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postheadericon Warcraft Play Primer

You can either read the guide printed here – or download it – with extras in PDF form by right clicking on the image below and choosing “save as”

Warcraft Play Primer

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.

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.

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 79 levels later, you could be standing toe-to-toe with the Lich King, and he doens’t take any prisoners. Having millions of HP, and weaponary and minions that could leave you gasping for breath – and heading straight back to the nearest cemetary for a quick rez

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.


The realm selection screen. Take note of the type.

Normal means that there will be no PvP unless you set a character flag in game to say you welcome it.

PvP means that – once outside the initial”safe zones”PvP can be instigated by any player on another player from the posing faction

RP (Role Playing) is for those players who like to stay in character.  RP realms tend to develop there own Lore – and are fun to play in if that is what you enjoy.

Check the population. A realm with a “High” population may mean waiting in a server queue to log on at times. Blizzard do occasionally allow free migration from realms where the population gets too high.

What kind of character should I play?

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.

On the character creation screen, you’ll choose a race, class and name, and you can customize
your character’s appearance.


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.


How do I navigate the world of Warcraft?

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.The flight master in Undercity — this flight path is undiscovered.

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 20, 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. There are special considerations for your first character to follow to be able to fly in Northrend. Though subsequent characters can bypass some of these. See the Warcraft Website for more information on this (it changes quite a bit)

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.

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Anything that improves your attributes, or stats, is a buff. Here are some ways to buff yourself:

  • •Gear: Gear comes in different levels of quality, which you can determine by looking at the color of its name. Gray and white items are relatively poor quality. Green items are uncommon and enhance one or more of your stats. Blue and purple — or rare and epic — items improve your stats or abilities even further. Try to choose gear that improves the stats you rely on the most. For example, casting classes generally need extra intellect, and tanking classes need stamina and armor.
  • •Food: Eating food and drinking water in the game restore your health and mana, respectively. Food and drinks can also buff your stats. If you learn to fish and cook — these are two secondary skills that every character can learn — you can cook your own buff food.
  • •Spells: Many classes have their own buff spells. Cast these on yourself and your party. You can also use scrolls to cast buff spells.
    •Enchantments: Enchanters can add buffs to most gear.
  • •Gems: These come from jewelcrafters. They fit into sockets on some pieces of gear.
  • •Consumables: There are lots of items in the game that you can consume, or use up, to buff yourself. These include flasks, elixirs and other potions made by alchemists. You can even buff your fishing skill with consumable fishing lures.
  • Glyphs: The new scribe profession adds the ability to write magical “Glyphs” that charcters can use to add extra perks or to improve existing talents 


How do I meet people?

“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.

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How is group play different from solo play?

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, 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.

Addons and Threat

There are lots of downloadable addons you can use to customize your user interface (UI) and how it works. Addons can do everything from changing the layout of the objects on your screen to keeping up with how many items are in your inventory.
Several addons can be very useful for learning the mechanics of group play. These include:

•Threat meters, such as KLH Threat Meter and Omen: These estimate how much threat a player is generating. For accurate readings, all players in the party need to have compatible addons.

•Damage meters, such as SW Stats: Although some players use them to determine who has bragging rights about the highest DPS, damage meters can be a useful tool for players who are learning to balance their damage with their threat.

You can find these and other addons at sites like Curse and WowAce. Every addon at these sites is perfectly legal to use in the game. There are a whole range of addons here, those to help you with quests, some to alter the user interface (or allow you to make changes to it). Others to help you keep track of bagspace, chat, auctions…you name it – there will probably be an addon for it. All legal


How do I play in a group?

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.

Dungeons as Instances

In most parts of Azeroth and Outland, players have to compete for resources and mobs. This isn’t the case in dungeons. Each group gets its own copy, or instance, of the dungeon. No one else can come inside, and there can be many copies of the same dungeon happening simultaneously.
What are the game’s etiquette rules?
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.

What’s PvP in World of Warcraft?
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.

Some PvP players are known as twinks. Twinks reach a particular level in the game, at which point they stay away from everything that grants experience and instead focus on PvP combat. Twinks stop leveling at the top level of a particular bracket such as level 19, and they try to collect gear that will give them an edge over other players. “World of Warcraft” players are divided on the subject of twinks. Some feel that twinking is a valid and inventive use of the gPrimer Blue Greyame, while others think twinking puts casual players at an unavoidable disadvantage.

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.

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.