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WoW ArchivistAug 25, 2015 5:00 pm CT

WoW Archivist: Call of the Crusade, patch 3.2

Call of the Crusade logo

WoW players are deep into patch 6.2. Mythic Archimonde has fallen. Many of us have unlocked our flying achievements and now wait for actual flying to get patched in. While we wait, let’s look back at a very different time in WoW‘s history, a time when we faced Jaraxxus, when we struck down not one, but two jormungars, when we jousted, again — but for loot this time! Follow me as we answer patch 3.2’s Call of the Crusade.

Tournament scene

Blizzard hyped us for 3.2 with the following introduction:

Originally Posted by Blizzard
Since the opening of the Argent Tournament in northeastern Icecrown, adventurers have journeyed from across Azeroth and beyond to prove their worth in the heart of the Lich King’s domain. Under thundering skies the tournament’s participants hone the arts of war and face off in bone-shattering jousting matches to earn the right to be called champions. Yet these heroes have yet to face the greatest challenge of all: the Crusaders’ Coliseum. Formidable Horde and Alliance champions, ferocious beasts, and Scourge lieutenants are just some of the opponents awaiting adventurers in this gladiatorial arena. Few will survive the coliseum’s perils, but the Argent Crusade is confident that the worthy heroes who do emerge victorious will be ready to join the offensive against Icecrown Citadel and end the Lich King’s reign of terror.

Wrath of the Lich King, for the most part, had an incredibly dark tone. Plagues, zombie armies, a failed coup in Undercity with disastrous consequences, allies turned against us by necromantic power, Titans corrupted by the Old God of Death — Wrath’s story was grim, desperate, and high stakes. In the middle of all that, we had a tournament, with heraldry, jousting, and Wilfred Fizzlebang. It’s no surprise that Hearthstone with its more lighthearted take on Warcraft chose to focus on this era of Wrath with its brand new expansion The Grand Tournament.

For players at the time, 3.2 felt like a stalling tactic. Rather than advancing on Icecrown, the one place in all of Azeroth that we were itching to storm, Tirion had us camping out in fanciful tents in the Lich King’s backyard. In the grand scheme of Wrath‘s story, it was absurd. The tone of the patch struck a weirdly casual note in the middle of a horrifying war. Nothing quite captures the absurdity better than the Where are they now?: Tirion Fordring machinima. But hey — you have to hand it to Tirion: his crazy tournament gambit paid off in the end.

Patch 3.2 was not the most beloved patch of the expansion and many players would tell you it is their least. Even so, it’s hard not to look back at it fondly. The dailies were decently varied for their time. The tournament offered an incredible number of rewards that players still grind to get today. Also, few patches in WoW‘s history produced this many memes or had such memorable moments.wilfred fizzlebang

The Black Knight returns

Like Magister’s Terrace in The Burning Crusade, Trial of the Champion was a higher-level dungeon added in a post-launch patch that contained higher-level loot. Upon entering the Crusaders’ Coliseum, players were greeted with a horrifying sight: racks of Argent Lances. Yes, the first bosses required jousting them first before you could fight them on foot. Jousting was never the most popular mechanic, and players had been doing it for months since patch 3.1.

The dungeon had three other bosses, two of which were selected randomly as the second boss. All three — Eadric the Pure, Confessor Paletress, and The Black Knight — are now legendary Hearthstone cards. Paletress had an interesting ability called Summon Memory. She would summon other bosses from WoW‘s past, including Chromaggus, Edwin VanCleef, Illidan, Onyxia, and even Hogger. Unfortunately, all the summoned bosses had the same ability set, and none of their unique mechanics.

Trial of the Champion had the virtue of being brief, so even though it required jousting, most people stuck with it when it came up as their random daily dungeon.


Crusaders gonna crusade

Trial of the Crusader was a raid in the same circular coliseum that housed the dungeon. It was a bold choice on Blizzard’s part that allowed them to give us a new raiding tier in record time, but the sameness of the experience wore on players.

Exacerbating the sameness problem, players could run the Trial of the Crusader four times per week on any given character. Blizzard had experimented with unique hard mode triggers in Ulduar, but for the Coliseum they decided on the UI toggle that we have today. Different raid sizes and difficulties had different lockouts, so players could run 10-player normal, 10-player heroic, and 25-player normal and heroic in the same week. Needless to say, players who ran it this much burned out on the Coliseum very fast.

The tier had only five bosses — by far the smallest tier that Blizzard has ever produced. One encounter unlocked each week after the patch went live. On the plus side, the encounters were mostly well designed and well received. The sole exception was the “PvP” encounter, Faction Champions. The champions had no aggro table so players had to use liberal crowd control and personal survival skills to win out. Raiders with no experience at PvP found the encounter daunting — and complained heavily about the mechanics of the fight. Others reveled in the chaos it created, which sometimes all came down to a one-on-one or two-on-two situation.

