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by Published on 2010-07-11 08:32 AM

Cataclysm - Silverpine Forest Update
I added a couple of beta screenshots to the Silverpine Forest page. I didn't decide if I should spoil major lore events or not, but if you're wondering what's the story behind the 2nd and 3rd screenshot you can always check out this post.

If you're not interested in spoilers, just don't click those shots and scroll down to the blue posts.

Blue posts
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
Old Dungeons in Cataclysm
The old dungeons are getting some love, including some new quests. (Source)

Leveling with a Healing spec
We are going to make leveling easier for healing specs. You still shouldn't expect to do anywhere near the damage of a dps spec though (otherwise, why would you ever level as dps?).

You can use your healing spec to use Dungeon Finder as you level. [...] But even if you don't use dungeons, you can level with a healer spec. I've done it a few times -- it's not super fast, but it's not horribly broken either, and it will be better in Cataclysm. (Source)

Pet scaling and Mastery bonus
We can make the pet damage scale with mastery even if they aren't getting the same benefit you are (because in many cases that won't make sense). (Source)

Not enough build choices in the new trees?
WoW shipped with trees roughly the size the ones Cataclysm will be and I don't recall a lot of players at the time thinking that there weren't enough choices.

In terms of pure numbers, the new trees offer fewer maximum number of combinations than the old ones. But many of the old combinations were not viable ones anyway. The new design is fewer meaningful choices rather than having lots of trivial (or even bad) choices. (Source)

Exponential inflation of stats
You're confusing relative to absolute effects in a couple of cases here. It is not harder to balance big numbers. Math works the same way on big numbers as it does on small numbers. It's harder to balance big numbers to small numbers, which might be a problem if we expected say level 85 characters to PvP against level 35 characters, but that's not how we design the game. It isn't important to us at all that level 75 characters can hold their own vs. level 80 characters. It's more fun to become more powerful as you level rather than see only slight improvements in your stats.

Fresh level 85 content won't be trivialized by level 85 characters until a new patch comes out, at which point it's not fresh content any longer.

The point I think has the most merit is your point A, but I think that one is a worthy sacrifice in order to be able to provide more content and a sense of progression to existing characters.

There's a magic number that we've found over time to feel satisfying to players, and that's about the 13 item level jump between tiers of content. When the numbers are less than that, players see for example their health only go up by 10 or 100 points, which doesn't feel meaningful. They don't feel rewarded for their efforts and have less interest in doing the quests or dungeons or the new PvP season. If players gain a level or two and still have trouble with that raptor that gave them a hard time before, then they don't feel like the process of improving their character is worth it. Everything else is derived for the need to have that meaningful jump. (Source)

Hunter (Forums / 3.3.5 Talent Calculator)
Hunters in Cataclysm
Chimera vs. Arcane – Chimera should have a higher DPCT/damage than Arcane as a tradeoff for having a cooldown. You should be casting Chimera before Arcane in any situation where it's not on cooldown. There numbers may not be tuned quite right yet.

Serpent Sting – You’ll find it's not efficient to cast your damage-over-time on targets that die before Serpent Sting lasts the full duration. This is similar to other classes. Druids don’t use all of their bleeds on targets that die in 8 seconds; it's just not efficient. Chimera refreshing Serpent Sting is a bonus for fights that take longer, like boss fights or “epic” creatures. It isn’t factored into the “budget” of the ability, so don’t feel like you wasted a Chimera just because you couldn’t utilize the “refresh Serpent Sting” mechanic.

Tranq Shot – We want this to have a focus cost. There may be opportunities where you want to use two Tranqs in a row, and it's your decision if you want to do that or not. I think most Hunters dislike it having a focus cost because they feel their raid leaders may mandate them to dispel something on an encounter, and because they have to spend focus it sucks because you lose DPS. That's legitimate, but also the same kind of decision that a lot of other classes have to make.

Venoms – We hear you on some of their issues. We might try things like giving them some damage, reducing the focus cost, and / or have them last 5 minutes on PvE creatures. Again, shooting a Venom isn’t really ideal on targets that you kill quickly. You shouldn’t cast one on every trash mob, for example. That said, we don’t want them to become too “maintenance-y” on boss fights.

Aspects – We would like Aspect of the Fox to be as good as it can be, which we feel is 30%. Any higher than that and we lose the Steady Shot focus-generating gameplay. It seems that some hunters are, not surprisingly, somewhat turned off from doing less damage while moving as they are on live, but this is intended. A ranged class that can do almost as much damage moving as it can standing still is not going to be fair, and often is what restricts us from doing cool things with the class.

Trap Launcher – We'd like to take it off the GCD. (Source)

Paladin (Forums / 3.3.5 Talent Calculator)
Holy Paladins in LK
I'm exaggerating slightly here, but our LK model for Holy paladins was that they could only do one thing well so they might as well be overpowered at it. We could essentially just balance incoming tank damage around outgoing paladin healing. The paladin niche was very small, so if they weren't good at single target and mostly tank healing, they'd be replaced. Yet because it was small, there wasn't much risk of overstacking them as healers.

That model worked okay but it ultimately wasn't what we wanted, so we're going to change it in Cataclysm as much as we can without all of the healers playing identically. You should feel more comfortable having a paladin heal the raid and a druid heal the tank than most groups typically do now. (Source)

It will be reevaluated. (Source)

Warrior (Forums / 3.3.5 Talent Calculator)
Sunder Armor
Making Sunder do damage just felt too much like Devastate. [...] I've seen suggestions to have something you normally hit renew a Sunder. That might be the kind of thing we mess around with. (Source)

Enrage proc from damage done?
Is there any chance this means the talent Enrage in the fury tree will proc off of damage done instead of damage taken? It seems unlikely warriors will be able to pick up Wrecking Crew with the new talent system, so I think the fury signature Enrage should work the way fury does; dealing damage. Not taking it.
It's possible, but Fury also has Bloodrage, Berserker Rage and Death Wish. If Enrage included AE damage it would proc a lot more in PvE too. Like I said above, we want Fury to be angry a lot, but not 100% of the time so we may need to tweak things to get to that point. (Source)

Enrage-linked attack (Source)
We are experimenting with an attack linked to enrage. Fury has a lot of ways to get angry now, and it has good synergy with their mastery and distinction from Arms.

