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Previous: War in Outland
Concurrent: Nexus War, Gilneas civil war
Next: Operation: Gnomeregan, Zalazane's Fall
War against the Lich King
War against the Lich King
Place: Northrend, Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms
Outcome: *Alliance, Horde, and Ashen Vedict victory

The War Against the Lich King[1][2][3] (also called the War Against the Scourge[4][5][6], Battle Against the Lich King[7] ,The Scourge War[8] , and War for Northrend[9]) was a war that is played out in World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King. It started when Varian Wrynn prepared to attack the Scourge, but the Lich King had already made his plans and attacked Stormwind before Varian could send his offensive. At the same time the Scourge invaded Orgrimmar, and so the war began. The end result was the death of Arthas Menethil as the Lich King is replaced by Bolvar Fordragon [10]


Main articles: Zombie Infestation, Scourge Invasion (Orgrimmar), Scourge Invasion (Stormwind)

The capitals of Azeroth began receiving mysterious packages with infected grain. As their citizens ate grain from the infected packages, they were turned into bloodthirsty ghouls if not treated by members of the Argent Dawn. With all the major capitals thrown into chaos, necropoleis appeared around the world, triggering a second Scourge war. Adventurers from both the Alliance and the Horde fought back the disease and the advancing Scourge armies. Outraged by this treachery, Warchief Thrall with his fellow Horde leaders, and King Varian Wrynn planned an invasion on Northrend to deal with the Lich King once and for all.

The final straw occurred when the Lich King directly attacked the capitals of the Horde and the Alliance. Orgrimmar and Stormwind were attacked by a large Scourge army consisting of frost wyrms and abominations. The Battles for Stormwind and Orgrimmar were won by the brave adventurers and their leaders once more, thus forming the Horde Expedition and the Alliance Vanguard.

Invasion of Northrend

The Warsong Offensive fleet, consisting mainly of ships built by goblins from nearby Ratchet, assembled near the Durotar coastline where they sailed off to the Borean Tundra while the Forsaken Hand of Vengeance fleet set off from Tirisfal Glades, heading for the Howling Fjord on the other side of the frozen continent. There they stumbled upon the taunka, a long-lost race of tauren who were fighting a losing war against the Scourge. Thanks to adventurers the taunka were saved and gladly joined the Horde[11] to reclaim their homeland.[12][13]

Meanwhile, the Alliance fleet of the Valiance Expedition set off from Stormwind and Menethil Harbor, building a new base on the Borean Tundra at Valiance Keep and meeting their long lost brethren in Valgarde in Howling Fjord. The dwarven expedition known as the Explorers' League sailed with the Alliance, hoping to find clues of their past and aiding the fight against the Lich King. Like the Horde however, they also met a tribe of dwarves called the Frostborn who not only fought the Scourge, but other threats as well. Although reluctant, they joined the Alliance and swore to aid where they could.[14]

The Kirin Tor, moving a freshly reconstructed Dalaran to Northrend to fight their Nexus War against Malygos, also aided both factions with their fights against the Scourge and offered a sanctuary to adventurers in their city. The Sunreavers and the Silver Covenant represent their respective factions in the Nexus War, but have not offered much in the way of aid in the Lich King conflict, though their level of involvement has increased with the ongoing Argent Tournament in northeast Icecrown.

Early battles

The early battles of the war were mostly defending their newly established bases in Northrend. Both the Scourge and their vrykul allies attacked the expeditions, causing many casualties. Thanks again to adventurers the factions were able to hold off the attacks and make allies in Northrend. The battle for Icemist Village[15], the attack on Warsong Hold[16], and the raids on Valgarde[17] and Valiance Keep[18] represent some of these battles.


With their forces firmly established in Northrend, the Horde and the Alliance chose to focus on the Lich King's new-found vrykul allies, focusing their efforts on Utgarde Keep and other vrykul villages around Northrend[19][20], to both weaken the overall might of the Scourge, and to gain strategic advantage over the other faction.[21]

Moving deeper inland on the Dragonblight, the Alliance at Wintergarde Keep were under attack by the Scourge necropolis, Naxxramas, while the Horde at Agmar's Hammer were cut off by the nerubians of Azjol-Nerub. At this point, the Lich King began to attack the dragon shrines in the region, raising the corpses of dead dragonkin into undead in the form of frost wyrms, emberwyrms and magmawyrms. Adventurers did what they could to put a temporary stop to this new threat. Freed of the immediate danger of attack, both factions then sent their best to face the Lich King directly at Angrathar the Wrathgate.

