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No Love for the Alliance - Fact or Fiction?

Updated Tue, Jul 05, 2011 by Saia

Everyone who plays World of Warcraft knows that Blizzard has a soft spot for the Horde. However, I’ve spoken to several folks at Blizzard who let slip who amongst the founders plays Alliance even though the rest of the company seems to prefer playing as Orcs and Tauren. Even if such knowledge doesn't factor into the game itself, It’s still a nice thing to know.

Playing through the new content though, it’s all about Thrall. Now he’s accepted himself as Go’el, son of Duratan, rather than a thrall enslaved by a human, he’s not really Horde anymore. But that said, the Alliance hasn’t really had much involvement in major storylines for a while.

Yes Anduin got his fifteen minutes in the spotlight during the last Christie Golden novel but that’s not the same as the game. Novels and manga and whatnot are extras - things you shouldn’t need to read unless you want to - but because most of the backstory for Cataclysm was outlined in The Shattering: Prelude to Cataclysm you needed to. Or else, just read one of the various wikis which goes into the character’s biography.

Of late though, WoW’s lore has stopped focusing on the individual sides and instead on their common enemy. Like Arthas before him, Deathwing has - for the most part - united the Horde and the Alliance together to defeat their common foe. This time though it’s even more vital for the sides to lay down their arms and put aside their animosity, at least outside of PvP.

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Visit Hyjal and it's all about the combined effort.

The major NPCs of the Alliance like Malfurion also seem to have transcended the petty politics of the two factions. Hyjal, for example, is awash with the Cenarian Circle which has seen the Tauren and Night Elves standing united with a common goal. There’s a particular quest in which you have to go and kill some mobs in Sethria’s Rest and you find yourself armed with several Druid NPCs from both the Horde and the Alliance.

Aside from this, we’ve seen precious little of the Alliance as a focal point in the story of Cataclysm. Varian stands in Stormwind with Glenn Greymane at his side while his people rebuild the ravaged city, Tyrande watches over Darnassus, Velen is off doing whatever it is prophets do in the Exodar, the Council of the Three Hammers is still searching for harmony and High Tinker Mekkatorque is knee-deep in taking his beloved Gnomeragan back. The Alliance is busy with its own stuff but it’s about time they had some place in the game’s lore again.

Deathwing’s Cataclysm is supposed to have shattered Azeroth, to have taken resources from each side and made life that more perilous. Why have the Alliance not made attempts to take back Southshore and parts of Ashenvale? There’s no follow up on those storylines and even the Worgen, with their epic intro, quickly fall by the wayside and you need to roll a Horde character just to witness the conclusion.

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This is all we see of the Alliance; Jaina and Tyrande at the ceremony of Go'el and Aggra.

Yes Blizzard favour the Horde, they always have and probably always will. But, while the Alliance might be a tad neglected, they’re not angels either. You just have to watch the Goblin cinematic to see that the humans of Stormwind are capable of doing terrible things if it suits their purpose. The peoples of the Alliance are, in some ways, just as bad as the races of the Horde. No one comes out whiter than white in this story.

As we move deeper into Cataclysm, we need more faction-centric storylines or else Blizzard may as well just get rid of the factions all together. Questing in Hyjal is great, mainly because you are a champion and it doesn’t matter which side you’re on but outside of the new 4.2 content, it’s the same old story. We need more Alliance-specific content, we need more Horde-specific content and we need it soon. The core of WoW is the battle between the two factions and yet it sometimes feels like this has been forgotten in favour of the overarching storyline.

Very interesting commentary - could this lack of faction-focus be a factor in the decline of world-PVP in World of Warcraft?

Look at Westfall. The Alliance abandons their own - how do you expect them to jump in and help their sworn enemies? Warcraft III has me looking at Tyrande with suspicion even now after her attack on the Orcs over a little lumber. Malfurion suggested talks and she slapped him down and ordered the attack. Humans defeated the Orcs - and then enslaved them. Very noble. The Alliance leadership is composed of misguided and megalomaniacal fools who can't see past the ends of their noses and they always have been with the sole exception of Jaina Proudmoore. When the Alliance leadership grows up the Alliance player base might attain a higher average age.

Oh please if you're going to mention lore, don't purposely skew it to the point where you're outright rewriting the lore for your own arguement's benefit. After Warcraft 1 and 2, which included the Orcs wiping out an entire nation and causing havok to another, the Humans decided to keep the orcs in camps to keep an eye on them rather than killing them. Though I suppose the Humans should have apologized and said, I'm sorry for not letting you commit genocide against us here(bends head down) just cut off my head since were awful beings.

It does feel like Blizzard has given their favorite little pets the Horde the most attention where it exists, whether its lore, racials, etc, but I still see them sometimes giving some lip service to the Alliance, even if its ideas that they decided were too gimped for the Horde and tossed the Alliance whatever scraps of development they had left over. They still give the Horde the best bases, Horde get this giant castle, Alliance get a 1/3rd build base with a couple of tents which the oh so glorious Horde haven't destroyed because they have more important things to do. Its the same deal with the reworked old world where they gain land when they win the fight(plaugelands) and jack squat changes when the Alliance does(Swamp of Sorrows).

But sure, the Horde are infalliable beings who can do no wrong and all the Alliance are evil, besides its how the story will end anyways.

I think you both bring up some good points even if you bring differing perspectives on events into the discussion.

A very big factor - at least to me - is that Alliance is simply more heavily populated on the majority of servers, and Blizzard continues to try and find ways to make playing Horde more attractive. So it's less of a lore issue, and more a practicality of trying to balance out the factions.

The server I play on most of the time (Silver Hand) has gotten a bit better, but at one point the population imbalance was somewhere around 12 alliance for every 1 horde character. That's the kind of thing that helped pave the way for cross-realm battlegroups in PvP, and to a certain degree the Dungeon Finder. Now all my server needs is a cross-realm auction house so that you can find more than 10 items listed on the horde side, and we'll be all set.

But in terms of story, I do think the horde is seeing the most overall advancement so far in Cata. I mean, look at the Forsaken. They took over a huge chunk of land, meanwhile new worgen on the alliance side get shoved into Stormwind within hours of character creation rather than getting to keep their awesome new city.

If I had to guess though, I'm betting the next expansion will be all sorts of alliance flavored. Maybe not, but I won't be too shocked if that's how things go down whenever its announced.

I can see your point on why Blizzard may set things as they do in order for more people to play Horde, it just seems like a rather cheap way of doing things by giving one side a huge fortress and the other side a tent(and yes, I am exaggerating hehe) There should be other ways to make one side attrative that doesn't involve giving less to the other side, because then it seems like its giving a player a reason to NOT play one side so they choose the other instead. Still, maybe you're right, maybe the next xpac will be about the Alliance and Cata was simply mostly Horde flavered because the lore they wanted to work with happened to mostly deal with the Horde. Regardless I guess we can only wait and see.

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