Please this, but don't consume the enrages. Requiring a rage to activate is fine, like GC said, fury warriors have lots of ways to get angry. But losing an 18% damage increasing enrage which we are balanced around having up 100% of the time is not worth an attack. Unless it is made so that it can only consume specific enrages (Blood Craze, Bloodthirst, etc.)
Yeah, I actually think it's cooler if the enrage is not consumed. When you give up damage over time for sudden damage, it turns out to be a math problem, and you can see lots of examples where we've ended up reverting or letting you talent out of a "consumes the charges" mechanic. If Fury isn't enraged 100% of the time (but isn't enraged 5% of the time either), and they have an attack that can only be used when enraged, but can be used frequently at that time, then you might have a pretty interesting rotation.

Arms is a gladiator, Fury is half naked (Sorry. Don't hate me warriors!)
We view Arms as a soldier, like a career military infantryman. Think Gladiator. We view Fury as the wild berserker from up in the hills. Think Braveheart or Conan. It's easy to argue that bleeds or mobility fit one or the other depending on your point of view. Arms feels tactical (in the sense of having an answer for various situations) and Fury feels reckless. The Arms warrior has pet names for all his weapons, while the Fury warrior shows up for battle drunk and half clothed. (Source)

The MMO Report
Just like every week, it's time for the MMO Report.

by Published on 2010-07-10 07:11 AM

Cataclysm Preview: Twilight Highlands
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker)
Azeroth's inhabitants endure a lifetime of struggle and conflict. They're subject to violence from neighboring enemies and rampaging beasts at an early age, and must learn to take up arms to defend themselves against predators. Regularly forced to cope with the deaths of friends, family, and members of their tribes, clans, cities, and guilds, these scarred survivors become stronger by reinforcing their walls, banding together with new allies, and raising sharp, careful, resilient children. They adapt. They change.

Few places on Azeroth exemplify this ever-changing dynamic more than the Twilight Highlands of the Eastern Kingdoms.

The highlands have undergone constant upheaval throughout their history, with races and factions thriving, collapsing, and changing seemingly without pause. The fortress-city of Grim Batol has played host to no fewer than three potent factions: the Wildhammer dwarves, who abandoned their home after a Dark Iron curse left it uninhabitable; the red dragonflight, which was forced to fight for the Horde in the captivity of the Dragonmaw orcs during the Second War; and, of course, the Dragonmaw themselves, who were driven from Grim Batol when the red dragonflight was finally freed from their grasp.

The Dragonmaw now cling to the edges of the highlands. They're no less wild and difficult to deal with than when they ruled Grim Batol, but their knowledge of dragons and warfare is of unquestionable importance, especially amidst the chaos of the Cataclysm. The Wildhammer dwarves dwell in forested outposts among the highlands' mountains; though long friendly with the Alliance, they have only now begun to consider casting their lot in with Stormwind and Ironforge thanks to the entreaties of their cousins, the Bronzebeard clan. Even the mighty red dragonflight has suffered greatly in recent months: its members have been decimated by a frenzied, newly aggressive black dragonflight attacking relentlessly from the petrified Obsidian Forest.

Amidst this upheaval, a new power has come to possess the highlands.

Though the environment has been given many names throughout its history, it's only been dubbed "Twilight" thanks to the dominance of its current masters. The fanatical Twilight's Hammer cultists appreciate the name, but there are more functional features to the swath of land they've chosen as their headquarters. It's rimmed by massive mountain peaks that scrape at the sky like fingernails, making invasion by land nearly impossible, and the highlands' black-glass beaches ensure that marine assaults are fraught with terror; ships docking on the peninsula risk running aground.

More important to the cult, however, is the promise of worldly extinction and change that permeates the land. In the dimness of the highlands, shadows are deeper. The sun and the rest of Azeroth seem distant. The elements themselves are more pronounced: fires burn hotter; rain forces its way into the ground; and the heaves and shudders of the land call to mind some colossal being stirring beneath the earth. This doesn't frighten the members of the Twilight's Hammer; it lulls them to sleep.

Their dark work is done here in a manner that could never have been realized in Silithus. The devoted of the Twilight's Hammer train in the halls of mighty fortresses, not tiny compounds and outposts. They summon dangerous, mercurial elementals who loathe each other to the point of outright war but still pause their feuds momentarily to work towards the destruction of the other races. Outside the highlands, the cult is fractious and divided. Here, it is guided on its mission of destruction by some of the cruelest and bloodiest names in history, yet the names associated with this cabal belie the true extent of its leadership.

These dark whisperers chose the highlands as their base of operations for a reason. They can feel the presence of the Old Gods in the air and see their victory in the darkness. The shifting landscape, battling factions, and wicked elements embody the cult's vision of what its world will become as it is finally purged of life and order. The rest of Azeroth will follow the Twilight Highlands into oblivion, one way or another.

Beta - Current zone status
Originally Posted by Motive (Blue Tracker)
Hi all,

Here is a full list of zones, their new level ranges, and which ones are currently ready for quest testing. I will also keep this updated with links to each zone’s official feedback thread. Please try to keep feedback for each zone consolidated into these threads, it would help us keep everything organized!

