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For its modern successor faction, see Horde. For other uses, see Horde (disambiguation).
HordeOld Horde
Rise of the Horde
Main leader IconSmall Orgrim Warchief Orgrim Doomhammer
  Formerly IconSmall Blackhand Warchief Blackhand †
IconSmall Gul'dan Gul'dan
Secondary leaders IconSmall Varok Varok Saurfang
IconSmall Eitrigg Eitrigg
IconSmall Rend Rend Blackhand
IconSmall Orc Male Maim Blackhand
IconSmall Kilrogg Kilrogg Deadeye
IconSmall Zuluhed Zuluhed the Whacked
IconSmall Orc Male Nekros Skullcrusher
IconSmall Zul'jin Zul'jin
IconSmall Teron Teron Gorefiend
IconSmall Goblin Male Trade Prince Steamwheedle
  Formerly IconSmall Gul'dan Gul'dan †
IconSmall OldCho'gall Cho'gall
Race(s) OrcOrc Orc
OgreOgre Ogre
IconSmall OgreMageIconSmall OgreMage2 Ogre mage
Forest trollForest troll Forest troll
GoblinGoblin Goblin
UndeadUndeadIconSmall UndeadDeathKnightIconSmall SkeletalOrc Undead
Daemon Daemon
IconSmall Mok'Nathal MaleIconSmall Mok'Nathal Female Half-ogre (One)
IconSmall DragonRedIconSmall DrakeRed Red dragon (subdued)
IconSmall TurtleBoat Giant turtle
Character classes Peon, Sapper, Death knight, Grunt, Axethrower, Troll berserker, Ogre mage, Warlock, Necrolyte, Spearman, Raider
Capital None
  Formerly Hellfire Citadel,[1][2] Blackrock Spire
Other major settlements Zul'Aman
  Formerly Dark Portal Base
Base of operations Continent of Azeroth
Theater of operations Eastern Kingdoms
Language(s) Orcish, Zandali, Goblin
Sub-group(s) Death Knight Order, Orcish clans, Sythegore Arm, Forest troll tribes, Ogre clans, Red dragonflight (subdued)
Affiliation Burning Legion (indirectly post Orgrim's slaying of the Shadow Council)
  Formerly Shadow Council
Status Defeated by the Alliance of Lordaeron (ending the Second War). Some reformed into the Horde of Draenor, New Horde, Dark Horde and/or Fel Horde

The Old Horde[3][4][5][6][7] (aka old Horde or the first Horde;[8][9][10] known during the time of its existence simply as the Horde,[11] the Orcish Horde,[12] or the Orc Horde[13]) is a nickname given to the Horde from its beginning prior to the First War until it was defeated by the Alliance of Lordaeron at the end of the Second War. It is used to differentiate it from the New Horde, founded by Thrall after the Old Horde's defeat. Fundamental principles of the Old Horde included demon worship, the consumption of demon blood to become stronger, merciless killing and warfare, and victory in combat to prove one's worth. Their ranks consisted originally only of orcs, soon joined by ogres from Draenor and later by forest trolls and goblins from Azeroth.


Rise of the Horde[]

Main article: Genocide of the draenei

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.[14]

To this end, the demon lord contacted a weak and crippled orc called Gul'dan who the elements had just refused, offering him a taste of shadowy power.[15] He sent Gul'dan to the ambitious chieftain of the Shadowmoon clan, Ner'zhul, and the new warlock convinced Ner'zhul to take him as shaman apprentice. Kil'jaeden then appeared to the elder shaman first as his deceased wife Rulkan and then directly as himself, being 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.[16][17] 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.[17] 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.[18]

This last turn of event made Ner'zhul suspect something was amiss. He made a pilgrimage to the holy site Oshu'gun and discovered the real spirit of Rulkan who revealed that he'd been deceived. Ner'zhul returned to Shadowmoon Valley, intending to back out of the agreement he'd made. To his horror, Gul'dan had already discovered the intended treachery and reported it to Kil'jaeden. With Ner'zhul now disgraced, only kept alive in humiliation to witness the downfall of his people, Gul'dan officially took his place. 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,[19] 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.[20] As more and more orcs began to wield warlock magics, the gentle fields and streams of Draenor began to blacken and fade. Over time, the vast prairies the orcs had called home for generations withered away, leaving only red barren soil. The demon energies were slowly killing the world.[21] Gul'dan's most trusted warlocks and necrolytes formed the Shadow Council to control orc society from behind the scenes.

