Does Anybody Really Enjoy Faction Champions?

31 10 2009

I don’t try to hide it. Whenever I down Jaraxxus, I sigh at the upcoming fight. I hate Faction Champions. I’d rather lose Eye of the Storm than do this encounter, which says a lot since I’m not a huge fan of PvP. I know there are a lot of other people who don’t like it (and some crazy weirdos who do) so I thought I’d compile a list of reasons why I don’t like it.

  1. Randomness. In very few other fights can you get gibbed so easily, especially while CC’d. I can break fear once every two minutes with my PvP trinket, but when I can’t break out? More often than not the melee champions start chasing me and kill me while I’m CC’d. Is there any other encoutner in Wrath where something so random can happen (and happens frequently)?
  2. I don’t get to DPS. I spend most of my time in heroic FCs casting Chains of Ice on the Death Knight and the Rogue to keep them off our casters. So basically I end up running around, away from the kill target, to cast Chains. That’s boring. It’s not the same as having a few interesting gimmick-things to do in an encounter, like switching essences in Twin Valks.
  3. It’s not PvP. One of the irritating things about this fight is that I would likely perform better if I used a PvP spec. Since it is a raid, and not a battleground, I find this to be something of a design flaw. I’m all for some off-the-wall talents being useful sometimes (like reduced Death Grip cooldown to help with Sparks on Malygos) but when it’s better to completely nuke your DPS in favour of a bit more survival? I’ll pass, thanks.
  4. Morale. I play on a PvE server, so there are a lot of people in my raid who just don’t like PvP. Whatever people say about FCs, it will always be a PvP encounter forced into a PvE situation to me. Again, this is bad design in my opinion. If anything, this is the kind of encounter that should be put behind a PvP barrier like Wintergrasp, since at least the flavour of PvP is retained. So when we do this fight, and half the raid is irritated even before we wipe, well, it just doesn’t help the raid’s morale.

So why don’t you like Faction Champions?





Argent Coliseum Strategy: Heroic Edition

5 09 2009

So last night my guild wandered into the Trial of the Grand Crusader (hard mode Crusaders’ Coliseum, for the uninformed). We managed to down Beasts, Jaraxxus, and Faction Champions in 10-man. While most of the changes were straightforward, such as boss damage being raised, some upgrades came as a surprise.

Northrend Beasts

Gormok the Impaler

Instead of having a second tank (3 are used in 25-man, I’ve heard) taunt at 3 stacks of Impale, we had our OT taunt at 2. At 3 it becomes simply too dangerous. In addition to more boss damage, you have to kill Gormok in a certain amount of time (I forget the exact amount, but DBM has a timer) or else the worms come out regardless of whether he’s dead or not.

We also had anyone who got Snobolded run out of melee range or, if they were ranged or a healer, run to just outside stomp range until the Snobold was killed.

Acidmaw and Dreadscale

My guild’s strategy on normal mode was to burn down Acidmaw first and just heal through the enrage. On hard mode, the enrage is significantly more dangerous so another option is to burn down both worms at once. We chose to focus our DPS on the mobile worm due to the knockback that the rooted worm does on those in melee range. While this means that you will end up having to switch to Dreadscale while he is in the ground to avoid killing Acidmaw early, this strategy worked well. Aside from a more potent enrage, the worms are the same as on normal.

However, if you’re overgeared for the worms (say, you run 25s in addition to 10s) you can also choose to just burn down Acidmaw right away and blow tank/healer cooldowns to survive the enrage. If you’re using this strategy, the worm-burn phase is a good time to Heroism too.

Icehowl

The only difference my guild noted (aside from more damage on basically everything, including the freezing breath, which makes spreading your raid out very important) was that after the 3rd charge-into-the-wall thing, Icehowl will enrage whether he ran into anyone or not. This simply adds a “burn or die” component to the fight, similar to Gormok, where he has to be taken down before the worms come out.

You also get no speed buff to get away from his charging into the wall, so you have to be more careful.

Lord Jaraxxus

The major difference between normal and hard mode in this encounter is that the Infernal Volcanoes and the Netherworld Portals must be destroyed or they will continue to spawn Mistresses/Infernals. With good timing it’s possible to avoid getting a 2nd Mistress/more than 2 Infernals. Aside from that, everything else simply had its damage upped.

