Newbie Guide 9 - Abilities and Talents (WoW)  

For the mostpart, what defines the things your character is capable of is your class skills and talents. Choices for race and profession matter to a lesser extent, but a majority of the things you can do are dictated by the class you choose. Further down, there will be a list of the abilities you should know every class is capable of.

You can train every ability if you have the money and level to do so. Talents, however, are things not every member of a class will have - because they have to make a choice between them. (Some of the items in the trainer window stem from talent choices, but let's not split hairs.)

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The Basics

Beginning with level 10, you will start getting a talent point every level. This means you will only ever have a maximum of 71. Starting with level 10, you will also have a talent menu that shows you the options you could spend them on.

The purpose of talents is to give your character a sense of direction. One rogue might want to play a strong-armed thug while another might want to play a slippery thief or a shadowy assassin. Talents let you emphasize a particular aspect of your class.

Talents usually only affect your abilities in a passive way - this spell is 10% more effective, you deal an extra 20 damage with that skill, the cooldown on that skill is half a second less, etc. There are some talents that actually give you a new ability though. Once "trained" from the talent menu, there will be an icon for that skill in your spellbook, and you can drag it to your hotkey bar like any other. These skills very often have higher ranks you can train at later levels to make them more effective.

For example, Aimed Shot, a hunter talent that could be acquired at level 20, deals 70 extra damage on a shot that takes extra time to fire due to concentration. At higher levels, the extra time and mana wouldn't be worth 70 damage, but there are higher ranks of Aimed Shot that allow it to deal much more extra damage, making it still worthwhile later in the game.

The Trees and Re-specializing

Every class has 3 talent trees, usually representing three major aspects of your class. Druids, for example, have abilities to enhance their healing, their other spellcasting, and their shapeshifting. Hunters have trees related to improving their pets, their ranged damage, and their melee prowess.

A Talent Page
A Talent Page
Each talent tree has the abilities arranged to rows most people call tiers. There are only two trees on the first tier of a talent tree, and they are the only ones initially available. Once you spend 5 talent points on the items in the first tier, the second tier becomes available. (Obviously, this means that some talents can have more than one point spent in them.) After you have 10 points spent amongst the first two rows, the third row opens, and so on, all the way up to a row that requires 30 points spent.

Due to the 51 point maximum, this means you will never be able to get everything two different trees have to offer. You will need to make a conscious decision as to what you want your character to focus on.

Fear not! If you accidentally "waste" points by spending them away that you don't like in the long run, it is possible to reset your talents completely. This costs money, however, so it is not something to be taken lightly. The intention is to allow you to correct mistakes in your talent design, not to reselect them completely based on your situation.

To reconfigure your talents, go to a class trainer and select the second options, the one regarding talents. Your trainer will warn you of the cost, and after you confirm your talent reset, you will hear a shattering sound. Open your talent window, and they will all be unspent again. It costs 1 gold the first time you reset your talents, 5 gold the next time, and eventually it will escalate to 50 gold. You can reset your talents any time after that for 50 gold.

At level 40, if you have the gold, you can unlock a second talent tree for you to switch between by visiting your trainer.

People usually refer to their talent configuration as their 'spec' (short for specialization). The act of changing your talent points is often called 'respeccing'. People will often refer to their spec by the talent tree they have the most point in, for example, a Death Knight who has 51 point in blood, 0 in Frost and 20 in Unholy would say he is using a 'Blood Spec'.

Which Talents to Take?

Newbie Guide
Character Creation
The First Five Minutes
Interacting With Other Players
Basic Concepts
Regarding Tradeskills
Transportation and Getting Around
Items, Inventory, and Money
Quests, parties, and instances
Abilities and Talents
Odds Ends
Well, that's up to you. Some are better than they sound and some aren't. Some are also very much a matter of taste. For example, most casters have a talent that allows them to get a portion of their normal mana regeneration while casting, which is normally completely turned off during the cast and the five seconds after the spell. Some players feel this is extremely helpful to a character, while others feel that is total crap and the 5 points to get 15% of your mana regen back could better be spent elsewhere.

