In the Burning Crusade, an Enchanter's job in a raid or dungeon was to disenchant the boss drops that no one wanted into Large Prismatic Shards, and the entire group would roll for them.
This was considered the standard, and was the fairest way to divide up the loot. Instead of rolling on the bind on pick-up items that were not wanted, in order to sell them to a vendor for profit or to help pay for the repair bill, they were turned into something more useful. Prismatics sold for more at auction than a vendor would pay, and the shards could be saved for when the characters needed something enchanted.
All of this changed in Wrath of the Lich King. Suddenly, many Enchanters were acting like anyone who expected to roll for shards were selfish and clueless, and it has since become the norm for the Enchanter to keep all of the shards.
This week, I'll be discussing the reasons behind the change, and reassessing just how fair the change really is.
Dream Shards vs. Prismatic Shards
The primary reason for the shift lies in the differences between the two types of shards, Dream and Prismatic. Prismatic Shards are merely an Enchanting reagent, while Dream Shards are also used as currency by Enchanters in order to learn new enchants.
The boss drops in Outland then clearly belong to everyone. When there is no Enchanter present, people roll for the unwanted item and vendor it. An Enchanter's contribution is merely to make the item more enticing.
In Northrend, the Enchanter has the opportunity to turn the drops into something that could further their career, and this produces the gray area.
Arguments for and against disenchanting for keeps
1. I paid to level this profession, and so I should get to keep the rewards.
R. This argument doesn't hold much water with me. After all, this wasn't true prior to Northrend dungeoning.
2. Disenchanting the drops is the same as herbing, mining or skinning in a dungeon. You don't ask those gatherers to share what they pick up, or worse yet, force them to put their goods up for a roll.
R. I don't personally agree with this argument either. After all, the contents of a mining node, an herb, or the skin from a mob, are not accessible to anyone else. If you run a dungeon without a gatherer, there is nothing that the other players get to keep because of your absence.
All of the players participate in downing a boss, and the loot is there as a reward for the group, whether it is in the form of an upgrade, a shard, or an item to be sold for profit. If a disenchanter is not present, other group members get some money.
Having a disenchanter claim all boss drops that won't be equipped actually takes something from the other players.
3. I need the shard to learn new recipes.
R. Do you really? How do we know that you're going to use it to purchase a recipe, and not just sell it on the Auction House for a large profit?
I don't mind passing a shard to an Enchanter that I know is still leveling, and still purchasing new recipes, but giving up a chance at an item that would be useful to, or lucrative for, me indefinitely doesn't seem fair.
4. I use them to level my craft.
R. An Enchanter that is still leveling probably does have the best claim to the shard. In a PuG setting, should we have to look you up on the armory? If no one knows you at all, would it be more fair to simply roll, because we don't know you? Should we roll if people have objections?
5. I can really only effectively farm the shards in dungeons, and if I had to roll on them each time, I'd never progress. There is no solid, self-sufficient way to get Dream Shards.
R. That is true, but shouldn't you be getting them from your guild? Why should strangers be passing things to you when you have friends and guild members who would (should) be happy to level you up?
6. You don't need Dream Shards for as many enchants as you needed Large Prismatics for in BC. Most likely, you'll sell it, and I'll have to buy it just to level.
R. This is probably the best argument in my book, when taken into context. It is true that the most popular weapon and raiding enchants don't use the Dream Shards. In fact, most of the ones that do are the super expensive enchants that only serious progression guilds will require, and in that case, most players can get those enchants within those guilds.
For example, the average player would probably choose to spend (10) Infinite Dust and (2) Greater Cosmic Essences for +50 spellpower to a weapon, rather than a whopping (30) Infinite Dust, (6) Dream Shards) and (6) Abyss Crystals for a mere +13 extra spellpower, totalling 63.
On the other hand, many enchants do require one or two, and they do sell on the Auction House for a fair amount, which leads back to the fairness of taking profit from someone else when they don't even know you.
Arguments for a different system
Given the above arguments, and the fact that many players are either fairly generous and easy going, or simply don't care to deal with auctioning the shards, it would seem that a quick discussion on how the shards are going to be handled at the beginning of a PuG would be the best way to handle it.
If people are not happy to let you take the shards for your own use, then it is probably not worth the effort or argument. Run the PuG, roll like everyone else, and don't group with them again.
In a guild setting, all shards should belong to the guild, who can pass them out to the Enchanters that really need them, as well as ensure that people who need enchants, and are giving business to Enchanters within the guild, get them.
Personally, I think that there should be an etiquette to the matter, and not simply a hard and fast rule that the shards belong to the Enchanter, whether you know him/her or not, and whether they intend to sell them or use them.
How do you handle the distribution of Dream Shards in PuGs and within your guild? How do you think they should be handled?