This article has been long coming. It was going to get written last week, but with the announced buffs to a few specs, I wanted to wait till we had the full week’s worth of data after the changes. Now that a week has passed, its time to start parsing through the data. I spent pretty much the whole day putting together all the data I have been collecting over the last 6 weeks. For anyone who doesn’t know, when a new raid tier starts, I collect weekly data for how specs and classes are performing in the raid for as many weeks as I can maintain motivation. I have data going back to the start of Warlords for how classes and specs performed in every raid and every patch, as well as population data. I like this data so when someone says “OMGWTFBBQ WW SUXX”, I can respond with whether or not that’s true based on actual data. Too often people’s opinions of a class and spec are based on the order of the colored bars on WarcraftLogs when the order isn’t relevant if they’re all within a reasonable range.
This article will focus on what the data looks like over the last 6 weeks of Eternal Palace. Obviously, there will be a focus on Windwalker, but I will cover other specs as well.
Before I get into the specifics, I took the time to actually rank all of the specs by various measures so far in AEP. You can find those charts here. However, before you proceed further, I urge you not to just look at the data that follow in this section, but focus more on the AEP Statistics below. This section is entirely devoted to showing things in the absolute terms that people look at them. There’s more nuance to this data, and I’ll endeavor to cut through that nuance further down.
Looking at how specs rank against each other is one thing, but the actual gap between the rankings is whats most important.
All of the data that follows is compiled using WarcraftLogs and looks at the 75th percentile as an indicator of the general power of each class and spec. Yes, that is arbitrary, but I felt that 95th percentile was too high and 50th percentile was too low. Its my data, I’ll compile it the way that I want. 😛
Yes, I know the pictures are blurry. I’m new to this gyazo stuff, so get off my back.
Click here for the Spreadsheet and Charts
Population is always what I like to start with because its a metric that I personally care about more than others. As the leader of the Windwalker and the Monk community, its important to me that the community grows instead of shrinks. Unfortunately, that’s always an uphill battle for Monks, and for Windwalkers. Currently, when compared to other DPS classes, Monk is in its normal place at the bottom of the population list. Windwalkers currently make up 2.01% of all DPS logs and 4.75% of all Melee DPS logs. This is the lowest that Windwalkers have been at in a long time, largely due to the continued negative community perception, and some of the lowest raid DPS that we’ve seen in a long time.
As you can expect, and if you’ve been in any raids you know, the vast majority of melee are either Demon Hunters, Warriors, or Rogues. Indeed, these three classes made up for 73.6% of all Melee parses last week, with DH’s at 25.97%, Warriors at 19.66%, and Rogues at 27.73%. Ranged population stats are a bit more spread out, with all 6 classes being between 11.37% and 20.31% of the ranged parses. This is largely due to the more ranged friendly raid environments we’ve seen all expansion. When Melee spots are less abundant, many people don’t want to waste that spot on anyone but the top performing classes or specs. This takes Windwalker’s typical problem of being underrepresented and beats us over the head with it.
Click here for the Spreadsheet and Charts
This is the comparison that the majority of people look at when they’re thinking about how strong specs are. This is also the area that Windwalker looks a little stronger compared to just looking at population or boss damage. Windwalker is currently the 16th ranked of all 24 specs, 10th of all 12 classes, 10th of all 13 Melee specs, and 8th of all 9 melee classes. As you can see, those ranks aren’t great. Even in the aspect of raiding where we’re “stronger”, Windwalker is still pretty weak. We’re relatively stronger in overall damage because it inches a little bit closer to the environment of multiple targets that make Windwalker one of the top tier classes in M+.
Right now Shadow Priests are just lighting this raid up. It took a week or two for things to settle in, but as more guilds have reached a fight like Queen’s Court, Zaqul, and Azshara that catapults Shadow Priest into the upper echelons of HOLY BALLZ THATS ALOTTA DAMAGE.
On the melee side Fury Warriors, Demon Hunters, and Outlaw are crushing things. Even after their nerf, Outlaw maintained its #2 Melee spot this week, although it lost ground in Boss Damage, dropping from 15th to 19th, which was forseen by just about everyone who theorycrafts for Rogues. Last week’s buffs to Destro Locks, Death Knights, and Arms Warriors certainly did their trick. Although there’s other extenuating factors, they all improved in the logs between this week and the week before. Destro went from the 19th ranked DPS spec to 13th the week before last to 9th last week; Arms went from 24th two weeks ago to 7th last week; and Death Knights saw Frost go from 16th to 6th and Unholy go from 19th to 15th. Again, there’s a lot more to it than strictly the DPS buffs, such as better players feeling more comfortable trying out the “new” spec.
