Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Shroud Loot System

Runycat, from Unbearably HoT, has an interesting overview of her guild's loot system: Shroud Loot System. I haven't looked at a loot system in a while, and Shroud has some interesting properties that are worth examining in detail.

This is a quick overview, so I'm going to ignore off-spec loot for simplicity's sake.

Description

Shroud is a loosely-coupled DKP system. Earning DKP is pretty standard. Points are awarded for whatever the guild thinks is appropriate. Runycat's guild primarily awards points for Time Spent Raiding, but you could easily award points for Boss Kills or whatever other metric you deem appropriate.

Spending DKP is where the system gets interesting. When an item is up for distribution, a raider may choose to "shroud". Of the raiders who shroud, the one with the highest DKP gets the item and loses half her DKP. If no raiders choose to shroud, interested raiders can roll for the item. The raider with the highest roll gets the item and pays a standard fixed minimum fee.

Here's a quick example: Coriel has 500 DKP and Kent has 600 DKP. If an item drops and both raiders shroud, Kent would win and pay 300 DKP. If only Coriel shrouds, she wins the item and pays 250 DKP. If neither raider shrouds, both /random. Coriel rolls a 84 and Kent rolls 22. Coriel wins and pays 10 DKP for the item. If Kent had rolled higher, he would have paid 10 DKP for the item.

Main Insight

The main insight of Shroud is that there are three values of loot:

  1. Sexy loot - this is loot that is greatly desired. For example, Tier sets and Best-in-Slot weapons.

  2. Everyday upgrades - these are items which are upgrades, but which a raider doesn't get excited about. She''ll take it to keep it from being disenchanted, but isn't really going to care if another raider gets it instead. The majority of loot in the instance falls into this category.

  3. Unwanted items - these are items the raider doesn't want at all.

Is this valuation correct? My experiences lead me to believe that it is correct. My guild runs a pure English Bid Auction system. This is the system used by traditional auctions with multiple rounds of bidding and a fast-speaking auctioneer. Not the fastest system in the world, but items end up being sold at their true value at that point in time. What I've noticed is that loot either goes for hundreds of points or it goes for near-minimum. There's not a lot of in-between. As well, it's very few pieces--primarily Tier sets, BiS weapons, and amazing trinkets--that have the sky-high prices.

Shroud handles each of these categories of loot in a different fashion. Sexy loot is distributed in strict accordance with the point system. The person who wins that loot has the most points, end of story. Meanwhile, everyday upgrades are distributed randomly, with minimum points spent.

Advantages

Shroud has all the advantages of a traditional DKP system when it comes to the highly-prized loot. You won't get the case where someone who raids a couple days a month beats a 100% attendance raider on a Best-in-Slot weapon. That type of situation is what causes high-attendance raiders to seek out a new guild.

However, raiders of all attendance levels have equal shot at the everyday loot, which comprise the majority of the epics in an instance. This gives your more casual members a good shot at getting some loot, rather than having all of it monopolized by the high-attendance raiders.

Shroud also avoids the disadvantages of a system like Spend-All DKP or Suicide Kings in that a raider can still obtain smaller upgrades while saving for a prized item. Loot that can be used should never end up sharded with this system.

Shroud also allows raiders to determine what loot is really valuable and what is not. The choice to shroud or not remains with the raider, not the officers.

Finally, since shrouding costs 50% of your DKP, hoarding of points is discouraged and people are brought back to the rest of the group fairly quickly. There are no worries about inflation in this system.

Disadvantages

The biggest disadvantage is that the system is complex and that makes handing out loot more time-consuming. You first have to see if anyone wants to shroud. If no one does, then everyone who wants the item must roll, and you need to see who has the highest roll. The amount of complexity is probably unnecessary for a guild where the raiders have similar attendance patterns. A single-bid or fixed-cost DKP system would probably be faster and just as accurate.

The complexity increases even further when you consider off-spec loot. Should you let someone shroud on off-spec loot? Maybe, maybe not. Even without that, off-spec loot would add another round of waiting to the process.

Shroud also has the overhead and record-keeping of all DKP systems, as you have to track points as they are earned and spent.

The final disadvantage that I can see is that a raider might attempt to game the system, choosing not to shroud and betting that no one else wants to roll on the item. Then she gets upset when someone with much lower DKP wins the roll over her. While it is her fault for not shrouding, drama is rarely rational. Indeed, sometimes people get more upset when they are the ones at fault.

