Trophy vs Token

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When Burning Crusade touched down we received a token system. The system tied multiple classes to a single drop from a boss. This allowed for less loot being sharded or discarded and allowed for quicker gearing as a guild. The tokens could then be turned in for your tier set pieces. A lot of people were afraid of this method, but it worked out really really well. Guilds were able to gear out their raiders quickly and efficiently and very little loot was left to rot. We began to see the starting of this in Vanilla WoW in Naxxramas and the tier 3 raid sets and AQ40 with the 2.5 pieces. “Token” bosses dropped two tokens a piece and everyone was generally happy.

When Wrath of the Lich King came out, it was more of the same. Naxxramas and Ulduar continued the token system along, but added with it two levels. A 10 man level and a 25 man level that we affectionately refer to as tier x and tier x.5. The system continued to work well. Bosses that were token droppers continued to drop two of them and it was even made so that we could purchase tokens with badges for two of the slots. Gearing was a bit faster now thanks to the addition of two purchasable tokens and content flew by for a lot of people.

Then patch 3.2 hit, and brought with it Tier 9 content. Trial of the Crusader distributed loot in a very, very strange manner. First of all the Tier 9 gear was split into three item levels of quality. We’ve been referring to them as Tier 9, Tier 9.25 and Tier 9.5. Tier 9 can be bough fairly cheaply with Badges of Triumph, the next level up 9.25 requires an amount of badges and a Trophy of the Crusade which can only be obtained in the 25 man version. The tier costs can better be broken down by this:

Tier 9 = ilvl 232 Tier 9.25 = ilvl 245  Tier 9.5 = ilvl 258

Head: 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector(item level 258) or 75 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 50 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Hands: 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector (item level 258) or 45 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 30 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Chest: 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector (item level 258) or 75 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 50 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Legs: 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector (item level 258) or 75 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 50 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Shoulders: 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector (item level 258) or 45 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 30 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Confused yet? Most people are. The stat difference between ilvl 226 gear (25 man uld) and ilvl 232 gear is not that big of a jump. going from 226 up to 245 is a big jump for most people. Enough of a gap that most pieces are clear upgrades. So why is this a problem? Trophies only drop from 25 man ToC. You get 1 per boss and a variable amount per tribute chest based on how many wipes you have. There are only five bosses in the instance. (Beasts, Jaraxxus, Champs, Twins and Anub). We’ll go with the model of running 25 man raids. You have 25 people, who all want that trophy. Being only 5 in total that means only roughly 20% of your raid a week can get them and upgrade. Lets look at Ulduar Five bosses drop token pieces, and two tokens per boss which is a theoretical 40% upgrade rate for your raid. The trophy system slowed gearing up way down because most people, especially those progression minded will be focusing on upgrades that can be obtained with Regalia (and it’s like tokens) from Trial of the Grand Crusader or Trophies and badges from Trial of the Crusader.

You can argue that with the drop increases from the tribute chest that better raids are rewarded based on performance, and that is true, but it does not really have any room for guilds that are done with Ulduar but not quite at Trial of the Grand Crusader (example would be guilds that just got a series of new recruits that need to be geared up before ToGC). This however can be chalked up to time spent in a normal version to gear people up, and get them used to the fights before heading into ToGC.

My main problem is the level of competition this generates in a raid. Right now in Ulduar if Gloves the the Wayware Protector drops, you know it’s going to a Warrior,  a Hunter or a Shaman. When a Trophy of the Crusade drops, everyone in the raid is sending tells. Everyone wants them over just regular tier 9 badge gear. I’ve seen this cause resentment and bitterness already in a couple people, and it can lead to bigger problems down the line. How do you distribute loot fairly? What is considered fair?

It’s for this reason I’m not a fan of the trophy system. I’m ok with working on harder content for a bigger reward. That is fine and dandy, but when I see an entire raid of people sitting, waiting, wondering if they’ll get the item it becomes a problem. I never saw this problem with a token system. Players might be mad at the game for dropping Vanquisher over Protector but it was RNG and nothing could be done about it. It’s a different story when you’re eligible for the item and watch other people get it over you. It’s a lot easier to accept something out of immediate control like RNG.

It’s not a bad idea in theory. It allows you to select the item you’re upgrading, it allows you to make sure anyone and everyone can use the items instead of seeing them rot due to RNG but I personally feel the token system is the way to go. While loot distribution is always an issue for any guild, I think the trophy system has too much potential to cause harm and additional stress that is unneeded in a raid / guild environment. I asked a question on Twitter about what people thought about the Trophy system. I got a surprising number of replies with people who just won’t run the content or have all together stopped raiding as  a result. I’ve also heard reports of guilds having to re work their entire loot system and policy because of this tier content, and that’s not good.

