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In the past, the Horde referred to the orcs and their battle thralls from both Draenor and Azeroth, such as trolls and ogres (see more about the old Horde). Following its utter defeat at the end of the Second War, the old Horde's power was forever broken, allowing Thrall to awaken the dormant spirituality of his people and free them from the Burning Legion's control.
During the events of the Third War, Thrall made lasting bonds with the tauren chief Cairne Bloodhoof and the troll shadowhunter Vol'jin of the Darkspear clan. Since then, the ties between the three races have been very close, as they share many similar cultural views, as well as a common enemy. With the help of the tauren, both the orcs and the trolls have forged a stronghold for themselves in Kalimdor. Since then, certain ogre tribes, as well as the forsaken and blood elves (both due to their lack of other options), have chosen to affiliate themselves with the Horde.
Horde may be viewed as a more centralized body then the Alliance, as Orgimmar is the obivious center and Thrall the undisputed leader. Like the old Alliance of Lordaeron, Thrall accepts ambassadors and advisors from all the different tribes and members of the horde, and makes sure their voice is heard in the running of the fledgling empire.
In the Third War, and before the liberation of the Forsaken from the Scourge, the Horde allied themselves with the Alliance to rid Azeroth of the Burning Legion. Since then old animosity has risen again, resulting in open conflict on several battlefields.
Despite their somewhat monstrous appearance, the majority of the Horde is not evil; much like the Alliance, it is comprised of diverse factions and individuals who possess a wide range of values and virtues.