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Mists of Pandaria Talents and Specs – DON’T PANIC

The words “DON’T PANIC” are inscribed in large, friendly letters on the front of the Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

When something new comes, there’s only a few different ways that people can react. If the new thing looks appealing and pleasing to the person, there’s a sense of excitement and anticipation. If the new thing doesn’t hold any interest to the person, there’s a bunch of apathy and boredem. If the new thing looks not good at all to the person, there’s a sense of doom, dread, and panic.

Something new came this week.

Earlier in the week, Blizzard released an early look at the Mists of Pandaria talent and spec calculator. It shows every class, what their new talent tree will look like, and more importantly what the different specs will look like come patch 5.0 and the release of the new expansion.

If you missed it, at BlizzCon it was revealed that talent specs are changing with MoP. Rather than just adding to a specific arsenal of abilities that every class has, each spec will become even more specialized. As an example, only Fire mages will have Fireball and only Frost mages will have Frostbolt, but every mage will have Frostfire bolt.

Between BlizzCon and now, there has been a bunch of speculation about how much each class would change. With the new calculator, it’s shown that every class will be changing, but each class has differing amount of change. The pure DPS classes seem to be having less change than the hybrids, which seems to give the impression that Blizzard wants the spec to do one thing and one thing only – which is what they spec into.

The big disclaimer that has been stated is that this is a “pre-alpha” build, meaning that the information given can and more than likely will change between now and release. Bashiok said that they are giving this information out because they want to get feedback from the players and see what can be improved or tweaked. If you decide to leave a note for Blizzard, just please remember the most important thing (and Wheaton’s Law): Don’t Be A Dick.

Since my main is a Feral DPS Druid, I thought I’d give my impressions about that class.

One big change to Druids is one that all hybrids who can do any sort of healing are experiencing. If you’re not specced into the healing tree, there will be very limited choice for what healing abilities will be present. Rather than having Healing Touch, Regrowth, Nourish, Rejuvenation, and Lifebloom – it’s down to Nourish and Rejuvenation that are baseline. All of the other spells will be available at certain levels if you spec into Resto.

On the other hand, the times when a Bear could do decent DPS while not tanking are long gone. Druids are having the distinction of being the only class that will now have four specs: Balance (Moonkin), Restoration (Tree), Feral (Cat), and Guardian (Bear). If you want to be a bear, you’re a tank and a tank only. Even though this is definitely a loss for Druids, it is bringing us in line with the other classes that are out there. A Protection Warrior isn’t able to do good DPS while still in spec, why should a Bear be able to shift to Cat and do well?

That was definitely one of the benefits of being a Druid in the first place, and we’ll still have a limited capacity for it with the level 90 talent of Heart of the Wild (there are some bloggers out there who think that it will not be very useful at all – which I’m inclined to agree with). However, Druid specs will most definitely be very specialized.

The biggest news that I’ve seen so far is the new level 87 ability called Symbiosis. The text reads: “Creates a symbiotic link which grants the druid one ability belonging to the target’s class, varying by the druid’s specialization. In exchange, grants the target one druid ability based on their class and combat role. Lasts 1 hour and persists through death.”

On first glance, this looks absolutely amazing. Of course, this likely means that it won’t be as amazing as we hope it will be. Lissanna at Restokin gave a really good writeup about how she thinks it will work, and I think she has the right idea. It will probably take a specific ability from each class, rather than taking a random one, and since it will last an hour and persists through death it shouldn’t be left up to chance. Unfortunately, this won’t be able to be properly tested until the beta comes out, so until then we’ll be left with speculation (unless Blizzard decides to give us details about how it exactly works… /wink).

As with expansions in the past, we just have to get used to the “new normal”.  There are things we may not like, but at the moment they’re not set in stone.  If this is how things look when MoP is launched, then there might be some other words being used at the time.

I think that things are going in the right track, but will definitely need some tweaking.  While we see the specs make the player focus on a specific role, there are then talents which encourage us to do other roles… but we won’t have as many tools to do said roles.  It just doesn’t make much sense to me now.  We’ll see how things go as time progresses – just remember, the game isn’t even close to being out yet.

Rethinking Raiding

I mentioned previously that I was mulling the idea of switching from my usual melee DPS role to that of ranged DPS. Gradually over time, I’ve been building up my gear and getting to a raid-ready position so I wouldn’t suck too much. After all of my preparation time, Tuesday arrived and gave me the first taste of raiding from a new standpoint. Over three years of thinking from a melee standpoint is out the window, time to rethink and relearn how to raid.

At first, I forgot how much of a change that it was to change roles. Instead of staring at the rear end of the boss the whole time, I get to stay safely away from its cleaves and bad things. Over the past years I haven’t had to worry about anything that happens at range, so I was quickly educated on how not safe I actually was. The bosses we went through in just over two hours on Tuesday night gave me new perspectives of what I mostly knew already.

Read the rest of this entry

Making Decisions

I hate making decisions with a passion. I truly do not like choosing something and being stuck with it, out of fear that it wasn’t the right thing to do. This ranges from the very small things like what to have for meals (ask my wife, she’d be more than happy to elaborate) and things to do, to very big things like buying a house, making a large purchase, or having kids. I like to think, think again, then think even more about all the options and choices that are out there. Even once I’m sure I know the right thing to do, I sometimes still hold off on making that decision.

Previously I’ve mentioned that I’m an altaholic. This definitely stems from my indecisiveness, as it gives me something to do that’s different without having to worry about making a big change for my main character. Even choosing a main character for myself was a very difficult thing to do for a while during the Burning Crusade expansion, as I was enjoying three different classes in different ways. I’m now faced with a similar choice as I was back then, which is how to enjoy playing my main character.

One of my favourite posts that I’ve written was all about my gradual shift from caster classes to melee classes over the years. To this day, a majority of the classes that I play are melee, and I’ve found that I have more fun with them. A shift in our guild has had me thinking about changing it up a bit, to try something that I’ve always wanted to do but never really had the chance to pursue it fully.

The mythical crit-chicken, the boomkin, the oomkin: the Moonkin.

Boomkin power!Over the years I’ve tried the spec a few times, with not the best success. The first time was due to the old eclipse mechanic and the rotation – I just couldn’t get the hang of it. The second time was at the end of Wrath after 4.0.1 came out and the talent trees changed, but my gear wasn’t very good and my damage suffered because of it. Now, with the updated talent trees along with better gear, I’m getting into the groove of it.

My feral druid damage is quite good. Not the best, but on a single-target DPS race I can get in the top three consistently. The problem with changing specs and gearing up again is that there’s the curve where the damage dealt is not nearly as good, and it can be quite disheartening. Fortunately with every heroic that I run, if I’m not getting better gear from drops I am at least saving up for more gear from Justice Points. Right now I still have a few green and blue quest rewards, and a few crafted pieces as well – nowhere near the best gear that I can get.

For the first few heroic runs, I find that I’m having fun with it. To be honest I was almost hoping that I would not like it, just so that I would convince myself to stay with the way things are right now. My overall damage and DPS is decent for the heroic tier, nowhere near ready for raiding, but enough to be competitive.

This means I have to make another decision. Do I help the guild out by giving them a boomkin, since we have no leather casters? If I do, do I keep my second spec as feral DPS or do I try tanking again? Making decisions truly is not my strong spot. Any advice people can leave in the comments is truly appreciated.

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