Tome of the Cranky Mind

I am sure it is the heat. Here in Virginia we have been subjected to a summer heat wave the likes of which we have not experienced in, well at least in as long as I can remember. High temperatures combined with humidity so high that the heat index has hovered around 110 now for several days. Of course, we little hothouse flowers of humans nowadays can seek refuge in technology, with air conditioning nearly everywhere. So it is not like it was when I was a kid and we would get a hot spell — I would sleep on the floor in the kitchen where the linoleum offered a tiny oasis of cool if you rolled around often enough and kept your jammies soaked down from the nearby sink. Me and the dog, good times …

Still, heat waves tend to make people cranky, even if now you can escape the worst effects. (Ask any cop and they will tell you crime rates and domestic disagreements vastly increase as the temperature does.) So I am blaming the heat on my bad mood this morning. What specifically am I peeved about? Glad you asked.

Talent swapping in 7.0.3. This has turned out to be way more annoying than I thought it would, and I truly do not understand why Blizz has done it. The cover story, you will recall, is that initially Blizz proposed charging gold — a significant amount, on a sliding scale that increased the more often you did it — for changing specs. The community raised a ruckus, pointing out it was pretty darned disingenuous of Blizz to brag about how there would no longer be a 2-spec limit in Legion, you could play every spec of your class with no restrictions, and then hit you over the head with a punitive gold cost to do it. Very quickly — possibly a little too quickly — Blizz reversed itself, said, OK we are nothing if not responsive to our player base (haha, good one, Blizz), so we are not going to charge you to change specs, instead we are going to make it lots more inconvenient to swap talents if you are not in a rest zone. Which of course meant that Blizz was going to make talent swapping in raids more annoying. (Far be it from me to engage in conspiracy theorizing — stop laughing — but it almost seemed as if the talent thing was planned all along and made more palatable by first threatening the gold cost for spec swapping as a red herring. “See? We feel your pain, we are kind benevolent listeners, we want you to be happy!”)

Thus, this ridiculous new tome mechanic. You have to have Tomes of the Clear Mind (for now, but at level 101 you will need a different tome). These are not the same Tomes of the Clear Mind you used to buy from a vendor for 50 silver each, these are now crafted by inscriptionists.  They are consumed if you swap talents outside of rest zones, and the swap window is limited to a minute. The Tomes are not insignificant in the number of mats required — 20 Light Parchment and 4 Warbinder Inks per tome — and honestly some specs can easily go through 8-10 or more per night in a raid.

But it is not the cost that is troublesome — 50 silver was probably way too cheap for the old ones — it is the inconvenience of the added step. Whereas before, to swap talents you could bring up your talent window and make the swap (auto-charging you for the Tomes you had in your bag), now you have the added step of activating the Tome, then opening the window and swapping your talent(s). I know, it doesn’t sound like much, but over the weekend doing a bit of raiding I found it incredibly annoying. For one thing, that added step sometimes meant that the raid was back in combat before I could complete the swap, thus wasting the tome as well as not being able to complete the swap.

But the part that really makes me angry is that Blizz has designed certain talent tiers specifically to force a choice between AoE or single target, and they have designed raids that rapidly hop back and forth between the two kinds of fights, often on the extreme end, HFC being a prime example. In other words, they have designed the game to encourage players to frequently swap talents. And now, for no apparent reason beyond orneriness, they deliberately make it more difficult to swap talents to optimize your play.

I would just like an answer as to why they have done this.  At one point, I thought it might be some sort of time regulator for the new Mythic+ dungeons — you know, slow down the talent swapping process to preclude people from actually *gasp* playing their specs to the max. Can’t have that, for crying out loud. (Bring the spec, not the player.) Not to mention if people can rapidly swap talents, then Blizz might have to  design the instances and the variations better, what a ridiculous concept.

But the more I think about it, the more I think this cannot be the reason. Sooner or later someone will (if they have not already) design a little addon that automates the additional step, making it trivial. I am sure you could also create a macro to do it, something along the lines of /use Tome of the Clear Mind followed by whatever the script is for opening the talent table. At most, this would be a two-click way to do it. With a little more ingenuity, I suspect you could also actually swap the talents you use most frequently without having to do so manually. So eventually the new mechanic will not be any different time-wise from the old one.

