- For the achievement, see . For the expansion, see World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth.
“...We've made kindling from our suffering - stirred the embers of resentment - just waiting for a single spark to set the whole world aflame. As the Alliance returns to forgotten kingdoms, the Horde seeks the might of an ancient empire. We cannot dream any longer. The time has come to call on allies willing to join the fight; to rally beneath the banners of a world at war.”
The Fourth War (also called the Battle for Azeroth and the Blood War) was a global war fought between the Alliance and Horde after the end of the third invasion of Azeroth by the Burning Legion. After the titan Sargeras wounded the world, Azeroth's very life essence started bleeding to the surface in the form of an extraordinary material known as Azerite. Both factions recognized its unique properties, but while King Anduin Wrynn of the Alliance sought it to heal and protect, Warchief Sylvanas Windrunner of the Horde saw it as a weapon and an opportunity to seize. The war was compounded by the rising tide of power from the forces of the Old Gods that eventually resulted in a massive invasion effort by N'Zoth.
The tensions between the two superpowers rose and led to the War of the Thorns, where the Horde destroyed Teldrassil, one of the Alliance's major capitals. In return, the Alliance launched the Siege of Lordaeron, resulting in the ruination of the Undercity. Both factions now seek the destruction of the other in a war spanning the entire world, and recruit new allies to bolster their depleted ranks. The culminating battle of the war was the battle at the Gates of Orgrimmar, which ended in a mak'gora between Varok Saurfang and Sylvanas Windrunner; as the former sought to prevent the severe amounts of Horde deaths that would come from a clash. While Saurfang was killed during the battle, Windrunner's outbursts against the Horde led to her abandoning the faction. Following this battle, a de-escalation was called between the Alliance and Horde; though the war has not fully ended. Several battles were still being fought after the confrontation at the gate.
While the Alliance and Horde are the main belligerents in the war, the promise of the Azerite's power has also brought numerous independent powers into the conflict. These include, but are not limited to, the Ashvane Trading Company, the Venture Company, the black dragonflight, and the Old Gods' forces.
- 1 Prelude
- 2 Beginning of the war
- 3 War Campaigns
- 4 Forces
- 5 Interviews
- 6 In the RPG
- 7 Notes and trivia
- 8 Speculation
- 9 Videos
- 10 References
When the Burning Legion at last made its return, both factions initially worked together, but Varian Wrynn and Vol'jin were killed in action during the disastrous Battle for the Broken Shore. However the Horde's losses were obstructed from the Alliance's view, so to the latter it appeared as if the former were casually abandoning them. King Genn Greymane and Lady Jaina Proudmoore, blaming the Horde for Varian's death, wished to renew hostilities with the Horde. The newly appointed Warchief, Sylvanas Windrunner, became a focus of Greymane's aggression.
Meanwhile, Windrunner sought to strengthen the Horde by scheming of ways to create new Forsaken Val'kyr, so she traveled to Stormheim where the Alliance and Horde forces engaged in battles. Eventually, Sylvanas managed to capture Eyir, but her plans ultimately failed when Genn Greymane tracked her, fought with the Banshee Queen and released Eyir by shattering the Soulcage.
In the midst of all of this, the dreadlord Detheroc impersonated Mathias Shaw and used the SI:7 to sow increasing distrust between the two factions, with the intent of causing a conflict between them. This failed, due to the work of the Uncrowned.
For the remainder of the war against the Legion, the hostilities between the Horde and Alliance ceased, and the night elves and blood elves even put their hostilities aside in order to aid the nightfallen rebellion to liberate Suramar City from Elisande and the Legion. Following the deaths of Gul'dan and Kil'jaeden, Prophet Velen called Alliance and Horde members to Azuremyst Isle in order to travel to Argus. There the Burning Legion was ultimately defeated, but as the Legion's ruler Sargeras faced imprisonment at the hands of his titan brethren, he managed to strike a final blow against Azeroth by stabbing his sword into the world.
Following the Argus Campaign, both the Alliance and Horde converged on the destroyed Silithus, spying and thwarting each other's efforts, as well as engaging in skirmishes on the newly uncovered Seething Shore where they fought to control the first Azerite nodes and ore.
Before the Storm
- Main article: Gathering
Thanks to the efforts of King Anduin Wrynn, the Forsaken of the Desolate Council met with the chosen human relatives and friends from Stormwind in the Gathering in Arathi Highlands. The meeting wasn't about bringing peace between the two factions, but it reunited long-stranded persons and brought a cease-fire for one day. As Warchief Sylvanas Windrunner and Anduin were aware that their factions are not ready for a war, they agreed to the terms of the Gathering and promised they would not harm the other faction's members. The Gathering, however, ended in disaster. Upon seeing the Forsaken trying to defect to the Alliance and being informed of Calia Menethil's presence, Sylvanas ordered her dark rangers to kill her people but spare the humans as to not start a war. Sylvanas would personally kill Calia and threaten to kill Anduin for bringing a usurper to cause sedition, as Calia was calling out for the Forsaken to defect. Anduin, however, called Sylvanas' bluff since she was not prepared to face the unrestrained ire of the Alliance, nor did she have the full support of the Horde. Acknowledging Anduin's words Sylvanas left Arathi, and Anduin would later confide his belief of Sylvanas being lost to Genn.
As the Silithus battles raged on, the Alliance and Horde opened new embassies where the leaders of their respective factions discussed how to prepare against the opposite faction. Following the Legion wars, the Alliance and Horde ranks were depleted so they needed to gain new allies. As such, Lady Liadrin and Baine Bloodhoof recruited the nightborne elves of Suramar, who already distrusted the night elves, and the Highmountain tauren tribes of Highmountain, respectively. Thanks to the efforts of Turalyon and Alleria Windrunner, the Alliance gained new allies in the Lightforged draenei of the Grand Army of the Light and the exiled Thalassian blood elves who became void elves.
As the Alliance and Horde entered the new conflict, Kul Tirans learned about it, and Lord Admiral Katherine Proudmoore remained persistent that they will stay neutral and won't rejoin the Alliance. Jaina Proudmoore, impersonating an old woman and hearing the dialogue, resolved to convince them otherwise.
