Windwalker - bugs and design flaws

90 Pandaren Monk

This is a PvE perspective on the monk class, more specifically the Windwalker spec. While I also think monks also need PvP adjustments, I will focus my points on PvE because that's my area of expertise, and where I have experience to share on the subject. My remarks and suggestions may our may not have PvP impact, but the main goal is to make monks more balanced / better in PvE.


Tier 1: This tier is fine. Every option is useful and you switch on a encounter-specific basis.
Tier 2: The only viable option in this tier is Chi Wave, which wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't bugged. Zen Sphere is too weak and Chi Burst is a Mistweaver-only talent.
Tier 3: This tier is fine too, you can switch if you need more Chi generation (Power Strikes), bigger Chi pool (Ascension) or require burst damage (Chi Brew).
Tier 4: I think Deadly Reach could be a glyph instead of a talent, and have some other option here. But this tier is ok other than that. Charging Ox Wave could have its cooldown reduced to 45 sec to match leg sweep.
Tier 5: Overall Healing Elixirs feels weak compared to Dampen Harm and Diffuse Magic. Having Healing Elixirs give you a HoT instead of an instant heal would make it better. Would still see little PvE usage since Dampen Harm and Diffuse Magic are so strong.
Tier 6: Xuen is the clear winner here. Chi Torpedo is completely useless, and Rushing Jade Wind is too situational, and in my opinion should be a separate baseline cooldown for Windwalkers, or tweaked to also be useful in single-target situations. There's no encounter that requires you to AoE 100% of the time. The closest thing to that so far is Wind Lord Mel'jarak, and even you still need single-target DPS in the last phase, and Rushing Jade Wind does nothing there.
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90 Pandaren Monk
Monk is hybrid class that does not feel like one

Being a former Retribution Paladin myself, I'm used to having a lot of utility to offer to my raid, off-healing, etc. Druids also have a lot of raid utility to offer, and that's what I would expect from a class that can fulfill 3 roles in the game. When you look at your spellbook, you feel like a Rogue. The only heal we have is Expel Harm, which is a self-heal. We have some options as talents, but they're also not that great, as outlined previously.

Also, if you compare monks to every other class that can tank, Windwalker is the only tanking-capable-class that has DPS spec that does not have a tanking stance/threat modifier available.
  • Retribution Paladins have Righteous Fury
  • Death Knights have Blood Presence
  • Feral Druids have Bear Form
  • Warriors have Defensive Stance

This may not be a big issue at first, but when you have fights like Will of the Emperor, that semi-tanking ability proves useful. Strengths are often tanked by DPS in a tanking stance. Why bother having stances at all if they're only available with the appropriate spec? Should have eliminated it altogheter and set it baseline for each spec. The 3 stances (Tiger,Ox,Serpent) should be available at all times.

Fists of Fury is bugged

Currently, our strongest secondary stat is haste. One of the benefits of stacking haste is increasing your energy regeneration. In order not to cap energy during Fists of Fury, Blizzard made it so the channeling time is also reduced. This was the correct decision, HOWEVER, when you reach a certain amount of haste your Fists of Fury loses a tick, and instead of having 5 ticks during the channeling, you only have 4. This makes it so FoF is probably not worth using at all.

Combo breaker is a terrible mastery

Again, Windwalker's strongest secondary stat is haste. The main reason to stack haste is to have more energy to use abilities, and haste should stay our strongest stat until we are close to being GCD-capped. The problem is that our mastery interaction with that concept is bad, because in order to benefit from our mastery, we need open GCDs in our rotation. And since they are completely random, they often happen in situations where you will inevitably cap energy. And, by stacking haste, you are automatically getting more procs, since you are using jab more often. So wasting secondary stats on mastery is useless and should be avoided at all costs. This needs a redesign urgently.

Our mastery resembles Retribution Paladin's original mastery pre-4.0.6, which was terrible and everyone warned Blizzard about it. It was later changed and Retribution was viable once again.

