Art of War

A brewmaster monk blog.

[Guest Post] Confessions of a Windwalker

Sunnier Note: This is a guest post from returning contributer Rotund of Something Wicked, a Windwalker on Whisperwind-US. If you would also would like to contribute to this blog as a guest, I would love to hear from you!

Hi again, I’m back again to muse about the DPS side of the monk triforce. I’m seeing a lot of confusion among Windwalkers since the 5.2 patch, and I’m here to help. Monks are still struggling with representation in raids, and there are a lot of questions out there while the answers are not very simple.

  • Why is my DPS so low?
  • What stats should I be gemming / enchanting for?
  • Should I be using a 2-hander or dual wielding for more DPS?
  • What is this Rune of Re-Origination that I am hearing so much about?

Ok, that last one isn’t so much a question, but it’s a common sentiment in the monk community. I want to address all these questions/ideas and help out any monks that are struggling to keep up in dungeons and raids.

Why is my DPS so low?

There are a few things that you can do immediately to increase your DPS, and make sure that you are doing the most you can to make big numbers happen.

1. Gems, Enchants, and Consumables

Make sure that your gear is properly pimped before you step foot in that boss buttcrack. Ideally you are using the best gems and enchants, but even cheap enchants like Windsong can do a world of good for your damage output. If superior quality gems are too much gold, go get some green quality ones. Every little bit helps. Flasks aren’t very expensive and 1000 agility is nothing to sneeze at. Great Pandaren Feasts are also in abundance with the 5.2 dailies, so odds are there is a good food buff available for every encounter.

Valor gear is also relatively cheap at the moment, so a week’s worth of valor can easily net you a sweet new piece of gear. Ultimately, boosting your item level correlates very well with damage output.

2. Mash Those Buttons

The windwalker DPS rotation is meant to be faster paced than typical melee classes. As my old sensei told me, the power of your attacks is comprised of two things: speed and strength. Without either, you have no power.

In reality, windwalkers don’t really have that many buttons to push: Jab, Rising Sun Kick, Blackout Kick, Tiger Palm, Fists of Fury, and Chi Wave (or whatever your L30 talent is). Don’t be afraid to make some noise or give your keyboard a workout. I hear if you push your keys harder, your DPS goes up; I have found that you can go nuts smashing buttons, but Fists of Fury is a welcome reprieve in the rotation to recover a little finger energy as well as virtual energy on your character.

Back in Wrath of the Lich King, Method’s hunter Kripparian published a video that explained some very good techniques for maximizing your DPS in raids, and a lot of the concepts are still true today. I would recommend everyone watch his video.

3. Use Tigereye Brew Early and Often.

The most common mistake I made coming fresh out of 5.2, and I see other monks making is waiting until you have 20 stacks of Tigereye Brew before using it. This is the cornerstone of our DPS rotation and using it effectively is the key to optimum damage output. Even if you keep 100% uptime on the TEB damage buff, you are still going to be doing much more damage than if you sit on stacks and don’t use them. Get in the habit of timing it so that you can get two Rising Sun Kicks off during the duration of the buff, and squeeze a Fists of Fury in there if you can.

4. Storm, Earth and Fire

This ability is the monks cleave, but there is some assembly required. Each clone has applies it’s own Rising Sun Kick debuff, and have their own Tiger Palm buff as well; because of these things as well as travel time, SEF is not great for adds/targets that aren’t going to be alive for very long. I will use this ability on Council of Elders (normal mode), and Ji-Kun upper nest adds.

As an aside, I see players in LFR and LFD using Storm, Earth and Fire on a single target. Don’t do this. Your clones will only copy your attacks if you are hitting different targets, and you are going to be doing less damage if all three of you are on the same target.

Secondary Stats – The new primary stats.

Stats are exciting. What is exciting for me is that all the secondary stats for windwalkers in path 5.2 are useful and that you can use them to tailor your playstyle. You can be bursty and stack mastery, or you can have smoother, more consistent output and favor crit, and all the while controlling the pace of your rotation with how much haste you take.


Haste is a windwalker’s most important stat, even when you aren’t stacking it. Haste increases your energy generation rate, your melee attack speed, and reduces the duration of your Fists of Fury. Additional haste also has the side benefit of giving you more Combo Breaker procs via Jab.

The best analogy I use for haste is that it is your throttle. By controlling haste, you can control how fast or slow you want to play your rotation. In this, every player has their own “haste cap” and their own comfort level with how fast they would like dole out punishment. Ideally you want to stack haste until you notice that you aren’t able to use all the energy that you are generating. This haste soft cap happens typically between 9,000 and 10,000 haste rating.

My advice for windwalkers is to practice, and to keep adding more haste until it becomes uncomfortable to play, and then back off just a little bit. The goal is to be able to use about 55-58 global cooldowns per minute, and not feel like you need to wait for energy to tick in order to use your abilities.


As I discussed last time, Mastery increases the effectiveness of our Tigerseye Brew DPS cooldown. The good thing is that mastery and haste interact very well in that the more attacks that you are spending chi on, the faster you will have Tigerseye Brew stacks to use and boost your DPS.

Critical Strike

Unfortunately (or fortunately) crit doesn’t do anything special or interact with any of our abilities other than a chance to deal additional damage. I’m grateful for this, because our rotation has enough procs and stuff going on to be interesting but not overwhelming.

Stat Priority & Gemming.

