I was having trouble figuring out what exactly I wanted to write about today. I worked on some drafts for some future articles, but that started going nowhere. So today, I decided to write about main swapping.
Main swapping is something I have a lot of experience with. I started raiding on my hunter, then moved to my prot warrior, then warlock, then back to prot warrior, then resto shaman, then holy paladin, then back to warlock. There was never a skill bridge to pass when I moved from one character to the other because I had always maintained the next as my alt. Today I sit on my warlock main and nine level 85 alts fully understanding all aspects and specifications of every specialization presented by them.
In this article I want to discuss three things: Why Main Swap, When to Main Swap and How to Main Swap
Point #1: Why Main Swap
It’s never an easy thing to ‘main swap.’ Your old character has a defining character for you. After a main swap you go from one role which everyone in the guild knew you for to one where your talents are going to be in doubt. This makes main swapping very unappealing and something that will want to be avoided at all costs.
There are a number of good reasons to main swap and any of them should be considered legitimate when you are doing. The worst reason to main swap is specifically because your guild wants you to. Main swapping for “progression” can at first seem like a valiant act, but in the end it can be one that will hurt you and eventually the guild.
If the guild needs you to come on your tank instead of your DPS for one or two fights, that’s one thing. But if your guild wants your tank over your DPS because they’re not even trying to recruit, well that’s something. Using an alt in a main raid to fulfill what would normally be a mains role.
I always say that I will do anything for my guild in the name of progression, but honestly it has it’s limits. If my guild wants me to switch to my hunter or my rogue for progression, I won’t do it. These are the only two classes in the game I cannot stand to play because they honestly feel (and have always felt) very faceroll to me. There is simply nothing to these classes that will appeal to me. However if I was asked to play any of the other eight classes, of course I would do it.
Simply put, progression is not a good enough reason for a full main swap. If you are doing a full main swap (for progression) you have to be doing it for every single boss and this means in the end you are just filling a gap in the guild that can be recruited. If you just want to progress you can bring your alt in to kill some bosses until they can find a suitable replacement for whatever you are doing.
Another poor reason for main swapping is because your main is fully geared. I’ve had a lot of guild masters who will relentlessly try to bring their alts into the raid. Even ones who have main swapped “for the guild” always have this feeling that they want to bring their old mains into the raid in order to keep it as geared as everyone else in the guild. Once your main is fully geared, great. Now help all your guild mates out to get fully geared. If everyone is fully geared well, then it’s time for alt runs isn’t it? Everyone in the guild helped you gear up your old main and now you’re bringing in a new character specifically for gear. Can you see how that might be taken poorly?
A good reason to main swap is because you find your current role/class in the raid boring and want something more challenging or far more interesting. I can fully understand why someone might want to switch from a healer/tank to DPS or even from a hunter/rogue to anything else. Although a lot of the time it may seem like healer/tank are hard they end up being insanely easy and very boring. The only thing they have is high responsibility…. but not really a high skill cap that keeps you interested.
Another good reason to main swap is because you want more responsibility in the raid. Sometimes it can be pretty underwhelming to sit there and just DPS almost the same for each boss as if your efforts didn’t matter so much to each kill. Healers are assigned specific tasks and if they succeed in their task they know immediately that they did their part in the kill. Tanks often have to time cooldowns, interrupts bosses, kite, and do things. Like I said before, the skill cap on either of these is quite low… however the reward and respect for doing either of them is unfathomably high.
In the end you will main swap successfully if you are doing it for something that is long term. If you’re a great mage but you’re struggling on your disc priest, why would you even consider making that switch? A main trade that is good for the guild and good for you will always work out. One that is selfish or has no motivation behind it will always fail.
2. When and How to Switch
And on that note it is important to note that timing is an important aspect of the failure of your main switch.
Think of it from the perspective of your guild master. Your guild master will almost always never want you to switch mains. If your guild master is asking you to play a specific character it means either he/she will feel you play that character better than any other option or… he/she is in severe desperate need of someone to fulfill that role.
Maybe you don’t want to main swap. So maybe he’ll bring in your alt for the fights where it’s needed until they can find a replacement, that’s fine. You just have to be clear that this isn’t a permanent situation.
On the other hand he might want this new toon as your main. Problem is your main is needed for all this other stuff. Main swapping immediately is probably not a viable option. You will probably need to slowly start giving your duties on fights to other people.
When I was switching from warlock to warrior the full on change was actually impossible.our main problem was that other people could not do the drakes on Kil’jaeden. So every week I’d clear to M’uru and then when we got to Kil’jaeden I’d get on my lock. The actual switch didn’t take place until 3.0 came live.
Your situation won’t be as extreme as mine (moving from guild’s top DPS to guild’s main tank). Obviously these days buffs/debuffs and abilities are brought by lot more classes so as long as people can actually do the job you will be free.
If anything you can get from this it is always best to main swap at the beginning or at the end of content pushes. At the beginning of content your guild has not felt the impact of you being in the raid so they cannot assign you a role or a duty on fights. They also will not have geared you up yet for later content.
On the flip side at the end of a content push all the work has been done. If you want to switch then you are free to do so.
However there’s a pretty major difference in switching before and after a content push. Before a content push you should be as geared as everyone else in the raid. However your performance will have to be of the highest caliber. Basically they should not be able to blame wipes on you.
When you main swap later on of course you’re going to cause wipes, it’s going to be expected, it’ll be an adjustment. However you will want to be decently geared so that you are as little of an inconvenience as possible. Bringing in a blued geared player will not suffice for heroic dungeons.
Main swapping is not free gear. It is an investment in work in hopes that after the fact you will enjoy it more.