Wednesday, 26 January 2011

WARNING ahead be beasties!

A funny thing happened to me last night, I decided pratting around on a low level alt was preferable to grinding herbs while watching the footy, and after a few quests I found myself in the dungeon finder for a low level dungeon. After about three seconds I was healing in Gnomeragon; my low level equivalent to Grim Batol, I remember many an evening wasted in this horrible place. As with all the low level dungeons it's a damn site easier than it used to be and we set of killing things.

About 5 minutes in we were jumping down to ground level to get to the first boss, if you know the place you'll know where I mean, when the shadow priest in our group hurtled past me and face planted into the ground. We pressed on to the first boss, without her as it's so easy, midway through the fight I noticed the same happened again. Third time lucky with the boss dead and we set off on trash towards the next boss where I noticed a funny noise… it was the sound of a wand being fired!! Looking round in amazement I saw a shadow priest with full mana waving their wand about! I have to admit, my mouse cursor hovered over the vote kick button momentarily, but then I stopped, and I'm glad I did; it's not like me to be quite so trigger happy so after having a word with myself I politely whispered the priest "can I ask why you're using your wand?" I was half expecting a "BECAUSE I R L33T" type answer followed by a torrent of abuse, but to my surprise her response was along the lines of "because I have one, is it wrong?" so a brief conversation later and she was sticking DoTs up properly and Mind Flaying away. We ended up chatting all the way through the instance where I found she was new to WoW (to the tune of 2 or 3 days), having moved from another MMO with her husband, both seemed to be struggling to get to grips with the deluge of information and things to learn.

This struck a few cords with me having recently returning to the game after a long absence, I felt overwhelmed at times, even finding where my mounts had gone, or where the guild roster had gone was a problem (why the hell was that ever moved of the social panel??? Nonsensical!). I still remember wandering round Silverpine Forest after I followed a friend to my first instance, not having a clue where I was or how to get home(no it wasn't last month).

We ended up staying in the same party (she was from a different server) and chatting some more and, I hopefully, gave her some pointers to getting to grips with the game, and I said I'd post a few pointers here as it'll help her out, and double my readership in one swoop, everybody's happy! I'm going to focus on priests, but I guess most of what I write will be applicable to all, here goes:

Starting Areas

When you first create your character you'll find yourself in a starting zone, this is a 'safe' area with low level mobs where you'll be drip fed your first few spells and abilities to help you learn the ropes. Depending on the race you choose you'll start in different areas so if you want to start with a fellow 'Newbie' from the very start make sure you choose players from the same race; if you're the same faction you'll be able to meet up later, but if one choses horde and one alliance you'll never be able to play together.


As a troll priest (hadn't you guessed by now?) I started in Durotar which has Orgrimmar, the main Horde city in the game to the North, if you start here you'll quickly progress to the Northern Barrens where the main town is the Cross Roads you will generally meet other Taurens. If you chose one of the other races, undead for example, you'll find yourself on another continent, it used to be the case that the quest chains naturally took you to the Cross Roads, but nowadays you'll get so much experience so quickly it'll be possible to skip the Northern Barrens all together.


You can get about the world in a number of ways, it's improved vastly from Vanilla Wow back in the old days, you can walk (clearly) or at level 20 (it used to be level 40) buy a mount to speed things along. Pretty much every outpost also now has a windrider which, once discovered, allows you to fly from point to point more quickly. There's also a Zeppelin (and sometimes boat) system at most of the major cities and ports which will let you move between the continents, generally the questing system will introduce you to these gradually, but I've found my level getting so far ahead of the quests I'm having to skip whole zones.


You can gain experience (XP) to increase your level in a number of ways, the two main ones are questing and in instances (you'll also get quests to go to instances which give you additional benefit). You'll also get an XP boost from things like herb gathering, mining, exploring new zones and a number of other things, but I'd stick to questing and instances.

For quests stick to stuff which appear as green or yellow in your log, anything that's grey is too easy and will glean too little XP, anything which is red will be far too difficult. As a rule of thumb, if you can't kill three mobs simultaneously (from full mana and health) then you're probably in a zone which is too hard. If you're finding most of the quests are grey, look to move on to a harder zone.

Talent Spec

Specs have got a bit easier in my opinion since WoW, once you stick one point in one of the three trees available you're locked to that tree until you've spent 31 points. You'll get a new point every other level, or there abouts for the first few levels then you'll start picking up a point every level, you'll nicely get told of the new spells and talents available to you as you hit each new level.

The only real choice for levelling is shadow (you're not suck with this, and you can change at any time, plus you'll get dual specs which allow you to easily change between roles at later levels but we won't worry about that now).

There are a few mandatory choices in shadow, (actually there's a lot of mandatory talents), as a rule go for things which will improve the amount of damage you're going to do, some are obvious, some are not.

The main thing to aim for is shadow form, but before you can get that you need to open up the higher tiers by picking lower ranked talents.

I'd go for improved shadow word pain 2/2,

then Darkness 3/3, this will open the second tier,

next Twisted faith 2/2 this increases your damage and also converts spirit to hit. I won't go into the full reasons for needing hit here, but basically if you don't hit you don't do damage, there's little or no hit gear at low levels hence this is an excellent levelling talent.

