How EPGP works

This is a guest post by Valen who has graciously offered to clarify the EPGP loot system and the process behind the usage.

Hello! I am Valen, Guild Leader of Temerity, an efficiency-focused progression guild on the Windrunner server. I also happen to be helping maintain EPGP while its author, Disht of EU-Sunstrider, takes a well-deserved break. My hope is to provide an introduction to EPGP and demonstrate why many people believe it to be a superior loot system.

What is EPGP?

The EPGP loot system, nicknamed “dkp reloaded,” is a mature, established loot system that has been in active use by many guilds for a number of years. Sometimes known for being somewhat “mathy,” EPGP tries to provide a fair, transparent, configurable, deterministic, and reasonable loot distribution system. EPGP is somewhat more complicated than most loot systems, but thanks to addons that simplify calculations and management, both the master looter and all members of a guild will find EPGP to be a fluid and effective loot system.

The word “fair” is somewhat ambiguous when it comes to handling loot, and is highly subjective. Can loot systems be fair to every member of a guild, and to the guild itself? Probably not, but when people think about fair loot systems, often words like “unbiased” are used, with sentiments of objective, even distribution. EPGP provides such features.

Many familiar loot systems, such as DKP and its variants, use a single point pool, whereas EPGP uses two. Those two kinds of points in EPGP are in the name — EP and GP. EP, which stands for Effort Points, encapsulates the contributions of a raider to the raid (primarily attendance). GP, which stands for Gear Points, encapsulates the loot a raider has received from the raid.

How does it work?

Dividing a raider’s EP by their GP determines a raider’s Priority. When a piece of loot drops, the player who is interested in it with the highest Priority gets the loot along with the Gear Points the loot is valued at — there is no randomness or rolling in EPGP. This therefore increases the player’s GP, which lowers their priority once the division takes place, putting them below many other players (depending, of course, on the other players’ EP and GP values).

Left unchecked, EP, which grows as raids are attended, and GP, which grows as loot is received, would increase unbounded since neither are reduced inherently in the loot process. Instead of spending points, both simply accumulate. To prevent infinite growth, EPGP uses the concept of decay — at the start of every raid, or every raid week, or any other interval, everyone’s EP and GP are reduced by a fixed percentage. This results in EP climbing quickly at first, but then eventually sloping off towards a natural cap. GP, on the other hand, tends towards zero as it accumulates only when loot is rewarded rather than every raid.

The above is intentionally vague and lacking in specific numbers. This is one of the areas where EPGP is configurable to meet a given guild’s needs, but also where it tends to intimidate users.

  • How much EP does a raider get?
  • What earns EP?
  • How much GP does a piece of loot cost?

The latter question is the easiest to answer; by default, every piece of loot has a fixed cost across all guilds and servers, based on the slot it is used in and the item’s level (aka, ilvl). Deep inside the game, there are formulas used to determine how much of a each stat such as Haste Rating or Intelligence a piece of gear has; this formula is based on the ilvl and slot, so, for instance, an ilvl 359 two handed sword has more strength than an ilvl 359 one handed sword or ilvl 359 ring. EPGP uses this formulation to derive a price for each piece of loot, normalizing around a chest piece with an arbitrary cost of 1,000 GP. Weapons cost more than 1,000 GP since they have a bigger impact than a new chest, whereas rings, carrying smaller item budget, cost less.

EP is more fluid; typically guilds award EP based on attendance, both who is present at the beginning of raid and who is present throughout its duration. Even players on the bench receive EP and thereby loot opportunities when next they are in raid.

EPGP in action

Each guild decides themselves how much EP to award and what to award for, so rather than a complicated explanation, I will use a concrete example and explain how my guild uses it.

Fifteen minutes before raid starts, a decay of 7% occurs. Then an on-time bonus of 1,250 EP is awarded to each member in the raid. Every fifteen minutes thereafter until the end of raid, 300 EP is awarded to anyone in the raid and on standby. Finally, at the end of raid, another 1,250 EP bonus is awarded. The net result is a typical, 3.5 hour night of raiding results in 7,000 EP.Some guilds opt to also award EP when bosses die (with different amounts of EP depending on the farm status of the boss) but we choose to not award the kills themselves.

