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For the duel from the Warcraft film universe, see Mak'gora (film universe).

The Mak'gora (also written as mak'gora[1] or Mak'Gora[2][3]) means "duel of honor"[4] and is an orcish custom whereby someone may challenge a superior for leadership. This ritual is commonly associated with the position of Horde Warchief, but it can apply to a group of any size,[5] and is practiced by ogre clans as well.[6]


The rules of a Mak'gora are ill-defined and inconsistent, and seem to change with each depiction. The only consistent theme is that the pair fight to the death or until submission.

As described in The Shattering: Prelude to Cataclysm, Bloodsworn and Blood and Thunder the rules for the selected Mak'gora are:

  • Each participant is allowed one weapon. Whether using a shield, dual wielding, or using magic as a 'weapon' is allowed are not specified.
    • A blessing of this weapon by a shaman of their choosing is permitted, but not required. This was only used in the duel between Garrosh Hellscream and Cairne Bloodhoof.
  • Body armor is forbidden. This is a shaky rule, as some 'spur of the moment' Mak'gora involve both fighters wearing armor.
  • Each participant must have at least one witness.
  • If both participants refuse to fight one another, they are banished from the clan.[7]
  • Traditionally, it is to the death, but under Warchief Thrall's rule it became a non-lethal combat, similar to Warsong's Mak'Rogahn. Participants can choose to forgo this change.[1] However, even when operating under the old rules, the victor can choose to spare the loser's life,[5] though it's considered a grave insult.[8]
  • There are no stated rules on the use of magic, but, having been used in multiple Mak'gora duels in different stories and settings, it seems to be permitted.

In ogre clans, only an ogre may challenge another ogre to a mak'gora, but the challenger may then choose a champion to fight on his/her behalf.[6]

Known Mak'gora

The first mak'gora between Thrall and Garrosh.
The mak'gora between Ashra and Shagara.
  • Issued by Fenris Wolfbrother to Garad. Garad called Fenris a coward for secretly hunting gronn with the Thunderlord clan. Garad defeated Fenris, but would not kill his own son. Insulted by being spared, Fenris left the Frostwolf clan and joined the Thunderlords.[8] It is possible that this holds true for the main universe.
  • Issued by Orgrim Doomhammer to Blackhand the Destroyer,[9] calling Blackhand a traitor who had sold their people into servitude to dark forces.[10] Orgrim won with a blow that crushed Blackhand's skull, taking control of the Blackrock clan and the Horde at the end of the First War.[11]
  • Issued by Garrosh Hellscream to Thrall. The duel, in the modern way, was interrupted when the Scourge invaded Orgrimmar.
  • Issued by Cairne Bloodhoof to Garrosh Hellscream, who requested it to be a traditional duel. Garrosh chose Magatha Grimtotem to bless Gorehowl, who secretly applied poison to the blade. Cairne died when the poison prevented him from avoiding the axe. Because of the use of poison, Garrosh felt that Magatha cheated him out of a real victory.
  • Issued by Ashra Valandril to Shagara. Ashra did not understand or care what Mak'gora entailed and just wanted a martial challenge to see who was truly fit to lead. Ashra lost but Shagara did not kill him.[5]
  • Issued by Ga'nar to Durotan. Ga'nar believed that Durotan was not handling the Frostwolf Orcs as well as he should have been, and challenged his brother in the middle of the Horde Garrison. Durotan and Draka defused the situation, and Ga'nar backed down.
  • Issued by Thrall to Garrosh Hellscream. Garrosh lost and was killed by Thrall.[12]
  • Hans'gar and Franzok are twin brothers who were each unwilling to slay the other in Mak'gora and were banished from their clan.
  • Issued by Malus to King Gordok, but the latter refused as the opponent wasn't an ogre. Instead, Malus's companion, the ogre Throgg, challenged the King in Malus's stead, yet Malus chose to be Throgg's champion and fight. Gordok died and Malus became new King Gordok, leader of the Dire Maul Gordunni clan.[13]

Threatened Mak'gora

  • Malkorok threatened to challenge Baine Bloodhoof with Mak'gora if his objection to Garrosh's use of molten giants against Northwatch Hold was meant as an insult. Baine diffused the situation by stating he only spoke out of concern that abusing the elements in such a way may lead to another Cataclysm.[14]
  • Varok Saurfang wished to engage in a mak'gora against Garrosh Hellscream in the aftermath of the Alliance-Horde war. The deposed warchief stood accused of war crimes against Azeroth, to be judged in a courtroom presided over by the August Celestials. Saurfang believed Garrosh's earnest love for his people had earned him a right to an orcish mak'gora — in defeat, a death at Saurfang's hands; in victory, the chance to repent. Although Garrosh was not given a death penalty by the Celestials, he escaped before Saurfang's challenge could be revisited.[15]
  • Varok Saurfang attempted to challenge Malfurion Stormrage to a mak'gora to buy time during the Horde's attack on Astranaar, but Malfurion did not care for it and simply attacked him.[16]


  • A popular misconception among the fanbase is that Thrall cheated in his final mak'gora against Garrosh when he used elemental magic. However, there has never been any rule forbidding the use of magic and spells. Moreover, there is precedent for the use of magic in mak'gora, as both Shagara and Ashra made extensive use of it during their mak'gora. Thrall had also already used magic in the first mak'gora between him and Garrosh, by throwing lightning bolts.

See also