Tag Archives: 3.1

The Argent Tournament Tourist Guide, Part III

Patch 3.1 brought the Argent Tournament, a new world event featuring mounted combat, new daily quests, new mounts, pets, tabards, and new and interesting ways to get reputation. Read on for a guide to the Argent Tournament!

Note that this is a couple of months late, by now! However, I know there are some folks out there who still haven’t started the Argent Tournament and have found the previous parts of my guide handy, plus I’m about to write the fourth part with a guide to the changes in Patch 3.2.

I’ll present this guide in three posts:

  • Part I: explains the scenario and the location, the side quests and the Aspirant stage of mounted combat.
  • Part II: covers the Valiant stage of the mounted combat event and questing.
  • Part III: covers the Champion stage of the questing, and where to go from there.

Approaching the Argent Tournament

Phase 5: Becoming a Champion

So! You’ve acquired your 25 Valiant’s Seals and you’re keen to qualify as a Champion of your faction? Read on!

Hand those 15 seals in to your faction’s Grand Champion, who will give you a new quest, The Valiant’s Challenge. This quest asks you to equip your lance, mount up and ride to the Argent Valiant’s Ring (location A on the map below).

Map of the Argent Tournament Grounds

When you’re there, speak to Squire Danny; he summons a Champion for you to fight.

This is basically a harder version of the trial to become a Valiant that you successfully completed 25 seals ago. The Champion you’re fighting will use all the same abilities the Valiants use, but he’ll be faster to put his Defense stacks up when you knock them off, he’s more likely to Charge and Shield-Breaker you, and it’s generally got less margin for error. However, it’s easily soloable if you can do the Valiant jousting with no problems, and if you do have difficulties you can get a friend to help you on foot. (Ranged DPS is better than melee, because the Champions run around so much.)

Once you’ve beaten the Argent Champion, return to your faction’s pavilion and hand in. Congratulations, you’re now a Champion! If you have Exalted reputation with your home city, you’ll also get the “Exalted Champion of…” achievement at the same time, and a shiny new title.

Phase 6: The Champion

Now that you’re a champion, you’ve got two paths to follow: doing the Champion-only dailies, and beginning to Champion another city.

In your faction’s tent, the other racial faction leaders will have quests; pick the next faction you wish to champion, and accept their quest. That will make you a valiant of that faction, as well as a champion of your first faction – for instance, if my home faction is Stormwind and I go to the Ironforge leader next, I’ll have access to all the Champion dailies, and the Stormwind vendor, and I’ll also be considered an Ironforge valiant and have access to their dailies.

The Champion dailies are given in the Argent Pavilion in the west of the grounds, and are as follows:

  • Taking Battle to the Enemy requires you to kill 15 Scourge in Icecrown, and can be done at the same time as the Valiant daily A Valiant’s Field Training for doubled-up quest credit.
  • Battle Before the Citadel is a mounted quest at Corp’rethar, and can be done at the same time as the Valiant daily At the Enemy’s Gates for doubled-up quest credit.
  • Threat From Above is a group quest to kill a frost wyrm near Aldur’thar; you can only get this quest after completing Crusader Rhydalla’s questline about the Black Knight.
  • Among the Champions is the Champion-level jousting quest.
  • Squire Artie in the Argent Pavilion also gives a daily quest to donate 10 gold in exchange for 100 Argent Crusade reputation; obviously this isn’t available to people with Exalted reputation.

Champion dailies pay gold, plus Champion’s Seals (the currency for Argent Tournament rewards), plus a choice of either a Writ or a Purse. The Writs can be turned in at the factional vendors for tokens that increase your racial city reputations; the Purses contain 10g and very occasionally an extra Champion’s Seal.

Threat From Above

This is a fairly straightforward group quest to kill the frostwyrm Chillmaw, who spawns around 43,32 in Icecrown. Throughout the fight Chillmaw spawns three Cultist Bombadiers, who are also required for quest completion.

This quest can be soloed by some classes, particularly those with self-healing abilities and/or pet tanks. However, on reasonably populous servers there’s a constant stream of “LFG TFA!” in Icecrown General chat, so there’s no reason to go it alone unless you’re trying to prove something to yourself.

The ickiest bit of the fight, other than competing with other groups to nab the spawn (which is mostly handled fairly courteously on my server, but not always), is in handling the bombadiers who spawn. They throw bombs on the ground which explode on a time delay, so if you stand in the one spot for too long and don’t watch your surrounds, you easily can be killed by a couple of explosions.

Among the Champions

This is the Champion-level jousting quest; look for the Ring of Champions at point E on the map above.

The Trial to become a champion is a good indication of the increased difficulty of the NPC champions, compared with the NPC valiants. They’re tuned more finely; they put shields up faster, they’re more aggressive, and they’re harder to shake to get Charge distance on. However, they’re still eminently beatable; if you have problems, just stick to the strategy I described in Part II of this guide series for the valiants, and you’ll come out on top (albeit slowly).

Rewards

Once you’re a Champion of one or more factions, you can buy rewards with the Champions Seals you receive from the daily quests (which, unlike the Aspirant and Valiant tokens, can be found on your Currency pane rather than in your bags).

