Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Why the Argent Tournament Makes Sense

I've seen it expressed in various blogs and in-game, and I'm sure you have, too. "The Argent Tournament makes no sense! What the hell is the Argent Crusade thinking?! Highlord Fordring really needs to lay off the ale for a bit."

This post is to express my disagreement with that particular sentiment, as well as to explain exactly why the Argent Tournament makes absolutely perfect sense, both logically and lore-wise. Let's begin, shall we.

Thus far in World of Warcraft, we've seen our fair share of badass bosses. From Ragnaros' molten fury to Illidan's demonic paranoia to the corrupting machinations of the Old Gods. However, of all the badasses we've run into, the Lich King is by far the badassiest. Why? Because like Bloodlord Mandokir, his enemies' failures feed into his own strength. Let me repeat that for you. In bold, underlined letters, no less. His enemies' failures feed into his strength.

Is it making sense yet? No? So let's break it down some more. I don't know how many folks remember Bloodlord Mandokir, but when he is pulled an army of ghost-like NPCs surround the room. Now, these ghosts don't attack anyone, they just kind of sit there and wait. When Bloodlord Mandokir manages to kill someone, two things happen. First, he grows in strength, the the point where he even gets to experience the delicious golden glowiness that is the leveling up animation. Secondly, a ghost detaches itself from the peripheries of the room and slowly floats towards the dead player. Once the ghost gets there, the player is allowed the option of being resurrected.

"He rezzes us? But that sounds awesome!" you might find yourself saying. "That should make the boss much easier, since we can basically just zerg him for epics!"

Unfortunately, if you find yourself thinking that, you missed the bold, underlined letters above. Every time one of his opponents dies, Bloodlord Mandokir grows stronger. Essentially, there was a threshold of performance required to beat him back before the Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King released. If members of the raid were being stupid, or not paying attention, or having an off day, or for whatever other reason were unable to perform to the level of play necessary to down him, Bloodlord Mandokir would simply offer the raid group an extremely nasty repair bill. Again. And again. And again. And each time he'd kill someone, he'd grow even stronger still. Zerging as a strategy would leave both you and your wallet in beaten, bloody tatters.

"Okay, so zerging Bloodlord Mandokir is bad. But what does this have to do with the Lich King?"

Well, think about it. The Lich King is the ruler of the Undead Scourge. And what is the Scourge comprised of? The rotting corpses of those who fought against him, mostly. So what do you think would happen if the Argent Crusade just put together a huge army and zerged Icecrown Citadel? I'll tell you what: complete and total failure. Each fallen soldier would simply add to the Lich King's strength. Slowly, inevitably, attrition would lose the day.

Ultimately, the Argent Crusade has to figure out a more elegant strategy. Something with a higher success rate than simply zerg the Frozen Throne and hope for the best. Something like pick only the strongest and most able warriors Azeroth has to offer, train them up to become even stronger still, build their relationships with each other so they'll at least work together long enough to accomplish their task, and trust that they will be powerful enough to survive not only taking the battle to the Lich King's doorstep, but vanquishing the Lich King himself.

So let's do this step by step. How does one pick only the strongest forces available to the cause? Well, a competition of some kind should allow them to be compared to each other fairly easily, as well as allow the strongest to quickly rise to the top. But the competition has to be one that's not particularly lethal (at least not at first). It can't really be a direct gladiatorial competition because the Alliance participants and Horde participants may be a bit too likely to "accidentally" kill each other. It has to be a competition that's close enough to real combat, but enough of a sporting event that people will keep themselves in check. It also has to be one that will teach skills that can actually be used in battle. In addition, since the Argent forces would have to move fairly quickly to get behind Scourge lines and have a chance at facing off against the Lich King himself, they'd have to move pretty fast. Perhaps on mounts. Now, what kind of combat-like mounted sporting event that teaches actual combat skills can we think of that would fit into a medieval-themed competition?

That's right, ladies and gentlemen, a jousting tournament. A jousting tournament like the one being held right now at the Argent Tournament grounds.

Does it make sense yet? Are lightbulbs lighting up? Are you considering starting your next sentence with "Well, when you put it that way..."? No? Still not convinced that jousting will be a necessary skill once we're actually inside Icecrown Citadel? Well, the truth of the matter is that once we're inside, jousting will probably not be applicable in the slightest. However, getting people inside the citadel without suffering casualties is extremely important, and even if a few individuals here and there suck at jousting, the tournament ensures that an elite vanguard of jousting champions will at least be there to lead the charge and get everyone into the citadel safely (as well as keep the Scourge distracted once the strike force is inside).

This is where the updated Argent Tournament of patch 3.2 comes into play. We're not going to be jousting inside the coliseum that's being built. Sure, there may be some places where we joust (I haven't read up on all the fights yet, so I don't know for sure), but the vast majority of the combat seems to be of the hand-to-hand variety. Defeating extremely powerful beasts and some of the Lich King's own elite forces.

Where Argent Tournament v1.0 taught us what we need to get inside Icecrown Citadel, Argent Tournament v2.0 will train us to fight more effectively once we're there. I suspect that Argent Tournament v3.0 will help us to discover a weakness of the Lich King, so that we're not all slaughtered horribly as soon as we scale the steps to the Frozen Throne. Argent Tournament v4.0? Totally gonna teach us how to throw the after-victory ice-cream party. ;D

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