Keep in mind that there are also prerequisites beyond just the X points spent in tree requirement. For a priest to get Silence, in their Shadow tree, they must first spend 2 points in Improved Psychic Scream. Many non-PvP players aren't terribly thrilled with Improved PS, but they spend the two points in that skill anyway just to get to Silence.

Generally speaking, look at your talents carefully, and consider the things that look like must-haves. Make a list of them, and how many talent points it would take to get to them AND GET THEM. A skill that requires 20 points to get and takes up to 5 points has a cost of 25. Now pick a combination from the three trees that adds up to no more than 51. The priest that gets Silence would be spending 21 points. If they decide they also must have Inner Focus, a skill in the Discipline tree that would force them to spend 21 points, they will have at most 9 points left. Of course, things that are lower in the Shadow and Discipline tree that they need can be had along the way, but that priest could not spend more than 9 points in the other tree, Holy, without giving up one of those two skills.

Blizzard has designed the trees very carefully so in many cases you can NOT get the combination of high-end talents you want. It is not possible to get the last talent in a tree, that takes 51 points, and get a talent in another tree that is in the row that requires 20 points.

Also, most (not all, but most) of the talent-generated skills come on the 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 point rows, while many of the 5-point enchancement talents are on the "odd" rows. This means you can get one high-end ability choice, and then work up to one of the major enchancement talents, but not get two of the high-end ability talents.

While leveling or otherwise playing solo, your talent choice doesn't matter so much. Feel free to try out different things, money permitting. However, be aware that once you start playing with others, people will expect results from you - as such it is wiser to research which talent spec is optimal or stronger for a given situation rather than just go willy-nilly about spending your talents. The game has been out for over 4 years now and people have poured countless hours finding out which spec are the best - those specs are often called 'cookie cutter' spec. They're that way for a reason - they've proven their worth. Until you're comfortable with how your class and talent operate (And quite often, even then), it is usually better to borrow spec from people who have more experience.

What The Classes Can Do

Playing the game effectively does require you to know a little bit about the other classes and what they ARE capable of though. In the very first section of this guide, there were very brief descriptions of the classes and what their usual roles are. This doesn't tell you that a mage can remove curses though, and it might be some time before you learn this. Here is a partial list of what you should know about other classes:


Warriors have three stances, that determine which skills are available to them at that point in time. They can switch stances at any time, but they lose all their "mana." Warriors don't actually have mana though, they generate rage as the battle progresses. Most battle skills require rage, or generate additional rage. Warriors can dual wield at level 20 and you can usually tell which spec the warrior is using by his choice of weapons.
Abilities you should know about:
  • Taunt: While there is an actual ability called Taunt, this is refering more to the warrior's abilities that increase his threat, allowing him to be a tank.
  • Plate Armor: Warriors can wear plate armor, they will usually have much higher armor and health than other classes.
  • Shouts: Warriors have a variety of shouts they can use to weaken their foe and empower themselves and their allies. Those usually have short duration and will need to be re-applied during a fight.
  • Rage: Warriors do not use Mana, but Rage. Rage is gained by taking damage and dealing damage and is needed to use most of the warrior's ability. A warrior can be 'rage' starved if he is taking no damage and keep missing, but you will never need to wait on a warrior to 'regain mana' before a fight.

Talent Trees:

  • Arms: The Arm tree is often considered to be the pvp tree, although it does have some value for dps. It focuses around wielding the biggest 2 handed weapon one can find and smashing stuff with it.
  • Fury: Fury is the dps spec, easily out damaging both other Warrior spec. It focuses on dual wielding and dealing a flurry of blows.
  • Protection: Protection is all about using a 1 hander and a shield and making yourself as hard to kill as possible. It is the spec for warrior who wish to tank.


