Last night Blizzard announced some class changes, one of which affects Windwalkers:
Blackout Kick damage reduced by 27%.
If you’ve been keeping up with the recent articles I’ve written, then you’ve seen me be quite passionate about some of the issues that Windwalkers were facing in terms of the rotation. You’ve also seen that many of these problems could be traced back to Blackout Kick being too strong. Well it looks like Blizzard heard our cries, and they may have done it better than I suggested since I suggested roughly a 33% nerf to Blackout Kick damage, but this seems to have gotten the job done for less.
What This Means
Before stats, but after buffs, armor reduction and the like, Blackout Kick had previously done roughly 71% AP. This was a problem when it was compared to Rising Sun Kick that did 120% AP, which lead to Blackout Kick being used more and Rising Sun Kick being used less, so much so that using 2 Blackout Kick back to back was still better than using 1 Rising Sun Kick in some situations. This felt very alien to many people who had learned Windwalker the other way, with Rising Sun Kick being HUGE and Blackout Kick just being a filler spell/chi dump.
With this change, Blackout Kick goes down to 52% AP, which puts it safely behind Rising Sun Kick in damage per chi, before factoring in the cooldown that it provides to Rising Sun Kick and Fists of Fury. Once you include that cooldown, they’re roughly equal to each other, with Rising Sun Kick being 120% AP per 2 Chi and Blackout Kick being 118%.
Because we’ll go back to casting Rising Sun Kick pretty much on cooldown, this means we’ll go back to paying more attention to our Mastery. With more Rising Sun Kick and less Blackout Kick there will also be slightly more downtime so it will be slightly easier to plan out resources and when to Blackout Kick and when not.
This means we’re back to trying never to break Mastery and will give a slight boost to Mastery’s weight, but not enough to change the stat priority.
Previously, you may have read, that Chi Burst was the default choice for everything, regardless of number of targets, and that this was, again, because of Blackout Kick being too strong. With Blackout Kick nerfed a bit, this shakes things up again.
With Chi Burst doing 36.22% AP per cast, plus 1 Chi generated by hitting one target, which translates into anther Blackout Kick, thats a total of 102% AP every 30 seconds after the CDR provided by Blackout Kick is considered. Chi Wave, on the other hand, does 44.72% AP, for a total of 89.44% AP every 30 seconds. This is close enough that you can really go with either option, as having Chi Wave to help weave more Blackout Kick into the rotation more often is often worth such a small AP difference.
Spinning Crane Kick
Extra: FotWT v EE
***UPDATED*** Someone pointed out that I forgot to add damage for 2 Fist of the White Tiger, and only take the damage that Fist of the White Tiger would do over the Tiger Palm that it replaces. I also can assume at least 10% Mastery, since thats the base.
What was brought up to me, as I hadn’t considered it, is that this change also effects how we evaluated Fist of the White Tiger vs Energizing Elixir. Previously, we would look at the damage by Fist of the White Tiger and add it to the Chi it generates, and compare that to the Chi that Energizing Elixir generates. The best way to do this was to translate all that Chi into Blackout Kick damage. With the nerf to Blackout Kick, the damage provided by the Chi for both talents, is slightly less than it previously was, so they have to be reassessed.
Previously if Blackout Kick did roughly 85% AP after considering the CDR, Energizing Elixir generates roughly 4.4 Chi per minute, for a total of 374% AP. Compare this to Fist of the White Tiger which provides 2.8 Chi per minute or 238% AP, plus the 47% AP that Fist of the White Tiger deals more than the Tiger Palm it would replace, for a total of 332% AP per minute.
Now that Blackout Kick does roughly 59% AP per Chi, Energizing Elixir‘s total goes down to 259.6% AP and Fist of the White Tiger down to 259.2% AP. This is much closer than previously, and several factors help push Fist of the White Tiger over the top: more Haste means more waste for Energizing Elixir, Fist of the White Tiger benefits from Mastery, Vers, and Crit, Fist of the White Tiger benefiting from Mastery means that it helps you weave Blackout Kick in, similar to how Chi Wave can be more useful even at a slight, mathematical, DPS loss, and other factors
Extra: Hit Combo
With the fact that we’re going to be following our Mastery again, Hit Combo will be a little bit better, and its a question that we’ve already gotten several times. It was already proving to be slightly better than originally though, as Invoke Xuen, the White Tiger wasn’t as big a chunk of our damage with the crazy Touch of Karma damage. With the Touch of Karma damage going down a bit at 120 without legendaries, Invoke Xuen, the White Tiger will go back to being a larger % of our damage than it is now, but Hit Combo will also affect more % of our damage since it didn’t affect Touch of Karma.
This means that although Invoke Xuen, the White Tiger will likely still be the recommendation for Single Target, Hit Combo is a somewhat reasonable alternative for sustained damage, where Invoke Xuen, the White Tiger is more focused on Burst.
But Babs, MY DEEPS
Yes, currently we haven’t seen any buffs to compensate for this damage loss, as this change to Blackout Kick equates to (very) roughly a 3-4% damage loss. That doesn’t mean that compensation buffs aren’t coming, but its possible that they aren’t needed quite yet.
Right now the best indicator, even with all its caveats, is our SimulationCraft DPS rankings. On that, at the time of writing this article, Windwalker is #3 overall behind Retribution and Assassination. While there are a dozen reasons why this isn’t 100% accurate, most notably that it assumes 100% usage of Touch of Karma, its just the best prediction for 120 we have right now. If you take away even the high end of 5% damage, Windwalker falls to 8th overall. Since these colored bars are what drive many people’s opinions of classes, hopefully it shows that Windwalker may not NEED a buff to stay “viable” and that its unlikely to be “complete garbage” despite what people on the forums may say.
If we look at current data using WarcraftLogs, we can see that when looking at the 75th percentile for all Mythic bosses during the Prepatch, Windwalker has “fallen” down to 5th. If we, once again, take away 5% damage, Windwalker drops down to 10th, or mostly right in the middle. This, again, shows that although its never fun to lose damage, the data we have right now shows that Windwalker should still be completely viable and competitive.
There will certainly be more changes to classes over the next few weeks, but this is where it stands now.
Now the Final Boss
Over the last few weeks, the problem that has popped up as the real killer for Windwalkers is the amount of damage that Touch of Karma does, which is pretty much entirely because of the new Good Karma talent. This talent took using Touch of Karma as a fun way to get a little bit extra damage, and nearly turned it into a requirement. This brings up a plethora of complicating factors and issues, that Kuya very adequately outlined in his article The Good Karma Problem. Because of the large chunk of damage that you can get from it, the spec needs to be balanced with some % usage in mind, and if you can go over that % you will over perform, and if you can’t reach that %, you’ll under perform. Our abilities to deal maximum damage shouldn’t depend on our ability to take damage that should otherwise kill us, or taunt the boss to get 100% usage out of it.
This is the next crusade that Windwalkers need to rally behind, as the affect it can have on our spec and how we compete against other specs can have HUGE and far reaching consequences, and is just not a fun gameplay style to do consistently.
My suggestion is to just bring Dave (summon ox) back, and let that Utility row of talents stay 100% Utility.