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Posts with tag alliance

The Horde rebellion, loyalty, and leadership

imposting garrosh
Loyalty, and its limits, are pretty big underlying themes in WoW's current story arc. As of patch 5.1, the WoW poster child for complex loyalties and their consequences is Aethas Sunreaver. Aethas has a divided heart. He is a blood elf (and was, once upon a time, a high elf) and as such, he is loyal to Quel'Thalas. But he is also a citizen of Dalaran, it's his adopted homeland, and he also wishes to be loyal to Dalaran. These are loyalties he has tried to juggle for three expansions now, and they finally, inevitably, came to a head. Aethas' failure in patch 5.1 lies in either his own arrogance or naivete, that he couldn't see the truth: in this day and age, in Azeroth, those loyalties were irreconcilable. Once Quel'Thalas had decided to ally with the Horde, a longtime enemy of Dalaran, it was only a matter of time before that political division bore consequences for individuals. Aethas' own refusal to choose is ultimately what led to his choice being forced.

I feel for Aethas, in this sense. I sympathize with his impulse toward reconciliation. Why shouldn't he have tried? History was on his side. Quel'Thalas and Dalaran have, in fact, been traditional allies for quite a long time, much longer than they have been enemies. I don't think his hope was unreasonable, but it did turn out to be impossible. There is just too much bad blood - on many sides - for any sort of truce to exist at this point, and it will likely be a very long time before those wounds are healed enough for bridges to be rebuilt. Sometimes compromise just isn't an option.

Fair warning: there are minor spoilers for patch 5.3 below the cut.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Mists of Pandaria

War is All Hell: The use of moral ambiguity in Warcraft

There's a long-standing rumor that Winston Churchill allowed the bombing of Coventry, even though he could have prevented it via intelligence gathered by cracking German war codes, in order to preserve the advantage of having cracked those codes. Is it true? I have no idea. More important for our discussion, however, is the idea of that decision. Imagine a leader having to decide to sacrifice civilians in order to preserve an advantage that might well win the entire conflict. It's often called the brutal algebra of warfare - you lose 10 million here, so that 20 million will live over there. You send a company off to die so that a regiment can survive and accomplish its mission. One of the great horrors of war is not just that people die, but that other people have to countenance their deaths.

One of my biggest problems with the Alliance/Horde conflict is that so far, it hasn't really demonstrated this idea. We've gotten to see the consequences of war - the survivors crying out for vengeance, settlements and towns destroyed, cities bombed, even the ruthless pragmatism of a leader willing to find and use any weapon he can to destroy his enemies. But while Garrosh Hellscream has played the role of relentless aggressor to the hilt, his opposite number hasn't shown how far he's willing to go. Varian Wrynn's participation in the 'A Little Patience' scenario shows that he's a more measured and contemplative leader than he once was, but we've yet to see just how extreme the measures he's willing to countenance are. So far, the only time the Alliance was willing to make morally questionable choices to win was in Dalaran, actions that were clearly the work of Jaina Proudmoore and Vereesa Windrunner. However you personally found those actions, it can't be denied that they not only advanced the story but showed a new side to Alliance leadership.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Mists of Pandaria

Patch 5.2: Wrathion and the legendary chain

Patch 52, Wrathion, and the legendary chain
Wrathion's waiting for you, friends. If you have completed all the steps so far in the legendary chain, Wrathion will have some new tasks for you to complete in patch 5.2. While we still aren't entirely certain whether or not he's telling the truth about his motives -- or even whether those motives are bad or good -- we can be absolutely certain of one thing. As long as we help Wrathion, Wrathion keeps handing over the goods. And you can't really argue with that!

Last patch, Wrathion pitted Alliance against Horde in Krasarang Wilds and had us gleefully murdering the opposing faction in an attempt to discover who the true heroes and hearts of the Alliance and Horde really were. While it seems counterproductive to murder the army you're trying to gather together, Wrathion rewarded us with a nice socket for our time. In patch 5.2, Wrathion's concerns have shifted -- and his rewards are worth the effort.

Please note that there are potential minor spoilers for patch 5.2 after the break.

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Filed under: News items, Mists of Pandaria

Know Your Lore: Jaina Proudmoore and the Kirin Tor

Know Your Lore Jaina Proudmoore and the Kirin Tor SUN
The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.

For most players, the Kirin Tor are simply one of many factions available during Wrath of the Lich King. They ran the city of Dalaran, once located just north of the Hillsbrad Foothills, then later relocated to Northrend. In Wrath, players both Alliance and Horde could earn reputation with the Kirin Tor -- the Kirin Tor didn't have a faction bias. They were quite happily a neutral organization, far more interested in matters of magic and learning than any political matters.

