Greedy Goblin

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Emblems vs random loot

Tobold wrote emblem rewards (where bosses drop currency or materials used to buy/craft gear) is better than random loot because:
  • RNG can be very unfair, frustrating players
  • Different dungeons attract different classes, so it's hard to create a balanced group (hard to find healer if no healer loot drops)
  • Emblems allow the instances to give upgrades to those who are already overgearing the instance
  • (commenters added) No random loot, no ninja
Spinks was first to comment "The thing with tokens is that they force grinding. You know exactly how many times you will need to run a daily heroic to get enough badges to buy whichever item you want ... random loot meant that you always had the chance of getting something useful even if you only had time for a single run."

Tobold replied with "Sorry, but statistically you need to run the heroic with the 10% drop chance exactly as often as you need to run the heroic which gives 3 out of the 30 tokens you need, 10 times. Yes, with the 10% drop chance you can get lucky and find the item on your first run. But you could also do the dungeon 20 times and still not find it."

I don't know what Spinks meant since she did not replied but actually she told "you have a chance to get something useful" and not "getting the drop". I believe random systems are much better than grind-badges system, exactly for this. To explain, let's look at the Nexus HC loot table as a (fresh lvl80) resto druid.

If you look at the link above, you find two beauties, a healer mace and a pair of spirit-spellpower gloves. Both has 19% chance to drop. If you want to farm these, Tobold is exactly right that you have to run Nexus HC many times and it could be replaced by emblems.

However you can gain other items too: SP-MP5 necklace, SP-haste boots, spirit-SP gloves, spirit-SP-meta helm, spirit-SP throusers, hit-SP offhand. All of them are ilvl 200 blues and drop with 21-22% chance.

Are they best in slot among gear available in 5-mans? No, they are not.
Are they good enough to go into T7-earlyT8 content? I dare you to say no!

The chance that nothing useful drops to our fresh restodruid is 0.8^8 = 17%. There is 33% chance to get one upgrade, 29% to get two upgrades, 15% to get three, 5% to get four. In an "average" run you get 1.6 upgrades. Of course chances decrease if spell DPS or someone who gathers offspec gear is present, but hey, they can ninja my epic too!

With the random drops, there are different numbers depending on the aim. Assuming all 5-mans have the same drop chances, I have to run 5*17 = 85 5-mans to be full ilvl200 BiS (17 is the number of slots). However I have to run 17/1.6 = 11 5-mans to be geared for the next tier. Fun fact: there were exactly 11 5-mans in WotLK before ToC.

With random loot, the number of runs depend on your player skill. With a visit to all instances once, you can be geared for raiding if you know your class. If you make 1000 DPS because you are "ungeared", than you'll have to farm more, before you are ready to wipe in plague quarter.

The main problem with emblems is "one size fits all". One cannot skip emblem runs just because he is skilled, unless there are crafted blues/epics, quest rewards or acceptable greens are available to that slot. You don't have the option to optimize your stats/time invested. You can only get BiS for lot of farming.

Same is true with every tier. If you are skilled, you can grab a collection of acceptable gear in every raid (unless others take it), without farming. This SP-MP5 necklace I'm wearing fits much more to a shaman than a restodruid. So what? Unless it's strenght-def, and no one else need it, it's mine and it gives the necessary stats to do my job. I won't farm BiS for 0.8% more overall performance. In a full-emblem system, I'll have to.


Anonymous said...

How does being skilled got to do with the number of runs needed for the loot to drop? Can u explain more clearly

Ghostlight said...

Read the paragraph that sentence starts?

To get to X dps you need Y Skill and Z Gear. If you have Y/2 Skill then you need Z*2 Gear.

Smeg said...

except that you need to divide by zero because to even get into a heroic, you "need" to be full ilvl 213, wowheroes score of something ridiculous bla bla bla.

yep the chance of gearing up fast is quite favourable, but the sentiment in the community of M&S is far lower in regards to "scrubz in blooz." unless you can rely on some skilled players to all be looking to upgrade at the same rate you are, its going to take you a lot longer to grind AH for epics just to get invited to a lolheroic.

still nice effort on bringing this to light.

Anonymous said...

