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Blood Sport: The PvP perspective on new talent trees


Want to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women? Blood Sport investigates the entirety of all things arena for gladiators and challengers alike. C. Christian Moore, multiple rank 1 gladiator, examines the latest arena strategy, trends, compositions and more in's arena column.

Listening Music: Death Cab's "I will possess your heart." Long intro version, because it's awesome.

Last Week: Want to hit some arena up before the Xpac, or just need some awesome leveling gear? Check out last week -- we go over how to gear up for PvP.

In case you missed it, here's what Blizzard has said about new talent trees and PvP:

Twitter Q&A
Q. Is your goal to not having to use a talent specialization solely for PvP? If so, please elaborate on how you plan to accomplish that?
A. This is almost impossible to "fix." With the nature of talents min/max will always be possible. That said, we're trying to move away from having purely PvP or purely PvE talents as much as possible, which will make the pure PvP specializations less painful to play in PvE and vice versa.
A #2. We are removing many of the PvP talents, as well as trying to make some of the PvP talents a little more useful for PvE (for example, a talent that currently procs on taking critical damage could instead proc on taking any damage, including AoE damage, as well). While we recognize that very competitive players might still want unique talent builds for PvP vs. PvE, the hope is that more players might be able to use the same specialization more often for multiple aspects of the game.

Fantastic! I love it! I'd rather see PvP talents be completely obliterated and Blizzard just balance around PvE talents, but this is probably the next best thing I could have hoped for.

Let's go back in a time a bit. Blizzard dropped a bombshell on us with the announcement of completely revamped, 31-point talent trees. I salivated upon pondering the possibilities. And then we got them ... Hooray!? I play six classes (although like most players, I love one the most), so I was very excited to see all the different ideas Blizzard imagined. Depending on your class (or even spec), you were probably very happy or very disappointed. Personally, I'm excited about some class trees (priests, warriors), while being disappointed with others (warlocks).

The good news is that it's still beta, and there's still a way to go until Cataclysm hits the shelves of your local shop. Instead of talking your ear off on different talent trees that aren't anywhere remotely close to finalized, I'd like to share with you a PvP perspective on new talent trees.

PvP talents for PvPers who raid

PvP talents penalize PvPers in PvE. Because you picked up that awesome stamina increase or stun-duration-reduction talent, you're missing out on a 2% damage increase. Or, comparatively, because you took talents that allowed you to dispel cheaper/faster/more effectively, you're losing out on healing power.

"Hold on, I need to respec (and reglyph) for that raid -- I'm PvP spec right now."

While annoying, respeccing to raid isn't the only downside to PvP talents. Oh no, far from it.

PvP talents for raiders who PvP

Allowing raiders to have a viable PvP spec just by taking talents that maximize their raid performance will be a huge boon to PvP. Removing pure PvP talents (like resilience-boosting talents, for instance) allows Blizzard to balance PvP around popular PvE specs.

Currently, raiders who enter a battleground or an arena with a PvE spec are much less effective at staying alive. I don't know about you, but dying all the time isn't much fun for me. When people don't have fun doing something, they usually just stop.

Fewer people are playing arena in Wrath of the Lich King than they were in The Burning Crusade. This makes it less fun for everyone participating in arenas. Fewer people means fewer arena teams. Fewer arena teams turns into slower queues. Slower queues create less accurate matches. Less accurate matches give way to larger blowouts -- which makes it less fun for the losers.

Rinse, repeat, recycle.

Downsides of removing PvP talents

PvP talents allows less-geared players (or alts) to advance a bit quicker in PvP if they're fighting against people without PvP specs. For instance, many players (especially below 1,800 rating) use their PvE specs in both arenas and battlegrounds. If you have far inferior gear than they do, your PvP spec will help to cover some of that ground (albeit not much, usually).

That's honestly the only benefit I can think of when it comes to PvP talents. If you can think of more, please let me know in the comments.

Demonology's opportunity cost

While these talents might be changing in a few days or weeks, look no further than a demonology talent calculator for an excellent example of exactly what I'm talking about.

Demonic Embrace, Master Demonologist, Soul Link -- those six points are absolutely necessary for a PvPing warlock, but they could go into other trees if you had a real choice when it came to PvP. Or, if you are a demonology warlock, that's six points that could be something else in your tree that could improve your damage.

By the way, while we're on the topic of demonology, isn't it about time the Felguard got a new ability? Hamstring would be nice, as affliction has Curse of Exhaustion and destruction has Aftermath. That guy has had a blank space on his action bar for like four years now.

In any case, I'm very excited to see the next set of talent builds for all classes.

Want to ascend the arena ladders faster than a fireman playing Donkey Kong? Check out's articles on arena, successful arena PvPers, PvP, and our arena column, Blood Sport.

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