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?





Where Are We Heading Tonight?

30 09 2009

This is a question I see with growing frequency in guild chat or raid chat as the group fills up. This is because, as a guild, we are in a strange place with regard to progression. We’re not quite ready for ToC-25 hard modes, but doing Ulduar hard modes can seem a bit silly. They’re definitely harder than ToC-25 normal mode, but with (mostly) inferior loot.

This makes the term “progression” a bit loopy. There’s no doubt that Algalon is significantly more difficult than Northrend Beasts on normal mode, but Algalon’s loot is a few item levels lower. If you look back at previous expansions, raiding progression was a bit more linear. In pre-BC, you started off with a mix of Onyxia and Molten Core. When you could reliably kill Ragnaros, you’d probably move on to a mix of ZG (which was harder than MC) and Blackwing Lair. Then you’d start playing around with AQ20 and AQ40. Then, if you were awesome, you’d head into Naxxramas (when it was actually hard).

A mishmash of progression

A mishmash of progression

In BC there were significantly more raids but again a fairly linear progression. You started with a mix of Karazhan and Gruul’s Lair, moving up to Magtheridon and then upgrading to the next “tier” of gear when you were ready. In Wrath, you can get Ulduar level gear from heroics. You can get ToC-25 level gear from an instance that is easily pugged (Vault). Malygos, Sartharionx3 and Kel’Thuzad drop loot that is comparable (and in some cases superior, as with the Signet of Manifested Pain and Pennant Cloak) to Ulduar gear.

Onyxia muddies the water even more. Another puggable instance that drops ilvl 245 gear! It’s crazy! Is it better, though? Hard modes have certainly made progression a fuzzier line than before. While I do certainly enjoy attempting (and later succeeding at, hopefully) the Ulduar-25 hardmodes, it feels off to be doing them after completing the normal mode of ToC. Invariably, progression is measured by the kind of loot you can get from an instance. So Ulduar is behind ToC in these terms. The major change we have seen in the last few patches of WotLK is that difficulty no longer necessarily scales with ilvl.

I recall talking to my GM about the subject (or at least something closely related) and he lamented the lack of a middleground. Something between ToC hardmode and ToC normal (which is simply too easy and a bit boring) for guilds that fall between casual and hardcore. What could this be, though? Perhaps if hard modes could be calibrated multiple ways with different loot, as with Sartharion, there would be more for middle-of-the-road guilds to do. This is my major frustration with having “hard” and “normal” modes. Where’s the middleground?

The basis for creating it is there. Have Freya with two trees alive drop, say, ilvl 236 loot (between 226 and 239, which is the ilvl of Ulduar hard mode gear). This would require tweaking of certain hard modes, such as Mimiron, where you have everything built into the press of the button. For other fights, such as the previously mentioned Freya encounter and Hodir, calibrating loot drops to have normal, medium and hard drops wouldn’t be too much of a stretch. It would also follow Blizzard’s trend of giving its players options.

Be casual, be hardcore, be casualcore. Play as much as you want. Just hope that Blizzard notices you and gives you something appropriate to your skill level to do.





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.








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