Welcome, O WoW rookie, to patch week madness. If you thought run-of-the-mill maintenance and minor patch days could be dicey, here's your chance to enjoy the epic-level chaos wrought by epic-level content patches.
World of Warcraft has evolved considerably since its launch in what's now been almost a handful of years ago. Blizzard regularly releases downloadable updates, called "patches," to add new content and features, fix problems and tweak game play and balance. Through patches, players have gained access to new quests, instances, Battlegrounds, events, items and tools.
This week's Patch 3.1 is known as a content patch – a nice way of saying "a ton of new stuff we've added to the game that's going to make all hell break loose." The realms go up, the realms go down. The realms go up. Did we mention they also go down? You may log in only to find your characters nowhere in sight ("Oh #%$&, my characters are all gone!"). You may experience disappearing mail or auctions, random disconnections from the game and insufferable lag. You may find yourself merrily rolling along only to find the NPCs have disappeared, you can't zone in or out of instances or log out of the game, and you and every other player who's trapped in your zone are left with nothing to do but chat about the whole thing. (Almost makes you wonder if the Ice Stone has melted yet.)