31 Point Trees – My Take

Blizzard dropped yet another bombshell today, this time in regards to a change in talent trees and the mastery system:

As the post is quite long, somewhat confusing, and generally easy to misunderstand, to sum it up so there are no misunderstandings:

  • Trees will cap out at 7 tiers (meaning with a 31 point talent) and we’ll get a talent point every other level instead of every level.
  • When you hit level ten (or after your first quest, for Death Knights), you get your first talent point. Once you spend that first talent point in a tree, you are locked into that tree for the next 30 points (60 levels).
  • The first point you spend grants you some passive bonuses, similar to the current primary and secondary mastery. The difference is that you receive these bonuses in full the second you spend that first point.
    • You only get these bonuses for the first tree you spend your first point in. Even once you’ve spent at least 31 points and are no longer locked to one tree, you don’t get any special bonuses if you branch out into another tree.
  • The first point you spend in your first tree grants you some tree-specific signature ability (or abilities). Just like with masteries, you don’t get this special bonus for the first point you spend in a second or third tree.
    • Example: Water Elemental for Frost Mages, dual-wielding for Enhancement Shaman.
  • You train your tree Mastery at level 75.

My reaction: Bravo Blizzard.

An excellent (if somewhat radical and unexpected) change which is friendly to new players and pros alike, and will benefit everyone equally? Yes, please.

This makes the talent and mastery system more intuitive. This makes your spec feel more like a spec instead of a collection of talents. This makes your first talent point actually feel worthwhile (instead of, “Woohoo, 2% more damage when I’m hitting for about 50 an ability, how noticeable and grand!”). This makes it easier to balance the trees, as making certain abilities unreachable to other specs removes many potential headaches (Resto Shaman DWing, for instance). This makes it easier to design talents, as you don’t have to worry about them competing with boring-but-effective junk (like Desolation). This makes the trees less bloated. This makes masteries feel more potent and less gradual. The list could go on and on.

The downsides? None the way I see it.

Does this simplify the game? Yes and no. Yes, there will be less talents to choose from, so by the dictionary definition, I suppose to. But, no – those talents will likely be individually more powerful (and, even if not, still more difficult to reduce to numbers then something simple like Desolation) and thus may be harder to pick and choose from.

Anyways, I’m quite happy. Excellent change, really.

Ghostcrawler also let loose a hint of what’s to come of the Unholy tree: say goodbye to Desolation, Impurity, Wandering Plague, Crypt Fever, and Rage of Rivendare. To all of them I say – good riddance. I’ll miss Wandering Plague slightly, but that’s largely because it was so good, not because it was so interesting or so spec defining.

I’m off to eat, but before I go, I just figured I would drop some other big news, albeit some of a bit more personal nature:

I am in a very, very good mood, to say the least, and I owe someone out there a huge thank you.

41 Responses to 31 Point Trees – My Take

  1. Xashena says:

    As much as I’m scared to see change like this, I’m also excited to see this sort of upheaval at the same time. In the very least this will make spending that first talent point just as meaningful as the final one for your 31 point talent. Hopefully they don’t screw this one up. :3

  2. Rebellion says:

    Well, quite a drastic change, which makes me wonder when Cata will be released if they completly redesign all 30 talent trees. There is to hope they do it right, but at least it explains why there were hardly any changes during the last few builds at all. All they were basicly doing was iterating some sells and abilities, furthermore they realized that they practicly failed in eliminating the bloat in the trees up until now.

    Im eager to see the first build they push with the new design and my thirst for a beta invitation has increased once again.

  3. Haardrada says:

    Per GC: Impurity, Desolation, Wandering Plague, Crypt Fever (but not EP) and Rage of Rivendare are all gone for good.

  4. Roth says:

    Wandering Plague? That kinda stings.

    • Consider says:

      It’s completely possible that will be made into one of the trees passives received at level 10. Or, perhaps, it will be changed into our mastery. Who knows.

      • Roth says:

        Thats very true and I sure hope so. Wandering Plague is one of those tree defining talents almost all of us would like to keep.

      • Anaroth says:

        I’m impressed that they’ve gone with this change too. All though the cataclysm design process they haven’t been afraid to tweak and change the announced features.

        The new talent / mastery design really does help to purify what’s the purpose of the various features of the talent system.

        There are two main benefits I see, the first is that it streamlines the levelling process.

