March 27, 2009

2009 Arena Tournament moves to third phase

Registration for the 2009 Arena Tournament closed last Tuesday and the competition has now moved on to its third phase. Teams have been locked down, meaning existing teams may no longer add players to their roster. Players may continue to create new teams but will be unable to invite additional members beyond those that sign the original charter. Games played prior to the lockdown will still count towards the final tally that determines which teams advance to the next round.

This is the home stretch for players who wish to qualify for the next stage in the Arena Tournament, where the top 1000 teams will move on. Players looking to obtain Murkimus the Gladiator need to play 200 games between March 10 to April 6, while players aiming for the Vanquisher title need to get within the top 1,000 teams within the same time period. Currently, the 1,000th team on US Tournament Realms is hovering around 1,600 rating so finishing somewhere between 1,700-1,800 would probably be a safe bet for the title. Good luck to everyone!

Arena Season 6 details revealed

Blizzard Europe poster Ancilorn posted the lowdown on Arena Season 6 (Bornakk posted the same on the US forums), which is slated to begin at around the same time that Patch 3.1 is released. There will be some key changes to this season, the biggest of which will be that all teams will start at 0 rating instead of the traditional 1500. This way, players will generally have an upward progression throughout the season before plateauing at their estimated skill level.

Another change is that Blizzard has reevaluated the item requirements, feeling that many of them were too difficult to obtain. The lowest rating requirement for an item is currently set at 1250, which may seem low but considering players will be progressing from 0, that's a 1250 point spread. In Season 5, the lowest rating requirement is 1615, which is a mere 115 points from the starting point of 1500. It remains to be seen how much of the continually changing Arena system will award points and how easy or hard it will be to move upwards from 0. More details on the ratings after the jump.

As with WoW Season 5, all teams below 1500 will still earn points as though their team's rating was at 1500, allowing players to accumulate a decent amount of Arena Points while working their way to the required ratings. The current matchmaking system will still attempt to match teams against opponents at the same skill level, but the matchmaking rating will be transparent, appearing at the end of a match to give players an idea of where they are at. Hopefully these changes spark renewed interest in Arenas, which have seen its numbers decline sharply in Season 5.

Ancilorn listed the following items and expected rating requirements:

Hateful Gloves
Hateful Legs
Hateful Chest
Hateful Helm
Hateful Shoulders
Hateful Ring
Hateful Trinket

Deadly Bracer
Deadly Belt
Deadly Boots
Deadly Neck
Deadly Ring
Deadly Cape
Deadly Trinket

(Ancilorn didn't specify how these items would be purchased, although it's likely that the aforementioned gear will be available through Honor points)

1250+: Deadly Relics/Idols/Librams/Totems
1300+: Deadly Gloves
1350+: Deadly Legs
1400+: Deadly Chest
1450+: Deadly Helm
1500+: Deadly Shoulders

1400+: Furious Bracer*
1450+: Furious Belt*
1500+: Furious Boots*
1550+: Furious Neck*
1600+: Furious Gloves
1650+: Furious Ring*
1700+: Furious Legs
1750+: Furious Chest
1800+: Furious Trinket*
1850+: Furious Weapon
1900+: Furious Helm
1950+: Furious Wands/Relics/etc
2000+: Furious Cloak*
2050+: Furious Shoulders
2200+: 2nd Tier Furious Weapon
2300+: Furious Tabard

*purchased with Honor

Depending on how easy it is to move from 0 to 1250, this change can either be good or bad. Curiously, Deadly Gladiator weapons do not appear on the list but there appears to be a first tier of Furious Weapons obtainable at a formerly modest 1850. What's more significant is that there appears to be a second tier of Arena Season 6 weapons available at 2200, with shoulders available at 2050. Hopefully the second tier of weapons 'evolve' from the first tier and aren't mere recolors. Traditionally, the shoulders have had the steepest requirement among the Arena PvP items, but a 2200 requirement -- an extremely prohibitive rating in any season -- now gives something truly functional and not just for show. On the other hand, the "awesome-looking" tabard that Kalgan promised is still at 2300, and only players at Gladiator-level of play will obtain it.

Patch 3.1 and Shamans - The PvP patch

So far, if you look at every PTR round up for shamans we've done here at WoW insider, you'll note that the changes are primarily aimed at PvP balance. There have been a few tweaks to resto aimed at mana regen (like Mana Spring going exclusive with Blessing of Wisdom) but in general, it's safe to say that 3.1 will be the shaman's PvP patch.

The most recent PTR build has a confusing bug fix to Totem of Wrath (Okay, so it's not changing to 30 yards, because it was 30 yards anyway and now it will be the 40 yards the tooltip reads) and a nice buff to Storm, Earth and Fire. Each new tank reduces the cooldown on Chain Lightning, meaning that at max rank the six second cooldown will be reduced by 2.5 seconds. Combined with Lightning Mastery, you will be able to cast a Chain Lightning every 3 seconds. While shorter cast times are always good for PvP, this change will affect PvE just as much by giving shamans more casts of chain lightning during AoE pulls. It doesn't really match true AoE, not even with the glyph on, but it's something to add to dropping Fire Nova or Magma Totem. And unlike those, it won't cost you Totem of Wrath to use. There was also this nice discussion of Totem Stomper macros, which I call a nice discussion because it's blatantly in favor of destroying them and scattering their virtual ashes across the wide and bitter plains.

So then, if we're patching shamans to be better in PvP, what then is the current status of the class therein? We know that the arena isn't actually setting many people's hearts afire lately, where do shamans fit into this decline? Well, actually, better than some folks... if you're resto, anyway.

Now, clearly resto isn't dominating arena healing. (And even if it was we wouldn't be able to tell from a sample this size, the top ten US Tournament teams does not enough data make, even a guy who failed statistics like me can see that) But it's alive there, and I'd assume it's in part due to the fun bag of tricks shaman healing now has. Going resto myself for Wintergrasp I've noted a few things.

  • I am a terrible healer. Honestly, I'm astonishingly bad. It's amazing to me that I used to be able to main heal ZA and even healed the thing solo twice. Seriously, did I forget what healing is? (The answer to this would appear to be yes, yes I did.)

  • Even as a terrible healer, I have pretty solid survivability in PvP. I'm no paladin, but with totems, Earth Shield, Nature's Swiftness, Riptide, Ancestral Awakening and Blessing of the Eternals I can keep myself (and even a couple of others) up for a while. Unless a Death Knight focuses on me. Even then I can stay up longer on the resto shaman than on my warrior, but I'm not doing anything productive aside from spamming heals on myself and hoping someone comes along and peels the DK off of me. Also, Strangulate and Mind Freeze make me unhappy. And then usually dead.

  • Rogues still kind of drink my milkshake. They drink it all up.

  • As a shaman I may have the single most potent arsenal for keeping a group of offense up. One WG match had me in a cluster with an ele shaman, ret paladin, rogue and mage. While a priest might have been able to match my AoE healing (or even exceed it) with ES and the crit-based proc talents plus Ancestral Healing (now that my crit rate's higher, AH is a really nice effect for a melee DPS in PvP I find) I can make one focal player much, much harder to kill while also healing the rest of the offense, so long as I'm kept relatively clear of things like the aforementioned DK or rogue.

  • I'm not terribly fond of MS effects. Big surprise there. They're not as nasty as the raw damage some classes can deal, though. I got jumped by a well geared fury warrior and was half dead before I could even cast a single spell, and the rest of the way dead while ES was trying gamely to heal me.

  • Did I mention that I'm a terrible healer? Well, perhaps what I should say is that I'm a terrible PvP healer, although I haven't really tested the PvE waters yet. I need to improve my use of Nature's Swiftness and Riptide, get more mobility and become more comfortable with healing with two guys trying to pull my face off and show it to me.

  • 10 arena matches. 6 wins. Two wins came from the DPS focusing on me but not getting me dead before our Warrior/Pally combo killed their DPS. One memorable loss came from them killing me so fast I didn't even see it happen, that was a Hunter/DK/Pally setup. Ouch. I need more resil gear fast.
Fine, you might say, but that's the state of one spec in PvP now. (And your own rambling, biased point of view to boot, you might add.) You just said 3.1 was the PvP patch, so what's new there?

Well, we know that talents like Frozen Power (in the enhancement tree) and the change to Earthbind in Storm, Earth and Fire (in elemental) are aimed at giving shamans of these specs some measure of control in terms of rooting/snaring opponents. Toughness is also relatively low in enhancement (15 points in) and with Elemental Mastery now allowing instant casts, a PvP elemental shaman really can afford to go fairly deep in enhancement to pick up the stamina boost. (Yes, that spec is terrible. It exists merely to show you that the points are there, and I hope talented elemental shamans are already picking it apart, as I will gleefully steal your work and apply it to my own shaman as soon as the patch goes live.) The goal seems to be twofold, to increase shaman surviavability (and in this case glyphs are going to be very important) and to give them more tools to help shape the flow of a fight.

Booming Echoes combined with Reverberation will allow elemental shamans to get the cooldown on their flame and frost shocks down to 3 seconds, which isn't too shabby for PvP if you're trying to escape. While it won't grant the rooting effect of Frozen Power, it does give elemental a reliable way to work a Flame Shock/Lava Burst into a rotation while still having frost shock available at a much more reasonable amount of time.

It's unfortunate that Hex hasn't been enhanced yet during all of these changes. Frankly, as the weakest CC in PvP it could use a look, as it's the only disarm/silence style effect that is trinketable. It would be better served by being made into an actual shapeshift spell instead similar to polymorph in my opinion, or to have the ability to trinket out of it (especially since people affected by Hex can still move towards the caster as well) and let it be affected by things that reduce disarms and silences. Or make it a flat pacify effect like the Teromoth's in Terokkar use. While I enjoy Hex for instancing (when I get to use it in our brave new world of no CC pulls) it's been a great disappointment to me in PvP, it barely even slows the pain-train down when it's bearing in on me. The Glyph of Hex will at least help with the amount of damage I can deal while fleeing (I've Hexed, Frost Shocked as I ran, and broke my own Hex immediately, which may just prove how bad I am at PvP) but it's no real solution. And to be fair, Blizzard may not be interested in giving us a solution: they may well feel the Hex is doing exactly what they want it to do.

