Hardcore Raiding on Casual Loot?

Our guild has run into a problem when we tried to get 25man Ulduar going.  With some modest recruiting over the past 2 months, we’ve assembled enough players to field a 25 easily.  The recruitment posts and applications all highlighted the fact that we are a raiding guild and specified raid times.  People who applied came here to raid, first and foremost.  A lot of “friends” came together, but they all specified they want to raid as individuals.  Some were geared to the teeth, some were just starting the gearing process… but attitudes, approaches and “coolness” (yeah yeah…) made them good fits.

3 weeks ago we ran 25man Ulduar.  We had about 23 people on Friday and an almost full 25man on Saturday for most of the raid.  This happens to be the week we downed Yogg on 10man, so morale was high, recruitment was going nicely, and the 25 proceeded well.  We downed the Siege bosses and all had a good time for the most part, loot was handed out, hope was high for future runs.

2 weeks ago, roughly 14 or 15 people showed on Friday, despite 20 being signed up.  Saturday saw 17, FL was downed and the raid called, obviously.

This week, less than 15 people were signed up on Friday, and 12 people on Saturday, and about that many were online.  Ignoring the fact that the battlegroup crashed again on Friday, we still wouldn’t have gone in.  Saturday was a no-go.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the possible causes, and one of those that really jumps out at me is motivation.

Motivating a regular 10man group

A 10 man group is personal, like a closely knit group of friends or co-workers.  If it is a regular group like ours, there are probably no loot rules but an informal loot council of sorts where we all try to gear ourselves up in the most logical order.  This means the best 2 and 4 piece bonuses will be given out first, whether that’s a tank, healer or DPS, and in general the tanks and healers will get priority on gear.  We hardly ever hit enrage timers since the first few weeks of Naxx way back when, so DPS is playing second fiddle a tiny little bit.

This type of atmosphere creates a strong sense of “group” and a strong attachment to each other.  Beyond the personal level where we obviously get along, we also enter into a binding agreement where we exchange gear for weeks of farming content.  The ones that get gear first do so at the expense of the rest of the group, and in doing so commit to farming the content in the coming weeks and months so that the rest of the group can get geared as well.  The ones that initially pass on the gear do so with the implicit knowledge that those they are passing to will not bail on them once they get their gear.  We know the same 10 will be there 2 months from now grinding away at the same instance, and that allows us to trust each other in ways very few groups do.

If, on the other hand, we ran 3 friends and 7 PUGs every week.  There would not be any type of loot passing agreements that need not be articulated.  Everyone would roll and hope to win.  There is no responsibility then.

Our 10 man group benefits from a level of trust that allows us to do this with loot and with our approach to progression… which in turn allows us to develop more and more trust in our group’s relationship. 

We do not need motivation to show up to our raids.  Everyone of us in the group loves raiding to begin with.  If that isn’t enough motivation, we know we’re there to help gear up our closest in-game-turned-real-friends, we’re there to repay their help gearing us up. 

Motivating a 25man group

While there can be camaraderie and friendship in a 25man group, it just cannot physically nor realistically approach the level of a small group of 10.  There will be people who dislike each other, and there will be cliques or sub-groups within the raid.  Furthermore, nobody in their right mind would pass loot to someone “for the good of the guild” unless it was an established guild with the same 25-30 raiders together for the past year.

So what we have is a group of people who get along well enough to raid together and who are joined by a desire to see bosses and loot, yet do not want to be a hardcore raider with 4 nights or more a week dedicated to raiding.

Our guild did not specify any kind of attendance requirements, nor any specific specs.  In fact, we were very adament about playing for fun; your spec, your raiding time.  To facilitate this, we adopted the Suicide Kings system of looting. 

To summarize the system, the names of all raiders are on a list.  When loot drops, everyone who wants the item says they’re bidding.  The bidder who is highest on the list wins the piece and their name drops to the very bottom of the list, last place, and they now have to wait a few raids to get back to a position where they can win pieces.  The important element here is that if you are not present in a raid, your name remains in the same position that it is.  You can be in 4th place, miss 3 weeks, come back and still be in 4th place when loot drops. 

We now get to the crux of this post:  Suicide Kings is a casual loot system.  It encourages comfort with a guild, comfort with the raiding schedule and comfort with not adjusting your life around the raids but rather vice versa.  In theory, this is excellent as it is a completely unbiased system of loot.  Show up to a raid and you have a chance to win any piece that drops, depending on your position in the lists.  Miss a few raids due to RL obligations, and you can come back and have the same exact chance.

In practice, what this has done is made every single raid member not care about attendance.  We do not reward good attendance and we do not punish bad attendance, so why sweat it?  And there is no way to fix this purely by requests, demands or pleading.  Since there is no incentive to be there every week, why do it?  Since there are no repercussions to missing a raid, why not take time off?

