Mages, ten-man raiding, and other things that are awesome.

I’m always interested in discussions about which character people consider their ‘main.’ I know people who have two mains, one they raid with and one that is their achievement/collector. Is your main your oldest character? The one you love the most? If you’re an RPer, perhaps it’s the character whose story you are most invested in. Changing mains can lead to mixed feelings and even a confusion of identity. I know it sounds dramatic, but it’s true! My friend Rades has been playing his death knight character primarily since he was unhappy with the hunter changes, but his identity in the WoW community is still pretty strongly a burly green hunter. After all, his blog is called Orcish Army Knife.

Millya's (and my!) first raid ever. I love this screenshot; I can feel the tension I felt at the time being told "Go stand here," while we waited to pull - and to me Millya looks as if she feels the same way. (p.s. Spellfire set and PvP staff, so retro).

I remembered being flat-out shocked when Wrath came out that people would change “mains” at this time. This was naivete on my part, to the tune of, “But you are a priest, how could you level your druid first?” Plenty of people I know switched characters at the beginning of Wrath (from a bear to a paladin! from a priest to a druid! from a hunter to a death knight!) I had to reconcile myself to the fact that people won’t stay the characters you expect them to stay. The death knight was especially rough because we had to wait for him to catch up to us at max level. The new expansion was a valuable experience, though, because when Cataclysm was coming out I knew to expect it and I started the conversation in-guild really early: Who are you going to want to be playing in Cataclysm? Several people seized on that opportunity, and of course now I understand at least partly why. If you are dissatisfied with your class or just want something new, nothing levels the playing field like the gear reset at a new expansion.

I’m continually surprised by how even when you think your main is clearly defined, other characters can sneak up in the rankings and even dethrone the long-time king or queen. Unexpectedly during Wrath, I dropped all of my max-level characters to play Shaedra – a character who was level forty when I was raiding Naxxramas turned out to be the healer I brought into Ulduar. I really fell in love with being a druid, and the character herself (as I was still on an RP server at the time) was a ridiculous amount of fun to play. Her personality was outrageous and she made people laugh, and I think that was a large part of why she became my “main.”

I took many screenshots of Shae because she was fun to photograph. She's posing here with what was actually a feral staff from Ulduar but it looked so neat I used it for screenshots.

As a confirmed altoholic, I have to admit that there’s always a certain shuffle going on with my characters. I had to play a healer because of raid group requirements, and I found that at the time I preferred to be a druid. I’ve since done this several more times. I remember one of my RLs famously remarking, “You can bring anything you want! But, can you bring a healer?” (Sorry, Saif!) It’s not that I didn’t enjoy healing, but at the time I had an awesome partner. It was fun to rock through Naxx with my druid buddy, two-healing everything. We were a great team.

My later experiences with Shae in Ulduar didn’t really match up with that. No one else in our group wanted to/was in a position to heal, so every week we’d be pugging again. There was the priest who asked whether I was a guy or a girl on Vent (okay, I know I don’t have a high-pitched voice, but I think I still SOUND like a woman), there were healers who would DC, there were healers who clearly had no idea what the heck they were doing. In one week’s run, I did sixty percent of the healing, the other healer did twenty (twenty!) and the rest of it came from other sources. On the one hand, it’s kind of fun to feel superhuman. On the other, I’d finish each raid with a crazy tension headache and started bursting into tears for no reason. This is when we realized that we were not succeeding at running a raid group, and I was burned out on being a healer.

My poor Holy priest, she is the epitome of "Always a bridesmaid, never a bride." I have since race-changed her to be a draenei and she really doesn't have a story of her own.

So, I was happy to begin raiding as a mage again when I server transferred and moved to Business Time! They needed a mage. I had kept Millya’s gear at around T9 level because I can’t bear to let my beloved characters languish. BT didn’t really need a warrior but they accepted Voss grudgingly on my good merit (and conjured cakes). The truth is, I played a healer because a healer was needed, but I’m not sure any character was ever my true “main.” They are powerful second-string characters and sometimes I play them, but for me, there’s only really one true main.

