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Garrisons, Casinos, and Lawn Mower Races
Yesterday I summed up my current feelings about my experiences with the following tweet:
"You know how you can turn off XP for 10g? Blizz needs to implement "Don't let me into my Garrison for 10 hours". Then I'd actually level."
The reason I came to that conclusion is that I feel like I've been spending what limited time I do have to play the game endlessly fiddling around with my garrisons rather than doing what I feel like I should be doing: leveling.
"Should Be"What I "should be" doing. The funny thing about what we feel we "should be" doing is that it is different for each and every one of us.
The following are some of my favorite activities in World of Warcraft. These are what I enjoy most in the game:
- Leveling characters
- Making gold
- Figuring out ways to make gold
- Getting lost in a large world
- Having fun
There are tons and tons of different "attractions" and "rides" for players to choose from that almost all players are bound to find something that they enjoy.
Some might like to ride the roller coaster (PVP). Some might like to ride the tea cups (auction house). For some it's the log ride (PVE) they like best just to name a few examples.
Blizzard are always adding new rides (pet battles) and new attractions (garrisons) in order to keep their customers coming back.
The question of what one "should be" doing in the game at any given moment is really up to them, what activities they are attracted to and (ultimately) what they enjoy the most.
Road Side CasinoWith all that in mind I've been wrestling with my own feelings and thoughts about my experience in Warlords of Draenor so far.
Here is a quick analogy of some of my feelings.
You're driving on a highway towards a large and beautiful city. You've been excited to visit this city for a long time and now you finally have the chance.
As you're cresting a hill you can see that you're getting very close to the city. It sits in a beautiful lush valley and you're almost there.
You suddenly notice that you need gas and pull off an exit to fill up. As you are pumping your gas you notice a small casino across the street.
You realize that you haven't eaten all day and decide to stop into the casino for some food. While you're eating your food you decide that you might as well try some of the slot machines before you leave.
(Who leaves a casino without at least plunking a nickle into a slot machine and pulling the handle!)
You look up and realize that you've been playing games in this casino for five hours. It's after 2AM. There's no way you're going to have enough energy to drive the rest of the way to the city so you decide to get a room for the night.
It's a week later and you still have yet to leave the casino. You're sure that the city is going to be beautiful when you finally make it there. But the city isn't going any where and it will still be there when you decide to finally drive there.
And that's how I feel about my experience in Warlords of Draenor so far. The "beautiful city" is my idealized version of leveling through this vast beautiful world that Blizzard has created.
The "casino" I find myself spending all of my time in at the moment is my garrison.Somehow I've allowed myself to become diverted from leveling by endlessly fiddling with my garrisons.
And you want to know the worst part? I still hardly understand garrisons at all!
I do the following things in my garrison almost religiously:
- Mine dat ore!
- Set up follower quests (with a little help from Master Plan and Garrison Mission Manager to make it even less interactive and more robotic…I mean efficient.)
- Put in those work orders
Since I've been diverted at my garrison "casino" I've only been able to level my characters to 92 (which, it so happens is exactly the time you open up your Tier 2 garrison).
Because I'm an altoholic it made sense to try and level a few characters at first. This did, however, have the side effect of meaning that I have three level 92s instead of, say for example, one level 96.
Go With The FlowBack to my tweet I mentioned at the beginning of this post. Why do I wish Blizzard could allow me to lock myself out from my garrisons for 10 hours?
Because it feels like I'm spinning my wheels and not doing what I should be doing (leveling characters).
I can't blame Blizzard for making the garrisons feel somewhat mandatory. It seems that the completion of even the tiniest objective on my garrison is more satisfying than doing the biggest thing I think would be fun (like leveling my characters).
Gold-Making ComethWhich brings us finally to the most likely reason I've been spending time at the garrisons: trying to figure out if they will be useful for gold-making.
I've been noticing a lot of weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth by some gold-makers as they try to fit their old ideas of gold-making into garrisons.
Blizzard obviously spent a lot of time developing them. Garrisons were the best candidate for how players would make gold in the Warlords of Draenor.
I've got bad news. I think Blizzard designed garrisons specifically to combat gold-makers, not help them.
Everything I've seen so far about garrisons makes me think that Blizzard has taken the chance to use the long-requested feature of player housing and use it to combat something it found, if not abhorrent, at least irksome: players using farming bots and selling gold.
For players to want to bot-farm herbs and ore (and by "bot" I mean players who use automated programs to move around the world collecting herbs and ore) they need to have a way to convert those materials into gold.
In the past the most common way to do that was to dump stacks and stacks of herbs and ore on the auction house. And they did. A lot.
But there was another side to this coin. Who was buying all of these herbs and ore? I'd venture to say that in many cases it was gold-makers who would then use various "shuffles" to efficiently convert raw materials into useful items they could sell on the auction house themselves.
In a system where there were myriad ways things could get "shuffled" (converted from one form to another, usually to a form of higher value) there was almost never a time when ore and herbs would simply clogged up the auction house.
There was never a point where there was more ore and herbs for sale on the auction house than could ever possibly be processed by the players. Gold-makers made great "garbage disposals" in the circle of life of botting clearing the way for botters to sell more materials and on and on.
I'm not saying that is *not* going to be the case again in Warlords of Draenor but there seems to be almost no "shuffle" available for herbs and ore like there has been in past expansions.
In my (limited) experience, with few exceptions, I have use herbs and ore (and skins and cloth) for one thing and one thing only: turning them in on cooldown to the buildings in my garrison for soulbound professions mats that will then be used to build items of any real value.
There are still some things, like glyphs, that can be created unencumbered by cooldown "soulbound" mats but that seems to be the exception rather than the rule.
All The OreLet's do a quick thought experiment.
