Windwalkers are the melee DPS specialization for the monk class. Themed after martial artists, your job as a windwalker is to punch and kick things repeatedly until they stop moving. Any race, except for worgen and goblin, can play a monk. Like all monks, they have two resources that must be managed; energy and chi.
Energy functions identically to rogues and feral druids, as a 100-point pool that regenerates at 10 points per second, in and out of combat. This energy regeneration can be increased with haste, and is used to power a monk's basic attacks. These abilities aren't very damaging, but they build the monk's second resource: chi. Chi is a static 4-point pool, similar to a rogue's combo points, that decays when out of combat. After the windwalker generates chi, he uses it to power his more iconic abilities, that generate the bulk of the windwalker's damage. One key difference between chi and combo points, however, is that all chi-consuming abilities have a fixed cost and damage, compared to the others where the effect scales based on the amount of combo points consumed.
This leads to a very different style. Rogues will typically never use a finisher until they have capped their combo points, in order to maximize the finisher's effect. This leads to a style where several builders are used, followed by one large finisher. Monks, however, will typically "weave" basic abilities and finishers together, giving a more steady feel. Regardless of style, any fight against non-trivial enemies will require careful management of both resources.
The two primary mistakes you want to avoid are chi dumping and energy capping. Chi dumping is using a chi builder when you are already at full chi (thereby wasting time and energy) whereas energy capping is allowing your energy meter to fill to 100, which causes your energy regeneration to stop. As you get used to the spec, you'll learn how to weave chi builders and chi consumers together to keep a constant flow going.
Here's the most critical abilities you need to execute your core task; namely, punching and kicking things in the face.
- Jab This basic attack gives you 2 chi (1 baseline plus 1 from your stance) and gives you a chance to proc a free Tiger Palm/Blackout Kick via your Mastery, Combo Breaker. This is your primary chi builder.
- Rising Sun Kick This kick costs 2 chi and does heavy damage to your current target and causes all targets within 8 yds to take 10% additional damage from your abilities for 15 seconds. You want to use this every chance you get.
- Fists of Fury I have a love/hate relationship with FoF. Unlike other melee abilities,this is a 4 second channel that hits 5 times for significant damage, which also stuns enemies during the channel. Unfortunately, it's expensive (3 chi) and the channeling effect means you can't move without interrupting it. This totally sucks when you're with an LFG jackrabbit tank who constantly drags mobs around the room.
- Blackout Kick This kick also costs 2 chi, and hits for good damage. Due to our passive ability Combat Conditioning, it adds 20% of the damage as a DoT if attacking from behind, or as a self-heal if attacking from the front. You can glyph to make the DoT effect permanent if you choose. Occasionally usable for free due to Combo Breaker.
- Tiger Palm This punch is weak and cheap at 1 chi, but gives you a 10% armor penetrarion buff. The buff stacks 3x, so it ends up being a 30% armor reduction, which is a significant damage increase for long fights. Also occasionally usable for free due to Combo Breaker.
- Spinning Crane Kick Your primary AoE attack; it's also channeled, but at least yo ucan move during it. Also builds chi.
- Energizing Brew An energy regen cooldown, very similar to a feral druid's Tiger's Fury except weaker. Like TF, you'll want to use this as soon as it comes off cooldown, but don't use it when you're close to max energy or you'll waste the effect.
- Tigereye Brew This is, essentially, a short burst-damage cooldown. It doesn't have an actual cooldown, but you'll want to use it at 10 stacks to maximize the effect, which takes around 80-90 seconds to accumulate.
- Invoke Xuen, the White Tiger Until I see otherwise, this is the only realistic level 90 talent choice for windwalkers. Xuen hits for a ton and cleaves, but he has a long cooldown so you'll have to strategize how to use him to best effect.
Sadly, punching and kicking doesn't always solve everything. Here's a few other options you can use.
- Spinning Fire Blossom This is your ranged damage ability, for the fights that force you out of melee. You can also use Crackling Jade Lightning if you're completely out of chi.
- Expel Harm Interesting ability here; generates 2 chi, heals you, and then transfers that damage to your target. You'll want to sub in Expel Harm instead of a Jab when you can. Don't use EH at full health, though; you'll get the chi, but you won't get any healing (and thus no damage).
- Roll Rolling, rolling, rolling; Rawhide! This gets you out of the way of something fast; click it, and your monk instantly rolls about 20 yards in the direction you're currently moving. (This is different from things like Blink and Disengage, which operate according to the direction you're facing.) It has two charges so can be used twice; one charge regenerates every 20 seconds.
- Flying Serpent Kick All monks get Roll, but only windwalkers get FSK. Click once to take off, click again to land and do a bit of damage/snare to anything nearby. The damage is fairly irrelevant; what's important is that you move at epic flying speed or so for several seconds, which is awesome. Takes some practice to use, though.
- Touch of Death Instakills enemies that have less health than you. While it's pretty irrelevant in a raid setting, it's still pretty cool for questing. Use it with an ability that increases your health (such as Fortifying Brew) for extra effectiveness.
- Touch of Karma This basically doubles your health for ten seconds AND reflects damage. Sweet.
