Gold Capped: GDKP raiding for fun and profit

Want to get Gold Capped? Every week, Basil "Euripides" Berntsen takes a short break from building a raiding guild on Drenden (US-A) to write up a guide that will help you make or spend gold. Check out the Call to Auction podcast, and feel free to email Basil any comments, questions or hate mail!

A very interesting form of raiding has been gaining popularity. GDKP stands, literally, for "gold dragon kill points." It's a badly named system, but essentially, it means that instead of some effort-based DKP system, people participating in the raid use real currency: gold.

So what is this GDKP thing, anyway?

In a GDKP raid, all items of value, whether they're BoP gear, Primordial Saronite, BoE drops, Precious's Ribbon or quest items, are auctioned off in an open bidding system to all participants. The person willing to pay the most for it will get the item in exchange for gold, and at the end of the night, all the gold that was collected is divided out among the raiders.

How can I trust this guy?

The system sounds simple, but the first question on everyone's mind is one of trust. Once you're in a GDKP run, the first thing you need to ask for is the rules. In writing, in game. The most worrying part of a GDKP run is that one person holds all the money until it's redistributed. You have to trust that person, and if a year of reading the Drama Mamas has taught me anything, it's that there are some people in this game who aren't worth trusting -- and sometimes it's hard to tell who they are.

The solution to this problem is usually pasted along with any description of a GDKP run: there are at least two blue posts where Blizzard said that they would consider running off with all the money a "scam," assuming the rules were clearly stated in game (not in Vent only).

The Game Master staff does not frequently intervene in looting disputes; however, we may provide assistance if a player blatantly attempts to scam others by promising a loot method that is not upheld. [...] If the looting method is not upheld, open an in-game petition so that our Game Master staff may review the issue further and take appropriate action in accordance with our policies.

In an incident where a Master Looter fails to maintain such a "cash for drops" agreement and disappears with money belonging to players, we would investigate such an incident as a scam.

Now, this doesn't mean that Blizzard condones this type of loot system. In fact, they seem to prefer that we just raid with friends. Also, with the massive amounts of other forms of spam, griefing, hacking, etc. that they have to deal with, if you do get stolen from by a GDKP leader, you may well have a hard time getting Blizzard's attention on the situation, let alone getting your money back.

The much more practical solution is to run with groups run by people who have something to lose, people who raid in a serious guild that cares about its image. Also, consider not putting up much of a fight if a reputable leader announces in the beginning of the raid that they plan on skimming some BoE pieces or saronites from the pot. This compensation makes them far less likely to blatantly steal. It's human nature.

So a combination of factors will keep the average GDKP participant safe: the deterring effect of the threat of GM account action, the cost of changing servers and possibly character names to be able to interact with other end-game raiders again, and any kickbacks for organizing the raid seem to, on average, keep pot theft to a minimum.

I like this, but nobody does them on my realm.

This system can be awesome for raiders who don't have time to farm (or better yet, auctioneer), as they will get paid for raiding. It's also awesome for people who have cash to spend on upgrades, but not the gear to get into the content they want to see. It's still a relatively new concept, though. How can you go about jump-starting one of these?

Evangelize. If you really want to start a GDKP run, you have to educate people about how it works. Be prepared to answer a lot of questions, and get the help of like-minded individuals. Advertise for a while before the first run in your realm forums.

Target your audience. You will need a lot of skilled raiders willing to raid for money. You also need people with money. The balance between the two will determine how far your run gets every week. Conveniently, Blizzard adds a monthly 5% DPS/healing/health bonus to the mix, which allows you to take weaker (and hopefully, richer) players, thereby increasing the average raider's pot. Consider talking to some of the raiders in your realm's strong raiding guilds. They may have alts they want to gear or be willing to come when they get benched. Either way, they'll know the fights and generally be more skilled than your run-of-the-mill trade chat pickup. If you can get one able to unlock ICC hard modes, you'll even be able to get lootship down, which is probably easier than Saurfang normal and generates a much larger pot than lootship normal mode.

Pick a good time. Schedule the run for a time slot that doesn't prevent raiders in the big raiding guilds from coming.

Many people run GDKP groups by hand with a shared spreadsheet or just noting down the successful bid amounts on paper; however, check out this addon if you want something more automated. Make sure to test it somewhere you can't spam trade, though, as there have been reports of the addon wigging out and spamming in a loop.

Only the skilled should get end-game rewards!

GDKP as a concept causes a lot of debate. It seems simple to me; however, there is a lot of opposition in certain camps, and some realms' cultures and average players aren't immediately enthusiastic. Here are some of the common counterarguments I hear about the GDKP system:

End-game PvE gear is for skilled players only, and gold doesn't equate to raiding skill. People shouldn't be able to waltz into a 25-man ICC group, stand in Defiles and buy a best-in-slot weapon for 30,000g. My response to this is that nobody is forcing anyone into anything. Hypothetical buyers are costing themselves 30,000g that they won't be able to use in Cataclysm and getting only gear that will be near worthless in a couple of months. In addition, while the skill of obtaining gold isn't related to raiding, the converse is also true. That's over 1,000g for every single raider in there, which represents a couple of hours less of dailies and farming.

It's not fair, because instead of gear going to people who raid the best or the most, it's going to people who may be completely unskilled but be good at making gold. The only difference between a standard DKP loot system and the GDKP system is that when you get outbid by someone, instead of consoling yourself by saying, "Ah well, they had to work harder for it, and I'm that much closer to next in line," you can say, "Ah well, they had to work hard for that gold, and now that I've taken it from them, I can buy the next one or something else." Instead of imaginary work based points that disappear when your guild stops raiding, you get hard cash that you can use to avoid grinding, buy gear (auction house BoE or GDKP loot) or spend on vanity stuff.

Finding the balance

If a GDKP group is to succeed, it needs to have some players who are so strong that they can carry any less geared and experienced players. I've heard horror stories of groups that had such a low average performance that they didn't progress far, and none of the bad players had enough money to bid much on the gear. The few good players who were basically doing all the work barely got more than they would have by doing dailies or farming. Balance is everything! If the group has some really weak players, consider raising the minimum bid, make sure they bring enough cash to make the run worth it to everyone and make sure you have the heavy hitters to progress to where the money is.

Also, no matter how much money you have, if you stand in a Defile, you will wipe the raid. In fact, there are several points in most any raid where a single key-turning Doofus McMoneybags can cost everyone a repair bill. Enforce minimum raiding skill standards, and consider having a penalty for if someone repeats a mistake too often or seems incapable of learning how to not wipe the raid on Festergut.

bringin' sexy back!

Being an auctioneer is like being able to print money (or gold, as it were). Wait, that doesn't make sense ... You can print on gold, but you can't print gold. That would be closer to transmutation? I can transmute titanium, but that's only worth it if the price of saronite is low enough to justify the time spent making it. ... Whatever, I'll figure it out later. Making gold? Every week, Gold Capped will teach you the tricks of the trade, from setting up your auction addons and user interface, to cross-faction arbitrage, to learning how to use your trade skills.