2 PuG Raid Loot Systems: Performance Based vs Tichon System

I’ve had my heart broken again. You see, I was chasing after this cloak on my Elemental Shaman (yes I DPS too). It only drops from Sartharion with his 2 lackeys up. We were supposed to be together. After the buffs were set out and the strategy explained, we entered the fray. Sarth was pulled and positioned in the corner. Moments later, Tenebron landed. One of the tanks picked him up and corralled him in the back. It was like a synchronized swimming performance. Everyone moved in unison. Every fire wall was dodged. Every void zone, avoided.

Except for one player.

He fell to a void zone early on and swore he wasn’t standing in it. Obviously the results spoke for themselves.

It was a Paladin.

I thought nothing of it. Slowly but surely, the synchronized swimming team started to lose focus. One by one, players drowned in the sea of mobs, walls or voids. The remaining few pressed on. The first drake died. Vesperon landed. He, too, fell at the cost of a healer and 2 hunters.

When the smoke cleared and the dust settled, there were 10 players remaining. The island was littered with corpses. Slowly but surely they were brought back into the land of the living.

The loot was linked. Sure enough, my beloved cloak had dropped.

As it was being rolled off, I rolled an 86. I held my breath. Would it hold?

A 73,
A 81,
A 26,
A 35

Until I saw a 95.

My heart stopped and I stared. The same Paladin who was our first casualty won the cloak.

I was crushed. I bowed my head, accepted my fate and hearthed.

Performance System

If I were to devise my own loot rules for an encounter with multiple difficulty levels, I’d impose a set of conditions.

Just because a player has the achievement doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a good player. While they are a useful tool in filtering out really standout players (who wouldn’t want to invite an Immortal?), achievements only say so much.

So let’s go back to our OS 2 drake example here.

When you link to me your 2 drake achievement, what does that tell me? It tells me that you’ve successfully done the fight. You’re aware of the fire walls. You know about the void zones. You know about the elementals and the mini-drakes. In theory, you should be to avoid those hazards.

What about a tiered reward system?

Let’s say we start out with a free roll system with main specs. If Pennant cloak drops, the casters can go after it. If Obsidian Greathelm drops, all the plate wearing DPS ground pounders can square off for it.

Here’s where we make it interesting and this is where its put up or shut up time.

If you die to a void zone, a firewall, or something else that’s easily avoidable, you forfeit the right to roll the bonus item. You can still take a crack at the tier tokens or whatever the base level items are.

In theory, this should be an incentive for experienced players to become even more extra careful. It emphasizes a lot more on player survivability then DPS since there are no DPS conditions attached.

It would be more challenging to model it into a Naxx pug. But you know, I do get tired of seeing “undeserving” players getting items they should have no business wearing. Is that elitist of me?

Yeah, it is. I’ve got no problems with players getting the best items in the game if they’ve proven that they deserve it. Dying in a fight, and AFKing only to come back and win a roll after every other player alive finished off the encounter does not prove to me that they deserve it. I find that insulting.

But that’s just my take on it. Obviously the downside to this system is that you might not get any players at all in your pickup raid when they find out the conditions attached to it.

Tichon System

This is a slight departure from above. It’s designed to be much quicker in the handling of loot and addresses the main spec/off spec delays. It’s got nothing to do with the performance aspect. In most raids I’ve been a part of, the loot master typically handles an item in a way similar to this:

MAIN SPEC ROLLS

5
4
3
2
1

OFF SPEC ROLLS

5
4
3
2
1

BEG ROLL (anyone)

5
4
*insert 25 different rolls here*
2
1

That usually lasts around 20 to 30 seconds.

So what’s the Tichon system?

I was introduced to this a while ago when I was messing around on the Tichondrius server. Basically the loot rules are even easier then above. It goes something like this:

LOOT RULES

Main spec rolls 1-1000
Off spec rolls 1-100

That’s it.

No questions. What’s done is done. Everything is settled quickly and efficiently. Loot drama only flares up if players allow it. Everyone gets a shot at loot. Off spec players have a 10% chance of winning (I think). The players who need it more (the main spec players) have a higher chance of getting it but for players who the items are off spec still have a shot at also getting it.

