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5 monk abilities that should have you excited for Mists of Pandaria

A human monk using Flying Serpent Kick
When I was younger, Easter was a time of good food and great gaming. While my parents and relatives discussed boring adult stuff in my aunt's living room, my brothers and I would flee with our cousin to their basement, where we'd play Mortal Kombat II on SNES all night. I was always Liu Kang, my younger brother was normally Reptile, and I'd always win the first few matches by backing him into a corner and repeatedly bicycle kicking him until he died. Or blocked. Once he became a preteen, it was usually the latter, and I haven't beaten him in a fighting game since.

The long-distance flying Martial Arts kick has been a staple in video games ever since video games became a Thing, and I'm particularly pleased to announce that Blizzard has done it due justice in Mists of Pandaria with Flying Serpent Kick. It won't allow you to abuse dated wall mechanics or give you a false sense of pride, but it's one of a number of awesome monk abilities that fit in well with the monk archetype in gaming in general while staying true to WoW's form. Hopefully, these five monk abilities will have you excited for WoW's next expansion.

1. Expel Harm Normally, heals aren't something that I typically call exciting or cool, unless they're the total awesomeness that is Healing Rain. This is especially true given the relative homogenization of healer classes in Cataclysm and the existence of the healing holy trinity. Expel Harm isn't your normal heal. Instead, what Expel Harm does is heal you (or, if glyphed, your target) for a small amount, and then it does 100% of the healing done to the closest enemy target as damage.

So, if you're DPSing and you need to heal up after boss AoE, you can do it while dealing damage to the boss. If you're a mistweaver who has it glyphed, you can contribute a small amount of DPS while healing. What I find coolest about this, though, is my own imagining of how it works. Imagine your monk, beaten and bruised and close to death. She centers herself, focuses, and her bloody wounds start to heal up. As her sores lessen and her pain fades, she forces all that bad juju into her opponent. Very monkish, and very cool.

2. Touch of Death Anyone who has ever seen an episode Xena: Warrior Princess (the best TV show to come out of '90s, available on Netflix!) knows the power of pressure points. I'm not enough of an expert on Eastern healing or pain dealing to know if pressure points do exist or how potent they are, but I know they're a trope that games tend to exploit. Blizzard has jumped on this bandwagon with Touch of Death, an ability that costs 3 chi, has a 1.5-minute cooldown, and instantly kills your opponent.

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That's right: It instantly kills your opponent. Obviously, there are some noticeable caveats. You can't use Touch of Death on player targets, and the mob's current hit points need to be lower than yours. As a result, it's a very niche ability, that will see most of its use on your long grind from level 22 to level 90 or when you're doing dailies at level 90.

And this is fine. This is fine because Touch of Death is fun. It's really fun. While it's cool to be level 1 and one-shot something with Jab because you're in full heirlooms, it's much more fun to be level 85 and questing in Jade Forest and decide you just don't want to deal with that Hozen who's getting up in your grill. So, you hit him once for 130,000 damage and move on. The pure pleasure that comes from being able to just make the bodies hit the floor in a single button press every 90 seconds is just beautiful.

3. Chi Wave Chi Wave is kind of like Chain Heal, if Chain Heal had been developed eight years later, did half of its healing as damage, and made you the coolest monk at the baseball game. Consuming 2 chi and castable every 6 seconds in the latest beta build, Chi Wave is cast on a single target, friend or foe. It heals your friend and harms your foe. It then bounces from friend to foe, and then again from foe to friend, until it has bounced a total of five times.

Pandaren monk casting Chi Wave
Confused yet? Imagine, basically, that you're playing Pong. On one side are your friends, and the other side is your enemy. Chi Wave will bounce back and forth between friends and foes, healing your friends, hurting your foes, and making you look awesome for being a sweet multitasker for being able to heal and DPS at the same time. (In fact, last build, Blizzard nerfed mistweaver DPS because it was doing too much damage while healing in raid tests. BAMFs.) It's like playing an atonement priest, except fun.

4. Flying Serpent Kick Yesterday, someone in my random beta guild said Flying Serpent Kick is "the only reason to spec windwalker ever." While I disagree, being a DPS purist at heart, I can't deny he makes a strong argument. Flying Serpent Kick is possibly the most fun part of being a windwalker. With a cooldown of 25 seconds, no resource cost, an awesome animation, and the ability to cover vast tracts of land (imagine two to three consecutive Charges) at a fast pace, Flying Serpent Kick is a winning ability.

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Flying Serpent Kick has a ton of uses. First, by pressing the keybind again while flying, you can land in the midst of your enemies, dealing damage and slowing them. Not impressed? You can also use it when swimming in the middle of the ocean to try and get back to land, by jumping out of the water and FSKing. It's like a less effective Water Walking that's only usable every 25 seconds. You also can Touch of Death an enemy while kicking through them by spamming the ability keybind on approach, but as far as I can tell, that's a bug that won't make it to release. I hope it does. There's something terribly gratifying about not even needing to stop to kill an opponent in midflight.

5. Breath of Fire As a general rule, I'm not a drinker. I don't really enjoy alcohol or all its wondrous aftereffects. I do, however, love science. And explosions. And fire. And the fact that science tells us that when fire meets alcohol, it creates explosions worthy of a Michael Bay movie.

Breath of Fire on its own is only slightly impressive. Your feats as a legendary brewmaster have enabled you to resist the harmful side effects of pretty much everything you stuff down your gullet. In the case of fire, you can regurgitate it every 15 seconds for the low cost of 2 chi.

Pandaren male breathes fire on suspecing Hozen
What makes this ability truly fun, both in game and to imagine, is how it interacts with Dizzying Haze. See, Dizzying Haze is your main AoE threat ability as a brewmaster; you throw a keg of alcohol into a group of enemies, causing an alcoholic mist to coalesce and making your enemies confused enough to possibly miss you and hit themselves. Once you're up to three stacks of this glorious mist, which you and your friends are somehow impervious to, you unleash your Breath of Fire, igniting all of the incredibly flammable alcohol and causing your Breath to do three times the damage. The only downside is that your breath will likely reek for days. Isn't science fun?

It's open warfare between Alliance and Horde in Mists of Pandaria, World of Warcraft's next expansion. Jump into five new levels with new talents and class mechanics, try the new monk class, and create a pandaren character to ally with either Horde or Alliance. Look for expansion basics in our Mists FAQ, or dig into our spring press event coverage for more details!

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Humor, Monk, Mists of Pandaria

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