Yes. Its a yurt… its a round house… get it?
So recently now that the dust has started to settle on Azerite traits, people are able to start looking for potential ways to get the most out of them. The one that has popped up after some testing and theorycrafting by Slappa, is Swift Roundhouse. The past few days, several people have helped to get some information out of the potential for Swift Roundhouse in order to answer the questions that we know will come.
UPDATE (8/24): Blizzard nerfed the trait less than 24 hours after this article was written. All of the info in this article and the main guide has been updated.
UPDATE (9/17): It has just been announced that Swift Roundhouse was to be nerfed by 55% on the weekly reset. The playstyle is dead and the rest of this article is irrelevant.
What is Happening
When you have a Swift Roundhouse trait, using Blackout Kick gives you a stack that increased the damage of your next Rising Sun Kick, up to two stacks. What Slappa noticed was that because of how strong the trait was, and how high the damage was that it added to Rising Sun Kick, in pure single target situations once you had two traits of Swift Roundhouse, you could gain damage by using Serenity and using Fists of Fury only at the end of Serenity.
By using Fists of Fury so much less, you can have enough resources to use Rising Sun Kick with two stacks of Swift Roundhouse and be able to use Blackout Kick twice between each Rising Sun Kick to get to those stacks.
Why it’s Happening
Currently, outside of burst windows, like Serenity, we prioritize our abilities by the damage they do per the Chi they cost. When considering making this change, the damage that each stack of Swift Roundhouse provides to Rising Sun Kick can be added to the damage per Chi of Blackout Kick since that’s where the cost is. Once you do this, having two traits in Swift Roundhouse push the damage per Chi of Blackout Kick higher than Fists of Fury, meaning that you would prioritize using Blackout Kick to get Swift Roundhouse stacks over using Fists of Fury.
This becomes an even bigger deal since last night we determined how/why Swift Roundhouse was doing more damage than was on the tooltip. Basically the tooltip damage of Swift Roundhouse gets added to Rising Sun Kick before all the modifiers that increase and decrease Rising Sun Kick‘s damage. This was updated to SimCraft and we saw Swift Roundhouse‘s damage and value skyrocket in all situations.
What it Means
This means that the ideal build for single target will be to use Serenity with 3 Swift Roundhouse traits. When you have 2 or 3 traits, you’d aim to switch to Serenity for single target. When you’ve done so, you will only use Fists of Fury at the end of Serenity, when it’s free, or as a Chi dump. You will always aim to use Blackout Kick twice between each Rising Sun Kick, without dropping Mastery and always use Rising Sun Kick as close to on cooldown as possible. With either 2 or 3 traits, you can use Fists of Fury to dump excess Chi instead. This also means that you won’t want to break Mastery unless it will directly get you another cast of Rising Sun Kick. You’d also want to always enter Serenity with 2 stacks of Swift Roundhouse with your first ability after Serenity being Rising Sun Kick.
An example sequence between Serenitys will look like this: Tiger Palm > Blackout Kick > Tiger Palm > Blackout Kick > Rising Sun Kick > Repeat. As you can see this has exactly as much Chi going in as it has coming out and it doesn’t include any other abilities. However, you don’t generate enough energy to be able to use two Tiger Palm every 7 seconds or so, thats where other talents like Fist of the White Tiger, Energizing Elixir, or Chi Burst come into play. They help to fill in the gaps so that you have the Chi when you need it. It does result in a slight resource surplus in the long run, which is why you use Fists of Fury occasionally to dump the excess Chi. It’s best if you plan slightly ahead so that using Fists of Fury between two casts of Rising Sun Kick, while also getting two stacks of Swift Roundhouse before your second cast, delays that second cast of Rising Sun Kick for as little time as possible.
I can already predict the questions that we’re going to get, so I think its easier to just write them out this way and maybe update if others pop up.
1. What other talents do I take?
This is largely less important since the bulk of the damage comes from Rising Sun Kick. Chi Burst provides a little bit of extra Chi that you may need at times to keep things going, but Chi Wave gives you an extra button to not worry about breaking Mastery, Invoke Xuen, the White Tiger will continue to be best for single target. Fist of the White Tiger or Energizing Elixir will be very close, Energizing Elixir provides a little bit more resources, but Fist of the White Tiger will provide another button to help keep up Mastery. If you’re going to use Serenity, you do not want to use Hit Combo since the rotation inside Serenity is that of Blackout Kick > Blackout Kick > Rising Sun Kick. General recommendations would be to take Chi Burst, Fist of the White Tiger, and Invoke Xuen, the White Tiger
Yes, currently Swift Roundhouse is the highest simming trait and has no real loss of benefit with more traits. Because of how strong it is, its still best the best trait even with Whirling Dragon Punch.
