Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Need before Greed - Broken as hell or working as intended

Today's post is a little longer than normal - there's a TLDR at the end if you want to skip ahead.  Otherwise pull up your chair, grab some coffee, and put on your thinking caps.
Rewards.  Without a doubt it is the single most driving force in the World of Warcraft.  While not everyone's idea of loot may be the same, at the end of the day it's why most of us play the game.  It doesn't matter if you're a pet collector, achievement junkie, PvPer or PvEer - we're all after that reward that feeds our desire to continue playing.  For the pet collector it may be that rare drop pet from an instance (looking at you Phoenix Hatchling) or the Hyacinth MaCaw you've been farming.  For an achievement junkie it might be leveling to 85 without dying (is that really an achievement?) or getting the Insane title.  Either way, you get the idea.  I personally feel that anyone who says "I'm just here for the story" is probably full of it.  I'm here for the scraps of awesome that I can pick up - be those items, mounts, or a little worm that does a back flip every once in a while. 
How the looting works
Right now the biggest incentive for running heroics is probably either the Justice Points, or the actual drop upgrades you get from the bosses.  At this stage in the game, those drops are pretty key to getting you ready for the first fiers of raid content.  Unfortunately the system isn't perfect, and it relies on people to make it work. 
At the base level, Need Before Greed (NBG) is set up so that (for the most part) once you're past level 55 or so, you can no longer roll Need on an item you cannot actually use.  This means that plate wearers can't roll on cloth or leather, paladins can't roll on daggers, etc.  This loot system isn't perfect though, and it's unfortunate.  Providing there's an enchanter of the appropriate level in your group, you have three options in the typical NBG setting. 
Need - This option is available if you can use an item, period.  Relic has agility on it and you're an elemental shaman?  Doesn't matter, it's open for you to roll on.  Awesome bow for the hunter in the group, but the tank needs some Stam?  It's his as much as it is yours.
Greed - I want to sell the item for money.  This is the default roll if there's no enchanter of the appropriate skill level in the group. 
DE - If there's an enchanter of the appropriate skill level in the group, you can choose to have the item DE'd automatically, and you just win the results of the DE.  This choice earned a lot of hate when it first came out, as enchanters felt that the group was profiting off their profession without their consent.  While I don't necessarily agree, I do think it's a nice option they've put in.
So that's it in a nutshell.  According to Blizzard's rules, after level 85 if the Need option shows up for you, you can choose to roll Need on it if you want.  You're not breaking any rules in the game, and the system is working as intended.
The horror story
Now many of us have been in a position like the one I'm about to describe.  Doesn't matter if you're a DPS, a Tank or a Healer - at some point this has probably happened to you.
You've queued for regular ToC, because quite frankly some of the best trinkets drop from there.  You've endured countless PUGs and wait time to get here, and you're all set to go.  You've queued as a Tank, because dammit that's what you do, and all you need is that Black Heart to drop and you can finally leave this place forever.  Lady Luck smiles on you that day, and when you open the chest at the end of the event there she lies.  YUSSSSS you type in chat, because you know that this is the end of a long and painful group of PUGs here, and you can finally start tanking some of the bigger instances. 
Then it happens.  The moment that you'd feared from the start.  Someone else hits Need for their offspec.  You cross your fingers and promise to eat all your vegitibles forever if only this item will drop itself into your bags.  As time ticks down you're busy sacrificing goats and preparing voodoo dolls to enact your vengence.  Final choices are made, and poof - your beloved trinket lands in the bags of some DK who doesn't know which end of the sword to hold, much less know how to tank. 
Depending on your level of rage, you might have your world go red.  You curse the SOB who decided to take YOUR loot.  Loot that was destined for you by the very Gods themselves.  You put the player on ignore, flame them on the forums, vow to never tank a PUG again, and then go reroll a warlock so you can at least be OP in PvP. 
The two sides of the same coin
Blizzard has stated more than once that this is exactly how the loot system is supposed to work, and that they don't intend to change it anytime soon.  Of course they said that about race changes, faction changes, xfers from PvE to PvP servers, and GC himself said they didn't plan to nerf Paladins before Wrath (suckers).  What this tells me is that everything is fluid, and this policy might change sometime in the future.  Of course Ed McMahon might show up at my door with 10 million dollars too (is that guy even still alive?). 
From what I can tell, the community is split into two main camps, with a few independents running around.  Kind of like Republicans vs Democrats.  On one hand you have the group that supports anyone rolling need, on any item, that is an upgrade for them in some way.  Main spec, off sepc, wanna play that some day so might as well get some loot for it spec.  It's the policy that Blizzard supports, and the Goblins out there do as well.  The justification is that everyone put the same ammount of effort into killing said boss - so why shouldn't they be able to profit from the encounter.
The other side clearly stands behind the Mainspec > Offspec (socially enforced) rule.  If you que as a healer, then you by and well better keep your hands off that DPS piece.  Same goes for tanks rolling on healer gear, DPS rolling on tank gear, etc.  If you want to roll on that kind of gear, then you should queue as that spec. 
I've seen this from all sides, be it the Tank bitching out the DPS for rolling on tank gear - or DPS doing the opposite.  Generally the tank will cite that they took the beating, the abuse, and spent the time gearing/leveling as a tank, so they should get priority.  The DPS claim that their queue is longer, and that the tank can just instaqueue again if they so choose.
This issue bothered me so much on Sunday, that I actually opened a ticket to have a ring xferred to some random tank from a PUG I ran.  I felt honest to goodness bad about having rolled need on a tank item, and had it sent to him.  Now - one could argue that I 'needed' it as much as he did, so that I could build a tank set - both to help me and help out my guild.  I'd spent just as much time wiping and such in the instance, and Blizzard obviously supports me on this one, so why shouldn't I roll on it?  The flip to that of course was that not only was the tank a genuinely decent guy (from what we could tell) he also wasn't a terrible tank. 
Now I'm not asking if I should or shouldn't have rolled on it in the first place, or if I should or shouldn't have kept it.  At this stage in the game, that's a decision that every player has to make for themselves.  Some might rank this worse than ganking a lowbie in PvP, or killing someone who's in the middle of questing.  Is it as bad as nabbing an ore/herb node from under the nose of someone who's clearly trying to clear a mob from on top of it?  What about nabbing a quest item spawn?
A solution
If you think the issue is currently broken, you might appreciate this solution.  My solution is to add a 4th button to the loot options - Need Offspec.  Since the gear is already separated by useability (plate, cloth, swords, etc), I don't think it would be overly difficult to add a flag that checks your current role in a group.  If you're flagged as a healer, you can't roll Need on an item that you can use, but that doesn't have INT on it (as an example), but you could instead roll 'Need Offspec'.  This roll would have priority over Greed/DE, but less so than Need.  It would allow you to have a realistic chance of nabbing the piece you would like, without upsetting the social rule of Mainspec > Offspec.  You could even go so far as to make Hit a trigger stat for DPS vs Healers.  Of course there's all kinds of arguments about why a DPS might not want yet MORE hit, but fortunately reforging helps to remove some of the issues with being excessively over the hit cap.
I certainly don't think that Offspec roles should have to roll Greed with everyone else, and in fact I hesitate calling them Mainspec and Offspec - it's more like Queued role and not-Queued role. 
Then again, this might be exactly how Blizzard wants the system to work.  The game is an MMO after all, and social interaction should play a part in it.  Asking "Mind if I need", or helping someone clear a node might be more polite, and might trigger some of those interactions that they're hoping for.  They may want to keep some of the free will associated with the game, and allow players some freedoms in how they will behave.  Yes you CAN do this, but do you really want to?  Depending on who you are, that might just be enough.  The Gevlon Goblins will probably say "up yours", take what they want and move on.  The more social players might play a little nicer.
Right now I don't know exactly where I stand on this issue.  I'd like to see the "Need Offspec" option implemented, but I'm sure it's more difficult than I imagine.  I'll probably have to go out and commit some heinous form of griefing and harassment tonight just to balance the nice part of me that sent back some gear - kind of like an atonement.  Trying to keep the pendulum in the middle
I'm interested in hearing your thoughts on this, as they regard to the system being either broken or working as intended - and if you think it's broken, how you think it could be improved.  If you want to bash me for what I did, that's fine as well, just don't get too carried away with the profanity.  This isn't Wombcrusher's blog after all. 


