So it’s been a couple of months and except for a couple of weeks, I’ve pretty much made sure to log on every day and schlep on over to the Argent Tournament in order to do the dailies, gather up some rep and make about 150 gold in the process. The whole thing takes approximately one hour to complete, give or take a few minutes. However, there is one part in particular that can rankle the average WoW player. A dark and hideous part that used to slow me down, causing no end of cursing, throwing my arms up in consideration and pondering at the necessity of this beloved game of mine. I speak, of course, on jousting.
Now jousting is a new mechanic, introduced in 3.1 along with the Argent Tournament and is a form of mounted, vehicular combat. When you first enter the tournament, you’ll be given a lance that you must equip and told to go take a ride. When you right click on the animal you choose, you basically get into a mount shaped vehicle, complete with a vehicle bar and separate health for the vehicle you’re in. You’ll gain six new abilities on this bar, a basic melee attack, a shield breaking ranged attack, a charge attack, a shield ability, health regen ability and the option to challenge others to a duel, all in that order on the bar.
Your health regen ability heals your mount back to full, but can only be used out of combat and has, I believe, a 1 minute cooldown, so it’s fairly straight forward and useless in a fight. Your other defensive ability is your shield which stacks up to three times. This should always be at full stacks before you start a fight, no exceptions. The Melee attack is just that, a straight thrust dealing damage and it’s not very strong. The shield breaker and charge are your two ranged attacks and possibly the most important. A shield breaker is a thrown spear that will destroy one of your opponent’s shields and charge is where you gain a speed boost, charge your enemy and deal a big chunk of damage.
Now the secret to jousting is that it’s a game of finding your range. You must find the range of your shield breaking ability while at the same time keeping your opponent from finding theirs. Your charge is roughly the same range as well, but you’ll be using that a lot less often. When a match begins, depending your opponent, you’ll have to deal with either breaking down two or three shield walls. Your charge is extremely ineffectual unless your opponent has one or less shields, so you’ll want to start working with shield breakers first and worry about charging later.
One of the tricks to this is that you have to begin darting in and out of range quickly. I prefer to do this by turning and running from the opponent, stopping once I enter range for the shield breaker, toss the spear, then dart back in to do some melee thrusts before repeating the process. Something I learned only after a couple of painful weeks of jousting was that you must come to a complete stop and about-face your mount as quickly as possible before you toss the spear. If you continue to run when you turn around, your mount will loop around, causing you to lose positioning, time and possibly shields as you opponent has time to toss a shield breaker at you. If done quickly enough, you should be able to pull this move off without losing a shield most of the time.
Once you’ve done this a few times, you should be dealing with only one or maybe no shields. At this point you want to continue your darting in and out of range, but instead of throwing a spear, you’ll need to try to make a charge. Having no shields on the opponent will mean you deal a huge hit of damage and no jouster can take more then four or five of those unshielded before they’re done. However, this will also put you in the one place you don’t want to be when facing an NPC jouster and that’s at max range. You’ll want to try to turn around and come back within range of your opponent, but you most likely won’t make it before they can get a charge off on you.
This will bring you around to another key to jousting, which is shield management. Ideally, you’ll want three shields up at all times, with another one waiting to be popped as soon as you lose one. The best way to keep this up is to start with three shields, of course, but there are ways to keep it going for the most of the fight. First off, if you can master the darting technique, your opponent will have issues being able to land a shield breaker on you since ideally you’ll be spending a minimal amount of time at range. However, eventually, you will lose shields, and if you don’t repair them quickly, you will see your mount’s health begin to shrink alarmingly.
Something to keep in mind is that since the NPCs will have the reflexes of a computer, they can make attacks surprisingly fast. If caught at range, they will almost always throw a shield breaker then charge immediately, which is enough to destroy two shields at the same time. If you find your self in this situation, with one or less shields, avoid darting for the time being and simply try staying in melee range while attacking and building your shields back up again. The shield has a cooldown ability of 5 seconds and remember that while you’re shielding up, so is your opponent. Charging, however, will put you back at range and let your opponent continue to hit you with shield breakers and charges themselves. If at any time you have no shields and your opponent has all three, you’re better off cutting and running and starting the fight over.
Once you can get darting down and get better about shield management, you’ll be able to knock out the jousting quests in about ten minutes and should even be able to take out the NPCs in front of Arthas’ fortress in Icecrown about as quickly. A good tip for jousting the Boneguard Commander’s btw is to run them up the stairs towards the fortress’ door. This will mean less adds start trying to kill you. Hope these tips help anyone who needs it and don’t be afraid to post your own tips and tricks in the comments section.