Favoritism is the favorite subject of many World of Warcraft fans as players are up in arms about Blizzard’s recent rampant Horde favoritism in their game, or at least in their opinion.

It’s quite a big deal too, with forum posts each day assaulting Blizzard’s recent decisions on Theramore being razed to the ground by the Horde in the upcoming Mists of Pandaria along with their choices the previous three expansions.

To get an idea of what’s going on, we need to go to the very start of this debate. Long ago in the RTS series we had the original two games which made the “Orcs” as the evil ones and the “Humans” as the good guys. The story was your cliché evil invaders coming to pillage and marauder while the good guys, the Humans, fought to defend their lands. Moving into WarCraft III the series actually developed a detailed story where the Horde, under new leadership, became sensible beings who worked alongside the “good guys” to save the world.

Along the way, the Alliance became dark and twisted, with their various exploits trying to ruin things in their selfishness (which caused the loss of the High Elves and other various events) while Jaina tried to rush around and keep everything (and everyone) together. The end result was the Arthas became the Lich King, Jaina had to go kill her father to save the Horde, and world of Azeroth was thrown into a huge all-out war that is still raging.

Moving into Vanilla WoW, we were met with a world divided, but the Alliance receiving large swaths of the love. The overall aesthetics were better, the classes were better (if you believed Paladins superior to Shamans back then, that is), the races were prettier, the PvP gear looked nicer, and everything was for the Alliance. The Horde resided in huts and shacks, had the horrible end of the stick when it came to the Onyxia quest chain, and was just overall unloved.

The Alliance, even with its leader returned, is not facing the brightest of days.

The Horde though grew, with each expansion, as Blizzard began favoring them more and more. In The Burning Crusade they gained Blood Elves which were instrumental in helping even out population balance. In Wrath of the Lich King the Horde graduated from huts and shacks to giant lumbering metal fortresses. Then the Cataclysm happened and the Horde just all out began winning.

The Alliance forces in Kailmdor are pretty much defeated with much of the Night Elf holdings burning or being farmed for wood. In the Eastern Kingdoms the Alliance lost most of its northern encampments to the Forsaken who either poisoned or enslaved the Humans residing there. Stormwind has been nearly destroyed with Orgrimmar has been rebuilt and if you play through the level 80-85 area you’ll see the Horde owning more of those giant lumbering metal fortresses while the Alliance watch their cities burn.

Theramore – The Catalyst for Debate

Yet, after that, Blizzard kind of lets the cat slip out of the bag about Theramore being razed to the ground next expansion. That sets off a huge debate about Blizzard playing favorites. Thrall is the central focus of the entire Dragon Soul raid (you don’t see Varian wielding the powerful weapon do ya?) and Jaina is everyone’s favorite hero out of the lore. Why push it to the point we take her neutral city out of play? Does Blizzard just love the Horde?

The problem with that kind of question is that it’s hard to say if they’re playing favorites or having a tough time balancing a make believe fight. Let us all remember our childhoods when we’re playing make believe with another kid with our stuffed animals/G.I. Joes/army men/etc. and the other kid makes a proclamation that their awesome Power Ranger has defeated yours on the basis that they said so. You then explain that no, you have taken out their Godzilla and launch into a full scale argument about who is better and who won.


The Horde, even fragmented, seems to be a lot stronger than the Alliance. Favorites or just luck?

In the end, either you two stop playing or someone mans up and takes the blow for the story. In this case, to fuel the fire between the two factions, one of them has to be the aggressor and one of them has to take a defeat. In a perfect world we’d take turns, but since this is Blizzard’s game and we play by their rules, then they get to pick the winner and loser.

Though, that is what everyone is upset about, the winner and loser that they’ve been picking. To play devil’s advocate though, isn’t the Alliance always the one that gets attacked and rallies the troops to go out and be heroes? Yet, there are players on both factions, so there is no endgame winning scenario. The Horde cannot be defeated because that is a side players play on. Unless the Horde splits off and becomes an NPC faction there won’t be a winning scenario.

The Proper Chess Pieces

Which is why I say: why play with the story of the Alliance vs. Horde when players are affiliated with both sides? It’s not fun to take a loss for a battle you haven’t even fought which is where a lot of the outrage is coming from I think. The most obvious solution is to bring in a new expansion boss and have all fret over him and less against one another outside of the battlegrounds with their vague story for why we’re even there fighting.

Yet, we’re not going to be able to have that, since having the cake and eating is something that, while plausible literally in the game, isn’t something Blizzard is known for dishing out. We will have to fight each other and do quests that involve one side fighting with the other. So, we come back to the original point: is Blizzard playing favorites and how can they stop?

Well, for all intents and purposes, I’ll agree that we’re seeing a bit too much Horde love, but I see the reason and purpose behind it other than Blizzard being Orc fanboys. As I said, we need a catalyst for a fight, and someone has to take that first punch. Yet, I think there is a bit more graceful way of handling it, and that is giving each side something to take away.

In a lot of ways, destroying Theramore is a graceful way to go about it, because Theramore is supposed to be more neutral than an all out Alliance stronghold and the Horde burning the city that stands as the “let’s all get along” diplomatic location than say, if the Horde just razed Stormwind to the ground another time. That of course leaves a lot of other issues, such as Thrall being the central point to the entire story (let’s give Varian some screentime, eh?) and the Horde just all out winning.

Remember, story has an effect on the game in so much as the crowd each faction draws. Blood Elves single handedly helped balance the Alliance:Horde ratios while the overall motif of each side is often credited for bringing similar players to each side. If we look at it from a purely in-game point of view, the Alliance still outnumber the Horde, although with a much smaller lead, so perhaps the favoritism has helped keep them from underdog status?

No matter the case, favoritism is just a fact of life, and we are too clueless about the upcoming expansion to cast aspersions toward Blizzard just yet. Let us relax, wait, and see what the end result is while supplying Blizzard with constructive criticism. Hopefully they will listen to the masses and give us what we want or deny us what we want to give us something else that we desire (such as a reason to play).

What are your thoughts? FOR THE HORDE! or should Blizzard tone it down a bit? Leave your responses below.

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Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016

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Get in the bush with David "Xerin" Piner as he leverages his spectacular insanity to ask the serious questions such as is Master Yi and Illidan the same person? What's for dinner? What are ways to elevate your gaming experience? David's column, Respawn, is updated near daily with some of the coolest things you'll read online, while David tackles ways to improve the game experience across the board with various hype guides to cool games.