Trolls have been a part of World of Warcraft since it launched. No, I’m not talking about the jerks who make playing the game far less pleasant than it could otherwise be, although they’re definitely on the list; I’m talking about the race of Trolls. Yes, the betusked Jamaican-sounding tall folks who have some very odd conceptions about what voodoo is and whether or not you should get it or stay away from it. You know, Trolls.
Of course, even since launch there have been a lot of different sorts of trolls out there, and in the time that’s gone by since we’ve actually seen a number of additional trolls get rolled out and added to the lineup, to the point that I was pretty sure I could make an entire list of this column populated solely by the different kinds of troll we see in the game. Since you are reading that column right now, it was obviously true. Welcome to the Troll tour.
1. Jungle trolls
For many years, your options for playing a Troll as a player were… well, limited to this. (The new customizations promised for trolls seem to imply being almost any troll race now.) The Darkspear tribe of Jungle Trolls were the biggest allies of the Horde, and thus they were the playable race right out of the gate; beyond that, there are plenty of these trolls down in Stranglethorn Vale.
Initially, there was some debate about whether there were two subsets of this particular Troll subrace and if Jungle and Island were two separate groups, but it appears we’ve come down on the side of “they’re the same sort of thing, we have enough Troll groups.” After the other huge number.
2. Ice trolls
Northrend, like everywhere else, gets its own Trolls! But they also show up in Dun Morogh as low-level punching bags, and also in Alterac Valley, sort of. Or in the old version, anyhow. They’re Trolls who like the cold almost as much as they like eating their own deities. When life gives you lemons (the Scourge invasion), you… make lemonade (eat your own deities)? I don’t know.
3. Forest trolls
Here’s the thing – in Warcraft 2 these were the extent of the trolls we knew about. They were allied with the Horde, they threw axes, they actually… didn’t sound Jamaican. But then Warcraft III made a whole thing about how the Forest Trolls were bad and now Thrall liked the Jungle Trolls and that was that. This became more of a thing with the animosity between most Forest Trolls and the Horde, right down to the Revantusk Tribe in the Hinterlands being the only foresty sorts who didn’t get the memo.
Since the Horde later wanted the Blood Elves on their side, and since Blood Elves really don’t like Forest Trolls, this worked out all right. But it does mean some people still long for some green trolls of their very own.
4. Sand trolls
They live in a desert, see. And since we’ve never seen them literally anywhere other than Tanaris, that’s sort of the totality of Sand Trolls as we understand them. Kinda wish we could see these guys be paladins too, but at least we can seemingly choose some sand-troll skins in Shadowlands.
5. Zandalari trolls
The first of all trolls, Zandalari have actually gotten three separate models over the course of the game’s history, going from “regular Trolls with white skin” to their current form of “Lizard Trolls” over the course of the game’s history. They’re also the second playable Troll race in the game, which is pretty cool; shame that unlocking them is such a pain, but you can’t have everything, I suppose.
6. Dark trolls
These weird Trolls originally showed up as creeps in Warcraft III around Night Elf maps, where the explanation about how these Trolls were different from other Trolls was essentially a shrug and a non-answer. Then they showed up as a decorative element over a couple of flight paths through non-interactable areas in the original game, with no quests discussing them. But then they became actually possible to interact with in Cataclysm… wherein you fought them, but you still didn’t really get any idea about what the deal was with these trolls beyond a shrug. It’s kind of frustrating.
Well, until we get to the last entry here.
7. Dire trolls
We’ve reached the end of the very distinct ethnic Troll groups, but Dire Trolls are still distinct; they’re huge berserkers that easily stand taller than anyone else, often with one arm being the size of a normal Troll and with tusks that look like industrial hardware. They’re huge and intimidating, and yet they’re somehow something never discussed. It seems like they might be produced via alchemical means, but some of them just appear to be naturally huge, and the Trolls themselves regard them as perfectly normal.
For that matter, there’s not even a consistent indication of whether or not these particular Trolls are more savage or of average intelligence compared to other Trolls. It’s sort of weird, but in a way I kind of love; just a shrug and a statement that “yeah, sometimes Trolls are just huge, and they don’t have skin tones matching their local tribes even.”
8. Blood trolls
Whether or not the Blood Trolls of Nazmir are ethnically distinct from the Zandalari or just a weird cult is not altogether clear; what is clear is that they certainly look different, with pale skin and blood-red markings. Interestingly, their skins actually look similar to what the original Zandalari we saw in the larger world looked like, which would probably be something that could lead to interesting storytelling if the people in charge had the slightest interest in doing anything with that.
Mild consternation there aside, the important part is that Blood Trolls are weird and appear to be the one Troll subgroup that isn’t getting added to customization options. Maybe because they’re all murderous lunatics.
All right, fine, they’re bigger murderous lunatics than the obvious points of comparison.
9. Mummified trolls
We’ve seen undead of basically every stripe over time in World of Warcraft, but Trolls get a special nod because they’ve got a lot of mummified dead that show up without having anything to do with the Scourge. Indeed, necromancy seems to be a longstanding tradition among Trolls to begin with, which sort of came back to bite them when it turned out that all of their dead lying in crypts meant they’d essentially given the Scourge a shopping mall when they chose to attack.
Gosh, Trolls seem really good at dividing and getting themselves killed, huh? Who else is really good at that…
Oh, right! Yes, while it’s never been explicitly confirmed, it’s basically taken as true that all of Azeroth’s Elves come from Troll origins. That’s what the deal is with Dark Trolls, you see. They found the Well of Eternity, drank from it, and then before you know it you have Night Elves running around and deciding that the best way to celebrate their lack of tusks is by murdering all the Trolls they can find. But they are, technically, Trolls themselves.
They also continue the tradition of having just as many flavors as Trolls. Maybe that should be a column too.