For anyone who wasn’t paying attention, on Friday Ion engaged in an AMA on Reddit. Many people were able to submit a question, including me. Because it was, by a landslide, the most frequent complaint or question that we had in Discord, my question was about Touch of Karma.
Are defensives like Touch of Karma and Shield of Vengeance intended to be a major part of a specs damage? For example, it’s easy to find Windwalker raid parses of a variety of skill levels where Touch of Karma is 10-15% or more of their overall damage.
Do you think that’s healthy for the game?
Are there plans to address this?
And I was lucky enough to have my question answered:
No, we don’t think that’s healthy. It’s a similar situation to the gameplay AMS used to yield for Death Knights. Defensives with a backlash component are an interesting space to explore, but when your “defensive” gameplay turns into actively seeking out sources of damage, that’s pretty degenerate.
So that we have official acknowledgement of a problem we’ve been having, the next step is to explore solutions.
I talked about this in my last article where I looked at how Windwalker’s performed relative to other specs, and how much of that damage was from Touch of Karma. The average from the 80 parses of data that I looked at was that Touch of Karma provided around 8.8% of the damage for the top 10 parses on each of the 8 bosses in Uldir. On some parses it provided as much as 15.63% or as low as 2.87% of the overall damage. This is largely because of the power of Good Karma which increases Touch of Karma‘s potential from 50% of our health to 100% of our health.
This took Touch of Karma from a nice, but small, chunk of added damage for using it as a defensive, to a mandatory offensive cooldown that requires you to take damage to get the most out of it. This leads to Windwalkers everywhere standing in mechanics they should be avoiding, not moving out as fast as they should, or even taunting targets away from the tank in order to consistently get the most out of Touch of Karma. Many people felt that this was an unhealthy way to play, and prompted an overly risky playstyle. I’m sure untold hundreds of Windwalker deaths in the past few weeks have been caused by Windwalkers trying to maximize their Touch of Karma damage and underestimating the damage or overestimating the shield.
So the clear solution to Touch of Karma doing too much damage is to reduce its damage. Now the “how” of that has a few options. If Blizzard decides that Touch of Karma does too much damage, but doesn’t want to get rid of the mechanic, they could simply reduce it back to 50% of our health, either by eliminating or changing Good Karma, or perhaps cutting the amount of both of them so that it redirects 50% in total. The more extreme options are to remove the mechanic entirely. Lets explore those options.
Good Karma Changes
When Touch of Karma redirected 50% of our health, like in Legion, it was seen as a very minor problem. One that added some flavor and a way to get a little bit extra damage when you are needing to save your life. Frequently we were recommended to use Touch of Karma as a defensive unless you knew you didn’t need it. With the advent of Good Karma, it became too much of our damage to ignore, and it became as used as any other offensive cooldown, so it makes sense that the easiest way to fix it is to return it to the old way. There are some ways that this can be accomplished:
- Remove Good Karma as a talent and replace it with Dave (Ox), since that is what we had in Legion. Dave has found some very nice niches.
- Remove Good Karma and replace it with a Xuen themed trait. Currently, in that row all three talent specs have RoP and TTS. Brewmasters have Ox and Mistweavers have Song, so it would make sense for Windwalkers to have a utility trait that was themed after our Celestial. If Blizzard wanted to keep it a DPS talent, then perhaps we empower ourselves with the strength of Xuen, so that our single target abilities become AOE abilities for a short period of time, where burst AOE is an area that Windwalkers were formerly strong in, but now much weaker. Another idea mentioned by Sasquatch was that we would get a Xuen themed talent that increased the power and radius of Windwalking, similar to Stampeding Roar.
- Make Good Karma a PvP talent and replace the PvE talent with one of the above.
- Return it to providing a self-heal its Artifact Trait form from Legion (trait). This would give us an additional self-heal, something that we’re lacking in Battle for Azeroth, and further its defensive usefulness.
- Have it increase Touch of Karma‘s absorb, but not the damage. The best way to do this would be to cap the absorb at 100% of our health, but cap the damage out at 50%. If the damage was simply half of the health absorbed, which would seem simpler, this would create a situation where Windwalkers are forced to continue the same dangerous playstyle, but for even less reward.
Touch of Karma Changes
Another option beyond changing the Good Karma talent is to rework Touch of Karma entirely. It has been a spell that Windwalkers have had since the beginning, so it would be a shame to see it go, but that is simply an option. Here are some ways it can be changed:
- Remove the damage portion entirely. This could allow Good Karma to add the damage portion back, while adding 50% to the absorb, so that the end result is 100% absorb and 50% damage redirection. Without Good Karma talented, it would merely be a decent baseline defensive cooldown. The damage out portion could also be replaced with the healing DoT from Legion, so that you could absorb 50% of your health and then heal back 100% of the damage taken over time, this would make it an incredibly strong defensive ability for sustained damage. Good Karma could also then simply double the effectiveness of the baseline spell.
- Cut the damage portion down to a smaller value, then Good Karma can add to that amount, but still lower than currently.
- Work purely off of spell damage, so that tanking a boss and taking melees won’t be a problem anymore.
- Continue to put the DoT on the target but explode for all remaining damage at the end of the the duration, so that any damage not absorbed will be dealt.
- Absorb damage, but not redirect it, and THEN explode for any shield left. So if the shield is up to 100% of your health and you take 75% in damage, it absorbs that, and the remaining 25% explodes back to the target.