My guild made one strategy adjustment, and that was to have the ranged/healers stand in staggered pairs in a semicircle. Doing so makes sure that Fel Lightning only chains to one extra target. If your raid simply clumps up, you can get dangerous chains of Fel Lightning.

Faction Champions

The only real difference is that all the mobs do more damage, have more HP, and heal for more. It’s harder and takes a bit more focus/communication than 10-man on normal, but it’s not a huge adjustment by any means. They are also untauntable/have PvP trinkets on short cooldowns (courtesy of commenter Gil).

Valkyr Twins

Similar to Faction Champions, everything just got a boost numbers-wise.  It’s important to position the twins close to their same-essence portals (for example, the Dark Twin should be next to a Dark portal). The reason for this is that for most special abilities cast by the twins, it’s necessary to be able to quickly swap essences.

One other strategy adjustment that I had to make was saving DPS cooldowns for the Twins’ Pact shield, which was difficult to get down. To aid DPS (especially melee) the Twins should be tanked close together, and with their backs facing the middle. This way melee DPS have very little distance to travel.

Anub’arak

There are a few significant changes in heroic mode, aside from the expected buff in damage and HP (30% to both on Anub’arak). First, the Burrowers now cast a spell called Shadow Strike (8s cast, halved by the haste buff they cast on themselves). This ability does a base damage of 40000 (likely to one-shot anyone who’s not a tank) and is interruptable. These adds are still stunnable as well. The Burrowers also continue to spawn in phase 3 (the Leeching Swarm phase) unlike on normal.

Another of the changes is that you have a limited amount of Frost Spheres to work with (6). So when players are pursued by Impale in phase 2, they must take care to kite as far as they can. This accomplishes two things: first, it allows other players to move far away from the pursued player so that the next target will already be far away. Secondly, kiting for longer before running onto Permafrost allows you to break fewer Permafrost areas during phase 2.

Here are a few notes and tricks for phase 2.

  • Hand of Protection grants immunity to impale damage but will not make Anub’arak choose a different target to pursue
  • Immunity effects (such as Ice Block and Divine Shield) will cause Anub’arak to pursue another player
  • If an unfortunate raid member with no escape mechanisms/blinks is targeted, it’s probably better to use Hand of Protection on them rather than on classes such as Warlocks and those who can force a different pursue target via immunity effects
  • You may not necessarily want to drop all 3 Frost Spheres for the first phase so that you don’t accidentally have none left for phase 3 (where you need at least one patch of Permafrost to prevent adds from burrowing)
  • No matter how much Ghostcrawler says “bring the player, not the class” doing Anub on heroic without a 50% healing debuff (Wound Poison, Aimed Shot, Mortal Strike) it will be significantly more difficult

Phase 3 works much the same way as on normal, except that Anub’arak heals for more and does more damage. It’s important to keep only the targets of Penetrating Cold and the tanks at full health – everyone else’s HP should kept be as low as possible to reduce the effects of Leeching Swarm. Your best bet is to only kill as many adds as necessary to allow your tank to survive the stacking debuff. You should also be allowing adds that are not being killed to burrow when new adds spawn to reduce their uptime over the encounter.

Having a Paladin tank on add duty for phase 3 is also very valuable due to their Holy Wrath ability to stun everything around them. Warriors can also shockwave to accomplish this. Interrupts have a high priority since they will one-shot anyone they hit.





Death Knights, Faction Champions and You

20 08 2009

The Faction Champions encounter in the Coliseum is probably the most innovative and different fight in all of Wrath. Not necessarily because it’s really difficult (even though it’s a significant step up from Jaraxxus and the Beasts) but because it’s dynamic. Unlike most bosses, where you can succeed by paying close attention to a boss’s cooldowns and various other timers, Faction Champions plays like a 5v5 arena match scaled up to PvE numbers. What that means is that this fight requires an incredible amount of coordination and quick, intelligent reactions.

Luckily, as Death Knights, we have ample resources to help out in this fight. I actually wished I was using my old 17/54 Unholy PvP spec for this encounter to get the Ghoul stun along with some other utility (but strong DPS is very important in the early phase of the fight, so I don’t recommend sacrificing DPS stats/talents for resilience or utility). The only exception to this is the WG PvP trinket, which has 190 AP on it. If you haven’t already, check out Tankspot’s video guide to the encounter. Once you’ve done that, I’ll provide a few DK-specific tips for the fight.

