EPGP, dual specs and loot distribution

January 8, 2009 at 7:54 pm 5 comments

Dual specs are coming! 

Maybe.  Someday.  Eventually. 

There’s no target date yet — at least, not that I’m aware of — and Blizzard seems to be subtly setting us up for disappointment.  (“Maybe for Uldaur.  But maybe not.  It’s complicated.  … But how about those dance studios?”)

Still, if your guild is anything like mine, the promise of dual specs at some point in the near or not-so-near future is a frequent topic of conversation in /g.  

I’m certainly looking forward to it, even more so now that I’m a part-time resto shaman than when I was a full time afflock.  If you think doing Sons of Hodir dailies are rough, try doing them twice!  First as a character who can’t kill anything, and then again as one who can’t tag anything—

I swear, as soon as 3.0.8 is out, I am going to create a party with four other warlocks and camp that damned cave for HOURS.  We will DoT everything.  We will Fear everything.  And at the end of the day we will polish Hodir’s helm with the tears of everyone who ever tagged a mob after we DoTed it. 

So take that, you stupid Boomkin with your stupid insta-DoT, insta-tag Moonfire!

… ranting again …

*ahem*  Even though there’s no real ETA, half of my guild members already know what their dual-spec will be.  Holy for raids/Shadow for dailies.  Elemental for PvP/Enhancement for PvE.  Kitty for trash/Bear for bosses.  And so on. 

And while I’m daydreaming as much as the next person (Do I want to zap things with lightning bolts, or simply whack!them!dead! with massive fist weapons? /ponder), I’m also thinking ahead:

How will dual specs affect loot distribution?  Should I ask everyone to declare a secondary spec?  If so, should I prioritize loot to secondary specs over off-specs?  And should secondary specs receive a discount under our loot system, as off-specs currently do? 

I understand that the purpose of dual specs is to give players options.  I’m certainly not aiming to take that away!  If you’re tagged with me and would like your secondary spec to be for PvP or some other, non-raid related purpose … that’s fine.  Really.

But what about those players who want both of their specs to be raid-viable?  Such as those tanks I was talking about earlier, who aspire to MT raid content but usually end up healing or DPSing?  Or that jack-of-all-trades druid, who will cheerfully shed his feathers for fur or leaves and relishes any opportunity to put his hybrid nature to good use?

Oh, wait.  He went Death Knight for the expansion. 😦

Still, the point remains.  For those few flexible players I’ve come to rely on — the prot paladin who also heals; the holy priest who also DPSes — it makes to sense gear a secondary spec, if not equally, then certainly ahead of someone else’s moth-eaten off-spec. 

My boyfriend and I have talked about ways to accommodate this idea into our loot system, but we’re not quite there yet.  In the meantime, we take occasional advantage of a small disclaimer written into our rules — one that allows him, as Raid Leader, to override the official loot list for the benefit of  raid progression — to ensure that that multi-spec paladin keeps a decent holy set and the priest has some hit gear. 

With dual specs on the horizon, it seems like a perfect time to formally revisit the idea of secondary specs.

Currently, my guild uses EPGP to manage loot.  If you aren’t familiar with it, EPGP is a ratio-based system in which players earn Effort Points (EP) for participating in raids, and are assigned Gear Points (GP) equal to the value (a function of ilevel*slot value*rarity) of the loot they receive.  Their priority (PR) on new drops is calculated from ratio of EP to GP; in other words, PR = EP/GP.

EPGP can be complicated to explain, but it’s very simple in practice.

In determining who receives a particular piece of loot, we look at two things: 1) who, among those interested, has the highest PR; and 2) whether the item is intended for main-spec or off-spec use.  With very few exceptions, the player with the highest PR who intends the item for main-spec use will receive it — along with the corresponding GP, which will decrease his PR for future drops.

If no one needs the item for main-spec use, it can be looted for off-spec use at 10% of its GP value.  This means that the spellpower ring that cost a mage 70 GP last week could very well go to an enhancement shaman for 7 GP this week. 

