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The Writer's New Clothes - Tier 9, Here I Come
As you may or may not already be aware, another new major content patch for World of Warcraft, patch 3.2, is on the horizon. Within the next couple of months WoW players the world over will be enjoying a heaping load of new content, gear, achievements, bosses, and more.
This new content stems from the Argent Crusade's Tourmanent Grounds sub-lore that has been developing since 3.1. In an effort to reveal the true champions of the Horde and Alliance, the Argent Crusade organized a tournament in Northeast Icecrown. In 3.1 this area opened as a daily quest zone, where players battled with lances on horseback and completed some ethically questionable quests for a team of unscrupulous goblins. Through the plundering of stone from ancient structures and thieving of wood planks for normally-peaceful tree spirits, the actual Coliseum structure will be completed in patch 3.2. This area will be home to six different versions of dungeon.
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5-man Dungeon - Trial of the Champion
The first type of dungeon content available come 3.2 will be the Trial of the Crusader. An arena-style event (much like the Ring of Blood or Amphitheater of Anguish) in which players will battle three "bosses" to earn iLvl 200 epics, Champion's Seals, and Emblems of Conquest. The first of these "bosses" is a team of champions of the opposing faction (NPCs, of course) that you battle with a lance on horseback. Much like the Argent Tournament Jousting dailies you have the same abilities while mounted - Attack, Shield-Breaker, Charge, and Defend. You will also be able to trample your dismounted enemies preventing them from obtaining a fresh mount.
Once you defeat these three while mounted, they'll come at you in normal combat - You'll then dismount and defeat them quite easily.
The second boss is actually a representative of the Argent Crusade - Either Argent Confessor Paletress or Eadric the Pure. If you end up battling the Confessor, when she gets low on life she'll summon a "memory" of yours, which can be any significant creature that you may (or may not) have battled at a previous time. Unfortunately these summons all have the same set of abilities and do not mirror their originals in any way but appearance.
The third boss is a bit of a surprise - the Black Knight (wait, isn't he dead). He flies in in a grand fashion, dispatches the Silver Covenant rep running the show, and engages you. Once you kill him, he turns into a ghoul. Once you kill the ghoul he turns into a ghost (he's very persistent). Eventually, you'll actually kill him for good (supposedly)and scoop up some nice loot for your efforts.
As the second incarnation of the Crusaders' Coliseum instance, you can set this to Heroic mode and earn iLvl213 epics (Naxx 25, Uld 10 Equivalent) for your slightly greater effort.
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Forget the Dungeon - Let's Get to the RAID
The Crusaders' Coliseum raid dungeon is going to be known as Trial of the Crusader. This raid is going to differentiate a bit from the previous format. Instead of 10-man being considered "normal" and 25-man "heroic", both 10 and 25 man modes will have Normal and Heroic versions. Does this mean four different sets of loot? Not quite. Currently the normal and heroic versions of each drop the same loot - The only difference is that when it drops in Heroic mode it includes some green text under the name that says "Heroic" and the stats are a heck of a lot better.
Loot that drops in these raids begins at iLvl 232 (10-man Normal), goes to 245 in 10-man Heroic and 25-man Normal, and iLvl 258 in 25-man Heroic. This implies that 25-man will, in fact, represent a higher level of "progression" squashing any hope of competitive 10-man teams. The nice thing about this is each version of the raid has its own individual lockout, so you can do one of each in any given week.
Each of these raids will have 5 bosses that consist of various monsters found throughout Northrend, including Scourge minions like the Twin Vrykul, Champions of the opposing faction, and beasts like Jormungars and Magnataurs. Much like the release of Sunwell in patch 2.4, only one encounter will be released each week, for five weeks, until the full instance is available. I'm not sure exactly why they're doing that, but there it is.
The new raid will differ in another major way - It will be the first time ever that Horde and Alliance have completely different looking gear. This includes weapons as well as tier pieces. The major disappointment here, though, is that each armor type is standardized across all classes - meaning all Alliance Priests, Mages, and Warlocks look basically the same (some minor color variation), or all Horde Hunters and Shaman look alike, etc.
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A new way of rewarding the hard core is also being introduced in the new 3.2 patch. This is centered around the Tribute system. The Crusader's Tribute is activated on Heroic modes of the raid dungeon only. It essentially specifies a maximum amount of attemts you can make in one raid lockout period. Currently it is sitting at a generous 50, meaning the raid is either excessively difficult or it's only like that on PTR for testing purposes, and will be reduced appropriately for Live release.
Raid wipes cost Tributes, and achievements and bonus gear can be earned by completing the instance with X amount of tributes left, like 45 or 50 (in its current form). Of course, this early in testing, little is known about the rewards garnered from utilizing Tributes, but I'll find out soon enough and share it with you good people!