Introducing Jason

Jason is a Brewmaster player that currently has the highest completed M+ in 7.3 on Raider.io, with a +23 Black Rook Hold. He participated in the Mythic Plus Invitational on his Monk Zqs, reaching the Global Quarter Finals with his team Friends with Affixes. He also streams Brewmaster M+ regularly on his Twitch channel.

 

Brewmaster wasnt the only spec you brought for the tournament. Which tanks do you keep updated on the live servers?
J: As of now I only have a brewmaster and guardian up to date. I’ve dabbled in other things but never for long, and don’t have relevant experience with other tanks.
Brewmaster has definitely been my main and served me well since I picked it up mid-Nighthold. We had such high tank turnover that I felt compelled to switch from my Mage to a tank role.
I picked up the Brewmaster in particular because I remember the playstyle being something I enjoyed from back in MoP and they were considered quite good at the time.
I had mained mage since mid BRF during WoD so switching to tank was quite new. The last time I had tanked seriously was during vanilla and BC where I mained a prot warrior but hadn’t touched tanking in quite some time so almost everything had changed.

Snapshot of the current M+ highest keys on Raider.io.

Spec viability: BrM+Holy pala

What do you think Brewmaster brings for high keys, and m+ in general? Especially compared to the more “meta” m+ tanks like blood dk or guardian druid.
J: Brewmaster doesn’t bring a lot of utility to M+ in the way most people think of it. They have a 5 second stun or Ring of Peace, both of which can be highly valuable in high keys but only RoP is something totally unique to monk.
What a monk can bring is a singular ability to pull insane amounts of mobs or very dangerous mobs and come out the other side without putting the rest of the group in danger of loose mobs, or flopping.

Our other form of “utility” is to switch between very high damage and very heavy tankiness with our legendary choices. All tanks can obviously switch between trinkets to gain an edge offensively or defensively but few have options as powerful as Keg Smash Shoulders for offense or Soul Ring/Zen Med helm for defense. If for instance a Guardian druid were to try and imitate our defensive ability by switching to (for example) AHR and Survival Instincts ring, their damage gets cut to shreds. Our damage does not fall off as hard when going on defense and our offensive potential is arguably the strongest in all of M+.

You ran your highest m+ runs this season with a holy pala. When pugging, most Brewmaster players will prefer resto druids because of the synergy between hots and stagger, while holy paladins are often overlooked. Does your best healer player happen to play paladin, or are there other considerations behind this?
J: I have been running with Zach (Maset), the holy paladin, for a number of reasons. The 1st is that I had trouble finding a healer that would run with me consistently until Zach starting running with us. Brewmaster was still seen as a bit of a meme that required constant healing and didn’t provide utility. However when he started running with us I found myself feeling very good about running with a Holy Paladin compared to other healers even. The biggest reason is on very high keys where you still need to pull huge to make the timer and everything hurts, you want a healer that can just lay into you when you need constant heals. A Holy Pally is perfect for that role since that is 100% their forte. Resto druid is ideal when you’re taking light to moderate damage like on most boss fights or smaller packs since their hots will keep you afloat and often refresh on their own due to how often a brewmaster hangs out around 30-60%.

The Black Rook Hold +23

As a tank, what is the most challenging part of a +23 BRH? And did you take every charge from Smashspite yourself?
J: My biggest challenge in the Teeming/Quaking/Fortified 23 BRH had to be the hallway before the 2nd boss. In particular there is 1 pull that had 2 champions and because of that fact lasted quite a long time due to the health buff they give the group. We saved our 1st lust for that pull. However the pull following that one is the most dangerous in the entire instance.
Because of that, I am forced to save my defensive CDs through this 2 champion pull which could be quite a struggle, especially if the Arcanist in the pack was able to get any casts off. Once that pack is out of the way, I Paralyze the champion in the following group and then pull the entire rest of the hallway which is 1 Arcanist, 1 Cat, 1 Arcane Minion, 4 scouts, and 4 archers. The amount of incoming damage is insane and it is constant, especially during Knife Dance by the scouts. The next pull is no joke either considering I have no defensive CDs left and the healer won’t get a chance to drink. It consists of the Champion miniboss, the Champion I paralyzed the pack before, 2 scouts and 2 archers. In order to make this palatable I paralyze the Champion Miniboss when he gets to about even with the 1st CC’d Champion. The leftover Champion will do his bonebreaking strike and health buff as soon as he’s out and the other mobs will be too far to receive his health buff so they die much faster. I break out the miniboss about 10 seconds later so that he does the same, and we kill the 4 dangerous mobs before they ever get a health buff.
I did take every charge from Smashspite since we are capable of forcing a dodge every time he charges by using BoS and BoF to get stacks. Recently I have found that you can actually wear defensive legendaries and still force the dodge by turning your back to his melees a few seconds before the charge goes out so that you never dodge an attack and your stacks don’t reset just before the critical moment.