The values chosen are largely arbitrary; we settled on a 7% decay as it is a decent rate to prevent hoarding as well as to encourage taking loot (since GP will decay at a decent rate). We chose 7,000 EP per raid because it has the mathematical property that, a player with perfect attendance across an infinite number of raids, would cap out at 100,000 EP — the point where a 7% decay equals the EP awarded for the evening (7% of 100,000 is 7,000, of course).

We also choose to award a small, fixed weekly amount of EP for consumables — specifically, raw herbs and fish. This was a new experiment for us as early Cataclysm consumables were extremely expensive until supply grew and guild perks kicked in, this helped us supply flasks and feasts — a significant competitive advantage.

The EPGP system itself is managed via the EPGP addon. Earlier I mentioned that EPGP is transparent; this means, thanks to the addon, any player can see any other player’s standing and priority from within the game. In fact, this addon keeps all EPGP state in-game rather than on an external website. Therefore, it is never a surprise when someone receives loot as any player can, at any time, see other players’ EP, GP, and Priority. Likewise, the addon places the GP cost to every item in its tooltip, so you know the exact price an item would cost by simply mousing over it.

In addition to the EPGP addon itself, there is a third party addon named EPGP Lootmaster. This addon handles the loot process itself, providing very simple push-button distribution and vastly reducing the time it takes to handle the many drops off of the typical 25 man heroic boss. I highly recommend using both addons together for a tremendously smooth and simplified loot process.

Hopefully this has provided a relatively math-free explanation of EPGP. I’ve personally used it for over four years, and while certainly imperfect, it is an excellent combination of transparency, fairness, and efficiency that is suitable for guilds at all levels of progression. Once the initial setup is done, there is very little maintenance and the distribution of loot itself is very quick — important attributes for efficient raiding!

Further resources

EPGP’s website, mailing list, and bug forum
The addon itself
The Lootmaster Addon

Tough Call: Turning Down Epics

On this week’s issue of Tough Call, we’re going to discuss an idea that may seem counter-intuitive to some readers, especially at this point in the expansion;

Not taking epics!

Crazy, I know, but hear me out.

To be clear, I don’t mean that you should refuse to take epics, or that your gear doesn’t need to be upgraded.  Anyone who knows me knows that if the loot is on my must-have list, I will absolutely put in for it at the appropriate time.

No, what I’m talking about today is gear that is not BiS.  Your side-grades, your “better than what I have”, or that loot that’s a higher iLvl but not the ultimate piece you want.

Whether you’re running a Loot Council, a points-based system, or even some kind of Rochambeau craziness, you should still take into account the overall benefit that the loot is bringing to your guild. And that includes comparing it to the value gained by not equipping it.

My usual theory when it came to loot in Wrath and BC was “the loot will drop again”.  Nowadays I’m changing my outlook to “is this THE best loot”.  This is because, right now, most guilds should find themselves in a new position where there just aren’t enough epics being DE’d in order to get the maelstrom crystals needed for the best enchants available.

I know right now everyone should be hungry to preform better, and it’s easy to say “well, I’m under-geared” or “I need that upgrade and I can heal/tank/dps through this tough phase”.  Trust me, I really want to get rid of this 333 crap trinket I’ve been saddled with for a few weeks now.  That does not, however, mean that I will seek to equip any available epic tossed my way like a hungry hungry hippo.

Edit: Passed on 2x Jar of Ancient Remedies and used my Valor points on the Core of Ripeness instead.  Int rocks the body that rocks the party.

Let’s use a recent example, the other night we were in Bastion of Twilight and the boss dropped some cloth DPS pants.  Of course our warlocks were wearing iLvl 346 blue pants, yet none of them put in for the shiny new epic.  Their reasoning?  They were all within a few points of getting their tier pants and realized that the maelstrom crystal from disenchanting the pants would be worth more to the guild than giving them epic pants that they’d only wear for a week before they got their 2-piece.  Now that we’ve gotten the needed mats for Power Torrent, those warlocks are doing considerably more DPS than they would be with a pant upgrade that they were able to replace anyways.