The move of poison and disease cleansing totem into one water based totem is a positive godsend against DK's and Rogues until they one shot it. Ah well. It's still nice to have only one totem to remove both effects. If you have the Stoneclaw glyph you may actually be dropping that totem instead of Tremor (especially if there's a hunter instead of a warlock in that DK - Pally - X comp) so it may actually live a bit longer. Especially if Blizzard figures out a way to get rid of those horrible, awful, no good totem stomper macros oh how I hate thee totem stomper macros.

In general, resto comes through this patch more or less unscathed and is already in decent shape in PvP, to the point where even a really poorly geared, clueless resto shaman like say myself can still contribute something, and talented players can even do well with it. Both elemental and enhancement are seeing options for survivability and peel/shedding worked in, and elemental may even see some nice burst damage with shorter cast times on shocks, chain lightning, and access to an instant cast ability from within their own tree, not to mention a potential root (which is sadly dependent on Earthbind totem, which means to get it you're sacrificing Tremor and the glyphed Stoneclaw's damage shield). Outside of seeing Hex get an overhaul and perhaps reworking Frozen Power to increase Stormstrike damage as well, I don't know what I'd add. Of course, we haven't really gotten to see these changes in action yet. Will they manage to get elemental and enhancement up to parity with restoration in arenas? Do we even care at this point?

Time will tell, my own personal opinion is no, resto will still be the most popular arena choice, and no, not many of us care anymore. Perhaps this patch will change that.

Next week, I've been healing heroics! (I'm actually tabbing out from a Violet Hold run to write this.) How's it going? You'll find out.

World of Warcraft iGoogle theme

More and more people (myself included) are starting to use iGoogle as their homepage, because it's incredibly useful. There's all sorts of widgets you can use to customize your homepage, from useful things like the weather and a feed of the top news stories, to goofy things like games and videos. I started using it awhile ago, so I was excited to hear about the addition of World of Warcraft iGoogle theme.

The theme is pretty basic as far as its appearance goes: A little art on top, a little art on the bottom, and text colored to match. No absurd bells and whistles or major distractions. The cool thing this theme does, like a few other iGoogle themes, is it changes depending on the time of day in your region. When I first put this theme on my homepage earlier today it had a somewhat orange tinge to it all, the art being what I believe is Durotar. Orcs, all of that sort of thing. As of my writing this, it's only 2 PM Central and it's already switched over to the dark blue of the Lich King. It seems a bit early to be swapping to what appears to be the nighttime version of the theme, and it's somewhat depressing in an odd sort of way.

I'll still use it because... well, why not? I was using the default WoW iGoogle theme before, and that's downright boring. As a WoW Insider writer you'd probably expect me to urge you all to run out and use this theme right away, but nah. Use it if you want, it's pretty cool.

If you're a longtime gamer, it's going to be hard to turn down some of their other gaming themes to use this one. They also have Zelda, Galaga, Street Fighter, Super Mario, and Mega Man themes (along with other, less interesting games) available, so this one has some pretty stiff competition!

Prince Keleseth vs. Grand Magus Telestra

Prepare your spell counters:
it's magician versus magician in this week's Two Bosses Enter, as we pit Prince Keleseth of Utgarde Keep against Grand Magus Telestra of The Nexus.

There'll be no tricks or handicaps in this battle. The usual rules apply: assume that the opponents share similar levels, health pools and damage output, and that they are fighting in neutral territory. We'll allow Keleseth the use of his summoned skeletons. Remember, focus your debate on the three S's: Style, Story and Scale. Don't get caught up in game mechanics and what players might do in each encounter. Consider the flavor each villainous gladiator brings to bear, then cast your vote for who you think would come out on top.

Prince Keleseth
Prince Keleseth, the first boss of Utgarde Keep, is the Scourge overlord of Howling Fjord and ambassador to the Vrykul. If he seems a somewhat familiar figure –- that's because he is. You may have encountered Prince Keleseth in several other zones, quests and scenes.

Shadow Bolt Frost Tomb Periodically summons 5 Vrykal Skeletons

Bone Armor Decrepify
Read more about Prince Keleseth's battle tactics (especially how his summoned Vrykal Skeletons behave) and review player comments about how to fight him.

Grand Magus Telestra
Grand Magus Telestra is a High Elf mage of the Kirin Tor who has allied herself with Malygos in order to retain her arcane powers. She guards part of Keristrasza's prison inside The Nexus and is leader of the effort to redirect the ley lines in the Dragonblight.

Firebomb Ice Nova Gravity Well Mirror image: splits into Fire, Frost and Arcane forms
Read more about Grand Magus Telestra's tactics and how she uses her ability to split into mirror images of herself, and review comments from other player about their experiences fighting her.

The smackdown
The usual rules apply: assume that the opponents share similar levels, health pools and damage output, and that they are fighting in neutral territory. We'll allow Keleseth the use of his summoned skeletons. Vote for the spirit of the battle as set forth above.

Remember: no group-tactic or game-mechanic nitpicking, and no weaksauce yowls of "My group's cats faceroll these bosses while we're AFK BIO" –- yawn. Can you come up with a convincing scenario in the comments that will sway fellow readers to vote for your boss of choice?

March 22, 2009

The evolutionary design of Arena gear

When we reported on MMO Champion's sneak peek at the new Furious Gladiator gear, you might have found that new Arena sets were somewhat familiar. They should be. Arena Season 6 item sets are slight variations on a theme. Most of the pieces are recolored versions of the Season 5 multi-tier sets, but the head and shoulder pieces are entirely new models.

What many players who don't like the sets seem to miss on is that this is something entirely new in the game. Blizzard has always done recolored versions of armor, but this is the first time by my reckoning that they have done evolutionary tier gear. When I first encountered Blizzard's new multi-tiered PvP gear system, I was apprehensive about the next season's gear because I was afraid it would be difficult to match pieces visually. Arena gear had, prior to Season 5, been mere recolors of PvE raid sets, so there was no contuity from the one season to the next.

The problem with that was upgrading from one season's set to the other created visual clashes. As much as we like to min/max, PvPers like to look good, too. Enter Season 5 and the multi-tier gear system. There were three different sets of gear but all of them melded seamlessly into the other, with minor discrepancies in color. The introduction of an entirely new set of gear with completely different designs in Season 6 would have invalidated not just one but three sets of gear. However, the new design philosophy builds upon the older models, evolving -- as Alex put it -- like Azerothian Pokemon.

This approach solves the problem of clashing sets across seasons. The important distinction here is that, unlike PvE sets, PvP gear share set bonuses across tiers. That is to say, wearing one piece from each of the three -- soon to be four -- tiers of PvP gear will confer set bonuses. More than in PvE, players are led to upgrade directly through PvP tier gear, so wearing pieces across different tiers will always happen. The evolutionary designs ensure that transitioning from one tier to the next will keep character appearance cohesive. I know there's a bit of a debate about similar-looking sets, but this is a different animal.

If you don't like the base sets (Season 5), then obviously, fancier shoulders and helmets won't do anything for you. It took me a while to digest the understated designs of Wrath PvP gear, but the whole nipples-of-dragons argument made sense to me. Don't get me wrong, I still pine for faction-specific PvP sets, and I think the old Marshal / Warlord item sets were still some of the best designed gear, but I have grown to appreciate this new design philosophy. When I'm raiding, I'm in shiny green and gold, fancy winged Gundam armor. But when I PvP, I slap on a gunmetal set that's designed for business. I like that. I think it's a great idea.

The biggest and arguably only fault of the design team, really, is that there's decidedly a dearth of badassery. I mean, PvE gear is supposed to look regal and impressive and sometimes even awe-inspiring. They usually get that with raid sets. PvP gear, on the other hand, is supposed to be badass. That's all. Zarhym's whole soldiers-in-battle-ready-gear is a good concept, but man, the sets just really need more attitude. The good news is that the latest iterations show that they're trying to give these same sets some attitude.

The potential is pretty awesome. Remember that Blizzard's artists can just as easily change the skin of other pieces, not just "grow" the shoulders in future sets (if I'm not mistaken, they've very subtly changed the Shaman chest graphic). It's extremely possible to have different, badass PvP sets in future seasons, but hearkens to the base designs of Season 5. Zarhym stated that the looks of the sets would improve over the seasons -- while the original designs might have been underwhelming for some of the classes, the new sets are an improvement.

I really love that Blizzard is taking a completely different approach to armor design. It's evolutionary, if not revolutionary. There is no abandonment of previous designs, there's growth from them. This is really what Michael was so enthused about when he reported about Season 6 gear. I wish we'd seen that right away with the Deadly Gladiator shoulders and head pieces, but that might have tipped off their hand too early. I mean, alright, Season 5 Shamans looked like turtles, but they get to break away from that in Season 6. From funny-looking to fearsome? Not yet, sorry, but you get the idea.

Instead of expecting to see a new set each season, I'm excited to see how it evolves from the old. How the design team will utilize existing themes and build upon them. For the first time ever, we'll have entire sets that are direct upgrades or evolutions visually from their lower tier counterparts. As an artist, that's a different design challenge altogether. As underwhelmed as I was with the designs of the first iteration of Wrath PvP gear, I'm pretty stoked to see how far Blizzard's team will take this.

WoW Items Inventory and Money

If you've read this far, you know there's a lot of different items in the game. This site exists largely to chronicle the knowledge of equipment in games of this genre.

There are two ways two classify items - function and quality.

Function is the obvious. What's this item for?

Equipment is something you wear. A sword. A piece of armor. Duh, no brainer here. Equipment says exactly what inventory slot it is used in, and any aspect of the text written in red means that you can't use it for that reason. (Mail would be in red for a druid, level 35 would in red to a level 30 character.) Equipment is the only type of item that quality truly applies to, although tradeskill items sometimes have one.

Consumables are items you use. Food and drink. Potions. Scrolls of stamina. You right-click them in your bag, they do something, and they disappear. (Arguably, ammunition could be consumable, but that isn't how you use it.)

