Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Living with Loot Council

As most long-time readers know, I'm not the biggest fan of Loot Council. I much prefer DKP systems that leave the decision-making up to the players. So when my guild decided to switch to Loot Council, I viewed the move with some trepidation. I really did like our previous English-bid DKP system. But a lot of the guild felt uncomfortable with the "adversarial" nature of that system, and so we decided to change it up.

So what has Loot Council been like so far?

First off, I would like to note that I really like the implementation of Loot Council that our leadership came up with. We have three people on the council: our long-time loot officer, the guild master, and one non-officer raider. The non-officer raider changes each raid and is chosen more or less randomly. The guild master only casts a vote if the other two members disagree.

On the whole, Loot Council has worked out more or less okay. Loot distribution is a little bit faster, and there's definitely a much lower burden on the loot officer. There's not a lot of record-keeping to worry about.

But at the same time, I don't really see the Loot Council leading to a "better" distribution of loot than the previous system did. This is the flaw in Loot Council. The council is human, and thus, is likely to make mistakes and be unable to capture every piece of information necessary to make the ideal decision.

It's not like the council makes outrageous mistakes. But sometimes things can be subtle. For example, let's look at one example of loot distribution that I consider a mistake:

An i277 caster/healer cloak dropped. Of the people who wanted it, several had i264 cloaks, and one had an i258 cloak. The i277 cloak was given to the i258 guy because it was the largest upgrade. Certainly it is a defensible decision, or so it seems. But the thing is that most of the i264 cloaks were Emblem cloaks, purchasable from a vendor. So either the i258 cloak was better than than the i264 cloak, in which case the i277 cloak was a bigger upgrade for someone else, or the i258 cloak was worse than the i264 cloak, in which case the i258 guy wasn't willing to spend the Emblems to upgrade. In that case, the people who took initiative to upgrade their gear outside of raiding got passed over in favor of someone who didn't.

Certainly it's a very small mistake. I would have just considered the i258 and i264 cloaks more or less the same and had everyone roll for it.

The other amusing Loot Council folly was counciling 4 i277 tokens in row to a disc priest to help with Heroic Lich King. Said priest promptly quit right after getting the fourth token. Now obviously, the priest could have pulled similar shenanigans in the DKP system, blowing all his DKP right before quitting. But when something like this happens in Loot Council, it's the Council's error, their misjudgment thrown into stark relief, rather than the impersonal nature of DKP earned and spent.

But so far, Loot Council doesn't lead to obviously "worse" results than the previous system. And the savings on administrative overhead are huge. Plus, the guild seems much happier with this system than the previous one.

And that is a very important part of loot systems. Your guild has to believe in your loot system. You can have the most technically and mathematically sound system in the world (*cough* Vickrey bidding *cough*) and if the guild does not buy into it, it will fail. Similarly, a terribly flawed system can succeed if everyone is willing to work with it.


  1. I completely agree. The team must accept the loot system and it will succeed.

    But to do so, it must be obvious and stable. I mean it's one of the most important (if not the most important) feature of the guild. If you change DKP overnight to LC (or back), you can end up with leaving members, since the loot rule can change once more against their will.

  2. With regards to the two decisions you did not agree with:

    1. I feel like there was some relevant information left out about this decision. While giving out loot to a person who needs it(benefits) the most is one factor, there is also attendance, number of items recently received, and performance that I would imagine get factored in as well.

    2. If you guys were putting in some serious attempts at Heroic Lich King and your disc priest wasn't up to par then this was really the best/only decision to make in terms of helping the entire raid group as a whole (probably on par with gearing up your tanks). While it sucks that they left after receiving their loot, you can't really blame that on the loot council system itself. It made the best decision based on the facts currently available to it.

  3. You also left out the distict possibility that the perso with the "worst" cloak didn't have the Emblem cloak because they couldn't afford it yet. If that were the case, it wouldn't make it an "error in judgement" on the LC's account.

    Just sayin'.

  4. DarthRegis, That's not a serious possibility, given the time span involved. If this had happened much closer to the release of Wrath, or with a newer player then yes, that's a possibility.

  5. The most dangerous thing about relying on a loot council instead of on an open and transparent system is that usually the loot council is also in a position of authority in some other fashion, such as raid spots, guild ranks, etc. This can lead to an inefficient system where members that feel negatively about decisions made by the loot council will feel compelled to keep their opinions to themselves. The raid might be negatively impacted at a later date by a group of people "suddenly and unexpectedly" expressing their displeasure by raid-jumping.

    A loot council can consider quite a few things, make what they think is a 100% fair decision, not favor themselves at all, and still have bitter and disgruntled raiders who won't even tell them about it. The two easiest ways to get massive raid drama are a change in rules to DKP, and every single time the loot council meets.

  6. Have you ever tried the EPGP loot addon system. I am huge proponent of this system. I'd love to hear anyones thoughts on it who has used this system becuase I believe it is very fair and reliable.

  7. Loot council sounds horrible.

    I think there should always be an effort-reward balance. When very desirable loot drops, it's nice to see the people who have put in the most effort getting that loot. Effort is best measured with some sort of point system.

    If a disc priest has enough effort points to get 4 tokens in a row, then they put in the effort and I don't care if they quit afterwards.

    My biggest complaint about point systems is the obvious collusion between competitors for the same gear type.

  8. My raid uses loot council, but the council really just decides which people should roll on the item. Generally, almost everybody who linked will end up rolling. For tokens, we just used a list, where people were handed out tokens evenly. It keeps some of the advantages of "pure loot council", while reducing the politics involved. This also makes life easier for the people who are on the loot council. I don't know if you've participated in one, but it can be fairly agonizing trying to figure out who deserves things, even with the roll hybrid I mentioned above.

  9. " If you guys were putting in some serious attempts at Heroic Lich King and your disc priest wasn't up to par then this was really the best/only decision to make in terms of helping the entire raid group as a whole (probably on par with gearing up your tanks). While it sucks that they left after receiving their loot, you can't really blame that on the loot council system itself. It made the best decision based on the facts currently available to it."

    This would be persuasive except for the fact that one of the main justifications for the imposition of Loot Council was that DKP was more prone to this problem since a Loot Council would sense the unreliable player who was about to quit and would not give him gear. In fact, people leave with any system and Loot Council is not better than DKP. The advantage of DKP as with any market is that the best person to "value" a piece of gear is the player who knows his needs and desires. When Loot Council was being debated those backing it claimed it was superior to the "market pricing mechanism" not just equal.

  10. I think adopting Loot Council towards the end of the expansion is meaning you aren't noticing a factor that will play out later that is to the advantage of Loot Council. Our Loot Council works superbly in 10 man because the item will drop again. With only a month left Loot is an odd creature. When you are just starting out on a new tier there will (hopefully) be more of an attitude of 'ah I'll get it next time'.

    @ Dontatsu I agree. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and one of the greatest difficulties with Loot Council for my guild hasn't been drama - its been hindsight.

    You also have to accept the Council WILL make errors. They're only human.