World of Warcraft: A Beginner's Guide

©2006 Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. All rights reserved. The Burning Crusade is a trademark, and World of Warcraft and Blizzard Entertainment are trademarks or registered trademarks of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.

When a brand-new "World of Warcraft" (WoW) character steps into the virtual land of Azeroth, the world doesn't usually seem all that threatening. Newly minted characters take their first steps in a starting zone that's protected from the rest of the world by mountains, water or walls. Different races have different starting zones, but they're all pretty similar. You pick up easy quests from characters who tell you exactly what you need to do to complete them. If you get confused about what to do, you can read your quest log for advice, and if you get lost on your first trip to the big city, you can ask a guard for help. For the first few levels, nothing even attacks you unless you attack it first.

But 69 levels later, you could be standing toe-to-toe with Illidan Stormrage, the Betrayer -- the immortal night elf who gained demonic powers when he consumed the skull of Gul'dan. If that doesn't sound impressive to you, think of it this way -- Illidan has more than 5 million hit points. Most "World of Warcraft" characters start out with around 50, and some have fewer than 40.

A lot happens between accepting a quest to kill a few kobolds and getting your first glimpse of Illidan's fiery eyes. And if you look at it from a big-picture perspective, the whole thing can be overwhelming. "World of Warcraft" is huge. With the expansion pack, "The Burning Crusade," there are three continents -- two in Azeroth and one in the off-planet world of Outland. A second expansion, "Wrath of the Lich King," adds another continent, Northrend.

The expanded game has 10 playable races and nine character classes, from warriors to priests. There's also a "hero" class, the death knight, available to players who have at least one character of level 55 or higher.

­ No matter what class you play, you can choose from one of several professions, and you can customize your character's abilities by picking skills from one of three talent trees. All of the decisions you make about your character's skills and abilities have an impact on how you play the game.

The good news is that the sprawling world of Azeroth uses simple concepts to build a complex game system. The game itself teaches people how to play, and there are lots of resources, both inside the game and out, for finding answers to questions. In this guide, we'll look at some of the most common questions about playing -- and succeeding. We'll start with a quick overview of how to install the game and what the first few levels are like.

How do I install World of Warcraft?

©2006 Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. All rights reserved. The Burning Crusade is a trademark, and World of Warcraft and Blizzard Entertainment are trademarks or registered trademarks of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.

The copy of "World of Warcraft" you buy at the store is the game client. "The Burning Crusade" and "Wrath of the Lich King" are basically upgrades to the "World of Warcraft" client -- it adds new maps and information to the game files. The installation process for either game is pretty self-explanatory -- you insert the first disc, start the installer and wait for it to prompt you for the next disk. The first time you open the game, it will download the necessary patches to make your game client match the one the rest of the players are using. Blizzard, the company that produces "World of Warcraft," releases patches periodically to fix game issues, tweak game play and add new content. Your computer will automatically download each patch as it becomes available.

To play the game, you need an Internet connection and an account that lets you log in to "World of Warcraft" servers. The game will prompt you to start an account, and it will also ask you for a payment method. Blizzard accepts credit cards and PayPal, or you can buy a pre-paid game card.

Once you install and patch your game, you get to start making choices about how you want to play. Your first choice is which realm, or world server, you'll play on. There are three basic server types:

  • Normal, also known as player versus environment (PvE): You'll do most of your fighting against computer-controlled enemies. You'll only fight other players if you choose to put yourself in player-versus-player (PvP) mode, also known as flagging yourself, or by deliberately entering a PvP environment like a battleground.
  • Player versus player (PvP): You'll be flagged any time you enter a contested part of the world. Virtually everything outside of the game's lowest-level zones is contested -- you can see a complete list at Blizzard's region levels page. You'll be open to attack and able to attack other players most of the time once you leave your starting zone.
  • Role playing (RP): On an RP server, people speak and behave as their characters would. There are also role-playing PvP realms.

Your game client will suggest a realm for you, but you can choose a different one if you like. Keep in mind that on a realm with a very high population -- or a high-pop server -- you may have to wait to log on during peak playing hours.

