So now that Warlocks, Death Knights, Mages, and Shaman saw a post from Blizzard about some changes coming to them in Shadowlands, I figured now is as good a time as ever to toss out my ideas for how to improve Windwalker. I’ll start by identifying the problem then my solution to fix it. These are a smidge more realistic and less “pie-in-the-sky” than my ideas from last year.
Problem: Touch of Karma
Although it may not seem like it, Touch of Karma is actually a HUGE problem for Windwalker and has been for a long time. Beyond the fact that it promotes a “degenerate playstyle” where you have to use your defensive abilities for offensive gain, which will be getting worse in Shadowlands with Fortifying Brew coming back, its always been one of the biggest barriers that Windwalker has had to good scaling. Because it only scales with Stamina and Versatility, it means that Windwalker doesn’t scale with Agility, Critical Strike, Mastery, or Haste as much as it could. Scaling has been a problem for Windwalkers for years, and Touch of Karma is one contributing factor.
Solution: Good/Bad Karma
I’m starting with this one because its the easiest one. The simple fix is for baseline Touch of Karma to just be a damage absorb. The talent “Good Karma” would then add the healing portion like it does now, and a PvP talent “Bad Karma” could be added so that people can still use it as a deterrent in PvP. Boom! Problem solved.
Problem: Invoke Xuen Scaling
This is one that has really not been a problem historically, but will become a bigger problem in Shadowlands. Similar to Touch of Karma, the problem with Invoke Xuen, the White Tiger is that he contributes to some of the scaling problems that Windwalkers have had in the past. This has, historically, been offset by the fact that we’d just switch to Hit Combo once Invoke Xuen, the White Tiger got out-scaled, but since its becoming baseline in Shadowlands, it will be a slightly bigger problem that could use addressing. For reference, Invoke Xuen, the White Tiger scales with Agility, Critical Strike, and Versatility, and his auto-attacks scale with Haste, but his Tiger Lightning doesn’t, and he doesn’t scale at all with Mastery.
Solution: Fix Scaling
This is another easy solution; just make him scale with all our stats. Currently the Fallen Monks from the Venthyr Covenant ability, scale with all our stats, so then there’s no reason that Invoke Xuen, the White Tiger shouldn’t as well. Even just adding Mastery scaling to his damage would be a BIG step toward minimizing any scaling problems. Historically the reason that he didn’t scale with Mastery was because our Mastery reads “your abilities” and technically Invoke Xuen, the White Tiger‘s attacks aren’t “your abilities” but his. However, HE is one of “your abilities”, so its a grey area that we could use to swing in our favor.
Problems: Hit Combo/Serenity
I lumped these two together because I have a solution for both, even though they both have different problems. Although Hit Combo itself isn’t a problem, its place in the talent tier, and general similarity to our Mastery make it relatively lackluster. It often feels more like a punishment for mistakes than a benefit for playing well. Its “all-or-nothing” mentality just means that one mistake sets you back for several seconds. It doesn’t feel rewarding to use well, it feels punishing to not; and positive reinforcement is better than negative reinforcement.
Serenity saw changes coming in BfA that lead to it never being used due to its difficulty being tuned and the strength and flexibility of Storm, Earth, and Fire with its two charges and access to Whirling Dragon Punch. In order for it to be seen as useful it would need a pretty sizable buff to its damage, or another complete overhaul of how it works. Jfunk theorized that unless it was increased to 50-60% more damage during its duration, it would still not be used.
Solution: Serenity 2.0
So you know how I said that I had an idea to fix both of them? Well I present to you; Serenity 2.0 (really 3.0 or even 4.0 at this point).
Serenity – Every X consecutive abilities that trigger Combo Strikes provides a stack of Serenity. Any ability that is a copy of the previous ability (doesn’t trigger Combo Strikes) will, instead, consume a stack of Serenity, allowing it to still benefit from Combo Strikes. Each stack of Serenity increases all damage by X% per stack, up to X.
