (At least, that's what 4 of us did. Our Big Russian Orc Death Knight couldn't understand us in that regard, so he just stood around waiting for us to go. He already had the achievement for this place, though, so I wasn't too worried.) We're all gemmed, enchanted, and geared, we're going to do fine.

Thirty seconds later, we're back at the graveyard.

This process repeated a couple times more. If we were on live I have a feeling the group would have dissolved into insults and accusations by this point - thankfully, this being beta, wipes seem to be less range inducing when no one can pinpoint one person as the problem. Still, it WAS frustrating, and the tank proposed we drop group and go our ways.

"Wait." I said, not sure why. "I have a plan. This is either going to work and be awesome, or we're all going to wipe again - and look awesome doing it."

The Windwalker's second spec was Mistweaver. The Warlock did, in fact, have Glyph of Demon Hunting. So we talked for a bit, doing our best to relay information to our Russian friend through emotes, links to abilities, and, in one case, me dueling the Paladin to show how our healing strategy was going to work. (He got the important parts, switching to blood spec but staying in frost presence for first part.)

The Ex-Windwalker's only gear change was for a polearm, since Mistweaver's can dual wield anymore. He even stayed in Stance of the White Tiger for parts of the fight because we needed the extra DPS. Talents were changed: the Paladin subbing out the holy-power based HoT that they get in exchange for Selfless Healer. The new Mistweaver and myself both dropped Mystery Talent in favor of Chi Burst (it was a tough call). The Warlock got ready to demon-switch and changed for Grimoire of Service out of Grimoire of Supremacy. The DK made some changes, most of which he did while watching us, and while I'm not quite sure what all he changed, explaining to someone why they should, for this one fight, get Anti-Magic Zone when neither of you speak the same language is hard AND hilarious. I switched into DPS gear, excepting my trinkets and rings (I wasn't going to sacrifice ALL my int and spirit, thank you very much).

And then we fought. The plan was simple - everyone was to stand near the Jade Serpent Statues. When the adds come out, forget about normal tanking/dungeon protocol, stick near the statues while the two monks do as much damage as they can for the benefits of Eminence, the Prot paladin was going to use Word of Glory and Selfless Healer mixed with Judgements and Hammer of Wrath to combo as a healer/tank, and the DK and Warlock was going to do as much damage as possible, using their current weird combinations of survival talents/glyphs and damage/tanking gear to still stay alive while doing so.

And it worked...kind of. We managed to prevent any of the adds from healing the Sha, and the only death we had during the fight was me (I kept forgetting that I had to heal myself), and the DK's use of their Battle Resurrection fixed that problem the first time, and a Soulstone solved it the second. We were all resource-starved and disoriented afterwards, and the fact we only had one real DPS spec left meant we were kind of doomed.

However, it was the most fun I've had in a dungeon in ages.

How does this tie to monks? Well, it wouldn't have worked with any other healers. The strategic use of Eminence and double dipping with the same benefit provided by the Jade Serpent Statues is what made surviving that possible, since I did almost no targeted healing (aside from keeping Renewing Mists up and Chi Wave whenever it was off cooldown). But it also shows how well we work in groups. By forming a strategy, by working together, by knowing our class, we were able to punch the one thing that plagues wow players from time to time: the Doubt that we are awesome.

It also shows that, as aweosme as we are, we need other classes - the extra targeted healing thrown out by our Protection friend, the Death Knight's ability to Death Grip things off of us and give us some breathing room when the evil-Warlock was going all crazy on us, the Warlock's ability to adapt from ranged to semi-melee to tankish on the fly...if they hadn't done those things, hadn't known what they were doing, we would have died too. The entire group was needed, and this servers as lessons for Monks everywhere: yes, you are playing the most awesome class in the game. Yes, you can fill every role aside from ranged DPS. Yes, other classes need to hurry up in acknowledging how great you are. But there are things they can do that you can not, and even without a Druid to actively give us Symbosis, we still need to learn how our abilities work with other classes to make the best use of our own abilities - and remember that, as the most awesome class in the game, it is not our duty to make everyone sit back and watch how awesome we are, but enable them to elevate their own class to it's most awesome level so the entire party looks awesome.

And it also shows that, if you ever aren't sure if your class or group can't handle something, take that doubt and start punching it. You'll get the point across - and when you're done, see if your Doubt dropped any Phat Lewts.

