Loot Drama: When is main spec not main spec?
I once looted a melee dagger to a Holy Priest. For his lolsmite spec. (Spellpower stacks with AP. Didn’t you know?)
We were farming Mount Hyjal (in the vain hopes that Kaz’rogal would finally have a heart) with a mismatched assortment of over-geared mains, undergeared alts and some non-raiding friends and family. The guild bank was overflowing with Void Crystals; we certainly didn’t need any more, even to sell. Our rogues were as geared as you can get without farming Sunwell or seeing Warglaives drop (which, alas, we never did). No one wanted the lonely little dagger.
Except for our Holy Priest.
So I gave it to him, free of charge (i.e., GP).
He ran around stabbing things for a trash wave or two, then went back to healing, and we all had a good laugh about it over Vent.
I share this story to prove a point: I’m not a tyrant when it comes to loot. We have rules, and I follow them closely because I believe that consistency is important — but I’d still rather see something go to someone who will get some use out of it (and if not actual use, then at least 30 seconds of enjoyment) than to the guild bank as a shard. Granted, this is less true now than it was at the end of the Burning Crusade: enchanting mats are valuable again, and we’re replacing gear quickly enough that there never seem to be enough to go around. But, in general, a situational upgrade or sidegrade or even a few minutes levity in a tense situation is more valuable to the guild than an Abyss Crystal.
Unfortunately, there seems to be a disconnect between this philosophy (which my guildmembers support overwhelmingly in 10-man’s, where loot is /random’d and therefore — for all intents and purposes — “free”) and the actual bids that come in after a 25-man boss kill. In Heroic raids, where all loot has a cost (GP), players are much more likely to pass on gear, often skipping the smaller upgrades in order to preserve their priority (PR) for more significant ones.
This is especially true now that we’re starting to see some of our more active members “cap out” in terms of gear. Since the upgrades aren’t as plentiful for them, they aren’t receiving GP and are sitting at the top of the PR list week after week. Decay chips away at their respective leads, bit by bit — but as long as they continue raiding, they will still be first up for those last elusive drops that everyone needs.
As far as the system is concerned, this is fair. The Resto Shaman who hasn’t taken loot from the last three raids should receive a highly coveted mace over the Shadow Priest who has upgraded several pieces of gear in the same timeframe.
… But what if the Resto Shaman has refused loot not because she’s capped out, but because she’s protecting her PR and has passed on multiple upgrades in the process? This is EPGP’s equivalent of DKP hoarding. By passing on upgrades that could boost her spellpower, intellect, mp5, etc., to the benefit the entire raid, the Shaman is essentially letting those who are willing to take the PR hit carry her through content.
I recently had a Mage attempt to bid off-spec for a tier token, on the grounds that since no one else wanted it, he shouldn’t have to pay full price for something that would be sharded otherwise. The tier piece would have been a nice upgrade, but since the Mage refused to sacrifice the top spot on the PR list, he passed the token to a Feral Druid, who picked it up at 10% GP for his off-spec Balance set (which I can tell you right now will never see use).
If I was willing to give a melee dagger to a Holy Priest for free when there was no competition for it, why wouldn’t I give a tier token to a Mage at off-spec cost when there was no other main-spec interest?
Because if I did, the next time something dropped that the Mage could bid on, he would have had an unfair advantage (in terms of PR) over someone who received his or her tier token for full GP. Giving the Mage the token for a discounted cost wouldn’t have hurt anyone or anything at that particular moment, but it would have affected everyone attempting to bid against him on subsequent drops.
This has been a surprisingly difficult concept to explain, and it still isn’t unusual for me to receive an “I’ll take it for off-spec …” /tell from a pure DPS class when I call for bids. Case in point: in last week’s Naxx 25 run, three of our four Hunters attempted to bid “off-spec” for the same item — and each hunter was specced into a different tree! Now, I don’t claim to be an expert on hunter gear (that’s what you have Pike and BRK for), but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that if it isn’t main-spec for the Beast Master, then it should be main-spec for either the Marksman or the Survivalist. If not, it’s probably not a hunter item in the first place.
(Yes, I know. Everything is a Hunter item. Just like everything is a Druid item. Including the staff I lost to a Feral Druid in Wailing Caverns because it had stamina in addition to spellpower, and was therefore suitable for tanking.
… what? Some grudges were built to last!)
Of course, I realize that some pieces are better for some specs than others. While a Beast Master would most likely pass on Haste, a Survivalist would lap it up (to the point. I think there’s a cap, but at all of level 68 Falafel Fahalle hasn’t seen it it yet.) It isn’t a matter of “Is it better for Survival?”, because we know that it is. It’s a matter of “Should the BM Hunter be able to take a Haste-laden upgrade for nominal GP, and still win the crossbow that all three hunters want off the next boss because his PR hasn’t been significantly impacted?”
Again, my answer has always been no.
This is why, as a general rule, we don’t allow pure DPS classes (hunters, mages, warlocks and rogues) to bid for off-spec gear. I’ve made exceptions in the past (back in TBC, when every raiding Rogue was Combat Swords, maces frequently went to off-spec bids), but for the most part, it’s full price or shard.
This makes sense to me for several reasons. First and foremost, it keeps things simple. Unlike most hybrids, who need completely different stats for the different roles they are able to fulfill, pure DPS classes want the same basic stats across all possible specs. Some stats (especially secondary stats like hit, crit and haste) may be valued more highly for some specs than others, but a Hunter always wants agility and a Mage always wants spellpower.
As a Warlock, I always want stamina, intellect and spirit. I consider Affliction my main spec for raid purposes and, as Affliction, value spellpower more highly than crit or haste. But if I bid on an item that sacrifices a small amount of spellpower for crit or haste, I still incur main-spec cost — even though the item is a sidegrade for Affliction and an upgrade for Destruction, my off-spec.
My point is that spellpower plate is obviously off-spec for a tanking Paladin, spell hit cloth is obviously off-spec for a healing Priest, and attack power mail is obviously off-spec for an Elemental Shaman. I would have no problem awarding any of these items to off-specs for 10% of actual GP, especially if the alternative is a DE. But for pure DPS classes, where the differences between main-spec and off-spec itemization are less clear (and often open to debate), I keep things simple by enforcing my “main-spec or not at all” policy.
In the interests of compromise, there has been some discussion in officer chat about the possibility creating an intermediate level of bidding — something along the lines of a “Greed 50%”, in which raiders could bid on those sidegrades or nominal/situational upgrades at 50% of GP value. Greed bids would have lower priority than main-spec bids (100% GP) but a higher priority than off-spec bids (10%). I know of a couple of guilds that do this, and it seems like a workable solution … but it would also undermine the reason we went to a fixed-cost system in the first place, which was to eliminate the need for guildmembers to bid against each other rather than for a particular item.
Rather than amend our rules, we’ve attempted to educate our members about two of the major disadvantages to hoarding:
First, EP and GP decay by 10% every week. This means that even if you view GP as a penalty, it’s one that diminishes over time. When Kel’thuzad finally gets around to dropping The Turning Tide, that tier token you took weeks or months ago may very well have decayed to insignificance. A Green Macaw in the hand is worth two Hyacinth Macaws in the bush, as they say.
Second, hoarding undermines the system. If everyone hoards, then no one receives gear, raid DPS/tanking/healing doesn’t improve, and bosses don’t die (except in “easymode” WotLK — but that won’t be the case forever!). On the other hand, if everyone bids on all of the upgrades available to them, PR becomes much more fluid, and no one has to worry that the item they took today will cost them the drop they really want three weeks from now. The system works best when no one attempts to undermine or outsmart it.