Part of the excitement about killing a boss is collecting unique rewards. If every boss would drop the same exact thing (tokens/badges)it sucks the fun out of the experience. I know people hate random drops (especially when the piece you want never does) but you must experience sorrow to know what joy is.

One of my best memories of Wow was killing Ragnaros and winning the Malistar's Shield Drop. It was an adrenaline rush equal to killing the boss. Wow is supposed to be a FUN game. Standardized loot isn't fun. It's just a grind. You may as well get a $10/hr job with your time then.

Flex said...

It seems to me that the new druid example is flawed because it's the exception, not the rule - the chance of getting anything worthwhile decreases with subsequent runs.

In guild groups this is easily justified since not only is there a good chance to gear someone in a way that benefits later performance, but the group as a whole is learning to play as a team.

Where random drops fail in my experience is with pugs; group makeup (and the presence of people who roll for offspec etc) varies. Often in pugs the likelihood that a bad player will improve seems negligible, and the chance of being outrolled on a rare upgrade you're both after can make the whole experience rather sour.

For me then, tokens are a reasonable system: I get reward X for N bosses killed, guaranteed. The RNG, no matter how fair it seems, can still result in someone lucking out - like a friend who pugged Strath in vanilla some 50 or so times for a lightforge piece only to lose it to another paladin every time it dropped.

It seems much like your discussion regarding Loot Council vs DKP vs /random - tokens moves it up the scale a bit and makes it worth (sometimes) a raider using LFG. And who knows, maybe there's a chance that those randoms will learn to play better for that.

One can only hope.

Michael said...

Or an alternative way of looking at Token's is that they are really just a BoP crafting mat (that doesn't require a particular trade skill). Rather than farming some elemental or elite for a drop to craft an epic, you farm Boss' in an instance to hand over your mats to an NPC crafter....

Token should really be just a supplement to random loot, so that once you've run your 11+ 5 man runs you can use them to fill the last slot or two that you've missed out on a drop for (you can go for many runs with all your slots filled bar one or two waiting for a decent chest/legs/helm to drop).

Wiggin said...

I think Blizzard has achieved a happy medium with its current system, there is more gear than ever available. The number of pieces that drop have not really changed with the introduction of emblems. The way the system works now: 1-3 items drop with a RNG system for players to roll on, while everyone receives their emblems.

I think an important factor here is to realized emblems only replaced TIER gear, as of tier 7-9 only consisted of 5 pieces, of the 17 slots available. Those other 12 slots must be filled alternatively.

And Gevlon, your very examples are for items that don't require emblems to earn, such as rings, and necklaces.

Did it make the system more "grindy" perhaps, but I think more than anything, it made the system boring. You might have to grind for any random drop as much as the emblem stockpiling, however with random drops, there is always that "surprise" factor. It is a hell of a lot more boring to know what you are getting exactly when, and what to do to get it.

Sten Düring said...

I honestly don't care, much about random drops versus tokens, but there ARE a few stupid problems with random drops.

These problems have far less with statistics to do than bad game-design.

Random drop is heaven for me when I run with my holy paladin. Plate spell-gear? Thank you very much -- hand it over to me. Idiot system!

Random drop is unfair to "lower level" armour classes. A piece of mail could be a huge upgrade to my holy paladin, but the shaman is unable to use plate. That leaves said shaman with zero% chance of using the piece of plate, but I have a small chance of grabbing and make use of the piece of mail. Depending on the mood of the master looter I may even be allowed to roll on it against said shammy.

Random roll is hell for casters when it comes to rings, trinkets, cloaks, and neck-pieces. It's far from clear-cut if the drop is a healer drop or a dps drop.

Random roll goes against the idea behind "bring the player and not the class". This because random roll has a small chance of generating dead loot. This happens whenever you assemble a pug and something drops that NOONE can use. I can also see this happening in a 10-man raiding guild.
Sure, you could say we're idiots who didn't compose the raid in such a way that we minimize the possibility of dead loot, but if we enter the instance and kill the bosses in an orderly way, then I fail to see why we should be (potentially) penalized for doing exactly what we came for while at the same time adhering to "bring the player and not the class".

Token has ONE problem: It takes away the lottery at the end.

Lotteries have ONE problem: If you're running one "for a living" you belong to Gevlon and his ilk -- if you participate in one, then welcome to the M&S club.

