War of the Thorns: Chapter 2 – Sylvanas is a Meany!

War of the Thorns: Chapter 2 – Sylvanas is a Meany!

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War of the Thorns: Chapter 2 is live today! I was excited for this because I was anxious to get more gameplay. 

So many people were disappointed. Like.. A LOT of people. Reddit, Twitter, Youtube, Forums... they're all blowing up with people infuriated by what came out this week. Spoilers ahead.


We knew 'the tree' was going to burn. Teldrassil on fire has been a thing for at least a year for me. I guess what most people didn't know was that Sylvanas was going to be the one to burn it... ? Maybe I was following the story a little closer than most because I had no doubt it was going to be Sylvanas, especially after the ending of Legion where she sort of stepped up at the Warchief. Who else would have been responsible?

From the streams and videos and what I could stomach from Reddit, it appears people were expecting some other big reveal or shocker. Instead, it was just Sylvanas being Sylvanas again. You may recall that I actually like Sylvanas when she's herself.

One of our blog readers and twitter followers, Orrinn, said it well:

I've seen "weak writing," and "morally grey," thrown around a lot today. I don't think we really have the full story yet. Even Christie Golden, author of many Warcraft novels, had the following to say after being harassed badly on Twitter.

There's more at work here. And if there's not, it's still Sylvanas being Sylvanas in my eyes.

Oh, and please leave people alone. Totally not cool to be mean like that to Christie Golden who I believe has done an excellent job all-around in her novels and story presentation. There are more people working on the story than just Christie. Her classy response made me happy.

Anyway, whether you like the lore or not isn't really for me to persuade, nor will I try. I thought it was fine -- nothing amazing, and certainly not presented well, but story-wise we have just a microscopic viewpoint.

What I'm actually bothered by is the gameplay and presentation. Less than 10 whole minutes of gameplay. I was literally done in 10 minutes. What the heck? The cutscenes, though neatly drawn, weren't cool enough. I wanted cinematics. 

I need a WHOLE lot more than what they gave us this week to justify burning Teldrassil. They could have done SO much more than give us just ONE world quest that gives crappy gear. This kinda sucks, Blizzard.

So while the Horde players are having an existential crisis and wondering if they truly are the bad guys in this story, I'm over here wondering WTF I'm going to do for another week with sucky content.

  • We’re not complaining that she’s evil. We’re complaining because of how Blizzard’s been teasing the Horde fanbase for years on end.

    World of Warcraft is built upon the idea that there are these two separate factions at war with each other. It’s not a classic good vs evil setup; they’re simply two different coalitions of people who are simply at war. The Alliance is made up of classically chivalrous races and archetypes that are unable to believe that the Horde has changed their ways and aren’t a threat. The Horde is made up of outcasts banding together who seek to build a new, honorable Horde, but they must fight to defend that ideal. You can root for both sides and not feel as if you have to separate your empathy from the fiction because in the same way that you think the Empire from Star Wars is cool, but have to acknowledge it’s evil and you’d never join it if it was real.

    There are two problems here. The first is that Horde players can’t empathize with their faction, and the second is that Blizzard promised a nuanced faction war with BFA. We haven’t had the former since Mists of Pandaria, and it’s looking like the latter was typical Blizzard hype.

    1. Thrall’s Horde was able to fight a reasonably just war against a reasonably just Alliance. As said before, Thrall’s Horde was built off the idea that even though we’re shunned as monsters, we still have honor and have built a family, and we must defend that family. With Garrosh in Cataclysm, there was no indication that this was changing besides the fact that Garrosh would be amping up our martial prowess. His actions in Silverpine Forest and Stonetalon demonstrated that we were still the same honorable Horde as before. When Blizzard 180’d on Garrosh in MoP, we could still empathize with the Horde because it was clear that Garrosh was no longer representative of our faction and that we could still root for our Horde characters as a whole. We saw Vol’jin, Baine, Ji Firepaw (RIP Ji, forgotten after he was introduced and cameoed in Siege), Dezco, Aethas, Lor’Themar, and their subordinates opposing Garrosh. We could still feel proud. After Garrosh was defeated, we expected that with old founder Vol’jin coming in that we’d be reasserting our old Horde fantasy… except the factions were irrelevant in WoD and Vol’jin was killed off to install the fan favorite corpse waifu and WC3 icon. The problem is that Sylvanas isn’t representative of our Horde fantasy. Before, she was the token evil teammate who dabbled in villainy on the side, but as leader of the Horde, she has dragged everyone down by making them complicit in her actions, which ruined our Horde fantasy. Let’s take stock, shall we?

