Apr 6, 2012

Mist of Pandaria Thoughts (Part 1)

I was lucky enough to be granted access to the Mist of Pandaria beta, the upcoming World of Warcraft expansion. It seems like a great return to form for Blizzard's little hiccup that was Cataclysm.

I decided to import a few of my own characters into the new servers, my Warlock and my Death Knight, and get a premade level 85 monk on my account just for good measure. Wanting to see what all the pandaemonium was about I decided to start with the Monk and was instantly overwhelmed with all of the new features put into the game, not to mention the fact that it was a brand new class.

I immediately logged out and decided to start from scratch. Not wanting to do the Undead starting area that I could do in my sleep I opted for the Pandaren. The starting zone was an unmitigated mess, with thousands and thousands of Monks running around. Once I got lucky on a few quest drops and got out into the starting zone things started to pick up. The art in the game is amazing as Blizzard art usually is, but the music was enchanting to the point where I had no desire to turn it off. The story line was pretty self contained and felt really epic, despite being a zone for newly created characters.

Where the Monk experience rally started to fall apart though was once I hit level 15 and got access to the Dungeon Finder. I decided to pick Brewmaster as my specialization, the tanking spec, and there is really no way to maintain threat outside of taunting, which sucks. Brewmasters are very Chi dependent, and since there is only one way to generate Chi through jab which is dependent on the energy bar of a Rogue, that costs just under half of your overall energy. Here is the typical rotation for a Brewmaster tank as best as can figure out:

Starting with 100 energy and 4 Chi:
- Drunken Haze AoE (costs 40 energy, down to 60)
- Drunken Haze AoE (costs 40 energy, down to 20-25)
- Breath of Fire (2 Chi, down to 2 Chi, up to 35-40 energy)
- Drunken Haze AoE (costs 40 energy, down to 0)
- Breath of Fire (2 Chi, down to 0 Chi)

That is 5 Global Cool Downs just to maintain maximum threat, which is around 6 seconds of moves. This is assuming all attacks hit all targets, which is very unlikely for a tank who is not hit capped. Not to mention, the stance you have to be in doesn't provide increased threat such as a Paladin's Protection Aura or a Warrior's Defensive Stance. So you have to be able to compete on a damage level with specializations built to put out damage while your specialization is designed to mitigate damage. I also think the ability to stagger off damage, the main mitigation for Monks, needs to be upped from 25% to something around 35%, as the 1 in 4 chance to shrug off damage still feels to random.

While these are some basic concerns, this is just a beta, and as a write this I am patching the client right now, so who knows what exciting changes await the World of Warcraft.