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World of Warcraft (often abbreviated as WoW) is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) by Blizzard Entertainment. It is the fourth released game set in the fantasy Warcraft universe, which was first introduced by Warcraft: Orcs & Humans in 1994. World of Warcraft takes place within the Warcraft world of Azeroth, approximately four years after the events at the conclusion of Blizzard’s previous Warcraft release, Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne. Blizzard Entertainment announced World of Warcraft on September 2, 2001. The game was released on November 23, 2004, on the 10th anniversary of the Warcraft franchise.
With 9.1 million subscribers (12 million at peak) as of August 2012, World of Warcraft is currently the world’s most-subscribed MMORPG, and holds the Guinness World Record for the most popular MMORPG by subscribers.
World of Warcraft is set in the same universe as the Warcraft series of real-time strategy games, and has a similar art direction. World of Warcraft contains elements from fantasy, steampunk, and science fiction: such as gryphons, dragons, and elves; steam-powered automata; zombies, werewolves, and other horror monsters; as well as time travel, spaceships, and alien worlds.
The Horde is one of the two major political factions of the mortal races in Azeroth, its counterpart being the Alliance. The Horde, a faction led by off-worlders and composed of outsiders has survived these obstacles by making allies with few of the native races of Azeroth or even uneasy allies. Although its ideals, policies, and beliefs have been revised and membership has changed over time, it is the same Horde inherited by Thrall through Warchief Orgrim Doomhammer. However, since the mantle of Warchief was passed on to Garrosh Hellscream, the Horde’s alliance with other races has began to suffer heavily due to Garrosh’s warmongering. A direct example of this are the Troll’s under Vol’jin leaving Orgrimmar because of Garrosh’s hunger for war and Sylvanas Windrunner ignoring the warchiefs commands and using her plague on her enemies.
The Alliance (aka Grand Alliance) is one of two major political factions of the mortal races in Azeroth, its counterpart being the Horde. The Alliance consists of powerful cultures and groups bound not by desperation or necessity, but by their deep commitments to abstract concepts like nobility and honor. The Alliance was once also known as the Alliance of Lordaeron when its leadership was centered in Lordaeron. However, the Alliance was forced to move the bulk of its forces to Kalimdor and to the southern Eastern Kingdoms continents of Khaz Modan and Azeroth after the plague of undeath ravaged the Kingdom of Lordaeron several years ago. Although the remaining living nations of Lordaeron are not as strong as they once were, they have pledged their loyalty to the Grand Alliance with the hopes of becoming strong once again. Over the course of the years new members and races have joined the Alliance furthering its united strength.