Loot Systems Pros and Cons

Let's face it – even if your primary motivator in raiding
is hanging out with your friends and making progress through instances, it
feels good to get that upgrade you've been needing. And on the flipside, seeing
that upgrade you've needed for moths pass you by for the eighth time can be
frustrating. If you are finding that you and your core raiders are having more
of the latter feelings than the former, it may be time to re-evaluate what loot
system would be the best fit for your raid team.   In roughly the order of complexity and officer
intervention, the most prevalent options are: 

  •     /roll
  •     Suicide Kings (SK)
  •     DKP
  •     Loot Council

I have not included the pure wish list option despite it
having been one of the most successful loot distribution systems I've
participated in. My 40-man guild used it for BWL and AQ. We consistently had
the same 40 people week-in and week-out. And after some officer abuse, locked
down the ability to change one's wish list. The maintenance of the wish list
Excel spreadsheet was onerous and time consuming. And bringing in new people as
a guild is midway through progression in an instance could results in a lack of
parity in loot distribution.

Full discussion after the jump.

/roll 

A small Master Looter enabled step up from using the
in-game need/greed system for loot distribution. This system seemed to rise in
popularity at the end of Burning Crusade when Kara PUGs/alt runs became an
every day occurrence. All players interested in an item /roll 100. The Master
Looter gives the item to the highest roller. Overall, works best if you truly
have a casual guild, and an ever-changing raider base. 

VARIATIONS:
Some – but not all-raids using this method limit players
to 1 main spec and 1 off spec item per raid. Off spec rolls are sometimes done
as a /roll 200. 

PROS:
Your casual raiders who can only come to raids
every one in a while appreciate having the opportunity to roll on any item that
catches their eye in the raid. Everyone has the same random chance at obtaining
drops. Can quickly gear up new raiders. Limits officer responsibilities to just
handing out items to high rollers. 

CONS:
Your core raiders who come every week may
consistently lose out on items by having to roll against a revolving group of
new folks who need everything week-after-week. Inability for those core raiders
to gear up can hinder progress. Debate over whether or not it is fair for
someone in their first raid to get an end boss drop over a core raider can set
your guild forums aflame for days. 

Suicide Kings (SK) 

Mod-based round robin style loot distribution system.
Everyone /rolls for their spot on the list. Top person has first dibs on any
loot that drops, and so on down the list. If you take an item, you move to the
bottom of the list and all other persons in attendance in that evening's raid
moves up the list. Anyone not in the raid stays in their same spot. Works best
for casual guilds or alliances that have a fairly set group of players. 

VARIATIONS:

  •  If a raider does not participate for 4-6 weeks, they are dropped to
    the bottom of the list. This is referred to as "decay" and keeps
    players from returning from an extended absence and taking loot from
    progression bosses they did not help make their way to.
  •  Some guilds separate the tier gear from non tier gear lists to keep
    players from passing by non-tier upgrades.
  •  If working on multiple instances at one time, can create additional
    lists for each instance as well, thus keeping someone who has only done farm
    content from walking off with BiS pieces over the regular raiders for that
    progression instance.

PROS:
Turn-based loot distribution. List tends to turn over
rapidly. Since it's mod-based, the officers do not have much manual management
to do. Can post the list to your forums or other players may synch up the mod
with you to additionally keep track of where they are. 

CONS:
If the person administering who got what is not careful,
you can accidentally shift players down the list who should not have been
moved. Players may pass by upgrades because they are holding onto their spot
for a coveted item. Players can come back from several months absence and grab
a key item (like your first tier chest from an instance), leaving your active
core raid team fuming. Excessive bottom feeding can become the norm, with a
recently "suicided" person taking home an entire night's category of
loot. 

DKP 

Dragon Kill Points, known commonly as DKP, assigns points
for showing up on time, downing bosses, and working on progression attempts.
these points are then used to bid on items that drop. Can be partially
automated through a variety of mods.

VARIATIONS:

  • Zero-sum DKP with all items that drop having a set price
    you must pay to buy them.
  • Half-DKP with any item you want costing half your total
    DKP. This rewards frequent raiders while still making it possible for a new to
    the raid payer to obtain items their first night.

PROS:
Your core raiding group will not lose out on items to
first-timer raiders. Concrete connection between amount of time given to the
raid and the possible rewards. Can help stem the grabbiness of items people are unlikely to use.

CONS:
New raiders may feel as though they will have to spend
months raiding before obtaining any items. If you don't have decay or reset DKP on new instances, returning raiders can walk off with your best progression upgrades.