Until next time, keep punching.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Monk 1-10, First Impressions

If you've set your Hearthstone to <Under A Rock Inn>, you might have missed it, but Blizzard has finished inviting the Annual Pass holders. If you don't have an annual pass, there's a good chance that this is why your /gchat and realm's /trade have been so much quieter than normal of late - they're busy over in the Beta, trying desperately to make their way through hordes and hordes of Pandaren and Monks and 85's trying to cram into the new content. And I admit, joining the throngs of Pandaren or 85's and seeing the new content and then lagging horribly and then getting disconnected or encountering a fatal error and retrying repeatedly has a certain appeal, but I'm a Monk blogger, damnit, not a "Check out what happens when you are the same zone as 100,000 other people and get to see the results of your FPS actually being in the negative!" blogger, so I decided to roll two monks, who I then proceeded to roll a few levels later. (It's possible I'll run out of puns related to that particular ability. Possible, but unlikely.) With the premade character transfer service out of commission for the time being, I had to start at level 1, and made a Night Elf and a Human. (The screenshot you see is of me getting ready to make my Draenei, since I cannot have enough monks.)

How it went: Zone in, and discover that the quests aren't ready for monks yet. On my Night Elf, who has no Heirlooms, I don't discover this for a couple more levels, but on my Human I'm hit with it right away. That's fine, I'm a Monk and this is low level play. I'd have to try to not level. I look at my action bar. I have The Unfortunately Not-Named Punch ability, Jab. I am in the only stance I have. So, given that my only option is to punch things, and I don't have much in the way of direction from quest givers, I go out and start punching things. (And really, this is what I was going to end up doing anyway.)

Levels 1-5 flew by liked an overweight falcon - fast, but kind of awkward and with the occasional splat. Like some other melee classes, we start off at level 1 with no ranged abilities. Since most of the mobs in the area are yellow and therefore won't attack you unless you attack them first, you have to wander up and manually punch them each time - which does get old after a little bit, and by level 5, is maddening. See, every other melee class has some sort of ranged ability by level 3. Warriors and Rogues get the bland but functional Throw right out of the gate (which I'm given to understand doesn't require a ranged weapon anymore, but I haven't tested yet. What's that? I can go into the Beta and test right now?)

(Yup, works at level 1) and Paladins get Judgement at level 3. We monks don't get one until we pick our spec at the very earliest, at which point you are quite used to body-pulling every mob in the area.

However...given a lack of quests, I just decided to roam around. No heirlooms, nothing but the incredibly-awesome-please-let-us-mog-whites hand wraps that they start you with. Not even shoes, because monks are apparently too awesome for shoes at level 1. A couple levels later I found myself taking on multiple mobs that were red, weaving together Jabs and Tiger Palms and Blackout Kicks. Monk fighting at low level feels incredibly smooth and natural once you get going, with Tiger Palm being used when you have Chi and the enemy is above 50% health, Blackout Kick when there is Chi and they are below 50% health, and Jabs or incredibly rapid auto-attacks filling in the gaps for a very seamless fighting experience that also slaughters with a great deal of ease mobs 3 or 4 levels higher than you - at level 8, having wandered into Elwynn Forest on my Human (who does have some heirlooms), I just rolled up to Hogger, that level 11 elite, and proceeded to punch him to death. (With full Chi at the start of the fight, my rotation was Tiger Palm-Tiger Pam-Tiger Palm-Tiger Palm-Jab-Jab-Jab-Jab,Blackout Kick-Blackout Kick-Blackout Kick-Roll-Oh, He's Dead-Cake.) I'm not sure if heirlooms are a bit overpowered, monks are a bit overpowered, both are, or it's all working as intended, but either way it was incredibly fun.

Speaking of rolling (I mentioned that in my rotation list, didn't you read it?), it's incredibly fun. While some of the animations are still buggy/missing, it sends you moving a considerable distance at no energy/chi cost. It has a 20 second cooldown but also has two "charges", each charge on a separate cooldown from the other, meaning you can roll twice every 40 seconds, once ever 10 seconds, once and then 20 seconds later twice. Unlike the Mage Blink spell, it sends you in whatever direction you're currently headed, a feature that made me feel insanely awesome as I executed a last second double backwards roll after pulling more than I could handle and watching Blackout Kick's Damage Over Time component finish off my foes, who were lumbering up to remove my one remaining hit point.

So, in summation: Monks are as awesome as expected, but need a low level ranged ability - even that weak Throw - to make levels 1-10 ideal. Still, if my only quibble is "I have to manually move up to mobs to start fighting them", I think the class is preforming very well.

Next week: the Specs, level 10-15, and our teir 1 Talents.

