I must start this the same way all posts about things on the beta should start. Beta is beta, it is very possible some of the things I mention here will change before release and some things I have yet to test due to errors. Over all I do believe I have a decent feel for the only new feature being added to the game that I can now talk about it some more. Get ready for a very long post and be warned, I still did not include everything in it.
When the expansion was first announced garrisons were something I was really interested in. Since the originally announcement a lot has changed, as usually happens in the development process, but my interest in it was still high. Usually when I have high expectations for something be it a movie, a game, anything, I am let down because I set my expectations so high nothing can ever really live up to the hype I created in my own mind. I am glad to say that although I was looking forward to garrisons and had high hopes for them I was not let down. Sure they are not exactly what I was expecting and I really think they can do a lot more with them, but I am most definitely not let down by them.
When you first arrive to Draenor you will be tasked to select a sight to build a base to start your adventures from. Not exactly a choice, so to speak, but you get the idea. This means, like it or not, garrisons are not only a part of your adventure here on draenor, it is the main base of operations on the planet throughout the expansion.
It starts off simple enough, you as one of the greatest heroes of Azeroth, lands on this new world and everyone is looking to you for advice on what to do. You have earned that respect because of your past deeds saving the world over and over. I believe this is the first time in the entire game you are really treated like the hero. Usually you are just an adventurer, usually you are an assistant, usually you are helping others, usually you are working under the directive of someone else that takes all the glory. This time around you are the commander, everything that happens on draenor goes back to you. From strategic battle plans, to where to go next, to what to do next. Everything that happens on Draenor happens because you will it to happen.
You really do step into the role as the commander and everyone in your garrison treats you as such. I must say I think it is a nice touch, something you usually only see in a single player game and not an MMO. Even if you can invite people to your garrison, it is yours and you are the commander and it is your little piece of an MMO that really is meant for a single player.
What you do there matters, it changes the landscape of the zone. Admittedly not a much as was originally presented to us, and even if you do build things differently it all still looks the same no matter what, but this is all about the feel of things and you really get that the first time you walk around and the soldiers stop at attention when you pass by or the vendors call you commander, or the big name characters you might remember as important for what they did in other expansion being the commanders themselves ask you what to do next. This is really your home and your world and you are in charge of everything that goes on around here. They never let you forget that.
Now that I have, or hope I have, conveyed the feeling of who you are here on draenor and your importance here and the reason you are leading the attack from your garrison it is time to talk about the garrison itself and some of the features within it. Honestly I do not know where to start. The things I mention here are going to be from an alliance perspective but being garrisons are the same no matter what side you are on the names might be different, but everything I mention exists on both sides.
The Little Stuff:
I've always been a fan of the little things in games. I've mentioned that so many times on this blog I could not even begin to count and that is because all those little things add flavor to the game. There are many little things about the garrisons to like and I am sure I have not noticed most of them. It is not just about leading your faction into war or building your buildings or working your command desk or collecting followers or sending them on missions. There are little things that add flavor, sometimes without us even noticing it.
One of my favorite things thus far, being a battle pet collector before battle pets were even a thing, is the fact that our battle pets can sometimes be seen running around our garrison. At first I thought that it was only the pets you mark as favorites that will make your garrison your home but it seems sometimes even pets that are not marked favorites are seen running around.
It brings a great deal of flavor to the game to see your pets, and if you named them, with your names on them running around your garrison. These are not some random critters just running around, these are yours. When mining one day I ran into my amethyst spider and he followed me around while I was in my mine. When I went over to the fishing shack on my garrison I saw snarly, one of the crocodiles from the BC cooking dailies you can get, just chilling near the water. When he saw me he decided to follow me and did so for a good 5 minutes as I ran around my garrison. Then of course, just like any good hunter, I have my tiny sporebat always just flying around my garrison.
Sometimes it works out that you will see something that could put a smile on even the most frown filled faces in the world, a series of 5 or 6 of your pets all walking together through your garrison. I can just imagine them being some pet battle raid team on a mission. I think the flavor of them running around, seeing your pets, brings a type of life to the game no one could ever imagine until they see it.
