MMO-Champion - Dev Watercooler - Mists of Pandaria Looting Explained
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Dev Watercooler - Mists of Pandaria Looting Explained
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
Hey, how about that landslide of Mists of Pandaria information? It has taken a few days, and will probably take a few more, for the nuance of everything to really sink in. One of the topics we've been getting lots of questions about is the crazy new loot model we're introducing in Mists. We've answered several related questions in the forums, but thought it might be prudent to just put all the information in one place.

I should clarify that the systems we're introducing are actually pretty simple in practice. I'm only going into a fair amount of detail because those are the kinds of questions we are getting. You don't have to understand all the particulars to participate, and we're certain that it will just all make sense once you are experiencing it in-game instead of hearing it described (that whole "show, don't tell" thing). Let's begin:

Personal Loot

Here is how looting works in today's Raid Finder groups:


  • The boss dies.
  • The game randomly decides which items off of the boss's loot table drop.
  • The group rolls Need, Greed, or Pass on each item.
  • If you were raiding with a group of friends, you might discuss who should get each item. Even if you ultimately lost, hopefully you are happy that a friend got an upgrade and that your group as a whole is now a little bit stronger.
  • But if you're in Raid Finder, you are quite possibly alone with a bunch of strangers.
  • So, if you can Need, you probably do, because there's no time for discussion, some of the rollers may be AFK, and even if you piss someone off, you aren't likely to have to pay the social cost of doing so since you'll never see them again.
  • The highest roll wins.
  • Drama ensues.

Here's how the new Raid Finder system will work in Mists of Pandaria:


  • The boss dies.
  • The game automatically decides who won some loot, and gives those players a spec-appropriate item.
  • Some players may still get mad, but hopefully they are mad at the laws of probability and not at the rest of the raid.

So, realistically, that's really all you need to know to understand how it'll play out in-game. For those looking for more detail, here's what's happening behind the scenes:


  • The boss dies.
  • Each player has a chance to win loot, independent of the other players.
  • For each player who wins loot, the game randomly assigns them a spec-appropriate item from that boss's loot table. This subset contains only items that the game (meaning the designers in this case) thinks are appropriate for your class and current spec.
  • Notice that you aren't rolling Need or Greed. You don't have an option to Pass. The game just says "Take this."
  • You can't trade this item, or that would defeat the purpose of removing the social pressure on groups of strangers. If you don't want the item, you are free to vendor, delete, or disenchant it.

The big difference here is that instead of kill -> loot -> roll, the new system uses kill -> roll -> loot. The loot is not determined until the winners are determined. It's all automatic, and you're under no obligation to pass or roll — these choices no longer exist. The game decides who gets loot, not the players. The end. Nobody is going to be a callous jerk and take the item that you rightfully deserve. Nobody is going to try to talk you into trading an item to them because they are down on their luck and can't ever win a weapon. No DPS dude is going to ninja the tanking shield that you need for your guild to progress.

We understand some players are interested in off-spec or transmogrification loot, and we will consider future changes to the system to accommodate those desires. However, we're not sure fundamentally that Raid Finder is the best avenue for acquiring that loot. You would either need to take it from another player who actually desires it for their main spec, or a conversation would have to take place to make sure nobody else needed it more than you do. In other words, you would have to stop people from just rolling Need whenever they could. I've seen some suggestions that we allow an option for essentially "I'm happy to get loot beyond just what my main spec can use," and maybe that's the kind of approach we could take, but let's make sure the basic design works first. For now, there are other avenues, such as dungeons, faction gear, normal raids or older content to provide off-spec or cosmetic gear.

Here is a model I've seen some people say they want:


  • The boss dies.
  • I get the exact item or items I want.
  • I never have to come back and kill this boss again.
  • I politely ask Blizzard when there will be new content for me to run.

I added that, somewhat tongue in cheek, to point out that the intent of the new system is not to make killing bosses or getting loot more efficient, or to let you choose buffet-style which items you get. We like random loot being random, as long as it isn't so frustratingly random that you stop enjoying the experience. The intent of the new loot system is really to relieve social pressure on a group of random and anonymous strangers. We think it is reasonable for groups of friends, such as the typical raiding guild, to have a discussion about how to divvy up loot. That discussion is a tried and true RPG tradition going back to D&D or earlier. We don't think that is a reasonable expectation for Raid Finder, though.

