Know Your Lore: Delenda est Orgrimmar

The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.

An analysis of the aftermath of the Siege of Orgrimmar by SI:7 operative <name redacted> - contains top secret information about the aftermath of the Siege, including details on the new warchief - read only if you are cleared to know these details

Jaina Proudmoore was right.

The greatest threat to the people of Azeroth, the greatest obstacle to peace, the greatest impediment to a unified world capable of defeating the Burning Legion is the Horde. The original core of the Horde, the orcs of Draenor, have proved time and again that all they respect is military force and that they prefer to live by theft and conquest rather than trade or diplomacy - whether it be their sacking and burning of Stormwind at the end of the First War, their defeat at Blackrock Mountain at the end of the Second, or their uprising and flight that led to their arrival on Kalimdor, the orcs have always and will always choose conquest and war to achieve their aims. Leaving any and all morality out of the question, it's simply foolish to allow the Horde to continue to exist.

Does King Varian Wrynn think Sylvanas Windrunner cares at all about the defeat of Hellscream? Why would she? Why should she? In defeating Garrosh and his Kor'kron, Varian has done her a favor - he's removed the only oversight capable of detecting and halting her more genocidal plans. This is a ruler who has repeatedly displayed that she is able and willing to dump plague on living populations - the writhing oozes of Southshore and the disease clouded streets of Gilneas City stand testament to her aims and means.

Are we to believe that the new Warchief will have either the time or the motivation to pull Sylvanas back? It would make more sense from Vol'jin's perspective, as ruler of a weakened Horde, to let Sylvanas draw as much attention away from Kalimdor as she can - to draw Alliance attention away from him, and his crippled Horde. Letting the forsaken do whatever they want will give him time to rebuild and retrench. No, it's clear enough to even the most jaded observer - as long as the Horde exists, it will seek dominion over all the world of Azeroth. The Horde must be stopped. Furthermore, it is my opinion that Orgrimmar must be destroyed.

Know Your Lore Delenda est Orgrimmar

Why destroy Orgrimmar? From an Alliance perspective, here are several reasons:

  • It is named after a war criminal. Orgrim Doomhammer, the Warchief of the Horde during the Second War, presided over the destruction of Stormwind and the murder of King Llane Wrynn at the hands of the assassin Garona. He approved the rape, torture and forced breeding of the Dragonqueen Alexstrasza so that her offspring could be enslaved and used as weapons of war. He led the invasion of human lands and the murder of countless innocents who had neither committed any aggression towards him nor even heard of him or his people. Upon his head lies the responsibility of the Second War.

  • It is in a desert. The orcish people have proved they resent living in a desert, despite the fact that they themselves settled here - this resentment has led them to attempt successful violent expansion throughout Kalimdor. Allowing Orgrimmar to stand will only create further resentment on the part of the orcs, who are still a potent militaristic culture and who in a decade from the end of the Third War built themselves into the military force under Hellscream that threatened the entire world.

  • It is a symbol of resurgent Horde power. The fel iron walls of Orgrimmar symbolized the Horde as an engine of conquest. The city is a fortress that was only breached by the combined might of the Alliance and a substantial portion of the Horde itself joined forces to assail it. Leaving such a fortress intact is tactically unwise - the Alliance is unlikely to have the support of much of the Horde if it ever needs to breach the city again.

  • Following the overthrow of Hellscream, what has the Horde actually lost for their participation in his madness? If the Horde is allowed to progress forward without any significant costs to the expansionist policy Hellscream mandated and which they willingly participated in, what message is the Alliance sending? "It's okay to murder our citizens and steal our territories"? Neither Thrall nor new Warchief Vol'jin have offered a single concession or reparation for what the Horde did under Hellscream, and this despite the fact that Thrall appointed Hellscream.

As we can see, the destruction of Orgrimmar would have several positive results. It would remove a memorial to a war criminal, it would force the orcs to relocate - since the Alliance has chosen to abandon Azshara, which is a relatively fertile land in comparison to Durotar's deserts, might we suggest they move directly north? There should be enough room to settle the orcs in Azshara's greener pastures. If they don't wish to do so, then they can be dispersed throughout the rest of the Horde's territories in Kalimdor. They've stolen huge chunks of land, land that the Alliance seems unwilling to take from them - let them live dispersed throughout it. Perhaps a generation of diaspora learning how to actually farm would curb some of their aggressive instincts (although this writer doubts it).

It would destroy the monument to Horde aggression and deny it a fortress capable of holding off the military power of the Alliance, and it would send a clear message to the Horde that unchecked aggression actually has costs and that these costs extend to everyone, not just the man at the top of the heap. Yes, Hellscream bears responsibility for all that he's done. But he couldn't have done any of it if the Horde hadn't supported him. By himself, he was just one extremely bellicose orc. The orcish tendency (seemingly shared by the trolls and tauren, as well as the forsaken) to create cults of personality and follow them wherever they lead has time and again led to conflict, and allowing Orgrimmar to continue to exist supports this tendency.

In fact, we need not only destroy Orgrimmar, but it would be in our best interests to destroy the position of Warchief as well. The Horde has proved itself to be very likely to follow a charismatic leader towards whatever ends said leader proposes.

Blackhand the Destroyer led the orcs to Azeroth. Imagine - he convinced nearly his entire race to travel to an alien world and make war upon people they had no reason to hate solely on his word that there would be a profit in doing so. Orgrim Doomhammer, even Thrall kept up this cult of personality - Thrall motivated the bedraggled survivors of the Second War so thoroughly that they went from listless, lifeless captives in large internment camps to a highly motivated army, and he led them in a raid on Theramore's naval fleet, stealing ships in order to take them all to a continent none of them had ever seen or heard of. They followed him without hesitation, even when he decided to settle in a desert that would provide very little resources without years of laborious effort and an understanding of agriculture they did not possess. Worse, the allies they made in Kalimdor were nomads who themselves also don't spend any time farming. Clearly, it's not just Hellscream that the Horde will follow blindly.

We have little information on Vol'jin as a leader, but it's fair to say that his Darkspear Trolls also follow him with a similar blind loyalty, and with Thrall's backing it is likely the orcs will fall in line behind him. Do we need another cult of personality at the top of the Horde? Wouldn't it serve our interests better to keep them divided? The removal of the Warchief position is our top priority. It's more important than even destroying Orgrimmar. The destruction of the city would have several benefits, but they all pale before the benefit of keeping the Horde too busy squabbling among themselves to offer violence to anyone else. The careful cultivation of a council of leaders would serve to keep tensions high, and the politics of a developing system of this kind would pit rivals like Lor'thmar Theron and Sylvanas directly against each other, which would in turn make our own work in Gilneas easier.

It is this analyst's considered opinion that under no circumstances can we allow the Horde to retain a Warchief, and furthermore, Orgrimmar must be destroyed.

(Writer's note - have at it, commenters.)

(Second writer's note - just a brief suggestion, but there's an essay by Jonathan Swift called "A Modest Proposal" - consider that essay's aims, and then this post again.)

While you don't need to have played the previous Warcraft games to enjoy World of Warcraft, a little history goes a long way toward making the game a lot more fun. Dig into even more of the lore and history behind the World of Warcraft in WoW Insider's Guide to Warcraft Lore.