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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.

22 responses

  1. I was just saying yesterday that we should just kill the gnome as soon as he came out and saved ourself a lot of trouble.

    I don’t much care for the fight but our raid leaders have just about got their heads round it now and are giving people comprehensible assignments (ie. Spinks, just grab the rogue and keep it busy) as opposed to really complex strategies. That seemed to help a lot.

    And in the bottom of my undead alter ego soul, I’m laughing at the notion of dismembering the alliance champions /in front of their insane king/. It doesn’t let me cannibalise them.

    September 18, 2009 at 13:26

  2. Zet

    It’s nice to know that there are people on the Horde that are just as annoyed as I am about the Faction Champs fight. Well put sir!
    PS: Garrosh says crap like “Overpowered,” “Weakling,” and other one-word taunts… as is appropriate for someone who just found out the shower isn’t “spitting on you in disgust and derision.”

    September 18, 2009 at 13:29

  3. So…it’s like a pug raid gone bad?

    I might have to ban my Cranky Tank from this fight for the same reasons he’s banned from PvP-we don’t need more thrown mice. 😛

    September 18, 2009 at 13:49

  4. My general experience as a warrior tank in the Faction Champions fight is that one of us can effectively lock down a healer 75+ percent of the time between Shield Bash, Concussive Blow, Shockwave, Heroic Throw (+Gag Order), and Intimidating Shout. That is about as close to “control” as I can get. It requires some pretty intense focus at times as those heals can seem pretty damn fast, but at least it is something effective to do.

    After the DPS gets to your healer, you can try to wrangle some of their Melee DPS as well. This is generally more frustrating because of the diminishing returns on Taunt thing, but it’s something.

    September 18, 2009 at 13:55

    • That’s basically what I got to do last night. I helped one of our DKs on the priest to start with, and after that, I played with the rogue for a bit. If I was very judicious with my taunts, I could generally keep one in reserve and use it to save a squishy without getting the dreaded “Immune.”

      This is a fight where prot warriors can really shine, that’s true, but it’s still a massively frustrating exercise. I’d much rather actually be tanking something than chasing around behind a priest, me with no rage because nothing’s actually hitting me, and trying to just bash and interrupt and stun.

      September 18, 2009 at 14:04

  5. Yeah, Lin, it was about the fifth attempt last week that I finally had enough and had to tell everyone to STFU about PvP and crap.

    it’s really not a PvP fight and that is probably the worst part of it. it’s a control fight. All the traditional things raiders do don’t count for the fight.

    And while I enjoy the fight, I HATE what it does to our raiders. I hate the snarking and general grouchiness that gets to all of us. Even the officers. I HATE snapping at the officers and I did last night.

    I hate having to constantly prompt people to tell me what happened to them and get the “I dunno” answer.

    As for the call outs from the NPCs. I litterally don’t pay any real attention to what is said.

    September 18, 2009 at 14:04

    • Rashonakitty and I were actually talking about the raid attitude after I wrote this post. We noticed that we wiped for two hours on Yoggy last week and while people were getting frustrated, I don’t think even at the end, people were as grouchy as they were after just two or three wipes on Faction Champions either of the past two weeks. It just causes people to get really negative.

      It’s a bastardized hybrid of a PvP and PvE fight. It’s a PvE fight where you have to use some PvP mechanics, but it ends up being neither fish nor fowl. And that makes it exceptionally frustrating. Not impossible by any means, but hella frustrating.

      September 18, 2009 at 14:09

      • The officers have decided we will never say “This is a PvP fight” again. It just makes more problems than it solves as a description.

        September 18, 2009 at 15:26

  6. Des

    I just hate the fight because I really don’t like PvP. Yeah, I’ve trooped along with Malkavet a few times, and Dandy has his warbear and achievement to show for it…but the majority of the time, my PvP experience is chasing nubsauce DK’s of the opposing faction off of the questgivers in out-of-the-way places like Hammerfall in Stonard because they’re killing my questgivers and making LocalDefense go nuts…and I was out there on an alt to have a little peace and quiet, thank you very much.

