Behind the Scenes: Loot Council

This might end up being one of the longest and most in depth posts you’ll ever read here about the loot council system. I tweeted a couple of weeks ago asking if people would be interested in an example of what happens to go on behind the scenes when loot is being decided. A resounding number said yes!

Took me about 7+ hours to conceptualize, write, and edit this one. Thanks to my guys for their help and suggestions.

What is loot council?

It is basically a group of players who decide which items go to which player when they drop in a raid. And before you say anything, yes it is entirely prone to favoritism. And yes, it is possible for it to be corrupt. Keep in mind though, the effectiveness of loot council is entirely dependant on your loot council. If they are nothing more than sniveling, selfish players who award loot only to themselves, then yes that is a problem. But if your loot council has progression first and foremost in mind, then it’ll work out in the end.

It’s not about being fair

A lot of players make the case that it isn’t fair.

You’re absolutely right.

Loot council is not designed to be fair.

In fact, it is far and away the worst system when it comes to fairness. Fairness is going to very by player and by situation. If a really awesome trinket drops, does it go to the new player who’s still using that 219 trinket who just joined the guild? Or does it go to the veteran who wants to replace his 264 trinket with a slightly upgraded version? Strong cases could easily be made for both. You could argue that that the new player would benefit the most from it as its the biggest upgrade for him (and consequently, overall raid DPS would increase). On the other hand, it could be used as a reward for the veteran for his consistent attendance and performance and that he deserves it (and has a higher chance of it sticking around in the guild as opposed to someone taking it and leaving).

When I pick out my council, I give them free reign on names and selections. They can only pick from the players who have listed themselves. They don’t have to give reasons for their judgments. Ultimately though, the one criteria I instill upon them is to do what’s best for the guild. If it means awarding a freshly minted player who just joined the guild with a trinket, that’s okay. If it means handing it off to a veteran, that’s okay too.

Every case is unique. We don’t operate on precedent because we can’t afford to “handcuff” ourselves in that manner.

Who is on it?

I try to maintain a fairly balanced class composition on the LC. It looks something like:

  1. Healer
  2. Tank
  3. Melee DPS
  4. Ranged DPS
  5. Other (Usually another ranged DPS, but it varies)

For me, the two criteria it takes to sit on it are both:

a) Basic knowledge of other classes and what’s desirable stats for them
b) Actually wanting to be on it

A surprising number of players I’ve approached over the 2 years have said they were hesitant to sit on it because they weren’t sure if they wanted that pressure or that power. I don’t want a player that screams “PICK ME PICK ME PICK ME”, I try to go after players who are willing to do it but are fine if they don’t.

If there’s some sort of bias detected, that council member is restricted from voting. For example, if someone’s fiancé or girlfriend or brother is up for an item, that council member would not be allowed to say anything. They can provide advice or notes, but that’s it. When that happens, an officer steps in temporarily and takes their spot. The same thing happens if it’s an item that a loot council member wants: They’re not allowed to vote (unless they pass). We try to minimize the obvious biases as best as possible.

Confused? Not every loot council member is an officer, that’s why an officer can periodically make a decision to fill in.

Loot council usually rotates after a month to several months depending on a number of things (Where we’re at in progression, boredom, “freshness” factor, etc).

Members have a say too!

In 80% of the loot decisions, we don’t actually have to come to a ruling. Back when we formed, Syd and I added a slight twist allowing our members to decide if something truly is an upgrade for them or not. Check out my macro:

LOOT OPTIONS
Int = You want and is a main spec upgrade
Pass = You want it, but can afford to wait or will not be using right away
Off = Off spec item
Say nothing = No interest in item

Yes, it’s tiered. Saying Interested signifies immediate desire and that it’s usable. Saying pass means you want it, but you won’t be able to use it until you get another piece of gear (like hit rating adjustments) or its a relatively minor upgrade (going from a 251 level item to a 264).

Anyway, I’ll give you a few of the loot scenarios and some of the decisions that I made. Keep in mind, there’s 5 of us. When someone says they want something though, we’ll ask them to link the current item that they wish to replace.

Give you an example:

[Coldwraith Links] has dropped.