Once you pick a realm, you can make a character. We'll look at the character creation process on the next page.

What kind of character should I play?

©2006 Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. All rights reserved. The Burning Crusade is a trademark, and World of Warcraft and Blizzard Entertainment are trademarks or registered trademarks of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.

There are two main factions in "World of Warcraft" -- the Horde and the Alliance. These two factions come from the game's predecessors, the "Warcraft" series of real-time strategy games. In the first two "Warcraft" games you could play through campaigns as humans or as orcs. Generally speaking, the humans were the good guys, and the orcs, known also as the Horde, were the bad guys. In "Warcraft III," though, that changed a little. "Warcraft III" presented both orcs and humans as sympathetic, fallible characters. Each side made its own mistakes, and both put aside their differences to unite against a common enemy in the end.

In "World of Warcraft" the orcs and humans are again at war with one another, and after the events of "Warcraft III," it's difficult to pick a "right" side. Instead, most players choose a faction based on where their friends play or which race they happen to like best. There's also a perception that Horde players are more aggressive and serious about the game. The factions are:

  • Alliance: Humans, dwarves, gnomes, night elves, dranei
  • Horde: Orcs, trolls, tauren, undead, blood elves

Characters can see the other factions' players, but can't speak to them except in universal gestures called emotes, performed by typing / followed by the action you wish to perform, such as /dance or /sleep. Emotes make it possible to do everything from showing your disdain to thanking a player from the opposite faction for saving your life.

Your character's race affects your starting attributes, or stats, like stamina and intellect. When it comes to specific skills and abilities, this can give you a slight advantage or disadvantage compared to members of other races. Characters also have racial abilities that characters of other races can't learn. For example, night elves can shadowmeld, or virtually disappear from the game world, and blood elves have extra resistance to magic.

Your character's race also affects what class you can play. Here are the classes that are currently in the game:

  • Warriors are heavily-armed fighters who can learn to be tanks, or characters that absorb lots of damage and protect weaker players in groups.
  • Paladins are warriors that serve the Light. They are a hybrid class -- they can learn to be tanks, healers or damage-dealers.
  • Druids are shape-shifters who can take on a number of animal forms. Like paladins, they are a hybrid class.
  • Shamans are the third hybrid class. They can create totems to help themselves and their party.
  • Mages do lots of damage with spells, but they can't withstand a lot of damage. They can also summon, or magically create, food and water for other players.
  • Warlocks, like mages, do damage with spells. They can also summon demon pets to help them in combat.
  • Hunters are very effective with ranged weapons, like guns and bows. They can train wild animals to be their pets -- as with a warlock's demons, these pets can help the hunter in combat.
  • Rogues are melee fighters. They have a number of thieving abilities, including stealth, lock picking and pickpocketing.
  • Priests tend to be healers, but some act as damage dealers.
  • Death knights are hybrids that can be any race and start out at level 55 instead of level 1.

You can customize your character with a system of talents. Starting at level 10, you can spend points in one of three talent trees -- these talents affect your character's strengths and abilities. In the case of hybrid classes, talents can have a big impact on game play. For example, a paladin who chooses holy talents becomes a healer, while a paladin who chooses protection talents can become a tank. Or, a paladin can choose retribution talents to do more damage during combat.

See Blizzard's class information page for more details on classes and talents.

Once you create a character, you can enter the game world -- but what do you do when you get there?

How do I play World of Warcraft?

A quest giver, marked with an exclamation point.
A quest giver, marked with an exclamation point.
©2004-2007 Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. All rights reserved. World of Warcraft and Blizzard Entertainment are trademarks or registered trademarks of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries.

"World of Warcraft" introduces your character to the world in a starting zone. Right away, a new character can find a small village with a few computer-controlled, non-player-character (NPC) inhabitants. These NPCs include quest givers and vendors who sell items and can repair your armor, which becomes damaged during combat and when your character dies.

