I’ve mentioned a few times but as a recap, I played a Destruction Warlock for raiding during most of Pandaria, and with the coming of Warlords I remain committed to being ready to raid on the character. Not sure where that’s going at the moment, seem to be a raider without a team, but I’m certainly ready to do LFR tonight if I can possibly stand it. I still have two iLevel 615 items that linger on like the smell of a dead woodchuck in a dryer vent, but I might replace both tonight with crafted items. I really like that Blizzard lets us pick what items we craft for ourselves, we’re just limited to having three equipped. Allows for a lot of flexibility.
For raiding, there is the Warlock. Cocked, locked and ready to rock. Or is that rocked, cocked and ready to ‘lock? Meh.
That’s the raiding, sure. The group stuff with people. Being part of a team.
When it comes to having fun playing with myself, it’s the Feral Druid.
It feels to me like something came full circle with Feral Druids in Warlords. Kitty Druids are, shit, I don’t know. It feels wrong to say they’re fun again, because I don’t think they ever stopped being fun.
I think what happened for me was that the division between Feral and Guardian split my love in two, and neither spec alone fulfilled the feral itch for me anymore.
That’s all changed, and my love has come back to me. No, that’s wrong. I’ve returned to the love I once abandoned, and it has welcomed me with open paws.
I’m feeling really good about playing as a Cat again. I’ve been having a good time solo leveling through Draenor.
I’m looking forward to writing about playing as a kitty in the future, something I haven’t done in a long time now, but for now, I’d like to break down some of the changes and comparisons that are firing my imagination and causing so much soloing love.
One of the big changes for me is a stark comparison in playstyles for the stealthy-minded sort.
After patch 6.0 came but before Warlords was fully released, I spent a lot of time on both my Rogue and my Feral Druid. I rapidly leveled my Rogue to 90, at the same time I prepared my Druid with new gear and achievement in advance of the expansion.
Side by side playing a Cat and a Rogue, I could clearly see two different approaches to being a stealthy leather-wearing melee DPS that use combo points.
Again, this is purely from a ‘damn this is fun to play solo and cat around Draenor’ point of view. It sure as HELL isn’t about maximizing DPS. It’s about fun for me.
The playstyle for Feral Druid feels… stripped down. Cut to the bone. No frills, no distractions. If you choose to, every combo point action you take can cause DPS, while still allowing for a lot of survivability.
Rogues spend combo points to set up their big DPS buff timer, and again later in place of a DPS finishing move to cast a HoT on themselves when they need healing. Rogues get plenty of defensive actions too, no question, lots and lots of tools in the box. But when it comes to buffing DPS and healing themselves regularly without blowing a cooldown, Rogues are spending combo points to do it, points that aren’t being used on DPS finishing moves.
For the Kitty things are much different.
For one thing, Savage Roar is our version of a combo point DPS buff on a timer… but there are two Glyphs you can choose from to remove the need to manage that buff or spend points on it. Glyph of Savagery puts Savage Roar up ALL the time but at 10% less power, and Glyph of Savage Roar puts it up for free any time you Rake or Shred while you were Prowling.
Two choices for removing the need to spend combo points on the buff. For raiding, you’re likely to want Glyph of Savage Roar.
But for soloing? Glyph of Savagery gives you the buff at a reduced level of effectiveness, and lets you focus all of those combo points on finishing moves.
Yes, you lose DPS by reducing the power of Savage Roar. I haven’t done tests yet because i’m not at 100 , but I imagine you’ll be losing a lot. See what I mean about not suited for raiding? But what you gain is not just one less buff timer to manage, you also gain those combo points to spend on direct damage or DoT uptime. It’s a DPS loss, but not as much of one as you might expect. You have to figure losing 10% DPS from Savage Roar against the increased frequency of DPS finishing moves, those same moves also being 10% less effective than they could have been.
For soloing, does it really matter?
The other thing is that Cat Druids don’t have to spend combo points to heal yourself. The talent Ysera’s Gift gives you tiny healing every 5 seconds, and when you pop any full five combo point finishing move you trigger a free instant cast of Healing Touch that doesn’t drop you out of forms.
Sounds good? Ah, but the catch is that you’re not a healer so your Healing Touch sucks. Ah! But there’s more. With Dream of Cenarius, your Healing Touch and Rejuvenation are 20% more effective. With the Glyph of Cat Form, all healing done to you is increased in effectiveness by another 20%.