Quest items are objects you acquire, usually but not necessarily from corpses, that specifically say on them "quest item", and are for the explicit purpose of completing a quest. You will usually not see a quest item unless you actually have the quest. Some items for quests are not marked as "quest item"s, which means they have an additional purpose. True quest items do nothing else, and cannot be sold to vendor.

Junk items, sometimes called vendor trash, is anything that does not fall into one of the preceding categories, and when you mouse over it, its name appears in GRAY LETTERS. Anything that meets this criteria is only meant to be sold for money when you get back to town.

Tradeskill items are anything that doesn't have an obvious purpose, but has a name in usually white letters, or sometimes one of the higher-quality colors. It may not be obvious what exactly, but it will be used in *some* tradeskill recipe. Obviously herbs, ore, and leather fall into this category. Tradeskill items often make a decent sum of money in the auction house, but if you can't figure out what it's good for or don't feel like wasting the time, it might be worthwhile just to sell the item anyway. (Chances are there aren't too many people looking for Zesty Clam Meat anyway.)

And there are a few miscellaneous items that don't fall into any category. Bags have a fairly obvious purpose. If you have a mount or a non-combat pet, you will possess an item that calls or summons it. (Nightsaber reins, bird cage, cat carrier, etc.) Skinning knives, fishing poles, and mining picks aren't really tradeskill items, nor do they do anything directly.

Additionally, most things you wear have an item quality, indicated by the color of their name. Most items you pick up initially will be gray, indicating the poorest of quality. White is one step up from this. Generally gray and white items have no properties to them other than just "armor 13" or "damage 5-8." Low-level quest rewards and very high-level whites are sometimes an exception. Green items and anything above that, for all intents and purposes, are magic items. They possess some additional benefit beyond protection or damage, usually a bonus to one of your attributes. Sometimes the bonus will be an effect, like an effect on a weapon that causes extra damage. Unlike white or gray items, these can be disenchanted. Blue items are much rarer than green. Usually greens only have one or two bonuses on them. Blue items often have three. All other things being equal, though, blue items have much lower required level than green for the effect. Blue items typically come as treasure from killing a boss in an instanced dungeon. Green items are sometimes randomly generated, a la the Diablo suffix system, but blue items are always the same. There are even higher qualities of item. Purple items are much more powerful than blue, and are extremely rare outside of loot from raid bosses. Beyond that is the almost non-existent orange category. Allegedly, some day, there may be red after this.

The item qualities do technically have names. Nobody uses them, and just refers to the color, which often makes item discussions sound like racial bigotry. If you want the "proper" terminology, gray is poor quality, white is common, green is uncommon, blue is rare, purple is epic, orange is legendary and presumably red will be artifact items. Of these, epic and legendary are the only names that get used consistently.

There is one other very important attribute to equipment - binding. An item that is soulbound belongs to you. Forever.

You can sell it to a merchant, but you cannot trade it to another player. Quest rewards are nearly always soulbound so you are forced to do the quest yourself. Most green items you find along the way have the status "bind on equip." This means that you can trade the item, but as soon as you equip it, it becomes soulbound to you. Most blue items are "bind on pickup," meaning the person that loots it will keep it forever. This is usually an aspect of boss loot, and it is important the group discusses who gets the item before you blindly pick it up. DO NOT JUST TAKE BIND ON PICK-UP ITEMS UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES WHATSOEVER. Don't make me enlarge and bold that. This is the reason why so many different loot options exist, but it is still best to discuss with your group what is to become of an item. Anyone who takes an item without consulting the group is frequently referred to as a "ninja", and often a bad reputation can follow from that.

There are various aspects to the looting system, but typically players leave loot on Round Robin so the corpses cycle, and the game makes an exception for items above a certain "threshold" — by default this is green items, but players often switch it to blue. Most people follow a policy of NBG (need before greed) that mandates that if you are a warlock and you could loot a really nice bow, it should instead go to the hunter in the party. For this purpose, "need" for cash and disenchanting are on an even plane, and squarely below someone wanting an item because they would use it themselves (on that character.) If an item above the threshold appears, all members of the party will get a pop-up window with the item, a time bar, and three options — need, greed, and pass. Need is the dice option, meaning you want to roll against the other people who claim they need it. The game will pick random numbers for each person who chose need, and award the item to the highest "roller". Greed is the coin, and works just like the need option, in case nobody picks need. The circle with the slash means you simply wish to pass on the item altogether.

Sometimes players use a different system, so make sure you're clear on what is happening ahead of time. Because the need-before-greed window has a timer on it, sometimes the group wants everyone to pass so they can discuss the drops. If you need to then roll for an item, type /roll or /random. Highest roll (from 0 to 100) wins.

Money in the game consists of gold, silver, and copper pieces. 1 gold is worth 100 silver, 1 silver is worth 100 copper. There are a few different ways to get money, and a few ways to spend them. Here are just a few.

Getting money:
Killing things. Some creatures have coin on them, while others have random junk to sell. This will cover most of your *basic* expenses, and probably nothing more.
Completing quests. This is fairly negligible, although sometimes you can't make use of the item reward and can sell it for decent money.
Selling items. It might sound backwards, since this doesn't actually create money and just shuffles it, but the best place to get money is from other players by using the auction house. (Read below.)
Tradeskilling. This actually falls into the preceding category, but deserves its own mention. I will be perfectly honest with you: you will probably lose money on production skills unless you are a very good businessman. However, the demand for tradeskill supplies is always high, and this includes leather, herbs, ore and gems.

Spending money:
Class skills. You'll need your abilities to proceed. A level 20 isn't *that* much better than a level 18 except for the new abilities acquired at 20. Extra HP and higher weapon caps are helpful, but so are your mad skeelz. For some classes, you might find that you have a lot of abilities you don't see reason to spend money. I *personally* advise you do, but many players don't. It is my opinion that your skills, even if only used on rainy days, are always important to your survival, and are never really replaced. (Higher ranks usually require the lower ones.)
Equipment. At lower levels, the vendor is handy, but past level 10, you'll probably find most of your equipment purchases in the auction house. I will extend "equipment" in this sense to anything you might make use of while adventuring. In that sense, larger bags and healing potions are also things you might purchase.
Tradeskills. At least for the first 150 points of tradeskilling, you'll need to purchase recipes, patterns, etc. to actually make the items. To actually make an item, you will usually need additional stuff besides just the leather, cloth or herbs, and this stuff usually has to be bought. Examples include alchemy vials, coarse thread, and iron buckles. (Iron Buckles are an example of an item you will need to buy from other players - blacksmiths make them, and they are used in some tailoring and leatherworking recipes.)
Repairs. Your items lose durability, especially when you die, and you will need to pay to keep them in good working order.
Reagents. Some caster spells now have a reagent cost. While most players sincerely hope Blizzard reconsiders this, higher ranks of most buffs and a few other miscellaneous spells take components to cost. (By the way, it's reAgent, not regent. A regent is someone who rules in the place of a king.)
MOUNTS. At level 40, you are *able* to purchase a mount that will enhance your travel speed. You can't do anything on a mount besides ride, but most players love their mounts. Please be aware that while this is the first level you could own a mount, it is by no means expected that you WILL be able to afford the 100G to purchase a mount. When you reach level 60, you will almost assuredly not have the 1000G to get the faster mounts. (It should be noted that warlocks and paladins get class-specific mounts, and will not need to buy the level 40 one.)
Bank slots. Your bank holds only so much stuff. In addition to the actual slots you have, you can also purchase bag slots for extra space. At low levels, 10s for a slot that you can put a 5s bag in for 6 extra slots might sound decent, but later on it gets rather expensive. I believe I heard the prices were changed recently, so I won't quote any numbers, but it is such that during beta most players didn't have more than the fourth bag slot.
Resetting talents. It costs 1 gold for the first time you reset your talent points, 5 gold the second time, and eventually goes up to 50 gold. You can continue to "respec" for 50 gold after that. So if you don't like your talent choices, you don't have to restart a new character completely, but it is preferable to find what you want early on. Plan well.
Miscellaneous expenses. Some stuff that isn't major and doesn't fit any of the above. Training a new weapon skill. Riding a gryphon. These costs won't usually make or break the bank past level 10. There are also random "flavor" items on some vendors that serve no purpose other than to make the game more interesting, like non-combat pets, flower bouquets, and fancy dresses. Those things CAN be expensive.


The AH, that you've surely heard so much about, is a giant flea market where you can buy and sell items you need (or don't need.) Anything from equippable items to potions to tradeskill supplies to rare non-combat pets and a few select quest items can be found in the auction house. Items are done on the basis of BIDS. When you wish to put an item up for sale, you talk to an auctioneer and pick a time length you want the auction to run for. You then set a minimum bid and optionally a buyout price. There is a small overhead charged to you based on the item's vendor value and the length of the auction. (Choices are 2, 8, or 24 hours.) If you are on the market for something, or just want to browse, the auction house interface search feature is fairly straight forward. If you want to specify an item by name, type it in the name blank. If you are looking for a general kind of item, use the tabs below to pick specifically that you want, say, a piece of armor, type leather, for the arm slot. You can filter things down by adding a level range or by only seeing items your character could presently use. Make sure you don't put a level range when looking for tradeskill supplies or other things that have no level requirements. =p

As you peruse the items that meet your criteria, you can either refine your search or look at the bid and buyout prices of the items and consider putting money down on one. Bids will take money out of your gold supply, and will be held until the auction finishes or you are outbid. If you win the auction, the item will be in your mailbox. It you are outbid, the money from your bid will be instead.

Buyout is the means to escape the wait of the auction altogether, and is preferable for almost anything that is not a worn piece of equipment. Buyout prices are always higher than bid prices, but in the act of putting your money down, the auction ends and you instantly have the item placed in your mailbox.

Auction houses for each faction are located in Ironforge and Orgrimmar, near the entrances of the two cities. There are also two auction houses in the goblin cities of Everlook, Booty Bay, and Gadgetzan which both factions can make use of - and this is the only way an item can reach the other faction - but they aren't widely used due to being less accessible and having a higher charge to list items.

