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Genocide of the draenei
Maraad LoWar
Part of Burning Crusade
Location Draenor

Decisive orcish victory

  • Majority of the draenei race exterminated
  • Some draenei become Broken and Lost Ones
  • The orcish race becomes aligned with the Burning Legion
  • Draenor and its inhabitants begin to suffer from demonic corruption
Commanders and leaders



Old Horde

Casualties and losses


  • Very heavy

Old Horde

  • Moderate
Major Battles Battle of Telmor, Battle of Shattrath.
Previous Gorian wars
Next First War

“How easily the mind can be turned to hate from a place of fear.”

Warchief Thrall, reflecting on the orcs' actions on Draenor

The genocide of the draenei was a major conflict that occurred on the planet of Draenor between the world's draenei inhabitants and the newly-created orcish Horde.

Having been persuaded and corrupted by agents of the demonic Burning Legion, the various orc clans of the planet Draenor united to form a new force known as the Horde. Now, they were directed to utterly wipe out the planet's other most powerful race, the draenei, who had been fleeing the Legion's wrath for millennia by moving to new worlds when they had been discovered.

With relatively little effort due to the vastly larger numbers of the united clans and newly-gained powers, the Horde succeeded in pushing the draenei back from many of their major settlements and strongholds. Although confused by the orcs' sudden aggression and drive to make war on them, the draenei nonetheless did their best to preserve their civilization. Ultimately, however, they were overwhelmed and forced back to their last bastion and capital in the form of Shattrath City. Realizing that there existed no hope of overcoming their foes, the draenei leader Velen reluctantly led a group of refugees into hiding away from the battle. Utilizing their new demonic abilities, the orcs breached and sacked the city.[1]

In the period following the Horde's victory over the draenei, and believing that no more of their adversaries remained, the orcs turned their attention to a new conquest, in the form of the distant planet of Azeroth.


Pact with the Legion[]

Icon-time This section contains information that is out-of-date. Reason: The severing of the elements happened later in the storyline, as indicated by Oronok Torn-heart already being a warlock for a long time when it happened.
Gul'dan HoW

Gul'dan, Betrayer of the Orcs.

In the years following the draenei flight from their home planet of Argus to escape the wrath of their brethren who had joined the Burning Legion, the demon lord Kil'jaeden dedicated himself to hunting down these exiles, feeling betrayed at Velen's refusal to accept Sargeras' 'gift'. Having pursued Velen's draenei across many worlds, Kil'jaeden decided to employ a new strategy when his agent Talgath discovered their presence on the world of Draenor. So far, each time the archdemon had sent the Burning Legion directly after the draenei, Velen's exiles had simply left their planet aboard the Genedar. Kil'jaeden now wanted to attack them with a less obvious threat, one which would have them stand their ground instead of flee. He planned to use one of Draenor's native species—the orcs—to destroy Argus's exiles, believing that the draenei would not realize the threat until it was too late.[2]

To this end, the demon lord contacted the ambitious chieftain of the Shadowmoon clan, Ner'zhul, and through deception convinced him to rally the other orc clans. Appearing to the elder shaman first as his deceased wife Rulkan and then directly as himself, Kil'jaeden was able to convince Ner'zhul that the draenei were, in fact, plotting the wholesale destruction of the orcs and that they needed to be crushed swiftly before it was too late.[3][4] Ner'zhul was respected among the orcish clans, and through the advice of their shaman each chieftain eventually followed his orders to militarize and prepare for conflict against those they now perceived as malevolent invaders plotting to destroy them. Soon orcish raiders began killing isolated draenei hunting parties to hone their skills and equipment, with Blackhand's Blackrock clan leading the charge.[4]

Kil'jaeden's ruse initially worked - when Velen heard of the orcs' sudden aggressiveness, the prophet didn't take it as proof of demonic corruption, but as a dire misunderstanding to clear up. Thinking that things could no longer continue as they used to and that orc and draenei could no longer live in distant familiarity with one another, Velen decided to leave Karabor for a pilgrimage to Oshu'gun, inviting Ner'zhul to join him. Velen thought that there were now no other alternatives than making the orcs their allies instead of their enemies, and he wanted to show them the truth of the naaru K'ure sleeping in the orcs' revered Mountain of Spirits. Unfortunately, Ner'zhul refused the offer thought doubt started creeping up in his mind.[5] Durotan and his Frostwolf clan intercepted Velen's pilgrims instead, taking for the nascent Horde two shards of the Ata'mal crystal that they transported: the Heart of Fury and the Brilliant Star.[6]

As skirmishes continued happening, at some point the orcish shaman stopped hearing from the elemental spirits, depriving them of their spiritual powers. This left the orcs at a disadvantage against the draenei mages and paladins, and what were supposed to be certain victories for the orcs turned to humiliating defeats against smaller draenei parties. Durotan himself nearly died in such failed ambush, only spared after the draenei leader Restalaan recognized him as the young orc he had welcomed to Telmor years earlier.[7]

Ultimately, Ner'zhul discovered Kil'jaeden's deception but was unable to stop events already in motion as his apprentice Gul'dan officially took his place, the warlock having actually been working for the demon for a long time.[8] Gul'dan soon began to spread the Burning Legion's demonic influence to the other orcish clans. He promoted Blackhand as the new Warchief leader of the united Horde, and oversaw the creation of warlocks who wielded the demons' power as their own instead of relying on fickle spirits as the shaman of old did. The first orc warlocks other than Gul'dan were from the Blackrock clan,[9] but more and more shaman volunteered for warlock training to replace their lost elemental powers. Blackhand also ordered the new warlocks to artificially age every orcish child in order to bolster the ranks of the Horde with a plethora of fresh soldiers.[10]

War and corruption[]

Chronicle2 Hand of Gul'dan

Gul'dan destroys Draenor's connection to the elements and creates the Hand of Gul'dan.