So this would, in my opinion, just be best as a baseline, or even an altering of our Mastery. It could be used as a talent, but balancing would be difficult. This would give Serenity a new use, and make Hit Combo less punishing for any little mistakes. A mistake would only cost you the small loss of damage buff until you’re able to get that stack back and repetitive mistakes would cost more stacks than you’d generate in that time, so it would require good play to get the most out of. It would also open up some big brain plays like using Spinning Crane Kick back to back in AOE to use a stack and still get the Mastery bonus, but cost a stack, giving a trade-off for more burst damage now vs less damage as you build up stacks.
I also feel that it would fit thematically as the Windwalker builds up “Serenity” and “Inner Peace” to transcend and become stronger.
I know I already provided one solution for the scaling problems with Invoke Xuen, the White Tiger above, but this takes it one step further and looks to kill another bird with this stone. To add to the scaling problem with Invoke Xuen, the White Tiger, he also has the problem of not being very interactive as a cooldown, you just press him once every few minutes and watch him scratch and claw for some damage, assuming the always fun Pet/Guardian AI has him do what he’s supposed to be doing.
A big problem that has been one for… just about forever…. is Storm, Earth, and Fire. There is a HUGE list of bugs and concerns with this ability. New things, almost without fail, won’t interact correctly with Storm, Earth, and Fire and Blizzard will have to find a fix or workaround. These workarounds have a very high frequency of causing other problems or weird bugs or interactions that can be to our detriment or benefit. They will visually, and sometimes functionally, just stand around and do nothing. The list is long.
Solution: True “Invoke” Xuen
So to try and fix both of these abilities, I propose: Invoke Xuen.
Now, I’ll explain. When I say “Invoke” I really mean the actual definition of “Invoke” (to petition for help or support) rather than the second definition that is closer to “summon”, which is the one we have. When a Windwalker “invokes” the deity Xuen, it would imbue him or her with the White Tiger’s power, augmenting their abilities, so it would look like this:
Invoke Xuen, the White Tiger – Imbues the player with Xuen’s celestial power for X seconds, adding affects to the Windwalker’s abilities:
- Tiger Palm – Ignores X% of the Target’s Armor. (Old TP/Jab debuff)
- Blackout Kick – Deals an additional X damage over time. (Combat Conditioning)
- Rising Sun Kick – Strikes a second time for X% damage (Glory of the Dawn/Tornado Kicks) OR critical strikes reduce the cooldown of Fists of Fury by X seconds (Tomb of Sargeras tier bonus: Item – Monk T20 Windwalker 4P Bonus)
- Fists of Fury – Deals an additional X damage to each target hit (Open Palm Strikes/Crosswinds) OR When Fists of Fury ends, the critical strike chance of Rising Sun Kick is increased by X% for X sec. (Tomb of Sargeras tier bonus: Item – Monk T20 Windwalker 2P Bonus)
- Spinning Crane Kick – Each target hit by Spinning Crane Kick provides one stack of Thunderfist, increasing the damage of one auto-attack for each stack of Thunderfist. (Artifact talent; Thunderfist)
This would become the baseline, main DPS, cooldown for Windwalkers, and could even give us the look from the Tomb of Sargeras set, or somehow more glowy, during its duration. This would also bring back many of the fan-favorite tools that Windwalker has had in the past and worked well. Blizzard would probably have to slap a “increases all damage by X%” to it in order to make it easier to tune, but I think it would be a significant improvement to the Windwalker’s kit over these abilities separately, without the problems that they both introduce.
