The other day, I was walking home from picking up Christmas presents and I had my jacket open. It was unseasonably warm and my rucksack was full, so I opened my hoodie to try and cool myself. I was wearing my old For the Horde! shirt underneath, and as I walked, I received no less than two nods of recognition and a fistbump from passers by. It’s not an entirely unheard of thing- when I wore the shirt to Video Games Live last year, there were constant exchanges with strangers ranging from ‘what server do you play’ to the odd Orcish salute and ‘FOR OGRIMMAR!‘.
Lesson Two: Rep Your Hood, Rep Your Crew
As mentioned in the previous article, I started playing on a PvP server, which shaped my attitude towards MMO’s a lot. Constant vigilance and gankings coalesced into a sort of siege mentality over time. I was always wary of Alliance goons, and soon that wariness devolved into paranoia, then hatred. Soon, I was looking for some of their number to jump. The Horde stopped being a a tangential association as the Alliance became more and more reviled. I went from being okay with the Horde, to being proud of my association, to being Horde for life. Hordies I had never met were buddies by association- I’d go out of my way to help one if I saw them being jumped.
Those fights give you a sense of togetherness, of pride. I think that’s what’s lacking in The Secret World, that sense of bonding over common struggle. Shared suffering at the hands of the Alliance bonded me to my fellow Horde members, and actually really drew me into a guild. From there, I learned to raid- though my favorites were always the attempted assassination of Alliance faction leaders. I wanted revenge for the times they killed the Banshee Queen, or I got run over in Ogrimmar by marauding gnomes. It’s one thing to share a common experience like a raid, but it’s another entirely to share a persistent PvP experience with those same players. You can’t assign malice to code, but you know every time you get ganked by a max-level player…it was deliberate. Like I said, shared suffering brings shared bonding.
Once I moved out of PvP and into raiding, we were still competing against the Alliance. Raid speeds, drops, and just about every other metric were compared to our counterparts on the server. We pushed ourselves hard to get more loot, outperform other guilds. We put in a lot of work in order to do better than the Alliance. We got griefed, ganked, but still did a lot better than most. It was the spirit of competition and achievement that brought us together. We formed some pretty strong friendships as we struggled to stay ahead- and it was the identity we took from being Horde that really brought us together. There was always an implicit challenge to being the ‘bad guys’, even though canonically the Alliance was just as bad, if not worse. There were always fewer Hordies, and even the capital cities of the Horde were much easier to assault. There was the gaping opening at Undercity, two basically wide-open entrances in Ogrimmar, and only Thunder Bluffs with anything really resembling defenses. Undercity and Ogrimmar’s faction leaders were but a skip and a hop from the entrances, and mainly relied on a few NPC guards and the hellbent fanaticism of the Horde players to defend them. The Alliance by comparison had faction leaders placed at the complete other end of their capitals, forcing Horde raiders to batter their way past almost all of the guards in the city, in addition to any players there.
The Horde was always made of sterner stuff. But that was a function of being put in situations where we were constantly at a disadvantage, and bonding together. You knew that a lot of them had faced what you had, and I’m pretty sure that’s why when I wear my Horde colours, people nod or say hello a hell of a lot more.