Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Follower Leveling and Mission Advice

Your mission table at your garrison contains a mini game in its own right, one filled with randomness but not completely lacking in the need for planning and preparation.  In an effort to work a plan of attack for the most important missions I decided that I would share my findings and opinions on building up to complete these quests in a hope it can help others level their followers and properly prepare them for missions.

Leveling Your Followers:

The more active you are the more missions you can do, it really is as simple as that.  Even if your followers fail at their missions they will receive some experience, but of course you want to try to succeed when doing thenm as success offers more experience and sometimes great rewards.

1) Available Missions:

What missions you have available at your garrison depends on what level followers you have.  Missions offered to you are usually equal to the level of your characters, which in some cases can cause problems leveling them.  To avoid running into a series of missions with low success chances and or mostly missions which you can not do I suggest you keep a few low level followers active.

By keeping a few lower level followers active you will assure you have some lower level quests.  For example, if you keep a level 92, a level 94 and a level 98 active when your others are all at level 100 you will most likely see a selection of 92, 94, 98 and 100 missions available for you at your mission table.

Why do we want lower level missions you might ask.  The answer is simple.  We want them because they are more likely to have a higher success rate.  This means more salvage boxes if you have a salvage yard, which you should have, and more rewards, be it gold, experience, garrison supplies, gear, what have you.  They are also usually shorter meaning you can do more missions with your time.

It is also worth noting that even if you only have one level 100 you will start getting 100 missions that require 3 followers, which of course you will not be capable of doing with any reasonable rate of success.  This extends to when you start to gear followers.  As soon as you reach 615 on one follower you will start getting missions that require three 615 followers.  Same goes for 630 and 645.  So I can not stress enough that when you start to gear your followers, as inviting as it might seem to pile all those upgrades into one so they can get to a high item level, do not do that, or you will be flooded with a bunch of missions for high item level followers and only have 1 follower capable of doing them.  More on this gear leveling later. Slow and steady wins the race in this case.

2) Leveling Past 100:

You can level your characters past 100.  There are rarity levels of uncommon, rare and epic.  Every follower can become an epic and you should keep doing as many missions as possible once you reach level 100 until you get every follower to epic.

Once a follower is epic it will gain an additional main ability.  This ability is completely random, so my epic of Delvar might be different, much different, from your epic Delvar.  This is also why during this post I will speak about abilities of your followers, not specific followers.  Because which followers have which ability is random past their preset starting ability.

Past the rarity leveling, for which epic is the maximum a follower can get which awards the additional ability, there is gear leveling.  With your salvage yard, which I suggest you have, you will be getting follower upgrade items to upgrade their gear level.  Along with the dwarven bunker /war mill, should you have it, which could supply a few more upgrades, you can start gearing up your followers in two specific slots only.  A weapon slot and an armor slot.  You can only apply gear to a level 100 follower regardless of quality.  Currently the max item level any follower can be is 655.

So just because your follower has reached level 100 does not mean their leveling is over.  You will need to keep working on them until they are max rarity and max item level.

3) Gearing Your Follower:

The salvage yard and the dwarven bunker / war mill are the only two ways, outside of the occasional mission, to get gear for your followers.  I suggest everyone have a salvage yard.  You can use a bunker / mill as well if you wish to speed things up but that is entirely up to you as there are other buildings in the same slot size which are options that many like whereas there are very few decent choices for small slots making it so that putting the salvage yard in one of the small slots goes without saying.

I suggest when gearing followers you do not funnel all gear into one follower because you will start to trigger missions based on your followers item level that you have no chance of ever completing, as mentioned above.

There are two types of gear upgrades you can get for your followers.  A flat +3, +6 or +9 increase to armor or weapon and a base 615, 630 or 645 armor or weapon upgrade.

Now, this is all going to depend on how much space you have and are willing to invest as well as your luck getting these upgrade items, but here is my suggestion for leveling up your followers with gear.

