A few weeks ago we launched a website https://wind.mathweaving.com in conjunction with the other Monk specs. The goal of this project was to gather ideas that the community could vote on and discuss to get an idea for what things were most wanted. Now that its been a few weeks, its a good time to start looking at some of the ideas that have been suggested. In this article, or series of articles, I’ll look at some of the suggestions that people had and how viable they are or my own thoughts on them. But before I do that, I’d like to toss out some of my more “out there” ideas for what could be done with Windwalker in the future, and since I started this article while sitting in an airplane 35,000ft above the ground on my way to Blizzcon where we may hear some new things, there’s no time like the present for me to get my ideas in print.
This was an idea I had years ago when Blizzard decided to move Survival Hunters into melee. Melee is very crowded, and the world doesn’t need another Melee spec. So I thought that Windwalkers would be a good candidate for moving them out to ranged with some of the mechanics that we have already in our kit.
Shadow Boxing in the Dark
My original idea was for Windwalkers to use the Storm, Earth, and Fire mechanic to “shadow box” from ranged. We’d be able to stand at a further distance away, and we’d use the original Storm, Earth, and Fire clones that we could point and target, for them to copy our abilities onto the target that they’re attacking. I’m thinking taking a page out of “Real Steel” where Hugh Jackman shadow boxes from outside the ring and the good robot copies him to beat up the bad robot.
There would be a limit of clones you could attach to a target, likely three or four, and they’d either despawn if that target died, or with the way Storm, Earth, and Fire works now, pop over to another target. The damage they do to that target would be based on how many clones you had out. So with only one spirit out, it would do 100% of your damage, with a second spirit they’d each do 50%, with a 3rd spirit they would do 33.33%, and with all four spirits out they’d do 25% damage each. This would allow for them to both tag targets for Mark of the Crane or focus on one target. They could be made to attack the same target if there were two out but only one target, with no penalty since they’d each be doing 50% damage, and 50%+50%=100%. All our current abilities could continue to do what they do now (hopefully without any bugs), and the spirits would copy them.
Obviously this is far from a perfect idea. The biggest problem is the completely ridiculous issues with Storm, Earth, and Fire spirits over the years. Pet mechanics and control has historically been a problem in WoW, or really any game with pets. Windwalker’s Storm, Earth, and Fire clones seem to turn this dial up to 11 sometimes, so having our damage rely on them doing their jobs is a near impossibility with how they operate now.
Another draw back is the positioning of the spirits. This is meant to be designed as a feature, but the positions the spirits take relative to the target is typically either behind them or slightly off to the side. This is to avoid them being in front of the target and getting parried or dodged. Normally this is a good thing for pets. However, as Beast Mastery Hunters may be able to tell you, this spot isn’t always the best for AOE damage. If the spirits default to being slightly to the right of behind the target, then any AOE that they generate may not hit a target that’s slightly to the left of their target. Part of the skill of doing strong AOE DPS as a melee, or ranged even, is careful positioning to insure that you hit the maximum number of targets. If the spirits are on auto-pilot, they may not be in the right spot for maximum effectiveness. I’m sure there are other drawbacks to using Storm, Earth, and Fire as the key part of doing DPS, but those are the two big ones that I see.
Another idea thats been tossed around, in terms of making Windwalker a ranged spec, or even just to improve Windwalker as a melee, is to really grab on to the “Wind” part of “Windwalker”. Brewmasters have all kinds of Brews to Master, Mistweavers have all kinds of Mists to Weave, but Windwalkers don’t really have any Wind to Walk. In the, not too distant, past we had abilities like Tornado Strikes, Gale Burst, Hurricane Kicks. But they’re pretty much all gone, baked into other abilities, became Azerite traits, or renamed talents. This leaves us with a hole where the Wind is supposed to be.