3. Do I follow the “FoF-less” priority with Whirling Dragon Punch?
4. What about multi-target?
The benefit of the “FoF-less” priority is mostly restricted to single target. Regardless of if you have 2 or 3 Swift Roundhouse traits, you will start using Fists of Fury normally again on 2 targets. Likewise, regardless of if you have 2 or 3 Swift Roundhouse traits, you will start using Spinning Crane Kick at 4 targets or more once you have 4 stacks of Mark of the Crane. Note that if using a Blackout Kick instead will get you an extra cast of Fists of Fury, you would do that instead.
5. Should I be dropping ilevel to get Swift Roundhouse traits?
The short answer is, sim it. The long answer is that it depends on what traits you have. For example, if you’re comparing a 340 item with Swift Roundhouse to a 385 with Dagger in the Back, it’s possible that the 385 will be better, since Dagger is a strong trait. If you’re comparing a 340 item with Swift Roundhouse to a 385 with a poor trait, then its almost certain that the 340 will be best. It’s recommended to item restore anything with Swift Roundhouse traits, and then just sim the combinations through Raidbots.
6. How should I open?
7. What do I do inside Serenity?
No, any Swift Roundhouse stack that’s generated will just go toward the following Rising Sun Kick. If you played WW in Legion, then its a similar philosophy to Transfer the Power. You should have no problem having two stacks for each. The only time this may feel like an issue is when you are using Fists of Fury to dump Chi between two casts of Rising Sun Kick. As long as getting the second stack of Swift Roundhouse doesn’t delay Rising Sun Kick for any significant amount of time, you would aim to get the second stack.
You can, but overcapping Swift Roundhouse stacks wastes the gain that you get from the “FoF-less” priority. You shouldn’t have to anyways, since you should be dumping excess Chi with Fists of Fury. Just be sure to continue to use Rising Sun Kick as close to on cooldown as you can.
10. Should I be breaking Mastery outside of Serenity?
Generally, no. Breaking Mastery lessens the gap between using Fists of Fury and “FoF-less” and makes it less worthwhile, but if breaking Mastery to dump Chi with Blackout Kick will directly grant you an extra cast of Rising Sun Kick, it is worth it. You still want to do it as little as possible.
11. How much more/less damage is following the “FoF-less” priority compared to the normal priority?
If you have only two Swift Roundhouse traits, going “FoF-less” is a slight DPS increase. Once you have three traits then going “FoF-less” is a noticeably larger increase. How much of a change will depend on your character, so a general number can’t really be given.
12. Where do I get Swift Roundhouse traits?
The spell page for the trait, on WoWHead, shows the gear that is available with that trait: Swift Roundhouse
13. Does this mean I can use a 2H weapon?
Sure, as long as you are OK with doing less damage. The damage formulas give 2H a penalty for Windwalkers, so even when not casting Fists of Fury at all, it’s quite a lot better to use 1H weapons.
14. Do you have a WeakAura to track SR?
The playstyle is ssslllloooowww. Although the amount of buttons you press technically goes up, since you’re trading many Fists of Fury casts for 3 casts of Blackout Kick, you’re trading 4 seconds of dealing damage through Fists of Fury for 3 seconds of dealing damage through Blackout Kick. So most people will feel that this playstyle is very very slow. My opinion of enjoying slower playstyles is well documented, so I really enjoyed playing with it when I tried it out.
(Written before the nerf on 8/24): This build is incredibly strong. Windwalker is already simming toward, or at, the top of the SimCraft rankings, after we made the change to the profile using Swift Roundhouse. With the further improvements to the profile, as well as changing the APL to use the “FoF-less” Serenity priority when Swift Roundhouse, it may push Windwalker to silly heights when compared to other specs in the stacked SimCraft lists. This, by itself may justify Swift Roundhouse being nerfed since its so far ahead of all the other options, even without the change in playstyle.
It was pretty clear that dropping Rising Sun Kick from the rotation when Blackout Kick was too strong was almost certainly against Blizzard’s design philosophy. It’s equally clear that dropping Fists of Fury from much of the priority will likely also not be consistent with whatever their design philosophy is for Windwalkers. This means that they may nerf Swift Roundhouse damage so that its not a possibility, or so that its only a possibility with 3 Swift Roundhouse traits, creating a smaller, more niche playstyle.
The last potential issue is the availability of items with Swift Roundhouse traits. In Uldir there is only 1 piece with an Swift Roundhouse trait: Cowl of Dark Portents. This means that to get the trait at a high item level, you need to hope for a high item level Azerite piece from your M+ weekly cache. If you add in the fact that we will almost certainly want to use at least one trait that enables Reorigination Array, that limits the maximum Swift Roundhouse traits to 2, or less if we want to stack Reorigination Array, making this playstyle potentially not relevant in Uldir based on current assumptions.
As you can see, this new possibility may boost our single target damage to absurd heights. Its a very simple playstyle but does require more planning that it may seem like it would at first. It is restricted to single target, but not to talents, even though Serenity benefits more from it than Whirling Dragon Punch. There’s lots more possibilities including ones involving Rushing Jade Wind, Ascension, or Spiritual Focus. Initial theorycrafting is that those options are not as strong, but there may be more weirdness that we haven’t found yet.