Loot Master: 5
DPS warrior: Int [Vengeful Noose]
Loot Master: 4
Death Knight 1: Int [Coldwraith Links]
Death Knight 2: Int [Coldwraith Links]
Loot Master: 3
Loot Master: 2
Death Knight 3: pass
Loot Master: 1
Ret Pally: pass
Loot Master: –

Right off the bat, we’ll strike Death Knight 3 and our Ret Pally off the list. They both want it, but for whatever reason, they’re willing to wait or not able to use it (or are just being generous because maybe they’ve gotten a bit of upgrades that week). This case is one of the tougher ones we’ve had to deal with because all 3 partys’ could make a strong case for themselves.

But it’s easy in that since any of them could use it, the whole guild would benefit anyway regardless of who got it. I’m thinking big picture at this point. If memory serves, I think we gave it to Death Knight 2 because Death Knight 1 had gotten something earlier that night or that week. Honestly, it was a coin toss between the Death Knight and the Warrior.

Let’s do a tier example.

Conqueror’s Mark of Sanctification

Holy Priest – Int (42 badges) – Has no tier piece
Shadow Priest – Int (33 badges) – Has 1 tier piece (Shoulders), 251
Prot Paladin (off tank) – Int (60 badges) – Has no tier piece
Warlock – Int (60 badges) – Has 1 tier piece (Legs), 251
Ret Pally – Int (55 badges) – Has 1 tier piece, (Shoulders) 264

Let’s travel back in time a few months where tier tokens were still relatively new and not many players had tier pieces equipped yet. When it came to tier, we looked at factors like the amount of Emblems they had. We also wanted to know if they already had the 251 level tier pieces. We also had a quick chat with the players to really figure out which set bonuses were okay and which set bonuses were jaw droppingly awesome. Our mindset with tier is that we knew it would be a constant drop rate. We wanted to try to spread it out as much as possible. It was up to the raiders themselves individually to do dailies or whatever they could to get as much Frost Emblems as they could. Over a span of several weeks, our accessibility to tier would increase anyway. It was our job to determine who got what tier first.

Keep in mind, at the time Saurfang was the only boss who dropped tier at the time.

The first thing we looked at was how quick the token could be spent and used. The Shadow Priest would have been able to upgrade their tier shoulders immediately. The Holy Priest would need another week or two to purchase the 251. The Prot Paladin would also benefit and has not bought any tier yet. The Ret Pally already received one from the week before, striking her from the list. It would’ve been a tough call between the Warlock and the Prot Paladin. For me personally, I would’ve awarded it to our Warlock. It gives him immediate access to a 264 piece and a 2 piece with the shoulders.

Conqueror would drop again and it would’ve been pretty easy to “map” out the next few drops anyway.

Phylactery for the Nameless Lich (heroic)

Loot Master: 5
Shadow Priest: Int Phylactery of the Nameless Lich
Loot Master: 4
Warlock: Int Muradin’s Spyglass
Mage: Int Eye of the Broodmother
Loot Master: 3
Loot Master: 2
Loot Master: 1
Shadow Priest: pass
Loot Master: –

Here’s some background information. Both the Warlock and the Mage joined the guild the same day. The Shadow Priest has been around for 9 months as a regular raider. Our Shadow Priest notices the trinkets the other two are using and realizes it would be a better upgrade for the other two and decides to withdraw his name from consideration. Seeing as the Mage and Warlock are new and that extensive notes have been taken so far on their performance. The Warlock has been performing extremely well with top 5 finishes on most boss fights. The Mage is about average to below average (10th-15th with massive fluctuations). Unfortunately, the Warlock was mind controlled on Blood Queen because his target had already been bitten. In terms of drops, the Warlock had received no items that night and the Mage received both a Vanquisher token and a neck upgrade (both immediately used).

It’s now down to the battle of the recruits.

This is one of those “investment” type calls. Who are we most likely to keep? Who is most likely to go? We don’t know. It’s difficult to gauge that especially on a day 1 (a little easier after week 1). Do we give it to the Warlock as a reward so far for his efforts (except for the blown bite)? Or do we give it to the Mage to escalate his gear further? We’re aware that his DPS isn’t as high as the rest and it would really bring it in line. But he already received two items that night.

Those were just some of the questions that ran through my head. Ultimately, the Phylactery would’ve been an upgrade for either of the two. And for me, I would’ve sided with the Warlock just for the sake of even distribution.

