Behind the Scenes: Loot Council

This might end up being one of the longest and most in depth posts you’ll ever read here about the loot council system. I tweeted a couple of weeks ago asking if people would be interested in an example of what happens to go on behind the scenes when loot is being decided. A resounding number said yes!

Took me about 7+ hours to conceptualize, write, and edit this one. Thanks to my guys for their help and suggestions.

What is loot council?

It is basically a group of players who decide which items go to which player when they drop in a raid. And before you say anything, yes it is entirely prone to favoritism. And yes, it is possible for it to be corrupt. Keep in mind though, the effectiveness of loot council is entirely dependant on your loot council. If they are nothing more than sniveling, selfish players who award loot only to themselves, then yes that is a problem. But if your loot council has progression first and foremost in mind, then it’ll work out in the end.

It’s not about being fair

A lot of players make the case that it isn’t fair.

You’re absolutely right.

Loot council is not designed to be fair.

In fact, it is far and away the worst system when it comes to fairness. Fairness is going to very by player and by situation. If a really awesome trinket drops, does it go to the new player who’s still using that 219 trinket who just joined the guild? Or does it go to the veteran who wants to replace his 264 trinket with a slightly upgraded version? Strong cases could easily be made for both. You could argue that that the new player would benefit the most from it as its the biggest upgrade for him (and consequently, overall raid DPS would increase). On the other hand, it could be used as a reward for the veteran for his consistent attendance and performance and that he deserves it (and has a higher chance of it sticking around in the guild as opposed to someone taking it and leaving).

When I pick out my council, I give them free reign on names and selections. They can only pick from the players who have listed themselves. They don’t have to give reasons for their judgments. Ultimately though, the one criteria I instill upon them is to do what’s best for the guild. If it means awarding a freshly minted player who just joined the guild with a trinket, that’s okay. If it means handing it off to a veteran, that’s okay too.

Every case is unique. We don’t operate on precedent because we can’t afford to “handcuff” ourselves in that manner.

Who is on it?

I try to maintain a fairly balanced class composition on the LC. It looks something like:

  1. Healer
  2. Tank
  3. Melee DPS
  4. Ranged DPS
  5. Other (Usually another ranged DPS, but it varies)

For me, the two criteria it takes to sit on it are both:

a) Basic knowledge of other classes and what’s desirable stats for them
b) Actually wanting to be on it

A surprising number of players I’ve approached over the 2 years have said they were hesitant to sit on it because they weren’t sure if they wanted that pressure or that power. I don’t want a player that screams “PICK ME PICK ME PICK ME”, I try to go after players who are willing to do it but are fine if they don’t.

If there’s some sort of bias detected, that council member is restricted from voting. For example, if someone’s fiancé or girlfriend or brother is up for an item, that council member would not be allowed to say anything. They can provide advice or notes, but that’s it. When that happens, an officer steps in temporarily and takes their spot. The same thing happens if it’s an item that a loot council member wants: They’re not allowed to vote (unless they pass). We try to minimize the obvious biases as best as possible.

Confused? Not every loot council member is an officer, that’s why an officer can periodically make a decision to fill in.

Loot council usually rotates after a month to several months depending on a number of things (Where we’re at in progression, boredom, “freshness” factor, etc).

Members have a say too!

In 80% of the loot decisions, we don’t actually have to come to a ruling. Back when we formed, Syd and I added a slight twist allowing our members to decide if something truly is an upgrade for them or not. Check out my macro:

LOOT OPTIONS
Int = You want and is a main spec upgrade
Pass = You want it, but can afford to wait or will not be using right away
Off = Off spec item
Say nothing = No interest in item

Yes, it’s tiered. Saying Interested signifies immediate desire and that it’s usable. Saying pass means you want it, but you won’t be able to use it until you get another piece of gear (like hit rating adjustments) or its a relatively minor upgrade (going from a 251 level item to a 264).

Anyway, I’ll give you a few of the loot scenarios and some of the decisions that I made. Keep in mind, there’s 5 of us. When someone says they want something though, we’ll ask them to link the current item that they wish to replace.

Give you an example:

[Coldwraith Links] has dropped.

Loot Master: 5
DPS warrior: Int [Vengeful Noose]
Loot Master: 4
Death Knight 1: Int [Coldwraith Links]
Death Knight 2: Int [Coldwraith Links]
Loot Master: 3
Loot Master: 2
Death Knight 3: pass
Loot Master: 1
Ret Pally: pass
Loot Master: –

Right off the bat, we’ll strike Death Knight 3 and our Ret Pally off the list. They both want it, but for whatever reason, they’re willing to wait or not able to use it (or are just being generous because maybe they’ve gotten a bit of upgrades that week). This case is one of the tougher ones we’ve had to deal with because all 3 partys’ could make a strong case for themselves.

