Yeah… you like that clickbait title!?! Take that Facebook articles!!
DISCLAIMER BECAUSE PEOPLE DON”T KNOW WHAT OPINIONS MEAN: I need to get this off of my chest in a more public way, and its my website, so I don’t have to care if you like this article or not. My streams where I get angry and snarky get 10x-50x the viewers that my normal streams get, so fuck you, you brought this upon yourselves you degenerate drama-mongers. Don’t like it? Support the websites and streams that aren’t just for shock value and actually provide valuable information, not just meme-y twitch-chat buzzwords.
I love Windwalker. I have devoted thousands of hours into playing Windwalker, writing about Windwalker, theorycrafting about Windwalker, talking about Windwalker, teaching about Windwalker, and thinking about Windwalker. Windwalker is my side-hustle, years ago the money I get out of the game passed the money that I have put into it. Windwalker is sometimes a job, sometimes a hobby, and sometimes an obsession. I don’t mean to drive people away from the spec; as by-the-numbers, the Windwalker population has gone up due to the complaints that I am going to rant about. This is merely why I’m not enjoying Windwalker as much as I want to and why I’ve put more time into my Feral Druid than I have into any alt in the last few years short of the DH I swapped to for a few months.
I also don’t give a flying fart about Mythic+ or PvP. I’m sorry, but they’re a means to an end for me when it comes to raiding
So one of the things that I’ve written about plenty has been the history of Windwalker and all the changes that have happened. I have written at least 6 articles in the last three years that discussed some aspect of Windwalker’s problematic past, whether its the prevalence of changes, the problems with SEF, the constant threat of scaling, or how Havoc DH had an effect on the Windwalker population, was basically Windwalker 2.0, or are different in some of the worst ways. And that doesn’t include the ones I’ve written in years past that are archived.
Windwalkers have seen some of the highest heights for the some of the shortest times, like Antorus, and some of the lowest lows for some of the longest times, like most of Battle for Azeroth. Windwalkers have seen some of the fastest rates of changes for some things, like fixing Swift Roundhouse a day after I posted about it, and fixing Grong Core cheese, but also some of the slowest rates of changes for others, like saying we’ll get an update “next week” then taking 28 days.
Sometimes its been a very exhausting spec to write for and care about. Other times its exciting. Sometimes its both. But eventually that stuff gets pretty tiresome and boring, when I feel like anything I write about will change the second I write about it if its a good thing, and stay forever no matter how much I do, if its bad.
Now we get down to the reason that I’m writing this article. I absolutely, positively, fucking loathe the existence of the “AOE-Niche” and how far into that ridiculous rabbit hole Windwalker has fallen. In 9.0, Windwalker was very good at AOE damage on a fight like Stone Legion Generals, and decent at single target damage on a fight like Hungering Destroyer. Then 9.0.5 came and Windwalker stayed pretty good at Stone Legion Generals, but became pretty bad at Hungering Destroyer. So then Sanctum comes out and Windwalker becomes OMGWTFBBQOPAF on AOE fights like Soulrender Dormazain, but stays pretty bad at single target like Guardian of the First Ones. Things are a little better now that you can go to Kyrian for more single target damage, but it still doesn’t look great.
So this is where my feathers get ruffled; being good at AOE damage is fine, being great at AOE damage is even better, but both of those are awful if you do crap single target damage. Windwalkers have shined like a supernova on Soulrender this tier, and may shine just as bright, if not brighter, on Xymox next tier. But at some point it may get to the level of Windwalker’s single target damage being so behind that it doesn’t matter how strong their AOE damage is. Raiding is ultimately about kill bosses, and killing bosses almost always means doing damage to said boss. On occasion there will be multiple bosses to AOE, but currently Windwalker’s “niche” is to kill everything else so that the rest of the raid team can kill the boss. Its great to be useful, but anyone who has killed Soulrender or Painsmith knows that as soon as progression is over, its a mad dash to beat everyone else out in AOE damage.
This is what I loathe, this is what’s pushing me away from the spec more and more every passing week. Admittedly, my distain for this style of competitive damage made me stop caring almost immediately, but my highest overall DPS parse on Soulrender remains my first kill, when everyone was told not to touch the adds, but focus on the boss because I’d take care of them. After that kill, even if we told people not to, they couldn’t resist AOEing just a little bit more, which eats into my damage potential. My 2nd highest kill was an alt run we did where I brought my Monk because I had played my druid in main raid and, again, everyone was told to just focus boss so that I could handle adds, even though they clearly didn’t.
