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A talent is an additional class-specific ability or power that requires talent points to gain or improve. Each class has three Talent Trees to choose from. With the upcoming expansion Mists of Pandaria, there will be only one tree for each class, and points will be done away with. However, there will still be three different specializations (with the exception of druids, who will then have four).
Personalizing your character is what separates each character of the same class. During the early Beta Test, the character Talent system was very rough and Blizzard went back to the drawing board to make the system more intuitive by adding prerequisites to the Talent system. If you have played the Diablo series of games you'll be more than familiar with the idea of a skill tree and this is the new system Blizzard has employed for World of Warcraft's Talent point assignment.
Why have Talents?
The reason talents are included is so that each player of the same class will be slightly different as far as how their skills work and how effective they are in certain areas. Certain talents are beneficial for leveling, while others help you do better in PvP, and others still can help you with Raiding. Without this system, each class character would be identical, which would remove some of the variety of the gameplay. It's up to the player to make his character different by specializing in the character's different Talents.
How does the Talent system work?
Talents are unlocked at level 10 and you begin receiving Talent Points. Level 10 grants you a Talent Point as well as level 11 and every odd number until level 81 where you receive a talent point per level starting at 81 until level 85. When you first earn Talent Points you must choose one of three Talent Trees to determine your specialization (referred to as a "spec") afterwards, you can begin placing Talent Points into the tree you have selected. Some classes have multiple roles depending on which tree you choose, such as Tank, DPS, or Healing, but some classes only have different playstyles of the same role; for example the Rogue is a DPS only class, so all his trees are DPS. The maximum amount of Talent Points is 41 and once you have 31 points in your main Talent Tree you can begin placing points into either of the other two trees, as some of those talents may be useful at higher levels. Although this seems pretty straightforward, careful selection of talents and point placement can easily make the difference between one who opts for PvP as opposed to another who opts for PvE.
Some Talents are available immediately, and the rest are greyed out. This is because you first need to assign points to the first tier of talents (the top row) before proceeding to the next tier of talents. In Tier 1 you can begin placing Talent Points as soon as you reach level 10, Tier 2 requires 5 points in that tree in order to unlock, and each subsequent tier requires an extra 5 points in the tree (not necessarily in a certain tier) before being able to put points in the next tier of talents. The 7th tier of talents (the bottom row) has always only 1 talent and is usually considered an "Ultimate" talent for that tree and are almost always very useful.
Once you have assigned a point into a talent you must click "Learn" to finalize the allocation. Once allocation has been finalized, you cannot retract that point unless you go to your class trainer and ask to relearn your talents. This will reset all of your talents in a tree allowing you to reallocate all of the Talent Points you've earned, but at a cost that increases each time you relearn your talents, so please choose wisely.
In Mists of PandariaThis section concerns content exclusive to Mists of Pandaria.
In the upcoming Mists of Pandaria expansion, the entire way talents work will be revamped. The proposed new system still has players choosing their main specialization at level 10 and receiving abilities tied to that specialization right off the bat. As players progress, however, they will not have talent points to place in trees; rather any new abilities tied to those specs will be automatically given at periodic intervals.
The talents tied to the single tree for each class will be offered every 15 levels. Players will be given an option at that point of choosing between three (hopefully) comparable talents. Only one talent can be chosen from each level of talents, so a player can't go back and choose another one of the three that are available at, say, level 15. The plan for now is that talents will be as easily changed around as glyphs.
Tied into this new system is the fact that there will no longer be ranks of abilities and no mandatory talents.
Where can I find the talents?
There are a couple of ways to activate your Talents window. One method is to click the Talent icon on the Micro Menu of the interface bar at the bottom of the screen (assuming you are using the default UI). This pops up the Talent interface which features the main Talent window showing the tree and Talents. It also features three tabs along the bottom which can be clicked to flip between each of the three trees. You can also activate the Talent interface by pressing the N key (if you haven't unbound it or bound the key to a different action).
What if I choose the wrong talents?
Don't panic! Players have the ability to unlearn all their talents and start over. Your Class Trainer, for a modest fee (increases by 5 each use, to a maximum 50, however the first time you do this you will only be charged 1, a freebie of sorts), will let you recover all Talent Points spent up to this point. You can then reassign all your points. Keep in mind that all points are removed from ALL trees, and you'll also unlearn higher ranks of the spells achieved through a talent point expenditure. Fortunately, as of patch 2.4 you will automatically relearn the ranks of these spells as soon as you put talent points back into them.
You can avoid accidentally clicking the wrong talent by enabling talent confirmation. This is an option in the Features tab of the options pane.
Since patch 1.11 there is a decay in the cost of such talent respecs:
- The cost to unlearn talents will now decay over time. This cost will be reduced by a rate of 5 gold per month to a minimum of 10 gold.
Note: Although the official patch notes continue to say that the minimum is 10, subsequent official posts on the WoW forums have confirmed that that is a mistake, and the cost will only be reduced to a minimum of 15.
Occasionally, Blizzard will restructure a class's talent tree. If the change is significant, they may reset that class's tree, allowing you to respec for free. Talent changes do not always give a free respec: for example, in patch 2.3.2, the mage spell Ice Block was made trainable, and the talent Cold Snap was moved to its place, and the new spell Icy Veins was put in Cold Snap's old spot. This change did not give mages a free respec, but it required those mages specced for Ice Block to go to a trainer and buy that spell.