Beginning of the war
Burning of Teldrassil
- Main article: War of the Thorns
“She had sent a message. This was not a war that would end in a stalemate. Not now. The Alliance and the Horde would both understand that the only choices were victory or death. Lok-tar ogar. Darnassus would not be the last city to burn. The loss of life on both sides would tower over this atrocity. And it would all rest on his shoulders. Every moment would be a nightmare.”
- — Varok Saurfang reflecting on the impending Fourth War at the Burning of Teldrassil
Following the war with the Burning Legion, the Alliance and Horde's navies were diminished. With both factions debilitated in their ability to reinforce Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms, the Horde came up with a plan to secure Kalimdor and elicit a political crisis in the Alliance that would lead to its downfall. After luring a majority of the night elven forces to Silithus through misinformation, the Horde would seek to hold Darnassus hostage and use the political crisis to sow division in the Alliance. Furthermore, Warchief Sylvanas Windrunner wanted to kill Malfurion Stormrage in order to kill the kaldorei's spirit and end them as a nation. The invasion of the night elven lands was successful, but High Overlord Saurfang had allowed Malfurion Stormrage to escape alive. News of Malfurion's survival upset Sylvanas and she felt Darnassus' conquering would not be enough of a fatal wound for the Alliance. Thus, Sylvanas had Teldrassil burned down in order to inflict a painful wound on the Alliance that could give the Horde a chance at victory.
Battle for Lordaeron
- Main article: Battle for Lordaeron
The genocide at Teldrassil had rallied the Alliance to seek retribution. The Alliance amassed their armies to take back the Ruins of Lordaeron and bring Sylvanas Windrunner to justice. The Horde had managed to evacuate their citizens but division began to erupt between High Overlord Saurfang and Sylvanas over the Banshee Queen's use of unscrupulous tactics. Despite the Horde's use of Azerite weapons, the Forsaken Blight, and necromancy; the Alliance managed to breach the city and rout the Horde army. The Alliance leadership pursued Sylvanas to the imperial chamber where they demanded her surrender. Sylvanas however, had rigged all of Lordaeron Keep to be blighted and had lured the Alliance leadership into a collapsing imperial chamber as a trap. Although both the Alliance and Horde leadership managed to escape the blast, the Ruins of Lordaeron and the Undercity became saturated with Blight.
Great Sea, Zandalar and Kul Tiras theaters
The Alliance had managed to capture high-value targets of the Zandalar Empire, Princess Talanji, heir to Zandalar and Prophet Zul of the Zanchuli Council, who were imprisoned in Stormwind's Stockades. The Horde had learned of the fact and sent a small group of operatives to rescue the prisoners in hopes of establishing diplomatic relations with the increasingly isolated troll nation, which had a powerful navy at its disposal - an invaluable asset for the Horde's dominance over the seas.
In response to these developments, the Alliance focused on re-establishing friendly relations with another great naval power, the islander human kingdom of Kul Tiras, which was still resentful over Jaina Proudmoore's inaction during the Tirassian Invasion of Durotar which led to Grand Admiral Daelin Proudmoore's death that promptly pushed the Proudmoore Admiralty to withdraw from the bloc.
Meanwhile, Eitrigg traveled to the alternate Draenor to recruit the Mag'har orc clans that the Horde saved from Garrosh Hellscream's meddling and the Burning Legion's corruption. After Eitrigg and the Horde Speaker helped the Mag'har escape from the Lightbound, the Mag'har decides to make Azeroth their new home. Their leader, Overlord Geya'rah, speaks with Warchief Sylvanas and pledges the Mag'har's loyalty to the Horde.
Battle of Dazar'alor
- Main article: Battle of Dazar'alor (battle)
With the bulk of Rastakhan's forces lured into Nazmir, the Alliance stormed Dazar'alor and slew King Rastakhan. The Alliance wished to sever the Zandalari trolls' ties to the Horde and deal a severe blow to the Horde.
During the course of the war, Bolvar Fordragon commanded the Four Horsemen to acquire fallen champions of both the Horde and Alliance, with Nazgrim personally acquiring bodies from the Battle of Dazar'alor and other Horde lands.
- Main article: Island Expeditions
The Alliance and Horde race to secure the resources and Azerite proliferating in unmapped isles in order to fund their faction's war efforts.
Eastern Kingdoms theater
After the Undercity and Lordaeron Keep were blighted by Sylvanas Windrunner, although some of its forces returned to Stormwind, the Alliance apparently managed to maintain its occupation over most of the immediate surrounding regions in Lordaeron, with most of its army stationed at Brill by Gelbin Mekkatorque at the end of the battle.
Although the Ruins of Lordaeron were abandoned by both factions, and most of the Forsaken population seeming to have fled the Tirisfal Glades, re-settling in Orgrimmar or neighboring lands, conflict over the rest of Lordaeron erupted, with the Alliance waging an active military campaign against the remaining Forsaken settlements scattered throughout the region, their struggle spreading to the nearby regions Silverpine Forest, the Hillsbrad Foothills, and the Arathi Highlands, where most of the Fourth War was focused upon.
Silverpine Forest, south of Tirisfal Glades, became a major battleground, with Alliance and Horde actively contesting each other's territories throughout the conflict. Deathstalker Hayward and the Forsaken managed to temporarily conquer Fenris Keep, but they were expelled by the Bloodfang Pack, who under Ivar Bloodfang apparently reclaimed Fenris Isle once again, after which Horde forces created a distraction along the Misty Shore to distract them long enough for Horde refugees to escape Tirisfal towards Forsaken-controlled lands in Silverpine across the water. The Horde sent High Executor Hadrec from the Sepulcher in an attempt to break the Alliance's occupation over Tirisfal Glades, and the Alliance retaliated, sending High Priestess MacDonnell, formerly located in their Western Plaguelands base, to lead forces against the Sepulcher in turn. Captain Tobias Zaren, assisted by the 7th Legion, surrounded Shadowfang Keep, now captured by the Forsaken, trying to assassinate Chief Plaguebringer Harris, who had developed and begun to unleash his newest bio-weapon against Zaren's forces.
