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The Ethics of Raid Finder Loot

December 19, 2011
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What This Post Is:

When I was a student, one of my favorite subjects was Ethics.  I loved stripping a question or problem down to the most fundamental parts and trying to determine who benefits, who loses, and what’s at stake.

My recent post on Raid Finder and the discussion that followed got me thinking about the questions that might arise from the way that different types of WoW players are using this new system.  While I think that applying ethical principles to pixelated “loot” is probably a far stretch in the grand scheme of things, I thought it would make for an interesting discussion and might be fun to explore.

What This Post Is Not:

I am in no way writing a post that is designed to pass judgement on any people, groups, or guilds for the way that they choose to utilize the Raid Finder system.  I will propose several possible ethical problems in this post, which are meant only to get us thinking about the way we use Raid Finder, and are not meant to be taken as a criticism of the way that any of us chooses to play WoW.  I am not looking for one “right” answer, or really any answer at all, to the question of how Raid Finder loot “should” be distributed or used by any type of player.  Using the arguments I make here to do so would be taking them out of their intended context.  This is an exercise in ethical thinking, not a basis upon which anyone should be ridiculed or scrutinized.

And now, Tzufit hops into the abyss.

What Is The Intent of Raid Finder?

Raid Finder was designed to give players a chance to experience raid-level content even if their play schedules or interests did not allow them the time that would traditionally be required to find a guild / research strategies / work through progression.  If you don’t want to take my word for that, then see what Blizzard had to say:

 Raid Finder is primarily intended for players who don’t already raid consistently. These are players who may not have had the opportunity to take part in raid content due to scheduling conflicts, playtime constraints, limited access to other raid-capable players, or a lack of experience with higher-end content. These players may want to experience World of Warcraft’s raid content and storyline without being able to commit to the additional time investment of a raiding guild. The Raid Finder is also a great way to quickly and easily gear up alternate characters without having to worry about raid lockouts.

(source)

Included in that description are non-raiders and alts (potentially of both non-raiders and raiders), but traditional raiders are not mentioned as one of the primary audiences for whom Blizzard has designed the Raid Finder.  More recently, some players have pointed to Daxxarri’s post on the official forums as evidence that Blizzard “expects” traditional raiders to use the Raid Finder as a tool to supplement their chances to upgrade their gear each week.  Obviously, the need for traditional raiders to use Raid Finder for upgrades will decrease as the amount of time the Dragon Soul has been available increases.  Thus, this post will assume that the primary intended use of Raid Finder will be to provide a raiding experience for people who are not able to participate in traditional raids.

Possible Problems with Raid Finder Loot

At its core, the primary issue with Raid Finder is that two different groups are using it for two very different purposes.  Non-raiders are using it as the sole way they will experience raid -level content.  Traditional raiders are using it as a tool to help them strengthen their chances of success in normal and heroic difficulties.

So who “should” take Raid Finder loot?  Let’s explore a few possibilities:

Non-raiders are unable to acquire gear from normal or heroic Dragon Soul.  Raid Finder level gear is the highest gear they can achieve.  Thus, non-raiders should have preference on Raid Finder gear.  One of the biggest measurements of success in WoW is the acquisition of gear.  Many players with level-capped characters (or even those who have chosen to lock their characters at a certain level) spend hours pouring over WoWhead to determine what pieces of their gear can be upgraded, and where those upgrades come from.  If Raid Finder’s target audience is a group of players who are unlikely to enter normal Dragon Soul, and who will never go near heroic Dragon Soul, then the loot that drops from Raid Finder is “best in slot” for them.

Traditional raiders have more need for the gear that drops in Raid Finder than non-raiders do.  Thus, they should have preference because they will use the gear more than non-raiders.  Raid Finder provides traditional raiders with additional opportunities to acquire tier gear.  Though the iLv of Raid Finder’s tier gear may be lower than that from normal difficulty, for some classes who have particularly powerful set bonuses the loss in iLv may actually be worth it.  So, having more raiders in 4 pc tier means that traditional raiders will have an advantage against normal and heroic Dragon Soul. Higher DPS, greater healer throughput, and better tanking cooldowns can shorten the length of many encounters and make them significantly simpler to learn and manage.  Traditional raiders will put the gear they get to “better use” because they are using that gear to defeat encounters of additional difficulty.  In contrast to non-raiders, iLv 384 is not “best in slot” for traditional raiders.  Anything that traditional raiders win from Raid Finder will be replaced as quickly as possible with an item from normal difficulty.  To use an ethical principle completely out of context – Raid Finder loot isn’t an end, it’s the means to an end for traditional raiders.

