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New To Warcraft: What race should I play?

05.12.18 | Cepheid 4539

Introduction

Since the first whispers of Blizzard's renewed interest in maintaining Warcraft 3 around a year ago, there's been a steady stream of new players trickling in, followed by a burst when Warcraft 3 classic became available again. As someone who has picked up matured games as well, I'm all too aware how much of a scary prospect picking your way through such a complex and established game can be.

Below I have compiled a comprehensive guide on the key things that define each race, to help new and long-lost returning players alike, in weighing up the pros and cons of where to place their allegiance.

 

For regular experienced players, as I certainly will not be able to cover every last aspect of the game, I encourage you veterans to leave any comments that might help new players choose their race effectively.

By far the most common question for a new player, that I see in the community, is this one:

"Which race should I play?"

The answer will be personal to you, but it can be helped by some informed discussion of what the modern races are like in 1.30.

After reading this guide, I highly recommend also reading the How To Basic: ... series by RehcraM. It goes over all the heroes and units' strengths and weaknesses in further detail, as well as covering common strategies used in the various matchups.

So, let's explore some of the identities of each race, and hopefully one of them will stand out for you. I've also included a starting-strategy for each race, that will help you get a good feel for what they are about. And then, if your mind hasn't been made up, we have testimonials from some community members to try sway you over to their side. If by the end you still aren't sure, there's always Random!

 

 Human

As is tradition in a fantasy setting, Human's are usually shown as having strong organization and high numbers. In Warcraft 3 this means they have low population units, often with lower health, but are cheaper and quicker to build. This is not necessarily a disadvantage.

With their strong base defenses and the unique militia mechanic, they are the race that most commonly expands at Tier 1. They also require a new player to do a little more homework on the theory than average regarding creep patterns, base layouts and timing attacks.

The sturdy Human's put up a good fight, often going for an early hero level or economic advantage that can be later converted into a big late game army. Slow and steady wins the race.

Currently in patch 1.30, Humans are in a strange position, and are expecting quite a few changes in the near future. However, the solid base of strong early creeping, many tech options and good casters are unlikely to change.

Identity

  • Strong base defenses and safe in the early game.
  • Lots of tech options.
  • Good at fast expanding.
  • Archmage for a strong supporting role.
  • Fun Tri-hero options.
  • Effective caster units.

Getting started

  • Take the Archmage first and learn some creep patterns for each map from top players, this will give you a solid start to work from.
  • Learn how to fast expand and use militia well, ideally on several maps, it's great to have in your toolbox.
  • Experiment with all of the units and tech options, they all have their place.
  • Human has the most complicated base layouts for new players, watch some guides on how to make your base.
  • Don't forget to make farms!

Why are they different?

  • Human's upgrades are split between Units (in the Blacksmith) and the rest (in the Lumber Mill), the other races use their Unit upgrade building to unlock the building of towers, unlike human who use the Lumber Mill.
  • Buildings can be constructed by multiple workers, quickening the building speed in return for an additional resource cost. Great for expanding!
  • Their base defense can also attack - Militia can come with you to battle, creep or to defend outside your base. When they revert to Peasants, they can build towers, expansions, or a shop for example. Whatever you need m'lord.
  • All for one, one for all! - Human units, and heroes for that matter, tend not to be very effective alone. They need critical mass and good composition. This can be a subtle art, and losing a game because you built one priest too many when you should have built an extra spellbreaker can be hard to spot.
  • Positioning is key. More so than probably any other race, taking a fight in a bad spot is devastating for Human. With casters, mortar teams, fragile ranged heroes and a weak frontline, they need choke points or good support from their defenses, such as Militia or towers.
  • The strongest towering force in the game. Human naturally have the most powerful Tier 1 tower rush, but with Ivory towers and their strong early Tier 2, they are also very effective at Tier 2 tower timing attacks. This was the typical strategy used against Orc for many years, made famous by the Chinese player  Sky.

Players to learn from:

Streamer Special mention:

Testimonials:

Survive until you thrive. I've always rooted for the underdog, the unlikely hero, and playing Human lets me choose the runt that gets picked on... right up until the moment I overwhelm you with my army of runts. And the runt king? The Archmage, who is almost comically easy to kill, is so feared that entire game plans revolve around not letting him hit lvl 3. You'll be harassed, and forced to work harder than any other race; but if you can make it through the crucible, your force won't be stopped.