Paladin are true hybrid, capable of filling up all 3 roles (Tank, Heal, DPS) depending on their spec. They were heavy armor and are quite resilient no matter which spec they choose, with many ability to save their hide.
Abilities you should know about:
  • Taunt: While there is an actual ability called Taunt, this is refering more to the paladin's abilities that increase his threat, allowing him to be a tank.
  • Plate Armor: Paladin can wear plate armor, they will usually have much higher armor and health than other classes.
  • Divine Shield: One of the better known ability of paladin is their 'bubble' a spell that makes them invincible for a short period of time.
  • Direct Healing: All Paladin can heal. Paladin are master of direct healing but have little Heal over time or 'group' healing spell.
  • Aura: A paladin can have an aura up, said aura helps the paladin and anybody in their party/raid.
  • Blessing: Blessing are a buff a paladin can cast on himself and allies. There's several, but a paladin can only have 1 blessing per target.
  • Cleanse: Paladin can use Cleanse, which remove disease, poison and magic effect from a friendly target.

Talent Trees:

  • Holy: Holy increase the paladin's healing power, turning him into a dedicated healer.
  • Protection: Much like the Warrior's tree of the same name, Protection makes the Paladin harder to kill and make it the tree of choice for would be tanks.
  • Retribution: Retribution increase the paladin's melee potential, giving him brand new attack and much greater offensive power.


Shamans function largely through the use of totems. At various stages, shamans get the use of totems of a new element. Earth totems are largely defensive, fire offensive, water restorative, and air general melee prowess. A shaman can use one of each class of totems at any point by casting it, and it plunks down on the ground and creates a local effect. Totems are attackable and generally die quite easily, but also are immune to AE attacks. Shaman can be powerful dpser or healer.
Abilities you should know about:
  • Totems: Shaman can drop totems, 1 per element (fire, water, air, earth) which allow them to buff themselves and their group.
  • Reincarnation: Shaman can resurrect themselves. However, the ability is on a long cooldown.
  • Chain Lightning and Healing: Shaman's area of effect ability use a bouncing principle - they jump from target to target, losing potency with each jump. Shaman are good healer and their Chain Heal is quite powerful.
  • Heroism/Bloodlust: Another long cooldown ability, shaman can greatly increase the attack and casting speed of their group, significantly increase their damage for a short period of time.
  • Purge: Purge is an offensive dispel, allowing the shaman to remove helpful buff from their enemies.
  • Cure Poison/Disease: Shaman can cure poison and disease and they also have totem who do so.

Talent Trees:

  • Elemental: This spec focus on dealing damage with the shocks and lightning spell.
  • Enhancement: Another dps spec, this one focus into making the shaman a melee machine.
  • Restoration: This is the shaman's healing spec.


Lightly armored heavy damage skirmishers, rogues are designed to be the highest damage melee class in the game. Unlike most other classes, they use Energy instead of mana.
Abilities you should know about:
  • Poisons: Rogues can put poison on their weapon, allowing for a variety of effect or just to increase their damage.
  • Cloak of Shadow: Rogue have an ability that makes near immune to any magic for a few seconds.
  • Heavy Reliance on Cooldown: More so than any other class, Rogues have several powerful ability on long cooldown. This allows rogues to perform really well, but only for short amount of time.
  • Stealth: Rogues can stealth, becoming semi-transparent and hard to detect by both monsters and players. This allows them to sneak pass things and get the drop on enemies.
  • Energy: Rogues uses energy instead of Mana. Energy is always regenerating, allowing rogues to spam abilities fairly quickly.

Talent Trees:

  • Assassination: If you like Daggers and you're a rogue, Assassination provides the only real way to make it work.
  • Combat: This tree is about straight up damage, using the biggest 1 handed weapon available.
  • Subtlety: This tree focus on increasing the Rogue's stealth and survivability. It is considered the pvp tree.