What do you think? Do you like the trophy / badge / three levels to the tier set? Do you hate it? Have you had any interesting stories revolving around loot distribution in tier 9 content?

Well, that’s my two cents on the subject until next time Happy Healing

Sig

Head 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector(item level 258) or

75 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 50 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Hands 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector (item level 258)

45 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 30 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Chest 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector (item level 258)

75 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 50 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Legs 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector (item level 258)

75 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 50 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Shoulders 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector (item level 258)

45 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 30 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

3 Proper Steps to Switching Mains

Throughout my tenure as GM, I’ve had to address a variety of challenging situations. One of the questions that GMs will undoubtedly face in their reign is the topic of switching mains.

Allow me to provide a scenario.

BarryManaLow is an Arcane Mage. He’s one of the main staples in the DPS lineup. Barry routinely comes in consistently as top 5. For his efforts, the council of Elrandom rewards him with the items necessary to contribute.

And then it happens.

Tragedy strikes.

Barry needs to take a 3 week leave of absence. Let’s say he’s got some real life issues and it’s the time of year where school exams are going to strike and he needs to focus and get it out of the way. He’s also getting slightly bored with the game and wants to recharge a little.

The boss signs off on it and brings a call up from the lower ranks to substitute in for good ol’ Barry. MissilesMcGee does an admirable job. He’s not quite top 5, but he’s coming in at a respectable top 10 placement.

Fast forward 3 weeks and Barry returns from leave. He discloses that he wants to switch mains. He’s not satisfied or happy playing on his mage. Barry has an alt Death Knight that he’d like to raid with instead.

Now it’s perfectly normal for any GM to be annoyed at this point. After all, you’ve spent time gearing the player up only to find that gear is going to go to waste and isn’t going to be contributing anymore.

So before you flip out and completely lose your cool, stop for a moment and breathe.

Step 1: Determine if there is a need

Is there a current need in the guild that needs to be fulfilled? Are you missing a tank or a melee DPS? Maybe you’re low on a healers. At this time, Conquest was lacking a solid third tank. We knew we would need one heading into the recent patch and we were doing what we could to find potential players to come in. Not many players responded because they didn’t meet our tanking requirements or just couldn’t fit our raiding schedule.

Barry provided an alternative as a Death Knight tank. He already knew the fights and our procedures. That solved that question. Chemistry wouldn’t be an issue since he knew how the guild operated. We wouldn’t have to worry about his in game smarts. This would bring up two more concerns.

Step 2: Can she hold her own?

Does the player demonstrate that they know what the heck they’re doing? If I were to switch from healing to tanking, I’d fail pretty hard at it because I wouldn’t know what the heck to do. When dealing with main switches, find out if the player has done the job before. An agreement was made where Barry had to work his way through a few lower level raids to prove his ability to tank.

You can think of it as a modified trial run. After all, Barry was re-applying to the guild with a new character after all.

Step 3: Is their gear on par with the content we’re doing?

Bite back the urge to say gear doesn’t matter.

Because when you’re a tank, it does. A Naxx level tank is going to have a tough time working on Trial of the Grand Crusader. I stipulated to Barry that if he wanted to get into our raids, he’d have to work on gear himself which meant pugging what raids he could and crafting any other pieces necessary. Emblems of Conquest allowed him to purchase items he didn’t win from pickup groups. The condition was that Barry had to bring his own character up to an acceptable raiding standard before we’d insert him into our primary lineup.

And he did. He got into as many heroics as he could to farm badges. He transferred money to purchase mats to craft tanking items and augments.

After about 3 weeks of solid gear acquisition, Barry was ready to rock. We gradually threw him in our 10 mans and kept a close eye on him before bumping him up to the 25s. He’s just about ready to tackle Trial of the Grand Crusader.

Final thoughts

There’s nothing inherently wrong with main switching. Players do get bored from time to time or maybe they undergo the grass-is-greener complex. View this as an opportunity for them contribute in a different capacity. To raiders, there’s nothing wrong with switching mains as long as long as you keep these 3 things in mind:

  • See if the guild has a need: If they don’t, you’re going to have to leave and go elsewhere. If the guild has 9 healers to select from, it’s not likely you’re going to see any action as a healer. There’s simply too many. You’re better off playing a role that a guild is lacking. The leadership will be much more receptive.
  • Prove your skills: Show that you know how to play the class and role. Prove that you’ve done your research. Take the time to be familiar with how your role might be different in certain fights. DPSing Freya is certainly different than tanking Freya.
  • Get your own gear: Different guilds handle this differently. But under my watch, if you’re going to switch mains, you better be willing to get your own gear. The guild might contribute a few BoEs or enchants for a discounted price or something, but it’s up to the individual to put in the effort. Show your willingness and passion for the class. It also proves you know what you’re doing. What kind of message does it send if Barry the Death Knight did nothing but pick up gear with shield block on it?

