Before Call of the Crusade dropped, it became clear that the Argent Tournament from Patch 3.1 would be important to participate in. Even if you did not want the vanity pets, mounts, and tabards, there was a lot of gold available for the Aspirant and Champion's dailies, especially when done together since there was a lot of overlap. Additionally, for people coming late to the game like me who aren't Loremasters, this was a chance to get exalted with all the main factions of the Alliance (which contributes to my achievement hunts!). But the most important reason why these dailies had to be tried at least a few times was because you just knew that the next raid or raids would somehow involve this jousting combat system Blizzard came up with.
Now it seems a bit beyond me lore-wise why ability in jousting would be important in the world of Azeroth where high magic and steampunk elements like guns would seem to trump the whole idea of a lance, but that's the deck of cards we are dealt to play with. Being fair, the whole medieval concept is kind of fun to embody. So if you did not learn the ropes of jousting combat, then you would have to learn in a much harder environment with 4-9-24 others counting on you. People complained, but this is just like the drake combat in Eye of Eternity (practice being the Aces High daily) and Oculus (you practice against trash in the instance before going against Eregos). I think these things spice up the raiding and dungeon life, so while I don't think this should be in every dungeon, I appreciate the jousting more than many others by what I hear in guild and trade chat.
Plus, the jousting fits in better with the idea of having a tournament to determine who will take down the evil bad boy, Arthas. Admittedly we will all queue into Icecrown Citadel when the time comes, but this is quality story leading up to the final battle of WOTLK. My proudest achievement-ho moment came in the tournament when I managed 5 achievement spams at one time as shown above! So needless to say, I was prepared to strike the new content whenever I had the chance.
That chance was last night, the second night of Call of the Crusade. I logged into Dalaran and saw that the heroic daily was Oculus. I've been stuck waiting to get a quality Oculus run to finally finish off the Achievement "timier forsees" for regular dungeon dailies for months, so I knew with the new emblems on the line that this was my best shot. As it turns out, I find a tank in LFG and Ekat ends up being the worst geared toon of the bunch. Not normal in a heroic, but then again, these are new times in Azeroth. We wiped one time on Mage Lord Urom when he did his line-of-sight blast before we could get behind a pillar (bad timing), but all else went well and I got some Triumph and conquest emblems for both dailies, finishing off another achievement.
Now after the Oculus run I go to buy a new chest heirloom or two at the Tournament Grounds, and I'm enjoying the new look of the Coliseum and such. I end up in a group to try normal and then heroic Trial of the Crusader (5-man). I have to say, very nicely done Blizzard! The instance has 3 phases, the first has some jousting followed by 3 bosses at once, the second is a randomized boss (we got the priestess who summons a nightmare from our past both times), and the third is the return of The Black Knight. We stumbled through the normal version, but clearly this was designed for Naxx-geared and above toons as it was dicey on each fight.
On heroic, we wiped when the jousting ended and we started fighting the three bosses unmounted. This is kind of a hard transition from one kind of fighting to another, but perhaps I'll pick it up with time. The event does not reset, so we went in and finished off the three bosses in normal fighting stance, then wiped on the Priestess. Again, mana longevity becomes a problem for a Holy Priest trying to tank heal, but there is a lot of damage flying around to everyone so my group heals can save the day. We suited back up and got her down the second try.
The Black Knight fight is very enjoyable. He starts with armor and skin, summons some zombie adds to deal with. Once you get him down a bit, he respawns with only bones and summons up an army of the dead. In this phase he must be kited around as he drops a yellow zone on the ground that does a ton of damage to players standing in it. We wiped here the first attempt, but we figured out the problem was not kiting the boss and we strove to do it again. In the Black Knight's third and final phase, he comes back as a ghost (again with some army of the dead adds). There's a lot to keep track of because he's more like a raid boss than a heroic 5-man boss, but I loved the challenge. We all grabbed one Abyss Crystal from the DE'd items and I picked up a decent healing trinket at one point. Don't know how it compares to my other level 200 trinkets, but it's worth some experimentation.
Again, on the whole, the 5-man is very enjoyable. If the 10/25 man content is as well-designed, then I will enjoy this endgame content perhaps more than Ulduar and Naxx (which are wonderful, but they require a big time investment). I may not have much more playtime before Saturday's guild Ulduar run, where I will finally be in a first day run and will get to see bosses before Freya-Thorim-Mimiron for the first time. so perhaps it is silly seeing the first bosses of the 3.1 raid after the 3.2 heroic 5-man, but that's how it goes in the crazy life of the AE Team.
One more note...since I brought up gold from dailies earlier, I broke through the 10,000 gold plateau a week ago and have been continuing my upward movement. A lot of dailies and cloth production and bag business (an entry on this later) without any big gold sinks led to the obvious conclusion of my Alliance bank alt and Ekat breaking the 5-digit threshold. Amazing!