Trials of the High King

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Hm. I used to think that leadership was all about strength. I see things more clearly now - It's a little bit of give, a little bit of take. It's about binding people together. A bundle of sticks is not easily broken.
Varian Wrynn
Varian Wrynn noted as the High King

The Trials of the High King was planned to be an epic questline in World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria. King Varian Wrynn would be given tasks similar to the Labours of Hercules involving each of the Alliance races; each task pertaining to some important aspect of leadership to each racial leader. After accomplishing the task, Varian gains each Alliance racial leader's respect and is declared that race's High King. This was to allow Alliance players acting as his squire to learn more about him and his growth as a leader.[1]

Varian Wrynn's first trial happened in Patch 5.1.0. However, the development of Varian's character happens across the entire patch cycle and beyond - it doesn't all happen in one event or one scenario. His trials are many.[2] Only two trials were implemented.

During the Battle for Broken Shore, Varian Wrynn died and the High King title is now associated with his son, Anduin Wrynn.[3]

The Trials

Trial of Patience: A Little Patience

The Horde have holed up in the Temple of the Red Crane, and Tyrande Whisperwind is ready to charge in to root them out. It is up to Varian Wrynn and a group of adventurers to lure the Horde troops out of the temple and kill Commander Scargash.

By displaying patience, Varian was able to lure out the Horde army from the Temple of the Red Crane and decimate them with the Alliance's hidden traps. The victory resulted in the annihilation of the Horde army and its commander with minimal to no casualties for the Alliance. This victory has impressed Tyrande Whisperwind who then pledges the night elves' support to Varian's command.

Trial of Loyalty: Blood in the Snow

One day, King Varian's scouts had discovered that Zandalari trolls threatened the dwarven capital by rallying the Frostmane trolls against them. Surely, the king thought, if he helped them with their troll problem, they would give him more troops for his campaign against the Horde. But what the King did not realize is that the dwarves did not trust one another. When Varian sought the help from the Council of Three Hammers, both Muradin and Falstad declined to offer aid in Ironforge's defense for they feared that if they left to fight the Frostmane trolls, the Dark Irons would take advantage of their absence to defeat the remaining clan and take over Ironforge. Frustrated, Varian argued that if no one would help, then Ironforge will fall under siege. Only Moira offered aid, stating that the Dark Irons will prove their loyalty to the Council, Ironforge, and the Alliance in the defense of Ironforge. And so Moira and the High King set out in the snow to save the city, leaving the others to think about their actions.

When they arrived at Shimmer Ridge, they discovered that their enemies were using an unnatural storm to prevent their forces from advancing on them. At Varian's request, Moira will lead her personal guard against the enemy troll village once the king's champions have stopped the magical storm protecting Shimmer Ridge. After rescuing the surviving mountaineers and slaying the elemental that the trolls were satiating with blood sacrafices to elicit the unnatural storm, the king’s champions regrouped with Moira’s Forgeguard and together their forces slew the Zandalari leader, and captured the Frostmane village.

In the aftermath of the battle, Varian commended Moira and the Dark Irons on their victory, even stating that the Bronzebeards and Wildhammers will regret not having been there to share in her glory. Moira however, humbly stated that her intention was to protect and impress, not to shame; to which Varian acknowledged that she accomplished just that. Both returned to Ironforge to announce her victory to the Council.

On their return, the other dwarven leaders were ashamed of their behavior and vowed never again to allow fear or distrust to cloud their judgment. And so it was a human king who helped to unite the dwarven clans so long divided. Free to trust one another, all three dwarven leaders pledged their full strength to the Alliance cause.

Role of the High King

Despite criticism, Zarhym has said that the position of High King thematically fits the Alliance, because "the Alliance formed an allegiance around human kingdoms."[4] According to Dave Kosak's twitter, "Much like the "Warchief" of the Horde, the High King is trying to coordinate the actions of all the races in the Alliance."[5] Chris Metzen and Dave Kosak later clarified that it was about military control similar to Anduin Lothar's position as Supreme Allied Commander,[6] not about faction-wide political control.[7] Metzen also confirmed that the High King only has control over the forces given to him, and leaders who don't like his calls can choose not to commit their forces.[8][9] Even so, it proved to be hereditary.

The resolve of the High King of the Alliance was tested by the actions of Garrosh Hellscream, but Varian refrained from killing the former warchief after the Siege of Orgrimmar, allowing the orc to stand trial for his crimes. When the Iron Horde began its invasion, Varian placed his trust in Alliance heroes to carry out operations on Draenor.[10]

References