Numbers Game: Pre-Build Your WoW Panda

The panda, in his natural habitat, attempts to attract a mate through a show of skill.

The forthcoming Mists of Pandaria expansion for World of Warcraft will be bringing along a revamped talent tree as well as fluffykins up there. Not happy with how players built identically specced characters at their most statistically efficient, Blizzard are hoping their new system will make it more tempting for players to forge their own path through the levels.

Three specilisations will be available for every class with specific spells assigned to each one. Meanwhile, talents are available for every spec in that class, and will be awarded every 15 levels. These talents will be interchangeable as you play, further tempting players to rebuild and experiment with the numbers. Sounds a lot like Diablo 3, come to think of it.

Have a go at rolling your new build with the official talent calculator, and keep in mind that the numbers aren’t final.


  1. jplayer01 says:

    Talent points aren’t tied to the specialization you choose at level 10 … however, the spec you choose determines what skills you receive when leveling up. That actually sounds like a good idea and I might even consider getting the expansion just to see how it influences the gameplay as a warrior both in PvE and in PvP. But I guess lots of people will be complaining again … like they do no matter what Blizzard does.

    • sneetch says:

      Yes, it’s truly astounding that no matter what they do someone will be annoyed. It’s almost as if people have differing tastes and opinions. Insane!

    • jplayer01 says:

      Funny. When I find that Blizzard has done something I’m not happy with, I just don’t buy the game or I stop playing it until Blizzard makes changes I *do* like. People with different opinions and expectations, that’s fine. People who expect companies to directly pander to their likes and dislikes … that’s asinine.

    • sneetch says:

      Is trying to get them to change something you disagree with strongly more or less asinine than not playing until they change it to suit you, I wonder? Isn’t it just two sides of the same coin? There are always those who will threaten to quit unless they fix/nerf whatever their problem is, some actually do but most people are quite reasonable, but they will give their feedback (or whines depending on how you view the whole process) when they do see something that annoys them or weakens their playing style or class, personally I view the passion that people argue for or against changes to be a sign of the game’s strength.

      (BTW I don’t mean to have a go at you personally, I quit wow because it wasn’t going the way I wanted it to, I could have tried to get them to change it but I’m not so foolish as to think they should change it just to suit me :) )

    • The Tupper says:


      “People who expect companies to directly pander to their likes and dislikes …”

      If that’s not a missed opportunity for a pun I don’t know what is.

    • PopeJamal says:

      I think there’s a big difference between giving constructive feedback about things you don’t like and pissing and moaning on the forums… About the same thing… Every day…

      There seem to be larger and larger groups of people who think that “standing around” being an asshole all day is their god given right. Maybe it is, but I personally prefer to avoid making other people miserable.

      At some point, I think these people transitioned away from $15/mo to play WoW and transitioned towards $15/mo to be a forum troll. How can you complain about paying $15/mo, for months at a time for the “Worst Game Ever! OMG!!!”. Seriously? “Worst Ever!”? Of all time?

      I just don’t understand…

  2. Lande says:

    Having not played WoW for a couple of years, this is a joke, right? An early April Fool’s joke poking fun at themselves because of all the heat they get at turning their game more simplistic.

    Sarcasm aside, after looking at those talent ‘trees’ I have to wonder who they’re even trying to appeal to anymore.

    • Durkonkell says:

      Really? The old talent system was a joke – if you weren’t on the approved Elitist Jerks spec, you were kicked out of raids. In the Wrath era, you had 71 talent points and you could choose where to put… maybe 2 of them?

      The new system gives you a lot of choices and – here’s the key thing – there’s often no definitively correct answer. We can finally have a situation where there are two Beast Mastery hunters in a group with two different specs and neither of them are wrong!

    • sneetch says:

      Yeah, although I have no interest in starting to play again (it seems like it’s been a very short time since Cata came out, somehow) it’s pleasently surprising to see that these aren’t all “spell x does 2% more damage” talents like before.

