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The alt deficiency

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Do alts even count as alts when half of them are the same class as your main and the other half are rarely played?

I have a troubling relationship with the concept of playing an alt. First off, I don't really get alts. I know people who have four or six or even eight level 85 characters, geared and kitted out for raiding or Arena/RBG play. One woman I know has completely filled up two servers with level 85 characters (full character window, a server she plays Horde on and a server she plays Alliance on) that can at least run a random Hour of Twilight heroic. I accept that this exists, but I can't imagine doing it.

See, I'm middling at best about my achievements in game, but there are things I've done that you can't do anymore. I mean, every time I ran the 5-man Zul'Gurub, I kept thinking about how I'm a hero of the Zandalar tribe. Shouldn't they at least try and talk me out of killing them? Shouldn't I at least have the option to say, "Hey, guys, it's me, can we chill out on this?" and then we could express our sorrow at having to come to blows?

I can't do that on an alt. Well, OK, I can do it on the other two warriors who are also heroes of the Zandalar tribe, but you get my point. An alt's not going to have all those titles I barely realized I was earning, or my Mimiron's Head, or a Sulfuras in the bank laughing at me every time I got to the trasmogrification ethereal and get a hit of sweet, sweet gear changery.

We could learn so much about them

I know there are benefits to playing a lot of alts. Some people can really learn the way other classes work, and it tends to give them an insight into those classes that can be very useful when doing things like leading a raid or planning out a boss strategy. It can be useful in 5-mans where people you're playing with seem to be missing some aspect of their class that could be useful in a fight, although it's easy to be overbearing with this and turn into Captain Know-it-all (by the powers of your alts combined). (If someone is doing as much DPS as both other DPS and the tank put together, he or she probably doesn't need your help.)

My biggest problem with alting is twofold: I don't want to heal, and I don't want to stand at range. This leaves out a lot of classes. I have a couple paladins and shaman and even have a shaman at max level, but every time I play them, someone seems desperate for a healer and I always feel obligated to try and help out. It's not even that I'm terrible at it. Even now, I'm a passable resto shaman if I put my mind to it. I just don't like it, and I end up letting the characters languish rather than feel forced to do it again.

I also tend to use alts to learn how a class works, get it to max level, start working on gearing up, and then get bored and go back to my much better-geared main. There's always something I can do on him that needs doing and that will feel more productive to me.

I understand that it's purely bias, that time spent on my main in game is no more productive than time spent on an alt. It's a game. But the bias is there nonetheless, and it's hard to shake. When I'm on random DK #3 tanking Sethekk Halls, I keep thinking about my Death's Demise soloing the whole place in one pull. I can't help it. And playing a class in one of the same roles my main can fill (tanking or DPSing) always feels strange to me. Tanking on my druid or DK feels off. There's no shield, the buttons are different, the druid feels like I stripped half of the features out of the car I usually drive and the DK feels like an amphibious landing craft instead of a car at all. I'm not arguing for superiority or inferiority so much as feel here. I'm used to tanking on the warrior.

Perhaps too much

Heck, I don't even have to think about tanking on the warrior. Tanking on the DK, I keep having to remember things. It's not hard to do, but it is like forgetting muscle memory and then later going back to it and having that second of dissonance, of saying Wait, which one is this one again? that just puts me off. This might explain why I have so many warrior alts in part, because it means I can just use the same reflexes.

Someone who we'll call Korugar in my current guild has swapped mains three times this expansion, going from warrior to DK to mage, and he may end up going rogue at some point. I can't even wrap my head around this, but he does it all the time. The idea of being able to switch not only roles but classes like that, sometimes in the middle of a raid tier, just blows my mind. It takes a level of facility that I don't think I possess.

In the end, I admit to a baffled admiration for those of you who can play 10 (soon to be 11) up to 85 or so on. I get that you can, even if I don't really understand why you do, and I respect it. Can't seem to emulate it, however.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm has destroyed Azeroth as we know it; nothing is the same! In WoW Insider's Guide to Cataclysm, you can find out everything you need to know about WoW's third expansion, from leveling up a new goblin or worgen to breaking news and strategies on endgame play.

Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Shaman, Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, Death Knight

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