After a raid opens, there is always questions about how a spec is performing compared to other specs, whether it needs buffs or nerfs, whether its strong or not, and more. Unfortunately these questions are regularly met with answers that don’t really have basis in data and facts, but are based on feelings and anecdotal evidence. I have always tried to fight these answers with ones based on data, so with the start of this new raid I thought I’d give a look into how Windwalkers performed this first week and a few other common questions. All the data that I will be getting for this article will be coming from the statistics available on WarcraftLogs and my own, rather extensive, historical data. I’m sure there will be some disagreements over my methods or my data or my penchant for being OK with “statistically average”, but this is what I’ve always done. There are a few caveats that are important to consider in these numbers as there’s always some biases when taking this kind of data. A spec that appears to be SUPER low may just be the result of the majority of players playing the better spec of that same class, forcing the average of the higher spec up and the lower spec(s) down, similarly a small number of highly skilled individuals can skew the appearance of a spec that is normally “lesser”. Other things like negative community perception, access to gear, and overall population, can affect how a spec looks compared to others. This data was all taken before there was some class tuning, so the charts may not look the same at the end of next week.
What I’ll be trying to answer with this article is:
- Windwalker Population vs other specs
- Windwalker Overall Damage
- Windwalker Boss Damage
- Touch of Karma Damage
There may be other topics that I cover in a future article, just depends on how much time I have and whether I’m able to win some ground against this cold I’m fighting.
So the first thing that I like to look at is how Windwalkers compare to other specs in terms of numbers. Currently, as of the writing of this article, there were 69,611 Windwalker parses on Normal out of a total of 1,737,532 parses, meaning that on Normal difficulty, Windwalkers make up 4.01% of the parses, placing them 9th of 24 specs and 5th amongst Melee. Similarly, on Heroic difficulty, Windwalkers were 19,849 of 512,602 parses for 3.87% of all the parses, placing us 10th of 24 specs and 6th for Melee.
This can be compared with past data for a picture of how Windwalker has changed over the years. In Antorus, Windwalkers were the 5th most played spec and 3rd most played Melee at roughly 6.42% of Heroic parses, which is obviously much higher than it is now. However, 3.87% is still higher than any other time in Windwalker’s history, outside of Antorus. The highest population % before Antorus was in Emerald Nightmare during 7.0-7.1 when Windwalkers were 3.5% of the parses, and ToV 7.0-7.1 where Windwalkers were 3.15% of the parses.
Similarly, in Normal, the 4.01% of parses that Windwalkers have now pale in comparison to the 6.31% in Antorus, but are still reasonably ahead the pre-Antorus best of EN and ToV during 7.0-7.1 where Windwalker was 3.42% and 3.31% of parses, respectively.
When looking at class data, Windwalkers are 2nd to last in class population for DPS, with only Priests below. Mages are currently winning with 13.35% of the parses on Heroic and 14.03% on Normal, with Hunters coming up second from the top. This is a little different from Antorus where Warlocks were on top and Monks were 3rd from the bottom, with Shaman and Priests below.
While more data over the next few weeks will certainly see more data, this shows that the Windwalker population took a pretty big dive as many of the FOTM rerollers jumped to the next FOTM spec which appear to be Beast Mastery Hunters and Frost Mages which both saw their overall % of parses increase by 4-5%, with Frost Mage’s representation nearly doubling. However, the Windwalker population is currently bigger than any time outside of Antorus, so not everyone who switched in Antorus, switched away, and I’m happy to have you.
As I said in the opening, this is frequently an important thing that people look at when choosing a class or basing their opinions on how a class is relative to other classes. However, often this is based simply on the order of the colored bars and not on a real understanding on how to look at this data. Players tend to completely ignore the statistical measures that you should use to compare these data and prefer to simply look at the colors.
When someone comes in and asks “Is Windwalker doing OK” or similar questions, they are typically looking for the answer to “Is Windwalker one of the best?”. These questions are pretty much completely different. When Blizzard talks about “class balance” they are almost certainly using statistical measures to compare specs and see which ones are outliers and need changes and which ones are mostly “fine”.
When looking at the statistics of the WarcraftLogs data, I mainly look at whether or not Windwalkers are within the “average range”. This is the range, above and below the average that is considered statistically “good enough”. Specs that fall outside this range would be considered “above average” or “below average”. Over the years, Blizzard has gotten much better with increasing the amount of specs that are within the average range, as there’s frequently only 2-3 specs that fall above this range, and another 2-3 that fall below. I’ve used this data to, somewhat accurately, predict the magnitude of buffs or nerfs that a spec will receive. I’m not 100% accurate, but I’ve had a few good predictions.