        The second is that the restrictions in the number of talents and and where you can place them, instantly make it much easier for them to balance the trees. Gone are the chances to splash into a secondary tree for a nice bonus talent. It’s only those first two tiers that can be got from the other trees.

        I think our initial tree specific abilities will be the strikes.
        From what GC said about the passive tree bonuses, it looks like those will be changing somewhat. The couple he gave for arms looked to be less generic than the originally announced bonuses.

        I hope they do something to jazz up the DPS spec masteries. (Wandering plague would work okay as an unholy mastery).

    • Orkchop says:

      Well, all dots will now inherently have the ability to crit, so all we’d be loosing is the AoE.

      An AoE that doesn’t break CC might have been a bit overpowered in Cata. : / I’ll miss it though, it was fun seeing tons of numbers show up on my screen.

  5. Rebellion says:

    I wonder if this means that they will finally adress some of the logical flaws of frost and unholy.

    • Roth says:

      This change also very likely means the end of Icy Talons. My guess for the passive Masteries for Frost/Unholy:

      Icy Talons (20% melee haste)
      Black Ice
      Tundra Stalker

      Wandering Plague
      Some mixture of Impurity/Desolation

      • Consider says:

        The passives aren’t strictly old/deleted talents. They’re pretty much like the current primary and secondary mastery – the difference being you get the full affect the second you place your first point into that tree.

      • Roth says:

        Are you sure? GC leaked a couple of the Arms warrior Masteries and it kinda sounds like they did delete talents and simply turn them into Masteries. Heres the post:


        “The Arms one for the moment is Two-Handed Weapon Spec (+10% damage with two-Handed weapons) and Anger Management (free rage).”

      • Consider says:

        That doesn’t mean all of them are old talents – and even if they all do follow that example, there’s still a large change in the actual numbers and effectiveness. We might have Icy Talons (+X% haste) as a mastery or Black Ice (+X% shadow/frost damage), but stuff like RoR or WP? Doubtful. Not as a passive mastery.

      • Roth says:

        Obviously that doesnt mean that EVERY deleted talent will be turned into a Mastery…didnt mean to say that was the case. But it does sound like in many cases, thats exactly what they did.

  6. disargeria says:

    Sounds like an especially great change for low level characters. No more waiting till high levels to start feeling like the spec you chose.

    Oh, and there’s new comments on RealID in the Euro forums. And I’ve been trying to update more. >.>

  7. Anonymous says:

    I cannot wait to see the first version of the new trees.

  8. Roth says:

    Congrats on the beta invite. Gives a lot of us a lot more hope for us come Cataclysm.

  9. Insolence says:

    I hate you Consider! D:

    Na gz mate 😀 use it wisely! 😛

    On-topic – I hope this change is well thought out and well designed, considering other things they’ve released as of late I’m rather hesitant as to stand up cheering just yet.

  10. Baphomette says:

    Glad you’re in — I’m sure most of your readers would agree it’s the second-best thing to an invite of our own. 😛

    The one thing I dislike about the talent change as proposed is everyone being locked into something between 31/10/0 and 31/5/5. Hopefully there’s still enough variety within the trees to make things interesting, since there won’t be much in the way of cross-tree synergies etc.

  11. Branith says:

    I am really worried about these changes from a PvP perspective, and not only from a DK point of view!

    What happens to Lichbourne, increased range on CoI, and free mind freezes to name a few? With out those talents we will be forced to go into frost for PvP and lose out on desecration and perma ghoul. I am really skeptical about these changes. I see GC addressed prep for rogues but until I see the actual trees I am in shock.

    I am adamant about losing choices for characters, and with the recent nixxing of path of the titans and guild talents im keeping a cautious eye on these developments.

  12. Coldfire989 says:

    You should stream Consider that would be awesome!

  13. Ledge says:

    The announcement said you’d have 31 points at 70 and 41 points at 85, meaning you’d get 10 points in 15 levels. I think this means we’ll get a point every level from 81-85…so would this mean we’ll continue seeing a point every level post Cataclysm? Would this also mean the return of 41-point talents?

    • Consider says:

      They very specifically said that 31 point talents would be as deep as the trees go, so that’s that, really, although they could certainly backtrack.

