Wednesday, 7 November 2012

WoW - Alliances player's guide

We're finally going to dig into the player's guides. I've been told several times that the alliance player's guide and the horde player's guide are the best books in the series, and, flipping through them, I saw a lot of good stuff. However, it's time to take a closer look, as we dig into the alliance player's guide.

Chapter One – New Races
We're given statistics for three new playable races here: The wildhammer dwarves, the Furbolg and the Half-elves. People have been aching to have the former two added to the game ever since WoW came out, so they're great choices. I find half-elves a bit meh, but not a lot of other alliance races remain.

Wildhammer Dwarf: This is a really strong section and most of it is actually still canon to WoW. The only issues here, and the only bits that are non-canon, are things that connect it to the dumber parts of the RPG, like the dwarves being pissed that the blood elves defected from the alliance or tons of dwarves traveling to Kalimdor to establish a base on the slopes of Mount Hyjal. The wildhammer racial traits and levels are also pretty sensible (their -2 charisma certainly makes more sense than that of the ironforge dwarves), though they do keep the nonsensical attack bonus versus giants.

Furbolg: While generally good, there's a few weird things in here. For example, grizzlemaw is identified as the center of furbolg society, despite the fact that there is no furbolg society. All the tribes are independent from one another. The racial levels in furbolg are amongst the weirdest in the game, as they actually physically transform, growing in strength, gaining sharper claws, thicker skins,greater size and sometimes even a different fur color. Actually, its a pretty interesting mechanism, which could actually be explained lorewise. Of course, that's if the RPG ever tried explaining racial levels, but sadly, it doesn't.

Half-elf: One of the main problems of including the half-elves alongside these other races is that they really don't have any attributes for themselves, instead copying those of their parent races. The only attribute that they have for themselves is the racism against them, which is probably why that was so overemphasized in the 1st edition. While I'm glad the ridiculous level of and focus on racism is gone, there really isn't anything left to distinguish the half-elves now and most sections could be replaced with “For most cases, see human statistics, for others, see high elf statistics”.

One thing that confuses me a bit is that half-blood elves are listed as a separate hybrid race, stating that they can't exist in present settings since the blood elf race is only four years old. How the hell does that work? High elves and Blood elves are the same race, distinguished mostly by culture and the fact that the latter draws demonic power. Give a half-elf a red robe and a grimoire, and you got yourself a half-blood elf.

Chapter Two – Class Options
Here, we are given three new kinds of classes: Variant Classes, Racial Iconic Classes and Creature Classes.

Variant Classes
Already established classes that have one or two minor aspects changed.

Lone Druid: Simply a druid without an animal companion, gaining extra spells or attack power in return. Honestly, I'd have preferred if this was the normal druid class, so props for including it.

Totemic Druid: Another good idea for what the standard druid could have been like, this is a kind of druid that adheres to a single totem, like the bear (druid of the claw), the crow (druid of the talon) or the snake (druid of the fang). One thing of note is that the presence of the druids of the fang as a separate totem contradicts LoM, though the version presented here fits better with World of Warcraft (plus, it gives the game designers the opportunity to later add snake-themed spells to the druid class). While only three totems are specified here, its implied that there are more.

Focused Mage: A mage without a familiar, gaining some advantages in return. Like with the lone druid, I'd have preferred this as the standard mage.

Auradin: A paladin without any spell slots, but with increased health and permanent auras. I really like this one, as it works well with some of the old warcraft III units.

Racial Iconic Classes
Mechanically, these act a lot like variant classes, representing the influence of a race's culture and traditions on their iconic races. As far as race-related powers go, these make a lot more sense than racial levels.

Furbolg Shaman: The furbolg shaman loses a few shaman-related powers (flametongue, frostbrand and purge), instead gaining barbarian rage and the ability to cast druid spells. Fits perfectly.

