WoW Factor: Examining the composition of the Horde
Last week, we looked at the composition of the Alliance in World of Warcraft. This week, we’re looking at the Horde. Makes sense, doesn’t it? If you missed the prior column, catch up and get back to us here.
One of the things that’s always been true about the Horde in World of Warcraft is that it is, by and large, a more heterogeneous collective of races and nations. This is partly by design, and partly because the Horde just seems to have a different way of handling its membership and its populace. If the Alliance needs a group of skilled trackers in a new landscape, it’ll find its best scouts and train them; the Horde, meanwhile, will just befriend a local group of existing trackers and welcome them into the Horde.
Does that sound a bit off the mark? Well, let’s take a look.
The definition of “nation” is a bit more flexible when it comes to the Horde, simply because many of these groups don’t necessarily constitute a nation in the same way. Orcs are most certainly not all part of the same nation, but all orcs seem to consider themselves at least peripherally part of the Horde; what changes is their definition of what qualifies as “the Horde.” (Hence why we’ve got so many Hordes, I guess.) But these are still discrete nations with specific boundaries.
The Orcish Horde: There’s not really a good name for this “nation” for two reasons. One, Orgrimmar is just the capital of the Horde as a whole; two, Orcs organize themselves along clan lines, and it is really not clear which clans are in the Horde with absolute certainty. Some are definitely in there (Frostwolves and Warsong), some are probably or definitely not (Dragonmaw), and some are kind of unclear (Bleeding Hollow and Laughing Skull). There are lots of clans. But the point is that these orcs in their various clans do make up the bulk of the Horde, and the collective proper identity seems to be the Orcish Horde.
We haven’t had any one Orc Warchief claim to lead the Orcs since Garrosh, and there seems to be no design on that beyond looking to leaders like Saurfang. That’s worth noting, as will become apparent as we move further in this list; an awful lot of Horde nations don’t seem to have proper central leadership. Their leaders die a bunch.
The Darkspear Trolls: Trolls have always had a mixed relationship with the Horde. Most Warchiefs have liked the general Troll sentiment of “kill humans and elves,” but they’re a bit less fond of the sentiments “also kill every other race that isn’t Trolls, and probably the other clans of Trolls too.” The Darkspear are thus fairly unique; they’ve wholeheartedly signed on to the Horde and have thus grown much stronger than a lot of other Troll tribes, which are often beset by squabbles.
And yes, the Darkspear do not appear to have an official leader at this point, either; Warchief Vol’jin became the first non-Orc to hold the title of Warchief, but he didn’t get to hang on to it for very long. That being said, Vol’jin’s endorsement is probably the only reason for the current Warchief, since everyone knew how committed he was to the Horde as a whole.
The Forsaken: Even though they’re squatting in Lordaeron, the Forsaken don’t claim that as their national identity. They also don’t really identify as part of the Horde so much as allied with the Horde, or at least they didn’t until Sylvanas more or less became the new Warchief by virtue of seniority and Vol’jin’s endorsement. That’s not to say the nation isn’t reasonably trustworthy as a whole, just that the Forsaken have always been allies chiefly because the Horde recognized and supported them rather than due to goals or nationalistic pride.
The Sin’dorei: Again, I’m sticking with the convention for wider-ranging Elf races, as the Blood Elves aren’t just Silvermoon. They’ve also become more and more invested in the Horde as time has passed in what would seem like blackmail if it were intentional. The Blood Elves are too small to stand alone and rely on the Horde, the Horde needs them to do something that puts them at odds with the Alliance, the Alliance more firmly rejects the home of the former High Elves. So they’ve gone from being tenuous allies to being more firmly entrenched.
Mulgore Tauren: Much like the Darkspear, the Tauren of Mulgore swore to remain indebted to the Horde and remain so years after the event that prompted it. They’re probably the second-most numerous race in the Horde, and to the Horde’s credit, even Garrosh never abused the Tauren’s trust or loyalty. Sure, he accidentally killed Cairne Bloodhoof, the long-time leader of the nation, but his son Baine considered it an act of betrayal by the Grimtotem rather than being Garrosh’s actual fault.
Obviously, leadership of the faction changed a while back, but Baine has proven every bit his father’s son and remains wholly dedicated to the Horde. Which is probably why he was so eager to recruit other nations of Tauren.
Highmountain Tauren: Yes, this may be an allied race in game terms, but the Highmountain Tauren have their own nation, capital, settlements, multiple tribes, and so forth. Mayla Highmountain is even in a similar position to Baine, taking over the position of national leader from her father. Her alliance with the Horde is a bold move for her people, but considering the long tradition of Tauren as a part of the current Horde, it probably feels like a lateral shift for everyone else.
