In the spirit of last week's column about various loot issues, I decided to feature the following email today. It comes from a guild leader who is worried about the stat changes in Wrath and Cataclysm and how they might affect his guild's loot system. Is it time to ditch the dice?
I'm GM of a guild that has had a member pose a question about the way we do loot in raids. We are not a "hardcore" raiding guild though we do have around 2-4 scheduled raids per week both 10 man and 25 man. Our loot system was set up to try to be fair to and distribute gear throughout our members to help the entire guild grow and progress. We roll on gear and each member is allowed one main spec win, one off spec, and one tier piece per run. If you have won you are still allowed to roll on a piece that fits your character, but it someone rolls on it that hasn't won you will automatically lose to the person that hasn't won in that specific category. If all people have won something already it's just a high roll wins scenario.
We also have guidelines concerning which type of gear is most suited to a particular niche of character; i.e. tanks, healers, dps, etc. The system has worked for pretty well so far, but this one member brought up a valid point concerning leather and cloth healer gear in the future.
We were using hit rating and MP5 as a distinction between dps spellcaster gear and healer gear. The problem is that none of the leather or cloth gear in ICC that we could find has MP5 on it. We would give priority to whoever the gear suited; healers have priority on MP5 gear and dps for hit rating gear. We know that not all dps need the hit rating at this stage, but it worked until this was pointed out. Now we have to figure out a way to give leather and cloth healers a priority stat on gear. The member that brought this up suggested that we use haste; problem is that haste benefits both healers and dps spellcasters.
Now we have been entertaining the option of using EPGP or DKP for gear in raids. The problem with this is that neither me as GM or my raid leader have the time to keep track of the records for this stuff. We have been made aware that there are actual addons that will do this for us, but we are still not sure if this is the route for us to go. Some of our officers have also stated that they like our system, but we could really come up with a solution to the problem other than just opening up all spellcaster items to everyone no matter what the stats are on the gear. Basically if it's an upgrade you can roll on it. For now we are keeping our system, but we have little choice but to research other options since MP5 is going the way of the Dodo bird for Cataclysm anyway.
If you have any suggestions I would appreciate it.
Vinter of Reign of Glory on Fizzcrank realm
Hi, Vinter. First of all, let's address the issue at hand. MP5 as a stat hasn't been on cloth or leather armor throughout most of Wrath. A few cloth and leather items still had it as we leveled up and obtained blue gear from dungeons, but it's pretty clear that Blizzard actively phased out that stat on cloth and leather as we progressed through the raiding tiers. They put MP5 on plate and mail and spirit on cloth and leather. ICC didn't introduce this itemization, so you've actually been dealing with this issue for a long time, whether you knew it or not.
Part of the reason Blizzard is dumping MP5 is because they want to clarify the distinction between healer and DPS gear across all armor types. They want spirit to be a healer-only stat moving forward in Cataclysm. The only exceptions to this will be balance druids and elemental shaman. They will share gear with their resto counterparts, but they will have talents that convert spirit to hit. Thus, no spellcasting leather or mail gear will have hit. For cloth (and plate), spirit will be the stat that says "healer." All of this, of course, could change, but that is Blizzard's plan for now.
For systems like yours, Cataclysm is going to cause problems for an entirely different reason: reforging. In a nutshell, reforging will allow you to turn one stat on a piece of gear into another stat that you prefer. Currently, Blizzard says that this conversion will reduce the amount of the original stat by half. So, for example, 100 haste would become 50 mastery. Reforging therefore has the possibility of making nearly every item attractive to most specs. A discipline priest could roll on armor with hit, intending to replace hit with intellect or spirit. Likewise, a shadow priest could roll on armor with spirit, intending to replace spirit with haste or crit.
In theory, reforging a piece of gear would make it strictly worse than a piece of gear that is itemized well for you without reforging. Unfortunately, when it comes to WoW, theory and practice don't always coincide. As a ret/holy paladin, I am, in theory, supposed to wear strength and spellpower plate. I am reminded of the failure of theory every time I look at ret's best-in-slot DPS set that's chock full of leather armor and agility-heavy accessories, not to mention every time I put on my holy set and walk around looking like a resto shaman. It could very well turn out that reforged items will be best in slot for some specs.
What does this mean for loot systems? In my opinion, much will depend on the community's view of reforging -- and that view, in turn, will depend on Blizzard's itemization team. Will reforging become an essential tool to correct itemization problems? Will it merely serve as a crutch while players gear up after dinging 85? Will it be useless to competitive raiders? Will it become a necessary method for tweaking stats at the highest levels of play? Only time will tell.
I have a hunch, however, that the prevailing opinion of reforging will ultimately deem it inferior compared to keeping an item's stats intact. After all, the stat loss inherent to the conversion basically lowers the item level of a piece of gear. As a result, players will likely favor giving items to those who would use them as they are rather than to players who would reforge them. (The other question is whether players will be honest about their intentions for a piece of gear -- but that's a different topic.)
If your guild uses a system where you are rolling on loot with few restrictions, you will have to account for reforging in some way. Just like "need before greed," "main spec before offspec" or "main before alt," "original before reforging" could become the next widely accepted rule.
At the same time, Cataclysm will also provide an incentive, in the form of an unspecified mastery bonus, to using the type of armor your class is designed to use. Hopefully that will mean less competition for mail, leather and cloth pieces. Other slots, particularly weapons and trinkets, will still suffer from a multitude of interested specs. This circumstance, however, is nothing new.
That's why I'm surprised that the lack of MP5 cloth and leather has prompted such a reaction in Vinter's guild. Your guidelines still work. In fact, your loot caps are probably more effective than they were before. Yes, it's true that cloth and leather pieces are more difficult to categorize, but your players can still use their heads and determine which pieces are better for their particular spec and gear set.
For ICC and other Wrath tiers, you may want to open up the non-hit cloth and leather pieces to more rollers. At 85, spellcasting druids and shamans will share loot. These, to me, aren't reasons to toss out your entire loot system.
If you are thinking about changing your system for other reasons, I would recommend waiting until the Ruby Sanctum is released, most likely later this month. Use the proposed loot system there as a trial run, and only expand it to ICC and beyond if your officers and other guild members want to move ahead with it.
You will certainly have to address the reforging issue eventually. It can wait for now, but officers should start thinking about how they intend to address this issue before their guilds dive into WoW's 11th raiding tier.
A loot system is an extension of your guild's culture and personality. For Vinter's guild, rolling might be the best practice and it might not. Rolling has the advantage of being simple to understand and implement. It has the disadvantage of causing drama when a player feels like he or she "deserves" an item more, or when a player hits a lucky or unlucky streak (but loot caps can often circumvent this issue).
Some guilds may find that a more formal system suits them better. Some guilds simply can't imagine dealing with a loot system that isn't based on points in some way, and that's all right. Point-based systems have the option of ignoring reforging if they so choose. Officers can say, "You paid for it -- do what you have to."
The bottom line about loot systems is this: Are your players generally happy with the results of your system and do your officers have enough time and support in order to maintain the system? If you can answer "yes" to both questions, then you should consider your system a success. If not, then it may be time to make some adjustments.
As for loot-system addons, yes, they do exist. In fact, I'm not sure if it's even possible to use EPGP without an addon. However, I've never worked with these addons personally, so I'll pass on commenting. I'm sure other officers will be happy to make some recommendations below!