Its been no secret that I’ve, for the most part, retired my Windwalker in favor of a Demon Hunter. This came after weeks of trying to figure out what to do; I wasn’t playing Windwalker well enough, and the spec as a whole wasn’t performing to the level that my, only slightly above average, skill level would get me by in the very competitive melee roster of my guild. I agonized over this decision for quite a while. I made a survey to gather people’s opinions about my various choices, I made a spreadsheet to look at how those classes have compared to each other over the years complete with graphs and historical data, I talked at length with my wonderful wife about what would be the best choice for me, and in the end I elected to minimize the pain of switching by jumping to Havoc Demon Hunter as it had similar mobility to Windwalker and could tank as well as DPS. There have been tiers where a Windwalker wasn’t needed, there hasn’t been a time that you didn’t bring a Havoc, and so I swapped.
This partly explains why there has been very little new stuff to read on here, but really its because there’s just nothing to talk about with Windwalkers. There have been some class changes, but none to Windwalker besides the small single target buffs that, unless we’ve all completely missed our guess, will be far from enough to make a difference. I still love my Windwalker and the community, and have no intention of leaving. The moment that Windwalker is buffed back to being strong, I’ll swap back before I even have the time to write an article about it.
Since Demon Hunters were announced and we started to see what their skills would be, people started comparing Havoc to Windwalker. Its an easy comparison to make; both specs have similar mobility between Roll and Fel Rush, both specs wear Leather and use One-Handed Agility weapons, as of Battle for Azeroth, both specs bring debuffs to the raid that increase the damage of allies, in Mystic Touch and Chaos Brand, among many other things. So, I thought since I’ve had some time playing both at a reasonably high level in raids, I could spend some time writing an article diving into the similarities between these specs on many levels. So, this series of articles isn’t meant to be a complain fest for how much better or worse Havoc is than Windwalker, but provide real data and information comparing the two very comparable specs to maybe spur on some ideas for what can be done to make any improvements in either direction.
Lets get after it….
The first place I want to start is looking at how both specs have performed since they’ve both been in the game. Windwalkers have two expansions on Demon Hunters, so we’ll have to start our comparisons there. Historically there have been three things that I’ve looked at when gauging the strength and “power” of a spec; Overall DPS, Boss DPS, and Population. Obviously “Population” isn’t an exact relation to the strength of a spec, but I’ve always used it as a pseudo-popularity rating for a spec, and as any long-time Windalker can tell you, sometime community perception is more important than the actual DPS a spec can do. When it comes to getting into a raid group or a M+ group, your DPS doesn’t matter as much as what people think your DPS will be.
The first thing that people look at when looking at how strong a spec is. Although I personally disagree with it, this is the metric that people talk about when they are comparing specs to one another. What may come as a surprise to some, is that Windwalker spent more than just Antorus higher on the DPS charts than Havoc. Indeed, during Havoc’s darkest days from the end of Nighthold till the Netherlight Crucible and other changes were introduced in Antorus, it spent more than a full year below average!!! GASP!!! During this time, Windwalker say some of its strongest performance due to the vaunted “6-Piece Tier bonus” into the craziness of Antorus. It took the worst period Havoc has ever had and some of the best Windwalker ever had for the picture to flip in Windwalker’s favor.
If you look at the averages over this 3 year span, Windwalker has spent one raid out of eight, Antorus, above average, whereas Havoc DH has spent five of the past eight above average. With the worst days its ever seen, Havoc averaged 2.73% below average during all of Legion, where Windwalker, with propped up with a long tier of the best days its ever seen, averaged 1.85% below average. If you include thusfar in BfA, Havoc is averaging 1.54% above average with Windwalker averaging 5.88% below average.
Consistently balanced….? Maybe not…. But hey, overall DPS isn’t always the most important thing, right? RIGHT!?! except….
Boss DPS is much of the same story for both specs. Historically, Windwalker has had to give up single target or priority damage in order to deal more Overall damage, which tends to be heavily skewed by AOE DPS. Havoc hasn’t had this problem to the same frequency or severity which is why you see Havoc’s Boss DPS mirror their AOE DPS a bit more than Windwalkers.
When looking at the averages over the past three years, Windwalker has been above average for, Antorus again, one raid tier, where Havoc has been above average three raid tiers, out of eight. Although their frequency of being above average is much closer in Boss Damage, there has been considerable difference in their abilities in this area. In Legion, Havoc DH averaged 1.29% above average compared to Windwalker’s 3.36% below average in boss damage. So far in Battle for Azeroth, Havoc has fallen to 1.4% below average compared to Windwalker’s falling farther to 6.05% below average.
So not only are Havoc better at Overall DPS, they don’t have to give up as much in order to stay strong at priority Boss DPS. And you’ll say “But, Babs, people play what they enjoy, not always what is strongest!” To that, I’ll say, “what world do you live in” and direct your attention below….
