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?