How To Train Your WoW Character
Last week I wrote about how WoW was a great MMO for whatever you are looking for in the genre, but it occurred to me that while there might be people unaware of the game, there are probably a lot of people who are currently playing the game as their first attempt at an MMO. I remember starting for the first time on WoW and being totally lost. I just walked about the world until my friend, who I had started playing the game with, rushed over to me at work one day and told me about this huge dragon he found. Later at night, we both logged on and went to see this beast, roaming the wilds. To those familiar with Emeriss, you will know this will go. We were level 14, maybe 15 at the time, totally clueless. My friend says “Shall I hit it” while getting ready to charge. He was a warrior, I was a mage. I said no, let’s go do something else. No sooner had I turned around, he charged and got one shotted. I was running until I hit Darkshire, we both laughed so hard over it the next day. Looking back now, it’s funny how naïve we both were. Cataclysm will have brought in players, new to WoW and the genre itself, which might end up getting some duff advice, advice from players who played WoW when it was a hardcore MMO, something Blizz has changed over the last few years. WoW is a casual MMO right now, for better or worse depending on your outlook. So here is what I consider my top 10 tips to new players.
10: Pick your class, not your role.
New players might come into an MMO having heard things like ‘DPS’, ‘Healer’, ‘Tank’, ‘CC’ and other terms hard-wired into us. A lot of people I know that came in got asked one question by experienced players and then got told what to do. They would ask “What do you want to do? Heal, Tank or DPS?”. Whatever they answered, they would be told which the optimal class to do that job on is. Optimal is a grey term really, one I don’t like. Optimal how? The best numbers in a simulator? The best average on the player base? How do you define optimal when there are so many data streams in the game giving you numbers? Each class does the three jobs above in a different way and honestly, if somebody tells you that a Paladin is the best healer, they might be right in pure numbers. But, if you just can’t master the way a Paladin plays, you are going to be churning out goose egg when it comes to healing. Then those players who were so wise to give you the best class will be the same ones telling you that you’re not good enough at the game to heal and you will end up hating the game. Shop around; play the different classes a bit. Pick the one that feels natural to you. I play Priest and nothing else. I can get by on a Paladin, but I don’t feel comfortable with that class. I cannot understand a Shaman’s totem mechanic and Druid healing doesn’t work for me because I always forget to put the Heal over Time (HoT) spells on. Priest healing is like a game of whack a mole. There is always something going on for you to react to, which I enjoy a lot, dare I say I’ve gotten pretty damn good at it. People will say that to be a better player, you need to understand all classes. I say no way. To be a better player, you need to have fun and know what you are doing on the class you play. That’s it. Which brings me to my next point…
9: Watch other players.
It’s amazing what you can learn about your class from other players who are a different class. I don’t know how to play a Rogue, but I know that if one ends up getting on the bad side of that angry looking Ogre in the corner, he is going to need some help. I know if the errant Mage in the group who isn’t paying attention to where he is going walks into the wrong side of town, I need to save a few emergency buttons to help them. I know a Warrior won’t like having to stop to heal up because their rage will go down, so I need to keep a steady stream of heals coming in to keep them going and I know that Hunters and Warlocks are really happy when you heal their pets as well. If you don’t really enjoy or want to play the class, don’t spend time learning how to play them just so you can be a live action Wikipedia, but you can learn how they behave and how to be around them without wanting to kill them.
8: Do a little reading.
For all the good things Blizzard do, some things in an MMO are treated as a given. There are some great guides out there that can help you pick up the basics that the game, and unfortunately most people, will expect you to know. Wow Wiki has some great “So you want to play a….” guides that give you a run down on each class, what they do and how they do it. It really helped me when I first started out and I can’t recommend them enough. Resources like Wow Wiki and WoWHead are great tools for things you want to know about the game but just can’t seem to get an answer for, make sure to use them whenever you need.
7: Don’t be afraid to fail.
If you find yourself questing in an area that seems a little too hard for you, chances are you aren’t in the best place you could be. We have all done it, gone to the wrong area, picked up the quests and gotten slammed by a giant spider or a zombie faster than usual. World of Warcraft have improved the levelling flow with Cataclysm, so rest assured that if you find an area where you are not surviving, just ask around and find out where you should really be, if there is somewhere you can level that it more appropriate to your level and if you can get some help from……
6: Join a Guild.
….a guild! When I first started out, I joined a guild at level 19. I made a few friends, made myself known and generally got involved with the spirit of the guild. Problem was, the leader of the guild was never online. He hadn’t been for months and it didn’t look like he was coming back. I had made friends with one of the officers and a few other higher ranking members just by being polite and friendly, so when they left, they asked me to come with them and be an officer. I had no idea what that was, but fast learned. From there, I things got better, but one night, after a disaster of a raid attempt happened, a lot of the guild left. The current leader was stressed and felt like giving up. I wasn’t even at max level at that point, but I helped how I could. One Saturday morning, he gave me leadership and left the game. I’d gone from nobody to leader in about 3 months. I threw myself into the role and honestly, while it was like a job, enjoyed it. I enjoyed helping people and providing a guild that worked like an actual organisation. I made sure the bank was set up right everyday, checking the logs before I did anything. I booked events weeks in advance, recruited hard for players like us. When we were ready, I set up out next raid. We had our own rules, no add-ons (third party software you can use to modify your World of Warcraft interface and controls), no expectations and no arguments, just fun. It was fun as well. We got half way though Naxx 70 in about 3 weeks, which we thought was great. Thing was, we did that when Trial of the Champion was out, two raids ahead of us. Players geared faster than others and out ranks slipped away. I started to get stressed and after a while, I just dissolved the guild. People still ask me about it, remembering my name and telling me who they used to be and how they love the guild and how we never took anything seriously, always in for the laugh. I’m not going to tell you to join a guild because of the extra levelling bonus or the technical aspects, although they are nice. Join a guild because you will meet some great people, have some laughs and have more fun with the game than if you were alone.
