world of warcraft primer


Over the past several days, a number of friends and colleagues have asked me about getting started with World of Warcraft, so I thought I'd summarize some of the key ponts here for others who may be wondering.

You need to buy the retail box for the software in order to start playing--each box has a unique registration code necessary for creating a full account. You can borrow a friends' disks and set up a ten-day guest/trial account, but to upgrade to a full account you'll need your own retail box. List price is $49.99, but it frequently goes on sale at game and software stores for $29.99 (that's what we paid for ours). Right now, Amazon has it for $39.99. When you buy the software, you also get one free month of play included with it. If you want to continue after the first month you can pay Blizzard $14.95/month directly, or you can buy prepaid cards for 30 or 60 days of play. We've seen 60-day cards on sale for as low as $24.99.

Once you set up your account, you're asked to select a "realm" (a server, basically) to play on. Each realm is identical to the others in terms of geography and content--they're each their own self-contained virtual world, on which thousands of players interact. There are a few differences among servers. Some are more focused on player-vs-player combat (as opposed to player-vs-environment or role playing). Some are geographically focused, to deal with both language and network issues.

Once you've selected a realm, you have to create a character to play. This involves choosing a race, gender and class for your character. Your choice of race places you on one of two sides ("factions") of a global war--either the Alliance side (composed of Night Elves, Humans, Gnomes, and Dwarves), or the Horde side (composed of Orcs, Trolls, Taurens, and Undead). You can create more than one character on a server, and can also have characters on multiple servers. So, for example, on the Khadgar PvE server I have a female Night Elf Druid who is automatically an Alliance character, whereas on t he Magtheridon PvP server I have a female Troll Priest who's part of the Horde. (I chose both of those servers because people I already knew had created guilds and invited me to play with them.)

While you can interact (typically by way of fighting) with characters from an opposing faction, most social interaction on the servers is among characters in the same faction. You can only add players from your faction to your friends list, and can only group with or join a guild with players from your faction.

Many aspects of the game can be soloed--played by your character without the assistance of others. However, a number of more complex quests and activities require the skills of a variety of players, which is where groups and guilds come in. You can group with other players on an ad hoc "pickup" basis, or you can join a guild and participate in regularly organized "raids" with other members of your guild. These collaborative efforts often take several hours, and thus are typically planned in advance.

There is, of course, far more to all of it. But that's the basic landscape. If you decide to start playing, consider yourself warned--it brings out the worst obsessive-compulsive tendencies in many people, and it's easy to spend far too much time playing.


That's extremely useful information for those of us who are trying to follow the debate about the moral implications of the game. Thank you!

Well done. My husband and i have been playing for over a year now, and still not bored. We have two computers set up side by side and go questing together.
Now sure what the "moral implications of the game" means though.

Linda is referring to a debate that took place on the game-research weblog TerraNova, entitled "Horde is Evil." :)

is udeful to a total noob but anyone who has actually purchased the game has a manual (about the size of a small book) that could tell you the same exact thing

G Zombie, yes, that's a big issue, and is getting a lot of backchannel discussion on my guild's DL. Watch for something on M2M about it soon...

And Fearocilia, this wasn't intended for people who have bought the game; it was intended for people who not only haven't bought it, but also probably won't--which is most of my readership.

My friend was over the other day, and I showed him It is a site with cheats, bugs, dupes, etc for world of warcraft. He told me it was against the rules for wow to do this. Is this true? I am used to cheating on video games for my whole life, so I was sort of shocked to hear this.

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This page contains a single entry by Liz Lawley published on January 16, 2006 12:00 PM.

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