My main is my holy priest. My raid-ready alt is a protection warrior. I like healing slightly more than tanking, but honestly I’m happy playing either. I’m also glad to pinch hit in a dps situation every now and then, because it means I have more time to enjoy my scotch.
After a lot of practice, I’ve become good enough to either heal or tank for instances, heroics, and raids. The change of pace actually keeps my overall interest level higher. When I brought my tank along for the ride, how I was helping!
Or at least, how I thought I was helping. Despite the fact that I’ve become more useful to my guild and have more fun playing the game, the social ramifications have made me wish that I hadn’t tried it in the first place. There were consequences.
I helped many raids get off the ground. I subbed in as guild Main Tank for a while when ours went loco, and progression didn’t miss a beat. I switched between core healer and core tank as the situation demanded. It was very fun to play.
Many people in my guild looked at what I was doing and said, “Wow, how awesome to be so useful!”
Lots of people.
Eighteen months later, my guild has a 10-man raid’s worth of excellent polytooners: a rogue/holy priest, a warlock/healing shammy, two mage/holy priests, a mage/warrior tank, etc. We have far fewer raids stall due to not being able to fill a role. Obviously, this hasn’t been a problem at all for people who are already good at the game. If anything, it’s made our core stronger and more versatile, with people who understand the game better.
The problem is that the people who aren’t good at the game–common in casual/raiding guilds–also try to polytoon. They’re taking their limited supply of skill and trying to spread it across even more characters. That well-meaning 10th man is guaranteed to be so forevermore. If the player couldn’t figure out how to do damage as a hunter, how are they going to get better when splitting time between a hunter and paladin tank? Answer: a lot of sighing from raid leadership.
I still feel that good players and officers should be ready to plug common holes in a raid. However, don’t confuse utility with what the team needs to succeed. Make certain that your guild outlays that mains should always be everyone’s priority. Trying to introduce that thought becomes much more difficult after the polytoon mindset has grown roots.