We got quite a lot of new stuff on the Alpha today, and while none of it are direct class changes, its all new information, or confirmation of information, for Covenants and Torghast. Before I go on, and I hope that people take the time to read this small comment, but a HUGE amount of what I’ve been able to do through Alpha so far has been with the help of others, and specifically one person who goes by “Mik” in the Monk discord. They have been a HUGE help in getting questions answered before I had Alpha and often answered questions before they were asked. Lots of the work that’s been done so far couldn’t have been possible without Mik’s help, so I felt it appropriate to publicly acknowledge that.
Blizzard updated their Covenant abilities page with some minor changes to wording to help affirm what to expect from these Covenant abilities. You can find my previous thoughts on the Covenant abilities in my article on the subject, for this article I’ll focus on the changes and what they mean beyond my initial impressions.
For a short duration, your Mastery is increased by a percentage. In addition:
Nothing has changed here, I haven’t found a way to use this on the Alpha without it feeling awful.
Opens a mirror for 24 seconds summoning reflections of your order’s Fallen Ox, Crane, and Tiger adepts every 1 second for 6 seconds. Adepts associated with your specialization will fight for a longer duration and cast additional abilities.
This ability wasn’t something we had a lot of information about how it worked, and even after playing with it, and getting logs of testing it, there were some things that we weren’t sure of. The first thing that is apparent is that it previously summoned every 3 seconds, and is now listed to summon a new Adept every 1 second, which would be a HUGE boost to an ability that is already absolutely SILLY overpowered compared to other Covenant abilities, and really anything else in the game for Monks. Its likely safe to assume that either the summon number wasn’t actually cut from 3 to 1 seconds, or the damage that each individual Adept does will be decreased accordingly; this falls under the “wait and see” category, so I’m not super concerned about the balancing aspect of it.
What we did learn in this change of language and through Alpha testing was how the Adepts functioned once they were summoned. Some of the questions that we had answered were;
- The Adept that gets summoned is seemingly random. Through the logs and tests previously there wasn’t a ton of visible logic to what gets summoned. This could lead to wild swings in power, but on average won’t be as big of a deal, even less if the strength of this Covenant ability is brought more under control.
- All the Adepts scale with ALL our stats INCLUDING MASTERY!!! This is an unspeakably HUGE THING!! I can’t fully express into words how big of a deal it is for me that it works like this. Hopefully, it is something that they can copy over to Xuen to help address some of the scaling concerns that Windwalkers have always faced, and currently will continue to without changes. The idea and ability is there, it just comes down to them making the right choice.
- Where the original tooltip had the Tiger Adepts casting Fists of Fury, log testing confirmed that they will also cast Spinning Crane Kick after Fists of Fury is over, which is a nice added bonus and likely what Blizzard means when they say, “and cast additional abilities.”
- All Adepts have the ability to cast the ability of their “style”, so there aren’t any Tiger Adepts that can’t cast Fists of Fury and Spinning Crane Kick, which allays a concern that I had going into this.
This still seems like it will be the strongest Covenant ability that we have available to us, and functionally the least awful to play with and use.
Hurl a brew created from the bones of your enemies at the ground, coating all targets struck for 10 seconds. Your abilities have an additional 15% chance to affect the target a second time with 25% effectiveness as either Shadow damage or healing. Windwalker: Spinning Crane Kick refunds 1 Chi when striking enemies affected by Bonedust Brew.
This is the next ability on the Torghast rotation, so we’ll be able to test it tomorrow to see more about how it works. The questions that we still need answered are whether the Chi refund is just 1 per Spinning Crane Kick or 1 per target hit. Its most likely that it will be the former, but you never know until you test.
Strike the ground fiercely to expose a faeline for 30 seconds, dealing Nature damage and taking an action based on your specialization. Your abilities have a 10% chance of resetting the cooldown of Faeline Stomp while fighting on a faeline. Windwalker: Rip Chi and Energy Spheres out of enemies along the faeline.
This Covenant ability is one that is testable today in Torghast, so we’ll be able to have some feedback on how it feels to use. My biggest concern continues to be it just being another mechanic that gives us back resources that are hard to use, whether because it will be hard to see and control the influx of resources during a raid fight, or because Windwalker just isn’t equipped to use spontaneously generated resources. What I can say, at least, is that the ability looks gorgeous, as you can see below.
Because of the reset component of it, you can also have more than one line out and about. Mik took this picture after doing 4 Stomps in less than 20 seconds, since the effect has a 30s duration.
Torghast Anima Powers
The next thing we finally got information on today was a list of the Anima powers that will be available to Windwalkers through Torghast. While there aren’t ones that are quite as “silly” as a few other classes, there are absolutely a few that I am excited to get to play with, which I hopefully will when I have some time to hop on Alpha after this article is finished
36 Pressure Points Touch of Death cooldown reduced by 36.
Amplified Samples Tiger Palm damage applies an additional stack of Mystic Touch for 3 sec.
