Loot Collusion in Raids after 3.2

The patch notes for the 3.2 PTR don’t mention it yet, but one of the changes discovered by PTR players is that you can now trade BoP items won to other members who were also eligible to receive that loot for a short period of time after receiving the item.

This change is obviously designed to reduce the number of GM petitions asking for mis-looted items to be sent to another member of the raid.  I guess I didn’t realize just how many of these must be requested every day.  I’ve only ever filled them out when there was a legitimate mistake in looting – an incorrect click by a master looter for example.  In my last guild, they were filing them all the time.  It wasn’t that the master looter was bad, it was that people would pipe up after loot had been distributed saying things like “well, that was more of an upgrade for me”.  The ML would concur, and file a ticket.  Personally, I don’t like this practice, as it makes people less responsible for their actions.  If you want loot, you should declare on it immediately.  If there’s a discussion to be had about who deserves the loot more, have that in /raid once all the interested parties have been identified.  Yet I digress.

While this change sounds great from the outset, I’m a bit concerned that it may lead to loot collusion, regardless of the loot system a guild uses.

Loot Collusion?

Collusion is when two or more people conspire for the purposes of fraud.  Certain loot systems are more susceptible to it than others.  In one of my first raiding guilds, we used an open-bid DKP system.  In the days before the emblem system for tier loot, this allowed members of a class to get together and agree on an order that people would get their tier pieces in.  This let them bid the minimum without challenge.  It wasn’t much of a secret that this was going on, and for the most part it took place within all classes, so it wasn’t really that unfair to other members.  We just accepted that tier loot was cheap and non-tier loot might be expensive, depending on which other classes might be interested.  Sometimes however, friction within a class would result in someone with a high DKP balance jacking up the prices for a member of their own class on tier gear.  This never ended nicely.

When you read about people evaluating loot systems, one of the criteria they often list is “resistant to collusion”.  You can’t always eliminate it, but you can reduce the opportunity for people to game the system.  EP/GP for example uses fixed GP values for items.   While you can make a side agreement among other people who would be interested in the loot to not declare interest, your GP goes up by the same amount.  All you can do is shuffle up the order in which people get items, not how much “buying power” they have after they’ve won something.

The problem with this new trade system is that people who have an abundance of DKP (or PR, or Karma, or whatever currency the loot system uses) who don’t need of much gear can declare and win items, then trade it on the sly to someone else in the group who wants it but might not have the loot points to win it.  Obviously, this could easily be accompanied by a cash payment.


This is also going to be a problem for PUG groups.  Usually when I’m in a Naxx-25 PUG, I usually see representation from 2-3 guilds, with a smattering of single players without guildmates.  More often than not, there are a few people from top guilds on the realm, who have little need for the loot but join the raid either as a favour to a guildmate’s alt, or because they need one item off Kel’Thuzad.  If you’re using /roll for loot in this situation, what’s to stop those members from rolling on obvious downgrades for what they’re wearing and passing it to the alt of a guildmate who just dinged 80?  Or selling it to some fresh 80 that is decked out in quest blues?

By making these under-the-table deals, one person is effectively getting two rolls instead of one – their own and that of the person they’ve made the deal with.

How To Prevent It?

This is going to be tough to prevent.  Let’s look at guild runs.  Hopefully a guild master looter has some idea of what level of gear their members are wearing.  Obvious attempts to declare on lower-level gear should be caught by the master looter or other members.  Unfortunately, the only way to be certain is frequent inspecting of the member who won the item, which is both annoying and a sign that the underlying system is flawed.

It’s possible that people might try to sell or pass gear that is an upgrade for them, if only because it’s a minor upgrade (say iLevel 213 to 219) to someone still decked out in iLevel 200.  This one is a bit harder – the declaration will look legitimate, and the only way to tell that this has happened is that you don’t see that loot on them in the future (or that you do see the loot on someone else soon after with no legit explanation as to how they got it).

Off-spec or sidegrade declarations are even tougher to police.  You might not expect to see such items equipped, especially if they were for a spec not used in raids.

Too Paranoid?

I understand the reasoning behind this change, and I honestly think it’s a good one.  But I do think there’s a subset of members who will abuse this new mechanic. I try not to be guilded with people like that, but I can’t control who is in a PUG with me.

In-guild I’m not so concerned, because if it does happen, at least someone got an upgrade that will be used next raid.  But by turning a blind eye to collusion, you are effectively letting people “skip the line”, and this could erode trust in the integrity of the loot system.  Once that’s happened it’s very hard to get it back.  If you find out that guild members are engaging in this behaviour, you should deal with it as you would any infraction against the guild.

In PUGs, I can’t think of a way to detect or take action against collusion.  What do you think?  Am I being too paranoid here?  Or do you share my cynicism based on what you know of the people you play with?