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Old 06-17-2018, 11:34 AM
Kyalin V. Raintree Kyalin V. Raintree is offline

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Talkin' to myse-elf oh oh oh talkin' to myse-elf!
When there's no one around well then I go to town and start a-talkin' to myse-elf.

Maybe one day I'll finish that verse...

Since I have used this as a repository for scattered thoughts, I'll do so again.

Typically, when it comes to Night Elf lore, the lore construction pits the Night Elves in a much more favorable light than does the in-game representation. I think we're seeing an odd reversal of that with the Darkshore content (and for my full thoughts on that, please see the Expectations and Evaluation Criteria thread up in the lore section). I think the actual lore and logistics of the situation is far worse than how it appears.

I'm putting this up in reply to the claim that the Night Elves are putting up an admirable defense. Summoned in defense of this claim is "oh, well they're fighting four races at once!" There are a number of factors that boosters of this argument intentionally leave out. Here is an accounting for them.

Factor 1: Kalimdor's size - and the length of the invading drive

For basis, I'm going to rely on the accounting of the size of Feralas from traveler, cited in post #17, here:

So, it takes fourteen days to hike across Feralas - a similarly terrained region. I'll use some simpler math.

Average hiking speed [1]: 3mph

If we assume ten hours per day of hiking, then I get 30 miles per day - 420 miles. I am reserving time for rest, reorganization, eating and sleeping.

If the length of the drive is roughly 1.5 times the width of Feralas (look at the distance from the Mor'shan Rampart to Auberdine on the Kalimdor map -, then the drive is 630 miles long.

For reference, it's 615 miles from Berlin to Paris. It will take you 203 hours, or about 20 days as calculated. But this is just walking speed. We have to also take into account how long it takes to fight an enemy. For a very favorable example, let's take the Battle for France, which, unlike Ashenvale, passed through a mix of dense forests and open fields, and which also differs because we were dealing with mechanized armies, not armies fighting on foot. That drive took 46 days, and the starting point was certainly not Berlin. [3] The Battle for France of course is considered to be the country's most humiliating defeat - and they still catch shade for it today.

For comparative purposes, the average speed of a caravel was 4 knots. This allows them to cover about 90-100 miles per day. That is to say that the Night Elven fleet, if we assume 20 days walking time (which is silly and unrealistic) - would have covered 1,800-2,000 miles compared to the Horde's 615 [4]. If they are halfway to Silithus, this gives them about five days to be in Darkshore once they are contacted.

Again for comparison, the average speed of a California condor is 55mph. I think this is an appropriate measure for hippogryph flyers. [5] This makes them able to cover the distance of the battlespace in a little over a day, again assuming ten hours per day of movement time. This is important because it underlines how quickly the Night Elves should be able to send a message to their commanders. When we add in the sort of instantaneous communication that is evidently possible with Hearthstones (consider the Alliance MOP intro cinematic), those times shrink even further.

In summary, communication takes a day and change, reinforcements by sea can arrive much faster than the overland attack can proceed, and the sort of blitzkrieg that people might assume Sylvanas's attack to be took 46 days to cover half of the distance with the benefit of a mechanized army and a proper air force. Given that the Horde does stop to fight, I will charitably assume that it should take the Horde 50 days to complete their offensive - and this is assuming the best conditions.

Factor 2: Ashenvale's terrain:

Unlike France, Ashenvale and Darkshore are almost entirely dense forests. To discuss their impact, I would consult the observations of the German army in their war against Russia. [6] It took Operation Barbarossa five months to put that army outside of Moscow [8], which, if we take the distance from Warsaw to Moscow as the guide - 784 miles [7], means that to cover 630 miles, roughly 80% of the distance above - through forest it should take four months, or 120 days. This was at a time when the Russian military was highly disorganized, and in chaos after their own problems fighting the Finns during the winter war. You can see that the Russians took about five times the casualties of the Germans, and began the war with fewer numbers of trained military personnel. If we assume the four to one ratio, this situation is an appropriate benchmark.

I'm confident therefore in turning 20 days into four months as a reasonable timeframe, especially considering that Night Elves are supposed to be unusually talented at forest and guerrilla warfare - of the sort that bogged down the Russian Army during the winter war. When we get into four months, we have more than enough time for reinforcements from every corner of the globe to arrive in Darkshore. Caravels, which I consider to be too slow of a comparison for the era of the ships that we see, but that I'm using anyway for reasons of conservatism, can travel 10,800 miles in that time (90*120 days). This is just shy of a round trip from Los Angeles to Tokyo [9]. Given near-instantaneous communication, and that I'm comparing the Night Elf defense to the abysmal one that the Russians put up against the Germans at the beginning of World War II, there is more than enough time for the "entire Alliance" to swing into the fight. But they don't.