Problems: Talent Diversity
This is a problem thats been brought up a bunch of times, but Windwalkers don’t really switch up the last two tiers of talents. For both Legion and Battle for Azeroth, Windwalkers used Invoke Xuen, the White Tiger in all situations till you replaced it with Hit Combo in all situations. In Legion we alternated between Whirling Dragon Punch and Serenity, but in Battle for Azeroth its been Whirling Dragon Punch all the way, minus the few weeks of Serenity when we focused all our damage around Swift Roundhouse. Beyond the problems I’ve already addressed above, Rushing Jade Wind just feels absolutely awful to play with, and the damage isn’t anywhere near worth enough to merit being miserable, and Spiritual Focus is just… bad. So here’s a situation where Windwalker has had three choices in each of the two rows, but has only ever used one thing out of each row and never had any nuance or choice to the situation. I have a few solutions
Lv90 Solution: Azerite Traits
The first solution is one that Blizzard has already started; because when they moved Invoke Xuen, the White Tiger off the Talents, they replaced it with Dance of Chi-Ji. To take this further, Hit Combo could be removed, either with an above suggestion, or just removed entirely, and replaced with Fury of Xuen. This would give us one talent that is mainly AOE-focused, with a little bit of single target damage (Dance of Chi-Ji) and a talent that is mainly single target-focused with a little bit of AOE damage (Fury of Xuen). The last spot could be kept as Rushing Jade Wind reverted to one of its previous states where you toggle it on/off, except this time it would reduce your energy regeneration rather than costing energy, to prevent it from turning itself off. This would serve as the pure-AOE-focused talent. Another option would be for Glory of the Dawn to replace Rushing Jade Wind giving a pure-single target-focused talent to round out that row. If tuned well, which wouldn’t be super hard, it would allow Windwalkers to choose their talent based on their content.
Lv100 Solution: Modify “Invoke Xuen”
So beyond getting rid of Spiritual Focus and adding something else, fixing the problem with Whirling Dragon Punch sometimes not being usable, and Serenity being garbage, my solution to fix this tier builds off of my new idea for “Invoke Xuen” above. It should go without saying, but Whirling Dragon Punch would/should be made baseline and that whole talent row redone. So my idea to compliment my above idea is that each talent would modify the new Invoke Xuen:
- Talent 1 – Increases Invoke Xuen’s duration by X seconds for every Chi spent (or ability that triggers Combo Strikes). (Similar to Drinking Horn Cover, allows for longer duration cooldown and enjoyment)
- Talent 2 – Invoke Xuen’s duration is reduced from X seconds to Y seconds, but you gain an additional charge. (Allows for more frequent burst and flexibility)
- Talent 3 – Invoke Xuen summons an avatar of Xuen to fight beside you for the duration of the buff. (Keeps some flavor of having the tiger fight with you while you look all tiger-ey)
These choices, if balanced well, would give you more agency over HOW you do your damage. Talent 1 would allow for longer sustained burst damage, Talent 2 would allow for shorter, but more frequent damage, and Talent 3 would allow for a middle ground of up time where that cooldown window is more intense and it returns the visual of having Xuen fight beside you, and hopefully his damage would scale with all our stats the right way.
I’d like to think that my solutions are magical, but they’re about as magical as they are original. Most of my ideas are just reusing things that worked before. I’m sure there will also be drawbacks or problems with what I’ve suggested, but it’s my website so I can do what I want.
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if only this was a bluepost rather than an article with suggestions #hope
Just a crazy idea for the “invoke Xuen” part; how about using a reskin of the feral druids “Claws of Shivarrah” from WoD, but then Xuen themed.
Very good ideas, monk in BFA feels very dull at the moment…
These ideas sound amazing! How have you not been offered a job at Blizz for class design?
I LOVE the idea of TRULY invoking Xuen, I have wanted that form for it since MOP purely based off the definition of invoke.
In the end I fear nothing will change due to the population of monk players 🙁
I really like those ideas and I think your suggestions are really amazing.
More interaction is always good and I think the modified mastery (with serenity) is pretty good especially in AoE scenarios. But let’s hope they fix our scaling issues atleast.
What I’d personally like to add (also in your alteration) would be a front loaded effect from SEF or Invoke Xuen.
