Someone had the bright idea to give me my own World of Warcraft column. That’s right, my own personal place to rant, rave, and otherwise spew whatever ideas pop into my head. I’m not exactly sure how it all came about, but I’m rotating between two theories, one which involves a drunken binge of epic proportions, and the other temporary insanity with much flinging of poo. [Editor’s note: I plead the Fifth on this one folks!] Either way here we are, sitting on the precipice of my brand new column, so why don’t we make the leap and dive right in with some basic information about little old me.
My name is Jason, more commonly known around here as Mem. I am one of the newer writers to the WoW section of Ten Ton Hammer, and I have thoroughly enjoyed every second (and I‘m not just saying that because they pay me). I never in my wildest dreams imaged that I would actually get to write for and about a game I love so much. The opportunity to do so is really a dream come true.
In game my toon of choice is an Undead Shadow Priest which I play alongside my wife, the best and most attractive Tauren Resto Druid I have ever seen. My first character was surprisingly enough, not my Priest. I began my WoW career playing a Tauren Warrior on the Perenolde PvE server. Back in those days Warriors were a dime a dozen, so in order to get more play time I rerolled as a Priest. At the time Shadow Priests were simply taboo and as such I started out as a Holy Priest, healing my way through the game. I had fun healing, I really did, but once Shadow became more viable and I was given the option to respec I never looked back. I like to joke that my wife rolled a healing toon so that I never had to again. I still do heal from time to time when circumstances demand it, but I believe that Shadow is my true calling.
I have during my journey through the World of Warcraft been more of a hardcore player, which was reflected in most of my articles here on Ten Ton Hammer. I have a competitive nature, and I like to win. Sometimes my expressions of this come out in less than nice ways. I suppose I could even be perceived as having a virtual chip on my shoulder. This of course has not endeared me to the majority of the WoW population, and have even had the word elitist spat at me like some deadly insult. I took it all in stride because that was who I was. I was the elitist, the hardcore player, the never miss a raid even for a funeral type.
Keeping this in mind it shocked some that I will be writing a column based on the more casual aspects of the game. Lately though, things have been changing for me in big ways and that brings us to the real topic of this column:
Casual is NOT a Dirty Word
The urge to be the best, to push content, and have the most uber gear possible has always been a big part of how I play the game. So it was as much of a surprise to me as anyone else when I found myself less than happy with my play style. I found that instead of doing my normal WoW routine I instead wanted to do other things, such as spend time with my family and enjoy my friends and perhaps even /shudder head out into the sun, that bane of gamers everywhere. This was a very confusing time for me, I didn’t understand what was going on and I kept thinking if I killed just one more boss, or put in one more raid night I would feel differently.
Fast forward to more recently I finally had to be honest with myself, nothing was working and the spark that was once there was gone. I then began to make changes, I played less and did things I wanted more, and I was happy. But I left some very unhappy people in the wake of my transformation. I could almost see the accusing stares, and hear the muffled whispers of “casual” followed by a derisive snort and a roll of the eyes. Sure these things were probably mostly my imagination, but if I was up front with myself, I would have reacted in much the same way not so long ago.
The war between casual and hardcore players is intense, with both groups striving to make the game “theirs” to prove that they have upper hand, and that their style of play is best. It’s almost like the current political climate with the two main political parties in the United States at each other’s throats because they have all the answers. Casual players claim hardcore players take the game too seriously, have no lives, and tend to be for lack of a better word douche bags. Hardcore players think casual players are too soft, are mostly comprised of talent less players, and overall are killing the game.
Casual is a fate worse than death to some.I am sure that there is some merit in both these opinions, but in general both sides are wrong. If a closer look is taken and more consideration was given I believe that hardcore and casual players could coexist in harmony. There is an undeniable bond between the two, as all players regardless of which side of the coin they are on are a part of the World of Warcraft universe, and we are all logging on for one thing, to enjoy a game. The details of what we do with that time, or how much time we commit do not matter and it’s high time the words casual and hardcore stop being flung around like insults.
I’m not asking that we all sit together and sing Kumbaya, in fact I’m not even asking that the two sides like each other, what I am asking for is a healthy dose of respect. Accepting and understanding that your way is not the only way, and that it’s ok if others play differently than you do is something we should all strive for. It is a difficult concept to grasp, it took me experiencing both sides of the equation to truly “get” it, but now that I do I can really appreciate and understand the value and allure of both play styles.
I can’t say if I’ll ever go back to being a hardcore player, perhaps later the spark will be ignited, but for now I am content with just being casual, and even though the thought used to repulse me, being casual is not so bad after all and never again will I throw it around like a dirty word. Players on both sides of the divide, be proud of who you are, and how you play. Keep your heads high, but not so high you can’t see the other side.
So let’s get started with learning the ropes before we move on to advanced techniques.
