Today we’re going to take a look at the talent trees that are proposed for being in the Mists of Pandaria expansion, and how those talent trees might impact twink brackets. As we continue on, keep in mind the fact that this stuff was just announced at BlizzCon 2011 and this expansion isn’t scheduled to come out for who knows how long yet so any and all information here could potentially change.
I’m not going to look at every bracket in this post because there are just too many talents to smash them all into a single post. Instead I’m going to break in into two parts; one for the 10-14 bracket, and one for the 15-19 and 20-24 brackets as the impact on the two should be roughly the same.
I did not attend or in any way participate in this year’s BlizzCon, so I’m only going off of what the MoP Talent Calculator from Wowhead has to tell me, and what I heard people say on Twitter or on other blogs. If any of this information is incorrect, incomplete, or false please notify me of such in the comments so that I can get it updated with the correct information.
Right now we don’t know much of anything about the Monk class, so they won’t be included in this particular post. It is safe to say you better be careful around those pandas with their racial sleep attack though.
At first glance this bracket doesn’t seem like it would be effected much by talent trees that are switching to every 15 levels. However, this has a huge impact on some classes because spells they enjoy right now at level 10 aren’t going to be available until much later. We don’t know all of the details of which spells might be changing to different level ranges, but we do know some of them from changes to the talent trees.
Druids don’t have any obvious change of this nature. None of the spells shown in the new talent trees are ones that are currently granted at level 10. If Feral Druids still have access to Mangle in this bracket, they should be fine. Balance Druids will likely remain unviable in this bracket without significant changes. Resto Druids will likely remain the weakest of the four healers in this bracket.
The only talent tree change we’ll see is Beastmastery, who lose the stun effect of Intimidation as it’s changed to a level 30 talent. We don’t know yet what they’re going to give BM in place of Intimidation, but a BM Hunter combining the Bat’s ranged stun with Intimidation’s stun can be a brutal combination in today’s low level brackets.
The biggest announcement of all – no more minimum range. This means that Hunters are going to lose their only weakness in low level PvP as they’ll be able to shot you from melee range. Unless Hunter damage is decreased or general player survivability is increased, Hunters are going to be even more powerful than they already are.
Mages don’t see any talent-related hits, but there is one big difference to point out. In MoP, some of the Mage’s baseline spells get restricted to your spec. Fireball can only be cast by Fire Mages, Frostbolt by Frost, and Arcane Blast (I think) can only be cast by Arcane. Meaning that the primary slow effect of most Mages in this bracket is removed from two of the specs. Granted, Arcane Mages typically kill you rather than slowing you down, and Fire kind of sucks in this bracket, but that does remove the ability for non-Frosties to slow you down in this bracket.
Paladins didn’t lose any of their level 10 talents either, and I did not see any major functionality changes mentioned either. Unless Blizzard changes spell levels or adds/removes other spells then the Paladins should remain about the same in this bracket.
Priests have no changes due to talents in this bracket either. The one thing that could be worth mentioning is that Wands are now base weapons for casters which could mean that we’ll see more mana-free ranged attacks from the casters. Then again, we might not. The one change we do know about is that Priests lose their AoE fear spell, Psychic Scream, as it becomes a level 15 talent instead of a level 12 spell.
Rogues may or may not see any impact from the removal of ranged weapons, it depends on which level they give us the ability to throw melee weapons instead and at what range. As far as talents go, non-Rogues give praise for Shadowstep has been moved to level 60, which means you shouldn’t find yourself on the receiving end of a one-shot Ambush any more. Well, not as often anyway. Maybe…
Shamans are going to see some changes in their totems as all buff totems will be removed. We don’t have enough information yet to know whether that’s a good thing or bad, but it does remove some of the low level functionality at the least. There are no talent changes that will directly impact Shamans, so only more information on the other aspects will tell us for sure how Shaman play will change.
Warlocks are going to have a different resource pool for each spec now instead of everyone using Soul Shards. I haven’t seen the details on those yet, so I don’t know exactly how or what that’s going to impact for low level Warlocks. None of the talent changes will have an impact on this bracket.
No talent tree changes here either that I can see. I don’t recall hearing anything about specific Warrior changes either, beyond the removal of ranged weapons, so we’re probably looking at very little overall change here either.
