“The Horde is a family.” One of the final statements of Vol’jin, the second-to-last Wformer Warchief of the Horde. A faction comprised of outsiders and exiles, the Horde has survived through the Burning Legion, corruption, and countless wars. How did such a strong bond form between strangers to create a powerful force to be reckoned with? Let’s dive in!
It started with a simple idea: home. Thrall, the first Warchief of the new Horde and shaman to his Orcs, had a vision of a new land where his people could be truly free: Kalimdor. On their journey to the distant shores, Thrall’s refugees met the Darkspear tribe, a clan of Trolls that became indebted to Thrall through his honorable actions to protect their people and their leader, Vol’jin, pledged his loyalty. Though the Orcs were the heart of the Horde, Vol’jin’s actions cemented the Horde as a people dedicated to the protection of the oppressed.
Shortly after the Trolls aided Thrall’s people through the journey to Kalimdor, Thrall came across a new race: the Tauren of the Barrens. Plagued by Centaur raids, Thrall came to their rescue, trading advice and resources for protection and sanctuary. A mutual bargain was struck, and the Tauren (under the leadership of Cairne Bloodhoof) joined the Horde.
The other races of the horde then fell into place: the Forsaken saw a potential for what they considered to be primitive races to aid them in their fights against the Alliance; the Bilgewater Cartel faction of Goblins were forced toward the Horde as outsiders of the Alliance; and the Blood Elves, a race bent low by attrition and war, were also cast aside by the Alliance despite being former High Elves and advocates of peace.
These alliances were not easily formed. There were many battles and bargains struck before all factions entered the fold. Despite tensions running high and races having conditioned self-interest, Thrall kept the peace for a time. Then, the Cataclysm struck. Thrall was forced to look beyond himself and toward the fate of all of Azeroth, giving into his shamanistic nature, and bestowed the honor of leading the Horde to Garrosh Hellscream. It was a tense peace, yet peace did reign– But absolute power corrupts absolutely, and for Garrosh this rang true
It started with whispered war plans and ended with a bomb. In an instant, Garrosh wiped out the Alliance’s coastal city of Theramore and killed innocents. Unfortunately for Garrosh, some of the magi of the Kirin Tor studied in Theramore and the strongest of them all, Jaina Proudmoore, survived the brutal attack. With residual magical damage dealt to her form, Jaina brought the full force of the Alliance down on Garrosh.
Eventually, so too did the Horde. They saw Garrosh for the monster he had become, harnessing the dark energy of the Sha spirits of Pandaria for personal gain. Garrosh executed or exiled those who did not fall in line with the “True Horde”. This included Cairne Bloodhoof, once the trusted advisor of both Thrall and Garrosh, which shattered the fragile alliance left between Garrosh and his former people. It became the sole purpose of both the Alliance and the Horde, once again outcasts, to take down their formerly respected leader.
A leader always from the shadows, Vol’jin of the Trolls stepped up to become the next Warchief of the Horde. He saw peace where none was in sight, and led the Horde from the Mists of Pandaria well into the invasion of the Legion. His peace was as close to that of Thrall’s as the Horde could possibly muster after all they had been through, but there was harmony within the Horde once more.
A strained partnership formed with the Alliance to fight against the Legion for the sake of their homeworld once more, but tragedy struck both factions. The Alliance lost their King and sole leader, while Vol’jin was struck a grievous blow. Mortally wounded in the Battle of the Broken Shore, he proclaimed Sylvanas Windrunner, Queen of the Forsaken, the new leader of the Horde.
Now, the Horde have yet another ruthless leader. Typically calculated and cool in her approach to all aspects of leadership, Sylvanas is not to be trifled with. Her approach to conflict is iron and exact, blurring the line between moral and monstrous. She is not against baring her fangs for the sake of her people; in fact, she actively fights on the front lines to protect her Forsaken to the bitter end. But even for the dead, emotions never die. Even for the cold-hearted Sylvanas, the emotions of the past years have finally forced her to a breaking point.
Her history is one of loss and sacrifice. Arthas, the Lich King, ripped her soul from her body during the sacking of Quel’Thalas, one of the last strongholds of the High Elves. Enslaved as a Banshee, she suffered under the Lich King and served him in undeath until his powers began to wane and she was resurrected in her own body as a Forsaken, an undead creature retaining the form of her past life. To this day, she is haunted by the loss of her family, her people and her own soul. Her fear of loss and the fragility of life now bleeds into the Horde.
In the Battle for Azeroth, Sylvanas has struck the first blow. Though the Alliance attacked her Goblin workers in Silithus, who were collecting precious Azerite for the Horde, it was Sylvanas who took the first military action. Invading Darkshore, she incited the War of the Thorns and waged war against Teldrassil, home of the Night Elves itself. Told she has made life her enemy by a dying Night Elf of the Alliance, she states that, “Life is pain,. hHope fails.”
This is the story of the Horde heading into the Battle for Azeroth. It is filled with sorrow and fraught with flaws, but for the first time in the history of the Horde, it is a proactive and unified battleapproach they’re taking to the conflict with the Alliance. Sylvanas believes what she does, she does for the sake of her people and refuses to see them fall victim to life itself in a tragic twist of fate.
We don’t know what comes after the War of the Thorns, but we can’t wait to find out what’s in store for the Horde!