NOTE: This article discusses events from the novel War Crimes. Please do not read if you do not want the book spoiled for you.
In the two years since its finale, Cataclysm has become a demarcation line in Warcraft lore. It was not entirely clear what Alexstraza meant when she proclaimed that the Age of Mortals had begun, but War Crimes shows just how this Age is progressing by throwing all of Azeroth’s leaders in close proximity for us to witness just how they get along. Considering Warcraft is a game based off of racial hatreds, our leaders are surprisingly civil. If the first major event of the Age of Mortals was Garrosh’s rampage across Kalimdor and his destruction of Theramore as depicted in Tides of War, then War Crimes captures the moment when the world comes together to begin the healing and rebuilding process. As to be expected, however, that healing moment is immediately interrupted by the next great threat.
One of the biggest questions surrounding Warlords of Draenor is who will be the final boss. Blizzard has already established that Garrosh will serve as a catalyst for the events in the expansion and nothing more, and relying on the orc warlords to play the villains runs the risk of overexposing the orcish race in the raid boss role. (If anything, the warlords will probably be used as the sha were in Mists – a few dungeon bosses, a few raid bosses, a few quest bosses and maybe a world boss). Blizzard did a terrible job of keeping Kairoz’s role in Garrosh’s escape secret at Blizzcon, so when Kairoz appears as a time advisor for Baine (and conveniently, Garrosh) at roughly the same time a mysterious dragon is revealed to be assembling a band of Garrosh-loyalists for nefarious purposes, it becomes clear that Kairozdormu is manipulating everyone the whole time. Sadly, Azeroth’s heroes are all too preoccupied with the trial to realize what is really happening.
Kairoz attacks with the support of the Infinite Dragonflight. While the direct consequences of their challenge will be the Iron Horde pouring through the Dark Portal soon enough, they represent a much larger threat than an army of history’s greatest orcs can provide. During the climactic battle, Kairoz summons alternate version of Azeroth’s leaders – an enslaved Thrall, a Warchief Baine, and a crazed Kalecgos, among others – to battle their counterparts in the wake of Garrosh’s escape. Baine, when engaged with his Garrosh-slaying alternate self, learns that Kairoz traveled into the alternate timeline and recruited him specifically, meaning that Kairoz has the power to openly travel to any place and time at his whim. Kairoz not only has access to all of Azeroth’s history – he has full access to all of Azeroth’s alternate histories as well.
Thus, the Draenor that Garrosh finds himself on is not the Draenor he grew up on – of all the (infinite!) Draenors that Kairoz could send Garrosh to, the fact that this version was selected implies that this Draenor was specifically chosen for the ability to foster the Iron Horde. Any historical differences that may already exist will only bend the orcs closer to Garrosh’s cause and further from the Burning Legion. Garrosh is the catalyst who hates just about everyone on Azeroth and wants to see it conquered under his Horde, but Kairoz has given him the means, and if anything, is using Garrosh and the Iron Horde to further his own mysterious goal. Given that goal involves conquering present-day Azeroth, this makes Kairoz the greatest threat we have had to face (at least since Deathwing).
The problem with Kairoz is that the armies he can send at Azeroth are limitless. He has access to all timelines, and using the epoch stones we have provided for him weekly on the Timeless Isle, can summon villains from throughout history. He can pull Arthas from a timeline where the Alliance and Horde fell in Icecrown Citadel. He can pull Illidan from a timeline where his reign over Outland survived our crusade. Even if we defeat those villains, he can find a similar timeline and do it again.
The Infinite Dragonflight was previously only a minor pain in World of Warcraft. Conceived mostly as an excuse to send players to iconic moments in Warcraft lore, the Infinite Dragonflight served as the foil to the Bronze Dragonflight’s stalwart devotion to maintaining the timeline. However, with Cataclysm culminating in the Hour of Twilight, the Aspects served their purpose by defeating Deathwing and lost their powers, including Nozdormu’s dominion over time. While the Bronze Dragons could keep the Infinite Dragons in check, that balance was now undone, and the newly created Timewalkers faction, consisting of Bronze Dragons and mortals willing to help, lacks the necessary control of time to stand against the Infinite. A vacuum for control over time was created, and there is no counterbalance to the Infinite Dragonflight’s attempts at abusing the timelines.