Millya's triumphant return to Ulduar hard-modes - i was absolutely floored by some of the scenery in later Ulduar. Please ignore the fact that she is wearing pants, something that would never, ever happen if she had a say in it.

My screenshots folder tells the tale. As I rummaged through looking for good shots of all my characters, I saw the amount of documenting I had done for my behooved spellslinger. There are shots of her in every raid instance, dinging level 70, level 80 – learning how to polymorph people into pigs and wearing the worst Burning Crusade fashion choices. In a way, she’s my least exciting roleplay character because she is me. My other characters are often fun because I deliberately try to make them different – an outspoken booze hound/hedonist, a determined inventor, etc. She’s a bookish intellectual with a temper – not really my most creative decision given my personality. This doesn’t mean I never get confused about the main/alt issue. As recently as this week I’ve thought about playing one of my healing characters because it’s what the raid group needs. This time, fortunately, I faced up to the reality that even if I did it “for the good of the group” I would always miss her. If mages had a healing spec (a la Rift) I would not hesitate! I would chloromance the heck out of my raid group. But that’s not an option.

My feelings towards individual characters is a shifting thing. I haven’t been as excited about Shae since she is no longer a happy tree healer. It’s sad, but true. She’s languishing at level 83. Vidyala became such a favourite that I seriously considered playing her in Cataclysm, but she never quite made it. She is the queen of pugs and possibly an eventual alt run, but she isn’t my main.

Vid-on-ice. Or is that in ice? Anyway, you all know the fight. I guess my pathetic magic had betrayed me.

She is my top pick for when we’re branching out into alt-territory, though! This tier of raiding doesn’t seem very pug-friendly so I’m not sure how much raiding she’ll do, and I’m okay with that. I don’t have time to maintain two “complete” characters. Besides, if I weren’t running LFD pugs, how would I get crazy pug stories to write blog posts about?

Fireballing M.A.G.E.

I knew that when I felt a rush of relief at not having to switch characters to fill a healing slot that it was the RIGHT decision. I don’t want to not be a mage! I don’t know if it’s the class so much as Millya herself. If I could change her class and keep my mounts, titles, and achievements, I might consider changing her to a priest. Barring that, I don’t see it happening. Incidentally, I’ve heard that they are introducing the option to rearrange your characters on the character screen and I am so happy about this. It’s actually okay because Millya is at the top – I deleted my 58 Death Knight just so that she would be at the top. I don’t know why, I am OCD about some things. Now I will be able to put seldom-played alts at the bottom and arrange my other characters in the true pecking order.

How about you? Do you have one main forever? Did you find yourself switching when you least expected it? And why does your main hold the title?

Comments on: "Character Hierarchy: Who’s the boss?" (29)

  1. My original main was the first i leveled up, Mapes, a holy pally. Since then I’ve leveled up all healing classes and for cata my ‘raiding main’ is Ttrinity. My PVP main is still Mapes. I don’t have one to collect acheivements..they just get what they get. 🙂 I am considering making my shammy an alt for runs as a elemental/resto set. So many alts though ugh!

    Recently Ive put a little dwarf female named Ttrinitas in Eff the Effable. She is hilarious.

    Never RP’d but always wondered…

  2. I switched mains myself some times too.

    I started as a warlock – leveled priest shortly before Ulduar because my guild need a healer and fell in love with discipline, while still somehow sticking to my warlock.

    Because of some guildlessness around ToC / before ICC I leveled a prot paladin – led a guild, a raid, tanked my way through ICC and everything and neglected warlock and priest extremely.

    Then I picked up my priest again, found a new guild for him and sticked to him ever since.

    I think the priest will stay my main. I still play the paladin, but I recently deleted the warlock. I have no intention of playing him again, And well… at least my priest is now on top of my character screen.

