As masters of the martial arts, the monks’ greatest weapons are their own bodies. Wielding the properties of chi, they infuse their punches and kicks with magical energy to land devastating blows on their opponents.
Monks are capable of all forms of combat, and are able to tank, heal, and DPS. They strive for balance in all things. As one of the most mobile classes in the game, you’ll constantly weave back and forth between enemies, striking them to expose their weaknesses (even as a healer).
Despite the teachings of monks being still somewhat recent to most of Azeroth, denizens of all races have flocked en masse to gain martial mastery. With nearly every race capable of becoming a monk, there’s a huge list to choose from. So which race is the greatest amongst martial artists? Though Pandarens pioneered the class, they don’t necessarily stand at the top.
Today, we’re taking a look at the best races for monks in WoW: Shadowlands. We have iconic monk options for Alliance and Horde players alike, and will be covering all types of gameplay.
Let’s get started!
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Best Races for Monk in PVE
Given that monks can play every role, it should come as no surprise that some races are more suited for certain specs. With that in mind, we’ll be covering each spec individually.
If you’re looking to play all three roles on a single character, then we recommend going Human or Orc for their general all-purpose racials providing some value in every situation.
Best Races for Windwalker Monk
For some classes and specs, your race choice can make a meaningful impact in smoothing out your rotation or providing some sorely needed utility. Windwalker monks are not one of those cases.
In fact, the performance difference between the best and worst races is less than 100 DPS. Given the sheer mobility and utility options in a Windwalker monk’s kit, you’re not going to be hard pressed to pick a specific race. That being said, we’ll still be giving you the “best” race for Windwalker monks.
Despite having a half-mechanized body, the Mechagnomes are surprisingly nimble and are considered the best race for Windwalker monks on the Alliance side. This is largely due to the stat gains from their Combat Analysis.
The longer you’re in combat, the more of a boost you get to your primary stat. This effect can stack up to eight times, and you gain a stack every five seconds. The stacks also take five seconds to decay when you exit combat. With all your mobility abilities as a monk, you can easily reach new enemies and continue to maintain your stacks. Plus, you’re guaranteed to gain max value during any raid boss fight.
On top of that, you have access to Emergency Failsafe to instantly recover 15% of your health whenever you fall below 20%. It’s on a 2.5 minute cooldown, but it’s short enough that you can prevent your untimely death multiple times through a long fight.
As a DPS, you’ll often have to soak or handle lethal mechanics, so it can be an absolute life saver (or a way to cheese certain mechanics). Alternatively, it can allow you to save some defensive cooldowns for more pressing situations.
If you really hate how Mechagnomes look (we can’t blame you), Humans are another safe pick. Their performance is just shy of Mechagnomes by a sliver, thanks to the boost of their secondary stats from The Human Spirit.
For the Horde, the Orcs take the crown as the best race for Windwalker monks. This is pretty much solely due to their Blood Fury racial providing such a massive attack boost that no other race can compare.
As it’s a fifteen-second buff with a two-minute cooldown, it aligns incredibly nicely with most of your major cooldowns (in terms of duration and cooldown). You’ll most likely want to set up a macro to activate it whenever you pop your main offensive cooldowns.
Additionally, you can get a fair bit of value from the Orcs’ Command passive, as it’ll bolster your clones from Storm, Earth, and Fire, as well as your giant murder tiger from Invoke Xuen. Given how powerful these cooldowns are, an extra 1% to their damage can go a fair distance.
Best Races for Mistweaver Monk
For healers, it’s all about being able to keep that mana supply going for as long as possible. Though if you can throw out stronger and faster heals, all the better. The more utility you can bring to the table, the more value you can provide to your team.
In general, there isn’t much of a difference between the Alliance races for Mistweaver monks. Whatever advantage one racial ability might provide is offset by the lack of another meaningful racial.
