Mastery System Preview

by Eyonix | 09/03/2010 22:45:14


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 Master of Deception (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.

by Eyonix | 12/03/2010 00:15:00


Q u o t e:

I am confused about the specific items listed above. They directly contradict each other.

This has been removed. This portion was outdated information.

by Eyonix | 09/03/2010 22:45:44


Holy Priest

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.

Discipline Priest

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). 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 - Cataclysm Stat & System Changes

[ Post edited by Eyonix ]

by Eyonix | 09/03/2010 23:00:42


Q u o t e:
First, Welcome back Eyonix.

Second, here' s a compilation of the burning questions form the thread so far.

  • 1. 28/28/20 spec. Does mastery on gear affect both highest trees or give no benefit at all?

  • 2. How are ferals and Dks as tanks working with mastery system in place? Are they to care about it for threat or do they have separate bonuses.

  • 3. How are the non-pure classes going to be balanced against those with a full 76 point passive benefit? Balance, enhancement(not so much), shadow, feral, ele, resto, holy and Ret all have this issue.

  • 4. Hybrids who use spells not improved by their spec on occasion such as heals or the extra lava burst are feeling that their non-specced spells are going to be extremely weak as compared to now.

  • I think that covers it.

    Reposted for the new thread.

    1) Mastery on gear gives you one bonus. That bonus is the third passive (the unique one) in the tree in which you’ve spent the most points. In the examples we gave, those are Absorption, Radiance and Runic Power generation.

    2) Ferals will have passive bonuses that say Cat: melee damage done, Bear: damage reduction. For death knights we have a different plan in mind that we’re not quite ready to discuss. DKs are undergoing some slight changes so they aren’t so GCD constrained and are less limited by rune cooldowns.

    3) Assume you only get the passive bonuses for the tree in which you’ve spent the most points, and there is a ceiling per tree (which could be something like 51-55 talent points). If you spend more points than that in a tree you still get the benefits of the talent. If you spend points in another tree, you are benefiting from those talents instead. Unless you try to make say a 40 / 36 / 0 build, you shouldn’t be losing passive bonuses.

    If you turn level 10 and spend 1 point in Discipline, you are now a Disc priest. You receive the Disc talent tree passive bonuses and mastery rating on gear benefits your Disc passive bonus (Absorption). If you reach level 85 and have 70 points in Disc and 6 in Holy, you are still a Disc priest and the same rules apply. If you change your build to 51 Disc / 20 Holy / 5 Shadow, you are still a Disc priest.

    4) They are weak now and the intent is to keep them that way. We aren’t trying to nerf them any more than they are today. If we want to make sure Resto shaman can do big Lava Bursts, we’ll give them a talent or something to make that happen. We don’t want Resto shaman to Lava Burst anywhere on the scale of an Elemental shaman. Again, how they perform today is pretty much the target for where we want to end up.

    [ Post edited by Eyonix ]

    by Ghostcrawler | 09/03/2010 23:26:09


    Q u o t e:
    Currently as a Frost DK i have absolutely NO issues with Runic Power and as this appears to only flood me with more runic power that i don't need. Even with KM up my Obliterates hit for 4-5k more then my Frost Strikes. I am assuming though that maybe we are to gain additional Runic Power Dumps?

    I know it's hard to get a feel for the design when you can't see the complete picture, but talent trees are changing for Cataclysm. As Eyonix referenced above, we are changing the DK rune mechanic a little so that you aren't so GCD constrained. This in turn will give us a chance to rebalance how much runic power Frost gets. Remember that in many cases we are pulling talents out of the trees and giving them to you as passive bonuses. In general if you see a passive talent tree bonus and think to yourself "Hmm, that doesn't sound very good for me," then it's probably because we haven't revealed the changes that lead to that being attractive to you.

    By all means mention concerns though. That's one of the reasons we like to announce changes like this early.

    Lead Systems Designer

    by Eyonix | 09/03/2010 23:29:36


    Q u o t e:

    Thanks for answers to the last three, they actually make perfect sense, somewhat.

    However, the problem was with answer number one. in a spec like 38/38/0 or 29/29/18, for lets say rogues, what tree are you receiving passives from? Niether assasination nor combat have the majority, and it certaintly not subtlety. The problem lies with the inherent factor that in such scenario, you are reciveing passives from either TWO trees or NONE.

    It’s actually very uncommon for players to go even across the board. If you spend your first talent point in assassination, your second in combat and your third in subtlety then yes, that problem might exist. There are other cases where someone might choose to do so at max level as well. We’ll just have to come up with a simple rule, such as your last point spent wins in cases of a talent tree "tie" -- (just an example). As long as everyone knows and understand the rule that's used, you can play around it in the off-chance the situation comes up.

    by Eyonix | 09/03/2010 23:31:42


    Q u o t e:

    Won't having this ceiling pigeonhold "pure" classes into builds where putting points in a tree that go past the ceiling will be sub-optimal as you will be missing out on mastery from your sub trees, i.e. ending up with all builds being 51/24/0 and no builds being 61/14/0 because you just lost 10 points of mastery bonus?