    With every main switch I picked up another role, probably to find out what I was the most comfortable with. For my first char, the warlock, I wanted a class which is easy for a beginner. With a warlock and his demonic help I felt comfortable. After I was more experienced I wanted to try something else. So… a healer was born. And then I wanted to tank, so I started a paladin.
    I guess I like healing the most. Every class with a healing tree is doomed to start healing somewhen if I play them.

    /off I go, collecting more holy gear for my paladin

  3. “Please ignore the fact that she is wearing pants, something that would never, ever happen if she had a say in it.”

    OMG Vid. I’m actually tempted to post that to my guild forum’s quotes thread. Never mind that you’re not in the guild. Or on the same continent.

    Filth aside, the notion of main-vs-alts is an interesting one, and I found myself nodding in agreement when you talked about Millya not having as much of a personality because she’s *you*. I have the same relationship with my eponymous main, who *was* the first character I created back when I really didn’t understand a thing about “role playing” or these MMORPG thingies. Meanwhile my mage alt occasionally worshipped in-guild as the true Lady RNG and my hunter has a crush on another guildie’s priest.

    As much as I love them all, I’m not sure I have the same devotion to Ano that you do to Millya, and I could switch “mains” without too much heartache if we were suddenly swamped with paladins.

    Just don’t tell him 😉

  4. “mage alt *is* occasionally worshipped”


  5. Love your screenshot collection. Gear is so pretty on the tall’nshapely alliance ladies.

    I haven’t played my main at all in at least 2 months since rerolling and faction changing, and haven’t played her seriously since dinging 85, but she’s still my main. I can’t bear the thought of faction changing her, but none of my alts have the emotional closeness I have with her.

    For me, she’s all of the above. She’s the one with the achievements, the 100 pets and 90 mounts, the raid experience, the HM chops to back it up. She’s the class I know inside out and want to theorycraft. She’s the toon I play best. I might be a mediocre pally and a decent shaman but I know I was a damn fine druid. She’s my first character rolled, first character to 70, 80, 85. She has the least exciting RP story of any of my toons with stories, because as you say, she’s just ME.

  6. I’m terrible at alting. I swore to myself I’d level my troll druid for alt raids, but I just never got around to it. I’ll probably be playing Rhidach til the day I quit WoW, I’m too invested in him and far, far too lazy to bring up another character to max level and then go through the motions of gearing him.

  7. In my heart, Lara has always been my “main”, and probably always will be, even though I have not played her for months now. I feel personally connected to her in a way that just doesn’t translate to my other alts, even as belovéd as they are. Some of that is because of her name, but mostly I think it’s because she’s the one I have spent so much energy living inside her, giving her a personality, attending RP events, doing hard achievements, and so on.

    This probably seems silly, but in a lot of ways I feel that Lara is the “good parts” extension of myself. All the things I wish I were better at, she’s good at; the things I don’t like about myself, she doesn’t do. Carrying her around in my head helps me feel just a little more confident in a way I can’t easily describe.

  8. I switched all over the damn place if you stop to think about it. Sometimes it was for personal reasons (a relationship broke up and I reflexively yanked my main off server, go fig), sometimes I got angry at my class/role (oh hello, holy paladininining), and sometimes my guild just needed something else.

    Vainglory is the most surprising of all my “mains”. I was never melee before Cata, had never leveled a DK very far before, and she’d been relegated to bank alt status for quite some time.

    I identified as Ambrosine the longest, however, and as she now has a starring role as an RP toon (albeit DK flavored!) she’s still pretty wrapped up in my identity.


      “Vainglory is the most surprising of all my “mains”. I was never melee before Cata, had never leveled a DK very far before, and she’d been relegated to bank alt status for quite some time.” My exact bio. Hahaha.

  9. I’ve often felt that my main (Rades) doesn’t have his own distinct personality, feelings or traits, because he’s not a fictitious character but instead an in-game representation of…me! Other characters, sure, I’ll think “Now what would my DK think of this situation?” or “Would my druid kill this helpless harpy?” But for Rades, everything is based off my own, genuine reactions and impressions.

    As for Alts vs Mains! Cataclysm has been quite the shuffle for me. In Wrath I mained with my Hunter and Druid. Now? DK and Priest, who prior to 4.0, had never even raided or done a single Heroic. Quite the change.