And as you level, your Rejuvenation gets empowered so you can cast it in Cat Form. You can keep that going as well.
Incarnation King of the Jungle is an awesome talent that provides VERY powerful burst DPS and looks neat… but if you choose to take Soul of the Forest, you’ll be getting back more energy with your finishing moves, which lets you do more Shreds, which builds more points for finishing moves… all of which trigger more free Healing Touch spells.
It’s the opposite of a vicious circle… it’s a ring of delight, as doing more damage causes you more opportunity for healing in an endless chain.
I have been using Heart of the Wild myself in the early levels because I like to pop bear form and HotW, pretend I’m still a Feral Druid with effective Cat AND Bear forms all the time.
Last night I admit, I tried out a Dream of Cenarius build for a bit, and I never ended any fight with less than full health.
It’s almost like kitty heal tanking.
For soloing and tearing up rares in Draenor, it’s been a blast.
So let me run this down for you. With Glyph of Cat Form, Glyph of Savagery, Ysera’s Gift, Soul of the Forest and Dream of Cenarius, your DPS rotation can be streamlined down to Rake, Shred to 5 combo points, Rip, free Healing Touch, Shred to 5 combo points refreshing Rake as needed, Ferocious Bite, free Healing Touch, and when the target is below 25% stop worrying about Rip, the Ferocious Bite automatically refreshes it.
Or, to be simpler; Rake, Shred(x?), Rip, Shred(x?), Bite. Heal if it feels good to you, one’ll be available ALL the damn time. Getting tight on health? Rejuvenate too!
This… this is not a complicated rotation, lol.
And this is without using the Glyph of Ferocious Bite, which adds even more self-healing for every Bite! I like my reduced cooldown on Dash while soloing. But I could almost convince myself to make do with Stampeding Roar, and sacrifice more frequent Dashes to really see how silly kitty heal tanking can get on rare mobs.
Now, I’m not max level yet. I’m leveling like a fiend, but I’ve been dead set on gearing my Warlock for raiding. I’ve been coming late to this.
But think on this. At level 100, you get new talents to choose from.
I’ll admit that I’m fascinated to try out Claws of Shirvallah. A new visual form that makes you a humanoid shaped kitty? Interesting to try, I can hardly wait to see it.
But I love true cat-form too much to expect to want to use it. Lunar Inspiration gives you kitty moonfire. Is that awesome or what?
Ah, but as neat as that is, what have we been talking about? Healing without sacrificing DPS. Kitty heal tanking.
And what could be better than flipping that around with Bloodtalons, the level 100 talent that makes your next two melee abilities after casting Healing Touch do 30% more damage.
Just… Ring of delight. Your attacks give you free heals that in turn increase your damage from attacks.
Oh, are you taking a lot of damage? Now we can honestly say the proper response is DEEPS HARDER. Yes!
For raiding, not so much. You don’t have to be totally self–sufficient in the healing department when you’re with a raid team.
But for soloing? For stealthy adventuring in the deepest dark corners of the map?
I’ll tell you… it plays even more fun than it sounds. So much fun.
Moonfire is so tempting, though. And I love Heart of the Wild and popping bear form. And so many fun movement choices, teleporting, always running fast, ugh. So many fun choices that matter in our talent tree!
This is a GOOD THING. So much fun, handle it!
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There are some great guides to Garrisons and Followers at Wowhead and Icy Veins, so much hard work went into them at both sites. I am very grateful to the writers and researchers at both websites, it’s helped me a lot.
I’m not here to write a guide, but over the last few weeks there have been a few things that I’ve found out from doing that I want to write down, kind of a long term reminder to myself about how a few things are working for me.
First, I love my Garrison but it’s the Follower and Mission sub-game that has drawn my focus the most. That is where I keep spending my idle time.
There are many missions you can send your Followers on. Having the Barracks at level 1 adds an extra mission type. They’re called Patrol missions, and you tell which ones they are on the mission list. They have a spyglass icon next to them instead of the crossed-swords of the normal missions.
Patrol missions count towards getting your level 3 Barracks; you need to complete 50 patrol missions (account-wide achievement!) to be able to buy the Barracks level 3 blueprint. That was the holy grail for my Garrison, because it let me have an extra 5 active Followers.
