WoW! Thoughts! — On the Tragedy of Stonetalon Mountains

Thoughts on how Blizzard skillfully uses Stonetalon Mountains to show the tragic impact of war.


In my rush to experience Theramore these last few weeks, I finally leveled an Alliance character through Stonetalon Mountains.  I enjoyed this zone on my first playthrough as Horde, especially since it’s one of the few zones where Garrosh shows growth as a character.  Imagine my surprise when I saw the Alliance tracking the Horde’s goblin bomb as it enters the zone from Ashenvale.

The Horde quest takes the player up through the ranks of the military unit that Garrosh has assigned to overtake the region.  As the player advances through the storyline, they realize that the Horde leaders in this region are corrupt to the point that they will destroy everything in the valley in their attempts to conquer it, regardless of the actual threat.  The zone culminates with the Horde bomb detonating over an innocent druid school.

Overlord Krom’gar (who mercilessly ordered the bombing) is about to claim control of Stonetalon in the name of Hellscream when Garrosh himself shows up, and chastises the commander for lacking honor in his actions.  The Overlord is thrown off a cliff as punishment.  Garrosh then turns on the player for his role in the debacle, but is spared when Chief Cliffwalker, the tauren chieftan whose family perished in the chaos, intervenes and points out that the player was trying to help.  Garrosh orders the player off to another zone, as there’s nothing further to be done in Stonetalon.

This scene is one of the more prominent events to occur in Cataclysm.  It shows that Garrosh has learned from Saurfang’s lessons in Northrend, and it shows that Garrosh is not simply a vicious monster.  He may be violently expanding the Horde beyond its borders, but still values honor in combat and is not looking to attack innocents.  The fact that the Horde acknowledges that the events in Stonetalon are a tragedy makes playing through the Alliance side all the more heart-breaking.

Having played Horde first, I knew the moment I laid eyes on the bomb that it was going to go off, and none of the missions I was about to undertake would stop it.  From the Alliance perspective, the Horde are monsters for using this weapon, and the Alliance can’t comprehend why they would.  They claim that the Horde doesn’t appreciate beauty.  What they fail to realize is that the bomb is the result of the actions of one orc – not the entire Horde.  Overlord Krom’gar is the monster, not the Horde.  But they don’t see that.  The Alliance doesn’t see Garrosh attempting to redress the situation.  All they see is the destruction that befalls the valley.  Even Master Thal’darah openly blames Hellscream for the bombing.  And rightly so, as they would have no way of knowing the truth of what is happening at Cliffwalker Post overlooking the valley during their rescue attempts.

Before the detonation, one of the first missions in Stonetalon is to kill eight Krom’gar Incinerators, yet the quest is called Hellscream’s Legacy.  The Alliance talks about Garrosh attempting to claim sovereignty over all of Kalimdor, yet they are fighting Krom’gar’s forces.  They don’t see the difference and technically, they are right.  Krom’gar is acting under Garrosh’s orders, no matter how much destruction he imparts on the zone that Garrosh would disapprove of.  Garrosh is the face of the Horde, regardless of how well the Horde represents him.  In this case, it’s to his detriment; and its why his leadership style is so brutal at the end of the zone.

Stonetalon Mountains serve to underscore that there are no victors in war, there are only victims.  The druid school is destroyed.  High Chieftan Cliffwalker has lost his family.  Much of Stonetalon is burned.  Garrosh may have conquered the zone, but the expense of honor for the Horde is too great.  Krom’gar’s army is dismissed, the player purged of his or her rank.  It’s a sad zone to play through no matter which side you choose, and it highlights just how Blizzard wants us to be looking at the Alliance-Horde conflict going into Mists of Pandaria; where we’re going to get a whole new set of innocents to start dropping bombs on.

Hopefully, we’ll learn our lessons before we destroy the whole continent.

WoW! Blurbs!


The Theramore Scenario is not available yet.  WHEREZ MAH THERAMORE BLIZZ IS TEH SUX0R!!!

Remote services (guild chat and auction house) are now free for everyone.  Auction House PVP is the REAL PVP.

Interview with Christie Golden.  Tides of War is available now.  At least Theramore is destroyed SOMEWHERE.


Nick Zielenkievicz
Nick Zielenkievicz
Nick Zielenkievicz

Senior Producer

Host of WoW! Talk! and The Tauren & The Goblin. Sometimes known as the Video Games Public Defender. Wants to play more Destiny and Marvel Heroes but WoW is all-consuming. Decent F2P Hearthstone player. Sad that he lost the Wii that had Wrecking Crew on it. Would be happy if the only game ever made was M.U.L.E. Gragtharr on Skywall-US. Garresque on Ravencrest-US.

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