Unweaving the Mistweaver Mystery
So, Tzufit. How come you’re playing a monk now?
It’s a question I’ve been asked many times since last October, when the switch became more-or-less official. And, several times, I’ve explained that it has nothing to do with healing numbers or group composition for my raid team. We like our progression, but we are true believers in the oft-mocked “bring the player, not the class” doctrine. Members of our raid group are welcome to main whatever toon they want to play, as long as that toon can fill the role we need.
Nor was this the first time that I’ve claimed a new “main”character. At various times I’ve identified most with a gnome warlock, a Forsaken priest, a death knight tank, a resto druid, and now a Pandaren monk. While that might make me sound a bit flippant about my character choices, the decision to switch to a new main has always been a difficult one for me. Switching away from my druid – from Tzufit herself – was especially hard, in no small part because hers is the name by which the community knows me. Even now, Tzufit remains the GM of my guild, the name people generally call me in Vent, and it’s how I refer to myself in-game.
With all that baggage coming into the expansion, why did I decide to make the switch? What exactly does monk healing have that druid healing doesn’t, and OMG ARE YOU ABANDONING DRUIDS YOU JERKFACE?
I liked the vast majority of what was going on with druid healing in Cataclysm. With the major talent revamp in Mists of Pandaria, resto druids gained spells – and yet, I felt like I had fewer buttons to press. (A caveat here for any resto druids reading, shaking your heads, and thinking “she’s completely wrong!” … I probably am completely wrong. Like I said, I haven’t done much with my resto druid in either of the Mists raid tiers, so I have no doubt that I’m missing some of the bigger picture.)
Nourish wasn’t worth using anymore. (Alas, poor Nourish, I knew you well – in Wrath.) Healing Touch wasn’t worth using anymore. (Fine. Good riddance.) Healing Mushrooms, which I absolutely hated as a concept anyway, were still extremely situational at that point. My only consolation was that I had tree form back, but after finally coming to grips with my Night Elf model, I felt like I was going through yet another identity crisis.
Enter the monk.
From the moment the monk class was announced at Blizzcon 2011, I knew a few things. I knew I’d level a monk to 90, I knew that I would want to learn to heal, I knew I would probably love monk healing because I always wanted a true damage/healing hybrid, and I knew that Tzufit was going to have some serious competition.
My monk was in Mogu’shan Vaults the same week she hit 90. Tzufit was there for our first kills of Stone Guardians and Feng, but my monk was on the roster for everything else up to and including Lei Shen. I love this class.
I particularly love all the meta-games that accompany Mistweaver healing. I have to think about generating Chi, and decide when to spend it and when to save it. I have to spend enough Chi to generate stacks of Mana Tea so that I’ll have effective mana regeneration. And, of course, there’s Fistweaving, which is an entirely different playstyle that can either contribute meaningfully to DPS or just OOM you and potentially get you killed if you try to do it on certain encounters.
I’ve heard a few players say that Brewmasters are the most challenging tanks to play well, because there is so much more direct interaction with your abilities and your mitigation than for the other tanking classes. For me, Mistweavers are the most challenging (and interesting) healers for very similar reasons. No other healing class has such a direct responsibility for its mana management, or so many different options about how to approach an encounter.
Especially once your raid team starts to outgear content, healing in particular has a tendency to get boring. I enjoy healing because, before we get to that outgeared/on farm stage, each encounter is different every time I see it. One of the tanks might forget a cooldown this week, when he barely took any damage last week. A DPS could stand in fire this week, when she played perfectly last week. Healing is the least predictable of any of the roles, and that’s why I like it.
Mistweaver healing has continued to keep my interest, even after my raid team has normal ToT on farm, because there were other ways I could challenge myself. Because there are so many meta-games involved when I heal on my monk, I can invent new challenges. I can attempt to spend the entire fight DPSing and see how long I can go without casting a heal, or I can be completely wasteful with my mana and see how quickly I can get it all back. While there was some potential for this on my Druid (Wrath heroics “healed” as a boomkin, for example), it’s much more built-in to the Mistweaver spec than it is Resto.
Other factors went into my decision, of course. I’ve already written about my reasons for appreciating the female Pandaren model, I’m a huge fan of the lore and aesthetic of WoW’s monks, and the novelty of the class was also a draw. I’ll be brutally honest: I love the special-snowflake fuzzies that come from knowing that I’m one of a limited number of “casual” raiders who is working on heroic content with a Mistweaver monk. I enjoy feeling like the tiniest bit of a trailblazer in that regard.
For every other class in the game, including those that got major revamps going into Mists, Blizzard had to balance what they and the players wanted that class to be with all the history and nostalgia of what the class has always been. It’s the difference between designing your own home and remodeling an existing one. No matter how much Blizzard redesigns a class to modernize it, the class will inevitably be saddled with notions of what it used to be.
So I suppose the short answer (now that you’ve made it through 1000 words) is, I was ready for something new. Blizzard did an amazing job with the Mistweaver spec. I wasn’t convinced it was possible, but the developers managed to create a healer that feels different from every other healer in the game, but still feels like a spec that belongs in WoW. It’s the WoW we know and love, but it’s also brand new.
Meet Hachidori, my main. Maybe someday she’ll get promoted to GM. For today, she’s at least made it on to my blog’s header image.