- Have the cooldown reduced by the amount left. If only 50% of the shield is used, then the cooldown comes back 50% faster. If 25% used, then it comes back 75% faster.
When I decided to put this together, I asked a few well known, knowledgeable, and logical Windwalkers to provide some ideas. Kuya went a little bit overboard and provided me with over a dozen ideas, even going so far as to give his ideas names. So rather than sprinkle his in, he gets his own section. What follows is all his:
Change Touch of Karma the effect to a self absorb shield for 50% of your maximum HP that lasts 8 seconds and when the shield expires you gain a HoT effect that heals you for 25% of the damage taken while the shield was active over 8 seconds. Reasoning here is because of the scaling changes being able to deal a % of your max HP as damage is always going to be strong that even if they do remove Good Karma there is still a slight chance you will want to utilize the “Good Karma” playstyle to increase your throughput but now it would put you at a greater risk.
Replace Good Karma with another utility talent, Few ideas here:
- Heavy Handed Strikes – Your Fists of Fury now applies Disable
- Paralyzing Reach – Paralysis gains 20 yds range (for a total of 40 yds) and no longer costs energy.
- One With The Wind – Windwalking no longer applies to allies but instead increases your movement speed by an additional 25% (total of 40%).
- Xuen’s Guidance – Windwalking increases movement speed by an additional 5% and its range is increased to 20 yds (currently 10 yards)
- Mass Paralysis – Paralysis now applies to enemies within 5 yards of your target as well.
- Neverending Paralysis – Paralysis no longer has a cooldown or a target limit.
- Summon White Tiger Statue – Summons a White Tiger Statue at the target location for 15 min, granting allies within 15 yards your Windwalking effect.
- Force of Spirit – Crackling Jade Lightning now has a 100% chance to knock your target and nearby enemies back and no longer costs energy but also no longer does damage and has a 40 second cooldown.
- a) Windwalk – Windwalking now also has an active effect with a 3 min cooldown which increases the range and effect of Windwalking by 300% for 8 seconds. (Ends up being 30 yards and 30% move speed)
- b) Windwalk – You shroud yourself in mist temporarily making yourself stealthed for 3 seconds and increasing your movement speed by 60%. Windwalk ends when you take or deal damage. 45 sec cooldown.
Replace the Good Karma talent with a whole brand new idea that utilizes Karma but for your group, its a work in progress but i like to call it: Ring of Karma
This causes Touch of Karma to no longer deal damage but affects an area for 8 seconds, when your allies stand in the Ring of Karma 50% of all damage taken by them is redirected to you. To counteract this somewhat when you cast Ring of Karma you gain an absorb shield for 100% of your health. 3 min cooldown.
I thought many of these ideas were good, or at least good starting points with some numbers tweaking. I’m especially fond of Summon White Tiger Statue, since Windwalkers have been asking for a Xuen totem since their inception, if not before.
So it should go without saying, but I’m still going to say it, as I wrote in the last article, right now Windwalker’s damage is somewhat heavily dependent on the contribution. Based on the numbers I looked at, the average Touch of Karma did around 8.8% of the Windwalker’s total damage, but can easily be upwards of 10% or 15%. That is not a negligible amount, and without it, Windwalkers fall toward the bottom, if not out of, the average range. Because of this, something would have to be done about our damage so that we don’t plummet.
The “easy” thing would be to apply this damage into our Windwalker Aura. If the Effect #1 and #2 were to be changed from -27% to -15%, this would offset Windwalker’s damage loss, although slightly higher wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world and would help Windwalkers stay strong as our damage isn’t likely to scale quite as well as many other specs.
Other things that would be nice would be for some of that damage to be rolled specifically into Rising Sun Kick to boost our single target damage, Spinning Crane Kick to boost the painfully low AOE damage from it closer to previous Legion levels, and/or Fists of Fury to eliminate or lessen the Swift Roundhouse trait’s effect on our playstyle.
Other things that many people may not consider when discussing these ideas is that currently Touch of Karma and Good Karma do more than just provide us with damage. They are also a HUGE reason why Versatility is our strongest stat, as it is the only secondary stat that benefits both Touch of Karma and Touch of Death. This was changed toward the middle of Legion as Windwalkers were the only spec that did not have 100% benefit from Versatility. Without Touch of Karma damage, or less of it, we’d value Versatility less, and its likely that other stats would pass it sooner, whereas currently it takes quite a lot for Versatility to be less desirable than Mastery or Critical Strike.
They also have an effect on our primary stats, as neither Touch of Karma nor Touch of Death benefit from Agility, but do benefit from Stamina, another fabulous uniqueness of Windwalkers. This leads us to get much less out of Agility than many other Agility specs, and the benefit from Stamina has never quite made up for the loss. By reducing the damage contribution from Touch of Karma, we’d see a larger % of our overall damage benefit from Agility, bringing us closer in line with other specs.
There is also the case of the Azerite Trait, Strength of Spirit which, for Mistweavers and Brewmasters give them a ticking heal while Fortifying Brew is active. Although this heal is incredibly low, it is a similar mechanic to some of the above suggestions.
Some of the above suggestions would also hurt Windwalker’s survival tools, although others would help, or at least modify it. Many of these suggestions would also have an effect on PvP, so consideration needs to be made there so that PvP does not suffer.
Overall, I think many, if not all, of the above suggestions would be a decided improvement to the health and playstyle of Windwalkers, so as long as there is adequate compensation and consideration of the consequences that reach beyond the current issue, then I think positive change is possible.