Listening to Team Wafflecast last week and then chatting with Deppi (a fellow druid on my server) got me to thinking about forms. Specifically resto druids shifting into forms (other than treeform) and whether that has a place in raiding.
Small context first: I’ve raided as a druid since Molten Core, mostly as resto. I tanked during early BC, so this is the period of the game I know least about as a druid healer. I have druid-healed in a few different guilds, including server-first/hardcore guilds through to guilds that would describe themselves as casual.
So do I use forms in raiding? Well, yes. But are they just a bit of trivial fun? Or has using forms at the right time changed the outcome of a battle?
Some shifty examples
To answer this, I started thinking back to some of the encounters in the game where I’ve shifted. I started listing them, there were… many. So some stand out examples first, then some general classification of the whens and whys.
Molten Core, Baron Geddon
This was my first raid instance, and the first time the raid leader instructed us druids to shift. Pretty much all serious raiding druids back then were resto, but Geddon had a couple of mechanics that meant cat form was useful. Firstly he threw out a mana drain debuff, but it only hit casters, so shifting avoided being debuffed and drained.
Secondly, his Living bomb made escaping from the raid quickly an advantage (go shift/dash!) and in cat form I could avoid taking falling damage once I exploded. Woo!
Ruins of AQ, Ossirian
This was one of those fights we were racing to get server-first, and I remember the randomness and the frustration of it so well. I also remember feeling extremely powerful as a healer, as in travel form druids were the only healer who could stay with the MT and keep him up.
ToC, Faction champs
Aah the Trials. And aaah, the champs.
Apart from the luxury of multiple CCs (cyclones, entangle, natures grasp) the ability to catform/dash out of trouble or more often just bearform/barkskin and kite when focused (which was damned often). I loved this fight, and loved being consistently one of the last men standing when wipe was called. I think everyone else LOATHED the fight with a passion, but I just felt like I had so many tools to throw around with HoTs and dispels one moment, then tanking it up the next.
I think I’ll get some hating for enjoying that. But I’m a bit crazy like that.
The most recent fight that I’ve felt that my forms really made the difference was Ragnaros. When transitioning phases, being able to dash to my position was critical. Also when transitioning between seeds spawns, being able to shift and stampeding roar was incredibly powerful in helping the raid get out of range safely. Not so helpful on heroic Rags, but extremely useful while we were working on normal.
After making a list of the fights where I felt shifting made a difference, I started to pull apart the ‘whys’.
Generally I’ve used forms for (really brief summaries):
- speed – personal or raid (examples: Ossirian, Buru, Supremus, ToC: worms, Anub Arak, Battle for Mount Hyjal – all of it especially Archimonde, Felmyst, Mimiron, Shannox, Al’Akir, Conclave, Atramedes, Morchok, Aran)
- taunting (examples: Freya (HM), Sartharion, Beth’tilac)
- interrupting (examples: Faction champs… I can’t remember many other fights I shifted as resto to interrupt)
- damage mitigation (examples: ToC champs, Nefarian)
- kiting (examples: ToC champs, Gluth)
- falling (examples: Anub’Rekhan, Beth’Tilac, Geddon, Archimonde, Conclave)
- dps (This is a nonexample… I just wanted to mention that there are basically no examples where I can remember shifting to dps. Sure I used to dps when forced into cat form in the original Nef encounter, but I really don’t remember any fights where I’d go cat form to dps by choice. Just easier to pewpew wrath/moonfire when needed.)
Making this list made me think pretty hard about other opportunities for shifting… and would be interested to hear what other encounters resto druids shift for.
Also – it made me realise that Dragon Soul doesn’t really offer much for shifting. Maybe on heroic it will, we’ve only done Morchock so far – and the speed boost for the phase changes is far from game breaking.
I love playing a healer with so many tricks. I’ve written before of how much I love having these up my sleeve outside of raids. But in order for those tricks to be useful/powerful in raiding, you need encounters that are designed well to employ them. I don’t want to be forced to spend half the fight in a non healing form, I play resto to heal after all. But I do like a fight where intelligently choosing when to shift gives me access to abilities that help the raid more I would by just healing.
When I look back at the key fights where I shifted, when fluidly flipping in and out of forms meant the make or break of the fight… they were the fights I had the most fun. Those are the fights I remember most vividly. Those were the fights I felt most like a druid.