Factor 3: It isn't four against one, it's four against three

This one shouldn't take me as long to go through. The heavy lifting for the most part is done. Dovetailing with the information mentioned above is the complete absence of the Worgen and the Draenei, also in Kalimdor, from the fight. There's no reason for their exclusion other than "the writers chose not to put them there". I don't consider this to be reasonable unless the attack was far more rapid and far more dramatic than is physically possible.

Factor 4 - Concentrations

One problem with waging an attack is that you have to leave some of your military behind in order to defend your own territory. Defenders don't have the same problem because they are engaging using the military forces that were left behind. In assembling an attack force, the Horde has an added problem of having military forces in Silithus, and they have to have some there both to harvest the Azerite and to keep a target for the diversionary action. Saying "it's four races against one" therefore assumes unrealistic concentrations of force that we don't just not see here, but that we've never seen, and that would be ridiculous to assume in any situation. You can only attack a country with a portion of your military - not the whole thing, especially when the front you're attacking on is not the only spot in which you are fighting.

Factor 5: Expertise

I touched on this earlier, but it's worth pointing out again that the Night Elves are at their most powerful in the kind of forested environment that the Horde is charging through. It's not just that they are adept at guerilla tactics and forest warfare. It's not just that they've aligned their military to perform well in that environment over the past ten-thousand years. The druids and the ancients are also involved in this fight, and they too are at their most powerful in the sort of environment in which this fight takes place - and their powers include the literal control and weaponization of the very environment that the Horde is passing through.

Consideration 1: How long does the Horde's attack actually last?

If we use the quests as a guide, no concrete numbers are given, but the text implies a length of time that suggests that Night Elf commanders and leaders are just learning about the attack by the time the Horde has passed through Ashenvale. Assuming flat walking speed and comparing this with the width of Feralas, at least a week has passed before anyone knew anything. If it takes a day or less to inform someone - and by that time the Horde has already gotten to the border of Darkshore - we're into two weeks. This is assuming that it took the Horde no time at all to eliminate all resistance from the Mor'shan Rampart to Astraanar during that time, and that at no point they were noticed (which is immediately contradicted by Elegy). I'm going to come out and say that a fourteen day travel period for an entire army is way too long for it to go unnoticed, especially for defenders that have the benefit of either being able to contact anyone and everyone along the length of the battlespace in a day, and who also enjoy instantaneous communication as discussed earlier.

The quests do not appear to imply a length of time that's four months, a month, or even fourteen days. Throughout the questing, the Night Elves are just learning about the attack and are just now moving in forces from Darnassus to attempt to counter it. A day might be too soon, but a week is too much given the apparent rapidity implied by the quests - for an offensive that under the best conditions for the Horde should take them four months - which by itself gives them the benefit of a more modern army and the inexplicable absence of the Draenei and the Worgen.

Consideration 2: Gamescale

The immediate retort I might get from this is the idea that distances have been scaled down because following a 630 mile offensive would be grueling and exhausting, and that this should explain the lack of Alliance reinforcements or the apparent rapidity of the attack. I think this argument implies a sort of reverse fish-eye effect, where gamescale DOES apply in one segment, but DOESN'T apply in others. As an argument I find that inconsistent and hence inadmissible. If you are going to shrink the world for gamescale, you should do that evenly, meaning that the proportions apply in how long the overland offensive takes, and how long it takes to bring reinforcements in. To do otherwise is simply to say "well, the writers didn't want to bring reinforcements in" - which is a statement on their priorities rather than the reasonableness of the scenario.


In summary, the more I go to crunch the numbers on the reasonableness of this offensive, especially when we consider how long it should take reinforcements to arrive, the more ridiculous it appears. If instantaneous communication (and in some cases transportation - see Tyrande's presence in the zone) wasn't a thing, it would be different, but it is. Sylvanas completes a 630 mile drive through heavily forested terrain against an enemy that inexplicably doesn't have the aid of its local allies, that should be at its best in the terrain Sylvanas is moving through, and this happens in a space of time that can't exceed a week - maybe two if we're being generous. To put it bluntly, the Horde's success in this attack is ridiculous, which marks an interesting reversal of the usual trend of Night Elf presentation being better than the underlying lore.


[1] -

[2] -,+Germany/Paris,+France/@50.8442123,4.9952586,6.69z/data=!4m15!4m14!1m5!1m1!1s0x47a84e373f035901:0x421 20465b5e3b70!2m2!1d13.404954!2d52.5200066!1m5!1m1! 1s0x47e66e1f06e2b70f:0x40b82c3688c9460!2m2!1d2.352 2219!2d48.856614!3e2!4e1








Last edited by Kyalin V. Raintree; 06-17-2018 at 11:37 AM..
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