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.


  1. Wow.. thanks you MAY have changed my mind on the Monk class. I wasn't intending on even trying one of them, as the concept to me seemed silly. Well a lot of things seem silly to me. Like change...I digress. Your comedic approach to "punching" Hogger to death gave me a laugh and MAY have inspired me to roll a monk. Keep up the research for us!

  2. Thanks Cherre! Glad that I'm helping encourage the doubtful that they should try to pick up this class, and least giving them a chance. :)

    And I am glad you were amused by me punching Hogger to death. I was amused while punching him to death. The guards that arrived to arrest him were a group of pixels, and I think even they managed computerized amusement at me punching him to death. In fact, I think everyone but Hogger was amused by me punching him to death, and that's largely because he's still upset I'm claiming I killed him, even though the game doesn't allow you to actually kill him during that quest. I don't care - sure, he didn't actually drop to 0 HP, but I still punched him to death.