5: Save your money.
Quests will make sure you have the right gear to advance. If you are buying gear for yourself while levelling for the first time, then you are wasting your money. It’s your money to waste, of course, but there are so many more things you can spend that money on later. Rather than spending money on clothes and then having to focus on making money to get your flying mount, keep that money in your pocket until you really have to spend it. Money might be easy to make, but sometimes even the easy things feel like a chore.
4: Get a job.
Professions are a great way to break up levelling, a good money maker in the right market and certain professions like Herbalism and Mining can give you extra experience, and giving you another way to level that isn’t questing. Do a little research, but most combinations are obvious like Mining and Blacksmith, Skinning and Leatherwork and Herbalism and Alchemy. There are other combinations, no matter how abstract, but some professions work better when taken in tandem. Consider your class as well. It’s no use taking Blacksmithing if you are a Mage, because all that armour you make is useless. Professions are not mandatory, but by not taking one, you are going to be missing out on all the benefits they give.
3: Get involved with your community.
You get this more in main cities, but it can happen anywhere. People love to talk, no matter the subject. Trade chat is always busy with people talking about anything and everything apart from trading and you should never feel like you can’t join in with people. The more you join in, the more people will get to know your name. It’s another way to make friends too, something you can’t get enough of if you will get involved in trade chat. It can be a bear trap at times, saying the wrong thing at the wrong time could land you in the middle of an argument you never wanted to be a part of. Don’t be afraid to stand your ground, especially if somebody is being rude to you, but don’t turn into one of them. If you see it’s not going to work out, walk away.
2: Listen to the advice of others.
I’ve painted other players in a bad light during this article, which may seem unfair, but there are a lot of people out there with a mentality that might not be the same as yours. There are a lot of different types of player out there and you will no doubt see the words ‘casuals’ ‘uberleets’ ‘weekend warriors’ and other things like that thrown around at the best of times. Expect to be branded one of these terms quite quickly, but don’t let it bother you. The thing is, each group will tell you the ‘right’ way to play the game, similar to how I am now. I won’t hide the fact I am a casual player of the game. I don’t push myself as hard as I once did, but I still can get a lot done. I’m giving tips to new players that I think are key points, but some of you may not agree with me. That’s fine, but don’t start a war over it. There will be like minded people out there for you to be around. Search your server, ask on the forums or any friends you have who play the game and see if you can find those people. Trade chat is usually a good place to find people who think like yourself, often leading to an invitation to join a guild. The thing is, no matter how you want to play World of Warcraft, as long as you are around like minded people, then you will have fun, but if you are a new player, don’t dismiss the advice of those who have been around for a while. It might sound like you are being told what to do and how to play, but it’s all with the best of intentions and learning from others is the best way to pick up little tricks to make things smoother for you.
1: Don’t rush.
This is the one I can’t stress enough. No matter who you are or how you want to play, do not make a mad dash to max level on your first time round. Last week I said games like Star Wars: The Old Republic had a disadvantage in the story telling because if was tied to the main media, which are the movies. I said that unless you got to do things like kill Darth Vader, everything else feels a little underwhelming. To elaborate further, everything you do in a game like Star Wars or Lord of the Rings had to fit into the already established story. A Jedi cannot suddenly gain new powers like the ability to turn into pure Force Energy, or a Wookie can’t suddenly be a Jedi because it’s locked into the story bible of Star Wars. Anything Bioware wants to do in a story will need to be cleared by George Lucas or at the very least part of his corporate company. Star Trek Online can’t include anything CBS don’t want them to. Lord of the Rings can’t suddenly contradict the story told in the books. World of Warcraft doesn’t have this limitation. It’s their IP, their story, their vision and they can and will do what they want with it. You are watching primary media unfold as you level, unlike the other games I have mentioned, so if you don’t ready the quest text, you are missing out on an incredible story that Blizzard have worked hard on and are still working hard on. I’m not saying on other MMO’s you can skip the story, but when it comes to WoW, everything is new. I know about the Republic and the Empire, Vulcans and Borg and walking trees, but I didn’t know why Orcs and Humans were fighting, or what the Horde was. I missed the story on my first time round and spent months reading online to catch up on all I missed. You may come in with a slight idea on how things are in the world, but each area has it’s own story with it’s own factions and own magic moments. Missing out on them will most likely hamper your game experience. I know somebody who, when levelling, will not leave a zone until he has done all the quests, even if they are level appropriate for the next zone because he wants the story to unfold as it should. Don’t let people rush you to end game or tell you that the game starts at 85, it starts from the moment you put your hand on the mouse and click enter world.