Now the term "newb" is usually used as an insult, but hey, let's face it: we are all newbs at one time or another. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being new at something. There is something wrong with acting like that doesn't matter, or like your newbness doesn't mean you may not know what you're doing. Because if you're a newb, it matters a lot, and it does mean you have a lot of learning to do! Fortunately, Newbness (like everything else) is temporary, and the simple act of playing the game like you're awake will season you pretty quickly. There are some things you can do to help yourself along, though.
- Listen more than you talk. Former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson told about advice he received from his father before going into politics: "Tommy, you've got two ears and one mouth. Use them in that proportion." Now, that is some great advice, and it applies to playing in WoW just as much as being a Governor. When you're playing the game, particularly interacting with other players, pay attention to how others are accomplishing things. You can't see everything that they're doing, but sometimes it's as simple as watching someone approach a quest objective from one side instead of straight on that will give you a key to easier success.
- Learn the language. Maybe you won't be a raider extraordinaire, but that doesn't mean you won't be in the LFR someday. Knowing that DPS does not mean "death per second" is important. There are a lot of terms to know, and I'll cover them in a future post. For now, understand that if you don't know for certain what something means, you probably don't want to use the term yourself. Learn first, use after.
- Understand aggro. "Aggro" is a term that means some hostile thing in the game decides to attack you, usually in response to something you did -- like, say, breathing its air. An old saying among conjurers is "Never summon up anything you can't dismiss." The surefire method of getting yourself (and others if you're in a group) killed is to aggro something you didn't intend to, and can't make go away. Assume anything with a red name is hostile and will aggro. While that's not 100% true, it is the safest bet. As a general rule of thumb, anything that can aggro will do so if you get too close. How close is too close? Well it depends on your toon's level, and the level of the mob. As the difference between those two levels increases, the distance at which a mob will aggro will increase (if its level is higher than yours) or decrease (if your level is higher). There comes a point when you so out-level a mob that you have to practically step on it to get it to aggro. The converse is also true; stepping as a low-level toon into a high-level zone can cause mobs to come running from an amazing distance away, and that generally doesn't end well for you.
- Learn the general traits and abilities of your class. Nothing screams NEWB quite like a rogue in caster robe. (Yes, I saw one recently.) While it's true that you don't gain benefits from sticking exclusively to your classes "correct" armor type until you get above level 40, it's still in your best interests to use gear the designers intended for your class. Now, sometimes, you can't help it. An upgrade to your level 22 warrior's existing gear happens to fall into your lap, but it's a leather belt instead of mail. You can use that without problems. But if you replace your mail chest with a cloth robe, it's not going to matter that the robe had +6 Stam on it. You're still going to present an image that says "I don't know what I'm doing". Likewise with your abilities. Although your mage can use a staff to beat on a mob, the old "melee mage" is another stock character in the Parade of the Clueless.
These things will get you moving in the right direction. There's nothing wrong with being casual! But you don't want to make life harder than it needs to be.