Monday, January 19, 2009

The DKP mystery

In real life I never ever gamble. A year ago I spent three days in Las Vegas without pulling the arm of one of those gambling machines even once. Beat that if you can! The idea to play poker or other games where you actually can benefit not only from being fortunate, but also from having some skill, being able to make calculations and making judgements about the expected behaviour of your co-players, never crossed my mind. I feel like I was born to become a loser. So why give the winners the pleasure of seeing me fail?

I think this reluctance towards gambling is one of the reasons too why I’d never do like some businessmen among WoW bloggers and speculate in material that might become more valuable in the future. I haven’t got the nerves, the self confidence, the knowledge or built-in calculator in my head to do it.

Supporting the DKP idea
But lately I’ve realized I’m already involved in a sort of gambling, either I like it or not. I’m thinking about DKP. Now, don’t misunderstand me, I’m not against DKP as a way of distributing loot. On the contrary. I’ve experienced loot council in my former guild, and even though there were good things about it, it took an awful lot of time, time we would rather have spent on making more bosskills. The DKP bidding is infinitely much quicker and smoother.
Another drawback if you use loot council is that players who gather good gear outside of raids will sort of be punished for it. In a DKP system they’ll pass and save their DKP and then be the first ones to get upgrades when it’s time to move up to the next level of difficulty. You’ll be less likely to get into the situation with the paladin who wanted a break from raiding, which was discussed so intensely among bloggers the other week.
All in all I think DKP systems lower the risk of people feeling that they don’t get loot according to how they contribute. And it smoothens out the randomness of plain greed/needrolling.

People saving up
But even though I’m a supporter of DKP I definitely don’t master it. I never seem to grasp the tactics of how to manage my points to get the best possible value out of them.

In our guild we have a system where we gain 4dkp per hour and extra points for first kills. In the bidding we have a minimum amount at 15 for normal items and 20 for tokens. If you’re the highest bidder on an item you’ll get it for the amount that the next highest bidder wanted it for + 1.

Lately we’ve had an intense discussion on our forums about how people bid – or rather how they don’t bid. Everyone seems to be saving up – not for Ulduar or other future endeavours, but to have enough points available to be able to get the most attractive items, such as heads. Such drops have lately gone at 100 + DKP, which is quite a lot when you think about it. To me it will mean four weeks of raiding, since I can’t raid more than two times a week.

So If I want an item like that I’ll need every single point for it and I can’t bid on anything else, or at least not more than a minimum. Since so many players are doing the same, this leads to another phenomenon. The drops end up in the hands of the players with the highest amount of DKP. Those are the only ones who have guts and DKP to put real bids on them. The rest of us tend to bid 15, if we bid at all. The result is that those players, will get their upgrades at an insanely low DKP cost. More than once an exclusive item has gone at 16 dkp, since it’s the bid of number 2 + 1. So they get all the upgrades – AND they still have their dkp left so they can put those 100+ bids and get the heads or other very attractive items they wanted as well. The smart will get richer and the dumb will get poorer, as Gevlon would have put it. And I’ve definitely been one of the dumb guys, so far.

Hurting the guild progress
Now, you could ask: what’s the big deal? After all, we’ve all agreed about the system, joining the guild, and the system is fair, everyone has had their chance to bid. Well, the problem is if gear that could have been used will get sharded. And I’m not only talking about gear in raid getting sharded, which happens, though rarely – many times someone will pick it up for off-spec. But gear will also get sharded if a person for instance gets an upgrade for a slot which he has earlier upgraded in Naxx. Then the first drop he had will get disenchanted, vendored or at least isn’t used any more.This can be an item which someone else could have benefited from. But since he was so cheap about his DKP, the DKP spender got both of the items, the first and the second. And thus the first one will be “wasted”.

You can’t expect a guild to gear up absolutely evenly, but I think it’s good for the guild if the differences in gear standard aren’t enormous. If the gear level varies too much it will put a strain on the guild and it will increase the risk that the best geared people will cast an eye on alternative guilds which are more progressed and will offer bigger chances to upgrades.