    I think though, my true identity will never change. Even if I never played him again, I think I would always be known/associated as Rades, the hunter.

  10. The character I generally think of as my “main” is a RP character. I have several alts I RP, as well, but Fizzy is the one who has the longest, most in-depth story. She’s also my only level 85 character at this time. She’s very much a product of her Azerothian experiences. Her story comes from things experienced along the way in the game, as well as RP with other people. Other RP characters could probably be inserted into any fantasy world with a few changes to place-names and terminology. I like playing them… but they aren’t Fizzy.

    Glorwynn was going to be the least “alt-y” of my alts. My main healer. Except then I decided to see the changes to story from the Horde side. I think what has happened is that I now have two sets… an Alliance “home server” with an Alliance main and Alliance alts, and a Horde “home server” with Horde main and Horde alts. And it was my Forsaken hunter who was going to be my Horde main. Somehow, I ended up as a goblin fire mage with a Forsaken hunter alt and troll druid alt, and a Tauren paladin as my Horde healer.

  11. My original is still my main, though I’m still annoyed I don’t have her name due to a server xfer. Stupid DK Who Hasn’t Been Played In Over A Year. >.>

    My two “main alts” are druids, bearcat (originally cattree, then beartree) & boomtree. Had a shaman, but haven’t played her in a year, either. Other alts are “minor” alts I guess; never really past about level 40.

  12. Heh, no worries, I cringe when I think back to my early raiding days – I had no clue WTF I was doing, but at least we had fun! I’m sorry for all the WTF moments I’m sure I put you through, not the least being that one.

    As for mains, my Paladin has been and will be my main till I leave WoW. It’s just how it is at this point. But if you’d asked me at the end of TBC I couldn’t have imagined playing anything but Gor. Somehow, as I was leveling them both up together, I just kept playing my Paladin more and more until I was just resolved to playing the Paladin.

    I would say I might swap again, but I think Achievements have a LOT to do with it at this point. I have a few of the really big, grindy ones done (40 reps, 95 mounts and closing in on 100, Glory of the various raids…) and I just cannot imagine redoing them all again on a new main.

    That said, by the end of Wrath, I had raided through most of ICC with Gor (as a tree, if you’d believe that!) and with my DK as Frost DPS (oh, how I loved ultra-fast GCD lock’d proc-prone dual-wield Frost post 3.3 doing 10k on raid bosses in crap gear…!)

    Right now, I have so much fun playing my Warlock that I really really really want to raid on her, but I know where I stand in terms of my commitment to my Paladin. There’s just no room for a second main.

    I even enjoy playing Retribution a lot, but my tanking gear set is more or less cap’d with epics right now and I can’t in good conscience have the raid gear up a second tank after soaking all that gear up myself just so I can go Ret.

    But if we got into a situation, say next tier, where we have someone else who wants to tank, I’d love to swap my character to Ret, or maybe even to a Warlock if I could, say, do a paid class-change for her,

    That would make life so interesting. Can you imagine it?

  13. BTW, am I crazy, or was that picture from Kara the one where I begged you into coming because otherwise I couldn’t raid that day?

  14. My main is my druid, and has always been since I created my first NE druid. She’s now 70 (took her 3 expacs) but my 2nd druid is Ruana, my bear tank/non-tree healer. She became my main through Vanilla, TBC where I picked up tanking, Wrath, and now Cata.

    I have a priest, whom I play more actually. I was just thinking about main-swapping to my priest, but no, my druid is my main, even if she’s not getting as much play as my priest. Mainly since she’s usually the only priest in the 25-man run, so yay, spirit cloth=mine! She’s bettered geared because of such, and my druid keeps losing rolls to kitties and rogues, other tanks, or nothing drops when I play her. Sigh.

    As for personality, I haven’t ever injected any personalities into my WoW characters. They’re all different versions of me in some way.

