Saturday, April 10, 2010

Deforestation into Homogenization

Keeva's reaction to class changes plus an overview.

My reaction to the ToL Cooldown
Point number one: To decide something should be a cooldown without even knowing what it can do is rather stupid. What the cooldown would be should go hand in hand with the decision to make it a cooldown. Fundamental change to a class standard should not be done blindly; the announcement was too early and the details too vague.

Point number two: One of the themes of Cataclysm has been announced to be mana conservation. Therefore, a healer should have absolutely no desire towards DPSing during a fight and reducing their precious mana. The idea that Restoration Druids are losing "too much" by being locked out of damage spells is ridiculous in alignment with their overall change.

Point number three: If the cooldown becomes a simple healing boost, as a mentioned option (that would arguably be easiest to implement), the cooldown will become rather useless. Healing-boost/Spellpower-boost cooldowns do not help with HoT-based healing over much; there is a reason Druids do not have an Avenging Wrath type cooldown nor do they use Spellpower-increasing-cooldown trinkets. If the cooldown is somewhere in this category, it will overall be useless to anyone who is not Nourish-spamming.

Point number four: Restoration Druids are not the singular Druid form which cannot see their armor, yet it is the one singled out to force into showcasing the armor. I have never been concerned with armor aesthetics while in combat, and I spend a large amount of time outside a raid instance in caster form, riding mounts, running around Dalaran, etc. I have plenty of time to view my green-and-brown attire at that point in time and do not care for it within the contexts of a raid. My mind is focused on other things.

Point number five: Shapeshifting for a Restoration Druid is no more clunky or unusable than other forms. Auto-shapeshift saw to the streamlining of shifting out if needed to cast a cyclone or other non-Resto skill. We are not even one GCD away from using an offensive maneuver, and one GCD of a switch back to Tree Form (which should not kill anyone in the vast majority of cases). Not having to switch into Cat or Bear form in order to escape snares, but rather to switch out of Tree Form into caster, and still be able to heal during this, is rather essential.

Point number six: Removal of Tree of Life form will make Druids into a more homogenized caster. Many people rolled a Druid to play in and out of forms; it is the iconic class ability. Shamans have Totems, Paladins have Auras, Druids have Forms. Remove the form, and we are just another caster. Not even "just another caster," we are less than the other Hybrids.

Point number seven: Tree Form is not broken in any way, other than perhaps some arguments against Druids in PvP. WotLK finally brought Tree of Life into a usable, useful, dynamic talent and ability. It has even been said by Ghost Crawler himself; Restoration Druids are in a good place right now, we have found our niche. Taking away an iconic and core part of our playstyle is not a way to encourage our continued effectiveness.

Closing statement: I am reserving full and final judgment until they announce what the cooldown will be, but at this point I am staunchly against the homogenization and deflowering of the Druid class. I feel I will be losing a lot of constant utility for something entirely situational (that is the point of a cooldown, to be situational) and find the reasoning behind the change (so Restos can still DPS, while managing our mana even more closely than before, and so we can see our armor while still no other Druid can) to be ridiculous and empty. The very fact that it has been decided it will be a cooldown with no obvious plan as to how or what it will do furthers my stance against it; the decision should come hand-in-hand with a function, not before. Druids are made to be in Forms; it is iconic. If I did not want to be in a Form, I would have levelled my Priest or made my Paladin my main.

I will respond to comments. I will not be talking about this or any other Druid Cataclysm change any more in blog posts until either Beta opens or until they announce the type of cooldown this will be.


Awlbiste said...

Point number six is the one I really feel. Although I don't play currently, I was thinking of coming back for Cataclysm. No, this change won't stop me playing my Druid (as no change since Vanilla ever has) but I feel very closely tied to my forms as a Druid, whichever spec I play. If they decided to take Moonkin form away from balance, that would be just as lame.

I was extremely happy to get Tree as a resto originally. I felt that resto was the only spec that had no form (after Moonkin was introduced about a year in) and I always felt a little bit sad about that.

Brokentree said...

What I'd like to do is to heal in tree form and then have a cooldown to turn into a bigger tree.

Bell said...

@Awlbiste - with Grad School coming up, I'm going to seriously start weighing the pros and cons of continued playing, and this could be a tipping point in the "cons scale." Wouldn't be my sole decider, but would probably factor in somewhere.