Another true Hybrid. The Druids are defined most by their ability to shape shift, gaining form that make them more powerful in their chosen abilities. Druids are an extremely versatile class and bring a lot of utility to their group.
Abilities you should know about:
  • Shapeshifting: Druids can shapeshift into a Bear (Tank) or a Cat (Melee Dps). Depending on their spec, they can also shift into a Tree (Super Healer) or a Moonking (ranged dps). They can also turn into two non-combat form: a Cheetah (Super fast travel form) and a Seal (Swimming form). A Druid is rarely seen in action outside of his forms.
  • Taunt: While there is an actual ability called Taunt, this is refering more to the druid's abilities that increase his threat, allowing him to be a tank. The druid's taunt ability are usually only usable while in Bear form.
  • Stealth: While in Cat form, Druid can stealth, becoming semi-transparent and hard to detect by both monsters and players. This allows them to sneak pass things and get the drop on enemies.
  • Healing-Over-Time: Druid specialize in healing over time ability, making druid healing much more pre-emptive than other healers.
  • Mark of the Wild: Druid can cast a buff on themselves and their groups that increase all stats, armors and resistance by a small amount.
  • Innervate: This ability can be used on the druid or an ally and greatly increase their mana regeneration for a short period of time.
  • Aura: Each of the 3 specs gets an aura that benefits the entire raid.
  • Battle Rez: Druids are the only class capable of resurrecting an ally while in combat. This ability has a long cooldown.
  • Cure Poison/Disease/Curse: Druid can remove poisons, diseases and curses from their allies and themselves.

Talent Trees:

  • Balance: Balance increase the druid's offensive spell, allowing him to become a full fledge ranged dps. Their moonkin form further increase their power and grant an aura to the party that increase all spell critical by 5%.
  • Feral Combat: Feral is about mastering the cat and bear form. Despite being in the same talent tree however, talent in here have a very clear split - some are for dps and some are for tanking. Feral Druid (Both cat and bear) earn an aura that grant 5% more critical chance to melee attack for the entire group.
  • Restoration: Restoration increase a druid's healing ability. Their tree form grant an aura to the party that increase all healing received by 6%.


Hunters are ranged combat specialists that keep their opponents at bay by siccing tamed beasts on their foes to keep them busy. Hunters can tame *most* creatures of type "beast", and generally there are only stat differences. Some creatures start with abilities which the hunter can learn, and then teach other pets, but he can only have one active pet at a time, (and two others stabled.)
Abilities you should know about:
  • Pets: All hunters have pets. Those pets have their own abilities and help the hunter dps.
  • Hunter's Mark: Hunter can put a debuff on a target that put a big red arrow on their head and increase damage done by everybody on it.
  • Traps: Hunters have a variety of traps that can be used to deal damage or control their targets.
  • Feign Death: Hunters can appear to be dead. This get them out of combat and allow them to survive a potential disastrous situation.

Talent Trees:

  • Beast Mastery: This tree increase the power of the hunter's pet.
  • Marksmanship: This tree increase the power of the hunter's ranged attack.
  • Survival: This tree increase the power of the hunter's ranged attack as well, however where marksman is steady damage, Survival is about dealing damage in big bursts.


Lightly armored spell caster, Priests are some of the strongest healer in the game and are well known for their abilities to cast a variety of defensive spell on their allies. Some priest however, turn to a darker path and deal damage with shadow magic.
Abilities you should know about:
  • Power Word Shield: Priest can cast defensive shield over a target, the shield absorb damage for the player up to a certain amount.
  • Power Word Fortitude: Priest have a buff that increase entire group's total health.
  • Varied Healing: Priest have no real specialty to their healing - they have solid direct heal, a handful of HoT and area effects.
  • Shadow Damage: A priest who decides to dps will do so with shadow damage, shadow priest bring many utility buff to their raid.
  • Dispel: Dispel is a unique ability in as such that it can be used both on your allies and enemies. It removes magical debuff from your allies and magical buff from your enemies.

