While my thoughts may not bring up many new opinions, at least I reaffirm other ones. I'm not going to omit something because it was mentioned before.
Note: Aside from a bit on Defensive Strikes, I am not talking about splashed/multi-class monks. I simply don't have that kind of time, and I do not have any position of authority or knowledge to lean on. I'm also not talking about Ninja Spy, because i've had a limited time to test, and I focused on the spec I like (Shintao) and the new guy i was interested in (Henshin).
Let's get to it then!
Henshin/Ninja Spy: Suffers from the loss of Stunning Fist/Quivering Palm without being given something of comparable value. If not allowing the ability with those specific weapons (quarterstaff and short sword respectively), consider giving them an attack/cooldown which can product an effect of equal worth.
Henshin: Elemental Confusion. I did not take “Henshin Mystic” to mean “Fire Monk with a splash of Force”. I think the focus on Fire damage hurts the class from a gameplay perspective. Consider adding a core ability or toggle that changes the element of the various “Ki” abilities to match your stance. This toggle, or a higher ability (or capstone?) could enhance or change the bonuses/penalties to the stances themselves (would have to be tier 5 or capstone for this) and encourage shifting your elemental affinity for tactical advantage.
Fire damage, Frost damage, Lightning damage, Acid damage. This would also make the Elemental Words abilities more useful, since you would be able to personally use any of them – rather than just fire, and the rest limited to party buffing. I imagine a situation where you could shift to Ocean Stance, abundant step into a fire elemental, hit it with Winter’s Tough and then a Ki Blast (Frost) to it’s face. Then, upon seeing a random army of undead attack, shift to Mountain Stance and throw an Acid Wave at it (or Cauldron of Acid)
Finally, adjust Animal Forms – They are… outdated, large inconsequential. We have a lot of toggles and stances already, so I’m not sure what to do here. Negotiator also seems out of place – Being a HENSHIN MYSTIC monk doesn’t suddenly turn you into a bard or something.
I’m not a ninja spy, so I will let this path be handled by people better suited to it, other than my bit about having an alternative to Stunning Fist/Quivering Palm.
Shintao. Seriously, there’s too MUCH tanking stuff here. I do not see monks as tanks at all, personally – but if I did, I would see them as more of a dodge/AC-based monk rather than a “let’s just absorb all the damage” PRR tank. Personal thought, probably not widely shared, but i'm putting it here anyway.
On top of that, Meditation of War gives a PRR bonus to Mountain Stance. We could have at least had a damage bonus in Mountain here as well, I think, without being overpowered. A bit redundant. Aside from soloing, I would image if you were really going to whole-hog tank route, you'd just stay in defensive stance, and not bounce aspects in Meditation.
Defensive Strikes <-> Meditation of War. Move Meditation of War to Tier 4 (it’s not THAT powerful), and switch places. If you want the 80 PRR that comes without almost any drawbacks to a non-monk, you should at least have to work at it. Leave removing the penalties from Meditation to the capstone. if you don't want Meditation to be in Tier 1, push it up a notch or two - You will have room because of...
Smite Tainted / Dismissing Strike / Tomb of Jade – Combine abilities into one, let’s call it “Obliterate The Snot Out of Un-Natural Mofos” (name up for debate, if you insist). The individual attacks have not aged well (kukan-do has, so I’m not including it) and doing this would give us room for a non-tanking based attack in the Shintao tree for unarmed fighting. Plus you could have it do something awesome like destroy all tainted creatures in a 1,000 meter radius that ignores zone lines. Look, I don’t do balance testing.
Okay, I need to get back to work now. Thoughts, comments, insults, dev responses, women swooning and throwing themselves at me (like, from a catapult or something) - all are welcome.