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.