There are two main camps with very different rationale regarding dungeon loot etiquette – specifically in looking for dungeon (LFD) groups. These dungeons are queued up with an interface that, after a wait (much shorter for tanks and healers), dumps you in a dungeon with random players. Chances are you’ve never seen these other players before, they’re probably from a different server, and you’ll probably never see them again. Then, along with this new-found group of temporary companions, you proceed to trounce a bunch of enemies, bosses, and hopefully collect some loot. Here is where the issue comes into play. In a LFD group, the “Need” roll, or highest priority option, is limited solely by class. A Paladin in the group, regardless of the role they’ve chosen (tank, healer, or DPS), can roll need for plate tanking, dps, or healing gear (including rings/necks wither either intellect, strength, or tanking stats). The two camps of thought vary dramatically at this point. One side thinks that it’s okay to need on anything your class can use, anything at all that is an upgrade (as is allowed by the game system) while the other firmly believes that some courtesy should be shown and the player should limit their need rolls to the role they have chosen (unless the gear is not needed by the player filling the role). So which side is right and which side is a selfish, entitled, wanker?
If I Can Hit Need Then It’s Fair
Common arguments supporting needing any piece of loot that the button allows include:
- It does not violate Blizzards Terms of Service or it’s working as intended.
- It’s not yours until it’s in your bags.
- Anything that is an upgrade is legitimate.
- If you want a different loot system then form your own group – LFD is LFD.
- How else can I gear up my ___ offspec?
- Do to others before others do to you (someone else was probably going to need on anything they could so I should do it too/first).
- You can just run the dungeon again if you don’t win the roll
Let’s Have a Little Courtesy Here, Folks
Those supporting the idea of needing only on gear that matches the role you choose typically take a moral stance:
- It’s simply the right thing to do – otherwise it’s stealing.
- Main spec over off spec is the standard acceptable loot system anywhere else, why wouldn’t that social expectation apply to LFD?
- You choose the role you are in the dungeon and can choose a different role if you want loot for that spec.
- It’s being courteous to the other players in your group.
- It’s less likely to cause loot drama.
- It’s what is fair.
- It’s exceedingly frustrating losing main spec loot rolls to players gearing off specs.
A Quick Counter & A Difficult Resolution
The principle argument for those in favor of needing anything available is simply, “it’s okay because I can”. The counter argument from the other camp always boils down to, “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” Unfortunately, it will be very difficult for these two sides to ever agree. The problem lies in one comment I’ve read recently on a discussion of this topic. The poster said, “I don’t care about you. I’m in the dungeon to upgrade my character to raid with my guild. Why wouldn’t I need on something if it provides an upgrade for me?” Although, realistically the main arguments listed above for both sides are true (with the exception that it is really easy to build a gear set for an off spec without taking gear from main specs), the players that are willing to pass on OS gear for MS in a dungeon care more about their fellow players. They care more about being decent human beings. They understand that everyone in the dungeon is a team and you should try to be fair to teammates. Whether or not it is fair to call someone, who needs an off spec pieces that a main spec player could use, selfish – the truth is that they simply don’t care about the other player. They care only about their own progress and nothing for the person they will likely never group with again. Does that make the dungeon run or the overall game play experience more fun for anyone? I’d be hard pressed to find a way that it could be.
Just Because You Can, Doesn’t Mean You Should
At first it may seem hard to argue with the logic that since Blizzard allows the need roll that it must be okay. It is also somewhat valid to say that it is unfair for one person to push their chosen self-limiting roll system on others. Then we must examine the consequences of accepting that it’s okay to need any piece of gear that Blizzards chosen system allows, regardless of the social or moral implications. I’ve seen many reasons people choose to pass on a piece of gear to another player: It’s for off spec; it’s better for you than it is for me, I already have one in my bank, it’s only a side grade (same level but different stats). If we instead apply the logic that “I will because I can” to these situations then it is acceptable to need a piece of gear: for off spec, even if the other player gets more benefit, if the stats aren’t really an upgrade, even if you already have one. If it’s okay because the button is there, then it’s okay to need a piece of gear that is already in your bags. If we back off just a little to the reasoning that it’s okay to hit need if it’s an upgrade (regardless of role) then what constitutes an upgrade? A higher item level or one with idea stats certainly fits the bill. But what about needing the piece of gear to disenchant? Sure, there is a DE option but you NEED those enchant mats for enchants to upgrade your gear. After all, often times an enchant is more of an upgrade than the slightly higher item level gear. What about needing for the vendor value? Yeah, greed can be used for vendor but it can also be used for off spec. If you can need then it’s okay, right? That gold you get from vending the loot can be used to buy upgrades in the form of gems, enchants, crafting materials or even pieces of gear from the auction house. Gold buys upgrades and therefore, in this context, gold is upgrades. I’d suspect that few would argue it’s okay to need for enchant mats and gold even though that makes the character more powerful, upgraded. If we’re going to apply player-made social construct limitations on Blizzard’s open-ended need system then the MS=OS system is no more valid than gold=upgrades yet the most accepted system in all contexts outside of LFD (and a great number of players running it) is MS>OS.
Player solutions have a few limitations. There’s no way to ensure or enforce that every player follows any set social limitation from MS>OS or even to not need gear to vendor it. Communication can go a long ways. At the beginning of a run, if there is any potential loot conflicts (cloth healer with cloth dps, plate tank with plate dps), then ask, “Are we going with MS>OS or just needing on whatever?” Then it could help limitation from denial of expectation (it’s worse to lose the gear that you expected to win because no one else has the role the gear needs than to know it’s a free for all and lose it). Of course, selfish people have a tendency to not be the most honest when it benefits them, but if loot rules are agreed upon there’s a little room to get Blizzard GMs involved. Alternatively, we could all shove decency and courtesy out the door and roll on anything. Finally, we could simply stop caring about the gear all together. Neither camp fits this mold though – one side cares about loot distribution and the other side just cares about all the loot. I know, even in a completely open ended structure, I’d have been really let down after healing the nexus over 30 times to get the mace from Keristrasza to have a ret paladin take it when it finally dropped.
Blizzard could implement a simple change or two to the loot system that would also end the debate and solve the issue. Need for current spec (system checks current role to determine item eligibility, need for off spec (system checks class), green and disenchant as they are. While this doesn’t stop a player from needing a piece of gear they already have (and shouldn’t always, sometimes a piece may be good for two specs but reforged and enchanted differently), it would make a fair system that prioritizes the role someone choose for the dungeon yet still allowing for an easy way to gain off spec gear.