Mists of Pandaria: Talent and abilities preview

Following on from the little preview we had at Blizzcon a few weeks ago, Blizzard have now released an official Talent Calculator for the new talents in Mists of Pandaria. Accompanying this calculator is also a cute little series of boxes detailing the new abilities available for each specialisation, and a few new abilities for the 85-90 range. So then, a quick rundown of the various areas

Talent Tree Calculator

Unfortunately there are no real changes here. A few tweaks (for example; Cenarion ward heals for more and is now XX% of base mana instead of fixed mana cost) but nothing really has changed from the talents we saw at Blizzcon – meaning that on the whole they are still pretty crap (IMO) and I consider some of them to be lazy and not very well thought out.

New Ability – Symbiosis

This is a little more interesting.  Initially I read it and got very excited, then thought I had better re-read it to ensure I hadn’t made a mistake – I had :(

At first I had imagined that you could pick the spell. This would be amazing versatile “hmm, tank heavy fight, hey shammy pal I give you LB and you give me Earth Shield :D”. Alas that is not to be. The wording states that you will gain one ability based on your spec. This could mean anything at this stage and therefore could either be good or bad. Example: if I am a resto druid casting symbiosis on a priest, do we swap nourish/heal? Power Word: Shield/Ironbark?

Currently there is just no indication of what the shared abilities will be. If they are not “special” abilities e.g. Lifebloom, Healing Rain, Power Word: Shield, then symbiosis is pretty bad “oh look, I now have two fast expensive heals not one ^^”. On the other hand, if it does trade “special” spells then it will have to be judged carefully to avoid being very OP. After all, there are 4 different druids specs and there will be 10 other classes to choose from.

Note as well; it states target CLASS ability based on the caster’s SPEC. I take this mean that spec specific spells will certainly NOT be included in a list of possible exchanges, so no Power Word: Barrier, Earth Shield etc. This is a good thing, as it immediately should curb some of the QQ about this being OP.

So currently my verdict is unsure about this until I have a better idea of what spells will be granted from it. At the moment it could go either way – very good or mediocre, so I am waiting for more info before getting too excited or saying it is useless.

Upgraded Abilities

Personally, this is the part I am most excited about. We have been told that a lot of the old talented abilities and upgrade (e.g. Nourish/RG/HT refreshes LB) will be rolled into either baseline powers for choosing a spec or actually become part of the spell as standard. A brief glance shows that they have indeed done this with some abilities, so I will do a comparison between the current version of each ability, and it’s new “improved” version in Mists.

In each image, the top ability is the current one, the lower is the new version. If there is only one picture then it is the new version of the ability.

Swiftmend

Swiftmend stays pretty much the same in terms of costs, range etc. The primary difference here is that the efflorescence effect has been rolled into it. So immediately at level 10 you gain not only swiftmend, but your first AoE heal as well.

Healing Touch 

As current spell, but with the naturalist talents included, bringing the cast time down to 2.5 seconds.

Regrowth

Again, Regrowth is basically the same as it currently is, but with the effects of the crit part of the Nature’s Bounty talent and the regrowth glyph added in as standard. The +x% to crit would imply that it will rise in value as you level and the spell levels as well – ensuring that is good at higher levels without being OP at lower levels.

This flat increase to crit and the built in renew of the HoT could see it becoming more useful than it has been so far in Cata. The only sticking point is that it will depend on how many fights we are not worried about sub 50% hp on people, if we are getting lots of raid wide damage we will be healing up asap and therefore the renewal of the HoT will be irrelevant.

Nature’s Cure

This is simply the current remove corruption spell with the nature’s cure talent to include magic effects added in. nothing really to say, a free addition to a dispel ability and range + cost stay the same – no bad really :)

Living Seed

What was previously a talent is now a passive ability. It is exactly the same as the current 3 point talent (a crit will place a seed on worth 30% of the direct heal that just critted, last 15 seconds)

Nourish

As with Healing Touch, Nourish remains the same except for the inclusion of the naturalist talent, giving it a 2.5 sec cast time.

Ironbark

This is a completely revamp of barkskin and bound to cause a few complaints. Ironbark retains the duration and damage reduction of BS, but doubles the CD, removes the targetting restriction and looks like it will not be always castable. This means we have a defensive CD that we can bring to the raid, but that it is not as versatile for use on ourselves anymore.

