Don’t worry about it, Tirion, I got this.

With Firelands and 4.2 nearing, I thought it might be a good time to talk about a subject that has bothered me on occasion, and in one case very nearly left me sour on an entire expansion: NPC involvement in major boss encounters.

NPC intervention in bossfights has been executed extremely well, most of the time, effectively making you feel like the pointy end of the stick for a large and epic confrontation – making you feel like your actions matter and have an impact.  And at other times, it’s had exactly the opposite effect – making you feel like you were only incidental, and really there to witness the NPC of Awesome in action.

I feel like it’s important to note that I don’t hate NPC involvement in fights, used sparingly.  I feel like it’s an effective tool for tying your raid into the larger world, and making you feel like part of the larger struggle, rather than a band of ruffians murdering your way through anyone who’ll give you purples.  I don’t feel like NPCs should be involved in a large fraction of fights, but in certain huge and lore-driven encounters, they’re almost required.

There are ways to do this very well – Akama and Maeve’s involvement in the Illidan encounter added gravitas to the fight, while leaving you feeling like you were still getting the work done – Maeve’s traps didn’t kill off Illidan for you, they just helped a bit (sometimes).  Akama prevented you from getting overrun with an army while you took down Illidan.  They were involved, they made the struggle feel epic, but you still fought and defeated Illidan essentially yourselves.

Sinestra has NPC involvement as well, as an NPC gives you a buff for P3, and protects you from being killed in P2.  This is a little bit more direct involvement that I would tend to prefer, but it’s executed very well.  You’re still left feeling like you’re getting the job done, but that the Dragonflights actually care about what you’re doing, and that you’re making an impact in the war on Deathwing.

Yogg-Saron had an innovative and brilliant method for NPC involvement – you ask for their help if you need it.  If you don’t want it, you just walk on by, striding arrogantly towards the God of Death without backup or support.  And for that, you get recognition and notoreity, in the form of one of my favorite titles.  Great system – and one that we’ll likely never see again, with the move away from Ulduar-style “RP activated” hardmodes.

And then there’s the counter-example: Arthas.  The Lich King.  Tirion spends the entire phase of the fight that matters to you, the player, trapped in an iceblock being useless.  Arthas kills everyone off with a line to the effect of “I’m tired of toying with you”, and Tirion saves the day and wins the fight for you.  You’re left feeling as if the first 90% of the fight didn’t matter at all, Arthas was just testing you to see if you were good enough to command his undead armies, and Tirion is really the important part here.  It was terrible, and shameful, and anticlimactic to be made to feel like we were just a footnote in the encounter at the pinnacle of the expansion – despite saving the world from Yogg and Algalon, despite everything – we’re really just Tirion’s footnote.

What if Tirion only barely helped in Hardmode?  At 10%, Arthas starts casting Fury of Frostmourne, and Tirion breaks out of his icicle and interrupts it, then gets beaten into a bloody mess.  I know he’s a lore figure, he can’t get killed off, but at least prevented from interfering.  And then hardmode gives you a burn phase from 10% down, where Arthas really unleashes the pain – siphoning life and all kinds of other cool undead stuff so that you can’t easily “just zerg it” with half a dead raid.  That encounter would work.  That NPC involvement would feel appropriate.

The lore justification for the ICC zone buff felt similar.  It “represents the help you’re getting from your faction”, blah blah blah.  The way it was implemented ended up falling really flat for me, and mostly made me feel ancillary.  “Don’t worry about it, guys.  If you can’t get it this week, we’ll have reinforcements coming in.”  It removed any sense of urgency or import from the zone, and just generally took away from the experience for me.  I truly hope Blizzard doesn’t play that kind of buff game again.

NPC involvement in WoW Raid encounters is great.  It adds something to the game, some level of continuity and involvement.  I just want the option to thank the NPC for his time and say “Don’t worry about it, Tirion.  I got this.”

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12 Responses to Don’t worry about it, Tirion, I got this.

  1. Esoth says:

    Hey, I liked Tirion’s involvement on Arthas! I believe they were trying to make the impression that we really are powerless against him for the most part. We can toy with him, but at the end of the day we have barely made a dent and he was using us all along.

    Also I like using Tirion quotes ironically. When two people are arguing, “everyone calm down. There is no conspiracy at play here!” Finally killing a farm boss after wiping a few times, “There is no challenge we cannot face united!”

    Oh, and it’s Tirion not Tyrion :p

    • Meloree says:

      Dammit, too much Game of Thrones recently, apparently.

      Well, they certainly ended up getting what they were aiming at, if the intention was for us to come away from the fight feeling incidental and mildly useless. But that’s sort of the whole point, as well. I didn’t work my ass of saving the world from Algalon (where were you then, Tirion?) or Yogg-Saron (I didn’t see him there, either) just to be a footnote. Frankly, he was right there for Anub’arak and just stood around being useless. Surely if this was the expansion of “Tirion and his Flunkies vs. Arthas” he could have been a little bit more useful in the leadup.