But here’s the thing about pug loot drama

I’m of the opinion that the raid leader explains what the loot rules are before players zone in. The moment a player zones in and gets saved to a raid (after a boss kill), then players forfeit their right to complain about the system. By joining the raid and getting saved, there’s an implied agreement somewhere that they will respect the rules and accept whatever the loot gods say without question. But once the loot rules have been explained, its up to the player to decide whether they should stay or to leave.

Obviously if the loot master loots an item to a different player then the winner, then all bets are off.

Anyway, this is just something to mull over the next time you lead a pickup raid. It’s simple, clean and easy to administer.

10 Seconds with Sartharion 3 Drakes

I’m the type of player that likes to relentlessly playback previous events (or wipes) in my head. I try to see if there’s anything I can do better from my perspective or anything I should have done differently. Here’s a 10 second mentally recalled highlight reel moment of a time that happened all too often.

We run a 6 healer setup and I’m the only one on the Sarth tank.

0:00

Vent call: Firewall, move!

*Casts Shield, Renew, and dives narrowly avoiding a wall*

0:02

Vent call: Vesperon landing!

*Casts Penance*

0:04

Sarth tank: I have the debuff!

*Casts Flash Heal*

0:06

*Casts another Flash Heal*

0:08

His attack animation stopped and he’s raising his head.

WAIT! HIS HEAD IS RAIS-!

0:10

Sarth tank: I’m down!

Reflections

Thankfully, that was just earlier on in the night. After I settled in more and got into the groove, I was able to get my timing down perfectly. The problem with me was that I ended up being off in my timing.

The timing was off enough to get our tank 1 shot.

But I managed to fix it. I figured that I was zoomed in too close on my character that I had to adjust my camera more to keep my sights on Sarth. That took up precious time and added increased risk.

I managed to solve it by maxing out my camera distance so that no matter where I ran, I’d still be able to keep an eye on his head.

FYI

I use his head as an indicator for when he’s about to breathe. When he tilts back, that’s the time to use the Pain Suppression.

What’s killing us

We lose 1 or 2 people to void zones in the beginning or to a Firewall. There is a bit of inconsistency. Some attempts, the raid group is able to blast through the first drake with no problem. In other cases, people are just getting sloppy or we have bad lag luck (like a player dying to a void even though they’re 15 yards away from it).

The second problem occurs when the third drake lands. Players are killing themselves. Going to see if that can be fixed by having Paladins “tactically bubble” at certain times to lessen the overall raid damage with that Shield talent thingy.

As for me, the 10 attempts where the raid lived long enough for Vesperon to touch down, I was able to squeeze off Pain Suppression fast enough for 7 of them.

That’s a 70% save percentage.

Not good enough Matt. Not good enough.

5 Mistaken Beliefs of Raiding Guilds

5 Mistaken Beliefs of Raiding Guilds

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The comments from Wednesday’s post drew a consensus where everyone called for a Gkick. As some readers observed, it’s not exactly going to win the Emmy for Best Drama of the year.

On the other hand, the fact that a Paladin on break is the best I can offer in terms of drama should say something about myself and the organization.

Please understand that I wrote that post to inform and let readers know that no guild is impervious. I did this to inform. I didn’t mean for it to come out as a rant (because there’s far worse things in life then a Paladin leaving).

I’m not going to remove him. I’ll let him stick around in the guild. On the flip side, it doesn’t mean he’s going to get the start when the 2 raiding instances come out. He’ll have to earn his stripes.

Belief 1: Your GM Owns You

Wrong. I don’t own my players. They recognize that they’re all technically free agents. They didn’t sign a multi-year contract to raid. I’ll elaborate on this in the next point. But there is nothing to prevent people from walking away.

All I can say is this. If you don’t want to clear out Heroic Naxx, OS with 2 Drakes, Malygos, and Vault of Archavon within 6 hours, then you don’t want to be in this guild.

It’s all about incentives.

And if a player doesn’t want to do that, I’m damn sure I can find someone who’s willing. When a player’s goal differs from a guild’s goal, no amount of incentives will win them back.

Belief 2: It’s a One Way Street

The relationship between a guild and a member is a symbiotic relationship. It works both ways. The guild serves the individual by providing them with a home, discounted prices on materials, and a supply of other likeminded people to do 5 mans or heroics.

On the other hand, the individual serves the guild by being present for raids, investing their time and money into raids, and just being there.

