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What is up with SEF and Serenity?

In Legion by pandanaconda

Hello fellow monks.
I initially intended to get a general blog post on all the things you might have missed about Windwalker in the first month of legion; gear, talents, dungeons, performances, legendaries…

However, early on in that post I got stuck on explaining the issues I had with Storm, Earth, and Fire. My drafts got pretty long and since Storm, Earth, and Fire is likely the biggest issue about Windwalker right now it deserved its own article. This post is likely to be full of rants. I’m pretty annoyed by the current situation, it’s been a problem with Windwalker for several years now and it shouldn’t be. This can also work as yet another report of these bugs, although I’m sure I’ll forget some. I’ll state once again my suggestion in that regard, although I doubt it’ll get used.

Everyone and their sempai is running Serenity on Warcraftlogs; I was told Whirling Dragon Punch was on par with it?

You might remember a couple articles we wrote a while back; at that time we used a very simple action priority list for Serenity when the talent required it. Despite that, with a couple easy tweaks we were able to have simulations show that on single target, Serenity was probably no more than 5-10% worse than Whirling Dragon Punch, if not better in the long run.

In these articles, I also highlighted the fact that Serenity brought a lot more than Storm, Earth, and Fire on 2-5 targets. On this amount of targets, the tagging mechanic of Storm, Earth, and Fire is not relevant as a skilled player will easily cover all available targets with tab-targeting. When I wrote the article about Serenity, Strike of the Windlord was doing crazy damage on AoE so that more than made up for the lost Whirling Dragon Punch casts, and free Spinning Crane Kick casts represented way too many free resources.

However, we told our readers (you) that the talents would likely be on par. This is not what we’re seeing right now; people are pulling extremely high numbers with Serenity and despite the AoE potential, the double stacks, the interaction with Spiritual Focus, Storm, Earth, and Fire is barely seeing play at the highest level.
Of course part of it is due to the cleave potential of Serenity. Emerald Nightmare always has at least a second target on Mythic difficulty. Higher Mythic+ dungeons fit Serenity very well, since on 2-5 targets it shines. But the reason lies elsewhere.

Storm, Earth, and Fire has a very high amount of bugs affecting it, many of which can be game-breaking. This doesn’t make the spell completely useless since it’s very potent, but since the bug free Serenity is the alternative option, it’s too good to pass up.

Bugs? I thought Storm, Earth, and Fire was looking fine?

Well, unfortunately you’re wrong. We’re partly to be blamed for this, as we missed some of the Storm, Earth, and Fire issues on beta or notified them late. However, it’s been months since we’ve reported most of these (trying to whisper blizzard CMs, reporting through the in-game bug report on NA and EU, through alpha/beta bug reports…). We can’t be held fully responsible for the main cooldown and iconic spell of the Windwalker not working correctly. Some of the bugs I can understand being “intended”. However some of these are most definitely not intended.

I understand if everything was fixed, Windwalker might be too strong and only mages are allowed to do a lot more DPS than others. However I’d rather see Storm, Earth, and Fire damage percentage reduced slightly so that Serenity can remain somewhat competitive. It’s a better alternative than being balanced around bugs.

Here is a list of some of these issues with the spell:

**This has been fixed by Blizzard. However, the fix made it worse. The clones will now cast the instant abilities that you do, while still channeling Fists of Fury. The problem is that they now stop at 4 ticks of Fists of Fury even if you do not cancel the channel early.**

  • Storm, Earth, and Fire clones stack their own Hit Combo: I heard at some point this might be considered as intentional. I find this hard to believe that so many little things would be intended to reduce the mechanics around which the class is balanced to the point where a player might doubt whether using their DPS cooldown is a good idea or not.
  • Storm, Earth, and Fire clones attacked banished targets, even in a cluster of crowd controlled targets: This is more of a quality of life change, but just like I how I dislike when 33% of my damage is wasted on the immune Eye of Il’Gynoth, I dislike it even more when my Earth Spirit goes to Fists of Fury a banished target and breaks Paralysis or Hex in the process.

Some other notable targets in dungeons are tagged as in combat at all times and Storm, Earth, and Fire clones will aggro them. The trash packs before Corstilax in the Arcway and Sentries in Court of Stars are two such targets which can ruin a good run.

These are not bugs – apparently working as intended, Windwalk along folks.

So early during alpha, developers were toying around with Storm, Earth, and Fire as a toggle and Tigereye Brew as a DPS cooldown. Many different ideas were tried, each with its own issues. Everything was all right because it was alpha and we didn’t expect things to work perfectly. We were happy developers were letting us test so that we could get a feel of it.

One day, Tigereye Brew was removed and we were told Storm, Earth, and Fire was now our DPS cooldown, on single target and AoE. We were given two stacks of it to replicate our on demand burst from Warlords of Draenor and Storm, Earth, and Fire stopped being a DPS loss on single target.
Or did it? When this change happened, Celestalon was very good at communicating with the players, going as far as to hop in the community discord for Windwalkers, answering questions. That place was way less crowded back then and a good discussion took place.
Among things brought up on forums and in Discord was the issue that Storm, Earth, and Fire had been buggy in the past. Many players were uncomfortable with it being our DPS cooldown considering how the clones behaved in the past. The concept looked very unreliable but the idea was really cool and exciting.

We were told that since it was now our DPS cooldown, developers would be aware of it and quicker to fix things not affecting it. And here we are today, more than half a year later. Out of maybe a dozen bugs affecting Storm, Earth, and Fire, only the one where our mastery didn’t affect the clones damage (meaning Storm, Earth, and Fire was a DPS loss with a strong mastery proc) ended up being fixed.

I believe Windwalker is NOT Blizzard’s highest priority; we’re a small part of the community and our spec is niche, under represented and always kind of tricky to play. Can we have some quality of life changes for once?

I’m not asking for everything to get fixed but Storm, Earth, and Fire reducing your damage is very triggering.

  • This is something I think would help a lot with Windwalker’s issues. I’ve said it before, it can be very annoying for a PvP player to lose 50% of his damage while his pets are up. If they get crowd controlled, he can’t really do much and should cancel the buff, which is sad. PvP players are mostly using Serenity, which makes sense, having only one talent choice for a major cooldown is silly.
  • I’ve suggested this many times before; now that Storm, Earth, and Fire is a single target spell, there is no real reason not to have the main clone deal 100% of the player’s damage and the other two deal something like 15% of the player’s damage. This might look like a nerf of 5% damage buff when looking at numbers alone; clone AI and player control would cause it to be a strong buff.
  • There is no reason not to have this change happen. +30% damage is very relevant, +45% with Spiritual Focus if nothing changed. It could be tuned easily, but more importantly than anything, there would be no way Storm, Earth, and Fire could end up being a DPS loss.

I’ll try to go back to discussing these talents, giving players tips about how to play Serenity while it’s their best option. But above all, I hope we can discuss this issue with developers better than by getting tweets like this. Storm, Earth, and Fire was supposed to be the iconic spell of the new Windwalker. Windwalker is very strong and in a decent spot and can compete with Rogue despite having lower utility. We crush dungeons, and raids, but Storm, Earth, and Fire is a failure. Let’s make this change folks 🙁


Hopefully, this answers more questions than it creates. As always you can find us on Discord to answer questions, and if you liked what you read don’t hesitate to scroll down or to the top and subscribe and support WtW.