At present, the following are available:

  • 5 mini pets, one per faction. 40 Seals each, and unlike all the other rewards, the pets are BoE:

    • Darnassus: Teldrassil Sproutling
    • Exodar: Ammen Vale Lashling
    • Gnomeregan: Mechanopeep
    • Ironforge: Dun Morogh Cub
    • Stormwind: Elwynn Lamb
    • The Horde equivalents are the Sen’jin Fetish, Tirisfal Batling, Enchanted Broom, Durotar Scorpion and Mulgore Hatchling.
  • 5 tabards, one per faction. 50 Seals each.
  • Ground mounts: 5 “cheap” mounts using old skins and 5 regular mounts using the current jousting mount skins. One cheap mount (5 Seals and 400g each) and one regular mount (100 seals each) per faction (listed as Cheap/Regular):
    • Darnassus: Swift Moonsaber/Darnassian Nightsaber
    • Exodar: Great Red Elekk/Exodar Elekk
    • Gnomeregan: Turbostrider/Gnomeregan Mechanostrider
    • Ironforge: Swift Violet Ram/Ironforge Ram
    • Stormwind: Swift Gray Steed/Stormwind Steed
    • The Horde equivalents are the Swift Purple Raptor/Darkspear Raptor, White Skeletal Warhorse/Forsaken Warhorse, Swift Red Hawkstrider/Silvermoon Hawkstrider, Swift Burgundy Wolf/Orgrimmar Wolf and Great Golden Kodo/Thunder Bluff Kodo.
  • 1 flying mount, available to Alliance and Horde: the Argent Hippogryph, for 150 Seals.
  • 5 banners, one per faction. 15 Seals each. Banners have no purpose other than to be placeable decorative items.
  • Epic weapons costing 25 Seals each, and Rare armor pieces costing 15 seals each. (These are all accessible as soon as you reach Champion with your first faction, although they have racial-specific names.)

Tier 8 Gear Sets – First Look

MMO-Champion has just posted information on the Tier 8 gear in the recent PTR patch (build 9704).

The sets:

First, let me say that the set does look better with a kilt than with pants, but I’m still pretty sad about the way this armor set turned out (compared with the awesomeness of the concept art, especially). This is one helm I won’t be showing, for fear of feeling like Thomas the Tank Engine.

Secondly, I’m disappointed: the Helm and Chest of the 25-man set are available on the Emblems of Conquest quartermaster, for 48 Emblems of Conquest each. However, logically the Emblems of Valor vendor should have two pieces of the 10-man set for Emblems of Valor, and they… don’t. Which makes it tough for people in 10-man teams who have poor luck with the RNG, or who pug and don’t get to rely on getting an equal shot at loot. I hope Blizzard will put the items on there.

That said, now let’s look at the stats.

For comparison’s sake:

  • 10-man Tier 7: 299 Stam, 309 Int, 35 mp5, 9105 Armor, 184 Crit, 181 Haste, 391 Spellpower, 1 meta socket, 3 red sockets, 2 yellow sockets, 2 blue sockets. (Socket bonuses total: 5 mp5, 12 Haste, 4 Crit)
  • 10-man Tier 8: 353 Stam, 363 Int, 74 mp5, 9432 Armor, 153 Crit, 214 Haste, 481 Spellpower, 1 meta socket, 2 red sockets, 1 yellow socket, 4 blue sockets. (Socket bonuses total: 28 Spellpower, 4 Haste)
  • Net effect of upgrading all 5 pieces: +54 Stam, +54 Int, +39 mp5, +327 Armor, -31 Crit, +23 Haste, +90 Spellpower, plus a change in gemming (if you socket for color).
  • 25-man Tier 7: 335 Stam, 345 Int, 40 mp5, 9335, 212 Crit, 203 Haste, 453 Spellpower, 1 meta socket, 3 red sockets, 2 yellow sockets, 2 blue sockets. (Socket bonuses total: 5 mp5, 12 Haste, 4 Crit)
  • 25-man Tier 8: 381 Stam, 386 Int, 79 mp5, 9538 Armor, 167 Crit, 249 Haste, 525 Spellpower, 1 meta socket, 2 red sockets, 1 yellow socket, 4 blue sockets. (Socket bonuses total: 28 Spellpower, 4 Haste)
  • Net effect of upgrading all 5 pieces: +46 Stam, +41 Int, +39 mp5, +203 Armor, -45 Crit, +46 Haste, +72 Spellpower, plus a change in gemming (if you socket for color).

It’s interesting to note that both armor sets nearly double their mp5 at the expense of Crit, and that the socket colors are an attempt to push people to socket more mp5 gems. I’ve never been more thankful to be a jewelcrafter, with my prismatic gems.

And the set bonus:

  • Paladin T8 Holy 2P Bonus — Your Holy Shock critical heals now also place a periodic healing effect on the target, healing for 15% of the Holy Shock’s heal amount over 9 sec.
  • Paladin T8 Holy 4P Bonus — Increases the damage absorbed by your Sacred Shield by 10%.

The 2P bonus sounds nice, but at 2k spellpower a crit Holy Shock lands for an average of ~6200, which means the HoT component only does 930 healing over a further 9 seconds, which is virtually insignificant.

The 4P bonus again sounds nice; at 2k spellpower your Sacred Shield will absorb 2200 damage instead of 2000 damage. (Sacred Shield absorbs 500 + 0.75*Spellpower.) Given that each Sacred Shield iteration will absorb that much, and it’ll trigger up to five times for one cast of the spell, this means you’re potentially gaining about 1000 damage absorption.

However, to be honest, both of these feel pretty underwhelming next to the Tier 7 set bonuses: 2pT7 is +10% crit to Holy Shock, 4pT7 is -5% cost to Holy Light. Unless I’m missing something, the T8 bonuses just aren’t in the same league.

And there’s a relic:

  • Paladin T8 Holy Relic — Increases spell power of Holy Light by 160.

This is available for 25 Emblems of Valor, on the EoV quartermaster in Dalaran. However, I don’t think it’s superior to the Libram of Renewalfor 40 Emblems of Heroism – especially not given that Ulduar is meant to be a more mana-stringent raid. Still, if you’ve got spare EoVs lying around, it could well be useful for fast-furious-spam-frenzy fights where mana conservation isn’t an issue.