Quest givers are easy to find -- if you're eligible to complete a quest, you'll see a yellow exclamation point over the quest giver's head. If the exclamation point is yellow, you'll be eligible for the quest in a few levels. Question marks and exclamation points will also appear on the mini-map in the corner of your screen, showing you where the quest givers are.

When you talk to a quest giver, a description of the quest and its reward will appear in a small window on your screen. You can accept or decline the quest. If you accept it, the quest's description will appear in your quest log. You can access your quest log by pressing the "I" key on your keyboard or by clicking the button on your toolbar that looks like a goblet. Your quest log will tell you which of the quests are complete, which will most likely require the help of a group and which require you to go into an in-game dungeon, also known as an instance.

The quests are usually pretty self-explanatory. For instance, you may have to:

  • kill a certain number of enemies
  • kill enemies and collect a certain number of items they drop
  • collect items that appear in the game world
  • travel to a different location and speak to a different quest giver

Once you finish the quest's requirements, you can turn the quest in to collect the reward. You'll usually turn the quest in to the same NPC who gave you the quest, but sometimes you'll need to talk to someone else. When this happens, the name of the NPC you need see will be in your quest log. You'll see a yellow question mark over the head of the person you need to talk to, and you'll also see a yellow question mark on your mini-map marking the NPC's location.

The customary announcement that a character has leveled up: "Ding!" The customary response: "Grats!"
©2004-2007 Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. All rights reserved. World of Warcraft and Blizzard Entertainment are trademarks or registered trademarks of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries.

When you turn in a quest, you gain experience -- you get experience from killing enemies, also known as mobs, as well. However, since a quest has its own, relatively large experience reward, getting experience through questing is usually more efficient than just killing mobs, which is also known as grinding.

Once you've finished all the quests in your starting village, you'll generally pick up a quest that requires you to travel to a neighboring village. There, you'll find more quest givers and slightly more powerful mobs. The game continues in this fashion until you reach the highest possible level -- level 60 for classic "World of Warcraft," level 70 for "The Burning Crusade" and level 80 for "Wrath of the Lich King."

When you're finished with your starting zone, the world suddenly gets a lot bigger. We'll look at how to get around it in the next section.

How do I navigate the world of Warcraft?

©2006 Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. All rights reserved. The Burning Crusade is a trademark, and World of Warcraft and Blizzard Entertainment are trademarks or registered trademarks of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.

There are four continents in "World of Warcraft." Kalimdor, the Eastern Kingdoms and Northrend are on the planet of Azeroth. The fourth continent, Outland, is on the remains of a remote planet. Characters of all levels can play in Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms, but Outland is designed for levels 58 and up. There's no level requirement to get to Northrend, but characters who haven't gotten to their high 60s won't last long in the wilds there.

To travel back and forth between Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms, Alliance characters can take a boat, and Horde characters can take a zeppelin, each of which is free. To travel to Outland, you can walk through the Dark Portal located in the Blasted Lands in the Eastern Kingdoms. To get back, you can take portals from the neutral city of Shattrath to each of the factions' capital cities. Alliance characters can get to Northrend via boat from the city of Stormwind, and Horde characters can travel via zeppelin from Undercity.

Other travel methods include:

  • Hearthstone: A hearthstone is part of your inventory. As you're leveling, it's a good idea to set your hearth for the zone in which you're working on quests. To do this, just talk to an innkeeper.
  • Air taxi: For a small fee, a flying beast will carry you to a particular location. You must have picked up the corresponding flight path by speaking to the flight master who works there. Flight masters for paths you haven't yet discovered are marked with green exclamation points.
  • Mounts: At level 40, you can purchase and learn to ride your race's mount. If you're a paladin, you can learn a spell to summon a mount from a class trainer. At level 60, you can buy an epic mount, which is a faster mount -- paladins and warlocks can complete quests to learn to summon their own epic mounts. At level 70, you can buy a flying mount and a swift flying mount. Druids can gain flying abilities at level 68 by learning flight form from a class trainer. They can complete a quest to learn swift flight form at level 70.
  • Portals, teleports and summons: Mages can teleport themselves from place to place or summon portals for other players to use. Druids can teleport themselves to the druid sanctuary of Moonglade. Warlocks can summon other players to their locations. Characters that learn the engineering profession can build devices they can use to teleport themselves to particular cities.
  • Summoning stones: You can summon members of your party to summoning stones located outside of instances.

