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What If We Lost: An argument for losing a major lore-based battle

Warning: This article does contain spoilers for the Argent Coliseum Raid. If you want to be surprised, skip this article!

There's a pretty long thread going on in the General Forums right now that makes an interesting request of the dev team: Let us lose. The argument goes that we've been sort of steamrolling our way through massive challenges and insurmountable odds pretty much the whole raid game, and it's just getting boring. Nothing feels like a threat anymore. We know we're going to defeat it and move on. We need to shake things up.

The more I think about it, the more I like it. Why not let us be on the losing side, at least for a few patches? The Lich King himself could use a bit of help in that vein, for sure. The early leveling game did manage to conjure up a few heart-stopping moments where Arthas "let us win," but when it was time to take that to the next level, it seems like Blizzard's sort of backed off and gone stale. Now, we're holding a Ren Faire on his front lawn while his scourge mostly mills around aimlessly and doesn't make more than a token attempt to do anything threatening.

There would be no quicker way to get him to burst back on the scene by having him or one of his lieutenants deal us a devastating blow, one which we will find it hard to recover from.

I've been saying for a while that Tirion may need to be taken down a notch. The Argent Crusade wouldn't have even made it this far into Icecrown if it wasn't for the Ebon Blade doing much of their dirty work, and this plan to defeat the Scourge by killing off all the weak Horde and Alliance in elaborately staged gladiator matches in an coliseum built by goblins out of salvaged and plundered stone and wood stolen from benevolent spirits is starting to look pretty silly.

All of this leads to a pretty stale atmosphere, unlike in, say, Patch 2.4, where the Isle of Quel'danas featured a strong, dedicated army of Blood Elves constantly besieging our base by air and ground, and urgent quests that all very clearly had something to do with weakening the forces of Kael'thas and the Burning Legion. We very desperately need something to shake the tournament up.

So what if, in Patch 3.2, the Anub'arak fight becomes a complete rout? I mean, it is certainly bad enough that the Coliseum was collapsed by a Scourge General and all, but let's take it one step further. Let us lose. Near the end of the battle, when Anub'Arak is near death, let him "gather permafrost" or something to strengthen his chitin and become invulnerable, then let him do some sort of mega web spray move that leaves everyone immobilized. Then he'll give a short speech about how we must give up and join the Scourge, that he's living proof that resistance is futile, and so on and so forth. Then, perhaps he'll say his work is done and leave, telling you to think about why you are fighting against such impossible odds. If you want to take some edge off, Tirion can come and drive him off with Ashbringer (though even in retreat, Anub'Arak will be gloating about that whole only delaying the inevitable thing).

From there, Jaina comes and teleport the raid up to the floor of the Arena again, where we find that everything is devastated. Bodies of Frost Wryms and Ghouls and Abominations lie strewn about, but the bodies of slain Horde and Alliance soldiers and Argent Crusade and Ebon Blade knights far outnumber those, and the Coliseum is beginning to crumble from the battle damage. Tirion offers us a chest of rewards, but it's already clear that's cold comfort for the damage done.

In the meantime, Varian, Garrosh, and Darion, all of whom have already taken at least some issue with Tirion's methods in Icecrown, will come up to offer their own opinions on the complete failure of the Argent Tournament, the loss of so many good soldiers of their respective factions, and the complete failure thus far of the offensive against the Lich King.

This opens up so much excitement and potential for future patches. The Alliance and Horde now have more fuel for infighting, since they have one more instance they can point to where "working together" only bought destruction. The Ebon Blade and the Argent Crusade will have tense relations as their disagreement on how to fight Arthas is suddenly thrown into sharp relief.

And above it all, Arthas himself looks calculating, sinister, and powerful again. He's actively thrown his enemies into disarray with some well placed mind games, having waited while they stagnated at the Argent Coliseum, then struck at the opportune moment with a foe they thought they had vanquished. He's made them confused and dismayed, inflaming the already barely controlled conflicts between them and softening them for the final blow.

Of course, the plot for Patch 3.2 is probably pretty finalized regardless, but I did want to sketch out how losing could create a sense of urgency and allow for so many interesting new paths for lore and story to follow. I think a lot of people get a secret thrill from being the underdog, and we've lost that feeling because of our nearly uninterrupted string of clear victories at the end game level. Let us lose so we can feel threatened, and thereby feel pumped up and ready for round 2.

Of course, by the same token, a constant string of losses and pyrrhic victories can get just as boring as winning all the time, and probably a bit more frustrating, but overall, I have to say, I'm ready to lose. And by lose, I mean, have our characters solidly lose a major storyline-based encounter against the primary enemy of the expansion, not just hear about a loss through second hand quest text. In the next expansion, let our enemies win, if only for a patch or two.

Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Instances, Raiding, Lore, Bosses, RP

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