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MonkFeb 23, 2016 7:00 pm CT

Zen Meditation: Windwalker and Havoc Demon Hunter comparison

Legion’s left a mixed bag of feelings thus far for those of us that have stuck with Windwalker since its inception in Mists of Pandaria. If you’re like me, you’re probably absolutely ecstatic to have a new class to try out. If you’re also like me, you’re also probably dreading having another class to compete for gear and likely a raiding spot with.

Heck, if you’re even remotely like me, you’re probably even contemplating to changing because Demon Hunter sounds pretty darn cool. However, the announcement stated that they’d be an incredibly movement-oriented class. Where does that leave Windwalker? How do these two classes really differ?

Warning! There may be spoilers below!


Core similarities

On a first date, it’s generally easier to find similarities than differences — comparing two classes echoes that. As hinted above, the most direct similarity lies in movement. Demon Hunters have “unparalleled movement” — does this mean that Windwalkers have lost some of their own potential in terms of movement? Honestly, it’s more that we’re different. But let’s get to that in a moment.

We both have Blink-esque abilities through Roll and Fel Rush — though Fel Rush is certainly closer to Chi Torpedo than it is to Roll. Additionally we have abilities that move us forward quickly, like Flying Serpent Kick, and gaming Vengeful Retreat so that it causes your character to go toward a target rather than away from it. What that boils down to is that if you want to charge forward with Vengeful Retreat, you currently need to turn your back to your intended target first.

We also both wear leather. Those kinds of relationships can either be make or break. Without knowledge of stat weights, currently both classes will simply want agility items. But let’s go a bit beyond the surface. Let’s take a look at rotation. Currently, Havoc and Windwalker benefit from what’s referred to as “pooling” gameplay. Pooling means saving your energy or Chi (or Fury) for either your larger cooldowns, or a portion of the fight in which you’ll rise to the top if you’re able to use a lot of resources very quickly, including cooldowns.

Windwalkers and Demon Hunters both have a few smaller cooldowns, the amount of which vary depending upon talent choice. There’s a medium cooldown of about half a minute (Fists of Fury at 25 seconds, and Eye Beam at 40 seconds), and then an even longer cooldown (Tigereye Brew or Serenity for Windwalker, and Metamorphosis for Demon Hunter). If you’re more used to the Windwalker style of play, Demon Hunter won’t feel terribly different.

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

The Windwalker

But how about differences? Let’s first take a look at the specialization we’re most familiar with.

First, the elephant in the room: movement. Windwalker’s movement is expressed through abilities. With your Artifact, you have three base rolls. Celerity can give you a fourth roll, or you can still choose Tiger’s Lust. That means that our movement is expressed through very short cooldowns.

The overall feel of Windwalker certainly differs. Last month, we looked at a few builds that could greatly change the way your Windwalker plays.  Despite how different these builds are, the overall feel of being Bruce Stormstout remains — at its core, Windwalker still exhibits itself as the martial artist. Mastery only encourages this due to pushing for the user to vary their abilities and make combinations of attacks.

In terms of utility, Windwalkers still provide movespeed aura, but have lost their niche of two-target cleave. Instead, they will excel at sustained cleave — and the closer to three targets, the better. They also have a decent toolkit for sustained area-of-effect through Rushing Jade Wind and Spinning Crane Kick.


Havoc’s contrast

Now for what you probably clicked on this article to read (if you aren’t a Monk!) — how does Havoc compare? Demon Hunters are marketed to be movement masters, but as we highlighted, Windwalkers still have more movement abilities, grant movement to their allies, and both classes have movement-oriented abilities. However, Demon Hunters (as of the current build) also have their movement scale.

Yes — I’m alluding to gaining more movement speed through their mastery.

While also making stat weights a bit more difficult to compare due to no real DPS value being assigned to movement in a vacuum — it’s more of a quality of life improvement — it does mean that a more geared Demon Hunter will have more movement than a lesser-geared Demon Hunter. It also means they could stand a chance to beat a Windwalker in a race.

Additionally, while their abilities slightly mirror the abilities of a Windwalker, they seem to play more similarly to most melee classes — aside from the obvious demon themes. They don’t have as much sustained area-of-effect — instead, their niche expresses itself towards burst area-of-effect. Their Artifact allows them to use a warrior’s ravager. But how about utility? Right now, that’s a little up in the air. Surely looking super cool in Metamorphosis will kill bosses and give my PVP partners a reason to bring me, right?


Melee movers

In the end, both of these classes fill a similar niche in terms of being very movement-oriented melee. Demon Hunter will go through many iterations between now and summer. But nonetheless, it’s never too early to have some fun looking at its toolkit.

Most raids should be fine having both a Windwalker and a Demon Hunter in their raids, as they still fit different damage niches. If you’re worried about Havoc taking your spot — let’s think about that a bit more the closer we get to Legion. And if you’re considering downgrading your class while re-rolling, well… the Monk community will still be here to welcome you back if it isn’t your thing.

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