Friday, 19 March 2010

Faction Champions is not PvP

Yesterday, our spunky little guild had a crack at Lord Jaraxxus and then at the infamous Faction Champions in the equally infamous Trial of the Crusader raid. To clarify: some (few) of us had done those fights before, some others (very few) had even been in the unfortunate situation to farm them. Of those 9 (yep, nine) who were in there yesterday, the majority (including myself) had not seen those before. But, boy, have we read about them! Well, about Faction Champions.

Respected bloggers foamed at their mouths, raid leaders everywhere ended up shouting at their members to quit whining and focus, the waves of rage rose high and strong. It was nerfed and subsequently overgeared, yet probably remains as the most hated encounter in recent WoW history. Maybe in all of WoW's history. And now lil' Rem here has finally participated in it. We even beat it, despite being only 9 people (and, boy, if on any fight that makes a particularly large difference, this is the one), after several attempts during which we polished our tactics.

After we were done, a guild mate asked me if I see now why people call it a PvP-style fight. We had a little discussion about it before, an utterly friendly discussion as I shall immediately add, where I claimed most problems people have with it stem from mislabelling it as PvP and then getting all worked up about it instead of just taking the encounter as it is and focusing on it. I shall further add that I am hereby in no way dissing said guild mate - she's lovely and competent - this is merely about perception and interpretation.

What shall I say .. yes, I do see why people call it a PvP-style fight. Because those models look just like player models and use the same skills player characters have at their disposal, that's why. It's not a PvP fight (obviously) nor a PvP-style fight at all. Sorry. Okay, okay, I'll be fair, there is one good reason why people tend to call it PvP-style: it utilizes many tactical elements usually observed in PvP (particularly Arenas). Lockdown, kiting, dispels, focus fire, defensive/reactive crowd control. They all appear in PvE as well though. So, what's really different?

Actually, really different is that the traditional PvE rules of the holy trinity are ignored. You know, tanks gather stuff up, DPS burns stuff down, healers heal tanks and DPS. The simple fact that in the Faction Champions opponents may just start chasing your healer while there's very little your tank can do about it makes people call it PvP-style. But that's not enough, by far not enough, and the reason is quite simple. This is not what constitutes the difference between PvE and PvP. And no, I am not going for the cheap out of syntactically claiming that you're not playing against other players. The come back to that is to call it "PvP-style" instead of "PvP". No, the point is that the Champions do not emulate player behaviour in its most crucial aspect - adaptation and reaction.

Remember, in the second paragraph, I wrote that we got them down "after several attempts during which we polished our tactics"? This is it, basically. Over the course of those attempts, we analysed the problem and improved our approach to solving it. At the same time, the Champions made no adjustments to counter our changing tactics. Their approach remained entirely static, modified only by RNG. We were confronted by a set of rules, and once we figured out its weakness and honed our execution, we cracked it. This is PvE, absolutely and utterly, regardless of the fact that we may have used different skills in different ways to those we are usually utilising.

You have to react and adapt in both PvE and PvP, but in the case of the former, your opposition does not react and adapt beyond defined rules and RNG influence. And this is why Faction Champions is not a PvP-style encounter.


  1. ok something a lot of folks forget about the fight is that it has not bbeen nerfed that much since it was released (unless something has happened since I stopped playing)

    The reason it is refered to as a PVP-Style encounter for the main part is that your abilities when used on your opponents suffer thhe same diminishing returns that you will find in PVP, so as a warrior your taunt becomes less effective the more you use it on a certain mob.

    Crowd control effects and healing are big agro draws (much bigger than usual).

    this changes the shape of the encounter and we would usually have the tanks switching targets fairly often to save the poor healers and keep their taunts fresh.

    PVP rules applying to PVE mobs is why it's a pvp-style enounter.

    Grats on the kill though it's nice to get them down for the first time :D


  2. Thank you, it was very nice indeed! :)

    Taunts have diminishing returns in PvE as well, and, in fact, the nerf I was referring to from vague memory was that after 3.2.2 the Faction Champs did not have DR on taunts anymore, neither on stuns (also, there are no diminishing returns on tauns in PvP, since there are no taunts in PvP to begin with). Crowd control has diminishing returns, which is indeed resemblant of PvP, but then again, all PvE bosses, without exception, are immune to crowd control, so this can hardly be the criterion. Reduced AoE damage has no precedent in neither PvP nor PvE.

    Cranking up the healing threat, or having frequent aggro resets still makes use of, well, threat, which is a PvE concept. When Loatheb's spore dies next to me, I stop generating threat (tank), but no one goes ahead and calls it PvP just because the aggro rules changed. The Black Knight's ghouls reset aggro every few seconds. The AN-Skirmishers or the HoR-Mercenaries run off and harass a random target. We can just as well imagine Faction Champs as a fight where the spore de/buff is permanently applied to tanks, so they have to do something different than usual (like, rely on taunts, or instead go and lock down the opposing healer).

    Changing aggro rules still leaves them as rules, which you learn and adapt to, and when you have, the rules do not change to adapt to you. Changing the way abilities work, again, leaves you with a static set of abilities, which doesn't change again in response to your actions.

    PvE means that you adapt to the environment, but the environment does not adapt to you. Vezax will not suddenly decide to ban rage and energy generation after people learned how to deal with his mana restrictions. Whatever a PvE-opponent does is governed by a fixed set of rules, modified by RNG. Faction Champions perfectly fits this description.

    PvP means that your opponent adapts to you in the same way you adapt to them. Yes, it's mostly a well choreographed move/counter-move/counter-counter-move sequence, but still, you have to assume that your opponent will, at any time, re-evaluate the situation and choose an approach to counter your approach best, as opposed to just sticking to a fixed strategy.

    Faction Champions do not fulfil this requirement. They stick to their strategy of, for example, semi-randomly harassing healers, even if the healers are not what's actually harming them (in the same way regular PvE mobs keep pounding the tank even though the tank is not what's actually harming them). They do not fulfil the most crucial PvP trait of adapting to the opposition, and the altered - yet, again, static - way of treating aggro alone really doesn't make it "PvP rules applying to PvE mobs".