What’s your favored loot distribution?

Gear and tier sets especially, are a big deal in World of Warcraft. We’ve seen Blizzard continuously reform their loot system for raiding sets since vanilla WoW, sometimes with better or worse outcome. I always found the tier distribution a fairly tricky topic, with potential for juicy drama.

Cataclysm will once more reform the way players gain their tiers and apparently Blizzard aims for more identification again whereby certain items are clearly associated with boss loot tables. They also want epic gear to be “truly epic” again. Whatever that means.

But if we were the ones to call the shots, what system would you personally opt for? This is what we’ve had in the past:

  1. Bosses drop slot-specific tier items randomly for every class: this is more or less what we had in Vanilla WoW whereby a certain boss drops the tier legs for every class randomly. If you got no use for the item, it gets sharded.

  3. Bosses drop slot-specific tokens randomly for every loot-group: representative of TBC, Lady Vashj would for example drop the head-slot T5 token randomly for loot-group A, B or C. No more shards, instead more gear for off-specs in the raid.

  5. Bosses drop tokens that are neither slot-specific, nor class/loot-group specific: this was done via trophies for T9 in the Trial of the Crusader (Coliseum) raid instance in WotLK.

  7. Bosses drop non-slot-specific tokens randomly for every loot-group: a mixture of the two previous loot distributions which we have seen in Ice Crown Citadel in WotLK.

Me, I have mixed feelings about it. I would definitely never ever want to see loot-groups again because that particular system is a real can of worms. My own guild was stuck with some really foul loot-luck in the priest/paladin/warlock loot-group for several weeks in the past, while at the same time the “pink-whites” (as I call the priest loot-group) made up more than half of our most active raiders roster at that time.
It does not only get very tense during raids when mages and DKs (who in our guild were more or less alone in their group) start collecting off-spec tiers while your 10+ pink-whites in the raid still sit on 1 tier each, but it hits guilds the wrong way as a whole. Especially nowadays when Blizzard themselves want guilds to bring the player instead of the class and we got all sorts of very different raid setups in every guild; we were often very low on druids, shammies, warlocks and rogues for example, with sometimes three times as many priests and paladins to make up for it.

Your most active raiders might belong to the unlucky (or simply over-sized) loot-group and there’s nothing you can do to gear them up, while the rest is forced to collect offspec-gear because you can’t shard tokens. At the same time you will have to deal with the inflation of DKP for those that cannot bid even if they’d really love to.
And personally, as a very active priest healer, I was rather frustrated that I paid 200 DKP for a T8 token that went for 15 DKP in other groups, because this forced me to save on other slots like rings, trinkets etc. where I couldn’t compete against those anymore that got their tiers so cheap. All you can do in such a situation is to say “sod tiers, I’ll get everything else first and the tiers last”, but that is only so much fun.

I actually loved Trial of the (Grand) Crusader exactly for this reason: finally all raiders had an equal chance on tier loot and the distribution was very mixed and even, even if the most active raiders might finish a little sooner (and there’s really nothing wrong with that). There was no tension anymore and we could actually focus on other things rather than rolling our eyes in advance over what the boss might drop.

The only thing I missed about the trophies was that a certain item could not be associated with a respective bosskill no more: I like the fact that gear tells a story. I’d like to see some of the raider’s or raidguild’s achievements or their current state of progression on the player. I think we lose a bit of content-depth without this. So ideally, I’d like the opposite of what was done in ICC: slot-specific tokens yes, class/loot-group specific no. You can still associate the item with a boss if it goes into a defined slot.

Do I think tokens as a whole are a good idea? I can see why you would dislike them: how “realistic” (fantasy-speaking) is it that a mob carries generic raider-tokens around, rather than just gear? Not very much. Gear has the one advantage that you can produce shards for the guildbank if nobody needs the item. Tokens have the advantage that your raiders can gear up their secondary spec (depending on how you handle this, but there’s little point in trashing tokens).

There’s certainly pros&cons to every loot system, and I guess some of us would even love to see something entirely different for WoW. I’ve never been invested in endgame raiding à la WoW in other MMOs, so I can’t draw comparisons there, but I’m sure there’s some interesting, different concepts around.

What is your favored loot distribution? And do you see an issue in tokens and badges?


    1. That is a tough question. I guess I would add a points system so that every raider can get the reputation to gain standard equip upgrades. Alternatively the gear progression could be slowed down. In this case standard gear upgrades are not necessary; I’d prefer this.

      Then I’d add vanilla-like random loot that adds some drama, because drama is good and makes your raid community feel alive.

      At the same time I’d remove all sets, because they force me to be non-unique. I loved to raid MC with my specific combination of blues so long ago. And I remember how bad I felt when I had to use the damn standard-T1-set, because it had better stats. Back then a complete set was rare, but I still had prefered to build my own char with my own gear decisions.

    2. The Trial of the Crusader token system felt slightly odd to me. Yes, it was damn convenient, but this also meant that we actually reached a point where nobody wanted any tokens anymore eventually, something I had thought impossible until then. Having the right loot guaranteed to drop is kind of boring; you need a bit of RNG to keep things interesting. Emblems are there to give you your bit of guaranteed loot, but the actual gear should be luck of the draw.

      So I’d be happy if the class-group tokens made a return (though I understand your pain about always getting the “wrong” drops), though I like your idea of slot-specific drops too. The important thing is that they have some sort of definition and aren’t all the same.

    3. @Nils
      I guess it’s true that sets remove some portion of uniqueness, but min-maxing being such a big thing in wow, I think people would end up wearing the same matchup of gear for raids anyway. the thing with tiers is that they at least manage to look decent (sometime..). I wish they’d make them unique to class again though – and why not add different color schemes per spec for example?

      I never looked at it this way. I was just very happy I didn’t have to worry about tiers anymore, hehe. there was still some randomness included with all the other drops.
      i don’t dislike the loot-group idea per se, but i dislike the way blizzard handled it so far, with percentages and estimates that do not correspond to every guild’s roster / setup.

    4. Personally I dont like equipped items dropped as loot.

      I would prefer absolute majority of useful items to be crafted. So bosses would drop materials , which you would bring to the crafter to get the times you want

      That is much more immersive and realistic system than non class specific tokens .

      You could make a few items to be drops for flavor and variety but the core should be the material drops

    5. @Max
      To be honest I never considered this but I quite like the idea. I agree it makes for the most ‘realistic’ approach and would also give professions a greater meaning in the game than they currently have.
      You would face a similar issue though when it comes to distribution: would you have different, for ex. class/group-specific materials drop, or make all of them useful to everyone in the raid?

    6. would you have different, for ex. class/group-specific materials drop, or make all of them useful to everyone in the raid?

      Have them be equally useful, 10 ore drops turn in for a sword, staff, or dagger. Maybe with some obfuscation mechanics for variety.

      It makes for perfect balance in a sensitive part where everyone wants it to be fair

      It would also fit very well with the crafting I envision. (crafters would be make unique models of items like in NWN toolset, and attach stats and attribute to them , making every item unique)

      So say top tier item would require x/n/and z parts. As a designer I would be easily able to tweak the drop rate to have people complete dungeon as many times as I want (and personally I dont want people run the same dungeon over and over again), without worrying about that some classes would take lots more runs to acquire because of greater competition.

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