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It will be difficult to make this seem less directly related to my current situation than it is. What I mean is: this is a private QQ and a public QQ. Both a philosophical argument and a more personal argument. I actually have a proposal at the end of this rant. So bear with it.

Preliminary disclaimer: this is not about loot. It’s about loot policy. We all know that getting loot is part of the motivating factor for playing the game. If you raided all of ICC25, then all of ICC heroic, and were victorious the whole way through, you would feel like you beat the game for sure. But if you got no gear along the way, your gnawing sense that you were being carried would get stronger and stronger. That you weren’t living up to your potential. That you were in fact more of a burden than a player. If your toon is not evolving, getting slightly but consistently more powerful with every raid week, it becomes a psychic knot. It feels awful, and it has effects on your performance, your relationships, and your interest in playing the game. Whoever says that loot isn’t important might be correct if they’re attacking gear-score whores. I just hope you don’t miss the deeper point: loot is in fact quite important.

As I’ve said before, I believe loot council is the best loot distribution method available. That is, if it’s run by philosopher kings and/or enlightened officers. I have not met a single person who fits this description. Therefore, in practice, it runs the gamut from merely awful to the absolute worst.

The quality of a LC is limited by several factors, including but hardly limited to: (1) the integrity of the council members; (2) the degree of team spirit on the council and in the guild itself; (3) the data systems used for tracking loot distribution, including a way to measure the amount of upgrade a piece represents; (4) clear rules regarding performance and its affect on loot; and (5) delicate care for the individuals in the raid, as well as for the raid itself.

Integrity: This should be obvious. We’ve all heard stories of loot councils in which council members grabbed high-value loot for themselves, or gave it to their friends. That’s just the most obvious example of a lack of integrity. While integrity is tied to team spirit (below), it is so vast and multi-dimensional that it can’t really be narrowed down to a simple bullet-point. There are more situations than you could ever codify in some rulebook of loot allocation. Integrity itself must be the rulebook; you need to be truly trustworthy to be a loot councillor. And that’s no small feat.

I’ve been in the position many times of having to make a loot allocation decision that had no easy answer, and which would most definitely anger or hurt someone who did not deserve their fate. It’s hard stuff. Most people I know have small cojones when it comes to making hard decisions, such that they’ll reliably take the easy way out, rather than make harder, gutsier, riskier calls. Our true character is on the line when it comes to stuff like this. We all know it. Challenging situations bring out the devil and the saint in us; those with more integrity are more likely to show their saint than their devil when the going gets tough.

Team spirit: First of all, if your guild is missing this, you should be looking for a new guild. And if your officers are missing this, run for the hills. It’s a team sport, and if you don’t have a team-spirited team, there’s no loot distribution “trick” that can fix it for you. Certainly a LC needs to have its eyes not on the individuals, but on the team. Where will this piece of loot benefit us the most? This is so obvious it surely doesn’t need to be said. But it always needs to be said.

Data systems + upgrade measurements: That’s fancytalk for “spreadsheet.” The LC needs to track who was given what, and when. It needs to track when people missed raids. It needs to track the degree of each upgrade –  getting a new ring with a 19-iLevel jump is very different than getting a new 19-iLevel pair of pants, or a trinket.

If a loot council is looking at any single piece of gear in isolation, it’s doomed to failure. Consider two mages, one decked out in Ulduar (226) gear, the other in ToC10 (232) gear. Every piece that drops will be a bigger upgrade for the Ulduar mage, so unless you’re tracking distributions as a holistic upgrade model, with team spirit, and a lot of integrity, the ToC10 mage will get gear only after the Ulduar mage is fully ICC geared. This is a stupid-obvious example of one of the problems that data systems should be in place to help solve. No system is a replacement for integrity, intelligence, and care, but those qualities without a data system cannot be channeled and used properly.

Performance: If there is ANY rule that affect how loot is distributed, it must be articulated clearly so everyone knows what to expect. Will missing a raid lower your loot priority? By how much, and for how long? How about dying to fire? Lower dps? Will brown-nosing change your priority? Being an officer? Donating to the guild bank? These types of rules are often in place but unspoken until the moment they’re used. (See integrity, above.) Personally I’m seriously opposed to a lot of these policies, but that’s not the point: if these policies will be in place, they must be explicit.

