Monday, July 20, 2009

Why We Raid & Loot Drama

I've obliquely revealed that I quit my 25 man guild and started a 10 man guild with my boyfriend and other friends.

As a 10 man guild, I think we have been fairly successful. We've only been established 3 weeks and in those 3 weeks, we have cleared Yogg Saron and gotten more hard modes than the ones we got while we were still in the 25 man guild (Heartbreaker).

I am probably one of the most enthusiastic in the guild pushing for hard modes. This is because most of us have 25 man gear and farming 10 mans for loot will rapidly cause disinterest in the game. Every WoW player needs goals and challenges to look forward to or there is no point in being a WoW raider.

Sure, it can be frustrating and demoralizing when you are in for a night of wipes when learning a fight but it makes all the more sweeter when you get that elusive first down. That feeling of everything coming together in a cohesive, well-oiled running machine during raid is so very satisfying and every time it happens, you remember why you raid.

Loot is just your reward, your gravy on top of your mashed potatoes. That said, loot can also cause a lot of drama, especially if you feel loot is being distributed unfairly or unevenly.

So if people raid just to raid, why does loot matter?  

People hate when they feel their hard work is being wasted.

I don't know if I sound elitist if I say this but when you have under-performers that raid like they don't give a damn, people will not be too happy if they get gear even if the under-performers do not get too much gear over the high performers.

This is because raiding is a group activity and no one can reap the rewards with solo effort. Therefore, every piece of loot you get is the result of the work and time of other players. Your share in earning that loot was around 1/10 or 1/25 but you were the lucky one that actually got something for everyone's effort. This is a gamble we all take when we raid - that our effort may not pay off all the time in terms of gear.

However, most raiders are relatively secure that other raiders in the raid earned their keep in a raiding guild. The problem arises when people start to feel there is a divide in terms of those who have earned their keep and those who have not earned the right to gear (especially BIS).

As a healer, this is especially the case since healing is even more team oriented than other raiding roles such as tanking or DPS. If any one of your healing team is weak, the other healers will definitely know it.

Healers must be able to trust the other healers in the healing core. If not, there can only be resentment and unhappiness stirred up. This usually manifests itself in the form of loot drama as many WoW players in guilds are non-confrontational.

Not only is it hard on the healers carrying the weaker ones, the under-performing healers will feel un-valued and start to take on the whole "it's just a game" attitude and/or being more concerned with loot. This is a normal response as a human being because it is hard to come face to face with situations that mean you must admit you are not up to par. However, this also exacerbates the situation as the other healers will understandably resent you more when you get loot (over them) and still do not improve your performance.

It is then up to the leadership to change policy or talk quietly to people so that a molehill does not become a mountain. A guild heavily depends on the hard work and input from active leadership to avoid the building up of friction. When the fire breaks out, usually it is too late when it is extinguished because the damage is already done.

My opinion is based on observations I have made in the past in different raiding guilds, so of course I see most everything from a healer perspective. I do believe though that this also applies to tanking and DPS as well.

These types of situations are also much more common in 25 man raiding guilds as it is hard for everyone to be on intimate terms. Performance issues can be mitigated by good feeling for that person in a smaller, friendlier guild perhaps.

People managing a guild can probably compare it to managing your own team in the workplace though the rewards are more ephemeral than cold, hard cash. Therefore, once people feel that their rewards to be earned are less than their effort put in, they start quitting as there is no real incentive to stay other than loyalties or ties (which may have been eroded already through these issues).

Guilds and raiding is actually a really complicated thing as they are meticulous social networks that coalesced into one tangible thing, the guild tag. It is easy to start up a guild but hard to maintain and a veritable miracle if a guild is successfully growing and producing results for a long period of time.

I have been optimistic about my own little guild but I am very well aware of the problems that lie ahead. I just hope to enjoy the ride =)

Just random ramblings, pardon me. =X

I guess the point is to remember why we raid and if your guild seems to make you forget this fact, perhaps it's time to move on and think smaller.


  1. Very well thought out. It's so important that the terms of loot distribution are agreed clearly beforehand. But I also think no one should sign up for a raid they won't take some pleasure from - just participating as it's own reward.

  2. This kinda happened to me yesterday. We were doing Kel at 10 man Naxx and it was a guild run. Half of us were Ulduar geared, I myself have some Ulduar gear except my weapon which is still ilvl 200, with 400 spell power. So the mace drops and this noob shaman who just joined the guild and who had the lowest heals got it of course through rolling. I think I should have spoken out but it was a fair roll. But I still felt very angry for not getting it especially since I've been a loyal raider and been one of the best healers in the guild, and I really needed an upgrade bad.

    BTW I love your site, its a good way to see how other paladins (specifically holy paladins) progress through the game.

    - Yonge from Kael'thas (US)

  3. Good post. Loot distribution among varying contribution levels is a major problem. Either everyone contributed equally (which is pretty much impossible in a 25 man group, but working well for my 10-man group which hasn't had any drama yet), or someone is going to be pissed off.

    I hate going to VoA, doing 50% more dps than the next highest person, then watching the guy who did 1700 win a BiS tier piece over me. The system has some serious problems imo if contribution doesn't have some analog to reward.

  4. On thing that helps me is having a regular group that i raid with. I'm in a raiding guild that does both 25man and 10man content. essentially we split our 25man raid up into 2 teams that raid together on off nights.

    Since I'm with the same people for the 10man every week we've come to trust each other. We all know where each other stands as far as gear and people usually pass up on items that might be a minor upgrade for them but a major upgrade for someone else.

    In fact, its more common to see loot-drama go something like this:

    A:'you take it, you need it more'
    B:'no you should roll too, you can use it as well'
    A:'no really, i don't need it that badly, you'd see a bigger dps increase from it than i would - and the better you get the better we all get'
    etc etc

    I guess moral of the story is... try to find yourself a group of loyal friends that you can consistently raid with... that way there's a measure of accountability there. Then you'll feel like even if someone else gets the gear you want, they'll be new and improved next week; thus helping to drive your little group deeper into new content.

    and as a side effect of a well-bonded group... even if someone is underperforming its more likely to get pointed out in a respectful manner where everyone can help everyone and not just sit in silence brewing resentment towards the new sucky guy thats winning all of the loot.

  5. It helps if people trust each other not to be slacking, but I think some people are just impatient gits with an entitlement issue who get far too wound up over specific pieces of loot.

    But a good guild will have policies to minimise the risks and deal with any tantrums.

  6. Excellent post. Glad I click the link through WowInsider. Your blog is a must read now in my bookmarks.

  7. Thank you everyone for commenting! I didn't expect my post to affect everyone so much, I was just rambling about stuff.

    I know that there are people that feel loot doesn't matter and it is raiding that matters - they are perfectly right to feel this way.

    However, the fact of the matter remains is that loot distribution is important. I know maybe people may feel that people have entitlement complexes or are being QQers but it is their time and effort put into raiding so they have a reason to feel that way. It would be wrong to dismiss all feelings of discontent w.o knowing the exact details.

    Even with a close knit group, it is possible for there for drama to occur. In fact, if it does occur, the drama is usually much more explosive if it is a tight knit group as there are friendships on the line now. (I might write about an example one day)

    Now that I said my piece, thank you all for your comments! I really enjoyed reading them all =)


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