Traditional raiders “don’t belong” in Raid Finder because it wasn’t designed for them.  Therefore, they shouldn’t roll on the gear that drops from it.  Based upon my assumption above that Raid Finder was designed for non-raiders, we may also posit that only normal and heroic difficulties of Dragon Soul are the intended targets for traditional raiders.  Beyond this, there is a fair amount of animosity toward traditional raiders in Raid Finder for a variety of reasons – most notably, when a traditional raider attempts to tell the group how a boss is defeated on normal difficulty, only to be informed that the strategy is completely different on the Raid Finder setting.  (This is most obviously the case with Yor’sahj.)  Externally, there have also been a handful of posts on the official forums from non-raiders who are upset to see players mostly decked-out in iLv 397 gear or above needing on items that are side-grades or (apparent) downgrades.  There is a sense (be it right or wrong) among some non-raiders that Raid Finder gear really should belong to them.  After all, these pieces are their best in slot items aside from the non-tier pieces they can purchase with Valor Points.  A set of Raid Finder T13 shoulders is likely to be nothing more than a shard to a traditional raider in a few months, whereas a non-raider might wear those shoulders until Mists of Pandaria.

Non-raiders do not need the gear from Raid Finder to defeat Raid Finder.  It’s a simple argument: if you can defeat the Raid Finder difficulty of Dragon Soul prior to getting any upgrades from it, then you don’t need any upgrades to be able to defeat it.  Raid Finder difficulty is tuned for people who have a minimum iLv of 372, which can easily be acquired with gear from the new heroic dungeons.  However …

Traditional raiders do not need the gear from Raid Finder to defeat normal mode.  Most traditional raid groups who are now working on normal and the early heroic fights in Dragon Soul came into the new instance with a significant amount of gear from Firelands and (probably) heroic Firelands.  As a member of a raid group who, on average, had about a 375-380 iLv at the beginning of 4.3, I can confirm that every single normal encounter in Dragon Soul can be defeated with this gear level.  While tier set bonuses may make for an easier process, they are not at all “necessary” for success.

Traditional raiders should only use Raid Finder with full, premade groups in order to avoid taking gear from non-raiders who would also use it.  A possible (though completely impractical) solution to the problem would be for traditional raiders to only queue for Raid Finder if and when they have a full 25 people who will all go together.  This ensures that any traditional raiders who roll on 384 gear are only rolling against other traditional raiders, for whom Raid Finder loot would generally be a side-grade.  Ironically, by this argument Paragon and the other elite guilds who participated in exploiting the loot system of Raid Finder acted in a way that is compatible with the ethical concerns discussed here.  Though these guilds broke Blizzard’s rules in exploiting the bug, they did so in a way that did not hurt non-raiding players  who were also using Raid Finder.  They were not depriving non-raiders of Raid Finder level gear because they queued with full groups.

Your Turn

Do you think that Raid Finder creates questions about fair loot distribution between non-raiders and traditional raiders?  What additional issues can you think of that are at stake here?  How is your guild using Raid Finder?  Do you think Raid Finder will become a “necessary” part of the weekly schedule for raiding guilds?

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45 Comments leave one →
  1. December 19, 2011 10:00 pm

    I feel like I’ve posted this speech a hundred times on a hundred different blogs…

    I am a former officer of a casual-guild-that-raids and am now GM of said guild (that no longer raids due to lack of personnel, but that’s a whole other issue entirely). We have one loot rule: if it’s an upgrade for you (and it’s class/level/spec appropriate, but that’s a given, yes?), roll on it. If you win, good for you! If you don’t…you’re an adult. Suck it up.

    The same goes for LFR. As Blizzard is working out kinks with the class-spec issue, if you can use the gear that drops, roll on it. If you win it, YAY*! If you don’t…better luck next time.

    *Unless, of course, you’re the druid that won two tier tokens off one boss yesterday. In that case you’re a douchecanoe and should be flogged in public.

    • Squelchy permalink
      December 19, 2011 10:07 pm

      In fairness to the druid, that’s an implementation issue. There’s no way he or she could have known which token they would have won on. It’s not as though everyone else didn’t roll on both tokens, I assume. Blizzard should work out the rolls so that doesn’t happen–no matter how many gear sets you druid people use. (Occupy Hybrid Specs)

    • December 19, 2011 10:08 pm

      LOL, I think I’ve met that druid. :P

      That’s exactly how our guild operates, Stormy. In 10 mans we use a Need/Greed system, and in 25 mans we use DKP. Either way, we always encourage people to roll for anything that would be better for them. BUT, there are also plenty of occurrences when raiders who win an item will decide to pass it to whoever had the next highest roll. This usually happens when the actual winner feels like the item would be a smaller upgrade for them than for the other guildmate.

      Now, that’s within a guild. I suppose the question is would we show the same courtesy to strangers in Raid Finder? I’d say that the vast majority of us would probably say no.