Care for the individuals: At any point along the way, you need to be aware of what’s happening on the other side of the council’s walls. Has one of your raiders gone three weeks without a drop? Maybe they should get the next one even if it isn’t the highest benefit for the raid. Maybe, just maybe, that will keep your raiders happy. And that’s in the loot council’s hands. Is it paying attention?

Between all of these criteria, there has to be some way to prevent imbalanced situations. Just as an example, I looked at our guild’s healing core. In that group, you have people with this many main-spec LC-assigned drops: 2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 4, 7. (Which one do you think is the officer?) Maybe I’m wrong about my presumption that fairness forms some portion of the policy. But in case I’m right, I have a suggestion.

The proposal: Limit loot council to non-armored pieces: rings, necklaces, trinkets, cloaks, weapons and offhands/shields. Use EPGP for anything with an armor class.

Let’s say your raid has an abundance of clothies, but only two holy pallies. (Pretty typical, I suspect!) In a pure EPGP system, the pallies would have less competition, and would spend fewer points on armored gear than the clothies, leaving them freer to bid higher on shared gear like rings or trinkets. Implementing a hybrid system where a LC handles shared gear would ensure that your clothies, leather, mail, and plate wearers all have an equal shake at that stuff.

It also allows the LC to shift the loot balance if too many mail pieces have dropped recently (for example). So even if a ring might be a great benefit to a resto shaman, the LC can rebalance loot distribution as it sees fit.

The meta-point: Running a guild is not the same as leading a raid. There is a whole other set of skills that very few people have; skills that are about humanity, fairness, and development of team spirit. And no, leading a guild is not about group hugs. But integrity (in the way I’m describing it here) has absolutely nothing to do with being soft. It has to do with doing the right thing.

(12) Comments

  1. 2/08/2010 11:04 PM Sinespe

    I apologise for not having read the whole post. I just see the words "Loot council" and I am compelled to say how much of a retarded system it is. No matter how much it tries to be neutral, bias will seep in. Attribute anything to humans and they will balls it up.

    2/08/2010 11:13 PM Topher

    Even if LC isn't biased, it will inevitably be perceived as biased, which is just as bad, if not more so. Stick with the most transparent, fair system available. And tell me what it is when you do, b/c I have no idea.

    2/09/2010 1:01 AM Ben

    Any chance of enabling OpenId comments?

    Anyway.. we use LC and it is by far the best and simplist systems i've raided under. Our LC is based on size of upgrade (for that piece only) and raid attendance mainly.

    We have almost no issues with loot distribution that im aware of (i'm not on the LC). We usually only have 2 to 3 ppl on the LC at any one time and decisions are mostly very fast. Some decisions like valuable trinkets take longer but we usually jsut clear trash while the decision is being made.

    By far the best loot system i've been involved in.

    2/09/2010 1:08 PM the901

    LC is, and always will be, a fail system. As you mention, if the people were running it were perfect humans, it would work. This is not the case. If there were no greed and everyone worked together in utopia, real communism would work. Does it work in the real world...

    A data system that officers would keep track of would be amazingly complex. It would require that the officer quit his\her job. As I type, something came to me that would make it a bit more manageable. Create a GUI that can be accessed by registered members of your guild that is attached to a database. In this GUI, each member would lay out their upgrade path based on their own research. This removes a lot of the work from officers. It removes a lot of guess work, as well, since people choose gear based on play style (at least with some healers). Officers could have a bit of input if the piece is clearly better for a different class\spec (hit on gear for healers for example). Each item has weight based not only on ilvl, but stat increase in general. That would require the creator of this DB to research and assign the appropriate weights of each stat per class\spec. The raiders would need to have their current healing gear in the wow armory so that the DB could pull from that for the compare. This system also gives officers time to see future conflict and ample time to make a better judgment as a whole.

    The only problem that I could see with the system I mentioned is the lack of consistencies of players. Some people play more than other obviously. Should people that get gear on their own time be punished? People that go the extra mile to farm mats for a tailored upgrade would be an example. In my guild, 10 mans are an off night event. Getting gear in tens should not punish me for my work and attendance in 25s. At what point do you give a piece to someone that only raids over the person that does more outside of the normal raid routine (245 vs 251 as an example)? Any rules that are explicitly laid out in addition to pure weight are an extra variable in this system. In the end, there are too many variables for such a system to work.