Wait until you get the base pieces, as in the ones that say equip a 615 item level weapon.  The reason for this is that if you invested two +3 weapon upgrades into a character they would now have a 606 weapon.  If you later use the 615 weapon one on them it would give them a 615 weapon and forget you ever added the two +3 upgrades.  So you would end up having a 615 weapon only whereas if you saved those two +3 pieces until you had the 615 applied and then used them you would have a 621 item level weapon.

If you are unlucky, like my druid who as 28 +3, +6 or +9 pieces and is stockpiling them, and no they do not stack so you need space to do this, you can of course give up and put them into one of the followers instead of waiting until you get the base piece.  That is completely fine.  Just do not use a base piece on a follower that already has some upgrades because it would be wasting upgrades, and there will be many followers you want to gear up that you can use it on later.

4) Max Gearing For Missions:

In the final step of leveling your follower, after it is epic and you have started to apply some gear to it, you will open new missions as you level up.  When you have at least one follower at each 615, 630 and 645 item level it will open up new quests that require all followers to have a 615, 630 and 645 item level.

As that is the case I suggest you try to level your followers, at least as best you can, close to each other.  It would be better for you to have three different 615 item level followers than to have funneled all that gear into one follower and that one follower be 645.

If you have three followers at 615, you will open up the 615 missions and might have a chance to finish those missions, should you have the right talents.  If you have one follower at 645 you will unlock the 615, 630 and 645 missions and you will not be capable of doing any of them.  Unless you think your luck is good enough to complete a 0% or 7% or 11% chance, at best, mission on a regular basis.

One might ask why you would need more than 3 followers maxed out and the answer is two fold.  One is the more followers you have the more missions you can send them out on meaning more boxes, more gear, more rewards, etc.  Two is that not all 645 epic followers are equal.  They might all have two main abilities and three lesser traits but they might not have the ones you need.

It is entirely possible to have three followers completely maxed in item level and rarity and get a level 645 quest and still no real reasonable chance at success.  That missions might require certain skills your 645 followers just do not have, so having a nice mix of followers high up will greatly increase your chances at success.  So yeah, you need all your characters up high, not just one or three.

The Big Mission:

If you are like me the most important missions will be the raid missions.  The raid missions offer you raid quality gear equal to one level higher than your current raid progression.   This means that if you have never done a raid, as is where we all are right this moment until the new raids are out, if you get a raid mission it will offer you a piece of random 655 gear.  Once the raids are out if you finish normal your raid quest can offer you one piece of 670 heroic raid gear.  If you finish heroic the raid mission will offer you one piece of 685 mythic gear.  And last but not least, if you finish mythic the raid mission will give you one piece of mythic gear and a nice little chunk of gold.

These missions are rumored to have a two and a half week cooldown between when they will appear, so you can not really gear up this way but even if you only get one piece of raid gear equal to one level higher than that character has ever raided every two and a half weeks, that is nothing to sneeze at, and is even something that could be huge for an alt.

As these are the hardest missions to complete you want to build your follower team around completing them.  Not only so you can get to a 100% completion rate on them but so you can basically do every other mission that might pop up with the same all star cast of followers.

1) Preparing For The Big Mission:

There are 4 different raid quests.  These 4 quests are the exact same no matter which one you are going for, the 655 item one, the 670 item level one, the 685 item level one or the 685 item level plus gold one.  So you basically need to build a team to handle each of the four of these to assure you have the right team to get to a 100% completion rate, or as close to it as possible.

Unlike a lot of the missions you might be used to seeing, these missions are not as simple to set up the right team to counter them.  You will need to be able to counter 6 abilities.  Having the appropriate traits for the team make up won't hurt either, even more so if you happen to be missing one of the 6 ability counters you need.

This is why I said you want to keep leveling all your followers past 100.  Not only will they all need to be over 645 item level but they need to be epic.  Not a suggestion, they really do need to be epic.  Sure you can get by with less if you are lucky, but if you want to get to that 100% chance to complete it, they absolutely need to be epic.

When a follower is epic they get a second random ability.  The name of the ability is of no real consequence, but what it counters is.  That is how we refer to things here.  If I mentioned a follower has the Massive Strike ability that does not mean he has it, that means he has the counter for it.