At all levels of your garrison you see it grow and not only in terms of the buildings you make but in the terms of the surrounding area. When you start there is one tombstone in your make shift cemetery you regretfully needed to make because this is a savage land after all and one of the original people that helped you settle this land must have died while building the garrison and staking your claim to a piece of land on this new world. As your garrison grows so does the cemetery, which is just a sad fact of war, but it is also a very powerful and meaningful piece of story telling without ever saying a word.
Not only do your pets roam the garrison but there are also many strays that find their way to your land and it seems that your followers like having them around because they built a few little dog houses around the garrison, no doubt for all the strays there. Townie cats are nowhere near few and far between, you will see lots of them, but there are two dogs that are worth making note of.
Dog, our friend from the farm, made the trip with us and it only makes sense. He was a stray when we found him. It is not like he had a home anywhere else. His home is with us and he should come with us. His name is still simply dog and you can not change it, but for me after these years with him even if I could change it I don't think I would. His name is dog and that is what I will call him.
The other dog of note, a rambunctious pug named pippers that belongs to shelly, one of our earliest followers (most likely a different name on horde side) can often be seen running all over the place in seemingly no real direction but if you take the time to follow pippers you will find out something very interesting. See, pippers is one of those dogs that likes to bury things and the things he is burying seem to be your garrison supplies. So make sure to follow him around each time you upgrade your garrison and collect the supplies he buried on you. Even if you don't it won't hurt you, he is a little dog and can't take much, maybe 10 at a clip, but it is still an interesting bit of life going on behind the scenes, something you had nothing to do with, showing the game as a living area.
Then there are even the basic NPCs that are just there for flavor and don't have anything to say that play their role. From the steward in your barracks that will stop what he is doing even if he is sitting down eating and get up when you enter to stand at attention in front of you while you walk around and inspect the barracks, to the people that work in the buildings you build that will do the same. Some of the workers will drop what they are doing and walk up to you to see if you need anything.
Then there are some of those old school NPCs, like the panda fisherman that will walk away from you as you are trying to sell stuff to him. There are NPCs of all types, old school and new school that look at you like their commander and are always ready to serve you.
There is so much more flavor to the garrisons but I do not want to waste an entire post talking about just one thing.
The Buildings We All Get:
No matter what buildings you decide to build on your garrison there are some buildings you end up getting no matter what. In my opinion these are the most important ones there are. Perhaps that is why blizzard decided to give them to us as baseline and not make us have to make the hard decision of if we would get them or not.
You will get the farm, the fishing shack, the mine and the pet menagerie.
With the farm you will grow herbs and unlike with the farm on pandaria you do not need to plant anything, they will just grow on their own every day. No upkeep needed. Well, unless you call picking them to make room for more to grow upkeep. You will not only get herbs from the farm you will also collect draenic seeds which you will need to collect 500 of over time to get the level three plans to upgrade the farm.
Each profession needs different things than we are used to and as such you might need to get some specific herbs. Say you are a leather worker, you are going to need gorgrond flytraps for your daily. No need to worry about making your way to the auction house or having a friend help you or leveling an alt with herbalism. Just set your farm to grow gorgrond flytraps and nothing but gorgond flytraps and you will have all the herbs you will ever need.
With your mine you will be getting draenic stone along with your ore, just like you did with seeds in the farm along with your herbs. Also just the same as with the farm, do not worry if you are not a miner, you can mine your own mines. You will need to collect 500 stone to get the level 3 plans.
Both have the new gathering surprise of mobs that pop up, sort of like the rabbits or the birds we were used to in mists but these are better. When you kill them you get some materials. Makes them less annoying and if you are anything like me, it makes them something I actually like to see as opposed to cursing at the screen every time a damn bird appeared in mists.
The seeds are not used just to get the upgrades either, they are used for work orders, more on that in a little bit however. Lets move on to the fishing shack.
