I hate red zones.
Regardless, as a result of the experience I've seen what these rep grinds look like, and surprisingly, they're all different. You're not going to get the same experience doing each, and the quests aren't really very similar between each, either. Some of the reputation grinds are fantastic, and some ... well let's just say they could use some work. But let's take a look at what was hands-down my favorite rep grind and exactly what made it so fantastic to grind out.
The Tillers are a faction of farmers located throughout the Valley of the Four Winds. Most of them have their own farms and locations in the fields, but they will all take turns hanging out at Halfhill Market, which is also where the majority of the Tillers daily quests come from. Right next door to the market is Farmer Yoon and the little piece of farmland that will eventually become your own.
Story and layout
This is the most logical, easily laid out reputation grind in Mists of Pandaria. There is a story reason for you to gain favor with the Tillers, and there's also a really good game mechanic reason, too. Having the ability to grow your own resources is one of those magical things I wish they'd introduced a long time ago. It certainly would have made the days of endless consumables in vanilla a lot easier on raiders! You can grow plants for cooking, or plant special seeds to get materials for any of the other professions out there.
As far as the story goes, poor Farmer Yoon inherited a farm, but he's got little to no idea how to be a farmer. He really wants to succeed, but the Tillers aren't going to make it easy on him. He's going to have to gain favor with several different members of the Tillers organization, and this is something that happens naturally over the course of the reputation grind. Eventually, even grumpy old Haohan Mudclaw comes around, and Yoon gets to be a proper Tiller.
The logic and layout of this reputation grind is flawless. You start out with a small farm that only has four plots of land. You gain reputation in two ways; by completing daily quests for the various Tillers, and by harvesting crops from your farm. When you hit exalted, your farm will have a full 16 plots for you to grow plants in, whether it's crops for cooking, or resources for professions. You can even grow Motes of Harmony if you'd like to!
In addition, each level of reputation will grant you access to tools for your farm. You'll be able to water your plants without having to use a watering can, get rid of bugs with sprayers that will hit your whole field, and when you're exalted, you'll gain access to a plow that will till a whole row of soil at a time. This reputation grind doesn't just have fun rewards, it's also got rewards that are useful. They help with the farming you'll be doing even after you're exalted.
Linked in with the farm are the various characters around Halfhill. Each person has gifts that they like, whether it's food or little trinkets you can find scattered all over Pandaria. Once you're best friends with an individual, they'll send you additional stuff to help with your farm -- and additional trinkets and fun items for you.
Having a farm is incredibly useful for people that want to grow their own food, or get materials for professions without spending hours grinding various mobs for cloth or leather. 16 plots of land isn't going to have you swimming in resources, but it'll give you enough to make items over time. For players that don't have the time to spend grinding mobs, this is a good alternative to hours of grinding -- pick your plants once a day, plant new crops, and come back the next to pick some more. It only takes a few minutes to do.
The dailies are fun, and they rotate often enough that they don't get incredibly boring. All dailies are located in and around Halfhill and the surrounding fields, so travel time is minimal to complete quests. In addition to the dailies, you'll occasionally get other quests to complete, like finding a lost dog who will eventually come live on your farm. It's not necessary to complete the quest, but doing so will give you more reputation, and a new pal for your farm on top of it.
Reputation gain is based on your relationship with people, and the farming you do. The more people like you, the more quests for reputation you get. The more crops you harvest, the more reputation you get. It is interlocked in such a way that as you gain reputation, the rep grind actually seems to get easier -- and that is a welcome relief to anyone that has ever done a rep grind.
But I think my favorite part about this grind is the vivid array of characters you'll encounter as you're leveling your reputation. Each person at Halfhill has a distinct personality. They're all friendly as all get out. And they enjoy seeing you every day, and celebrate your farm's growth right along with you. The character writing for this particular set of reputation was spot on; it really feels like everyone in Halfhill knows each other, like they've been living there for years.
It's that authenticity that really makes the whole thing so charming. It's fun to have a farm, but it was also genuinely fun to help out all of these people. It was fun to gradually make friends with everyone, and it was fun to see my farm get bigger and better over time. I was not expecting to like farming at all. It wasn't even anything I was interested in when it was introduced. But it quickly became my favorite set of dailies to complete, just because the atmosphere was so darn charming.
The only minor complaint about this faction is the best friends system. It's a neat new feature, but it's never really clearly defined as far as what it gets you in the end. If you don't know the rewards are there from becoming best friends, you'll gloss right over making that journey. And the varied amounts of gifts and people that like them can be downright confusing to new players. Efforts were made to clarify the system, but these efforts were just as muddled as the system itself.
Gina Mudclaw will happily tell you where people live, if you ask her about it. Some people will tell you what kind of gifts they like, if you ask. But there are some, like Ella, who are really vague about what it is they like the most, which leaves you guessing and giving gifts that aren't quite what they'd like. It's frustrating, because you aren't getting the full amount of reputation that you could be getting, and you don't know it because they won't pipe up and just tell you what they want.
You can make food that people will like for more reputation, but you won't ever really know what it is they're after unless you're flying around looking for people to feed. Little Andi does his best to point people in the right direction by offering gift quests, but there's just never really a clear line made from point A to point B. And the sad thing is that you have a shrine on your farm which should be the perfect opportunity to point out who likes what, but all it will tell you is how friendly you happen to be with everyone -- which you can find just as easily by checking your reputation tab.
Why do it?
I really recommend this particular grind to people for a variety of reasons. Having your own farm is incredibly useful. It's a time saver for those that don't have loads of time to spend playing -- and a gold maker for those that just want to sell the fruits of their labor to people that can't be bothered to farm.
But more importantly, the story of Farmer Yoon and his gradual rise to official Tiller is just the sort of lighthearted, heartwarming little tale that this game needed. Every reputation grind we've had to date has been surrounded by some degree of urgency, or some degree of danger. There's no real danger to the Tillers other than a group of obnoxious hozen, and there's no real life-threatening urgency to getting your farm complete.
There's just a nice pandaren guy who'd like to continue his family's legacy and make a living off of a farm, and a community of pandaren who have been farming the land for generations. The Tillers, much like the rest of Mists, are a breath of fresh air in the face of what has been a fairly bleak and oppressing world of gameplay. And while they may not be the most important people in the world, they love their farms, and they love where they live. And I loved helping them out.
Mists of Pandaria is here! The level cap has been raised to 90, many players have returned to Azeroth, and pet battles are taking the world by storm. Keep an eye out for all of the latest news, and check out our comprehensive guide to Mists of Pandaria for everything you'll ever need to know.