We’ve been there. We’ve seen it all. More than we can bear probably.
War of Thorns Campaign – Warfare Analysis
In terms of warfare, everything went quite effective for the Horde. A blitzkrieg through Ashenvale and Darkshore with a flank strike from Felwood mountains left the Night Elves no chances. Even if the elven fleet arrived from Silithus in time, it was not enough to withstand the full power of the Horde. All the army was present there – during our battles we’ve seen all the Horde forces – trolls, tauren, blood elves, goblins, undead, orcs against scattered and poorly organised elven garrisons. Sylvanas proved to be a brilliant tactician.
The blitzkrieg goals are achieved: Alliance now has no base in Kalimdor (probably most draenei left on Vindicaar, so the small enclave in Azuremyst doesn’t count), and the Night Elven morale is broken. Yes, the Alliance is in rage now and will be quick in action, but this was never meant to be a small war – the final goal is taking all the kingdoms, particularly Stormwind. Stormwind humans will be raised as undead, bolstering her nation’s ranks, and its verdant lands will be given to other Horde races to prosper. At least that is Sylvanas strategy.
In other words, she made the first move, and this has become an overwhelming success. High five to Sylvanas as a warchief.
Now we must speak of more complex matters – and that is of course exactly how these goals were achieved.
And here we cannot high five Sylvanas. In the long terms this is an overwhelming defeat – a political grave, pun intended.
The Horde and Saurfang
If you try to describe the Horde’s essence in few words, you will inevitably end up with the word “Honor”. Your average Horde member would rather die in battle than let his honor stained. Undead are capable of atrocities due to the lack of human emotion, goblins value profit over beautiful talks, and trolls are no strangers to ambush vile tactics, but they have always played an auxiliary role. The backbone of the Horde – orcs & tauren – are all about honor, and they do not let these dark tendencies to thrive whenever they can. I think blood elves also share the approach. Even the brute, ruthless Garrosh was in horror when he saw Sylvanas’ Silverpine campaign. The very same Garrosh executed the orc commander with his own hands for wiping the peaceful druid enclave in Stonetalon mountains. By Pandaria he got worse, but still.
Saurfang character seems much more important to me than Sylvanas in the War of Thorns events. He speaks for the Horde, and he is what the Horde really are. He forbids to kill the civilians in Lor’danel. He saves his warchief in the line of duty, but is devastated by his strike in the back – so he doesn’t even kill Malfurion when he has this chance (and a direct order). The Horde obeys their warchief for now, but a coup d’etat is a matter of time.
The Horde did not cross the line of no return in the burning of Teldrassil – it was not the event where they say ‘Oh well, now we can do whatever we need and want’. On the contrary, it was a WTF thing that contradicts their every belief and ground. And making an orc do a dishonorable thing… Let’s just say it’s not good.
For those of you thinking that the Horde is evil… that’s your answer. They are no friends to the Alliance, they are ready for a full-scale war, but they will try to do so honorably. Keep your Horde toons – you’re still fighting to endure, for your future and for your place in Azeroth. Side with Saurfang and other honorable leaders… and provide an example of a fair war. Sylvanas is not eternal – every step of the kind she makes is averting the faction members from her. Be there to see her inevitable end as she digs her own grave – and maybe you’ll be the one to help bringing it closer.
As for Sylvanas…
I’ve always been fascinated how total jerks get a massive fanbase. Arthas – which turned from an overzealous youngling to a cold blood butcher. Illidan – which was hyperactive 10k years back and now again, generally well-meaning, but always failing, ruining everything in his wake. Sylvanas – which we first saw as a common ranger general in Warcraft III, but she very quickly turned into a bitch of epic proportions. I mean, what’s all the fuss about the assholes?
If a character looks good in fan art, it’s not a reason that we must admire him. Maybe we look at the character actions instead?
Sylvanas, after gaining her free will from the Lich King, has become a cunning and genocidal bitch. Has she ever done anything honorable in her un-life?
In Warcraft III: Frozen Throne she claims Lordaeron lands from the governing Nathrezim. She sides with the surviving Lordaeron humans forces to accomplish that, and upon her victory her undead forces slaughter them all in their beds. Garithos, the human commander, was a racist swine, but it doesn’t excuse the genocide.
During the WotLK events the apothecaries researched a deadly plague. This friendly fire that killed thousands was blamed upon the Undercity opposition, but did she renounce the research in horror? On the contrary, the blight was further improved, enhanced and widely used to turn Gilnean and Hillsbrad lands into toxic and lifeless wastelands during Cataclysm events, wiping the living with no remorse.
She does nothing to battle the Legion after a Broken Shore fiasco, but pursues her goals instead, trying to find a way to prolong the lives of the undead.
And now the fanboys and fangirls are whining that we didn’t get any explanation why Sylvanas suddenly (!) turned so evil. Guys, chill – you’ve actually got it. Sylvanas bluntly admits that she didn’t plan genocide and Teldrassil burning. All the quest briefings and cutscenes talk about occupation, and her sceond-in-command Nathanos was so surprised to get this order.
What actually happened is obviously an impulse thing. Had the elven general shut up and not provoke Sylvanas, offering her an option of how to break the elven morale, the tree would still stand and the citizens would be alive (although probably in internment camps).
Leo Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace’ has this quote: “The trembling of his [Napoleon’s] left leg is a grand sign”. This is how it works in history. Personal qualities, phobias, illnesses suddenly become very important if it concerns a person of power. A terrible migraine or a toothache could be the cause of war if it’s a king’s migraine or toothache. The elven general poked an aching spot of the warchief capable of giving strategy orders, and the rest is history. Had she talked to Sylvanas being one of the many Horde leaders… this would not happen, as another warchief would never give that order.
I do not excuse her for that. This is definitely a war crime, but one in the line of many she committed. Genocide, killing civilians, using poison weapons – she has always done that and will do that again – not later than in the upcoming Battle for Lordaeron scenario. This is who she is – a murderer with no empathy to the living. And yet… Teldrassil bonfire was not her plan. It just happened.
Anyways, it’s most probably the last expansion when she’s the warchief. No one approves of her actions. She has always acted without honor, and that’s not what Alliance or Horde will approve. Frankly I don’t see any option for her but death. Making her a hero with the void Old Gods story is not gonna be accepted – she’s just too wrong.
This is amazing how the pre-patch events have… united the Horde and the Alliance players. Most members of each faction feel that this is all going wrong – thank gods, war crimes are not accepted as a glorious thing. And this is good for the world we’re living in.
Imagine if the Horde merely claimed Teldrassil. The Alliance still loses it, but it would have been fair and square. We would storm Lordaeron with the same persistence and an urge to retaliate, but it wouldn’t be so bitter.
The baseline is: why it has been so painful and depressing?
The Alliance experienced defeat, a certain defeat despite every action we made, every world quest we participated in. Before, all our battles led to victory. Before, eliminating even minor threats was a step forward to a greater victory over foes. Now, for two weeks straight, all we do is losing a war – and we knew the outcome long before the action.
The Horde wins… but Sylvanas refused us a fair war. That is against honor, against the ground, against everything the Horde stands for. This is against every reason why you rolled a Horde toon in the first place, why you chose the faction.
For now, we have new lands to solve. And Sylvanas’ end as a warchief is inevitable. All is left to do is wait. Stay strong. Fight honorably. And it concerns the Horde members – our characters – more than the Alliance.