Trellsky is the currently highest ranked Brewmaster on Raider.io, and was very recently part of the world first timed +19 Underrot. We had a talk with him about his experience with Mythic Plus in Battle for Azeroth as a Brewmaster.
Trellsky: Hello! My name is Trellsky (I go by Trell), I have been playing monk for about 2 years. I have always been a tank player, and started playing the game seriously when I picked up Brewmaster around the time Nighthold was released in Legion. I currently raid with my friends in <Deimos> on weekends, it’s nothing too serious, but it gets me the mythic gear I want for mythic+. Raiding has never been my focus, but I still find it enjoyable, and who wouldn’t want more gear for pushing keys?
Picking monk as a main in BFA was an easy decision for me. Since I was already pushing keys on monk in Legion (I never want to see Upper Karazhan again!), it felt great to start from square 1 in BFA with a slightly different set of tools. Before I decided to stay with monk for BFA, I tested many things on beta and played with/talked with any other healers and tanks I knew about the balance. I was happy with beta gameplay, and I do not foresee Brewmaster being weak for at least the first 1-2 raid tiers. So, I decided to main Brewmaster again – not only because I like the playstyle, but because it feels more competitive and fit to push mythic+ dungeons now more than ever.
Pushing keys has and continues to be fun for me, because the possibilities seem nearly endless. With a system that scales infinitely in difficulty, it is always exciting to figure out how to pull bigger, skip faster, optimize damage better and eventually time a new level of the dungeon. Different affixes each week provide a nice challenge as well, so the dungeons aren’t exactly the same every time you go in.
Kamp: Although you refer to your Brewmaster as your main, do you also keep other tanks geared?
Trellsky: I do keep geared alts, and currently those are DK and DH. I think it is important to be versatile with different classes regardless of which role you are. In my case, I should know and understand what all 6 tanks are capable of for different dungeons. While learning keys, I will think to myself “this may be a DK key” or “pally Spellwarding would be insane here.”
Understanding perspectives of different tanks will benefit a player for many reasons. For one, you will know as a Brewmaster to t
ell your group: “I don’t have mass grip for this, line-of-sight these mobs with me to group them up around this corner.” On the other hand – “I’ll never soak the tree boss (Waycrest) in the fire because my class allows me to tank 70+ stacks with ease.” There is also the MDI factor, where changing classes will be something every player should be ready to make happen between rounds. Some strategies may require a sigil of silence, or a ring of peace, etc.
Kamp: Gearing decisions. Is there a stat or certain traits you are chasing, or is it still Item Level all the way? Considering the new m+ system forces the same gear for the whole run, do you also have a general setup that you bring to every dungeon? How has this “gear locking” affected m+ gearing compared to legion in your experience? Positively and negatively.
Trellsky: Gearing for mythic+ is certainly different from Legion, mainly because changing gear between pulls is no longer an option. I do not personally like the change, I think that swapping gear was something you could always improve on, and gave many opportunities to try something new on every pull. That being said, I try to have a nice spread of stats and get the most balanced defensive/offensive setup possible for every run. I currently have one mythic+ set, but in the future I might have sets for specific dungeons or affixes, when I have more choices of Azerite Traits and Trinkets. The positive outcome for this gear-swap change is that you can now go for highest ilvl generally, because even haste is decent in dungeons.
For Azerite Traits, it is hard to say with certainty what my ideal setup would be. Healing traits in general are good in mythic+, as
well as certain others that bring consistent defensive value. Some outer ring traits that I would like to have at 385 to choose from would be: Laser Matrix, Boiling Brew, Training of Niuzao, and Elusive Footwork. All of these traits bring both offensive and defensive value.
Kamp: Guard is the new addition to the Brewmaster talent set, replacing Elusive Dance. A few Brewmasters played with Elusive Dance in certain dungeons in Legion, but it was generally underused. Do you find a place for Guard in your runs, or is HT simply the go-to for everything?
Trellsky: I do not currently take Guard for any high keys, HT is very strong and scales with higher and higher keys while Guard stays static. Guard has potential on certain mechanics, such as being available for every other Blade Combo on Dazar (King’s Rest), but it is not enough to convince me to use it instead of HT.
Kamp: Do you generally always play with the same group, or do you pug some high keys too? If you tank every key, its harder to get input on what pulls and routes other tanks do, outside of streams. Where do you get your input?
