Last week, we gave you an early look at the changes we’re making to the stat system in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, and explained how these changes will ultimately provide players with more interesting gear choices and make stats easier to understand. Today we’d like to go into more detail about a brand-new feature that’s an integral part of this overhaul: the Mastery system, a set of new game mechanics designed to allow players to become better at what makes their chosen talent tree cool or unique. With this system, we want to accomplish three things: give players more freedom in how they allocate talent points, simplify some of the “kitchen sinky” talents that try to do too much at once, and add a new stat to high-level gear that makes you better at your chosen role.
Here’s how the system works: As you spend points in a given talent tree, you’ll receive three different passive bonuses specific to that tree. The first bonus will increase your damage, healing, or survivability, depending on the intended role of the tree. The second bonus will be related to a stat commonly found on gear desirable to you, such as Haste or Crit. The third bonus will be the most interesting, as it will provide an effect completely unique to that tree -- meaning there will be 30 different bonuses of this nature in the game. This third bonus is the one that will benefit from the Mastery rating found on high-level (level 80 to 85) gear.
One of our primary goals with Mastery is to give players more flexibility to choose fun or utility-oriented talents rather than make them feel obligated to pick up “mandatory” but uninteresting talents, such as passive damage or healing. (For examples of the kinds of powerful but boring talents we’re talking about, take a look at the talent tier just above the 51-point talent in many of the existing trees.) In a sense, Mastery makes it so every talent in (just for example) a rogue tree essentially has an invisible additional bullet point that says “…and increases your damage by X%.” This way, if you choose a talent like Elusiveness (which reduces your chance to be detected while stealthed) or Fleet Footed (which affects movement), you won’t feel like you’re giving up damage in exchange for utility.
There will still be talents that boost damage, of course, but those talents will also affect the way you play. For example, you can still expect to see talents like Improved Frostbolt, which reduces the cast time of the Frostbolt spell; it increases DPS, but it also affects the mage’s rotation. Piercing Ice, however, is just “6% more damage” and is the kind of talent we’re trying to eliminate by implementing the Mastery system.
As we get closer to Cataclysm’s release, we’ll go into more detail about the changes coming for each class, including individual talent-tree adjustments and how Mastery will affect them. In the meantime, here are a few examples to demonstrate the three kinds of passive bonuses we described above. Please keep in mind that we're still working on this system, and the handful of examples we're providing here are, of course, subject to change.
For each talent point spent in the Holy tree, the priest also gets:
- Healing – Improves your healing by X%.
- Meditation – Improves your mana regeneration from Spirit in combat. This would likely replace the existing Meditation talent from the Discipline tree, which many Holy priests consider to be a “must-have.” Regeneration will also probably be determined by whether you are in or out of combat, and not the “five-second rule.
- Radiance – Adds a heal-over-time effect to direct heals, such as Flash Heal. Mastery on gear would boost this bonus, and no other talent tree would grant it.
For each talent point spent in the Discipline tree, the priest also gets:
- Healing – Improves your healing by X%.
- Meditation – Improves your mana regeneration from Spirit in combat. This would likely replace the existing Meditation talent.
- Absorption – Improves the amount of damage absorbed by spells such as Power Word: Shield and Divine Aegis. Mastery on gear would boost this bonus, and no other talent tree would grant it.
Frost Death Knight
For each talent point spent in the Frost tree, the death knight also gets:
- Damage – Improves your melee and spell damage by X%.
- Haste – Improves your melee Haste by Y%. This might allow us to remove some of the Haste in the Icy Talons line of talents.
- Runic Power – Improves the rate of runic power generated by abilities. While all death knights want runic power, Frost death knights would generally have more runic power than Blood or Unholy death knights (who would receive a different benefit from their respective trees). An Unholy death knight who sub-specs into Frost would still be able to benefit from this bonus, though because they’re investing fewer talent points, they’d benefit to a smaller degree. Mastery on gear would boost this bonus, and no other talent tree would grant it.
A couple other things to note: Currently, we’re not planning to retrofit the Mastery stat onto current level-80 gear when we roll out the stat-system changes prior to Cataclysm’s release. However, Mastery will begin appearing on select quest and dungeon items. You will also gain a small amount of Mastery by wearing gear of your intended armor type (such as plate for paladins). For players with dual specs, when you change between your two chosen specs, the Mastery bonuses and the benefit you receive from the Mastery stat on gear will adjust automatically based on your new spec.
We’ll have more details to share about these and other changes we’re making in Cataclysm in the future, and we’ll do our best to answer your questions about the Mastery system here on the forums. For information on many of the stat changes being made in Cataclysm, please check out our earlier update at -http://forums.worldofwarcraft.com/thread.html?topicId=23425636414&sid=1