Belief 3: Your Excuses Mean Something

Whether a player wants to leave because of burnout or they have exams or their wife is pregnant is irrelevant. I realize this sounds quite harsh. But the reality is, no matter what the reason, I’m still going to have an empty hole in my roster for a period of time that has to be filled. I can’t be expected to wait around for 4 months for a player to come back. I’m not going to raid short handed with 24.

Whether a hockey goalie injures his groin, breaks a leg, or has to deal with family issues is important. But the team’s general manager still has to go out and make a trade for a goalie or promote one from the minors because the team needs one.

No matter how you slice it, it all leads to the same result. In this case, it is a net loss of one player for a few months.

Belief 4: Your Spot is Guaranteed

Sorry, that’s not the case here. If a player doesn’t perform, they get replaced. If a player isn’t here to perform, they have to be replaced anyway.

The difference between a Paladin who leaves and one who stays with the rest of us?

It proves to me that they’re willing to stick around and dedicate themselves. Those are the type of troopers I want.

Readers, understand that we’re all expendable to an extent. It’s going to be easier to replace a healer because there are 4 different healer classes to choose from.

But it will be much more difficult to replace the guy who tirelessly draws out maps, sets up strategy and organizes the kill method on a weekly basis.

The hint here is to be be valuable as much as possible. In the end, the Paladin I lost is just one Paladin. They’re a dime a dozen.

My guild is in a good bargaining position right now since we’re ahead of the raiding curve (also coming soon). Finding people isn’t the problem especially when I’m not terribly concerned with a player’s gear level. When I started Conquest, I didn’t have a reputation. I’ll elaborate more on this later.

Belief 5: Gear Makes You Important

I can see this being true to an extent. But in my years of raiding, I’ve learned something. I’m going to refer to this concept as the 30% rule.

30% of loot will be wasted

This factors in upgrades, players leaving, and off spec items. Inversely, this means that 70% of loot awarded will actually be used for raiding and be effective for guild progression. It’s just the way of guilds.

While I may invest a large proportion of gear into players, I know that gear alone isn’t going to win me any favours. But progression will.

We say stuff all the time about guilds rewarding players or just gearing them up for whatever reason. But the reality is that every instance has a “minimum standard of gear” before it can be completed successfully. What the standard is will deviate from guild to guild.

I wrote my recommended requirements for Naxx last week. Note how the comments vary. Some agreeing and some disagreeing. Your guild’s “sweet spot” will differ from mine.

Another example would be Brutallus. A raid DPS of 20420 (post nerf) is required to kill him within enraged timers (another post entirely). Once you reach that threshold, you’re gold.

Reflections

If a player is going to burn out after only 6 hours of raiding a week, then this guild is not for them. What’s going to happen when the second tier of raiding instances are released? How will they handle the wear and tear of progression raiding where we commit ourselves to 12 hours a week?

To me, these early farm raids are a dress rehearsal. If we compare raiding to a season of sports, then Naxx, OS, and Malygos is just pre-season for me.

Remember that when I formed this guild, I had nothing to go on but my name, my reputation, and my promise. I could’ve lied and said that I was a proven guild leader. But I didn’t. I managed to convince around 25 players to buy into my vision and my goals. This was a combination of people that I had raided with for a long time, readers via my blog, people on twitter, and players in trade chat. I had no way of knowing whether or not it would work. I didn’t know whether they would gel together. There was so much uncertainty when I started out.

I’d by lying to you if I said I didn’t spend every waking moment second guessing myself.

A new guild does not have it’s fair share of pickings. There’s no reason for star players of other guilds to come play under your banner. I had to build from the bottom up with all sorts of people without knowing what their motives were.

Use these “easy” raids to learn more about your guild. Find out about their strengths and weaknesses. Figure out habits and tendencies. What makes them laugh and what makes them cry.

Oh, one more thing. I want to extend a thank you to all the Paladins and healers who emailed me and sent in applications. I believe that position’s been settled for now (unless they turn out be pure crap, in which case I’ll put the call out again).

Image courtesy of barunpatro

Obsidian Sanctum with Drakes Up

Tonight Conquest is going to take a shot at Heroic Sartharion with one drake up. For those that have done it, I have a few questions to ask:

  • Which drake did you leave up and why?
  • Did Death Knights D&D (due to the visual similarity between that and void zones)?
  • How did you set up portal groups?
  • How many healers were sent down low into the portal?
  • Did Firewalls affect those in the portal?
  • Any other last minute tips or insight that you can offer?