With Shadowlands on the horizon and the future of class design remaining fairly malleable, I wanted to give my own ideas for Mistweaver (MW) changes as one of the few Mistweavers that has consistently played at a high level in arenas throughout multiple expansions. While there are only two major suggested changes listed, I believe that highlighting their significance in detail is progress towards restoring MW into a well developed and unique class once again.
1.) Bring Chi Back
Chi was once the nexus of a MW’s rotation during WoD. Bringing Chi back to MW would add more depth to a one dimensional rotation, and fix long standing issues instigated by Legion class design.
Chi was a positive addition to MW because:
A.) It created a purposeful and rewarding feel to the rotation.
With Chi as a resource, every global had a synergistic purpose and you were building towards something special. When Chi was removed, it felt as if a piece of the intricacy of the class was lost and never replaced. That is because Chi was the entire skillcap and reward structure of the class. You would build Chi then be rewarded with a powerful heal. Building this heal and pressing it at the right times required premonition and setup. Spending Chi also required commitment to use because you could only use Chi as fast as you could generate it (not very fast). This limited yet powerful nature made it an inherently valuable resource that always required some amount of thought and attention. Without Chi, MW feels like a hollow shell of what it used to be. I specifically remember when first playing Legion arenas how easy and uninteresting the rotation felt compared to WoD. The natural synergy which once existed among every ability in the MW rotation has been replaced with abilities which feel watered down and generic. A great example is Vivify in BFA which is essentially Surging Mist and Uplift baked into one ability. The entire MW rotation of BFA focuses on empowering Vivify through Renewing Mist, EM, and Essence Font. The result is your entire healing rotation consisting of spamming Vivify regardless of how many targets are being healed. Instead of this boring, one button heal, I believe most of the focus should go towards empowering individual abilities based on the healing requirement. Single target healing could be primarily achieved through a stronger EM HoT and AoE healing through a strong yet distinct AoE ability. This is not possible in the current expansion however due to the accessible nature of abilities such as EM. Limiting their accessibility once more through Chi can allow these abilities to regain an inordinate amount of power which feels satisfying to press. Constantly spamming one ability for every scenario just feels insulting to the capabilities and potential decision making of the player. Chi used to make a MW’s rotation feel like a point of interest in itself. Now the rotation feels like a dull means to an end.
B.) MW has mana problems without Chi
When Enveloping Mist (EM) was changed in Legion to cost mana instead of Chi, the first question players asked was, “how will MW not go oom instantly?” This is a question that has still not been addressed. Ever since Legion, the mana cost of EM and the redesign of Mana Tea has created a major mana problem that consistently emerges as one of MW’s key weaknesses. In fact, post-Legion MW has only ever been a top tier healer when it found ways to heal without a reliance on EM. Key among these methods was Way of the Crane, which cast aside MW’s traditional healing and was very mana efficient. Currently in Bfa, MW is a top tier healer even without Way of the Crane. That is because MW’s raw healing output allows a player to be sustained solely through Renewing mist and Vivify along with other passive healing. Since EM healing is excessive and costs so much inefficient mana, the optimal active arena rotation is reduced to two buttons: keep Renewing Mist up and press Vivify. This rotation contains a mere shadow of the complexity and synergy it once had, and it demonstrates an oversight on MW class design. EM should be a core part of a MW’s rotation and not an emergency button we should be fearful of pressing. Making EM once again cost Chi instead of mana would remedy this rotational issue.
2.) Bring back the old design of Mana Tea
As briefly mentioned before, the redesign of Mana Tea is also a contributing factor that removed unique class flavor and created glaring design flaws that lead to MW’s mana problems. Pre-Legion Mana Tea was a completely unique and core feature of MW which added further depth to the class through its ability to transform a traditional downtime interval into a productive and necessary rotational window.
Based on my own past experiences with pre-Legion Mana Tea, I believe it was a positive and engaging component of the class because:
A.) Mana Tea was a flavorful, interesting, and unique ability
Before it was redesigned in Legion, Mana Tea allowed you to build stacks of tea based on Chi spent which could then be channeled to restore mana. This ability was incredibly rewarding to players who could find the time to channel their Mana Tea stacks. Normally, downtime as a healer in an arena is a period where there is a lull in damage which can last a few seconds. Unlike other healers, a MW could take advantage of this lull to recover mana. Any MW who consistently fell behind on healing and did not have time to use Mana Tea was punished through their reduced mana pool. Every second felt like there was something to work for. A MW who stayed ahead in healing and found windows to sneak a quick Mana Tea in was greatly rewarded with increased mana. As a result, there was an observable difference between a MW optimally using Mana Tea and one who did not; this made managing stacks very important. Mana Tea even had some alternative uses such as proccing healing elixirs and baiting interrupts (Mana Tea channel looked very similar to a Soothing Mist channel). The cumulination of these options resulted in an ability that was simple to use on the surface level; however, Mana Tea also had intricacies which granted the necessary depth and potential to distinguish an experienced MW from a novice.
