Sunday, March 30, 2008

Deeper Talent Trees and Specialization

Vasc of Crushridge writes:
It recently dawned upon me that the reason for the extinction of the hybrid are the extensions of the talent trees. In vanilla wow we had 51 talent points to spend, our trees went up to a 31 point talent. This means that we could "Spec" to anything and still have 20 points to put in another tree. This was a ratio of 31:20 or about 1.5:1. In BC we have 61 talent points and trees that go to 41, this means our ratio is now 41:20 or 2:1. In Wrath this will be even worse with 51 talent points and a ratio of 2.5:1 for anyone who wanted a 51 point talent.

So in vanilla, specing as a hybrid was perfectly viable, however in BC in order to be effective we must become an arch type, in Wrath this will become even more pronounced with people putting an even greater percentage of their talent points into one tree. One fix for this would be to not extend the trees at all, this would increase the number of points we could have in our "off-tree" and allow people to play as hybrids once again.

I think that Vasc is basically correct in a lot of respects, though deeper talent trees are not the sole reason for the extinction of hybrids. Time costs, increasing number of stats, and gear specialization play large factors as well.

As well, 31/30 specs would be pretty powerful, so Blizzard had to make the new top talents even more powerful. I shudder to think how crazy the 51-point talents will have to be in order to prevent people from going 41/30.

I too would prefer that Blizzard keep talent trees at 41 points. Maybe change, clean up, and add new talents lower down. I think it would also allow for a greater variety of builds. Right now I find that there's basically 1 build for each tree, and there was a lot more build variety in WoW 1.0.

I doubt Blizzard will do this though. Too many people would be upset if there weren't any crazy 51-point talents.


  1. I personally am one who wouldn't be happy at all to not have a 51 point talent. As a shadow priest, I have very little need for any talents outside my tree. While it's technically possible that Blizzard could add talents in low level discipline that I'd want, I highly doubt that'll happen.

  2. I embrace deeper talent tree's personally. I'd rather be good at something then be horrible at everything (except healing) like pre BC. If they let paladins be good at healing AND at tanking or DPS we would be beasts and "OP" to most of the wow world. So... bring on the new 51 point talents.

  3. Wouldn't it be better to extend the trees by only 5 points rather than the 10 we saw with TBC. Players could spread their 10 new point from getting to 80 across their primary tree and their 'off-spec' tree.

  4. Personally I'd be happy with 46-point trees, giving each spec a new toy and also allowing increased diversification.

  5. the talent trees could use some serious pruning. I agree that for each spec there seems to be talents that are not comparable to the other items at that level in the tree, therefore not taken by many characters. This is a waste.

    I hope blizzard add some special abilities for the level 80 characters, but dont see any reason it has to be a full 51 point tree. Blizzard could easily add 6-7 more points of abilities and make our toons have a viable off-spec as well. Tank becomes Tank-dps or tank-heal.

  6. Hmmm...

    The problem is that the paladin was intended as a hybrid class, but Blizz (and the public in general) would really like to see hybrids just go away.

    Deeper trees will hurt the hybrid, that's for sure. Blizz's new efforts to "standardize" gear might change the gear issue, but likely not enough. Even as Ret we still need int on some gear, so we can't wear just warrior gear.

    The real question is, what's the role of the ret pally when WoTLK comes? What will our 51 point talent be to make ret viable vs the DK?

  7. I'm not sure that the Hybrid role is 'extinct' per se, as both with Warriors (in an Off-tanking role) and Druids (see Feral) a hybridised role exists. It is however true to say that there are no healing+x hybrid roles in the game, but then they have never really been that viable in the raiding end-game. The restriction to 30 people per raid serves to exacerbate this.

    In my view the three main healers' (Shaman, Priests and Paladins) mechanics, more so than the gear available or reachable quality low-tier talents, have served to dictate and restrict the viability of a healing-hybrid role. To put it bluntly: without base (or 11pt) skills providing instant heals on a low cooldown a heal+tanking role is impossible; whilst healing resets the swing-timer Heal+Melee DPS isn't possible (never mind melee-range AoE damage); and whilst heals need to be chained to keep a MT up being a healer and not-spam-casting isn't optimal, hence killing the Healer+Caster DPS hybrid.

    Druids, and to a much lesser extent Priests, have the healing spell mechanics to break the mould (HoT's), but the separate 'form' mechanic locks them out of this flexibility. It's also for precisely this reason Paladins won't get Holy Shield or a HoT as a base ability; hybrids roles which incorporate significant healing are not meant to exist and those which allow role flexibility are to be discouraged.

    This could be altered, but it requires a significant change in class mechanics and general class redesign which really isn't reasonable at this time. It also requires a huge nerfing of the numbers output by healing, and correspondingly mob damage, so that healing hybrids don't become an overly powerful PvP class sub-type. Other games are giving it a go from the sounds of things, but the sad truth is that since at least 1.9 it's been clear Blizz feel role specialisation is the way to go by restricting key talents or spells.

    At least, in my opinion ;)

  8. Zebra makes good points (do you work for Blizz? sounds like a developer talking...)

    Assuming the next generation of the talent trees do encourage deeper specialization, how does that then effect paladins, which are the most hybrid of the hybrid classes?..

    I do wonder what other changes they have in mind for Ret.

    As it is, with the way the trees were grown last time, without some pruning they will be rather precarious.

  9. I could honestly quite happily spend another 10 pts between holy/prot/ret with no new talents.

  10. Retribution 51 point = Windfury

    That's it tree done, kgo Blizz.

  11. I have to say, the 41-51pt Ret Talents will have to be fricking sweet for me to not take Reckoning in a lvl80 PvP built. Heck, they'd have to be damn good to tempt me away from it for PvE.

  12. actually one of the biggest problems i know of for not extending the trees is in the War class. there is a talent for building rage in one of the dps trees (that doesn't require getting hit) that Prot wars cant afford to get now. if the talent trees aren't extended then a prot war could get this and have near infinite rage for boss fights. say goodbye to every other tank class. unlimited rage will give so much threat that the days of prot pallys will be over (except for aoe, since then we can afford the imp ret aura for more aggro) im sure that more cases like this exist where something near game breaking can happen (infinite rage/mana/ etc or near so) but thats the one i know of so far. that being said playing around with 71 points in a 41point world gives some fun pally possibilities

  13. To be fair, I don't think that Rage is something that Prot Warriors worry too much about given they usually complain about using every available GCD. Indeed, anything which forces them to drop Devastate would probably be frowned upon.

    Though we should all be worried about 71pt warriors (as we were about 61pt warriors upon the release of TBC, and rightly so) it's the PvP side of the game which will be impacted the most when it comes to that class. No, I'd suggest that casting a nervous eye towards the new Hybrid in town is more warranted when it comes to contemplating the Paladin role in WotLK. Talents notwithstanding.