I am pro-forms but only because, if something is going wrong, the likely-hood of me being able to trigger a global cooldown ability is going to be slim to nil. The more I will need such an ability the more likely I won't have a global cooldown to throw its way.
What the Tree provides:
- Great landmark for pugged/raid environments
- Armor buff
- Marginal increase in healing
This sets the ground for the rest of the article. Moonkin and Tree do not have any special moves associated with them. You do not get any talented moves that require you to be in either of those forms to use. You have two specializations that do not require their associated forms to function in, it wouldn't be much of a stretch to roll the function of the other two combat forms into the function of the class itself.
The image of a Cat or Bear is an awesome image and the special skills they use with those forms are, on the most part, aptly named for the form and function they do. If we take the option of a cooldown Tree or Moonkin then we should also ponder integrating the cooldown Bear and Cat. This would be a cooldown that is popped when the Bear needs a bit more survivability or the Cat or Moonkin needs to really lay on the damage. You would not be in form until these are popped. You would be a Tauren/Night Elf meleeing, tanking, or ranged damaging in your “caster form,” which will further be called “base form” to help distinguish it from the thoughts that you must be casting.
The base form of the druid has NO melee moves. None. All of the melee moves are Categorized under feral. To make the change to a cooldown Cat and Bear model, one must transfer those melee abilities to the base form. This would, in essence, create a class that is not based on their weapon type or damage and that is very attuned to unarmed combat. Maul, bash, swipe, claw, rake, ravage, pounce, maim, lacerate, charge, and mangle all have similar skills in the design of other classes that could be played upon in the druid to allow for the druid to stay base form. All of the other skills could be easily renamed to things such as Slap, Headbutt, and Punch and some wouldn't even need renamed like claw, rake, swipe, bash or maim. This would essentially free up the way a druid plays allowing for the ability to stealth as a base form instead of only in Cat and put the Druid in a more rogue like position.
Many would complain that the differences between Cat and Bear forms and the Moonkin and Tree forms are like night and day. I am going to bring up the ENTIRE OVERHAUL of the way that hunters use their power resource as a counter to this. Hunters were in an odd spot being the only physical damage dealing ranged class that used mana. This will all change come Cataclysm. The hunter, if you have been under a rock, will now use focus, similar to their pets. Focus is a 1-100 scale power that is based on the hunter pet and rogue energy. They will have stats/talents/spells to help regain focus similar to how a rogue regains energy or a hunter pet regains focus.
Many will also say that Blizzard is getting rid of Tree because they don't like it/players don't like it/it is boring. I agree that there are lots of people who never liked it, and really, it is rather boring form from a strictly healing standpoint. Other than the “Stack on the TREE!” so commonly brought up the Tree does nothing but wave its leaves. The design has been bashed in and out on different forums for being really outdated and lacking in lore. The concept of a “shifting healer” wasn't even remotely in lore from what I have read but the concept of transformation was, especially dealing with the use of damage spells and the slow transformation into Moonkin. There is no reason at all why there couldn't be some similar type of transformation for the healing spec. Thinking of this from a authors perspective, following a healing druid through the books would have been rather boring to say the least, relegated to the position of being more a narrator in the action.
Many times the act of shifting out of Tree to crowd control or damage can be a death sentence to a Resto specialized druid. The problem doesn't lie in the shifting itself so much as the restrictions that are placed while in a shifted form. The druid uses both nature and arcane in Moonkin, nature in Resto, and physical damage in Bear and Cat. All healing spells seem to be nature but all Moonkin spells are not arcane so there is no reason to limit the healing druid to only using nature spells when the same isn't applied to the Moonkin (Typhoon, Insect Swarm, Wrath and damage from roots are all nature based) and their damaging spells. I could see the Tree being restricted to only nature based spells but then we could at least wrath spam and use crowd controlling methods while in form.
The shadow side of things. Many people bring up shadow priest in the argument for some unknown reason. The shadow priest cannot heal in their form, but Blizzard isn't going to remove their form because it is more a play of coloring/transparency than a form. Your character does not take on the appearance of any thing outside itself. You look closely you can still see your armor, your face and your weapons. You are essentially a bit purple and more transparent.
The Demonology talent Metamorphosis for Warlocks is the only other thing that comes as a TRUE change of form. And surprise! It is already on a cooldown. They shift into a demon to do damage, and while in demon have an increase in their damage done. They even get some spells, 4 spells that any demonology warlock would be happy to use even at the most inopportune times. I personally like the demon form but am aghast as to why they needed to have spells specifically for this form when they do not require the use of them over any other warlock spell. My thoughts are that if they made the form and went so far as to make spells for it, the warlock should be restricted to those 4 spells during their time in that form.
To those who claim that the inclusion of a cooldown on the Bear, Cat, and Moonkin models would be outrageous should consider what they are planning on doing in the next expansion. Flying in an old Azeroth that looks only remotely like the old Azeroth we know today and the complete overhaul of the hunter power resource are just a few of the massive changes coming in the next expansion. The option of putting Moonkin on cooldown should be a real fear for any Moonkin at this time. The Moonkin is in the exact same place as the Tree and everyone seems to be of the opinion that it is okay for a Tree to go cooldown form but would they say the same for the Moonkin? And if Blizzard decided that they wanted to make all druid forms as a cooldown, what is to stop them from coming up with a way to do it? I am not trying to say that we should all boycott Blizzards decision, I am just saying, if it was any other form, would you care?