What Makes a Main?

(or Why There Are Distressingly Few Dwarves Mentioned In Dwarven Battle Medic)

I imagine that anyone who is reading this blog with any regularity has noticed that it has a very distinct Holy Paladin slant to it and that there seems to be a decided lack of Dwarves around.  Oh sure, there is a picture of a Dwarf in a dress at the top, and a nice shot of Ironforge in the background, but the Dwarven Battle Medic seems to talk an awful lot about Human Paladins, doesn’t he?

So where the hell are all the Dwarves?

The answer is simple enough:  My main character is Thosif, the Human Holy Paladin.  Fannon the Dwarf Priest is an Alt.  This blog and I are named after an Alt. 

This really brings up an interesting question:  How do you define “Main” or “Alt”?  What criteria do you use to define who your main is?  Is there a difference between your Main Character and the Character that you personally identify with or are identified by?  This question was asked recently by the lovely and talented Endyme of (Un)Holy Randomness and is one of those philosophizing topics that I find endlessly fascinating.

(or My Definition Of A Maintastic Play Style)

Every person is different, of course, and you would likely find that there are as many answers to this question as there are World of Warcraft players.  The only thing that twelve million WOW subscribers have ever agreed on is that THEIR class is underpowered and YOURS is overpowered and should be nerfed.  Of course that is untrue -- except in the case of Holy Paladins, who are clearly underpowered and should be buffed. 

My definition of a “Main” is the one character that, above all others, dominates your thoughts.  It is defined by passion.  It is the character that you speak of first when someone asks you “What do you play?”  It is the character that you log onto first when the new content drops.  It was the character that you were most excited to level to 85 in Cataclysm.  More than likely it is the character that you want to raid with, if you’re a raider.  It is, simply, the character that you are excited about and want to play when you sit down at your computer after a long day at work.

Who did you log onto first on December 7th?  Odds are that’s your main.

Mains can change over time, and there are as many reasons as there are people playing.  Interests change:  You may be bored of tanking and want to try damage or healing, you may become enamoured with a different class’s playstyle, or perhaps you created a new character of a different race that has caught your imagination.  There is no way to know what factor will come into play that will cause you to emotionally switch from one Main to another.

There is also a difference between your Main Character and the character that you are identified by.  I go by the name Fannon because that was my Main when I joined Shadowgarde and it’s the name that I have chosen to identify myself by in the blogosphere as well.  The name you go by can change over time as you meet new people who only know you by your new Main’s name.

Of course, emotional attachments run deep and sometimes it is hard to let go of an old main.  Many times the player will be the last person to realize that their main has switched or only realize it long after the emotional switch.  When I declared my new main on the Shadowgarde forums it was a case of “We know” and “about time you admitted it”.  Sometimes you have to just realize that it’s OK to switch Mains.  (Really, Endy, it’s OK).

It is this emotional attachment that led me to naming this blog Dwarven Battle Medic even though my new main is a human. 

(or Captain Obvious Visits Obviousland)

An Alt then is straightforwardly defined as any character that isn’t your main.  People will have Alts for many different reasons; banking, trade skills, PVP, different roles or play-styles.  Sometimes people will have a separate account so they can play two characters at once.  Some people will have an army of Alts with multiple max-level characters while others will have a stable of lowbie characters so that they can experience different things.

Really, there are no rules when it comes to Alts.  Alts are there to fulfill the player’s desire for variety or provide access to something that their main can’t do.

(or Where The Hell Did The Last Two-And-A-Half Years Go?)

I rolled several different characters (including Thosif) before I finally rolled one that resonated with me enough to finally, truly call my Main Character.  This was Fannon.  I rolled my priest so that I could play with my nephew and was so enthralled by the play-style that he became my first level 80.  He was the first toon that I did dungeons with, the first character that I took on a raid, and the first toon that I took through Icecrown Citadel, going 11/12.  It was through my Dwarf Priest that I learned how much I enjoyed healing and Sindragosa 10, my most satisfying boss kill to date, was done on him.  I joined my guild during this time and so I, of course, became known to them as “Fannon”.  By other names too, but those aren’t appropriate for polite blogging.

In what is likely to seem a familiar story, during Wrath I dabbled with other characters to try and experience everything this game has to offer.  Thosif, who I had created very early on but had let languish for a year at level 19, finally caught my eye and I decided to level him to 85.  I was originally going to level him as a tank since I already had my healer, but a guildie was levelling a Protection Warrior at the same time, so I decided to respec Holy so we could run dungeons together.  The first dungeon I ran as a Holy Paladin was a revelation.  The Paladin healing style was far more simplistic than a Holy or Discipline priest, but incredibly and fantastically fun.

I was still raiding with Fannon at this time; steadily progressing his gear through ICC 10 and 25-man raids, but when I got home from work at night, the first thing I wanted to do was play on my Paladin.  I blitzed through Outlands and Northrend to get to the level cap and jumped into heroics to start gearing up.  Meanwhile, I was discovering and devouring every Paladin blog on the internet to learn how to best play him.  The Priest was more and more becoming an afterthought. 

The exact moment when Thosif became my Main is unclear, and I certainly didn’t recognize it at the time.  At some point I started asking for my somewhat undergeared Paladin to be included in our ICC runs.  Oh, it was just Alt runs at first, of course, but soon I wanted to bring him into our progression runs as well instead of the Priest.  It was Fannon who got Sindragosa down for the first time, but it was Thosif that killed the Lich King.  It was in between those two events (which sadly happened a long time apart) that my Main switched, at least emotionally.

When Cataclysm dropped, I couldn’t wait to log onto Thosif and start levelling.  Fannon is still sitting in Ironforge in 251 epics collecting the Rested XP bonus at level 80.

