New / Returning Players Guide to Warcraft III

Welcome (back) to Warcraft III! Despite Blizzard taking away some key features from the real-time strategy game we all grew to love over the past 15-20 years, the community is still keeping the game afloat and strong. The following sections in this new / returning players guide for Warcraft III will point you towards resources and communities that will help you get into the game no matter what skill level you are at.

1. Let’s talk about Reforged

Do I need to buy Reforged to play Warcraft III?

  • You DON’T need Reforged to play Warcraft III
  • A Reign of Chaos key is enough

As you may have heard, Reforged was a disaster. One of the more frequently asked questions is: do I need to buy Reforged to play Warcraft III? The answer is no.

If you had your classic Warcraft III keys (Reign of Chaos and The Frozen Throne) assigned to a Battle.net account (required sometime around 2010 and after). If you have them assigned to your account, you will still have to download the Reforged client to play the game. If you do not have Reforged purchased on your account, you will still be able play but just without having access to load Reforged graphics. 

However, if you did not originally purchase classic Warcraft III, you will need to purchase Reforged to play Warcraft III. Good to know that even if you have Reforged, you can still choose play on with the classic graphics. It’s what most people do and is essentially the same game we all know and love.

2. Introduction to Warcraft III

The best way to learn the basics of the game

  • Play the campaign
  • Choose a faction

If you are a new player to the game, the best way to learn is by playing through the campaign. The campaign (besides having a great story) is split into different parts by the different races. It introduces you to the game’s mechanics, the units, the heroes, the items, the creep/leveling system, the tech trees, hotkeys, and so much more that is basic knowledge to get into the game. 

Playing through the campaign will most likely influence what race you like the most and what race you’ll want to compete with, whether it’s what you think looks coolest or what units or heroes feel most fun to play with.

I highly recommend checking out the Re-Reforged campaign made by a community member (InsaneMonster at Hive Workshop), which you can read more about below.

3. Ranked ladder

How to play against others at your skill level

Play on W3Champions!

So you’ve got the hang of the game and you’ve tried your skills versus a computer. You feel ready to play against real people, but where’s the best place to do that online?

Whilst playing custom maps on battle.net is great, melee Warcraft unfortunately sucks. It takes forever to find a game, and when you do, it’s not matched on skill level because there is no ranked ladder. If you’re a returning player, you’re also probably wondering where your profile, your wins, losses, and icons are…

Unfortunately, Blizzard has not given us any of these features for Reforged (yet?). Fortunately for us, W3Champions exists.

W3Champions is the ladder made by and for the community. It adds many new and old features to the game, such as:

  • Ranked ladder from newbie to grand master
  • Sophisticated matchmaking system
  • Fair skill matchups after five placement matches
  • Improved pings via host bots for interregional play
  • Detailed statistics
  • Updated map pools
  • Graphical interface for custom hotkeys
  • New interface in the old style
  • + more!


You can download W3Champions here, which is really simple to download and start and playing:

  • Download & run the installer
  • Make sure Battle.net App is open
  • Launch W3Champions.exe

A few common issues can get solved by ensuring the correct path was used, having your firewall allow W3Champions applications, or simply restarting your computer/the W3Champions applications. If you are having any issues, I recommend you join their Discord and ask any questions there or check their YouTube that has a few tutorials on how to fix common issues.

W3Champions has profiles that keep track of your lifetime stats, league placements based on your skill level and activity, history of matches, and more!

4. Build orders and guides

Improve your skills with strategy guides & build orders

Learn a build order from our LEARNING CENTER!

Maybe you’re brand new to the game, or maybe you’ve returned and you have no idea what strategies are good nowadays and you need some build orders and other helpful guides to help you out.

A good starting point would be our very own Learning Center. From here, you can navigate to your race and learn different builds, as well as learning general game knowledge such as creep routes by map and race and game mechanics. 

Additionally, many resources have been made over the years to help players learn build orders and strategies. We’ve compiled some helpful – sometimes deemed necessary – resources below for you:

Night Elf: 

Ark’s Learning Night Elf series is a must for new and even skilled Night Elf players. He breaks down builds, Ancient of War creeping, matchup strengths and weaknesses, wisp locations, and more. There are two chapters + episodes for AoW creeping specifically. 

