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BlizzCon 2011 World of Warcraft Class Talent System liveblog

There's only a short break between the World of Warcraft preview panel and the all-important one on the new class talent system, so let's see what they've got in store for us. As we just saw, expect a lot of changes in Mists of Pandaria.

We meet again, Dr. Street. But this time, the advantage is ... still yours, because no living human types as fast as you talk.

Pacific Timezone: 2:15 p.m.
Mountain Timezone: 3:15 p.m.
Central Timezone: 4:15 p.m.
Eastern Timezone: 5:15 p.m.


For the moment, folks, I'm going to keep the times below in EST to minimize the chance of making a mistake while typing up a full panel. I apologize for any inconvenience.

5:15 pm Getting started. Ghostcrawler and Tom Chilton are up.

5:15 pm New talent system panel will give us a sneak peek.

5:16 pm Chilton: "Let's open this vault of knowledge ... or idiocy, whatever."

5:16 pm More depth and detail coming. "This represents a major change to the class talent trees, a new phase."

5:16 pm "Goal here is that you're standing next to another combat rogue, for example, and the combat rogue has different talents than you. Wouldn't that be something ... and they're not just an idiot."

5:17 pm Character customization was the original point of the talent system, but over time cookie-cutter builds have dominated more than anything else. Cataclysm talent revamp was intended to give players more meaningful choices, and while they feel they made a number of improvements, they don't feel it entirely delivered. "Time to do it over."

5:18 pm All about customization, interesting and difficult choices.

5:18 pm Core class abilities available to everyone regardless of your talent choices, e.g. Heroic Strike. Spec abilities like Mortal Strike for arms, but will be expanded to things that are currently core abilities iconic to a certain spec, or old talents, or existing abilities.

5:19 pm Arms warriors, in that vein, will be able to learn Slam.

5:19 pm Now talents. One of the things they've learned over time is that a survivability ability next to a DPS ability in a DPS player, they will always take the DPS ability. "Really saps the actual reality of choice from the decision." What if they gave you three different survivability talents, and you got your choice? Which one appeals to you more as a player?

5:20 pm DPS to DPS abilities, survivability to survivability, mobility to mobility, etc. You get your choice among CC abilities, you get your choice among survivability, etc.

5:21 pm Warrior examples: Enrage as a passive, level 10 will choose your spec from among arms, fury, and protection with lots of implications. Some overlap when it makes sense between different specs, but abilities will largely be different.

5:22 pm At level 15 you get your first talent, then again every 15 levels. Juggernaut, Double Time (Charge twice in a row) or Warbringer? Which mobility talent makes the most sense for you as a player?

5:22 pm They'll cover all the classes in the panel this afternoon.

5:22 pm If you're, say, a subtlety rogue, you know you get Shadowstep these days, but you're not able to combine that with Killing Spree. The MoP talents can play against each other in the same tree, and you can create combinations of the coolest talents in the game.

5:23 pm Will also be adding several new "overpowered-feeling" talents to the trees. Bear in mind, Chilton say, don't make assumption about the talents you see here about how they'll operate, everything's very up in the air now. Cooldowns will change, durations will change, these will have to undergo a lot of testing. Certain abilities have had to be nerfed because they were too good in tandem with each other (Kick, Gouge, rogue stuns, etc.) but the new system should afford them a lot more flexibility.

5:24 pm If you don't see a beloved talent today, don't worry! Ten to one it's just been moved around a bit.

5:25 pm All holy priests now have Circle of Healing. Hopefully no talents will feel mandatory. Hard but fun choices.

5:25 pm "Now I'm just going to go through every freaking talent. Greg, take it away."

5:25 pm None of these are set in stone, don't worry about the numbers. Look at the spirit of the talent.

5:25 pm Monk talents will be skipped, they make no sense right now.

5:25 pm "We're going in alphabetical order, so if you're a warrior, go get a beer." DKs first. Edit: Apologies in advance to all, trying to get down talent names quickly meant glossing over a number of them. We're adding pictures later that should give more insight into what these talents look like, but I had to type quickly at the time.

