Warcraft III Beta Report: The Orcish Horde
How do the orcs stack up against the humans? How have they evolved since Warcraft II? Read our report on the orcish horde to find out.
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The orcs were favored by a majority of Warcraft II players because of how powerful some of their units were in that game. It wasn't hard at all to create a group of bloodlusted ogre-mages that could overwhelm just about anything. Now that the orcs have returned in this third game of the series--and no longer have ogres on their side--many players are undoubtedly wondering whether or not the faction can continue its dominant ways.
Many different types of warriors make up the orcish ranks in Warcraft III, although there is no shortage of the classic green-skinned orcs. Seemingly endless numbers of orcs and trolls make up the faction's foot soldiers, while the towering tauren provide the heavy support. A variety of beasts accompany the horde into battle, so lack of variety should not be a concern for those who play as the orcs Warcraft III. There are three different heroes available, all with their own distinct style and set of remarkable capabilities. The powerful tauren chieftain embodies the orcish style of play, while the blademaster is a finesse character inspired by Diablo II's whirlwinding barbarian. Meanwhile, the far seer is one of the most dangerous magic users in the game, boasting incredible area-effect spells and unsurpassed scouting capabilities. These heroes will form the backbone of every orc army.
But what can the orcs bring to the table in Warcraft III that could possibly fight off the superior technological capabilities of the humans and the magic of their elven counterparts? What will inspire fear in their enemies, now that they do battle without their ogre-mages? We examine the many different facets of the orcish horde next.
The Orcish Forces
Advancing toward the more costly units will grant you access to the bestiary structure, and with it, the orc horde's mobile forces. Wolf riders are a select group of orcs who have proven capable of fighting astride a savage wolf, both with their melee weapons and with their weighted nets, which can immobilize ground forces and flying targets alike. Wyvern riders are among the orcish elite--they fly high above the battlefield, tossing envenomed spears while atop their lionlike mounts, which tear apart enemy aerial and ground forces with claws and fangs.
The orcs' largest monstrosity is the imposing kodo beast. The great monster currently can't attack (Blizzard plans to change this), instead serving as a mount for an orcish war drummer, but it can be bid to devour any single enemy. Unless the kodo beast is quickly slain by its enemies, the devoured enemy will be slowly digested. As for the war drummer, he boosts the base attacks of all units in his vicinity. Blizzard plans to give the kodo beast's drummer other abilities as well. While not equipped with the complex machinery of the humans, the orcish army can surprise its foes with some of the inventions at its disposal. To lay waste to enemy encampments, you can wheel out the catapult, which accurately lobs devastating fireballs great distances.
The orcs would fall prey to the spellcasting forces of their enemies if they didn't have magic of their own, and a variety of spell-flinging options are available. The witch doctor is the more calculating of the two spellcasters, with spells that are most effective when used in the best possible location. Their stasis trap spell can immobilize units foolhardy enough to walk through it, while their sentry ward can be used to spy upon the enemy. Meanwhile, their ancestral guardian spell summons a powerful hydra that spits acid at any target within range, and it's especially effective when used within an enemy encampment. The orc shaman is the witch doctor's spiritual counterpart, and he works a different brand of magic. His purge spell negates all beneficial effects an enemy has and also slows it down. The lightning shield spell in an excellent defensive and offensive weapon, as it encircles a friendly unit with bolts of damaging energy. The shaman is also the orcs' source for the classic bloodlust spell--as in Warcraft II, it increases both the speed and the rate of attack of allied troops. Bloodlusted units even grow larger in size.
They may be impressive on paper, but how effective is the orcish horde when matched up against a real enemy? Find out about our experiences while playing with the orcs next.
Gathering the Horde
While a number of options are available to orc players in Warcraft III, some of the tried-and-true strategies from previous games work just as well as before. The grunt rush remains a viable tactic against some players, as pumping out a large group of relatively powerful orcish soldiers for a suicidal surprise attack can easily catch an opponent unawares. The orcs in the lower spectrum of the hierarchy are remarkably cost-effective, and they're easily maintained and replaced. Creating a constant flow of soldiers willing to throw their lives upon enemy defenses is a very orcish way to play, and it can prove both satisfying and effective.
Mad rushes aren't the only effective way to play as the orcs, although with the new upkeep system in place, it may seem to be. When opposing players rely upon an abundance of ground units, the defensive capabilities of the orc buildings becomes readily apparent. Even the lowliest of pig farms is capable of causing considerable damage to enemies when spiked barricades have been researched--this technology causes all close-quarters combat units to absorb damage when attacking orc structures.
Within the horde, even the lowliest of greenskins is expected to raise arms against the enemy, and the orc burrow facilitates this strategy. In an emergency, peons can be ushered into these defensive battlements, where they can begin tossing many a pointy stick. While perhaps not on par with the human guard towers, the defensive capabilities of orc encampments are not something to be trifled with.
Particular attention should also be paid to the powerful beasts that the orcs have at their disposal. Orcish wolf riders are extremely mobile, and they're at least as powerful as standard foot soldiers. Their greatest asset is their ensnare ability, which can trap an otherwise unreachable aerial target, dragging it down within arm's reach. The kodo beast also deserves a second look by prospective commanders--one beast can turn the tide of a battle by devouring a troublesome enemy hero in a single gulp.
The magic of the orcs can be used in particularly troublesome ways as well. The orcs are quite capable magically, due to the great number of area-effect spells at their disposal. The witch doctor's ancestral guardian spell can be used to wreak undue amounts of havoc when cast within the confines of an enemy encampment, damaging buildings and killing workers with ease. It should also go without saying that the far seer's chain lightning spell can likewise work wonders on large enemy forces. While they have no ogre-mages this time around, the orcs do have shamans who can cast bloodlust on their strongest heroes, thus greatly increasing the amount of damage these units can inflict.
The orcs have always proven to be more than a match for their human counterparts, and their expanded repertoire of capabilities in Warcraft III makes them a promising choice. There are many different ways to approach launching an offensive with the orcs, and their heroes boast impressive powers that will be interesting to explore. While the new races have many wondrous abilities of their own, the orcs are far more than an old standby, and they should prove to be a contender throughout the life of Warcraft III.