World of Warcraft is one of the most influential games of our time, and one that most people have at least considered playing. With over 10 years under their belt, Blizzard hasn't given an indication of tiring with the game and the development that they put into it at this time. However, new players are often torn between friends and what they have already heard, wondering what class and faction they should play. In the past it wasn't possible to play both, and many guilds still only accept players who are willing to only play one faction or the other. With the entire game revolving around these two factions, it should hardly be surprising that tensions are at a high between players.
So when starting out, how do you know what faction is for you? Whether you are Alliance or Horde, the game is meant to be immersive, and players usually become attached to their role. So here are a few handy tips to help choose a side and get you started on the game as a whole. Good luck, and enjoy your travels in the world of Azeroth.
One of the biggest arguments in the game is always over which side has the most children, and who is playing the worst. From trade chat to battlegrounds, the argument seems to go on forever. Sadly this is an argument that both sides will forever be engaged in, but one that is also likely to actually have some real bearing on the way that you play as well. Players aren't wrong when they accuse the other side of playing completely differently, and part of the reason is the actual play styles that are presented in the first few levels of the game.
On the Alliance side, the starting story lines are extremely lore heavy, and there is a lot of running. You seem to be earning your way to the top, trying to prove yourself as you move through the ranks, hoping that you will be noticed by the people you are fighting alongside. Slowly you seem to build up momentum, rising to the attention of the king and showing that you can be of service. The importance of being part of something, part of the group that is the Alliance is drilled into your head via each and every quest. This leads to a play style that is often extremely contemplative and less impulsive than people would originally have thought. This is also usually the side that will save cooldowns, waiting for the perfect moment to blow them all, leading to great victory.
On the Horde side, the starting lines are somewhat ruthless and still involve a decent amount of running. You are less earning your way to the top through proving yourself, and more showing that you belong to everyone you come across. NPCs doubt your abilities and may even talk down to your slightly. There is only one thing that is respected within the Horde, and that is power. Without power, it is hard to truly progress and the game seems intense from the start. Some areas will combine this with a more spiritual story line, but there is still a need to demonstrate power even in these circumstances. This leads to a play style that is brash, exciting, and full of get-up-and-go. Players who are on this side will often blow their cooldowns at the start of a fight, hoping to take out their enemy fast and move along to the next. The knowledge that death is around every corner and that power will push you through it is one that resonates with almost all Horde players.
Neither playstyle is wrong, and players who feel they would enjoy one over the other may find that the beginning quests either speak to them or don't. The majority of content is the same on both sides, but the way that you approach it will determine the returns you get. In a way, the question of Alliance or Horde is really a question of whether you are aggressive of analytical.
WoW is known for the visuals that they produce, and the two factions often have access to very different color palettes, animals, and other goodies within the game. Each expansion brings new themes, but there are always small differences that are important to many players. In addition, the races wear items different, making it clear that their past and their lore actually matters. Two players of different races can loot the same item and look completely different, making the race and faction one chooses one of the deciding factors in your aesthetic, even with the transmog ability.
For the Alliance, much of the color scheme is blue and other deep royal colors. The colors of Stormwind seem to color many of the items in the game with the Druid colors coming in a close second. Everything seems vibrant and alive, and many times the outfits seem less than imposing. With the smaller races mostly falling to the side of the Alliance, there are also a number of extremely cute outfits that really only look good on the frame of a tiny Dwarf or an angry little Gnome.
For the Horde, red, brown, and black seem to dominate. Everything about these colors screams power, and shared color palates seem to be mostly druid-themed as well. It's one of the best ways to tell a druid apart from other players when viewed from a distance. The huge figures of Taurens and Orcs make the colors look even more menacing than they originally seemed to do. Shoulder pads seem to grow out of these classes rather than being worn, and often the one-shouldered look is in style. The more willowy races also look imposing in the darker colors, giving them an air of superiority that can be downright infuriating for players of the opposite faction.
The actual characters have extremely contrasting looks as well. The cool colors of the alliance seem to clash with the brash and bright colors of the Horde. Even the dances are more in your face, calling attention to characters as they move about the screen.
In the end, Alliance characters appear collected and calm while Horde characters appear superior and bright. The difference is extremely striking and shows the inclinations of the two factions very well.
In terms of lore, choosing Alliance or Horde will not leave you without a good story line. Each and every race has a huge amount of lore and players can easily get lost in the interesting storylines that come with each and every expansion. However, the lore does influence the playlist and different races are much more prone to having different emotions and thus evoking them from their players.
On the Alliance side you have elves who want peace but will protect the world at all cost, gnomes who are curious about everything around them, dwarves who want nothing more than re-claim their home, Draenei - an alien race looking for a place they belong, humans who are driven by a strong moral compass, wolves who seek to control themselves and learn more about the world, and Pandas who have found a new world where they belong to an organization stronger than any they could have ever imagined.
On the Horde side you have trolls who want to honor their ancestors, Orcs who want revenge for years of oppression, undead who want to claim the world as they own, Tauren who want to protect the gentle balance of the world with honor and whose giant bodies give them the strength needed to enforce their desires, Goblins who want to make their way, and a little extra cash, in a new world, and elves who have been cast out from their homes. They are joined by Pandas who feel that the Alliance have wronged the world in ways that cannot be forgiven, and who want to claw their way up through the world as well.
