Stare Decisis in Loot Council

Just about a month has gone by in the formation of Conquest. Loot council continues to be an interesting challenge because the council never knows what sort of situation will present itself.

In today’s post, I wanted to talk about an important concept that’s not only valuable in the legal arena but also in an LC guild.

Stare Decisis

This is a legal principles where judges have to follow precedents established in previous decisions. How does this apply to WoW with respect to loot council? Because the decisions we make in how we hand out loot are expected to be binding. I’ll typically follow the principle of Stare Decisis but ultimately, I won’t hesitate to go a different way in decisions of loot for progressive reasons.

Unfortunately, the reality is that virtually no two decisions are going to be the same. You will have similar cases and they’ll be decided similarly. For example, we awarded a tier piece to a Resto Shaman completing his 4 set (because Chain Heal is still whoa). But if I had my 3 piece and a 4th Priest token drop, I wouldn’t award it to me purely because of the bonus (since I don’t use Greater Heal that often to justify it). It literally is a case by case decision. This is bad in that we’re not following a precedent but good in that we’re willing to remain flexible. Remember that this is a loot council not a court of law. Items will drop again.

Decision to Reward vs Decision to Gear

For guilds that have started progressing through different raid instances, realize that you’re going to come across a dilemma and I guarantee you that it will happen. Every member on your loot council is going to ask themselves the following question when an item drops:

Should I award this item to the player who has run all the 10 mans and done all the heroics or should I award this item to the player who dinged recently dinged 80 and hasn’t had the time to get as geared as the other players?

There are two schools of thought on this and let me tell you what goes through my head every time.

Reward: I like to reward players for their efforts. They hit 80 earlier on ahead of the curve. They’ve managed to work their way into pug groups to get themselves geared. Without their efforts, the guild would not be where it is right now. Their contribution is important and I want to recognize that.

Minimum standard:  The other perspective is to gear up the weaker geared player since that player hasn’t had as much time to get where they should be at. Especially for progression kills, there’s a minimum standard that every player regardless of class has to meet. To make life easier on your raid group, the weaker players have to be brought up to speed.

The past 2 weeks have been a lot of fun for all of us (I hope). Everyone has either reached the minimum benchmarks that have been set in terms of performance (2000 DPS on Patchwerk) or have exceeded it (5000+ DPS on Patchwerk). Now that the minimum standard has been reached, I can further lean towards rewarding players that can use items off of the second level bosses such as Kel’Thuzad and Malygos.

Mind you, I’m still just one person on Loot Council.

Mixed messages?

Following a decision that was made earlier for loot is good, especially when deciding on subsequent items. But don’t chain yourself to it or lock yourself.  Keep your loot council flexible because they have to adapt.

Don’t hesitate to acknowledge mistakes.

Don’t commit.

Don’t promise.

Don’t over deliver.

Don’t bind yourself.

So like Amava says, consistency does matter.

There was a case last week where a tanking neck dropped. Both of our tanks expressed interest. We were at a dead lock. The tanks wore the same neck and they could’ve equally benefited from it. We were taking too long. I gave the instruction to roll it.

I realized later on in the evening after the raid was done that it was a bad idea. Upon further reflection, I doubt I’ll give that order again. The exact reasons that crossed my mind were the same ones that Amava listed. This would’ve been the only time (not counting our first unofficial raid) that rolls were used to decide loot. Our current tiebreaker is an officer who is not a part of the loot council and does not wish to take part in decisions. That’s a temporary fix that I need to address. My options are to elevate another player to the loot council (a DPS cloth wearer, perhaps) or set it so that in the event of a tie, my choice wins (Overlord Matticus, hmm). 9 times out of 10, we do reach a consensus. But things like tier tokens always take a bit longer since they’re useful for so many players.

By the way Amava, yes I do read your blog when I can. I read it so that you can keep me honest. Keep doing what you’re doing. I won’t punish you for speaking out or voicing disapproval.

Some more food for thought for players looking and still deciding upon their loot systems.

15 thoughts on “Stare Decisis in Loot Council”

  1. Wow Matt, you went all Justice Breyer on us on a Friday, with your fancy stare decisis.

    I like the anarchy of Justice Thomas. Any time stare decisis comes up, it’s time to write a pointless dissent/concurrence about how stare decisis is terrible.

    Anyways, good post and it got your attorney priest reader to comment! Have a good and fruitful weekend!

  2. Thanks for the link!

    I certainly don’t envy the position of the members of the Loot Council, because you can never make everyone happy, every night. Even though the recruiting team has done a great job of finding members who value progress and team success over personal shiny loot, you cannot remove gear from the equation.

    So far, I think the way the Council has managed it has worked very well for the raid. I’ll be so bold as to say 99.9% of the decisions have been spot on, or at least reasonable, which is pretty amazing.

    Gear has served to strengthen members across the spectrum, and now you see more and more balance in performance. As gear levels out, we can then focus more energy on improving skills/spec/spell choices.

