Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Horde: Are they really the bad guys?

The shared topic over at Blog Azeroth this week is certainly one that makes you stop and think. Whether or not you really get into the lore of Azeroth, more than likely you have some basic opinion about which faction is good or evil. I'd like to explore the idea of the Horde's moral position with you all.

This week's topic is brought to us by Ringo Flinthammer.

For years, fans of the Horde have described them as noble savages or, at worst, misunderstood people trying to make their way in a hostile world.

But that may have changed in the wake of the Cataclysm. The Forsaken have rolled across the northern lands of the Eastern Kingdoms, slaughtering all enemies in the Hillsbrad Foothills and seek to claim Gilneas for their own. The orcish war machine is rolling across Kalimdor, unleashing fire and devastation in Azshara and the Stonetalon Mountains. Horde NPCs even argue amongst themselves about the brutality of their methods.

Has the Horde changed? Is Blizzard merely clarifying the way they've always wanted to portray them? Or is this merely the start of a story about the soul of the Horde?

As a fair warning, I am by no means the biggest lore enthusiast out there, but I have done some minor dabbling. I know generally who was jilted by who, why one faction may have a chip on their shoulder about the other, the reasonings behind why some races allied with which side, so on and so forth. When asked the question "Is the Horde the evil faction in WoW?" I'd have to be inclined to say no, even as a member of the Alliance. In order to convince you why I would say this, let me lay out my rational via giving a minor break down as to why the Horde is aligned the way that they are. Feel free to correct me on any points I may accidentally have gotten wrong.

Orcs - These guys are given a bad name mainly due to their tempers. They were enslaved, tampered with by demon blood, hunted by the Humans...they've been through some pretty nasty situations. I think they have some right to be rather defensive. Did they go overboard with some of their killing rampages? Probably. Thrall has done wonders to calm the blood lust of his people though, bringing them back to what can be considered "civil." It will be interesting to see what kind of influence Garrosh has over the Orcs. We may need to hide the Shaman while he's doing the leading.

Are Orcs evil: Depends on which branch of Orcs we're talking about. The one's in Hellfire Peninsula? Yeah, I'd toss them in the evil pile, but the last I knew they weren't a part of the Horde. The typical green guy we see strutting on Orgrimmar? Nah, not evil. Having a temper does not make one evil, demon blood on the other hand...yeah, that could do it. It may be possible that Orc Warlocks are evil, but you'd have to question one's motives before casting that judgment.

Tauren - Sweet, giant, land loving cow people. The Tauren needed help, the Orcs came to the rescue. Because of that simple act the Tauren are allied with the Horde. It seems to be an alliance out of a sense of debt more than anything else, but it's what you'd expect out of such a noble race.

Are Tauren evil: Not in the least. Except for those flower-picking druids who get a kick out of ninjaing nodes. Their moral values are debatable.

Trolls - These guys kind of have a sketchy past. They deal with da Voodoo mon. Trolls have been known to be vicious. The Horde's brand of Troll though? I'm not convinced that those guys are evil. They simply want a place to call their own. They needed help, the Orcs lent a hand, now the Trolls are allied with the Horde. Heck, they shared a home city with the Orcs for the longest time. That brotherly outreach from the Orcs was certainly compassionate in my eye.

Are Trolls evil: Dey may mess wit da Voodoo mon, but dey jus be wantin' a place to call 'ome. Dun cross der paths, and dey not be harmin' ya.

Blood Elves - Shunned by the Night Elves, cast aways who landed on the shores of northern Eastern Kingdoms, sufferers of a severe magic addiction, devastated by a vicious attack launched by the Scourge. They lost part of their beloved Silvermoon City, they lost Sylvanas and many of their fellow people, eventually they lost Kael as well. The Blood Elves have been through some stuff. They're a bit callous, somewhat vicious, and I can't help but have my heart go out to them. They have known suffering. They're the drug addicts of WoW who have witnessed their families being massacred by the undead scourge. They needed help, and because of the past actions of the Alliance, they turned to the Horde (whom they found out Sylvanas was a part of, so they reluctantly joined up).

Are Blood Elves evil: As much as one would like to hate their vicious beauty, you cannot really call Blood Elves evil. They've been wounded as a people badly, and they're defensive because of it. It's a coping mechanism, and I certainly cannot consider them evil for using it.

Goblins - They're sneaky, thrifty, shady little devils. They're the new kids on the block as far as team Horde is concerned, and quite frankly I don't know a ton about them yet. So yeah, I got nothing.

Are Goblins evil: Depends on if they steal your socks or not to make a quick buck. They're kind of shady, so they *may* be evil...but are they Deathwing evil? Nah.

The Forsaken, aka the Undead - Out of all of the members of the Horde, the Undead would be the group that I'd consider to be the most likely to be "evil." They're a sketchy, baggy boned bunch raised from the dead for one purpose: to be an army. Ever since Sylvanas has been brought back from the dead (again) and the Val'kyr have joined the Forsaken, the Undead ranks have been swelling. Frankly, I think something has been done to Sylvanas to cause her to raise resting souls unwillingly from the dead. Before she had a right to be miffed at the world; she was captured by the Lich King, killed, and raised as a banshee slave until she managed to free herself. Now though? Something bigger is at play.

Are the Undead evil: At best I give them a possibly. The vast majority of the Forsaken have been turned or risen from the dead unwillingly, and rallied under Sylvanas to take down the causes for their creation. There's something more sinister going on within the Undead ranks now though, and while many of it's people are not at fault, something fishy is definitely going on.

So, do I believe the Horde are evil? As a whole, no. There are some rather sketchy characters within their ranks, but just because you have a few bad apples in the bunch doesn't mean that the fruit as a whole is bad. The Horde are by no means more "evil" than the Alliance, who - I say this despite my great love for the Alliance, her people, and it's cities - have done some pretty incredibly shady things themselves because of politics and in the name old, terrible, pointless, and often misguided feuds.

