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I am new to this whole Warcraft/WoW world. I see there are different versions, like Warcraft, Warcraft III, World of Warcraft. I am a total newbie at this. Where should I start playing? I want to be able to play on a server as well as alone at home. I understand that World of Warcraft can only be played online. Is it so?

I want a version which I can play both online and at home. I do not want two different versions as I am not a full time gamer. Just play occasionally.

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Warcraft: Orcs & Humans. You just need to find an old PC with MS-DOS and a diskette drive – Dan Grossman Feb 3 '11 at 7:05
@DanGrossman: WarCraft: Orcs & Humans had a CD version. I actually own said version of the game. – user2974 Feb 3 '11 at 7:15
It also came on 4 floppies, and it's much more enjoyable installing vintage games from floppies. You're going to ruin his experience. – Dan Grossman Feb 3 '11 at 7:17
@Dan Grossman: My current PC doesn't have a floppy drive but I do have an old Pentium II laying around in basement. Seems like a nice weekend project to revive it. – user6809 Feb 3 '11 at 8:10
@6packkid He did not object to my choice of pronoun 31 months ago. – Dan Grossman Sep 24 '13 at 8:45
up vote 18 down vote accepted

WarCraft 1-3 and World of WarCraft are set in the same world but are different types of games.

WarCraft 1-3 are Real-time Strategy (RTS) games. These can be played standalone, or online in groups of up to 12.­­­    

WarCraft 1 was on diskette and CD and was released for DOS.

WarCraft 2 and its expansion Beyond the Dark Portal were on diskette and CD. They were originally released for DOS, but both were later ported to Windows 95/98 as Warcraft II: Battle.NET Edition.

WarCraft 3 was on CD. It was released for Windows, and is currently purchasable as the WarCraft Battle Chest (not to be confused with the World of WarCraft Battle Chest) or separate digital downloads for the original game and its expansion Frozen Throne through Blizzard's online store.

World of WarCraft is a Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG). It can only be played online on servers with thousands of other players... and has a monthly subscription fee.

WoW and its 5 expansions, 6 as of the 30th of august 2016 (Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King,Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor and Legion) are purchasable in both stores and as a digital download in Blizzard's online store. Consider looking for these in actual stores, as Blizzard charges a lot for the digital versions.

The World of Warcraft Battle Chest contains the classic game, The Burning Crusade, Wrath of The Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria and as of the 30th of August 2016 it'll also contains Warlords of Draenor

Which you want to start with depends on what type of game you want to play.

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As I said I want a game with both online and stand alone play mode, I guess I'll be going with WarCraft 3. Thanks! – user6809 Feb 3 '11 at 8:12
It's sad that does game cannot be bought anymore, I'm glad I still have my battlechest with warcraft I, II, II expansion. Sad is I don't have bnet. – DogDog Feb 3 '11 at 17:31
Agreed that Warcraft III is still an excellent place to start. It gives you a great amount of the storyline and fills you in on a few details you might have missed from the earlier Warcraft games. Plus, Warcraft III is much more accessible as it can actually be installed and run on a modern computer without compatibility issues. – Lotus Notes May 20 '11 at 20:28
@CarlClover: The fact that it can be installed and run on a modern Windows PC without compatibility issues is because Microsoft put a lot of effort into maintaining compatibility with it. War3 had severe issues with Vista when it came out until app compatibility updates came out. Then for a while, videos didn't work. – user2974 May 20 '11 at 23:25
Interesting, Microsoft specifically did extra work so a particular game could run? Also as a side note, I recall Blizzard released a Warcraft III patch somewhat recently that was aimed at letting the videos run in newer versions of windows. Gotta love Blizzard for still patching their old games like War3 and D2 :) – Lotus Notes May 20 '11 at 23:59

Plot wise you'd play Warcraft 3 and it'x expansion before World of Warcraft because Warcraft 3: The Frozen Throne has a number of events which are expanded on in World of Warcraft ie.

  • The Blood Elves who are introduced only in The Frozen Throne come to be because of the destruction of the Elven homeland in Warcraft 3's campaign

  • Wrath of the Lich King expasion in World of Warcraft takes place after the undead campaign on The Frozen Throne

To my knowledge the expansion to Warcraft 2 hinted at elements of Warcraft 3's plot but i never completed it and likewise with the main game, i am unsure of Warcraft but if Warcraft 2 plot wise is before Warcraft 3 and all the Warcraft games have a single plot line (unlike Fate/ which has numerous plot lines) then i would assume Warcraft would be your first choice to start.

however, that being said, Warcraft 1 and 2 are quite old, Warcraft you'd probably need DOSBox to play. Warcraft 3 and it's expansion will be easier to to get legally, if you can't get Warcraft 1 and 2 i'd suggest searching for a Warcraft Wiki and looking in that for the plot of those games.

Warcraft 1 - 3 are all single player and shouldn't need a net connection in order to play, ofcause World of Warcraft being an MMORPG you require a constant connection.

I should note that this answer only focuses on plot, taking into no regard what genre you want to play

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The plot of Warcraft covers the original dark portal and the razing of Stormwind (which later in WoW leads to the Defias quests). You can also see some elements of this in the Swamp of Sorrows quests along with a bit of WC2, and I guess the upcoming Warlords of Draenor expansion (at least in terms of the orc cast). The WC2 expansion mostly ties in to the Burning Crusade expansion and not so much with WC3 at all. – Troyen Jul 24 '14 at 5:25

Warcraft 1-3 are campaign games with a specific timeline that you follow. World of warcraft is a MMORPG that you have free reign to do whatever you want.

I grew up with Warcraft. I played Warcraft1-3 before I got into WoW. I understood the history and everything and it made WoW solo much more enjoyable. I highly recommend it.

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