The Warchief, or War Chief, is the military leader of the Orcish Horde, similar to a king or Supreme Allied Commander among humans. The post is an ancient tradition, but was forgotten during the civil wars that plagued Draenor following the defeat of the Draenei. After the Horde crossed into Azeroth, Gul'dan revived the office to gain control of the orcs through the puppet Warchief. On Draenor, Ner'zhul took the title in the event Gul'dan should ever return. The Warchief is now the title of the Horde's supreme leader, though his duties no longer include simply war.
Warchiefs of the Horde
- Blackhand — First Warchief of the Horde during the First War between Stormwind and the Horde. In a surprise attack lead by Orgrim Doomhammer, he was slain and Orgrim took his place as Warchief. (Rise of the Horde)
- Orgrim Doomhammer — Warchief of the Horde during the end of the First War, having slain Blackhand and taken his place, and the entirety of the Second War. (Lord of the Clans)
- Ner'zhul — Warchief of the Horde of Draenor. He created several portals to escape Draenor after the end of the Second War, but was captured by Kil'jaeden, who transformed him into the Lich King of the Scourge. (Beyond the Dark Portal)
- Thrall — Warchief of the Horde. Son of Durotan, liberator of the orcs and chieftan of the Frostwolf clan. As the greatest shaman ever known he stepped down to join the Earthen Ring in stabilizing the world following the Cataclysm.
- Garrosh Hellscream — Warchief of the Horde. Son of Grom Hellscream. Reinvited by Thrall to join the Horde after the reopening of the Dark Portal and quickly advancing to the position of personal adviser, he was chosen by Thrall to be the Warchief when he stepped down to join the Earthen Ring. Deposed by the Alliance and Darkspear Rebellion due to the warmongering and genocidal policy towards non-orcs.
- Vol'jin - Warchief of the Horde. Son of Sen'jin. Shadow Hunter and chieftain of the Darkspear tribe. Became Warchief following Garrosh's defeat at the Siege of Orgrimmar. The first non-orc to hold the position.
Other organizations have warchiefs as well. At present, there are three individuals who use the title in World of Warcraft — two in Azeroth and one in Outland.
- Rend Blackhand — Warchief of the Dark Horde, minion of Nefarian. Resides in the Upper Blackrock Spire of Blackrock Mountain in Azeroth.
- Kargath Bladefist — Warchief of the Fel Horde, minion of Illidan. Resides in the Shattered Halls of Hellfire Citadel in Outland.
- Mor'ghor — Described as "Warchief" of the Dragonmaw Clan in the Twilight Highlands, later defeated by Garrosh Hellscream's Forces.
- Grommash Hellscream — Warchief of the Iron Horde.
Roles of the Warchief in the Horde
The Warchief of the Horde stands as the undisputed leader. The warchief holds dominion over the entire Horde. The warchief maintains the Horde, has the power to declare war for the entire Horde, take any precaution to ensure the stability and security of the Horde's member states, and has the final say in the induction of new Horde members.
All members of the Horde have to swear a blood oath to join the Horde and are thus obligated to follow the warchief's commands and support the warchief in times of war if the warchief calls upon them for aid.
The position of warchief can be attained by having the previous warchief chose a successor or challenging the current warchief to a Mak'gora: a prearranged duel with deadly weapons between two people following a formal procedure in the presence of witnesses and traditionally fought until one party yields or is killed, usually to settle a quarrel involving a point of honor. Above all else, the title warchief is granted to those who display strength and decisive action. Warchiefs must be able to gain respect via combat effectiveness and martial conquests but also have enough tact to keep the Horde united and stable.
The warchief may accept ambassadors and advisors from all the different tribes and members of the Horde to makes sure their voices are heard in the running of the fledgling hegemony but ultimately, only the warchief has the final say in matters concerning the entire Horde.
The concept of a non-orc warchief was introduced during The Shattering, Cairne Bloodhoof, before his death, had sought to become the temporary 'leader' of the Horde by defeating Garrosh in the Mak'gora challenge. After Cairne's death, Vol'jin threatened Garrosh with the same intentions. Furthermore, after the quest during the Pandaren Campaign, Lor'themar Theron expresses a fervent hope that Garrosh is destroyed by the , a mogu artifact that was obtained by the blood of his (Lor'themar's) people. Grand Magister Rommath remarks that Lor'themar would make a fine Warchief, to which the Regent replies, "It may come to that."