Illidan Stormrage is a Major Nerd and That’s Awesome

September 11, 2019

Finally, at long last, he saw the pattern. The old warlock had been right. There were complex weaves of power. A mesh that fed upon itself and drew energy from the land and air around it. It held the portals open against the natural inclination of reality to force them shut… Given what he knew about the forces involved, he could work out their eventual termination points with complex astronomical calculations. He could finally create the divination spell that could search through those portals and find what he was looking for.

Magic, or the awesome shortcut to cool powers and success. Or that’s what it looked like to me when I was playing Warcraft III back in 2005.

While playing Warcraft III, I wasn’t paying attention to all the books that were to be seen, mainly in hands of mages, warlocks, and other magic users.

Years later, when the novel “Illidan” came out and I hurried to read it like an Illidan groupie I am, I noticed something very interesting: Warcraft sorcerers are, in fact, scientists.

In the “Illidan” novel, the descriptions of Illidan casting spells aren’t as simple as “he lifted his wand, said abradacadabra, and the green light rushed towards Maiev Potter”. They are more similar to “it took him some time, but he noticed the patterns, and after several complex calculations he executed a function which would separate all the demonic spam mail from Kil’jaeden’s instructions.”

I was thrilled to realize that Blizzard’s concept of magic was more scientific than magical, and I was glad to see that my hero was even more than a badass determined demon hunter with warglaives and a strong will – he was a hard-working, disciplined, extremely intelligent scholar!

The Simpsons - Hommer Yelling "Nerd!" from the car


The spell engines that would feed power from the soul siphon into the pattern were untested. The generators, great machines of copper and brass and fel iron, intricate as gnomish engines, stood almost ready. The whole vast pattern was falling into place but too slowly. He had strengthened his weakened body with magic to give him the energy and concentration of a dozen lesser sorcerers, but it was still not enough. It would take many more moons to complete sorcery so vast and intricate…

I like the idea of nerdy Illidan (and nerdy magic) for two reasons:

    1. It puts discipline before raw talent: As one can learn from reading Warcraft lore – it takes decades of practice to become a good sorcerer. It takes training, concentration, dedication and time to master it. As in our, real world, there are people more inclined to work with magic (=science), but in the end anyone willing to learn can help through hard work.
    2. It promotes science, in an interesting way: Although magic in the Warcraft universe isn’t exactly real science, it resembles it. Even the laws of physics aren’t the same as in our world, so it is only natural that science is different as well. But Warcraft lore does promote the power of science and logical thinking. The strongest guys aren’t warriors who rely on their muscles, it’s not the paladins who rely on the power of the Light – it’s book worms.
Wizards Sanctum World Of Warcraft - Nerds Lounge
Nerds Lounge Image Credit:

If you feel that you aren’t progressing and that the learning process is boring, just remember that even Lord Illidan was an apprentice before he could become the coolest guy ever.

He probably had to study for boring exams such as “History and Sociology of Murlocks 1” and “Architecture of Zin-Azshari and its Psychological Effects on Kaldorei” before he could study interesting things like “Practical Arcane” and “Offensive Fel Magic 2”.

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