Until then, keep punching.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Brief Update

I just checked my Battle.Net account, and have gotten an invite into the Mists of Pandaria Beta. Next update to happen as soon as I get a chance to actually get my hands on the Monk class and try it out!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

6 Things Every Monk Should Do (3-1)

Check out here for the first three things you should do.

And now that you've done that, let's leap right into the remaining three things every monk needs to do to make themselves a better Monk.

3) Learn To Use Expel Harm

Expel Harm is the only self-heal you gain as a Monk regardless of type, and it's an incredibly useful one. Not only do you heal yourself, but you also damage an enemy for an equal amount. Seems simple, right? Well, there's a number of things going on here:

First, unlike many other classes, your ability to heal and deal damage at the same time is not a percent, and it's not based on damage done or your total hit points. It's a static number, always healing you for X amount, and then dealing damage equal to the amount healed. That means that you can safely use it without any chance of the heal portion of Expel Harm being lower because of enemy resistance (though that will impact damage normally) and you don't have to worry about it missing and not gaining the healing portion of Expel Harm (although, again, the damage portion can presumably still miss.) The downside? As Blizzard recently clarified, it only deals damage based on how much is actually healed - overhealing doesn't matter here. So if you're at full health, using expel harm is going to only waste a global cooldown and lock this ability out for 15 seconds, doing neither healing or damage. Get a feel while soloing for how much of your health bar it will actually fill, and for best usage make sure you're that low when you use it.

Second, how the enemy is chosen is...unusual. Look at the wording again:
Instantly heals yourself for 979 to 1137, and causes 100% of the amount healed to instantly be dealt to a nearby enemy as damage within 5 yards.
It makes no mention of which enemy it will harm, and until I can beta test this I can't be 100% certain of how it works, but I'm going to make some assumptions here. First: Worded this way, it seems likely expel harm will heal you regardless of the presence or absence of an enemy. If you're a mistweaver, you don't need to run into melee range to heal yourself. If you're running out of fire, you don't need to run up to the boss to use it. If you just finished a batch of trash and are waiting for the healer to top off the tank or his own mana pool, you can top yourself off then. Wonderful! The downside: there's no mention of which enemy it will damage. Against a group of trash or a pack of adds, it might target one at random, meaning it could hit one the tank has little to no threat against, or one that's currently crowd controlled (although you shouldn't be within 5 yards of a crowd controlled mob anyway, but it's still something to consider), or one the off-tank has (or the main tank) - all of which are potentially bad.

Third, it's going to create more threat than you'd expect. See, unlikely most heal-and-damage abilities, it gives you a boost of healing and then damages - meaning you're generating a chunk of threat from the self heal, and another chunk from the damage. There's a reason healers don't sit in melee to heal for most fights - healing generates a lot of threat, and if you're right next to the enemy that's increased. As a tank this is a blessing - healing threat is AOE threat, so not only are you helping the healer keep your health up but you're also generating damage threat and healing threat, making this a great tool (especially considering the Brewmaster's low to nearly-non existent Area of Effect abilities.) 

As a windwalker or mistweaver, this requires you to be very careful - in the latter case, I'd advise against using Expel Harm at all if you're within 5 yards of an enemy except as a last resort. Remember - if you die, the rest of the group likely will shortly thereafter, and nothing says "Dead healer" faster than ramming into an enemy's face "Hey! I'm the reason this bastard isn't dying! And I just punched you in the face!" For DPS, it's more situational, but  as a general rule you should wait until a bit further into the fight - when the tank has had time to generate more threat - to use, should never use if you've pulled aggro and the tank's busy trying to grab it back, and should not use if there's only one target (a boss) and you're right next to the tank's threat. Use it carefully, but use it - you make everyone's life easier by keeping yourself up, and it's not a disruption to your DPS.

2) You are Not An Off Anything

See, this is one area where monks are different from other hybrid classes. A Retribution specced Paladin can, if the boss is close to dead, slap on a shield and righteous fury and hold the boss long enough to finish the fight. A druid can pop into bear form, a DK can slap on blood presence, a warrior can go into defensive stance. For healers, a DPS build will often have enough healing abilities to keep the tank up for that last 10% if the healer goes down. Now, if that still works in Mists of Pandaria for every other class remains to be seen, but I can tell you that it won't work for us.