      As to the one a level for the last five… I missed that mathmatical discrepancy, but it certainly makes sense/seems likely! Especially when one remembers that each level of those last five is supposed to be as much as two in terms of power gain.

  14. Rebellion says:

    Ah at long last. Finally a beta key has been awarded to someone who will actually do some testing and share it with us (I hope so).

  15. Noin says:

    Go forth and conquer, Consider. Glad to see a DK of your caliber got into the Beta. 🙂

  16. George says:

    I´m thinking about this:
    Maybe, we will not need five talentpoints for moving to the next tier.
    Maybe it will be three, just like Hunterpettalenttrees.

    I really would like to see that because it would look and feel better not havin to spend 5 points only for one talent/effect.

  17. Derah says:

    well I’ll be damned……… Pardon my language but blizz really has some balls to implement such a HUGE change………

    I gotta say my reaction to this is very mixed to say the least, I was very hyped about the whole deal with the new blood tanking tree, only to never be able to see it in the first place.

    more than likely the smaller blood tree will not be like the one we’re used to today.

    ohh well, nothing to be done about that, I hope they know what they are doing.

    • Roth says:

      Blood was severely bloated with a lot of talents that were somewhat…odd. They placed heavy emphasis on Blood Boil and the damage it deals. Which is very strange considering Heart Strike now works like Seal of Command (hits 2 additional targets) and CC is being emphasized more in Cataclysm.

      The change might actually be more beneficial to Blood than Unholy…

  18. Waylandyr says:

    Wonder if it’s too much to ask to get the old school Unholy Blight ^.^ Definitely the best animation, and being able to run around and round up mobs was great!

  19. Skullflower says:

    Glad you got in the beta 🙂

  20. Sage says:

    While I personally loved the original Unholy Blight, I have to say that having the number of AoE effects we did was simply too good to be true. Granted the current incarnation of UB is rather, bland, at least the Cataclysm incarnation is a slight improvement I think.

    As far as the 31 point trees, I agree I think it’s been a long time coming to a system that just got out of their control. It is encouraging that Blizzard is willing to take such drastic measures even at this point with their release date goal. The trees have always been fairly lackluster until you are 30-40 points deep, and did very little to assist in the leveling process of new characters, and I hope this will make the entire process more engaging for legitimately new players as well as old ones who just wanted to have a different experience.

    Looks good on paper, you will have to let of know how it feels in execution in the coming weeks Consider!

    • Waylandyr says:

      Yeah, with all the currently available tools for Unholy in terms of AoE, the old UB was definitely too much….however, with the (supposed) removal of Wandering Plague, it gives them a lot of room to flesh out Unholy.

      Overall, this is really heartening….now if they’d just tweak the RealID fiasco and let us use a handle…things would be stellar.

  21. psyquest says:

    Hi Consider

    Glad to see you got an invitation. Can we expect more in depth DK analysis in the futur?

  22. Vorga says:

    I’m glad to see the tree changes. Think about the “choices” we had with all the extra talents… we didn’t have any. Either you take cookie cutter base build Q V W X Y or Z, plus a couple of discretionary points… really… I always feel like I’m forced into a build, then get to fiddle with another few points here and there.

    If the tree changes mean most builts will be cookie cutter, I’d expect it would be no worse than what we have today, and maybe the simplicity and equivalence of talents means I get to customize my build to my preferences and go by feel for things for once, rather than figuring out which ones are mandatory.

    Happy to hear it.

  23. Bactide says:

    I love this. The only thing I’m kinda bummed about is not getting a talent point every level. That’s going to be a very awkward adjustment period for me. I’m sure I’ll get used to it, but man, after 5+ years of doing it the one-per-level way that’s definitely going to take some getting used to!

    • Sag says:

      Hard to say how that will go for me. Leveling happens so fast these days with rested + shoulders + chest + ring (maybe) + low experience requirements. I did 2-3 levels and completely forgot about the talent points. I never thought that would happen, but yeah I sure did it a few times at those lower levels.

    • Rebellion says:

      Especially at lower levels I don’t think it is that much of a diffrence, between 10 and 60 I tend to forget to spend my points on a regular basis, because they don’t do anything notable in most of the cases (what diffrence does +2% dmg make when it equals 2-10 dmg?).

      If they really design it in a way that it alternates between the one level a new talent and the next a new skill(s) then I don’t think it will be that diffrent tbh.

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