Heroic Solace of the Defeated

Holy Priest – Int – Heroic Althor’s Abacus, Glowing Twilight Scale
Disc Priest – Int – Talisman of Resurgence, Glowing Twilight Scale
Resto Shaman – Int – Heroic Althor’s Abacus, Purified Lunar Dust
Resto Druid – Int – Ephemeral Snowflake, Heroic Althor’s Abacus
Resto Druid 2 – Int – Ephemeral Snowflake, Talisman of Resurgence
Holy Paladin – Int – Sliver of Pure Ice, Althor’s Abacus

Let’s try some healing trinkets. They are one of the biggest headaches in the game due to the number of players that want them when they drop. For me, when a player gets two powerful trinkets, I cut them off for the rest of the expansion. Again, I want to minimize the number of wasted drops. No point for us giving a trinket to one person only for them to replace it the week after when another player also could have benefited from it.

Here’s the information:

The Holy Paladin is entering finals for law school. He’s already declared that he will not be able to show up for the next 3 weeks. The Resto Druid received his Abacus earlier that week.

Ugh, tough decisions. The Holy Priest is just being plain greedy, so he gets struck. He’s already using trinkets that will last him the length of the expansion (probably that Matt guy who wants it, greedy bastard). The Holy Paladin could also put it to good use, but it won’t be effective for the next 3 weeks. The Resto Druid already got something that week, he’s out. Resto Druid 2 missed out on 2 straight progression raids without letting anyone know. Now it’s down to the Disc Priest and the Resto Shaman.

Looking across the board and seeing how everyone (and their mother) seems to already have an Althor’s Abacus, I’d award it to the Resto Shaman. The Disc Priest could benefit from an Abacus or a Solace. The Resto Shaman could use the Solace and then be done for trinkets for the expansion. It’s a narrow decision, but it ultimately gets awarded to the Resto Shaman because the Disc Priest trinkets could be completed with any of the 2 above options.

Final thoughts

Generally, most items take seconds to resolve. The ones that take the longest end up being:

  • Weapons
  • Trinkets
  • Rings

Those take the longest because many classes have vested interest. Look at an item like the Ring of Rapid Ascent. It’s one of the top items by practically everyone (casters and healers).

Granted, we do make mistakes. For every 4 or so good loot decisions we make, there’s a bad one that bites us in the ass. A Glowing Twilight Scale was handed off to a Paladin because no other healers wanted it at the time. He left after 2 weeks. We passed a Deathbringer’s Will to a feral Druid who had been a long standing member of the guild before he departed to try his hand at a higher progression guild. Since the inception of the guild, we’ve had over 115 players contribute to the success of our raids and for various reasons, they have dropped out and retired (Getting married, moving, getting yelled at by SO for too much WoW time, school, work, etc).

I have never had a single player leave and cite the reason for their departure as “unfair loot system”. We have a strong recruiting process and players that (we think) are self-centered when it comes to drops don’t usually make it past week 1.

It takes a dedicated and unique organization to make this loot system work. Everyone needs to be onboard with it and absolutely must buy into the system. That’s the reason it works. It’s because players understand it isn’t always about loot.

In the event the council is evenly split or unable to come to a decision (say an item benefits 4 people on the council and they all want it), then any officers present will make the call. If it’s a 5 way split (which rarely happens), another officer is asked to make a pick so that it becomes a 2-1-1-1-1 decision. Lastly, for anything that cannot easily be decided, I invoke what’s called the Matt clause. It usually happens if there’s a number of loot council players or officers who are either absent or unable to vote. If that occurs, I make the decision regardless of whether I can vote or not. If I’m not present, that falls to the raid leader, then the main tank, and on down the chain of command until its resolved.

Remember, we have a raid to run and bosses to kill. We can’t spend all that time debating. Unless it’s a Deathbringer’s Will, it’ll drop again.

We’re not completely infallible. Just like referees, we make bad calls too. But hey, this system isn’t for everyone. But it definitely works for us (we took down heroic Putricide last week on 25 man, and that guy was a nut case).

While I suspect a number of you won’t agree (and will continue to disagree) with this system, I hope this post has at least shed some light on how a guild could do the job. I know of a guild where a Shaman immediately LC’s mail gear to himself for all 3 specs. It’s unfortunate that cases like that happen, but they do exist. I wanted to write this to illustrate that not every guild or loot council is corrupt (at least, not intentionally).

