In this episode of the state of healers series, we’ll explore Shadowlands Mistweaver Monks and see how these masters of martial arts will yield the healing and protective powers of the Mists of Pandaria to aid the realm of death.
Currently all classes with their updated toolkits are able to be tested, but so much has changed with each healer on a base level and the introduction of covenants adds a completely new twist and set of tools for each class. Moreover, we have still yet to see the full toolkits for healers as soulbinds, conduits, and legendaries have yet to be tested. Additionally, only a limited amount of content is available for testing including the Bastion and Revendreth leveling zones, Torghast, Tower of the Damned, and 3 leveling dungeons (The Necrotic Wake, Halls of Atonement, and Mists of Tirna Scithe). The types of encounters have just as much of an impact on healer balance as the toolkits of the healers themselves.
Although we don’t have the entirety of healing toolkits and Shadowlands content to test, we can and should still offer feedback on the current state of healers on the Alpha. This series will attempt to give a first look at each healer specialization in Shadowlands and hopefully provide early feedback on the current changes including baseline toolkits, covenants, and even the hot topic of abilities that feel lackluster still on the GCD.
Previous articles (ie. Ny’alotha and Eternal Palace) ranked healers according to desirability in previous raid tiers. While those articles were helpful especially for new and returning healers to determine what healers would be in high demand, it’s nearly impossible to determine any sort of ranking or demand this early in development of Shadowlands due to how much is still unknown or in flux regarding healing.
Remember, this is only my opinion on healers so far in Shadowlands and primarily comes from a PvE point of view. Everyone should provide as much constructive feedback as possible. As always, the information presented here is based on the 9.0 Alpha cycle as of this article’s release date and thus will almost certainly be inaccurate when the Shadowlands officially launches. Expect lots of changes to classes, covenants, soulbinds, conduits, legendaries, items, and encounters between now and launch. It should be noted that we’re trying to hit the major changes to each class, yet for the sake of brevity we won’t cover every single spell differential or mana cost reduction. If you’re interested in the entirety of the spell differentials for each class please see the Class Change link listed at the top of the section for each class.
About the Author
|This article is written by Jaydaa a veteran healer and contributing writer to both World of Warcraft content and other Blizzard games content here on Wowhead. I’ve been raiding in WoW for almost 15 years at various levels of progression. I’ve contributed to the theorycrafting of multiple healing classes, notably Mistweaver Monks and Restoration Druids. Find me on Twitter or on the Wowhead Discord username Jaydaa#2814.|
Contributions by Wowhead Mistweaver Guide Writer Anomoly, the Mistweaver Admin in the PeakOfSerenity discord server and Mistweaver lead for the Monk class site Peak of Serenity. You can also jump into his Twitch channel to discuss all things Mistweaver, WoW, or other gaming topics.
Monk Class Changes
Baseline Toolkit Changes
Because we don’t have a lot of Shadowlands content to test, we’ll be primarily be looking at how MIstweaver Monks have changed since Battle for Azeroth, especially in the stripped down world of healing sans Azerite, Essences, and Corruption. MIstweaver Monks are an interesting case because Corruption along with some talent buffs in 8.3 gave rise to the Rising Mist Fistweaving build that dominated Ny’alotha, the Waking City healing for a short time before a recent nerf brought it to similar levels as the Upwelling build.
WarcraftLogs Healer Aggregate Scores at 95th Percentile for Mythic Ny’alotha
With both builds doing similar throughput, there’s an interesting opportunity available in Shadowlands to truly support both a caster and melee healing playstyle for Mistweaver Monks. As we look at the spell changes for Mistweavers, I’ll try to highlight how the changes affect each build.
- New Baseline Mistweaver Monk Abilities:
NEW – Works almost identically to the live version of Invoke Chi-Ji, the Red Crane with a Jade Serpent skin instead. The intial Shadowlands Class Update Blog suggested that this incarnation would also spawn healing spheres for nearby injured players, but currently on Alpha the functionality does not appear to be implemented. Reinforcing Monk ties to the Celestials of Pandaria is a win in my book, so this cooldown being added baseline is a nice addition to the toolkit. However, the cooldown is still a bit weak and bland overall. It’s sorta this set and forget ability that you don’t really interact with for either Mistweaver build besides seeing it speed around the battlefield. If Yu’lon left a healing increase on the target or interacted with mastery in some way, then I’d feel like I was engaging with the Celestial rather than him being a mindless pet.
