Blood elf controversy
Please note: The following article was largely written prior to the introduction of the blood elves as a playable class for World of Warcraft. It is kept for historical purposes, documenting the reaction of some of the player-base to the race's introduction as part of The Burning Crusade.
- "Remember how quiet it was before the elves came? I miss that."
The Blood elf controversy involves players who have voiced objection to blood elves feeling it will ruin the atmosphere of the Horde. Others think it makes little sense that the New Horde would let in such a corrupt race and feel this upsets the balance between the Alliance and Horde. The latest controversy involves their torture and exploitation of a Naaru and the hidden leper gnome sweatshop in their capital showing Thrall and Cairne's apparent indifference.
A defensive argument for the inclusion of blood elves
While the feeling of the general public is that the blood elves are evil, most of these opinions are drawn from what they have previously observed from their experiences in playing as the human-blood elf campaign in WarCraft III: The Frozen Throne, who accepted Vashj and Illidan's ideas of obtaining magic at almost any cost, even consorting with upper-level demons.
However, it is important to remember that the playable blood elves in Burning Crusade will not be the same as the playable blood elves in previous Warcraft titles. These blood elves draw their energies from demonic pests and mana beasts, the equivalent of rats or lesser rodents. Many are unaware of what happened to Prince Kael'Thas and his accompanying strike force (the blood elves of The Frozen Throne) through the Dark Portal in search of a cure - this will probably be a major factor into why both Alliance and Horde will be able to battle him in the Tempest Keep. The playable blood elves of Burning Crusade were the great majority of the blood elf military, who Kael'Thas sent to reclaim Quel'Thalas and Silvermoon City.
The Sin'dorei bring with them a rightly feared and legendary arcane heritage, and the newly formed Blood Knights. With the reclamation of Quel'Thalas and Silvermoon City, they also bring yet another Horde presence to a continent that is generally thought of as Alliance territory. Now there are two major powers on the Eastern Kingdoms that can act as buffers, supply centers and headquarters against Ironforge and Stormwind in case the Alliance initiates another Great War. (This balances with the draenei, whose territories are off the coast of Kalimdor, a Horde-dominated continent).
From a strictly practical gameplay perspective, a Sin'dorei Paladin makes a tremendously versatile addition to any party. In PvP the Paladin can be very powerful in comparison to other classes, and in PvE their ability to both heal and engage in melee combat means that they can serve equally well as either a main healer or main tank.
The ulterior reasons are sympathy. Although all the races of the Horde wisely note the blood elves' reputation as being reckless and dangerous, there are those within the Horde who view them as a race also in need of help. Orcs, no strangers to the debilitating effects of fel power, are surprisingly accepting of the Sin'dorei, and many older orcs who have experienced demonic corruption firsthand are fierce supporters of the blood elves. Blood elves hate unlife in all its forms, but in regards to the Forsaken, blood elves are generally willing to accept an uneasy truce. While the alliance between blood elves and the forsaken is uneasy at best, it is strong enough that the Undercity and Silvermoon have opened a translocator between the two cities, making safe travel possible without low-ranked blood elves having to traverse the hazardous Plaguelands. This allows the once land-locked blood elf homeland unfettered access to the rest of Azeroth.
The "Common" controversy
A popular lore argument is "How can the blood elves suddenly forget Common upon joining the Horde?"
Traditionally Common is usually treated as universal language in earlier Warcraft games, novels, and in the current RPG, and is known by most races and factions in some form (Common, Nerglish, Undercommon, Low Common, and etc). Even individuals and races that had never previously encountered members of other races are capable of having conversations due to a universal knowledge of Common. According to the RPG blood elves know Common, and it is one of their two main languages, which also includes Thalassian.
However, some see the above argument in itself as flawed, because they have seen no evidence in need of retconning to show that most elves even know Common to begin with. They believe although there are undoubtedly blood elves who do speak Common (as well as Orcs who spoke Common, Humans who spoke Orcish, and etc), they may not be the majority. They believe that the blood elves who know the language are usually commissioned officers, delegates, diplomats, veterans from the Second War, or defectors from the Third War. Quel'Thalas has always been an insular nation, and officially severed all ties with the Alliance immediately following the Second War. It is possible as a result, that there are very few ordinary blood elves who speak Common. Elves who are the most likely to know Common are usually loyalist high elves who stayed with the Alliance even after Quel'Thalas seceded, and many veterans of the previous wars have already died. Much of the current blood elf population are those who remained in Quel'Thalas throughout the WarCraft storyline.
There are many who have not seen any race aside from their own prior to the Horde induction, so it could be much less likely for them to speak Common. As with most of the other playable races, new blood elf characters are probably young enough to have never seen battle when they first start out. Also, after severing ties with the alliance, it is likely that the use of common has been outlawed among blood elves and are encouraged to speak Thalassian in order to preserve cultural identity.
