Today we got the first look at the Monk talent trees for Dragonflight, class and spec specific. Unfortunately, at least for you, I am on vacation with my family, so my ability to get in there and test things out is limited. Thankfully, there isn’t much that requires testing right now, because as expected, its all things we’ve seen before. Indeed, much of it were things that I hoped for and put in my own talent tree when I did that exercise a few weeks ago.
Its going to take some time to fully theorycraft the “best” path, and plenty of time for tweaks and balancing remains, so tonight I’ll focus on what we got, how we got it, and just what I think about things.
Monk Class Tree
The only “new” thing is Resonant Fists, which may be functionally useless or a nice bit of extra damage depending on how it works. The fact that it specifies 3 consecutive abilities need to hit at least 3 targets may mean that using Tiger Palm, Blackout Kick, or Rising Sun Kick between will break this trigger. If that is the case then our only options are things like Chi Burst, Spinning Crane Kick, Rushing Jade Wind, Whirling Dragon Punch, Strike of the Windlord, and Fists of Fury used back-to-back-to-back. Given the fact that we’ll almost certainly have 6 Chi all the time, it won’t be impossible to use those abilities that way, but certainly not automatic. Thankfully Shadowboxing Treads is there so that we can use Blackout Kick between Spinning Crane Kick for only 5 chi cost to trigger the buff.
Another concern is that there is a Not Yet Implemented node in the final row that is straddled by two statue abilities, which makes me think that Windwalker may get a statue. While there’s tons of cool things that could come from a statue, having to manage another thing is rarely something I’m excited for. This is further confirmed by a datamined asset that is definitely Xuen as a statue.
Lastly, the class tree is just weird. Needing to get Ring of Peace for Eye of the Tiger, Fort Brew for Expel Harm, and buffing Vivify for access to Chi Burst and Chi Wave just feels a little odd. However, there are enough points to play with that you should be able to get all of them without much stress, so much of that concern is moot. Most of the problem will be in leveling, not in end-game play.
Additionally, the fact that you can talent into Leech, Avoidance, and Movement speed just feel like an odd amount of things for a Monk to be able to provide, especially in a very small range. Its clear that one Monk isn’t intended to bring all three of those things, but it is doable and may even be doable without any damage loss depending on the NYI talent and whether more frequent Touch of Death is something that is beneficial. This is super weird, but also… not terrible…? I’m not sure yet.
When I went through and made a talent tree, I didn’t attempt to make a class one, and I’m glad that I didn’t. However, I think they did a good job with setting up ways to just get a boat load of things.
First, so…. much…. speeeeeeed!! You can have Tiger’s Lust, an extra charge of Roll and either CT or Celerity, plus pick up Flying Serpent Kick from the WW tree. All that together makes one seriously fast Windwalker. Toss in Roll Out and Escape from Reality and you’re nigh unstoppable when it comes to needing to move from things. Escape from Reality alone will allow you to Transcendence out of a mechanic, then immediately back in to where you need to be, cutting out any need to move back to your previous place, as long as you do it within 10 seconds. Instead of using Transcendence to get back to the boss, you’ll use it to get out AND get back. Just don’t be like me and actually remember that Transcendence is an ability you can use, because even after 10 years, I forget to use it sometimes.
After the insane movement potential, the next thing to jump out is the insane survivability. You can have BOTH Dampen Harm and Diffuse Magic!! But more than that, you can have Chi Wave / Chi Burst AND Eye of the Tiger, plus Fort Brew on a reduced CD, Expel Harm for more healing, instant cast and buffed Vivify, PLUS the above mentioned area buffs that increase Leech and Avoidance.
A Windwalker is going to have the potential to be one seriously tanky and fast spec, like really really.
There’s not a ton that I have to hope for from the class tree as I think its pretty straightforward. My biggest hope is that the NYI talent between the MW and BrM statues is something that is fun to use. It could be something similar to Wind Rush Totem or maybe its something that we put at range so that melee can attack it for a short period of time and the statue zaps the boss for the damage, allowing melee to continue to damage when we have to run out. There’s tons of things that it could be, so we’ll just have to wait and see.
So lets get the bad out of the way, because there’s really not much, but there’s always going to be some. The biggest things that jump out to me are things that can very easily get changed and they feel somewhat nit-picky.
Jade Ignition seems like it got lost somewhere along the way as the right side seems to be primarily focused on single target, and yet its an AOE ability. It will also mean that we’ll look to use Spinning Crane Kick every once and awhile in ST and need to track the stacks so we know when to use it. I’d much rather see it switched with where Meridian Strikes is. Even though its only one slot over, it makes it more reachable for AOE and more skippable for ST.