  15. Main? Whatsamain?

    My hunter was my “main” just because it was the first character I leveled. (I’m a Wrath baby, BTW.) He saw ICC up through Professor P, then was essentially relegated to alt run status when I leveled my restokin…who is now relegated to alt run status now that I have my shadow priest. I respect the fact that leveling has been nerfed (TO THE GROOOOUND!) the way it has, but when I can level a toon from 1-85 in a month and I’m not really a raider…main? Whatsamain?

  16. Hana, my moonkin, is my main as well as my first character. Though I’ve come close to changing a time or two to my holy pally Gillien. They are both mains in certain ways, but Hana takes slight priority when there is something I want to do on both characters.

    Currently I’d say Hana is my PvE main and Gillien is my PvP main, since I never PvP on Hana if I can help it. Gillien I’ll do occasional PvE on though, just secondary to Hana.

  17. My mage is still my main in my heart, but I leveled a tank out of necessity for the guild. I like tanking well enough, but I’d still rather Frostbolt the bajesus out of internet dragons.

    I had a druid that shared tanking duties for the end of BC and all of Wrath. That was until they made some druid tanking changes I didn’t quite enjoy, so I switched up to tank with my DK. Fortunately for me, it was easy to gear-up in Wrath and I was able to get the DK up to par for the switch.

  18. I’ve written three different rambly comments, and none of them are quite right.

    Having a main drives me crazy. I want to be able to play alts at will. I’d love to be able to switch from one 85 to another. I want to tank. I want to heal.

    And then I get on my warlock, who is both me and not me at the same time, and we click. We become a symphony of destruction. She’s an extension of me.

    I can play other classes, some well. Some very well, at least at the lower levels.

    But I always come back to Cynwise.

  19. I’ve written before about how Kamalia is my One True Main. She’s my first character, was my only max-level character for a very long time, and, like others have commented, doesn’t really have a personality of her own because she’s so much an extension of myself.

    Nevertheless, I sometimes miss being a boomkin, and on Thursday nights when the ES 10 man alt run is organizing itself and always seems to be lacking either a healer or a DPS, I feel a little guilty that my Druid isn’t level 85 and raid-ready yet.

  20. Funny thing you should post this, Vid, as Quintalan dinged 85 last morning.

    I know that it may sound strange that my main was the third in line to make it to L85, but I knew that if I didn’t play Neve and Tom straight through I’d probably still have them mired in the 60s. Like I mentioned to a guildie yesterday, while I really enjoy playing Neve, Q is my identity.

    For a long time I didn’t have anything resembling a real alt; Neve was in the 20’s, as were a couple of other toons and a L5 bank alt. I only got serious about playing her when a friend joined my Horde guild and leveled a Priest. I found I liked playing a Mage, just like playing Tomakan let me discover that the Alliance wasn’t completely composed of corpse campers who hung out in Tarren Mill for fun and profit.

    However, both Neve and Tom are extensions of Q: Neve is Q’s sister who hung around with the Kirin Tor before the Third War, and Tom is the Draenei that Q used to share drinks with when taking a break from Quel’Danas duty in his Shattered Sun days.

    A main is the toon you feel most comfortable with; for some, it’s their current love, but for others, their eye never wavers.

  21. Well.

    For a long time, I didn’t have a “main”, per se, I just had a bunch of alts running around. Once I started rolling them, my first toon (a little draenei warrior named Katy) dropped by the wayside, because I was just NOT feeling warriors at the time. For a long time, my most-played characters were a pair of Belves – one a DK named Rathnait (who’d started life as a Draenei named Loreana) and one a hunter named Summer. Nait, sadly, has not levelled in some time, and is stuck in Dragonsblight. Summer had many plateaus – at about 30, again at about 45, at 59, and then at 62, where she got stuck when Cata hit and the new hunter changes were so very confusing for me. She’s since made it to 67 and I hope to have her in Northrend soon.

