World of warcraft combat

World of warcraft combat DEFAULT

Welcome to World of Warcraft—Basic Movement and Combat

Many people have been playing computer and video games for longer than they can remember, so it’s sometimes hard to remember what stepping into an entirely new game for the first time feels like. This article is written with brand new gamers in mind. We’ll be exploring the various aspects of World of Warcraft together—starting from the very beginning.

If you’re a new player, this is for you. If you’re an experienced player, you can use this article as a tool to help friends get into the game for the first time.

Get Moving!

NewPlayerGuide-Movement_WoW_Thumb-Move_JM_260x130.jpgFirst things first! Before you can enjoy the countless adventures you’ll have in World of Warcraft, you have to help your character get around in the world. Fortunately, movement is easy, though it can take some getting used to if you’ve never played a first- or third-person-perspective game before.

The basic movement keys are W, A, S, and D. You’ll find that a lot of games use this layout. Press W to go forward, S to go backward, A to turn left, and D to turn right. It’s not a bad idea to practice leaving the fingers of your left hand on those keys, and your right hand on the mouse.

After you’ve got that down, try getting the mouse involved. Hold down the right mouse button, and you can control where the camera that looks down on your character is pointing. With the right mouse button still held down, press Wor the left mouse button to move your character forward. While you’re doing this, you can move your mouse around to turn your character left and right. This is a lot faster than “keyboard turning” using the A and D keys. You can also “strafe” (run sideways) left and right by pressing the A or D key while holding down the right mouse button. You can also move without the keyboard at all by holding down the right mouse button, then pressing the left mouse button to move forward.

That’s pretty much all there is to it!

Knowing Where to Go

Now that you know how to move around, it’s time to learn how to get where you’re going. First, let’s talk about:

The Map
NewPlayerGuide-Movement_WoW_Thumb-Map_JM_260x130.jpgThe map can be accessed by pressing the M key on your keyboard by default. Your location on the map is shown as a small silver arrow pointed in the direction your character is facing. The places that you’ve already explored will be colored in, while the places you’ve yet to explore are show in sepia tones.

The first time you access the map, you’ll probably be in an open part of the world. While in larger cities, dungeons, caves, and some other locales, opening the map will show you only your local area. You can also use the drop downs at the top of the map to zoom out and look at other parts of the world. You can close the map by using the M key again, or clicking the X in the upper right corner. You can also use the arrow icon to minimize the map so you have a larger frame of reference than your mini-map can provide. On that note:

The Mini-Map

The mini-map is a companion to the larger map, but it’s visible all the time on the upper right. Your location is also displayed here as a silver arrow, but the mini-map shows you a much smaller area relative to your position. The name of your immediate location is shown in the title bar at the top—handy if someone asks where you are. An icon that looks like an envelope will appear on the right if you’ve received in-game mail.

You can use the + and - symbols to make the mini-map cover a larger or smaller area. The magnifying glass on the left can be clicked to customize what kind of important in-game icons show up on your mini-map. This can be really useful for finding your way around town or locating resource nodes that are important to your Professions. Finally, arrows can appear on the mini-map that point the way toward important objectives, or—if you’ve been unlucky—where your corpse is.

*Visit the Game Guide: How To Play Page to see more on the User Interface (UI).

Death Isn’t the End

NewPlayerGuide-Movement_WoW_Thumb-Comic_JM_260x130.jpgWhen you’re defeated in combat in World of Warcraft, your spirit leaves your body and is resurrected at a nearby graveyard. You can resurrect there, but it’s usually a better idea to run back to your body instead. The mini-map will handily display a red arrow pointing the way toward where your body lies. Once you’re close enough, a Resurrect button will appear. You’ll come back to life where your ghost is standing, so it’s important to try to position your ghost where nearby enemies are unlikely to attack (or just be ready to run!). Press the button, and you’ll be restored to life with all your equipment and reduced health. Take time to heal or bandage up, then get back into the fight! Speaking of which. . . .

