There's plenty to look for through the datamining, but the question on everyone's mind is, "How do I start the questline?" Trust me, when someone finds out, I'm sure the internet will explode about it. It'll probably be on a Monday, during my other job's hours, and right after this column posts, knowing my luck.
But before I get into an all-out walkthrough of the questline, I want to discuss one thing: does green fire have to be exclusive? Is exclusivity required for meaningfulness?
Determined or fortunate enough
This is the phrase in the patch notes that bothers me. It bothers me particularly because I've yet to lay my hands on an invite to the Brawler's Guild. I don't have the time to stalk the Black Market Auction House as my bids get returned within seconds a day out from auction expiration nor do I have the culminating gold when the invite gets put up on the regular auction house for exorbitant amounts. I also don't appear to have the wealthy friends who can both buy an invite and manage to stay on long enough to reach Rank 7 for a give-away invite.
So the "everyone can get one eventually" argument hasn't yet worked for the Brawler's Guild two months in, which as a lover of soloing old raids I was very much looking forward to. With the ability and opportunity to buy an invite cheap on the BMAH only to turn around and sell it for stupid amounts on the regular AH, I don't doubt I'll see patch 5.3 or 5.4 before I finally get one.
I'm not going to believe it again for green fire. The phrase "determined or fortunate enough" just reeks of doing things I don't really play the game for. With the uproar over dailies and valor points or over the legendary questline and PvE players in PvP, doing things you don't want to do in order to get what you want appears to be the thematic problem of Mists of Pandaria, unfortunately.
Is prestige necessary anymore?
I wasn't around in Vanilla and I was leveling in The Burning Crusade far more than I was in endgame content. But I hear things from guildmates and friends who were there. I hear gold wasn't super-easy to make, that the farming and gathering took a substantial time to do. While the raids are remembered fondly (or maybe horrifically), fact is that not very many of the player base did those things.
But things that were prestigious back then were prestigious simply because not very many people did them, not because it was arbitrarily limited. The old Vanilla PvP gear is prestigious now since only those who got the titles back then can wear it for transmogrification. The titles are not so much, since you can get the titles now with specific rated battleground levels. Prestige back then was you were both skilled enough in the game to do something and skilled enough in social aspects to get into a group to do these things.
Now, the wonderful stuff that everyone wants may be locked behind content players don't normally want to do. I'm fortunate in that personally I love dailies, I love questing, I like scenarios, I happen to be raiding, and while I'm not amazing at PvP I can fumble at it long enough to get certain goals done. The only thing Blizzard can throw at me that completely locks me out of a chance at a goal in game is a gold requirement, which is mostly why I don't like the BMAH at all.
Others are not so fortunate. There are plenty of raiders, including my own guildmates, who hate dailies for one reason or another -- it's too repetitive or maybe their spec takes too long to kill things -- but they absolutely had to do dailies for faction reputation and valor point gear. There are other guildmates who don't PvP ever who are finding themselves PvP-gearless -- mid-season, no less -- having to win a brand-new battleground just to progress in the legendary questline for their PvE gear. There are plenty of PvPers who previously hated it when legendary PvE weapons and really great PvE trinkets would trivialize PvP to the point of almost being required to do anything serious. As I've previously mentioned, I hate playing the auction house just so I can have my soloing junky's Brawler's Guild invite, which other than getting started has nothing whatsoever to do with gold and people connections.
"Prestige" in these later expansions of WoW has unfortunately eroded from something players got from the higher tiers of an activity into something that's from actively limited participation. Now, so-called prestige -- e.g., Brawler's Guild, the legendary questline, and PvP's major rating problem -- appears to have nothing to do with your actual skill to finish but everything to do with your luck in getting started. Isn't this a bit backwards? Wasn't Mists of Pandaria supposed to be the expansion of playing how you want to?
The old warlock questline to get a dreadsteed was time-consuming and expensive. Well, at least, I assume it was, since I had it relatively easy in the waning hours of The Burning Crusade expansion when I did the questline. I was in a more social than serious raiding guild when I started playing WoW, and many members wanted to fondly share the joy of getting the dreadsteed mount with me. Since the dreadsteed shared a visit to Dire Maul with the paladin charger, I got to see that questline too before it also disappeared into the Cataclysm. But I had the resources more or less handed to me as leftovers from other guildmates' adventures, so I finished the whole shebang in a few days.
The prestige isn't the dreadsteed mount itself, since any warlock nowadays can train it at level 40. The prestige is maybe the feat of strength I have and the fortune to know what the fel this goblin is doing all the way out here in the Burning Steppes. I don't have the prestige to be able to link the old Wheel, Candle, or the Bell in-game, much like rogues with the old poisons or blinding powder can, but I definitely still call it "Dire Maul West" and still have the fond memories of a gigantic, glowing, magenta summoning circle in Immol'thar's room.
I don't know how much fun the questline was to do at 60 when 60 was the be-all, end-all level. It certainly followed the old fantasy game tradition of literally building the items from specific magical items rather than grinding forever until reaching a currency number and buying a thing. Nowadays, it might be a little too grindy for some players, but I think the new 525-600 cooking brings back memories of that old gathering of relevant ingredients rather than magically cooking a fish over a fire without spices or flavorings.
Accessibility versus hard work versus choice
Mounts are one obvious prestige item and legendaries are the other. In Wrath of the Lich King and prior content, legendary parts were almost entirely drop-based. I recall congratulating the Shadowmourne progresser on whether a Shadowfrost Shard even dropped. We still cheer for guildmates or friends who manage to see both Warglaives, let alone own them. Once we got to Cataclysm's legendaries, it wasn't congratulations on RNG blessing you with a drop, but a question of how many more to go. The frustrating part of the legendary had transitioned from luck grind to the pure grind.
I liked how Dragonwrath and Fangs of the Father began. I liked how just about anyone of the required classes could pick up the beginning quests, and even with a pug or LFR group, complete the first stage of lore and weapons. I liked how the finished product only came from having a raid group that could do the grind and then kill the final boss -- grinding and boss-killing, or raiding in a nutshell -- rather than from whether or not you can win a battleground, continuing capping valor long after you need the offered gear, or whether RNG graced you before the next tier came out. I liked how everyone could get started but it took something special (like teamwork) to finish.
I know green fire won't be the status quo, even if there's a lot of excitement about it now. Future warlocks will have to live with regular orange fire for 90 levels just to get to the questline, and even then, will every alt take the time to do it all? I know there are warlocks out there who aren't excited about green flames -- and that's totally okay -- so they won't be slinging the verdant fel fire. It will be time for me to quit playing when I start judging others by the color of their Incinerates.
I don't think reward should be restricted up front by the first quest; instead, make it challenging and endearing along the way. I hope Blizzard lets us all paint our enemies with all the colors of the
Blood Pact is a weekly column detailing DOTs, demons and all the dastardly deeds done by warlocks. We'll coach you in the fine art of staying alive, help pick the best target for Dark Intent, and steer you through tier 13 set bonuses.