Imagine that your in-game great aunt Milli has just died. Her in-game lawyer comes to you and lets you know that she has left everything she owns to you.
You are now the proud owner of 200 stacks (of 200) of every single ore and herb in Warlords of Draenor. (Milli was a bit of a gathering addict.)
What would you do *right now* to process two hundred 200-stacks (or 40,000 individual pieces) of every herb and ore in WoD?
In the past I bet many of you could think of lots of ways you would slice, dice, shuffle and convert those mats into something that could make you money.
What about now? I thought so.
The "garbage disposal" just doesn't exist. Sadly I've seen gold-makers who have started buying up stacks and stacks of what they consider to be "cheap" ore with the thought (hope?) that Blizzard is going to nerf the garrison material gathering and players will be forced to flock back to the auction house where those players will embrace them with open arms (and high priced materials).
While I can't tell anyone else how to play I think the above idea is a fools game and that what they'll ultimately end up with is bank tabs full of ore they can't process and can't sell (at least a a profit).
Maybe the magical "nerf-of-life" will happen but I'm guessing it won't or at least not in any way that will make ore purchased now more profitable in the future.
Farm-It-YourselfBack to garrisons being about reducing players who bot. I think that by giving every single level 92 player a tier 2 mine (always buy the 1000g plans immediately to get your Tier 2 mine if you haven't already) that will likely get them almost all the ore they can ever want.
At level 96 you open up an herb garden and If it's anything like the mine it will likely give you as many herbs as you need.
With these two things in mind what do adding these the garrison resources get Blizzard? In addition how do the changes made in Warlords of Draenor specifically fight against bots and gold selling?
- They gave every player in the game easy access to more than enough ore (and possibly enough herbs) so they no longer need to farm in the world or go to the auction house.
- This eliminates much of the demand for ore and herbs on the auction house thus reducing the demand. In addition it reduces the ability for players who bot to quickly convert botted materials into gold.
- They eliminated most (if not all) "shuffles" for Warlords materials.
- By eliminating easy ways to endlessly and continuously convert raw materials into items that can be sold they have made it so gold-makers no longer need to buy up stack after stack of materials (mainly because they can't process them quickly).
- Most useful crafted items now take materials that are on a daily cooldown. They also limited the number of higher-end crafted items you can wear to three.
- This has the effect of making it impossible to "hurry up" and craft the higher end items. For example you can't simply sit down with tons of stacks of ore and bang out a bunch of armor or weapons. This further restrict the ability of gold-makers to quickly "use up" materials thus reducing the demand for that material.
- They make you log in every day to efficiently craft items.
- This has the effect of making you log in to the game every day which isn't directly tied to gold-making but means that if you are going to try to make gold with your professions you had better hope your limited playtime doesn't relegate you to being a "weekend warrior".
Unfortunately for us gold-makers if you made a Venn diagram with "activities normal players do" being one circle and "activities botters do" being the other many of our gold-making activities of the past would fall somewhere in the overlapping area.
In other words gold-makers in Warlords of Draenor are "drive by" victims in the war against botters.
I'm not saying gold-makers do anything that breaks the terms of service but in many ways any push Blizzard has to try to curtail and activities of players who bot/sell gold is almost always going to affect many of the old ways gold-makers had been using to make gold.
Gold-makers had an almost insatiable demand for raw materials which the players who bot were all too happy to fill. Ultimately those eggs have hatched and those chickens are coming home to roost via an expansion that not only almost completely eliminates the need to farm materials but also all but obliterates shuffling
Getting Back On The Highway
For me and my completionist mentality the garrisons have been a distraction to what I thought I wanted to really do in the game which was leveling.
I'm going to make an effort to not worry/not spend so much time piddling around with my garrisons and just let them play out. See how I like them.
I'm going to get in my car and leave the "casino". I'm going to make my way back onto the highway and just drive to that great and beautiful "city".
I'm going to try to level and enjoy my experience. My garrison will still be there when I get back.
(Also, in an M. Night Shyamalan, twist it turns out that Blizzard not only owns the beautiful city, it also owns the small roadside casino too. Those tricksey Blizzardses!!)
ConclusionIf I can break away from my garrison more regularly and not get trapped by the desire to complete small things (garrison follower quests) over working to complete big things (like leveling) y guess is I'll enjoy my time in-game a bit more.
I've laid down a lot of speculation and theories as to why Blizzard designed the garrisons the way that they did and the truth is that I could be completely wrong.
The real reason why Blizzard designed the garrisons the way they are could be far more innocuous. Blizzard could simply have been trying their best to build something compelling and fun for their players.
Something that would provide the average player with, not only a feeling of accomplishment, but also provide them an easy(ish) ways to get crafted items (at least for those willing to keep up with the requirements).
I think where us gold-makers may go wrong is trying to use the garrisons in a way that they weren't originally designed for.
Imagine someone trying to use a lawn mower engine to power a Ferrari.
I'm sure gold-makers could come up with all sorts of modifications to the lawn mower engine. Ways and strategies to tweak it to make it the very best, most efficient, and fastest lawn mower engine around.
But once they try to strap that suped-up lawn mower engine to that Ferrari things are just going to end in disappointment.
Put that suped-up engine on a lawn mower and you'll be cutting grass like none other! My gut feeling is some gold-makers will never be satisfied with the lawn mower Blizzard designed for this expansion.
In a few years we'll likely hear old-time gold-makers sitting on their porch reminiscing about the "good ol' days" when they could process 100 stacks of ore in a single sitting. A time when herbs and ore flowed into the auction house like a river.
They'll finger the Ferrari key in their pocket (kept our of bitterness and spite when the repo man came and took their Ferrari away) and complain that "Blizzard ruined everything".
Meanwhile the rest of us will be having a blast at the lawn mower races!
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- Episode 091: Garrison Madness
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