The personal loot system will initially be used for Raid Finder and for world bosses. We want to use it for world bosses because we want it to be fairly easy to form PUGs to take down these bosses when they're up. If my raiding guild is about to take on a world boss, and some lonely hunter is asking to join the group (it's always a lonely hunter, isn't it?), it would be nice to be able to bring him on without worrying about that jerk taking loot away from me or my friends. We want to foster a "the more the merrier" attitude with world bosses.

This is why it's so important to us that the size of the group shouldn't matter. We don't want guilds to try to kill a world boss with the smallest number of players necessary in order to maximize loot per player. When everyone has their own chance at loot, why not make the group as large as you can? Note that you still have to be a member of the group that taps and kills the boss. We want to have a little bit of competition for world boss kills, especially between the Horde and the Alliance. We think that is part of the fun of world bosses; otherwise, why not just stick the gronn in a cave? (That sounds dirtier than I intended.) We don't want everyone in the zone to get credit just by lurking around. We want you to cooperate with other players, and we're trying to remove barriers to cooperation by eliminating loot drama.

Bonus Roll

We have one other new system that will use part of the personal loot model. This is what we're calling the bonus roll.

Once upon a time, raiders had to invest a lot of time and effort every week preparing for a raid. This felt kind of cool in the abstract because it built anticipation, rewarded players who prepared for raid night, and otherwise just added a little more ceremony to the act of entering the dragon's lair to seek glory and treasure. The reality is that you spent your time killing mobs to farm flask materials or gathering Whipper Root Tubers. The reality didn't match the fantasy and we eventually greatly minimized the need to farm consumables altogether. Of course, that led to another problem, as raiders would log on for raid nights, finish, and then have nothing to do the rest of the week. The bonus roll is intended to give those players something to do that is hopefully more enjoyable than grinding elementals or Blasted Lands boars. We want to see players out in the world doing stuff, and we want that stuff to be a little more interesting (if not downright fun) than farming mats.

The way it works is like this: We have two major Pandaren factions, the Elders and the Craftsmen. Completing daily quests and scenarios for each group earns you one of two currencies. The Craftsmen tokens are spent mostly on cosmetic items. The Elder tokens are spent mostly on power items. The intent here is to let players who want some optional content to be able to devote time to both Craftsmen and Elders, while more min-max focused players or players who don't want such a time commitment can stick to Elders. The Elder tokens can be used to purchase head enchants, some nice purple items, and the kind of gear you've come to expect from factions. However, they also sell an item called a Charm of Good Fortune. Imagine you can complete a quest once a week to buy one Charm for 25 Elder Tokens. You also might be able to save up a few charms, but you won't be able to hoard them until the next tier of content.

If you have one or more Charms of Good Fortune, then whenever you kill a raid boss (in Raid Finder, normal or heroic) then a new UI window will pop up asking if you want to spend your Charm on a bonus roll. If you click yes, then you'll instantly get another shot at that boss's loot table! You will always win something from the bonus roll, such as a pile of gold, gems, or flasks. However, you also have a small (but not miniscule) chance of receiving a piece of epic loot. As with the personal loot system, the item will always be something designed for your current spec. Also, just as with personal loot, the game doesn't analyze if you already have the item, if the item would be an upgrade for you, or if you prefer axes to swords or anything like that.

Most importantly, winning a bonus roll has no effect on what other players win on their bonus rolls or what the boss drops normally. If you have saved up several Charms (this will probably happen when you play but don't raid every week) then you can use one per boss, but you can't cash in multiples on a single boss kill. If you want to save up all of your Charms for the final boss because he (or she in the case of the mantid raid) drops weapons or whatever, that is your prerogative, but you'll only be able to spend one per kill. If you want to save up your Charms for heroic bosses, go for it.

Here is an example of per-person loot and the bonus roll in action:


  • Stan is a death knight.
  • Jim Bob is a warrior.
  • Naomi is a hunter.
  • The three friends run Raid Finder together and tackle Mogu'shan Vaults. They get matched with a bunch of random folks from across their region. On the fourth boss, the Council of Kings, the game decides that Jim Bob wins an item. Jim Bob is a Fury warrior, so the game is either going to give him a two-handed Strength axe or a Strength bracer, because those are the two Fury-appropriate items on the Council of Kings loot table (in this theoretical example). Regardless of what Jim Bob wins, Stan might also win the same items. Naomi won't ever be offered those items, because they aren't appropriate hunter loot. If she had gotten lucky and earned loot for the kill, it would have been hunter appropriate.
  • Let's say Naomi is frustrated because Bob and Stan both won loot and because the trinket she wants won't ever drop. So, she decides to use a Charm of Good Fortune. Let's say she gets lucky and the game decides that she won an item instead of gold, flasks, etc. (Thanks, game!) She might get the trinket she wants, or she might get an Agility neckpiece that is also on the Council of Kings loot table. Her winning an item doesn't affect Stan or Jim Bob or anyone else, even if they use their Charms as well.