Although most of the Plaguelands seems to have remained out of the Fourth War, with the Argent Crusade remaining neutral, an army under Commander Ashlam Valorfist was sent from the region to attack Horde settlements in the Hillsbrad Foothills, only to be counter-attacked from the shadows by dark rangers, including Dark Ranger Clea, who waged a guerilla war from Strahnbrad against the invaders, in an attempt to slow their progress. Raleigh the Devout was able to drive away the Forsaken from his former home and re-take the Ruins of Southshore, despite the efforts of Master Apothecary Faranell to weaponize the Blight against his forces. He then led a cadre of paladins to purify the area, but the Horde provoked the blighted creatures in an attempt to hinder their efforts. Azurelode Mine, located west of Southshore and controlled by the Horde and Captain Keyton, was attacked by Stormwind's Ilsa Corbin, who sought to secure a vital source of ore. The Gilneans also contributed to the war campaign, Darius Crowley of the Gilneas Liberation Front leading an army against the nearby Sludge Fields, apparently after Warden Stillwater tried to raise countless undead to attack Gilneas's territories. Even Dalaran Crater was not exempt from conflict, with High Sorcerer Andromath and Derek the Undying facing each other and both conducting an arcane ritual there at the convergence of its potent ley-lines.
The Horde maintained its control over Tarren Mill, from where they attempted to rebuild Durnholde Keep, but were opposed by Alliance forces laying explosives in the stronghold. The Horde also sent Usha Eyegouge to try to use the Ruins of Alterac to establish a new defensible base of operations, but were soon discovered and attacked by Grumbol Grimhammer of the Stormpike Guard, both commanders surviving their respective encounters to later travel to Mechagon. After the Forsaken tried to turn the dwarven ghosts of Dun Garok against their former comrades, Ironforge sent a battalion of troops led by paladin trainer Brandur Ironhammer to retake the fallen fortress, but Jezelle Pruitt attempted to drive them back through Thoradin's Wall. Gryphon Master Talonaxe and his Wildhammer Gryphon riders regularly patrolled Darrowmere River, preventing troop movements, and the dwarves sent combat engineers to establish dams along the river from the Plaguelands to Baradin Bay to further contain the Horde, but were opposed by the banshee Melisara of Tarren Mill.
Finally, General Hammond Clay, the High Commander of Stormwind's Defense, marched from Stromgarde with some of his troops towards Durnholde Keep, also seeking to secure Thoradin's Wall, the ancient boundary separating Hillsbrad from the Arathi Highlands to its east.
- Main article: Battle for Stromgarde
Not long after the Battle for Lordaeron, the Alliance and Horde both established major bases in the Arathi Highlands, battling each other for control over the newly rebuilt Stromgarde Keep and its surrounding regions, whose strategic location was critical for turning the tide of the Fourth War.
The Alliance sought to keep the Horde's forces at bay as they still retained a presence in the northern areas of the Eastern Kingdoms. According to Captain Roderick Brewston in Stromgarde Keep, the Alliance fighting to reclaim Arathi was largely to ensure that they are able to continue to occupy neighboring Lordaeron.
The Horde sought to secure Stromgarde would set the stage for an assault on the heart of the Eastern Kingdoms and serve as a launching point for a campaign against the worgen of the kingdom of Gilneas, and also saw the strategic location as key in the defense of the greatest remaining Horde bastion of power in the continent, the blood elven capital Silvermoon City in the far north.
The Alliance sent two former Sons of Lothar, Danath Trollbane and High Exarch Turalyon (the former believing the long-disputed territory rightfully belonged to his family), along with Muradin Bronzebeard of the Council of Three Hammers, to reinforce Stromgarde's defenses and repel the Horde invaders. The Horde in turn established Ar'gorok to Stromgarde Keep's north bordering the Hinterlands mountains, and sent three of its greatest champions, Eitrigg, Lady Liadrin and Rokhan, leading orcish, blood elven and Darkspear troll forces, with some Thunder Bluff tauren including Sunwalkers also joining in the assault.
Shortly after the Burning of Teldrassil and the initial outbreak of the Fourth War, while most of the civilian population was seemingly evacuated to Stormwind City, the remnants of the night elf military and Sentinels actively engaged with the Horde forces in Darkshore, which was apparently largely occupied by the Horde after the War of the Thorns, although parts of the territory were apparently heavily contested.
The Horde entrenched themselves in northern Darkshore under Chief Blastgineer Bombgutz, who was drilling near the Shatterspear War Camp, and although Shatterspear Vale was apparently for a while held by hippogryph riders, they were attacked by Horde forces in an attempt to secure their faction's aerial superiority over Darkshore once again. They also maintained bestiaries near the southeastern Grove of the Ancients, which were set aflame by Alliance forces. Goblin salvager efforts by Captain Goggath to use Azerite-powered shredders to dismantle the Ruins of Auberdine, were discovered by Huntress Duskrunner, and Alliance forces attempted to steal or sabotage their technology. In Lor'danel, Dentaria Silverglade oversaw the evacuation of surviving night elf civilians to Azuremyst Isle, but was targeted for assassination by Horde forces, with Blood Guard Aldo Rockrain leading a Horde army against her, which was in turn confronted by Alliance defenders.
The neighboring Ashenvale, previously overrun by the Horde in the march towards Darkshore, became swarmed in perpetual conflict. Alliance forces planted depth charges in the waters surrounding Zoram'gar Outpost, the only port near Azuremyst Isle, which the Horde intended to eventually attack from the same settlement. The night elves managed to control or retake Stardust Spire, Maestra's Post, Forest Song and Astranaar, but Horde forces launched attacks against all four targets, sending various commanders and soldiers, including Sergeant Dontrag and Captain Tarkan, to directly assail them. The Alliance counterattacked, sending Talran of the Wild against Splintertree Post; Huntress Jalin to recapture Silverwind Refuge; Moon Priestess Maestra to control the pass between Darkshore and Ashenvale; the ancient of war Big Baobob to defend the Shrine of Aessina, which the Horde tried to burn to the ground; and even had Illiyana and her sister dryads destroy goblin shredders at the Warsong Lumber Camp. Mordent Evenshade and Scout Utvoch also explored Blackfathom Deeps, where the Alliance attempted to eliminate Twilight's Hammer members harvesting Azerite resources.
