Why You Should (or Shouldn’t) Play a Mistweaver Monk
When Mists of Pandaria was first announced, I wrote a post detailing my fears about the new expansion. Primarily, I was afraid of 3 things (some of which I owned up to that post, and some of which I didn’t):
- I was afraid it would be awful, silly, and ridiculous.
- I was afraid my guildmates would hate it and leave the game.
- I was afraid that I would roll a monk and love her more than my druid.
Fortunately, I’ve come to realize that Fear 1 was pretty stupid and based on a snap judgment of what Pandaria would be about. Fear 2 is still a concern, as we certainly lost plenty of guild members during Cataclysm, not all of whom have returned. And then there’s Fear 3.
The idea of the Monk class really appealed to me when it was announced. I have always wanted to play a DPS/healer hybrid, but have yet to find one that balanced both damage and healing output very well (in WoW or elsewhere). Atonement healing in Cataclysm was very fun, particularly while leveling priests, but the system didn’t translate to max level. Atonement priests would Smite to 5 stacks of Evangelism, and then use Archangel to increase their healing. It wasn’t truly a damage-to-heal model at 85, so it lost my interest at that point. Monks seemed like maybe they would cross that bridge.
I am absolutely loving the healing style of the Mistweaver Monk, and – depending upon how I feel about it at level 90 – this “alt” may end up getting a lot of play in this expansion. The healing style is incredibly different from what most seasoned healers will be used to, and it probably isn’t something that’s going to have universal appeal. This is not, for example, a healing alt you should create simply because you want to have one of every type of healer (my Paladin exists and made it to 85 purely for this reason).
So you’re thinking about creating a Mistweaver and leveling to 90. Here are a few questions to consider first:
- Have you ever played a melee DPS class? Did you hate it?
If you don’t like melee DPS, you’re not going to like playing a Mistweaver. As soon as you choose the Mistweaver spec, you will learn the Stance of the Wise Serpent. In addition to converting your energy to mana, this stance also grants you Eminence, which will do the vast majority of your healing early on. Eminence will heal the target with the lowest health within 20 yards for 50% of your non-auto attack damage. Simply put, each time you deal damage from any of your abilities, you will heal someone for 50% of the damage you deal.
At low levels in particular, I saw many Mistweavers who were content to stand back and cast their first heal, Soothing Mist, and never get anywhere near the melee pile. I found this a little baffling, since you are literally doing nothing but channeling a single spell for the entire dungeon if this is your early healing strategy. Personally, I had a lot more fun running through low level dungeons doing almost nothing but DPSing, trying to see what the limits of Eminence really were, and getting a feeling for how often I would actually need to cast Soothing Mist.
On my monk, I generally spend about 95% of my time within melee range of the boss and/or mobs. While, strictly speaking, this is not absolutely necessary to be able to do your job as a Mistweaver, you are significantly impairing your healing if you are not close enough to use your melee attacks. At level 34 you will learn Teachings of the Monastery, which will cause Tiger Palm and Blackout Kick to provide buffs to your healing, and you want to have near 100% uptime on each of these. In addition, Jab is your cheapest way to generate Chi, a resource you will need in order to cast many of your healing spells.
Without going into a long explanation of Mistweaver healing, I think the point is already clear that the monk is designed to be the melee healer. If you hate playing melee DPS (and there are plenty of reasons to hate it, as I’ll discuss below) this is probably not the class for you.
- Do you have trouble with situational awareness and standing in the bad?
Truth talk: Some healers spend a lot of time standing in fire, and they get away with it because they can heal themselves. They also get away with it because they usually aren’t standing in melee, where some of the worst one-shot cleave and whirlwind mechanics happen. If you are the healer who never volunteers to stand with the melee pile because you know you’re probably going to get yourself killed, this is not the class for you.
Let’s face it – there are a lot of things melee DPS have to deal with that ranged don’t. Boss mechanics are notoriously tougher on melee due to positional requirements, having to chase the boss around the room to DPS it, and lots of bad things to avoid standing in. If you’re playing a Mistweaver, all these problems are now your problems.
