What do you think are the core concepts that define the Horde?

(Ashval) #1

After having discussed Battle for Azeroth’s storyline for a while, I have often heard the same argument both from Alliance players and Horde players: that the Horde is, at its core, supposed to be an evil faction. The former use it to dismiss complaints from Horde fans (well, you chose the evil faction, therefore you cannot complain about Teldrassil), while the latter use it to defend Sylvanas’s character (she represents what the Horde is supposed to be).

More recently, the discussions on the new government structure of the Horde (that there is no Warchief) also brought up the idea of the Horde’s identity being lost to the forefront. Personally, I think that both factions can have either form of government: this for me is not a key concept that defines the Horde.

Either way, these questions made me think. What is the key concept that, in your opinion, unites all Horde races? It does not have to be an in-universe ideology; it can be the aesthetics, the writing, et cetera. And, for that matter, what races do you think do not fit these concepts neatly?

If you ask me, I believe the key defining concepts of the Horde to be, in order from most to least important:

  1. Rejection. Every Horde race, one way or another, does not fit into the existing world order, and that is what defines them. I actually do not want stories where the Horde is dominant; I think it has to be persecuted, struggling for survival, so that they could remain sympathetic while still being dark. It is for this reason that I do not like the modern, more traditionally heroic portrayal of blood elves: without them being ruthless, and willing to use darker magic for survival (ironically, this original trait of blood elves is now represented by void elves), they don’t feel like a Horde race.
  2. Exoticism. I’d use the term “savagery”, because I appreciate the “savage” races of the Horde the most, but I feel that would be both inappropriate and not particularily representative of the more civilised Horde races such as the Forsaken or the Zandalari. What I mean is that Horde cultures generally have an aesthetic that is exotic to the game’s main (North American, Western European and East Asian) playerbase. From the tauren totems and blood elf hookahs to Forsaken architecture evocative of Victorian Gothic novels, usually set in faraway Eastern European towns, almost all Horde races are not your typical knights and dragons fare. In that regard, the two races that I’d say do not fit the mold are the goblins and the nightborne. Goblins are fantasy Americans - nothing unusual to a Western player, although I suppose the fact that they are a 19th century culture somehow trapped in a fantasy world does make them something exotic - while the nightborne have a more generic fantasy feel to them that does not strike me as Horde.
  3. Monstrousness. I do not mean that all Horde races have to be ugly - the nightborne actually fit that criterion in my book! I do, however, believe that all Horde races have to be inspired by some traditionally “evil” fantasy archetype. In fact, I think the defining trait of the Warcraft universe as a whole (at least, during WC3 and early WoW) was that Blizzard liked to play with fantasy archetypes. Take vrykul, for example: vikings, but with a dark necromantic culture and a very twisted form of Valhalla propped up by an evil death god. The same idea is present in almost all Horde races. The only race which does not really fit into this mold (outside of pandaren) are the blood elves, but that’s mostly because they have lost many of their “dark elf” traits since their inception.
  4. Militarism. The Horde is badass, and I think that is really important. That does not mean it has to be evil, or imperialistic: I think the latter role is better given to the Alliance, because, as I stated earlier, the Horde has to be the underdog. No, they have to opt for violent solutions, but for valid causes, so as to remain sympathetic. I think early Cata did that really well: Garrosh was a warmonger, but was driven at the time by the relatively sympathetic goal of feeding his people. That’s what I did not like with Sylvanas - no valid goal to fight - and why many people do not approve of having peace now. It does not feel right when the Horde’s not fighting.
  5. Simplicity. Now, that is not exactly a truly valid Horde trait because it is more of a “savage/western Horde” thing, but I still find it important. The core of the Horde are relatively uncivilised, simple and honest folk. They favour simple, violent solutions to their problems, true, but they would also not tolerate treachery, or cowardice, nor would they scheme and plot. Of course, a Forsaken leader would absolutely scheme, but overall, I think that any plots about scheming and betrayal would fit the Alliance more, like it happened in Vanilla with Katrana Prestor. This difference I think was well-represented in the Kul Tiras and Zandalar storylines: while the Alliance actually had to maneuver around Kul Tiran politics and be diplomatic at times, the Horde mostly just beat up bad guys.

What do you think about this? Do you believe the Horde is supposed to be evil? Savage? Aggressive? Asking everyone here, both Alliance and Horde.