Both the Northern Barrens and the Southern Barrens were a theater of conflict, with the Alliance clashing with the tauren in an attempt to capture the Crossroads, which would disrupt Horde troop movements throughout the entire continent, and besieging the . The Alliance further re-established Fort Triumph, and attacked Desolation Hold, aided by supplies from Bael Modan, from which they intended to use as a staging point to invade Mulgore. Karga Rageroar and her clan's battleships shelled Northwatch Hold, and were retaliated against by Norbin Nimblesprocket's cannons, which provided the Alliance at least temporarily with superior firepower, and the Alliance and Horde also attacked each other's bases at Hunter's Hill and Honor's Stand, the Alliance seeking to control the passage between Stonetalon Mountains and Barrens. The Alliance even sent a void elf, Instructor Duskwalker, to Theramore in order to assess its viability as a base with its mana bomb effects yet lingering, and the Horde did likewise with Zaedana.
Durotar itself became a major center of turmoil, with the Alliance setting fire to Razor Hill's storehouses, destroying supplies sent between Orgrimmar and the Echo Isles. Alliance agents also infiltrated the Isles themselves, setting fire to the Darkspear trolls' ships, and Dockmaster Lewis openly led ships to attack them, attempting to cripple the place where much of the Horde's naval power was based. The Horde's efforts were bolstered by the vital stream of supplies from Ratchet's Steamwheedle Cartel, their secret arrangement apparently discovered by Corporal Teegan, despite the efforts of Gazrog. Elsewhere in the region, Keep Watcher Kerry attempted to rebuild Tiragarde Keep, scavenging its materials, but was opposed by Tarshaw Jaggedscar. Led by Shandris Feathermoon herself, the vengeful night elves recalled their remaining forces from Kalimdor's outposts and prepared for an attack against Orgrimmar, where the Horde attempted to build doomsday weapons out of Azerite.
Northern Kalimdor theater
- Main article: Battle for Darkshore
Despite the previous skirmishes since the War of the Thorns, most of Darkshore apparently eventually fell to the Horde once again, with the night elves being greatly outnumbered by their enemies in Kalimdor, and the Forsaken and goblins moved into the area, destroying Lor'danel, establishing new settlements such as The Dredge, and blighting much of the captured land. Although Anduin Wrynn was not able to directly provide reinforcements, Genn Greymane of Gilneas sent his kingdom's forces to assist their kaldorei allies, and Tyrande Whisperwind invoked Elune's power via the forbidden Night Warrior ritual to help balance the odds in her people's favor. The Alliance launched a massive counter-attack, led by Maiev Shadowsong, in an attempt to regain control over the region for the night elves, eventually establishing Bashal'Aran as their new base of operations and ultimately winning the Warfront.
- Main article: Faction Assaults
Rise of Azshara
- See also: Nazjatar Campaign
Under Sylvanas' orders, Nathanos Blightcaller used the black blade to guide the Horde fleet and the pursuing Alliance fleet towards Nazjatar where both fleets would be attacked by the naga under Queen Azshara's command after the seas were opened. Led by Jaina Proudmoore and Genn Greymane, the Alliance allied themselves with the Waveblade Ankoan, while the Horde rallied under Lor'themar Theron and First Arcanist Thalyssra and found themselves allying with the Unshackled. Nathanos had, however, departed from the rest of the Horde forces in order to carry out a secret mission.
In time, Lor'themar was informed by Spiritwalker Ussoh that the tauren had received a vision in which Sylvanas ordered Baine's death, causing Lor'themar to declare that they must prevent the vision from coming to pass. Believing that Baine's execution would drive a blade into the very heart of the Horde, he ordered champions to Thrall and Varok Saurfang within the Cleft of Shadow in order to save Baine. While some champions headed directly to meet with their allies, Sylvanas' loyalists were able to secretly rendezvous with Nathanos and inform him of Lor'hemar's actions. In turn, Nathanos ordered them to play along and join the rescue mission. Unbeknownst to the Horde, Alliance spies had also discovered Sylvanas' intentions, and Jaina, recognizing that she owed Baine for returning Derek Proudmoore to her, agreed to Anduin's request to rescue Baine. Thus, she, along with Mathias Shaw and their champions headed off to Orgrimmar.
While venturing through the Underhold, the Horde and Alliance rescue teams discovered one another, and after a brief moment, agreed to work together to save Baine. When things started getting heated between Saurfang and Shaw, Jaina and Thrall were quick to get them focused on the task at hand. Upon nearly reaching Baine, the group was attacked by Rowa Bloodstrike, who expressed disappointment but not surprise by Saurfang's and Thrall's decision to rescue Baine. Unwilling to stand down, the group was forced to kill Rowa and moved forward to Baine, who was surprised by their presence. While Shaw moved to release Baine from his chains, Saurfang remarked that it felt too easy and the group was then attacked by Magister Hathorel, who sought to kill them and Jaina in particular for vengeance for the purge of Dalaran. Ultimately, the group was successful in liberating Baine from his chains, and Jaina teleported the group safely out of Orgrimmar. After ensuring her allies were safe Jaina departed to inform Anduin of the mission's success, with Varok telling her that Anduin didn't stand alone.
As a result of this unexpected alliance, the Horde and Alliance forces were directed to focus their attention on Queen Azshara over one another, with Jaina believing that it would buy time for Saurfang's rebellion to take root. In time, the combined Horde and Alliance forces invaded the Eternal Palace, where they ventured deep into the Last Prison, where the queen prepared a ritual to free her benefactor N'Zoth. As Thalyssra, Shandris Feathermoon, and heroes of Azeroth made their descent into the prison, Azshara taunted them with news of Lor'themar and Jaina's fall, but her words proved false: Lor'themar and Jaina, along with Thalyssra, Shandris, and the heroes, fought together to defeat Azshara. After the battle, Lor'themar and Jaina approached the fallen queen with weapons drawn, but the chains binding N'Zoth shattered and the Old God subsequently rescued Azshara. Though triumphant over Azshara, Lor'themar considered it a hollow victory as not only did Azshara survive, but N'Zoth was freed. He also agreed with Jaina's assessment that the Fourth War has kept them distracted and that divided they had no hope against N'Zoth. Thus Lor'themar vowed to tell his people of what transpired in Nazjatar, of how Azshara fell because the Horde and Alliance stood together, and of the rising threat of N'Zoth. Then he vowed to take his place besides Saurfang and Thrall.
