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We got an Alpha build last night, mainly focused on moving around talents for many specs, including Windwalker. You can always find an updated talent calculator on WoWHead here. Here’s what was included:

Although looking at these changes is largely a matter of opinion, as there will undoubtedly be numbers tuning as time goes on for the talents that are numbers based. Lets take a look at each of the talent tiers that have changed and how these changes effected things.

Tier 2 (lv30)

This tier didn’t really get much of a functional change, as its still two movement talents and one defensive talent. Diffuse Magic is typically a much more useful talent than Healing Elixir outside of questing, so this is a positive change to our defensive capabilities. Chi Torpedo switching with Tiger’s Lust is also a small change as both provide burst movement with an added benefit. Chi Torpedo has the added benefit of a stacking movement speed increase, providing you with the highest maximum movement speed over a long period of time. Tiger’s Lust has the benefit of not replacing Roll, and thus giving you an additional movement ability to use depending on the situation. These talents were mostly up to personal preference, so that won’t change; if you want defense, you’ll pick Diffuse Magic, if you want sustained movement, you’ll pick Chi Torpedo, if you want burst movement you’ll pick Celerity.

Tier 3 (lv45)

The only change to this talent tier is the removal of Power Strikes and Fist of the White Tiger being moved into its place. This is one of the more interesting changes as it actually may change the balance of power of this tier and provides more reasonable alternatives. Ascension is still garbage, only drastic number tuning will change that. Fist of the White Tiger provides 3 Chi every 30 seconds, but as it would just be used in a situation that you’d otherwise use Tiger Palm, you gain 1 Chi and 10 energy over using TP in its place, every 30s. This means that every minute you generate an additional 2 Chi and 20 energy, which equates to roughly 2.8 Chi per minute. Compare this to Energizing Elixir‘s maximum of just slightly less than 6 Chi per minute (losing some energy regen to the GCD) and it doesn’t seem very comparable.

However, the fact that Fist of the White Tiger provides a reasonable amount of additional damage on top of the resources it provides, and things get more difficult to compare. This is further compounded by the fact that Fist of the White Tiger does not currently proc Blackout Kick!, making it very difficult to guesstimate the exact value of each talent in this tier. Much smarter people than I will have to figure this out.

Tier 4 (lv60)

This tier saw the most drastic changes, originally being the tier of Tornado KicksCombo Breaker, and Fist of the White Tiger, and now being based around abilities that provide additional control, similar to how we have on Live. While it was nice to have all the damage increasing abilities, and many people really enjoyed the visuals of Tornado Kicks, this change really isn’t as major as it may seem since any loss in damage *should* be balanced back into the spec as we get closer to release.

Looking at how this tier works now; its likely that the default will be Tiger Tail Sweep as Leg Sweep will likely still remain our go-to stun and group CC ability. While its nice to have Dave back with Dave, it wasn’t a talent we took much before, and depends heavily on the style of the fights and what they entail. Ring of Peace will be a nice alternative when you need an additional CC on top of Leg Sweep. Its a talent that many of us have learned to love this past tier, so its one that I’ll probably stick with unless I really need to use Leg Sweep slightly more often or with slight bigger range.

Tier 5 (lv75)

Similar to the changes we saw with the level 30 tier, this isn’t much of a functional change. Its certainly nice to have Dampen Harm back, and the prospect of having both Dampen Harm and Diffuse Magic talented at the same time provides some pretty awesome defensive possibilities, just like having both Chi Torpedo and Tiger’s Lust usable at the same time provides awesome mobility possibilities. Inner Strength got a much needed tweak previously that gives it a higher uptime, so it will be more useful as a small increase to sustained damage reduction. In combination with the level 30 talent tier, this tier should provide some much desired flexibility in adapting to the situation’s needs.

Tier 7 (lv100)

This talent tier didn’t get much of a change with the addition of Power Strikes and the removal of Wind Strikes. It does somewhat seem like an odd change, but as its unlikely Wind Strikes would be used often, its not really much of a functional change to this talent tier. Looking at comparing the, more easily comparable, Power Strikes to WDPPower Strikes provides a 200% increase to Tiger Palm and an additional Chi every 15 seconds compared to WDP‘s AOE damage.

Currently, on Alpha, Tiger Palm does 27% of Attack Power, so a 200% increase is 54% AP every 15s. Add to that the extra Chi, which at the least would translate to another Blackout Kick, being another 77% AP for a total of 131% AP every 15 seconds, or 524% AP every minute. There is some slight increase to this due to the cooldown reduction mechanic of Blackout Kick, but that’s for a later date. WDP provides 249% AP every 24s, before Haste reduces its cooldown, equating to 622.5% AP every minute. WDP also does damage to all targets, helping it pull ahead even further. Obviously there is likely to be further tuning to the damage of these, and other talents, to help balance things if Blizzard wishes, but right now that’s how it stands.

Overall

Looking at all these changes, I think they’re mostly positive. The flexibility of being able to focus more on survival or on mobility is still there, Fist of the White Tiger moving to the 3rd Tier is an intriguing change that provides more potential than Power Strikes likely does. Although I loved Combo Breaker, and felt that is how the proc should always have been, it was somewhat polarizing, and since many people like the visuals of Tornado Kicks, I would be surprised if this was the last we heard of those two mechanics.

Like I said up top, many of these changes are up to everyone’s personal opinion, as these changes were devoid of the numbers tuning that will likely come later.

I have been playing on the Alpha in my free time, including trying to test out some dungeons and how Windwalkers perform and feel in them, so I hope to have a few more experiences and an article discussing my impressions over the next few days.


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