Death Knights

5:26pm First death knight tier is all about diseases. Corpse Explosion is coming back. If a target dies with your diseases on it, explode it.

5:26 pm Next tier is survivability. Bone Shield, Anti Magic Zone, Lichborne.

5:26 pm LEvel 45 is about movement and control Death's Advance, Chillblains, and a new one called Asphyxiate.

5:27 pm Level 60 is a healing tier. Death Pact, Death Siphon, and Vampiric Blood. Second is new, suck shadow damage and heal yourself.

5:27 pm Level 75 is really interesting. Blood Tap, Runic Empowerment, Runic Corruption.

5:28 pm "If you like it, choose it. If not, take something else." Take a depleted rune, turn it into a death rune.

5:28 pm Level 90 is all about awesome crowd control. Gorefiend's Grasp, AE death grip. Holy crap. Remorseless Winter similar to Lich King's ability. Desecrated Ground, immune to CC effects. Death knights are going to be frigging monsters in PvP in MoP, my prediction.

5:29 pm Talent calculators going to be changed and rebuilt. Now druids, the best class in the game.

Druids

5:30 pm (big cheer for druids) level 15 Feline Swiftness, Displacer Beast, Tireless Pursuit. Cat-themed level. This is all about mobility and speed. Many of these are "This ability activates (X)."

5:30 pm Level 30 is a healing tier. Nature's Swiftness, Renewal, and Cenarion Ward. CW is interesting, this is the shield-type ability druids have wondered about.

5:31 pm Level 45 is a crowd-control tier. Faerie Swarm, Mass Entanglement, Typhoon. "If you want to be the bear with Typhoon, here's your chance."

5:31 pm Level 60, pretty cool tier according to GC. Wild Charge is a new version of Feral Charge. Can instantly fly to an ally's position from caster form! Incarnation, Force of Nature. Latter is not just the three treants, now they do different stuff depending on your spec.

5:33 pm Level 75 a bear theme. Demoralizing Roar, Ursol's Vortex, Bear Hug. Demo Roar is CC now, group disorient (SCORE). Pulls all enemies to you in wind (SCORE). Bear Hug is an interesting stunned, but you have to actively stun them (SCORE?).

5:33 pm Level 90 Heart of the Wild, Master Shapeshifter (every time you shift you increase your damage and can build a buff on yourself), and Disentanglement (removes roots, does a heal). "How do you want to be a shapeshifter?" Ohhhhh, this tier does not look like it's gonna be a fun choice, I have to say as a druid player ....

Hunters

5:34 pm Hunters! Top hunter tier at level 15 is all about arrows and ammunition. Three different types, Frozen Arrows, Arcane Arrows, Venom-Tipped. Can freeze opponents, store up focus, put a DoT on others.

5:36: Intimidation, Silencing Shot, Wyvern Sting.

5:36 pm Disengage tier: Posthaste, Evasiveness, Exhilaration. Can get a self-heal.

5:36 pm Level 60 Crouching Tiger, Hidden Chimera - can improve Disengage and deterrence. Aspect of the Iron Hawk, and Spirit Bond.

5:37 pm Level 75 Fervor, Readiness, and Thrill of the Hunt, which passively gets focus for you.

Level 90: Traps! Flash Freeze, Black Ice, Transmorph Trap. Improves movement speed (the first, that is), toxin on Transmorph Trap that turns a target into a beast. interesting form of crowd control there.

What happens to the pet talents? GC says hunters can use any of the three specs for your pets. If you want to have a bear doing DPS or a moth in the raid, just choose which role you want them to perform. Hmmm, less elaboration on the hunter stuff overall, maybe because they changed slightly less than druids, but I don't know.

Mages

5:38 pm Mages! Works really well with this talent system because many of the fun and survivability talents always went to mages. Arcane Blast is arcane only, Fireball is fire only, frostbolt is frost only.

Level 15 is a very chilly tier: Ring of Frost, Cone of Cold, Frostjaw.

5:40 pm Greater Invisibility, Cauterize, and Cold Snap at level 30.

