Covenants are a big part of the next expansion with each of the four Covenants providing an additional ability for players to use. Rather than comment on the problems I forsee with this system, I wanted to spend some time focusing on what we think are the Covenant abilities that Monks will have available to them and how they affect Windwalkers. Since I haven’t gotten into Alpha, most of the ones for Monks were left out of the blog, and the only view I have of them is through what was datamined on MMOC and WoWhead, I’m not sure if what I’m commenting on is intended, but here goes.
Kyrian: Weapons of Order
For the next 30 sec , your Mastery is increased by 15% . Additionally, Windwalkers’ RSK cooldown is reset instantly, and your RSK reduces the cost of your Chi abilities by 1 for 5 sec .
I got to test this one at Blizzcon and I wasn’t a fan of how it felt. Because of our Mastery, having a reset on RSK is something we can’t use right away; even if you stocked up enough Chi, you cant RSK > RSK without losing Mastery, so either way you waste at least 1 second of the CD reset. That’s at least 10% of the value of that aspect of the ability lost right off the top. Last someone checked for me, Weapons of Order had a 1.5s GCD, which is not only 50% longer than a WW’s normal GCD, but it means that the now reset RSK will sit off CD For 2.5s before we can use it, which, at minimum is 25% of the CDR value, and can easily be 1/3 of the CDR value during Bloodlust. Windwalker has had many things in the past that have lost value because of the GCD or their interaction with Mastery, and they all feel awful, this one has both those problems plus extra.
The other aspect of this is the Chi cost reduction of other abilities. This also feels awful. Windwalker has one ability to dump Chi in single target and that’s BoK. We can’t use this too often because of Mastery, so we can’t dump Chi really at all in normal circumstances. The Kyrian ability takes away our ability to dump Chi during its duration; RSK will cost 2 Chi, but not benefit from its own buff, FoF will cost 2 Chi instead of 3, but only be usable twice during the duration of the Covenant ability, Whirling Dragon Punch is free, and now BoK doesn’t cost Chi anymore. We can’t spam it to take advantage of it being free, so we’re left to alternate using it between Tiger Palm, since the other abilities won’t be used more than once or twice during the 30 second buff. Tiger Palm still generates 2 Chi, so we’ll quickly be overwhelmed with resources. The only way to actually be resource negative is to use Spinning Crane Kick to just dump Chi, which, in single target actually does slightly less damage than BoK. So the choice is to overcap resources and lose damage, or cast a lesser damage ability and lose damage. The solution is to alternate BoK and Spinning Crane Kick to dump chi without using Tiger Palm, but because it will take 4 GCD to use the 2 Chi from any Tiger Palm you generate by going Tiger Palm > Spinning Crane Kick > BoK > Spinning Crane Kick, you’re still having to prioritize a lesser damage ability for the sake of saving resources and Mastery.
The 30 second duration means that no matter what you do, you’ll be overcapping resources for most of its duration, and the additional 15% Mastery means we’ll be extra punished by trying to take advantage of the extra resources.
Additionally, the 2 minute cooldown will make it awkward to use with Storm, Earth, and Fire consistently. It lines up with Xuen fine, but Xuen doesn’t benefit from Mastery, so there’s no reason to care about lining them up. It really would synergize well with Serenity since you’d have more FoF and RSK and since you’re already ignoring resources, it would let you just fill time with BoK > Spinning Crane Kick to keep Mastery without needing to use Tiger Palm, but Serenity is just not strong enough without changes to consider doing so, and Serenity has a 90s CD, which means you’d have to delay Serenity by 1/3 of its CD for them to line up.
This Kyrian Covenant ability will not only result in little to no damage increase, other than the 15% Mastery, but in order to get the benefit from that 15% Mastery, we have to basically ignore the rest of what it does.
Venthyr: Fallen Order
Opens a mirror for the next 24 sec, summoning reflections of your order’s fallen Ox, Crane, and Tiger adepts every 3 for 6 sec. Fallen Monks that have mastered [Ox][Crane][Tiger] Style will [attack your enemies with Keg Smash][heal with Renewing Mist][assault with Fists of Fury] and assist for an additional 2 sec.
