What Happened?

Yesterday, at approximately 9pm Eastern, a few intrepid explorers were playing around on the PTR and found that some of the bugs that Shadowlands Windwalkers, certainly all you FotM rerollers out there, have gotten used to. Basically it looks like this:

  • If you clip Fists of Fury then Storm, Earth, and Fire clones will also clip theirs. They used to continue to channel Fists of Fury while casting other abilities. We also talked about it in the Advanced Tricks.
    • This bug has existed since AT LEAST the middle of Warlords and is a side effect of making sure that the Clones don’t miss casts of other things because they were slightly late casting Fists of Fury.
  • Mark of the Crane stacks are removed when a target dies with them and you go to refresh or generate another one. They used to persist indefinitely, allowing you to have more stacks than you have targets. We talked about it in the Advanced Tricks.
    • This means that currently if you have 3 targets and one dies you will have 3 stacks of Mark of the Crane until you Tiger Palm, Rising Sun Kick, or Blackout Kick again. This lessens the blow by letting any Spinning Crane Kick between those keep the extra damage, but its not as good as in Legion where you’d keep the Mark of the Crane stacks for whatever duration was left on the target when it died, so if you had 3 targets and one died with 10 seconds left on its debuff, you’d have 3 stacks of Mark of the Crane for another 10 seconds then drop down to 2.
    • In BfA there were several attempts to get Mark of the Crane and Storm, Earth, and Fire to play nice together ultimately unsuccessfully, they may have finally succeeded… yay?
  • Eye of the Tiger‘s damage is now increased by 35% when Storm, Earth, and Fire is out to adjust for the fact that you do 45% less damage. This is something that regularly has to happen for abilities that Storm, Earth, and Fire doesn’t copy, so its nice to see this done for Eye of the Tiger.

As can be easily predicted, whenever Blizzard attempts to make a change to Storm, Earth, and Fire, more things got broken. So there are some new bugs too:

  • Mark of the Crane stacks are capped 5. We *think* this is a bug, but honestly we have no idea. This is currently fixed.
  • Storm, Earth, and Fire is completely Somewhat broken. They almost never cast Whirling Dragon Punch when you do and sometimes don’t cast Rising Sun Kick or Fists of Fury when you do. We are pretty sure this is because they are not taking the same haste and cooldown reduction to their abilities as you do, so if you have some haste to bring your Rising Sun Kick cooldown to 8s CD, and use a Blackout Kick twice between so that your Rising Sun Kick comes up 6s after the previous ones, they will still be 4s away from using theirs. This goes doubly for during Weapons of Order, which means that during Weapons of Order your Storm, Earth, and Fire will have almost no chance of casting Rising Sun Kick, Fists of Fury, and Whirling Dragon Punch when you do. They also appear to do nothing UNLESS you focus them. The crossed out portions appear to be fixed on the PTR. They still appear to require fixating unless they can jump to a target thats in combat but out of melee range.
  • The Cooldown Reduction from Blackout Kick just doesn’t work when Serenity is active. It destroys Serenity as a viable alternative should the above bugs persist to Live. We are almost positive this will be fixed before it goes live, but it would take a lot for us to use Serenity, so even if it doesn’t… no use crying over a spilled milk.


What This Means?

This is the reason that you’re here, and unfortunately its a relatively complicated answer. I will spend 0 time talking about the new bugs, until they get closer to being live, its a waste of my time. This build was tagged as “Release Candidate” that still had all the above bugs, but I am just going to stick my fingers in my ears and say “LALALALA” until they’re in the weekend before it goes live, whenever that is.

I will split up the first 2 “bug fixes” and do my best to math them out to show how big or small these changes will be. I’ll largely use my own logs as evidence, and while I can teach it, it doesn’t mean I can do it, so take that with a grain of salt. I’ll also use some other logs of actual top players for additional evidence.


