Its been awhile since there’s been anything to talk about when it comes to Windwalkers in Shadowlands. With the Stream “Reveal” the other day, we finally have a bit more things to talk about. So lets get to discussing.
You may, or may not, be aware, ToD got changed back to its pre-Gale Burst version of being mostly an execute toward the end of the fight. In its place, Xuen was changed to be baseline for Windwalkers.
What you may not have known, because its still remained untested and went without any fanfare, is that a little bit ago, Blizzard added a Rank 2 modifier to Xuen in the form of Xuen Rank 2. This basically takes the Gale Burst mechanic away from ToD and puts it on Xuen.
We can make some assumptions about this without it being totally testable. “Strikes targets within 8 yards of you” will almost certainly split damage, although one could hope it doesnt and its just fantastically strong and overpowered. You’ll get 3 “Gale Burst” because Xuen lasts for 24 seconds, giving time for one explosion at 8s, another at 16s, and a final one before he despawns at 24s.
A big thing we don’t know is how it will interact with Storm, Earth, and Fire. We can assume it works the same way that ToD does, with 30% going into the burst rather than 10%, but you can never quite trust how things work with Storm, Earth, and Fire the first time.
From a gameplay standpoint, this is likely a net positive gain for Windwalkers as it gives us the same burst, just 3x as much in the same cooldown window. Its not going to be a zero-sum gain, as things will be balanced to include its damage. The other concerns with Xuen remain in its stat scaling, but if we’re trading the “Burst” aspect from ToD to Xuen and having it hit 3x, it should put a little bit less emphasis on maximizing that small window and more to maximizing those 25 seconds.
My biggest problem with this is that because Storm, Earth, and Fire lasts 15s and Serenity only 12, you’ll have to pay attention to which two of the three explosions will get to be the biggest, so rather than ToD‘s 8s being the biggest burst, it will be the 15 or 12 of the other cooldowns. Its a minor problem, but the differences in cooldown and buff length will make it a little less clean than it could be.
Here’s a list of all the Conduits currently known, although none are testable as of the moment that this article is written; https://www.wowhead.com/news=316776/shadowlands-alpha-soulbind-and-conduit-changes-for-mage-monk-warrior
Here are the ones that are relevant to Windwalkers:
Bone Marrow Hops Bonedust Brew’s Shadow damage or healing is increased by 20%, and when Bonedust Brew deals Shadow damage or healing, it reduces its cooldown by 0.5 sec.
- Pretty standard DPS increase. Due to the strength of Fallen Order, any help that the other Covenant abilities can get is good for balancing.
Calculated Strikes Spinning Crane Kick’s bonus from striking a unique target with Tiger Palm, Blackout Kick, or Rising Sun Kick is increased by an additional 10%.
- Its kind of weird way of writing it, but a pretty standard increase to our AOE DPS abilities, should be very strong in AOE situations where SCK is used often.
Coordinated Offensive When Storm, Earth, and Fire spirits fixate on the same target, they deal 10%% additional damage. Original Source: Minorly inspired by the Windwalker artifact trait Spiritual Focus from Legion.
- This one is interesting as it doesn’t say that your damage is increased, so its hard to say whether this takes SEF from a 35% damage increase into a 55% or a 65% damage increase. Either way, this should be very strong.
- Should be pretty decent in PvP and helpful when soloing targets out in the world.
Fortifying Ingredients Fortifying Brew grants you a shield equal to 5% of your health for 15 sec.
- Standard defensive bonus. What is interesting is that this may throw off the ability to use Fort Brew with Touch of Karma for additional Karma damage. This isn’t a bad thing, but if this is the solution to preventing that interaction, there are better options.
Grounding Breath When casting Vivify on yourself, its heal is increased by 10%, and it has a chance to refund its cost.
- Can’t have a problem with more self-healing for times when you need it.
Harm Denial Expel Harm’s healing is increased by 20%.
- Same as above, more self-healing is rarely bad.
Imbued Reflections Fallen Order monks deal 20% more damage and healing.
- This is already an incredibly powerful Covenant ability compared to the others, so giving it more damage seems excessive, but given Windwalker’s struggles in Battle for Azeroth, I won’t fault any way to get more damage.
- Standard DPS increase, and will feel much needed after playing so long with Open Palm Strikes.
Lingering Numbness When Paralysis ends, your target’s movement speed is reduced by 60% for 5 sec.
- Its already hard to get away from a Windwalker, what’s a little bit more.
Strike with Clarity Weapons of Order’s duration is increased by 5 sec, and the Mastery bonus is increased by 5%.
- This is my least favorite Covenant ability, and longer duration and more Mastery won’t fix that. Its a good buff, but the problem isn’t with those numbers.
