Pet Battles: Teambuilding for the Earliest Levels

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I’ve been giving some thought lately to my pet battle team. Luckily, unlike some things like talent changes, pet battles won’t go live until Mists does, so I’ve got about a month to work on it. Whoo!

There’s lots of ways to build pet teams. You can build theme teams, like an all-Murloc team or all-robot team. You can pick one superstar pet that you like a lot and have others to support him. You can level lots of pets from lots of families so that you’ll always have access to strategic combinations of pets (a lot of people will do this eventually, I figure). But there’s never a bad time to start thinking about that first team of three.

Unfortunately, I can’t help it - the first thing I start thinking about, probably due to too many years of in-depth Pokemon strategy (shut up), is pet types, strengths, and weaknesses.

But first, a disclaimer

A lot of what I’m about to say is really only important for that first pet. You only start with one, and after a few levels you’ll unlock other slots. Any pet who participates in a battle - even if that means just showing up and leaving immediately - gets experience (much like that other pet battle game), so once you’ve got one pet who can whoop some butt on his own, you can start using pets that are harder to level by putting them in first then switching to the stronger pet.

You can also freely ignore pretty much everything I’m saying below and use whatever pets you want, how you want, in whichever combination you want. That’s your prerogative! This kind of stuff is fun for me, but it may not be fun for you, and I get that. Do what’s fun for you.

And now, on with the show.

Pet types, strengths, and weaknesses

ugh, what a mess

Look at that hot mess of a chart. Each pet type has a family that it deals extra damage to (150% damage, to be exact) and one that it does less damage to (67% damage). More specifically, it’s the type on the move that matters - a hypothetical Aquatic pet using a Dragonkin-type move on a Magical pet will deal extra damage, for instance.

So what’s this have to do with your first team? Most of the starting areas are absolutely lousy with critters and beasts. Aquatic is also really common. I blame frogs. There are some exceptions - Tirisfal Glades also has a good concentration of flying and undead - and this is an issue Blizzard is aware of, but in the end, you may want to carefully pick your first battle pet. It’ll be leveling solo for a while, and:

  • Elemental, critter, and undead-type pets will have difficulty leveling by themselves early on due to taking more damage from, or doing less damage to, beasts, aquatics, and critters.
  • Flying, mechanical, and beast-type pets will be easy to level early on because they deal extra damage to, or take less damage from, beasts, aquatics, and critters.
  • Humanoid-type take less damage from critters, but deal less damage to beasts, and are neutral to aquatic pets. As long as you’re careful about what you fight (check the tooltip first!) a humanoid can be okay to level early on.
  • Dragonkin, aquatic, and magical-type pets are neutral in the beast/critter/aquatic trifecta, being neither hard nor easy to level in the early areas.

Passive abilities

Each type also has a passive ability unique to their type, which can change your opinion.

  • Aquatic pets reduces the duration of DoTs on them by half.
  • Beasts deal extra damage below half health. (A lot more.)
  • Critters reduce the duration of crowd control (stun, sleep, etc.) on them by half.
  • Dragonkin deal extra damage the round after they knock their opponent to 25%.
  • Elementals ignore all weather effects (darkness, burning, snowstorm, etc.)
  • Flying pets gain extra speed above 50% health.
  • Humanoids recover a small pittance of health every time they attack.
  • Magic pets cannot be dealt more than 50% of their health in a single attack.
  • Mechanical pets return to life once per battle, at 25% health.
  • Undead pets return to life for one round when killed.

Moves (like Jagger)

You might also want to take some time and look at the future moves your pet will receive (these are visible in the Pet Journal). While some pets primarily only have moves of the same type that they are (Lil’ Ragnaros basically does only Elemental damage, for instance), some pets are more diverse (the Enchanted Broom, a Magical-type pet, learns moves that do Mechanical, Magical, Flying, and Humanoid-type damage)

Pets learn moves at set levels, regardless of pet - at levels 1, 2, 4, 10, 15, and 20. Pet moves are arranged in pairs (1 & 10, 2 & 15, 4 & 20), and you can only have three at a time readied for battle. You can’t have more than one ability from the same pair, either. Example: the Core Hound Pup learns Howl at level 2 and Dodge at level 15. 2 & 15 are paired, so you can have either Howl or Dodge readied on your pet, but not both. Abilities can be changed outside of battle.

