Cataclysm War against Deathwing
Cinematic Deathwing.jpg
Location World of Azeroth (Northrend, Eastern Kingdoms, Kalimdor, Great Sea), Elemental Plane (Deepholm, Abyssal Maw, Firelands, Skywall) and in a post-apocalyptical universe.
Prelude Elemental Unrest
Begin Shattering
End Fall of Deathwing

Alliance Alliance, Horde Horde



Mob Old Gods' forces

Commanders and leaders

Alliance Alliance, Horde Horde




Mob Old Gods' forces

Casualties and losses

Alliance Alliance, Horde Horde

  • Massive

Mob Old Gods' forces

  • Very heavy
Major Battles Battle for Darkshore, Skywall Invasion, Defense of the Mount Hyjal, Invasion of Vashj'ir, Deepholm Invasion, Firelands Invasion,  [Siege of Wyrmrest Temple] and Battle on the Maelstrom
Previous War Against the Nightmare
Concurrent Alliance-Horde war, War against the Zandalari
Next Invasion of Pandaria

The war against Deathwing was the destructive conflict between the Old Gods' forces led by Deathwing the Destroyer, and the citizens of Azeroth such as the Alliance, the Horde, and the main dragonflights. The Shattering of the planet caused by Deathwing's emergence from Deepholm marked the beginning of this conflict, which ultimately ended with the fall of Deathwing at the Maelstrom.


With the destruction of the Demon Soul at the Battle of Grim Batol, Deathwing fled to the Elemental Plane, in Deepholm, to recover and prepare for his return to Azeroth. During his absence, his son, Nefarian attempted to create a new, powerful dragonflight called the Chromatic dragonflight with partial success before his defeat in Blackrock Spire. Some time later, Sintharia created the Twilight dragonflight. By the time the Alliance and Horde set sail for Northrend, the black dragonflight ended its battle against Ragnaros, allying with the Firelord and Ala'kir the Windlord.

By the end of the war against the Lich King, Deathwing had completely recovered from his defeat. Shortly after the heroes of Northrend returned home, Deathwing prepared for his return, sending earthquakes and shockwaves across the planet. Allying with Deathwing, the cultists of the Twilight Hammer began spreading the word of doom and destruction to the races of Azeroth, leading up to an attack of major cities by various elementals. Though the first attacks were stopped, Deathwing finally emerged from the Maelstrom, destroying the World Pillar in Deepholm and causing the Second Sundering.

Alliance-Horde war

Main article: Alliance-Horde war

The Shattering caused by Deathwing's return reshaped the face of much of Azeroth. Entire areas were devastated, resources lost, and raging elementals attacked. The upheaval caused the Alliance and Horde to fight each other for resources while battling the members of the Twilight Hammer wherever they could.

Twilight Highlands

Few places on Azeroth exemplify this ever-changing dynamic more than the Twilight Highlands of the Eastern Kingdoms. The Highlands have undergone constant upheaval throughout their history, with races and factions thriving, collapsing, and changing seemingly without pause. The fortress-city of Grim Batol has played host to no fewer than three potent factions: the Wildhammer dwarves, who abandoned their home after a Dark Iron curse left it uninhabitable; the red dragonflight, which was forced to fight for the Horde in the captivity of the Dragonmaw orcs during the Second War; and, of course, the Dragonmaw themselves, who were driven from Grim Batol when the red dragonflight was finally freed from their grasp.

Alexstrasza vs Deathwing2.jpg

The Dragonmaw now cling to the edges of the highlands. They're no less wild and difficult to deal with than when they ruled Grim Batol, but their knowledge of dragons and warfare is of unquestionable importance, especially amidst the chaos of the Cataclysm. The Wildhammer dwarves dwell in forested outposts among the highlands' mountains; though long friendly with the Alliance, they have only now begun to consider casting their lot in with Stormwind and Ironforge thanks to the entreaties of their cousins, the Bronzebeard clan. Even the mighty red dragonflight has suffered greatly in recent months: its members have been decimated by a frenzied, newly aggressive black dragonflight attacking relentlessly from the petrified Obsidian Forest.

The Twilight Citadel which holds the entrance to the Bastion of Twilight, the Twilight's Hammer's stronghold. Amidst this upheaval, a new power has come to possess the highlands. Though the environment has been given many names throughout its history, it's only been dubbed "Twilight" thanks to the dominance of its current masters. The fanatical Twilight's Hammer cultists appreciate the name, but there are more functional features to the swath of land they've chosen as their headquarters. It's rimmed by massive mountain peaks that scrape at the sky like fingernails, making invasion by land nearly impossible, and the highlands' black-glass beaches ensure that marine assaults are fraught with terror; ships docking on the peninsula risk running aground.

