My, aren’t you talented?

There have been startling developments regarding how our talents will be arranged in Cataclysm, and boy it’s a bombshell. I can’t say for certain whether the change will be good or bad, but it will most definitely completely redefine the way we think.

The basics

  • At level 10 you get basic information on each of the three trees, and asked to make a choice for one of them.
  • You will gain an active ability (say, Mind Flay for a Shadowpriest) and one or more passive bonuses.
  • At that level, and roughly every other level, you will get a talent point
  • You must invest those points in your chosen specialization, until you hit 31 points (at level 70).
  • Each talent tree will have a 31st-point ability, instead of the current 51 points.
  • Instead of being 1-5 points, talents will now range at 1-3 points each.
  • You will have 41 points in total at level 85.
  • Once you learn the Mastery skill from the trainer, you will be able to make use of the Mastery stat on gear.
  • This Mastery will be the third bonus from the previous Mastery system, based on your specialization

This will replace the current talent trees, the old incarnation of the Mastery system, as well as some talented abilities. In the case of Shadowpriests, it seems likely we will get Mind Flay as a free level 10 ability for choosing to become Shadow, and gain Shadowform some time later.

With this new system, the idea is to reduce complication, “concentrate coolness” and make a specialization feel like a really big deal as soon as possible. If your choice for Shadowpriest instantly unlocks Mind Flay, it makes you feel much more like a Shadowpriest than having Spirit Tap or Darkness.

I was sceptical at first to be honest, because it felt like a cheap way out of the feedback reported that trees were too easy to fill. But in reality, it’s brilliant. It reminded me a bit of the Specializations of Dragon Age: Origins, where just picking one gave you passive stat bonuses and/or a cool benefit unique to that specialization. After that, it also unlocks several special abilities (like talents) which further give you active abilities.

What I expect

The core principles of the talent trees are said to be:

  • Give cool new bonuses or abilities
  • Remove unwanted/neglected talents
  • Compress the trees to 20-odd talents, up to a 31st point ability

Let’s see what we can surmise of this:

  • Spirit Tap [IN]: A core lower-level mana regeneration tool based on killing things, perfect for questing.
  • Dark Thoughts [UNSURE]: Pushback resistance is nice, and important for a damage-dealer. However, it might be one of our passive bonuses.
  • Darkness [OUT]: Since we will get a passive damage bonus from being Shadow, I expect that to be bumped and this talent to be removed or redesigned.
  • Shadow Affinity [UNSURE]: Threat reductions would be removed, and without it the mana return upon dispel is flimsy. Might be merged with Dark Thoughts.
  • Improved Shadow Word: Pain [OUT]: Damage bonus to a single spell does not change your playstyle I imagine it would not fit the budget.
  • Shadow Weaving [IN]: An interesting mechanic, which requires you to alter your playstyle.
  • Improved Psychic Scream [IN]: PvP-oriented and good for leveling. Might move up a bit in the tree.
  • Improved Mind Blast [IN]: Mortal strike and lower cooldown are good things.
  • Mind Flay [OUT]: Will become a Specialization bonus most likely.
  • Silence [IN]: Nice bit of CC, good for certain hard modes and also while leveling and PvP. Might be better off elsewhere in the tree, and making Improved Psychic Scream the prerequisite for Horror instead.
  • Veiled Shadows [IN]: But since it reduces the cooldown on a high-level ability, I’d expect it to be at least a 21 point talent.
  • Shadow Reach [UNSURE]: Range might be normalized, but it could also be kept in as it is a choice to make.
  • Empowered Shadow Orbs [IN]: Well, as in as a beta talent can be, but it will be at the bottom of the tree, since it affects a Mastery you can only get at level 78+.
  • Vampiric Embrace [IN]: And in fact I expect it to be put earlier in the tree, or be one of our new active abilities. I also expect it to be a 1-3 point talent, removing the need for a “talent improving a talented ability”.
  • Focused Mind [IN]: Reducing the mana cost on certain abilities is nice, and since mana regeneration will be a problem for us, I hope it will stay or be redesigned if considered boring.
  • Mind Melt [IN]: New version is much more active, so yes. Considering it works on Mind Spike, will be lower in the tree.
  • Improved Devouring Plague [IN]: Interesting, powerful and good to have. Will possibly be higher in the tree (at 11 points or so).
  • Shadow Form [OUT]: Will most likely be a passive ability, learned at level 20 or so. It might be that the current Improved Shadowform becomes a new talent.
  • Improved Shadowform [IN]: Snare removal and the aura will be necessary for light reading…errr, light raiding.
  • Shadow Power [IN]: More damage on a crit is a core damage dealer ability. Unless they even it out across the board, expect it to be in.
  • Shadowy Apparition [IN]: Come on, we all want to become living artilley right?
  • Psychic Horror [IN]: Yes, but it would make more sense to make Improved Psychic Scream its prerequisite.
  • Vampiric Touch [IN]: New DoT, including the Replenishment/mana drain option. I expect this spell to be heavily reworked, possibily giving more mana to us but less to raid members. However, in my opinion the mana and health gain by DPS is a core Shadowpriest theme.
  • Pain and Suffering [IN]: But should be lower in the tree.
  • Twisted Faith [IN]: Core healer to shadow conversion.
  • Dispersion [IN]: Yes we can.