You can explore much of this world by yourself, but to get to some locations, you need a group. Next, we'll look at how to meet people in the game.

How do I meet people?

The god Hakkar, the final boss of the level-60 raid instance Zul'Gurub, requires a group of up to 20 players to kill.
The god Hakkar, the final boss of the level-60 raid instance Zul'Gurub, requires a group of up to 20 players to kill.
©2004-2007 Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. All rights reserved. World of Warcraft and Blizzard Entertainment are trademarks or registered trademarks of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries.

"World of Warcraft" can be as much about socializing as it is about quests and levels. And there are parts of the game you can't complete or even access without other people with you. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to meet people in the game. You can talk to nearby characters by typing /say and whatever you'd like to say. You can also talk directly to specific players by whispering, also known as sending tells. You can send a tell to a player by typing /w, the player's name and what you wish to say. There are also public chat channels that anyone in your faction can access.

In general, you're looking for three types of allies in the game:

  • A group is a temporary alliance of several players. You can invite people to form a group with you by typing /invite and their character names.
  • A friend is anyone you add to your in-game friends list, which you can access by pressing o on your keyboard. You might add people to your friends list after talking with them in-game or participating in a pick-up group (PuG) with them. A PuG is a group of players who decide to work together on the spur of the moment, often so they can try to conquer an instance. You can use your friends list to see who else is online when you're trying to form a group or looking for something to do.
  • A guild is an ongoing alliance of players -- if you join a guild, you're a member of that guild regardless of whether you're currently logged in to the game.

Some guilds are small groups of close, real-life friends while others operate more like businesses. You can divide guilds into three basic types:

  • Raiding guilds focus on large, difficult instances accessible only to level-70 characters. Many raiding guilds have an application process that evaluates a character's experience and gear. Another common trait of raiding guilds is DKP, which is short for dragon kill points. DKP is essentially a system for measuring each member's contribution to the raid and distributing rewards based on those contributions. Guilds that use DKP typically do so to try to make loot distribution more fair and to try to prevent disputes over loot.
  • Casual guilds may also have an application process. But when they do, the application is usually focused on the player's personality and goals for the game rather than the needs of the guild. Some casual guilds focus on socializing while others organize instance runs for their members.
  • PvP guilds focus on player-versus-player battlegrounds and arena matches.

For a lot of players, a guild provides social interaction and a way to organize groups and events --many people spend most of their time in the game with members of their guild. For this reason, choosing a guild can be a big decision. Some argue that one type of guild is better than another, but the best guild is really one that suits your play style and goals for the game.

You can find a guild using the in-game guild recruitment channel, which you automatically join when you enter a major city, as long as you're not already in a guild. You can also read the official forums at the "World of Warcraft" Web site to learn which guilds on your server are recruiting. If you join a PuG with people you particularly enjoy playing with, you can ask whether their guild is accepting new members.

Regardless of whether you're teamed up with members of your guild or other players, most groups have the same basic structure. Next, we'll explore how groups work.

How is group play different from solo play?

©2006 Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. All rights reserved. The Burning Crusade is a trademark, and World of Warcraft and Blizzard Entertainment are trademarks or registered trademarks of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.

When you're playing "World of Warcraft" on your own, you basically try to kill mobs before they kill you. You also claim 100 percent of the mob's loot and experience. But group play is a little different. You share loot and experience with the other party members, and, ironically enough, trying to kill an enemy as fast as possible can lead to disaster. Instead, you have to use your skills and abilities to the benefit of the whole party.

