As you all know, I found the ‘Iron Tide’ pre-expansion event more of an ‘Iron Puddle‘. While I totally appreciate Blizzard spending the time to make a pre-expansion event, this one was just… eh. However, its much more fun to look at the positive than critique the negatives, so I’m taking this opportunity to stretch my creative writing muscle. What follows is the Iron Tide pre-expansion event, re imagined FUSSYPANTS style!
The event starts with a pop up quest (similar to what happened for the actual 6.0 launch). This quest comes from a Stormwind/Horde soldier, who basically says something like this:
“Hail adventurer! I have a message from the King/Warchief! His Royal Highness/The Warchief asks for your aid for a quick little mission. He asks that you travel to Nethergarde Keep/Dreadmaul Hold and check up on the men stationed there. There has been no contact from the Keep/Hold for almost five days and every messenger we have sent has failed to return. The King/Warchief grows concerned. Please check up on the fort and make sure that everything is copacetic.”
Upon accepting the quest (it would also be auto-accept), you are instructed by the quest to take the portal by the portals trainer to the Blasted Lands. The portal dumps you somewhere near the two fortresses and you head to the keep.
You find Nethergarde Keep/Dreadmaul Hold damaged and on fire. Alliance/Horde forces are desperately trying to repair the fortress, and signs of a battle are everywhere. Lots (but not all) of friendly NPCs are dead or dying, and there are orc bodies and orc machinery scattered about. It appears that your fort was attacked, but no one is entirely sure by whom. The Alliance think it is the Horde, which the Horde has honestly no clue. You offer your services, and complete a few quests dealing with clean up, and then the leader of your respective fort sends your out on a scouting mission. You are to find where those filthy orcs went to.
Following the trail of the attackers, you come to the Dark Portal. Only, this isn’t the Dark Portal. The thing is swirling an angry red instead of it’s normal green. The Alliance and Horde camps that were there are in total ruins, and there is more of that strange machinery lying around. You notice a few Iron Stars too. You decide to go through the portal (rather, a quest suggests it), but as soon as you approach, Khadgar appears out of no where, and tells you to get out out of here as fast as you can. “They are coming again! It happens again!” He keeps telling you, but you aren’t quite sure what he means. All the same, you two retreat to a safe distance.
You cut to a cinematic.
The portal starts to swirl more vigorously, the red deepening. Then, (with dramatic music and a zoom in) orcs start to pour out of the portal. There are hundreds, no thousands of them! Then, comes machinery and Iron Stars, so very many! A particularly nasty looking orc steps out, and the camera zooms in on him. He smirks, and then the cinematic ends.
Khadgar, upon seeing this, turns into a raven and flies off to ‘send warning’. You decide to head back to the Keep, but you have to kill a certain amount of orcs on the way (sort of fighting your way to the camp). Flying isn’t disabled per say, but the skies are teeming with Iron Horde and flying too close to them will dismount you. You are restricted to leap-frog flying but mostly on foot.
You arrive at your Keep, and it is just chaos. The proverbial poop has hit the fan and everything is nuts. Iron Horde are everywhere, bombs keep going off, supplies are falling from Iron Horde in the sky, everything is burning and everyone is fighting. The majority of the mobs are elite, but will only attack if you attack first (aren’t neutral mobs, just preoccupied with fighting). A frantic battle for survival.
Now, this is where the questing would get interesting. Instead of normal questing, objectives would pop up sort of like a scenario. Phasing would be minimal, you would just be able to interact with different things depending on which objectives you are on. And no, it would not be instanced, so you could see other players and even group up if you wished.
The first objective would be to kill a certain number of orcs. You would get a buff so that you could take down these elite orcs without getting slaughtered. Next, you would be sent to find the leader of the keep. Upon finding them, you would then be sent to get rid of Iron Horde champions and commanders in charge of the battle. At this point the phase would change, making for less friendly NPCs, more orcs, and a more destroyed fort. The next objective would be to find three friendly NPCs and bring them to the tower where your leader is. This tower is one of the last holding defenses.
You find the three NPCs, one of which is guarding a child who got caught in the midst of battle. You and the NPCs make your way back to the safe tower, which is about to be overrun. Your next objective is to repel these attackers. After a few short seconds, the orcs retreat. You then jump to another cutscene.
