Brewmaster Azerite Traits
Welcome to PeakofSerenity's Brewmaster Monk Azerite Guide. This guide is intended to both introduce the basics of Azerite Traits and explain the value of the various traits available to Brewmaster Monks. Navigate quickly to the section you need using the sidebar on the right.
This guide has been updated for Patch 8.0.1 (Build 27356, August 14th) and is regularly updated when discussion, theorycrafting, or testing yields new information.
What Are Azerite Traits?
Azerite Traits are effects attached to certain pieces of gear in Battle for Azeroth content in place of secondary stats. They fill a very similar role to that of Legion‘s Artifact Traits or tier bonuses from prior expansions: small effects that interact to provide a large impact. You can find these traits on gear in the Head, Shoulder, and Chest slots. Each drops with a predefined set of 3 or 4 rows of traits, with more rows typically found on items from Mythic dungeons and Normal/Heroic/Mythic raids.
You will be given a piece of Azerite gear by Magni immediately after first obtaining your Heart of Azeroth from the quest Infusing the Heart and will obtain more as you level to 120 and gear up at level cap. Initially, you will only have access to a single row of traits on your Azerite gear. You can gain access to later rows by leveling up your Heart.
When you have fully unlocked your Azerite pieces, you will have access to three traits on each row. You can have multiples, and multiple copies of each trait will stack (with some notable exceptions). However, unlike the Netherlight Crucible’s random effect on which traits are available, which allowed for some silly setups with 3 extra ranks on ideal traits in a perfect setup, Azerite pieces have fixed traits and thus have a more reasonable ceiling. That said: these traits do scale with item level, so there isn’t a “Best-in-Slot” list so much as a “Traits to Look For” list. You may get a piece that has “bad” traits, but which is better due to item level.
This piece of Azerite gear drops from Vectis in Uldir. From outer to inner, each row contains:
- 3 spec-specific traits plus 1 general trait.
- 3 general traits.
- 2 general traits or 1 class trait and a general trait.
- +5 item levels. This also powers up the traits in each other row.
If this item dropped again, it would have exactly the same traits available on each row. Lower ilvl pieces are missing the 2nd row.
Row 1: Elusive Footwork + Boiling Brew + Fit to Burst / Staggering Strikes / Training of Niuzao
Row 2: Azerite Veins and Crystalline Carapace in any combination.
Row 3: Gemhide and Impassive Visage in any combination. Bulwark of the Masses is excellent in M+.
This segment comes with a huge caveat: trait performance depends heavily on item level. If you are looking to maximize your single-target DPS, always sim yourself with the gear that you have in your bags. Having said this: these traits are good to aim for if you’d like to get your (single-target) pad on.
Row 1: Elusive Footwork, Filthy Transfusion, and Laser Matrix in any combination.
Row 2: Likely to be a trait that gives secondary stats statically (e.g. statically) or via a proc (example: proc). Sim yourself to identify the best option.
Row 3: There are no DPS traits on Row 3.
The Brewmaster Trait Compendium
The bulk of this document is devoted to The Brewmaster Trait Compendium, which details the results of analysis & testing on the majority of traits we’ll be interested in along with a rating. Note that many traits that only give secondary stats are not included here, because they are functionally just a bundle of stats that should be evaluated via simulation.
Our rating scale is:
- Seek out. This trait is top-tier. Unlikely to replace except with either another top-tier trait or a large ilvl upgrade.
- Fine. This trait is totally fine. Not the best, but you won’t be unhappy about taking it.
- Skip. Traits that simply aren’t so good. Unlike the previous tier, you will probably be pretty unhappy about taking these.
- Special. Traits that operate on a different axis or are otherwise noteworthy, but that we can’t (or won’t) give one of the other ratings.
1. Brewmaster-only Traits
Boiling Brew (BB) provides a bonus to Breath of Fire damage, and gives the dot effect a small chance to spawn a Healing Sphere. While the damage is lackluster on single-target encounters, it scales extremely well with the number of targets and is the best Brewmaster trait for AoE DPS if you average more than 3 targets over the course of a fight. However, the orb spawns are not increased with multiples of the trait. The defensive value thus caps at the first copy of the trait. Further, its AoE DPS can often be worse than the General trait on the same row, meaning that you will frequently only pick up 1 copy of the trait
Verdict: Seek out. You will have a hard time replacing this trait, but it is only worth 1 slot defensively.