Advice on first pet choice

My advice would be to pick one of the ‘easy’ category pets - or, if there aren’t any you like, one of the neutral ones - for your very first pet. Flying pets are nice because of the early speed boost, while mechanicals can get back up if you overextend yourself in an early battle and get whooped (and many of the mechanical pets, although not all, have a self-repair move available to them early on).

I will probably go with a Mechanical for my first pet - although choosing which one could be tough. Lil’ XT for flavor? Personal World Destroyer because Personal World Destroyer? Perhaps a Mechanical Chicken? (I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t considered a team of Mechanical, Ancona, and Westfall Chicken.)

Covering your a–I mean, weaknesses

One way to build a team after that is to consider what your first pet is weak to. Let’s assume for argument’s sake my first pet is Lil’ Smoky, an all-out offensive mechanical pet. Smoky, unfortunately, has little to deal with elementals - seeing as how the mechanical/elemental relationship is one of the few symmetrical weakness/strength relationships there is, a Lil’ Ragnaros or a Pebble would absolutely tear him to bits. So what takes care of Elementals, hmmm?

  • Aquatic pets deal extra damage to elementals. They also are the most likely to have non-type-specific healing spells!
  • Critters takes less damage from elementals. How convenient - the beasts that a critter is weak are easily handled by a mechanical!

So perhaps I’d pair my Lil’ Smoky with an aquatic friend - perhaps Mojo, whose Cleansing Rain heals my whole team for a little, strengthens Aquatic pets, AND makes DoTs even shorter.

But in the end…

There is absolutely no reason you have to put this much thought into pet battle team building. I just do it because I like to, but you know what? If you want to storm the field with Grunty, Lurky, and Murkimus the Gladiator, don’t let me - or anyone else - tell you not to. Sure, there might be times you hit a difficult patch of leveling, or you get whooped in a completely anonymous pet battle from the queue. So what? This is a totally fun thing to do in your downtime; pick yourself back up, heal your battle pets, and get back to the serious business of having fun.

Much like that other pet battling game, there is room for both serious nerd-core theorizing and pedal-to-the-metal, f*ck-you-I-do-what-I-want fun in pet battles. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Even me.

I’ll see you - with Team Chicken Power!

Let’s Define Account-wide: An Answer to Some FAQs

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Look THIS up in your Funk & Wagnall's

There’s still a lot of confusion floating around about what mounts, achievements, and pets are going account wide. Based on two things:

  1. Things Blizzard has said
  2. Actual first-hand beta experience

Here’s what you can expect. Point your friends at this if they ask.

An important note

Account-wide, in this case, truly means account-wide. Heirlooms and other physical items are not truly ‘account-wide’ because of limitations in the mail system in-game. There are no such limitations on mounts, pets, and achievements.


  • PvP mounts, according to Blizzard, will not be account-wide. The TBC end-of-season drakes and the rated battleground mounts were account-wide for a while, but I would not count on that sticking around until live.
    • The definition of ‘PvP mount’ seems to explicitly mean mounts awarded from PvP, not those bought with honor. My warlock’s Frostwolf Howler has been account-wide since the beginning of the beta, and still is.
  • Class-specific mounts will not be account-wide. No Monks on Felsteeds, Rogues on Chargers, or Shamans with Swift Flight Form. This does include the Winged Steed of the Ebon Blade.
  • Faction mounts will be account-wide for the same faction only, but they will not work across faction lines. If you’re an orc buy a Timber Wolf, all of your Horde characters will have a Timber Wolf, but your Alliance characters will not.
  • Profession-made mounts will be account-wide, but if it requires a specific level of skill to ride, like a flying machine, you will be unable to ride it unless you have the requisite skill. (On the other hand, this means if you have multiple engineers or tailors, you only need to craft one set of flying machines or carpets.)
  • Guild rep mounts will be account-wide. They were briefly not account-wide, but Blizzard reverted this change the very next build.


(Disclaimer: It’s really hard to test some of this based on the fact that Blizzard still doesn’t copy achievement histories to the beta; it seems to generate a new one on that server. That said, this is what they’ve told us.)