You do a lot of unusual trash pulls. Do you get these from your own experimentation or do you watch a lot of other m+ streamers for ideas?
J: Most of our “outside the box” pulls are homegrown ideas that I come up with. The group I run with will come up with ideas as well but as the tank you sort of dictate what you can and can’t do when it comes to large pulls. I try to push the limits whever I can, and through experimentations often come to a pull that is incredibly doable and saves a lot of time. A good example of this is in the hallway after the 2nd boss in BRH.
The pull started out as just the idea “I want to pull everything” and the logistics of it came later. The way I thought of this 1st strategy was I literally just asked “do you have BoP”. He did so this is what I came up with. Twitch clip of the pull
Obviously the pull wasn’t perfect but it had potential. However during our +22 just before our attempt on the +23, Zach used BoP during the 2nd boss fight to remove a glaive. Of course this made sense to me, the 2nd boss is an incredibly dangerous one and BoP removed multiple sources of danger as it also prevents that target from being charged while it’s on them. So instead of giving up on the pull, I decided to more methodically pull mobs and hit them with something to get initial threat and just move through the hallway as quickly as I could while doing so. We found that we didn’t need to go into the side room while doing this either and in fact it was much better when we didn’t. The result was this. This was more the result we were looking for. All we had to do was clean it up a little bit and it ended up being a core reason we were able to time multiple +23 BRHs.

 Talents and gearing for high M+

What is your standard talent build, and how much do you tweak talents+gear between the different dungeons?
J: My talent choices are mostly the same for each dungeon.
Chi Torpedo has been my staple though I may experiment with Tiger’s Lust at some point. The mobility it provides is basically unmatched by any tank.
Chi Burst for long range add pickup (both healing threat and damage) as well as stronger damage in most packs than Eye of the Tiger.
Black Ox Brew is my standard for its offensive energy regen and defensive benefits.
Leg Sweep is the default though there are more than a handful of situations where Ring of Peace is not only useful but truly unmatched in what it does for you.
I choose Dampen Harm for every dungeon since BrM CDs are severely lacking. It helps bridge the gap between short CD trinket defensives and our big long Fort Brew CD. Mystic Vitality is an important talent though and required for a lot of packs and bosses throughout M+. This is where Soul of the Grandmaster comes into play. Using the talent ring to provide a steady reduction in Magic Damage lets you forego the talent when it’s not necessary but allows the option to take it for only some packs. Dampen Harm is ALWAYS useful since at that high M+ having a CD for a large pack is basically a necessity. Dampen Harm is a very large CD and it allows you to be far more aggressive in your pulls than you could be without since it essentially doubles our pool of CDs.
Rushing Jade Wind is default though I suspect this will change in the future with T21. Special Delivery is something I used in the MDI because of our access to full T19 but in the current tier it’s not as strong.

The last tier is what changes the most for me.
Blackout Combo is the default choice for most dungeons, even on high keys, since the ST dps increase is extremely noticeable even in large packs, since there is often a mob that is the most dangerous that you could focus on.
Elusive Dance is something I will take in extremely heavy melee dungeons (Black Rook Hold, Vault of the Wardens) especially when in service to the Wristwraps.
High Tolerance is generally something I only consider if I’m particularly concerned about 1 shot mechanics. Some bosses like Ymiron (Maw of Souls), Hyrja (Halls of Valor) and Ularogg/Dargrul (Neltharion’s Lair) or even trash packs like Ghostly Philanthropists (Lower Karazhan) hit insanely hard at high levels to the point where getting 1 or 2 shot is a very real possibility. This is the primary counter to those. Of course if I can get around using it I will as it is the weakest offensive trait here and doesn’t really serve as a major defensive bonus in most pulls since it only results in a modest decrease in damage taken.

 

You are very creative in your use of Ring of Peace, a perhaps underused ability in M+.
J:These clips highlight how versatile RoP is and its potential for abuse in a variety of situations.
In Cath is servers as what amounts to an 8 second root/stun type against the mobs that run away (which are worth percent) Clip
RoP can displace mobs out of combat to allow for skips that wouldn’t be possible otherwise which is displayed in this 2nd clip.
In this clip RoP serves the same purpose as the 1st but in reverse. It serves to allow all the mobs to group up while the group is perfectly safe from the mobs advancing on our position.
This 4th clip shows the defensive utility of RoP. It can essentially act as a hard CC against melee mobs that doesn’t suffer from DR and last longer than any stun in the game. Useful against not only necrotic for resetting stacks but for any dangerous pulls.