Gnome Tinker: Gnomish tinkers trade a few of their explosive-related abilities (and the resistance they build up against them) for more reliable devices and occasional sparks of genius. A bit less interesting to play, but it makes sense lore-wise.

High Elf Mage: High elf mages lack familiars and specialization in elemental magic, instead gaining a few darker powers. A bit too dark I would argue, as all high elf mages apparently know either necromantic or warlock magics. I think a bonus for pure arcane spells and/or nature-related arcane spells would be a lot more lore-appropriate.

Human Mage: Wait, if both humans and high elves get their own mage specialization, who exactly is in the standard mage class? Most races that use arcane magic are close enough to either high elves or humans that you could justify them using the racial class. I think the only exception to that rule would be troll mages. Amusingly, the human mages also lack familiars, meaning that the focused mage has essentially become standard. In addition, humans don't have enhanced counterspell and lose a bonus feat, instead gaining the ability to summon more elementals, combine spell slots so you can cast higher level spells and the ability to naturally cast a number of spells. Overall, pretty good for a racial class.

Human Paladin: Now this is one I don't get. There are no different origins or organizations for paladins of different races (note that this book was published before the introduction of the light-worshiping draenei and the blood knights). A human paladin and a dwarf paladin are members of the exact same organization and gain their powers in the exact same way with the exact same training, so why does the humans get different auras and more skills with the hammer?

Ironforge Dwarf Warrior: Dwarf Sharpshooter: Now that is a long class name. Like in DnD (and unlike in WoW), fighters/warriors are also the primary ranged class, with hunters/scouts/rangers being more nature-oriented, so that's why the sharpshooter is a warrior variant rather than a hunter or scout variant. The sharpshooter gives up a number of warrior bonus feats in order to gain more skill with a gun and quickly solve mechanical problems. Simple class, but it works.

Night Elf Druid: Like the paladin, this makes no sense as a racial class. All druids gain their powers from the same source and have been trained in the same tradition, no matter their race, so why would the night elf druids get different abilities? However, the night elf druid (like the lone druid) makes a lot of sense as a replacement for the druid base class, with druids losing the brew potion ability and a few bonus feats, in return gaining extra defense (nature itself warns them of impending attacks), the ability to hibernate for long periods and ways to surpass a demon's natural defenses.

Wildhammer Barbarian: The wildhammer eschew ranged weapons, armor and any knowledge of traps, instead gaining lots and lots of luck, immunity to fear effects, increased health and mounts that rage alongside them. The fear immunity and the raging mounts kind of make sense, but the other two are pretty much unexplained. Why are the wildhammer tougher than any other barbarians?

Creature Classes
A number of classes that have been included for gameplay reasons, allowing you to play a normally overpowered race from level 1, rather than having to deal with the hassle that is level adjustment. As creature classes were never really intended to represent the creatures lore-wise, it's pretty futile to discuss it. The races given are ancient protector, dryad, keeper of the grove and mountain giant.

A couple of feats, mostly unremarkable. The only odd one is that apparently night elves can empower their magic by dancing.

Chapter Three – Prestige Classes
Man, we get a lot of classes this book.

Ace: Basically, someone who specializes in driving vehicles. While I do like this class, it's kind of hard to imagine an ace entering a dungeon. One notable oddity about this class is that it covers both aerial and ground-based vehicles, but all the terminology only references aerial vehicles.

Dead Shot: The dead shot is essentially a sniper. Like the ace, it's hard to imagine the dead shot being part of a group of adventurers, though it could work in a stealth-centered campaign.

Demon Hunter: Pretty much the demon hunter from warcraft III. The only notable difference is that the RPG Demon Hunter will eventually turn into a demon himself, a process which isn't explained (and seems kind of odd, considering Illidan himself only became demonic after absorbing an incredibly powerful, one-of-a-kind demonic artifact).