As the Horde waged war on the draenei, Gul'dan dispatched his assassin, the half-breed Garona Halforcen with care and precision. Influential orcs who expressed doubt or dissent were often found dead shortly after a skirmish with draenei forces. The wounds inflicted by Anguish and Sorrow did not look as if they had come from orcish weapons, so Gul'dan and Garona were never suspected. Her quiet work aided the Horde in securing victory against the draenei, and then her blades helped maintain control in the war's aftermath. Life on Draenor withered due to the presence of fel magic, but tensions within the Horde stayed manageable. Whenever they didn't, Gul'dan gave the command, and Garona obeyed.[22]

The Horde's war against the draenei picked up the pace and the orcs struck out against the greatest and most fortified of draenei locations, Karabor and Shattrath. They destroyed Karabor with relative ease but found trouble assaulting Shattrath. To overcome this roadblock, Gul'dan took the opportunity to seal the Horde's loyalty to the Legion by feeding the blood of Mannoroth to twelve clan chieftains of the Orcish Horde. They were overcome by a demonic bloodlust that soon spread to the rest of the Horde and gave them the strength and fury to break through Shattrath's defenses and destroy it. With the draenei believed extinct, Kil'jaeden left Draenor and abandoned the orcs, ushering the Dying Time.

First and Second Wars[]

With their world dying and without significant enemies to fight, the orcs turned on each other. Gul'dan realized that unless he found a new enemy for the Horde, it would consume itself. Fortunately, Gul'dan was contacted by Medivh, a human mage possessed by Sargeras (leader of the Burning Legion), who promised power and glory in the lush world of Azeroth. Together, Gul'dan's Shadow Council and Medivh created the Dark Portal. Tens of thousands of orcs crossed the portal,[23] and soon the Horde marched through to Azeroth where they clashed with its inhabitants and began the First War. Despite a rocky beginning, the Orcish Horde was ultimately victorious and conquered the Kingdom of Stormwind, but shortly afterward suffered an insurrection for leadership that would ultimately prove to be the Horde's undoing.

Orgrim Doomhammer, Blackhand's second-in-command, turned on the Warchief when Gul'dan was rendered comatose and seized power. He destroyed the Shadow Council and nearly killed Gul'dan, but the warlock awoke just in time to bargain for his life. Orgrim grudgingly agreed to spare Gul'dan's life in exchange for the creation of a legion of undead spellcasters. These new death knights proved a valuable asset to the Horde, as well as the allegiance of forest trolls and goblins, in their push northwards into the Kingdom of Lordaeron. As the Horde laid siege to the capital, Gul'dan and his loyalists abruptly abandoned them to seek the Tomb of Sargeras. With almost half of their standing forces gone, including the death knights, the Orcish Horde was forced to retreat and give Lordaeron the time it needed to regroup.

Soon the tables were turned and the Alliance of Lordaeron laid siege to Blackrock Mountain. In this battle, the Horde was soundly defeated and Orgrim Doomhammer was taken prisoner. The remaining orcs fled for the Dark Portal, with the Alliance in hot pursuit. When Khadgar destroyed the Dark Portal's structure, the orcs lost their morale and were quickly captured and put in internment camps under the Alliance Internment Act, where they suffered from demon blood withdrawal. This marked the end of the Second War and the end of the Old Horde.


Even after its defeat, the Old Horde's ideals still lived on in organizations connected to it.

The Horde of Draenor[]

Dark Portal Draenor side (orc)

The Horde of Draenor

Main article: Horde of Draenor

The loose alliance of orc clans that remained on Draenor during the Horde's invasion of Azeroth. It was led by Ner'zhul who, at the request of Teron Gorefiend, had agreed to rally the remaining orcs on Draenor. He planned to open new portals to other worlds for the orcs to conquer. The Horde of Draenor eventually clashed together with the Alliance Expedition when it stepped through the Dark Portal to defeat the orcs in their own home. Most of the Horde of Draenor was wiped out by this war, and even more of it when Ner'zhul's new portals tore Draenor apart. The Horde of Draenor is also referred to as the new Horde, given how it was created in the wake of the Old Horde's defeat.

The Shadow Council[]

Main article: Shadow Council

The Shadow Council was founded by Gul'dan after he surpassed Ner'zhul as Kil'jaeden's lieutenant. It functioned to gather, infiltrate, and corrupt the various orcish clans in order to make them Kil'jaeden's weapon. As such, the Shadow Council — and its founder and leader — can be credited for creating the Old Horde. Although the Old Horde was defeated in the Second War and the Burning Legion was once more defeated in the Third War, the Shadow Council still lives on. Their main base in Azeroth seems to be Jaedenar. Several minor organizations are working under the Shadow Council — the Burning Blade clan being one of them.

