GC asks: "Is druid tree form fun?"

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.

11 Comments

  1. Posted May 21, 2009 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    When they first brought in the BC specs at the end of Vanilla WoW, tree form was god awful. I had so little respect for it that I spent all of karazhan as a Feral/Resto hybrid. And then we got to Gruul…

    I decided to try tree form out again, and my reaction to it at that time was a lot like your reaction to it with WOTLK, I loved it! It was fantastic, and the healing I could do with it was far superior to what I could do without it. I will give the caveat that it was also around this time that I “learned to love the bloom”, a spell that I neglected for quite awhile.

    I was fortunate in that the only fight we ever rolled LBs for was Void Reaver and M. Sharaz. I guess the fact that I made the healing assignments may have had something to do with that. I hate pigeonholes, and I very much want our players to have fun =)

    I do find that I still love ToL and Druid healing, but in all honesty, in looking over our parses for the last couple of weeks, I feel a lot like I’ve become a rejuv bot for the raid…and I’m not sure I’m particualrly happy about it. I guess if I think about it, I suppose rejuv is “the new lifebloom”, and it is somewhat true…Where 40%+ of my healing was LB in TBC, it’s now just rejuv instead.

    But, all in all I do agree with you! I still have a ton of fun healing on my druid, and I am happy with ToL!

  2. Posted May 21, 2009 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t turned into a rejuv-bot yet. I keep getting myself put on tank healing so I can use more of my spells, even if that means I don’t top the healing meters.

  3. Homu
    Posted May 22, 2009 at 2:13 am | Permalink

    I think you missed the intention of GC’s question there. I believe the topic is only treeform itself, not the whole state of druid healing.

    In BC there were a whole bunch of benefits to healing while being in treeform and the most memorable slower walking speed to offset these a bit.

    Now all we get is the 6% raidbuff, a bunch of spellpower from spirit and the increased armor. And we get locked out of all offensive spells, cyclone, roots etc..

    Whenever some Ulduar fight/hardmode calls for the occasional moonfire or even a bit of wrath spam I feel that healing priest xy has it easier to put up their dot while not being “punished” for the use of offensive spells as a healer.

    Even in the BG PvP that I take part in I hardly ever use the form, it only makes me a target, while I can’t fight back, only heal back. ;)

    So in conclusion:

    I like the concept of a healing FORM, something only resto druids have, that makes us stand out from “regular healers” and other druids alike. . I also would love to keep the system of advantages vs. disadvantages while being in the form, so the homogenisation of classes does not cross over to healers even more.

    Druids are shapeshifters, lets have a meaningful healing shape to shift into.

    PS: I hate not being able to post on the US forums.

  4. Ibormeith
    Posted May 22, 2009 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    Im a recent convert to treeing and so the newness of it all hasnt worn off :-) but having a button to press to DPS whilst in tree would be nice as, Especially in heroics the level of healing required can leave me basically lifeblooming the tank, 1 or 2 wildgrowths on the group and nothing else to do for the fight, i know i can drop out of tree form to pew pew, but i like being a tree and being able to do something in an offensive capacity would be nice, even if its just lunging wildly at the boss with a branch in hand to try and poke it in eye :-)

    Maybe being able to use the Spell in tree form but get a dmg reduction whilst tree form to offset against the plus healing we had (possibly OP in PVP i guess but would still be nice)

  5. Posted May 22, 2009 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    You forgot to mention that the main reason that rolling LB sucked, other than it was boring. The other part was that to make LB competitive and worthwhile you needed the Idol off of the first boss of SLabs. Which we ran over 60-80 times and it did not drop.

    This is why starting raid gear needs to be done by crafting professions or the whole random loot thing in normal instances also needs a secondary tokenization for gear. A random wall is still a wall.

  6. Posted May 22, 2009 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    I am in exactly the opposite position. I’ll be posting on this, now that I see how well one can post something other than “yes it’s fun” or “no it’s not” But the fact of the matter for me is, I miss when I first got to SSC and I was competing against the other tree for top heals by rolling lolbloom on up to 4 targets at a time. I don’t need to do that anymore, and couldn’t sustain it if I tried. That was the Tree healing I loved the most. Trash pulls in the beginning of SSC, without ever needing an innervate or a mana pot. Ahh I miss that.

  7. Galashin
    Posted May 22, 2009 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    But here’s the thing–while I’m with you that druid healing is now in a great place, and certainly fun, what does the [i]form[/i] actually do?