The Argent Tournament Tourist Guide, Part II

Patch 3.1 brings the Argent Tournament, a new world event featuring mounted combat, new daily quests, new mounts, pets, tabards, and new and interesting ways to get reputation. Read on for a guide to the Argent Tournament!

I’ll present this guide in three posts:

  • Part I: explains the scenario and the location, the side quests and the Aspirant stage of mounted combat.
  • Part II: covers the Valiant stage of the mounted combat event and questing.
  • Part III: covers the Champion stage of the questing, and where to go from there.

Caveat: This guide is based on the quest chains in build 9658 (current as of March 13th 2009); the devs have been actively adjusting this event, so some details may be different when it goes live. I will keep it as up to date as I can, however!

Approaching the Argent Tournament

Phase 3: Becoming a Valiant

So! You’ve acquired your 15 Aspirant’s Seals and you’re keen to qualify as a Valiant of your faction? Read on!

Hand those 15 seals in to your faction’s leader – Arcanist Taelis for the Silver Covenant, Magister Edien Sunhollow for the Sunreavers – to complete Up to the Challenge. The leader will give you a new quest, The Aspirant’s Challenge. This quest asks you to equip your lance, mount up and ride to the Aspirant’s Ring (location B on the map below).

Map of the Argent Tournament Grounds

When you’re there, speak to Squire David; he summons a Valiant for you to fight. (Tip: he also offers a dialogue option – ‘How do the Argent Crusade riders fight?’. It’s worth a read for fight strategy.)

Be warned: this fight is not easy. You need a good grasp of your mount’s abilities and decent decision-making on the fly about what to use when. In a way, it’s like very slow-paced PvP (only with a character whose abilities you’re barely familiar with).

That said, it’s not necessarily hard, either: it’s just not a straightforward ‘easy win’ like most PvE quests. If you fail, you can keep calling for an opponent until you win, so you don’t have to spend another three days getting more seals to try again.

Tips for fighting the Valiant:

  • Have your Defend at three stacks before you start the fight, and keep it up during the fight as he Charges or Shield-Breakers you.
  • Rather than messing about with manoeuvering, let the Valiant be the one to get range – periodically he’ll back off; be ready to Charge him as soon as he’s at range. This is essential, else he’ll Charge you instead. Make sure if he’s backing off you keep your GCD clear; don’t try and be clever and throw a Shield-Breaker, you won’t have time.
  • Once you’ve charged him, wheel around for some melee Thrusts, and while you’re wheeling throw a Shield-Breaker or two to keep his Defend stacks down.
  • Repeat until win!
  • At present, you can be assisted on this challenge by a friend who attacks the Valiant once you’ve engaged. This may be disabled once it goes live, if Blizzard want this to be a truly solo affair. If it remains an option, it’s best if your friend keeps at range and uses Shield-Breaker and Charge repeatedly to keep the Valiant’s Defend stacks at nil. The Valiant will consistently attack you, so your assistant will have a much better chance to keep at range than you will.

Note: apparently this fight has yet to be tuned, and may change in difficulty.

(Edit: Note that this quest has been tuned, downwards in difficulty. It’s still not a walk in the park, until you get the knack of fighting the Valiants, but it’s easier than I described. You can have a friend assist you, but only on foot; they can’t co-joust, but they can attack with special attacks and spells, although threat will be an issue.)

Once you’ve beaten the Valiant, return to your faction’s leader and hand in the quest. You’ll be offered the quest A Valiant of [City], depending on your character’s racial home. This quest sends you to talk to the leader of your city’s delegation, who’ll enter you into the tournament on your city’s behalf.

Go and talk to your city delegation, who are based in the same pavilion. Congratulations! You’re a Valiant!

Phase 4: The Valiant

Each city has four NPCs in its delegation: a Grand Champion, a Master of Arms, and a Master of Horses (or Rams, Nightsabers, Chocobos, et cetera), who all give quests, and a Quartermaster who sells items purchasable with Champion’s Seals.

The Grand Champion gives you The Valiant’s Charge, which is the quest to acquire 25 Valiant’s Seals and pass the test for Champion rank. He or she also gives you one of A Blade Fit For A Champion, A Worthy Weapon, or The Edge of Winter; these are the same dailies you did as an Aspirant, although they now reward 2 Valiant’s Seals instead of 2 Aspirant’s Seals.

The Master of Arms offers you the daily A Valiant’s Field Training to kill Scourge in Icecrown, which rewards 1 Valiant’s Seal. The Master of Horses/Rams/Whatever offers two dailies: At the Enemy’s Gates (worth 1 Valiant’s Seal) and The Grand Melee (worth 1 Valiant’s Seal).

At the Enemy’s Gates

This quest sends you to the Argent Crusade forward camp at Corp’rethar, where there’s a Stabled Campaign Warhorse for you to mount. This mount has the same four basic abilities as the Tournament mounts; it lacks a heal of any type, and a duel ability.

Approaching the Argent Tournament

My thanks to Quirell of Gnomeregan, who was a very friendly and informative questing buddy when I was learning about this area.

Near the camp, there are formations of Scourge Boneguard forces; these are elite undead mobs that interact with your mount’s abilities in various ways. This area is also the focus of a similar, harder daily at the Champion level.

  • Boneguard Scouts

    These are flying gargoyle mobs; their spell attacks strip away Defend stacks. Kill them with ranged Shield-Breaker attacks; it should take two hits to kill one.

  • Boneguard Footmen

    These are skeletal soldiers; they’re grist for the mill. Run over them on your mount and they die, literally.

  • Boneguard Lieutenants

    These are mounted fighters. They’re vulnerable to melee attacks; they do use Defend, but they don’t reapply it. Just use your Thrust to beat them down.