Windwalker is a melee that has no melee benefits because of Fists of Fury

Melee are becoming weaker overall compared to ranged for a while now, since Blizzard started giving all ranged a lot of mobility. Most classes have abilities to use while moving, and since ranged to dot have the positional requirement that melee have, they're overall a better option on most encounters. Still, melee still have higher mobility, however our signature spell, Fists of Fury, is a channeling spell that requires you to stand still, thus removing the only advantage melee have to ranged in this game.

Fists of Fury also splits damage between every enemy in range, instead of increasing it. Therefore not only you do not do additional damage, but also can't focus one mob down if you want to, making it a non-option for either AoE or focusing down a mob among others. The stun is often also not desired. Fists of Fury is a terrible design idea for a melee DPS.

Zem Meditation is a bad raid cooldown

Zen Medidation seems very useful as a raid cooldown, but it really isn't. I couldn't find any good situation to use it as one. It has lots of uses as a PERSONAL cooldown, but not for your raid.

Our set bonuses are terrible

Looking at set bonuses from other classes, our set bonuses are completely terrible. The 2-piece is close to useless, and the 4-piece is not too bad, but if you compare to other classes, it just feels incredibly undertuned.
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90 Pandaren Monk
Windwalker monks by encounter

Here I will show the strengths and weakness of the spec in each encounter in Heroic Mogushan Vaults, and provide more info on how Fists of Fury is bad design and our 2-piece set bonus is very bad.

Stone Guards
  • Heavy movement with moderate target switching.
  • Fist of Fury - Considering you have to move a lot due to amethyst pools, ice traps and tank movement, etc, you often have to not use it. 2-piece = useless.
  • We have 0 cleave.
  • Warriors have cleave, Sweeping Strikes.
  • Rogues have Blade Flurry.
  • DKs spread diseases / Howling Blast.
  • Ret paladins maintain Censure / off-judgement with glyph.
  • Ferals maintain bleeds on 2 targets.
  • Enhance have Chain Lightning and maybe something else, I'm not too familiar with Enhance post-5.0.

Feng The Accursed
  • Fists of Fury usage suffers depending on strategy, but it's mostly ok. You may have to delay it if you get Wildfire Spark, non-interrupted/non-shielded Epicenter or to AoE during the shield phase.
  • Straightfoward single-target fight, Spinning Crane Kick is good for shield phases, Leg Sweep as well.

Garaj'al the Spiritbinder
  • Touch of Karma is great for Voodoo Dolls. Monk is not the best for spirit realm but it's not bad either compared to other melees. Ranged are are a far better option anyway.
  • Other than that, straightfoward single-target fight.

Spirit Kings
  • Melees are terrible for this fight in general.
  • Fists of Fury - Awful, 2-piece is useless. You often have to delay or break it due to almost any mechanic in the fight.
  • Spinning Crane Kick is good for Maddening Shout.
  • Touch of Karma/Diffuse Magic is great for Cowardice.

  • Monks are great for soaking Celestials with Diffuse Magic/Zen Medidation + Flying Serpent Kick and TRanscendence.
  • Fist of Fury cannot be used on energies, which are arguably the most important aspect of this fight. Regardless, we do good damage there, like most melees.

Will of the Emperor
  • Zen Meditation/Diffuse Magic/Dampen Harm are great for soaking Titan Sparks.
  • Fists of Fury is terrible, you cannot use it during Devastating Combos, or to kill Courages.
Edited by Pandoya on 11/3/2012 2:05 PM PDT
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90 Pandaren Monk
This is my take on the current state of Windwalker. Currently Windwalker DPS is not great, but it's not bad either, but I feel that we're going to fall behind by the end of this tier. And since we do not offer great utility to the raid, it's much better to bring a Feral, DK, Warrior, Rogue or Ret.

I hope this brings the spec problems to Blizzard's attention.
Edited by Pandoya on 11/1/2012 12:47 PM PDT
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87 Draenei Monk
The 3 stances (Tiger,Ox,Serpent) should be available at all times.