Bad Karma Provoke casts Touch of Karma.
Balance of the Ox While in combat, your spells and abilities increase damage and healing by 20% for 6 sec, but reduce your movement speed by 20%, stacking up to 5 times. Your movement abilities allow you to move freely for 6 sec.
Caught by the Dropkicks Interrupting spells and abilities by any means increases the damage you deal to the target by 50%, and they deal 15% less damage for 30 sec.
Celestial Dynasty Windwalker: The duration of Invoke Xuen, the White Tiger is increased by 50%, and is summoned the first time you enter combat on a floor.
Constellations **NOTE** Although this doesn’t currently have a tooltip, OUR HERO Mik come through and pointed out that it allows you to summon another Celestial, so you can summon
Corrosive Dosage Vivify leaves a corrosive mist around targets it heals, dealing 50% of its healing as Nature damage to nearby enemies each second for 1 sec.
Crane Style Crane Style increases your Mastery and Versatility by the total of your Critical Strike and Haste.
Fatal Flying Guillotine Touch of Death strikes up to 4 additional nearby $Ltarget;targets.
Feathers of a Hundred Flocks Spinning Crane Kick radius and damage increased by 25%.
Flowing like the Chi Chi Wave is cast on all enemies you roll through.
Hit Scheme Dealing damage with Blackout Kick increases the damage of your next Keg Smash, Rising Sun Kick, or Fists of Fury by 25%, stacking up to 4 times.
Katamawri Rolling over Maw Rat corpses and broken Ashen Phylacteries reduces damage taken by 2%. for 30 sec, stacking up to 100 times.
Roll Out Roll has 1 additional charge.
Rolling Tigers Roll casts Tiger’s Lust on all nearby targets. (Includes yourself)
Rushing Tiger Strikes Tiger Palm range increased by 5 yds, and deals damage 1 additional time. **NOTE** Mik’s testing on the Alpha showed that this isn’t what the power does at all, it seems to rush you forward to your target from 5 yards away. You can see through this GIF. It also stacks, meaning that you’ll be able to rush from 5/10/15/20/etc yards away (GIF)
Shadowboxing Blackout Kick damage increased by 50% and strikes an additional 2 $ltarget;targets.
Storm with No Warning Breaking an Ashen Phylactery increases your movement speed by 2% and Spinning Crane Kick damage by 2% for 20 sec, stacking up to 100 times.
Stroke of Elegance Cooldowns are reduced by 30 sec., to a minimum of 30 sec.
Sweep the Leg Leg Sweep cooldown reduced by 5 sec.
Tiger Style Tiger Style increases your Critical Strike and Haste by the total of your Mastery and Versatility.
Triumph Touch of Death damage increases Fortifying Brew by an additional 5% maximum health while in Torghast.
So lots of these powers have some pretty clear functions that will increase your damage.
- Bad Karma – Allows you to use Touch of Karma every 8 seconds, which should make you VERY hard to kill.
- Fatal Flying Guillotine – Will just be fun to see and do Touch of Death on 5 targets and probably be a lot of damage.
- Triumph – Will be fun to stack up and seems to be somewhat of a playful way for Blizzard to acknowledge the problem the fact that people will, inevitably, use Fortifying Brew before Touch of Death for added damage bonus. Not quite the acknowledgement that I was hoping for, but something is better than nothing I guess.
- 36 Pressure Points – Should be very strong, specially since you can grab more than one rank of this over time.
- Balance of the Ox – Will feel like taking the Leaden Foot from Horrific Visions, making it a little bit more voluntary, and slapping a HUGE damage boost component on it. Its certainly going to be one of those powers that will likely be a BIG trap for many people, but its potential is quite there.
- Stroke of Elegance – Can be just bananas with Storm, Earth, and Fire, Touch of Death, and Touch of Karma having 30s cooldowns.
- Storm with No Warning – The concept of having a Spinning Crane Kick that does 200% more damage plus a talent (Dance of Chi-Ji) that does another 200% more damage, plus another 50% from Mark of the Crane is just hilarious to me. On the Alpha, Dance of Chi-Ji is incredibly overpowered compared to other talents, because there hasn’t been any talent balancing yet, so adding another 200% on top of that will be crazy. I can’t imagine you’ll get up to 100 stacks super easily, its theoretically possible, and combine that with 200% increased movement speed will make you seem like a Tiger Palm/Spinning Crane Kick tornado.
- The Tiger vs The Crane – This will be an interesting one for Windwalker, since we have some variation between what abilities scale with which stat. For example, if you’re damaging things normally, you’ll probably not care a ton about which one you have, it will depend more on the stats you have. But if you are about to use Touch of Karma or Touch of Death then you’ll definitely want to have whatever gives you the most Versatility and Mastery. Its also very reminiscent of Rune of ReOrigination, which is something that many Windwalkers from that time remember very fondly.
