I was discussing the upcoming changes for the talent trees in Cataclysm in the previous post's comments section, and we hit on an interesting point I felt warranted a post... also I have a bunch of SS's from Cataclysm I wanted to share!

Hybrid builds are DEFINITELY something Blizzard wants to do away with. I'm not going to go out and look for the post, but GC basically said that those 45/12/13 builds that get everything needed in PvP are unsupported and basically a "clever use of game mechanics" which cannot be nerfed strictly for PvP.

Here's a GREAT example:

In WotLK Beta, Guntir and I were running 2v2s a lot, and we started noticing a trend: Ret+HRet was basically unstoppable. Both of them had infinite mana, the Ret put out insane damage, and they both had Repentance (if you don't want to go back to those posts, JotW used to return 33% total mana, not base, so Holy Pallies went that deep into the Ret tree because there were a lot of "crit increased by 5%" talents to pick up on the way... you'd still be an amazing healing AND you couldn't OOM... plus another CC!).

Long-story-short, they changed JotW to be based on the paladin's base mana so that Holy Pallies wouldn't spec Ret to heal.

With the way the early talent trees in Cataclysm were shaping up, Resto Druids were going to have access to both Feral Charge (Bear), possibly Brutal Impact (for a 10s Kick and 30% increased mana cost on spells for 10 seconds), and definitely Solar Beam... it was going to be insane.

With the new trees, hybrid builds are dead. No one is arguing about this yet, but keep in mind that this means that Rogues will no longer have access to Preparation unless they ARE Shadowstep... yeah... this change has far-reaching ramifications beyond the hybrids... in most cases it actually hurts the pures MORE than hybrids.

That last sentence is a pretty big claim; it is truly unclear how I can make such a bold statement without some facts to back it up. Obviously, the Shadowstep example is one which really encapsulates the issue, but there are many MANY more examples of this hurting pure specs more than hybrids:

1) Only Survival Hunters will have access to Scatter Shot
2) Only BM Hunters No Hunters will have access to Intimidation (Pet stun) anymore.
3) Only Arcane Mages will have access to Improved Counterspell (that's the ONLY way CS acts as a silence, otherwise it's a giant, long-ranged kick... that's right... a Frost Nerf; ever thought you'd see the day?)

We even see that some HYBRIDS are hurt more than others... but really only the hybrids with more than one tree devoted to the same role (so DKs have 2 melee dps trees, as do Warriors, etc):

1) Arms Warriors cannot get Piercing Howl anymore... that's right, no more AoE Snare for Arms Warriors.
2) While this isn't related to the talent tree mash-ups: Warriors no longer have Unrelenting Assault, so no more double-MS on targets!

Long-story-short: none of the trees are "done", that much is sure, but the one thing we CAN take from this is that this only hurts the specializations which were not specialized to the granularity Blizzard wanted. Further, Blizzard WANTS specs to be specialized along the lines of 31/10 builds, as is evident by how the new talent trees are designed.

Q: Do you know which specs this helps the most?
A: Singular hybrid specs. That is, Hybrids who have only ONE tree for ONE role:

1) Feral - We always go 0/6x/1x at the moment... which really easily translates to a 31/10 build in Cataclysm because there are only 2/3 talents in Resto that Ferals have ANY interest in, and zero talents in Balance (now that we cannot get Lunar Beam with off-the-wall builds).

2) Boomkin - Again, not much going on in Resto that Boomkins want to get.
3) Enhancement
4) Elemental
5) ... MAYBE Retribution ... but there are some neat looking Prot talents, so it's hard to say that Prot and Ret are two different roles JUST YET. I hope we don't have to deal with an OP Protret in Cataclysm, but Protribution specs are interesting if balanced.

It's funny, really, when you look at this change. The new talent trees say "you have to specialize in ONE effective tree," which somewhat pigeonholes some specs which rely on picking up the best from every tree. Again, this ONLY happens routinely in PvP environments because pures have 2-3 trees which all perform the same role, but have many goodies to use (Mages particularly come to mind, but even Warlocks and Rogues). To a lesser-extent, hybrids with multiple trees which perform the same roles ALSO get hit by this nerf-bat. Hybrids who specialize in a single role with a single tree are going to get treated as-is... nerfs really aren't in the future without directly nerfing the spec, and I simply don't see Enhance, Feral, etc getting nerfed out-right.

Here are some Cataclysm screenshots I took last night:


Shred is only 40 energy! I did not bother looking into this normally, but I have the sneaking suspicion that Shred is normally 50 energy, but once you've spent 31 points in the Feral tree, its cost is reduced to 40 energy. Again, do NOT quote me on this, but it's a hunch of mine.

A big ol' Ferocious Bite crit without a Feral weapon (again, scales around AP, so the difference would not be huge, but it's still rather meaningful.

Solar Beam looks kinda boring... but it's got a 16y radius... it's HUGENORMOUS!