  1. The only way I can actually see a Need Offspec button working is if the overlap between gear types disappeared.

    For instance, there is Caster DPS items (Usually with +Hit on them) and Healer items (Usually with +Spirit on them) but there are many items that work for both Healers and DPS. That middle ground needs to go away, or else your back to the honesty system about what your main spec and what your off spec is, and if you're leaving it up the honesty system, the current Need/Greed is just as problematic in that regard.

    So you'd have to re-itemize things to be for Healers, Tanks and DPS so that this would work correctly... at least that's my impression.

  2. I agree - or even worse look at rogue vs feral tank gear. I hesitate to call it an honesty system, since rolling need on something you can use - regardless of spec - is the rules that Blizzard has in play atm.

    I guess the best practice would be to state up front that you're going to be rolling on anything that suits your fancy - and accept that the group might not react well.

    Either that - or just assume that everyone you run with is going to do that.

  3. When in doubt, I just ask. I agree that the current system is problematic - I've seen tanks lose the Black Heart to non-tanks, etc. Nine times out of ten if someone says, "Mind if I need for off?" most of the group will say, "Sure." If a main spec person really does need it, they'll usually speak up too. (In this case, if an offspec person wins it I'd think they should trade it to the main spec person). Social pressure is important here. If everyone expects to have to cede gear to main spec before they can gear their off (and behave accordingly) then it will work. If they're just out for themselves, then it won't... But I've seen groups able to apply social pressure to make someone trade an item they "shouldn't have won." It'd be nice to have that "Need Offspec" button just as a way of saying "I'd rather this didn't get sharded since I'd take it, but don't want to take it from someone who needs it more."

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  5. I love the idea of a "Need Offspec" button, and it would be nice if they implemented it. I suspect that the main reason is the gear itself rather than the Need Before Greed system. As Vrykerion said, some is dual purpose, some is less-than-ideal-but-still-an-upgrade and so on. The big problem with implementing this system is going and "tagging" all the gear so that the NBG system knows what to do with it. Keep in mind that you would have to do this with every single item that can drop in the world (NBG system works in groups outside of dungeons as well, of course). I imagine that would be a tremendous amount of effort for a system that works just fine, but not perfectly optimally.

    * Deleted and reposted to correct Vrykerion's name. :)


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