A brief bit of strategy for the auction house, folks: when you are listing an item, you should nearly always use a semi-realistic buyout price. You don't actually need to put a buyout, but unless people are bidding on some high-ticket rare sword or whatever, they will often sooner spend 50 silver for their healing potion now so they can use it on their upcoming adventure, rather than put 5 silver down for a potion they will get in a "long" or "very long" time. OTOH, saying you should always have a buyout price doesn't mean you should put down stupid-high buyouts like 30 gold for one piece of linen cloth.

Trading items is done by either picking a player and selecting trade, or highlighting the item and "dropping" it on the player. A simple trade interface appears that lets you place several items in the trade window, as well as any sum of money you have, and consent to the trade. If both parties agree, without the trade changing in-between, the game swaps them.

You cannot drop items on the ground. You also cannot trade to opposite faction members. The only way to transfer items between factions is through the neutral auction house, but on a PvP server, you can't play both factions on the same server anyway.

If you want to transfer an item to another character, mail it. Mailboxes are outside the inn, or in some cases the bank, in every town through Azeroth. (There won't be one at your newbie village, but the main town in the starting zone will have one.) Mailboxes have a few different looks to them, but they should be easy to spot. When you click on a mailbox, you are given two options - look at your mail, or send your own mail. If you choose to send a piece of mail, you must choose your recipient, give the letter a subject, and optionally you can either type a message or attach money or an item to the letter.

You will know if you have mail by a small icon around your mini-map. As you receive a piece of mail, it will appear in your in-box, and remain there for 30 days. Mail with items or money attached will show that in their icon. Basic messages will be letters. Click on a piece of mail and (if there is one) you can click on the item at the bottom to detach it and take it with you. Items can be sent COD. If someone sends you an item this way, you will have money taken from you and sent to that person if you accept the delivery. Be careful of mail scams.

If you don't want a piece of mail any longer, or simply want to return it to sender, you can either select "return" or "delete". Mail from the auction house will delete itself once you take the money/item attached. Unviewed mail stays in your in-box for 30 days, and then return to sender.

WoW Regarding Tradeskills

You are entitled to two "professions." No more. However a few skills are not considered professions. Fishing, Cooking, and First Aid are all considered "secondary skills" and don't count against your two. The actual professions can be divided into two groups: gathering and production. Almost every production skill has a gathering skill necessary to do it…you don't *have* to be an herbalist to do alchemy, but you're going to be buying a lot of herbs from other people if you don't.

A few notes on the individual tradeskills, both professions and not…

Herbalism collects herbs from flowers, bushes and roots that spawn in the zone. When you take herbalism as a profession, you will get an ability that lets you detect herbs on your minimap. You will find that in the basic tab of your spellbook. Gathering herbs from a plant is as simple as right-clicking on it, but make sure it's safe nearby! You will get 1 to 3 of whatever herb comes from the plant you are picking. If you fail, you can try again at no penalty.

Mining is like herbalism, except that you gather ore, stone, and gems from ore veins. Again, you get an ore detection skill. However, you must buy a mining pick to gather any resources from an ore node. Those can be bought from any basic trade supplies vendor. You do not need to equip it. Ore is found almost exclusively in hilly areas and underground. If you are a Night Elf, be aware that there are ZERO ore deposits in Teldrassil - it is, after all, a giant tree.
Mining also includes the ability to smelt the ores you collect. Go to a city and find a forge, and you can convert copper ore into copper bars. Smelting does not affect the stone you quarry or the gems you find.

Skinning is collected from creatures you or others have slain. After looting a corpse of a creature that can be skinned — almost always a "beast" — the game will indicate that the corpse is skinnable. You must have a skinning knife in your inventory, also buyable from a trade supplies vendor. The creature also must be FULLY looted, which can make skinning in a group a nuisance. In general, skins are much more widely available than herbs or ore, but leatherworking requires large quantities of leather, so there is no direct advantage there.

Fishing is the most unique of the gathering skills. Find a body of water, equip a fishing pole (bought), and select fish. Somewhere in the water, a fishing bobber will appear and eventually it will make a small dip to indicate you've got a bite. Right click on it to try to reel in your catch. When you first start off, you will get easily frustrated at the amount of catches that get away, but once you get your skill to 30 or so, it goes MUCH more smoothly. Make sure you start in very low-level areas, because the skill level required goes up very quickly.

Those were the gathering skills. Here's what you can do with them.

Smithing uses mostly ore to make weapons and heavy armor, as well as a few other metallic odds and ends like skeleton keys, shield spikes, and sharpening stones. At higher levels, smithing can specialize into weaponsmithing and armorsmithing. Smithing requires a smithing hammer and must be done at an anvil.

Leatherworking produces leather armor and armor kits for slight improvement of the armor rating of equipment. Some leather items are not made wholly from leather and vendor items; you will occasionally need other random animal parts such as murloc scales, or an alchemy potion related to the item. At high levels, leatherworking specializes into Elemental, Tribal, or Dragonscale leatherworking. You can only pick one.

Tailoring creates clothing out of cloth. There is no gathering skill for getting cloth. Instead, one must gather it from humanoid creatures. Any time you kill a defias bandit, a furbolg, a scarlet crusade member or a venture co. miner, for example, you have a chance to get linen. Higher level creatures will eventually drop the more advanced types of cloth. If any gathering skill goes with tailoring, it would be skinning, since tailoring can also make bags with the inclusion of some leather. This is fairly minimal though. Tailors are generally free to choose any second profession they want, and many become enchanters since that skill also stands alone.

Alchemy makes potions from herbs. Potions take on two varieties - potions that give short term effects, such as a potion of agility, and those that give immediate effects, like a healing potion. Because the act of gathering herbs is more labor-intensive than many non-herbalists realize, the market for potions is not as strong as it could be, but there are select potions that consistently sell well to players. Some potions require non-herb components, usually in the form of oils derived from fish. Thus, alchemists will often take up fishing, but this isn't a necessity. Alchemy potions are also used in several recipes among the other production skills, such as an intellect potion being used for a tailoring robe intended for mages.

Engineering is the strangest tradeskill. Strange, because most of the items it makes require you to be an engineer to use. This makes it a popular choice among people who want to be able to do everything, since they can let somebody else do the work for other tradeskills. Engineering is especially popular among paladins who have no ranged attack and can lob the bombs it makes, and hunters who enjoy the benefits of self-made guns and ammunition. There are all kinds of other quirky items engineers can make though, from target dummies to gnomish shrink rays. Engineering also produces head slot items potentially before you could acquire one yourself, since head items tend to have at least a required level of 20. Engineered items primarily - but by no means exclusively - are made with mined ore.

Enchanting is the often-forgotten tradeskill because, to steal a company's tag-line, it doesn't make the armor you wear. It makes the armor you wear better. Enchanting is not a skill to take lightly: it is highly expensive. The components gathered for enchanting are created by the enchanter by DIS-enchanting other magical items. Generally speaking, this means items that have any stats on them besides just damage for weapons or just AC for armor, which you would ordinarily sell in the auction house for money, instead gets destroyed to make enchanting components. It is also thought by many to be the most powerful tradeskill because of the way it can enhance everything else. Since many tradeskilled items beyond the basic starter items have magical properties to them, an easy way to get items to disenchant is to take them from someone who is mass-producing a particular item to raise their skill level. Enchanters can freely take another tradeskill, so tailoring with its lack of gathering skill is appealing in this regard.

Cooking makes food from, well, foodstuffs. Killing creatures often gives some kind of meat or giblets or whatnot. Fishing gives fresh fish that can be fileted. Cooking can be very handy for a soloing warrior or a hunter that is trying to keep his pet fed. Sadly, food only restores HP and not mana, and there are only a few select recipes that don't just regenerate health beyond the "well-fed" buff that cooked food gives. (This adds some spirit and stamina to your character after eating cooked food, rather than bought or summoned food.) Cooking requires a fire to make items. There are fires in town or you can bring tinder to make your own on the road.

First Aid is another skill for non-healing classes. Cloth gathered from humanoids, rather than being used for tailoring, can be fashioned into bandages which can then restore a small amount of health. You can only apply a bandage to a target once every 60 seconds, and neither you nor the target can be getting hit during the bandaging.

So the question everyone always wants to know is, Which professions would be best for *me*, as a , to do?

Here are some of the common tradeskill combinations and who often does them:

Mining/Smithing: Warriors and Paladins for armor, sometimes Rogues for weapons
Mining/Engineering: Paladins for bombs, Hunters for ranged weapons and goblin jumper cables, everyone for the unique engineering-only items
Skinning/Leatherworking: Any leather-wearing class
Herbalism/Alchemy: Anyone who likes to use potions, often warriors or priests
Skinning/Tailoring: Cloth-wearers interested in being career clothiers and bag-makers
Tailoring/Enchanting: Enchanters looking for easy source of disenchantable items
Herbalism/Skinning: People who seek easy profit, since gathering skills have no overhead cost
Skinning/Mining: Same as above. Herbalism/Mining isn't normal since you can't have both tracking skills active at once.

Note that none of these include fishing, cooking or first aid since they do not count against your two profession limit.

As your skill increases through use, you will need to visit trainers periodically. Production skills can learn new recipes from trainers, and everyone will need to train to a new plateau at 75, 150, and 225. An apprentice trainer cannot teach you past the basic level, and will refer you to a journeyman. When you outlevel the journeyman's skill, they will suggest an expert, who will later suggest an artisan. There is only one artisan for every single tradeskill (per faction, anyway.) Enchanters in particular are a little screwed over because their artisan trainer is hidden in a dungeon rather than in a town!

Secondary skills are trained at the 150 point level by special books you have to buy from somewhere. For instance, the fishing book is sold in Booty Bay, and costs 1 gold. People often buy them for resale in the Auction House if you don't know where to go or don't want to go there.

Some recipes only drop randomly from creatures as loot, and some are sold from special "limited supply" vendors. Check the site's listing for each type of combine your skill can do. If it has a recipe listed, it does not come from a standard trainer.

