Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Woe of the Single Character

I am in no way a single character player.  I had 17 max level characters last expansion and while I only have 6 now because the reputation grind on alts ruined my desire to level more any time soon while there is still so much for the others to do I am sure I will end the expansion with over 20 90s.  I would even bet on it.

So I might not be the best person to look at the single character issue but I think I can look at some of the issues they deal with as I do tend to play the game a lot of different ways, because that is how I enjoy myself. 

I've leveled alts on PvP servers, alts on alliance dominated servers as horde, alts on horde dominated servers as alliance, alts with no guild, alts with high guilds, alts with no professions, two gathering professions, two crafting professions, or a mix of one each.  I have leveled so many different alts in so many different ways, just to experience the game in every way possible, to get the most out of it one might say.

As such, I can say I have a few servers with only one character on them and at max (was, will be again) level to boot.  So I know a little about having a single character.  Perhaps it is my experience with having multiple characters with multiple professions that makes me look at things a little differently but I can say without a doubt that it is hard, very hard, to play end game if you only have one character.

Now, I have the added experience of someone that has all professions and knows the ropes and how to use the auction house but I wonder about the woes a single character would have if they did not have the experiences I have.

The one character I will use in my example is a hunter (of course) that has two gathering professions that were not just chosen without thought.  I took herbalism and skinning.  There is a reason behind that too, something only someone with experience in the game would even consider. 

While mining is a  good money maker it is also the gathering profession with the most people doing it.  Not to mention on a full server, as this hunter is on, there are also a lot of bots, which all seem to love mining as well.  So with all that added competition I decided that I could get more done for my time investment using the other two gathering professions than I would using the, seemingly, more profitable profession or mining.

Not to mention that skinning means killing things.  Killing things means getting drops.  Even gray items sell nicely and lets not forget that anything you can skin can also drop meat and food always sells good, even more so this expansion it seems when turtle meat is still going over 300 gold a stack.  So what some might think I lose to not having mining I pick up with skinning in other ways.

All this comes from experience, the same experience that lets me work the auction house to my advantage meaning I always have my satchel filled with gold from my adventures.

Again, I will point out that I have a lot of experience that someone that only has a single character might not, so I am making it easier on myself.

Now lets get to that end game.  The constant gearing treadmill and need for enchants, and gems and flasks and potions and scope.  About the only thing I can take care of myself is food but that is about it.  Even with my minimal efforts I am capable of making a few thousand a week on that character and as such it is enough to keep me with the best of everything I need.  Barely.

It is not easy keeping up with everything you need.  If it were my main and only character I am sure it would be easier however, I understand that.  But as it is, sometimes it puts you in the position of making decisions I would never be forced to make on a server with multiple characters on it.

I just got a chest piece from a heroic for example.  Should I spend the 3K the enchant is selling for or should I wait to see if one drops in LFR, or I get into a pug and one drops there, or maybe save up valor to buy one.  That 3K can be pretty daunting for most people.  I can make it back no problem as I know how to work things to my advantage but the question is still there, do I want to spend 2 hours making gold to make back that 3K or should I just wait for another chest?

On a server with my own enchanter it is never a question.  I get a new piece, I pop on my enchanter and I make the enchant, no questions asked.  I do not even think about it.

How about running dungeons or the LFR or even a pug.  Is it worth using a flask?  Food?  All that stuff costs gold and is it worth it?  If I do not need it to finish the content why use it, it would be like throwing away gold for nothing.

I never make these types of decisions on servers where I have everything going.  I can make everything myself and usually do, so I have everything I would ever need in mass quantities.  I've never needed to make the decision or putting in a green gem because the blue ones cost way to much.  I got spoiled.  On a single character server I make the decision every single piece of gear I get with a gem slot.

It comes down to how long I think I will have that piece.  If it is something that will last me a while, maybe even until the next raid patch, I will surely spend the gold but if it is something I can replace easy, like with valor or a LFR drop, green it is baby.  Why waste the gold.

Talking about gold, to make gold I use my gathering professions and do quite well with it for my once or twice a month I would play it.  I don't think I have seen under 30K all that often and when I do it is not long before I get over it again.  That 30K I call my buffer, the least amount I want to keep on me.  If I go under it then I try to make some more.  If I am above it, I really do not give a crap.  Some time ago I figured that was the number you needed to keep yourself rolling in anything you would ever need, in cataclysm that is.  Might up it now I guess.

For making gold, or not making it the times I am too lazy to spend all that time listing stuff, I need bag space.  As a single character this is the biggest problem in the world.  Bigger than the hardest boss on heroic ever.  It is a boss you can not beat, will not beat, ever.  It won't happen, at least not until you abandon your single character concept.  If you want to hold on to stuff you will need an alt.  This is non-negotiable.