  • Achievements, in general, will be account-wide.
  • Feats of Strength, in general, will be account-wide.
  • New achievements are being added that have to be account-wide because of what they require you to do. Examples include Double Agent and Quintessential Quintet.
  • Achievement progress for meta-achievements will be account-wide. A meta-achievement is an achievement whose completion requires you to complete other achievements - examples include For the Children or Explore Kalimdor
    • What does this mean? Well, if you’ve got, say, one character who has completed half of the requirements of For the Children and another who has completed the other half, when account-wide achievements go live, you will complete For the Children.
  • Achievement progress for normal, non-meta achievements will not be account-wide, with one known exception. Examples include Explore Thousand Needles and Iron Dwarf, Medium Rare (10 player).
    • What does this mean? Let’s say you’ve got two characters, Joewarlock and Joepaladin. Joewarlock has 4 dwarves in his Iron Dwarf, Medium Rare progress bar, and Joepaladin has 7. When account-wide achievements go live, you will not have 11 - Joewarlock will still have 4, and Joepaladin will still have 7.
    • I mentioned there was one exception - honorable kill requirement achievements (such as 250000 Honorable Kills). These are tallied collectively across your characters.


  • We now have details on the account-wide pet process. Of note: the Guild Page, Guild Herald, Argent Squire, and Argent Gruntling will not be account-wide. Also, pets only summonable by one faction (such as Horde/Alliance Balloons and your faction’s version of the moonkin hatchling) will appear in the panel but be greyed-out.
  • If you are planning to get into Pet Battles, you will only have to level your pets once. If you level your Murkimus the Gladiator to level 20 on Joepaladin, Joewarlock will have access to the same level 20 Murkimus.
  • Shameless plug: I’m giving away a Sand Scarab loot code. You, too, can have one of these babies account-wide.

Contest: Name a Pet, Win a Pet!

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It's so... glowy

I’ve mentioned on this blog a couple times recently how I’m looking forward to taming a water strider once two things happen: my hunter gains the ability to tame exotic pets, and Mists of Pandaria arrives. Specifically, the big, gangly fen striders from Zangarmarsh - which, come 5.0.4, will be tamable!

However, I always have a problem when it comes to new pets: naming my pets.

Meanwhile, I also have in my possession, due to picking up a Tomb of the Forgotten epic set, a couple of unscratched Sand Scarab loot cards. Can you see where this is going?

Contest time!

This contest is going to run for a little over two weeks - until 11:59:59 PM EST on August 31st, to be exact. Here’s all you have to do: submit a name for my new pet water strider (specifically the blue one) in the comments on this post before the deadline. That’s it!

My two favorite entries will both win a code redeemable for one Sand Scarab pet (you can click the link above to see how it looks), and then after some deliberation I’ll name my Water Strider one of those names. The other name? The other one will be used to rename Legs, the Water Strider minipet!

Alright - get creative, and win yourself a new pet bug for pet battles!

Emptying My Bucket

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This bucket is sturdy enough to hold lava

August 28th (and patch 5.0.4) will be upon us in one short week, and Mists of Pandaria itself roughly a month later. A lot of talk’s been going on in the WoW blogosphere about Cataclysm bucket lists (for quite a while now, in fact), and if anyone’s going to jump onto the tail end of a trend and ride it like a bucking bronco, it’s me.

Thing is, I think I’ve already done most of my bucket list in time for Mists. I just need the expansion to show up now because this, really, is what’s left.

  • Finish my monk prep checklist. This is, as of a few days ago, done. My monk is ready to roll.✓

  • Get the Tol Barad mounts. Drake’s on my DK, wolf’s on my paladin. Soon both will be on everyone. ✓

  • Get 100 mounts. I am painfully close to finishing this - assuming my numbers are right, and they could be a little bit off because Warcraft Mounts doesn’t actually have Armory import capabilities, I’ve got about 99 mounts. Some are class specific, of course, but that works out to about 2 for each of my mains, so it should be 99 regardless. This means I just need to get 1 more mount, and the good news is, there’s lots of mounts I can get without counting on random drops: Dark Phoenix, Kor’kron Annihilator, Venomhide Ravasaur - heck, I could just go buy the Red Drake. (In retrospect, I should probably just buy the Red Drake.) I’m also a mere two achievements from getting one of my Ulduar drakes, and there’s all the expensive multi-seal mounts from the Argent Tournament (I have all the 5-seal + 500g ones). So this isn’t done - but it’s really, really close; so close I consider it finished. ✓

