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




4 responses

21 08 2009

We got the Server First for FC in 25 man and a few things we found to work.

-Sap Targets were the DK and Rogue.

-Sheep targets were the Priest and Shaman.

-All other Targets except the Focus Fire Target were fear bombed by our two Locks and SPriest.

-We started on the Druid, which anyone who PvPs can attest that Resto Druids are a pain to kill. We wanted him dead first so He couldn’t spread HoTs around on the other Champs. Also, he has the most instant casts, which you can’t interrupt, so this is what made him first.

-We then killed the Priest followed by the Shaman. Once the three healers were dead we moved on. But be warned, the Pally will start throwing heals once the other three are dead, but with only one healer throwing heals, we decided to take this risk.

-While the DK was chain CC’d we killed the Rogue as he proved to be very problematic for our clothies in our first few attempts. Also, he kept disarming the people FFing the main targets down, which proved a hindrance in the DPS department.

-After the Rogue, we FF’d the DK, Pally, and Warrior and then finished off the Lock, Mage and Hunter last.

This is the strat that worked for us. Is it the #1 win strat, probably not. We tried some of the other various strats posted early, but found burning the healers right away, and when most of our DPS was still alive, worked best. Followed by the targets that seemed to have a huge impact on our healer population.

But we also found that AoE is more of a hindrance than a help on FCs. Myself, as 51/0/20, and the other DK, 0/10/61, were numbers 1 and 2 on the meters. I found it surprising that we were there because we could not use Pestilence for fear of breaking CC. We tried AotD and they pretty much broke all of the CC. I would save them as an Oh Shit Button for when you have healers down and need to get off some Battle Rezzes and need to give people a break from the Champ’s loving attention.

We also used a Target Chains of Ice Macro:

/tar (CoI Target)
/cast Chains of Ice

I pretty much used this in every other rotation. So my Rotation ended up being:


I suppose you could use a random target macro, but I am not too savvy on macros so that is the one I used. My target was the Warrior as he was going to be late in our Kill Order and the other DK’s target was the DK.

Also, make sure, like Shop says, to pull your FF target away from the others, because the Cleave classes (i.e. Blood DKs) will break CC on any CC’d targets with any type of Cleave.

But I would have to say, the number one tactic that enabled us to down FC so quickly was when our casters realized that they needed to do something more than just stand in one place and heal/DPS/CC. Once they realized they couldn’t just yell on vent “So and So is beating on me” and actually had to use some form of escape mechanism followed by some kiting, we very easily put the FCs to rest.

Sorry for the long post, just wanted to share our strat to you faithful readers.

21 08 2009

Thanks for the tips. I don’t know why my we didn’t think of using Sap, that was definitely a mistake. If I can’t use HS because there’s CC I default to using Blood Strike. Not great but better than nothing.

Interesting you left a healer up. Did you have an interrupter on the Paladin or just CC him/her when possible and otherwise let the heals fly?

22 08 2009

We pulled our Focus Fire target away from the group to enable myself to use Heart Strike and the other cleave classes to use their main strikes as each one has 2.4 million health with the exception of the Lock and Priest who only have 1.93 million health.

With the Pally up, by basically “forcing” the Pally to heal, you remove it’s ability to DPS, because after all, it is a Ret Pally and those Stuns and Bubbles can be just as much a pain as when you are in a PvP fight with a Ret Pally. But that also works in your favor because being a Ret Pally the heals aren’t as high as say the Druid or Shaman.

But we found the most effective CC was basically Fearbombing all of them except for the FF target. Of course diminishing returns kicks in, but as their fear times get lower, you will have killed at least 3 of the 10 Champs enabling other forms of CC on them.

One other thing I forgot to mention. You can start the event and get them to jump down from the stands, but not engage. This allows you to mark up 8 of the ten with raid symbols and also set your positioning. But make sure you don’t have any Hunter Traps pre-placed because that will trigger the event. Our two Rogues were able to move in close to their Sap targets and throw a distract and then Sap just before the pull and either myself or the other DK Death Gripped the Skull (Druid) to us with all the melee grouped around us to immediately start burning them.

Another tip for DKs:

-If you see a Champ heading for the healers, you can Death Grip them to snap aggro to you for the 3 secs of DG. These Champs have no aggro table per se, but you can get their attention with DG and Dark Command, then throw your Chains of Ice and kite for a few seconds until the mob chooses another target or gets CC’d. I use my Macro from the Maly days when I was the Spark grabber (I still use it with General since I am responsible for Vapor placement):

#showtooltip “Grip Chains”
/cast Death Grip
/cast Chains of Ice

I am sure there are better macros, but that is the one I use.

-Keep your IBF and AMS on CD, really. Early in the fight, there are going to be a couple of “leakers” that don’t get CC’d (the Rogue was the biggest pain when not CC’d due to Dismantlements and stuns). Early in the fight, as soon as a Champ started hitting me, I popped IBF followed by AMS just to improve my survivability, yet I remained on the FF Target. This takes some of the relief off your healers, and also, all of the Champs hit hard and can basically 4 shot you. Your defensive CDs are just as important as your offensive CDs in this fight.

-Remember, No AoE! You don’t want to pop any CC because that CC is what is keeping your Healers alive. They tend to target Healers first, just like in PvP.

The big thing we found to be a bonus to our success was right from the beginning, when you still have 25 raiders alive, blow Bloodlust/Heroism and all your CDs. You want to kill the first 2-3 Champs (all healers) as fast as you can. Mainly because, you are gonna have deaths. But loosing half the raid is not a wiper, unless you haven’t killed anything yet. As long as you have DPSers and Healers up, you can kill the last few without too much trouble. By the time we got to the Mage, Warlock and Hunter, we had ten people still left alive and it was trivial killing those last three.

We also had our MT, a warrior, stay Prot spec, but with DPS gear on so that he could still use the Prot abilities like intervene and whatnot to save clothies.

One other thing that has been floating out there, PvP gear. Supposedly some places are stating to use PvP gear for the fight. Unfortunately for me, my PvP gear is actually set up for PvPing, that means only 5% hit and very low (7 I think) expertise. If you have your PvP gear set up for raiding, then it might help, I think. I don’t know really as I didn’t use PvP gear for the fight. i would think you would want to do the maximum damage possible.

We also had Mass Dispels going off like crazy and were removing any other buffs the Champs got.

Granted, we have only downed the Champs once (after all, this is the first week they were up.) But as we fight this fight, I will post more tips as the weeks progress.

22 08 2009

PvP gear was mentioned but, as you say, maximum DPS is really required on this encounter to burn mobs down as fast as possible. We also had about 8 people take on about 4-5 of the FCs since most of the raid died pretty early. It made for a long and boring fight for the dead folk (I was among them, unfortunately).

We used a lot of the same strategy you guys did, such as blowing Heroism at the start and trying to isolate the FF target from the CC’d mobs. Next week I’m sure our kill will be a lot cleaner now that we’ve experienced it start to finish.

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