Faction Champions in Crusaders’ Coliseum gets a lot of bad press.  It’s essntially the Priestess Delrissa fight from Magisters’ Terrace, except on crack.  Are you “late to the party” guy and never did Magisters’ Terrace at level 70?  Okay, here’s how it goes.

Right after you defeat Lord Jarraxus, your opposing faction leader (Garrosh Hellscream in my case) starts acting like a spoiled brat who’s had his candy taken away and demands the raid should be forced to face his champions in the next encounter.  Tirion Fordring agrees to allow it if he’ll just stop being such an emo crybaby and shut the hell up.  And so you end up facing what is basically an Arena team of opposing faction players.  Except they’re not.

All flippancy aside, it’s pretty important that you remember this is not really a pvp fight.  This is where the majority of the crying about Faction Champions arises, and I was just as guilty as everyone else when I first had to do the fight.  See, I suck at pvp.  I mean, I really suck at pvp.  If being bad at pvp was a sport, I could represent my country at it.  So I read the patch notes about how you’d have to face a number of classes of any spec and how pvp diminishing returns on crowd control was in force.  Then I played the encounter and cried as my polymorph was dispelled by the opposing Priests, my fireballs were eaten by the Shamans’ grounding totems,  the Paladins bubbled and healed up when we got down to 15% and I got melee- trained and insta-gibbed by the Rogue and Arms Warrior.

Oh noes, Blizz am making me pvp in my pve contents! QQ!!

Well, no they’re not.  All they’re doing is making you think outside of your nice comfortable kill-the-raid-boss mindset.  This is not actually a bad thing.  Allow me to elaborate.

Yes, Faction Champions, in any flavour, is a lot like a pvp fight.  As already stated you have diminishing returns on all forms of crowd control, so your first polymorph will last a maximum of 10 seconds, then less each consecutive time you cast it on the same target until they very quickly become immune.  In practice, this is not an issue anyway, since the opposing priests and paladins dispel it as quickly as you apply it.  In that respect it’s exactly like a pvp fight, but there are differences and the differences are huge.

For a start, they’re all tauntable.  In the past this shared diminishing returns too, but that’s been removed in the latest build.  Taunting them doesn’t guarantee you aggro for ever, but once every 8 seconds you can get them to forget who they’re wailing on for a moment or two, so it’s nothing like pvp in that respect.  Next, all of your “oh shit” pve buttons work just fine, even if you don’t get the full duration out of them.  Fade will drop aggro, as will Mirror Image, Vanish, Feign Death, Invisibility and any other number of class skills.  You might get aggro back a few seconds later, but it gives you time to be somewhere else.  One other major difference that pissed me off immensely was that Counterspell’s magic school lockdown doesn’t work.  This may actually be the same in real pvp, I don’t know since I don’t do it.  But the sweet thing about Counterspell is that while it has the longest cooldown of any spell interrupt (24 seconds, fact fans) it has the sweetest side effect.   It locks out all spells from the same school as the interrupted spell for 8 seconds.  Imagine a Holy Paladin with their Holy spells shut down for 8 whole seconds.  You do not want to be that Holy Paladin.  Well sadly, in the Faction Champions fight, all Counterspell does is work as any other interrupt, except it’s on a 24 second cooldown.  Meh!

The one thing that Faction Champions does share with a pvp or Arena fight is that personal survivability is your problem, not your healers.  Faction Champions is the Olympic Medal Not Standing In The Fire contest.  You could have 2 tanks, 22 healers and you in the raid, and if you’re going to stand there looking pretty and continuing your nuke rotations when the melee train switches to you, you’re going to die anyway.  No healer will be able to keep your squishy butt in one piece if the Warrior/Rogue/Deathknight/Enhance Shaman/Ret Pally suddenly take an intimate interest in it.  Surviving is up to YOU.   Check Recount after one of your Champions wipes and look at the damage done to you.  I guarantee you that the opposing Mage, Shadow Priest and Warlock will all be doing far more damage than the melee classes combined.  But this damage is coming in relatively small chunks, it’s entirely manageable.  This is damage your healers can handle, whether that be through dispels or heals.  No-one should be dying from damage sustained from any of the casters unless you were low on health anyway from being battered by a melee class, and if that’s the case it was your own fault anyway.  Now look at the number of deaths on recount and see who got the killing blows.