This is one that there’s not any information on, so its unclear if all of the things that get summoned will have “mastered Tiger Style” or if its random what style they’ve mastered when they get summoned, or if there are some that will be summoned without any mastered style, or what.
This ability sounds like a randomized Storm, Earth, and Fire, which is already an ability that generally causes more problems than solution, so it doesn’t really inspire any excitement. It sounds like it will be visually very cool, but could be very random, and with so many problems with Storm, Earth, and Fire, I don’t see a world where this isn’t a heavily lamented Covenant ability.
Necrolord: Bonedust Brew
Hurl a brew created from the bones of your enemies at the ground, coating all targets struck for 10 sec. Your abilities have a 15% chance to affect the target a second time at 25% effectiveness as Shadow damage or healing.
**Windwalker** : Spinning Crane Kick refunds 1 Chi when striking enemies with your Bonedust Brew active
This is probably the least awful of the 4, as it can be very reasonable in AOE situations, since we can spam Spinning Crane Kick more often. However, in single target it will be useless unless you’re talented into Dance of Chi-Ji, which given correct tuning, won’t likely be used in single target over Hit Combo unless its overtuned.
The big problem is that its just another mechanic that gives Windwalkers more Chi, where the Mastery doesn’t make getting rid of excess Chi very easy, especially if that Chi comes in randomly.
Night Fae: Faeline Stomp
Strike the ground fiercely to expose a faeline for 30 sec, dealing (60% of Attack power) Nature damage (Windwalker) and ripping Chi and Energy Spheres out of enemies. Your abilities have a 10% chance of resetting the cooldown of Faeline Stomp while fighting on a faeline.
Hey look, *another* ability that gives extra resources to the spec that has a harder time using extra resources than almost any spec in the game. This is a very repetitive theme in Windwalker design in BfA and I’m sad to see it carrying over into Shadowlands. Windwalker doesn’t have the tools to spontaneously dump resources that appear randomly, so we have to play as if they’ll always be there and then suffer when they aren’t, or play talents like Ascension purely for the fact that it makes it easier to deal with random excess.
So clearly, I’m less than enthused about these Covenant abilities. I feel that 3 of them go against the way that Windwalker was changed to be in Legion, but was then forgotten entirely in BfA. Windwalker generally plays best with slower pace and increased planning. This insistence on giving Windwalker more resources than it can use just pushes Windwalker to a place that it wasn’t designed to be. The Mastery explicitly fights against dumping a lot of resources quickly, so a Windwalker plays best when you can plan how and when to dump resources in a way that benefits you, rather than panic dumping resources because you have no other choice.
It is OK to have a spec that requires more planning and attention, and attacks slower. Windwalker is designed to be the spec that you plan things out so that you have *enough* for what you need, whereas all the extra resources we have in BfA, or get from these Covenant Abilities, push us to throwing out the planning and just reacting so that we don’t have *too much* and drown.
Windwalkers are not Havoc Demon Hunters who have a no CD, medium damage, resource spender. This insistence on pushing Windwalkers to be closer to GCD capped at the expense of any flow or rhythm with the spec seems to fly in the fact of the design of Mastery and other changes that were made when it got “revamped” a bit going into Legion.
The pinnacle of Windwalker design is widely considered to be the 4p+2p+2p tier bonuses in Tomb of Sargeras, where Windwalkers barely cast BoK, and had the highest downtime in the history of the spec, but RSK benefited FoF and FoF benefited RSK, both abilities flowing one into the other, and Serenity moved the spec into a beautiful flow of martial arts prowess and interconnected abilities, without needing to rely on external sources or gimmicks to maximize damage.
However, it seems like that masterful design has gotten thrown aside because it benefited from a previous tier set, in today’s world of BoK reducing the CD of FoF and RSK, this playstyle could very easily live again just using the t20 4pc and 2pc as they were in their original state. Just because this playstyle came from an unintended interaction and situation, don’t punish its marvelousness.