Look at our current baseline abilities.  We do not have any targeted healing abilities in our baseline toolkit. We have almost no mitigation abilities outside of Expel Harm, and only a taunt for threat generation. Fortifiying Brew is a minor "We need a tank for 20 seconds" ability, but remember that you'll be wearing leather, not plate, so doubling your hit points will still make it unlikely you'll live those full 20 seconds - especially since you can't be healed. Your stance for damage mitigation and tanking is tied into the Brewmaster spec. Your stance for healing is tied into the Mistweaver spec. You are not going to be very good at picking up the slack if a party member dies - hell, that demonology warlock will probably make a better offtank than you, as will the hunter's pet, the affliction warlock's pet, the shadow priest, or the hunter himself*. If the tank or the healer goes down, odds are anyone else in the group who can pick up the slack should before you try, since you'll probably die (or let whoever you're trying to keep alive die) much faster than you would like.

Don't look at the monk as a hybrid class. Look at the monk as three entirely separate but very similar classes contained within one, all of them unified by the fact that they can punch you in the face.
*Not entirely joking here. At least the hunter will be in mail.

Unless you massively outgear what you're running, odds are before every boss fight someone in the party says "Everyone ready?"

Usually, everyone types the letter "r" and the combat starts shortly thereafter.

As a monk, you have a duty. A duty to the party, a duty to your class, a duty to WoW as a whole. And that duty is to, regardless of spec, say "Sec", and plop down 3 healing spheres. It will take you a grand total of 5 seconds to do - and it will make the fight much easier. The healer can run through them if he gets low. The DPS can run through them if you're healing and can't take healing off the tank. The tank can run through them if he has to kite the boss around. Those 3 little spheres represent a great increase in survivability for any member of the party, and you don't have to sacrifice your attention, healing, threat, or DPS at any point in the fight to use them. These alone will make you a valued member of the party. Do not forget to use these, and only don't drop them if you are asked not to. Learn boss fight positioning so you know where to best put them. Make sure you use them. They're the picture for this post for a reason, people! Every spec can use them, every monk can drop them, every member of the party can walk into them if needed - including you rolling through it if you get low. It makes everyone's life easier. 

Just drop those little green balls before the fight starts, and then you can start the punching.

Friday, April 6, 2012

6 Things Every Monk Should Do (6-4)

As promised last time, here's a list of the 6 things every monk should make sure they know how and when to do regardless of specialization to make themselves well liked and better companions in dungeons, raids, arenas, and battlegrounds. And yes, the list is now 6, because I just love you all so much I added an extra one. This article quickly grew larger than I had anticipated, so instead I'm making it into two articles - numbers 6-4 are here, 3-1 will be up in a later article. (Possibly later today, since it's mostly written, but this is a pretty big wall of text right now.)

(Information in this post is based on the current Beta information on WoWHead and might be subject to change at any moment, especially before Mists of Pandaria goes live. I'll be posting an updated version when it does go live to bring things up to speed - this post assumes that the abilities I discuss here enter the game largely unchanged. Also, while I will touch on PVP in some cases, the nature of PVP is that it's a highly volatile and constantly shifting environment and much harder to apply general advice to, so this will focus a bit on on PVE - an article focusing on PVP abilities exclusively will be forthcoming, as will one with some advice that is only meant for PVE.)

6) Learn How We Roll

The ability Roll that monks will be getting is one that I'm particularly interested in. From the initial video it looks like it functions something akin to a Mage's Blink spell, being usable to hop forward quickly, but friends I have in my guild/know in person who have played the class report that it seems to work more like charge - unless you're already in melee with the opponent, at which point it takes you behind the enemy but doesn't turn you around. Only some times it does work like blink. Only when it doesn't. So right now the ability seems to be buggy and unreliable or is constantly changing in each build - so the analogy to blink works either way (ask a Mage if you don't get this joke.) Regardless of how it ends up working, practice with it. Get used to the distance it carries you, how it responds in different situations. Practice it as often as you can while soloing. (Not that I need to tell you to do this. I imagine 90% of monks will roll every chance they get while moving around just because they can. Or maybe that will just be me. But I expect to see tons of rolling members of every race besides Goblins and Worgen tumbling around Orgrimmar and Stormwind.)

See, the good thing about this ability is that it will likely be a great positioning mechanic - for DPS, it gets you behind the boss, for tanks, it gets you too the boss, for all specs, it will help get you out of fire or lava or acid or dark circles or whatever other nasty things the true evil of WoW, the ground, is covered with at that particular moment that you shouldn't be standing in. If the healer puts an AOE on the ground you should be standing in, or the DK puts down an Anti-Magic Zone, it will help you get into it. If adds spawn, it will help you get too/away from them. In PVP...well, if you've gone up against a blinking mage or a warrior with Warbringer, you know what it can do in PVP.