Swift Transference Transcendence: Transfer increases your movement speed by 10%.
- Generally if you’re using Transcendence, you need to get to or away from, something quickly, so this helps even more.
Tumbling Technique Blackout Kick has a 5% chance to grant a charge of Roll.
- More Rolls are good Rolls
Way of the Fae Faeline Stomp deals 10% additional damage per target, up to a maximum of 50% additional damage.
- Should be a very strong increase in AOE situations to an ability that is absolutely gorgeous and can be very strong in AOE already.
Xuen’s Bond Abilities that activate Combo Strikes reduce the cooldown of Invoke Xuen, the White Tiger by 0.5 sec, and Xuen’s damage is increased by 10%.
- This is probably the most interesting out of all of them since, as I said above, Xuen is a big part of our damage now, so more Xuen is good Xuen. A rough, no math at all, estimate would be that this could/should take off at least 15s off of Xuen every minute, turning him from a 2 minute CD into a 1:45-1:30 CD and making it MUCH easier to line up with SEF. This one is, at least from my initial thoughts, miles ahead of most of the rest.
Finally we got some information on what the legendary “runeforged powers” will be for Windwalker and, to some surprise, they are just about exactly what we’ve asked for.
Xuen’s Battlegear When Fists of Fury ends, the critical strike chance of Rising Sun Kick is increased by 30% for 5 sec. Rising Sun Kick critical strikes reduce the cooldown of Fists of Fury by 1.5 sec. Original Source: T20 Windwalker 2p + 4pc Xuen’s Battlegear
- If you’ve been following many of my posts, you’ll see that this is one of the things that I’ve been calling the most to be added back to the kit. Although its the nerfed version that we had at the end of Tomb of Sargeras, something is better than nothing. This should feel great with the play of Windwalker and be a strong all-purpose legendary, assuming they’re all tuned within reason.
Rushing Tiger Palm Tiger Palm now has a 10 yard range, and increases your critical strike chance for 25% for 6 sec on the target. When used, you instantly dash to the target. The increased critical strike effect cannot occur more than once every 30 sec per target.
- This is a super interesting legendary thats likely to be incredibly fun since it gives us a very small charge and help our burst at the start of the fight a little bit. Its unlikely that it will be the strongest legendary, but I could definitely see it being the most used for questing and other stuff where the charge will be fun to have.
Pressure Release Whenever you deal damage to a target with Fists of Fury, you gain a stack of Chi Energy up to a maximum of 20 stacks. Using
Expel Harm Spinning Crane Kick will cause the energy to detonate in a Chi Explosion, dealing (40% of Attack power) damage to all enemies within 8 yards. The damage is increased by 5% for each stack of Chi Energy.
- So, its not quite Chi Explosion, but its called that mostly to appease the masses. There are a few questions like whether or not hitting 5 targets will give you 5 stacks, or whether it gives you one stack per target, or one stack per damage tick per target, we just don’t know. Either way, its likely that this will be a SUPER strong legendary for sustained AOE. **NOTE** I did forget to add this first, but after putting it in, the developers decided that rather than it triggering from Expel Harm, it would trigger from Spinning Crane Kick.
The Emperor’s Capacitor Chi spenders increase the damage of your next Crackling Jade Lightning by 100% and reduce its cost by 5%, stacking up to 20 times. Original Source: Legion Legendary The Emperor’s Capacitor
- Back by popular demand, my 3rd least favorite Windwalker mechanic in history (behind damaging Chi Torpedo at #2 and Highmaul PvP 2pc Roll for more damage at #1). Its not that I hated the legendary or the fact that it included CJL into the rotation, I hated how we couldn’t move during it and how it filled the rotation and left no downtime, but I’ve always been in the minority with that thinking. In a vacuum, and with the slower pace at the start of the expansion, this will certainly be an incredibly strong single target legendary. It would be nice if we could move while casting it, but its an inconvenience rather than breaking anything. Realistically it just increases the skill ceiling since there will be times that you may have less than 20 stacks but have a break in your rotation so you want to use it now rather than clutter things a few seconds later.
Overall, looking at them, we have one legendary thats more general purpose, strong in single and multi-target: Xuen’s Battlegear; one that’s mostly pure AOE focused: Pressure Release; one thats purely single target focused: The Emperor’s Capacitor; and one thats fun utility: Rushing Tiger Palm. I am happy with the balance of these legendaries, so now it all comes down to acquiring them and how to switch between them, as well as how well their numbers are balanced.
There are still things that need improvement for Windwalker, we’re not out of the woods yet, but this is a great sign that they do listen when we speak, even if we don’t see the results as quickly or in the way that we want.