It’s been a while since I last did anything besides some encounter tips for this site and community. I wanted to get back to something more general, that could last for more than a few weeks.

This was a recent post from blizzard answering one of the very many “windwalker scales badly” posts. The post makes some correct points but doesn’t explain them well enough to wipe most of the complaints. I wanted to make a post looking further into weapon damage, agility, secondaries to try and increase the awareness about these things and maybe remove a few legends about it.

What is weapon damage?

There are plenty of things around in tooltips that are quite hard for most people to grasp. One of these is average weapon damage. If you look into some wiki, you’ll find this information:

-Spells that scale of weapon damage will show a fix value in their tooltip but their damage will range as much as the weapon’s damage range;
-The formula to get the average weapon damage is based upon the weapon’s damage range and it’s attack speed;
-Off-hand weapons count, but only at 50% of their value:
-A great deal of the average weapon damage comes directly from your attack power, and therefore, from your agility;

This information is usually a bit ignored. Did you know by the way, that if a tool tip says 2250%, it means 2250% of normalized weapon damage, whereas if it was of attack power you would read 750% of attack power for instance?
Unless you’re into theorycrafting a fair bit, you probably didn’t know of this convention.

Prior to patch 7.0, people usually had a weapon of an item level rather close to their overall item level. Of course, most classes put a lot of emphasis on getting their highest item level available weapons (with bonus rolls and the likes) so this was not totally true, but this is not true anymore.

Since legion hit, people have access to their artifact weapons, and with three relics, the weapon ilvl is usually significantly higher than their overall item level, wether they hunt for relics or not.

This has a direct impact with the way scaling and spell damage. For instance, if my memory serves me right, if you have a weapon of item level 700 and an overall item level of 700, normalized weapon damage usually meant that a spell doing 750% of attack power dealt roughly the same amount as a spell doing 750% of normalized weapon damage.
Obviously this isn’t true to compare overall item level with weapon item level since your average item level doesn’t only reflect your amount of primary stats (you could have very high item level jewelry, which do not reward primary stats, for instance.)

However since your weapon can be of a level way higher than the rest of your kit, this changes the impact of weapon item level a bit.

Why is this important? For a spell scaling on weapon damage, gaining weapon ilvl grants a significative boost in damage. For a spell that scales on attack power, it grants only the gain from the primary stats gained by the weapon (which is usually very small.)
This also means a spell scaling on weapon damage gains LESS from your overall item level gain. This is very relevant.

So what about windwalker scaling?

Well this leads directly to windwalker’s scaling.
Windwalker’s spells, for the most part, do not scale upon normalized weapon damage. Here’s how they scale, disregarding secondary stats for now:

-Normalized weapon damage: strike of the windlord, melee hits
-Health: touch of death, touch of karma
-Attack power: litterally everything else

For the rest of this article, I will adopt the convention that normalized weapon spells scale 40% proportionally to your weapon and 60% proportionally to your agility/attack power. Wether this is an appropriate approximation or not doesn’t really matter. Obviously with the way stats/numbers do not scale linearly with item level this is not necessarily a sustainable approximation by any means.

With this in mind, if we assume touch of death+touch of karma is 5% of your overall damage (it’s a bit higher) and strike of the windlord + melee hits is 10% of your overall damage (it’s a bit higher as well usually, this is overall like a dungeoning scenario), then:
-91% of your damage is proportional to your attack power
-4% of your damage is proportional to your actual weapon damage
-5% of your damage is proportional to your health pool, which is related to overall item level pretty tightly

This is absolutely huge. Looking at a top demon hunter parse on some single target fight will teach you that allmost every single one of their spells scale off weapon damage. Even some of the key AoE spells scale of weapon damage. On single target, around 95% of their damage scales off normalized weapon damage, and 3% from attack power directly. Of course this might not be optimal or could be subject to change, but as I write this it’s the case in top logs.

What does this mean?
If a monk gains 10% agility, he will gain around 9% damage single target, whereas if a demon hunter gains 10% agility, he will gain only around 6% damage. This is not completely accurate for every situation but quite grasps the idea.
On the other hand, if your weapon gains 10% weapon damage, the monk will gain around 0.5% damage, whereas the demon hunter will gain around 3.8% damage.

