The Warcraft Story
Here’s the storyline of Warcraft as I see it’s relevance. I curated some videos and text bits providing both context on the complexity of the story, without hopefully revealing too much. I honestly hope, the upcoming Warcraft movies will promote this story strongly – I’m convinced it can compete with the likes of Lord of the Rings and other fantasy classics!
Warcraft: Orcs & Humans (1994)
Storyline as of Wikipedia:
The Orcs originated from another world, Draenor, where the majority were bloodthirsty warriors driven by strife. However, their Warlocks remained aloof, devoting their time to the research of magic. The Warlocks noticed a rift between the dimensions and, after many years, opened a small portal to another world. One Warlock explored and found a region, whose Human inhabitants called it “Azeroth“, from which the Warlock returned with strange plants as evidence of his discovery.
The Orcs enlarged the portal until they could transport seven warriors, who massacred a Human village. The platoon brought back samples of good food and fine worksmanship, and a report that the Humans were defenseless. The Orcs’ raiding parties grew larger and bolder, until they assaulted Azeroth’s principal castle. However, the Humans had been training warriors of their own, especially the mounted, heavily armed Knights. These, assisted by Human Sorcerers, gradually forced the Orcs to retreat through the portal, which the Humans had not discovered.
For the next fifteen years, one faction of Orcs demanded that the portal be closed. However a chief of exceptional cunning realized that the Humans, although out-numbered, had prevailed through the use of superior tactics, organization, and by magic. He united the clans, imposed discipline on their army and sought new magics from the Warlocks and Necromancers. Their combined forces were ready to overthrow the Humans.
So the Horde, as the combined forces were called from now on, raided everything on their way from the Dark Portal (southeast on the map here) to Stormwind.
Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness (1995/1996)
In Warcraft 2 the storyline had still been a parallel storytelling of kind of opposite courses of history. The definite truth is somewhat inbetween and I’ll try to summarize it as best as possible.
Storyline as of Blizzards own lore pages:
The human nation of Stormwind had fallen before the Horde. Knight Champion Anduin Lothar gathered the scattered remnants of the human army and led the refugees north across the Great Sea to the kingdom of Lordaeron. By enlisting the aid of other nations – humans, gnomes, elves, and dwarves – Lothar helped form a great Alliance to stand against the orcs and their ruthless new leader, Orgrim Doomhammer. The seemingly unstoppable Horde continued its rampage, reinforcing its growing army with savage trolls and brutish ogres.
Warcraft 2: The Horde Campaign
Below is a mockup of the rough course of the orcish campaign of Tides of Darkness. It shows how from the south by land and sea the Orcish horde conquered most of the Eastern Kingdoms, claimed artifacts at Caer Darrow and Stratholme, created Ogre Magi and Death Knights and eventually raided Quel Thalas. On WoWwiki you can read details on every step (single arrow) in detailed mission descriptions.
Again from Blizzards lore pages:
But, on the eve of victory, Gul’dan and his followers selfishly abandoned their allies to seek out powerful artifacts, forcing the weakened Horde to retreat. Doomhammer momentarily rallied the orcs when he slew Lothar in a harrowing battle, but the hero’s death did not break the Alliance’s resolve. Turalyon, Lothar’s loyal lieutenant, quickly took up leadership of Azeroth’s defenders and finally defeated the Horde.
Warcraft 2: The Alliance Campaign
There had been pretty good cinematics for the time. They’re really crappy for modern standards and at least the Orc Cinematics don’t tell much of a story. The Human Cinematics are slightly better and show the first destruction of the Dark Portal.