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WoWJul 13, 2015 3:00 pm CT

Zen Meditation: How Blizzard curbs raiding Windwalker Monks

In many sports, handicapping is a commonly used term to place a certain team or person at a slightly greater disadvantage from the other team or person. In horse racing, for example, a horse might have added weight to their saddle to make it more difficult for them to win, and to allow other horses to have a chance at overtaking the horse that is favorite to win. This is done in order to keep the playing field more even, and thus, to drive more competition.

This seems like an odd way to open an article about Windwalkers, but the class has a few similar weights added in order to curb the potential damage. In World of Warcraft, many curbs are placed on certain classes in order to prevent them from becoming too powerful. Windwalker has certainly seen many of these curbs both added and removed at different times, and with Warcraft Log statistics showing them relatively low for many encounters, a discussion about the impact of lifting some of these may be in order.

Windwalker in Tanaan, courtesy of Caligraphy on Windrunner-US

Chi Explosion’s meteoring

Meteoring describes when an ability can do a ton of damage, but splits it evenly among other targets. Chi Explosion does something extremely similar to this. When the Windwalker uses it with 4 Chi, it will hit the primary target for 100% damage, and then a secondary for 50% damage. If there are more than two targets, the primary target will still be hit for full damage, but all secondary targets will be hit for a very reduced amount of damage. However, this spell does work well with Windwalker’s Storm, Earth, and Fire.  Clone spells will hit their primary target for full damage, and then splash onto others. However, the splash damage still will not equal the full damage done the primary target.

This may seem relatively confusing, but the big thing to understand is that the meteoring (the splitting) of the secondary damage greatly reduces the Windwalker’s effectiveness in any encounter with more than three targets, just to keep them in line for two and three target fights. When the spell was first introduced, all targets would be hit for full damage — making Windwalkers incredible at large-scale AE fights.

However, at this point, Windwalker cannot keep up in an AE fight. They may do well with boss damage, but their toolkit is very limited once the amount of targets goes below two or beyond three. Nonetheless, in order to bring them up to par with other classes, an easy fix would be to simply adjust the meteoring of Chi Explosion. It does not need to hit all targets for full damage, as that would pull them too high above other classes for cleave fights, but it certainly would make them more viable for many-target encounters, given that there has been a large trend with these.

Windwalk aura

When initially announced, most Windwalkers were pretty interested in the improved Windwalk aura. This unique spell made it such that Windwalkers would grant an additional amount of movement speed to all targets near them. When they found, however, that the 10% movement speed within 10 yards was hardly noticeable and really only helped players within the immediate vicinity of Windwalker, it became realized that this aura was barely even noticable and hardly a reason to even bring the class. If the aura had simply granted 15% (that is, 5% more than current) and also affected the entire raid, it would likely be something that people would actively seek for their raid. And for those who have never noticed this buff — precisely. It was never removed, it was never toned down. It was just simply never noticeable. Thus, when looking at what Windwalker brings to high end raiding — this never enters the picture simply because it does not impact play as much as other class’s abilities.

Nonetheless, this would certainly make Windwalkers incredibly strong. Blizzard has, in the past, touted that they wish for raid teams to bring the player rather than the class. Yet, there is still only one class which can use any type of Death Grip ability, and while they have removed many raid cooldowns (often to the detriment of some of the classes which used them), melee are still considered more for what they bring beyond damage. As such, perhaps having this aura be more noticeable for players would make having a Windwalker in the raid more desirable, even when their damage may be lacking. The problem may be finding a good place for it that is not too powerful.

Calligraphy on US-Stormreaver using Storm, Earth, and Fire

Windwalker using Storm, Earth, and Fire

Storm, Earth, and Fire

This spell is incredibly potent, yet perhaps too potent. In Highmaul, its strength quickly illustrated how much it defines Windwalker; few, if any classes, could ever touch a Windwalker on certain two- or three-target fights.

With great power, comes great cost. Instead of adjusting the numbers for Storm, Earth, and Fire, the Windwalker’s single-target damage was instead reduced to a more manageable amount. While, at the time, this kept Windwalkers competitive for their particular niche, the problem remains that now other classes are able to pretty quickly overpower them in the hands of two evenly skilled players. Thus, the Windwalker’s single-target has been dialed back for a spell which takes a pretty good amount of ramp-up time, and has to have specific encounters cater to it in order to shine — thus curbing the Windwalker in other areas.

Perhaps Storm, Earth, and Fire does not necessarily need to have its numbers reduced. Rather, in a perfect world, the Windwalker’s single-target would be brought up, with Storm, Earth, and Fire reduced such that the Windwalker’s two- and three-target cleave remains as-is, but single-target is still increased. Though, honestly, with the way Warcraft Logs statistics are showing class damage dealt in these types of situations, an overall buff may not be such a bad thing for the class.

The sky isn’t falling

Keep in mind, these are more areas which the Windwalkers have found themselves more or less held back. As a class with few utility spells compared to other melee (no Smoke Bombs, no Rallying Cries, no Gripping mobs, and no additional cooldowns for tanks or the other funky interactions for Blessing of Protection), Windwalkers have found themselves in the past trying to find where they fit in — with soaking, trying to deal more damage, or even just trying to find where Storm, Earth, and Fire can work around mechanics.

It has been stated that Blizzard wants to see Windwalkers do significant damage, and in the right fight, they most certainly can shine — when the stars align, there’s wonderful luck, and fight length, gear, or other factors contribute to the Windwalker shining. However, perhaps sometimes it is still interesting and even fun to look at areas in which the class might become overpowered if the knobs were just pushed one way or another. In the comments — what are some other areas you feel Windwalkers are curbed?

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