To that end, Humans make for the best Alliance race for Mistweaver monks due to the constant passive bonuses to secondary stats from The Human Spirit. The bonuses to haste and versatility especially make for a nice boost once you get higher level gear. Plus the ability to escape any stun with Will to Survive is fantastic for ensuring you can keep the heals going.
Alternatively, you can run a Gnome for their 1% bonus to haste from Nimble Fingers and their 5% increased mana capacity from Expansive Mind. Given how much your mana pool matters as a healer, this can be a rather substantial boost.
Horde: Blood Elf
Blood Elves are undeniably the best race for Mistweaver monks. This is largely due to how powerful Arcane Torrent is for healers in general. Besides providing you a way to strip a buff from all enemies in an eight-yard radius, it’ll also restore 3% of your mana. Even better, it’s only a two-minute cooldown.
Given how long some raid fights can last, you can easily use it multiple times throughout a fight solely to give yourself some much needed mana. The 1% bonus to critical strike chance is also rather nice, but crit isn’t the most important secondary stat for Mistweaver monks.
Best Races for Brewmaster Monk
If you’re playing a Brewmaster, you want to be the meatiest person in the room, especially since you’re running on the Brewmaster’s unique stagger mechanic instead of conventional bulkiness. Thankfully, both factions have the perfect answer to this.
Alliance: Kul Tiran
The stalwart humans of Kul Tiras are some of the few who can outdrink even dwarves. It’s only fitting that they’re the best Alliance race for Brewmaster monks. After all, drinking is one of the few ways to pass the time while you’re out at sea.
Thanks to their Brush It Off racial ability, Kul Tirans quickly regenerate 2% of all damage taken over four seconds. Pair this with your Brewmaster shields and stagger mechanic to offset the spec’s limited self-healing. It also gives you a 1% bonus to versatility, which is your most important secondary stat, and provides additional survivability.
On top of that, your Haymaker racial is a great way to provide some CC and reposition problematic enemies. Thanks to your innate mobility as a monk, this ability can be exceedingly effective in kiting enemies that would otherwise delete you if they get a single hit off.
Additionally, while frost and nature damage aren’t exceedingly common, taking 1% less damage from those sources (thanks to Rime of the Ancient Mariner) is always appreciated as a tank.
Horde: Highmountain Tauren
The mountain-born cousins of the Tauren are the Horde’s counterpart to the Kul Tirans. They’re used to hardships and have manifested their toughness in their Rugged Tenacity. This ability reduces all damage taken by a small portion of their stamina.
Given that you’ll be stacking plenty of stamina as a tank, this ability goes a long way in mitigating damage. Plus, like the Kul Tirans, you also have a 1% bonus to versatility from Mountaineer, making the Highmountain Tauren one of the best races for Brewmaster monks.
Though in contrast to the Kul Tirans, your active racial ability Bull Rush has you charge through enemies, knocking down affected enemies for 1.5 seconds. Thanks to the monk’s mobility, you can easily position your enemies in a ideal position to stun them.
Best Races for Monk in PVP
Oh look — Humans and Orcs again for the best PVP races. Who could have possibly foreseen this coming? As is the case with every class that is compatible with these two races, Humans and Orcs are the go-to-choice thanks to their abilities that reduce CC and offer offensive bonuses.
The bonus to secondary stats from The Human Spirit become increasingly useful the higher your gear level goes. Given how important versatility is in for surviving and dealing damage in PVP, any bonus to the stat is highly valued. Additionally, given how debilitating and common stuns are in PVP, having a free stun cleanse via Will to Survive is immeasurably valuable.
Especially since it frees up one of your PVP trinket slots to choose something besides the standard Gladiator’s Medallion. As Season 3 (and presumably Season 4) of Shadowlands offers more unique PVP trinket options, this can allow you to drastically swap up your playstyle.
Having a massive attack steroid on demand is amazing for PVP, given it’s all about seizing the window of opportunity to execute an enemy. That’s why Blood Fury is so valuable in PVP, especially since it lines up with your major cooldowns rather nicely.
