Monday, May 01, 2006

The Invisible Hand of Raiding

A lot of guilds restrict loot by class. They justify this with the phrase "Guild progress comes before personal progress."

As a counter, I offer these words:
"By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good."
- Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, 1776

Liberal capitalism is, in general, the dominant economic system in modern times. It's fundamental idea is that of the Invisible Hand: that an individual seeking to improve his own situation will unintentionally work for the benefit of the group. For the most part, the system works in real life.

The same philosophy should also work in WoW. A neutral system of earning and spending DKP should lead to people seeking to improve their characters as they want to, and thus unintentionally improving the raid. I have not yet seen a good reason why the Invisible Hand does not apply to WoW.

The argument against this is "a warrior will do more dps with Uber-2H-sword than a paladin on a raid." And this is strictly true. So how then does giving the paladin the Uber-2H-sword improve the raid? For one thing, the paladin will be less likely to quit. If you are prevented from improving your character as you want to, your enthusiasm wanes. If the paladin quits, the guild loses multiple epics and a skilled player. This is a bigger loss to the raid than a single weapon being used slightly less efficiently. It's generally taken as a given that healing classes, in addition to being the rarest, are the ones which burn out fastest. Keeping healers from burning out, at the cost of one or two dps epics going to a healer, improves the raid.

As well, people do other things than raids. They quest, farm and PvP. By making a rational decision to improve some of these other areas, they benefit the guild. As a personal example, I'm currently working on farming for my Hide of the Wild. I'm specced for raiding (30/21/0 - raid gets Blessing of Sanctuary), and thus farming is painfully slow. A good epic weapon would make farming easier, leading to a better healing cape which would improve the raid. In fact, farming is so painful--and I have to farm for some other enchants--that I am considering to switching to 20/0/31, which means no more Blessing of Sanctuary and worse healing on raids.

In the end, people are most productive when they are improving their character as they see fit. A raiding guild should think long and hard before abandoning the wisdom of Adam Smith.


  1. The post is more from a philosophical point of view, rather than the specific example within.

    The idea is that, if the invisible hand applies, a raid with *no* restrictions on loot should be more efficient than one with loot restrictions (even just MT restrictions).

  2. Well said. Applying Wealth of Nations to raiding is a novel idea that I had not thought of. The debate on class restrictions resurfaces in my guild from time to time. I'll keep this argument on hand for the future (credited to you of course). Excellent post.

  3. There are of course cases where a player seeking to "improve" his/her toon with a particular loot item leads to no improvement to the raid. Allowing a such a person to receive an such an item can cause much drama and bad feelings within a guild. I have seen this happen first hand.

  4. Maybe, can you give an example?

    Why would someone take an item if they felt it did not improve their character?

  5. I said no improvement to the raid, not no improvement to their character.

    There are many non-sensical, immature players out there, there is no doubt about that. I rather not go into examples that I've seen, this issue is actually a sore point with my guild right now and I don't want to get into trouble talking about it lol.

    Raid Dungeons are certainly not free market systems. We are all actually slaves to Blizzard lol.

  6. Raid Dungeons may not be a free market like we're used to, but the fundamental ideas and concepts that make a free market efficient still apply.

  7. I think this is absolutely correct.
    DKP is for spending points.
    There should be no rules as to what you spend points on.

    This would stop a LOT of the whining many of us rogues do when feral druids want items. Or if a priest wants a sta/int item that a warlock also wants. "I didn't bid enough? Oh well I have to wait till next time."

    The problem is, your idea requires maturity.

    Maybe's point is sound but it's basicaly giving in to bullys. If someone is going to whine and moan that an item SHOULD go to them or else they are going home, well that person is causing the disruption, not the person that bid on it because they wanted it.

    I don't think anyone SHOULD get anything.

    Someone that tries to hold their guild hostage like that should be kicked. Instead, we cater to the whiner and give in to his demands.

    As lavisknight said, it's really the greed of the people who want the items that made all these rules. It's one thing to try to be fair in a 5 man or with your friends (even then, letting the dice rule avoids fighting). But raid guilds are not all friends, and too huge, for people to try to enforce niceness and fairness. Doing that has always meant stepping on people's rights.

  8. Also, one more thing,

    Look at the failed utopias, socialist and communist systems.

    Look at the failed raiding guilds that fall apart due to drama over loot.

    Both have the same problem: leaders trying to force their vision of fairness on others.

    I think it is no wonder large guilds are full of drama and you always see the founders leave and start new raiding guilds. I think people get upset at rules that are not written out or agreed to beforhand, seem arbitrary, or in worse cases, seem like favoritism.