Conclusion

Shroud is a decent loot system for a guild with a core of high-attendance raiders filled out with a number of more casual players. It gives both types of players a shot at rewards, ensuring that neither side is treated unfairly. It avoids several pitfalls of other systems--like Suicide Kings, Pure Random, or Pure DKP--that are traditionally used by this segment of guilds.

However, the price that is paid is increased complexity. And you have to wonder if this complexity is really necessary. Shroud is really close to Pure Random, and Pure Random is so much easier to deal with. The real question a guild should ask is how likely is the situation where a low-attendance raider beats a high-attendance raider? How much will the guild care if that happens?

If the guild can handle that situation happening without drama, I think Shroud becomes unnecessary, and Pure Random becomes the system of choice. But not many guilds can actually handle that. And for a more casual guild, losing a raider who is part of the backbone of your raid team can be much more devastating to your ability to raid than losing someone is for a traditional raiding guild.

23 comments:

HP said...

What an interesting system. I like EPGP but the biggest drawback to it is that regardless of how long you have raided or your performance, it all depends on your ratio at the time of the loot drop. There is no differentiation basically between everyday loot and BIS loot.

Still, there will always be drama and loot systems are just there to try and minimize any possible reason for it.

Anonymous said...

An alternative simple system is to have a list of items for the instance which are loot council and everything else as random.

Sexy Loot (or iLvl > X) gets done by loot council.

Klepsacovic said...

Looks like it would be a great fit for my guild. Maybe I should send them a link.

It's a shame that we can't see that random rolls are surprisingly fair. Sure, everyone has the same chance when it drops, but chance to see it drop is exactly linked to frequency of attendance. However it totally ignores progression nights which may have no kills, which is a flaw it shares with basic zero-sum.

If only loot was regarded as a tool rather than a reward. Sadly, it's not really human nature to take experiences as sufficient reward, at least at the time of decision.

Kristine Ask said...

Interesting system. With a casual raidingguild it seems to be a good choice to keep people raiding and enjoying loot, regardless of intial attendance.

SimonB said...

Seems a little bit too easy to rig or play games with to me.

If I'm sitting at minimal DKP what is my incentive for not shrouding on anything I fancy?

If I'm on 20 dkp and something thats an updgrade drops, if I shroud its costing me 10dkp if I win. Now if a fellow raider also wants the item and he's sitting on 1000 dkp, he's forced to spend 500 of that if he wants the item (he has NO chance of it if I shroud, despite the fact that its costing me practically nothing.

With any DKP disparity you're basically going to end up with everyone having to shroud if they want any chance of getting an item, ergo you have a progressive taxing dkp system and high DKP individuals are very harshely treated.

Wouldn't be something I'd use.

Rohan said...

SimonB, you would win every minor piece of loot, but you would automatically lose on the major loot.

For example, let's say you have 20 DKP, and I have 500 DKP.

[Bracers of Moderate Effectiveness] drop. You shroud, I don't, you win the bracers for very little. I shrug.

[Uber-Sword of Doom] drops, both of us shroud, you have no chance of getting the sword.

If you shroud for everything, you'll win a lot of minor items, but lose on every major item. Shroud makes the assumption that is an undesirable outcome, and thus not in your best interests. So you stop shrouding in order to build up your DKP so you can actually win a major item every once in a while.

Anonymous said...

I ran SLS in my guild from T5 - T7. It is very effective and is not any more complex than any other DKP system and simpler than many.

First on bidding, we had 2 rounds of silent bidding. First round was main spec, you could bid half (shroud) or min. I sorted those bids out and annouced the winner of any half bids or those eligible to /roll for min bids. You must also implement a minimum level of points for which you are allowed to bid. If there were no main spec bids, a second round for off-spec was done exactly the same way.

To encourage people to bid half, if you bid half and no one else bids half or min, you get the item for the min bid.

We had zero drama from anyone with high points losing a min roll to someone with low points.

In my guild, min points were set at 25, min bid was 10.

Anonymous said...

As an addendum to the above. I found that SLS was NOT a close approximation to /random. Most people were not shy about bidding half on desireable items.

SLS gives the person, for whom, drops have been scarce for weeks, the ability to vacuum up those drops if they all happen to drop in the same night/week. /Random may see the paladin lose that tier piece to the priest who just picked up a decent pair of off-set cloth for the same slot the previous week.

