Effort Point / Gear Point: A quick overview

One aspect of raiding which every guild has to face is deciding on a loot system. There are plenty out there, and none are perfect. Simply using /random to roll for loot is fair-ish but can easily lead to one person getting a lot more loot than the other folks on the raid due to dumb luck. Suicide Kings is just… well, kind of dumb in my mind. While it does afford a structured and turn-based acquisition of loot, it does not reward participation in any tangible way. DKP, normal and zero sum, are problematic due in no small part to an overriding preconception that the DKP system is unfair. No, really, try and convince a bunch of people just starting out on raids that DKP is fair. I *dare* you. Been down that road a few times myself… and for those who don’t realize, DKP (Dragon Kill Points) started in EverQuest. It was no more well received there I assure you.

The two that seem the most fair are EP/GP and Loot Council. However, here are the major differences.

EP/GP:
Number-based system using a ratio between earned Effort Points and obtained Gear Points to determine with zero bias the Loot Priority of the people interested in an item. Very fast. Does not impact the speed of a raid clear at all.

Loot Council:
Fallible human beings making potentially biased judgments on who needs/deserves an upgrade most. Much like Communism, it looks really great on paper, but all you need is for someone to even suspect favoritism and the system falls apart. Can be fast, but can also degrade into debates on nuances of class needs and stat weaknesses of individual players. Very likely to impact raid speed.

I’m big on accountability and, as an Astrophysics major, an even bigger fan of cold, unfeeling numbers… so we went with EP/GP. Let’s  take a quick look at how it works.

First off, you’ll want the EP/GP add on for WoW. It’s available here and is very easy to use. Some minor setup is required, but it’s a onetime thing (done in the Guild Info window) which then applies to everyone in guild who uses EP/GP. This is all covered here.

So, how does this work? What are the bare basics? Well, it’s simple…

A player gains Effort Points (EP) for just about anything the guild determines. Usual sources are being early to a raid, being on time, downing bosses, wiping on progression content, and providing Fish Feasts, enchanting mats, flasks, etc to the guild vault. As a guild though, you can determine lots of other sources if you like. For example, if you’re a guild that also RPs a lot, perhaps effort points can be awarded to those who organize and run an RP event. Or, you might give EP to your guild’s webmaster, or to those who help pay for the guild Ventrilo server. It’s really up to you and your guild. We even award equal raid EP to those on standby so long as they are online and ready to be subbed in if we need them.

Gear Points (GP) are acquired when a player gets loot. However, it can also be acquired as a means of paying for enchanting mats taken from the guild vault, or even, in hopefully rare cases, as a punishment for bad behavior. The GP value of an item is automatically calculated by the EPGP add on using a mathematical formula that looks at the item’s gear level, slot, and quality (though it’s unlikely anything short of epic would be applies to the EPGP system anyway). In some cases, the add on will give you two values, which must be manually picked between based on the class/spec that’s getting the item. I’ll get into this a little later.

Using the ratio between EP and GP (thus the name… EP/GP. Effort Point over Gear Point), the add on will also determine and display the Loot Priority (LP). When an item drops, we have everyone interested in it for main spec /random 100. The loot master then checks EPGP for the LP of those who rolled. You can sort the list by LP, so simply go down the list till you see the name of someone who rolled. The highest LP gets the item, and the application of GP (and thus the lowering of their LP) happens immediately within the add on. If, by some weird chance, there is an exact tie (unlikely since LP is figured to two decimal places), then the results of the /random 100 are used as the tie breaker.

So, about these items with two GP values I mentioned earlier. Examples of items with two values are shields, physical damage ranged weapons, one-handed weapons, and two-handed weapons. So, how do you determine who gets which value? It’s not that complicated if you think about it logically.

Two-Handed:
Hunters get the lower value, because for them it’s a stat stick. Everyone else gets the higher value, because it’s a primary or only weapon.

One-Handed:
Warrior and Paladin tanks get the lower of the two values, because their weapons are largely stat sticks and not really intended for DPS. Everyone else (spell blades, rogue weapons, etc) get the higher value, because they’re more centric to those classes.

Shield:
Shield tanks get the higher value, because shields are more their bread and butter. Holy Pallies and caster Shaman get the lower value, because for them it’s the shield that’s more of a stat stick.

Physical Damage Ranged:
Hunters take the higher value, and other classes (Rogue, Warrior) take the lower value. This is because, again, for a Hunter it’s their bread and butter, and for the others it’s mostly just stats.

Things such as wands do not have two values, because there’s no one nuker class that benefits from them more or less than the others. If all makes sense after a little thought.

So that’s all well and good. What about people who hoard points? Or what about people who get a high LP, then drop off the planet till the next expansion? Well, EP/GP doesn’t have that problem due to a feature called Decay. We currently use a decay rate of 10% every raid week (so the decay happens first thing Tuesday morning). This reduces everyone’s EP and GP by 10% once a week. The benefit of doing this is twofold. First, it means that more recent effort counts more. Second, it means that old loot counts against you less.

Without getting into the math, just take a moment to think that over. Let’s say you attended a raid five weeks ago, but haven’t been online since. Your effort points for that raid have now been decayed five times. That effort is not worth as much as the effort from someone attending a raid *this* week. This encourages people to continue contributing to the success of the guild to maximize their EP (and thus raise their LP).

For GP, let’s say you won a great weapon on a raid two weeks ago. That weapon was worth a lot of GP at the time, but now it’s worth a bit less. It’s been two weeks, and its value has been decayed twice. The impact to your LP from that one item is less, and eventually the impact will all but vanish entirely. The idea here is that eventually that’s going to be upgraded, and the impact of an item you no longer use should be reduced over time.

So, in the long run, how is this system fair? Simple. The more you raid (or show up to be on standby if you’re needed), the more EP you earn. The more items you send to the guild accountant to turn in for EP, the more EP you earn. The more gear you’re awarded, the more GP you accumulate. Whether you or another person get an item is based on the ratio of the two. The more effort you put in, the better your LP. The less reward you’ve received, the higher your LP is.

Thus, an item will always go to the person who has done the most and gotten the least in return.

This is the heart and soul of EP/GP. You can do very little, but once you get any reward, your LP is very low. You can do a tremendous amount, but after reaping grand rewards, your LP is also very low. It works out as a balance, and because everything is determined by set numeric values, it is almost entirely impervious to corruption or accusations of favoritism. It’s not a question of if I like you or not, it’s a question of whether your LP is higher or lower than the other people involved. I have no control over that, but you do (by working harder).

All systems have flaws, and EP/GP does come at the price of never being able to use officer notes again (it stores all the data there). Likewise, access to edit officer notes is also access to edit EPGP stats, and thus needs to be dealt out carefully. Also, if anyone rage (or even jokingly) gquits, their entire EPGP record is gone and letting them back in must handled carefully to ensure they didn’t gquit to reset their GP to the base minimum and inflate their LP. This can be mitigated to a degree, however, by using their backup system. Details on that can be found here.

All in all, we’ve found this to be a very effective and incredibly fair system for loot distribution. The only problems we’ve encountered are from people who flat out don’t understand it, but think that they do. In fact I still get questions about the system at least once a week from members who have been on it for months. Hopefully this overview can help them and others get a handle on how it all works. If your guild is looking for a new loot system, I highly endorse EP/GP.

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~ by Udiyvli on 01/26/2010.

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