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.I you can read the entire post from Zarhym here. I also suggest you check out this thread in which Ghostcrawler has been very active.
My First Reaction: Very Positive
If you've gone back and read some of my early blog posts you will know that I am Moonkin by default rather then choice. To this day, all druids start the leveling process as Balance, because your DPS choices for the first 10 levels is to cast spells or whack mobs with a stick, literally. So, when I got to level 10 and was faced with the choice of how to spend that first talent point, the choice was obvious to me.
The Resto talents seem dumb because it's the healing tree. I know there are people who level as resto, but most of them are either masochists or level as a part of a group. Plus none of the early talents seemed all that useful
Feral seemed even dumber. All of the feral talents only benefit you if you are in Bear or Cat form, and you don't even get Bear form until you complete a quest chain or cat form until you reach level 20. Put that on top of the fact that I just spend 10 levels using spells, choosing feral would have been like choosing a whole new toon. I won't even go into how freaken frustrating it has been to level as feral from 10 to 20.
The obvious choice when I hit level 10 was Balance. At the time I didn't know about the negative stigma that was attached to the spec, but I'd just spend the last 10 levels using spells and here is a talent that makes my spells cast faster. From then on my choice was to go for the better DPS talent, or go for the crappy early feral and resto talents. Obviously I choose Balance (most of the time), and the rest is history.
My Point: When I got to level 10 I didn't have a real choice, because feral and resto weren't real options. My hope is that this change provides that option at level 10 when the choice really matters, and hopefully ferals will get cat form at level 10 instead of level 20. That is why I like this change.
While I am a fan of this change, it is not scoring a 10 with me just yet. One of the themes of Cataclysm has been to provide players with more "meaningful" choices in their talent trees, and that is he heading under which they are promoting this change. How you spend that first talent point is a big choice, but I don't see how this change makes the 40 choices after that first one more interesting. Hamlet (the writer of the EJ Moonkin guide), said it best on the Moonkin Repository:
They're selling this as an opportunity to make spec choices more personal/interesting (which is always such a talking point). That benefit is illusory though--there aren't going to be magically more interesting talent choices, unless they design interesting talents (which they could have done under either system). The only effect for top-level players is a bit of cleanup, which is always nice.Has Hamlet said, this is all an illusion. It doesn't matter how many talent points you have, if the talents don't change then the choices don't change. It's not like Brambles or Owlkin Frenzy will become more interesting because Vengeance is now a passive ability. Unless, Blizzard provides some new talent choices soon, I stand by the post I made a month ago and say that Moonkin will still lack "meaningful" choices even under the new system.
Not that this really matters to most of us as level 80 Moonkin, but one of my first thoughts after reading this announcement was what would this mean for those level 10 balance druids out there.
I'll admit that my first thought was that Balance Druids would get Moonkin form at level 10, because that is the signature ability of the balance tree. However I quickly realized that it is probably a bad choice. It would be a little to much, to soon, in my opinion.
Then I looked at the talent tree to see what other signature abilities might be good for a level 10. Force of Nature and Starfall pop out as possibilities, but I think they are very unlikely choices. I don't see a good reason for giving a level 10 a long cooldown, and the lack of control we have over Starfall could make a new players life very difficult. Solar Beam also seems unlikely, because an interrupt would have very limited utility for a level 10.
That left me with two choices: Typhoon and Starsurge.
Pros: I think an instant cast spell that provides a knockback and a daze would be great for a level 10 player. With the 20 second cooldown it isn't over powered but should be available for most pulls.
Cons: As a conal AoE spell, it could easily hit unintended targets. This could be particularly troubling for new players.
Pros: It is a high damage ability with a knockdown. It will also play an important part in Eclipse so it may be a good choice to get players used to the spell early.
Cons: Its a nuke. The level 10 will already have Wrath and will get Starfire a level 20. If I wanted to confuse a new player, I would give him 3 nukes by the time he hits level 20.
At this point I don't have a good guess as to what is the likely choice.
The Strange Quote:
In the original announcement Zarhym said:
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.To me, this sounds like moonkin will train Eclipse at level 75 because Eclipse is our third Mastery. I don't have a problem with that. Currently moonkin can't get until level 50. Considering moonkin can't train Starfire until level 20 and since Eclipse is of limited use to leveling as a timed buff, it seemed natural to me to make players wait for it.
Then we get this quote from Ghostcrawler:
We'll probably give them the "balance bar" for picking Balance at level 10, then at level 78 you get the ability to affect the bonus damage from the bar by increasing your mastery stat.Now I'm confused, and only have a list of questions.
What will moonkin be training at 75 then?
Will Starfire be the "signature" ability that Balance druids get at level 10?
If so, does that mean other druids won't have access to Starfire?
If not, what is the point of Eclipse at level 10 if you don't have Starfire until level 20?
What is the point of having Eclipse at level 10 as a timed buff when a good portion of the buff will be lost due to finding new targets?
It will be interesting to see how this looks when we get more details.