Wednesday, 13 November 2013

One Way Or Another

There is so much to talk about at the moment it is difficult to know which way to go. BBB wrote an excellent post on Garrisons which negates anybody else writing about it until we have more detail. Rohan at Blessing of Kings, discussed the Orc Centric expansion, which is the point were I put in my two-penneth.

Having never played Horde, and preferring the pretty races (Blood Elves don't count), I have a slightly skewed view of how the factions are treated. Trying to be neutral in my observation it would appear that the vast majority of players are Alliance based. This is only natural because that is what the Fantasy genre as always taught us. We see everything through the "good guys" eyes. The first books in the genre are attributed to JRR Tolkien (Hobbit and Lord of the Rings) set the tone for all future books. The "good guys" are Dwarves, Elves and Hobbits, with humans being weak and fallible and both mighty and strong. Orcs, Worgs, Trolls and Ogres are the "bad guys", and so Blizzard had a uphill struggle to balance the factions.

The original Warcraft franchise like every other Real-Time Strategy game, involved a storytelling through all factions. In the series I remember very little except for 4 storylines.

  1. The Battle of Mount Hyjal
  2. Grom Hellscream drinking the blood of Mannoroth
  3. The Horde helping Cairne Bloodhoof (or the other way round)
  4. Arthas culling Stratholme
Three of these events have been revisited in World of Warcraft, and it would appear we are going to become more acquainted with Grom. Playing through the Real-Time Strategy, gave a unique perspective of the Lore, that people who have only played World of Warcraft and only one faction would not.

Vanilla WoW was heavy in favour of the Alliance due to the aspects that I have mentioned above. The Horde would later flourish when the stereotype of the Alliance as being casual, carebears and kids. The Horde on the other hand was for real Raiders, PvPers and Hardcore. Horde numbers swelled but on the whole the Alliance still holds the larger numbers on most realms.

Blizzard picked up the baton for the underdogs and have on the whole had a slight favouritism towards the Horde (which is perfectly understandable). Not wanting to pick out too many individual acts of favouritism it is easier to look at the expansions.

  1. Vanilla - The Alliance had the lion share of non contested zones
  2. The Burning Crusade - Probably the most Neutral in terms of Storyline
  3. The Wrath of the Lich King -  Alliance centric due to Arthas being the fallen Alliance noble
  4. Cataclysm - The hero in a supposed neutral role was Thrall, and with the Horde making territorial gains in the revamp.
  5. Mists of Pandaria - Garrosh Hellscream (enough said)
  6. Warlords of Draenor - Garrosh, Grom et al. This is completely Horde centric.
Does this matter that we have had three Horde centric expansions in a role? Not really in the big scheme of things. It does however feel that the Alliance are nothing more than lapdogs to the Horde. Hopefully this time the majority of the story is not obscured to the majority of players, and please Blizzard no more storylines that only appear in books and comics.


  1. Maybe you can make your free 90 a horde character so you can experience the other side of the story line. I know I personally really enjoy being able to see it from both sides.

    In my experience, and I guess you could call it bias as I play alliance mostly, the horde have been the main focus of the game since I started playing in late BC. I consider wrath to be the most neutral expansion to date, not BC. Arthas, while stories tell him as a previous alliance character, was never an alliance character in game. So I can not agree with the thought it is an alliance expansion because of him. He has always been an enemy to both sides since the MMO started.

    Cataclysm was also well balanced in terms of story telling, if you removed thrall. But when you have the leader of the horde leading the alliance around as if he is their leader and they must do as he says, it shows little to no respect for the alliance player. So while the story was perfectly neutral, the execution was not.

    Before you say Thrall was no longer the leader of the horde think about that for a moment. He appointed Garrosh as warchief. He was still in charge. Always was, always has been, always will be. Even when Gassorh was dethroned Thrall, the leader of the horde, appoints a new warchief. So basically the alliance were indeed second class citizens to the horde, and the errand boys for their leaders call.

    Now in mists there is no doubt it is horde centric as we take down the warchief of the horde. But they could not leave it at that. Just quest as a horde and see how much better the experience was. Or the now removed battlefield barrens where the horde had a fantastic story line and the alliance had, well, nothing.

    Lets not forget that the horde also get to see Garrosh first hand, the entire story of garrosh, see him become more evil, see him change, see him become what everyone want to kill. Alliance just hear about it and get a prince squished in the process.

    Since wrath, the last balanced expansion the story just keeps going further and further into a horde only story and the next expansion just continues the trend.

    Either way, back to my point, use your free 90 horde side, you will not regret it. The story is good and more developed and it is worth the effort of seeing it on both sides. Why should anyone only see one side of the story, balanced or not?

  2. I mostly agree with Grumpy and have a similar historical perspective (mid-BC baby here). I also have almost as many Horde toons as Alliance although Alliance takes up the majority of my playtime.

    BC was definitely more visible on the Orc side of the ledger than Draenei, IMO, so I'd give the nod to the Orcs there.

    Wrath was balanced pretty closely but still, we had the Battle for Undercity, going in and basically reclaiming that city for the Horde even though it was Alliance originally. Not sure if it's fair for one questline to tip the balance but I think that comes pretty close.

    Cataclysm was a Thrall-heavy expansion which did give it a Horde bias, especially after his crappy pick for a successor.

    MoP has been pretty Garrosh-heavy and even when the Alliance are featured, it's in terms of their reaction to something the Horde is doing. Horde are driving the narrative. And as Grumpy mentions, Horde can actually SEE what's been happening, slowly, especially in Orgrimmar. Every patch new stuff happens... more guards show up and start patrolling, vendors are missing or will no longer do business, my usual goblin banker isn't available since he's busy being, literally, held up in mid-air by a guard... Alliance? Er... I think we did some repairs to the entrance of Stormwind, maybe? I couldn't even tell you where Varian is right now outside of cutscenes when he and the other Alliance leaders are magically where they need to be.

    The devs seem to be trying to feed a "WoD will be the return of the Alliance!" narrative but, frankly, I'm not buying it. Unless the new portal shows up right outside of Stormwind (spoiler: don't think that's the plan), Alliance and Horde are once again going to be teaming up to save the world from the actions of their now ex-Warchief... it's hard to see where the Alliance will have any plot over and above what Horde will be getting, it seems at best neutral from our side and strongly Horde in terms of what the other side is doing (and calling them Iron Horde just rubs it in further). And isn't it past time that we can at least group cross-faction with Battletag friends considering the faction leaders are teaming us up on a much larger scale on an almost weekly basis?

    I'm going to recommend the opposite, though, in terms of a 90 boost recommendation... someone not having leveled Horde should do that instead, preferably through Kalimdor. The Undead questline from 1-40 or so is by far my favourite in the game. The revamped Stonetalon Mountains have far more "For the Horde!" than any 3 Alliance zones combined. Or all of them. Save the 90 for a strategic move... new 90 on the main server if there's a need, or starting a beachhead on a potential new server, or following some friends, etc. You'd miss a ton of lore just popping to life (or undeath) at 90.

  3. Thanks Grumpy, I was wondering what to do with a free Level 90. I will also use another of your suggestions and make the character on the connected realm, when they get round to it.

    If TBC and WotLK were heavily Horde influenced then the effect on the Alliance seemed to be negligible. However Cataclym, MoP and WoD have felt slightly hollow in terms of storyline.

    From the destruction of Theramore, the Alliance wanted to dispose of Garrosh. The rest of the expansion was explaining why the Horde would want to it as well. Another expansion of "For the Horde" is going to stick in the craw.