That’s about 19 talents I expect to be in, and a few unsure. That matches quite nicely. I think some talents will be merged, and a lot of talents will have a particular PvP use and a PvE use, to clean stuff up.

New talent I’d expect:

  • The unannounced Haste aura talent.

All in all, it looks relatively solid. I am interested to see what will be removed, turned into a passive bonuses, and whether this will give some room to give us some really cool abilities to use in Cataclysm.


4 Responses to “My, aren’t you talented?”

  1. Fertzane Says:

    Even of the keepers you mentioned, I would expect about a quarter of them to disappear as they combine with other talents just to boost the cool factor of them.

    I would like to see talents that evolve as you put points into them, rather than just getting bigger numbers (which should be a side effect of ability points and mastery). 1 point gets you scream, 2 gets you silence, 3 gets you horror. This would remove the need to use prerequisites for talents, and each point adds function, rather than points going to”more of the same with higher numbers”.

    • True, as I said some of the talents are combined abilities; when one goes, it probably will be combined with another.

      I don’t think we’ll be seeing “morphing” talents just yet. First off, it would be way off the design currently put in place, secondly it would make things too complicated. Descriptions would have to be very long, and newer players couldn’t make heads or tails out of it.

  2. I think this redesign makes sense. I think we’d all prefer 41 rocking talents than 70 something totally forgettable options.

    How this ties in with dual specialisation at 40 I don’t know. How this affects low level Priests who talent into Shadow for soloing, but also queue as Healer in the Dungeon Finder I can’t imagine.

    All this Mastery stuff is starting to sound pretty meh. If it’s Critical Strike doesn’t that mean that instead of enchanting all our get with +sp we’ll now get an extra line that reads +20 Critical Strike?

    What if Critical Strike (or whatever) ends up being low on our itemization priority list? We’re stuck with it.

    I guess I just think they’re crossing over into the realms of Enchanting here. And compared to the Armor Reforging ideas they were throwing around in the start Mastery has really become meaningless. If you play as Shadow it’s not like you get to choose your Mastery right? You just end up with say +100 Critical Strike across your gear.

    Lame. Build it into our Tier and give us something more interesting.

  3. Well Cassandri, Mastery no longer works that way.

    Ignore the “plus damage” and “plus crit” masteries (our first two). They will be part of a passive bonus we get for just picking “Shadow”.
    Instead, the Shadow Orbs mastery (the third, flavour one) is going to be affected by Mastery on gear.

    As for healing in low-level dungeons, that’s not very likely to happen. It will become harder to do, but also a healer with a giant Shadowpriest logo in their character screen (introduced in Cata) will not really be acceptable to most puggers anyway.

    As for dual-spec, once you buy it you have a second spec. The second spec still obeys the rules, so if Holy will need the first 31 points put in Holy.

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