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  • Omegan01
  • Member Since Jan 29th, 2009

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Know Your Lore: The curious dissonance of Alliance leveling {WoW}

Apr 1st 2012 6:38PM In Cata more than ever before, playing an Alliance character makes one feel like they're casting rocks into a hurricane. You never really feel like you're making a difference as an Alliance player - at most it feels like you're slowing or stopping the rot. And the victories you do get are either pyrrhic or else mirrored for the Horde.

I think the biggest problem is that the Alliance frankly hasn't had a big, triumphant win (in the sense of a victory that makes one want to fling their hands up in the air and shout 'For the Alliance) since Warcraft II. Really. Warcraft II.

Think about it.

Warcraft III and TFT were all about stomping on the Alliance's face, with the sole bright point being the victory at Hyjal...but that's more a victory for the world as a whole, for the combined Alliance/Horde/night elf forces over the Legion, not something for the Alliance as a faction.

This trend continues in WoW. In vanilla wow the biggest in-game event was the opening of Ahn'Qiraj, but that was bi-factional and Saurfang was the guy who got the Big Damn Speech when the gates opened


In BC, the Alliance and the Horde were each given two major story lines - the Horde had the reunification with the mag'har and the plight of the blood elves, while the Alliance had the story of recovering the lost expedition and the return of the draenei to their lost world.

Both of the Horde storylines came to a definitive conclusion - Garrosh was empowered by the news of his father's legacy, while the traitor Kael'thas was deposed and the Sunwell was reignited, providing a new beginning for the elves. Both of these storyliens also had ramifications in Wrath.

On the other hand, neither of the Alliance's stories came to a definitive conclusion - finding and questing with Danath was a major win, but Khadgar did almost nothing besides act as A'dal's spokesman, and Kurdran did nothing at all. Turalyon and Alleria (largely considered the most important of the five heroes) were teased at through their son, but never found. The draenei, meanwhile, showed almost no storyline at all in regards to their lost cousins - the Aldor, the Kurenai, the Ashtongue, there was no resolution, or even much acknowledgement between them and those on the Exodar


Moving on to Wrath, which a lot of players point to as the Alliance-flavored of the expansions. The expansion started out with a major, major piece of Alliance lore, the Knights of the Silver Hand, getting ripped out wholesale and presented as a neutral anti-Scourge group friendly to both factions, without so much as a hint of antipathy for the Horde. Dalaran, a former Alliance city-state, likewise went neutral and invited the Horde (including the Forsaken who had quests to kill their citizens in vanilla) into their streets.

Some players scoff at the importance of this, but this kind of act (and that of the defenders of Hyjal in Cata) drastically undercuts the Alliance as a faction. By tearing out these major, major themes, it makes the Alliance feel less flavorful, because the Horde gets to enjoy their own factional themes, and the Alliance's as well. To be fair, some of it goes the other way (Earthen Ring, for example) but the importance of the effective loss of these themes just can't be understated.

But moreover, look at Alliance questing in Wrath (I largely ignored questing in BC because so much of it was mirrored). What does the Alliance gain in Wrath? Okay, they get Muradin Bronzebeard back, that's one. But what else? The humans, gnomes and dwarves learn their origins...but what meaning does that have for them? What effects do we see from these revelations?

Despite the Alliance 'flavor' of the expansion, the major story between the factions was Horde-driven - Garrosh's story progressed and the Wrathgate and Battle for the Undercity revealed the depths of depravity to which some of the Forsaken had sunk, firing on their own allies and turning on Sylvanas to serve the Burning Legion. The resulting Horde story? The Horde truimphantly returns to Undercity, bulldozes the apothecarium traitors and the Legion forces and kills Varimathras. The Alliance story? The Alliance attacks Undercity through the sewers in an attempt to retake the place, kills Putress, Varian has his big "what have they done" moment...then Alliance players all get kicked out of the place because Jaina flinches. Net result? Horde story progresses, Saurfang gets facetime with the pathos over his lost son, while the Alliance have nothing to show for it aside from a lost faction leader (and a fairly major character) and the somber ending note of "we'll see what war brings."