Then improved devouring plague 2/2, this is a big source of damage and is important to have

You'll now have 1 point left to open shadow form, I'd go for improved mind blast
1/1, it's not a great damage spell any more, but it's useful for a buff it gives you when combined with shadow orbs (again more advanced than we really need to be going here)

This will give you shadow form with your next point, and you should have a tree something like this I'll leave the rest to you, the 'cookie cutter' DPS build for all shadow priests is and if you follow this you won't go far wrong for levelling. There's a good guide to levelling builds and other stuff here if you want to read more

Spells and how to use them.

Make sure you always have Power Word: Fortitude and Inner Fire cast on yourself, for damage your main go-to spells for levelling at low levels should be Shadow Word: Pain, then Mind Flay – just repeat Mind Flay till the mob dies. At level 28 you'll get Devouring Plague, use this as your second spell in addition to the two above. You'll then get Shadow Word: Death at 31, use this to 'execute' mobs when they're low on health – be careful, if you use this and it doesn't kill the mob it will damage you too! When you get to 20 points in the shadow tree, you'll also be able to get Vampiric Touch, get it! This is another DoT and should be cast before Mind Flay as it does a lot of damage.


You'll notice the gear you pick up has different stats on it, some stats are better than others and some are no use to you what so ever, this differs from class to class, and spec to spec. As a Shadow Priest aim to get gear with intelligence, spell power (there isn't many items with spell power on any more), haste, crit and then spirit (in order of priority). Intellect is roughly twice as important as haste and crit.

You may notice that on your character pane you can expand the tab to till you your hit crit and haste percentages along with a whole host of other stats. You'll also notice that if you find an item at level 1 (for example here) with +10 crit on it it will make a huge difference to your crit percentage, the same item at level 85 would hardly be noticeable. This is called scalling as you go up through the levels you'll need more and more of a particular stat to keep the same percentage – don't worry to much about this for the moment, just try and get as much Int and Haste as you can

Tank? Healer? DPS? WHAT???

If you've ventured into an instance by now, chances are you'll know the difference, if not, you may not have a clue. Basically, there are three broad types of role for characters to play in WoW, all classes can be DPS foucssed, some can heal as well, some can 'tank' as well, some (Druids and Paladins) can do all three. This all depends on your choice of talents, and as a priest you have a choice of DPS or Healing. Now you've obviously been paying attention and have specced shadow haven't you? Good. This means you're DPS, at low levels you can still heal (yourself and in instances) but this will become less and less viable as you move up the levels. Tanks are there to stop us cloth wearers being squashed, if you're in an instance and you keep getting squashed, you either need to google "aggro management" or your tank is crap (or both). The healer is there to apply the magic ointment and tell you you're a brave soldier.

Monsters (mobs) and Elites

there are loads of mobs across WoW, keep an eye on their level (the number next to their picture which appears when you click them), in the same way as quests grey is too easy, and gleans no xp, green and yellow are killable, red is hard, a skull means you'll get murdered.

Look out for a metallic dragon round the picture, this means they're elite (much harder) there are different breeds of elite, bronze, silver and gold, each being harder to kill.


Guilds are like minded group of people generally set up with a purpose in mind, some are real life friends, others objective is high end raiding, others levelling or more casual. Look on your realm forums, find one with an ethos which suits your objectives and apply to join, you'll get a wealth of information and knowledge from other players

Other Players

Thankfully I can say the majority of the WoW population are nice, friendly, people. Some however are, how shall we put this? well, arseholes. Because WoW is quite a mature game, most players know it inside out and true 'Newbies' are rare on established realms, this is one of the reasons Blizzard sets up new realms occasionally for new players, the dungeon finder circumvents this so you'll come across players on their sixth alt who expect everyone to be the same and won be very forgiving of mistakes. Generally if you explain you're new to the game, and need a little guidance they'll be fine and help out, occasionally you'll encounter idiots who'll be abusive. Remind them, they were there once, it's just like learning to drive…. It's easy once you know how. Forget about them and move on.

Trade Skills

You can do a whole host of secondary 'stuff' in WoW, if you're out to get involved in everything then trade skills are the thing for you (you can have two primary proffessions), some go well together like herbalism and alchemy, others like enchanting are stand alone. You can level without these and pick them up later, or you can start early. Read up on them before making the choice, some of the assumptions you might make about certain skills will be incorrect. is a good place to start.


Addons are a big part of WoW, Blizzard has now incorporated most of the good functionality into its standard UI, given how much you need to learn, I'd ignore addons completely until you reach a higher level. Curse gaming ( and wowinterface ( are the two main sites.

Further reading and searching

are both good links to read

WoW Insider is an excellent blog site for everything WoW is for higher levels and is very in depth is another good one for all classes

if you're struggling just head over to google and stick in a search, be careful of the crap from previous releases which are out of date, I tend to start all of my searches "wow cata 4.0" and then whatever I'm searching for, for this reason.

And that's it, I've intentionally skirted over lots of stuff so as not to (overly) confuse, there's lots more to learn than I could ever hope to write here, use your initiative and take time to read around areas and ask friendly players who you've met on the way – they don't bite. If you've found this useful, have questions, or would like to see more detail on anything please leave a comment or tweet me @wow_PFtT. Above all, Have Fun!

1 comment:

  1. Awww, that's practically an LFG Fairy Story.

    It's so easy to forget how obscure WoW can be, either when you first start playing or return after an extended absence. In some ways I almost miss it, although I suppose we all have humiliating memories of ... oh I don't know ... trying to be a holy priest without meditation. Or whatever ;)