Horde: Good or Evil?
Blog Azeroth – Shared Topic for the week of March 7th, 2011
Shared Topic Idea: Horde – Good or Evil?
For years, fans of the Horde have described them as noble savages or, at worst, misunderstood people trying to make their way in a hostile world.
But that may have changed in the wake of the Cataclysm. The Forsaken have rolled across the northern lands of the Eastern Kingdoms, slaughtering all enemies in the Hillsbrad Foothills and seek to claim Gilneas for their own. The orcish war machine is rolling across Kalimdor, unleashing fire and devastation in Azshara and the Stonetalon Mountains. Horde NPCs even argue amongst themselves about the brutality of their methods.
Has the Horde changed? Is Blizzard merely clarifying the way they’ve always wanted to portray them? Or is this merely the start of a story about the soul of the Horde?
– Ringo Flinthammer
I’ve been thinking about this topic for the last few weeks and have come to the following conclusion: In order to understand the Horde and be able to make a judgement as to whether it represents a wave of evil or not I need to do the following…
– Play the RTS games
– Read the books
– Flip through the comics
– Magically go back to Classic WoW and play every quest, Horde and Alliance
– Make my way through every quest up through Cataclysm for both Horde and Alliance
– Not go insane after trying to do all the above in the few hours I have left before posting this
Since this list is impossible to achieve, I will continue in my usual vein of firing from the hip.
The Horde is not, I repeat not, evil. Neither is the Alliance, for those of you out there who have a less than stellar opinion of Wrynn and his crones. Now, it is important to note that Horde and Alliance forces and individuals have done some pretty despicable things, but the groups as a whole are not evil.
The big trouble for the Horde is the weight of history. As I understand it, the Orcs are largely hated (and thought evil) because of the acts they committed during their time under Mannoroth and the Burning Legion. The Trolls are remembered for their voodoo and witchcraft ways which at one time included cannibalism and sacrifices (although I believe the Darkspear have moved away from such practices).
The Forsaken are hated for being undead. I mean, let’s face it, no living creature is totally chill with walking corpses. They represent a violation fo the natural cycle of life and death. Their entire past is built over the ashes of the once-vibrant Kingdom of Lordaeron.
The Blood Elves are outcasts from the Night Elves that hunger for arcane magic, but mostly became allied with the Horde to avoid annihilation. The Tauren have some issues with their struggles against the centaurs, but are easily recognized as the most pleasant of the Horde races. They won’t really get much play in this article… too much tree-hugging to be evil.
Finaly, the Goblins don’t present much for evil in its most malevolent form. Mostly, the Goblins strike me in much the same way that the Ferengi of Star Trek do: they are greedy, narcissistic, and completely self-serving, but not particularly “evil”. Again, some individuals can be evil, but by and large, they are more interested in protecting their own hides than advancing some massive and sinister plot.
The judgement of evil essentially falls on the Orcs, Trolls, and Forsaken. (The Blood Elves might get some, but not enough for me to consider.) Of those, the evil acts of the Orcs were mostly committed during Burning Legion days. Those evil acts represent the base instincts of the race unbound from the morality of the race. The Humans, if put through the same treatment, would degenerate into wild savages just as quickly. The virtues of Grom Hellscream (i.e. realizing his horrible mistake and sacrificing himself to help undo it) make a more poignant and compelling argument in favor of the Orcs than against them.
Granted, in Cataclysm, Garrosh Hellscream has moved the Horde into a decidedly more warlike posture, but that is only in comparison to the relative calm that Thrall achieved through force of personality. Garrosh can be brash, but he is more concerned with defending his nation than the rampant extermination of civilizations (although I’m sure he would be perfectly happy to exterminate Varian).
The Darkspear, as I said, are mostly away from their evil past and any cunning plots that appear evil are more just self-serving moves to consolidate power or defend certain aspects of their society.
The Forsaken are the most potentially disturbing of the Horde member races. Sylvanas and her nation of undead are on the move in a big way, consolidating their hold on the northern portion of the Eastern Kingdoms and taking a big bite out of the Worgen nation of Gilneas. The undead forces have historically used (and continue to use) any means necessary to vanquish foes and accomplish their goals. The most damning mark against the Forsaken came during the Wrathgate battle where Sylvanas essentially stood by and allowed a sect of her apothecaries to deploy chemical weapons against friend and foe alike. In Cataclysm, word has it that the undead are systematically destroying the Worgen in order to provide new soldiers for their own side. The fallen rise to fight against their former friends, family, and allies.
But, from the perspective of the Undead, what were they to do? If they stand by silently in the ruins of Lordaeron, Stormwind (and now Gilneas) would eventually turn their attention to solidifying the Eastern Kingdoms and the task of cleaning out the Forsaken. Even with the possibility of replenishing their numbers via raising the dead soldiers of their enemies, Sylvanas could not have held out forever. She moved against the Worgen immediately so that they would be uncoordinated, unprepared, and as weak as possible so that the battle would end quickly.
By scooping up Gilneas, the forces in Hillsbrad and on over to the Hinterlands would only have the Thandol Span front to worry about (yes some forces remain in the Plaguelands, but the Blood Elves also stand on that side, so some help might be had). As it stands, the Forsaken have a two-front battle against Stormwind and her allies. Sylvanas is concerned for the welfare of her people, now more than ever since her personal vengeance against Arthas has passed into the history books. That sentiment is not evil, although her methods are highly questionable.
However, I am going to set those aside and place them into the category of errors on the part of Sylvanas and not on the malevolence of the Horde as a whole. The Horde is an alliance of convenience and necessity for its member nations, an alliance mostly concerned with preservation, not one concerned with spreading evil and chaos.
Leave that to the Burning Legion.