Aspect of Life vs. Aspect of Death.

More important to the cult, however, is the promise of worldly extinction and change that permeates the land. In the dimness of the highlands, shadows are deeper. The sun and the rest of Azeroth seem distant. The elements themselves are more pronounced: fires burn hotter; rain forces its way into the ground; and the heaves and shudders of the land call to mind some colossal being stirring beneath the earth. This doesn't frighten the members of the Twilight's Hammer; it lulls them to sleep.

Their dark work is done here in a manner that could never have been realized in Silithus. The devoted of the Twilight's Hammer train in the halls of mighty fortresses, not tiny compounds and outposts. They summon dangerous, mercurial elementals who loathe each other to the point of outright war but still pause their feuds momentarily to work towards the destruction of the other races. Outside the highlands, the cult is fractious and divided. Here, it is guided on its mission of destruction by some of the cruelest and bloodiest names in history, yet the names associated with this cabal belie the true extent of its leadership. These dark whisperers chose the highlands as their base of operations for a reason. They can feel the presence of the Old Gods in the air and see their victory in the darkness. The shifting landscape, battling factions, and wicked elements embody the cult's vision of what its world will become as it is finally purged of life and order. The rest of Azeroth will follow the Twilight Highlands into oblivion, one way or another.

Dominated by the Old Gods' forces, Grim Batol is under siege by the red dragonflight and heroes of the Alliance and Horde. It is here that Alexstrasza decides the black dragonflight cannot be saved and finally decides to destroy the flight, later Deathwing and Alexstrasza take off to a fight in the air, mortally wounding Alexstrasza and weakening Deathwing. Alexstrasza would have died if not for her son, Calen distracting the black aspect. Some time later, the twilight citadel itself is attacked by forces of the Alliance and Horde. Eventually Skullcrusher the Mountain is killed and eventually the leader of the Twilight's Hammer himself, Cho'gall. It is further revealed that the Twilight dragonflight are being created by Sintharia in Twilight Caverns under the Bastion of Twilight. After being slain, Sintharia says: "Deathwing, I have fallen, The brood has fallen", which might mean that her death is the end of the Twilight dragonflight.


Secrets of Uldum

The Cataclysm brought the Skywall towers into Uldum which served as an entrance to Al'Akir's domain Skywall - the elemental plane of air. Al'Akir sent his elemental minions to convince the Tol'vir to join his new liege Deathwing, even rewarding them by removing the Curse of Flesh. Those who dared to oppose suffered dire consequences, as shown by the Orsis settlement. With the aid of the Alliance and the Horde, the forces of the Ramkahen tribe were able to decimate the treacherous Neferset tribe. Al'Akir and his commanders were later defeated, ending the war against Deathwing's elemental forces in Uldum.

Elemental Planes

While massive resources were spent on the war against the counterpart faction, the Alliance and Horde eventually turn their focus on the forces of the Twilight Hammer and Deathwing, directing forces to Mount Hyjal, where many forces of the Twilight Hammer rest.

The Defense of Mount Hyjal

Mount Hyjal under assault.

At some point prior to the Cataclysm, Malfurion Stormrage awoke from the Emerald Dream, leading the Cenarion Circle against the Twilight Hammer at Mount Hyjal. Ragnaros, after being banished in the Molten Core, was resummoned to Azeroth by Deathwing in order to destroy the World Tree Nordrassil. Ysera, who also is active in the campaign against the Twilight Hammer, has adventurers reawaken other Ancient guardians to aid in the battle.

Invading Vashj'ir

The naga of Vashj'ir.

Elsewhere, an island appeared off the coast of Stormwind, considered by both the Alliance and the Horde to be vital in their ongoing conflict. However, en route to the island, the ships were attacked and their passengers pulled into the sea by naga. It is eventually learned that the naga, allied with Deathwing and the Twilight's Hammer, are waging a war against Neptulon the Tidehunter, in an effort to take control of the seas themselves. Rather than allowing the naga to take control of the powerful domain, the mortal races aid the Tidehunter repelling the naga. The naga are overall victorious, however, invading the Abyssal Maw and forcing Neptulon into hiding/imprisonment. While heroes attempted to aid Neptulon as he cleansed the waters, the kraken Ozumat pulled a weakened Neptulon away as it fled the battle.