When I look at the data for raids, I like to look at it at the 95th, 75th, and 50th percentile as I feel that these give a good account of players who are average to above average, giving a good look at the spec as a whole. I am going to look at Uldir as whole rather than each boss as that may be a job for another day. Understand that these are imperfect as as spec that excels at one fight but is slightly below average on others may average higher than a spec that average slightly above average. However, this is what most people give a quick glance at when they form their opinions, so I like to look at that data.
As you can see above, there’s over 500,000 parses available after one week, which provides a good sample size to draw some conclusions.
When looking at this data, you can see that Windwalkers are toward the middle. Which, isn’t a bad place to be when it comes to avoiding nerfs and not needing buffs.
At the 95th percentile, Windwalkers are 10th of 24 specs, and 7th of the Melee. The 95th percentile Windwalker parse is 12,817 DPS, compared to the mean of 12,537.85 DPS. Windwalker is 2.18% above the average and 0.34 Standard Deviations (SD) above the mean. There are 4 specs that fall more than 1 SD above the mean, Outlaw (+1.72 SD), Subtlety (+1.43 SD), Beast Mastery (+1.16 SD), and Affliction (+1.06 SD). Feral (-1.1 SD), Shadow (-1.21 SD), Demonology (-1.42 SD), and Fire (-1.99 SD) are all at least 1 SD below the mean and thus considered below average.
At 75th percentile, the order is largely the same, with Windwalker at 10th of 24 specs and 8th of Melee. A 75th percentile Windwalker parse of 11,302 DPS is 0.97% and 0.16 SD above the average of 11,192.92 DPS. The same 4 specs are statistically above average, and Shadow just skates in at -1 SD below the mean, with Demo, Feral, and Fire below.
The 50th percentile finds Windwalker fall to 11th of 24 specs and 9th of Melee. The “average range” is a little bit narrower at this percentile with the 50th percentile parse of Windwalker at 10,205 DPS is only 0.47% and 0.07 SD above the average of 10,157 DPS. Demo, Feral, and Fire remain the 3 below average specs, although Shadow managed to rise up a few more spots. This time the number of specs above the average range is much larger at 6: Beast Mastery, Outlaw, Subtlety, Affliction, Assassination, and Havoc.
Even better than Heroic, Normal has over 1.7 million parses available to draw conclusions from.
Just like Heroic, Windwalkers are popping up near the middle of the group.
At the 95th percentile, Windwalkers are 10th of 24 specs and 8th for Melee. The 95 percentile Windwalker parse of 11,672 DPS is 2.32% and 0.3 SD above the average of 11,401 DPS. The same culprits are at the top and bottom, with Subtlety, Outlaw, Affliction, Havoc, and Beast Mastery being higher than 1 SD above the mean, and Demonology, Fire, and this time Destruction Warlocks, also falling 1 SD below the mean.
75th percentile sees Windwalkers fall to 11th of 24 specs and 9th for Melee. The 75th percentile Windwalker parse of 9,888 DPS is 1.99% and 0.25 SD above the average of 9,692 DPS. Sub, Outlaw, BM, and Aff are all still above average, and Destro, Feral, Demo, and Fire are all below average.
50th percentile Windwalkers fall back at the 10th for all specs and 9th for Melee. A 50th percentile Windwalker at 8,643 DPS is 1.71% and 0.21 SD above the average of 8,495 DPS. Survival joins the usual 4 specs above the average range, and Marksmanship falls into the bottom 5 below the average range.
What this data shows is that, while it would be great to see Windwalker toward the higher end of the average range, or even slightly above, Windwalker’s damage is, statistically, in an OK place, not bad, but not overly good either. There’s really nothing wrong with this position, as we are technically above the average, even if slightly.
Historically this has been an up and down metric for Windwalkers, as we typically are either AOE specialists of burst ST specialists. Right now, with the advent of the Swift Roundhouse builds, Windwalkers tend to fall into each category separately, but not at the same time. We can provide strong ST burst with Swift Roundhouse and Serenity or decent AOE sustain with Whirling Dragon Punch and Rushing Jade Wind. Boss damage can be a good metric for looking at specs and how they compare in a single target environment, or at the damage that, at the end of the day, is most important to killing the boss.
