Disclaimer: Comparisons done between talents were done using Raidbots Patchwerk 5 Min and Patchwerk 6 Targets 5 Min Sims.
Hey I’m J-Funk and these are my thoughts about the current talent balance situation in patch 8.2 in BfA. I’m going to give general concerns of Windwalker in BfA then I will go over each of the Azerite traits and talents and then give my thoughts on them and then the overall thoughts on each of the talent rows. I have also posted this on the official PTR forums if you prefer to give it a look there instead.
Windwalker has had an increasingly large amount of RNG introduced to the spec via Azerite Traits over the course of Battle for Azeroth. This RNG has diminished the importance of Resource Management within the spec and at times you can absolutely flooded with Chi not having a way to spend/dump since we lost a Chi Spender going into the expansion which wasn’t replaced at all. Our Azerite traits are some of the most dull passive damage increases with little to no gameplay interaction. In 8.1 there were some redesigned/new Azerite traits but every single one of them was a RNG proc that is somewhat out of our control. All of these Azerite traits further support a Storm, Earth and Fire playstyle which leaves Serenity behind. This causes problems because everytime something new is introduced for Windwalker it is inevitably bugged for months and will not work with Storm, Earth and Fire which will cause me and many other Windwalker players to support bug report after bug report. There needs to be something done to the spec as right now while it is popular in the MDI many top Windwalker players find the spec much more boring with little to zero choice amongst Azerite traits and talents. While these changes may not be the spec redefining ones that many are looking for since you have already previously stated you are not willing to major class changes, a tuning of the talents and another look at the Azerite traits would help make the spec more enjoyable as it has been in the past.
Open Palm Strikes: By far Windwalker’s strongest Azerite trait this came about in Uldir when the damage was buffed by 60%. This is mainly taken for the damage and the Chi refund portion is mainly an afterthought.
Pressure Point: Desperately could do with a redesign. It only increases the chance to make a Blackout Kick free by 2% and getting a free Blackout Kick is not even remotely important to Windwalker making this trait incredibly boring and just a passive damage increase.
Fury of Xuen: This is one of the best 1 point wonder traits in the game. Changes were made to this prior to Battle of Dazar’alor’s release but it made it even more RNG and didn’t diminish the value of only one point. I would suggest increasing it to 2% per stack (for a total of 50 stacks) and reducing the duration that the haste and Xuen are provided for. Maybe if this is done the amount of haste provided should be increased to compensate.
Dance of Chi-Ji: Makes Windwalker AoE far too swingy and proc based. You essentially get to relive the glory of Legion WW one proc at at time which is not a good thing. The damage provided by the proc should be reduced and Mark of the Crane should be buffed to compensate (10% per target -> 15-20% per target). This would make Windwalker AoE less swingy with this trait while still making this trait valuable for the free portion.
Sunrise Technique: This talent is unfortunately just a small passive damage increase that doesn’t require that much thought and is not strong enough of a tech option for 2-3 target situations to consider. I am afraid it is just flawed by design and should just be replaced with a different option considering we already have another Azerite trait that affects Rising Sun Kick.
Glory of the Dawn: A strong single target one point option. This Azerite trait is enjoyable and while it is RNG I like the extra chi that it provides in a fight. It does not scale well past one point unfortunately and is mainly taken for the Chi it provides on Single Target.
Strength of Spirit: This defensive trait deserves a mention for being unbelievably undertuned compared to generic traits such as Resounding Protection. Needs a significant (50%) buff to compete with those options.
Overall Azerite Trait Thoughts: Pressure Point and Sunrise Technique could really use a full redesign while Dance of Chi-Ji just needs tuning to be done. Windwalker is a spec somewhat known for its cooldowns and I find it strange that we have no Azerite trait that affects Storm, Earth and Fire/Serenity or Touch of Death. Additionally the Azerite traits we have are too focused on generating Chi for us. 3 out of 5 Azerite traits Windwalker has a Chi generating component to it. We need Azerite traits that give us damage and we need some that support a Serenity playstyle. Because so much of our traits generate Chi it diminishes the free Chi spender value of Serenity.
15 Talent Row
Eye of the Tiger: This talent is currently underperforming by about 2% in AoE but what this talent and most of the row suffers from is a lack of gameplay interaction. Strangely this talent does not scale with haste at all. It always lasts 8 seconds (but can be pandemic’d to 10 seconds) and deals damage every 2 seconds for 4 instances of damage. Where the lackluster part of this talent comes into play is you cannot multidot (apply the dot to multiple targets at the same time) with it and it does not interact with your spells otherwise. I think it would be interesting to see the damage and healing this talent does be able to scale with haste and also add another additional effect to the talent that helps save resource such as reducing Tiger Palm cost. These changes would require additional tuning to be done to the talent as this would boost this talent above the others balance wise but Windwalker could use more interesting and gameplay influencing talent decisions.