Yep, the casters are doing the most damage, but the melee dps are the ones who are actually killing people.  If you just stand there while that Arms Warrior smacks you upside the head with a 15k Mortal Strike, you deserve to die.  And you will.  This is where we all need to get out of our nice comfortable raiders’ mindset and start thinking like an Arena team.  And I was quite frankly amazed at the number of tools I, even as a raid-specced Fire Mage, had to keep my squishy butt from getting…  well..  squished.  Let’s go through the numbers.

Ice Block.  Our old favourite.  Except in this fight, the Arms Warrior will remove it with Shattering Throw and the priests will Mass Dispel it.  Ice Block is your tool of last resort, never the first.

Mirror Image.  I want to marry this spell and have its babies.  Every mage, regardless of spec should be casting this as the fight starts, because the aggro drop works and it gives the Champions three other targets to choose from.  There’s a very good chance that if you start the fight with this spell you’ll have 30 uninterrupted seconds of pew pew on your focus target, and if he’s not dead in that time your raid failed, not you.  Note that the Mirror Images can be the focus of the Champions’ aggro, and this is a Good Thing.  Standing next to them when the Arms Warrior Bladestorms through them is a Bad Thing.  Cast it, move aside, begin the pew pew.

Frost Nova.  Another awesome spell that’s saved my ass more times than I care to remember on this fight, but as ever it’s highly situational.  Never use it when the Arms Warrior has Bladestorm up or the Rogue has Cloak of Shadows, all you succeed in doing is wasting a global cooldown and forcing yourself to wait to cast the Blink you should have cast.  Also, as in any pve situation, never, ever, ever cast Frost Nova when the mob you’re escaping from is standing next to anyone else, especially a healer.  All you’ll succeed in doing is forcing the mob to switch aggro to the closest target that they can hit, and insta-gibbing them.

Did we mention Blink?  If you have a Hunter on your team they should be laying a Frost Trap in the middle of the arena at all times.  Blink into it.  Even if the mob maintains aggro and follows you through the Blink, he’s going to run right into the Frost Trap and isn’t going to catch you in a hurry.  In that time, a tank can and should have taunted him off you anyway.  Try to save Blink for when the mob focussing you has immunity effects up and can’t be crowd controlled easily.

Invisibility.  Because it has such a long cooldown and takes so long (untalented) to activate, Invisibility is ideally used in one of two situations.  Either when everything else is on cooldown and the melee train is running for you or when it’s a wipe and you want to save yourself some repair bills.  Note that to get the most out of invisibility you should ideally be standing in the area of effect of your Hunters’ Frost Trap.  This makes the most of the few seconds it takes for Invisibility to kick in, just in case the enemy Rogue is trying to introduce you to the business end of Mister Pointy.

Polymorph.  As a crowd control effect this is almost useless in this fight, at least at the early stages.  If it lasts longer than 2 seconds before it gets grounded, dispelled or purged then you’re not playing the same fight I am.  However when all else is lost, you’re got a few seconds to spare and there’s an angry Arms Warrior bearing down on you, Polymorph can save your ass and give you time to run and your tanks time to taunt.  Bear in mind it will have no effect on a Bladestorming Arms Warrior.  Blink is always your friend in this case.

Slow.  Arcane mages only, this one.  But it’s a beauty.  If you have it, you’ll most likely be assigned to keep it up on one of the melee targets anyway, but since it’ll be getting dispelled quite often it isn’t going to make much difference if you use it to keep your ass alive and out of reach of the Retribution Paladin who’s chasing you down.  If it keeps you alive long enough for him to lose interest, it served its purpose.

Run Away.  Simple but highly effective, especially if your side have a Frost Trap or Earthbind Totem in play.

Note that all of these tricks aren’t going to be much use to you if the first indication you have that the melee train is arriving at You Station is when you start taking 15k Mortal Strikes.  The idea is to be reacting before you start getting beaten on and that can be handled in a couple of ways.

1.  Use Teamspeak/Ventrilo.  Have your two “tanks” enable Target of Target so they can see who their target is switching to and have them call it out.

2.  Use some sort of addon that alerts you when you have aggro.  I use X-Perl and it handles this as well as an incredible number of other things.  Very little grabs your attention like the word “AGGRO” across the middle of your screen as a PVE raider.  In most raids it’s usually the last thing you see before you die.  On Faction Champions it’s your cue to start getting creative.

3.  Pvp a lot.  There’s no better way to hone your sense of situational awareness.  On the plus side you’ll become a lot better at staying off the radar and at target switching if you take part in any kind of competent Arena play. 

