A quick recap for those of you who have limited internet access and choose (understandably) to use each of your precious online moments reading this column each week, but otherwise ignore the internet completely:
Blizzard announced a new expansion for World of Warcraft. It has pandas. The WoW online community appears to be simultaneously overjoyed, mildly excited, meh, and borderline suicidal. Monks are the new class, and they will be able to tank while drunk, which makes them pretty much identical to every other tank I know. Most importantly, though, the design team plans to throw our current talent system into a virtual wood chipper, pick up the pieces that come out of the other side, and mash them together into a completely new, singular talent tree for each class.
The three distinct mage trees will survive, but the majority of the school-specific talents and spells we have now are slated to become baseline abilities that we'll gain as we level (automatically -- no more going to a mage trainer). Ability customization once Mists of Pandaria hits will exist as six talent choices available regardless of spec, one choice between three talents every 15 experience levels. Talent specs as we have known them since the game began in 2004 will cease to exist once patch 5.0 hits, and I expect that to occur in less than a year.