Exemplar: Exemplars serve as inspiration to their allies and strike fear into the heart of the their enemies! So... other classes don't inspire their allies and bring fear to their enemies? There is no mention of any of special magic or training being involved (which makes me wonder how the exemplars can project their voice), so this class just leaves me scratching my head. Is carrying a flag really enough to warrant a prestige class?

Gunman: And yet more unexplained powers that should only be possible through magic, though at least this time, the book is nice enough to actually point out that it makes no sense for the gunmen to think that their powers are just the result of good training. Not nice enough to give an explanation though.

Mountain King: Unlike the mountain king in the first edition, the abilities of this class aren't drawn from the knowledge about the dwarven titan heritage. However, they are still drawn from the spark of titan magic inside the dwarves (the dwarves just didn't know about the source yet). As far as prestige classes go, this one is just about perfect.

Sapper: Why is this class in the alliance's player's guide? Sappers seem more like a goblin thing, probably best suited for More Magic & Mayhem. Otherwise, this class also feels a bit excessive, as roughly the same could be achieved by playing a rogue/tinker and there isn't really any specific lore either. Usually, prestige classes represent some sort of elite order that gets specialized training, but this book seems to have a bit of a problem with that.

Savagekin: Now this is a better example. The savagekin are a group of druids who have completely given themselves to animal instincts, spending most of their lives living shapeshifted in the wild. It's a cool class concept. The only weird thing is that half-elves are listed as being the most common savagekin race, alongside night elves. The night elves are extremely wary of high elves and half-elves, so its kind of hard to imagine that a large enough section of the half-elf populace not only moved to Kalimdor, but was allowed access into the night elf lands, was allowed access into the moonglade itself, studied druidism, learned about a sub-sect of feral druids, decided to join them and learned their ways, all in the span of only 4 years.

Sister of Steel: A female blacksmith, who occasionally fights, prestige class. I think that supersedes the exemplar as the dumbest prestige class concept I've seen. I also have no idea how it is in any way relevant that the members of this class are female. Do female smiths get extra magical powers? The magical powers of the sisters are also weird, as they seem linked to the titan heritage of the dwarves, despite the fact that humans and gnomes can also become sisters of steel (this is long before the humans and gnomes get their backstory as titan creations, so you have to wonder why this fact doesn't raise any eyebrows in-universe). The position of the sisters of steel as “performing the tasks traditionally reserved for men” also makes no real sense in the warcraft setting either, as gnomish, human and (to a slightly lesser extent) dwarven women have always been portrayed as smithing and battling merrily alongside men. If you really want a female empowerment class, why not use sentinels or huntresses?

Ursa Totemic: It's a furbolg barbarian. The entire class has been designed as an extension of the Furbolg's racial levels, which basically translates to “act slightly more like a bear”.

Warden: Another class that would make sense as female-only, but no, we've gotta keep that for the blacksmiths. Otherwise, this is an excellent example of a good prestige class.

Windwarrior: The article only describes the wildhammer dwarves who fly flying mounts, yet they call the class windwarrior rather than gryphon rider? Actually, the article later mentions in a sidebar how different races take different mounts, but that only makes it more confusing because the entire rest of it is about the wildhammer dwarves.

Chapter Four: Magic
Oh yay, more magic-related stuff. As usual, the magic in the the book is completely mishandled. I'm gonna give you a full quote
At the same time, the Alliance is wary of magic, particularly arcane magic. Divine magic is far more benevolent, coming as it does from well-intentioned gods or directly from nature. But arcane magic draws from the Well of Eternity, which was not part of Azeroth until created by the titans, themselves outsiders. And arcane magic is far more vulnerable to corruption.”
The stuff related to divine magic is the usual BS that we've seen before. No, RPG writers, not all sources of divine magic are good. I'm also not exactly sure why the well of eternity being created by outsiders is relevant here either. First of all, the alliance doesn't actually know that the well of eternity was created by the titans. Second, the well of eternity is the source of most of the life on the planet, which means that if the well of eternity is a dangerous source of magic for that reason, nature itself is also dangerous.

