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Raid Rx: Checking out level 90 talents

Matt Low

Every week, Raid Rx will help you quarterback your healers to victory! Your host is Matt Low, the grand poohbah of World of Matticus and a founder of Plus Heal, a discussion community for healers of all experience levels and interests. Catch his weekly podcast on healing, raiding and leading, the Matticast.

That new Mists of Pandaria talent calculator is out. Had a chance to look through it? You might've been alarmed at the fact that several key spells appear to be missing from the list of skills and such. Not to worry, though, since Bashiok clarified that it was still under development. Anything missing is (hopefully) unintentional. A few classes are given previews of new skills trainable past level 85. The classes that don't have their stuff created yet are presumably still being worked on.

Did you see that new paladin skill that's post level 85? Blinding Light is essentially an AoE blind. Looks like it'll be trainable for all specs.

Notice how none of the off-healing specs have any spell above the inefficient heal? For example, it looks like shadow priests won't have access to Heal or Greater Heal but have the ability to use Flash Heal.

I still feel distressed when I look at the section for the druids. That new Symbiosis skill at level 87 shows promise. It'll depend largely on what the skills will be.

Symbiosis (level 87)
4% of base mana, 30-yard range, instant cast
Creates a symbiotic link which grants the druid one ability belonging to the target's class, varying by the druid's specialization.

So you might be wondering to yourself why you feel down when looking at the proposed talents for druids. Now, you know, I've always been a healer at heart. Looking at the talents, I never saw anything really worthwhile for the healing druids. A few of the talents appear to be a lock. I'm sure Nature's Swiftness or Cenarion Ward will continue to be a lock. Force of Nature and Incarnation will no doubt be awesome.

Actually, my main point of concern involves the level 90 talents. Max-level talents have always been the strongest talents available for a class. In many cases, it even defined the spec. If you think about it going all the way back to classic and every expansion onward, the final talent was typically an ability that could have altered the game (and it didn't matter if you were PvE- or PvP-focused). I remember when the original discipline priest talent was Divine Spirit, and the holy priest talent was Holy Nova (and I believe this was patch 1.9). Warriors of the arms variety had the option of selecting Mortal Strike as their finisher.

Big talents, little use?

Looking at the level 90 talents of the other healing classes, though, notice how that the majority of them can be used in the primary role of the healer. A shaman can use Totemic Projection and manually direct their totems wherever they see fit which is useful for resto. A priest can splash heal everyone with Vampiric Dominance or utilize Void Shift to save a player. Paladins with Divine Purpose have a chance to gain free, large healing spells, whereas Sanctified Wrath leads to a spammable Holy Shock.

Swinging back to druids now, I understand the mentality behind talents like Heart of the Wild and Master Shapeshifter. The design approach here is to offer druids increased flexibility in roles other than that of their primary spec. Hey, I get that, and I see where it's coming from. I don't think that's such a great idea, though. The max-level talent has always felt to me as the skill that helped players define and maximize their primary roles. A priest making that level 90 talent selection can rest easy knowing that one of those three talents at the bottom of the tree would be an excellent choice.

Now I'm not a game designer or anything by any means. But I know that I wouldn't go after a talent skill that offered me great benefits when I was doing something other than what I was supposed to be doing. Take Heart of the Wild, for example. Why would I be rewarded with a talent that I can only use once every 6 minutes that offers me a benefit in a role that isn't my primary role? Master Shapeshifter means you need to DPS in another form that's not your main one before you can benefit in your ideal form (at least, if I understand the wording right). Looks like it is designed to alter the DPS rotations and stuff.

A whole new direction for talents?

Now, Joe disagrees with me, and we've had a long, passionate discussion about this. He believes that the talents are heading in a different direction where there shouldn't be like a super-talent that's mandatory, and I understand what he's saying. They're all designed to help with different utility aspects. He thinks I don't get it (and he could very well be right)!

That's not the point I'm trying to illustrate. My point is that there should be a good selection of talents that are both usable and desired at every tier, no matter what your role is. These talents should help you with your main role, not require you to do something that goes against what you signed up for.

Anyway, maybe I'm blowing this way out of proportion. Just to be clear, I love the choices and the directions we're going in. I can't wait to try them out in person. It isn't even in beta yet, and I'm certain there will be numerous changes. Granted, my main isn't a druid, but I still have one lying around. What do you guys think?
Need advice on working with the healers in your guild? Raid Rx has you covered. Send your questions about raid healing to For less healer-centric raiding advice, visit Ready Check for advanced tactics and advice for the endgame raider.

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