It also brings up an issue over use. After all, who will just use it on themselves to reduce damage when they think they should save it for the tank? This is especially true when it is on a longer cooldown as well and the pressure to not “waste” it will be greater. A lot of druids didn’t want this to happen and very categorically stated that we needed a real defensive raid cooldown and not simply making barkskin castable on other people. Oh well.

Swift Rejuvenation (Passive) 

Now we gain the SR talent as a baseline passive ability at level 46. cool :)

Lifebloom

As has been the case with many spells so far, Lifebloom is the same as it currently is, except that its talented effect from empowered Touch has been included as a standard effect.

Wild Growth

Wild Growth will obviously be the “nerfed” 4.2 version. Other than that, there appears to be no real change to it. As no talents ever affected it, there is nothing to add in with it when the talent trees are removed.

Malfurion’s Gift

As with SR, this is just a case of getting a current talent as a passive ability at a particular level. However, the current description on the calculator had better be a typo – reduces tranquility cooldown TO 13 minutes! I hope that is is simply a mistake for “3 minutes” and that they are not planning on putting the CD up to something daft like 20 mins.

The other notable point is that there is no mention of clearcast procs at all. Omen of Clarity is now a passive ability gained by all druids, but the current description states that it is only activated by damage spells and attacks. Again this could be a typo, or it could be the start of pushing us more towards trying to fill in healing with dps. If so then that is a rather stupid thing to do – forcing healers to waste mana on dps spells so they get to cast healing spells for free :/ Please let it be a typo.

Tranquility

 Again this seems pretty much the same as the current version with the exception of some increased healing. The CD still being 8 mins would indicate that the possibly typo mentioned for Malfurion’s Gift IS a typo, but still, even it is a typo for 3 mins that would still bring the CD down to only 5 mins. The Priest equivalent (Divine Hymn) still stays at 8 min CD currently, but is also more powerful and adds the bonus of increasing healing done to the targets. Will have to wait and see how this develops.

Wild Mushroom: Bloom

This is a totally new spell, and as such has no “original” from Cataclysm. We don’t yet know what the amount healed or anything will be – see how they cunningly just write “x” for the amount. An important point to note though is that it says ALL allies within 6 yards. Not 3, or 5 or 10 but ALL. Depending on the healing model for the ‘shrooms, this is potentially very powerful for stack up fights in a 25 man guild (or even 10’s).

There are no doubt going to be a few pros and cons for them though:

Pros: Can be placed prior to actually needing them, looks like they will heal a lot of people.

Cons: 3 GCDs to place all and then 1 to pop them means a lot of prep time if you cannot place them in advance (this also lowers their effectiveness in constant AoE encounters – 4 GCDs is a lot of other healing)

We also don’t know how the mechanic will work. it could be X healing per mushroom and therefore viable with only 1 but best with 3. It may be a fixed value for X regardless of number of mushrooms and having more simply means you cover a larger area. X could end up being pitifully low and make the 4 GCDs to max it out a waste (this would be silly for a new ability but remember the MK1 Efflorescence at the start of Cata^^)

Overall, healy mushrooms have the potential to be another very handy tool in our range of AoE heals, though as with Symbiosis I will hold my judgment of them until we have more info.

So how has the talent tree faired overall?

Below is the full range of current restoration talents and the most common talents used by resto druids from the other trees along with a quick recap of if they have been removed, incorporated into abilities, not sure or partially incorporated.

Nature’s Grace – seems to be no comparable talent or ability with this effect.
Nature’s Majesty – no mention of increased crit chance across all spells so assuming it’s gone.
Genesis – Not sure about this, it’s hard to tell whether or not the difference in healing values is due to incorporated talents or just because of higher level cap.
Moonglow – With so many spells basically costing the same, safe to assume there is no Moonglow effect.
Furor – No evidence that it exists at all.
Blessing of the Grove – See genesis
Natural Shapeshifter -  Unless it’s a built in thing, appears to have gone Naturalist – This is directly rolled into Nourish and Healing Touch
Heart of the Wild – The name has been kept for a level 90 talent, but the effect is totally different.
Perseverance – Unless it’s a built in thing, appears to have gone.
Master Shapeshifter –  Unless it’s a built in thing, appears to have gone
Improved Rejuvenation –  See genesis
Living Seed – Now learnt as a passive ability
Revitalize –  Unless it’s a built in thing, appears to have gone
Nature’s Swiftness – Available as a talent
Fury of Stormrage – Seems to have been removed.
Nature’s Bounty – Regrowth now has an innately higher crit chance, though the lowering of Nourish cast time seems to be gone.
Empowered Touch – The refreshing element is built into Lifebloom now, for added healing see Genesis
Malfurion’s Gift – OoC is a passive ability now, still reduces CD on tranquility.
Efflorescence – Built into Swiftmend.
Nature’s Cure – Bundled with Remove Corruption as standard as a new spell – Nature’s Cure
Nature’s Ward –  Seems to have been removed.
Gift of the Earthmother –  See genesis
Swift Rejuvenation – Now learnt as a passive ability.
Tree of Life – Included as a talent with Incarnation, not sure if “new” ToL will retain all the effects of the current one.

