I used to hate the jousting quests that are part of the Argent Tournament. For a while, I skipped them.. but it bugged me that they gave me so much trouble. I was irritated that a daily quest would take so long to do and often I would fail and have to start over.. yuck. So I stopped doing them for a while, and sulked.
But, being extremely stubborn and not wanting to be beaten by a quest, I wanted to finish what I started. A friend offered me a few pointers and the difference was amazing. I went from being absolutely smashed by these mobs (and being very embarrassed and sullen about it) to finishing fights with 90% health.
So - here are some tips for how to make it a little easier if you've been having problems with it. This is not a quick method, but it is "safe", if you're trying to get the hang of it. (Note: please see comments for some readers' suggestions for how to speed things up)
Before you talk to the NPC, start with three stacks of Defend
ALWAYS start with 3 shields up. Quickly renew your shield if your opponent removes your stacks, so you don't lose too much health.
Most importantly, don't get distracted and let them drop off! Renew them periodically even if no stacks have been removed. It's easy to forget to renew them if you are doing well or concentrating on your opponent's shields. Your opponent will tear through your health if you have no shields up.
As soon as you engage, break his shield and close range
After you talk to your NPC, he will turn and turn towards the center of the ring. As he runs away from you, toss a Shield-Breaker, but run after him as you do it - so that he never gets far enough away to be able to charge you and remove your shields.
Stay in melee range as much as possible
Stick to that guy like glue. Simply put, the "safe" way to joust is to keep Thrusting merrily away at melee range, and anytime the NPC runs, toss a Shield-Breaker and then run after him ASAP to get back in melee range. By doing this, your opponent can never get range to charge you and remove your shields, but you'll take a shield or two from him and gradually whittle him down.
Every now and then I will back up slightly (in all my keyboard-turning glory) or run away a tiny bit to get range to shield break again (if you reduce his shields to yellow or red, you'll win faster by doing more damage). Remember though, this opens you up to being far enough away for him to charge you and reduce your shields. If this happens, just refresh to green again.
Doing it this way often means that the mob can never remove even one of your shields, which means you should lose very little health over the course of the fight. But don't get complacent - make sure you renew your shields before they expire and drop off. If they run out, the mob will damage you very quickly while you try to get the shields back up.
Why I don't usually bother charging
Charging is pretty cool and a bit of fun. Wheeeeeee, zooming across and wheeling around. The problem though is that once you have charged past your opponent, you have such a wide turning circle that it takes you a few seconds to sweep around and run back to him (unless you jump-turn, and I'm guessing if you're having problems, you're not confident doing this). In that time, you are vulnerable to being charged yourself, meaning that you'll lose a shield stack, and for a few seconds he'll be able to damage you harder. So it's not as "safe" than just meleeing and shield breaking him.
Of course, if you are reducing his shields with extra charges, you'll be killing him faster, so it won't matter too much if your shield drops a stack from a charge; but if you've had troubles with jousting in the past I would recommend just sticking with this safe "melee method" until you're a little more confident.
- always start with full shields
- whenever the mob runs from you, shield break and run after him
- stay in melee range as much as possible, keep Thrusting
- if you get a chance to toss extra shield breaks, this will help you DPS faster
- don't let your shields drop
Oh, and don't forget to re-equip your normal weapon when you're done. It's pretty embarrassing to pop out of cat form after killing Chillmaw, and have a huge Tauren-sized lance in your hand because you didn't realise (in flight or kitty form) that it was still equipped. HEY EVERYONE LOOK AT ME! I'M REALLY DUMB! (*flashing neon arrows*) :/
Hope this helps - good luck!