I didn’t really understand that the Spyglass identified the Patrol missions, so I wasn’t focused on doing those every time they popped up. Once I did, I leveled three alts to 91 and unlocked their tier 2 Garrisons, kept their barracks, and started looking for Patrol missions. There are a couple that pop up frequently at the 90 and 91 level ranges, so I got the 50 Patrol achieve a few days later. Lesson learned… almost too late.
The missions I get for Followers depends on the level range of the Followers I have active. I haven’t fully tested it yet, but it seems that Followers assigned to a building don’t count towards this, and the Followers that are not active DEFINITELY don’t count towards it.
This means that all you need is a single low level Follower active to keep those low level fast missions coming, with the gold and XP rewards. The level ranges seem to be 90-94, 95-98, then 99-100. Could be a little different either way, I’ve been trying to track it, but I always have Followers out so it’s hard to stop long enough to give a 24 hour span for my missions to reset.
I want as many missions as possible, especially of all level ranges. Lots of missions gives lots of opportunities for XP for Follower leveling, and most importantly for Salvage Crates.
Once a Follower is level 100, the gear grind can begin.
There are special gear quests available when your Followers reach higher iLevels. There are also tasty level 100 Patrol missions at iLevel 600 (base).
Once I had a reasonable amount of Followers at 100, I started getting the max level Patrol missions that had as a bonus 8000, 10000, 12000 and even 15000 XP.
Epic Followers have two abilities to satisfy win conditions, and Blue/Green Followers only have one ability. By focusing on leveling epic Followers first, it gave me a chance to have 2 Followers cover three or even four win conditions on their own, and let me use the third spot for leveling lower level or quality Followers. Lower level Followers only get a percentage of main and bonus XP, but even 10% of 15000 XP is a nice chunk for a level 92, and for Green level 100s it’s a sweet boost.
Then there are the normal missions, missions unlocked at different Follower iLevel ranges that can have dungeon or raid gear rewards.
The three iLevel break points for missions are 615, 630 and 645. Your Followers can currently have a max level of 655.
With 2 or more Followers at level 100, you start getting missions that award iLevel 615 gear.
With 2 or more Followers at iLevel 615, you start getting missions that award iLevel 630 gear.
With 2 or more Followers at ilevel 630, you start getting missions that award iLevel 645 gear.
With 2 or more Followers at iLevel 645, you start getting Highmaul raid missions that can bring you back iLevel 655 gear. Or is it 665? It might be 665. I haven’t gotten one of these yet, so I don’t know. It might be 655 from the Follower Missions, and 665 is possible from the Big Salvage Crates only.
Sound sweet? This is live, right now, and attainable. I have several guildies that are sharing links to their 655 loot from Follower missions, or sometimes from Salvage Crates directly. Whether you raid or not, this is a big prize dangling in front of you that you can do before ever seeing the inside of a raid. I have a team out there bringing me back iLevel 645 boots as we speak. They’re chugging along, making my money. Gotta love ‘em.
As far as I can tell, there are only three ways to increase your Follower item levels; items from Salvage Crates from the Salvage Yard small building, items from the 4 hour Work Orders using Garrison Resources at the Dwarven Bunker / War Mill, or as rewards from missions.
Salvage Crates are probably one of the coolest ways, since you can game it. Once you complete the Gnome area with the quest Flame On in Spires of Arak, Kimzee gives you the blueprint for the Salvage Yard. You want to get this as quick as you can, and then upgrade it to level 2. At level 2, every mission you send your Followers on regardless of difficulty level has a chance to give you a Salvage Crate.
You open your Salvage Crates IN the Salvage Yard, and they have a chance to have vendor trash, level 2 crates can have Follower upgrades, and level 3 crates can have damn near anything, including rare transmog gear, BoE ilevel 665 epics, you name it.
You can game this by making sure you have some low level Followers in your mix, so you spawn many, many low level short duration missions to send Followers on. The more missions, the more chances at Salvage Crates, the more shots at Follower upgrades to boost your main team.
I am torn about the difference between a level 2 or 3 Salvage Yard. This is purely hearsay, but I’ve heard that even with a boosted chance to drop Salvage Crates with a level 3 Salvage Yard, you get a net LOSS of Follower Upgrades because you’ve got a much larger potential loot list for the crates.