Has the Horde changed as of late? Most certainly. Garrosh is now at the helm of the Orcs, Sylvanas seems to have been tainted somehow, Cairne is dead, and the Goblins have aligned with the Horde. Politics have changed drastically within that few year jump that Cataclysm gave us, so of course things have changed quite a bit for the Horde. I think Blizzard's story line is simply progressing very similarly to how things would change in real life had this political shift happened. I don't really think it has anything to do with how they want the Horde to be portrayed, nor do I necessarily think that the current or future actions have anything to do with the "soul" of the Horde as a whole. Each race has their own reasonings for choosing the side that they did, and even the NPCs are nervous as of late about the actions they are forced to take.

It all boils down to politics and misunderstandings, neither of which I'm a big fan of, but they seem rather unavoidable. The plot is thickening dear readers, and it shall be interesting to see how the Horde keeps its fragile alliance together.


  1. I never quite considered the Horde evil, they're just more.. hmm.. bent on survival perhaps.

    The Forsaken story especially I find rather touching. There are people who never asked to become what they are - and I keep imagining that at least some of them must live with a certain level of self-loathing at what they've become. (The Lillian Voss quests are rather interesting for a perspective on this)

  2. I'm sure that a good chunk of the Forsaken do indeed live with a lot of self loathing. Hell, Lilian Voss was in straight up denial of her unasked fate and was in straight up disbelief that those she cared about would treat her as they did simply because she was turned into something against her wishes.

    However, it seems like some of the Undead have taken their fate and twisted it into something vile. The apothecaries are brewing up something nasty, and I don't think there's much stopping them.

    I think that most of the main characters and races haven't asked for their fates, but the Forsaken have certainly received the short end of the stick. I really wish they could simply go back to their graces and get some peace, but with the Val'kyr around doesn't much look like that's gonna happen : /

  3. Sylvanas is bat shit crazy. I had a friend tell me to do the quest chain in Silverpine, so I did and it just made me hate her even more (even though it was pretty awesome. I just did Gilneas and you know me my worgen cities.) So, I was bitter I guess. I did laugh however when Garrosh called her a bitch.

  4. I'm still not terribly trusting of Garrosh from what bits I've learned about him. He certainly seems to be the polar opposite of Thrall, which could definitely be a bad thing for the Horde.

    Now, I only managed to get through the first 10 levels or so on my trial Undead Rogue, but everything that I had come across was just grade-A sketchy. Having the Val'kyr bringing people back from the dead is just straight up wrong, but even so I'm not yet 100% convinced that Sylvanas's motives are really hers. Right now she almost seems like Garona to me, where she herself isn't inherently evil, but she just can't control herself no matter what she does.

    Actually, I've been meaning to link this to you Linds, since we've talked about Sylvanas a few times haha. The fella at Orchish Army Knife wrote a couple of fantastic posts on Sylvanas. They're tinfoil hat-ish, but he definitely makes you think about whether or not Sylvanas is really all her right now, or if she's back under the sway of someone else.

    Or she may have finally cracked from all the stress of being a leader, being kidnapped and killed, bring brought back from the dead as a slave, becoming a leader again except this time it's to a motley crew of people affected by the plague, being friggen killed and raised again...yeah, I would have cracked too probably -_-

  5. Thanks for the link! What a great, fair analysis of one of the most classic debates in WoW. Now, I'm pure Horde, so I'm admittedly biased, but I think you're right on the money. I honestly believe only Orcs and Forsaken could even come close to being classified as evil with justification, and the Orcs have a lot of grey areas. (I always say that they were manipulated & used just like the Night Elves, and if the Orcs are evil for being misled on Draenor, the Night Elves must be too for blowing up Azeroth.) ;)

    That being said, the Forsaken...there's a lot of weird, ominous stuff going on with them right now. I'm apprehensive, but at the same time, REALLY excited to see what will happen with them. Especially with Sylvanas!

    If you found any of the tinfoil hat speculation about her interesting, you may want to read a fictional letter written "by Sylvanas" a while back: http://is.gd/bVcwhy :)

  6. No problem at all, I absolutely loved your articles on Sylvanas. Sorry for not commenting as such on there, I really just fail at commenting in general -_-

    I can at least understand the angle of the Horde with some of their politics; they're more or less bent on survival having been forced through some rather unfortunate events. Alliance politics on the other hand...well, those are a different beast all together. Horde choices are usually based on the lack of choice and doing what needs to be done in order to keep on keepin' on. The Alliance on the other hand *seem* to have the best interests of the world at heart, but are often short sighted and sometimes rather racist, thus resulting in some incredibly unfortunate decisions.

    It will be rather interesting to see how the Forsaken's tale will unravel. From the story standpoint I really see them breaking away/being forced out of the Horde, especially with how Sylvanas and Garrosh really don't see eye to eye. Of course if the Sylvanas and her Forsaken leave, there isn't much left of a tie to the Horde for the Blood Elves. The Horde's alliance is just so fragile, so much so that I can easily see the whole thing just fracturing horribly. It'll be interesting to see how it all plays out though, seeing as though there's no way Blizzard would make players choose a new faction affiliation, or new characters in order for players to keep raiding with their friends. I'm honestly wondering if Sylvanas will be put down (for a third time) and if the Undead will see a new leader, and how the Blood Elves will take it.

    Thank you so much for that link by the way. I thoroughly enjoyed that letter! I'm curious as to what Vereesa's response would have been.

  7. For those of you who read these comments and want a live link to Rades' fictional letter: Dark Lady: The Rage

    I thoroughly enjoyed it, take a gander!