I've made it known that I am not a huge fan of the super cookie cutter design that talents will be when MoP comes out but lets not fool ourselves. In one way or another, even if they gave us a billion choices the people in the know will always end up with a cookie cutter spec.
When it comes to spec there is always a best option. Always has been and always will be. This just takes out the guess work on which is which by making it that there is no real choice. If you want the perfect spec for a marksmen hunter now all you need to do is choose to be a marksmen hunter and you got it.
The main reason it seems blizzard is going this route is to make sure everyone at least has a fighting chance. Everyone will have the same, hopefully viable, spec. You will not run into three different marksmen hunters with three different specs.
As an added bonus from a design standpoint by taking away peoples choices it should, in theory, make balancing the classes a lot easier as no one can end up choosing things that the design team did not anticipate.
Back on task. You might run into three marksmen, one a pure raid DPS spec, one that decided to throw a point into silencing shot and a third that seems to have just picked anything. Those three styles of players show exactly the reason why choosing your spec and having it all given to you on a silver patter with absolutely zero need for choice is a good thing no matter your level of game play and choices you might normally make.
Lets look at those three hunters right now:
The pure raid DPS guy most likely read everything they had to offer at elitist jerks and even if he does not understand it he can be 100% sure that the spec he has is capable of giving the most DPS.
The silencing shot guy is the person that probably also read everything they had at elitist jerks but made a conscious choice to bring a little utility to the raid at the cost of a small amount of DPS.
The pick anything guy can have one of a hundred different specs. It could be good, it could even be perfect, but it is picked at random which means it can also be horrible. If life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you will get, picking your talents at random is sort of the same. You might end up with the perfect thing or something horrible.
With the changes to the talent specs come MoP all three of those marksmen will have the exact same spec. Even if they wanted to be different they can't.
Some argue that people will be allowed to choose the 6 extra talents meaning it is not cookie cutter it is just making sure everyone has the basics before they let people play around with the flavor. This seems to be completely true, for the most part. All those 6 extra things can be ignored if someone wanted to being they are usually support abilities or ability modifiers.
However, those 6 extra things is what seems to make the no choice spec a plus for all three of the previously mentioned people.
Lets look at how the MoP talent changes effect those three hunters:
Mr raid DPS had the perfect spec. Now he still does. Of course it is the only spec but if it is the only one it has to be the best one. So the only thing that changed for mr raid DPS is that he no longer needs to read tons of posts where people debate the best spec. It saved him time spent outside of the game.
Mr utility made the choice to sacrifice a small amount of DPS to add the silencing shot. Now he does not need to. He now has the perfect spec just like mr raid DPS and can choose his silencing shot for flavor without having to sacrifice DPS to do so.
Mr pick anything usually was one of two types of people. One that didn't care about the perfect spec or one that didn't know about the perfect spec. Both would never look things up because one didn't care to and one didn't know to. Now they both have the perfect raid DPS spec like mr raid DPS and both have the utility like mr utility and neither of them had to care or know to get those things.
So not being able to pick a spec made everyone's life better. It made everyone's life easier.
We will lose a lot, a hell of a lot, not having the choice to make our own specs but there is a great deal we will get when it happens as well.
Things will still fall into a what is the best choice for the 6 utility abilities and those 6 will usually be posted in places like elitist jerks and the such. Things saying, silencing shot is a good choice for this boss or ironhawk is required for this boss and things like that. All of that will be to assist however, I doubt any of it will ever be make or break because at least in theory that is not what those abilities are meant to be if the advertising is to be believed.
Everyone having the same spec means, more then ever before, that people have no excuse for lack of ability. You have the same tools everyone else does. You have the same skills everyone else does. You have the same cooldowns as everyone else. Being there are no choices, you are always 100% the same as everyone else. If someone is doing better then you in the same gear then there is no excuse except for it is you.
For the assorted 6 abilities, which could play a factor it will also be easier to correct people if indeed best case is decided upon by the theory crafting crew. It will be a lot easier to tell someone, switch that point to rapid fire than telling someone they need to completely respec.
There is the second reason why no choice is the best choice.
With our new no choice option we only have the flavor points and from what it seems to be those flavor points can be changed on a whim and one at a time. Whereas before when you might have needed silencing shot for a fight you needed to completely respec and research which spec that has silencing shot is also the best DPS spec now you can just move a flavor point over and you have silencing shot. No research needed. No complete respec needed. Just nice and easy and simple.
Respecing for a single fight because it is needed for only that one fight is now a million times easier as well. How many marksmen have went into concussive barrage just for beth or a fight like that? No need to any more.
If you have an ability that is really needed on rare occasion, one you used to have to completely respec for, it is either baseline in your spec now or it is as simple as changing a flavor point.
Another bonus to the new cookie cutter style is no deep research needed. If you are a marksmen hunter and want to try out survival just pick the survival spec and you got the perfect survival spec. No research needed. You pick it, you got it.
Now go find yourself a rotation (or priority) guide and you are ready to roll. You might not break any world of logs records as soon as you switch but you can be 100% sure that you will have the exact same spec that the person that is #1 for hunters on world of logs has, so you are starting in the right place.
There is one other thing that the changes to the talents in MoP is doing that, for me, is huge. Beyond huge even. Insanely huge.
No need for dual spec any more. No no, not like that.
My tanks tank and my healers heal. My warrior was prot and my priest was disc. When they finally got the ability to dual spec my prot warrior got a second prot spec. My disc priest got a permanent PvP disc spec. My tank was still only a tank and my healer was still only a healer.
If I really wanted to get into it I could say that my priest could have easily used trispec and still been only disc. I could have an atonement spec, a non atonement spec and a PvP spec. Heck, I could have even had a different spec for soloing old content. Yes, it is something I have looked into, soloing old raids in disc for fun to see how far I could get.
No longer is that needed. Disc is disc is disc. All I can do is change the flavor points. Whereas respecing completely could be researched each time I wanted to do it I don't need to any more.
I mourn the loss of special specs for special tasks but I do not mourn the idea that I need to constantly respec every time I wished to do something different.
Do some dungeons with atonement spec being I don't need healing only spec for randoms and then switch to PvP spec for a few battleground and then to a pure healing spec for raid night. I needed three specs for one days worth of playing. Not even dual spec helped here. No longer. Disc is disc is disc as I said. All three of those things are the same exact spec now and changing the flavor points is a lot easier then completely respecing.
My warrior will no longer need to go deeper into fury for piercing howl just for my add tanking spec. Piercing howl is now a flavor thing that I can switch on and off as I need it. My life has entered ez mode when it comes to respecing. Maybe my warrior might actually have a DPS spec for once?
How about my hunter? At the moment I am MM and SV on my main hunter but when I go out and about in the world I would love to have a BM spec in case I run into a BM only rare tame. I never switch because the cost of switching and the time to respec just isn't worth it to do it every single day. Now, switch to BM and no worries about having to build a spec even for temporary use. Once I spec BM I am ready to roll with it. Nice and easy.
As much as I really hate losing my ability to make some seriously strange combo specs, was even better in wrath when we where not locked to one tree for a certain amount of points, I am starting to think that this no choice option is really the best choice.
For all I loss not being able to choose my spec I gain something else. In some cases, I gain a lot more. Like my disc priest will be able to be all disc things in one spec. Now I need to decide on holy or shadow as a dual spec. A decision I have never needed to ever face before because both specs where always used for disc.
So while I have less choice in making my spec, having only one spec means I now have more choice because my warrior is no longer prot/prot and my priest is no longer disc/disc.
Less choices gave me more choices. Who would have guessed?
Alternative leveling - part one of 3(ish)
3 hours ago