A few DK abilities stand out in this fight. Let’s begin with some tips for using the ever-awesome Death Grip:

  • You can use Death Grip to interrupt heals (none of the FCs are immune to the GET OVER HERE aspect of the spell), but beware of putting dangerous melee on taunt diminishing returns.
  • My guild had me pulling the primary target (for us, the Priest) out of the pack to start the encounter, as well as gripping subsequent targets out of the hubbub so that melee DPS didn’t get cleaved by Whirlwinds, Hellfires, etc.
  • If you see a mob targeting (can be melee or ranged) a clothy or healer, don’t hesitate to grip it to you. You can also use Dark Command for this purpose, but again don’t overuse these abilities lest mobs become immune to taunt (happens after 3-4 taunts on a single mob).

Next up, tanking cooldowns. I’m going to lump AMS, IBF and Frost Presence together here. Depending on your spec, you will most likely have another cooldown in the form of Rune Tap/Vampiric Blood/Unbreakable Armor/Bone Shield, but I won’t mention these individually.

  • If you’re Death Grippings mobs around, taunting off healers and generally doing DPS to stuff, chances are you’re going to take some serious damage. The mobs don’t have aggro tables, but can focus on you if they feel like it for any amount of time. So if you notice that you’re taking a lot of damage, use a cooldown. Don’t pop everything at once – pretend you’re tanking and spread your defensive abilities out.

Interrupts (so incredibly important). Since these mobs are stunnable, interruptable and grippable, it’s your responsibility to interrupt important spells (note: this means paying attention to what spells you’re interrupting rather than blowing your cooldowns on every spell you see).

Here are the important spells to interrupt (from highest priority to least)

  1. Any kind of heal (Holy Light, Flash of Light, Flash Heal, Penance, Nourish, Regrowth, Healing/Lesser Healing Wave).
  2. Unstable Affliction (this spell is bad news – not only is it immune to dispel, but it also can be hit by your Priests’ mass dispels by accident and cause bad things to happen)
  3. Any form of CC (Fear, Polymorph, Hex)
  4. Damage spells (Shadow Bolts, that kind of thing)

Note that your interrupt abilities are not limited to Mind Freeze. Strangulate was recently patched to have an interrupt component for PvE, so even though it’s on a 2min cooldown, don’t hesitate to use it if necessary. This means keeping a Blood or Death Rune available when your Mind Freeze is on CD. You can also use, as mentioned earlier, Death Grip to interrupt spells (even if you’re close to the mob in question. If you’re specced for the Ghoul, you should be using Gnaw as well.

Chains of Ice and other utility things

  • The best target for Chains is the Death Knight, followed by the Warrior (because he Bladestorms around a lot slows are less helpful). Since these targets are often left alive late into the fight, it’s important to mitigate the damage they do. The best way to accomplish this is by either hard-CCing them (things like Polymorph and various stuns), fearing or kiting.
  • Unlike most fights with adds, the FC encounter lends itself quite well to Army of the Dead usage. While your ghouls won’t taunt the FCs themselves, they can and probably will taunt the enemy’s pets (which are only level 80) and mitigate some damage. Don’t forget that AotD also acts as a defensive cooldown and reduces damage done to you while channeling it. Since taunting random crap away from healers is what this fight is all about, AotD can be a good way to start off the fight.
  • Note that the ghouls will probably break CC, so use it at a time in the fight when lots of your CC is on DR or when you are ignoring CC to burn healers down. Anything that distracts the FCs and takes a few hits is a help to your healers.

N.B. See Kathmaul’s comments for some further strategy suggestions





Raiding Spotlight: Argent Coliseum Strategy

4 08 2009

Every once in a while, I’ll try to take a detailed look at a specific element of the raiding game. Today in the spotlight: Argent Coliseum Strategy.

I rarely do strategy posts (and by rarely I mean this is the first one ever) but since the instance is so new and information on the coliseum bosses is scattered everywhere, I thought I’d do a quick run through of what I gleaned from watching Youtube videos of the encounters. I’ll be skipping the Northrend Beasts encounter because Matticus covered it better than I ever could here. Keep in mind some of this might be incorrect since it’s largely guesswork, but it’s all I’ve got at the moment and I’ll update later.

The Faction Champions (video link)

Remember the third boss of Magister’s Terrace? This looks similar, except instead of facing NPCs with crazy abilities, you’re matched up against NPCs of the classes you know and love, but of the opposing faction. They’re CC-able (but with diminishing returns, as in PvP). You have the option of CC-ing healers first and killing DPS or doing it vice-versa if you find yourself getting owned by the DPS.

