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WoW Rookie: Coming back to WoW after a break


New around here? WoW Rookie has your back! Get all our collected tips, tricks and tactics for new players in the WoW Rookie Guide.

You're not really a rookie -- but man, it's been ages since you last played! Azeroth feels like a whole new world. A "dungeon finder" -- huh? And why are all these people pelting you with friend invitations that have real-life names attached?

As more and more former players start peeking their heads back into the game in anticipation of the launch of Cataclysm, we'll be seeing more and more uncertain vets fumbling through mechanics and features even those rookies among us now take for granted. What's the best way to get back up to speed after an extended time away from WoW? Reader Anthony writes:

I used to be an avid WoW player but quit about a year ago (just before patch 3.1). I have been entertaining the idea of getting back in the game but am kind of intimidated, because I think there probably have been so many addons to the game since I left, I'll be totally lost. I used to use your website as a resource and visited it daily when I did play, but I stopped after I quit playing. So I'm not really sure what has changed.

And I am also not really sure if it's a good time to pick up playing again because of the expansion that's supposedly coming out. So I was wondering if there could be any way that someone on your team could give me a quick little up-to-speed brief on some of the changes that have happened, mostly with the gameplay aspects; I'm not overall concerned about new raids and stuff. I used to raid all day, every day when I played before but would rather just ease into that later. So if there's maybe a link or something, I would greatly appreciate it.

A "link or something"? WoW Rookie can certainly oblige. Join us after the break for a healthy dose of tips on getting your bearings if you've been away from WoW for quite some time.

Should I wait until the expansion hits?

Like a freshman sidling into room packed with upper classmen, sometimes you have to wonder if maybe jumping in at this particular moment wasn't such a good idea after all. Should you even be here yet? Depending on how you were playing the game before you left and what you hope to jump back into and how quickly, the answer is a definite "maybe."

Many guilds have already romped through every last available hard-mode option and have retired until the expansion hits, but others are only now getting organized enough for a full-court press to the Lich King. Altaholics and achievement junkies are relentlessly ticking their way through achievements that will be wiped off the face of Azeroth come Cataclysm, but others are saving their energies for the new races and race/class combos, revamped zones and fresh experiences of the expansion. Many guilds are getting creative with special events and dipping into areas such as world PvP and roleplaying that they've never had the chance to try out before.

If the thought of logging in to WoW once again piques your interest, it's safe to say you'll be able to find something to keep you busy in the days from now until the expansion hits. If it's the new stuff you're really longing for, though, you should probably hold off just a little bit longer.

With all I've missed, how can I get Cataclysm-ready?

You may not need as much preparation as you think. The expansion will be designed so that even non-raiding level 80s wearing quest greens and blues can progress forward into the new leveling zones. Sure, there are plenty of players who are racing through raid zones and burning emblem currency to gear up for strong-arming their way through the early 80s ... But even if you enter the expansion wearing the basics, you'll manage just fine.

What's changed in the past year or two?

The best way to pick up where you left off is to read our patch overviews of anything that landed after you stopped playing. There's an incredible amount of detail, but our guides break it all down into bite-sized pieces. Skim each guide for the mechanics, content and changes that affect your own playstyle the most.

Jan. 20, 2009: Patch 3.0.8 This was the first update after the launch of Wrath of the Lich King.

April 14, 2009: Patch 3.1 The first major post-Wrath content patch introduced the ability to purchase dual talent specialization and saw the debut of Ulduar, the next generation of raid instances.

Aug. 4, 2009: Patch 3.2 The "Call of the Crusade" patch launched a new 5-man dungeon and a new raid instance (with both 10- and 25-man versions) at the Argent Tournament grounds, plus The Isle of Conquest battleground. Level requirements for mounts dropped significantly.

Dec. 8, 2009: Patch 3.3 This patch introduced three new 5-man dungeons and a new raid instance (with 10- and 25-man versions) at Icecrown Citadel.

March 23, 2010: Patch 3.3.3 This changes in this patch focused primarily on changes to battlegrounds and class balance.

June 22, 2010: Patch 3.3.5 This content patch introduced the Ruby Sanctum raid instance plus the implementation of the system.

Getting back into the saddle

Returning to WoW after an extended absence
While this article is aimed at returning BC-era players, tips on topics solidifying guild and realm choices are still germane.
Level 80: Now what?
This basic checklist will help point you in the right direction for whatever type of game play you're interested in pursuing.
Class Skills 101
What's the current state of the art in basic level 80 play for your class and spec? Cover the bases with our class experts.
Getting started in endgame 5-man instances
What's it like inside today's 5-man endgame instances? We'll prepare you for what lies ahead.
Emblem gear for the fresh level 80
With today's emblem currency system, it's never been easier to take your character to epic levels of gear and adventure through 5-man instances.
Advice for the new level 80 player
Brush up on what else is worth your attention once you're playing at level 80.
No more drama
The advent of the random dungeon finder and Real ID have raised some sticky yet all-too-common social situations for pickup players. Find out how others are dealing with the issues.
Buying and selling in the pre-Cataclysm economy
What sells these days? And what about professions – what should you be making, and where should you spend your cash?
Finding a guild for ICC and beyond
The Classifieds lists openings in guilds recruiting for current ICC content and positioning for post-expansion adventures.
What's current in addons
What do players use these days to handle X? The recommended examples in this post will update you on what's popular and working best right now.
Getting back into raiding
Soothe pre-raid nerves with this reassuring raiding reminder checklist for rusty (or new) raiders.'s Guide to Ruby Sanctum
Meet Halion and the three mini-bosses of the Ruby Sanctum.'s Guide to Icecrown Citadel
Explore general raid strategies for all the bosses of Icecrown Citadel.
Re-entering the stream
Catch up with the latest scuttle with The Queue, our Q&A feature that answers your burning questions about World of Warcraft.

Visit the WoW Rookie Guide for links to everything you need to get started as a new player, from game lingo for the beginner, to joining your first guild as a mid-level player, all the way up through what to do when you finally hit level 80. Got questions to ask or tips to share? Email

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