So if you’ve been paying attention for the past many months, you may have seen many references to problems with Windwalkers. Surprisingly, many of these problems can be traced to one source… Blackout Kick. Yes, Blackout Kick, the ability that seemed innocuous for most of the time that Windwalker has been a spec, used mainly to dump Chi or when there were no other options. It has now become a force of evil, messing up much of the mechanics we have all come to enjoy about Windwalker.
Dramatics aside, nearly all of the complaints or concerns that people have voiced so far in the Pre-Patch, and really going back to the start of Alpha for BfA, are the result of Blackout Kick being too strong relative to other abilities. Although seemingly a good thing that Blackout Kick does a lot of damage, it has a cascading affect that changes much about the class we love. This is something that we’ve been reporting for months now, so this article is meant to consolidate all the affects that this has and hope for a positive change.
To look at these issues, the first thing to do is to look at the numbers behind the abilities;
- Windwalker Monk (http://bfa.wowhead.com/spell=137025/windwalker-monk) – Modifies nearly all abilities by -27% (Effect #1 and #2); plus extra modifiers to specific abilities relevant to these discussions; +26% to Rising Sun Kick, Blackout Kick, Tiger Palm (Effect #5); +140% to Spinning Crane Kick (Effect #8); and +50% to Blackout Kick (Effect #9).
- Tiger Palm – 27% base AP * +26% (Effect #5) * -27% (Effect #1) = 26.78% AP
- Blackout Kick – 77% base AP * +50% (Effect #9) * +26% (Effect #5) * -27% (Effect #1) = 114.5% AP
- Rising Sun Kick – 115% base AP * +26% (Effect #5) * +70% (Rising Sun Kick) * -27% (Effect #1) = 193.96% AP
- Whirling Dragon Punch – 248.7% base AP per target * -27% (Effect #2) = 195.83% AP per target
- Fists of Fury – 5 hits of 120.75% base AP * -27% (Effect #2) = 603.75% AP
- Spinning Crane Kick – 40% base AP * +140% (Effect #8) * -27% (Effect #2) = 75.59% AP per target
- Mark of the Crane – +10% damage to Spinning Crane Kick per stack
- Chi Wave – 4 hits of 14.2% AP * -27% (Effect #1) = 44.72% AP
- Chi Burst – 46% AP * -27% (Effect #1) = 36.22% AP per target
Because, outside of burst windows (aka, most of the time), the limiting factor of what we can do is Chi, so we aim to use that Chi as effectively as possible. This means that we prioritize our abilities by the damage they do per Chi used, which results in Blackout Kick being a higher priority than Rising Sun Kick. Even when you consider that Rising Sun Kick costs two chi, so getting rid of it would equate to two Blackout Kick, and to do so may even require you to use Blackout Kick back to back, so the second one doesn’t benefit from Mastery, you still need over 54% Mastery for Rising Sun Kick to do more damage considering the cooldown reduction that Blackout Kick provides to Fists of Fury. That’s a high amount of Mastery in Antorus, outside of Argus, and certainly will be at the start of Battle for Azeroth.
With this realization comes the horrible occurrence that everyone is logging in to find; outside of very specific circumstances, burst windows,to enable Whirling Dragon Punch, or when near Chi cap and 2x Blackout Kick won’t be enough, you don’t cast Rising Sun Kick. The ability that Windwalkers have had for years, that has retained its spot at or near the top of the priority list, is now relegated to a Chi dump or an ability used to proc other abilities.
As you can see above, because Rising Sun Kick isn’t used as often, we replace it with two Blackout Kick. Since one of those Blackout Kick isn’t affected by Mastery, this cuts down on the effectiveness of Mastery as a stat. Moreover, it actively encourages a playstyle that not only allows for, but encourages us to ignore the Mastery mechanic that dominated the way Windwalker was played for all of Legion, and is one of the primary reasons that people enjoyed Windwalker as a spec.
This would be an even bigger deal if Hit Combo was still the chosen talent, but even though its not, its still a huge departure from the playstyle that Windwalker had all of Legion. It basically takes the core mechanic that made Windwalkers unique to any spec that has ever played, and took it away. Now, if it can be spammed; you spam it (within reason) mostly ignoring Mastery, and if it can’t be spammed; it benefits from Mastery anyway unless you did something real crazy.