This is followed up with the Broken Front story, where Alliance players learn about how the Horde rushed an Alliance army engaged with the Scourge from behind, resulting in both armies getting wiped out. Then they have to go through the ordeal of mercy-killing Alliance soldiers (while Horde players get to mercy-kill...Alliance soldiers)


And finally we come to Cataclysm. Cataclysm, where Gilneas ends with your character being evacuated in the face of a Horde invasion, Westfall ends with Sentinel Hill on fire from the Defias, Redridge ends with the deaths of Bravo Company, Darkshore ends with the night elves' major character getting tricked by the bad guys, Stonetalon makes you watch a school get nuked, Andorhal ends in retreat, Swamp of Sorrows ends with no change...and the major character of the expansion is the guy formerly in charge of your enemy faction. And you're expected to like him.

Here's what it all comes to-Allaince questing rarely, if ever, makes you feel empowered. I know a lot of Horde players hate the things you end up doing in some zones (Hillsbrad, Stonetalon) but those zones make you feel powerful. You're walking all over the bad guys. In Alliance questing, this just never pulls together. Zones with an overarching story end with ignominous retreats or pyrrhic victories, and the few wins players do get (Wetlands, early Darkshore) are largely against non-player factions. Never the Horde itself.

Meanwhile the Alliance's overall story spins its wheels, going nowhere at top speed. Faction leaders seem to do nothing, your major characters are takeoffs of pop culture (John J. Keeshan and Horatio Lane) or downright silly (Flintlocke...oh god Flintlocke), and most importantly Cataclysm never gives you reason to make you feel like you've accomplished anything - at most you've held the line.

Know Your Lore: The curious dissonance of Alliance leveling {WoW}

Apr 1st 2012 6:35PM Frankly, losing Hawthorne isn't even the worst part of South Barrens questing for the Alliance.

It's the end, where you watch Bael Modan get bombed, attempt a momentary revenge by collapsing a Horde mine, and then this is the last quest you're given:

"Hawthorne dead... my own son murdered... the situation in the Barrens is out of control, .

I'm going to take charge of Fort Triumph and try to lock things down. To do that, I'm going to need reinforcements. Reinforcements that were promised from Theramore weeks ago!

Travel to Theramore in Dustwallow Marsh and give Captain Garran Vimes an earful. What good is that blasted road through the swamp if the men and materiel aren't rolling in?"

No matter which side you play, Southern Barrens ends with the Alliance struggling to avoid destruction.

THIS is the problem with the Alliance: Blizzard constantly writes them as being mired in ignominous failures, pyrrhic victories, and overall wallowing in a doldrums that they've been stuck in since before WoW even started.

What the Alliance needs is VICTORIES, not some fairy-dust "lighthearted moments." The Alliance already has plenty of "lighthearted moments" and frankly, players hate most of them because they feel like they've been written as a distraction from the story and not actually part of the narrative.

It feels like Blizzard saying, "The people of Westfall are suffering and Sentinel Hill is on fire, and you can't do a thing to prevent either, but, um... OOO LOOK AT HORATIO LANE, LOOK AT THE PUNS, ISN'T HE FUNNY GUYS, ISN'T HE? GUYS?"

As I wrote recently on the story forum-

(hang on, I'll just reprint the entire post. It'll be long, so TL;DR folks can just scroll down.)

Mists of Pandaria Beta: Watch the Alliance intro to Pandaria {WoW}

Mar 30th 2012 1:41AM It's Theramore, actually (the Theramore tabard is the same as Kul Tiras' but with white backing instead of green).

The woman in question is Grand Admiral Jes-Tereth, and she's been around since vanilla. About bloody time she got some attention.

Mists of Pandaria Beta: Watch the Alliance intro to Pandaria {WoW}

Mar 29th 2012 8:56PM Grand Admiral Jes-Tereth getting a speaking role is great.

It's so jarring to see a night elf doing things like using holograms and flying bombers. I kind of wish the guy had been a gnome. Gnomes could use some love.

That damaged plane slamming itself into the Horde ship was epic. I almost - ALMOST - want them to put in some orcs screaming "INCREASE FORWARD CANNON FIRE!" and "TOO LATE!" before it hits.

Mists of Pandaria Beta: Watch the Horde intro to Pandaria {WoW}

Mar 29th 2012 7:16PM @RetPallyJil

As I said above in response to your own comment, the problem is Jil, we have no reason to believe anyone else in the Horde has any reason to owe Orgrimmar any money at all.

