Having looked at the origins and basics of DKP in the last post, it’s nice to have an insight into what a DKP system means in practice to a guild. An excellent blog post (and series, which I will refer to frequently) is provided by Buzzkill, a former member of the guild Nihilum, the world No.1 guild for large parts of Vanilla and TBC WoW. The following is taken directly from his blog, with my own comments in red:
Methods of distributing loot vary from guild to guild, and it was no different for all the guilds I played in. It’s a very important aspect of the organization, since character progression is influenced by gear and gear alone, and the quality of your raiding team is a function of all your raiding members’ gear and their ability, free time and all the jazz that a raider needs to be useful. But gear comes first, the best player in the world with shitty gear will not be as useful as a godly geared scrub, it’s just the kind of game WoW was, and everyone had to adapt to it. So the best way to distribute loot would obviously be giving it to good players, not waste it on scrubs and having your 25 best players adequately geared and prepared for anything new progress challenges have in stock for you. If only it was that simple… there’s new recruits you need to take care of, people you know won’t be able to attend a hundred percent of progress shouldn’t be super-decked, your backups can’t be walking around in blues and there’s bound to be corruption at some level, so loot distribution can quickly become a thing that makes or breaks the guild. Obviously, top end progress guilds usually don’t use the same “fair for all” systems as more casual and friendly guilds do, because their goals are totally different and since the theme of this series of blogs is the differences between Nihilum and Ensidia, I’ll focus on the systems these two guilds used, what were their positives, negatives, how they influenced the community and progress.
Here, Buzzkill picks up on an important aspect in determining which distribution system a guild should adopt – the primary aims of the guild. A guild focused entirely on securing the world No.1 spot might be willing, or even encourage an (on paper) unfair and unjust distribution system if it facilitates their primary aim. On the other hand, a guild whose focus is mainly to have fun and play with friends will emphasise the fairness of their system over and above distribution in a way that might increase productivity. That awesome trinket might be a waste on your Priest who attends regularly and has been a long standing member, but lethal in the hands of the Warlock who just joined the ranks and seems slightly unreliable. If the guild as a whole value plain fairness overall, both might agree that the Priest should receive the trinket. If the guild values progress overall, both might think it fair that the Warlock receives the trinket. Perceived fairness and contentedness with a particular distributive system is inextricably linked with the overall aims of the guild employing that system.
Nihilum – Awake DKP aka the worst system ever created
With a spoiler in the title, a more observant reader would quickly notice that I never had any high regard for this system whatsoever. It was the most corrupt, retarded and fail system I’ve seen, and I’ve seen some useless dkp systems. I don’t know what exactly Nihilum used in vanilla for distributing goodies, but when I officially started raiding with the start of TBC, Awake had this system set up and running, and I don’t think many people were pleased by it at first. There were two rules this system used that made it different from any other I’ve seen until then, the first one being “Kungen gets everything he wants.” Him being a main tank, raid leader, guild master and all-encompassing big kahuna of Nihilum, I never minded or cared about it, mainly because I never really shared any items with him – I have no doubts I’d be steaming if he took a piece of gear he already owned just for a different enchant, like he did more than once. Most progress guilds feed their main tanks with gear anyway, so this was nothing out of the ordinary for a top end guild, but for me it was something I haven’t seen up to such an extent and I definitely haven’t seen tanks taking stuff for other specs and for different enchants over other members. It was fun watching them get annoyed every time he did that though, I loved it!
In the following section, Buzzkill illustrates plainly how the problem of the DKP Gap can have serious negative effects for a guild. While Nihilum could survive their own practices due to their continued success, such practices in a typical guild would quickly lead to its own extinction.
The other rule, and this was the one that made the whole system unbearable for most, wasn’t as much as a rule, as much as it was an upgrade element of the DKP system. What it meant was, If 1 player got his item in Nihilum he could upgrade it to the next item tier with only a fraction of the cost of a full item. So let’s say a Tier 4 chest cost 100 dkp, upgrading it to Tier 5 would not cost you another 100 dkp as it was normal, but 10 dkp instead. So an older member could upgrade most of his stuff for the cost of two to three full items as long as he upgraded it tier by tier. It didn’t work for all items like that, but it did for most, and this was the fucked up part about it. Surely, one could think that this is not as bad, but imagine being a new recruit, having to get upgrades and as annoying as it was being behind everyone on points, you also had to pay way more for each item. This made loads of trials and recruits leave us, because it was unfathomable for most to get any upgrades worth s**t and maybe someday even being able to compete in getting the item among the first ones in the guild. Consequently, if they did loot whatever upgrade they had to – if they didn’t want a particular item, we’d obviously just force them to take it and charge them anyway – they’d rack such immense negative points, that it would take them literally months to even get to loot anything over a newly passed trial, that had his dkp tally at zero points.
A f**ked up system indeed, only overshadowed by the fact that Awake made all the item costs up himself, which was another dimension of corruption on Its own. He wasn’t the fairest guy to be seen around, in fact, that slime ball was so corrupt that he somehow managed to pull off stuff I never thought any sane person with scruples would even attempt to. One of the examples, and super annoying as such, because it affected me, was the difference in certain prices of items in the same slot, namely a caster shield versus a caster offhand. Shields were 4-5 times cheaper than offhands and his reasoning was such that the mage or a warlock will gain much more from it than a healer will gain from a shield. Truth is that it’s quite the opposite, and whenever anyone approached him to complain, we’d all get the same response. “Thomas (Kungen) and I spoke about it and he agrees with me”. Obviously, when we asked Kungen about it later, he would have no recollection of such a conversations with Awake, because they never happened, that sleaze personified lied about it all the time and the few times someone confronted him with it, he just sleazed out of it, typical and so not surprising.
The effects of this system were grave and the consequences not good for the guild at all. On one hand, you’d have a tiny group of players extremely well decked in best-in-slot gear, while other members, important core members among them, wearing crappy gear a few tiers old mixed with blues and PvP items. While Awake was wearing pretty much best paladin gear for the entirety of his stay in the guild, a much better player JohnnyR, for example, wore a PvP helm for months, because he simply couldn’t get an upgrade over anyone, since he wasn’t there since day one. We’ve had a really good warlock quit over the fact he got one upgrade in almost six months, and that set him back so far in dkp, he wouldn’t get another item in months to come. Surely a disheartening position to be in, especially since with every week’s reset, every member of your class becomes better geared and more useful than you, for the tenth of the price you have to pay. I personally hated the system, but wasn’t that bothered with it. Being there from day one and never using tailor set gear, I had the best imaginable position. Always in top 5 dkp due to high attendance and even higher levels of no-lifing, having to pay next to nothing for the next BiS upgrade, it was all good for me, but it wasn’t good seeing raid deteriorating due to the dkp system being misused for some individual’s gain.
In the next post referring to Buzzkill’s blog we look at the ‘Loot Council’ distribution system adopted by Ensidia; the guild resulting form the merger of Nihilum and SK Gaming. We also look at other alternative distribution systems to DKP.