But it’s easy in that since any of them could use it, the whole guild would benefit anyway regardless of who got it. I’m thinking big picture at this point. If memory serves, I think we gave it to Death Knight 2 because Death Knight 1 had gotten something earlier that night or that week. Honestly, it was a coin toss between the Death Knight and the Warrior.

Let’s do a tier example.

Conqueror’s Mark of Sanctification

Holy Priest – Int (42 badges) – Has no tier piece
Shadow Priest – Int (33 badges) – Has 1 tier piece (Shoulders), 251
Prot Paladin (off tank) – Int (60 badges) – Has no tier piece
Warlock – Int (60 badges) – Has 1 tier piece (Legs), 251
Ret Pally – Int (55 badges) – Has 1 tier piece, (Shoulders) 264

Let’s travel back in time a few months where tier tokens were still relatively new and not many players had tier pieces equipped yet. When it came to tier, we looked at factors like the amount of Emblems they had. We also wanted to know if they already had the 251 level tier pieces. We also had a quick chat with the players to really figure out which set bonuses were okay and which set bonuses were jaw droppingly awesome. Our mindset with tier is that we knew it would be a constant drop rate. We wanted to try to spread it out as much as possible. It was up to the raiders themselves individually to do dailies or whatever they could to get as much Frost Emblems as they could. Over a span of several weeks, our accessibility to tier would increase anyway. It was our job to determine who got what tier first.

Keep in mind, at the time Saurfang was the only boss who dropped tier at the time.

The first thing we looked at was how quick the token could be spent and used. The Shadow Priest would have been able to upgrade their tier shoulders immediately. The Holy Priest would need another week or two to purchase the 251. The Prot Paladin would also benefit and has not bought any tier yet. The Ret Pally already received one from the week before, striking her from the list. It would’ve been a tough call between the Warlock and the Prot Paladin. For me personally, I would’ve awarded it to our Warlock. It gives him immediate access to a 264 piece and a 2 piece with the shoulders.

Conqueror would drop again and it would’ve been pretty easy to “map” out the next few drops anyway.

Phylactery for the Nameless Lich (heroic)

Loot Master: 5
Shadow Priest: Int Phylactery of the Nameless Lich
Loot Master: 4
Warlock: Int Muradin’s Spyglass
Mage: Int Eye of the Broodmother
Loot Master: 3
Loot Master: 2
Loot Master: 1
Shadow Priest: pass
Loot Master: –

Here’s some background information. Both the Warlock and the Mage joined the guild the same day. The Shadow Priest has been around for 9 months as a regular raider. Our Shadow Priest notices the trinkets the other two are using and realizes it would be a better upgrade for the other two and decides to withdraw his name from consideration. Seeing as the Mage and Warlock are new and that extensive notes have been taken so far on their performance. The Warlock has been performing extremely well with top 5 finishes on most boss fights. The Mage is about average to below average (10th-15th with massive fluctuations). Unfortunately, the Warlock was mind controlled on Blood Queen because his target had already been bitten. In terms of drops, the Warlock had received no items that night and the Mage received both a Vanquisher token and a neck upgrade (both immediately used).

It’s now down to the battle of the recruits.

This is one of those “investment” type calls. Who are we most likely to keep? Who is most likely to go? We don’t know. It’s difficult to gauge that especially on a day 1 (a little easier after week 1). Do we give it to the Warlock as a reward so far for his efforts (except for the blown bite)? Or do we give it to the Mage to escalate his gear further? We’re aware that his DPS isn’t as high as the rest and it would really bring it in line. But he already received two items that night.

Those were just some of the questions that ran through my head. Ultimately, the Phylactery would’ve been an upgrade for either of the two. And for me, I would’ve sided with the Warlock just for the sake of even distribution.

Heroic Solace of the Defeated

Holy Priest – Int – Heroic Althor’s Abacus, Glowing Twilight Scale
Disc Priest – Int – Talisman of Resurgence, Glowing Twilight Scale
Resto Shaman – Int – Heroic Althor’s Abacus, Purified Lunar Dust
Resto Druid – Int – Ephemeral Snowflake, Heroic Althor’s Abacus
Resto Druid 2 – Int – Ephemeral Snowflake, Talisman of Resurgence
Holy Paladin – Int – Sliver of Pure Ice, Althor’s Abacus

Let’s try some healing trinkets. They are one of the biggest headaches in the game due to the number of players that want them when they drop. For me, when a player gets two powerful trinkets, I cut them off for the rest of the expansion. Again, I want to minimize the number of wasted drops. No point for us giving a trinket to one person only for them to replace it the week after when another player also could have benefited from it.