So, to rectify this, Windwalker would move out to Range, and have our abilities based on the Wind that we get our namesakes from. This is 100% stolen from the Air Benders in The Last Airbender. Windwalker could keep the martial arts aspect of the kit and theme, but focus on literally walking on the wind and sending at our opponents. Maybe Rising Sun Kick gets renamed to Rising Wind Kick and results in a big ball of concentrated wind being sent to our targets when we do our backflip. Whirling Dragon Punch can go back to being called Hurricane Kicks and send a tornado to our target, hitting all targets in its path and around. Fists of Fury could a single target channel that sends razor sharp jets of air at the target, or all targets in front of us. The possibilities are endless.
Lets put the Wind back in Windwalker. Make Windwalker Wind Again.
Channeling the Chi
My last idea for moving Windwalker out to ranged is to change it entirely to a Chi based spec, maybe even renamed Chiwalker, but thats stupid, so not that, but something better. We already have some of our kit that focus on our Chi, and Brewmasters and Mistweavers have lost Chi as their resource, so the mechanic is uniquely ours. Abilities like Chi Wave, Chi Burst, and Crackling Jade Lightning could become integral parts of the spec. Windwalkers could build Chi and use it to attack our enemies from ranged. Chi Orbit could be a buff we put on a melee or tank in order to do exploding Chi damage to targets near them, or simply a visual representation of the resource that we punch and kick to send at our enemies, or even draw within ourselves to send into bigger abilities. We could get a version of Mistweaver’s Soothing MIsts that does damage rather than heals. Like with Wind, basing things around the Chi is more thematic and has endless possibilities.
Perhaps we do away with Energy as a resource, and just make Chi our primary resource, either as a literally reskin of Energy that we use on abilities and it refills itself over time, or as a resource we generate ourselves and then use on abilities like DH’s Fury or Hunter’s Focus.
My personal favorite ideas are to steal from Dragon Ball and have our two “finishers” or big hitting abilities be a modified Chi Burst in the form of a “Chi-mehemeha Wave” that we can charge up for a period of time and each second we spend charging, the more damage it does and gains other effects. Think of it as a Chi Explosion from HFC that we throw at our enemies to deal huge damage, but instead of Chi being the resource that modifies it, its the time we spend channeling it. This would also apply to a Chi Bomb ability that we get that grows larger and larger with more channeled time, dealing greater damage in a wider range.
Obviously switching to Ranged may not be feasible, even though I think it would be a good idea. So I have so back-up ideas if we are forced to stay in melee.
Lets bite into the Combo mechanic HARD. What if, rather than energy or Chi, our “Combo” was our resource. We’d build our combo with our base abilities like Tiger Palm, Blackout Kick, and Spinning Crane Kick, then spend what we’ve built up in a true “Combo Breaker” ability. I think this could be done in a few ways:
One way would be to copy, or just straight up steal from Rogues. I don’t know why their resource is “Combo Points” when they cast the same ability over and over again to build it, yet we have a Mastery called “Combo Strikes” that behaves differently. Blizzard seems to have an inconsistent definition of what a “combo” is, so let us continue to have it. Let us build up Combo by non-repeating abilities, then use that combo on big abilities like a powered up Rising Sun Kick, Fists of Fury, or Whirling Dragon Punch that deals damage based on how high our combo got before you used it. It wouldn’t have to be capped at 5, maybe the cap is 10, or maybe there is no cap and you can adjust your playstyle for more frequent, but smaller, “Combo Breakers” or save up your Combo for a specific moment in the fight. Obviously there’d have to be some restrictions, but there should be some potential.
A second way would be to allow us to enter a state similar to Serenity or Metamorphosis after a certain amount of successful Combo abilities. This could either modify our abilities or give us access to new ones. This would allow energy to continue to be our primary resource, and the combo mechanic to remain largely as it is. Maybe the duration of this “Combo State” would depend on how many Combo stacks you had built up before you activated, or the strength of the damage increase. There are some options that all have precedent in current mechanics that could be built upon and match to the Windwalker’s current Fighting Game theme if they don’t want to jump on the Wind or Chi train.
So these are some of my more “out there” ideas for what can be done with Windwalker. If you’d like to toss our your ideas then head over to https://wind.mathweaving.com and add your voice and your votes to the ideas there. I’ll be grabbing some of the ideas to discuss their merits and pitfalls over the next few weeks leading up to 8.3 and eventually Shadowlands.