Fists of Fury “Fix”

This is definitely the easier one to math out, so I’ll start with it. Basically how it works on live is that you start casting Fists of Fury and then clip it with another ability after the GCD is over. Your Storm, Earth, and Fire clones continue to channel even while they cast other things. This means that after you clip it you will still get 90% of the value of Fists of Fury from their channels (more with Coordinated Offensive). To figure out how much of a damage loss this is, we basically have to look at any time, in the log, that the Monk cancelled Fists of Fury and compare their damage to that of Storm, Earth, and Fire. This is “easy” enough using filtered expressions that I was a painstakingly dragged through a crash course of by Paoanii. Because standard practice is that any time Storm, Earth, and Fire and Weapons of Order are up, you clip Fists of Fury, then with this change, if you continue to do so, your damage will be the same as theirs. Basically, looking at logs, you look at the damage you do with Fists of Fury during Storm, Earth, and Fire and Weapons of Order and how much your Storm, Earth, and Fire clones do, and subtract.

Using my log for Hungering Destroyer as an example, you can look HERE. During Weapons of Order and Storm, Earth, and Fire I did a total of 27.6k with Fists of Fury. My clones, since they continued to channel, Fire Spirit did 61.7k and Earth Spirit did 64.7k. Theoretically, this means that if my clones also clipped Fists of Fury when I did, they’d both do roughly 27.6k, which means I would have lost a total of 98.8k damage over the course of a fight. The fight in question was 320 seconds long, so that equates to a loss of 222.5 DPS loss, or 4.2% loss.

Similarly, if I do the same thing for the 3 top Windwalkers on Hungering (at least the logs in an alphabet I can understand), it looks like this:

This can be changed for Sludgefist, although you will likely cancel Fists of Fury whenever you have Storm, Earth, and Fire up and the boss has the Pillar debuff, so it would look like this using the same people from above for convenience sake:

This damage loss is only looking at pure single target, in AOE situations the damage loss will be roughly 50% bigger for each additional target up to 4 additional targets since that’s how much more damage Fists of Fury does with each hit. However, you’ll also cast a lot more Spinning Crane Kick so Fists of Fury will be a smaller % of the overall. For example, this isn’t the best way to do it but; if you look at Chiggma’s Stone Legion Generals kill, 102.1k from Fists of Fury, 148.8k and 137.5k from Storm, Earth, and Fire for a loss of 82.1k damage, 129.5 DPS, or 1.65% lost.


The above numbers assume that nothing changes. There is a chance that we will continue to clip Fists of Fury during Weapons of Order and Storm, Earth, and Fire and the above numbers will be accurate, or that we’ll drop Fists of Fury from the priority during Weapons of Order and Storm, Earth, and Fire except to use it at the end for the Chi cost reduction, or we’ll just fully channel it anyway. If its either of the last 2 then the above numbers will not be accurate for damage loss, and the loss will be smaller since we’d only do that if it was better than what we’re doing now.


This assumes that the other negative bugs above are fixed. If they’re not then feel free to abandon ship.


Mark of the Crane “Fix”

So this one is the harder one to calculate since you have to look at two different things; the time that you would spend casting Spinning Crane Kick  that you now have to spend building stacks yourself, or with Storm, Earth, and Fire; and the damage that you would have done with 6 stacks even when there were less than 6 targets. So easiest to split them up. I preface this by saying I’m not a math major, so there’s a chance that none of this is correct, but if someone points out that it is then I’ll adjust, so assume what’s below is the best we’ve come up with… until it isn’t.


Starting Up

If you assume that you start each pack at full Chi and Energy then having to tag for Mark of the Crane manually will take you 6 GCDs of casting Tiger Palm, Blackout Kick, or Rising Sun Kick. If you didn’t have to build those stacks then you’d be casting Spinning Crane Kick with every other GCD. You would be casting Rising Sun Kick once anyway, to get Whirling Dragon Punch enabled, and you’d need to cast at least 2 Tiger Palm in there as well to stay at maximum Chi for spamming Spinning Crane Kick after. This means that you’d be casting Blackout Kick 3x rather than Spinning Crane Kick 3x. So the damage loss there is pretty substantial. Blackout Kick does, 116.28% of your AP with no additional secondary stats, compared to Spinning Crane Kick that does 95.09% AP per target, increased by 10-26% depending on Calculated Strikes, for a maximum total of 1460.58% AP (95.09%  x 6 x (1 + (26% x 6))) on 6 targets with 6 stacks. So, for 3 of the first 6 GCD of a pull you’ll do a total of 348.84% AP rather than 4381.74%.