B.) Mana Tea helps fix MW mana problems/design flaws
With Legion’s redesign of Mana Tea into a talent, Mana Tea turned into a short period of time where your spells cost 50% of their normal mana. This is a significant nerf to the spell which crippled MW’s exceptional ability to recover mana. The Mana Tea talent was rarely even picked in Legion which led to MW having no mana restorative tools to offset their mana intensive healing spells. Even in BFA where the Mana Tea talent is more accessible, the height of its usefulness has been in conjunction with Way of the Crane to half its substantial mana cost. This predictable combination is very one dimensional and does not prompt any critical decision making which further removes interest from the class design. Currently as a result of lackluster mana options, the majority of our mana efficiency has been dictated by the magnitude of our spells; the more individual MW spells heal for, the less mana they have to spend. This is why haste is such a terrible stat for MW in PvP and also why buffs/nerfs feel like they impact our mana efficiency more than our ability to keep someone alive. Whether it comes through pre-Legion Mana Tea or a different form, MW desperately needs either more powerful mana restorative options or certain abilities to cost less mana. MW this patch (8.3) can be very efficient with mana trinkets, essences, azerite traits, and enchants; these will be gone next expansion. Personally, I’d prefer the potential mana crisis MWs may have next expansion to be solved through active utility and efficient rotational options rather than a flat cut on ability costs. Redesigning Mana Tea to more closely resemble its older and more potent model is an answer to addressing these problems in a refreshing and lively manner.
A.) Get rid of Essence Font
This may be a minor change for me, but for the majority of the player base this is equally as important as the previous points. Based on the moderate PvE experience that I have, I can safely say that Essence Font is an awful ability no matter what content you do. You don’t use it in PvP, and run casting in a raid pressing one major healing button every 10 seconds which has very little synergy with the rest of your toolkit feels dumb. MW needs a better answer for AoE healing.
B.) Make Ring of Peace (RoP) DR with itself
It makes no sense to me that Thunderstorm and RoP DR each other but two monks can RoP the same target without care for DRs. This can be very frustrating, and it provides further incentive to class stack when no incentive should exist.
C.) Remove or nerf Counteract Magic
This is a side note because the issues spoken of in this section are exacerbated by corruption versatility amplifiers and may not be as prevalent next expansion. That being said, Counteract Magic is an honor talent which encourages the wrong type of healing philosophy. Healers should be actively healing and not letting passives do all the work. Counteract Magic is currently such a massive source of passive MW healing that it is a mandatory pick against any DoT class. It’s even mandatory against crowd control heavy comps like Rogue Mage because every additional source of passive healing plays a role in trivializing crowd control. Outside of crowd control, Counteract Magic is often picked more for mana conservation purposes than an actual healing increase so you can press as few active mana draining healing buttons as possible. While I don’t mind the niche aspect of soft countering a rot comp, Counteract Magic transcends this idea and has evolved to become something far more powerful than it should be. If Counteract Magic is removed or nerfed, there should be compensation through active healing sources such as Enveloping Mist.
I want to refer you to this forum post which also addresses MW monk in Shadowlands from the perspective of a PvE player. I strongly agree with most of their ideas, and the fact that the post has almost 200 upvotes shows that it is well received among others as well. Although we share many of the same class design ideas, our reasoning behind them is vastly different. While my ideas are primarily based on MW in PvP and specifically arenas, their ideas are centered around the PvE aspect of MW. This demonstrates that older MW design constructs such as Chi and Mana Tea would be welcome and positive implementations for more than just one aspect of the game. PvP and PvE can both be augmented with the application of these ideas. This is perceived as a universal improvement for the design of a spec which has incredible potential both in terms of unique performance and simple fun.
I usually don’t bother to post on the forums, but I believe in the potential of this game, and I hope I have the opportunity to play a role in achieving that potential. Thanks for reading. I know it was long. If you have any comments or criticisms feel free to post them.