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Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos
Developer(s) Blizzard Entertainment
  Team 1
Publisher(s) Blizzard Entertainment
Sierra Entertainment (EU)
Capcom (JP)
Director(s) Frank Pearce
Producer(s) Chris Sigaty
Designer(s) Rob Pardo
Writer(s) Chris Metzen
Composer(s) Tracy W. Bush
Derek Duke
Glenn Stafford
Platforms Microsoft Windows, macOS
  • NA: July 3, 2002
  • EU: July 5, 2002
  • JP: 2003
Latest release 1.31.1 (2019-06-19), last version before WC3Reforged-icon
Genre(s) Real-time strategy
Mode(s) Single player, multiplayer

Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos is a computer game released by Blizzard Entertainment in 3 July 2002.[1] It is a real-time strategy computer game,[1] the second sequel to Warcraft: Orcs & Humans and the third game set in the Warcraft universe. As such, it is usually referred to as Warcraft III, often abbreviated to WC3 or WCIII. Warcraft III is also considered to be one of Canada's national sports (along with hockey and lacrosse), due to the high level of top WCIII gamers that come from Canada and due to the occasional televised broadcast of the game, especially in British Columbia. The demo that was once available on Blizzard's website is no more; although the demo can still be downloaded from available third parties such as the Internet Archive.[2]

Details the second invasion of the Burning Legion and the origins of the Scourge, along with the fall of Lordaeron and the awakening of the night elves are the plot of the story.[3] In addition, the orcs leave the Eastern Kingdoms, and on their journey to Kalimdor, save the Darkspear trolls from destruction.[4] When they arrive, they also assist the tauren and officially form the Horde as a collective of these races.[3]

The game proved to be one of the most anticipated and popular computer game releases ever, with 4.5 million units shipped to retail stores and over one million units sold within a month.[5] Warcraft III won many awards including "Game of the Year" from more than six different publications.[6]

A demo version includes the tutorial and the prologue campaign.

At BlizzCon 2013, J. Allen Brack said they have several people working on a side project to update the old Warcraft games for modern computers.[7] At BlizzCon 2018, the Classic Games team announced Warcraft III: Reforged, a full remaster of Reign of Chaos and its expansion, which released in early 2020.



Cover art

One of the main innovations Warcraft III offers over the previous games in the series is the way the role of hero units has changed. Where before, heroes were merely very powerful variants of standard units, now they are unique, with their own special abilities that normal units do not have access to. For instance, heroes within the game can find or trade items to increase skills, defense, etc. With each kill of an enemy of a certain level the heroes gain experience points, eventually resulting in increased levels of their own, and new spell options (thus introducing role-playing game elements to the series).[8] Some heroes also can apply beneficial auras to allied units.

Another new innovation is the addition of creeps, which are computer controlled characters the player fights even in multiplayer. They guard key areas or neutral buildings and are designed to act as a resource for the players to kill to provide experience points to a player's hero and to provide hero items. The idea is to force the player to be aggressive instead of "turtling up" (building up powerful defenses and rarely attacking).[9]

Within the game there are four races at war: the Human Alliance and the Orcish Horde, who also appeared in Warcraft: Orcs & Humans, Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness, and Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal, along with two new character teams, the night elves and the undead.[10] As an April Fool's joke before the game was released, Blizzard announced that the pandaren would be the fourth race. The company didn't reveal the night elves until a month later, and pandas are a running gag in Warcraft now (to the point that a pandaren Hero — called the Brewmaster — was available in the expansion pack, Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne, and pandaren heads were featured on the glaives of Illidan and the rest of the Demon Hunter hero class).[11] A fifth playable race, the Burning Legion, was changed during play-testing to a set of non-player characters and monsters (with a playable "cameo" on the last level of the undead campaign, as Kel'Thuzad summons Archimonde).

