It has been a long standing goal of mine to do Horde Loremaster, so I can see everything from the other side. I’ve been an Alliance player since I started playing, I have an Alliance character of every class, over half of which are max level. I have never really played Horde, I’ve done the odd starting zone but that’s about it. Yesterday I started on my Horde adventure. I have a level 80 paladin which I faction changed and so I headed out into the wilds of Azshara, a zone that has changed greatly since the cataclysm.
Since 5.3 launched there has been renewed debate over blizzard’s Horde bias. I know what I currently think about it, but I didn’t intend on writing a post about it, until I had completed Horde loremaster. My opinion is that of a pure Alliance player so it is hardly balanced. Then it occurred to be that maybe a before and after post would be cool, to see whether my perspective changes after I have seen both sides. Plus I wanted to get my two cents in before the debate changes to another topic.
History of the game
In the interests of fairness I will state that I started playing in the twilight era of Wrath, for anybody that’s ready more than one post of mine you probably know that already. So from a player perspective I saw the pre-Shattering quests and the post-Shattering quests. In fact I completed loremaster of the Eastern Kingdoms and was only 80 or so quests short of the Kalimdor version. So that’s my history of when I started to view the game.
When I first started to play I had no idea about lore and I loathed questing. Vanilla questing with the constant “go to X zone on Y continent for a chat, to go to zone A on continent B for a chat, to go back to zone X to pick something up” etc. etc. was a pain. I also swear there were more quests where you had to pick something up and the drop rate was awful, I think generally the droprate is better now. So what I learnt from classic questing was how much I hated it, I only went back and did loremaster for the achievement before it changed, the fact that I didn’t complete Kalimdor shows how unenthused I was doing it. Outland put the boot in, as far as I was concerned, and I levelled from then on through dungeons pretty much. All those quests, all that lore, just ignored. Alliance bias, Horde bias, who cares? I didn’t see it.
After I swapped mains to my paladin in Cata I went back and did loremaster from start to finish. So I saw everything post-Shattering from the Alliance perspective, I suppose this is what I remember. I did do the wrathgate on my mage pre-cata so I did see that as it was, I remember how disappointed I was on my paladin to get to the end of Dragonblight and not get to do it. It was Cata and changing mains when I started to play this game with more seriousness, when I started going to WoW Insider and reading lore posts, reading short stories, delving into Wowpedia, going to blogs and reading lore commentaries or suggestions. I’ll never forget some of the posts Orcish Army Knife has done and how brilliant I thought they were. I expanded my knowledge about the world, about the lore and why everything was as it was. This is my perspective.
History of the world
I think I’ve written a section of this before in another post, it’s ringing a bell anyway. It’s worth saying anyway – orcs are not native to Azeroth. For whatever reasons they had, and however tragic those reasons were in some cases, however much they were tricked, they still drank the demon blood and destroyed their own planet. I view this as an incontrovertible fact at this point in time, perhaps after I’ve done Horde loremaster I might feel differently. Anyway the orcs played a part in wrecking their home world, they then came through the portal and attempted to do the same to Azeroth. They sacked and burned Stormwind, wrecked havoc across the land, they invaded another planet.
Eventually they were defeated and they were placed in internment camps. On the face of it one race/alliance imprisoning an entire other race does seem wrong but they were the invaders. They were in a world not their own and with the dark portal non-operational at that time it wasn’t like they could be sent home. They were kept as prisoners of war and I’m sure that they were not always treated as they should be. However, they were kept alive at great expense to the Alliance, there was no genocide, it wasn’t a perfect solution but what else could the Alliance have done? Just set free those that had killed their family? Burned them out of their homes? No, they did the only thing they could. Was it right? It wasn’t wrong.
Thrall then came and freed the orcs and led them to Durotar, he formed the Horde, a family of misfits who weren’t accepted anywhere else. No-one is disputing the right of the other members of the Horde to be there on Azeroth, hell trolls are supposed to be the ancestors of the elves, one of the few original races of the world. However, the orcs, the backbone of the Horde, the head of the Horde, aren’t native to this world. That doesn’t mean they don’t have a right to live here, after all in the real world when people have their home destroyed we accept them as refugees, and we try and make sure they are ok. However, when you put that background to the Horde and then view it against their actions it doesn’t add up.