The Burning Blade clan[]


A blademaster of the Burning Blade clan.

Main article: Burning Blade clan

One of the orcish clans from Draenor which, like the other clans, fought against the Alliance in the First and Second War. Similar to the Blackrock clan, of which the Dark Horde (#The Dark Horde|see below) is heavily composed, members of the Burning Blade clan are avid worshipers of demons and practitioners of demonic magic. They are also known for their deadly blademasters, who apparently swore an oath after the Third War to free the clan from the demons' clench. Still, many of its members are still devoted to demonic magic. They can primarily be found in Durotar where they're plotting the New Horde's destruction, as well as in Desolace where they've erected Thunder Axe Fortress. The Burning Blade is considered dangerous enough for the New Horde to plot to destroy them with.[24]

The Dark Horde[]


The Dark Horde

Main article: Dark Horde

A group of orcs, trolls, ogres and goblins — mostly originating from the Blackrock and Dragonmaw clans — made their home in Blackrock Spire in upper Blackrock Mountain. Blackrock Mountain was seized from the Dark Iron clan dwarves and used as the Old Horde's headquarters during the Second War. The orcs were defeated in the Siege of Blackrock Spire, leading to the Alliance of Lordaeron's victory at the Dark Portal. In the aftermath of the Horde's defeat, survivors returned to Blackrock Spire under the rule of Rend Blackhand. Nefarian arrived shortly after and became the new leader with Rend and Maim Blackhand as his subordinates.

The Fel Horde[]

Pride of the Fel Horde TCG

The Fel Horde

Main article: Fel Horde

The remaining orcs of the Horde of Draenor — having become fel orcs from demon blood — that made their home in Hellfire Peninsula. Hellfire Citadel was their headquarters. Rallied by Magtheridon after Draenor's shattering, the fel orcs in Outland became Illidan Stormrage's servants when he overthrew Magtheridon in a coup d'état after the Third War. Kargath Bladefist, who in the aftermath of the Second War helped gather the artifacts needed to open Ner'zhul's new portals, acted as their leader under Illidan. He referred to the Fel Horde as the "true", "real", and "only" Horde. Indeed, the Fel Horde was possibly the branch which resembled the Old Horde the most.


  • Many players familiar with the Old Horde remember it with a sense of awe and nostalgia, considering it to have been more "badass" and "hardcore" than the New Horde. At the same time, they consider the New Horde to be too much concerned about honor and too little about warfare. Chris Metzen himself acknowledged that many players felt that the Horde "has had its teeth pulled" under Thrall.[28] Other players, however, consider the New Horde to be better organized and to pursue more important aims, and appreciate it changing into a more honorable faction.[29][30][31]

Members and allies[]

Icon-search-48x48 This section contains information that needs to be cleaned up. Reason: Outdated lore
Old Horde races by Chris Metzen

The races of the Old Horde during the Second War: a forest troll, an orc, a goblin, and an ogre.

Warcraft I - Orcs

Orcs' symbol in Warcraft I.

Forest trollForest troll Amani Empire - Allied with the Horde during the Second War after their leader, Zul'jin was rescued from the Alliance of Lordaeron by Horde warriors.

Ogre mageIconSmall OgreMageOgreOgre Ogre clans - Some ogres followed the orcs through the Dark Portal.

GoblinGoblin Steamwheedle Cartel - Seeing a great profit potential in the Second War, the Steamwheedle Cartel agreed to exclusively deal with the Horde, but after the lost war decided it would be more profitable to be neutral.

IconSmall CultistOrc MaleIconSmall CultistOrc Female Shadow Council - A group of the old Horde's most elite warlocks. Most of the faction was slain by the second Warchief Orgrim after the First War.

  • Led by IconSmall Gul'dan Gul'dan
  • Daemon Daemon - These dreaded hell spawns were summoned by the warlocks of the Shadow Council to do their bidding.

IconSmall DragonRedIconSmall DrakeRed Red dragonkin - These noble creatures were subjugated by the Dragonmaw Clan using the Demon Soul.

IconSmall DragonBlackIconSmall DrakeBlack Black dragonkin - These servants of the Old Gods briefly allied themselves with the Horde of Draenor out of convenience.

HumanHuman Kingdom of Alterac - A traitor human kingdom that allied with the Horde during the second war and later temporarily allied with the Horde of Draenor. They have since engaged in hostile relations with the New Horde.

