MS: People are freaking the hell out over night elf mages.
DW: Oh yeah, this has been a big can of worms. But again, the lore exists and has existed for them. Night Elves pretty much perfected the use of Arcane Magic back when they were known as the Highborne, before the Sundering.
MS: Right. And Illidan himself was a Mage before he went demon-crazy. Obviously, Night Elf society has wholly rejected arcane magic for quite some time -- like, since the Sundering -- but Blizzard has actually opened the door for Night Elf Mages just recently, haven't they?
DW: The groundwork has definitely been laid. In Patch 3.2.2, we see a Highborne Archmage seeking an audience with Tyrande, but that's hardly the beginning of it. We've had the confirmed presence of Highbourne in Dire Maul for years now, for example. Certainly there's probably multiple good reasons for the surviving Highborne to seek refuge with the Night Elves, considering they're the same race in all but name and some minor cultural hangups.
MS: The whole reason for the Night Elves decrying the use of arcane magic was legitimate, but if anything, they should see nowadays that with the advent of Mage Hunters and Malygos' insane crusade against magic users, there are far worse threats in the world than arcane magic. One of those is pushing too hard against arcane magic.
DW: Exactly, and beyond that, the Night Elves have to have mellowed out on their approach to arcane magic over the years, considering they're now part of an Alliance that makes extensive use of Mages. That, at the least, would leave enough of a door open for them to tolerate a resurgence of magecraft among their own ranks.
MS: And honestly, we see this kind of thing with Warlocks all the time, in almost all playable races! They're tucked away in dark corners of the cities, and maybe not publicly accepted, but faction leadership seems to understand that having any given type of magic as a friend instead of an enemy is a good idea.
DW: And it looks like Dwarves and Night Elves might not be the only ones accepting the arcane back into their repertoire. Orcs are supposed to follow suit.
MS: Orc mages are ... I'm not sure. Hrm.
DW: I admit that Orc Mages probably stumped me the most of all the new race choices. I think the angle we should go with here is Gul'dan. Generally, Warlocks are Mages before they take the plunge into the whole demonic level of magic, so chances are Gul'dan and the other members of the Shadow Council were Mages at some point.
MS: But then again, they were also Shaman before that.
DW: True, so it might be best to take another tack here. Consider this: Orcs as a race are pretty much a living object lesson of what happens when you get too deep into magic, especially the demonic side. The misuse of magic lead to their homeworld being torn apart, with even the few livable fragments left being slowly torn apart year after year. It's made them galactic refugees.
MS: And Orcs already aren't exactly known for their restraint.
DW: Right. And even moving beyond the actions of the Orcs themselves, they've lately seen more examples of misuse of magic leading to bad ends and near-catastrophe. Consider Varimathras in the Battle of Undercity, the extensive damage Malygos has done to multiple parts of Northrend in trying to reclaim all magic, and even the untimely death of Grand Warlock Wilfred Fizzlebang in the Crusader's Coliseum.
MS: And, lest we forget, half the major Orc villains are Warlocks! One of them was the original Lich King, without whow we wouldn't even have Arthas around!
DW: Haha, exactly. Given all of that, it may be some Orc Warlocks have just plain said, "Hey, whoa. Let's take a step back here. I don't really feel like getting my soul consumed by demons. Maybe we should tone down the magic use a bit." And Voila: Orc Mages.
MS: It seems like the most plausible scenario, and it's actually particularly likely given that Thrall is trying to teach everyone in the Horde -- starting with Garrosh -- the value of restraint.
Mage columnist Christian Belt's perspective: Orcs have Blood Fury, which for Mages will increase spellpower--a stat all Mages are quite enamored with. Hardiness will aid the PvPing Mage, as less time spent being stunned means less time getting stabbed by Rogues. Also, I think I speak for all of us when I say welcome, Thrall, to Magehood. Now if you could just teach us how to wear plate...
Night Elves have a passive resistance to nature spells. They also have Quickness, which provides a decreased chance to be hit by melee and ranged attacks. Mages everywhere are united in an intense desire to avoid being struck by anything, so we're in favor of both of these racials. Also, Night Elves have Shadowmeld. This ability lets Mages hide like the fragile little snowflakes they are. It can be used as a way to not get jumped immediately upon entering an arena match, or as a way to abandon the rest of the raid to die painfully when the tank dies, just like Invisibility, only you can now watch as Algalon slaughters them one by one from your hiding spot in the shadows instead of just having to imagine it. Oh, and a Night Elf Mage turns into a Wisp Spirit upon death, and can more speedily return to their corpse than they would otherwise be able to. Since Mages frequently find themselves involuntarily separated from their corporeal bodies, this will save us a tremendous amount of time.
DW: Blood Elf Warriors are the other easy call. I mean, I still have picture of a PC Gamer cover featuring a Blood Elf Warrior in full tier 1 Warrior gear sitting around here somewhere. They most definitely exist in lore too. In Warcraft III, we saw both Blood Elf Footmen and the elite warriors of the Blood Elves, the Spellbreakers.
MS: I think Blizzard justified it by saying that all of the former Blood Elf Warriors simply became Blood Knights, but everyone knows that's not the real reason. Blood Elves had access to "too many" classes, and Hunter was chosen over Warrior because the idea of an elf ranger is more iconic than an elf meat shield. Also, it was a pretty clever move to ensure that the Horde's "new" class for BC, the paladin, was given a ton of spotlight as the new race's only tank class.
DW: Yeah, but now that Blizzard (thankfully and correctly, in my opinion) has eased up on the classes-per-race restriction, we have our Blood Elf Warriors back. To me, Blood Elf Spellbreakers are more Iconic for Blood Elves anyway (I mean, come on, even in WoW, they're on every corner of Silvermoon city as guards), while Rangers are more a High Elf thing, so I'm definitely happy to see the long overdue implementation of Blood Elf Warriors.
MS: Right, this is definitely something that's been a long time coming, was a gameplay choice over lore, and will finally allow you to create the bishie emo loner swordsman you've always desired. Fist bump!
Warrior columnist Matthew Rossi's perspective: Since I'm the warrior dude... Originally I think the idea that BE's couldn't be warriors was intended to prevent two things. The first was PvP related: imagine all the warriors who would have rolled BE for the racial ability to silence casters. It would have rivaled Forsaken as the most played Horde Warriors PvP side. I also think you were right with what you said earlier, that paladin tanks Horde-side would have taken a hit if the only race that could play them could also play warriors, since warriors were at that time expected and established tanks. All I can say is -- I can't wait to use Arcane Torrent.