Nope, can't do it, not on this server.  This server is all about being solo.  No alts allowed.  So like it or not, sell stuff or waste the only time I am going to be playing that week on that character sitting at the auction house instead of doing things like dailies or dungeons or raids or pugging or gathering or dancing around naked, whatever floats your boat.  All because it comes down to having no bag space. 

It becomes a decision of what to keep and what to sell.  Some wrath food still sells quite nicely.  60 gold a stack is not bad, but it sells slow.  So the options you now have are three.  Keep listing it to sell it at the top price and use your mailbox as a catch all, which does work.  List it for a super low price.  Enough that you will still make a fair deal on it but at the same time cheap enough that if someone sees it they will think, it is never this cheap I have to buy it now.  And last but not least, vendor it.  Yeap, vendor it.  I have had to do that so often it is scary.  I could sell it for 3 gold but it vendors for 1.  Vendor it now instead of waiting forever to sell it to make a 2 gold profit, that will probably only be 1 gold by the time it actually sells with the listing costs and the auction house cut.

Every piece of junk you get becomes a decision, is it worth the bag space.  I did not even do the holiday thing on that character because I did not want the two footballs.  I would have felt compelled to keep them but I do not want to waste what precious little space I had on junk.  So I did not even tempt myself and never did the quest to get the achievement.  It is shared anyway so who cares.

Perhaps it is the fact I have it all on other servers that makes me feel so helpless on the single character server.  Perhaps this is how those people that are really casual and only have one character really feel all the time.  Perhaps that is why they are not gemmed and not enchanted, because they can not afford it. 

Maybe they are not bad players or people that do not care.  Maybe they are just a single character and being a single character is really hard.  Maybe that little bit of gold they have is to enchant and gem the better chest they know is coming and that is why they have not bothered with this one.

Playing on a single character has made me look at some players in a different light.  It might not be they are bad, it might just be that things are not easy for a person that only has one character and it is even harder if they did not choose double gathering and do not know how to work the auction house.

Oh, the woe of the single character, I feel your pain.


  1. Wow.

    The more I read your post, the more I think we're not playing the same game.

    I played with only one char until mid-Fireland I say (and even at that time the second one was just there to provide mats for my main). I never ever had one of the problem you listed. I almost never used the AH as well.

    New piece of gear? Ask guild for gem/enchant. At worse it will me a couple hundred gold on AH.

    Need flask? well 1k gold for 3h of raid is ok, I'll make more than that in a day by doing dailies and farming achievements.

    Need bags? ask guildies to crafts some (or get the ones from quests).

    The only really expensives piece I needed to buy on AH were scopes for my bow and belt buckles. But eh, you need those maybe 2-3 times per tier at worse.

    The only reason I have alts now are : achievement (all prof to max level, 5 classes to max level) and the fact that, esspecially in DS, raid are cleaned quite fast, and it's good to have another char to be able to raid with your guildies.

    1. Your whole "ask a guildie" thing takes away the single player concept.

      I am talking about doing it by yourself. Anyone can ask a guildie for help. Try doing it all yourself. Totally different.

    2. Aaaah, but on your post your talked about single character, that not the same as single player.

    3. Oh hm. We have this new guildie. He keeps asking us for stuff. REALLY annoying. You just don't go into a guild and ask around for stuff. Or maybe that's just me.

    4. @Samigina

      I should have been a little more clear on that. I meant doing it without asking for help and doing it on your own.


      I know what you mean. I am always willing to help but some people abuse that and ask for everything. You can usually pick out the good and bad ones pretty quick. The guy asking for an enchanter to make him enchants and offering the mats is okay, the guy that always asks and expects people to make it for him for nothing is not.

    5. For the asking for echant and all, I think things are a bit more complex.

      I'll more likely fit in the second category when it come to asking for craft and mats are quite tiresome to get ( living steel for belt buckle for example).

      But on the other and, I don't ask the mats when people ask me craft (I'm LW/scribe). And I won't accept payment from guildies (for harmony or hide, etc...).

      I've craft a lot of cards to get my trinket, and gave the ones I didn't need to other guildies.

      Does that make me bad to expect other to not charge me for crafts?

    6. I do not charge either. I have made and given 6 complete card sets and many singles this expansion. However, I have made and given them to people I know would do the same for me. There are a fair deal of player in my guild that would give you the shirt of their back if you needed it.

      The thing is noticing who are the people worth making things for and not worth it. While I just said I gave away stuff totaling easily what I could have made well over 100K on for nothing there are some people I would ask for materials or refuse to make it for them.

      Just because they are guild mates does not mean I help them out. I have one rule to helping people out. I help those that help themselves. If you never try to get your own things, don't even have maxed professions, are always broke because you refuse to do anything to make gold, I will not help you for free.