Okay, we're almost done here, but I did want to mention two other relevant changes.

Area of Effect Looting

Yes, we are doing area looting. After killing a group of enemies, you may have a bunch of corpses lying around (perhaps because you went all Bladestorm on a bunch of hozen). If you loot one of the corpses, the loot window will include items from all of the nearby corpses for which you have loot rights. Some recent games have incorporated a similar feature, and it's one of those things that players just want in their MMO these days. It's already in and it works fine.

The Future of Valor

The second change I want to mention is that we plan to adjust the role of Valor points. Valor (or the various other names that the currency has had over the years) was originally added to WoW for two reasons: it helped to mitigate really bad luck, for those times when the boss just refused to drop the item you wanted, and it helped encourage players to stay with the group even if they didn't need anything off the next boss.

Over time, we have felt like Valor has taken on too prominent a role, to the point that it risks becoming more important than actual boss loot. This is particularly the case when the tier sets are available on the Valor vendors. We think killing dragons and ransacking their hoard is more epic than shopping at the magic armor store, so we want to shift back toward boss kills being the primary source of epic PvE gear.

In Mists of Pandaria, Valor will be used to power a new feature that allows you to increase the item level of your existing epic items. This means that each week, you can become a little more powerful, hopefully allowing you to kill that boss that has eluded you thus far. There will be a bit of a game in trying to decide when to upgrade your gear versus hoping for a new piece to drop from a raid boss, but our plan is that even heroic gear can be upgraded slightly in this way.

We won't allow you to upgrade Raid Finder gear so much that it becomes better than normal gear, but imagine if you can increase your item level by around eight points. At this time, we're thinking there won't be gear on the Valor vendors at all, but we'll see how that shakes out. Valor will come primarily from dungeons (including challenge modes) and scenarios. You might earn a little from daily quests and raiding as well, but that won't be as efficient.

Final Thoughts

That's a lot of information to absorb all at once I know, and I'm sure it will lead to dozens of questions. It'd be more helpful to us if you were to focus your discussion on how things will feel, and the basic rules of the system, instead of immediately leaping to the conclusion that you've figured out some exploit and ergo the whole thing is doomed to failure. We've stitched up a lot of the egregious loopholes already and the system is a little more complicated behind the scenes than I figured was worth getting into here.

Check it out in beta if you get the chance. Let us know how it feels. We have time to iterate and refine this stuff. Good luck on getting the loot you want, too... but not too quickly.

Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street is the lead systems designer of World of Warcraft. The first epic item he can recall getting was the Drillborer Disk.
This article was originally published in forum thread: Dev Watercooler - Mists of Pandaria Looting Explained started by Boubouille View original post
Comments 524 Comments
  1. Draknoth's Avatar
    I think we're all missing how terribly disconnected Blizzard is with the way LFR loot works right now. How about, Item Drops, EVERYONE that can use the item rolls, no matter if they have the heroic version, normal version, raid finder version, or it isn't even a good item for them. Person proceeds to either troll, or try and trade that item for something else they want. This is how it works in reality.
  1. Senbo's Avatar
    this looting system looks awfully familiar.... oh wait thats right this is the current normal mode ops looting system in SWTOR.....
  1. Flitter's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Senbo View Post
    this looting system looks awfully familiar.... oh wait thats right this is the current normal mode ops looting system in SWTOR.....
    So is this a good or a bad thing?
  1. KClovesGaming's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Senbo View Post
    this looting system looks awfully familiar.... oh wait thats right this is the current normal mode ops looting system in SWTOR.....
    So? MMO's copy each other all the time. A lot of games have taken things from WoW as well. It's what works the best. This loot system is better than what they currently use in LFR, so why not use it right? It's about making the community/subs more happy and less frustrated.
  1. Kuja's Avatar
    Hate the valor system. Though all other things seem excellent. Like the bonus roll especially :3
  1. Azrile's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Awbee View Post
    Could you explain to me then, which part I do not understand? I read above that you say we do get to pass, however in GC's post it's explicitly stated that we do not get a chance to pass.