@Brokentree - Yes, that would be awesome.

Pike said...

I am with Awlbiste... when I think of my druid, I think of a TREE. Not a night elf/tauren. Not that I have anything against either of those races, but it's not "who that character is". When I made my Cutesey WarCraft avatar for my main druid, it was a Cutesey Tree Form.

As another "I was thinking of coming back for Cataclysm" person, this is a tip in the direction of NOT making druid my new main :/ I know it's petty, but... it's the whole reason I rolled a druid rather than another healing class, when I wanted to make a healer.

Holding out hope now for the Minor Glyph that was mentioned by GC as a possibility. Then maybe we can have the best of both worlds...

Bell said...

@Pike - I see the glyph as a band-aid, really. It's not a form. It's not going to supply the same shifting utility or dynamics as before. It's a cosmetic band-aid. :\

Hana said...

I like the idea of just turning into a bigger tree if a cooldown is needed. ^_^

Point #1 bothers me the most, because it sounds like they don't know what the solution will be so they're addressing a problem that several members of the resto community don't even care about.

And it's definitely weird that only restos would be singled out to show armor since it applies to all druids, and most druids are particular about what their favorite spec is.

I'm hoping for the minor glyph as well for my resto alt. I want some tree dancing. :(

Bell said...

@Hana - I agree about point number one. Single thing that irritated me the most is deciding to make it a cooldown without knowing what cooldown.

And like I said to Pike, I don't want the concession of a minor glyph. It's just a band-aid. Having a Form is a real utility that I do not want to lose.

Pike said...

@ Bell - I agree it's a band-aid, but I guess I'd rather have a band-aid than nothing. (I mean, I'd rather keep ToL form as-is above all else obviously, >_> but if it's not gonna be that way, then...)

Also, I like Brokentree's idea. /cough

Kenn said...

Agree. Don't take away my tree form. If group is doing so poorly that they need my weak resto dps, then they probably need my healing more. If they're doing so good that I'm bored enough to dps, then they don't need my tree aura.

I can think of one situation recently where the raid was served by me dropping form, and that was when I was the only druid available to cyclone Lady Deathwhisper's mc'd player.

Animagis said...

I'll bite and play devil's advocate here.

Examine the situation of the status quo:

We have a talent point that increases our healing when we shift into a different graphical model.

That's it.

The run speed debuff was removed, leaving Tree form as a simple aesthetic.

Now if this change gives us the bonus base healing that ToL already gives us, but simply removes the graphical change of model and removes the need for that "single GCD away" from other class abilities, doesn't that lead to ask what point ToL (as it currently stands) has beyond a simple different modelt to stare at?

It does nothing to alter the way we cast spells outside the percentage modifier which could be provided by a simple talent or simply baked into our heals from the start.

It's a form WITHOUT a dynamic (as you call it) except the appearance of a treant.

With that being the case, why (besides it wasting a minor glyph slot that could be used for something else) would a minor glyph for those who wish to retain that model be a band-aid?

I fail to see what type of dynamic we're losing outside what we look like while healing.

Does that mean I like the change?

No, I actually don't.

But I'm not meshing with the argument you present either.

Bell said...

@Kenn - exactly

@Animagus - Tree Form is not a simple aesthetic.

1) Polymorph Immunity - it is nice to have one or two healers in a raid who never need dispelled when it comes to Critter/Poly/Ooze mechanics. If this change is made live Druids will have to shift in and out of another form (probably cat or bear) in order to break a Polymorph, while no other spec of Druid will have to.

2) ToL Aura - Yes, this mechanic can be transferred to the regular caster model, but so could the Feral or Balance Auras. Why just Tree?

3) Shifting out and still being able to heal - Mechanics such as Frostbolts on Lady Deathwhisper or Dreamwalker that make it harder to kite ghosts or pop orbs (respectively) are more manageable where you have a form to jump to or from and still be able to accomplish your actual goal - i.e. healing. Shift from Tree to Caster and yes you have a slight heal loss, but you don't break stride as much as Caster to Cat.

4) All forms could be removed - If you get down to it, you could simply take the mechanics of Moonkin, Bear, Cat, and Tree, remove the Forms and add the bonuses to the Caster form based on Talents. It doesn't mean you should; it would make the Druid class extremely lack luster and boring, in my opinion.

