Datamining has reached the Artifacts talent tree, with all the so-far datamined traits. Fair warning though, this is probably an early sketch of the traits and once it is launched, we will most likely see something entirely different. I have no illusions that the final version will look anything like this, but it does give us an inkling of where the developers are going with the spec. And no one can stop me from speculating and… feedbacking!
Initial Trait (Golden Circle)
The Mists of Sheilun (Rank 1)
When you heal allies, Sheilun has a chance to draw in nearby mists, increasing your healing over time effects by 0% for 10 sec. When this effect ends, Sheilun will release a wave of mist that heals all allies within 0 yards for 0.
Major Traits (Dragon Circles)
Shaohao’s Mists of Wisdom (Rank 1)
Casting Renewing Mist or Enveloping Mist has a chance to cause your staff to create the Mists of Wisdom that will heal a nearby ally with the powers of the mist every 5 sec for 10 sec.
Blessings of Yu’lon (Rank 1)
When you use Revival, the spirit of Yu’lon appears and grants all allies healed by Revival the Blessing of Yu’lon, healing them for an additional 0% of Revival over 6 sec.
Celestial Breath (Rank 1)
When you activate Thunder Focus Tea, you exhale the breath of Yu’lon, healing all allies within 0 yards for 0 over 5 sec.
Harmony and Focus (Rank 1)
Thunder Focus Tea now has 0 additional charge.
Mists of Life (Rank 1)
Life Cocoon now applies Renewing Mist and Enveloping Mist to the target.
Dancing Mists (Rank 1)
Renewing Mist has a 0% chance to immediately copy itself on another target whenever it is applied.
Coalescing Mists (Rank 3)
Increases the healing of Effuse by 13%.
Shroud of Mist (Rank 3)
Reduces damage taken by 13%.
Way of the Mistweaver (Rank 3)
Increases the healing from Enveloping Mist by 13%.
Protection of Shaohao (Rank 3)
Increase the absorption amount of Life Cocoon by 20%.
Extended Healing (Rank 3)
Increase the duration of Renewing Mist by 8 sec.
Soothing Remedies (Rank 3)
Increase the healing of Soothing Mist by 13%.
Infusion of Life (Rank 3)
Increase the healing of Vivify by 13%.
Spirit Tether (Rank 3)
Enemies within 8 yards of your Transcendence Spirit have their movement speed reduced by 55%.
Light on Your Feet (Rank 3)
After fully channeling Font of Essence, you move 55% faster for 3 sec.
Did anyone say mists? Seriously, I get flashbacks to Blizzard’s April’s fool about Monks:
“Abilities without the words “Chi” or “Zen” in their name have been fixed to correctly have one or both. Enjoy Spinning Zen Crane Chi Kick.”
Now instead, we shall enjoy being a Mistweaver, with the Staff of Mists, casting Renewing Mist, Soothing Mist and Enveloping Mist, with traits such as The Mists of Sheilun, Shaohao’s Mists of Wisdom, Mists of Life, Dancing Mists, Coalescing Mists, Way of the Mistweaver, and Shroud of Mist. Hey, I heard you liked mists, so I put some more mists in your mists, mkay?
Jokes aside, the new Artifact traits look really interesting. If we look at the talent tree, we can see three tiers of traits. There is the initial trait, marked with a golden circle, which is your starting point. Then at the edges of the tree, we have the major traits, which are marked with the dragon portraits. These add very special abilities or modifications to the base skill set. To get to the major traits, we must go through some minor traits. Generally speaking, minor traits are basic HPS increases (one way or another). There are one or two special traits, such as the one that makes your Transcendence spirit slow enemies within 8 yards. Minor traits also have ranks and can be upgraded to greater strength.
We know that we will acquire Artifact power as we level and do certain types of activities in the game. With Artifact power we can unlock traits in the Artifact tree, though it will take time to unlock them all. The Artifacts also have a special slot for relics, a new category of equipment. There are different types of relics, but in the datamined version Mistweavers will be going for a Life and a Water relic. Relics will determine the Artifact’s ilvl, in addition to adding ranks to some traits. Minor traits have a max rank of 3, which means relics can unlock it up to rank 5. Later in the game, there will be relics that can add ranks to traits that previously did not have ranks.
