|Master of Alterac Valley - Complete the Alterac Valley achievements listed below.|
Assuming you don't have a friend on a server that you want to play with, the decision to be made is player versus player (PvP) or non-PvP. The non-PvP servers are called "normal" by the game, and PvE or "player vs environment" (or sometimes enemy) by players. There is also another variation on the servers called RP (role-playing) where people are supposed to be more intent on playing as their characters, rather than merely playing their characters. An RP server is usually just a special type of PvE server, however there are a few "RP-PvP" servers.
There is PvP content on the PvE servers. Don't think you'll be completely missing out. However on the PvE servers, if you're an orc and you run across a human in the open world, you can't fight him unless he agrees to fight you. There is a "PvP mode" you enter and at that point anyone on the other side can attack you (and thus enter PvP mode themself.) The only other time you will engage in PvP is by taking part in content designed specicially for team PvP: battlegrounds and the arena. In other words, PvP is consentual on the non-PvP servers.
On the PvP servers, you can attack the other faction at any time. If you want to, you can be a level 50 player and go kill level 15's. The absolute newbie zones are protected, but everywhere else is "contested territory" where it's open season. However, killing someone close to your level will earn you honor, while killing a trivial low-level player will not. There is never a direct penalty for fighting someone, and you must be prepared to have that happen to you at the most inopportune times.
PvP adds a certain element of realism - it puts the war in warcraft. However, if you are not a fan of being at the whim of other players, you might be better off playing PvE. PvE servers are, in fact, the majority of the servers.
By choosing your race, you also choose your faction. The two factions are the Alliance and the Horde, and each faction has 5 races. The member of rival faction cannot communicate with each other, nor can they form groups or join guild together. On pvp servers, you are in open war with them. If you are joining the game to play with a friend, it is important to make sure you are both on the same side.
Choosing a race is not as important as choosing a class, so you might want to look at the class below and pick the one that seems the most interesting and than think about the class available to it. Not all combinations are available. A class will greatly affect the way you play the game and how you interact with the world (of Warcraft).
While some races' attributes are more helpful to some classes than others, there is no such thing as a 'bad' class/race combination.
About Roles: It's important to understand that while several class have the potential to fulfill more than one role, none can really be several roles at the same time. While leveling, you can take it easy and do more or less what you wish, but at the end of the game, you will need to make a choice as to which role you decide to fill. In short, while a Paladin (for example) can heal, dps, and tank - he won't be able to do all 3 at the same time. You will have to make a choice.
Warriors are the guys up front in plate armor. They can take the blows, and are expected to try to keep anyone else from taking them if they can. They certainly can deal damage though, and have three battle stances to reflect their balance of offense and defense. Rather than having mana, warriors generate rage to activate their special abilities as the battle goes on, and have quite a few combat skills to use, not all of them available in every stance.
Warriors wear mail initially, later plate, and can use nearly all weapon types. They start with a one-handed sword and shield.
Paladins can use mail armor, plate later on, and can equip many non-ranged weapons. They start with a two-handed mace.
Shamans can wear leather armor, learn mail later, and start with a staff.
Rogues are perhaps the masters of combat damage. However, they can not take damage anywhere near as well as a warrior can, despite having an exceptionally high dodge rating. Rogues are also able to stealth and sneak up behind opponents, with special skills to initiate combat from hiding, including the ability to sap an opponent, stunning him for a lengthy period of time. Rogues do not use mana, but rather Energy that drains as they use it, but fills very quickly on its own. Unlike mana pools, a rogue's energy pool is always out of 100. Some skills the rogue performs adds a "combo point" to that target, and other skills are refered to as finishing moves, and have a stronger effect based on how many combo points are on that target. The points become spent when the rogue does this, and cannot be transferred to another target.
Rogues wear leather and can use most one-handed weapons and ranged weapons. They start with a dagger.
Druids wear leather and can use daggers, one-handed maces, and staves. They start with a staff.
Hunters are the masters of ranged combat, dealing damage more effectively with a bow or shotgun than anyone else. While their emphasis is on their ranged combat, they are also capable at close range, and are skilled survivalists that use traps and the beasts of the wild to their advantage. In fact, hunters can tame beast-type creatures to be their pets, and after building a degree of loyalty with that pet, teach them skills that make them effective at dealing damage or tanking for the hunter while he shoots his target. Hunters have a line of buff spells called aspects, of which they can only use one at a time, and which mostly only affect the hunter. Hunters are especially known for their mark ability that highlights a creature and puts a big floating arrow above it to indicate a target for others, as well as increasing ranged damage against it.
Hunters begin with leather armor and can learn to wear mail, and can use almost all weapon types. They usually start with a one-handed axe and either a gun or a bow (with ammo pouch or quiver.)
Priests can only wear cloth armor, and can use daggers, wands, one-handed maces and staves. They start with a mace.
Warlocks can only use cloth armor, and wield staves, daggers, wands, or one-handed swords. They start with a dagger.
Mages wear cloth, and wield staves, daggers, wands, or one-handed swords. They start with a dagger.
All listed non-starting weapon proficiencies must be trained.
You have some minor options to adjust your appearance with things like skin shade, hair style, facial hair, etc. This isn't going to impact your gameplay, and both genders are equal in all ways, so just pick whatever looks prettiest to you or whatever.
Enter your name - something NAME-LIKE and moderately original, or you run the risk of having it changed - and press create. You're ready to start.