What Completes You?

I am a hopeless completionist.  I admit this freely.

When I start a character, I am driven by an irrational need to “complete” that character before I shelve it.  Even if I don’t particularly enjoy the playstyle or talents of a given class, once I’ve committed myself, I know I won’t stop until that character is complete.  By the mid-60s I may already know that the character doesn’t stand a chance of becoming my new main, but that doesn’t stop me.

But what is “complete”?  For my WotLK characters, that includes:

  • Level 80
  • Loremaster of Northrend
  • Epic flying
  • Crafting skills to 440
  • Gathering skills to 450
  • Honoured with Sons of Hodir
  • A champion of my home city in the Argent Tournament

Basically, I want to know that if I came back to this character after a long break, I’d be comfortable picking it up and making it my new main without having an arduous leveling process ahead of me.

I did this with my US characters – when I left for the EU they were mostly at the TBC equivalents of the above criteria.  When I decided to come back and level them up, it wasn’t terribly difficult to do.

The additional cash outlay required for WotLK is pretty small (1000g for cold weather flying), and easily earned while leveling, so I didn’t feel like I had that much of a grind for any given character.  You can get Sons of Hodir to honoured in 6 days of dailies, and it only takes 7 days to become a champion at the tournament.  With my play schedule, it takes at least a week of daily play to get from 77 (when most of these open up) to 80, so I never reach a point where I am only doing dailies.  I just tack each on to the start and end of my playtime so that it doesn’t feel that much like work.

I know that many readers (well, the theoretical “many” readers, as there are all of two subscribers to this blog) will read the above and think that it looks more like a checklist for a main character.  But as I said, I’m a hopeless completionist.  You don’t want to see what lengths I go to on my main.

Applying this to Guild Management

How far do you take your characters  before they feel “complete”?  More importantly how far do your guild members take them?  How can a guild leader use this information for the benefit of the guild?

It’s important to have a feel for what drives your members.  Do they put all of their energy into one character, or spread it evenly among many?  If you know that you have a large number of members who go tradeskill-crazy on their alts, you may help your retention rates by having a “free-for-all” guild bank tab where people can swap unneeded low-level tradeskill items.

Using your Guild Alts Wisely

If helping your members with their alt ambitions isn’t feasible, then ensuring that your policies allow for people to use the time they’ve put into alts for the benefit of the guild.  Many alts start off because there is a hole in a raiding group’s class balance.  It is a shame to see someone put the time into levelling an alt, only to have no opportunity to get that character to a raid-ready state.  Although the introduction of dual-spec has helped, it hasn’t eliminated raid balance issues entirely.  If you have alts who are a few Naxx runs away from being able to step into your main raids if required, shouldn’t you be cultivating those characters?

Doing an “alt run” through farm content is a fairly common guild activity, but as anyone who’s attended one should know, replacing all your pimped out mains with alts can be a disasterous and morale-sucking experience.  Skill goes a long way, but it can’t compensate for very low gear levels.  Instead of scheduling a run with all alts, consider setting aside a few slots in every farm raid for alts.  Have members take turns from week to week, and set basic gear minimums that they need to reach on their own.  Don’t have all your tanks or healers be alts at the same time.  Offer gear for alts on the cheap (a small percentage of GP or DKP, or just do /roll if no main want the gear).

Avoid the trap of thinking that you’re giving away free loot to these members.  By making alts a regular part of your farm raids, you are:

  • ensuring that you keep farming bosses instead of wiping on content you cleared months ago
  • making sure that you have characters ready in the wings should you lose a raider and need to replace their role
  • ensuring that your guild members who are getting into the burnout phase on their main can still do content that rewards high-level loot (instead of being limited to the best crafted / casual / PvP gear)

Above all, you’re recognizing that altaholism and completionists are a common train among MMO players, and that you can get much more out of embracing these qualities than fighting them back with a “do that on your own time” attitude.

And that should make for happy and complete members, which means a happy and complete guild.

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