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Hellscream is my warchief

Matthew Rossi

The choice of what race you play in the game can be more significant than I'd understood. Usually, whenever I roll a Horde toon, I play a tauren. As a result, my point of view has always skewed towards that of the tauren NPC's like Baine and Cairne. I found certain Horde quests distasteful and couldn't get into how the Horde seemed to be getting more bellicose as Cataclysm developed, much less the full on 'war were declared' mindset of Mists of Pandaria. Doing the Horde side quests on my tauren, I always felt mindlessly violent and that I was simply making things worse everywhere I went.

Cut to a few months down the road, and I'm playing as an orc. Suddenly, I have absolutely no problem with what I'm doing. The entire Dominance Offensive has been incredibly refreshing because trying to get into the mindset of an orc has made it all very simple. It's not fair to call orcs simple exactly, but you could call them elemental, in a way -- going all the way back to their tribal roots on Draenor, when survival was paramount and life was a struggle. There's a pure Darwinism to it all, the strong take what they need or they aren't strong at all.

In many ways, I see the Horde through new eyes. While Matthew Rossi, the human being writing this article likes them even less now in a lot of ways -- seeing the Horde constantly taking aggressive action then complain and whine when they get hit back always annoys me, for instance -- I'm enjoying playing Horde a lot more now, because I can finally understand how someone could follow Hellscream willingly. If anything, Garrosh Hellscream isn't perverting the Horde or the orcish character at all. He's the ultimate fulfillment of it.

Hellscream is my warchief
In many ways, Go'el son of Durotan was an anomaly, and as a result the alliances he forged with the tauren and Darkspear trolls were anomalous as well. The Horde is primarily an orcish institution, and it's important to remember that while Gul'dan perverted ancient orcish traditions to bring the Horde that invaded Azeroth into existence, he didn't invent them. Orcs are inherently tribal, competitive and aggressive, but they also value unity in the face of a larger threat or they wouldn't have come up with the Horde concept in the first place.

Keep in mind that for all of its mostly-lost natural beauty, Draenor was a harsh planet in many ways. The ancient orcs had to deal with the gronn and their ogre offspring, while hunting massive and dangerous prey like clefthooves. There were also the now-vanished grom, or giants, to contend with. Zangarmarsh shows us the wide variety of hostile life that once teemed throughout Draenor, and the orcs survived and even thrived on that alien world despite rivals like the arakkoa. Even before Ner'zhul or Gul'dan, the orcs were aggressive hunters and survivors. They certainly had shamans who dealt with the ancestors and the elements, but it would be a mistake to view them as peaceful.

What's really changed following the rise of Gul'dan's Horde, the real legacy of his manipulation, is that modern orcs are unified in a way they were not on Draenor. Furthermore, while Thrall may have had the best of intentions in settling the orcs in Durotar, the fact is that when faced with a rugged land the orcs have always sought to conquer the obstacles. It's what they are. As survivors, they seek to survive. By placing them in a desert that does not provide for their needs, their natural drive to overcome is engaged. Orcs do not beg, they strive. And that's exactly what Hellscream is offering them, a clear-cut battle with an enemy that has humiliated them once already with the stakes being their own survival. Not merely to survive, in fact, but to thrive.
Hellscream is my warchief
Now, it's true that the orcs are alien invaders who destroyed their own planet and then came to Azeroth to use up another. The truth of that statement can't be denied, but most orcs aren't bothering to deny it. Why would they? They know how they got there. But it's worth keeping in mind that it's been decades since the First and Second War. Wherever they came from, however they got there, the orcs are here and they have nowhere else to go. The children of the camps, and now the children of those children, have come of age on Azeroth and have known no other world. This is home, as far as they're concerned. And when Garrosh tells them they deserve a rich homeland, like the one they see to the north held by the elves, like the ones they saw to the east in the Eastern Kingdoms, they see no reason to disbelieve him. Why shouldn't they take what they need? It's what they've been raised to believe, told in stories of old Draenor, and in the tales of heroes like Orgrim Doomhammer and Grom himself, the orc who damned and then saved his people.

Looking at Hellscream through those eyes, it's hard to imagine why you wouldn't follow him. His values are the Horde's values. He claims that the Horde can overcome and conquer. He promises a future where the orcs and those who stand by their side rule Azeroth, because they were strong enough to claim it. As a territorial people forced to reside side by side, who have lost many of their old tribal identities, the Horde itself becomes the tribe and the entire world becomes that tribe's territory. To an orc, talk is cheap. If the Alliance wants to hold their land, they'd better draw steel.

Hellscream is my warchief. Gol'Kosh, lok regar.

Mists of Pandaria is here! The level cap has been raised to 90, many players have returned to Azeroth, and pet battles are taking the world by storm. Keep an eye out for all of the latest news, and check out our comprehensive guide to Mists of Pandaria for everything you'll ever need to know.

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