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Elder Charms, LFR loot, and perception of the doubly random

Matthew Rossi

One of the things I've noticed since Mists of Pandaria launched is rooted in a quirk of human psychology. The commonplace becomes expected, the expected becomes tedious, and what was once a reward seems less so. I'm talking about what happens when you use an Elder Charm of Good Fortune to get an extra roll on loot for a boss, whether it be in LFR or a guild raid, and you get extra gold instead of an item, or an item you already have.

Ultimately, you haven't really lost anything save the Elder Charm itself, and there's a hard cap of 10 on those, so you would have ended up using it sooner or later anyway. But it feels like a loss, strangely enough, when you use the charm and see the word gold pop up, even though it isn't. I was thinking about this while reading a forum thread with a response from Draztal today.

Draztal - the big LFR loot whiners topic

That's basically what all the whiners are saying.

At the risk of sounding "old" but I remember years ago; if you were pugging current content raids, you were lucky if the group could even kill the boss. Never mind also getting loot.

Perhaps what's happening is that some players are having the illusion that because the roll is happening, something must drop eventually (eventually being, more often than not). But, if I may, I'd suggest you guys note down how many drops (for your character) do you encounter in your guild raids of a given week and how much competition you have going on for them.

When you factor those things in, does LFR really feel *that* different to the speed at which you gear up when you're competing against others in your guild? I'm just curious :-)

My answer is yes, it does feel different, but not because of LFR itself. It feels different mostly because, when people use their Elder Charm they have an expectation that isn't grounded in reality, myself included. No one uses that coin wanting gold. You use the coin hoping that the item you need from the boss will drop, which is human nature. But the coin is random.

My chances are so good I can't possibly fail

I can't pretend to know the minds of every single player out there, of course. At least not until the device is completed. But in general, what the Elder Charm actually does (create another random chance for loot as if you'd just killed the boss twice) and what our desire is when we use it (get that item I want) creates a lot of the dissatisfaction. It's completely understandable, of course, and lord knows when I blew my last Elder Charm on a boss this week and got a strength cape that wasn't even an upgrade over what I had I wasn't thrilled, but that's the nature of the random roll.

This is also a problem with the perception of the individual loot roll system in place for LFR and world bosses such as the Sha of Anger or Salysis' Warband/Galleon. We're aware that the loot system will make the rolls for us behind the scenes and assign us an item we can use but the perception is that we should win something, not that we can win something. To a degree I believe this pre-existing perception of how the loot system should work colors how we react, and is exacerbated by the use of the Elder Charms, since we're using those as a hail-mary pass to get that one item we really want. When it works and my worgen gets Starshatter, I'm ecstatic. When it doesn't and I get gold, I blame the system when the system is set up to function exactly like the previous random roll.

My random chance never gets any less random

We can argue that the system shouldn't work that way, but criticizing it for how it doesn't work as if it did work that way, just not properly, is not really very useful. However, one thing that needs to be addressed is that the feeling of disappointment when our Elder Charm returns gold is a very real one. It doesn't matter that we were never promised anything else, we still feel let down by the result. Ghostcrawler's already addressed this, saying that they may add a variety of other potential rewards to the system. We've already seen this with Scenarios, which have a cache of treasures at the end that can potentially contain an item of gear - these rewards were recently expanded to include weapons at iLevel 463 and even a few 476 epics. It still feels a little disappointing to open the box and just get some gold, but it's fairly common to get something even if it's not an upgrade.

It still seems odd to me that I'm disappointed to get gold, but there it is. I think it's that, more than any real fault with the LFR loot system or Elder Charms, that causes the discontent.

Mists of Pandaria is here! The level cap has been raised to 90, many players have returned to Azeroth, and pet battles are taking the world by storm. Keep an eye out for all of the latest news, and check out our comprehensive guide to Mists of Pandaria for everything you'll ever need to know.

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