These parses are much more stable, with Windwalkers maintaining a position as 7th of 24 specs and 5th for Melee. Windwalkers are 4.44% and 0.63 SD above the mean at 95th percentile, 3.24% and 0.44 SD above the mean at 75th percentile, and 2.28% and 0.3 SD above the mean at 50th percentile. Subtlety, Affliction, and Assassination hold their spots being above average at all 3 percentiles, Survival pops above average at 75th percentile and Beast Mastery jumps in at 50th percentile. Subtlety managed to be a real outlier, holding a spot over 2 SD above the mean, topping out at 14.82% above the mean at the 95th percentile. Demonology, Destruction, Shadow, and Fire all fall below average at the 95th percentile, Shadow and Fire at the 75th percentile, and Fire has the dubious spot of being the only spec below the average range at the 50th percentile.
Windwalker’s position in Normal is mostly the same as Heroic, staying at the 7th spot for all specs and 5th for Melee. Windwalkers range from 4.51% and 0.51 SD above the mean at the 75th percentile down to 4.1% and 0.45 SD above the mean at the 50th percentile, with the 95th percentile falling right in between. Subtlety continues its overwhelming reign of the top spot with 18.14% and 2.43% above the mean at the 95th percentile, all the way down to 16.33% and 2.03 SD above the mean a the 50th percentile. Affliction starts at 1.85 SD above the mean at 95th percentile and jumps above Subtlety at the 50th percentile with 2.17 SD above the mean. It continues to be a tough time for Destruction, Demonology, and Fire as they all continue to fall below the average range.
Windwalkers are certainly stronger at boss damage than we are at overall damage, currently. This is largely due to Swift Roundhouse and Serenity being strong and our strongest two damage abilities, Touch of Death and Touch of Karma being purely single target. Which brings me to my last topic…
Touch of Karma
If you’ve been around, you’ve heard many complaints about the amount of damage that Touch of Karma does for us and the playstyle that it fosters, where you want to risk your life and purposefully take damage, or even taunt the boss in order to maximize its benefit. One, fully justified, concern is that Windwalkers will be balanced with a certain amount of Touch of Karma assumed, and anyone who can get above that number will appear OP, and anyone below it will appear lacking. That is why its important to put all the above data into context and see how much Touch of Karma damage it has required for us to reach where we are compared to other specs.
I’ll do this by looking at the top 10 parses of each Heroic boss and looking at how much of their damage was Touch of Karma. Obviously a larger sample size would be better, but its getting late, I don’t feel great, and I’ve already typed over 2200 words.
- Taloc – Average: 11.37%, Highest: 12.85%, Lowest: 9.94%
- MOTHER – Average: 9.85%, Highest: 15.63%, Lowest: 2.87%
- Fetid Devourer – Average: 9.28%, Highest: 13.44%, Lowest: 5.17%
- Zekvos – Average: 10.08%, Highest: 12.34%, Lowest: 7.49%
- Vectis – Average: 7.19%, Highest: 10.59%, Lowest: 2.23%
- Zul – Average: 7.17%, Highest: 11.01%, Lowest: 4.61%
- Mythrax – Average: 6.82%, Highest: 9.74%, Lowest: 4.24%
- G’huun – Average: 8.66%, Highest: 12.51%, Lowest: 5.55%
There’s really not as much variance as I had originally expected. Taloc has the highest average, but also the smallest variance in how much damage Touch of Karma contributed. The highest overall amount of Touch of Karma was 15.63% on MOTHER, but the same boss also gave the 2nd lowest, with only one parse on Vectis going lower, down to 2.23% of overall damage from Touch of Karma. There was little to no correlation between amount of Touch of Karma damage and how high the parse was.
Obviously, the idea that over 15% of your damage can be from Touch of Karma isn’t great, and the fact that to do so means that you have to do some crazy things and go out of your way to ignore mechanics to take more damage is even worse. However, it does somewhat show that you can still perform very well with limited Touch of Karma usage. However, that is likely the exception, not the rule, as theoretically all the parses that had lower Touch of Karma damage could have gotten even higher with more Touch of Karma usage. It shows that even players who play at a high level, may not quite be able to fully take advantage of the damage potential. This means that players who play at a lower level than the best may get less usage out of Touch of Karma or sacrifice damage elsewhere trying to maximize Touch of Karma.
Overall, an ability that is technically classified as a “Defensive”, doesn’t benefit from Mastery, Crit, nor Haste, requires you to purposefully take damage and ignore mechanics being anywhere from 0-16% of your damage is not a great situation for Windwalkers to be in. We continue to be a spec that has very odd mechanics and interactions with our stats and our abilities. If you look at the data from WCL parses toward the top of this article, and take away what was the average of the top 10 parses, 8.8% damage from Touch of Karma, then Windwalker very quickly falls toward the lowest ends of the “average range” and finds itself in the company of Feral, Shadow, Fire, Demo, and Destro, a place where no one wants to be.
