Thursday, October 1, 2009

Defining 'Fair' in Loot Distrubution

For the first time playing Warcraft, doing hundreds of PUGs, I was involved in my first real piece of loot drama.

It was a true pick up group with none of the players knowing each other before hand. We were doing the Coren Direbrew daily. What happened is that both the Brewfast Ram and the Direbrew remote dropped. We all agreed to roll 'need' on these two items, except two of us. I passed on the remote because I already had it; our party leader passed on both items because she already had them.

As you can see below, the same person won them both with an identical roll of 93! Some luck, huh.

This luck did not sit well with our group leader who insisted that it wasn't 'fair'. She told the person who won the two items to give the remote to the second highest roller. A discussion ensued, which I did not take part in, over whether this was fair or not. In the end, the person who won both the loot drops gave the remote to the second highest roller, which happened to be our tank. I didn't say anything because the result didn't effect me.

But even as the discussion was going on I was bothered by the idea that giving the remote to the second highest roller was 'fair'. It bugs me still.

Typically my response to loot dramas is that the party members should decide on the loot rules before hand. But the loot from Coren Direbrew is unique in the sense that both the remote and the ram are vanity items. It's not gear. The Direbrew event is also unusual because it is the one time in game where the members group up to increase the party's chance of seeing the loot. Everyone can summon him once a day so there are five chances for the party to see the loot.

Further, both of the ram and the remote are rare drops. Wowhead estimates the remote dropping 4% of the time and the ram dropping 1.6% of the time. A fight where both of them drop is extremely rare. To have a fight where both of them drop and the same person wins both is extraordinarily rare. And the odds of the same person winning with the exact same roll are out of sight.

So I can forgive our party for not discussing the loot rules before hand because frankly it would have never occurred to me that that this situation would come up.

To me, the person who won both the items just got lucky. Extremely lucky. I don't think it was fair to ask him to give them up. On the other hand, we all pitched in our summons to to make the party work. There is a sense in which it was fairer for that loot to be distributed among all the party; one person didn't 'hog' all the good stuff.

I do wonder though what would have been the reaction of our team if our lucky fellow had won both items on two separate fights. Certainly no one would have complained if it had happened on two separate days (with two different groups). After all, if our dear leader didn't win her mount and her remote in the same fight then it must have been under one of the other scenarios. Why does the fact that the drop happened in the same fight make it any different than if it were two separate fights or two separate groups.

Our lucky fellow still has his ram; I'm sure he's happy about that. But I can't help but think that it was he who got the raw deal. He won both rolls fair and square. If I had been in his position I don't think I would have given up the remote.


Anonymous said...

Ahhh !! The loot drama rears its ugly head even here in our beloved inn !!!!

Tbh, im all in favour of "spreading" the loot around, why be greedy ? Its only purple pixels after all. And the items are sure to drop again at some point (either this year or next!!)

These ppl who go on PuGs and roll on every item even if they have won 1, 2 or 3 pieces before really grip my poop. In my humble opinion they should be kicked from a raid/grp !!! Why only improve 1 lucky person ? why not have 3-4 ppl all happy ?

Cacknoob (horde wannabe)

Anonymous said...

it does seem a little unfair, but then as Cracknoob says, when you are in those multi-boss encounters and players roll on item after item, you begin to wonder how fair that is.

I think the thing is perspective... you have it with the concept of multiple-runs... multiple-drops.

In many ways, the "as luck would have it" would be enough for me

Eaten by a Grue said...

Everyone agreed to roll the way you guys did. Rolling is fair. The guy won both rolls. Ipso facto, him keeping both is fair.

Klepsacovic said...

It's not fair in the sense that someone got loot and someone did not. But that is inevitable, so we have to settle for equal chances at loot. In that regard, it was fair.

As for spreading the loot, I would prefer something like top rolls gets first pick. That's how I see shards done, but then again, those tend to be done all at once, so that isn't really applicable here.

Anonymous said...

It is a senario not likely to happen often, I think the fair really needs to sit with the person who handed what he won over, It depends on how badly he wanted both those items, eg If I could pick I would pick the Ram, because its another mount, but the novelty of the remote would also be fun - but either pieces would just be either another mount to add to a collection, or another piece of junk in my bags. I feel for the guy, in the world of luck, he won fair and square, I hope that he got to justify his position, and that he at least weighed up who got what out of the other summoned drops, because that changes if the person who rolled 2nd on the remote already had gotten loot, and if it was the last summons or the first summons should also be considered. Kudos for him to trying to be more 'social' him being willing to concede seem to have stopped the drama from esculating as we all know it can, but if they were objects I desired for what ever my personal reason, and I had won them in a fair and random roll. I certainly would be presenting the chance/fair/who else got loot case forward in my favour.

