This is an interesting point you make, especially for a Warhammer based game which could, in theory, had multiple factions all in competition with each other. The fluff (back story) behind the Warhammer Fantasy provides legitimate reasons for any two armies to wage war on each other even if they are of the same faction.
I am not sure if Mythic does this with Warhammer or not, but I know that one of things they used to do to keep balance amongst the servers in DAoC was to push new players of specific factions to a server. This helped create the balance of play between the three factions. With only two factions I would think this would be even more important. Of course, making the faction choice appealing in the first place helps.
For the Horde!
I enjoyed the article, I always wondered what WoW would be like with a 3rd faction.
Very good article, gave me alot to think about.
For the Alliance.
You make a good point 3 factions would be awesome.
For the Gnomes(what alliance? oh no no no in time you will see... you will see-.-)
Three factions would be too little, four would be symmetric and could just turn into 2v2, five would be better.
If you play or have played RF online then you know that a third faction can royally screw your day good and proper.
Depending on server balance of which race is dominant at the time, if the weakest race doesn't get an ally then it's boned.
Chipwars are a fun source of all out pvp between everyone, but when two races hold hands against the weakest foe then appeal of the pvp is lost.
RF however remains my favoured MMO, despite it's flaws.
The two-faction system was especially confusing to me, a fan of the Warhammer tabletop games, because Warhammer had previously been every race for itself. there were good and evil races, sure, but the good ones were as likely to fight among themselves as to fight evil, and the evil ones fought among themselves even more.
2 factions is the easiest to code for...
Again, another excellent article :) The two factions in WAR are balanced simply by virtue of being identical. What i find fascinating however, is that the primary conflict amongst different races is always between the asymmetric ones. So the Orks fight the Dwarves, when I believe it is chaos that are the dwarf mirror race. At least i think this is the case, i cant be asked to check again right now..
In any case, i find it odd that the each faction has been divided into its individual components from the get go, when they are supposed to be unified. Granted, as the game progresses to its later stages this changes, but it still raises the question of why they couldn't just continue this initial, divided state of affairs, with the different strengths of each race left to stand alone. In any case, it's a good thought provoker - cheers for the article!
Although i must ask if it would ever be viable for chaos to fight with the humans against the darstadly high elves.. me thinks perhaps not.
I wonder if it would be possible to patch in a third faction. It might be difficult, but not impossible.
I think you're missing something in your hypothesis of two underdogs coming together. It would be less like two starcraft players talking over teamspeak and more like trying to stop teamkilling in tf2 with friendly fire on. Factions of that size are so varied and wildly unorganized that there's definitely going to be a sizable number of people who just want to spoil the fun and gank til there's no tomorrow.
Honestly, a better metaphor is like trying to get Horde and Alliance to work together in WoW. While large, structured and organized guilds might accomplish something together, run of the mill pvpers and solo players would jump at the opportunity to get easy points from an unsuspecting and defenseless opponent.