Amen. This whole "you have stances, but they are only available if they are your main stance" thing makes absolutely 0 sense and just serves to destroy the classe's potential utility.
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100 Undead Monk
" Spinning Crane Kick is good for shield phases, Leg Sweep as well." please explain.
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91 Worgen Death Knight
11/01/2012 11:46 AMPosted by Malkieri
The 3 stances (Tiger,Ox,Serpent) should be available at all times.

Amen. This whole "you have stances, but they are only available if they are your main stance" thing makes absolutely 0 sense and just serves to destroy the classe's potential utility.

agreed if they're only avail to the respective spec then they might as well just remove em and make the effect a passive
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90 Pandaren Monk
11/01/2012 11:48 AMPosted by Gertsferds
" Spinning Crane Kick is good for shield phases, Leg Sweep as well." please explain.

On Heroic mode Feng has an additional phase where he has a shield. He then throws his shield on the ground and shadow clones of players spawn. You have to kill those adds before they reach the shield. They can be slowed and stunned.
Edited by Pandoya on 11/1/2012 12:46 PM PDT
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90 Pandaren Monk
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80 Human Priest
Well for PvP...

Windwalkers need Dematerialize and Ox Stance badly especially since our CRAPTASTIC, DOG CRAP healing is getting nerfed because MW are OP in PvE.

We are going to be even worse defensively then we already are which is pretty terrible as is.
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70 Undead Warlock
Loved the idea and playstyle of a monk but after playing it for a few weeks the design flaws were just too huge for me personally, I switched to my rogue for the time being.

FoF should be a self buff that works independent of your rotation, the stun should be removed and it should be useable while moving for example, it would just be a buff, you use it it happens and doesn't effect your rotation or movement at all, you can cast all other spells while using it. This would solve two problems, one PvP would actually have a burst spell and two it wouldn't be such a useless PoS in PvE.

I fully agree, the monk class as it stands right now just isn't right. Short sighted design decisions have left it feeling half finished and clunky.

Also why every stance isn't available to every spec is completely beyond me, it feels so badly designed, almost like an alpha class.
Edited by Defury on 11/2/2012 10:56 PM PDT
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100 Draenei Shaman
Trying to summarize here since we've covered these points in great detail over the past few months of live and beta.

L30 Talents
I've spoken extensively on the L30 talents before, so I won't go into detail here. Suffice it to say that Chi Wave is the only good one, and it's only worth using solo. Note that all the L30 talents are being nerfed in 5.1, probably because Chi Burst in particular was pretty good for Mistwalkers, but this makes them even worse for WW. And of course since they cost Chi and Brewmasters have zero to spare, the entire tier is flat-out useless for monk tanks.

The changes in 5.1 are welcome, but increasing energy regen when WW is already GCD-capped in T14H gear is not a great idea, unless the devs already plan to fix WW mastery or address GCD-capping elsewhere.

GCD Capping
Speaking of which, as proven near the end of the beta, WW is GCD-capped in T14, right around the transition between T14N and T14H gear. The spec's most valuable secondary stat is haste, WW mastery consumes GCDs, and Ascendence increases energy regen. Something has to give. I think we all know that this is going to be fixed sooner or later. Please, please don't nerf base energy regen. Fix mastery, fix ascendence, change energizing brew. Don't nerf base energy regen. The spec plays terribly at 8.3 energy/sec.

L60 Talents
Has anyone ever picked anything in PvE other than Leg Sweep? Leg Sweep is awesome. Deadly Reach is PvP-only (mobs aggro at 20yds, thanks) and Charging Ox Wave is an inferior version of Leg Sweep.

L90 Talents
The OP has it completely right. Nobody has found a real use for Chi Torpedo, and Rushing Jade Wind is AE only.

Fists of Fury
As predicted in beta, monk players hate FoF. Please consider changing it. At the very minimum, allow movement while channeling the ability. Ideally it would be rebuilt into something useful and fun.

