Monk Set Review: Abilities Part I

Greetings, wanderers! For our next couple of topical discussions – we’ll break in-between for deck techs – we’re going to take a look at the Mists of Pandaria “set” created by the guys over at the Retro WoW TCG Facebook. I put set in quotations because their Mists of Pandaria cards aren’t quite a full set, but also aren’t really a Monk class starter. It’s kind of an in-between that seems to have had the goal of establishing the Monk class, the Pandaren and Mogu races, and issuing errata to give Monks access to a bunch of older equipment. The cards were designed to be competitively played in the Classic Format and we’re going to be taking a look at just the first 17/35 abilities of the Mists of Pandaria set today. We’ll get to the rest of the abilities, allies, heroes, etc. later.

As we move through the set, we will grade each card using a 1-5 scale which is detailed below. This rating is purely based on power level. We’ll briefly discuss each card as well and maybe mention how good art, flavor, etc. is, but the number is purely where I think the card landed in terms of power. So let’s dig in!

Rating Scale

5 – Format-warping card. example: Hesriana, Envoy, Blizzard, Dethvir, Unholy Power
4 – An evergreen “good card.” example: Hurricane, Voice of Reason, Ashnaar, Eye of the Storm
3 – An archetype staple. example: Corpse Explosion, Netherbreath Spellblade, Deathwish, Dark Horizon
2 – A niche or side deck card. example: Banzai, Purloin, Soul Inversion, Bladewhirl, Band of the Inevitable
1 – A card that might pop up once for a single event. example: Tyrande’s Favorite Doll, Gnomeregan, Trickster’s Gambit (exactly – stuff you have to look up)



Rating: 3.5

Detox is looking to hop in during some key moment of a game and save the day with its Memory Lapse stapled onto Mindbreak Trap text. There is a lot of finesse and play to the card which is exciting. Throwing a card on top of the deck is sometimes even better than interrupting it (and sometimes worse). In an aggro deck it could buy a key turn to assemble lethal, and in a deck pulling for the long game it could disrupt your opponent’s most aggressive play. We’ll avoid magical Christmas land where it becomes a 2-for-1, but the potential to trade way up in resources or slow down a key turn plus Delve puts this card firmly in the realm of highly playable.


Crackling Jade Lightning


Rating 1.5

Here we essentially have an Explosive Trap without the cost-reduction. Crackling Jade Lightning is likely worse than Flame Lance, but better than say Tormenting Gouge. The Trap-like timing for the card is unfortunate as a heads-up player will just interact with your board before attacking your hero, save the prime CJL-target for last (invalidating the exhaust portion of CJL), or attack with allies immune to the damage first. But in a solo deck or one angling for the late game it could be a tool against aggressive strategies. It certainly is great specifically against Horde aggro decks. One curious aspect of the templating is that either the word “target” was intentionally omitted, else it was mistakenly left out. Considering that the damage value is 3, we might guess that the creators were interested in interacting with exactly Edwin Vancleef, but that seems awfully specific and the syntax doesn’t match cards that intentionally don’t target either. Anyway, at the end of the day I think this one missed the mark, but in a room with enough aggressive red decks it might find its way into a sleeve.


Dampen Harm


Rating: 2.0

Three mana is a big investment for this kind of Shadowmeld effect. The upside? It can be played out onto the board proactively. The downside? It can’t be played reactively. But even though your opponent has perfect information, they may not have an answer for it which could steal you some games. It’s certainly interesting if you get out ahead on board and can knock out multiple allies of theirs without losing yours.


Diffuse Magic


Rating: 2.0

Ability destruction has been a focal point for brewers in Classic these past three years. It is good against virtually all clothies and popping Tuskarr Kite is often key to keeping a midrange opponent from getting too far ahead. While I don’t think we should all go the way of Vincent and maindeck four copies of Oppress, there should definitely be a good chunk of ability hate in the 70 cards of a Classic deck; and Diffuse Magic, I’d argue, is solidly better than the easily playable Oppress.