I’m all about the Followers, time enough to get drops for ME once my Followers are all pimped out. Your mileage may vary, and the chance at BoE iLevel 655 epics is a strong lure to upgrade sooner.
The Dwarven Bunker / War Mill is the other building that can give you Follower upgrades. I know it’s slow, because it’s only a CHANCE at an upgrade, and each Work Order takes 4 hours to deliver. Also, it eats Garrison Resources like candy. Still, I’ve gotten some pretty sweet Follower upgrades from mine over the last week, and they all add up. Also, the building once at level 3 will feed me a bonus loot rool each week, so it will have long term value as well, even after the Followers are leveled.
What I’ve done doesn’t seem to be the best way, but time will tell. I built a Lumber Mill, a Dwarven Bunker, a Salvage Yard and a couple profession buildings. I keep the Lumber Mill stocked up, I keep a few low level Followers active to feed me lots of missions for XP and Salvage Crates, and when I get Follower upgrades, I give them to my epic 100s first.
I spread the upgrades around until all my epics had 615 instead of maxing one out completely and moving on. I also kept sending my Green and Blue Followers on missions to try and get them to higher quality.
My thinking behind this is that the more overlapping coverage my Followers have as Epics, the higher the possibility that I can get 100% on those important gear missions, as well as carry lowbies. I might be wrong because this prevents me from seeing the highest tier of missions at all. A chance, however thin, is still a chance.
I have yet to get a mission for a Manual of Dance, but you can bet that when I do, I know exactly which Follower with useless traits I’m gonna make dance for me.
I’m sure everyone else out there is just as smitten with these Followers and missions as I am… and I’m sure you already know all this. But I somehow keep forgetting things like ilevel break points and stuff, so phooey, it’s useful to me to write it all down.
One last thing.
When a Follower reaches a new gear iLevel, the piece of displayed gear they are wearing or carrying changes too. I watched it happen.
When my Millhouse Manastorm went from 642 to 645 in weapon, the weapon he was carrying changed too. So keep an eye out, see what kind of iconic armor changes your Followers go through as you gear them up!
Have fun in Draenor!
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The world is a magical place.
Can I tell you about my very favortist thing? Can I? Huh? Can I?
Well, my very favoritist thing be the Garrison, sure. Sorry, that was misleading.
Oh, what part?
Wandering through the streets being greeted by the followers I’ve met, quested with, rescued and discovered in out of the way places.
Seeing my Cinder Kitten walk by… or a green puff of cloud from my Creepy Crate as it explores a suspicious looking corner. Or my Ruby Droplet I named Monstre wandering by, with the name I gave him right there, and my Crimson Whelpling Lil’ Alex flying on by, possibly to investigate reports of Black Rat sightings in the lower section of the mine.
Or… or just Garrison.
But my favoritist thing that HELPED my fledgling Garrison, the thing that lifted me out of deepest darkest grumpiness, THAT is what I want to talk about.
I’m talking about Treasure Maps.
Oh, so tasty. So lovely. So damn HELPFUL.
See, I focused early on about unlocking stuff… and it never occured to me that I might have to wait once I unlocked a recipe to be able to build up enough Garrison Resources to build all those wonderful structures.
In the beginning, Garrison Resources seemed to rain like manna from the sky, bountiful and sufficient unto the day. Missions for my followers? Dwarven Bunker work orders? Building upgrades? Spend the resources, for look how many we get from all these quests!
Certainly there will always be more. Right?
For my first Medium building, I did build a Lumber Mill, because I was warned early on by Icy Veins that Garrison Resources would be a concern later on… but I didn’t really believe it.
I’ll admit, it didn’t help that as soon as I could, I replaced my Barracks with a Dwarven Bunker, and I replaced my Storehouse with a Salvage Yard when I unlocked the recipe. Those builds and tear downs and rebuilds cost resources. Resources I’d want later on.
And of course, the Dwarven Bunker work orders eat resources like candy when you’re trying to upgrade your Followers. And the Followers use up resources for every mission, unless you’re lucky enough to get lots of Resource missions… or have a Follower that can Scavenge really well… which I didn’t.
I reached level 100 with a really nice Garrison… but I could see the draught of resources coming like a hard, bleak winter coming early on the crops.
