Updated Fri, Nov 11, 2011 by Saia
Once upon a time in vanilla World of Warcraft, the Alliance didn’t have a leader. Varian Wrynn, King of Stormwind, was AFK and nowhere to be found. This is the story of how he actually attempted to became a leader to rival Chris Metzen’s favourite poster orc. Join us as we look at how he got where he is now and speculate on what his role is going in the next expansion.
Most Alliance players head to Stormwind and once there, they’ll usually run into Varian Wrynn. He stands as the leader of the Alliance beside his son Anduin and Worgen leader Genn Greymane. But, when the game first started, originally there was just Anduin there, watched over by Onyxia-in-disguise, Katrana Prestor and future Jailor of the Damned, Bolvar Fordragon. No one knew what had happened to the king but the Alliance’s champions were sent on a quest to find out, although we only found out the answer in the comics.
Varian had been kidnapped and half-drowned, eventually finding himself sold as a Gladiator which he was surprisingly good at, earning the name Lo'Gosh or Ghost Wolf, one of the ancient names of the Ancient Goldrinn. Eventually he returned to Stormwind, took back his throne and ended Onyxia’s reign of terror. Since that time though, he had harboured a hated for the Orcs who enslaved him and the Gilnean King who abandoned the Alliance and is only now coming to terms with his past.
The comics were epic, they gave us a quest that transcended Horde and Alliance politics, saw Varian finally deal canonically with Onyxia - even though we’ve all killed her ten times or more a piece - and they saw him take hold of the Alliance and become it’s figurehead.
Varian might be the de facto leader of the Alliance but just doesn’t seem to have the pull, the power or the presence of either Thrall or current Warchief, Garrosh. He doesn’t really inspire the same loyalty in the Alliance either, having been missing in action for first couple of years of WoW.
The King is back!
The thing is, Varian Wrynn needs a new in-game storyline that gives Horde players a reason to fear him and Alliance players a reason to respect him. Yes, he’s rebuilt Stormwind and gotten himself a massive statue outside his castle but has he really earned it?
Varian is the latest racial leader to have his own short story. This focused on his love for his family, his grief at the lose of Tiffin but also at his concern that Anduin wouldn’t be as good a king as he could be. Varian is a warrior, his son is a healer but that doesn’t make either of them any less the monarchs they must be. The story also nearly saw him die at the hands of Twilight's Hammer assassins, only to be saved by his son.
The end of the Cataclysm storyline and the beginning of the Mists one is the perfect time to give Varian and Anduin more storylines. Both need their epic quest lines, something which will really make players able to connect with the current monarch and the future king. Varian needs to either man up, lead the Alliance and be a strong leader or die and pass the mantle on to his son. Frankly either is preferable to a king who just sits in his throne room and waits for the next disaster to strike. While we don’t know what the Horde-biased devs at Blizzard will pull out of a hat next, it would be a great move at really gives the Alliance players out there something to focus on, a new sense of unity. Indeed it was hinted at BlizzCon that Varian would be getting his own questline in Mists of Pandaria to prove that he is the rightful leader of the Alliance and that he will go and gain the respect of each of the faction leaders. Hopefully they'll take this chance to make something more of Varian than yet another NPC sitting in the capital hoping for his chance to shine one day..
So how do you think Varian Wrynn should be remembered? How should he take control of his own life and the Alliance? Alternatively, should he die in a blaze of glory so Anduin can take the reigns? Let us know in the comments box below.