Klepsacovic said...

@SimonB: The high DKP person used to be the 20 DKP person. He didn't get there just through attendance: he also skipped on a lot of shrouding. If items cost more for him, it's because he chose to accept a higher cost in order to dramatically increase his chances of winning particular items.

SimonB said...

I do take the points.

I I think this system works best when your raid group is well progressed and there is only really 2 or 3 items in a dungeon that you need and so would be happy to shroud on.

However for guilds that are just starting to run Uldar for example, everything that drops for your class is essentially going to be an upgrade and I think thats where the potential for problems comes in. WOW upgrades are incremental - you shouldn't be going from BiS Naxx to Bis Ulduar as a matter of course.

If I was to use this system I think I would introduce a minimum bid amount if your shrouding. ie, if you want to shroud on an item you need to have at least XXX dkp accumulated in order to do it. If you dont have this, you can't shroud. You could weight the minimum amounts by the classes of item you have already suggested.

eg,

Sexy loot 200dkp
trinkets/rings/necklaces 100dkp
All else 50dkp

This would mean that the sexy loot will still go to the highest dkp individual who choses to shroud (as it should), however it will also mean that if another upgrade (but smaller) drops the experienced raiders can still have a chance of getting it without having to blow half their dkp to fend off the new guy who just accumulated his first dkp point.

Otherwise I think you run the risk of your most regular raiders having to pass (not shroud) on numerous pieces of good loot to be able to get BiS which isn't good for your raiding group

Paldasan said...

@ SimonB If your best players are dkp hogging for BIS then the RL should really be having a chat to them about disadvantaging the raid. a good team player shouldn't be ignoring a reasonable upgrade to wait for a BIS that might be 4-5 weeks away at best. they'd be increasing the time it takes to get there because they aren't aiming to optimise themselves as much as practicable for the content they are doing right now.

SimonB said...

Imagine going into a shop and being told that if you want to buy a painting you like it will cost you $1000, half of what you earn in a month. However, if you refuse to pay, they are going to sell it to your mate for £100 because he earns significantly less than you, which he is more than happy to pay. There is no option for you to offer £101. That is basically what this system does.

I guess its just a point of view difference. To my mind, if player A has 500 dkp and player B 10 dkp and both want an item, he should be able to guarantee himself it by paying 15 dkp rather than 250. Ie, a fairly traditional dkp system.

Player B will get the item in time, either when everyone with higher DKP has it, or when they have saved up enough themselves to be competitive on the bidding. Thats only fair, the high dkp players have paid their dues and put the effort and, frankly, deserve the upgrades more and shouldn't have to pay disproportionately for them.

Klepsacovic said...

SimonB said...

Imagine going into a shop and being told that if you want to buy a painting you like it will cost you $1000, half of what you earn in a month. However, if you refuse to pay, they are going to sell it to your mate for £100 because he earns significantly less than you, which he is more than happy to pay. There is no option for you to offer £101. That is basically what this system does.

That's not at all what it does. You keep saying earning while ignoring spending. It's looking at more of a ratio of spending and earning. If you earn a lot, it encourages you to spend a lot. The goal is to discourage hoarding rather than to punish high incomes.

Carlath said...

I think it's a decent loot system; a minimum point cost to shroud would probably eliminate the exploit of repeated 10-point abuse by a new raider.

I do think that, regardless of what point system you use, the raid environment right now strongly encourages players to 'hoard' points, because the 'OMG must have' items are few and far between.

Let's take Tier pieces as an example. Yes, T8.25 4pc is a major upgrade for a lot of us. But, if you're seeing the Keepers, tokens drop reliably, every week. You can get pieces off Emalon. You can buy at least a couple of slots with badges, even. Even if they're BiS, you'll get enough chances at T8 pieces that going all-out to get one *tonight* is a bad idea.

A lot of offset items are the same way; good upgrades may drop from several bosses, or there may be BoE/badge/crafted gear that's a major upgrade. If you have badges lying around, and your BiS belt can be bought with six runed orbs, why burn half your points on that slot?

It looks like the 'sexy' loot is going to be those few hot items that are rare drops, possibly from the hard mode your guild managed *once*. That's an incentive to keep a pile of points, so that you can pounce if/when one of those goodies shows up.

SimonB said...

Klepsacovic said:
"That's not at all what it does. You keep saying earning while ignoring spending. It's looking at more of a ratio of spending and earning. If you earn a lot, it encourages you to spend a lot. The goal is to discourage hoarding rather than to punish high incomes."

