Hey, I’m Chase Hasbrouck (aka Alaron) from WoW Insider and The Fluid Druid. Welcome to my full Windwalker Monk guide! This page will teach you everything you need to know about playing a windwalker monk for Mists of Pandaria. Read, enjoy, and if you find it helpful, feel free to hit the donate button in the sidebar. Let’s begin!
Guide Status: Updated for 5.0.5.
Windwalker monks are a melee DPS class that was newly added to the game for the Mists of Pandaria expansion. Any race, except Worgen and Goblin, can be a monk. (All my pictures are pandaren because, well, that’s all the art at the moment.) Like all monks, they have two resources that must be managed; energy and chi.
Energy regenerates at a constant rate (10/sec), and is used to power several abilities. Windwalkers have a 100-point energy pool. Energy regeneration does scale with haste, and can also be temporarily buffed by Energizing Brew.
In contrast, chi is a static 4-point pool, similar to a paladin’s holy power, that decays when out of combat. To build chi, a windwalker monk will typically use a “chi builder,” such as Jab, which hits for very little but generates chi. The windwalker monk’s hardest-hitting abilities, or “chi consumers,” use that chi to generate the bulk of the windwalker’s damage. The key difference between chi and other secondary resource systems (such as holy power or combo points) is that all chi consuming abilities have a fixed cost and damage, compared to the others where damage/effect scales based on the amount of secondary resource currently banked.
What does that mean? Well, it opens up your flexibility quite a bit. Rogues, for example, pretty much never use a finisher unless they’re at maximum combo points, because of the way it scales. In contrast, windwalkers have the flexibility to alternate chi builders and consumers for steady damage, or use multiple builders to store chi, and then multiple consumers for extra damage during a burst period.
Every 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.
These are the abilities you’re going to use most often, so know them, love them, hotkey them.
|Jab||40 energy, no CD. Basic attack. Increases chi by 1 baseline, increased to 2 via Stance of the Fierce Tiger. Can proc a free Tiger Palm/Blackout Kick via the Windwalker’s Mastery, Combo Breaker. Primary chi builder for single-target.|
|Rising Sun Kick||2 chi, 8s CD. Heavy damage to current target and causes all targets within 8 yds to take 10% additional damage (from the Monk) for 15 sec. Use this on cooldown.|
|Fists of Fury||3 chi, 25s CD. Unlike the other instant abilities, this is a 4 sec channel that hits 5 times for significant damage. It also stuns enemies during the channel. Downsides: expensive, it’s channeled (can be interrupted, no autoattack during the channel) and it splits damage among targets hit, which makes it not very good for AoE unless the stun works.|
|Blackout Kick||2 chi, no CD. Hits for good damage, and adds a DoT for 20% of the damage if attacking from behind, or a self-heal for 20% if attacking from the front (Combat Conditioning). Occasionally usable for free due to Combo Breaker.|
|Tiger Palm||1 chi, no CD. Moderate damage; adds a 10% armor penetration buff. The debuff stacks 3x, so 30% armor reduction. (10% armor reduction = 3-4% more damage, roughly.) Occasionally usable for free due to Combo Breaker.|
|Spinning Crane Kick||40 energy, no CD, generates 1 chi if it hits three or more enemies. Channeled 3 sec AoE that hits 4 times. Primary chi builder for AoE.|
|Energizing Brew||60s CD. A energy regen cooldown, very similar to a feral druid’s Tiger’s Fury except slower. Like TF, you’ll want to use this as soon as it comes off cooldown and the extra energy isn’t wasted.|
|Tigereye Brew||This is your “click me for more damage” button. It doesn’t have an actual cooldown, but you’ll want to use it at 10 stacks to maximize the effect, so roughly every 75s-90s, or more if you have to stop attacking a lot.|
|Zen Sphere||Your Level 30 talent. At the moment, things are fluctuating as to whether this (or the other L30 talents) will be used in the rotation, or just for self-healing purposes. More on this in the Talent section.|
|Invoke Xuen, the White Tiger||Your Level 90 talent. The other options appear to be more AoE focused, so we’ll rely on Xuen for the time being.|
That’s it! Master those 10, and you’ll be 95% of the way there for single-target DPS situations.
