GDKP – Where Does It Fit For Guilds?

A few weeks ago, an article was posted on Elitist Jerks detailing the GDKP loot system.  Since then a few other blogs (Pwnwear, Deathknight.info) have picked up on the idea and spread it around.

I was hoping to provide a bit of an overview and practical suggestions for organizing GDKP runs, but as that’s been done to death I’m going to look at where GDKP can fit into a guild’s loot strategy.

What is GDKP?

A quick refresher: GDKP is a loot system where every item is bid for openly using gold.  Highest bid wins, and at the end of the run everyone splits the pot.

The name is a bit a misnomer, as there are no “dragon kill points” involved.  DKP, EP/GP, Ni Karma – all of these loot systems are closed.  You earn points within the system that you then use in some fashion to receive loot.  No matter what you’ve done before, when you enter into a new DKP system, you’re starting from scratch.

GDKP runs on the other hand implicitly favour people who have a lot of gold, at least from the perspective of getting drops.  But interestingly, GDKP doesn’t solely attract people who are interested in loot.  You can be dressed to the nines with no need of any drop in a dungeon and come out the other side with a tidy sum of gold in your pocket.

Who Is It For?

GDKP attracts three distinct types of players: low-geared members who are willing to spend a reasonable amount on multiple pieces of gear during a run, high rollers who want just one item and are willing to spend large amounts to get it, and people who are just there for the gold.

For the right balance of performance and payout, you probably want no more than 40% low-geared members, 40% people looking for a payout and the rest high rollers.  Depending on just how under-geared the lowbies are, you may need to set more strict gear and experience limits on the rest of the players in order to avoid hitting enrage timers.  Similarly, you can’t go overboard on the people who are just there for the payout or the total gear purchased will be low (as will the payout).

Unlike forming a PUG run where warm bodies are your first concern, building a GDKP run is a balancing act.  Don’t try starting one up on a whim – you need to announce it, review people who are interested, and build a group that serves the needs of everyone attending.

Lowbies Buying Loot For Gold Is Wrong!

Perhaps.  But it’s been going on for a very long time.  Even before Zul’Aman bear runs (costing 15 to 25 thousand gold if I recall correctly) were popular on most servers, there were always guilds who were willing to carry people through higher-level content for a hefty amount of gold.  The difference was that they typically brought one or two people at a time as part of a regularly scheduled guild farm run.  The gold usually went back into the guild bank, and members saw the benefit in that the guild could afford to pay for more repairs or for gems / enchants / etc.

GDKP is just one variant of this.  It’s a framework for doing PUG loot runs that will hopefully become common knowledge.  All you need to do is announce that you’re doing a GDKP run and specify the tuneables: minimum bid amounts, rules for getting kicked, etc.

Should It Be My Guild’s Primary Loot System?

NO!

This should be obvious, but GDKP works because of the imbalance between the lowbies and the people looking for the payout.  There’s no protection against collusion or inflation, and people can easily give themselves an edge if they have more time to play than others – or if the unscrupulous among them purchase gold for real world money.

Loot distribution in a raid guild tends to fall into one of two schools of thought: give the loot to the people who have put forth effort (DKP, EP/GP), or give the loot to whoever will improve the performance of the raid.   Guild loot systems are also stateful by design – taking loot should reduce your chances of getting the next drop.

GDKP fails to address any of these requirements – by design.  It favours those with money to spend, does not care if the gear is useful to you – only that you can pay for it – and requires no memory of the last GDKP run to be effective – or even that the same people be in the run from week to week.

GDKP’s Place in a Guild

For a guild, GDKP can be an attractive filler raid once you have the content of the current tier on farm and have so few upgrades available to you that you skip an entire instance.

Right now (the period between 3.2 and 3.3) is an ideal time to be organizing GDKP runs because of the lockout system in place in Trial of the Crusader.  You can dedicate the heroic run to your guild while saving the normal run until GDKP.   The changes announced to the UI for hard modes in 3.3 won’t give you this luxury – if you use up your raid ID for GDKP, there’s nothing available for you to use for a guild run.

When 3.3 comes out, I expect that we’ll still see TotC and TotGC GDKP runs, and getting close to Cataclysm we might see partial runs of Icecrown Citadel – where a guild runs the first half of the instance on normal as a GDKP run, splits the pot, then does the remainder of the instance on hard mode as a guild using their normal loot system.  This is fine, so long as everyone attending the GDKP half understands where the run is ending (and thus the gear than can reasonably expect to bid on).

If you sponsor a GDKP run as a guild, you have to choose the guild members who attend carefully.  Given the potential payout, interest may be high, but you need to leave space for people who are ready to spend cash or nobody will get anything.  Stick to the suggested ratios above, and rotate people from week to week (but not during a run).  If interest is especially high, you may even consider having people purchase spots in the GDKP run with loot system currency.  This is somewhat controversial, as it allows people to “cash in” on their DKP, but it may fit your guild’s policies and ethos.

You may also choose to do an all-guild GDKP run, but with the spenders being alts of members.  The run will probably go more smoothly because everyone will know your strategies, but some people may not like the idea of paying their guildies for gear boosts.  It depends on what your position on alt loot is – does the guild have any responsibility to gear up alts, or is it up to the member to do it themselves?  If the latter, does it matter whether they drop large amounts of gold on someone else’s GDKP run, or on crafted BoE items rather than paying their guildmates for the same level of gear?

Whose Reputation Is On the Line?

The person who organizes a GDKP run is putting their reputation on the line.  Blizzard’s official policy is that while they recommend you do raids with trusted friends and guild members, if someone promises a “loot for gold” looting scheme in a group and then tries to ninja the pot, they will treat it as a scam, just like trying to sell an in-game Spectral Tiger code.

As a result, starting up a GDKP run as an individual can be difficult if you don’t have some kind of reputation of your own.  If your guild has a reputation, people may infer that the run is happening with the guild’s blessing.  As such, make it clear to your members that if they choose to do their own GDKP run, they not use the guild’s name to promote it.  If problems arise, it’s between the members of the group to resolve – though you may take further action against your member if they violate your rules by being a ninja.

On the flipside, if you organize a run as a guild, you can use your public forums to state the rules for the run, organize attendees and announce upcoming runs.  Make sure that everything stays above board though, because a guild-sponsored GDKP run that sullies your name on the realm can impact guild members who weren’t even present.

Using GDKP to Retain Members before Cataclysm

As with all expansions, the three months or so leading up to Cataclysm is going to tax raiding guilds.  You’ll have all the loot you need to level up (does it really matter if your WotLK gear lasts you to 85 rather than 84?  It’s getting replaced either way).  Members will be off playing other games (Starcraft 2?) and you may find it very hard to keep a schedule together.  There’s just not enough reward to support the time investment.

But gold, that’s something that has always been and will always be useful when leveling up and starting the first tier of raid content in a new expansion.  Everyone can use more gold to help smooth that path, and if you can offer your members a regular income via sponsored GDKP runs, you may be more successful in retaining members during this difficult period.

As I’m not in a position to organize a GDKP run myself, I’d be interested in hearing from anyone who has or is planning to organize a run on their realm, especially a guild sponsored one.  What is your per-member payout?  How does it compare to keeping your raids all-guild and selling off patterns  and BoEs that drop?

Until Next Time

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