Trellsky: I play with my healer Jaamaw (Resto Druid), Morning (Rogue), Shift (Mage) and several others when they are available. We don’t always have the same strict 5 people, but it helps immensely that the core group is usually present so we can practice certain strategies or intricate skips.
Occasionally I will tank for another group, pug, or do a couple guild keys. Likewise, my group will do the same and have another player tank in my stead when I am not available. We all play with lots of different people, share clips/ideas, and watch each other’s streams since we are all part of the same community. I think that it is important to have your own ideas, as well as staying in touch with what other groups are doing, in order to be competitive.
Kamp: What healer do you usually run with, and why? Do you have any favorite general group setup?
Trellsky:I currently run with a Resto Druid, and that is because Jaam and I prefer the Brewmaster/Resto Druid synergy in high keys. Stagger allows for Resto Druids to apply their heals very efficiently, even to the point where grievous doesn’t present much of an issue. This is not to say that other healers are not capable of healing a Brewmaster though. I do well with a good Paladin or Mistweaver (Disc Priest has a hard time single target burst healing a tank).
I would say my (current) dream composition for pushing would be– Brewmaster/Rdruid/Rogue/Boomkin/X. The 5th member is usually a DH or mage, but less common DPS classes like monk/warrior/warlock/hunter would still feel fine. As long as the core composition is there, the 5th member is quite flexible in the current meta (in my opinion – this could change as key levels go up). Keep in mind this is just a general composition, each week’s affixes favor different class utility over others.
Kamp: What is your favorite and least favorite BFA dungeon? Is there any dungeon or affix you feel Brewmaster performs relatively worse or better than other tank specs?
Trellsky: My favorite would have to be Waycrest Manor, as it is just a solid Brewmaster key. Many hallways and corners are available to place a Ring of Peace or Transcendence to make big pulls easy and clean. There’s just something that feels great about transcending through a floor to dodge a bunch of auto attacks. It is a very fun dungeon for me, there’s even a Smashspite-like boss that the Brewmaster toolkit is very good for. In terms of a least favorite dungeon, I do not have one yet; all of the content is still new and fun to play.
It is still early in the expansion, but I feel that BrM is in a good spot compared to other successful mythic+ tanks. Each tank has strengths over the other in different situations, so it is hard to say if any dungeon will be a struggle for Brewmasters compared to others. This may change once the WoW community becomes better and better at dungeons and strategies change, but for now Brewmaster keeps up just fine.
We recently did a little Underrot +19, world first at the time. The fact that it was Grievous is an interesting subject regarding the Brewmaster spec. The interaction of Stagger makes Grievous extremely difficult to deal with, right? Wrong – I think that Stagger actually helps the tank stay out of grievous more often, especially with resto druid HOTs, because you will more easily stabilize above the initial 90% health. Grievous also allows several Azerite traits (like impassive visage, azerite veins, boiling brew) to really shine, helping with stabilizing your health or popping you out of Grievous range. Making good use of Gift of the Ox orbs is also critical for Grievous weeks. Many times I will hold 3-4 orbs when I know something big is coming up and then expel harm to get myself out of Grievous or close enough for Jaam to easily top me off.
Resto Druid and Brewmaster had a bad reputation for Grievous in Legion, but currently are in a very good spot for the affix in BFA. You bet we’ll be pushing next grievous week!
Kamp: If you were a player looking into starting high Mythic+ keys, where would you begin?
Trellsky: I would start at the most important part, finding other players with your same interest in Mythic+. Unless you already know many players that are into pushing Mythic+, it will be necessary to become friends with and network with others. It takes time to find players you 1) Enjoy playing with, 2) Are available to play the same times you are, and 3) Have similar goals to you. Again, it takes time and patience, but just get out there and start doing keys. Add the good players to your friends list and meet other players through them.
There are many resources out there to help anyone ease into pushing high keys. Watch streams/recordings, talk to others about routes, and keep an open mind about strategies. If you want to know how in the world someone did a ridiculously fast Waycrest +15, find one of their streams or YouTube videos and track it down. Tanking Mythic+ requires a lot of knowledge, so the more you know about the dungeons and ways to pull different packs, the better.
Kamp: How do you break through that mental barrier of going into higher m+ than your usual comfort zone? How do you handle depleting keys that you thought were doable, without getting demotivated?
