WoW Wednesday - Horde Versus Alliance
By Meredith Watson, OnRPG's Azeroth Reporter
We all know there are two factions in the World of Warcraft - the Horde and the Alliance. At first glance an outsider could think that the WoW is nothing more than a race war. Given that each side is made up of several distinct races this would be an easy assumption to make. However, it would be wrong. At character creation you choose your faction but do you know why the Horde is considered the enemy and the Alliance the good guys? In this case, it isn’t a matter of perception depending on which side you are on. The horde really are the bad guys and the Alliance their unwitting victims.
Long, long ago on the peaceful world of Draenor the Orcs lived in relative harmony with their neighbours the Draenei. However, this peace wasn’t to last. The Burning Legion, an army of demons and a multitude of other corrupted creatures, had very different plans for the idyllic world of Draenor. The Burning Legion would, and at this point already had, destroyed many worlds across the universe in their lust for arcane power. The Orcs who were an intelligent shamanistic society would be, through the efforts of an Orc leader called Gul’dan, corrupted. Gul’dan wanted power and so made a terrible pact with Mannroth who was a general of the Burning Legion. The Orc’s shamanistic ways would be abandoned for those of the dark magic of the warlock. Enslaved and demonically corrupted the Orcs took to destroying Draenor under the command of the dreadlord Kil’jadeen. The horde was born and Gul’dan its de facto leader.
Eventually Gul’dan with the help of the crazed mage Medhiv would open the dark portal allowing the horde into Azeroth resulting in the first war. The horde’s only goal was conquest and destruction. Soon after coming through the dark portal the trolls would join in the fray on the side of the horde. It wouldn’t be until the third war that the Tauren under command of Cairne Bloodhoof would join forces with Thrall and his new horde. The Tauren with their shamanistic ways had much in common with the Orcs. Thrall had been bringing back the Orc’s old ways of shamanism and the new horde is no longer the mindless juggernaut it once was. The Forsaken would join as a matter of convenience after the third war under the leadership of Sylvanas Windrunner.
The Alliance also known as the Grand Alliance included the seven human kingdoms of Arathor, Alterac, Azeroth, Dalaran, Gilneas, Kul Tiras and Lordaeron. The seven human kingdoms were formed some 1200 years before the first war. Also included in this alliance were the Khaz Modan and Aerie Peak Dwarves, the Gnomes of Gnomergen, and the High Elves of Quel’Thalas. After the destruction of the Kingdom of Azeroth during the first war by the horde, the survivors fled to Lordaeron. They would make their home in Southshore. The refugee leader Anduin Lothar was able to convince the Dwarves and Gnomes whose homes were under attack by the horde to join the humans against the Orcs. After the seven human kingdoms banded together and with the help of the Dwarves, Elves and Gnomes the Alliance would be victorious in the second war. Before this banding together the human kingdoms worked autonomously and would often squabble amongst themselves. After the third war, Night Elves, Draenei and Ironforge Dwarves would join the Alliance.
There is much more to the story than what is here but to write it all would be to write a novel. Blizzard has given a depth to the Warcraft series that is rarely matched. While lore is all well and good, how does it play out in the game world with real players? Many players are staunchly horde or Alliance. If you were to ask people why they play horde, for instance, they might say because horde is the more “mature” faction. What is meant is that the horde is seen as the faction with fewer kids and more adults playing it. While this may or may not be true, it certainly did seem this was the case during vanilla and to a lesser degree The Burning Crusade. When Blood Elves were introduced as the “pretty” race for the horde, the quality of new horde player did seem to be somewhat lacking.
Others will say they play horde because they are the underdog. Huld of Shadowsong says, “I wanted to play Horde as everyone has the misconception about them being the “bad guys”. After playing them, you find it is more of a misunderstanding.” Maybe later in the storyline it could be said that the horde were, in a way, the underdogs and somehow misunderstood but initially that was far from the case. The horde was very much the bad guys. Other players seem to know this and aren’t bothered by it as Ian on Twitter explains when asked why he chose Horde, “It had to be Horde - the villains and the server population underdogs, both appealing propositions”.
It seems also that more players prefer the horde’s lore to the Alliance though there has always been contention that the Horde quest lines are harder than Alliance or that Alliance didn’t have to grind, or Alliance had better rewards. When asked why he plays Alliance, Petter on Twitter controversially replied, “Gnomes are the only way to go”. Others seemingly play Alliance because they don’t like the “ugly” races of the Horde. This forum poster, in response to the Horde versus Alliance question stated, “Because I hate the Horde's wishy-washy cry-baby persecution complex. Wah wah, we're savage yet noble. Why don't you understand me?”
No doubt your decision to play Horde or Alliance will be a personal one be it aesthetics, lore or some other reason. I play both factions and always have. I love the haughty and proud Night Elves, the strength and fierceness of the Orcs, the story of Sylvanas Windrunner as well as the haunting quality of the Forsaken areas. As for maturity, over the years, it seems the balance has shifted. There are as many immature players on Horde as there are on Alliance.