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The following is a detailed summary of a proposed change for the talent trees of the Paladin class for both Patch 2.3 in the The Burning Crusade expansion and for the upcoming Wrath of the Lich King expansion for World of Warcraft.
There are several people to recognize for their help. I would like to thank Racial of Kalecgos for continued support in an environment so adverse to intelligent discourse, as well as the other helpful people who provided me with suggestions and responses. Of the concepts in the trees, however, direct number and concept changes have been inspired by two people. Iapetes inspired my change to the talent “Healing Light,” and the person to whom the most gratitude is due is my good friend Spunt from Darrowmere. He and I spoke at great length about many of the more unconventional ideas and changes in these trees and he provided feedback and ideas that were absolutely vital to the shaping and tuning of some of these talents.
Inherent Flaws and Solutions
I am aware that my proposed talents for the Wrath of the Lich King expansion are intrinsically flawed due to the following assumptions I was forced to make in order to best work with these talents: 1. Though I am aware that there will be new spells, I was forced to assume that there were not and therefore not account for improving them in these talents. Though this reduces the credibility of these changes, I would not be able to create new spells with which to work. 2. I am not capable of predicting what any possible numbers will “look like” when players start reaching the level cap in Wrath of the Lich King, which means that the static numbers I have proposed cannot possibly apply to such an environment for a certainty, and though the percentage based scaling numbers I have provided are much more flexible there are far too many variables to account for. Though I am incapable of dealing with the first issue, I used some methods to help alleviate problems caused by the second. Though the Wrath of the Lich King talent trees are designed to function in a level 80 environment, I based the majority of numbers off of level 70 situations and data when attempting to determine balancing issues. Though these numbers become relatively useless in a level 80 environment, having somewhat realistic numbers helps provide solid context for reviewing the concepts behind the talents.
III. Talent Tree Statistical Analysis
Each tree contains a total possible talent point investment of 85 points. I kept that number even between each tree because I felt that it was important for each tree to have the same effective opportunity to excel, and I decided to increase that number by so much is that it allows for many more possibilities for new talents. Some refer to this as “bloating the trees,” but I disagree. The method by which I added talents was by following what Blizzard had established as the talent progression for specific roles, adjusting what I believed needed to be adjusting, and then adding possibilities for other play styles and roles alongside that model of progression. Thus I maintained a specific progression in each tree for a specific role while offering more options to those who wanted something different, talents that did not affect the specific progression model and therefore were not “required” to be taken and would not prevent players from branching out into different areas. And example of this would be the Protection tree. There is a progression by which one can attain every talent they would want in the Protection tree to assist them in end game raid tanking. This path involves a 51 talent point investment into the Protection tree and does grant the Paladin the 51 point active talent. The model of progression for end game tanking has been preserved, and allows for customization through other options by not requiring excessive investment in the Protection tree.
No. of Active Talents 4 5 5 14 No. of Passive Talents 24 25 23 72 No. of 1 Point Passives 1 0 0 1 No. of 2 Point Passives 7 9 5 21 No. of 3 Point Passives 7 9 10 26 No. of 5 Point Passives 9 7 8 24 No. of Vertical Dependencies 3 3 2 8 Sum of Tiers in Vertical Dependencies 4 5 4 13 No. of Horizontal Dependencies 0 2 2 4
Holy Protection Retribution Total
Figure 1: Summary of statistics for proposed Wrath of the Lich King Paladin talent trees. As I had mentioned, offering so many options allows for many possibilities. This meant that I was also able to customize each tree to allow for specialization based on what play style one would prefer to pursue. Should one spec Holy for PvE healing, PvP healing, off-spec healing support when one’s main spec is not needed, or even Holy spell damage, there are talents tailored to support their pursuit. Should one spec Protection for tanking 5 mans, tanking end-game, PvP defensive support and viability, off-spec support tanking for when your main spec is not needed, for off-spec party and raid defensive support, or even AoE grinding and farming, there are talents tailored to support their pursuit. And should one spec Retribution for PvP domination, PvE DPS and party/raid viability and utility, or simply for having fun killing things, there are talents tailored to support their pursuit. For the The Burning Crusade set of talent trees, the changes in these statistics are much less radical.
