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Warcraft III - Alpha screen 2

Alpha-stage screenshot.

This evolution guide serves as an archive of anecdotes, trivia, and other interesting facts about the several game design shifts that Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos had during its development stage.

Warcraft III was a huge step up for Blizzard Entertainment: it was their first 3D game, the first time they were developing a game concurrently alongside other medias like novels and TTRPG's, their previous Warcraft game had just been canceled, and they had very huge ambitions about shaking up the world of strategy games. Blizzard's experiments with Warcraft III even led to the beginning of the work on World of Warcraft.

Warcraft III was the first time that Blizzard made an effort to preserve a game's assets and source code while developing it.[1] Its development team consisted of less than thirty people. Traditional development roles weren't assigned, as various staff members worked on various tasks.[2]

Role-Playing Strategy to Real-Time Strategy[]

Warcraft III has roots in two cancelled Warcraft games—Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans, and Warcraft Legends. In the case of the former, this took the form of bringing Thrall over. In the case of the latter, it was the origin of the hero and RPG elements that would be retained in the final version of Warcraft III.[2][3]

Originally, Warcraft III started out as a game called Heroes of Warcraft. It was a squad-based tactical combat game, thus departing from the type of traditional RTS games that Blizzard had already released earlier for both the Warcraft and StarCraft universes. Eventually, the game morphed into a more traditional RTS, but retained the element of heroes, after a change of team leads halfway through development.[4] The developers who left had the concept of a client-server, online and very instanced game, with an over-the-shoulder camera and full 3D. When Mike Morhaime pulled the trigger on that concept and wanted the game to come back to its RTS roots, those developers moved away to create the Guild Wars franchise instead.[3]

The game originally started as a "Role-Playing Strategy" experience: a strategy game set heavily within a role-playing environment. It had smaller, potent parties of heroes and troops in a dynamic world of living towns, wandering monsters, characters and quests, with players simultaneously having to devise strategies to defeat their enemies.[5][6] It had six planned races and a slated release date of "late 2000".[3]

In this original design, there was no Fog of War but you couldn't freely move the camera, it could only jump between your heroes. Rob Pardo had described it as similar to the Sacrifice game, except with multiple heroes. Military units were supposed to be much more micromanaged: you were supposed to use your troll headhunters' tracking ability to find enemies, then root them with your raiders' nets, then use the tauren to initiate combat with a bullrush that stunned, and then finally send your orc grunts with their berserker ability that did high DPS. Each unit had a special ability and the number of units you could control varied depending on the "Leadership" stat of your hero,[7] for example if your hero had a Leadership of 8 you could control 8 units. As such, units were referred to as your hero's party.[8]

The game originally utilized a realistic art style, which made everything in the game much smaller. The results were received negatively among the development team, so the colors were made simpler, the shading was decreased, flat colors were added, and characters were scaled up and made bigger and bulkier. This made the units easier to read from the top-down camera, and also made everything feel bigger and more heroic.[9] According to art director Samwise Didier, "We didn't want to be Lord of the Rings or standard D&D fantasy. We wanted our characters to be the superhero versions of fantasy characters, rock stars with battle axes, with each one of our heroes and units looking like they could take on a whole army by themselves."[3]

The game was not designed with e-sports in mind.[10]

There was much discussion as to whether the game needed navies, oil, and water combat; whether the game would build on Warcraft II in regards to the naval aspect.[2] The team eventually chose not to include naval units in Reign of Chaos because they couldn't come up with a way to make them feel as unique or interesting as the rest of the game, and they didn't want to include ships just for the sake of including ships.[11] Naval units were later implemented with the release of The Frozen Throne expansion.

The team decided to go all-in on the hero concept, with the concept of a mini-RPG merging with a traditional economy-driven RTS. Unlike StarCraft and the previous Warcraft games, Warcraft III was designed to be "stack centric" around hero play. In this sense, the gameplay would reward smaller, more intimate groups of units and their interactions, with less focus on base and mass unit management. The game's upkeep system is reflective of this, where players suffer from resource penalties if their army reaches a certain size. There was much debate about the upkeep system, and Chris Sigaty noted that "the community never really loved it." Sigaty defended the upkeep system, however, stating that "it felt like it was a really good dilemma to put you in as a player."[2]

Weather effects were supposed to happen and have an impact on battles.[12] It's unclear where the idea for the game's day/night cycle originated. According to designer Matthew Morris, there was another RTS game with a day/night cycle which members of the design group would play, but it was mostly a narrative device championed by the art team. Creating a significant visual difference between day and night while also ensuring that the playfield remained visible and readable proved challenging and took some iteration, with the artists eventually settling on a bluish light to represent nighttime. The designers didn't initially have a clear idea of how they wanted to utilize day/night differences in gameplay terms. They experimented with pushing a unit's sight range to cover almost the entire map during the day, but this led playtesters to only attack at night. Late in development, as the team was implementing the final race—the night elves—their "design groove" had gotten so strong that they were able to experiment with more unconventional ideas, which is the reason why night elf units are the only ones who benefit from day/night.[3]