With the fishing shack you have a nice little area you can fish in. Sadly the fish don't really bite there so you will most likely not catch anything, or at least not catch anything all that often, you can still get skill ups from it however, but if you managed to snag some bait while out in the world fishing and use that bait while you are at your farm you can catch that type of fish as well as more bait while fishing in your very own garrison. Sure some fish still can not be caught there but most of the stuff you will want can be and with bait it is a higher catch rate so it is better then heading out into the world and trying to find pools.
Last but not least from the upgradable buildings is the pet menagerie. It is once you hit level 2 that some of your pets start to hang out and level 3 is where more start to hang out. They have their cages there, but they are open door cages. Who would want to keep them locked up, after all seeing them run around your garrison is half the fun of them. Also at level 3 you get a new pet battle daily that will appear in your garrison with different match ups each day offering a different challenge.
Battles like you vs stitches jr. Any alliance player from the pre cataclysm era will remember stitches and how he would be the death of so many hapless adventurers that happened to quests in the area. Seems his son is now a pet battle and not a push over either. Ignoring any and all damage that hits for less than 500 per hit and having over 6,000 health he poses as a formidable opponent, just like dad.
You will also get some smaller buildings, ones that are not meant to be upgraded, most coming at level 3 of your garrison. Such as the tower that gives you a portal to the new city hub outside of ashran. You will also get your very own set of training dummies. A damage dealer dummy, a tanking dummy and a healing dummy. Be careful of the tanking dummy even as a tank because it means near instant death if you are not ready for it. There is also room for the garrison to grow so who knows what they might have planned for us in future patches.
The Buildings We Build:
I will not get too deep into what each building does because that will be a post all of its own but for the record I will go over what buildings we have to choose from, and a hard choice it will be because there are so many solid options.
You will be allowed to build 2 large buildings and one will be part of a start up questing, the barracks, which means you basically get to add one more. Although you can remove a building at any time and the barracks seems a little lackluster with what it offers, it might be worth keeping for you, if it fits your play style, but as I said, more on that in another post.
The large building options are the barracks, the dwarven bunker / war mill, gnomish gearworks / goblin workshop, mage tower / spirit lodge, and stables.
You will be allowed to build 2 medium sized buildings and the options are the barn, the gladiator sanctum, the lumber mill, the inn / tavern, and the trading post. They all have reasons to get them but choosing which ones you want can be a little complex and need some decision making that I will mention in the post about building later, but I will say if you PvP you want the gladiator sanctum. That is an easy one that takes no decision making at all to suggest.
For the small buildings they mostly revolve around professions and their work orders, which I will talk about next, can really make choosing the right one interesting. The profession based small buildings are the alchemy lab, enchanters study, engineering works, gem boutique, scribes quarters, tailoring emporium, the forge and the tannery. There are two non profession based buildings worth considering as well in the form of the salvage yard and the storehouse.
As I mentioned, all buildings of all sizes are good to have, even the profession ones when you do not even have the profession yourself is good to have, there is a lot of decision making to go into it when choosing which ones you want to build. As such, to not completely take up the next hour of your life while this post is already going to be very long, I will save the deeper information for a later date.
I will note however that you can not only build any building you want, but you can rip any building down. So there will never be any wrong choices. Everything will have its value. The only one that holds no, or more, value is the gladiator sanctum, as it is tied to PvP. The less you PvP the less likely you will be to like it and the more you PvP the more likely you will be to want it. All other builds are good no matter what your play style is.
Many buildings offer you the option to fill out work orders. Like the farm allows you to make a work order with 25 draenic seeds. When the order is filled you will get a fair amount of herbs from it. The mine allows you to make a work order with 25 draenic stone that will net you some extra ore when it is filled. Things like that, but not really always so straight forward.
Some work orders, like from the trading post, are not always the same. They might ask for 10 pieces of fur today to make a work order and tomorrow they will be asking for 10 nagrand arrowbloom and the day after maybe 10 ore. So it is not like you can just stock up on thing expecting to always use it there. No matter what you make a work order for there you end up with garrison supplies. So at least the end result is predictable.