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While I agree that most of the covenant abilities don’t strike me as super interesting or well designed for the spec, I’m not quite sure I’d like to play the spec as a super slow and downtime-heavy version, but I wasn’t playing WW back in Tomb of Sargeras so I have no first hand experience with the “pinnacle of WW”. To me, the spec was at its best back in early MoP, and while I remember that energy regen was kinda slow, the downtime was reasonable, with only a few spare GCDs and then there were tools like Energizing Brew to keep it at a minimum.
I think *the* “plan things out so you have enough when the time is right” spec is actually Arms. Even thinking about class fantasy, you don’t picture Bruce Lee only throwing a punch once every few seconds. To me, WW is a spec about flow, each ability lining up and making it so you can cast the next one in a never ending cycle, but that does’t mean looking at your energy bar for 2+ seconds every 10 seconds so you can realize that FoF will be off CD soon. So I get that the playstyle these days might be a bit too frantic for some, but there has to be a middle ground somewhere. Even right now, through talents, there are options for people that would like less button presses and APM (picking Eye of the Tiger for example), so I’d like for Blizzard to make it so everyone can play a version of WW that suits them.
And just make WDP baseline while they’re at it.
So much this, MoP monk was best monk. I wish they’d make FoF simply a cleave ability/utility ability again. In MoP it was purely used to recharge energy while you kept energy based Rush Jade Wind that was cast on cool down (like BrM now), rising sun kick on cooldown, and then filled with black out kick. You then lined up your tiger eye brew (the thing you monitored) so you could try to fit as many rising sun kicks in as possible.
I think that Legion monk was very close to your description of MoP monk. With correct execution, you would have just enough amount of chi and gcd’s to not waste energy and off CD time of your abilities, and it was very rewarding gameplay with consistent pace. And it’s not like today’s monk feels too fast for some because of amount of apm, but because you just can’t spend your resourses fast enough, it’s like you are in a infinite race and constantly behind.
I thought the Antorus set was better in legion than the Tomb set. It fit more with the rotation, made use of unique legendaries, and did a boat load of damage.
These covenant abilities look rough, so far I’m not really liking any of it and will most likely default to Necrolords, if I play my windwalker at all. It’s a shame because most classes have at least one that’s really exciting, it feels like a letdown when you don’t even have one that gets you hyped.
The part about how Tomb of Sargeras was considered the peak of Windwalker gameplay is so true. The spec was pretty weak, and it had higher downtime than Antorus/Nighthold, but Windwalker doesn’t mind downtime. You’re gonna be spamming BoK and finding ways not to break mastery anyway (FSK, Chi wave..), so I’d rather have higher overall downtime but be pressing buttons that actually feel impactful (RSK, FoF, Lightning with the chest leggo in Legion, SOTWL..).
I do have a couple of suggestions that I would like some feedback on. They came to me while having a discussion on the discord so some of you might have already seen it there.
– Lvl 15 row is too bland, Chi Burst is okay, but Chi Wave is literally just “now you can BoK-CW-BoK or TP-CW-TP without breaking mastery!”, and Eye of the Tiger is just incredibly boring. I must admit I do not have a solution for this row.
– I am not a fan of the current lvl 90 or 100 rows either. A solution that came to me was that Strike of the Windlord could be made a talent for either of these rows. Initially, I was against that as I would prefer it baseline, but I believe a good balance can be struck if you make it compete with Dance of Chi’Ji, which would be better than SotWL for AoE, and the 3rd option would be the Warlords of Draenor version of Storm, Earth and Fire, which would let WW do well on council-type encounters, A.K.A. spread cleave.
I understand that the SEF WoD talent would be much more sparsely picked than the other 2, but it would be useful when those scenarios occur, and they do occur, usually at least once per tier. That would be an improvement over talents nobody ever picks like Spiritual Focus or Chi Orbit (Legion). This proposal would also make Serenity our base cooldown and turn Storm, Earth and Fire (WoD version) into a talent, getting rid of the current SEF which I know a lot of players despise.
