Last week, we gave you an early look at the changes were making to the stat system in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, and explained how these changes will ultimately provide players with more interesting gear choices and make stats easier to understand. Today wed like to go into more detail about a brand-new feature thats an integral part of this overhaul: the Mastery system, a set of new game mechanics designed to allow players to become better at what makes their chosen talent tree cool or unique. With this system, we want to accomplish three things: give players more freedom in how they allocate talent points, simplify some of the kitchen sinky talents that try to do too much at once, and add a new stat to high-level gear that makes you better at your chosen role.
Heres how the system works: As you spend points in a given talent tree, youll receive three different passive bonuses specific to that tree. The first bonus will increase your damage, healing, or survivability, depending on the intended role of the tree. The second bonus will be related to a stat commonly found on gear desirable to you, such as Haste or Crit. The third bonus will be the most interesting, as it will provide an effect completely unique to that tree -- meaning there will be 30 different bonuses of this nature in the game. This third bonus is the one that will benefit from the Mastery rating found on high-level (level 80 to 85) gear.
One of our primary goals with Mastery is to give players more flexibility to choose fun or utility-oriented talents rather than make them feel obligated to pick up mandatory but uninteresting talents, such as passive damage or healing. (For examples of the kinds of powerful but boring talents were talking about, take a look at the talent tier just above the 51-point talent in many of the existing trees.) In a sense, Mastery makes it so every talent in (just for example) a rogue tree essentially has an invisible additional bullet point that says
and increases your damage by X%. This way, if you choose a talent like Elusiveness (which reduces your chance to be detected while stealthed) or Fleet Footed (which affects movement), you wont feel like youre giving up damage in exchange for utility.
There will still be talents that boost damage, of course, but those talents will also affect the way you play. For example, you can still expect to see talents like Improved Frostbolt, which reduces the cast time of the Frostbolt spell; it increases DPS, but it also affects the mages rotation. Piercing Ice, however, is just 6% more damage and is the kind of talent were trying to eliminate by implementing the Mastery system.
As we get closer to Cataclysms release, well go into more detail about the changes coming for each class, including individual talent-tree adjustments and how Mastery will affect them. In the meantime, here are a few examples to demonstrate the three kinds of passive bonuses we described above. Please keep in mind that we're still working on this system, and the handful of examples we're providing here are, of course, subject to change.
For each talent point spent in the Holy tree, the priest also gets:
Healing Improves your healing by X%.
Meditation Improves your mana regeneration from Spirit in combat. This would likely replace the existing Meditation talent from the Discipline tree, which many Holy priests consider to be a must-have. Regeneration will also probably be determined by whether you are in or out of combat, and not the five-second rule.
Radiance Adds a heal-over-time effect to direct heals, such as Flash Heal. Mastery on gear would boost this bonus, and no other talent tree would grant it.
For each talent point spent in the Discipline tree, the priest also gets:
Healing Improves your healing by X%.
Meditation Improves your mana regeneration from Spirit in combat. This would likely replace the existing Meditation talent.
Absorption Improves the amount of damage absorbed by spells such as Power Word: Shield and Divine Aegis. Mastery on gear would boost this bonus, and no other talent tree would grant it.
Frost Death Knight
For each talent point spent in the Frost tree, the death knight also gets:
Damage Improves your melee and spell damage by X%.
Haste Improves your melee Haste by Y%. This might allow us to remove some of the Haste in the Icy Talons line of talents.
Runic Power Improves the rate of runic power generated by abilities. While all death knights want runic power, Frost death knights would generally have more runic power than Blood or Unholy death knights (who would receive a different benefit from their respective trees). An Unholy death knight who sub-specs into Frost would still be able to benefit from this bonus, though because theyre investing fewer talent points, theyd benefit to a smaller degree. Mastery on gear would boost this bonus, and no other talent tree would grant it.
A couple other things to note: Currently, were not planning to retrofit the Mastery stat onto current level-80 gear when we roll out the stat-system changes prior to Cataclysms release. However, Mastery will begin appearing on select quest and dungeon items. You will also gain a small amount of Mastery by wearing gear of your intended armor type (such as plate for paladins). For players with dual specs, when you change between your two chosen specs, the Mastery bonuses and the benefit you receive from the Mastery stat on gear will adjust automatically based on your new spec.
Well have more details to share about these and other changes were making in Cataclysm in the future, and well do our best to answer your questions about the Mastery system here on the forums. For information on many of the stat changes being made in Cataclysm, please check out our earlier update at -
This is certainly an interesting new style of designing talent trees. Blizzard had hinted that their new Mastery system would operate in this style with the percentage style increases to damage or healing "baked into the tree." What's new here is the third unique mastery stat that will be different for each tree.
This may be how Blizzard intends to define the purpose of the tree, which has been an issue that has caused alot of dissention on the forums; trying to differentiate between two similar specs and why one should be superior. IE: is the subtlety tree broken? Or is it simply a tree that is designed solely for PvP and not intended to compete in PvE damage dealing.
I'm struck by the level of complexity that this will add to balancing the game. It seems inevitable that some trees will have mastery bonuses that are clearly superior to other trees. We already seem to be playing in an age of rampant cookie-cutter specs, and this may serve to reinforce that by dissuading players from being adventurous with their spare talent points. However, it's much too early to say. Blizzard has stated that their intention in Cataclysm is to remove must-have boring talents (like static stat increases) in favor of giving players more flavor options.
We'll continue to keep you posted as more information about this system is revealed.
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