Players meet other players over the Internet to set up multiplayer games via Blizzard's free service, or may play against the computer.[12]

Warcraft III also includes a very thorough scenario editor called World Editor. It uses a scripting language similar to the trigger system used in StarCraft. As well as providing the ability to edit any aspect of the units, buildings and spells, it has such advanced features as custom tilesets, custom cinematic scenes, dialog boxes, variables, and weather effects. Many custom maps, featuring a large variety of game types continue to be developed, and together with the expansion pack have contributed to the longevity of the game.[13]


WC3RoC-logo This section concerns content related to Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos or its expansion The Frozen Throne.

The story in Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos is told through all four races in a progressive manner, in a similar way to how StarCraft was told. The order is human, undead, orc, and night elf.

Exodus of the Horde

Exodus of the Horde screen

Prologue: Exodus of the Horde[]

Main article: Exodus of the Horde

In this optional campaign, the young Thrall awakes from a strange vision, directing him to the prophet Medivh. Medivh tells him to rally the orcs from Lordaeron and travel to Kalimdor, where they shall meet their destiny. He frees the orcs from the remaining internment camps, including Grom Hellscream. The Horde steals the human fleet from Southshore and sails off. Near the Maelstrom, they are forced to land on a small island to repair their ships. There they are joined by the Darkspear Trolls, led by Sen'jin, but are soon ambushed and captured by a group of murlocs worshiping a Naga Sea Witch. Thrall and his people need to escape from their underworld prison together with the trolls and flee from the island before it is destroyed by an erupting volcano.

Warcraft III Human Campaign

Human Campaign screen

Human Campaign: The Scourge of Lordaeron[]

Main article: The Scourge of Lordaeron

Prince Arthas, a paladin of the Silver Hand, The Captain and Jaina Proudmoore, Arthas' former lover and apprentice-Archmage, are investigating a strange plague that is spreading across the lands of Lordaeron. To their horror, they find that the plague turns unsuspecting people into hideous Undead warriors, and must move to stop the undead's plans. After a string of hollow victories (many towns in the now Plaguelands being destroyed), Arthas decides that the best way to end the game was to destroy Mal'Ganis, the proclaimed leader of the Scourge. Mal'Ganis travels northward to the icy lands of Northrend, and Arthas follows him. There he aids an old friend, Muradin Bronzebeard, who tells him of a powerful weapon, a sword called Frostmourne. Arthas obtains Frostmourne, at the (presumed) cost of Muradin's life, and uses it to defeat Mal'Ganis. However, as a result, Frostmourne steals Arthas' soul and turns to ally with the undead.

Warcraft III Undead Campaign

Undead Campaign screen

Undead Campaign: Path of the Damned[]

Main article: Path of the Damned

With their new leader, the undead must move to complete their purpose in Lordaeron, which is to destroy the remnants of the Alliance and pave the way for a new invasion. In a series of quests, Arthas succeeds in reviving a former adversary, Kel'Thuzad, as a Lich, and the two successfully open an inter-dimensional portal for the true masters of the Scourge, the Burning Legion, to enter the realm of Azeroth (see the article on Arthas for a more detailed description).

Warcraft III Orc Campaign

Orcish Campaign screen

Orcish Campaign: The Invasion of Kalimdor[]

Main article: The Invasion of Kalimdor

After escaping Human captivity and fleeing to the shores of Kalimdor, orcish warchief Thrall must lead his brethren to safety and ensure their survival in this strange and hostile land. Help comes from the Tauren, a nomadic group of Kalimdor natives, and their leader, Cairne Bloodhoof. Unfortunately, fellow orc Grom Hellscream falls under demonic corruption, and Thrall is forced to ally himself with Jaina Proudmoore, now leader of the survivors of Lordaeron. He also discovers (courtesy of an oracle) that his fate is to help repel the Burning Legion, and he and Jaina accomplish this goal and also save Hellscream. Afterwards, Grom insists upon battling Mannoroth, the demon who cast him into the corruption. Thrall and Grom succeed in vanquishing Mannoroth, but Grom is slain in the process.

