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One World of Warcraft fan spent four years refusing to sign up for the game’s big wars

A conscientious objector

World of Warcraft - a tauren and human fight at the Siege of Lordaeron Image: Blizzard Entertainment
Cass Marshall is a news writer focusing on gaming and culture coverage, taking a particular interest in the human stories of the wild world of online games.

When the factions of Azeroth rallied to war, and the Horde called every warrior to their banners, one player bravely refused. Sylvanas Windrunner was in charge, and she had new orders to give in the forms of story quests and expansion content that most World of Warcraft players will explore. But not Scolex. Scolex has spent two expansions as a paladin in a shadow realm where the story hasn’t advanced, because playing through the new content could be seen as an endorsement of Windrunner’s reign.

You could consider Scolex a conscientious objector left behind in a mere shell of the world. They don’t regret the decision at all.

At the beginning of Legion, the Warchief of the Horde died in battle. Vol’jin was a fan-favorite character — who came back as a mystery-solving ghost — and players were devastated. In his final moments, Vol’jin put Sylvanas Windrunner in the Warchief chair.

“Sylvanas was always a spiteful person governed by revenge, using cheap tactics in battle and always looking out for herself and her people. ‘Her people’ never encompassed the horde,” Scolex tells Polygon over a direct message conversation. “[My paladin] surmised that [Sylvanas] treats her subjects as pawns, rather than equals. After Vol’jin’s death he couldn’t believe he was expected to pledge allegiance to a person such as Sylvanas instead of Saurfang, an old comrade in arms with whom he defended the scarab wall or Eitrigg, the wise elder who advised him while growing up.”

And so Scolex just never completed the Legion introduction quests where you witness Sylvanas’ introduction to the Horde and start taking her orders. “[My tauren] did what he wanted — paid respects to his old friend, and never pledged to any Warchief after.”

Image: Blizzard Entertainment via Scolex

As Battle for Azeroth progressed, this started looking like an incredibly wise decision. Sylvanas started off the expansion with a genocide, then followed it up by turning Horde soldiers into skeletons and plague-bombing her own city to spite the Alliance. Later, she ordered a lot of assassinations and then yelled that she thought the Horde was hot garbage in front of everyone, which was kind of a ‘you can’t fire me; I quit!’ move.

World of Warcraft tells these stories through phasing, where quest progress will advance the time-state of the world around players. For instance, a player can start a quest in a forest that’s on fire, and then, after they complete it, the forest will be dry and safe. For Scolex, their version of the Horde city of Orgrimmar was stuck in a pre-Legion phase.

That meant Scolex was locked out of the game’s main narrative content, including the War Campaign, the Battle of the Thorns, and countless cutscenes. Instead, they had to level off of side content and avoid anything to do with the Horde main quest. It was a much quieter experience, but Scolex found it oddly peaceful.

“The city streets weren’t so crowded, no lines in the Auction House, bankers weren’t behind their banks, but the gates of Grommash Hold and it’s politics mumbo jumbo were barred,” they said. “Everything was more laid back and life was good.”

Now, the Horde has ousted Sylvanas, and started a Council that includes figures like Lilian Voss, Ji Firepaw, and Thrall. That’s not what convinced Scolex to finally rejoin the Horde, though. They write in their Reddit post, “Sadly, now it’s time for him to pledge because i don’t feel like leveling another Tauren to get the heritage armor and the NPCs won’t show.”

They added, “RIP sweet prince, you were loyal to the end.”

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