Other general information about tradeskills:

You will NEVER fail a production combine. If you fail a gathering combine, you can simply try again, since the ore vein won't disappear until you harvest it.

Tradeskill difficulty is color-coded. Either the background of the item name in the production menu or on the tag of the item you are trying to harvest will be color-coordinated. Something that is an average challenge for you shows as yellow. Easy items you are unlikely to gain skill from are green, and gray are trivial. Challenge items you will almost definitely gain skill from are orange. Red items cannot be attempted. You'll note that this color arrangement extends to quests in your quest log, and to the level of creatures you have targeted, to a similar effect.

Any item that is not clearly part of a quest or a worn item, but has its name in a color other than gray, usually white, is used for *some* tradeskill recipe. Items you find on creatures such as large fangs and goretusk livers might not *seem* like tradeskill items, but their name will be listed in white because they are used for alchemy and cooking, respectively.

While you can only have two professions, you are not locked into them forever. You can abandon a tradeskill by pressing K to get to the skills menu, finding the profession on the list and clicking on it, and then clicking the small "no" sign at the bottom of the window to unlearn it. At that point you can pick up a new skill. If you ever return to that skill, you will have to begin from scratch, and this does not clear your specialization choices.

WoW Character Creation

Creating your character

There are two things you need to decide when creating your character. You will need to choose a race/class, but first you will need to pick a server to start on. Assuming you don’t have a friend on a server that you want to play with, the decision to be made is player versus player (PvP) or non-PvP. (This is called normal by the game, and PvE or player vs environment/enemy by players.) There is also a third type of server called RP (role-playing) where people are supposed to be more intent on playing as their characters, rather than merely playing their characters. An RP server is usually just a special type of PvE server, except for one or two “RP-PvP” servers.
There is PvP content on the PvE servers. Don’t think you’ll be completely missing out. However on the PvE servers, if you’re an orc and you run across a human, you can’t fight him unless he agrees to fight you. There is a “PvP mode” you enter and at that point anyone on the other side can attack you (and thus enter PvP mode themself.) In other words, PvP is consentual on the non-PvP servers.

On the PvP servers, you can attack the other faction at any time. If you want to, you can be a level 50 player and go kill level 15’s. The absolute newbie zones are protected, but everywhere else is “contested territory” where it’s open season. However, killing someone close to your level will earn you honor, while killing a trivial low-level player will not. There is never a direct penalty for fighting someone, and you must be prepared to have that happen to you at the most inopportune times.

PvP adds a certain element of realism - it puts the war in warcraft. However, if you are not a fan of being at the whim of other players, you might be better off playing PvE. PvE servers are, in fact, the majority of the servers.

The other obvious dilemma in starting the game is choosing a combination of race and class. Not all combinations are available. I recommend choosing a class first, and then a race to match, because some classes may suit your playstyle more than others, and overall it is the much more significant decision.

A brief run-down of classes:

races - all
tanking - highest, damage - decent, utility - low, healing - basic

Warriors are the guys up front in plate armor. They can take the blows, and are expected to try to keep anyone else from taking them if they can. They certainly can deal damage though, and have three battle stances to reflect their balance of offense and defense. Rather than having mana, warriors generate rage to activate their special abilities as the battle goes on, and have quite a few combat skills to use, not all of them available in every stance.

Warriors wear mail initially, later plate, and can use nearly all weapon types. They start with a one-handed sword and shield.

races - human, dwarf
tanking - decent, damage - low, utility - high, healing - decent

Paladins are the Alliance-only class. Paladins have virtually no genuine combat skills. Instead, they have a few other abilities to juggle. First, they have auras, which are permanent effects around the paladin (armor bonus, damage reflection, etc.) Second, they have “blessings” that are short term buffs on their teammates which fairly potent effects, only one of which works at a time. Third, they have “seals” that are self-only effects that last for 30 seconds. Seals are both strong in nature, and can also be released as a “judgement” that then becomes a status effect on their target. (A seal that gives the paladin life per hit becomes a judgement than gives anyone hitting that target life per hit.) They can also heal and rez, although they probably aren’t the best choice for a main healer.

Paladins can use mail armor, plate later on, and can equip many non-ranged weapons. They start with a two-handed mace.

races - Tauren, Troll, Orc
tanking - decent, damage - decent, utility - high, healing - decent

The Horde’s answer to the paladin, the shaman is a true hybrid that can function as melee damage dealer, magic damage dealer, tank, or main healer. While a shaman can potentially do any one or two of these things, it really is up to the shaman to choose a style that fits them, based on their talent choices. Shamans also have the ability to lay totems, which create local effects. The totems each have an element (fire, air, earth, water) and only one of each type can be used at a time. The totems are attackable, and most only have a few hit points, but are immune to AE effects. Examples of totems are a healing spring totem that gives nearby party members health over time, an earthbind totem that roots nearby enemies, and a fire nova totem that detonates after a few seconds in a fiery explosion.

Shamans can wear leather armor, learn mail later, and start with a staff.

Races - all but Tauren
tanking - moderate, damage - highest?, utility - moderate, healing - basic

Rogues are perhaps the masters of combat damage. However, they can not take damage anywhere near as well as a warrior can, despite having an exceptionally high dodge rating. Rogues are also able to stealth and sneak up behind opponents, with special skills to initiate combat from hiding, including the ability to sap an opponent, stunning him for a lengthy period of time. Rogues do not use mana, but rather energy that drains as they use it, but fills very quickly on its own. Unlike mana pools, a rogue’s energy pool is always out of 100. Some skills the rogue performs adds a “combo point” to that target, and other skills are refered to as finishing moves, and have a stronger effect based on how many combo points are on that target. The points become spent when the rogue does this, and cannot be transferred to another target.

Rogues wear leather and can use most one-handed weapons and ranged weapons. They start with a dagger.

Races - Tauren, Night Elf
tanking - decent, damage - low, utility - high, healing - high

Take those traits above lightly: druids are able to shapeshift into two animal forms, a bear and a cat, that make the druid behave like a warrior or a rogue. The bear can tank, the cat can sneak and deal melee damage, or the druid can remain in caster form and be a potent user of nature magic. As a caster, druids have arguably the best buff spell in the game, and various healing skills at their disposal. Compared to the priest, the druid’s spells focus more on being over time. Druids can also nuke to some degree, although not as potently as the true caster classes.

Druids wear leather and can use daggers, one-handed maces, and staves. They start with a staff.
races - Night Elf, Dwarf, Troll, Orc, Tauren
tanking - moderate, damage - high, utility - moderate, healing - low

Hunters are the masters of ranged combat, dealing damage more effectively with a bow or shotgun than anyone else. While their emphasis is on their ranged combat, they are also capable at close range, and are skilled survivalists that use traps and the beasts of the wild to their advantage. In fact, hunters can tame beast-type creatures to be their pets, and after building a degree of loyalty with that pet, teach them skills that make them effective at dealing damage or tanking for the hunter while he shoots his target. Hunters have a line of buff spells called aspects, of which they can only use one at a time, and which mostly only affect the hunter. Hunters are especially known for their mark ability that highlights a creature and puts a big floating arrow above it to indicate a target for others, as well as increasing ranged damage against it.

Hunters begin with leather armor and can learn to wear mail, and can use almost all weapon types. They usually start with a one-handed axe and either a gun or a bow (with ammo pouch or quiver.)

races - Night Elf, Human, Dwarf, Troll, Undead
tanking - low, damage - moderate, utility - decent, healing - highest

Priests are the stereotypical holy healers of the game. They are NOT clerics, though. These guys do not walk around with a shield and plate armor. Instead, they have two sets of magical spells - one divine and the other of darker “shadow” magic. Generally, the divine spells are more healing-oriented and the shadow powers deal damage and manipulate powers of the mind. Priests are known for their spell “Power Word: Shield”, which is a short-term buff that absorbs a certain amount of damage before it fades, which allows the priest a sort of last-second heal or helps the priest channel spells while under attack.

Priests can only wear cloth armor, and can use daggers, wands, one-handed maces and staves. They start with a mace.

races - Human, Gnome, Undead, Orc
tanking - low, damage - decent, utility - decent, healing - low

Warlocks are not the masters of dealing damage quickly, but they can generate a lot of it over time with the use of “damage over time” spells. They are the users of dark magics, and draw their powers largely for demonic arts. To that end, warlocks are able to summon one of five different demon pets to fight for them. Warlocks have the ability to summon players from anywhere, so long as two group members assist with the ritual. They can also create soulstones that auto-resurrect a player with just a few HP and mana shortly after they die.

Warlocks can only use cloth armor, and wield staves, daggers, wands, or one-handed swords. They start with a dagger.

races - Human, Gnome, Undead, Orc, Troll

Mages are the blasters of the game, able to deal heavy amounts of magical damage in a very short period of time. Aside from being masters of frost, fire, and arcane arts, they can summon their own food and drink, as well as create teleportation portals to major cities. Mages are also widely-known for their use of polymorph, a spell that turns a target into a sheep for a period of time as long as it remains undisturbed, effectively removing it from combat.

Mages wear cloth, and wield staves, daggers, wands, or one-handed swords. They start with a dagger.

All listed non-starting weapon proficiencies must be trained.

Race is a bit less of a decision. There are some bonuses to race, which I won’t outline, as they are only intended to have minor effect and add flavor to the game. Use the sidebar to read up on races if you like. While some races’ attributes are more helpful to some classes than others, like the Orc’s command that adds 5% to pet damage being better for hunters and warlocks than non-pet classes, or the gnome’s Expansive Mind that adds bonus intellect to mages and warriors alike, the important thing is to play the race that you most see yourself playing (if it is available for your class.) Also keep in mind which races are Horde or Alliance, if that should matter to you. Picking the right class is much more important, as is being happy with your character even if some geeky person considers it to be “sub-optimal” just because you don’t have War Stomp or whatever.

You do have some minor options to adjust your appearance with things like skin shade, hair style, facial hair, etc. This isn’t going to impact your gameplay, and both genders are equal in all ways, so just pick whatever looks prettiest to you or whatever.