About the resources:

  • Gold was originally the only resource. At first, you were meant to gain gold by killing creeps, and gold mines were only discovered during late game where they would then continuously deliver a stream of money.[8] The Undead didn't use gold but corpses as a resource, having to sometimes sacrifice less valuable troops in order to use the corpses for more powerful ones.[13]
  • Mana Stones were added as the second resource. They could be collected from creeps on the map or bought from a neutral marketplace. Mana Stones were used to purchase new hero units and research higher-level upgrades. They were eventually replaced by the Hero Items.
  • Lumber was made a resource at a pretty late stage. Before that though, peasants could still clear out trees and rock formations in order to let troops pass or set up traps.[12][14] In old screenshots trees also looked very different than what was eventually released, being close trunks clumped together similarly to the Warcraft II trees instead of being individual, separated entities. At one point during development, another RTS game released with tree canopies that units could hide under. Warcraft III's developers decided that they also had to have canopies and spent around two months implementing it into the game, until they realized that it didn't add any fun to the gameplay and removed it.[3]
  • Experience points for heroes was gained by both killing enemies and accomplishing quests, even in multiplayer.[8] Quests in the multiplayer mode were relatively simple objectives such as kill a specific hero, destroy a specific building, or search a specified area. Upon completion of these quests, players would be rewarded with magical items, gold, or other such things. Creeps had the role of slowing the game down, since the players were forced to deal with them by either killing them or hiring them, requiring to farm more gold on the side.[7]

However, during the development, many of the "Role-Playing Strategy" ideas were scrapped and the game became simply a normal Real-Time Strategy game with some RPG elements. Since World of Warcraft began its life as a fork of the Warcraft III engine, the development of the MMORPG presumably began when the developers at Blizzard realized they couldn't keep all of their original RPG features in the game.[citation needed] 

Art style[]

While the jump from Warcraft I to II had involved a shift in art style, Warcraft III had even greater focus, given the issue of continuity. This was especially pertinent to the game given its introduction of numerous races. The orcs were a particular point of contention between Chris Metzen and Samwise Didier. Metzen's orcs were more human-proportioned, while Didier's were hunched over and heavy with bone protrusions on their knuckles. In the end, both styles were used, with Metzen's style being used for "leader," "lore-wise" characters (e.g. Thrall), while Didier's style was used for more bestial-type characters (e.g. Grommash Hellscream). In regards to the compromise, Didier later commented that "using both [styles] was one of the best things we ever did."[15]


There were anywhere between 6 to 13 playable factions planned for Warcraft III—different Blizzard employees have given different figures when asked.[2][16] These factions include:

  • The Human Alliance and Orcish Horde were the first announced factions due to their appearances in the older games of the series. The Alliance was already made up of humans, dwarves and elves.[17]
  • The Undead Scourge was announced later. Coming from the north, since the very beginning they were already associated to the themes of spiders and ice. On the original screenshots, the Scourge faction color was also a brighter purple than now.
  • The Burning Legion was announced as a playable faction[17] before the Night Elves were even announced, but the demons were eventually changed during play-testing to a set of non-player characters and monsters for the single-player campaign.[18] This is because Blizzard felt that having to mine gold and construct farms was making a disservice to the threat they represented.[19]
  • As an April Fools joke long before the game was released, Blizzard announced that the Pandaren Empire would be the fourth race.
  • The developers argued over whether or not Dwarves and Elves should be their own factions. They could never get the majority of the team to agree to make elves a standalone race until one developer suggested "dark elves". The team was enticed by the idea, but since they didn't want to do a traditional Drow race, they instead took the best of wood elves and dark elves and combined them into a single race: the Night Elves.[20] The Night Elf Sentinels were only announced a month after the Pandaren joke. They were originally going to be associated with insects.[16]
  • The Goblins were considered as a potential sixth race. Early plans for a fleshed-out faction of goblins played up their kamikaze mentality with designs such as a catapult that flung units across the map.[18] Since the goblins were cut as a global faction, they were made as neutral mercenary units instead.
  • Some early designs involved having a Dragon race that featured only a single unit.[9][16] The dragon would grow larger over time, from a baby to a giant adult. The design was scrapped as it couldn't fit into the lumber/gold paradigm of the other factions.[2][16]
  • Other scrapped standalone races include Tauren,[2][16] Gnomes,[2] Trolls, Ogres, and Centaur,[16] several of which were later incorporated into the orc and human factions.[2]



Heroes were also called "legends" during development.[12] There were originally six[21] planned heroes per faction, with the number later being reduced to five, four and finally three heroes per faction. Some factions also had a flying hero unit planned, but Blizzard removed them all because of imbalance issues.