I am not ignoring spending whatsoever and with respect, your response doesn't address or counter my example at all apart from to say that its "wrong".

I am still waiting for a convincing argument as to why someone with a hard-earned 1000 dkp being forced to pay 500 dkp to guarantee himself an upgrade if someone with 10 dkp also chooses to shroud is not penalising high earners.

And with respect to hoarding, if your DKP is halves every time you shroud and win, you are more likely to pass on upgrades whilst holding out for the big prize - If I only really need one major upgrade in a dungeon and several minor ones I'm going to be holding onto my dkp indefinietely until the big upgrade drops. How exactly is this eliminating hoarding? This is also the problem with things like suicide kings where people sit at the top of list indefinetely waiting for eyes of ragnoros, warglaives, or whatever to drop.

If you look at the two points together, you will see that yes, you can get the BiS items over lower dkp indiviuals but only if you are prepared to sit on your dkp and pass on everything else.

Gravity said...

Thanks for this post, I'd not heard of this system before. Something definitely I'd like to write more about.

I also like EPGP as "HP" said earlier, but hadn't thought of the drawback he mentioned.

Dulin said...

Simon:

You're completely right, and completely wrong. :)

Yes, the Shroud system can lead to point-hoarding in order to guarantee that one drop you really really really want... or it can lead to everyone shrouding as often as they can to get all of the items they want.

It can do both at the very same time, and that seems to be the point of it.

The person who only wants one item? He can hoard his points. He can get that surety of that one item. The person who doesn't have one big-ticket item they're after can gear up relatively quickly (it does, after all, depend on the other 8-23 people in the raid, not just those 2, and Blizzard's RNG).

The real crux of it is: You decide if this upgrade is worth it. This item has dropped. Weigh that against the potential for another item dropping. Decide just how much you want it. If you don't want it enough to drop half your points, don't. Maybe nobody else does, either, and it'll go to the lower-cost roll-off.

Dulin said...

Just as an addendum, Simon, I've watched the Shroud system in operation since the beginning of BC, with a single points pool (well, two, one for 10-man, one for 25) governing the interaction between over 1,000 players (points per character, mind you) - it's a surprisingly robust system, and any inequities get ironed out over time. If you wanna get impressions straight from the raiders, head over to leftoversraiding.org and ask 'em.

Remember, that 1000 point 'high earner'? He's not.

He's earning points at exactly the same rate everyone else is. He's been passing on upgrades long enough to get those 1000 points. IOW, he's been refusing to upgrade his raid performance with drops in order to guarantee priority on a specific drop - in our system, you earn about 10 points a raid, the same as the minimim cost bid, and the same as the minimum points you need to shroud.

So tell me, the guy hasn't improved his raid performance in 100 raids, why the folks he's raiding with be rewarding that with low pricing or reduced competition on the item he wants?

sskirby said...

How does one handle this scenario: There are 2 holy pallies in the raid and they agree (collusion!) that they will alternate who bids on the healing plate. This way, neither of them ever shrouds for healing plate and always pays the minimum bid, preserving their points for other things.

Rohan said...

@sskirby, it's pretty much the same as if they both opted to roll. One of them gets the item now, and the other one gets the next item, and minimum DKP is paid.

It's not really an issue in this system. Non-tier loot is rarely considered "sexy", unless it's Best-in-Slot.

yuripup said...

The only people who build up significant point leads (and as Dulin said, you're talking 100 3 hour raids in our system to get to 1000) only happens in the most geared of people who are going for very rare BiS.

And the system is biased toward the person churning over points really fast--or new to the system.

Once you are at the shroud minimum points have a decreasing marginal utility--each one is going to be worth less than the one before it. And a bunch of quick shrouds for quick upgrades early gets you set up to be well geared in the beginning and start building up toward BiS Shroud Bombs later.

Yuri said...

Loot collusion is loot collusion.

In the Leftovers case that will get you a real stern talking (at least) and possible black listing.

On Silver Hand, where LO is the 800 LB gorilla of SH raiding, that could be a serious problem. (20+ active 25 man charters right now.)

TyphoonAndrew said...

I'm huntinbg for a master loot mod which implements the Shound system, but struggling to find one. QDKPv2 seems an option, but has to be a Shoud specific system out there...Any suggestions would be wonderful.