Elusive Footwork (EF) provides a large damage boost to Blackout Strike and causes its critical strikes to give an extra stack of Elusive Brawler. The single-target DPS provided by this trait is tremendous, and will not be bested by any other Brewmaster trait without a significant item level gap. The defensive component also scales with both your Crit and Mastery, and is remarkably good at reducing average healing required against melee attacks—though this secondary effect does not stack with multiple copies.
Verdict: Seek out. You will have a hard time replacing this trait on single-target, but it is only worth 1 slot defensively.
Fit to Burst
Fit to Burst (FtB) causes your next 3 melee abilities after a Purifying Brew to heal you for a small amount. This trait is worse defensively than your first copy of either BB or EF, but is otherwise quite good and a strong choice for your 3rd Azerite piece. It does have a minor positioning requirement in that you need to be in melee range for all 3 hits, but this shouldn’t be a problem in practice.
Verdict: Fine. This trait is a solid choice that will fill out the 3rd (and even 2nd) Azerite slot on many Brewmaster’s gear.
Staggering Strikes (SS) causes your Blackout Strike to remove a small amount of damage from your Stagger pool. While this effect does nothing if you have no stagger, this is such a rare occurrence that it doesn’t impact the value of the trait. This trait is on par with FtB at low ilvls and only slightly worse at LFR Uldir (340) and above.
Verdict: Fine. This trait is a solid choice that will fill out the 3rd (and even 2nd) Azerite slot on many Brewmaster’s gear.
Strength of Spirit
Strength of Spirit (SoS) heals you for a small amount every second while Fortifying Brew is active. While this trait may save you on occasion, the healing amount is quite small compared to the 200k (or more) HP that you will have. If there is a specific strategy where you need to solo a mechanic with FB, it may find niche use. Outside of that, SoS is not a good trait. Note that it lies on row 3, not row 1, and therefore does not compete with other Brewmaster traits.
Verdict: Skip. You will almost always be better off with the General trait on the same row.
Training of Niuzao
Training of Niuzao (ToN) increases our Mastery depending on our current level of Stagger. Specifically: it gives 1/3 of the maximum value at Light Stagger, 2/3 at Moderate Stagger, and the full value at Heavy Stagger. While this trait was insanely over-tuned on beta, it has since been nerfed. Despite that, it is likely to be our best trait for AoE DPS. Its defensive value has been surpassed by FtB, SS, EF, and BB but unlike each of those its value increases in AoE scenarios. However, in these scenarios it is likely to be worse than the row 3 trait Bulwark of the Masses.
Verdict: Fine. One of the best traits for AoE DPS, but sub-par defensively.
Niuzao’s Blessing (NB) adds a healing-over-time component to your Expel Harm that scales with the number of orbs consumed. However, the HPS is so bizarrely low that it will never be better than a General trait. Even at ilvl 400, you will only see 100-200 HPS for the 6 seconds this effect is active. This trait seems to have been neutered so that it isn’t possible to do silly things with orb pooling and using EH to eat many at once.
Verdict: Skip. You will always be better off with the General trait on the same row.
2. General Traits
Many General traits are simple stat boosts whose value is best determined by simming your character. A few interesting traits are called out here.
Azerite Veins (AV) has a chance to grant a large heal-over-time effect whenever you take damage (roughly 1 ppm), with the caveat that if you reach full health the HoT immediately expires. However, even if you only get about half the effect on average this trait is still quite good. If you are taking enough constant damage (e.g. from Stagger) to get most of the duration, this trait is beyond excellent.
Verdict: Seek out. This trait is likely to be strong in the average case and exceptional in the (rare) best case.
Impassive Visage provides a small, guaranteed heal after you’ve taken damage with a 6 second cooldown. If you can proc it every 6 seconds, it is exceptional. This trait procs on Stagger. While the cooldown keeps it in line, having a guaranteed near-perfect proc uptime makes this trait exceptionally strong for Brewmasters.
Verdict: Seek out. This trait provides excellent healing over the course of a fight, buoyed by its interaction with Stagger.
Bulwark of the Masses
Bulwark of the Masses (BotM) provides an absorb shield when you are surrounded by 4 or more enemies on a 15 second cooldown. This trait is on-par with BB defensively but notably scales with multiple copies and is on a different row (Row 3) from Brewmaster traits. Altogether, this trait is excellent and worth seeking out.
Verdict: Seek out. Though this trait does nothing on single-target, it more than makes up for that on AoE.
Static Secondary + Tertiary
Traits like Blood Siphon that provide a flat bonus to one secondary stat and one tertiary stat. This set of traits is worth simming, as they provide a large amount of stats. It is too early to say whether one will be worth more due to the tertiary.
