With patch 5.4 and the Siege of Orgrimmar on the horizon, the popular past time amongst World of Warcraft bloggers with an interest in lore has been to speculate about who will replace the soon to be killed Garrosh Hellscream as the leader of the Horde. The usual suspects include all of the other faction leaders and there are good points to be made for and against each. Vol'jin seems to be the most popular choice although it is far from a consensus pick. Arguments have all been made for Sylvannas, Lor'themar, and even Baine Bloodhoof. I haven't seen anyone suggest Gallywix yet, but that would certainly be amusing. Needless to say there is quite a lot of interest among players in terms of who will be the next Warchief. So with that in mind I thought I would indulge in a little speculation of my own and throw out my pick. (Disclaimer: As I basically "sat out" Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria to a degree, it is entirely possible I overlooked something in the recent lore that totally invalidates this pick. I did search through WoWWiki and other sources to see if I missed anything. So... this might all be meaningless. If so, please let me know in the comments what I overlooked.)
The Usual Suspect
So my pick is really something of a "dark horse," but it comes down to some well-reasoned logic in my mind. First, I think the new Warchief has to be an Orc. Regardless of Garrosh's misdeeds and the large number of Orcs who followed him, the Orcs remain the largest and most powerful military force within the Horde overall. And again regardless of Garrosh's actions, I do not see the remainder of the Orcs agreeing to follow a non-Orc Warchief, even if it were a respected veteran like Vol'jin. And I certainly cannot see them following a corpse (Sylvannas) or an elf (Lor'themar) or a child (Baine). So that pretty much disqualifies all the other racial faction leaders within the Horde. If the new Warchief has to be an Orc, then of course the first place to turn would be to a former Warchief, the shaman Thrall.
Right off the bat, I don't think Thrall would accept the position even if it were offered to him. It doesn't seem to fit where his character is right now. Yes he did attempt to set things right on his own and correct his mistake by confronting Garrosh, but I don't see him returning to the primary leadership position within the Horde. I think he is more focused on the shamanistic aspects of his character right now (not to mention his child). Now if the new Warchief wanted him as an adviser of sorts, I could certainly see Thrall agreeing to give his wisdom and support in that fashion, but a return to the Warchief's throne just doesn't seem to fit with where Thrall's character is right now. In addition to that, he may view his initial decision to put Garrosh in charge as "proof" that he is no longer suitable to lead the Horde as a whole. If he could make such a bad decision, then he should not be the leader. So if Thrall doesn't want the job and all the other Horde faction leaders are unsuitable for various reasons, who does that leave?
The Man for the Job
Varok Saurfang is an almost perfect choice in my mind. I don't think there is an Orc left alive that has "been there, done that, got the t-shirt" more than Saurfang. He was with Grom Hellscream and drank the blood of Mannoroth. He razed the cities of the Draenei. He marched through the Dark Portal. He fought at Blackrock Mountain. He suffered in the internment camps. He helped Thrall assemble the new Horde. He led the assault against Ahn'Qiraj. He fought in Northrend. He carried the corpse of his son from the ramparts of Icecrown Citadel. You name it, he's done it. He has seen the depths that the Orcs can sink to. He has seen the heights they can ascend to. No other Orc that I can think of has the depth of experience, wisdom, and tenacity of Saurfang. Not only would he command the respect of the Orcs themselves, but he has the experience and battlefield clout to command the respect of the other factions within the Horde itself. I can't think of many others right now that would stand toe-to-toe with Sylvannas and try to keep her in her place.
Would Saurfang take the job? That's somewhat unclear. As near as I can tell, Saurfang has basically "sat things out" since the conclusion of the Northrend campaign. I haven't seen any major references to him or any activities on his part in either Cataclysm or Mists of Pandaria. While I cannot imagine that he would have supported Garrosh in any way, I think this can be interpreted as Varok simply isolating himself in Northrend and mourning his son's death. Now again as I noted in my disclaimer it is entirely possible I overlooked something here and Saurfang has had some role in what has happened since the death of the Lich King. But since I couldn't find anything to that effect, my whole argument basically rests on the assumption that he has kept to himself in Northrend while events in Pandaria have played themselves out. I think his sense of honor and responsibility would carry the day and if he were approached with the offer of leadership, he would accept it in an effort to serve the Orcish people.
One of the "myths" about WoW these days is that it has become a "lobby game" where one just queues up for various activities and never really ventures outside the major cities, both while leveling and at the level cap. This is something I have talked about myself here before. Well, now that I am back in the game for a while, I thought that while I am enjoying the new Siege of Orgrimmar content that I could also run a bit of an "experiment" on the side. Is is really feasible to level a character entirely through queued activities like dungeons and battlegrounds? Or would you still be better off out questing in the broader game world? So I rolled a brand new character and my intention is to level him entirely "through the queue," using only dungeons and battlegrounds. Obviously I'll have to do a few quests here and there to get to the minimum level to use those features, but my goal is to not quest at all once I can do so. And to really test the theory, I rolled a pure DPS character, a mage. No quick queue times by playing as a tank or healer for this guy. So in the end we'll see if this is truly a better leveling path, or if it is just a "myth" propagated by those who dislike how Blizzard has implemented features like LFD.