In short, making those points too easy to take is just as bad as making them too hard to take; they're trying to hit the middle ground, and make sure that the cost, in terms of what you give up in your primary tree, is commensurate with the benefit -- not too expensive, not too cheap.
While I understand this chain of thought, it still does not mean its necessary (or acceptable) to make the offtree force people to choose between utterly useless talents for their spec and justify it because it 'shouldnt be painless'. Theres other ways to make it 'not the superior option' as you say, without resorting to feeding us useless talents we dont want.
I was under the impression this type of design (shallow points in trees useful for anyone) is exactly what Blizzard has been aiming to achieve. The first few tiers of each tree now seem almost custom designed to have generic any-spec-useful talents by design, to allow people to invest in "+20" builds without being penalised in this regard - right down to talents like impact now affecting all spells. Thus, current 2-wasted-point examples im pointing out, seem like genuine oversights rather than intentional design I think. I really dont think Blizzard designed the trees and thought "Well fire/acane mages wanting to put points in frost will have to pickup improved frostbolt/frost warding to get to tier 2 - but thats OK - the 2 wasted points is punishment for not putting points in their mainspec tree instead"
The main examples (as prior mentioned)
- A arcane/fire mage's first 5 points in a frost tree, 2 are wasted. Ice Floes is acceptable, but only 3 points - the other 2 points (Improved frostbolt, frost warding) are not.
- A arcane/frost mages first 15 points in the fire tree, 2 are wasted. (Actually only 1 if your arcane, because its acceptable to pickup Pyro when you have POM)
- A frost/fires first 5 points in the arcane tree. This is debatable whether 0 or up to all 5 are wasted, but given that IAE is very important regardless of spec, the subtlety talent can be considered worth it for any spec. Arcane focus doesnt sit well with me, however. (Its nice when fire mages tank Spellsteal bosses, but what else?)
Wasted talent points should never
be acceptable, even if its only 2. Talent trees must cater for "+20" specs in a manner that keeps this statement true. Dont think that to make a talent 'useful', it needs to be fabulously strong either. Improved Fireblast might not be the best use of talent points for a frost mage (picking up some of the fire tree) in raids, yet its still useful to some degree and not truly wasted like in the Frost Warding/Improved frostbolt case. If blizzard really does like the frost warding talent, why not alter it into a Armor Warding talent and provide a small benefit to mage armor too. Wham, suddenly the (small) extra passive regen has found a use for your friendly fire/arcane mages and the points have a genuine use again. Theres so many possible ways to move/alter talents to fix the wasted points issue, it just seems stupid to keep them as is.
But if there was some ZOMG raiding talent in Tier 1 fire or arcane. If you put some low hanging fruit that is crazy good in Tier1 of the other trees
Nobody is really saying there should be a talent of this nature, but rather that IF you decide to go into a +20 spec (lets say, to pickup imp scorch to help your raid utility) - you wont be penalised so harsh for it, with regards to wasted talents. Its not about making the offtree so good its the obviously better choice than a +71 spec, its about making the offtree not punish people who decide to go the +51,+20 route for whatever reason. A good example is improved fireblast. Its not really the best use of talent points to a full frost mage, but a frost mage whos putting 18 points in fire can still happily take them and feel they have a genuine use. Its certainly not crazy good or overpowered, but its fine.
Which spec is 'better' should still be a matter of personal choice and playstyle. It just however seems that some people have a different stance on this topic, which is fine too.
4) A personal one here, it's now approaching the 2nd expansion, I believe we're past the point of having to take wasted talent points for a spec that will have a popular and clear purpose i.e. Raiding, PvP
I would consider any talent that adds a zero or trivial advantage in the intended area of play to wasted.
I couldn't have said it better myself. Pretty much nails my sentiment on the topic.