Level 100 Talents Preliminary Review

The tier 100 talents are emerging with the unique theme of damage vs. defense tradeoffs. Chi Explosion is at one extreme, actually hurting your defense (by removing your ability to pool chi) but likely providing the largest damage increase. Soul Dance at the other extreme, doing nothing for damage but providing a situational but powerful damage management passive. And Serenity is somewhere in the middle, providing a weak defensive and offensive boost.

Preliminary Chi Explosion Numbers

The goal was to see if there is a noticeable damage difference in using CE at low vs. high chi amounts. By itself, there should be, since the formula is basically X+nX, where n is the number of chi and X is a constant based on attack power. We should get more damage out of low chi usages because of that base damage. However, Tiger Palm throws a monkey wrench into that hypothesis.

Tiger Palm is free, fills all our empty GCDs, and contributes quite a bit of damage. A cast of CE comes at the cost of a Tiger Palm. So each cast of CE has to be significantly more damage than a cast of Tiger Palm to justify the chi and opportunity cost.

With the aid of some napkin math and backed up with some test dummy experiments, it seems like the opposite of my hypothesis is true: you get more damage out of less frequent, high chi usages of Chi Explosion. However, it’s a nearly insignificant amount more. Here’s what the chart looks like:

(And here is my spreadsheet)

Test Dummy Comparison of Talents

I’m not very confident in these numbers because I saw a pretty large variance and the numbers are in flux anyway. But I want to use them to discuss how I think things should be balanced. These numbers are from the premade level 100 Brewmaster with no trinkets equipped.

  • Soul Dance / No talent – Roughly 5.6k dps
  • Chi Explosion – Roughly 6k dps (widest variance between 5.8k at low chi and 6.2k at high chi)
  • Serenity – Roughly 5.8k dps

Serenity was the most disappointing. I can’t say I’m surprised, but it increased dps from the base by roughly 3.6%, which is rarely worth it. Its only dps benefit comes from more frequent blackout kicks, which typically make up about 25% of our total damage. It’s only defensive benefits are enabling you to start a pull with a longer duration of Shuffle and free Purifying Brews. Longer Shuffle duration is something you only worry about at the pull or during heavy movement fights, and so is of little use (and easily covered by other talent choices). More frequent Purifies is okay, though since you’ll only get hit by the average boss every 2.5 seconds (if you’re unlucky and don’t avoid) and the buff only lasts 10 seconds, you’ll at most only be able to take advantage of it four times.

How Should They Be Balanced?

If they’re going for a defense vs. offense scale (with Soul Dance being completely defensive, Chi Explosion being completely offensive, and Serenity being in the middle), I’d rather see:

  • Serenity be better. 3.5% dps increase is never better than a significant magic damage reduction in fights that have magic damage. Right now, I can only imagine Serenity being used for purely physical fights that hit hard enough to necessitate chi pooling (i.e. can’t use CE).
    • I’m not really sure how they can balance it when we share this skill with windwalkers. WW spenders are more important to their dps than our spenders, and more interesting.
  • Chi Explosion should be an increase around 6%-8% for single target. Keep in mind that it’s immensely powerful for AoE and ranged, so it needs to be balanced with those two in mind. (It was somewhere around that when I tested, maybe a bit higher.)
  • I’d like there to be a more powerful trade off or complexity in Chi Explosion. Such as using at low chi will net you more damage but less defenses. With these current numbers it looks even more likely that we should just use the skill at the highest level of chi for the biggest benefit.

In a less-than-ideal world (ideal would mean no chi explosion because I hate it), I imagine our talent choices like this:

  • Is there heavy magic damage? Soul Dance
  • Do you need more dps? Or alternatively, do you need more AoE or ranged DPS? Chi Explosion
  • Do you need a bit more dps and a bit more physical survival? Serenity
  • (“Default” being Serenity because, again, I don’t like Chi Explosion)

What needs to happen to accomplish this?

  • Chi Explosion damage can’t outweigh defensive benefits of other choices. (Or how about it just goes away forever?)
  • Serenity needs more everything. It needs more burst potential and a more useful defensive benefit. For example, what if we could spam Keg Smash and Expel Harm for a few seconds, instead of Blackout Kick and Purifying Brew? (Those might be bad ideas, but just a thought experiment.)
  • Soul Dance is perfect. Situational, but very powerful.