Verdict: Sim. These are just static stat boosts and should be simmed to determine their DPS value. Defensively, they will all be similar.
Gemhide (GH) provides Armor plus Avoidance whenever you take more than 10% of your HP in one hit. However, this trait looks at pre-Stagger damage, meaning that we will see very high uptime on the Armor bonus. This trait is one of our best for mitigating Physical damage.
Verdict: Seek out. These traits are very good defensively, and occupy a different row from class traits.
Crystalline Carapace (CC) provides a very similar effect to Gemhide, but instead of granting bonus Avoidance it deals a small amount of damage. This damage is generally quite low and not going to make a significant contribution to your DPS. Worse: the armor given by CC is lower than that of GH. Thus, while GH is a top-tier trait, CC is unfortunately not. Note that while it occupies a different row than GH, you will almost never see them together.
Verdict: Fine. This trait is only marginally worse than AV on the same row.
Filthy Transfusion (FT) grants a chance to proc a reasonable Damage-over-Time effect that heals you for the damage dealt. Note that the tooltip is confusing and this trait does not apply an AoE ground effect. While the DPS given by this trait is perfectly fine, the healing it gives is sub-par compared to every Brewmaster trait on its row except Niuzao’s Blessing. Thus, it should only be taken for DPS purposes.
Verdict: Fine. An excellent choice for DPS, not so much for defense.
Laser Matrix (LM) is one of the Uldir-only traits on Row 1. It provides a chance on cast to deal a reasonable amount of AoE damage and trigger a small AoE heal. At this time, the special Uldir buff Reorigination Array enabled by this trait appears likely to dwarf any single trait’s value, and thus should be considered along with it. The damage provided by this trait on its own is competitive with FT and EF, although the healing is underwhelming.
Verdict: Special. This trait is likely to be taken primarily because it enables the Uldir buff, but its DPS is also fine.
Resounding Protection (RP) provides a small absorb for 30 sec every 30 sec. This trait is a very straightforward reduction to healing required, but does relatively little on average. That said: it is a Row 2 trait and does not directly compete with other Brewmaster traits.
Verdict: Fine. A serviceable HPS boost, but nothing exciting.
Shimmering Haven (SH) grants a proc that has a chance to give bonus HP and armor for 10 sec when you take damage. However, the low uptime on this trait means that this armor bonus pales in defensive value compared to other available traits.
Verdict: Skip. This trait only provides a defensive value, and the value is not very good.
Ablative Shielding (AS) grants a guaranteed amount of armor each time you fall below 40%, which is then reduced each time you are hit while the buff lasts. The trigger for this effect functions much like the Legion-era Obstinate Determination: it triggers every time you cross the 40% threshold, but will not trigger if you are already below 40% and take further damage. However, unlike OD this trait has a cooldown of 30 seconds, which prevents the same shenanigans that we had with OD in Legion. The armor provided by this is very difficult to evaluate, but from play testing appears solid.
Verdict: Fine. This trait appears solid, but is difficult to analyse. It may be upgraded to a higher rating in the future.
Vampiric Speed (VS) provides a heal and burst of speed when an enemy you harmed dies. It is great while leveling and doing world quests, and only mentioned for these reasons.
Verdict: Take it on your Azerite pieces while leveling, and if you maintain a WQ set.
3. “Off-Spec” Traits
Overflowing Mists (OM) is a Mistweaver trait that provides an extra small heal to targets with Enveloping Mist whenever they take damage. Although it does proc on Stagger ticks, an internal cooldown of 1 second has been added since the initial hype. As a result, it gets only minimal extra value from being a Brewmaster, and is not a good trait in general.
Verdict: Special. This trait is only mentioned because of the beta hype.
Pressure Point (PP) is a Windwalker trait that provides a small damage boost to Tiger Palm, along with a secondary effect that has no impact on Brewmasters. Currently, this trait works while in Brewmaster spec and has its damage increased by Blackout Combo. The damage provided when running BoC in a single-target scenario is far and away our best option, and unlike with the venerable Legion-era trait Face Palm this trait doesn’t force us to forego valuable traits on rows 2 and 3. If you do not run BoC, then this trait is only a bit better than other options with the downside that it gives no defensive value.
However, it is expected that the BoC interaction will be nerfed, which will return this trait down to a more reasonable level. Blizzard tends to avoid having spec-specific items be the best for the “wrong” spec.
Verdict: Special. Great for single-target DPS currently, but be wary of spending resources to collect this trait.
Advanced: Theorycrafting Azerite Traits
We are still seeing large changes to Azerite Traits. This section will be fleshed out once things have stabilized.