Mistweaver 101: Fistweaving
Today we are finally going to talk about “Fistweaving!” I spent the first few posts in the series dancing around this topic specifically because it can be very difficult to understand and to do well. This guide will explain what exactly Fistweaving means, how it works, when we should use it, when we shouldn’t use it, and whether it is essential to Mistweaver healing.
It is also very important to note that the information contained below will certainly change with the release of Warlords of Draenor. Celestalon, one of the Blizzard game designers who is now handling most class design questions, has confirmed that Fistweaving will be substantially changed in the new expansion. Currently, Mistweavers can use both healing and damaging abilities in our healing stance. Blizzard intends to change this in Warlords of Draenor and create 2 separate stances – one specifically for Fistweaving and another for a more traditional stand-back-and-heal method. Thus, any information outlined below is likely to hold up only until we get a 6.0 patch.
What is Fistweaving?
Mistweaver Monks are able to heal our allies using our damaging abilities, and this is known as “Fistweaving.” The reason we are able to do so is because of a passive ability called Eminence. We gain the Eminence passive anytime that we are in Stance of the Wise Serpent. Since Wise Serpent is one of the abilities we learn as soon as we choose the Mistweaver spec at level 10, we are able to provide healing by doing damage from level 10 onward, though some of the specific buffs and debuffs we apply will come later.
Eminence converts 25% of the damage we do into healing, and it will only heal allies who are within 20 yards of us. Additionally, only non-autoattack damage will be converted to healing, so we cannot simply right click on the boss and do nothing else. Non-autoattack damage is any ability we must actually click/press to use (Jab, Tiger Palm, etc). Eminence is a “smart heal,” meaning that you cannot control who is healed by the damage you do. It will automatically heal an injured player in your group.
Our Jade Serpent Statue also interacts with the damage we do. The statue has its own version of the Eminence spell, which also converts 25% of your damage done to healing. The effects can stack, which means that if someone is within 20 yards of you and within 20 yards of your statue, then they will receive 50% of your damage as healing.
How do Mistweavers DPS?
Mistweaver Monks have 5 abilities that we use for damage:
Jab is our primary Chi generator when we are Fistweaving. It has a high Mana cost (8% of our Mana) and always generates 1 Chi. Note that the spell icon for Jab will change depending upon what type of weapon you have equipped. We must be within melee range of our target to hit them with Jab.
Tiger Palm costs 1 Chi and deals a moderate amount of damage to our target. It also applies a debuff to our target called Tiger Power, which allows our attacks to ignore 30% of our enemy’s armor. The debuff lasts for 2o seconds.
Each time you use Tiger Palm, you will gain a stack of a buff called Vital Mists, which reduces the cast time and Mana cost of your next Surging Mist by 20%. The buff stacks up to 5 times, and at 5 stacks your Surging Mist will cost no Mana and be instant cast.
This is where the Glyph of Surging Mist that we discussed yesterday can be handy. If you have an enemy targeted to do damage but want to use a free, instant-cast Surging Mist to heal an injured ally, then the glyph will allow you to do so without having to swap targets. The usefulness of this really depends upon how your action bars and interface are set up. Personally, since I use keybinds for damaging attacks and mousebinds via VuhDo for healing spells, it is just as easy for me to keep my hostile target and click in VuhDo to heal the person I want with my Surging Mist. Others may prefer to keep Surging Mist as a keybind and will find the glyph more helpful in that case. We’ll discuss some of the pros and cons of both setups in the upcoming UI post.
Blackout Kick costs 2 Chi and for Mistweavers it will hit not only your primary target for full damage, but also up to 4 additional nearby targets for 50% damage.
Blackout Kick also gives us the Serpent’s Zeal buff, which lasts for 30 seconds and allows our autoattacks to heal for 25% of their damage done. As with Eminence, Serpent’s Zeal affects our Jade Serpent Statue, causing it to also heal for 25% of our auto attack damage. Also as with Eminence, these 2 buffs can stack so that our autoattacks will do 50% of their damage as healing to any injured players who are in range of both the Mistweaver and her statue.
This means that as long as both we and our statue are within 20 yards of everyone in the raid group, and as long as we keep the Serpent’s Zeal buff up on ourselves, we will heal our group for 50% of our autoattack damage and 50% of our non-autoattack damage.
