Farm improvements in 5.2
Patch 5.2 will see a few new features added to Sunsong Ranch, the most important being the option to purchase it. Technically, while players are able to use the farm, it still belongs to Farmer Yoon -- he's just allowing players to use the farm because they've been such a tremendous help in getting the farm cleaned up, and getting Yoon in with the Tillers to boot. Even though players have earned the favor of everyone in Halfhill, the farm still isn't really their property.
With patch 5.2, you'll be able to purchase the farm from Yoon and own it outright. This means that the farm will turn into a rest point like an inn, and players will be able to bind their hearthstones to their farms and instantly log out at that location. As far as requested improvements go, this was at the top of the list for many players. As for how much that farm will cost you ... well, we'll have to wait and see. The new Sunsong Ranch features will not be available on the PTR, but they will be coming soon.
But purchasing the farm does more than give you a new hearthstone option. If you own the farm, you'll begin to get work orders from the various factions scattered across Pandaria. Filling out those work orders will give you a reputation boost with the issuing faction. This additional feature does two things -- makes that reputation grinding a little easier, and further cements that integrated nature of the farm that the developers seem to be so fond of.
We don't currently know what form that reputation boost will take -- whether it will be a flat amount of reputation rewarded, or a buff that increases reputation gain with a faction. But any bonus to reputation gain is apt to be well-received, and it's a purpose for the farm that goes beyond the usual helpful boost to professions.
Quality of life improvements
But that's not all we'll be seeing out of Sunsong Ranch. Along with the option to purchase the farm, several quality-of-life improvements will be added as well. Players that are tired of planting 16 seeds one at a time will be glad to hear that seed bags will now be available, allowing you to plant four plots worth of crops at a time.
Special crop seeds have been in since Mists of Pandaria's launch. While you can use these special crop seeds to gather materials like fabric, cloth, leather, and enchanting materials, the yield on these special crop seeds was pretty low. In 5.2, the yield has been improved to make farming more competitive with gathering these items out in the world -- making the seeds a much more useful purchase.
Planting seeds has always resulted in crops that need to be tended to. Players have to water the plants, pull pesky weeds, spray for bugs, or murder encroaching wildlife. But there was a dual-layered nature to farming that got tiresome -- if you picked a plant, you'd either end up with soil that needed to be tilled, a weed that needed to be pulled before the soil could be tilled, or occupied soil with a virmen that needed to be killed before the soil could be tilled.
If you've reached exalted with the Tillers and purchased a Master Plow, in 5.2 it will now do something about those annoying virmen living in the soil. Running the Master Plow over the offending soil will pop the virmen out of the ground stunned and at 30% health, making them far less of a nuisance. In addition, Wild Crops -- the swinging vines that require players to hop on and wrestle for a minute or so -- will now occur less often.
It's really nice to see that this useful new feature is still being worked on and improved over time, and in ways that are genuinely useful to players. The ability to use the farm as an additional means to gain reputation is a really good move. And even though Sunsong Ranch really can't be considered player housing, it's still nice that we'll be able to buy the place, bind our hearthstones, and call it a far more personal home than any inn in Pandaria.
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