Warcraft III Night Elf Campaign

Night Elf Campaign screen

Night Elf Campaign: Eternity's End[]

Main article: Eternity's End (WC3 campaign)

With the coming of the undead and Burning Legion as well as the humans and orcs, Tyrande Whisperwind and her night elf Sentinels fight a desperate battle to save their beloved home of Kalimdor. She first reawakens her lover, Malfurion Stormrage, and then the Druids of the Talon and finally the Druids of the Claw. She also decides to free the great betrayer, Illidan Stormrage, and he is eventually instrumental in weakening the Legion. Finally, she and Malfurion join forces with Proudmoore and Thrall to delay the Legion's advance until a proper end can be arranged for their leader Archimonde (mirroring the final mission of Starcraft, in which the player commands a multi-racial force against a common foe).

Gameplay details[]

Unlike other RTS games, Warcraft III has introduced a new element of gameplay: special units called heroes; they are super units that have special abilities that expand as the game progresses (as they gain experience).[8] For example, an Archmage hero can acquire the ability to (temporarily) summon water-elementals, increase the mana regeneration rate of surrounding magic casting units, create a blizzard over enemy units, and teleport friendly units to other parts of the map. In the course of a game, a maximum of up to three heroes can be built, but if they die, they can be revived at an altar.

The upkeep is a gameplay concept that keeps armies small as it penalizes anyone who gets big too fast. With the Heroes occupying five food cap and the upkeep that force you to have low food cap it is difficult to win through sheer numbers, and micromanagement becomes more important, as a result the gameplay is more tactical than strategical.

There are strong distinctions in the game between melee and ranged units; between air and ground units; and (particularly in Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne) between mundane, magical, and antimagic units. Antimagic units, such as the Spell Breaker (only in the expansion pack) and the night elves' Dryad, have the ability to cancel the effects of magic spells cast on other units.

Other versions[]

In addition to the regular game, there also exists a limited Collector's Edition and an Exclusive Gift Set. Another release was the Warcraft III: Battle Chest. Finally, Warcraft III is also available in the "BestSeller Series".[14]

Other adaptations[]

The strategy board game Warcraft: The Board Game was released in 2003 by Fantasy Flight Games, and is based on Warcraft III. It uses a modular game board, which allows many different scenarios to be played with the same set of components.


Expansion set[]

Main article: Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne

On 29 May 2003, Blizzard announced that the expansion set, Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne had "gone gold" (release version sent to presses). It was released in stores worldwide in multiple languages beginning on 1 July 2003. It includes an additional hero for each race and three to four new units per race, four campaigns, eight neutral heroes, the ability to build a shop and various other improvements such as the ability to queue upgrades. It requires the ownership of Reign of Chaos. Blizzard regularly patches both the original game and the more popular "expanded" version to fix bugs, add new features, and balance multiplayer play. The latter is the reason Blizzard games remain popular long after their initial release.


A massively multiplayer online role-playing game set in the Warcraft universe, entitled World of Warcraft, is the fourth Warcraft game in a series produced by Blizzard. It picks up the Warcraft storyline four years after the events of Reign of Chaos.


Main article: Quotes of Warcraft III

One of the features of Warcraft III, like Warcraft II, are the unit quotes. If a single unit was clicked several times in a row, the unit's voice samples would change. The unit would start getting angry at the player, or start saying silly things in reference to movies, games, or other things. For example, a peasant might say, "Help! Help! I'm being repressed!" - a quote from the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail - or a Crypt Fiend might say "Spider sense...tingling" - an oft-quoted line of Spider-Man.

System Requirements[]