Tier 7 Bonuses: A Guide to What’s Hot and What’s Not

tierpiece

Updates:: This is another classic example of me not fact checking my stuff. This post sat in my draft queue since early January. Other things came up and I set it aside for the time being. Patches 3.0.8 and 3.0.9 were released and I forgot that some changes were made. Resto Druids 2 piece, Feral Druid 2 piece notes have been changed. Stop’s opinions have been revised. I split the tanking and DPS feral druids accordingly instead of lumping them together. Added another Enhancement Shaman perspective. Sorry! 🙁

Tier pieces have a history of granting bonuses. Blizzard has an even more illustrious history of giving set bonuses that are really good and some that are really bad. I don’t know everything about every class. Yet, as a member of loot council, I should be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the various set pieces. Like it or not, set bonuses do tend to have an impact on decisions. One of the Resto Shamans in my guild was the first to get the 4 piece (because Archavon was kind and dropped 2 Resto pieces).

To help you understand and decide on your set pieces, I’ve consulted my guild and several other prominent bloggers and players in the community. I don’t know as much as I would like about other classes and it wouldn’t be fair for me to make any assumptions (without asking others about it first).

This post will be broken down into 4 different roles: Tanking, melee DPS, ranged DPS, and healers.

Tanking

Warriors

2 piece: Increases the damage of your Shield Slam by 10%. Rating: Good

4 piece: Increases the duration of your Shield Wall by 3 seconds. Rating: Moderate

Several of the tanking Warriors I consulted weren’t impressed with the Warrior 4 piece. Prot Warrior blogger Veneretio only had this to say:

"It’s a great bonus if the 4 pieces fall into your lap, but the current non-set itemization is so strong that you’ll be hard pressed to even get the 2 piece. Basically, it’s go for the 7.5 gloves and another set piece (like shoulders or chest).”

Druid

2 piece: Your Rip lasts for an additional 4 seconds, and your Lacerate deals an additional 5% damage. Rating: Good (for both)

4 piece: Increases the duration of Barkskin by 3 seconds. Tiger’s Fury cooldown reduced by 3 seconds. Rating: Good for tanks

I had to consult Feral Druid Karthis about this one.

His thoughts on the 2 piece:

“While extra damage is always nice, Lacerate doesn’t form a crucial part of a bear tank’s output – Maul and Mangle generally outperform it (although Mangle is close).  Since threat is a non-issue in the existing content, this set bonus is even further trivialized.”

On the 4 piece:

“This unassuming-sounding set bonus is actually fairly significant.  Barkskin reduces damage taken by 20% and usually lasts for 12s.  It is a spell that every tank should be re-casting as soon as it is off cooldown.  Boosting the uptime to 15s only improves an already must-use skill, and further reduces the total incoming damage that must be healed through.”

Paladin

2 piece: Increases the damage dealt by your Hammer of the Righteous by 10%. Rating: Good

4 piece: Increases the duration of your Divine Shield and Divine Protection by 3 seconds. Rating: Moderate

HoR is good AoE threat. 4 piece is irrelevant to raiding. (Thanks Myze!)

From what I’ve been told, the 2 piece is good. The 4 piece appears to be just average. The situation seems to be similar to the Warrior 4 piece. Divine Protection is probably going to get used more often in the same was Shield Wall would be. Thanks Anna!

Death Knight

2 piece: Increases the critical strike chance of your Plague Strike by 10%. Rating: Moderate

4 piece: Increases the duration of your Icebound Fortitude by 3 seconds. Rating: Good

When Stop speaks, I listen:

2 piece: It’s still not fantastic… at all. Plague Strike is one of our lowest-hitting abilities, and improving its crit chance is not as useful as if they’d increased its crit damage. Basically, the 2-piece bonus is not worth going for.

4 piece: About the tanking gear 4-piece bonus: If you have to have a set bonus, this would be the one to go for. However, I don’t know if I’d pass up other gear just to get it, depending on your playstyle. Icebound Fortitude is basically Barkskin, and with some specs being squishier than others, some use it constantly while some use it like a moderately less effective Shield Wall. If you use IBF every time it’s up, go for this bonus. Otherwise, consider it a nice perk for getting this already-nicely-statted tank gear.