    • Phinor says:

      In theory the new system gives you more choices and you might think you have two beast mastery hunters with different specs but what happens when the encounter requires hunters to have Frozen Arrows? Yep, they all spec to Frozen Arrows and after the encounter is done, go back to Arcane Arrows as it gives 0.007% more dps – thus being exactly the same system as before.

      It’s nice that they are changing the talent system but I don’t think it’s any better, just different. And different is good, don’t get me wrong, but I doubt it solves any of the problems underneath.

    • Durkonkell says:

      There are certainly some talents that will offer a DPS increase, and some that will be required for certain fights. Observe however that the second, third, fourth and sixth hunter talent tiers have no DPS impact *at all*. The majority of talents affect your utility, crowd control and survivability! The only talent I can find that gives a direct increase to DPS is Venom Tipped Arrows, but it may be that you end up with higher DPS from Arcane Arrows. I reckon the fifth tier is debatable too. One of the three talents will give higher overall DPS, but whether or not it works for you is down to the specific fight and how you play.

      This dwarf is slightly confused about how he’s going to load arrows into his rifle, however.

    • JWendin says:

      — Lande says:
      — Having not played WoW for a couple of years, this is a joke, right?

      There’s your problem right there.

      With the current talent specs you can’t do *anything* even remotely interesting. There’s no option anymore to not go fully out in a tree to combine two lesser but aweome if combined talents. If you face someone in arena today – by figuring out which of the three trees they belong to you already know 90+% or their talents. This upcoming system changes that at its core.

      The current trees have a lot of “must haves or your power will suffer greatly” – leaving no leeway for utility / flavour. All these “must haves” seem to be baked into your core abilities instead of superficially provide options in the talent trees. These new ones makes sure that for PvE – you know that a class with a certain spec have all the baselines that make them usable (with the occasional encounter specific spec). However, in PvP – you could be in for a lot of surprises if you assume too much.

      It’s actually the one thing that might make me resub – but with the crowded gaming area and limited free time – that decision is still shrouded in Pandarian mists.

    • jrodman says:

      I think the “you must pick the one true point allotment or get the hell out of our raid” is a player base problem, not a game design problem.

      I don’t think you can design that out.

    • SketchyGalore says:

      Gonna agree with Phinor on that one… A game like WoW is all about finding the best skillset, not the most creative. This may give people more things to experiment with for a while, but soon enough, there will be a “right” way and a “wrong” way of handling this system, as well. Just the nature of a game that’s more about hours played and know-how than reflexes or skill… That last line’s gonna get me beaten up, isn’t it?

  3. cocoleche says:

    I still don’t understand how this simplification will remove cookie-cutter builds. It’ll turn out to be exactly the same, only simplified. You can’t tell me there won’t be an EJ-approved raid build for every spec.

    • daf says:

      If you look at the talents you’ll see that every tier is an apple to apple comparison, what i mean by that is that the 3 choices you have in each tier all do the same thing but in different ways. So right there it will be allot easier to balance to make them mathematically equivalent.

      However Blizzard understands there will always be “cookie cutter specs”, they just hope to have them on a per encounter basis, using the warrior final tier as example, on fight were lot’s of little adds that do allot of damage need to be aoed down you might want to pick shockwave to minimize the damage trough the stun or maybe bladestorm to burst them down fast however if you’re in a fight without any adds avatar would be the better choice. So talents become something you think about and adapt instead of something you copy from elitist jerks once and then never bother changing again.

      I personally like this new system better then the previous ones as it’s just striping the illusion of choice (in cataclysm any “creative” distribution of points had already been removed) and adds some actually interesting talents that can even allow a certain degree of play style customization like having a tier that let’s you chose a active ability or a passive allowing people who prefer to control everything and those who like random procs they don’t need to think about a way to have it their way.

      But allot of people don’t realize that the new system actually has more real choices then the old one being hanged up on the apparent small number of talents, even when all most of them did since classic was go see the best spec and copy it and at most chose what utility talents to dump last 2-4 talent points if they had any left.