Here’s the information:

The Holy Paladin is entering finals for law school. He’s already declared that he will not be able to show up for the next 3 weeks. The Resto Druid received his Abacus earlier that week.

Ugh, tough decisions. The Holy Priest is just being plain greedy, so he gets struck. He’s already using trinkets that will last him the length of the expansion (probably that Matt guy who wants it, greedy bastard). The Holy Paladin could also put it to good use, but it won’t be effective for the next 3 weeks. The Resto Druid already got something that week, he’s out. Resto Druid 2 missed out on 2 straight progression raids without letting anyone know. Now it’s down to the Disc Priest and the Resto Shaman.

Looking across the board and seeing how everyone (and their mother) seems to already have an Althor’s Abacus, I’d award it to the Resto Shaman. The Disc Priest could benefit from an Abacus or a Solace. The Resto Shaman could use the Solace and then be done for trinkets for the expansion. It’s a narrow decision, but it ultimately gets awarded to the Resto Shaman because the Disc Priest trinkets could be completed with any of the 2 above options.

Final thoughts

Generally, most items take seconds to resolve. The ones that take the longest end up being:

  • Weapons
  • Trinkets
  • Rings

Those take the longest because many classes have vested interest. Look at an item like the Ring of Rapid Ascent. It’s one of the top items by practically everyone (casters and healers).

Granted, we do make mistakes. For every 4 or so good loot decisions we make, there’s a bad one that bites us in the ass. A Glowing Twilight Scale was handed off to a Paladin because no other healers wanted it at the time. He left after 2 weeks. We passed a Deathbringer’s Will to a feral Druid who had been a long standing member of the guild before he departed to try his hand at a higher progression guild. Since the inception of the guild, we’ve had over 115 players contribute to the success of our raids and for various reasons, they have dropped out and retired (Getting married, moving, getting yelled at by SO for too much WoW time, school, work, etc).

I have never had a single player leave and cite the reason for their departure as “unfair loot system”. We have a strong recruiting process and players that (we think) are self-centered when it comes to drops don’t usually make it past week 1.

It takes a dedicated and unique organization to make this loot system work. Everyone needs to be onboard with it and absolutely must buy into the system. That’s the reason it works. It’s because players understand it isn’t always about loot.

In the event the council is evenly split or unable to come to a decision (say an item benefits 4 people on the council and they all want it), then any officers present will make the call. If it’s a 5 way split (which rarely happens), another officer is asked to make a pick so that it becomes a 2-1-1-1-1 decision. Lastly, for anything that cannot easily be decided, I invoke what’s called the Matt clause. It usually happens if there’s a number of loot council players or officers who are either absent or unable to vote. If that occurs, I make the decision regardless of whether I can vote or not. If I’m not present, that falls to the raid leader, then the main tank, and on down the chain of command until its resolved.

Remember, we have a raid to run and bosses to kill. We can’t spend all that time debating. Unless it’s a Deathbringer’s Will, it’ll drop again.

We’re not completely infallible. Just like referees, we make bad calls too. But hey, this system isn’t for everyone. But it definitely works for us (we took down heroic Putricide last week on 25 man, and that guy was a nut case).

While I suspect a number of you won’t agree (and will continue to disagree) with this system, I hope this post has at least shed some light on how a guild could do the job. I know of a guild where a Shaman immediately LC’s mail gear to himself for all 3 specs. It’s unfortunate that cases like that happen, but they do exist. I wanted to write this to illustrate that not every guild or loot council is corrupt (at least, not intentionally).

Book Review: The Guild Leader’s Handbook

There is a book for everything it seems. Some will tell you how to hack an iPhone, others will tell you how to cook rare and exotic treats. In the gaming world there has been everything from strategy and content guides to art books and everything in between.

A few weeks ago a new book hit the stands, The Guild Leader’s Handbook by Scott F. Andrews. Scott is not only an accomplished and long time  guild leader in World of Warcraft, but also the author of “Officers’ Quarters” on wow.com. His book takes a look at what it is to run a guild in today’s modern MMOs and offers readers both looking to start a guild and those who have been at it a while, a cornucopia of information from his collected experiences. Today I’d like to share my thoughts on the book with you.

Before we begin I’d like to make a few things clear. Firstly, Yes I do write for wow.com as one of the class columnists. This does not mean however that I will be unfairly biased towards the book. I have had little to no interaction with Scott and anyone who knows me or has listened to my podcast knows that I do not temper my criticism and critiques based on acquaintances or tangential relations. In short, friend or foe I try to tell it exactly as it is and as unbiased as possible. In mathematical terms we would call this “Correlation does not imply causation”. Secondly, while I myself am not currently a Guild Leader in WoW, I have lead numerous successful guilds, super-groups, and various other groupings in many other games. I am however still the Healing Lead and one of the raid officers for the guild I call home, and thus in a leadership position within the structure.