Zubie said...

I have as much gear on my main hunter as I can get with conquest emblems now but I still like to run the daily heroic for some emblems.

If there were no emblems my hunter would do nothing but turn up for raids and I would be on my fleet of alts all the time :)

One funny thing I have seen recently is fresh(ish) 80s who have 2 part T8 and green or sub 187 blues in other slots (including weapon)

Nils said...

What I don't like is that there is no explanation for why these mobs carry around those tokens!

But then I always had a rough time thinking about reasons why these bosses carry around this total random stuff they obviously don't use themselves.

But thats the way the MMOrpG's move. Just like the movies: It has to be fun, it doesn't have to be credible or even immersive.

Shamus said...

The thing with emblems is that you can do your 11 instances and, by the odds, get some ilvl 200 gear AND have emblems to buy something.

Also, your stats fail to take into account overlap in item slots across those loot tables. It's of no use doing 11 heroics and getting 11 rings for example.

Plus, emblems help even out the RNG oddities. Like running 11 heroics and getting nothing for your class drop. Statistically unlikely, but we all know 1 in a million chances happen 9 times out of ten!

As someone else said, the balance seems pretty good at the moment. Without emblems you've got an unpredictable grind ahead of you.

Shem said...

I like the current hybrid system. I feel there's the right balance between random emblems, tier tokens and totally random loot.

The only exception is relics. In my opinion relics should be a random drop that work like tier loot rather than being emblem based. Tier loot is a better model for relics than emblem loot.

Indrigis said...

Actually the only thing that is heavily frustrating me about WoW's loot system is outgearing great items. E.g. Dragonspine Trophy in Gruul's Lair. Or Grim Toll in Naxxramas. In both cases the time a guild will spend actively doing the instance is likely to be not enough to let everyone get one of those.

Dragonspine Trophy used to be ranked right there with Blackened Naaru Silver. A T4 item roughly equal to a T6.5 item for combat rogues. But not getting it in time meant most people had to settle for less favorable trinkets or pay heavy amounts of gold to buy it out from lower-tier raids (unless, again, they raided with guild alts).

It would be great to be able to buy lower items with next-level emblems. You missed something from Naxxramas? Keep trying for it in your spare time or buy it with emblems of triumph, which you are currently getting from regular raids.

The time invested/stats optimization is right there with tier 9 loot, actually. Each piece can be bought in several varieties for a different amount of emblems with optional trophies of the crusade or for tokens dropped from heroic trials (which, obviously, take more effort than facerolling ToC10 for welfare emblems).

Thus, having emblems alongside random drops is pretty good - if you happen to lack a certain great item that in turn happens to be the only loot for you in some boring long dungeon, you can spare yourself the frustration and get a badge equivalent instead.

Cingy said...

I completely agree with Gevlon on this one. The only thing missing is that we also have a third gear option which is crafting. At the moment I would say that in gearing up a new lvl 80 crafted gear is more effective than instance gear which in turn is more effective than emblem gear.

Another important factor is being in a good guild.

In July I decided to change mains from priest to Shaman on a new server. After 1 week, I was completely fed up with the pug with 3x under 1k DPS and applied to a raiding guild geared in mostly ilvl 200 crafted stuff. I was accepted, mostly based on having a credible story. I asked to be given a chance to do 5 mans with them until I was geared up. I have to admit that it helps being a Shaman.

I was fortunate to be invited to an Ulduar farm run to fit a missing healer spot and did so well (3rd on healing done and last on overhealing) that I got spot on the raiding team. 4 weeks after hitting 80 I was geared 4 piece T8.5.

I got my first emblem item in week 3

Tonus said...

"One of my best memories of Wow was killing Ragnaros and winning the Malistar's Shield Drop."

Boss mobs will still drop desirable loot, making it possible to have that moment where the item you want finally drops, and where you are able to get it. Which means that you still face the possibility that you will kill that boss dozens of times and never win the item or even see it drop. It's wonderful when you finally get your hands on that elusive epic. It's aggravating in the extreme when you never do, especially if one or more other people in your group get it and you don't.

Token-based reward systems reduce the chances that you'll be the victim of bad luck. As others said, the current system has a nice balance to it-- you can still get that exciting rare drop you always wanted, but in the meantime you're also farming up useful upgrades.

