How do you handle switching things up?
I’m not talking about major switches in your gaming, not the “now my main is a hunter” or “I just moved servers” thing. No, just the evenings where you look at the loading screen and say “I want to play this guy”. I know there’s some folks who only have a couple characters, or even a single main, but I’ve got 8 characters on Winterhoof. One bank alt, she doesn’t count. One main. One actively being levelled lowbie shaman, one “I logged into her a few weeks back” lowbie hunter. A paladin at 84 and two not-my-main 85s, my mage and my priest. Oh, and a worgen that hasn’t left the starting area.
In the last two weeks, I’ve spent several hours on my paladin, my shaman, my priest, and my mage. Invariant, the mage, had been getting plenty of fresh air anyway since she is my archeologist and I’m still looking for that flaming doll. The others, not so much. Every time I log in I have to reacquaint myself with the way each operates.
One thing that helps is keep my UI fairly standard across characters. The action bars in the same places, Recount and Omen in one corner, Vuhdo frames in their proper spot, even on my non healer characters – Invariant has Remove Curse mapped in Vuhdo, no need for Decursive. For my healer characters, I assign similar spells to the same mouse click combos – right mouse click for a good HOT, shield, or fast cast, other combos for longer cast spells. That way I can let the muscle memory work for me.
Same with my action bars; I try to keep spells that do similar things in the same place across characters. Of course, this is subjective. Frost Nova and Disengage do not do the same thing, at all, but they have the same spot on my action bars for their respective characters. I tend to keep opener moves on 1 and 2, aoes toward 6 and 7, and emergency spells at the end.
ArcInventory is my bag addon of choice. I have it set up to use the “Rules” to sort things for me. So what I get when I hit my B key is a giant bag with everything I own, but visually seperated into containers by the rules I set. I can have all my crafting mats assigned to the two left hand columns, my spare armor set in the bottom right, and junk items at the very top, all by themselves. If I keep it the same across characters, any time I open my bags I know where things will be.
I have a quick routine when I get onto a character that I’ve been resting up. Check my bags and gear to see if I need to sell and repair. Check my map and quest log, to see where I need to go. Check over my abilities and remind myself just what this character actually does. Takes about three minutes and then I’m ready to go. The first few pulls are uncomfortable as I search for the right abilities, remember critical things (“Oh, right, pet.” “Oh, right, totems”. “Oh, right, mage armor”). After that I settle in.
That said right now my paladin is the hardest to get into. I’m leveling in ret by questing. I just am not comfortable with the spec at all. It doesn’t feel like me. I’m not really a melee player; I like standing at range and killing stuff. And things are always lighting up and I don’t know what to push. This goldenish swirly icon? That goldenish swirly icon? The one that looks like a shiny hand? Ack! I may just wait til she gets a whole level of rested and then heal dungeons the last bit of the way; I’m much better at that.
But I do think there’s value in switching characters. I’ve been working hard on learning all the raid fights as heals; when I switched and did a few fights on my mage, I was amazed at how much easier it was to pay attention to stuff on the ground I needed to move out of, target switching time, etc. Of course, I was focused on that somewhat at the expense of my dps but…. that wasn’t too shabby either.
I also find that switching around and not spending lots of time on any alt favors “simple” specs and rotation. Switching to Invariant and going arcane is easy. The fights where I’ve gone fire? Let’s not talk about that… fire is much much more complicated and while fun, would take time to master that I’m not spending.
Remember, the most important thing to do when you’re switching characters is always put your toys away – mom’s advice growing up works well now too. Even if you think you’re only logging into your main for a few minutes, stick your leveling alt in an inn, sell her junk, mail things you want to auction to your bank alt. There are far too many times I’ve gotten on a main to send something to an alt and found myself three hours later in a Stonecore run that just won’t die. Save yourself the headache and always leave in a way that makes it easy to come back.