Your classes and talents, discussed in the "Warcraft Characters" section, have a huge impact on your role in a group:

  • Tanks have lots of armor and health and can survive a lot of damage. They also have tools for generating threat -- the more threatening a mob finds a character, the more likely it will be to attack that character. So the tank's job is to get (and keep) a mob's attention and absorb lots of damage in order to protect the rest of the party.
  • Healers keep the tank and the rest of the party alive during the fight. Healers have to use their mana to heal the party, and healing can generate a significant amount of threat. For this reason, good healers save their most powerful spells for absolute emergencies so they can conserve their mana and reduce their threat.
  • The rest of the party is the DPS, which stands for damage per second. As with healers, DPS characters can generate lots of threat as they're fighting mobs, so they have to learn to balance their damage output with their threat production.

In raids, or instances that require more than five players, there are often multiple tanks, also known as off-tanks, and multiple healers. Often, raid leaders or class leaders will give these players specific tanking or healing assignments.

Many classes also have the ability to temporarily incapacitate, or crowd control (CC), mobs. In difficult encounters, CC can be extremely important -- it keeps the group from having to defend themselves against too many monsters at one time. The party must make sure not to attack these mobs -- most forms of CC break when the mob takes damage.

There are lots of forms of crowd control in the game. Here are some examples of the ones commonly used in instances:

  • Sap: A rogue sneaks behind a target and incapacitates it. This works only on humanoids that aren't in combat.
  • Sheep: A mage casts a polymorph spell to turn a target into a sheep. Mages can also turn enemies into turtles and pigs, but this is still generally referred to as sheeping. Sheeping works only on humanoids, beasts and critters.
  • Shackle: A priest encases an undead enemy in chains.
  • Banish: A warlock makes a demon or elemental completely immobile and invulnerable. Players can't harm it, but it also can't harm players. Warlocks can also enslave demons and force them to attack mobs rather than the party.
  • Trap: A hunter places a trap on the ground that freezes the mob in place.
  • Hibernate: A druid causes a beast or dragonkin to fall asleep.
  • Root: A druid entangles a mob in living roots. This only works in outdoor instances, like Zul'Gurub and Zul'Aman.
  • Fear: Priests, warlocks, warriors and paladins can cause various mobs to run away for a certain amount of time. This isn't often a good idea in an instance -- the feared mob can run into other mobs and bring them back to your group.

This may sound complex, but there are lots of tools for making it easier to keep up with who's responsible for which mob or character in the instance. In the next section, we'll look at some of them.

How do I play in a group?

©2006 Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. All rights reserved. The Burning Crusade is a trademark, and World of Warcraft and Blizzard Entertainment are trademarks or registered trademarks of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.

Tanking, healing and CC assignments can seem overwhelming, especially in very large groups, but "World of Warcraft" has built-in ways for players to keep up with what's happening. One is a set of raid icons, which some players refer to as "Lucky Charms." Party and raid leaders can use these to label specific targets with symbols visible to everyone in the group. There's no hard-and-fast rule about which icon stands for which action, but most players use the skull icon to mark the mob that the DPS should focus on. Some party leaders will move the skull from target to target as necessary, while others will tell the group which icon to target next.

You can also create a simple assist macro. This is a macro that will cause your character to target the tank's target every time you click it -- in other words, you'll attack what the tank is attacking. If your tank is trying to keep the aggro from multiple mobs, be careful -- he or she may change targets to keep the attention of all of them. To create this macro:

  1. Type /macro to open the macro interface.
  2. Click New.
  3. Choose a name for your macro and an icon to represent it on your toolbar.
  4. Click "Okay," then click on the icon you just created to open the macro itself.
  5. In the macro field, type /assist and the name of your tank. You can re-open the macro and change the tank's name whenever you like.
  6. Click the icon you created and drag it to your toolbar.
  7. Close the macro interface.

More complex macros can look a little like a programming language that instructs the game to perform specific actions. You can find lots of useful macros in the "World of Warcraft" official forums, and you can learn more about them from the official macro guide.

