As writ previously, talents are differently applied this time than they have in the first four iterations of WoW. Rather than choosing from 60ish or 40ish talents, you get to choose from six tiers of talents, each containing three choices, of which you can choose one each. The intended design of this is to make all choices matter, when it comes to talents.
Note: As I proof this one more time, the beta rolls on relentlessly. I have given a good look at the most recent changes but cannot guarantee that when this goes live, it’ll already have several grievous errors. The Management Regrets, et cetera. Only one thing is certain: if I don’t post this soon, it’ll be about the NEXT expansion’s beta! So off we go!
So let’s see what Frost gets to play with.
At level 15, you get to choose one of these. The theme here is cast time mitigation.
When activated, your next Mage spell with a casting time less than 10 sec becomes an instant cast spell.
Scorch the enemy for 930 to 1102 Fire damage. Can be cast while moving.
Allows you to move while casting and channeling the next 2 Mage spells that have a base cast or channel time less than 4 sec. This spell may be cast while a cast time spell is in progress.
Presence and Flows both add a cooldown to your rotation for you to get any benefit. This complicates an already complicated rotation in raiding, but might provide a nice little IWIN button for PvP. Currently I’m going with Flows but could change my mind at any time.
Of the spells taking less than four seconds, Frostbolt and Frostfire Bolt both qualify. This is still highly situational, though. Getting off an instant Frostbolt, Frostfire Bolt, or Ice Bomb might be worth it, though.
In the end, Presence will probably be my ultimate choice. As Grimm, I can’t ever remember to switch to Aspect of the Fox for those brief move-and-fire fights, and this looks to be even more complex to shoehorn into an already loaded rotation.
Achieved at level 30. The theme here is personal protection / damage mitigation.
Envelops you in a temporal shield for 4 sec. Damage taken while shielded will be healed back over 6 sec. This spell is usable while stunned, frozen, incapacitated, feared or asleep.
Suppresses movement slowing effects and increases your movement speed by 150% for 1 sec. May only be activated after taking a melee or spell hit greater than 2% of your total health, or after you kill an enemy that yields experience or honor. This spell may be cast while a cast time spell is in progress.
Instantly shields you, absorbing (4580 + $SPFR * 4.401) damage. Lasts 1 min. While the shield holds, spellcasting will not be delayed by damage.
Again, it seems, we’re presented with two great choices and one non-starter. Ice Barrier is a trademark skill for frost mages, offering mitigation and an extremely handy cooldown. The new choice is very interesting, though. Temporal Shield appears to offer a great panic button for those situations in which your healer needs all the help he can get. It doesn’t say, but if it also breaks stun effects, that would be marvy.
Blazing Speed is just a little too complicated in its requirements to be easily accessible in PvE, but looks like it would always be ready to roll in PvP, so I’m guessing that’s the intended audience. This with Blink (please don’t share a cooldown) offers a couple of ways of disengaging with opponents.
Achieved at level 45. The theme here is crowd control.
Summons a Ring of Frost at the target location. Enemies entering the ring will become frozen for 10 sec. Lasts 10 sec. 10 yd radius.
Places an Ice Ward on a friendly target. When an enemy strikes the target, all enemies within 10 yds will become frozen in place for 5 sec. 1 charge. Lasts 30 sec.
Silences and freezes the target in place for 8 sec. Lasts half as long versus Player targets.
This, at least, looks like a good Frost tier, with three Frost-themed choices. Again, one seems very clearly aimed at PvP (Frost Ward), though it would be useful in some PvE encounters if cast on the add tank to help control adds where she’s at.
The other two are more PvE ish though I do point out that both may have usefulness in PvP settings.
Of the three, Ring seems to be the most versatile in a raid environment, for CC.
Achieved at level 60. The theme here is "cooldowns".
Instantly makes the caster invisible, reducing all threat, and removing two damage over time effects. While invisible, you are untargettable by enemies. Lasts 20 sec. Invisibility is cancelled if you perform any actions.
Damage taken is reduced by 90% while invisible and for 3 sec after coming out of invisibility.
An attack which would otherwise kill you will instead bring you to 50% of your maximum health, and you will burn for 40% of your maximum health over the next 6 sec.
Cauterize cannot occur more than once every 2 minutes.
When activated, this spell finishes the cooldown of your Ice Block, Frost Nova, and Cone of Cold spell. Instantly restores 30% of your health. This spell is usable while stunned, frozen, incapacitated, feared or asleep.
Cold Snap of course is a trusty cooldown from days of yore. Greater Invis is an intriguing alternative due to its damage reduction and dispelling hooks. Cauterize is an old friend to fire mages, and I must say that I find it quite attractive – enough so that I will probably take that over Cold Snap. Passive mitigation > active mitigation if you have a brain like a sieve.
Achieved at level 75. The theme here is scary, unpredictable AoE.
Places a Nether Tempest on the target which deals 2784 Arcane damage over 12 sec. Each time Nether Tempest deals damage, an additional 50% of that damage is also dealt to a random target within 10 yards.
The target becomes a Living Bomb, taking 1388Fire damage over 12 sec. When this effect ends, or the target dies, it explodes to deal an additional 1395 Fire damage to up to 3 enemies within 10 yards. Limit 3 targets.
Places a Frost Bomb on the target. After 5 sec sec, the bomb explodes, dealing 2791 Frost damage to the primary target, and 1396 Frost damage to all other targets within 10 yds. All affected targets are slowed by 70% for 2 sec sec. Frost Bomb’s countdown and cooldown are reduced by haste.
I love AoE, but I’ve always found unpredictable AoE to be a loaded weapon on both ends of the barrel. Just ask a Warlock how many times Seed of Corruption has gotten him in trouble. Flora could go on all day. You just can’t use these things in crowded areas, around CC’d adds, and the like.
Of the three, Frost Bomb is the most intriguing to me, as well as the most apt for a Frostie.
Achieved at level 90. The theme here is replenishment.
Your Evocation spell no longer has a cooldown, but you passively regenerate 50% less mana.
Completing an Evocation causes you to deal 30% increased spell damage for 40 sec.
Places a Rune of Power on the ground, which lasts for 1 min. While standing in your Rune of Power, your mana regeneration is increased by 100% and your spell damage is increased by 15%. Only 2 Runes of Power can be placed at one time.
Places a magical ward on you, absorbing up to (1374 + $SPA * 1.320) damage for 8 sec. Absorbed damage will restore up to 15% of your maximum mana.
When this effect ends, you gain up to 30% increased spell power for 15 sec, based on the absorption used.
Hoo boy, this is a tough one. All of these look great! Invocation is perfect for a glass cannon spec. Rune of Power gives a frostie more group utility by having a little something for the healers to munch on. And Incanter’s Ward just looks like the perfect OHCRAP button. These really give you something to consider!
There’s a fine line to be trod here between "interesting but not class-defining talents" and "doesn’t matter, vote the party line". In the end I’m worried that talents are becoming no more significant than glyphs in design, or, should I say, the new Prime Glyph of the game, now that those aren’t a part of the game any more.
I appreciate the concept – that rather than give you the illusion of choice knowing you’re always going to pick what is recommended, they take away the choices that aren’t choices and leave only the stuff that you have latitude to choose.
The balancing act, however, comes in when you try to balance each tier’s talents against each other so that the choices that you can make are for your own good, yet none becomes a non-choice due to clear superiority over the others.
Meanwhile, the obvious PvP choices have already been made for you, if you’re a PvP-er, so even before we get out of the gate, the point has been proven. Within each tier, then, the remaining choices are mostly based on play style.
It will be interesting to see how that balances out in a live environment.
Next up: the spellbook.