It is possible that Blizz suddenly realized, with the demise of the glyph system, that scribes no longer had any real source of income, so they quickly threw this in as a partial fix. (Why no one realized that before the glyph system was trashed is a bigger question, of course.) But that still does not explain the pain-in-the-ass two-step process for talent swapping. Why not have scribes make and sell the Tomes, but have them auto-debited like the old Tomes were whenever you swapped talents?

Oh, and as long as I am on a rant about talent swapping, I really cannot see the Legion Codex of the Tranquil Mind, that will allow for group-wide talent swapping, being used much at all. Why would you go to the extra cost and effort — and I suspect it will be fairly significant — of crafting these for a raid team when you could just as easily put a few stacks of the single Tomes in the guild bank for raiders to use, or require each raider to bring their own the same way they are now required to bring flasks.

I confess I do not know a lot of the details about how the Codex will work — I don’t think Blizz has released a lot of information about it, honestly. But it seems to me that it will have to have an obvious benefit in order to justify crafting them for a raid. Remember the cauldrons in Cata? (I think it was Cata.) Those had a benefit in that they provided flasks that lasted 2 hours instead of the normal one hour, so there was a decent advantage to using those instead of having each player bring their own, or even instead of stocking regular flasks in the guild bank for raider use. I think for Codexes to be beneficial, they will have to have a similar clear advantage over the individual Tomes. Maybe, for example, they could allow all raid members to freely swap talents for an hour or two (or until they leave the group). Or they could get really radical and allow in-combat talent swapping for, say, the next boss, or the next 10 minutes or something like that. But absent a clear benefit over the individual Tomes, this will be a useless gewgaw.

Well, it’s Monday. I didn’t sleep well. It’s beastly hot. And Blizz, just this once, could you please please please clue us in on why you have created this moronic and annoying mechanism for swapping talents? Did you, too, wake up one morning all cranky from the heat and decide if you were annoyed, then everyone else should be, too? I could relate if that’s the reason, is all I am saying.

About Fiannor
I have a day job but escape by playing WoW. I love playing a hunter, and my Lake Wobegonian goal is to become "above average" at it.

4 Responses to Tome of the Cranky Mind

  1. I feel your frustration. “Meaningful” seems to be the mantra in Legion design and making meaningful decisions have become important and I’m afraid we’ve lost sight of “fun”.
    Is a painful choice made meaningful if that choice was the wrong one? I don’t think so.

    • Fiannor says:

      Yeah, somehow I have a hard time accepting that Blizz’s definition of “meaningful” implies selecting where you will suck in your spec. I understand that every spec cannot and should not be strong in every area, but when that is Blizz’s design philosophy, I think it is incumbent upon them to put more thought into encounter design. For example, they should not design fights that are almost exclusively single target or AoE fights, they should design them to feature both types of fights — maybe by phase or by having raid utility jobs that will take advantage of one or the other. (“All you AoE gods, take care of the masses of adds that come in phase 2.”)

      But, according to the Blizz definition of fun, what you said about making a wrong choice is indeed the idea, in the same way that never getting an RNG gear drop is great fun because of how great it will be when/if you finally do get it. Whee!

  2. Grumsta says:

    My current thinking is that I’ll have one spec talented for single target (Arcane) and another spec talented for AoE (Fire). As switching specs is quick, free and requires no consumables this seems the easiest option.

    If the specs require massively different secondary stats, or (more likely) I can’t maintain adequate weapon progression on both specs I might have to reconsider my plan.

    I guess it’ll come down to the fight design for T19 onward in Legion. If a tier is heavily weighted towards either ST or AoE it makes the talent choices much easier.

    I still think the current system is poorly thought out, and I wouldn’t be surprised if feedback from raiding teams trying for Mythic firsts doesn’t make them reconsider and perhaps abandon this. Maybe it’s just bought Blizz enough time to think of something useful for Scribes to do?

    • Fiannor says:

      I suspect the artifact chase might make your plan difficult — not impossible — to implement. And I hope you are right about an eventual change to this terrible idea on Tomes. Again, I have no problem with them being available only from scribes, not from vendors, but the two-step process just really stinks.