For the enchanters study you end up needing ore to make a work order, but with your mine on premises that should be no real issue. Many of the profession work orders ask you for stuff that might seem odd at first. For professions like blacksmith, tailor, leather worker and alchemy, your work orders net you the catalysts you need for so many of the things you craft, as well as giving you a small chance at getting some of the rare but needed sorcerous items like air, earth, fire and water.
With work orders you can take a surplus of one item and turn it into another item that might have more use depending on your building set up. This puts a lot more importance into which buildings you choose because some interact very well with others.
With work orders you can do one at a time (usually) at level 1 for the building, 3 at a time (usually) at level 2 for the building and 5 at a time (usually) at level 3 of the building. It takes only 1 minute to fill one work order so if you really wanted to you could convert a massive amount of your frostweed into alchemical catalysts if you are willing to spend the time there waiting on your work orders to be filled.
I honestly do not believe it will go live in its present state where you can make as many work orders as you wish as long as you are willing to spend the time there. I think blizzard will put a cap on how many work orders you can do per day but if they do not then I would have no problem with that. I sort of like being able to turn all my extra ore into enchanting materials. Heck, who wouldn't.
This is where you build your garrison from and I should have made it the first thing I mentioned, but it really does not have a lot to say about it. You use this interface to add buildings, remove buildings, upgrade buildings, or assign followers to buildings.
It is worth noting, unless it is a bug, that when you assign a follower to a building they do not get any experience which means they can not level up. So unless they change that I suggest leveling up the follower before you assign them to work in a building.
For people without alts where they can't have different characters work on different buildings to work on all the achievements I see them spending a fair deal of time here building, upgrading, and then destroying buildings as they hunt after achievements such as collecting waystones for the mage tower and then ditching it after the got the achievements tied to it. Even at that this part of the garrisons will be mostly unused after you build your garrison the way you like it. Unless you change your mind on one of your buildings that is. It is nice to have something like this, so no decisions are life long ones.
In this section it would be worth noting how you upgrade your buildings however. At level 93, or based on zone progression, you can upgrade your garrison to level 2 and at level 100 you can upgrade it to level 3. The buildings on your garrison can only be as high as your garrison level, so of course you want to upgrade your garrison as soon as you can.
You can buy many of the blueprints for building upgrades from a vendor, once you are high enough, at the cost of gold in your garrison right next to the architect table. Do not be so quick to waste the gold however because doing your quest progression you will get items that you can trade in for blueprints, which means you save gold.
The person you trade them in for blueprints is in our city hubs outside of ashran. It is worth trading them in and saving some gold because if you buy everything there is really no other use for those items you get from the quests and they can not be vendored. So they either clutter up bag space for no reason or you throw them away. Might as well buy your blueprints with them instead of gold if you ask me.
For some blueprints you need to do quests to get them, such as with a leather working building, known as the tannery. If you want to build that and you are a leather worker, you need to do a quest to get the building. There are many professions like that, ones that require you to do a quest to get your profession building, but not all.
For other blueprints you need to meet some achievement requirements. Like I mentioned with the farm and the mine were you needed to gather 500 draenic seeds or stones each to get the level 3 building. Something like when you gather 500 draenic stone you get an achievement for gathering 500 stone and in turn that gets you the blueprint for the level 3 mine.
There are many level 3 plans that tie themselves into the buildings. But none of them would require you to do anything different than you would be doing anyway. If you are using the mine you will get the stone and from getting the stone you will get the pattern. For building the gladiator sanctum you will be PvPing so you will be collecting broken bones so you will get the 4000 needed to get to level 3. So none of the patterns will require you to do anything different than you would be doing to begin with.
When building a building and upgrading one, you will be using garrison resources. You will collect them from all over the place. Quests in the world, rare mobs drop them, you have a treasure chest in your garrison you can loot that collected them up, and as I mentioned the trading post, should you have it, can convert various materials into resources.