Enter your name - something NAME-LIKE and moderately original, or you run the risk of having it changed - and press create. You’re ready to start.

WoW Basic Concepts

Every starting area begins with a simple kill quest, has a quest to collect groundspawns, at least two distinct themes of quests, and eventually sends you twice into a nearby cave. Try to do them all, if you can. When you've finished all this stuff, you'll be given a quest of great importance to the next town over, which will serve as the focal point for the rest of your time in your first zone. (Press M to look at your map, and you'll see you haven't even scratched the surface of it.)

After two or three hours, and getting to level 5 or 6, it's probably time to move on. If you are a troll or orc, there might seem to be two choices, but use Razor Hill. For everyone else, it's as simple as traipsing down the road, albeit that road is mildly dangerous for dwarves and gnomes.

Your opening zone will effectively consist of four places:
1. The starting area, where you just came from
2. The first town, where you get your next batch of quests and various other stuff.
3. The capital, where all the real hustle and bustle of your race is
4. Everywhere else, where you will actually do your quests

There are several things you will want to do when you reach the main town for the zone:

Search for questgivers - there will be several new quests to get in the town and in the nearby areas. (If there is a nearby questgiver outside of town, there will usually be a mini-quest that sends you there, such as to Denalan, Sen'Jin Village, or Steelgrill's Depot. Don't always expect to be led to new quests, though. Explore!)

Re-set your hearthstone with the innkeeper - you probably haven't had incentive to use it yet, but your hearthstone is a valuable resource. You should try to keep it set to an area nearby to facilitate quick returns to town. Its intended purpose is to allow you to leave the game suddenly if you need to.

Consider getting started on tradeskills - you will need to train (nearly for free) the basics of a tradeskill in order to begin learning it. Not all tradeskills are going to be available to learn in the town, and you may need to go to your capital. If you talk to a guard in town, they can usually tell you if there is indeed a skinning trainer, for example. Since there is no ore anywhere on Teldrassil, a Night Elf will have to wait a bit to start on mining, blacksmithing, and engineering, but in any other case, you should consider getting started right away. If you need to go to the capital, it should probably be further down the road, but you might want to check the signposts…especially for Undead, since you'll actually need to double back from Brill.

Read below for more information on tradeskills.

If you want to train a weapon skill you don't have, first check (on the site) to make sure it is a legal choice for your class - no priests with guns or warriors with magic wands - and then go to your capital city to look for a trainer. Ask a guard for directions to find the weapon trainer. It may be that the weapon you want to train isn't offered in your starting city and you have to travel to another. This can be a nuisance, you may want to bear with it for now, but refer to transportation in a later section to get to the other cities.

Now that you're moving on with the rest of your adventures, a few concepts to be aware of.

Experience is gained from killing creatures or completing quests. Both are effective means of gaining experience, but there is a balance to be struck between the two.

Quest experience is intended to be a bonus to balance the fact that you had to perform a specific task rather than killing any random ol' creature. Quest experience alone will not gain you levels, so getting advanced help to finish every quest in your log quickly will often leave you below the level you would expect to be from finishing an area. If you finish all the quests in your starting area and you aren't level 10 yet, you either missed some or arguably you grouped too much and will need to go "grind" some or find another zone for that level range.

Experience from creatures, aka grinding, is a fixed amount per creature, divided by the number of people in your group, and modified a little by your level compared to the target. (At level 40, you will gain no experience for a level 10 creature. At level 8, you would get a slight bonus from that target.) If there is someone in your party that is significantly higher in level, this amount will be reduced. Also, you will only gain experience equal to the amount of damage you and your groupmates do the creature. If you are struggling against a monster, and get it to half before some helpful person comes up and rescues you by killing it quickly, you will only get half the experience. Your loot will be unaffected.

Only the person who attacks a creature first will get any experience or looted. When the first damage is dealt, that creature is considered "tapped". Where you have it targeted, the color of its name will turn from red or yellow to gray. If your target has a gray name, someone snuck in a hit before you. Perhaps you didn't even see them - this happens often with hunters. Don't be disappointed when you get nothing for killing it, although you may still have to defend yourself from it!

Be considerate of other players, though. It's very rude to quickly run past a mage charging a spell just to smack the creature with your sword before the spell can finish. The number one rule to playing an MMORPG is to remember that reputation matters. People remember who you are, and you can't avoid them forever like you might on by joining another game or changing your handle.

At some point you will get sent to your race's capital for a quest. If you get lost, read the quest carefully for a section of the city. If you look at your map in the main city, it will change to a local map that will help you navigate. For other points of interest, such as the bank, class and weapon trainers, or transportation centers, ask any normal guard for directions.

Every capital has a bank in it. These are nearly the only places there are banks, but they all share the same bank account - items you store in Orgrimmar will be in Thunder Bluff waiting for you. You cannot store money, but there is no need or incentive to. You don't lose money when you die, and nobody can loot your stuff in PvP.

To that effect, you've probably died once by now and have already seen this, but when you die, you will get an option to "release spirit" and become a ghost. You are given this option in case someone wants to resurrect you, or your group is in the middle of fighting a boss you want credit for killing, even though you are dead. After you release, you will appear at the nearest graveyard, and you have three options:

1) Run back. When you get near your corpse, you can restore yourself to life.
2) Be resurrected. Priests, paladins, shamans and druids can bring you back to life. You will return with resurrection sickness that lowers your stats for a few minutes, but you won't have to run back.
3) Use the spirit healer. In the graveyard is an angelic being known as the spirit healer, that is only visible when you are dead. If you talk to the spirit healer, she can resurrect you in the graveyard, for a price. You will receive an ailment called Resurrection Sickness, that will lower your attributes by 75% for a while. Your items will also lose 25% of their durability, which means they may break and need fixing. Don't use the spirit healer unless you need to. It's almost always better to run back!

(All deaths incur a 10% durability loss regardless of how you resurrect, but only to the things you are actually wearing. The spirit healer damages even the things in bags.)

Which leads to the next topic of durability. You might have had a diagram of a set or armor with one item in yellow or maybe red. This indicates that item has low durability. When the item reaches zero, the item is broken and will not work. It can be repaired and be fully functional again.

You can restore items to max durability by going to a vendor who sells some sort of weapons or armor, and selecting the repair option. At lower levels, this is a trivial cost, but it scales up with your equipment. However, if you use the spirit healer, which completely breaks all your equipment, including those in your bag, this cost might be more than you can afford.

When you repair, make sure you don't accidentally sell the item you wanted to repair. But if you do, you can click the tab on the vendor window that says "Buyback" and retrieve some of the recent items you sold.

Eventually you will finish all the quests in your newbie zone and have to say goodbye. *sniff* Refer to the section after the information on tradeskilling about transportation.

Interacting With Other Players in WoW

You might have seen players walking by and not known how to communicate with them. You might have also seen lines of text whizzing by in the general chat channel for your starting area. In general, any action you want to take that isn't done with the mouse is a "slash-command", meaning it starts with a front-slash.

Type /wave, and press enter, for example. Your character will wave at the open air, and a message will say so. This is called an emote. It is one of but many kinds of slash commands.

So how do you talk to that person next to you? Type /say and before you hit enter, follow it up with a message. /say hi. (The /say will probably disappear after you press space, for reasons that will become clear later.)

There should even be a speech bubble that appears near your character, indicating that you are talking. /say is the command for talking to people immediately next to you, but perhaps you want to talk privately to someone. In this case, you can use /tell followed by the person's name, and the chatbar will instantly change to purple, indicating that you will send a private message to that person. Now whatever you type next will simply go to that person. As an alternative to "tell", you can use "whisper", or abbreviate to just a 't' or a 'w'. In other words…
/tell azuarc hi
/whisper azuarc hi
/t azuarc hi
/w azuarc hi
…are all the same thing. They will give azuarc a message of "hi".

OK, so most of you probably already know this stuff from playing other games. I'll cut to the chase. There are a bunch of other slash commands that you can put in your text bar by clicking on the speech bubble button by your chat window, and selecting them. The emote and voice commands bring up sub-menus that don't actually talk, but play around with them if you like.

What about that brownish text [1. General - Dun Morogh] that keeps floating by? That's simple. Start a message with /1. (/1 Hey everyone, I'm new here.) Anything you type in the /1 channel will go out to everyone that is in it, which will be basically everyone in your starting zone. Don't be a loser and spam everyone with useless crap, but don't be afraid to use it.

However, if somebody else is irritating you and you want to leave that channel, you can type /leave 1 (for channel #1, which should be general.) I recommend you do this for the two defense channels, numbers 3 and 4. If you leave general and want to come back, type /join general.

If you want to know if a particular person is on-line to send a tell to them, there are two things you can do. You can try to send the message anyway, and get an error message if they don't exist. Or you can check if they are logged in first by using the /who command.

Typing /who allakhazam would do a search to see if there was anyone on with allakhazam as their name. Partials also work, so you could also find Al by typing /who alla.

The who command also works for classes, level ranges, races, guild names, and a bunch of other stuff. There is a chance if you try it on something more general, like /who warrior, it will bring up the social menu.

The social menu is the button with the ! in a balloon that can be brought up with the O key. Under the who tab, you can do the exact same things as with the /who command. Longer lists will automatically go to this window though.

Also in the social menu are the friend and ignore tabs. In these submenus, you can make lists of people that you want to regard as friends or whom you want to block all message from. In general, don't put people on ignore unless they REALLY tick you off, and take them off later. If you want to add someone to your friend's list, it will tell you in this menu if they are on-line, where they are if they're logged in, and you will also get log-on and log-off messages in your chat window for them.

There are two other possible tabs in the social menu which you might not have, guild and raid. If you are in a guild, the guild tab will tell you who is on-line from your guild. Guild members also give log-on messages by default. The raid tab is simply a listing of the people and groups in your raid. (A raid is two or more groups linked together.)

Since we've mentioned all the other menus, we may as well talk about the last two buttons on the menu bar. The computer button is the options menu. It gives you a choice of options relating to video , sound, interface, or macros, plus the choice to log off or exit the program. The question mark button is the help window, if you need to petition a game master. (The window will explain when it is ok and when it is not to look for the help of a GM.)