      Further, it’s fine if that’s the message in normal mode. Great, Tirion pulled our fat out of the fire. But I’d seriously prefer not to have that be the message/theme in hardmode. Certainly T10 left a sour taste in my mouth, and I consider it to be one of the worst raids Blizzard has ever released… and I’m somewhat convinced that this is part of the reason why. There was one relevant fight in the entire instance, and we never got to feel like we won – we just held out long enough for someone else to pull our fat out of the fire. Crappy.

  2. Saif says:

    Heh, it’s kind of a custom for us to pull certain bosses with a /rw of some sort and for Arthas it was, “Chill out dude, we got this.”

    I agree, I loathe the ending of that fight – it feels like the characters are totally cheated. And then the statue in Dalaran giving him all the glory? Ugh.

    • Meloree says:

      I generally warm up for pull with “Let’s go killlll some people”.

      Picture the “Let’s get ready to rumble” guy’s pacing and intonation.

  3. Theck says:

    I was always bothered by Tirion’s Deus Ex Machina in the Arthas encounter as well. I remember collecting bat testicles (or whatever) for him in Classic, so to me the storyline of Tirion felt pretty epic and deserved a better climax. The version we got fell flat on two different levels – it certainly marginalized our contribution and efforts, but it also turned an epic lore character into a bit of a joke.

    Here’s how I would have done it – Tirion is involved in the entire fight, contributing to DPS on Arthas (he’s ret, after all). Arthas casts Fury of Frostmourne during the entire encounter at regular intervals, but Tirion prevents it (improved Divine Sacrifice, redirects 99% of the damage taken by the raid to Tirion). However, each cast depletes Tirion’s health, such that after N casts, he’s heavily wounded and falls to the ground. Thus, Arthas gets off the next FoF and kills the raid, just like usual. Tirion survives, but is kneeling/panting/wheezing as he’s almost dead at that point. LK gives his epic speech, Tirion summons the last of his strength to throw Ashbringer at Frostmourne, the two collide, and the rest of the encounter proceeds as usual.

    The enrage timer basically shifts from a hard enrage to Tirion dying. If you don’t have the DPS to get LK to 10% before the last FoF, then LK just turns and delivers the coup de grâce to Tirion, ending the attempt.

    It strikes the perfect balance. Tirion still gets to be a Big Damn Hero, and an epic lore figure. We still get to be Big Damn Heros as well, because he couldn’t have done it without us (obligatory joke about ret DPS goes here). He couldn’t do it without us, we couldn’t do it without him.

    • Meloree says:

      Your version works as well. I think there were a lot of options for making that particular intervention “better” – it just flat out didn’t work for me. Especially having to deal with it for something like 10 months (including normal mode farming time). Over and over again, Tirion saves the day for us. Ugh.

  4. Rhidach says:

    Never liked Tirion’s involvement as well. Perhaps what annoyed me the most what he had to show off with a ninja flip before Mary Sue-ing the encounter to a close. What a putz.

    • Meloree says:

      Tirion isn’t a night elf, how did he do a ninja-flip?

      Total hax. Show off.

      • Donthealme says:

        The bat wings and hellhound fur we gathered for him in vanilla, I think he planned on saving our asses all along lol….although blizz should hire theck, I am sure he not only could give them headaches to let him blance numbers, but his version was a hell of a lot better than, hey you have wiped 500 times on Heroic, now that you are about to win I will save your asses.

  5. Zinn says:

    Interesting thought, I’ve never thought about that actually! Now that you mention it, I do agree that the way Tirion interrupts your ass-whooping of Arthas makes it feel like he’s stealing the show. But I always saw it like we’re fighting -Arthas-, the main man. The DUDE. We don’t really stand a chance against him, or at least that is what they’ve been telling us since the dawn of the expansion. And Tirion wouldn’t either if we didn’t hold Arthas off with our puny efforts long enough for him to get a grip on himself. I felt like it was teamwork. Tirion needed us, we needed him, and only together could we kill the Lich King.

    I do kind of feel this way when I kill some of the BWD bosses though. I kill Maloriak and think “hah! Take that Nef!” and Nefarian comes and say “oh good, I didn’t like that guy anyway” and I think “damn it!”. I want that effort to strike a blow to Nefarian, but he acts all cool about it, ruining my glee :/

    • Meloree says:

      Well, sure – but then you get to KILL Nefarian. He gets his comeuppance.

      I certainly didn’t see the Tirion encounter the same way, I felt ripped off by Tirion, and the way the encounter played out in general.

  6. Tomaj says:

    So very very true on Tirion. :( His lag must be insane if it takes him that long to bubble.

    My favorite NPC involvement was probably actually during Kil’jaeden in Sunwell. I think honestly, it’s a bit sad that most people didn’t get to see Sunwell when it was relevant (myself included), but Kil’jaeden was a pretty awesome encounter if you do get to manage to see it.

    The big difference between Tirion, though, and Muradin/Saurfang for Deathbringer, though (as an example), is that Saurfang II was much more entrenched via Wrathgate than Tirion was for Arthas as a general, unless you’d done the DK starting zone to get that little bit of background. Besides, Muradin/Saurfang didn’t participate in the encounter at all, but that particular encounter would’ve lost a lot if they weren’t involved in their pre-/post-scenes with Deathbringer.

    Though I haven’t been able to (and probably won’t) see Sinestra, it sounds like the execution is similar to Kil’jaeden.

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