I was even forced to cut back on my Follower missions, to carefully ration them out so as to save up for those Lumber Mill level 3 and Barracks level 2 upgrades. A mission here, a mission there, my poor Followers were left to wistfully ask me, ‘Will we be fighting the Horde TODAY, Commander?”
No, Qiana, no I’m afraid not. Druids that live in Bear form are just too expensive to keep fed. Why can’t you just, like, eat a talbuk or something while you’re out there, huh?
What, you’re a vegetarian? And on a gluten free diet, too? Sigh.
But then… then, just as I had hit 100 and was contemplating these Garrison Resource woes, I read through the brilliant Garrison Follower guide on Wowhead one more time, and my eye was struck by the mention of a treasure map.
Whatever could that be?
So I looked up the Shadowmoon Valley Treasure Map to find out more. I was intrigued. My whole experience with treasure chests before had led me to expect rare, out of the way chests hidden in caves. Maybe the map would show me where one or two chests were? Or maybe they would give me a quest to find a chest that had a bottle of rum and a shitty green BOE item.
That is, after all, how I’ve been trained in previous expansions.
Imagine my shock at finding that Grakis in Stormshield, Ashran sold maps to each of the zones the Alliance quested in, and would be happy to sell you one just as soon as you completed all of the storyline achieves for a zone. And those maps would add the treasures directly to your map! MANY treasures! MANY MANY!
This is where the magic starts for Alliance
Whaaaaat? You mean I actually get a benefit from obsessively doing every quest in every zone this expansion?
I had four of them unlocked (and still do, as you can see from the pic my Nagrand questing got derailed completely once I had treasure maps in my furry mitts).
Off I went to Shadowmoon Valley to see what they meant by treasure. I got one or two things while questing, how many more could there be?
So. Many. Treasures.
OHMIGOD So many shinies!
Now, not every treasure gives you Garrison Resources. There are lots of cute items, greens, some pets, some consumables, all sorts of different things.
But there ARE treasures with Garrison Resources. And when you set out to collect them ALL in every zone, we’re talking gathering up a thousand or more resources, just within a zone or two.
Plus did I mention pets? Yeah, you know I like mah pets.
Yeah. So, my Garrison Resource woes were over before they began. And I got to see even more of every nook and corner of the zones. Gave me an opportunity to run across more Rares as well, which are little more than Garrison Resources on the hoof. And more cute items, of course.
If you haven’t gone to Ashran and scored some treasure maps, don’t overlook this wonderful thing. So much fun!
If you’re Alliance, you buy your maps from Grakis in Stormshield, and if you’re Horde you buy them from Srikka. They are the Archeology vendors in Ashran.
A few things I’ve learned along the way, at least as of this writing.
First, the treasures are showing up on my main map just fine, but usually not on my minimap until AFTER I do a /reload ui command. Once I run that in a zone, the minimap shows them along with tracking arrows pointing to the closest ones. I think it was related to flying into a zone and needing to refresh the map.
Second, when you think you’re standing on a treasure and you can’t find it, when in doubt, look for the cave or overhang. Most of the time they’re in caves you didn’t even know were beneath you, or way over your head on a cliff edge or a massive mushroom.
in those cases, I made extensive use of my Engineering Goblin Glider. Don’t forget, you can get your own Goblin Glider Kit from any friend with an Engineering building (I think from the follower you assign there. I have such a follower assigned to mine, I’ll check later). These Goblin Glider Kits are useable by anyone, you don’t need to be an Engineer. They are consumables, though, just like the ones from the Timeless Isles. They stack to 20, but aren’t they just so useful? EVERYONE CAN FLY for a teeny, tiny amount of time.
Okay, so it’s not flying… it’s falling with style.
The other thing I personally keep forgetting, is that if you chose the Lumber Yard in Gorgrond as your outpost, you got access to the Mechashredder 5000. This thing may be fun for chewing up mobs, but it also has built in rocket packs to let you fly! Like, fly around including straight up!
I can’t tell you how long I spent on one gentle step off an Ogre roof to try to get a dangling pack of treasure, only to go too far each time. I finally got it by walking off, and while standing there, THEN it occured to me I could have just flown the hell up! Grr.
So much fun in Draenor. So many things to do, just finding all the items to get Image of Archmage Vargoth as a follower took up an enjoyable evening of exploration and fun.
Now, a public service message.
