Countdown to Shadowlands Day 8 - Three World of Warcraft leaders I respect and admire
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Hello everyone and welcome to day 8 of my 30 Day World of Warcraft Challenge that is counting down the days to the release of Shadowlands! Every day in November I will be posting about World of Warcraft based on the prompt list below. Today’s prompt is ‘leader’ and I’m discussing World of Warcraft leaders I respect and admire.

I’d love for you to join me in my countdown to Shadowlands and you can do so in any way you wish. I wanted this challenge to be open to all players whether they be raiders, casual, new to the game or veterans. It’s also completely open to interpretation as to how you respond to the challenge; write it, draw it, vlog it, post it on social media, whatever works for you.

Day 8 – Leader

When considering what leaders I admired and respected I found myself casting quite a few World of Warcraft characters out of the running. I liked those characters well enough and I enjoyed their personal storylines, but did I admire and respect them? The answer was not really, not on a personal level. It was more on a ‘well, this character has done all this and is super powerful, they’re a really good leader of their people’ – a perspective completely devoid of any real emotion. I didn’t feel what they felt, I didn’t cry along with them or cheer with them. Or want to smack them on the head when they were complete numpties because that’s one thing I realised; for me a leader I respect and admire is flawed and they recognise those flaws and grow from them.

Two characters who didn’t make this post are two I’ve already spoken about. You can read my post about Jaina Proudmoore for the Characters that Define Us collaboration here, and I talked about Anduin back in this Seriously Geeky Sundays post.

 

Countdown to Shadowlands Day 8 - Three World of Warcraft leaders I respect and admire: Mayla Highmountain

Mayla Highmountain

From the first time I met Mayla, I was struck by the strength of her character and a big heart. When her father died Mayla turned to her allies, the other clan chieftains and found herself alone. Each chieftain feared Dargrul the Underking’s power as he had gained possession of The Hammer of Khaz’goroth and could not spare any aid as they needed to protect their own lands and people. Rather than give up Mayla shouldered her newfound responsibilities and looked at the big picture; what needed to be done to get the aid she needed?

Others in her position would have floundered, they would have panicked and let doubts take over. Anytime she does have doubts she uses them, letting them propel her to action. Mayla takes everything in her stride, including finding out that her advisor is really a black dragon. She thinks calmly and carefully, but with a clear moral conscience. When is arrested she questions her decision to join a Horde who punishes those who act with honour and compassion. Despite being a new member of the Horde Mayla didn’t hesitate to join the revolution against Sylvanas, someone who stood for everything that she had always fought against. Her belief in what is important means more to her than worrying about her people’s place in the horde, and that is why I admire and respect Mayla Highmountain.

Countdown to Shadowlands Day 8 - Three World of Warcraft leaders I respect and admire: Rhonin

Rhonin

Long before Rhonin appeared in-game during Wrath of the Lich King, I was reading about his adventures in the World of Warcraft novels. Rhonin doesn’t really do much in-game and is really mostly known for shouting in Dalaran when players hand in the Algalon quest. It’s a real shame because long before he became the leader of the Kirin Tor he did a lot of amazing things that gave him the experience and wisdom to become an incredible leader.

Way back in the second world war he was part of a mission with Krasus, Vereesa, and Falstad that ultimately destroyed the Demon Soul and resulted in the release of the Red Dragon Aspect (and Krasus’ mate) Alexstraza. A few years later Krasus called upon the mage again for help when he found a strange rift in time. Along with the orc Broxigar, both Krasus and Rhonin ended up being swallowed up by the rift and sent back in time 10,000 years to the War of the Ancients. There they fought alongside legendary heroes and beings as the Burning Legion invaded Azeroth for the first time, and he and his companions were instrumental in helping defeat them. He would once again join Krasus in other monumental battles, against the Black Dragonflight in Night of the Dragon and later against the Blue Dragon Aspect, Malygos in Wrath of the Lich King.

It is ironic that a mage who was once the black sheep of the order became one of the most well-respected leaders of the Kirin Tor order. After a reckless use of magic during a mission resulted in the deaths of his fellow magi, Rhonin was placed on probation until Krasus offered him the chance to redeem himself. He did more than that, he and his companions saved Azeroth several times only. A far cry from the young mage whose ego led to a disastrous and tragic use of magic. He could have quite easily have ended up a guy with an even bigger ego, and yet he ended up a leader I respect and admire.

Along the way Rhonin didn’t just find love and start a family, he also saw that the world was much bigger than just himself and being the best mage ever. He was in the thick of some of the most harrowing experiences ever to have happened in the history of Azeroth, and to think of what he had witnessed; it’s no surprise that when the threat of Yogg Saron loomed he pleaded with the alliance and the horde to also see the bigger picture. When they failed to do so he wondered who would be Azeroth’s hope this time.

In Tides of War Rhonin died saving others, and also thinking of the future. He knew of the prophecy that foretold Jaina would be the next leader of the Kirin Tor and believed in it to the point that he saved her over himself. To the very end, his thoughts were for others.

Countdown to Shadowlands Day 8 - Three World of Warcraft leaders I respect and admire: Kurdran Wildhammer

Kurdran Wildhammer

One of the heroes who went through the dark portal twenty years ago, Kurdran survived the destruction of Draenor and lived on Outland. When the portal was reopened he returned to find that everything had changed and everyone had mourned him, then on. His old friend Falstad was now High Thane of the Wildhammer Clan, and Dark Irons were in Ironforge following Moira Thaurissian’s return to the city. As a result of her attack on the city the leader of the alliance, King Varian had ruled that the Dwarves would be ruled by a council compromised of the three clans. In a foolish moment that he would later regret, Kurdran nominated himself as the Wildhammer representative, declaring that he was the only dwarf fit for the job.