The first thing I noticed when opening this book, is the level of accessibility. It was very well written and very easy not only to read but digest. The concepts and ideas in the book are thoughtfully laid out and the way the topics are grouped not only make sense logically, but allow the material to be more easily digested. Potentially confusing concepts are quickly explained, often times with a real life scenario that the author has experienced himself. The second thing I noticed while reading this book is the confirmation of the author’s depth of experience. The familiarity he writes about the topics is comforting and also conveys a sense of certainty that is easily lost when writing something of this nature.

The book itself covers many topics such as;

  • Forming a guild and making it successful
  • Choosing a guild size and focus
  • Dealing with guild drama
  • Differences between leading a guild and leading a raid
  • Loot distribution
  • Alternate styles of guilds (PvP, RP)
  • Choosing officers
  • Guild Morale
  • Planning for the long term
  • Dealing with Real Life

Seems like a lot to cover in such a small book doesn’t it? It is, but the author cuts out most of the unnecessary and leaves in the most relevant information to the topic. Each topic is subdivided and dives into specifics and does so with the perfect amount of detail.

There were a few pieces that really stood out to me while reading this. First was the section on forming a guild. Beyond setting a size and focus for your guild, the author talked about a topic that I think deserves some attention. Forming a guild identity and presence. For any established guild or group, their name and longevity carry a certain weight to them. If you think about any guilds, corps or fellowships you may have come across, I’m certain you can find at least one where their name is well known. For a new guild starting out it can be hard to forge an identity and establish a presence. The author offers some solid advice for creating a server presence. This ranges from specializing and becoming rock solid at a particular goal, having a history of cooperation with other people and guilds to having fun contests and events. One example that I found particularly enjoyable was the idea of taking a completely meaningless piece of land in the game and claiming it as your own, while challenging anyone to take it from you and doing anything you can to hold on to it. That would certain generate some notice, and could be a particularly fun event.

Next was explaining the differences between leading a guild, and leading a raid. The distinction is one that sometimes goes unnoticed. A lot of players seem to feel the two are always synonymous. The author explains the characteristics of a guild leader very well and talks about the shift in personae needed to lead a raid. The two can often times be polar opposites of each other. A guild leader is at the end of the night the ultimate authority of a guild. They can control who becomes officers, who is kicked or invited and tend to be looked upon as the arbiters for any guild disputes. Compassion, openness, friendliness and approachability all play very well to a guild leaders station. A raid leader has to evaluate performances constantly while keeping the group focused. They have to play the role of team captain, coach and player all at the same time. Leading by example, but also calling out problems and fixing issues as quickly as possible. This can sometimes involve not being very nice and squishy in your assessments. I was quite pleased to read this section here and it would be something I encourage not only people in leadership roles to read, but also those in a raider position. It is very much like being friends with your boss outside of work. When you’re at work you still need to work, and it’s your bosses job to keep you focused.

Another part that particularly stuck out to me was the section detailing real life interactions and issues. Even though this is a game, it is a social network. You are interacting with other players regularly, and you are devoting time out of real life to play this game with other people. As a result real life will always impact a gamers life and a game may affect the life of those that play it. This section of the book covers topics like dealing with addictions (both substance and potential video game addiction), Depression and mental illness, sexual predators, relationship problems, family problems, burnout and criminal confessions. These are real life topics that can and do affect people who play MMOs. This section offers advice to deal with these situations as they arise. Let’s not forget it wasn’t so long ago that a criminal was tracked down through WoW by law enforcement.

This section also talks about planning real life meet-ups. Investing as much time as you do in a guild there may come a time where you want to meet the people behind the avatars face to face. It sometimes requires a lot of planning, but can indeed be exceptionally rewarding.

So in the end what does this book really have to offer?

For the new guild leader or leadership role

A plethora of information that is neatly gathered in one place for you. There is a lot that goes into forming and running a guild. This book takes the information and neatly bundles it for you for easy consumption. The information contained in the book is very accurate, and is very universal in it’s approach. The advice offered is solid, well thought out and has been tried and tested by the author himself. The book may have items you never thought to consider, or just did not occur to you. It offers a new officer or guild leader a chance to be prepared and also educates you on exactly what you can expect. Everything from personalities in the guild and group dynamics to planning for the future and longevity of your guild. All the basics you could possibly need to know are detailed here for you.

