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Warcraft Live 2015 review

Troll Witch Doctor

"You guys have Warcraft larp?!?" was my first reaction when I heard it several years ago from Hungarian players. Considering that I spent a significant portion of my childhood playing Warcraft 1, 2 and 3 and a lot of time playing World of Warcraft later on (here's a shout-out to all my guildies from Final Equilibrium, EU-Aggramar, you guys rock) I knew I also want to visit this larp, eventually.

So after meeting the GM in person on Demgard and a few days of consideration, I decided to attend this year - see what's it all about, so I signed up for Warcraft Live 2015, the sixth larp in the series. The storyline of the larp was set during The Burning Crusade expansion, and I built myself a blood elf costume - from a red robe and armor that were just laying around my larp collection, and the GM had a Blood Knight tabard to go with it. Perfect. I had some elf ears to go with it (cheap ones, now I regret not making better ones) and I made some fake eyebrows using a braid of my own hair which I had cut off over 9 years ago - yes, I had long hair once and I still keep that braid in my drawer, it gives me strength.

Warcraft Live is played on the same terrain as Demgard - in Tatabánya, Hungary. But it's a smaller larp, there were about 25-ish of us and therefore the use of terrain was much more concentrated towards the central parts of it.

Blood Elves and Forsaken fighting the Darkfallen

Rules are minimalistic, the "trust system" as Hungarians call it which is very similar to the German DKWDDK way of playing. The only thing that is covered by mechanics is the use of magic, as there exists a mana system. Characters get their spells from GMs - the list is not public, so there's a surprize element in game. The way of casting and effects are not too closely defined, which leaves room for playing and interpretation - but you will get a few core abilities of your class. As a paladin, I could heal, rez and decurse (but sadly I had neither Divine Shield nor a hearthstone).

The feeling of being a part of the game world was very well done. Though some make-up was not as good as it could be, costumes were on point. I recognized many story and character elements from Warcraft 2, Warcraft 3 and of course World of Warcraft.

Barkeeper/shaman and a postmaster

The event had some logistical issues, which caused the larp to start late. Which actually didn't bother me too much, because I was late myself, arriving during the night on Friday evening and just catching the event start. The story was set on the Horde side, around the border of Ghostlands and Eastern Plaguelands which mostly focused the gameplay on Blood Elves and Undead - both the Forsaken kind, who are part of the Horde together with Blood Elves, and the mindless (or not so mindless) Scourge, chief antagonists of several Warcraft games or expansions. Several independent (or secretly Alliance) characters were running around as well.

This time, the main threat were the Darkfallen characters from the Scourge. They also had a necromancer with them, who was trying to turn himself into a lich and eventually succeeded, as well as few other undead, including ghouls. There was a decent amount of combat in larp, also helped by the "resurrection" mechanic which ensured most characters would end up living - unless of course they joined the Scourge, ended up in several pieces, or picked up too many nasty curses.

The Lich

My character - Vyaris Dawnfury - was a member of the Firewing castle military personnel, under the command of Master Falanor Firewing, a senior Blood Knight. The camp also had a group of Forsaken, and underneath it was a tavern with some civilians and a post office - all of it together made our town. After plenty of role-play, encountering the Darkfallen and a few clashes with them, on Saturday morning we also found some stragglers (humans, elves etc) and basically recruited them to fight the scourge on our side.

There were five magical clusters that we would try to capture, take and hold. "Reminds me of the battle of Arathi Basin", I muttered IC. Basically both us and the Scourge managed to capture enough to get our goals - we got free resurrects, they got their necromancer turned into a lich. During one of the early battles, I lost one of my elf ears and went the rest of the larp without them, which was a bit embarrasing. There were other memorable moments in the game, like one of the humans being brought back as a forsaken only for his former comrade to end his undeath. And many many interesting role-play situation between elves (three blood elves and two high elves which we attempted to convert).

The Scourge eventually proved better at holding several strategic spots on the terrain which severely limited our movement on the terrain between key points. And then they gave us their ultimatum: give them Master Falanor (probably to turn him into a Darkfallen), or die. And they tortured an orc shaman / barkeeper to prove their resolve.

Falanor and a Darkfallen posing

Us elves gathered to decide on the next course of action, and Master Falanor decided that our elven lives are worth far more than those of our allies, so we should leave them. And we did - a Forsaken mage came after us, and shouted with a betrayed look on his face: "Master Falanor, where are you going?", to which he got the answer: "My friend, you are dismissed." - one of the best lines on a larp that I've heard.

However, while this was a very good IC moment, it pretty much doomed our allies and ensured the quick victory of the Scourge. As it was still early and people still wanted to play, we had a discussion on what to do to save the game. After some consideration, we agreed on a new plan - revisit these same five points to drain the last bits of power from them, which could cause the Scourge to disrupt since no more magic would hold them together.

This led to several more hours of sneaking around the forest, battles and interesting rituals, such as a troll witch doctor who summoned a Darkspear loa of the dead who engaged in a shouting match with a Scourge lich... In the end, we almost succeeded - the Scourge managed to lock out the last magical cluster.

Ritual in progress
We had some final moments of play with the survivors of our group, and then the larp ended. For me, it was on a very high note - I had a lot of fun. But then again, I didn't experience many of the negative things that happened, such as the long wait before the start of the larp, and I was always very engaged in-character, while not everyone was, so our experiences varied. Even the resting moments were fun, getting a drink in tavern and watching a peon throw Warcraft 2 lines, or randomly fall asleep and talk to the spirit of his father in his sleep.

After the larp ended, we all sat in a circle to debrief, and then it was the off time - to get drinks and have some relaxed fun. Important to mention: for the duration of larp, almost everyone spoke English, except for one guy who didn't, but overall there was a very high level of English usage despite me being the only person who did not speak Hungarian. The larp - like its' source material - often did not take itself very seriously, and there were many funny moments, all of which fit the setting while providing some comic relief. Overall, I enjoyed my time on Warcraft Live a lot.


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