2) Knowing The Counters:

There are nine different abilities you will run into and across the four raid missions you will encounter you will need to be able to counter every one of them in one or the other.  The logic behind the counters is rather simple really.  For example a blood DK follower might have the bone shield ability which would naturally counter the massive strike ability.  But remember, even if Delvar, for alliance, comes with the massive strike counter, once he reaches epic he will get another counter.  It could be anything really, as the system is random.  So I can not suggest him specifically should you run into something with massive strike and danger zones.  Maybe my Devlar might be perfect because my second ability counters danger zones, but yours might not have that same second ability.

So when picking your team do not pick by the name of the character because you like them.  Do not pick based on the class of the character because you think a priest might be good for the fight.  Do not pick by the spec of the character because you think a tank might be perfect for it.  Pick based on what abilities that character can counter.  It is entirely possible to find yourself with a hunter from the inn that just so happens to have the counters for massive strike and wild aggression, something you might think would be more natural for a tank to have.

Do not let judgement on the followers cloud your vision.  The best follower for the job is the one that counters exactly what you need to counter.  Who or what the character is otherwise is meaningless.  Unless it is Nat Pagle, because he is awesome and can solo all the raid quests (disclaimer: just kidding if you didn't notice that).

Danger Zones: (DZ) An ability that effects a target area and must be avoided or escaped.
Deadly Minions: (DM) An enemy with powerful allies that should be neutralized.
Group Damage: (GD) An ability that deals damage to multiple party members.
Magic Debuff: (MD) A dangerous harmful effect that should be dispelled.
Massive Strike: (MaS) An ability that deals massive damage.
Minion Swarms: (MiS) An enemy with many allies. Susceptible to area of effect damage.
Powerful Spell: (PS) A dangerous spell that must be interrupted.
Timed Battle: (TB) An enemy that must be dealt with quickly.
Wild Aggression: (WA) An unpredictable enemy whose aggression should be controlled.

3) Building Your Team:

Once again I will note, I can not give you names because the abilities past the preset on a few are random.  I will only tell you what you need to counter.  Whichever follower you have that can counter those abilities is the best to use.

Note:  It does not seem to matter where your characters are placed in the group, as long as all the abilities are countered you can reach 100%.  For example, if the first guy you put in counters something from the first enemy and the third enemy it is just fine.

Quest 1:

Enemy One: (WA) (DM)
Enemy Two: (MaS) (TB)
Enemy Three: (DZ) (PS)
Bonus Trait: Swamp

Quest 2:

Enemy One: (WA) (GD)
Enemy Two: (GD) (DZ)
Enemy Three: (MiS) (MD)
Bonus Trait: Gronslayer

Quest 3:

Enemy One: (MaS) (TB)
Enemy Two: (MiS) (MD)
Enemy Three: (DM) (TB)
Bonus Trait: Ogreslayer

Quest 4:

Enemy One: (WA) (DM)
Enemy Two: (DZ) (PS)
Enemy Three:  (DM) (TB)
Bonus Trait: Plains

Note:  You can use the supreme manual of dance to add a trait to any single character which would add the dancer trait that counters danger zones.  Be aware you will also lose something random in the process, even if the item does not suggest that.

The idea is to get enough followers with the appropriate skills to be able to match all the possible combinations.  There will be a little luck involved as the second counter is always random so it is quite possible that you will need an inn to recruit people and level up many followers to epic to find the perfect team.

In theory the absolute worse case, should you find all counters exactly as they are listed, is you will need 12 followers maxed out in both gear and rarity.  While that does not sound hard, getting the perfect abilities might prove to be so.

It is true that you can lower that number considerably.  For example, as you might have noticed, every fight that requires (WA) also needs a counter for (DZ) so if you happen to have someone with both abilities you can lower that required number of followers you would need to have maxed out to 10.

Being I am just writing this up now I have not delved into what would be the perfect set up to look for in terms of the minimum number of followers needed to do this.  But even at 10 or 12 it should not be too hard to get all those characters to epic and at or above a 645 item level, even if it will require a bit of time to do so.