NOW. Its difficult to take that number and put it into the % damage loss that I could above. The longer a pull lasts, the smaller that damage loss will be, especially since you’ll run out of energy slower if you spend time tagging things. If you would have cast 10 Spinning Crane Kick in a pull but now only cast 7 then that’s a 30% loss of Spinning Crane Kick damage on that pull, which you can figure will be closer to 20-25% overall loss on that trash pull. If you can only cast 1 Spinning Crane Kick instead of the 4 you would be able to now then the problem is SUBSTANTIALLY LARGER; however, in this situation you just wouldn’t focus on getting your stacks as high, so I won’t bother trying to quantify that.

This also becomes 1/3 of the size of the problem if you have Storm, Earth, and Fire going since you’ll get Mark of the Crane tags 3x as fast, so you’re only tagging for 2 GCD rather than 6. This is also the most exaggerated example, in practicality the gap should be slightly smaller depending on the situation.

There’s also the added problem that it is impossible to maintain 6 stacks of Mark of the Crane without a ton of haste, since you will simply run out of energy casting Tiger Palm and Spinning Crane Kick, you need to mix in a few Blackout Kick to keep up the stacks. This will feel awful awful awful. Its a problem we had to deal with in Legion and periods of BfA, but its not going to feel great to go back to it after enjoying this much easier way of doing things for several months.


Keeping Stacks

So the other loss that comes with these bugs is that you’ll be unable to get and maintain more stacks than you have targets. This is what causes the above situation where you have to re-tag things every time you pull another pack. Currently you’re able to tag the first pack and, if you pull fast enough, keep 6 stacks for the rest of the dungeon in a very extreme case. The easier to notice place that this pops up is on a fight like Huntsman Altimor where its very easy to get to 6 stacks essentially on pull, then maintain them for the whole fight, even though there’s only 2 targets for pretty much the entire thing. For this we will use our good friend Scurch’s log on Huntsman.

On this fight he cast Spinning Crane Kick 33 times for a total of 3235.1 DPS out of his total 9377.4 DPS. He certainly had 6 stacks of Mark of the Crane the whole time and was using an ilvl 200 Calculated Strikes conduit, so each of his Mark of the Crane stacks was 24% more damage for a total of 144% more Spinning Crane Kick damage per use. If he could only maintain as many stacks as there are targets, he could only maintain a 48% damage increase from Calculated Strikes. This means that his 3235.1 DPS from Spinning Crane Kick would now be 1962.3 DPS (3235.1 / (1+144%)) x (1+48%); for an overall DPS loss of 13.57%.

That is obviously seismically enormous, but also a most extreme case since its the minimum amount of targets and stacks he could have and still want to spam Spinning Crane Kick. However, extreme case or not, that’s abso-fucking-lutely ridiculous.

For a less extreme situation we can look at Chiggma’s Stone Legion Generals kill from earlier, where he undoubtedly had 6 stacks during the whole fight despite there only really being 5 targets up at any one time. He did a total of 3148.6 DPS with Spinning Crane Kick. If he had 5 stacks of Mark of the Crane instead of 6 he would have done 2833.7 DPS with Spinning Crane Kick for a total loss of 314.86 DPS or 4.2%. Add to that the 1.65% damage loss from the Fists of Fury “fix” and Chiggma’s SLG kill just lost 5.85% DPS to two bug fixes.

In your average M+ pull the damage loss from this part of it would be much smaller, since you’d maybe be looking at having 5 stacks on 5 targets instead of 6. However, if you factor in that you’re also getting less Spinning Crane Kick during each trash, this absolutely starts stacking up quickly. On M+ the majority of the damage loss will come from having to put stacks up whereas in raiding the majority of damage loss will come from just having a lower maximum stacks.