    • December 19, 2011 10:09 pm

      @Squelchy – The loot system, even with the fixes they’ve provided so far is a disaster. I understand why it can’t really work properly until the changes to the way player specs are detected in Mists, but if it was going to be this bad I kind of wish they hadn’t put in anything with the +Need rolls at all.

  2. December 20, 2011 12:07 am

    Honestly, what blizzard might want to looking into implementing is a staggered roll boost that scales up as you kill LFR bosses, and then resets to 0 when you win a roll. Not only would it provide incentive to run LFR, but it would also curb the amount of derpy spite rolls. Or even the accidental need rolls, like when I thought I was rolling on the shoulder token for my DK, which I needed, but actually rolled on the glove token, which I won, and already had two of from the alt normal run.

    • December 20, 2011 5:59 pm

      That’s a very cool idea, though I have no idea how complicated it would be to implement (not a programmer!). But I like that it would reward people who consistently use LFR and would also give raiding mains who regularly use it an increased chance to get the few pieces they need. It would also (in theory) prevent instances where a raiding alt hops in to LFR every once in a rare while and, thanks to a few lucky rolls, ends up winning a ton of gear over mains.

  3. December 20, 2011 1:19 am

    I think I need a macro that says “Great post Tzu, gonna link you on my weekly highlights”… :P

    Seriously, though, I like the questions you put forward and your thoughts on them. We had lots of conflict about LFR in our guild as we initially ran them as a guild so loot could get distributed evenly ie everyone should get one loot from the raid, but it’s all need rolls. So one lucky warrior won 3 items but he passed them around to the next highest rolls for those items (of course he gets to pick which one he gets to keep). If you run it as a guild, then you don’t have that issue of how to distribute loot.

    However, in random pugs, then who is entitled to loot? Everyone who contributed to raid is. Sure the casual pug raiders whinge that “Oh, why are they rolling on that, they will replace it in a week when they do their guild runs” but is it any different from running a dungeon? We never think about who is entitled to loot there, and really, raid finder is just a big dungeon to me.

    Ok this comment is too long already. I will write more thoughts on it in a pingback post at a later stage :)

    • December 20, 2011 6:05 pm

      Great points, Navimie. :)

      “raid finder is just a big dungeon to me”
      This, I think is where the disconnect might be for people like you and me who raid often, and who do so on normal and heroic difficulty. I agree with you – Raid Finder feels much more like a 5 man than it does a raid TO ME. Does it feel like a random heroic to someone who doesn’t get a chance to raid in normal difficulty? I’m not so sure about that.

    • December 20, 2011 7:21 pm

      One of my guildmates said that Raid Finder is easier then the new 5 man heroics. Which really makes me wonder!

    • December 20, 2011 7:49 pm

      Hah. Well I think one of the major differences is that it’s hard to just not do your job at all in a 5 man, or at least in a new 5 man. Once you overgear any of the heroic dungeons, you can pretty much faceroll your way through.

      I’ve heard a lot of old-school raiders in my guild compare Raid Finder to the 40-man raids in Vanilla for their general chaos and because you can get away with having only a percentage of the people there focusing on their jobs and on the mechanics, whereas the rest can basically be warm bodies. :-/ I wasn’t around in Vanilla, so I can’t really comment on the accuracy of the comparison.

  4. Newtonium permalink
    December 20, 2011 1:55 am

    I believe that the more ethical problem is in the loot system being based solely on random rolls regardless of participation.
    We had a healer win a piece of gear after doing less healing than a shadow priest. Now, if that healer was participating an trying, of they were undergeared and did not know how to play and would accept some advice or was there to get better, then I have no problem.
    The problem comes in when I check the activity of said raider and find that their activity was far far less than anyone else’s. I don’t remember the specifics but I believe it was on the order of 25 casted spells for an ENTIRE boss encounter. What was worse, and I believe that Blizzard is going to implement a hotfix soon I hope, he won both of the chest tier pieces that dropped on that boss.

    • December 20, 2011 6:11 pm

      Ugh, right. That’s clearly not a case of someone being inexperienced or undergeared if they’re being outhealed by someone’s passive healing alone. Sadly, there’s not much of anything that can be done to deal with these kind of situations besides making good use of the Vote to Kick button. There are few things I enjoy less than feeling like I need to police a dungeon (or battle ground, or raid finder group), but I guess the only solution to this is taking a look through activity/healing done before you pull a boss – because, of course, you can’t kick someone in combat or during loot rolls. I understand why the system needs to be that way, and I sure can’t think of a better alternative, but it does mean that sometimes people who are intentionally not helping the group are going to get things they don’t really deserve.