Animagis said...

Let me phrase it another way:

Can you Swipe in Caster form?

Can you Mangle outside of Cat?

You do have a point when it comes to Moonkin, it too is simply a passive aura and armor increase that could be a simple talented change.

Blizzard decided that Tree Form did not have a clear enough purpose to be a separate form and that's a decision I can respect based on the reasoning I've already used. Why they aren't applying the same to Moonkin (or Shadow Form for that matter) is a good question, but, in the end, a separate argument.

Blizzard gave us Resto druids two expansions over which to develop an affinity and identity with our bark and roots. Moving away from that now is a unfair of them, in my opinion, to those who (as they have acknowledged themselves) chose and love the Druid class based on that identity. That's an argument I can get behind.

But arguing that losing the form will have an adverse effect on the core gameplay of the class is a stretch, especially if they make the concession of a minor glyph in order to retain some of that identity.

Animagis said...

"Can you Mangle outside of Cat?"

That should have read "in Caster".

Bell said...

@Animagis - I find shifting to be an invaluable part of my ability to be an effective and versatile healer. Having two caster forms, healing and caster, is extremely helpful within the context of fights like Lady Deathwhisper, Faction Champs, and Dreamwalker, to name a few. I do not want to lose this tool in my kit to have to go into cat or bear when I need to shift.

Anonymous said...

It's kind of funny that I hadn't thought of the loss of the ability to switch in and out form without loosing the ability to heal entirely even though I use it alot.
I never really felt any kind of distaste for the tree of life form change (I'm more annoyed about blizz plan to not give us a new spell).
But after I read you're post I can't help but to see the loss of our tree form ridiculous and a nerf.

Anonymous said...

"Can you Swipe in Caster form?"

"Can you Mangle outside of Cat?"

No, but if I can drink a potion as a bear or warstomp with my awesome cheetah-hooves in the name of class equity, why can't I just cast CC or offensive as a tree if the developers feel I'm restricted by treeform?

Siobhann said...

Bell, that's the whole point. There will no longer be a GCD in something like Deathwhisper or Saurfang when we need to CC. We get full healing PLUS access to CC and damaging spells. We will finally be on an even footing with shaman, pallies, and priests, instead of having to choose between equal healing or gimped healing and access to all our tools.

All the people complaining about MSS and tree aura don't get it. Blizz will make up for the changes to make us even in caster form, probably in deep resto talents.

The only thing we lose is PvP polymorph immunity, but we can't be banished. We can still break poly in one GCD by shifting to feral anyway so that's not even game-breaking. In return, we get full power healing and roots/cyclones at the same time. I always thought they did tree for PvP balance anyway.

I will be glad to be rid of the ugly, frowning form and it's patently unfair limitations.

Bell said...

@Siobhann - I like limitations. They make things dynamic and interesting. There is no GCD for CCing, just switching back, and you know it has never killed anyone for me, not even on Heroic Deathwhisper.

Having to make choices is interesting. Tree of Life is interesting. My gear? Looks like dog crap, and I see it in Dalaran enough. I find the ability to shift in and out of forms to remove snares, without losing my ability to heal (as you would if you shifted from caster to cat or bear) to be a bonus over other healers.

And yeah, you can make ToL forms abilities intrinsic to the caster form, but you could do that with Shadowform, with Moonkin. Heck, make Feral abilities available in caster and you can do it for the others!

I don't want to be just another caster. I want a form.

Unknown said...

The possibility of not having to be in TOL form while healing is the best druid update in the last 2-3 years. I can’t believe people are QQing about this – but I guess there must always be QQ even if the changes reflect what the vast majority has been wanting, nay, begging for for years.

I might even buy Cataclysm if this goes live. :)

Anonymous said...

If all we're doing is QQing about the cosmetic change fine. I guess I'll learn to live with it if it goes through.

What is making me nervous is this talk of finally being able to add some DPS. Huh? DPS? The last time my deeps was needed was back in Mara. If you need resto druid damage to get your group through quit now.

I rolled a healer to heal. If I need to smash something I can easily log onto my warrior or death knight and really go to town with the numbers. Oi.