Similarly we’ve had melee DPS players pass on their side-grades or off-spec gear in order to get the maelstrom crystals.  I’m certain that when they weighed the stats, the 1000 AP proc on a Landslide enchant that those crystals could get them looked a lot better than the marginal/temporary increase gotten though a non-BiS upgrade.

Of course, the exception to this rule is players with enchanting.  Toss them the non-BiS gear and they’ll reap the benefits of the stat increase while getting ready for the real loot, and you’ll still get your crystals when they’re done.

Please feel free to leave any questions or suggestions for future topics in the comments below.  Additionally, if you happen to know the answer to 10-down on the NY Times Crossword, that one’s been bugging me all day.

Reserved Loot in PuG Raids

After our 10-man raid Tuesday night, I had some extra time before I needed to head off and gain some real-life rested xp.  Since my server is a low-population server–let me correct that, SUPER-low-population–,  PuG raids are hard to come by.  I generally don’t enjoy these raids on my server, because most of the people in those groups don’t know how to work as a team. They also tend to be ignorant to fight mechanics or are too lazy to learn them.  Every now and then, though, I have an “inkling” for a 25-man.

I had Trade Chat open in a separate window, looking for something to do. A Prot Pally from another guild was looking for a healer and a ranged DPS for ICC25. Since I don’t get a chance to heal on my Shaman a lot, I opted in. I knew I’d have a limited amount of time, but PuGs on Nazjatar don’t last long.  I rarely see an ICC PuG get a good shot at Plague Quarter (let alone Putricide) before people start getting “raid A.D.D”.

Ooh! An ICC 25! I run through a check of the gear lists, and I know that my Shaman is still using Protector of Frigid Souls, so the Bulwark of Smouldering Steel from Marrowgar would do nicely! What’s a hard-working Resto Shaman gotta do to get a decent shield in this place?! ToC runs are non-existent, obviously, and I don’t have the 1800 rating (yet) for the Wrathful Gladiator’s Barrier.  There isn’t a 10man shield in ICC until Sindragosa, and I always seem to be working on the nights that we kill her.  So this PuG is a perfect opportunity, right? Wrong.

The Bomb Drops

I step into this fresh ICC 25-man raid. I’ve got my Well Fed buff and my flask going; I’m ready to rock. Right before the first pull, and after all the buffs have been put out, the Raid Leader says in chat that the Bulwark of Smouldering Steel is “reserved”. I check his spec, and he’s a full-blown Prot Pally. I ask him if he’s trying to get it for off-spec. He says no, it’s for their Resto Shaman that just hit 80 not too long ago. I send him a whisper: “That’s really the only reason I’m here is to roll on that Shield. I’d like to roll on it, if you don’t mind.” I’m essentially (and politely) told no, and if I didn’t want to continue, then he’d understand. Well, in a flash of frustration, I bowed out and left the raid. Other spouts of disapproval of something being “reserved” echoed through Raid Chat as I clicked my “Leave Party” option.

My Reaction

Although there is one exception, I’m totally against this kind of loot distribution or raid leading, especially in a PuG. I find that it’s disrespectful to the other people that are brought in to help. You’re essentially saying to me, “I want your help in downing these bosses, but you’re not going to get a fair crack at what drops.” I’ve found a trend also in these types of situations. Either they’re entirely in the mindset of thinking that they can’t possible perform well enough without said gear, or they’re just plain inconsiderate, selfish, and rude. In most of these circumstances, I’ve even had a lower GearScore (means little to me, but means THE WORLD to PuGs), and have been able to incredibly out-heal (with little overhealing) the raider in question. I’m not saying that since I have higher numbers that I should get the Shield, but saying that I’m putting good work in but not allowed to roll on the Shield is a straight smack in the face.

