Archive for Talents

My, aren’t you talented?

Posted in News, Shadowpriest, Theory with tags , on July 8, 2010 by Natarumah

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.

More talent previews

Posted in News, PvP, Raids and Instances, Shadowpriest, Theory with tags , , on June 10, 2010 by Natarumah

MMO-champion has released a new look at the talents here, and although all of this is still subject to change, it is both interesting and worrying. A lot is subject to change, and I do hope a bit a lot will actually change, because the direction the talents are taking still has a few glaring holes.

Spirit Tap (Redesign)

Spirit Tap will, triggered on a kill, provide 30% increased Mana Regen and will instantly regenerate 15% of our mana. Lovely at low levels or in PvP, and it’s certainly more fitting now that Spirit will not be our stick anymore, but in raids this is likely to do not much for us. I kill 1 in 5 adds or so at most, so this is a very unreliable (RNG) source of mana. But hey, we need to stick our points in something.

Dark Thoughts (New talent, replaces Improved Spirit Tap)

This talent reduces the pushback suffered from damage while casting Shadow spells by 35%/70%. This effect used to be in Improved Shadow Form (who now has our “crit aura” effect instead). A bit of a strange move to place this here, since while leveling as a Shadowpriest, you actually don’t use Mind Blast or Vampiric Touch much. And while we use Mind Flay, you should be shielded and thus not lose any casting time by damage as long as the shield holds. This will likely be one of those talents we leave until we are about level 50, as we then have Vampiric Touch.

Improved Shadowform (Redesign)

In addition to its normal effect of removing snares by using Fade, it now increases the Spell Critical chance of party and raid targets within 100 yards by 3/5%. This is interesting, but we were promised a Haste aura, which is actually useful. We get Crit talents, a Crit Mastery and now a Crit aura – more Crit than any Shadowpriest needs really.


Looking at the current setup of the talent trees, we see a lot of Crit, removal of Improved Spirit Tap and the like. This seems to me like a really weird design setup, since we love Haste much more than Crit. Critical strikes used to give us the Improved Spirit Tap, which it no longer does, so the value of Crit has lowered even further (it is not only damage, nothing more). And with the Crit value going down, we get even more bonuses to Crit. Why? It’s like giving nothing but Parry bonuses to a Protection Paladin. Sure it’s useful, but not needed and not really in the spirit of the class.

Also, my concern is with the amount of talents we have. Looking at level 85, I filled in the talent tree a bit, as you can see here. With our dependency on Discipline severely reduced, we now need to put in at most 11 points (granted, the new Martyrdom reducing Interrupt effects s pretty badass, so I put it in). Which means we can take every friggin’ talent in the Shadow Tree except useless threat mitigation. And if Threat becomes an issue, I will just put points from Fear and Silence into it, and done. We need more stuff to put points in – cookie cutter will now be 11/0/65.

And finally, mana regeneration will be a major issue for us by the looks of it. Replenishment is still in there, but that’s probably going to change. If we actually kill stuff we get a lot of mana from the new Spirit Tap, but in raids that’s not very likely. We don’t get mana regen from Meditation anymore, nor is it in our masteries. Our old standby Shadowfiend and the judicious use of Dispersion should now cover it, I guess, but until we get our mana pools up after just hitting 85 I think we will be struggling hard for a while.

My initial Feedback

As Ghostcrawler asked for feedback in the forums, I see that as the liberty to voice my opinion regarding the current talents.

