Thursday, December 4, 2008

Loot Council - seeing both sides

Conquest uses Loot Council for distributing the wonderful shinies that drop during raids.

Read over the GM's description of the guild, and also one of the Council member's reflections on our first raid if you're so inclined to get some background.

To sum up: Loot Council distributes the wealth to benefit the raid the most. Loot is also used as a reward for all the nice behaviors we like in our raiders such as timeliness, lack of inappropriate afk-ism, proper gear care taking, using consumables, etc. When epics drop, members indicate a preference, and then the Council takes a moment to deliberate and then reward the loot.

The only system I've ever used in the past was a random roll, so I don't have a huge experience to compare and contrast with, but just like everyone else, I've got my opinions, solid foundation or no.

So, what's life like with the Loot Council?

First, some disclaimage is needed. Any praise for the LC that follows shall not be construed as asskissery in an effort to get more loot. I highly doubt any Council members read here, because they're all pretty busy planning our next kills. Secondly, any praise for LC has nothing to do with the fact that I've gotten a sweet sweet upgrade on both of our first two raids.

Some things I like:

1) Expectations. The LC made it clear a week before our first raid...if you want shiny, you need to do your homework. Each raider had to put together a loot wishlist for all of Naxx-25 and OS-25. Anything that encourages preparation is a good idea in my book.

2) Speed. Based upon the pre-work for the wishlist, looting moves very quickly. Once the loot master links an item, you've got 5 seconds to indicate your preference. Indicating preference is a no brainer since you already examined the loot tables and recorded your thoughts. If you deliver your preference even a split second after the end of the countdown, sorry charlie, no soup for you. I'm a big fan of remaining focused and efficient through these administrative parts of the raid.

3) Tension. When a bunch of people all indicate "interested" on the same piece of loot, the Council takes a moment to discuss on a private channel. The raid sits and silently waits, with all the interested folks holding their breath. When the Loot Master announces the decision, its like the Academy Awards or something. Win or lose, I find it much more fun than a random roll.

4) Meaningful. If you are the person who gets the loot, it means the Council considered all the team members, and thought you to be the most deserving. Feels much better than the cold impersonal RNG. However, there is an alternative interpretation, which I'll explore below.

5) Beneficial. Our tanks have generally gotten a slightly larger share of the loot than the other raiders. This is a good thing, since the raid lives and dies by their survivability. I'll gladly go loot-free in favor of our tanks.

6) Trust. This one is a slippery slope, but to me, its fundamental to the style of raid we run. The Council needs to build up the trust of the membership. This takes time, but if executed well, a fair and efficient Loot Council will cement the trust that the whole raid has in the leaders. If executed poorly, its open for lots of drama, but only time will tell.

7) Less Waste. In random roll or DKP systems, players can choose to skip on some upgrades because they're waiting for a Tier drop that may or may not drop later that same night, resulting in raid-benefiting loot getting sharded. LC should protect from most of this type of behavior.

Since the top section was labeled "Some things I like", it'd be natural to call this "Some things I dislike" or some other antonym. Not so much, because I really have nothing I dislike about LC yet. So lets call it...

Some things I'm weary of:

1) Weakest Link Syndrome. This one hits home with me right now. I'm pretty damn near the weakest DPS link. The rest of the team has devoted much more time into gearing up at 80 than I've been able to do. In addition to gear, there is also personal performance and skill. The other DPS'ers in the raid are Michael Phelps versus my doggy paddle.

However, I've been rewarded with loot on each of the first two nights. The first night, it was largely uncontested since the other two players who could use the item both passed. The second night, 7 players expressed interest in the item, and after a slightly longer than normal deliberation period, I was given the gear.

On the one hand, I'm honored to get the prize, if you look at it from the perspective of loot as a reward for good raider behaviors. Also, being on a totally new server, with no friends yet, and not really having carved out a niche as an underperforming DPS'er in a guild of min/maxers yet, its is a reassuring sign that the leaders want to invest in you.

On the other hand, from the perspective of benefit to the raid, one could interpret this as the Council saying you're the weakest link. When coupled with WWS data that reinforces the message, a fragile ego like mine might have to go on a bender and drink heavily for a little bit.

I just hope that over time, the Council balances things out, because I'd hate to have my teammates feel like they work harder outside of raids, and that means that they get less rewards during raids. I'm not a big fan of being a weak link.

2) Fairness. This is not what you think. I'm not really weary of the Council being unfair and giving loot to themselves or to their clique within the guild. I'm actually going the other way. I hope that Council members get their fair share of loot. I hope that they dont err too far in the direction of giving loot to other people, so as to avoid being perceived as loot whores.

So that's all I've got. Meantime, I'm off to hit some Heroics to make the Council's decision a little harder when they choose to reward me some loot.

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