What makes a great talent tier? How much can a tier vary, and how little can a tier vary, for it to remain interesting? Is a tier that’s rarely changed okay, if all options are still viable?
(Or: How to title a blog as something that sounds absolutely horrible out of context.)
Here’s how I determine my favorite race:
- Does it have horns? +1000 pts
- Does it have digitigrade legs? +1000pts
- Does it have fur? +500 pts
- Does it have a tail? +500 pts
- Does it have good hairstyle options? +500pts
- Does it have good hair color options? +250pts
- Is it unusual in some way (i.e. not human)? +100pts
- Are there a lot of this race in my raid group already? -250pts
- Does it look good in transmog? +50pts
- Cool animations? +50pts (not quite so important for monks, because we have unique animations)
Which puts the rankings at:
- Draenei: 3450 pts
- Tauren: 3100 pts (Sadly losing out because of lack of hairstyles and colors.)
- Worgen: 2150 pts
- Pandaren: 1950
- Everything else: 850, plus or minus 100 pts
Barrier to entry
At first glance, talents are pretty easy to use. They require a cheap reagent and moving buttons around or a macro. However, I still see lots of resistance to changing talents for every fight. The best part of talents is changing them around for unique circumstances, and there should be little to no barrier of entry to encourage that. The number of times that, at the suggestion of changing a talent for a particular fight, people have reacted in surprise, often with a “well, I just always run with Rushing Jade Wind”, is enough to convince me this is a problem.
Our final tier of talents specialized in AoE damage, specifically the magnitude and frequency of that AoE damage. In the beginning of the expansion, Rushing Jade Wind was an entirely different talent. It was an aimed AoE burst skill that also increased the damage of Spinning Crane Kick. While not a useless skill, it was very situational, and given the absolutely uselessness of Chi Torpedo for non-healers, we were given a more competitive choice in the form of today’s sustained AoE RJW.
Level 75 talents provided defensive skills of varying situational utility. Diffuse Magic was the most situational and most powerful, reducing magic damage by 90% for a brief 6 seconds. Dampen Harm was moderately situational, reducing all damage by 50% but requiring a high number to trigger and only reducing 3 hits. Healing Elixirs was the most general, useful in all fights but not nearly as powerful. Of the three, Healing Elixirs was the only one to see significant change throughout the expansion. Initially, it simply tied a nice heal to our brew skills (Purifying, Elusive). It wasn’t very popular early on (though I still found it useful ), but once it added a low health trigger and prevented healing at full health, I think it gained some favor.
Level 60 talents originally focused on crowd control, with Leg Sweep, the one with the shortest cooldown, longest effect, and AoE capabilities, being the clear winner. Ring of Peace didn’t exist until a later patch, and the original talent turned Paralyze from a melee ability to a ranged one. That talent has since been folded into the default Paralyze utility. Charging Ox Wave’s only change was a drastic reduction in cooldown, making it shorter than Leg Sweep.
In the modern times of late Mists, we now have three competitive, though highly situational, talents. One for frequent/ranged stuns, one for disarm/silence, and one for longer duration stuns.
The aspect of guide writing that has continued to fascinate me is presenting information in a way that brand new players can digest it, and balancing that with providing a resource for experienced players.
As a someone who regularly attempts to teach herself many things, presenting information in an interesting and learnable state has become increasingly important to me, and I’d like to extend that courtesy to when I am trying to teach others. Here are the things I’ve learned.