But there is far more to the story of the Kirin Tor, and to the city-state of Dalaran. And now that the Kirin Tor has a new leader, it's taking those first few steps away from neutrality and into alignment. Because of this, the Kirin Tor has stepped into a dangerous new light, one with some ethical questions that are far, far more political than one would expect from a collection of mages and intellectuals united under one banner.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore: The evolution of Varian Wrynn

Know Your Lore The evolution of Varian Wrynn
The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.

We can't really take a good look at Garrosh Hellscream without taking a look at his Alliance counterpart, King Varian Wrynn. Varian is an enigma in his own right, although for different reasons than Garrosh. Where Garrosh was a character that was introduced and shown in every aspect in the game itself, Varian is notable for being ... absent. He wasn't there for vanilla WoW. He wasn't there for Burning Crusade. Varian didn't make his first appearance in game until the launch event for Wrath of the Lich King, and exploded onto the scene with an attitude that threw a lot of players off.

Where Garrosh saw all of his development play out in-game, even the odd disconnected moments, Varian saw his play out through a series of comics and novels. Most of his history is a big question mark to many players. While not quite as big an unknown as Lor'themar Theron, people still wonder -- who is this guy? Where did he come from, and why was he so angry when he returned? And perhaps most importantly -- where did he turn from angry leader in the Ulduar cinematic to the far more patient leader we're seeing in Mists?

Oddly enough, his story and Garrosh's mirror each other far more than you'd think.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Patch 5.2 PTR: The return of the unlockable Isle

Patch 52 PTR The return of the unlockable Isle
For a brief moment in time, it looked as though the Krasarang Wilds in patch 5.1 were going to be a return, albeit a slightly tweaked one, to the days of Halaa in Burning Crusade. This ended up very much not being the case, but the area still acted somewhat like a fond reminder of the days of open-world PvP. However, patch 5.2 seems to be bringing back yet more of that Burning Crusade nostalgia with the Isle of Thunder -- an island that contains elements that will be unlocked over time.

Sounds suspiciously like the Isle of Quel'Danas, doesn't it? Well, there are a few notable changes to the dynamic. Because the Horde and Alliance are working separately this time, instead of united under the banner of the Shattered Sun Offensive, each faction gets their own progress bar towards unlocking goals. You can see a glimpse of the progress bar above. As players complete daily quests and objectives, the bar will fill up. Once it's full, another section of the Isle will unlock for players to explore.

Blizzard recently released an Under Development guide to patch 5.2 that clarifies this concept a little further.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, News items

Mists of Pandaria is our Emerald Dream expansion

Back in the days of vanilla, life was very much about exploration. Even though the world of Azeroth was admittedly massive, there were still areas players couldn't get to -- tantalizing areas that were made inaccessible either by steep mountain faces, or simply being someplace under the world map where no one could get to. One of these areas was the Emerald Dream, shown above. Despite not being in the game as playable content, the zones still existed.

This led to all kinds of speculation about an upcoming Emerald Dream expansion. Players assumed that these files meant that we were eventually headed for the lush green lands of Ysera and her amazing druid friends. Yet despite the presence of the maps, it never happened. Ysera is now devoid of her powers as of the end of Cataclysm, whatever that implies towards her relationship with the Emerald Dream. By Cataclysm, it became apparent that whatever mysteries those old maps held, the Emerald Dream was just an idea lost in time.

Or was it? Maybe we're playing through the Emerald Dream right now.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Mists of Pandaria

Know Your Lore: Hands drenched in blood

The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.

The Sin'dorei have been a presence in WoW since The Burning Crusade -- and surprisingly enough, as members of the Horde rather than members of the Alliance. This turnaround in events was largely due to the treatment of the blood elves by the Alliance during Warcraft III. Kael'thas Sunstrider watched as his people were slaughtered by the Scourge, and set out to lend a helping hand to his supposed allies, hoping that they would lend a hand in return. However, he was sent to help Garithos, a man who was -- let's face it -- incredibly racist.

And in the face of that not-quite-blatant racism, Kael'thas turned to the only people offering any sort of real alliance; the naga. While Vashj and company helped Kael'thas far more than any of his supposed Alliance allies, Garithos was happy to find an excuse to condemn the leader of the sin'dorei, and had him imprisoned in Dalaran for his supposed treasonous actions. It was this waterfall effect that eventually led to the sin'dorei's withdrawal from the Alliance, and into the arms of the Horde.

