Tin Foil Hat: Battle for Azeroth

Battle for Azeroth.

All things considered, it’s a pretty great title for an expansion. It’s snappy, easily acronymed (the internet has determined, BfA it is), and vague. What are we battling for? Well, Azeroth. But does that mean actual land territory? Or maybe the titan soul within the planet itself? And who is doing the battling?

When I first saw the expansion title, fading in all slow motion and awesome-like after the cinematic, the first place my mind went was oh, this is a Horde versus Alliance expansion. And when you think about it, that makes a lot of sense. Both factions are going to be spending much of their time trying to conquer the cities, zones, and continents of Azeroth. It is quite literally, a Battle for Azeroth.

But a question kept coming up.

Why?

Why now, after seeing the value of working together to defeat threats like the Legion? Why now, after learning via Magni of the dire fate that Azeroth is in? Why now, with a King on one side who favors peace and a Warchief on the other who just wants her people to be left alone?

Something doesn’t add up. While we don’t have all the story yet (the expansion is many, many months away, after all), it doesn’t make sense that the Horde would try to burn Teldrassil. It seems downright insane that the Alliance would attack Lordaeron. It seems downright insane….

One of the biggest threads left over from Legion (at this point) is the resurgence of the Old Gods. From the Shadow Priest artifact experience to the Magni questline to the entire zone of Val’sharah, it’s clear that the Deep Ones are beginning to gear up for something big. The world soul within Azeroth is vulnerable, and the Old Gods may be trying to capitalize on that weakness.

Unlike the other foes we face though, the Old Gods are never direct about anything. They don’t open portals and send armies through in endless hordes. They don’t tear free of the ground, burning all in their path. For all intents in purposes, they’re barely seen at all. Instead, Old Gods manipulate. They act behind the scenes, whispering to this person or that one to slowly but surely create chaos in their favor.

What better form of chaos is there than a global war? If all of the defenders of Azeroth, all of the people who could potentially see what the Old Gods were up to and put an end to their actions, are otherwise occupied fighting and killing one another, that gives the forces of madness plenty of breathing room to do whatever they please. No one’s eyes are on the old Titan holding facilities anymore, they’re all trained towards the enemy faction.

So, here’s my tinfoil hat theory: Battle for Azeroth has nothing to do with the conflict between the Horde and Alliance. Instead, it is the struggle between us, the heroes of the world, and the Old Gods who wish to corrupt the world soul. And, at this point, we’re losing. Badly. We don’t even see the threat.

Looking at it through another lens, the only other expansion we’ve had that, from first glance, appeared to focus predominantly on faction warfare was Mists of Pandaria. However, as we went through the campaign, we quickly learned that there was other forces involved. Specifically, the sha, remnants of a long dead Old God who were still inciting negative emotions and stirring up chaos. Mists of Pandaria taught us that using our own deep-seated hatred for one another is a classic Old God tactic. And if they used it once, they’re bound to use it again.

It took an entire expansion to fight off the effects of one dead old god (and his sha-infused orc puppet). What would happen if several, very much alive Old Gods decided to play with some emotions?

World war. We’d fight each other more viciously than we’d ever fought each other before. We’d burn down sacred places despite our own respect for them (the World Tree, while home to the Night Elves, is also revered by many other races). We’d attack the husk of a long dead city out of a vain desire to rout out the woman who runs the place. We savagely go at one another, all because someone or something is quietly dropping hints in the background.

I don’t think it’s any mistake that our “artifact” for this expansion is The Heart of Azeroth. There’s something going on at a much larger, more cosmic level than just an escalation of the faction war. While I do think it is pretty plausible that the Horde and Alliance would, when given the chance, keep fighting, the intensity at which they’ve picked up the fight seems extreme.

Azeroth is in immediate danger. The Azerite leaking out all over the place is the most visble symptom of a world soul under attack. Every moment that the Alliance and Horde spends fighting is another moment that Azeroth battles the Old Gods who would corrupt her. We refuse to listen to Magni’s warnings and our world soul only weakens further and further. It’s a race to see which will run out first: our hatred for the opposite faction or the nascent Titan’s life essence.