A note regarding flat increases to healing spells
As mentioned in the paragraph about Lifebloom, the Empowered Touch effect of refreshing Lifebloom has become a built in part of the spell, however the 10% bonus healing to HT, RG and Nourish is harder to gauge as it is not stated whether the spells shown with the talent calculator are at current level (i.e. 85) in which it looks like they are buffed by around 10%, or if they are shown at MoP level (90), in which you would expect them to be higher anyway. This also applies to GotEM and Lifebloom’s end bloom and spells affected by BotG and Genesis. So, basically we don’t know if they are folded into the spells as standard or just totally removed.

Overall thoughts?

Personally I quite like the way the spells are leaning. It is nice to seem some talents are rolled into abilities, making them more than simply heals, and also it’s good to see that we are gaining some talents as learnt passive abilities.

Generally the talents that have been removed are not too bad, and usually are relatively boring or just flat increases/decreases.

However, it is clear from the apparent removal of moonglow, revitalise and furor, that we are definitely being pushed away from having mana regen and conservation based abilities. If they also go fully ahead with the proposed changes to Intellect and mana pool size, then we will essentially have a fixed mana pool size and fixed spell cost so we always know we can cast XX number of spells before going OOM. The balancing act will be stacking enough spirit to regen fast enough to keep up with intense damage phases while being smart enough to know when to throttle back on heals and conserve mana with efficient heals or just not heal at all for a small period of time.

If this is the healing model Blizzard are pushing towards, then hopefully it will making healing a bit more intensive and requiring more thought, rather than getting to the point of being able to mindlessly spam without having to think.

Kat

Posted on November 24, 2011, in Abilities, Healing, Mists of Pandaria, Patch Notes, PvE, PvP, Resto, Talents. Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. just wanted to point out that Ironbark is only for restos. Feral and Guardian retain Barkskin. not sure about chickens though :)

    • I know it is resto only ^^ this is a post about resto :P Not sure what you are getting at.

      • just thought that you were thinking that barkskin was replaced by ironbark completely.
        I wpuldn’t think it was a very large impact on restos per se. you shouldn’t really need a personal defensive cd too much.
        sure, it’s handy with big predictable AoE raid damage, or PvP. but the former is very situational. and for all we know they’re moving away from heavy raid AoE in MoP.

  2. It is also a handy panic button for those moments when something doesn’t quite go right, or you have to quickly move out of fire or whatnot. Basically it’s a shame to lose it as it was useful.

  3. For tranq, the tooltip as it is now says that it’s reduced TO 13 minutes, not BY 13 minutes. As such, it would be reduced from 8 minute CD to 3. Not from 8 to 5.

  4. Hi Kat,

    Great post :) I love that some talents have been baked into the core talents for resto druids. This simplifies things quite a bit and removes arguements (Living Seed or BotG etc) since LS is now baked in too :)

    I am concerned about Blizzard pushing us away from talents that provide mana like moonglow, revitalise and furor with the new idea of fixed mana pools. We would end up depending on how much intellect we really get from gear and the restoration tree talents, and balancing spirit around that. Granted, this makes things less mathy and perhaps easier for me to figure out just how much mana I am getting, but this is still a concern though with expensive mana costs for some spells.

    Yes, we’ll be able to predict how many spells we can cast with fixed mana pools but this would limit raids even further because of errors in calculating just about how much spirit we need to fill up our fixed mana pools and going OOM. If a raid took longer than normally, I’m afraid the spirit required to heal it won’t be enough and some raids will have a tougher time because of it. Raid encounters have too many variables that could put restoration druids (or any other healing class) with fixed mana pools at serious risk of being unable to keep up mana wise.

    I’m very skeptical about the new healing paradigm Blizzard wants to try out with spirit and intellect being completely two different stats that every healer have to try balancing.