If Orgrimmar has no money to -lend- in the first place (and remember, this was a plot point in the Shattering) nobody is going to end up in debt to them unless Garrosh just arbitrarily decides "your contribution to our war with the Alliance is [X percentage] less than my people's own. You'll make it up with gold."

Mists of Pandaria Beta: Watch the Horde intro to Pandaria {WoW}

Mar 29th 2012 7:13PM Thing is though, Jil, how does the fact that the blood elves have been rebuilding their city necessarily follow to them being in debt to Orgrimmar? I mean, it's not like we see orc labor being used to restore Silvermoon, or orcish brigades reinforcing Quel'thalas.

As far as we know, the blood elves have been paying for the restoration effort out of their own pocket, entirely self-contained, with their own people doing the work, which means the money never leaves Quel'thalas. And there's certainly no word of them taking out a loan from the Bank of Orgrimmar to pay for it.

More likely, Garrosh knows that Silvermoon (a city gilded in gold and precious metals) is a far richer place than Thunder Bluff, and so demands more cash out of the elves than he does the tauren.

Mists of Pandaria Beta: Watch the Horde intro to Pandaria {WoW}

Mar 29th 2012 7:07PM @Boobah

'A "loyalty tax"? Seriously? And wondering what the orcs contribute?'

Uh, yes. Seriously. What do the orcs contribute to the Horde's economy? The immediate answer is 'nothing.' We know they're so short on food that the military resorts to stealing rice from the trolls and goblins. Their livestock likewise go straight to the military's stomachs. To our knowledge, Orgrimmar produces nothing apart from war materiel.

The implementation of a "loyalty tax" of some kind is the most reasonable explanation for the other cities of the Horde apparently being in debt to Orgrimmar, despite major plot points in the past about how the orcs' economy is in the crapper and they can't even produce drinkable water for their own population, importing it from Mulgore.

The simplest explanation for all three of the other major Horde cities (remember, it's not one, or two, but all three) somehow owing Orgrimmar money is that Garrosh realized that with the orcish military mired in unending conflict in Ashenvale and elsewhere (rather than the quick, decisive victories he wanted), the only way to fill up a rapidly-depleting war chest was to begin demanding that the other members of the Horde begin propping him up financially, sacrificing the good of their economies for the sake of his own.

Essentially, Garrosh Hellscream wants an Orgrimmar bailout.

And the rest of the Horde doesn't seem to want to put up.

Mists of Pandaria Beta: Watch the Horde intro to Pandaria {WoW}

Mar 29th 2012 3:08PM @Jeff

Your just brought forth this image in my head of Garrosh ordering the Darkspear trolls to pay up on his new loyalty tax and on the due date he gets a box from Sen'jin Village with a note attached saying "here is all the tribute the Shadow Hunter intends to give."

Garrosh opens it up and inside the box is nothing but a black-feathered arrow.

Garrosh then quietly cancels the Darkspears' debt and spends the rest of the day hiding under the bed.

Mists of Pandaria Beta: Watch the Horde intro to Pandaria {WoW}

Mar 29th 2012 2:12PM @ Shinae

That's an iffy thing, though. Orc territory really hasn't expanded very much past vanilla, and remember, all that iron, stone, and lumber they're culling is immediately getting turned around to churn out demolishers, warships, fortresses, weapons and armor for soliders, etc.

Unless the orcs just came into SO MUCH material wealth that they can furnish their entire military effort AND have enough left over to sell it off to their allies, and that I'd have to take with a few grains of salt.

And even then, if we took the above part on faith, that still leaves the question - why would the other nations be buying from them? The Forsaken have been materially independant as far as we know since they joined. You might make a case for the tauren needing lumber for that big-ass Mulgore wall, but that sill leaves Silvermoon owing a ridiculous amount of money for no apparent reason.

Mists of Pandaria Beta: Watch the Horde intro to Pandaria {WoW}

Mar 29th 2012 1:48PM Good point Jeff, I hadn't noticed that. Perhaps Garrosh simply thinks the trolls beneath his notice, or else simply too poor to prop up Orgrimmar's economy in any meaningful way. Silvermoon's debt being so much higher than TB and UC's makes me think he decided to go after (what seems to him like) the big fish first.