  5. sam permalink
    December 20, 2011 9:07 am

    they are, in a very clumsy fashion, trying to work back to the vanilla model. Raiders did all the level 60 instances and raids, (back then you could raid strat, scholo, ubrs and lbrs as 10 mans and ubrs as a 15 man. you could also run several lower leve instances like deadmines as 10 mans but that’s not relavent). Raiders did it for a few upgrades, crafting gear, money making items, and recipes. There were flaws with Vanilla but at end game the balance between raiders and casuals was perfect. Raider’s came down and played with everyone else, this helped train new players and gave them a place to recruit people they’d played with.

    • December 20, 2011 6:16 pm

      It’s an interesting idea, but I have trouble believing that the majority of raiders who go into LFR really have the patience to teach anyone much of anything. Most people are in a hurry to get in and out as quickly as possible – the same as with heroic dungeons. Beyond that, not everyone in a setting like Raid Finder is open to unsolicited advice. You or I could probably significantly help someone with the same main spec as us improve if we spent a few minutes talking to them, but that doesn’t mean they necessarily want to hear it.

  6. December 20, 2011 9:09 am

    Nice post you have there, but ethics get easily crushed against the brick wall that is reality (i.e. the LFG/LFR tool).

    Some of my guildies often run the LFR, alone or in small groups, looking for upgrades and some experience on bosses. Honestly I would not expect either from the LFR.

    In my opinion, if you PUG the LFR, anything goes. I’m with Stormy on this one. There is no way it could be any different given how loot is handled (see Navimie/Newtonium’s posts).

    I run the LFR myself in my own way: I queue for it twice a week for each of my toons while I do AH stuff/craft consumables for raids/sort the bank etc… I only play healers apart from my lock so I have fast queues, and I only accept raids which are already 2/4 or 3/4; you get those easily because people often wipe and ragequit on oozes boss, Hagara or Deathwing. If I get 0/4, I just refuse and requeue after a few minutes. That’s a fast, easy way to get 500 VPs each week; if I get some loot for my alts, it’s just icing on the cake. Granted, I don’t see myself doing this for the rest of 4.3, but it’s nice while it lasts.

    You could say that my behaviour is un-ethical, but I’m exploiting weaknesses and flaws in the LFR that are not really the developer’s blame but the players’. Sadly, I think that ethics in PUG groups died the day the Looking for Group tool was introduced.

    • December 20, 2011 6:20 pm

      Actually, I think the fact that you specifically seek out groups in progress is a pretty great thing. Sure, you’re doing so because you want to get your Valor Points faster – but by accepting a 2/4 or 3/4 group you’re probably helping those people out a good deal. It can take a while to get a group filled back up if people leave because of a wipe, or because the loot they wanted didn’t drop. A lot of people do the opposite and refuse any queue that isn’t a fresh run.

  7. December 20, 2011 9:51 am

    My raiding guild actually takes an even worse stance, where we run LFR in a block of 10-20 people on Saturday morning and everyone rolls on everything they can possibly equip to try to keep the LFR gear in-guild, and then it is traded around if someone else needs it more. I’m not thrilled with the system, but can’t really complain.

    • December 20, 2011 6:21 pm

      Oof, yeah. It certainly ensures that the gear will go to the guildmates you want it to go to – but I really wouldn’t want to be one of those PuGs. :P

  8. December 20, 2011 10:02 am

    I agree with Squelchy. If you’re eligible to win more than 1 item off a boss, its not uncommon for said player to roll need on all those items in a LFR group. But Bliz needs to implement a system where if you win one of the items via roll then your other rolls are rendered invalid or made so it’s impossible to win more than 1 item off the same boss.

    Like the person who won 2 of the same tokens off a particular boss or the other guy who won both weapons off the last encounter in DS this week. Needless to say he promptly left the raid gp once both items were looted.

    • December 20, 2011 6:22 pm

      From what I’ve read lately on the official forums, it looks like this is something they’re really working on. Hopefully they find some kind of a fix in the next week or two. *Fingers crossed!*

  9. AliPally permalink
    December 20, 2011 10:51 am

    I have not stepped into LFR at all, but most of the people in my raid group have.
    We got 6/7 Firelands heroic before 4.3 came out; that does not mean our gear is all ilvl 391 or more, far from it. I still have plenty of 378 items, so I do feel a bit miffed that some guy who dinged 85 only last week in our guild now has a number of 384/390 items after a couple of LFR raids, which are better than what I have.
    I know, QQ, but then again if non-raiders are complaining about ‘proper’ raiders ‘stealing’ their loot in LFR, then surely I am entitled to moan about how easy it has been for them to out-gear me. That’s probably why most of my raid has been doing LFR too.

