Tree Passives – The Breakdown


  • Passive Ability – Heart Strike
  • Passive “Talents” – Veteren of the Third War, Death Rune Mastery, Vengeance


  • Passive Ability – Frost Strike
  • Passive “Talents” – Icy Talons, Blood of the North


  • Passive Ability – Scourge Strike
  • Passive “Talents” – Master of Ghouls, Impurity, Reaping

First impression – The passive abilities are no brainers. Of course each spec was going to get its respective strike. Did anyone honestly expect otherwise? Nothing else would have fit; except, perhaps, Howling Blast for Frost, but Frost Strike is much more iconic/integral, not to mention HB has its own problems.

The passive “talents” (or whatever one wishes to refer to them as) are a bit more intriguing. Yes, Veteran of the Third War and Vengeance were announced already. Yes, Icy Talons is a pretty obvious fit for Frost. Yes, Impurity was set to be removed, and thus isn’t a complete shock to see for Unholy (although, it’s a moderately weak bonus, relative to Icy Talons, but c’est la vie. Besides, Master of Ghouls easily makes up for it).

It’s the death rune talents which really have me surprised. Forget the fact that death runes have been notoriously weak for some time, and were only getting weaker with Blood’s emphasis on Death Strike and Unholy’s lack of extra talent points. Forget the fact that death runes don’t play nice with the new rune system (i.e, if Frost does two consecutive Blood Strikes, you then have to wait a whopping twenty seconds for both Death Runes to be up at the same time). Forget the fact that death runes have a rather buggy history, in terms of both display and functionality. Forget all of that.

Instead, focus on the fact that death runes are actually pretty active in their affect. By this, I mean compare to Icy Talons or Impurity. Death runes don’t just passively increase your damage; they mix up your rotation (in a reliable, predictable manner, but still). Thus, as much as I currently hate them for talents, and even though they have all those problems listed above (and then some)… I think they actually make rather excellent free bonuses. After all, they’ve always been decent in effect – they just haven’t been good enough to outweigh the various opportunity costs (in most cases). Giving them for free rids Blizzard of that problem (as well as the inherent one of them having been “all or nothing” talents), and instead design our rotations around them as they’re unavoidable. It’s a nice solution.

Surprised, but happy, I am.

Now all they need to do is work out the bugs, and perhaps let death runes refresh together (as opposed to consecutively) in the new rune system (which would give them additional flavour, plus make it easier on Frost).

I’m sure both – or, at least, the first – will happen. Even if the latter doesn’t, colour me pleased.

11 Responses to Tree Passives – The Breakdown

  1. Roth says:

    Wow I was right about Blood of the North. Even Im surprised.

    • Minaka says:

      You are truly a master of prognostication.

    • Roth says:

      Oh wait no, I was wrong. I got the talent mixed up with Tundra Stalker. Nvm. Maybe blizzard realized the Death Rune talents were just too awkward as talents? Even as 1 point talents they would have been somewhat odd and if combined with something else, over-budget for how much it might have cost.

  2. Roth says:

    Virulence made the first cut….I hope that talent gets combined with something else.

  3. Coldfire989 says:

    Well I will be no more vendetta interesting I liked lvling with that as blood before. But I guess Death Strike can more then make up for it.

  4. Anaroth says:

    minor issue but does blood of the north still buff frost strike and blood strike?

    These changes don’t really do anything do fix the issues with the various builds, but could be considered a step in that direction. I suspect there’s still a lot of iteration to be done on the various strikes.

    I wonder if the solution to the unholy gcd issue is in fact to make it so that the average obliterate for unholy is better than the IT and SS combo, that way you could have a few more free gcds, obviously it should be worse than a 2xSS combo.

    If I read the runic empowerment talent correctly then you can essential force the procced rune.
    for example if you go
    Ob, BS, SS, and then get a RE proc it has to be on the second unholy rune.

    Having Death runes regening simultaneously is an interesting idea. I’m not sure how useful it really is though, especially for unholy as it’s already has gcd issues.

  5. Olanai says:

    “Forget the fact that death runes don’t play nice with the new rune system (i.e, if Frost does two consecutive Blood Strikes, you then have to wait a whopping twenty seconds for both Death Runes to be up at the same time). ”

    You don’t necessarily need them both at the same time to make use of them. If you’re using one Frost rune for a Howling Blast, say, then you have a free Unholy rune sitting around doing nothing – just having one Death Rune ready would allow an Obliterate. Also, they could come back faster with Runic Empowerment.

  6. Anaroth says:

    Woah going by, gargoyle is now F+U rather than a RP cost, interesting.
    Quick question is ebon plaguebringer still a 3rd disease?

    • Roth says:

      Im sure the Gargoyle thing is just a mixup…like when we originally saw that Icy Touch and (I think) Death Coil had an 8 second cooldown.

  7. Malifik says:

    Kinda disappointed to see “On A Pale Horse” removed from unholy. That, in my mind, was a “fun” talent which also was integral for PvP, and drastically helps the leveling process as well. Perhaps we’ll see a new flavor ability akin to Paladins’ Crusader Aura?

    • Sag says:

      What’s funny is that the paladin ability that did the same thing for mounted and movement speed stayed in. I think On a Pale Horse was removed more because it reduced stun and movement impairing effect duration. Those talents were supposed to be targeted by blizzard. So the increased movement speed could make a come back.

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