    It's hard to set stuff like this in stone until we explore what kinds of builds will be popular, but assume that you don't get anything for the sub spec (except for the actual talents, which are presumably still valuable or you wouldn't be sub-speccing).

    by Eyonix | 09/03/2010 23:36:26


    Q u o t e:

    Please for the love the Light let the ret tree actually change.

    Ret? Shoot, Greg -- we remembered to attach the mastery system to retribution, right...??

    I kid, I kid!

    by Eyonix | 09/03/2010 23:49:15


    Q u o t e:

    I don't understand the logic of enforcing such a limiting mechanic.

    Maybe spreading your Talents around isn't done by very many people but why should the people who do it be punished for not conforming to the majority.

    When you look at things like the benefits of Holy vs. Disc. the first two benefits are identical but if I do an even split between the two I end up with worse healing and worse mana regen than if I had gone into a single tree.

    You seem to be using the mastery system as a straight jacket to enforce the "acceptable" play styles.

    You're not being punished. There will be a cap, if you choose to spend points in another tree before you reach that cap, and are giving up some passive bonuses, than you've determined that the talents you're gaining in the other tree are more meaningful to you.

    This will allow for further customization, as there will be some pretty cool choices involved when building your character that weren't present before.

    by Eyonix | 09/03/2010 23:57:26


    Q u o t e:

    But at present there are Passive abilities in different Talent trees people have wanted, that are outside their main tree.

    In the current system we can still pick them up.

    Now you are rolling the Passive bonuses into the mastery system and then preventing us from having any of the passive benefits outside our main tree.

    (Hypothetical Example) My Arms warrior may be getting a nice Passive bonus to Hit, but I'm not allowed to take the Passive Crit bonus from Fury or Dodge bonus from Prot.

    People are forced to spend up to the Mastery Cap in a single tree or find themselves gimped.

    Talent trees are being completely redesigned. The original posts explains some of this in greater detail.

    by Eyonix | 10/03/2010 00:00:17


    Q u o t e:

    Thanks it's really nice to see all the updates coming to us this spring!

    I gotta admit though it's a little hard for me to understand from reading it. I think if you could add some pictures with an update to the Cataclysm page, that would help us "visual learners" have a better understanding of what's coming :) Please.

    (Like of an example talent tree, hovering over some of the talents and showing the "+passive bonus" that would be on them, or a weapon or piece of armor tooltip with the "+ whatever" on it, that sort of thing)

    We'll be sharing more on the mastery system soon, (possibly with visuals), right now we wanted to provide a basic understanding of the system and open up some discussion.

    by Eyonix | 11/03/2010 22:56:48


    Q u o t e:

    This is a little meandering and wandering as I worth through several throughts

    It's going to happen, I understand that, but this seems like overkill to me. Granted, to date (I joined the party late) I've only really played a warrior (arms to level, Fury/Prot to Raid upon hitting 80). I've never really had a problem with the top-of-the-tree talent. My frustration has been with the bottom of the tree filler.

    I always end up looking at my specs and seeing 3-5 points essentially thrown into low-level filler talents.

    Maybe this won't be as much of an issue, but to be honest, I hope as much time is spent making low-level talents useful as figuring out the this new system.

    Yes, low level talents will be looked at extensively. The talent tier just above the 51-point talent was just a good example.

    by Eyonix | 11/03/2010 23:01:03


    Q u o t e:
    To Eyonix,

    As being a Mage, I am somewhat confused on how this mastery is going to work for us, for we tend to need to subclass into our trees' just to make out for well rounded DPS, so what are they looking at for us in that retrospect, and for the armor. We can only wear cloth armor, so is that going to change, or are you revamping the Mage class all-together to benefit from other types of armor? If you can please give a brief explanation to the plans for a Mage, it would be truly appreciated, especially since no one really asked about that specific class.

    Mages will continue to wear cloth, but the armor value provided by cloth will be increased in Cataclysm. As for class specific talent changes, as well as information regarding new spells and abilities -- you'll just have to wait a little longer. ;)

    by Eyonix | 12/03/2010 00:15:00


    Q u o t e:

    I am confused about the specific items listed above. They directly contradict each other.

    This has been removed. This portion was outdated information.

    by Zarhym | 07/04/2010 22:14:22


    For more information from the original thread, see our Blizzard Archive: Mastery System Preview

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