Click here for the Spreadsheet and Charts
This is a statistic that isn’t considered often enough. Raids are, ultimately, all about damaging the bosses. Doing damage to adds that spawn is nice, and occasionally an important part of the fight, but if you don’t have enough damage to the boss, you can’t kill them.
And here’s where the Windwalker train completely derails. Last week, with the buffs to the other underperforming specs, Windwalker fell from the 20th to 23rd of all 24 specs and 13th of 13 Melee specs. Windwalker peaked at #18 for all specs and #9 for Melee. This can entirely be attributed to completely lackluster single target damage and how quickly we drop our single target abilities, Blackout Kick and Rising Sun Kick in favor of our AOE one, Spinning Crane Kick. Dropping at only 2 targets and 3 stacks, or just 3 targets, is a low bar to get people to switch from focusing on the boss to padding on the adds. Windwalker can put out insane burst right now with Touch of Death and Cyclotronic Blast, we’re one of the highest bursting specs in the game. But after that, our damage dips, and it dips LOOOOW, and even with that exceptional burst, on average, Windwalker is scraping the bottom of the barrel of boss damage. With Arms and Death Knights putting up slightly higher numbers, Windwalker is left at the bottom of the Melee
Now, after we get past how rough Boss DPS is for Windwalker, there’s a lot of really interesting things going on with the Boss DPS rankings. For example, Survival Hunter recently jumped from 10th up to 1st. This is almost entirely because a few guilds are trying them out at some of the later bosses. Feral and Enhance are both very respectable at Boss Damage, but how often do you see those anymore? Having alternative specs that are super strong in Overall DPS and are Ranged is just too much for people to play these two specs, even if they’re decent at boss damage. As expected, Frost, Unholy, and Arms all saw increases in their rankings with the buff. Oddly enough, Destro did not, but they had jumped from 22nd to 14th the week before.
This section is, in my opinion, much more important. If the Rankings section is fan-service, this is for the people who actually want to know whats going on.
As above, all of the data that follows is compiled using WarcraftLogs and generally looks at the 75th percentile as an indicator of the power of each class and spec. Yes, that is arbitrary, but I felt that 95th percentile was too high and 50th percentile was too low. Its my data, I’ll compile it the way that I want. 😛
I didn’t start tracking Boss DPS until the 3rd week, mostly due to an oversight on my part as it was something I had done in the past and just forgot to this time around. I also didn’t start really analyzing the data until the 4th week of this raid, and after doing all the work for this article I learned some new tricks that I can use to more easily compile the information in the future. The data here is correct, I can just make it easier on myself in the future.
When I finally got down to analyzing the data, I felt secure in looking at Melee and Ranged simply by class and taking the average and the top spec of each class. This decision was supported by the fact that the majority of players play the higher performing spec. As you can see below, even at the lowest, more than 55% of Death Knights played the highest population spec, largely because they were both crap so it doesn’t matter. For other specs, like Warrior, more than 95% of players played Fury because of the HUGE discrepancy between the two specs. The general thought in Discord is that playing a one-DPS-spec class is hard because you can’t fall back on another spec, and it looks like the data supports that, in general, players will migrate to the higher performing, or more populated spec.
I think its important to define some of the terms that I am going to be using, or at least as I understand them. I’m not a statistician; I had to take Stat 3 times in College, but that’s because the first teacher mixed my midterm grades with another student and told me I had a D when I had a B+, so I dropped it, the second time it was at 8am, so forget that noise, and the 3rd time I got an A.
- Percentile – This is an indication of the strength of the parse. It is the percent of data that one set datum is higher than. So if you’re looking at the 95th Percentile, then you’re looking at the number that is higher than 95% of the data.
- Mean – This is the average. Often, Median is a better sense of the middle of the data, but WCL doesn’t provide the median, and I’m not parsing through every log looking for it.
- Standard Deviation (SD) – This is an indicator of how far a number is away from the mean. Statistically, the farther away from the average, the higher the standard deviation, the closer to an outlier the point is. I’ll use the terms that I am familiar with and use in my profession to qualify students for special education and therapy services, these may be different from what someone else has been taught; statistically a number is considered to be “within the average range” if its within 1 standard deviation above or below the mean, 1-2 is below/above average, and 2-3 is “significantly” below/above average. Every time you’ve seen me talk about “average range” this is the data I was looking at. Its not a problem if a spec is at the bottom as long as its within the average range.
As I said above, I take data every week, have for a long time. Here are all 6 weeks worth of data that I’ve collected:
July 8th (Last Week of BoD) | July 15th (First Week) | July 22nd (First Mythic Week) | July 29th | August 5th | August 15th | August 19th (Last Week)
Again, this is what most people look at, so its my first priority when looking at how Windwalkers fair compared to other specs.
