I finally was able to get into the Alpha for a few hours to run some tests and see how Windwalker feels with the changes. I focused primarily on the individual talents and changes, rather than the overall feel of the spec with a variety of builds as some important mechanics aren’t currently working correctly, making any testing irrelevant. I wasn’t concerned with looking at the damage of any of the abilities, since those are the things that will change much later in the cycle.
This did end up being more comprehensive than I originally anticipated, so please consider supporting the site and the work that I/we do by clicking the buttons on the right. —>
If you’d like to watch my stream from last night, you can find it on my Twitch here: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/244837471
Tier 1 (lv15)
- Eye of the Tiger – No change
- Chi Wave – No change
- Chi Burst – Extra chi per target hit is AWESOME. It fits well into the single target rotation as well as provides a ton of resources for AOE.
Tier 2 (lv30)
- Celerity – Same as current, when combined with Chi Torpedo its 60% movement speed for a looooong time if used correctly, nearly 40 seconds. I can’t think of a time this will be useful other than foot races and battlegrounds, but its a lot of speed for a long time.
- Healing Elixirs – Definitely an odd position, but not a talent that I took often, so I don’t mind being able to take it with Diffuse Magic. Windwalker has a ton of movement anyway, so Tiger’s Lust isn’t as missed, even though I love it.
- Tiger’s Lust – Same as current
I didn’t mind having a little bit of a mix of movement and survivability on this tier. It allows you to take either two movement talents, or two survival talents, or a mix. This feels like you’d have more flexibility in what you’d use depending on the situation.
Tier 3 (lv45)
- Ascension – No change, still a garbage talent. The energy cap and regen increase is not noticed, nor is the 6th chi slot.
- Power Strikes – No functional change, just more damage. However, with the nerf to Energizing Elixir, Power Strikes‘s 4 chi per minute max is more reasonable compared to EE‘s 6 chi max, if used perfectly, which is more typically a little less than 6. Having one less thing to worry about, for a little loss in single target feels pretty nice. In AOE when you can more easily dump chi, EE will still reign supreme.
- Energizing Elixir – Feels good, easy to use, much less thought required, much less waste. You can, and often should, use TP right after EE as long as you won’t cap your chi, in order to waste less energy.
Of all the tiers, this is the one I was most excited about changing. Energizing Elixir being down to 2 Chi, while technically a HUGE nerf, balances this talent tier soooooooooo much better. The fact that Energizing Elixir maxes out at 6 chi, compared to Power Strikes‘s 4 is still a notable difference, but no where near as big as it is currently where the difference is more like 11 vs 4 in perfect use. It will take some getting used to Energizing Elixir being so easily used, but overall a fantastic change all around.
Tier 4 (lv60)
- Tornado Kicks – No functional effect
- Combo Breaker – This appeared to be bugged as the effect was happening regardless of talent. It feels really good, as requiring a TP to proc means that you automatically have the 2 chi needed. It is a bummer when you get the proc right as RSK is coming off CD, but getting it the GCD after you just used RSK into TP feels amazing.
- Fist of the White Tiger – Was not providing the extra chi, will revisit later
This tier is, more or less, all new; so I was interested in checking out. Unfortunately Fist of the White Tiger wasn’t working correctly, not providing the Chi, and Combo Breaker appeared to be on at all times, whether you had the talent or not. However, the one thing I can comment on with this tier is that Combo Breaker feels exactly how that proc should be; its impactful but not intrusive.
Tier 5 (lv75)
- Inner Strength – Doesn’t do anything functional, stacks to 5, definitely something that is nice to have, but in my opinion, requires too much attention to use fully. Nice to have if you’re not overthinking it and you don’t need the other talents in the row. Cannot be maintained indefinitely currently. Not a worthy replacement for Dampen Harm, in its current form, in my opinion.
- Chi Torpedo – same as Celerity
- Diffuse Magic – Doesn’t feel terrible having it in the row with Chi Torpedo as I’d use Diffuse Magic most of the time, and never felt the need to use Chi Torpedo
Similar to my impression of Tier 2, I don’t mind having a mix of survival and movement on the same tier. Inner Strength does feel like a half idea right now, as it neither provides enough damage reduction in the best situation to make it worth thinking about and playing around, nor does it have a high enough uptime to make a noticeable difference with its lower damage reduction. One of those two things need changing, either more uptime, or more damage reduction.