Eye-opening discussion
The discussion in the guild forum, with some 50 posts so far, has been very interesting and an eye-opener to me. I’ve realized that I by saving DKP to the head I long for, I sort of undermine the DKP system. It won’t work as intended. It would probably have been smarter by me to forget about the head (or rather let they guys who had saved DKP from TBC get their heads and patently wait for my turn in a couple of months) and instead go for a bunch of smaller upgrades, each of them nothing too special, but together pretty good. And what I’ve understood a good head will be available soon anyway, for Wintergrasp badges, so there’s no need to be hypnotized by the tier drop. There will be other ways.

The mechanisms of DKP are a mystery to me, but as long as I raid I can’t turn my back to it. I’ve got to figure out how to play this game in the game. I’m glad though that loot isn’t my biggest motivator when it comes to raiding. If that was the case I would really be into trouble.


Klepsacovic said...

This is part of why I don't like DKP much. It is a secondary game which gives no consideration to the benefit of the guild. I remember when I was in a DKP guild I learned to hoard and then binge for the items I wanted. In the meantime I was skipping all sorts of steady upgrades.

A good loot council is the best system to me, though obviously a corrupt council is probably the worst system imaginable.

Jong said...

oh no, the loot discussion! i hope everyone in the guild can work it out and be happy.

i've been very fortunate. i share loots with 3 other guys and they're all selfless when it comes to sharing shinnies. for us, the loot system is just a formality. whenever a good item drops, we talk it out and give it to whoever needs it the most. last week, they let me have an awesome sword. next week i hope the kel't axe drops so i can pass it to our dk. /grouphug /you had me at hello.

Delbin said...

I always hated any loot system that let upgrades get sharded. Having a minimum cost for items just doesn't do any good. Items are going to have wildly different benefits for people, so setting an artificial value on them doesn't let people bid what they really think it's worth.

As far as DKP systems go I always did like the lowest +1 method. It let people bid what they think items are worth without them freaking out about overbidding. I used it when I ran an AQ20 raid and it worked pretty well. The paperwork was a pain, though.

Every kind of point-based or list-based loot system will have hoarders. That's more a fault of the players than a fault of the system. Heads excepted, there's no saying when or how often an item will drop. It's always better to get consistent upgrades than one super special item that's only a few points better than an alternative.

I wouldn't touch a loot council with a 10-foot pole. I've been an enhancement shaman for a long time and very few raid leaders understood how I worked and what loot I wanted. The last thing I'd expect is a fair decision on what items I'd want the most.

Rohan said...

Well, one important piece of information is knowing the correct bidding strategy for your system.

The system your guild uses is called a Vickrey Auction. The optimal strategy in a Vickrey Auction is to bid what you think the item is worth.

Ignore how other people are bidding. Determine how much DKP you think the item is worth and bid that much. Either someone will value the item more than you, or you will end up paying less than than you think the value is.

In the case where the one guy is low-bidding, he's using a bad strategy. He's try to save DKP by bidding low, he's trying to get a good deal by making assumptions about what other people are willing to bid. But this is the wrong strategy for Vickrey Auctions.

My advice to you would be to determine the value of the pieces of loot that you want ahead of time. Say to yourself, "The head piece is worth 75 DKP to me". Then bid that amount if it drops. Don't change your bid in order to save DKP by guessing how other people will bid.

Anonymous said...

Stay tuned! Loot systems seem to be the topic in the blogsphere and I'm trying to write up about the one we use - the one we chose specifically because there are so many negative sides to dkp.

There are better systems out there!

Gevlon said...

There are many systems out there. All can be beaten.

The open auction can mostly be beaten by bidding low. People hoarding, so you can get insane amount of items in no time. Granted, neither is the "very best" but all is OK.

So I would say put 20DKP on everything that is a considerable upgrade and forget the helm.

About not taking risk in real life: well, in the game you can only lose pixel golds. Why don't you give it a try?

thedoctor said...