The Basics of Combat
Combat is very simple. If you’re new to roleplaying games then it might be a bit confusing, but I promise you its very simple. You have a ‘pool’ of ‘hit points’ or HP. This is your life force and determines if you’re alive or dead. If your HP ever reaches 0 then you’ll die (don’t worry, it’s not that bad) while if you lower your enemy’s HP to 0 then you win the battle and will collect your spoils from them.
HP can be lost in combat but it can also be recovered by heals from many different classes along with some class-specific self heals along with potions. It can be recovered outside of battle with food or bandages (from the First Aid profession). You’ll also slowly regenerate any health lost from battle whenever you’re not in combat. So don’t fret if you take a bit of a beating from a battle.
Actual fighting is pretty simple. You’ll be pitting your skills vs. the skills of your enemy. You’ll find that you have a set of skills on your action bar when you first start the game (see our Interface guide for more information on its default location). You’ll want to target an enemy and then use these skills in order to defeat them. Be careful, skills do use up your resources (Mana/Rage/Energy/Runic Power dependent on the class) so you’ll want to be conservative. However, auto attack doesn’t use anything (unless you’re a Hunter in which case it’ll consume arrows in order to use your Bow/Gun/Crossbow).
To find out more about how your class fights you’ll want to read the appropriate class guide for your class. Click here to see a listing of all of our available class guides.
If you’re having trouble grasping the basics then be sure to read the tutorial blurbs that first popup when you start the game. They’ll give you a ton of information about all of this.
Not All Enemies Are Created Equally
Not every enemy is the same nor can you take on any enemy that you see and be successful. You can only take on enemies that are near your level (see our Interface section of our Beginners Guide to find out where your level and your enemy’s level is represented). Your success against an enemy can be entirely dependent on how close you are to your enemy’s level.
Remember some enemies are elites, in which case you may need friends to take them down.
If you are below their level (and their level shows red) then you’ll likely lose. That’s because the enemy is way more powerful than you. If they’re a little bit above your level (orange) then you’re going to have some trouble and probably be exhausted after a fight. If they’re at your level (yellow) then you’ll have an easy time taking them out, but you’ll probably need to rest after a few battles. If they’re below your level (green) then they’re going to be a cake walk. If they’re way below your level (gray) then you can take them on without breaking a sweat, but you won’t gain experience from killing them.
Experience and Loot
When you kill an enemy you’ll be given experience (as long as they are close to your level) and loot. You can gain this loot by right click the enemy’s corpse. Not every enemy gives loot, so don’t be alarmed if you don’t see loot from certain enemies. You can find the loot you’ve collected in your bags.
You collect experience in order to level up. Every time you level up you’ll become more powerful, are able to take on higher level enemies, and can purchase new skills.
Using and Gaining Skills
You’ll be introduced to your skill trainer as you level up in the starting area. Skill trainers are also available in every capital city (just ask a guard for directions). You can buy skills from the skill trainer to use in combat. You’ll find these skills in your spellbook (see our Interface section of the Beginners Guide to find the spellbook and your action bar). Just simply drag them to your action bar and you’ll be able to use them. It’s important to use the right skills in battle which is why you should read our class guides for more information.
When you find an item you will see its name, a description of what it is, any bonuses that it provides, its durability, a sale price and its level requirement and its item level. It’s important to recognize what the critical information about an item is. This really amounts to its colour (for quick reference) and the stats that it provides.
Colour of item
Items like this whose names are in purple are among the best in the game.When you get gear one of the first things you will notice is the colour of the text for the name of the item. This actually tells you quite a bit about the gear right off the bat.
Gray – Gray items are essentially junk items to sell to the nearest vendor for a bit of cash.
White – White items are the next step up in item quality and are essentially normal type items.
Green – Next up are the green items, these are the lowest quality of item with bonuses. They are essentially low level magic items.
Blue – This is your next step up and for many levels the best items you will find. These are rare item drops or items that drop from bosses in instances. They generally have good stat bonuses for the item level.
Purple – Last up are purple or epic items. These are ultra rare (at least until the highest levels in the game) and provide the best stats for the items level.
There are others such as artefacts and heirlooms but these are not nearly as common and don’t really need to be discussed for new players. By the time you run into them you will know all you need to know about them.
Type of Item
This is pretty self explanatory, this is the type of item that it is. This shows up as two separate descriptors, for example: Leather Helm or Two-Handed Axe. These descriptors are generally shown in white text, but will show up in red if you are not able to use the item.
While weapons can be tricky about who can use what when and with what training, armour is fairly easy and can be summed up as follows:
Cloth – Anyone
Leather – Death Knights, Druids, Hunters, Rogues, Shaman, Paladins, and Warriors
Mail – Death Knights, Hunters (level 40+), Shaman (level 40+), Paladins, and Warriors
Plate – Death Kights, Paladins, and Warriors (all classes at level 40+)
Basic Stats on Items
These are your basic character statsItems are capable of having both basic and advanced stats. Basic stats are the 5 main character stats that show up on your main character information page. Each one is important to a different type of character and provides different bonuses.