Prior to every Expansion, Blizzard has and will reset the talent tree incase the player wished to change before the new expansion.
Advice on picking your talents
- Pick one thing to do and stick with it. If you try to (for example) get a bit of healing ability and a bit of tanking ability, you'll probably end up bad at both.
- This does NOT mean you should definitely put all your points in one tree. Once you get the "ultimate talent" at 31 points, look at your other trees. Consider this a very strong, well-founded suggestion as the base talents in many trees work well with the advanced talents in other trees. That's not to say, however, that a Mage who puts all 41 points into Frost is automatically an easy target in PvP. In the hands of a skilled player, a 41-point single tree build can be very effective.
- Any ability that activates "whenever you are critically hit" is a PvP talent (PvE players won't get critically hit much) and can be safely skipped if you aren't doing much PvP.
- Any ability that gradually applies several stacks of a buff or debuff is designed for boss fights, which last long enough for these abilities to reach a full stack. When you're leveling, your fights usually won't last long enough, so skip these talents if there's something better available.
- Any talent that decreases threat caused by your abilities is obviously a PvE talent, designed for group situations such as instances. They are not recommended whatsoever for PvP play, and are completely unnecessary in that area.
- Any talent that makes you go faster in terms of movement (or mount) speed will save you a tremendous amount of time and is almost always worth getting while leveling.
- When leveling on a PvP realm, it is entirely understandable if you choose to create a versatile spec that allows you to perform decently enough in PvE but also gives you a boost in PvP capability in cases where you have to defend yourself from players of the opposing faction. In this case, this is a healthy alternative to focusing your talent build entirely on PvE or PvP.
- After purchasing Dual Talent Specialization, most players usually opt to have one raiding build and one PvP build.
- There's no such thing as a bad spec (except in very few cases). That's still no excuse to bring your PvP spec into an end-game raid, however. Please be aware of the strengths (and purpose) of your talent build, and utilize them accordingly.
- If you see someone else saying that only certain talent builds are acceptable, pay no attention to him/her. Talents were implemented so that players could further customize their characters. Five Mages from the same guild having the exact same talent build because they were told to is not customization. Choose the talents that work best with your play-style, but do be mindful of which talents you end up choosing. Again, choose the talents that work best with your play-style and you will become stronger.
- If you're having problems being accepted due to your talent build (which shouldn't happen, but sometimes it can), purchase Dual Talent Specialization. Now you can have both a cookie-cutter build and your own customized build, and you can switch between them any time you wish. Problem solved!
Pet talent points
- Main article: Pet talents
In patch 3.0.2, hunter pets went from having to be taught abilities using training points to having a talent tree, depending on the beasts' family type. Unlike players the pets start earning talent points at level 20 and then gain a point every 4 levels. So by the time your hunter reaches level 80, the pet will have 16 spendable points, unless the hunter has the Beast Mastery talent, which adds 4 more points.
In Mists of PandariaThis section concerns content exclusive to Mists of Pandaria.
- Unofficial (Wowhead)
Planned Cataclysm changes
- This section should be moved to a subpage as Mists of Pandaria gets closer, perhaps after Patch 4.3.
Class Talent Sytem
Taken from the official World of Warcraft Blizzcon Blog
Perhaps the most exciting of these changes is the removal of the old talent tree system. Rather than each class having three separate trees, one for each specialization, players will now choose talents from individual sets which are awarded every 15 levels. Each class will have its own selection of talents, and the entire list will be available to all characters of that class regardless of specialization.
Each talent set is comprised of three talents which fall into a clear "theme." Some sets will offer utility such as movement speed increases and boosts to survivability, while others will reduce the costs of certain situational abilities. Currently, the goal is to avoid making any particular talent mandatory or to have them play a role in ability rotations directly. Instead, they're intended to give players interesting ways to customize their characters according to their preferred playstyle.
In total, there will be six talent sets, with players unlocking a new set every 15 levels. This means that there will be fewer talents overall, but each talent you choose has the potential to have a much more dramatic effect on your gameplay.
Another big change being made is how talents are selected. Instead of "purchasing" talents with a predetermined number of points (earned as you level), talent selection will be toggle-based. For each set of three talents players unlock, they will get to choose one talent to activate, for a total of six active talents at level 90. (Talent ranks have been completely removed.)
Similar to current functionality, talents selections will be finalized by clicking "Learn" at the bottom of the talent pane; however, a big benefit of removing talent points is that it allows us to let players "re-talent" with more flexibility. Even after players have activated their talents, they won't be completely locked into their choices as they are now. If at any point a player feels that another talent may be more appropriate or fun, he or she can simply select that talent from their tree and click "Learn" again. This can be done on a talent-by-talent basis or, if the situation demands it, all talents can be changed out at once.
As a result, talents can be changed out when switching specs, as well as when running dungeons, raids, and battlegrounds. While re-talenting will most likely be disabled during combat and will incur a small fee (either in the form of gold or a reagent), it will still give players more opportunities to adapt their characters to better meet the challenges they expect to face while playing.