Suramar: Yes, this is the one time that I’m breaking with tradition and calling an elven nation by its capital. Why? Because the Shal’dorei hold nothing else. The zone and the city within are the whole of the nation, and it’s not a nation in a great place anyway, what with Thalyssra ruling more as the leader of a civil uprising than someone who got her position through any traditional means. However, it’s also a nation that can relate pretty well to the Sin’dorei, so it makes sense that they would want to tighten their bonds. Plus, there’s the unspoken but real fact that the Warchief is, you know, an elf.
Zandalar: All right, so they’re not part of the Horde yet, but we all know they’re going to be, so we’ll add them on here. And yes, the joke that this nation is having less tumultuous leadership than the Horde as a whole seems appropriate.
Are you thinking “wait, there are some obvious omissions in that list?” Because you’re right. The thing is, again, nations are groups with distinct national leaders. There are a lot of groups in the Horde that are not, in fact, nations… but they’re still pretty important.
Bilgewater Cartel: It’s not really clear what sort of overall government goblins belong to, but the Bilgewater Cartel is just a small fragment of the organization… and they actually control less territory than the Steamwheedle Cartel, if you can believe it. But they are a part of the Horde, even if Gallywix is generally regarded with suspicion by pretty much everyone.
Huojin Pandaren: Much like the Alliance, this is a small group of Pandaren led by a specific person allied with the Horde. Almost like panda consultants, really.
An undisclosed number of Ogres: Ogres, as a whole, are not part of the Horde. It’s kind of weird that a chunk of Ogres were ever part of the Horde. And yet some Ogres also are part of the Horde, and because Ogre political structures off of Draenor are kind of messy anyhow, it’s not really clear how many Ogres count themselves as part of the Horde. Certainly no one would be surprised if a larger chunk of Ogres joined up with the Horde, but as it stands they’ve got more of a case-by-case, village-by-village allegiance.
The Mag’har: The uncorrupted Orcs of Outland were part of the Horde as soon as they saw there was a not-actively-corrupted Horde to be a part of. Heck, one of them got to be Warchief! He did a bad job of it, but…
The Taunka: You probably forget about this particular Tauren offshoot, due to the fact that they’ve basically gone unseen since their recruitment in Northrend. They were a big deal then, but they were suffering from various attacking factions then, and it seems implied they were part of the Horde vanguard at the Wrathgate. Presumably they’re still a part of the Horde, but they are not numerous.
The Revantusk Tribe: During the Second War, Forest Trolls joined up with the Horde. That union ended when the war did, but it seems the Revantusk never got the message, or they decided that the Horde was a bigger advantage to their ongoing feud with the Wildhammer than a detriment.
The Hozen: Much like the Jinyu, these monkey-men joined up when the Horde decided to turn the Jade Forest into a battleground. Also much like the Jinyu, they’re still there but not really an active nation in the overall Horde governance.
Stonedark Drogbar: This is less a nation that joined up with the Horde specifically and more one that came along for the ride. As the Highmountain Tauren rebuilt their coalition of tribes, the Bloodtotem had already gone over to the Burning Legion, but the Stonedark Drogbar proved to be capable allies and signed on with the nation as a whole. So they’re still there as subjects of the Highmountain, presumably.
Yes, a category for things that are somewhat weird in their distinctions.
Various Orcish clans: Remember how I mentioned that it was a little hard to determine exactly which clans are still part of the Horde? Yeah, this is part of that same category. There are a lot of clans and no small amount of ambiguity when it comes to whether or not a given clan is part of the Horde, loosely allied with the Horde, or part of a different Horde. Not to mention that there are members of any given clan that may be part of the Horde while other members aren’t part of the Horde…
The (alternate) Draenor Horde: Apparently led by Grom Hellscream (who is sort of responsible for starting the mess that embroiled the Horde here, but let’s not quibble), this is probably a part of the Horde, but appears to be in a similar spot to Yrel’s Draenei as not being a full member while still retaining close ties. Of course, it looks like the uncorrupted Orcish allied race will be drawn from this Horde, so it may yet change.
Stromgarde: The main reason that Stromgarde isn’t part of the Alliance is due to the tireless efforts of the Forsaken to take over the nation. Unfortunately, it appears that two problems cropped up in this arena. First, it doesn’t seem that their puppet ruler is terribly interested in being a puppet; second, it seems that the Knights of the Ebon Blade may have completely derailed that project anyhow. So it’s not really part of the Horde, either. It’s a mess is what it is.
As you can probably see, a cursory glance at the various organizations reveals lots of potential new allied races, everything from Ogres to Drogbar that could make a resonable amount of sense. There’s also a sense of how diverse the Horde really is as a whole; it’s not stronger than the Alliance number-for-number, but it is definitely very diversely populated.
Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments down below or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Let me know if there’s something useful I missed here; as mentioned, the Horde can be pretty diverse, so there’s always the possibility that I forgot to mention one of the various sub-factions in play.