Melee DPS

Warriors

2 piece: Increases the damage of your Slam by 10%. Rating: Good.

4 piece: Your Bleed periodic effects have a chance to make your next ability cost 5 less rage. Rating: Moderate

Not that hot. Most DPS Warriors don’t have as much rage issues from what I’m told. But the Slam bonus is very nice.

Rogues

2 piece: Increases the damage dealt by your Rupture by 10%. Rating: Good

4 piece: Reduces the Energy cost of your Combo moves by 5%. Rating: Ugh

“The two-piece bonus seems pretty useful but I’m unconvinced about the four-piece.” Seri, Snarkcraft

“Just that the two piece is a huge bonus for rogues while the four piece is lackluster considering the amount of energy used to perform the combo moves.” – Cassio

Druids

2 piece: Your Rip lasts for an additional 4 seconds, and your Lacerate deals an additional 5% damage. Rating: Good

4 piece: Increases the duration of Barkskin by 3 seconds. Tiger’s Fury cooldown reduced by 3 seconds. Rating: Not great for DPS kitties

2 piece notes: “This is an important set bonus for a feral cat’s long term sanity.  Kitty DPS is stressful – there are four separate buffs/debuffs that need to be monitored.  By increasing the duration of Rip, a Druid is allowed more wiggle room to keep the other three (Rake, Mangle, Savage Roar) all active, which leads to consistently higher DPS.  “

4 piece notes: “It reduces the Tiger’s Fury cooldown by 3s. While TF is used every 30s, the top theorycrafters say that this new bonus is almost meaningless, clocking in at an extra 0.7% dps. There are much better gear choices that provide a bigger DPS boost than that.” (Karthis’ notes in the comments)

Shamans

2 piece: Your Lightning Shield damage is increased by 10%. Rating: Not so good.

4 piece: Your Flurry effect provides an additional 5% melee haste. Rating: Good

Not the greatest. Most Shamans don’t appear to pick up the Static Shock talent. Water shield is primarily used since they go through mana quickly. The 4 piece is decent as it results in overall faster hits.

On the other hand:

It is actually fairly good, static shock is a must take ability for an enh shammy. When I look at my WWS, lightning shield represents about 6% of my total damage output. Since I am at about 4k DPS right now that means my lightning shield is doing about 240 DPS.

Paladins

2 piece: Increases the damage dealt by your Divine Storm by 10%. Rating: Good

4 piece: Reduces the cooldown of your Judgment of Light, Judgment of Wisdom and Judgment of Justice by 1 second. Rating: Good

An overall net increase in DPS. Your Ret Paladins will love it. From what I’ve been told, Ret Paladins have this in their rotation anyway.

Death Knight

2 piece: Increases the critical strike chance of your Obliterate and Scourge Strike abilities by 5%. Rating: Good.

4 piece: Your Obliterate and Scourge Strike generate an additional 10 Runic Power when used. Rating: Moderate

DPS 2 piece: The only people who won’t benefit from this are dual-wielders. Every two-handed build in common usage uses either Obliterate or Scourge Strike, so for much the same reason as how Heigan’s sigil is great for pretty much every two-hander-using DK, this set piece bonus is fantastic for them. I’m still trying to get a set piece just for this bonus, in fact!

DPS 4 piece: I have no idea what they were thinking with this. I think they would’ve done better to try to rip off another class’s bonus, like, say, warriors? No DK should be having problems generating runic power, two-handed or dual-wield, period. Plus, again, this is useless for dual-wielders – both of the DPS plate set bonuses are geared exclusively towards two-handed weapon users. All that aside – I would never gear for this set bonus specifically.

– Stoppable force.

Ranged DPS

Priests

2 piece: The mana cost of your Mind Blast is reduced by 10%. Rating: Good

4 piece: Your Shadow Word: Death has an additional 10% chance to critically strike. Rating: Not so good

From my Shadow Priests:

The 2 piece is nice but is purely for mana efficiency on Mind Blast and doesn’t really matter much if you have stacked Spirit and Crit like most Shadow Priests do. The 4 piece isn’t worth it because with itemization there are many pieces that add more DPS than the 10% critical chance to Shadow Word: Death.