Trellsky: Good question. I think there is a lot I could talk about for this but it boils down to the following: You can always do a dungeon faster; something can always be improved. Having this mindset is how you convince others that it’s possible. Practice your playstyle as if the key was 1-2 levels higher. Even if you don’t need Fort or Dampen to live on a certain pack during a lower key, pop it there if you think you would on the higher key. Practice makes (closer to) perfect, and will help you know more of what to expect during a higher key level for the first time.
Set realistic expectations when going into a new key level of a dungeon. While it is possible to nail the key and complete it in time, it is likely to deplete. Everyone depletes keys, and it should be expected to happen now and then. It is healthy to go into a new high key and say “hey this probably won’t work out but let’s give it a shot.” Afterward you may find it was actually very close, and next time you get the key it will be easier to time based on experience. I have learned a great deal from depleting keys and using it to my advantage, rather than only being disappointed.
Kamp: BFA has brought with it a shift in dungeon design, with trash hitting relatively harder, and more often having special abilities that are also dangerous to the group. On the other hand bosses have less oneshot abilities like Ymirons Dark Slash or Lady Hatecoils Focused lightning. Is Tyrannical the new Fortified in the sense of what is seen as the “easy” main affix for pushing?
Trellsky: It’s true, fortified is currently very difficult for the tank to both survive and keep aggro on the mobs (because of kiting) during big pulls. The consensus is that tyrannical is the new fortified, meaning Tyrannical weeks are now easier to push high keys on. Trash packs hit so hard and last so long on Fortified that by the process of elimination Tyrannical is easier to time keys. It definitely helps that bosses have not yet reached the point where I need to rotate huge defensives to survive magic damage one-shot attacks (like Ymiron’s Dark slash, or Hyrja’s shield blast in Legion). I imagine new records will be set every time Tyrannical week comes around, and possibly during a few of the more-forgiving Fortified affix combinations. The Tyrannical meta may not last long though, as gear scales up and tiers go on. More bosses will approach one-shots the higher keys go, and honestly, this last fortified week already felt pretty good on brew (sanguine/grievous).
Kamp: How often do you plan around using Bloodlust and cooldowns on trash in Fortified weeks?
Trellsky: Planning around cooldowns and Bloodlust/Heroism especially is important in any key. In some dungeons, you can squeeze in a 3rd or 4th lust if timed correctly (adding a 4th lust is a huge time saver). Having big CD’s ready such as Icy Veins or Celestial Alignment enables you to pull bigger most of the time. Some pulls are time-sensitive and need to finish in a certain time frame (usually before the chain of CC’s will finish; Something like Sweep/stuns -> solar beam -> typhoons/knocks -> ring of peace -> etc.). For those difficult pulls or bosses, you might need to have all big CD’s rolling as well as lust at the same time to survive. Before going into a dungeon, the group basically needs to decide if 1. you need lust to survive a certain pull or boss, and then 2. when to use lusts around the most important pull, to make sure you get as many lusts in as possible. This is why sometimes you would see a group lust the first, easy pull of a dungeon – this just means the next lust is planned for 10 minutes later on a big pull or boss.
As the tank, our own defensive CD’s are just as important to plan for as DPS offensive CD’s. The goal is to use your defensives as many times as possible to reduce maximum damage, but you may want to hold them for 30 seconds or so in some situations for an upcoming big pull or mechanic. Even if it is a Tyrannical week, most of the time I make sure to have either ironbark, dampen, or fort ready for the beginning of a multi-pack pull while everything is stabilizing. On the other hand, I’ll use all of my defensive CD’s available in a rotation for a boss like Rezan, each time he applies the tank bleed. It is also important to consider lust as a strong defensive cooldown, as it allows you to purify many more times than you would without it rolling
TL;DR I use defensive CD’s on trash pulls liberally, regardless of fortified or tyrannical affixes (trash hits hard!). Lust is generally used on trash for Fort weeks, and bosses for Tyrannical weeks..
Kamp: Will we see you in the upcoming Mythic Dungeon Invitational as Brewmaster?
Trellsky: I am very interested in competing in the MDI, and I hope to be there next time around! A group I played with for the second MDI qualified for the tournament realms, but we could not continue because of one member’s eligibility issues. Nevertheless, I still watched and supported those that we knew in the community, and maybe picked up a trick or two to use in our own strategies. I hope that when the next MDI rolls around I can rock the Brewmaster.