Leah said...

I'm not a nice or fair person. at least not when it comes to strangers. if I had won both rolls fair and square? no way, I would have given up one of my items. at the same time - I had passed on a ram more then once, because it dropped for one of my alts that i play once in a blue moon. Had it dropped for the character I really wanted it on? no way, I'm passing, no no.

sometimes, we're more lucky then other times. sometimes, we get a run of really rotten luck and keep losing on rolls. but when you decide on a random number generated system as a method of distributing the loot? whats NOT fair in my opinion is all of a sudden to decide that numbers were wrong and a winner should pass to the loser. if winner themselves chooses to, its a different story, but they shouldn't be forced or guilted into it.

Stabs said...

I think if they had asked him nicely this would have been a non-issue.

Guy was obviously quite relaxed about it as clearly he's well within his rights to keep both. He let the tank have one which might be him just being nice rather than him being browbeaten by some pug group leader.

Guess what really matter is how people felt afterwards. If the guy who won the rolls is like "whee, I got my mount" it's fine. If he's like "B*stards, I'll never do another pug again ever" it's not fine.

There's really no way for a bystander to know unless you ask him.

weenie said...

Keeping them both would have been fair.

If it had been a guild run, then perhaps a little different but these are like strangers, you don't owe them anything!

The guy was just lucky.

Rhii said...

Absolutely sticking with the rules determined at the outset is fair. It's not likely at all that that situation would occur, but if someone sat down and thought about it, it's certainly a *possibility* that both items would drop and that the same person might win both (honestly, I don't think that the dual 93s are relevant - winning is winning, whether you win with a 93 or a 47). That's something that should have been discussed at the outset if they wanted to split it up.

I would not have given one up. And I would have not been more than the standard amount of bummed if I'd been one of the people who lost the roll.

Kanye said...

I've noticed at least one person on my server pulling a trick to increase their chances of a rare brewfest drop - letting the other 4 people in the group use their daily shot at Corin, then mysteriously disconnecting. I would have thought nothing of it until the same person popped in two different groups in one day (I was on 2 alts) and the exact, same disconnect happened. Followed by a call in LFG later that day for a group from this mage, "unsaved dps LFG brewfest".

Thistlefizz said...

It's funny how changing the loot drop mechanics to allow trading of soulbound items has found a way to increase loot drama rather than decrease it...but I suppose it was implemented with the intent to fix mistakes, and only the hope that it would reduce drama.

Elnia said...

What's interesting to me is that the results in the comments break down right along the line of the results in the group. Some people think the fair thing to do was to give it up, some people think it was fair for him to keep them both.

I do think Stabs has a cogent point. It never occurred to me to privately ask the winner (after it was all over) how they felt about what just happened.

@Rhii. You are right that the dual 93 had nothing to do with it. But it was an amazing coincidence I couldn't leave out.

Darraxus said...

I think the person who won the roll should have gotten both. They are vanity items. I would have kept both and told them to eff off. Random rolls are random. They are fair.You cant change loot rules after the fact.

Valeviser (Antonidas - US) said...

Seems to me that the unspoken implication is this: Was this a roll hack? As you point out, the odds against this happening are pretty astronomical....

candy said...

I always discuss loot rules on the holiday bosses in advance, ever since the first year of the Horseman having someone roll need on the squashling pet, and then say "oh, I'll probably never use that hahaha."

I typically tell folks to roll Need on any/all of the rare items. The only "don't be greedy" rule I have had in place or seen asked for in groups is on the two brewfest mounts. We roll them separately, with folks asked to pass if they have gotten a mount in that session of summons. B/C yes, last year, one person took a Kodo and a Ram from the same group of us in 5 minutes time. We never grouped with him again, and thus a new loot rule was born.

BTW that darn remote feels awful rare for a blue.

Bristal said...

You're sitting at a roulette table and you are lucky enough to hit 2 big jackpots in a row. I'm sure most people would agree that you give the second jackpot to some poor schlub just to be fair.

People sure do whine when they don't win, don't they?

Amber said...