Druid

2 piece: Your Insect Swarm deals an additional 10% damage. Rating: Good

4 piece: Your Wrath and Starfire spells gain an additional 5% critical strike chance. Rating: Good

Boomkin ones are awesome all the way around. Insect swarm should always be up and 5% extra crit on our two major nukes is flat out gibbering insane. – Llanion, Moooonfire

Shaman

2 piece: Your Lightning Bolt costs 5% less mana. Rating: Moderate

4 piece: The bonus critical strike damage of your Lava Burst is increased by 10%. Rating: Good

I play an Elemental Shaman in my off nights and I absolutely love it. I don’t have a ton of mana problems in the beginning. Fights are short enough that I won’t be taxing my mana pool. The 4 piece set bonus is great for me. Flame Shock guarantees that my next Lava Burst will crit. This means Lava Burst will get an increase of 10% damage no matter what. Normally I’ll do around 8000 damage per Lava Burst. This shoots it up to a little under 9000. Fights like Thaddius or Malygos where your damage gets increased will have Shamans see an extremely noticeable amount (18000 with Sparks)!

Mages

2 piece: You gain 40% more mana when you use a mana gem. In addition, using a mana gem grants you 225 spell power for 15 sec. Rating: Moderate

4 piece: Your offensive spells gain an additional 5% increased critical strike bonus damage. Rating: Good

I consulted one of my Mages on this and he tells me that the 2 piece is nice for the extra mana boost. The 4 piece could potentially equal a 1%-2% overall DPS increase.

Hunters

2 piece: Your pet deals an additional 5% damage. Rating: Good

4 piece: Your ranged attack speed is increased by 20% while Aspect of the Viper is active. Rating: Good

2 piece bonus is nice for any spec, but it’s particularly good for MM or SV looking to close the gap in pet damage. The 4 piece bonus is kind of a nice boost to DPS while in regen mode, but nothing earth shattering, looks like. – Lassirra, The Hunters Mark

Warlocks

2 piece: Your Corruption and Immolate periodic effects have a chance to increase the next critical strike chance of your next Shadow Bolt or Incinerate by 10%. Rating: Good

4 piece: Casting Life Tap grants you an additional 300 spirit for 10 seconds. Rating: Good

“2 piece bonus is really good. 4 piece bonus is- OMG WHY DON’T I ALREADY HAVE THIS?”  – nibuca

Note: Nib immediately dashed off and could not be reached for further comment.

Healers

Priests

2 piece: Your Prayer of Mending will jump an additional time. Rating: Good

4 piece: The cost of your Greater Heal is reduced by 5%. Rating: No, not really

Personally, I’d say go consult your WWS on this. Try to get a feel for how often you use Greater Heal and see if you can justify it. I don’t use Greater Heal as often. When you think about it, 5% off of Greater Heal is about 50 mana or so. I don’t use this spell enough to warrant the free payback. But if you do, then it is something for you to consider. Otherwise, go for 2 sets then defer the rest to the other classes (like Warlocks or Paladins). Obviously if the 7.5’s drop and you have nothing else better in the slots (like heroic gear), go ahead and take a stab at it.

Shaman

2 piece: Your Water Shield is 10% stronger (each tick restores 10% more mana). Rating: Good

4 piece: Increases the healing done by your Chain Heal and Healing Wave by 5%. Rating: Good

Earthshatter set bonuses for Resto Shaman are awesome! Because they buff Water Shield as well as Chain Heal and Healing Wave, they manage to suit most of the various healing styles that Resto Shaman can perform (Anna, Too Many Annas)

Druid

2 piece: The cost of your Rejuvenation Lifebloom is reduced by 5%. Rating: Good

4 piece: Your Nourish heals an additional 5% for each of your heal over time effects present on the target. Rating: Good

2 piece is solid. Rejuvenation Lifebloom gets used frequently. With the 4 piece, Nourish becomes even stronger for Resto Druids. At least, this is what Syd tells me. Can’t go wrong here!

Paladin

2 piece: Your Holy Shock gains an additional 10% chance to critically strike. Rating: Good

4 piece: The cost of your Holy Light is reduced by 5%. Rating: Good

"Neither bonus is play-changing in the way that old set bonuses have been (4pcT5, anyone?) but both 2pc and 4pc bonuses are nice boosts to our mana-intensive spells." – Siha, Banana Shoulders

Hopefully this summary will help you in your loot decisions! For the DKP players, maybe it’ll even save you some points for other items instead!