Ironforge Dwarves: Guys, I just said that the alliance doesn't know about the well of eternity's creation. That means you don't get to make the discovery of that fact spark a cultural revolution. Hell, at this point the dwarves have barely confirmed their own connection to the titans, let alone studied the history of anyone else.

Wildhammer Dwarves: The section is pretty good, and being wary of arcane magic does actually fit with what we know about the wildhammer dwarves.

High Elves: Hurray for good retcons! First retcon of the section is that the high elves causing the third war is just a belief held by some idiots, rather than actual canon. Second retcon is that the blood elves outnumber the high elves by far, meaning the events from Warcraft 3 are probably canon again.

Night Elves: An actual good section, having the night elves' distrust of arcane magic be a result of their history, without having the omniscient narrator confirm or deny it.

Furbolgs: Another good section, with the very nature of arcane magic (taking control of the world) going against the Furbolg philosophy.

Gnomes: Gnomes aren't all that interested in arcane magic, because they don't become enamored with their own power and are too humble to look down upon others? That's fine and all, but neither of those are requirements for becoming a mage.

Human: Humans are better mages than other races because they have a wider emotional range and are therefore more passionate. The book also points out how odd it is that the humans aren't addicted to arcane magic, despite the fact that the high elves are only addicted because of their connection to the sunwell. The whole “humanity is young and therefore they haven't learned their mistakes” card is played up here as well, and it really doesn't fit in the warcraft setting. The oldest human kingdoms are over 2000 years old, having practiced magic, both arcane and divine, for most of that period. If at this point they haven't had mages become corrupted or religious people lose faith, only heard about it in tales from other races (which the book states), it's not a result of merely being a young race.

Spell List
While there are a few good spells in here, many seem to be assigned to the wrong class, like druids getting a ton of mount-related spells that seem designed for windwarriors, Fan of knives and a few night-related spells being given to the mage class or vengeance being a warlock ability. There's also a few weird ones, like a spell that specifically enrages orcs, a priest spell that allows you to see titans' foot- and hand-prints or a mage spell that allows you to draw straight lines. More than half of this spell list could have been dropped from the book or turned into class abilities.

Magic Items
And three other magic items (sword, helmet and ring) that specifically targets orcs. It just seems a bit odd that there is magic that targets a single race. Just doesn't feel right to me. However, more importantly, why is there only specialized magic for fighting orcs? All the members of the alliance have fought trolls for much longer than they have fought orcs, so why aren't there any spells targeting them? Also, these books really need a way to restrict the making of specific magical items to either a divine caster or an arcane caster, as wildhammer and night elf magic items can be made by any arcane caster.

Chapter Five: Technology
The races and technology section is a bit weird, as it only lists four races: Dwarves, elves, humans and gnomes. Yeah, it groups the elves together, because both groups apparently disdain technology. Honestly, I'd let that one slip if the chapter hadn't actually given a description in the opening:
[Technology] is science applied to practical use. Thus, by this definition, a simple can opener is a technological device. A more accurate description is that technology is the system by which an entire society provides for the wants and needs of its population”
Which means that things like the night elf glaive thrower or the elven navies pretty succinctly fall under technology. It's also weird how it lists the elves despite them supposedly being non-technological, but doesn't list any information on the wildhammer dwarves or the furbolg.

Otherwise, the section is pretty good. The tech-mods are all pretty nifty and have nice backstories. Most other technological devices are also pretty good, tough a few are a bit on the high-tech side (a dwarven armour that projects a forcefield around it, a gnomish amulet that invokes chaos energy to give a random benefit), though that also goes for a number of devices that were directly brought over from WoW.

Chapter Six: History and Culture
For this chapter, we switch narrators to Brann Bronzebeard.

