In the episode of Monk Meditation that I participated in, we touched on the subject of what we want to see in Legion regarding Mistweavers. This is such an interesting topic that I’d like to expand a little on it. I recommend reading this post with a good cup of tea and some time on your hands because brevity is not my strong suit when it comes to all things Mistweaver. But hopefully it will give you some new insight!
Let’s start with what we know.
The Current Mistweaver Fantasy
There are a few things that have always been a part of the Mistweaver fantasy, the very core of the spec. First of all, Mistweavers mainly use shrouds of mists to heal their allies and redirect chi flows. In their toolkit they have tea to regain mana, and brews to bolster their defenses. In addition, Mistweavers have the ability to go full martial art combatant, while healing their allies with the completely logical and pertinent Eminence ability.
Mechanic-wise, Mistweavers have generally been designed for spread rather than spot healing when it comes to AoE (compare to Shaman’s Chain Heal, which hits fewer targets but with greater strength). Eminence works the same way – a million flitting and small heals that spreads randomly over the whole raid. Since we have been niched for spread, we’ve always had an element of RNG. Renewing Mist can be partly controlled, with the first application. But to avoid having to spend 15 GCDs on blanketing the raid with Renewing Mist, part of it works as a smart heal and spreads automatically to targets on low health. Neither Uplift nor Eminence are hard-hitters; they are spells that heals a little but across the whole raid. As such, Mistweavers prefer encounters where the damage hits everyone, and often.
That is a brief summary of how Mistweaver works now. But what do we know of the future?
Legion Announcements (so far)
Excerpts from MMO and Developer Interviews.
- There will be a heavy focus on class identity in Legion. Every class should feel different.
- The team has learned some lessons from how Fistweaving works now and will talk about what they are doing to solve the problems with it in the future.
- Sheilun, Staff of the Mists – Mistweaver Monks will go to Pandaria to seek out the staff of Emperor Shaohao. The variants have Pandaren influences such as the Red Crane, Jade Serpent, or Sha.
The Future of Mistweaving
We know that the developers have finally come to their senses and started to pay more attention to the classes and specs, instead of leaving the class fantasies to dust. They state that they have learned their lessons about Crane (but we do not know exactly what), and we are likely to see some major changes to the spec as a whole.
There are probably a million problems with the class that are hard to detect as an outsider with no access to their data, but I will still discuss how I view the current problems and how I would like to have them fixed. It mainly concerns Crane stance, but I will try to touch on everything that I think is valid for the discussion. Brace yourselves, here comes my opinions.
First Concern: Pool of Mists, and the Absence of Multistrike
When Pool of Mists was first introduced in Warlords of Draenor, it was a huge game changer. Mistweavers no longer had to suffer from a really awkward rotation where you had to time your Renewing Mists and Thunder Focus Tea meticulously in order to gain 15 affected targets, even for a split moment. Our troubles were solved in that regard. The only snag was that Pool of Mists was a talent, and as such, never really a choice we made. I do not think any raider have ever chosen Chi Explosion or Breath of the Serpent over Pool of Mists (possibly to experiment, or if you are a rare breed of full-time Crane healer). PoM has obliterated its contenders in the talent tier, which is a shame. Chi Ex and Breath are very cool spells that I’d like to have in my rotation, but they have never been justifiable.
In Legion, multistrike will also disappear, which means that we will lose our Jade Mists passive. We will no longer be able to proc a stack of Renewing Mist or Rising Sun Kick, which makes Pool of Mists even more paramount to the rotation. The same problem exists in Crane stance, which benefits greatly by having extra stacks of Rising Sun Kick and extra procced ones (which coincides with Tiger Strikes). The absence of Jade Mists will bereave us part of our rotation, and we will become even more dependent of Pool of Mists.
A simple solution, which I have advocated many times before, is to make Pool of Mists baseline. There have to be some other talent left in its place (that I leave to your imagination), but it has to be off the talent tree.
Second Concern: Stance Synergy
My most devoted readers might remember that I have proclaimed my love for Crane stance a few times before. It is, I think, a wonderful utility and gameplay that speaks to my hyperactive way of healing. It does not mean however that I think it is spotless. There are some aspects with Crane stance that I definitely think needs to be addressed by the developers. The first aspect is synergy. What do I mean with synergy? Let me begin by first explaining how our stances are not in synergy at the moment.
Serpent stance is our main stance, the one we absolutely need if we want to brute strength the whole raid up to full health, at least if we are short on time. Crane stance is meant for downtimes, typically as a DPS opener. Switching between the stances is a deliberate choice, and we get punished if we do it too often. Going from Crane to Serpent means that we lose all our Crane specific buffs and all our Chi except one. Not to mention, in Crane stance we can’t keep uptime on important buffs such as Renewing Mist (unless we have the T18 set bonus), and it costs us a GCD to switch. In other words – if you switch too often, or in an untimed manner, you will get severely punished.
Since Crane is entirely optional, and sometimes not even optimal, many opt out of Crane to avoid the harsh punishment if they fail with the timing. There is a small set of synergy by having Crane supply us with extra Mana Tea, but in this tier we have not exactly been in need of extra mana. The few fights that we do need the extra mana are often the ones we can’t spend too much time in Crane anyway. In addition, mana will always become obsolete at some point in an expansion. As such, Crane is left to those who enjoy it (or want to fully optimize), but remains untouched for many. There is a piece in the puzzle that is missing, and there are two ways I can see this solved.
Crane stance is in limbo right now – it is there for our use, but we are not dependent of it. Neither is it accessible unless we choose to stance switch and temporarily disable our important Serpent spells. The first, and boring alternative, is to remove Crane stance and make the Crane spells available in Serpent stance. We would have to be really creative to cover the new need for hotkeys, but it would remove the punishing gameplay. In effect, it would be like it Fistweaving was in Mists of Pandaria – much less committed. But since I love Crane, I’d like to keep the stance.