I know people are already calling for more Garrisons in the next expansion.
What I’m hoping is that over the course of THIS expansion, we unlock new content and new patches, we get closer and closer to Sargeras unleashing the full blown burning crusade on our new world, and when they do, the next expansion focuses on building upon our existing Garrisons here on Draenor.
Instead of an expansion that moves the focus of the action to a brand new zone somewhere else where we will wonder how we start a new Garrison concept anew all over again, my fervent hope is that the link we have between Draenor out of time and the Azeroth of our temporal stream draws the full attention of Sargeras like a beacon in the heavens, and when it does Draenor will be transformed… and our Garrisons will still be relevant, and have more opportunities to grow.
Oh, also, am I the only one that loves seeing the world change for the better after we quest through it thanks to zoning?
I went back to the beach village where the Alliance crashes ashore in Shadowmoon, and it’s no longer overrun by pale orcs and chaos and fires. It’s now a lovely, peaceful fishing village and a great place to kick back, drink a few and fish a few more.
All this time I’ve wished that, once I’d completed my quests to rescue a village or stop an invasion, that once I’d killed the mobs and put the fires out they’d stay saved the next time I came through.
And now they do! So nice, so so nice.
I hope everyone reading this has found something they are enjoying, something they are thankful to discover in the game, some reason to be positive. It’s a marvelous expansion, and if they continue building future expansions along these lines they’ve got absolutely nothing to worry about.
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Okay, I’m Alliance. I can’t motivate you by screaming at you about Victory or Death. We like the softer, cuddlier side of life.
In the Alliance, we’re a kinder, gentler evil overlord imposing our will on a brave new world of savage foes and savager delights.
Best I can do is exhort you to fight fiercely in all your battles, and remind you that at the end of the day your Pleasure-Bot 8000 will be waiting at your Garrison to offer you a massage and a nice hot toddy with your favorite slippers.
I won’t judge why you went to so much trouble to acquire a Pleasure-Bot 8000. Don’t ask, don’t tell, right? Hey, what you do in the privacy of your own inn is your business.
I’m also not going to ask what all those followers are doing in the ‘private rooms’ in the back. As long as the management gets a cut, it’s all good. Do what feels right.
Setting the tone, check.
This expansion has turned the game upside down for me. Blizzard has succeeded with Warlords of Draenor. Indeed, they’ve succeeded all too well.
Here’s the bare truth. I am legitimately more excited to gear up and level my followers than I am to level up on my main.
Or to put it another way, questing is what I do on my main while I wait for my follower missions to be completed.
Also, questing using the Wowhead Follower Guide is what I do to seek out new followers, new locations of minions, to boldly go where new followers have never been found before. I love that guide. That guide is my Gulliver’s journal to adventure!
For the horde!
That’s horde with a little ‘H’, I am a hoarder of a horde, I want them all, must have ALL the minions, must expand my evil empire, must pursue higher follower iLevels…
What, the followers are supposed to exist to support my character’s activities in the game? You’re joking, right?
That is no longer the game I want to play. I want my character activities to support the actions of my MINIONS in the game. Everything I do, I do it for you. And you, and you and you.
And YOU get an armor enhancement, and YOU get an armor enhancement, and You and You and You!
I want to quest to find a nice comfy chair for my followers to sit on while resting in the Inn. Just before the Spanish Inquisition bursts in and asks them pointed questions in uncomfortable ways.
Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! And certainly nobody knows how to handle… the comfy chair.
I want to be able to research a new small building… the BEER GARDEN. With attached outdoor barbeque area, of course. A nice patio, dancing with my Disco ball at night, luau lamps and tiki torches and a party going on down here, it’s a celebration that lasts throughout the year.
Is that so wrong of me?
I’m telling you. This carrot dangling in front of me will keep me going for years. Content patches? Give me more building options, furniture and missions to send my followers on, oh my.
Right now we can have some followers as Bodyguards with the level 2+ Barracks, follow us around.
The existing followers have pre-determined mounts they use.
Why not open that up? Have any of the followers be able to be Bodyguards.
Or failing that, of the Followers that CAN be Bodyguards, let us quest for Follower mounts we can assign to them.
