Pass the Parcel: When Raiders Won’t Roll


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.


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.


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.


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?

23 thoughts on “Pass the Parcel: When Raiders Won’t Roll”

  1. That used to be a common problem in our guild, our loot arguments always went
    “You take it”
    “No, you take it”
    “You need it more than me”
    “You’ve not had anything for ages”
    “But it’s only a small upgrade for me”
    “Well I had something last week”

    Better than people being greedy over loot I suppose

  2. This was a really perceptive article!

    I’ve observed many times in the past players withdrawing from competition for loot in the leadup to an extended break.

    One thing guild leadership doesn’t always realize is that sometimes raiders do really, truly need a few weeks off.

  3. There’s a sixth reason that comes up painfully frequently in my experience – in fact, it’s my own most common reason for passing on loot: “For whatever reason – I didn’t perform as well as [X other player in my role], I’m bidding against an officer, my attendance has been poor lately, etc. – I don’t deserve it.”

    Is it ever reasonable to say that a regular raider deserves an upgrade less than another? Does it depend on the system – e.g., is “worthiness” more of a factor when items are rolled on rather than bid on?
    .-= Chris Anthony | Duct Tape and a Prayer´s last blog ..Let’s Make A Heal =-.

  4. There is also the reason “I don’t have gold to gem-enchant it”. It has occurred surprisingly often during past couple of weeks.

  5. Another reason I’ve read about is people who don’t quite understand DKP systems and are trying to “save up” for some particular thing.

  6. Tacking onto what Argon mentioned above …. wanting to be first in line for the “big ticket item”. We had a caster pass on every item for over two months simply because he wanted to be first in line for a weapon drop. Both within and outside of a point-based system, the perceived benefit of one item (versus the misunderstood benefit of those “marginal upgrades”) often translates to alot of passing.

  7. My reasons for passing on gear would usually fall in the first category. However, I usually have specific reasons why it wouldn’t be good (ie. things like… I already have too much haste & I don’t want to replace something with crit for something else with haste, when I know there are pieces with crit on it that drop). With good knowledge of the items, you can have specific types of things in mind. With me trying to gear up both a moonkin & healing set, I try to go for items that would work for both sets as often as I can, which means sometimes I pass on certain kinds of loot because I know which pieces I want to have overlap (or don’t want to overlap).

  8. “Is it ever reasonable to say that a regular raider deserves an upgrade less than another?”
    Yes, absolutely, however, the situations are limited at best. Let me give an example: When my old guild had been at the beginning stages of Ulduar (making it to Auriaya at best), one of the items that I had been after was the Plasma Foil off XT-002 Deconstructor. We had been downing XT regularly, but I had not seen the drop in almost 2 months. Then one week, one of our guildies decided to bring in his Warlock instead of his Druid, because he said he wanted to find out which could do more DPS (though it turned out to be a minimal difference). The Plasma Foil dropped, and what happens? He wins the roll.

    Now, you may say that he deserved the loot just as much, however, I will add a tad bit more for you. Before the raid, he stated that the warlock would not be raiding again “after this week”, and he had known that I was after the item. Needless to say, I was not the only person that was perturbed by the occurrence. So, are there cases where “a regular raider deserves an upgrade less than another?” yes, though I would agree that they are few and far between.

    Anywho, switching topics, while I agree that what Argon & Vixsin mentioned are the most common reasons that I have seen, especially in DKP and Suicide Kings loot systems, I would have to say that recently, I have preferred to take a no-loot-for-me approach.

    My reason for not picking up loot at this time, is that we have quite a few newer members in our raiding group, and my gear is at the point of progression, while they are lagging behind. In the best interest of the raid, I am helping to gear them up with as little cost as possible (we use a DKP system), while at the same time, I am picking up gear that is a significant upgrade in other places.

    By me allowing them to pick up gear at a cost of little DKP, two major things are being accomplished: 1. They get to save their DKP, so that they can get more significant upgrades later, 2. I get to “horde” my DKP, so I can get the items I want, all while everyone is getting gear.

    In the end, my passing on marginal upgrades is helping everyone in the group, which, while very socialist in nature, is a good way to work in a regulated system.

  9. I have so many people in our raids who try this method. Sometimes it’s viable but when they’re passing over loot simply because they think we’re trying to “pity” them, or that someone else needs it more than they do (which is rarely the case), peer pressure wins out in the end.

    Thankfully due to loot council, we get to balance out the raid rather nicely, when appropriate things drop 🙂

  10. How about people who wouldn’t like the look of the new item droping and prefer their old stuff ?
    I’ve never seen these people yet and I guess they wouldn’t be in high end raids…
    Have you seen such a case ?

