This past week of the 50% character services sale has brought grim tidings for Hardcore Alliance raiding guilds. Namely, the number of longtime, hardcore Alliance guilds deciding that Alliance is bad enough to faction change to Horde. There's a difference between when an individual faction changes and entire 25 man hardcore guild faction changes. The former is usually caused by a person changing to join friends on a different server, joining a new guild, or one's current faction being non-existent on their current realm. The later situation is usually caused by an entire guild seeing something drastically wrong with current faction.
This problems of Hardcore Alliance guilds faction changing to Horde has become sort of problem since the end of Cataclysm. It started out with Top 5 World guilds like Method and vodka abandoning their Alliance roots for access to better racials. Everyone brushed this off as the guilds racing for world firsts doing what they had to do. Blizzard kind of said this and shrugged it off. However, since Blizzard announced the characters services sale, another three Hardcore Alliance guilds have pulled the lever and gone Horde with whispers of a couple more to follow. The catcher is that none of these three guilds are anywhere close to pulling in a world first and only one is in the top 20 World.
Dread of Korgath-US:
Dread had been a longtime hardcore raiding guild that had been raiding at a respectable level with at least T3, back in classic. They may have suffered setbacks here and there, but they always found a way to bounce back. They're not a Top 20 World guild, but they're more often than not in the Top 25 US rankings. After their HC ToT clear for the week, their guild pulled the level and decided to go Horde. The kicker for them, is that they're not server transferring either. For those that aren't aware, Horde on Korgath are noticeably outnumbered by Alliance, so they didn't change to due lack of Alliance on the server.
Intent of Kel'thuzad-US:
Intent has been a steady top 30 US 25 man guild. While they've never competed for a world first, I've met a few of them and they're a good bunch of people who get stuff done relatively quickly by most standards. They decided to server transfer and faction change earlier this week.
Ascendance on Alonus-EU:
I am admittedly ignorant on the circumstances for Ascendance's faction change due to not knowing people their, but I do know they did it within the last day or so. What I do know is that they have consistently been a Top 20 World guild the past couple of tiers. They also server transferred to Draenor-EU.
Why is it a bad thing if Alliance guilds are faction changing to Horde? Simply put, it puts pressure on the remaining Hardcore Alliance guilds to also go Horde. First and foremost, it can seriously hamper an Alliance guild's recruitment. As more guilds go Horde, the pool of LIKELY apps to Alliance guilds decreases. I've personally known some people that would not app to a top 10 Alliance guild merely because the guild was not Horde. Just because someone is looking at a guild in a specific range, does not mean that they'll also faction change if there's another guild within that range that does not require a faction change.
Why are Alliance guilds going Benedict Arnold on their faction? It's a combination of issues to be honest. There's the fact that Alliance has kind of gotten the cold shoulder in terms of lore development compared to Horde. One could also make the argument that Orgrimmar is much better capital than Stormwind, with Org having gotten a pretty snazzy overhaul while Stormwind still has a giant blackened ruin where the Park District used to be. However, I've found hardcore raiders to be more practical people who are less concerned with lack of lore and city designs. The primary drivers for the exodus from Alliance -> Horde has chiefly been the Horde racials in PvE and the pool of likely apps.
I already touched briefly on the pool of likely apps. Someone looking for a new guild will prefer to not faction change when looking for a guild. If 20 of the top 25 guilds in your region are Horde, it's going to be a lot easier for a top 10 guild that's Horde to recruit players than a top 10 guild that's Alliance in that region.
The racials issue is a much more heated argument. However, if you ask a person in an Alliance guild that's even Top 50 World if they wish they had access to Troll or Orc racials for raiding, most would say yes. Trolls' Berseking and Orcs' Bloodfury are the only two racials that provide on demand burst dps. In hardcore raiding, players often have to provide a large amount of dps during specific parts of a fight. What do Alliance have in terms of dps racials? They have Pandaren, which Horde also has, Worgen which bring a static 1% crit, which is kind of a "meh" stat for most classes, and a bunch of expertise/hit racials that require a specific type of weapon but put you over expertise and hit caps. To add insult to injury, Trolls have +5% damage to beasts (which worked on bosses this tier) and +expertise will all ranged weapons. Orcs also get a 2% increased damage done via pets and +expertise with axes and fists.
When one faction has two races that have such biased racials and the other gets peanuts, is it any surprise when guilds want to faction change? Yeah, you can make the argument that Alliance might have better tanking and healing racials than Horde for pve. However, when you boil it down, it's a pretty bad argument when you're talking about hardcore raiding. Most hardcore guilds are constantly trying to find a way to eek out 1-2% more damage during certain parts of fight. Tanks having slightly better survivability or healers having slightly higher regen is very rarely the determining factor in a fight. Can it happen, yeah. But in the current raiding environment, it's not too uncommon for even tanks and healers to look for a way to deal the most damage they can to a boss while also performing their role.
Why am I making such a big deal out of a supposed 2% difference in dps? As an Alliance player who likes to raid hardcore, it's rather irksome to log on one day and find that 4-5 of your friends in other hardcore raiding guilds are no longer Alliance because their guilds faction changed due to said racials.
Other guilds I've heard of recently going from Alliance -> Horde:
Sanitas on Frostmane-EU:
While not a 25 man guild, they are Swedish guild that happens to be World 2nd 10 man. I heard via the official WoW forums that they too faction changed from Alliance to Horde.
Still haven't heard of a single hardcore Horde guilds faction changing to Alliance recently.