Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Can DKP ever be fair?

I'm not going to link to it, as I am in none of the guilds involved, but I just read a thread on an application forum of a major guild on my server, which raises an interesting point. The guy applying wants to leave his old guild and apply to the bigger one, saying that he has friends in the new guild he would like to play with. But people from the old guild saw his application and complain that he is leaving with negative DKP, indicating that he got more loot than he "deserved". He raided 18 days, 32 successful boss encounters, and received 5 epics.

Now if you assume every boss dropping 2 to 3 epics, and a raid having 40 members, participating in 32 boss kills should get somebody an average of 2 epics. So assuming the guild runs with a zero-sum DKP system, somebody getting 5 epics instead of 2 should well be in the negative. Does that automatically mean that the guy cheated his old guild? Even if you assume that the DKP system is correctly measuring participation versus reward, can it ever measure fairness?

Now there are a handful of uber guilds on each server which have an equal number of players from each class, all with similar participation rates. But the more normal situation in the "second tier" guilds is that some classes are relatively rare, while others have much higher numbers. That is a natural consequence of the fact that in the population as a whole certain classes are more rare than others. The guy who wanted to switch guilds with negative DKP happens to be a druid, the most rare class in World of Warcraft (and getting rarer with the expansion), due to there only being one race per side being able to play that class. It is safe to assume that in the raids of his old guild he was one of very few druids in each raid, which is how he ended up with so many epics. In my own guild we had one raid where one new druid received 3 epics on his first Molten Core run.

Imagine a guild where on every raid there are twice as many warriors as druids. Now try to design a DKP system that gives the same average number of epics per raid attended to every player. You will quickly find out that this is totally impossible, as most drops are class specific. The best you can achieve is fairness inside of one class. There are a few items useable by several classes found in raid dungeons like Molten Core, which can be used to slightly adjust the fairness. But in a guild with twice as many warriors as druids, the druids are going to get twice as many epics per raid as the warriors, there isn't much you could do about that. And if the guild is using a zero-sum DKP system, the warriors will have positive DKP, and the druids negative DKP.

Another factor resulting in somebody receiving more epics than other players is how often the players raid. Raiding is an exercise in diminishing returns. While raiding more often gets you more epics in total, the number of epics per raid is going down with time. Whatever your DKP score is, if you already have the item that drops, or something better, it will go to somebody else. Typical situation is the guild wanting to kill Ragnaros, but already having done the first MC bosses dozens of times. As the guild needs to kill all the bosses to "unlock" Ragnaros, such MC runs are producing a high yield of epics, most of which the people who were in the guild from the start and who raid a lot already have. People who are new or who raid less have a good chance to receive an unusually high amount of epics per raid, in spite of their low DKP scores.

Of course people who raid a lot are likely to feel some resentment towards newer players who get more epics for less effort than they did. In some cases that resentment leads to the guild for example deciding not to raid Molten Core any more. It is easy to see that if the guild only visits places like Blackwing Lair where not many people have the loot from yet, this favors the people who raided most often with the guild, and accumulated the most DKP. But that is not a very wise strategy. Every guild suffers from natural attrition, people stopping to play, or wanting to switch servers, or leaving for another guild. A guild needs to feed the newer members with epics and raid experience, so that if some older player burn out and leave, there are people there with good enough gear to replace them. The new guild member with his complete tier 0 set and no DKP won't get any loot out of Blackwing Lair, and won't ever be able to improve his gear soloing. So the guild must farm MC to get him equipped. Of course if he leaves the guild after getting his epics, that is annoying. But that isn't a failure of fairness in the DKP system. It is an inevitable consequence of guilds having a member turn-over, and different participation rates to raids.
One point of view to fairness is that different classes need different amounts of gear. A rogue if DPS specialist, so he only needs DPS and resist gear, while a druid to enchance all his aspects needs tanking, DPS and healing (and casting if there just would be any) gear + resist gear. The more versatile class, the more need for different sets.

So one could argue number of epics isn't good measure of fairness, but character enchanchement. How the heck you measure that?!
To optimize your chances on loot and raidspots i'd suggest rolling an Alliance Shaman or a Horde Paladin ASAP. As soon as you're decently equipped switch to a better guild.

I'm sure you'll have an unprecedented reward versus effort rating.

If you're really good at it, start you're own levelling service.

