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Editorial > WoWDec 28, 2020 10:00 am CT

Why the Great Vault doesn’t work as bad luck protection

Okay, so we’ve had Shadowlands for a while now, and we’ve had a chance to start getting used to its… let’s just call it a surfeit of endgame systems. Because there are a lot of them, and some of them are unique to each Covenant, and all in all it’s a lot to absorb.

One system that I’ve been getting used to is the Great Vault, which expanded upon the Mythic chest from Battle for Azeroth and replaced the various bonus roll systems we’ve had since Mists of Pandaria. At the time, we knew the Great Vault was going to be the means by which people were guaranteed something for a week’s effort. And there were a lot of issues with bonus rolls — you could easily burn all of your bonus rolls for a week and get nothing, while the Mythic chest at least guaranteed you something — maybe not something you wanted, but something.

Bonus rolls were broken, but they did something the Vault doesn’t

I’m sure anyone who used a bonus roll on that one boss only to be rewarded with gold, or Artifact Power or Azerite can think of another issue with the old bonus roll system. I’m not arguing for the perfection of the old system. However, it did offer coverage in specific cases where the Great Vault doesn’t, because the Vault is an outgrowth of a system designed toward a different purpose. The Mythic chest wasn’t bad luck protection in the same way bonus rolls were, and evolving it to the Great Vault makes it a much better version of the Mythic chest, but it doesn’t at all meet the needs that bonus rolls did.

For starters, the Great Vault is exceedingly selective in what content it chooses to let you use it for. This past week, I’ve killed a World Boss, two bosses in Normal Castle Nathria, and the first wing of LFR, as well as two Mythic dungeons without a keystone. Of all that, only the LFR kills counted for the Great Vault. Now, I accept that there will be restrictions to the system. It guarantees you loot and it requires a means to determine the selection — the choice of an item needs to be based on what you’re doing. But while that works fine for the Mythic chest, it’s not bad luck protection if it’s that restrictive.

And yes, I know the answer is going to be kill more bosses on Normal, or run the Mythics with a keystone or what have you, but again, that misses the point. Bonus rolls meant that if I killed a World Boss and he had a drop I really wanted, I got another chance at that drop. The Great Vault offers me nothing for that scenario. It offers me nothing if I’m a player in a raid guild which raids twice a week and I have to miss a raid, but will make the next raid, if that raid only kills two bosses the night I’m able to make it. It doesn’t fill the same role that bonus rolls did — they allowed you to make the most of any such limitations in your scheduling or opportunities.

The Great Vault was never designed to do what bonus rolls did

This is not a failure of the Great Vault. It is doing exactly what it is designed to do. It prioritizes group activity over solo play; raiding and Mythic dungeons over heroics or other easily soloable activities — it is designed and built to make value judgements over what content deserves another shot at loot. That’s fine, that’s as designed. But it makes it a terrible bad luck protection system, because people who already have access to group content don’t need it as much as people who only have a few tries a week, due to schedules, due to personal preferences or what have you. If you’re not great at running a lot of Mythic+ dungeons in a week? If you can’t guarantee you’ll get three bosses in your raid? If you’re ilevel 168 running normal Castle Nathria and killing a couple of bosses?

These are the exact cases bonus rolls were useful for.

Bonus rolls weren’t perfect. But they did make it easier for players on limited time to have a shot at actually getting loot in content they were completing, and I think that’s an important distinction. It wasn’t free loot. It was loot for bosses they were killing. If you had a bonus roll, that meant you killed the boss you were using it on. You were completing the content. The bonus roll didn’t care if you were doing it in a specific way, or how many bosses you were killing in that week. It didn’t care what your item level was — it understood that the whole reason you needed a bonus roll in the first place was that you were trying to get your ilevel up, or fill that one crucial slot. This is not something the Great Vault is designed for.

So what’s the solution? Bring them back? Probably not — it’s an extremely unlikely option at this point, with the Great Vault already in place. Put more stuff into eligible status, so that World Bosses and Mythic 0 runs count for the Great Vault? Maybe, although I bet a lot of players would object. Simply be up front that there is no real bad luck protection this expansion, and don’t pretend that the Great Vault supplies it? This is probably the most likely option. The Great Vault is unlikely to change or expand — it rewards the content it was designed and implemented to reward.

But it’s not bad luck protection in any reasonable way.

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