Anonymous said...

I agree that emblems even out the RNG factor.

We ran heroic UP for the tanking sword so many times, it was a joke. The boss only has 4 drops ffs, sword dropped after about 20 runs. We took an alt warrior thru, dropped 1st time, another alt got it on the 3rd run. RNG sucks....

Where we DE'd the crossbow 12 times, some other poor sod probably DE'd the sword 12 times. :D

Reinder said...


i have rarely been asked for stats / or achievements. If you have good skill you won't need those ridiculous stats to get in. All you need is find a group in your own gear level and run it with them. If you want to join a group with 4 ulduar geared players they will want you to be on similar gear levels and ask for those ilevels. Instead of trying to get boosted you could simply start a run yourself and find some other freshly dinged players. Sure, you might actually wipe a few times instead of sailing through on the performance of others, but overall it will be a more rewarding experience.

Suicidal Zebra said...

Lets say that no Tokens dropped in a Heroic, and there were no daily quests which rewarded Tokens.

You reach lvl80, with probably lvl74-80 greens with ilvl174 being an approximate max. You then want to gear up for raids... but wait... no-one in your guild will 'boost' you in heroics to improve your gear as they can get nothing from the task. In fact, no-one really does heroics any more because they have already maxed out their Rep and are on Tier 8 after pugging Naxx into oblivion.

So, no more Heroics and very few PuG Tier 7 runs. If you want to raid you need to try to get into Tier 8, but the raid leader inspects you and sees your motley collection of ilvl174-180 greens and rep blues with maybe a Sons of Hodir, Argent Crusade or Ebon Hand epic. The RL laughs at you, tells you to L2P, and you quit WoW in favour of a game that lets you play at the end-game.

There's nothing perfect about Tokens nor random drops, but both serve an important function in loot distribution and player motivation for content which otherwise would be obsolete. This also gives new lvl80's an in to end-game content and bridges the gear gap to higher tier raids. And of course random loot is the ultimate MMO lottery, where you so rarely get lucky but so often get every so close to winning. And when your that close, surely you'll get the drop next time?

RyanC said...

My moron friend ran Heroic Gundrak over 25 times to get the Epic 200 pants that drop from the boss...back before Conquest Badges came out.

The result: Once they finally dropped, he ran into Naxx the next week and his Tier pants dropped.

Anyone who complains about the badges dropping, is the kind of person who reminded the teacher that she forgot to assign homework.

Ass. Hat.

Badges are a safety valve, so that instead of running a place 10 times and hoping it drops, at the end of the 10th run, you have enough badges to just buy the item you want and move on.

This game has 11 million subscribers by NOT listening to the masses, but by providing sufficient carrots and sticks to motivate people. They definitely didn't get that many people listening to the "fringe" living in basements, complaining that the days of work they put into the game can be dupicated by ppl putting in a fraction of the time.

Anyone who revels in the "joy" of random loot, has way too much time on their hands and can't be too important.

I paid someone 3000g to pass Calamity's Grasp to me. Nothing random about that, and it's MY best loot memory.

Read Freakonmics, understand what actually motivates people, shut the hell up, and enjoy your epic loot.

If you want to be hardcore, stop fooling yourself and go try EVE Online. You'll run screaming from that game, and be back in days.

Iiene of Kul Tiras said...

There are 3 loot systems, Random loot, Emblem Loot, and Crafted loot.

Each has advantages in certain situations, ala the "Rock, Scissors, Paper" game.

To claim that one is 'better' require contorted logic like you just proposed, Gevlon. There is NO WAY you will find groups of pre-heroic players that will be able to do heroics without constantly wiping without filtering for skill. There are just too many M&S in that bracket.

Singling out any of the three will have serious drawbacks.

The BEST system equally incorporates all three.

Anonymous said...

I know that if I was a mob boss in real life, the last thing I would do is carry magic armor and weapons I myself could not use but the entire player population wanted really badly.

Anonymous said...

the problem with badges is that you get them in instances where you need lvl X items and they give you lvl 2X items.

Is a nonsense. the same kind of nonsense as getting a lvl245 epic loot after running 245 death mines.blizz should fire the moron who had such stupid idea.