Windwalker is no stranger to changes like this between expansions, as we’ve had plenty of them. But this is the first one that seems directly counter to what came before. Although the Mastery hasn’t changed directly, how we feel about it has. Its gone from “NEVER BREAK MASTERY OMGWTFRUDOIN” in most situations to “Meh, Mastery is nice, but if you need to ignore it, not a big deal”.
Between this and the Rising Sun Kick change, we’ve had over 200 questions and comments in the Wind-Questions channel of Discord in the last 24 hours alone, not because its hard to understand, but its so different from two days ago that everyone needs to double check that they read it correctly.
This is something that most people haven’t considered, but the strength of Blackout Kick affects the first talent tier, specifically Chi Burst vs Chi Wave. This is because Chi Burst gives you 1 Chi in single target every 30s and Chi Wave does not. Chi Wave gives you 44.72% AP every 15 seconds, compared to Chi Burst‘s 36.22% AP every 30 seconds, so obviously Chi Wave should be better in single target since it equates to 89.44% AP every 30 seconds, compared to 36.22% from Chi Burst, right?
WRONG! Here comes Blackout Kick to screw up even more things.
That extra chi that comes from Chi Burst directly translates into an extra Blackout Kick every 30 seconds, since you already have enough Chi for all your other abilities that require Chi (which is really just Fists of Fury at this point). That means you add Blackout Kick‘s 114.5% AP to every Chi Burst, meaning that the real competition is 89.44% every 30 seconds with Chi Wave, to Chi Burst‘s 150.72%, and its not even close.
If you are astute, you may have noticed something interesting, because you may have noticed that because of Blackout Kick‘s 114.5% AP, Chi Burst could do 0 damage on its own, and the extra Chi would equate to more damage than Chi Wave. Obviously this means there’s more to this discrepancy than Blackout Kick‘s damage, but it takes what would be a small discrepancy and makes it HUGE. Not having Chi Wave also cuts down on the other casts we could weave in between Blackout Kick, furthering the situations that we just hit it twice.
So this problem really builds upon the lack of caring about Mastery, and centers around what we do inside Serenity. Historically, during Serenity we would prioritize our hardest hitting abilities, without regard for their Chi cost, since they were all free. This means that during Serenity is the only time we use Rising Sun Kick except as a Chi dump when talented into that. It also means that during Serenity we, historically, have alternated between Spinning Crane Kick and Blackout Kick to keep the benefit of Mastery.
However, all that changed when the Blackout Kick nation attacked. Now that Blackout Kick does 114.5% AP per cast, and Spinning Crane Kick does a paltry 83.15% AP with 1 stack and 1 target, you need at least 37.7% Mastery for Spinning Crane Kick to have a chance, and when you add in the fact that using Blackout Kick can easily lead to another Rising Sun Kick and/or Fists of Fury inside of Serenity, that change goes *POOF*.
Although this is certainly not as egregious a situation as ignoring Rising Sun Kick, its still a departure from what was the usual occurrences in Legion.
So after reading all this, you may be saying to yourself, “But Babs, how could all these problems that are bound to turn people away from Windwalker, if they haven’t already… how could they all be because of Blackout Kick?” And to that I say “Effect #9”.
Effect #9 on the Windwalker Aura; Windwalker Monk, increases Blackout Kicks damage by 50% and is basically the cause of most, if not all, of the problems that people are seeing as they wake up to play the new Windwalker.
If you look at the above concerns, if you remove the 50% damage increase, Rising Sun Kick becomes better per Chi, so it stops being ignored. Because of that, you don’t ignore Mastery to spam Blackout Kick. With Blackout Kick doing less damage, the gap between Chi Burst and Chi Wave goes down to around 14% AP every 30 seconds which may be low enough that we go back to Chi Wave in order to help us keep our Mastery benefit on all our abilities. Lastly, Spinning Crane Kick then does slightly more damage per cast than Blackout Kick, so we would alternate them during Serenity, but not enough to use Spinning Crane Kick in single target outside of Serenity.
Obviously Windwalker will need some damage to compensate for the loss of, what has become, a HUGE source of damage, but since we’re currently at -27% for Windwalker Monk, I think we have some room to go up without being crazy strong.
I am concerned that because of this drastic change to what many people credit with being THE reason they love Windwalker, that the spec population will lose all of the ground it gained by being so strong in Antorus.