Sunday, July 10, 2011

Who gets to need on gear?

I got a very good question the other day, on my post on "Top 5 things that will have me kick you". Commenter Ralthrus asked me to clarify what I meant when I talked about ninjas because as he said it;

"If someone is able to need on an item then it's rightfully as much theirs as anyone else who can need. Doesn't matter who needs it 'more.'"

I can definitely see where Ralthrus is coming from with this question. There tends to be somewhat of an elitist view on who should and should not need on gear, to the point where it almost becomes counter productive. Just as with the old Gearscore addon, people forget the uses and reasons to why such a system is developed and just take it too far to the point where people around think "does it really matter?". People just learn something without understanding it, and then think everything else is dead wrong. I remember when I was laughed at on my level 15 warrior for using a staff. It just happened to be the 2hander with the highest high-end damage in the game at that level (and seriously, who cares what a level 15 does?). But people only saw a warrior with a staff. It might not have been the best weapon around, but it was damn good. Just as in our everyday life, we see people who make it their business to advocate something, eventhough they don't have the slightest clue to why. I've met plenty of people who want to kick the level 34 warlock in my group for needing on a wand with spirit. Is it really that important? Does it matter who needs on what and why?

Yes, it does matter. Most people playing know that some stats are basically useless to some classes and crucial to others. Intellect is a very useful stat to a mage, but useless to a warrior. But that's only the obvious. Even with stats that a class can use, there are differences. A rogue can use agility a lot better than a warrior, although a warrior can still benefit from agility. And even further, a rogue can use a dagger a lot better than a hunter.

Each item holds 100% potential, but not all classes can use 100% of that potential. Some classes use more, some less.

So he can use 95% of that item and I can only use 60%. Why should I care? It's still better than what I have, it's still an upgrade to me too.

Yes, why indeed. You don't have to, of course. And in many many cases I don't care. When leveling characters or otherwise when the differences aren't big enough or I don't expect to keep said item for very long, I don't think it matters - as long as you at least intend to use it. Most importantly, as so many people tend to forget, just because you'll want to aim to use as much potential as possible, doesn't mean that that is the only acceptable way to use it. It's not 100% or nothing. But there are times when it actually does matter.

As with so many informal systems built up around human interaction, this one relies on a "treat thy neighbor as thyself" idea. An item drops and you know that you could use it, but someone else could use it even better, what do you do? When you pass that item to another person, it is because you hope people around you will honor this system when it is time for you to have a chance on something. The more important, or more of a difference an item does to us, the more we care. The same goes for everyone around us. You're not the only one who wants good upgrades. So if you hope that people around you care when something good drops for you, you should care when it is someone elses best gear at stake.

But you don't have to. We could have a system where everyone frantically need on everything that is the slightest upgrade or would bring some vendor gold. That would also be a viable system and I honestly don't think there is something morally wrong with that, as long as that is what we've all (ie the majority) decided to use. It just would be a way less good system of distributing gear, and we seem to have realized that somehow. So most of us have decided that instead of having a system that is equally sucky for everyone, we've got one that is equally beneficial to everyone.

Ralthrus goes on to explain that Blizzard condones this behavior since they allow it, and thinks that being able to need equals having the right to need (or at least that is how I understood the comment).

"Go ask blizzard. They will tell you that it is working as intended."

It's not really that simple. Saying that we should need on it because we can is shortsighted. With the system we have it is true that you might lose some gear you wanted right now, but on the other hand you might gain a gear piece you'd lost otherwise the second time. This system is built around being able to do a smaller sacrifice right now for a bigger gain later, and fortunately most people realize this.