Anonymous said...

someone said:

"This game has 11 million subscribers by NOT listening to the masses"

are you playing wow? blizzard NOT listening to the mass? /lol actually this game sucks because of blizzard listening to the mass.

Rhii said...

Everyone's writing about this topic today...

It's just bland running for the exact same reward every time. Taking out the random drop factor takes all the uncertainty and interest out of running the heroics to begin with. And then the fact that you have to run them over and over for emblems... That's a lot of work for gear that you're essentially getting TO REPLACE with raid gear.

When WoW becomes work it's a bad thing.

Honors Code said...

Using your example of Heroic Nexus points out part of the problem. Sure, there are a bevy of drops your Resto Druid. Now tell me why on Azeroth your Tank is going to do the dungeon? Look again at the loot table you posted. There is 1 drop that a Tank would want. A cloak that is pretty much a sidegrade to a reputation item.

Anonymous said...

I think the main problem with your post is you are assuming there is something useful for the raid/party. That's true.

However on any given run you aren't guaranteed anything useful for each member. That's why there are badges. Its so you can buy the stuff if you never got anything useful.

Also its the only way to get most of the relics. Yes there are a few that drop, but what if you aren't one that is lucky enough to get it on the roll? You have to buy it.

mel said...

i acutually like having both honestly.

I ran with the wrong top guild for a long time, They allowed me to come to MC with them but if they had a "Raiding Priest" That wanted gear for any reason, then i was not even allowed to roll on it, in a years time i nearly finished the prophecy set, never ever seen the robe drop, finally got a better one when BC came out (i think i was using the Truefaith until then that i crafted myself)

Ive ran Nax several times and never had the luck to win the Robes or the shoulders but each run put me closer to being able to get them. When i had the badges i bought the gear rather then beating my head against the wall waiting for it to drop, and sure some of the badges came from OS and ulda, But i got my upgrade. The change to get the same badges from every where i suppose is odd, but they are simply pushing every one to the end content rather then making them grind naxx for a year to run (or feel like they can run*) ula, TOC ICC whatever. Same with the mount changes, Heirloom items, Recurit a friend... they just want to skip some of the grind, im just waiting for them to get the idea to have a skip level heirloom.....

Dozenz said...

Completely wrong.

With Random loot I can run 11 5-mans...or 85 5-mans and walk away with 0 upgrades. Specifically because it is random and I have equal chance of nothing dropping as I do an upgrade.

The only way you can guarantee an upgrade is if bosses only dropped items usable for one class and there was a boss for each class. And we all know why that is such a horrible idea.

Having random loot is great and needs to be in the design but they need to be combined with Emblem drops plain and simple or else you will have a flawed system.

Anonymous said...

I think it's handy to have both drops and tokens. But one of the issues I have with tokens is this:

Devs decide at the beginning how much grind you need to do for one item with tokens. If that doesn't fit into your playing schedule, then you are largely wasting your time.

So for example, if I have a healing alt. If some friends want to run a heroic and I can bring either the alt (maybe we need a healer) or my main, if I don't want to commit to grinding X badges on the alt then there's probably no point me even getting one of them.

A token represents a commitment, is what I'm basically getting at. A random drop doesn't. So for some types of player or character, the token is just itemised poorly for how much they can play. How does blizzard decide on the token prices for loot? We don't know but they probably have a rough idea how much people play. If you're below that, then tokens may not be such a great deal for you.

I don't know if there's really an answer. I'm just saying it has different problems :) At least this is what I tell people who want to know why my druid is still wearing its T6 hat.

Nobs said...

I don't see why we can't have both. Really? Why not. You have a % chance to get useful gear every run and even if you don't get gear you get an emblem that can be used later.

Consider the tokens a safety net for bad luck. I don't think we should look at a token currency system as the solution to loot.

Smart loot that drops only useable items for the group is the best answer imo... second would be no class specific items that can be turned into what ever the person wants. ie a pants token.

RFairney said...

"Fun fact: there were exactly 11 5-mans in WotLK before ToC."

If you ignore one, Yes.

Nexus, Oculus, Ahn'Kahet, Azjol-Nerub
Utgarde Keep, Utgarde Pinnacle
Halls of Lightning, Halls of Stone
Violet Hold, Culling of Stratholme
Gundrak, Drak'Tharon Keep.

