WoW: Are you ready for the Mists of Pandaria?

Let's cover some of the changes you'll run into with the latest expansion for World of Warcraft. One of the most notable changes is the complete overhaul of the character talent system.

  • All classes have been updated with a new talent trees, improved abilities, and spells (accessible throughout levels 1-90).

  • Many old talents have been converted to specialization abilities. (For example, Druids now have access to a fourth class specialization: Guardian [Bear tanks and Cat DPS are completely separate talent builds].)

  • New spells are now learned automatically. Class trainers are only needed to change talents, glyphs, class specialization, or to utilize the dual specialization feature.

Blizzard played up the Cataclysm expansion as a groundbreaking release that would change everything, but the truth is that the character build changes were nothing compared to what is happening the new Mists of Pandaria expansion.

The gigantic talent trees and new skills we’ve become used to receiving every two levels or so have been replaced with six separate choices spread across the course of 90 levels.

In an effort to simplify things, Blizzard has decided to remove the choices that everyone “should make”… After all, what seasoned shadow priest doesn't take Vampiric Touch? What balance druid doesn't spend that crucial talent point to take Moonkin Form? Does any of this sound Familiar? Blizzard did say this back in in Cataclysm, but this time, the designers meant it.

Ultimately, if the goal was to make things easier on the players and to make this a choice in which they don't need to extensively research a character talent build, Blizzard seemed to have missed the mark with Cataclysm…

According to Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street (lead systems designer) the basic points driving the new philosophy for the Mists of Pandaria talent system are that Blizzard wants to move away from cookie-cutter trees. “Blizzard wants its players to be able to access new abilities and combinations that they never had before, like a shadow priest being able to cast the (now discipline priest spell) Power Infusion.”

This means the designers want to create a system where there is no wrong choice, and a system where every talent is just as valid as the next. These new talent trees they introduced are absolutely counter to the intent of simplification.

Granted, not every player is going to be top-tier raider, but even casual players aren't idiots. Each and every player is going to take a look at the new-for-Mists of Pandaria talents and instinctively know that what is a right choice and what is a wrong choice. That being said though… No one wants to be that guy/gal with the messed-up tree - like it or not, we're all judged by other players based on those choices we make. No matter how long you've been playing, I guarantee you've heard someone belittle someone else over some in-game choice that they've made.

In short, Blizzard didn't get rid of cookie-cutter talent trees. They simply created the need for far more cookie-cutter builds: One per raid encounter, another for heroics. And yet another for soloing. Maybe one more for PVP…

BUT Is this a bad thing?

Getting rid of easy choices is a great idea. But if the designers want you to believe that any talent or benefit that doesn't have a number can't be theory-crafted, they're wrong. It happens now. And it's going to happen when MoP launches. Without the right build, you may find yourself spinning your wheels in an attempt to hone your perfect build and if you're a top raider, you'll still going to be doing more research… instead of less.

Zygor’s guides include all the strategies you need to go into every boss battle with confidence, knowing what to expect and how to always be one step ahead in each encounter. It will even include specific tips and tactics for specific roles, including tanks, dps, and healers.

"Casuals," "Casual Raiders," or just "Newbies," will have cookie cutters to fall back on. Bottom line is the player can spend as much time researching fights, as they want to fine tune their build, even if that preferred amount of time is zero. Remember, theory-crafting isn't an exact science. It's an educated guess. The right guide can help take most of the guesswork out making these choices.

Ultimately, though Blizzard didn't accomplish their goal of removing cookie-cutter builds and really complicated things for the hard-core player by forcing us to rethink our build structure. What Blizzard did do is create a whole new, better system with appeal to a broader audience; one more reflective of the current user base. Sure, hard choices have to be made, especially choices centering around utility. If World of Warcraft is to have any talent system at all, it should be closer to the one we're getting than the one we have had in the past.

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