Talent Trees:

  • Discipline: This tree focus on making the priests and his allies harder to kill. It is often used for pvp because of that.
  • Holy: This tree is about making the priest a better healer.
  • Shadow: This tree is used by priest who wish to dps instead of heal.


Warlocks are damage casters who can specialize in dealing direct damage, damage over time or damage through their pets. Additionally, warlocks have utility de-buffs and, most importantly, demon pets. There are 7 different types of pets, Imp, Voidwalker, Succubus, Felhunter, Doomguard, Felguard and Infernal, each with different function. Warlock also need Soul Shards for some of their spells, which are generated from absorbing the souls of dying targets.
Abilities you should know about:
  • Pets: Much like Hunters, will always have a pet. Their pet are demons and provide various buff and utility on top of dealing damage.
  • Healthstone: Warlocks can create Healthstone which they can give to other member of their group as well as use themselves. Those items are consumable which restore health.
  • Soulstone: Warlocks can put soulstone on themselves or an ally, a soulstone allows for instant resurrection upon being killed.
  • Summoning: Warlocks can summon allies to themselves. This can be a great help when trying to get a group together
  • Area of Effect Spell: Warlocks have a wide variety of area effect spells and can be extremely useful to clear out a large group of mobs.
  • Curses: Warlocks can use curse to deal damage or to weaken their target.

Talent Trees:

  • Affliction: This tree increases the damage of the warlock's damage over time spells.
  • Demonology: This tree increases the power and versatility of the warlock's pet.
  • Destruction: This tree increases the direct damage spell of the warlock.


Mages make stuff go boom. They also summon food/drink, teleport, and "sheep" stuff. But mostly they just make stuff go boom.
Abilities you should know about:
  • Polymorph: Mage can turn humanoids and beasts into an harmless critter that wander around... until it is attacked.
  • Portals and Teleport: Mages can teleport and open portals to key cities, greatly shortening their travel distance.
  • Food and Drinks: Mage can create food and drink for themselves and their group.
  • Arcane Intellect: Much like priests who have a buff that increase total health, mages have a buff that increase intellect, thus increasing total mana and chance to score critical hit with spells.
  • Area of Effect Spell: Mages have a wide variety of area effect spells and can be extremely useful to clear out a large group of mobs.
  • Remove Curse: Mages can removes curses from themselves and their allies.

Talent Trees:

  • Arcane: This tree increase the mage's arcane damage. It also increase the potency of many of the mage's utility spell.
  • Fire: Fire is all about big damage and huge numbers. There's little subtlety or utility to this tree.
  • Frost: Frost will greatly increase your survivability as well as your ability to control target... at the cost of some damage.

Death Knight

As the newest class with the expansion, Death Knight are frighteningly popular at end game. They can be dps or tanks and control undead minions.
Abilities you should know about:
  • Taunt: While there is an actual ability called Taunt, this is refering more to the Death Knight's abilities that increase his threat, allowing him to be a tank.
  • Plate Armor: Death Knight can wear plate armor, they will usually have much higher armor and health than other classes.
  • Raise Dead/Ally: Death Knight can raise the dead to fight alongside them. They also have an ability that allow them to raise a fallen player as ghoul to keep fighting for a short period of time.
  • Disease: A lot of the Death Knight's mechanism are about playing with the disease debuff they can apply.
  • Rune and Runic Power: Death Knight do not use Mana, they use Runes and Runic Power. Runes are each on their own cooldown, and given runic power when used. Runic power can be used to fuel certain abilities.

Talent Trees:

  • Blood: Blood focus on the Death Knight's physical attack and is probably their highest single target dps spec.
  • Frost: Frost is often considered the tanking spec, even thought it can still be used for dps. It increase a Death Knight's frost based ability obviously.
  • Unholy: Unholy increase the death knight's shadow damage and disease as well as give them much greater control over their ghoul. An Unholy Death Knight's ghoul is a real pet, much like a hunter's or warlock's.

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This page last modified 2009-05-30 12:44:33.