Not only are resources used but gold is needed as well. Some buildings are upwards of 5000 gold, but do not fret, not all are and most have no cost outside of garrison resources. All building, not counting the free ones, take time to build and after they are finished you need to finalize them.
There is the pet daily that I mentioned earlier and there is one more daily quest you can do. It is one that will send you to some area from your command desk where you need to kill a large amount of mobs. They do not tell you how many you need to kill but will give you a percentage bar. Killing normal mobs might get you one percent and killing an elite might get you 5 or 10 percent and if you are lucky enough to encounter a rare in that area you could get upwards, if not more, than 30 percent of your completion on that one mob. You will get to choose between two areas of the day. I usually choose the closest one, to get it done faster. It nets you some gold and apexis crystals, which can be used to buy, and later upgrade, a few pieces of gear. This is really your only daily. And no, any apexis crystals you have saved up in your bank from BC do not count, mine are still in my bank and can not be spent like that. Ah shucks.
However, there are some other dailies but only if you build the inn / tavern. You will get two travelers visiting each day giving you daily dungeon quests. You might notice some of the names of the visitors because we have all seen them while questing. These can be fun one time things because they all give you little goodies for completing them but sadly like everything else this expansion these quests are one hit wonders, once you do them it is really not worth doing them again because you already would have the goodie they offer.
Now for non daily quests. Sometimes you will have a quest pop up, once a week I believe, I have not been around longer to try it much, and it will send you on a quest line somewhere in the world. I've done two so far and the second one gave me a mole machine that automatically brings me to gorgrond, which is kind of cool. I am guessing there might be some other quest lines that pop up in time but I can not say for sure until I see them.
There are also quests for invasions which is another topic so lets get to it.
Not sure if it is just a beta thing or if it will hit this way live (I sure hope it does) but you can do invasions of your garrison over and over. Invasions can be sort of fun and even more fun if you can do it with friends. You get some apexis crystals for completing them and the better you do and more bonus objectives you complete the more you get. You can get bronze, silver and gold medals for competing them and turn them in for rewards.
This could be a fair way to gather some apexis crystals if that is your sort of thing, or a way to waste some time. There are many objectives in it, but most are just the simple score 200 points, score 500 points, so forth and so on. You will have NPCs get injured that you can heal by clicking on them. There will be someone trying to rob your mine that you have to stop, there will be buildings you have to try to keep from getting set on fire, large mobs, small mobs, many mobs, just handle it.
Of course, like with anything else in game, there are many achievements tied to these invasions so I know I will be doing them for those and it could take me a while to get them all, depending on gear acquisition of course and if I can get some friends to help me.
Your followers are all there helping you, so it makes sense to level them all up so they are better at defending your garrison. Also getting them gear will be really important too. The better geared they are the better they can defend. And even at low levels they are not just your basic useless NPCs. They really do help and they can really handle mobs on their own. So if planned correctly you can have them protect the gate while you stop the guy trying to rob your mine.
There is a lot of seemingly real interaction in garrisons that show they put a lot of work into them and invasions are no different. From some of your followers ushering out civilians when the battle starts, to multiple events going on at once, to your crew working on their own and actually being useful doing so. Invasions are very well written, and at least while new, pretty fun to do.
Followers are people that hang around your garrison but are under your direct control. People who have pledged themselves to your service. Just like you can get books to trade for blueprints while questing you get the vast majority of your followers through questing as well, even more so if you do not have an inn. So it is worth questing to get them.
If you have the inn you can recruit one follower a week from there and random followers show up each week to choose from. In this current beta the follower recruitment screen seems to be broken and is only showing one follower whom I can not recruit. In previous builds it would show 3 followers and I could choose to recruit one. I am going to say that is the way it is intended to work and it is just currently broken, but who can say for sure at the moment.
