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Mists of Pandaria: A new Alliance in the Jade Forest

Matthew Rossi

Spoiler Alert: I am about to talk about the Alliance, especially its new leadership, in the Jade Forest on the Mists of Pandaria beta. If you don't want spoilers, read no further.

Sky Admiral Rogers hates the Horde more than any character I have ever seen. She makes Joanna Blueheart look like a Horde sympathizer. That first part isn't a spoiler because it's pretty much all there is to Admiral Rogers, and I am fine with it. Admiral Rogers is seething with hatred for the Horde and everyone within it. This woman has one thing on her mind, and it isn't having a civil discussion to air grievances -- it's shooting Horde.

For the first time since Cataclysm launched, I have just done quests that made me feel like the Alliance is accomplishing something. Granted, what it's accomplishing isn't always good, in a moral sense. But I've taken out two Horde warships, cleared the beach of Horde troops, driven an orc warlock to retreat, and then defeated the sha and orc slavers. All in all, the Alliance introduction to the zone feels like this is a faction that finally has had enough.

Mists of Pandaria A new Alliance in the Jade Forest
The contrast between Sky Admiral Rogers and Rell Nightwind, the SI:7 operative spearheading the attempt to retrieve the "White Pawn" is pretty striking. Nightwind is all for surgical precision, using exactly the right amount of force to accomplish his aims. He would even spare orc sailors swimming for their lives from the ships I blew up.

Sky Admiral Rogers has those self-same unarmed orc sailors mowed down in the water as they attempt to flee their burning ships. Now, from a moral perspective, that's horrible, but from the perspective of an Alliance player who just spent the entire last expansion getting the same or worse from the Horde, I am absolutely on board for the wholesale slaughter of Horde forces. And frankly I think Horde players should be, too.

This is a chance to finally paint both sides with objectively valid shades of gray. It's one thing to say both sides are complicit, but Cataclysm really failed to balance things. The Horde got Southshore, Gilneas, and Ashenvale to show their bad side, and the Alliance got Camp T, with a commander who basically tried to be merciful.

This time around, Sky Admiral Rogers has troops gun down unarmed sailors who would probably gladly surrender if given the option. She doesn't even waste time offering it. It shocks Rell Nightwind, a seasoned SI:7 operative, and it absolutely should shock him. This is not the Alliance that let each race face its enemies alone and kept trying to negotiate.

This is the first story example of actual moral equivalency between the factions. No more will Horde players have to rely on weak arguments like "Well, the Alliance didn't pay the stonemasons," or "Oh yeah, what about Camp Taurajo," because at last, we have an authentic Alliance massacre on our hands. Alliance troops unquestioningly gun down surrendering Horde as they swim for their lives.
Mists of Pandaria A new Alliance in the Jade Forest
And you take part in her offensive. You're a critical part of it, in fact. You pilot the gyrocopter that guns down Horde on the beaches and torpedoes their ships. You wade into their lines and lay waste to their munitions and kill their engineers. You cut down their peons and butcher their taskmasters. Sky Admiral Rogers hates the Horde -- oh my, yes -- but you are the tip of the Alliance spear every step of the way. Even after meeting Taran Zhu and working to defeat the sha, you don't turn from your mission. The local pandaren give you a base of operations, incensed by the Horde conscripting them, and you make use of that base to carry the war forward.

Upon going further inland, you rescue Admiral Taylor (who fought extremely bravely, impressing the local Jinyu) and begin to make allies among them. This leads to probably my favorite exchange of the entire quest chain. Taylor protests that he's being tasked with rescuing the White Pawn with no troops and no intelligence, and while I do like Admiral Taylor, Sky Admiral Rogers wins my heart forever with the following exchange.

Mists of Pandaria A new Alliance in the Jade Forest
The new attitude of the Alliance forces in Jade Forest is one of the best surprises of the revamped zone. I'm very fond of it. It opens up all sorts of potential for real conflict, and it finally gives the Alliance some really significantly morally questionable actions to stack against the Horde. And I'll admit it was nice to see the Skyfire again -- and to see it killing Horde this time.

It's open warfare between Alliance and Horde in Mists of Pandaria, World of Warcraft's next expansion. Jump into five new levels with new talents and class mechanics, try the new monk class, and create a pandaren character to ally with either Horde or Alliance. Look for expansion basics in our Mists FAQ, or dig into our spring press event coverage for more details!

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