My prediction is that the first couple patches are going to be centered solidly around the faction warfare. We’ll fight, and fight, and fight some more. But, similarly to how we went to Argus halfway through Legion, I’m guessing that we will see a shift. Whether it be at the faction level, with both sides ceasing their battle or at the individual player level with us, the heroes of Azeroth, being pulled away from the battlefield for a much more pressing threat, I’m predicting that the focus of the expansion will shift to a more holistic scale. To a more… Old God scale.

War is never well timed. But this global conflict presented in Battle for Azeroth seems suspiciously ill-advised. The Horde and Alliance have a history of pulling together when it counts, so for us to be splintering now is downright worrying. There is something more going on.

Sk’yahf qi’magg luk sshoq anagg’qen, my friends.

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15 thoughts on “Tin Foil Hat: Battle for Azeroth

  1. Pingback: NaNoWriMo Wrap Up | Growing up in Azeroth

  2. I got confused a bit when you mentioned Muradin, but after realising you meant Magni I totally agree with the speculation.

    Another thing, you mention “The World Tree is revered by other races”, but Teldrassil is *a* World Tree, not *the* World Tree – the only real one, blessed by the titans and revered by other races, THE World Tree, is Nordrassil in Mount Hyjal. Failed World Trees are a real problem created by Fandral Staghelm, including Teldrassil, Shala’drassil (Val’sharah) and the most problematic one Nordrassil/Vordrassil in Grizzly Hills – which allowed Yogg-Saron and the other Old Gods to create the Emerald Nightmare.

    And while it is nostalgic for me too, I welcome the burning of the tree and the Alliance getting Lordaeron back, especially since it’s only for 110+ characters.

    With N’Zoth being somewhere at the sea (Vash’jir, Ny’alotha, we’ll see), Azshara as a boss later in the expansion and Uldir – a titan vault where the keepers experimented with Old Gods stuff being the first raid of the expansion – I think it’s very likely we are gonna get some Old Gods action this expansion.

    The way I see it, We fight to the death, the war destroys Azeroth’s lands, making her bleed too much, almost dying – and then, “At the time of her third death, she will usher in our coming”.

    Overall, Battle for Azeroth, while first feeling like “ugh faction war again”, feels like it’s going to be great, along the lines of MoP.

    • Oops! I kept writing Muradin thinking something was off and yup, I got the wrong M-named dwarf. Fixed now!

      This is true about the whole collection of World Trees, I used ‘the’ in that specific case more for clarity than because it was the *only* one. However, I will say, both the Night Elves and the druids in general went through a lot of effort to cleans the corruption from Teldrassil so I’d argue, even though it isn’t the original, it’s pretty dang close in terms how how much effort and love lore folks have put into it.

      I didn’t even connect that Il’gynoth line but wow, it fits perfectly! After Battle for Azeroth is done, it’d probably be fascinating to go back through and see how many of those predictions came true during the expansion, haha

      And I’m with you, bring on the Old Gods! While I love a good faction war, I think the Old Gods wrinkle makes it so much more interesting. I’d heard of Azshara being a boss, but not about the Uldir raid in specifics, so that’s even more evidence. We’re probably sailing right over N’zoth for the majority of this expansion!

      • I see what you meant with the world tree, I thought that at first you implied that it is THE World Tree, but yes it makes sense now that it was for clarity.

        And I agree Teldrassil is indeed important, as Wowpedia states: “while being the youngest of it’s kind, it is one of the most important”.

        I also see I made a typo wearing Nordrassil again when referring to Vordrassil’s old name, which is Andrassil.

        There is really good speculation on Wowhead about who burned Teldrassil and how it goes down – now that we know it happened before the attack on Lordaeron.

        I thought from the “Before the Storm” prologue that Sylvanas did it, because she is the insane lady she is, but, If it’s going down like Nobbel’s speculation that the Desolate Council did it, it shows her in a much better light and sets the scene to be kind of like the beginning of Legion, where the Alliance gets half of the story and wants to start the war.

        About Uldir, they said it’s the first raid, a titan vault used to experiment with Old Gods Minions and that the end boss is a expriment gone wrong which caused the corruption of the Blood Trolls and the main issue at Zandalar.

