In Defense of the New Tree of Life

When Blizzard first announced the changes they were making to Tree of Life in the upcoming expansion, the Druid community experienced its own mini-Cataclysm. The main gripe seems to be more about the loss of another “true” Druid form, than it is about the mechanics of the talent. The reasoning behind the Dev’s decision  is that being one of the maybe two capstone abilities for Resto Druids, Tree of Life was pretty boring. Yes, it gave you a new form, but the benefits of the talent in its Wrath iteration read like a list of lower tier talents. Assuming the math supports the Blue’s statements, the reduced mana and increased healing it offers only bring us in line with other healing classes. Not really the huge benefit you expect from a must have talent.

The new version of Tree of Life as it is in the beta, including the recent announcement that the snare is probably being removed, provides quite a few situational uses for Resto Druids, and makes the talent far more useful and class defining than before. First, lets take a look at what the new talent brings to the table:

Tree of Life:

Shapeshift into the Tree of Life, increasing healing done by 15% and increasing your armor by 120% but reducing your movement speed by 50%. In addition, some of your spells are temporarly enhanced while shapeshifted. Lasts 45 sec. 5 minute cooldown. Enhanced spells: Lifebloom, Wild Growth, Regrowth, Entangling Roots, Thorns, Wrath.

Enhanced Spells:

Wild Growth: affects 2 more targets
Regrowth: instant cast
Lifebloom: 2 applications of Lifebloom
Entangling Roots: instant cast and increase damage by 200%
Wrath: cast time reduced by 50% damage increase by 30%
Thorns: not yet implemented

The first change may not be apparent in the tooltip. The 15% increase to healing should be a larger boost than what you are currently seeing in Wrath, due to the fact that Druid healing power is being brought closer in line with the other classes without Tree of Life figured in. Because it is now a cooldown, the healing bonus can have more impact than if it was a passive bonus like the current live version. But the most obvious, and interesting, change is the enhanced spells. Not only do some our healing spells benefit from this, but some Balance spells as well.

Where I think that the new version really shines is how many different uses I can see for it. It truly went from a set it and forget it toggle, to a spell that can give you different advantages depending on when and how you use it. I really see it adding

Playing Catchup

The most obvious way I see Tree of Life being used, is as a way to catch up when massive damage or some other raid situation causes you to fall behind in healing. The ability  to heal extra Wild Growth Targets, complete a 3 stack of Lifebloom much faster, and cast Regrowth instantly, all combine for a very powerful boost to your healing when damage gets out of control. This also seems to apply to both raid and tank healing, assuming Druids are healing in Cataclysm the way the devs have been describing.

Healing On The Move

Druids are already known for being good healers on the move, but this makes us even better. By using this cooldown in high movement situations, you will add Regrowth to your instant cast arsenal, while also increasing the effectiveness of Lifebloom, and hitting more targets with Wild Growth. While the design of Cataclysm raids will determine how often you will use Tree of Life in this manner, I am sure there will be plenty of times that you are the only healer capable of truly healing on the move. This should be a good way to make up for other classes deficiencies in this area.

Damage Boost When You’re Not Healing

One of the design trends for healers in Cataclysm seems to be dealing damage when your not healing. So the bump to a few of our damaging abilities is in interesting touch. Now I am not saying this is an effective use of your cooldown in most raid situations. However, in times in which you outgear content, or in 5 man dungeons where it is not necessary to have the increased healing every boss, this can give us a nice DPS bump. I see this as more of a fun way to use the cooldown, but who knows what Blizz has in mind for the new raids.


Arguably there is no area of the game better suited for situational abilities than Arenas and Battlegrounds. Where this talent truly benefits you in PVP is with its flexibility. Especially with the removal of the snare component taking away the one drawback that would keep you from using it in PVP. Lots of team members taking damage in a 5v5? Pop it and go to town with your raid healing spells. Someone being focused fired? Use it for the extra boost that can often be the difference between winning and losing. Got that last opponent on the ropes and want to help finish them off? This is a perfect time to cast Tree of Life and spam your enhanced Wrath.