Crackling Jade Lightning is our ranged damaging spell. Like Soothing Mist, it has a 30% chance to generate 1 Chi. This is not something that we would work into a normal melee Fistweaving rotation, but if we are forced to stand at range then it is a way to continue dealing damage and generating Chi.
Spinning Crane Kick is an area-of-effect (AoE) damaging and healing spell that will generate 1 Chi as long as it hits (meaning damages or heals) at least 3 targets. For 2.25 seconds, it will spin your character around and slow her movement by 30% while it deals damage or heals anyone within 8 yards. If you intend to use this ability regularly, you should take the glyph that will remove the movement speed penalty. You are not entirely in control of your character when you use Spinning Crane Kick, in that you can still move her but you cannot use any other abilities until it finishes. If for some reason it is necessary, you can cancel the channel with a /cancelaura macro or by right clicking the buff on your character.
In order to generate the 1 Chi from hitting 3 targets, you can hit 3 different targets at any point during the channel of the spell. If you hit 2 targets at the start but miss another that is close by, you can move to that target before the channel ends to ensure that you generate your Chi.
Spinning Crane Kick actually does quite a bit of damage and is a great way to pick off low-health targets in a 5-man dungeon or a raid trash pack. It does, however, cost 7.2% of your Mana each time you cast it, so it is unlikely that you will be able to use it several times in a row without running out of Mana.
Choosing the Rushing Jade Wind talent in your level 90 talent tier will transform this spell and change the way that it works. We will cover that change in the Cooldowns, Talents, & Glyphs post in this series.
Fistweaving Mana Management
Fistweaving can be incredibly Mana-intensive if you are not careful about how your abilities interact with each other. As you can see above, our primary Chi generator is quite expensive. To counteract this, we have a passive ability called Muscle Memory.
Muscle Memory is a buff that will appear on your character after you successfully Jab a target, or hit (damage or heal) 3 targets with Spinning Crane Kick. You will know that it has activated because you will notice that your Tiger Palm and Blackout Kick buttons will have a gold outline around them and will light up. When Muscle Memory is active, your next Tiger Palm or Blackout Kick will deal 150% additional damage and, most importantly it will return 4% of your Mana.
This means that Fistweaving is not “Mana-neutral.” I will spend either 8% of my Mana on Jab or 7.2% of my Mana on Spinning Crane Kick, and then only return 4% with Muscle Memory. This also means that we must be very careful not to waste Muscle Memory when we get it.
If I Jab a target and then immediately Jab the target again, I have just wasted Muscle Memory. The buff does not stack, so if I do not Tiger Palm or Blackout Kick before I Jab again, then I have lost the ability to regenerate 4% of my Mana from that first Jab.
Here’s a simple scenario: I have 1 Chi. I use Jab to generate a second Chi, and then I spend that 2 Chi on Uplift. Now I have left Muscle Memory on myself and I have no Chi to use either Tiger Palm or Blackout Kick. In this situation, I would probably want to use any other Chi generator besides Jab (so perhaps Expel Harm or Soothing Mist, or maybe even Chi Brew) to get enough Chi back so that I can Tiger Palm or Blackout Kick and use up that Muscle Memory before I Jab again.
That may sound complicated but it is an important point to understand if you want to Fistweave. You never want to Jab several times in a row without using up the Muscle Memory buff each time. Because Fistweaving is already Mana-expensive and because even with perfect Muscle Memory use you won’t return all the Mana that you spend, it is essential that you weave those Tiger Palms and Blackout Kicks in between your Jabs.
Fistweaving While Leveling
From levels 10 until you have access to both Renewing Mist (at level 42) and Uplift (at level 62), I highly recommend Fistweaving as you heal in low-level dungeons. Because Mana regeneration is much faster at lower levels, particularly if you are wearing heirlooms, you will be much less likely to run out of Mana than you are at 90. You will also find, again particularly if you are wearing heirlooms, that you do quite a bit of damage as a low-level Mistweaver. You may find yourself topping both the healing and the DPS charts in your dungeons.
You will gain access to Muscle Memory at level 20, and I recommend that from that point on you practice switching between Jabs and Tiger Palm or Blackout Kick to use up the buff each time. While you will not need the mana return at this level, it is a good idea to get used to this style of healing early on so that it feels more natural at 90.
