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WoWAug 28, 2019 4:00 pm CT

There can be no peace: Why the Alliance and Horde will fight forever

Okay, so when you set out to write a post that looks at the Horde and Alliance conflict in Battle for Azeroth, you have to look at certain things straight on and can’t dissemble or try and evade those things. And one of those things is this.

What hatred becomes

You can watch that video again and again (as I have) and there’s simply no way around the following facts:

  1. Sylvanas Windrunner chose to stop at the beach and torment a dying Night Elf, Delaryn Summermoon, who had fought her and the Horde as they marched through Darkshore.
  2. When Delaryn expressed pity for Sylvanas, in a rage she orders the Azerite-empowered catapults to rain fire on the World Tree. This causes the deaths of untold thousands of non-combatant civilians who were living on the tree at the time.

Every time I watch it, every time I think about it, I come to the same conclusions. The Horde as a whole is culpable for what Sylvanas does here — even Saurfang, who claims to be honorable, helps plan and lead an assault on the Night Elves without any more justification than the word of his warchief. In so doing, he directly aided and abetted the destruction of Teldrassil.

We see members of every Horde faction involved in the invasion — Blood Elves, Goblins, Tauren, Orcs, Trolls, and Forsaken are all present in the forces that invade and drive the Night Elves back. It’s a unified Horde army, supplied and supported by all of the Horde’s people. The assault and the destruction of an entire city and several small towns — remember, Teldrassil had Dolanaar and Aldrassil within the Shadowglen as well as Darnassus — without allowing them to surrender or evacuate is something every member of that Horde is responsible for.

Why am I rehashing this? It’s to establish why there can never be peace between the two factions at this point.

It’s not believable that the surviving Night Elves could forgive this, coming on the heels of years of Horde encrochment on Night Elf lands. Warsong Gulch is all about the Horde harvesting lumber from Ashenvale. The Horde has conquered Azshara, a zone held by Night Elves for thousands of years. They’ve wiped out the Silverwind Refuge and set Astranaar on fire, and now they’ve  destroyed every settlement the Night Elves had between Orgrimmar and Teldrassil before burning the tree itself.

How can you have peace when you don’t dare stop fighting?

It honestly doesn’t matter what faction you play — it’s impossible to imagine the Night Elves ever agreeing to peaceful coexistence with the Horde at this point. Neither would the Gilneans who were living in Darnassus with the Night Elves — they survived the Horde invading their homeland and rendering their cities unlivable, retreated to a new home, and now that has been destroyed by the Horde too. And the big “bring Sylvanas to justice” mission to Undercity ended with her not only escaping, but destroying the city herself in a trap intended to kill the Alliance’s leadership.

Two cities have been destroyed by Sylvanas’ direct order in this expansion alone, and it’s not even done yet.

There comes a point where you’d have to be a complete idiot to trust the Horde. Just look at the numbers:

  • Alliance cities destroyed by the Horde: Gilneas City, Southshore, Theramore, and Darnassus.
  • Horde cities destroyed by the Alliance: Camp Taurajo

The Horde has inflicted more meaningful damage to the Horde than the Alliance has by this point. Even the Alliance’s attack on Dazar’alor, while it killed King Rastakhan, was more destructive to the Zandalari fleet than to the Horde itself. And it came after the Horde attacked Kul Tiras twice, once in Stormsong Valley and once in Boralus itself.

Suspicion breeds suspicion

But from the Horde perspective, why should they trust or respect the Alliance? For one thing, the Horde knows what it has done as well as the Alliance does, and they know what they’d do if the Alliance did it to them.

So why would they be foolish enough to do anything but arm and prepare for future violence even if a tentative peace was reached? Are we to suddenly accept that the Horde that uses victory or death as their main war cry is going to think that the Alliance will just forgive and forget? The same Alliance, to their eyes, that put the Orcs in camps and spent decades waging war against the Trolls in Stranglethorn Vale? Remember, each Horde faction has its own history and its own reasons to be suspicious of peace. These old grudges haven’t gone away just because new ones have come about.

The novel Cycle of Hatred makes the point that old grudges don’t fade away unless you actually work to reconcile them, and at present, I don’t see a way to do that. Even if Jaina and Thrall managed to bring about some sort of rapprochement between the Alliance and Horde — as we saw hinted in the 8.2 cinematic after they teleport Baine out of prison — they still need to sell everyone else on it.

The Humans, Dwarves, and Gnomes would probably be the easiest sells, with Jaina and Anduin likely on the side of peace, the Council of Three Hammers having no real need for this war, and the Gnomes still reeling from the incapacitation of Gelbin Mekkatorque. But I can’t see the Worgen and Night Elves being interested in peace as long as much of the ancestral Kaldorei land is under Horde control.

War without end

As for the Horde side, to a certain degree war is an accepted state — the idea of peace between Alliance and Horde might be one that the Tauren under Baine Bloodhoof would support, but would Orcs? Would Trolls? And we have even less of an idea what the Forsaken are going to be about in the future — we don’t even know what Sylvanas will be doing or if she’ll be around at all. Even if there’s a temporary end to hostilities because of the Old Gods or some other menace, the question of Sylvanas’ ultimate fate leaves us with more questions than answers.

I could be wrong. I hope I am, because I find the current state of affairs extremely stressful for me as a player — it’s hard for me to enjoy the game when I have no idea what the outcome of all of this will be. But if the story tries to move us past the Horde/Alliance conflict without earning it, then I can’t imagine it being a satisfying payoff to the past year of waiting.

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