• March 25, 2023

Ah, Azeroth, how confusing you've become. Who can blame you, though? After 14 years of war-filled history, it's hard for anything to have stayed the same. We've killed off swarms of bad guys, and we've had to say goodbye to a few Alliance and Horde heroes. Continents have been discovered, lands ravaged. In 2004, the world was a different place - and with the release of WoW (buy now 24,99 € ) Classic, you can return to it! But lest you suffer complete temporal shock regarding the lore of that time, we'll give you an insight into the status quo of Classic: What did the different factions look like in that era, who held the reins? Which villains played a role, who was nothing more than an ominous whisper in the wind at this point?

More on WoW Classic: The beginner's guide with info on PvE, PvP and professions

Table of Contents1Beginning Warcraft 3: The Frozen Throne2Horde and Alliance - Two Factions in Growth2.1The Blood Elves Lick Their Wounds2.2The Tragic Path of the Draenei2.3What Do the Humans of the Kingdom of Gilneas Do?2.4The Goblins - Helpers of the Horde, but nothing more yet2.5No Pandaren - Despite Appearance in Warcraft 33The Threats of WoW at the Time3.1The Scourge as Enemy Number 13.2Ragnaros, the Fiery Destroyer3.3Deathwing, the Black Terror in the Deep4Back to the Beginning of the Journey with Classic

Starting Point Warcraft 3: The Frozen Throne

The story and foundation for the original WoW do not spring from a vacuum, but are based on the strategy games of the Warcraft series and tie directly into Warcraft 3: The Frozen Throne. For example, in the final installment of the series, the legendary orc Thrall establishes himself as the leader of a new, unspoiled Horde in the land of Durotar, which he named after his father, on the continent of Kalimdor, with Orgrimmar as its capital, where the Horde welcomes all its members.

The orcs share this haven with, among others, the Darkspear Trolls, another race that makes up a large portion of the Horde. The people, led by Vol'jin, feel indebted to the orcs for giving the trolls a place in the Horde in their hour of need. Similarly grateful were the hulking tauren, who had been bullied by the vicious centaurs and turned to Thrall and his Horde for help. As the trolls and orcs sought more spirituality, the tauren were the perfect extension of the Horde, offering to support shamanism in the Horde and help out with their knowledge of it. In gratitude for their help against the murderous centaurs, the tauren offer shamanic teachings to orcs and trolls. Source: Blizzard The Frozen Throne also saw the former high elf Sylvanas Windrunner break free of the Lich King Arthas' control and become the leader of the free undead, the Forsaken. Now, in the ruins of Lordaeron, she has gathered her subjects, who continue to have strong ties to the former kingdom from which many of them originally came. Their alliance with the other races of the Horde is one of expediency, not sincere attachment. The Alliance as an adversary? That will have to do as common ground for now.

The Horde, on the other hand, welcomes into its ranks the mysterious Night Elves, who had lived in hiding for millennia prior to Warcraft 3's Third War. While Malfurion Stormrage lingers in a seemingly eternal slumber, it is up to Tyrande Wisperwind to guide the night elves through troubled waters. In the process, she must come to terms with the archdruid Fandral Hirschhaupt within her own ranks, who criticizes her leadership style and would prefer to be the leader of the ancient people himself. But while the alliance of humans, dwarves, and gnomes has grown to include the night elves, a greater power has disappeared: The high elves were almost completely annihilated by Arthas' campaign. Only a few thousand remained who still consider themselves such, the rest calling themselves "blood elves" and fighting alongside half-demon Illidan against the Lich King. After the catastrophic losses in the war against the Scourge, the High Elves as a people have all but ceased to exist. Source: Blizzard In the fortress of Ironforge, the hardened dwarves share their home with the gnomes. The inventive gnomes were forced to abandon their capital city of Gnomeregan when it was rendered uninhabitable by released radiation. This catastrophe was the result of a long-standing conflict with the troggs, which the gnomes had fought out in secret; during the Third War, they did not want to trouble the Alliance with this problem. Their first priority was to keep the human kingdom of Lordaeron from falling into the clutches of the Burning Legion. In a treacherous twist, Sicco Thermadraht had finally decided to defeat the troggs with radiation, but the result was that the gnomes had to abandon their homeland; Sicco was left as the mad autocrat. Under the leadership of Hochtüftler Gelbin Mekkadrill, they continue to supply the Alliance with the most sophisticated devices. But even after years of exile in Ironforge, Mekkadrill works in parallel on plans to reclaim his homeland.