Ready? FIGHT!

Battle is a constant fact of life in Azeroth (and beyond), so it’s important to know how to do away with the fearsome foes you’ll encounter in the course of your quests.


To get ready to deal with an enemy, you need to target them first. That’s accomplished by left clicking the foe you wish to fight on the screen. You can also right click them, which will also enable your auto-attack—we’ll cover that in a moment. You can also press the Tab key to cycle through nearby targets.

When a creature is targeted, its portrait will appear next to yours on the upper left of the screen. Red names signify hostile creatures, which means they’ll attack if you get too close. Yellow names signify neutral characters, which means they’ll leave you alone unless provoked (though only some can be attacked).


NewPlayerGuide-Movement_WoW_Thumb-Attack_JM_260x130.jpgYour character has many different ways of attacking enemies. All characters have an auto-attack, which is the normal melee swing you’ll perform if an enemy is targeted, auto-attack is enabled, and you are in range to swing your weapon. Auto-attack is much more important to fight primarily with weapons, such as Warriors and Hunters, than it is to ranged spell-casting characters.

Your character also has a range of abilities and spells that you must activate to use, which appear on your ActionBar (the long row of icons on the bottom of your screen). These abilities play a very important role in dealing damage, and learning how and when to use them is critical to quickly dispatching your opponents.

*Advanced Tip: Once you’ve gotten the hang of your class abilities, it can be worthwhile to visit your respective class forum at to find out more about how to effectively use them from other players. 

To find out what an ability does, simply hover over its icon with your mouse. To use an ability, press the number key that corresponds to it on your ActionBar, or click it with your mouse. Many players find it effective to key-bind (assign a keyboard key) to hard-to-reach icons, so that all of their important abilities are a quick key-press away. To do so, enter the Game Menu (Escape), and click the Key Bindings option.

*Advanced Tip: More advanced players might combine different abilities into special macros, which can allow you to trigger different abilities in sequence or subject to certain conditions. To learn more about how to use your keybindings, macros, and similar user-interface options, you might find it helpful to visit the UI & Macros forum at


NewPlayerGuide-Movement_WoW_Thumb-Heal_JM_260x130.jpg​In addition to dealing damage, several character classes in World of Warcraft can heal, restoring health and even resurrecting their injured comrades (signified by a green name hovering over the character). Healing is handled in much the same way as combat, except that instead of targeting a foe, you target allies and party members. Once your ally is targeted, you can trigger the appropriate ability to heal them. If no ally is targeted or you’re targeting a hostile target, then eligible healing spells will be “self-cast,” healing your own character instead. If you want to resurrect a fallen ally, you can target their corpse on the ground, then trigger the appropriate resurrection ability (assuming you’ve earned one).

Ready? Go

Now that you know the basics, you’re ready to start your adventure. Be sure to read the other articles in this series to learn more about adventuring in World of Warcraft.

You can also join in the discussions on the New Player Help and Guides Forum.

For the rogue specialization previously named "Combat", see Outlaw.
Dragon Fight Wallpaper.jpg

Combat refers to a basic game system World of Warcraft: a state in which the character is attacking (or about to attack) a selected target. While in this state, the character is restricted from some specific actions, such as eating or using a  [Hearthstone].

The combat flag

When a character attacks or is attacked, he will be flagged by the game as being in combat. This state is denoted to the player with an icon of two crossing swords next to their character portrait. Many actions and abilities cannot be used while you are in combat, making knowing how to get into and out of combat very important, especially in PvP combat.

In PvP, a player will leave combat if they have not attacked or been attacked for 6 seconds, or all the enemy characters that have attacked you are killed.

Under most circumstances in PvE, once all monsters have lost interest in you, you will be removed from combat.

Actions that will get you into combat Combat.png

  • Attacking.
  • Casting an offensive spell.
  • Casting a buff or a healing spell on a unit that is in combat
  • Getting on a mob'saggro list.
  • Certain bosses always put everyone in the group (or raid) in combat when engaged, regardless their distance from the boss.

