We normally prefer to provide the abilities and world and let players determine how they want to play, and decide for themselves what the ‘best’ way for themselves to play is. In this case, we think that maybe just spelling out how we expect it to be played will help you all experience it better, give better feedback, and help identify the points of confusion you had that prevented you from reaching these conclusions. So, without further ado...Celestalon's Guide to Mastering the Brew
Here’s how I play the new Legion Brewmaster. This is non-talent-specific, talents will be an additional layer on top of this.Offensive Abilities
These are important because they establish threat, do damage, and give you more usage of your Active Mitigation abilities. They're best used in a priority list, with the key skill differentiator being maximizing Keg Smash
usage, and not wasting any Energy while maximizing damage.
1. Always, ALWAYS save enough Energy and GCDs to Keg Smash
exactly as it comes off cooldown.
2. Tiger Palm
, if you're at risk of capping Energy.
3. Breath of Fire
if there are multiple targets.
4. Blackout Kick
5. Tiger Palm
with excess energy, making sure to leave 40 for when Keg Smash
comes off CD.Defensive Abilities
This will make up the meat of the discussion, as there is a ton of nuance in only a few abilities here. There are several defensive resources important to Brewmasters: Brew Charges (ISB/PB), Health, Ox Orbs, and Stagger. (Energy is the other resource, but that's considered an offensive resource, and is converted into more Brew Charges per above). Each of those resources is important, and should be monitored.
Let's start by talking about Health, as it's likely the most nuanced resource. Obviously, if you run out, you die, but there's so much more going on here. It's actually ideal that you stay somewhat damaged, when you're not in danger. Let’s explore why that’s a safe thing to do, and how it benefits you.
The Brewmaster is especially well suited to staying somewhat damaged, having Stagger to provide constant steady damage, and having Mastery: Elusive Brawler to ensure that it's highly unlikely that you'll take a string of multiple non-avoided attacks in a row. Mastery is not just plain dodge, it's key to recognize the difference; it acts as a fairly reliable form of dodge, when you need it (and not when you don't).
Now for the benefits of staying damaged. Presumably, if you're in much danger as a Brewmaster, you're likely in group content, and are getting some external healing. Consider what form that healing takes. It varies based on the spec of healer(s) with you, but a safe assumption is that there is a mixture of steady healing (such as HoTs) and large direct heals (such as Flash of Light). Healer mana matters in Legion (and we want to make sure that spending mana on tanks is an important part of that), so minimizing how much healing you need is important. If you stay at full health most of the time, and occasionally spike low, that wastes most of the steady healing (HoTs), making them mostly overheal. By staying damaged, the HoTs can do their job.
Secondly, Gift of the Ox
provides you with healing spheres, but it procs more often the lower health you are. That means two things: First, it reinforces that you want to let yourself get damaged. Second, it means that you shouldn't pick up the healing spheres when you don't need them, as their healing will reduce the chance of more dropping until you take more damage. Thus, the best way to use Gift of the Ox
is to only use them when you get dangerously low on health. That will ensure there is a significant number of them, ready to go whenever you do need them. Also, it's worth noting that the fact that they drop at your left and right (alternating) matters, as it means you can choose to collect only half of them at once, as one side's pile will likely be enough to keep you going; no need to grab both sides if you don't need to.
That brings us to the primary way that you manage your health: Ironskin Brew
and Purifying Brew
, which share charges. They work best when combined; using a healthy mixture of both is nearly always superior to heavily favoring one or the other. Ironskin Brew
provides damage smoothing and increases the effectiveness of Purifying Brew
, but does not reduce healing needed. Complimenting that, Purifying Brew
removes Staggered damage, but only does much if you've recently used Ironskin Brew
's damage smoothing is element that should dictate when you use it. The above discussion of health showed how beneficial it is to stay in a damaged state, but you also don't want to risk dying. Use ISB when there is risk of dying in the next couple seconds. Mastery will help with that significantly, making it reliable for you to not take a string of several unavoided hits in a row; trust in it. It can be a scary wave to ride, but trust in your toolset to keep you alive, even if you're not at full health. Save ISB for incoming telegraphed spike damage from your enemies, and when you get down to half health (or whatever point you risk dying to a couple more hits). Accept that you're only going to have ISB up some of the time (half of the time is a good starting estimate), and focus on making those ISBs count, covering the most incoming damage, and points when you are most at risk. Don't waste brew charges on ISB when you’re at high health.
If you’re Ironskinning well, you’ll be building up a significant but not overpowering Stagger level. Pay attention to the Stagger bar on your unit frame, and use Purifying Brew
to manage it. You have a limited number of Purifying Brew
s, so you want to maximize how much damage you remove from the picture with each one. Watch for your Stagger to spike up after you take burst damage (which you had Ironskin Brew
up for); that’s a good time to Purify, thereby negating a massive chunk of that burst damage. Note that the Stagger bar is equivalent scale to your health bar; seeing a half full Stagger bar means you’re going to take half your health in Stagger damage. It also means that Purifying when you’re at 2/3 Stagger is going to negate a whopping 1/3 of your healthbar in damage; that’s extremely strong compared to other tank rotational heals/absorbs in Legion. One caveat to this is that if you’re at nearly full health, even if you have a large Stagger built up, save your Purifying for later; it would just turn the HoTs on you into overhealing.
Here’s a TLDR summary of how to best use these abilities:
1. If you’re at full or near full (>80%ish) health, save your brew charges, don’t use any. Obviously, use one on the pull since it’d just be wasted otherwise, but that’s it. Don’t pick up Gift of the Ox
2. If you’re damaged, but not in danger (probably 40-80% health, depending on the content), you’re in the sweet spot. Try to err as low as you can feel comfortable here. Use an Ironskin here or there, but don’t try to maintain it. Keep a spare brew charge or two in reserve for when you get dangerously low. Purify if you get over 40-50% Stagger. Still don’t pick up the healing spheres (some will expire and heal you automatically, that’s fine).
3. When you’re dangerously damaged (30-50%), don’t panic. Hit Ironskin for sure. Grab some healing spheres. If still dangerously low, grab the others and keep grabbing them as they spawn (which should be happening fairly frequently). Use Purify with a bit lower priority here; only Purify if you’re over 50-60% Stagger.
4. If you’re even lower than that, now it’s time to start panicking. Use Fortifying Brew
if you run out of Ironskins. Keep gobbling up the healing spheres. If things are really dire, Roll away from the mobs to buy a few more seconds.Conclusion
In summary, don’t panic. Let your health get moderately low. Maximize the effects of all your tools. Mix Ironskin and Purifying Brew
fairly evenly. Don’t try to keep Ironskin up the whole time; only use it when you’re in already damaged. Have fun!
Hope this helped. Feedback about how this feels to play would be great, and what parts of this didn’t seem intuitive or confusing. Thanks!
Secondly, Gift of the Ox
provides you with healing spheres, but it procs more often the lower health you are.