One last thing about working with other players. If you want to get into a party with someone, target them, right-click their portrait, and pick invite. This will give them a pop-up window asking them if they want to join your group. (Or maybe they will invite you first!)

You can have up to five people in a group, and while grouped, you split experience and potentially the items that drop. Quests that aren't "collect" quests are usually easier in a group, so if someone is doing the same quest, invite them!

In a group, '/party' or '/p' will talk to your teammates. Note that once you've used this once, just pushing enter and typing will default to party. (Before, it would have been a 'say'.)

The group leader will have a crown next to his or her portrait. If you are the group leader, and you right-click your own portrait, you can set the loot mode for the group. "Group loot" means that everyone takes turns, but you will get a pop-up to roll for higher quality items. Round Robin is the same without the rolling. Free-for-all is no restrictions. The other options aren't as significant.

If you are in a group and a corpse is yours to loot, it will sparkle yellow. You're probably used to that by now. If it is not your's to loot, though, you will not get sparkles. Money is automatically split in a group, so under group loot.

If you want to leave a group, right-click your portrait and select 'leave party.'
More WoW Cheats> WoW Gold Cheats

WoW Mounts: Transportation and Getting Around

There are two obvious aspects of travel - how to do it in general, and specifically how to get to where you want to go.

First, modes of travel. Traveling by foot is a little bit slow. A few classes get ways to increase their running speed, (shaman ghost wolf, druid travel form, hunter aspect of the cheetah,) but the best-known way to run faster is to use a mount. Unfortunately, this will not be an option for you until level 40, and it is also very expensive unless you are a paladin or a warlock (who get free mounts.)

If you want to travel to an entirely different zone, there is air travel available. (This is not the Horde zeppelin.) The snag is you must have already been somewhere to fly to it. When you arrive at a new town, look for a "gryphon master" or "wind rider", etc., with a green exclamation point above their head. They will open that location for you to fly there, and then for a small fee you can use that person to purchase a flight to any connecting points. Even if you've been to the other location, if it is far away, you might not be able to fly directly there and have to make an in-between stop. Horde and Alliance have different flight types on each continent but they amount to the same thing, whether you are taking a gryphon, a wyvern, a bat, or a hippogryph.

If you want to actually leave the continent, though, you're going to need to use a boat. I use this term lightly because the Horde ride a zeppelin across the ocean, however the Alliance and the neutral goblin factions both use boats. Compared to the flights, boats are nice because they are free. You just step on. However, they are also not personal, and you have to wait on the dock for the (air)ship to arrive. If you miss a trip, you will be waiting about 10 minutes for the next one, as that is the round trip time. A healthy chunk of that is spent waiting for passengers, so really a boat ride is more like 3-4 minutes of actual travel time. There are Alliance boats in Auberdine and Theramore (Kalimdor) that connect to Menethil Harbor in the Eastern Kingdoms. The Horde has zeppelins from Orgrimmar that connect to the undead capital known as the Undercity and Grom'Gol in southern Azeroth. There is also a boat run by goblins that travels from Ratchet in The Barrens to Booty Bay in Stranglethorn Vale.

There are two other ways to travel. Mages can create portals that allow them, or eventually their groupmates as well, to teleport to the major cities of their faction. Warlocks can summon a member of their group from anywhere in the world, but the summoning ritual requires that two other group members be present.

Now for the more pressing question: How does my Night Elf get to the Human lands? Maybe your friend is playing a different race. Maybe you just don't like your starting zone. Either way, this is a common question, and it is most often asked by Night Elves because they are the most cut-off of the races. (Undead are also separated by continent, but the zeppelin for them travels right to Orgrimmar.) So here is a very brief outline of how to get around and from place to place in the earlier zones of the game:

Let's start with Horde because it's simpler. There is a zeppelin for Undead partway between their capital, The Undercity, and Brill. It goes directly to the Orcish city of Orgrimmar. Getting to and from the Tauren lands involves a little more running. The MAJOR second zone for the Horde, the Barrens, is simply huge, and lies between the Tauren and the Orcs. Traveling between the two is as simple as running along the roads. There is a big long straight line that runs down the middle of the Barrens called the Gold Road. The trip as simple as getting to the Gold Road, using it, and getting off it. The Tauren "exit" is by Camp Taurajo. The place to turn to reach the Orcs is the first fork to the east after passing through the Crossroads. There are signs along the way for Mulgore and Durotar.

The Alliance cities are Stormwind (human), Ironforge (dwarf/gnome), and Darnassus (night elf). Stormwind and Ironforge are connected by a subway system that runs from the Dwarven District of Stormwind to Tinker Town in Ironforge. There is also a flight that connects the two once you arrive. Traveling to and from Darnassus is not so simple. The connection to the Night Elves' continent is Menethil Harbor in the Wetlands, which is not near a major starting location. So this gets a little complicated.

To travel from Darnassus to Ironforge, you must first pass through the teleporter behind the bank. It's a weird pink glowy-thing on an island by itself. After you run through it, you will be near the water's edge in Rut'theran Village. Go down to the docks and wait for the boat to arrive. This is not "the" boat and will only take you to the mainland, at Auberdine. Auberdine is where the real boat is. The pier that the boats harbor at has two docks. When you arrive, simply run straight across to the other one and wait for that boat. That will take you to the other continent. Once in Menethil, talk to the gryphon master there, and then take the road out of town, and stay on it as it curves around to the southeast. This territory will be HOSTILE. The mobs here are all above level 20, and Wetlands is a popular PvP zone. Whatever happens, just keep running. If you die, run back and start running again.

When you reach the zone edge, you will reach a tunnel that leads to an upward path in the mountains called Dun Algaz. Passing through Dun Algaz leads to the Dwarven second zone of Loch Modan. Loch Modan's road system looks like the letter F, if you turn it around. There is a long north-south road, and two paths that lead off it to the west, one toward the north, and one much farther south. It doesn't matter which you take, so for the sake of argument, use the south one - run all the way along the zone, past the town of Thelsamar, until you reach the gates that lead to the southern pass. (You might stop in Thelsamar for the flight point there!) This is a tunnel that leads into Dun Morogh, the dwarven starting zone. Follow the road until it turns north about halfway through the zone, and look for a path up into the mountains off to the right. That will take you to Ironforge.

If you want to travel TO the Night Elf lands, simply run this route in reverse. Menethil Harbor is at the far west end of the Wetlands. Either way, make sure you know where your hearthstone is set before you use it, and make sure you pick up flight points along the way. If Blizzard allowed Night Elves to start with the Ironforge flight path, traveling there from Menethil would be far simpler.

More on WoW mounts:

Your race mount can be bought at level 40. There is a second faster speed, often called the epic mount, that can be bought at level 60. Level 40 mounts move at 160% of player speed, epic mounts travel at 200%. (Compared to the run speed buffs which are all 130 or 140%.)

To purchase a mount, you must travel to a location related to your race's mount, and pay for a riding lesson and the mount itself. The combined cost is 100 gold, minus discounts from faction or PvP rank. Many people will say it costs 90 gold since nearly everyone is honored with their own race by level 40. The "epic" level 60 mounts carry a price tag of 1000 gold, which is more likely 900 or possibly 800 if you have both discounts.

You can only purchase your race's mount without doing an excruciating amount of faction work. You *can* purchase a mount of another race if you have exalted reputation with them. Here are the racial mounts and where to purchase them:

Human - horse, Eastvale Logging Company in Elwynn Forest*
Dwarf - ram, Amberstill Ranch in Dun Morogh
Gnome - mechanostrider, Steelgrill's Depot in Dun Morogh
Night Elf - nightsaber (cat), Cenarion Enclave in Darnassus

Troll - raptor, Sen'jin Village in Durotar
Orc - worg, Valley of Honor in Orgrimmar
Tauren - kodo, Bloodhoof Village in Mulgore
Undead - undead horse, Brill in Tirisfal Glades

*There are a few horse mounts sold elsewhere.

WoW Quests parties and instances

Yes, wow quest content gets boring after a while. We all know that there are only three types of quests - kill, collect, and deliver. When you get down to it though, there isn’t much else that can be done that will actually work. Suggest all you want, there’s probably a reason your idea hasn’t been tried, and not because nobody thought of it. At least every quest has a unique storyline. (Or someone asks you to collect something stupid for a stupid reason, usually a cook. Cooks seem to put anything imaginable and then some into their food…I really couldn’t stomach Azeroth cuisine.)

Nevertheless, the quests in the game are what make the game interesting and keep the player feeling like they have a purpose beyond just whack this killer rabbit here, that single-celled organism there.

Many people at lower levels (pre-20) complain that the game is World of Solocraft. Ironically people at the higher-end often have issue with finding things they can do on their own besides just kill random mobs. The questing content in this game progressively switches from almost exclusively solo to largely group-based as you level.

Quests are sometimes marked “elite”, which means that the creatures involved in the quest are elites — much more difficult mobs than their level would indicate. (They don’t just raise the level because that level would make them harder to hit.) Elite quests are basically specially marked as group content. Does this mean you shouldn’t group for non-elite quests?

Not at all. However, unless it’s your playstyle, you shouldn’t *always* group either. There are times when it’s efficient and times when it’s not. For example, most kill X whatevers is done more quickly in a group. You kill individual whatevers faster and everyone gets credit. Win-win situation. However, quests to collect Y thingies tend to go much slower, because the amount of time you spend in combat is about the same…divided by the number of party members per fight, but the total number of fights is multiplied for each party member with the quest…but you spend more time between creatures looking for the next one. Don’t use this as a hard-and-fast rule though. In general, it’s easier to work with someone than against them, but at the same time you will get less experience from fighting in a huge group.

I don’t recommend you go through your first zone in a party, except for the quests you need it for. People that group their first zone learn their class more slowly, and also finish all the quests levels below where they should be. Later on, when traveling between areas is easy and this isn’t an issue, grouping is often more fun.