However, the basic reasons remain decisions largely for the sake of competitive gameplay. Blizzard goes to great lengths to promote tension between factions, and discourages fraternizing and communicating with the opposing faction. Having a language barrier promotes this, especially when applied to PvP servers. This language barrier may not actually be present in non-game materials (novels, etc).
The language barrier also extends from Blizzard's experience by letting undead speak Common — players displayed a noted (almost repulsive) lack of maturity with this ability, and Gutterspeak was the result.
Why hunters and not warriors? Suggested gameplay and lore reasoning
As cited in the Classes section, the gameplay reasoning behind the decision is that Blizzard wanted both new expansion races to be able to roll a locked number of six classes. With the elimination of faction exclusive classes, the choice came down between hunter and warrior, and hunter was chosen as the sixth class. From a Lore standpoint, the inclusion of hunters and exclusion of warriors can be explained through several reasons. Note: this does not mean that blood elven warriors may not exist in the Warcraft universe, only that they are not a playable class.
Blood elves as a race are the physically weakest of all the races of the Horde. Orcs, trolls, Forsaken, and tauren are superior to them in size, weight, strength, and constitution, each in different but always superior degrees for the respective races. All blood elves, regardless of station or occupation, boast a great affinity for the arcane arts — an area of contention the Horde was notably inferior to prior to the inclusion of the blood elves.
Although there are a significant amount of rank-and-file blood elven soldiers, these spellbreakers typically serve as city guards and honor guards, and still have a substantial amount of magical ability which sets them far apart from the warriors of other races. Since the opening of the Dark Portal, the role of the Blood Knights has been changed from honor guards to frontline troops to help assist the Horde war effort. The remaining surviving rangers from the three Great Wars have been training more recruits, under the guidance of Ranger-General Halduron Brightwing, and will make a reappearance alongside their fellow adventurers by the time of the expansion.
With the introduction of the Cataclysm expansion, the warrior class was made available to the blood elves.
There has been an ongoing complaint over the new changes done to blood elf models, and specifically the choice to bulk up male blood elves. The current models stand slightly straighter and have bigger biceps than the old models. The official CM response by Nethaera stated that the change was made in order to make male blood elves look more menacing and masculine to the opposite faction, and the answer was met with heavy criticism. Many fans decried this as unwarranted machismo and stereotyping, as these players wanted a slender male model available to the Horde faction. There have been ongoing petitions and forum threads since the change asking for a revert to the old model, and calling for a change in the male blood elf's stance and voice responses to remedy their perceived lack of masculinity instead of a physical change.
It has pointed out that prior to this model change there have been reports of skeletal tearing (the model's skeletal frame poking out of the skin) during movement. The increased number of polygons, biceps size and general size of male blood elves appears to have repaired the problem.
Defenders have also pointed out that there have been promotional pictures showing very bulky and muscular blood elves. These were done by Samwise Didier who typically draws all males in exaggerated fashion, even the traditionally slender trolls.
Even with this "bulk-up", blood elves still remain the second most slender horde race (the first being Forsaken, due to decay) in the game.
The most controversial facet of the blood elves is their ability to become paladins. It should be noted, however, that of all the controversy, this one is the most credible lore-wise. The ability balances the right of the draenei to become shamans, an action Blizzard took as part of a way to clarify the role of the shaman in lore. As high elves many were members of the Church of Light; many became priests and a few became paladins.. After the Third War, the majority of high elves became blood elves, and soon the race began to lose its Light-given powers. Thus they needed to find a new way to access the Light. They did this by sapping Light energy from the captive naaru M'uru held beneath the Blood Knight headquarters.
In terms of gameplay, the decision to eliminate faction-specific classes was explained by Blizzard as an attempt to refine and distinguish the two classes from one another. They had previously suffered from comparisons of their abilities, and the attempt to "balance" them and yet have them remain distinct led to the two classes becoming more and more similar to one another. The introduction of these classes to both sides would reduce the controversial issue of faction balance. Nevertheless, this decision was met with some criticism by players and even Blizzard employees have expressed that the decision was not an easy one.
In the years following the writing of this article, and the introduction of blood elves to World of Warcraft, the race has generally gained acceptance among players. In fact, the race has become the most popular for Horde player characters by a substantial margin, on servers of all kinds in both US and EU regions. As with the dominant popularity of the human race for Alliance players, this is likely due to the race's relatively 'normal' or human appearance, compared to alternatives such as the orcs, tauren and Forsaken. Blood elves became additionally popular due to their long being the only Horde race able to play as paladins, a factor which in itself has lead to some attacks due to players' frustration at being forced to choose that race in order to play as paladins. While they are still in some cases targets of ridicule - due largely to issues regarding their appearance and popularity - the controversy over the blood elves' introduction has generally been long forgotten, and with substantial story roles throughout The Burning Crusade, in Dalaran's Sunreaver faction, and in Mists of Pandaria's Domination Point, Isle of Thunder and Purge of Dalaran storylines, the race has become a recognised and relied upon part of the Horde.