“Right now, there are only two forces in this world which matter ― one bent on harming our world ― and one that will protect her.”
Following the events within the Eternal Palace, the Horde split between Varok Saurfang's revolutionaries and the loyalists of Sylvanas Windrunner. Most of the Horde leadership sided with Saurfang, with Overlord Geya'rah and Trade Prince Jastor Gallywix being the only two leaders to side with Sylvanas.
Convening at a dilapidated scout tower, the revolutionaries officially allied with the Alliance against Sylvanas with "For Azeroth" as their rallying cry. Thus to protect Azeroth and depose Sylvanas, the Horde revolutionaries and Alliance planned to strike at Orgrimmar and to that end set up camp in Razor Hill. In response to Sylvanas's forces collapsing part of the canyon between Razor Hill and Orgrimmar, Saurfang turned to Gazlowe and Tinkmaster Overspark to breach the canyon. With his forces established within the Dranosh'ar Blockade, Saurfang turned to dealing with Sylvanas's spies and protecting their siege weapons. Meanwhile Sylvanas and Nathanos had secured Orgrimmar from internal dissident by arresting Eitrigg and burning the propaganda that dissidents within the city had been spreading.
Knowing that Orgrimmar's greatest weakness was its multiple entrances Saurfang's strategy relied on attacking all three entrances at once. To that end, he directed Genn Greymane's forces to attack Orgrimmar from the Northern Barrens, Lor'themar Theron and Shandris Feathermoon to lead their forces to attack the city from Azshara, and he, Thrall, and Anduin would lead their forces to attack Orgrimmar from Durotar. He further ordered Mayla Highmountain to lead her people to protect Thunder Bluff in case Sylvanas launched a counterattack.
However, before the battle could commence, Saurfang, recognizing Sylvanas' loyalists unwilling to spill more Horde blood, challenged Sylvanas to Mak'gora, to which she accepted. During the duel, Saurfang managed to rouse Sylvanas' angry, causing her to let an outburst that showed she had no true loyalty to the Horde. Abandoning the faction, the Horde unified once more and Saurfang was celebrated with a hero's funeral In the months that followed, both the Alliance and Horde were contacted by Wrathion, aiding him, Magni Bronzebeard, MOTHER, and the champions of Azeroth with defeating N'Zoth and ending the threat of the Old God once and for all.
- — Tyrande Whisperwind expressing contempt at the armistice of the Fourth War
In the aftermath, the Horde entered into an armistice with the Alliance. The Alliance abandoned any holdfasts they had established on Zandalar as a show of good faith. Both groups committed, independently, to the idea of hunting down Sylvanas Windrunner for her crimes. Turalyon was appointed as Lord Commander of the Alliance and was tasked alongside Alleria Windrunner with hunting down Sylvanas.
The armistice was not met with complete faith. On the Alliance, Tyrande Whisperwind refused to sign this pact and distanced herself from the rest of the Alliance leadership, moving to Nordrassil with the other night elves. Genn Greymane also questioned its effectiveness, seeing it as a waste of time that would not stop the Horde from eventually attacking them once again. However, most of the other Alliance leaders, including Jaina Proudmoore, appeared to, at least for the moment, support the armistice, if but only because their own lands and resources were largely depleted. The Horde, with Sylvanas Windrunner gone, refused to name a new warchief. Instead, the Horde Council was formed. With an armistice signed between Anduin Wrynn and the Horde Council, the two factions began to move away from conflict with one another. The council seemed eager to have the war at an end, and numerous new leaders were chosen. With Saurfang dead, Thrall returned to the Horde leadership as the new chieftain of the orcs. Rokhan was chosen to at last take the place of Vol'jin, who had perished against the Burning Legion, as the new Darkspear chieftain. Gazlowe became the new Trade Prince of the Bilgewater Cartel, after Jastor Gallywix deserted the Horde in the wake of Sylvanas' abandonment. Lilian Voss was chosen as the new representative and interim leader of the Forsaken, though she voiced her desire for her people to find a different leader in time.
Hostility continued to exist between the Horde and Alliance in spite of the armistice. Calia Menethil, who aligned herself with the Forsaken after the main conflict had ended, and Lilian Voss were forced to take a longer path from Lordaeron to Orgrimmar; noting that, while there was an armistice, the Alliance naval forces that patrolled the areas would not be friendly to them. Thrall, Calia and Baine Bloodhoof were able to meet with Malfurion Stormrage, Shandris Feathermoon, Maiev Shadowsong, and Tyrande Whisperwind at Mount Hyjal; though the meeting was noted as tense. Yukha, an Earthen Ring shaman who helped organize the meeting, feared that the meeting would erupt into violence, and stated that it was "a mistake" to bring the Horde leaders to Hyjal. Elements of the Alliance also believed that the Horde could be providing Sylvanas refuge in secret, with Tyrande warning Thrall to never seek to speak to her again unless he brought the head of Sylvanas Windrunner.
Horde refugees in the Arathi Highlands were detained by Alliance forces, in particular for information regarding a Sylvanas loyalist. The orc child, Zun, panicked and attacked Turalyon; though he was spared after being quickly disarmed. The Alliance forces interrogated and tortured Zun's mother, Gowzis, using the Void for information on the loyalist dark ranger, Visrynn. The apothecary Cotley was taken prisoner for his information and taken to the Stormwind Stockades, under the premise he would be released after he gave all the information he knew. Mathias Shaw was imprisoned by the Zandalari Empire for trespassing on their territory. This act nearly caused a breach of the ceasefire under Turalyon's orders, though this was prevented by the intervention of Jaina Proudmoore. It was noted by Ji Firepaw that he would not be executed without a trial from the Horde Council, though this sentiment did not please Anduin Wrynn, who wished his spymaster released; a sentiment Thrall promised he would see rectified.