It’s you and the survivors catching your breath after the battle. While the others go to tend to the wounded or guard the entrance to the tower, your leader remarks upon the hasty retreat of the orcs and the fact that they could have won if they didn’t retreat. Suddenly, there is a horrible spinning and grinding noise coming from outside. Everyone freezes, and you pull the child behind you. With a massive crash, an enormous Iron Star shatters through the walls. The cinematic ends with the NPCs beginning to scream and then black….
You awaken to a worried Maraad/Thrall. You are injured (lorewise, not gameplay wise) but very much alive. Maraad/Thrall explains to you that the Alliance/Horde got Khadgar’s message and sent a fleet of ships. The Alliance and Horde combined managed to create a beachhead and sent scouts into survey the numbers of the Iron Horde and the state of Nethergarde Keep/Dreadmaul Hold. The scout found you in the wreckage and brought you back to the camp. You are ‘healed enough to fight’ (again, lore not gameplay), and once again begin questing.
You kill more orcs, and then go destroy their siege weapons (similar to the beginning of the questline currently ingame). The scouts have gathered vital intelligence about the enemy and Maraad/Thrall decides its time to strike for the leader (that nasty looking orc from the first cinematic).
This part would be similar to the Undercity Invasion event. You, Thrall, Maraad, a bunch of friendly NPCs, and whomever else was on this part of the quest charge in (in a phased environment) and attack the Iron Horde head on. You puncture through their lines, and work you way to the Dark Portal. Once there, you find even more orcs, more than you could ever hope to fight. So, you get in these Iron Star-like things and basically mow them down. This angers the leader, that nasty orc you are after. After an epic battle involving a lot of crazy mechanics (like driving the Iron Stars into the enemy’s incoming Iron Stars), you and your raid finally defeat the orc leader.
Triumphant, but not for long! Once more, Iron Horde starts to pour out of the portal. You beat a hasty retreat in those Iron Star vehicles, and make it safely back to your camp. The final quest is Maraad/Thrall telling you to warn the King/Warchief of this new and deadly threat!
So that’s what I would imagine for the quest chain. A lot longer, and more actual invasion witnessing. And more danger. The Iron Horde is savage, so the questline would reflect that! And of course, the questline would reward gear like it currently does.
Now, this wouldn’t be all to the pre-expansion event. Once you have completed the questline, you can go back and loot Iron Scraps, a new currency just for this event. This currency would drop from any and all Iron Horde forces. At every capital city and in the Blasted Lands too, there would be vendors that sold you gear (similar to the quest gear), transmog gear, an Iron Star Vehicle toy (similar to Yak Fur), or a temporary tabard that will teleport you to the Blasted Lands in exchange for this currency.
In addition to all of this max level content, there would also be content for lower levels. Iron Horde Scouts can be found in all leveling zones as a rare-ish mob for leveling characters to defeat. Killing them would yield the Iron Scraps, a sizable chunk of change, and a low chance for the Time Lost Box. However, killing these mobs on a character that far outlevels them (if the number are grey to that character) gives no loot, so you want to kill the Iron Horde forces more you level, and not farm the level 5 scouts.
Also, these Scouts will occasionally mount attacks on capital cities. The Iron Horde Scouts will appear all over your city, and you and your allies must band together and find and slay them all. Otherwise, they start killing off NPCs (don’t worry, vendors, questgivers, and trainers are attacked last) slowly but surely. The NPCs would disappear for an hour before respawning. The scouts would be elite 90s, but they would be neutral so lowbies don’t get slaughtered. However, anyone can help take them down, and if you damage them you receive loots. So even a level 5 can help and reap the benefits!
UBRS the dungeon would receive a little more explanation for why it exists (Iron Horde that escaped into rest of Azeroth and set up a stronghold in the mountain), and the ending would also have explanation and not be so abrupt. The Iron Horde in the dungeon would also drop Iron Scraps. But other than that, I’d leave it pretty much the same.
This event would go on until the dropping of WoD, wherein an ingame email from Maraah/Thrall would say that Azeroth has repelled the majority of the invader, and if the player is maxed leveled, would invite them to come and push the Iron Horde back even farther. Mobs, venders, and currency from the event would disappear, but pets, toys, and gear would not.
So there you have it! A lot more than what we got, but hey! You have to admit, this would be a pretty savage pre-expansion event! Man, I should become Blizzard’s pre-expansion event planner! :P