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Quick scenario before my question(s): I bought WoW right when the WotLK came out - Toys'R'Us was running a ridiculous Black Friday sale where I nabbed WoW and the two expansions for around $50. I figured what the heck, I'd give the game a try. I started with my free month with a Drawf Priest (perhaps not knowing any better) on a RPPvP realm. It was fun, but I didn't experience as much interaction and party questing as I had figured. After my month trial I didn't renew and just went on with other games to fill my spare time, it was fun, but not $13-$15 per month fun. Blizzard, apparently trying to ramp up sales for Cata, offerred me a free 7 days of game time. So I reinstalled and am deciding to give it another shot:

Questions for the gaming.se crowd who are WoW players:

  1. What advice would you give to someone starting out with WoW in general? I'm a bit of a casual gamer - getting somewhere between 7-14 hours a week of gaming and just want to have fun.
  2. What's the best place or resource to find other gamers to quest with, both in-game and out-of-game.
  3. Should I play on a PvP or PvE realm?
  4. What should I be reading online to educate myself on WoW, in general?
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6 Answers 6

up vote 15 down vote accepted

This is a good question for the "un-initiated". Just buy a game card and start playing. Cataclysm is coming but it's a few gigabytes of updates. Blizzard's launcher is pretty smart by pre-downloading content ahead of release, so you can just log on and play when it's officially released. So, to avoid disappointment with Cataclysm. Start downloading now.

PVP or PVE?

With PVP realms, there is a thing called "ganking", (Arqade discussion on ganking here), where groups of players just wait in ambush and just smack you senseless whilst travelling between cities or trying to complete quests for no reason apart from bulling players. If you like that sort of stuff, and want to PVP you can go this route. It does waste a lot of time when you want to go questing/farming and generally getting gear, though.

PVE has battlegrounds where you can engage in PVP play. I prefer PVE because you can get into PVP at your choosing, rather than getting ambushed every 10 minutes. PVE it's just you vs the environment. Not other players. PVE also has duelling. So, you can also pick a fight when you want to.

As a casual gamer. There is a built in quest helper, so this can speed up the grind of going around completing quests. If you're not playing constantly, then there is value in logging off in taverns and major cities, because you gain "rested XP" faster in taverns and cities, rather than logging off in the forests/roads. Rested XP basically is worth double the normal XP from kills and quests. You will level faster that way.

Best guides I have found are these:

Addons

Add-ons are enhancements to your WoW interface that can really improve game play. They have become an industry in itself, although Blizzard discourages people paying for them, you can get them for free.

You can find wow addons on Curse.

I use Auctioneer among others, but a good list of what's popular can be found here. There are class specific addons as well and you can keep them up to date with wowmatrix.

Instances

If you like raiding, I recommend that you get good at the 5 man dungeons (also known as "instances"). The key thing about instances or raids is to know the role you play in the group. It boils down to 3 different types, Damage dealers/Tanks/Healers. They're self explanatory, but Tanks are basically the one player who tries to hold the attention of the big boss you will end up fighting. This is so the damage dealers can kill it, and the healers, well... heal everyone.

Holding their attention, is called "holding threat". As the bosses or any mob you are fighting does a calculation to determine who they should kill, by estimating who presents the biggest threat. So, damage dealers tend to have high threat, because of their DPS (Damage Per Second). Healers can gain threat, because they're keeping everyone very healthy. You can improve your level of threat through talents or buffs. (A buff is like drinking a potion or a beneficial spell that gives you a special attribute for a period of time). You'll learn about which buffs are important to your style of gameplay as you progress. Finally, each instance tends to have anywhere from 3-12 bosses. You don't have to wait til you're level 80 to do raids, you can do them through level ranges of character, but the first one to do would be Stockades in Stormwind (if you're alliance), when you're about level 15, and you should go in with at least one or 2 other players of similar level. You can find dungeon groups through the dungeon finder. There is also a "raid browser". It's all built into WoW. The trade chat channel tends to have lots of offers/requests for player to join raid groups. If you do get hooked on raiding (as I expect you will), better to look for a guild to join because once you start doing 10man or 25 man raids, you need a reliable group of people to run the instances, because random or ad hoc groups can be painful, if you get the wrong group of people together.