Minimum System Requirements[15]
  PC Mac®
Computer 400 MHz processor or better. 400 MHz G3 processor or better.
Operating Systems Windows® XP or Windows Vista® Mac® OS X 10.3.9 or higher
Memory 128 MB of RAM 128 MB of RAM
Controls A keyboard and mouse are required. Joysticks, game pads, graphics tablets, and input devices other than a mouse and keyboard are not supported. A keyboard and mouse are required. Joysticks, game pads, graphics tablets, and input devices other than a mouse and keyboard are not supported.
Drives A hard drive with at least 600 MB of free space, and a 4x speed CD-ROM drive are required for installation and play. A hard drive with at least 600 MB of free space, and a 4x speed CD-ROM drive are required for installation and play.
Video A 3D accelerator video card with current drivers and support for DirectX 8.1. A video card consisting of an ATI Technologies or nVidia chipset with at least 16 MB of memory is required.
Sound A DirectX compatible 16-bit sound card is required. Warcraft III will work with the built-in sound features of the Mac® OS.
Multiplayer Connectivity Access to Blizzard Entertainment's online gaming service,, requires a low-latency, active internet connection rated at 28.8 Kbps or faster. Multi-player games played over a LAN require an active connection to a TCP/IP network. Access to Blizzard Entertainment's online gaming service,, requires a low-latency, active internet connection rated at 28.8 Kbps or faster. Multi-player games played over a LAN require an active connection to a TCP/IP network.
Recommended System Requirements
  PC Mac®
Computer 600 MHz processor or better. 600 MHz G3 processor or better.
Memory 256 MB of RAM 256 MB of RAM
Video DirectX 8.1 3D with 32MB graphics 3D capable ATI or nVidia with 32MB graphics


Main article: Warcraft III evolution guide

Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos started as a "role-playing strategy": A strategy game set heavily within a role-playing environment. Having smaller, potent parties of heroes and troops in a dynamic world of living towns, wandering monsters, characters and quests, while simultaneously devising strategies to defeat their enemies.[16] However, during the development, many of the RPS ideas were scrapped and became an RTS with some RPG elements.

Custom maps[]

There are many player-made multiplayer maps (made with World Editor, which can be used to make your own levels, even fan-made campaigns, that comes with the game) available for download and play on as well as many fansites.

Popular maps include:

  • Defense of the Ancients and spin-offs (primarily DotA Allstars)
    The DOTA map genre consists of PvP gameplay where two teams of heroes support their respective AI-controlled armies in large-scale battles. It is based on the wildly popular "Aeon of Strife" Starcraft map, although the original consisted of players cooperating against a single AI-controlled army. Of the maps spawned under the AoS genre, "Defense of the Ancients" is one of the most popular in Warcraft III. Because the original AOS was a StarCraft map, and because of DOTA's own popularity, it has become the de-facto standard for this genre of custom map.
    • Defense of the Ancients AllStars DotA Website
      A map originally created by Guinsoo, now maintained by IceFrog. Based on the original DotA by Eul.
    • Tides of Blood
      Renowned for its unique "Blood Mage" hero that utilized triggering and special effects to create some impressive visuals for spells.
  • Farmer vs. Hunter or "Tag"
    A farmer makes farms at the start and eventually powerful towers, while the hunter must find farmers and kill them before their bases become too big. Tag games often pit the players against an AI-controlled hunter. There are innumerable variations on this theme, inspired by the old "Cat and Mouse" StarCraft maps.
    • Sheep Tag
      There are many different variations on the basic Sheep Tag formula, such as Panda Tag, Tauren Tag, Tree Tag, and Jailbreak (not to be confused with Prison Escape).
  • Footman Wars
    The "Footman Wars" genre of games is based on the old "massing" games of StarCraft, where players are given absurdly large quantities of units at given intervals and can send them out to engage in massive conflicts. The map designs are usually fairly simple.
  • Lord Of The Rings-based games, such as those based on famous battles of the fictional War of the Ring and Helms Deep.
  • Minigames
    In the "minigame" map genre, mapmakers use clever triggering to create a variety of minigames for players to enjoy (a la Mario Party).
    • Pyramid Escape, where players must work together to overcome a series of challenges, including a "Pac Man" game, a quiz show based on "The Weakest Link," and even a miniature AOS/DOTA.
  • NOTD Aftermath, SWAT: Aftermath, Night of the Dead II, Dawn of the Dead, SWAT vs. Resident Evil
  • Real Life/LOAP
    A map genre akin to The Sims, where players take control of a character responsible for working a job, attending school, and other "real life" activities. The original Real Life maps spawned dozens of spin-offs that added and built upon the original concept.
    • Life of a Peasant and spin-offs (over 300 versions exist)
      One of the most popular RL maps is LOAP, which came to replace the original "Real Life" as the benchmark of the genre.
  • Rival Nationswebsite
  • Snipers, which has developed a clan following
  • Tower Defense, or TD
    This genre includes maps such as Line Tower Wars, XTD, Cube Defense, Green TD, Blue TD, and Massacre TD. The basic concept consists of players constructing towers to defend against waves of enemies. Blizzard made two of their own TD maps, one of which was a bonus level in the human Frozen Throne campaign and the other was Azure Tower Defense.
    • Skibi's Castle Defense, a very popular Tower Defense map
      The creator missing_tooltip was actually hired by Blizzard Entertainment. Skibi 6.0 was then released as a Blizzard Official Map.
    • Wintermaul and spinoffs.
      The "Maul" genre of maps is actually a subset of the TD design, Wintermaul being recognized as the progenitor.
  • Troll Tribes, three varieties (Ice, Jungle, Island) based on item gathering and survival.