Even if you can only match 5 of the 6, which is much more likely early on unless you get perfectly lucky with abilities, you can still push your chances at success well over the 90% mark with traits.  If you are capable of matching the bonus trait you will push your completion rate up.  Also, depending on the members of your group, for example, like if you have a dwarf  and another person has the trait that increases success rates when grouped with a dwarf it will help.  Having a follower with high stamina which increases success rates on missions over 7 hours, as these are, will also prove helpful.  So even with only 5 abilities it is entirely possible to still get a completion rate well over 90% thanks to traits.  Of the one of these I have done so far I only had 5 abilities but thanks to traits I had a 93% success rate and won myself a piece of gear from the highmaul raid before it even came out.

The Ultimate Follower Mission Garrison Build:

For my alts that I rarely play but might consider using later down the line, so I might like for them to have a few decent pieces of gear, I have devised a plan of attack to make sure that my followers are up to the task of completing missions with maximum efficiency.  This will allow those alts to get at least one piece of normal mode raid gear every couple of weeks.  Not to shabby if you ask me for a character that I do not intend to really leave the garrison with much after it hits max level.

1) Large Buildings:

Slot 1:

Barracks:  The reason for keeping that starting barracks is for two things.  First is that at level 1 it opens patrol missions, which will help level followers and often are shorter missions which means you can send them out more often meaning more chances at getting salvage.

Once the barracks reaches level 3 it will allow you to keep 25 active followers instead of 20 which can be both a quality of life thing and make it easier to keep enough followers on hand to do each and every possible raid mission that pops up.

Slot 2:

Dwarven Bunker / War Mill:  The reason for this building, like the barracks, is two fold.  At level 3 the dwarven bunker will give you one seal of tempered fate which allows you an extra roll on gear.  For an alt that you rarely get into a raid, and play less often, it would be easy to forget to pick up your free roll coins, this assures you get some extra rolls even if you forget.

The main reason for the bunker / mill however is for your followers.  Work orders have a chance to give follower gear upgrades.  You will need a nice selection of 645+ followers if you want to assure you are going to finish those raid missions so having a way to gear them up faster is, without a doubt, a good thing.

2) Medium Buildings:

Slot 1:

Inn: At level 2 of the inn you can start recruiting followers and this is huge.  You will be leveling followers like crazy to try and find the best team to get those missions done, this means you need to luck into them having the right abilities for it.  You will at least be able to start by looking for which one ability they will have for sure which is a start.  After they level up you will just hope and pray that their second ability is what you want.  For example if you can really use someone that counters (MS) and (DZ) you can choose to search for recruits with (MS) and keep leveling them to epic until you get lucky enough to get one that procs (DZ) as its second ability.  Sure it could take a while, but for an alt, all they have is time.

The level three inn also opens up treasure missions which will be a perfect thing to do while waiting for your new raid mission to pop up.  You will have, with this set up, a massive collection of well geared followers, might as well put them to work on treasure missions so they can make you some gold while you wait for the next raid mission to appear.

Slot 2:

Trading Post:  A trading post is a great way to generate some garrison resources and being you will need resources for bunker / mill work orders this works as a nice counter point.  Not to mention if this is an alt just farming up some gear in case you ever play them that would mean you most likely have a main, or mains, to funnel them anything they would ever need for their work orders.

3) Small Buildings:

Slot 1:

Salvage Yard:  There are no ifs, ands, or buts about the salvage yard here.  Every character should have one because it is great for followers so of course a follower mission alt will have to have it.  If there was ever one building that you could call a no brain needed decision, this is it.  Once you reach level 2 you can start getting follower upgrade items from the salvage yard and that is when this building really starts to work.

At level 3 your garrison missions will start giving you big crates of salvage and in those, aside from the follower item we are already seeking, you have a chance to get 665 BoE items which are either good to sell, use, or send to another alt that might need it.

Slot 2 and 3:

Whatever you want can go here.  There really are no other great follower centric buildings that can be put into these spots.  Maybe a storehouse for quick access to your bank, where you might have upgrade items stored to save some bag space, could be a good thing.  But that is entirely up to you.  There are no really solid must have choices here.