"I’m glad though that loot isn’t my biggest motivator when it comes to raiding. If that was the case I would really be into trouble."

Amen sister

Ixobelle said...

i have the wonderful luck of always being in the guild that breaks up after 2 months of solid raiding.

one night, out of the blue, drama will erupt, and half the guild will run off this way, and the other half will run off the other. it's all ver melodramatic, but it's taught me in situations regarding DKP to spend spend spend those points as fast as you earn them, because this time next week there won't even be a guild.


Anonymous said...

"It would probably have been smarter by me to forget about the head (or rather let they guys who had saved DKP from TBC get their heads and patently wait for my turn in a couple of months) and instead go for a bunch of smaller upgrades, each of them nothing too special, but together pretty good."

I agree totally! DKP is worth nothing if you save it, you have to spend spend spend.

I find DKP gets less stressy for me when I can remind myself that everything will drop often enough for people to get their upgrades. All the DKP does is determine which order you get your upgrades in. You'll get your hat upgrade, whether it's a tier piece or a non-tier drop. Maybe you won't be the first person to get it, but you'll get other things first.

I think the system does rely on you being in a semi-fixed group of people who runs the raids regularly. So that you know eventually everyone else will have their hat and you'll get it for a minimum bid. All you have to decide is whether you want it sooner enough to bid more.

I'm not that fond of the DKP minigame but that's how I explain it to myself.

Carra said...

I don't like DKP myself. As yes, one of the things is, people will hord DKP to bid on the best items such as the super 2H they are after. Small upgrades will get passed on because then, you won't have enough DKP to get that super item. And it's always sad to see upgrades get sharded.

Yes, there's some profit to be gained here. Take those items noone else bids on. You'll get a lot of small upgrades for low DKP each.

Besides that, do you need the helm? If it's the tier 7 item, you can just pass it and get the other 4 items. Or wait your turn, you'll eventually get it for minimum DKP.

Anonymous said...

Wait a sec, people are using dkp carried through from TBC? They're using dkp earned while farming easy-mode, post-nerf TBC bosses, to buy loot dropping from progression kill bosses in WotLK? Seriously?

I think I see a problem with your dkp system right there. The guys who got all the loot they wanted in TBC will have been doing nothing but farm dkp in raid after raid after raid before WotLK shipped. You're never going to match their dkp totals. And since they're not actually spending what they're bidding, they're only spending what bidder #2 bid+1, they're not spending dkp fast enough to equalise either. Your system is set up to maintain the dkp superiority of the longest-serving raiders, in a nutshell.

What we did was to have a seperate dkp pool for every Tier of loot. Kara dkp was distinct from SSC/TK loot. Black Temple, Sunwell and MH shared the same dkp pool. And Naxx/Malygos and Sartharion dkp is diffferent again. That way, some guy who raided with us all through the Black Temple farm nights then took a 6 month break with 200dkp banked cant come back, level to 80, join a Naxx raid and win everything on his first night.

Secondly, if you think something is worth 20dkp but you bid 100dkp because you know most people are only going to bid 15 and with your massive amount of dkp banked no-one's going to outbid you, when you win, you PAY 100dkp. You don't pay 16 because that's one more than the next highest bidder. If you want to play that game, fine, bid 16 and take the cahnce that someone isn't going to bid 17. But if you bid 100 you should be prepared to SPEND 100. Bidding 100 in this system isn't a bid, it's waving your "look how much dkp I have willy" in everyone's faces. If people actually paid what they bid they'd bid properly and loot might actually be sold for what it's worth.

Esdras said...

We went through the same thing last year.

I for one hate DKP and it seems most hate it too in my guild but unfortunatley there are greedy epic hungry people in all guilds.

We never used to use it and it was good but there was 2 people out of about 35 who ALWAYS wanted to roll on stuff they can use even if it was a slight tiny upgrade for them but a huge upgrade for others.

Its sad but we needed to take it into effect because of the tiny greedy majority but sometimes it needs to be there to stop the epic hungry people.