    At the same time, it’s a neat idea, and who knows, we’ll get compensation for having those talents removed. Maybe it’ll work out in the end, with the MoP gear looking exceptionally good for restoration druids :)

    • Few things to keep in mind: ‘Base mana’ is going to be all the mana we have; this means, among other things, that all the spell costs are going to be reworked. Or they’re going to be going to a really weird definition of ‘base mana.’

      Second, it’s not all that difficult to figure out how much effective regen you get from revitalize (you’ve always got lifebloom rolling anyway, right?), furor, and moonglow and bake that into the spell costs. There’s no point in even showing the new spell costs, though (assuming they’ve been determined) because we don’t have any useful reference points. If they’d listed Lifebloom at 2% mana (not base mana, just mana, since there’s no difference) people would be discussing the insanely low costs instead of giving useful feedback.

      “If a raid took longer than normally, I’m afraid the spirit required to heal it won’t be enough and some raids will have a tougher time because of it. Raid encounters have too many variables that could put restoration druids (or any other healing class) with fixed mana pools at serious risk of being unable to keep up mana wise.”

      And how is that different from today? Your mana pool is no less fixed today when you walk into a fight. The only real question is if Blizzard can balance spirit’s mana return. On the bright side, it seems likely that if they screw that up, it’ll affect all the other healers, too.

      • Hey Boobah,

        That was the question I was trying to ask- whether Blizzard could balance that with removing talents that used to provide mana for druids.

        Also, Furor didn’t just add to our max mana pool, it also gave us a measure of mana/energy/rage when we shifted with each point. This was important if we wanted to be able to Bash right away as bears for example, I use this in my PvP build as shifting plays a big part and I’ve played with this in pve. I hope things like this isn’t going to be overlooked by Blizzard because some talents also came with passive abilities like this that were vital to being able to play the shapeshifting game successfully on top of mana regen.

        We don’t know for sure if everything is going to end up getting baked in. I guess this just makes me nervous as a healer. I don’t want to feel unconfident in my mana pool like I was at the start of Cata trying to do heroic dungeons =3

  5. Last I read, regen is not being removed. Spirit should still give regen in Pandoria. Thus, all the current design changes have done is meant that we have fewer ways to get regen. On the bright side, in will be slightly less uber compared to the other stats. On the negative side, regen is still going to be unbalanced at the beginning and end of Pandoria, unless they make further changes.

    I do wish they’d address the issue of mana regen not being balanced across the tiers within an expansion. Catalcysm heroics were punishing, T11 was about right, and already T12 is so easy that I find I don’t think much about mana efficiency. I wish they’d jigger the spell costs so that when you gear up, you not only get regen but also go through mana faster. That way, the mana versus burst decisions would remain interesting all the way through the expansion.

    http://shiftingnature.blogspot.com/2011/11/fixing-problem-with-graduating-from.html

    • Hmm, not sure if you misread my post, but I didn’t say regen was being removed, just that mana increasing and conservation talents were seemingly gone.

      The fact that spirit is the only apparent source of regen for Mists is the crux of my summary; if spirit is the only source then the ease (or difficulty) with which healers can survive a fight and continue pumping out heals will be based solely on their spirit i.e. how quickly they get their mana back, as there will no option to drop throughput to increase mana pool and lower spell costs. This will be quite different to now, as even a lower geared druid can spec for pure throughput and a very well geared one can go for longevity with moonglow and furor.

      Hopefully keeping spells a fixed cost and mana pools a fixed size will help balance out the mana regen as the only variable to alter will be spirit, so they simply make the jump in the amount of spirit on gear less between tiers. This could cause problems depending on RNG of drops – if you are perfect for spirit if you have every piece of gear with spirit on, then you are hamstrung if you don’t have it just because it won’t drop. LIkewise, if you need 3/4 of you gear with spirit on it, those who do have 100% of gear as spirit will have it easier with regen.

      Another possible option is to have a system of diminishing returns on the amount of spirit it takes to maintain XX regen based on your average iLevel. They already have this built into levels – after 4 crit rating at level 1 is very different to 4 crit rating at level 50. Having a similar system for spirit/regen through the curve of gear at level 90 would go towards ensuring that as you gear up you do need more spirit to maintain the same rate of mana regen without being able to push it so high that you trivialise your mana by having so much regen you almost can’t go OOM.

      However they do it, I am looking forward to the new system, while it is simplified compared to now, I think that if it is done right then it will put a lot of skill back into healing and could help avoid the mindless spamming we have as we get better and better gear.

  1. Pingback: The Daily Quest: What was that about talent? | mists of pandaria

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