Loot rules

How to distribute stuff has always been a big debate since people started having to group up to get the loot. Many guilds use all sorts of different systems, each claiming that theirs is the best. A common gripe among casual players is that they are firmly against any sort of DKP (Dragon Kill Points) which is basically a way of tracking how many times a player has helped to kill bosses and rewards them accordingly.

Many times, loot rules will be the biggest reason for drama and discontent in a guild because an incident occured that wasn’t “fair”. And people will come up with all sorts of tweaks and adjustments in order to make their system “more fair”.

What I think people fail to realise is that there is no definition of “fair”. When someone, somewhere, gets a piece of loot over someone else, a case can almost always be made that it’s “not fair”.

For example, what is fair? Does it mean that everyone has an equal chance of loot? Ok, that sounds like a reasonable definition. So random /roll on all loot will accomplish this perfectly because it’s a uniform distribution…

But wait, what if during the night some guy is on a hot streak and ends up rolling high and winning every single piece of loot that drops? Somehow, this isn’t “fair” anymore. So do we restrict people to 1 piece per night? That sounds “fair” again.

Ok, then a great tanking shield drops. Your tank has been waiting for this for 6 months, coming night after night just hoping that this item drops. But a off-tank who logs on once a month then rolls a 100 and gets the item, which goes into his bank. Is this “fair”? Yes and no, it was a random roll, but it doesn’t seem like the regular tank got a good deal out of it.

So what now? Maybe there should be some way of tracking player efforts historically, so that they can be rewarded accordingly. Enter DKP, Suicide Kings, zero-sum DKP etc etc etc… Also enter accusations of hoarding DKP, forced loot when someone doesn’t want to spend it on a minor upgrade, and of course complaints by non-regular raiders that they basically can’t keep up with the DKP of regular raiders and thus “never get the chance to loot”.

To deal with this, some people go to… Loot Council! Where a group of people will vote and decide on who gets loot, with no /rolling and no DKP. The loot will be distributed for the benefit of the guild and go to those to whom it is the biggest upgrade etc etc. Sounds great and “fair”. So did communism by the way.

My take on it is this… it doesn’t really matter what system you have, the important thing is that there actually is a system. Despite what many people claim, there is no “fairest” system because what’s fair differs from case to case. Random roll doesn’t really work well because a raid isn’t like a pugged heroic, the efforts to kill the boss do not extend only to that particular fight and many people will feel disgruntled if their efforts learning fights and clearing previous trash bosses go completely unrewarded. Some form of DKP helps to track this. To counter the argument of the more casual raiders never being able to loot, remember that the hardcore raiders get many more chances at seeing the item that they want drop. By the laws of probability, they earn more DKP because they come to more raids but they also spend more DKP because they see more drops. Thus, by the time the casual sees item X drop, most likely many hardcore raiders already have it so they get it anyway. The only time this comes into dispute is when a very rare top of the line weapon drops from a difficult boss, in which case I would say a case can be made for it going to the people with 2000 DKP anyway since they’ve been waiting for it forever. A casual doesn’t NEED to get the absolute best spelldamage weapon in the game, he can get the next best one since all the others already have it. Remember, gear has a much smaller effect on performance than most people think.

Loot council is the absolute worst system there can possibly be, because there is no system at all. No matter how good the intentions of the council members, there are many subconscious prejudices that will affect any such decisions. And because there is no transparent system, a disgruntled player can very easily convince himself (rightly or wrongly) that there is favouritism in loot distribution. Plus with the intelligence of the average WoW player (hint: rogue class leader who thinks that a) subtlely is good raid dps b) other officers are dumb enough to believe him) I think people should be a lot more cynical about the effectiveness of Loot Council.

In short, as long as there is a system and the rules apply to all players strictly and in a transparent manner, most people will be honest enough to accept it. If they lose out on a piece of loot today, they know that if another day the situation was reversed the winner would be on the other end of the stick. No amount of tweaking of rules will ever prevent “unfairness”, the important thing is to ensure that it’s “equally unfair”. The people who try to game the system will always try to do so, no matter what new rules you put it. So don’t add new rules, get rid of players who are obviously asshats.

And remember that in the end, loot will come in time. If you never get an item, so be it, the continued success of the raid proves that you didn’t need it.

4 thoughts on “Loot rules

  1. I think the idea behind the Loot Council is that rules being rules, can be bent or manipulated.

    If you reward dkp based on boss kills, then it makes more sense for players to come for farm nights where you make 5 boss kills than to come for a learning night.

    If DKP is awarded based on attendance, you still cannot differentiate between the efforts of players who spend time outside of raid to improve their gear/skills? Or someone who comes to raid with a crappy pvp spec instead of pve? Ideally, a guild should be able to punish poor attitude by benching the player.

    Loot council if done well, with a knowledgeable and fair-minded council and supported by guidelines and data (i.e attendance, dps etc) to back their decisions, could ideally be better than any DKP system. But given the lack of transparency, even the perception of prejudices and favoritism will end up as a disaster. In the case of DKP, it is a mechanical system. In the case of loot council, losing out on loot becomes personal -“These people think that xxx deserves that loot more than I do”. People may feel persecuted even if they truly did not deserve the item.

  2. Further to miucat’s comments, any people with brains would have notice certain patterns of a certain player during learning nights and also notice the player’s performance. If they cannot notice, then they need a +int meta attach to their head or just in the state of denial.

    On another note, I believe that, everyone would have know WHAT item they NEED from a particular boss. As a raider, you do actually NEED to PLAN your gear. Not looting every single item along the way.

    Having a loot system basically helps to see who has priority to that item.

  3. Yah, I also agree that you need a system. But many people somehow think DKP is unfair, and X or Y system is so much “fairer”.

    In the end, the loot system is like a law. The law may or may not actually be a good law, but the main thing is that everyone has to be equal in the eyes of the law. As long as the law is in force, then everyone MUST follow it. If everyone agrees that the law is dumb, then they should get together and change it so that in future it is better. But you will never be able to get a system that is perfect and handles everything “fairly”. You can’t even say whether something is “more fair” than another system because by its very nature any change you make will have some winners and some losers and both sides always got their own reasons.

  4. Actually you can parallel loot rules with corporate hierarchy.

    Pure DKP is like seniority based promotion/compensation where you are rewarded based on how long you’ve been in the company, regardless of your performance.

    A loot council system can be more performance based but it doesn’t foster loyalty to the company (guild). Both have their pros and cons but when you join a guild,as in joining a new company, you should know about the loot rules and see what you are in for.

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