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Thursday, January 1, 2009

Metagaming for newbies

It's ok to admit it: WoW has sucked you in. You pop up WoW Insider in your browser during breaks at work. You replay your shining moment of glory from your Sunday night group's near-wipe over and over in your head as you sit in traffic. You drift off to sleep wishing you'd remembered to look up the proc rate on that new drop. You're hooked – and you're hungry for more knowledge, eager to pounce on all the insider information you sense is dangling somewhere just out of line of sight ...

Welcome to metagaming. Researching your WoW game – your crunchy bits -- can be one of the most enjoyable aspects of playing World of Warcraft. While some players relish tackling new content with no preparations and no spoilers, others enjoy digging up encounter strategies and mapping out intricate leveling, gear and crafting plans. We'll introduce you to some basic resources for "theorycrafting" to start your New Year in WoW off with a (quantifiable) bang!

Here are a few top picks for barebones WoW research basics. Yes, we know there are lots of other great resources out there. We know! We do! Once you visit these sites, you'll undoubtedly discover others that suit your tastes – especially sites specific to your class, spec, profession and other niches.

For now, let's look at a few of the best places to get started getting your crunch on.

Crunchy Bits 101

  • Today's standard for looking up gear and other items. Reader comments generally always list "the trick" you may not be getting to finish that persnickety quest.

  • What instances are at your level? What strategy will defeat this boss? What specs are currently effective for my class? How can I build rep with this faction? All this, and more.

More meat and bones

  • Kaliban's Class Loot Lists An easy way to browse what gear is out there and what's accessible to you.

  • Be Imba All the rage in online theorycrafting tools; tweak your character's gear for optimum PvE performance.

  • MaxDPS Gear rankings, spell rotations and tactics for – you guessed it – maximum DPS (Damage Per Second).

  • Elitist Jerks The forums at EJ are where the big boys rattle their theorycrafting sabers. Approach with caution; this is definitely way more detail than a WoW Rookie really needs to know. If you're curious about arcane formulae that make the eyes of end-game players dance with glee, though, you'll quiver with delight.

Class-specific resources
The best starting spot for information on your class is Blizzard's own class forums – not the discussion threads themselves, but the informative stickies at the top.

From there, reach out and Google around. We're sure the comments will fill up with reader favorites, too. There's sooo much meaty goodness beyond these basics.