Which makes the events of patch 5.1 all the more ironically interesting ... because it's happening all over again, but wearing a slightly different face.

Please note: This Know Your Lore contains spoilers for Tides of War as well as patch 5.1 content from both Operation: Shieldwall and the Dominance Offensive. If you have yet to complete these stories, you may want to veer away.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Playing with grey morality

Playing with grey morality
One of the reasons I went with an orc for my main this expansion was that I wanted to play someone I could believe would do some of the quests I was being asked to do, but upon reflection I started to wonder if I'd shortened myself out of some interesting experiences. Sure, it's fairly easy for me to believe an orc warrior would follow Garrosh's lead, but when I play my tauren I start to consider all he's seen in his time in the game -- he's been an active part of the Horde since Thrall first sent people into Blackrock Mountain to take out Dagan Thaurissan. He's fought across alien landscapes, taken on the burden of fighting the walking dead in Northrend, and stood up to the Twilight's Hammer and the end of the world. In essence, his relationship with his duties and responsibilities is more interesting than my orc, because unlike his current faction leader Baine Bloodhoof, my tauren has seen the Horde war machine in action. He's been that war machine, the very tip of Garrosh's spear, in the Twilight Highlands.

When looking at the quests I've done since arriving in Pandaria, one of the things that interested me is the idea of stewardship, of responsibility to the land. The pandaren are a noble people in many ways, but I could easily imagine a tauren finding their stewardship of the land wanting. Save for the Shado-Pan none of them really seem invested in the land's welfare or its defense. Keeping in mind that tauren are the survivors of a generational war with the centaur, who stole their lands and murdered them wholesale, I looked at the lands of Pandaria with his eyes and I saw the yaungol invading and I shuddered. Here we have a clear cousin people to my own, and here they are, invading and destroying, tauren become centaur, and suddenly it was all too easy to justify following Garrosh and his orders. The pandaren clearly can't hold this land, can't defend it, and whatever else the Horde might be it cannot be said that it isn't strong. The rise of the Thunder King in patch 5.2 only serves as confirmation that it falls to the Horde to defend Pandaria.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Mists of Pandaria

Patch 5.1 PTR: Reputation rewards for Alliance and Horde

Patch 51 PTR Reputation rewards for Alliance and Horde
Patch 5.1 introduces two new factions -- Operation Shieldwall for the Alliance, and the Dominance Offensive for the Horde. With these two new factions are new dailies to complete that involve the new faction areas in the Krasarang Wilds. Although the new factions are meant to encourage world PvP, it is not necessary to flag in order to participate in the quests. So far the daily quests involve gathering resources and cheerfully murdering the other faction.

And of course both sides have their own sets of reputation rewards available for purchase with Justice and Valor points. There is a reputation requirement on gear, but it never goes above Revered -- the only bonus to being exalted is the sweet new mounts that were datamined earlier this month. As for the gear, some items can be purchased immediately for Justice points, but the more valuable gear requires at least honored reputation to obtain.

If you're interested in seeing what your faction has to offer in 5.1, check out the full galleries below.





Mists of Pandaria is here! The level cap has been raised to 90, many players have returned to Azeroth, and pet battles are taking the world by storm. Keep an eye out for all of the latest news, and check out our comprehensive guide to Mists of Pandaria for everything you'll ever need to know.

Filed under: Mists of Pandaria

Know Your Lore: WoW for Dummies, Act I: Alliance

Know Your Lore WoW for Dummies, the vanilla years Act I
The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.

World of Warcraft was originally released in the US on November 23, 2004. That is eight years of our lives that we've been playing this game ... for some players. For many players however, their experience with WoW began in Burning Crusade, or Wrath, or Cataclysm -- or even right now with Mists of Pandaria. And because of this, it means these players have missed out eight years worth of lore and story from before they began to play.

One of the questions and suggestions I see pop up most frequently, be it on Reddit, Twitter or even WoW Insider, is what happened during all of that time? What was the story behind these expansions? Sure, there are novels and comics aplenty available for reading, but these are side aspects to the original games that didn't really tie into the game so much. The game itself had its own story going, particularly in those first couple of expansions.

So let's step back in time and take a look at WoW and the basic ongoing story that has kept it going all these years -- not the novels, but the game itself. Get ready for WoW for Dummies: the vanilla years.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Anduin Wrynn broke my heart

Anduin Wrynn broke my heart
"That was a close one! I can't believe you stood your ground against so many at once."