When Sylvanas destroyed the Helm of Domination and the leadership of the Alliance and Horde met at the top of Icecrown Citadel, the two groups nearly came to blows until Bolvar Fordragon interceded. The Alliance and Horde leaders also struggled with the subsequent loss of several of their leaders, such as Anduin, Jaina, Thrall, and Baine Bloodhoof.
After they won the Battle for Darkshore, some of the Darnassian night elves, including Tyrande, Malfurion, Maiev, and Shandris left Stormwind and the recently reclaimed Darkshore, and moved back to their old home Nordrassil, where they apparently maintained a tenuous connection with tauren members of the Circle remaining there such as Tiala Whitemane. However, temporary safe passage for the Horde Council members, including Thrall, required direct negotiation between the Cenarion Circle druids which guarded the World Tree and the Earthen Ring shaman Yukha, who mentioned to Thrall it was best that he meet the night elves alone (with some of the Horde Council members convinced that he would be ambushed at Nordrassil), and that his going to Mount Hyjal without Yukha's escort would mean his "downfall".
Some parts of Tirisfal Glades appeared to be inhabitable and unoccupied following the armistice, such as Calston Estate, but most of the Forsaken, especially civilians, appear to have long since moved to Orgrimmar and Kalimdor - although Lilian mentions possibly reclaiming the Ruins of Lordaeron to restore the Undercity, as her people prefer darker and damper environments to that of Durotar. Lordaeron Keep is also mentioned as still heavily blighted, although it seems that the effects are very slowly receding. Scarlet Crusade propaganda pamphlets distributed throughout Lordaeron's living population and were found near the estate, accusing Anduin of being Sylvanas's secret lover and a traitor to their people, the two rulers having allegedly conspired at the Gathering of the Arathi Highlands to kill Calia, in order for Anduin to marry her and make secure his claim towards Lordaeron, as well as garner sympathy for the Forsaken. They further declared that the Menethil dynasty would live on, claiming to have Calia's surviving son as a living heir to the kingdom, and vowed to one day put an end to Anduin's "puppet reign".
With the exception of the Order of the Silver Hand, whose ranks the Horde paladins apparently formally left after the conflict, the Class Orders have remained largely neutral, with their banners featured prominently in both Stormwind's Training Hall and Orgrimmar's Barracks; the Valarjar, the only Class Order without a significant membership of Azeroth's races, is the only one entirely absent from both cities. The Silver Hand retained a presence in the Sanctum of Light in the Eastern Plaguelands, where the Sanctum was cleared for the storage of important paladin artifacts. Silvermoon and Quel'Thalas appeared to have been mostly left intact by the Fourth War as well, but some artifacts have been moved to Magister's Terrace for safekeeping.
After the Battle of Lordaeron, which destroyed Brill and drove the Forsaken from their stronghold in the Undercity, the Alliance engaged in a massive military campaign against the remaining Forsaken settlements in the Eastern Kingdoms throughout the Fourth War. In the end, Fenris Isle and Shadowfang Keep (whose artifacts are taken to Fenris Keep to be guarded closely) were reclaimed in Silverpine Forest by the Bloodfang Pack, and Southshore was reclaimed in Hillsbrad Foothills, presumably strengthening the worgen's presence considerably, but the status of the Gilnean peninsula remains unclear. Baradin's Wardens maintained a tenuous hold on Tol Barad, the island west of Gilneas, although have not been able to take back the prison. Danath Trollbane, the leader of his newly restored kingdom, apparently rules most of the Arathi Highlands from Stromgarde Keep after the Alliance victory in the Battle for Stromgarde, although most of the soldiers who fought in the battle have returned home, and there was still a limited Horde presence in some parts of the region, such as a group of Horde refugees north of Thandol Span.
Regardless of territorial changes, the Alliance and the Horde appear to have been significantly weakened at the war's end. Anduin was forced to conscript farmers after all his formal soldiers were deployed at Stromgarde and other places mid-way through the Fourth War. With Tyrande and Malfurion distancing themselves from his leadership, the night elf population mostly extinct, and much of the Kul Tiran fleet destroyed by Queen Azshara, Anduin further mentioned that he could muster enough soldiers for only one final assault against Orgrimmar, stating that if their assault failed, they were essentially "finished", and even assisted by Saurfang's revolution, seemed uncertain whether they could definitively prevail. Turalyon later mentioned that the Fourth War took a terrible toll upon the Alliance, but vows to restore their defenses, noting that reclaiming Stromgarde was a first step, and perhaps there were other lands of the old Alliance (presumably referring to Gilneas or other territories in his homeland Lordaeron) which could likewise be reclaimed.
In Suramar City, Lor'themar reminded Thalyssra that the Horde's armies were depleted, their treasuries emptied, their resources stretched thin, and implied that any blow to them in their current state would be disastrous, and this was apparently the reason why Baine Bloodhoof was initially very reluctant to accept Kiro and his vulpera into the Horde's ranks even after the armistice. Peons at Crushblow were disillusioned by their treatment as laborers and briefly deserted their base, the naga launched an assault against southern Zuldazar, and Vintner Iltheux struggled with managing arcwine production for the Horde, but with Kiro's help, all these problems were eventually resolved.
However, even after the Alliance settlements in the island were removed as a result of the armistice, the Horde was still apparently only able to spare a very limited number of soldiers to directly assist Zandalar when Queen Talanji was threatened by the Banshee loyalists, with Thrall, Baine, and Thalyssra only able to muster a small host no greater than Talanji herself could gather. Thrall told her that bringing more soldiers would have left Orgrimmar undefended, and Lor'themar previously mentioned that Zuldazar was strategically vital as a resupply point for their remaining ships. Nevertheless, with their assistance, Talanji was able to eventually secure Zandalar, formally taking her place on the Horde Council and eliminating most of Sylvanas's forces from her lands.