Repairing the World Pillar

The World Pillar

The Cataclysm brought Azeroth closer to the Elemental Planes than it has ever been. The shaman of the Earthen Ring, feeling the distress of the planet, work to repair the damage Deathwing caused. Thrall gave the title of Warchief of the Horde to Garrosh Hellscream, while he and other shamans like Nobundo and Muln tried to stabilize the rift within the Maelstrom, keeping Azeroth from collapsing into Deepholm. Forces of the Alliance and Horde have joined forces with the Earthen Ring to repair the World Pillar but must battle the Twilight Hammer in Deepholm to recover the misses pieces. Rather than joining Ragnaros and Al'akir, Therazane the Stonemother chose to side with the mortals in order to prevent her enemies from taking her realm, or even its eventual collapse.

The Firelands Invasion

Malfurion creates a base camp to battle the Firelord.

Both Ragnaros' forces and those of the Twilight's Hammer seek to burn the world tree Nordrassil. It is up to adventurers to push the foot soldiers back and interact with five Ancients: Goldrinn, Aviana, Aessina, Tortolla and Cenarius, and rescue the legendary commander Jarod Shadowsong. Once these five Ancients are back in the fight, Malfurion, Hamuul, and Cenarius lead a charge against Ragnaros in Sulfuron Spire, driving him back to the Firelands. After the lost of many warriors and the recruiting of many organizations, the Avengers of Hyjal go to the Firelord's throne, killing him once and for all.

Twilight of the Aspects

Main article: Thrall: Twilight of the Aspects

Thrall fighting against the twilight dragonflight.

After the Wyrmrest Temple was attacked and taken over by the Twilight's Hammer cult, Alexstrasza's consort Korialstrasz had seemingly betrayed the Accord; destroying the sanctums underneath the temple and all of the unhatched eggs in the process. Distraught, the embittered Life-Binder officially disbanded the Accord and fled the scene. Ysera, who was present to witness this, appears before Thrall in her kaldorei guise. Ysera asks Thrall to undertake a journey to relieve a small druid camp in Feralas of a rampant fire elemental. Thrall quickly accepts upon learning of his new companion's true identity. With Ysera's urging, Thrall and Snowsong set out to the find the camp and relieve its inhabitants. Thrall is surprised to see that the camp is inhabited mainly by night elf sentinels, though after some mutual hostility, Thrall converses with the fire elemental (its attitude reminiscent of those who had attacked Orgrimmar prior to the cataclysm) and convinces it to leave. Thrall's reputation with the gathered kaldorei increases immensely, and the former warchief spends the evening feasting and drinking with them as friends.

Having succeeded in his small task, an elf named Desharin approached Thrall and urges him to come into the local woodland. After speaking with the relieved ancients, Desharin reveals himself as a green dragon; informing Thrall that Ysera has a far more important task for him and him alone. Desharin takes Thrall to the Caverns of Time, where they are admitted entry by the bronze dragons on Ysera's behalf. While there, the two are attacked by a mysterious human in eerily familiar armor. Desharin is beheaded by the assailant, and he and Thrall do battle. The bronze dragons relieve the battle, and Thrall is instructed to flee through a time portal. On the other end of the time portal, Thrall finds himself at a late point in the Second War. However, Desharin’s murderer makes a reappearance in this timeway - and attacks Thrall once more. He informs Thrall that his death is all that's on his agenda, and that killing him as a child will be far easier than his adult self. As Blackmoore approaches the infant, such as proper in the true timeline, Thrall grabs his attacker and hurls him into a neighboring river. The two struggle for a time, though after noticing a curious glittering of bronze scales, Thrall is taken to another point in time and his attacker disappears once more. Thrall comes face to face with a slightly older Taretha; embittered by what appears to have been a far harsher life. After convincing her that he is who he says he is, Taretha informs him of some damning news - in this timeline, Thrall had died as a child. Blackmoore, robbed of his prized future-gladiator, did the unexpected: rather than fall further into drink and depression, he sobered up; conscripted mercenaries into his new army, and trained them all himself. Gaining huge support, Blackmoore led his army against Orgrim Doomhammer, and slew the Horde warchief in one-on-one combat. Rather than have the stunned orcs killed, however, Blackmoore engaged in a secret pact with them - to join him, and overthrow the Alliance usurping the kingdom of Lordaeron and deposing House Menethil.

He and Taretha travel to Dalaran, where they are admitted to Krasus' presence. The three come to realize that not only is their "timeline" false; but rather, "time" itself was the illusion here. The understanding shatters the apparent timeway, and Thrall finally finds the Aspect of Time, Nozdormu, awaiting him. Nozdormu begins to piece together the various events occurring in both the alternate the true timeline. To Thrall’s - and the onlooking bronze dragons’ - immense shock, Nozdormu informs him that the great Aspect’s retreat from the world was in order to discover the cause of a dire event destined to happen in the future and to avert it. This event would be Nozdormu founding and presiding over the Infinite Dragonflight. Nozdormu also admits that, as such, he was also responsible for sending the assassin after Thrall. At this point, Thrall comes to realize his mysterious assailant’s identity - the missing Blackmoore from the false timeline. Regardless of this pressing matter, Nozdormu thanks Thrall for giving him clarity; setting him another task: to find and lift Alexstrasza from her grief over Krasus’ demise, and to convince the blue dragonflight to set aside its differences with the others and join forces against the impending darkness.

