WoW! Thoughts! — On the Role of Garrisons in Warlords of Draenor

Thoughts on how what we know about garrisons gives us insight into Warlords' endgame and also the story of the expansion.

Garrisons

Garrisons are coming in Warlords of Draenor.  We’ve seen some of the art.  We’ve been told some of what they will offer.  We know that they are World of Warcraft’s implementation of what player housing should be.  Rather than just providing players with a small space to call their own (with the only activity being to decorate it), garrisons will give us an entire base to run. Given that blueprints for upgrading garrisons will be rewards for end-game level content, it seems that these new homes are going to be quite central to our stay in Draenor.

Garrisons are the next logical upgrade after the experiment in personal space that was Mists of Pandaria’s farm.  The farm allowed us to literally harvest our own resources – be it food for cooking or mats for crafting.  Yet throughout Mists, it evolved into so much more.  Beyond the unlockable mailbox, patch 5.1 brought Barnaby Fletcher out of Dalaran’s sewers to become the itinerant portal vendor, allowing players to plant a shard and reap a portal to a random faction city the next day.  Patch 5.2 introduced work orders so that players could get daily quests to ease the reputation grind across the assorted factions.  It also made the farm outright purchasable from Farmer Yoon.  This resulted in the ability to bind one’s hearthstone to the farm so that it could be a center of operations for the player.  Nearby Halfhill provided repair vendors, and the Vale of Eternal Blossoms was still a short flight away.

Garrisons promise to do all that and more.  We’ll have profession vendors to give us access to skill we don’t have.  There will be plots for collecting mats as on the farm.  The mage tower will provide portals.  Garrisons seem like they will offer everything we expect in a major city, which leaves one to wonder exactly what the role of these bases will be.

As in Mists, the Alliance and Horde will each have an outpost to serve as their faction’s central station for the expansion.  In Mists, those were the Shrines in the Vale of Eternal Blossoms, which players could not unlock until level 87.  In Warlords, it seems that the Alliance will gather at the Temple of Karabor, and the Horde will assemble at Bladespire Citadel.  What is interesting to note is that these are unlocked during the series of starting quests – meaning that players will have access to these cities for the duration of their stay on Draenor.  Other than Cataclysm, where the central hubs of activity were Stormwind and Orgrimmar, that has never happened before; Shattrath, Dalaran, and the Shrines were all centrally located on the maps for their respective expansions, and without a player rushing headlong through dangerous territory, they were gated behind a few levels of content.  The fact that the cities in Draenor will be accessible seemingly immediately upon arrival implies that while Karabor and Bladespire will serve us for our early operations, we will be migrating somewhere else for our late game focus.   That somewhere would be our garrisons.

In addition to being customizable and providing several of the amenities we would expect, it makes sense that the garrisons would receive such significance.  What is known of Warlords‘ story so far is that players are sent on a perceived suicide mission through the now-red Dark Portal.  We’ve ventured into new territory before, and in Warcraft style, we have conquered and built up the land with structures befitting our races.  (As in Twilight Highlands or the Krasarang Wilds.)  If Nazgrim could climb the Horde ranks from Sergeant to General and lead the Horde mission into Pandaria, then it is logical that the soldiers who served alongside him and ultimately killed him would be tasked with leading future missions, such as spearheading an attack into Draenor.  The garrison will be our fortress to maintain, with an army of adventurers for us to recruit and manage, just as we were recruited for missions and managed.  By putting us in charge of such an outpost, it means that we will be in charge of our faction operations in Draenor.

The only problem with giving garrisons such a large role is that players will have quite a large space set aside for themselves.  The farm itself was only a small plot of land with a handful of variables affecting the player. Garrisons are larger in scope, and so they will require an increase in processing power to track all those players in each of those separate versions of the same space.  This is why there will be several plots for building your garrison.  Not only does this give players an extra option for personalization by choosing the environment they live in, but it also reduces server load, as instead of having to instance the space for an entire faction’s population, it will only be one-fifth of that (or so) in each area.

Overall, garrisons are looking to be an exciting feature in Warlords of Draenor.  It makes sense that Blizzard would iterate the farm concept in such a martial direction.  As Blizzard’s technology matures, so too do the experiences they can provide.  Warcraft started with a player deploying buildings and commanding an army while detached from the world.  Ultimately, we were placed into that world, but sacrificed our control over the environment.  Finally, after ten years, we’ve arrived back to where the game started twenty years ago – with players given the ability to place structures and order units.  It is only fitting that garrisons would be introduced in the year we celebrate two decades of Warcraft and one decade of WoW.  It might not be a special mount, but garrisons may be the best birthday present Blizzard could give to the player base.

WoW! Blurbs!

Blizzard could be investigating the possibility of maybe having Proving Grounds potentially scale to something akin to our iLvl if its feasible.  Perchance.  https://twitter.com/Celestalon/statuses/438039015468437504 

Wowhead has updated their talent calculator for Warlords.  My solar calculator still hasn’t been updated for Mistshttp://wowhead.com/talent-wod

Ion Hazzikostas interview with bufffed.de.  My favorite news?  Und keine eier!  http://www.buffed.de/World-of-Warcraft-PC-16678/Specials/Warlords-of-Draenor-17-Raid-Bosse-in-Patch-60-Weltbosse-gestaffelt-und-Gabeltalente-Ion-Hazzikostas-im-Interview-1110789/

Ion also did an interview with battlenet.pl that for some reason is not in perl.  He expresses himself regularly, but not in regular expressions.  http://wow.battlenet.pl/wow/Nowosci/1553,Press-Tour-Interview-with-Ion-Hazzikostas.html

Brian Holinka gave an interview about Warlords PVP in Korea.  I don’t think they realized he doesn’t work on Starcraft…  http://wow.joystiq.com/2014/02/21/senior-pvp-designer-brian-holinka-interviewed-in-korea/

Mamytwink has notes from a brief playthrough of Shadowmoon Valley!  Did you know Ner’zhul and Velen in French are Ner’zhul and Velen?  http://www.mamytwink.com/actualite/press-tour-resume-de-5-heures-de-jeu-sur-warlords

There’s a half-naked updated Female Dwarf model available.  I wonder how Zeherah feels about this.  http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/13020719/character-viewer-updated-female-dwarf-2-20-2014

Proving Grounds will be required to queue for random Heroic Dungeons.  Thanks, Blizz!  Guess there’s no point in boosting my bank alt now!  http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/11836963744?page=24#469

Nick Zielenkievicz
Nick Zielenkievicz
Nick Zielenkievicz

Senior Producer

Host of WoW! Talk! and The Tauren & The Goblin. Sometimes known as the Video Games Public Defender. Wants to play more Destiny and Marvel Heroes but WoW is all-consuming. Decent F2P Hearthstone player. Sad that he lost the Wii that had Wrecking Crew on it. Would be happy if the only game ever made was M.U.L.E. Gragtharr on Skywall-US. Garresque on Ravencrest-US.

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