Human Alliance:

  • Arch Mage: He was to originally have a "time stop" spell.[22] Instead of "Manath Magesinger", one of the random names was "Marn Magesinger". Pictures show him riding a unicorn and wielding a sword for melee attacks, presumably when he ran out of mana.
  • Crusader: Cut; model and texture used for the Knight instead. The Crusader wielded a large glowing sword and was to have several Seal abilities, single-target buffs he could cast on himself and other units.[23]
  • Mountain King: His original ultimate ability wasn't Avatar, but "Summon Gold Mine". He would rip a gold mine out of the ground![24] He also had bonuses against "Giant" units.[22]
  • Paladin: No known major differences with the current unit. He originally had reddish-brown hair that more closely resembled the paladin concept art.[25]
  • Ranger: They were supposed to be half-elves. The cut model was reused for the Dark Ranger instead. Some of the names were even reused, like "Somand Wayfinder". One interesting fact is that her Ultimate ability was called "Black Arrow" and stunned the targeted unit, eventually killing it.[22] Dark Rangers were also given a "Black Arrow" ability that worked differently, however in the storyline of The Frozen Throne, Sylvanas Windrunner once fires an arrow at Arthas that both stuns him and heavily damages him, a reference to the original Ranger Ultimate.

Orcish Horde:

Undead Scourge:

  • Abomination: It was originally a hero unit of the "Giant" unit type, and was later changed to be a base unit. Since the Slaughterhouses didn't exist yet, Blizzard thought about the possibility of creating new Abominations by merging several Ghouls together.[24]
  • Death Knight: They were originally supposed to be the same Shadow Council members of the Second War, with a different appearance which was eventually given to the Revenant creeps when the hero concept was revamped.[23] Before the revamp, the modern-style death knights were a separate unit called the "Anti-Paladin". Even after being changed to this style of death knights, they were originally riding spectral mounts called nightmares that looked like clouds of mist instead of skeletal horses.[13]
  • Dread Lord: They originally had a different look, which was presumably changed to give them a more distinct silhouette compared to the Liches. One of the available random names was "Benthidas". His Ultimate ability was "Dark Summoning", which let him summon his allies from afar.[27]
  • Lich: It originally had a slightly different appearance and could summon a Frost Wyrm as its Ultimate before finally gaining Death and Decay (Liches were originally not described as former death knights).

Night Elf Sentinels:

  • Arch Druid: Originally planned to exist alongside the Keeper of the Grove as another druidic hero,[20] but later cut. His Ultimate spell was called "Force of Nature" and transformed him into a gigantic beast that was a hybrid of several woodland creatures.[14][28] The only known random name was "Thurin Stormbreaker", which might have become "Furion Stormrage". The 3D model of Malfurion in the base game was even an edited Arch Druid model.
    • An unused icon in the game files labeled "ForceOfNature" resembles an owlbear and was reused in World of Warcraft for the Spell nature forceofnature [Moonkin Form] ability, suggesting that the owlbear model was originally the model used for Force of Nature but was reutilized after the Arch Druid was cut. This would also explain the owlbears' hybrid appearance.
  • Assassin: Was demoted to being a base unit since the developers wanted more female base units beside the Archer and Sentinel. Assassins were likely going to be ranged attackers who used blowguns and various poisons in combat.[20] The Assassin was finally cut entirely[29] and was reintroduced with several modifications in The Frozen Throne as the Warden instead.
  • Demon Hunter: No known major differences with the current unit. His warglaives originally featured a spinning wheel-like symbol.[28] When the design was shrunk down for the in-game model, the symbol ended up resembling a swastika, so the design was replaced with a panda face (an easter egg by Samwise Didier)[30] prior to release.[31]
  • Priestess of the Moon: Early on she was known as the "Moon Priestess" and rode a giant flying owl. She was described as "the big boss of the Sentinels" and the guardian of a sacred mountain where the Sentinels came from. She was to have a spell called "Twilight" that could transform the day into night.[20][28]

Burning Legion:

  • Pit Lord: While not confirmed, the appearances of Mannoroth and Azgalor in the single-player campaign makes it an easy speculation.
  • Warlock: The only known appearance of such a hero unit is Archimonde in the campaign.

Base troops[]

Warcraft 3 concept art Cold Wraith

Cold Wraith Scourge unit.

Originally, each basic unit was planned to have something special they could do along with accompanying graphical effects,[12] but in the final game there are some units (such as the Knight) who don't have any abilities aside from passive upgrades from buildings.