– I would advocate for both Hit Combo (controversial, I know) and WDP (significantly less so) to be made baseline. My reasoning is that WDP feels so necessary that when you spec out of it, the spec feels incomplete.WDP just fits very nicely in the spec’s rotation. As for Hit Combo, to me it really is just Mastery + (specifically, I would suggest that it becomes part of the Mastery), so while it could stay as a talent, if it had to become baseline to make place for new talents, I would welcome it. I know some people don’t like Hit Combo.
So it looks like their plan with WW and covenants is solely about Chi generating stuff.
As already been stated here that’s more or less counter-productive to the flow of the spec.
Meanwhile Hit Combo stays, the only real DPS cd with ToD is gone and replaced by a non-scaling Xuen, WDP still not baseline and Karma + FBrew for extra pain.
I’m not gonna lie, it does look somewhat grim, even if the numbers are tuned at the end the playstyle reminds me of 8.0 and Uldir.
For Kyrian ability: Mastery never been strong for WW. Weather it should be changed or not is different conversation. Most secondary points will be distributed for versatility anyway. I would without any pain loose 15-20% on blackout kick which in itself is just a sliver of our damage and just spam it to get surge of CD reduction on FoF and RSK. Just and idea. Might be bad idea tho. Its still better dmg than trying to put TP there in between and probably the same on ST with mastered spinning crane if u wanted to dumb those chi. what you get is not wasted time on channeling spinning crane and get that juice CD reduction for big hitters. So maybe mastery is a curse but in this case might be a blessing because of the fact is so crap.
Well it’s going to be much less crap with no damage from external sources. Going into BfA, Mastery was our top stat, and it will be again once corruption and azerite is gone.
I think a good Solution to our Resource Problem would be to have RDP dump all but 1 Chi to increase its damage. The 1 left Chi would keep us just 1 GCD away from casting FoF in Situations were it comes up right after casting RDP.
I understand this would basically be a Finishing Move and WWs are not Rogues, but this would be a fairly simple but effective solution.
At this point playing my WW feels punishing not rewarding to me. I just hope Devs are listening.
Legion had it right. They need to revert SEF back to being a toggle on/off ability that could allow a melee based character that could cleave a ranged target. No other melee could do this and it was unique, and where it shined, it was very powerful. I get that a Weak Aura was pretty much mandatory to use this correctly, but in 2020 if you play with any interest beyond LFR, you probably already use WA’s.
To the point of this post, all 4 covenants show a genuine lack of understanding on how the class works, or just general apathy towards it’s design. Neither of which are ok. The response of “they’re good at PVP or M+ though” is tiresome.
And by Legion I meant WoD…
💯 it doesn’t feel like there is a designated class designer for the spec.
I’m mind blown that not even just one, but THREE out of these four abilities deal with giving extra resources. It really feels like whoever is designing these abilities isn’t even playing the same spec that I am. You spend the entire WW rotation planning out your chi generation accordingly to line up with your RSK and FoF cooldowns, and whenever you get a proc for extra chi or a reduced chi cost it actually feels worse than it does better since it basically throws your entire plan out the window and you’re left with extra resources that you didn’t even want to have.
I’m all for adding new procs and systems to keep track of, but having them tied to resource generation just feels bad for a spec that focuses so heavily on planning. The old Legion legendary (I forget the name) that gave you stacks of increased damage on Crackling Jade Lightning was great because it didn’t give me extra chi I didn’t ask for, it didn’t disrupt the rotation too much, and it even gave me an extra button to hit when I had to move out of melee range of the boss. Was a fun and engaging mini-game to play alongside the normal rotation.
Really hope the class designers listen to input this time around and redesign the abilities to affect our rotation in other ways, I’m tired of all the “extra chi” or “reduce chi cost” text that drove me away from the spec in BfA.
I’m with you Babs, the abilities are incredibly underwhelming and don’t fit into the class at all. Does ww have a dedicated class designer at this point?
