So since this is a very hot topic with lots of misinformation and opinion based “facts”, I thought I’d try to spell it out for everyone. There are 3 periods of time that you need to know about:
Pre-Hellfire Citadel (6.2)
Back in the “olden” days of Blackrock Foundry, it was widely known that Serenity was roughly 10% more damage, on average, in single target over Chi Explosion. This couldn’t be argued against, it was fact: if there was one target, or multiples that were spread out, Serenity was noticeably better. If there were stacked targets then Chi Explosion was miles ahead. Think: Gruul vs Iron Maidens; one is clearly Serenity fight and the other is the perfect CX fight.
Chi Explosion was a smoother rotation with less damage spikes, it was also less effected by boss movement due to the range and less effected by different phases in a boss fight since there was no cooldown to keep track of and potentially misuse. Serenity provided more burst and on-demand damage, but lulls between Serenity use were slow, and trinkets and boss mechanics didn’t always mesh well with Serenity’s 1.5min cooldown. The cooldown did allow you to save up other cooldowns and unleash large quantities of damage in huge bursts. However, the damage difference between the two kept Serenity the go-to single target choice.
This patch introduced a new 4pc bonus and class trinket from Archimonde. These two things combined gave Chi Explosion the ability to do quite a bit more damage, including in single target situations. Due to each Chi used in a Chi Explosion getting 1/2 the trinket’s chance to generate a free RSK, the gap between Serenity and CX became closer. If you didn’t have both of these, then you never should have paid any attention to Chi Ex in single target till you did.
Serenity stayed the recommended way to handle single target fights. However, in practiced hands, and with a bit of luck, the sheer number of opportunities for the trinket to proc provided by Chi Explosion made it so that Chi Explosion had a higher possible maximum. If you got lucky and had frequent free RSKs, those RSKs gave you Combo Breakers, which allowed for more CX to proc more free RSK, and so on, then you could do more damage with Chi Explosion than Serenity was capable of.
Simulations showed Serenity as best for single target by 5-8% due to the number of iterations and taking the average; Serenity has a higher average damage in large samples. WarcraftLogs rankings showed several high parses with Chi Explosion because it had a higher maximum output but relied on chance to get there.
It came down to this:
- Faster button pressing
- Higher burst, lower damage between bursts
- More susceptible to mistakes, boss movement, mechanics
- Higher average damage
- Lower maximum damage
- Preferred Multistrike, so less damage when using Chi Explosion on cleave/AOE
- Slower, smoother button pressing
- Smoother damage, less burst
- Less susceptible to mistakes, boss movements, mechanics
- Lower average damage
- Higher maximum damage
- Prefers Haste, so same stat weights when using CX to cleave/AOE
Many made the switch to Chi Explosion because it is smoother and because they want the higher maximum damage.
Beyond adding flying, this patch also increased the damage of both RSK and BoK by 10% and both TP and FoF by 20%. Blackout Kick damage is independent of Chi Explosion, so without a buff to Chi Explosion, this change affected Serenity more than CX. Although CX damage will go up quite a bit due to the increase in RSK, TP, and FoF, there is no benefit from the BoK increase.
Overall its a 8-9% damage increase for Windwalker monks across the board. But, this results in Serenity going back to being roughly 10% better than CX on average in single target situations. CX remains the go-to cleave and AOE talent, but the gap is wider again on single target.
Chi Explosion may still have the higher possible maximum, its difficult to simulate so only time will tell. However, it will have a harder time making making up the gap now in single target situations.
The average damage difference is back to where it was in a time when anyone who used Chi Explosion on single target would be called out for doing it wrong. The difference now is; if chance is on your side then you CAN do more damage.
One side effect relevant to this discussion is that with the damage changes, Haste moves up in priority to be slightly behind Multistrike for Serenity, and Multistrike moves up to be nearly even with Haste for Chi Explosion. This means that whether you gear Haste or Multistrike matters slightly less. Multistrike is still slightly better for Serenity in single target, and Haste is still better for CX in multi-target, you just wont see as much of a detriment if you’re using Serenity and Haste gear in single target.
I hope this answers a lot of questions and clears the air about these changes and these two abilities. As always, please comment with any questions or get in touch with me however you can.
— Babs out