Lately, we’ve been asked time and time again to release an article about serenity useage in 7.2. With the new traits (mainly Split Personality) and the changes to drinking horn cover, serenity has become a very solid option once again, and if you’ve looked at the top performances lately for windwalkers, you’ve heard of the trinity – Serenity, Chest and Drinking Horn Cover.

However we don’t want to publish anything too final about serenity. Notxes and I have been discussing this matter a LOT lately, you can trust me on that. But our rotation will change drastically once 7.2.5 comes out in a month or so, we likely change tier 19 for whatever our tier 20 will be and the relative power of our spell changes a lot. Most of what we do right now might not make sense with a 20% weaker Fist of Fury.

In the meantime, I’d like to answer some questions about one specific item: The emperor’s capacitor. What I want to explain today is how strong this item is, when to use it and how it fits in your rotation.

Why and when use the emperor’s capacitor?

In the last patch, The emperor’s capacitor‘s effect was doubled, from 50% damage per stack to 100%. While this looks like a 100% buff to the effect, it’s actually significantly better than that.
The chest’s effect comes at a cost: you don’t just stand still and channel for nearly 4 seconds for free. You lose melee hits, you might occasionally lose some energy, delay some spells in the 10 seconds following this channel (it is exceedingly hard to use this at the right time with high chi and all your spells on cooldown). The effect prior was a 1100% damage crackling jade lightning minus the costs (some delay, some melee hits). If you say that the costs amounted for roughly 400% of a CJL’s damage, then the buff made this effect go from gaining 700% of a crackling jade lightning per cast to gaining 2100% minus 400% aka 1700%: as you can see, it ends up being more than just a 100% buff.

This made the chest suddenly be extremely strong for single target damage, and correct useage of it be paramount. But many would say, the effect is useless on AoE as it only benefits on one target. To this I will both agree and disagree.
In raid encounters, most of our legendaries do not gain that much during AoE. The cloak, the gloves, the ring obviously don’t matter quite as much. In most scenarios, the belt is near useless since windwalkers have a few seconds of ramp up before they can go hard, therefore outside of the infamous Tichondrius Bat phase, it’s often a let down.
Then come the big two, boots and drinking horn cover. Well, as long as you kill most targets within 15 seconds, bracers don’t do anything to help with your AoE. Same goes for the boots, you actually need to be energy starved and chi starved for a while before they actually make that big of a difference.

Of course this is not true for dungeons where you will face long AoE phases, but in many encounters this will be the case: you need very serious AoE for our legendaries to actually matter besides single target gains. When this is the case, it all comes down to the stats on your items. And in that regard, The emperor’s capacitor is king.
Just think about it: chests have the biggest stats budget. Replacing a 905 wrist with drinking horn cover gains me 494 agility. Replacing a 905 chest with The emperor’s capacitor gains me 877 agility. That’s allmost 400 more agility, which is a HUGE deal. This amount of agility, for most windwalkers, converts into allmost 1% more dps at all times for instance.

Then during the downtime after AoE happened, you will still gain allmost as much from The emperor’s capacitor‘s effect. Of course you stack up significantly slower if you spam spinning crane kick, however you’ll still get the effect. In raiding encounters, it’s a very solid choice.

With the nerfs to some of our key legendaries, most were toned down a lot on single target. In that regard, chest is an absolute king on single target. Belt, cloak, wrists or boots do not really come close in most situations to the power level of The emperor’s capacitor.
Just give a look at top ranks and you’ll see people using it a lot when they have access to it.

In dungeons, I wouldn’t value it quite as much allthough it still has a place; however the occasional single target damage is way less relevant there.

When do I press my lightning?

This is the big question, this is probably why you’re here in the first place. To be frank this is why I’m writing this: I get ingame whispers everyday asking for it, I get discord PMs and when it’s not me, it’s asked in windwalker chat or to my friends. I wanted to cover this. Here are the common questions I get to see:

Do I use lightning inside serenity? Inside Storm, Earth, and Fire?
No and yes.
You should never ever use lightning inside of serenity pretty much. Allthough the ticks hit very hard and the 45% damage increase on these probably does more than on a blackoutkick, however it’s a complete waste. The point is that serenity allows you to gain stacks quickly, not use them. If this is what you use serenity for, you might as well do that with storm earth fire.
Which leads us to the second half of the question: yes, it is good to use CJL inside Storm, Earth, and Fire. If specced into it and running chest, you’ll easily find a way to make everything line up (with how flexible storm, earth, and fire is). You should NOT tunnel vision and think “damn I should never use CJL outside SEF, allthough in many scenarios it is achievable to lightning pretty much inside of it every time; in some other scenarios you should be using SEF for AoE more than ST and thus will lack enough stacks to perform this.
Keep in mind clones channel CJL quicker than you: it sometimes is good to stop your channel once theirs is over!