Abilities that cannot be used while in combat

When in combat, several abilities become unavailable including drinking, eating, mounting, and accepting a summon. In addition:

  • Resurrection abilities may not be used, including items that resurrect. The only exception is the druid's [Rebirth] ability which is on a 10-minute cooldown.
  • Drinking and eating are not possible while in combat.
  • Portal and [Teleport] spells may not be cast while in combat. You may, however, enter a portal already created.

Abilities that allow you to escape combat

Some classes have abilities that remove them from combat instantly. However, if they are dotted they will usually be brought back into combat the next time they take damage. Note that these abilities no longer remove you from combat during Boss Fights (only at the end of wipes if you time it correctly).

  • [Vanish] makes the rogue completely invisible for 3 seconds, then drops him into stealth. It is on a 2-minute cooldown, though they can reset it using [Preparation].
  • [Feign Death], on a 30-second cooldown, removes the hunter from combat. In PvP, this is usually used to remove the hunter as a target and cancelling all incoming spellcasts. In PvE, it will cause mobs to forget about the hunter.
Night elves

General combat concepts

Aggro and adds

Using your favorite high-damage spell to pull a mob is not the best idea in the world. For one, it can make it very difficult for other players, such as warriors, to pull it off you (in the case of taunt resists, etc), increasing the likelihood that you will go down. Secondly, high-threat spells have a much higher chance of pulling other creatures around the mob, which can also be dangerous. In most cases, if you are a caster and you are pulling, you would be better off to use your wand, as even a crit from a wand is relatively low threat, whereas your Frostbolt is not.

If you are in combat and you have undesirable aggro (on a low-armor character, for example) you may want to follow one of the following courses of action. Which one you choose depends on a variety of factors, including the class that is tanking (paladin or warrior, or whatever else), the talent build of that player (specced for protection, or whatever), and his skill at maintaining aggro and the abilities at his disposal.

If the tank's build (and skill) allows him to build aggro on multiple mobs that he is tanking, you may want to change targets to one of the other mobs he has aggro on, and then switch back perhaps after he has established good aggro on the one that began attacking you.

If the tank's build (and skill) does not allow him to maintain good aggro on multiple mobs, you may want to just stop attacking for a while, or use an ability that you might have which reduces your aggro, and wait for a moment before commencing fire.

What you definitely do not want to do is run away from the mob in an undisciplined manner. It would be best to run towards the tank, so that he can see that you have aggro. This of course may be unwise if the mob he is tanking deals damage in an area of effect.

Mana and health

Keeping an eye on your mana and health before and during battle can mean the difference between life and death. Make sure to glance at it often. It is also a good idea to try to anticipate how much damage you will be taking during the battle so you know when it would be a good idea to use any cooldown abilities or a potion that may just save your life.

While in a group while questing or (more likely) going through an instance, it also helps to keep an eye on health and mana of the rest of your party. Especially for those who were designated to start the fights (i.e. Pull) you are going to put your companions and yourself into grave danger if you start a new fight while your main healer is still sitting down to get his mana back up.

Ready attack before in range

Sometimes you might want to right-click on a mob to attack it when it is out of range. Why? Because you can run toward it and your character will melee attack as soon as you get in range. This tactic gives you a slightly quicker attack than running close enough and then attacking.

This tactic also helps against caster and other ranged mobs, since you can sometimes run up and get a hit in before they finish casting their first spell.

Ranged weapons

Also called pulling, try to use a ranged weapon or spell to begin combat with most creatures in the distance. This gives you an extra hit before melee combat begins. If you have one, try to use a powerful attack to inflict the most damage before a fight. For example if you have a spell that sports a long casting time that is generally very difficult to use in combat, eg. Starfire for a druid or Pyroblast for a fire mage, use that because of the amount of damage done.

Be careful with this tactic against ranged caster mobs, since melee combat can have the advantage of interrupting or delaying spells where ranged attacks generally give the caster ample casting time to cast spells.