Its clear that Touch of Karma fosters an unhealthy (quite literally) style of gameplay, and that currently we are forced to rely on it too much to stay even slightly above average. Hopefully, Blizzard’s data will show the same thing that the WCL data will show and we’ll see something change. However, any change to decrease the amount of damage we get from Touch of Karma should also be met with buffs to compensate, as even removing Good Karma and cutting the damage potential of Touch of Karma in half would require a 5% buff to all other damage in order to simply stay in the same, slightly above the average, place.
Windwalker damage is just about average, don’t expect any buffs or nerfs. However, our damage is too reliant on Touch of Karma to stay at that “slightly above the average” place. The playstyle if forces and the benefit we get from it should justify a change to how it works, but will need to come with a small buff to compensate for Windwalker to just stay in the middle.
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How do you feel about our current class balance, particularly Swift Roundhouse? I briefly checked the damage difference for the #1 azerite trait and the #2 azerite trait for each of the DPS specs (according to bloodmallet Single Target sims) and WW is far and away the class most dependent on it’s best trait alone for DPS (Arcane mage being the closest, but nowhere near as bad). In my opinion this ruins the gearing process and makes me dread getting 90%+ of the azerite gear I receive. Even at a ilvl increase of 30 swapping some of my pieces still comes out to be a substantial DPS decrease due to the trait. With not being able to receive Azerite gear from M+ and there being one SR traited piece in Uldir, it feels like I have no choice but to wait for the luck of the draw in my M+ cache and hope I get the right pieces. In my opinion, SR should receive another nerf and WW should get a flat damage% buff to compensate. The downside to this would be that it would move our AoE which is already solid to possibly too high of a level. Perhaps there needs to be a buff to RSK instead to balance out our ST while maintaining our current AoE numbers?
Nice work, appreciate the time and effort you’ve put into this.
So is serenity in your opinion better for sustained single target damage on bosses than SEF? Even with only one SR trait? The fact that we have 2 stacks of SEF and the use of WDP just seems to me like a better option for more consistent damage output. But i can be wrong. I just don’t feel that serenity outshines the other SEF. Even on single target fights.
Like it says a bunch of other places on this site; they’re just about even with no SR and Serenity pulls ahead with SR.
Wow ok.. the reason i ask is because this was written in another guide “Serenity: Read Wizard Dog’s Serenity Guide, if you have two or more Swift Roundhouse traits, see Advanced: Swift Roundhouse
I thought serenity was only stronger if you had 2 or more SR.
But i guess it’s not the case then.
One SR doesn’t change things enough to pick one over the other.
I mained a WW throughout the vast majority of Legion (Tomb of Sargeras was the exception) and it was my first and only character with which I ever raided on mythic difficulty (reached Vari at end of march before taking a couple months of from WoW). Nevertheless, I told myself during the BFA Beta that I wouldn’t touch this spec on live servers until Blizzard changes the Good Karma talent.
For me personally, WW also has a couple issues I can overlook but Good Karma is an absolute deal breaker for me.
The old artifact trait which gave Touch of Karma a healing aspect would be a good substitute for example (also very easy to implement for Blizzard). This would allow players to choose between better group utility or an improved defensive CD depending on the fight. Those players who seek that very risky playstyle to min-max their dps could still utilize Touch of Karma base damage. Obviously Windwalkers overall damage has to be adjusted with such a change.
I personally refuse to sit around and pray that Blizzard will change their mind (tried it several times in the past and usually just got frustrated). Therefore I have moved on to a different class and haven’t touched my monk since BFA launch. Nevertheless, I still hope I can come back some day because overall I still like Windwalker and I quite miss having Brewmaster and Mistweaver as my off-specs (especially with the MW rework).
We’re rank 1 on simcraft sadly so unlikely for buffs. Ion said he wanted every class to have something unique in BFA and this is it for BFA, being able to soak while dealing more damage for doing so. really cant be bothered to play WW in mythic raids
Blizzard doesn’t really look at SimCraft rankings when they think about comparing specs, they look at actual real-world data.
It’s really disappointing where WW are right now compared to only a couple months ago in Legion. And I’m really only talking about enjoying the class you play. I just don’t have fun playing WW like I had before. I’m not the kind of person who can invest enough time into an alt, so I play WW and WW alone. I really don’t want to change a main like that (dropping monk completely and putting all my time into another class), but I won’t say it has not crossed my mind. I trust Blizzard in the long run, just hope I get to enjoy at least one full raid in BFA by the time Blizz “balances” everything. But as of now, I do not look forward to my raid nights with my guild every week and that’s a shame.
Honestly ww felt kinda tiresome to play at lower ilvl, but once you get around 355 and your gear starts improving, It’s just as fun as legion.