    • December 20, 2011 6:33 pm

      I can totally understand your frustration, Ali. I guess the thing is that traditional raiders have the benefit of knowing that we *will* outgear people who only run Raid Finder … eventually. How long that takes is dependent upon how successful our raid groups are, and how lucky we are with rolls. Not much consolation right now, I know. :P

  10. Kess permalink
    December 20, 2011 11:21 am

    There is one aspect to all of this that I think you are overlooking. Some players are just plain bad. For context, my main, a holy paladin, is in a guild that has had trouble raiding consistently for some time now, so we were barely into Firelands when 4.3 launched. My guild has begun to pull together for Dragon Soul, but we’ve still got a ways to go, gear-wise, to be on par with guild that have been clearing Firelands for months, so LFR holds great attraction for us as a way to close the gap.

    I ran both LFRs last week, coming in at 1-2 for healing/absorption done for all bosses. Where I might have been getting 15-22k hps, depending on the fight, I was seeing the bottom 2 healers at around 7-9k. There were times, especially on the Deathwing fights, where I felt myself pushed, where if I’d not been using every GCD to push out heals or had run OOM, we would have lost either a tank or several dps and probably failed the encounter.

    Geared and skilled players help to ensure the success of the raid. Never mind the fact that the encounters are tuned to be much easier than normal modes. In some cases, that just barely makes up for the players who stand in the fire or who heal in slow motion. The fact is that if it were only ever non-raiders who did LFR, many groups would never complete them.

    • December 20, 2011 6:42 pm

      You have several great points here. I think I did somewhat overlook raid groups who didn’t have Firelands on farming status before 4.3 dropped, and just how necessary some pieces from LFR might be. (That said, there are pieces for nearly every slot available in the new dungeons as well, at only a 6 iLv decrease – for those weeks when you can’t win what you need in LFR.)

      I haven’t seen a Raid Finder group that seemed pushed to its limits – yet. I’m definitely not arguing that they aren’t out there, I’ve just been fortunate that I haven’t been a part of one. I think that we need to remember that there is a big difference between people like Newtonium described above who are intentionally not doing their fair share, and people who are inexperienced and undergeared. Raid Finder, I’d argue, is specifically a place that is designed to be forgiving for the inexperienced and undergeared, based upon the way that it’s tuned. Does that make it any less frustrating to see it happening, and to know you’re picking up the slack? Not really.

      It’s very unlikely that traditional raiders will ever leave Raid Finder completely, although we are probably going to see less mains in there as time goes on. There’s always that overgeared tank who makes you Zul’Gurub run a breeze, or a DPS who’s doing twice the damage of everyone else in your 5 man combined. I agree, it’s a part of the system because people either want their Valor Points, or they actually enjoy 5 mans and/or Raid Finder. Overgeared players will still be a part of LFR as patch 4.3 goes on, I just doubt we’ll ever see as many of them as we do right now.

  11. Gorbag permalink
    December 20, 2011 12:50 pm

    I think loot distribution in any setting revolves around the issue of what is fair vs what is just. I would define “fair” to mean each person has an equal chance to win, and “just” to mean the person who deserves most to win, does. All loot distribution systems fall on a spectrum with more fair on one end and more just on the other. Systems at either extreme are less popular than those in the middle of the spectrum.

    The most fair way to distribute loot is by random roll, all class and role restrictions ignored. Each person in the group has exactly the same chance to win each item. This is clearly inefficient, as players may end up with loot they have no use for (priest wins plate shoulders, warrior wins cloth boots), as well as being open to the possibility of extremely unjust outcomes (a rogue wins every drop all night, and nobody else gets anything).

    The other end of the spectrum is a loot council, which is inherently unfair since distribution is at the whim of a few select players, but when executed well results in maximum justice – each player gets the loot they deserve according to the standards of their guild community. Fairness is synonymous with equality, which can be evaluated mathematically, but justice is highly personal; loot council systems are rare because it is unusual to find groups of people with identical perceptions of justice.

    I think the blizzard system leans toward fairness, with class and role restrictions intended to make distribution fit within the broadest and most shared definition possible. I think your ethical questions attempt to define what is just, and help to clarify why blizzard tries so hard to avoid questions of justice I their built in systems of distribution. All of the systems you proposed involved subjective measures of who most deserves to win, and therefore fails to be fair.

    The same conflict between fair and just occurs in political debates over how wealth should be distributed. Conservatives see tax breaks and welfare programs as unfair, while liberals see unregulated distribution of wealth as unjust. If you solve the LFR loot system, you may solve some much larger problems as well :)

    • December 20, 2011 6:49 pm

      Loved the comment, Gorbag!

      I agree, Blizzard’s systems do and *must* lean towards the side of fair rather than just. As we’ve seen in many of the comments above, the idea of who “deserves” a piece of loot are extremely subjective and varied, and there’s no way players would stand for Blizzard to choose one standard above another and implement a loot system accordingly.

