What Is The Value of Alts?   13 comments

There are a lot of people out there, and a lot of guilds for that matter, that just flat out hate alts.  I don’t know if they’ve had a rotten experience with them or just enjoy a monogamous relationship with their main toon, but the result is often the same: someone says “alt” and you can just see them cringe.  It does not matter who is behind the character, they just don’t want to deal with an alt.

I think that this is the wrong attitude to have, and that there are a lot of benefits that a guild can enjoy from fostering the growth of their alts.

I thank that the most common misperception people have is just downright assuming that alts are bad.  I just don’t buy it.  Bad alts are usually tied to bad players.  A player that is exceptional at their main is probably going to be, at a minimum, competent at their alt.  A player that is poor on their main is likely to be poor at their alt as well, although I have met the rare player where they performed so well on their alt you wonder why it is not their main.

To be fair, I have met my fair share of terrible alts.

A person with terrible situational awareness on their main is probably not going to be knocking anyone’s socks off as a tank, where situational awareness plays a huge role.  A person that struggles with DPS on their main is likely going to suffer from the same maladies that cause them to perform poorly, regardless of what class they are playing.  That being said, there are often many things that carry over from a person’s main that many times will make their alt a stronger performer than others regardless of their gear.  Things that aren’t “taught” by studying spell rotations and gearing choices.  Things like knowing when to get out of the bad stuff!

Why am I bringing this up?  Because I believe that there is a lot of value in taking the time to gear alts within a guild, even in a progression focused raiding guild.

Let’s take my raid last night as an example.  We were working HM Anub.  It’s a pretty strict encounter that hugely favors having at least 3 paladins in your raid for their Hand of Protection ability during the kite phases.  My guild has a total of 3 paladins on our progression roster.  This means that if we are missing one of them, we are missing a key component to the fight. 

However, Because we support and encourage things like “alt runs” we happen to have a number of well geared, competent, paladin alts that are able to “fill in”.  Of those alts, two of them are holy and geared enough to heal this particular encounter.  Of those two, one is our anub tank…and one is me, a healer.  If we wanted to put some work in on the fight last night, someone needed to switch over, and the answer seemed pretty blatent: a healer for a healer.

While I was largely unhappy (read: downright pissy) about having to switch over to Dannie because I wanted to have time to work on my phase 3 job with Beru, I recognized the benefit that it provided to the guild’s learning night to have that third paladin.  I recognized the benefit of having two holy paladins on our tanks.  So I shelved my unhappiness about the situation and logged over, enabling us to continue to work through the fight.  Whether I wanted to admit it or not at the time, I was happy that we had the option of having someone to swap over to fill a key role even open to us.

Last night isn’t the first time that we’ve utilized alts to help fill gaps in our raids.  It’s just the most recent example of how we were able to facilitate a raid that might have otherwise ended up being called by bringing in an alt to fill the missing role.  I think that being able to do this is a hugely valuable asset to a guild.

However, if we didn’t encourage alt growth, it might not have been an option that was available to us.  The reason that my paladin was able to step up in a pinch was because we took the time to schedule things on off nights like “alt raids” or to let alts come into farmed content where we are after just a few items for a few mains before removing the content from our raid schedule.  These opportunities not only geared our alts, but it exposed them to a variety of 25 man content and gave them the chance to improve on their performance.  Because of this, my paladin is almost as well geared as a lot of mains and I have a good amount of competency healing with her. 

Understanding how other classes work will help you grow overall as a player.

Another real value in encouraging alt growth, at least in my opinion, is that understanding other roles makes you a better player all around.  As a druid you can’t really appreciate the mobility you have as a healer until you’ve tried to heal on a class with almost no mobility, such as a paladin or a shaman.  As a tank you don’t fully appreciate what your healers experience until you try to heal, and vice versa.   I truly think that trying different things gives you a whole new perspective on different aspects of the game.

I have 4 healers.  Part of this is because I truly enjoy healing, but part of it is because I wanted to be educated in the strengths and weaknesses of each class so that I could better prepare healing assignments.  In addition to my healers, I also have a mage at level 80 and my fledging tank creeping her way to 80.  Each of these characters has given me a different perspective of the game, and each one has taught me something new and made me a better player as a whole.

While I understand that a lot of people don’t have the time/patience/desire to level alts, I do think that it helps a person grow as a player.  I am happy that our guild has so many strong alts to help us out in a pinch, be it in 10 mans or 25s.

What do you think?  Do you find alts valuable assets to a guild or a bothersome pain that you wish you didn’t have to deal with?

13 responses to “What Is The Value of Alts?

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  1. First time reply-er(So not a word, I know).

    I for one am in favor of alts, I’m an alt whore. I have to date
    80 DK Main (DPS Unholy/Blood Tank)
    80 Warrior (Prot/Fury)
    80 Shaman (Resto/Elemental)
    80 Paladin(Horde) (Ret/Prot)
    80 Mage (Arcane)

    I’m currently leveling a bevy of alts. I have a rogue, warlock, hunter all in their 70’s and a druid who just hit 50 who is Bear/Tree.

    I find with that many characters and as OCD as I am I have a pretty good understanding of most classes and their capabilities. I’m an officer in a very small guild who is so beyond behind on anything considered “progression” its’ not funny but we do have fun and I always have an alt who can fill any given spot needed in a group. That was the idea behind all my alts.

