It’s finally here, the launch of
BfA patch 8.1! And with it has come a number of changes to professions, expansion features, and class/ability changes for more or less every specialization in the game. For us Brewmasters, most of them are of the nerf or net-neutral variety rather than buffs, unfortunately. But don’t take this as permission to gather your pitchforks just yet, as we take the time to list every Brew-related change and actually break down what the numbers mean. Only then, if you’re still dissatisfied, should you decide what to do next.
- Tank specializations will now receive Agility or Strength from feasts and Mystical Cauldrons. No more switching specs between pulls!
- Troll Berserking reduced to 10% Haste for 12 seconds (was 15% Haste for 10 seconds).
- Blood Elf Arcane Torrent cooldown increased to 2 minutes (was 1.5 minutes).
- Area damage abilities such as Chain Lightning or Avenger’s Shield [or Keg Smash?] can now properly destroy totems or Explosive Orbs in Mythic Keystone dungeons if the player targets them directly.
- Necrotic Rot now deals physical damage, but is still a bleed effect so Stagger still won’t be very useful against it.
- All specializations-Crackling Jade Lightning initial tick and damage per-tick reduced 20%.
- Base Stagger amount reduced to 105% of Agility (was 140%).
- Ironskin Brew increases Stagger by 270% (was 250%).
- Black Ox Statue threat radius reduced to 20 yards (was 30 yards).
- Mastery: Elusive Brawler will now reset against physical ranged attacks.
- Players can now receive the 45 item levels of upgrades to their Heart of Azeroth for reaching Revered with Champions of Azeroth on any other character at 120.
- Beginning on January 22nd/23rd, 2019, there will be an extra outermost ring on all newly-obtained azerite gear that contains a total of 6 traits–two spec-specific per specialization–to choose from for greater trait flexibility. Note that you can still only have up to three copies of a given trait across all your pieces.
- Azerite reforging’s cost now decays by 50% every 24 hours rather than every 72. The cost has also been reset to the lowest price for all players.
- A new currency, Titan Residuum, has been added to allow players to purchase pieces of azerite gear from Thaumaturge Vashreen. This includes specific pieces of dungeon azerite.
- Many new generic traits can be found on azerite items obtained from the Darkshore warfront.
- NEW TRAIT-Straight, No Chaser (outer rings)—Ironskin Brew increases your Armor by <X>, and has an 8% chance to not consume a charge.
- NEW TRAIT-Exit Strategy (inner ring)—Rolling grants you <X> Avoidance for 2 seconds. Taking non-periodic damage in this time reduces the cooldown of Roll by 5 seconds.
- Niuzao’s Blessing has been removed. All azerite pieces that had this trait will instead have Straight, No Chaser on them in patch 8.1.
What Does It All Mean?
Let’s start by talking about the dinosaur in the room: the Stagger nerf. On paper, losing 35% of the bonus our Agility provides to our baseline Stagger sounds like a hefty amount. Once you look at how this all translates into our actual percentages, however, things end up looking much less severe:
Remember that as part of how tank mitigation works in Battle for Azeroth, harder content effectively lowers the numbers you see on the tooltip in the character sheet. Since Mythic Uldir is currently the hardest content available and where Stagger‘s strength matters the most, you can see that this nerf only boils down to roughly 3.7% Stagger lost at higher Agility/item levels when Ironskin Brew is active. That being said, what the nerf does impact more noticeably is our effective healthpool (EHP). In that department, Brewmaster lost anywhere from 15-18% of its EHP, depending on Agility. However, it must be stressed that our EHP was already miles higher than any other tank before this change. We’ll also have to see what this looks like when entering the Battle for Dazar’alor in January, but it shouldn’t be anything dramatic. Long story short:
If you’d like to see what Stagger percentages will look like in patch 8.1 in more than just Mythic Uldir, then courtesy of our own Hinalover, here is a spreadsheet of what the nerf to base Stagger, buff to Ironskin Brew, and nerf to EHP actually looks like at a variety of agility levels and environments.
