Play your character how YOU want to play.
I’m a big proponent of this statement. I think you should play the game you want to play the way you want to play it. If you want to talent like a unique snowflake, you go right ahead and do that. I won’t rain on your 71-point spec. You want to pick up a major glyph that makes your pants glow blue over the one that increases the damage of your most used spell: more power to you.
Until your choices affect your ability to fill a role in a group setting.
In a 5-man group, most of these choices generally affect the group negligibly.
In a very laid-back guild setting (what I consider non-progression) your unique spec or play-style may have you topping the charts.
In a more structured guild environment, if you’re more skilled than your counterparts, your unconventional spec may still have you performing better than your peers.
However, when you are applying to a high-end raiding guild of any caliber, points of dps, healing output, mana regeneration, threat, and effective health matter. You should be prepared and expecting to back up every decision that led you to choose your gear, talents, gems, glyphs, and enchants. While there are some very unique choices among high-end raiders, you can bet your bottom dollar that they justified their choices to their guild-mates.
I agree with the right and expectation that other players have a say-so in my character when I choose to become involved in this kind of guild.
I think most of the friction over what’s “acceptable” over the choices available to our characters come from the differences in expectation from player to guild.
I am truly, horribly, annoyingly pro-active about trying to “better” my team-mates when I see gross negligence on their part when it comes to gear/talents/glyphs/gems/enchants. However, with the guild I am currently involved in, as soon as I get the feeling that my friendly advice is not welcome, I butt the hell out. I’d rate my guild between laid-back and structured in terms of their goals and expectations. In that kind of environment, it is not appropriate for me to harass my fellow guild-mates over their character choices because it doesn’t really matter.
That’s right, when you’re in a non-progression guild, your choices become less important because your individual role impacts the overall guild less. Guilds that are not on a progression path generally beat encounters with much better gear than their progression counterparts, giving them a “stat edge” that outweighs their other poor choices. It might still not be pretty, but they can get it done even with non-optimal choices.
However, I have been in progression guilds, and I sympathize and understand their point of view when it comes to optimizing your character to the fullest. I’ve thrown out applications where the player followed the cookie-cutter spec to the letter, yet had a piece of gear that didn’t match their spec… and they couldn’t tell me WHY it was a good/bad choice. Yes, I was that jerk.
If you want choice, you have to accept that other players also have a choice–in whether or not they want to play with you. Depending on where you choose to position yourself, you can be an asset… or a liability, and each group of players has to decide that on a case by case basis. In my current situation, I’d be ok with anything anyone wanted to play because I know someone who plays a character they love is likely to be better at it for sheer joy of playing what they love. But if I was leading a progression guild, I’d still turn down that application that couldn’t prove that they deserved a spot.
Just for a personal anecdote, as I believe I’ve mentioned, I created my paladin tank during the height of the Burning Crusade. While spell-power paladin tanks were no longer unheard of, they were still fairly rare, and most guilds required you to respec quite often–especially to healing.
I wanted to raid. I wanted to see bosses. I also wanted to be a tank. Period. The first guild I joined was not even on progression lists. They raided when people clamored enough in guild chat and someone volunteered to lead raids. I led more Karazhan raids than I even want to contemplate. I set ’em up, I invited people, I heckled people through the instance, and it became successful. Did I do it for the guild? Well, not really. I knew I wanted to be in a progression guild, but I couldn’t get my foot in the door without some kind of experience. I finally got enough gear/experience/confidence to take the next step… I went guild shopping.
I absolutely did not apply to the top-end guild on our server. They had an anti-protection paladin policy. I skipped the next 3-4 guilds as well. I settled on a middling progression guild that was making progress, didn’t have any protection paladins, but had feral tanks. (I don’t know why I thought feral tanks was important at the time. I had this niggling thought from vanilla that feral tanks were still semi-taboo, and so using them was paramount to advertising for “off” specs.) And I got in. And I got to raid progression. And I didn’t have to respec unless I volunteered. It was almost unheard of.
Bottom Line: Decide what your priority is in-game. If you want to raid end-game progression, you are likely going to be looking at flavor-of-the-month re-specs. If you want your vision of your character to be the main factor behind any changes you make, then you’ll have less conflict and heartbreak if you choose a less progression oriented guild.
Of course, my definition of end-game might be a bit different from yours, and this whole post may seem like a bit of haggling back and forth because you get to have BOTH! In that case, I’d just like to say… lucky dog! :P