    A simple rule: spend DKP, win loot, is fair to all because it is equally fair (or equally unfair) to all.

    Now you know why I dabbled with raiding then quit. If a guild had a simple rule like the above, where i know the expectations, I'd do it. But I've seen guilds start that way then suddenly switch when the guildmembers that have been there the longest didn't get something they wanted.

  9. One point for maybe, and this is only a marginal one. In a MC raid that I was running, we were up to Golemagg and he dropped the staff of domination. A priest had the points and won it. This was the cause of much griping along the lines of "You get Anathema/Benediction, why in god's name do you want to roll on SoD?" I'm not sure if it is right or wrong, but in the end the person got their SoD, and never raided with my raid group again.

    This might be one example of where a class restriction comes into play. Priests/hunters have epic quest weapons coming out of MC that are class-specific (Unlike any other weapon in the Core, or after the Core, thank God.) So should they have the right to roll on the non class specific weapons in there (E.G. Aurastone hammer and SoD.) IMO, they should, but it still caused drama and whatnot.

    The final guild ruling is yes, we priest can roll on anything we want, but if we roll on a healer epic weapon in MC, a priest can't then roll on the eye of divinity. It's one or the other. Is this fair? Hmm, who knows.

  10. It's not a good idea. What if a warlock rolls on SoD, and then rolls on Azuresong Mageblade? Is that fair?

    There is a value in having an item first, rather than waiting. If you get an SoD now, you may have to wait on multiple weeks before getting Benediction.

    Honestly, if your pricing mechanisms are set right, this should not happen. If a priest has a really good chance of getting Benediction, he probably won't go for SoD, because it's a waste of DKP. But if he decides that it may be a few weeks before he picks up Benediction, then an SoD is a rational decision.

  11. I would like to know what server you are on, because I have never heard any of this intelligence on Thunderhorn :) I have been running alts because I cannot find a guild to raid with, I may need to start searching again, though with BC so close i don't know if i should.

    Thank You

  12. "By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good."
    - Adam Smith

    GSH SAID - "A neutral system of earning and spending DKP should lead to people seeking to improve their characters as they want to, and thus unintentionally improving the raid."

    I have found this more and more true the longer I raid. As Coriel said in another post we all have an image of what we want our character to do "ideally". There is a large disconnect for me with the reality of what I do in raids (heal) and what I want to do (hit things with big hammers). Strangely enough I end up doing what I want to do more then I do what I "should" be doing. Therefore if I were allowed to bid on DPS gear and weapons I would be helping the raid much more, as that is what I tend to do anyways. Being forced to pick up healing gear doesn't help me hit things harder and even though my title says paladin I don't heal if I don't have to. So... the theory stays true to me at least in the way of hybrid classes. Let them do what they see themselves doing not what you think they should do.

    On a side note...
    I do not think that loot priority is always a bad thing. For instance we had a [Deathbringer] drop for us off Onyxia and a hunter wanted it. He had more dkp then all of the warriors but that weapon does nothing for hunters as it's a proc weapon with no stats. In this case the hunter left the guild because he wasn't allowed to buy it...
    I hold to the fact that it is a warrior weapon and should be priority for them.

  13. Instances and raids should just drop more loot to make it easier for everyone to obtain the items they want..

  14. To the Above Commenter:

    But then we'd have no reason to keep paying Blizzard money and get burnt out on the system. Personally, I think Heroic Badges/Tier Tokens is the way to go for this stuff. Get your currency, go to a vendor, and then pick the stuff you want instead of going through a giant loot table with drop %'s etc. The exceptions to this could be like rare mounts & legendaries and such.

  15. I would have to disagree with what Proudfoot pointed out as a good reason for having loot priority. The hunter would be penalized for wanting something that does not further their own interest (i.e. no enhancements, unless they like to melee) given the resources used to get it. He/she would not be able to out bid others on items that would benefit them, if they did drop.

  16. I disagree with this post. A raid will progress the most if it is making the best use of its won items and is otherwise competent. If a druid is primarily healing for the guild runs, giving it the same opportunity for magic dps gear (moonkin form) as mages, warlocks or shadow priests will not be beneficial. Not only does the single-role class not get to use the item, but neither will the druid if it is healing, and the item is likely just to gather dust in a bag slot somewhere, likely creating hostility by everyone else towards the druid. This is obviously relative to item-need, but the essential point remains true.

