3 Proper Steps to Switching Mains

Throughout my tenure as GM, I’ve had to address a variety of challenging situations. One of the questions that GMs will undoubtedly face in their reign is the topic of switching mains.

Allow me to provide a scenario.

BarryManaLow is an Arcane Mage. He’s one of the main staples in the DPS lineup. Barry routinely comes in consistently as top 5. For his efforts, the council of Elrandom rewards him with the items necessary to contribute.

And then it happens.

Tragedy strikes.

Barry needs to take a 3 week leave of absence. Let’s say he’s got some real life issues and it’s the time of year where school exams are going to strike and he needs to focus and get it out of the way. He’s also getting slightly bored with the game and wants to recharge a little.

The boss signs off on it and brings a call up from the lower ranks to substitute in for good ol’ Barry. MissilesMcGee does an admirable job. He’s not quite top 5, but he’s coming in at a respectable top 10 placement.

Fast forward 3 weeks and Barry returns from leave. He discloses that he wants to switch mains. He’s not satisfied or happy playing on his mage. Barry has an alt Death Knight that he’d like to raid with instead.

Now it’s perfectly normal for any GM to be annoyed at this point. After all, you’ve spent time gearing the player up only to find that gear is going to go to waste and isn’t going to be contributing anymore.

So before you flip out and completely lose your cool, stop for a moment and breathe.

Step 1: Determine if there is a need

Is there a current need in the guild that needs to be fulfilled? Are you missing a tank or a melee DPS? Maybe you’re low on a healers. At this time, Conquest was lacking a solid third tank. We knew we would need one heading into the recent patch and we were doing what we could to find potential players to come in. Not many players responded because they didn’t meet our tanking requirements or just couldn’t fit our raiding schedule.

Barry provided an alternative as a Death Knight tank. He already knew the fights and our procedures. That solved that question. Chemistry wouldn’t be an issue since he knew how the guild operated. We wouldn’t have to worry about his in game smarts. This would bring up two more concerns.

Step 2: Can she hold her own?

Does the player demonstrate that they know what the heck they’re doing? If I were to switch from healing to tanking, I’d fail pretty hard at it because I wouldn’t know what the heck to do. When dealing with main switches, find out if the player has done the job before. An agreement was made where Barry had to work his way through a few lower level raids to prove his ability to tank.

You can think of it as a modified trial run. After all, Barry was re-applying to the guild with a new character after all.

Step 3: Is their gear on par with the content we’re doing?

Bite back the urge to say gear doesn’t matter.

Because when you’re a tank, it does. A Naxx level tank is going to have a tough time working on Trial of the Grand Crusader. I stipulated to Barry that if he wanted to get into our raids, he’d have to work on gear himself which meant pugging what raids he could and crafting any other pieces necessary. Emblems of Conquest allowed him to purchase items he didn’t win from pickup groups. The condition was that Barry had to bring his own character up to an acceptable raiding standard before we’d insert him into our primary lineup.

And he did. He got into as many heroics as he could to farm badges. He transferred money to purchase mats to craft tanking items and augments.

After about 3 weeks of solid gear acquisition, Barry was ready to rock. We gradually threw him in our 10 mans and kept a close eye on him before bumping him up to the 25s. He’s just about ready to tackle Trial of the Grand Crusader.

Final thoughts

There’s nothing inherently wrong with main switching. Players do get bored from time to time or maybe they undergo the grass-is-greener complex. View this as an opportunity for them contribute in a different capacity. To raiders, there’s nothing wrong with switching mains as long as long as you keep these 3 things in mind:

  • See if the guild has a need: If they don’t, you’re going to have to leave and go elsewhere. If the guild has 9 healers to select from, it’s not likely you’re going to see any action as a healer. There’s simply too many. You’re better off playing a role that a guild is lacking. The leadership will be much more receptive.
  • Prove your skills: Show that you know how to play the class and role. Prove that you’ve done your research. Take the time to be familiar with how your role might be different in certain fights. DPSing Freya is certainly different than tanking Freya.
  • Get your own gear: Different guilds handle this differently. But under my watch, if you’re going to switch mains, you better be willing to get your own gear. The guild might contribute a few BoEs or enchants for a discounted price or something, but it’s up to the individual to put in the effort. Show your willingness and passion for the class. It also proves you know what you’re doing. What kind of message does it send if Barry the Death Knight did nothing but pick up gear with shield block on it?
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About Matticus

Matticus is the founder of World of Matticus and Plus Heal. Read more of his columns at WoW Insider. League of Legends player. Caffeine enthusiast.

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