Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Fun with Alts

I have been musing the last few days about what my next post should be. Normally I try to not think about it, and let my subconscious decided when I need to write, and what to write about. However due to the latest shout I got from Fannon, I have been watching my stats go up quite a bit faster than usual. In fact with only one post this month so far, I have already hit about 1/4 of my normal monthly views. So I thought I owed it to all you new readers out there (I hope there are some of you anyways...) to be a little more proactive in my writing. I have really struggled with nailing down something to type, I normally like to pick larger topics, things that have been "in vogue" in the blogging community for instance, however today it hit me that what I have been doing to kill time while thinking is the best thing to write about currently: Alts!

I started playing, as some of you may know, in Wrath. I didn't start raiding until ToC was out, so I was pretty far behind a LOT of my server in experience, however I did happen to have 5 level 80s by the end of the expansion, and had successfully (judged by having killed at least a few raid bosses) raided on three of them (Morituri, Guaris, and Rochrio). I was pretty slow at leveling alts in Cataclysm. Not only had I experienced the lack of excitement that everyone has been blogging about, but I had also wanted to spend a little more time on school work, and a little less time on "WoW-Work" (that's right Webster's you can attribute that word to me in 5 years when you are looking for other stupid words to add in, such as "muggle" and "lol"). I have now leveled 3 85s (Morituri-priest, Shadairharan-DK, and Guaris-Pally), and have my hunter to level 83 all through herbing. I have just recently (read: yesterday) started leveling my Shaman, and I have to say, I LOVE HIM!
I know there has been a lot of criticism of Blizzard based around this class, specifically that Resto-shaman seem to be under powered, and as a disclaimer I have only hit 83 on my Shaman, but I am finding him very easy to heal on, everything seems very intuitive, and he has some spells that I really miss having on my Priest, such as an interrupt (wind shear) and that nice little OP spell called purge (Yes I have an offensive magic dispel on my priest, but in order to dispel a LOT of things that Shaman can with Purge, I have to use massdispell, wave goodbye to 10k Mana...). I am also enjoying having the variability in buffs that I can give through my totems (what's that? I have a pally with protection aura up? okay agility and strength buff it is!).
Alts seem to be an area of the game where people are very split down the middle on. You have lots of people that have a huge number of alts, as soon as they ding 85 on one toon (or it is raid ready) they start another. And then there are the people that only have one 85, or if they have two or three, they never really play them. I guess you can throw me under the "huge number of alts" category (although five isn't a huge amount, but I suppose pre 4.1 having that many 85s suggests that by the next expansion I may have 9 or 10...).
Why do I like alts so much? Well a few reasons. The first is that its a nice change. When I am so used to playing my Priest, its nice to experience a few different styles of play through other classes, even if I do tend to box myself out of that DPS role most of the time (my DK and Hunter have always been farmers, I really don't intend to do much for raiding on them, and I never even ran heroics in Wrath on my hunter). The second reason is a little more, I suppose you could say, proactive. Have you ever been in a raid with a leader that is assigning roles, or telling someone to do something, and you are sitting there thinking "that's stupid asking the Shadow Priest to get interrupts with his 45second CD, when there is an enhancement shaman right there with a 6second instant cast, off the GCD, interrupt" or "why is he getting the Holy Pally to raid heal and the Holy Priest to raid heal?" sure those can probably be done (especially the second one) but I would imagine that most people that would say something like that have never really played those classes. Even extremely knowledgeable players occasionally make mistakes like that, and the more classes you are comfortable with, the less likely you are to make silly assignments like that.
As a little story from our raid group about this, one of the most skilled players I have ever played with (who also happens to have more alts than I do, with better gear) has never played a Pally. The other night in raid when instructing a player on a fight, he said that during a certain point, he should start using his holy power for  Holy Radiance instead of Word of Glory. This is one situation where he had great knowledge of the fight, lots of different classes, but his one small blind spot seemed to be Pallies (for those of you that don't know, Holy Radiance is a 1minute cooldown, 30seconds for holy pallies spec'd into it, raid heal that does NOT use holy power, where as Word of Glory has no cooldown, but heals based on the amount of holy power you use to "power" it).

So for those few of you who ARE reading this: Leave me a comment with your favorite alt class and spec (and your main class and spec!), and let me know if you are an Altoholic, or a One-Class kind of player.


  1. I wonder how many of your hits were from me trying to decide what to write in response to the Homogenization post and eventually deciding that I didn't really have time to write up my thoughts in a fashion both reasonably timely and reasonably coherent? ;) In any case, I think I generally agree with you that it was best for the game although as a resto druid there are certain things about being pounded into Blizzard's new square hole paradigm that still rankle. But that would be not the subject of this blog post.

    I have quite a few toons, although only three are 85 at the moment - my main druid, Rillfane, my resto shaman Cilyana and my holy priest Beltryd. I would find it really hard to play WoW as much as I do without alts, because you just hit a point where there's not much in the way of meaningful advancement you can do on a single toon, particularly since I don't really have any interest in PVP. At the moment I am spending more time on Rill than I usually do, trying to get the archaeology trinket in hopes that it might help a little on Nefarian. I'm beginning to seriously doubt I'll ever see it, though.

    I really love healing on my shaman, although I do think in a raid setting they may still be slightly underpowered, particularly in 10 man settings. They've been creeping up a bit on stateofdps.com, and while they still haven't managed to move out of the bottom spot, at least they're at 86% of the top class and not 80%, like they used to be. 4.1 should hopefully bring them even closer, and they do seem to be somewhat more competitive in 25 man versions.

    Regardless of their relative power, though, I really enjoy the shaman healing style, enough that I now have three resto shaman toons at varying levels. They're a bit dull to heal on until you get most of the tools (early shaman healing is pretty much a two-button affair), but that's kinda true of a lot of the healing classes. But once you get Riptide things start to get more interesting, and Healing Rain is just an awesome spell. I thought I'd dislike the fiddliness of having to place the circle versus just Swiftmending a target to proc Efflo, but really, it works out nicely most of the time. And with Tidal Waves up most of the time, my direct heals feel like they have about the right cast time, not super-sluggish like throwing direct heals on my druid usually feel.

    I also love having an interrupt to prevent some damage rather than just have to heal through it, and that will be even better come 4.1 when Wind Shear will always hit. I'm sure they won't, but if they'd expand that to include CCs I'd be even happier, as it does kind of suck to be called upon to Hex stuff and have it miss. Still, it does seem like shamans add a nice amount of group utility and there have been times when if not for the amount of mounts, titles and achievements I've accumulated on my druid, I might have thought about changing mains.

    My holy priestess and I don't really seem to get along as well. I don't really feel as comfortable healing on her and I don't think it's just that she's about 10 iLvl less geared than my shaman. I like Prayer of Mending as you mentioned in your last post, but in 5-mans it always seems to bounce from the tank to the hunter's pet where it's never heard from again. And the priest healing circle, unlike the shaman one, doesn't really seem to do enough healing to be worth the extra fiddliness. I guess it's getting a buff in 4.1 too, so maybe it'll be worth it then. I leveled her as disc, so I might go back to that at some point, it felt more comfortable to me; I'm just not sure how it would do in raids. Of course, given that we only have the one alt run, I'm kind of unlikely to really raid on anyone beyond Rill and Cil anytime soon.

  2. Wow, Mori, your blog comments section actually does have a character limit! ;)