  • Because two of our trees are healing trees, and only one (Discipline) has any use for us, we simply have no need to spend more than 11 points out of Shadow from a raid perspective. In PvP, I can see a Disc/Shadow Hybrid going much deeper into the other tree. Otherwise, the Shadow Tree is simply too empty, and you simply get to pick (almost) everything, including talents that are for PvP, without having to make any real choices.
  • The Shadowy Apparitions are a very interesting talent, and has the proper feel for a Shadowpriest. However, depending on how slow they will actually be, it is possible this talent will be skipped simply because it never reaches the target in time (we are ranged, after all) or the boss is moved too far away, or (in PvP) someone sidesteps them.
  • Mana management will be an issue if replenishment is altered. It is currently a large portion of our personal mana regains, as well as part of our Raid Utility (the other, Misery, having been removed). Unless spells at level 85 will be considerably cheaper for us, or we get more options to get a reduction in the mana cost, we are going to go out of mana hard until we have enough raid gear to support us.
  • Our aura (from Improved Shadowform) was rumored to be 5% Haste. We rejoiced. Now it is Crit instead, which does not make us very happy. We gain damage from Crit, but not as much as from Haste. In fact, when coupled with our Crit bonus Mastery, we will have gained so much crit we likely will always pick Haste gear over Crit gear. Unless of course the intention is for us to stack Intellect now. A Crit aura will give us back some raid utility, but I can’t get over the feeling raid leaders would much prefer it when it was tacked on a person with Bloodlust/Heroism/Time Warp. ‘Nuff said.
  • I agree that the Shadow Tree is looking solid, but it’s “100% complete” only with regards to the Alpha. It needs to be fleshed out and thought over again for the Beta. Remember the maxims “Haste>Crit”, “We need Replenishment too” and “Don’t make us pale warlock copies”.

I am anxious to see what the next iteration of the talents will be, and how our Glyphs will be altered to fit in with the new scheme.

The mirror of things to come

Posted in News, Shadowpriest, Theory with tags , , , on May 6, 2010 by Natarumah

Most of you have probably already seen all the things that have been gathered by Boubouille on MMO-Champion, and if so the Friends&Family Alpha is in full swing and ready to roll. Among the awesome snippets of news are new tradeskill recipes, a foresight of Elekk mounts that are almost nice enough to ride on, and some achievements and titles.

There’s also a minor preview of the talent trees, and a few things stand out:

Empowered Shadow Orbs (3 point talent, requires 15 points in Shadow)

Increases the damage done by your Shadow Orbs by 2%-6% and gives you a chance to receive a Shadowy Orb when critically hit in melee.

At first sight a nice damage boost, but it also seems to hint that the Orbs themselves can deal damage to others, not just enhance the damage of our spells. If so, the chances for the return of a certain well-loved Racial spell might just improve! This talent takes up the spot of Shadow Weaving, which has been moved up the tree to take the spot of the now-defunct Shadow Focus.

As an extra, the Mortal Strike effect of Improved Mind Blast has been increased to 25%, from 20%.

Shadowy Apparition (3 point talent, requires 35 points in Shadow)

When moving or dealing damage with your Shadow Word: Pain, you will sometimes summon a Shadowy version of yourself, which slowly moves towards a target afflicted with your Shadow Word: Pain. Once it reaches the target it will instantly deal damage equal to 15%-45% of your Mind Blast damage.

This spell has potential, both to deal damage, confuse people in PvP and generally add a bit of mystery and powerplay to the Shadowpriest. I only see one big problem in raids, and that is that I will probably be yelled at for standing in fires or defiles, until the raid is as used to it as they are to Mirror Images. I can only imagine the horror if I multi-dot several targets and a whole host of my copies fills the zone. This talent replaces the now-defunct Misery talent.


This is only a datamined preview, so anything could still change. Let’s face it, we will take a hit in losing Misery and the loss in Hit from Shadow Focus (as well as the mana cost reduction) but these two talents seem well within the awesome range. The calculator shows no other changes – it seems that this data was restricted to show the talents that will replace current talents, rather than a full tree.

At the time of writing this, Spirit Tap and Improved Spirit Tap still work the way they did, so it is possible we still are going to have a benefit from Spirit in some other way. Like the boomkin, we might see a talent that turns Spirit into Hit, so those of us who DPS while normally being healers can get a break. See Twisted Faith, below.

Mind Melt (Redesign, 2 point talent)

Mind Melt has been redesigned to increase the damage dealt by Shadow Word: Death by 5/10% when you target is at or below 25% health. And, when you deal damage with Mind Spike, the casting time of your next Mind Blast is reduced by 11/22%, lasting 6 seconds. Mind Melt can stack up to 3 times.

This seems a lot more interesting than a passive increase in crit chance, although this will result in a generally lesser crit chance for us, made up again by our second Mastery bonus. The inclusion of Mind Spike to enhance the casting time of Mind Blast seems like an interesting mechanic, but I’d have to see it live to gauge whether it wouldn’t be too complicated. If it works (3x Mind Spike, Mind Blast, Mind Flay, etc.)