As you can see, Windwalker ended Battle of Dazar’Alor in a rough spot. In Mythic, at the 75th percentile, we were 6.93% from the average and 4th from the bottom out of all 24 specs and 12th of 13 Melee Specs. We were with Fury Warriors, Enhancement Shaman, Feral Druids, Demonology Warlocks, Subtlety Rogues, Frost Mages, and Arcane Mages as being below 1 standard deviation away from the mean, and thus statistically “below average”. Destruction Warlocks, Fire Mages, and Elemental Shaman were all enjoying “above average” status.
Things got a little better for Windwalker in Heroic the first week of Eternal Palace, hopping up to only 2.87% below average and 0.54 standard deviations below the mean. This is comfortably in the average range. Things looked great for Shadow Priests up at 8.87% and 1.89 SD above the mean, nearing “significantly above average”, and Arcane Mages were at -19.13% and 3.12 SD below the mean, which is statistically impressive.
Once Mythic was released the charts got a little bit more condensed in some ways, with the highest spec being Havoc Demon Hunters at 5.06% and 1.32 SD above the mean, and Destro Warlocks at -12.74% and -2.81 SD below the mean. Windwalkers weren’t doing great, at 3.97% and 0.95 SD below the mean, but we were doing better than many, with 8 specs below us.
The 3rd week of EP (2nd week of Mythic) was kinder to Windwalkers, as we moved up slightly to 3.2% and 0.67 SD below the mean and 11 specs below us on the charts.
Starting with the 4th week of EP, I began taking more analysis of the data on my charts and splitting DPS up by Melee and Ranged. When looking at all specs, Windwalker stayed around the same spot, falling to 4.18% below average, but rising a little to 0.63 SD below the mean, which is due to the data spreading out. 9 Specs fell below Windwalker on those charts, with 4 of them being Melee. However, this is where we start to see the “Haves and Have-Nots” take over the data. When looking at just Melee, Windwalker was, 6.82% and 1.18 SD below the average. Indeed, 4 classes; Druid, Death Knight, Monk, and Hunter, had their highest Melee spec more than 1 SD below the mean.
It only went down from there as the 5th Week of EP saw Windwalker fall to 8th from the bottom, 6.59% and 0.95 SD below the mean compared to all specs. Its even worse when looking at Melee, since those are the players that Windwalker is directly competing with. When looking at just Melee, Windwalker was 7.28% and 1.6 SD below the average. This would be our low point so far in overall DPS, statistically. There were 4 Melee specs below Windwalker; Survival, Unholy, Subtlety, and Arms, but two of them would be getting buffs at the end of that week.
Week 6 had Windwalker bounce back a little bit, settling at 5.09% and 0.78 SD below the mean of all specs and 6.94% and 1.47 SD below the mean of just Melee, even after Death Knight and Arms saw buffs. As you can see, it had the desired affect for Death Knights, as Frost wen’t from below average to safely within the average range. Only 3 Melee specs fell below us; regulars Survival and Subtlety and newcomer Assassination.
So that’s where Windwalker sits for Overall DPS after last week, about 1.5 SD below the mean and without any spec to switch to in order to do more damage. The other three classes that are below average, Druid (Feral) and Hunter (Survival) both have Ranged specs to switch to, so only the die-hard are still playing them, as evidenced by their impressively low populations.
It only gets worse from hereon out. The statistic that, I personally believe, is most important is also the one that Windwalker struggles with the most.
The end of Battle of Dazar’Alor wasn’t kind to Windwalker in this area either, being the 6th lowest DPS and 4th lowest Melee spec at 5.19% and 0.93 SD below the average. Oddly enough, this would be the last time that Windwalkers would be statistically worse at Overall DPS than we are at Boss DPS; which, with the addition of Cyclotronic Blast you’d think would be the opposite, but thats just not the case. More of our damage shifted into single target DPS and yet we somehow lost ground to other specs in Boss DPS.
Its tough to be a Melee, and when I started tracking Boss DPS again in the 3rd week, that was clear, with 9 specs being more than 1 SD below the mean, and 6 of them being Melee. Windwalker had 6 specs below us with 4 of them being Melee at 5.85% and 1.08 SD below the mean. This would be the last time that Survival was lower than Windwalkers on Boss DPS. I don’t know what they figured out, but it worked.
And with Survival jumping up in the 4th week, Monk is left at the bottom of the Melee DPS classes for Boss DPS. At 6.57% and 1.62 SD below the mean, we’re not putting up a great fight against the other specs. As you can see with this graphic, the difference in the number of parses is also pretty extreme with 66.5k of the 90k parses being just Assassination, Havoc, and Fury.