Gale Burst and Empowered Tiger Lightning in the same tree, where you can take both, seems a little weird, but really not that bad as it just gives us what we want, while keeping what Blizzard wants, and there’s undoubtedly going to be something silly, even if just on Alpha, where both buffs work into each other, or cancel each other out. It also begs the question about what Touch of Death we’ll be getting, since Gale Burst doesn’t do anything with the current iteration of Touch of Death and will require the pre-Shadowlands version to really do anything unless they just let it work in the background the whole time.
Getting Faeline Stomp but not Weapons of Order is also an odd choice, but its always possible they get swapped or that Weapons of Order becomes the way that Serenity works. Since we have Invoker’s Delight in the tree, having Weapons of Order and Serenity together would be really cool and work to switch up how the spec plays in its cooldown windows.
The last thing that really jump out at me, that I’ll put as a “concern” rather than a “hope” is that Last Emperor’s Capacitor is locked behind Faeline Stomp, which means that if its the best, you need to add TWO abilities to your rotation and tracking, which just seems excessive when Windwalker already has quite a lot to press.
The first one that everyone will notice is that Strike of the Windlord is BACK!!! Not only that, but (as I hoped) Fist of the White Tiger is replaced by Power Strikes which keep the number of rotation abilities the same for that trade off. Adding Thunderfist right after it in the tree is also brilliant as it helps you focus on ST even when there’s adds there, which is fantastic. The 2-Chi cost is a little different than what we have now, but as I’m about to talk about, that is unlikely to be an issue.
Ascension, Power Strikes, an extra 10 energy AND no Energizing Elixir!!!! To be honest the extra 10 energy is unlikely to be very useful, unless you’re in a fight that you’re capping energy frequently, and even then it should be minor. However, the ability to have 6 Chi and generate a 3rd Chi with Tiger Palm every 15s will be a steady stream of Chi to keep us going. Add to that having things like Open Palm Strikes and there may be a concern that we have too much Chi, but that will just come down to playing it.
INTERCONNECTIVITY INTERCONNECTIVITY INTERCONNECTIVITY!!! I preached this more than anything in my previous article, but Windwalker is at its best when its abilities are connected to one another, and we’re getting it. Drinking Horn Cover, Teachings of the Monastery, Fury of Xuen, Meridian Strikes, and Transfer the Power are all things brought back and added to the things like Spiritual Focus, Xuen’s Bond, Xuen’s Battlegear, and Blackout Kick‘s CDR. This should make Windwalker’s rotation be more variable, but also more fluid and feel like you’re weaving one ability into the other. We’ll have to see how it feels functionally, since its always possible that there’s a tipping point where more becomes worse, but its certainly a nice foundation of things that I’ve been hoping for.
One thing that I’ve been stressing for a long time is that Windwalker needs to gain some identity when it comes to single target, and while I think the talent tree could be cleaned up a little bit in that regard, its very clear that the right side is, for the most part, focused on single target abilities. Talent balance and tuning will ultimately decide how strong Windwalker is in single target relative to others, but this is a step in the right direction, and one that will likely mean I start the expansion as a Windwalker again rather than a Feral Druid, at least as long as I don’t feel useless in ST when raiding.
Glory of the Dawn is back! More double backflips!!
With so many things that reduce the cooldowns of other abilities, it will make Windwalker a very consistent, high pressure, spec, rather than the bursty one that it is now. Nearly all of our longer cooldowns; Storm, Earth, and Fire / Serenity, Xuen, Touch of Death, and Bonedust Brew at least, have some talent that reduces their cooldown simply by doing the rest of your rotation. This means that the more you do, the more you can do, and Windwalker could return to a very not-burst oriented class, but one that is always ready with something to put damage where it needs to go.
I have a few hopes for the talent tree, but they are mainly small tweaks rather than big changes.
- First, as mentioned before, I’d love for Last Emperor’s Capacitor to allow Windwalkers to cast Crackling Jade Lightning while moving. I think it takes the talent and ability from highly disruptive to highly enjoyable.
- If we must have Rushing Jade Wind as an option, then it needs to be changed, because right now its weak and unpleasant to play with.
- With so many things working with Touch of Death, I think it needs to be clear what version we’re getting, because the different versions that we’ve seen will change how powerful and fun the talent options we have that modify it.
- I’d love to see some added crit scaling to things, such as proc chances based on crit chance for things like Glory of the Dawn or others.
I’m sure there will be more hopes, but I am technically on vacation.
This is just one of many articles to come that will discuss the talents and Windwalker in Dragonflight. Next on the docket, certainly within the next week or so, will be an article devoted to the different builds that we have access to and how or when they may be useful. Over time we’ll get into the theorycrafting of the numbers and what the numbers say we should pick, as well as what needs to change so that the numbers tell us to pick the things that make sense functionally and thematically.
This is when the process gets fun and busy, so stay tuned over the next few weeks and I’ll try to make sure we bring you the best information in a timely manner; I can’t be on vacation forever.