My Way or the Highway

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!  😛


12 thoughts on “My Way or the Highway

  1. It's interesting because there's really only one problem player (applicant) in a progression guild:

    The player who has a strange talent build/glyph/gear choice. But they either don't change it at all (since hitting max level) or change it for personal reasons not relating to the raid.

    When you join a progression guild you don't have to have a cookie cutter build/glyph and standard gems in a boring gear set. Sure, it's fine if you do have that.

    But there's nothing better than seeing a player that has made sensible choices and swaps gear/glyphs – even talents – based on whatever boss is currently on the MUST KILL NEXT list.

    Playing your character the way you want to play it doesn't mean you'll never be accepted into a mean ol progression guild (why we have these reputations I don't know). You just need to make the choices you make about your character's gear/gems/glyphs/talents for the right reasons: for the group makeup, for the encounter, for what gets more DPS out of *you*.

    • It's because of the articles and nice forum posts that decry the nasty "non-good" spec. I've seen more interesting and unique specs in progression guilds, yet there is a clear understanding that those players can defend their choices. Saying "I like it this way" does not garner you a slot. I'd rather take a unique snowflake who can explain their choice over a cookie cutter any day.

  2. That's a great post, and on an issue that really is key for me.

    I play one of those non-conventional specs. I'm currently a Holy Pally, running in a flash of light based spec, stacking spellpower over intellect, and not specced into DivSac/DivGuard. At least ten people a day tell me my spec is trash. I have it for several reasons:

    1) I don't have a mana problem. Ever. I am very mana efficient. Because…

    2) With the spellpower I have, I rarely ever have to cast a holy light anyway. I can keep the tank topped off with flash. My flash averages 10-12k in ICC, not critting. Over 20k crits. That's bigger than my holy light was when I first went into ICC.

    3) I raid in ten mans, and one of my roles in my raid group is breaking in new healers. What that means is that I do a lot of backup raid healing. When we're 2 healing in ICC and one of us is inexperienced, the experienced one covers. It's much easier to scatter fast heals over the raid and have them be big enough to heal the tank too through beacon.

    4) Our prot pally loves DivSac/DivGuard and is extremely skilled at using it well. And we've found we really don't need two. That frees me up to put more talents in other places.

    And most importantly

    5) I perform better in this spec. Lots better. Universally. For some reason, it's a playstyle that I am just better at.

    Reasons 1/2 would change in a different instance, especially without the ICC buff. Reasons 3/4 would change in a different raid group. Reason 5 is my personal preference. If I had to change specs for one of the first four reasons, I'd be awfully sad, but I'd be willing to do it if I had to. If it hurt my performance, I'd ask to change back though. Fortunately we're not much of a progression guild (7/12 normal modes, but the Blood Princes and Putri are on notice!) and I probably won't have to change unless I want to.

    TL/DR: So yes, I love the topic because I consider myself one of those who has an oddball spec, but a valid reason for having it.

    • Adapting to and for your particular team is definitely a plus in anyone's book. If everyone has the exact same spec, then you're likely missing out on benefits to aid your raid team. I'm all for special snowflakes–so long as they know how their strengths fit into a team effort.

  3. Granted, my Lil' Puff doesn't progression raid, but she still takes a lot of crap for her "bad" spec. So much so that I finally dropped the 1k gold for dual spec just so I could have a "cookie cutter" dps spec and my usual spec (a weird blend of Blood Tanking and Blood DPS that I use for soloing old world raids/BC dungeon rep farming/etc… she's a completionist). All just because I was tired of taking so much crap in 5 mans for "Only doing 2k dps"


    • I don't ever see griping at people about their spec choices unless it influences a team effort in some way. I might grumble at my monitor when I see the fully mp5 gemmed holy paladin… but as long as the group is getting heals, I keep my mouth firmly shown shut.

      I'm not even going to get into the dps suckage argument 😛 I'm willing to let 20k tanks give it a go… so long as they're defense capped 🙂

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  5. I am a firm believer of play how you want. In my guild we have that as our policy, but if you are not pulling your weight in raid, we will say you may want to try this spec or these glyphs.

    And anyone who applies knows that this will be the case that they may be asked to respec in order to improve themselves and the raid.

    But many of our players/members have unique specs and do just fine in raids

    • I'd hazard to guess our guild works along similar lines. I've eyeballed a few weird specs and spoken to the GM about maybe giving some advice–but the rule of thumb is, if they're not receptive, back off. Of course, we do have senior/regular raider ranks, so if you're actually a hazard to the raid team, you might be invited to the fluff raids, and sit on the sidelines for progression nights 🙂

  6. I understand your point – there are some spec choices or gem/enchant choices that seem to me to be just plain *wrong*.

    But then there are others where it seems that having two points in is a marginal benefit on two points in and only time will tell just how effective it is to have a *raid utility* spell over a *1% healing* spell… And that logs will not necessarily show proof of concept over a short time, and that raid composition/fight dynamics might make fine choices difficult to monitor.

    I suppose it depends on the tone of the "discussion" and whether it seems to be criticism (does anyone like the feeling of being ripped to shreds over their spec choices?) or whether it seems as if it is helpful co-operation towards the best outcome.

    • When applying to a guild, if I didn't flag and explain those differences in my application, I would surely expect it to come up in the question process. Having someone question (why did you take this?) vs. ridicule (omg, noob!) are two different things, and if the latter, it tells me that the guild is the wrong fit for me 🙂

      I actually have a glaringly *wrong* talent spec choice with my restoration shaman. I took points in imp. water shield for starting heroics and never got around to taking them out. However, when I apped for a raiding guild, I was more than ready to discuss that choice, as at the time, for me to be competitive in any group environment, I needed all the mana I could get my grubby little hands on ^^

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