- NEW & NEW Rank 2 (Mistweaver Level 52) – For Mistweavers, the current iteration of Expel Harm is suffering from a major identity crisis. To put the ability in perspective, the last time Expel Harm was in our toolkit it was a cheap self-heal with small damage component, but also produced 1 chi when we still used that resource. The current incarnation allows us to hit ourselves and our Soothing Mist target with Vivify amount of healing while dealing a small amount of damage to a nearby enemy. While that may seem reasonable, when you factor in that Expel Harm is more expensive than a Vivify, doesn’t do any Mastery: Gust of Mists healing, doesn’t cleave to Renewing Mist targets, and has a 15s cooldown, the problems start to emerge. Early datamining suggests that upon use you’ll spawn a few additional Healing Spheres, but that functionality does not appear to be hooked up on Alpha if it’s still intended.
- NEW & NEW Rank 2 – A solid hard hitting ability on a 3 min cooldown. The return of Touch of Death is a nice addition to the base toolkit, but not gamebreaking. I do however love the enormous healing when using Touch of Death with Invoke Chi-Ji, the Red Crane up turning this purely damage based cooldown into a healing one albeit very niche. The intial Shadowlands Class Update Blog suggested that this incarnation would also spawn healing spheres for nearby injured players, but that functionality has yet to appear on Alpha.
- Modified Mistweaver Monk Abilities
Fortifying Brew Turns your skin to stone, increasing your current and maximum health by 20%15%, and reducing damage taken by 20%15% for 15 sec.
Cooldown changed from 1.5 min cooldown to 2 min cooldown
A minor nerf to the primary Mistweaver defensive. While this isn’t huge, the nerfs feel like this is done to accommodate Fortifying Brew in the Windwalker toolkit which would warrant the nerfs and Mistweavers are just the casualties of this ability becoming class-wide.
The base toolkit for Mistweaver Monks hasn’t received enough change in my opinion. While the new baseline abilities are nice, most don’t have any interaction with Mastery: Gust of Mists which further devalues the stat which has been a major issue since Legion. Mastery having zero impact on the baseline abilities of Revival and now Invoke Yul’on, the Jade Serpent and the majority of the Rising Mist playstyle means that mastery will continue to be an inferior stat until something is done about it.
Because none of the functionality seems to be hooked up on Alpha for the new abilities, it’s hard to determine if Healing Spheres are intended to make a return as a relevant part of our toolkit. While it’d be nice to have them as extra throughput for these abilities, the reasons they were initially removed from the toolkit still remain. Mostly that Healing Spheres spawn randomly, the player has no control over who they heal, and if the encounter moves away from the sphere then the healing is lost.
- NEW – Replaces Invoke Yul’on, the Jade Serpent – Summons an effigy of Chi-Ji, the Red Crane for 25 sec. Chi-Ji causes you to become immune to all movement impairing effects, and increases your Physical damage by 25%.
Dealing Physical damage causes Chi-Ji to heal 3 nearby allies for 150% of all damage done.
Tier 6 Talent, in place of Invoke Chi-Ji, the Red Crane
The new Invoke Chi-Ji, the Red Crane is almost exactly like PvP talent Way of the Crane with a few notable differences. At a 2 minute cooldown, you’ll be using this spell less frequently but the duration has changed from 15s to 25s to help offset the cooldown. The huge win for this talent is the free mana cost. No longer will you pay a quarter of your mana or be forced to line it up with Mana Tea in order to just activate the ability. Invoke Chi-Ji, the Red Crane unfortunately has also inherited all the downside of the previous incarnation in which the player lacked control over who was being healed. We’ve all seen the clips where the hunter who’s standing in the middle of nowhere is dying while the melee are all sitting at full health. Perhaps, the idle Chi-ji that we summon could instead be summoned to a particular location where the bird would replicate a portion of the healing in that particular area. Additionally, this talent still has no interaction with Mastery meaning you’ll want to prioritize other stats to make the most out of this talent.
Mistweavers herald the addition of Invoke Chi-Ji, the Red Crane as a welcome change, but unfortunately more needs to be done to the talent system. One of the main points of contention will be the almost non-existent interaction with Mastery: Gust of Mists and any of the talents. Other healers know their talents will Atone, Echo, or benefit in someway from Mastery. Mastery feels like a core part of those classes while it feels like a tacked on relic for Mistweavers. Talents like Chi Wave have seen almost no use since their inception yet still remain unchanged in the current tree. Summon Jade Serpent Statue was ripped from the core toolkit in what feels like a way to fill a talent opening instead of making a new worthy addition to the tree. If Shadowlands is truly meant to be heralded as the great unpruning and a renewed focus on class design, then this talent tree could use a makeover.