Markco said...

I did 18 attempts on grobulus 10 man for the shield... sadly it never dropped :(

I hear you on the badges though, farming is annoying. Atleast with random loot there's the chance of going one and done.

Sidhe said...


I think I love you... <3

What you said are exactly my thoughts!

Nielas said...

I find your gear example from HC nexus to be deceptive.

The fact that the blue loot is 'good enough' to start raiding has nothing to do with the emblem system. If someone does not want to farm for purples then their concern is how easy is the item to get.

The 'ease' of getting an item from random drops is determined purely by the chance to drop and luck. That blue necklace might be good enough for you to raid but if it never drops for you then you are still out of luck.

If the item is obtainable through emblems then the only barrier to getting it is the number of emblems required. If one of those 'good enough' blues could be bought for 1-2 emblems then your entire argument evaporates.

Vick said...

"Of course chances decrease if spell DPS or someone who gathers offspec gear is present, but hey, they can ninja my epic too!"

This is why badge gear is good. In the event that your are unlucky (in drops OR rolls), you get something.

Say you had good gear, but are using a caster dps mainhand for healing (lots of +hit). You go to nexus, and do it a million times in hopes of getting that one item.

OR! You run a variety of instances at your leisure for that guaranteed hypothetical equivalent epic 1-H healing mace.

OR! Stop running nexus after the 20th time because you now have 100 badges and can buy that guaranteed hypothetical 1-H healing mace.

I say this as someone who is using the caster dps sword from Champions Seals to heal. I'm just not lucky with healing main hands. I can heal T8 content with that ilvl200 caster dps weapon, but an upgrade would be nice.

I've seen a TON of upgrades drop, but usually lost the roll or don't have priority as holy is technically my 'off-spec'. I don't sweat it because dropped gear is rarely a realistic progression impediment. But the reason that statement is true is because of badges and quests and crafted items that provide alternatives to grinding for gear.

Anonymous said...

"Of course chances decrease if spell DPS or someone who gathers offspec gear is present"

0 people rolling on all your items: 17% chance to walk home empty handed

1 person rolling on all your items: 45% chance to walk home empty handed

"Assuming all 5-mans have the same drop chances, I have to run 5*17 = 85 5-mans to be full ilvl200 BiS (17 is the number of slots). However I have to run 17/1.6 = 11 5-mans to be geared for the next tier. "

A) no way do all instances have 8 i200 slot items for your class.
B) once you get an ilvl200 in a slot your odds to get an upgrade on a run will drop. Your base numbers were built assuming that every item that drops is an upgrade.

Just running nexus with no competition:
0 slots at i200: 17% chance no upgrade
1 slot at i200: 21% chance no upgrade
2 slots at i200: 26% chance chance no upgrade
3 slots at i200: 33% chance no upgrade
4 slots at i200: 41% chance no upgrade

Your chances of running a heroic instance and going home empty handed increases each time you get a slot filled.

C) loot slot overlap between instances reduces the value of all instances as your gear gets better

Naturally this results in NO ONE RUNNING heroic instances. Why would you run a heroic anyway? You can buy all the BoE, crafted, or blue rep items you need to start regular ToC or naxx.

The badges add in 2 things:
1) From blizzards prospective, it is a new carrot to get people to play more = more money for them
2) Players get a steady guaranteed upgrade method to get them almost best in slot

sam said...

ummmm in my first raiding guild we had MC on farm status fo 6 months. I had more DKP than I'd ever spend but the loot wouldn't drop. RANDOM IS RANDOM. which means most get it in the median time, some get it really quick and some never get it.

Anonymous said...

Random loot is downright nasty if one is doing an instance (in this case a NON-heroic) for a single item with a low droprate.

In this case my pallytank, Halls of Lightning and the repelling charge.

18 soul crushing runs it took, of a normal 80. I could have been doing heroics at that time. Very annoying.

Badge/tier gear from loot is far better imho. There is still RND with boss loot, but while you are waiting for that drop you want, you are grinding badges for the tier items.

Anonymous said...

Over 40 runs now for Black Heart trinket from normal ToC. Still has not dropped...