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What are glyphs, how can I get them, and why do I want them?

When I came back to World of Warcraft during Mists of Pandaria after a lengthy WoW break, a lot of things had changed. But the biggest mental shift, on my part, was taking in the way the former talent trees had turned into a system of specializations, talents, and glyphs. While the first two were simple enough -- you only have three (or four) specializations and a choice of three talents at each tier -- glyphs presented a dizzying array of options to modify my gameplay. And while the in-game UI nagged me about initially picking a specialization or selecting a talent when I had the option, the fact that it didn't nag me about glyphs meant I could very easily ignore them while happily leveling -- and I suspect plenty of players, new and returning, have been in the same boat.

So today we're going to talk glyphs: just what they are, what they can do for you, and whether you even need to bother them while you're leveling. Oh, let's just skip to the end, shall we? The answer to whether you need them is only if you want to bother with them. For all the details, read on!

So what are glyphs, anyway?
Glyphs let you modify your abilities in wide variety of ways. You'll find some of them can have a pretty big impact on your gameplay, while others are cosmetic changes that are mostly for fun. They're divided into major (which tend to change how your abilities work) and minor (which tend to be more cosmetic) glyphs, and starting at level 25 you have access to 1 major and 1 minor glyph slot to fine-tune your abilities. There are a total of 3 major and 3 minor glyph slots and after level 25, you'll unlock another major and minor slot at level 50 and the last major and minor slot at level 75.

Like talents, you can switch up your glyph selection for the cost of a reagent -- Vanishing Powder for characters under level 80, Dust of Disappearance for levels 81 to 85, or Tome of the Clear Mind for levels 86 and up, any of which can be bought at reagent vendors -- if you decide you don't like it. While you will have to purchase glyphs, once you've learned a glyph, you can remove it and add it again without the need to purchase a new version of it, which makes swapping extra easy. If you have a dual specialization, you'll also have a unique glyph set that you can tailor to each spec.

What's so confusing about that?
The confusion comes with the fact that glyphs are specific to your class and some are even specific to your talent specialization -- and there are a lot of them. To take a look at your glyph options, hit "n" on the keyboard and select the Glyphs tab. Every glyph available to your class will be listed in the column to the right-hand side. For a new player, sifting through available glyphs to work out which the best ones are can be a dizzying experience -- which is further complicated by the fact that you have to purchase glyphs before you can use them, and some of the ones you want may be pretty pricey.

But glyphs can be pretty useful for players at any level, regardless of their gameplay style. For example, lately my monk has been soloing low level dungeons, and so has Glyph of Spinning Crane Kick to move faster while AoEing things down. There are other glyphs that could give me more utility in different situations, but right now this one's perfect for how I'm playing -- and when I decide to switch, it's easy to swap from one glyph to another. Though this is a very specific example, every class will find they have options like this to help them play the way they want to.

How to pick the perfect glyphs for you
With so many glyphs available, I just can't recommend the ideal glyphs for every class, build, and play style. However, there's a couple of ways to approach picking out the right glyphs for your character. If you want to take a hands-on approach, you can read through all of the descriptions and decide what sounds best based on the skills you most use and how you're playing. Try glyphs out and, if you don't like them, swap them for something else.

However, if you're just not sure what some glyphs do or the DIY approach is too time-consuming -- or too expensive -- hit up your favorite search engine and type in "glyphs <purpose> <class>" -- perhaps you're on the hunt for mage leveling glyphs or druid healing glyphs -- and see what you find. Checking out class guides here on WoW Insider, the Blizzard forums, or your favorite WoW site can also offer great advice. There are tons of players who have put in the hours and figured out what's best, and this is a quick way to get started with good glyphs. But, still, don't be afraid to swap things around if the glyphs don't work for you or what you're doing right now.
Okay, you've convinced me that I need glyphs, but how can I afford them?
Glyphs are made by players with the inscription profession, so you'll find them on the auction house. What they'll sell for can vary a lot from day to day and server to server, but you'll usually find the cheapest going for around 10 gold while pricier glyphs will sell for hundreds. If you're level 25 and looking to fill up your glyph slots, that kind of pricing can be unaffordable. However, some smart shopping tips can help you get the glyphs you want:
  • Prioritize: Some glyphs are genuinely useful, some glyphs might be useful, and some glyphs are probably just for fun. Decide on which glyph is most useful and focus on getting that one first.
  • Shop around: Keep an eye on auction house prices. Some days, you'll find your glyph of choice selling for more and some days for less. If you know someone with the inscription skill, you may also be able to get them to make your glyph in exchange for the materials they need to craft it -- just be sure to ask nicely (and offer to tip if you can), since they probably get pestered with these requests all the time.
  • Save up: Making extra coin in World of Warcraft doesn't have to be all that difficult. You can make a decent amount by just picking up everything you come across and selling it to a vendor or on the auction house. Even low level items, like herbs, leather, ore, and cloth can be sold on the auction house for a nice profit which can build up your bank and make these buys easier. Check out our newbie-friendly write-ups on how to make gold without breaking (much of) a sweat and how to earn gold for the absolute beginner for advice.

Whether you're now picking out glyphs or you've decided to go without them, have fun out there. After all, that's what we're here for.
Just because you're a newbie doesn't mean you can't bring your A-game to World of Warcraft! Visit the WoW Rookie Guide for links to everything you need to get started as a new player, from the seven things every newbie ought to know to how to get started as a healer or as a tank.

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