Here's how a five-person group can use these tools to move through an instance:

  1. The group leader marks the mobs with raid icons and tells the group which icon stands for which action.
  2. Players with crowd-control abilities CC their designated mobs before or immediately after the fight starts, depending on their particular skill.
  3. A designated player attacks a mob that isn't under crowd control to start the fight. This is known as pulling. Another option is to allow players with crowd-control abilities to pull the group by using their crowd control, but the tank has to act quickly to protect the pulling player.
  4. The group's DPS allows the tank to build threat, or get aggro, before attacking. The DPS will either use their assist macros to assist the tank or move from one icon to the next, killing one mob at a time before moving on to the next one. The DPS works as quickly as possible without generating too much threat and pulling the aggro off the tank.
  5. The healer uses healing spells that will keep the party alive without generating too much threat.
  6. When all of the mobs are dead, the group distributes all the loot and allows caster classes to recover their mana before pulling the next group.

Group play is more than just a set of mechanical steps, though -- there are social elements involved as well. We'll explore them on the next page.

What are the game's etiquette rules?

©2006 Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. All rights reserved. The Burning Crusade is a trademark, and World of Warcraft and Blizzard Entertainment are trademarks or registered trademarks of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.

Getting through a dungeon is a lot easier if everyone is following the same basic social rules:

  • Clarify loot rules and targeting icons before you start the instance.
  • Clarify each character's role before the first pull. This is particularly important if there are hybrid classes -- druids, paladins and shamans -- in the group. Hybrid characters can have vastly different abilities depending on their talents and gear. This is also true for classes that tend to have one primary role. For example, a shadow priest, whose talents are in DPS, may prefer to play in a DPS role rather than a healing role.
  • Wait until a fight is over to loot. Many players find rolling on loot during a fight to be disruptive or distracting. Also, since some dungeon loot is bind on pickup (BoP) -- once you've picked it up, you can't give it to anyone else -- mistakes on rolls can keep people from getting items they need.
  • Stay with your group. If you wander off alone, you may find unexpected mobs and lead them to your party.
  • As you're traveling through the instance, let the tank go first. That way, if the party runs into enemies, the player most equipped to survive the attack will be in the lead.
  • Give casters time to drink before pulling another group.
  • Don't ninja other players' loot by disobeying the established loot rules or otherwise giving yourself an unfair advantage.
  • Try not to leave the computer, also known as going AFK, during the instance. If you must, let your party know you have to step away.

There's also a lot of one-on-one communication between players as they buy and sell items, look for groups and look for guilds. All of this interaction has led to some etiquette guidelines that are pretty consistent from realm to realm:

  • Don't send other players group invitations, duel requests, guild invites or requests to sign a guild charter without asking first.
  • Avoid using the /yell command to carry on conversations across a zone.
  • Don't flood chat channels with your own advertisements or lines of random text. Most players view this as spamming.

Many players consider begging for money to be one of the biggest breaches of etiquette in the game. Next, we'll explore how to make enough money to buy what you want in WoW, without resorting to asking strangers for gold.

How can I make money without buying gold?

A shaman trains in a level-four skill for the cost of one silver.
A shaman trains in a level-four skill for the cost of one silver.
©2004-2007 Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. All rights reserved. World of Warcraft and Blizzard Entertainment are trademarks or registered trademarks of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries.

During the first few levels of game play, you don't need a lot of money. Your quest rewards take care of your basic needs for food, water and armor. But soon, expenses start to add up -- you have to pay class trainers for new skills and abilities, and you have to buy gear, food, water and other items. When you start trying to save the 100 or so gold pieces you'll need to be able to ride a mount when you get to level 30, it might start to seem impossible to make enough money.