In the end the beauty of the new Tree of Life is all its nuances and flexibility. Find the right time and way to use it will be a challenge at first, but in the long run you will gain far more benefit form it than the current design. As far as the loss of a true Druid form goes: Is it really worth it to lose a great spell, just because we don’t want to heal in our ugly caster forms? I hope the answer for most players is no.

Epiphanize is the co-host of the Raid Warning Podcast and is currently leveling a Druid in the Cataclysm beta as well as playing one as his main.

34 thoughts on “In Defense of the New Tree of Life”

  1. Ugly caster form? O.o I think you mean ugly tree form.

    Good post.

    I love the new Tree of Life. The fact that I hate the old tree form probably helps, but from a mechanics point of view this new spell is much stronger. Instant Regrowths sounds amazing, the WG bonus is very nice. The Lifebloom bonus I think needs major improvement – since it can only be placed on one target, at most you’re saving yourself a single GCD, but the rest looks good. I like that ToL will now actually do something. As you said, old ToL was boring and didn’t really do much.

    As for the snare, they’re talking about removing it. 50% does seem like a bit much, but people who complain about it seem to be confusing a snare with not being able to move at all. A snare means it takes you longer to get where you’re going, but with our current instants and Regrowths becoming instant it’s really not that big a deal. You just need to know the right time to use it.

  2. @Moravec As I state several times in the article. The devs have already said they are probably going to remove the snare. I link to the blue post near the top of the article.

    @Jasyla I agree regarding Lifebloom. The extra stack is nice, except if you are using it to say to quickly get a tank to 3 stacks, as the second application is wasted on your second GCD. Hopefully they will tweak it a bit. Its a unique spell, so I’m sure its hard to enhance it without making it overpowered.

  3. The cool down on Tree of Life goes against the very essence of the Druid class, which is shape shifting. I’d far rather have a Tree of Life form that has no other benefits other than changing my form than one with a cool down plus healing buffs. The exact same arguments for putting a cool down on ToL could also be used for Moonkin form, and from some of the comments GC has made recently it seems they nearly did.

  4. @Amradorn I think you would be in the EXTREME minority of people who would rather have no benefit other than visual versus having a cooldown with benefits.

    @Matticus I am actually excited to be able to show off my armor while raiding. Seems like a small thing, but a positive thing in my book.

  5. @Amradorn
    You realise that we’re still shape-shifters, right? ToL is still a shapeshift, just not a constant one. We still will shift in to bird form to fly, shift into travel form or kitty + dash to get away from something quickly, shift into bear when something is about to hit us in the face.

    Shapeshifting as an active ability, something you consciously do to gain a specific benefit is much more interesting and useful than a passive aura that just makes us look like a tree. Druid shifting is meant to serve a purpose, not just provide a different appearance.

  6. Buried in one of my forum posts, GC replied that they may be removing the snare from tree form. Also, last time I checked, they hadn’t actually implemented the modified spell bonuses, so they may still be subject to change.

  7. @lissanna Pretty much everything in beta is subject to change. But what they are currently discussing gives us enough to speculate 🙂

  8. Why can’t they just let druids look like a tree regardless of it as an ability cooldown. Worgen can look like people or werewolves why not let druids choose between looking like a tree or looking like a whatever race they are.

  9. I think we are going to see a lot of druid in their “humanoid” form. The 50% snare debuff can be the different between live and death.

    Were there a similiar debuff on vanilla times?

    The only thing that I dont really like it’s the way Blizzard wants healers to dps (tree form bonus to wrath and similar bonus on resto shamy)

  10. “That’s not making me feel any better about being stuck against my will in caster form.”

    What about the rest of us sick of having to be in ToL to heal, when we would rather be in caster form? There are a lot of people on both sides of this, and Epiphanize was making some good points for it as a CD.

    “Were there a similiar debuff on vanilla times?”
    Well, ToL wasn’t in game at first, but when it was implemented it had a movement speed penalty.

    • Just speak for yourself.. I liked ToL form and I want it back.. Big part of being a resto was that we looked different than all the other healers.. this was a nerf towards druids.

