A realm is an instance of the World of Warcraft () game world. Realms are hosted on physical devices called servers (for this reason, the terms "realm" and "server" are often used interchangeably).
To play , you must first choose a server (realm) to play on. You then connect to this realm over the Internet. Blizzard has servers in the US, Europe, China, Brazil and Korea (see Localization).
See the realms list for a list of realms kept up-to-date by WoWWikians.
Why have realms?
The game world is duplicated (mirrored) across multiple realms to prevent any one realm from becoming too crowded (and thus overwhelming the server), to provide for better connection times (by having players connect to local servers), to allow for localized communities based on language (for example, French speakers on realms in France), and to appeal to different play-styles for different users.
To allow for different play-styles, realms come in four types:
- PvE (a.k.a. Normal) - Player vs. Environment.
- PvP - Player vs. Player. Automatic PvP flagging while in contested zones with 5 min. expiration timer when leaving those zones.
- RP - Roleplaying version of a PvE realm. Additional behavior and naming rules apply.
- RP-PvP - Roleplaying version of a PvP realm. Additional behavior and naming rules apply.
For the adventurous, there is also a Test Realm that is periodically available in which players can try experimental features in development before they get released as general patches. Test realms often exist in both PvE and PvP varieties.
Also, usually before an expansion is released there are Beta realms which function similarly to test realms.
According to the North American realm status page, there are 241 total NA realms. Of these 113 are Normal (PvE) servers, 105 are PvP, 17 are RP, and 6 are RPPvP.
For Europe, there are 109 English speaking realms, 87 German, 37 French, 11 Spanish, and 19 Russian, for a total of 263 realms. This breaks down into 99 Normal (PvE), 129 PvP, 20 RP, and 15 RPPvP servers.
- Test realm
- For a WoWWiki list of realms by region, language, timezone, and type, see the realms list.
- For a list of articles about realms, see Category:Servers.
- For the pros and cons of PvE (normal) realms, see Player vs Environment → Pros and Cons of PvE realms.
- For the pros and cons of PvP realms, see Player vs. Player → Pros and Cons of PvP realms.
- For information related to roleplaying, see Roleplaying.
- RP realms
- WarcraftRealms.com Useful realm info, based on user submitted data
- RealmWatcher.com Free realm status email alerts (with customizable alert criteria, e.g. "alert when <realm> is Queued for at least 5 minutes") and RSS feeds
- Realm Status Firefox Microsummary tool European Realms and Firefox 2.0 or later required
- Realm Status Firefox Add-On US realms and Firefox 1.5 or later required
- WarcraftUpdate.net Get text messages through Twitter when realms come online or when a world event is happening.
- Wowrecord.com Realm information and statistics mined from the armory.