Why do you have alts?

My plan today had been to write about the effects T2 is having on alts, but The Grumpy Elf beat me to it, and honestly he did a way better job with it than I would have, so please stop by and read his post. But thinking about alts and the shabby — in my opinion — way they have been treated in WoD got me to thinking about the various reasons people have them, and the various ways they play them.

I will take myself as an example, because I think I have a representative number of alts but I am not what you would call an altoholic. My main is a Worgen hunter, and my alts are:

  • A level 100 Night Elf hunter (who used to be my main but who has fallen behind in WoD, due to not being with a decent raid team for most of the expansion, but who still has most of my account achievements).
  • A level 100 Pandaren monk who is my healer.
  • A level 100 Gnome destro warlock.
  • A level 100 Human arcane mage that I have never learned how to play and that spent over a year being a bank alt.
  • A level 91 Night Elf balance druid. (See mage comments above.)
  • A level 90 Pandaren elemental shaman that is mostly a bank alt but that I had fun playing around with in Mists.
  • A level 18 Human priest that is strictly a bank alt.

Over the years I have created a lot of alts, but I deleted most of them and the ones above are the ones I am left with for now. The first two alts I ever created were my druid and my mage, and my newest alt — created in Mists — is my lock.

The only reason I have ever created alts is to try out play styles on non-hunter classes. You will note that with the exception of my healer all my alts are ranged damage dealers. This is because so far I have not been able to really get into melee style game play. I have tried every melee class but never stuck with them beyond about level 60 or so, I end up getting really bored with them and deleting them. I chalk this up to it being a bad habit of mine, and I still intend to pick a melee class and level it to max, just haven’t picked out the right one for me yet. I have toyed with the idea of making a strong melee off spec for either my druid or my monk, but again I have not devoted much time to that. But it is still an option.

The other thing about my alts is that they are all Alliance. I have tried a couple of Horde side alts, but my imagination is so strong and my game immersion (can’t believe I am actually using that term) is so great that I cannot shake the feeling that I am being a traitor, so I always end up deleting them. Plus, to be honest, I think all the Horde races are disgustingly ugly, and I just can’t enjoy being surrounded by them. (I know, I am shallow!)

Of all my alts, I enjoy playing the healer and the lock the most (not counting my alt hunter, because nothing could be more fun than a hunter). I like the healer because it is so completely different from damage dealing. I find healing stressful while I am anticipating it, challenging while I am doing it, and fulfilling when I am done. If I were not mainly a hunter, I would be a healer.

I like my lock because she has a ton of personality. She is tiny and cute but totally kick-ass. If you met her in a dark alley, you would back away as fast as possible because one look and you would know she is no one to mess with. In Mists, the destro lock play style was great fun, but it has become less so in WoD. I still find it engaging, just a tad slow and tedious to get going in that you have to build up your embers before you can have fun spending them, and you are pretty much dependent on standing still to do well. And locks are fun to level and quest with because like hunters they have their own private tank.

Anyway, this is not about the things I like or don’t like about each of my alts, the point is that I created them in the first place to play them. If/when I create another melee class it will be because I want to explore that play style.

If you believe Ion Hazzikostas, that is the only “approved” reason for creating and having alts. But I have another reason for maintaining my alts (and I suspect many of you do, too). I take care to ensure that between them they have all the relevant professions, so that I can be self-sufficient with crafted gear, enchants, glyphs, gems, mat gathering, etc. Apparently Blizz frowns upon this and is taking steps to make it more difficult. But it remains for me a very strong reason to have them, and I don’t intend to change. (*sticks out tongue at Blizz*)

In addition to exploring different play styles and being self-sufficient, a third reason I have alts is to be a good raid team member. I feel like having a couple of viable alts is the responsible thing to do if you are on a decent raid team. They don’t have to be top performers, just viable in a pinch. This means that you should do your best to have them raid-ready by gearing them as best you can and by maintaining some level of proficiency with them.

The last reason I have for alts is as boredom insurance. As expansions wear on and you have done pretty much all you care to do on your main, you can always turn to either a new or existing alt and experience the expansion in a new way on them. I guarantee you that T2 will be a completely different experience on my mage than it was on my hunters, for example. Same with LFR — it may be the only way I can get close to raiding on my weaker alts, so it will be quite a bit different from my hunter LFR token-hunting reason. As I have mentioned, I was never bored in Mists, even though it went on for a long time, and I attribute most of that to being able to spend quality time with my alts.

So that’s it. I enjoy alts, I have multiple reasons for creating them, and I wish I had more time to play them. I also wish T2 was not such a hostile environment for them. I intend to create more alts, especially as WoD ages. They are a way for me to keep the game fresh, reminding me again of the reasons I started playing in the first place.

What about you? Why do you have alts, or if you don’t have any why don’t you?

