Chen is the opposite of a glass cannon. I’m not sure exactly what that would make him (a steel broom? a mithril massage table?), but I am sure that this panda doesn’t go down easily. Chen’s abilities and survivability are fueled by his alcoholic binging, a talent I wish I was possessed of. Instead of mana, Chen uses brew to cast his abilities. Brew doesn’t regenerate naturally, but is refilled whenever the Pandarian uses his trait to chug beer. Drinking also generates a shield and heals Chen, making him a persistent nuisance, as long as he’s conscientious about drinking often.
While persistent, Chen is rather lacking in the damage department. This places him in the role of a bruiser, a hero whose goal is to stick around in a fight and harass anyone and everyone, peeling for his back line when things get hairy. His insubstantial damage makes him less suited for zoning than other warriors, but he makes up for it with his virtually endless, albeit torpid, sustained damage.
Cooldown: 5 seconds
Drink from your keg, gaining 40 Brew and 520 (64 + 24 per level) temporary Shields per second, up to a maximum of 1560 (192 + 72 per level) while drinking. Shields persist for 2 seconds after you stop drinking.
A talent befitting of a Brewmaster, Fortifying Brew is what makes Chen so unrelenting. The Pandaren’s playstyle is centered around this ability, as it provides both Brew (Chen’s version of mana) and survivability. A new Chen will have to learn to channel his trait frequently, especially in the midst of battle. Stuns and Dazes will cancel this channel, however, leaving Chen unable to regenerate life and use his abilities. Timely chugging will soon make a master out of any Chen.
Cooldown: 5 seconds
Kick through target enemy, dealing 245 (55 + 10 per level) damage.
This pestersome ability allows Chen to stick to his target, giving him room to drink and combo them down. It can also be used as an initiator or an escape mechanism, giving him reasonable mobility as long as there is a target to kick. This ability takes Chen slightly farther than the skill graphic would have you believe, allowing him some clutch body-blocks and escapes. If talented towards, Flying Kick can become a source of great utility or moderate burst.
Cooldown: 5 seconds
Smash your keg, dealing 110 (15 + 5 per level) damage and drenching affected enemies in Brew, slowing them by -25% for 2.5 seconds.
This is Chen’s best source of utility and a part of his damage combo. Keg Smash‘s damage isn’t over the top, but its slow is quite potent, especially for its 5 second cooldown. This skill is more than it seems, though – if Breath of Fire is used on targets soaked in Brew, they will catch fire and take damage over time. Repeatedly kicking, smashing, burning, and drinking is how Chen can put out neverending damage over a long fight.
Breath of Fire
Cooldown: 5 seconds
Breathe a cone of flames, dealing 210 (39 + 9 per level) damage. Enemies soaked in Brew are set on fire, dealing 210 (39 + 9 per level) damage over 3 seconds.
Though a rather weak AoE nuke on its own, Breath of Fire doubles its damage when cast on Brew-drenched targets. This makes it inadvisable to aim it at anyone but – in fact, this should be cast immediately after Keg Smash, brew permitting. Getting an AoE dot onto several heroes several times throughout the course of a fight will keep have enemy healers straining to keep allies fueled.
Storm, Earth, Fire
Cooldown: 100 seconds
Split into three elemental spirits for 15.15 seconds, each with 50% of your maximum Health, and enables two new leaping attacks for use. Storm attacks at range for 130 (35 + 5 per level) damage. Earth attacks slowly for 80 (23 + 3 per level) damage and slows enemies by 25%. Fire attacks quickly for 38 (19 + 1 per level) damage.
This heroic gives Chen a second life if used correctly, and can help him survive scuffles he has no right to walk away from. While split, Chen loses his usually abilities and gains two new ones: Triple Attack and Split Up. Split Up will cause the three elemental aspects to jump away from one another, allowing them to mitigate AoE and focusfire. Triple Attack, on the other hand, causes the Aspects to all jump to a point, dealing damage and slowing in an area upon landing. If used well, Chen can jump on top of an enemy and cage them in with his aspects.
Chen won’t find his damage vastly supplemented by this heroic, but augmenting his ability to survive and single out opponents is arguably more useful and in line with the hero’s philosophy.
Cooldown: 90 seconds
Roll around inside the barrel, dealing 130 (35 + 5 per level) damage to enemies in the way and knocking them back. Lasts for 5 seconds.
This heroic gives Chen some immediate movement and the ability to zone enemies far, far away. Again, this heroic doesn’t deal whopping damage, but it can isolate healers, push teams away from the boss for the steal, lock heroes in corners for easy pickoffs, peel for allies, and help Chen escape from doom. Wandering Keg allows for some insane plays and rewards a coordinated team.
Level 1 Talents
Recommended: Regeneration Master or Full Keg
Chen is a tank, through and through, and bolstering that is a surefire way to stay alive. Regeneration Master rewards Chen’s capabilities for roaming and taking punishment in lane, and can make him incredibly difficult to take down in the late game. On a map or with a team where Chen expects a quick game, this probably isn’t the best talent.
Full Keg is a strong alternative to Regeneration Master. A 4 second 25% slow is pretty devastating, and will devastate any hero who likes to poke and retreat. Especially since Keg Smash is on a 5 second cooldown, this talent will make it hard for any hero to escape from Chen and friends.
Consuming Flame is a reasonable pick when Chen is put in the role of an off-tank, especially if his team is short of damage. The extra two ticks on his combo isn’t game-changing, but will certainly contribute to a team’s damage output.