Larísa said...

@All: I feel touched by all of those responses in just a few hours. I guess I somewhow was communicating that I feel a bit clueless and frustrated at the whole system (even though I definitly approve of it, I can't see any better alternative). And all those responses felt like a bunch of friends, giving me a little comfort and good advice in the situation. It's really the pub feeling at its best.

@Kleptsacovic: Yeah, thats exactly what it turns out to: a game within the game and not the kind of game I'm normally interested in playing. I definitly had no idea about its exixtense when I started to play WoW. (On the other hand, what DID I know about the game at that point. Not much...)

@Jong: I don't know your loot system, but how will that work when it comes to tier tokens? That's one of the things we've been discussing. It seems like there have been some sort of discussions going on in the tank channel which could be interprated as some kind of agreement about dkp bidding. "Will you guys bid on this?" sort of thing. And that is definitly strictly forbidden since it will destroy the system and make it more difficult for other classes to get their tier stuff.

Anyway: we're having a healthy discussion, helping each other to understand the DKP system and strategies better. In a mature manner.

@Delbin: so far we haven't seen much get sharded at least. If noone wants it for main spec, people can have it for offspec for free (with rolls). But yeah, shards = failure imo. The more shards you get, the more it's about time that you go to some more difficult and rewarding raid instance.

@Rohan: thank you for very good advice. It sounds like some of the people in my guild say and it really does make sense. For me this means that I should spend a little more time on gear research than I've done. I've got a decent picture, but it isn't good enough, I should know all possible drops, which ones I want and find out how much I'm willing to pay. Bidding will then just be a technical thing, not much to worry about.

@Oriniwen: looking forward to read that. I didn't think there existed such a thing as a flawless loot distribution system, but maybe you've made the Big Breakthrough!

@Gevlon: yeah, I've decided to forget about the helm. As soon as I had done that typically enough almost only plate dropped during the raid, so nothing to bid on. But perhaps I'll be more lucky next week.

@Ixobelle: this is the first guild I am in that uses DKP, so I haven't experienced that. And I'm pretty naïve when it comes to guilds. I give my guild my heart and I always think that my latest marriage will be the last one, the one that will last forever... But you're probably quite right in your thinking. However if my guild broke down I think my loss of DKP would be the thing that worried me least.

@Spinksville: well we are a pretty steady guild so I guess it will work in the long run. I guess I'll get a helm sooner or later. My problem is my lack of playing time. If I could make a 10 man Naxx beside the 25 raid every week the head thing would be solved quicker. But I can't, not at normal playing hours. There aren't many people who want to start a Naxx run at 11 pm friday night when everyone else is either asleep or out partying with their friends.

@Carra: I've already got the rest of the T7 (10 man version). Its just the helm that is an annoying quest item. I've got another helm from CoS with a meta socket that I'm considering to switch to, but the problem is that the meta I would want (Chaotic SD) would require 2 blue stones, which isn't optimal. I'd lose spelldamage if I switched out the red ones I've got. So I hesistate. God, sometimes I wish I was one of those Excel-crazy people who make spreadsheets to sort those things out.

@Pewpewlazers: the dkp has been wiped a couple of times before for various reasons, so I think they felt that it wouldn't be fair towards the faithful raiders who've been around always to do it once again. I can see the point of wiping it between different raid tiers, but I can also see the backside of it.

@Esdras: I don't think there are any greedy people in the guild. We all do our best to gear up for the best of the raid. I think the main problem is that we don't quite understand how to play the system. Another problem, of course, is that we don't have exactly the same raid attendance. We only require 2/3 raids a week and some of us can't make any more than that, while other always are there. And from that the differences will start and grow over time.

Captain The First said...

It seems to me that the DKP systems I ran into so far only award attendance.

Attendance is easy to come by for raid leaders/ tanks and healers which in turn means they gather more DKP than others.

Which in turn means they'll always have the edge over you when it comes to bidding.

