Monday, 8 November 2010

The end of the Horde?

When making my previous post on the 20 most powerful people in Azeroth, I was struck by one recurring theme: how little many of the Horde races would lose from leaving it.

In the past there have been good reasons for the different factions banding together under the Horde banner. They were facing a large external military threat (whether it be demonic or undead) that was best countered by large, organised armies. Come the Cataclysm, that's no longer true. The main bad guy of the expansion is a big dragon, which isn't the kind of thing an army is much use against - that's more a job for a small group of elite troops.

The Horde has always been something of a rag-tag coalition, mostly held together by the various leaders' personal loyalty to Thrall. With that gone, what's left?

Sure, there's an external threat from the Alliance, but that only really exists because of Garrosh's aggression. If the other Horde races were to distance themselves from that, there's no reason why they couldn't live in harmony with other nations. Well, OK, maybe the Forsaken would have issues, but I'm starting to get the impression they're strong enough to stand alone. They don't seem to be getting much military assistance from their allies in any event, so they may feel they are having their hands tied by the Horde leadership.

The Trolls don't really need the Horde's assistance in retaking the Darkspear Isles any more - that job's done. Given Garrosh's bad relationship with Vol'jin, they're unlikely to get much help from their orcish neighbours in the near future anyway.

The Tauren are in conflict with the Alliance, but mostly as a result of their ties to the Horde. A little druidic mediation could easily lead to a ceasefire there, allowing the Alliance to concentrate its forces on Orgrimmar. Whilst they had a lot in common with Thrall's Horde, they have very little with Garrosh's. In fact, they're probably more natural members of the Alliance than the new, rampaging, Horde.

The Sin'dorei have only ever been members of the Horde for pragmatic reasons - culturally there's nothing in common. Now that Kael'thas is gone, the door might be open for them to re-join the Alliance too. That might be tempting for another reason, too. The only really dangerous force on their doorstep is the Forsaken, who aren't exactly famous for being good team players. Alliance troops in Silvermoon may provide more protection than a piece of paper saying you're friends.

That leaves the Orcs and the Bilgewater goblins. The latter do need a strong neighbour in their current state, but wouldn't really be a huge help in the war effort. The Orcs do need allies right now - they're in a huge war. But do those allies need them?


  1. An interesting dilemma that had never occurred to me! I think Garrosh taking over leadership, plus Varian's hate-on for the Orcs & Forsaken could definitely cause some uneasiness for the other races. I do think the Tauren and Trolls might become closer than ever due to their mutual distaste for Garrosh (Vol'jin and Baine both have pretty good reasons to dislike him), and these two races are very similar in spirit and culture anyways.

    I actually don't see the Blood Elves ever rejoining the Alliance, though. For one thing, the night elves HATE them. And the blood elves tried working with the Alliance before, and the humans turned on them and tried to kill them. While both the Blood Elf and human leaders from that time are long dead, I don't think the Blood Elves have forgotten this and would be very leery about trusting the humans again.

    As for the Forsaken on their doorstep...I think that's a double edged sword. One, I think the Blood Elves are actually the only race that are on semi-friendly terms with the Forsaken, due to their history, their mutual hatred for the Scourge, and Sylvanas herself.

    Secondly, Silvermoon is completely isolated from the Alliance cities. If the Blood Elves were to secede from the Horde and join the Alliance, they would be trapped in a corner with the Forsaken. NOT a place they would want to be. It would be suicidal.

  2. Technically speaking, I can think of few reasons for the Alliance races to stay in the Alliance, either, other than the Gnomes, and since they're more or less hanging with the Dwarves regardless, it doesn't really seem to matter whether it's the Dwarves of the Alliance or not.

    I get the distinct feeling that the needs and goals of the Alliance races are so closely aligned that we'd see much the same level of cooperation. I'd go so far as to say that the Alliance seems to be a bit on the homogeneous side; plug in a Human where there's a Dwarf, and aside from racial flourishes, it works in all but the most lore-heavy situations. Unlike the Horde, there seems to be very little ... conflict, for lack of a better word, within the Alliance. We might have seen the beginnings of something like that in Teldrassil, but it faded to a bit of a joke, ignore the grumpy druid in the tree and all is well.

    Both alliances are missing a real strong mission statement other than "Horde BAD!" "Alliance BAD!". I hope we get to see more Sylvanas-like storybuilding in years to come.

  3. @Rades

    I take your point about being trapped in the corner with the Forsaken - if I were Lor'themar, I guess the question would be: "But is that going to happen anyway, horde or not?" If he thinks the answer is "yes", then the Alliance may seem the lesser of two evils.

    I think you're right about the Alliance. There isn't such a strong military need for it to hold together any more (with the possible exception of the Gilneans), but there's a far closer philosophical alignment, which means that they have common aims without a war. Even without an external threat, I can the see the Alliance races cooperating, whereas I'm not sure the same is true of the Horde.

  4. @Grimmtooth once more

    An analogy has just occurred to me. The Horde feels a bit like the Warsaw Pact, with the Alliance NATO. Post cold-war, the commonality of interest held the Western alliance together, whereas the eastern one fell apart rapidly.

  5. @Sven - A very good point. The main purpose of NATO was to provide a common military command structure in the chance it was needed and to provide the unified face to the Warsaw Pact. Nobody really denied common cause, but all had had enough experience with "who's in charge" disasters to understand the need to have that settled and in place before, rather than after, it was needed.

    I don't really see that particular view expressed in-game from the alli side of the house, but it sure would work if they decided to weave it into the lore.

    I haven't seen the doings in beta so there may be some new lore tidbits to pick up in the council chamber ...

  6. Looking at the Horde - from an Alliance PoV - they certainly seem like they are on the edge of collapse. If they were all to stand alone, there is no doubt the Alliance would move on the Forsaken immediately. They have Lordearon after all.

    I think the Orcs would be in trouble, but only while Garrosh is in charge. I think Varian and Thrall could sort things out pretty easily, but never while Garrosh is in the picture.

    As for the rest of the Horde, I think there would be no major issues.

    As for the Alliance, well, we'll see. With a new ruler in Ironforge, the return of Stormrage and the Orc offensive into Night Elf lands, things could get shaky. Not to mention the newest Alliance race is already besieged by the forsaken. It's pretty solid at the moment, but let's see where it's at six months after the Cataclysm.