    If I choose to raid, I choose to raid. Getting PvP in it? Do. Not. Want.

    September 18, 2009 at 15:13

    • The problem is, Des, its not really PvP. Lin points that out. it uses some PvP mechanics, but its not PvP, not by any stretch.

      September 18, 2009 at 15:22

  7. leah

    First week we did this fight? I was ready to quit raiding if this is what I have to go through to see the rest of the content.

    somehow by the skin of our teeth and after much frustration, we managed to kinda get it. We still haven’t one shot it on 25 man. for myself at least, I decided that my strategy is to run around like headless chicken, making sure that my pvp totems are down (pve fight or not, but I have to use totems I normally reserve for pvp situations) and mashing my purge button while targeting our current “burn him down” target. once in a while, i manage to get a lava burst off but typically for the first half of the fight (if I live) – its purge and windshear spam


    I’m sooo NOT looking forward to this on heroic :/ even on 10 man

    September 18, 2009 at 16:39

  8. CC

    This, this, this a thousand times this. I’ve tried to explain this to people who give me crap for hating this fight, and I may just refer them here. I PvP. I like PvP. But I do not bloody like “PvP” where my CC melts under DR within 20 seconds and the target has more than triple my health. I’m a frickin’ moonkin, for goshsakes.

    I seriously wonder if there wasn’t some dev at Blizz who just wanted another place for Varian and Garrosh to whip ’em out. That’s what it feels like.

    ( Had to add: not all us Alliance are behind King Varian, promise. There’s a healthy amount of us who just think he’s batsh*t insane, in ADDITION to being annoying. Promise. 😉 )

    September 18, 2009 at 17:51

  9. Verdus

    It’s almost equally frustrating from a healer’s perspective. My job is to keep people standing, but it’s almost purely random as to whether or not I can do that. Sure, I can keep anyone up through one of the champions. But when three of them (frequently) all start focus-firing a clothie, their target just explodes and there isn’t a damn thing I can do about it. Add to that the fact that I can’t effectively use ANY of my CC, thanks to both diminishing returns and a 19% miss chance, I generally feel largely helpless and frustrated.

    September 18, 2009 at 18:41

  10. Misaki

    Ah the champions. Really, it’s no fun for anyone. Being a clothy is great, and I usually end up on my back because a couple of their DPS decide it’ll be fun to focus fire me and drop me from 100 to 0 in about 2 seconds.

    Very much a marmite encounter with my guild. Some people love it, most hate it though for all the reasons described above. Bastardised PVP, and as you say it really is the cherry on the cake when that asshole Hellscream barks out worthless taunts like “Weakling!”, “Overpowered” etc.

    It’s like Blizzard took the most horrible, frustrating elements of PVP, sprinkled in some generic 14-year-old-undead-rogue-on-the-official-wow-forum taunts and stuck it in a PVE instance. End result? Countless frustration. Even on the rare occasions when we’ve 1-shot the encounter, I still come out of it feeling not accomplishment, just relief that we won’t lose any more time on that horrible fight this week.

    September 25, 2009 at 05:42

  11. Rollandren

    I’ve yet to make it into a ToC group, and this sounds genuinely painful without any prior experience in the instance. The idea of a Delrissa-style raid encounter is a very, very interesting one, but the execution of it seems a bit lacking. Instead of an exciting encounter that requires situational awareness and attention to detail, it seems to combine Majordomo Executus and Delrissa into one solid lump of nightmare, without the interesting parts. I like the idea of an encounter that forces people to think on their feet instead of repeating a predictable pattern over and over, but this clearly isn’t working the way it should. A good idea, but the execution seems bad. And you get Varian and Garrosh’s impersonation of a PvPing blood elf paladin like a diseased cherry to put on top.