Human Alliance:

Orcish Horde:

  • Catapult: They were initially pushed around by little peons.
  • Grunt: They originally had a Berserker ability that enlarged them up to about four times their normal size and upgraded their damages but made them more vulnerable.[34]
  • Headhunter: Concept arts indicate that they may have originally been intended to be orcish spearmen, like during the First War. Of Blood and Honor shows the Horde using agile orcish spearmen in their assault against Stratholme to free Eitrigg. On the other hand, very early screenshots had the headhunters as trolls with the same skin tone as forest trolls instead of the one of jungle trolls. Even today their entry has the following text: "The disenfranchised Trolls of northern Lordaeron have once again pledged their savage services to the Orcish Horde." This indicates that the jungle trolls as a race were truly a late addition and that the Headhunters were originally supposed to be forest trolls.
  • Shaman: It originally had a different appearance, but when the Spirit Walker unit was cut its appearance was given to the shaman, and the old shaman look was given to the campaign orc warlock unit instead.
  • Spirit Walker: Cut; model and texture used for the Shaman instead. Eventually reintroduced in The Frozen Throne as a tauren instead.
  • Tauren: They were originally known as "minotaurs" and were equipped with "ball and chain" weapons before being changed to the current tauren warriors. When they dropped the "minotaur" name, they were first known as "Tauren Bull" units.
  • Witch Doctor: It was they who originally had the Bloodlust spell.[34]

Undead Scourge:

  • Acolyte: They were originally known as "Dredges".[35][36]
  • Banshee: They were originally meant to appear after the Necromancer summoned a "Tree of Woe",[36] a rotting tree with hanging corpses which got cut early on.[37]
  • Carrion Bird: Their exact role is unclear, but they can be seen in old concept arts and screenshots.
  • Cold Wraith: They were frost ghosts armed with reaper scythes that could also apparently fly.[36]
  • Crypt Fiend: They were originally a cut hero unit and were identified as females. As heroes, they had many abilities about summoning spiders and insects.[36]
  • Dirt Eater: Only appearing in a single piece of concept art, this unit may have never left that stage.
  • Frost Wyrm: The unit went through several designs. It was at first a giant zombie dragon, then an elite terrestrial unit due to its decayed wings, then summoned as the Ultimate ability of Liches,[14][13] then back to being an elite flying unit.
  • Gargoyle: They originally looked more humanoid.
  • Ghoul: They were planned to have several different models with minor differences in order to improve variety.[36]
  • Necromancer: He was originally the main builder unit of your base and summoned all your buildings instead of having Acolytes do it.[33][36][37] When he became a more traditional unit, one of his spells was Ability creature disease 02 [Corpse Explosion].[38]
  • Several unit sketches were drawn by Travis Thammer, often with an Egyptian theme.

Night Elf Sentinels:

  • Huntresses: They originally moved around on feet and were called "Sentinels".[29] An owl was visible on their shoulders. They were eventually given mounts to make them more visually distinct from the other night elf women.
  • Dryads: They were originally to be called "Huntresses".[39] Concept art also has them as humanoid nymphs.
  • Druid of the Talon: They had a different model. After the Arch Druid hero unit was cut, the Druid of the Talon was given the Arch Druid's model instead.
  • Treant: Originally called the "Ent", it was supposed to be the peasant unit of the race, being able to transform into Ancients (then called "Treants").[20] The corrupted treant creeps are still referred to as "Corrupted Ents" on

Burning Legion:

  • Behemoth[40]
  • Doom Guard: Presumably a playable unit of the faction. Early on, they were known as "Balrogs".
  • Felhound: Presumably a playable unit of the faction.
  • Infernal: Presumably a playable unit of the faction.
  • Succubus[41]



Human Alliance:

  • Arcane Sanctum: It was originally two different buildings: a "Tower of the Sky" (which was eventually renamed to "Mage Tower") which produced the Priests and Sorceresses, and the Arcane Sanctum, which was necessary to produce Sorceresses and could also upgrade them.[24] Additionally, the Arcane Sanctum originally looked like the Way Gates / high elven barracks of the single-player campaign.

Orcish Horde:

  • Burrow: They were originally mere pig farms, but since the orcs were lacking in defense Blizzard tried this new concept instead.
  • Spirit Lodge: It originally had a different appearance, and the old look was reused for the later Voodoo Lounge instead.
  • War Mill: It was originally two different buildings, a Blacksmith and a Lumber Mill. When the decision to merge them was taken, their 3D models were merged as well, with the Blacksmith taking priority for the global building design.

Undead Scourge:

  • Buildings generally had a different, more nerubian-like architecture. Some of them were not even buildings at all, more like wide spells cast by the Necromancer that produced various effects, like the "Haunting" spell that created a lasting storm over the base which made it possible to create Cold Wraiths.[37]
  • Blight: It was originally created by sacrificing Acolytes.[43]
  • Gargoyle Spire: The gargoyles were originally created there.
  • Ziggurat: It was originally simply known as the "Tomb" and had a big spider statue on top of the structure.