Grubby’s Night Elf Bloody Beginner Build: Grubby’s build that is suitable for anyone who is relatively new to Warcraft 3 and would like to play Night Elf as their main race. It may not be the optimal build order against all matchups, but it can work against every race and strategy to an extent. He provides a step by step build order and walk through of how a game is like using this strategy.

TheoryCraft: Foggy’s Journey to Defeat Happy: CarsoNNN of Back2Warcraft breaks down Foggy’s style as a Night Elf player that helped him win versus Happy (Undead player) in a Best of 5 series after over a year of facing him in ESL cups. This strategy involves Keeper of the Grove and an early expansion.

TheoryCraft: Three Reasons to Play PotM (In Mirror): CarsoNNN of Back2Warcraft breaks down the Night Elf mirror matchup by advocating for Priestess of the Moon as a first hero choice. He uses replay examples of top players to show the pros of this strategy.

Fast Bear Build: The Gym guide to getting out Master Druids of the Claws and hitting a strong 50 food timing.

Orc:

Grubby’s Orc Bloody Beginner Build is Grubby’s build that is suitable for anyone who is relatively new to Warcraft 3 and would like to play Orc as their main race. It may not be the optimal build order against all matchups, but it can work against every race and strategy to an extent. He provides a step by step build order and walk through of how a game is like using this strategy.

TheoryCraft: Lyn’s Approach to Farseer Headhunters: CarsoNNN of Back2Warcraft reviews Lyn’s style of Farseer Headhuners with accompanying replays and analysis. 

Grubby’s Lets Get Down To Basics – Orc: A replay review of one of Grubby’s followers where he gives his perspective on Orc vs Undead, as well as points out mistakes and helpful tips.

Grubby’s Orc Base Layout Tutorial – A breakdown of how to build your base as an orc to protect your base from harasses and different strategies.

Standard Farseer Headhunter Build: A build that can be used in most matchups and is beginner friendly.

Undead: 

Grubby’s Undead Bloody Beginner Build is Grubby’s build that is suitable for anyone who is relatively new to Warcraft 3 and would like to play Night Elf as their main race. It may not be the optimal build order against all matchups, but it can work against every race and strategy to an extent. He provides a step by step build order and walk through of how a game is like using this strategy.

How to Undead: Standard Fast DK Build Order: Kaiser (an Undead coach in Gym Newbie League) breaks down a common strategy from Undead that has the player going fast Death Knight over prioritizing quicker crypt fiends.

Happy’s Undead vs Human Build: ToD breaks down Happy’s build order and strategy versus Human on Last Refuge.

TheoryCraft Three Flavors of Cryptlord vs Human: CarsoNNN of Back2Warcraft breaks down three different strategies of going Cryptlord first versus Human.

Fighting Paladin Rifle as UD – A No Hands Guide by Kaiser: Learn how to counter pala rifle as an Undead player.

Human: 

Human Pala Rifle vs Undead (ThorzaiN’s build): ToD does a tutorial on the build order of ThorzaiN’s pala rifle build, as well as full game strategy including Blood Mage timing and creeping and late game approach.

How to creep big camps with Human on all maps (from Oct 2020): ToD does a tutorial reviewing how to do big creeps with Human, covering how to position your army, do creep pulls, and use militia.

Grubby’s Human Bloody Beginner Build: Grubby’s build that is suitable for anyone who is relatively new to Warcraft 3 and would like to play Human as their main race. It may not be the optimal build order against all matchups, but it can work against every race and strategy to an extent. He provides a step by step build order and walk through of how a game is like using this strategy – in this case, an Archmage Mountain King Rifleman Caster build.

TheoryCraft Ep 29: Noah’s Ark Push Versus Night Elf: CarsoNNN of Back2Warcraft breaks down three different replays of the “Noah’s Ark Push” – a strategy that plans for a 60-70 food push by Human on 2 bases versus Night Elf.

