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I started playing WoW a little over a year ago and got obsessed. Everything from my toon’s hairstyle to selling stuff in the auction house, I was totally into it. Then, life happened and I took a break that extended and extended and extended…..
Now I’m playing again with friends when I have time and trying to get back into the swing of things.

My biggest fear when I started playing were the potential killjoys who would hate on me for not knowing what I’m doing. I’ve always loved console & PC games but I can be hopelessly bad at them because I just don’t have the time to invest in getting really good at them. It doesn’t diminish my love of them but it can make for a frustrating experience when I’m genuinely trying and getting mocked.

I’m pleased to report that, while I have run into a few undesirable types within WoW, they’re fairly easy to avoid.

WoW Logo

For the uninitiated, World of Warcraft is an MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game… it’s okay, when I started I wasn’t really sure wtf all those letters stood for either). You create a character and then run around in a humongous online world with a bajillion other people also logged into the same world. And that is where my hand-holding ends with this one because you either want to play or you don’t.

The game itself does a pretty good job of holding your hand through the beginning levels. Once I got rolling, the bigger issue became the sheer number of blogs and wikis and reference guides and forums making the World Outside of Warcraft just as intimidating as the World Of Warcraft. I’d find beginner articles full of acronyms that were treating me like I already knew what I was doing… and I didn’t (and still don’t half the time). I want to give you a quick run-down of the stuff I’ve found most helpful after playing for a bit.*

*If you need “how do I even start walking around” help, you may want to start here.

    • Official Strategy Guide – Available on Amazon, there’s some who disagree with me on this one. I have an older version and, even out of date, the basics stay the same. Each time I’ve decided to try a new race or class, I grab it to get the very basic intel. Sure it’s an extra $20, but if you want a crash course and easy guide to all the races, classes, professions, and a bunch of random stuff, I find flipping through a book a lot simpler (and way less dubious) than hunting around online for it.
    • WoWWiki – Do I love me some WoWWiki.com in a big way. The main splash page is pretty intimidating but that search box in the upper right is usually all I ever use.
      Acronym Guide? Check.  Questing Guides? Oh hell yes.
      Vague searches return vague results so it helps to be specific with what you’re looking for. I like the more wiki-driven layout of this one as opposed to…
    • WoWHead – Much like WoWWiki, this is one of the premier forums/guides.  I prefer WoWHead as a backup if I’m really stumped because it makes me feel a lot more in-over-my-head. Solid search feature but when I’m just trying to click around it, I get overwhelmed pretty fast due to a more forum-like layout. Much like WoWWiki, vague searching can make this even more difficult, especially when coupled with the layout.

Advanced WoW-ing

    • Auctioneer AddOn – This game addon became invaluable once I got into the game. My husband is the one that hooked me up with it and the auction house became way less overwhelming when Auctioneer got enabled. When combined with all the Auctioneer addons, just right clicking on an item tells me everything from enchanting breakdowns to whether or not it’s worth trying to sell it at auction or ditch it at a vendor. Get this one. Learn how to install it (it’s actually not super difficult – if I can do it without help, you can, too!) It’s free. You won’t regret it.

Additional Recommendations

Starting a character doesn’t mean you have to keep that same character forever. In fact, starting one and playing with the assumption I’d end up ditching it once I knew how to play better was remarkably freeing. I made mistakes, died some really stupid deaths, and just played around until I figured out how to not run into walls or… you know fall off of cliffs. Learning about my different class abilities and then putting those abilities/spells/etc. in a workable order without any pressure from outside players was also more low pressure.

Things that I personally ignored/avoided early on – guild invites and dungeon runs with strangers. I just wanted to get a lay of the land, learn how to play, and get good enough that I wouldn’t embarrass myself falling off a zeppelin or something. It was easy to go back, start a new toon (character), and level up quickly once I had a better idea of what I was doing.

Play around with your keyboard settings. It’s possible to change all of the keyboard “hotkeys” so that the keyboard functions exactly how you want it to. Don’t ever want to run backwards? You can turn that letter key into a totally different function. Have a fancy mouse with 20 buttons? You can probably program those, too.

Learn about the different server types and consider what kind of player you might want to be. Do you want to run around  challenging other players to duels (PvP)? Do you want to immerse yourself in your character while you’re in the game (RolePlaying)? Do you want to be a Pokemon… er…. Battle Pet Master? Do you just want to live & let live and play (Normal)? Once you start a toon on a server, it’s stuck there unless you want to spend a bunch of money to move it. Choose wisely, padawan.

Nope, it sure ain’t free but you can usually get a 30 day trial or play up to Level 20 for free, I think…. but the leveling goes by really fast. If you can get the 30 day trial without the leveling caveat, do it. In the long run, the 6 month plan (charged in a lump sum) is your best bet if you think you’re going to stick it out. If you just want to give it a shot, I’d recommend a 30 or 60 day prepay and go from there.

In the end, Azeroth is one big ol’ world. You can explore as little or as much as you want.

My game goal is to be the best player I can be within the confines of the time my real life allows. To me, that means that if I’m in a group setting I’m doing my best to keep myself and my fellow players from dying. I’ve done a pretty good job so far. Care to join me?