Thrall and Tick set out to confront the bereaved Life-Binder, and the two find her in the barren wasteland of Desolace. Though Alexstrasza rebukes his comfort and banishes him from her sight, Thrall does not give up hope for the Life-Binder just yet. Thrall then makes the journey to the Nexus is admitted audience with Arygos and Kalecgos. Thrall learns that the blue dragonflight is in the process of electing its next Aspect, and that the two most likely candidates are Malygos' ferocious son, Arygos himself, and none other than Kalecgos. An event known as the "Embrace" is set to occur shortly; a time where the two moons of Azeroth meet in what cosmetically appears to be the form of a mother embracing her child, hence the name. This sacred event heralds a celestial time for the blue dragons, and their best chance of truly empowering a new Aspect for their flight. To Thrall’s great relief, and to Kalecgos’ great bemusement, Kalecgos is chosen as the new Aspect. The flight as a whole are pleased with this decision and watch eagerly as their new leader is empowered by the titans’ might. Arygos, enraged, curses the flight for fools; abandoning Coldarra.

As the flight begins to celebrate its new leader’s ascension, twilight dragons interrupt the ceremony. Thrall leaps atop Kalec's back, and the two prove a formidable fighting force. After disposing of several of the creatures, the blues give chase to the fleeing remainder. They arrive at the Wyrmrest Temple, and catch sight of the semi-functional Chromatus. Regardless, the blues press on; fighting back the twilight dragonflight with efficiency. However, Chromatus - now awakened with the blood of the murdered Arygos - engages in the battle, and cuts a swathe of destruction through the blues. Thrall is hurled off Kalec in the ensuing chaos and finds his footing in the snow. As he calls upon the aid of the elements, he is granted a peculiar vision of Krasus’ final moments and resolves to inform the Life-Binder of the truth behind his demise. However, Thrall is brutally attacked by a newly-arrived Blackmoore. Wielding the Doomhammer in tandem with his powerful elemental skill, Thrall catches his mortal enemy off-guard. Blackmoore is lambasted by Thrall's summoned wind-vortex, and collapses on the floor before his former slave. As Thrall moves in to deal the final blow, Blackmoore begs for his life. Though Thrall takes no pleasure in the act, he refuses to relent; bringing the Doomhammer down upon Blackmoore and conquering the shadow he cast over Thrall's life for good.

Elsewhere, the blue dragons were beaten back by the powerful Chromatus. Kalec has Thrall rescued by one of his drakes, though the strain of leadership in the wake of their defeat begins to gnaw at the new Aspect of Magic. Thrall encourages Kalec to remain strong, and he leaves once more for Desolace. Thrall finds Alexstrasza in an even more shattered state. He shares with her the vision he was granted, and in solemn silence, the two witness Krasus' heroic sacrifice to protect the Wyrmrests' unhatched children from being born as chromatic beasts. Reinvigorated and regaining her confidence, the Life-Binder travels to the Nexus to join forces with the new Aspect of Magic.

Before long, the red, blue, and green dragonflights are reunited with their respective Aspects. With their might combined, they leave to do battle with the murderous Chromatus and his ilk. After a vicious battle, Chromatus reaches his full potential - and overpowers all three of the mighty Aspects. The downhill fight is turned by the arrival of Nozdormu and his bronze flight, and the Aspect of Time puts forward the notion that they will need to work together, in the most fundamental sense of the word, to defeat this creature that embodies all of their traits and powers. However, Chromatus has a head for each dragonflight, and there are no black dragons present to assist in this task - though Thrall, as a shaman, offers to take on that role. In their humanoid forms, the aspects open themselves along with Thrall to truly gain a sense of unity; and while he struggles to hold the ceremony together, Thrall succeeds in his role in Neltharion's stead. Knowing that he could never become as Aspect, he remains content with the notion that he could assist his allies in their hour of need. The four Aspects launch a volley of powerful abilities at the stunned Chromatus, who cannot bring himself to counter the volatile new powers at their disposal. The chromatic dragon is blasted downwards; the Twilight Father in tow. Chromatus' lifeless body is stored in a specifically-made arcane prison by the blue dragonflight, as it seems impossible to completely eradicate him.