No classes have a dedicated class designer, they haven’t had ones dedicated to a specific class in years
It’s pretty annoying that Blizz seems to have no clue how WW itself works.
Weapons of Order would be more useful if you got 15% Versa out of it, allowing you to ruin your mastery, while stacking other stats and spam BoK reducing SCK and FoF CD.
Fallen Order, who could’ve guessed, got the same problem as SEF with bugged copies not attacking at all and bugged specializations for Tank/Heal/DD type of adds. I also don’t know why they thought it would be a good idea to summon adds of every specialization…
Bonedust Brew is just a stupid ability without any useful impact, average 3,75% Bonusdmg (15*0,25) for 10 seconds on a 60 second CD is a joke and SCK for 1 Chi is also stupid because you don’t wanna break your mastery…
Faeline Stomp also pretty useless again, fishing for resets is only possible with nearly zero movement involved, damage itself is crap and bonus chi is useless again because you break mastery or overcap energy…
Main flaws aren’t fixed:
LV 15 Talent row still crap, with nearly zero impact
LV 90 Talent row still hit-combo, if Dance is not op
LV 100 WDP still not baseline, Serenity still crap compared to pure SEF and CD-Reduction on SEF is just boring and also not competitive
What I’d really like to see:
Summon Xuen merged with SotWL (Legionartifact) => 45sec CD striking all enemies in front of you for X%AP nature damage and summoning Xuen for 8 seconds. [Strikedmg scales with Mastery/Versa fixing scaling issues]
ToK shields for 50% Maxlife deals 0 dmg but heals for 100% shielded dmg
Increase impact of LV 15 Talent row
LV 45 Talent Row: Replace FotWT with Power Strikes (old Talent MoP) – Every 20(?) Seconds (modified by Haste)Tiger Palm deals 200% dmg an generates 1 additional Chi
LV 45 Talent Row: Slightly Buff Ascension and Elixir
LV 60 Talent Row: New Talent increasing Flying Serpent Kick Slow duration by 4 seconds (8s total) and slow effect to 80%, replacing Good Karma
LV 60 Talent New Talent reducing CD on Paralysis to 20s and adding 1 Charge, replacing RoP
LV 75 Talent Row: Good Karma replaces Inner Strength and increases HP-Shield to 100% HP
LV 90 Talent: Replace Hit Combo with Xuen’s Fury (Azerite Trait)
LV 90 Talent: Replace Rushing Jade Wind with Glory of the Dawn (Azerite Trait)
LV 100 Talent: SEF instead of Serenity
LV 100 Talent: Legion Legendary-Chest-Effect instead of WDP
LV 100 Talent: Legion Antorus 4P Bonus + Procchance increase: Tiger Palm has a 20% Chance to make your next BoK free and deal 200% increased dmg
WoD PVP set bonus pre-nerf with chi explosion was the pinnacle of WW game play.
Next to that would be the WoD chi exploding windwalker.
Alas, which version of WW is or was the most fun will always have different opinions. The solution of course is to do away with the flawed talent system and create fixed sub-specs. Is the Legion/BFA SEF-ToD heavy WW the one you fancy? Then play it! Perhaps it was the chi exploding WoD monk? Feeling like a sith lord? Then how about a serenity-emperor’s capacitance build? Three sub specs, all substantially different and to make them work would require more than simple talent changes.
This is not something that would apply to monks only, every class/spec has iterations that exist and have expired.
The talent system was supposed to exist so you could vary your game play. Largely, it has failed to do so whilst remaining balanced.
Not only am I completly underwhelmed with how the abilites play, I am even more underwhelmed by their themes.
WEAPONS of the order? for a the ONE class that whole identity is they fight with fists and kicks?
Faeline STOMP? Why not Faeline punch or kick? When did monks ever get to stomp?
And what bright mind at blizzard thought “mmm, what’s monk defining ability? oh yes, using useless clones that everyone hates, let’s give them 20 more of them.
But then again, Monk has always been on the backburner for developers, ever since the end of MoP, so I am not surprised they don’t even give a shit about proper class themes and identity anymore.