Any raiding guild is going to have to have systems in place to govern their raids – perhaps to determine who comes, what character you can bring, what prep materials you are supposed to have – but certainly the most significant is the system by which loot is determined.
There are dozens of loot systems and variations, and interestingly I’ve gotten a couple of questions from people now asking what the best loot system is. There isn’t a best one – the answer depends on your guild and your guild goals. However, in my opinion there is an overall philosophy to designing or choosing a loot system that you want to follow.
Here’s an example of something that happened in my last guild:
The guild used a loot master who would decide who got what loot. The idea was that loot was assigned where it would do the most good for the raid as a whole. Unfortunately one loot master interpreted that as simply where the loot was the biggest upgrade. It makes sense on the surface, however that’s a horrible system.
In early Wrath we were clearing Naxx. Several raiders quickly realized that if they got Naxx 10-man loot, they had no chance at loot for the same slot from Naxx 25, because people with blues would get it instead of them (since it was a bigger upgrade for the person in blues). Eventually it came out that people were passing on upgrades from 10-mans so they could get better ones from 25-man raids.
Some of the officers were furious – after all you never want your raid passing an opportunity for an upgrade – that’s bad for the raid’s progression. They felt these raiders were abusing the system.
But here’s the thing: the fault wasn’t in the raiders, it was in the system. Sure the raiders were gaming the loot system, but you should want them to do that!
Abusing the System is Good
Let’s face it, we’re all gamers. We’re going to game whatever system we can. But moreso you should want your raiders to do this. After all, you expect them to find every other angle to improve their character – best way to spend talents, best gems, best enchants, ideal rotations and macros. Why are you suddenly not wanting them to find the best way to improve their gear?
A loot system – indeed any system – should be designed to encourage the behavior you want.
Assume that the raiders will try to abuse the system and then use a system that encourages them do the things you want to get the most advantage out of it. This is why sales people are paid on commission — the company wants them to sell more, so awards them for selling more, often disproportionately so. The best sales people don’t care about their company. They’re motivated to make tons of money for themselves, which they do by gaming the system – which is deigned so that behavior is good for the company.
Let’s take a look at that “best upgrade” system. What that really does is punish people who actively work to improve their gear. If you farmed heroics to get your conquest emblems to get prepared for raiding… well, you’ll always lose to the person who didn’t do any work and showed up in their leveling blues. This system is encouraging people to have the worst gear possible when they show up to a raid. Because those are the people that are rewarded the most.
A random roll system, favored by a lot of casual guilds, encourages attendance since the more often you roll, the better your chance of winning. However it also encourages people to roll on every piece of gear, even ones that are sidegrades. After all, getting loot doesn’t change the chances of winning the next loot. The more you roll, the more you get. Ans so on.
The Best System
So in the end the best system for any guild system is the one that encourages the behavior that your guild wants. If you want to be doing cutting edge endgame progression and hardmodes, you want a loot system that rewards performance and attendance above all else. If you’re a casual friendly guild that occasionally runs Naxx for fun you probably want a system that rewards attendance, teamwork, and helping people out.
So when you’re thinking of a system, start with what behaviors you want to encourage. Then think of every possible way to abuse the system – and make sure the person who abuses it most is, by those actions, your the ideal raider for your guild.