The NDA surrounding The War Within Alpha was lifted today at 10am PST and with that came a host of new information. This included a overhaul of the Monk Class and Windwalker Spec talent trees. There have been some small non-talent changes, but the majority of changes came with the talent trees. Rather than go through each node, I think the easiest way to look at it is looking back at all the complaining I’ve done in the last few months, how much, if any, of these complaints are solved, and any new complaints that have popped up.


Dragonflight Post-Mortem Article

All of the WowHead guide writers wrote their thoughts on their specs looking back throughout Dragonflight. I touched on a few things, the new talent trees, the change in Windwalker gameplay, concerns from that past that were still around, and things I wanted for the future. A lot of these have been addressed by this talent overhaul.


Talent System

The Good

Looking back at the good things I liked about the Talent trees, I am happy to report that most of them have survived the overhaul.   Strike of the Windlord Invoker’s Delight Xuen’s Battlegear Drinking Horn Cover,  Shadowboxing Treads Teachings of the Monastery, and  Transfer the Power are all still around, although several are in new places.

I had mentioned I enjoyed the relative balance between Serenity and  Storm, Earth, and Fire, so with Serenity gone, that is the only casualty. However, getting Weapons of Order back in the form of Ordered Elements, is a net positive in my opinion.


The Bad

The first thing that jumped out when looking at the problems with the Windwalker talent tree was how many nodes were either completely unused or only used to get to a better one. At the time, my estimate was between 6 and 13 nodes that fit those criteria. While that numbers hasn’t gone down to 0, many of them are gone, with around 5 of 6 still remaining. Its very difficult to get that number gone completely, so better is better.

I also talked about how the spec tree had three “paths” culminating in either Bonedust Brew for sustained AOE in the green path, Fatal Flying Guillotine for burst AOE in the red path, and Jadefire Stomp for the blue path. Well Bonedust Brew and Fatal Flying Guillotine are both gone and Jadefire Stomp is significantly improved without the need to stand on the line for resets. We’ll undoubtedly end up with more builds in the future as we figure these things out, but losing those “capstone” talents is a massive improvement to keeping the power of the spec inside the spec.


The Class Tree/Utility

The Monk class tree also saw an overhaul, with many improvements such as Summon White Tiger Statue becoming an auto-cast when you cast Xuen, Chi Burst losing its Chi generation, freeing us up to take an improved Chi Wave that is now a passive, cutting down on button bloat even further. There are a ton of new and interesting talents in the class tree, not least of all Lighter Than Air and my personal favorite Linked Spirits.

There are some problems with the class tree changes, however. The main ones are that Expel Harm is now a passive that procs from Tiger Palm and we’ve lost Dampen Harm to the Brewmasters. Dampen Harm leaving the tree is somewhat balanced by an improvement to Fortifying Brew having its cooldown reduced significantly. Losing Expel Harm as an active ability means that we cannot use it to maintain Hit Combo when there are no targets around, that we lose the highly energy efficient Chi it gave us, and that we have to rely on Vivify, and likely Vivacious Vivification, for our on-demand self healing. The latter point is annoying, but minor, the former two points are potentially significant and may result in the biggest “feel” change for the spec.

Lastly, Close to Heart and Generous Pour are gone, leaving us with the (still hilariously awful) Windwalking as the only utility we can provide to the group. While these were not unique to Windwalker, losing them just removes the last little bit of assistance that we could provide. This means that Windwalkers will be slightly more reliant on tuning and our own damage to justify a raid spot. It likely won’t help the frequent situation of raids only having a Windwalker if Brewmaster is not strong.



Windwalker gameplay shouldn’t feel totally different from how it plays now. There will be less randomly generated resources but slightly more procs to use, meaning that pace should remain mostly the same. Without being able to play it in the Alpha yet, it is hard to say how much has changed. I discussed some of the big changes above, like not needing to stand on the line for Jadefire Stomp and not having Fatal Flying Guillotine to dominate our AOE damage.

A big concern, and something that many people will want to mention every chance we get, is that there has been a growing number of mechanics that result in windows of increased damage.

That is… a lot of damage windows. Ideally you line up as many as you can. If you can somehow manage to line them all up, it can equal out to over 300% increased damage. Having 300% increased damage for a window is what got Rune of Re-Origination destroyed and Windwalker’s Mastery changed for the 2nd time in two raid tiers back in Mists of Pandaria. The chances of getting all those together is.. impossible to calculate without my brain bleeding, but suffice to say its unlikely.

The big problem, with all of these overlapping windows is that Skytouch stands out as a significantly larger damage amplifier for a very short time with a large time in between. You also have to pay a decent amount of attention to it in order to get the most out of it. Since it’s one of the largest damage amps, it’s one of the ones you want to get done at the right time. This can be very mentally taxing, distract from other things going on, and end up moot if you don’t get the other damage amps at the same time. Given that most of the other damage amplifiers are secondary effects, passive procs, or major cooldowns, Skytouch is a potentially enormous thorn and can completely dominate how successful you are as a Windwalker. In theory, that’s not a bad thing, as it puts a high skill-cap and rewards the best of us. In practice, it’s dumb.


