First things first: lag is your worst enemy.
You will need to adapt your jousting strategy to account for lag, or just plain wait until it's as lagless as possible before you try to joust anything remotely difficult (commanders in front of the citadel in particular). Seriously. I updated my computer last weekend, and suddenly, jousting is FUN.
Problems lag causes:
- "Too close" to charge the guy who's clear across the screen.
- "Too far away" to melee the guy standing in front of you.
- You get charged/shield broken while the enemy is standing in front of you.
- The enemy runs away... and keeps running... and running... and running... and then BAM you're dismounted.
- You pressed the charge button. You think. Did you? Hmm... OH! Look, we're running into a tent wall.
How to Joust NPCs and take Minimal Damage:
- Accessorize. This is a game, and this is one aspect of the game where the stats on your gear don't matter one bit. You can ride buck-naked and still put a beat-down from horseback, as long as you have a lance equipped. While I wouldn't recommend this for *real world* jousting, in WoW, it's perfectly acceptable to ride into combat wearing a pink dress, bunny ears, and dragging a little kid along behind you stumbling beneath the crushing weight of an over-packed backpack and 3-pennant flag. If you'd like to strike fear, don your old pumpkin hat from Hallow's End and make them think they're facing down the Headless Horseman. Wear what you want because a) it will make you feel better, and b) it *might* just demoralize your foes that you can beat them in a bikini, or at the least, it might distract them. Do it for giggles.
- Keybind your 3 main abilities: thrust, shield-breaker, and charge. You want these as comfortably close your movement keys as possible: I chose q, mouse button 3, and e respectively. I keybound them on my Bartender action bars, since it allows for stance and vehicle-bar-swapping support.
- Shields up, Captain! When you mount up, with lance equipped and properly accessorized, put your shields to a full 3-stack. This is not cheating: the Boneguard Commanders do it, and the Champions in the ring do it. It is simply smart play to keep your defenses up.
- Pick your prey. If you're a Valiant, you can go to either of the two Valiants' rings to pick a fight with an NPC (horde and alliance doesn't matter), and if you're a Champion, you have the whole Champion ring to choose from. Both ranks can pick a fight with the Boneguard Lieutenants and Commanders, if you wish to fight for justice rather than sport. For the commanders, I recommend pulling them up the stairs towards the citadel so that you don't aggro tons of things (especially those pesky gargoyle scouts!).
- Charge them! For ring fights, wait for you enemy to get in the center ring, and charge them from the sidelines. This is your heaviest damage-dealing attack, and you want to close with them before they charge you back.
- Wheel around with the mouse and movement keys while spamming your shield-breaker (this is why I bound the ability to a mouse-button). This is a maneuver most old-school hunters learned while working on their epic bow quest-line, and is a handy skill for most any player to know: jumping while moving one way, then spinning with the mouse in mid-air to turn and face your opponent again to that you can shoot a ranged ability at them. Since the charge effect gives you a speed boost, tightly circle them while trying to face them (strafe a bit if you have to) and try to stay behind them or to their side, and it should prevent them from getting a charge back at you while you wait for the speed boost to wear off.
- Stab them in melee. If you're feeling plucky, you might run away and wheel-about midair to throw another shield-breaker before they can react, and close back into melee before they can do the same to you. The more you do this, the less armor they have.
- Keep shields at full. Reapply your shields whenever you loose one, and also reapply them before the whole stack simply wears off after a minute's duration. If you loose multiple shield charges, getting them back up around the cooldown should be your top priority.
- When they run, charge after them. How nice of them to provide their backs to you. If your charge isn't up, use shield-breaker and close with them fast before they turn and charge you.
- Rinse, repeat step 6-9.
This strategy has served me well in the Champions' Ring (I've been able to take out all 4 without needing to heal between fights, if I'm careful), as well as in being able to solo the commanders at the citadel. Just don't get *too* cocky, or you'll end up dismounted amidst the dozens of foot soldiers and get squished... >.>
I have not dueled anyone yet, not since a very failed duel on the first day. I'm an odd druid who avoids duels like a plague. I'd like to know, though, if this tactic will work in duels, or if the unpredictability of a live opponent will make it far more difficult, requiring more reliance on remembering their charge cooldowns, and wheeling mid-air for quick breaks or charges.
~ Note: for a full Argent Tournament Questing Guide, check out Orbitz' guide at Beware Splinters! ~