For the old-hand

Even if you have been playing MMOs for a long time and are quite experienced at leading groups, running guilds and leading raids, this book will offer something that can often times be lost over time. Perspective. We fill these rolls for so long that things become second nature to us. Like everything sometimes it’s nice to have a refresher. No one is perfect 100% of the time, we all make mistakes or forget things. The way I view it is like this. Next to my computer I have a series of books for programming, APA style and formatting guides, marketing and business books and a variety of other reference material. No matter how long I’ve been doing something, there will be things that I will forget. Having these books handy gives me a reference. somewhere I can go to clarify questions and vague points or remind myself of things I may have forgotten. This book now has a permanent place on that shelf. For us old hands this book is a perfect reference to when we need to get back down to basics.

For the non leader

Even if you are not in a leadership role this book can offer you a great insight you might not have otherwise. Ever wonder why your guild leader made a particular decision but don’t really want to ask them? How about when a raid leader does something that you’re not quite sure of? This book will give you a basic understanding of what it is your guild’s leadership has to go through and constantly juggle to make sure the group remains stable and that you have a place you can unwind and have fun.

I applaud the author for this book. I found it easily accessible, accurate and a fantastic read. I was able to identify with the examples he presented right away and could have compared them to any number of stories from my own past in gaming. This book is a great starting point for anyone looking for form a guild, new to an officer position or for those who just want to understand what happens behind the scenes of their groups. On a personal level, reading this book allowed me to catch something happening in my very own guild that I almost missed simply by reading about it and being reminded of it.

The only criticism of it I have is that I feel it could have been longer.  Some of the sections could have been more fully explored and may have benefited from having a little more room to breathe. The book ends at a surprisingly short186 pages.

I feel it is well written, logically put together and is a must read for anyone seriously involved in MMOs and guild structure. Even with consideration of the length I feel that is well worth the money, and even more worth the time you would invest reading it.

The book retails for $24.95 us ($31.95 CDN) and can be purchased directly through the publisher’s website.

If you’ve read it and would like to share your thoughts on it we’d love to hear your opinion on it.

 

How To Win Epics And Influence People

Admit it. You like loot as much as I do. Maybe you oggle over stats on a new shiny with a calculator and spreadsheet at hand. Perhaps you spend a minute twirling your character around in the dressing room to see how a new item fits.

Whatever the case, you get that fuzzy feeling when you crouch over the still-sizzling and now gently glittering bit of the boss’ corpse and see that it’s dropped something for you.

But should you roll?

Minding your manners with loot is a basic expectation amongst WoW players in any group; organised, guild, PUG or otherwise for 5-25 mans. “Doin’ it rong” with loot could mean dire consequences for you. You could be laughed at, shunned by the community, or end up with your characters running around in eye-peelingly bright colours.

Doing it right, though, could mean that you get the loot you need and that people will consider you trustworthy. I don’t just mean regarding loot. Being sound of mind with loot etiquette is considered a signal that you are generally sound. Loot etiquette is about everyone getting the purples they want without unpleasant hold-ups. So if “your shinies or your life” doesn’t go down well, what is the right way?

I’m going to start off with some basic guidelines and then discuss a few of the finer points regarding loot. A lot of this column might seem like basic stuff to you if you’re a hardcore raider but it’s crucial stuff others have asked me to explain – and who knows, perhaps there’s something in it for everyone.

Either way it’s all subjective stuff and I expect – nay, demand, as any good highwayowl should – that it might inspire a healthy debate about how you expect others to mind their loot manners. But first hold your horses, on to the guidelines;

You should roll on an epic drop if:

  1. It’s a direct upgrade for your main spec. Sidenote: don’t feel guilty about rolling! A DK in my guild always used to feel guilty for rolling as though he hadn’t earned it. That’s tripe. You’ve as much right to roll as anyone else, especially if you’ve given it your all, no matter how little or large the meters ‘think’ that is.
  2. It’s a direct upgrade for your off-spec or a minor side-grade for your main spec if no-one else needs it as in point #1
  3. It’s a quest or seasonal item which you can reasonably assume that if people need it in order to complete their quest/achievement, they will roll. I’m thinking of things like Green Winter Hat. Frozen orbs also come under this category in random PUGs, these days

You should not roll on an epic drop if:

  1. It’s a BoE and you’re needing it for cash without asking/having a group consensus on doing this. I was in a PUG last week for which Avool’s Sword of Jin dropped from the first trash pack. Everyone greeded except the DPS warrior. When pressed by the rest of the group he said he needed it for his off spec. We asked him to equip it and he admitted he was needing it for his flying mount costs. This makes him a ninja, a liar and simply rude as he didn’t apologise at all – all in one. Don’t be that guy.
  2. The item doesn’t have your exact stats and other people need kit with those stats. The obvious case in point here is if you’re a priestie healer and you roll on something with hit on it when there are cloth DPSers in the group. They won’t thank you for taking their epix, and you’ll likely replace it with better itemized pieces quickly anyway.
  3. You’re rolling against someone you run with weekly and it’s orders of magnitude a greater upgrade for him than for you. Take this one with a pinch of salt. It depends on your own opinion, your interpretation of your stats and on how nice you’re feeling, frankly. Passing on a bit of kit for someone else occasionally (don’t do it all the time) can be a kind act and can win you a friend for life (or at least a fortnight) and upgrading Clarence’s iLevel 200 shoes might just benefit the whole group.
  4. Thanks to Phaythe for this oneStat sticks. That is, if it’s a bow or gun and it’s an upgrade for a hunter, melee DPS shouldn’t roll on it. It’s not as much an upgrade for you as for the hunter whose ranged weapon provides a large amount of his DPS. Likewise, hunters shouldn’t roll on melee weapons if meleers need them, for the same reason.

Basic principles that those are, they’re still shrouded by a grey miasma. For example, no basic etiquette list is going to help you if you haven’t got some grip on your class. You do need to know which stats are useful for your class and spec, to stop you getting laughed or nerd-raged at for rolling on tank loot as a fury warrior because it’s purple and you’re in greens, and that’s all you know.

But I’m no theorycrafter, I hear you cry. ” That’s fine. It is essential that you have a basic grasp of your stats but you don’t need any more than that if you don’t want to confuse yourself for whatever reason. Perhaps you’re a fresh 80 wanting to take it slow, just not a stat-interested person, perhaps you’re new to the class, or just get confused with amounts of stats – whatever the reason, step one is to remember that it’s ok to only have a basic grasp; you don’t need to be a human WoW stat splicer if you don’t want to be. Just get as far into stats as you’re comfortable with.

Step 2 in this case is to be proactive. Get that basic knowledge of your stats. There are websites out there with information for all classes and specs, and a lot of those sites have people who are genuinely helpful if you ask questions. You could also use sandbox websites like Warcrafter, customizeable stat-weighting addons like Pawn or programs like Rawr in advance and when loot drops so you know what items and stats to look for.

Likewise, you could also find friends or helpful players who can answer questions like “do I need more hit” or “is Hersir’s Greatspear better than Twin’s Pact for me?”

And yes, players should be willing to help. They should know it’s entirely possible that players can gear up in Heroics and then hit raids with gaps in their knowledge. I have, as a new bear tank who geared up purely in Heroics and is starting to raid from a bear’s furry perspective – looking straight at ICC loot. The end-game raids *are* the training grounds in WotLK.

If all else fails and the roll-timer is running low (it’s not that long if you’re agonizing over rolling) then you could always ask in raid chat whether it’s ok that you need X too. If the other rollers are nice and considerate they’ll either say “sure go ahead” or “no, because ABC good reason, for you”. An answer like “omg no feck off its mine noob” is a sure reason that they are only in it for themselves and you should probably roll.

You could also look at min-maxing if you do have a grasp of stats and you want to wring more out of your items. In order to avoid mis-looting in this case you’ll need an even clearer grasp on your class; which stats are useful and until which point (for example, soft crit cap if you’re a holy priest), how much to stack some stats while safely ignoring others. You’ll also need to keep updated with hotfixes and theorycrafting trends – and it’ll behoof you to be flexible if the theorycrafters turn a long-held cornerstone of your class on its head.

This is a real beartrap (or owl, or… you get the idea) as regards etiquette. If your stat requirements change due to min-maxing or trying new set ups, it might make you appear inconsistent or dopey – at best – when rolling for loot. At worst, it might make you seem plain weird or rude, because you might be rolling on things you weren’t interested in last week or items which other people think aren’t exactly suited to you.

I wasn’t kidding when I said loot etiquette was subjective. In this case the best method is probably to say “I want to roll on this because I’m over the soft crit cap and need some haste”; sounding reasonable is going to be more acceptable and trustworthy than, say, swearing and disappearing in a homely blue beam.

There is another form of min-maxing specifically related to PUGs vs. guild runs. I think of it as the loyalty <-> selfishness temptation. Say you’re in a PUG run and a piece of loot drops which is a side-grade for your character. Or maybe you think the item might be useful in one or two progression encounters; in reality it’d likely never see the light of day out of your backpack. It so happens that it’s also a huge upgrade for some of the other healers in your PUG. Do you roll on it because 6 extra haste might give you an edge in your guild’s progression night? Guild comes first, right? Every little helps?

Yes. So does it for the other healers in your PUG. They want to give their guild’s runs an edge, too, and they want to progress their character. In this case the etiquette really is personal preference. I’d say if it’s not that much benefit to you then be nice – it’ll make that healer’s day and may gain you another healer’s loyalty.

In any case, if the drops are perfectly stat’ed for your spec and it is an upgrade then you should roll, right?