Because right now we’re just chaining 2 damage amplifier GCD’s(Xuen+SEF), so why not add an extra “punch”, like blade flurry is doing now after change.
Invoke Xuen could emit a wave of lightning damaging all enemies around dealing X nature damage or
SEF-clones cast a modified SCK dealing damage to all enemies around you.
I really like the idea to have RJW reduce energy generation. Reducing energy generation as an option might actually help us with one of our other issues (especially with how covenants look): overcapping resources.
I like the mastery-guard idea in your Serenity 2.0. It lead me to a slight variation: what if you build stacks by doing mastery properly, lose a stack if you mess up, and have a CD that gives you a damage boost by consuming all the stacks. Basically, a talent that brings back Tigerseye Brew in a way. Either the damage bonus could scale based on stacks, or the duration could.
Amazing ideas Babs, i was wondering if this article could be put on wowhead or mmo-champion, just like how an article about arcabe mages was put on wowhead today(yesterday?)
The more websites we put it on the better right?
I can ask. Never hurts to ask.
Great additions. I was wondering why would they give us Dance of Chi-Ji in the talent row but not FoX which is clrearly the coolest designed azerite power. Also love the Xuen redesign, I had a similar idea posted on the forums earlier. My idea was to turn into Xuen similar to the Vale buff giving you new abilities for the duration, Invoking should feel powerful and cool. I think most if not all peak users would agree with your ideas.
I think that these adress the functionality problems of Windwalker, but only scratch the surface. If the specialization is to be appealing, I firmly believe Blizzard has to reestablish what WW is supposed to be because it’s became incredibly muddied up and seems to only follow the trend going into Shadowlands.
It has to become a real martial artist and both animations and gameplay have to reflect it. Bok and FoF need a VFX update, badly. A new, flashy attack to replace WDP going baseline on last talent row. Getting rid of excessive summons. Only when people see a compelling class that’s cool and fun will they give it a real try. Even when Windwalker dominated DH in raid performance, the latter was remarkably more popular, which only reinforces the need.
I’ve had similar ideas as you about Invoke Xuen, of course I’d also like to see it as a pet. Blizzards reason for not doing that is stupid as well “You cant have the celestial as a pet”, We’re not summoning the celestial himself, we’re summoning an avatar of Xuen’s power. My original celestial thought before they made it baseline was make that row the Celestial row. Give all monk specs the option to pick between Niuzao, Chi-Ji, or Xuen. That could also give some raid utility.
What I thought about them doing is making WDP baseline, making SEF a passive that triggers when there is more than one mob in melee range of the monk, cause you don’t go multiform just for one enemy. Make Serenity our DPS cd and then make the last row augment Serenity. Spiritual Focus reduces it’s cd to burst more often, Gale Burst to increase it’s damage, for the life of me, I can’t remember what my third talent idea was though.
I think these are all great ideas, but there is one thing that SEF does and True Invoke doesn’t – applying multiple Marks of the Crane. I know that you don’t really like them, but if you don’t suggest to scrap them in your design I believe that part of SEF should be reintroduced somewhere, e. g. “during True Invoke TP, BoK and RSK apply Mark of the Crane in the cone infront of you” or maybe SEF could stay without its dmg component and without CD and GCD just so we could use it in AOE to apply MotC stacks.
I think the biggest problem is touch of (bad) karma – i love your solution. Def CD’s should never be an offensive CD’s (or the other around).
The other solutions are also nice to have – and would improve our gameplay greatly.
Another point, which should be adressed is our lack of Chi Spenders. We need an answer for excess resources.
Maybe bring back Chi Explosion – depleting our current chi and dealing dmg per chi spent – simple solution but another Button to press.
