Heroes of the Storm: Warcraft Skin References Part 2

5 Feb 19



Heroes of the Storm: Warcraft Skin References Part 2

Part 2 of taking an in-depth look at the pop culture references found in Heroes of the Storm.

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Welcome to Part 2 of the ongoing skins guide for Heroes of the Storm! One of the great things about Blizzard is how they aren’t shy about making references to various things that have influenced them or making inside jokes with the various characters of the game through easter eggs with things like character poke quotes, /dance animations or other assorted references like quest titles, flavor text for items and other small details.

Heroes of the Storm is no different. Described as a “love letter to the fans”, the game is a great mash-up of other Blizzard titles, references to a multitude of other sources such as other video games, movies, TV shows or comic books and this article series is going to attempt to document as many of them as possible!

If you haven't had the chance yet, you can check out Part One here.


There’s a lot of things to talk about with Chen, I’ll start off with his base skin that has a couple of minor details. To start with, Blizzard’s senior art director, Samwise Didier, has a signature mark that he puts on things in games that he’s worked on over the years, which you can see on Chen’s keg.

The other small detail has Chen with green eyes on his base skin while his other 2 tints feature him with orange colored eyes. While this might seem like a rather innocuous detail to point out, I did want to bring this to attention because I did come across one of Heroes of the Storm’s artists, Phill Gonzalez, talking about the art direction where he says that “stuff like eye color really comes into play here.” (The reason why Chen has different eyes is due to cultural concerns, as green eyes are considered to be a sign of demonic possession in some Asian cultures.)

Chen’s Jade tint could be a nod to the Monk class color in World of Warcraft. For example, Rogues are color coded yellow, Paladins are color coded pink, and Monks have the color jade green. It might be that or simply just that Chen seems to have an affinity to the color green.

The Crimson tint, meanwhile, might be a nod to Chen’s Warcraft 3 roots as the default color for the Pandaren Brewmaster was red, as you can see with their animations. Alternatively, this tint might be a nod to Mangix from the original DOTA, and this could be reflected with a red costume that Mangix has in DOTA 2.

As for his master skins, the Durotar skin is a reference to Chen helping Thrall found Orgrimmar in Warcraft 3, as Durotar is the newbie zone for orc and troll characters in Warcraft 3 and the orangish-red color palette used for this skin is similar to the colors used for Durotar.

The Krasari skin references the Krasarang Wilds zone in Pandaria, which uses a lot of purples. As well, there’s the Wanderer’s Festival, which is an in-game party in World of Warcraft that Chen actually shows up for.

The Brewmaster skin is pretty much a one-for-one for how Chen appears in the Mists of Pandaria cinematic, right down to the orange eyes and damaged hat. The Warmaster skin, on the other hand, may be drawing upon two different sources.

The first being how Brewmasters were originally depicted in the beta for The Frozen Throne expansion, the change coming about due to how the original model was perceived to be Japanese in appearance, despite the panda’s strong association with China. You can also see some elements from this concept art show up in Chen’s master skin, specifically with the spear he uses.

The second influence would be an old piece of concept art depicting a Panderan Bell Warden, which you can mostly see reflected with the weapon Chen is using, as well as his hat.


Cho’gall’s base skin features the sigil of the Twilight’s Hammer on his codpiece, which was an orc clan and later humanoid cult that exists in the Warcraft universe. His default color of purple is a color long associated with him, going all the way back to the Warcraft II days.

The Ogre-Magi skin is a lore accurate depiction of how ogre-magi are depicted in the Warcraft universe, as they almost always have blue skin, while the Highmaul tint seems to be drawing upon concept art of ogres that was done up around the time of the Warlords of Draenor expansion and might have been intended as a hidden preview, which is something we’ll be seeing with other Warcraft characters as we go through this series.

His master skin references an old Vanilla dungeon set for Warlocks with the hood and shoulder piece that Gall is wearing: the Dreadmist Raiment. The warlock references continue with Cho’Gall’s Corruptor skin as it references the tier 5 raid set, the Corruptor’s Raiment. There’s a fun lore touch with the flavor text of this skin as it references the Shadow Council, which was a group led by Gul’dan that Cho’gall was also a member of.


A lot of Chromie’s tints for her base and master skins reference Warcraft stuff. For example, the Red and Green Dragonflights are referenced with the Ruby and Emerald tints and the color palette being used with the Ruby tint might be borrowing from the Magister’s Regalia, which is another Vanilla World of Warcraft set, this time for mages.

The Leper and Dark Iron tints reference enemies in World of Warcraft: the Leper Gnomes that can be found in Gnomeregan and the Dark Iron Dwarves that can be found in dungeons such as Blackrock Depths and have become a playable race in Battle for Azeroth, and finally, the Lil Ming tint is pretty clearly a nod to Li Ming.

Moving on to the Dream Genie skin, it’s pretty clearly a nod to the old 1960s sitcom, I Dream of Jeannie, and the Verdant tint might be a nod to Jeannie’s evil twin from the same show as the hair and outfit both match up pretty closely. If this is the case, this is a pretty cool reference, although a fairly obscure one.


There is a lot to unpack with ETC, as there are a TON of details tucked into virtually all of his skins. To start off with, his default skin and appearance is very clearly based off of Dimebag Darrell, the guitarist for the metal bands Pantera and Damage Plan. There are a lot of little details that have gone into this reference.