Chi Wave: This talent could also do with a facelift, currently Chi Wave is 0.7% ahead on single Target fights but falls behind in multi-target situations. This talent is currently very fire-and-forget and could use some more spell interaction and could benefit from some attention like Chi Burst received at the beginning of the expansion. In pure single-target situations Chi Wave does pull ahead the issue is that there isn’t a realistic scenario where there isn’t at some point in a fight more than 1 target to hit with Chi Burst. This is more of a critique on encounter design in BfA but since Chi Wave is so basic and does not have any synergies with current setups it does not have any redeeming factors other than the pure throughput that it provides. Because of this Chi Burst is often taken over it for the extra Chi that you can cheese out on encounters.
Chi Burst: This talent received some additional attention with the BfA changes which resulted in it being the standard talent pick for the expansion. It is very adaptable to whatever situation you are facing and is currently the strongest talent option whenever there is more than one target in an encounter. This situation tends to happen so frequently that Chi Burst is a safe default talent. While Chi Burst is the strongest and most commonly picked talent, what I would like to see is instead is some attention brought to the other talents in this row and for Chi Burst to be left alone. Chi Burst is strong but it is not that significantly stronger than the other talents and really just benefits from having interesting gameplay interactions and synergies whereas the other talents do not have this. The other talents need to be spruced up and having an extra gameplay hook that makes them exciting because currently besides Chi Burst they feel the same as they have felt for 2+ years and that is not a good feeling.
Overall Row Thoughts: Some additional effects or gameplay hooks added to Eye of the Tiger and Chi Wave to more neatly establish niches and ability identity for each of the two talents would do wonders for this row.
45 Talent Row
Ascension: Currently 1% behind the popular talent pick option Fist Of The White Tiger on ST, Ascension has an interesting spot in this talent row because it is the only option that is entirely passive.You cannot make a mistake and mismanage your resource. Ascension is designed to give you more leeway with Chi management. Ascension can be a viable talent option on certain encounters in Battle of Dazar’alor such as Mythic Jaina Proudmoore because of the downtime involved but since it’s entirely passive this option just tends to lag behind Fist of the White Tiger because it does not actually provide with you very much resource but instead allows you pool your resource more effectively. The talent just has tuning issue problems that can be easily solved by increasing the amount of Maximum Energy or Energy Regeneration it provides for it to compete with the other two talents on the row.
Fist of the White Tiger: Currently the strongest talent option in this row, Fist of the White Tiger is good because of the burst resource that it provides you and its incredible ease-of-use. By ease-of-use I mean you replace a Tiger Palm every 30 seconds with Fist of the White Tiger. It is strong in M+ or AoE situations because it allows you immediately ramp your Chi up to 5 with Fist of the White Tiger -> Tiger Palm. Having an extra ability that generates resource and applies Mark of the Crane to a target is invaluable. There isn’t much I’d like to see be done to this talent and I think it is pretty balanced. Fist of the White Tiger should be the power level standard that the rest of the talents in this row are balanced around.
Energizing Elixir: Energizing Elixir recently received tuning changes in patch 8.1.5 but still remains unused. The reason why this is the case is because this talent does not fit well with BfA Windwalker Monk’s design. Energizing Elixir made sense in Legion with Windwalker Monk when you could spend a ton of resource very quickly with Spinning Crane Kick costing 3 Chi and had very little resource generation outside of it. But now Windwalker Monk has an enormous amount of resource generation from Azerite traits and other talents. Unless something is changed where Windwalker can all of a sudden spend more resource for more damage this talent will remain unpicked in this expansion. Another reason this talent is hardly chosen is that it triggers a GCD on use that doesn’t trigger Combo Strikes (Windwalker’s Mastery) which can lead to awkward situations of resource and GCD management. I find it strange that it does trigger a GCD since similar effects such as Tiger’s Fury and Symbols of Death do not trigger a GCD. Unless something is drastically changed with this talent or with Windwalker I do not see this talent ever seeing the light of day.
Overall Row Thoughts: Overall this talent row is pretty closely balanced despite Fist of the White Tiger remaining the most popular option by far. The balance of this talent row really depends on the balance of Windwalker Monk itself and there are many influencing factors outside of this row such as resource generation from other abilities and azerite traits. There should be slight tuning done to even them out.
90 Talent Row
Hit Combo: Hit Combo is a polarizing talent. This is because of how simple yet adaptable to every situation the design is and how frustratingly good it scales over the course of a expansion making it a default pick in the middle to late parts of an expansion. The big problem that many have with this talent is how it doesn’t change your gameplay at all and how boring or basic it can be. This talent can be frustrating to newer players of the spec because of how punishing it can be but for veterans of the spec it is a mind numbingly uninteractive talent. There needs to be a lot of work done to this talent to spice it up and ultimately it should probably be replaced next expansion. Currently it looks like Hit Combo is shaping up to be the best pick in every situation in 8.2 and we are trying to communicate that we do not want this to be the case and would like different choices.
