Know Your Enemy – Monks

Monks may not be the DK-strength hero class people imagined they’d be, but Windwalkers and Mistweavers are still more than viable enough to perform well in arenas. Playing a monk […]

Monks may not be the DK-strength hero class people imagined they’d be, but Windwalkers and Mistweavers are still more than viable enough to perform well in arenas. Playing a monk as an alt, it really surprised me how after one and a half seasons a lot people still seemed to know very little about my abilities in PVP. Since knowing what your opponents can do is almost as important as knowing your own class, I’ve put together a guide to monks in PVP from a rogue perspective.


Monks have the mobility that rogues have always wanted – not only can they break roots every 30seconds, they have enough tricks to be able to kite for a very long time. With the PVP glove bonus your snares are removed each time they roll or use Flying Serpent Kick, so it’s very hard to sit on a monk if he’s trying to escape.

TranscendenceMonk standing next to transcendence portal
This teleportation spell is similar to the Warlock Teleport – the monk puts down the teleport spot (a ghostlike copy of their character) and when you use the transcendence ability it swaps the copy with the monk, switching their locations. The CD of the actual transcendence is 25 seconds, but the CD to move the teleport spot is 45. This can be a pain on z-axis maps (at least until 5.3) so don’t get baited by it.

What’s even more of a pain is when it’s combined with the druid ability Wild Charge. Druids can use the copy of the monk as a friendly target, effectively giving them a 15seconds teleport. Luckily this will be fixed in 5.3 when Dalaran/Blade’s Edge maps are fixed to prevent z-axis abuse.

Flying Serpent Kick
The range on FSK is a crazy 60 yards – luckily it’s not instant and is interruptable so as long as you’re quick enough you’ll be able to stay in range during your burst (assuming you have Cloak and Dagger).

A 13 yard roll in a straight line. Unlike FSK, roll can’t be cancelled early but the monk can slow the roll by toggling walkspeed. Mistweaver monks sometimes take Chi Torpedo, which lets them roll an extra 10 yards (and heal/damage whoever is standing in the way).

Clears diseases and poisons every 8seconds and can be cast on friendly targets. Good monks will be clearing your paralytic stacks before they can reach 5 doses which really hurts the effectiveness of the poison to the point of making the 50% proc chance of crippling poison more desirable.

Nimble Brew
A new addition for patch 5.2, this ability breaks roots, stuns and fears. It has a 2minute CD and makes undead monks very hard to control.

Tiger’s Lust
A 30 second root breaker that can be cast on friendly targets. Combined with Nimble Brew, this ability makes it very unlikely you’ll score a kill in a smokebomb.

Defensive Abilities

Ring of Peace
Possibly one of the most hated abilities added to WoW and a major problem for subtlety rogues – luckily the spell is being nerfed in 5.3. Lasts for eight seconds and can be cast on friendly targets, with a ridiculously short cooldown that’s 15seconds shorter than our shadowdance. There is nothing you can do about this spell other than use it as a window to pool energy and hopefully restealth. Ring of Peace can’t be cast while silenced so glyphed garrotte is useful here.

Fortifying Brew
Drunk Monk using Fortifying Brew
Evasion is strong vs melee, but Fortifying Brew is strong against everything. An extra 20% health with a 20% damage reduction, lasts 20sec.

Ranged dismantle on the same cooldown as a rogue’s. Currently this doesn’t DR Ring of Peace. As an added insult to rogues, if the weapons the monk disarm are a higher ilvl than their own, the monk gains 5% extra damage.

Zen Meditation
Can be glyphed to allow movement, breaks on physical damage. Not a problem for rogues, but if there are casters on your team you need to break this as soon as it’s used.

Touch of Karma
Luckily only given to Windwalkers, this spell is literally a killer. When glyphed it has a 20yard range and reflects ALL damage the monk takes to the target of the spell. Not just yours, but the incoming damage from the whole team. The reflected damage takes the form of a dot which you can cloak if you accidentally put a 5CP eviscerate crit onto yourself. It will reflect around 400k damage before breaking, so make sure your team knows what this spell does.

Zen Meditation

Zen Meditation

Touch of Karma

Touch of Karma

Dampen Harm
Dampen Harm
You’ve successfully forced the monk to use Ring of Peace and Touch of Karma, you know they have no trinket and Nimble Brew is still on cooldown. “Excellent!” you think and switch to the monk with trinkets popped. You bleed him, stun him and go for two back-to-back 5CP eviscerates – a 50k crit then a 45k crit…. Just when you thought you’d got through all of the monks defensive CDs, he pops Dampen Harm, while he’s stunned. Unlike a warrior’s spell reflect, this ability can’t even be burned through cheap low-damage attacks, it has three charges and only procs when they receive hits bigger than 20% of their health.