The hidden city of Telmor was the first major draenei settlement to fall to the new Horde's united warriors and warlocks.[11] Gul'dan eventually convinced the other clans to consume the blood of the Pit Lord Mannoroth. Through his efforts with the Cipher of Damnation, Gul'dan severed the orcs' ties to their ancestors and the elements at what would then become known as the Hand of Gul'dan.[1]

Having overseen the creation of numerous warlocks among the orcish race as well as some ogres, Gul'dan now formed the Shadow Council, consisting exclusively of the most powerful warlocks, to direct the Horde behind the scenes and commune with their demon masters. As the orcs began to launch their first major attacks on draenei territory, the Shadow Council ensured that the Legion's corruption would be left in their wake, often seen in the form of an ominous red mist. Even those orcs who had refrained from consuming the demon blood, such as the majority of the Frostwolf clan, began showing signs of corruption, such as their skin turning from the normal brown to a bright green.

This corruption emanating from the Horde's presence also affected many of the draenei who survived the initial attacks, often causing them to become mutated Broken or insane Lost Ones. Even the very land of Draenor succumbed to the demonic taint. As more and more orcs began to wield warlock magics, the gentle fields and streams of the world began to blacken and fade. The vast prairies withered away, leaving only red barren soil. The demon energies were slowly killing the world.[12] In order to make sure there would be no coming back for the orcs, Kil'jaeden and Gul'dan had a barrier put around Oshu'gun which prevented the ancestral spirits and K'ure from making contact with the outside world.[13] Orcs were also forbidden on Blackhand's orders to ever return to the mountain, to make sure none could realize the deception.[14] To make sure the order was properly enforced, Kil'jaeden even had demons guarding Oshu'gun against would-be visitors.[15] This effectively outlawed shamanism and its practice.

Orcs slaughter Draenei - Lords of War

The orcs began the slaughter of the draenei.

Meanwhile, the draenei, unable to counter the Horde's vastly larger numbers and newly-acquired powers, were in a constant state of retreat. They were pushed farther and farther back, with major bases like Tuurem falling rapidly to the Horde's onslaught. Fully intending to drive the draenei to extinction, as ordered by their master Kil'jaeden, the orcs showed no mercy to any they encountered as they pushed deeper into their enemies' lands. Even the spiritual center of the draenei, the sacred Temple of Karabor, was lost when Gul'dan ordered it to be conquered. Karabor wasn't their capital, but the Horde wanted it destroyed in order to shatter the draenei as a people, destroy everything that meant anything to them.[14]

Gul'dan and the Shadow Council decided to ignore the Shadowmoon clan's warnings about the Dark Star, an ancient god of the Void that was actually the fallen naaru K'ara. They conducted a ritual to call on the Dark Star in their war against the draenei and channeled it at Karabor. A pillar of Void energy ripped through the heavens and slammed down on Karabor, driving many draenei defenders to madness while many others died instantly. Velen called on his powers to keep the Void at bay and rally the survivors to Karabor's harbor, but the Dark Star had forever darkened Karabor, and it became known as the Black Temple and was taken by the orcs.[16]

Eventually, one of the last bastions of resistance remaining was the draenei capital of Shattrath City.

Fall of Shattrath[]

See also: Shattrath City#Siege of Shattrath
Siege of Shattrath

Shattrath City under siege in Lords of War.

Understanding that they could not succeed in defeating the Horde, Prophet Velen was reluctantly convinced to flee the city before it fell, along with a small group of refugees, while enough forces stayed behind to give the impression that the draenei had made their last stand in the city. Despite a stalwart defense, and the best efforts of many of the draenei people's best champions such as Vindicator Maraad[17] and Nobundo, Shattrath City was breached, and the orcs flooded in. As infernals crashed into the city's structure, and the warlocks' red mist seemingly cut off the draenei paladins' and priests' connection to the Light itself, Shattrath's defenses collapsed. The majority of the capital's inhabitants were slain either during or after the battle.

During the siege of Shattrath, Porung stormed an enclave of draenei paladins who had barricaded themselves within a corner of the city. He single-handedly slaughtered the defenders, but suffered a grave injury.

Chronicle2 Siege of Shattrath

The Siege of Shattrath in Chronicle.

