Race Pride

I’m going to forgo this week’s My Week in Azeroth segment to touch on something that will no doubt be brought up time and time again on this blog: the races in Azeroth. Particularly, the Forsaken. Don’t worry, for the two of you who enjoyed last week’s article, I’m bringing it back next weekend. I’ve found myself having very little time to do much on the internet, much less play WoW, so the post I’ve wanted to write all week has been pushed aside again and again.

To preface, let me make a couple of things clear: 1) if you follow me on Twitter, or take two seconds to browse what I’ve tweeted, you’ll know that I am an unabashed fan of the Forsaken; 2) I know my way around Azerothian lore; 3) there are no playable races in-game that I find to be boring. What I mean by the last part is this: the human model, in-game, is horrible unless you are playing a female. Humans in World of Warcraft, however, are incredibly interesting (tell me with a straight face that the formation of the Defias and the reasons behind it are not really, really cool storytelling). I joke about punting gnomes, as do a lot of Horde players, but honestly I can’t get enough of their architecture and characters. Blood Elves, while I hate their casting animations, are some of the slickest guys you’ll ever see, with a mean streak in them a mile and a half long.

What I find throughout my time playing World of Warcraft is that I’m drawn more towards races as opposed to factions. I think that the Alliance and the Horde are cool and that they’re both as morally gray as the other. They’re both interesting to me. Yet time and time again I wonder why I haven’t picked one side to be fanatically devoted to and I’ve only been able to come up with one reason: I love the races. I love the lore behind the gnomes and dwarves as well as the orcs and trolls. They’re all so fascinating to me. I suppose that if you spend enough time reading the pen-and-paper resource guides to WoW as much as I do, you get a feel for more that happens in Azeroth. More than you would playing through one quest hub/zone.

Some people play through Hillsbrad and come out of the experience hating, loathing, the Forsaken. I read about Brann Bronzebeard’s travels through Brill and about how he has come upon Forsaken losing their minds to the Scourge again and how he’s seen friends or family around the increasingly insane undead shudder and cry out with fear and I see a race beset on every imaginable side by adversity and the rage they possess at simply existing. The smallest things, to me, shed scads of light on things I had previously thought illuminated. There is more than just the Horde, or the Alliance: there are the dwarves and the humans and the tauren that make up both sides. That’s something that I think slides past some people’s mental sieve.

But, if more people cared about a particular race, would this cause a problem? Would we niche ourselves even more than we already have? There are players out there who will never, in their entire life, play an Alliance character, and vice versa. Were there more people who identified and cherished a select few races, could there bloom a group of people who will never, in their entire life, play anything but a blood elf? The stagnation in both cases is astounding: so much is lost by simply only playing as an Alliance, or a dwarf, or a Forsaken. So much lore passed by, so much immersion and emotion thrown to the wayside simply on the basis of perceived superiority.

Keep in mind that this is coming from a person who loves the lore in World of Warcraft. I’ve stayed up entire nights because I wanted to continue a quest line that just never seemed to end, or farmed something on the offchance that I’d have a new vanity item named after a really cool dude. If you’re still lost: I’m kind of insane and often have too much time on my hands. This post is a call-out to those who enjoy their MMORPGs as story-rich as I do. If you’re the kind of dude who only plays blood elves because you like their model most of all and not because they are, without contest, the slickest motherfuckers this side of the Dead Scar – power to you, brother, rock on in your play time.

When the urge to finally write this post was coming upon me I put the call out to Twitter, asking if anyone was as proud of a specific race as I was. Rades was quick to say that there were, in fact, those kind of people out there. (I’m actually kind of ashamed these people slipped my mind…) Antigen, Jong, and Rhidach are all members of the Blood-Elf Appreciation Club (23rd chapter, order of the wombat), Vidalya of various-blogging fame has an intense love of draenei (which is great, ’cause someone has to), Rades himself is a self-professed fan of orcs and Forsaken (I’m getting to him, I think), and Faeldray is a lover of all things tauren. These are, of course, member of the WoW blogging community, with a voice louder than my own and interests known by quite a few people, so there’s always a chance that we’re the outliers of the playerbase.

Idea: people have an intense love of one race and, instead of saying “yeah man I play on the Alliance, but more importantly dwarves” they just say “I’m an Alliance player”. Is this a lie, though? Is there anything inherently misleading about the label – or are they the same thing?

