Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Raid loot

I spent an evening playing D&D, but as all of the members of my D&D group now also play WoW, we talked a lot of WoW as well. Two of my friends are in a raiding guild which already got Ragnaros to below 20%, and has Onyxia on farm status. And they were telling about 6 of the most hardcore members of their guild leaving, over some issues of raid loot distribution. The last couple of days discussion about raid loot distribution is all I hear, everywhere.

The clash is basically always the same. Player A goes on 4 raids per week, player B only on one of them. In that one raid an item drops that both player A and player B want. Who gets it?

There is no easy answer to that question. There are basically two extreme positions, with a lot of possibilities in between. One extreme is a simple loot roll, giving both A and B the same chance to win the item. The justification for that is seeing every raid as an isolated event, with every participant having equal part in its success. Or in other words, player A, by doing 4 times more raids, already has 4 times the chance of finding and getting something good. But in each individual raid he only gets a 50% of winning a loot roll against player B.

The other extreme position is saying that the player with more raids gets priority on all items, so if both A and B want the same item, A automatically wins. The justification for that is seeing the success of each raid as a result of the practice acquired in previous raids. Player A spent a lot of money on repairs, potions, etc. in the other 3 raids, and if he didn't find the item he wanted in those raids, now he gets absolute priority. That helps the whole guild, because that item will be used in more future raids than if it went to the casual raider. So in this case player A gets a 100% chance of winning the loot against player B.

Of the intermediate versions there are too many to count. In my guild player A would have gotten 40 raid points for attending 4 raids, against the 10 raid points of player B. Thus having more raid points, he would have received a +50 to his loot roll. The math is a bit tricky, but the chance of player A winning a loot roll with +50 against player B is 87.5%, or 7 in 8. If there is a whole troupe of casual raiders rolling against player A, he still has a chance of over 50% (he just needs to roll 51 to be unbeatable) to win, while the casual raiders have a less than 50% chance divided by their number.

I like our system, but there is no way I could say whether a 87.5% chance of winning the loot is the optimum point between 50% and 100%. What I do know is the consequences of either extreme: If player A has 100% chance to get the loot, player B will turn up once for each boss fight as a tourist, to have seen the boss mob, and then never go again. If the guild has enough hardcore raiders and few or no casual raiders, that is not a problem. But if there are casual raiders in the guild, whenever player B turns up at a raid, due to having been excluded from looting in previous raids, he won't have the gear which would enable him to contribute as much to the raid as player A, even if he played equally well. Thus the two groups develop away from each other, and sooner or later the guild splits up. Another disadvantage is that if you give all the loot to player A, and player A for some reason decides to leave the guild, the guild as a whole suffers a huge setback.

If player A only has 50% chance to get the loot, the progress of the guild as a whole will slow down. If it takes dozens of wipes against the same boss mob to be finally able to beat him, and being wiped isn't rewarded at all, there will be not much interest in the harder raids. You try the hard boss after killing the easier boss in front of him, wipe three times and go home. While the loot is more evenly distributed than in the other extreme case, player A still has more loot and definitely more experience than player B. So A, who will most likely think that 50% chance is less than his fair share, is likely to leave the guild for a more dedicated raiding guild, further hindering or even throwing back the progress of the guild as a whole.

If it wasn't so sad, it would be funny that whatever system you install, you have *both* players A and B accusing the other of being greedy and wanting to grab more than his fair share of loot. Even with my support for the 87.5% chance for player A, while being more a player B type of player, I'm still accused for wanting too much loot. I sure want *some* chance of getting loot, even if it just a 1 in 8 chance. Guess that proves that greed rules the virtual worlds as much as it does the real one.
Theres another loot distribution method, pure common sense and negotiation.

I know of a guild that uses this method, and their pretty hardcore, but have a team spirit that means generally loot goes to the person that needs it most (ie upgrading from a green to a purple as well as favoring key roles for the benefit of the guild).

