When Thrall became Warchief of the Horde, he dissolved the orcish clans (though many still exist as organizations within the Horde, such as the Warsong Outriders and Shattered Hand rogues). This is not true of the orcs of Draenor. Instead of a conglomerate nation, the orcish clans each have unique cultures, fighting styles, leaders, strengths, and weaknesses. If one is to survive the coming onslaught by the Warlords of Draenor, knowledge of the orc clans in paramount.

Iron Horde Clans:

Eight of Draenor’s mightiest and most savage clans make up the Iron Horde. Chosen for their loyalty and great skill in warfare, these are the most dangerous examples of the orcish race, and the clans you will be fighting the most in Warlords of Draenor.


Warsong Clan

Territory: Nagrand

Chieftain: Grommash Hellscream

The leaders of the Iron Horde, the Warsong control Nagrand with impunity. Their wolf-riders scour the plains for any foe, while even the mighty ogres of Highmaul have been forced into servitude. With their leader Grommash Hellscream serving as Warchief of the Iron Horde, it has fallen to the Warsong’s new “prophet” Garrosh to run the clan in day-to-day matters. A service he does from their mighty capital of Grommashar.


Blackrock Clan

Territory: Gorgrond

Chieftain: Blackhand

Master blacksmiths and miners, the Blackrock clan are the heart of the Iron Horde’s industrial complex. Their skin is ashen from years spent in Gorgrond’s mines, shaping the Blackrock ore from which their name is derived into weapons of war. Though they may be responsible for producing the Iron Horde’s machinery, the Blackrocks themselves rely on goblin mercenaries brought from Azeroth to design and instruct them on how to manufacture new technologies.


Burning Blade Clan

Territory: Nagrand

Chieftain: Azuka Bladefury

The Burning Blades have been described as more of a force of nature than a true clan. The legendary orcish blademasters hail from this clan, and their expert swordsmanship is invaluable to the Iron Horde’s forces. Located in the volcanic regions of Nagrand, they derive their name from coating their weapons in incendiary oils, giving their warriors literal burning blades in combat.


Shadowmoon Clan

Territory: Shadowmoon Valley

Chieftain: Ner’zhul

In the eternal dusk of Shadowmoon Valley, the Shadowmoon have become experts at reading the stars for prophecy. Their chieftain, Ner’zhul, was once the most respected orc in all of Draenor. Until Garrosh arrived and revealed Ner’zhul was being manipulated by the Burning Legion. Now the Shadowmoon work tirelessly to redeem themselves in the eyes of the Iron Horde by destroying the last stronghold of the draenei, Karabor. To accomplish this, Ner’zhul has become desperate enough to break the ancient laws and summon a being of terrible power: the Dark Star.


Bleeding Hollow Clan

Territory: Tanaan Jungle

Chieftain: Kilrogg Deadeye

While all orc clans practice shamanism, none do so in such a visceral way as the Bleeding Hollow. They commune with the elements via blood rituals involving hallucinogenic plants, magical potions, and self-mutilation. Most famously, when a new chieftain is appointed in the Bleeding Hollow can, he or she must gouge out one of their own eyes to receive a vision of their death. That terrible knowledge then determines how the chieftain will lead the Bleeding Hollow for the remainder of their life.


Shattered Hand Clan

Territory: Spires of Arak

Chieftain: Kargath Bladefist

The Shattered Hand is not a traditionally formed orc clan, instead they began as a loose association of slaves kept deep within an ogre mining complex. One of these slaves, an orc named Kargath, severed his own chained hand to escape, and then affixed a sword to the bloody stump. His bravery rallied the other slaves, who repeated Kargath’s act  and overthrew their ogre masters. From then on Kargath became known as Kargath Bladefist, and his followers became the Shattered Hand clan.


Thunderlord Clan

Territory: Frostfire Ridge

Chieftain: The Iron Wolf

To live in Frostfire Ridge, the Thunderlords have taken up an unusual survival strategy. They hunt magnaron, the largest creatures in all of Draenor, and convert their skeletons into the framework for their cities. Due to their proximity to the Frostwolf clan, the Iron Horde has tasked the Thunderlords with eliminating the Frostwolves entirely.  Their chieftain “The Iron Wolf”, is especially devoted to this goal for seemingly personal reasons. He previously assassinated the former Frostwolf chief Garad, and plans to do the same to Garad’s sons.


Dragonmaw Clan

Territory: Blackrock Mountain

Chieftain: Zaela

Unlike the other Iron Horde clans, the Dragonmaw are from the main timeline. Their origins in Draenor are shrouded in mystery, especially as there are no dragons to be found there. The modern Dragonmaw are fiercely loyal to Garrosh Hellscream, and were instrumental in his escape from Pandaria. They’ve since been put in charge of the Ironmarch, a forward army sent to conquer Blackrock Mountain and establish a foothold in Azeroth for the Iron Horde’s main invasion.



Independent Clans:

Not all orc clans chose to join the Iron Horde, some refused while others were never offered entry. Two have allied with Azeroth’s Horde, but the others serve a far darker master.


Frostwolf Clan

Territory: Frostfire Ridge

Chieftain: Durotan

Affiliation: Horde

A tough clan of survivalists, the Frostwolves used migrate seasonally between Frostfire Ridge and the more welcoming plains of Nagrand. After refusing to join the Iron Horde, the Frostwolves were driven from Nagrand and their chieftain Garad was assassinated by The Iron Wolf. Garad’s youngest son, Durotan, has now had leadership thrust upon him as the clan struggles to fend off the continued assault by the Iron Horde. Luckily a group of strange outsiders from beyond the Dark Portal, led by a green orc who calls himself Thrall, have pledged to aid the Frostwolves in the coming battle.


Laughing Skull Clan

Territory: Gorgrond

Chieftain: Mogor

Affiliation: Horde

Even the Iron Horde considers the Laughing Skulls to be insane. Their clan is little more than a band of maniacs who kill and mutilate anyone unfortunate enough to cross their paths, then wearing their victims’ skulls as macabre trophies. Fearful of being enslaved by the Iron Horde, the Laughing Skulls have entered an alliance of convenience with the Frostwolves and the Horde.


Stormreaver Clan

Territory: Spread throughout Draenor

Chieftain: Gul’dan

Affiliation: Burning Legion

In the main timeline, the Stormreaver clan was not formed until after the Horde had invaded Azeroth. How they came to exist on this alternate Draenor is unknown, but they likely have a similar purpose: a group of warlocks fiercely loyal to Gul’dan and the Burning Legion. The Iron Horde has attempted to enslave the Stormreavers and use their demonic magic to open the Dark Portal, but Gul’dan has more than a few tricks up his sleeve. While the order of events may have been changed, the Stormreavers work to ensure that the ultimate outcome will be the same: the utter corruption of the orcish race at the hands of the Burning Legion.


Bonechewer Clan

Territory: Talador

Chieftain: Tagar Spinebreaker

Affiliation: Burning Legion

The Bonechewers are a small clan who, as their name implies, have a strong penchant for cannibalism. Victims of the Bonechewer clan consider themselves lucky if they aren’t eaten before they’re dead. Gul’dan has offered the Bonechewer chieftain, Tagar Spinebreaker, a position within his Shadow Council and now the clan readily serves their new demonic masters.

Ian Bates

World of Warcraft Writer and columnist for Blizzplanet. I am also known as The Red Shirt Guy (BlizzCon).