Mistweaver Traits and General Feedback
It is difficult to say anything specific about the traits when I know that there is a distinct possibility that none of them might make it to the final cut. But let’s say that this is Blizzard’s first draft of the tree and they intend to iterate on it a few times; this gives me the perfect opportunity to give some general feedback while the developers are in the production cycle, and nudge them in the right direction.
What is fun Gameplay?
Speaking in broad terms, the Artifact tree should provide some strong and fun buffs to the gameplay. It should be exciting to unlock new traits and adjust the gameplay accordingly. The term “fun” is highly subjective however, which means I must further define what I mean with “fun”. It is actually surprisingly difficult to define which exact part of Wow’s gameplay is fun. I know that while I mistweave, I enjoy myself and I think it is a rewarding experience – but what exact mechanic or type of gameplay is it that elicit those feelings? I would presume that I like quick paced and deep gameplay, because it feels so rewarding to succeed with it. But once again, what does “quick paced and deep” actually mean? Dammit, need to define this further.
The best way for me to hone in on what type of gameplay I enjoy, is by contrasting it with other games I like. For example, in Mass Effect 3 I like to play the class Vanguard, which is a biotic infused warrior that can essentially blink and explode into the front lines. I like blinking into the fray, it makes me feel part of the fight in a way that standing at the edges of battle never can. At the same time, I also like blinking out of the battle, like I do when I play Brightwing in Heroes of the Storm. I want to feel elusive to the enemies, and yet emerged in the battle. I could find this type of gameplay in Mistweavers with the old Chi Torpedo, and the new talent Mistwalk could definitely be up to the task. So that is what I mean by quick paced; immersive and elusive, everywhere at once!
As for “deep”, I had to actually think really hard with what I meant by that. I do not mean any type of complicated gameplay – we have seen that in Mistweaver 6.0, with Crane stance. It was very complicated, but in the end it was not wholly enjoyable. As a result, people chose to go either full Serpent or full Crane, but actual stance dancing was not that popular. It was too complicated. So how does one strike the right tone of complicated?
In my opinion, the best type of “deep” gameplay is when you can make strategic choices, get better or worse result, but you will not be punished too hard if you make the wrong decision at the wrong time. The key word here is choice. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the base kit needs to be expanded to allow for more spells (though it is possible with talents). I think the new version of Thunder Focus Tea really captures that sort of gameplay – once every 45 sec we can empower one spell of our choice. It is a strategic choice (go for single, cleave or AE heals) – but choosing the wrong spell will not have gigantic impact on your performance; you can recover. On the other hand, you can really improve and optimize your gameplay by choosing the right spell at the right time. The Artifact trait Celestial Breath takes this a step further by adding an AoE heal when you use Thunder Focus Tea. You might want to scuttle to some allies in need before considering popping it! But there is more than just gameplay to consider.
Artifact and the New Mistweaver Class Fantasy
When Blizzard said that they wanted the class fantasy to feel immersive, they weren’t kidding. I think we could not elude the fact that Mistweavers are about mists, even if we tried to. Looking at the artifact traits, I see the Mistweaver fantasy being continually reinforced. The major trait Blessing of Yu’lon completes the appearances of Celestials in the Monk class (Invoke Niuzao, Xuen and Chi-ji as talents, but let’s invoke Yu’lon with Revival!), and the Celestial Breath trait is an upgraded version of Breath of the Serpent, which makes you breathe healing mists. Much cooler!
The identity of Mistweavers in 6.0 was really hard to define, which is why I agree on the decision to remove Crane stance. It was hard to consolidate the two very different aspects of the spec. The new Mistweaver is really clear cut and has a strong identity which is much easier to grasp. The only drawback I see is the weakened link between the Mistweaver spec and the Monk class. Monks are supposed to draw strength from within themselves, and use their bodies as weapons. For Mistweavers 5.0 and 6.0 this was expressed through fistweaving and Crane stance – we empowered and strengthened our bodies to give devastating kicks and punches. Very kung fu, very Monk.