This means that Kairozdormu and his allies need to be stopped at all costs. Not only can he bring former enemies to bear against us, he can even bring versions of our allies against us as well. If Blizzard wants, they could mine this for multiple expansions – each taking us to a different timeline where we can encounter assorted champions from Azeroth’s history and relive versions of the past. It certainly extends the Warcraft universe; however, I doubt that is the goal. Given that each expansion takes two years (or more! sigh…) to play through, I’m sure that after Draenor, we’ll be ready to return to Azeroth proper and advance the story of Warcraft in modern times.
While it’s possible that Kairoz could bring the Iron Horde over and then disappear to the paths of time, it’s more likely that he will remain behind the scenes at first. As someone who drew the ire of every leader of Azeroth with his brazen release of Garrosh, Kairoz is too powerful and high profile a target to be ignored during Warlords of Draenor. If anything, it would make sense that as our final task in stopping the Iron Horde, we will be charged to kill Kairoz and prevent any more time shenanigans. If true, this would lend itself to an amazing final raid, as Kairoz can literally assemble a gauntlet of our history’s greatest threats for us to face off – a veritable Raid Boss Hall of Fame. While this might seem a bit gimmicky, given that we are in Warcraft’s 20th year, and WoW’s 10th, this sort of raid would both serve as a fitting anniversary present and nostalgia trip.
War Crimes is a great book, but I wish I had come to it with no knowledge of the coming expansion. Instead of watching Kairoz’s deception fully aware of his impending betrayal, I would have enjoyed being surprised to learn that our quest giver from the Timeless Isle was not to be trusted and that Garrosh would walk free again. Where Tides of War stood independent from the events of Cataclysm and existed to prepare relationships and characters in for Mists of Pandaria, War Crimes serves as a coda to Mists, while laying the groundwork for Warlords of Draenor. In doing so, it has highlighted just who we will be facing as we work through the new continent.
Patch 5.4.8 goes live today! I bet we hit 5.4.12 before 6.0. http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/14167556/548-patch-notes-5-19-2014
The Warcraft twitter account teased a new ravager mount. That looks pretty bad ass. https://twitter.com/Warcraft/status/466374016421609472
Blizzard revealed the new female Night Elf model, and the world exploded because it lacked fangs. I didn’t realize Darnassian word for “night elf” was “vampire.” http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/14096397/artcraft-huntress-of-teldrassil-5-13-2014 (Everyone relax… the final version will have fangs!)
Blizzard has released Crash Course videos for each of the classes to help players who boost to 90. This seems like a waste of time. I would expect most players boosted back when the feature was launched two months ago, which means this is too late to help them, and when the number of the boosts increases upon Warlords release, these videos will be out of date, as they discuss the current class skills and do not reflect the coming changes in patch 6.0. Still, I suppose this was good practice for the video team. http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/14005221/leap-into-action-with-our-new-level-90-crash-course-videos-5-19-2014
Zarhym tweeted about the delay in Warlords Alpha news. I’m pretty sure alpha will be out on or before 12/20/2014. https://twitter.com/CM_Zarhym/status/467240122971193345
Azeroth Choppers is up to episode 5. I love that with developers so desperate for in game content that they are adding needless upgrades to items just to provide people with an excuse to keep playing for a few more months, THIS is the content that Blizzard keeps pumping out regularly. Azeroth Choppers would be a mindless distraction during a regular content cycle, but the lack of in-game content highlights the pointlessness of this show. During an expansion, with the player base sated with new stuff to do, Azeroth Choppers is a fine way to waste ten minutes in a Warcraft-related fashion. But now, this may be the only way some people are interfacing with the game, and although this is not delaying Warlords release, it still feels like it is. Someone at Blizzard HQ needs to look at just how they are representing themselves to the fanbase, and while they can hold Blizzcon and feel all the love in the room, they have to know that there is a real sense of frustration amongst the players, and Azeroth Choppers can only harm them in that regard. I am not claiming they should not have made the series, but this would have at least made more sense if they held it back until beta was in progress. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZ2gZOhawuE