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Revisiting some old ideas
B is absurdly slow to load, and a sprite map would be annoying to keep up to date. B also is super easy to bug out just by having your mouse in the menu area while scrolling through, at least on my current workstation.
Images might be easier to recognize, but they aren't necessarily easier to remember. I'm pretty sure people think "blacksmithing", not "that skill with the hammer making a bang on the anvil" (implying I also think the icons on A aren't very useful). Images are not browser searchable. At the very least, the alt text must be changed on images to be more navigation friendly for screen readers. B is not easy to read, because you have to continually move and hover to actually have anything to read. I would also say "click this icon for the page on ___" adds no value. Maybe a skill summary would be nicer there, but also much more difficult.
General critique: I think it would be better if the skill categories were linked.