And it seems like we could keep these through some small changes to spells:Things I want to keep about wild shape:
1. Druid tanking as a hit point sponge. It's a different way of tanking, it's an established role that some players clearly enjoy, and is not inherently OP. It just needs to be better tuned.
2. Druids being able to turn into a variety of weak animals to deal with different non-combat situations. Like a becoming a ferret to scoot down a drain, or a spider to crawl up a wall and eavesdrop, that kind of thing.
3. Some variety in combat options so the druid has some choices to make.
4. Druid is unable to speak while wild shaped. Look, players badly pantomiming is comedy gold at the table and I don't want to see it lost.
I don't see why all of that can't be accomplished with some generic template options.
1) Moon druids: Whenever the druid wildshapes they may immediate cast the barkskin spell on themselves. This use does not require concentration. Barkskin is always a prepared spell for them.
2) The Reduce/enlarge spell alters the creature size after wildshape (this isn't even a rules change, its just a specific interpretation of what can already be allowed with the new spell list).
This allows the druid to maintain some of the old strength but does require some spell slots to do it, so it balances the books a bit better.