I’ve had some requests to make a lore article about Nerubians and the War of the Spider. This is not an article about a specific Warcraft figure so I improvised on the text structure a bit. Since World of Warcraft’s story is ongoing in the famous MMORPG and in some new novel publications, I will try to constantly update this article. My main sources are Warcraft books and comics, Warcraft 1 / 2 /3, World of Warcraft, WoWWiki, WoWpedia, YouTube and some theory-crafting sites. The following article does not contain videos, because there is no actual footage from that part of Warcraft’s history.

Without further ado, lets begin with the War.

The War of the Spider

The War of the Spider was a long conflict between the undead legions of the Lich King (years before he merged with Arthas) and the insectoid Nerubian Empire. This war took place in the cold wastelands of Northrend. The Nerubian Empire was a subterranean empire beneath Northrend, ruled by Anub’Arak. Its capital was Azjol Nerub, a portion of which, we can see in World of Warcraft as a 5-man dungeon.

A part of Azjol Nerub from a World of Warcraft perspective

The Nerubian Race

The Aqir were an ancient insectoid race and where created from the Old Gods during the primordial era of Azeroth. When the Black Empire lost to the Titans and Aman’thul killed Y’shaarj, the Aqir were driven underground and were reawakened by Kith’ix millenias later. After a long war against the trolls, they lost and they were split into three sub-races. The Nerubians of Azjol Nerub, the Qiraji of Ahn’Qiraj and the mantid of Manti’vess. However, the grip of the old gods in Northrend began to wane and Nerubians evolved into highly intelligent arachnoids, abandoning the worship of the Black Empire in the process.

Aman’Thul killing Y’sharjj, therefore ending the Old Gods era


During the attack of the Alliance on Outland (Beyond the Dark Portal story), a terrified Ner’zhul opened multiple portals to other worlds in order to escape. Upon entering one of the portals, he was captured by Kil’jaeden. The eredar tortured the poor shaman until he broke his spirit completely. Eventually, Ner’zhul agreed to serve the Legion once more and he was resurrected as a spectre. Tichondrius along some other dreadlords, bound Ner’zul’s spirit to a set of armor creating the first Lich King. In the same time they constructed a fortress in Icecrown (later known as Icrecrown Citadel) to serve as a jail.

When The Lich King was created, the Nerubians sensed his presence and immediately launched an attack, in order to prevent the undead’s expansion. Ner’zhul quickly amassed an undead army (later known as Scourge) with his necromantic powers. According to the legend, the Nerubians used hit and run tactics and they managed to gain the upper hand with their guerilla warfare. With a full underground network at their disposal, their insectoid warriors were able to strike effectively the Lich King’s forces, totally destroying all the undead strongholds in Dragonblight. They were also immune to mind-control spells and the Plague, giving the fallen shaman a really hard time.

Ner’Zul, one of the strongest orcish shamans, before he was turned into The Lich King

The Attack on Azjol-Nerub

After some time, The Lich King managed to fend off the insectoid attack. For every Scourge’s soldier lost, two new would take its place, allowing the undead army to slowly overpower the Nerubians. Ner’zul seized the opportunity and launched an all-in siege on the capital, Azjol-Nerub. Anub’arak understood that he cannot win a battle against an endless army and he ordered his people to retreat. However it was too late, as the Scourge with the help of some dreadlords had already reached the capital.

Ner’zhul also noticed that while he couldn’t mind-control the spider-like creatures, he could resurrect them manually. King Anub’arak himself was also killed and revived, while fighting on the front line. Along with several of his lieutenants, including Anub’Rekhan and Anub’et’kan they slained many of their former brothers at the Lich King’s command. The fall of the empire had begun. Ironically, during the fight, some Nerubians spellcasters summoned a giant spider to help in the defense of their kingdom. That spider was Hadronox and the rest is history.

Anubarak, The Traitor King

The Fall of the Empire

With Anub’arak and several of his lieutenants dead, the Nerubians grew desperate. In an attempt to escape the Lich King’s pursuit, they began digging deeper into the earth. However, this would prove to be their doom. As they dug deeper, they found some underground passages that appeared to be some kind of prison. In their final retreat, the Nerubians have awoken the Faceless Ones. Powerful minions of the Old God Yogg Saron begun attacking the insectoid army relentlessly. According to the Klaxxi, Kilix the Unraveler, the Nerubians were caught fighting a war on two fronts and they were overwhelmed almost immediately.

A Faceless One, servant of the Old Gods


After the fall of the spider kingdom, there was no force in Northrend strong enough to challenge the Lich King. After taking care of the Vrykul, Ner’zhul became the sole ruler of the entire continent. He also resurrected all of the Nerubians, bolstering his forces even more. Crypt Fiends will prove an invaluable addition to the Scourge as, several years later, they will save Lich King’s life from Illidan’s allied army.

Anub’arak with Arthas, in Warcraft 3, on their way to save The Lich King


Famous Nerubians from World of Warcraft

  • Anub’arak the Traitor King in Azjol-Nerub and T.o.C

  • Anub’Rekhan in Naxxramas’ Spider Wing

  • Elder Nadox and Seer Ixit in Ahn’Kahet The Old Kingdom

  • Anub’et’kan the Underking in Icemist Village

  • Kilix the Unraveler in Dragonblight

Nerubians Nowadays

Currently, the Nerubians are a depleted and embittered characters. Most live in Northrend and shun all contact with outsiders. They attack intruders on sight, viewing all creatures not of their kind with suspicion. Understandably, they possess a vitriolic hatred of undead, especially crypt fiends and crypt lords. They realize that they are too weak to overthrow the Lich King (not anymore I guess), and must content themselves with their guerrilla war.

Ahn’Kahet The Old Kingdom, another part of the Nerubian Empire

Some Q&A (Only Rumours/Opinions here)

-If the Lich King was jailed, who led the attack in Azjol-Nerub?

According to rumors, dreadlord Tichondrius was in charge of the siege on the Nerubian’s capital.

-Was Anub’arak strong?

Yes he was in my opinion. He was one of the strongest Lich King lieutenants along Kel’thuzad, Queen Lana’thel and Professor Putricide (Wyrms not included).

-If he was strong, why was he a boss in a pathetic 5 man dungeon?

Ask Blizzard. They brought him back in Trial of the Crusader though.

-What units are Nerubians in Warcraft 3?

The Undead unit Crypt Fiend and the undead hero Crypt Lord.

Thanks for reading!

If you are a true Warcraft fan you can also read the Arthas Menethil story.

If you enjoyed the article you can also follow me on my facebook page where i upload all my articles.

Foivos Karkanis



  • Dan Thomas
    Posted 11th May 2020 10:45 pm 0Likes

    Thanks for taking the time to write this.

    I’m a lifelong wow player, yet in game I don’t read Lore. Was an interesting read and I knew some of the story well enough but it’s so good I want more detail!

    Haha thanks for writing it, look forward to more.

    • foivosk
      Posted 28th June 2020 10:32 pm 0Likes

      Thanks much for the support. Sorry for the late response we had problems with the comments section.

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