He won fair and square. I don't understand how loot drama even exists (aside from people ninjaing which is a whole different can of worms), it kills me.


Last night I ran into some looting "drama". Not really drama I guess, I just didn't like how something worked out.

I don't understand how it's fair for an enchanter to come in and say, "I can DE everything"...need on everything, DE everything and then only allow the group to roll on the whatever shard that comes from the Epic item. What?? You're needing loot that granted, we probably aren't going to use, but could at least make a couple of gold off of just so that you can get some enchanting mats? And you think you're doing us some favor by letting us roll on the shard at the end?

It pisses me off that enchanters get away with this time and time again.

Elnia said...

@Amber. We are off topic but yes this is a sore point for me too. What I see happen a lot is that the enchanter makes all the shards but then at the end of the run two or three people just leave because all they cared about was the badges. So the enchanter then gives out one or two dream shards and keeps the rest for himself. I'm at the stage right now where I just greed everything in heroic 5-man PUGs. I'd rather have the shards but the truth is that the money from selling the loot is better than no money at all.

Che said...

I think that since everyone agreed to roll on the loot, as opposed to another method of loot distribution, they all agreed that the luck of the roll would determine who got what. I think it's unfair to change the rules after the fact just because it didn't turn out how people wanted or in a manner deemed fair.

I would have just taken off and called it a night, with thanks to all as I activate my hearth!

Anonymous said...

I see alot of "If i rolled and won both id keep them" replies...which is kinda sad. It is, after all, only pixels.

Yes you might have been lucky...but wouldnt it make you a better person to say "its ok, ill only take 1 item"

And to say "set up rules before you go" the microscopic chance all these things happening at wouldnt even cross ppl minds.

The question isnt why should i share...its Why shouldnt i share ?


Pangoria Fallstar said...

Why shouldn't I share?

I agreed that based on a random roll, we would determine who gets the item.

I rolled high, I get the items I want. I NEVER have to do this stupid holiday fight for the rest of brewfest.

Hmm, I think that might be a GOOD reason to keep both.

Being a GOOD person, is in part about being fair. Fair is following the rules as set up. If they had agreed instead to roll if you need and pass if you've alreaedy won a rare, THEN that would be different.

Asking him to pass over "just some pixels" is the unfair part of this. I know "it's just a game", but it's a game that we're playing, and if it's not fair to give the other side 1 point just because I make a 3-point shot, then why is it fair in this game to give him my "pixels" just because he was unlucky?

Anonymous said...

But the likely hood of both items dropping and being won by the same person are more than id like to i dont think it would have even occured to set up loot rules before hand.

And this isnt a game of football where you "give" away a point befause you are in the lead....this is a game where you are all part of the SAME team, just the point of "give away 1 point becayse you are in the lead by 3" doesnt even come into it.

" and i NEVER have to do this stupid boss again" isnt that just abit selfish? What we are talking about is, after all, vanity items. Items that are shag all use.


Larísa said...

@Cacknoob: I think that a PUG for the Brewfest boss is too short for a team spirit to be created. I doubt that anyone would have hesitated about sharing the loot generously if it had been a party of friends or guild mates. Or if they had been wiping their way through a tough instance for hours, finally resulting in victory and boss done. But the BRD boss is just a joke, so the whole thing boils down to a lotery activity. Not the best ground if you want to establish any sense of belonging to a team.

I think I would have shared if it had been me. But on the other hand I wouldn't blame the guy for keeping it either. As you say - it's just vanity items. Not a big deal.

Pangoria Fallstar said...

I asked my wife this question, she said if asked to share, she'd simply hearth.

Exception would be if she had been doing it with friends, but a bunch of strangers telling her to share loot she won based on rules set up before hand? Hearth.

Staffan said...

The probability of rolling the same number on a d100 twice in a row are nowhere near astronomical. It's 1 in 100. The probability of rolling something on the first roll is 100%, and the probability of rolling the same on the next is 1%. It's not exactly likely, but given the amount of rolling that goes on in WoW it's going to happen.

The chance of winning two out of two items isn't exactly astronomical either. Assuming everyone is rolling, your chance of winning any one item is 1 in 5. Your chance of winning two in a row is 1 in 5 squared, or 1 in 25.

Pangoria Fallstar said...


Saying, it's just pixels, or just vanity is a BS social response to someone saying they refuse to share after they won.

These are strangers, and therefore they are part of ANOTHER team. Only in a guild would you share, since they are on your team.