Image courtesy of riyono

6 Influential Factors in Loot Council Decisions

This is a behind the scenes look on the Conquest forums detailing loot factors that are taken into account during loot council disputes. Some readers expressed interest in learning more about the specifics and here they are.

Loot is the single biggest headache involved with raiding. If you are a person that values yourself over the guild, then you want to reassess why you are in this guild, or why you want to join this guild. Ask yourself “do I want gear to raid or do I want to raid for gear?” Hopefully, you are a person who will choose the first option. If all you want is to raid for gear, then Conquest is probably not for you.

Nothing can avoid disagreements over gear. The Loot Council itself has an odd number of members specifically to avoid a deadlock on a piece of gear. Please keep in mind; we will do it as fairly as possible. If you felt you were treated unfairly and made a mistake, place yourself in an officer’s position and look at it from that angle.

If you still feel we error, please get in touch with Mallet and discuss it with him. Unfortunately, we cannot reverse decisions unless the item was erroneously awarded (as in mislooted, which can only be fixed via tickets). But your thoughts will be taken into account for the future.

How to express interest

Say Interested – If the item is a significant upgrade for you in your current spec and role. Best in slot also applies.
Say Pass – If the item is a minor upgrade or you’d like it for an off spec.
Say nothing – If you have zero interest at all in the item.

A countdown will be applied. At the end of it, there will be a dash (-). Interest expressed well after the dash will not be factored into account (unless there was no one interested at all during the countdown).

Note: If you equip a green to ninja gear and attempt to influence the council, you will be gkicked.

The gear reward process

5 members consists of the Loot Council. They each have their own individual personality and are 5 different players. Each council member has 1 vote used to decide who receives an item if there are multiple players interested in an item.

6 Influential factors

Current rank and position: Initiates and Subs will not get loot assigned to them if there are members in the raid with Raider status that has interest. This is to prevent people from joining, getting a few pieces of loot, and then leaving. It is basically a form of DKP. It forces people to have a vested interest in the guild to receive gear. This may be overlooked based on performance, attendance, or the amount of loot already received during that raid. To attain Raider status a person must be a member for a few weeks and attended (or been on vent and available) a minimum of three raids per week.

Attendance: Raid attendance is extremely important. If players aren’t here to raid, they’re not going to be able to contribute. Remember that loot drops will be awarded in order to be as effective as possible. This means there is a higher chance that a player who attends 3-5 times a week will get an item over a player who only shows up once a week.

Effectiveness: Is it effective for the guild as a whole? Will you be able to utilize it and ensure that it does not become useless? We want to ensure that items aren’t going to be wasted by being awarded to alts or off specs unless there is no main interest. Paladins looking to obtain DPS Plate gear aren’t going to get it if they’re in raids to heal. It does not maximize the effectiveness of the item if it is not being used.

Current items: A player still wearing Heroic or Normal Naxx level gear is going to have a higher chance of being awarded an item. Keep in mind that this will not always be the case. In certain situations, while the item in question may be a larger upgrade for a newer player, it could be awarded to a veteran player who has been in there for weeks or months on end trying to get the item.

Equal distribution: Loot will be distributed as equally as possible to the appropriate classes that need them (at least, we’ll attempt to). It is unlikely for players to receive more than one item from a boss. But it is entirely possible for players to receive multiple items in one run. We cannot control what items a boss drops. The last thing we want to do is shard a piece.

Set bonuses: With certain classes, some T7.5 bonuses are just plain awesome to have. If you have an odd number of set pieces (like 1 or 3 set pieces), we want nothing more than to help activate them.

Self improvement and teamwork

The main tanks in the guild are able to talk amongst themselves and figure out who needs upgrades over the other first. They do this purely through communication and cooperation by figuring out their weaknesses and identifying the items that benefit them the most. When tank items drop, they are able to compromise.

I encourage other players to do the same with the other classes or other players wearing similar armor types. As an example, I try to work with the other Priest and clothies to see who can benefit more.

