What’s In A Main?
This is a story about my warlock.
More accurately, this is a story about my two warlocks. Back on my first server, my gnome warlock was the second character I ever created. (The first was a druid, who couldn’t make it past that difficult period in druid history when we had to tough it out through getting bear form at level 10 and cat form at level 20. I still have nightmares of Darkshore.) The warlock was the first character I felt like I understood, and the first one that made me think I might ever figure out what was happening in the big, complicated world of Azeroth. She was my first “main” in the sense that I played her the most, and other people identified me with her and called me by her name.
I’ve been through two more mains since that time. My death knight tank was my first main on my current server, and my druid followed about midway through WotLK. While some aspects of my definition of “main” haven’t changed in that time, there’s one thing that’s just blatantly not true anymore: I don’t spend the majority of my WoW time on my “main.”
Tzufit is, indisputably, my main. She’s the character I log on to first when we get a new patch, or the one who is leveled first when new expansions come out. It’s the druid class changes I read first every time we see patch notes or other announcements. Her gear is the gear I obsess over, the gear I make wish lists for, the gear that I cannot log out for the night if it’s not properly gemmed / reforged / enchanted. She is the character who holds an officer position in my guild, and her name is the name all of you know me by – as does the majority of my guild. I can play her without thinking about it – I know her key and mouse binds like the back of my hand. And now that we can finally arrange our character log on screens as we see fit, Tzufit is the toon who holds the rightful place at the top of the list.
Yet, I only play Tzufit about 2-3 nights a week. I log on to her when it’s time to work on progression raiding, or when I need one last heroic to cap my Valor points. If I’m not feeling lazy, I might even get on long enough to do her jewelcrafting daily. It’s a trend that only gets worse as an expansion winds down. Because we know there’s not another raid tier coming for a long while now, I’ll spend more time taking alts to Dragon Soul runs either to help get some more guildmates all the way through the encounter or just for the fun of getting to see the fights from another class’ perspective.
In contrast, I spend a lot of time on my alts during the course of the week. The reason why is pretty simple – alts have very clear goals for improvement and those goals are often things that can be completed solo. Getting an alt from starter 85 gear all the way up to pre-raid 378s is a pretty satisfying thing, and something you can accomplish in only a week or so if you’re focused on it. Of course, the problem with all this is that most of the fun is in the challenge of getting the upgrades, so that once the character is “finished” (i.e. raid ready) you’re left with nothing for them to do. Vidyala wrote about the problems with alting over the summer, and as I try to figure out how I’ll spend my WoW time for the remainder of this expansion I’ve found that I can’t get her post out of my mind:
I’ve geared alts to the teeth only to completely abandon them once they no longer “needed” anything, having hardly used the gear at all. I just like the completeness of it.
This is exactly what happens to me on the majority of my alts. Sure, I “use” the gear somewhat since my alt healers especially get called in to help heal guild runs. But the strange part is that even though getting the character ready to raid is the point of all that gear grinding, I don’t know that I really enjoy raiding on my other healers. I like the idea of it and I like getting to see the fight as a priest or a shaman, but that fun usually wears off after the first run or so. Healing on my alts feels more like a chore or a responsibility than it does the challenge of healing progression on my druid. No wonder it doesn’t have much appeal.
But I promised you a story about my warlock(s).
Not long after Tzufit became my main, I had enough time on my hands to finally get what I needed to purchase my first heirloom piece. It was the Exquisite Sunderseer Mantle, and I sent it off to my warlock on my new server. I didn’t transfer the original toon on the off chance that I might return to my old server to play with my friends there. I went about leveling my second warlock in much the same way that I did my first. I spent a lot of time questing and a good deal of time PvPing (this time around the PvP actually granted experience), and the Pink Kitty leveled his gnome mage alongside my warlock.
In Wrath, my warlock was really my primary alt. She was the character who went to the ICC runs late into the tier, and I could pull higher DPS with her than I could ever hope to touch with Tzufit’s balance spec. Since Cataclysm, I think the warlock has stepped into one Firelands run and that was only because our guild leader needed warm bodies. I’d left her wallowing in a mix of 333 and 346 blues until this past week, and I felt a little badly about it.
My warlock isn’t my main … but it’s also not that simple. My warlock is named “Maden” (no, not as a misspelling of the football announcer’s name, nor is it pronounced that way), which was a nickname given to me by my best friend in college. She is, in effect, named after me. She was a character who, when I RPed, I RPed regularly because I loved her personality. I’ve written before about why I love RPing gnomes, and Maden was no exception. I loved the idea of a gnome warlock – it seemed like the best kind of walking contradiction. Maden was a retired Dalaran professor who had been married 7 times (each husband suffered an unlucky fate) and who currently made a living by telling fortunes in the taverns throughout Stormwind and Ironforge. She was a liar, a hack, and possibly a murderess – and I absolutely adored RPing her.
So to see her shelved for an entire expansion has been annoying. In the last week or so, I’ve finally gotten around to playing her again and replacing all those leveling blues. I’ve also spent more time than I care to admit working on archaeology over the last few days because I desperately want her to finally be able to actually have a “Professor” title in game. Maden has been given a chance to raid thanks to the Raid Finder tool, which is pretty exciting for me because I doubt she’d have much of a chance to get into any of our guild runs (as I’m always needed on a healer).
I’ve found myself spending nearly all my free time on her lately. I hang out at the training dummies to make sure I have my Affliction rotation down. I fly around on her magic carpet looking for digsites, and praying for rare finds. I soloed a few BC heroics just to see if I could. I gave her the single greatest transmogrification outfit* my limited mind will ever be able to come up with. With Maden, I find myself just wandering around Azeroth looking for new things to do. I’ve loved every moment of it.
All this warlock fun has reminded me that the line between “main” and “alt” is maybe not as crystal clear as I’d like to believe. Maden isn’t my main; Tzufit is. Yet a part of me realizes that’s not the end of the story.