IconSmall UndeadDeathKnight Death knight order - Order of undead magic users created from the corpses of the fallen Knights of Azeroth and the spirits of the slain orcish necrolytes from the First War.

OrcOrc Thunderlord clan - Was one of the original orc clans and part of the Horde of Draenor. All of its members seem to have been forcibly turned into fel orcs by the Illidari and Burning Legion.

OrcOrc Stormreaver clan - A clan formed by Gul'dan for his personal protection. It later betrayed the Horde to look for the Tomb of Sargeras and was slaughtered by the vengeful Blackrock clan. A few ex-members such as Drak'thul survive but none known have rejoined the Horde. They captured giant turtles.

OrcOrc Twilight's Hammer clan - A clan led by Cho'gall, the first ogre mage. Cho'gall was made the leader of an orc clan after its previous chieftain was executed for disobeying the Shadow Council. The clan's name was then changed to Twilight's Hammer; its original name and that of its former chieftain were stricken from all records. Under Cho'gall's leadership, the clan became increasingly nihilistic and eventually sought the destruction of all creation. This was true of their clan even before the orcs joined the pact with Mannoroth.


Chronicle2 Dark Portal

The Dark Portal in the Black Morass.


IconSmall Gul'dan Gul'dan / IconSmall Blackhand Warchief Blackhand WCOnH logo
IconSmall Orgrim Warchief Orgrim Doomhammer (Azeroth) / IconSmall Ner'zhul Warchief Ner'zhul (Draenor) WC2BnE-logo

Shadow Council

IconSmall Gul'dan Gul'dan WCOnH logo - WC2BnE-logo

Blackrock clan

IconSmall Blackhand Chieftain Blackhand WCOnH logo
IconSmall Orgrim Chieftain Orgrim Doomhammer WCOnH logo - WC2BnE-logo

Frostwolf clan

IconSmall Durotan Chieftain Durotan WCOnH logo
IconSmall Drek'Thar Chieftain Drek'Thar WC2BnE-logo

Bleeding Hollow clan

IconSmall Kilrogg Chieftain Kilrogg Deadeye WCOnH logo - WC2BnE-logo

Burning Blade clan

Unknown leadership WCOnH logo - WC2BnE-logo

Dragonmaw clan

IconSmall Zuluhed Chieftain Zuluhed WCOnH logo - WC2BnE-logo

Warsong clan

IconSmall Grom Chieftain Grommash Hellscream WCOnH logo - WC2BnE-logo

Bonechewer clan

IconSmall Orc Male Chieftain Hurkan Skullsplinter WCOnH logo - WC2BnE-logo

Thunderlord clan

IconSmall Orc Male Chieftain Fenris Wolfbrother WCOnH logo - WC2BnE-logo

Shadowmoon clan

IconSmall Ner'zhul Chieftain Ner'zhul WCOnH logo - WC2BnE-logo

Shattered Hand clan

IconSmall Kargath Chieftain Kargath WCOnH logo - WC2BnE-logo

Laughing Skull clan

IconSmall OgreMage Mogor WCOnH logo - WC2BnE-logo

Twilight's Hammer clan

IconSmall OldCho'gall Chieftain Cho'gall WCOnH logo - WC2BnE-logo

Stormreaver clan

IconSmall Gul'dan Chieftain Gul'dan WC2BnE-logo

Black Tooth Grin clan

IconSmall Rend Chieftain Dal'rend Blackhand / IconSmall OrcGray Male Chieftain Maim Blackhand WC2BnE-logo

Horde Death knights

IconSmall Teron Teron Gorefiend WC2BnE-logo

Amani tribe

IconSmall Zul'jin Zul'jin WC2BnE-logo

Steamwheedle Cartel

IconSmall Goblin Male Trade Prince Steamwheedle WC2BnE-logo

History Rise of the Horde First War Second War Invasion of Draenor
Horde Blackhand the Destroyer Orgrim Doomhammer Ner'zhul
Shadow Council Gul'dan
Blackrock clan Blackhand the Destroyer Orgrim Doomhammer
Frostwolf clan Durotan Drek'Thar
Bleeding Hollow clan Kilrogg Deadeye
Burning Blade clan No known leaders
Dragonmaw clan Zuluhed the Whacked Nekros Skullcrusher
Warsong clan Grommash Hellscream Grommash Hellscream
Bonechewer clan Hurkan Skullsplinter Tagar Spinebreaker
Thunderlord clan Fenris Wolfbrother Fenris Wolfbrother
Shadowmoon clan Ner'zhul Ner'zhul
Shattered Hand clan Kargath Bladefist Kargath Bladefist
Laughing Skull clan Ogre-Mage Mogor Ogre-Mage Mogor
Twilight's Hammer clan Cho'gall
Stormreaver clan Gul'dan
Black Tooth Grin clan Rend Blackhand
Maim Blackhand
Horde Death knights Teron Gorefiend
Amani trolls Zul'jin
Ogres No known leaders
Steamwheedle Cartel Trade Prince Steamwheedle
Red Dragonflight Alexstrasza (enslaved by Nekros Skullcrusher)
Black Dragonflight Deathwing

In the RPG[]

Icon-RPG This section contains information from the Warcraft RPG which is considered non-canon.