This also makes the 2 piece WW set bonus the worst in the history of WoW. It sims at a 0.08% DPS increase. That is not a typo. I didn't mean to say 8%, or 0.8%. It is worth eight hundredths of one percent.

The Toolkit
The WW toolkit is highly restricted. Much more than any other DPS spec.

WW can't kite, or AE snare. It has no raid-wide offensive cooldowns. Its only defensive raid cooldown only works on 5 targets and also essentially pacifies the caster. It cannot cleave or multidot.

It has no utility raid cooldowns like runspeed, or survivability cooldowns like warriors' short-duration health shout or mass shield reflection, or damage raid cooldowns like stormlash totem or the crit warrior banner.

It can't switch to emergency off-tank, because it doesn't have the tank stance or stagger/shuffle. It can't switch to emergency off-heal either, because it doesn't have the healing abilities or stance (and the L30 talents don't heal enough and cost too much to be effective).

It can't offensively dispel, or root, or snare out of melee range, or slow casting, or remove enrages, or defensively dispel, or remove snares/roots on friendlies. No battle res, or healthstone equivalent. No PvE CC; even talented paralysis only has a 20yd range.

WW have no "big" cooldowns, no equivalent of army of the dead, or recklessness, or adrenaline rush, or rapid fire, or icy veins, or fire elemental totem, or summon doomguard, etc.

All WW can do is AE stun, and lots of specs have that in their toolkit, because it's essentially required for challenge modes.

It feels like an incomplete spec. And we know why it is that way, because you didn't want monks to dominate PvP in a new expansion in a repeat of the DK debacle. That's fine.

But now the expansion is out, and it's time to buff WW up to at least rough parity. Not in raw numbers, those are low (according to raidbots parses) but not the root of the problem. WW needs more tools.

I started off trying to keep this short and obviously failed. Hey, crazy long MMO forum posts, amirite?
Edited by Slant on 11/2/2012 11:42 PM PDT
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100 Night Elf Warrior

L30 Talents
And of course since they cost Chi and Brewmasters have zero to spare, the entire tier is flat-out useless for monk tanks.

This isn't anywhere close to being true. Tanks use the level 30 talents all the time. Have you tried them with high vengeance?

There are many situations where a level 30 talent will heal MUCH MUCH more than shuffle will prevent. Not necessarily just on the monk (though there are situations you can ensure that chi wave bounces to you almost every time) but on the raid. Certainly on Feng, when the boss has been taunted off me and we are stacked for healing draw flame damage, I'm going to take the opportunity to fire off chi bursts that can do over 600k healing each than blackout kick, and there are times where doing something like that even while being attacked is worthwhile (stone guard is an example, because most of their damage is the bleed and while you can stagger it, you generally get more mileage out of healing rather than putting some of the dot into a different dot). Not to mention tank swapping fights where you can build up a big shuffle duration before you taunt and use them without even dropping shuffle at all.
Edited by Asthas on 11/3/2012 12:18 AM PDT
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85 Worgen Hunter
One thing I would add.

Monks in general feel like they don't bring enough buffs/debuffs to the table, especially when compared to our closest analog, feral druids. (They bring everything we can, and so much more.)

My monk wishlist would include us getting the Weakened Armor debuff.
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100 Draenei Shaman
11/03/2012 12:15 AMPosted by Asthas
There are many situations where a level 30 talent will heal MUCH MUCH more than shuffle will prevent. Not necessarily just on the monk (though there are situations you can ensure that chi wave bounces to you almost every time) but on the raid.

That's the problem right there. You can certainly do more total healing if you include raid healing. But healing isn't your job, and compromising survivability to heal the raid isn't a worthwhile tradeoff in the vast majority of situations. And of course 600k healing spread out between multiple players isn't impressive when the DPS all have 370k health pools.

Your point about offtanking is completely valid, though. If you aren't actively tanking the boss, you can and should spare the Chi to raid heal. The L30 talents aren't completely useless for BrM. They're not great either, though.
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Make fists of fury a 10 (ish) second self buff that makes all your attacks cleave. Interesting mechanic, still useful. Done.

