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The Nicest of the Nice, the Baddest of the Bad, Part 1

February 29, 2012

Dear Reader,

I was thinking recently about “good guys.”  In Star Wars (don’t worry; this isn’t a Star Wars post!), it should be clear that jedi are good guys and empire are bad guys, though Bioware screwed that up with having evil jedi and good imperials (a debate for another day).  In thinking on that line, I started to think about WoW and its playable races, and it struck me to do a breakdown of what races appear as bad guys more often and what races appear as good guys.

This would be an enormous endeavor, though, and I’m relatively lax when it comes to doing posts simply due to the fact that I teach 6 writing classes and thus do my fair share of reading already.  Still, I figured one simple way would be to look at  bosses in dungeons and raids.  That would satisfy who the “baddest of the bad” were as well as who’s vastly underrepresented.  This will be another series, starting today with raid bosses, then looking at the dungeons over a correspondence or two.

The undead are a majority of playable-race raid bosses.  It’s really no surprise that no one trusts them, it turns out, since about half of the playable humanoid raid bosses are undead.  One could argue that it’s not fair to lump all forsaken in with all undead, and it’s really not clear if they’ve got the free will to stop fighting if they wanted to.  Still, just to count,  Naxxramas has 3 wings of undead bosses, plus the last two bosses at the end, totaling 14 (counting the horsemen separately), and even if you cut all the weird undead that are no longer really humanoid, you have Razuvious, Heigan, Noth, Gothik, and the Four horsemen, totaling 8.

Then there’s ICC.  Once again, it may not be fair to lump undead in with forsaken, and since this is ICC, I can see that these goons might have been more under Arthas’s sway than they were in Naxx (which initially existed before even the Burning Crusade, before Arthas was really relevant in WoW).  For instance, I would hardly count Saurfang as having free will, but what about Arthas himself?  Being exceptionally generous, we’ll only chalk Arthas up to being an undead raid boss in here, because otherwise the whole place would count against the undead (10 if we count them all, though only Saurfang and Arthas are really “humanoid”).

Then, again, we have Karazhan.  There’s a lot of undead in here, but are they free willed or under the control of Prince?  From the story of Nightbane, my guess would be that they’re not really free willed.  Still, this is another raid where the undead are made to look pretty bad, whether they have free will or not (5 if we count all the undead, including the Opera Event, but that’s kind of weird one.  Of those 5, though 3 are playable races and classes).

Lastly, there’s Teron Gorefiend.  Once again, it’s not fully clear how under his own control he is; he’s the leader of the death knights, but he’s on another world, after all, away from the Lich King and working for Illidan, so I assume he should be counted as free willed.  It’s tricky to tell with undead, though.

So overall, the undead are by far made to look the “baddest” of all the races, with 30 undead raid bosses (but only 14 really as “playable undead humanoids”) but with an asterisk: how free willed are they, and if they’re not free willed, should they be counted?


Trolls come in second in the “baddest” category, as they had two raids directly related to them: Zul’Gurub and Zul’Aman.  Unlike the undead, it’s clear that these trolls were in full control of their mental facilities, so this clearly is a “racial” issue.  Yes, they were under bad leadership (and still are, apparently), but they chose to worship Hakkar and their totem spirits, so they really only have themselves to blame.  The troll count for raid bosses totals 13, even if a lot of them have since been downgraded to dungeon bosses.

Blood Elves:

Coming in third are our favorite “drug addicts,” the Blood elves.  While they are third, they are still significantly less than the previous categories, no matter how you count them.  Again, there’s an issue of choice, since addictions can certainly lead to poor life choices, but I’m going to toss them all in and say they’re free willed enough to count.  First, we have our famous repeater, Kael’thas, final boss of Tempest Keep.  With him are all his council goons, totaling 5 blood elves in TK.

Additionally, we have the Illidari Council in Black Temple.  Again, four blood elves are guarding further infiltration of their master’s lairs.  Apparently blood elves make great councilmen (and women).  This brings our total up to 9.