The Horde doesn’t have any defining core concepts apart from loyalty to the warchief. Everyone who was pretending otherwise is either lying to themselfs or Christie Golden in disguise trying to find excuses why replacing the entire Horde leadership with Anduin friendly characters, is somehow the very best of the Horde ever(Remember Bob commenting on Baine in Nazjatar. Yes Christie I know you wrote this, don’t try to hide it).

The current Horde stands for nothing. We might give the entire team a whole new name since nothing sets us apart from the Alliance (other then Aesthics of the races).

I vote for red vassal state.


Evil when it’s controlled by Garrosh or Sylvanas, savage and useless when it’s controlled by Thrall or Vol’jin.

(Ashval) #4

You’re confusing the Doylian and Watsonian perspective. I am referring more to the Doylian PoV: if you look at a race, or a building, or a character, how do you decide in which faction it belongs more?

(Sanara) #5

I think it’s important to distinguish between people who say the Horde is “supposed” to be evil, and people who say it “is” evil.

The Horde is evil. Their actions are evil, their aesthetics are evil, their storylines are all about doing evil things and then being forgiven because we put the blame on somebody else.

But is the Horde “supposed to be” evil? No. WarCraft 1 and 2 Horde, sure - they were simply the evil faction, rampaging bloodthirsty monsters, demon-summong warlocks, corrupt necromancers, all with no goal but to destroy and slaughter in the name of their dark gods.

But WC3 turned that on its head. Abandoned by the dark gods, the “Horde” - what little remained of it - was struggling to rebuild without the driving force of evil behind its actions, contemplating what their lives meant, what they had lost and how to regain it. Shamans replaced Warlocks, trying to connect them to a time before the dark gods. Thrall - raised with human morality - directs them to only fight when they have no choice, punishing those like Grom Hellscream who lapse into the old ways of violence for violence’s sake.

Grom, blinded by hate, then consumed with the lust for battle and willingness to do anything for victory, plunges his clan back into the grasp of their evil masters, and Thrall must team up with their former enemies - the Humans and Alliance - to stop him, and then their combined forces stand against the Legion itself.

By the time we get to the Horde in World of WarCraft, they are not “supposed” to be evil. The Orcs are supposed to be a broken people who rebuild their society into something akin to what it was before they fell, with the Trolls and Tauren likewise coming up from near-extinction. They’re supposed to be the weak underdog faction, struggling against the prejudice of their powerful former enemies and the allure of taking up the old ways to even the odds.

And then Wrath of the Lich King comes along, and then Cataclysm. Suddenly the Horde is just as powerful as the Alliance, and with this newfound power chooses to do exactly the thing that they were never supposed to do - go to war for the sake of hatred and violence. Destroy everything, and anything, to achieve their goals.

And so, here we are. The Horde are evil. They’re not supposed to be, but that’s what we’ve been given.

(Ashval) #6

I am referring to Alliance players claiming that Teldrassil was somehow a good thing for Horde players that they were not given, that we somehow enjoy genocide because that’s we signed up for.

(Sanara) #7

Some Horde players evidently did. The forums, reddit and the game itself are abundant with people who think it was the best thing ever in the story because “muh team win”.


Poor, poor Horde players. I am so sorry that you got to utterly annihilate the Alliance at the beginning of BfA. You did not deserve such an injustice.


Having a brown orc as a Warchief who does nothing wrong


The factions are just too big to have any commonalities left. We already had to do some mental gymnastics to eyplain how Forsaken and Night Elves fit the established factions in Classic, and it has only gotten worse since then. Now we have lightblessed Elves next to Forsaken apothecaries, next to Tauren druids, and industrialized orcish warriors. There is no common ground that everyone shares. No, not even the word of the Warchief, considering the rebellions.

