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Unweaving the Mistweaver Mystery

July 8, 2013

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.


10 Comments leave one →
  1. July 8, 2013 9:32 am

    “Meet Hachidori, my main.” Was that a difficult sentence to write, or a joyful one?

    • July 8, 2013 9:35 am

      Yes. 😛

    • July 8, 2013 9:41 am

      Of course, you know you need a “Monk Blogroll” now.

    • July 8, 2013 9:42 am

      I will probably change that to “Healing Blogroll.” There aren’t that many monk bloggers around.

  2. July 8, 2013 12:53 pm

    I made a similar decision to switch from my druid to my monk. Monk healing has the extra DPS component that keeps it interesting for me. I feel our guild usually needs 2 and a half healers for most fights, and the monk does that perfectly. It was a tough decision to mentally switch myself from being “Elayda the druid” to “Renala the monk” even though everyone else did it fairly easily.

  3. July 8, 2013 6:04 pm

    I suspect my Monk is about to become my “main” too (she already is on the guild screen despite only being level 86). In many ways she reminds me of my Resto Druid back in vanilla. I love the mobility in pvp coupled with the utility and awesome healing.

    The fact that I have to think about what I’m doing, maximizing my chi usage and cooldowns helps as does the fact that I have blue lightning and can kick Goblins in the face (especially that last bit).

    • July 9, 2013 9:31 am

      I haven’t done much PvP on my monk, but I do love the mobility for raiding as well. And, yeah – blue lightning + kicking people in the face is pretty great all around.

  4. July 8, 2013 6:33 pm

    This is a very familiar story to me. 🙂 Sometime last summer, in the beta, I too fell in love with the monk class. Being a hunter blogger and enthusiast, it really caused me some internal struggle. I would tell my guild “of course I’ll still be a hunter!”, yet my monk was my first character to get to 90. I got my hunter there as well relatively fast, but when I logged into the game for the day, I always logged my monk first; to do dailies, heroics and scenarios. I leveled archaeology, cooking and even fishing (!!!) on her rather than logging Lae. Poor Lae… 😦 Lae participated in the guild’s first kills in Mogu’shan Vaults, just like your druid, but it felt so wrong! I started thinking that I would rather not raid than to play like this… So I finally got brave enough to say “Yeah, so uhm, it seems I’m changing to my monk”. The rest of the raid team had already known for months already of course, so this was news only for myself. 🙂 Six months as Windwalker, and now two months as Brewmaster, and I still love it so much and adore my monk! I promoted her to Guild Master a couple of months ago, I got fed up with logging over to fix everything… Seeing Lae as “Alt”-rank is definitely weird. And so is the realisation that even though I always have a Main I’m very attached to, now that I’ve been Hunter – Priest – Hunter – Monk, I can’t really view myself as being very loyal to a specific class any longer.

    Well, sorry for the long comment. I liked your post a lot, even though I don’t heal. 🙂 At all. If I were to heal ever it would have to be Atonement or Fistweaving definitely.

  5. Taser permalink
    July 9, 2013 2:40 am

    I’d say over 95% of all monks are in a similar situation. Some, like me, already decided to reroll monk during beta, some others made their decisions over the last couple of months. But nearly all needed to leave behind a former main. For me that was an elemental shaman that I played from end of BC until 8/8 HC DS. It is especially difficult if you have been an active theorycrafter and blogger as your former ingame-self. I still use the name of my shaman as nick and I don’t know when I am going to change. It is the same problem that you have…being know as that specific character with that name. The blog now is centered around monks and especially brewmasters, but I cannot let my shaman go completely.


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