    I see nothing wrong with it. I work for a living, do my 45 hours a week. Play with my significant other who has nearly as many alts as I do and have a good time of it. I do believe however people with as many alts as I do tend to burn out a lot quicker than most even on piddling content like we’re at.

    I have found myself logging in repeatedly and just staring for awhile and logging out to do something else. Not raiding for a week or two and just alting it with a small level char on another server.

    So, in short yeah I think alts are assets. I’ll stop hogging the comments now.

    • I tend to level lower level alts that aren’t in Northrend when I’m starting to feel a bit burnt out. I find that re-visiting the old areas revitalizes me a bit. :)

      Like you, I am pretty OCD about playing anything that I’m going to attach myself to, so I max out my trade skills and try to genuinely understand the mechanics of the class!

  2. I think alts can definitely be used to fill holes at times.

    Personally I don’t play many alts just because I hate the whole experience grind.

  3. Both. As you said it depends on the player. I’m a pretty good healer with all 4 classes, but give me a dps spec and I’m mediocre at best. And although I’ve gotten a seal of approval from the main tanks to pally tank, I’m not geared enough for ICC nor confident enough to tank most raids.

    I think a big part of it is the stigma that alts don’t get as much love as mains and therefore alts are mediocre to horrible.

    • I definately think that there are some class types that people are just inherantly more comfortable performing. And the same could be said for competence too :)

      You are right with regards to alts not getting as much love as mains, but I’ve seen lots of alts who are just as good, if not better, than some mains as well.

  4. I’ve had an army of alts since late BC and they’ve benefited from the changes in Wrath greatly. I could probably tank and heal Icecrown10 on my paladin and my druid (as in, both characters could both tank and heal) and I could do great damage on my lock, mage and rogue.

    My hunter and priest are the only alts that I’ve let languish for a while but that’s because you can only run so many heroics a day before wanting to slit your wrists.

    I really care a lot about my alts, going so far as to stress about their gear, get them specific titles and achievements and generally making sure that I could swap any one of them out for my main at any given time and not miss a beat.

    • I do like the changes with gear in WotLK from an alt perspective. The gear resets definately let me keep up to par much easier than TBC or Vanilla.

      All of my alts have at least their 4pc T9 bonuses, if not better gear. I don’t chain run heroics though because I don’t want to burn myself out on them. This means that I’ll probably be a bit behind with regards to frost emblems on them, but it’s ok because there is going to be a whole lot of ICC before Cataclysm hits…so I’ll either catch up or I’ll have a fresh reset!

  5. I’m currently messing about as a hunter for just that reason: to understand how they work. I also can’t bear to play my pally, but I know that I need to understand their mechanics to be an effective healing coordinator, so I cheat and read pally blogs.

    I think your raiding program will suffer if you let anyone bring just about any alt to a raid. There’s only so much the human brain can remember. There are very few players that I’ve met who are proficient at more than 2 toons.

    • It is actually hugely rare that we let an alt into our progression raids, and it’s only permitted when deemed “necessary” and only if the player has proven skill at their alt to us previously.

      I would disagree, however, that people can’t be proficient at more than 2 toons. I’d like to think I’m above average on all 4 of my healers, and when I’m in a group of similarly geared toons, I do decently enough with my mage, although she is admittedly my weakest toon…largely just out of neglect :)

  6. Alts are a tough call. They are very very useful to fill in for missing players. IF your guild has a very active raiding culture with off night alt raids, alts can be a great deal of fun, and useful for learning fights better. I love my alts. ;)

    The dark side of alts are raiders who gear up their main, then want to switch over to an alt and start gearing that one. As we progress further into the flavor of the month progression raid, the bosses get more difficult. Maybe its been open for a bit and we have it on semi-farm. X-the-healer has gotten all his drops, so now he wants to bring X-the-hunter or X-the-shammie. Suddenly the raid is down an experienced and geared healer, and the content just got a LOT harder.

    With a good policy for when and if people bring their alts to the progression raids, gear policies that favor mains over alts, and a process in place for how often people switch mains, I adore alts in raiding guilds and think they are beneficial. Without those policies, they can be a detriment.

    • I think I already said it in a comment above, but just in case, alts aren’t welcome in our main progression raids unless we are desperate and in need of something specific, and the player has proven their worth to us previously.

      That being said, sometimes we do open very farmed content up for alts to join. We also do host “alt” friendly runs on off nights for those interested :)

      I think we have a pretty good policy with regards to alts, so for us I largely think they are a benefit.

  7. In I guess ‘hardcore’ progression guilds alts are basically the best thing since sliced bread. When new content has come out in ICC we run full clear (Blood Queen and Putricide defeated) on two ICC 25 mans and will probably get everything but the two last bosses this week on our third 25 man. We also run six 10 mans and make sure that we only have one rogue per 10 man, only one holy paladin, one tank with a shield etc. so that alts are basically running mains through the instance to soak gear.

    When their isn’t a ton of content, it’s a signifigant amount of raiding if you have several alts, but it’s fun content unlike ToC. The rise of alts is really tied to the attempt limit, where being able to do content on multiple lockouts helps you see it and plan etc. before you have to waste attempts on your uber geared mains.

    That being said most of our alts are of different classes then our mains, I play a resto druid and then a holy priest as an alt. If you want to take it to the next level you can just level a second main which I think is what alot of people in Ensidia are doing. They all have their mains, then they have a second character of the same class and specc that is slighly undergeared. This effectively doubles your tries on hard modes. Crazy.

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