To sum up, Ring of Peace isn’t the answer to every situation but it is an incredible ability that can be used creatively to solve many problems.

 

Something we get asked quite often in the class Discord is the “BiS Legendaries”. What is your take on this, do you have one standard set of offensive Legendaries, and one set of offensive, or is it more situational?

J: As far as legendary choices go my “default” of doing high damage would be Shoulders + Chest.
However I have 16 different gear sets that I switch between fairly often, all getting some play, and new sets being added each week. A defensive setup might see me using Soul Ring + AHR, Shoulders + AHR, Shoulders + Soul Ring, Zen Med + Soul Ring, Zen Med + AHR, Bracers + Purify Belt, Bracers + Soul Ring, etc etc. So many different situations exist in M+ that boiling it down to a 1 size fits all is impossible.
However if there are rules I follow I would say they are as follows.
If you can get away with wearing shoulders, do it.
If you don’t have to wear Soul Ring, don’t.
Only wear Zen Med Helm when you absolutely require a long duration CD on top of your existing ones.
Only wear Bracers against large packs that feature mostly or entirely dodgeable damage.
AHR is totally acceptable in any situation you don’t feel totally safe.
Sephuz out of combat.
Cinidaria for Odyn.

Other considerations for gearing? Especially weighing the value of T20 vs ilvl is a topic that brings some discussion, and the use of T19 for the “6p” synergy between T20 purifying and T19 2p increased stagger.
J: I view tier 20 as stronger in M+ than raids since you take much more damage on average and you won’t always have purifies to bail you out after taking life threatening damage.
I have been aiming for mainly ilvl in conjunction with t20 4pc in defensive situations. I am happy to drop tier entirely for packs or bosses that are non-threatening.
If possible I would love T19 but I haven’t experimented with T19 enough to say that taking it over ilvl would be worth it or not. Personally I take a 12 ilvl hit in most sets to take T19, and that kind of HP and stat loss is not something I see as acceptable.

As for stats and enchants – on pieces I only use offensively I aim for crit and mast/vers, and gem/enchant crit. On pieces that I’ll use defensively at any point I generally choose versatility as my stat to aim for, since it is a stat that is always good. It is our best choice against magic damage, our best choice against non-dodgeable physical damage, a strong choice against auto attacks, and a solid offensive stat. If I were to have enough pieces to make a set for every occasion and have unique enchants as well I would have a mastery set, crit set, vers set, etc. But since you have to aim for the lowest common denominator in most situations, versatility is the default.

Did you unlock your 73rd trait yet?
I’m currently at 72 traits, on my way to unlocking the final trait from my Iron relic. Ideally I’m looking for Face Palm + Hot Blooded main traits on relics.

As for Light/Shadow traits, Shadowbind is probably the best mix of offense/defense. Its healing is actually ridiculous and the damage is on par with anything else in most situations. Refractive Shell is the ideal defensive trait with no offensive ability. Absorbs are always better than heals and it results in a lot of reduced damage taken over the course of a dungeon. I haven’t had a chance to try Dark Sorrows (AoE explosion trait) myself and I’ve heard it doesn’t do nearly enough damage from some sources and that it does a lot from others. Aside from that anomaly, all the damage dealing traits are decent offensive choices with Shadowbind and Torment the Weak being the top options from the math gurus.

Brewmaster T21 has had a.. mixed reception. But it seems like it will actually will be a great set for M+. Do you agree?
J: My current thoughts on T21 in M+ is that it will be very strong defensively in 1-3 target situations since you’re not overcapping on Elusive Brawler stacks to the point where it’s redundant. That defensive value will basically be non existant in large packs since you’ll overcap on brawlers stacks and only force a single dodge out of many many incoming attacks.
The offensive value will most likely be insane. I expect a return of Special Delivery, Elusive Dance, Legendary Bracers, and every global on trash pulls to consist of Keg Smash or Breath of Fire.