Night Elf Sentinels:

  • The various Ancients were originally called Ents (worker units), then Ancients (buildings), then Treants (uprooted buildings).[20] They are still called treants in the game when you try to build in an invalid position: you are told that the "treant cannot root there."
  • Ancient Protector: Initially called the "Sentry", it could originally root itself into the ground and attack with these roots, similar to the Zerg Sunken Colony in StarCraft.[20][29]
  • The night elves were originally going to have technology-enabling buildings called "dens"—stone structures constructed by Ents.[20] This may have inspired the barrow dens.


  • Altar of Chaos: According to concept arts, there was to be a building called this way. Its 3D model became the Skull of Gul'dan of the single-player campaign. It may have been intended to be the Altar of the Burning Legion faction.
  • Goblin Merchant: It originally had a goblin hanging out in front of it.[42]
  • Marketplace: Cut; reintroduced in The Frozen Throne instead.
  • Observatory: In the alpha, there were supposed to be neutral, abandoned Observatories spread over the maps. These Observatories were identical-looking to the goblin alchemist buildings from Warcraft II and could reveal portions of the map once captured.
  • Thieves Guild: The only known information is that there is an unused icon for it.


Several planned items were cut before release.[44]

  • Crown of Command: Allows mind control or taking over of enemy non-hero units.
  • Ring of Intelligence: Boosts Intelligence by 2. Intelligence increases a Heroes mana pool and mana regeneration rate.



Garona Halforcen

From early on in development, the designers wanted to do something different with how they told stories in a strategy game. In Blizzard's previous titles, the story was almost entirely delivered through cinematics and briefings in between missions, but the inclusion of heroes in Warcraft III allowed them to incorporate dialogue, story moments, and RPG-style quests into the missions themselves. Chris Metzen worked hand-in-hand with the developers to create a campaign story over a period of roughly nine months, during which the design group locked themselves in a room outlining the story beats for each mission and how the story would interact with the map layouts and game mechanics. Every time they hit a creative wall, they forced themselves not to leave the room until it was resolved.[3] The level designers would be given a dialogue script written by Metzen and sit around a table and read it together. When someone felt that a particular mission appealed to them, they would take responsibility for that mission and subsequently have almost complete free rein over the level design as long as it fit the script.[45]

Some of the dialogue in the game was originally meant to act as a placeholder, but ended up being voice acted regardless.[46]

Alpha storyline[]

Many years after the Dark Portal that bound the Orcish homeland of Draenor and the Human world of Azeroth was destroyed, a young Orc named Thrall was captured and raised as a slave by humans who followed the ways of treachery rather than those of honor.
Using the skills driven into him by his captors with his own natural strength and courage, Thrall escaped his wicked masters and, once free, set out to find his stolen heritage. Finding his kind forced to live passively in controlled settlements, the young warrior sought out the few, scattered Orc clans that managed to evade the wrath of the Alliance. From their camps in the harsh wilderness, Thrall swore to lead his brothers back to the status their heritage demanded. Under Thrall's leadership as the new Warchief of the Horde, the Orcs rediscover their abandoned Shamanistic culture and use this newfound power to revolt against their cruel wardens.
As civil strife rages through the nations of the Alliance, the lands of Azeroth undergo strange changes, and the threat of a new, unseen foe draws near. Finally, in an unholy firestorm from the heavens, the Burning Legion arrives. Cursed to roam the greater realms forever to consume the primal energies of magic to survive, the Legion has ravished world after world in its mad lust for arcane power. Cunning, sinister and seemingly unstoppable, these dark slayers come to not only drain this domain of its magic but to eradicate all life within it, as well.
Now, in the face of an even greater invasion, the reunited Horde and the armies of Azeroth have shifted their focus from conquest, betrayal, defense or honor to that of basic survival...[47]

Not much is known about how the original storyline of Warcraft III differed from the one we know:

  • At the very beginning, the Warcraft III campaign was actually not mission-based. Instead, it was a large, continuous world that players would adventure through much like in a role-playing game.[8] This was abandoned when the game became a more traditional RTS.
  • Since the game was originally meant to have six playable factions, including the Burning Legion and the Goblins, those were meant to also have playable campaigns.[20] This may explain why, on old concept maps for Warcraft III, Undermine was already present when Kalimdor and Northrend were still in a rough shape compared to today.
  • While they were not core to the central story, we were meant to learn more about what happened to the ogres.[33] It is possible the Ogre Legion mentioned several times in flavor text is a remnant of that cut storyline.
  • Early 3D renders of Thrall shows him wearing the same black armor Orgrim Doomhammer wore in Warcraft II illustrations as well as holding an axe. Since the armor is the same, it is likely that Thrall was always meant to be Orgrim's successor. The events of Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans were meant to be used in the Horde storyline after all,[33] and as such it is possible that Thrall's axe was actually the Axe of Durotan from that game.
  • Another mystery is the role Garona could have been meant to play. She was made as a 3D render and was intended to play a role,[48][17] but nothing is known besides that.
  • While Warcraft II showed Uther the Lightbringer as a healthy warrior, early Warcraft III art depicted him as a prophetic man wearing a blindfold. His blindness was later set aside and this blindfold idea was transported into the character of Illidan Stormrage instead.[49]
  • There were several mentions about the Alliance of Lordaeron falling into civil war prior to the start of the game, including the description of the Footmen and the original one of the Paladins. It seems that, while the Horde was to return to its honorable and shamanistic roots, the Alliance was meant to be fragmented by greed and treachery in order for both factions to find some common ground and then unite against the Legion. Since they were released even before Warcraft III, the Of Blood and Honor novel was probably intended to start depicting the bad sides of the Alliance as having overzealous puritans, while Lord of the Clans depicted some humans as racists and corrupt. Interestingly enough, Aedelas Blackmoore was originally intended to be from Alterac back then, indicating the fallen kingdom might have been intended to have a greater role.
  • Elune was originally named "Lunathris".[28] The night elves were also originally based on the Drow from the various Dungeons & Dragons campaign settings,[50] to the point that some concept arts referred to their territory as "dark elf lands".[51] The gender divisions (warrior and ruler women and magically-inclined men), darker-hued skins, and a very powerful goddess are the only elements of this that survive. It seems their burning hatred of their high elven brothers and their magics was an early idea however, as a Gamestar interview said that because of that the night elves made a fitting opponent of the Alliance.[21]
  • It is said in early concept arts about the tauren that they were afflicted with some strange "fever" that plagued their people and also that their elders forbade the use of magic, with violators sentenced to having their horns severed then being exiled to the Barrens. The centaur themselves also appeared very early in concept arts, and it is notable that the Bloodhoof tribe were originally said to be centaurs and not tauren.[52] A Gamestar interview stated that tauren stood with the orcish Horde to take revenge upon the humans for centuries of oppression,[21] possibly hinting that the tauren were once meant to exist in the Eastern Kingdoms or perhaps that the Eastern Kingdoms' humans in older drafts had already been in contact with Kalimdor.
  • Mutant murlocs were mentioned in the game manual, with something "dark and sinister" awakening deep beneath the Maelstrom. While the naga were eventually introduced in the expansion pack, the storyline about mutated murlocs was left unfinished by Blizzard.
  • An unused icon in the game files for Atiesh makes it possible that the staff was intended to have a role in the original game.
  • The Burning Legion was described as such by a journalist, presumably under Blizzard's guidance: "It is rumored that the immortal Legion has existed since the beginning of the universe and that the Eredar - the leaders of the Legion - somehow destroyed their own home dimension, thereby inadvertently setting magic loose throughout all creation. Cursed to wander the countless dimensions of the Twisting nether consuming every last trace of magic it finds, the Burning Legion has ravaged innumerable worlds in order to sate its insatiable hunger for magic. Many eons ago, the Legion attempted to drain the world of Azeroth of its innate magic but was narrowly defeated. Now, after nearly ten thousand years, the Legion has returned to finish-off Azeroth for good."[53] The idea that the eredar destroyed their own dimension was dropped, but after the release of the final version of the game there were still references about the demon army consuming magic.
  • The Undead Scourge, instead of being pawns of the Burning Legion, were originally meant to be the Shadow Council death knights, skeletons and other monsters who had been exorcised by the orcish society. Ner'zhul, a leader among the orcs who whipped them into their previous, evil incarnation, however left the orcs and was now the leader of the undead, which were stronger and more diverse than ever before.[54] The Scourge operating independently from the Burning Legion in early drafts is corroborated by an early bio for them in Gamestar saying that they arrived from the underworld to take advantage of the turmoil from the Burning Legion's invasion.[21]

Beta storyline[]