Twisted Faith (Redesign, 5 point talent)

Twisted Faith has been redesigned so it no longer grants Spellpower from Spirit, but instead gives Hit Rating equal to 4/20% of our Spirit. This is in addition to the effect of increasing the damage of Mind Blast and Mind Flay when the target has SW:P on it.

Time will tell how much this will actually be, but it looks good!

Ethical Considerations

Note that this information being released is ALPHA information, and restricted to Blizzard employees, friends and family. Like during the Alpha of Wrath of the Lich King, someone took a risk and released this information to the outside world. Now that this information is out there, available to the public, it does seem right to comment on it. But be aware that this information was never intended for us, reflects only a marginal part of what is going to be changed, and is not set in stone.

Whether you love or hate what you see, remember that. This is only a mirror showing things to come.

Turning one’s coat – on switching talents

Posted in News with tags , on October 4, 2008 by Natarumah

Before the current Wrath of the Lich King beta, somewhere around the time of the alpha, rumors started circulating of Blizzard working on allowing players to have more than one talent spec, switching between the two determined by their need.

This idea was welcomed with cheers, whether by Shadowpriests who sometimes had to heal faces, to tanks who’d be able to grind for their income, and of course PvP players who wanted to have a shot at raiding without spending 25g every day.

As time progressed other things important to us have pushed this idea out of view, but still people ask about it sometimes on the forums. Usually these pleas for an update slowly drift from the first page, and the question slumbers in players’ minds.

But now, it seems that this idea has been revitalized. Tigole feels that this idea still has merit, but requires a lot of internal discussion and testing before even being presented as an option. Let’s have a quick skinny on the hows, whys and whos of the matter:

Who and why?

  • Raiders who want to change talents based on the raid’s needs
  • Hardcore PvP players who change talents from BGs to Arenas
  • Tanks who want to grind for their money (less relevant due to increased tank DPS)
  • Switching talents from Heroic Dungeons to raids
  • Maximum DPS talents vs. Mana conservation talents
  • Or just to play with one spec as a test while having your old in case it does not work out


Although it is clear it could be done, and aside of the discussion whether it should be done, how could it exactly be implemented? Maybe having two talent sheets, and a button that switches between them. Of course it would be imbalanced if you could do this at will, so there’d have to be a limit to it.

The current limit on respeccing is Location and Resources. You can only respecc at a class trainer, and paying a (sometimes hefty) sum of gold. If we remove the gold component, then Location becomes key. For instance, you’d have to go to a particular location to do this. To allow some form of mobility, a Summoning Stone would make a good “anchor”. Place similar stones near the BG queue NPCs, and done.

If Location would be removed as a limit, then you’d just lose some gold every time you click the button. Although still a limit, I think players don’t mind paying the gold. Players don’t like having to go to a town to respecc.

If only it were that simple, of course.

What are your ideas? What reasons would you have to have two speccs?

What do you think would be a fair and realistic limit to just respeccing at a whim, anyplace anytime?

Build 8982 sees us humbled

Posted in News with tags , , on September 24, 2008 by Natarumah

Well, that was seriously unexpected. After our complaints on the Dispersion nerf now making it useless for PvE falling on deaf ears, look what we have here…word is that we are doing such enormous DPS that we need to be nerfed to “not exceed the benchmark”. Well, after seeing the other classes, I am wondering about that. And if it is true, couldn’t they do it in another way rather than smearing our talents down even more?

Without further ado, the changes for Build 8982:

  • Mind Flay damage has been reduced. (690 to 588 for rank 9, 576 to 492 for Rank 8, etc …)
  • Shadow Word: Pain damage has been reduced. (1530 to 1380 for Rank 12, 1302 to 1176 for Rank 11, etc …)
  • Twisted Faith now Increases your spell power by 2% of your total Spirit, and your damage done by your Mind Flay and Mind Blast is increased by 2/4/6/8/10% if your target is afflicted by Mind Flay.
  • Improved Shadow Word: Pain now Increases the damage of your Shadow Word: Pain spell by 3/6%. (Down from 5/10%)

Ouch. Tomorrow morning I will try and figure out what this means, for now I just scratch my head and hope it is worth it…