- Legacy of the Emperor This buff gives 5% to primary stats for you and your group. All monks get this.
- Legacy of the White Tiger This buff gives 5% crit (it was intended to be mastery, but changed during beta) to you and your group. Only windwalkers get this, not brewmasters or mistweavers.
While lots of little tweaks likely remain undiscovered, here's the basic rotation. For all the abilities that use chi, you'll want to weave in 1-2 jabs as necessary to generate the needed chi.
- Stack buffs/debuffs: Rising Sun Kick's debuff (you'll be using RSK on cooldown anyway) and three stacks of Tiger Power from Tiger Palm.
- Use your cooldowns: Tigereye Brew, Energizing Brew, Invoke Xuen if they're available.
- Use Fists of Fury when it's up, but be careful of the channel time.
- Use any Combo Breaker procs.
- Use excess chi on Blackout Kicks.
This isn't Cataclysm where you pick your talents once and you're done; now, you'll want to switch up talents as necessary for certain fights. Take this general recommendations with that in mind.
- Level 15: Celerity With Flying Serpent Kick, we don't need the long-range movement potential of Momentum, and Tiger's Lust is more for PvP.
- Level 30: Zen Sphere The damage from these abilities is incidental; the healing is the focus, and I prefer ZS for that, though Chi Wave and Chi Burst both have useful niches.
- Level 45: Power Strikes Best chi generator, though Chi Brew is a good choice if you need burst DPS. Ascension doesn't do much when most of our chi gains/losses come in twos.
- Level 60: Leg Sweep AoE stuns are great for helping out tanks with trash, I find. Charging Ox Wave is decent, but LS is better. I might consider recommending Deadly Reach if the range increase was more than 20 yards.
- Level 75: Diffuse Magic Healing Elixirs is too underpowered, and Dampen Harm is too situational. I'll take the magic shield and self-dispel.
- Level 90: Invoke Xuen, the White Tiger Single-target damage still rules the roost, which leaves out Rushing Jade Wind and Chi Torpedo in most situations.
Just like talents, you can swap glyphs in and out at will; unlike talents, you'll find that glyphs aren't all that important anymore. Here's a few options you can try, though.
- Glyph of Blackout Kick Raiders will likely want to pass on the 20% heal, especially for fights that require you to attack frontally.
- Glyph of Spinning Crane Kick If you need to AoE on the move, you want this glyph.
- Glyph of Spinning Fire Blossom SFB is pretty hard to target accurately without the glyph. You don't need the root.
- Glyph of Fists of Fury Raid bosses (and likely some trash mobs) aren't susceptible to the FoF stun, so this lets you "tank" for a bit.
- Glyph of Retreat Good for 5-mans if you tend to be an aggro magnet.
- Glyph of Expel Harm A bit more range on this turns it into something you could use during a kite phase.
- Glyph of Touch of Karma Like Expel Harm, good for a kite phase.
- Glyph of Afterlife Good for leveling, but that's about it.
Gems and Enchants
Gemming is still up for debate, as stat values are still being finalized. As things currently stand, you will definitely want to cap hit and expertise, and possibly gem for it over agility as well. Enchants are pretty easy to guess, though.
- Head – Gone!
- Shoulders - Greater Tiger Claw Inscription (200 agi, 100 crit) Inscription - Secret Tiger Claw Inscription (520 agi, 100 crit)
- Chest - Glorious Stats (80 all primary stats)
- Waist - Living Steel Buckle (gem socket)
- Legs - Shadowleather Leg Armor (285 agi, 165 crit) Leatherworking - Primal Leg Reinforcements (cheap version)
- Feet - Blurred Speed (140 agi, 8% movespeed)
- Wrist - Greater Agility (170 agi) Blacksmithing - Socket Bracer (gem socket, stacks with enchant) Leatherworking - Fur Lining - Agility
- Hands - Superior Expertise (170 exp), Greater Haste (170 haste) or Superior Mastery (170 mastery) Blacksmithing - Socket Bracer (gem socket, stacks with enchant) Engineering - Synapse Springs (2940 agi proc)
- Fingers – Enchanting - Greater Agility
- Back - Accuracy (180 hit) or Superior Critical Strike (180 crit) Tailoring - Swordguard Embroidery (4000 AP proc)
- Weapon - Dancing Steel (1650 agi proc)
Several more options here than we used to have, thanks to the new focus on cooking. Unlike in Cataclysm, to get the best-possible food, you can't rely on a feast; you'll need to cook/buy your own.
- 300 agi: Sea Mist Rice Noodles
- 275 agi: Valley Stir Fry, Chao Cookies, Pandaren Banquet /Great Pandaren Banquet, Banquet of the Wok
- 250 agi: Sauteed Carrots, all other Banquets
- Flask: Flask of Spring Blossoms
- Potion: Virmen's Bite
It's open warfare between Alliance and Horde in Mists of Pandaria, World of Warcraft's next expansion. Jump into five new levels with new talents and class mechanics, try the new monk class, and create a pandaren character to ally with either Horde or Alliance. Look for expansion basics in our Mists FAQ, or dig into our spring press event coverage for more details!