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Shifting Perspectives: Why (or why not) to play a worgen druid

Allison Robert

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Shifting Perspectives for cat, bear, restoration and balance druids. This week, you might want to get that bite looked at.

Today, we're going to tackle the subject of worgen druids, whose lore is an even bigger rat's nest than the contentious subject we discussed last week. As a note on that, I feel obligated to stick to the official line, which is that night elves were the first druids. Read Xarantaur's flavor text again. Not only does he skirt the issue, but his own story is an oblique confirmation that he probably wasn't among the first druids if the Warcraft RPG's information on racial lifespans is still canon.

Malfurion Stormrage is a young adult by the War of the Ancients. Xarantaur references the War, the Sundering, and a lengthy period spent traveling Kalimdor in search of stories. He was about to die when he was gifted with immortality by Nozdormu, so it's probable that he, too, was a young adult when the War began. By night elf reckoning, a "young adult" (even before the immortality granted by the World Tree) is between 100 and 300 years old; a tauren with a vastly shorter natural lifespan would be between 30 and 50. Even allowing for the smallest natural age gap, Malfurion predates Xarantaur by at least 50 years, and probably a lot more, given that he and a host of other night elf druids enter Ysera's service in the Emerald Dream after the Sundering. While it's likely that the tauren weren't taught druidism long after the night elves, Blizzard's official line is that night elves were the first druids. They may retcon this in the future or at the very least clarify (and I hope they do), but Xarantaur's existence doesn't conflict with the idea of night elves being first.

The full series is available here:
  1. Shifting Perspectives: Why (or why not) to play a night elf druid
  2. Shifting Perspectives: Why (or why not) to play a tauren druid
  3. Shifting Perspectives: Why (or why not) to play a worgen druid
  4. Shifting Perspectives: Why (or why not) to play a troll druid

Considering the worgen

You wouldn't like me when I'm angry.
Random facts
  • Goblins and worgen have heavily phased starting areas that are functionally gone once you've leveled through them. For goblins, the Isle of Kezan and the Lost Isles are literally inaccessible once you've left; for worgen, Gilneas still exists but is emptied of NPCs and services. You can go there to enjoy a truly beautiful zone and architecture, but that's it.
  • Since worgen will be a new race in Cataclysm, there are no figures (official or otherwise) on their popularity yet. As you'd expect of any new race, they've been extremely popular on the beta, but how this will translate to the live servers is anyone's guess.
  • Gilneas has been in the Warcraft storyline since the beginning but sat out the Third War and subsequent events due to a disagreement with the Alliance. After the Second War, Lordaeron wanted to tax fellow Alliance nations to support the series of internment camps built to house the orcs. Genn Greymane had a difference of opinion concerning the issue, said an effective "up yours" to the rest of the Alliance, had the Greymane Wall built ... and Gilneas has been a mystery ever since. If Greymane could've shoved the peninsula off from the mainland, he would have.
Why you'd want to play one They're f*%#ing werewolves.

OK, you might need more reason to play them than that. The Gilneans are an interesting (though odd) bunch who have only recently reappeared in the world. What took me aback while questing through both the starting area and the revamped Alliance zones is how very normal they are. It's a vivid reminder that they're still humans, despite the curse. They think like humans, act like humans, and reason like humans -- until suddenly they're not so human. From the little old lady in the starting area who claws a Forsaken down to Sven Yorgen choking the hapless Jitters in Duskwood, the wolf is never far from the surface.

If you like playing a human -- with their messy politics, adaptability, and fundamental good-heartedness -- then playing a worgen is like playing a cooler-looking version of them with better toys and a kickass starting area. As a druid, you're assumed to be a follower of the "old ways" -- people who wield a simple kind of nature-based magic that helped Gilneans raise sufficient crops during their time of seclusion. Naturally, there's a lot of potential history there you could work with. There's also a marvelous built-in roleplay device in Two Forms, allowing an enterprising player to spend peaceful pursuits as a human and violent pursuits as a giant, rabid werewolf. Even if you don't plan on playing a worgen, try to play through the starting area at least once. While players are divided as to whether it or the goblin starting experience is better, nearly everyone agrees that the story of Gilneas' fall is done very well and worth seeing.

Concerning in-game matters, worgen are by far the best-rendered models among all four druidic races in Cataclysm, with the most fluid and interesting animations. To be frank, they make night elves, tauren, and trolls all look terrible by comparison.