  • Boneguard Plague Wagons

    These are vulnerable to Charges; a single Charge will take off half its health. Use Shield-Breaker to get the wagon down to half health or below – it won’t retaliate or attack you – and then Charge it to finish it off. (Wheel very sharply after your charge or you’ll probably wind up in the middle of a lot of nasty mobs, and then it’s off to the glue factory for you and your horse.) (Edit: Note that these are no longer reqired for the quest.)

  • Boneguard Commanders

    These are the nastiest of the lot. They’re needed for the Champion daily, but not the Valiant version – but there’s a Commander in each formation, so you’ll have to avoid him where possible. (He’s way too much of a pain to kill if you don’t have to, so don’t aggro him.)

The Grand Melee

This is the other significantly new daily, compared with the Aspirant’s dailies, and requires you to mount up and challenge and defeat three Valiants. You need to do this in your faction’s Valiants’ Ring – C or D on the map above.

You can challenge Valiants from each city, and they use different strategies depending on their race.

  • Draenei: run slowly. Don’t melee them; kite with Shield-Breaker with occasional Charges.
  • Dwarves: try and burn their defense down as quick as possible, then get in a Thrust before they reapply Defend. Slow and tedious.
  • Gnomes: are fairly balanced, much like the Valiant you fight to be promoted from Aspirant. Keep Defend up, stay in melee range, use occasional range to throw Shield-Breaker.
  • Humans: have an anti-Charge ability, but are ‘unbalanced’ by Shield-Breaker. Throw a Shield-Breaker to unbalance them, then Charge before they get back to normal. Otherwise, stay close.
  • Night Elves: stay in melee to stop them using their superpowered Shield-Breaker. Keep Defenses up and Thrust them down.

Note that Horde has equivalents of each of these, but I’m not sure on the pairings yet. Also, for Alliance, there’s a good write-up of the differences at this WoWwiki page.

Edit: Note that none of the above applies any longer; all the NPC valiants have the same racial abilities. The simplest strategy is to stay in melee and Thrust the enemies to death; when they move away to get range, throw a Shield-Breaker to knock off a Defend charge and then run up to them so they can’t Shield-Breaker or Charge you. If you feel daring, Charge them instead of Shield-Breaker, then throw a Shield-Breaker when you’re wheeling around and closing again after the Charge. This is faster, but riskier.)

Each faction only has 2 Valiants; if both are on the field, it seems that you have to wait for them to win or loseWeight Exercise before you can challenge them. I foresee a lot of people helping each other to get the matches over faster, to free up the popular Valiant types faster.

It may be the case that you can only beat one of each type of Valiant each day, to stop you finding a single strategy and working it to death; however, this behaves inconsistently at the moment on the PTR, so it’s hard to tell. (Edit: It’s one an hour; you get an hour-long city-specific debuff after defeating each Valiant.)

My Impressions

This stuff is hard. Veteran PvPers and kiters will be fine, but for the average player used to zapping their way through quests with ease, it’ll be a nasty shock – and I can see a lot of people giving up because it’s too hard to be fun. (Let’s face it, it’s not often – in standard WoW gameplay – that you fail a quest if you’re not doing things like pulling an entire camp at once.)

That said, I’ve heard that this content has yet to be tuned, and right now the Valiants might just be harder than Blizzard wants. If not, though, you can expect co-operation to be the order of the day, because most people just won’t want to spend hours failing on solo content.

My feelings are mixed. On the one hand, I like the mechanics, the level of detail, the setting, the concept. On the other hand, this is the kind of content I’m not particularly good at – twitchy, highly-mobile, PvP-like stuff reliant on positional advantage and excellent skill use. On a personal level, I’ll doubtless play the Argent Tournament content, but if it takes as long as I expect to get decent at the combat, I’m honestly not sure how much I’ll enjoy it.

More Paladin Changes in 3.1 – Build 9684

Things are changing pretty fast for paladins at the moment. This is nothing like the huge revamp in 3.0.2, but there’s a lot to adjust to anyway.

From MMO-Champion, an update to the official patch notes and a list of undocumented changes.

General

  • Divine Plea can once again be dispelled.
  • Exorcism: Now can be used on any target and has a 100% chance to be a critical strike when used on Undead and Demons.
  • Shield of Righteousness: Base damage and scaling factor increased by 30%.
  • Spiritual Attunement: Removed from trainers. It is now available deep in the Protection tree for 2 ranks at 5/10%.

Divine Plea being dispellable is a PvP issue; I have some reservations about this, but until there’s strong PvP on the test servers it’s hard to judge the impact. (That said, it feels like something of a bait-and-switch, since Divine Plea was made undispellable when they nerfed it to reduce healing by 50%.)

The Exorcism change is a nice one; it helps normalise paladin damage, and gives Holy paladins in particular a bit more oomph in solo content. The Shield of Righteousness change is a straight buff, so woot for that.

The Spiritual Attunement change, on the other hand, is extremely disappointing. Now you will have to be Protection to tank anything; no more tanking as Holy in Prot gear. I can understand why they didn’t want non-tanking paladins to have access to Spiritual Attunement, to help control our mana, but it really detracts from our nature as a hybrid if we have to spec Prot to tank anything. Rohan over at Blessing of Kings has an excellent post on the issue: Will the Last Hybrid Paladin Please Turn Off the Lights? which includes a couple of much more elegant ways of restricting access to Spiritual Attunement.

Holy Talents, Patch 9684Holy

  • Judgements of the Pure was moved from Tier 10 to Tier 9.
  • Sacred Cleansing was moved from Tier 9 to Tier 8.
  • Enlightened Judgements was moved from Tier 9 to Tier 10.
  • Infusion of Light was moved from Tier 8 to Tier 10.
  • Aura Mastery now causes your Concentration Aura to make all affected targets immune to Silence and Interrupt effects and improve the effect of all other auras by 100%.
  • Blessed Hands: Now reduces mana cost of Hand of Freedom, Sacrifice and Salvation by 15/30%, and improves the effectiveness of Hand of Salvation by 50/100% and Hand of Sacrifice by an additional 5/10%. Moved to Tier 4.
  • Pure of Heart: Now reduces duration of all curse, disease, and poison effects by 15/30%.
  • Purifying Power: Now reduces the cooldowns of Exorcism and Holy Wrath by 17/33% instead of increasing critical strike chance.