Level 15-19 and 20-24
Much like the level 10 bracket, some classes are going to see larger changes in this bracket than others because of the shifting of some spells. Both of these brackets have access to only one talent point for level 15, so in general the impact should be the same in both brackets when looking strictly at the changes to talent points.
Druids: Feline Swiftness, Displacer Beast, Tireless Pursuit
The fastest, most mobile flag carriers in the game are about to get a whole lot more mobile. It’s hard to say right now which of these is going to be the most effective in the bracket as they’re all very good, and I look forward to trying all of them out.
Feline Swiftness becomes a baseline 10% buff to movement speed, with an additional 20% while in Cat form. While the benefits of this one aren’t as extreme as the other two, it’s always active and has no cooldown, so you’ll be able to enjoy its effects constantly.
Displacer Beast (3 min cooldown) teleports you 20 yards in a random direction, removes all periodic damage effects, and puts you Cat form and Stealth for 10 seconds (attacking or taking damage cancels stealth, assume breaking cat form does as well). This has huge potential for flag carriers, though they will need to be careful to pick the flag back up after teleporting as the stealth feature will force you to drop it. I’m assuming that this teleport will take you out of combat (since stealth can’t be used in combat normally), otherwise if you’re in combat then the flag shouldn’t be dropped automatically with the current rules.
Tireless Pursuit (3 min cooldown) activates your Cat Form, removes all roots/snares and increases your Cat Form speed by 70% for 15 seconds (does not break Prowl). It’s like a beefed up version of Dash which Druids don’t currently have access to in this bracket. The only way to stop Druids right now is to either kill them quickly or use CC to slow/stop them long enough to kill them slowly, and this talent works to counter both of those.
Hunters: Frozen Arrows, Arcane Arrows, Venom Tipped Arrows
Can you say, “OP just got more OP?”
Frozen Arrows gives your Auto Shot a 30% chance to reduce the target’s movement speed by 30% for 10 seconds. Just what Hunters needed, free CC on top of their already insane ranged damage. It’s hard to imagine any twinks not taking this talent, unless Venom Tipped Arrows just proves to be too good (see below).
Arcane Arrows gives your Auto Shot a 50% chance to restore 5 focus when it deals damage. This one doesn’t seem all that great to me with Haste being so potent in the lower levels already.
Venom Tipped Arrows gives your ammunition a stacking poison DoT effect that deals Nature damage. Stacks up to 5 times. We don’t have any numbers on this one, nor does it specify only Auto Shot, so it’s hard to say how good or bad this one might be at this point.
Mages: Ring of Frost, Cone of Cold, Frostjaw
Stop!..Freezy time! /dance
Ring of Frost (1 min cooldown) creates a 10 yard diameter ring that lasts for 12 seconds, which freezes enemies who enter for 10 seconds. While it’s not the most effective form of CC, it is AoE and does have some great uses. This spell is going to add a level of strategy and area awareness to the low level brackets that many players might not be used to.
Cone of Cold (10 sec cooldown) deals Frost damage to enemies in a cone in front of the caster, freezing them in place for 3 seconds and slowing them by 60% for 6 seconds. This is pretty much what the spell currently does, except that only Frost has the talents that add the CC aspect to it. I can already see Arcane Mages making great use of this spell as another instant cast, AoE, and adding CC to their mix. Arcane is already pushing hard on the boundaries of being OP, and this might push it over the edge.
Frostjaw (20 sec cooldown) silences and freezes the target in place for 8 seconds, lasts half as long versus player targets. The only thing keeping this from being truly fantastic is the 1.5 second cast time, but even with that it’s still a great spell. Silence is always good, but the ability to cast a targeted freeze effect at range is a big deal.
I really don’t know yet which of these will see the most use in low level PvP because I can see uses for all of them. If I had to guess, I’d say Frostjaw >= Ring of Frost > Cone of Cold…maybe.
Paladins: Spped of Light, Long Arm of the Law, Pursuit of Justice
Tanks Upgrades: Rocket Boosters Edition!