5. Community-made Warcraft III Tools

LadyRisa Replay Tool – This is a convenient local application for analyzing game replays created by LadyRisa

Flo TV – An application that allows you to observe any live W3Champions game (with a 3 minute delay) created by fluxxu.

Custom Hotkeys Editor – Easy to use GUI that makes a hotkey customkeys.txt file for you. (Or edit your customkeys.txt manually, it’s fun and someone in here will help you) Many will tell you to some type of QWER Grid layout. Cause who wants to reach allllll the way over to N to nova some derpy peasants. Read here for help saving your new hotkeys. Additionally, middle section of this link teaches you how to use autohotkey and provides scripts for rebinding inventory among other cool options.

Warcraft3.info – A hub for replays, news, the home of Warcraft 3 Info League (the biggest team league in the scene at the moment). Also the home of a neat tool called Orc Brain, a tool that analyzes replays for hotkeys and control groups to determine the players in the replays based on their replay database.

Seanmcnabb’s Stats Overlay – A stats tool made by Gym’s Seanmcnabb to be used by casters. The tool showcases W3Champions stats (of any season) with nice presentation. This displays MMR, matchup statistics, and upcoming map.

Re-Reforged Campaign by Hive Workshop – InsaneMonster of The Hive Workshop (that runs a map contest that has given us maps like Tidehunters, Autumn Leaves, and more) has given us the campaign we deserve with the “Re-Reforged Campaign.” It has remastered in-game cinematics, with angles, interface and style closely matching the ones shown at Blizzcon 2018. Reimagined maps and missions, detailed and expanded lore, and more!

6. Competitive scene and the community

Competitive Scene

There’s usually something every day or at least every other day in the Warcraft III scene and below are the best ways to keep up with the best players in the competitive scene.

Warcraft3.info – Mentioned above as a hub for replays, news, and more, Warcraft3.info also has a calendar that is consistently updated with upcoming and ongoing events.

Liquipedia – Warcraft 3 – Everything you need to know about the competitive scene. Past, ongoing, and upcoming tournaments. Information on players, casters, and prominent members of the community.

Back2Warcraft – The #1 spot to watch high-level live Warcraft III. They run a Twitch channel that casts the majority of major events, as well as community events. They also have a YouTube that has over 10+ years of Warcraft III commentary videos and more. Asides from following their Twitch and subscribing to their YouTube, you can join their Discord here.

Community Discords

WC3 Gym – A Discord server originally focused on helping new players learn the game, is now a large community of all different skill levels who come together to train and learn. It is also the home of Gym Newbie League.

W3Champions – A Discord server for the WC3 community ladder mentioned above. This Discord is the first place to get new updates about W3Champions, as well as the best place to ask the developers any questions or issues you may have relating to the ladder.

SyDe – French Undead player SyDe’s Discord server. A community hangout to chat about current events, the game, and just general conversation between community members.

Zero Effort – OCE-based team Zero Effort’s Discord server. A community hangout to chat about current events, the game, and just general conversation between community members.

Rocket Beans TV’S WC3 Discord – A Discord server started out of German-based Rocket Beans TV’s WC3 content (a recurring WC3 series called Creepjack and a league called Creepcamp).

Community Streamers

Casters:

Sl4sHoR (GER)

Sp4rta (GER)

Forkxx (POR)

W3History (ENG)

SyDe_ (ENG/FRA)

Random:

Starbuck

7. Open competitions & leagues

Competitive leagues, tournaments and weekly cups you can join

Leagues

Gym Newbie League – Gym Newbie League (GNL) is a league created by the Gym discord team with the goal of providing a competitive and fun space for new and veteran players to participate in a team league with solo matches.

Fountain of Manner League – Fountain of Manner League (FOML) is an NA-based solo league for all skill levels with an emphasis on creating as fair as possible matchups for everyone, done by creating groups of 8 players all around the same MMR. There are prizes for all groups.

Creep Camp League by Rocket Beans – A league started by Rocket Beans open to all skill levels with separate divisions and their own independent point system based on performances within your group. Point systems affect what group you are placed

Weekly cups

All The Randoms – Weekly tournament hosted by Goodgame.ru that takes place on Sundays with random heroes, races and random mercenaries.