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The Ghost of Prince Liam - Hearthstone's Take on Warcraft Lore
11/04/2018 à 06:11
The release of “The Witchwood”, Hearthstone’s upcoming expansion, is near, and the new set brings a ton of old and new friends from the World of Warcraft with it. The setting’s fantasy revolves around the Witchwood, or, as WoW players may know it, the Blackwald, a small forest on Gilneas. On last Monday's final reveal stream, one revealed card particularly stands out:
, Genn Greymane's dead son, seems to make a return in one of Blizzard's franchises.
With the newest expansion, Hearthstone tries to shape the history of Warcraft like it never did before. What is in store for World of Warcraft lore fans with the release of “The Witchwood”, what happens to the Worgen, and what does Liam have to do with it?
, a writer for Wowhead's sister site Hearthstone Top Decks, and I'll be explaining the Warcraft lore behind Hearthstone's latest expansion. If you just want to check the newest card reveals of Hearthstone's upcoming expansion "The Witchwood", don't hesitate to head over to
has also been updated and is ready for you to theorycraft the newest decks!
Hearthstone lore in World of Warcraft so far
Gilneas is one of the most lore-stacked places in the Warcraft universe, and that is something that Team 5 took to their advantage to tell the story around the Witchwood.
Throughout the last two years, Hearthstone went away from being Warcraft’s “lore copycat” and added its own flavor of lore figures in the Warcraft universe; but most of the times, those additions to the World of Warcraft were of light-hearted nature.
Recently, these additions started to become more serious: With the release of Whispers of the Old Gods, one of the four Old Gods, N'Zoth, who has never directly appeared in WoW, has been revealed as a legendary minion card. The release of N'zoth was nothing less than a
towards his involvement with Azshara and Deathwing, the storyline that got confirmed by the
Warcraft Chronicles Volume 3
just a few days ago.
Another sign of Hearthstone altering the World of Warcraft was the initial data-mining of
, a Tortollan pet that will come with the collector’s edition of Battle for Azeroth. In the new upcoming WoW expansion both Horde and Alliance players can interact with several Tortollan NPCs and
their faction on Zandalar
. That only shows that the once Hearthstone-exclusive race seems to play an important role in the Battle for Azeroth.
The History of Gilneas and the Worgen
With the reveal of the newest expansion being set in Gilneas, hopes were high that Hearthstone continues to deliver new and unique lore.
With that being said, it is important to note that “The Witchwood” plays in a very late timeline of Gilnean history. Looking back, Gilneas and the Worgen race in particular, which also plays a starring role in the upcoming expansion, had to go through numerous turmoils in the past:
Once a loyal ally during the Second War, Genn Greymane decided to part ways with the Alliance after disagreements about the costly upkeep of orc internment camps with Terenas Menethil. As some sort of ultimate consequence, Genn decided to build the Greymane Wall, trying to protect his land and people. What started as a political border quickly turned into a life insurance for all Gilneans because the wall protected the peninsula from the Forsaken and all other external harms.
As the Cataclysm happened, Greymane Wall got destroyed and no longer offered enough defense against the threats luring outside of Gilneas. More and more Gilneans got infected with the Worgen curse, including the king himself, and the Forsaken invaded the lands of Genn Greymane. Luckily enough, the Gilneans found a way to partially cure the Worgen curse, but the Forsaken problem still remained.
In the end it was the night-elves that managed to bring Gilneas back into the Alliance. They were responsible for the Worgen curse due to the evil-doings of the Druids of the Scythe, and therefore responsible for the future of Gilneas itself. While Genn and his people tried to fend off the Forsaken, rejoining the alliance was their only hope to turn the tides; and while Varian Wrynn, King of Stormwind and leader of the Alliance, wanted to decline the Worgen to join his alliance first, both Malfurion and Tyrande convinced him to accept the Gilneans’ bid.
What happened in The Witchwood?