Loot Council

Possibly the most personally subjective and
player-intensive method of loot distribution, Loot Council relies upon a
pre-set group of people, typically officers, to decide whom should receive each
drop. Many folks absolutely love this setup, while others would prefer to chew
on glass than to be a part of this system.

VARIATIONS:
May be combined with a wish list wherein the players
indicate their Best-in-Slot or most wanted items from the instance.

PROS:
If items are awarded based on appropriateness for the
class and degree to which it is an upgrade, the raid team should be improving
as a whole, and there should not be much wasted gear.

CONS:
May reward players who haven't spent as much time gearing
up over players who come every week and have worked on
crafting/heroic/badge/reputation gear. Can be hard for officers to be objective
– or be perceived as being objective — when assessing who should receive an
item. See also the many LJ posts RE: "The RL's GF got every item that
dropped in our raid last night."

For Further Reading:

None of the DKP systems are perfect– I know there must be more hybrid systems out there and hope to hear from folks on what they're using.

13 thoughts on “Loot Systems Pros and Cons”

  1. I know that /roll is easy and all, but it gets to be incredibly annoying when you come to a raid every week, for months, and need 1 specific item that you keep having to /roll for against new toons each time. IT’S MADDENING!!!

  2. I am not sure if it is worse to keep losing rolls on the primary upgrade you want or if it is worse to keep losing it to folks for whom it is a sidegrade. Actually, I suppose both scenarios just suck regardless.
    🙂

  3. My old guild used a system that the Raid-Leader named the “Raid Attendance Points” or RAP system.
    It worked similarly to DKP and the like where you got X number of points for showing up, being prepared. Another Y number of points for staying through to completion. But no additional points were awarded for boss-kills. The guild focused more on attendance and participation than boss-kills.
    If you turned up and there was no spot, you still got points for attending as you were there and available. Just because you didn’t get in on a raid doesn’t mean you should get nothing.
    Of course progression still mattered, if you didn’t turn up after signing up for a raid and gave no notice about not attending you were subtracted points.
    So as I said, *very* similar to a lot of DKP systems, just a bit more focused on attendance & staying through rather than boss-kills.
    -Brunty

  4. My guild on ZJ used Loot Council it worked well. Thankfully, we didn’t seem to have any loot drama. The loot Council was fair and didn’t seem to play favorites. Although I had the opportunity to get gear there were a few times I would pass on sidegrades if it was a better upgrade for someone who could wear it too. I would tell the officer, no not an upgrade I just snagged X from here, player Y would have better use from this than my priest. Other members would do the same thing. Regarding gear that screamed Holy Priest! I would take if it was a significant upgrade. At the time I was the only H Priest. 🙂 There were a few times when some of the gear weren’t upgrades since Holi’s crafted gear, or Heroic gear was better.
    I agree, it feels great to get new gear even if your main reason is to run with your buddies. That’s my main reason but it’s nice to down tough bosses too. That being said, I’ve always made sure my toons were ready to run a particular heroic/raid before actually signing up (at times that involves improving gear, other times it can mean getting comfortable with a certain spec/rotation) since I didn’t want my guildmates to think I wanted to be carried. Trust me, I don’t. 🙂
    To address, the issue of guildies who didn’t run things as much rolling on items that regular raiders could use. Our guild had two different types of runs. The first type was progression raids. The regular raiders had 1st pick. They second type also were ‘alt raids’ which gave those who didn’t have a chance to raid an opportunity to get some gear too.

  5. My Guild on M’G uses item based min-bid DKP. For each point spent on loot, those points are redistributed back to each person in the guild. There are no points for boss kills or being on time. There are minimum bids for each item slot (so rings start at 25, but chests start at 75, eg.) Bidding is public, and everyone’s DKP history is posted on our website. Patterns are /roll for people with maxed professions. Offspec items are /roll if no one wants the item main spec, no DKP. We use /roll & DBAD* in 10 mans, which are unofficial. Our Legendary shards were loot counciled and each one costs the designated recipient 25 DKP.
    It works well for us, but my guild is low-drama, high-commitment, low-lootwhore. I suspect any loot system would work okay here. People will fairly regularly pass an item that they could have won, or drop out of the bidding early, if an item is a massive upgrade to their competition. DBAD is my favorite loot rule.
    It does mean that your first new tier with the guild,you will be behind the gear curve. This does not bother me, as my guild sees joining as a long term investment of time. I know I will get T9 and it’s fine if I get T9 a month after our GM who’s been with the guild 3 years. With no decay, our paladin tank has an obscene amount of DKP saved. Does this really bug me? Nope. Could it? Sure.
    The other disadvantage is that low-popularity class items go for less than high popularity items used by many classes. Our rogues end up PIMPED and our clothies fight tooth and nail for upgrades. Those cloth boots from FL4? BiS for mages, warlocks, priests, caster druids, and, bizarrely, Elemental shamans. That’s 52% of our raiders for which they’re BiS for at least one spec.
    *Don’t Be A Dick