- Floss2xDaily


Though I dabble with all the races, the one I keep falling back to is Human. Throughout my years of playing various games I’ve always preferred a passive play style. Setting up early Human expansions will weaken your early/mid game substantially, but if you play your cards right you’ll be able to slowly tech your way to a devastating army!

-  RehcraM


 Orc

The race of extremes. Highest DPS hero, highest average unit hit points, strong burst damage, strong sustaining, great spell utility, excellent late game heroes. They are also the race with the weakest ranged units, vulnerable buildings, glass cannon air units and the only race to not have a magic immune unit.

This melee-focused race are deceptively complex, where the most minor of micro decisions seem to have a large impact. Losing a single unit to a mistake can cost them dearly, whereas a clutch critical strike, the correct item luck or the perfect hex might secure the game.

Despite some significant changes to the Orc tech tree and some tweaking of the heroes in the 2018 round of patches, Orc has not changed too much, with some of their strengths slightly nerfed, and some of their weaknesses shored up slightly.

Identity

  • Good options for early game aggression.
  • Very valuable racial shop that is useful from Tier 1 to Tier 3.
  • Hard to kill units that force opponents to really consider armor types.
  • Strong reliance on Heroes for damage.
  • Power spike at Tier 2.
  • SPEED SCROLL - ZOOOOOOOM.

Getting Started

  • Take the Blademaster or the Farseer first, and pick the Tauren Chieftain or the Shadow Hunter second. All four combinations can work. Creep or harass with your first hero, and try to get your second hero to a high level by creeping with your army.
  • Tech quickly, it's 190 to upgrade to Stronghold, and all your strong units are at Tier 2, so you want to get to that as soon as possible.
  • Use the Voodoo Lounge, it's an incredible resource and never leave home without a speed scroll, it's only 50!
  • Try to get to 50 as soon as you can.
  • Learn which creep camps drop which items, the Blademaster greatly benefits from Level 2 Permanent items, and the Tauren Chieftain and Shadow Hunter also make good use of others.

Why are they different?

  • They do not have any late game units. Even with the recent patch changes, the Tauren is just too expensive in Lumber and Food to see much play. They are also easily manageable with high magic damage or spells such as Slow, Curse, Faerie fire, etc. Tier 3 is still good for Orc, but not due to units as such.
  • Late game Orc is very different to the other races. If the game has not resolved after the first battle after both players have hit Tier 3 (which is probably more the case with Orc than other races) they have a lot of options that other races don't. Their strong late game heroes pair well with the shop in low-eco games. They also can use their Tiny Great Hall to make a Human's expansion speed look poor.
  • No magic immunity and limited options for countering late game air units (which often do magic damage type). These are two big weaknesses that Orc have to account for in their game plan. While Spirit Walkers are magic resistant, and Headhunters have recently gotten a buff that makes them more effective as Anti-air. It's still likely Orcs will lose if their opponent can effectively put a lot of spells or magic damage onto their army.
  • Vulnerable buildings - Orc are the only race whose supply buildings don't have Fortified armor. Orc burrows are vulnerable, and it's a common strategy for other races to attack and destroy burrows to slow an Orc down. In addition they have a very predictable Tier 2 timing when they will start to build their Tier 2 buildings, which other races can use to cancel them.

Players to learn from:

Streamer Special Mention:

Testimonials:

I play orc because I actually strategize and use my brain instead of simply rightclicking with 20 apm

- Ena1337


I really enjoy the high highs and the low lows of playing Orc. Sometimes you pull off the coordinated 65 food push perfectly, and sometimes your hero dies when you fumble an item and you instantly lose. That thrill keeps me coming back. Also I like to go fast like sonic.

-  Cepheid (That's right, I play Orc!)


 Night Elf

Recent patches have changed a lot about the Night Elf race, probably more than any other, and their main path to victory are still either a strong early game army to control the map, or a quick Tech to Tier 3 for high DPS units.

A good altar selection with all four heroes being viable first heroes, they also often look to the tavern for their first or second hero, more so than any other race. This is primarily due to how well their Moon Wells (affectionately called "moon juice") can compliment the usually mana-starved tavern heroes.

With a wealth of viable options all the way up the tech tree they have a lot of fun options to play with, such as Ancient creeping, Staff of Preservation, Ultravision, Hippogryph Riders and many more.

At the time of writing, a patch has just been released to somewhat reverse a few of the more severe changes to Night Elf, but it is unclear if these will greatly impact the current meta-game as yet. So far, the back half of 2018 has been all about the Keeper of the Grove with a lot of Tier 1 units, and I don't see this changing soon. 