Later, the Aspects and Thrall meet on the top of Wyrmrest Temple, where Nozdormu informs the group of a plot by the Old Gods to destroy the dragonflights. The Hour of Twilight was fast approaching and the Dragonflights, thanks to Thrall's help, will now be ready to face it. Thrall is given both the thanks and a scale each of the dragon aspects; in return for assistance asking only for a way to travel back to the Maelstrom.[1]

End of The Destroyer

After the defeat of Ragnaros, the aspects gathered to discuss how to end Deathwing once and for all, and it became clear that they needed a weapon like none that had ever come before it, they would need the Dragon Soul, but the golden disc was no more, and so everything lay on Nozdormu's shoulders, would he allow mortals to travel 10.000 years back in time, and retrieve the disc? Alexstrasza managed to convince the bronze aspect to do so.[2]

With the death of Murozond in End Time gateways to the past were open and Nozdormu was able again to transport adventurers to Azshara's Palace, where they witnessed one of the most catastrophic events in the War of the Ancients, dating back 10,000 years. While assisting the much younger Tyrande and Illidan in a battle against the Highborne and Burning Legion, adventurers stole the Dragon Soul hovering above the Well of Eternity. After recovering a version of the artifact from the Caverns of Time, Thrall and the allied dragonflights rallied at Wyrmrest Temple in a desperate bid to use its might to defeat Deathwing.

Siege of Wyrmrest Temple

Thrall and the Dragon Soul arrived nearby Wyrmrest Temple and adventurers began by attempting to relieve the beleaguered Aspects under siege by the Twilight's Hammer, the Twilight dragonflight and the Black dragonflight. Along with an army of mortal races and dragons led by Lord Devrestrasz adventurers battle their way through the army and stop an earth elemental at the base of Wyrmrest Temple.

Once inside Wyrmrest Tyrygosa explained that Deathwing has summoned extremely powerful Faceless ones to assault the Temple as well, and Maws of the Old Gods are erupting from the nearby earth. The Faceless ones were defeated, and the temple is all but reclaimed and the Aspects decide now its the time to strike. However upon meeting with them, Thrall explained that using the full power of the Dragon Soul would likely kill him in the process, but Kalecgos suggested that they can use the Focusing Iris from the Eye of Eternity to stabilize it. The Twilight's Hammer knew about the weakness and sent several of their most powerful shamans under the leadership of Mob Hagara the Stormbinder to ambush the heroes at the Eye. Hagara was defeated and the Focusing Iris is taken back to Wrymrest.

Fall of Deathwing

Main article: Dragon Soul

As the Aspects want to empower the Dragon Soul Deathwing realized what was happening and sent dozens of twilight drakes to stop them. Once the drakes were defeated the Aspects begin to empower the Dragon Soul with their own energies. With their focus on the Dragon Soul, Deathwing sent his ultimate minion Mob Ultraxion to finish them off - the ultimate Twilight dragon experiment who is meant to cause the Hour of Twilight by slaying the Dragon Aspects at this juncture. Ultraxion was defeated and the Dragon Soul was fully charged and Thrall unleashed it at Deathwing, blowing one of the elementium plates off his back. Realizing that the battle is lost, Deathwing destroyed a Horde Gunship and flew off to the Maelstrom so that he can escape into the relative safety of Deepholm. The Aspects, the heroes, and the surviving crew boarded The Skyfire and chase after Deathwing. On the way, Twilight's Hammer drake riders, led by the Twilight's Hammer Warmaster Blackhorn, harry them. When the Skyfire caught up the drakes attacked the Skyfire's engines and allowed Deathwing to escape. The heroes managed to kill all of the drakes and Warmaster Blackhorn, then repair the engines and resume their chase.

Upon catching up to Deathwing they parachuted onto his back and began to rip off the armor plates and prying a hole big enough to give Thrall a clean shot with the Dragon Soul, this time burning a hole through his chest. Deathwing plummeted into the Maelstrom and was presumed dead. The adventurers and the Aspects land at the Maelstrom. As they celebrated the defeat of Deathwing, Nozdormu warns them to be quick and Deathwing re-emerges. The final stage of the war began when Deathwing's deformed body rose out of the Maelstrom to face off against the adventurers in the final showdown with many phases. Adventurers jumped between the islands and detached Deathwing's mutated arms from each island. Once Deathwing was weakened the Aspects channeled all of their remaining powers into the Dragon Soul and fired it at Deathwing, completely "unmaking" him but also making them mortals. With the loss of Nozdormu's powers, the Dragon Soul was returned back in time to the point where it was taken.