One way to get gold is to use real money to buy it from a gold farmer -- but this is against the game rules, and most players frown upon people who try it. Blizzard may also ban your account if it catches you buying gold. Fortunately, there are lots of legal ways you can make money. You can:

  • Sell crafted or gathered items: All characters can choose to learn two professions and three secondary skills. These skills allow you to gather and make items you can use or sell. If you decide to learn to enchant items -- magically add stats or abilities to them -- you can charge other players to enchant their gear. If you like, you can learn two gathering professions, like herbalism and mining, and sell raw materials instead of crafted items.
  • Sell dropped items: Enemies, or mobs, drop items you can sell. Humanoid mobs also drop cash.
  • Complete quests: Most quests reward you with money or items. When you reach the game's maximum level, you'll receive gold instead of experience when you turn in quests. At high levels, you can also take advantage of daily quests, which you can complete each day for substantial financial rewards. 
A view of the gems available at an auction house
©2004-2007 Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. All rights reserved. World of Warcraft and Blizzard Entertainment are trademarks or registered trademarks of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries.

Here are some tips for making enough money to buy the items you want in the game:

  • The money you get from selling vendor trash, or poor quality items, adds up. Pick up everything you find so you can sell it later.
  • Invest in large bags and keep things you don't always need in the bank so you won't have to leave items you can sell behind.
  • Research your professions. The economy varies from realm to realm, but alchemy and jewelcrafting tend to be moneymakers. On the other hand, some other professions aren't as profitable. For example, engineers can make lots of fun and interesting items, but they can't typically make much money selling them. Also, keep in mind that you may want to learn to craft items you'll be able to use so you won't have to buy them from other players.
  • Download an addon that tracks auction-house prices, like Auctioneer, and use it to help you determine how much to charge for your items and how much to pay for things you want to buy.
  • Prioritize. Just like in real life, you may have to budget your money if you want to buy something expensive. For example, if you want to buy a 5,000-gold swift flying mount, you'll probably have to spend some time earning money and put off other purchases until later.

Just as some professions are expensive, some in-game hobbies tend to cost more money than they make. One is PvP combat. We'll go over the basics of the game's PvP battles in the next section.

What's PvP in World of Warcraft?

The mine in Arathi Basin is collecting
The mine in Arathi Basin is collecting
©2004-2007 Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. All rights reserved. World of Warcraft and Blizzard Entertainment are trademarks or registered trademarks of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries.

If you play "World of Warcraft" on a PvP server, player-versus-player activity can be all around you. But as long as you're playing on a normal server, it's possible to spend all your time in "World of Warcraft" without ever fighting against another player. Most of the PvP action takes place in battlegrounds (BGs), arenas and in a few specific outdoor locations in the game world. Participating in any of these areas is completely optional. Unlike quests, which give characters experience, PvP encounters give honor points and tokens, which you can use to buy rewards.

BGs are like instances -- you and a group of players enter a special zone with a specific objective in mind. The game sorts players into BGs according to their level. For example, if you're level 15, you'll go into a battleground with players who are level 10 to 19. Once you get to level 20, you'll be part of the next bracket: 20 to 29, and so on.

The game's arenas all operate according to the same basic rules. Players pay a fee to buy a charter for their team. Teams compete against one another, and the last one standing wins.

The world's four battlegrounds, though, operate under their own sets of rules:

  • Warsong Gulch (WSG) is a capture-the-flag game. Players try to enter the opposing faction's base, retrieve a flag and return it to their own base. The first team to do this three times wins.
  • The goal in Arathi Basin (AB) is to gather resources. Players from each faction try to gain control of five resource nodes by clicking on the flag at each node and then defending it from the other faction. As long as a faction has control over a node, that faction collects its resources. The faction that collects 2,000 resources first wins.
  • Alterac Valley (AV) is a long, snowy zone with a base at each end. Each faction tries to reach the opposite faction's base and kill the general inside. There are other NPC officers that players can kill along the way as well as quests players can complete to reinforce their armor or summon allied NPCs.
  • Eye of the Storm (EotS) is the only battleground in Outland. It combines capture-the-flag with resource collection. Players try to carry a central flag to each of four towers. As long as a faction controls a tower, it collects that tower's resources. The first team to 2,000 resources wins.
Outside the Horde base in Arathi Valley.
©2004-2007 Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. All rights reserved. World of Warcraft and Blizzard Entertainment are trademarks or registered trademarks of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries.