I used to like FoF because when leveling, I didn't have the energy regeneration needed to always have something to do. FoF was great for those moments when you didn't have a lot of energy, so you spend a few seconds channeling and watching your bar go back up. Now, between mastery and the energy tea (and chi brew now and possibly ascension in 5.1), those moments are exceedingly rare.

I do disagree a bit on the haste-as-best-stat thing. If haste were the absolute best stat, you wouldn't have that complaint about the mastery thing eating GCDs. As it is, mastery provides you something to do. If you can GCD cap with mastery procs and haste regen, you clearly don't need more haste.
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100 Draenei Shaman
There's nothing to disagree with. Point for point haste is the most valuable stat with obtainable (T14H) gear, even when you hit GCD cap. This has been proven by simulation, the only way to determine gear weights.
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100 Night Elf Warrior
I wholeheartedly disagree about 600k healing for a GCD being unimpressive considering you can fire them off pretty quickly and that there is nothing a healer can do in one GCD that doesn't have an extremely long cooldown to do 600k healing in one shot. For Feng in particular, I also take Chi Torpedo because it also does surprisingly large healing with vengeance, and most of his big attacks are channels where the raid stacks up, leaving me free to torpedo through them a couple times.

Chi waves that heal for ~70-80k non-crit are pretty normal, and those can be pretty good for saving someone that is dying, especially in melee range. Again, healers can't do much more in most circumstances in a single GCD. No, you don't get to single handedly heal the raid, but the contributions are still useful.

Without really even going super far out of my way to maximize healing, I've done 30k+ hps for the encounter on Feng through healing mostly when I'm not even being attacked by healing during his big AoE abilities. You can't honestly tell me that the healers don't notice that, especially given that that resulted in me healing more damage than I took for the entire encounter and that healing was concentrated into times where the raid could benefit from it most. That is somewhat a special situation, but I don't think there is a fight in the game where a BrM should write off level 30 talents, though usage varies. Closest thing that comes to mind is Garalon, but only because that fight keeps vengeance extremely low and the heals remain anemic.

Admittedly this thread is about WW, but you are the first person I've ever seen describe the level 30 talents as anything near useless for BrM. Over on the tank forums we talk about using them fairly regularly, not as some nigh useless tool we pull out for gimmicks. Blackout kick is certainly the default chi spender, but reasons to use the level 30 talents come up much more often than the blue moon.
Edited by Asthas on 11/3/2012 12:14 PM PDT
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90 Human Monk
Its pretty easy to get shuffle to gradually increase over the course of the fight until its at 30 seconds or so. At that point, using BoK does nothing but sustain it longer when it probably won't fall off in the first place, while you could fire a Chi wave and heal a good 50% of your HP in heroics. Can't imagine how great it could be with raid level vengeance.

Bouncing to others isn't really as big of a deal as you'd think - If you are seriously dying, then its going to bounce back to you and if you aren't, its probably better spent on a DPS that is neglected by the healer. The only circumstance that it wouldn't is if several party members are all in critical health.
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100 Draenei Shaman
If you need the mitigation you won't spend Chi on a L30. If you're not in danger of dying (trivial content) or not actively tanking the boss, you would of course use them. What else are you going to spend excess Chi on, breath of fire?

Shuffle only lasts 6s, so it costs 0.333 Chi/sec just to maintain. I haven't seen any BrM sims, but WW generates 0.69 Chi/sec in T14N. That's with tiger stance and WW reforges to haste so BrM should be a bit lower, but assuming it's the same you can easily stack Shuffle if you only spend Chi on BoK. But you also need to constantly purifying brew and guard every 30s.

If you say it gradually increases on most encounters I can buy that. I haven't raid tanked on my monk. But it'll take awhile, and if you take a couple bad hits you'll need to purify more and drop that shuffle duration.

Anyway, this was supposed to be a WW thread.
Edited by Slant on 11/3/2012 1:01 PM PDT
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