A few days ago, I wrote a post about my thoughts on mistweavers’ toolkit in Legion alpha. My opinion is generally positive to the changes; we have a more adaptable and flexible toolkit that allows the mistweaver to tackle different types of encounters with greater ease. (If you haven’t read that post yet – you can read it here.) Expanding on that discussion, here’s part 2 where I review the new talent tree.
The Talent Tree
In my mind, the purpose of a talent tree is to give depth to a base toolkit, and you should be able to create depth with different builds that emphasize different strengths. There should be opportunity to talent for greater AoE healing vs single target healing, or more mobility, add control, damage, passive healing, or active healing, etc etc. Ideally, the talent tree can deepen the strength of characteristic that are important within the same raid tier as well. It’s not interesting to talent for greater mobility unless some of the encounters have mechanics that make mobility an attractive choice.
Since I haven’t done any raid testing yet, I have to review the talents without a Legion raid context. It’ll be my preliminary opinion, bound to change once I have more experience of the content. But there’s still value to give feedback, even at an early stage like this. And once again; I will overlook the numbers for now and focus on the feel of the talents instead.
Well, many of the talents in Legion have been revised and we see a very different talent tree from Warlords of Draenor. What unfortunately characterized the Draenor version was that there were few interesting choices for raiding – I never changed my talents unless I switched between 5-man and raid healing (and then, only 1-2 talents were changed). In Legion, there are a some new talents that add interesting choices, though there’s still talent rows here and that are too niche, in my opinion.
The Talent Rows
Let’s start with the least interesting talents. Level 30 talents (Chi Torpedo, Tiger’s Lust, Celerity) are pure mobility, and there is not enough distinction between them to have any important impact on our gameplay. The choice is more up to personal preference.
Level 60 talents (Ring of Peace, Song if Chi-Ji, Leg Sweep) are purely Crowd Controls. I always go for stuns in a raid settings, since incapacitates are often broken by splash damage here and there, and knockbacks are more annoying than useful. I can imagine a knockback could potentially be useful at some point, but since it requires the add to actually use a harmful spell before it has any effect, it feels a little unreliable in a raid setting. I will probably always opt for Leg Sweep.
Then there’s our defensive row, level 75 (Healing Elixir, Diffuse Magic, Dampening Harm), which interestingly enough supplies us with our only defensive (since Fortifying Brew is gone). I don’t think Healing Elixir has ever been competitive in a raid setting for mistweavers, even less so when only Thunder Focus Tea and Mana Tea can trigger it manually. Diffuse Magic and Dampening Harm are much more interesting choices, just as in Warlords, since they are both reliable damage reduction cooldowns that respond to different types of damage patterns. Though both spells have been nerfed, their importance is still significant due to being our only defensives.
Let’s talk about the first row; one of the rows I think is a little wonky at the moment. The level 15 talents (Chi Burst, Zen Pulse, Mistwalk) adds another healing spell to your repertoire. Mistwalk changes your Transcendence blink to a teleport/charge ability that heals for a small amount. Though I was initially very happy about Mistwalk, it has progressively become worse since it doesn’t increase your mobility and only adds a little healing.
Zen Pulse can potentially work as a very strong single target heal – as long as there are many adds near the target (and doesn’t work at all if there are no enemies nearby). Chi Burst is still a very strong choice due to always adding a strong burst heal; even if the raid is spread out, there’s always the melee clump to aim at. The strangest aspect of this row is that both Zen Pulse and Mistwalk have very small niches, while Chi Burst will essentially work in every situation. It doesn’t seem very balanced mechanic-wise, and if the row remains as it is, Chi Burst will probably be the default choice yet another expansion.
The level 45 talents (Lifecycles, Spirit of the Crane, Mist Wrap) is one the more interesting rows. We have one talent that saves mana if used correctly, Lifecycles, which is useful both in 5-man and a raid-setting (since there’s a greater focus on targeted healing in raids). Spirit of the Crane is part of the new Fistweaving build, and allows one to slightly balance up the 3% base mana cost of Rising Sun Kick. Mist Wrap is incredibly good if you plan to single target heal a lot. I can imagine going for Mist Wraps increased healing in a raid setting; unless I have real trouble with mana, to which Lifecycles would be a better choice. Spirit of the Crane is a must if one goes in for Fistweaving (combo-ing it with Rising Thunder).
Let’s jump down a little in the tree. The level 90 talents (Refreshing Jade Wind, Invoke Chi-Ji, the red Crane, Summon Jade Serpent Statue) offer two passive healing abilities and one active. Chi-Ji is great for both 5-man and raid encounters, since it’s basically a passive heal that ticks every second and switches target on its own. The Statue is also a passive heal that works like a passive HoT you can move around, and is very good when you need more focused healing.
Refreshing Jade Wind is a slightly weaker and cheaper version of our old RJW, and it also powers up Essence Font while active. The new RJW and Essence Font can create a very powerful burst, but it is costly as well (5% base mana + 8% base mana). If you really need the burst healing, I can imagine going for RJW and try to go for a more mana-saving gameplay between the bursts. But if you have trouble with mana, Chi-Ji is really good for raid healing!
The last tier, the level 100 talents (Mana Tea, Focused Thunder, Rising Thunder), is my favorite row because I want all three talents. I want Mana Tea to enable powerful healing bursts without too much mana penalty, Focused Thunder for its added versatility; Rising Thunder when I can don’t need to spend all resources on healing and can go for more DPS. Since Thunder Focus Tea is one our most important base abilities, both the thunder talents are powerful, while Mana Tea can enable burst healing with RJW and Essence Font without completely depleting your mana. This makes for a tough choice when it comes to raiding, and I believe the best talent may vary depending on the diffrent encounters’ damage pattern.
Building Your Mistweaver
The talent rows should supply with interesting choices; the combination of the talents should supply with interesting builds. While the validity of the builds will be heavily dependent of getting the numbers balanced of the specific talents, there are still possible options on how to build your mistweaver. There are choices for heavy AoE healing, for better single target healing, a version of fistweaving and several options if you have mana problems. The defensives, utility and mobility options are locked in their rows, and you can’t opt for more or less; your only choice is between the different types of similar abilities.
While I think the new talent tree is a definite upgrade from the old one, I also see a need for some iteration. Personally, I think to make a talent interesting it should either be: a passive that changes your base rotation, an additional ability that has good synergy with the base toolkit, a cooldown with strategic importance, or additional utility. Due to this, I think of the first row to be least interesting; an additional spell that has little strategic impact. It’s just there to be pushed whenever you remember it. Mistwalk had the potential to be a fun spell, but since it replaces Transcendence, you do not really get additional mobility.
I also had hoped that there would be less “themed rows”; as in our mobility/utility/defensive rows, as had been talked about previously on Blizzcon. Maybe it turned out to be harder than expected to balance the talents; but one could have hoped for some more diversity in those rows.
Bottom line is, despite a few caveats, that I think the talent tree has good potential. While I look at some of the PvP talents a bit jealously (Way of the Crane, hello) it’s a good start. Hopefully, the developers will continue to iterate and experiment with the talents until we have an even more polished version.