  6. The other downside is that there’s no DKP for wiping all night. Some people might find that discouraging, especially if your guild has issues where some raiders only like to come when instances are on farm. This is not a problem in our situation, plus even progression in Wrath means there are rarely nights when we don’t kill at least SOMETHING. (They do happen though. Hi, 3 straight hours of getting pwnt by Steelbreaker.)

  7. Christ, I am talking to myself.
    I take that back – there’s a guild pool where points will be awarded for things like learning nights where no bosses are killed, or if someone swaps out with another raider for bosses that drop loot/achievements player 2 needs but player 1 does not. I don’t know how set in stone this system is, the details aren’t public knowledge.

  8. I like loot systems that reward for courtesy (showing up when you are alted) and willingness to participate in progression work. And I think it is equally important for there to be penalties for the frequent flakers.

  9. I like to hear that there are folks who think of the raid as a whole and not just “Can I equip it?” Sometimes, it feels like there is so much more of the latter around…
    I also like the idea of alt raids versus progression raids. Unless of course you are being begged to bring your alt shaman to runs to heal due to a dirth of healers, for instance. *cough*

  10. DBAD is a rule we all should live by, IRL and in WoW.
    I think a key to progressing through content as a raid team is that long-term commitment that your raid members demonstrate. If you have too many folks who are not thinking past what they can scoop up for themselves tonight, versus what is good for the raid as a whole, you end up struggling longer term. Too easy for some folks to forget that a raid is made possible by 10 or 25 people working on concert — not just by their awesomeness.
    In my vanilla raiding guild, there was an expectation of “professionalism” – not to be a jerk or a loot whore. When we had an officer who twice in one week broke that code, we instituted a wish list and pretty much banished all loot drama from the guild. And we named an award for idiotic behavior in raids after his main toon. Mwahahaha.

  11. I think the lack of rewards for wipe nights is more of an issue when you have exponentially more folks per raid slot than you have raid slots. It sucks if your one night per week is the wipe night. Personally though, I have had a lot of weeks where I was on progression nights only, but I find it personally rewarding to be in those boss first-kill groups. That sense of accomplishment (and the adrenaline rush) are worth it to me (as I know they are to you as well.)

  12. I’ve been meaning to comment on this for a long time. I’ve been in probably every kind of loot guild rules system there is, except for a loot council.
    Additive DKP – My longtime vanilla raid guild used a pretty standard dkp system. 3 points for a boss kill, 1 point for showing up on time, 1 point for staying the whole raid, 6 points for a progression kill, and would randomly give out points for things that the officers felt needed it. We would bid in a blind bid system to the loot officer and that was it. Simple, fair, and I really liked it.
    Zero-Sum DKP – I’ve been in two of these kinds of systems. One I liked, one I hated. The one I liked was truely zero-sum. When the raiding started, everyone started with 20 dkp. New raiders got nothing and had to earn the dkp. When a mob was killed and loot dropped it was bid on, the dkp was split evenly between the 40 raiders, and there was nothing extra added into the system.
    I’ve also been in a system where everyone is given 24 dkp when they join a raid force. DKP is accumulated when people bid on items. Everything cost 24 points, and the person with the most points got whatever item they wanted. I personally hated this system. I felt it unfairly penalized more causal raiders because you could never build up enough dkp to actually compete with a college student who made 5 raids a week. Also, if you didn’t have 24 dkp, ie the loot was defaulted to you, the raid bank, which got an “extra” dkp point from each loot drop, would make up the difference, so really there wasn’t a set amount of points in the system, and it got all weird.
    And finally /roll. This is what I’m in now, and I have mixed feelings about it. I have just as fair of a shot at gear as anyone else in the raid, but someone who raids once every 3 months can come in and take an amazing upgrade from me, so I see it’s downpoints as well.

  13. Thanks for sharing details about the DKP systems you’ve been involved with. Overall, if implemented fairly, it feels like it has the most chance of feeling fair to folks who are regular raiders. I understand wanting to give folks who don’t get to raid very often a shot at items too, since they do of course help make the raid a success, losing out endlessly on items due to a /roll system makes one bitter after a bit.
    😉

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