Weapons of Order – Probably the most powerful covenant ability for Mistweaver Monks so far, but very expensive and has a few limitations. For mana expense, you’ll be paying the direct mana cost of Weapons of Order which is about 2.5 Vivify, the Essence Font prior to casting the ability so you’re granted the Essence Font reset, and three additional Essence Font while the ability is up to make the most out of the AoE healing pulse for each Essence Font channel start and end. Factor in filling with Vivify between Essence Font casts to make good use of the increased mastery and that’s an absolute ton of mana. Luckily, the throughput of the extra mastery and the AoE pulse can be worth it as the AoE pulse currently heals for a little more than a Revival but unfortunately the range seems to be around 8-12 yds meaning you’ll need the raid to be stacked up or have a decent melee clump in order to make good use of this extra healing.
- Summon Steward – The steward offers some quality of life options like free talent changes or a vendor to sell things, but it essentially boils down to Phial of Serenity, a glorified healthstone for all intents and purposes. The healing will be nice and contribute albeit minimally to throughput, and the bleed and curse dispel for Mistweaver Monks could come in handy as you can’t normally dispel those; however, the circumstances where the phial will be invaluable will be few and far between compared to other covenant abilities which are more universally valuable.
Fallen Order – The adepts summoned via this ability offer both damage and and healing, but overall the healing increase especially for a 3 minute cooldown seems weak in its current iteration. Healing adepts mostly heal with Soothing Mist and I couldn’t quite seem to get them to cast Enveloping Mist despite being spec’d as Mistweaver. Fairly underwhelming in its current state from a healing throughput standpoint. Could use some fine tuning to feel more impactful at a 3min cooldown. Having the Tiger Adepts use Rising Sun Kick that works with Rising Mist could go a long way in tying in fistweaving with this covenant.
- Door of Shadows – Quite possibly the star of the covenant signature abilities, it’s hard to say no to a 35yd teleport with a minute cooldown even if it has a 1.5s cast time. This type of movement is almost universally valuable and it’s hard to think of an occasion where it’d be useless. Full Venthyr dungeon groups can plan skips around this ability. As a Mistweaver Monk, our mobility is top notch, but I will never say no to more.
Bonedust Brew – While this sounds okay on paper if you do the math this equates to 3.75% more healing/damage to targets affected by Bonedust Brew. At a 1 min cooldown and 10s duration that’s less than 1% healing gained from the healing/damage replication and even less when you factor in the GCD spent to cast it. The extra Mastery: Gust of Mists healing will be nice but comes in at slightly less than a third of a Vivify in terms of value. Cool in theory but needs some numbers behind it to feel impactful. Perhaps an upfront large heal similar to Downpour would go a long way to making this ability feel viable. Also the extra damage is applied as Shadow Damage meaning Fistweavers can’t even utilize the extra damage with Invoke Chi-Ji, the Red Crane to have it heal.
- Fleshcraft – This extra self survivability will be nice and as an absorb will contribute minimally to overall throughput, but where this one loses me is the 4s channel. Adding another long channel to Mistweaver’s toolkit alongside Essence Font is not exactly something we want. I would really like to see the channel time reduced or allowing this ability to channel while moving would go a long way to making this ability more palatable. Even with those changes it’s a bit of a hard sell against the other movement oriented covenant signature abilities.
- Night Fae:
Faeline Stomp – The main advocate for using this ability is it’s free and you’ll make fairly frequent use out of it at a 30s cooldown. Unfortunately there are many downsides. First, the upfront damage doesn’t translate to healing. Because the damage is nature, it can’t be used in conjuction with Invoke Chi-Ji, the Red Crane to heal. There’s also no upfront healing component only the damage component. The healing component for this spell is only the Essence Font bolts and your group will need to be stacked up to utilize them. Consider this a small free Essence Font every 30s and it’s not bad but with a few tweaks it could be way better.
- Soulshape As someone who adored Displacer Beast, it’s nice to see this come back as an option although more watered down. Blinks and teleports are universally valuable and while it might not be the Venthyr ability this is a strong second place option. You likely won’t be coming up with skips for such a limited 10 yard blink, but you get 3 in the 12s duration so you may have some opportunities to blink over some particularly nasty mechanics. Comes with a cosmetic collecting minigame which is fantastic.
We don’t have the full class toolkit yet with soulbinds, conduits, and legendaries still to be released, so it’s hard to make a clear choice right now as to what covenant is the best and for what type of content. However, if I had to pick one now based solely on the information we have on Alpha I think I’d be hardpressed not to pick Kyrian for Mistweaver Monks. Weapons of Order has uses for both Mistweaving and Fistweaving albeit less value for Fistweaving. It’s expensive but the extra throughput is clearly there. Venthyr could be an interesting secondary option especially with its exceptional signature ability, but right now it just feels fairly unimpactful for a 3min cooldown. The other two covenants just need a pass with Mistweavers and healing in mind. There’s good stuff there, but they fall short in their current iterations.
