Garrisons revisited

A couple of years ago, during Warlords of Draenor, anyone reading this blog would likely have been treated to a rant about how badly Blizz screwed up the whole garrison idea. Garrisons had become a second job, they made the game seem about as fun as spending your weekends cleaning house and mowing the lawn, they were the main cause the social aspect of the game was deteriorating, yada yada yada.


Last week I was doing some profession switching in preparation for Battle for Azeroth, making sure I had one of each crafting profession and getting most of them to level 800 before August. Recall that in BfA, you will level only the current profession recipes, and if you want to go back and learn recipes from earlier expansions there is a mechanism for doing those separately. My hope is that if you start BfA with a level 800 profession, you will not have to go back to learn the earlier stuff, you will automatically get credit for it. That’s how it should work, but I long ago learned not to count on Blizz to do the logical thing.

At any rate, while grinding out skill-ups, I rediscovered the usefulness of the WoD garrison. It is, of course, required if you want to learn the WoD crafting recipes, but it is especially terrific for leveling gathering professions — herbs, mining, even fish. (It is less useful for leveling skinning. But skinning is quick to level anyway.)

The key for leveling gathering professions is to get a level 3 mine or herb garden. (You can increase the number of work orders by assigning a champion to work in them, and also by getting a level 3 storehouse, but those things do not help you level up, only the actual gathering does.) Additionally, if you apply a small amount of effort, you can get a bank and an auction house, making it easy to dispose of your gathered materials without having to commute somewhere. (There are also vendors in the garrison if you just want to vendor your stuff.) Last, since all of Draenor is just outside your garrison, once you have gathered the daily take from your mine or herb garden, you can easily keep leveling, up to 700, by running gathering routes just outside your garrison gate. What’s not to love? Oh, and of course, you can get to your garrison with the special hearthstone, and if you need to run back to Stormwind for something and your Dal hearthstone is on cooldown, you can portal to Stormshield via your level 3 garrison tower in the back and from there quickly portal to Stormwind and a couple of other cities.

So the leveling potential in my garrison was kind of a forehead-slapping moment once it percolated through my brain. What I did not anticipate was the comfortable, homey feeling I would get when I went back. Seriously, it was like when you have been traveling for a long time and finally get home and kick off your shoes and sink into your favorite chair — “Ahhhhh”. I just would not have expected myself to have that kind of reaction, given how much I disliked garrisons when they were current.

Ever since Mists, I have considered my little Sunsong Ranch to be “home” for my characters. I always liked the cozy small room with the bed and neat shelves and bubbly stew on the stove, and to this day I frequently take a character there to spend the night or a couple of weeks if I know I won’t be logging in on them for a bit. It’s silly, I know, but somewhere in the back of my mind I feel good knowing they are in their own little place, snug and safe. This is the reason I have always gone to the trouble to become exalted (besties) with all the Tillers and have done the full Sunsong Ranch quest line on every alt.  I really value that little one-room place that is your character’s very own.

But now that garrisons are in the rear view mirror and I have had some time to distance myself from them, I am finding that I have similar feelings about them. While the Town Hall is not generally what I would describe as “cozy”, it does have a certain appeal — some of my characters have spent many a night sitting by the fire in the mission room, where I imagine they have come in weary and cold and pulled off their boots and clammy socks and warmed their feet while sipping a hot toddy, and fallen asleep in the chair because they were too exhausted to find a bed.

I also really enjoyed standing at the garrison gate and watching my champions walk out to start their missions — in my opinion this was one of the most clever mechanics in WoD. I really got a kick out of waving them goodbye, watching them march off in twos and threes to fight the good fight.

Upon occasion, I have also commandeered the gardener’s cottage in the herb garden. In my opinion, this would be a perfect and easy way to give players some housing — just kick the gardener out and put up a “Commander’s Residence” sign in the front, maybe add in a couple of quest lines to get some decorations for the inside. That way, Blizz can claim they are really not giving in on player housing (since they would not be adding much new), and players could actually have a house, everybody wins. They will not do this, of course, because they are stubborn shitheads, but still it is a nice idea.

I suppose almost anything looks better in retrospect, after all we generally like to forget the bad parts of experiences and remember the good parts. I suspect my newfound nostalgia for garrisons is part of the same foggy hindsight driving the desire of some players to go back to a classic WoW experience — I choose not to remember the parts I hated and instead remember only the sitting-by-the fire contentment. Of course, it also helps that now when I visit my garrison it is completely voluntary — I do not feel like Blizz is demanding I participate in a certain end game play style, because, well, it is no longer the end game part. I admit that I am prone to a certain amount of bull-headedness, too, in that the more I feel like I am being required to do something, the less I want to do it, even if left to my own resources I might actually like the activity. That is stupid and illogical, but there it is. (Yeah, for those of you wondering, I was like that in my soldier days, too, resulting in me being considered either an “independent thinker” or a “troublemaker”, depending on the commander I worked for. I actually valued both labels.)

So, as we draw closer to a new expansion, I am learning to love one of the previous ones. If that means my rear view mirror is smudged, I really don’t feel like cleaning it.


8 thoughts on “Garrisons revisited

  1. In their day, I didn’t like the busy-work of the garrison or the fact that Blizzard outright lied to us about them being completely optional. That said, I absolutely love having my garrison now. This is for two reasons.

    First and foremost, it is because it is one-stop shopping for most of the scutwork in WoW: bank, transmog, void storage, auction house, pet leveling, and stable master. And as you say, it has easy-access to Stormwind/Ogrimmar.

    Second, I can be truly and completely alone there. By and large, I’ve been playing with the same group of people of people since launch. I really enjoy their company for raiding and dugeons, plus the occassional chat. And I appreciate the fact that the group-finder can help me grab some anonymous folks for a dungeon, a quest, or an LFR when needed. Absent that, however, if I could go through Azeroth et al without ever seeing another person, that is exactly what I’d prefer. No, that’s not social, but it is indeed my art imitating my life!

    I love the museum nature of the Hunter’s Hall in Legion. I love all of the hunter NPCs walking around doing hunterish things. I could do without all of the hunters though…

    1. Yeah, I hadn’t considered it until you made the comment, but I think the solitude of the garrison also appeals to me. I do like some of WoW’s social possibilities, but I need a lot of time away from them, too.

      And the one-stop shopping is a plus now that used to be considered a minus because it drew people away from the capital cities. Maybe if Blizz had given us an auction house and target dummies in Dal we wouldn’t be so intent on finding a place where we could have it all. Let’s hope Blizz does not nerf the garrison possibilities now because they want to push us into some new place. I could happily continue to do garrisons on most of my alts at this point.

      1. One thing that I neglected to mention was my wish that the garrison hearth stone become a toy. This should also happen for the new Dalaran stone once Legion is no longer current. Come on, Blizzard. Bag space FTW!

  2. Something interesting. I never finished doing the invasions. But a quick check showed that all I needed was to grab a quest from the guy there, head over yonder, punch a things, and turn it in. Boom, invasion unlocked and got almost platinum solo.

      1. It was a nice way to spend an evening. Go destroy stuff for an hour, come back and do an invasion. A decent amount of gold too. Oh, and parts for the Auction House in reward bags.

    1. I still do these whenever I have a spare moment. I can farm the “invitation” mobs in about 15 minutes and the invasion itself takes about the same. (And the two parts don’t need to be done in the same sitting if you don’t have the time.) Still no mounts for me though. 😦

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