Faction Champions: a “worthless scrub” of a fight
I’ve decided that I, the player behind your kindly, warm, fuzzy Panzercow, am going to learn a foreign language. Maybe Russian, that sounds pretty macho. Or German…lots of glottal stops and hard vowels and eleventy-syllable compound words, and besides, my wife majored in it in college. Heck, maybe I’ll just have some fun and go for Klingon. Klingon is pretty metal.
Why, you ask? Because English, as wonderful a language as it is, simply does not have enough nasty-sounding words for me to express just how incredibly fucking much I hate the Faction Champions fight in the Crusader’s Coliseum.
Not even “fucking,” that wonderful all-purpose spiked warhammer of a dirty word, quite gets the point across just how much I despise the Delrissa-on-Steroids encounter–even if I use italics. Let’s take a look at all the various bits and pieces of this lovely little ten minutes of computerized Hell and see how they combine to turn the entire thing into a giant toasted turd sandwich garnished with fail and lovingly drizzled in noobsauce, shall we?
First, there’s the setup. My thoughts about the entire Icecrown County Fair in general have been well-documented, and need not be repeated in depth here–overall, I think it’s kind of stupid. The principle behind the Crusader’s Coliseum kicks it up a notch…gee, Tirion, I thought your Light-worshipping kinder-and-gentler human kind had evolved beyond bloody gladiatorial spectacles. And then there’s Varian “The Chin” Wrynn–former slave gladiator–standing up there getting off on the entire thing having a grand old time like he’s parked on the fifty-yard line on NFL game day. I can see Garrosh thinking the entire thing is great fun, but Wrynn? A guy who’s literally “been there, done that, got the scars to prove it” is standing up there whooping it up with a big blue “Alliance #1” foam finger and watching people die? I don’t doubt for a second that Wrynn’s various ordeals have knocked a few things out of alignment upstairs, but I have a hard time believing that somebody who was enslaved and fought beasts to the death for a living would wish it on anybody else, at least on his own Alliance. (OK, he probably would love to see us Horde get nommed by not one, but two Jormungar.)
So then the entire thing takes a bit of a turn after Lord Jaraxxus eats dirt. (As an aside, why don’t we just kill the gnome? It’s more fun and saves a lot of trouble.) Garrosh gets his ass up on his shoulders about the Alliance summoning a demon…well, duh, Einstein, Tirion Fordring said the gnome was a warlock and that he was working for the Crusade, not for the Alliance. But of course, Wrynn loses his cookies like a seven-year-old at the swingset, and the “nuh-uhhh” “uh-huh” “no u” “no u” “ur mom” “no ur mom” flies back and forth over our heads for a minute until Fordring has to sigh and say, “OK, Varian, send your people down to fight their people if it’ll shut you two the fuck up. Oy, I’m getting a headache.”
(An aside: Where are Thrall and Jaina through all this? Why doesn’t Thrall turn around and lay the Doomhammer upside Garrosh’s punk head? Why doesn’t Jaina raise one perfectly manicured hand and tell Wrynn he’s being a doosh? Listen, you two, stop making goo-goo eyes at each other from across the arena and act like you run things, k? K.)
The concept behind the fight itself is simple enough. 25 of you, 10 of them from the opposing faction, chosen from 14 different characters. (On 25-man heroic, I think it’s supposed to be 25v13.) It is a pretty straight copy of the Delrissa encounter from Magister’s Terrace. The faction champions don’t have normal agro tables. They switch targets frequently. They have, and use, almost all the capabilities of their designated class–especially the annoying ones. So the arms warrior pops Retaliation, Bladestorms, Mortal Strikes, Hamstrings, etc. The resto druid pops various heals, thorns, etc. The shamans (one resto, one enhancement) drop appropriate totems, they pop Heroism or Bloodlust, they heal, etc. It’s a fight where you can’t simply say “tank this, offtank this, burn down this,” because you can’t control their agro. It favors crowd control over raw DPS.
That’s the theory. In practice, it combines the worst elements of PvE and PvP into one big spring roll of suck.
Where it runs into difficulty is in the entire concept of “locking down” certain faction champions, and the concept of “diminishing returns.” We all know that things like taunts and stuns are on diminishing returns timers…by the fourth time or so that you use any one of them in rapid succession, the target is immune. Now in PvP, that’s not always that big a problem, because your target’s got maybe 40 or 45 thousand health, max. If you can keep them stunlocked or controlled and you have a couple of people to focus fire on them, by the time your control mechanisms become ineffective, your target’s going to be dead.
Try that when the target has 1.9 million health.
With 10 (or more) champions to worry about, unless you dogpile everybody on one or two and let the others roam free, you can’t truly “lock down” any of them, even the healers. They will get heals off. You can partially control them, but not totally. Your hope is to reduce their effectiveness to the point that they aren’t contributing too much to things.
Meanwhile, it doesn’t matter if you’re a tank or not. You’re getting stunned. You’re getting shept. You’re getting crowd-controlled and bitchslapped by bladestorming warriors and FoKing rogues. Your AoE damage is reduced by 75% to keep you from just piling them up in the center and having everybody burn them down. Their AoE damage isn’t reduced at all. They have 2 million health each. You have 25 to 45 thousand.
People call this a “PvP fight,” because certain pieces of PvP gear like CC-breaking trinkets help. But it’s not. It’s nothing more than a clusterfuck of a PvE fight where agro control is basically unworkable, where you have to try to use certain PvP-like mechanics to survive. As a tank, these types of fights are mind-blowingly frustrating to me, because our job–the entire damn reason we’re even in the raid with our l33t 2000 dps–is control. We are the controllers. We make order out of chaos. We control who attacks what (on both sides) and where and how the fight happens. If you take the ability to control out of the fight…I think you can see how infuriating that can be.
And then, there’s the folks who just don’t really like PvP all that much. Yes, skilled PvPers can be more effective in this fight because they’re used to the total chaos of it all, the fast target-switching, the situational awareness. If you’re a raider who doesn’t PvP, doesn’t like it, and never learned it, why should you suddenly have to act like you’ve got a 5v5 rating of 1900 in order to get through a PvE raid fight?
Another reason I hate it? I hate what it does to my raid. We’re a fairly even-keeled bunch. Yeah, we get frustrated after repeated wipes, but for the most part, we constructively channel it into thinking about strategy and how we can do better next attempt. The first week we did Faction Champions, it took us seven tries to beat it. By the fifth one, our Chief Cat Herder was probably thinking “if you kids don’t stop, I’m going to turn this raid around right now.” People were snapping at each other like I hadn’t heard in quite a while. Faction Champions raises the frustration and anger level of people like no other fight I’ve ever seen.
Finally–and tied in with the previous point–there’s a little piece of atmosphere Blizzard throws in for good measure. Every time one of you dies, Wrynn (in our case) says something. Sometimes it’s just “HAH!” More commonly, it’s “Worthless scrub!” Think about that. The King of Stormwind, Big Cheese Kahuna of All Humanity and the Alliance and Yes, Even Gnomes, is using the word “scrub.” (I’m sure Garrosh is equally charming when my Alliance friends have to go through this little ordeal.) Hey, Blizz, was that really necessary? You’ve already constructed a fight that sends PvEers like me into rabid convulsions of anger, do you really need to add that little extra cherry on top of Varian Wrynn verbally teabagging the casualties from the peanut gallery?
It’s all enough to make me convinced that the Alliance should’ve just let Wrynn get eaten in his slave pit, and I should’ve left Garrosh sitting in the dirt in Garadar those many months ago, listening to Simple Plan and cutting himself. The world would’ve been made brighter thereby.