What's with the curlicue dragon graphic wrapped around the portrait of that mob? Aren't they usually gold? This one's silver. Hmmm ... And whoa, why does that Gnoll over there have a name? He's got one of those gold dragon things, too. Do you think -- CRUNCH!
Special names, special graphics ... Special attacks, special ZOMGWTFBBQ levels of health ... It's unobtrusive little details like these that might, just might, have something to do with the fact that you just got epicly pwned. Make no mistake: these are special mobs, the elites, nameds and rares of Azeroth and beyond.
WoW Rookie would never allow you to wander about the wilderness unaware of the dangers that lurk. Let's go over a few signs that suggest you may want to look before you leap.
Named mobs are just that: monsters that have names. Most of them play key roles in quests, and their names serve no more than to alert you that this is who you've been searching for. Others, though, may be rare or elite mobs that will clean your clock if you attack them before you're prepared for something ... more. If a named mob is larger than average, you can usually (but not always) bet that he may be a little more difficult to kill. You can usually count on named mobs to drop better-than-average loot.
Is this monster ever going to die? Elite mobs are the tough guys: dungeon bosses or their flunkies, quest line finales, any mob who should (and does) make an impression. Elites have more special fighting abilities than the average mob; in technical terms, their Hit, Crit and Miss rates are calculated as if they were three levels higher than the level they appear to be.
The hallmark of an elite, however, is not its abilities but its potentially shocking high number of hit points. Most outdoor elites have about 30% more hit points than usual; indoor/instance elites have even more. These mobs take time and firepower to kill. Unless you have solid gear for your level and are quite comfortable with your fighting skills, you'll probably have trouble killing an elite by yourself. You'll definitely want to pick your elite fights carefully, ensuring you have preparation time beforehand and recovery time afterwards.
Elite mobs give more XP and sometimes better loot than usual.
Elite mobs are usually larger and more intricate than the monsters around them -- but not always. There is one sure method of picking out an elite mob: look for the gold curlicue dragon graphic that wraps around its portrait in your target window.
Rare mobs are always named but are never part of quests. They may or may not be elite. They often have an extra special ability or two but aren't generally much tougher than average monsters. (Exceptions do exist, and some rares will relentlessly pwn you before you even realize what you've attacked.)
The thing that makes rare mobs rare is, well, their rarity. They spawn less frequently or predictably than normal mobs – and yes, that means they have better-than-average loot. Outdoor rares usually drop uncommon (green) loot, while instance rares may drop rare (blue) items that are frequently bind on pickup (BoP). Rare mobs in Outland (The Burning Crusade) drop only rare, bind on equip (BoE) items.
You can identify a rare by its silver curlicue dragon graphic around the mob portrait. A regular rare will feature a silver, wingless dragon; an elite rare will show a fully winged silver dragon. (Scroll back to the top of this page for a side-by-side comparison of elite, rare and rare elite graphics.)
What's this guy got for me?
Now that you're armed with a workable identification system for these unique monsters, we're going to send you into the field to gain great renown and loot fit for a king -- or perhaps nothing more than a whimper and a jot of XP. Some named monsters figure prominently in the lore of the area you're exploring, while others remain puzzlingly mysterious. Some rares inspire hours of patient tracking and incite all-out warfare when they do spawn. There's no formula for knowing which are important and which are not ... That's for you to discover! It's all part of the variety and mystery of the World of Warcraft.
WoW Rookie feeds you the basics to get you off to a good start in the World of Warcraft, from game lingo through joining your first guild and even what to do when you finally hit level 80.