Some of the passive abilities described above, including Vital Mists and Serpent’s Zeal, are granted through a passive called Teachings of the Monastery that you will learn at level 34. Teachings of the Monastery will also grant a passive damage increase to Tiger Palm and Crackling Jade Lightning, so you are likely to see yourself doing increased damage after this point.
At level 62 you will learn Uplift. At this point, I suggest running a few dungeons in which you do not Fistweave at all. It may be a little boring if you have an overgeared tank, but it is extremely important to learn how your traditional healing spells work, too. Once you are comfortable healing without Fistweaving, slowly begin to reintroduce your DPS abilities back into your rotation. As always, ensure that you are using up each proc of Muscle Memory as you Jab so that you will be used to doing this when you hit max level.
Fistweaving at Level 90
At max level, Fistweaving can serve many purposes. It can be a fun way to run through some Heroic dungeons or scenarios, especially when you outgear the content. (Again, depending upon gear level you may find yourself at the top of both the healing and DPS meters once more.) In progression raiding, Fistweaving can also provide that needed extra DPS to beat a boss’ enrage timer.
Yet Fistweaving at level 90 is also considerably more difficult than it is as you level up. Raid boss abilities are far more likely to be unfriendly to melee than a low-level dungeon boss’ abilities are. If you choose to Fistweave on boss fights, it is absolutely essential that you understand the bosses’ mechanics from the viewpoint of a melee DPS.
Mana management also becomes a constant and more challenging concern than while you are leveling. The vast majority of beginner and mid-level Mistweavers will find that they generate less Chi on average when they are Fistweaving than they do when they stand back and heal. This means that you will also have fewer stacks of Mana Tea to go to when it is time to refill your Mana pool.
Particularly if you are raiding in a traditional 10-man setting with 2 healers, you will find that while Fistweaving can supplement your healing and provide a solid DPS boost to your group on some fights, there is no way that Fistweaving alone will do enough healing to keep your raid standing. It will be essential for you to use a combination of DPS abilities and your traditional healing spells. Additionally, if you are looking for sheer heals-per-second (HPS) output, Fistweaving will almost always provide lower HPS than traditional healing for beginner and mid-level Mistweaver healers. So, given all that …
Do I Have to Fistweave?
The simple answer: No.
Fistweaving is a lot of fun and it can help your group’s overall DPS. But it is absolutely not essential to Fistweave to be a successful Mistweaver healer. Frankly, if you are having difficulty with keeping people standing as you are healing now, I’d recommend removing Fistweaving from your rotation, healing using the spells described in the Basics and Breakdown posts, and seeing if that doesn’t improve your success.
Some of the resources and guides for Mistweaver Monks will tell you that you must Fistweaver in order to get the most out of your healer. As always, keep in mind that guides are written from the perspective of their authors, who are perhaps progressing at a very high level and do need to provide as much DPS to their raid group as possible in order to defeat encounters.
But again, if you are healing as an LFR player or a generally casual raider who is progressing through a raid tier well after world-first kills have happened, Fistweaving is entirely optional. If you feel comfortable standing in melee and if you are able to generate enough Chi through Fistweaving to reliably regenerate your Mana, then go for it.
Also remember that you can pick and choose fights to Fistweave versus heal traditionally. Mistweavers are very lucky in that the game perceives us as melee players, regardless of whether we are actually standing in melee. Many abilities that do not target melee will not target us, meaning that if there is a boss whose mechanics are more of a headache for ranged players (Siegecrafter Blackfuse’s sawblades or Jin’Rokh’s orbs, for example), then we can stand in the melee pile and not have to worry that we will end up being targeted by those abilities.
I can’t stress enough that you should absolutely experiment and try different fights using different styles. Don’t be afraid to Fistweave for 30 seconds at the beginning of the fight and then switch off to traditional healing once the heavy damage goes off. The Mistweaver spec is extremely flexible and it is important that you find a playstyle that works for you as a healer. If that playstyle involves Fistweaving, great! If it doesn’t, that’s perfectly fine too.
Up Next: Cooldowns, Talents, & Glyphs
The next post in the Mistweaver 101 series will discuss our Cooldowns, Talents, & Glyph choices. Hopefully this should start pulling some things together and providing a clear view of how everything interacts. Questions and comments are always welcome!