We've lost that shifting feeling?

So, there has been an interesting conversation going on in the healing forums lately about how often we shift from one form to another, about the design of tree form, and about moonkin lack of shifting, too.

Back a long time ago, we used to shift more often just because all of our forms were weak on it’s own. What do I mean by that?

This was my original leveling solo “rotation” to kill a single mob: Pull with starfire, root, moonfire, wrath a couple times until roots breaks. Melee in caster form until omen of clarity proc’d (yes, I’m serious). Cast rejuv on myself. Shift to bear form. Melee in bear form for a while. Eventually shift back out. Start back from the beginning and repeat a few times until mob was dead.

My current moonkin “rotation” to kill a single mob: Cast starfire twice, or wrath three times.

You should go back and read all the blue posts in this thread, especially if the Q&A left you a little queezy about possible changes to shapeshifting.

Okay, so this is part of something I posted in that thread:

Moonkin actually have a reason to want to spend more time in caster or feral forms, but mechanics of the class just prevent shifting out of moonkin in PvP to really be viable. Giving moonkin the ability to spend time outside of moonkin form would solve a lot of moonkin’s PvP problems.

Ghostcrawler’s reply to that quote:

Yeah, we agree. That is what I was getting at with the druid as a shifter. The idea is that a Balance druid would sometimes leave Moonkin form, but we haven’t made it easy enough to do so. We also don’t want to just adopt a model where say you shift to caster form to decurse and shift back – that just means your decurses take 3 button clicks (or a macro). It should be more tactical than that – do I want to be in Moonkin form for a little while, or would I rather be in caster form (or possibly even bear or cat)?

From a PvP design perspective, being stuck in moonkin form without access to resto healing or feral crowd control abilities is pretty problematic. We’ve got a good PvE spec that does decent DPS, but Eclipse (something tied heavily to our rotation) doesn’t allow for any mobility at all, and so that combined with just not having enough tools available to moonkin in PvP really makes it such that moonkin are the perfect candidates for wanting the ability to be able to shift around in and out of forms to gain access to the tools that would help us be successful. The other option is just giving moonkin more tools, but that has to be balanced around the other specs. Just giving moonkin easier access to feral and/or resto abilities would actually help a lot with making moonkin have more flexibility.

However, they seem to be overall paying a lot of attention to resto’s lack of shifting right now:

Druids are supposed to be shifters. We want to see more shifting. We came down hard on Resto druids in PvP shifting to bear, and now wonder if we went too far. Likewise, we think there should be some motivation not to be a tree all the time even as Resto.

Well, if the game was balanced around 1v1 PvP, I could see resto druids needing more than just thorns to do damage to their opponent. However, in group PvP situations, it’s going to be the resto druid’s job to keep the person doing damage alive. This means that there aren’t many things that resto druids need access to if they want to do the job of healing in a PvP situation.

Shifting at all in PvE seems pretty ridiculous to even think about wanting us to do, since the druid design is really meant to have us focus on ONE role, which comes with ONE talent spec. We’re now able to use dual specs to switch between two roles, so I think that really works out from a design perspective to encourage changing roles more often:

As I said with the Balance example above, it might work better if you decided “Okay I am going to be in Tree form for a little while because of the situation.” It’s a pretty different model, but imagine a druid changed forms at least once or twice a battle. That feels a little more like the shapeshifting druids from Warcraft lore.

And this model can work for PvP, but with the over-specialization that happens in PvE, we’re going to pick a role and stick with it. Being locked out of spells designed for our role (like when we couldn’t decurse in tree form) is just annoying without being fun or interesting. With the speed debuff, we’d choose to be a weaker healer for increased mobility, but losing any healing output will mean we are likely to just slip right back into tree form as soon as we can when we’re in a PvE situation where output numbers are going to matter.  As a healing tree, the thing I miss the most is that I don’t have a mana-free source of damage (like wands) to contribute while I’m trying to conserve mana (and tree form’s melee is pretty much slim to none). However, this is a problem that resto shaman & holy paladins have, too.

So, we don’t want a design for PvP (like making tree into a temporary buff) that makes PvP interesting at the cost of making PvE worse. Going back and giving resto and balance access to feral charge or those kinds of utility abilities could improve the desire to shift in PvP, without making PvE worse. Also, I’d like to argue that we do get to see our set items sometimes: When we’re riding around on ground mounts or other times out of combat where we’re not always tied to a form. Is that enough? I don’t know. However, doing something just to change the way we look more often is lame if it doesn’t also enhance our play style overall.