Speed of Light (1 min cooldown) increases your speed by 60% for 6 seconds, during which you radiate healing to nearby allies. How much healing we’re talking about is the unknown (along with the range), which makes judging this one kind of hard. This could either be really freaking cool, or just pretty cool.
Long Arm of the Law increases your speed by 45% for 4 seconds after using Judgment. This is meant to be the Paladin’s “gap closer” similar to the Charge abilities of other tanks. I think we could end up seeing a lot of Paladin’s use this skill in these brackets as all three specs make frequent use of the Judgment spell.
Pursuit of Justice increases your speed by 10% for each current charge of Holy Power. This one is probably going to be the overall favorite. Holy uses their HP off and on depending on the situation, and they can almost always keep a full stack of HP ready with Holy Shock casts on themselves. Protection is almost always full of HP with nothing to dump it into besides Word of Glory (I did see someone mention the cooldown was being removed, but I can’t verify). Retribution uses their HP pretty frequently, so they’ll most likely use Long Arm of the Law (above) instead.
Priests: Void Tendrils, Psyfiend, Psychic Scream
Top Heals + AoE CC = MWAHHAHAHAHHAHAHA!!!
Void Tendrils (30 sec cooldown) summons shadowy tendrils out of the ground, rooting all targets within 10 yards for 20 seconds. Killing the tendril will cancel the effect. This is either really cool, or it’s going to sucks. It all depends on how easy or hard it is to kill the tendrils, and right now we don’t have any information on that.
Psyfiend (1 min cooldown) summons a Psyfiend that stands in place. The Psyfiend casts a Psychic Scream on a nearby enemy within 40 yards every 2 seconds lasting for 10 seconds, preferring anything attacking the Priest or her friends. This one is also missing some key information to know just how good or bad it will end up being. For protecting your flag carrier I see this being a pretty amazing spell, but if killing the Psyfiend takes one attack then it kind of sucks.
Psychic Scream (30 sec cooldown) works just like the version that exists right now, fearing up to 5 enemies around you. This is a solid fear spell, and one that I make very frequent use of right now. With so many unknowns in the other two talents, it’s hard to say where this one will end up in relation to them.
Rogues: Nightstalker, Subterfuge, Shadow Focus
What the..? Who? /dead Ah, $#&@!
Nightstalker increases your speed while stealthed by 20%. Right now this talent only increases speed by 10%, so doubling that means Rogues are going to be even more mobile and be able to outrun many of the other classes. Faster speed in stealth is one of my favorite traits of the Rogue right now, and I would definitely put this one to good use.
Subterfuge Your Stealth breaks 3 seconds after dealing or receiving damage, rather than doing so immediately. That extra three seconds gives you time to cast 1-2 additional attacks before your stealth is broken. If you happen to have your hands on a stash of Thistle Tea (restores 100 Energy) then you can double-Ambush people with this talent. Otherwise it’s a fair amount of protection from having your stealth broken by AoE damage and gives you a chance to use attacks like Ambush even after someone spots and attacks you if you can get behind them in time.
Shadow Focus abilities no longer cost Energy while you are stealthed. We’ll have to wait to see what abilities we have available to us before we know how good this one really is. It does mean you can Sap ALL THE THINGS for free, and you can Ambush for free instead of 60 Energy. If you have access to Ambush and Backstab then you can do Ambush/BS/BS combos with this for some very high damage, but we don’t know enough about other changes to know how good this will be just yet.
Shamans: Frozen Power, Earthgrab Totem, Repulsion Totem
Stop! Freezy ti- wait, didn’t we just do this?
Frozen Power Frost Shock now also roots the target in ice for 5 seconds. This is an existing talent deep in the Enhancement tree. I really like that this is going to be available at early levels as a ranged freeze is super cool, especially when it’s an instant cast like Frost Shock. When playing a DPS spec, I’m pretty sure I would want this one for that extra level of control knowing that I’m going to freeze the one I want to freeze (hello EFC) and I can do it at a range.
Earthgrab Totem summons a totem for 45 seconds that pulses every second to root all enemies within 8 yards for 5 seconds. Recently rooted enemies will instead have their movement speed reduced by 50%. This talent is currently deep in the Elemental tree, but it’s a pretty sweet spell. The only thing that I’m concerned about is what kind of survival this totem is going to have. If a hunter can one-shot it or a caster can wand it to death in a second, then it’s still good but not very. If it has a decent health pool, then it’s going to be fantastic.