Angrathar the Wrathgate

Main articles: Battle of Angrathar the Wrathgate, Battle for the Undercity

Members of the Horde and the Alliance fighting at the siege for Angrathar the Wrathgate formed a temporary alliance, focusing their attacks on the Scourge instead of each other. With the dragonflights providing aerial support, both factions made a daring attack on the gate, seizing control from the Scourge. There, Bolvar Fordragon and Saurfang the Younger taunted the Lich King to fight his own battles instead of sending his minions. The Lich King entered the battle and quickly slew Saurfang the Younger. Before Bolvar and the Lich King could trade blows, Grand Apothecary Putress, chief of the Forsaken's Royal Apothecary Society and the creator of the New Plague, betrayed the Horde and unleashed his plague on the combatants below. The plague killed most of the Alliance, Horde, and Scourge forces at the Wrath Gate indiscriminately, apparently including Bolvar Fordragon, and severely injured the Lich King. (Putress had later been revealed to have been under the influence of Varimathras, who in turn was serving the Burning Legion).

This betrayal and the Battle for the Undercity that followed ended upwards of seven years of cold war between the Horde and the Alliance.

Further battles

The Wolfcult and the Drakuru conflict

With the new all-out war between the Horde and the Alliance after Putress's betrayal, only the Argent Crusade and the Knights of the Ebon Blade remained fully dedicated to fighting the Lich King. The Kirin Tor, while more dedicated to the fight than the Horde and the Alliance, was fighting wars on two fronts: against the Lich King and Malygos the Spell-Weaver and his blue dragonflight. In the meantime, the Argent Crusade and the Knights of the Ebon Blade managed to deeply entrench themselves in Zul'Drak.

Meanwhile, the Horde and the Alliance began battling each other over the rich resources of lumber and minerals in Grizzly Hills. When the Alliance attempted to gain allies againts the Horde and the Horde attempted to attack the native humans of the hills both sides would uncover the existence of a mysterious organization known as the Wolfcult. Thanks to the effort of Ruuna the Blind adventures of both sides were able to discover that the worgen of the wolfcult were led by none other than Archmage Arugal now reborn as the Shade of Arugal after being killed by the Forsaken.

Adventurers further escalated the conflicts between the Horde and Alliance and even, albeit unintentionally, aided Drakuru into destroying the resisting troll tribes and giving Drak'Tharon Keep to the Scourge. Empowered by the Lich King, Overlord Drakuru used his new powers to conquer the remaining trolls in Zul'Drak, bringing him into direct conflict with the Argent Crusade and the Knights of the Ebon Blade. After the Knights of the Ebon Blade sent in spies to disrupt Drakuru's Blightblood Troll operation, he was killed by the Lich King for failing to detect them.

Broken Front

With the Drakuru conflict behind them, the Argent Crusade and the Knights of the Ebon Blade managed to set up bases within Icecrown itself, regaining ground starting from the Argent Vanguard. The Horde and the Alliance however, using the best that goblin[22] and gnomish engineering[23] had to offer, used gunships to fly onto Icecrown Glacier. Just south of Mord'Rethar: The Death Gate, the Alliance forces assaulted the Scourge defending the gate, trying to take control of it before the Horde could.[24] However the Horde attacked the Alliance from behind[25], leaving both sides open to the Scourge. Despite their losses, the Horde saw this as precious time for which they may be able to gain strategic advantage.

Secrets of Ulduar

In the midst of the fighting against the Lich King, it was discovered that legendary explorer Brann Bronzebeard had inflitrated the ancient titan complex of Ulduar. His expedition was entirely wiped out by the iron giants within Ulduar, and Brann himself barely escaped with his life. Brann fled to Dalaran and warned Rhonin, who in turn called King Varian Wrynn and Lady Jaina Proudmoore to the Violet Citadel, it was there that Brann informed them of what was beneath Ulduar: the dreaded old god Yogg-Saron.

However, Rhonin had also called Thrall and Garrosh Hellscream to the Violet Citadel. Due to the urgency of the summon, Thrall arrived well before Rhonin and Jaina had intended. The two meetings collided, and despite Rhonin, Jaina and Thrall trying to defuse the situation, Garrosh and Varian traded blows. Rhonin succeeded in breaking up the fight. Decreeing that if they did not stand together all would be lost. Garrosh argued that a true warchief would never partner with cowards. Varian gave the events of the Wrathgate as reason never to work with the Horde again. Whilst Thrall revealed his disappointment with Garrosh.