This creates massive problems:

  1. Hard workers are not rewarded in any meaningful way.  Showing up to every raid means nothing since the person who shows up once every 4 weeks can potentially just sit at the top of the loot list and win a piece that someone has raided all month to get but is below that person still.
  2. Good performance goes unrewarded.  This is the same as point 1 but with actual performance instead of attendance.
  3. Bad attendance goes unpunished.  Same line of reasoning.
  4. Bad performance goes unpunished and unchecked.

We do not have a giant pool of players that allows us to sit the underperformers.  The Warlock pulling 1500 DPS will have the same chance at loot as I.  The healer who is raiding for the first time in 5 weeks and is mostly afk’ing all through the run will still win his gear if he’s at the top of the list.

Most importantly, those who win gear and are shot down to the bottom of the list have zero motivation to come back next week and raid for absolutely nothing

If I’m a casual raider and I just won something with this guild, I will take a night of drinking or going out over a 4 hour wipefest where I am guaranteed NOT to have anything to show for it other than some emblems… emblems are worthless since I won’t raid enough to have 60 or so of them to buy a worthwhile piece of gear for myself.  I will take a night of playing an alt, or raiding on an alt, over raiding again.  When I do, it will be because I have absolutely nothing better to do.

A system that rewards those who show up over those who don’t guarantees that the harder you work, the more you will get rewarded.  A system that does not do this encourages slacking.  This has led me to finally understand the purpose of all loot systems, especially the unbelievably annoying DKP systems…  they are not there to help redistribute loot.  They are there, first and foremost, to motivate the raiders to show up.

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8 Responses to “Hardcore Raiding on Casual Loot?”


  1. 1 Sehk June 26, 2009 at 11:51 am

    As much as I absolutely hated DKP, I could still see its merits in motivating attendance. One of the hardcore guild I came from had been trying to go away from a very bloated DKP system. There was huge disparity between newer recruits and longtime raiders who had months of attendance under their belts. There was also DKP hoarding (ppl would pass on obvious upgrades just so they could save their DKP for that one “BiS” gear from a later boss). DKP brings with it, so many problems to a guild, in the long run. In the short run, however, it doesn’t seem quite so bad.

    The guild I later joined was on a Loot Council system and that seemed best. At the beginning of every raid, all non-officers would roll to have 2 ppl join in deliberations on how to distribute loot as it dropped. They were temporarily given officer rank to join in o-chat just for that raid. This gave everyone an opportunity to insight on how fairly the loot council came to their decisions. Those who wanted to roll on an item would whisper the ML, and the names were given in O-chat and then deliberated on who would get the item based on a number of factors. This system, of course, did not allow for puggers in the raid, unfortunately. This guild was large enough to always have raiders on standby. The biggest drawback of this system (and most annoying for those ADHD players) was that some loot decisions took a good 3 minutes of debate, so downtime after every boss was excruciating for those who couldn’t see there was debate going on in O-chat. I left this guild when we were fighting KJ in Sunwell, and then I rerolled Horde. This particular guild had an officer who called people out and belittled them before the entire raid over vent, should they screw up. Being a hardcore progression guild, they had very low tolerance for screwups. It was very military, and I needed a break from military. 😛

    Anyway, I’m not sure what system is best for our guild. I am just happy to be there, and have a tendency to let other ppl gear up before me. I noticed once ppl have their gear, they have less motivation to be there, which is understandable, but sad, because I go for the fun and cameraderie, not so much for the gear or achievements.

  2. 2 Tania June 26, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    More people need to play the game simply because they enjoy raiding,not because of loot.

  3. 3 latusthegoat June 26, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    Everyone cares about loot. Even if you don’t care about it, you HAVE TO or you will get left behind and all your love of raiding will be worthless if you’re still sporting tier 3 in Ulduar.

  4. 4 Tania June 27, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    Of course. However, loot should take second fiddle to the enjoyment of the game. Which is why it’s a game, why people are paying to play it, to have fun. If it become all about the loot, that’s the point where people burn out and stop playing since they “can’t get any” in 25-mans. There have been weeks where I didn’t get anything but emblems, but I didn’t care because it was fun. This includes 25-mans where I lost T7.5 to a certain warlock who spent 60% of the fight DC’d.

  5. 5 latusthegoat June 27, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    Don’t mention that warlock, ugh. He’s still sporting one of the top main hands in the game while I putz around on 10man KT weapons. And yes, what you say is exactly why a 10man works if it’s an established 10man. People do care about loot, but not if it is going to impact their ability to enjoy the game. In a 25, you cannot get that kind of camaraderie. You can have the same people as you do in your 10man PLUS 15 more, but it still changes the dynamics entirely. Unless I -know- a healer or tank from our 10man is about to win an item, and I have the last roll, I’m not going to pass on loot…

  6. 6 Tania June 27, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    For that, it depends on who is rolling, I admit. If they’re not in my 10-man but I like them and it’s more of an upgrade and/or they reaaaaally want it, I will probably pass. If I don’t really like them or if I’m indifferent, I will probably roll.

    Like, I will always roll against you, for example. 😀

  7. 7 Gravity July 6, 2009 at 8:16 am

    Good entry.


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