An advanced tactic to use in combination with a range weapon or spell is to try and perpetually run away from your opponent in circles (making sure you don't aggro anything else of course) allowing yourself just enough time to get a hit off but proceed running. This is called kiting. If done properly the opponent may never lay a finger on you.

Running away

Never eliminate the option of running away, if a battle starts going badly; but only when you are not in an instance.

Watch how much damage per hit an opponent does and when you get to about half health, you might want to think about running if you can't heal or won't kill the opponent before you die. Especially consider running, if you are fighting more than one opponent. Note that many humanoid mobs will flee themselves when they are at 15% of their normal health level (on average; some mobs will run before they reach 15%, and some don't run until they are very close to dying). However, after a few seconds of wandering off, they will return to fight you. Be careful, usually they take this time to bring more mobs with them if possible.

Good times to run
  • Many mobs won't follow you into water (river, lake, sea or ocean), but beware of water mobs (Sharks or Threshers), amphibious mobs (such as crocolisks or murlocs), or humanoids that can swim. They will swim at your normal run speed, but you will swim at reduced speed.
  • Conversely, many water mobs won't follow you on land, but also beware of amphibious mobs.
  • Also beware of mobs that have a ranged attack. They can pelt you from afar with spells and the like if you're slowly swimming in water. Usually though, these types of mobs won't chase you very far.
  • Run to friendly guard NPCs, since they will sometimes aid you, and most likely there are no enemy mobs in such an area.
  • Run to player characters not fighting who are around or higher than the level of the mob. Sometimes they will help you out, but not always. Be aware that it can be considered poor etiquette to "train" mobs over to another player.
  • Even if you know you will die, it will frequently be helpful to consider where you will resurrect when you return to your corpse after you die. In many cases, you can die near a wall, and resurrect yourself on the other side of that wall in safety.
Some things not to do when running
  • Don't run where there are other mobs whom you might aggro.
  • Don't run toward a hill or mountain or a valley that might lead to a dead end or require a lot of maneuvering to get around.
  • Don't run off a cliff that may kill you from the drop.
  • Don't make a lot of turns and try to "juke" the mob. The AI, executing on the server, is infinitely responsive and will "head you off at the pass" and catch up that much faster.
Useful things anyone can do before you run or while running
  • Drink a healing potion (or any equivalent) if you have it.
  • Yell for help in some way (/say, /yell, etc.).
  • Watch for and avoid obstacles like fences and walls; these will slow or stop a player without affecting a pursuing mob.
  • If you have enough health to take a few more hits from the mob, turn around (if that is necessary) and use a movement impairing effect or a stun effect on it, then proceed running.
  • Quickly strafing (sidestepping) left and right while running away will make it easier to escape mobs in pursuit.
  • Drink a Swiftness Potion, if you have one. This is an easy way to put quick distance between you and most pursuers.
Some useful things to do before you run or while running, by class (not comprehensive and not including talents)
Icon-time.svgThis section contains information that is out-of-date. Reason: Certain abilities were out of date and others may still be.
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Questing, Combat, and Movement in World of Warcraft

Part 4 of a guide for new, beginning, or returning players in World of Warcraft Shadowlands.

In the first three parts of this series for new players, we looked at how to setup your account, create a character, and explored the World of Warcraft user interface. Now it’s time for the fun part… playing the game! In this guide, we will cover the basics of character movement, questing, and combat in World of Warcraft.

When the next expansion (Shadowlands) launches, many in-game guides will be added for new players to help in this process. For now, we will quickly discuss the details of getting started when playing the game.

Character Movement

Moving with the keyboard

Moving your character is simple and straight forward in World of Warcraft. The default setup is to move with the ‘WASD’ keys on your keyboard. The ‘W’ key moves you forward. The ‘S’ key walks back slowly and the ‘A’ and ‘D’ keys turn your character left and right respectively. The spacebar can also be used to make your character jump.