If that's what makes you having fun!?

To optimize your chances on loot and raidspots i'd suggest rolling an Alliance Shaman or a Horde Paladin ASAP. As soon as you're decently equipped switch to a better guild.

I am pretty sure that there will be thousands of players trying exactly that.

And you are right that there are people who switch to a "better" (that is more advanced on the raid circuit) guild often, because you get more epics by joining a guild more advanced than by helping your own guild wipe repeatedly against new bosses until the tactics are right. Sad state of affairs, happens far too often. World of Warcraft seems to be the game with the lowest guild loyalty score, many people consider guilds just as an epic-producing machine. I do wonder whether the new 25-player raid cap will make guilds more coherent and loyal. There is always hope.
When trying to get my guild to considor some kind of loot set up, I stumbled across the Suicide Kings system, and I've got to say, I like it. While it is certainly not perfect, I think it goes a long way towards fixing some inherant flaws in a DKP setup.

However, regardless of what setup you use, if there's only one druid on that raid, he'll still get all the loot. Unless your in some draconian guild that would DE something someone could use...
Leaving a guild with "negative" DKP is just poor form. Nothing more, nothing less. Everybody is "gifted" DKP in systems to begin with (well, most systems), but to actually consider it a gift is probably incorrect. When I left my last guild, I had been considering leaving them for a while and I made sure that I had DKP in excess of the initial gifting just because I wanted to avoid it looking like I went out of my way to shaft the guild.

Hey, we've all seen it. The guy with a bunch of DKP who blows it all in one night, overpays for a few items and suddenly gquits the next day. The guy that everybody knows was aware he was going to quit and decided to bleed as many epics as he could at the last second. That's what leaves the bad taste, people planning their departure and giving the appearance that they're sticking it to their guild as they walk out the door.
Leaving in the negative is usually bad form, but like you said, it's probably due to loot distribution. When I left my EQ raiding guild to come to WoW, I was #2 in spendable DKP, with the only person higher the raid leader. I could have bought, easily, any top two pieces of loot and not have any one even come close. Gear up the twinks! But since that would leave a bad taste in people's mouths, and be a sad way to go out, I didn't.

At least WoW has the ability to shard stuff, so epics aren't "wasted", or rot. On my first real MC run, I got 2 purples, simply because I was the only one who could use them/wanted them. Guild rules say 1 purple max, unless this exact situtation was hit.

And as a priest, which is only barely above warlock and druid for least played, I can probably expect this to continue. The other raid priests are wearing 5-8 pieces of their epic stuff, and usual priest turn out seems to be 2-3. 20 people might want that great sword, but at most, there's 5 people who want random_healing_item.
Well, as you say, you can only achieve fairness within one class. It doesn't matter that the warriors have more DKP than the druid here, only the relative scores between the druids. I play a druid in a guild that uses zero-sum DKP, and I went way negative while gearing up in MC. But because it's zero-sum, my score only mattered in relation to the scores of other druids -- I could still buy items without being above zero. I just had to be above the other druids on the run.

That being said, I agree that it's poor form to leave when negative. I always figured I should be close to zero if I decided to quit (which I have no plans too -- still having fun) just because that means that I've put as much into the system as I've taken out.
I left a guild I was perfectly happy with until I hit 60 and wanted to raid. Luckily the guild I found is decent and I enjoy my time there.

Unfortunately since I joined this guild specifically to raid and not friendship my loyalty is more toward raiding than it is to the guild itself. If this guild decided they didn't want to raid anymore I would quickly find another guild. And I don't even consider myself a hardcore raider. But at 60 that's all that is left to do. I don't want to spend time going on my millionth UBRS run.

With that said, I think it is okay for people to go to other guilds for better opportunities. If there is a system in place that allows you to purchase things with the dkp you've earned - I really can't see a problem with that. And when you leave the guild, you take with you the experience and gear you acquired but that's the way it goes. If you did it in an underhanded way - I hope that word gets spread around to be on the look out for you.

This negative dkp system seems to allow you to get epics on credit - not sure if that's a wise thing to do.
I personally hate the DKP system, but it's what my guild goes by.

And btw, druids are unquestionably not the least played class. Warlocks are. You can find some solid numbers at

And if you run Census+ on your server, you will see the same.
I have some notes on a DKP system I'm designing:
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