Notes:

  • They can CC you, so be ready with dispels. In 10-man, make sure you have dispels available for every kind of debuff.
  • You won’t always get the same champions (list of them here), I think, so as soon as they are visible in the coliseum figure out what classes you’re up against and set up a kill order.
  • Some more information can be found here and here.
  • Healers can all be interrupted and should have an interruptor assigned to them if they aren’t being CC’d.
  • My guild got best results from burning down the 3 healers right away and then moving on killing the most dangerous and least CC/able mobs.
  • Treat it like a 5v5 arena – CC liberally, pay attention to DRs and stay away from as much incidental damage as possible (there’s a fair amount of AoE that happens, such as Hellfire from the Warlock and Bladestorm from the Warrior).

Lord Jaraxxus (video link)

A big fire-centric Eredar guy. There’s a list of his abilities here, which you should read first since I’ll be referencing them by name. Should be tanked in the centre of the arena.

Notes:

  • Summons Mistresses of Pain through creating Nether Portals. You’ll need an off-tank ready to pick them up. There’s an achievement linked to having two of these up when you kill the boss. They have their own skillset, the important ones of which are that they can leap towards raid members and cast Mistress’ Kiss on raid members which interrupts for 8 seconds if the affected raid member casts something with a cast time.
  • Casts Fel Lightning (basically Chain Lightning, like Thorim’s) so ranged should spread out to avoid chaining it. If it hits melee there’s not much you can do.
  • Casts Incinerate Flesh, which needs to be healed through (you have to do a certain amount of healing to the affected target to remove the debuff). If it’s not removed in time an infernal spawns.
  • Has a bunch of random damage and AoE damage spells, so melee will need a lot of healing. Ranged should stay at least 15 yards away to avoid taking this damage.
  • Can cast Legion Flame, which damages the target and causes that person to leave a trail of fire behind, similar to the fire in hard-mode Mimiron. Move while you have it and try to place it so it doesn’t interfere with tanks or melee DPS.
  • Can summon an Infernal Volcano, which shoots up Infernals that need to be off-tanked.

Valkyr Twins (video link) (list of abilities)

Two mobs (linked HP, I believe), 4 portals that allow you to switch between Light and Dark Essences. The Dark boss is tanked at a Dark zone while the Light boss is tanked at a Light zone.

Notes:

  • Raid members with Light Essence deal more damage to the Dark boss and vice versa (but are vulnerable to damage of the opposite Essence). So you want raid members with Light Essence DPSing the dark boss and vice versa.
  • There are little dark and light orbs floating around the arena. You want to absorb those of your current Essence (just touch them) and avoid the other ones (they damage you). When you’ve absorbed 100 stacks of one type of energy, you gain Empowered (Dark/Light) and deal uber damage. This is the key to the fight (and the achievement, which is to kill them in 3 minutes or under).
  • Each sister can cast a Vortex (Light and Dark, respectively). When you get a warning that the one you’re DPSing is about to cast her vortex, quickly walk up to the portal-looking things to switch Essences so that you can absorb the damage. Switch back once the Vortex is over. As far as I saw, the Vortices were not cast simultaneously.
  • Each twin can cast Twin’s Pact, which heals them for 20%. From what I saw, everyone has to switch to DPSing the twin casting the pact (again, not cast simultaneously) because they can put up a shield that prevents spell interruption while active and needs to be broken before the heal can be interrupted.

Anub’arak (video link) (list of abilities)

He’s back! Yay… Like his predecessor, he can burrow, summon adds and swarms of bugs.

Notes:

  • Permafrost on the ground means that bugs can’t burrow while on it (but it also slows movement speed by 80%). Anub’arak can’t burrow either. It looks like he’s tanked on top of it when possible.
  • While burrowed, Anub’arak’s spikes will pursue a raid member, who should run away and not through people (like Kologarn’s eye beams).
  • Summons adds even when not burowed, which should be tanked near the boss to maximize incidental AoE damage. From what I saw it looked like DPS just continued hitting Anub’arak and allowed cleave/AoE to hit the adds.
  • At some point (I’m guessing when his health reaches a certain point) he will cast Leeching Swarm, which is an AoE dot on the whole raid. 20% of health every 1 second with a minimum of 250 health per tick. At this point you simply need to burn the boss down.

Seems like there should be more for the final boss of an instance, right…? IDK.








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