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WoW Rookie: Patch 4.1 for rookies and casual players

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Patch 4.1 landed this week. While there is tons of information on WoW Insider and other locations, it helps to get down to the basics to figure out what pieces of the patch affect casual players.

Did you see the trailer? If you didn't see the trailer, you should check it out now. It's right above this text, just to be clear. The trailer's pretty cool. It does continue the legend that all trolls are inevitably and irrevocably evil, but a lot of folks already knew that. The opening dialogue kind of puts you on the Zandalari's side for a bit, but then the trolls all go butterfly-chasing insane.

Two new instances

The big deal about patch 4.1 is that there are two new 5-man instances. A lot of the changes to the game revolve around these two instances. Sure, there are class buffs and nerfs, but that's not breaking news. There are always class buffs and nerfs; new instances are a very, very big deal!

Zul'Gurub is an old vanilla instance that's finally been updated for contemporary gameplay. The return of ZG for old and loyal players is like finally hooking back up with your high school sweetheart. This was a definitive getting-started-with-raiding instance back then. According to Allison, Zul'Gurub feels like the easier of the two new instances.

Zul'Aman was originally from The Burning Crusade. It was a 10-man raid with a single goal: Get it done under a certain time in order to get a random mount to drop. (I guess some people did it for gear, but I did it for the bear.) The bear's back as a random drop in the contemporary instance, but Zul'Aman is a fairly tough instance now. If you're wearing much purple, you'll probably be fine. But if you're wearing even 5-man heroic blue gear, you'll need to play tightly to succeed.

LF Guild, PST

If you're looking for a guild to hook up with, Blizzard has finally implemented a looking for guild tool. Since guilds now have pretty valuable features due to guild levels, you should probably look into hooking up with a guild, even if you're by nature a casual solo player.

The best benefit of this tool, though, is that it might cut down on some of the inevitable guild recruitment spam in major cities. I'm not holding my breath, but it'd nice to see even a 10% drop in "we have a tabard" from the general channel.

Daily dungeons have changed

The most important news is that you don't have to run your random dungeons every day to get your weekly max of valor points. Instead, it works like this:
  • The first seven times each week that you run ZG or ZA, you get 140 VP each.
  • You queue for the trollish twosome separately from "normal" heroics.
  • Your weekly VP cap is 1,250, 980 of which can be earned from heroic 5-mans.
  • You can run your 5-mans all at once until you reach the caps.
This is huge for players who can't slavishly log into the game every single day. Huge. You can run your weekly heroics on your own schedule. Granted, you still have to worry about a weekly schedule, but that's infinitely better than a daily schedule.

Points are more flexible

You can now swap around same-tier points between their PvE and PvP equivalents. That means you can swap conquest points for valor points and justice points for honor points.

It's worth noting that while the daily dungeons have been changed, the same is not true for daily battlegrounds. It's hard to read into why that might be the case, but I still chalk it up to the game's changing to accommodate the new troll instances.

Tanks and healers get fabulous prizes

Tanks and healers now get a goody bag at the end of each instance, which has a chance of having rare mounts and non-combat pets. The dynamic is called "Call to Arms." It actually means that whichever roles are least represented in the random dungeon queue will get the goody bag, so if there is somehow a desperate lack of DPSers in the queue, they'll get the goody bag instead.

This is to help encourage solo tanks and healers to go into the queue. Call to Arms was a pretty controversial subject at the time was announced, but folks have gotten used to the idea at this point. You can tell which roles are needed by looking at the role marker in your random dungeon finder.

Classes were (mildly) changed

There is no way I can reasonably cover all of the class changes here. Check out our official guide to patch 4.1 to see what's different for your class, and look here to see how that will affect raiding and dungeons.

There were definitely some class buffs and nerfs, but it's not like anyone has gone from being a wimp to a pixelated god or vice versa. Most of the buffs and nerfs felt like minor changes, taken as a whole. We'll probably see the bigger portion of class changes when patch 4.2 comes out, since there will be a new raid tier at that time.

Visit the WoW Rookie Guide for links to everything you need to get started as a new player, from how to control your character and camera angles when you're just starting out, to learning how to tank, getting up to speed for heroics and even how to win Tol Barad.

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