Night Elf
This history section has A LOT of errors. Seriously, doesn't anyone double-check this sort of stuff? Just a sample of the errors in this section: The night elf males were all druids before the war of the ancients, all magic (both divine and arcane) stems from the night elves and Azshara was stopped by an elite guard of arcane-wielding warriors known as the moon guard, with no mention of the other contributors. Even from Brann's in-character point of view, these mistakes don't make sense, as he has night elf sources readily available.

On the other hand, the culture section is very, very well-written and should be mandatory reading for any blizzard employee writing night elf quests. However, my favorite line is this:

However, some night elves get a little… overzealous about their work. Apparently, night elves have this idea of what nature should be like. Their concept of “nature” seems to mean “forest.” I wouldn’t be surprised if many night elves felt the only “natural” nature is that which is created and cultivated within their own lands”

This line pretty much perfectly grasps the way the night elf druids interact with the world. No, it's not natural, but for the night elves, it is what they see as the perfection of nature. The description of the roles of priests and druids is also great. The book makes it very clear that Tyrande is the sole leader of the population and the arch-druid only has authority over the druids. I need to make one correction here about my comic review though, as this book also states that only men could become druids and came out several years before that book. However, my objections to the idea still stand.

High Elf
Now this is a strong section. It manages to explain the seperation between the high elves and the blood elves in a way that makes sense and doesn't simply write one section off as evil or wrong (many elves sought refuge in the alliance after the second war, relying on their charity. Most of the elves were appaled by this behaviour and organised to retake their homelands, renaming themselves blood elves. The blood elves think the high elves are pussies for not defending their homelands, while the high elves think the blood elves are monsters for using such dark magic).

One of the biggest problems with including the half elves in a book like this is that its hard to make any sort of generalisations about them. Half-elves are found in every human and elven culture on the planet. That is eight different nations (Dalaran, Stromgarde, Stormwind, Lordaeron, Quel'thalas, Gilneas, Alterac and Kul Tiras), each with their own culture. In addition, half-elves are incredibly low in number, meaning they didn't form any culture of their own during the thousands of years they've been around. This section tries to do this fact justice, having Brann state that there really isn't any way to talk about half-elf culture. However, it still generalises way too often. Plus, its kind of hard to imagine all human culture as being this universally racist, considering their nature. Kul Tiras is a trade empire with contacts all over the world. Dalaran was founded on the foundations of working together with the high elves. Are those cultures really going to react the same to half-elves as the isolationist Gilneans, the gruff warriors of Stromgarde or the distant Stormwinders? What about the half-elves who joined the trade cartels, or the half-elves that moved to Khaz Modan? Since they're treated as outsiders anyway, they're much more likely to leave their homeland, so there should be pretty significant populations after the thousands of years they've been around. Also, if humans and high elves are able to interbreed and consider each other hot enough that even first contact resulted in babies, and thousands of years have passed since then, shouldn't a significant portion of both the human and elf population be part elf/human?

Awesome section, covering a huge amount of lore with great accuracy and new insights. It's also pretty funny, with Brann's snark making even the darkest moments seem pretty funny. One small point of critique is that Brann specifically mentions "retribution paladins", even though the different WoW paladin specialisations are just a gameplay element. Lorewise, a paladin is a paladin. Though some may specialise in certain styles of battle, there has never been any indication that there is a sharp distinction between several groups. And if there was, this book would have been the perfect opportunity to introduce it, but this is all the mention we're getting. To counter the minor plot hole, the book turns a previous error into a mystery, with Brann pointing out how odd it is that the undead of duskwood are found so far to the south.

Brann's snark is also present in the culture section, though it is a bit odd when he gripes about the humans putting people in charge by right of birth. Hey, Brann, isn't your brother a king? One thing that makes perfect sense lorewise, but which I don't like personally, is that the human cultures are starting to mingle due to all the refugees banding together in Stormwind and Theramore. I really liked the diversity of humanity. On the other hand, the formation of new cults/orders of the holy light (which may or may not be sanctioned by the arch-bishop) is an idea that makes perfect sense and which I like. Many religious texts have been destroyed in the past thirty years, so no one can bring out any evidence that your new crazy cult contradicts the teachings of the light. Of course, there is plenty of darker cults as well.