Tier 6 (lv90)
- Hit Combo – Same feel, just less damage, less punishing for mistakes
- Rushing Jade Wind – Holy forking shizz… this talent feels awful. Potentially the worst gameplay I’ve ever played in WoW. The fact that it drains some energy feels fine, there’s no problem with that. The problem, and it sticks out like a thorn, is that if you are waiting for energy to regen so you can use TP, using TP as soon as you have enough energy will, depending on how much you’re spamming the button, mean that you don’t have that much energy for RJW for that fraction of a second, and RJW will turn off, meaning that you’ll have to wait till your next free GCD to turn it back on. Basically, to not automatically drop RJW the instant that you use TP, you need to have at least 54 energy when you hit TP. This means that you have to wait an additional 0.4s past hitting 50 energy, if you have no haste. This is only an issue if you’re spamming TP waiting to have enough energy to use it, which is basically hardwired into any person who’s ever played an energy class. This can be played around, simply by waiting a smidge, and planning your resources so that you are always above 4 energy, but its enough of a change to feel jarring. Talents like Ascension, Serenity, and others will help reduce the frequency of this happening, but not fix the fact that if you are spamming Tiger Palm waiting for energy, 99% of the time you will drop RJW and have to put it back up when you can, losing damage. It is visually very cool though, but I am genuinely disappointed with how it feels.
- Xuen – Same feel, just a shorter duration and cooldown so less overall uptime. Right now, based on my 8.0 spreadsheet, he is WAY overtuned, unless I have put something wrong into the sheet, which is definitely plausible. Does not look like he feeds into the new Touch of Death/Gale Burst, so the fact that they line up with the same cooldown length isn’t super important beyond the fact that you’d want to use Xuen when you have stat buffs, which you’d also want to do for Touch of Death, so that you get more benefit from the 10% damage addition.
I hope my disdain for RJW was adequately conveyed through that paragraph. If not, there’s definitely some choice words somewhere on the VOD from last night’s stream. This tier is mostly disappointing as on RJW provides any meaningful change to how you play, and it plays like hot garbage. Something more needs to be done about this tier, but the potential is there.
Tier 7 (lv100)
- Wind Strikes – Pretty passive, nothing happens. It does have some interesting play in a situation where you’re dropping RSK from the rotation, as it adds AOE damage to your TP, where WDP would still require you to RSK to use. Its probably not a meaningful interaction, but one that is theoretically possible.
- Whirling Dragon Punch – Still my favorite talent, still feels just the same. The fact that BoK reduces the CD of RSK and FoF but not WDP is really not noticeable.
- Serenity – No legendary bracers is groooooossss. Other than that, nothing special. It does not look like it was currently working correctly as the cooldown reduction didn’t seem to be happening. It does feel weird without Strike of the Windlord to use. Honestly the only time I missed Strike when testing.
There’s not much to be said about this tier as it really isn’t much different from live, which is mostly OK.
- No Strike of the Windlord – I didn’t notice it was gone except for during Serenity. Because of the CD reduction mechanic of BoK, there is enough to press for the resources you have without Strike of the Windlord.
- Blackout Kick reducing cooldown of RSK and FoF – Feeels goooooood. Not major enough to be game changing, but enough that its noticeable.
- SCK costs 2 Chi – Feels more natural, just harder to “dump” chi. It feels much better when you drop RSK and BoK from the rotation. Also feels very nice with Power Strikes as it helps you have enough Chi for FoF without having to think about it much. You just alternate TP and SCK and FoF when its up. Combined with EE, Chi Burst, Fist of the White Tiger, and other things, you’ll have a ton of resources for using SCK often. Although I wasn’t overly miffed with 3 chi SCK, this just feels right.
- Offensive abilities being on the GCD – Yeah, this doesn’t feel great. It will take some getting used to and planning around. Touch of Karma remains off the GCD since its “technically” a defensive.
