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Officers QuartersJan 27, 2016 1:00 pm CT

Officers’ Quarters: Loot systems for guild-plus-PUGs raids

socrethar with his trash

Nothing causes more headaches for officers than loot. It’s the biggest source of drama in raiding. This week, an officer asks about the best loot systems for a raid team that has to rely on PUGs to fill a few extra slots.

HeloDruid asked
Can you talk about different loot systems for raiding (i.e. DKP vs loot council vs free roll)? We’re semi-casual (meaning we have performance requirements but also understand people have lives outside of a videogame) and don’t attract top flight talent although we do have a core of 3-5 people who could easily hook up with a hardcore guild but who stick around for loyalty/environment reasons and participate in most of the raids.

Our problems come from fringe raiders who only come every few weeks or when we’re doing bosses they can benefit from. Since we can never field a full guild team (even when most people are on) we tend towards personal loot or free roll loot but it sucks watching loot our team can use go to a pug we’ll never see again or even to a guildie who only comes once a month but I don’t know of another fair way to do loot.

I want to reward the people who show up even if they don’t need the boss but I don’t want to punish pugs/fringe guildies because they did still contribute to the kill. My fear is going full DKP will push our fringe players out completely and lead to guild drama (and also reduce the pug talent pool) but not doing something like that will eventually frustrate the core people to the point they’ve had enough and move on to something that rewards their time and effort.

Sure! Here’s a breakdown, with recommendations for your guild.

Point systems

DKP has been around for many years — the term originates from Everquest way back in 1999. Its longevity is a testament to its consistent fairness and internal synergy. By the latter, I mean that the raiders with the most consistent attendance get the gear they need ahead of the least consistent raiders. For progression guilds, this is very important. They want the best and most gear to go to the players who will be there the most, so the raid team receives the greatest benefit from the gear that has been farmed. Those with lesser attendance won’t be the first to receive items, but they can eventually catch up.

EPGP is a similar system, but with a bit more flexibility. Points are awarded not just for attendance or progression, but for donating materials, paying for a voice chat server, recruiting, and all the other tasks that the guild asks its members to help out with. It’s a way of saying thank you in more concrete terms for helping with the day-to-day operations of the guild and raid team. The drawback to these systems is that they require the most effort of any loot system, and you usually need an addon to track them. Drama isn’t very common, as long as you have clear rules about max bids for offspecs and alts.

For your guild, a point system would certainly reward your core players. However, it does get awkward to explain it to PUG players and set up new people in the system for every run. It can also sometimes turn them away when they realize they could be outbid on the gear they want.

Loot council

Personally, I hate loot council. It has always struck me as a way for officers to collude among themselves and the raiders they value most to hook them up with whatever they need, and everyone else gets the scraps. With a perfectly unbiased council and a set of priorities written in stone, you can avoid that pitfall. But even in that perfect scenario (which is unrealistic), players will still complain when they don’t get what they want “because the council said so.” Loot council is also a nightmare with PUGs. As soon as someone in the guild gets loot, many PUGs will scream guild bias and bail on the run.

To me this system works best in serious progression guilds, where everyone understands 100% that progression is king. Even then, I think the system creates too many opportunities for drama. There will always be people who disagree with the decisions or the reasoning those decisions are based on.


Rolling is obviously the easiest system besides personal loot for officers. It offers the most enticing loot system for PUGs, since they are on even ground with the guild members. But it also comes with extra complications that require a very detailed ruleset to avoid drama. For example, when can someone roll for offspec? Can players roll for BOE items to sell them? Can someone roll for an item just because it has a socket or a Leech bonus over their equipped item, or does priority go to someone who has an item from the previous tier in that slot?

Worst of all, it also creates unhappiness among your core raiders, who might lose a roll for a coveted four-piece item, weapon, or trinket to a PUG player or a guild member who only shows up to raids once a month. Free roll makes the cardinal sin of providing a disincentive for your best raiders to show up for every raid (or continue to raid with your team at all). They have no concrete compensation for their dedication or their time. Since these are the players you rely on most to keep the team in business, I don’t recommend it in your case.


Ladder systems like “suicide kings” are a half-measure between points systems and rolling, but for your guild it has the drawbacks of both. It requires tracking and turns away PUGs, but it also doesn’t consistently reward those with the best attendance with the gear they want. The people who don’t show up as much tend to float to the top of the list.

Personal loot

Personal loot has come a long way since its first iteration. It now awards more loot and a consistent amount of loot based on the size of your group — so somebody always gets something. Unfortunately, many players had a bad first impression of it, and that can be a hurdle to overcome.

The system has some clear advantages: it’s effortless to use, it’s PUG-friendly, and it still rewards those who raid more with more loot (at least in theory). On the other hand, it sometimes results in wasted loot if people get the same item twice. Also, it can be difficult to get the one specific item that a player needs toward the end of the tier’s gearing process.

For you

There’s no perfect system, and players understand that. In your case, I think personal loot is the best solution until you can field a dedicated guild group. Personal loot allows PUGs or other, infrequent guild attendees to have a fair chance at drops, but your core raiders will still get what they need eventually.

I would also recommend keeping the number of PUGs to a minimum to field a workable raid team for any given night. There’s no need to bring in 10 extra people if you already have 7 guild members. That will minimize the amount of gear leaving the guild and therefore those feel-bad moments of “lost loot.” For people who don’t like personal loot, you could announce that you’ll institute DKP (or whatever more formal system you choose) once you can rely on having a full guild group. Ask people to help you recruit so you can get to that point and institute the system.

At the same time, however, you need to gauge the reactions of your core raiders. If they’re unhappy with personal loot, they could stop showing up. Then the raids won’t happen and no one will get any loot at all. It’s better to switch to a system that keeps them happy, even if that system turns away PUGs. In that case, they might see first-hand how it’s hampering your ability to fill up the raid. They might agree to go back to personal loot if they see that their preferred system is causing problems.

You could also institute a hybrid situation where you use personal loot except for a few specific bosses. You could then “reserve” certain items for the guild and use a DKP system (or similar) for those items. This could make it much harder to bring in PUGs, since you absolutely need to be up front with the people joining you about what’s reserved. If you do this, you should keep the reserved list small and only for such things as weapons, trinkets, and tier pieces.

Whatever you do, avoid rolling. That’s the most demoralizing system you can use in a guild-plus-PUGs situation.

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