Healing Monks - Kung Fu Magic or Kung Fu Flop?

The Monk will introduce an entirely new healing spec into World of Warcraft but will this new healing spec sink or swim amongst the healing veterans?

Pandas. Yes, Pandas…cute, fuzzy, globs of black and white uber goodness but what do these animals have to do with World of Warcraft? A race of pandas, known as the Pandaren have recently emerged from the mists of a long lost land to explore the wonders of Azeroth. These Pandaren will be joining both the Alliance and Horde to help form the controversial basis for the next WoW expansion; World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria.

The Pandaren, having spent generations away from the rest of the world and as such have had quite a bit of time on their hands. Because of this they have had plenty of time to not only perfect their famous brews, but have also perfecting the art of the Monk, the newest playable class. And while this new Monk class has many, many exciting features, the most notable is perhaps the fact that for the first time since the original classes were released, the Monk will offer players a brand new healing spec and style.

Currently known as Mistweavers, Blizzard has made the incredible claim that the Monk healing spec not only provide players with a new class option to heal with but will also present players with a totally different style of healing unlike anything seen in game before. But can this claim be true? Will Mistweavers, the healing spec for the Monk, be able to reinvent healing as we know it or is it just another gimmick, used to make the Mistweaver Monk healing stand out from the other classes, but is just a novelty with no little use that will become blaringly obvious once the expansion goes live? Before we can answer that question we need to first compile what we know about the Mistweaver Monk thus far.

According to what we now based on the information gleaned from the Class, Item, and Professions Panel at BlizzCon 2011, the Mistweaver Monk healing style is being designed to provide proximity heals rather than targeted direct or raid wide healing. Like other healers, the Mistweaver will be using mana as their main resource for the heals, some of which will be based on the Monk’s damaging attacks. This style of healing is further confirmed if we take a look at the single healing ability available for the Mistweaver listed on the official Mists of Pandaria website:

Statue of the Jade Serpent
Summon  a statue at the target location. Anytime you deal damage, a nearby target within 20 yards of the statue will be healed. You can have up to 3 Jade Dragon Statues active at a time.

As you can see, what we really know about the Pandaren Monk healing spec is rather limited so far, but based on the information we do have, with the combination of the static heal locations as seen in the Statue of the Jade Serpent ability above and the other single target proximity heals that will be the bases of Mistweaver Monk healing, Monk healing can be easily fleshed out and so far, at least in my mind, appears to be far from gimmicky. But with that being said, it also doesn’t seem to be the new and never before seen style of play that most claims would have you believe.

Instead Monk healing appears to have combined the damage abilities of the Discipline Priest, the direct heals of the Holy Paladin, and the mobility of the Restoration Druid to form a healing class that has the potential to be a force to be reckoned with. And while it may easy to dismiss the Mistweaver Monk because of its similarities to the other healing specs, I urge you to give it a second look, because by combining these unique I believe the Monk has the ability to fill a niche in the healing realm that perhaps we the players didn’t even know we needed.

It won’t be an easy task though, in order for Mistweaver Monks to be effective at healing anything they will need to covert Chi into Light Power by using their Jab and Roll abilities, while remaining constantly aware of their positioning and the positioning of their healing statues making Monk healing possibly one of the most challenging and complex healing roles in game, and that’s saying a lot for a role that is already typically considered to be overly challenging and complex. And this challenge and semi-unique play style is exactly what will draw players in, yet hopefully at the same time push some players away making sure that Monks are not the only healers we will be seeing in raids come patch 5.0.

Pandaren Monk

Can the Pandaren Monk fill a niche in the healing realm?

Now while I’m pretty excited about Mistweaver Monk healing, I’m not saying there aren’t flaws. In fact this new class with all its specs has the potential to go very, very wrong. If Blizzard isn’t careful they could easily fall into the same trap they fell into with the Death Knight, where the Mistweaver Monk would simply outclass and outplay every other healing class in game. Or things could go the other way and in their desperation to avoid another DK fiasco Blizzard could severely under develop the Monk, making Monk healing, as some are expecting, to be gimmicky and therefore utterly useless, much like the Feral Druids and Shadow Priests of the past.

With so little information currently available to us, its difficult to say what the ultimate fate of the Mistweaver Monk will be. And until we have all the facts, and perhaps even some game time under our belt we won’t know if the Mistweaver Monk will be a roaring success or an epic fail on Blizzard’s part. Hopefully as more as made clear about this new class, the only thing we find ourselves worrying about the Monk is how many of them will be named Po.

How do you feel so far about the Monk healing spec? Do you think it will find a place among the other healers? Will you be rolling your very own Monk in the new expansion? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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