  2. Oh yes the old ask a Guildy response. Personally I am too proud to ask amd would rather have the alt that can make it themselves. If not I would buy of the Auction House.

    Asking for assistance for a Guild member takes their time and your time to co-ordinate mats and meeting places and waiting for people to come out of instances. It is messy and I don't like to inconvenience other people. Personally I choose to play a solo game.

    1. I never ask a guild mate for help, hence the reason I usually have one of each profession maxed when able. I will help others without asking for anything in return, but I like to take care of myself.

      Playing solo, even more so as a single character, is a completely different game.

  3. LOL, 2 different schools of thought. :) I love it. Some guilds want to be self-sufficent with everyone making everything for their guildies (I was in a few) and will feel slighted if you don't help each other. And others don't want to be bothered by guildies helping each other out (and again, I was in a few). Thats the beauty of the game - different strokes for different folks.

    I have good intentions to be the only toon on a server, but it never stays that way. Need more bag space! Strange I never play horde, but I do hoard (LOL, sorry bad pun)

    There are times when I need something made, instead of paying a terrible expense at the AH, I gather the mats and pay a small fee (green father christmas suit anyone or a blue workman's shirt) to the Tailor for it. Got to get one of those one of these days. :O

    A dwarf walks into Storm Wind's barbershop and the hair stylist says "your hair is gorgeous", and the dwarf runs her hand through her hair and says "It's natural". Then a Worgen walks in and the stylist says "I love your hair", and the Worgen runs her hand through her hair and says "it's natural". Then a Night Elf with green streaks walks in and the stylist says "That's different..." The Night Elf sneezes, wipes it on her hand and runs her hand through her hair and says, "It's natural!"

    1. Anything in game outside of group content you can attain on your own but some things are a lot harder when done with only one character.

      If I have the gathering professions for what I need to have made I will go that route, asking in trade, otherwise I just buy the item.

      Playing solo also teaches you that the parts cost less then the product. Take enchants for example. It could be 300 on the market but the materials for it will only cost you 60. I but the mats and tip someone 40 gold to make it, meaning I saved 200 gold.

  4. I'm mixed. I have an army of low lvl alts that I intended to lvl but never did. I use them all for tons of storage and I have a guild bank for even more storage.

    My 2nd max lvl character was a DK at the very end of Cata. He's still 85.

    I just do everything on my main. People ask me how I can play my hunter all the time and not get bored with it. All I can really say is that hunters are just better than the support classes.

    But seriously, there's just so much to do in the game, that I don't know how people find time for alts... I still have tons of achievements to get, I need to do Brawler's Guild, there's old raids/dungeons to solo, need to work on all the pet battle stuff at some point, etc.

    So having a single max character with bank alts, I can understand but I think having only one character total is a bit extreme; just like I think having half a dozen max level characters is extreme.

    Regarding gold, I've never been broke. Only since Cata did I really get into working the AH with xmog gear, but before that I was never broke. I've always had enough for mounts and flying and enchants/gems, etc. I would never put epic stuff on uncommon/rare gear though. Uncommon, don't bother. Rare, use cheap stuff. Epic, best enchants/gems within reason. A tiny dps increase is not worth 5x the price...

    1. Well, you will not get any argument from me that hunters are the best class in the game. I had 7 at max level last expansion and I played more on my one main hunter than all my other alts combined.

      I can't see how people play without alts either but you would be amazed how many there really are out there that only have 1 character. I don't think I would play the game at all if it were not for my ability to have alts. Playing without them just seems a hindrance, even if all they are used for is space.

  5. It's not like that. I was once a single-character person. We probably all were.

    When I leveled my main, my one and only at the time, he was enchanted and gemmed for every piece of gear he had. All the way from level 18 to 80. I bought stuff off the alliance (you know the trick) because they were a lot cheaper. And I say it again - way before I was max level. I'd work for my char as much as I could.

    You pass up things on alts. No matter where they are, on what server, they are alts. You don't care all that much about getting a piece enchanted because you're not trying to get your char into your first raiding guild. The investment on an alt is just not worth it. It's your main you care about. People who are single-character types are not unenchanted and ungemmed because they have problems. They don't want to invest time / effort into this game. I grinded my ass off to get crafted items when I started off. Anyone who wants to have a decent, competitive character has one, no matter the number of alts. Anyone who is just not that interested is, well, just not that interested.
    I think you're getting soft :))

    1. I might be getting a bit soft but I still say it is a lot harder on the single character. Using those alts to feed your main is a huge part of making things easier.

      In the case I mentioned where I might play the character 2 or 3 hours a month, super casual, it would be really hard for someone without my knowledge to stay up to par with their gems and enchants.

      You even said it yourself, you worked your ass off. That means time. Anyone with time will make alts to help themselves, anyone that works their ass off will make alts to help themselves.

      Alts make the game easier.