Another idea i have. Blackout Kick – Combo. BOK can be used up to 3 times consecutively without breaking our Mastery (I’m imagining these kungfu masters with their leg high up doing several kicks on the same target). 1st BOK 1Chi/1*Dmg -> 2 nd BOK 2Chi/2*DMG -> 3rd BOK 3Chi/3*DMG. This has some kung fu flavour, works with serenity and finally solves our problem of having to many resources, without a way to spend them ( worst feeling!)
The only negative is that we might be gcd-capped if we reach a certain point of haste – but well its an improvement anyways.
I especially love the talent row suggestions. Between the Legion artifact and the Azerite traits, there is really no shortage of really useful enhancements that could be used for better talents. Plus they always talk about wanting us to make choices; that lvl90 row is full of excellent choices that require some thoughtful selection.
Hi, I love how you composed this article and justified your thoughts.
To offer a bit of perspective though I couldn’t feel further away from your mindset towards Negative reinforcement and punishing mechanics that you mentioned with Hit Combo.
The Mastery: Combo Strikes and Hit Combo mechanics were a big reason why I rolled Monk in the first place and feel like it really builds a large disparity between those who wish to apply themselves and those who don’t.
I since returning for the end of BFA to prep for Shadowlands I gotta say I miss how interactive the Monk Class played in Legion, especially with different legendaries allowing you to change spec.
I LOVED the old “The Wind Blows” / “The Emperor’s Capacitor” / “Drinking Horn Cover” items and how they facilitated the Serenity builds being optimal for certain bosses.
I really enjoyed playing around Serenity instead of the WDP rotation and hope they find new and creative ways to influence monk rotations, great stuff and I look forward to hearing your future thoughts 🙂
You misunderstand. There’s no problem with the Mastery. It’s far and away the best one that WW has had. However Hit Combo is just lazy design that adds punishment for mistakes rather than rewards for good play.
Sounds like they are done with overhauls and aren’t getting most of these… literal sad panda. “Your Lv90 Solution: Azerite Traits” is on point! I also really want a tiger statue… All the other monks get em, it is WW’s turn!
The think the change I would like to see the most, is for them to slightly adjust Whirling Dragon Punch. It should not count as a movement penalty. Similar Demon Hunter abilities don’t count, but for some reason this does. The two instances where I notice it the most are Tol Dagor Overseer Korgus (it triggers the heartstopper venom), and Mythic Wrathion. It’s a minor inconvenience, but it feels like you’re being punished for pushing a button that literally makes you stand still and jump.
i know this is an older article, but i would just flat out remove SEF entirely, its never worked and blizzard never seems to get it fixed and ends up making it worse, thematically its cool and works on paper, but it doesnt work in reality. now that ToD is getting reworked back to the MoP variation, we dont really have a big cooldown anymore like Combustion for fire mage or avatar for warrior. Xuen is now our cooldown but its just bad. Serenity filled that spot in legion especially during 6p (rip, never forget, i love you and youll be missed). Along with better scaling, a new cooldown would be nice.
a lot of the talents for WW are just super wonky, besides that we dont use half of them, a lot of them feel like they should be baseline. the entire talent tree needs a rework honestly. Row 1 and 2 are fine as they are, EotT is kinda boring, but so is chi wave. if they plan on keeping good karma, it should be put into the defensive tier and remove inner strength, and give us a new utility spell in its place in T4 of the tree. maybe a raid wide speed increase like windrush totem, or give us march of legion but as a talent and maybe buff Windwalking to 30% over 25%? and the top row, spiritual focus needs to be replaced, that spot is just cursed, first hurricane strikes, then meme orbit, now spiritual focus. WDP is just too good for that row, id make it baseline, and it fills a narrows the gap for inactivity. i really like your play on a Xuen tier. that could replace the entire row. i know that capacitor from legion is now our legendary in SL, but they could change sith lightning to sith chainlighting. Sith lighting is a let down and is just a button to press if youre in a hurry and you cant remember what spell you pressed. i would like capacitor to be talent or have a talent that makes it AoE instead. and the obvious Xuen statue, just have the statue cast xuens lightning on nearby enemies. I would make RJW like rogues blade flurry and throw that in the energy regeneration row. your spells now cleave but your energy regen is reduced. I would put FotWT in the 90 row in its place.