Additionally, you can use the ‘Q’ and ‘E’ keys to perform a strafe — a run which allows your character to continue facing forward while moving sideways. Your other hand can now use the mouse to interact with objects in the world or icons on your screen.

Mouse movement

While this type of movement works, it is helpful to learn about alternate methods of movement as well. If you hold down the left and right-click buttons on your mouse simultaneously, without moving your hand, your character will move forward in a straight line.

If you hold both buttons and move your mouse, you will run forward and can turn much faster than the keyboard. It is extremely important to learn this type of movement if you plan on playing fast paced content later on — especially player-vs-player (PvP) content.

If you hold down the left mouse button and move the mouse, it will rotate the camera around your character. Conversely, if you hold down the right button and move the mouse, your character will change the direction they are facing.

As another important tip, you can change how zoomed in your camera is by scrolling the mouse wheel forward or back.


Another important movement tool is the Autorun feature. By default, it is set to your ‘num lock’ key on Windows or ‘Clear’ on Mac. As the name implies, it is a button which you can push to lock your character into a forward run. It is like a cruise control for you character. With it enabled you will continue to move forward until you press ‘W’, ‘S’ or hold down your mouse buttons. This means you can continue to turn your character with the traditional methods while autorunning.

If you take nothing else from this guide, make sure you give Autorun a try because it makes task like running across a long field or flying over a large zone much nicer.

Leveling and Gaining Experience

Now that you know how to move your character, it is time to begin leveling. In the current version of the game, you can increase your character level from 1 to 120. Once the Shadowlands expansion releases at the character levels will be rescaled so that the maximum level is 60.

In order to level up your character you need to gain experience (XP). As mentioned in part 3 of this guide, a bar to track your experience is shown in the bottom-center of the screen in purple or blue.

A purple bar indicates that you will receive XP at the normal rate.

A blue bar means that you will gain XP a little faster because your character is rested. You can “rest” your character by logging out at an inn or in a large city. You will know that it is a rested area if ‘ZZZ’ appears in your characters health frame in the top left.

There are a few major activities that reward experience:

  • Quests (including dungeon quests and queuing bonuses)
  • Killing monsters
  • Collecting herbs or metallic ores (need herbalism/mining professions)
  • Exploring a new area
  • Player-vs-player battlegrounds

Of all of these activities, the majority of your experience will likely come from quests and slaying monsters so we will focus on those for the remainder of this guide.

Questing and Combat in WoW

Types of quests

Quests are objectives that can be obtained from a non-player character (NPC) in game. In general, quests take on a few different forms, the most common of which include:

  • Killing enemies
  • Collecting items
  • Collect items from slain enemies
  • Finding another NPC / Deliver item(s) to NPC
  • Escort a NPC

There are a few other types of quests but these are the ones you will see the most. This guide will focus on how to read quests so you will be prepared for any type of quest thrown your way.

Accepting and tracking a quest

Returning to the character we used in the last guide, we log in and see a NPC with an exclamation mark above his head in the distance. The location of this quest giver is also shown on the minimap. This gold exclamation mark means that he has a new quest for us.

Exclamation point shown above quest giver's head and on map

To accept the quest, we need to approach the NPC and left-click on him. If you are too far away, you will hear your character tell you that you are too far away and a red warning that says “You need to be closer to interact with that target” will pop up on the screen.

Upon clicking on the NPC, Marshal McBride in this case, a window will pop up on your screen. This window will provide you with the quest title, backstory, objectives and reward.

The quest log and minimap

After accepting, the quest will also appear in your tracked quests list below your minimap on the right side. You can hold shift and click on a quest to remove it from the list. To add quests to the list, you can open the quest log (‘L’) and Shift + Click the one you want to track.

A shaded area is also added to your minimap after accepting a quest. This light blue shaded area gives you a rough guide as to where you might find the enemies you need to slay, items to collect, or a person to talk to.