The talent shifts are a little confusing to read like that; click the image on the right to see how the tree actually looks. (Please ignore the slightly dodgy spec; I was just picking up Aura Mastery to test it out.) For the classic 51-point PvE builds, it’s still perfectly straightforward to get all the abilities you need.

The Blessed Hands change is a nice buff; it previously reduced mana cost and increased dispel resistance for all hands. It’s worth noting that the new version provides no benefit for Hand of Protection, but the other changes are useful both for PvP and PvE. It’s actually a viable alternative to Imp BoWis or Imp Lay on Hands now.

Protection

  • Greater Blessing of Sanctuary now gives the target 2% of maximum displayed mana when the target blocks, parries, or dodges a melee attack.
  • Guarded by the Light got an additional effect – In addition, your Divine Plea spell is 50/100% less likely to be dispelled.
  • Ardent Defender: Reduced to 3 ranks for 10/20/30%.
  • Avenger’s Shield: Base damage and scaling factor increased by 30%.
  • Blessing of Sanctuary: Now only grants mana on dodge/parry/block. In addition, will only grant mana if that is the active power type of the friendly target (Bears and Cats won’t gain mana).
  • Improved Hammer of Justice: Reduced to 2 ranks for 10/20-second cooldown reduction.
  • Holy Shield: Base damage and scaling factor increased by 30%.
  • Judgements of the Just: Now also reduces the cooldown of Hammer of Justice by 10/20 seconds, and increases the duration of the Seal of Justice stun effect by .5/1 second.
  • One-Handed Weapon Specialization: Reduced to 3 ranks for 4/7/10%.
  • Shield of the Templar: No longer increases the damage done by Holy Shield, Avenger’s Shield, and Shield of Righteousness. Now grants 33/66/100% chance to silence your Avenger’s Shield targets for 3 seconds.

From a healer perspective, most of these changes won’t make a significant difference. The change to Imp Hammer of Justice will affect 51/20 PvP specs slightly, but that’s about it.

From a tank’s perspective, I don’t have current enough knowledge of Protection to talk intelligently about these changes, unfortunately. Clearly I need to spec Prot for a week and go Heroic my face off!

Retribution

  • Sanctified Seals was renamed to Sanctity of Battle, now Increases your chance to critically hit with all spells and attacks by 1/2/3% and increases the damage caused by Exorcism and Crusader Strike by 5/10/15%.
  • Divine Purpose: Moved to Improved Retribution Aura’s position.
  • Improved Retribution Aura: This talent has been removed.
  • Swift Retribution: Now grants its haste bonus while any aura is active.

None of these changes significantly impact Holy; they’re a step towards slimming Ret down (although I didn’t think Ret was particularly bloated in the first place, to be honest).

Of note, I’d seen some concern about Sanctity of Battle no longer adding to healing spell crit. I’ve checked on the PTR and it does still affect spell crit, and the crit part of the talent is worded exactly the same as Sanctified Seals, so this appears to be intentional.

The Argent Tournament Tourist Guide, Part I

Patch 3.1 brings the Argent Tournament, a new world event featuring mounted combat, new daily quests, new mounts, pets, tabards, and new and interesting ways to get reputation. Read on for a guide to the Argent Tournament!

I’ll present this guide in three posts:

  • Part I: explains the scenario and the location, the side quests and the Aspirant stage of mounted combat.
  • Part II: covers the Valiant stage of the mounted combat event and questing.
  • Part III: covers the Champion stage of the questing, and where to go from there.

Caveat: This guide is based on the quest chains in build 9658 (current as of March 13th 2009); the devs have been actively adjusting this event, so some details may be different when it goes live. I will keep it as up to date as I can, however!

I’ve edited some details in of the Argent Tournament on the live servers; some details may still be old, but the bulk is current.

Approaching the Argent Tournament

The Argent Tournament is located in Icecrown, in the north-east of the zone, north of Sindragosa’s Fall. The site is home to inns, mailboxes, a flightmaster, profession trainers for every tradeskill, and a host of questgivers.

The whole area is marked as a Sanctuary – like Dalaran or Shattrath. (Currently the opposite faction’s pavilion guards are attackable, but that should change before it goes live. If it’s not fixed, be careful – if you attack them, they’ll flag you, net you, and own you in the face.) (Edit: This is now fixed.)

Approaching the Argent TournamentThere are storyline quests in the area, and dailies with pure cash rewards, but what sets the Argent Tournament apart is the new system of mounted combat with a quasi-feudal rank structure associated with it.

When you begin working on the mounted combat quests, you’re called an Aspirant of your race’s faction – a Stormwind Aspirant, Orgrimmar Aspirant, et cetera. You earn Aspirant’s Seals from the quests you’re offered at this level. Once you’ve completed enough tasks as an Aspirant (i.e. accrued 15 Aspirant’s Seals), you can pass a test to become a Valiant of your race, and further, more complex tasks open up. These earn Valiant’s Seals. Once you’ve completed Valiant training (i.e. accrued 25 Valiant’s Seals), you can take the challenge to become a Champion of your race; if you’re as fast as possible you can go from Aspirant to Champion in ten days.