Your Brewmaster is Blood Elf, which seems to be the obvious choice for any Horde melee class focusing on M+. The Invitational saw almost every team going Horde and stacking Blood Elves. Do you think Arcane Torrent is too strong for M+ making other races less desirable?
J: Arcane Torrent is absolutely the strongest racial ability in M+. No DR silence helps in grouping mobs, canceling dangerous casts, another interrupt on bosses like Shade of Medivh. Its utility is so far and above other racials that it is practically required for most tanks in particular but for anyone running M+ they should be a BElf if possible.
It should be noted that the Night Elf cousins have another interesting ability in Shadowmeld. It can be used to do skips on things you would need a rogue for or even in addition to skips with a rogue. I’m not claiming it to be stronger but it is an interesting choice that, if your group is very coordinated, can result in paths that only NElf groups can do.

 

 

 

Mythic Dungeon Invitational

You participated in the Invitational with your team Friends with Affixes, and made it to the International stage. How would you sum up your experience in the m+ Invitational, did you learn anything from the experience? Are you planning on participating if Blizzard makes more of these tournaments?
J: The Mythic Invitational was a great experience for me. I’d never participated in any sort of e-sports tournament and it was awesome to compete against so many great players. That said, we practiced a ton and those practices could often be very stressful. The Lower Karazhan run against Team Lethal was a disaster after many VERY successful runs in practice. It started with Dragonfire Brew pulling patrons from under the stage which resulted in our absolute demise. From there we tilted and nerves got the better of us and we got blown out.
The Halls of Valor run in that same series was going well until I made a huge error of pulling the right side of the hallway leading to Fenryr when the Sentinel was on that side. We wiped, slowly, and it should have cost us the match. Luckily we were able to keep our composure and get through to the next round.
I ruined our Cathedral by getting knocked off for the 1st time ever and it ruined our very intricate strategy that had everything down to the pat timings. That, combined with a few unneccesary deaths in NL, left a bad taste in my mouth and feeling pretty down about my play. We had a good week of practice leading up to Raider.IO but we obviously failed pretty hard. It was a depressing end but I absolutely plan on participating in the next tournament. Nerves got the better of our team several times but the next time around we should be more prepared.

You played your Brewmaster for all dungeons except one, when you brought your Guardian Druid for Vault of the Wardens. What was the reason for the swap?
J: When I swapped to Guardian for the MDI in Vault we did so in service of a single massive pull. Monk struggles with picking up mobs that are spread out, especially in an environment where there is no slowing down such as the MDI. Guardian does not suffer from that problem even slightly and was the optimal choice against Sanguine as well, thanks to a low CD knockback. In the end we ended up failing. An errant pull as we were about to finish the massive pull at the beginning set us back and it ended up costing us the match but I do stand by the choice of Guardian in that particular match.

  

As a representative of a kind of a “unicorn spec” when it comes to M+ tanking, you will probably have a lot of fellow Brewmasters cheering for you through the next MDI too . To end it off, do you have any M+ tips or advice for other Brewmaster players?
J: As far as advice to other Brewmasters and tricks you should know, I will say a couple things.
1st, it’s okay to run. You don’t have to be getting melee’d all the time, your damage is the best around from range and your kiting ability is second to none. Even in tight spaces you can lay down your spirit (a good habit to get in by the way), roll away, let them close in, teleport back, let them close in, and roll away again. Most of the time if you don’t want them to touch you, they won’t.
2nd, be bold when you have CDs to work with and cautious when you don’t. Seems obvious but even I find myself pulling too boldly and in gear sets not equipped to handle high damage when I don’t have CDs to survive. Sometimes I’ll get away with it, sometimes I won’t. In general I would say use your DPS sets when you have your Fort Brew/Dampen Harm up and switch to a much more defensive set when you don’t.
Those are definitely the tenets of my playstyle as a Brewmaster. Other assorted advice would be:
Abuse line of sight to group up mobs.
Get in the habit of using Healer externals as your own CDs.
Be flexible in what potions you use in what situations. I’ve found Unbending Potions to be a tremendous lifesaver in situations with ultra-high physical damage while I use Skystep potions for certain pulls as well. If you’re going to use an invis potion or Skystep for a certain pull make sure it’s off CD for when you need it. Waiting around on a potion CD is not a fun way to miss the timer.
Use your group’s CC and displacements to extend the space you have to kite and reduce the damage you take. Typhoons, Thunderstorms, stuns, slows, roots, knockdowns, anything you can to get an advantage in a difficult situation.
Your entire kit can be extremely useful in M+ and you can be much more creative about how you attack obstacles
Niche advice as well, every once in a while you can save someone by effusing them in a boss fight. Bosses like Xavius, Advisor Melandrus are prime example where you can save a life by aiming a Chi Burst, and throwing down some off heals. It won’t always make a difference but the times where it does are so satisfying.