Having successfully leveling my draenei shaman to 6 without breaking the beta, I decided to skip over to the other server and check out how my beloved Horde are handling their new blood elf pals. Since I had made a draenei shaman, I decided on a horde paladin -- though not without trepidation, because I might want to play one in live someday. Unfortunately, most of the blood elf faces and hairstyles scream "I would have made fun of you for playing World of Warcraft in high school!" I finally made a kind-faced, black-haired paladin and entered the new starting area.
It was just as I feared. Although the blood elf area was beautiful, it was also filled with dancing, flirting Paris Hilton clones. It struck me that unlike the draenei, the blood elves were clearly a well-organized society. Their area is clean and beautiful, and whereas with the draenei you're a survivor and one of the few that can save the race, with the blood elves, you're ... just another blood elf.
My first task was to slay some mana wyrms in an area near the starting point that was filled with floating bookshelves, uncomfortable-looking sitting areas, and cats. It reminded me strongly of my first apartment, with one noticeable difference. After that, I was ordered to go kill some corrupted cats and go see my paladin trainer. Much like the draenai shaman trainer, the paladin told me I had chosen a difficult path. He also sent me to see the ruler of the lower levels, who asked me to help him find his lost belongings around the city and asked to go read the history of Dath'Remar Sunstrider. I thought this was a pretty neat way to help blood elves explore the starting area and learn a little more about their race's history. Like the draenei starting area, the blood elf area is pretty small at first, so I was able to finish my quests with little difficulty. The guy's belongings didn't even have any hostile mobs around them, which may be a first for "retrieve my belongings" quests.
I was then given a quest to learn how to use my racial ability, Mana Tap. The questgiver told me that if I didn't learn to use it, I would grow hopelessly addicted and insane, which sounded like a kind of interesting option but turned out to be just flavor text. Nevertheless, I mana tapped six treants and returned to my questgiver, who gave me a blessing that increased my stamina and spirit. To explain a little more about Mana Tap, it allows you to steal mana from any mana-using enemy and "charge" yourself with it. When you get charged (up to three times), you can use Arcane Torrent to AOE silence your enemies and gain back mana/energy yourself. Some people in the starting area were complaining it didn't do damage, unable to see how deadly an AOE silence would be in PVP.
My last quest of the starting area told me to go to Faltherien Academy, where I would kill wraiths and a blood elf who had become blinded by his magic addiction. While killing the wraiths, I found that mana tap was super useful for at least one thing - it's a great way for paladins, who have no ranged attacks, to pull creatures. At the top, I found another paladin had reached the quest guy before me, so I strolled around and took some pictures of the blood elf area until I could kill him. I returned his head for a shield - my first sword and board! I was getting pretty tired at this point, so I decided to finish off my profession training and then go to bed. I had just learned Jewelcrafting as my first profession and decided to pick up Mining to go along with it. Unfortunately, this meant I had to run to Silvermoon City, the Blood Elf capital.
If the Exodar is the Alliance's jumbled, multi-level Undercity, then Silvermoon is the Horde's Stormwind - a clean, pretty, well-organized place with a ton of statues. While I was there, I decided to pick up some weapon training (nothing I could use) and go see the boss of the Blood Elves. Lor'themar Theron resides in a giant palace that, for all its finery, is decorated inside like a 19-year-old's college dorm room -- weird lights, pillows on the floor, and still-smoking bongs all over the place. I spied something called an "Orb of Translocation" and, without thinking about what that title meant, clicked on it. I was immediately transported to the Ruins of Lordaeron. Convenient! But not really want I was looking for. I hearthed back to Falconwing Square and picked up a few quests to kill Wretched (magic-crazed Blood Elves) and malfunctioning arcane patrollers, then decided to pick up the game again the next day.