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Monk > WoWDec 14, 2015 8:00 pm CT

Zen Meditation: Is Legion Alpha Windwalker too easy?

With the new information on Alpha changes to the Windwalker toolkit, many Monks seem extremely concerned about whether or not Windwalker will completely lose its skillcap. At the moment, the class’s difficulty results from maintaining both a buff and debuff, the usage of Storm, Earth, and Fire, as well as a few other small things here and there that can either make a player fall on their face, or rise through the charts. However, before diving into that, we do have one quick question to answer.

Undead Monk using Transcendence

Screenshot courtesy of Coldfysts on US-Hyjal

Zylo writes:

I’ve been trying to figure out when I should use Transcendence. I know what it does from reading the tool tip. But I have yet to find a situation where it would actually be useful. Can you give an example, maybe from a raid boss from WoD?

Transcendence is – more or less – a teleport (as you’ve likely seen from the tooltip). There aren’t terribly many uses for it, but it’s quite potent once you do. A few very brief instances:

  • Resetting bosses. If the boss has a gate that simply rises, you can Provoke the boss and then Transcendence through the gate in order to wipe without killing everyone. You do need to make sure you set Transcendence up first. The bosses this tier that I’ve used that include Socrethar, Tyrant Velhari, and Fel Lord Zakuun. You can also use it for Xhul’horac, but there’s a slightly better way to use it here.
  • If you know that you need to swap between two areas really quickly. For example, on Xhul’horac, I don’t use Transcendence to reset the boss. Instead, I place it near where we drop Fel Flames, and easily transport between melee and dropping flames.
  • Knock backs or other avoidable mechanics. Mythic Butcher did a knockback that could cost precious melee time. By setting a Transcendence before this knockback went out, I could simply teleport back into melee without missing a beat.

Hope that helps!

And without further ado, let’s take a look at how Windwalker changes may make things slightly easier – or not!

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

Windwalker using Storm, Earth, and Fire

Storm, Earth, and Toggle Brew

The largest complaints about how “easy” Windwalker may become results from the changes of two spells in particular. Storm, Earth, and Fire’s movement toward being a toggle removes much of the control from the hands of the player and instead makes it act similar to Blade Flurry. That is, your clones will all go fight whatever they want. You won’t want to use it for two-target cleave because there won’t be a benefit, but at least you won’t need to worry about the huge amounts of macros or tracking addons that have arisen to make this ability actually useable.

The other results from Tigereye Brew’s change to now be a flat damage buff every minute and a half. Previously, it acted as a stacking damage buff that the Monk could pop stacks from at different intervals – whether when they get a certain proc or buff, or during a burn phase. This ability allowed better or worse Windwalkers to rise and fall – not too differently from how Storm, Earth, and Fire could make us stand out.

However, here’s the problem with both abilities. They were extremely core to the Windwalker toolkit, and many just avoided using them where they could – or overused them (how many of us have seen a Windwalker pop out a Storm, Earth, and Fire clone on a single-target fight?)

It’s difficult to balance a game aimed at an incredibly diverse audience. One part of the audience wants their class to be difficult, because they want to be able to stomp another player that may not spend as much time in the game. However, it’s also not that great for a class’s health to only be effectively usable by the 1% of the population that can eke all of this out. According to Warcraft Realm Census, Monks are the least played class. And that’s not even by a small amount – we’re 2% behind the next classes.

Undead Monk at the end of Spinning Dragon Strike

Spinning Dragon Strike courtesy of Coldfysts on US-Hyjal

But what about reward?

I know what some of you are going to think. The changes are going to make the class less rewarding, because the difficulty curve made it more rewarding to do well.

Here’s the thing. If you’re playing at a high level, aren’t you already using mouseover macros, WeakAuras, and everything else under the sun in order to overcome the perceived difficulty curve? Personally, I can’t support maintaining abilities that require certain UI elements in order to make the class playable. The more people we have playing our class or spec, the better it is – overall – for that class as a whole. Just like studies about bringing women and minorities into STEM or business indicate that this strengthens our workforce as a whole, making classes more approachable by a wider amount of players means that the class as whole becomes stronger. You gain more feedback, more theorycrafting, more people trying and finding something new. It helps push away from class stagnation.

Further, adjusting these abilities doesn’t mean that there won’t be reward in other areas. Tigereye Brew tied into Windwalker’s mastery – and now there’s a new Mastery: Combo Strikes to take its place. Now, when the Windwalker casts a different ability, it will do 10% mastery if its not a copy of the previous ability.

Right now, you probably repeat abilities and don’t even realize it. Going forward, Windwalkers will now need to plan ahead what they’re going to use – likely several GCDs in advance.

This is where your reward is. Can you keep your abilities diverse? Can you avoid double-tapping Tiger Palm and Blackout Kick? It seems simple, but in the end, it’ll add a new layer of depth to the class.

Plus, you know that you’re going to meet a Windwalker who just uses Storm, Earth, and Fire all the time!

Undead monk casting RSK

Screenshot courtesy of Coldfysts on US-Hyjal

The Legion Alpha disclaimer

It’s also important to remember that Legion’s still in the oven. It hasn’t yet been released, so there’ll be many iterations to come. We’re very early in the alpha cycle still, and that means mechanics will likely change over time.

Windwalker changes have been something many players have clamored for. Perhaps there’s a great amount of simplification – the same simplification that most classes saw during Warlords of Draenor. However, there will still be many complexities in encounters and even some subtle ones in class design that will make a great player rise from the pack.

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