History of the Horde[]

See also: Horde#In the RPG
Kil'jaeden and Ner'zhul

Kil'jaeden and Ner'zhul

The Horde's history begins in hellfire, when the shaman Ner'zhul was contacted by an extraplanar being called Kil'jaeden. Ner'zhul was tricked (much like the night elves had been) into thinking that Kil'jaeden was a spirit. Though he had dedicated much of his life to balance and nature, Ner'zhul was lulled by the archdemon's offers of power and was convinced to abandon his teachings in favor of a new path: that of the warlock. The consequences were dire. Once he had learned the basics of manipulating this new infernal magic, his fame grew. Others soon abandoned the old ways to follow his new, quicker path to the manipulation of the natural world.

It took years before Ner'zhul realized his error. By this time he had convinced many to follow his dark path, and the orcs waged war against the draenei. Ner'zhul helped in the first efforts to unify the Horde into a cohesive unit, but when he saw what had become of his race — and what it was still becoming — he denied Kil'jaeden. He refused to compel the orcs to drink demon blood. Kil'jaeden, furious, found a new pawn in the form of Gul'dan, one of Ner'zhul's strongest apprentices, who shared none of his master's honor or compassion. Where Ner'zhul had been held back by a lingering feeling of guilt and regret, Gul'dan's greed and ambition allowed him to grow even more powerful and cruel than his former master. He became Kil'jaeden's instrument of destruction on Draenor, leading the newly founded Horde to levels of brutality never previously conceived of by the orc race. He did not have Ner'zhul's compunctions and convinced the orcs to drink the blood of the demonic pit lord Mannoroth the Destructor, which irrevocably tainted the orcs who consumed it.

The orcs, the traditional "fathers" of the Horde, slaughtered the few other creatures living on their world and turned to fighting each other; at this point, the only race they might have called allies was the ogres. At this point in time, only the single-headed ogres existed —- massive, single-minded warriors who served as little more than walking siege engines for the orcs as they plundered and conquered.

With their aggression heightened by demon blood, the orcs easily overpowered the draenei. The ensuing slaughter united the orcs under a single mantle for the first time; thus, the Horde was born. Gul'dan continued to influence the Horde from the sidelines, but he still desired yet more power and influence. To this end, with Kil'jaeden's assistance, he founded the dreaded Shadow Council. The Shadow Council was a collection of the most vicious warlocks the Horde had to offer. United, these warlocks found it easy to bend the orcs of the Horde - leaders and peons alike - to their will. The overwhelming majority of the Horde did not even know of the Shadow Council's existence, and this covert existence was the Council's greatest strength. Kil'jaeden, now satisfied with the orcs, cut off contact with them and with Gul'dan. Without significant enemies to fight, the orcs turned on each other. Gul'dan realized that unless he found a new enemy for the Horde, it would consume itself. Soon after this, Gul'dan was contacted by a powerful being known as Medivh, a possessed human mage, offering a world called Azeroth that was ripe for the picking. Medivh even created a Dark Portal connecting the two worlds. Gul'dan orchestrated the orcs to bring their army, the now-massive Horde, through the portal. The construction and use of the first Dark Portal marked the beginning of the Horde's invasion of Azeroth, and thus the start of the First War.[32]

Orcs First War RPG

Depiction of orcs in the First War in Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game.

By this time, a large percentage of the orc race had been affected by the taint of demons and was thoroughly under the sway of Kil'jaeden and his followers. This is not to say there were no virtuous orcs at this time; many heroes of the First War refused any contact with the demons or were blissfully ignorant of their existence. The first successful assaults against the humans lulled the orcs into a false sense of superiority. The orcs, a warrior race, had expected every settlement to be armed; the farms they pillaged during their initial incursions led the orcs to believe that all humans were like the simple farmers they swiftly put to the axe. Thinking an easy victory was at hand, the orcs moved toward Stormwind at Gul'dan's urging; Gul'dan believed if he took Stormwind, Medivh would grant him the location of the Tomb of Sargeras.