TL;DR: Haste (to cap) > Agility > Crit > Mastery > Haste (over cap)

Haste is our best DPS stat until you are GCD capped, but after that you have a little bit of flexibility. SimCraft and my own calculations have show crit to be the 2nd best secondary stat followed by mastery. One sidenote about this is that these calculations assume that you are using TEB to cover your whole rotation, rather than using it during trinket/enchant procs or during bloodlust or other raid cooldowns. Try them out and see how you like it on a target dummy. If you prefer a more bursty playstyle, go with mastery, and if you like smoother more consistent DPS go with crit.

Another note is that yellow gems provide twice the amount of secondary stats as primary stats this expansion. I recommend gemming yellow sockets with haste/hybrids until you reach your personal haste cap with gear, and then filling them in with agility as needed. Personally I like to establish a haste baseline with gems that I can tweak with reforging as needed, but your mileage may vary.

Choose your Weapon

The biggest question I see on the forums and monks are asking is “Should I be using a 2 handed weapon, or should I be dual wielding” To preface this let’s take a look in our spellbook:

Way of the Monk

This spell does all of the heavy lifting, and basically normalizes your DPS no matter what you pick, so the answer to this question depends on the item level of your weapons. The DPS of the weapon in your main hand will boost your DPS more than any other stat or piece of gear, so it is very important that you have a weapon with the most DPS equipped in your main hand. A majority of your spells and abilities scale from your main hand weapon damage, so it’s important to prioritize upgrading this first, so use your bonus coin rolls on bosses that drop better weapons.

The main difference between the two styles is that if you are dual wielding, you can take advantage of having two weapon enchants rather than just the one, so in general if you have the same item level choose dual wielding in order to take advantage of twice the enchant procs.

The tricky part is if you have a 2 hander and a 1 hander with the same weapon DPS, but you have a crappy offhand weapon. My rule of thumb is that if the offhand is more than 10 ilvls difference than your mainhand, it’s probably better to use a 2hander.

Rune of Re-Origination: Hold on to your butts.

This trinket is the weirdest I’ve seen in a long time, but it is incredibly powerful:

Rune of Re-Origination

The trinket proc will take all of your secondary stats, buff them up, and then shove them all in your highest secondary stat for 10 seconds. Ghostcrawler explained it in gory detail while it was on the PTR:

At proc time, it checks how much crit, haste, and mastery you have (yes, this is a snapshot, and does NOT include the mastery raid buff). It finds which is the highest of those 3 (tie breaking rule: crit trumps haste trumps mastery), and gives you a buff of +[sum of lowest two stats] to your highest stat, and -[lowest stat A] and -[lowest stat B]. For example, if you have 6000 mastery, 3000 crit, 2000 haste, and the proc goes off, it gives you a buff that provides [+5000 mastery, -3000 crit, -2000 haste]. It does not continue adjusting that buff as stats change during its duration. Yes, this means that if you have a temporary buff to a stat that is not your highest (even with the temporary buff), and that temporary buff falls off during Re-Origination, you *could* end up with negative rating. In this obscure edge case, negative crit does reduce your crit chance, negative mastery does reduce whatever it normally does, and negative haste is ignored.

This trinket is broken, and overpowered, and will make everyone in your raid jealous of you. Beg, steal, borrow, maim, and push down old ladies in the street to get one.

Monks are currently stacking mastery in order to use this trinket optimally. Ideally you want your secondary stats to be as equal as possible with mastery being slightly higher than the rest. When the trinket procs, all of your secondary stats will be reallocated into mastery. When the Re-Origination buff is about to expire, activate Tigereye Brew and all the mastery that the trinket proc gave you will be snapshotted even after the proc expires. The next 15 seconds are a rocket ride to the top of the DPS meters.

It takes a bit of practice, and I have a weakaura that tells me when the buff is about to fall off so that I can use Tigereye Brew at the very last second and do unspeakable DPS.

It’s also viable to use crit as your chosen stat, and the trinket proc will boost your crit chance incredibly high. I don’t recommend using haste in this manner, as you will be energy capping whenever the trinket procs.

Rogues are still beating me! What now?

Sorry to say, that’s just the way the dice rolled at the moment. Right now in patch 5.2 rogues, warriors and death knights are kings of the melee pile. Windwalker monks are a little behind the 8 ball in damage output, and raid benefit. Monk playstyle changed significantly between Tier 14 and 15 and Blizzard moved the nerf slider a little too far. Fear not though, we are getting some of that damage back in 5.3 when they buff our Rising Sun Kick debuff:

Rising Sun Kick now causes all targets within 8 yards to take an increased 20% damage from the Monk’s abilities, up from 10%.

So we are getting a little love, in addition to our shaman and paladin buddies. Another common sentiment in the windwalker community is that we don’t have competitive raid cooldowns that are as powerful as other classes. I agree that Zen Meditation doesn’t hold a candle to warrior banners, paladin hands, DK grip/AMZ, druid roars, shaman totems, or rogue smoke bombs. What we do have are amazing personal survival cooldowns that all but negate incoming damage, and that is a valuable raid asset. While this is the case, I feel like Blizzard has something even more powerful in the works for us in a future patch.

When we got Storm, Earth and Fire this patch, it felt very well done and something that they had been working on for a while and probably wasn’t just quite ready for MOP launch. I’m guessing Blizzard still has a trick up their sleeves that will make people’s jaws drop and say, “Damn, I want to play a monk.”