What Does it Mean?

Well it means a few things. It means that someone at Blizzard is paying attention and trying to fix things that were broken. It’s just unfortunate that these fixes have such a negative effect on our damage and created even more bugs. It also means that Windwalker’s days on the top of the pile are likely over for now. While 5-6% of damage isn’t a ton, it will be felt across the board and can be as high as 20-25% in trash packs in M+. Using the WarcraftLogs data for the last two weeks, even a 5% reduction in damage will take Windwalkers from #1 melee on Overall Damage and #4 on Boss Damage out of 9 Melee specs down to 6th on Overall Damage and 8th on Boss Damage. And you can figure that in Overall Damage, the damage loss will likely be larger since the fix to Mark of the Crane will have a larger effect.

Right now we don’t think that this will have any effect on what legendary or Covenant that Windwalkers prefer, so I know a lot of people will ask.

Rather than try to prognosticate the future, here’s a handy-dandy flowchart for how you should feel about things:

For anyone reading this after the patch date was announced, we’re currently at “Feel Super Bummed” stage with the potential to move up to “Feel slightly less bummed, but still pretty bummed” or “Feel Great” depending on if any compensation comes our way, although there currently is none other than the ToD buff, which is nice but… you know… keep up your thoughts and prayers.


Babylonius’s Fixes to the Fixes

So, since this is something that I will inevitably be asked, and its my website, so I can post my opinions and you have to read them, here we go.

  • Best thing to do is to revert the fixes for after 9.0.5 and give the time between 9.0.5 till 9.1 to put the fixes in and adjust for them and any other bugs that pop up, no reason to risk killing the spec in the middle of a tier.
  • Keeping the bug fixes is OK, bug fixes are good. Windwalker needs compensation for the loss of damage.
    • Fists of Fury should hit 6 targets like the tooltip says, not 5.
    • Buffing Fists of Fury would solve a lot of these problems, more than you can imagine. Fists of Fury lost a TON of damage from losing OPS after leaving BfA. It could quite literally be buffed by 50% in PvE and that would…
      • Roughly break even with the fix to clipping it
      • Help adjust for AOE/Cleave damage with losing Mark of the Crane
      • Stop us from even considering clipping it or not using it in our rotation.
      • Tune down WoO since we’d be either giving up the larger Fists of Fury damage or casting less Rising Sun Kick.
      • Increase the power of Xuen’s Treasure since using it means more Fists of Fury
      • Cuts down on our reliance on Spinning Crane Kick for AOE damage and increases the reward for a “skillshot” of aiming it well.
    • Something needs to be adjusted about the fact that its almost impossible to maintain 6 stacks of Mark of the Crane without dropping Spinning Crane Kick for more Blackout Kick.
      • Honestly, ditch the Mark of the Crane mechanic all together and turn it into some kind of personal buff based on targets hit, so if you hit 6 targets with Spinning Crane Kick then the next Spinning Crane Kick would be buffed.
      • Simply do away with it and bake the damage into Spinning Crane Kick or even better bake it into Fists of Fury so that we’re not in a situation where we consider clipping it or not using it at all.
      • Allow Rushing Jade Wind to put it on targets that you hit for its duration or 10s or something.
  • Dear sweet baby Jesus or whoever you believe in, or don’t believe in, delete Storm, Earth, and Fire and/or rebuild it from the ground up. There’s no reason short of sadomasochism to keep it the way that it is. It causes stress for players, it causes stress for theorycrafters, it causes stress for developers and coders. Take it away, keep the visual, make it a toggle that stacks Mark of the Crane for us OR just a visual with something like bringing Tigereye Brew back to the way that it was OR take any of my other fantabulous suggestions from the past. You can even use Shakugan’s fabulous visual for the “new” main DPS cooldown.

Really, just something needs to be done, because it feels like Windwalker is being punished for a few weeks above average while the same 2 or 3 specs and classes remain on top and Havoc DH gets itself buffed back into consideration.

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