90% of loot drops is handled informally among our members. They all take turns passing and are aware who can benefit items the most. It’s the 10% where loot council has to step in and make a decision. The trend here is that it ends up mostly being trinkets, rings, or weapons.

* Note: Anyone is free to take this post and modify or use accordingly for their own guild. Yes, you have permission. Don’t have to email and ask.

Loot Council and You: One Player’s Take On Loot Council and Casual Raiding

froggy

This is a guest post from @katagirl, Matt’s fellow guildie and a WoW Twitterati

Since this blog has its fair share of priests and druid posters – I thought it was high time for a Paladin to step up and give her two cents. There’s been a lot of discussion about the way the Loot Council structure is set up, and I wanted to share my take on it.

My story

My name is Kata, and I’ve been playing WoW for about two and a half years. I’m currently in Conquest, being known as “Queen Pally” or “hey, you’re on Rez Duty…” depending on the day.

Up until WotLK came out, I was part of a few very casual raiding guilds. It was first come, first serve to raid signups, very relaxed hours and atmospheres and don’t even get me started on Ventrilo during raids on Lurker. You’d need pain meds just to log in. I popped around a bit, even launched my own guild for a while that never got to raiding (that’s another saga completely). When Matticus started pitching Conquest, I chimed in pretty quick with ideas and feedback through Twitter and got a good dialogue going. I transferred in and the rest is history.

Anyways, back to loot distribution. I’ve raided with guilds that both use the standard /roll with a Master Looter, and with some version of DKP/ EPGP. Conquest was my first experience with a Loot Council, and to be honest I was a bit hesitant. I was spending money to transfer servers to put myself at the mercy of leadership that mostly knew each other. There was nothing keeping them from looting everything to each other based on their friendships in times previous.

I transferred and began the arduous grind to 80. The first official week’s raid schedule I sat out on, gearing up and watching all these strangers get boss loot. I’ve now been raiding with Conquest for a full month.

I really don’t write this kind of thing, so forgive me if I tend to wax narrative.

My verdict: Our Loot Council works. I’m in a unique position as a plate-wearing healer to be able to pick up any gear. At the beginning, even cloth pieces were upgrades for me. I had interest on a lot of pieces. There were many times my major +healing upgrade would be passed over for a minor upgrade for a priest/lock/druid. But just as many times as I sat at the end of a boss fight without gear, I was rewarded with major improvements over the first few weeks. Other players occasionally even withdrew their interest if they saw it’d gear me up – and that is impressive.

Not once have I felt that there has been a partiality in the distribution of loots by the loot council. Sometimes it did take longer to distribute loot at the end of a boss fight, but it was almost always accompanied by an explanation of the decision.

One thing I expected with a loot council system would be the likelihood of raid members to complain or protest decisions. From time to time, there’s the occasional light-hearted bickering – but I have yet to experience someone throw a fit because they did not get a piece of gear. As I mentioned before, I’ve seen players pass on upgrades for others. That was always a rarity when I raided with a DKP model. The Loot Council approach seems to shift the focus from a “me, me!” attitude to a “we, together” attitude. And it seems to be working. At last research, warcrafter.net had Conquest listed as one of the top geared progression guilds on our server, and top 500 out of over 40,000 guilds in US/North America. (not to brag, or anything!)

How can the loot council work in your guild?

Matt’s posted some great guidelines that he’s used for setting up our loot council. From where I sit, the most important things are being approachable and working towards a team mentality. I know that any of our officers are willing to hear me out if I have an issue or complaint. My opinions are valued, which then in turn makes me respect my leaders. As I’ve seen in Conquest, when the focus is on the team first and individual second things work out smoothly.

Other curious raiding notes

  • Naxx music is creepy if you’re the first one in the instance and you have your speakers turned up.
  • Toy Trains need to be patched so that they cannot be dropped in an instance.
  • Of all the bosses in Naxx, Matt has the hardest time with the Frogger boss. Ask me how I got my position…

Just because I have this public forum, I thought I ought to thank two amazing Paladins that guided me on my experience – Alyeska and Xonelith, who both popped around various servers with me. Without them – I wouldn’t be raiding today. (again with the fiction-type writing with a dedication… but I couldn’t help myself). And to all the players I’ve had the honor to work with… except the few that drop toy trains in raids. YOU know who you are.

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.