    It's also not stated whether more items will drop from a given boss, or not. I have no reason to assume that they will, so I'm assuming that as before, only 4-5 items will drop per boss, and these will be distributed among EVERYONE, not just the people who need them. Which is the problem, because then people who don't need them have a pretty good chance of getting them, which frustrates everyone, and people who do need them will take much longer to gear up.
    Because you are wrong. You are starting out thinking of ´boss drops 4 items´.. FORGET THAT. FORGET EVERYTHING YOU THINK Ok.. now lets start over.

    Boss has loot table that contains 15 different items. a few items for every spec more or less (lots of overlaps for plate dps specs etc). The loot table would be very similar to what bosses have now.

    Boss dies.. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT... NO LOOT IS GENERATED YET!!!! ( read GCs post again.. no really, read it again, he specifically says this)
    Every player has a roll made for them
    Every player who rolls over 85 wins and item.
    If you are one of the players who beat 85, then the game looks at the boss´s loot table and you are awarded one of the items that fits your spec.
    IMPORTANT!! THE LOOT IS GENERATED AFTER AFTER AFTER the players roll. (read GCs post again)

    DEATH, ROLL, LOOT Generated. If a person rolls 84 and fails to make the cut-off for winning loot, it does not matter if you rolled a 1, 94 or figured out a clever way to ´pass´.. that other player STILL is not getting gear.
  1. Senbo's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Flitter View Post
    So is this a good or a bad thing?
    kinda both, it keeps ppl from being ninjas BUT as anyone who has played swtor will tell you it gets annoying when you run something and wind up getting gear when you have the same or better.
  1. antelope591's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Draknoth View Post
    I think we're all missing how terribly disconnected Blizzard is with the way LFR loot works right now. How about, Item Drops, EVERYONE that can use the item rolls, no matter if they have the heroic version, normal version, raid finder version, or it isn't even a good item for them. Person proceeds to either troll, or try and trade that item for something else they want. This is how it works in reality.
    Obviously they know what's going on hence the totally new system....durrr. And yea I don't see what people are complaining about. Just complaining for the sake of complaining. The new system is pretty much perfect for something like LFR. As opposed to everyone rolls need on every single item whether they need it or not.
  1. Azrile's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Fayenoor View Post
    1. Does the algo check to see if the winner already has the item when choosing a loot?2. Can the same person be assigned more than one item from the same boss?3. If yes to 2, then can the same person be assigned the same item twice from the same boss?
    No, the purpose of the new system is NOT to make it more efficient to get gear. Yes, you can win an item you already have.

    No, you cannot win the same item twice from the same boss kill. You get a single roll when the boss dies, if you roll high, you get an item. You can get the same item two weeks in a row though, but not 2 copies of it in the same week. The exception to this is if you use one of the Lucky Charm thingies.. I think then it would be possible to get the same item twice on the same boss kill. Just to be clear, there are certain classes, especially people with dual specs who don´t mind getting the same item twice. It would be bad if Blizzard automatically kept you from getting them twice.

    The important thing to remember is that bosses are not going to automatically drop 4 items per kill now. The boss will drop a number of items that depends on how many people roll high. Could be 1, could be 25. A lot of people seem to be confused about this part of it. The items a boss drops is determined AFTER players roll.
  1. Casper7mm's Avatar
    what I'm curious about is on the bonus roll does that mean you have the possibility of winning 2 pieces of gear off of 1 boss?
  1. ak213jd's Avatar
    While my kneejerk reaction is that this is perfect, seeing all these negative comments has me worried. I worry that people will find this system frustrating and confusing. Plenty of people here can't see to grasp the independent rolls concept, coming to the conclusion that they're stealing rolls or something from other people. I worry that this system might be flawed simply because people don't understand how probability works. With all the gamblers and lotto players in the world, I think this fear is justified. Maybe this would be fine if there were always someone there to explain it, but that won't always be the case. Plus, getting duplicates of one item might also be frustrating and discouraging even if the alternative is getting nothing. Maybe getting "something you don't need" 90% of the time is worse than getting nothing 90% of the time, on a psychological level.
  1. Azrile's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by jax View Post
    And people said SWToR was copying WoW... lol this is the exact loot system that SW uses in Normal Mode raiding. Great idea and saves sooo much drama its not funny... Just sad they had to steal it from SW.
    And since you are new to MMORPGs.. let me point out that about 5 other MMORPGs before SWTOR had this type of loot system, including Rift which was released just last year and a bunch of games from years ago.