Maybe it’s me but I would have thought given their origins that they wouldn’t be pushing so much for conflict. I’m not saying they should just be grateful for what they have and not ask for more, but taking it by force, something they have done a lot of post-Shattering, just seems wrong.
So horde bias?
Above is the background that frames the question. So why do people think blizz might be biased? Some point to the gains that the Horde has made; Southshore, Gilneas, pushing into Ashenvale, the mess in the Barrens and of course the destruction of Theramore. I personally don’t view this as Horde bias, yes they were wins for the Horde, and yes the Alliance doesn’t have any comparable wins. However, if we are to look at this as two factions at war, sometimes it’s a cold war and other times it heats up, there will be losses on one side, and then losses on another. It wouldn’t be war otherwise, there has to be gains and losses and sometimes that means one side has a lot of losses. It’s just the way it is.
Others claim, and I personally find this much more credible, that blizz is biased to the Horde as they show the story for the Horde perspective. The Alliance does get to do things but the Alliance players don’t see that as it’s shown in Horde quests. The Horde events play out in game and the Alliance events are in novels and short stories. The Horde main characters get to develop, and have the stories surrounding them, they get justification for their actions, and then the Alliance just joins in.
Take Mists of Pandaria as that’s what is fresh in everyone’s mind right now. The big baddie so to speak, is Garrosh Hellscream the current warchief of the Horde. Yes the Alliance are going to raid Origimmar to depose him but unless blizz really wants to upset the status quo that’ll be it. We’ll go deal with Garrosh and then leave the Horde in peace, the same Horde that followed Garrosh’s orders, we’ll just leave them to get stronger, leave them with the land they took. I understand not punishing everyone for the actions of a few but any Horde who believes it to be an Alliance victory is kidding themselves – the Horde want Garrosh gone too.
Far more importantly than what does, or does not happen, with Garrosh, is the fact that the story is about Garrosh – the Horde is getting development. They are seeing their storylines get taken through to fruition. I’m sure that they have dangling plot lines and loose ends, I don’t know what they are as I haven’t yet done Horde loremaster but I’m sure that they have them. The Alliance though sees this Horde development, sees that the Horde are having their storylines finished and looks at their own dangling plotlines and wishes for development of their own.
This development doesn’t have to harm the Horde, it doesn’t have to be a victory over the Horde, it doesn’t have to involve the Horde at all, it just has to be something for the Alliance, something that continues their story. As right now we are participants in a Horde story. In the overall story of Warcraft that isn’t a bad thing, not if you are looking at it from the perspective of the story of Azeroth rather than one of the factions. In the past, and this justification is used a lot, in classic the Horde were participants in the Alliance story of Onyxia. So I’m not saying even that blizz is wrong with the approach they are taking, every faction deserves it’s time in the sun. I just think that perhaps the Alliance are due for their story to be told, for there to be development with Alliance characters.
We’ll have to see what I think after Horde loremaster is done. My position at the moment, as a pure Alliance player, is yes there is a Horde bias. The Horde story gets told in game, the Horde get their storylines seen to the end, and yes to add insult to injury right now they are taking a lot of the victories too. I would love to see some development Alliance side, would finding Calia Menethil hurt the Horde? Would showing some development up in Stromgarde hurt the Horde? Hell how about a little Death Knight love and see what happened to Koltira Deathweaver (which was the Horde death knight representative) beneath the Undercity, get Thassarian to stage a rescue or something.
Lots of dangling plot lines. Perhaps blizz should learn from how they have organised the Barrens, with it being phased to high level players, and have an expansion where there is War in Warcraft. There are no new zones, just phased old ones where the war takes affect. This would mean that the revamp done in Cata wouldn’t be lost, there wouldn’t be a problem with the levelling experience for low level characters. They might have to introduce a toggle for high level characters, who say want to go back and complete loremaster, but it would be a great way to work on those plotlines, to develop the Horde and the Alliance story.
So maybe this is just the Horde’s time in the sun. Maybe blizzard will end it’s passive Horde bias and both factions will get development, will get to grow, rather than just be support for the other. I don’t hold out much hope after blizz decided that Thrall was a world character, after he’d been leader of the Horde for two expansions plus classic. Perhaps as they see it as the story of Azeroth rather than the story of the Horde, or the Alliance, they have a different perspective and don’t see what we do. Only time will tell.