We need a coup

HERE BE SPOILERS. TREAD CAREFULLY.

Well, we have now seen the full scenario leading to Battle for Azeroth, and my predominant emotion is disappointment, on several levels.

On one level, I am still annoyed that Blizz gave us a cartoon rendering of the burning of Teldrassil, but thought Sauerfang’s struggle with late-onset personal angst deserved a full cinematic. To me, it trivialized the tree burning and elevated the whole Horde story far beyond what it deserves.

But on another level, and even more than the rendering of the story, is the shallowness of the story itself. Now, before I go on, let me point out a couple of things up front. One, as I have said before, I am not any kind of WoW lore academic — in fact, I generally am not even very interested in it. Which means there may be nuances to the BFA lead-in of which I am not aware. The other thing is, I get that this is a computer game that includes all manner of unbelievable aspects, so to hold Blizz to any kind of “reality” standard is pretty dicey. Doing so leads us into personal thresholds of where each of us draws the line at fantasy mechanics.

Still, even in a computer game, there are some things that strain credulity. Here is my take on the story so far:

  • The Horde and Alliance finally come back from a shared victory over the extra-planetary Legion threat, a victory made possible only by cooperation and a realization of our shared interests in our continued existence. So do we enter an era of better relations with each other?
  • No, as soon as we get back, the Horde discovers Azerite and its potential and immediately decides they must have it only for themselves, because — ?? The Alliance helped them survive the Legion, so it is time to wipe us off the face of Azeroth? Anyway, they suddenly move from cooperative mode to greed-and-slaughter mode.
  • Even though there is apparently Azerite all over Azeroth (Sargeras caused it to be spilled all over the world when he stabbed his Big Gigantic Sword into the planet), for some reason the Horde has been driven mad by their lust for it and must invade Darkshore and Teldrassil to steal what they can find there.
  • Anduin and his lieutenants are so grossly incompetent that they don’t notice the Horde invading Darkshore until it is far too late. (Hello? Have the Alliance never heard of outposts? Sensors? Informants? Early warning systems? Border patrols?)
  • In addition to lusting for Azerite, the Horde decides to follow the twisted Sylvanas. Seriously, were they all brain-damaged from fighting the Legion?
  • Sylvanas — apparently on a whim because she felt dissed by a night elf — decides to order Teldrassil torched. (And her Horde minions are perfectly willing to carry out this obviously-illegal order.) Putting aside the needless brutality of this act and the heinous roasting of innocents, this was a monumentally stupid action. If the reason for the Horde invasion was to corner the market on Azerite, then an act of genocide that would unite the Alliance and make them fight to the death is decidedly counter to that end.
  • Meanwhile, the Orc leader Varok Saurfang — who has a habit of butchering the Alliance and then agonizing over the morality of his actions — has one of his periodic attacks of conscience. Rather than standing up to Sylvanas, he creeps around moaning about how maybe it’s time for him to retire, then decides no maybe he should keep fighting. Sort of. Without armor. One gets the feeling that when he is finally led off to prison it is the best possible outcome for him — he gets to opt out of the burgeoning war but still live and continue to talk about “honor”.
  • Speaking of angst-ridden weaklings, King Anduin continues to do his Neville Chamberlain imitation, trying to appease the Horde as they loot and pillage his kingdom and burn Night Elf children. You almost expect him to plaintively plead, “Can’t we all just get along? Come on, guys, be nice.”
  • Anduin finally orders the sacking of Lordaeron, but then he inexplicably tries to reason with Sylvanas (!), the Horde leader who is clearly so deranged that even her own lieutenants are uncomfortable with her. Yes, Anduin is so deluded that he thinks he can have a logical argument with a lunatic. And of course, he gabs with her so long that she eventually escapes.

The Alliance, I think, has good reason to oust Anduin and replace him with someone — anyone, actually — with a real backbone. The grounds would be that he failed to protect his kingdom from a pretty blatant and open invasion, he failed to defend what was arguably the most important cultural icon of Teldrassil, and he failed to contain Sylvanas even when he had her cornered. He has used that “I’m not ready for this” excuse too long now, and I am pretty sick of his constant whining about it. Get over it, dude, you are the king so act like it and do your damn job, or go back to being a priest.

