I haven’t spent a whole crapton of time on the new talents and the trees, because everything is subject to change.  I’m pretty late to the party on this one.  (By the way, I’m using the SWTOR Spy PTS talent calculators.  I mean skill tree calculators.  Totally skill.)

The Watchman and Combat Sentinel trees look fucking awesome at 55.  There they seem balanced.  And the lower half of the trees seem to be barely touched.1

But the big top-of-tree ability for every tree of every class that I used to be able to get at level 40 is now delayed to level 45.  How are these changes going to affect me along the way (for main and alt alike) – specifically between levels 35 and 55, where most of the changes seem to be centered? Will the fight at the end of Act 2 (because there is always a fight at the end of Act 2) become super-easy or nearly impossible?  Will different classes be affected differently by this?

When I am forced to respec my Sentinel at lvl 50 for the climb to level 55 using the new skill trees, I will need to spend 36 (rather than 31) points in my primary tree in order to get the final talent in whatever tree it is, which is, in all three sentinel specs, the bread and butter of that spec. This leaves me with only 5 out-of-tree points to play with, instead of 10, and the abilities that I JUST HAD under the old calculator are now unattainable.  So I have to choose between the top-of-the-tree ability that I JUST HAD or the lower abilities that I ALSO JUST HAD.  It feels like losing something.

I will likely level in Combat spec because it doesn’t benefit much from those last 5 points (or lose out much by not having them spent), and then switch to Watchman at level 55.  Due to a talent position switch in the combat tree, Watchman needs to spend at least 8 points in the combat tree to get the off-hand damage boost which, in my opinion, is a very mandatory talent.

If you’re curious,  here’s my level 50 combat spec.  Seems pretty functional to me.  It’s only really missing a crit bonus, and I can live without that.

Gunslinger is a bit different.  I’m already playing a dirty fighting/saboteur hybrid spec, and don’t have the top talent in either tree. Similarly, there are plenty of viable sharpshooter specs out there that forego the top talent in that tree.  I don’t envision the respec at 50 to be too painful or to actually lose any abilities I currently have.  Because all the new talents are at the 31-35 point places in the talent tree, I won’t even be speccing those at all with a hybrid spec.  Will this gimp my dps?  Are the new trees designed to penalize hybrids by putting highly desirable talents in the 31-35 bracket?

My level 50 hybrid spec will probably look like this, and I’ll pick up the Arsonist and Sharpshooter talents along the way. (Sharpshooter (accuracy) last, since it won’t matter much until I start doing ops.)  Depending on the theorycraft regarding hybrids, it may be worth it to switch to pure dirty fighting at 55 or sooner.  In Jaspor’s Bioware interview (GO READ IT), it seemed like the devs allow for hybrid classes, but don’t intend for them, and certainly don’t want them to outperform everyone else.

As for my Sage, I have no clue, as I haven’t made it to 50 yet.  I just hit 45.  Cognizant of these changes, I paid special attention when I got turbulence at level 40 and tried to estimate how much it improved my DPS for the last 5 levels.  It was pretty important, though not as important as the top talents in the Sentinel Combat and Watchman trees (in my opinion).  I think I probably would have been OK without it, but not particularly happy to be putting my skill points into the skills right below turbulence that, you guessed it, buff turbulence.

I’ll probably stay telekinetics up to 55, nonetheless.  I’m not teaching myself new tricks in balance, and then ending up speccing heals at 55 anyway (the current plan).  Heals at 55 looks awesome.

How do you feel about the new trees at sub-55?

  1. Except! Dual Wield Mastery moved to tier 2 of the combat tree from tier 1.  Not cool, Bioware.

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