With Shattrath's fall, many vindicators, priests, and Rangari fled to Auchindoun in hopes of defending it from the Horde. Exarch Maladaar led the defense against the Horde's assault led by Teron'gor. As the draenei defenders gained the advantage, the Shadow Council warlocks summoned Murmur to break their offense, and the shockwave on its arrival ripped the earth asunder. Many draenei were killed, and Auchindoun was blasted apart. Waves of destructive energy rolled out and leveled the surrounding forest.[18] Maladaar and a handful of his draenei used their magics to shield themselves from the blast. But though they survived, they no longer had the numbers to resist the Shadow Council. Teron'gor and his warlocks overwhelmed the draenei and bound them in chains, and contained Murmur deep within Auchindoun as well.[19]

Kil'jaeden, upon hearing of the city's fall and the apparent extinction of the draenei, was exultant at finally having gained vengeance on those he considered to have betrayed him. Unbeknownst to Kil'jaeden or the Horde, however, Velen and his group of survivors had escaped the slaughter. The draenei leader led what was left of his people into hiding in the region of Zangarmarsh, leaving the orcs to believe they had been wiped out. Though they had suffered irreparable damage in the conflict, the draenei survivors retained their faith in the Light and maintained hope for the future of their race.[1]


Velen Prophet's Lesson

After the end of the genocide, Prophet Velen led the draenei survivors into hiding.

Once Shattrath fell, the Horde turned its attention to the other civilizations of Draenor, which Warchief Blackhand had always planned to conquer. Clans burned down the forest island of Farahlon, the last bastion of the Primals, and killed every botani and genesaur they could find. With the help of Arakkoa Outcasts, orcs laid siege to the Spires of Arak where they slaughtered the high arakkoa before turning on their outcast allies, only a few of which survived. Other orcs were tasked with wiping out the gronns, ogrons, magnarons, and ogres who hadn't joined the Horde. The Gorian Empire capital of Highmaul was sacked, many ogres including Imperator Mar'gok being slain in the process.[20]

Kil'jaeden, however, was finished with the orcs; having used them to do his bidding, there remained no reason to spend any more time on them. The Horde was left alone with its desiccated world, in a period that would come to be known as the Dying Time, a period of disease, mass starvation and internal conflicts. The orcs suffered more casualties during this period than during the entire conflict before it. The clans started raiding one another for resources, with Blackhand barely able to maintain peace by ordering them to submit their finest warriors for controlled, one-on-one or small party fights in public display. The winners would receive food from the losing clan, and a supply of pure water as well as honor and fame.[15] Then one day, anxious with the lack of communication from his former demonic master, Gul'dan was suddenly contacted by a different entity: a powerful sorcerer on another planet named Medivh.

With Medivh's aid, the Horde began construction of a gateway, the Dark Portal, which they were told would allow them to reach a new world ripe for conquest. They built a long road leading from the heart of Hellfire Citadel to the Portal, paved with the bones of the draenei. The orcs even called it the Path of Glory as a reminder of their victory over their enemies.[21] Under the instructions of Medivh (who was, in fact, under the sway of the Burning Legion's master Sargeras) the portal was eventually completed. To open it, nearly all of the Horde's draenei prisoners that still lived were brought to the base of the portal. The moment the ritual began, Gul'dan instantly drained all of their life essences, creating the massive spike of power needed to bridge the distance between the two worlds. Meanwhile, Medivh called on his powers as a Guardian of Tirisfal to rip open the Azerothian side of the rift in the Black Morass.[22] With that, the Orcish Horde began its invasion of the world of Azeroth.


The draenei vindicator Nobundo was deformed by the fel energies and became a Broken.

In hiding, the draenei were still affected as the planet continued to suffer from demonic influence. Many degenerated into Broken or lost ones, and lost their ability to wield the Light as their connection to it became severed. This led many former draenei to lose faith in the Light altogether and despair. Farseer Nobundo would later teach many broken, including the Ashtongue leader Akama, the ways of shamanism.[23]

Decades later, Velen would lead a raid on the once-naaru controlled ship of the Exodar. Using it to escape Outland (what Draenor had become known as) the draenei soon learned that the ship had been sabotaged by the blood elves they had seized it from. Ultimately, it crash-landed on the planet of Azeroth, and the draenei, emerging battered but intact into the new world, were aided by and joined the Alliance. Since their arrival on the new world, the draenei remain dedicated in their opposition to the Legion, further bolstered by the sacrifices of their brethren on Draenor.


The crimes committed by the orc warriors against the countless innocent draenei would continue to haunt many veterans even after Thrall led them back to their traditional and shamanistic roots. High Overlord Saurfang in particular claims that the corrupted orcs had no reservations about killing draenei children. The sound of their screams apparently reminded him of swine being slaughtered for their meat.[24]

Not all orcs were corrupt -- such as Durotan of the Frostwolf clan and Jaruk Bloodfyre from the Shadowmoon clan, who saved a draenei girl named Leena.[25]


There were significantly fewer draenei than united orcs.[26] The orcish ranks were swelled up by demons and artificially-aged warriors.


  • During the war, the draenei gatherers at Telredor rarely left the town due to the fear of being attacked or captured by the orcs.[27] The draenei at Telredor also lost contact with the anchorites assigned to the nearby shrines, particularly the Boha'mu temple.[28]