Wait.

The only thing is – you’re a mail wearer, and the drop’s cloth. This is a frequent event for my resto shaman. I’m currently wearing two pieces of cloth from badges – but useful (and indeed on the BiS list for me) raid-drop cloth? Those I won’t get for a long time because there are clothies in my group. I wouldn’t even consider rolling against them. Generally you’ll be looked at askance and have some trust-points taken off if you ask to roll on loot that’s not your armour proficiency. It’s Bad Manners.

This is all particularly relevant when there are no loot systems in place. To a certain extent loot systems remove the need for etiquette towards other players, as they give you an incentive to wait for the thing you really need. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still be nice, considerate, and win some friends with (or without) a set loot system like DKP or Suicide Kings.

 

What do you think? Are loot manners the stuff of life or of forgotten legend for WoW? Do you have problems with etiquette because you don’t know what to roll on and don’t feel you can admit it? Do you think loot systems are much safer? Are there any other grey areas that irk you regarding loot?

This is a post by Mimetir, a druid of a raidleader on The Venture Co. (EU). You can find my twitter feed here.

Article images originally by Migraine Chick and unforth @ Flickr

Guest Post: Tanks and Healers Should Get The Biggest Rewards

This is a guest post from We Fly Spitfires.

Tanks and healers are the most important classes for any group. Tanks set the pace of the group, the flow of experience and man the vanguard as they lead the team into battle. Healers mend the broken bones of their companions and keep the tanks a live – without the healers there could be no tanks and there could be no group. These are the two most important classes that exist in any MMORPG. But the DPS? They’re just meat in the room.

Look at it in terms of supply and demand and stress and responsibility. Tanks and healers are in consistent short supply whereas DPS are a dime a dozen. And there’s a reason for that. Tanking isn’t easy and it comes with a lot of pressure and responsibility. Do it right and the group will sing your praises for days to come yet do it badly and you’re on the receiving end of every criticism and jibe. Healing is much the same and also comes with it’s own set of stresses and strains. If the tank dies who gets the blame? Not the DPS classes that didn’t burn the mob down fast enough but the healer who didn’t heal well enough. They carry the heart and soul of the party on their shoulders and all of the difficulties that come with that.

And raiding? That’s even more stressful. Not only do we even already acknowledge the importance of tanks and healers in this situation. We have Main Tanks and even Main Healers but who’s ever heard of a Main DPS before? There’s a huge amount of pressure to do these jobs right. Sub-par DPS can join a raid (even if it’s not desirable) but sub-par tanks cannot tank one and poor healers cannot heal one.

All of this stands to reason that tanks and healers should get bigger rewards than anyone else. I mean, it’s in our culture to reward those that do the most and work the hardest, right? Call it a Tank or Healer Bonus, and a well deserved one at that. They are more important and necessary than anyone else, rarer to find, and they’re jobs are a lot tougher and far more stressful. They’re like the mommas and papas of any group, bringing the necessary order and structure. Without a tank there is no group, without a healer there is no group. DPS can just be picked up randomly as required.

I’ve got nothing against DPS. It’s fun and there’s nothing wrong with that but they simply don’t deserve the equality of rewards. Tanks and healer should get a little something extra on the side (maybe a nice ‘Thank You Drop’ from the boss mobs they fell) because they have the hardest and most demanding jobs and are traditionally the slowest to level up (unless you turn them into DPS). They require the most effort and who can argue that as a result they should get the biggest rewards?

Do you agree or disagree? Why or why not?

Your Wish List vs. The Need Before Greed System

LEWT2

The other week, as a gift to you from us, we each offered to write and discuss a topic of your choice. Here’s what we came up with!

What do you want for Winter Veil? You want to wrap your boomkin snugly in an Ancient Polar Bear Hide or keep your holydin’s toes toasty in a pair of Mudslide Boots? Well you can’t have it.

Bah, humbug.

Patch 3.3 has hit just in time for the winter holidays – a time when a lot of us players manage to squeeze in extra time being a hero and getting shiny treasures. 3.3 brought a sled-load of new toys to play with in game, including the new dungeon finder system and its potential for random group member loot drama. As a result while using the dungeon finder we are all limited to needing only on items of our class’ armour type. You’re a paladin? You roll on plate. Plate, y’hear, no cloth for your healing set. Certainly no leather for you DPS warrior types! It’s not exactly ideal for anyone gearing up.

It’s the Winter Veil equivalent of a pair of socks: practical, but not exactly what you wanted.

What, I hear you cry? The 3.3 patch notes describe it best;

“Need Before Greed will now recognize gear appropriate for a class in three ways: the class must be able to equip the item, pure melee will be unable to roll on spell power items, and classes are limited to their dominant armor type (ex. paladins for plate). All items will still be available via Greed rolls as well as the new Disenchant option should no member be able to use the item.”