Some followers, like good old leeroy jenkins can be attained through achievements and as you might guess the achievement to get him is tied to the new upper blackrock spire remake which has a new achievement for him. Other followers, like nat pagle, require you to do a long quest line to get them and meet certain requirements before you even know about them such as having a fishing shack of level 3 and max fishing before you even can consider starting the quest line for good old nat, my best friend, who seems to have forgotten me. But I guess it is fair, even if he was my best friend from last expansion I never even knew he was a marksmen hunter. So maybe he is mad at me and that is why I need to once again win him over like I have in multiple expansions now.
Each follower has their own strengths and weaknesses. Some followers preform better when on solo missions, some work better with a dwarf in the group, some like missions in grassland. Each follower has their unique set of abilities and likes and using them for the right missions increases their chances of success.
Your followers with their unique set of abilities make up for a team that you send out for special missions directly. You are the commander and they are your troops. You can only have 20 followers, 25 if you have a level 3 barracks, but you can dismiss them without worry. Even the followers you let go you can get back so don't fret, at least that is how it seems on beta and I sure hope that makes it live. I dread the idea of dismissing someone I find out I would want later on and having no way to get them back. So I am glad they put that in on the last build, lets just hope it makes it to live.
Your followers start at or near the level of the zone in which you pick them up in. So for example the first followers you will get will be level 90. When you level them up to level 100 they will be able to equip items but not the same type of items we use. They are simply known as follower weapon and follower armor. You can get things, mostly through the salvage yard (so far that is the only consistent place I have found) and missions that can be used to upgrade them. Things like +2 or +4 to weapon or 615 armor set.
So now that we know how to get followers and how to equip them, how do we level them. Lets take a look at missions.
Now this is the central focus of what your followers are for. You will level them through missions and your missions will get you a lot of good things. The number one thing missions give you is experience for your followers to level but that is not it.
You can get things from missions that upgrade your followers weapons or armor. You can get other followers from missions. You can gain conquest points through missions. You can get gold from missions. You can get fun toys through missions. You can even get armor for yourself through missions and who would not like getting a 630 piece really early on.
Missions seem to range from 30 minutes to 16 hours long. Of course the longer the mission the better the reward as you might expect but also the harder the mission will be to complete. If you are active early on with lots of those short missions you can level up your followers in a reasonable amount of time. If you are once a day person it will take a bit longer of course.
Each mission it will show you were you are going and what you are doing. If you have a follower that is good vs orges and the mission requires you to kill orges it will greatly increase your chances at a successful mission. Some missions need multiple followers to go on them and having followers that not only match up against the mission they are going on, like someone with beast slaying going against beasts, it will also increase the chance of success if the group works well together. So if you pair someone that works better with dwarves with a dwarf it will increase the chance of success.
I know that all seems a little over whelming because you need to factor in what you are facing, the class they are playing to counter it, the area it is so you can pick who fights well in that area, and the personal traits of the follower to get the maximum chance at success but it really isn't.
When a follower is good at something it will tell you that, you do not need to go figure it out all on your own. Things like people who prefer to be alone or like to work with dwarves however you need to figure out on your own by looking at them but the system tells you, very visually so you can not miss it, who is the best person to send on the mission. So it will not be as hard as it sounds. And even in failure, your followers will still get some experience. So even in the worse case, you still win. You just do not get the objective loot.
Home Is Where The Hearth Is:
One last thing before I leave this post. When you first get your garrison, you will get a garrison hearthstone, effectively it will be to get you back here and work as a second hearthstone. When your garrison reaches level 3 you will have a tower that you can teleport directly to your new faction hub near ashran, which means your garrison hearth works like a second hearth truly. It not only gets you to your garrison, but with a few steps it gets you too your city hub which in turn has teleports to every major city. So this frees up your actual hearthstone to use anywhere. Kind of cool right?
Well, there is a more to it, a lot more really. More things you can win, other things you can do, more people to see, follower to, ah, follow you, but this is the basic idea behind garrisons. If you are anything like me, this will be your home. It is the only feature to be added this expansion and even if it has a lot less than it did when we first heard about it it sure is still very well done.