Lastly, we have Leotheras the Blind in Serpentshrine Caverns.  Though he has dark hair, he is in fact a blood elf, making our final total 10 blood elves in only 3 raid encounters.

Orcs have two raid bosses, though one of them fooled me and looked like a Worgen.  Hagara the Stormbinder and, technically, High Overlord Saurfang.

Night elves:

Night Elves also have two raid representations.   Illidan, for one, represents the night elf raid boss population, though he’s barely a night elf by the time he’s a raid boss.  Secondly, Fandral Staghelm.  He of all the “humanoid” raid bosses is one of the worst, I feel, for his betrayal and cowardice (sending Leyara to do his dirty work).


Then we get down to the slim pickings.  There is only one living human raid boss, the Grand Widow, Faerlina.  She apparently just loves spiders and death so much she voluntarily agreed to work with Kel’Thuzad.


When beginning this, I was under the impression that the Tauren would be the “nicest of the nice.”  Sure, they’ve got Magatha and the Grimtotems, but they don’t have any raid bosses, right?  Wrong.  Apparently they slipped one by me, another I’ve never met.  Warmaster Blackhorn, the sixth boss in Dragon Soul, now represents all the “bad” tauren out there.


It’s a stretch, but technically there is a dwarven  raid boss: Muradin Bronzebeard.  He commands the alliance gunship in the eponymous battle to the top of ICC.

So in the end, there are four “good guy” races on Azeroth who haven’t yet done enough bad things to warrant becoming raid material: Gnomes, Draenei, Worgen, and Goblins.  However, two of those appears pretty heavily in dungeons, as we’ll see tomorrow, leaving really a competition for nicest of the nice between Draenei and Goblins.  I guess the scores will out who’s on top shortly.

It is clear that the horde are massively over-represented as raid bosses, though, as no alliance race has more than one to their name.  I wonder if that will change in the coming battle.  Additionally, apparently females are far nicer than males on Azeroth, because of those raid bosses listed here, a vast majority are males around the order of 75%.  This discrimination is, of course, pretty typical to fantasy fare, but I’d have expected more from Blizzard.  Ah well.


Stubborn (and nice, sometimes)

Edit: fixed some mistakes pointed out by Repgrind (thanks!)

17 Comments leave one →
  1. February 29, 2012 2:52 pm

    Wouldn’t you have to put Staghelm in as a Night Elf raid boss?

    Hagara is actually an orc. She just wears that wolf-head shaman helm.

    • February 29, 2012 3:20 pm

      Quite right, and tarnation! I was afraid I’d overlook someone, and for some reason my mind just mentally counted out “Firelands” after I went through MC and found nothing. Thanks!

  2. Matt permalink
    February 29, 2012 4:38 pm

    Gorefiend came from Warcraft 2’s expansion pack. He was the leader of the death knights in Warcraft 2, which were orcish-side units somewhat similar to the Warcraft 3 hero unit. My understanding was that he was a member of the shadow council with Gul’dan and basically took over after Gul’dan’s running off. I guess then that he would be an orc, though an undead one. He came about before Arthas, at any rate.

    They’ve probably retconned all of this, but it brought back memories that have to be shared. War2’s expansion was so uber-difficult that I could never beat it and had to cheat.

    I also thought that Leotheras was a Night Elf. Maybe that’s just because I assume that all demon hunters are night elves.

    I wonder if Blizzard considers the Horde to be the bad guys. Orcs have been retconned into being peaceful shamanistic types corrupted by demon blood, but that history of orcs as evil has to have some continuing inertia. And then undead have never really been portrayed as anything other than morally indifferent at best.

    What’s really sad is that I find Warcraft lore discussion more interesting than playing WoW. I wonder if we’ll ever see Warcraft 4.

    • March 1, 2012 6:05 pm

      I just read the wowwiki stuff on Gorefiend, and it’s really interesting how they sort of retrofitted his character into the Arthas DK stuff. I’m not sure I like it, to be honest, because it seems kind of poorly done, but it’s certainly a good story.