5:41 pm Level 45: all about movement. Presence of Mind, Scorch, and Arcane Flows. Remember, as GC says, you only get one. Scorch castable while moving. Arcane Flows allows you to case two while moving. PoM is still the same ol', same ol', granting an instant cast.

5:41 pm Level 60: Escape and control level. Mana Shield with Incanter's Absorption baked in, Blazing Speed, and Ice Barrier.

5:42 pm Level 75: Sickly Polymorph, Heavy Polymorph, and Double Polymorph. These have very obvious PvP and PvE themes. Double allows you to have two at once. Heavy stuns.

5:42 pm Level 90 is a crowd control tier. Blast Wave, Dragon's Breath, and Slow.

Paladins

5:43 pm Paladins! Level 15 is a tier about movement. Speed of Light, Long Arm of the Law, and Pursuit of Justice. 10% movement speed for each charge of Holy Power. Interesting.

5:43 pm Level 30 is a crowd control tier. Fist of Justice replaces Hammer of Justice, very short cooldown, going to make my life hell in battlegrounds, I know. Repentance, Seal of Justice.

5:44 pm 45 is a survival tier. Blessed Life, Sacred Shield, Ardent Defender.

5:44 pm Level 60 is a healing tier. Selfless Healer, Eternal Glory, and Holy Shield. Eternal Glory is also a Light of Dawn replacement. Think of Holy Shield as an absorption form of World of Glory.

5:45 pm Level 75 is about utility: Veneration (Consecration, allies in consecration are immune to movement impairing effects), Acts of Sacrifice, Clemency (reset cooldowns)

5:46 pm Level 90 is burst and cooldowns. Common complaint is that pally cooldowns are cool but too many of them. Holy Avenger, Sanctified Wrath (different for each spec), and Divine Purpose. DP gives you holy power without its being tied to a cooldown.

Priests

5:48 pm Priests! (big cheer) The priest is a challenge with two healing specs and a DPS specs, and they still want choices to be as interesting. Creative talents that GC likes.

Level 15 is about control. Void Tendrils (AOE root), Psyfiend, Psychic Scream (existing talent).

5:48 pm Level 30 is a fun tier, adds wrinkle to existing abilities. Body and Soul, Path of the Devout, Phantasm (when you Fade, you remove movement effects and give yourself a speed boost).

5:48 pm Level 45 is about damage and healing. From Darkness, Comes Light, Divine Star (GC says they've never tried something like this), and Archangel.

5:49 pm Level 60 is about keeping the priest alive. Desperate Prayer, Angelic Bulwark, Final Prayer.

5:49 pm Level 75: Power tier. Twist of Fate, Power Infusion (now available to everyone), and Serendipity.

5:49 pm Level 90, three crazy new abilities. Vow of Unity, designate a champion, when you heal them you heal yourself. Void Shift, swap health percentage with current friendly target (interesting). That's gonna piss off a lot of PvPers. Vampiric Dominance, version of Vampiric Embrace.

Rogues

5:51 pm Rogues! Rogue really benefits from this new model as well. Level 10: Nightstalker, Subterfuge, Shadow Focus, all dealing with stealth.

5:51 pm Level 30 is about control and survivability. Deadly Throw with movement speed debuff, Nerve Strike debuffs damage, Combat Readiness.

5:52 pm Level 45 is about staying alive. Cheat Death, Leeching Poison, Improved Recuperate.

5:52 pm Level 60. Shadowstep, Preparation, Burst of Speed. Glyphed Preparation is in the new form of Prep. SPrint on no cooldown that costs energy is Burst of Speed by the way.

5:53 pm Level 75: Deadly Brew, Paralytic Poison, Dirty Tricks. This is the debuff tier.

5:53 pm LEvel 90: Killing Spree, Shadow Dance, Vendetta. Shadow Dance we already know, but the others are different. KS can be pressed multiple times, each time gives you a teleport within 5 seconds. Vendetta is all about Vengeful Strike, a new ability with Vendetta. 30-yard range, target-switching orient.

Shaman

5:54 pm Shaman! Level 10 is Frozen Power, Earthgrab Totem, Repulsion Totem. FP roots a target in ice with Frost Shock, Earthgrab is an AOE root, Repulsion keeps them away.