    • Harzel174 says:

      There will always be EJ specs because there will always be people who care about numbers down to the thousandths of a point. To where it supersedes any other facet of the game such as playstyle, convenience, room for error, etc. There’s no way to stop it. It’s just going to happen any time you put in any sort of choice.

      The intent is for the 99% of WoW players that don’t care about, say, a 0.1% increase to their DPS. They’d rather pick something that feels fun, or removes some micro-management from their rotation, or provides a good overall build so they don’t need to fiddle with glyphs and talents 10 times per night. Because their position within the game doesn’t solely reside in killing a boss before a bunch of other people do. To those people, myself included, these new talents are delicious because they truly are apples to apples – by a certain measure of perspective.

  4. JFS says:

    I somehow feel this is where WoW jumps the panda.

  5. Durkonkell says:

    I’m really happy with the way the new Hunter talents are looking. Fervor, Readiness or Thrill of the Hunt? There’s no easy answer to that question. The DPS calculator will turn out which one has the highest DPS boost (initial suspicion as a BM hunter: Readiness, so long as it now affects Bestial Wrath), but which one actually works best for you will be debatable. I like having fervor so that I don’t have to regen focus before or after a Bestial Wrath, but Readiness could potentially mean Bestial Wrath -> Rapid Fire -> Readiness -> Bestial Wrath -> Rapid Fire. The burst damage would be obscene! Thrill of the Hunt gives you more focus efficiency all the time though, and the hunter’s greatest problem is managing their focus.

    Aspect of the Iron Hawk is probably a no-brainer for most PvE hunters, but Spirit Bond is pretty attractive for Beast Masters.

    Bah. This makes me want to start blogging about WoW again. Damn it, Blizzard!

    • Jerusahat says:

      I’m really surprised to see you say this, because I’m looking at those talents, and I can’t see this solving the cookie-cutter build problem at all. There’ll be optimal talents for each spec, and god help you if you’re not specced correctly.

      Plus we both know that if Readiness gives BM crazy burst damage, Blizz will nerf the snot out of it.

    • Durkonkell says:

      Readiness always said in the past “Does not affect Bestial Wrath”, so I wonder if they haven’t left it out of the tooltip by accident :P

      If it didn’t affect BW, it would make that talent pretty useless for Beast Masters though. Beast Masters already have fairly absurd burst damage though – Readiness just means that the burst phase would go on for longer. I can see issues with this – they would have to balance Beast Mastery for the double-BW every 3 minutes, and that would make readiness compulsory. Exempting BW from Readiness would make this tier a choice between Fervor and Thrill of the Hunt, but I think that’s more likely to be the direction they’ll go in. There’s a reason this combination was never permitted in the past.

      I suspect that there will be DPS-optimal talents for the three hunter specs at tier 1 and 5. The rest of the tiers are absolutely open to debate and individual player choice. Flash Freeze so you can easily chain-trap, or Transmorph Trap so that you can control a second mob by transmorphing and then using Scare Beast? If you pick up Wyvern Sting, you can control 3 mobs at a time (5 if you pet-tank one and kite another). Or Silencing Shot, so that you actually have a ranged interrupt (something I really envy Marksmanship Hunters for currently)? Intimidation is lovely for pet-tanking and PvP as it’s not broken by damage.

      There will be recommended talents not just by spec but by individual boss fight, but there is room for personal choice and customising yourself to what the group or raid needs most at any given time. This is something we haven’t had before, and it’s great!

      EDIT: I want to emphasise the per-fight customisation a little more too. In the tiers where there are clear, optimal talents you’ll still probably want to respec per individual fight. Take the Lich King boss fight from Wrath for example – the hunter’s primary responsibility was stopping the big group of ghosts that appeared and slowing / taking out Val’Kyr. Getting that done was more important than raw DPS. Being able to say “I’ll give up the passive poison in favour of a passive chance to slow on this fight” is an extra level of customisation. If your raid has several hunters, they might say to you “Stay on the boss for this, and just take him down as quickly as you can”, in which case you’d stick with the pure highest-DPS talent. It’s not just about choice, but about having additional ways to customise your character’s abilities. Who’s on the ball, knows their talents and what each fight needs?

