Last post I discussed some of the reasons I felt there were to actually be proud to play an Alliance character. They stood against those who would see them dead, they sacrificed their lives in an unknown world for safety back home, and they managed to get Gilneas, Dalaran and Alterac to play nice (a historically difficult task). The Alliance have just as much right to beat their chests just as hard as the Horde. But that only answers half of the question. There is another issue that we must address before I can call this rant about the Alliance done. What happened to Alliance pride? Why don’t we beat our chests like the Horde and scream out a battlecry in the face of an enemy?
Well, there was a little something that happened between the Second War and World of Warcraft. Something that I personally believe to be the downfall of the Alliance sense of pride in itself and only reinforced the pride of the Horde. A little something called The Third War.
Part 2 – The End of an Image: The Third War
I’m sure that many people have played Warcraft III, more so than I or II, and don’t need a refresher on the general plot. But let’s see what has happened narratively to that glorious and unlikely Alliance leading up to the Third War:
- Gilneas left the Alliance because they wouldn’t hurt Orcs more.
- Alterac chickened out and fed info to the Horde, so Stormgarde toppled it. Then Lordaeron almost gave it to Deathwing.
- The remaining orcs that are prisoners in internment camps are freed by a orc upstart that was once a slave to a greedy human.
- A paladin named Tirion Fordring is banished from his lands and stripped of his rank for helping an Orc senior citizen.
I don’t know if you’re noticing the trend here, but it’s not looking good for our friends in the Alliance. The actual events of the Third War didn’t help either. Dalaran gets wtfpwnd pretty easily. A plague of undeath destroys most of Alliance controlled lands in the north. The Prince of Lordaeron goes insane and ‘kills’ the king of Ironforge’s brother, murders his father, and ransacks the elves’ lands.
All the while a courageous young warchief is bravely making his way to a new land to save his people and make new friends with any strange creatures he comes across while overcoming the very literal demons of his people’s past. Is it just me or is this scenario a little one sided? I mean, even the human campaign in Warcraft III essentially amounts to ignoring the obvious threat (the plague), killing everyone infected with the previously ignored threat (Stratholme), and then chasing a random demon to the ends of the earth out of some sense of revenge while ignoring the defense of your homeland (Why?!), and then killing the king of the nation that started the Alliance (%#$&!!!).
The only shining light to this is Jaina Proudmoore who leaves the insane prince (allowing him to fulfill his fate without a single voice of reason by his side), and creating a tentative truce with the Horde. Which is immediately put to the test as her ‘Kill-All-Orcs’ minded father shows up and starts up an attack. Honestly, that’s the one thing the Alliance has going for it in the Third War: one mage that doesn’t want to kill the orcs. That doesn’t even bring up the Night Elves, who are painted as the most annoying and holier-than-thou jerks in the entire game. The only two that seem to have any sense of humility are the brothers Stormrage and half of that duo also happens to be a power hungry traitor.
In case it hasn’t been abundantly clear, there is little to really rally behind the Alliance with in the Third War, and even in the aftermath we get introduced to Garithos, a proud chest-beating member of the Alliance and essentially a one-man Warcraft equivilant to the KKK. He hates the dwarves, he sends the elves to their deaths, thinks that humans are the only race you can trust and is the de-facto leader of the ‘New Alliance’. For every moment you spent listening to Garithos, you grew more sympathetic to the Orcs. They accept the Taurens in a heart beat! They have a proud shamanistic heritage! They didn’t mean to chop down the trees in Ashenvale and Cenarius attacked them first!
This is the moment I felt the pride of the Alliance died. There was no banner to stand under at this point. Much like being placed in Slytherin, you have no choice but to be associated with some of the worst characters the games had to offer (next to the Scourge and the Demons). That’s not entirely where the story ends though.
Part 3 – The Return of the King: WoW and its Expansions
The best thing about the World of Warcraft is that there is choice. You could be any race in the current incarnation of the Alliance. And let’s be honest, there’s a feeling of comfort in playing a human, and the dwarves and gnomes are just fun, and heck there’s plenty of folks who found the night elves to be interesting even back in the WC3 days (I was not among them). There wasn’t much that you had to attach yourself to except your own adventure. There was nothing that said you had to be like Garithos or Admiral Proudmoore in an MMO.
Heck, WoW opened our eyes to faction neutral organizations like the Cenarion Circle or the Argent Dawn. There was choice! Not to mention the faction leaders were so vacant in the lives of their people that you hardly knew where Tyrande was in Darnassus or that Vol’jin was actually standing not but 30 feet from Thrall (Seriously. It took me forever to notice he was there.) It’s not like their ambitious politics were all up in your grill in the game. That is… until Wrath of the Lich King.
Yes, Wrath of the Lich King brought back that feeling of association again didn’t it? With the return of King Varian Wrynn from a rather harrowing ordeal being kidnapped, losing his memory, and becoming a slave gladiator. I’m sure many have seen the now almost a year old article from WoW.com on Why Varian is Right. It does a much more thorough job of going into exactly how his political views were shaped. But I don’t think his views are what bother most people. No, I think it’s that feeling of association. Our leader. The same thing happens in real life. Certainly here in the states there’s a lot of talk of not wanting to be associated with certain decisions of our leaders. It makes sense that it would carry into WoW as well.
After all, who didn’t watch Varian during the Battle for the Undercity and a feel a slight hint of Garithos in there? Who didn’t see ourselves collapsing back into that image of the racist alliance? I know I did at first glance. The first time I went through the Battle for the Undercity, I was Horde and watching Wrynn prattle on made me glad to be Horde. That feeling of association with these figures are what I think hurts Alliance pride the most. Look at how many Horde have talked about faction-swapping if Garrosh is put in charge of the Horde (Basic Campfire ftw!).
That I think is the concern that dampens the spirit of the Alliance. That Warcraft 3 was right and we are a bunch of racists who blindly hate orcs. Heck, there’s several novels that are considered canon that back up that claim. But for every Garithos, there is a Tirion Fordring. For every Wrynn, there is a Jaina. There is nothing that says we have to subscribe to the King’s views (even more so than in real life politics, because hey, no one chose Wrynn to be the King).
There is a lot of moments to be proud to be an Alliance. Bolvar Fordragon is probably the greatest example, but don’t forget the 7th Legion. They fought along side the Horde at the opening of Ahn’qiraj, and they held the line against the forces of Naxxramas in the Dragonblight. What about the Westfall Militia? Did they pack it in when it seemed like the leadership of the Alliance abandoned them? No! They fought back against the Defias that put a chokehold on their lands. When I think of why I should be proud to play Alliance, I remember people like them. I remember that the biggest part of the Alliance is that through everything that has happened: three wars, two infiltrations of the Black Dragonflight, taking the fight straight to the Scourge’s door… there was always an Alliance.
We stand together against anything that comes our way – No matter what. /salute