  • The nathrezim were originally said to belong to the family of vampires, were subordinates of the necromancers, and used necromantic magic themselves, but they could only raise inferior undead like ghouls.[21] They were also said to have betrayed Kil'jaeden and to now be serving Ner'zhul, the Lich King who used his influence to control them,[27] instead of them being jailers. Interestingly, their original description already had them as demons capable of transforming into humans in order to manipulate them.
  • When combining the description of the Paladins and Death Knights, it seems it was the whole failing Alliance who disbanded the Knights of the Silver Hand and not only a rogue Arthas. There are also mentions of "plague-ridden colonies", and the dialogs in the Human intro make it seem like there was supposed to be a bigger focus on human lands being quarantined for a prolonged amount of time, maybe as a proto-Plaguelands.
  • Originally, Illidan Stormrage was supposed to have been turned into a satyr due to his dabbling in magic, and he spoke in Shakespeare-inspired prose. This version of the character "felt really weak", so Chris Metzen took it back to the drawing board and changed it to what is seen in the final version of the game.[45][55]
  • Jaina Proudmoore was planned to die early on in the human campaign, but the idea was scrapped due to feedback from the level designers that it felt unnecessary to kill off an interesting character just after she was introduced and that Arthas didn't need any more motivation to chase after Mal'Ganis than he already had. The love story between Jaina and Arthas was also planned to appear in the game, and Jaina may have also been planned to become a banshee, but it was scrapped as it was too similar to the story of Jim Raynor and Sarah Kerrigan from StarCraft. The banshee plot point was instead moved to Sylvanas Windrunner.[45][55]
  • The witch doctor Mil'janza was originally supposed to appear during the By Demons Be Driven mission.
  • The green dragon Tharifas was originally supposed to appear during the The Awakening of Stormrage mission.
  • Up until fairly late in development, the Eternity's End campaign consisted of eight missions. The seventh, titled Twilight of the Gods in the final game, was originally called "Archimonde's Ascent" and was followed by an eighth mission titled "Twilight of the Gods" in which a giant Archimonde would slowly walk toward Nordrassil and players would have to build defenses to slow him down. However, it ended up being almost two hours long, and during testing the developers realized that the mission felt unfun and anti-climactic and that players didn't want to go into a "big slugfest of a mission" right after the 45-minute fight for survival in the preceding mission. Therefore, the final mission was cut and Archimonde's Ascent—renamed to "Twilight of the Gods"—took its place as the final mission.[45][56][57]
  • Early interviews stated that demons and skirmishes with the orcs had actually reduced Quel'Thalas to ashes and rubble, and that the high elves were now the most extreme fighters within the Alliance after that, relying a lot on addicting magic.[21][17] They had to live among the humans. In early builds of the game the high elves were as such much more involved in the military of the Alliance of Lordaeron, deploying rangers as hero units, as well as dragonhawk riders and mage-priests. Some of these ideas and units were later used for the blood elf storyline of The Frozen Throne.

The Frozen Throne[]

Many of the units and buildings that were cut during Warcraft III's alpha and beta stages were reintroduced in one way or another in the single-player campaigns of the game. Some others were only reintroduced in the expansion pack, The Frozen Throne.

Some units changed during the beta:

  • Blood Mage: Instead of being able to summon a Phoenix, the Blood Mage was originally meant to transform a friendly unit into a "Fire Demon" as his Ultimate ability.[58] This Fire Demon may have been retooled as the Firelord when the ability was cut, and it may also explain why the Alliance of Lordaeron was so quick to drop out the blood elves in the storyline.
  • Shadow Hunter: They originally wore rush'kah masks, but those were removed before release.

Several units were also cut during the transition to the expansion pack to be replaced with similar but slightly different units:

Finally, some things were also renamed: All chaos orcs were renamed to fel orcs, owlbears became wildkin and Malfurion lost his "Furion" nickname.

The expansion originally wasn't going to feaure an orc campaign because of time constraints and because the development team couldn't think of a way to include the orcs in the main "Arthas-versus-Illidan" storyline that wouldn't feel contrived. However, during the development of Reign of Chaos, the team came up with new gameplay ideas that wouldn't function in a traditional RTS game and decided to make an orc campaign that had more RPG elements and was completely separate from the main story, resulting in The Founding of Durotar. Level designer Tim Campbell was the one who primarily pushed for the idea and designed the majority of the campaign, with some assistance from other designers.[59][60]

Naga was going to be playable race. Adding Naga as the 5th race was debated for The Frozen Throne.

Also planned to add a shipyard and playable ships to each race.

The Dwarven Axeman is a dwarven unit that was meant to appear in the Into the Shadow Web Caverns mission, likely meant to give Baelgun Flamebeard's forces a melee unit. It used the Bandit model as a placeholder and had a distinctly different speaker than the standard rifleman voice.