      I never had it in me to play RTS games. I think too much and react too slowly to do well against other players, and the single player campaigns I usually start to struggle with more than is fun about 75% of the way through. I can’t imagine how difficult that expansion must be if it’s tough for hardcore RTS players.

      I thought Leotheras was too, but when I went to wowwiki to confirm, it said blood elf. I just assume they’re right about it.

      You make an interesting point about the intertia of evil. It’s interesting how Grom basically freed them from their evilness, yet perhaps the view still abounds that the allies are “good guys” and the horde are “bad guys,” despite Varian’s warmongering, the Night elves selfishness in Ashenvale, the dwarves racism against the return of the Dark Irons, the gnomes dangerous carelessness, the draenei’s penchant to lead the burning legion around the galaxy destroying planets that they escape from, and the worgens… well, I don’t know enough about them to be honest (;

      Thanks for the comment!

  3. Imakulata permalink
    February 29, 2012 6:24 pm

    Actually, the faction champions include all races that were playable at the time and Big bad wolf is a worgen, so the only race that lacks a raid boss is goblins.

    If exact numbers are to be counted, there will be two problems. First, how to count council bosses – an extreme example are the faction champions (28 which might make ToC the raid with the largest number of bosses) 🙂 although even non-council bosses may have adds with unique names (Karathress). Second, how to count the bosses which do not quite fall to their races – undead bosses come to mind (there are non-humanoid undead, ghosts, human-like non-forsaken undeads and actual forsaken – I think only Faction champions are forsaken) but there’s also an iron dwarf, fel orc and forest trolls (playable ones are jungle).

    (I can’t use the word humanoid for human-like because that’s an in-game mob classification and they are undead, not humanoids.)

    PS: Astromancer Solarian is a blood elf too.

    • March 1, 2012 5:21 pm

      Faction champions was something I definitely overlooked. I remember considering them when I first started the post, but apparently in the intermediate 2 hours of class it just feel from my head. You’re right, though, everyone gets representation there (that existed at the time), but at some level that means that it’s not really relevant as anything but a +1 to each race.

      For council bosses, I counted them separately simply because even if they’re a single encounter, each one is still a dirty jerk. Since a majority of the council bosses are blood elves (in raids, at any rate), it really only pushes their numbers up, but I did note the difference between the total blood elf count and the encounter count.

      I agree that undead are pretty tricky. I think you’re right that only faction champs are forsaken, but that doesn’t mean that other undead aren’t free willed, See my response to Rohan for more on that.

      Lastly, I think Solarian is actually a void walker in disguise, so I didn’t counter her as a Blood Elf.

      It’s going to be a trickier series than I’m used to; I have to be pretty careful (which I wasn’t, as the previous commentator pointed out). I’ve got to keep on my toes, and there may even be a whole post on whether some of Arthas’s minions have free will (I’m pretty convinced they do).

      Thanks for the comment!

  4. February 29, 2012 6:37 pm

    I think it is a little unfair to lump Undead into this equation. The Forsaken are explicitly a break-away faction of the Scourge. Counting all the Scourge bosses as equivalent to the Forsaken seems disingenuous to me.

    One interesting thing that jumped out at me is the disparity between raid and 5-mans. especially for human bosses. There are a lot of human 5-man bosses, but almost no human raid bosses.

    • March 1, 2012 6:17 pm

      Well, I acknowledged that I wasn’t sure it was fair, and I’m still not sure. I would consider any scourge that have free will, though, to be undead for the purposes of this count. I’m just genuinely not sure how much control Arthas has. I get the impression that a lot of the top-end raid bosses have free will, like Kel’Thuzad, Putricide, or Lana’thel, but their underlings I’m not sure about. Some of them certainly seem to have free will (like Deatwhisper, who seems to enjoy preaching, or Razuvious, who seems to like training his troops), but others seem enthralled, like Anub’arak, who claims he’ll be happy to be “through” with Arthas. I’m just not sure. Forsaken may be a faction of undead, but that doesn’t make free-willed scourge (if, in fact, there are any) a different race. Forsaken even raise non-humanoid creatures, like their abomb guards and whatever the hell Apothecary Putress was. But you’re right, I’m not sure it’s fair. The numbers, though, are the numbers, regardless of the ethics of being undead.