  • Hit exalted with the guild. This is painfully slow; it was easier when I was running Tol Barad daily, but now that I can’t stomach that place (not even for the seagull or the promise of a Fox Kit), I’ve taken to running the Cataclysm zones I didn’t do on my Death Knight for gold and guild rep - namely all of them. (I seriously did 80-83 in Hyjal, 84-85 in Deepholm.) I’m getting there - I’m about halfway to exalted, and usually hit the cap each week. However, a relatively unheralded change in Mists has been the uncapping of guild rep as well as the enormous amounts of it; rather than 60-80 per quest, think 400. I’ve also heard the cap was removed - the guild rep cap has always been a stupid idea - which means if this goes in with 5.0.4 as it is, I’ll be able to finish it before Mists of Pandaria. I have every reason to believe it’ll go in at that time; it’s a systems change, which is what the pre-expansion patch is for.

Oh yeah, the other reason I want to do this is because I’ll singlehandedly finish United Nations for the guild (apparently no one else has all four goblin cities plus Ravenholdt, go figure).

  • Finish up the Molten Front.


Check. ✓ (To be fair I haven’t gotten the scorchling - but I got the mount, the title, and the boatload of achievements, and that’s all what I was really after.)

  • Get my hunter to level 69 so she can tame exotic beasts. Getting close. She’s 63, and very close (~15%) to dinging 64, but Outland ennui is starting to set in. Or maybe it’s just Hellfire Peninsula? Either way, I’m just about done with that joint, so I can go hang out in Zangarmarsh and stare at the bog striders and be like


After that I’ll be leveling her more because I really, really want to tame Ban’thalos. ✓

  • Get the character who will be RAFing wih my monk to 10. That way he can meet him when he stops off the island. Done. ✓

So what’s on your list? Is there anything specific you’re trying to get done before 5.0 or before Mists itself? Are you just fooling around waiting on the expansion to drop?

Well-dressed for a Date With Algalon

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When word went out that we were toying with the idea of doing Herald of the Titans in TTGF, a few thoughts immediately went through my head after I volunteered my priest, Grendan. I originally volunteered as shadow with a holy offspec as necessary, but now I’m just going to be holy on Algalon.

Which means my raid doesn’t have to put up this this looming behind them.

Which means my raid doesn't have to put up with this looming behind them

  1. A holy priest? What am I, a madman? I haven’t healed since playing a holy paladin in T11.
  2. What am I going to wear?!

Luckily, I can fix the second one. Grendan is a Scroll of Resurrection-boosted tauren priest, which meant that unlike usual (where I have to bemoan the fact that I did a lot of quests pre-transmog because now I can’t go back and get those rewards) he had literally the entire game open to him to choose from. So I set myself a little challenge - other than the few green drops I legitimately got from killing things, to make a transmog outfit entirely of quest rewards. Mostly I didn’t want to spend too much time on my Herald in old raids and dungeons and such when I could be spending time on him trying to actually gear him for the fight with Algalon - this is basically a little challenge to do in between gear runs.

One bad mothaSHUT YO MOUTH

Well, not only am I a mere five pieces from geared, last night I grabbed the last piece of his transmog outfit. Huzzah! This comes from all over the place, and unfortunately includes a few Horde-specific pieces, so it’s not universal.

I Got (Navi)spammed

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I wore my Sunday best.

Normally on my morning dailies run I have basically no company other than, occasionally, Rades staying up entirely too late. This morning I had a visitor! Very unexpected. Navimie from the Daily Frostwolf popped by for a visit and happened to catch me as the only person online at the time. How convenient!

Somewhere to our right, Vargoth is browsing his bookshelves.

Anyway, I grabbed my copy of The Schools of Arcane Magic - Mastery and with a quick summon, the two of us popped off to hang out in Archmage Vargoth’s retreat. He seemed entirely into his books (and in being home instead of being an image), so the two of us took pictures instead.

