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Even if you don't stick around for the long haul, give Atlantica Online a try. It's so different from probably anything else you have ever played, that it shows you what is possible in an MMO.
A RL friend of mine found this a few years back and I had never heard of it. I tried it and I'm hooked.
The concept is strategic turn-based combat with a 3 * 3 grid of a team made of 1 main character and 8 mercenaries (mercs). So you have a team of 9 characters that you manage. On a typical turn, you can use 5 mercs. Each merc has a physical attack type based on its weapon (an axe can hit a row of enemy mercs 3 across, a spear can hit 2 mercs one behind the other, a bow can hit 1 merc anywhere in the enemy formation, etc.). Each merc can have 1 or more magic abilities, which can be attacks, buffs, debuffs, heals, guards, etc.).
Each magical ability can be skilled up and each merc can wear many different types of gear (weapon, armor, charms, earrings, necklace, boots, etc.) that can be upgraded, both by enchanting the gear to +1, +2 to +10 and/or by replacing it with higher level gear. So you manage 9 characters with 9 times the gear of, say, a WoW character.
There are a number of ways to have more than 8 mercs, by storing them in merc rooms or a house. We are also very soon getting a new type of merc called a merc corps (already live in Korea), but I wouldn't worry about this (yet) as a new player.
There have been a number of recent overhauls that make the game a lot friendlier for new players. You get free licenses, such as teleportation, until level 81. You also get a lot of free upgrade items, such as crystals you need to upgrade mercenaries that you used to have to farm. You also get a number of free mercenaries at level 60 that you used to have to buy.
If you have more questions, feel free to ask and I'll try to answer.
You can also start a free account and roll a character on server Sikyon and whisper me ( Smashix) when you are on. Our guild (Epic) is helpful and friendly to new and casual players. We are casual friendly, while still trying to do things as a guild (guild dungeons, etc.).
Edit: April 2015: I am on hiatus for now, but Epic guild is still active.