World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Talent Tree Changes and Mastery System

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Talent Tree Changes and Mastery System
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The world of Azeroth is not the only thing undergoing a massive upheaval in the upcoming World of Warcraft expansion, Cataclysm. The way players spend their talent points and view the different talent trees of their chosen class are receiving a massive redesign, as well.

No longer will players have the option to spend points in all three of their talent trees. Post-Cataclysm, players will choose their specialization at level 10, and all subsequent talents must be spent in that area (up to level 70). Talent tress are also being reduced to 31 total points.

“Concentrated Coolness”

The reasoning behind the change is Blizzard’s stated goal of “a simpler design with a lot of depth, [rather] than a complicated but shallow design.” The developers are seeking to “trim the fat” from each of the trees, while still allowing room for individual character customization, according a recent announcement on

They’ll do this by including certain passive bonuses with every individual specialization. Talents that everyone takes in a certain tree, for example, aren’t really choices at all and will be converted to passive bonuses.

This way, players will be able to receive immediate benefits for their chosen specialization, rather than waiting for certain abilities to become available as they work their way down the talent tree.

Or, in Blizzard’s own words: “We want that first point you spend in a tree to be very meaningful. If you choose Enhancement, we want you to feel like an Enhancement shaman right away, not thirty talent points later.”

Specialization-Specific Abilities

Examples of abilities that players of varying classes will now have access to immediately at level 10 include: Mortal Strike, Bloodthirst, Shield Slam, Mutilate, Shadow Step, Thunderstorm, Earth Shield, Water Elemental, and Penance.

These are all abilities that in one way or another define their specialization, and all available from the very first talent point players spend.

Fewer Talent Points and Other Changes

Choose your Specialization

With Cataclysm’s removal of so many talents from the tree, it is also necessary for Blizzard to change the way players earn talent points as they progress through levels. Each tree will incorporate approximately 31 talent points, so players will only be earning new points every level or so.

The plan is to alternate between learning new abilities and gaining new talents. So, without changing the current setup too much, players will most likely gain abilities on even levels and talent points on odd ones, with the exception of level 10.

Players will also be required to progress all the way through their chosen specialization before being allowed to spend points in other areas. Blizzard has no plans to change the current dual specialization system, though, so players shouldn’t feel too locked into one tree.

The Mastery System

Warrior Fury Specialization

Along with these changes, Blizzard is introducing a new stat to equipment that drops in the Cataclysm areas: Mastery. Mastery is a skill that can be learned around level 75, and equipping items that posses the Mastery stat will increase certain passive bonuses unique to each specialization.

While many will most likely decry the death of in-depth character specialization, these changes for the most part seem to be for the good of the game. It’ll be nice to actually be able to tank as a Protection Paladin as early as the Deadmines, for example, rather than just relying on generic abilities and hoping for the best.

What do all of you think about the new World of Warcraft talent tree changes coming in Cataclysm? Let us know in the comments section.

This post is part of the series: WoW Cataclysm Class Changes

The Cataclysm guide to World of Warcraft classes, talents and glyphs.

  1. A Guide to the New Race/Class Combinations in WoW Cataclysm
  2. World of Warcraft Cataclysm - Race and Class Announcements
  3. WoW Cataclysm Patch 4.0.1 - All Classes Guide to Talent and Glyph Changes
  4. World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Revised Class and Mastery Systems
  5. Cataclysm Mage Changes
  6. What Changes Did Hunters See in Cataclysm?
  7. Cataclysm Shaman Changes
  8. Changes to Death Knights in Cataclysm
  9. Death Knights in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm
  10. World of Warcraft Cataclysm Druid Changes
  11. Cataclysm Priest Builds in World of Warcraft