Carrying DKP over from TBC is like saying to a new member you will not get your desired epic this year.

DKP always reminds me of AV afk'ers... they get rewarded for attendance too.

DKP is unnecessarily complex in my book... but I suppose life is different for raiding folk.

Jong said...

"I don't know your loot system, but how will that work when it comes to tier tokens?"

Yeah, side discussion wouldn't work and wouldn't be fair if we had DKP system.

We use Suicide King. Someone on top of the loot priority list can pass a good item to someone lower on the list.

Leah said...

the guild I'm in uses zero sum dkp. we only get dkp if the the item gets sold - whatever it sold for gets devided between all of the raiders. there's a dkp bank, for such occasions where for some strange reason we didn't down a single boss and got no loot. everyone starts off with the same ammount of base points (so even new raiders get some bidding power and we definitely reset dkp with each new tier of raiding, or at least we did with expansion release)

meaning that its next to impossible to hoard dkp and there's no need anyway and the items get sharded only if they are either too minor of an upgrade or there's simply no one that can use them (I'm looking at you, spellpower plate)

of course people still save up points here and there but one of the factors that discourages hoarding is the fact that we do full clears every week, so loot is plentiful, people know that they will get their upgrade sooner other then later. the other factor is that becasue of the way system works, you get a lot more dkp if you spend it then if you hoard it.

as far as strategy - don't hoard, bid. sooner or later, that upgrade that other people payed through the roof for will end up in your hands for next to nothing :)

Sir Nicholai said...

I think you might find the system called EPGP I=interesting, and solves many of the problems of DKP.
In EPGP (effort points gear points) you get effort points for sowing up, time spent in raid, downing bosses, and some for wiping on new content. You get gear points for getting gear. If a piece of gear drops, whoever is interested in getting it sends a tell to the lootmaster, and he compares their effort point to gear point ratios. whoever has the highest ratio, that is, whoever has given the most in proportion to the guild and gotten the least loot in return, get the item, and is credited with an assigned value of gear points (which the system defines). So people who have been with the guild for a long time get more loot, since their ratio will be higher, but new people can get loot as well, and compete effectively with old people, since it's ratio based, not a flat value. My guild also decays effort points 5% every time we raid, so there's a slight "use em or lose em" mentality.
For more explanation read

I think this is the best system for assigning loot, period, hands down. It takes much less time then loot council, and awards people proportionately for their contribution to the guild's raiding, while not being biased towards new or old raiders, but treating them fairly. I look forwards to your comments and thoughts on such a system. :)
-Bruski from Chromaggus

Ixobelle said...

i'm the same. I buy domain names and set up forums and dkp systems for everyone, i lead raids, and generally try to be the negociator when shit breaks out, but in the end, for all my hard work, I just end up with a bunch of useless URLs like "" and nothing to show for it.

I really need to find a good guild and settle down again. this expansion (and end game BC) have been too much of a roller coaster for me, and I take it personally when friends turn their backs on the group.

belh.. wow. need a new hobby.

Natuu - Kor'Gall EU said...

Interesting reads here :D

Here's what my guild uses:

In TBC we used a DKP system based on showing up for raids (10 DKP) and 1.6 DKP for every loot-piece dropped, including BoE or BoP from trash.

If you wanted a drop, you did /roll after ML posted the item, to show your interest. The one with highest DKP won.

We used fixed prices: 40DKP for normal drops, 50DKP for Tier-tokens.

This system lead to aforementioned hoarding, because people wanted to have first dibs on certain pieces (T5 head comes to mind... Vashj has allways been a pain to us, and we didn't down her that much).

Also, and I found this a VERY negative down-side (even though I was playing a rogue) off-specc drops were same pricing! Combined with the hoarding, this led to hurting ourselves, since hybrid classes did not take off-spec gear...

Now, in WotLK, we use the same gain-system, however we've moved from fixed-price to a limited blind bidding... After ML posts loot we whisper LOW (20DKP), MID (30DKP), HIGH (50 DKP) to him/her, letting him/her know how much we value the drop. If there are equal bids, current amount of DKP is decisive.