To me, it looks like Blizz is setting up a story that will ultimately turn out to be wishy-washy pap. Already they are downplaying the inexcusable burning of Teldrassil, and it looks to me like they are starting down the cop-out “both sides are to blame” route.

And if anyone is interested in a palace coup, I could get behind that.

17 thoughts on “We need a coup

  1. Your take was pretty close to mine. I am happy to see Jaina return and honestly, it would be she who I would tap as leader if I could. Sure, there is baggage there (!), but who among these people isn’t carrying two footlockers, eight duffle bags, six suitcases, an over-night bag, and a dopp kit at this point?

    On another, although not completely unrelated note, I happened to be in my garrison yesterday and decided to make a change. I’d had gnome guards since I could change them, mostly because they were easy to see over while doing invasions. I made the switch to night elves. I like the idea of now giving night elves a place to crash in these hard times. I plan to do the same on my alts as well.

    Apparently, I have a duffle or two in my noggin as well…

    1. Yeah, Jaina came to mind when I was writing this. True about the baggage, but at least she seems committed to the Alliance cause. (Did she spend most of Legion at the spa? Looks like she got a whole new look.) I could even go for Genn Greymane, though he is kind of a bitter old fart — why shouldn’t the King of Gilneas ascend to the High King throne? If worse came to worst, there is also Khadgar — he has the diplomatic, military, and magic CV to do a credible job, and he has shown he can stand up to his own Kirin Tor when necessary. Not to mention shutting down the Dark Portal.

      I like the idea of installing Night Elf guards in your garrisons. I may do that myself — currently have Pandaren guards, but NE feels right, now. Thanks for the idea!

    2. I like that idea. I have night elves in my main garrison, but I’ll switch my alts as well. After the scenario, I changed the transmog on my night elf hunter to be based around the Darnassus tabard to better show my night elf pride.

  2. I cannot remember how you phrased it last week, but it was something along the lines of that this is just not a great way to enter an expansion.

    All hype I had is gone. Vanished. I just watched the cinematics on wowhead to be done with it. I was holding on to the hope that we would get to see Tyrande or Malfurion do SOMETHING, be with the refugees in Stormwind, be at the battle, something. But no., they just continue standing in the Keep using their old model prior to the burning of Teldrassil.

    “Poor Horde, They feel so horrible their warchief burned children alive. Let’s give them a very amazing cinematic to help them get through this difficult time. ”

    Would it be so damn hard to have Tyrande involved in this in just the slightest way? No. Hearthstonefrom Darkshore with Malfurion and voila, both at 100% health, both in the Keep as usual business.

    I feel as if the burning of Teldrassil was done for shock effect and to develop Jaina and Anduin and that’s it. This is such a let down.

    1. Well, I am still kinda hyped just for some new zones and raids, but my real enthusiasm for BFA is probably better described as “grim acceptance”. So I do get what you are saying.

  3. What I gathered from skimming the novel,

    Alliance had many spies in Org watching what they were doing. Syl and Saur had a pow wow on how long they felt there would be a peace, especially with Greymane itching to get rid of the Horde in retribution for Gilneas, Jania had her blood lust too. With forces weakened from Legion on both sides, a diversion to make them thing Horde were going to Silithus, then send troops to Darnasus to capture the city. Anduin would be caught between helping the night Elves over Greymane etc. divided Alliance would force Anduin out. The Alliance splits up and the Horde could easily deal with one by one. Oh, and the major battles would be on the sea.

    Well, like any plan I guess.

    The best laid plans of men and banshees.

    I hope it’s not a bunch of fighting on the high seas, and island fighting. But I know it will be.