I believe that this damage distribution leads to nothing but toxicity. Players are forced to hope that their teammates fail, or do worse, so that they can do better. It takes any semblance of “team” out of the situation and becomes a winner take all fight. Whoever is slightly faster, plays slightly riskier, or sacrifices a little bit more elsewhere, can get the edge in an AOE situation like Soulrender or Painsmith or Fatescribe. And when a spec like Windwalker has to sacrifice a large portion of its single target in order to do maximum AOE, if you’re slightly slower, don’t play as risky, or don’t sacrifice elsewhere, then not only do you do shit for ST, but all your AOE gets stolen. So then you resent your teammates that little bit, you hope next week the comp doesn’t have them in it, or they’re running chains, or hit by a spike wall, all so you can parse better on the colored bars. This is only exaggerated in a spec like Windwalker that has to do some setting up for your AOE where other specs don’t.
This isn’t the same as Mythic+, or even a fight like Sylvanas, where everyone is fighting the boss at the same time and everyone is fighting the mobs at the same time. This is a zero-sum situation where you have to choose between being great at what you’re great at or being OK at what you’re bad at, except you can choose to be great at what you’re great at and have that greatness stolen by someone else.
This is why I don’t care about my overall damage on fights. Its why I held boss DPS in P1 of Sylvanas for weeks and just focused on arrows, its why I switched to single target setups as soon as I could. I don’t want to have to hope that my guild-mates do poorly so I could do well, I want to focus on what can do to make them succeed better. As of writing this, I’m the #6 Windwalker in the world for boss damage in Sanctum, #3 in the US. THAT is what was important to me. THAT is what I could look at and say “this shows I was playing better” rather than “this shows that others were playing worse.” My success is their success, and their success is my success. If they do enough AOE damage, they get their good ranks, and it means that I can better ignore the adds and focus on getting my timings right, my rotation more flawless, and making less mistakes. Boss damage is how I can see that I’m improving, rather than just hoping that I play better AND others play worse.
But it doesn’t feel great to have to focus on what my spec is crap at. My best Guardian parse was still #7 on my team that day, including being behind fucking Grayhound who got a 43rd percentile for Assassination Rogues. I’d love to be able to aim to maximize what my spec shines at, rather than have to “settle” for what I can control and what doesn’t make me want to kill my meatball raid-mates.
So… what’s a Babs article without solutions that will likely never happen? Basically my opinion boils down to this:
For anyone who doesn’t know how a Punnett square works, educate yourself you uncultured swine.
- If your spec is great at both ST and AOE, you’re getting stacked, you’re getting swapped to, you’re getting the FotM, and the loves.
- If your spec is great at ST and terrible at AOE then you are still valuable, since bosses still need to die and bosses still take ST damage.
- If your spec is terrible at ST but great at AOE, you’re playing Windwalker right now and need to engage in some toxic shit to be successful, slowly ruining your humanity.
- If your spec is terrible at both ST and AOE, wtf are you doing playing that spec? Or you’re playing a Windwalker in the latter 75% of Battle for Azeroth and just hang on there a little bit longer, it gets better.
A few months ago I asked on Twitter if people would prefer the spec they play be the Best at ST and worst at AOE, Best at AOE and Worst at ST, or Perfectly average at both. The majority said Perfectly Average at both, at 46.6%, but the runner up was Best at ST, Worst at AOE at 31.8% over the opposite view with 21.6%. I personally expected it to be different, expecting most people to want to be better at AOE damage since those are the bigger numbers, but people surprised me. So, the obvious answer is that FotM rerollers don’t follow me on Twitter, because I’ve never heard of someone rerolling to a spec because it was really great at boss damage despite being crap at AOE, but I’ve seen plenty of times where the opposite is true.
The obvious solution is to buff Windwalker’s ST damage. A spec can be great at AOE and good at ST, a spec can be great at ST and good at AOE, a spec can be great at ST and bad at AOE, but a spec really can’t be great at AOE and bad at ST as it just leads to bad choices, its the gateway damage distribution.
However, my solution has been to level and gear up a Feral Druid, because if any spec knows about being great at ST damage and bad at AOE, its Feral Druids. Feral’s been fun for me; its slower than WW, it does shit AOE so I don’t have to worry about what’s going on outside of the boss, and it does really strong boss damage and has historically. I probably should have looked more into Assassination Rogues, but we’ve long had a rule about playing “all the specs” of your class’s role, so while I can get away with not playing Boomkin most of the time, I couldn’t really get away with ONLY playing Assassination if it were ever to fall behind Subtlety or Outlaw. At least with Feral I can dig my heels in to being a melee.
So that’s my plan right now, and may change at any moment. If Windwalker gets some nice single target buffs, I’ll probably stick with it, but that seems like a big IF. I’m not sure I care if those ST buffs come in the form of numbers, legendaries, tier sets, or (preferably) talent changes, but they pretty much have to come if I am going to stick with Windwalker for the time being and not just go with Feral and become the boss damage focused DPS I’ve always been meant to be.
So not quite the angry article I expected, and no less long than my normal ones. Just had to get it off my chest. Now fuck off, I’m going to bed.