Strength – Best for Warriors, Death Knights, and Paladins. Strength grants attack power for these classes which raises your damage output.
Stamina – Best for Tanks of any class. Every point of stamina grants the player 10 health.
Agility – Best for Feral Druids, Hunters, and Rogues
Intellect – Great stat for all casters. Intellect grants you additional mana so that you can cast more spells before you run out.
Spirit – Spirit grants more mana regeneration so that you gain it back faster and run out less often.
Advanced Stats on Items
These are the additional stats that can be granted on items and are much more complicated to figure out how much you need and at what level. As a new player it is generally just important to understand what they do. By the time you get to the middle or late levels of the game you can do more research on them then to find out the exact bonuses they provide.
This is because many of them grant the bonuses on a sliding scale, meaning that as you gain additional levels you need more points in the bonus to grant the same end resulting bonus. A good example of this is +hit, at level 60 you need 10 stat points in +hit to grant a 1% bonus to hit, but at level 80 you need 15.8 points to get the same +1% bonus. Again, it is not critical while levelling to know the exact values, just to understand that they change.
Attack Power – Attack power equates to extra DPS output for melee classes. 2 attack power equals out to one bonus damage per second.
Crit – This raises your chance to critically hit when you attack or cast a spell. A critical hit does extra damage compared to a normal hit,
Hit – This raises your chance to hit a target with either melee attacks or casting a spell. There is a base chance to miss targets, so this helps lower that chance and therefore raise your total damage output.
Expertise – Expertise lowers the chance that your target will block or parry you. Because spells can not be blocked or parried it is useless for casters.
Haste – Haste works for any class and lowers your attack or casting speed. This allows you to attack, cast, or heal faster and therefore do more over a given period of time.
Spellpower can add up quickly and increases your casting abilitiesSpellpower – This adds to the effectiveness of your spell casts. In theory if you added 100 spell power your spells would do 100 more damage or 100 more healing. In actual fact there is a coefficient used against each spell to determine the actual bonus, where longer spells get more of the bonus, while fast or instant spells count less of the bonus.
Defence – Defence is a tanking bonus, it reduces the chance that you will be hit both regularly or critically.
Block Rating and Block Value – These are again stats for a tank. Block rating raises the likely hood that you will block an incoming attack with your shield. Block Value raises the amount of damage that you will prevent when you block.
Q. What is World of Warcraft?
It’s based off the popular RTS (real time strategy game) Warcraft III. What all of this means is that players can play as a character that can not only interact with a persistent game world but with other players over the Internet as well.
Q. Do I have to have the Internet to play?
Yes, you have to have the Internet; otherwise you won’t be able to play WoW.
Q. Do I need a new computer in order to play?
No, WoW works fine on most modern computers and many older computers. I’ve ran WoW on computers that were over 5 years old with the game running just fine.
Q. How much does it cost? Are there options other than credit cards?
It costs $14.99 USD (American) per month to play. You can buy game time cards (if you don’t have a credit card) from most major department stores, video game stores, and certain specialty retailers. You can find more about payment information on Blizzard’s website. Most debit cards with the VISA or Mastercard logo will work for payment for the subscription fee, however, care must be taken not to overdraw an account.
If you don’t want to pay each month you can immediately cancel your account after the subscription in order to avoid the next billing cycle. Your account will be good for the time period you have paid for.
Q. How do I install the game?
You can log into your Battle.net account and download an executable for Windows or Macintosh. The executable will guide you through the game’s installation process step by step. If you bought a physical copy of the game then place the CD or DVD into your computer’s CD/DVD/Blu-Ray drive and follow the on-screen prompts.
Q. Can I buy the game online?
Yes, it is available through the Blizzard store. Click here for more information.
Q. Do I need to be experienced with online games in order to do well in WoW?
WoW has content available for players of all skill types and has a very low learning curve. Even inexperienced players can do well in WoW.
Q. Do I need the expansions to play?
You do not need the expansions in order to play the game. You only need the original WoW. However, there are special combo deals to get the expansions and WoW at a discounted rate and the first expansion, The Burning Crusade, is required to make Draeneis and Blood Elves. Also note that without the expansions you will not be able to level up to the highest level and experience large portions of content available for the game. You can comfortably delay getting the expansions while you try the game out, however, you’ll need to pick them up at a later time if you continue to play.
Q. Is there a free trial?
Usually there is. You can click here for the WoW signup page to start a 10-day free trial. Friends can also invite you to the game so you can benefit from the Refer-A-Friend program.
Q. Can I be killed and looted by other players?
Yes and no. Your loot (items that you’ve obtained, equipment, gear, etc.) will never be taken from you no matter how you die. There is PvP (player vs. player) combat though and on certain server types (PvP and RP-PVP) players from different factions can battle each other in certain areas. There is a protection in place for low level characters in the form of safe zones (areas where the opposing faction cannot attack you as long as you remain in them).