It is a relatively known fact that the coming of the Orcs is what created the faction divide. Not saying there were not some opposition between races before that point because there surely was but it was the coming of the orcs that inspired the rise of the horde and created the azeroth we know it which an orc vs human world with each representing their respective faction.
What if the orcs never came to azeroth? What do you believe the world would look like and do you believe there still would have been a faction divide?
We hear a lot of hate with the story telling of blizzard being so orc centric now for the third expansion in a row and who can blame them, it is getting tired now, really tired. But to call it horde favoritism, while correct at face value, is not to look back at the full picture as if this was a world without orcs. At least in my vision of this what if world would look like without them.
If you think things show horde favoritism now just want until you see what my vision of the world would be without orcs.
Everything said here has absolutely no basis in lore and is just me voicing opinions or making guesses on what I believe might have, or could have, happened if the world never had orcs enter the picture.
The alliance, and particularly their human leadership was pretty much divided before the time of orcs. It was the invasion that made them combine the seven kingdoms into one under the banner of a human alliance. It is also that invasion that made them seek out an alliance, if you will, that saw them joining forced with other non human kingdoms.
Without the orcs and by association without the invasion there would have been no reason for the kingdoms of humans to join together and most defiantly no reason for them to join ranks with non humans.
However conflict has a way of happening and it would happen sooner or later. I could see all the human kingdoms joining together because of it and I could see the dwarves and gnomes joining with the human, it just seems like a natural fit. So I could see at least that part of the alliance as we know it banding together. Where I see the difference coming is with the night elves. I do not see them joining with the humans, dwarves and gnomes. Not only are the predominantly on another continent but they really do not seem to fit as well with them.
Not to mention that the night elves seem to be more in tune with the tauren and troll races on their own continent. When push came to shove, in my vision of a world without orcs I could see the alliance being the humans, dwarves and gnomes and the horde being the night elves, tauren and troll. The tag line would need to be changed to Night Elves vs. Humans.
As time went by and more races were "introduced" that is where we would begin to see a major faction imbalance. People might say horde favoritism now but do not kid yourself, if we were in a world without orcs it might seem even more so like horde favoritism.
Without the orcs we would not have original faction balance, or would we? The last race that had not chosen a side are the forsaken. I can not believe that the human would side with them, even if they were losing a war and I can not believe the night elves would side with them because they would go against their feelings for nature and what is natural and comes from the earth that is embraced by all members of the horde faction, night elf, tauren and troll alike.
So the beginning factions are now broken up as three on each side and the forsaken being left on the outside looking in. They would just grow to be the main antagonist of the series. This would allow the game to move forward with a central bad guy "faction" instead of having to label either the alliance (good guys) or the horde (bad guys) as such as it stands currently.
When BC came about the races would have joined different sides, or so I would be lead to believe. Blood elves might have issue with both the humans and the night elves but I can see them looking to join with someone and as such they would get the padnaren treatment of being allowed to choose which side they want to be with. Being blood elves held some animosity against their brothers the night elves and some had contempt for the humans it would be a case of them choosing the lesser of two evils. So blood elves would be allowed to choose the side they wish to fight for.
The draenei however would side with the horde. It was the night elves that helped them, it was the night elves that became their friends, shares somewhat similar beliefs and made them feel welcome so as such it would be the night elves that they join with. It would also allow them to be with the tauren which they share more in common with than they do any of the humans, dwarves or gnomes.
Orcs, while we meet them in outland would not be joining any faction as a playable race and if they did they would join one it would be the non playable forsaken as part of the bad guys, which is really where they belong, even more so the outland orcs.
So this basically would now put the horde up one faction as they get the draenei and both factions split the blood elves.
Come wrath it might be best to talk a little bit about classes. Even if both the tauren and the tolls were shamanistic there would have been no shamans in the original game. With no orcs in the game that means no shaman even if lore shows that shamanism was almost dead in the orc culture and did exist in both in the tauren and troll culture but because they would not want to give the horde 2 classes that the alliance did not have there would be no shaman in game at all, at least at the start. That does not mean that there would be no faction specific classes however. As it stands only the horde would have druids and only the alliance would have paladins.
With the BC expansion horde ended up getting a paladin class in the draenei so for that entire expansion would see the horde with one more class than the alliance had as well as one more race. And people complain about horde favoritism now, what do you think they would have said then?
Well, something apparently because in my what if vision when wrath came blizzard tried to balance out the class imbalance. Death knights would be introduced as an alliance only class and not a hero class. It would start at level 1 like all others and only humans would be able to be death knights. Now there is balance again. Alliance had lost their class when they had to share the paladin with the horde through the draenei and now have their class back in the form of the death knight.
With no new races this expansion and blizzard balancing out the class imbalance we move to cataclysm where they introduced worgen and goblin as races and we get to see a hell of a lot more horde favoritism. Worgen would end up joining the horde instead of the alliance because, once again, it was the night elves that convinced them to join their efforts and not the humans. The night elves had always been the diplomats among the alliance races and without them they are not really expanding.
In regards to the goblins I doubt human arrogance or prejudices would allow those tiny green devils to beak bread with their people so when they sought out a faction to join it would only make sense they would join the faction that had a diplomatic leadership that would see the advantage of having another race within their fold, even more so one with great inventions like the goblins.
This would now place the horde a whole 3 factions ahead of the alliance and balance between races would be a long forgotten thing. It was just not going to happen. The opening up of more races being able to play more classes helped the alliance some as all three of their races could now be death knights, their special class but now 4 races could be druids, the hordes special class. More races could be the hordes special class than there were alliance races to begin with, if you do not count the blood elves which they both had.
In cataclysm we would also see the introduction of the shaman class because it would be needed for story telling purposes and both sides would get it.
When mists came and the pandaren entered the picture it is hard to say or even guess which way they could go. I would guess they might end up the same way they did now and be a split faction just like the blood elves were in my what if scenario. Both sides would gain the monk class, just as they do now.
So all things being said and done, at least in my mind, this is how the factions would look if the orcs never existed as a playable race in warcraft.
Alliance : Human, Dwarf, Gnome, Pandaren and Blood Elf
Horde : Night Elf, Tauren, Troll, Draenei, Worgen, Goblin, Pandaran and Blood Elf
Alliance Only Class : Death Knight
Horde Only Class : Druid
As you can see, horde would be better off without the orcs. The perceived favoritism would be much more warranted. As annoying as it might be to be entering a third orc-centric expansion we have to think, at least in my mind, that it is the orcs that actually keep things balanced.
How do you see the faction divide splitting up the races if not for the orcs? Or do you think there would be no factions at all and everyone would be one in the same?
Personally the most interesting thing of this what if scenario in my mind is not the absence of the orcs and how the alliance and horde divide would be leaning toward the horde, but the fact that the forsaken would become a non player "bad guy" throughout the entire series. Now that is a what if story for another day and that could be fun to wonder what would happen if they unleashed their might on all the races.