Past/Present Concerns

In the WowHead article, my main three concerns from the past that hadn’t been solved during Dragonflight were Windwalker’s abysmal stat scaling, the fact that Jadefire Stomp locked you into place, and that due to Fatal Flying Guillotine, Touch of Death was a overly dominating part of our AOE abilities. Thankfully, I am happy to report that Fatal Flying Guillotine is gone, Jadefire Stomp doesn’t require you to stand on the line anymore, and a significant amount of potential Haste scaling was added to our talents.

In addition to the Haste scaling, Mastery: Combo Strikes was increased from a base of 10% up to 12% and had its stat conversion increased by 20%, meaning that we’ll get more Mastery % from Mastery rating. With the loss of many of the random resources, Haste’s value in providing more Energy to turn into Chi and then into damage will also increase. It’s difficult to know exactly how these changes will effect Windwalker’s scaling, but it should be a very solid step in the right direction.



Back in February, when I wrote the article, I included seven things I thought would be better for the spec:

  • Jadefire Stomp changed to not lock you in place = check
  • Touch of Death in a more manageable place = check
  • Significant attention to the talent trees = check
  • Incorporating some of the Dragonflight S3 tier bonus = semi-check since we get Courageous Impulse
  • Interrupt during Fists of Furynot check
  • Cutting back on button bloat = check
  • Updating visuals = not check

Getting 4.5 or 5 of the seven things I wanted is pretty good.


State of Windwalker Article

Last October, I wrote a very lengthy article about all of the things I felt were wrong with Windwalker. Many of them have been addressed by today’s changes, so I’ll cover them somewhat quickly since a lot of it is repetitive.



A big issue I had with Windwalker in Dragonflight is how many resources came from unpredictable sources. A Windwalker could easily see 15% of their resources coming randomly from sources they don’t have control over. When added together, this leads to frequent times where there are too many resources to spend and not enough ways to spend them.

I believe this problem is getting better with the loss of Open Palm Strikes and Power Strikes. Glory of the Dawn will still be largely random, even though under normal circumstances it just makes the effective cost of Rising Sun Kick 1 Chi instead of 2. Energy Burst has been added, which is semi-random in that you can occasionally force a Blackout Kick! via Sequenced Strikes which can be forced from WDP with Revolving Whirl. Beyond forcing it that way, it’s largely random. You have a semblance of control over when you use Blackout Kick!, which leads to Energy Burst being random yet not random and uncontrolled yet controllable.

While it doesn’t quite solve the problem of uncontrollable resources, I’d like to believe this is better than what we currently have in Dragonflight. Windwalker is losing some controlled Chi generation from Power Strikes, Chi Burst, Expel Harm, and Tiger Palm‘s cost being increased to 60 energy or 55 with Inner Peace. This means that Windwalker should be generating less Chi than it is now. However, the increased Haste scaling will help to cut down on any downtime that would be increased without it.

Serenity‘s absence will mean that we don’t have a 12-15 second window of resource irrelevance. Ordered Elements does decrease the cost of Chi spenders after using Rising Sun Kick but also reduces the cooldown of those Chi spenders, and generates 2 Chi to get you started. Lastly, it’s worth noting that with some of the changes like Acclamation and Momentum Boost, there are now more things to prevent us from clipping Fists of Fury early or dropping anything from our rotation, like have we been during Serenity.


Gotta Go Fast?

Much to my lamentation, there is a distinct chance that Hastewalking is now the way of the world. I won’t say anything more about that, but I do think that if it’s going to happen, the changes that we’re seeing should be a sufficient way to make the Hastewalker dream/nightmare a reality.

I talked above about how Windwalker is losing a few of the random resources, but another big problem with Windwalker in Dragonflight is how many procs there are that require your attention or your reaction. Thankfully, something is being done about that with these talent changes:

The talent changes is a pretty significant reduction in the number of procs that Windwalkers have to react to, which should return the “feel” to one that is more fluid and consistent. This is what I’m most excited for once I’m able to get my fingers on Alpha/Beta.


Conclusion and Concerns

These changes today are absolutely the largest changes that Windwalker has ever received and they help to potentially solve many problems for Windwalker.

However, there are still concerns. The biggest concern is the effect that damage amplifying windows like Skytouch have on how the spec plays. As I’m writing this, there’s considerable discussion in my Twitch Chat about how script-able the priority will be for Windwalker and whether we’ll be stuck into following a very specific set of button presses or face significant punishment to our damage potential.

Another big concern is the loss of Chi Wave and/or Expel Harm as castable abilities that we can use during downtime to maintain our Mastery, generate Chi, and keep Hit Combo going. This would potentially pigeon-hole us into using resources like Energy through Crackling Jade Lightning, adding a button just for this purpose like Chi Burst, or spending Chi on something like Spinning Crane Kick (very unlikely) depending on the situation.

Personally, since button bloat has been reduced, Haste’s value is increasing, and more mechanics have been added to reduce the cooldown of Fists of Fury and Rising Sun Kick, I’d still like to see Whirling Dragon Punch become the semi-passive version of itself when it was bugged during Shadowlands and triggering automatically any time both Fists of Fury and Rising Sun Kick were on cooldown. Join me on this hill if you aren’t already here.

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