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Patch 3.2: Trial of the Crusader impressions

Without much fanfare, Patch 3.2's new 5-man instance, the Trial of the Crusader, opened on the PTR tonight. Lead Encounter Designer Scott Mercer, AKA Daelo, noted that the instance is still a work in progress and that there would undoubtedly be bugs in the encounters.

I immediately assembled a crack team of terrible players, including uneducated elemental shaman Sneep of <Goon Squad> Horde Mal'ganis US, betraying his faction and playing a draenei; my obligatory hunter girlfriend; my dead-weight editor and prot paladin Alex Ziebart; and probably the worst druid raid leader I've ever had in my current guild, Talid.

Making sure our shoes were velcroed properly, we boldly went where champions tread. On Normal difficulty, of course.

Upon entering the instance, though, our hearts sank when we realized that there were mountable Argent Warhorses along the walls. "No!", we cried. "Anything but jousting!"

But our cries went unheard. That is, until Daelo popped into General chat to let everyone know that mounts were only used in one encounter. Dodged THAT bullet!

And so we mounted up on the Warhorses and spoke to the Silver Covenant herald, Arelas Brightstar, to begin our challenge.


THE FACTION CHAMPIONS

Arelas began a long RP introduction, wherein we were each lauded by our respective factions and buttered up. He then introduced the opposite faction's Champions, chosen at random from the five possible, who proceeded to walk incredibly slowly into the Coliseum. The whole thing took much, much longer than it needed to, even for the first try at the instance, and I hope that you have the option of skipping it or Blizzard shortens it eventually.

Our Champion team was blood elf Mage Eressea Dawnsinger, tauren Shaman Runok Wildmane, and forsaken Rogue Deathstalker Visceri.

Once everyone was introduced, each Champion sent their Valiants, a pack of three single-Defend-stacked riders, at us. They were easily dispatched, and once all three packs were defeated, the Champions rushed at us simultaneously.

Just like in the jousting dailies, you have Attack, Shield-Breaker, Charge, and Defend at your disposal. When you defeat an enemy Champion, they're knocked off their horses. Once off their horses, they will attempt to run and grab a new mount. This can be prevented by running them over with your mount, Trampling them.

Now, at this point in the encounter's testing phase, you the player can jump off of your current horse and onto a new one at any time, restoring your health to full. I'm unsure if this is intended or not, but I think it might be, given how much damage you can take if all three Champions decide to target you. Regardless, that's how we took them out, despite numerous crashes involving being dismounted (or dying). We would run and grab a new horse from the walls if our health got low.

The Champions knocked permanently off their mounts, they regrouped as a three-man party. We dismounted and engaged them. Eressea was armed with Fireballs and Blast Waves; Runok was their healer, using Healing Waves and other Shaman spells; and Visceri used poisons and other rogue moves. They were dispatched without much difficulty (thought it should be noted we were all in nearly full Tier 8 armor and this was Normal difficulty).

We received one item level 200 epic (the same item level as Naxx 10 or heroic dungeons), and Emblem of Conquest, and a Champion's Seal for completing the first challenge.

THE ARGENT REPS

Your second encounter will be, as described in my datamining post, either Argent Confessor Paletress or Eadric the Pure. Our specific encounter was with the Confessor.

She spawned in a number of add waves, made up of priests and paladins and, of all things, Lightwells. After the waves were defeated, Paletress engaged us personally. She's got a very soft and motherly voice, along with an arsenal of Smites.

At about 25%, she summoned in one of our deepest, darkest memories -- this one was a Memory of Lucifron. To our disappointment, the Lucifron encounter was a Lucifron encounter in model only, since it appears that no matter who's summoned in, from Algalon to Hogger, they all use the same set of moves. Snake-dude used a magic debuff and an AOE fear on us. Once Lucifron was downed, Paletress came back in at full health and engaged us again, and she was quickly dispatched.

We received two item level 200 epics, an Emblem of Conquest, and a Champion's Seal for completing the first challenge.

THE BLACK KNIGHT

Arelas Brightstar was unfortunate enough to notice the Black Knight flying into the Coliseum on his bone gryphon. The Black Knight immediately force-choked him and killed him, raised him as a ghoul, and monologued at us.

The first phase of the fight saw the Knight using a variety of Death Knight moves, using his newly-risen ghoul to attack us as well. It was a fairly simple tank-and-spank. Once defeated, he rose again as a skeleton, telling us his rotting flesh was "just getting in the way".

This time, Skele-Knight used Army of the Dead and summoned in a whole bunch of Risen Champions, who would periodically explode for massive damage. Upon killing the Knight again, he rose as a ghost, saying he didn't need bones to best us.

Ecto-Knight then cast a debuff on us that increased our magic damage taken over time, periodically using an AOE or a directed debuff that drastically increased damage taken.

Upon the Black Knight's permanent defeat, we received two item level 200 epics, an Emblem of Conquest, and a Champion's Seal.

IMPRESSIONS

Despite the numerous crashing bugs we encountered, sure to be resolved prior to the instance's official launch, we had a good time in the dungeon. It should be a fine challenge for players of the appropriate level and a great source of shards, badges, and Seals for those who completely outgear it.

Thoughts:

• The RP introduction dragged on for far too long, and after a wipe we had to listen to the whole thing again. It needs to be shortened or skippable.

• Another vehicle fight. >:0

• You can graveyard zerg every fight in this dungeon, which may not be intended, especially given the short path between the graveyard and the Coliseum.

• It was pretty disappointing to see that the much-touted "Heroic old-world bosses" were nothing but shadowform models of said bosses without any of their signature moves. I guess that's partially my fault for building them up without full information, but it's still disappointing.

• The variety of encounters was fun -- having different Champions and Argent reps each time should bring a little spice to your daily runs.

• The loot is well-itemized and a pleasant surprise given that even the Normal mode drops epics.

We'll keep you up to date on new rumblings regarding this short, fun instance. We've got an ongoing gallery of our collected loot up for you right here.


Patch 3.2 will bring about a new 5, 10, and 25 man instance to WoW, and usher in a new 40-man battleground called the Isle of Conquest. WoW.com will have you covered every step of the way, from extensive PTR coverage through the official live release. Check out WoW.com's Guide to Patch 3.2 for all the latest!

Filed under: Patches, Instances, Bosses, Mounts

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