At the head of the dwarves rules Magni Bronzebeard, the eldest of the three Bronzebeard brothers. He is still grieving over the disappearance of his brother Muradin, who accompanied Arthas Menethil on his journey to find the cursed blade Frostmourne. By this very blade the dwarf was supposedly defeated.

The humans are led by a character that players of the live version might not recognize: Anduin Wrynn was also the leader of the humans 14 years ago, but as a young boy who was supported and advised by the regent Bolvar Fordragon. In this way, he would learn to rule and later be able to sit imperiously on the throne. His father, Varian Wrynn, is in captivity at this time, having been kidnapped by the criminal Defias Brotherhood.

Horde and Alliance - two factions in growth

Not only do WoW's maximum levels and areas turn out to be more compact in Classic, but also the different races that form the Horde and Alliance. As a player, you'll have to come to terms with the fact that you can only choose from the four factions just described per faction. But how is this explained in the game? And what are the Blood Elves, Worgen, Draenei & Co doing at this time?

The blood elves lick their wounds

In Warcraft 3: The Frozen Throne, the former High Elves, led by Kael'thas Sunwalker, have renamed themselves Blood Elves in memory of the Fallen. After miserable treatment at the hands of their human allies, Kael'thas' troops had joined Illidan along with the naga, with whom the blood elves share a morbid dependence on magic. Illidan lured them in with the promise of teaching them how to access alternative sources of magic after the Sunwell was destroyed in the Third War. Not all blood elves followed Kael'thas to war, however; many remained in Silvermoon, which is ruled by the veteran Lor'themar Theron in the Sunwalker's absence. The magically gifted blood elves do not yet play a role in Classic. Source: Blizzard

The Tragic Path of the Draenei

Before becoming part of the peoples of Azeroth and joining the Alliance in The Burning Crusade, the Draenei wage a bitter war against the orcs on the planet Draenor. Originally, the two races lived there in peaceful coexistence, but that changed after the greenskins were corrupted by the Burning Legion. In devastating battles, the Draenei lose over 80 percent of their population until they are finally able to escape the planet. But in WoW Classic, they still don't matter.

What are the people of the kingdom of Gilneas doing?

While the humans make up a large portion of the Alliance forces, there are rumors of a secluded population that stays away from the events of WoW Classic: The Kingdom of Gilneas is said to continue to thrive after the dissolution of all treaties with the Alliance, behind the titanic Greymane Wall. This even protected the lands of King Greymane and his subjects from the abominations of the Scourge during the Third War. But the living weapon of a mage from Dalaran, who wanted to use it to ward off the undead of all things, had found a way behind the protective wall - we are talking about the wild worgen. These wolf-like monsters infect humans when they bite them, turning them into worgen as well. Over the years, their numbers have continued to grow, causing the Gilneans to wage a fierce war against these beasts in the shadow of their massive wall. Only the Cataclysm will ensure that the isolated kingdom opens up involuntarily. But by then, there will not be much left of the proud nation. The mysterious kingdom of Gilneas has isolated itself from the events of the world and will only play a role in Cataclysm. Source: buffed

The Goblins - Helpers of the Horde, but nothing more yet

They've been around for a while, but somehow they're not: That's how you can describe the Goblins in WoW Classic. Because during your explorations you will undoubtedly meet the green-skinned gnomes. Among other things, they run the zeppelins that let passengers travel between Orgrimmar and other Horde cities. However, some skirmishes occur for both Alliance and Horde players when they encounter members of the Venture Co. This nefarious goblin trading syndicate is completely unsustainable and could turn Kalimdor's lands into vast deserts by logging and mining. The Bilgewater Cartel, on the other hand, which controls the Bilgewater Harbor on Kezan, the goblins' home island, will later form an alliance with the Horde, but it won't come until after the cartel members are forced to flee the island during the devastating Cataclysm. The clever goblins can already be found in Classic, but they will not truly join the Horde until they are forced to leave their home of Kezan. Source: Blizzard

No Pandaren - Despite Appearance in Warcraft 3

The last true expansion of Azeroth's playable races (allied races always represent offshoots of known factions) came for the live version with the Pandaren in Mists of Pandaria. But for many years, the black and white bear race was considered a joke - their only representative was the traveler and brewmaster Chen Sturmbräu, who made an appearance in Warcraft 3: The Frozen Throne. There he met Beastmaster Rexxar, presented him with the latest creation of his brewing skills, and even accompanied him on his further journey. Together with Rexxar, the Horde leader Thrall, and the mage Jaina Prachtmeer, he fought off troops from Kul Tiras and was part of the offensive that ended with the death of the Kul Tiran admiral Daelin Prachtmeers. After that, the Brewmaster went on his travels again. We won't meet him again until Mists of Pandaria, when Horde and Alliance find the long-hidden continent.

