Saturday, August 8, 2009

Goal Oriented Altoholism

Sid posted a comment on one of my previous posts asking how I manage so many characters. Well part of why I have so many characters is because I have ADHD which means I have problems focusing on one thing for any extended period of time. This started with my druid where initially I leveled as Feral. I tanked for a long time before I got to the point where I was bored. So I respeced resto and then balance. By the end of BC I had gear sets for all three trees and specs for both PvE and PvP.

I got to a point though where there just wasn't much I could do on Artorin... so I started leveling alts. My hunter Arravis was next due too the speed and awesome fun I was having leveling. I saw a paladin tanking in shadowlabs that pretty much used no CC. BWUAH? U CAN DU THAT?? So I leveled a paladin to tank and got into healing and retribution at the same time. I had a tank, dps, and everything else in my druid... but I still wanted a dedicated healer. Thus Lanora my priest was promptly leveled to 70 about 2 months before WotLK was released.

There are a lot of people who don't really get into Alts and really I don't blame them. For me though, leveling alts is born out of my desire to be self sufficient and know... well everything! Learning to play a new class is a reward all of its own, and I don't mean just playing a toon to 20. For me everything starts falling into place at level 60.

For me, leveling all of my characters is born out of setting lots of little goals for myself. What started out as having a dedicated healer, tank, and dps turned into picking one of every class and finding a spec and play style that I enjoy. What started out as having an alchemist at 70 to support my druids consumable addiction turned into being completely self sufficient with professions.

What do you choose and why?

So you have one level 80.... and you are kinda getting bored with him... after all you can only do the same daily 500000 times and all the raids have lockouts. Well the obvious choices are, play less, or roll an alt! If you still really enjoy the game and are comfortable with the amount of time you play then the second option is the best choice. But what do you choose?

From my observations playing an alt works best when that character is born out of either necessity or mirroring.

Necessity may not be the best word, because what I mean by it is that often times you pick a class to perform a role that you cannot. Or maybe not can't perform... but it doesn't feel comfortable. This could be you rolling a priest to heal or warrior to tank or a mage to dps. Whatever void you have at 80 this character is meant to fill. This is also more challenging because it is typically a complete breakaway from what you are used too.

Mirroring is referring to a class that plays very similarly to your main character. This is for instance a ret pally rolling an enhancement shaman or feral druid rolling a rogue. The advantages of this are that there is very little learning that needs to be done. You already feel comfortable in the role at 80 and picking a class that is similar will help you get into that class much more quickly.

Whatever you choose it needs to be a class that you are comfortable with, otherwise you will never enjoy leveling that class. Often times you can tweak this with different specs. There are preferred leveling specs for all classes but you don't have to follow them! If you find another spec feels more natural don't be afraid to level with that suboptimal build. I assure you that you will have more fun leveling with a natural spec then with one that you are using because that's what people told you to use.

Ok I got my class now what?

Well now I have my new class... but where do I go and what do I do? The answer to this again has two variables. Do you want to level for speed or for adventure?

If your new toon was born out of necessity (in other words you want this toon to play at 8o) then your choice is likely going to be leveling for speed. You want to get a level 80 as soon as possible and there are many ways to do so.
  1. RaF (Recruit a Friend). Ideally you would... ya know... have a friend? But if you don't consider spending a little extra cash. With triple experienced + any bonuses from BoA gear this is by far the fastest way to 80. Albeit this is also an expensive choice.
  2. BoA (Bind on Account) gear. Which I sort of mentioned above. With this you are looking at getting to 80 with 90-80% less time played.
  3. Find a leveling guide. This will be in the form of a quest guide that is hopefully easy to follow. There are a number of free ones out there on the internet but don't be afraid to support someone's excellent writing by buying one.
  4. Use Quest Helper or Carbonite. Head on over to and pick up one of these if you are unfamiliar with the quests. This will literally point you in the direction of the quest you are working on. While I never use them my wife and brother do.
Now remember that the above is written with the sole purpose of getting to 80 NOW. If that doesn't sound like you then don't worry this next part is! Remember that feeling of awe and wonder at the game when you first started playing? Well guess what? It is still out there if you let it! Even if you started playing in Vanilla WoW there are likely many zones you skipped over while leveling. If you started playing more recently then likely you skipped over 70% of the early content in the game!
  1. Pick a new starting zone. Even if you are still rolling the same race as your main, head over to another zone and start from the very first quest. You will feel a little lost at first but if you read over the quests as you are doing them, you will find a lot of the quests actually have a point!
  2. Pick an alternate leveling path. Whatever zones you did on your main... skip them. Go to a zone you've never been to. Especially now with getting mounts much earlier even the more barren zones (pun intended) become more condensed. If there is a zone that doesn't seem like you can find any quests for, look it up on wowhead. There is a chance there is a hidden quest hub or some poor goblin injured in a cave that needs your help.
  3. Explore the lvl 60 zones. If you are like me and started after Burning Crusade was released then there is a good chance you barely scratched the surface of these zones. Winterspring, Eastern Plaguelands, and Silithid. Check out these zones, they have a number of great quest lines that you can easily have skipped over. Ever wonder where Tirion Fordring came from? Go check out his quest line in Eastern Plaguelands.
I've left a lot of the above open because... well it is supposed to be an adventure! Read quests, take your time, and enjoy being immersed in the game. Believe it or not there is no right or wrong way to level! I've used RaF and BoA items and even very briefly had quest helper installed. I've also read every quest in Duskwood and Ashenvale, and gone places just to see what was there. Do what feels right and comfortable with you and don't let anyone tell you differently.