Thanks to everyone who is posting corrections and links to feedback threads. I will update the list and delete your posts as needed.

  • Alterac - No
  • Arathi – (25-30) - Yes
  • Ashenvale – (20-25) – Yes - Feedback
  • Azshara – (10-20) – Yes - Feedback
  • Badlands – (TBD!) - No
  • Blasted LandsYes - Feedback
  • Burning Steppes – (TBD!) - No
  • Darkshore - (10-20) – Yes - Feedback
  • Deepholm – (82-83) - No
  • DesolaceYes - Feedback
  • Dun Morogh – (1-10) - No
  • Durotar – (1-10) - Yes
  • Duskwood – (20-25) – Yes - Feedback
  • Dustwallow Marsh – (35-40) - Yes - Feedback
  • Eastern Plaguelands – (40-45) – No
  • Echo Isles - Yes - Feedback
  • Elwynn Forest – (1-10) - Yes
  • Felwood – (45-50) - No
  • Ferelas – (35-40) - Yes - Feedback
  • Gilneas (Worgen Start) – (1-12) - Yes
  • Hillsbrad – (20-25) - No
  • Hinterlands – (30-35) - Yes - Feedback
  • Loch Modan – (10-20) - Yes - Feedback
  • Lost Isles (Goblin Start) – (1-12) - Yes
  • Mount Hyjal – (78-82) - Yes - Feedback
  • Mulgore – (1-10) - Yes
  • North Barrens – (10-20) - Yes
  • Northshire Valley – (1-5) - Yes - Feedback
  • Redridge – (15-20) - Yes - Feedback
  • Searing Gorge – (TBD!) - No
  • Silithus – (55-60) - No
  • Silverpine – (10-20) - No
  • South Barrens – (30-35) - Yes - Feedback
  • Stonetalon – (25-30) - Yes - Feedback
  • Stranglethorn – (25-35) - Yes
  • Swamp of Sorrows – (TBD!) - No
  • Tanaris – (45-50) - Yes - Feedback
  • Teldrassil – (1-10) - Yes
  • Thousand Needles – (40-45) - No
  • Tirisfal Glades – (1-10) - Yes - Feedback
  • Twilight Highlands – (84-85) - No
  • Uldum – (84-85) - No
  • Un'Goro – (50-55) - Yes - Feedback
  • Vashj'ir – (78-82) - Yes - Feedback
  • Western Plaguelands – (35-40) - No
  • Westfall – (10-15) - Yes - Feedback
  • Wetlands – (25-30) - Yes - Feedback
  • Winterspring – (50-55) - No
And just because I know you're all going to ask anyway, here is the list of the dungeon levels from the LFGDungeons of the latest beta build.

  • Ragefire Chasm (15 - 21)
  • Deadmines (15 - 21)
  • Wailing Caverns (15 - 25)
  • Shadowfang Keep (16 - 26)
  • Blackfathom Deeps (20 - 30)
  • Stormwind Stockade (20 - 30)
  • Gnomeregan (24 - 34)
  • Scarlet Monastery - Graveyard (26 - 36)
  • Scarlet Monastery - Library (29 - 39)
  • Razorfen Kraul (30 - 40)
  • Maraudon - Purple Crystals (30 - 40)
  • Maraudon - Orange Crystals (32 - 42)
  • Scarlet Monastery - Armory (32 - 42)
  • Maraudon - Pristine Waters (34 - 44)
  • Uldaman (35 - 45)
  • Scarlet Monastery - Cathedral (35 - 45)
  • Dire Maul - East (36 - 46)
  • Scholomance (38 - 48)
  • Dire Maul - West (39 - 49)
  • Razorfen Downs (40 - 50)
  • Dire Maul - North (42 - 52)
  • Stratholme - Main Gate (42 - 52)
  • Zul'Farrak (44 - 54)
  • Stratholme - Service Entrance (46 - 56)
  • Blackrock Depths - Prison (47 - 57)
  • Sunken Temple (50 - 60)
  • Blackrock Depths - Upper City (51 - 61)
  • Lower Blackrock Spire (55 - 65)

Blue posts
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
Equal Effective Health among all tanks
Assuming you are defining Effective Health as armor x health, then it isn't and never has been our goal to have effective health be identical among all the tanks. Cooldowns, avoidance, emergency buttons and other class mechanics are all part of that package for us. What matters to us is whether or not the four tanks can tank the content with more or less the same chance of success. That's the metric we use, not a single number. (Source)

Lack of Swords Itemization
What? We love swords. Like a brother. A potentially dangerous, but nonetheless epic brother.

Overall, though, a fewer number of classes can equip swords as compared to those that can equip axes and maces. As a result, when only a finite number of items can be created within a specific period of time, it makes sound design sense to create more axes and maces than one-handed and two-handed swords.

Now, you may only be considering my statement in terms of itemization, but that's a trap I don't want you to fall into. Keep in mind that stats only make up half an item, and that the other half is the way the item appears in the game. We have incredibly talented, hard working artists; however, those artists still must manage their time efficiently and produce quality work that will best benefit the game. So, when determining what item artwork to develop and in what quantity, the weapon types that are used by more players (e.g. axes and maces) tend to be created in greater abundance.