At first glance, this may seem like a flaw of the system; it’s certainly caused a few raised eyebrows among those new to the guild!  But it’s actually how EPGP is supposed to work.  Increasing the mage’s GP by 70 caused his PR to decrease, so the priest, warlock and elemental shaman who were beneath him on the loot list before he received the ring are now above him, and will have the option of winning a comprable item before he earns his next drop.

Another thing that’s occasionally pointed to as a “flaw” is that some classes have no true off-spec, and therefore never have the opportunity to win loot at 10% cost.  However, as our priest officer pointed out last night, hybrids incur the 10% cost on off-spec items in addition to the 100% cost they pay for on-spec ones.  Compared to a mage, who pays 100% GP for his gear, a priest collecting two sets of gear for two different specs pays 110% GP for both!

Tangential aside (because I couldn’t find anything useful from other guilds when I Googled for inspiration months ago): GP values are calculated by the EPGP mod, but EP is left to the guild’s discretion.  In active zones — including progression zones, as well as zones that aren’t quite new but aren’t quite on farm status, either — we award 5 EP every 15 minutes for the duration of the raid, 38 EP for every guild first kill, and 25 EP for each kill thereafter.  In farm zones, we award 25 EP per boss but skip the time-based award. 

The idea here is to reward ourselves for the time we spend learning new encounters (hence the incremental award in fresh content), while at the same time incenting us to clear older zones quickly and without the kinds of silly mistakes that lead to three wipes on pre-Patchwerk slime. 

Overall, I’m happy with our current system, but would like to make some changes to accommodate secondary specs when the time comes.  It might be as simple as offering secondary spec items at half cost or 25% cost, with priority going to main specs over secondary specs, and secondary specs over off-specs.  Giving players the ability to “bid what the item is worth” could also be an option, but I like the simplicity of fixed GP and don’t want to turn loot distribution into some kind of auction.  (I realize it works for some guilds, but I don’t think it would be particularly efficient in mine.)

Fortunately (or unfortunately, from my poor shaman’s perspective), we have some time to think about it before making any decisions.

… In between daydreams of zap!-zap!-zapping! things to death, of course …

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Hearthstone Malfunction! P.S.

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Rohan  |  January 8, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    I don’t think you really need to do anything to your loot system. Most hybrids try and maintain multiple sets of gear already, so dual-spec is not an issue. I would suggest just sticking with primary and off-set, and not adding a third category.

    Plus, this gives people a little flexibility with their secondary spec. They don’t get locked into something. They can change their secondary spec as they want without really affecting the primary spec.

    Reply
  • 2. Elleiras  |  January 9, 2009 at 10:26 am

    Those are good points. I guess I have to think about this one a little more.

    As I was writing this, I was thinking of a couple of specific instances in which our loot system dictated that an off-spec item should go to someone who was unlikely to use it in a raid environment over someone who frequently respecs to fill a need. This doesn’t seem like the best possible allocation of resources to me … but if that were my primary goal for a loot system, I’d be using Loot Council rather than EPGP in the first place!

    Reply
  • 3. Rohan  |  January 9, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    Yeah, it’s a good idea not to over-complicate your loot system in order to handle the weird corner cases. Keep it simple and strong enough to handle 95% of the cases, and don’t really worry about those last few issues.

    Reply
  • 4. Zulrang  |  January 30, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    The rare issues will come up so infrequently if you stick to your guns, that there will be no drama over it, since people are so used to the system working 95% of the time.

    Reply
  • 5. Cody  |  February 25, 2009 at 11:46 am

    We are having the same issues within our guild. The questions comes down to how are we going to give the off-spec gear to someone that will respec to that talent and just not give it to someone that is just off-spec hording. At first we did a /roll on off spec with no gp cost. Now we are trying a system that we came up. For off spec it will cost half the GP of the normal price. Hopefully this will even out the off spec promblem that we are having. I understand what you are saying about the dual-specs that is going to be something we will have to deal with when the time comes =(

    Reply

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