    I personally like our current system. We use a variation of the Ni Karma system. It rewards attendance and still adds some randomness to the game. I do like rolls as it adds some excitement to the system. QQ will happen in any system you are in and there isn’t much any of us can do. Oh, and fuck LC…

    Vizsaan - Icecrown

    2/09/2010 5:19 PM helenagiammarco

    We use EPGP. The system may be somewhat tilted, but it is automatic-no man behind the curtain/no drama- and to me that is the most important thing at the moment.

    2/10/2010 8:33 AM Anonymous

    My guild uses LC. What I've come to notice, though, is that the council rarely has to make decisions at all. Members from a class generally decide amongst themselves ahead of time who's showing interest and who's passing.

    2/10/2010 1:03 PM Logtar

    I think you are in a different situation for several reasons. I think someone that has not read your posts before about your current guild compositions misses the big point in your post of feeling like you are being carried, which I think is most of what makes loot distribution feel unfair... not so much because you want it but because you want to give more.

    I think you are selling yourself short if you think you are being carried. Numbers from meter never measure moving at the right time or that last second heal that saves a DPS or even another healer. Those things would not be measurable easily unless you have a superb raid leader that might also be healing and can see that.

    Loot distribution through any system will be unfair in some level. Raid composition is what makes it hard, if you have more than 3 members in a 10 man wearing the same armor + stats need you will have issues. In our guild we are mail and plate heavy and thankfully most people into end game go to 25s with other groups therefore filling up the gear void that would be created if we were only doing 10 mans.

    LC is not perfect but I find it to be the most fair if you have a cohesive group of people. More often than not people themselves determine who will get the piece because we know what each other is lacking even before the fight. When it has come into question it has been hard to step in as the council, but at that point a roll leaves it to chance if two people are competing for the same piece. Its not perfect but it works because everyone will eventually get something... but you have to have people that are flexible and patient. I am sure things will change a lot once we catch up with content... we are just about to start ICC seriously and I am sure I will have to deal with more loot distribution issues. I hope not.

    2/10/2010 4:14 PM Nymarie

    I didn't read the whole thing because quite honestly I'm not in the mood. (Not your fault, just my current situation.) My new guild does a loot system and I find it very fair for once. I have a few officers less than pleased with me and I am still fairly new and still got a tier token, an offspec ring and a semi worthless healing weapon last night. I was surprised.

    2/10/2010 4:15 PM Nymarie

    Council* not system...fml

    2/12/2010 7:35 PM Anon

    I think it's narrow-minded to claim any loot system is better/worse than others because every guild has different goals. With that said, my guild does use a LC system, and I think it works very well. I can only give some points that I think are keys to its success FOR US.

    1. Everyone needs to create a BiS list so players can make calculated, instead of impulsive, decisions when an item drops. This also helps officers keep track of what kind of stats the player is going for.

    2. Trust from all members that the LC will usually make the right decision with the GUILD'S GOALS in mind.

    3. Members that are tight-knit and like each other. Because of this last point, I believe LC works better in guilds where the raiding roster is smaller (high 20s, low 30s).

    2/15/2010 3:37 AM Otory

    LC is just Pure Fail. End of Story.

    Sae - SS

    2/18/2010 10:03 AM Anonymous

    Tricky issue. I think Loot Council is the best system for the top raiding guilds on a server. The chance of getting a server first is more than enough motivation to let people relax about personal ambitions, as the collective ambition is so much more worthwhile. Raid leaders of these guilds will be analysing the combatlogs to death to spot problem areas that need beefing up, and assigning loot is a way for them to do that.

    Most of us aren't in those guilds though, and lean a little more to personal motivating factors, rather than collective ones (or at least try and strike a balance). I'm not convinced that Loot Council is very appropriate for this majority of guilds.

    KillPoint or Suicide based systems leave the final decision in the hands of the players themselves - if they are willing to pay the cost, they can have the item. It's a more anarchic approach to allow the ultimate say to be bottom-up rather than top-down, and it may not lead to optimum outcomes for the raid as a whole, but it satisfies folks' desire for freedom and fairness more than the authoritarianism of Loot Council.


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