This kind of attitude is something I would like to promote in our guild, but I'm afraid that people would find self control and generosity generally hard.
(Disclaimer: all comments here apply to EQ, not WoW).

Merit type loot only really works for a small tight knit group of the truly hardcore. I was in a guild that used it for a while and it was one of several factors that drove away the casual players and made them into the finely honed raiding machine they (apparently) are today.

My current guild (well I say current, I haven't logged on in months) uses a point bid system that everyone is pretty happy with.
The people with lots of points buy the high priced loot from the new targets, the more casual raiders pick up inferior items for a fraction of the price from the "farm status" targets.
I agree Wivelrod.

Still hoping for the Ideal World.
On the other hand i do not see this happen to fast, but i see us making progress.

This all seems like so much work for a game that will make most of this gear useless when the expansion comes out.

(opinion of a non-raider who plays solo 95% of the time)

On a side note; anyone enjoying Morrowind? I have only heard grumblings of each quest being "matched" to your current level.
Two other guys from my D&D group are in a guild where the person with the *least* amount of epics gets the item when several people want it. (I just imagine Brian having a heart attack when reading this. Sorry, man. I don't think that is a good system either.)

What I find very interesting is that our guild has reached a level where rare, blue items are generally distributed in a very amiable fashion on a who-needs-it-most basis in perfect harmony. But when it comes to epic, purple items, people leave the guild because the raid point system doesn't favor them enough, or they propose new guild members being excluded from getting any. It is much easier to distribute a lot of blue items in a smaller group than to distribute a small number of epic items in a big raid group.

One possible explanation is in the Dunbar number. If you have a relatively large guild, with a relatively low attendance rate, there are too many members for everybody to trust everybody else in the guild completely. If there are only 40 people going raiding always together, regardless of whether it is 5 times a week or just twice a month, there would be far more trust in each other, and loot distribution wouldn't be a problem, even for epics.
My guild probably has around 50-65 "regular" 40-man raiders. In any given 40-man raid in the past 3-4 weeks, at least 20-30 of the 40 are people who have been on most/all of the previous raids. This makes outfitting a lot easier since every won epic fills a spot and subsequent same epics go to a smaller pool of the same people. It also helps that the guild members are generally very friendly and amiable, some even pass on drops for others (relatively rare but not entirely unheard of).
No heart attack necessary Tobold :)

What I found when I got into my current guild was a departure from what I was used to. When I was still half epics/half rares I had players in the same class passing on items that were upgrades and that they could have easily outbid me on. The thing was, each player would inspect the others and there was a kind of unspoken rule that if you're upgrading an epic to an epic that you would let somebody with a green/blue take the upgrade ahead of you.

It wasn't expected, per se. It was definitely never verbalized. But we all like each other, and we all want to succeed, so why wouldn't we do it this way?

Loot can definitely change people. For the most part I've been amazed at the people in my guild though. I've seen multiple items gifted (one player spends his DKP to buy an item for another player) and I've seen people pass on items that I know they truly wanted. That's impressive.

Of course any system has it's flaws. We had one rogue in almost all greens show up one night, and the rogue leader let him in to BWL to be nice (the guy had literally never been on a raid and they wanted to show it to him). The only Chromatically Tempered Sword we've ever seen dropped, and he had high points and bought it. I can only imagine people inspecting him in IF, seeing his green gear with one of the best swords in the game that you can only get late into BWL.

I think what happens though for many guilds is that once you get MC on farm status, once you know that the loot will come around regardless, it just becomes less pressing. That's been the case in BWL and even moreso in AQ40.

MC while it's being worked on does seem to be the root of much loot evil though.
I have to agree with what some others here have said. The guild I'm in raids regularly. They've downed Rag and are now working on BWL. MC is now on "farm" status, and a majority of the regular raiders are fully epiced out. Or, if not, they don't want to waste their points on MC epics when they could get a BWL epic instead. Thus the non-raider members of the guild are getting a lot of opportunity to advance.

