Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Horde Favoritism in Theramore's Future?

Warning: This posts contains spoilers for the upcoming Mists of Pandaria pre-launch in-game event. Normally, I wouldn't even talk about this since it comes from datamined/unreleased sources, but I'm going to take the fact that Blizzard has taken the time to respond to the posts (including explicitly stating what happens in the events I'm referring to) publicly on their official forums as a sign that they don't mind public discussion about this. If you would like to read the threads and the official responses, you can find the first thread here and the second one here. Click the little Blizz icons to be taken to the first (or next) Blizzard post.

The posts linked above reveal an interesting plot point for the upcoming Mists of Pandaria pre-launch in-game event: the Horde under Garrosh Hellscream's leadership attacks and destroys the port city of Theramore. After the many losses suffered by the Alliance in Cataclysm (relatively speaking, compared to losses suffered by the Horde), some Alliance players are taking the razing of Theramore to be a sign that Blizzard is outright favoring the Horde to be the ultimate victor of World of Warcraft.

I disagree. The fact of the matter is that the Horde instigating an escalated conflict with the Alliance is the only way forward that makes sense. Both the Alliance and the Horde have suffered huge losses over the course of recent WarCraft history, especially in Cataclysm, and as such, both factions are trying to consolidate their power and rejuvenate their resources. It just so happens that the way these two factions go about this is in diametrically opposing manners that cut to the very heart of what it means to be Alliance or Horde.

The Alliance would most likely undertake this consolidation by renewing and reinforcing the ties between its varying races, as well as seeking someone to champion the cause of the faction as a whole, such as happened during the Second War with Anduin Lothar (and later Turalyon). During BlizzCon, Blizzard revealed that a major quest plot point for Alliance players in the future will be to act as a squire for King Varian Wrynn as he undertakes herculean tasks for the other Alliance leaders in order to be worthy of becoming said champion. Indeed, in addition to this quest chain, steps towards closer diplomatic ties between the Alliance leaders are already being taken as Prince Anduin Wrynn has been sent to study the ways of the Holy Light under the tutelage of the Draenei, who had until then been about as far from the center of Alliance political power as possible.

The Horde, on the other hand, is in the worst shape it has ever been in. The new WarChief, Garrosh Hellscream, is despised by most of the other Horde racial leaders. Cairne is dead by Garrosh's hand and Magatha Grimtotem's treachery, Sylvannas misses no opportunity to show her contempt for Garrosh, Vol'jin has been exiled and trusts Garrosh so little that he even sent emissaries to Stormwind City to ask for aid in the wake of the Zandalari resurgence, Trade Master Gallywix is certainly using the Horde for his own ends, and who knows what Lor'themar Theron is up to. The most obvious and orcish solution? Pick a fight with the Alliance to force Horde leaders to unite under the WarChief's banner.

Additionally, some posters in the above-linked threads are complaining that the next step they fear Blizzard may take after Theramore's destruction would be another Alliance loss with no consequence for the Horde. Personally, I don't think that's very likely because the lore itself does not bear that out. When we look at why the Alliance hasn't retaliated against Horde aggression thus far, two primary reasons come immediately to mind: 1)there were urgent matters at hand with significantly higher stakes; and 2)two powerfully influential proponents of peace were in perfect position to mitigate an Alliance military response.

The Theramore incident takes place after Deathwing's death, in the lead-up to the Mists of Pandaria expansion—an expansion in which Blizzard emphasized that there were not going to be any overarching doomsday plots that would suppress the conflict between the Alliance and the Horde. Even if we were to completely ignore Blizzard's emphasis on factional conflict, the fact that there is no imminent threat from the Burning Legion or Lich King or Old God-controlled dragon aspect putting all of Azeroth in jeopardy means that point number 1 above ceases to be. In other words, the Alliance can stop focusing on whether or not there will even be a tomorrow and start focusing on what kind of tomorrow they wish to live in—and chances are said tomorrow will not include a unified Horde threatening their stability at every turn.

As for the second point, the two characters preventing the military might of the Alliance from turning to face the Horde were Prince Anduin Wrynn and Lady Jaina Proudmore. As mentioned earlier, Prince Anduin is off studying in the Exodar, conveniently out of the way and unable to talk his father out of war. Lady Jaina Proudmore, on the other hand, is caught right at the epicenter of the conflict. Something tells me that this time she's not going to advocate for peace after the Horde levels her city.

All in all, I'm excited, because if WarCraft past is any predictor of the WarCraft future, the Alliance is about to show the Horde exactly why you don't rouse a sleeping lion from its slumber. I can't wait. >=)

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