  11. @Sydera – good point. Occasionally players simply need a break; sometimes the best way to support them then may not be to talk extensively round the situation but let them get on with it, preferably without them feeling guilty while doing so.

    @Chris Anthony – Yes indeed, I think that’s an important point – and a difficult one to address. If a player passes because *they* believe they don’t deserve something, they are unlikely to admit that easily in discussion because it suggests opening up a can of worms that they’ve been hiding. Even so, it’s crucial to address this opinion as it usually is self-styled. These players *do* deserve rewards if they put their heart into playing well and having fun with the rest, regardless of whether they are a really good player. After all, the idea of ‘really good player’ is subjective.

    @Hoho – yes, I can see this would be a potential reason. Not sure I buy it though. There are dailies and auction houses in the game, too. That might be a lack of time or lack of interest thing. If I hear that as a reason then my immediate thought is “it sounds like Homer doesn’t want to progress his character, what’s the reason behind that?”

    @makraen – I do know people who take the ‘look’ of an item into account when thinking about rolling, although they don’t use it as their sole reason for rolling or not rolling. I wonder if anyone does? It’s not necessarily a bad thing – as far as reasons for you to play a game go, the aesthetic of your own character is a fair one, perhaps.

    To those folks talking about loot systems – interesting discussion. I’m thinking of lookin at loot systems in a future article. If you have any thoughts on them feel free to add them here if they’re relevant to the loot passing or if they’re general thoughts on loot systems, ping me on twitter.

    Really enjoying your feedback and thoughts, folks – thanks! The extra reasons are good food for thought. Would also be interested to hear from folks who have regularly passed, raid officers who’ve dealt with it or folks who know players who regularly pass! Keep them coming!
    .-= Mimetir´s last blog ..Juddr: Yoggy yoggy yogg. Now with our very own Herding-Yogg soundtrack. =-.

  12. My guild is a very casual guild but in our raids, we do have the “no, you take it” conversations every once in a while. It’s usually happens when it’s a small upgrade for one and a huge upgrade for another. I know I myself have done that to help out a guildie.

    I suppose on our guild, we remember that this is a team effort and a raid does not win or fail based on one person (unless that person is really really bad, but we’ve taken brand new 80s into Naxx with little to no problems). I will roll against others if it’s a major upgrade but if I get 10 more damage out of it compared to someone else who would get 100 more damage out of it, I’ll just pass.

    As for people who have problems trying to do that stats math, I’d highly recommend RatingBuster. It sure makes my life a LOT easier when it comes to deciding gear upgrades.
    .-= Faeldray´s last blog ..Saraku – Part 1: Smoke =-.

  13. Unfortunately of all the loot situations I was in as a raider, the motive usually turned out to be the person hoarding DKP so they could be the first to get a piece of loot later down the road. I suppose this is largely dependent on the loot system in place as well as the relationship between the raiders, however.

  14. Most guilds I raided with insisted that on the class forum you posted the pieces you were aiming for. Generally a what I have now, an intermediate transition and a what I consider BiS for my spec/playstyle.

    Being a full 2 tiers of gear behind is simply too far, its ridiculous. Its quite possible to sit close to 1 tier back on average due to itemization, etc…

    If people are hoarding DKP then do they think that blizz should save everyone’s time and only drop the BiS for each tier and make that clearly better than the previous tier (Tier 1 and 2 were a bit like that and it sucked).

  15. I am kinda lucky, because I play a Holy Paladin i don’t have to fight with many others for loot so usually if a Spellpower plate item drops its either a yes or a DE thanks…

    Instead of DKP our guild uses EP/GP. Effort Points/Gear Points, with a decay % taken each raid to prevent inflation.

    It has its good and bad points. But it at least encourages people to spend their Effort points otherwise you lose them (through decay) after maybe 2-3weeks (Its abit longer now because we don’t do Ulduar anymore) and ToC only has 5 bosses + hardmodes.

    I get screwed though because i can’t make it to the Wednesday raid on time and my guild clears normal 25man ToC in that time and i miss all the EP points from each boss kill 🙁

  16. I have been in two guilds who ran a loot council system. In both cases I saw the officers tend to pass out loot over taking it themselves. One of the big worries running a loot council is being perceived as unfair or biased to the officers, which results in them leaning the other way.