Even so, there's still quite a few swords planned for Cataclysm that are just downright awesome. (Source)

Cross-Realm BoA Mails
Adding the ability for players to be able to mail Bind on Account items cross-realm is something we've discussed on more than one occasion. We understand that players would greatly appreciate having the option to send heirlooms, for example, to lower-level characters on different realms, so we're exploring the possibility. It's definitely on our radar! Due to the necessary infrastructure changes that would need to occur before cross-realm mail can be integrated, though, we have no immediate plans for adding this functionality as of yet. (Source)

Block %
Without defense gear any longer and with no block rating on gear, you're probably at ~5% block, which is way too low. We need base block to be higher, but we still haven't fully decided if that's something all characters get or just warriors / paladins, or just tanks, etc. (Source)

Threat Reduction Talents - Gone
The new "reduced fat" talent trees have no threat reduction talents. (Source)

Death Knight (Forums / 3.3.5 Talent Calculator)
Death Knight Tanking/Self-Healing
Our intent is that DKs take more damage to compensate for all of the self-healing. As Regill points out, Blood Craze is accessible now and we want Enraged Regen to be more attractive. (Source)

Druid (Forums / 3.3.5 Talent Calculator / Cataclysm Talent Calculator)
Omen of Clarity
If I had to guess, Omen of Clarity will be a trained ability. It's too useful to different kinds of druids. Even if you put it shallow in Resto, Feral wouldn't be able to benefit from it until very high level.

But we'll see.... (Source)

I just posted a similar thing in another thread, but I wouldn't worry too much about the current Cataclysm implementation of Eclipse. We've been focused on getting the UI functional and having it get turned on at the right moment when you spec Balance. Last time I logged into the beta as a druid, I was having Eclipse procs show up in my combat log... as a Feral. Clearly it's not ready for prime time yet.

I'm not sure we'd ever go with charges for the mechanic. That just goes against everything we're trying to do for class design. We don't want set rotations where you know you can go 1231 ad infinitum. We want players to respond to dynamic things happening that they won't be able to predict with 100% certainty. We want the best players to be those who pay attention, not those who can follow a rote rotation. Talents like Ruthlessness and Omen of Clarity are put in precisely to screw up rotations, but also to reward players who can handle that uncertainty.

You're not going to be able to fully maximize every Eclipse proc, in the same way a mage may lose a Fireball channel if she suddenly has to move or a rogue may lose combo points if he needs to quickly switch targets. But as with those example, we also want to make sure the druid isn't totally boned if something happens and you can't take full advantage of an Eclipse.

Give us a couple of beta builds, and there will be a more fully functional Eclipse that you can then comment on. (Source)

Eclipse #2
I wouldn't put much stock in the current tuning of Eclipse in Cataclysm. We just barely have the mechanic working at all.

We will still give Balance druids the Eclipse bar at level 10, along with an active ability. At high level, mastery on gear will enhance the Arcane and Nature bonuses of the bar. (Source)

Paladin (Forums / 3.3.5 Talent Calculator)
Divine Storm back into the talent tree
After further reflection, we don't think Divine Storm makes a good level 10 Ret ability. It really wants to be an AE attack, and it's just hard to make an AE attack a signature ability usable in as many situations as a signature attack deserves to be.

Divine Storm will probably go back into the talent tree. It won't be the 31-point though. Both the 31-point and the 10 ability need to have more single-target use. That means something like 3 new abilities for Retribution and several new or modified talents on top of that. Crazy.

As you can see, we're still iterating a lot on paladins. Our lack of communication is because things are changing quickly, so it doesn't make a lot of sense to share it all until things feel a little more stable. (Source)

Beacon of Light in Cataclysm (Source)
Paladin healing with Beacon is a lot more dynamic than it was without.

I think it works fine with the Cataclysm healing style. It will let you (sometimes) heal two targets at once, which is a great use of GCDs.

Beacon of Light does need dispel protection, or PvP is going to suck. Same with sacred shield.
Dispels are more expensive in Cataclysm in a few ways. I'm not sure it's going to be very strategic to dispel a spell that can immediately be reapplied.

Warlock (Forums / 3.3.5 Talent Calculator)
Pet scaling
The plan is for your pets to scale 100% with your stats. In fact, group buffs don't even work on pets any longer so that they don't double dip from those buffs. (Source)

Removing Passive Talents
If you look at the warlock trees, there are tons of talents that buff Corruption and add range and crit damage and whatever. A couple of those per tree are okay but clearly we need to remove a lot of them and that means adding new talents, which unfortunately is slow. (Source)

Soul Harvest (Soul Harvest)
Outside of combat (which means between encounters, not when you can get out of combat for 2 sec in an Arena), you can get the shards back quickly from killing things or using Harvest Soul if there is nothing conveniently around to kill. We don't want Harvest Soul to be super convenient. It's your backup option.

If we find that it's super frustrating as a lock in a long encounter (including a long Arena match), then we'll look at ways to get shards back in combat. However our prediction is as soon as we do that, locks will start blowing their shards on cooldown and then getting frustrated at a slow Aspect of the Viper-like mechanic to get them back. (Source)

Soul Link
Our thought at the moment is to put Soul Link in the second tier of talents where it is accessible to any PvP-focused warlock. (Source)

Warrior (Forums / 3.3.5 Talent Calculator)
Plans for Last Stand
I said that we'd like to remove the glyph and just make the talent all there is. Not sure if we would use the glyphed or unglyphed cooldown yet though. (Source)

Unrelenting Assault
Unrelenting Assault: This talent has been removed. (Source)

[b]Thunder Clap Spam
We're not happy with the no cooldown model. We'll try to handle the terror of "streaming adds" in another way. (Source)

Fury / Victory Rush
Also, is there still a chance fury will get a new melee attack or is the whole victory rush thing that GC talked about the new plan?

Our concern about Victory Rush is that Arms already has two big procs to watch for (Overpower and Execute) compared to Fury's one (Slam). Adding Victory Rush procs to Fury makes them feel a lot more like Arms. The right answer might lie somewhere outside of Victory Rush. (Source)

Concept Arts
Two Concept Arts have been added to the official Concept Art Gallery.