About Fiannor
I have a day job but escape by playing WoW. I love playing a hunter, and my Lake Wobegonian goal is to become "above average" at it.

8 Responses to Why do you have alts?

  1. Casually Odd says:

    I am a confirmed altoholic and proud of it. On my active account I have 50 characters. According to my excel sheet (of course that’s where I track everything), my current stats are:

    64% Alliance
    36% Horde
    5 100 level characters (currently 3 Horde, 2 Alliance, which is weird for me)
    5 in Draenor working towards max level
    1 starting Pandaria
    2 in Cataclysm
    2 in Northrend
    7 in Outlands
    With the remainder in Vanilla and no one is below 20.

    And nearly everything you wrote fits me to a T, except for class/race avoidance and raiding. I have all specs, all classes, and all professions. Yes, the professions are there to support the other characters but not purely to save gold. Someone (you? Kamalia? Tome of the Ancient?) said it best when they referred to their alts as more of a family that supports each other.

    I have deleted a handful of characters, but those are very few and far between…and it was only to make room for more characters.

    To be fair, more than half of my characters have a partner since my spouse is something of a (lesser) altoholic. Still, even if they didn’t, I would probably have filled every character slot available (I actually just posted something related to alts and my relationship with them)

    As a race traitor myself, not many people go to Thunder Bluff and the ones that do tend to be Tauren. Besides, be careful that Kamalia doesn’t hear you about the ugly Horde races. I fear she’ll have words for you and the honor of her Tauren.

  2. Casually Odd says:

    Oh, I forgot to say, I love your lock already.

    I have a gnome rogue that is cute (and deadly) as a button.

    and I just made a gnome warrior who had a lightsaber transmog on a recruit-a-friend account. She was awesome, I miss her already. And I’m just now realizing that I didn’t get a screenshot before I let the account lapse! Gah!

    • Fiannor says:

      One of my raid teams used to have a little pink-pony-tailed gnome pally tank, who was absolutely indestructible. I loved raiding when she would tank, it just added a touch of fun to the whole endeavor. Plus she was a very good tank. The only problem was it was kind of hard to keep track of her, she tended to get lost in all the chaos that was going on around the boss.

  3. Grumsta says:

    I have five lvl 100s, and between them they have all the gathering and crafting professions. It’s not so much that I’m self-sufficient, but as they’re all in the same guild I can help any other member out. It’s a great guild like that: it starts with the officers and it permeates through the rank and file.

    All my chars are now Alliance, but we did form a “dark side” guild for a while back in MoP and used the free boost to 90 to get stuck straight in. However we found LFR and Flex absolutely toxic on the Horde side on the Magtheridon server, so folks started bringing their characters back to the Alliance. As an experiment on a real alternative play style it was certainly an eye opener!

    I parked my DK hordie until my main three Alliance characters were at level 100, and then over a week’s holiday earlier this year I levelled him from 90 to 100. It was a fantastic experience, the story line in Frostfire Ridge matches the best questlines from any other area in the game. I stayed there until I was level 96 doing every possible quest, and loved every minute. If you ever want a good reason to dip your toe into Horde play that’s the reason to do it. The garrison has a very different feel: it looks way cooler, but it’s a bitch to actually find anything in there 😀

    As he was now Billy no-mates I transferred him to the Alliance when he hit 100. I made him a gnome to give the guild the racial achievement.

    I do have another, rather negative reason, for having strong alts available, and it’s all down to Blizz’s ability and willingness to (sorry for being blunt) nerf the shit out of a class or spec at any moment.

    I started out playing in MoP with a Warrior, had various play style issues so levelled up a Fire mage and loved it. The mage was my main by the time I started WoD. But when I got to level 100 he was hopelessly weak. So I levelled up my hunter (who I ony rolled to get the Panda mounts) and Blizzard smiled, and saith “yea, it is good”, and the people did laugh, and feast upon the Salty Squid Rolls. I get why people love hunters, but I get bored of raiding MM all the time. To be honest I think I resented being “forced” to play him when I’d rather be successful with my mage.

    When I first hit HM I was constantly being nagged to switch to BM but I refused. My dps was poor because I was learning the fights’ OTT mechanics, not because I didn’t know my rotation, or that MMs had been nerfed like SVs. It was part of the reason I ended up hating raiding and quitting WoW for 2 months. Now I’m back for BRF and HFC and, oh look, all the BMs are playing MM in lone wolf mode. I take no joy from that, in fact it makes me sad and angry in equal measure.

    I tried my Mage in Frost spec but I just don’t like it. I have now switched to Arcane and (now I’ve gotten my head around it) I really like it, so he’s raiding with the guild’s alts team in BRF. I’d love to have Fire as a plausible off-spec, but as Arcane prefers mastery and Fire needs lots of crit it isn’t easy. Fire only works well with abundant crit, and I don’t have the money or gear to gem and enchant two separate sets to haul around.