Why you might not want to play one Gilneans are similar to night elves in a few unsettling respects. Both races have been relatively cloistered and tend toward insular viewpoints, bordering on arrogance. A Gilnean will have had no news of, or interaction with, the outside world for a long time. He's likely to have about as accurate a perspective on world events as your average North Korean and is unlikely to put Gilneas' sufferings in proper context. (Gilneas has had it bad, but other people -- blood elves, gnomes, the draenei, and Lordaeron come to mind -- have had it way worse.)

Gilneas was also one of the more powerful and stable members of the Alliance before the Wall was built, and her people aren't accustomed to being in a position of weakness. Without spoiling too much, you don't spend the starting area scoring many victories; even the biggest triumph is at best a tactical retreat. It remains to be seen what effect this has on the surviving nation, but there's no denying it's a humiliating blow.

While you'll find worgen among quest givers in the world, they're still less common than other races who have only recently appeared on the scene. The tauren, introduced to the world, take an active interest in its affairs, but a worgen's primary concern is still the welfare of Gilnean citizens. The Forsaken may have destroyed the Greymane Wall, but the average Gilnean's still got one built in his head.

On a note concerning player psychology and the general appeal of new races, expect to see a lot of worgen rolled after Cataclysm hits. If you like uncrowded leveling areas or playing less common races, you'll want to steer clear of worgen for a while. Also, while Blizzard has hugely decreased the incidence of the annoying snuffling idle sound, it's still around.

Allie's take I've played through the worgen starting area four times and am still at a loss to explain what the hell's going on with the worgen "curse." Questions over the Druids of the Pack, how their condition became a curse, and why it spread to the Gilneans is something that's only fuzzily answered (if you think it's answered at all). It's like watching Scientologists set up a branch office somewhere and their belief system infecting the local countryside with a fever of a hundred and werewolf. Frankly, it doesn't really make much sense, but when you have the opportunity to play a werewolf, you have to be willing to let a few niceties slide in the interest of more coolness.

Otherwise, I have fallen in love with the female worgen in particular. Blizzard spent a lot of time on this model, and it shows. While it's true that their faces are still a bit chihuahua-esque rather than lupine, you can minimize the effect with certain face options, and their animations are so cool that it's giving me serious pause over whether to play feral or not. On a completely random note, the female worgen rogue's stealth animation also marks the reappearance of the very cool old "gliding stealth" that has largely disappeared from the game.

Racial attributes
  • Aberration This has been tinkered with a bit; it used to be decreased curse and disease duration, which Blizzard decided would have too much impact on both PvE and PvP. The Wowhead tooltip is misleading; at level 85, your resistance to harmful nature and shadow effects will be 64.
  • Darkflight In essence, it's a free Dash every 3 minutes, and it doesn't share a cooldown with the real Dash. However, we've recently seen news that it's going to be changed to a 40 percent speed boost rather than 70 percent, making you as fast as ... the Travel Form you've already got. However, a Travel Form that you can heal in isn't something to treat lightly, and yes, Darkflight is usable from any form. Between this, Dash, and Stampeding Roar, you have absolutely no excuse for dying in fire.
  • Flayer As with the tauren racial Cultivation, worgen get a bonus to a gathering profession. If you stick with it, you'll have a small critical strike buff (Master of Anatomy).
  • Running Wild This was recently implemented in the beta, and it's very cool (though I wish Blizzard would slow down the animation for 100 percent run speed just a bit; it's hard to appreciate the art with all four legs running like a steam locomotive). It'll also save you money while you're leveling, because you'll find Running Wild pop up automatically in your spellbook at both level 20 and level 40 along with the corresponding riding skill.
  • Two Forms This is a cosmetic ability that exists just for fun and will switch you between human and worgen form. As advertised, you'll change into a worgen at any point you enter combat.
  • Viciousness Rather than the 1 percent crit you'd get with bows as a troll or guns with a dwarf, worgen have a flat 1 percent crit to everything they do. Overpowered? In comparison to other racial bonuses, yes.
Best for? Trolls and worgen are both interesting in that they have more offensively-oriented racials than night elves and tauren. If I were going to play a PvP feral in Cataclysm, especially in rated battlegrounds (where feral has traditionally fared better than in arena), I'd be tempted to pick worgen. Darkflight and Viciousness vastly outclass anything the other classes can offer with the exception of Shadowmeld, and extra crit as a feral means more combo points and Savage Defense procs. Apart from that, I'd nominate goblin and worgen racials as among the most purely fun in the game. No matter what you play, you'll get use from the extra speed boost and crit.

Every week, Shifting Perspectives treks across Azeroth in pursuit of druidic truth, beauty and insight. Whether you're a bear, cat, moonkin, tree or stuck in caster form, we've got the skinny, from a look at the disappearance of the bear tank to thoughts on why you should be playing the class (or why not).

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