So the marvelous Khi over at Tree Burglar has kicked off an awesome project to coincide with the Lunar Festival event in-game, and it seemed like the perfect topic to get off my procrastinating butt and finally get this blog started.
Pretend I’m an all-knowing Elder of Azeroth? I can do that. (Pretend, that is.)
Let me start off by saying, I play a lot of WoW right now. Mainly this is a consequence of real life – I’m currently job hunting in a pretty sour market, so it’s nice to have a single hobby that in the long run, actually doesn’t cost me that much and still allows me to spend time with friends who aren’t necessarily in my immediate vicinity. However, I don’t currently raid, I don’t really theorycraft, and I’m as likely to be found in a private 3-man Zul’Gurub run or levelling in Hellfire as I am trying to pick up new gear on my main.
So if you’re one of the newbies the rest of this post is intended for, I’m hoping that I can still, at my advanced in-game age, produce some pearls of wisdom you’ll find useful. Without further ado, here it is – ten rather nebulous but hopefully useful things you should know…
1. Trial first, buy later. I’ve tried a lot of MMOs, and I’ve loved things about almost all of them, but I now play only two or three, and only WoW with any regularity. Every game is different. Don’t assume you’re going to want the full game and both expansions just because you were a Warcraft III fan, or you liked the Verne Troyer advert (even though it was crazyfab), or because so many people tell you it’s awesome. Sure, it is awesome, and I’m gonna tell you that too, but try it out first. Find out if you think that. You can always upgrade to a full account – and hey, it gets you ten free extra days of play. What’s not to love?
2. Play to play, don’t play to win. If you’re used to MMOs, you’ll probably get this already – but if you’re not, it can be a little insane to realise you’re starting a game for which even if you do touch endgame, those goalposts will just keep on movin’. This is fine. There’s a reason it’s World of Warcraft. WoW is not a game you’re ever going to complete. Learn it and live with it. It’s a good thing. And if you’re a completist-oriented mind (like me), set your next target and stick to it. ‘I’m going to hit level 12 tonight’ is a lot easier to stick to than ‘I’m going to finish all of Westfall’…
3. Mess about. I’m serious. The start of this game is the best. Try all the classes, even if you’re certain you want to hit things with a big hammer and not throw curses about. Try it. An evening’s play will get you to level 10 or so, and you just might find that you fall in love with that little imp pet and two years down the line you’ll wonder how you did without it.
4. Auctions, auctions, auctions. I didn’t use the auction house for a long, long time after I started playing. I figured out it was there, but I couldn’t imagine the time I’d spend auctioning my stuff would be worth the gold I’d make. I was flat-out wrong. Never underestimate what someone will pay for that 5-stack of copper ore you got out of a treasure chest, or those small furry paws you found in your bag after killing fifty moonstalkers. If it’s not grey, almost without exception, it’s worth auctioning at least once. And yes, that includes the shirt off your back.
5. The style is the thing. You will be staring at the back of your character’s head for 80 levels (unless you decide to play FPS-stylee, of course). Try out all the races. Turn them around a lot during character creation. Pick a hairstyle you like*. Pick a skin colour you can stand. And then reroll, reroll, reroll however many times you need to in order to really click with that little guy/girl who’ll be running in front of you all the way to 80.
(*You cannot choose all the hairstyles available to you on the character screen. I highly recommend a run to the barber, found in your local major city, at a nice low level to go and get A Shave And A Haircut for a nice cheap price while you can.)
6. A toon by any other name is… not your toon. Spend those hours coming up with The Right Name for your character. So what if it’s nerdy and takes half an evening? It’s a lot better than getting to level 30, realising you hate the name and would rather pay the real life cash to change it than reroll all that way. And the naming is part of the fun!
7. Socialize. Loading WoW onto your computer is kind of like breaking your leg. Do the latter and you’ll suddenly see casts and crutches everywhere; do the former and suddenly you’ll find out that everyone you know plays this game. All right, maybe not everyone. But a lot of ’em. Even if you haven’t gotten into the game through a friend/spouse/acquaintance/household pet who plays, chances are that one of those exists and will make themselves known to you in short order. If it does, great – /friend playername is an awesome thing. But if you are out there in Azeroth all alone, don’t worry. You can make some great friends through this game. I have.
8. Or don’t. Yes, you can turn off trade chat. (I don’t remember when I learnt this, but I know I could certainly have done with knowing it earlier.) No, you don’t have to put up with the idiots and the griefers and the general funsuckers of the world who haven’t the manners their mama raised them with. You’ll find some awesome people to play with, and that’s great, but you’ll find some bad ones too, and that’s fine. Don’t let them bother you. /ignore playername is also an awesome thing, when you need it.
9. WoW is a community, and I don’t just mean when you’re logged in. If you’re reading a WoW blog right now, I figure you’ve figured that much out, or at least are starting to. Read those blogs, wikisurf through WoWWiki, whatever appeals to you. There’s so much out there to find, and who knows, you might even want to get involved and someday write a blog and tell other people all the things you wish you’d known when you were… wait, hang on…
10. Enjoy your game. One of the most popular arguments for or against many things you may be asked or told, or may ask or tell other people in a game like this is ‘it’s your/their $15’. And it’s true. Play how you want to play, the class and spec and role that you want to play, and play it awesomely because you want to. And I can almost guarantee if you do that, whatever else, you’ll have a hell of a lot of fun.