I’m going to start with an assumption;
If you read my blog, you also read MMO Champion, WoW.com, or the main forums, and are plugged into the “WoW news” scene, such as it is.
If not, that’s okay. I’m sure you’ll get the gist of what’s going on with Druids soon enough.
The proposed Feral changes, such as they were, were pretty good.
Plenty of stuff made me smile in the announcement, not least of which was the announcement of a new AoE threat/damage boosting ability, Thrash.
That’s nice, I think it’ll be fun in execution. However, once again, I refer you to a previous post, wherein I pointed out we have no idea how any change will actually work. The assumption would be that adding a new ability, Thrash, would add to Threat generation. However, in execution, if they dial down Swipe’s Threat/Damage as they add Thrash, balance them out so we need to use both together to equal today’s Swipe… well, see what I mean about not making silly assumptions as to how things will work until we actually get the game changes in our furry little paws?
What mostly brought a smile to my face was the way the tanking announcements, in general and across the board, all said that the intended goal was to balance damage dealing capabilities across all tank types. To have tools in place so that if any one tank class gets ahead of the pack, they can reign them in, or if one lags behind, they can pull that one up by the bootstraps.
The concern I have is that the term they use is damage, not Threat, when talking about balance. I know that many tanks worry about damage generation comparisons with other tanks, and that there has been a lot of complaining about the high damage output of some tank classes.
I don’t care nearly as much about damage output balance as I do about threat. I really hope that when they are talking about balancing damage amongst the tank classes, they also mean threat output.
The main point to take away from tank announcements is that they are trying to change the underpinnings of the abilities and mechanics so that they have easier tools at hand to balance the classes when they decide it’s needed.
I imagine that’s one of the reasons that the Paladin review is so delayed. Paladins have a very fine tuned, race car style performance when it comes to threat and damage generation. Messing with any of it is going to cause a lot of headaches for all concerned.
As far as Bears go, with Vengeance, and damage reduction and Thrash and everything, it looks to me that Bears will do about as well as could be expected. Tools are being added to increase the complexity/diversity of the Bear playstyle, increase our group utility (Movement speed buff? Cool!), improve AoE threat generation (hopefully with Thrash) and keep our gear diversity intact.
The only fly in the ointment would be the lack of an announced ranged Silence pull, while in their infinite wisdom they gave Rogues (Rogues?) a Smoke Bomb to force ranged spellcasters to close to melee.
Did I actually expect to get a ranged Silence pull? No, I did not. Bears have so many other tools from Cat using the same gear and (mostly) same spec, PLUS self-Heals, that I figured, from a PvP standpoint, there was just no freaking way we’d get one.
If you don’t like it, play a Pally, right? We’re Bears. Toughen up, sunshine!
I will add that while I like the Smoke Bomb idea for our Ninja leather-wearing brothers and sisters, if you can do that, c’mon guys… hows about giving a Bear a fart cloud? Although, come to think of it, that would be more along the order of a Fear, wouldn’t it?
Hmmm. Actually, a fart cloud that stuns enemies in an AoE would be fun. I bet they can’t do it because you wouldn’t be able to put in diminishing returns for the effect…
Oh well, lesson here is, Bears, make sure your best friend is a Rogue, I guess. Good thing I married one.
As far as Cats go, they said that there would be no new earthshaking, wonderful new spells. They like the rotation so much, they don’t want to fiddle with it. However, they WILL extend debuff durations and things, so there is a slightly looser window to get each ability off that depends on a previous debuff being in effect on the target, making the rotation a little more forgiving to a slight blunder.
Restoration Druids aren’t expecting to get any new spells either; Blizzard thinks the ones we have fill all the required niches.
I can feel the desire for new shinies, but I honestly don’t need something new just to have a happy button added to my bar. I look at all the excess buttons on some of my classes, like all the buttons for abilities my Mage alt almost never uses, and figure that I’m good with having a tight group of abilities that all work well together.
I don’t play a Moonkin, personally, but I love the form. I would like to say one thing about their new spell.
Why, oh why, do Druids get to be the ones bringing the magic shrooms? Now there’s nothing for it but that I go grind Sporregar rep to Exalted so I can wear the Magic Mushroom purple tabard, proclaiming my hippy druggie status to the world.
Okay, so I’m laughing on the inside. Trust a Moonkin to look at the enemy and think, “What you really need, what you really need right now, is to get high. Here, have one of these. Oh my, look at the pretty stars. And the lights! The beautiful, glowing, pretty lights. Oh, wait, those are my spell effects as I blow you the hell up…”
Lets move on to what is shaping up to be the big drama of the teasers; Treeform on cooldown.