And ya know, as dorky as the tree form is, it is sort of cool to pop into a random group and reassure them that you are specced deep into resto by waggling your branches.

David G said...

I started reading this blog because it was interesting and had some interesting commentary on healing in wow. With the haste debacle and now this I'm disappointed in the fact that it's moved into the realm of whining about class changes.

First, the changes are all super early, there's no reason to get upset about anything yet.

Second, you've completely ignored the pvp aspect of the game. Like it or not, it's still there and always will be. Please don't fuss about it, they're trying to balance it but still let us kill each other.

Third, you're assuming that a SP boost will not help you. Considering how they're looking at restructuring how the game is played, especially for healers, I don't think you can make that assumtion anymore.

Bell said...

@Harri - I disagree this is "QQ;" if I was simply whining "I just don't like it" then maybe. However, both sides of the argument deserve their opinions, and I did state that I was holding off final judgment until they announce how the cooldown will work. And "vast majority" is a little skewed - even GC said the split was somewhere around 50/50, though nobody knows the real amount.

@Anonymous - To me it's not just cosmetic, shapeshifting in and out of two forms (caster and Tree) is a real tool for us. As well, it's something that sets us apart from other casters. If I wanted to be a NElf all the time, I'd roll Priest. I know at least a few people dismayed about now having to see NElf casting animations and wishing fervently that the transfer to Worgen would be available right away (obviously not really wishing to see their caster model as is, now).

@Skytso - Sorry you feel that way, but commenting on class changes, yay or nay, is a part of WoW blogging. It's pretty amusing to me that you find the haste article such a "debacle," actually, when I've already made it clear it was wrong. And yes, I promised an update, but real life got in the way. Oh well.

If you notice I am not upset, there is very little name-calling. And all the "name-calling" there is, is towards the fact that they made it a cooldown without a plan. That seems highly irresponsible, to create a direction for the ToL form without a path for it to travel, i.e. why I called it "stupid."

Second, I did not forget PvP. I played Resto as PvP in BC and WotLK, one where you never spec'd ToL form and one where I was popping in and out of the form. And no, I was not very good at it. However, I found form-shifting in and out to be dynamic and interesting and part of learning the style. I found no problem with having to figure out what choice to make.

With how we've been stated to be in a nice "niche," with how GC himself talked about a simple healing boost being bad for the idea of HoTs (which is consistency), at this point in time, a simple healing boost would not be very effective for the class. I never stated this was the way they were going (they haven't even told us, see point number on), that it would be largely useless for our current "niche."

You are welcome to stop reading this blog at any time if you feel the quality of the information has gone down.

Missing said...

I really liked tree form, but it's not the worst change ever. In fact, I think in a few months everyone will wonder why there was such a fuss about this. Blizzards doesn't set out to make bad changes, because they want all us druids to keep playing.

Many people feel that shapeshifting is "what makes a druid a druid," but I have to respectfully disagree. Our spells are still green, we still love nature, etc. What, in my opinion, REALLY makes a druid healer a druid healer is the use of HoTs, which we're still pretty big on. It is also important to note that back in the days when Healing Touch was still on our cast bars (pre-BC) there was no Tree Form.


You are COMPLETELY right about this being a bad announcement. "We're, uhhhh, gonna give you some sort of cooldown after we take away ur leaves, lol. We'll no soon wut it is."

It seems clear they don't really know what they're doing with druids-- or at least don't want to tell us yet. There were no specifics on any of the new talents that were announced, like the Regrowth talent.

I'll let the vagueness slide, but what really bothers me is the hundreds of forum post from people who didn't understand that Blizzard was removing Tree Form, but making our heals better to compensate. In addition to this we are getting a new cooldown. Blizzard really made it sound in the announcement like they were removing Tree Form and leaving the rest alone... this sparked a lot of confusion that led to GC repeating himself like 100 times. They could have articulated the change better so that it sounds like the good change I think it's going to be.

(or just announced it early like blood tanking)

The sadness of losing tree form, coupled with the lack of NEW utility made for a pretty depressing announcement.

Dorgol said...

Blizzard directly compares the new ToL design to the Metamorphosis ability for Warlocks.

I've played a Demonology Warlock since release - even in the days of Soul Link being a 30 second spell instead of an aura. We're talking pre-Death Coil here.