It’s neat to have fans. It’s even better when they show up to visit!

and the troll /blush animation is extremely silly

Thanks Navi! That made my morning, even more than getting silly achievements. ;)

There’s RNG and Then There’s RNG

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So this morning I finally finished Death From Above.


This got me to thinking about ‘good RNG’ vs. ‘bad RNG’ when it comes to achievements.

Good RNG

Good RNG is like a good lab experimemnt: it only depends on one factor. An example would be Just Another Day in Tol Barad. This can really be thought of as two sub-achievements: the quests from the Tol Barad Peninsula and the quests from Tol Barad itself. The good news is, though, this really only depends on one thing: which dailies are available. Haven’t seen a daily on the peninsula side yet? Just keep going back, you’ll see it eventually. Haven’t seen a daily on Tol Barad proper? Keep checking back for your side to win. Even if you defend successfully, this can still cause your dailies to change.

In short, the best RNG-based dailies (for certain definitions of the word “best”) are the ones you can overcome with sheer determination, doggedly returning every day. The only thing you’re really trying to overcome is a pseudorandom number generator (which is a whole other can of worms). This does, despite the fact that Narci will probably kill me for calling it “good” in any way, shape, or form, include Lost in the Deeps, required for Rock Lover. There’s no extra steps required other than opening the Therazane daily: you just show up, see if Lost in the Deeps is there, and if not, you come back tomorrow.


Now let’s look at Death From Above. On the surface this seems much the same: shoot the randomly-spawning elemental bosses while running a bombing mission. However, the very structure of the Molten Front precludes this being good RNG. Let’s look at the steps required:

  1. You have to have unlocked at least the Druids of the Talon in the Molten Front. If you unlocked the Shadow Wardens, you can’t access the required quest at all.
  2. You have to choose to do the Druids of the Talon dailies every day to even have a shot at it. The first quest is still exceptionally irritating.
  3. Each day, you’ll have one of two possible dailies from Morthis Whisperwing: either one of three where you steal a fire hawk egg, or one where you run a bombing mission. If you steal an egg, you do a bombing mission the next day. Simple as that.

Seems fine, right? Now let’s throw a twist into it.

  1. Early on (possibly in PTR, I forget when it was changed), the elementals only spawned one at a time. At some point it was changed to spawning three at a time. This would seem like good news, except…
  2. When the elementals were changed to spawning in threes, they were separated into two sets, and what you actually get is a random set of elementals each day - either Ragepyre, Blazefury, and Singeslayer, or Heatflayer, Flashfire, and Hatespark. And then, on top of that…
  3. The set of elementals does not change every day.

The latter portion, by itself, would be fine. If I could do the bombing mission every day but I stood a chance of not seeing the elementals I needed, oh well. I finish the bombing mission and move on. However, you can’t do it this way - basically, you have to hope that on the day you can do the bombing run, that the elementals you need are up, and if not, you have to try again two days later, when it’s entirely possible they’re up again. It’s RNG behind a gate that doesn’t allow you to keep trying. It tells you to piss off, come back two days later.

It’s a pretty terrible design, and I’m a bit worried we’ll see it again in Mists, since out of the 300 or so daily quests, only 40-something will be available each day. Here’s hoping the ones you need are up.

Afterword: The trick to forcing this achievement into completion

Note: if you’re still working on opening all the portions of the Molten Front, this will slow you down (not by a lot, if you can knock it out in a day or two, but if you’re unlucky, this could lose you a lot of seals). If you’re all done, though, carry on. Most of you are likely done with this place by now.

  1. Do the first Druids of the Talon daily, Into the Fire. Turn it in to Thisalee Crow, take her two followup quests, and complete them - Flamewakers of the Molten Flow and Fire Flowers. If Anren is down there with a quest (Hounds of Shannox), take and do that too. Turn them all in.
  2. If Fire in the Skies is available, great! Take a run, see if the elementals you need are up. If so, bomb them. If that makes all six for you, finish the quest and turn it in. If not, don’t even bother bombing anything else - just press the button that sends you back to the Front.
  3. Complete all the other quests from the Druids of the Talon but do not turn in or abandon Fire in the Skies. Note that not turning in Fire in the Skies will keep you from getting Strike at the Heart. Unavoidable, unfortunate, but true.
  4. The next day, pick up Into the Fire again, complete it, and do not turn it in. Leave it in your quest log. Don’t even go downstairs to see Thisalee. Just run straight to Morthis Whisperwing on the back of the Furnace.
  5. As long as you have both Into the Fire (it must be completed) and Fire in the Skies in your quest log, you can keep returning to the Furnace and riding the fire hawk. Treat it just like step 2 - if the three you need are up, bomb them, if not, return to the Molten Front; if you’re finished with the achievement, finish the quest. I’ve tested this across multiple days and across a server reset - I never had a problem with the bird despawning or the fires re-appearing; if you do, well, bad luck, but you can at least keep this going for seven straight days if necessary.