If you follow Restoration Druid blogs to any extent, you might have noticed a stirring in the branches, as the winds of discontent blow through the community.
Down and dirty, they’re planning on changing Treeform from being a discrete form that Druids shift into, and make it similar to a long cooldown buff.
This changes it from being the form you are in while being a Healer fully specced into Restoration, and makes it more a “For 30 seconds you are in the form of a Tree, and healing power/whatever is increased by X amount. 2 minute cooldown.”
Or 5 minute cooldown. Or something.
The point is, it goes from being what it is now, a shapeshifting form exclusive to the deep Restoration tree, and reduces it to just another spell in the rotation.
Now, Druids are unlikely to get a lot of outside sympathy for being unhappy about this. From the outside looking in, it resembles a simple complaint about a cosmetic change, and Ghostcrawler has already replied, saying that if Druids are so adamant about having a Tree form, they could add a Minor Glyph that would leave the Treeform appearance up all the time, but would leave the new mechanic unchanged.
I’d like to try and present a Druid’s viewpoint that cuts to the core of the matter without silly drama.
World of Warcraft has, as a large part of it’s charm, both a romantic and a mathematic side of the game.
The mathematic is represented by all things analytical; stats and mechanics and DPS curves and damage reduction by armor with diminishing returns, and all of the other things that allow a dedicated theorycrafter an opportunity to min/max their performance.
The romantic is represented by the graphical style, the non-combat pets, the rare and exotic pets Hunters can tame, the varying landscapes and cultures to visit, the tabards to wear, the mounts to ride, the clothing and gear that changes your entire appearance, the view of the tumultous sky over the mana engines of Netherstorm and the peacefulness of fishing the pools while watching the Sun set across the sea in Wetlands.
The game is not just stats and power curves and progression. It is not just preparing for, and engaging in, battle. If it were, it would be Squad Leader with a bare bones graphics interface on a Hex map.
It has those elements, that depth of complexity. But it also has the whimsical, the romantic, the things that bring the game world alive and make it so much more to a player than a set of stats on a cardboard placard or a token on a map.
The way the game is designed, and part of the continued draw of the game for me is the extent to which I can develop an emotional attachment to the characters.
It is, at it’s heart, what differentiates an MMORPG from an RTS; that I have a single character whose story throughout the World of Warcraft has some measure of escapist value for me.
Where the problem here comes in, is that from what Ghostcrawler has said, the developers are approaching this issue with only one concern; stats and effects during raids and combat.
Where the players that have Restoration Druids are coming from, is mainly from the point of view of any player with an emotional investment in the character they play.
To us, our Treeform is an ability that shows our heart is in healing. Much like Moonkin form, it is far enough down the Restoration Talent Tree that you don’t just take it as part of a hybrid spec. You have to be intending to Heal as your main function, you have to really dedicate yourself to being a supporting healer to be a Tree.
I know I’m only speaking for myself on this, but to me, I don’t see the lack of offensive spellcasting abilities in Treeform as a detriment to playing my class; I see it as a mark of honor and distinction, and symbol of my dedication to keeping your ass alive.
I don’t ever find myself railing at the cruel fates that have prevented me from casting DPS spells from Treeform. In the rare occasions that I throw down a Hurricane, mostly during the Shifted phase of the wraith boss in Violet Hold to kill the adds, I accept dropping out of Treeform as the cost of dealing damage, and I return to Treeform as soon as my brief foray into causing pain is over.
I know that Ghostcrawler seems to feel that the Treeform mechanic doesn’t add anything to the game, it doesn’t bring anything special to the Restoration Druid’s table.
What it brings is Treeform itself. What he just doesn’t seem to grasp is that Treeform, for a Restoration Druid, is a goal in and of itself. Not something to be pity Glyphed, but an outwards symbol of a Druid Healer’s resolve.
I truly hope that the developers that are trying to balance this incredibly complex game for raiding and PvP in cataclysm are reminded that there is a lot more to the game then stats.
At the end of the day, what keeps us all playing this rather than Star Fleet Battles on a MUD is our personal involvement with our characters. Our emotional investment in the class that we play.
Character involvement can be a fragile thing, and I truly hope that, before making such a significant change, the devlopers take a big step back and ask themselves; is what we expect to gain by making this change worth all that we WILL lose in terms of player goodwill?