I love Metamorphosis because it looks awesome and confirms that I am truly invested into the demonic arts of my class. That said, I don't click Meta. I have it keybound to my trinkets so that I can get the most of the ability.

I fear the same thing will happen with ToL. It will literally become a trinket-with-a-nifty-graphic.

I had already considered dropping Resto from my Druid (I prefer Feral overall) and the removal of perma-Tree effectively makes that decision for me.

Bell said...

@Parker - GC already said that even if the community had been overwhelmingly against it they'd still do it, so I'm not sure entirely what we're accomplishing. Either way, I'm going to state exactly why I dislike this change. Tree Form hasn't always been around, it's true. But I like that it is. I want Forms just like I wouldn't want to lose Auras on my Paladin or Totems on my Shaman.

@Dorgol - Yeah. I want to be a Tree, not a Trinket. :\

PO'ed Tree said...

The thing that is horrible about this is that there is no need to do it. It's purely arbitrary because they feel like Trees should show off their armor (!?)

Dammit-we want to show that we're a tree!

My two 80's are a DK and a druid and the announced changes have me questioning whether or not I'll even buy Cat and resub....

1) If you don't have the patience and infrastructure to stick with an intentionally designed mechanic (DK inter-tree flexibility) change it prior to making it work for 1.5 years and then saying that you can't make it work anymore.

2) *Life rule that applies to WoW* Don't EVER create a big fight over something with little benefit. Why would they mess with our bark when nobody asked for it? Arbitrary change is a terrible reason to create conflict.

I agree-if you want to give us a boost on a CD, just go ahead and make us a bigger tree, or a tree that radiates light or something like that-don't take away the tree so that we can be a tree for 15 seconds of every 2 minutes, talented to 15 seconds of every one minute (speculation).

Missing said...


I rolled druid because I saw this fun looking tree jumping around Kara throwing its glowing green hands in the air.

"OMG, I want to do that!" - me as a fresh 70 warlock

Back then I knew I wanted to switch to healing, and the more research I did on druid healing, the more I liked it. I ENJOYED the thought of giving up offensive utility to heal well, because I didn't want to be doing anything else. I still thought being a tree was awesome when there was a movement penalty.

However, I've grown - pun intended :) - to like more than just looking like a tree; I love the way we heal. I don't doubt that we will see all the utility we gained from being a tree moved elsewhere in out talent tree.

GC is right- increasingly Tree Form is becoming nothing more than a talent point spent on artwork. So, my favorite part about being a tree (the sacrifice of offensive ability), has been disappearing for a while now.

I'm all for letting people who really want to keep that form do it... it really seems a shame they don't just make the new cooldown a spell that makes you a bigger, greener tree. I mean, I don't know of anyone that didn't play resto JUST because they hated the form, but ever since the change I've seen plenty of people who are upset over it.

The worst thing is that I don't think ANYONE saw this coming. I was expecting Barkskin for party members, better Lifeblooms, more usefull Healing Touch... after the priest changes I wanted to see the old Nature's Grasp turned into a resto spell that was the same is the super cool "Life Grip."

I hope we see a lot more changes in the beta... and after reading the forums is seems it would be for the best if GC made good on his *sort-of* hint at a tree-costume glyph.

Collin said...

You say treeform is iconic? How about a bit of iconoclasm?

Anonymous said...

I like this change because it has druids shapeshifting more. Not being shapeshifted, but actually shifting. Ghostwalker has said in the past that he wants druids to be changing around during fights, not just plonking into your best form before a fight and staying there forever.

By the way, everyone who says they don't shift at all right now, you are missing out on a lot of potential contribution. At the very least, hotkey cyclone.


Jen said...

I know I'm late to the party, but: I like DRUID healing: the HoTs, the short cast times, the ability to bounce and run and bounce some more while still being useful.

So no, I could NOT just "roll a priest" if I wanted to see my armor. That argument doesn't hold any water. I like being a druid healer, and tree form is not the only thing that makes as special. As noted in so many places, the tree form doesn't actually do anything to alter our healing style, so removing it doesn't make us less druidy.

I hope they make ToL a toggle or a glyph to keep everyone happy, but I'll probably spend most of my time in caster form. As soon as Cata hits and I find an upgrade for my butt-ugly T10 chest, that is.