Stormwind proved an overwhelming shock to the Horde. The footmen guarding the city's entrance put up the first fight the orcs had seen, but they still managed to push their way through the gates. By the time they realized that this minimal resistance was a trap, it was far too late. Armored cavalry flanked the Horde's disorganized group, crushing warriors under the hooves of their mounts (creatures unfamiliar to the Orcish Horde) and striking down even the mightiest of orcs with their lances and blades. The orcs learned to call these mounted warriors knights and cursed the world that had cost them victory for the first time. Shamed, the orcs retreated, hounded by these knights of the Brotherhood of the Horse every step of the way. Gul'dan concealed the final steps of the orc retreat with a wall of impenetrable fog; this simple spell may have saved the Horde from complete destruction.

Furious, the warchiefs blamed each other for the failure, and the Horde's fractured remains threatened to tear asunder the entire organization. Gul'dan knew he needed to act quickly to salvage what he could; to this end, he convinced the Shadow Council to do something unheard of. Blackhand the Destroyer was named Warchief of the Horde; he would lead the entirety of the orc race, not just his own (already formidable) clan. Many challenged the mighty Blackhand in these early days, but all were crushed, either by Blackhand's own prowess or Gul'dan's shadowy enforcers. Another unusual player emerged from the darkness at this time: Garona, the now-legendary half-orc assassin. Garona was a lowly servant of Gul'dan, tasked with recording the war in writing; the mighty orc warriors held little value in reading and writing, and the warlocks had little interest in spending their time chronicling history.[33]

The humans proved to have even more tricks up their sleeves; the archmagi of the Kirin Tor and the priests of Northshire added much-needed magical support to the human armies as the battle was joined in earnest. It seemed that the catastrophic assault on Stormwind may have cost the orcs too much, but at a key point in the battles, the mighty Lord Anduin Lothar disappeared. In Lothar's absence, the human forces were left with inferior leadership and fell back to Stormwind's walls. Anduin returned for only a short time, routing the orcs briefly, before disappearing again; it was learned later that he had initially sought the Tome of Divinity in the Deadmines, but his second departure was far more significant. With help from Garona and the apprentice mage Khadgar, Lothar slew his life-long friend, the traitor Medivh, in his tower. Gul'dan attempted to wrest the secret of Sargeras's Tomb from Medivh's mind as the Guardian died, but a psychic backlash slammed Gul'dan as Medivh perished.

At the same time, Garona infiltrated Stormwind, where she assassinated the mighty King Llane Wrynn before Lothar had a chance to return. With the king slain, morale fell, and Stormwind fell with it. Lothar arrived only in time to gather the surviving forces and retreat to the north; the orcs had won the First War.


Orgrim scouring the Shadow Council.

Victory cost the orcs much; while Gul'dan remained comatose, Orgrim Doomhammer gained the title of Backstabber by slaying Blackhand and taking the mantle of Warchief of the Horde. While Orgrim was unusually loyal for an orc, he had uncovered the existence of the Shadow Council, and the truth about their manipulations of Blackhand. Doomhammer led a surprise assault on the citadel where the Shadow Council resided and slaughtered nearly every warlock. Gul'dan awoke with a blade at his neck, and was forced to pledge his fealty to Doomhammer, whispering promises of vengeance under his breath.[34]

The orcs followed the humans north, enjoying the conquest of yet more land. The fledgling Alliance rose to combat them, but the Horde too proved capable of finding allies. The forest trolls had long hated the humans and elves, but proud Zul'jin initially refused to join with the Horde; this changed when the troll leader was captured by human forces in Hillsbrad, and rescued at Doomhammer's command. With trolls, ogres, and orcs fighting side by side it was not long before the enterprising goblins saw the potential profit in aiding them. Dark magic brought the Horde the remainder of their allies.

Gul'dan was furious at the slaughter of his council, but he found little difficulty in training others to follow his path. Kil'jaeden whispered secrets to him again for the first time since Medivh's coming, and at the demon lord's coaxing, he learned to command the dead. Gul'dan learned to stretch his consciousness into the Great Dark Beyond and found the souls of his fellow warlocks eagerly awaiting a new host. His first attempts at resurrection and raising the dead met with failure; the flesh of his necrolytes and apprentice warlocks proved too weak to house the spirits of these ancient warlocks. When the Horde laid siege to Caer Darrow, they were repelled for a time by a massive artifact; a powerful runestone, enchanted with ancient magic of unknown origin. Gul'dan perverted the artifact, slicing it into great slabs to construct the first Altar of Storms.