      As I said in the post, I wouldn’t necessarily advocate any of the options I outlined. What I do think it clear, however, is that a “just” loot system could never be handed down to us by Blizzard. The only chance we have of that happening is by players policing their own actions, as many of us do when we choose to pass a piece of loot we won to another guild member who needs it more. Will any of us be willing to do that for strangers in a hostile environment like Raid Finder? I still doubt it. :P

  12. Ngita permalink
    December 20, 2011 7:14 pm

    If someone is their and its an upgrade for them they are entitled to roll. I have much more issues with people who keep duplicates when they cant use duplicates. roll to trade or roll to deny someone else an upgrade then minor details like are they a raider or alt or casual .

    Oh and as someone currently 7/8 and ever so close on Madness, I don’t actually have any upgrades from normal DS. An over abundance of tokens for other classes and zero spirit loot of any sort(as a healer)

    • December 20, 2011 7:53 pm

      Yeah, the duplicates thing is a giant problem. I’ve been in groups where the person has traded it to the next high roller, and groups where they haven’t. I can’t wait to see that fixed.

      I feel your pain with DS drops. I think I had one upgrade before we defeated Madness, and I’ve gotten one more since then. My guild likes to joke that I have uncommonly lucky loot rolls, but the truth is that I’ve been horribly unlucky so far this tier. :P

  13. December 21, 2011 3:33 am

    This was a really interesting post. I’ve been doing LFR on my main in a semi guild group (anywhere from 8-10 people) as well as my healing alts just for fun. I have definitely been in groups where I felt that my contribution was a disproportionate contributor to overall success – and mind you that’s not at all a complaint! I’m there because I want to be. I’ve explained fights, done the most healing (with my undergeared Druid alt and my paladin) and generally felt like I had as much right to loot dropping as anyone else. That’s “as much,” not more. ;) I have only felt guilty winning items for alts. Is it fair to take from mains? Generally I feel like if you’re there and contributing at all to the group’s overall success, you are entitled to roll on the loot. I have two piece because of a raid finder item, and with 6 folks on our token (in a ten man) there’s no telling when I’ll manage four. If it helps my guild’s progression even short term I will take it, which sounds awfully mercenary, I suppose.

    To me it’s a question of various social contracts. In LFR, by joining a group I agree to: DPS things at an acceptable level, not pull aggro, explain a fight if necessary, and keep myself alive as best I can. In return, I’ll receive (at the least) 250 VP and a chance for loot I am eligible to roll on, just like all the other folks. The thing is – there’s no way of knowing for whom LFR is ‘the end’ and has BiS upgrades and which folks are (like me) seeking upgrades for normal and heroic raids. For all I know, the raids are composed of entirely the latter. I may stop rolling on gear for my alts, though. They don’t “need” it to do LFR which is all they’ll be doing!

    A very thought provoking post, thanks again!

    • December 21, 2011 6:08 pm

      Thanks for reading, Vid, and for the comment!

      I guess your stance does sound a bit “mercenary,” but I can’t say with certainty that I wouldn’t do the same. I’m in a weird position at the moment because I really *don’t* need anything from LFR on my main, so I’m dealing mostly in hypotheticals whereas many other raiders may actually have items in LFR that would be upgrades for them.

      It’s not terribly difficult to spot alts or non-raiders in LFR – troll shoulders are usually a dead giveaway. :P Regardless, there’s really no chance that I would go through and inspect every single person who rolls on an item I want to make sure that they don’t actually need it more than I do. That’s not exactly convenient, and LFR is all about convenience.

      I’m not sure what my future with LFR will be after writing this post. My main won’t be doing it for gear or Valor, but my alts? I’m still making up my mind about that.

  14. December 21, 2011 11:22 am

    I personally experienced some anxiety over this exact issue. 3 Hunters including myself in the RF madness end of Dragon Soul. Hunter A and I (Hunter B) were doing approximately the same 30k dps, Hunter C was doing around 13k in total….he was terribad to say the least.

    Now, onto the gear…Hunter A has mostly Heroic level FL gear, me in primarily FL normal gear, Hunter C in a mish mash of Dungeon/Justice/Valor gear. So the bow drops off Deathwing…who “deserved” it? well, Hunter C was clearly the most needy for it. Hunter A was most deserving based on contribution (he was slightly ahead of me by about 500 dps), then me in the middle neither being the”top” dps contributor nor the least geared.

