Best WoW Hardcopy Reference Material

A few people have recently asked me what the best “hardcopy” guide to World of WarCraft is – I’ve generally referred them to online sources instead, as being more up to date, and free, and tons of sources to choose from, but for those who actually want a paper guide, I’ve referred them to the (think) Brady Guide and to the WoW Atlas that Blizzard put out last year – I’m thinking the latter may be more practical these days, but wanted to get some advice from the WoW regulars:

  • which is better, the WoW atlas or the original strategy guide?
  • is there enough different material to make it worthwhile to get both?
  • how out of date is the original strategy guide now - often MMO guides are actually misleading and a BAD source because the game’s changed so much (I feel sorry for anyone picking up a Star Wars Galaxies guide that’s been on the shelves since release).

Help me, help others!

From what I’ve heard, the official WoW strategy guide is terrible as a strategy guide, but actually pretty interesting as a lore / “the making of” guide. Apparently the guide was written during late beta, and is now completely out of date. And for some things, like the Paladin class, it was never “in date” at all.

This is pretty good, but very out of date - still talks about some things that weren’t in the game at release (a death penalty for being rezzed by a priest is one that springs to mind) but the maps and quest guides are still good. About half the classes have had major skill revamps, so that’s all out of date too. Also there’s
nothing on raiding or instances.

That being said, it’s still useful. Full lists of weapons and armour, pvp tips, quest lists, maps of all areas, class strategies, noob guides, just a shitload of content.

Worth picking up cheap. There’s some kind of update plan if you pay extra, but it’s easier just to look on the web.

Is a “full list of weapons and armor” really useful if it’s not actually full? There has been a boatload of content added to WoW since the beta; bad stategies can sometimes be worse than no strategies at all. I guess I’m a bit confused as to Desslock’s goal here: Are you recommending guides so friends can learn about the game without needing to bug you with lots of questions, or do you have friends who already play the game who want to get more from their play time?

If the guide is intended to maximize player efficiency, I wouldn’t get a paper guide at all. Nothing is more frustrating than to waste time grinding for a drop you want, only to later find out that there is a simple quest you could have done to get an even better drop.

I get e-mails on this stuff all the time at my PC Gamer account - I always recommend the online stuff, but one guy was particularly persistent about hardcopy guides, and asked about these two in particular.

Even if there’s still some good stuff, I really don’t want to recommend something as out of date as it sounds like the Brady strategy guide is – I think he mainly wants hardcopy maps, so maybe the official Atlas that came out last year is a good choice? Anyone give an opinion on that one?

The Atlas is pretty good, not completely up to date of course, but I still refer to it to find things like Trade Good suppliers and where resources are.


I bought the Brady WoW guide. It was a foolish, worthless purchase. Nobody should buy it, ever.

Well, yeah. It’s accurate enough - for detailed info you go to thottbot, obviously. But it’s worthwhile to browse, and is particularly good for newbie tips.

I dunno about any ‘maximising player efficiency’, the guide is fun to read. We’re not committing rocket science after all. Lives will not be lost if the 1.9 enrage nerf is improperly reflected.

I like the atlas. Got it for my wife for Xmas and we both use it regularly. It’s especially great for when the quest guy is also the gryphon master and doesn’t have a ! over his head! Very good production values and the content is complete up through level 60 as far as we can see.


To be fair to the Brady guide’s authors, it’s impossible to write an accurate hard-copy guide to an MMO. They’re too much of a moving target.

I recently had a general guide to MMOs published. I tried to be as non-specific as possible, knowing that literally anything involving specific rules systems that I would touch on could change. Little did I know…

A month after the manuscript’s final review copy went to the printer, Star Wars Galaxies announced the NGE. I had, among other things, a three page description of a class (SWG’s Doctor - I chose that as an example of a healing archetype) that wouldn’t exist when the book reached store shelves. Whoops.

I think a regularly updated strategy guide would have to be a subscription based item. I can’t make a determination as to whether WoW magazine would be profitable or the seventh sign of the apocalypse, so take that for what it’s worth.

Having something to flip through on long car rides and not having to alt+tab some of the more memory intensive games would be nice, but updates are such an issue you’d have to go periodical, and then, how do you fill those things up?

I think the best solution is for a games magazine to publish a section of MMO strategy guide updates as a feature, maybe let readers tear out a section and slap it into a binder, but that’s something that could go easily awry.

speaking of keeping up to date, how out of date is the manual that originally shipped with the game, now? Is there an up to date one downloadable from Blizzard, or do you just have websurf the html stuff at the site?

I use a laptop on the desk next to my PC screen - very handy to just look across to the map or whatever. I guess a dual monitor setup would work as well, but you would need enough grunt to drive 2 monitors in the same PC