On top of that, having a flat 20% reduction to all stun effects from Hardiness is amazing for PVP since it’s the most common form of CC. While it may not sound like a lot, even half a second can be the turning point that ruins the enemy’s plans.
Additionally, if you happen to be a Windwalker monk for PVP, a lot of your burst damage is from Storm, Earth, and Fire. The 1% damage boost to your “pets” from Command will be especially appreciated in nuking down an opponent.
Best Race for Lore Monk: Pandaren
It’s impossible to speak of monks without thinking about the Pandaren. That’s why they’re our choice as the best race for lore for monks on both the Alliance and the Horde. Especially fitting given that every playable Pandaren has to make the choice of which faction to join after completing their starting zone.
As the progenitors of the class, the Pandaren developed the fighting techniques associated with monks. However, this creation was born out of necessity due to the grueling conditions Pandaria was in at the time. The entire continent was dominated by the ruthless Mogu, stone creatures that thrived on cruelty and built an empire off the backs of their slaves.
With their captors ensuring that no weapons would reach the hands of slaves, the Pandaren had no choice but to learn to fight with their bare hands and feet. As they honed their techniques and continued to spread their teachings, the Pandaren waited until an opportunity to overthrow their oppressors presented itself.
But it was difficult to do so, as the Mogu had outlawed the Pandaren from learning to read or write. Thankfully, the monks who were still gathering their strength kept their peoples’ spirits up by telling tales, sharing drinks, and healing wounds. This would prove invaluable in cultivating the usage of chi (positive spirit) that the monks would become known for.
Eventually the time came when the Mogu empire began to see cracks in its regime. Seizing the moment, the Pandaren rallied the other enslaved races and waged a bloody revolt. Though it took several years of fighting, they eventually overthrew the Mogu and established their own kingdom based on the principles and teachings imparted by the monks.
What Happened Next to the Pandaren?
For a time, the Pandaren monks were seen throughout the world, travelling as emissaries and trying to spread their teachings. However, Pandaria would eventually be enshrouded in its infamous mists to avoid the calamity of the prophesized Sundering, largely cutting it off from the rest of the world.
Save for a few notable souls such as Chen Stormstout, who would actually assist Thrall in establishing a new home for the Orcs, the Pandaren and monks became an incredibly rare sight. It wasn’t until the mists of Pandaria suddenly parted in the wake of the Cataclysm did the world once more reunite with the Pandaren.
While the bulk of the Pandaren on the mainland chose to remain neutral in regards to the arrival of the Alliance and the Horde, the Pandaren of the Wandering Isle found themselves aided by both factions. These Pandaren would go on to choose a faction to join and ultimately led to the introduction of monks and the martial arts to the two factions once more.
Best Looking Races for Monk
The single most important question — what are the best races for monk based solely on looks? Who’s designed like they walked straight out of a martial arts film?
For the Alliance, we have to go with the Draenei as the best-looking race for monk. Many of the Draenei have experienced the hardships of being enslaved while on Draenor. It’s only fitting that a race known for its tenacity and perseverance through hardships be suited to wielding chi.
With plenty of experience in fighting with nothing but their bare hands or basic tools, utilizing martial arts requires only a few extra steps. Plus, imagine a kick from those hooves. Ouch.
Another race with a long history of being enslaved, the Orcs are also perfectly suited for fighting with nothing more than their fists and legs. Their stocky physique especially helps put more power behind their blows and shrug off hits to the head while training.
They admittedly might have a bit of hard time with the inner peace thing given their fiery temperaments. However, as the Battle of Dazar’alor demonstrates, they’re able to wield their passion for life with devastating effects.
Best Race for Monk in Classic?
Monks didn’t exist in Classic and won’t be a thing until Mists of Pandaria. There’s a very strong chance that the Classic servers stop after Wrath of the Lich King, so we don’t suggest holding your breath.
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