      Yeah, that struck me, too. There are mostly human dungeons, but no human raid bosses. Are we too weak? To normal (that may be it)?

      Thanks for the comment!

    • March 1, 2012 7:05 pm

      It might be something as simple as:

      Blizzard prefers raid bosses to be larger than normal, to make picking them out easier when 10 or 25 players are running around.
      Blizzard doesn’t like the look of enlarged human models.
      So Blizzard stays away from making human raid bosses.

    • March 1, 2012 7:35 pm

      That may very well be true. How about a great new mechanic with a boss who vanishes a lot but is a little gnome and you have to manually retarget her each time? Seems like it might be fun! (:

      That said, the Trolls are a “larger” variety, as are many of the Blood elves, so I don’t see why they couldn’t just increase the size of humans, too.

  5. March 1, 2012 3:20 pm

    Been meanin’ fer ta write a post about this fer a while, but never got around to it due to an excessive of lazy. Yer numbers is pretty much what I were expectin’ ta come out at, although the low number of humans be a surprise. So, thankee fer savin’ me the trouble.

    Personallies, I think a mix gnome/tauren raid would make a lotta sense. Both races gots fairly decentralized political control, and each race gots abilities the other lacks. So would make a lotta sense fer a splinter group from each ta join up fer ta do sumthin’ truly bizarre an’ evil. But unless it sez “Twilight’s Hammer” on the front door Blizz ain’t too happy ’bout mixin the factions, so I ain’t optimistic about this one.

    • March 1, 2012 6:51 pm

      Gllah gahr, allahhgrl ghallagl gah. Agglh ahghlagla agh grrhal, gallha gra gahhllha gallraghl ahl lagglarh. Glahg grahhglh glhhlhalha gahhr garrha, aglh glhha gharhl. Glahg grahhglh glhhlhalha gahhr garrha; aglh glhha gharhl!
      Glahg grahhglh glhhlhalha gahhr garrha, aglh glhha gharhl.

      Ghrallhahl gha gahrrlagahr agh gahlagh.

      Seriously, though (I considered not doing a real response, but I didn’t want you to feel cheated), I would love to see more cross-factional stuff. I agree that there’s just not enough racially diverse dungeons; almost each one is pretty racially defined, with very few exceptions.

      I’d love a gnome/tauren dungeon, too. I can only imagine some of the jokes. I wouldn’t WANT it to be Twilight Hammer, but if we could get Millhouse Manastorm back, it’d be worth it…

      Thanks for the comment!

    • March 2, 2012 9:41 pm

      There’s always Venture Co. as a potential “mixed faction gets along” dungeon if you don’t want to go the Twilight Hammer route.

    • March 5, 2012 5:52 pm

      That’s a really good example. I’d like to see some more factions overall, but they’re certainly a good alternative to our favorite doomsday cultists.

      Thanks for the comments!

  6. Boobah permalink
    March 7, 2012 1:04 pm

    “Yes, they [the Zul’Gurub trolls] were under bad leadership (and still are, apparently), but they chose to worship Hakkar and their totem spirits, so they really only have themselves to blame.”

    Well, that’s not quite accurate for the five priests. Yes, they worshiped the animal loa; no, they didn’t choose to follow Hakkar. Or at least not all of them did; that whole thing where the resurrected Venoxis immediately signs back up with the Gurubashi makes you wonder if he wasn’t the weak link that led the Zandalari priests to fall under Hakkar’s control.

    And as a sidenote, if you’re counting Scourge in with the Forsaken as raid bosses, ought you not also count the fel eredar along with the draenei? That gives you Kil’jaeden, Archimonde, Malchezzar, Jaraxis, and the warlock twins.

    • March 7, 2012 1:56 pm

      i really like the point you make here, as it greatly clarifies their otherwise absent role as bosses of any kind in BC. That’s an excellent point and certainly something to consider, right along whether Blood Elves and Night Elves (and the one high elf boss) should really all count under one umbrella. More on that in the conclusion.



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