5:55pm Survivability at level 30: Nature's Guardian, Stone Bulwark Totem, Astral Shift.

5:56 pm Level 45: Improved Ghost Wolf (instant ghost wolf goes to every shaman regardless), Windwalk Totem grants movement impairment immunity to group.

5:56 pm Healing tier at 60. Healing Tide Totem (like Tranquility). Ancestral Guidance, has a chance of copying a heal to another target. Fortifying Waters.

5:57 pm Level 75 is about burst. Elemental Mastery, Nature's Swiftness, Echo of the Elements. EM is like a self-Bloodlust on top of the group one.

5:57 pm Level 90 is a high-concept tier. Crazy things to your totems! Elemental Harmony allows several of the same class totems, multiple earth totems for example. Totemic Restoration, Totemic Projection. Movable totems!

Warlocks

5:58 pm Warlocks! A lot of healing and survivability, want to push mages and warlocks farther apart.

5:59 pm Level 10. Dark Regeneration, Soul Leech, Harvest of Life (sucks life from nearby enemies to restore yourself). Healing tier.

6:00 pm Level 30: Howl of Terror, Mortal Coil, Shadowfury. AOE fear, AOE stun, crowd control.

6:00 pm Level 45, survivability tier. Hour of Twilight, Soul Link, Sacrificial Pact. Kind of like the existing voidwalker ability, makes you immune to damage for a while.

6:00 pm Level 60: Three ways to heal yourself or avoid damage. Bloodstone, Spell Drain, Nether Ward.

6:01 pm Level 75: Really cool stuff here and 90. Level 75 is about pets. Replace your demon with Grimoire Supremacy (more powerful demons), Grimoire of Service (two active demons!), Grimoire of Sacrifice (sac your pet again, players evidently liked this mechanic).

6:02 pm Level 90: Themed on demons. Archimonde's Vengeance, Kil'Jaeden's Cunning, Illidan's Guile (splash damage to other enemies in the area).

Warriors

6:03 pm Warriors! "Hopefully they're all back with their beer by now." First tier is the charge tier: Juggernaut (lowers cooldown), Warbringer (5 second root at end of charge), Double Time (charge twice in a row). Charge usable in any stance now.

6:04 pm: Level 30 is about survival. Enraged Regeneration, Second Wind, Impending Victory.

6:04 pm Level 45 is about crowd control. Throwdown, basic stun, Piercing Howl as the AOE snare, Cripple, applying Hamstring without having to do it directly.

6:05 pm Level 60 is about silencing those annoying casters (GC's words, not mine!). Gag Order, Rude Interruption, Disrupting Shout.

6:05 pm Level 75 is about "a little bit of having fun with burst and resource management." Deadly Calm, Death Wish (enrages you, lets fury use Raging Blow, increases rage gen), Bull Rush (when you charge you get enraged).

6:06 pm Level 90: Bladestorm, Shockwave, and Avatar. Avatar is new, transforms you into a colossus, ability from Warcraft 3. "Here you can see the blademaster, tauren chieftain, and mountain king; decide what you want to be."

6:07 pm "Change is scary. And we know one of the initial reactions will be, now I have fewer choices, fewer talents." But they want the quality of the choice to be more than the quantity of the choice. They don't like people cookie-cuttering so much, it doesn't feel very fun.

6:08 pm There are lots of cool talents around, and they want us to have more access to them, less restriction to particular specs. They're also not happy there are lots of less compelling talents still in the trees.

Again, emphasis that none of this is set in stone, they'll probably change a lot, find out "what's overpowered, what's a terrible idea, etc."

6:09 pm Online developer Q&A later as well.

6:10 pm And that's it, folks!


Turn to WoW Insider for all your BlizzCon 2011 news and information. Get ready to kick off the weekend with the WoW Insider Reader Meetup, cohosted by Wowhead and Gamebreaker.tv, and look for our liveblogs of the convention panels, interviews with WoW celebrities -- and of course, lots of pictures of people in costumes. It's all here at WoW Insider!

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