    I am curious to see how the raiders all feel towards loot as there are fewer and fewer upgrades to be had.

    If you get passed over for a drop at this point in progression (early farming) its ok, there’s probably 4 or 5 more bosses that same night from whom you can get upgrades. As the team farms more and more efficiently, a raider might be looking only for one single best-in-slot drop from an entire dungeon. It’ll be interesting to see if the climate can remain positive in that environment.

    Amavas last blog post.."Easily" accessible JC crafted upgrade option

  3. I think using Loot Council to “reward” people is a mistake that will hurt you, Matticus.

    Loot Council is a Loot as Investment system. LC sets out to be deliberately unfair in awarding loot, in order to maximize the strength of the raid and hence progression. Handing out loot as “rewards” to people, no matter how much they deserve the reward, undercuts the system.

    Further, LC is fragile. It only works for as long as you have the trust of the membership. “Rewarding” people can break that trust because everyone feels that they deserve to be rewarded. Your guild is young, and is probably still in the high of downing new bosses, People are willing to take a lot of things on faith at this point. But eventually faith runs out, and you get to see if the structures you built are actually stable.

    Finally, you haven’t finished investing. There’s still Sarth+3 right now, and Uldar coming up.

    Rohans last blog post..My Ideal Guild

    • Rohan: And on that, we differ. It’s true I haven’t finished investing yet, but we’re almost there. This is my personal belief when we’re discussing loot. The other LC members may agree or disagree accordingly. I think rewarding players for the hard work and effort that they’ve put into raids is a good thing. It shows my commitment to players who do their best and truly step it up on certain nights. It plays a factor when deciding between two players who are equally gear levelled in a certain spot.

      Don’t mistake this to mean that I wouldn’t award an epic to a green geared mage. If there’s no one else that’ll really benefit from it, I’ll do it. My stance on rewarding is just ONE of the things that I take into consideration.

      90% of the time during raids, loot sorts itself out. My players know each other now and trust each other. They’ll intentionally pass when they feel someone in the raid benefits. None of them are inherently greedy (except me ^^).

  4. You are not greedy to a fault. I swear if you pass on one more purple (while wearing a blue) so we can give someone a lateral upgrade, I’m gonna pitch a fit. You are a DKP whore in your own guild – THAT DOESN’T USE DKP!

  5. Since the loot tables for bosses are known, and the current state of your raid members’ gearing is known, couldn’t you at least have identified these possible points of conflict before you walk into the raid, no matter what your standards?

  6. @DArcMattr: That’s a snarky comment, if I ever read one. Wanna elaborate more on that? Do we go through loot tables for bosses? Yes. Do we know what type of loot our guys are packing? Yes. Can we control what loot drops? No.

    I never said we were perfect.

  7. I read both yours and Amava’s blog, and would just like to say that it can be interesting reading both sides of the situation.

    I do agree with Amava on the situation with the roll, and it is nice to see that you have also seen the problem with it.

    I really hope that the Loot Council method continues to work out for Conquest, but I fear that it will eventually fail. Loot should be awarded by the use of a fair and transparent set of rules. By using a Lot Council, you have removed the transparency of the process, leading the rest of the raid to wonder how the Council came to their decision, which also can lead to questions about the fairness.

    If I were in a guild who used the Council method, I would expect them to document their reasoning for each decision and make it available for the rest of the guild to look over. This documentation could be used by the guild as a whole to audit the Loot Council to make sure that the system stays fair.

    Just my 2 cents worth.

    Santyns last blog post..Breaking News

    • Santyn: I see I’ll have to write a post on this. You’re assuming that there’s no transparency in this. 4 out of 5 times, theres only 1 person interested in an item and everyone else passes. Our hands are literally tied there because no one else has expressed interest. The times we DO have to weigh in, at the end of the loot council discussion I’ll usually pipe up on vent with something like “Resto Shaman had 3 piece and he’s done a slam dunk job keeping the raid alive so we’re going to finish out his bonus because it’s amazingly good” or “Death Knight just Gripped a mob away from Gluth buying us a few precious seconds to kill it leading to a progression kill” or “Joe Mage hasn’t gotten a piece of tier yet, we’re going to get him started with a set of gloves tonight” etc, etc.

      In regards to rules, I don’t like the word fair. Because what’s fair for one person may not be fair for the other. The players that signed onto the guild do so knowing that loot will be distributed EFFECTIVELY which is the point I want to underscore. I don’t determine who gets what loot. The council determines who gets what loot FIRST so that the overall raid will benefit. “Fair” and “equal” are these catchphrases that are used to make guilds feel better about themselves about being “right”. We’re in the business to raid, and we want to get far in this game fast. Not every case is going to be judged with the same standard because no two cases are going to be alike. Human discretion is a powerful thing. Everything has to be evaluated on a case by case basis.

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