So far (we've been raiding naxx25 for a couple of weeks now) I really like this system! There's little to no hoarding, people really need to think about drops and hybrids are bidding on off-specc gear!

Of course there's a lot of players "in need" of upgrades, but I think so far, out of 9-ish raids (cleared once, bit the dust on Sapph once) we've only sharded 3-5 pieces, of which 2 DK-relics because there wasn't a DK present...

Some response to others: "Lowest bid +1" or "2nd highest bid +1". What if there's only 1 player bidding?

P.S. We have Tier-pools, each Tier has its OWN DKP-list... This way T7 hoarders don't "abuse" their DKP to force others out of T8-drops...

Larísa said...

@Captain the First: we actually compensate a bit for the guys who signed up but didn't make it into the raid since there was too much dps on too few spots. If they show up and are available as reserves for the first hour they get 4 dkp as a reward + any first kill dkp on bosses that evening. I think it's fair and it's a good insurance to keep up the spirit and motivation for overpopulated roles and to make them keep coming ready to jump in as reserves if something goes wrong.
I think it's wrong to compare dkp for attendance to rewards for AV. At AV you can do almost nothing and still get rewarded. (as long as you're moving people won't report you). If you don't perform as a raider you'll lose your spot in the raid team and get a guild kick.

@Jong: We used Suicide King while we were in a temoporary raid alliance and dkp seemed too complicated to deal with. It seems like a decent system to me. Of course it's got some flaws just as all loot distributions systems have, but still it's far superior to for instance random rolls.

@Leah: I can imagine it becomes a bit furstrating if you're in a learning phase and have several wipe nights without killing? But thats when the bank is needed of course. I don't quite see the mechanics in your system, but on the other hand I'm an idiot when it comes to those things. Just understanding the system of my own guild is challenge enough.

@Sir Nicholai: I looked at it and it seemed fair as far as I can tell. But God, how complicated! I'd never be able to get all that stuff into my head. And the nightmare to administer it... I hope there's some addon for guilds that use it.

@Ixobelle: /comfort. I hate when I read about the pains of bloggers who seem to be good players and deserve better. I'd just like to wrap you in my arms and bring you to a nice and decent guild like ours. However you all tend to be on US/Oceanic servers and moving characters across the ocians isn't allowed (yet)- :( Who knows, one day perhaps...?

Larísa said...

@Natuu: wow, another system! There really are many of them around. I like the idea of just choosing between low, medium or high bid. Less thinking and easier decisions, at least for me.
To answer your question: as I said we have minimum bids of 15 for normal drops and 20 for tokens. If there's only one bidder he'll get the item for minimum bid.

And if there's no bidder it will be offered for offspec for free. We rarely shard anything even though I guess it will be more common as we farm Naxx.

Sir Nicholai said...

@ Larisa
Yep, there is an addon that does all the work for you, so it's not too much of a burden on the lootmaster.

Note: my guild only uses this in 25 man raiding, for 10 mans, we just do free roll. It's fast, simple, and we're all mature enough to know that if we have an off week we'll catch up later most likely.
(although it was hilarious a few months ago in kara when we pulled a fresh 70 in and he got 11 items in one night)

leah said...

@ Larissa

I'm horrible at explaining things :P

basicaly - in our system - there is a set ammount of dkp overall. the median is 50 points per raider (every new raider starts out with 50 points when they join the raiding roster). when person purchases an upgrade - the points they spent are distributed between everyone who is in the raid, including the person who made the purchase (so for example if they spent 30dkp on their new shoulders, everyone then included ends up with about 1dkp earned with 2 points going to dkp bank)

because the only influx of new dkp points comes from new raider joining the roster - there's very little inflation. the only time people manage to gather over 100 dkp is when they were simply unlucky with RNG and nothing dropped that they could bid on.

this is the system in a nutshell (there are more details to it :P ) I hope I made it a little bit clearer :)