Rating: 0

Yeah, we’re gonna have to give this one the old goose egg. While there could be some interaction that we don’t know about (and that likely only the designers of the card do if such interactions exist), there’s nothing readily useful about this card. It’s essentially a 2-cost armor that can only be applied to allies. And while protecting allies is useful, this is an expensive and underwhelming effect to do it. The Death Rattle portion of returning it to your hand is what makes me wonder if it fits into some sort of combo, but if it is just meant to be played for its ability plus convoluted card draw (Path of the Damned targeting your own deck, put Effuse into hand from among the discarded cards) I’m gonna hard pass.


Enveloping Mists


Rating: 1.0

The effect is cool, but ultimately too minor. Enveloping Mists is trying to do an Undercity impression but doesn’t quite get there. It is also not the healing version of Taste of Divinity. It comes back once each turn but can only be played on your turn and taxes you along the way. We are starting to see Monks seek to go the graveyard interaction route, but this is just too low impact to warrant the deck slot.



Flying Serpent Kick


Rating: 1.0

Aside from some corner cases, I don’t really see a compelling use for this card. Which super-sucks because the art is phenomenal. There are some Monk abilities that deal damage and one that staggers dealing 5 damage over two triggers (this would bump it up to 7) but it’s hardly enough. In addition to being underwhelming, it also has a few minor templating issues. First, making it cost 0 and removing the first text line might sound insignificant, but you always want to go with the most simple wording – especially with slow minds like mine around. You’d need to slightly alter the second line as well, but I think it would be worth it in the end. And with the extra space, you could get the wording in line with similar cards. Imagine if this card cost 0 and read “The next ability you play this turn gains Instant, damage it would deal is unpreventable, and if it would deal damage it deals that much +1 instead.” Overall this card is gorgeous, but not worth the likely two for one required by its buddy-system design.


Life Cocoon


Rating: 1.5

This ability is pretty cool and I’ll spare commenting about how Miniature Voodoo Mask shuts it off… or did I just say… whatever. But what really worries me is that Life Cocoon isn’t very playable without the new Trousers card that we’ll cover later on or an additional way to get Chi counters on it. Basically, the Trousers would enhance Life Cocoon to enter with 2 counters and gain 2 counters at the end of the turn. But that’s 6 mana spread across two cards, likely over two turns. The bottom line is that Life Cocoon is not very good on its own and both the Cocoon and Leggings would struggle if they’re facing down a lean, well-oiled Classic deck. Taking a turn off is workable, but taking two turns off is usually too much space for your opponent. Plus similar and arguably better effects already exist and struggle to gain relevance in Classic.




Rating: 3.0

The build-around. Who likes reanimating legions of overstat’ed one-drops on their opponents end step? Bringing back two Dagax the Butchers is pretty good too (20 damage in 3 cards). The ability to recover from a board clear or an opponent’s trades with a single card is invaluable for an aggressive strategy. Bottled Light was banned in Core and gets talked about in Classic, and this is close to a strict upgrade. Being able to time the revival on your opponent’s end step makes this card even sweeter as it lets you dodge combat and basic-speed abilities like Fel Blaze. The moving Chi counters around doesn’t do much for me. I don’t think Life Cocoon and Lifecycles want to exist in a deck together or really Lifecycles and much of any other abilities. A deck using Lifecycles will most likely want to overload on 1’s and 2’s and make use of cards like One Draenei’s Junk… and For Great Honor to find the coveted build-around. I don’t see it adding much to a deck that goes up the curve but it could be a decent fun-of or concession in a matchup that is heavy on ally removal.



Rating: 1.0

We are now getting into a lot of graveyard interactions with Monk. This one is an oddball. It’s no reconstruct into Jin’rokh swing, but if you’re self-milling/discarding you can turn those discards into card advantage with Microbrew. The obvious intention here is to use one of the heroes we’ll go over later to potentially discard an equipment and maybe have one of the equipment-allies from the set (also yet to be reviewed) die and bring back multiple equipment that way. There is also some Keg synergies which we’ll get to. You can also nicely recover from opposing equipment destruction. I’m not sure how brewing brings back equipment, but apparently it does. Sadly, I’m also not sure it’s relevant enough.


