Thursday, July 08, 2010

Talent Tree Changes

Extensive talent tree changes coming in Cataclysm.

I'm not really sure what to think of these changes. In general, I like the smaller trees. I'm just not sure about the forced specialization.

It means that there is much less potential builds out there. No 30/11, or 21/20 builds will be possible. But on the other hand, such builds tend to be rare anyways. Sometimes choice is an illusion, and in reality there are only a handful of viable builds. So the end result might be the same now and in Cataclysm, but it will just be more obvious.

As well, right now the 11 and 21 point talents tend to be a little weak, just to keep other-spec builds in check. This is especially true when leveling. Take paladin trees for example. Aura Mastery, Divine Favor, Divine Sacrifice, Blessing of Sacrifice, and Sanctified Retribution are good abilities, but they are a little boring.

Compare them to the 31 point talents of Holy Shock, Holy Shield, and Repentance. Those talents are "fun" talents, but they come so late, and you get them at a much higher level, just to prevent off-talent builds from picking them up. Wouldn't Protection leveling be much more fun if you could get Holy Shield at level 20?

The one "fun" early ability, Seal of Command, is perfect to get at level 20. Unfortunately, it's quite arguable that Seal of Command has made Protection overpowered at producing AoE threat. Because it is available so early, Protection can pick up Seal of Command, forcing a choice between leaving Protection slightly overpowered, or weakening Retribution.

The enforced specialization does away with those concerns. You could move more interesting abilities earlier in the tree, confident that you won't accidentally overpower one of the other two trees.

The current trees are a little top-heavy. Sometimes it's hard to be enthusiastic about pushing through those rather boring mid-tier talents, and then you want to get all the juicy, game-changing top-tier talents.

It probably will be easier to balance PvP as well. PvP builds often forwent the deep damage increasing talents in favor of mid-tier utility and survival talents.

So on the whole it's probably a good change that strengthens the game mechanically. I guess I mourn the illusion of a potential vast amount of builds. An mirage of possibilities. But that was just a dream, and high-end group play rudely awakens you to the fact that only a few builds are ever truly viable.


  1. The main thing that concerns me about this change is how they are going to handle the mandatory talents from the secondary tree.

    Here's a list:

    - Omen of Clarity for Moonkin and Feral PVE and PVP
    - Insect Swarm for PvP resto druids
    - Improved Counterspell for PVP frost mages
    - Icy veins for Arcane Mages
    - Preparation for PVP Assasination Rogues
    - Soul Link for PvP Warlocks
    - Aimed Shot for non-MM hunters


  2. My guess? They'll balance PvP (and PvE) around the classes not having the "mandatory" abilities. GC already said in the forums that Soul Link and Prep were hurting Warlocks and Assassination Rogues because they had to assume that they had those talents, so couldn't give them cool stuff, essentially. Knowing that they won't have them, they can give them other tools to handle it.

  3. I agree with Onydan. Just because something is mandatory now doesn't mean it will be mandatory (or even accessible) in the future.

    Personally, I'm excited for the smaller trees. When Blizzard first said they were getting rid of passive-talents I felt that they would have to shrink the trees to do it.

    The forced specing took me a bit by surprise, though. However, looking at my current list of toons... only 2 of them have builds without the 51st point. One is my Warlock spec'd for soloing old heroics. I have all the health return of Affliction and all the survivability of Demonology. The other is my Blood-spec DK tank, and Blizzard has already addressed the Dancing Rune Weapon talent for tanking DKs in Cataclysm.

  4. Don't forget to mention that you'll get the tree's "defining" ability with the first point! That right there is a huge plus for leveling toons.

  5. In my opinion, most people don't dip into the off-trees until they have their 51 point talent in their main tree. So this simply reinforces that behavior, rather than adding anything new.

    There are, of course, some exceptions to this, such as Spirit Tap for leveling Holy or Disc priests. Blizz will just have to balance the trees so that each spec has the tools that are needed without dipping into the other talent trees.

    On the whole, I really like this change. No more having to wade through a dozen different builds to find a spec that works. No more waiting until lvl 40 for your class to be fun.

  6. Fannon -- 'most people don't dip into the off-trees until they have their 51 point talent'. I think this might depend on your experience in the game. Certainly as an experienced player, I have learned that it's usually a pretty bad idea to spread talents across the trees as you go. I didn't know this the first time through, however; as a result, my first attempt at talenting was a mess until I smartened up in my level 40's or so and respecced. There are still new players coming into the game who won't dig around forums, blogs and guides until much later on. This change will help them quite a bit.

    I think it's a good change overall, though it will be interesting to see it put into play.

  7. Wow. An overdue change that will make me LOVE making my new rDPS/ele Shaman alt. WTB LvB rotation from lv 10!
    Probably would have made me level my first rogue straight to 80 if this was around back in '08, and would probably make me a definite Prot fangirl if it was here for last Christmas. Oh well.

    Well thought and well played on Blizzard's behalf. <3 Zarhym.