        The creature/expriment/thing was sealed by 3 seals but they were broken and only one remains, we will see where they went through the expansion.

        The atmosphere is a troll temple, that delving into it you see the titan architerctue and deep Old Gods influence.

        The “Design a boss” panel also showed a boss that will be part of the raid and you can see tentacles on the map!

        I think we might actually reach the situation I mentioned with the Il’gynoth quote mid/late-expansion as the expansion slowly shifts towards an Old God threat and the forces in the war go wary. I don’t think the war will carry through all the expansion, just most of it.

        But as I said, the expansion seem to have a focus on Lore and some really interesting stories and it sounds exciting.

        And if we does go like that, with the story slowly shifting towards Old Gods, I think it’s a better way to build the story – not immediately jumping into a fight with the forces of the Void.

        Lastly, sorry my comments are so long – I’m just writing all my thoughts 😛

        • No worries on the longer comments, I tend to get pretty lengthy in my replies as well!

          I’ll admit, I totally missed the release of “Before the Storm”. (I know what I’m doing this weekend!) However, the idea that a rebel faction underneath Sylvannas instigated the act doesn’t really surprise me that much, although it would be a touch unoriginal. From Sylvannas’s past history, she seems like the kind of leader who sometimes misses the forest for the trees in terms of her own people. She gets incredibly focused on her current goal and then misses when those around her are betraying her. It happened at Wrath Gate and I could totally see it happening again here, especially if she’s been away in the Broken Shores while the conspirators are at home, plotting.

          That being said, though, it’s kind of an uninspired method for that all to go down. Horde splinter faction does something terrible, Horde leaders do not approve but Alliance doesn’t know that and goes off to wage war. I know Blizzard works very hard to ensure that neither side seems to tip too far to the ‘good’ or ‘evil’ side of the spectrum, but I think there’s many more interesting ways than Horde is Disunited and Alliance are Fools to get the story going.

          For example, what if the Horde finds out that there’s Old Gods corrupting Teldrassil once again? Everything is happening too fast though, and Sylvannas takes the actions she deems fit and burns the tree down, trying to stop the spread of the corruption. To the Alliance, this is an unforgivable act. Why did the Horde not consult the Night Elves first? Words are exchanged, people begin to fight, and boom, Battle for Azeroth has begun. That’s just an idea, but I personally would find it more original than Wrath-Gate redux.

          Regarding Uldir, that sounds pretty wicked cool! I’m going to have to level up some Horde characters this coming expansion – I need to see all of that firsthand! I wonder why the Titans decided to mess with Old God stuff in the first place. Wouldn’t they know best of all how corrupting and nasty those buggers can be? I am so excited to next expansion’s raids already, and we haven’t even finished Legion’s!

  3. I do remember the Old Gods coming into a full focus back in Wrath of the Lich King. Awesome stories came out of that area and many of us were really hooked completely with it. Naturally, a lot of the follow-up with the Sha in MoP which I totally got wrapped up and played every single zone and literally ran out of things to do – I cried when I didn’t have any more quests to do on my main in Pandaria, however, I just continued on. I’m really looking forward to the new expansion and need to get myself pumped up to finish Legion on at least one character – it just seemed to leave me rather confused and extremely tired of RNG. Love the game and the joy it brings to all who truly do get involved with it.

    • I need to go back through the Wrath quests again; I’ve forgotten most of what happens other than the very beginning of the Alliance side questing. I can’t remember the Yogg-Saron parts at all! The Old Gods and the Sha are fast becoming one of my favorite unresolved story lines in the game, and I sincerely hope my prediction is right. Bring on Battle for Azeroth and bring on the insanity!

  4. I really hope you are right, that we will see a shift. And that those places that are so important to us can be restored in some way…One can hope.

    “What would happen if several, very much alive Old Gods decided to play with some emotions?” also puts it into perspective, nicely said .)

    • I’m probably the oddball here but I actually don’t mind it too much if Blizzard permanently changes Teldrassil and Lordaeron *on the basis that* these changes aren’t visible until one reaches 110. That way, we can still experience the zones we know and love in their original form on lower leveled characters, but they are allowed to change and evolve in the story rather than forever remaining static. Also, thank you muchas! I had a lot of fun writing this one, haha

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