Bottomless Mug would be good if drinking didn’t provide health and shields as well as Brew. Because of how good it is to drink, and how often Chen should be drinking, Bottomless Mug is more or less rendered obsolete.
Level 4 Talents
Recommended: Amplified Healing or Swift Reflexes
With a healer on his side, Chen should almost never look past Amplified Healing. Even without a healer, Chen should be aware that Amplified Healing affects the regen from Regeneration Master, effectively giving him 2 HP regen per globe instead of 1.5. This ability takes Chen’s ability to survive to the next level, and his friendly healers will thank him for it.
That said, Swift Reflexes is much like Block, and can give Chen the added bit of beef he needs to sustain against bursty attack damage heroes like Illidan or Valla. If his team is bereft of healing, and especially if he eschewed Regeneration Master in the first tier, Swift Reflexes is the better pick for tanking.
Chen should not be looking to top the damage charts, and as such Deadly Strike‘s boost to Flying Kick can generally be ignored. Deep Breath, on the other hand, can be picked up if Chen’s team lacks creep clear, and can be useful for farming objective minions and revealing stealth heroes.
Level 7 Talents
Recommended: Brewmaster’s Balance
Though it adds yet another layer to mastering Chen, the valuethatt Brewmaster’s Balance provides is worth the added difficulty. The added health regeneration while above half brew is nice for topping up health between fights and staying sustained in the thick of it, but the speed boost trumps it. Having an on-demand option for speed is amazing for chasing and escaping, and gives Chen surprising mobility early on in the game.
Ring of Fire, Combat Stance, and Keg Toss can all be picked up, but they generally pale in comparison to making the big panda a fast panda, as well.
Level 10 Heroics
Chen enjoys a bit of flexibility in his heroic slot, and can pick up either Storm, Earth, Fire or Wandering Keg in any given game.
Storm, Earth, Fire is a strong pick for the survivability and dive potential it gives Chen. He can pop it at low health to gain three new health pools, allowing him to stay off the battlefield himself until his elemental incarnations die or their timer expires. Being able to body-block and peel with near impunity can give Chen’s team a lot of space to deal damage.
Wandering Keg is a beast of a different variety. While it also supplement’s Chen’s survivability and elusiveness, it can directly affect the enemy team’s position in ways Storm, Earth, Fire cannot. A tactical Chen can use this to push enemies away from important objective points, herding them like a big rolling Collie. This ability can also trap an enemy or two in a corner for its duration, allowing a bursty and coordinated team some easy pickoffs.
Level 13 Talents
Recommended: Relentless or Enough to Share or A Touch of Honey
Thirteen is a diverse tier for Chen, allowing the Pandaren a bit of flexibility in his later game. Relentless is always a good talent against CC heavy-teams, especially on someone as vulnerable to CC as Chen. Being able to shed off Stuns and Roots and the like goes a long way towards walking out of a fight alive.
If a Chen is more focused on controlling his enemies’ movement, perhaps because he is against a swift and obnoxious enemy team, A Touch of Honey can keep enemies significantly slowed, doing incredible work if landed on several heroes at once. This talent is powerful in conjunction with a later talent, Pressure Point, as they combine to keep a single enemy locked down.
Enough to Share can help Chen’s team if they are pushing or are against a poke-heavy hero, like Kael’thas or Sgt. Hammer. This talent requires that your team knows what it does, as well as that Chen has picked it up. Shielding his allies throughout a fight can make Chen’s whole team a fair bit tankier.
Level 16 Talents
Recommended: Pressure Point or Bolder Flavor
A 90% slow is ludicrous, even if it lasts only a second – it’s basically a root. Pressure Point allows Chen to single out enemies, securing the kill in a gank or zoning a high-priority from their team. Having this available on a repeatable 5-second stick is brutal – it takes Chen’s utility and crowd control to the next level.
If damage is getting Chen down, however, Bolder Flavor immensely boosts the shields from Fortifying Brew, helping him to survive boost and survive focus-fire when he’s drinking. For the full tank route, Bolder Flavor provides excellent survivability, providing that he doesn’t get stunned out of drinking.
Combination Attack and Chug don’t provide enough impact at this point in the game to be picked in competitive circumstances.
Level 20 Talents
Recommended: Elemental Conduit or Hardened Shield or Bolt of the Storm
Elemental Conduit is awesome. Depending on the ability you use first, you’ll summon one of your Elemental Aspects to help you. A Storm Aspect will spawn for Flying Kick, Earth for Keg Smash, and Fire for Breath of Fire. These guys stick around for 4 seconds and do extra damage. The damage they provide isn’t negligible, and it’s free! If Storm, Earth, Fire was selected for the heroic slot, this is a great further addition.
Hardened Shield is to be picked up if Chen wants to further ensure his survivability, as it allows him to tank like no other. However, Chen should be plenty tanky by now, and this shouldn’t be picked up arbitrarily.
Bolt of the Storm is always a good talent, and can be reasonably considered by any hero who has it in their blood. This allows amazing initiation and disengage, and can make for some crazy plays when used with Wandering Keg and Flying Kick.
Wandering Keg can be fun, but the extra duration is pretty paltry and the added movespeed isn’t always a blessing. In fact, Hardened Shield is oft a better pick for Wandering Keg builds, as shield can be used inside the keg to keep Chen alive.