One of the biggest changes coming to World of Warcraft with the Mists of Pandaria expansion is a completely new talent system. Sure there have been talent system changes in the past, but for the most part they have been modifications of the original, evolutionary steps if you will. This new system, for better or worse, is completely new.
Since talent trees go hand in hand with class specializations (or specs as commonly referred to) and with glyphs, all three will be covered here in their own sections.
Specialization Changes in Patch 5.0.4
Part of picking your talents is picking your specialization, and the new talent system is no different. Each class has several specializations available to it much like it did previously, however they are not directly linked to your talents, so it is not exactly accurate to talent them talent specs anymore, they are more like class specs. More on that in the talent section below though.
Most classes have three distinctive specs, however the Druid class has gained a fourth. Druids now have Balance, Feral, Restoration, and Guardian. The new spec of Guardian is for Druid bear form tanking, which also means that feral has changed to become the Druid cat form DPS spec.
When you chose a specialization you are granted many abilities that are core to that class and spec. This has pulled a lot of talents that used to be under each specs talent tree and makes them available to you as soon as you pick that spec.
This shows the spells and abilities you gain just by specing into Balance. Each spec has different core abilities.
Talent System Changes in Patch 5.0.4
So what has changed, what makes this a whole new talent system. Well, pretty much everything. To see how much has changed check out the comparison of the old talent calculator to the new calculator below.
You should be able to spot some huge differences right away, but lets go through them.
The new talent system grants you a miserly 6 talent points total by the time you have reached level 90. This is almost nothing when compared to the old system that granted 41 points by the time you got to level 85. This means far less choice than before. This will be a huge adjustment to get used to for players.
The new talent system only allows 1 talent point to be spent per talent. Gone are the days of talents that provide more benefits if you put multiple points in them, such as the talents like Natures Majesty that provided a 2% boost to spell crit per talent point and you were allowed to put 2 points in it.
Going along the same train of thought, gone are pretty much all talents that provide a base percentage boost to something simple like crit or a spells ability. There are still percentages, don’t get me wrong, there are boosts to movement or boosts to overall effectiveness, or large boosts to specific abilities for specific reasons, but the days of having multiple talents in a talent tree that give a 2% boost to spell X and another talent that grants 5% boost to spell Y are pretty much done.
So you know now that you can’t spend more than one point on a talent, which means that the 6 points total isn’t quite as bad as you may have first thought, however there is more. You are limited in your talent choice, you can no longer decide that you like all three abilities in tier four and decide to skip talents in tier five or six to get them all. In the old system you could, but no more, in the new talent system you can only spend one talent point per tier, ever. To be perfectly clear, this means that you will only ever be able to get one ability from each of the 6 tiers, so you have to choose carefully.
One of the biggest changes to the system and maybe just as drastic as the drop in talent points from 41 to 6 is that each and every spec for a class has the exact same talent tree to choose from. Yes, you read that correctly. It no longer matters if you are Balance, Feral, Restoration, or now the new Guardian Druid spec, you all are limited to selecting 6 of the exact same 18 talents.
Even though there are now only 18 talents per class there are many new talents as well. This is due to many of the simple “boost X ability Y%” talents being cut, and many spec based talents being granted by choosing a specialization instead of having to pick them as a talent point under that spec.
Lastly, each tier on the talent system generally has some type of theme, most of which are clear and obvious. There are some tiers in some classes that don’t have much of a theme, but that is the exception not the rule. A good example one of movement, almost every class has a talent tier that grants some type of movement increase in various ways. Below is a great example of this from the Druid talent system, the first tier offers three very different methods of granting boosts to your movement. Which you choose depends on your play style and goals, but all give you added movement ability.
Glyph Changes in Patch 5.0.4
Glyphs tie in with specializations and talents as well since they affect many of your abilities. Gone are the 9 glyph slots that used to be available in Cataclysm, now there are only 6. There are 3 major and 3 minor slots.
As you can see the screen looks similar, but is down to 6 spots instead of 9.
Major glyphs are about affecting or changing you abilities. They make your spells better, faster, or different. Some have negative side effects as well as positive ones. In general though major glyphs change abilities with some level of significance. An example of this is the Glyph of Rejuvenation for Druids that allows you to cast Nourish 30% faster whenever you have Rejuvenation active on at least 3 targets. That is a significant increase in speed and if nourish is one of your mainstay heals then it is a huge bonus.
Minor glyphs on the other hand have little effect on how abilities work and are more about cosmetics or minor changes. A great example of minor glyphs are The Orca and Glyph of the Stag for Druids. The Orca changes your water form to an orca instead of a seal, for those that are bored with the old model. The Stag changes your travel form into that of a stag, plus allows other players to ride you like they would a mount. Both very cool changes, but pretty much cosmetic only.