WoW: Choosing the Horde

You may have noticed that all the characters I’ve made so far are Horde. I suppose I should try out a character or two on the Alliance side at some point, but I feel like I’ve got enough different characters going concurrently already right now. The main reason I favor Horde is that it seems more interesting. The base Alliance races are the traditional Fellowship of the Ring assortment, with Gnomes standing in for Hobbits. The base Horde races are monsters. The Cataclysm expansion has confused this somewhat by putting Worgen (essentially, werewolves) on the Alliance side, presumably so they can fight Undead in an approximation of Vamps vs Lycans or Team Edward vs Team Jacob. But since I haven’t bought Cataclysm, I don’t feel like that affects me much.

At any rate, monsters are definitely the more interesting choice here. The CRPGs where you can play a human, elf, or dwarf greatly outnumber the ones where you can play an orc, troll, or undead, and even more greatly outnumber the ones where you can play an anthropomorphic cow. Monsters are expected to be more extreme than normal people in one way or another, and can have weird special abilities. I’m not sure either of these points really applies in WoW, though — yes, Undead get to replenish their health through cannibalism, but every race gets something, and I’ve already expressed disappointment in how a player character’s undeadness isn’t reflected in the game mechanics in most ways (such as what happens when you die).

Also, the traditional hero races seem like they make for a simpler story, and thus less thoughtful one. Telling the tale of a Horde hero requires some ingenuity. How do you sell the role, make the player sympathize? In the case of Tauren (and possibly Trolls), they do it by making the so-called monsters into a misunderstood and oppressed minority with valid grievances against the self-proclaimed heroes. In the case of Orcs and Goblins, they do it by playing them for laughs and basically turning them into muppets, amusingly stupid creatures capable of slapstick antics. In the case of Undead, they go for broke and just make them fascinatingly loathsome.

4 Comments so far

  1. Starmaker on 22 Jan 2011

    I wanted to play Horde too, but one glance at the Night Elf lady raising her eyebrow (ahhh) persuaded me otherwise.

  2. malkav11 on 22 Jan 2011

    The orcs are actually made out to be a misunderstood honorable shamanic people whose murderous rampages over Azeroth in the first couple of Warcraft games have been retconned to have happened because they had fallen prey to demonic corruption. Also, between Warcraft 2 and 3, the “good” Alliance folks put the orcs in, essentially, concentration camps. So there’s that.

  3. Merus on 22 Jan 2011

    Blizzard certainly seem to have more fun writing the Horde; their arc is not as easy to work out, and the writers can get away with a lot more. Many of the changes in Cataclysm were done to bolster the Horde’s presence in Azeroth; they took a lot more land than they lost. (Then again, vanilla WoW was definitely Alliance-focused; much of Kalimdor wasn’t done on release.)

  4. NeutronHammer on 7 Aug 2011

    “Also, between Warcraft 2 and 3, the “good” “Alliance folks put the orcs in, essentially, concentration camps.”

    Time for a history lesson: those “concentration camps” were basically meant to keep the Orcs safe from the human populace who would’ve gone hog-wild on them for rampaging through their homes. Were they “concentration” camps, there would be no problem with the Orcs right now, as they’d all be dead. Hordies need to research their history more instead of being self-righteous.

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