K- and I started playing WoW around the time that Sunwell Plateau was introduced and so we really don’t have a lot of nostalgia for the “good ol’ days” of 40 man raids. Nor do we “remember when” Karazhan was a guild killer. Despite our limited experience with Burning Crusade raiding, I’d wager that K- and I were able to play our classes really well. I was a damn good Restoration Druid; he was a damn good Survival Hunter.
When WotLK first went into Beta, we were pretty excited to see how these classes would take shape at 80. But as things unfolded, we quickly realized that the vision that Blizzard had for SV Hunters and Resto Druids in the expansion was quite different from how the classes were played in TBC. As K- knew he wanted to switch to a Death Knight, I too chose a new class so that we could level through the Outlands and through Northrend together.
I did enjoy playing a resto druid very much. Despite the joke that the class merely hit Lifebloom ad nauseum in a raid setting, I found it took quite a bit of skill to keep rolling Lifeblooms on several tanks, to maintain Rejuvenation HoTs on multiple targets, to utilize the power of Regrowth, to know when to swiftmend and when to NS+HT and of course when to Bear form + Feral Charge. I had already decided to play a Shadow Priest when the first of many nerfs hit Restoration Druids, most significantly that Lifebloom was going to cost a lot more and heal for a lot less. But even more than nerfs (which, of course, developers always justify in the name of “balance”) it seemed as though the intention was for Druids to no longer be the buffer-tank-healers via HoTs. The introduction of Wild Growth provided them with a multi-target heal that didn’t require channeling or a 10-minute cooldown. Talents were supposed to make direct healing with Healing Touch more viable as well, particularly as Trees could now cast it without shape-shifting to caster form.
For better or for worse, raiding as a restoration druid has changed. The changes to Lifebloom, once the signature spell of the Tree, that are on the PTR right now make this even more apparent.
Now, of course, all classes can probably say this.
I respecced Khrii to Balance the minute I knew I was benching her, and I haven’t healed anything with her since. But knowing that she will heal when called upon, I have tried to stay current on the class. That being said, I suppose old habits are hard to break. I’m quite sure I’d still only use Healing Touch as an “oh shit” spell in conjunction with Nature’s Swiftness. And I think it’ll take some mental reprogramming to let a Lifebloom bloom for the mana returns it’ll now provide rather than simply refreshing it because it’s on the cusp of expiring. But one thing I won’t have to be reminded of is the removal of Tree form’s snare — that unfortunate side-effect of druid healing that made getting out of the fucking fire a real struggle at times.
As Khaeli lay dead from a DoT during the Heigan fight, I cursed myself, remembering “oh shit! I can cure disease in Shadow form now! duh!” I also noticed that the Resto Druid was in caster form, and being in a foul mood from dying on every boss fight, decided to blame the lack of Tree of Life Aura for my demise.