I tried to get in on a guild MC raid this past weekend since I had time for once. I signed up too late and didn't get in. However, at the Domo fight someone took a break and they summoned me in. My hunter got the Ancient Petrified Leaf that dropped, something I never thought I'd see, simply because every hunter in the raid already had theirs :b While it might make sense not to waste the drop, it was pure generosity on the guild's part, because I certainly did nothing to "earn" the leaf.

I think as raid guilds get older, even the less hardcore will get the opportunity to gear up. I know one of the hunters that was in the raid was getting any piece of giantstalker that dropped that he didn't already have, irrespective of DKP.
My guild uses a zero-sum DKP system with a bank for unwanted items. No one seems to have a problem with this system.

I do agree that once you know that an item will drop eventually, the burning desire for it lessens somewhat. Unless it is an item that is drastically going to improve your character. For example, I'm kinda non-plussed about most of the Prophecy gear; I would like some of it, but I don't really care if someone else takes it. I really really wanted my Benediction though as that was a massive upgrade in effectiveness for me.
Interesting to read that other guilds are having these discussions about loot rights. I'm in what is called casual guild that has a raid running almost every nite. MC, Onyxia and ZG are on farm status. BWL is at FireMaw and AQ stuck at the Hunter. Two debates were ragging. Some players want to raid more and are upset that we can't always get enough people for BWL. In that same thread of debate, others mentioned that people who raid more should get first dibs on loot.

I have a problem with anything other than the person who bids highest wins. Afterall, they have the DKP to spend so they've either been raiding a lot, haven't bid on much, or have been getting unwanted items for minimum DKP. If you have the DKP and are the correct class for the item, it should be yours. If someone is unable or unwilling to raid more often, why should they bother at all, if their chances of loot when they do raid, is reduced even further?

Sure there is the good of the guild, but a guild is only as good as the individual player. The cost in time, effort and personal gold is high for the 40-man raids. If I show up for a raid, I want an equal opportunity at my class loot for any item that I can actually outbid someone else for.

WOW has certainly done a number on gamers with this race for phat loot. I've never seen anything like it.
I'm of the opinion zero-sum DKP is the way to go. It solves the "fair share of loot" problem.

That being said, even with a max tier we're starting to run into problems with people hoarding DKP for BWL/AQ loot instead of completing their Tier 1 sets.

Our guild officers are good leaders though and have generated enough morale to where they can demand SOMEONE take an item instead of sharding it, and they also did a good job of getting a couple key people (main tanks and healers) strong equipment to help the guild raid better without annoying the rank and file.

I was a late joiner and got -150 DKP in the hole within a couple of MC runs taking equipment no one wanted or already had, which I have to admit is actually fairer to the guild than getting it on the cheap for 30 DKP or so -- I'm not inclined to leave my guild, but the DKP system will make it clear when I've "paid off" the gear.
The thing is, if people are holding off from buying Tier 1 then they probably shouldn't even be in Molten Core. I never completed my Tier 1, it actually held not interest to me. I have literally received every item in Molten Core that was of interest to me.

What my guild ultimately had to do was "tier" the raiding system. Now Blackwing Lair and AQ40 are raids at my "level". That doesn't mean those ranked below me can't go, it just means that I get priority. Those ranked below me in my class still have a significant amount they can recieve in Molten Core and improve their character. Each BWL/AQ raid we have between 5-10 slots empty from raiders of my level that didn't show up. Those go to the lower tiered raiders who are online at the time.

So they could try and save their DKP for BWL, but there's no actual guarantee they'll get in.

Conversely, Onyxia and Molten Core are slotted a tier below me. If I want to go to those raids, I basically have to join a waiting list and the BWL situation is reversed. If raiders of the correct tier don't show up than there's a chance I would be invited.

This makes DKP hoarding fairly difficult, and helps put into place a measure to make sure that players are purchasing equipment which better matches their level/raid experience.

It is zero sum, and weird things happen (like the guy in greens buying the Chromatically Tempered Sword) but for the most part it works very well.
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