There is much debate regarding Azeroth’s most nomadic race, in terms of just what level of lore exists. Sure, the Tauren haven’t had a past as prolific as the Forsaken, or the Orcs…or the Humans, Dwarves, Gnomes, Blood Elves, Draenei, Trolls, Goblins, Night Elves, and Worgen…yes, it’s clear I agree with this consensus. But then, I don’t know how much need there is. The Tauren are a relatively calm race that think before they act. I can buy that as a means to avoid much conflict out there over time, and finding better solutions to problems. Then again, maybe they have been neglected. *shrug*
Before I start on the list, I have to include an honorable mention. If not for the Cataclysm and his removal from the game, Mr. Smite would have easily made this list. As someone who’s been mostly an Alliance player, this was often your first introduction to the Tauren. He was a tough fight in the old Deadmines (at that level) and hearing his voice when you blew the door open was always exciting.
5. Greatmother Hawkwind
Many people wouldn’t have the slightest idea who the Unaya Hawkwind is, unless you rolled a Tauren (or went to their start zone). Even then, if you’ve only done it post-Cataclsym then you’re still missing part of the picture. Prior to The Shattering, you were asked to go help her and she really came across as a “sweet old lady” though I never really considered her old. So for those of us who did those quests, imagine our surprise when we re-rolled Tauren in the Cataclysm era and our quest chain lead to us creating her funeral pyre. I think I was sad more about that than Magni becoming One With The Mountain.
4. Baine Bloodhoof
With a bit more flushing out, I don’t doubt for a second the son of Cairne will rank higher on this list. I even debated putting the current Tauren Chieftain up a spot or two but feel it’s just a bit too soon for that. If you aren’t familiar with Baine’s story, you really should read The Shattering (for many more reasons as well) as his ascension is brilliantly done. When we first heard of how his father would die, it did make sense for Baine to take over but the story shows how not only is it logistical, it’s deserved.
3. Hamuul Runetotem
If this were a personal popularity contest, I would rank him #1 in a heartbeat. By far my favourite NPC in the game and the one I relate the most to, I knew nothing of the character when I rolled on the US server he was named after. Now, I’m rather proud I did. Between The Shattering, Stormrage, and even The Molten Front, I’ve developed such a huge amount of respect for the Druid. I think for the most part Hamuul has had his time in the spotlight and he’ll likely take a back seat to some other characters, both in-game and in the novels. But while people (rightfully) look at Malfurion Stormrage as the epitome of the Druid, I see Arch Druid Runetotem.
2. Magatha Grimtotem
This one might come as a surprise to some, but if you know anything at all about the Tauren lore (to say nothing of how Cairne was defeated), she belongs here. One of Azeroth’s greatest villains to not really get her time in the spotlight (at least not in-game), Magatha is evil. All the time she spent trying to have the Grimtotem become the dominant Tauren tribe and thanks to a poison on Garrosh’s weapon she almost succeeded. Rest assured many Tauren fan were happy to see her entire tribe get their just dessert.
1. Cairne Bloodhoof
If you expected anyone else to occupy the top spot, that’s a shame (ok, maybe Hamuul if you expected me to be biased). He was the most famous Tauren, from his early relationship with Thrall and pledging his people to the Horde, to ending much of the species’ nomadic ways. He recognized the dangers in continuing to wander the land and claim Mulgore (setting up Thunder Bluff in the process). Many would argue Cairne was in the right during the scenario that lead to his death, but the circumstances and his final conversation with Thrall were bitter to swallow. There truly is no other Tauren who could surpass Cairne and what he meant to his people. Perhaps one day Baine will come close, but that’s a long time away.