Everwrath of Silvermoon said...

on 25 man pugs, our organiser usually says "one roll per boss on gear, and 1 tier piece per run"

Anything less than 25, and anything goes (main spec before offspec of course)

I think in the absence of pre-established loot rules, the winner of both rolls should have been allowed to keep the items, or do with the second item as they saw fit.

Anonymous said...

@ Steffan So whats the percentage of the Ram and the Transporter dropping and the same person winning them both..... thats what i was getting at

@ Pangora so you dont see being on alliance as a Team then? thats interesting....

Clearly this brief showing of hands by ppl means im in the someone who doesnt actually care if i get items or not....I think more of the social side of things....whereas you lot think of the Phat epix i can get....

and ppl call me immature....


Larísa said...

@Cack: I can't help giggling a little. At the Stormrage server I don't think you've got a reputation for being kind, considerate social and generous. I've always known that you are deep inside, and your comments here prove me right. As a matter of fact Larísa is probably less kind than Cacknoob.

Cheers (and don't forget to pop by the ally side once in a while. Your voice is a bit annoying sometimes but we sort of miss you.)

Anonymous said...

Fair is foul and foul is fair. Hover through the fog and filthy air.

Anonymous said...

@ Larisa

Dont let this little blip lull you into a false sense of security....I AM evil and a b*****d, but i know when to be fair, unlike some of these ppl who have replied.


Abe said...

Oh, loot drama... Great Article! I recently wrote an article about some of the most known and least known loot systems in the game. While it may not be directly related to the above, it may help quell some of the loot drama in your guilds... feel free to check it out!

Elnia said...

@steffan. Your calculations are off because you are treating each event as an independent event when they are in fact dependent.

Staffan said...

Dependent? In what way are two d100 rolls dependent? OK, I realize there's no such thing as true random numbers in a computer game, but at least in theory they should be considered independent, right?

Elnia said...

@steffan. The rolls are dependent because the independent variable is the initial drop. If the remote doesn't fall then there is no d100 roll. The probably of getting the remote is not 1/5. It's .04/5 or .008 on each summons.

This is why, if you could, it would be better to solo Direbrew because then your odds would be 4%. The *summons* are independent from one another but not the loot.

This is also why you see a lot of trashy statistics on the forums. The odds of getting the Rivendare mount are not cumulative because each instance is independent of the other. Or at least that the way I have always understood how Blizzard loot creation works.

Staffan said...

Actually, assuming everyone in your group is honest and have a summon and such, your odds of getting a mount or a remote would be the same for a full five-man group as for soloing it. That's because while you have to split the loot five ways, you also get five shots at it.

Or possibly a little more, since if someone already has a piece of loot, they can't get it again (except for the tankard). So if one of your party members already has the remote, you will have a roughly 5% chance of getting one instead of 4%.

But my original post aimed at the specific assertation that the odds of rolling the same number twice in a roll were so large that it implied some kind of shenanigans. Not true, because that still has the 1% chance I posted.

Anonymous said...

@ Steffan tell me...what are the odds BOTH items drop at the same time and the same person wins them...its alot higher than you think.

Cacknoob (is always right)

Staffan said...

The chance of both items dropping is pretty small. The chance of both dropping and being won by the same person is 1/5 of that (item #1 will be won by someone, item #2 has a 1/5 chance of being won by the same person). What I was taking issue with was that it sounded like the OP thought rolling the same number on the virtual d100 twice in a row was pretty much impossible.

Lerbic said...

I think the "astromomical odds" comment was a cumulation of:

1. Both items dropping
2. Same person winning both on a random roll
3. The winning roll being the same number

Individually none of the events are anything to write about, but in combination its pretty rare...

I'm no statistician, but add (or multiply, or whatever you do for stats) to the above that this happened in a PUG with a writer from one of the most popular wow blogs on the internet, AND it caused drama (if it happened in a pug with me for example, i probably wouldnt even notice)

Thats a rare event imo !

Vedast said...

I wouldn't have given the remote. No way. I have seen this drama many times.

Unless it has said beforehand not allowing the same person to get more than 1 loot has no sense. It's just variance. You can win 3 consecutives rolls as you can roll less than anyone 3 consecutive times.

In the long run everyone will win the same amount of times. Why should be punished the player that has good luck in the short run?

Someone that wins 2 consecutive rolls deserves the same than someone who wins 2 rolls in different days.