Because May is Magic Month, I'm going to look at a couple of staple fantasy races that the Warcraft franchise, especially Warcraft 3, managed to twist in a new direction. I'm afraid I'm not a fan of the online game World of Warcraft, having played Iron Realm MUDs like Achaea and Lusternia combined with a vivid imagination means that I find WoW boring. But I did enjoy the strategy games and books. So, first up, elves.
I already mentioned in my review of Lorwyn that Magic: the Gathering took elves back to their roots by portraying them as dangerous creatures who are likely to kill you on sight. But on further thought I realised that this isn't as unique as I thought. There is a version of elves like this that has become a fantasy staple - dark elves. Sometimes they are called drow. Their exact nature differs from place to place, but they are generally blue- or purple-skinned and evil. In fact, the makers of Warcraft 3 decided that they were such a fantasy staple that they could twist the entire concept and surprise the players of the game.
If you play through the campaign, your first encounter with Warcraft's dark elves happens whilst leading Grom Hellscream's orcish clan, the Warsong, into Ashenvale Forest. Due to Hellscream's insubordination and battlelust, Warchief Thrall has sent him and his clan to collect lumber to build a large warcamp. As soon as you enter the firest, some of the orcs get nervous and complain that it feels like they're being watched. This should be an indicator that something is badly wrong - these are orcs. They do not jump at shadows. But Hellscream laughs it off and tells them to get back to work. Do not believe him. Build up your defenses. Build a second base. Or you will, like I did, get annihilated by the dark elves.
If you carry on, you will manage to defeat the dark elves, who are called night elves, and kill their leader, the demigod Cenarius. But then comes the night elf campaign. As you continue playing them you discover that they are not, in fact evil. After all, when you were playing orcs, you did try to cut down their forest. What did you think they would do? And as you carry on, you realise that the night elves are not only nice people, but that they defeated the Burning Legion thousands of years ago. In fact, they are probably the only people who can stop them this time. Except, you killed their demigod. Oops.
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