At this point you can earn Champion’s Seals to buy rewards like tabards, pets and mounts (as well as epic weapons and rare-quality armor). Champions can also work on becoming Valiants for other races of their faction – a troll Champion could then become a Valiant of, say, Silvermoon, and work up to Champion status with Silvermoon as well. (However, you can only be a Champion of one city at a time.) You can buy a mount, pet, tabard and banner from whichever race you’re currently Championing, so if you want all the rewards you’ll need to work your way through all your faction’s races. (Edit: Note that you don’t loseWeight Exercise Champion status once you’ve got it, so once you’ve earned Champion with one city, you can always access their vendor and purchase rewards from them, regardless of who you’re working on Championing.)

(A note on banners: no-one seems to know what they do yet. Carry on.) (Edit: Still no idea!)

Faction Rewards

  • The Black Knight questline gives Argent Crusade reputation.
  • The mounted combat quests give Silver Covenant reputation for Alliance and Sunreaver reputation for Horde.

Achievements

There are a number of new achievements introduced for the Argent Tournament.

  • Tilted!: Defeat another player in a mounted duel at the Argent Tournament.
  • It’s Just a Flesh Wound: Unmask and defeat the Black Knight at the Argent Tournament.
  • Argent Aspiration: Train to compete in the Argent Tournament by becoming an Aspirant for your race’s faction.
  • Argent Valor: Train to compete in the Argent Tournament by becoming a Valiant for your race’s faction.
  • Champion of Darnassus: Earn the right to represent Darnassus in the Argent Tournament.
  • Exalted Champion of Darnassus: Earn Exalted status with and the right to represent Darnassus in the Argent Tournament.
  • Champion of Exodar: Earn the right to represent Exodar in the Argent Tournament.
  • Exalted Champion of Exodar : Earn Exalted status with and the right to represent Exodar in the Argent Tournament.
  • Champion of Gnomeregan: Earn the right to represent Gnomeregan in the Argent Tournament.
  • Exalted Champion of Gnomeregan: Earn Exalted status with and the right to represent Gnomeregan in the Argent Tournament.
  • Champion of Darnassus: Earn the right to represent Darnassus in the Argent Tournament.
  • Exalted Champion of Ironforge: Earn Exalted status with and the right to represent Ironforge in the Argent Tournament.
  • Champion of Ironforge : Earn the right to represent Ironforge in the Argent Tournament.
  • Exalted Champion of Stormwind: Earn Exalted status with and the right to represent Stormwind in the Argent Tournament.
  • Champion of the Alliance: Earn the right to represent every Alliance race’s faction in the Argent Tournament.
  • Exalted Champion of the Alliance: Earn Exalted status with and the right to represent every Alliance race’s faction in the Argent Tournament.

There are, of course, equivalent Horde achievements.

And, of course, there are five new mini-pets available (for Alliance: the Teldrassil Sproutling Ammen Vale Lashling, Mechanopeep, Dun Morogh Cub, and Elwynn Lamb) which will make Lil’ Game Hunter (collect 75 mini-pets) much easier. Similarly, there are six new mounts (for Alliance: Swift Darnassian Mistsaber, Great Azuremyst Elekk, Turbostrider, Swift Ironforge Ram, and Swift Elwynn Steed; plus the Argent Hippogryph for all factions) which will make Mountain o’ Mounts slightly less impossible. The mounts and the pets are all purchased with Champion’s Seals. (Edit: Of course, there are also equivalent Horde mounts and pets too.)

Phase 1: Introduction

The layout below shows the location of important places and NPCs.

Approaching the Argent Tournament

When you enter, you want to head to the Argent Pavilion first, where you’ll speak to Justicar Mariel Trueheart. She’ll give you a link quest to speak to an NPC in the Silver Covenant Pavilion (if you’re Alliance) or Sunreaver Pavilion (if you’re Horde). She also gives you a link quest to talk to the Blastbolt brothers, goblins who give daily quests.

So, head to your faction’s pavilion and talk to the main questgiver. For Alliance, it’s Arcanist Taelis; for Horde it’s … well, I can’t tell you, because you get teleported out of the opposing-faction’s pavilion if you try and enter. So I’ll be looking at the Alliance-side quests, but the Horde side should be equivalent.

Neutral Quests

The Blastbolt brothers (who are at location 1 on the map above) offer you two dailies: A Chip Off the Ulduar Block and Jack Me Some Lumber. The former sends you to the Storm Peaks and the latter sends you to Crystalsong Forest; both ask you to gather resources to help build the new coliseum. These are straightforward dailies with a simple cash reward. (Edit: Despite their wording, they’re not required to ‘open up’ the coliseum, a la the Isle of Quel’Danas. They’re flavour only.)

Once you’ve seen your faction’s questgivers for the first time, a new quest opens up back at the Argent Pavilion. Crusader Rhydalla gives you The Black Knight of Westfall? which sends you to Moonbrook (the Horde version is The Black Knight of Silverpine?; I bet you can guess where that sends you). There’s a quest chain following it up, investigating the mystery of the Black Knight and culminating in a showdown. (Edit: Note that you can’t do the last stages of this showdown until you’re a Champion.)

Phase 2: The Aspirant

In the Silver Covenant Pavilion, Arcanist Taelis gives you the Mastery of Melee quest. Near Arcanist Taelis there’s Avareth Swiftstrike and Scout Shalyndria, who give you Mastery of the Charge and Mastery of the Shield-Bearer respectively.

Each of these three quests require you to equip a lance, mount a steed outside the pavilion, talk to an NPC near the Aspirants’ Ring (see ‘B’ on the map above) and go attack one of the melee targets using one of your special mounted abilities – Thrust, Charge and Shield-Breaker respectively. These quests will show you how to use the mounts and their abilities.

Once you’ve completed these three quests, Arcanist Taelis offers you one of three dailies: A Blade Fit For A Champion, A Worthy Weapon, or The Edge of Winter; Avareth Swiftstrike offers you Training in the Field (a daily), and Scout Shalyndria offers you Learning the Reins (also a daily). Between them they offer 5 Aspirant’s Seals.