  • The title was in the beginning stylized in camel-case as WarCraft III like StarCraft, but did not particularly push that like the StarCraft franchise did.[17]
  • Warcraft III appears in the book, "1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die".
  • Since the announcement of Warcraft III: Reforged, Reign of Chaos and its expansion are collectively referred to as Warcraft III: Classic.[18][19]
  • In 1998 Ukrainian video game developer studio GSC Game World pitched in their own unlicensed WarCraft 2000: Nuclear Epidemic game to Blizzard in the hope of developing Warcraft III themselves.
  • Units in Warcraft III have a time-to-kill factor that's 3.5-4 times lower than StarCraft II. As in, a unit in Warcraft III will take 3.5-4x longer to kill than its StarCraft II counterpart.[20]
  • According to ex-Blizzard developer Kevin Dong, data collected by Blizzard indicates that players of Blizzard RTS games tend to focus either on PvE or PvP, with little overlap between the two audiences.[20] In the context where this data was given, this presumably includes Warcraft III.


Alpha screenshots
Release screenshots



  1. ^ a b IGN. Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos (English). Retrieved on 2009-06-30.
  2. ^ Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos Demo. Internet Archive (2002-07-02). Retrieved on 2018-03-05.
  3. ^ a b Blizzard Entertainment. Chapter V: Return of the Burning Legion (English). Retrieved on 2009-06-30.
  4. ^ Exodus of the Horde
  5. ^ Cieniawa, Lee 2009-06-30. Armchair Empire - Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos. The Armchair Empire. Retrieved on 2009-06-30.
  6. ^ Blizzard Entertainment - Awards. Retrieved on 2009-06-30.
  7. ^ BlizzCon 2013 World of Warcraft Q&A Panel
  8. ^ a b Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos Instruction Manual: Heroes - Experience and Level, p.26
  9. ^ Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos Instruction Manual: Wandering Monsters and Wildlife, p.28
  10. ^ Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos Instruction Manual: The Single Player Game, pg. 10
  11. ^ BlizzCast Episode 1. BlizzCast. Retrieved on 2009-06-30.
  12. ^ Blizzard Entertainment. Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos - New Features (English). Retrieved on 2009-06-30.
  13. ^ Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos Instruction Manual: World Editor, pg.16.
  14. ^ Warcraft III Reign of Chaos BestSeller Series (English). Retrieved on 2009-06-30.
  15. ^ Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos Game Manual, page 4 & 5.
  16. ^ Blizzard Entertainment. Warcraft III official site (English). Archived from the original on 2000-08-31. Retrieved on 2000-12-23.
  17. ^
  18. ^ Can't Purchase Warcraft III: Classic. Blizzard Entertainment.
  19. ^ No Warcraft III: Classic Access from Warcraft III: Reforged Prepurchase. Blizzard Entertainment.
  20. ^ a b 2023-06-12, The Perfect Mix of Warcraft & Starcraft? Stormgate Developers Deep Dive. YouTube, retrieved on 2023-06-14

External links[]