Do I only use lightning at 20 stacks?
No, you don’t.
Trying to force 20 stacks and never waste stacks will sure be optimal for lightning useage but come at greater costs elsewhere.
Sometimes you’ll be close to 15 stacks and serenity is coming up. Obviously as stated before, you don’t want to start using serenity, reach 20 stacks in the middle of it then stop to channel CJL.
It is slightly suboptimal to use stacks below 20. It is also slightly suboptimal to waste stacks, aka to gain them while capped. You will have to chose the lesser of two evils. It is usually a smart choice to use CJL with 13-14 stacks a few seconds before serenity. If you start serenity with around 10 it’s fine in my opinion.
In many scenarios you can plan. Take Krosus for instance: you know you will use lightning during bridge break as you’re capping ressources at this point and will be out of range. Therefore this is a point in the fight where you’ll CJL 100% of the time, even at 10-12 stacks. You can plan to make it line up better; for instance:
Bridge just broke, you know you will get around 33 stacks before next break (this is purely an example). This is not enough for two lightnings but definitely more than one so you’ll end up doing it twice. Knowing this, as soon as you hit 12-13 stacks, you know you can CJL any time and probably won’t lose stacks before the next break.
This is how I planned my CJL useage in this log. As I write it it’s highest log on boss damage for that fight, and the rotation felt very solid there. You can see boss died as I was on 20 stacks unfortunately, but the timing for lightning worked out very nicely.

Can I delay extensively because of mechanics
Yes, and you should keep them in mind. During Krosus’s bridge break, you’re not doing anything as a melee outside of a few filler spells. Gaining GCDs there is a HUGE deal, specially when playing a spec occasionally capped in available GCDs. You WILL use your chest effect even at low stacks during downtime, so plan accordingly. On star augur, you can gain a few seconds of boss uptime during Fel Nova, Icy Ejections and the likes by being smart about it. Gaining boss uptime is easily worth wasting a few stacks or using the effect with only 13-16 stacks.
Check your boss timer: you should think as a caster whenever you use lightning. Obviously once you cancel the effect you just lost a couple millions damage all of a sudden! Flames of Sargeras are going out soon? Solar Collapse is coming up? Many mechanics will require you to move. Allthough you might not want to, you’ll need to delay CJL and use it in a slightly worse time.

Can I only use chest with serenity?
No, it is also very potent with SEF if used correctly. Allthough the serenity+chest+drinking horn combo (infamous under the street name of “holy trinity”) is currently looking like the outlier combo for single target as a windwalker, not every fight is serenity friendly, not every player enjoys it and not every fight is single target. In dungeons, in specific boss encounters, you might be specced in SEF and need to pick a legendary. I believe when running SEF, chest will likely still be your best single target legendary. In very short kills obviously the ramp up time will make it less effective than others, but in the long run it’s very strong. The fact that chest benefits a lot from serenity doesn’t mean it isn’t the best single target option for SEF as well.
With SEF, you’ll gain the option of using CJL during the buff. Warning here: Be sure your clones are targeting something. If you just SEF and cast CJL instantly, chances are your two Clowns will run around using melee hits. If you roll right before CJL, the same thing might happen.
As I said earlier in the article: if AoE phases last less than 15 seconds, your bracers might not be that good in the end. The flat agility and the effect of chest during downtime might be strong as well.

Can I use chest with serenity without legendary wrists?
Yes. Wrists are performing very very well with serenity so people are using them combined, and the effect benefits to the chest a bit. However, just the fact that more work was put into optimizing this combo because top players have access to it doesn’t mean you cannot use them separately. Serenity and chest is a strong combo in itself; with boots, cloak or belt I’d still consider chest a very solid choice.

Conclusion

Chest is probably one of the strongest legendaries available to monks, alongside wrists. But good use of it is not allways instinctive.
As usually, feel free to whisper me on discord (as long as you’re not mad if I’m not able to answer quickly – I usually am) for further questions or if you feel like I’m a complete idiot and need to be corrected. Also, one last thing before going – the item is, after all, called the emperor’s capacitor, and allows you to shoot lightning as a melee fighter.

Did you ever hear the tragedy of Darth Plagueis The Wise? I thought not. It’s not a story the Jedi would tell you. It’s a Sith legend. Darth Plagueis was a Dark Lord of the Sith, so powerful and so wise he could use the Force to influence the midichlorians to create life… He had such a knowledge of the dark side that he could even keep the ones he cared about from dying. The dark side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural. He became so powerful… the only thing he was afraid of was losing his power, which eventually, of course, he did. Unfortunately, he taught his apprentice everything he knew, then his apprentice killed him in his sleep. Ironic. He could save others from death, but not himself.

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