Taelis also offers Up to the Challenge; once you’ve acquired 15 Aspirant’s Seals from the other quests, you can turn them in for this quest to take the Aspirant’s Challenge, which tests your mounted combat prowess. Success means you’re promoted to join your race’s city delegation as a Valiant. (Note that at the moment, Aspirant’s Seals take up an inventory slot rather than being added to your Currency window.)

Note that completing Learning the Reins (and in fact mounting up on a combat mount at any time) requires you to equip a lance; you can pick one up from the lance rack near the exit of your faction’s pavilion if you don’t have one in your bags. The lance uses your weapon slot and can be wielded one-handed; unlike WotLK fishing poles, it does not make a good substitute weapon. ;)

Mount Abilities

Your mount bar has six abilities on it:

  1. Thrust – a melee attack (6 yard range, 2 sec cooldown) that inflicts 3250 damage.
  2. Shield-Breaker – a ranged attack (5-30 yard range, 2 sec cooldown) that inflicts 2000 and reduces the opponent’s defenses.
  3. Charge – a charge (8-25 yard range, 6 sec cooldown) that inflicts 8500 damage and reduces the opponent’s defense.
  4. Defend – a defensive ability (self-cast, 4 sec cooldown) that reduces damage taken by 30%, and can be stacked up to three times. One charge of Defend is removed by an opponent’s Shield-Breaker or Charge.
  5. Refresh Mount – heals your mount to full health (self-cast, 1 min cooldown), can only be used out of combat.
  6. Duel – challenges another combatant to a duel.

The green “bottle” on the left of the mount bar is your mount’s health meter. The black bottle on the right is … apparently nothing, perhaps decorative (or not yet implemented).

(Unfortunately, the Aspirant-level mount is not what you’d call speedy.)

My Impressions

The mounted combat is fun and well-implemented; I haven’t encountered any bugs yet. The Aspirant quests are excellent when it comes to explaining new abilities and teaching you how to use them.

If anything, at this stage of play the Tournament’s biggest flaw is a lack of content. There are only a few repeatable quests, and it takes four days to reach Valiant status. I’m finding the experience and environment fun enough that I wish there were more quests to do – not necessarily to get to Valiant faster, but just so that I don’t have to run out of fun things to do.

Paladin PTR News – Holy & Protection Changes

Here’s a quick roundup of the latest changes from the PTR. I don’t normally post ongoing changes, unless there’s something big for holy paladins, but this time around the news sources are overwhelmed with Ulduar data and the class changes are getting a lot less press. So here we go. (The source: MMO-Champion.)

The usual caveat: all of this is subject to change before 3.1 goes live. If you watched the progress of class changes in the WotLK beta, you’ll know just how much something can change during the testing process.

This is from Build 9658 of the 3.1 PTR.

General

  • All paladins auras had their range extended from 30 yards to 40 yards.

Thank God. Along with Blessing of Kings being baseline, this is one change where we can all say “It’s about time”. On the other hand, now Holy needs an 11-point talent.

Holy

  • Sacred Shield now cannot be on more than one target at any one time.

This change was implemented because Sacred Shield was doing “too much” damage prevention in Ulduar.

  • Infusion of Light no longer has a chance to reduce the casting time of Holy Light, but increases the the critical chance of your next Holy Light by 10/20% instead.

No word on why this change was made, but I’m hoping it doesn’t stick, personally.

Protection

  • Hand of Sacrifice now lasts 12 sec or until the caster has transfered 100% of their maximum health.

A PvP limitation; I don’t think HoS gets used as much as it should in PvE content anyway.

  • Targets affected by Divine Shield, Hand of Protection or Divine Protection can no longer be affected by any of these spell for 2 minutes. (Down from 3 minutes)

A nice change. Not unbalancing, I think, just making life a bit easier.

  • Divine Sacrifice *New Talent* (Tier 3) – 30% of all damage taken by party or raid members within 30 yards is redirected to the Paladin (up to a maximum of 150% of the Paladin’s health). Instant, 2 min cooldown.

Well, protection paladins finally got their 11-point talent. You can see some of their discussions in this Maintankadin thread.

Also, this isn’t a paladin change, but it’s something you need to know about anyway if you do any PvP:

Arms Warrior

  • Shattering Throw *New Skill* – Throws your weapon at the enemy causing [ 50% of AP + 12 ] damage (based on attack power), reducing the armor on the target by 20% for 10 sec, and removing any invulnerabilities. 25 Rage, 30 yd range, 1.5 sec cast, 5 min cooldown

Just like a priest’s Mass Dispel, that’s bye-bye bubble. Be wary of warriors wielding only one weapon!

Source: MMO-Champion.

Hodir testing on the PTR, with video

Herein, a first look at Hodir, one of the bosses of Ulduar!

I knew I wasn’t going to be able to try this with my guild, as the limited testing times are restricted to American and European prime-time hours, so I had a chat to my esteemed blogging colleague Matt, of World of Matticus, and mentioned that I’d love to help test Ulduar on the PTR with him.

Edit: Check out Matt’s rundown of the experience!

Well, Matt set up <Years Behind> on Broxigar, and – apart from constant world server failures, lag, UI problems and all the other symptoms of a test server – away we went!

Here’s a video of one attempt; sadly we didn’t get much testing time, as we spent an hour or so fighting constant disconnects and insane lag, but it was enough to get an idea of the encounter and what’s involved.

(You can view the video here on YouTube for a higher-quality copy; I’ll replace this with a better link and embed once I’ve sorted out better video hosting.)

3.1 Paladin Info: New Glyphs and New Gear!

The deluge of information from the 3.1 PTR has begun!