    Assuming it’s fully specced,
    1) Loss of balance spells, except innervate, NG, thorns, barkskin
    2) +6% healing done aura (doesn’t stack with prot pallies)
    3) +240% armor
    4) +15% spirit to spellpower

    Now, I do kind of like the flavor of us trading balance spells for increased healing power, but did we really gain all that much healing power? Pallies share the healing aura–for 3 points compared to our 1, but without any restrictions on its use, and they get a 17% bonus to devo with each point, as well. The armor is surprisingly useful PvE (and I assume very useful PvP)–but priests have inner fire and the other healers are in mail/plate, so this just brings us back in line. And the 15% spirit to spellpower is in line with the talents the other healers have as well–15% int for shaman (3 pts), 25% spirit for priests (5 pts), 20% int for pallies (5 pts).

    Alternatively, we can compare ToL to moonkin.
    M1) Loss of restoration spells, except remove curse.
    M2) +5% crit aura (doesn’t stack with ele shaman)
    M3) +3% haste aura
    M4) +370% armor
    M5) 2% mana restored on spell crits
    M6) +30% spirit to spellpower

    So I suppose my real question is…is it [i]tree of life[/i] that you still find fun, or healing as a druid? Are the benefits of ToL really similar to the other shapeshifting options druids have? Does the form really affect how our healing style would be without it, provided we maintained talents similar to those of the other healers?

  8. Luneko
    Posted May 22, 2009 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    I love tree form and think it’s fun, but I’ll admit that’s primarily because it clearly distinguishes me as the healer. Other healing toons don’t get that.

    I have 3 requests for tree form:
    1) Make Barkskin more effective if you’re in tree form. (Makes sense, doesn’t it?)
    2) Give us a higher jump. There’s this one step in OK that my poor tree gets stuck on everytime. I always have to shift to get past it!
    3) Change the coloring so we don’t look so much like a dying tree.

  9. Sydera
    Posted May 22, 2009 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    I actually liked healing better in BC. I hate, hate, hate the look of Tree of Life. Aesthetics are incredibly important! As such, I actually liked the tree snare and the limitations better, because I got to shift out to move, to decurse, etc. There were many fights that I did out of form–Void Reaver, Archimonde, Leotheras. I looked forward to them every week because I could be an elf. Looking at my beautiful character was the only thing that made the 100 wipes before my guild downed Archi bearable!

    Now I’m stuck with the form much more often, and it is terrible. I’d rather just be an elf. Or, barring that simple and perfect solution, I’d wish for a model upgrade.

    I’m not optimistic that they’ll ever upgrade the models, though. It seems like a permanently back-burner project.

  10. Kazril
    Posted May 22, 2009 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    I’ll repost here what I did in the thread.

    From a PvE perspective, is it fun? Healing as a druid is fun. Does ToL really add anything to it? Other than some interesting animations and amusing emotes, not really. It gives us a passive aura that aura that increased healing some as well as gives us some bonus spellpower while limiting the spells we can use (I have zero issue with the spell limiting). But other than the buffs it provides, it doesn’t really add anything to druid healing. I’d have just as much fun in caster form as I would ToL.

    Now the idea of switching forums for healing is nice, it fits with the druids. But both Moonkin and ToL suffer from the same thing in that they don’t change the playstyle of a druid from the caster form like Bear and Cat do.

    So I’ll say its fun in that druid healing is fun, but it doesn’t add to the fun.

  11. Aelinna
    Posted May 23, 2009 at 5:16 am | Permalink

    I’ve slowly grown to hate it. I still love the emotes, but as GC says, it really does nothing interesting for me.

    I have two suggestions. One, replace the skin texture with a barky one and add a constant rejuv effect, or green glow. That would give some visual indication of the shift without totally stomping gear. The talent might need to be renamed, “Spirit of the Ancients” or something. This is my preferred solution, I like how Shadowform is visually distinct yet you can see the priest inside.

    Two, use a different tree model depending on the ilvl of your gear. A fresh 80 ToL would look like the current model, moving up through tiers as ancients. There are several problems with this unfortunately. The ancient models are rather wide, to get us a standard width we might end up dwarf height. That would be very wrong. Designers would have to invent ever-cooler tree models, and those are whole models in addition to our tier set. And well, it will still stomp your gear! No bunny ears in ToL…

    I’m sorely tempted to start healing some of the easier Ulduar fights out of form, just for the little squee I get every time I see my pretty pretty elf. The buffs are no joke though :S

    As an aside… how rubbish does Barkskin look by now?! Compared to eg bubble wall.