It has almost become a tradition – or a sport of sorts – for some players to take to the forums after even the most miniscule of changes to World of Warcraft and bemoan the state of the game in general, and the “clear” and “obvious” Horde bias of the writers in particular.
For the sake of argument and entertainment, let’s see if this theory bears out in Hearthstone. While Hearthstone has no factions in the way that Warcraft does, there still are races represented as Hearthstone Heroes that are typically associated with either Alliance or Horde. Then there is the matter of the number of heroes: there are nine.
Nine heroes are easier to lay out from a visual standpoint, but for balance purposes an uneven number is trickier: in this case, at first glance five races are associated with the Horde compared to four on the Alliance side.
Horde bias? Not so fast.
There is a far more interesting point to consider: some races (Dwarfs, Gnomes, Tauren, Undead, Goblins, Worgen and Pandaren) are not represented at all. There is however an over-representation of two races in particular: Orcs and humans. This harkens back to the very early days of Warcraft, when Orcs and humans were the two main forces pitted against each other.
It is not surprising then that out of the nine heroes three are Orcs, and three are human. Add to that Rexxar the hunter, who has an interesting biography, and Malfurion Stormrage, who is thousands of years old and – let’s be honest here – far above those little squabbles that beset the Orcs and humans.
Then there is Valeera Sanguinar, a former High Elf turned Blood Elf who fought alongside Varian Wrynn in the Orgrimmar arena as gladiator early in life. In essence, she falls on both sides of the fence. She is our “double agent”, the Blood Elf who lives in Stormwind. She performs the balancing act needed to bring a sense of “neutrality” to this set of Hearthstone heroes.
In the end, it isn’t about balance and neutrality, though. Everything in Hearthstone is themed around the spirit of player versus player competition, from one-on-one battles to the rebranding of the tame-sounding The Forge to The Arena. While World of Warcraft has started to include more laid back activities as of late, the original game was a map by map all-out fight for survival. It was pure, simple, and raw. Two forces enter, one emerges victoriously.
And that’s Hearthstone. No factions, no armies. No bias. Just hero against hero until one is left standing.