Paladin Glyph Changes and Additions

  • Glyph of Exorcism — Increases damage done by Exorcism by 20%. (Old: Your Exorcism also interrupts spellcasting for 2 sec.)
  • Glyph of Divinity — Your Lay on Hands grants twice as much mana as normal and also grants you as much mana as it grants your target. (Old: Your Lay on Hands also grants you as much mana as it grants your target.)
  • Glyph of Lay on Hands — Reduces the cooldown of your Lay on Hands spell by 5 min.(Old: Increases the mana restored by your Lay on Hands spell by 20%)
  • Glyph of Beacon of Light *new* — Increases the duration of Beacon of Light by 30 sec.
  • Glyph of Hammer of the Righteous *new* — Your Hammer of the Righteous hits 1 additional target.
  • Glyph of Divine Storm *new* — Your Divine Storm now heals for an additional 15% of the damage it causes.
  • Glyph of Shield of Righteousness *new* — Reduces the mana cost of Shield of Righteousness by 1 to 6%.
  • Glyph of Divine Plea *new* — While Divine Plea is active, you take 3% reduced damage from all sources.
  • Glyph of Holy Shock *new* — Reduces the cooldown of Holy Shock by 1 sec.
  • Glyph of Hand of Salvation *new* — When you cast Hand of Salvation on yourself, it also reduces damage taken by 20%.

There are some mighty interesting glyphs there. I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to run with, personally; I’ll wait to make any decisions until a) it’s closer to release, and b) I see what Ulduar’s like. Still, some food for thought here! (I particularly like the buff to the Lay on Hands glyphs; they’ll make a great one-two punch as a Minor/Major combo.)

New Craftable Gear

Blacksmithing offers:

  • the Plate Girdle of Righteousness (49 Stam, 62 Int, 81 spellpower, 40 haste, 22 mp5, red & blue sockets with a +7 spellpower socket bonus)
  • the Treads of Destiny (73 Stam, 62 Int, 81 spellpower, 49 haste, 19 m5, red & blue sockets with a +7 spellpower socket bonus)

I need to do more than hasty napkin math, but these items look to be to be inferior to what I consider current best-in-slot – Waistguard of Divine Grace and Poignant Sabatons, both from Naxx-25, so I wouldn’t bother saving mats for them if you’re doing 25-man raids.

OMG Legendary!

For the first time ever, it looks like there’s a legendary that’s usable by – and of interest to – us healing paladins!

The Fragments of Val’anyr are like the old shards of Atiesh from level 60 Naxxramas; gather 40 to form the weapon.

Needless to say, this is going to be heavily sought-after, I imagine.

3.1 Patch Notes: Respec Time!

The 3.1 patch notes are out, and you can read them here on MMO-Champion. I’m not going to reprint them in their entirety, but! There are a couple of things of interest to holy paladins in particular.

Paladin

  • Auras will now persist through death.
  • Blessing of Kings is now trainable at level 20. Removed from talent trees.
  • Talents
    • Protection

      • New Talent Divinity:Tier 1 protection talent, increases healing done by and to you by 1/2/3/4/5%.
      • Sacred Duty (Protection) rank 1 now increases Stamina by 4%.
    • Retribution
      • Benediction (Retribution) now affects Hand of Reckoning.
      • Fanaticism reduced to 3 ranks for 6/12/18% bonus and 10/20/30% threat reduction.
      • Repentance no longer resets the Paladin’s melee swing timer.
      • Righteous Vengeance reduced to 3 ranks for 10/20/30%.

Well, isn’t that interesting? That Tier 1 talent, Divinity, looks like a must-have for holy paladins – why wouldn’t you want an extra 5% healing done? For paladins who’d previously taken Kings, it’s an easy switch – for the rest of us, it means giving up a delicious 3% crit from the Retribution tree. Goodbye, Sanctified Seals – I’ll miss you!

Also of particular interest to Holy paladins:

  • Glyph of Holy Light: Can no longer crit and has had its range updated.

Obviously, it’s early days yet, and this is all subject to change anyway; I will, of course, keep you all informed.

Argent Tournament: New World Event in 3.1

There’s not much news about it yet, but there will be a new world event during the early days of patch 3.1.

This blue post has the details:

In patch 3.1, a new world event titled “The Argent Tournament” will be coming to Northrend! This tournament will be live on the 3.1 PTR and open for testing, though certain aspects are still in development. Players will find a host of new features here, including:

  • The ability to prove your worth to a capital city of your choosing through our new mounted combat system (still in development)
  • New daily quests to construct the great Argent Crusade coliseum for glorious battles to come
  • All new rewards – new items, titles, banners, tabards, pets, mounts, and more
  • All new achievements
  • Many more festivities, and more to come in future content updates!

Players will find the Argent Tournament in Icecrown. Speaking to any Northrend flight master will get you on track to prove your worth to the Argent Crusade, your faction’s leaders, and all denizens of Azeroth!

I’m not sure, from this, whether they actually mean World Event (a la the Shattered Sun takeover of the Isle of Quel’Danas) or Seasonal Event (a la the Darkmoon Faire). Either way, it does sound like fun, and I’m looking forward to it.

I am, however, a trifle disappointed that it’s focusing around the Argent Crusade; I’d have hoped for a new faction or sub-faction (perhaps the Brotherhood of the Light, who previously acted as the diplomats between the Argent Dawn and the Scarlet Crusade) since increasing reputation in WotLK is so easy.

Update: Having thought about it a bit more, I suspect 3.1 will have the world event introducing the Tournament and building the coliseum, and future patches will actually put the coliseum to greater use.

However I must admit: I think it’s a bit weird for the Argent Crusade to be building arenas and having tournaments; isn’t that something of a distraction from the business of fighting a war? It seems rather out of character for them, I feel.