Nibbling on the rock
In my post on guild leadership, I noted that a big rock on which many guilds foundered was the distribution of loot and other benefits. I’m going to take a deeper look at that today.
I’ll begin by waxing philosophical. Specifically – in the end the method does not matter. What matters is that everyone trust that they will get theirs eventually. Let me give an example which, on the surface, was madness. I knew a guild leader who masterlooted EVERYTHING. And the distribution was based upon what SHE PERCEIVED TO BE THE NEEDS OF THE GUILD. Did it work? Yes – not least because she believed every guild member was important to the guild. It worked till she burned out on playing – whereupon her successor did every miserable thing you can picture being done. The flipside is that every system is vulnerable to abuse.
In my experience the absolutely critical factor to the success of any guild loot distribution system is that everyone believe it to be fair or equitable. More crassly, “Eventually, I will get mine.” The critical word in that crass statement is “eventually”, because the longer those lower on the chain have to wait while seeing those higher get loot, the more likely it is that they walk.
Let me divert briefly (but relevantly) to note that there are really two systems that need discussion. The first is for BoPs – in other words, dividing the loot between the members of the party/raid/whatever. The second is for everything else, and can apply not only to (BoE) instance loot submitted to the guild for distribution but may also include crafts and mats and even gold. And eventually, tieing both together, party selection for higher level runs.
I’m going to look at some systems – not in detail, but in general category, because within each category are numerous deviations. I’ll point out strengths and weaknesses. As always, I invite comments — additions and corrections. (That bit in the aboutme line about wanting to know more? I mean it).
The first category is simply luck-of-the-draw. Everything that drops gets rolled upon, and it belongs to the lucky winner. Usually this gets tweaked in some fashion — gear that’s obviously meant for class X with a X present has that person rolling need instead of greed, but… Often this works well with an enchanter in the group who can DE a generally unwanted BoP item and allow everyone to roll on the result (usually a shard, but it varies). NOTE this can also be used for selection of party members as well – provided there are several available, of course. I’ve seen it used as a total wild-card, and I’ve seen it with restrictions. hmmm, let me explain both.
As a total wildcard, the number of slots are identified, and everybody rolls. The high rollers fill slots till they’re done. The restrictions tend to be some form of reserved slots. Sometimes it’s a player, more often it’s a subdivision by task. Healer, Tank, DPS, CC, Guild Officer, all are examples. If you’ve several people and limited slots (instances) and self-selection isn’t enough to cut the list down, this works.
The second mechanism is bidding. A mechanism is done to give each player points, and the points are used as ‘coin’ to bid upon the drop(s). Guilds can use this mechanism for outside the instance as well – again, for party/raid selection, and for getting limited mats from the guild bank. Though I said I was going to avoid specifics, I’m going to put one interesting variation I saw in here just because, well, it’s interesting (and it’s my blog -grin). The guild issued bid-points for things turned into the guild bank – gold, mats, finished goods – with some restrictions on the last. (just because you crafted 100 brown robes doesn’t mean you got points for that many…) In that guild, a significant quantity of items in the bank were put up as a guild-based auction house with the currency being bid-points. And bidpoints could be used for getting into the “open” slots of the raid (they always kept 20% as “any class of appropriate level”). It was interesting, but I wasn’t a member long enough to know if it worked.
The third general mechanism I see for distribution tends to be more common for outside the instance, though there is some use inside. I mentioned it as my example: the GM/officers decide who gets the goods, the slots, and so forth.
I have seen variations of all three general systems work very, very well, and I’ve seen them fail spectacularly. To return to the philosophy, the success requires that everyone believe they will get a ‘fair shake’. The rough periods are when there isn’t much of (whatever) available. All three are subject to abuses – the game doesn’t really have a mechanism to ensure that the officer in charge of the bank (for example) doesn’t just say “screw you” and walk off with the contents – a small fortune in some cases.
In sum, a wise guildmaster will not be the one who picks the “best” system, but the one who uses whatever system is selected in such fashion the entire guild benefits and KNOWS they’re all benefiting.
I’m going to close with one more digression. Blizzard says that patch 2.3 will include a guild bank – that is, one all guild members can see and deposit into and which doesn’t count as a character’s bank slots. Since the next patch is 2.2, all other details are shaky. I’m looking forward to this with anticipation and dread. It SHOULD solve the embezzlement risk. Maybe. I hope. They are also allegedly working on other in-game guild support tools.