I try to avoid writing more than one long post every day, but I wanted to start organizing my thoughts on this one early. So, this is likely a topic that I’ll post on again sometime in the next few days. This afternoon, Ghostcrawler came to the healing forums and actually started a thread about tree form. The opening of his message says:
This is an open question to the community. Is druid Tree of Life form fun?
The question applies to both PvP and PvE, so it would be helpful to provide for which part of the game your answer applies.
I have a very hard time answering this question. Most people will easily answer “yes, of course tree form is fun!” However, I have a really hard time coming to this conclusion. I need to tell a story first, and fill in a little bit of tree form history for those players that are new to this class. If you want to skip ahead, I’m happy to say that I currently think that tree form is fun for me, but that if you asked me not that long ago what I thought, I would have told you that being in tree form made me the most unhappy druid in the world.
When I was a young druid…
When the original World of Warcraft came out, druids had 4 shapeshift forms: Bear, cat, travel (cheetah), and aquatic (sealion) forms. The huge druid revamp in patch 1.8 brought us moonkin form (or, as it was originally introduced to us: Moonlit flesh angler form – who else remembers the botched translation?!?).
In late alpha testing for Burning Crusade, I was introduced to tree form. It looked JUST like the purple trees in Darnassus, only we weren’t purple. It also looked just like the treant summons that were given to moonkin, only our leaves weren’t the same color. The “feature” that came with this form was about a 50% movement speed debuff, I couldn’t drink water or take potions in the form. So, the first time I ran an instance in tree form, I would have to shift out of the form between every pull, drink, and then run to catch up with the rest of my group outside of tree form, and then lose a huge chunk of mana when I shifted back into tree form. At this point, I didn’t even have lifebloom yet. We didn’t even get a dance or other emotes until much later in testing. I hated tree form with every inch of my being, and spent all of Beta for Burning Crusade trying to save my beloved healing spec – but by the time BC went live, it still wasn’t in a condition that I could enjoy.
I worked out a way to NOT have to pick up tree form when BC went live: Restokin spec. I worked out a spec where I could pick up points in the balance tree & the resto tree to buff my Healing touch & regrowth spells, to make tree form healing unnecessary for me. I tested this spec on the Beta server before BC went live, and I healed Karazhan for months after BC was on the live server as a moonkin/healing hybrid, where I would switch back and forth between damage and healing in a hybrid role (so fights like Curator that required heavy DPS, I’d go moonkin – and fights with higher healing requirements, I’d go healing). It was my own personal version of a dualspec, and I got to avoid the one thing I hated most in the game: Tree form.
So, when I tell you that I cried and quit a guild within weeks of the first time they made me spec into tree form (around the time that we started SSC & TK, and figured out that restokin hybrid was out), you really shouldn’t be surprised. I tried on multiple occasions to find a place for myself as a healing druid that hated tree form, and that was part of the reason why I transferred servers & changed guilds multiple times during Burning Crusade. This is also the point in time when I quit my druid altogether, and rolled a shaman. I healed with my shaman and I loved spamming chain heal WAY more than I enjoyed failing at lifebloom rolling in tree form. I didn’t completely give up on my druid, since within a few months of switching to my shaman for raiding, the Alpha & Beta testing for Wrath of the Litch King started.
Wrath of the Beta Tree – It got better!
So, at this point, I’m sure that most of you think I’m completely insane. How could one of the most well known restoration druids hate tree form through all of Burning Cruasde? More importantly, when (and WHY) did I go back to tree form after just telling people how much I hated it in Burning Crusade?
I worked really hard during my second chance to give Blizzard feedback on tree form: Alpha & Beta for Wrath of the Litch King. At this point, there wasn’t a movement speed debuff, we could drink & take pots in forms. At some point, we even got to cast direct heals in tree form (for a while, I was pretty sure they were going to give us Nourish, but force us to shift out of tree form to cast it). They toned down lifebloom, but beefed up our other spells, and gave us Wild Growth, our first useful AOE heal (lol tranquility).
It turns out that it wasn’t tree form I hated, but it was being forced to have lifebloom 3x rolling accounting for 75% (or more) of my healing done in a form that looked like a tree that I really hated in PvE. I started to enjoy healing in tree form with Regrowth, rejuv, and some lifebloom (with much less of an emphasis on lifebloom). There were also promises of dualspecs (one of the first announcements GC made about dualspecs was in one of my threads, on the Beta server). When WotLK went live, I leveled up my druid and not my shaman. I was back to being Lissanna again, and I was back to the class that I loved the most, and I was still back to healing on my druid (a role I enjoy in raids).
Tree form is fun now in PVE raids.
I do have fun as a tree form druid now for raiding healing. With dual specs, I can have both a moonkin spec and a tree spec. So, I can solo outside of raids as a balance druid, where I don’t have to heal things to death. It’s not that tree form changed all that much, but druid healing style got a LOT better in WotLK. I can fill any role in raids, and I’m not pigeon-holed to livebloom tank spamming anymore. I have a ton of diffrent tools. I’m not forced to use only 2 of my buttons. I have many different strategies I can use. Ulduar is interesting and fun for resto druid healers. I feel generally balanced with the other healing classes, even though I never top the meters in our raids, I’m usually not last, either. I can tank heal (and I enjoy it now) using a mix of HOT and direct heals. I posted a few days ago about what I thought made healing interesting. In the article, one of the things I talked about when defining intersting was that there were a variety of spells to cast. This is one of the points that makes tree form fun for me in PvE.
The one major improvement I would like to see now, that would make tree form more fun, is the idea of having new and/or customizable graphic options (which I have commented on several times on my blog!). At this point, the most boring part of being a tree is that we all look the same. While all the other classes get cool set graphics, it doesn’t really matter what my gear looks like, since all tree form druids look exactly the same. Honestly, graphic form coloring is the only current complaint I have about being a resto tree druid. After all the hate I had for the spec in BC, what the form looks like is the only current complaint I have.
Healing as a druid is what makes restoration fun in PvE. We could do it without tree form and it wouldn’t really matter. As long as healing as a druid is fun, it doesn’t really matter if we have a shapeshifting form to do it in. It’s our other spells (and how they interact with eachother) that makes druid healing either fun or not. Fun is also very much a matter of personal oppinion. I’m sure that 90% of the people reading this post disagree with just about everything I said about healing during Burning Crusade. A lot of druids had fun healing in BC as a tree druid. It just wasn’t for me back then. I bet half of those people also dislike the fact that lifebloom rolling spam is now discouraged.