Fast forward to the Witchwood storyline: Looking at the art style behind cards, it seems that the expansion takes place during the later years after the Third War and all the other mentioned events.
Genn Greymane’s card art depicts him as the experienced grey worgen as we know him from the recent Battle for Azeroth trailer, and Lord Godfrey is shown as the gunslinging Undead mage protecting Shadowfang Keep from the Worgen and the Forsaken. All that points towards the fact that the new expansion could take place at some point in the unknown future, and that quickly turns into another thought: What if The Witchwood, as some sort of premiere in the Hearthstone cosmos, tells a whole new story of Gilneas, the Worgen and the Blackwald?
Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Hearthstone, after all, is still a card game, and its tools to transport storylines and lore are limited. The combination of card art, flavor and voice lines draws different characters and fantasies behind cards, but that is basically it.
The single player experience, however, could make a real difference. Back in Kobolds and Catacombs, the “Dungeon Run” single player mode successfully delivered that unique “level and loot” RPG feeling from way back in the day. The Witchwood offers a new single player experience as well, and it is called “
”. You will be able to play one of four generic Gilnean characters who, well, will hunt monsters in any shape or form. This whole setting offers endless possibilities to fit in new and unique lore about Gilneas and therefore the Warcraft universe itself.
The Ghost of Prince Liam
But it was Monday’s last card reveal stream that really confirmed what both Hearthstone and Warcraft lore fans were always hoping for. In fact, a single card could herald the golden age of Hearthstone storylines that continue to tell what happened in so far unknown Warcraft history, and that card is
Long story short, Liam, Genn Greymane’s son and heir to the Gilnean throne, got killed during the
Battle for Gilneas City
by nobody less than Sylvanas, Queen of the Forsaken, as most Worgen players may have already experience during the starting zone campaign. This happened in an attempt to save his father from one of Sylvanas’ deadly arrows, and that is why Genn holds a major grudge against both Sylvanas and himself up to this day. In Legion, players were able to witness the intense conflict during the main storyline in Stormheim, where Genn successfully destroyed Helya's Soulcage, a mysterious artifact that Sylvanas needed to enslave the titanic watcher Eyir.
As already said, The Witchwood’s timeline seems to take place in a late stage of Warcaft’s history, and that is where things gets interesting: Prince Liam got revealed as a legendary Paladin card, and his card art shows him as a ghost.
“A ghost? That’s crazy, Liam never appeared as a ghost in World of Warcraft!”, you might think, and you are absolutely correct. A few questlines here and there showing that Genn is still mourning the loss of his son, but that is it. His last appearance in the game was during the Battle for Gilneas.
What does that mean? We don’t know. Why was he turned into a ghost, and who did it? Will he be fighting alongside Genn, or did he turn mad, trying to take his revenge against Sylvanas and the Forsaken?
Blizzard's franchises work together - as they should
To the majority of players, this may not look like a big thing. To anyone who knows about the history of Gilneas and the future of Warcraft, that Paladin legendary card could mean everything. Where would Genn, Gilneas and, ultimately, the Alliance would be without the tragic and eternal loss of Liam? What would have happened if Genn had the opportunity to meet his late son being brought back as a ghost? Would he still stand side by side with Anduin Wrynn during the Battle for Azeroth if it wasn’t for his own personal feud with Lady Sylvanas?
An awful lot of questions remain, and some of them will stay unanswered. What started as a “playground” for Warcraft lore slowly turns into a sideboard full of opportunities, and Hearthstone keeps delivering interesting food for thought, not only limited to itself, but also looking into the distant future of Battle for Azeroth.
UPDATE: Hours after this news post, Blizzard released
an official blog post about the lore behind the most important figures of the Witchwood expansion including Prince Liam
All 135 cards of The Witchwood have been revealed, and you can check them out on
! Which new cards could tell a special story about the world of Warcraft, and how could they influence current storylines in the lore? Let us know in the comments!
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