Developers moved a fair number of abilities onto the GCD with Battle for Azeroth and players have been passionate about voicing their opposition to this decision ever since. The topic has continually been brought up in interviews and forums reigniting the debate every few months. While some abilities have been improved to empower their activation, many of these GCDs still feel hollow or unimpactful. Typically, this topic is brought up from DPS and Tank players, but there are a significant number of these abilities still impacting healers today.
- Mana Tea – In BFA, Mana Tea was placed on the GCD and given a 2s duration increase to compensate similar to Innervate. If Innervate feels like a lackluster GCD then Mana Tea should feel even worse for much of the same reasons. First, there’s no upfront benefit of Mana Tea. You activate the ability but there isn’t this feeling of instantly feeling more powerful. Instead you feel like the leaky faucet that is mana usage on Mistweaver Monk is a little less leaky. Because it’s only 50% mana reduction, yes you can spam more spells but you still have to be conscious of how much mana you’re spending because it’s not completely free. Finally, because it’s a 1.5min cooldown instead of the 3min cooldown of Innervate you have to spend twice the GCDs for relatively the same benefit. Taking Mana Tea off the GCD returns the ability to a more strategic use without the awkward GCD downtime. This would fit well with the other drinks of the toolkit Thunder Focus Tea, Fortifying Brew, and Healing Elixir. If it’s not removed from the GCD, then Mana Tea at the very least needs to feel impactful upon activation. A small mana injection or healing steroid would go a long way here.
- Invoke Yul’on, the Jade Serpent & Invoke Chi-Ji, the Red Crane – While these are somewhat new to Shadowlands, their BFA incarnations had lackluster GCDs and it stands to reason they’ll suffer the same in Shadowlands without some changes. Invoke Yul’on, the Jade Serpent doesn’t feel powerful often times feeling more like a glorified Healing Stream Totem than invoking a magnificent Celestial of Pandaria. Yes, you get this trickle of healing, but there’s no interaction with the Celestial beyond that. I don’t feel more powerful when Yu’lon is on the battlefield. Invoke Chi-Ji, the Red Crane is slightly better because when you activate the ability you get the movement impairment immunity and then you feel empowered, but you still have that GCD downtime. A double damage buff to the first ability a players uses would make that GCD feel more impactful.
Before I leave you, I just want to add some of my own personal requests for Mistweavers. Some are critical and others are minor, but Shadowlands seems like a perfect opportunity to see some changes.
- Mastery: Gust of Mists – In case it wasn’t completely obvious from the above article. I have some issues with Mistweaver Monk Mastery. If Mastery doesn’t affect more aspects of the toolkit, then stats like Critical Strike and Versatility will continue to dominate and provide scaling issues for Mistweavers throughout the course of an expansion. This issue is further compounded when you have additional systems (Azerite and Essences) that provide a substantial amount of throughput but don’t interact with Mastery. Hopefully, Covenants, Soulbinds, Conduits, and Legendaries for Mistweavers will take this into account. While I don’t want to return to hidden coefficients when Mastery interacted with every spell, I think there’s a healthier compromise than what currently exists, especially as it pertains to both Mistweaving and the popular Fistweaving builds of today.
- Fistweaving – As part of the original class fantasy of Mistweavers, I hope this core dichotomy continues to be carved out. Healing as a master of melee martial arts should be embraced as fully as Glimmer of Light Holy Paladins. Core systems of Shadowlands like Legendaries, Soulbind, Conduits should take this playstyle into consideration and offer ways to support it.
- Crane and Serpent Customization – As these two playstyles coexist for Mistweaver Monks, so too should the cosmetics to match. I want to fully embrace the crane fistweaving style with red cosmetics for Rising Sun Kick or Spinning Crane Kick.
- Chi Wave – This talent hasn’t felt good since nearly its inception, but as someone who has played with the Druid Necrolord Covenant ability Adaptive Swarm I know what a fun back and forth ability feels like. I’m definitely not wanting to homogenize the two abilities, but if Chi Wave took a few steps in the direction of Adaptive Swarm I definitely wouldn’t complain.
That’s a wrap for now for Mistweaver Monks. I hope you enjoyed the breakdown. More Shadowlands healer breakdowns will be coming very soon so stay tuned to Wowhead.