- Ring of Peace and Leg Sweep being baseline is quite nice. RoP got its time in the sun during Antorus, so its nice to be able to play around with it in the future without it taking up a talent slot.
I was, unfortunately, unable to really give testing to any specific talent builds, as several of the talents were not working correctly, such as Serenity, Combo Breaker, and Fist of the White Tiger. This makes any testing for how the builds “feel” impossible to truly do right now. I will revisit this at a later date when these talents are working correctly, and, of course, write another long ass article about it.
What can still be done
Although I really enjoyed my time on the Alpha, there are still some things that can be changed to improve the spec. I still maintain that how diverse our stat interactions are with our abilities will lead us into trouble later on; right now Vers affects 100% of our damage, Crit around 90%, Mastery 80%, and Haste 70%. This leads to inevitable inequity between the specs, and tends to just be a hassle.
Ascension needs buffing or its still terrible. It needs to provide at least 4 chi per minute, which would be another 100 energy per minute or 1.667 energy per second. At the current 10% increase to energy regen, (assuming my math is correct, which is no guarantee) you’d have to have like 15 energy per second regen before taking Ascension into account, which requires 50% haste, an unreachable number outside of huge buffs. If its un-nerfed to 20% then that requirement falls to 38%, at buffed to 30% more energy regen you’d need 28% haste, which is a MUCH more reasonable number, but still pretty high for how Haste will likely remain lower in our priority. This just shows that Ascension has really no chance.
Chi Wave needs buffing to offset Chi Burst giving chi if it wants a chance to compete in that tier. There could also be a change to Chi Burst so that it only provides 1 Chi per target hit if it hits more than 1 target. This would insure that Chi Burst is the go-to pick for anything with multiple targets, and Chi Wave remains preferable for single target.
RJW needs to be seriously looked at, along with the other two talents in that row.
- RJW idea 1 – Cost 5 energy to start and maintain, every target hit reduces energy cost by 1 for 5 seconds.
- RJW idea 2 – Cost X energy initially, energy/chi spent increases duration, either enough to make it permanently maintainable as long as you’re still in combat, or slightly less so it requires more thought to line it up with mechanics and energy regen. (courtesy of OneTrueBalou on in Twitch chat)
The first option would allow that the more targets you have, and thus the more you’d want to use RJW, the less of an impact having less energy will have. If the cost is 5 energy, and you have 10 energy per second worth of regen, that means you have to delay TP by 0.5s after its available, so you don’t drop RJW. If that cost goes down to 2 energy, because it hits 3 targets, then the delay goes down to 0.2s. At 5 targets hit, it would cost 0 and thus you wouldn’t have to delay TP at all.
The second option means that you’d be able to use it and keep it going with good play, promoting stacking and pooling of resources to get the most out of it. It could be tuned so that you can keep it up 100% of the time but do slightly less damage, or not have 100% uptime, requiring more thought, but with more damage as a bonus for using it correctly. This is similar to how I feel that Inner Strength should work.
Lastly my idea to fix the overall tier with just numbers balancing – Hit Combo back to 12%, RJW buffed enough to merit the extra thought required to not spam TP without it costing you further damage, Xuen stays strong.
Windwalker is still fun. Anyone who’s been around for a while may know my opinions and preference for how Windwalker should play. I prefer slow, paced, gameplay. Minimal spamming, more time for planning. This was what I enjoyed most about Windwalker at any time during the past 6 years. With that in mind, the current feel of Windwalker on Alpha is just about my dream situation. The choices you need to make are meaningful, but not complicated. Each ability and button press feels important. There’s both room for mistakes and room to really squeeze out a bunch more DPS. It is simpler than currently, and more user-friendly, without losing the feel or the complexity that makes many people love Windwalker right now.
Interesting note, with the change to our talent order, the left column is all passive and the right column is all active abilities. I’m assuming it was intentional, so nicely done Blizzard.
That concludes my lengthy article about my first time in Alpha. If there is anything further you’re interested in or would like me to test next time, leave a comment or toss it out on my stream when I’m streaming more Alpha stuff as the weeks and months go on.