    Well, the argument in this article comes into play here perfectly! Hunter A did not NEED it…AT ALL! He had the ranged bow from Rag (albeit normal version) and the RF bow from Deathwing was a side grade at best…not an upgrade (though the proc is a nice plus). More to the point, based on his other normal DS gear, he would clearly replace it very quickly through his normal Raid team’s progression. Hunter C I suspect was an alt….honestly, it seemed like an alt toon that the player was just trying to get better gear on. Now for me…if I had won the item, would I have indeed eventually replaced it? sure. Soon, later? who knows.

    In the end it goes to the point I always make that when it comes to loot distribution…it is NEVER FAIR! EVER EVER EVER! By its very essence someone is going to get something that someone else wanted or needed. Ergo: One person loses, one person gains. Its the nature of the beast to be honest.

    What SHOULD happen is that players should be more honest about their needs. Hunter A should have done a quick inspection and passed for Hunter B or C. He should have thought for a second and said…”Hey, its not a big deal for me…I should pass” But he has no desire nor motivation to do so. LFR and LFD essentially promote selfishness in the player base, we should not be surprised when players act selfishly.

    • December 21, 2011 5:46 pm

      “players should be more honest about their needs”

      Yes, this is *exactly* what I had in mind. It’s not a question of whether the actual roll system should work any differently – it really can’t. It’s a question of whether we honestly feel that we should roll “Need” on every item we’re able to roll “Need” on. This is a problem I spend too much time worrying about even within my own raid group, especially as we get into the more difficult fights in a tier. When we hit a wall in progression, that wall is almost always an issue with not having not enough DPS – not a problem of healing throughput or tanks needing more survivability. So do I really want to Need on an item over a DPSer who might also need it, knowing that by doing so I may be holding the group back? It’s a much easier question to answer inside of a traditional raid group than it is in Raid Finder. There’s no guarantee I’ll ever group with anyone from a LFR run again, so I’m really not contributing to the success of any visible group if I pass on an item in order to see it go to someone in greater need.

      I also agree that LFR and LFD have (unintentionally) promoted a greater emphasis on gear acquisition than before, and that this does sometimes lead to selfishness. As I’ve said many times before, anonymity is a scary thing.

      Thanks so much for the insightful comment!

    • BMFW permalink
      December 22, 2011 6:48 pm

      Your example is pretty bad here. Ranged weapon dmg is #1 for Hunters, even ahead of agility. If it was an upgrade, (which it was, not a ‘side-grade’ like you try to claim, 390>384) then he should have rolled on it and congrats to him for winning it. This is coming from someone who may never see madness on even 10 man.

  15. December 21, 2011 6:38 pm

    I think you are looking at loot through too narrow a lens. There are two views of loot: Loot as Investment and Loot as Reward.

    Your post is almost entirely looking at the issue using the Loot as Investment paradigm. But the other view is just as valid and–more importantly–just as motivational for the individual players.

    Who needs the loot more? Who deserves the loot more? Two different questions with different answers.

    Under the Loot as Reward view, the ethical thing to do would be to give the reward to person who contributed the greatest amount to the success of the group. This would mean that loot should be given first to the people at the top of the meters. This is most likely to be the normal raiders.

    Of course, that result probably makes you recoil. Loot is both Reward and Investment. Denying one set of people the loot on Investment grounds is just as bad as denying the other set the loot on Reward grounds.

    Thus, the best solution is just to let everyone roll, and let Lady Chance sort things out according to her whims.

    • December 21, 2011 7:11 pm

      I agree that it’s very important to take into consideration what motivates people to raid (or to do LFR) in the context of these questions. I’m not sure, however, that I understand why what’s discussed here is incompatible with the notion of “Loot as Reward.” From reading your post, it doesn’t sound as if there’s any guarantee that the player who does the highest DPS / healing / etc. would always get the item in question – rather, as you point out, guilds who preference this value would be more likely to have a free DKP system. In contrast, I would think that guilds who value “Loot as Investment” would be more likely to ensure that an upgrade goes to the highest DPSer, etc. because this would be an investment in the further success of the group.

      Regardless, this post isn’t seeking to change the way loot rolls work (aside from fixing the +Need roll system, which I think we can all agree is a bit of a disaster), but rather asks what we feel is “right” to roll on. Would someone motivated by Loot as Reward want to roll on a sidegrade or an iLv downgrade? That seems as if it would go against their value system.

  16. Homeschool permalink
    December 21, 2011 7:10 pm

    You’re not just debating the ethics of loot, here – you’re debating the ethics of economic systems in society. Consider communism vs. capitalism (which bears some strong similarities.) In one, if a person is able to achieve wealth (assuming they do it in accordance with the social contracts), then they are justified in having that wealth – even if they throw it in a vault and let it gather dust. In the other, if a person achieves wealth while another has need, it’s required of them to make that available.