Doing this means you’re usually going to be doing How Hot and Territorial Birds every day. Anren seems to appear down by Thisalee if you need to steal an egg. Tholo sends you to measure the temperature of lava if you bomb that day. (P.S. Tholo: lava’s temperature is ‘really frigging hot.’) You cannot, as mentioned, get Strike at the Heart, nor can you do any of the Shadow Wardens quests. Hopefully you’ll be able to knock this out in a day or two and not lose a ton of seals!

Glyph Conversion Chart

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I know I’ve heard some concern about glyphs becoming charred crap like some did in the Wrath to Cataclysm conversion, and while I hadn’t seen it myself, the best way to verify things is to look at the data. But clicking on every glyph on Wowhead and then checking its ID on MOP.Wowhead sounds like a lot of work, and crafting one of every glyph on live and character transferring sounds like a lot of wasted materials. So I whipped up a script to give me side-by-side comparisons of glyphs on Cata vs. glyphs on Mists.

And then I made it into a page.

DISCLAIMER: There is some data weirdness on Wowhead’s end, and I’m not sure if it’s them or if it’s in the actual data. It consists of basically two things:

  1. Glyphs appear in the list twice. This seems to almost exclusively happen with brand new glyphs, and there’s usually one in each class that’s also subject to–
  2. Some glyphs claim to be on live that most definitely are not available there, like Glyph of the Blazing Trail. This just seems like weird data cross-pollination and can be ignored.

The Hobo Transmog Game

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Your local auction house's discount section is now your new wardrobe.

Yesterday, while bored, I played around with my newly-85 shaman’s wardrobe a bit. I knew I was going to be entering dungeons with him soon (more for the JP than anything) and wanted to transmog his gear, as the level 85 greens and blues he came out of Twilight Highlands with were a bit… boring? His own selection was a bit low on variety (basically his level 80 gear and then some random junk I kept in case I decided to ever go enhancement), so I decided to play a little game: the Hobo Transmog Game. Now you can too!

  1. Go to the AH.
  2. For every moggable, visible piece of gear - if you don’t usually use visible helmets and cloaks you might want to do so for variety and lulz - bring up that category on the AH, with the only criteria being a minimum of Uncommon quality.
  3. Buy the cheapest item. Don’t look at it. Just buy it.
  4. Collect your new ‘outfit’, go to your friendly neighborhood ethereals, and transmog yourself into it.

Hobo pants!

This will often cost you no more a handful of gold (or less if you get lucky!), but it has all kinds of benefits.

  1. The results are often pretty humorous.
  2. You’ll get to see items you might have never considered for an outfit otherwise.
  3. Occasionally you get some really neat matches - for instance, my shoulders and my cloak actually match really well, despite being totally random choices nearly 40 item levels apart, and could easily be the foundation of an orangish-gold “real” transmog outfit. The Mail Combat Headguard is also a really neat headband-style helmet, suitable for a lot of shaman-ish mogs.
  4. You might be providing gold to some lowbie trying to sell some random greens or something.
  5. Now you have blog post fodder.

Just for fun, after chatting about it on Twitter with Rades, I decided to see what would happen if he took his normally impeccably-dressed death knight for a spin. The results are… not totally awful!

Morgion looks like some kind of Undercity guard.

Those are actually some really neat axes - Morgion, in that outfit, would look like an NPC that I would not be totally surprised to see inside of an instance, or perhaps a questgiver of some kind.

So! Go forth, make hobo transmogs, take screenshots, write blog posts. Let’s make the Hobo Transmog Game a thing! A fun thing!

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