Two wallpapers have been added to the Official Site.

by Published on 2010-07-09 04:59 PM

Real Names on Official Forums - Cancelled
Originally Posted by Nethaera (Blue Tracker)
Hello everyone,

I'd like to take some time to speak with all of you regarding our desire to make the Blizzard forums a better place for players to discuss our games. We've been constantly monitoring the feedback you've given us, as well as internally discussing your concerns about the use of real names on our forums. As a result of those discussions, we've decided at this time that real names will not be required for posting on official Blizzard forums.

It's important to note that we still remain committed to improving our forums. Our efforts are driven 100% by the desire to find ways to make our community areas more welcoming for players and encourage more constructive conversations about our games. We will still move forward with new forum features such as conversation threading, the ability to rate posts up or down, improved search functionality, and more. However, when we launch the new StarCraft II forums that include these new features, you will be posting by your StarCraft II character name + character code, not your real name. The upgraded World of Warcraft forums with these new features will launch close to the release of Cataclysm, and also will not require your real name.

I want to make sure it's clear that our plans for the forums are completely separate from our plans for the optional in-game Real ID system now live with World of Warcraft and launching soon with StarCraft II. We believe that the powerful communications functionality enabled by Real ID, such as cross-game and cross-realm chat, make a great place for players to stay connected to real-life friends and family while playing Blizzard games. And of course, you'll still be able to keep your relationships at the anonymous, character level if you so choose when you communicate with other players in game. Over time, we will continue to evolve Real ID on to add new and exciting functionality within our games for players who decide to use the feature.

In closing, I want to point out that our connection with our community has always been and will always be extremely important to us. We strongly believe that Every Voice Matters, ( ) and we feel fortunate to have a community that cares so passionately about our games. We will always appreciate the feedback and support of our players, which has been a key to Blizzard's success from the beginning.

Mike Morhaime
CEO & Cofounder
Blizzard Entertainment
by Published on 2010-07-08 08:22 PM

Update - Real Names on Official Forums Cancelled - I just heard from a couple of people that the plans to display real names on official forums have been cancelled. Official confirmation soon.

The cataclysm news will resume shortly, the recent announcements slowed down the news flow because ... well, a lot of super important stuff happened.

There is also a couple of things happening on MMO-Champion and it definitely takes some of my time, hopefully I will be able to give you an update on that pretty soon. A lot of people asked how I plan to react to the RealID thing, for the moment I will probably just add a couple of new forums to the site this week to give everyone a new home depending on how that RealID thing evolves.

And just because I hate posting a news only filled with blue posts, here are two screenshots of Cataclysm to help you wait and cheer you up.

Cataclysm Talent Blue Posts
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
Passive talents vs. Specialization bonus
We could add a passive bonus that says "You do +50% melee weapon damage and +25% Frost and Shadow damage." Why make you buy essentially that same bonus in 12 separate talents when you are almost certainly going to do it anyway (unless you're a very misinformed player)? The passive bonuses don't carry a lot of risk. Other talent specs can't go fishing for them and we don't have to worry that you skipped over them. (Source)

Healers running out of mana
It happened pretty regularly before this last expansion. We have even seen it happen on heroic Halion today.

Back in Molten Core raiding, healers installed mods to help them cancel heals. They did that to conserve mana. (Source)

Reasons behind the Mastery stat
Mostly because we wanted a new stat on gear. Currently there isn't much to compete with haste vs. crit, especially once things like mp5 and arpen are gone and non-healers won't want Spirit.

We also thought having a new stat would help make the Cataclysm gear seem more interesting instead of just bigger numbers from your current gear. We met a lot about it and finally decided the best way to introduce a new stat that everyone would want would be for it to do different things for every spec. (Source)

Fun talents are here to stay
Exactly. We didn't want anyone to worry that we were pulling fun talents like say Hot Streak or Borrowed Time. Some specs need a little more help in the rotation department and we weren't trying to say everything will play just as it does today. (Source)

Paladin (Forums / 3.3.5 Talent Calculator)
Beacon of Light
Beacon is a good spell in our opinion.

Most of these arguments seem to be essentially that Beacon is the reason you can't have nice things. But that's a tuning issue, not a fundamental flaw with the spell. What you really seem to be saying is that paladins need more interesting mechanics going on when healing. I totally agree with that, but I don't think killing Beacon needs to be a part of it. (Source)

Priest (Forums / 3.3.5 Talent Calculator / Cataclysm Talent Calculator)
Holy Changes
Holy would lose or have significant changes made to the following talents: Searing Light, Holy Focus, Empowered Healing, Divine Accuracy, Improved Renew, Improved Healing, Healing Prayers, Holy Reach, Improved Holy Nova, Thriving Light and Divine Providence.
Good guesses. Honestly it was kind of fun pruning the talent trees for this overhaul because it was surprisingly easy to pick out the talents that had to go and often cathartic to delete them. One of the hardest decisions was deciding what to push up to the first couple of tiers and rectifying that with what you get at which level.

Empowered and Improved Healing are still around (in slightly altered form) but available to Disc. We kept Improved Holy Nova and might keep Improved Renew because we want Holy to be good at Renew. The others, unless I am mistaken, were destroyed in the Cataclysm. (Source)

Warrior (Forums / 3.3.5 Talent Calculator)
Thunder Clap
We're still iterating on the Cataclysm design of Thunder Clap. It needs to fall into a space where it isn't monotonous to AE tank while still giving warriors the tools they need to do the job. (Source)

Casting revenge when not taking damage
4. A way to cast Revenge when not the taking damage - e.g. "when the player with Vigilance takes damage, there is now a 20% chance to allow the use of your Revenge ability" or something similar. One reason protection warr. dps is so much lower when not taking damage is because we lose Revenge, which has become our hardest hitting ability.
I think this is a valid point. (Source)

We all knew we'd see comics about this.