According to a 2018 interview with Steve Danuser, the entire expansion and the Fourth War was originally meant to be based and built around the Alliance and Horde's deepest sense of core identity, exploring the positive and negative aspects thereof, and what that really meant to them as a whole as they both struggled to properly examine and re-define themselves:
"There has always been some question as to what the Horde stood for. And that has changed and evolved over time. Is it this disparate collection of outcasts that nobody will align themselves with? And that’s why they’re together, out of necessity? Or is it this group that’s driven by honor and courage? Players have been able to identify and pull out parts of the storyline that they favor and maybe turn a blind eye to some of the other things, but all of those things have been part of the Horde’s history.
"While we’ve had conflicts like the Siege of Orgrimmar, none of those really resolved what the Horde is. Battle for Azeroth is absolutely an opportunity to look at both sides [honorable and evil] that have made up the Horde storylines throughout the years and pull them together. And maybe give a chance for the Horde to look inward and maybe become something new, something stronger than it ever was before. We look at this as an opportunity, and the thing is, to get there, we have to look at those scars that have come along the way. That’s the only way we can grow and move beyond, is taking an honest look at the things you’ve done, and nobody is exemplifying that path to the Horde more than what Sylvanas and Saurfang and those other heroes are doing. They are embodying the other aspects of what the Horde was. So to get to the future of the Horde, we have to face the Horde’s past, and face it in a very real and tangible way."
"The Alliance has its share of disparity within it as well, and different facets that have bubbled up over the years. The Alliance is going to have to realign itself. Especially the Night Elves who lose their home. How are they going to react to this? There’s going to be a real self-examination of what the Alliance is about, and how they want to behave. Do they want to get revenge on the Horde, or do they want to build a better world? That’s a question they need to answer."
In a January 2019 interview around the time of the Battle for Darkshore, Danuser noted that he and the other writers wanted to tell a very strong Alliance and Horde story, with the Horde stopping world-ending threats such as G'huun in Uldir, but becoming increasingly divided internally, while the Alliance weren't really at each other's throats the same way: "The Alliance is like a family. Brothers and sisters can disagree, and things can get heated, but there’s still a deep and abiding love and trust there."
In the RPG
Brann Bronzebeard concluded that with the events of the invasion of Durotar, Sylvanas Windrunner and her Forsaken allying with the Horde, the Horde's alliance with the Revantusk tribe in the Hinterlands, and with the recent turmoils between the Alliance and Horde, it seemed that the Fourth War may have been on the horizon. This makes the first mention of the term Fourth War, albeit now non-canon, in the Warcraft universe. Years later, the first canon mention of the (hypothetical) Fourth War was with in Legion.
Notes and trivia
- New recruits of the Alliance commonly issued Tidesages' Warscrolls, Dwarven War Horns, Banded Gilnean Cloaks, and Hymnals of the 7th Legion, while new recruits of the Horde were commonly issued Loa-Touched Warscrolls, Orcish War Horns, Stone Guard's Bladed Cloaks, and Tomes of Thalassian Hymns.
- The forces of Azeroth started preparing for a hypothetical Fourth War even before the Argus Campaign started.
- The name "Blood War" is likely in reference to the conflict's focus on Azerite, the blood of Azeroth herself.
- This name for the conflict was originally only used in an exhibition at the Blizzard Museum in Blizzard's headquarters, photos of which were shared online in late 2018. The term "Fourth War" was established with the release of patch 8.2.5 and the finale of the War Campaign in September 2019, and is the only name for the conflict that's used in-game. "Blood War" appears again in Shadows Rising, which was largely written before the release of 8.2.5.
- During the Battle for Azeroth beta, said that Stonetalon was a battlefield between the Horde and the Alliance, as was a Silvermoon warfront, something not seen in the game.
- Fans have been calling segments of the Alliance-Horde war the "Fourth War" for years, with sources varying on whether or not each segment was the start of a full war. Usually, each escalation retconned the previous segment as still part of a tenuous peace.
- The above is not solely the domain of fans. The events of Mists of Pandaria were thematically the "Fourth War" but never called that in the game.
- Fans speculated that Blizzard was keeping the "Fourth War" name for a hypothetical Warcraft IV. This is the first numbered war that does not match the numbering of a respective real-time strategy game.
- Pandaren and allied races death knights have the talent instead of for the older races.
- Many of the formerly neutral characters and factions from the previous expansion apparently either fractured or openly chose sides in the Fourth War. Other factions did not openly join either side but provided direct assistance on several occasions to either the Alliance or the Horde.
- For example, the Order of the Silver Hand fights for the Alliance in the Battle for Stromgarde under their founder member Turalyon against Lady Liadrin, her Blood Knights and the tauren Sunwalkers, and the Silver Hand banner remains in Stormwind's paladin training area even after the war's end.
- Turalyon and Alleria Windrunner themselves both aligned themselves once more with the Alliance, with Turalyon pledging the Vindicaar and the Army of the Light to its cause, and Alleria bringing in some of her exiled Void-infused kin to further bolster their faction's forces, while Thalyssra and Mayla Highmountain did likewise with the nightborne and the Highmountain tauren in regards to the Horde.
- The formerly unaligned mechagnomes under Prince Erazmin later pledged their people to the Alliance as well, accepting Gelbin Mekkatorque as the leader of all the gnomes, and the Zandalari trolls, for most of their history an independent faction, eventually joined the Horde as equal allies.
- Some members of the Knights of the Ebon Blade and individual death knights formally rejoined the faction war. Notably, Danir Emberlight, while acknowledging the Deathlord, nevertheless attacked them after they refused to allow him to raise Vadekius. Lady Tamakeen, Galdon the Glacial, Renten Plaguebringer and Caladon Leechblade all fought for the Alliance, while General Blackstone, Kaln Vilehoof, Duchess Fallensong the Frigid and Deathguard Captain Vandel all assisted the Horde.
- The surviving wardens under Maiev Shadowsong rejoined their kaldorei kin to take back Darkshore, only to have some of their members slain and raised by the Horde; formerly neutral Cenarion Circle druids such as Thisalee Crow also joined the warfront. Several Nar'thalas Magi from the Court of Farondis, affiliated in-game with Darnassus, also appear in Stormwind's portal room opening a portal to Azsuna. The Highborne Kaldorei Empire banners, previously found only at the Crumbled Palace in Azsuna and other parts of the Broken Isles, were used once again by the night elves at Bashal'Aran, Warsong Gulch and the Caverns of Time.