In the events that followed, Kurdran began to feel even more unwelcome in the city. Wildhammers were naturally not fond of living underground and everywhere he turned he and his clan were being taunted, being called ‘butterflies’ by other dwarves. Things came to a head when a plan to reforge the legendary Hammer of the Kings was put into motion as a testament to the unity of the clans. The plan, an ancient scroll found in Ironforge’s library, called for Modimus’s hammer, a relic that had belonged to the Wildhammer clan for generations. It was also a weapon that Kurdran had a personal attachment to it as he had taken it with him to Outland and used it in many battles. The thought of giving it up didn’t just hurt his Wildhammer pride; he was struggling with how it made him feel like as a veteran of the Dark Portal.

Before the Hammer of Kings could be remade it was discovered that the plans for reforging were in fact fake but Moira and Muradin, the rest of the council, believed that the reforging still had to take place. It had become such a controversial issue with tensions rising throughout the city that if it didn’t happen things would only get worse. Unhappy with going through with the lie, Kurdran left and went to visit his gryphon Sky’ree.

Sky’ree had laid eggs after returning from Outland but had been ill ever since. While visiting the gryphon nests a group of Dark Irons antagonised the Wildhammers and the gryphons until Sky’ree was hit by one of their kegs. Unable to control his growing rage Kurdran punched the Dark Iron, starting a fight. During the fight, a brazier was knocked over and the entire area went up in flames. In her weakened state Sky’ree was unable to save her eggs, and she resisted aid from the other gryphons, choosing to remain on her nest in a desperate attempt to shield them. Ultimately she failed, and both gryphon and her eggs perished.

Heartbroken Kurdan choose to steal back  Modimus’s hammer and was caught in the act by Moira. It became evident that everything that had happened to Kurdan and his clan had been due to Moira’s machinations, including the planted fake plans for the reforging of the Hammer of the Kings. Everything had been designed to make the Wildhammer clan feel isolated and push him to either leave Ironforge or do something to get himself removed from the city and the council.

Instead of the revelation along with a punch in the face from Muradin and news that one of Sky’ree’s eggs had survived the fire, after all, had the completely opposite result. At the reforging the next day Kurdran admitted he was the one who had stolen Modimus’s hammer, explaining why and his own shortcomings. He then used his stormhammer to shatter it, calling for a new weapon to be made instead of an old one. In doing so he not only united the clans and resolved the tension that had been brewing in Ironforge, he singlehandedly undermined everything that Moira had tried to do.

Kurdran remained in Ironforge long enough to fix one last wrong and probably his biggest; Falstad. Apologising to his old friend and admitting his mistake, he asked him to take over from him as clan representative on the council. When Falstad replied joking that he couldn’t believe he was asking him to do that without even having a pint waiting for him, Kurdran was humbled and awestruck by the other dwarf’s capacity for forgiveness. He recognised him as a wise leader who would take the Wildhammer Clan far.

With plans to stop by the human city of Stormwind and meet King Varian, players meet Kurdran again in Cataclysm in Twilight Highlands. There he is the ruler of the alliance base, Highbank, and he aids them in uniting the Wildhammer clans of the region to fight beneath the alliance banner. As a part of that storyline, he offers Sky’ree’s last egg as a wedding gift at the wedding of Keegan Firebeard and Fanny Thundermar.

What I admire and respect about Kurdran is his ability to accept his own failures and learn from them. He’s as stubborn as all dwarves are, yet rather than just running off with Modimus’s hammer or pretend that he hadn’t stolen it, he straight-up owned his mistake. Kurdran also chose not to implicate Moira, instead outsmarting her rather than playing further into her hands. He shows similar smarts in Wolfheart when the Council of Three Hammers visit Darnassus to vote whether Gilneas should be allowed to rejoin the Alliance. To save an argument and loss of face over which dwarven representative should enter first, Kurdran proposes a game of chance. He then rigs the game so that the Bronzebeard representative won, the Dark Iron came second and he lost.

His reaction to returning to a changed world is understandable, and once he found his place in it Kurdran has returned to being the hero he was known to be. Giving up Sky’ree’s egg to aid the union of Wildhammer clans is a gesture that would not have gone unnoticed by his fellow clanmates who had undoubtedly heard tales of the mighty Sky’ree. It was a precious gift that speaks volumes to his love for his clan.

Over to You

Ah, yes, they’re mostly Alliance characters. That’s the problem with mainly been an Alliance player for 16 years. While I’m familiar with their horde counterparts I just don’t feel a strong bond with their leaders. I haven’t fought beside them, I haven’t been given quests by them or seen them at their best and their worst (and if I have it’s been from a one-sided perspective). I’ve also saved some of the horde leaders I considered for this prompt for later prompts.

How about you; what World of Warcraft leader is your favourite?

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Next up tomorrow is ‘dwarf’ and I’ll be talking about some of my favourite dwarves from the game and beyond.

What will day 30 be?!

Day 30 is a freebie and my choice of topic, however, I can’t decide! I need your help narrowing down my options so I’m putting my four options up for a vote in polls over on Twitter. The second two options are up this week, and the winner will go head to head with the winner from week one (Shadowlands Glow-Up appearances) in a final showdown next week.

Get involved and head over to the poll below to cast your vote now!

Countdown to Shadowlands Day 8 - Three World of Warcraft leaders I respect and admire: It's day 8 of my 30 day World of Warcraft challenge and for the first post about characters I'm talking about World of Warcraft leaders that I respect and admire.

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