Tuesday, March 12, 2013

World of Warcraft Newbie Guide 21: How To Use Wowhead

There comes a time in World of Warcraft (or most other games) when you have no idea what to do. Perhaps you're stuck on a quest or want to farm materials to fuel a profession but have no idea where to get it. While you can choose to explore or use in-game resources, not every inquiry can be answered that easily. Gathering further information can be done by asking questions to other places in-game, on various World of Warcraft-related forums, and by using database sites such as Wowhead. In this article, I will be discussing how to go about using the latter to help with your information fix (specifically with Wowhead).

An Entire Database At Your Disposal...

Here I will go over the various features Wowhead has to offer to make finding the information you need easier as well as some know-how so that deciphering the information isn't the equivalent of writing a 10-page essay.

Basic Search

This is your basic search bar, which is in the center, right above all the tab options (i.e. Database, etc) on the home page or at the top right if you're on a different page. From here you can type something into the search field and press Enter to search. You may receive multiple entries for any given word you search, so specificity helps (you can see suggested entries as you type in a word). Using the basic search is helpful for finding quests and items, NPC names, or other WoW-related objects that you know the specific name of. You can also try to find something (item, NPC, spell, etc) by typing in some of the words you know, though you will often get numerous entries.

If you do get numerous entries, they will be sorted into tabs with categories such as Items, Quests, NPCs, Abilities (class, NPC, or uncategorized), Talents, Specialization, Zones etc. From here you can try to find what you are looking for by clicking each tab. You can highlight entries to see a tooltip (if applicable) that may give you a better hint of whether you found the correct entry or not.

You can also sort entries based on categories. Each sortable subcategory depends on the category of the entry itself (i.e. NPCs have levels as a subcategory). For all categories, you can click the subcategory that the entry is filed under to alphabetically sort (for items it sorts based on item rarity as well).

 Understanding Entries

When you reach an entry, you will see numerous pieces of information related to it. Firstly, you will see all information related to the entry. For instance, if it's a quest, you will see the NPC you get it from and turn it in to, all the quest text, quest rewards, and the zones associated with the quest. For an item you will see the item's tooltip and where you can get it from (in the tabs below). All entries will have a comment and screenshot section below, though they may not have anything since these are submitted by users. However, if there are comments and/or screenshots, you can use the information there to further help you out with understanding the entry (or just laughing at an amusing joke).

The tabs may also have other categorizations, such as "Contains." What is shown below on top of the comments and screenshots depends on the entry itself.

Advanced Search/Categorical Search

Under the Database (or if you're already on a page in the database, it will show as "Browse) tab, you can see various categories of entries. Clicking on such a category (or subcategory associated with the category, if applicable), will bring up a page with every entry under the category/subcategory. However, some categories have many entries and there are only a certain maximum that show up. You can filter these entries to better find an entry that you are looking for. This also allows you to search for something in the database by using more than just the search box.

In this "advanced search," you still get a search box if you want to type something in to try to filter using words or letters. You can also use filters (these largely depend on the category you are searching in) to help find an entry. For instance, with items you can search specific item stats (if applicable), sources (i.e. where you can get the item from), the date the item was added into the game, and so on.

A lot of advanced search is trial and error, however, so this is one feature you really want to spend some time experimenting with, since there's so much that can be done with it.

Talent Trees and Other Utility

In addition to searching the database for various entries, Wowhead features its own talent calculator, which allows you to view and highlight class talents  (classes can be switched on the right), much like in-game. In addition to this, you can view a list of class spells at the bottom (general spells and specialization spells) and fill in glyph slots. This can be helpful if you want to experiment with talent and glyph setups before using them in-game (or for linking to other people, which can be done by copying the link you get when you click the Link button).

On top of the talent calculator, you can use other features, such as the item comparison (compares pieces of gear together, which you can find in the database), the Profiler (essentially the equivalent of the Armory on the main site except with some additional features), and zone maps, among others. You can also go into the Utilities tab to see some database-related options you can view, including Random Page.

All of this can be found in the Tools tab.

Current Events and Other Information

In the News tab, you can see some additional features Wowhead has to offer. For instance, you can see the patch notes dating back to the Burning Crusade. From this tab you can also access Wowhead News, a site that periodically posts articles related to World of Warcraft, such as recent hotfixes, interviews, and the like.

Like numerous web sites, Wowhead has a forum with numerous boards, mostly related to World of Warcraft. While you need an account to post on the forums, if you need help that the database can't answer for you or want to converse with other users, then you should feel free to do so.

While I can't (or probably shouldn't) give you much advice on the usage of the forums beyond obeying the forum rules, I will say that if you need help, post it in the WoW Help board (or at least a board related to the topic that isn't WoW General, such as a class forum if it's a class-related question). WoW General is generally unhelpful and intolerant of "stupid questions" and the like (I know I'm putting it very harshly, but it's true).

Besides that, if you do join the forums (even though ironically a lot of people reading this are probably existing users due to the fact there's a link to this site in my signature), feel free to drop by Off-Topic and say hi.

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