Talent system overhaul for Cataclysm

OK. The following is an excellent change. Excellent. It’s the best news to come out about Cataclysm this week (aside from my getting into the beta which is, of course, the best news evar).

Building a character just got easier without sacrificing customization.

Here’s How

The short form is that the boring and filler talents (pick-this-before-you-can-pick-this talents) are being removed and their abilities just given to us instead. As well, there’s a new specialization mechanic and a new mastery system.

If you want to read the original post you can, but here’s the summary from Blizzard, into which I have inserted my own paragraph breaks so it’s not so wall-of-texty:

When players reach level 10, they are presented with basic information on the three specializations within their class and are asked to choose one. Then they spend their talent point. The other trees darken and are unavailable until 31 points are spent in the chosen tree.

The character is awarded an active ability, and one or more passive bonuses unique to the tree they’ve chosen. As they gain levels, they’ll alternate between receiving a talent point and gaining new skills. They’ll have a 31-point tree to work down, with each talent being more integral and exciting than they have been in the past.

Once they spend their 31’st point in the final talent (at level 70), the other trees open up and become available to allocate points into from then on.

As characters move into the level 78+ areas in Cataclysm, they’ll begin seeing items with a new stat, Mastery. Once they learn the Mastery skill from their class trainer they’ll receive bonuses from the stat based on the tree they’ve specialized in.


And how does Mastery work? It begins with changing the proposed change. This’ll clear you right up thanks to my wall-busting paragraph breaks that I provide as a free service:

The original passive Mastery bonuses players were to receive according to how they spent points in each tree are being replaced by the automatic passive bonuses earned when a tree specialization is chosen. These passives are flat percentages and we no longer intend for them to scale with the number of talent points spent.

The Mastery bonus that was unique to each tree will now be derived from the Mastery stat, found on high-level items, and Mastery will be a passive skill learned from class trainers around level 75. In most cases, the Mastery stats will be the same as the tree-unique bonuses we announced earlier this year. These stats can be improved by stacking Mastery Rating found on high-level items.

So if you’re an 80 now, when you log into Cataclysm you’ll have Mastery from the get-go. (As soon as you train into it, which will cost X gold probably.) Then, as you go out adventuring you’ll find items that have Mastery Rating.

Increasing your Mastery Rating, though items, will increase the amount of benefit you get from your mastery skill which you chose via your talent tree.

All these changes mean a few things:

Building = Easier

Talent building just got easier without sacrificing customization. That is, from the start you pick a specialization and you get a whole host of benefits from that. Then, on top of that, you can spend your talent points customizing that specialization.

Then, when other trees open up, you can customize some more. But, through all of this, there aren’t so many choices as to be overwhelming. Choices should be easier. To name a completely random example, I assure you, suppose I want to specialize in arcane magic. When I do, I’ll get some arcane benefits then be able to choose arcane talents.

I like that I don’t have to mix individual fire or frost talents into my thinking immediately upon getting my first talent point.

What I’m most hoping for, above everything else, is that which specialization isn’t “the best” for raiding. That breeds homogeneity and I’d like to get away from that. I’d like for three mages in the same raid to be three different specializations and all roughly equal on the damage meter, with the decision of specialization made purely on play style, flavor, special effects, or whatever else the player would like.

All things being equal, which specialization would you choose?

I’m a Mage!

I’m enamored of the idea of feeling specialized early on, even from the first talent point spent. An extant deficiency in the system now is that with the first talent point you’re really not much different than from every other mage, regardless of what you’ve chosen.

Another re-spec?

When they change talents in the far future (next year—and you know they will) then we’ll only have to re-spend a handful of points instead of a million.

As well, if you want to re-spec on your own it’ll be an easier procedure. That encourages experimentation, yes? I know there have been times when I’ve thought about building a spec just to test it out on a dummy but have shirked at following through because I didn’t want to go to the trouble of it all.


This new system is just right. Not as many talents but still different ones. Specialization is more meaningful longer in one’s career. Mastery stats will make understanding whether something is an upgrade easier.

Change approved.


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Geek. (But so are you!)

Posted on July 7, 2010, in World of Warcraft. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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