Story Telling: Branch vs Root

I’ve completed the Horde storyline for BfA.  It is quite well done, and I’d argue that it’s a better one that the Alliance version.  Mainly because it operates under a branch model, while the Alliance is a Root model.  Let’s explain this a bit.

A branch story starts from a given point and then expands to multiple lines that develop the plot and characters.  There’s a large arc, but each zone has it’s own flavor.  It’s the most common type of story, and it allows you to see the various pieces in play at almost any given time.

A root story goes the other way.  It’s a bunch of different pieces that eventually meet up in the end.  Most crime fighting novels go this route (Holmes & Poirot are very good examples).  Things do not seem at all connected until, poof, there you go.  It takes a really good writer to pull this off. Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series is a really good example.  Lost (the TV show) is an example of how that can go off the rails.  A very solid plan is required to make this work, so that the reader doesn’t feel cheated.  They can go back, look at the bits and come to the same conclusion.  (e.g. watching Memento is fun the 2nd time).

So that leaves the Horde with an expansion story, with tons of troll lore and very few Horde bits.  The Loa, Blood Trolls, and G’Huun main arcs all work well against each other, and it’s honestly a lot of fun to dig into those zones.  Mechanically there are only so many blood trolls you can kill before moving on.  And there’s next to no interactions with Sylvanas that I’ve seen so far.  Both good since the Troll storyline is really awesome, but also bad, since this entire war started because of her.

The Alliance instead gets 3 near completely distinct storylines that never truly intersect past the Drust King Gorak Thul events on the War Campaign to find Jaina.  The events in Stormsong really don’t have much impact at all on the main line.. but it does set up the Old Gods.  Drustvar… sure, a bit.  Tiragarde is golden.

Capital Cities

Ziggurats are cool to look at.  They are less cool to explore.  The Alliance “center” is relatively small and easily traversable.  Sure, there are memes about the rope ladder on the boat, and a stupidly placed fence, but it still is easy to move around.

Horde need to take a flight path from their main center of operations to their boat.  A flight path.  And then jump down and run 3x as far as any Alliance player would need to move.  It is a beautiful city that is a major pain to move around in.  So I guess like a real city?

Other Isle

I think the Alliance get the better deal here in terms of movement on the other isle and placement of activities.  Both start off with 3 spots near the coasts, and after hitting the proper reputation level, can unlock more inland flight points.  It’s that the Alliance islands have WQ that are placed more inland, or at least over much more difficult terrain than the Horde islands.  Stormsong is quite bad in terms of initial Horde bases and where the WQ spawn, with Tiragarde not too far behind.  Drustvar has nearly everything in the top left (even as Alliance I won’t do the dark forest items).

Vol’dun is passable as it’s pretty flat (cept the north).  Nazmir has most activities in the North East.  Zuldazaar is ok, if you avoid any quest in the middle of the map.  There’s a lot of vertical to do if you do end up trying.


I normally play Stormrage, which is 95% Alliance and just massive in terms of overall players (> 900,000).  I made a Horde Demon Hunter on Uldum, where the split is closer, but there are still only 50,000 Horde players.

(Side note.  Demon Hunter from 100-110 was Legion Invasions for 1.5 levels in 15 minutes of effort.  110-120 was with Azeroth Auto-Pilot to get me to the next main quest and some optional ones.  Still read the text and cut-scenes, which was good.  No dungeons or Island Expeditions.  It was painful until 111, when I had a full set of BfA green gear.  When I dinged 120, I had 26,000g and had yet to use the Auction House once.)

Three noticeable impacts of Uldum

  • The Auction House is much slower.  Prices are higher, but many items just won’t sell.
  • No guild invite spam!  I get one every 2 minutes on Stormrage.  Saw 1 total on Uldum.
  • The world feels empty.  I’d have 6-7 groups running for World Quests, now there are times when I don’t see any.  When I do meet people, it’s nice to see a split between factions.  Stormrage… I’d see one Horde per day, from another server.

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