Ironforge Dwarves
Another must-read for any fan of Warcraft lore. I especially like the idea that the name of the dwarven race actually stems from the human language, as the humans were the ones who thaught the dwarves writing and some of the finer nuances of language. Another fun fact is that dwarves didn't used to have days (due to living underground), but had 10-hour shifts. They switched to 8-hour shifts when they became part of the alliance, so three shifts match to a single day.

Wildhammer Dwarves
Another great section. One thing of note is that Brann says that the Wildhammer Dwarves generally revere the earth mother, and that some wildhammer dwarves on Kalimdor have started studying the teachings of Elune.

The gnome history section is... not particularly enlightening. For some reason, the gnomes don't really know anything about their history prior to their discovery, which was a little over two hundred years ago, and there is no information given we don't already know.

Actually, even looking at WoW, the backstory of the gnomes seems incomplete. We know that the gnomes are descended from the Mecha-gnomes, who were made by Mimiron in Ulduar, but how did they get to Dun Morogh without leaving a presence anywhere else in the world? And if the being who created the gnomes was created on and never left Azeroth, what's with the sand gnomes?
(Personal suggestions: The gnomes are descended from a group of mecha-gnomes that got sent to re-seal the doors of Uldaman after the dwarves first broke out, but were infected by the curse of flesh in the process. Being created after the curse of flesh was identified by the titans, they recognised the symptoms and decided to stay in the region to avoid infecting Ulduar/the sand gnomes are the gnomish members of the alliance expedition who had a devolution similar to, but not as extreme as, dwarves and troggs. The rumoured sand gnomes of Silithus are descended from the mecha-gnomes of Uldum. You can also tie pigmies into this theory as being the next step down from sand gnome, which would also mean that gnomes and goblins are related.)

The culture section is fun though, and manages to make the gnomes excentric without going over the top in ridiculousness.

While still pretty good, one problem of this section is that they keep saying that the furbolg are staying neutral because they don't want to offend their ancient friends, the tauren. Nowhere in WoW or WC3 has there been anything to suggest any sort of friendship between the tauren and the furbolg. Or any sort of regular contact at all. I'm not even sure we've ever seen a furbolg and a tauren stand in the same building.

The Argent Dawn
This really doesn't read like the argent dawn from World of Warcraft at all. There, the argent dawn are a group of knights, paladins and assorted allies who exist to fight the scourge. Here, they are some global anti-evil organisation who fight evil races in general, having a strong presence in northern Kalimdor (Rather than a small group of random paladins like in WoW). In addition to the scourge and the burning legion, they also fight the twilight's hammer and the scarlet crusade. They're also likely planning on attacking the forsaken when they get more members. Brann is more than a little suspicious of the argent dawn, going so far as to speculate that they were a secret cult before the third war and casting suspicion on how oddly young many leaders in the argent dawn look.

The book does however explain that the paladins of the argent dawn wield the power of the light in an unconvential way, which would explain the "argent dawn templar" prestige class we saw a while back. It goes a bit against the explanation given in that book, but I'm going to let it slide as that explanation made no sense.

Church of the holy light
Membership count: 800,000...

Well, the horde is truly and deeply screwed if war ever breaks out. Let me remind you that the ironforge dwarves and the gnomes of gnomeregan are not followers of the holy light in this continuity. And yes, the entire church is aligned with the alliance. Groups like the argent dawn and the scarlet crusade are seperate. That means that there are 800,000 humans and high elves alone in the alliance. That's not counting most ironforge dwarves, the gnomes, the furbolg, the wildhammer dwarves, humans who aren't members of the church and, most importantly, the night elves. Makes you wonder why the alliance and the horde are seen as equals when the difference in numbers is so incredibly high.