Blizzard have been asked many times to change the need-system, because people abuse it. And they've answered and changed many things about it (just imagine, back in Vanilla there was only need and pass, and you had to ask everyone to pass on loot if you wanted it! Couldn't trade it when someone else had won it either). But it's impossible to build the perfect need-system, because no AI, no line of coding, can ever tell what your character needs as good as you. Because we can have multiple specs, classes and roles in WoW, there could be plenty of reasons for you to roll on something that you might not need right away. This is exactly what Blizzard have stated as their primary reason for not wanting to change the current system. It would make it impossible to gear up any other spec than the one you're currently on. Imagine you want to start tanking with your paladin, but only have holy gear? You join a group as a healer and hope to get some tanking gear. This wouldn't be possible if all you got to roll on was more holy gear. Getting gear is a big reason to why we do instances, to many the only reason. This unofficial system doesn't forbid anyone from needing on gear they can, and intend to, use. It only kindly asks them to consider whether the needs of someone else outweighs your own. I am glad that Blizzard think we're intelligent enough to work out a system of our own that works, and don't need everything to be with 27 rules attached just because we can't agree. There will always be people who don't understand this concept however.

Blizzard have carefully designed loot-tables so that all classes and all specs have about equal chance to get the gear that is best suited for them (although holydins who never got the bracers from Cho'gall probably don't agree with me). That means that if everyone follows this system, it will even out in the end. If everyone needed on everything it probably would even out in the end as well, but a lot of gear would be wasted in the process - it would take longer for you to get the gear you really needed. Instead you would get more items that are less of an upgrade, or for vendoring. This current need-system is agreed upon since it is supposed to effectivize gear distribution so that each drop is made as usable as possible. And since Blizzard have made it so that some classes can roll on more items than others, any other system would turn out unfavorably for anyone who isn't a warrior.

To get back to the beginning here though, I do agree that some people take this too far. The idea of the system is to have someone who can use the item the best have prio, not that anyone who can't use the item to 100% not have a chance on it ever, even when no one else needs it. When a gear piece drops, imagine everyone in the group being ranked on a list based on who can use the item the best (which has nothing to do with skill, but how Blizzard has designed the game). Whoever is top on that list should be allowed to have first dibs on the item. But if he doesn't want it, the second on the list should have every right to need on it. I'll allow anyone needing on basically anything, as long as they can and intend to use it. I don't even mind holydins needing on hit-items, as long as no one else wanted that item and it somehow still is an upgrade to them (this happens suprisingly often to me in pugs). If there is any stat on an item that is beneficial to someone, and the item is better than what they had, I don't mind them rolling. But I don't think they have equal right to it as someone else who'd use it more, just because they both can press the need button. Maybe next time something drops, the tables will be turned, and you'll probably be damn happy that that shaman doesn't need on your tank shield, just because he can.


  1. Got too rambly and I didn't read everything.

    Although I think you may have mistook my stance as "elitist."

    I merely meant that if you need a piece of gear. Need it. The game is designed so that anything of your item class (ie. Plate, Leather, etc) is available for the "need" roll.

    I understand the (old?) system of "if he can benefit from it more then he should have it."

    I personally think that this went out the door when we started using the LFD.

    You see, the old system would also reward you when you gave away that piece of gear. Someone that you would potentially group with again would have better gear. Hence making the dungeon easier the next time you went into it.

    With the LFD in place you NEVER, yes I said never, see that person you passed the gear to again.

    So when faced with the choice of either gaining say 5 str. or passing the gear to someone you will never see again and therefore gaining 0 str.

    The obvious choice is obvious.

  2. @Ralthrus
    I tried to explain why your system is a less good one than the other, but it was towards the end and if you skipped that part you completely missed the point of the post unfortunately.

    I don't agree that needing on everything that drops (that you need or for money) just because you won't see the other person again is a good idea. Because they will do the same to you, so if good gear is what you're after, you're probably worse off with your system. If all you want is gold, then go ahead. I think there is a reason most people go with the other system, ie "if he can benefit from it more then he should have it.".

  3. Like me the other day. Was in an instance and a bow dropped (i'm a hunter). Was a huge upgrade for me both dmg wise and agility wise. The warrior tank need rolled it and won. That is one of the cases where just because you can need doesnt mean you should. even after i stated that it was a huge upgrade for me the response was "everyone needs a good ranged item"