Officers: Who Watches the Watchmen?

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“Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?”

I realize not many readers understand Latin. It basically translates to “Who guards the guards themselves?”.

During one of my earlier years in university, we studied up a bit on Plato’s The Republic (ethics and government stuff). Who protects the people against the protectors? Plato responds by saying they have to guard themselves against themselves. Ideally your officers are going to be just individuals who won’t become greedy or evil.

Your officers

In a majority of cases, your officers are simply normal people who have invested their time (and perhaps money) to handle guild tech or infrastructure. They’re busy tackling things that no one wants to deal with like personnel, scheduling, and what raid operations to carry out. Policy has to be continually updated. Loot has to be awarded and DKP systems have to be managed.

To be frank, the officers are the overseers of the guild and possess the power along with the responsibility.

The level headed ones have no desire to go all political. They’re leaders of a loose organization of gamers, not the mafia. There’s no backroom deals going on. With luck, there is no maneuvering or behind-the-scenes backstabbing.

Red alert!

Now something has happened. Maybe one of your leaders committed some kind of grievous offense. You, Joe raider, happen to take exception. You don’t agree with whatever they did. Maybe they completely screwed over a pug in loot. Or they might have completely dished it out to a raider one day who was undeserving. The reasons could number beyond infinity.

In any case, whatever the reason, you’re upset enough to the point where you want to do something about it.

Your options

Now here’s a list of things you can do and what might possibly happen if you go down these roads.

  • Do nothing. It’s the easiest choice. Keep it to yourself. Don’t say anything. You don’t want to rock the boat. This is something I’ve observed most players doing because they perceive there is too much at risk by doing anything else.
  • Speak to your GM. Have a chat with the boss and see what she says. Perhaps they don’t realize it’s an issue and maybe they can talk to the officer and try to resolve what happened.
  • Speak to the officer in question. Directly confront the officer in question and let them know what they did wasn’t cool. I don’t advise doing this publically. Do it privately in whispers. When I was just a grunt, I preferred taking the direct route and telling officers personally that I thought they did something wrong. It has a stronger effect then you might think.
  • Change your reaction. This option isn’t quite the same as the first. This involves a complete philosophy change on your end. Is their offense that serious? Does it really matter that much? What if you changed your reaction to the point where you could tolerate it and ignore it? The guild my alt is in has a raid leader who randomly calls people morons. I get called it myself once in a while because I can be a touch slow getting out of fires periodically. I don’t take it personally because I simply don’t care enough (It’s my alt’s guild for one).
  • Leave the guild. It’s fairly self explanatory. Be prepared to leave the guild. If you cannot accept what the guild is doing or if speaking to the GM and the officer prove to be futile, then the last option you have is to change your environment entirely. Not every guild is suited for every personality.

Pass the Parcel: When Raiders Won’t Roll

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This is a guest post by Mimetir, an oversized owl of a raid leader on The Venture Co (EU). You can find her twitter feed.

Loot.

Shiny items of [insert rainbow colour here] pot of gold goodness.

Many players actively strive to better their equipment and make that their main goal in the game. Better, stronger, faster, more purple pixels than before, able and willing to go forth and vanquish something corrupt for the good of Azeroth. Go on, admit it – we all want loot: if we didn’t, our characters would still be pattering around in recruit’s regalia and would be prone to splattering over the scenery as soon as they looked at an end game raid. Better gear is a must not only for those players who actively raid but also for the other people they raid with in order to aid smooth group progression. But what about the people who just… don’t go for loot?

Say a guild decides that they are ready for Trial of the Grand Crusader and choose to invite one of their regular and generally competent raid healers.

Call him Homer.

The catch is that Homer’s in Naxx25 kit and the Trial is, well, at Grand Crusader level. Homer struggles and there are a fair few deaths and extra strains being put on other raid members to keep the group alive. There is limited success and the road to progression is rocky; the guild is increasingly beset by much wailing and gnashing of hooves. These are effects which would quickly avalanche into morale killers and unnecessary wipes – and, the longer they continue, similar cracks may start appearing in the guild.

You might think that Homer would have better gear considering he is a good healer and turns up for raids regularly. Is he contending against 9 other clothies for his loot? I’d hope not unless their lock is an astonishingly good kiter. Has he been on runs plagued with plate drops? Not at all, he’s seen useable loot every week for the past six and counting. He just never rolls on loot. He’s been known to pass gear with twice as much spell power than his own in favour of the druid tank’s off off spec.