Terminology in WoW

Basic dialog/lingo in the trade channel is like this.

LFM = Looking For More. LFG = Looking For Group. GS= gearscore So, someone might say LFM Ony= Looking For More players to do the Onyxia instance. or Say LFM ICC min gs5500 = "Looking for more for Ice Crown citadel, minimum gearscore is 5500". You'll get to know the lingo as chat with people.

Trade chat is global across all cities. But only available in the cities. You can't see trade chat outside of cities.

Also, you might hear about "Gearscore". This relates to the quality of all your gear you wear. Each item you have has an "item level". The higher the item level, the better suited you are for the harder instances. The top item level (pre-cataclysm) is 264.

Gear and Items

You can acquire great gear by making it/buying it/looting it. The auction house can be good in this way to buy gear from other players. You can also buy very exotic gear from special merchants using tokens. There is a large array of currencies for different levels of gear. Blizzard are now unifying it, you got 2 basic "token" currencies, Justice Points and Honor points, (This is different from gold/silver/bronze). You earn them by doing raids or PVP. There is also some gear that you can buy from merchants, by trading other exotic items, but this is the highest level stuff (level 80).

The quality of gear you have determines whether you can do higher level instances. That's what Gearscore works out for you. There is an addon for gearscore. Get it. Players will sometime ask for people who only have a certain level of gear. They're basically trying to keep out the riff-raff, so these can be good raids to get into even though they are ad-hoc. This is common for trying to do ICC (Ice Crown Citadel instance).

At the end of the day, just do whatever you find fun in.

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I'd actually cross-link our own question on Ganking -- I didn't edit it into your post, but you might want to: gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/5727/what-is-ganking –  Raven Dreamer Nov 15 '10 at 5:07
    
I added it .. :) –  giulio Nov 15 '10 at 6:13
    
One comment from me - I would NOT recommend Stockades at level 15, as you've written, especially not with only one or two other players. That's pretty much guaranteed death. A level 15 player could queue up with the Dungeon Finder for Ragefire Chasm, and only a few levels after, the next set of dungeons available (roughly level 18) would be Deadmines and Shadowfang Keep. Stockades is just after those and is generally a level 22-25 endeavor. –  TheQ Nov 15 '10 at 18:50
    
@Q. I know what you mean about "certain death". It is possible with 3 level 15's but you gotta do it slow and careful. Good practice in not pulling too many mobs. The mini-bosses are a bit frightening with 3 but it's good fun.. Actually, I found Hogger to be a pain in the butt... But that was when I'd try and pwn him at level 10-11 with a mate.. –  giulio Nov 16 '10 at 0:12
    
A correction: Turning in quests does not consume rested XP. –  Michael Hampton Mar 25 at 20:40

I would wait until December 7th for cata to begin playing again. You will be leveling with a fresh batch of players and alts, which will make it much more enjoyable, and the whole old world is getting an overhaul which will streamline quests and reduce boredom and tedium.

1) Play what you want to play - Tanks and healers can find groups faster, true, but if you don't enjoy what you're doing in a group then what's the point? 7-14 hours a week is plenty to get 95% of what wow has to offer.

2) Your best bet is getting on a server with a large population. Wow will recommend you join a server with a low population. This might be better for them, but it's not so much for you. You can use http://www.warcraftrealms.com/census.php to figure out what realms are most populated during your usual play times. If you have any real life friends or co-workers or anything that play wow, it might be worth it to go to their server and try to join their guild. Finding an active guild will make the difference between an enjoyable wow experience and a boring one. You can also find guilds via the realm forums on worldofwarcraft.com

3) This is mostly a matter of taste. If you enjoy bullying people around and messing with them and don't mind being messed with, play PvP. If any part of that equation does not sound good to you, play PvE.

4) wow.joystiq.com has lots of newbie friendly articles. I would start reading that every day. Elitestjerks.com has most of the science geeks to figure out what specs and rotations and equipment selections are optimal for all the classes and roles.

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Though to be fair, you'll probably want to avoid EJ for the first little bit - it can be rather overwhelming. –  GalacticCowboy Nov 13 '10 at 18:10
    
Isn't it our duty to give him advice, so he doesn't have to @GalacticCowboy? –  Ivo Flipse Nov 13 '10 at 22:45
    
voted up despite not giving the answer. thanks for your help and insight! –  whaley Nov 15 '10 at 14:50

There's been some cool things posted here, but I thought I'd add a few thoughts.