ETC’s goatee is dyed pink, much like how Dimebag himself used to dye his goatee, the two guitars that are strapped on his back resemble two guitars that Dimebag was famous for playing -- a ‘79 Dean ML, which shares a lightning bolt paint job in both real life and on the skin and a custom guitar he designed called the Razorback.

His master skin is often seen as a reference to black or death metal, as ETC’s facepaint is very similar to that of Abbath, leadman of the band of the same name as well as formerly of Immortal, but I happen to think that the Dimebag references continue here.

You see, Dimebag was a massive KISS fan, to the point where he had the likeness of KISS’s guitarist, Paul Stanley, tattooed onto his chest and the outfit and colors used for ETC here are very reminiscent of KISS. Also, the guitars on ETC’s back are very similar to real world guitars, one of them is similar to the Silverstone Flying V, which was a Paul Stanley custom, while the other guitar looks like the Epiphone Graveyard Disciple.

Moving onto the Pure Country skin, there’s a couple of things going on here. First, two of the tints appear to be modelled after famous album covers from country megastar Garth Brooks. The Checked and Striped tints resemble shirts that Garth wore on his albums In Pieces and Ropin’ The Wind respectively and would make sense thematically for ETC as Garth Brooks is notorious for taking a lot of his stage elements and persona from rock ‘n roll.

The default tint, on the other hand, looks like it may be modelled on old school country crooners like Glen Campbell, but I think that the name of the skin -- Pure Country -- might be a hint to another reference, as I think ETC’s shirt and appearance is very similar to that of George Strait from the 90s film Pure Country.

Finally, the back of ETC’s guitar case features a stick for “Big Sky, MT”, which is probably a reference to Big Sky, Montana, a place which hosts a rather famous Professional Bull Riders event. Rodeo and country music tend to be pretty closely linked together, so it makes sense to have a reference. The other sticker references BlizzCon 2005, which was the first live performance of Elite Tauren Chieftain.

Next up is the Glam Metal skin which also has a number of references going on here. The first is with ETC’s guitar, which is a stylized Horde symbol that mirrors the symbol of The Artists Formerly Known As Level 80 Elite Tauren Chieftains (TAFKAL8ETC), which is one of Blizzard’s house bands. The name and symbol both reference Prince, who due to legal disputes, adopted the symbol as his name and went by the moniker “The Artist Formerly Known As Prince.” Which is cute, because the Azure tint for this skin matches an outfit that Prince wore when he appeared on the Super Bowl Halftime Show back in 2006.

The Leopard tint for this skin is probably a pun referencing Def Leppard, while the Platinum tint is referencing Eddie Van Halen as he wore a similar colored outfit and has dark colored hair, close to what ETC is sporting here. Lastly, one of the guitars on ETC’s back references other stuff. First, it could be yet another Dimebag reference, as Dimebag would often wear a necklace with a razorblade on it. Second, it could be another Eddie Van Halen reference, as the square body of the guitar resembles a guitar Eddie used called the Steinberger. Or, it could be a reference to 80s metal band Judas Priest and their album British Steel, which featured a razorblade as part of the cover art.

Next up is the L800 ETC, whose origins go all the way back to Wings of Liberty-era Starcraft II as it was originally an April Fool’s prank by Blizzard before later being incorporated in as an Easter egg and then later as the original conception of ETC back in the Blizzard DOTA days. From there, the 54 that is on ETC’s shoulder also shows up on a lot of Blizzard art assets and references one of Blizzard’s art pens, which is called the 54 and the seven tick marks that are on the back of ETC’s model here might be referencing all of his known appearances up to this point, but given that this little flourish shows up on a couple of other skins in Heroes of the Storm, I think that this is just a signature mark left by one of Blizzard’s artists.

The Horde tint is thematically appropriate for ETC as Taurens are a part of the Horde, but I think that this skin is also visually similar to the Marvel Comics character Iron Man. This would also double as another cute pun from Blizzard as “Iron Man” is also a song by metal pioneers Black Sabbath. The 05 on ETC’s shoulder here might also be another reference to the first public live performance of the Elite Tauren Chieftain, which was at BlizzCon 2005.

There’s a couple of FPS references with two of the tints for this skin. The “Shock” tint might be referencing Gordon Freeman’s HEV suit from the Halflife series, as it featured an electrical shield which could be “shocking,” and the 71 on this tint’s shoulder could be an obtuse reference to City 17. On the other hand, the Doombringer tint is anything but ambiguous, as it is clearly a reference to the Doom Guy from the Doom series as ETC is pretty much a dead ringer with this tint, and the numbers on this tint reference the naming scheme for maps in the original Doom. E1M1, for example, would reference Episode 1, Map 1.

Finally, there are a couple of Blizzard crossover references with the Spectre tint, which is one of many Spectre-themed tints that reference the unit from Starcraft II, while the Angelic tint is most likely a reference to the Angels from the Diablo universe.

And last but not least for ETC is the El Mariachi skin, which is probably a reference to the Robert Rodriguez El Mariachi film trilogy, with the guitar case being a reference to Antonio Banderas’ character from the 1995 film Desperado. Also, the Festival tint is most certainly referencing the Mexican holiday Day of the Dead where a lot of the iconography for this skin seems to have originated from, as purple and yellow are colors that are strongly associated with this skin.

I hope you enjoyed Part 2 of this series! Let us know what you think and if we missed any references! Cheers!

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