by Published on 2010-07-07 04:30 PM

Update - I moved the "To Recap" part at the top of the post for those of you who hate walls of text. I also added a couple of blue posts about these changes

Cataclysm Class & Mastery Systems Update
[blizzquote author=Zarhym source=]When we first announced our design goals for class talent trees back at BlizzCon 2009, one of our major stated focuses was to remove some of the boring and "mandatory" passive talents. We mentioned that we wanted talent choices to feel more flavorful and fun, yet more meaningful at the same time. Recently, we had our fansites release information on work-in-progress talent tree previews for druids, priests, shaman, and rogues. From those previews and via alpha test feedback, a primary response we heard was that these trees didn’t incorporate the original design goals discussed at BlizzCon. This response echoes something we have been feeling internally for some time, namely that the talent tree system has not aged well since we first increased the level cap beyond level 60. In an upcoming beta build, we will unveil bold overhauls of all 30 talent trees.

To Recap
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.

We understand that these are significant changes and we still have details to solidify. We feel, however, that these changes better fulfill our original class design goals for Cataclysm, and we're confident that they will make for a better gameplay experience. Your constructive feedback is welcomed and appreciated.

Talent Tree Vision

One of the basic tenets of Blizzard game design is that of “concentrated coolness.” We’d rather have a simpler design with a lot of depth, than a complicated but shallow design. The goal for Cataclysm remains to remove a lot of the passive (or lame) talents, but we don’t think that’s possible with the current tree size. To resolve this, we're reducing each tree to 31-point talents. With this reduction in tree size we need to make sure they're being purchased along a similar leveling curve, and therefore will also be reducing the number of total talent points and the speed at which they're awarded during the leveling process.

As a result, we can keep the unique talents in each tree, particularly those which provide new spells, abilities or mechanics. We’ll still have room for extra flavorful talents and room for player customization, but we can trim a great deal of fat from each tree. The idea isn’t to give players fewer choices, but to make those choices feel more meaningful. Your rotations won’t change and you won’t lose any cool talents. What will change are all of the filler talents you had to pick up to get to the next fun talent, as well as most talents that required 5 of your hard-earned points.

We are also taking a hard look at many of the mandatory PvP talents, such as spell pushback or mechanic duration reductions. While there will always be PvP vs. PvE builds, we’d like for the difference to be less extreme, so that players don’t feel like they necessarily need to spend their second talent specialization on a PvP build.

The Rise of Specialization

We want to focus the talent trees towards your chosen style of gameplay right away. That first point you spend in a tree should be very meaningful. If you choose Enhancement, we want you to feel like an Enhancement shaman right away, not thirty talent points later. When talent trees are unlocked at level 10, you will be asked to choose your specialization (e.g. whether you want to be an Arms, Fury or Protection warrior) before spending that first point. Making this choice comes with certain benefits, including whatever passive bonuses you need to be effective in that role, and a signature ability that used to be buried deeper in the talent trees. These abilities and bonuses are only available by specializing in a specific tree. Each tree awards its own unique active ability and passives when chosen. The passive bonuses range from flat percentage increases, like a 20% increase to Fire damage for Fire mages or spell range increases for casters, to more interesting passives such as the passive rage regeneration of the former Anger Management talent for Arms warriors, Dual-Wield Specialization for Fury warriors and Combat rogues, or the ability to dual-wield itself for Enhancement shaman.

The initial talent tree selection unlocks active abilities that are core to the chosen role. Our goal is to choose abilities that let the specializations come into their own much earlier than was possible when a specialization-defining talent had to be buried deep enough that other talent trees couldn’t access them. For example, having Lava Lash and Dual-Wield right away lets an Enhancement shaman feel like an Enhancement shaman. Other role-defining examples of abilities players can now get for free at level 10 include Mortal Strike, Bloodthirst, Shield Slam, Mutilate, Shadow Step, Thunderstorm, Earth Shield, Water Elemental, and Penance.

Getting Down to the Grit

Talent trees will have around 20 unique talents instead of today's (roughly) 30 talents, and aesthetically will look a bit more like the original World of Warcraft talent trees. The 31-point talents will generally be the same as the 51-point talents we already had planned for Cataclysm. A lot of the boring or extremely specialized talents have been removed, but we don't want to remove anything that’s going to affect spell/ability rotations. We want to keep overall damage, healing, and survivability roughly the same while providing a lot of the passive bonuses for free based on your specialization choice.

While leveling, you will get 1 talent point about every 2 levels (41 points total at level 85). Our goal is to alternate between gaining a new class spell or ability and gaining a talent point with each level. As another significant change, you will not be able to put points into a different talent tree until you have dedicated 31 talent points to your primary specialization. While leveling, this will be possible at 70. Picking a talent specialization should feel important. To that end, we want to make sure new players understand the significance of reaching the bottom of their specialization tree before gaining the option of spending points in the other trees. We intend to make sure dual-specialization and re-talenting function exactly as they do today so players do not feel locked into their specialization choice.

A True Mastery

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.

Blue posts
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
"Old" masteries
I would not focus too much on the old masteries, except for the third one that scales with gear. That one is still around.

Vengeance for tanks is still around and dps get damage and healers get healing and that sort of thing but the system has changed quite a bit overall (and partially as a result of community feedback). (Source)

Next beta build will be interesting
We want to unveil the entire enchilada in the next beta build or so. Everyone here worked really hard to get the whole package to a relatively playable and polished state. In essence we're not announcing a future plan -- we're telling you how the game works today. It's all done.