The logistics are slightly confusing at this point, but Loa help me I’m charging forward pretending like I’ve got a clue.

What about you, those two readers I have? Do you have a race you love above all else? Why? I’d love to know in the comments!

(Oh, and speaking of the Forsaken, I have five ideas about posts concerning them… You’re in for a treat.)


10 responses

  1. Can’t wait to see your other posts on this topic!

    The main reason I love the Forsaken is I found their history, backstory and motivations for wanting to kill Arthas amazing. Vengeance is always fun, and their merciless, driven obsession sets them aside from all other races in the lengths they would go to, to achieve victory. Additionally, they are such a victimized race, having been murdered by Arthas, and betrayed by their living ex-allies upon regaining sentience. I feel a lot of sympathy for them, and think they have all the reason in the world to be angry, bitter and jaded. Also, Sylvanas is a fantastic, ambitious, and entertaining leader. She’s such a wild card, and it’s fun to try to predict what she’ll do next, where as the other leaders are much less exciting.

    As for the Orcs, I’ve always found the untamed nobility theme interesting, with their heavy value on honor and dignity. It’s always tough defending them, sometimes even moreso than Forsaken, since people always talk about the past evil times on Draenor, against the Humans, even against the Night Elves. But I always maintain that those incidents are all irrelevant – those were the work of the Old Horde, demon-influenced, corrupt, misled. Nothing at all like the new Horde that Thrall established. Honestly, if you’re going to hate on the Orcs for the sins of the past, when they were manipulated by demons, you have to do the same for the Night Elves for destroying the world. And since no one ever does, I feel no shame in proudly supporting the Orcs.

    Great topic, hurry and write more! 😀

  2. I was a diehard Alliance player for years and years before I rolled my first Horde Tauren. I distinctly remember running around everywhere like a tourist and basically feeling like I’d discovered a whole new game! It rally is a shame not to at least give the other side a look-in, if only for the view.

  3. As you’ve pointed out, my favorite race is definitely tauren. 😉 I love them for their quiet patience, their stoic devotion to the Earth Mother while still remaining open minded, and their vicious fury when they fight. They are both gentle giants and brutal fighters.

    Having said that, there are many character ideas I have that don’t involve taurens. There’s the one of an female undead called Nalifi who has wholly embraced the life of a Forsaken. My shaman is a female troll named Zulrea. I’m really growing to adore my female orc warrior Brindu, maybe even more than my other warrior, a male tauren. And I swear, one day I will roll some sort of female dwarf simply to honor Stormcaller Mylra.

    By having these characters, I try to explore the other race options and quests in the game. But really, at the end of the day, I am always drawn back to my Shu’halo. If you don’t feel comfortable in the skin of your character, it’s really rather hard to connect to it and to really have fun playing as it.

  4. Personally I love the Goblins. I was very happy when they became a playable race.

    That said, my second favorite is the Forsaken. They just felt cool. I was honestly a bit disappointed by the resolution of the whole Wrathgate thing. I loved it when the Forsaken rolled up with the plague launchers and wiped everyone out. I wanted that Forsaken victory to last and not have them shoved back into the background of the Horde. I really feel that they should be their own faction outside of the horde and alliance.

  5. Trolls, I have one of every class they can be, of varying levels from 12 to 85, and I love them all. Just wish there was a way to use the troll brute model at some point.

  6. I really love the Tauren, for pretty much the same reasons as Faeldray. I was SO excited to have Tauren paladins and priests and I love the lore development behind it.

    I used to classify myself as a Horde player, but now that I’ve actually gone out and played some with the Alliance races, I don’t really think of myself that way anymore. It’s more of an “well, I love the Tauren best so I favor the Horde” kind of thing.

    The Forsaken are probably the only race that I really dislike. I find it rather hard to relate to the Night Elves, with their multi-thousand year lifespans. All the other races I like quite a lot.

    I, too, love exploring the stories in the game. I did Loremaster Horde-side and all of the Alliance starter and secondary zones before Cataclysm. Something I plan to do in the post-Cataclysm world is play through every zone from both Horde and Alliance perspectives with a leveling character so that I go through the stories in the order they were intended to be experienced, in the order that they naturally flow.

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