  1. Rejection? I don’t see it applying to Bleves (certainly not after MoPs talks with the Alliance), nor do I think it fits for Tauren. Certainly not Pandaren or Highmountains.
  2. Exoticism? That’s something that’s something Blizzard tries to create for all and every race, not especially Horde races.
  3. Monstrousness? Now that’s a bit of a broad camp, if you’re willing to count races that are physically fine and mentally strange as well as races that are mentally fine but physically strange. I don’t think that creates much of a commonality between the peaceful Tauren and the mana junkie or the zombie.
  4. Militarism? If Tauren and Pandaren count as militaristic, so does every playable race, no matter what side, really. Again not something I can buy as a Horde trait.
  5. Simplicity? Forsaken, goblins and Elf races aren’t simple or direct. Not buying it. At all. Nor are Baine’s Tauren, really.
    Also, the Kul Tiran politics are quite simple, with a single traitor to be found out in one zone. In Drustvar and Stormsong we mostly smash some guys related to evil magic.
    Horde has Vol’dun, where your mission is to find out more about that General, and Zulduzar is to great parts dedicated to a coup(+cult) and how you learn of it. Even more, the bargains with the Loa aren’t really what I would call direct smashing of things, either. So I don’t even agree with your example.

Nice try, but I’m sorry to say, it’s futile. it wouldn’t work any better for Alliance, either, really.

(Zarao) #11

With a few tweaks regarding wording…but yeah, essentially this.

Horde started with a series of traits that marked them apart from the Alliance.
They started by offering a different view on things, basically because they were less defined by the moral stand that rules the Alliance behaviour. They were more “primitive”, less “conventional”.

These days, said trait was removed. And most races are behaving under the same rules as the Alliance.

Given I guess Blizzard does indeed want to make everyone feel “unique”, “interesting”, “exotic”, etc, and the fact that all Horde races have been pushed towards dancing to the same behavioural tune as the Alliance ones…then these days the Horde stands for the exact same as the Alliance.

Not the route I would’ve chosen for it, but that’s where it is now. :man_shrugging:

(Koradan) #12

This is why i despratly want a revamped quel’thelas not just cause its really needed but so we can see what has become of their sociaty.
The blood elves have spent thousands of years addicted to magic and their power i find it hard to belive they have suddenly given it up for the light even if the sunwell is now infused with it.
Also their state is a dictatorship (or was back in Bc) so seeing people forced to acept the rule of law or face harsh penalitys would make them a more darker race.

(Sanara) #13

Wait, what? How do you see “loyalty to the warchief” as a defining trait of the Horde - when every single main installment of the series has included the Horde turning on its Warchief?

At the end of WarCraft 1, Doomhammer assassinates Blackhand and usurps him.

In WarCraft 2, Gul’dan betrays Doomhammer, destroying the Horde from within.

In WarCraft 2: Beyond the Dark Portal, the Laughing Skull clan betrays Ner’zhul - Warchief of the Horde after Doomhammer’s imprisonment - to the Alliance.

In WarCraft 3, Grom Hellscream betrays Thrall. In the Frozen Throne, the Horde doesn’t really have their own story, but sure enough Sylvanas betrays her master as well.

How does this equate to “the Horde is about loyalty to the Warchief”? It’s a HORDE! The Warchief is not followed because of some broad moralistic or philosophical concepts. The Warchief is followed because they are the most worthy - and when they are no longer worth following, you drop them.

(Vonen) #14

Story-wise what defines the Horde is that they share the most important bond we know. ‘My brothers and sisters’. Forum-wise i don’t know.


"My brothers and sisters… forgive me if I have to nuke you with blight because you stepped out of line. Lok’tar, my brothers and sisters.

Now die! Fires blight"


For me it’s clearly freedom. The Orcs wanted to be free from the demons and the internment camps, the Taurens entire philosophy is about freedom, the Undead wanted freedom from the lich king and those that would persecute them for what they are, the Blood Elves wanted freedom from the magic addiction and the pacts that kaelthas made to appease it. Golbins want the freedom of the market.
I really don’t see anything inherently evil in the faction. It’s leaders like garrosh and sylvanas that pushed them in that direction, not even because of the wars they started, but the means by what they waged it. In both cases however many in the horde rebelled against it.
And it is clear that the entire state of being of the forsaken causes them to not feel empathy, but even they were taken in out of compassion, the hope that they could one day be cured.
If it’s anything that unites all horde races is the desire for the freedom and independence to live by their own traditions and beliefs. As well as personal freedom, at least for the upper echelon. That’s also why they easily rebel if they see those values in danger.


When I think of the horde, something like a spoiled child with aggression problems comes to my mind that always needs babysitting from the alliance when they did something bad again.


you also forgot the inability to take responsibility for their actions it’s always escape goat’s fault

(Zakkaru) #19

The Alliance is also guilty of it then.

(Araphant) #20

Why is this Hala’s fault? I am confused.