  11. The Lifebloom bonus is a little weak. Saving a GCD is nice, but that’s pretty much it, now that we can only have Lifebloom up on a single target. Plus, if you throw LB up, it’s at 2 stacks, then when you refresh to take it to 3 stacks, you’re not getting the extra stack anymore. You’re either going to be using weaker LB ticks by only using the double stack cast, or refreshing before it expires for a 3 stack and wasting the LB bonus element of your ToL cooldown half the time you cast LB.

    Maybe that will suit people fine, I don’t know.. but to me, if you’re hitting your ohcrap button to do more healing, why would you want a weaker LB in that time – isn’t it usually going to mean you’d like full power? If you use ToL, your Lifeblooms are either going to be weaker, or the bonus is going to be partly wasted. Doesn’t make sense to me.

    The WG bonus is nice, but it’s also not thrilling; once it goes to a 10 second cooldown, that means we’ll only get those two extra targets 4 times per ToL use, so 8 targets over the entire ToL duration. I see it as a “nice to have” bonus, but not something to write home about. Plus WG is going to be weaker (but if people are supposed to be lingering at lower HP, it might be more effective). It’s nice, but it’s not amazing.

    At this stage, assuming they ditch the snare, the only things that I think are great are the 15% buff and instant Regrowths (particularly depending on how Efflorescence turns out). The Lifebloom and WG buffs are pretty meh in my opinion.

    Re the snare: I don’t mind having a snare, although I think 50% is heavy-handed. I would have been happy with the snare in place, but allowing us to shift out to run (or to cat in order to Dash), and then back into ToL to use the remainder of our ToL buff (much like you can cast Dash, go back to humanoid form to heal etc, and then get back into Dash to catch the last few seconds of run speed).

    As long as we had a way to get out of fire and not waste the end of the buff, I would have been happy.

    And, in fact, I don’t understand why they don’t do that – because their mantra lately has been “we want druids to shift more” – so why not allow us to shift into cat or bear or whatever to counter damage or to run away, but then still get back into Tree (for whatever remains of the buff)? Doesn’t that fit the design goal of making druids shift more? I *want* to shift, I love being able to drop to cat and run – or to ditch a mob’s snare – or to get in range with someone who is in trouble – other people can’t do that. But without losing the tail end of my buff.

    To be honest I think I would prefer a 20% snare plus the freedom to drop it and pick it back up if necessary, especially if they want us to “shift more”. In most situations I think a 20% snare would be workable; we’re still mobile, particularly if we also have instant Regrowths in that time. So a bit of a snare would be okay, provided that we had that ability to shift in and out without wiping the buff.

    Other people will disagree strongly, I’m sure.. suggesting that a snare is okay, considering our history, will probably mean I’d be met with rotten tomatoes.. but to me it’s no different to getting a Blood Lust and having to run away from Malleable Goo, for example. You make decisions and tradeoffs, and that keeps things interesting.

  12. Regarding cosmetics.. I do wish that they would let us keep the old Ent form as a cosmetic shapeshift, similar to the Worgen toggle. 100% cosmetic, no function – just flavour. I can’t see why they can’t do it – Worgens have exactly that – a button that switches them from human to Worgen and back again whenever they like.

    Some people *do* like the current model, and would like to keep it as part of their identity, if only for fun.

    And on humanoid cosmetics, I really hope Blizzard will consider updating the casting animations. My Tauren druid has EXACTLY THE SAME animation for ALL of her heals – they are just at different speeds. Hands together then thrown in the air – ranging from instant to a few seconds to channelling – all exactly the same. Zzzz.

    And finally – RIP tree slap. That’s the real travesty here.

  13. Sorry but I read what you have to say, and I still hate it.

    I hate how Blizzard’s changing up resto healing so much from expansion to expansion. I like where we were in BC, i like where are in WotLK, why do we have to keep playing switcharoo??

  14. @Iz — Blizz looks to be changing the way everyone heals. I’m going to have to learn a whole new playstyle on my Paladin, I think. As for this:

    “I like where we were in BC, i like where are in WotLK,”

    I think that says good things about Blizzard’s track record and should leave you optimistic for Cataclysm!