The Argent Tournament

Main article: Argent Tournament

With the two major factions at war with each other, the Argent Crusade, in an attempt to unite the two factions against the Lich King, held the Argent Tournament in the northern reaches of Icecrown. The tournament, while trying to unite Horde and the Alliance, was designed to train their army against the undead and more importantly find the best warriors of either faction for a small strike force to attack Icecrown Citadel to the south. This method of using a small number of warriors is advantageous because any great loss that they may suffer would only reinforce the Scourge, and would only leave the whole of Azeroth open to attack.[26]

Fall of the Lich King

Main articles: Frozen Halls, Icecrown Citadel (instance)

After the Argent Tournament ended with the death of Anub'arak, the Argent Crusade, led by Highlord Tirion Fordring, struck an alliance with the Knights of the Ebon Blade, led by Highlord Darion Mograine. Thus the Ashen Verdict is born. A combination of opposing orders for a common purpose: the final assault against the Scourge in Icecrown Citadel and the eventual fall of the Lich King.

Meanwhile, adventurers of the Horde and the Alliance sneaked behind the lines inside the Halls of Reflection where Frostmourne was believed to lay unguarded. While attempting to commune with the souls trapped inside the sword, the spirit of Uther the Lightbringer appeared, warning that the Lich King could only be destroyed at the very place he was created: the Frozen Throne. Alas, he also revealed that even if Arthas were to be destroyed, someone would have to make the ultimate sacrifice. The Scourge's numbers have become so great that if they were unleashed without a master, they would wash across the world like locusts, consuming everything in their path.

During the Ashen Verdict's progression in the Citadel, it was revealed that Bolvar Fordragon was recovered by the Scourge, and has been tortured mercilessly by the Lich King. Despite the Lich King's extensive efforts to corrupt him, however, he has thus far managed to resist. The Horde and Alliance then focus on rescuing Bolvar to stop any upcoming conflict between both factions and confronting the Lich King.

Such lofty goals were forgotten, however, in the ascension to the upper Citadel, as the Alliance and the Horde clashed against one another in a duel of their titanic flying warships: The Skybreaker, commanded by Muradin Bronzebeard, and Orgrim's Hammer commanded by Varok Saurfang. Eventually, only one manages to reach the entrance to the upper Citadel. As they approach, the doors open to reveal the Deathbringer: Dranosh Saurfang, the other Wrathgate commander, who was raised in undeath by the Lich King, and now guards the way to the upper chambers. Rather than facing the commanders, the Deathbringer incapacitates them and instead fights the adventurers who accompanied them onboard their gunships. After a grueling battle, Deathbringer Saurfang falls, as the grieving father comes to claim the body of his son.

Death of Arthas

The adventurers, aided by Tirion Fordring, ultimately ascended to the Frozen Throne itself at the top of Icecrown Citadel, where they battled the Lich King. In the end, Frostmourne was shattered, and Arthas died. The newly-freed spirit of Terenas comforted his son as he died, then reminded Tirion that someone must take Arthas's place as the Lich King in order to maintain control over the Scourge. Tirion prepared to take on the terrible burden, when Bolvar Fordragon appeared, horribly burned by the dragonfire that had incinerated his body at the Wrath Gate. He told Tirion that he no longer had any place among the living, and would make the sacrifice himself. Tirion placed the helmet atop the undead paladin's head, and as the ice of the throne enveloped him he said to tell the world only that the Lich King had died, and that Bolvar Fordragon died with him.


With the fall of Arthas, and the rise of Bolvar as the new Lich King, the Scourge forces in Azeroth have been largely destroyed in the war; those that remain have been made passive by Bolvar's will. For example, now that the Lich King has been rendered passive, the Western Plaguelands may yet begin the path to recovering from the Scourge's taint.[27]. Also, with the Scourge's fall, the last remnants of the leadership Scarlet Crusade, (which had been all but destroyed when the Scarlet Enclave has fallen to the Death knights of Acherus) had had been eliminated with the destruction of the Scarlet Onslaught in Northrend and the exposure of Mal'Ganis (who had disguised himself as Barean Westwind, but was exposed by adventurers). The Crusade would go on to lose their holdings in the Eastern Plaguelands, and Stratholme to the forces of Balnazzar, and Tirion Fordring and the Argent Crusade would retake Hearthglen. The majority of the Crusade would flee into Tirisfal Glades and take refuge at the Scarlet Palisade.

With the last major crisis over, Vol'jin of the Darkspear trolls has begun work into liberating the Echo Isles, and High Tinker Gelbin Mekkatorque and his Gnomeregan Exiles, after calculating the next potential catastrophe only has a 12.7% chance of actually happening, are calling all support for Operation: Gnomeregan, the final assault to reclaim their lost city.

The war between the Horde and the Alliance which was declared in the Undercity, despite small skirmishes in Northrend, has not exploded into a full scale war after the fall of the Lich King. However unexpected, cataclysmic events could be all that it takes to push the two factions into an open war.