The bad news is that it sounds like it will carry you a fixed distance. That means that you run a high risk of rolling INTO fire, into a pack of uncleared trash, into adds, directly INTO the bosses cleave - if you don't know how it will move you, it could make things worse. Now, if it functions like Charge, you have less of a problem - it just takes you towards what you're targeting - but if it functions like Blink, you have to get used to where this spell will take you to make sure you're using it properly and well. (Improper use of roll in PVP will be less of a problem, since doing it wrong will typically just mean you die, but if you're a healer and you accidentally roll away form the Flag Carrier or you're defending the Lumber Mill and accidentally roll off the edge, you run a high risk of hurting your team or looking like a moron as you fall to your death.

So roll on everything when you're solo, and learn when you should roll when you're not. (This applies to loot as well, actually, but that has nothing to do with this ability).

5) We Have a Dispel. Use It (When you Should).

Pretty much every blogger that writes about more than just a healing spec begs members of their class to use any dispel they have, so I figured I'd jump on the bandwagon early. As of the current build, Detox gets rid of Bleeds and Poisons. Besides the fact that it'll make monks the new "most hated class to fight against" for rogues and feral druids, dispels that work on bleeds are few and far between - and while mobs that cause bleeds are just as rare, the ones that do are typically fairly nasty. If you're the tank, make sure to watch out for poisons and bleeds on yourself and keep this ability on your hot bar. If you're the healer, then you know to watch for things that need to be dispelled - and if you don't, you should probably start, since it'll make your life easier and everyone else's life longer. If your the DPS, dispelling when you see it - even if it's only on yourself, but preferably on everyone - makes life much easier for the healer and the tank, and if their life is easier, they are less likely to die die, and if they don't die, you are more likely to not die too.

Yes, you will spend a GCD to do so, and it will mean a reduction for your overall DPS, but if the group is complaining about your DPS being too low because you're making life easier for the healer and tank, odds are the only people complaining are the other 2 DPS members and the tank and healer will thank you (unless they're jerks, and anyone who pretends Tanks and Healers are any less or more prone to being jerks than DPS is either a liar or a self-important tank or healer.)

However, the "When you Should" caveat is important. If the fight is a straight DPS race to get the boss down before he enrages/builds up too many stacks of "Nasty Death" on the tank or other timer, then only the healer and tank should worry about dispelling - and even then, the tank should communicate to see if the healer is okay with the tank leaving dispels to the sole domain of healers, so the tank can add that little extra DPS he would spend debuffing. If no one else can dispel bleeds or poisons and it's a DPS race, ask - typically, the group will want you to just focus on punching until it goes down, but there will be exceptions. More important than that, however, there are times where debuffs should not be dispelled, especially poisons. Learn which ones need to stay on, and double check, especially in any Troll-Themed instance, since they're big on beneficial poisons, and have been since Classic. Trolls like the voodoo, and apparently poisons can be good mojo.

For PVP, as previously touched on, this dispel will help make you the bane of rogues and kitty druids. Since those two groups are some of the most often "Hate those bastards" commented upon in PVP, up there with Paladins, and part of what makes them so nasty are bleeds and poisons, using this ability will help make them less of a nightmare for your team and be a source of endless amusement for you, especially if you're used to finding fights against them to be pretty much "Oh! Now I'm dead." Use it for your team, and use it for the luls.

4)  Learn To Use Our Toolbox Of Control Abilities

I bundled these four together, though I could probably (and will probably) write an article dedicated to all of them individually. However, what's important here is that you have control abilities - an interrupt/silence, a snare/root, a disarm, and a classic crowd control. With beta reports indicating that dungeons are much harder - in part due to current tank design, which I'm hoping will be fixed, and in part to the fact that early expansion heroics are kinda serious business until we start to outgearing them - knowing how to control is vital regardless of role. Here's some things to keep in mind:

With the exception of our disarm, these all require melee range (except for talented paralysis). For DPS and Tanks, this is not a huge problem, since you should be in melee range anyway - unless the caster you want to interrupt is thirty yards away or the mob you want to CC hasn't been pulled yet. This is where knowing how to roll with things is vital (no, I don't think I'll ever get tired of roll related puns, why do you ask?) - it will help you close that distance much quicker than most classes could, putting you somewhere between other classes that can use similar abilities and ranged classes in terms of using these. Paralysis deserves particular mention here, and I'm going to put this in bold to make sure it's clear: If Untalented, Paralysis should NOT be used prior to pulling. Paralysis is not Sap. 