Twice.

Players like Homer are not as rare as you might think: I have seen many different players pass on loot which seems a boon giftwrapped for them from the loot gods.

What goes through a player like Homer’s mind? Perhaps one of the following:

I don’t need it as much as X does, give it to him. This reason is quite acceptable if it’s not a regular occurance. The player may just be a nice person – it’s sweet for players to occasionally pass loot for other team members and can bond the group together. But if a player regularly passes in favour of giving loot to others it may cause frustration and have other, deeper reasons behind it…

I have equal stats to [equivalent class] so I must be just as good without new loot. This reason can be somewhat deceptive and is the by product of a lack in knowledge of game mechanics and an over or underactive confidence. The player may truly believe what he’s saying, in which case nodding and smiling at him is probably the best initial reaction. On the other hand it may mean that the player doesn’t believe this at all and is trying to mask the fact that he’s hopelessly confused.

I use custom / old stat weightings and that item doesn’t fit. Not many items seem to. Stats are understood in different ways by different people – some people have trouble getting their head around them at all. Some players get a grip on stats and then hold on to that understanding for all time, even though stats change over time. These approaches are fine and can be addressed gently, starting with the basics – not everyone needs or wants to know the mathematics in depth.

I don’t understand loot and you’re waiting for a decision from me so give it to someone else already. Some players have never got a grip on loot at all. They may think that there is a complex maze of mathematics and stats behind understanding loot and be terrified of entering it. Alternatively they may not want to ask for help in case people think they are stupid. Whatever the case, these players may get easily irritated when attention is drawn to them during loot rolls.

I don’t have any interest in progressing this character but I’m relied upon to be here with this character. If this is the case the player will show no interest in anything to do with the run – gear progression, instance progression, tactic progression. They may become bitter and, gradually, an unreliable raider in more than the loot sense. They may also spoil for fights; in this situation regularly passing on loot would just be an indication that this player needs a break.

There are probably many other reasons but those are the main ones I’ve heard players use. All of these responses can lead to an uncomfortable atmosphere in the passing player’s group – just look at the effects Homer has on his guild’s progression run. Progression requires every member of the group to be of an equal standard in their role in order that the group knows they can trust and rely on one another. Homer’s loot behavior may inspire bitterness and futility in his healer teammates, for example; the longer it goes on the more uncertain they are whether they will have to keep an eye on picking up Homer’s role.

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A player who is in this situation regarding loot is also likely to be feeling uncomfortable himself. Whatever his reason for passing on loot regularly, Homer is likely to be aware that it is creating tension. He may also feel cornered and not know how or whom to talk to about it: he has, to his mind, a good reason for passing on loot but his group members’ teeth are wearing into dust and their hooves getting chipped. He may realize that on some level he is letting the group down. This may lead to a drop in his performance and skill level, and potentially to a voluntary or forced drop from the raid team.

A player’s reason for constantly passing, whatever it may be, is their reason – not an excuse. It should not be ridiculed or dismissed out of hand by anyone in the group, including themselves. Neither should a blind eye be turned to this behavior if it is causing tension in the group. I think it should be brought into the open and discussed in a supportive manner, either as a team if everyone is comfortable to do so, or one to one between the player and either an officer or someone who is close to the player, who is comfortable being a mediator. Most of the reasons listed above are easily addressed – the second, third and fourth could all be eased through a variety of methods. The player might be directed to theorycrafting sites such as Elitist Jerks to read around their class in order to nourish or update their understanding of it. They might be encouraged to start playing with sites such as Lootrank, Warcrafter or download Rawr. Class group discussions and workshops could be run within the guild. Hell, a few patient players in the guild might take it upon themselves to run a few more relaxed instances with Homer to have him learn more about his class or become more used to loot rolling in a less stressful environment.

The fourth and fifth reasons listed above are the most worrying ones for a guild. Those are the ones which most quickly lead to a player feeling like they are being forced to do something they don’t want to, and becoming alienated from the guild. The player knows he is relied upon and this fact becomes a burden. He becomes more stressed and disinterested with varying reactions depending on his personality: the progression path gets rockier for everyone on it.

In my opinion it is crucial to watch out for raiders repeatedly passing on loot. I’d say that from a raid leader’s perspective it’s important to open those lines of dialogue with a Homer-like player and get an idea of his mindset and what should, if anything, be done about it: Obviously as a raid leader you don’t want to be stuck with a player whose loot behaviour holds the rest of the group back and causes cracks to appear.