If you do have a decent group, and finish one quest, you might consider asking if any of them have some of the same quests you still need to finish in the area. Very often, at least one other person will agree to work on it.

The one annoying thing about grouping for quests is trying to move on to another quest and finding not everyone has the quest. Fortunately, there is a solution. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work. That solution is quest sharing — if a person could have a quest but simply doesn’t, you can go into your quest log and press “share quest” to transmit it to them, as though they were talking to the quest NPC for the first time. But if the other person is too low to get the quest, or your quest is one of the later legs in a chain, they won’t be able to get it.

Still, this can be used to your advantage. People going to an instance together can share the quests for it before starting, which are often from all different corners of the earth. If you are agreeing to meet a friend in a new zone, and one of you gets there first, they can hunt for the questgivers until the other person arrives.

If you are forming a group in advance to try to do a particular quest (or other objective) because it is too difficult to do alone, you will probably want to consider class roles. 5 priests can do a lot, but one thing they can’t do is tank the mobs that come at them or do a whole lot to otherwise stop them. On the other hand, 5 warriors could survive a more fierce beating, but they’ll have to stop to eat after each fight, and hope nobody dies during the battle.

You can have five people in a group, and usually you will want at least one “tank” and one healer. Tanks are usually warriors, but can be anyone who is capable of standing up front and taking the blows from your foes. Main healers for groups need to be reasonably capable of keeping the group alive through all normal situations by themselves. Keep in mind that “normal” includes the rest of the group being accomodating and playing with good tactics. Mages take more mana to heal than the group’s tank, and if a mage is constantly drawing the attention of the creature, the healer will run out of gas much more quickly.

Other players generally fill the role of dealing damage. They may have secondary responsibilities, like being the back-up healer or tank, or performing crowd control. For this reason, mages are very popular in groups, because they can deal a lot of damage, and also CC by casting polymorph to remove one creature from the fight (assuming nobody hits it!)

Some players are very elitist in which classes they will take in their group, and others are overly forgiving in this regard. You usually want your group to be well-balanced, but you shouldn’t wait all day long and turn people away to get the “perfect” group. Every class brings something to the table.

One situation people will often look for near-ideal groups is for going into INSTANCES.

Instanced dungeons, or instances, are special areas that you enter through a portal, and arrive in your own special copy of that area. Only your group members will follow you into it; anyone else that tries will be in a second copy.

Instances are full of elite mobs that are worth more exp, generally yield better treasure, and lead to good teamwork to overcome higher difficulty. Most players find doing instances to be more fun than playing by themself, however they can also be EXTREMELY frustrating in an incompetent group.

There are almost no instances before level 20. Considering they make up the bulk of group content in the game, know what you have to look forward to. The Horde does have one low-level instance inside Orgrimmar. The first instance the Alliance can do is the Deadmines in Westfall, at no less than 18.

Some things you should know for a successful instance run:

Assist. Assist. Assist. By default, pressing F will give you the target of the person (or creature) you have targeted. It’s usually a better idea for everyone to attack the same creature to kill it faster, since you will normally not have one by itself. Being a hero and fighting something by yourself does NOT help the group in most cases.

“Pulling” is the act of getting a creature’s attention and bringing it to the group. Rather than charging ahead, let one person “pull” in an organized manner, and follow their lead. Most of the time this will be the warrior. (I’m going to assume you have a warrior tank.) Doing otherwise will often lead to unnecessary overpulls - fights involving more creatures than you really needed to take on at once and usually can’t handle.

Use crowd control as you are able. If a rogue can sap a target to start a fight, let them. Don’t hit the person the mage turns into a sheep and break the enchantment.

Control your aggro. Aggro is the MMO player’s term for the amount of hate your target has built up toward you. (The in-game terms refer to this as threat.) When you have more aggro than anyone else, you become the creature’s target. If you are not the group tank, this means something is not going the way it should. If you are a mage, don’t nuke your pants off from the moment the fight begins. Be aware of which skills generate a high amount of aggro (like Mind Blast and Distracting Shot.)

Know your role. Every player needs to consider the things they CAN do reasonably, and the things the group EXPECTS them to do. The group’s tank needs to concentrate his efforts on holding aggro. In other games, this has meant the tank has done nothing but devote themselves to this task. Blizzard has tried to make the game slightly less boring for the tank, but if you are a warrior, expect to have to use taunt. Similarly, the group’s healer needs to keep in mind that if they have the choice to cast one damage spell or one healing spell, that mana is usually better spent on a healing spell that keeps the group alive longer, because the extra time it buys usually lets the group outdamage your one nuke. Again, this doesn’t mean a healer should stand around placidly waiting for someone to heal, but don’t be reckless.

Keep your healer alive. There is one key exception to many of the rules above. Take whatever means necessary to keep people from dying. Since the group healer is largely responsible for keeping everyone else alive, it is the responsibility of the rest of the group to keep him or her safe. Keep in mind that the act of healing creates hate. If a priest casts a healing spell on whoever just pulled three mobs, even if they are actively fighting one, if they have built up no hate toward the other two by damaging it or using other abilities, they will make a beeline for the priest. A player being hit usually cannot cast spells effectively, so this means nobody else is getting healed, and since priests in particular wear cloth armor, they probably won’t survive being wailed on for very long. (I’ve been killed in one blow before.) On the other hand, if you are the healer, consider the strategic timing of your heals, and don’t yell to the group the split second something attacks you — they might be in the process of reacting already and a priest that says “Help me!” every three seconds gets annoying very quickly.

Discuss loot in advance. This can vary greatly depending on who you’re with - a group of friends might have one set policy, but when dealing with strangers you don’t know or trust, you might adopt a different policy. The group leader has the ability to change the way the game distributes items that drop, but that doesn’t make them the dictator of how loot works, nor does it explain all situations. See bosses and boss loot below. Round robin or group loot with an implied understanding of need before greed is the usual player standard.

Help first-timers. Make sure they know where a dungeon actually is, but also there are often nuances to dungeons that someone that has never been there would not know. Gnomeregan has an alarm system that sometimes needs to be deactivated before it summons a bunch of defense forces to drive you away. Some interactive objects cause events to occur that the group might not be ready for, and a curious player might unwittingly undermine the group’s efforts. Don’t talk down to your group, but make sure they’re on the same page.

Consider the group’s goals. Sometimes this is to finish a particular quest in the dungeon. Often it is to kill the major “named” bosses and collect their treasure. Make sure everyone agrees to the group for the same reasons.

Deal with bosses carefully, and deal with their loot afterwards even more carefully. Pre-battle strategy discussion is even more important on named. Moreso, the downfall of a great group is often a squabble over loot that keeps them from finishing the dungeon after one mini-boss. Items that drop from bosses are BIND ON EQUIP. You pick it up, you will be unable to trade it. If someone feels you stole an item, that won’t be good for your reputation. More to the point is the subject of giving items to people who need them. In a group with a rogue, a mage, and a paladin, suppose a nice dagger with a bonus to agility drops. The paladin is clearly out because he can’t even equip daggers. But the mage, although he *could* use the item, should let the rogue take it if it is an upgrade, because the agility does the mage little good and neither does the weapon damage, which to a rogue is everything. (If that rogue has a better item, they should abstain as well.) If you are a warrior in the upper 20’s, and you don’t have a head slot item, you should NOT claim a cloth item with an intelligence bonus for the *piddly* armor it has on it. If a leather item with agility drops, a paladin should not be the least bit interested in it unless there is something else special about it. The in-game need before greed loot system is not the standard, because it doesn’t consider such things. If nobody can use an item, the generally accepted practice is to roll for it by typing /random, with the highest roller winning. *MOST* groups work with an implicit understanding that once you win something, you do not take another item until everyone gets something. Whether or not they regard a loot item and a cash item as part of the same cycle or not depends on the group.

Help supply your groupmates. Within reason, of course. Nobody expects you to farm herbs for hours just to give away all your healing potions. But at the very least, a mage should give out free summoned food and drink.

Don’t get mad when you die. There’s only one truth about war: people die. While you may not like it when it happens, and you might have some choice words for a groupmate who did something stupid that caused that death, don’t throw a hissy fit. Shut up, run back or wait for your rez, and talk about it like a civil human being. “OMG WTF U GAY FGT N00b” is not going to help the issue, both because of the tone and message, and because half the people in your group won’t be able to understand you in the first place. Also don’t bail out just because you don’t like the way things are going. (If a group is completely worthless, make an exception, but give them a fair chance. If you don’t help them, they’ll never improve.)

Don’t be upset if someone has to leave. Some instances, like the Stockades, can be done in 45 minutes. Others can take much longer, especially if the pace of the group is slow. Not everyone can devote more than 3 hours at a stretch to playing an internet game. (It’s a strange concept to anyone still in school, but it’s true!)

Don’t join a group if you don’t have time. If you only have an hour, chances are you won’t be able to finish the instance. If you can *never* play for more than an hour at a time…I’m sorry. Instances are not for you. They are meant to be fast-paced high-challenge adventures for people with the time to devote to such an adventure.

So what about those times you want to have more than 5 people, and do something challenging, like take on a dragon?

That’s what raids are for. Under your socials menu, there is a tab labeled raid, and in it, the group leader can select the option “convert to raid” to allow him to invite additional people beyond the 5-person limit. They start filling additional groups until all 8 in the window are full. The raid leader can rearrange people from group to group as he sees fit.

Raids have their own channel, /raid, that works in addition to /party to just talk to your most immediate teammates. Besides that, raids work just like groups, with a couple key exceptions:

Raids cannot enter some instances as a whole. This would trivialize the content, as was found to be the case when raids were first put into beta, and 30 level 15 players formed a mob to simply zerg the Deadmines.

Raids cannot complete quests. If you form a raid in an outdoor zone to finish a kill quest for a large group, you will be disappointed. No kills are accredited, and no quest items will drop.

Raids, by their nature, can do things a mere 5-person group could not. This goes without saying — maybe a lone adventurer can’t kill a dragon, but an army probably could. To that effect, there are special instances that are designed just for raiding. This is almost exclusively max-level content, and is something high-end players look forward to.