    As for where Jaina and Thrall are during all of this, my prediction is that they gave up and went off to draw up battle plans, get smashed together at the Cantrips and Crows back in Dalaran, or do both simultaneously. Wouldn’t you do it if you were them?

    September 28, 2009 at 16:38

    • Well, with the 3.2.2 nerfs to the encounter–and they appear to be SEVERE nerfs–it becomes more like that dynamic encounter we want…up to a point. It’s much more “PvE” than it was prior, because with diminishing returns apparently removed on taunts, it becomes much easier for a tank-type to control the Champions’ hurtier DPS types (rogue, DK, warrior) and keep them away from the clothies. Their reduced damage output means they’re much less likely to gang up and splatter a healer before somebody can react with a stun or taunt or other CC.

      Even with the pre-3.2.2 harder version of the encounter, we still only succeeded when we did have a predictable plan (tree dies first, DK/warrior teams lock down the disc priest and the resto shaman and they’re kill targets #2/#3 respectively, DK kites the warrior, etc.) and executed it. But tactically, yeah, the fight was always a split-second away from going off the rails. Now, not quite so much.

      And honestly? I can imagine Thrall, Jaina, and Tirion sitting in some tent on the Icecrown County Fairgrounds getting totally blotto and commiserating over the “joys” of dealing with Varian and Garrosh.

      September 29, 2009 at 08:47

  12. HEY! I’m a PvPing blood elf paladin. Racist

    September 28, 2009 at 17:11

    • Yes, Pill, that’s true. But you’re still also a little ball of hate with a rack, a big axe, and Really Scary Combat Hair. ❤

      I'm just amused that the week after I write this rant, Blizzard takes the fight and totally nerfs it into Faction Declawed Kittens.

      September 29, 2009 at 08:41

      • I gots a sword now… But my BoE is still in the bank.

        September 29, 2009 at 11:27

  13. Pingback: Four whole seconds to spare « Achtung Panzercow

  14. I hated this fight with a passion at first. I just don’t pvp. Ever. So I never learned the skillsets necessary to survive in this fight. Note that this is exactly what this fight is about – survival. You can have a raid with 24 healers and you, and if you stand there looking pretty while the melee train chases after you, you’re going to die no matter how many healers you have. This fight demands that each person in the raid knows how and more importanly, WHEN to use their “oh shit” abilities. Until I started doing this fight I never realised quite how many tools a Mage has for getting out of the crap. Everyone knows mages can Ice Block, but you can Blink into a handily placed Hunters’ Frost Trap, pop Mirror Image to drop all aggro, Frost Nova to give yourself time to open some distance, Polymorph anyone getting too close, go Invisible and just simply run the hell away.

    It took me a long time to get to the stage where I am always still alive by the end of the fight (even on a wipe, I love Invisibility), and as we all know, dead dps do no dps. Your healers are not going to be able to save your ass if that Arms Warrior, Ret Pally, Rogue or Deathknight takes a sudden interest in it, the best they’re going to be able to do is to mitigate the damage put out by the Warlock, Shadow Priest and Mage. Check Recount on your next few attempts. The Shadow Priest, Lock, and Mage do far more damage to your raid than anyone else, but it’s the Rogue, Warrior and Deathknight who are killing people. You can heal through the damage done by the casters, but if you get a melee class on you, YOU need to avoid them or you WILL die.

    And that takes practice.

    October 3, 2009 at 04:58

  15. As a warlock i freaking hate this fight. Ever since it came out, and even now, weeks before Cataclysm. My guild got bored and we are trying a togc tribute run, and the encounter is just as horrible as it first was, even in 277 gear. If it isn’t the warrior or rogue one shotting me, its a goddamn Hunter’s aimed shot. The pets are so annoying too. Then there’s the target switching- if you’re not prepared you are going to have a hell of a time just trying to find the right target. Yes, me and a mage were the only two to die on this fight, its confidence destroying.

    September 5, 2010 at 09:38

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