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.

Life Getting in the Way

It can be quite frustrating at times.  I have everything planned out for a great night of gaming, and then something happens that I know will mess my plans up – life.  The great equalizer, it can happen to anyone: hardcore or casual, PvP or PvE, Horde or Alliance.  No matter what you do, Murphy’s Law will rear its ugly head at you.

Currently, our guild raids once a week on Fridays since most people can make it then.  Unfortunately in my time zone, it starts at 7, and I work until either 6 or 6:30.  Along with that, I have a wife and child that I want to pay attention to (since I don’t really feel like being a BAD DAD), so I made a deal with my wife that on nights that I work late I wouldn’t raid.  It just so happens that I really enjoy raiding.  This new schedule at work is a new thing for me, so I’ll have to see what it’s like in the long term before I decide to start working out a raiding schedule at home.

That brings me to the heart of this matter, is a good life/game balance.  We’ve all heard stories about people becoming WoW (or any other game, for that matter) addicts and completely shutting out their real life.  It gets even more sad when there are kids involved who suffer, or even die, because of it.  Games are a great way to escape life – I use that as an excuse all the time, but games are not meant to replace life.  We’ve all heard it before, but the truth is still the same whether it relates to gaming or not: if something is becoming more important than what’s happening in real life, it’s time to get rid of it.

People seem to focus on gaming quite often, likely because of how easy it can be to start with it and keep going.  Yet, an addict is an addict.  Obviously, someone addicted to something like heroin is in a much worse situation than someone addicted to WoW, but there can be times where the symptoms are the same.  Not wanting to go out because you have “something to do”, scheduling a date around your raid nights, not taking care of yourself, not eating well – basically keeping yourself away from everything and anyone else.

It doesn’t take a multi-year, multi-million dollar study to realize that it’s not healthy.  I am very fortunate to have a wife who is very good at kicking my butt if I start taking things too seriously or going back into the rut that I had been in earlier in my life.  I hope that everyone has a family member or friend who is around that can give you a smack in the back of the head when needed, and I hope that everyone can have fun and play responsibly.