It's hard to offer timelines for when we will do a new beta push, but we're talking days or a few weeks, not months. All of the passives will be visible then. (Source)

Talent Points gain rate
About one every other level, but there are some exceptions. We are trying to alternate new abilities and talent points where possible. You will have 41 talent points at 85. (Source)

Spec abilities scaling
Specialization-defining abilities that are unlocked (e.g. Mutilate, Penance, Water Elemental and Mortal Strike) will scale based on a character's level and reflect an appropriate amount of damage, healing, and mitigation, etc. With the proper balancing, having these abilities at level 10 won't trivialize the leveling experience, but instead enhance it by allowing players to incorporate unique spells and skills that highlight their specialization into their rotations at a much earlier level.

We'll be closely monitoring how these new talent changes affect gameplay in the beta and will make adjustments to the system if necessary to ensure that our original goals are met. (Source)

Dual Spec
Dual Spec won't change. If you choose Protection paladin at level 10, you can respec to Ret paladin at your class trainer. Once you unlock Dual Spec, you can have 2 Prot builds or a Prot and Ret build or whatever you'd like. It will work almost exactly the way it does now. (Source)

New Talent system is ZOMG AMAZING
It's ZOMG AMAZING. We wouldn't go through all the work it is taking if we weren't convinced it was 100% win.

On your first point, too many of the specs didn't really feel like their spec until they had spent a lot of talents in the tree. All mages pretty much played the same until level 30 to 40 or so. Even with the Cataclysm changes, a Holy, Prot and Ret paladin would pretty much be using Crusader Strike and Judgements until they had several more abilities unlocked.

On your second point, we know some players liked the option of spending some points in the first tree and then some in the second tree. Often this was just a trap for new players though because it delays your getting the 21, 31 and other "gold medal" talents that really define your tree. Experienced players might learn to get a 5/5/5 build or whatever and then respec once they could reach the 31, but we could also just make better trees that didn't ask you to do that. (Source)

How big are the new trees?
They have 38-42 or so points in them. You could spend all 41 points in one tree, though often you'll want a 5/5/31 or a 0/7/34 build instead. Every talent is 1, 2 or 3 talent points. Earlier levels have about 8 points on them (typically a 2, 2, 3) and deeper levels have about 5 points on them (typically a 1, 2, 3). (Source)

New Talent trees overview
They look superficially like vanilla talent trees, but they are far more interesting.

Almost without exception, the talents we cut were the ones everyone took or the ones nobody took. There will still be very attractive talents that probably everyone takes, but there are also definitely choices where you can only take A or B and want both. Typically you might see a useful (but not necessarily dps-enhancing) ability in your own tree, but also a really attractive one in another tree.

This is a good thing. It won't surprise me to see a knee jerk reaction from some players that we're removing their favorite talents and "dumbing down the trees." However, I'd challenge them that there can't be that many players out there that play Arcane because of Mind Mastery or Arms warrior because of Strength of Arms. Yet, if you skip either of those talents, you're just making your character less effective.

A Cataclysm goal is to remove lame or boring talents. Yet we don't want to replace all of those with procs or game-changers. Really the only solution is to have smaller trees where nearly every remaining talent is a big deal. (Source)

Hybrid builds and active talents
You typically won't get active abilities from a second tree. The most you can get in a second tree is 10 points, and usually the active abilities are deeper than this. We think it makes the distinction between say a Frost and Unholy DK more pronounced when all of their talented active abilities are different rather than being able to cherry pick the best from each tree. It does end up killing any chance for a build that goes halfway down two trees, but usually we would consider such builds failures because it meant the bottom of "your" tree wasn't good enough. These were most popular in PvP when players felt compelled to get "must have" PvP survival talents in multiple trees, and those are the kind of talents we want dead anyway.

With these changes though, the talent trees are going to be even more rebuilt than we were already planning with Cataclysm. Talents are moving all over the trees and every tree has new talents as well. We'll give you a chance to see the trees soon (tm). (Source)

Current talents are too complicated
The new model theoretically buys us several more expansions of not having to mess with the overarching talent tree design. In a broader sense though, one of the challenges of working on World of Warcraft is adding new content without making the game totally inaccessible to new players.

I have used this example several times, but we have one very senior designer at Blizzard who isn't working on WoW but obviously knows the game very well and has been very active in PvP and raiding at various points in time. He took a short break from the game (I suspect to play Modern Warfare 2) and when he came back, we had messed around with his class's talent trees and reset his talent points, so he felt like he couldn't jump back into the game again without spending 45 minutes researching what the community thought a good build would be. We're hoping with simpler (but still deep!) talent trees, players like him will feel more comfortable picking their own talents. He might eventually go poke around in theorycrafting forums to min / max his build, but he won't have the moment of being completely overwhelmed when looking at a blank talent tree. (Source)

In previous expansions, more choices were given to the players in terms of how they built their characters. Players were freely given the choice to spend points however they want.
[...] While that is true, they were also given ample opportunities to make mistakes, what we call "traps." A forum-savy player may know which are the dumb talents nobody takes or which are the mandatory ones that might at first glance seem too bland to take. But why have "choices" that are just there for new players or people who just want to swim against the stream just to be different? We'd rather have actual legitimate choices, which we feel like we can offer by having a stable of fewer good talents.

To use one of the infamous GC analogies, the best restaurants are not necessarily those with a lot of entrees on the menu. The best restaurants probably have very few choices, but you know that anything you order will be great. They don't bother cooking it if they know it will suck. That's a real choice as opposed to the diner with fish on the menu that everyone, ever the waitress, whispers under their breath that you should never, ever order. (Source)

Dungeon Finder and new talent system
We expect a lot of players to use Dungeon Finder while leveling up. The feature works great for that, and we're spending some effort to update the older dungeons to not be so overspawned and in some cases to even fit into the zone quest content better.

