Why alts shouldn’t be a part of your raids

If you spend enough time raiding as a guild, there will eventually come a point where one of your raiders wants to bring an alt out on raid night. Maybe the perception is that the alt would be filling an important gap in terms of class and/or role. Perhaps people don’t need any more loot on their mains, and figure that gearing up an alt is better than sharding everything. Or maybe the desire to play alts simply comes from boredom. Whatever the reason, this dwarf firmly believes that in nearly every case, alts shouldn’t be allowed in your guild’s main raid group if you’re serious about progression. Read on to discover why.

First let’s take a look at the main reasons why alts can be poison to your raid group:

  • Alts are very likely to be underskilled. By definition, people don’t play their alts as much as they play their mains – thus, they’re much less likely to know how to play an alt competently. The majority of WoW players have their hands full keeping up with the optimal  play strategy for their main character, let alone multiple characters. WoW does little to teach proper class play during the leveling process, so oftentimes people playing alts simply have no idea what they’re doing. A person raiding as an alt for the first time will also be unlikely to completely understand their responsibilities on each boss encounter (especially if they’re switching into a tanking or healing role), leading to additional time spent giving instructions and increased chance for failure.
  • Alts are undergeared compared to the rest of your raid. This one almost goes without saying – alts will likely be at least one full gear tier behind the rest of the raid, possibly more. Even in the hands of the rare player that can play multiple classes to their full potential, an alt will still likely have a significant handicap when it comes to stat points and health/mana pools due to the gear deficit.
  • Alts are a black hole for loot. Whatever loot goes to an alt might as well have not dropped at all, as far as the rest of the raid is concerned. A person cannot play both their main and alt at the same time, so by allowing alts, you’re simply ensuring that a portion of the gear that drops will go to characters that won’t be present on future raids. Even if the loot would have been disenchanted, a shard is still a tangible benefit to the raid (albeit a small one) – it can be used to help defray raiding costs (see my article on guildbank-subsidized raiding), or be awarded to somebody to help with an enchant.
  • An alt in your raid means that somebody isn’t practicing with their main. Even on farm nights where nobody gets an upgrade, your raiders still get the benefit of sharpening their skills through practice. If you log your raids, you’ve undoubtedly noticed that people tend to perform better over time, even if their gear isn’t improving. Constant practice on the same character leads to players that can focus on encounters, instead of their class mechanics. People that are constantly playing alts are much less likely to develop into top-caliber raiders.
  • Alts tend to be drama magnets. The reality is that there will likely be some people in your raid that aren’t happy about dragging an alt through a raid (for one of the reasons above, or simply because they don’t want to carry a character to free loot), regardless of circumstances – even if they’re not vocal about it. And as soon as you allow one person to play their alt, you can bet that others will want the same treatment.

Hopefully that is enough to convince you that there are significant downsides to allowing alts in your raids. However, there may be times when you feel that the only alternative to not accepting alts into your raid is to cancel the raid altogether. Maybe you only have two regular tanks on your 10-man raid team, and one of them can’t make it tonight. One of your rogues offered to play his warrior alt to fill the tanking spot. Seems harmless enough, right?

Before you accept, you should consider your other options. I believe that the best one is to ask your regular raiders if somebody would be willing to respec their main for the night to fill the tanking role. Having somebody’s main character fill a new role is usually much better than bringing in an alt for one night for a few reasons: right off the bat, it completely eliminates the “loot black hole” issue that I mentioned above, and it doesn’t open the door to alt drama. In addition, on fights that only require one tank, your raid isn’t handicapped at all – your offspec tank can simply go back to their usual role. Finally, if you’re utilizing a regular raider’s offspec, odds are that they already have a bunch of high-level raiding gear for the job, which is generally much better than what an alt will have.

If nobody in your core raiding group is willing or able to respec for the night, then you may want to consider asking a friend from outside the guild (or even finding a complete stranger) to fill the spot. Just make sure to do your homework – if you’re able to find a willing participant with a raid progression that roughly matches (or exceeds) your own group’s, then you can be relatively assured that they’re capable of doing the job. Sure, in some ways this is no better than having an alt fill the spot, but at the very least, you’re preventing the drama issues and don’t have to worry about other people feeling entitled to bring their alts to raids in the future.

If you’ve exhausted all of your options and are legitimately at the point where your only option is to either accept an alt or cancel the raid, then you need to weigh the potential drawbacks that I’ve outlined above against missing a night of raiding. Sometimes it is better to cancel, especially if you’re in progression mode and suspect that being handicapped with an alt is just going to cause your group to wipe for the entire night. On the other hand, if you know that the person playing the alt is capable, and you have a relatively mature group of raiders that understand you’re only allowing an alt to prevent a cancellation, then you might be able to get away with it once in awhile.

3 comments to Why alts shouldn’t be a part of your raids

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  • Grim

    Be serious, this game is supposed to be fun. If you are farming the same bosses again and again that’s the reason you bring alts so that you can spread the drop wealth aaround, have someone learn the fight on a different toon. To say you would rather shard a drop to get a “raider” an enchant rather than allow an Alt to get the gear piece is absurd. You should be able to make enough gold to remain in the best enchanted gear at all times. You take this raiding way too seriously and that attitude is the reason the game is declining in popularity.

  • Falkien

    Great blog, keep it up! Waiting to see you back in MOP!