The below graph shows, using WarcraftLogs data, how much of the overall DPS population was each class from the start of Legion till now. As you can see, There’s always been a big gap between how many players raided on a Havoc DH compared to on a Windwalker Monk. They were at their closest during Antorus when the Windwalker population exploded, with a gap of “only” +3% representation for Havoc over Windwalker; Havoc had 15,994 Mythic logs Antorus compared to 12,103 for WindwalkersRemember, this was the strongest that Windwalker has ever been since the start of Legion, and even at the top of every chart, 1.3x more people played Havoc than Windwalker in raids. And yet, currently, when Windwalkers are at their lowest performance relative to other DPS specs in, maybe, forever, the population of Windwalkers has taken a dive to nearly its lowest point ever. The gap is now at the largest its ever been with there being a gap of more than 10% between both specs. The last two weeks, there were 51,426 Mythic boss logs for Havoc DH compared to 8,833 for Windwalker Monks, that’s 5.8x more Havoc than Windwalker.
There’s tons of reasons why the population data is the way that it is. The biggest reason is how people have perceived both specs relative to one another. Windwalker has long been considered slow, complex, difficult to master, and even when its very strong, its commonly thought to be very weak. Havoc has, for most of its life, been considered fast, simple, easy to master, and strong, even when its not. Its these thoughts, even when they’re wrong, that contribute to what spec people pick up when considering a DPS Spec. Havoc has been viewed as Windwalker 2.0, its been faster to level since it starts at 98 rather than 1, and its been the shiny new thing since the start of Legion, somehow without ever losing its sheen.
Its hard not to see that in general, when looking at this data, Havoc is pretty significantly ahead of Windwalker with these metrics. There are a lot of variables to account for when looking at this data, but I feel that it paints a good picture and explanation for how people feel about both specs.
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Reading your articles is always a joy, thank you!
It’s a shame to see this but I don’t blame you when the resemblence between DH and WW is almost uncanny.
The core gameplay of Windwalker is there, but the spec is missing its claws… its punch.
BFA WW feels like an alpha version of Legion WW. Our mobility has been nerfed with Transcendence going back to 45s CD, Flying Serpent Kick nerfed to 1.5 sec flying distance instead of the original 2.0 sec, something untouched since WW’s introduction in MoP. Fun abilities like SotWL have been removed and replaced with an inferior single-target version that hits like a wet noodle and plays a watered-down animation. Jab was removed, leaving our equipped weapons sitting on our back unused. Chi Torpedo is now only 2 charges not 3 and no longer deals damage or heals (funny how Fel Rush for Havoc deals damage and even has a talent to buff that damage). The high risk high reward Crane stacking is gone. Almost any association with the name of the spec has been removed. There is no longer any ‘Wind’ in Windwalker. Our animations are choppy and lack oomph, especially after so many classes and specs received visual updates in Legion and BFA.
I will continue to play the class and WW because I refuse to give up on my main of 7 years. I play at a level where I still outperform my peers (I’m 3/8M EP so say no more), so I still get a laugh out of delusional people thinking that Mistweavers and Windwalkers are currently overpowered, when they’re just bad players. Like come on… I still outheal Holy Paladins with 3x Glimmer traits.
Thank you Babylonius for all the work you’ve done for Monks and Windwalkers over the years. The Monk community has always been very small but it warmed my heart to see you pushing through despite WW being neglected for so long. Hopefully Shadowlands puts the wind back in the sails of this spec’s ship!
I think it’s also really important to remember the mythology about these classes as well. From what I have seen or heard at least anecdotally, people’s perception of Demon Hunters and Monks is influenced by their fantasy, as well as people’s expectations about how and why these classes are “in the game.”
You contrast the envy and love for Illidan who has had a rich, heavy and (in)famous lore that has crafted a powerful mythology surrounding him and what his class represents… with Monks, whose introduction was lambasted as being a rip off from Kung Fu Panda, an April Fool’s joke, and virtually no Class representative like Illidan to act as a counterpart for its success.
What results is not only can people look at the data Babylonius summarised here as an indication of why people perceive one class/spec is better than another, but they likely already had preconceived notions about what their chosen spec means to them. Monk (and Windwalker) managed to reduce the failings their introduction created for them for a while up until Legion, but with the advent of Demon Hunters who had been oft-requested for years and years, who were even considered favourites of well-known Blizzard employees as well… I don’t think it’s difficult to see why player perception (and then overall participation) of Windwalker’s potential is deemed lower than Demon Hunters.
How was it getting used to the increased GCD of DH? I can’t play anything other than Rogue because I have played WW for so long that any class above a 1 sec GCD feels really slow to me to the point that it’s painful to play, and even Rogue has issues for me with lower/ perceived lower, energy regen than WW has and feels so much more clunky.
It was weird at first but DH spends so much time with big haste procs that you spend more time below 1s than above it.