How do I handle multiple toons?

Well there are two mods that I can recommend. The first is Altoholic. This mod will tell you everything from whether your other toons have mail and when your profession cds are coming up, to comparing items in the auction house to another characters gear. You can see all of your characters professions to see what materials are needed or even if the recipe you just got can be learned.

I personally don't use Altoholic because I find managing everything to be half the challenge. However, the other mod I do use and will recommend is Arkinventory. I cannot recommend this mod enough. On the surface this is a bag mod that puts all of your bags into one giant one. But it does so much more then that. You can set up Arkinventory to sort your gear into virtual bags for you! It has many default setups such as sorting out consumables, trash, boe gear, bop gear, and profession supplies, but you can also customize the bags in countless ways.

Where Arkinventory really comes in handy for alts is that by hovering over any item in the game, it will tell you how many of that item is on what character. You can also look at the bags, bank, and guild bank of your other toons as it caches the data while you play.

I'm sure there are plenty of other Mods out there but I try to run with as few as possible.


Sid said...

Whoa.. that was a very informative and well written article!

I never thought about alts in that way. Using to fill 'needs' in comparison to the main character. Well my main is a pally so he can do everything but caster-dps. But the healing style of the pally is not very engaging to me (single-target spam FoL/HL.. too mind numbing) that's why I dual-specced him Prot/Ret, but sometimes I see lots of people spamming "need healer for X instance and G2G" and makes me wish I had another lvl 80 toon, dedicated healer.

I tried several times to roll a Shaman but I end up deleting them after lvl 19 or so because I roll the char to be a caster and always spec melee because "that's what everybody does and says"; I'm glad you can thing differently without being considered a "noob" for having a different playstyle preference. Good advice. Maybe I'll take a shammy to 80 some day. (After I have my main in full Ulduar-level gear for the new raid.

Again, an excelent article. And very true (*barrens* lol).

Thank you very much, man!

What's My Main Again? said...

I leveled my shaman as elemental and especially now that you get water shield much earlier... leveling as elemental isn't as tedious as it once was.

Pull with lightning bolt till they get into melee range then use a shock and melee the last bit of health. This will keep your mana up with water shield and also keep your weapon skill high enough to be useful.

I agree with paladin healing... I did a bit of it at 70 before we even had beacon and the play style just never suited me.

Anyway thanks for the input and glad you enjoyed the article.

Green Armadillo said...

Gogo Necropost! :)

Seriously, this caught my eye because it dovetails with the reason behind my recent PTR experiments. If the new expansion is what it appears to be, I'm going to want some level-appropriate alts to experience it with.

I definitely trend away from "mirroring" my existing characters. It's too easy to fall into the trap of trying to play the new class just like you play the old one and find that you weren't totally wrong when you initially concluded that you wanted to be the class that you initially picked. (Then again, my mage was originally planned to be a level 35 Arcanite transmute alt for my Pally/Blacksmith, but I ended up liking the faster pace of combat much better than the 2005 Pally.)

Also, I'm a bit of a sucker for making tradeskill alts. Intellectually, I know on some level that it would be quicker to farm cash and buy whatever it is I need rather than level an alt just to craft it for me, but I have a havit of disregarding that knowledge. EQ2 does not put level restrictions on its tradeskill tiers, and the prospect of having a small self-sufficient mini-economy amongst my alts is one of the big things that's getting me to alt in the game. (Usually there's nothing that can distract me from leveling my main if I'm not at the level cap yet.)