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.