    As a player under a loot council system I rely on the officers to balance out amongst the various raiders who desire an item where it would be best for the guild progression and keeping the raiders happy. It is very tough to do properly, there is always someone who feels hard done by.

  17. My impression is that having various versions of the same item (232,245,258) is making the problem worse.

    People are waiting to get the 245 version of a tier item, but the number of trophies acquired has only allowed most of our guild raiders to get ONE item for now, and this won’t get much faster for a while.

    I’m the guild banker and disenchanter, and I hate having to DE stuff like the 10 man version of Robe of the Sleepless ( because they want the heroic version and don’t want to lose the T8 bonus.

    Also, we use no DKP, just raider ranks with higher/lower priority: all roll and the only rule is you get one item per night, except of course something drops that no one rolls for at first. In this case I would much rather give a second item to someone than have the hundredth abyss crystal in guild bank.

    If we have to go for the hard modes, tributes etc – we need to have the best possible dps/hps – and if that means having to gem and enchant items more often because you change gear frequently, by all means do it!

    And I prefer people to have alternatives with gear – I rolled on a good pair of gloves that would break my 8.5 set bonus – and they’re in bank gemmed and enchanted, waiting my 2nd piece of tier 9 before I can retire the 2 conqueror 8.5 I am still wearing – if I had not rolled for those because no one wanted, I’d be behind 2 items and not one.

    By all means – roll for EVERY good item you may want to use, but pass it if someone needs it more. It’s those purple pixels that make us more efficient.

    Btw this is me

    you can see these principles have made me pretty sexy 😉

  18. One thing I used to do is weighing old stats, and set bonuses. I have to say that for Holy Pallies the gear jumped the shark at tier 7 IMO. Every set since then has been… “You will take this new loot, and like it!” It wasn’t said exactly that way, but we were “patched” to prefer mp5 right after tier 8 came out. Meh good pallies found a way around it, well we deal with it anyway. (More Bubbles, more Bacon, and a Shock FLoT macro!!!) But a plus side if I could get those pants to drop for me I could raid in a dress. <3 /cheer
    So it may be that he is in rebellion, but yeah if it hurts the group someone needs to talk to Homer. Plus we engineers love our goggles, again this isn't a player that needs a break. This is Blizz making the player angry. But really how often does getting mad at the creator really help? (And here by creator I mean Blizz.) You might feel better, but it doesn't accomplish anything.
    .-= Arkaneena´s last blog ..Our Toons Ourselves =-.

  19. Typically a number of us “in-the-know” will notice if player x doesn’t roll on loot y. The order is called out “, you need to roll on that” or “ROLL “. This yields either a roll or a reason, excuses are not tolerated.

    The fourth reason from above and its mirror image (the pally who rolls on ALL plate – cuz you know, pallies wear plate) are the most difficult to deal with.

  20. I’m missing one more reason.
    Well, technically it falls into the “hoarding” category, but I’ve had it at some points that I was the one grabbing every marginal upgrade, and in the end losing out double because my 5x small upgrade cost me 5×50 DKP for X increase and my competitor paid 1-2×50 DKP for X increase, just 2 weeks later. Additionally, I’m going to replace my 5 minor upgrades *again* in the next tier of instances, whereas he keeps his one item.
    On the other way round, you can have bad luck, and “your” loot only drops on the nights you’re not online and then the guild disbands with you sitting alone at the top of the priority list 😛
    Just don’t generalize, I can see a dozen good reasons for passing as well as another dozen for getting upgrades fast.

  21. I can see why people hoard their dkp or whatever. I had wanted a weapon for the longest time but by the time the damned thing dropped (14 weeks later) I was so far in the hole that a rogue picked it up. I was a bit miffed as it would have been stupidly significant dps boost for me so I changed my tactic.

    From that point on I started planning out gear and upgrades so I knew exactly what I wanted and how badly. I’m not to the point where I spreadsheet everything and declare BiS or some nonsense like that. After all there is no such beast for healing, there’s always a tradeoff though more progression minded raiders tend to eschew mana regen for other stats, that’s a whole other story. So now I know what I’m going to bid on and I pass up a fair share of upgrades for it because of the marginality of it all. After all there’s only so much DKP you can earn especially when sporting two incompatible specs that are used just as much.

  22. I usually pass on alot of loot when I used to raid.. Now I just raid once every two weeks if I”m lucky. But when I did pass, I felt it would be better spent on someone who raided alot more and would just put that piece of equip to better use..

    Now I just gear from emblems, I was hoping coming back to wow for the 3.3 patch I would find a cross server LFG for raids.. but not yet it seems.. sigh..


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