Trading Talents and Tomes

WoWScrnShot_052916_201246This blog post technically contains Legion spoilers.  However, they pertain to the cost of switching specs, something that will undoubtedly change before the game is officially released.  There are no lore or class change or even artifact spoilers here.  But if you are avoiding everything Legion, read on at your own risk.

A couple weeks ago, Blizzard announced a change about something I had previously dedicated an entire blog post to: the gold cost of changing specs in Legion.  You can read their full post here but the gist of Watcher’s post was that players already considered changing specs to be a significant shift, rendering the gold cost intended to add weight to the decision to switch specs rather redundant.  The gold cost would be removed.  While this argument was different from what I had written, I am still extremely happy that Blizzard reached this decision.  Despite what some naysayers would think, Blizzard is listening to feedback!

The second part of the post was less universally loved.  Watcher went on to talk about how instead of a spec changing barrier, there would instead be a talent changing barrier.  Details were a bit vague but the general idea was that you could only change talents while in a safe area (somewhere where you are in the rested state) or near a scribe-created tome that allows player to re-talent.

I, for one, am 100% behind these changes.

Firstly, this change will help make Inscription an actually valuable profession again.  Retalenting Tomes would be a necessity for any group content and demand for both the Tomes themselves and the scribes who make them would remain constant over the course of the expansion.  Scribes would have a reliable and constant cash flow.  Professions (or at the very least, this one) would matter again.  After the cluster duck that was Warlord’s professions, this would be a nice change of pace.


Soon, screencaps like this will be ancient history

More importantly, this change actually allows for more options.  When you think about it, the actual mechanic of changing talents won’t change.  The name and source of the tome is changing but it is still, in essence, a consumable item that allows you to change your talents.  The gold cost of said tome may increase, this is yet to be seen, but in the base functionality, it is identical.

However, the talent changing mechanic gets a lot more interesting in two ways.  For one, instead of being a personal item that changes talents, the new scribe-made tome would allow all nearby players to swap as many talents as they please for an amount of time.  Personally, I love this change.  In a group environment (where I personally would be using this the most), this means that before a boss pull, you just have to drop one more additional item.  Buffs, feasts, and now, tome.  In a sense, this is actually easier than individuals carrying around Tomes of the Clear Mind.  If one person has a tome then everyone benefits.  And for players who might not be as good about remembering to swap their talents for a specific boss fight (not that this would ever be me, nope!), the tome could serve as a reminder to do so.

The second way this talent changing mechanic gets more interesting is that it now has a time cost as an alternative option to the gold cost.  You could drop some change on scribe tomes, or you could make your way to the nearest rested spot.  So for those just leveling out in the world or swapping talents in the capital cities, well they’ve just saved a good amount of gold.  As someone who is chronically poor in WoW, I am always a fan of adding time costs as another method of doing something.  But I know there are people who have all the gold in the world and not enough time, so by having both options Blizzard can tailor to both types of players.

I really think Blizzard has nailed it with these proposed changes.  I was already ecstatic about the removal of the spec change tax and the talent swapping change is just icing on the cake.  Swapping one consumable tome for another, when the new tome can be used by more than just one person, and gaining a time cost alternative?  They’ve won me over!

What do you guys think about these changes?

One thought on “Trading Talents and Tomes

  1. I respectfully cannot disagree more with your assessment. For the record, they also added an inscription made individual tome and group codex to change talents.

    Blizzard has stated talent choice is about meaningful choices, and thus try to create talents that play strong in certain situations and weakly in other situations. By playing strongly and weakly, there are good times to have the talent and bad times, thus making the choice between talents meaningful. There is a gain for a good choice, and a cost for a bad choice.

    Now lets look at two types of players, high skill group players, be they PvP, Mythic Dungeons, or Raiding. I would postulate that these are the places where you find the highest % of players who actively change talents. Then there are the primarily solo players or less challenging group players as well as new players who I think tend to change their talents significantly less frequently. Of these two groups who would you think derives more benefit from changing a talent to fit the situation they are engaged in? I would say it is the solo or less challenging content people. By virtue of their smaller group play (1-5) people, they are going to have less abilities and tools to deal with any particular situation. The 10, 15, 20+ raid teams and pvp teams have a much wider set of tools to access without changing talents, and by simply switching some assignments or expectations, they have the capabilities to engage the situations needs. Solo players and small groups may not have the tools to engage the situation. Their talent change gains them more than a talent change would in a raiding/pvp environment.

    I would also postulate that the average cash on hand is higher for the 1st group (raiders, pvp, etc) and less for the 2nd group (solo, etc). The nature of highly organized activity such as raiding and pvp tended to require more gold reserves, to purchase the consumable items that are regularly needed in those activities. Whereas, the less formal and challenging content of solo and lower difficulty content does not have that expectation or requirement. On average (there are always exceptions), I think the 1st group is much more knowledgeable about gold making and makes more overall.

    Knowledge is the real crux of the issue. Those highly organized activities will educate more people about their consumables, their need for certain abilities to deal with situations, more familiar with dealing with variable situations (having had to deal with similar problems in past activities). These, remember, are the people whom are changing their talents the most frequently (like myself). The change doesn’t change the way I will do business or those of us in the 1st group. We will know where to get the item, who to get the item from, or have one of our alts provide the talent switching item.

    The second group, however, on average does not have similar knowledge base or support structure for providing the talent changing items. Anytime there is a barrier to entry (participation) there is a certain % of people who shrug and walk away from engaging that activity. By changing the item from vendor bought in every city, most towns, and on the vendor mounts to auction house or scribe gotten (for significantly higher cost), who do you think is going to look at that and know how to and why you ought to overcome that barrier? I believe the 1st group of highly organized players will. The solo players and lower difficulty players are going to shrug and not engage the talent system at higher rates than the 1st group. These are the players who would benefit the MOST from changing talents. Add to this 2nd group, new players who are not equipped to understand the value of a talent or talent switching. Then they can change them here, but not here, there but not there. Its a recipe for non-engagement with the talent system. The cost and disincentive that Blizzard wants to add is aimed at high frequency talent switchers, but this model disproportionately harms the low frequency talent switchers (newer, slower, and casual players).

    What is the net result? I think high frequency talent switchers will modify their methods minimally. If there was a subset that switched between each trash pack, yes they will probably reduce their activities, but the majority of high frequency talent changers will effectively behave in the same way. Select whatever talents are appropriate for the boss encounter or notable trash packs. New, solo, and lower difficulty players will altogether stop engaging their talents and stop making meaningful choices due to cost, lack of information, and inexperience. In the end, this “solution” to the high frequency talent switchers does more harm to the player base in aggregate than the benefit of slowing a very small minority of high frequency talent changers.

    Many have suggested cooldowns or some other timebased/frequency measurement to stop repeated quick talent changes. These models have the benefit of not disproportionately harming or de-incentivizing the less formal player base from engaging a major system within the game. My personal solution would be some number of charges for talent switches within a 5 minute window. Hit that number of switches and you cant change until the 5 minute timer is up. This charge counter would reset upon death. (Death is a significant cost with the need for repairs and reapplication of consumables).

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