Quest acceptance screen and quest log in World of Warcraft

After speaking to Marshal McBride, he gives us a quest called “Beating Them Back” and asks us to kill 6 Blackrock Worgs. To the right of the quest accepting box, we are also shown an image of what the Blackrock Worgs look like. We now know we need to kill 6 of these wolves and know where to find them with help from the minimap shaded area. As a side note, the shaded area will also be displayed if you press ‘M’ on your keyboard for the full map popup.

Our first quest: Introduction to combat

Alright, it is time to dive in to our first quest. Unfortunately it is going to be pretty hard to kill 6 wolves if we don’t understand the basics of combat.

To start out we head to the west because our map indicates that is where we will find the wolves we are looking for. Sure enough, as we head to the shaded area there are wolves as far as the eyes can see.

Each wolf has a yellow health bar over its head. The bar is yellow in this case because the wolf is neutral to your character. Yellow bar enemies can be walked by without worrying about being attacked.

As you progress further you will see enemies with red health bars who will attack you if you get close. When a red health bar enemy chooses to attack you it is called “aggro”.

Basics of combat and abilities

Enough about health bars, it is time to take down some wolves. As a hunter, we can attack from a distance by right-clicking on the wolf once. Once you have started combat (picked up aggro) your character will repeatedly attack without having to click again (called auto-attacking).

This isn’t very fast though. If we want to take down the monster before does too much damage to us we need to use abilities. In this case, our hunter has one spell called Cobra Shot which is bound to the ‘1’ key on the top of the keyboard.

If you don’t know what a spell does, you can hover over it to pop up a box with a description. This box will tell you the name of the spell, how much resource it costs (45 focus for Cobra Shot), the range (40 yds), how long it takes to cast, what it does and interactions it has with other abilities. After you use an ability a gray overlay may appear over your spell and rotate clockwise. If it does, the spell is on cooldown and cannot be used for a set period of time.

Player hovering over spell name to see description of ability

As you raise your level, the way you use these abilities matters a lot. In fact, there is an optimum order in which you should cast your spells — called a rotation. If you want to read more about rotations, check out our Rotation Guide for Beginners. However, at lower levels, it is only important to understand what spells do and use them as much as possible.

Looting and Turning In a Quest

Alright, we have right-clicked and button mashed the ‘1’ key to defeat a wolf. Defeated enemies can be clicked on to “loot” them and receive items. You will know you can loot a defeated enemy if there is a faint sparkle around their body. As a tip to speed things up, you can also Shift + Right-click to automatically take everything from a defeated enemy. Enemies can drop everything from garbage items to gear for your character.

With the 6 wolves defeated it is time to turn your quest in. Now, the quest log shows a gold question mark, and the shaded area on the map is gone. Additionally, there is a gold question mark on the minimap. Just as simple as it was to pick up a quest, we are going to make our way back to the gold question mark, Marshal McBride, and click him again to turn in the quest.

A player returning to turn in a quest

Back at Marshal McBride, we click on him and another window pops up. In the window is the title of the quest, some dialogue and the reward you earned. Some quests allow you to select your reward when completing the quest. For this quest, however, we only have the option of receiving the Chaser’s Belt. We’ll take it and accept another quest to kill 8 Blackrock Spies.

Great, we have now finished a quest and obtained a new piece of gear called the Chaser’s Belt. With a better understanding of questing, combat, and movement in WoW, you are ready to learn more about gear. You can check it out here: Part 5: Introduction to Gear.

If you are looking for another one of the guides in the series, you can navigate to it below:

  1. Introduction to Guide For New WoW Players
  2. Creating Your Character
  3. The WoW User Interface
  4. You are here
  5. Introduction to Gear in WoW
  6. Items in World of Warcraft
  7. Professions in World of Warcraft
  8. Dungeons and Raids in World of Warcraft
  9. Player vs. Player (PvP) in World of Warcraft
  10. World of Warcraft (WoW) AddOns for Beginners

Thanks for reading!

Filed Under: new-player-guideTagged With: beginner, guide


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World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth Cinematic Trailer

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