This applies to tanks even, since it'll likely pull the entire group and you'll have to draw them away from the paralyzed target before you can start using AOE's and that means you'll have almost no threat. Paralysis, without the talent, should be used in 2 situations: 1) PVP, at which point it becomes awesome always and 2) When a ranged attacker/caster needs to be CCed in combat and the tank isn't near it. Now, in the latter situation, a hunter with throw trap ready or a mage or shaman or...well, really any other class with a ranged crowd control ability...will probably be able to CC that mob faster than you will - if they notice it. However, if you see that there is a ranged mob not near other un-pulled mobs and no one's dealing with it, go roll on over and paralyze them and then roll back to the main fight. (this also applies to melee mobs that wander near the healer) Don't worry too much about being behind the target - 30 seconds should be enough once the fight starts.

Our Snare/Root is pretty straightforward, just remember that (as with any root), the mob will still attack whoever's highest on it's threat list that it can reach, so if you root it next to yourself or the healer and you are not the tank, it's going to attack whoever it can reach. Also, you spend 3 global cooldowns to apply it fully, so you're going to spend more time than you might like not DPSing. If you've ever played a class with a melee interrupt our interrupt is nothing new to you, and if you haven't it's pretty simple - if you can get up there to interrupt, do it, and try to set up an interrupt order with the group prior to combat.

Our disarm deserves special mention for a different reason - when used properly, it is also a DPS/Heal/Tanking cooldown, so make sure you're using it on the right target to get the most benefit out of it. This will probably require a good amount of research/trial and error in PVE (and it's hard to know if it will even be beneficial in that environment beyond the normal disarm benefits - especially keeping in mind how many mobs are immune to disarming in PVE), but in PVP it's much simpler - try to target a monk of the same spec as you with better gear. If that's not an option, go for someone who is the same role as you with better gear. If THAT isn't an option, just go for whoever is in range that is best geared.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

What To Expect When Playing a Monk

So you got your shiny Beta invite from one of the waves Blizzard is sending out (in which case I hate you with envy greener than a warlock's flame, which is to say not very green at all, more of a red, really), or you live in the future and have finished installing Mists of Pandaria (in which case I hate you with a different type of envy that is still not very green). Looking at your options - level your old, soon to be forgotten main through the new content, roll a Pandaren of some other class to play through their starting zones, or roll a monk - you decide (wisely) - to go with the option that allows you to punch things and have rolled a Monk. Congratulations!

What do you do?

At first that answer is going to be quite simple: start punching things. (Though if this is the day Mists launches, the first thing you're going to do is wait in queue, which is why you'd be here and not playing. And if you're going Pandaren for your monk (we'll discuss the pros and cons of various races later) then you'll follow waiting in queue with incredibly exciting sit in lag, given it's launch day.)

Go ahead. Have some fun. Punch a training dummy. Punch a squirrel. Punch the first mob you see. Punch every mob you can see. Challenge a friend to a duel and punch him. Challenge a level 85 (or 90) and try to punch him before you get one shot. Find a flagged member of the opposite faction and punch them. Punch a Paladin. Punch a Druid. Punch a Rogue. Invent an achievement for punching one of each class before level 10. Try some of our different flavors of punching on whatever you are punching. (I don't care if it's called Blackout Kick. A friend of mine informs me that kick is just a shorthand way to say "punch with your foot", and he's been doing monk things in other games since he's been gaming, so he knows what he's talking about.)

Hit level 10 and pick a specialization. Are you going to be a Windwalker, who focuses completely on just punching things in a variety of ways until they die? A Mistweaver, who punches so hard that it actually undoes damage? A Brewmaster, who wants to make everyone hit him by shouting "I'm soooooooooo drunk! I bet that you hit like a girl!" while punching things? (Yes, that's going to be my brewmaster's taunt macro.) Hit level 15 and pick a talent, which (as of the current Beta build, will define exactly how your roll (rimshot).

Not sure which specialization to pick? We'll go into details of the different ones later on, but the good news is: You are playing a monk! You can't pick incorrectly! If you're looking to dungeon as you level, I'd strongly recommend Brewmaster or Windwalker, since the queue time with be dramatically lower. However, Blizzard has gotten World of Warcraft where there's no guide needed to level. There's no right way to do it, no wrong way to do it. You can level the entire way through picking up flowers and rocks if you want, though that involves a shameful amount of time spent not punching. Once Mists and the Monk gets closer to live I'll be able to get into some more detail as to what would be an easy route into getting your monk to level 90, but if that never gets posted this advice still stands: just do things. You'll hit 90 eventually.