    1. Do things to contribute to divisions among your enemy? Sounds maybe a tad too real for comfort. Not to mention, falling for a diversion is a huge rookie mistake — more proof Anduin’s doubts about himself are well-founded. And not for nothin’, but if Alliance had a huge number of spies in Org and they failed to report what had to be obvious preps for invasion of Darkshore and Teldrassil AFTER the Silithus op, they all need to be shot for incompetence. Again, Anduin was played.

      1. If I recall they had the troops all lined up to got to Silithus for a long campaign. I just skimmed through, but I don’t think the troops knew they were heading to Ashenvale until they left

  4. Blizzard are really struggling to tell their own story in game, and this current problem with BfA plot setup started right back at the beginning of the Legion xpac.

    Remember the Broken Shore scenario where there was a “misunderstanding” between the Alliance and the Horde about the retreat? That was potentially a setup for faction conflict while still fighting the Legion but it went nowhere, and we were fully united against the Legion after all.

    Both factions lost their leaders, and Sylvanas was chosen to lead the Horde. However she played no significant role in the Legion’s defeat that justified her being chosen, and her private fight with Genn (which was the only forced, contrived attempt to keep the faction enmity “alive”) could have been done regardless of whether she was Warchief or not.

    No, it all seems to have been a setup for BfA……. except as you point out it all kicked off too fast, there was no proper setup at all.

    I really enjoyed playing the SoL scenarios, but once again you need to play both factions to get the full story. Play Horde and want to know where Saurfang is? Oh well then you need to play through the Alliance scenario. The Horde scenario has a useful exchange between Baine and Sylvanas too.

    The ending of Legion has been, frankly, flaccid. Our weapons didn’t get a decent send off, the faction war got no proper build up (unless you are prepared to shell out on multiple books it seems), the motivations of the faction leaders seem ludicrous (attack the Undercity with no way to counter the blight. Riiiiiight. Hey, good job Jaina showed up!) and the followers are just that. Sheep.

    [Potential Spoiler: most of the theories about how BfA will pan out involve Old God theories, and there are some great theories out there to give them credence. Whether Blizz can tell the story as well as their fanbase remains to be seen]

    1. Nice critique. A while back, I tried to actually read some official WoW lore. I gave up within a few minutes, because it just seemed impossible to keep track of all the converging story lines and characters. (And remember, I have a Master’s degree in Russian literature!) But the reason I found WoW lore so difficult is exactly what you described: years worth of shallow story lines copiously sprinkled with deus ex machina events Blizz had to resort to in order to escape from narrative corners they had painted themselves into. When you try to put that all into a cohesive story, it becomes impossible to untangle — like a plate of spaghetti, you just need to swallow it a few bites at a time and not try to unravel each strand. (If I may mix my metaphors in this paragraph.)

      While some people do find the lore very absorbing — and some are even motivated to supplement it with their own narratives in the form of fanfic — for the most part, no one expects Blizz to give us classic literature or even a good summer novel. The pre-story to BFA, imo, just further illustrates that Blizz concocts lore AFTER they plan out an expansion, not the other way around. In this case, they decided BFA would feature a return to a faction war, and then they put together this rather slipshod “justification” for it.

      Interestingly, the BFA pre-story has pulled in even non-lore players like me — I have written two posts on it so far. Whether that is cleverness or clumsiness on Blizz’s part remains to be seen!

  5. It’s really amazing—normal Sylvanas is at least as bad as corrupted Garrosh was. So the Horde has chosen two genocidal crazy people our of their last three leaders. They’ve also unilaterally murdered two Alliance cities. So morally gray!!!

    1. Exactly. But my bet is that by the end of BFA Blizz will soften these unambiguous war crimes by concocting some kind of Alliance misbehavior and then drawing moral equivalencies. 😡

      1. Also, thinking about it some more. The Alliance didn’t really even destroy Undercity; Sylvanas did. So really, both sides should be hunting her?

        But really, it’s best to have no expectations. We’re talking about the narrative universe where Jaina was sidelined for years because the destruction of her homeland and people *made her angry.* I’ll just go ahead and set standards accordingly, haha.

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