The leaders of the different factions also play a huge part in the storyline and many players feel that they are the core of the game. The Alliance is all united around Stormwind and takes it hard when their leader is killed. The Horde is filled with ambitious individuals and changes in leadership seem to happen often. The Horde then comes across as a series of self-interested factions working together for a better tomorrow, while the Alliance is under the rule of a single king.
Whether you choose Alliance or Horde, the players within the game are all extremely loyal to their factions, making it easier to understand when differences of opinion arise between the opposite sides.
Whether or not we like to admit it, the looks of the races actually play a lot into the choices of players. Whether the beefy Tauren or the Goat-like Draenei is your thing, picking a race is an extremely important part of the selection process. In the past, this would even heavily affect your raid healing, PvP, and questing abilities. With the normalization of all class skills and the removal of a large number of racial abilities, this isn't such a big deal anymore. However, the remaining racial abilities do leave you with a number of fun choices that most people find important to their play style.
On the Horde side, you have the ability to silence, to heal yourself, to stun enemies, to deal extra damage, to summon a mount even at low levels, and to bounce, a trait shared by Pandas on both sides. On the Alliance side, you have the ability to heal, to vanish, to see through stealth, to take less damage, to instantly travel, and to escape from binds. There are more abilities than those listed, but these are the most relevant.
As you might already be able to see, the Horde have an advantage for attacking, giving them a much more ruthless approach to enemies and PvP. Alliance, on the other hand, have the ability to live longer, to disappear, heal themselves, and to be extremely mobile. These abilities factor heavily into the play style of players, and almost all PvP groups will expect a player to have mastered their racial skills.
The races also affect the loyalty that a player feels to certain areas of the game, and to the NPCS that they encounter as well. Choosing to be a part of the Alliance means complete obedience to the king of Stormwind while choosing to be part of the Horde means total loyalty to power and your brothers in arms. In this situation, choosing Alliance or Horde is choosing how you will interact with the existing power structures within the game.
If you are interested in playing on a PvE server the balance will be much different than that of a PvP server, and that may affect your decision a lot more than you think. Being on the losing side, and constantly having to battle for resources or spending hours in queue looking for other players isn't fun, and most players feel that it is one of the worst parts of the game. This is why it is so important to understand the server balance before choosing a faction. Thankfully, WoW allows you to play both factions and even offers the chance to change your faction for a small fee.
If you are looking into a PVE server, there is a good chance that there will be a large number of Alliance players. This will spill over to the whole battle group, and many PvPers choose to play on PvE servers due to the odds being in their favor. This also factors into the amount of help available when doing world quests and looking into groups. With the combination of servers together, the wait time across servers is somewhat standard, but the server balance can definitely affect how much a player is able to do within the game. PvP servers tend to draw a higher population of Horde, and these battlegroups tend to favor this faction as well. This leads to a much more interesting PvP experience on both sides, but many players feel like they are at a disadvantage if they play Alliance on these servers.
Another thing that the balance of a server will affect is the economy. Because the Horde playstyle tends to be much more objective based, their economies will often have raw mats at a lower price than finished items, and their markets will usually move rather fast. Alliance heavy servers will often have high prices on raw materials, but lower prices on completed items, showing that the players are willing to do the dirty work themselves. These markets will often move slower as well, with more people working for the things they want, instead of relying on a strong farming population to take care of their basic needs.
Choosing Alliance or Horde will generally dictate the server type that you should choose. Thankfully there is a large amount of discussion on different forums about the actual balance, and the numbers are available online as well. Looking over them will provide a quick suggestion for anyone looking to get into the game without too much research.
Interest In RP
While there aren't very many role play servers, there are enough to make this a valid concern. Knowing which side is going to be most welcoming of your given story, or which side will have the most resources, is extremely important when role playing. Both sides have thriving communities that can be extremely welcoming, and that will help a new player get started with very few complaints.
The Alliance side is often themed around more religious ideals, with paladins of the night, adherents of the Naaru, and worshipers of Elune making up a huge part of the population. A number of alliance controlled zones have temples, churches, and Naaru in their midst. This makes it easy for anyone who wants to truly push the religious aspect of the game to the fullest extent possible. This side also heavily favors more Asian themed roleplay and has a lively tavern in Goldshire that should be visited at your own peril.
The Horde side heavily favors family based role play and individuals who are seeking to make a name for themselves. If you want to Rp something plays like a barbarian, a warrior, or a thief from D&D, this is the faction to be. It is also easy to play a loner, someone who is willing to do anything for their next kill, or an extremely motivated smuggler on this side. The overall feeling of most RPs is much higher fantasy with fewer outside influences than that of the Alliance.
The choice between Alliance or Horde for role play is mostly for aesthetics, but can still be important to a character as well.
Hopefully, you have a better understanding of which side you fall on, and which side you would support in an ultimate conflict. So, where do you think you fit in, and if you already play, did this article ring true with your own experiences?