Rushing Jade Wind: The talent Blizzard has never made work for Windwalker. Every iteration of this talent going back to Legion has had its fair share of problems but currently it is 4.7% behind on ST and sims 3% higher than Hit Combo on AoE. But what holds this talent back is not the numbers. It is the design and the talents it is competing against. It is a talent that only gives you damage in AoE in an otherwise generic damage increasing talent row. It always feels like you are sacrificing damage elsewhere and becomes too cumbersome to keep up all the time. It also provides no damage increase on ST where as the other two options do. Rushing Jade Wind could do with a numbers buff and maybe additional functionality that increases its ST viability. Rushing Jade Wind is a boringly designed talent that needs to have fun injected into it somewhere. It has no place in this row and frankly has no place in Windwalker Talents at all as history would has shown us.
Invoke Xuen, the White Tiger: Always starts off as the strongest talent pick in the expansion but because of poor secondary scaling compared to Hit Combo, Xuen gets worse over the course of the expansion. To focus on his poor scaling, Tiger Lightning (the lightning Xuen does) does not scale with haste and always does a set amount of hits. If this was changed to scale with haste we could see a boost to Xuen’s viability. Xuen also does not scale with Windwalker’s mastery at all. All of this adds up to why Xuen gets overcome by Hit Combo as gear increases. A common complaint with Xuen is while he does look cool, he does not interact with Windwalker at all when he is active and ends up unfortunately very much being a fire and forget talent despite being an active button press. I would really like see Xuen’s scaling issues get fixed and maybe have another effect or have him do something when he is summoned.
Overall Row Thoughts: Probably the most boring damage increasing talent row in the entire game could really use way more player interaction and interesting mechanics introduced to the talents. The poor scaling of RJW and Xuen compared to Hit Combo hold them back and ultimately the row just becomes default pick Hit Combo. Which is unfortunate because Hit Combo is just a passive damage increase with no impact on your gameplay whatsoever.
100 Talent Row
Spiritual Focus: The successor to Chi Orbit didn’t have very much to live up to but somehow has fallen even shorter than we could’ve imagined. It is currently 3.9% behind WDP on ST and 6.5% on AoE. This talent could really benefit from an additional effect on the talent itself. Even if the CDR provided by the talent was increased it still wouldn’t affect gameplay enough in a meaningful way. It very much suffers from a catch 22 where you have more Storm, Earth and Fire casts but they are less impactful and exciting because you don’t have Whirling Dragon Punch to use during them. What needs to be done in the long run is making Storm, Earth and Fire a more interesting and gameplay altering ability which may help this talent become stronger as a result.
Whirling Dragon Punch: The go to standard talent option for 2+ years at this point. It sits firmly ahead of the other two talents in the row and has done so since Antorus in Legion. The crux of this talent row is that you are choosing between the Storm, Earth and Fire playstyle and the Serenity playstyle. Whirling Dragon Punch has just been numerically the strongest talent for a while for the Storm, Earth and Fire playstyle because as mentioned earlier the 3rd talent option is usually not viable. This expansion much more support has been given to the SEF playstyle rather than the Serenity playstyle. Now when it comes to tuning I do not think that WDP should be nerfed rather the other two option should be brought up to the level of WDP. Now that will be more difficult to achieve for Serenity because its more than just numbers holding it back. With all this said I think that WDP is a good and well designed talent when it is working properly and it does alter your playstyle enough and should be the standard for Windwalker talent balance and design.
Serenity: This talent is currently behind 4.2% on ST and 13.7% in AoE. Serenity is a victim of the changes made to WW Monk in BfA. With the removal of Strike of the Windlord and the changes made to Spinning Crane Kick and Mark of the Crane has left this talent in an odd place. In addition Serenity itself was changed which increased the duration by 50% but reduced the damage increase by 50% resulting in a 20% damage increase for 12 seconds. The combination of all these factors have made Serenity much weaker than WDP. Serenity lost a lot of its identity in BfA. It was powerful as a burst damage cooldown and it was satisfying to maximize the damage window of 8 seconds with every GCD mattering quite a bit. Nowadays with the loss of Chi Spenders to support it and the increased duration there are situations where you Tiger Palm inside Serenity which to me seems absurd. Serenity should be bumped to a 30% damage increase up from 20% which would improve it greatly on ST but it would still lag behind on AoE quite a bit. This is because SCK is much less impactful to get it for free since it costs 1 less Chi this expansion and it does significantly less damage than it used to. There needs to be additional functionality or synergy given to Serenity to give it some kind of strength in AoE. Even with these changes Serenity still lacks support from the rest of the Windwalker toolkit. Part of the reason Whirling Dragon Punch is so strong is because of the never ending supply of random Chi procs that BfA WW has access to. If we learned anything from Antorus WW is that if you provide it with a lot of free resource then the WDP playstyle just gets stronger. I would like to see strong Chi Spenders added somewhere for WW. Whether that would mean new/changed Azerite Traits or Talents. This would provide the needed support to make Serenity great again.
Overall Row Thoughts: The “playstyle” row that has been dominated by WDP for too long. Serenity needs a lot of love and Spiritual Focus needs to be spiced up conceptually to be interesting.
These are my thoughts on the state of Windwalker going into 8.2 and I hope that we see some of these addressed so that we can all enjoy the spec going forward. Let me know what you think in the comments.