Rising Sun Kick


Rating: 0.5

The return of the combo card. I’m scratching my head a bit here as I’m not seeing a card in the set that actually utilizes combo cards (edit: I found one! Stay tuned for Fists of the Heavens). Anywho, Rising Sun Kick has interesting restrictions. Basic, only hits ready allies, exhausts them making it so you can’t use two RSK’s on the same thing. Your opponent gets to choose. I “think” maybe what happened here is that there was some kind of powerful payoff planned for the combo cards that never saw print and then the wimpy combo cards themselves were never given a tune up. Just a guess. Rising Sun Kick could sure use one.




Rating: 0

Again with the combos. I do like Roll!’s name quite a lot, but in the end it just doesn’t really do anything. I secretly wish it involved rolling a die. It saves some amount of damage on your hero, but it’s just like the worst Hunter Trap ever. Again, maybe there used to be some incredibly powerful use for these combo cards, but at this point if one is finally created, it had better win me the game on the spot since the Monk combo card turns are a lot more painful than out of Rogue (Gouge is a real card!).


Rushing Jade Wind


Rating: 1.5

The rate on this card is about right in looking at mostly unplayable Druid forms of the past. Though Agile Cat Form is Assault 1 for 1, ATK is a completely different beast. It is much more powerful, especially against a deck full of 1-health allies. And while a deck full of 1-health allies typically has 1-drops lying around that it can sacrifice to pop your Rushing Jade Wind, you’ve just earned yourself a 2-for-1 at that point. Overall though, I think that while this card is somewhat serviceable, it is a lot of work for +1ATK.




Rating: 2.0

Holy crap. Reciprocate is a tough keyword to get right. If you make it too easy to trigger (Ally, Ability), it could be bonkers. If you make it too narrow, it could be this card. Sparring does what it does almost a little too well. It’s laser focused to the point that it’s unnecessarily narrow, but also almost oppressive in how it shuts down weapon decks. All-in-all this card feels unbalanced, not in terms of power, but in terms of specificity. Obviously good for a side deck.


Spear Hand Strike


Rating: 2.0

As an interrupt, this is insanely overcosted. That being said, interrupts are interrupts and it does shoot down Dethvir in one damage packet.  It just slid in at a 2 because of its versatility. Instant is a real upside, 5 damage is a sweet spot in the format (Weldon, Dethvir), the option to go face is relevant, and interrupts are somewhat rare. Maybe I’m being too generous here, but I think if the format were to slow down a bit, Spear Hand Strike could be of some use in the right deck.


Special Delivery


Rating: 0.5

I think we went the funsies route with this one. Which is fine, but we gotta be able to play the card as well. This is the Brewmaster Talent. We haven’t reviewed the kegs yet, but they do not salvage Special Delivery. I totally see the repeatable ping the enemy team for 1 thing. And honestly I hate hate hate to make these kinds of comparisons. But Blizzard does this. And stops combat while it’s at it. Without destroying your equipment. And it’s one card. I see the Microbrew interaction, I just don’t think it’s close to enough.


Spinning Crane Kick


Rating: 2.0

This is a decent sweeper at a fair rate. There could be some issues with it, but as long as you’ve played 1-2 abilities in the early turns and milled yourself (probably by resourcing exactly Ring of Blood: Warmaul Champion) I think it’s decent enough. The problem so far has been that the early abilities are really lacking. But overall this is doable as a sweeper.



So this was just part one of the abilities. We still have eighteen more abilities to go before we even get into allies, equipment, heroes and the quest. Let me know what your thoughts are about these specific cards in the comment section wherever you read this from. Did I completely miss something? Too harsh, too lenient? If I see chatter, I’ll try and interact. Until next time, White Tiger watch over you!

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