  6. z310 says:

    for each one of my characters – the new talent system actually takes away abilties

    they’re saying it gives you more “choice”

    well, i don’t like more “choice” when the “choice” is choosing between two things when before i had both

    i really don’t see myself staying subbed when GW2 is out with their World vs. World vs. World pvp mode. that has me drooling. and no sub!

    • Swanny says:

      Honestly, the choice was lost when you were forced to spend 31 points in a tree before spending points in another.
      Some of the choices look really bad, but many will probably change.

      I like this system, i see cool things happening with it; for example:
      Hardcore raiders will change talents per fight- i thought Blizz said that you wouldn’t have to go back to town to respec. Very nice.
      Iffy raiders who like standing in fire (it’s a 3% damage buff, don’t ya know?) will end up getting more survivability talents.
      In most tiers, for most specs, at least two of the three choices are compelling.

      Many utility talents are useless for certain builds (cold snap for an arcane mage), but others in the same tier, like cauterize, offer a nice survivability increase for a (laggy? bad? undergeared?) mage who doesn’t have threat problems.
      My main now is a disc priest, and i would greatly appreciate the occasional arcane mage having cauterize.
      My alt mage is mostly heroic firelands geared, so in the first thirty seconds of any fight, can pull aggro over a similarly geared tank of any class, i’d have be going with greater invis most fights.

      TL,DR: 2 out of 3 choices are decent, and i see magic happening in the right hands with good players and odd choices.

    • Nim says:

      Look up “More is Less”, “Less is More”, “Paradox of Choice”.

  7. Necroscope says:

    Warlock talents look mightily impressive! New demons at last! Supremely evil life-stealing talents! *Evil grin* Blizz must’ve heard my howling!

  8. Tolkfan says:

    I can have a warrior tank that uses Bladestorm and Deadly Calm, or a assassination rogue with Shadowstep and Killing Spree.

    Yup, this new talent system offers no choice at all. I want more of those awesome “increases your crit by 1%” talents. They were truly exciting and a real choice when compared to the one that gives mount speed.

    • Acosta says:

      Absolutely, the new system rocks. I think people not seeing more options and customization are blind or not even paying attention. As PVP players, the number of options I have for different rogue builds is great, several options to define my role in battle. A very welcomed change.

  9. Dave Mongoose says:

    I was thinking of coming back to WoW with this expansion, but this is really depressing.

    Even if the old trees had few real choices, at least you had an illusion of choice: I prefer a no-brainer choice to none at all. Looking at this ‘talent calculator’, I know that I’ll only get 6 points in my entire career to make a decision about my character, and the choices are mostly tit-for-tat.

    There are *still* talents which are only useful for PvP or gimmick fights (Hold, Slow, Silence), and *still* talents that are unsuitable for certain roles (Warrior Tank with Death Wish? lolNO)…

    • JWendin says:

      You see no reason for a tank to boost his physical damage by 20% for 30s? (or missed that there’s a glyph that removes the damage taken part?)

      These changes, apart from bolstering your own playstyle, will change up arena quite a lot.

    • jrodman says:

      Yeah, my impression is a lot of these choices are a PVP win — giving people more variation in playstyle there.

      On the flip side a fair number of the choices for PVE healers are useless. Some big fail in the druid tree. Three choices for mages (all caster damge) doesn’t really work out the same as three choices for a class that plays four different roles.

      All in all, I give the implementation before us a C minus, though possibly an honororary A for effort. Just not writing that on the report card.

    • Dave Mongoose says:

      I was not aware of that glyph so I can take back the comment about Death Wish, but that was just one example of the problem: having class talents not spec talents is always going to result in either bland choices or options that are useless for certain specs.