While I think the new Mistweaver class fantasy is really cool, the removal fistweaving and Crane stance has made the link to being a Monk slightly more tenuous. I am currently not seeing anything within either the Artifact or the talent tree to reinforce the link (though, it could be implemented in future iterations). The base kit has melee abilities, sure. But with our current status as ranged healers, those abilities are more peripheral than integral. What I would like to see in the Mistweaver kit are spells that reinforce the fantasy of being a kung fu master (of the mists). Does that mean Mistweavers must stand on the front lines and punch the boss? No! There are many ways of implementing the feeling of being a kung fu master than just being able to punch bosses in the face.
I would find it really exciting and interesting if the developers integrated a form of Tai Chi into the spec. Tai Chi is a slow moving form of kung fu, which centers around breathing and movement applied with internal power. In other words, the Mistweavers could control the mists by exercising the slow but precise movements of Tai Chi. There is also a form of Tai Chi that is centered on staff weapons, which is fitting since Mistweavers have Sheilun! But slow moving martial art would tie the spec Mistweaver, master of the mists, and the class Monk, internal power and using the body as a weapon, together in a way that enhances the new Mistweaver class fantasy.
How would this be expressed in-game then? Well, part incorporating Tai Chi (or similar) into the spell animations. When casting a healing spell, maybe do one of the moves from the Tai Chi 24 forms? This could be done without adding any further spells or traits. But giving existing spells or adding spells with that certain kung fu flavor would really strengthen the spec. I tweeted before that since Mistweavers lost Touch of Death we should get Touch of Acupuncture, as a joke. But I was only half kidding – Mistweavers should have a stronger connection to the Monk class as a whole.
Going Forward into Legion
So, my feedback so far:
- Promote a fast paced (immersed in battle, but elusive to enemies) gamestyle – Chi Torpedo and Mistwalk are examples of this.
- Promote a gamestyle that relies on strategic choice – abilities such as Thunder Focus Tea, with related talents and traits, epitomizes this.
- Strengthen the tie between the Mistweaver spec and the Monk class by integrating kung fu style animations and abilities (!) into the spec. Tai Chi is a good example of kung fu style that can match the class fantasy.
All of these aspects can be integrated into the Artifact talent tree – some already have. Some traits only give a flat healing increase, which could be improved by working in a strategic aspect into the trait. The traits Celestial Breath, Blessing of Yu’lon and Harmony and Focus are my favorites because they capture the class fantasy, while adding depth to the gameplay. But traits such as Soothing Remedies (increased healing for SooM) and Infusion of Life (increased healing for Vivify) might be strong, but very boring to unlock since they do not have any strategic depth to them.
I have also noted that a few traits have a limited range, which I suppose could be everything from 5 to 40 yards. But if they are short ranged abilities (and I imagine some are), that means we have another set of abilities that requires positioning. Now I am going to circle back to previous feedback – which still holds true! If Mistweavers are going to have positional requirements for some heals (Celestial Breath, Mistwalk) and melee abilities (Tiger Palm, Blackout Kick) without our melee status, then the heals will only be used on only half the raid and the damage abilities will remain untouched on the action bars. No Mistweaver will jeopardize the raid by going into melee and risk hitting them with ranged mechanics, but having unused abilities is just heart wrenching.
The developers should either grant Mistweavers immunity to ranged mechanics to allow us to heal melee and do damage with our core damage spells (CJL is supposed to be used for emergencies), or if they insist on ranged status: give Mistweavers proper ranged abilities that can be used at all times. I would definitely prefer melee status, but as long as we are designed as either melee or ranged (and not anything in between) I am happy.
That summarizes my feedback, and I must say that I am incredibly excited for Legion! And cookies for you if you read the whole post!