Crowd Control

If you aren’t snared, this reduce your movement by 50%. If you already snared (including by a previous application of Disable), it roots you fully.

This is effectively a ranged 4second gouge that lasts 6seconds if the monk casts it while standing behind you. It cannot be dispelled but breaks on damage.

Windwalker Abilities

Fists of Fury
A channeled stun on a 25second CD that, when glyphed, gives the monk 100% parry chance. Whatever you do, don’t trinket the stun else you’ll be put into another one immediately. The monk can spin on the spot while casting this so you’re not even safe trying to attack from behind.

You will sometimes see monks cast Fists of Fury for no apparent reason while they’re guarding a flag. They do this because they receive a Tigereye Brew buff each time they use 3 chi (chi are the same as combo points but stacks on the monk not the target, making hard switches a piece of cake). Using their self heal Expel Harm they can build up chi and then use it on Fists of Fury to generate a larger stack of the Tigereye Brew. At any point the monk can drink this stack and instantly gain an extra 3% damage per brew, so it pays to keep the stack topped up. You can use this to your advantage by opening as soon as Fists of Fury has ended.

Spinning Fire Blossom
Unlike other spells in WoW the monk has to aim Spinning Fire Blossom. It can’t be dodged and is hard to aim if there are other hostile targets near the monk. It’s great fun to cast, but that’s no consolation to the rogue that gets rooted while trying to escape…

Storm, Earth and Fire
This is a crazy ability that splits the monk into elemental copies that duplicate his actions. It can be cast once or twice, though each copy needs a separate target. With a single split, damage is reduced by 40% (120% total damage) and with two splits it’s reduced by 55% (135% total damage). Each copy of the monk has 10% of the original monks HP, so they’re pretty easy to kill but only cost 10 energy and have NO cooldown to resummon at all. In arenas on my monk I use this ability when the other team has a healer that can’t cope with healing two targets at once – it’s pretty effective as it also keeps the healer in combat at all times. If you’re playing with a druid healer, make sure he CC’s the copy and keeps kiting it.

Storm Earth and Fire

Storm Earth and Fire

Some monks use this ability on the target they are hitting – if this happens, just ignore the copy since it will only use auto-attacks and the monk’s damage will still be reduced by 40%.

Disarming a monk reduces their damage, but they can still use all of their attacks so you won’t shut down their utility. The increase in dodge they gain is something I’d like to see given to rogues…

Mistweaver (Healer)

Two seconds of damage immunity each time they receive a stun – really, really annoying when in RBGs and the warrior on your team charge-stuns the monk you’re about to eviscerate. If it procs just pool energy, you can land a DR’d stun afterwards to coincide with your burst if needed.

Life Cocoon
A 400k absorb that doesn’t seem to be dispellable and gives 12 seconds of crazy healing. It’s just not worth trying to kill it unless your team has crazy burst.

Summon Jade Serpent Statue
The Jade Serpent Statue gives decent passive healing. You can kill it, but it only has a 30second cooldown. There’s a chance the monk won’t notice if you’re quick enough, so if he’s been feared to Africa and the statue isn’t in his LoS you might get the kill without him noticing. Likewise, your partners might be able to dot it up without the monk realising what’s happening.

Notable Damage Spells

Invoke Xuen, the White Tiger
I really want one of these on my rogue, even if it hits for just 10 damage. The Windwalker monk’s pet can be summoned every 3minutes and has the same health as the monk. It can be killed if there aren’t any better targets (such as when the monk uses Touch of Karma and you can’t get in range of another target) but you’re better off controlling it with paralytic shivs/gouges or just ignoring it.

Touch of Death
Ignore the tooltip – the four set PVP bonus lets monks use Touch of Death on player targets when they get to 10% health. This spell is the mother of all executes, it hits for as much as the monks maximum health so will one shot any target, even through dispersion.

The Easy Way to Kill a Monk

Sadly, there isn’t one. I’m yet to beat a decent monk 1v1 and at the same time I’m beating gladiator rogues on my monk. Our arena tactics vs monks are to keep them controlled as much as possible and try to force Ring of Peace without using Shadow Dance. If you’re being forced to go head to head vs a monk, keep an eye on their stack of Tigereye Brew – they are likely to wait until it reaches either 10 or 20 stacks before drinking them so you can predict their burst to some extent.

If you’re fighting a mistweaver, try not to stun it too much (including with paralytic poison) and interrupt their channeled heals at all times. All their mana-efficient healing comes from instants or by casting other heals while channelling, so force them to keep moving and stop every channel you can.

About Dcruize

Rogue addict, PVP junkie, insomniac. I started playing WoW in 2006 and, after being told that 'nobody wants a rogue', tried to level a priest. I quickly realized that love and approval were a poor alternative to stealth and ambush and have been backstabbing away quite happily ever since.