The Azeroth Ethicist: Why (or why not) to take a player

Allison Robert
A. Robert|12.27.08

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The Azeroth Ethicist: Why (or why not) to take a player
I had a lot of fun reading the comments on two articles we ran concerning a knotty moral issue, and readers wrote a lot of interesting things about how the problem could be considered from both an ingame and nongame perspective.

This article's about a problem that's existed since the game's launch, but seems to have become more common since Wrath's release due to a substantial demographic shift with plate classes (more on this in a bit). Simply put; is it appropriate to turn down a potential member of a group over loot competition? Players generally don't want to face the prospect of losing a roll, especially if they've been endlessly running a dungeon trying to get a particular piece. But while you'll get a lot of sympathy if you've run, say, heroic Nexus 17 times trying to get the War Mace of Unrequited Love, people will generally elect to take a competitor if it's a choice between that and not doing the dungeon at all.

I'm writing this largely from the perspective of a tank who PuGs a lot and not infrequently gets saddled with recruiting additional members while trying to comply with peoples' requests*. Thankfully, on an average run people are happy to go with whoever's in LFG or advertising for a dungeon run in the trade channel. But there are a distinct minority of runs where players get fairly insistent over not taking a potential competitor, especially if they have seen a needed item drop previously and keep losing the roll. So far the funniest has been trying to pick up a third DPS for a heroic Strat:

HUNTER: Please don't take another hunter or an enhance shammy.

HOLY PRIEST: Can we avoid picking up another clothie or caster?

DPS WARRIOR: No Death Knights or retadins please.

ME: Well, that eliminates...uh...almost everyone.

If people get really unpleasant about it I tend to remind them (politely) that:
  • They may very well be turning down a player who may not need or even want the drop in question.
  • Even if they do, people are often willing to pass to someone who's been trying to get a drop for weeks.
  • The dungeons aren't going anywhere. I think we can all be fairly certain that Blizzard intends to keep them in the game.
  • And if I'm irritated, a somewhat gentler version of: Haven't we been waiting long enough to get this run going?
Personally I don't think it's really all that fair to discriminate against potential group members on the basis of loot they do or don't need, especially when you're just tossing a 5-man/heroic run together, but I will also admit that I can afford to be fairly cavalier about it. Tanks generally don't have issues getting a run, so I may very well be underestimating the frustration factor of a DPS who has to spend significantly more time than I do getting a group and a shot at a drop they may already have lost multiple times. If I were in that position, I wouldn't necessarily feel great about losing a drop for the umpteenth time just because my group leader couldn't be arsed to ask about it before adding people.

Requests like these are cropping up a lot more lately, particularly with players competing against the plethora of Death Knights now leveling through Outland and Northrend. This has run the gamut from a DPS Warrior who didn't want to risk losing a ring to a DPS Death Knight, to a tanking Paladin who was heartily sick of doing the same dungeon a million times waiting for boots to drop, to a Death Knight who was desperate for anything better than leveling greens but kept losing rolls to people whose toons spent months at 70. I understand the impulse, but sometimes people will get fairly nasty over having to accommodate potential competition, and I have actually dropped a heroic group where this occurred. When a DPS DK starts demanding that I uninvite a fellow DPS DK from a group because the player is certain to roll on "his" weapon, I take that as a sign for me to get the hell out of Dodge. Congrats, buddy; now you need another DPS and a tank.

I don't think it's right to put a group leader in the position of having to judge who's more "deserving" of an item that may not drop anyway, but I can't pretend that that's not going to happen, or that the leader doesn't have some measure of responsibility. In an ideal world, the group wouldn't dump the job on the leader, and would be able to suggest available players for all the needed slots in a group with a minimum of loot competition (either because people didn't need certain drops or were willing to pass) -- but I also won't pretend that this happens all the time either.

Is there any fair means of determining whether you should invite potential loot competition to a group? Is it right to turn someone down for a slot because they need the same drop as someone who's already in the group? And does the situation change if a group member's been after a drop for a long time with no luck? Is it really all that right anyway for people to "call" certain drops as their own before the run even gets started?

*Yes, life would probably be a lot easier if I didn't PuG and stuck only to guild runs, but I actually enjoy pugging. It's a good way to meet new people, and get information and gossip from around the server. And if I didn't PuG, I would have no awful PuG stories to write about here. Win-win-win.
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