Other notable abilities:
|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 out of chi.|
|Expel Harm||Interesting ability here; generates 2 chi, heals you up to X, and then transfers that damage to your target. You’ll want to sub in Expel Harm instead of a Jab when it’s off cooldown and you’re hurt. Don’t use it at full health, though; you’ll get the chi, but you won’t get any healing or damage.|
|Roll||Dodge, duck, dip, dive, and dodge! Yeah. 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 some damage. The damage is fairly irrelevant; what’s important is that you move at epic flying speed or so (280%), which is AWESOME. Takes some practice to use, though.|
|Touch of Death||Instakills enemies with less health than you. While it’s pretty irrelevant in a raid setting, it’s still pretty cool for questing. Not usable on players, sadly.|
|Touch of Karma||This basically doubles your health for ten seconds AND reflects damage. Sweet.|
|Legacy of the Emperor||It’s a buff! Gives 5% to primary stats for you and your group. All monks get this.|
|Legacy of the White Tiger||It’s another buff! Gives 5% crit (was supposed to be mastery, but dunno) to you and your group. Only windwalkers get this.|
This isn’t everything: hit the full Monk Abilities List for the whole list. (Coming soon).
Still a work in progress, obviously. Many thanks to Gahddo for his work on the WW portion of Simulationcraft. Below, you’ll find a list of abilities you should be using for maximum DPS, and the order you should be using them in.
- Rising Sun Kick if debuff is down or about to drop.
- Tiger Palm if buff is down, not fully stacked, or about to drop.
- Tigereye Brew at 10 stacks.
- Energizing Brew on cooldown. (Preferably, only if energy below 40.)
- Invoke Xuen on cooldown.
- Rising Sun Kick on cooldown.
- Fists of Fury on cooldown. (Only if energy below 60; don’t use while using Energizing Brew.)
- Blackout Kick or Tiger Palm procs from Combo Breaker.
- Jab or Expel Harm to generate chi.
- Blackout Kick filler.
It looks long, but it’s not really too tough because most of it is cooldown-based. You’re going to click Tigereye Brew, Energizing Brew, Xuen, Rising Sun Kick, and Fists of Fury as soon as they’re available (mostly). Other than that, you use Combo Breaker procs, Tiger Palm to maintain the buff, Jab to generate chi, and toss a few Blackout Kicks when you have time and chi.
Overall, your damage breakdowns will look something like this:
- 35% melee (including Tiger Strikes)
- 25% Blackout Kick
- 15% Rising Sun Kick
- 10% Fists of Fury
- 15% everything else (Xuen, Jab, Tiger Palm)
AoE rotation: (5+ targets, else use single-target rotation; with 3-4 targets use single-target rotation but use SCK instead of Jab)
- Rising Sun Kick every ~15 sec to keep the debuff up
- Tigereye Brew/Energizing Brew on cooldown when it makes sense
- Invoke Xuen/Rushing Jade Wind on cooldown
- Spinning Crane Kick
Not too complicated. I’m still working out exactly when you’ll want RJW and when you’ll want Xuen, but Xuen cleaves well, so I see RJW being used only for mass AoE.
- Level 15: Momentum. Either this or Celerity; I find I prefer Momentum.
- Level 30: Chi Wave. Does more healing than Zen Sphere. Chi Burst is a decent option to help out a group if you can get 6+ people together.
- Level 45: Power Strikes or Chi Brew. PS gives you one less button to think about. Chi Brew gives you a burst option.
- Level 60: Leg Sweep. The best choice for helping out tanks with trash.
- Level 75: Diffuse Magic. Healing Elixirs is too underpowered, and Dampen Harm is too situational. I’ll take the self-dispel.
- Level 90: Invoke Xuen, the White Tiger. Because it’s AWESOME (and the other choices are pretty bad, though Rushing Jade Wind might be helpful for the occasional AoE situation).
For a broader discussion, see the Monk Talents page.
There’s really not too big a selection in terms of interesting glyphs for Windwalkers, but here’s a few that might be worth it. Most are situational-type glyphs.
- 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 Touch of Karma: Useful but dangerous; you can sit in a void zone and do some decent damage.
- Glyph of Afterlife: Good for leveling.
- 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 Enduring Healing Sphere: Reaching here, but maybe you can set up a “full heal” point prefight?
For leveling, I’ll probably roll with Afterlife, Spinning Fire Blossom, and Blackout Kick (that last one depends on how squishy I feel). Once I hit 90, I’ll go with Blackout Kick, Spinning Crane Kick, and one other, though nothing really jumps out at me for the third slot.
For the full list of glyphs (including the cosmetic minor glyphs), see the Monk Glyphs page.
Gear, Stat Weights and Reforging.
Here’s a quick BiS list; this may change if stat weights change (likely).
Stat weights are looking fairly simple: Agility is the best, followed by hit/expertise to 7.5%, then haste, then crit, then mastery. For reforging, you’ll want to follow that order. Once you get 2pc set bonus, you’ll want to put crit in front of haste.