Players can also experience PvP combat by playing on a PvP server or by attacking the other faction's cities. While attacking a city is a legitimate part of the game, most players view the killing of quest givers and vendors as dishonorable. There's also a PvP zone in the "Wrath of the Lich King" continent of Northrend known as Wintergrasp, and many higher-level zones in the game have isolated areas devoted to PvP objectives.

A Darnassus tower after a Horde raid.
©2004-2007 Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. All rights reserved. World of Warcraft and Blizzard Entertainment are trademarks or registered trademarks of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries.

All of this combat comes from an idea that started in the original "Warcraft" games -- the Alliance is at war with the Horde. Next, we'll delve into the origins of "World of Warcraft."

What can I see that came from previous Warcraft games?

Cairne Bloodhoof is the leader of the Tauren people. He assisted Thrall in "Warcraft III" and established the city of Thunder Bluff after the game's conclusion.
Cairne Bloodhoof is the leader of the Tauren people. He assisted Thrall in "Warcraft III" and established the city of Thunder Bluff after the game's conclusion.
©2004-2007 Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. All rights reserved. World of Warcraft and Blizzard Entertainment are trademarks or registered trademarks of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries.

"Warcraft III" introduced much of the history, or and lore, that became the foundation of "World of Warcraft." Here are some examples.

Grom Hellscream drank the blood of the demon Mannoroth, gaining power for the orcs but essentially making them Mannoroth's slaves. Grom eventually killed Mannoroth, freeing his people from the demon's curse and dying in the process. Mannoroth's weapon still hovers over Ashenvale, near a monument to the fallen orc.
©2004-2007 Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. All rights reserved. World of Warcraft and Blizzard Entertainment are trademarks or registered trademarks of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries.
This bell tolled as Arthas slew his father, King Terenas Menethil. It now rests on the floor in the ruins of Lordaeron, which has become the gateway to the Undercity,
©2004-2007 Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. All rights reserved. World of Warcraft and Blizzard Entertainment are trademarks or registered trademarks of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries.
Sylvannas Windrunner, leader of the Undead, was once a high elf. Out of spite, Arthas resurrected her as a banshee.
©2004-2007 Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. All rights reserved. World of Warcraft and Blizzard Entertainment are trademarks or registered trademarks of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries.
©2006 Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. All rights reserved. The Burning Crusade is a trademark, and World of Warcraft and Blizzard Entertainment are trademarks or registered trademarks of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.
©2006 Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. All rights reserved. The Burning Crusade is a trademark, and World of Warcraft and Blizzard Entertainment are trademarks or registered trademarks of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.

Next, we'll look at a few places that are new to the game rather than products of lore.

What are some notable Warcraft landmarks?

©2006 Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. All rights reserved. The Burning Crusade is a trademark, and World of Warcraft and Blizzard Entertainment are trademarks or registered trademarks of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.

Although much of Azeroth and Outland are built on previous computer games, some of the more interesting in-game landmarks are new -- or come from other sources. Here are a few.

The Shrine of the Fallen Warrior in the Barrens is a monument to Michel Koiter, a Blizzard artist who passed away during the game's development [source: Sons of the Storm].
©2004-2007 Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. All rights reserved. World of Warcraft and Blizzard Entertainment are trademarks or registered trademarks of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries.
©2006 Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. All rights reserved. The Burning Crusade is a trademark, and World of Warcraft and Blizzard Entertainment are trademarks or registered trademarks of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.
Pagle's Point inside the temple of Zul'Gurub is home to a battered tackle box, a giant hydra and continuously re-spawning jugs of Darkmoon Special Reserve.
©2004-2007 Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. All rights reserved. World of Warcraft and Blizzard Entertainment are trademarks or registered trademarks of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries.
©2006 Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. All rights reserved. The Burning Crusade is a trademark, and World of Warcraft and Blizzard Entertainment are trademarks or registered trademarks of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.

To learn more about "World of Warcraft," MMORPGs and related topics, see the links on the next page.

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Sources

  • Blizzard. "World of Warcraft." 2004.
  • Blizzard. "World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade." 2007.