Becoming an ambassador with the Argent Tournament

11th June 2009 – 5.03 pm

The Argent Tournament offers players the opportunity to joust their way to monetary and reputation gains, but it is not only with Northrend factions the Argent Crusade and Silver Covenant that reputation can be gained. The character can prove herself worthy of competing in the tournament, then collect enough marks of the valiant and defeat an Argent champion to become a champion herself, at which point it is possible to earn champion's writs. These writs can be used to buy items from capital city quartermasters at the tournament grounds, most notably items that offer a one-use gain in reputation with the city. As characters can serially become champions for each race's faction there exists the opportunity to increase your reputation with all five of the home cities, all the way to exalted. And, of course, with such a reputation comes the title of 'Ambassador'.

As someone who went to some effort to get my Draenei warrior riding a Darnassus mount before exploiting the benefits later by attaining Sapphire the title of ambassador it seems like another of those occasions where a reward becomes almost trivial to achieve compared to the effort required before the changes were made. I believe the standard reply to such changes is to complain that the game is being put in to 'easy mode' for the new players and that they don't know what it's like to have to earn an achievement when it is instead simply dropped in their laps. Whether it is trying to befriend the Timbermaw Furbolgs, get a Night Elf to Stormwind by running through Wetlands, or complete the epic paladin or warlock steed quest, there is always some reason to complain that we had it harder and should be rewarded more for our efforts.

Reflecting on my title of ambassador, and how so many more ambassadors must surely be waiting in the wings, I really don't think I mind. In fact, I think I quite like the change. On the one hand, I had to go out of my way to find quests and opportunities to increase my faction gain with the home cities, and becoming exalted with Darnassus by 40th level was actually a chore on occasions, all for the singular gain of raising my reputation, as there were few monetary or item gains as a result. On the other hand, there is nothing special about what I did, as I merely used the reputation system already in place and simply created a personal grind to achieve a goal for myself. And, even though the time zones were in my favour, it is quite possible that I frustrated some low-level players as I blasted through the newbie zones, as the only places left with sufficient quantities of quests, to gain my quick reputation.

I could claim that because I had to go to some personal effort for the achievement that so too should others, but if I am being honest the only effort I made was dedicating some time to gaining the achievement and title of ambassador. Finding and completing the quests to gain the reputation required only minimal ability beyond having an attention span. As an 80th level character I was never in any danger, even when I completed all of the quests in a dress, shunning the plate armour I would normally wear. Compare this to the Argent Tournament. Certainly, there is no threat in jousting, aside from failure becoming wasted time, and the only real danger comes from the champion-level quests. Although any competent player should be able to cope with the Argent Tournament champion daily quests they still demand a moderate level of skill and some level of concentration to complete.

Indeed, which is more of the challenge: stomping a 5th level be-candled kobold's head in to the ground with an 80th level titansteel boot, or defeating 80th level elite Scourge on horseback in Icecrown? Whereas I could leave Sapphire surrounded or even attacked by hostile mobs on Azuremyst Isle to feed my cat-and-a-half safe in the knowledge that I would return to a healthy character, I need to be active and mostly alert to gain champion's writs. And I think that is the crux of the argument. I don't think that World of Warcraft has been made easier by the introduction of gaining reputation through the writ, I think it has been made more relevant.

It may well be the case that Sapphire's title of ambassador no longer reveals the time I invested in to the character, but in the end time was all I invested to gain the achievement. Now it is no longer the case that low-level zones, which offer no decent rewards or challenges, need to be trawled through in order to gain a specific achievement, instead some new quests have been introduced with the Argent Tournament that promote the pursuit of the achievement in ways that offer extra incentives, along with a new mode of play in the form of jousting. And as the tournament is only open to 80th level characters, getting that exotic mount from a different faction for your 30th level character still presents a challenge, so World of Warcraft certainly hasn't been made easier. The game is simply offering level-appropriate content where it didn't exist before.

The champion's writs definitely present a positive change to reputation gain, much more so than the now-redundant runecloth hand-in quests that were previously the only way to increase reputation easily and reliably. I hope that many more characters aiming to be ambassadors take advantage of the opportunities available within the Argent Tournament rather than suffer potential drudgery completing trivial tasks that are truly beneath them.

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