There you have it, a garrison that is built with the sole intention of building up your followers gear level so they could in turn get your alt gear so they can easily play catch up if you ever decide to play them.  This build might also work suitably for someone that has zero intention of ever raiding as it would be the only way they will ever be able to get raid gear.

Hope my babbling helped you some, good luck on your missions.


  1. FYI, The dancer trait randomly replaces another trait. The tooltip doesn't say that, but it's been confirmed by the devs. A lot of people were pissed off about it since it says "adds" when it really needs to say "replaces". The hearthstone one is the same way.

    1. I would be pissed off too. I have not come across one myself to try it but if I used one and ended up losing something there would be a very angry ticket with some choice words in it, that is for sure.

    2. I think best use of dancer trait is to replace profession trait on someone green with profession you absolutely not going to care about; everything else risks replacing something actually good.

    3. That is actually an excellent idea. Like getting rid of something you have a lot of to get that. But I would fear when they reach epic they end up getting the same trait you tried to replace.

      I think it would be better as a third trait. Sure it would be powerful, but it is not like they are just giving them away. Seven characters doing daily missions (more coming later) and I have easily done over 3000 missions across them all and I have only seen one of them. So it is not like it would be easy to make every character OP with it. It should do as it says and ADD something to the character.

    4. i tried to replace an unused profession with it, and it didn't work. should have used it on a green, not blue. worst thing about it is the fact that it is worth less than a normal danger zones counter.

    5. I figured if anything it would replace a trait and not an ability as it is a trait and not an ability. But that would have been way to logical for blizzard I guess. Sounds weird a train would replace an ability.

  2. For what it's worth you have both Massive Strike and Minion Swarm abbreviated as MS in the "Knowing The Counters" section making "Building Your Team" section hard to understand. Otherwise everything looks good and we all appreciate the effort you put into this site.

    1. Opps, did not even notice that. Funny how when typing it you over look your own errors like that. Thanks for letting me know, I will change it.

  3. Any idea how long "The Big Missions" remain in your queue before disappearing? I have one but my percentage chance to complete is at about 55%. I'd like to work followers as long as possible to up that, but don't want it to disappear unused.

    I wish that I'd seen your recommendation to hold off on upgrading item levels on followers until I have quite a few to do at once. While space is becoming an issue -- I am at the point of needing to trash green upgrades now -- I'd have figured it out to handle blue and purple item upgrades as a group.

    As usual, great guide.

    1. Rumors only here but I have heard people say 2 weeks while I believe it to be less. I could swear I saw a mission I wanted to do and did not have the followers for it and it disappeared before I had the chance to. But that was less than a week. However, with multiple 100s I could have easily made a mistake confusing 2 different ones, so do not hold me to that.

      Either way, when I see something I want, I try to make sure to do it within a week, and have not lost one that way since I started watching that. So a week is safe, that seems for sure.

      I am like that on one of my characters. I have something like 40 upgrades and only 3 100s. Want to wait until I have a few more before I start using them, but might have to because I am really running low on space being they do not stack.

    2. Having the upgrades stack in your bank would be a huge QOL bonus. Blizzard only rolls those out slowly. Actually, I'm assuming these are gated behind some arcane company policy.

      I'm also waiting for pet charms to become part of the currency tab. Not holding my breath, however.

    3. Pet charms as currency and upgrade tokens stacking are something I expect in the 6.1 patch, maybe even sooner.

      Remember when mists started and we all had banks filled with lesser charms. Wow that was annoying. I wonder why blizzard keeps forgetting about the simple things like that.

  4. few things, the upgrades now stack, i believe it was a stealth fix that is documented nowhere, just hit cleanup inventory button to stack them up. Secondly get the master plan ,garrison mission manager and garrison broker addons. One of them adds the idle duration/time to live for each mission panel, other one automatically forms teams for highest possible success chance and shows top 3 suggestions and the last one can let you track garrison missions and work orders across alts.
    -straws of purified

    1. I saw that change, so nice to see they listened to people on that one. But not all seem to stack, bug or because they are from different places, like missions or salvage crates, still not sure. But at least they take up a lot less space.