These issues are going to take a long time to work out, and I’m really not expecting tree form to disappear on us any time soon…

3 Comments

  1. Owen
    Posted July 17, 2009 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    A few weeks ago, I happened to look at my druid in caster form — I mean actually _looked_ at my druid — and realized I had no idea what he looked like in his armor (he actually looked like a tulip to me, wearing Mantle of the Preserver and having green hair). I spend so much time either as a moonkin or a tree I completely forget the toon underneath. I’m bland and boring. I don’t even get to see my armor. Contrast that with my mage…she’s purple now, decked out in full T7.5. But she was tan with T7 and black during levelling. I feel like she’s a toon I care about.

    Anyway…visual stimulation aside, I had some thoughts about how I’d love to see the druid in the future:

    1). The base druid class should be able to switch into any role on a moment’s notice. This means that all druid forms (bear, kitty, moonkin, and tree) should be available to all druids _at any time_, not by making a talent choice pre-combat.

    2). Gear itemization for tier gear should be changed so that tier gear makes sense for _any_ role the druid is fulfilling. Yes, this means tier gear with strength, stamina, agility, intellect, spirit, attack power, and spell power (and haste/crit). It would also have multiple set bonuses (2 pieces grant all of the following: +rip damage, +starfire/wrath crit, +lifebloom tick power, etc). This would mean that druids would only have one tier gear choice rather than 1 for each role. Non-tier gear would not be re-itemized and would allow the druid to focus gear for a particular talent tree or situation (I’ll put on my healing wrists, neck, and cloak because I’ll be healing for this fight, but if I have to go tank, my tier gear prevents me from being completely dead in the water).

    3). Reorient the talent trees. Make the resto tree focus on healing and spell-based DPS (both moonkin and tree forms accessible on this tab). The feral tree would focus on tanking and melee DPS (both bear and kitty forms on this tab). The balance tab would then refocus from moonkin to talents that span any spec (tank, melee, caster, healer). A druid that spec’d into deep balance would be good at _any_ role, but not chart-topping.

    4). While any druid can shift into any form, only druids deep-spec’d in a particular talent tree can access the ‘dire’ versions of a given form. So, while any druid can shift to moonkin or tree forms, only a deep-spec’d resto druid can access the Dire Moonkin or Dire Tree forms. A druid deep-spec’d into a talent tree would have access to both flavors of that talent tree (meaning, for example, they can shift between dire tree and dire moonkin during combat without changing talent specs).

    Some possible balance tree talents:
    Feral Intellect: Converts 5/10/15/20/25% of your intellect into Strength when in bear form and agility when in cat form.
    Strength of the Healer: Converts 5/10/15/20/25% of your strength into spell power when in tree or moonkin form.
    Master Shapeshifter: Removes shapeshifting from the global cooldown.
    Druidic Swiftness: 33/66/100% chance of gaining 20% haste for 15 seconds after shapeshifting.
    Restful Spirit: Regen mana at 50/75/100% of your regen rate while in caster form.
    Feral Power: Druid gains Feral Power buff, granting 100% rage or 100% energy when shifting to bear or cat form. Lasts 15 seconds. 3 minute cooldown. Cost: 50% base mana

    Wow. I’m long-winded.

  2. Maor
    Posted July 17, 2009 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

    There are situations in PvE where its advantageous to cast something other than healing spells, so there is some shifting now. Its just not very often (I spend pahse 3 Mim 10 in caster to root bombs for example).

    I don’t think we’re going to see a resto druid, in PvE, need to switch to bear. At the moment our only threat dump is in cat form, so there’s that if we actually needed to do that anymore.

    I like the idea of tree being a temporary buff, with its current bonuses rolled into a caster form buff, with tree being something else. What that would be, I have no idea. Moonkin could get similar treatment. But it would have to be done well to not make it feel gimmicky, and I’d rather keep what we have than have a gimmicky ability.

    I’m not sure how, now, in PvE they could make druids shift more. A bear is never likely to switch to anything else, a cat probably won’t either. But those two also offer distinct playstyles. Moonkin and Tree though I could see them doing something to make them seem more unique rather than not really add anything you can’t do in caster form.

    I dunno, but I’ll be interested to see where they go with it.

  3. Watreskell
    Posted July 21, 2009 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    As far as pve goes, you will never get away from the min/max all-or-none menatality. A resto druid is all healing, all the time (as far as spec and gear are concerned), a balance druid is all dps, all the time. Which isn’t to say I don’t shoot wrath at deconstructors heart, just that when I am raid healing, I’m all tree.

    I like the idea mentioned above about forms as procs etc. All or most of the buffs we get from tree or lazerchicken form should come from a talent in the talent tree where the form itself now sits, but we get them in our normal form. Tree and Moonkin form would become procs which actually change our appearance in battle, like the “Torment of the Worgen” did back in Kara days, and add a temporary sp or haste buff, or something like that. This way, we could run around and heal/pewpew in our normal lovable cow or hippyelf form, and sometimes see the tree or owl.