As you can see, if you add things up and take into account stamina will increase the remaining damage of the monk, if your whole kit gains item level, both classes will probably gain the same amount of dps overall, which is what blizzard meant in that blue post. However, it also means you gain more dps if you’re gaining item level on most of your pieces as your monk than as your demon hunter.

TL;DR: give ilvl/trinket upgrades to your monk, relics to your demon hunter? :thinking:

What about relics?

As many of you will have guessed by now, this is directly related to why monks are stacking fists of fury relics and demon hunters are looking at their metamorphosis off cooldown for 15 seconds before nemesis comes up: one class cares about relic item level, the other one doesn’t.

Blizzard naively tried to have everyone’s trait be about the same value. This meant most people gained roughly similar dps from filling out their artifact trees. However, this didn’t translate evenly into relics.

An average “good” trait grants about 1% dps increase for the first trait. If fists of fury is 25% of your damage, you have 4 traits in fists of the wind and add a relic to get 5 traits into it, you’re increase Fists of Fury damage by 1.25/1.2 so 4.17% which means you gain around 1.04% damage. This is one of our very best traits by a long shot.
If you look at a demon hunter’s best single target trait, critical chaos, it grants 6% critical damage to your first and second sources of damage (which add up to 50% of your damage on single target, 70% of which is from crits). This means critical chaos affects around 35% of your damage and is in single target around 1.7% damage on pure single target.

However, monk is ready to drop up to 7 item levels for that trait whereas the demon hunter would barely go up to 3 item level. Why is that when the trait is so powerful? Well, mostly because of what we just looked at: the windwalker barely loses anything from that item level loss, whereas the demon hunter loses something very important.

What about secondaries?

This is where people usually really complain about windwalker let’s first get rid of the elephant in the room: normalized stats weights.

What is normalized stats weights? It’s the value you get when simming your character and normalizing your secondary stats gains by dividing them by your primary stat’s value.
This is a very good tool when comparing item level to gains from switching secondaries; however it’s misleading when comparing these values from one spec to another.
As we saw previously, a windwalker’s agility value is around 60% stronger than a demon hunter’s agility. Therefore if you divide your stats by agility, you’ll find out that a demon hunter’s normalized stats weights can easily be 50-70% higher than that of windwalkers.
Therefore, it’s pretty pointless to compare secondary stats normalized values across specs.

What can we use to actually complain then?
Versatility is probably the best we have. Haste is quite unique for most specs and usually bad for energy based classes. Mastery is on a spec by spec basis. Critical chance has specific values for many classes, for instance demon hunters.

Versatility is arguably usually the same for most specs: it increases most of your damage. It is probably worse for windwalkers than for most if not all other specs as it doesn’t affect touch of death and karma and therefore is 5% worse than for others.

What we can see is that as soon as you have around 6-9 thousands critical rating and mastery rating, versatility rating, versatility is probably your next best. You can usually see demon hunters stack an easy 10 thousands critical chance and mastery before they even consider having more versatility. Critical chance is significantly better for them than for us, but then even their mastery becomes better than our best stat, our own mastery.

It’s very hard to value secondary stats scaling across different specs, however it’ not hard to see that windwalker isn’t too lucky with that.
Our traits aren’t that strong up until now: fists of the wind is only that strong because weapon item level is that bad, other classes often have as strong/stronger traits (re: critical chaos). If you compare our mastery to that of many other classes who stack it, it’s not even that good.

Last but not least, haste has very specific issues, which probably deserve their own article, which I could write if people show interest and I have the time.

TL;DR: it is unfair to use the decimal numbers in simcraft to say your class has bad secondary scaling; however, it is true that windwalker probably deserves slightly better treatment in that department.


This was a pretty long article with very little actual content, but I hope it will help clarify the situation and what blizzard meant with that blue post.
What we can conclude there is that windwalker has tigher itemization for most pieces as you’re likely to just stack item level, but you have way more room to chose your relics.
We should also be happy about the new 500 primary stats feast, as this was undeniably a boost to our beloved kung-fu class!