    I did some raiding with my Fury warrior with another guild, but I had to give it up because three nights raiding a week is enough for me. It’s a shame because he does great dps and I get on better with him in WoD than I did in MoP. But both raid teams have great melee dps from the numerous DKs so I can contribute more elsewhere.

    Other guildies have suffered even worse. Our GM had a superb healer with strong dps off-spec in MoP. She is an elemental shammy, and she was so upset when she got to lvl 100 and was so badly nerfed she couldn’t function adequately in dungeons or raids. Thankfully she can level a new character through dungeons in no time, and now has a Disco Priest for heal/dps and a superb Druid tank/healer. I think she only logs on to her old main to do dailies. It’s so sad, especially as we call each other by our main’s name in-game, it’s a wound that won’t heal.

    So having multiple strong alts gives me insurance against the arbitrary nuking that Blizz seems to embark on from time to time. I’ve only played in MoP and WoD, but the ups and downs I’ve seen with my own and others’ classes and specs makes me determined to keep a good range of toons available so I’ll always have something decent to play.

    I don’t expect all classes and specs to be equal, but I do expect that (played well) they are all viable. I resent that the game fosters a player mentality that I saw last night: “We’d have downed that boss if the Arcane mage would just accept Frost is the better spec for this fight”. That is just so very wrong. We downed four bosses in HFC normal in just over 2 hours, that is superb going for our team, it’s not like we wiped all night on one boss.

    Now all I need is the time to get my alts’ gear ilvl up……

    • Casually Odd says:

      “I resent that the game fosters a player mentality that I saw last night: “We’d have downed that boss if the Arcane mage would just accept Frost is the better spec for this fight”. That is just so very wrong.”

      This mindset is one of the reasons I have avoided raiding. Like you said, some classes/specs should have an advantage in some fights or more utility in situations, but any DPS should be able to fill a DPS slot. Any healing should be able to be a sufficient healer. A tank should be able to tank anything a tank can tank. (sorry, read a lot of Dr. Suess last night)

      The thing is, if you are missing the boss by just the smallest amount that changing the spec of one player matters, then you can probably down that boss without changing spec. And if you aren’t really close to downing the boss, then it isn’t just that one player.

      Sad to hear that you had such a bad Horde experience. I’m not a big fan of the Horde but I play what I play and enjoy it. And despite what everyone in Trade will tell you, both sides have good, helpful players and both sides have selfish, mean, bigoted (this might go on a while…) players. I do think it might be more server based…that some servers have good Horde/Alliance communities and others make Mos Eisley seem like the suburbs.

      • Grumsta says:

        Trade chat is equally toxic on both sides, sadly. And yes there is a similar mix of good & bad players in Horde & Alliance, I’m not stereotyping.

        Flex & LFR in MoP wasn’t much fun on Alliance either, and most of us still avoid it where possible to this day. The problem was because only a few of us tried out Horde, it meant we were more reliant on LFR & Flex to raid. And as guildies started to move toons over to the Aliance it got into a spiral.

        We used boosted toons to get into raiding faster, but we knew the fights already so it wasn’t an issue. Sadly part of the toxicity stemmed from boosted players who had no preparation for raiding and didn’t know the fight or even their basic class & rotation. Any player who walked a toon in wearing the boosted gear would get insulted and kicked PDQ. We just threw on a set of Timless gear mailed over from our Alliance alter egos, grabbed whatever weapons we could drop, and got on with it.

        The venom unleashed at “noobs” by the LFR pack when a wipe happened took my breath away. Okay we were only there to get stuff for the cloak quest too, and yes it’s frustrating, but…… this was another level. Thankfully I’ve never seen it that bad since, I hope I never do.

    • Fiannor says:

      I hadn’t thought about having classes ready to play for the inevitable times that Blizz decides your favorite class/spec should be nerfed into the ground. It’s an interesting take on alts.

      For me, though, I am not at the point where I could consider abandoning a hunter as my main. I love the class too much, and my whole approach to raid and fight mechanics is based on dealing with them as a hunter. In fact, this is what probably prevents me from doing well with other ranged DPS classes — I try to play them as petless stand-still hunters, and it seldom works well. I do better as a healer, because I do not equate healing with anything I do as a hunter, and I suspect if I could find a melee class I like that I might do well with it too, as it seems much like hunter mechanics except close in — physical damage, lots of movement.

      Still, as you say, it is attractive to “always have something decent to play.”

  4. Grumsta says:

    For clarity: the Arcane mage I mention at the isn’t me, it’s a guy who regularly tops the dps chart in our team, and recently joined our guild having been pushed out of a team he helped get to mythic BRF (because the RL there picks his mates over proven, loyal members).

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