Gul'dan called his minions to the altar, sacrificing many of them in dark rituals to ensure his success. His efforts were not without fruit; Gul'dan first experimented with the living, and used the runestone's magic to create a new breed of warlock that would not so easily fall to Doomhammer's swords: the ogre magi. Cho'gall, the first of these new ogres, was fanatically loyal to Gul'dan for his gift. Together, the two created yet more ogre magi and prepared for the next step of their plan. Doomhammer, having betrayed his own master, was highly suspicious of others; Gul'dan convinced him that Rend and Maim, the sons of Blackhand, planned to turn against him. Doomhammer disbanded Rend and Maim's legions of raiders and dispersed them to save his own hide, but this weakened the Horde's mounted cavalry in the process.

Orc Clan Banners

Orc clan banners.

Gul'dan, of course, had the solution — he would create an army of undead riders, loyal only to Doomhammer. This concept pleased the warchief, although he clearly did not trust the warlock, and with good reason. This situation bought Gul'dan time, however; and while his initial experiments with Cho'gall failed, the two gathered orcs and ogres around them, forming the Stormreaver and Twilight's Hammer clans. As time went on, Orgrim demanded results; Gul'dan, not yet prepared for war with the warchief, searched desperately for a solution. He realized he had been working only with the bodies of his own ground troops; he needed trained riders, with bodies built for mounted combat. In a stroke of insane genius, he placed the spirit of one of his former companions, Teron Gorefiend, in the corpse of a mighty human knight. To his surprise, Gorefiend took control of the body, and perhaps more importantly, still proved capable of channeling dark magic while his spirit was encased in the skeletal shell. Thus, the first death knight was born.

Even with death knights and ogre magi, the Horde suffered many defeats early in the Second War; this could partially be attributed to the strength of the newly-formed Knights of the Silver Hand, but the main reason was far more blatant: the Alliance had air support. The mighty Wildhammer dwarves of Aerie Peak rained lightning from the heavens on the helpless ground forces of the Horde, evading the counterattacks of the Horde's spellcasters and troll axethrowers. The veterans of the war knew the Horde desperately needed their own beasts of the skies but found none to answer their call.

Then an orc chieftain, the shaman Zuluhed, through mysterious resources, uncovered an ancient talisman said to be capable of tremendous wonders. The only trouble was that it did not respond to shamanistic spellwork, no matter how great Zuluhed's effort. That led Zuluhed to turn to the only warlock he felt he could trust, a warrior loyal to Dragonmaw clan. Thus Nekros inherited the Demon Soul. With this object, the orc was able to call upon great feats of magical power — but the Soul's true secret was the power to control dragons.

In time, even the mighty Alexstrasza, the Dragonqueen, succumbed to the power of the Demon Soul. Chained within Grim Batol, Nekros forced her to produce an army to serve as the airborne cavalry of the Horde. The red dragonflight served the orcs, knowing their queen would be destroyed if they did not, with only a handful managing to escape or resist. Zuluhed the Whacked took credit for Nekros's victory, and his Dragonmaw Clan led the reds to war. With the dragons at the orcs' sides, the Second War ground to a near stalemate; but somehow the Knights of the Silver Hand and their allies managed a push to the citadel of Blackrock Spire, led by none other than the champion Anduin Lothar.

Lothar was separated from the main body of his troops in this, perhaps one of the greatest of all of Azeroth's battles. Amid the chaos, he fought with Orgrim Doomhammer; some say he was defeated in single combat, others claim that he was ambushed and slain by a group. Regardless, his blade fell from his dead grasp, though it did not lie cold for long. One of Lothar's lieutenants, Turalyon, took up the rallying cry, "For Lothar!" which spread among the troops of the Alliance until the piercing howl struck fear even into the hearts of the mighty orcs. Turalyon's unbridled assault pushed the Horde back again and again, forcing them all the way to the Dark Portal.

Somewhere around this time, the chieftain of the Frostwolf Clan, Durotan, learned the truth of Gul'dan's contact with demons. He spoke against Gul'dan, and the Horde banished his clan to the frozen tundra of the Alterac Mountains in punishment. In time, he gathered more information and proof, and sought Orgrim Doomhammer. He explained to Doomhammer the truth about Kil'jaeden, and Doomhammer believed him and sent Durotan off for a few days with an armed escort while he considered what to do. One of the guards, however, was a traitor; he called in assassins who killed Durotan and his wife, leaving only their infant child alive. Lord Aedelas Blackmoore, a cunning man, found the baby in the forest and took the orc child as a slave, naming him "Thrall".