The only exception I’ve been able to see (and from reactions I’ve gotten on Twitter), is a Legendary (and I agree). Things like the Fragments of Val’anyr or Shadowfrost Shard‘s (or any of the Shadowmourne pieces) are entirely fair, just so long as it’s laid out beforehand. Those are long treks to get that one item finished. Other loot, though, should be fair game using whatever loot system you dole out. Straight up reserving them is just selfish, in my mind.

Except for the loot system we use in my ICC 10-man, Team Sport always uses an open roll system. If you’re putting the work into the raid, you deserve a chance to get main-spec loot.  Some people would think that means that we get people rolling on stuff they don’t necessarily need, but it works out great. Since people know that’s how we run our raids, we have a wealth of people that love to run with us. Hence, we can be picky about bringing honest and friendly raiders.

After an experience like this, I’ll never take part in a “reserved loot” raid. Whether it’s my gear or not, it’s just principle.

What do you think? Would you continue to run with a “reserved loot” raid? Or would you bow out?

POLL: Will you raid 10 man or 25 man in Cataclysm?

One of the best — or worst things depending on your view — to happen to raiding in a long time was the inclusion of smaller group sized content. I talked a little bit about this over on BDTU with my pieces on the Evolution of WoW part 1 and part 2.

The trend started with the addition of Zul’Gurub, a troll instance of now infamous reputation, when it broke from the 40-man raid standard and offered 20-man content. It hailed back to the days of Blackrock Spire being a multiple group raid, and people loved it.

Karazhan further stoked the fires of the smaller group raid desire, and did so while offering epic and story filled content. Players loved it so much that the forums were filled countless replies asking for more smaller group . With Wrath came the revelation that all raid content would be be available in 25-man flavor as set forth by Burning Crusade, but also  in new raid 10-man flavor (all of the raid, less than half the calories). Different levels of gear purchasable by badges came out (as well as loot tables that varied between 10 and 25 man), and both 10 and 25 man raids dropped the same badges. The trick, and the problem, was that people felt compelled to run both 10 and 25 man versions to maximize badges. Some people felt that you absolutely had to run both to “beat the game”.

This is also a result of how loot was distributed. Badges gave you the entry level gear for the items at the end of this expansion cycle. Badges gave you the “entry level” piece for the tier set, this was considered the 10 man version of the tier. Tokens in 25 man raids would drop that allowed you to upgrade the 10 man piece to the next level up. Heroic 25 man dropped yet another token that allowed you to upgrade it to it’s maximum potential. You can see how it would be assumed the more badges you had the better gear you had and the quicker you could climb the gear ladder right?

Well, the devs didn’t like that, nor did less hardcore players (or those of us who don’t have the time to devote to constantly running raids all week long) and a new system was proposed for Cataclysm. The system says that the same content will be provided for 10 and 25 man versions, and the reward levels will be the same. That is to say that the Ilvl of gear will be on par between versions, and they will share the same loot tables. The major difference will be that 25 man will have more damage and more health to worry about in boss fights and such, and you will get MORE loot drops than the 10 man content does. Also, a raid regardless of being 10 or 25 man, all share the same raid ID and lockout. Do a  25 man version and kill a boss? Cool. Split into two 10 mans of the same thing and that boss is still dead for both groups. You can’t up-convert from 10 to 25, but you can down-size if attendance becomes an issue or some such.

So this brings up an interesting question for a lot of guilds and raid groups right now. Is it worth it to run 25 man content if the rewards for 10 are the same? Is the extra loot enough of a benefit to keep you raiding in 25 man content or do you give up and just say screw it? I know a lot of guilds are going through this debate right now. I know some of them personally. This happened in a smaller capacity when Wrath was announced to have 10 man content. Some guilds decided the smaller size was for them and paired down into tight-knit, more tactical 10 man groups. So now that the gear is equal level between 10 and 25, aside from quantity, I know many guilds that have weighed the pros and cons of both formats and decided to go for the smaller size.