What To Expect:

I've never been a flavor of the month player. I've always been a "What is currently providing me the most entertainment/is shiny and new" player. So when Wrath of the Lich King was announced, I looked at the Death Knight class and went "Wait, I can cast spells? AND dual-wield sword? AND raise the dead? Guess what I'm doing!" (The answer was "Sit in a queue, disconnect from lag, sit in a queue again, get disconnected from lag yet again, drink a few beers and curse as I start the queue again," but eventually I rolled a Death Knight.) It was a unique experience, and since the Monk is thankfully not a hero class it will be somewhat different, but if you rolled a Death Knight in early Wrath then you have some idea of what to expect:

-You're Going to Suck

Okay, so maybe "suck" is a strong word. But you are not going to be anywhere near as good as you are at playing your main. I don't care if you were an Annual Pass holder who got in Mists Beta from day one and played every single day. I don't care if you've read every single theory crafting article about monks or blogs about monks or any other monk related information you can find. Regardless of how strong the class is at launch, you will be doing some thing wrong.

Acknowledge that. It's too early into development right now to know exactly what you'll be doing wrong, but right now, admit you will be. Your former main is a class you've played for a couple years now (or is a reroll from another character you played for awhile). You're going to be better with it. That's fine. It takes time for skill to develop. Try to be aware of the areas where you're under preforming and fix them, but don't sweat it too much until you hit 90 and are starting on end game content. Just don't get mad at people who are polite about giving advice and do ignore the trolls who insult you for not doing it right. Don't be a cause for the second thing to expect...

-People Will Hate You

Again, hate is a strong word. But they really, really, really won't like you in many cases. I saw this on my Death Knight - I'd zone into a dungeon, and people would immediately start groaning. "Another Death Knoob. Ready to wipe everyone?" On more than one occasion, I was voted out of the dungeon as soon as possible even though we hadn't wiped and I had not died or lost aggro yet and the healer was keeping up with me just fine (I was a tank). One a few rare occasions, the entire group went AFK until I dropped or they could vote-kick me.

Why? Well, see point one. The problem is some people will not be too kind in pointing out how much you suck, and some (many players) will respond with "Not as much ur mom!" or "Not as much as u do, cuz u suck every night, cuz ur ghey!" To compound that, there will be the people whom "Suck" would not be a strong word. They've never before played a tank or healer but are going Brewmaster or Mistweaver, they figured since their toon tanks drunk they should be just as wasted, they're new to the game and were lured in by promises of playing a martial artists. They'll roll into mobs ahead of the tank, or roll mid combat into ANOTHER group of mobs. They'll be focusing their healing on the hunter's pet (unless that pet is doing a better job of tanking than the Windwalker that queued up as tank, at which point they'll start healing the hunter). They'll break CC. They'll make every mistake any other class is capable of making, but they'll be doing it in new ways no other class could. People will get sick of Monks, and just seeing one in the group will put them on edge.

There's not much you can do about this one. If the group is outright hostile, leave - no amount of abuse is worth your time, and that 30 minute cooldown gives you time to cool down yourself - because you do not want to become bitter and angry at the abuse monks get. If you do, then the next time someone gives you good advice, you might end up rejecting it out of hand because it's just another "hater," which in turn remake them resentful of you and might actually turn them into a "hater."

If the group is just wary or chilly, ignore it and be friendly and play your best. Don't get your back up - try to prove them wrong. Sure, you'll probably get "Oh, at least there's one decent monk out there" at first, but if there are enough "One decent monks" running around, we'll eventually gain the level of acceptance and comfort people show around Death Knights these days, only even better, because we won't have that whole "Only been playing class for 32 levels" stigma some people still attach to them. I could write an entire article about this, and if this proves to be as big a problem as I fear it will be I probably will, but there's one more issue I need to address...

-Your Balance is Going to Be Off

It's impossible to tell what direction the balance is going to be, but it's almost a certainty that out of the gate monks will be at least someone over or under powered, and will have stretches of being over or under powered throughout their career, culminating in being one or the other at level 90. It'll take a few patches to get the balance right - the nature of the beast when dealing with an MMO as large and diverse as World of Warcraft, with (now) 11 classes, each with 3 specializations, and a huge variety of talents each can chose from.

If for a period you're overpowered, have fun with it, but don't be a jerk and don't expect it to last - you will get nerfed. If for a period we're underpowered, don't despair. Try a different spec for a change of pace, or if it gets too frustrating make take a break from monking, level your old main, finally roll a Pandaren if your monk isn't one. You'll come back or you won't, but you do not want to push yourself to the point of frustration and burnout. And we can't have monks doing that. Because in the end...