    1. Raises people and offers them a so-called “choice”: join her and kill in her name, or die. Choosing to live your new, undead life outside of the Dark Lady is not an option. All the while, she is touting how she has given her Forsaken “free will”. Egotistical maniac.

    2. Invades a non-hostile, neutral territory and begins slaughtering its inhabitants left and right en route to her “objective”

    3. Begins gassing the land so as to make uninhabitable should the citizens of that land attempt to return to their homes

    4. Also begins raising the people she just killed, forcing them to join her or die.
    Invades another non-hostile, neutral territory and begins slaughtering its inhabitants left and right en route to her “objective”

    5. Brought toxic waste to said territory because screw their land, she’s bringing the most nasty weapons she wants for the pain

    6. Enslaved the deity of said territory to forcibly raise more people

    7. Misleads her sisters in to thinking she is attending a peaceable family reunion with the intent of murdering them with their guard down.

    8. Shoots her people in the back like a North Korean/USSR border guard because they want to go home. So much for “free will”.

    9. Invades yet another non-hostile territory and begins slaughtering its inhabitants left and right en route to her “objective”

    10. Destroys the home of yet another country just to spite a single dying woman.

    With the sole exception of Saurfang, there appears to be absolutely NO ONE in the Horde in the BFA beta who calls Sylvanas out on this, or even questions it. Not Baine Bloodhoof, who was one of Vol’Jin’s closest allies in overthrowing the in hindsight relatively less evil Garrosh. Not Lor’Themar, who was so reviled by the relatively less evil Garrosh that he was seriously considering defecting to the Alliance. Thrall apparently doesn’t care enough to right the Horde he had an idealistic dream of, and everyone else’s voice is forgotten. The fact that everyone keeps taking orders from her without question makes the Horde look complicit in her actions, which results in her actions defining the Horde.

    The second problem is that we were promised a nuanced war. BFA’s entirely premise is built off of the idea that Blizzard is going to go back and tackle the storylines of the races rather than inventing a new world ending threat to fight against (obligatory troll raiders and old gods showing up for an arbitrary side raid notwithstanding). Since Blizzcon, we were teased with the mystery of “WHO BURNED DOWN THE TREE” as if it wasn’t the obvious answer. Director Ion Haziokostas was hyping the “morally grey” aspect of the faction war, to the point that the meme resurfaced every time new evidence to the contrary popped up, be it with the Windrunner comic, Before the Storm novel preview, Sylvanas ordering the massacre of innocents and children in a Stormgarde village on the beta (which has apparently been changed due to overwhelming backlash), and now the Darkshore questline. Blizzard’s reputation of notoriously misleading, one note writing is well earned.

    • This sums up my feelings completely beyond that I felt that the writers who were forced to “write” this story could have pushed for a more common sense start of this war rather than being shoe horned into this braindead tragedy. Use the alliance’s mistrust of the horde to fuel the flames of war. Don’t just make a mustache twirling villain.

  • I agree about Sylvanas. Her burning the tree was completely in keeping with her character. I think a lot of Horde players have tried to perform some mental gymnastics to think of her as a kind of anti-hero, and this doesn’t jive with their version of Sylvanas, so they don’t like it. But she’s been this way since WC3.

  • I mean, I am somewhat disappointed there wasn’t more to do, but the backlash I’ve read is cringe-worthy at best. I’ll agree that the hype Blizzard was able to conjure for the pre-patch wasn’t met, and a few world quests and kind of tedious questing was a misfire.

    Maybe it’s because I took a hiatus from WoW for almost a year that, for the most part, allowed me to see the “War of Thorns” as a small side-quest more than anything else. I am too focused on leveling a new Warlock (a class I haven’t liked until the new animation revamps), working on Antorus, and a bunch of other things I’ve missed out on.

    This will cool over when BFA launches and there is more to do. It’s always been this way. World of Warcraft’s fan base is just excited to see more content, and when that need isn’t satiated, all hell breaks loose. I mean, we see the typical “I AM LEAVING FOREVER” or “WoW is dead” post almost on a daily basis because of this hyperbolic energy the fan base gives off.

  • My main problem is less about Sylvanas being Sylvanas, but that her being so thoroughly Sylvanas makes Vol’jin retroactively look like even more of a moron than before. So I think it is bad writing that goes against established characters, but the bad decision happened back at the beginning of Legion, we’re just still suffering through the logical outcome of that.