At the end, the Lich King makes an appearance (he was pretty much everywhere in that expansion) and sends players down through the ice to fight Anub’arak. The fall into the water far below was itself a PvP encounter, as Shamans cast Water Walking and Death Knights toggled Path of Frost to kill as many of their comrades as possible, while others frantically clicked off buffs, engaged Parachute Cloaks, or Levitated. Players had been disappointed to see Anub’arak as a 5-player boss, so many were happy to see him return as a glorious and challenging raid boss.AnubarakHeroic mode of Trial of the Crusader had a bonus chest depending on how many times you wiped. If you cleared the entire zone without wiping, you received a faction-specific mount and cloaks with a higher ilevel than the rest of the zone. Don’t bother trying for them now, however. These chests were removed in patch 4.0.

The Coliseum had a focus on faction rivalry, not only in the Champions encounter but with Garrosh and Varian sparring verbally throughout the raid, and Tirion playing the role of mediator. Tier 9 brought a visual aspect to this rivalry: each faction had its own unique tier designs.

The patch also included some quality-of-life improvements for raiders. The lockout extension system that we have today originated here, and so did the ability to share loot among raid members once it went into someone’s inventory. Prior to that change, you had to open a ticket with a GM to have an item reassigned if a player accidentally looted it.


Gone in 300 reinforcements

Patch 3.2 also provided the only 40-player battleground added to WoW besides classic’s Alterac Valley. Isle of Conquest debuted here, to mixed reactions. Players were happy to see another supersized battleground, but its emphasis on vehicles was about as popular as jousting or the drakes in the Oculus. You’re also not fighting players with said vehicles as often as walls, which generally put up less tactical resistance. When the walls do come down, you’re still not fighting players but a PvE-style boss. It’s easy to see why Isle isn’t a favorite of dedicated PvP’ers.

Blizzard also patched in a host of PvP improvements in 3.2:

  • Players could earn experience from battlegrounds (with NPCs that let you toggle off experience if you wanted to stay in a level bracket). For the first time in WoW‘s history, it was now possible to level purely through PvP.
  • Battlemasters became universal instead of specific to each battleground. Prior to the patch, every battleground had its own battlemaster and you had to talk to the one you wanted to queue for. (This in turn was an improvement over having to physically travel to the battleground out in the world to queue for it.)
  • The impossible to balance 2v2 arenas no longer rewarded the Gladiator title or rewards.
  • Strand of the Ancients randomized who started on the attacking side. Originally, the Alliance always attacked first, so they always had the opportunity to set the time for the next round.
  • Battlegrounds were streamlined to end faster. The time to capture objectives was reduced from 10 seconds to 8 seconds, Eye of the Storm’s winning total was reduced from 2000 to 1600, and Warsong Gulch received a new 20-minute time limit. Previously, Gulch games could go on indefinitely until one team reached three flag captures. Some players delighted in making the matches last as long as possible…

wolvar and gorloc orphans

Other stuff

  • The cast time for summoning a mount was cut in half from 3 seconds to 1.5 seconds. Imagine waiting 3 seconds every time you summon a mount. We did that for five years…
  • Cat Form and Bear Form models were updated. Blizzard added the different color combinations that you can access by changing your hair color in the barber shop. Notably, the Moonkin Form models weren’t included in this update.
  • This patch allowed the drakes to scale in both The Oculus and Eye of Eternity, which made these sequences a lot less painful.
  • As usual for Wrath patches, 3.2 included a long list of Death Knight changes. One notable change is that Unholy Blight was completely redesigned. It was originally similar to the spell we have today — a swarm of insects — but it dealt strong AOE damage. In this patch it was changed to a simple and far less exciting DOT damage bonus on Death Coil.
  • Rogues gained the ability to wield one-handed axes. Blizzard felt that one-handed axes needed another class who could wield them, and rogues won that particular lottery.
  • Shamans received their customizable totem bar allowing them to place four totems at once for a single GCD and combined mana cost. Previously, Shamans had to summon their totems one by one. They often used all four at a time, which they then had to resummon every time the group moved. With totems seeing diminished use these days, it may not seem like a big deal, but this was a gamechanger for Shamans at the time.
  • Warlocks gained the ability to cancel Banish. Before this patch, your Molten Core raid just had to sit there and wait for that elemental to become attackable again.
  • This patch added the shield to cast bars when the spell can’t be interrupted. Previously, you just had to know.
  • Wolvar and Gorloc orphans were added to Children’s Week.
  • Tons of new mailboxes were added to Stormwind, Undercity, Darnassus, and Orgrimmar (v1.0).
  • Val’anyr was buffed. Players who had completed the very long grind to obtain one found out that 25-player Trial of the Crusader weapons outclassed their brand new legendary. Much justified griping ensued, and Blizzard buffed the mace enough that it was used by many healers throughout the rest of the expansion.
thrall and garrosh in crusaders coliseum

Thrall and Garrosh looked very different in 2009.

3.2’s most random patch notes

Originally Posted by Blizzard

  • Mathiel in Darnassus has finally earned himself enough money from your repair bills that he was able to buy himself an anvil.
  • Druids who have not learned Track Humanoids will now retain the benefit of Dash while shifting out of and back into Cat Form.
  • Glyph of Corpse Explosion: This glyph will no longer cause the model on target dummies to change.
  • Noblegarden: Loot windows will no longer periodically close while the looting player is transformed into a rabbit.
  • Reins of the Warbear Matriarch: This vehicle will now leave bear footprints instead of barefoot footprints.

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