Concept art
Early alpha
Late alpha/early beta
ECTS 2001 Preview Materials



See also[]


  1. ^ Blizzard Is Adding World Of Warcraft References To Warcraft III: Reforged. Kotaku. Retrieved on 2018-11-11.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Game Informer #308: Reforging Real-time Strategy
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Richard C. Moss 2020-01-27. How Warcraft III birthed a genre, changed a franchise, and earned a Reforge-ing. Ars Technica. Retrieved on 2020-03-13.
  4. ^ Patrick Wyatt 2012-08-15. The making of Warcraft part 2. Code Of Honor. Retrieved on 2018-09-13.
  5. ^ Blizzard Entertainment. Warcraft III official site (English). Archived from the original on 2000-08-31. Retrieved on 2000-12-23.
  6. ^ Warcraft III First Look. Computer Games Magazine (1999-09-08). Archived from the original on 2005-02-19.
  7. ^ a b - Units Overview
  8. ^ a b c d e 2001 chat transcript 2
  9. ^ a b Explore Warcraft III's Origins In This Rare Concept Art Gallery. Game Informer (2018-11-14). Retrieved on 2018-11-25.
  10. ^ 20 Years of StarCraft: An IGN Retrospective. IGN (2018-12-02). Retrieved on 2019-01-09.
  11. ^ Blizzard Archive 2015-06-07. Bill Roper Interview - 01 June 2002 - The Gaming Files (17:45). YouTube. Retrieved on 2020-05-15.
  12. ^ a b c d Electric Playground 2018-08-18. SSX! / UFC! / Warcraft III! / The Creator of Q*bert! - S5:E9 - Electric Playground (3:35). Retrieved on 2019-10-18.
  13. ^ a b c - Undead Heroes
  14. ^ a b c 2001 chat transcript
  15. ^ Forging Worlds: Stories Behind the Art of Blizzard Entertainment, pg. 14
  16. ^ a b c d e f g Game Informer 2018-11-08. GI Show – Warcraft III, Diablo Immortal, Red Dead Developer Roundtable (30:00). Retrieved on 2019-05-09.
  17. ^ a b c d WarcraftIII.Net
  18. ^ a b Author: Warcraft 3 almost had six playable races
  19. ^ Bill Roper "disannounces" the demons around E3 2001
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i ZDNet: GamesSpot: PC Previews: Warcraft III Q&A. GameSpot. Archived from the original on 2001-02-05.
  21. ^ a b c d e f File:Gamestar Warcraft III alpha info 1.jpg, File:Gamestar Warcraft III alpha info 2.jpg, File:Gamestar Warcraft III alpha info 3.jpg
  22. ^ a b c - Human Heroes
  23. ^ a b c - Gone
  24. ^ a b c French interview of Rob Pardo in October 2001
  25. ^ - In Game Shot Paladin
  26. ^ a b - Orc Heroes
  27. ^ a b Dreadlord
  28. ^ a b c d - Night Elf Heroes
  29. ^ a b c - Night Elf Units
  30. ^ BlizzCast Episode 1: Interviews with Sam Didier and Jeff Kaplan (2008-01-10). Archived from the original on 2020-05-07.
  31. ^ Samwise Didier on Twitter (2022-03-07). Retrieved on 2022-04-25.​ “hehe, well done, Pandawan. The Panda face was done in place of the current one as these looked like something else when they were reduced to a smaller size in game.
  32. ^ a b c d - Human Units
  33. ^ a b c d 2000 chat transcript
  34. ^ a b - Orc Units
  35. ^ Warcraft III press release
  36. ^ a b c d e f - Undead Units
  37. ^ a b c - Undead Buildings
  38. ^ Necromancer
  39. ^ Warcraft III dryad concept art
  40. ^ File:The Art of Warcraft Burning Legion 1.png
  41. ^ File:The Art of Warcraft Burning Legion 2.png
  42. ^ a b - Neutral Units
  43. ^ Warcraft III news and forum reports
  44. ^ Items
  45. ^ a b c d Abelhawk 2021-11-05. Former Blizzard Level Designer Answers Your Warcraft 3 Questions | Ask Dave Anything | PART 1. YouTube. Retrieved on 2021-12-27.
  46. ^ MMO-Champion Warcraft III: Reforged Interview. MMO Champion. Retrieved on 2018-11-28.
  47. ^ Original Warcraft III prelude
  48. ^ Units FAQ
  49. ^ World of Warcraft: Looking for Group
  50. ^ The Art of Warcraft, pg. 58
  51. ^ File:Azeroth map concept Metzen 1999.jpg
  52. ^ File:Centaur concept 2.jpg
  53. ^ Neoseeker - Warcraft III Hands On Preview
  54. ^ Gamespot
  55. ^ a b Pretzel Lectern: Behind WarCraft III: An Interview with Campaign Designer David Fried (2016-05-25). Retrieved on 2016-06-24.
  56. ^ BlizzCast Episode 12 - Warcraft Anniversary Special (2009-12-08). Archived from the original on 2020-05-07.
  57. ^ Game Informer #308: Reforging Real-time Strategy
  58. ^ Judgehype
  59. ^ Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne Orc Campaign Continues. IGN (2003-12-18).
  60. ^ Abelhawk 2021-11-05. Former Blizzard Level Designer Answers Your Warcraft 3 Questions | Ask Dave Anything | PART 1 (07:07 - 08:40). YouTube. Retrieved on 2021-12-27.
  61. ^ - Unnamed

External links[]