Second impressions

It’s now about a week and a half since Warlords of Draenor launched, and I am settling into it a little more, developing some leveling routines, figuring out what really works best for me for Garrison building plans, puzzling out a profession strategy. I spent much of the past few days leveling my second hunter — really she’s a second main for me — and should ding 100 on her tonight.

Overall, I haven’t changed my initial impression of this expansion — if anything I’ve confirmed it — but I have refined it. And I have started to see how my game play style is going to eventually fit into it.

Leveling

The leveling process is still fun the second time around, and this is coming from someone who does not normally enjoy leveling. (We’ll see how exuberant I am by the time I get to my sixth or seventh alt, though!) But I think Blizz got this part right. Even the “FedEx” quests (“Take this gizmo to NextQuestLineNPC.”) serve to advance the story line. The quests are ridiculously easy for my hunters, but I think Blizz rightly designed them so that anyone at level 90 — regardless of gear or class/spec — can easily progress through them.

I got smarter my second time through the process, too. More efficient. I made sure I completed the critical quests, so that I did not have to waste time at the end of a zone retracing my steps to find the one I had missed, the completion of which many other quests depended on. I also made much better use of the bonus quests in each zone, getting the huge benefit of the XP boosts from them — each one gave me the equivalent of 4 or 5 normal quests.

The more I quest, the more I appreciate Blizz’s decision to make most of the things you have to collect an individual thing, so you are not racing to grab that gottahaveitgizmo before that rude DK gets to it. You are not annoyed when you fight through all the mobs and while you are engaged someone else grabs the thing. Everyone is happy. Makes for a much more pleasant experience.

Garrisons

I feel like I am now way way smarter on garrisons than I was the first time through. Your mileage may vary, of course, but here are a couple of principles that work for me:

  • If you have crafting professions, your first small building should be one of those. If you have two crafting professions, your second should be the other profession.
  • Crafting buildings that you don’t have the profession for seem quite limited in value. My main is a JC and miner, so I thought my second small building should probably be Enchanting, in order to DE gear I picked up. In retrospect, the mats I got from this were pretty useless to me, plus quite a few of the pieces could not be DE’ed there because “Enchanting level not high enough”. Easier and more lucrative to just vendor  your excess gear in my opinion. With my LW-Skinner second hunter, I tried out an alchemy building, thinking I could get some lower level flasks and pots from it. Nope. Just Alchemy mats, which are pretty useless without an Alchemist. I finally switched to a storehouse for both hunters, and I like those perks much better (access to your bank, and increased number of work orders for all buildings).
  • Hoard your garrison resources from the start! After you hit level 100, it gets much harder to gather these. I learned this the hard way on my first hunter and really had to scrabble and scrimp to get the 2000 needed for my Level 3 garrison. So on the second one, I’ve been very stingy. I am careful how many I spend on follower missions, and I take every opportunity while questing to get all the quests that award resources. I go out of my way to find the treasures that have resources in them. And my first medium building is now always a Lumber Mill.
  • The whole followers and missions thing is to me a mini game, so right now I am largely ignoring it. I figure that is something I will do later in the game. I do a few, especially if they award player XP and I am still leveling, or if they award garrison resources, but for the most part I am waiting until later in the game. Same with going out of my way to recruit certain very cool followers (well, except for Nat Pagle of course) — I’ll do that later.
  • A level 3 garrison is just way cool!
  • Last, don’t be afraid to switch out buildings that aren’t working out for you, or that may have outlived their usefulness. Yes, it does cost you a few precious resources, but in the long run it’s better to have productive buildings than ones sitting there that you don’t use.

I find the whole garrison management thing very engaging, so I don’t mind spending a lot of time doing it. But I am sticking with my previous assessment that Blizz lied to us about this — these places absolutely require a LOT of player time, and they do not run mostly by themselves.

Also, while I am sort of on the subject, let me go ahead and crab about one of my pet peeves, one that I thought Blizz was going to remedy in this expansion — daily profession cooldowns. Maybe it was just wishful thinking , but I understood from the pre-xpac hype that garrison work orders were going to get rid of having to do profession daily cooldowns on, well, a daily basis. You would be able to queue them up for about a week at a time, eliminating the need to log into the game every day just to do your profession cooldowns. Instead of one a day, you could do like seven a week. Still gates the crafting process, but allows people with busy real lives to manage their time a little better. If you can only play the game on weekends, you would not be at a disadvantage. Hahahahaha, another Blizz gotcha! Blizz, I am very very disappointed in you.

Gear and instances

Possibly because I was pretty well traumatized by the whole awful LFR process in Mists, I have not been very aggressive about doing randoms in WoD so far. And since I am famously unlucky with drops of any kind, I have not got any epic upgrades and only one or two blue upgrades of quest gear drops. This means I am still stuck at ilvl 608 on my main, which means normal instances. Some bug resulted in me running three straight Skyreach instances over the course of two days, but that seems to be fixed now. Still, I have only managed Skyreach plus one other and of course no useful gear drops (other than the first part of the legendary ring, which is not a drop). I’ll probably just go ahead and craft myself a neckpiece and a second ring, just to get to ilvl 610, which hopefully will lead to getting to 615 fairly quickly and doing the anniversary event soon. Still, I am not excited about the whole prospect. Guild mates are far ahead of me on this, yay for them. (Still, MUST they incessantly link every damned purple they pick up which by the way seem to drop out of the skies like rain for them while SOME OF US apparently live in the gear Dust Bowl?????????? Their announcements border on a neener-neener attitude. I refuse to gratz them on these things. Grump, grump, scowl, scowl.)

Since I am not even adequately geared yet, I really can’t comment on how the new (and vastly more complex, in my opinion) gear stats are working out. Also, having only done two normal instances, not qualified to comment on these yet either.

Second impressions conclusions

Leveling — well done by Blizz and still fun. I expect it to become less fun as I level more alts, but still a good part of the game. Garrisons — enjoying them very much, but they will consume a huge amount of my time as I get more and more of them. Gear and instances — forcing every player to do instances and eventually raids to gear up is a big mistake, Blizz needs to go back to multiple ways to this, including some sort of currency like they had with VP.

I still think for me the design of this expansion is such that fairly quickly I will end up staying in my garrison, crafting and farming, and venture out only twice a week for raiding with my guild. Not sure how long that will keep my attention.

About Fiannor
I have a day job but escape by playing WoW. I love playing a hunter, and my Lake Wobegonian goal is to become "above average" at it.

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