Here’s all the recommended enchants: I’ll try to go back and add in others if options present themselves. Having two crafting professions remains the best choice. Not mentioned in the table is Alchemy (+320 agi or +450 stam from Mixology) and Jewelcrafting (2 gems that give +160 agi over their rare equivalents). Herbalism (2880 haste on-use ability) and Skinning (480 crit) bonuses are half as effective as those from the crafting professions; Mining (480 stamina) is of course useful but YMMV.
|Head||Head enchants are 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)|
|Wrists||Greater Agility (170 agi)
Blacksmithing: Socket Bracer (gem socket, stacks with enchant)
Leatherworking: Fur Lining – Agility (500 agi)
|Hands||Superior Expertise (170 exp) or Greater Haste (170 haste)
Blacksmithing: Socket Gloves (gem socket, stacks with enchant)
Engineering: Synapse Springs (1920 agi proc, stacks with enchant)
|Fingers||Enchanting: Greater Agility (160 agi) x2|
|Back||Accuracy (180 hit) or Superior Critical Strike (180 crit)
Tailoring: Swordguard Embroidery (4000 AP proc)
|Main Hand||Dancing Steel (1650 agi proc). Windsong is okay.|
Gemming and Consumables
In order to make non-primary stat gems more compelling, Mists doubled the amount of secondary stats provided by gems. At the moment, this is really only relevant for hit and expertise, as only those stats are worth more than 50% of agility. As such, you should gem hit/exp to cap first, then follow the stat weights in the gear table. Perfect gems are now equivalent to rares. Epic gems are in the wowhead database, but I’m holding off on those for right now. If the stat weights change significantly, I’ll go back and add the other colors. Of course, if you’re a Jewelcrafter, use your supergems first.
- Meta: Since there’s no metagem with hit or expertise, only one choice here: the Agile Primal Diamond.
- Red: Delicate Primordial Ruby/Perfect Delicate Pandarian Garnet, 160 agi; Precise Primordial Ruby/Perfect Precise Pandarian Garnet, 320 exp.
- Blue: Rigid River’s Heart/Perfect Rigid Lapis Lazuli, 320 hit.
- Yellow: Nothing.
- Purple: Accurate Imperial Amethyst/Perfect Accurate Roguestone, 160 hit/160 exp; Glinting Imperial Amethyst/Perfect Glinting Roguestone, 80 agi/160 hit.
- Green: hit/mastery, hit/PvP Def, non-optimal.
- Orange: Lots of things with crit/haste/mastery, non-optimal.
Consumables basically work the same as they did in Cataclysm, with one major difference: there are now three tiers of food, instead of two. The best tier (+300 agi) is individual foods; the bottom two tiers (275 and 250) have individual foods or feasts, now known as “banquets.” The Pandaren Banquets/Great Pandaren Banquets are for 10m/25m respectively, and offer 275 to all. There are several other banquets, one for each cooking sub-specialization (Grill, Oven, Pot, Steamer, Wok, Brew). All of those provide 250 agi, except for Wok, which also provides 275 agi. Be prepared to level Cooking or spend heavily on the AH. Flasks and Potions work the same way they did in Cataclysm.
- 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
- Flask: Flask of Spring Blossoms
- Potion: Virmen’s Bite
Boss-Specific Strategies (TBA)
Coming soon, likely sometime after launch.
Extra discussion/tidbits here that didn’t make sense anywhere else in the guide. I’ll add things here periodically.
2H or DW?
Simulationcraft is currently showing DW with a small DPS advantage, with the difference mostly coming from better proc rates on weapon enchants (and likely trinkets). Overall, the difference is fairly negligible.
Strengths/Weaknesses of Windwalkers, compared to other melee DPS (for raidleaders or rerollers in competitive guilds)
- Great at switching targets. The high mobility afforded by FSK and FoF lets you get to a target quickly.
- Exemplary damage mitigation and good self-healing. Between Touch of Karma, Diffuse Magic/Dampen Harm, Fortify Brew, and Zen Meditation (mitigation) and Zen Sphere/Expel Harm (healing), a well-played WW will be less taxing on a healer than other melee DPS classes.
- Clunky basic abilities. Spear Hand Strike costs a ton of energy, compared to other classes. Fists of Fury locks you into being still for 3-4 seconds every 25, and the “splitting damage among multiple targets” thing doesn’t help much if you have a priority target.
- Low burst potential. The brews are short cooldowns that are intended to be used rotationally, so the only real burst comes from Xuen, which isn’t that strong (it IS strong if there’s adds, however).
Well, that wraps up the guide! If there’s anything specific you’d like me to add, discuss, just think I got wrong, just drop me a note and let me know! Also, here’s some other guides you’d do well to check out: