Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Female Worgen to Human Hair and Ear Charts

And, finally, the Female charts. I had to roll separate toons to put these together, including leveling a female Worgen to the point where she could get to Stormwind.

The Female Hair and Ear styles were a little harder. They're less symmetrical than the Males', so finding good angles for single screenshots was difficult. Hopefully they're okay.

All screenshots were taken with the WoW Model Viewer. Above each screenshot I've included the name of the style as it appears while you're in the Barber chair, as well as the # of the matching setting in the Model Viewer. This gives you a couple ways to actually see them in 3D if you want to.


Changing hairstyles on the Worgen affects the mane and "tails". They map to specific human hairstyles.

Click for full size.


Changing ear styles on the Worgen affects the ear size and shape. They map to different piercing configurations on the human forms.

Click for full size.

Monday, December 20, 2010

World Dragons

I enjoyed a pretty full and eventful WoW the cost of a ton of other stuff I intended to get done. I think I'm going to seriously curtail my game time this week and catch up on life. Novel concept, right? But I need to do it, and I need to make a conscious effort to do it.

The thing I'm most excited about right now is that, as of the time I'm writing this, my guild, <The Dragons>, is currently first on the server (Sen'jin) in guild Achievement points, and #37 in the world (according to GuildOx). Seriously.

Will it last? Probably not. But that's okay. I've screenshotted it and I'm keeping it tucked away for proof that our humble (not so) little guild was once able to say that it was top 50 in the world in anything.

Saturday night we had 3 groups chaining BC Heroics (and Kara) to get those achieves. Sunday night we had 5 groups chaining classic dungeons and then LK Heroics to wrap those up. It was actually a lot of fun. Plus when you have 5 groups scattered all over the world collecting these things, your guild achievements ping your screen like crazy. Every couple of minutes a new one goes up.

I hadn't smiled that much all week.

I'm really happy that we were able to get that many people willing to take a break from whatever they were doing to go back and run old content for the good of the guild. Especially now that achievements don't grant XP, so the amount of actual "good" isn't as easily quantifiable. Double especially because no one can just queue for those dungeons anymore...we had to travel to get to them.

Outside of that adventuring, I finally set foot into some Cata Heroics. I'll be giving my impressions on them in a post later on this week.

I also rolled a Female Worgen, leveled her up to the point where I could shift forms and get to SW, and got all my notes and screenshots for the Female Worgen Hair and Piercings chart. I just need to put it all together now, which is the easier but slightly more tedious portion of the process.

So those will be my next two posts. I'm not sure which order, yet.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Now is the time!

I had intended to make this post prior to Cataclysm releasing. Or at least in the first couple days thereafter. But it just never happened.

With all the new race/class combos, and the gear reset that occurs every time we have new levels to chew through, now is the idea time to try that Tanking or Healing that you've wanted to.

Late in an expansion (let's use Wrath for an example), it's hard to start Tanking or Healing if you haven't been doing it from the start. You're inexperienced, you may or may not have the gear, and encounters are pretty much designed such that they're less forgiving than, say, Naxx encounters. You may have done okay in the Lower Spire, but above that? Not likely. And being taken all the way to a fight like LK? Even more unlikely.

Even with Heroics, people were looking for fast, trouble-free runs. Easier to do if everyone's playing the roles they're familiar with. Wake me up when the last boss is dead, amirite?

But now you have a fresh start. Everyone getting new gear, everyone's learning new skills. And while I'd hardly call the current dungeons "forgiving," even on Normal modes, at least everyone is suffering through some growing pains.

So while you're out questing through the new zones, make sure you're keeping an eye out for that gear that may be good for the Tank or Healer spec you've been wanting to try and tuck it away. It shouldn't take too long to build up a decent starting set.

For aspiring healers, spend some time standing in one of your home cities and casting your heals on yourself. Get a feel for how long they take to cast and how much they actually heal. If you use keybinds, Clique, Vuhdo, Healbot or anything like that, get yourself familiar with they key/mouse presses for the different heals.

For aspiring tanks, get a DPS buddy and go out into the world, preferably in a zone where the mobs are a little tougher in groups (Uldum or Twilight Highlands). Start off pulling 2 mobs at a time. Focus on one while the DPS focuses on the other. Try to keep aggro. This (ideally) isn't how it will work in actual dungeons, but it's good practice on world trash. When you feel comfortable, try to bump this up to 3 or 4. Learn your cooldowns, even if you don't always need them.

Queue for dungeons force yourself into the unfamiliar role. 99 times out of 100, if you check DPS and either Tank or Healer, you're going to get either Tank or Healer. But don't take that chance. And if you're typically a Tank or a Healer trying to get used to the other one of those roles, definitely don't queue up with the familar one as an available option.

Better to do this in guild groups, btw. People are generally more patient and understanding.

Let everyone know up front that you're learning.

Be open to advice. Even rude advice. Just because someone's a jerk doesn't always mean they're wrong. If you do get someone who's adamant that you suck, ask the rest of the group if they feel you're really struggling. Ask for more direct, supportive advice.

Make sure to pick up better gear for the new role. Get a feel for how it changes as you get more powerful.

By the time you're ready to run Heroics and/or Raid, you should be getting pretty comfortable and used to how to play those styles. And since you're getting in on the ground floor, it'll be easier to continue those roles into the future of the expansion if you choose to.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

To Worgen or not to Worgen

I've been kinda teetering back and forth between race changing San to a Worgen and leaving him a NElf. I won't go into a long boring list, but most of the reasons for changing to a Worgen revlove around the fact that, visually, they appeal to me more. Most of the reasons for staying NElf revolve around it having been my in-game identity for so long. (Among other things, I'd feel compelled to change my name. Saniel isn't very Worgen sounding.)

But there is a single reason above all others that's holding me back.


Saved my blue-skinned butt so many times while leveling to 85. Pull too many mobs? Or that angry Elite? Couldn't get away from a spawn point that churned out enemies as fast as I could down them? Wanted to get swoop in, skin a corpse, and get out without a fight?

No problem. Pop Shadowmeld to drop combat, then pop flight form and fly away. Easy peasy. No mess, no fuss.

I would have died so many more times without that...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Male Worgen to Human Hair and Beard Charts

Zel pointed out in my comments yesterday that the internet lacked a complete guide to mappings between Worgen and Human features. There were some partial ones, but since the Barber shops have more options than the creation screens, none of them were really complete. You're only able to access Barber chairs in Worgen form, so it's pretty much a change-and-check system to see what it looks like in the Human form.

I had a little time last night, so I put together the Male portion of said chart. (I don't have a Female Worgen or Human with which to do the counterparts, but I may be able to find the time to fix that, or at least get some help from someone who does.)
Update: Female charts are here!

Anyway, here are the Male charts at least.

All screenshots were taken with the WoW Model Viewer. Above each screenshot I've included the name of the style as it appears while you're in the Barber chair, as well as the # of the matching setting in the Model Viewer. This gives you a couple ways to actually see them in 3D if you want to.


Changing hairstyles on the Worgen affects the mane and "tails". They map to specific human hairstyles. There is one Worgen hair-style (Mane) that doesn't actually appear in the Model Viewer as a hairstyle. Instead it seems to be represented by turning hair display off.

Click for full size.


Changing beard (facial hair) styles on the Worgen affects the hair on the chin and under the muzzle near the neck, as well as ear size and shape. The Model Viewer has 23 different beard styles for the Worgen, but only 9 are available to players in the barber shops. I think I matched them all up properly.

Click for full size.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

New Character Habits

I have this habit with every character I've rolled since 3.0 was dropped before Wrath.

I create them, go through the starting zone, and then immediately hit the closest (or most convenient) big city with a barber shop and check out all the hair styles that weren't available upon character creation.

More often than not, I find one I like better than the original options.

Grevioux is currently resting in Darnassus. The next time I log into him, the very first thing I'm doing is jumping on the boat to Stormwind. Gonna get my harr did!

Do you have any crazy habits around your new chars?

Monday, December 13, 2010

The best laid plans of mice and men...

Ah, Tuesday. Feels like an eon ago. I remember looking ahead to the next five days off, excited about all the new things I would get to see and experience in Azeroth, but also firmly resolute in my dedication to not be consumed by them and to get a number of other things done.

Most of those other things are still completely undone. Others are only partially done. Cleaning my kitchen is the only one that got completely done...and then subsequently undone again as the days wore on.

I'm horrible.

I hit 85 on San early Sunday afternoon. At first I thought, "Wow...I planned to take a little longer than this to hit the cap. I didn't want to rush it." Then I realized I didn't rush it. I went through Hyjal, Deepholme, Uldum, and the Twilight Highlands. (I also ran through all of Vashj'ir on Daluaan.) It was about 60 quests through that last zone that I hit 85. I quested each one out completely and I made sure to take the time to read every quest I got. Not just skim it. Actually read and follow the stories.

The amount of time I spent on San alone in the last 5 days would probably take me 2.5 to 3 weeks during my normal play routine. So I didn't sprint to 85...but I sure as hell ran a marathon to get there. Add in some time I spent on other toons and...yeah.

The zones are amazing. Uldum so far has been my favorite one (not in the least because I'm totally enamored with the Ramkahen), but each has been a complete joy to experience. Part of the reason I was able to spend as much time in-game as I have is because the questing never felt grindy or needless. (*cough*Nesingwary*cough*) Every quest moved the story of the zone forward in a very real and impactful way. And the zones themselves are beautiful and a joy to travel through.

I haven't done any Heroics yet...I'm 1 iLvl away from being able to queue for them. Plus they're not something I intend to PuG at first, so I need to wait for a few more of my fellow guildies. I have tanked BRC a few times, plus ToT, SC, VP, and HoO once each. I've been having a blast, but it's been difficult. I have another post for that later this week, but the biggest change so far (even from running Wrath heroics post-4.01) is how careful I have to be with Maul. Using it at the wrong time now leaves me utterly rage starved and scrambling to keep threat.

I've cooked and fished some. My Skinning is maxed out and my Leatherworking is at 506. Those next 4 points are proving very difficult to get. I have 3 or 4 cheap patterns I can grind out, but since they're so close to grey, the likelihood of skillups is low. I have 2 yellow patters, but both are expensive, and they're close enough to green that they're unreliable for skillups. But I can't access any of the Twilight Highlands patterns until I get those 4 more points.

It's Monday, now. That means back to the grind. At least until next Wednesday, at which point I start my until-the-new-year vacation. My playtime until then is going to be somewhat limited (especially if I can maintain some semblance of self-discipline). But that's okay. It'll probably be good for me to take it a little easier over the next week anyway.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A service to all my fellow bloggers

I found out something on Monday while I was updating my character list over there on the right:

WoW has a new Armory.

Yeah, no joke. I didn't know either. Been a while since I've checked it. It probably happened with the launch of the new forums and community site.

Needless to say, all my links were broken. They led to a big, fat, "Oops" page.

At first I was kinda embarrassed about this. I was sure I was the only one who'd missed the change.

Just a few minutes ago I perused several of the blogs on my blogroll in an attempt to confirm that I had been stuck on Idiot Island, population: 1.

Turns out I wasn't so alone.

So if you have links on your blog to your various characters' Armory profiles, you may want to take a look at updating them.

The new style looks something like this:

Come join me in the bar for a drink once you get back to the mainland. First round's on me.

My extensive list of Cataclysm Bear gear

So here's the deal.

I started to compile a list of the top 4 pieces of gear for Bears to look for as they level through Cataclysm. I pulled up Wowhead, put in some filters, and got a decent start at a stare-and-compare analysis.

Then I jumped over to The Fluid Druid to check out Alaron's post about gear for Cats and see how he put it together. It was a pretty good guide and I figured modeling mine after it couldn't hurt. Then after staring at it for about 30 seconds, I realized something...

It's the same list.

Follow me for a moment here.

At the beginning of an expansion, there's not a lot of variance in gear. Yeah, there's a ton of of new gear. But a lot of it is random drops and quest rewards. As you go through dungeons, you'll be looking for a piece or maybe two for each slot. Same with Heroics. Then you'll get to the raids.

At the end of BC I had two almost completely distinct pairs of gear. One for Bear, one for Cat. The first time I set foot into Naxx in Wrath, I had about 4 unique pieces for the two sets. The rest was shared.

Now that we're at the end of Wrath, I'm back to having two distinct sets. I expect I'm going see that pared down significantly before I step foot into the Bastion for the first time.

Now most of my distinct pieces of gear are my trinkets, rings, and amulet. And my cloak. Why? These are pieces that have more armor and defense on them. Plus more stam than the comparable DPS pieces. The rest of my gear is mostly the same pieces with different gems and enchants.

Things have changed now. Defense as a stat on gear is gone. Strength has gone down in value as a stat for bears (not that it was that great to start with). And Stam has been more normalized between Tanks and non-Tanks. Blizz has stated they didn't really want Bears going after those Plate-tank pieces anymore and they've backed up that desire with item and class design. So the line between Bear gear and Cat gear has gotten a lot thinner.

That makes Alaron's gear list almost spot on for Bears too. If I were better with numbers and assigning weights to stats, I think I might find that a piece or two here and there might be flipped with the one above it. But, honestly, I'm more of the eyeball-it type.

So if you want to peruse my extensive list of Cataclysm Bear gear, head on over to Alaron's blog and check out his extensive list of Cataclysm Cat gear.

Thanks for making my job easier, Alaron. :-)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Tonight at 12:01 PST...

...I will be asleep. And I will continue to be asleep until my normal wake up time of about 6:30. Then I will get up, take care of the 3 S's, get dressed, and go to work.

I figure UPS will be delivering my Cata:CE to my building sometime in the morning. Office mail will probably have it on my desk by the time I'm brewing my afternoon coffee. I'll finish out my work day, go home, and do any kind of installation/account upgrade that I need to do.

Then I'll probably create my Worgen Hunter. I won't start him. Just create him. He'll be a project for later, but I'm excited about him, so I do want to get that done.

I might log into my various characters long enough to get them to SW (San's the only one who has his hearth there already...the others are still in Northrend) and pick up Old World flying.

And then...I'm going to log out and go for my bi-weekly guys' night out. Every other Tuesday is wings night. Cata's not going to change that.

I did take the remaining 3 days of the week off of work. The timing is, admittedly, because of Cata. However the act of taking the days off is not. I have 11 PTO days I need to use up before Jan 1 or I lose them. This seemed like a good week to take care of some of that.

I'll still be taking some time among those days off to finally put up my Christmas lights and tree. I meant to do that this past weekend, but ended up with a pretty full schedule.

I've also been working on a set of questions for TriviaBot. The current available set is pretty badly out of date. Many of the questions are no longer valid. Some are flat out wrong (and were even two years ago when they were made). I've got over 450 so far and I figure I'm about halfway done. Maybe a little less. It's very time consuming and I really had no idea how large of an undertaking I was...undertaking. I really wanted to be done by tonight, but that's not going to happen. I'd like to finish them up in the next week. I figure if I put in a couple hours a day, that's reasonable.

So it's not going to be all Cata, all the time.

For what time I do spend playing, San will be my main focus until I hit 85. While I'm in no rush to get there, I do feel some small sense of responsibility as my guild's RL and MT to be among the first to the cap and available for runs, even just dungeons. I plan on breaking one of the major "rules" of WoW while I do it, though. I will not be logging out in inns or major cities. I want as little rest as possible to have to deal with. I want to see everything.

After San hits cap I'll probably be rotating among running dungeons and heroics with him as guildies need tanks, as well as leveling Daluaan, Siaaryn, and Grevioux (the previously mentioned Hunter). Hotahinahu might even see some love, too...though he'll be spending many lonely hours in Northrend. And, at some point, I'll have to get Maarken up to the cap. I may give Frost a shot to see how it plays. I'm just not having fun with Unholy.

Of course I'm really not expecting any of this to be happening in the next 5 days.

So those are my grand, illustrious Cataclysm plans.

Exciting, no?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

On Kings and Warchiefs

Before I start today's post, I just want to say hi to the recent influx of visitors from Team Sportscoat. I don't know what I did to catch your attention, but I definitely appreciate it. :-)

I know I've said it before, but the one thing that keeps me coming back to WoW above all others is the Lore. The story. This universe that Chris Metzen has created is beyond amazing. And the help and support he's gotten in bringing it to life leaves me slack-jawed.

I finished reading The Shattering on Tuesday night. It was a good read. Quick, clean, but still captivating. One of the things it showed me, though, is how dreadfully out of touch I am with the lore of WoW as it is right now.

I could go on and on about the War of the Ancients, the War of the Shifting Sands, Arthas' history, Illidan's history (and most of the lore surrounding the major players of Burning Crusade), etc. But I never really took the time to read up on the current players.

For the purposes of this post, I'm specifically referring to Varian Wrynn and Garrosh Hellscream. Two very important and very controversial figures in the current happenings of WoW.

Opposition to these two being in power is pretty unanimous. Both are hot-headed, impulsive, and violent. They have a hatred of the opposite faction so powerful that it's blinding them to (what we as players see as) any type of reason. This is especially true when we stand them up against their more moderate counterparts Jaina and Thrall. (I could toss Fandral Staghelm into this discussion, too, as he's probably still the single most reviled lore figure to ever grace the game.)

But there's a couple factors here that we as players never seem to consider.

Good writing doesn't avoid tension. It creates it.
Think of every story you've ever read. Think of every movie you've ever seen. Think of every game you've ever played. Think, particularly, of the best of each of these.

How many times are you screaming in your head, "just kill the bad guy! He's. Right. There!" or, "would you two just admit you have it for each other and get it on?!" or, "he was my favorite character, why did he have to die?!" or, "why can't the Horde and Alliance just put aside their differences and realize there are bigger problems?!"

It's simple...because what makes a story compelling is when it does the things that we as readers (and even as writers) don't want it to. There has to be a conflict that we want to see resolved or we lose interest. And as frustrating or disheartening as it can be when it gets worse instead of better, that only shows how invested we've become in it.

Have you ever read a story by a novice writer (they proliferate now, thanks to the internet) where everything just kinda goes right and all the conflicts are resolved the way we'd want them to be before they can really cause strife? It's boring as hell. And worse, it's completely unbelievable. You walk away feeling like you wasted a part of your life for having read it.

That's why we have Garrosh. That's why we have Varian. We may not like them. But they certainly keep the story interesting. Plus, it's worth noting that we are not the people they rule.

We are not Azeroth's citizens. We are its champions.
When the extent of your NPC interaction is clicking on them to open the AH or having them ask you to "keel six snow moose," when it takes 30 seconds to run from Stormwind's Cathdral to its Keep, when you can mount up and run from Westfall to Redridge in minutes, it's easy to forget that the world we play in is only a representation of the "real" Azeroth.

While the players that make up the Horde's fighting force would probably continue to play regardless of whether Garrosh or a Basic Campfire were appointed leader, the people of the Horde certainly would not.

Thrall had a very difficult decision to make and he had a very, very short time in which he could make it. He didn't want to give control of the Horde to Garrosh. But he didn't have any better alternatives. Not if he wanted to keep the Horde unified. The citizens of the Horde would break apart under any other rule in Thrall's absence, and he knew it.