Identity

  • Fast moving but fragile units.
  • Lots of utility and tools.
  • Ancients allow flexible bases that can contribute in battle.
  • Moonwells vastly reduce downtime and give a huge defensive advantage.
  • Extremely strong anti-magic, especially against summons.
  • Huge number of viable unit compositions and strategies.

Getting started

  • Take the Keeper of the Grove first and try to disrupt your opponents creeping and economy with entangle.
  • Get two Ancient of Wars and start with some Huntresses.
  • Get some map control and try to take a few contested creep camps once you have a good number of units.
  • Tech or expand when you have the larger army (one then the other, not both at the same time!).
  • Pressure your opponent and pick off units with your more mobile army.
  • At Tier 2 pick up an Alchemist and put down Ancients of Lore for Dryads and Mountain Giants.
  • Continue to starve your opponent of expansions and creep camps.

Why are they different?

  • Wisps - at 60 with 120 hit points, and consumed when making an ancient, at first glance they seem like a liability, but what is valuable is their utility. Their ability to harvest wood across the map and their higher movespeed makes them perfect scouts, and detonate is invaluable against magic-users: killing summons, draining mana and dispelling all in one! Be sure to learn the spots on maps where they can't be attacked by melee units, and don't forget to replace them when you make your Ancients.
  • Moonwells allow for a lot of greedier strategies that other races could get away with, enabling a fast teching playstyle without being too vulnerable to rushes. They are especially good with heroes that typically aren't great when they have used all their mana, such as Tinker, Firelord or Keeper of the Grove.
  • Ancients allow for a lot of flexibility, building expansions before you have cleared the creep camp, uprooting to create doors into your base and creeping with Ancients of War - just to name a few. The utility of being able to move and attack with your buildings cannot be underestimated!
  • Buckets of utility, including the aforementioned Ultravision, Staff of Preservation, Wisps, living buildings and Moon Juice. If you are struggling with something, you can just reach into your Night Elf toolbox and root around, usually coming up with a solution.
  • Peerless mass tier 1. It's always been true that the Huntress is a great unit against other Tier 1 melee and the archer is the most cost efficient ranged DPS unit, but with the 2018 patches they have become better than ever, especially their ace in the hole of the Glaive Thrower (The only Tier 1 siege unit) which received a controversial damage buff.

Testimonials:

Hello this is rook and I play Night Elves. We are very versatile and user-friendly with ancients, moonwells, tier-2 staff, and ultravision. I love the demon hunter even though he is weaker in this patch. The race is very strong and there are tons of viable strats to cook up with this race.

- Rook


Why i love playing Night Elf? Because i can creep, harass, expo, tech, make lunch, check new out the new episode of Vikings and talk with my grandma from Sweden at the same time. If you have terrible surround skills like me, worry not! There won't be none of that nonsense here, as long as you got mana on your Keeper your life will be all good. An occasional Orc lamer will make you gauge your eye sockets, but every journey has its obstacles. Since i rerolled from Human to Night Elf i cured my clinical depression, never been better.

BoltTheKodo aka FpXy

Players to learn from:

Streamer Special Mention:


 Undead 

Once you've played a few Undead games, it becomes clear that the race encourages a certain playstyle - that of high damage, hit-and-run tactics and relying on the strength of your heroes.

The nuking power of the Death Knight and Lich, the focus fire potential with the Orb of Corruption, the best late game Tier 1 unit with the Crypt Fiend, sustaining power from Obsidian Status and Destroyers as a cherry on top of the cake, it's clear to see why it's such a popular way to play the race.

Some criticize the race as stale due to having had the same singular optimal strategy for many years, whereas another players enjoy the endless tiny optimizations they can make to improve their game. Certainly a few powerhouse top players, especially  Happy and  120, have shown Undeads a new way to improve their game in recent years.

Easy to learn, and hard, but satisfying to master, Undead's weaknesses have been given some significant buffs in the recent patches, such as improvements to the little-used Necromancer and Dreadlord, and the somewhat vulnerable Acolytes (they run like Bolt now!). A few more avenues of play have opened up in recent months, with expansions becoming more viable and Temple of the Damned seeing more use, yet their old strengths of strong damage output and heroes have not disappeared. The future is bright for the race that historically has been the underdog at the top competitive level, now if only they could have gotten into the WGL Playoffs.