- Even some of the Illidari demon hunters formally joined the faction conflict, with Nylaria the Haunted and Raize Shadespear fighting for the Alliance, and Celaryn the Frenzied and Sylareon Silverblade aiding the Horde, their forces clashing in Arathi Basin.
- The Shado-Pan cooperated with Alliance adventurers in Zuldazar, with Halford Wyrmbane describing Chao, Feng and Pao-me as their "Shado-Pan allies" who have infiltrated the mogu at Warport Rastari, and further stating that their intelligence would prove "invaluable" to the Alliance's efforts against the Horde. Mistweaver Nian, a formerly neutral pandaren and healer who tended to wounded Kul Tiran civilians, was slain by the Horde at Tiragarde Sound. Zallestrasza was assisted by the Thornspeakers and an Alliance adventurer against Danir Emberlight at Vadekius's Rest at Drustvar.
- Valeera Sanguinar apparently continued to serve as Anduin's spy and Baine's messenger, retaining a working relationship with fellow Uncrowned associate Mathias Shaw, and delivering tidings of the armistice to both factions.
- Lilian Voss and Garona Halforcen were seemingly conscripted by the Horde to fight against the Alliance, Rexxar apparently left the Unseen Path to fight for the Horde against the Proudmoores once again, and both Gazlowe of Ratchet and Thrall himself apparently abandoned their nominal neutrality to participate in the war's end as well as the Horde Council. The Steamwheedle Cartel itself actively assisted the Horde's war efforts with "a vital stream of supplies", despite refraining from openly declaring an allegiance to the Horde. Both Calia Menethil and Derek Proudmoore, despite their associations with the old Alliance and briefly settling in Kul Tiras, apparently joined the Horde as well at the conflict's end. Nomi was also found in Suramar City, apparently one of the assistants sent by Baine Bloodhoof to aid in their arcwine production.
- The bronze dragonflight, or at least Anachronos, openly assisted the Horde adventurers sent by Oculeth into reaching alternate Draenor when they sought to recruit the Mag'har orcs. Ebyssian, one of the last two members of the black dragonflight on Azeroth other than Wrathion, becomes associated with the Horde as a result of his affiliation with the Highmountain tauren.
- The San'layn, including Blood Prince Dreven, were briefly recruited as allies by Sylvanas Windrunner, despite some apprehension from other Horde members, during the War Campaign, but Dreven was eventually slain by Shandris Feathermoon.
- One notable exception is the Kirin Tor, which apparently remained largely neutral. Other than apparently helping to refurnish and update the Wizard's Sanctum, Dalaran did not seem to provide significant assistance to either side (although Anduin briefly attempted to reach them and Alonsus Faol of the Netherlight Temple during the War of the Thorns) and its leader Khadgar apparently remained in Karazhan throughout the course of the Fourth War, and even after its conclusion.
- The only exception is the Quartermaster Crafticus Mindbender, who was aboard the Alliance fleet who chased the remains of the Horde fleet sailing from Zandalar into the Great Sea, replacing his Kirin Tor tabard with that of the Alliance during the Nazjatar Campaign. He managed to survive Queen Azshara's trap and joined the survivors in Mezzamere, regretting having left Dalaran.
When the armistice was signed, the Alliance ceded control of their holds on Zandalar. Based on this, it is possible that the Horde did the same thing on Kul Tiras. However, the current status of other lands such as Ashenvale and Lordaeron, contested between the two factions during the conflict, remains unclear.
- World of Warcraft Battle for Azeroth All Cinematics in Chronological Order (Up to 8.2.5)
- Rise of Azshara Cinematic (Alliance)
- Azshara's Eternal Palace - Raid Finale Cinematic (Spoilers)
- Cinematic: "Safe Haven"
- Crossroads - Cinematic (Spoiler)
- The Negotiation - Cinematic (Spoiler)
- Cinematic: "Reckoning" (Spoiler)
- Battle Azeroth: Varok Saurfang's Mak'gora
- ^ a b c Turalyon#Stormwind Keep
- ^ a b
- ^ BlizzCon 2019: Q&A panel
- ^ a b c d e Shadows Rising
- ^ World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth Features Overview
- ^ World of Warcraft on Twitter
- ^ Battle for Azeroth™: One Launch to Rule Them All
- ^ a b File:Blizzard Museum - The Blood War.jpg
- ^ a b Shadows Rising, pg. 132
- ^ BlizzConline 2021 - World of Warcraft: The Evolution of Thrall
- ^ Before the Storm
- ^ Jaina: Reunion
- ^ We Ride Forth
- ^ Battle for Azeroth Warfronts - Faction Transmog Rewards, Stromgarde, Gameplay
- ^ of Azshara Now Live – Cinematic (Alliance)
- ^ The Negotiation – Cinematic (Spoiler)
- ^ Reckoning
- ^ Shadows Rising, pg. 161
- ^ Shadows Rising, pg. 80, ebook
- ^ Shadows Rising, chapter 1
- ^ Shadows Rising, chapter 14
- ^ A Chilling Summons
- ^ a b World of Warcraft: Exploring Azeroth: The Eastern Kingdoms
- ^ Lost Honor
- ^ A Moment in Verse
- ^ Battle for Azeroth is all about the Horde’s identity crisis
- ^ In Battle for Azeroth, the Alliance are set to take the stage
- ^ Horde Player's Guide, pg. 176
- ^ Elegy pgs. 36-37 - "I’ll send a unit of Stormwind guards to assist with the evacuations in Howling Oak and wherever else in Darnassus they can. Archmage Malin, get a message to Dalaran. Tell them the situation and ask if they would be willing to join us here in Stormwind—to get more refugees through portals....Velen will have whatever he needs and whatever public space we can find to house the refugees. I’ll send someone to the Netherlight Temple and ask the Conclave priests to aid us. I’m certain Archbishop Faol will be glad to help."
- ^ Crafticus Mindbender#Quotes
- ^ Shadows Rising, chapter 17