- Are you capable of and/or willing to set up a UI that can function simultaneously for healing and DPSing purposes?
All the stuff that a healer needs to see on their UI (player health levels, debuffs, HoT durations), a Mistweaver needs to see. And all the stuff that a DPS needs to see (your debuffs on the boss, buffs on yourself, ability timers for yourself and for the boss), a Mistweaver needs to see. While my Mistweaver has fewer spells bound through Vuhdo than a lot of my other healers, she has way more keybinds and mousebinds in general.
Some of this is due to spells like Healing Spheres and my Jade Serpent Statue, which require me to place them on the ground. But a lot of my additional keybinds are for buttons I need to DPS while I heal. I’m still trying to work out my own ideal setup for all this, but I know that whatever I do I’m going to end up with a pretty complex UI for my Mistweaver.
- Are you in love with the small cheap/fast expensive/large slow healing model?
… because Monk healing breaks it completely. You have something that’s somewhat equivalent to a fast heal in Surging Mist, but even that interacts much differently than your typical Flash Heal because it’s an instant cast if you’re already channeling Soothing Mist. The closest thing you have to a small cheap heal is Soothing Mist, but that’s really a long channeled spell that’s hard to compare to any other heal in the game.
Most Mistweaver spells are very different from any existing healing spells, so if you are a big fan of the current healing system and aren’t interested in learning a completely different model, this class probably isn’t for you.
- Does having 2 resources to manage sound frustrating?
Mana and Chi are both essential to Mistweaver healing. Some of your heals will cost mana (and usually these generate or have a chance to generate Chi), and others will cost Chi. Your mana-return mechanic, Mana Tea, is dependent upon using Chi. It’s a slightly complicated system, but one which flows really well once you get the hang of it. The point is, though, that you are going to have to get the hang of it. You have two resource bars to watch now instead of just one, and you’re going to experience some frustration the first time you hear your Monk tell you that you “don’t have enough Chi to do that.”
- Have you played a healer before?
I’m of two minds about this one. On the one hand, I think that a player who hasn’t healed before may not experience a lot of the problems seasoned healers will with Mistweavers. They won’t have a lot of preconceived ideas about standing at range, always casting, and what tools a healing system should have.
On the other hand, I’d have a really difficult time recommending this class to a first-time healer. One of the most important things seasoned healers acquire is a keen sense of “oh no, things are starting to go bad.” Early in your healing experience, it may be difficult to see the difference between a normal damage spike and a true emergency, or even realizing that there is a difference between these things. For monks, this is particularly important because they need to develop an idea of when to stop doing damage and start focusing on direct healing.
As much as I stressed the importance of being in melee and doing damage earlier, there will still be times when this simply isn’t enough to counteract the damage your group is taking. One of the most important things you need to learn as you level your Mistweaver is how much damage you can heal through with your DPS and instant spells, and at what point you need to switch to the big heals. It’s going to be a bit of a weird balance for anyone to figure out, and I think it will be doubly so for someone who isn’t already familiar with the ebb and flow of healing spikes.
So, you’re saying I shouldn’t try a Mistweaver, huh?
Absolutely not! If you read all the questions above and kept thinking to yourself, “She’s crazy, this all sounds like a blast,” then this just may be the class for you! I’m having a ton of fun on my Mistweaver, and I can’t wait to get her into some Pandaria dungeons in the next few weeks.
If you’re really looking to dive into the complexities of this class, I highly recommend Icy Veins’ Guide to the Mistweaver Monk. It is extremely helpful for anyone who wants to get a sense of how Mistweaver abilities work at max level. The best learning experience, however, is actually logging on and rolling your Mistweaver. The class’ damage output and passive healing makes it extremely easy to quest in your healing spec – since I never have to stop to replenish my health, I actually find it more efficient to quest this way than in my Windwalker spec. Currently, dungeon queues are running from anywhere between instant to 10 minutes depending upon the level and time of day.
So yes, definitely, try it and see whether this brand new healing style suits you! Mistweavers are incredibly fun and a really unique new challenge. Given how much I’m enjoying my panda, this probably won’t be the last you hear from me on the topic.