Death Knight had a rough 5th week, maybe in anticipation of their buffs, as they managed to squeak under Windwalker by 50 DPS. With Windwalker at 6.42% and 1.5 SD below the mean, we’re securely in the “crap” area for Boss DPS with Paladins and Death Knights.
And then there were two. With Death Knights getting buffed, Windwalkers are left at the bottom of the ladder. We’re second from the bottom of all specs and last for Melee. Arms and both Death Knight specs leaped over Windwalker, leaving us and Retribution sitting on the dirt. The difference between Windwalker and Retribution and the rest of the specs that are below average is that we don’t have anything to switch to that deals more damage.
To put it delicately, Windwalker isn’t great at Overall DPS, and we’re REALLY not great at Boss DPS, and there’s nothing to make me think that things are going to spontaneously get better without intervention.
Windwalker has, historically, struggled to scale throughout an expansion. However, we normally get targeted or aura buffs that compensate us for that. There has been very little class balancing changes made in this expansion, which leads to the scaling problems being left unchecked. By my stat scaling data, Windwalker remains one of the worst scaling specs, and even more so since that data is without Cyclotronic Blast, which will hold us back from scaling even more since it only benefits from Vers and Crit.
However, scaling isn’t the only problem. There’s a distinct lack of single target damage in our spec’s toolkit, so much so that we recently discovered that we can drop Rising Sun Kick from our priority much of the time in favor of a priority that more closely resembles our AOE priority. Toss in that many Windwalkers are going to drop their single target abilities anyway in favor of AOE at 2 or 3 targets, and you get a recipe for very poor Boss DPS. Add in the comparatively small, and dwindling, population of Windwalkers, the very limited Melee raid spots, and general community perception that Windwalker is bad, and you get a recipe for the storm that we’re seeing currently.
But its not all bad, Windwalker is one of the strongest specs in PvP and Mythic Plus. This is what makes Windwalker so difficult to balance, as any change that affects raids may have an effect on the other two. Right now, since our biggest area of weakness is Boss DPS, a buff to our single target damage thats offset in PvP is, hopefully, just what the doctor ordered. It would just be nice to get that prescription filled sooner rather than later.
The people who are playing Windwalker are currently, and almost never have, been playing the spec because its popular or strong. We play it because we love it, even with its numerous bugs and things not working the way they’re supposed to. This may seem like a really long post just to complain that Windwalker needs a buff, and it absolutely is. But my goal was that it would be a really long post that SHOWS that Windwalker needs a buff.
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Thanks for the news update! I didn’t expect any good news though. It took a while to get a buff in Legion, but 2 raid tiers later we peaked the melee dps! Maybe waiting will pay off and I can be brought to mythic farm bosses or blizz forbid, progression!
Babylonius, thank you for your continued effort to represent the monk community, and advocate on our behalf. As we’ve seen in the past, the balance team has implemented changes reflective of your observations shortly after you’ve written these informative and statistically factual posts. Let’s hope the trend follows!
I’ve played a WW monk the DAY MOP was realized and haven’t looked back, despite all the ups and downs. I am confident the community feels the same way. Cheers!
As always great work, I really enjoy reading your analysis! Got one question for you, a bit out of topic, but what are your thoughts about a 4th dps spec for monks? Like a “Flamebender”, then we would have celestial represent each spec. Could that increase the monks popularity? How would it affect WW, better or worse?
Theoretically it may increase Monks popularity, but it would hurt Windwalkers popularity by splitting the community.
Thanks for the constant updates on the site and on the discord. I have nothing against FOTM players, but I’m so happy I just stick with WW no matter what, because of the love I have for the spec. It just makes it so much better when we suddenly get a huge buff, as in the Antorus raid, aswell as the fun playstyle at the end of ToS.
i wish that it would have mentioned how touch of death and touch of karma are tied to the max health of the windwalker, which is extremely crippling during the azshara fight. they could easily tie down ToD and ToK to a DPS stat instead of max health, like almost every other DPS ability.
in my opinion, i don’t think that windwalker is a difficult class to balance. WoW is a game that already splits its damage between different game modes. the only difficulty i see is balancing between M+ and mythic raid performance. to which i say WW is not super OP or coming remotely close to being the meta pick for M+ or MDI based on our damage numbers. the only reason we are picked is because of the 5% physical damage debuff we give. that’s why you see MDI teams who have a brewmaster not pick a WW in the team, and you don’t see windwalker stacking like you do with rogue stacking and now death knight stacking. have you seen what teams can do with 2 death knights in MDI? i feel like blizzard is blatantly ignoring WW, in order to create a bottom benchmark for DPS classes