Total Point Investment Blizzard Holy Proposed Holy Difference Blizzard Protection Proposed Protection Difference Blizzard Retribution Proposed Retribution Difference Proposed Total 62 66 +4 69 71 +2 65 69 +4 206
No. of Active Talents 3 3 0 4 4 4 4 4 0 11
No. of Passive Talents 17 19 +2 18 21 +3 18 19 +1 59
No. of 1 Point Passives 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
No. of 2 Point Passives 4 6 +2 5 8 +3 5 4 -1 18
No. of 3 Point Passives 5 5 0 5 7 +2 7 9 +2 21
No. of 5 Point Passives 7 7 0 8 6 -2 6 6 0 19
No. of Vertical Dependencies 2 2 0 3 3 0 2 2 0 7
Sum of Tiers in Vertical Dependencies 3 3 0 6 5 -1 4 4 0 12
No. of Horizontal Dependencies 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 1 0 2
Figure 2: Summary of statistics for current Paladin talent trees, proposed The Burning Crusade Paladin talent trees and their differences. When one takes the total talent point investment into consideration, one may notice that each of the Paladin’s trees have their total talent point investment increased, thus broadening the variety of talents available to the Paladin. When put in the context of class balance, this is an exceptionally valid concern. If one calculates the average of each class’ total talent point investment for each tree and then averages the sum of those they find the mean total talent point investment for an average class’ tree 64 talent points. Avg. Total Point Investment per Tree Proposed Paladin Warrior Rogue Paladin Shaman Mage Hunter Priest Warlock Druid 68.67 66.33 66 65.33 64.67 64.33 63.67 63.67 61.33 60.67 Distance from Aggregate Avg. +4.67 +2.33 +2.00 +1.33 +0.67 +0.33 -0.33 -0.33 -2.67 -3.33 Distance as Percentage +7.29% +3.65% +3.13% +2.08% +1.04% +0.52% -0.52% -0.52% -4.17% -5.21%
Figure 3: Class by class summary of average total talent point investment per tree and their comparison to the aggregate average total talent point investment per tree listed in order of descending average total talent point investment per tree.
One can see from this table that no class strays farther than 3.33 average total talent point investment per tree, whereas my proposed Paladin changes see fit to increase this figure by approximately 140%. Should the original Paladin be taken out of this table, the median for the distance from the aggregate average becomes +0.33 or +0.52%, with 1st and 3rd quartiles equaling -0.33 (-0.52%) and +2.00 (+3.13%) respectively and an interquartile range of 2.33 (3.65%). This information, though it does not qualify my proposed The Burning Crusade set of Paladin talent trees as a mild outlier by the standard statistical definition, shows that it is approximately twice as far from the 3rd quartile as it is from the point at which is qualifies as a mild outlier. And though, should one look closer at this data, the Druid is closer to qualifying as a mild outlier than the proposed Paladin, it is both closer to qualifying in arguably “the wrong direction” and in my opinion should not affect the fact that the proposed Paladin’s average total talent point investment per tree outstrips the rest of the classes by a decent margin. This may seem like arbitrary mathematics but in such delicate environments as World of Warcraft it can be quite important to evaluate. This data also brings to light some intriguing discrepancies involving the average total talent point investment per tree between the classes.