    While no guild should ever use "loot elitism," where officers et. al. get first dibs on drops (I've seen all such guilds eventually collapse), there is no reason to presume that _no_ loot rules will lead to the _most_ efficiencies. Rules that encourage or mandate selfishness will simply lead to the success of the most selfish players, and not towards any greater mystical "efficiency".

    Adam Smith wrote around 300 years ago, we've moved on a little further since then.

  17. If one really want to make raiding a free market system, you should probably have some ways to earn DKP beyond simply attending. If you want to motivate people with greed, then you have to make sure that they can't get the full profit by just attending.

    That's the problem with making capitalism work is that the most profitable choice must be at least amongst the better ones. This could probably be solved by awarding DKP for material and potion donations and such, but I don't know how one could award the people who focus and play well at the actual raid.

  18. The free market awards those that work hardest/smartest. DKP awards those that show up. As Anariana put forth, DKP would have to be merit based to model a free market.

  19. It's not like raiding is excessively hard skill-wise. Getting people to show up is half the battle. In general, your best raiders tend to be the ones who are always present.

    Besides, you and anariana are missing the point. You need to look at it from an investment point of view, not an earning money point of view.

    Rather than thinking of players as workers earning a wage, think of them as companies seeking a higher rate of return by investing in different types of gear. That's a more accurate representation of what this post is getting at.

  20. The Invisible Hand works because in order to earn currency (money, or in this case DKP) the individual has to produce a good or service that is of value to others.

    Presumably attendance is of value to others, and that's generally what DKP rewards. However, in reality, some contribute better than others to raiding, and it has less to do with existing gear than competence. Unlike in a market system, in raiding there is no differentiation between quality goods and inferior goods - it's more like centralized planning in this way. =)

    However all this really comes down to the personalities and teamwork involved. An good raider will never put his personal desire for loot ahead of the optimal distribution of loot for the guild. If a guild is saddled with raiders who would do that, it makes sense that they would have to institute some kind of policy or guideline.

    It may be that some guild members will quit because of this, but I'm not sure why you assume that is bad for the guild.

  21. My old guild, which broke up more because of Server transfers/queues and upcoming BC release, had NO DKP and "loot elitism". And, it worked out fabulously. The loot was all roll-based with bonuses based on 4 different things, officers got a +15 bonus, always-there raiders (other than officers)got a +15 bonus, raiders on time and ready to raid with all pre-reqs(pots, bandages, repaired) got a +30 bonus, and raiders who passed a one time quiz got a +15 bonus.
    There were 4 sets of rolls, class need, non-class need, class greed, non-class greed.
    You get one Need and one Greed a week. This is the key (and the same key in DKP systems). You know what eq benefits your character the most. You're not going to burn your Need/Greed/DKP on something unless IT HELPS your character. Even a minor farming help is a reason to burn your Need/Greed/DKP.
    Most of the time, our system worked because of what the above poster mentions:

    "However all this really comes down to the personalities and teamwork involved. An good raider will never put his personal desire for loot ahead of the optimal distribution of loot for the guild."

    We looked at who needed the loot the most and had them roll. We talked about the loot within classes and figured it out even before the roll. We were all about progressing as fast as possible and the loot, eventually, just became a side bonuns. Even the higher end loot from AQ40 was was a small bonus compared to the sense of accomplishment of downing the bosses (like Sartura).

    But, also, I aggree with a previous comment stating:

    "The problem is, your idea requires maturity."

  22. I disagree. I know this is an old post, but just because someone can use an item does not necessarily mean that he/she is entitled to it. Why would I give betrayer of Humanity to a hunter?

  23. 2+ years since the last post, thread necro for sure :) I've been thinking a great deal about this particular issue and I've come to a couple of conclusions. First, fairness and justice are often not the same thing. A fair system may not be just, and vice versa. For example, if every item that drops is distributed by /roll, each person in the raid has an equal chance at an item, making it the most fair way to decide who gets what. That may, however, be quite unjust, given the specifics of the situation. Perhaps a person who has been raiding diligently for months, and really needs that particular item, gets outrolled by someone who rarely raids, and for whom the item is only a minor upgrade. Would you call that just? Most likely not. Loot council systems, in which drops are distributed via need by a subgroup within the raid, can make decisions about who gets what based on the specifics of each case. However just their decisions are, it is quite obviously not fair in the sense of equal chances for everyone. Some systems, like ep/gp, attempt to split the difference by being both fair and just, but end up overly complicated and easy to game. In the end it's clear that there is no perfect system of distribution. More fair usually means less just, and more just means less fair. The best we can do is to choose a system that matches the needs and goals of our group, be clear about the rules of the system, and be as transparent as possible in its execution.