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Are Hard Modes the New Line in the Sand Between Casual and Hardcore?

Loot Systems Pros and Cons

Let's face it - even if your primary motivator in raiding is hanging out with your friends and making progress through instances, it feels good to get that upgrade you've been needing. And on the flipside, seeing that upgrade you've needed for moths pass you by for the eighth time can be frustrating. If you are finding that you and your core raiders are having more of the latter feelings than the former, it may be time to re-evaluate what loot system would be the best fit for your raid team.   In roughly the order of complexity and officer intervention, the most prevalent options are: 
  •     /roll
  •     Suicide Kings (SK)
  •     DKP
  •     Loot Council

I have not included the pure wish list option despite it having been one of the most successful loot distribution systems I've participated in. My 40-man guild used it for BWL and AQ. We consistently had the same 40 people week-in and week-out. And after some officer abuse, locked down the ability to change one's wish list. The maintenance of the wish list Excel spreadsheet was onerous and time consuming. And bringing in new people as a guild is midway through progression in an instance could results in a lack of parity in loot distribution.

Full discussion after the jump.


A small Master Looter enabled step up from using the in-game need/greed system for loot distribution. This system seemed to rise in popularity at the end of Burning Crusade when Kara PUGs/alt runs became an every day occurrence. All players interested in an item /roll 100. The Master Looter gives the item to the highest roller. Overall, works best if you truly have a casual guild, and an ever-changing raider base. 

Some - but not all-raids using this method limit players to 1 main spec and 1 off spec item per raid. Off spec rolls are sometimes done as a /roll 200. 

Your casual raiders who can only come to raids every one in a while appreciate having the opportunity to roll on any item that catches their eye in the raid. Everyone has the same random chance at obtaining drops. Can quickly gear up new raiders. Limits officer responsibilities to just handing out items to high rollers. 

Your core raiders who come every week may consistently lose out on items by having to roll against a revolving group of new folks who need everything week-after-week. Inability for those core raiders to gear up can hinder progress. Debate over whether or not it is fair for someone in their first raid to get an end boss drop over a core raider can set your guild forums aflame for days. 

Suicide Kings (SK) 

Mod-based round robin style loot distribution system. Everyone /rolls for their spot on the list. Top person has first dibs on any loot that drops, and so on down the list. If you take an item, you move to the bottom of the list and all other persons in attendance in that evening's raid moves up the list. Anyone not in the raid stays in their same spot. Works best for casual guilds or alliances that have a fairly set group of players. 


  •  If a raider does not participate for 4-6 weeks, they are dropped to the bottom of the list. This is referred to as "decay" and keeps players from returning from an extended absence and taking loot from progression bosses they did not help make their way to.
  •  Some guilds separate the tier gear from non tier gear lists to keep players from passing by non-tier upgrades.
  •  If working on multiple instances at one time, can create additional lists for each instance as well, thus keeping someone who has only done farm content from walking off with BiS pieces over the regular raiders for that progression instance.

Turn-based loot distribution. List tends to turn over rapidly. Since it's mod-based, the officers do not have much manual management to do. Can post the list to your forums or other players may synch up the mod with you to additionally keep track of where they are. 

If the person administering who got what is not careful, you can accidentally shift players down the list who should not have been moved. Players may pass by upgrades because they are holding onto their spot for a coveted item. Players can come back from several months absence and grab a key item (like your first tier chest from an instance), leaving your active core raid team fuming. Excessive bottom feeding can become the norm, with a recently "suicided" person taking home an entire night's category of loot. 


Dragon Kill Points, known commonly as DKP, assigns points for showing up on time, downing bosses, and working on progression attempts. these points are then used to bid on items that drop. Can be partially automated through a variety of mods.


  • Zero-sum DKP with all items that drop having a set price you must pay to buy them.
  • Half-DKP with any item you want costing half your total DKP. This rewards frequent raiders while still making it possible for a new to the raid payer to obtain items their first night.

Your core raiding group will not lose out on items to first-timer raiders. Concrete connection between amount of time given to the raid and the possible rewards. Can help stem the grabbiness of items people are unlikely to use.

New raiders may feel as though they will have to spend months raiding before obtaining any items. If you don't have decay or reset DKP on new instances, returning raiders can walk off with your best progression upgrades.

Loot Council

Possibly the most personally subjective and player-intensive method of loot distribution, Loot Council relies upon a pre-set group of people, typically officers, to decide whom should receive each drop. Many folks absolutely love this setup, while others would prefer to chew on glass than to be a part of this system.

May be combined with a wish list wherein the players indicate their Best-in-Slot or most wanted items from the instance.

If items are awarded based on appropriateness for the class and degree to which it is an upgrade, the raid team should be improving as a whole, and there should not be much wasted gear.

May reward players who haven't spent as much time gearing up over players who come every week and have worked on crafting/heroic/badge/reputation gear. Can be hard for officers to be objective - or be perceived as being objective -- when assessing who should receive an item. See also the many LJ posts RE: "The RL's GF got every item that dropped in our raid last night."

For Further Reading:

None of the DKP systems are perfect-- I know there must be more hybrid systems out there and hope to hear from folks on what they're using.