Oh, well, it was nothing really.

"You really have a way with people, Dawn. They fear and respect you."

You think so? I mean, I do try to be -- respectable, that is. You don't think I'm too intimidating though, do you? You really have to be firm with some of these people, you know, or else they don't take you seriously. Still, I've been thinking if I wore my hair down I might look less fierce. What do you think?

"Dawn, you did it. It looks like they're fleeing."

Of course they are. No one's going to mess with a two priest team! Say, if you're not busy after this, I know this great little place in Old Town. Maybe we could get something to eat before we head back to the castle?

Anduin Wrynn. You were gentle, but tenacious ... Also patient, and so wise for your years. You were nothing like I thought you'd be -- nothing like your father. Except for maybe your force of will. Yes, you definitely got that from your father.

When we first met I thought we'd become fast friends. I can't deny you were personable, but it was your earnestness that really struck me. The night after our meeting I remember feeling a hope that I hadn't felt in years. With you, Anduin, I knew the Alliance had a future.

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Filed under: Mists of Pandaria

Quest for Pandaria concludes with part 4

Quest for Pandaria concludes with part 4
The fourth and final installment of Sarah Pine's novella Quest for Pandaria was released yesterday on the official site. Part four of Chen and Li Li's journey takes them to the open seas, where they encounter a massive storm, and a tense face off between two ships, one Alliance and one Horde. While this is Chen and Li Li's adventure, the fourth part of this tale does a lot to highlight the feelings and tensions between the two factions in a meaningful way.

And it also does a lot to clear up timelines. At the end of the tale, Chen and Li Li have witnessed the clearing of the mists surrounding the continent of Pandaria. This places the mist-clearing event somewhere just before the attack on Theramore Isle depicted in both scenario and the novel Tides of War. Unfortunately, the tale did little to clarify what exactly made the mists part in the first place ... which means this may be one of those important plot points we'll explore later in the expansion.

Quest for Pandaria served as a an excellent introduction to Mists of Pandaria, and a wonderful bridge between the graphic novel Pearl of Pandaria and the new expansion. Part four is full of emotional moments and characters that you really don't want to miss. You can read part four, or the story in its entirety, in the Expanded Universe section of the official website.


Filed under: Lore, Mists of Pandaria

Know Your Lore: Why do we fight?

Know Your Lore Why do we fight SUN
The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.

Azeroth is a volatile land fraught with conflict. In recent years of history, this conflict has been highlighted by the battle between Alliance and Horde, a seemingly never-ending struggle that began the moment the orcs made their way through the Dark Portal and began attacks on the Eastern Kingdoms in earnest. But prior to the orcs, there were still wars to contend with. In early days, pandaren rose up against mogu, troll against aqir. Kaldorei against Burning Legion, and against each other in the process.

It almost seems as though Azeroth's destiny is one that is irrevocably tied to war -- we're destined to fight, regardless of who we are, or what we happen to be fighting. But why do the Alliance and Horde continue to fight? They've worked together in the past, and yet it seems that every time they are close to some sort of peaceful resolution, they are drawn once more to war. What's making the Alliance and Horde so aggressive this time around?

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Patch 5.1 adds new music tracks for Alliance, Horde

It's no secret that I love the music of Mists of Pandaria. But there's a part of me that missed the old themes and recognizable strains of the Alliance and Horde themes scattered about the old world. In patch 5.1, the Alliance and Horde will officially make their appearance on Pandaria's shores, bringing the conflict straight to the pandaren along with new scenarios, and new music.

Wowhead dug up some of the tracks from the PTR and put them together in a video that's a little over 45 minutes long. Despite the length, it's well worth the listen, as the glorious sounds of Alliance anthems are brought back to life, as well as a darker, more haunting set of refrains for the Horde. Included too are tracks titled "Jaina's Homeland," which are recognizable variations of the Dalaran themes from Wrath of the Lich King.

And if you'd like a little twisted fun, there's a track at the end for the new Darkmoon Faire carousel coming with the next patch, too. It's got that sweet yet slightly off feeling of any good track from a Burton movie. I love the music for Warcraft, and I love that we're getting so many music updates right along with patch updates. I hope we'll be able to purchase these pieces on a secondary soundtrack at some point!


Mists of Pandaria is here! The level cap has been raised to 90, many players have returned to Azeroth, and pet battles are taking the world by storm. Keep an eye out for all of the latest news, and check out our comprehensive guide to Mists of Pandaria for everything you'll ever need to know.

Filed under: News items, Mists of Pandaria

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