- Celestial Dynasty – Having multiple Xuens up at once is my visual highlight of this expansion. So now you’re telling me that I can have Xuen up for 50% longer AND get an extra one at the start of each floor?!?! AND you’re telling me that this could stack?!?! I can’t imagine I’ll be taking any other power thats available if this is one of the choices. I don’t care if its the strongest or not, if I can have a full pride of Xuens backing me up then SIGN ME UP!
Just Fun Powers
Although some of these deal damage, they’re clearly there for the flavor, visual, or just fun of what they can do;
- Rolling Tigers – Now we all go fast!! ZOOOOM!!!
- Rushing Tiger Strikes – I have advocated for Windwalkers being more “wind” based and attacking from range for years, and the thought that my character is slapping the opponent from many yards away is just fantastic. However, given that it currently works like a charge, I have no problem being able to charge on seemingly little to no cooldown.
- Corrosive Dosage – If you’re going to be healing yourself anyway, might as well do some damage too.
- Flowing like the Chi – Rolling through a group of enemies and seeing an orb bounce between them all seems fun. I have long hated the original Chi Torpedo style of doing damage through movement, but the visual of all the bouncing orbs should be enough to win me over.
- Rushing Tiger Strikes – If this continues to work the way that Mik found on Alpha then it will be a lot of fun to zoom around to all the targets.
Should Be Baseline
Its pretty clear that some of these abilities are fun, fit the fantasy, and are just things that we want, so here are a few of the things that I think are directly what I want, or are it the spirit of things that I want.
- Shadowboxing IS JUST GOING TO MAKE US HAVE TO FIGURE OUT NEW BREAKPOINTS YUDODISBLIZZARD!?!?! But seriously having Blackout Kick do AOE damage, and replace Spinning Crane Kick should be an improvement to the class overall.
- Caught by the Dropkicks – This is the kind of reward for doing mechanics that I think Demon Hunter has (albeit to a MUCH lesser degree than this power) that I think should be more widespread in the game.
- Rolling Tigers – Windwalkers have the “utility” of the Windwalker aura that is both useful and completely forgotten and ignored. Having Tiger’s Lust be an AOE like Stampeding Roar would be a nice bonus to Windwalker-specific “utility”. Just make a PvP talent that changes it from an AOE to a single target ability that removes snares so its not too OP.
- Hit Scheme – Windwalker has been at its best in the past when it had interplay between our abilities. I understand that more damage isn’t super engaging, but its a little confused but it got the spirit.
- Rushing Tiger Strikes – I’m gonna say it, and I may regret it, but having Tiger Palm be a small dash/charge will let us do what our Storm, Earth, and Fire spirits do when they bounce around to targets. It doesn’t have to be much, but a 10 yard range that pulls you into melee range would be a really nice thing to have. But I don’t PvP, where I don’t think Windwalkers need to have more movement abilities.
The potential for silly combinations of these abilities is pretty clear, here are some combos that I could think of. Obviously some of these combinations will be very difficult to get since some powers are more rare than others. There are a ton of powers that will work off each other, specially with multiple stacks of any of them.
- Touch of Death has quite a few traits that affect for some real silliness; 36 Pressure Points, Fatal Flying Guillotine, and Triumph directly. Add in the cooldown reduction from Stroke of Elegance and you could be pumping out a lot of Touch of Death on to a lot of targets in a short time, finishing mobs off constantly.
- Feathers of a Hundred Flocks + Storm with No Warning + Dance of Chi-Ji = SPINNING TORNADO OF DEATH
- There are lots of abilities that work off of, or benefit from Roll that should allow for some real silliness; Flowing like the Chi, Katamawri, Roll Out, and things like Rolling Tigers and The Tiger vs The Crane will give a lot of flavor and fun to Rolling all over the place.
- Lets go out on a limb and hope that Celestial Dynasty will combine with Constellations and allow you to have an army of celestials following you around. I don’t even care that Dave and Crack Bird won’t do a ton of damage, some things are worth the visuals.
I hope its clear how excited I am for this new in the game. Mythic Plus isn’t really my thing, and I love me some roguelike games throughout the years. I haven’t been this excited for a new game mechanic since Garrisons in Warlords of Draenor. The fun and silliness that can come with Torghast as well as opportunity for Blizzard to revisit old bosses through the lore, or just add more fun and goofy powers, just have me very very excited.
There are still a lot of things I don’t know yet about Torghast that could easily ruin my impression of it; like how long it takes, how required it is, or can you eventually leave and come back. But there are also other things that could be done with this in the future, like a competitive or time-based difficulty as a “solo M+” type thing for peoples to compete with just to fill their time, that would have me even more excited about it all. Although I am known for my general optimism of Blizzard’s choices, I am hoping that my optimism is not misplaced when it comes to Torghast.
I’m sure there will be an article in the not-too-distant future that is more focused on the problems that I still forsee with Windwalkers and what I feel NEEDS to be fixed, but for now I’m enjoying the glow of a brilliant bit of new content.