Provided you have the correct level in your Heart of Azeroth to make use of them, both Straight, No Chaser and Exit Strategy have the potential to become some of our best defensive traits in TOUGH content. Even with just the armor this trait provides, Straight, No Chaser is stronger than almost anything else in its ring since us Brewmasters can already maintain 100% uptime on our Ironskin Brew. That means a 100% uptime on the Armor buff from this trait. What that also means is that every bonus brew generated is effectively a bonus Purifying Brew to reduce our damage taken even further. However, since the bonus brew chance doesn’t stack, don’t feel too bad if you only have a single copy of this trait available to you. It’s also worth mentioning that you’ll be getting the most out of this trait in mythic raids and high mythic plus. If you aren’t doing either of these in patch 8.1, then you probably aren’t missing out a ton by not having any pieces with Straight, No Chaser on your Brewmaster.
As for Exit Strategy, remember that it has to compete with Gemhide and even Impassive Visage in its ring–traits that are more or less always active for tanks when it matters. In addition, there is an internal cooldown on the Roll reduction of one second. This means that you can only reduce the cooldown of Roll by up to 10 seconds per cast. For now, don’t expect Exit Strategy to dethrone Gemhide as the best trait in its ring, but if you find a piece with other nice traits that has it instead of Gemhide or Impassive Visage, you may want to pick it up.
If you’d like to see if any other azerite trait recommendations have changed, feel free to look at our Azerite Traits guide, already updated for patch 8.1!
Odds and Ends
Finally, let’s talk about the smaller, but still important changes remaining in patch 8.1. With regards to Crackling Jade Lightning, it’s important to recognize that before this change the ability wouldn’t immediately do damage when cast. Instead, you would have to wait for a second “tick” and pay twice as much energy to deal damage for things like breaking Paralysis or other crowd control. Now, the ability will instead do an extra tick of damage as soon as you start casting Crackling Jade Lightning, dealing the same amount of damage as it did before despite an apparent “nerf”!
Next, in the mythic plus department, is a nerf to the Explosive affix and a rework of Necrotic. Although we can assume from its wording that this means Keg Smash now damages Explosive orbs if they are directly targeted with it, it also means that Rushing Jade Wind and Breath of Fire still won’t destroy them, nor will the aoe of Keg Smash. As for Necrotic Wound, this change seems primarily focused on removing a blood Death Knight’s ability to remove stacks/absorb damage with Anti-Magic Shell or a protection Paladin with Blessing of Spellwarding. Treat it as if nothing has changed at all for us Brewmasters, but you can now ask for a Blessing of Protection or use Stoneform to remove it. Just make sure you have a cancelaura macro ready so you don’t get your dps killed in the process.
In other news, Black Ox Statue/Dave’s threat pulse effect has been reduced by 10 yards. Personally speaking, I know I’ll miss that extra range whenever I’m in older content or running island expeditions, but in the cramped dungeon environments of Battle for Azeroth I suppose it’s okay. Many Brewmasters were running Ring of Peace instead for more reasons than just avoiding excess trash pulls with Dave, of course, but maybe now with this change we can branch out a little bit more than before.
Mastery: Elusive Brawler‘s change is an undocumented one, and is honestly more of a bug fix than a nerf. Prior to this, entire bosses like Rixxa Fluxflame in The MOTHERLODE!! were unable to hit you with their main attacks because your dodge percentage would never reset from a successful dodge against their ranged attacks. I’d suspect Jaina‘s main Ice shard cast in the upcoming raid would have worked the same way if the bug hadn’t been fixed. That being said, I’ll still miss taking no damage sometimes.
So, is Brewmaster still viable or should we all move on to protection Warrior instead? I think only you can answer that question for yourself, but I don’t see Brewmaster being that much weaker overall. In the end, play the specializations you enjoy the most and try to find the fun that patch 8.1 wants to provide you.
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