Repulsion Totem summons a toem for 15 seconfds that repels enemies. In the world of PvP this thing is call “Totem of complete and total garbage”. If it repels Hunter and Warlock pets then it might be useful, otherwise it’s worthless.
Warlocks: Dark Regeneration, Soul Leech, Harvest of Life
There’s a reason my high school mascot was a Harvester…of Life.
Dark Regeneration (3 min cooldown) restores 50% of your Maximum health over 25 seconds. This one is a little…odd. On the one hand, that’s what heck of a healing spell, but on the other…that’s going to take forever. It feels like Gift of the Naaru to me, which is a bit too little too late to really matter in most cases. Still, that is a lot of healing and flag carriers could especially make good use of that.
Soul Leech Shadowbolt, Incinerate, and Malefic Grasp heal you for 25% of the damage dealt. I’d have to see some damage numbers and cast times to really be able to say how powerful this could be. My initial thoughts are something along the lines of, yes please thank you!
Havest of Life (channeled) drains life from the target and all targets within 20 yards, causing 94 Shadow damage and restoring 2% of the caster’s total health per target every 1 second. Lasts 3 seconds. Empowered Channel: recasting this spell before it finishes boosts the duration by 3 seconds. Stacks 5 times. Now THIS is what I’m talking about. I’d like to see the mana cost and damage potential for the appropriate level before saying too much about this one, but I love the look of it so far.
Warriors: Juggernaut, Double Time, Warbringer
Juggernaut you can charge every 12 seconds instead of every 20. This one isn’t bad, I guess. More charging is always good, but I don’t know that it’s good enough to really thrill me. If they removed the restriction of Charge to be used during combat then this could be a really useful talent, otherwise I admit I’m a bit disappointed in this talent.
Double Time you can use Charge twice before incurring its cooldown. Now this one is really interesting. As far as I’m aware, Charge can still only be used outside of combat, but using it puts you into combat, which leaves me confused. If you can use it during combat and twice in a row, then that’s pretty cool for chasing down flag carriers or even for returning the flag yourself.
Warbringer your Charge also roots the target for 5 seconds. Now this is something to write home to mama about. Right now Warriors aren’t in the best of places in low level PvP, but adding some more utility and CC to their toolbox just might do the trick. Assuming that charge hasn’t been changed to allow use during combat by default, I’d say this is the clear winner. If Charge actually is being changed, then it’s a bit of a toss up depending on the situation.
Foreseen Overall Changes
So to sum all of those changes up, this is what I see happening with low level PvP.
1. The return of CC
2. Hunters even more OP
3. Faster games
With so many classes getting CC talents in the first tier, I don’t know how we could not see more CC used in the low level brackets. The only thing I like better than killing my opponents is locking them down to the point that I can hear their furious screams over the internet, even over the sound of my own maniacal laughter. On the one hand, this is probably going to piss me off more than once (being on the receiving end of it), but on the other I look forward to adding some more tactical choices to the mix.
I don’t want #2 up there to seem too much like I’m crying here. I like playing classes that are super powerful. I love playing with Sub Rogues and Arcane Mages, and seeing how many kills I can get out of a lowbie game. But, there does come a point where things are so unbalanced that they just aren’t fun anymore. There’s an honest to goodness problem with the power of Hunters in low level PvP right now, and things only seem to be getting worse. I don’t want to see them nerfed into oblivion, but I would like to see them pulled back a bit for low levels. We’re almost at the point right now that matches are decided before the gates even fall, based purely on the number of Hunters on the opposing team.
I see faster games coming from a couple of reasons. First, because a lot of classes get more speed buffs which does have a direct impact on the speed of WSG and AB matches. Second because of the increased CC options. Teams who use CC well are going to make short work of teams that don’t know how to use it or how to fight against it. If neither team uses it, then matches stay the same. If both teams use it, then we could end up seeing longer games. With non-premades still being the norm though, I think we’ll end up with faster games overall. Personally, I’d love to see a match where both teams were making good use of CC and we had to honestly struggle for a win.