The threats of WoW at the time

While we've already put a stop to much of Azeroth's sinister creatures in the live version of WoW, and even the Burning Legion is history, some baddies are far from tamed in WoW Classic. But what were the meanies doing at the time?

The Scourge as enemy number 1

Before the hard-fought victory of the heroes on the side of the Horde and Alliance in the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, the Scourge remains the greatest threat to all life. Originally sent off as a weapon against the peoples of Azeroth by the Burning Legion, the Lich King entity (now with the human Arthas Menethil as its dominant personality within) has broken free and is pursuing its own plans for absolute domination of the planet. While the undead ruler himself has yet to spring into action, his decaying forces are ravaging the lands of both Horde and Alliance simultaneously. The Scourge's forces are primarily active in the Plaguelands, however, for that is where their central stronghold is located in the form of the ruined Stratholm, which fell victim to the Scourge's machinations during the Third War. The lich Kel'Thuzad leads the Lich King's forces and dwells in his necropolis of Naxxramas, which hovers ominously over the Eastern Plaguelands. Active only in the background: The Scourge may be following the Lich King, but we're still a long way from meeting him in Classic. Source: Blizzard

Ragnaros, the Fiery Destroyer

The legendary ruler of fire, ash, and destruction is still a major foe in Classic. The proverbial force of nature has been around since before the Old Gods ever set foot on Azeroth. Even then, he was in fierce battle with his elemental brethren. But whether as a slave to the Old Gods or as a tyrant in his own right, Ragnaros' greatest desire remains the destruction of the planet. Through a foolish summoning of the Dark Iron Dwarves in the War of the Three Hammers, Ragnaros has returned to Azeroth from the Firelands. His home now is the Molten Core, the heart of the Blackrock volcano created by Ragnaros' return. In the depths, he gathers his strength, waiting to finally realize his dream of a fire-engulfed Azeroth. The enslaved Dark Iron Dwarves follow him fanatically, blindly doing his bidding. The fire lord Ragnaros still slumbers in Classic, but in the heart of the Molten Core he is gathering his strength to incinerate the planet. Source: buffed

Deathwing, the black terror of the deep

While the Cataclysm expansion was dedicated to the Lord of the Black Dragons tearing the world apart, he doesn't even make an appearance in Classic yet. In Deephold, the realm of the Earth Elementals, the Earthen, and the Stone Trogs, Deathwing, formerly known as Neltharion, driven mad by the Old Gods, is recovering from his final battle against the peoples of Azeroth. In it, all the Dragon Aspects had once again come together to face Deathwing, who had been strengthened by the Dragon Soul. After the brave wizard Rhonin destroyed this powerful artifact, the remaining aspects once again had the power to stop Deathwing. However, the mad leader of the black dragons escaped and has since awaited the day of vengeance, while his children Onyxia and Nefarian continue their father's work - in human form as Katrana Prestor and Victor Nefarius. While Deathwing plots even in Deephold, his children, like raid boss Onyxia, continue the fight against the races of Azeroth. Source: buffed

Back to the Beginning of the Journey with Classic

After all these glimpses of missing races, villains, and nations, some might naturally think: "What the hell? Why should I do without my Worgen, Blood Elves, Draenei & Co? And the Lich King isn't even an issue?" That's a legitimate approach to letting Classic be rather, but returning to the beginning of WoW because of it also has an appeal that the game can't boast today. The factions were smaller back then, of course, but they were also more defined because of it. No pretty-boy blood elves. No alien draenei. If you joined the Horde, for example, you really wanted to play an alliance of freaks and aliens that went for shamanic flair and savagery (or you chose undead). Without the big world-destroying stories of the later expansions, there was also more room for shaping our own story, where we start out as absolute nobodies setting out into a relatively down-to-earth fantasy world that's just come through major disasters. That's because Warcraft 3's eventful story left many narrative threads open to be picked up in Classic.