  15. @Keeva If you look at the Blue Post I linked it seems like GhostCrawler is saying the snare will more than likely be removed. I understand the reasoning for having it initially in the new version of ToL, but I would guess their raid design is showing them that the snare is being more of a straight hinderance than something you think about before using your cooldown.

    @Iz I think you should reserve judgment until you see how the mechanics work in Cataclysm. Like jeffo said, if you liked how they were in the last 2 expansions, than you might be pleasantly surprised how Resto Druids heal in Cata.

  16. I will never make a druid a night elf, the male form freaks me out and the female form just is too filled with slutty thoughts.

    I love the tauren forms, at least the female, the male butt scratch drives me crazy.

    as to the new druid races coming in cat, I dont really see much of a problem with the caster versions for either of those for me so, taken that into account, I dont think I have much of a problem with the tree form disappearing (now that I have had time to cool and blizz is contemplating that OUTRAGEOUS snare). I am still disappointed that it will be another button I have to push, but I really want to see how healing is in cat before jumping to more conclusions than I have.

    and… I have never gotten this site to load on my phone, not a one phone I have had (blackberry, droid eris, droid (one from motorola) and it kind of makes me sad.)

  17. @Epiphanize: I know, I blogged about the snare comment recently.

    And I did write “At this stage, assuming they ditch the snare” in my comment above, you may have missed it.

    (posted by proxy because WoM is still blocking me at home as being a spammer)

  18. Keeva: “Worgens have exactly that – a button that switches them from human to Worgen and back again whenever they like.”

    I was under the impression that they had to revert to worgen form when in combat, but I’m not in the beta, so I’m not really sure.

    In that case, it’s not quite so much 100% cosmetic freedom.

    From the orignal post: “Assuming the math supports the Blue’s statements, the reduced mana and increased healing it offers only bring us in line with other healing classes.”

    I hear this over and over and I just do not understand what the issue is. Ferals have to shapeshift into bear or kitty before they come in line with other tanks or melee dps classes. Booms have to shapeshift into chicken before they come in line with other caster dps classes. Why the special concern that trees are the same as other druid specs? I thought, in fact, that that was the *entire point* of the druid class. I’m not trying to be obnoxious, I’m not a druid, and I really don’t understand what makes it a problem.

    Is it that it’s a talent? Because so is Boomkin form… Is it just aesthetics? Again, Booms are pretty darn ugly… so I’m really not seeing what was broken about tree that wasn’t broken about at least boomkin too?

    Is it that you don’t get tree and thus don’t get brought in line with other healing classes until you hit level 50? I’ve leveled shamans, priests and pallies as healers and none of them really come into their own until late in the tree either. By the time it matters druids are right in line with other healers…

    At a loss. Again, not trying to be snarky, just really mystified as to what the concern is.

  19. @rhii
    we get tree form (and therefore equal heal per mana parity with other classes) for a whole 45sec every 5mins. the rest of the time, our hpm is comparitively poor. asuming the CD starts when we use the effect, (and not when it is finished/cancelled) our heals are only as effective as other classes for 15% of the fight (assuming it is used immediately once the cd is finished).

  20. @boozychef Your comment assumes that ToL is still needed to bring us in line with other healers. The Blues have stated that they were changing ToL so this wasnt the case.

  21. i certainly hope you’re right and i’m wrong epiphanize, although the mana costs from lissanna’s analysis dont fill me with a heap of optimism. admittedly lissanna’s blog was from earlier in the beta and hence might have changed.
    not having a beta key, i’d be very interested to see an up-to-date comparison.

  22. Finally, a reason to quit wow. I’m tired of having to re-learn my class every patch/expansion. It’s very frustrating being subject to the whims of some idiot dev.
    Bye wow, thanks for the good times, but it’s time to move on.

