View From the Road

View From the Road
A View From The Road: Fail to the King

John Funk | 8 Feb 2010 21:00
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Last week, the best World of Warcraft raiders in the world successfully killed Arthas, the Lich King and main Warcraft villain since 2002's Frozen Throne. The European guild Ensidia - unquestionably the most famous WoW guild at the moment, and one responsible for almost every "world first" in the game - claimed victory in the difficult 25-man version (considered by many to be the "real" version of the encounter).

Then it was revealed that Ensidia had exploited a bug in order to get that world first kill. In response, Blizzard suspended each member of the raid group for three days and stripped away the loot, titles and achievements from the kill. Confusion and outrage spread through the WoW community, with fingers pointed at Ensidia, Blizzard and the mothers and dogs of all involved before it became clear what had actually happened.

During the fight, pieces of the environment starts falling away, and the Lich King summons minions to pick players up and drop them off the edge to their deaths. The raid, therefore, needs to split its damage between killing the minions - to prevent their comrades from splattery deaths - and killing the Lich King to, y'know, get their loots. In preliminary attempts, Ensidia discovered that the Saronite Bombs that their Engineers were using had an unforeseen effect - the siege damage caused by the bombs was actually regenerating the broken floor (a bug that only affected the 25-player version, not the 10-player version). With the floor intact, the minions were much less important to kill, meaning that the raid could devote more of their attention and damage to making the Lich King (more) dead.

The WoW community is still aflame about the topic, and will likely be so for some time. While there has always been controversy about exploits and "World First" kills - Chromaggus, C'thun, Lady Vashj, the list goes on - Arthas holds a very special place in the hearts and minds of Warcraft fans, so the situation is a bit more volatile than it might have otherwise been. But is all of this kerfuffle really warranted? Is what Ensidia did really cheating? And who should everybody be mad at?

On some level, a bit of blame has to be laid at Blizzard's feet for this - it was a significant bug in the climactic encounter of Wrath of the Lich King that should not have gone live. It might not have completely trivialized the fight, but it made it significantly easier, and the developers should have caught it. In their limited defense, though, this was the one fight that - beyond all others - they couldn't possibly have put up for public test as with all the other encounters in the raid dungeon. This was their grand finale; where all the cards absolutely had to be held close to the chest. Should they have caught the Siege Damage card? Probably, but it's also a bit understandable how something could slip beneath them - using an object designed for PvP mechanics in a PvE encounter? How bizarre.

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