Views on 3.1

It's been a while again, since I last posted, Maybe someone's
watching, if so I apologize. Anyway, on to the goods.

3.1 has hit the airwaves, and pounded the servers like a Combat Mace
Rogue before the random stun nerf. I've been fortunate and had no
trouble yet trying to get online when I get the chance, and so far I
like what I see. Though I've not yet scratched the surface of this
massive patch. I've yet to hit Ulduar, or try to heal anything since
the Paladin changes; however, I have scurried my way into the Argent
Tournament, and had a taste of dual specs.

Argent Tournament
—————–
As a Holy Paladin, working my way through the Argent Tournament seemed
a no-brainer. A rallying "Pick up your sword and fight the……
scourge" kind of feeling is prevalent on the tournament grounds. But
there is also a generic, "here's something to waste your time" feeling
too. Not to say that it's not fun, but I'm not totally sure how this
is going to work into the lore of the game. Sure, they're obviously
building up a cathedral on Arthas's doorstep,

and preparing us wayward mercenaries to perform combat on horseback,
but it initially comes across as a festival… a bit too cheerful for
the trying times that the denizens of Azeroth are having.

Anyway, I became a slave to trends and dove into the quests.
Partially because I wanted to get exalted with all the Alliance
factions, but also because it was a new mechanic to the game, and was
implemented well. During the Argent Tournament, you are taught to
fight with lance and shield upon horseback. A few abilities are
provided once you mount the Quel'dorei Steed (a.k.a. Unicorn), these
include "Thrust", "Shield Breaker", "Charge", "Defense", and "Refresh
Mount". Each of these abilities are used on a cooldown, to aid you in
your attacks on fellow jousters, Aspirants, Valiants, and Champions,
as well as undead scourge later on. It is a bit of a balancing game,
as you will need to prepare yourself with "Defense", which stacks 3
times, and then use "Charge" or "Shield Breaker" in accordance with
each other to lower the defense of your target/enemy. Each challenger
you meet will compete in a different way, some with more defense,
others with less defense, but faster attacks, others still who would
rather stay back and pelt you with ranged attacks. As I mentioned, it
was implemented well, and I have yet to find any bugs with the
jousting mechanic.

As the days have gone past (and I've had only an hour or so to get
online), the quests and challenges I have completed, have gained me
the recognition as a Valiant of Stormwind (that means two flags on my
banner W00t!). This opens up new quests and further challenges
against fellow valiants to gain further tokens towards becoming a
Champion of Stormwind. This is where the fun comes in. Not only does
that open more dailies, however it also allows you to gain reputation
as a champion of any city within your home faction. I'll likely be
hitting Darnassus and Exodar, and then moving on to IF and Gnomeregan,
but it sure beats grinding LOW-level quests and runecloth. To top it
off, you can pick up some iLevel 200 weapons off of the vendors.
Though it's likely I'll pick up better once I start hitting Uldual,
the visual appeal of some of the weapons will surely tempt me to pick
some up.

Overall, I've had a ton of fun running around the Argent Tournament,
and it's accompanying scourge crunching quests.

Dual Specs
———-
Oh what a beautiful flavor freedom has. After I first heard of the
possibility of dual specs, I was chomping at the bit. Even if it did
not come out, I was saving up the gold for when it did. As 3.1 hit, I
was a bit unprepared, and had not saved up the whomping 1000g to
purchase the ability, but that didn't slow me down. After some AH
action, some good 'ol dailies, and some help from my brother, I was
beyond the mark, and headed to my nearest trainer.

I slapped down the 1000g and said "GIMME ANOTHER TAB!!!", and poof,
there it was. An empty talent tab, just waiting for me to fill it
with Retribution goodness.

Over the last few months of Naxx 10-man runs, I had picked up a decent
amount of gear that was of the Physical DPS plate persuation. I had
expected to get a chance to use it, however did not want to waste the
40-50 gold to swap over and reassign my talents. When 3.1 hit, it
gave me that chance. Sure it was a much higher fee than the 50g, but
over time, it will be so worth it.

I picked out a 0/11/60 spec and equipped my pretty dps gear. It had
been a long time since I hit something in the face, and boy was it
fun. I've been reading up on some Ret pally blogs, and hopefully will
be halfway viable in any raid/instance if I decided to DPS (here's a
good one: http://e4ae.blogspot.com/2009/04/31-ret-faq.html). I had
redone my Holy spec to nearly match my old one at 51/5/15, picking up
the new Divinity, and Aura Mastery. I've yet to try this out, however
I'm still making use of it, if not in strange ways.

No matter where I'm at, if I have to travel any distance with no
portal/hearthstone, then I'll activate my holy spec (even in my ret
gear), hit Crusader Aura, and tap "Aura Mastery" on every cooldown.
The reason for this, is that Aura Mastery, when activated, increases
the effect of your aura by 100%, this means that Crusader Aura goes
from a 20% increase to a 40% increase! Yes, it works, for now…
let's hope Blizzard says it is "working as intended". This should be
nice for the other auras as Concentration Aura becomes more potent,
and prevents silence effects… a very nice bonus. It would be the
same for Devotion Aura, and Retribution Aura (along with the resist
auras). I'm thinking about working a new talent spec that picks up
the Aura Mastery along with the Retribution Tree, but have yet to
figure that out without giving up too much. We'll have to see.

Needless to say, so far 3.1 has been pretty fun. New quests, new
toys, new abilities, and new instances. Now to just find some time to
see this Ulduar place. I've heard it's pretty.

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