And his intention at the time was for it to be a temporary thing. Just while he was off in Nagrand learning what he could about why Azeroth's elements were in such turmoil and how he, as a Shaman, could help. He assumed that when he returned from Nagrand he would resume leading his people. But it didn't turn out that way. And he couldn't just waltz back into Orgrimmar at that point and say, "Well, I'm not coming back to lead the Horde. But I thought about it and I think I'm going to appoint _______ for the job instead of Garrosh."

Yeah...that would go over well.

Likewise, on the Alliance side, we may not like Varian, but he is the rightful King of Stormwind. And as long as the Humans are the center of the Alliance, he will be its leader. At the end of the day, he's probably a good King. He's just a dick of a person. But there's a reason for that...

The game doesn't do a great job of telling the whole story.
When we see Varian in game, all we see is a giant, pushy, unreasonable jerk with an irrational hunger for Horde blood. But we usually don't think to stop and wonder why.

Through Warth, I knew a little bit about Varian. I knew that after he was kidnapped by the Defias he somehow got free, but was found washed up on shore with no real memory. I knew he was captured by the Orcs and forced to fight in their arenas until he eventually regained his senses and fought his way back to his rightful place in the world. So I could understand why he had a little bit of a distaste for the Horde, Orcs specifically.

You know what I didn't know until I read The Shattering? Varian was actually split into two people during that time. Literally.

There was Varian, the good, reasonable side of his personality. And there was Lo'gosh, his angry, violent side. It was Lo'gosh who was forced to fight in the arenas of the Horde while Varian tried to figure out what was really going on. And when the two halves were didn't go quite right. Instead of meshing back together into a whole man with each side of his personality acting as a balance for the other, he's still fractured. He's still two parts that wrestle for control. And Lo'gosh, being more naturally dominant, is often the side that gains the upper hand.

Now I understand why he's so unreasonable at times (during the siege of Undercity, for instance) and then does a complete 180 at others (telling Muradin to stand down so Saurfang can collect the body of his son, and telling Saurfang that his son was an honorable orc). (For those of you who only play Horde, this plays out when an Alliance group defeats Deathbringer Saurfang in ICC.)

Similarly I was able to learn why Garrosh is so battle-hungry and that he's not completely without a brain, or honor.

Metzen didn't make these characters jerks just for the sake of them being jerks, or just for the sake of keeping the story interesting. There's actual reasons for their personalities to have developed that way. (Again here, I would point out Staghelm. He, too, has reasons to being such a jerk.) But if you only look for readily-presented, in-game answers as to why, you'll never find them.

The game isn't about them. It's about us.
Here we come to the flip side of the citizen/champion coin. While we are not representative of the people of Azeroth as a whole, as long as we're logged into World of Warcraft, the game is still about us.

While it would be great at times if the game would do more to show us the stories of NPCs like Varian and Garrosh, they're secondary to us as heroes. We are not there to find out about Varian's past, or to counsel Garrosh. That's not our story. Our story is fighting to banish Ragnaros. It's stopping Onyxia and Nefarion from continuing their father's work. It's defeating Illidan once and for all. It's ending the Lich King's reign. It's slaying Deathwing before he can destroy the world.

Blizzard only has so many resources at its disposal to tell us stories (I have a whole other post about that for sometime in the future). While it's good for us to know what and who we're fighting for, at the end of the day, our story is the fight. And that's the story the game has to focus on telling. Blizzard realizes this, and that's why there's a plethora of other avenues for us to learn about all of Azeroth's history and the histories of all those who are a part of it. It's left to our discretion to go out of our way to find it and consume it.

And I highly recommend you do so. I've finally started to and it's made the game all that much better.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Kill it with fire!

I still hold that, in the game, Worgen casters just don't seem that appealing.

But...uh...this would probably make me soil myself.