1) Take a little time to figure out what type of character you feel like playing. You might as well play something you like. Do keep in mind that a Priest isn't likely to be very good at offense, unless you go with a Shadow Priest. If you want to try a little of everything, try a Druid - their shapeshift lets them slip from a healer, to a damager (cat form) to a tank (bear form). Choose 'Feral' once you get to 10th level to be able to improve your animal shapes. (There's also a swim form which can breathe underwater and a 'travel' form that runs fast.) But these days darn near any character class can work well enough on it's own.

2) Check around any other forums you hang out on for an offtopic section, and then search in there for World of Warcraft - it could be that people who share interests with you may already be playing in Wow, and if you play on the same server as them, you can see if they have a guild you can join. Guilds often help out new characters with better equipment (read: bags) and the like. Even if they don't have a guild, it's nice to know some folks on the server who you can chat with.

3) Have some fun with the professions. Skinner/Herbalist is good for picking things up as you go and turning it into money, but lots of other combinations involve gathering something that a second profession turns into cool items, which works for either crafting armor, weapons, potions, or whichever.

4) Take it easy and enjoy yourself. These days WoW has some of the most fun gameplay just wandering around and trying things out. Other than the basic class/race combo, it's pretty easy to change your mind on anything you choose early on - you can retrain professions, you can start a profession when you're level 50 or 70, you can 'respec' and rebuild your character's talents. And there's tons of guides online to help you play - some of them are going to be a little out of date right now that they just blew up the world, but soon they'll correct themselves and be very useful.

Oh, and get the auctioneer addon. It's wonderful.

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I know it's a little late to chime in on this topic now... you're either playing it or not at this point. But I think the biggest thing that will decide how much you enjoy the game is a pvp vs pve server - especially for a casual gamer.

If you're casual, I'd probably go on a PVE server as this will prevent higher level toons/jerks from swooping down from the sky and smacking you dead. This keeps pvp in the battlegrounds and keeps it there unless you want to run around flagged for kicks.

The only argument I can say for a casual gamer going to a PVP server is if you like that sort of suspense of running into the opposing faction at any given time while you're questing. And there is a chance that you could run around being the jerk - swooping out of the sky and smacking lowbies dead... but as a casual gamer, this might not happen for a long while. Plus, I'm not sure how easy that is as a priest.

In short (shorter than all that up there), I'd say plant yourself on a pve server, lvl a toon, and when you get closer to the upper lvls of your bracket (10-19, 20-29, 30-39, etc...) hop in a battleground and have some fun! Pvp can really be a blast unless you're just trying to lvl and some jerk swoops out from the sky and smacks you dead.

Cheers!

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I love the suspense of pvp servers and occassionally being forced to innovate new tactics. Parachute cloaking off a cliff to avoid a ganker ftw! –  Arkive Apr 8 '11 at 14:35
    
hehe - oh yeah. I have a pally w/engineering. Nothing like the rocket belt to catch new prey and escape a beating from 6 incoming opponents. Love that thing! Engineering ftw =] –  Rohjay Apr 8 '11 at 16:51
    
Sounds like ganking is more prolific than I remember it on PVP servers.. Has Blizz modified the WoW to limit this sort of stuff when it becomes bullying ? –  giulio Jul 19 '11 at 1:51
    
Really it's not that bad. Gankings are few and far between. Has Blizz done anything to limit it? Nothing outside of the main cities. Inside the main cities the biggest difference happens to rogues - guards see through vanish now so your only escape is vanish + sprint + run around a corner and then some ={ –  Rohjay Jul 20 '11 at 2:32

One thing not mentioned...look for a casual guild/clan to join to get consistent group questing

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The biggest difference between enjoying your time spent in an MMO or not is the people you are playing with. And the biggest difference maker in finding good people to play with is to find a good guild.

While it is possible to find a good guild in-game, your best bet is to find an established guild outside of WoW itself. Check with any friends or co-workers to see if anyone knows of a good guild. If you are part of an online community, they might have a WoW guild you can join. Having regular people to converse with and get help from can really make a game enjoyable instead of just bearable.

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