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My Garrison of Discontent

Matthew Rossi
11.28.14
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Is it possible to admire something as well designed, a really excellent piece of game design, yet resent that it exists? Because I feel that way about the Garrison.

Keep in mind, I'm not saying the Garrison is bad, because I honestly believe it's one of the most intriguing things World of Warcraft has ever done. Instead of something like player housing, they've made you the head of a base, a forward war camp on hostile alien terrain. In essence, your Garrison is the tip of the Horde or Alliance spear onto Draenor. It's brilliantly executed. The feature, with its outposts and the follower minigame and the buildings that grant specific benefits all ties together, and feels organic - it makes sense that your base of operations, cut off as it is from home (at least in terms of story) would do as much as it could to become a self-sufficient entity. Frankly, although we have Warspear and Stormshield over on Ashran, the Garrison feels more like the official Horde or Alliance capital, at least to me.

And yet I've grown to hate my Garrison in some ways.

Perhaps it's simply that the Garrison is too good at hooking into the rat brain and making it dance. There's always some reason to be concerned about it - if you want to make use of your Garrison to its fullest extent, there's ore to be mined or plants to be gathered or missions to send your followers on, resources to be collected, buildings to be upgraded. It feels like I'm never allowed not to be thinking about my Garrison.


Back in Mists of Pandaria, one of the things I loved about the Tillers and the farm was this - I didn't have to do it. And I never did. I spent nary a day on that farm. I didn't do a single one of those quests, I didn't weed or plant or anything. I have no dog. I didn't sign up to play World of Warcraft because I wanted to run a farm. Same with pet battles - it's content, if you want it, but I didn't want it, and I didn't participate in it. I have no battle pet past level 2. Just don't care.

But I'm glad the content exists for the people that did want it.

The Garrison, however, is in no way shape or form this ignorable. Oh, it doesn't prevent you from leveling to 100 or running dungeons or anything like that. I could let my Garrison sit there at level 2 forever, not upgrade any of the buildings, do nothing with my followers. But then I'd be costing myself - the many, many benefits of the Garrison buildings, for instance. With the profession system revamp the Garrison has basically become an important means to make the most of your professions. You get the Apexis daily quest in your Garrison. The Garrison Invasion, which rewards gear, is also (of course) in your Garrison. Right now if you're not doing much with your Garrison it feels like you're not doing much, period - the admittedly excellent event system is limited in scope, it's possible to clear a zone completely out and once you do, new ones don't spawn.

There's a ton of gameplay in the Garrison. That's not a bad thing - the feature is, as I said before, remarkably robust and well designed. But for me, it's a little too designed - I definitely dislike that taking a day away from it feels like a huge mistake. I'd like there to be more content that had nothing to do with it - the return of some form of queueable content that didn't require tanks or healers like Mists Scenarios would be nice. I miss those. They were the ultimate in do when you wanted, quick and easy content.

So far Warlords is an extremely well-done expansion. I just wish I didn't feel like I was playing another game at the same time every time I logged on.


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