Penance Priest

Discipline Priest Blog

This is a post about loot. Hard to believe, since no one cares anyway :)

It’s not a post about how to distribute loot within your guild. There are many systems, and they all have varying degrees of suck. To minimize suck, look into EPGP and move on. Perhaps I’ll expand on that another day. Not now though.

No, this post is about what Blizzard can do about spellpower plate. But wait! Don’t run away! I promise, there’s more to it than that.

The problem

Spellpower plate is just the most obvious and extreme example of bad loot distribution by Blizzard. There are other examples, and it’s only gotten worse with the new “bring the player not the class” philosophy. BTPNTC allows guilds to run with groups that are (from a purely loot-oriented viewpoint) radically imbalanced.

My guild runs with two regular hunters. (Used to be three, but grats on the new baby, Griz!) We have no enhancement shaman. So every piece of mail gear goes straight to them, and they also get a shot at plenty of offset pieces. They’ve both got multiple 232 weapons and are well on their way to building separate gear sets for MM and SV.

Meanwhile, in our cloth-heavy guild, many of us softies are rocking four or five pieces of Ulduar gear. That’s after about 110 boss kills.

So what we have is a question of balance. Your guild might be the opposite, with tons of hunters and few clothies. Or lots of trees & boomkins but no priests. I love the BTPNTC philosophy to death, but this can be a real issue.

The spectrum of gear flexibility

Blizzard has a number of different loot distribution systems in place that attempt to address the balance concern. Here’s a diagram of those systems, arranged from the most specific (boss X drops the Ring of Not Again) to the most general (40 emblems gets you whatever the heck you want):

On the left we have a boss who drops some specific item; you have no choice in the matter. This, of course, is the way almost all raid-boss loot works. On the right we have a boss who drops a token that can be used to purchase any tier piece for any class (like the new T9 system). Emblem gear is similarly flexible, perhaps more so.

Previous tiers (I’m using T7 as an example) used a semi-flexible system, in which the slot was fixed (head piece, for example) but the class was flexible (rogues, death knights, mages, druids). There are also offset options within that (e.g., different types of druid headpieces for different specs), so there was an interesting balance of flexibility and specificity.

Blizzard has been clear that they don’t want bosses to drop only flexi-tokens. The badge system was designed to fill in gaps, to allow you to buy gear after the RNG clobbered you week in and week out. But bosses will not be dropping “Buy Any Loot Token #1” any time soon. The gambler’s thrill of hitting the jackpot is a key part of the game, which means losing rolls is going to happen until darkness descends over Azeroth.

(By the way, I’m glad they didn’t implement boss-kill statistics until 3.0. Otherwise I’d know exactly how many times I killed Prince and did not get my T4 helm. Even with the flexibility in the tier-gear system, the RNG is a huge factor, and is one reason I visited that dark castle so many times.)

Quest rewards

Probably didn’t see that coming, did you? Well. Think about it. Quest rewards give you options, but they aren’t innumerable. You get about 4 pieces of gear to choose from, and Blizzard has done its darndest to ensure that all specs and armor classes are accounted for during the leveling process. (Tanks will tell you differently.) Even if there are quests that have no rewards that interest you, over time you will certainly be able to build up a set of gear that tracks your leveling progress and power.

The proposal

Have raid-level bosses drop quest-reward tokens. (“This item begins a quest.”) For Ulduar, the quest turn-in might be in the foyer, so you can easily port around to receive your quest rewards.

The quest rewards would be tightly defined. Take Ignis, for example.

Ignis Weapon Token: quest rewards would be the three 232 weapons on his loot table (Worldcarver, Intensity, Scepter of Creation).

Ignis Accessory Token: quest rewards would the rings & neckpieces on his loot table (Cindershard, Pyrelight, and perhaps the Totem of Dancing Flame)

I haven’t thought through how all the tokens would be organized, except to realize it is a non-trivial but very solvable problem. You would have to combine things that don’t fit very easily (like that totem or a trinket). You could ensure that no token gave more than two rewards, as a way of keeping this system closer to the left side of my chart. (More options in the quest reward pushes it closer to the right, of course.) I’ll leave the subtleties of the quest-reward organization to the smart people. But the general idea should be clear.

I find this system very appealing: it still leaves a lot of randomness, while allowing a bit more control over gearing up your raid. And it leaves Blizzard plenty of control over how much or how little they want the RNG to affect your winnings.

And with that, there’s no need to change any fundamental mechanics of the game. No ridiculous strength-to-spellpower conversion talents in the paladins’ holy tree. No “everyone can wear plate” silliness. We’re just taking the edge off the randomness of boss drops, while still keeping the thrill of the rare drop and the thrill of a good roll as motivating factors.

By the way, has anyone seen Guiding Star? Fifteen Razorscale kills and no drops. And ten folks who would roll on it for their main spec. WTB better boss-drop mechanics. Even slightly better would be enough.

(4) Comments

  1. 8/12/2009 12:51 PM Meg

    We've also killed Razorscale at least 14 times, probably more like 15 or 16 and NEVER seen Guiding Star drop. It makes me sad to know there are guilds out there sharding it because no one wants it :(

    8/12/2009 1:12 PM "D"

    About Guiding Star, really? Our guild groans every time we down Razor and that drops - we seriously have about 5 or 6 with that thing for main or offspecs. That and the Robe of OMG Not Again from Kologarn 25-man (it was BiS for shadow priests before 3.2 hit) - the cloth wearers in our guild are like a mini-army of Kologarn-downers.

    On the flip side, I have yet to see that nifty Lifebinder (or whatever it's called) staff from Freya 25-man.

    I like your proposal for a new loot system - too many times have items dropped (spellpower mail gear, ugh) that have been sharded. And yeah, the one lone holy pally gets decked out while our cloth-wearing healers are fighting over the very few pieces that tend to drop.

    8/12/2009 4:38 PM Cobra

    Kudos, sir. That is a FANTASTIC idea for changing the way the loot system works.

    I cannot tell you how many times we've had to shard or give to an alt's off-off-spec all the friggin' spellpower Mail gear that dropped for us in Naxx and Ulduar. Seriously, our GM sometimes brings his Resto Shammy alt to close a 25-man group... and his alt is just about as well geared as his main, with which he raids like 10 times more. Not to mention that he has both an Elemental AND an Enhancement off-spec gear set, which he never uses. Meanwhile, me and the other eleventy billion clothies keep on waiting for that one Cloak or that one Boot to drop, which of course never happens.

    I've always thought that Blizzard should have implemented a restriction to what drops off a boss on a specific kill. For instance: if there's no Resto/Elemental Shaman in the group, don't drop spellpower Mail. Or if all the Warriors, Hunters and Shamans already have all versions of their Tier gear, don't drop that specific token (which I know is much harder, but still). But I think your idea works better and would be easier (and more likely) to implement. The only issue with it, really, would be for people to compare what they already have with what that token that just dropped can offer them, but that's a problem I'm sure anyone would be happy to work around.

    Oh, by the way: seen Guiding Star drop on our first ever Razorscale kill. Damned Resto Druid got it. We then went on a pretty long Guiding Star-less hiatus. Once it dropped again, I had already won Intensity, so I didn't want it anymore -- which, of course, caused it to drop on every other Razorscale kill from then on. So I feel your pain. :D


    8/26/2009 10:08 AM Merlot

    As someone who has seen R,M,DK,D tokens drop so often the class names are burnt in purple on my vision, you get my vote!


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