My guild Unpossible recently had this discussion. We pulled all of the officers into a private vent chat and hashed it out. it was about even split on the case of 10 vs 25, and there were a lot of good points made. After a good half hour discussion, we decided that we would stay a 25 man raiding guild. Our structure was already in place and had been since the release of Burning Crusade, and it has been stable and working since. We have a dedicated group of raiders who love the group we are in and the dynamic we have going. We also decided that we just felt more comfortable in the 25 man environment.

For me personally, I voted in favor of keeping the 25 man raid group. I love the logistical challenge of tracking so many players — and yes I know it’s not the 40 man content or raids from vanilla but I served my time in those — and the dynamic we have set up between all the various parts of the raiding group works well together, and I’d hate to break that up. I also didn’t like the idea of balancing multiple 10 man groups. Something I’ve seen over the last few years, people have an easier time being benched for a raid than they do taking part in a raid that is behind another group. I didn’t want to breed an environment of Group A vs Group B and cause any unnecessary drama.

So with Cataclysm on the horizon, has your guild discussed this at all? Has your raid group decided whether it will raid 10 man or 25 man content? Were you already raiding as a 10 or 25 man group? What do you think the benefits of both are? What about the drawbacks? I’d love to hear your opinions on this and see how the community as a whole has decided.

Will your guild raid 10 man or 25 man content in Cataclysm?

  • 10 Man / 10 Man Hard Mode (68%, 346 Votes)
  • 25 Man / 25 Man Hard Mode (20%, 103 Votes)
  • Banana (12%, 61 Votes)

Total Voters: 498

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Until next time, happy healing!

Shadowmourne: What do you do with Vanity?

shadowmourne

We completed out first Shadowmourne tonight. Fifty (the guy who we gave it to) literally leapt out of his chair and did a lap around his front lawn screaming. Everyone gathered up in front of Darion and watched the 30 seconds or so of RP. Then we took the first step of starting work on the second Shadowmourne with another shard.

And I fear the most difficult decision will come soon when we take down Arthas this week.

Reins of the Crimson Deathcharger
Muradin’s Favor
Jaina’s Locket
Tabard of the Lightbringer
Sylvanas’ Music Box

Several of these items will come from the Unsealed Chest when it is looted. There are two ways we can approach this:

Reward it

Randomly distribute them to our veteran players as a reward and as thanks for getting the group this far. These guys (and girls) have earned it. Everyone that’s contributed to our progression past or present helped make it possible.

Sell it

There is another option. It would be to sell some of these items and place the funds into the bank. On Ner’Zhul, it is not uncommon for the mount to go in excess of 100k. The trinkets will probably fetch 40k-50k gold if not higher. A couple hundred thousand here, a couple hundred thousand there, and pretty soon we’re talking real money.

What would the money be used for?

It would essentially bootstrap this guild into Cataclysm.

1: Professions leveling – Dedicated augments or crafters can utilize some of the gold to power their professions to maximum level so we can gain access to the gear and the enchants or gems quicker. Every item we craft means 1 less item we have to depend on RNG for when we begin raiding operations.

2: Consumables – We wouldn’t have to worry about flasks or consumables for a long time. We can simply purchase the necessary herbs and pump out our own without having to rely on donations of time or money as much.

3: Repairs – On progression nights, we can toggle this on to help cushion the blow of repairs. I’ve seen what a single night of repairs will cost the guild and I had to shut it off because we couldn’t sustain those kinds of costs.

Our current reserves are fair. We have a little over 70k gold from donations and selling of BoEs and other items in the books. No matter what happens, I anticipate there will be some disgruntling. Not everyone’s going to be happy and I’m going to have to prepare for the worse case scenario no matter what decision I make.

I may offer it to guildies first and give them a first crack at purchasing before opening it to the general public.

I had to field several concerns expressed by players on how this gold could help our guild in the present? I told them straight up that it wouldn’t be used immediately. It would be placed in our vaults until the expansion arrives. I’ve stated my commitment for Cataclysm. This guild, this blog and myself aren’t going anywhere.

Of course, things might change. I might meet some incredibly hot young woman at school or something.

But let’s get real.

Assuming you were in my position, what would you do?