I think the reason we do this is that the standard loot roll does't really correspond to how we think of items. The standard Need/Greed basically has two options:
- I need the item.
- I don't need the item.
I don't think this correctly matches our thinking about loot, and as such, we ignore the automated system and manually roll afterwards.
In reality, I think there are 3 basic reactions to loot, not 2:
- I will use the item all the time.
- I will use the item some of the time.
- I will not use the item.
We don't explicitly say so, but when we manually roll afterwards, we take the all/some of the time division into account.
For example, say [Hourglass of the Unraveller] dropped in Black Morass. It's a really nice trinket for my Retribution gear, and I wouldn't mind having it. But I don't really want to take the item from a rogue. So I pass, and wait to see if the rogue expresses interest before rolling.
(If I was an active Retribution paladin, this would be different, and I would roll against a rogue for it. I'm talking as a Holy Paladin who may or may not spec Retribution one day.)
Under Need/Greed, no option really fits. If I Need, and I win it over the rogue, that's a bad result. If I Greed, and a mage wins it, that's a bad result too. So we pass and roll it out manually.
Under the three option system, it's much more obvious. Rogue picks the first option (use all the time), I pick the second option (use some of the time), and mage picks the third option (never use it). So the rogue gets it, but I get it if he doesn't need it.
Knowing that this more closely matches how we think about loot rules, I think there are a couple changes that could be made to speed up loot distribution. For example, rather than manually doing need/greed rolls, you could use three steps, rather than making people guess if the "all the time" people will roll.
Or you could use the automatic Need/Greed loot window. Need if you will use all the time, Greed if you will use some of the time, and Pass if you never use it. If everyone passes, an enchanter scoops up the item and shards are passed out at the end of the run.
This could easily be adapted to any instance where you use /roll, such as Karazhan. You could even implement a 1 upgrade per run rule by saying that once you win something, you can only hit Greed from then on, ensuring that someone who hasn't won something can hit Need and guarantee a win.