At the Dark Portal, the orcs stood proud, with Doomhammer refusing to retreat through the swirling gateway. As the battle raged on, Khadgar, once the apprentice of Medivh and now the Archmage of Nethergarde, began to channel the greatest destructive spell seen since the days of Aegwynn. Thousands had died that day, but as a glow appeared in the sky above the portal, human and orc alike stopped for a moment to watch in wonder and anticipation. The pillar of light that Khadgar called pierced the portal and sundered it, shattering the massive gateway and the morale of the orcs along with it. Kilrogg Deadeye of the Bleeding Hollow clan led a retreat; the Alliance captured all others, including the Warchief, Orgrim Doomhammer.[35]

As the humans pursued Kilrogg's remaining forces, Gul'dan led the remainder of his clan to the Tomb of Sargeras, no longer willing to wait to claim his godhood. There, he released the demons within the tomb, and a mighty battle ensued. It is unknown what demon finally took the warlock's life, but only a handful of his clan lived to tell the tale. Gul'dan never found the Eye of Sargeras; it's likely the world would have been shattered if he had succeeded in his goal.

Kilrogg Deadeye, the last orc hero of the First War, led his people to another portal to Draenor; the orcs gathered several artifacts in order to summon the portal for their retreat. The Alliance, fearful that the Horde would return with greater numbers later on, sent some of their bravest to follow Kilrogg through the portal. With the Alliance hot on their heels, the Bleeding Hollow Clan reunited with the orcs who had remained on Draenor, and they braced themselves for a new battle.

Kilrogg found the orcs of Draenor under the control of Ner'zhul, the ancient shaman who had once refused Kil'jaeden. Many ancient clans were still strong in Draenor, and the humans found themselves outnumbered; Ner'zhul was quick to put Kilrogg's experience to good use, and they coordinated to devise the best possible tactics to defeat the humans.

The fighting on Draenor had not raged for long before Ner'zhul made an unusual decision that would change the course of history. The shaman no longer found Azeroth or Draenor suitable for his people, so he used his immense power to open another portal — and another, and another, each to a different world, potentially ripe for conquest. He didn't realize that Draenor couldn't handle that many portals at once. The world began to tear itself apart. Khadgar and the humans who had followed the orcs through the portal thought that was pretty keen at first, until they realized that if Draenor exploded, the explosion might leak back through their portal and hit Azeroth as well.

The humans set up camp at the last portal back to Azeroth and defended it with their lives — not to protect the portal, but to shield Khadgar as he prepared the spell to destroy it. Nearly every human was slain as the orcs turned their full might upon the small group, but their lives bought the archmage enough time to finish his spell and shatter the portal. With no known world to retreat to, the orcs and humans fled to a random portal; some failed, and died in the blast as Draenor combusted. What remained of the orcs' homeworld was a blasted continent of floating red rocks in the Twisting Nether, with only a handful of survivors, most of whom were horribly wounded. Kil'jaeden plucked Ner'zhul and his followers from Draenor after they entered one of their portals and stuffed him into Northrend, where he became the Lich King.[36]

RPG note[]

Notes and trivia[]

  • The early Horde is described as the "old Horde" (lower-case "old") in only one known instance in lore, Lord of the Clans, and never used since (most of the time Thrall - the protagonist in this book - just calls it the "Horde").[37] Much more frequently this version of the faction is called the Old Horde (with an uppercase 'O') and the New Horde is, consequently, used to refer to Thrall's Horde.
  • The "old Horde" is also a term used by Sylvanas Windrunner to refer to the core races of the new Horde: the orcs, trolls, and tauren.[38]
  • As a good marker of the differences in philosophical viewpoints between the Old Horde and the Alliance of Lordaeron, the human clerics and paladins were able to heal their wounded allies, while the orcish necrolytes and death knights were only willing to raise their fallen comrades as undead. Spellcaster abilities were originally the only differences between the two factions.
  • The orcs were originally not seafarers and up to the Second War, most of the superstitious clans feared the open sea. As such, the navy of the Old Horde was built with the help of the other races. The ogres were responsible for the massive juggernaughts, the trolls were responsible for the swift destroyers,[39] and the goblins equipped the giant turtle submarines.
  • Until Thrall came to power and reformed it, females were not considered equals to males in the Horde.[40] Similarly, peons were badly treated by their peers.
  • In the canceled Warcraft Adventures, dragon teeth necklaces were common enough in the ranks of the Old Horde that Zul'jin could trade five of them weekly at his shop.


Fan art