Sunnier Note: This is a guest post from Rotund of Something Wicked, a Windwalker on one of my previous home realms, Whisperwind-US. If he gets enough encouragement he might start his own Windwalker blog, which we all know is something our damage dealing friends sorely need. If you would also would like to contribute to this blog as a guest, I would love to hear from you!
With every patch, things change. Classes get balanced, numbers get moved around, people get new toys, and everything feels a little weird as everyone rubs the sleep out of their eyes, or blows the dust off their add-ons if they are coming back to the game.
Things feel a little bit different this time around though from the monk perspective. Starting a fresh class is rough. Blizzard and the developers are trying new things and polishing, always polishing. Monks have been relatively unchanged as this expansion has progressed, so patch 5.2 has brought a lot of balancing and a lot of changes to help windwalker monks integrate into PVE and PVP.
Overall we are in the same place on the meters, but are better equipped to deal with more situations than the single target focused DPS that we were in Tier 14. Windwalkers were buffed in a lot of ways, but were also dealt some pretty hefty nerfs in others, but let’s get into the details:
Windwalkers changed in some pretty significant ways that refine their own uniqueness, while allowing them to perform better in gameplay situations.
Combo Breaker: GONE!
Well, not quite.
The windwalker mastery that we were given at launch was intended to add some randomness to our rotation in addition to helping leveling and low geared monks by giving us a button to push when we were low on energy and chi. On paper that sounds like a good idea, but in practice it ended up being too random, and not very interesting as a mastery stat. Once gear started to scale, windwalkers could not get rid of it fast enough in favor of other stats.
In 5.2 this ability was integrated into the windwalker spellbook, but at a lowered chance to proc (12%); it still serves its original purpose, but now at a much more manageable rate:
Combo Breaker “You have a 12% chance when you Jab to cause your next Tiger Palm or Blackout Kick to cost no Chi within 15 sec.”
Enough about old news. Behold the new 5.2 mastery:
Bottled Fury “Grants an extra (1.6 + %Mastery) damage per stack of Tigereye Brew”
Tigereye Brew “For each 3 Chi you consume through use of abilities and attacks, you gain a charge of Tigereye Brew. Use Tigereye Brew to consume the charges, granting you (1.6 + %Mastery) increased damage for 15 sec. Tigereye Brew can stack up to 20 times, but can only consume up to 10 stacks at a time.”
In patch 5.1 Tigereye brew was a flat % increase per stack, stacked less often and less high. The new Tigereye Brew comes more fast, more furious. This addition will allow monks to throttle their damage as needed based on the encounter. This change makes mastery a much more useful and interesting stat for windwalkers, because it puts more of the control back into the players hands rather than relying on a chance for their rotations to be effective.
Storm, Earth, and Fire (heed my call!)
One of the major problems that confronted monks in Tier 14 was the lack of an effective cleave. Many encounters favored classes that could to damage to many targets at a time, while monks had limited options. We have Fists of Fury, but damage would be shared evenly between all targets, in addition to rooting you in place, and costing 3 chi.
Storm, Earth, and Fire “The Monk splits, summoning an elemental spirit to attack the target. The Monk can split into up to 2 elemental spirits at a time. The spirits will attack their targets and mirror your damaging abilities. However, for each elemental spirit summoned the Monk’s own damage will be reduced.
1 Spirit Summoned - Monk and spirit deal 60% of the Monk’s normal damage.
2 Spirits Summoned - Monk and spirits deal 45% of the Monk’s normal damage.”
Rather than glyphing or changing Fists of Fury, Blizzard gave monks a very cool tool to help with multi-target fights. I think it’s a very elegant ability that gives monks a unique advantage to use rather than giving monks a bigger hammer to seek out nails.
Chi and Zen, Windwalker Friends:
Our level 30 talents have always been a little neglected when it comes to Windwalkers. While they make fun noises and are bright and shiny, they didn’t really fill the role of a solid damage ability. Each option consumed chi, and didn’t do as much damage as we needed it to in order to offset that cost. This patch, each ability had its damage tweaked and it’s chi cost removed, both things that were needed in order to bring them into our rotation.
I mean, what good is it to have a talent that you don’t use? Am I right, or am I right? Whose blog is this anyways?
Ehem, sorry. Moving on.
The Not So Good:
Being monks, we understand balance. There is yin and yang. With every good there is an equal amount of discomfort that follows. While the Blizzard developers understand this, they decided upon some pretty hard hitting and last minute nerfs to our damage output:
Rising Sun Kick - “Causes all targets within 8 yards to take an increased 10% damage from your abilities for 15 sec.” (Was 15%)
Stance of the Fierce Tiger – “Increases damage done by 10%” (Was 20%)
Looking at the numbers, these two adjustments reduce our damage by 15%. Doing a little math:
Damage / (Old RSK) * (New RSK) / (Old Stance) * (New Stance)
= Damage / 1.2 *1.1 / 1.15 * 1.1
In reality, these adjustments brought our damage down by about 12.3%, still pretty significant.
Keep Calm, Keep Punching.
I will admit though, I was not happy when these were patched in. The sha of anger was strong in me. I was mostly upset at how these were not communicated to the players very effectively, and the reasons given for the nerfs did not make sense; Ghostcrawler tweeted that these adjustments were being made because of how the level 30 talents were performing. To me, that says that rather than fix the level 30 talents, they reached for the biggest hammer they could find and adjusted our damage with it.
After thinking it about it for a few days, and doing some math on my own it is not as big as a nerf as it feels. Remember, windwalkers got some pretty substantial buffs in terms of mastery and our level 30 talents being usable for damage. I sat down, wrote a spreadsheet, and did the math:
Patch 5.1: 116,677 DPS
Patch 5.2: 116,360 DPS
So ultimately, less than 1% nerf.
Does it feel bad, you bet. Does everyone want to be big and strong and blow up the meters, of course.
Let me explain what happened.
Blizzard gave us the opposite of the retribution paladin treatment; instead of taking away all of our burst they gave us more. They made us more reliant on timing our burst with our abilities in order to do effective damage. What’s different about this is that via the changes to our mastery we have more control over that burst, and we can throttle it as needed. The problem is that they lowered our baseline damage to compensate, and maybe a bit too much and too bluntly. Last patch we could provide a steady stream of damage to a boss with not much variation, but now the peaks are higher and the valleys are lower.
Lots of monks are complaining at the moment that they don’t do enough damage and can’t compete with other melee in raids. Believe me, I empathize. I was sat on our realm first Lei Shen kill, because the other melee in our raid were just outpacing me, so the answer was to sit low damage melee for ranged. That stung, but I knew the officers were right.
Are monks undertuned, or are the other classes overtuned? That’s the question. Don’t freak out, or threaten to quit the game. Look at your numbers, do some experiments, give blizzard developers some good data to work with so that they can adjust us to where they think we need to be.
I wrote a spreadsheet that helps me make sense of my stats, and estimate my own personal DPS targets and what stats I should be using. I’ll leave a link to it here and hopefully you can find it useful too:
Keep calm, keep punching.