IV. Non-conceptual Adjustments
In addition to the conceptual changes I made to the talent trees, I also went through each talent’s tooltip text in order to establish continuity in terms of syntax and grammar as well as remove some ambiguities to the best of my ability. Though this does lead to longer and somewhat redundant tooltip texts, I believe that consistency and clarity are important. Text changes I made are as follows: 1) I changed any instance of text saying, “Gives [you or your] [spell, ability, attribute or statistic] [an effect]” to “Your [spell, ability, attribute or effect] has [an effect].” In the original trees posted on the World of Warcraft website these two syntax styles appeared in the tooltip texts and I decided to make them consistent. I felt that the format I changed them to lent them more formality and finality. 2) With the same goal in mind, I changed all references to cooldown decrements to “decreases” to eliminate some instances of an inconsistent phrase, “reduces.” I changed all verbs referring to effects and durations to “increases” and “reduces.” I also changed all verbs referring to damage to conjugations of “deal,” “increase,” and “reduce” and all verbs referring to healing to conjugations of “perform,” “increase” and “reduce” to establish the aforementioned consistency and to eliminate some instances of conjugations of the word “do.” 3) I rearranged the sentence structure of some tooltip texts to make all structures consistent. The best example of this is the restructuring of Improved Lay on Hands. The original text is as follows: “Gives the target of your Lay on Hands spell a 15/30% bonus to their armor value from items for 2 min. In addition, the cooldown for your Lay on Hands spell is reduced by 10/20 min.” Which I restructured into: “Decreases the cooldown of your Lay on Hands spell by 10/20 min and the target of your Lay on Hands spell is granted a 15/30% increase to their armor value from items for two min.” I restructured this text so as to provide the fastest to read benefit
first and to pull the text into a single sentence. The latter of the two reasons was necessary because I added an additional effect for which I needed the “in addition” extension. I placed the word “spell” after every reference to a Paladin spell that was granted a unique benefit. If multiple spells were granted the same benefit from one talent, they were listed and the word “spells” was placed after them. References to Auras were not categorized as spells in this manner, nor were Judgements of Seals as I considered them effects of the combination of their respective Seal spell and the Judgement spell, not a singular spell capable of being cast in and of themselves. In addition, every reference to some or all Seals, some or all Auras or some or all Judgements have their respective category capitalized as do every reference to schools of magic, classifications of “species” or Rage points when used in game mechanic contexts. A convention I noticed was that in all passive talents, the Paladin would be referred to in the second-person perspective. All benefits would be explained to the Paladin though text such as “improves your [spell, ability, attribute or statistic].” However, the active talent text would always refer to the Paladin in the third person, replacing instances of “you” with “the Paladin.” I appreciate this convention; however I noticed some violations of that standard so I replaced all references to the player in the second person with a third-person perspective. To reduce ambiguity, I changed many instances of text referring to forms of attacks. There were some inconsistencies in terms of how the concept of “all attacks” was dealt with, etc, thus I changed the convention. I split the “attacks” concept into “physical attacks” and “spells,” the former of which can be further split into “ranged physical attacks” and “melee physical attacks” and the latter of which can be further split into “Arcane spells,” “Fire spells,” “Frost spells,” “Holy spells,” “Nature spells,” and “Shadow Spells.” As one might notice, even my explanations are showing the loquaciousness and redundancy that I mentioned was a downside of the writing convention I used. I believe the matter boils down to a matter of what qualities one values more. For additional clarity, I changed many references to physical/spell critical strikes, physical/spell hit and parry. I changed all increases to the aforementioned statistics to correspond with the method by which it is listed on items, “Increases your [critical strike/hit/parry rating by x.” Thus any increase to critical strikes chance changed from “increases your chance to critically strike by x” to “increases your critical strike chance by x,” with the same style of change applying to the other statistics. I also split bonuses that increased a statistic for both physical attacks and spells, which would change a tooltip that hypothetically read, “increases your chance to critically strike with physical attacks and spells by x” to “increases your critical strike chance and spell critical strike chance by x” with the same style of change applying to the other statistics.
To get a full picture of these two talent trees with tooltips that appear when your mouse scrolls over their respective talents, the following are links to the sites on which I created these builds, and from which I am taking these images. I believe going to these sites, just as having a web-based talent calculator for normal talent speculation, will make visualization much easier and comprehensive. Wrath of the Lich King Paladin talent trees: http://www.war-tools.com/?p=vt&i=37433 The Burning Crusade Paladin talent trees: http://www.war-tools.com/?p=vt&i=40711 Now that these topics have been addressed, I will explain the proposed Wrath of the Lich King and The Burning Crusade Paladin talent trees.
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