(or I Can’t Believe You Read This Far.  Seriously.)

I would like to offer a bit of an apology to anyone who made it this far.  One thing I wanted to avoid with this blog is a lot of pie-eyed ramblings about my characters and what they had for breakfast that day.  I know a lot of people don’t find that kind of thing interesting, so I try to avoid it wherever I can.  In this case, however, I thought a little history of my own experience with the Main-change would be relevant.  I hope you found it interesting at least.

How do you define your Main?  Have you ever changed your Main?  If so, at what point did you realise that it had changed, or was it a conscious choice?


  1. This is a great topic. I've addressed it a couple of times on my own blog, but basically, Kurn is my main. I do damn near everything on Kurn FIRST. Except raid. I ding Kurn to the level cap first. I level my professions on Kurn first. Kurn is the guild leader of my guild.

    But I raid on my paladin. My paladin was rolled second, as an alt. It was my intent for her to be an alt. But I did fall in love with healing and I have just a few more days /played on the paladin than on Kurn.

    My paladin is my main raiding toon, because I do all my content with her, and Kurn sneaks in here or there or gets geared up slowly, but surely, through dungeons and the like.

    But Kurn is who got epic flight first. Kurn is who I identify as and insist people in my guild call me, although there are an alarming number of people currently in my guild who never knew me as Kurn, but rather as my paladin. :)

    I recently likened it to Superman and Clark Kent. Clark is the personality, Superman is what he can do with his abilities. For me, Kurn is the personality, and the paladin is what I can do with my abilities.

    It'd probably be easier on so many levels to call the paladin my main, but that doesn't ring true. So I have a main toon and a main raiding toon. :)

  2. I'm just the opposite of Kurn. Whoever is my main raiding character is my main. I've changed mains a number of times over the years, but the thing that always remains the same is that a main change is precipitated by a guild change :)

    If I could get a stable guild one of these days, it might be the end of new mains!

  3. I rolled Rioriel (nelf rogue) when TBC went live and gave birth to the server I play on and never looked back. It took me two years or so to even consider another character; after all, there's just SO MUCH to see and do.

    I still get it now, four years on. I'm happy pottering about the world on Rio not really doing anything - and archaeology now fills that time - as I feel he HAS to achieve everything and get the shinies, titles, rewards and kudos. Broke my heart when Anzu dropped for my druid on her first run there (and won it).

    I doubt anyone outside of my guild could tell you the name of any of my 9 alts, but 90% of the realm forum users know who "Rioriel" is.

    I did have a headdesk DOH moment when it dawned on me that I'd kinda like to be self-sufficient with professions so worked on that during the rather dull end-of-wrath and leveled 3 other toons to 80. Two of those are 83 now, slowly getting there, but while there's always something that NEEDS doing on Rio... that's what I'm doing. My definition of NEED will often include /loving critters or bouncing on trampolines, etc.

    Wouldn't have it any other way.

  4. "Many times the player will be the last person to realize that their main has switched or only realize it long after the emotional switch. When I declared my new main on the Shadowgarde forums it was a case of “We know” and “about time you admitted it”. Sometimes you have to just realize that it’s OK to switch Mains."

    Word. When I made a post on my blog about how I think I like my priest better than my main, a friend IRL/guildmate said, "Took you long enough to admit that." It's something my brain knows, but my heart is having a harder time with. Endy has been my main forEVER and there's never been a doubt in my mind she's my main gal. Letting her go has been harder than almost anything. Even the decision to switch servers wasn't THIS hard. But Lirwyn (the priest) came along and it was a new way of healing, fun, different and I really loved logging on her. I chose to level her first in Cataclysm, and yes, she is usually who I log into first. So for right now, Lirwyn is my main (there, I said it....*cry*). Things may swing back the other way once Endy hits 85, but one never knows.

    "There is also a difference between your Main Character and the character that you are identified by."

    Again, word. I had a guildie ask me just the other night if it was okay that he's still calling me Endy, and of course it is. That's the name I feel connected with in WoW. It's the name connected to my blog. It's more than fine by me to be called that even if I'm not playing her as a main. I've had guildies before switch characters and we still call them by names of previous characters. Heck, the guildie that's a RL friend is reeeally confusing, cause people call her by about 3 different names at any given time and I know her real name, so I never know what to call her....

  5. @Kurn: Honestly, as a long time reader of your blog I was really surprised to hear that “Kurn” wasn’t a Paladin. The Night Elf in your banner was always a little confusing, but I never really gave it all that much though considering the content of your blog is just so good.

    It’s personally very gratifying to see that you have read the blog, Kurn. Commenting on Kurn’s Corner is what got me thinking that I should start my own.

    @Windsoar: Yeah, finding a guild can turn into a long term home is always hard. I’ve been through a bunch of them until I finally found one that feels right. I think I would find it very hard to change my main based on the needs of the guild due to the emotional attachment I have to my mains. For example, in the latter days of ICC I was asked to bring my Priest on Lich King attempts (we needed bubbles), and while I did it, I did it reluctantly because in my heart my Main was already my Paladin and I really wanted that kill for him.

    Thank you for the tweet, btw! That made my day!

    @Riorel: I started this game late, logging on the first time just before BC ended, so I know what you mean regarding “SO MUCH to see and do”. All of the ‘Bucket List’ type things that I did before Cataclysm were done on my Paladin, which was just one more thing that cemented him as my new Main.

    @Endy: Yes, I probably should have included something about denial in that post to truly cover your particular situation. :) I think you and I think about our characters in very similar ways, and I definitely had you in mind when I was writing the “Emotional Attachment” aspect of the post. Actually, what interests me most is how you and I are both going through the same thing, but in exactly opposite directions. Me from Priest to Pally, and you the other way around.

    Anyway, I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for the inspiration!