Otherwise, the section is pretty good. But damn, that membership count is ridiculously high.

Kirin Tor
Membership count: 120

Well, dalaran has no chance of ever becoming a major faction ever again, what with having only 120 mages at its command. And that's including the ruling council, apprentices, lorekeepers and librarians. It's also weird that Jaina Proudmoore isn't listed as a member, despite the fact that she was being trained by Antonidas himself and is probably the most powerful human mage still alive.

Chapter Seven: Alliance History and Current situation
The start of this chapter should not exist. While the chapter takes a look at the alliance as a whole, the start of it again takes a look at the individual races, repeating what was said last chapter. The only new thing present is that the individual nations of humanity are discussed, something which really should have happened last chapter.

One big problem with the seven human kingdoms is that stormwind was never given an identity of its own, being more of a gestalt of the other human nations. It has the magical schools of Dalaran, the fleets of Kul Tiras, the religious presence of Lordaeron, the warrior king of Stromgarde, the shady nobles of Alterac and the not-helping-our-supposed-allies (which was pretty much the only thing that defined Gilneas before Cataclysm) of Gilneas. As a result, Stormwind is pretty much the blandest faction in the entire franchise, yet for some reason, the warcraft writers insist on focusing on it. You'd think that being located on the other side of the continent from the rest of humanity for over a thousand years would have given Stormwind some unique traits, but apparently not.

However, that's a rant I will continue when we get back to Wrath of the Lich King and the comic series. This book has far, far less focus on Stormwind as the center of humanity. Hell, it's made clear that Stormwind is NOT the leader of the alliance. Instead, its pointed out that, mostly thanks to Lady Katrana Prestor, the eastern part of the alliance is in serious danger of falling apart. It's also hinted that the western part of the alliance may outnumber the eastern part, meaning the night elves still have a lot of their population left (which is only logical, hence why it was completely ignored when the cataclysm rolled around). The western part of the alliance is also a lot more united, what with it's members being either night elves or under the command of Jaina Proudmoore. The night elves are actually slowly settling in the role of alliance leadership, slowly gaining a presence in the eastern kingdoms. It's also hinted that the main reason the druids don't work with the alliance is due to Fandral Staghelm. Again, makes perfect sense, but completely ignored for Cataclysm.

Of course, there's still a few minor problems (Brann stating that the stormpike dwarves were the inhabitants of Alterac valley and the orcs and trolls were the invaders, the troll presence in the hinterlands being caused by trolls travelling south to avoid the scourge), but they're really minor and can be handwaved by Brann simply not knowing these things. Overall though, this section is awesome.

To end the section, I'm going to quote the part about relationships with the horde:
I’ll be frank. There’s no good reason why the Horde should be a threat to us at all. The overwhelming majority of the problems with the Horde are of our making — but all that said, we still have to deal with them. For the time being, the Horde is now our most “obvious” enemy, in that they are numerous, and old hatreds put the fight with them at the top of nearly every priority list. It’s silly — both the Alliance and the Horde should be dealing with the Scourge first — but that isn’t happening, and we have to deal with it. We need to push for a ceasefire, at least to get the time to smash the Scourge in Lordaeron.

Chapter Eight & Chapter Nine: The alliance military & bestiary
Mostly a listing of NPC stats for the various alliance forces. Not really anything of note, though there is the odd listing of a dire cobra and a dragonhawk which doesn't look like the one from Warcraft III. Or looks like what's being described in the text.

Seriously, does that look like something you can fly into battle? And what the hell is up with the left leg? And how is this creature “Majestic”?

This book leaves me a bit divided. Generally speaking, the first half of the book is 'okay' at best, and 'mediocre' at worst, with many of the newly introduced mechanics not really leaving any impression. It honestly feels like half the stuff is only there to fill space. However, the latter half of the book is fantastic and a must-read for any fan of warcraft lore and anyone working at blizzard.