i know ive said a lot and it prolly wouldnt pan out or is super weird, but leave row 1 and 2 alone, move FotWT into 90 and put a blade flurry varient of RJW in its spot. move good karma to 75 in place of inner strength and give us a speed utility in its place, 90 remove hit combo and give us a sith lightning talent, possibly capacitor from legion and give us a different legendary in SL. and then your xuen row for 100.
We are in the beta though, so a lot of it its way too late and blizzard is way to far in to make changes with the current balance, maybe during a patch 9.2 or something.
Awesome ideas Babs, I especially like the idea of having Xuen as an effect on you and your abilities. This ability could be a HUUUGE aesthetic opportunity and would be a “feel good” button that could also let us explore some of the really interesting previous interactions monks used to have. For example, the first tiger palm after activating this Xuen Super Saiyan mode could act like strike of the windlord from Legion, FoF could have the mini-stun back in the form of random lightning shocks and i love the idea of combat conditioning coming back (I’m not sure if its in SL or not but I don’t think so…), even roll could have its cool down reduced and leave behind lighting after teleporting a short distance.
I like the idea of monks having movement and positioning as a component of their game play, this could be for damage just as much utility. Think combat conditioning or how paralysis used to operate. Being in front or behind could add choice that doesn’t add button bloat but adds interactivity.
Anyways, love your stuff, keep it up!
The idea of this article really coincides with me, especially the problems of 90/100 talent and the current situation of Serenity.
I’m more looking forward to seeing changes in the existing mechanism. In BFA, almost all of WW is stacking versatility for PVE. I think that’s not normal or reasonable for a DPS spec, which means we might had not an excellent system of the spec and had to stack a 2rd stat which could increase damage simply. Of course, there is a good turn beginning what the Crackling Tiger Lightning is affected by haste now.
Some time ago, during the BoK’s bug was not fixed, my friends and I once thought that the WW could gain more chi, and an ability would be designed, what was costing 3 or more chi, less cooldown, and at the same level as FoF. I thought it would be making the WW’s playing more interesting, optional, and more links with the other mechanism. It might make the spec easier to balance and not limited to the existing core cycle. It also could response that blue text told us ”more updates”. But it didn’t happen. It won’t happen now.
My friends have some other ideas. Combo skills! They thought the Hit Combo of the WW, even our Mastery should be a rewarding mechanism rather than a punitive mechanism. For example: using the combination of ToP->RSK, what can we gain crit, haste, or other stats? Also be causing another physical damage? And using 2 times of BoK continuously, we can get a buff called “Kicked”, the next attack will stun the target or interrupt it casting? And so on, we can get combo skills through a series of combination skills. That would be funny. Actually, this requires lots of design and balancing works in the short time, and obviously Blz cannot give monks so many resources. After all, time is limited from the SL release, it is difficult to make more major changes on this spec limited at the time.
Now I’m looking forward to get these updates at the last time to make the WW better:
1, Fix a lot of, especially SEF bugs, so that the balance testing of the WW could be back on track.
2, Adjust the WW’s 100-level talent. After the Serenity been nerfed in Legion, we had to defaultly select Whirling Dragon Punch. And the other two talents seem to be forgotten. Spiritual Focus and Serenity becomes furnish. The Serenity is because of weakness, and Spiritual Focus is that there couldn’t build a meaningful or effective cycle. Its effect is even weaker than the Vision of Perfection’s minor power. I hope this level’s talents could be updated. E.g. the Whirling Dragon Punch could become a WW’s specialized skill of liking FoF, such as I said above. Or buff back the Serenity to make it more competitive. The WW really need an effective and true ultimate skill, not a joke just like stupid SEF.