Of course, depending on your agreed loot set up, as a raid leader you could simply give loot you consider beneficial to the player even if he passes on it, but that may cause its own problems. Will the player feel even more cornered and forced to do something they don’t want to? Probably. Will they and other group members loose or gain respect for you and the loot system and will it cause more cracks or cement over old ones? Probably the former. Do you, in fact, know better than the player himself?

So if you know someone who regularly passes on loot – or are someone in that situation – get talking about it. There’s no shame in not understanding something and the mechanics of WoW are too vast and perhaps fluid to be nailed down in one in one brain at any one time. Whether you’re Homer or Homer’s group member you may just learn something about another class or person and become a closer, better, faster – more purple – group for it.

I’d be interested to hear what you think, too – be you the uncomfortable Homer, the gnashing group member, the exasperated raid leader/officer – or you’ve seen it before, from afar, and pondered on the subject. Do you think loot passing is something which happens often? Something which is a taboo subject, especially in raiding guilds? Something which shouldn’t happen if the guild or group is set up correctly? How do you think this kind of loot behaviour should be addressed – with sidelining or discussion and support?

Officers and Alts and Raiding Oh My!

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So very recently one of our Officers has been bringing his alt to our raids, not just farm content but our progression nights. This was obviously given the go ahead by raid leadership but it did stir up interest in a few raiders asking what was going on. As a standing rule my guild has never really taken alts on main raids. Normally alts are left to the alt raids on the weekends. We have in the past however asked very well geared alts along to fill gaps in our raid make up. So after taking care of a few guildies concerns, I figured it was something post worthy.
There seems to be a large concern about officers abusing their power to take their alts on main raids and get loot that would otherwise go to mains, or using their positions to get main raiders / toons to take their alts through content to gear up. While I’m not saying this doesn’t happen, because I’m sure it does, but I don’t think it happens as much as people think. Most time I see guild officers gearing up their alts to be able to pitch hit in a raid if need be. I’ll use my guild as an example. Most of the officers there have well geared alts, it breaks down something like this

GM DK tank main – Well geared Rogue alt

DKP officer/hunter class lead – Well geared Warlock alt

DKP officer/Warlock class lead – Well geared Unholy DK

Recruitment officer Dps DK – Well geared Paladin alt

Raid officer/Shaman class lead – Medium geared DK tank / low to medium gear Hunter

I put myself on the list because I am actively seeking to bring my hunter up to the well geared level of things. Other officers have other alts and such but you get the idea. The intent behind our gearing is something to help our raid and groups out. Let’s say our guild is doing two ToC 10 man runs, normally we have 6-7 raiding healers available. You don’t need 7 for two ToC groups. Let’s say one group is short a tank, my goal would be to be able to hop on my alt and fill that role so the group doesn’t fail to start. Another example and one that we’ve been using. We’ve been a little short on the melee front this past week. As a result the warlock class lead hopped on his Unholy DK for this weeks raids. It provided the same spell buff his warlock did to the raid but gave us the melee we needed for our encounter. It was useful to be able to pull someone’s well geared alt to fill the gap and keep the raid moving.

It should be noted that this isn’t required and that the vast majority of the time we spend gearing our alts up are through pugging instances and farming badges. That said it’s already proven useful a few times.

How to Handle Loot Priority:

So something that is key is to set up a loot priority for any guild raid even if it’s not a main raid. Our weekend alt runs we use a loot priority to keep things going smoothly.

Main spec > Off spec  // Main toon > Alt

Pretty straight forward  right? This has also encouraged more then a few people to bring their main toons to these alt runs as they are normally instances we don’t run anymore or alternate versions of what we are running (my guild is a 25 man focused guild so we do 10 man / alt 10 man runs on weekends) Everyone has fun and anyone can bring their alt along if they want, as long as we get a group composition we need.

Having well geared alts in a guild raid environment is a very useful tool that an be called upon when needed. It seems most people’s apprehension is when they see officer alts pop up in a main raid, I suppose I can understand that. If you’re in a situation that you feel like the officers or some officers in particular are taking advantage of the system, say something just like my raiders did to me.

Now, with all that said, this doesn’t just pertain to officers, but as the questions and concerns was about officers taking advantage of the system to bring in their alts to gear up that’s where we kind of hovered around. Raider alts can be just as helpful and there have been occasions when we asked a raider to bring in their alt. Sometimes this has even lead to them wanting to switch their mains for both their enjoyment and the good of the raid.

So, what do you think about alts getting geared up to raid? Do you have an alt army ready to take down Icecrown? Ever bring an alt to a main raid at the leaders request?

That’s it for today, until next timESig