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The rules for the Circle of the Moon Druid state:

you gain the ability to use Wild Shape on your turn as a bonus action, rather than as an action

Is this intended to replace the ability to use Wild Shape as an action or is a Circle of the Moon Druid still able to Wild Shape as an action if he'd rather use his bonus action for something else on the same turn?

Specifically, what concerns me is the need to state "rather than as an action". Consider, for example, the Expeditious Retreat spell:

When you cast this spell, and then as a bonus action on each of your turns until the spell ends, you can take the Dash action

The wording is different and clearly you can continue to use Dash as an action as usual.

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The phrase "gain the ability" means that it doesn't replace anything. In addition to your previous ability to wild shape as an action, you now also have the ability to wild shape as a bonus action.

If it had been "your wild shape ability now takes a bonus action, rather than a normal action" you'd lose the ability to wildshape as an action, but this is gaining a new ability, rather than modifying an old one. Nothing in that rules text has any effect on any other abilities you might already have.

Now, if you had somehow gained this ability without previously having the standard version of the wild shape ability, then you would be able to wild shape as bonus action but not a normal action... though at that point the rules might become pretty messy about what you could wild shape into.

And we have confirmation from Mike Mearls in this Sage Advice:

Bonus Action @BonusAction · Feb 17, 2016
.@SageAdviceDnD @mikemearls Can Druids with Combat Wild Shape still perform Wild Shape as an action, or ONLY as a bonus action?

Mike Mearls @mikemearls · Feb 17, 2016
@BonusAction @SageAdviceDnD you can do either - it doesn't replace the old option

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    \$\begingroup\$ Do you have anything to discredit the segment "rather than as an action" by any chance? \$\endgroup\$ – Javelin Apr 26 '17 at 13:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ Nice answer. I was saying the same time at the same time. Yours came in first, so I'll remove mine. \$\endgroup\$ – J. A. Streich Apr 26 '17 at 14:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Javelin - no need. The entire thing is talking about this new ability that has been gained. "rather than as an action" is clarifying exactly what this newly gained ability is (by comparing it to the existing, already owned ability) \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden Apr 26 '17 at 14:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast Tank opportunity attacks, for example! \$\endgroup\$ – BlueMoon93 Jun 29 '18 at 21:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ @BlueMoon93 Extra hilarity in fire elemental form since those opportunity attacks will hit them back. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden Jun 29 '18 at 21:14

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