    Then it was Aislinn, my Nelf DK, who was my very first toon to 80 (and is now a Gnome named Apple). And only scant months after Ais hit 80 in a month and a half of frantic (for me) levelling, Lisan came along and swept me off my feet. She’s the second toon I’ve ever levelled to 80, the only toon I’ve levelled to 85, and the only toon I’ve actually raided on. She has the title I’ve dreamed of having basically since Ulduar was released, and she is… well, while she has her own story, she is also the character who is my metaphorical face and voice in Azeroth.

    I thought of making my druid Mollie my “main”, when I rolled her after Cata hit, and that was my intention for a good long while, but she is level 40 and I can’t find the interest in taking her further. I have, however, rolled up a Dwarf warrior, Hadewig, who has gotten quite a bit of love lately.

    Lis will always be my “main”, in a sense, but it remains to be seen which of my alts will end up being the one I try (probably badly) to attack endgame content with. Unless I fall more in love with my disc priest (which, while I love her, I don’t feel the urge to raid on her), it’ll probably be a DPS class. Considering how much I loved healing, this is a bit of a surprise, but… one can’t CHOOSE whom one loves, I suppose. 😉 My bets are on Haddie, just because Summer is not likely to ever be somewhere I’d want to raid.

  22. I loved my shadow priest, Chmelyk who was my main from Vanilla till ICC Saurfang Deathbringer. We we’re stuck on him for weeks because we just couldn’t get the bloodbeasts under control. I thought I would bring in my Shaman, Anslym, who I recently levelled and geared up in ToC. After a few attempts at Saurfang on my shaman we downed him, and I fell in love. Ever since then I know my shaman will probably be my main till forever and always but my priest still holds a special place with me because after all, he is my first. And everyone knows you never forget your first . . . wait . . . . . 😛

  23. Gameldar said:

    I’ve switched mains a couple of times now – hunter to warrior, warrior to paladin (this happened with a tier change – it’s again a gear reset).

    Come cataclysm I was really torn as to what I should level and make my main. And the plan was to be a 1 toon player. After much too-ing and fro-ing I settled to stay with my paladin as my main.

    However the 1 toon side of things has fallen by the wayside. I’ve leveled my bearkin (boombear?) up to level 85 now and have geared him up as well and I’ve been enjoying him – enough to make me consider switching (less gear competition in raids for example). Then I had moments like last week where I was pugging Argoloth and the guy organising it somehow ended up with 3 tanks… so I switched to DPS and did well and enjoyed it and resparked the energy in playing my paladin.

    I’ve really enjoyed playing the bear – and particularly having a ranged DPS offspec – it’s been super easy to gear up (the BoE epics are cheaper and better itemised – and have less overlap with the reputation rewards). However I must admit… tanking on a bear just makes me want to switch back to tanking on my warrior again.

    My warrior is my ‘real’ main – it’s my namesake and my first tank. I now generally get referred to by my paladin’s name – but there are a few that still hang on to the old times and name me correctly… so I’m back tanking on my Paladin to get chaos orbs so I can craft up a storm and finish the leveling of my warrior… I’m not looking forward to the reputation grinds again… but I’m hoping it’ll be a little easier as (in general) – I’ve been finding heroics easier as others are more geared up and have a bit more of a clue. So we’ll see if I make a switch again…

  24. I had one, same main and no alt worth mentioning from the WoW beta until February 2011. never switched class, never switched spec, switched race once for 1 month out of utter boredom before switching back to my old self, switched hair dues often. 😉

  25. […] been working on my various collections lately. Due to my history with changing mains, my achievement hunting has been hindered in some regards. For example, I started collecting pets […]

  26. Belated comment, sorry! But I missed this post before and I just wanted to add that in an ideal world, I would be playing a Draenei Death Knight called Jaedia on a nice, and medium/high population server and I would transfer all mounts and pets to her from both Hunters, my Priest, and my Paladin (my Paladin has the Essence of Competition and my other Hunter has the Scorchling, the other 2 speak for themselves), whilst playing her in a busy-ish but friendly social guild who occasionally do casual raids, dungeons, arenas and battlegrounds, oh, RP server, and RP events! Ideal worlds /le sigh ^^

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