    I don’t know that there’s an answer to which is better. I know that – in life OR in game – if I put in the effort, I expect to reap the rewards, even if there are others who “need” it more. While personally I usually don’t roll on things that I don’t have a strong need for (such as same item level, but different stat balances), I believe that I have the right to. I wasn’t kicking back with a lemonade and letting the other healer carry the slack – why should I be any less justified in claiming the item just because they intend to tackle more content?

    • December 21, 2011 7:41 pm

      Eep!! While I suppose you’re right, I’d like to keep it as WoW-focused as possible. I’m not a fan of getting politics all mixed up in my leisure activities. I used to kick people from my vent server for bringing up anything involving politics. (Of course they were then allowed back in, I just felt it was a good way to make the point. :P)

      The thing is, Blizzard would never take an active roll and say “you cannot roll on X because you clearly already have a better item for that slot.” We’re not going to be limited by our developers, and so the only question is whether we will choose to self-police our rolls in LFR. You have the right to roll on that sidegrade, but for whatever reason you choose not to exercise that right.

      Also, I have to tell you – the mental image I just got of someone kicking back with a lemonade with one of those picnic baskets and umbrellas while everyone else ran around furiously healing the Madness encounter .. well that just made my week. :D

  17. shelly permalink
    December 21, 2011 11:54 pm

    I just set foot int he raidfinder for the first time yesterday after the reset. I am moderately geared and the intended audience of the raid finder (time restraints) and I went in as dos, yes, lots of “let’s get this going” but far less “I is R leeter than u” than I expected. I was firmly middle of the pack in dos and honestly, I was happy enough with my performance to get my alts in there when they can. As far as 4.3 has gone, it has breathed new life into my 85’sperformance that was needed. And I honestly think that Tuesday and Wednesday are likely the best days to put yourself in there as a single because people are getting it done before their raid night and so far out of my one try, Tuesdays are a big success.

    • December 22, 2011 6:56 pm

      I know that several of my guild’s raiders make an attempt to get into Raid Finder groups on Tuesdays and Wednesdays after our scheduled runs are over. I think you’re right that this is probably one of the best times to queue. Glad to hear that you’re enjoying the Raid Finder!

  18. Squelchy permalink
    December 22, 2011 10:20 am

    I’m not sure, given the very nature of LFR as a group of you and 24 of your closest strangers (to play on Brutallus’ phrase) that anything other than a better-implemented Need+ system could ever work (one that takes specs into account, not just roles). As others have said, there is absolutely no way to know whether the DK who did 6K on Madness is more or less deserving of the 2-hander than the arms warrior who did 30K. (Okay, that’s an extreme example.)

    It’s somewhat facile and unhelpful to go back to my usual fallback: “it’s all just pixels.” Even given that, one can be left with a profound sense of unfairness if the pixels pull away from you every time you see the right ones. (Holy paladin who took my tanking helm from WoE: I’m looking at you.) But raging against random rolls and advocating some kind of “I deserve this” system, as I have seen some do, is just plain wrongheaded.

  19. December 23, 2011 2:53 pm

    First off, this is an excellent thought provoking post Tzufit! Coming from a casual 10 man raiding guild we’re not running as a guild on a regular basis, however we do have a event on Saturday if people wish to go that is in no way mandatory.

    It’s interesting that in my previous runs in LFR I’ve always considered the drops to be more of a luck factor than applying any ethical consideration to the distribution of loot. I do think, like many others have stated – that there needs to be some sort of main spec consideration put in place.

    Anyhow, it was a wonderfully great read and thank you for that!

  20. Ironshield permalink
    December 23, 2011 4:57 pm

    I have only scanned the other comments so apologies if I’m repeating something, but I have a few points I’d like to add.

    1. From what I’ve seen so far the biggest issue I’ve seen people getting upset over is guilds taking a chunk of people and rolling on everything and then distributing it among themselves. On the flip side of this, my guild has 3 tanks, and we had intended to run together and roll among ourselves to give the tank prepared to run as DPS a fair shout at the gear… it hasn’t actually aligned the stars to do it properly which I’m quite thankful for seeing the vehemence with which some people object to this.

    2. Any system that judges someone’s RIGHT to loot is much more likely to exclude the least needy people, which strikes me as potentially massively unfair.

    3. personally I quite like the idea of the way loot is being handled but there are some obvious kinks. But of course if you do win both tokens, it’s really not difficult to see who rolled next highest on said item and trade it with them… any system can be exploited or improved by player choices / behaviour. Try to set a good example by behaving well and sooner or later you’ll be rewarded with a good roll that goes your way.

  21. Pwnieboy permalink
    January 5, 2012 1:01 am

    I’m fairly sure I’m the druid that one two tokens off the same boss, and let it be known that I offered the second token to the next highest roll.

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