Class Development Post: https://us.battle.net/forums/en/wow/topic/20759151255#1
Part 2: Abilities
This is the most obvious, Strike of the Windlord as given us another ability to spend resources as well as a nice bridge between our AOE and single target abilities. Although I (and probably everyone) would prefer it to goes back to dealing 100% damage to all targets like it was at the start of Legion, its current way of dividing AOE damage is a decent compromise. The addition of Thunderfists provides another dimension of increasing our single target damage during AOE phases, which has been lacking for much of the expansion. If it were to be added as a baseline ability, its cooldown could be scaled with Haste to keep up Haste scaling and provide another ability to our toolkit. Reducing the base CD to 30s would also make it feel like a little bit more of a rotational ability.
In Legion, Spinning Crane Kick went through a change from a Chi builder to a Chi spender. This was a reasonable change as it gave us an AOE Chi spender. With the addition of Mark of the Crane, the damage was balanced around having certain number of stacks, which lead the ability to either be too strong that we drop using all our other Chi spenders in favor of it at a certain number of stacks and targets, or too weak that we ignore it for anything more than a AOE Chi dump.
To some people, this was an interesting mini-game that enabled players who planned well and had high skill to get the most out of the situation. However, for the average, or even above average player, it was frequently a trap that led to overthinking the mechanic, or complicated charts and mental math to determine whether to use Spinning Crane Kick or another ability.
In the future, this ability and mechanic could be improved in some small ways. While I don’t think that the Mark of the Crane mechanic should be scrapped, the tab-target-extravaganza playstyle should be. If one of our AOE abilities like Strike of the Windlord (in addition or in place of Thunderfist) or Fists of Fury would tag targets for Mark of the Crane, in addition to Blackout Kick/Rising Sun Kick/Tiger Palm, it would incentivize well positioned conal-AOE, and provide an easier way to build stacks while still keeping other AOE abilities useful during periods of high stacks. Even Spinning Crane Kick could be added to provide Mark of the Crane stacks, or just set it to any damaging ability to make it simpler. It would be easier, but still not automatic enough to just scrap the idea.
Spinning Crane Kick also used to be a Chi generator, adding one Chi if it hit 3 targets or more. This mechanic could be returned or kept the way it is, as if it built Chi, we’d need a further way to spend it in AOE situations.
Touch of Death was another ability that went through some changes this expansion, moving to an ability that dealt its damage after 8s. This may have been done to facilitate the addition of Gale Burst to replicate the mechanics of the Soul Capacitor.
Moving into the next expansion Gale Burst could be baked in, keeping up the incentive to stack cooldowns into large burst. It could also be made the primary way Touch of Death gains damage; replacing the 50% health with providing damage equal to 50% of the damage dealt during the 8s debuff (or another % thats balanced). This would also enable to Touch of Death damage to scale with Mastery, Versatility, Critical Strike, and Agility; gaining damage increase secondhand from the increased damage that those stats provide to the abilities cast during the 8s. By allowing the cooldown to be reduced by Haste this would mean that Touch of Death scales with all our stats.
Another alternative could be that Touch of Death does the damage over 8s, and explodes for the remaining damage if that damage would kill the target. By turning it into a DoT, it could be allowed to Crit, since the Crits wouldn’t be as enormous as they are with the damage done at the end.
This ability was changed coming into Legion, and is still not without its bugs and problems, largely the ones that affect all pets and guardians. The key to improving this ability would be to work to fix those bugs so that there aren’t situations where the spirits don’t do something because they were out of range, moving too slow, or simply because Storm, Earth, and Fire doesn’t copy things like trinkets.This final point is relatively large as it means that when using Storm, Earth, and Fire, trinkets that do damage aren’t increased the same way they are for other specs or when using Serenity. These things hurt the effectiveness of Storm, Earth, and Fire and are relatively unique in a DPS cooldown not providing DPS increases at times.
One of the biggest requests made by the community is to make t19 2pc baseline, permanently reducing the base cooldown of Rising Sun Kick. The cooldown was increased to 10s for Legion, possibly to allow for another Chi spending ability in Strike of the Windlord or to allow for a tier bonus to reduce it again, which seems like an odd choice. However, the affect that this reduced cooldown had was to increase the frequency of Rising Sun Kick and reduce how frequently we spam Blackout Kick, which made the rotation feel slower and more paced. By making this reduced cooldown baseline it reduces our reliance on Blackout Kick just to rid ourselves of excess Chi and gives us a stronger “feel” with harder hitting abilities more often.
The t20 4pc can also be made baseline, and tuned appropriately. The main benefit of this is the same as making the t19 baseline, more frequent hard hitting abilities, less excess Chi to spam away with Blackout Kick.
Finally, the t20 2pc could be made baseline. In combination with t20 4pc, it provides us some non-linear scaling, with Rising Sun Kick crits giving more Fists of Fury which, in turn, give more chance for Rising Sun Kick to crit, continuing the cycle. This interplay between abilities is something that Windwalkers don’t have, but could use.
Utility – This issue was rarely more prevalent than it was in Tomb of Sargeras, where soaking mechanics were seemingly EVERYWHERE! Windwalkers lost much of our ability to soak large hits with the nerfs to Touch of Karma and Diffuse Magic, as well as the removal of Zen Med at the start of Legion. What little “utility” we had, was in the form of a very short range (10y) movement speed aura that was only noticeable if you had a legendary equipped that provided no further DPS increase, sacrificing personal DPS for marginal, not frequently useful, movement speed. Beyond that Windwalkers do have nearly unparalleled mobility, and had a longer duration instant stun inLeg Sweep, but these “utility” capabilities were rarely as useful or important as things like immunities or soaking.
Although this is minor, Blackout Kick! can be done away with. In a spec built on fluidity and resources; a free, proc based ability often feels more intrusive than useful. Alternatively, it could be given additional utility, such as resetting the cooldown of Rising Sun Kick, as was suggested for the t21 4pc bonus. This wound insure that it feels like a useful proc, and not one that it designed to “break your combo”.
Lastly, we should be able to move when channeling Crackling Jade Lightning, as with the change to Fists of Fury, its only ability that is channeled that we have to remain still to use. Casted abilities requiring you to remain stationary are fine, but Crackling Jade Lightning requiring no movement fees like a leftover from a bygone era. This would also allow the mechanics of the The Emperor’s Capacitor to be reused through the new Azerite system without it feeling intrusive.
- Keep Strike of the Windlord and Thunderfist
- Make Mark of the Crane easier to build
- Tweak Touch of Death so it can benefit from all stats, including Haste and Crit
- Fix problems with Storm, Earth, and Fire
- Make some tier bonuses baseline
- Give us improved raid utility
- Make Crackling Jade Lightning usable while moving