-You're Going to Be Awesome

This may seem like a counter to the first point, but remember that you are playing a monk. Your job is to punch Gods, Elementals, Demons, Titans, giant Constructs, Huge Tentacled Things, Energy Beings, member of the Alliance or Horde (or both if you PvP and Duel), and the physical manifestations of negative emotions, or make those things so pissed off that they only want to punch you, or keep the people who are hurting those things using less-awesome methods than punching alive. You're going to do this in a leather outfit, and you're going to look awesome doing it. You'll eventually regain the skill you had with your old main, people will stop giving you crap, and Blizzard will stop giving monks extreme nerfs and buffs and settle into the good old nerf-buff cycle every other class is used to.

Coming up next: Based on the current build, 5 things every monk should do regardless of spec.

Keep on punching.

First Post

Greetings, fellow Azerothians!

This blog, as the name suggested, is dedicated to the newest World of Warcraft class (well, it's not technically implemented yet, so I suppose that title should still belong to Death Knights, but since Monks exist in the beta we might as well start making that claim.) The next post will be an actual content post: this is the typical "Welcome to this new blog, here's why you should keep reading it, I swear I'm interesting and cool and 6'3", dark, and mysterious with a ripped body pay attention to me please" post all blogs are told is mandatory by internet law to begin with.

Mission Statement:

The mission of The Tao of Punching is to provide a detailed guide for all things monk related and pertaining to monks as well as any other future class that revolves around wandering into a dungeon with a bunch of people in plate mail or warded by spells and wearing dresses or skulking through the shadows - all of them armed to the teeth with legendary weapons or swords bigger than they are or with car doors strapped to their arms - and wearing only hide, a cocky grin, and then punching anything and everything you can see until it stops moving (or keeps moving, if you're a healing monk.) Of course, no future class can contain that level of awesome, so this is going to be a monk blog. This blog is going to update at least once a week, typically on Monday evenings to give you something to do the next morning while waiting for the servers to come back up. However, as more information becomes available and new thoughts occur to me, it might update more frequently, especially with any breaking news.

It will also contain numerous run on sentences (as the prior sentence indicates), way too many parenthetical notations (such as this one), and the rambling thoughts of an over-caffeinated long time World of Warcraft player with some attempts at humor mixed in as well as a potentially vain attempt to form a rivalry with another class for added humor. My money's on Paladins or Druids for this one, since they're the only two other classes that can heal and tank and hurt things, but who knows where this could go? We might end up hating rogues as we vie for gear, or warriors because they laugh at our tanking, or Death Knights since they could end up being the only class we can pick on since they still have a bit of shiney newness. We might even end up hating Warlocks, because then I can just copy jokes off of Christian Belt and not have to think too hard. Only time will tell!

What This Is Not:

This is not a guide to your optimal monk items/choices/rotations. A couple factors influence this decision. First, the fact that those elitist jerks at, well, Elitist Jerks will be able to do a far better job of it than I can: I am by no means the best optimizer in World of Warcraft and most of the advice I give here would end up being wrong, and since this is going to become the one-stop shop for all monk related information on the internet, at least for the duration of Mists of Pandaria, I'd hate to lead my fellow monks wrong. Second, it's way harder to think of jokes about the new tier set unless we end up looking like absurd pink Power Rangers at some point, at which point the jokes write themselves. Finally, the Monk class is still very much in Beta and will continue to be in Beta even after the Beta is out of Beta and Mists of Pandaria is live - I'll go into that in a later posts, but suffice it to say that Death Knights were still somewhat Beta after Wrath Beta had ended and I feel fairly comfortable making the same statement about Monks even though I've not yet played in the Beta - and since I'm not yet in the Beta, it's hard for me to make any concrete claims about mechanics since I haven't actually played a Beta Monk yet. Did you know if you type the word Beta enough times in a sentence you forget what it sounds like? I do now.

I'm sure there's more I can cram into this introduction post, but I think I've done everything a new wow blog needs to do, including linking to WOW Insider, Wowhead, and Elitist Jerks - though I suppose I should include a link to MMO Champion, but I'm not sure how to fit that in - and said the word Beta enough times for it to lose all meanings. So now I'm off to get an actual content post up, and if you read this far though this contentless first post, then congratulations! Have a Healing Sphere. Post something in the comments section if you feel up to it: what would you like to see out of this blog and about monks overall? Have any cool monk pictures from the beta? Email me at taoofpunching@gmail.com.