Since the pre-Cataclysm patch is imminent, I think that it’s safe to treat the talent trees as fairly complete. There should only be tweaks from here on out, rather than wholesale changes. That means that its time to start looking at talent builds.
There are three talent builds that I’m looking at.
- Playing/raiding in the post patch 4.0 Wrath world, before Cataclysm. For these two months, I’ll still be raiding in an environment that stresses mass-tanking, AoE damage, and little to no crowd control.
- Leveling 80-85 after Cataclysm is released. This has to emphasize soloability and survivability, and mob control over sustained dps.
- Heroics and raids once I reach level 85. Its hard to say how this build should look since I haven’t experienced that game environment. From beta reports, it seems like survivability is still key and CC will be used. I’m guessing that large health pools will emphasize sustained dps rather than burst.
The other thing to consider is that, ideally, all three talent trees will be playable. With the current talent system, it should be possible to tweak the specs so that they all have similar damage output.
For me, I’ve been playing Mutilate almost exclusively throughout Wrath. I’m most comfortable with the Assassination talents so I expect I’ll stick with that for now.
Part 1: the last two months of Wrath
Here’s what I expect to spec into once the patch hits.
- 3/3 Coup de Grace
- 3/3 Lethality
- 3/3 Ruthlessness
- 3/3 Puncturing Wounds
- 1/1 Cold Blood
- 3/3 Vile Poisons
- 2/2 Seal Fate
- I need 2 more talent pts to open up the next tier, so for PvE I’ll go with 2/2 Quickening
- 1/1 Master Poisoner
- 1/1 Overkill
- 2/2 Murderous Intent (hello again, Backstab. Good to see you again)
- I need one more talent point to open up the next tier, so either 1/2 Expose Armor or 1/2 Deadly Brew
- 3/3 Cut to the Chase
- 2/2 Venomous Wounds
- 1/1 Vendetta
That opens up the other trees for me. I only have 5 points left to spend. So I’ll divide my points between 3/3 Precision and 2/3 Relentless Strikes. That ends up looking like this. Overall, this build should play very similarly to the way Mutilate builds play now. The big change will be to switch to Backstab as a finisher when the target is below 35% health to take advantage of Murderous Intent.
Part 2: Leveling 80-85
Once I start leveling after December 7th, I’ll need to change my priorities. I need to be able to take or avoid damage as I solo mobs while questing. I’m not trying to min/max my dps.
- As soon as Cataclysm is released I’m changing my spec. I’ll drop my 3 points in Precision, as hit won’t be of paramount importance while questing. Those points will better be spent on 2/2 Deadly Momentum. As long as I’m soloing I’ll get all the killing blows and that will keep my Recuperate and SnD going as I fight.
- I’ll put my other point that was freed up when I dropped Precision into Relentless Strikes, bringing that up to 3/3.
- At level 81 and 82 I’ll take 2/2 in Nightstalker. Faster movement in stealth ftw!
- I prefer to use a lot of stuns when soloing, so combo point generation is of paramount importance. At level 83 and 84 I could take 2/2 in Initiative for the good burst damage after my opener. However, if after playing through Cata for a while, I find that I’m not able to burn the mobs down fast enough without taking a lot of damage, then I’d consider moving those points to 2/2 Improved Recuperate for the extra self-healing.
- Once I hit 85 I’ll be respeccing to start running instances, so that last talent point at 85 is immaterial.
Part 3: Instancing at level 85
If the stories are true, and crown control is back, then my instancing/raiding assassination spec will need to be changed to include some attention to that. Also, to help my healers preserve their mana, I’ll want to avoid damage as much as possible.
- Assuming that we’ll actually be asked to sap things, I’d drop the points in Deadly Momentum and move them to 2/2 Blackjack.
- I can move the point in Improved Expose Armor to Deadened Nerves for heroics if the damage is heavy, as people are saying. Otherwise I’ll keep it in Improved Expose Armor.
- In heroics where I’ll be pushing dps on bosses I’ll want to get more hit, so points go back to 3/3 Precision.
- 3/3 Relentless Strikes.
- 2/2 in Improved Recuperate would work if its necessary to keep my health up. However, I’d rather put those points into 2/3 Improved Ambush – not because I like Ambush, but because it opens up the next tier of Subtlety talents.
- I can spend my last points on 2/3 Opportunity for a pure dps increase.
- That becomes a 31/3/7 build
All this is subject to change as new theorycrafting reveals nice synergies between talents. Or myabe I’ll just change my mind.