    This is nothing new, the thing is, it was never needed in WOW.. and still is not needed in WOW except for LFR... This system would be absolutely stupid to put into real raids, or even 5 mans. LFR is a new system, and after seeing the loot drama, they decided they needed a new loot mechanism specifically for LFR.. so they used the one found in DDO.... er Rift... er.. heck.. most other MMORPGs for LFR.
  1. Fiss's Avatar
    I didn't actually think GC could be any more clear. I like the changes, they sound like a step in the right direction.
  1. nghtmr's Avatar
    this looot system sucks where do i get my offspec gear for tanking if im dpsing i don't unless they add an option that makes it so you can receive offspec gear
  1. Nadev's Avatar
    Loving the new changes, Blizz. Used to nearly kill myself trying to Valor cap four different characters.The only thing that's currently good about the Raid Finder system is getting in a group and being the only rogue or one of two/three shamans, hunters, melee, etc.
  1. TrueProphecy22's Avatar
    So, epics come only from bosses, as people have been shouting for for years, and you use valor points to +1 most equipment instead of buying things?
  1. Awbee's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Azrile View Post
    Because you are wrong. You are starting out thinking of ´boss drops 4 items´.. FORGET THAT. FORGET EVERYTHING YOU THINK Ok.. now lets start over.

    Boss has loot table that contains 15 different items. a few items for every spec more or less (lots of overlaps for plate dps specs etc). The loot table would be very similar to what bosses have now.

    Boss dies.. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT... NO LOOT IS GENERATED YET!!!! ( read GCs post again.. no really, read it again, he specifically says this)
    Every player has a roll made for them
    Every player who rolls over 85 wins and item.
    If you are one of the players who beat 85, then the game looks at the boss´s loot table and you are awarded one of the items that fits your spec.
    IMPORTANT!! THE LOOT IS GENERATED AFTER AFTER AFTER the players roll. (read GCs post again)

    DEATH, ROLL, LOOT Generated. If a person rolls 84 and fails to make the cut-off for winning loot, it does not matter if you rolled a 1, 94 or figured out a clever way to ´pass´.. that other player STILL is not getting gear.

    Thanks, but I knew very well that the gear is only generated afterwards.

    However, I don't think the system works like "Every player who rolls over 85 wins an item". If it was true, this would mean that sometimes 25 players would get loot, and sometimes zero. A blue on the official forums has said that they don't know whether this is possible. So, the system at least currently is sadly not as easy as that.

    It's looking far more likely that just a certain amount of players will get loot. They will get it based on their spec. The problem is, if these players are all very well equipped already, they'll just get gold, or loot that they can't use.

    So it's possible that you down a boss, but no one gets upgrades, because all the people who do get loot already outgear the raid. THAT is what I see as potentially very frustrating.
    Of course, for GC it's amazing, because it means progression is slowed and people take longer gearing up, i.e. they don't need new content as fast. That's a shitty reason for frustrating players on purpose, though.
  1. Fiss's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by nghtmr View Post
    this looot system sucks where do i get my offspec gear for tanking if im dpsing i don't unless they add an option that makes it so you can receive offspec gear
    You get it the same way you got your DPS gear, by working for it and playing that spec.

    I have a character that has full offspec gear for a spec I have never played.... to me that is wrong.

    Playing the spec to get the gear, I think is the way forward.
  1. Azrile's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by nghtmr View Post
    this looot system sucks where do i get my offspec gear for tanking if im dpsing i don't unless they add an option that makes it so you can receive offspec gear
    This is my issue too. I play a moonkin, but build my tanking set during a tier and then start pug tanking in the middle of a tier. I don´t like to PUG or LFR tank being on the low side of the gear required. I know a lot of people who do the same thing with healing.

    I guess the intent is that we go back and do slightly older content, then we can use our VP to upgrade the gear we get from that. There will also be rep vendors like before.

    It was going to be one of my recommendations to GC is to watch the queues and see if the number of tanks decreases. But really, I would prefer they just do what they mentioned and add a checkbox so that we can opt-in to receive off-spec gear during LFR rolls.
  1. Mithan's Avatar
    The system looks good to me.

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