Who will the next Horde Warchief be?
Beware, because there are spoilers for patch 8.2.5 in this post. If you haven’t finished the War Campaign (or spoiled yourself by watching the cinematics), you should stop reading now. Because not only is this post full of spoilers, but it just won’t make sense.
As we move forward and head into the final patch for Battle for Azeroth, the one where we (probably) fight N’Zoth and Azshara, perhaps in Ny’alotha, most likely at great cost and in a way that sets up Sylvanas’ ominous statements at the Windrunner Spire after her departure from Orgrimmar.
But one big question remains: who will be leading the Horde?
Of course, the first choice was Varok Saurfang. But since he finally got that honorable death he’s been looking for, he’s slightly less than capable of filling the role. But that does leave a rather wide field of figures who both have the acumen and the personality to take on the task. Who is it going to be?
Well, obviously I don’t know. But let’s look at some candidates.
Warchief, Warchief, who’s gonna be Warchief
Okay, let’s get the behemoth out of the way.
Thrall is the front runner. He was at Saurfang’s side when he died, and he got a whole cinematic setting up his return. The line “You and I… we don’t get to hide” was even so important that it came back before Saurfang’s Mak’gora challenge to Sylvanas. So he’s clearly got the job, if he wants it, right?
Well, there are the words out of his own mouth that he won’t lead the Horde. If Thrall himself won’t take the job — has in fact absolutely no desire to be the Horde’s leader — we can’t very well force him to do it. It may well be simply past the point where Thrall can lead the Horde. It’s not the Orcs and their amazing friends group it was back when he became Warchief. The Trolls, Tauren, Forsaken, Blood Elves, Goblins, and allied Pandaren, plus several Allied Races brought in all have an equal stake in the future of the organization. It’s fair to say that World of Warcraft’s answer to the Defense of the Dark Arts position might need someone else to take the helm.
Plus, Thrall still hasn’t met Mag’har leader Geya’rah, daughter of Durotan and Draka, and I cannot wait for him to encounter his “sister.” I don’t think their first meeting should be when he’s Warchief and she has to listen to him.
So who are we looking at?
Baine Bloodhoof has to be considered. He was the first one to stand up against Sylvanas, and he risked everything to stop her from twisting Derek Proudmoore into a weapon. At this point, he’s led the Tauren for years, was instrumental in bringing the Highmountain tribe to the Horde, and has displayed his honor publicly and at great cost. I’d put him near the top of the pack.
Lor’themar Theron must also be considered. He was canny enough not to get himself arrested, worked directly with the Alliance in Nazjatar and has Thalyssra of the Nightborne as an ally, having done for her people what Baine did for the Highmountain. If neither Thrall nor Baine take the position, Lor’themar is a strong contender at this point.
The outliers (and the kingmakers)
It’s fair to say that Jastor Gallywix has been far too useful to Sylvanas, too mercenary and too untrusted to take the position. Princess Talanji is a strong leader but the Zandalari have very deliberately kept themselves at a distance from the Horde, joining them as allies, not as a whole participant, so I wouldn’t expect her as the candidate. Truthfully, she’s already got a lot on her plate. It’s interesting that Talanji,, and Mayla Highmountain, all of whom are the leaders of their respective allied groups within the Horde, are in kingmaker positions because of the support they can throw behind a candidate. Ji Firepaw might well also have similar weight to throw behind a candidate.
Rexxar is a dark horse candidate at best. He doesn’t want the job and no one else wants him to have it. Similarly, Lillian Voss must be considered due to her role in Battle for Azeroth but is at best an extreme outlier, only recently having even accepted that she is a Forsaken, much less a loyal member of the Horde.
At present, aside from Thrall, the Orcs have no stated leader — Saurfang was considered the de facto leader of his people, but his death leaves that position in doubt. And the Darkspear Trolls have Rokhan as a quasi leader, more a representative — he doesn’t command enough of his own people’s loyalty to be seriously considered for Warchief. And the Forsaken are left rudderless at this crucial time, their city destroyed, their beloved Dark Lady having declared them all to be nothing and then abandoned them. We don’t know who will be taking up that mantle.
Must there be a Warchief at all?
I’ve felt like the position of Warchief hearkens back too much to the Old Horde, the one Saurfang explicitly called out in the For Azeroth cinematic. He even said that Sylvanas was a true heir to the Horde of Blackhand and Doomhammer, the destructive blood-drunk destroyers who once paved a road with skeletons and corpses and called it the Path of Glory. Saurfang even says it outright — That was the great lie upon which the Horde was founded, that anything we did was honorable. He declares that he’s never known honor. So if we take Saurfang at his word, and we want to honor his sacrifice, make his death worth something, than perhaps it’s time that the Horde changes. And perhaps the position of Warchief itself no longer fits a Horde made up of many people, with many voices.
We have seen through thinking about the position that there are many leaders in the Horde who could fill a leadership role. Perhaps it’s time for a council of some sort — not a singular position with a title that puts War first, but a group of those who represent their people, the way Thalyssra and Mayla and Talanji do. With each leader having a voice and a stake in the overall affairs of the Horde. And perhaps heading up this council could be someone who speaks for all of the Horde, not any one people in particular. A Speaker for the Horde, perhaps. This kind of first among equals role seems tailor made for Thrall, especially after his departure and return.
At any rate, right now the Horde is in the unique position of not necessarily needing War to keep it united. Perhaps it doesn’t need a Warchief either.
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