Likewise, we're making an effort to let tank and healing specs be more effective when soloing. DPS specs will still probably be more efficient leveling, but if you just love the Resto shaman tree, you should be able to quest and run some dungeons without even having a dual-spec. It won't be spectacular, but it will be a huge improvement from today.

Tanks and healers will get basic abilities before level 15 (when Dungeon Finder is available) to do their jobs, but it's also true that the lower level content is more forgiving of your talent spec. (Source)

You get it at level 10 for choosing a tanking tree. It already scaled with your health and incoming damage, so there isn't really a need for it to scale with talent points spent (especially since nearly 100% of tanks spend the most points in a tanking tree). (Source)

Death Knight (Forums / 3.3.5 Talent Calculator)
When do DK get to pick a specialization?
When they get their first talent point for completing a quest. (Source)

Deleted talents
Looking at Unholy, talents like Impurity, Desolation, Wandering Plague, Crypt Fever (but not Ebon Plaguebringer) and Rage of Rivendare (sad about the lore hit there) are gone. (Source)

Druid (Forums / 3.3.5 Talent Calculator / Cataclysm Talent Calculator)
Feral builds with the new system
Feral is a challenge. We still want to have a cat-centric, bear-centric or hybrid build. It has always been one of the more challenging trees to work on. (Source)

Omen of Clarity
Likewise, we're not sure what we'll do with Omen yet. The obvious choices are leave it Resto only, put it high enough for everyone to subspec or make it a trained ability. (Source)

Paladin (Forums / 3.3.5 Talent Calculator)
Divine Storm @LVL10 for Retribution
Divine Storm is a big deal because Retribution paladins get it at level 10. You'll get a new bottom o' the tree talent. (Source)

Priest (Forums / 3.3.5 Talent Calculator / Cataclysm Talent Calculator)
Mind Flay and Shadowform @LVL1x for Shadow
We really wanted to do this, but the more we thought about it, what does a level 10 Shadowform do? Spam Shadow Word: Pain? We'll probably give Shadow priests Mind Flay at level 10 and let them get Shadowform shortly after that. (Source)

Holy signature ability
We think healers will expect to get an actual heal (or some kind of defensive ability) as their signature spell, but we also want something that's actually useful at level 10. Lightwell, Circle of Healing and even Spirit of Redemption are very signature Holy abilities, but none are very useful when soloing gnolls in Elwynn. (Source)

Rogue (Forums / 3.3.5 Talent Calculator / Cataclysm Talent Calculator)
It's a design flaw that rogues and locks are so dependent on Prep and Soul Link respectively. Those talents are currently holding the classes back. Now we can't balance around the assumption that you have those talents so your classes need to function without them. Maybe it means lowering base cooldowns.... (Source)

Naturally, the 31-point Shadow Dance is totally inaccessible to Rogues speccing other trees. But what about Shadowstep? Is that a tree-specific, unpointed talent that is totally inaccessible to all other specs?
Inaccessible. Shadowstep is essentially no longer a talent. There is nowhere to buy it. You don't get any passive bonuses for picking your second tree. Essentially you choose at level 10 whether to be an Assassination, Combat or Subtlety rogue, and while you can change your mind later, that determines what special ability and what passives you get. (Source)

Shaman (Forums / 3.3.5 Talent Calculator / Cataclysm Talent Calculator)
Dual Wield for Enhancement
So now my cagey comments about how Enhancement gets dual-wield right away and Elemental never gets it make more sense. (Source)

Warlock (Forums / 3.3.5 Talent Calculator)
Soul Link
It's a design flaw that rogues and locks are so dependent on Prep and Soul Link respectively. Those talents are currently holding the classes back. Now we can't balance around the assumption that you have those talents so your classes need to function without them. Maybe it means lowering base cooldowns.... (Source)

Probably no early Felguard for Demonology
It probably won't be Felguard. It's a little odd to spring that on a warlock that doesn't even have a Voidwalker yet. (Source)

Cool talents aren't going away
Warlocks are hard.

With a mage, you can keep Frost from throwing a lot of Fireballs just by making Frost do Frost damage. The warlocks don't have schools like that, and they have some shared spells, so it's tricky to get them to use the spells we want them to use sometimes. None of the cool talents, the ones that change up what you're doing, such as Molten Core or Backdraft, are going away. (Source)

Warrior (Forums / 3.3.5 Talent Calculator)
Mortal Strike
It depends. Improved Mortal Strike for example is gone and that's just the way Mortal Strike hits now (we added the damage and cooldown into MS). (Source)

Shield Slam @LVL10 for Protection
Protection warriors get Shield Slam (and Arms and Fury lose it). Devastate is still an attractive talent deep in the tree, but it doesn't say "Prot warrior" the way Shield Slam does. (Source)

Toughness stays, Vitality is a passive bonus
Protection has one passive talent, which is Toughness. They get Vitality as a passive for choosing Protection at level 10. The other talents are a mix of threat and defensive abilities, but none are as passive as Deflection. There are (hopefully) attractive talents in the first two tiers of Arms and Fury. The other tank trees will be similar but not identical (Feral as always will be the least similar). (Source)

Specialization Bonus - Anger Management and 2H Weapon Spec for Arms
The Arms one for the moment is Two-Handed Weapon Spec (+10% damage with two-Handed weapons) and Anger Management (free rage). (Source)

Arms - Mastery bonus in Cataclysm
Mastery still exists, but the design is a little cleaner.

Arms got some passive damage per talent point.
Arms got some passive armor pen per talent point.
Arms got a chance to proc a swing per talent point, which is enhanced by mastery rating on gear.

Arms gets whatever it needs as passives at level 10.
Arms gets a chance to proc a swing at level 78(ish), which is enhanced by mastery rating on gear.

Mastery now means "proc a swing" for Arms and that's all it means, which is easier to understand. (Source)

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