I can see the practical sense in this. It removes some arguments about loot before they’ve even begun. The rogue won’t get miffed at the shaman needing on and winning leather melee gear because the shaman just can’t. Likewise, the death knight who is prone to shiny object moments and rolls on spell power items accidentally – just can’t, and won’t have to explain himself to pitchfork wielding casters. Reducing the potential for arguments is a sensible, if slightly cynical, move in a system which promotes meeting random strangers who have no reason to relate to or sympathise with you.

Yet what does that do to your characters? It might be taboo but we all know that paladins do incorporate all types of armour into a healing set, have done since the beginning of the World … of Warcraft. A paladin friend of mine has recently started gearing up for his holy off spec. He would prefer plate items of course, but any type of item with spell power on it is better than healing with defence rating gear. We had the Azure Cloth Bindings drop for us just earlier today – and he couldn’t roll on them. Sure, he’d only have used them as a stop gap until something better and more, well, platey came along. But until then they would have seriously boosted his off spec prospects and none of the actual clothies in the group showed the slightest interest in wanting them anyway.

The only option for my friend, or anyone looking to boost their off spec with drops forbidden by the loot system, is to greed the item and hope that RNG is kind to them and doesn’t shard it for someone else. Or of course to keep running Heroics, waving sadly at these drops, and waiting until they’ve enough badges to get the badge equivalents.

Take another situation. You’re a tree who is so bored you’ve taken root in the middle of Dalaran and didn’t bat a branch when children – sorry, gnomes – covered you in tinsel and shiny lights two weeks ago. You want to do something different. Something fun. You’ve had the cookie-cutter spec for a while, got the gear, done everything you want to do. So you start playing around building your own spec – something hybrid that allows you to heal and CC or DPS without changing spec. Yes, healing and DPS – you know it happens, especially when people are bored. And Heroics aren’t exhilarating, let’s face it.

Say you want your druid to be able to do all that in one spec – well then, you’ll need to play around a bit with your stat distribution and probably get some new armour. Would you like some hit with that? How about a new party hat – the cloth Sightless Crown of Ulmaas would do the job. Oh wait – you’re a druid – you can’t roll on cloth, even if the rest of the party consists of three death knights and a warrior.

There are still a couple of loopholes, too. To my knowledge death knights and druids are able to roll on loot with block rating on it. A pointless stat to them, but perhaps your death knight tank decides that he is so desperate for something to upgrade from his blue helm that when Second Helm of the Executioner drops it is a must have even though the itemization is aimed more at the group’s paladin who is only tank as off spec.

Well, gratz to the death knight for the upgrade – but it’s only a minor victory for him, and leaves both him and the paladin a bit cold. Should Blizzard further tinker with the need before greed system? Perhaps add class specific tooltips – “classes: paladin, warrior” – to the aforementioned Executioner’s helm. Similarly for every item, and a filter that only allows the specified classes to roll on items with stats meant for them.

If this came into play then it would likely automatically further restrict itemization choices for players. Every rogue of the same playing level would look the same. Every healing priest would be in the same dress, every restoration shaman would have identical mail shoulders for restoration shamans. That Winter Veil tree druid in Dalaran would have even less freedom to play around with his spec and try new things. But at the same time – everyone would get loot cookie cuttered to cater the ‘correct’ stats to their spec.

Say that our off spec tank paladin from earlier wants the correct stats – for his protection off spec – and rolls need on the Executioner’s helm against the death knight tank. Whatever his reason, I’d bet the death knight isn’t impressed with him rolling for his off spec. Would you be, if someone else rolled against your main spec items? We’ve all seen it. Perhaps the need before greed system should take specs into account. A priest is healing in a random dungeon? Right, says the loot system. He can’t roll on items with hit on them like Bracer of Worn Molars, under any circumstances. On the up side he won’t be able to ninja, on the down side he won’t be able to prove he’s trustworthy or improve his shadow kit if everyone else passes on the toothy armguards there.

These are ridiculous ideas, I hear you cry. They’ll never happen! Maybe you’re right, or maybe they’ll happen at some point. I’m just saying that the need before greed system is already restrictive – unnecessarily so, perhaps. I for one am perfectly happy with a holydin rolling on cloth items so long as no clothies need the item, and so preventing holydins from doing it seems a potential waste of an item. It may be a slippery slope we find ourselves on in the name of wrapping classes up in their own specialised cotton wool.

What do you think? Is the need before greed system protecting us just the right amount in random dungeons at the moment – should it be more or less protective? Are you getting infuriated trying to gear up your new fury warrior? Is all this an argument to make a premade group so there aren’t limitations on loot?