  23. The fact is that they put ToL on cooldown specifically because it was viewed as OP in PvP situations. As it stands now and well geared tree can pretty much heal through being attacked by any class in the game. Some better druids can do this with multiple attackers. Drop out of tree form, and lose not only your armor, but the barkskin glyph 30% crit chance reduction — a certain death. If you pay attention to most of the cata changes for nearly every class, the items that are being “taken away” are nearly all useful in battleground PvP…the main focus of Cata. Blizz balancing FTL.

  24. @boozychef I will look into this for a future article. I think Blizz is aware of the inflated mana costs with Druid spells, thus the change to the Wild Growth mana cost. Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come.

    @Outlaw I think the constant changing of the game has contributed to its longevity. I don’t know how many people would still be playing had the mechanics not changed since Vanilla.

    @tehshiv While I agree there are definitely some PVP motivations behind this change and many others, I think ToL is also changing due to the relative lack of imagination behind the spell. ToL has gone through many many changes since its introduction in BC, and I don’t see that stopping any time soon. Now Blizz will probably be constantly tweaking the “enhanced spells”

  25. Outlaw on August 22nd, 2010 11:24 pm

    Finally, a reason to quit wow. I’m tired of having to re-learn my class every patch/expansion. It’s very frustrating being subject to the whims of some idiot dev.
    Bye wow, thanks for the good times, but it’s time to move on.


    Why do people always post this type of comment? its like they think someone actually cares. If you want to quit WoW, then quit WoW. There’s no need to be a huge whining martyr about it or try to make the rest of us feel bad for continuing to enjoy the game.

    Regarding Tree of Life, I think I can get behind a system where the current effect on beta is a different cooldown and Tree of Life remains a permanent effect, but with no actual benefits besides the cosmetic change. That way those who want to heal in caster can do so, those who want to heal as a Tree can do so, and neither side misses out on a great cooldown.

  26. @Chris I could see a system where Tree Form is a base form like Bear and Cat with a minor bump that provides the same basic upgrades on par with the feral forms. Then make ToL a cooldown that transforms you from your Ent form into a full on Tree of Life that gives the bonuses being seen in beta. Good compromise I think.

  27. Well, my concerns are less with the new Tree of Life than the high mana costs of our heal spells currently in the beta, and they keep emphasizing how important mana management will be… so how are we going to be able to afford the mana to do damage when we’ll have to conserve what we have to continue healing?

    That’s a worry I haven’t seen any answers to yet. I am a highly mana-paranoid healer, I always have been, and that mana-conservative play style has extended into my other toons, even… so until I see the answers to that, I’m skeptical of the whole ‘doing damage when we aren’t healing’ while stating ‘ we don’t think you’ll be able to keep a full raid at 100% health’ and the high costs of heals that we currently see… well, it all just doesn’t add up because I’m going to be HEALING unless it’s a case where we have a boss at like 1% and we’re up against an enrage timer…

    For the most part, I try not to get too worked up, because this IS the beta, things can and are going to change, but at this point, I’m skeptical of the current design models.

  28. “Well, my concerns are less with the new Tree of Life than the high mana costs of our heal spells currently in the beta, and they keep emphasizing how important mana management will be… so how are we going to be able to afford the mana to do damage when we’ll have to conserve what we have to continue healing?”

    While I haven’t kept up to date on Cataclysm changes, it seems to me from reading up on latest blue posts that Blizz is trying to encourage healers to do damage by giving them mana back for doing so. So that in effect, dealing damage is a mana-gaining activity.

  29. While i can see ups and downs to both sides of the ToL debate the simple fact for me is that I rolled a druid because i liked the idea of having forms to do stuff, and as far as the dps bit goes, well i enjoy healing, thats what a healer is for, I have many healers because i enjoy healing.
    So for me the choices have become pretty simple, my druid will repsec out of resto (i may as well be a priest/shammy/pally) if i wanted to look at my toon in caster), and as far as the dps bit goes i dont mind throwing out the odd bit of dps when overgearing a run, but as far as doing it to regen mana… thats not why i rolled heals and if thats how Cat is going to be then all my healers will be respeccing to tank / DPS.
    Others may flame my decisions, but i pay my account and i see no point in playing a toon in a fasion i dont enjoy.


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