The fun alternative, then? How about making Crane empowering Serpent? Let’s say that going into Crane stance on occasion would have a beneficial effect for the throughput of Serpent stance. Here’s an example of how it could work: when we go into Crane stance, we can stack a throughput buff. For simplicity’s sake, let’s go with Crane’s Zeal (crit buff). Each time we do Blackout Kick, we get a stack of Crane’s Zeal, something like 2% extra crit per stack. The longer we stay in Crane, and use Blackout Kick, the more stacks we get. When we go back to Serpent stance, the buff will remain and we will for a period of time have an increased crit chance, a.k.a. higher throughput. If we stance dance ad hoc, and realize we need to change back to Serpent urgently, we will most likely have at least 2-4% extra crit. Time we spend in Crane, no matter how little, will be a bonus for Serpent stance.
The last choice, of Crane being a bonus to Serpent, is the one I would like to see in Legion. It may not necessarily be with a buff that stacks, but one design or other that makes Crane improve Serpent would be really awesome.
Third Concern: The Damage of Crane
I think it was somewhere in late Mists of Pandaria, when we first heard about WoD and the added Crane stance, I vaguely remember the developers describing Crane stance as a 50% damage and 50% healing stance. 50% of what I cannot remember. Possibly, 50% of one’s original healing. Or, less likely, 50% damage of what the average DPSer can do. Either way, Crane is not particularly likely to reach those numbers. Especially if one compares to the DPSers. It is strange that it is so, since I distinctly remember Fistweaving being very strong in MoP. If I went with Xuen, I could out-dps many damage dealers, without any particular effort (those were the times!).
What I would like to see in Legion is not only a stronger Crane stance, but also one that scales with tiers just like DPSers do. That would mean that Tier set bonuses and specific trinkets would have a huge impact on Crane. For now, Crane is being left behind. Damage dealers have a roof of something like 400k dps (if one takes a quick look at Warcraftlogs). The highest logged Crane dps is at 60k in one fight, but often closer to 40-50k (and to compare, highest logged hps of Mistweavers is close to 200k). I would really like to see Crane have the potential to do more damage than that, or possibly, have a talent build that can make the stance more competitive.
If Crane had a talent build, it could be deployed in specific fights that have hard dps checks, for example. Or just give pure breed Crane healers a platform to really shine. There is absolutely potential for this option since we will acquire a second talent tree in the form of our Artifact.
On a small side note, it would be nice to have a DPS cooldown for Crane. Possibly, making Tiger Strikes a cooldown instead of proc. It would really make it easier to open up in Crane stance. How many times have my opener been completely lackluster, because just that time Tiger Strikes did not deign to proc? Dammit.
Fourth Concern: Hybrids and Encounter Designs
In Legion, Discipline Priests will be a spec that do
50% damage and 50% healing 30% damage and 70% healing (of what, still somewhat unclear). Let’s call this build a Hybrid Healer. Crane stance will then be a hybrid stance in a hybrid class of a hybrid… Let’s just say hybrids, okay?
There will be two hybrids: Discipline and Crane healers. With that in mind, one can only assume that the developers have something planned for hybrids. It is said that the developers design encounters based on what the healers can do, instead of the other way around. That would mean we should see encounters specifically designed with hybrids in mind. In other words, some fights it is advantageous to have one or two healers that can also kick ass. Literally.
I would very much like to see this scenario pan out. It would take some creative thinking to get out of the old scenario: if you have too many healers, get rid of one instead of having a half-half healer. Because that is how it has always been. If you can replace a healer with a dps and still survive, people will do so. There has never been a need for a hybrid. That is what I’d like the developers to fix. Give us one or two encounters where you are handicapped unless you have a hybrid healer.
I do not think it is an easy feat to accomplish, however. Balancing would be crucial, if they do not put in specific mechanics that call for a hybrid. For example, all direct healing would be disabled for a period of time and healers can only do offensive spells. The problem would be that Crane would be locked out of Surging Mist, so it is not a solid solution. I will however leave that to the designers to figure out!
Fifth Concern: The Fantasy of a Mistweaver
This is a smaller concern, but relevant nonetheless. It regards the lore of a Mistweaver, because to be perfectly frank, where in all of this does Crane healing fit? Fistweaving is a very unique niche ability, but how does one explain it lore-wise? Did Cji-Ji swoop in from nowhere and gave Mistweavers special powers as an afterthought?
When the developers added Crane stance in Draenor, it was not perfectly meshed into the spec (lore-wise and mechanic-wise). I would really love to have them address this problem in Legion, and fully explain how Crane healers came about. They have a starting point in Krasarang Wilds, with the Crane Wing order that resides there. Maybe have a small background story in Krasarang and explain how Chi-Ji entered the picture and how Mistweavers became like they are today? We should see a class specific story when we quest to gain Sheilun – there, perfect opportunity!
Now that I have discussed some problems/solutions regarding Mistweavers, mostly Crane stance, I’d like to point out that I do not see my own solutions as perfect, just a starting point of a discussion. The developers (or my readers) might not agree with either suggestion to problems or solutions, or maybe they have already figured out different creative solutions. There are also a few more problems that I haven’t discussed. For example, the rotation of Crane stance needs to be spiced up a little. Crackling Jade Lightning is in a weird place of either giving a lot of Chi but costing lots of mana, or doing no damage but costing nothing. A middle road there would be nice.
Either way, we will see how things pan out on Blizzcon. Much excitement until then!