Identity

  • Impenetrable base, slowing towers and a big advantage on blight.
  • Fast moving armies which deal burst focus fire damage.
  • Fearsome heroes that can dish out a lot of damage.
  • Strong Tier 3 air.
  • Effective anti-magic, although at Tier 3.
  • Most vulnerable workers (Acolytes) and harder expansions.

Getting started

  • Learn two build orders from various guides online and try them out:
    • Fast hero / fast fiends / slow tech
    • Fast fiends / slow hero / fast tech
  • Start with the Death Knight, with the aim to get to Level 3 as quickly and safely as possible, making good use of the Rod of Necromancy to creep effectively and scout.
  • Tech quickly while making as many fiends as your wood income allows. Keep buying the Rod of Necromancy to continue creeping and scouting.
  • Get a Lich and Slaughterhouse at Tier 2, tech to Tier 3 when your wood allows (possibly halting fiends to do so), and get Obsidian statues. Don't forget to buy your Rod of Necromancy(again!).
  • At Tier 3, get an Orb of Corruption for your Lich, research the Destroyer upgrade and consider a third hero. Dark Ranger for silence is a popular option. Get another Rod of Necromancy, maybe one on each hero.
  • Get the perfect 50 food army and then get some upgrades, and high hero levels. You might have Fiends, two Statues, an Abomination (with disease cloud) and a Destroyer or two. Plus, say it with me, Rods of Necromancy. 
  • Did I mention the Rod of Necromancy? It's really good!

Why are they different?

  • Because the Undead use their Ghouls for wood and their buildings construct themselves, they only need five Acolytes per gold mine. This gives them the rare benefit of having some "free" supply units with the ghouls to help creep early game, defend the base or join a push. The downside of this is that they can't simply swap workers from wood to gold if they are harassed or want to expand. This adds to the vulnerability that is their Acolytes.
  • The Crypt Fiend - This unit is exceptionally efficient, beating out many costly Tier 2 units food-for-food in large battles. It has high hit points, pairs well with Death Coil, does high damage (pairing well with Orb) and has two great utility abilities. The workhorse of the Undead army.
  • Great damage output from heroes. Death Coil and Frost Nova are a beautiful combination, they define the Undead race. Their ability to bring a hero down in the blink of an eye brings joy and rage in equal measure.
  • A well prescribed gameplan - Whether you are starting out with Undead or a grizzled veteran, your gameplan probably hasn't changed very much. It's still the goal to get a strong Death Knight and Lich, with a well rounded 50 army consisting of Statues, Fiends, and Destroyers/Abominations as required. There is a lot of nuance to learn, but large variations are rare.
  • Fun and interesting utility. Undead really have some cool options and utility, even if some of them rarely see play in 1v1. Shades are the best scouts in the game, the mighty Frost Wyrm have overwhelming power, the unique Gargoyle, the Sacrificial Skull to help tower rushes and expanding, the famous Necrowagon option, and the rarely used, often discussed Banshee possession.

Players to learn from:

Streamer Special Mention:

Testimonials:

Do you love making your opponent smash his keyboard because their hero died in less than a second? Coil-Nova all day long baby.

- Skutt


All you need is a DK, Lich, and an Orb to win, according to players from every other race. #udmasterrace. For all those coming from SC2, UD is a bit like Protoss. No matter what you do you only won because of your race :D. at least that was true till this last patch, I dunno oO.

-  Barren

Comments

Comments

Forgot random.
I really could have saved myself a lot of typing by just recommending random!
HUMAN:

>Good at fast expanding.

If human are good at FE you think, then where is elf "great at fast expanding and teching and pressuring and creeping at the same time"?

Srsly human cant even fast expand vs every race in 1.29 and in 1.30 rarely can vs anybody but in human mirror, but NE can vs every race.

ELF:

>Fast moving but fragile units.

And what units are fragile lol? Only wisps. Archers hp buffed.
I believe the article is supposed to span more than a single patch, but to your points about current balance and meta - did you see Moon last night? XD I specifically enjoyed how Terenas Stand showed the strength of his forces haha.
NE
>Human has the most complicated base layouts for new players, watch some guides on how to make your base.

This is strange too. I feel UD is most complicated and hum have easiest.
Are you well?
Nice article. "Do you love making your opponent smash his keyboard because their hero died in less than a second? Coil-Nova all day long baby." Maybe I should switch to UD LOL
UND
Whichever one you enjoy the most, clearly.

Remember: whatever race you end up picking, it will always turn out to be the weakest, and the hardest and most frustrating to play, while all of the other races are imba!

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