Alternatively you could just do Faction Champions three or four times a week.  You’ll either get good at it or you’ll eat a lot of dirt.  As a Mage you’ve got a massive number of tricks up your sleeve to stay alive and continue doing damage that other classes would kill for.  Any Mage who dies early on in this fight simply wasn’t paying enough attention.  Dying in Faction Champions is always your problem, not your healers.

  1. repgrind says:

    Pretty nice to see a post that gives some advice on tools to use in this fight instead of just whining about the pvp aspects of it. I haven’t seen the fight myself … am I a sick puppy for actually looking forward to the day that I get to do it? hahaha.

    Having done some arena though, I totally concur with your closing statements … mages have so many ways to be sneaky! It just takes a little practice and some familiarity with spells and abilities that don’t get utilized that often in a pve environment.

    Oh, and boo at counterspell not having the lockout. Geez, that’s kinda the whole point of the spell. A well-placed counterspell is often the key to victory in arena. Oh well. Still sounds like a fun fight to me.

  2. Calli says:

    I figured I’d done enough QQ posts recently, and it did come as a very pleasant surprise to me just how many tools even a raid-specced Fire Mage has to get themselves out of trouble. Doing this fight on my Priest I’ve basically got Fade and Fear, and as long as the other side have their Totems down I don’t even have Fear. My Warlock doesn’t even have Fade! It really is a great fight for a Mage if you can keep yourself alive, and while I don’t intend to do any serious pvp other than the occasional Battleground to grind honour that I can turn into epic gems, I’ve definitely learned a thing or two that’s going to make the Battlegrounds less painful too.

  3. gnomeaggedon says:

    Don’t write Polymorph off completely…

    I haven’t been there, so I am not sure on dimensions, but if you can kite an opponent away from their decursers, you might buy the 10 seconds…

    Otherwise, think of it as another counter spell…

    They wont cast for the time they are polymorphed (even if 2 seconds)… and one of the others will have to take a second or two out of their usual business to decurse

  4. DW says:

    Just a minor thing. Unless something changed since last week that i missed, they are NOT tauntable in the real fight… only on easy mode.

  5. Calli says:

    Yes, as DW points out, the mobs can’t be taunted on Heroic setting. A fact which may be useful to 0.02% of people reading this and which I didn’t point out because if survival tips like the ones I posted above are going to be useful to you, you’re not doing Heroic anything because you can’t get past Normal Faction Champions. That’s “Normal” mode by the way, not “easy”, and I’m guessing that the guys wiping on it find it just as “real” as the pros find Hard Mode.

    • dw-redux says:

      Im just saying…
      And it *is* easy. If a dropping in casual like me can figure it out, its easy. I don’t care if blizz called them ‘hardcore imba death’-mode, its still easy mode. And Heroic mode is still ‘harder’ mode.
      And I cannot fathom a group that has cleared Ulduar, having any long lasting problems here.
      But I think i may have miscommunicated what I wanted to say with my post – so ill just rant the above out instead 😀
      My point was: don’t go yelling at the people with taunt-buttons if you die to melee, because the mage is lying, you cannot taunt em on the ‘harder’ mode.

      • Calli says:

        And my point is if you found this post useful you’re not doing Hard Mode because you needed tips to survive Normal. The post isn’t for people who sail through Normal mode. Here’s that post:

        “Faction Champions, easy, huh?”

        This post is for people who DO have problems on Normal mode. Where the mobs can be taunted. If you’ve cleared Normal and are running into untauntable mobs on Hard, this post isn’t anything you hadn’t already learned the hard way.

  6. Kurnak says:

    Ah the champs… I’ve only been there with my warrior, so my survivality tricks are mostly letting the plate eat away all the possible damage (since fear is used as part of the strategy to kill the healers at start). The main problem I see in this fight is that there’s a lot of things going on at the same time. You have 6 bosses, not just one with some adds, so focus is the key in this fight, and as the Go Rin No Sho (the Book of the Five Rings, by Miyamoto Musashi) says: in a battle you have to keep both a wide scope to see the overall things and a close scope to see the details too. So it’s not only caring for your ass, but your mates too. Acting like a team here is the key to victory. Plan a good strategy before starting: who do what and when. Communication is vital in the fight. Is the second healer on the loose? Say it so and ask somebody to gank him fast. Is the rogue ganking one of your healers? Ask someone to grab him off. The fight is quite messy, so a good leadership (that includes a good plan before starting) and good communication will pave your road to success.

  7. Ten'nen says:

    Nice post, and an informative (not to mention amusing) summary of some of the defensive mage spells. Now if only our cooldowns for everything weren’t so damn long…or if almost everything couldn’t be super easily dispelled…

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