Follower Mounts… and visible armor transmog sets (not pieces, full sets, let’s not get too complicated). And weapons. And banner poles they can have flying our guild pennant behind them. Or our Garrison symbol! We have Guild logos, why not a symbol for our own Garrison? Our own mark of zorro to strike fear into the hearts of our foes, a heraldic escutcheon carried by our sworn men-at-arms to protect them from the fel fire and arrows of outrageous posers.
Can you imagine being able to have Tormmok assigned as your Bodyguard, and then assign him a sparkle pony, or better yet a big barrel-bellied pony as his mount? And he already has wicked cool armor, but to be able to assign him the Stormwind Guard armor transmog set from the Dwarven Bunker? And top it off with a big banner pole waving your Garrison symbol proudly behind him.
Have your own hulking mass of monstrous badass following you around looking like your Garrison Thug. Your homeland homie.
Your own persona Knuckledragger. Riding around on his tiny fat-bellied donkey following along behind you, as you gallop forth on your majestic rounds surveying your demesne and keeping the peons hopping to it in the fields.
Would I raid for new Followers? Yes, of course.
Would I raid equally as hard for loot upgrades that are worthless except for transmog as soon as the next content patch hits?
Errr. Do I have to answer that where my raid leader can see me?
Blizzard, you won with this expansion. Body and soul, the Garrison and my Followers have supplanted my own characters in what I’m loving to do.
The scary bit is I’m also loving the zones and the questing and the playing of my character. It’s all fantastic, the level of care and grand adventure that all the storylines I’ve played have evoked is magical.
It’s just that as good as the questing is, I love my Follower mini-game even more.
I can tell you this, even at the height of my rare pet battling and collecting obsession, I didn’t go more than two or three mornings waking up to sneak downstairs and see if a rare spawn had popped on a low-pop server.
With Garrisons? “Oh, it’s 4:30 AM, I don’t have to start getting ready for work for another half hour… plenty of time to gather resources, collect mission results and assign Followers to new tasks. Best be quiet, don’t want to wake Cassie.”
Yeah. Yeah, this is a thing.
And my Garrison is still level 2! I can only hope my enthusiasm wanes when I hit level 3 and expand.
Did I mention how excited I am that today I should have my third level 100 Follower and can start taking part in the level 100 missions for bonus rewards?
I used to joke, and say I wasn’t addicted, i can quit any time.
Hah. HAH. LOLOLOLHAHAHAHAALOLOLOL bullshit bullshit bullshit.
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We’re still early days into the expansion, and I’ve learned a very valuable lesson.
I was lucky enough to be in the beta, and I spent most of my time on the Horde side, because I didn’t want to spoil the Alliance storyline.
This morning was hilarious. And frustrating!
On the Alliance side, I’ve been taking the completist approach. I’m poking my nose in all the nooks and crannies, looking for quests, rares, ore and timber for my Lumber Mill, neat caves, whatever I might find.
I know I need to get to max level so I can begin preparing for the first raid to be on track with my team. At the same time, this is my main, and I want to get ALL the things in the world. So many quest chains result in Followers that I really do have the perfect incentive to do everything there is to do. If there will be a mount, toy, pet or Follower at the end of it, I will be there, and grateful for the experience.
What is it about the Pets, Followers and Mounts that are so much different from normal quest rewards? Is it that those items are good and fun forever, regardless of your level or zone? Cloth shoulders may come and weapon upgrades may go, but having a cute whelpling follow you around can last a lifetime.
This weekend my family is celebrating Thanksgiving a few weeks earlier than usual, so today was going to be a short start. I had enough time to do what will certainly become our new game routine; log in, collect Work Order Shipments, set new work orders in action, collect missions and send my Followers out, collect ore from the mine, find those damn buried slippers, gather up the accumulated Garrison Resources from the crates, and then check my stock on materials. A little low on Timber? Time to head out on a mining, timber and rare run!
I wandered out of the Garrison and started riding around some of the areas I’ve found small Timber to be growing in the past, getting Timber stockpiled so I’m not always worried about it while questing in the world. You can have up to 250 so might as well stock up, right?
My travels running around enjoying the morning took me eventually to a place just to the southeast of the Burial Fields, over near the river.
There, I spotted a skull on my minimap meaning there was a rare I hadn’t yet killed.
Sounds like fun!
Now, this was within minutes of the servers coming back up, and they came up hours before the stated time, so gamer populations were scarce. Comparatively, anyway.
I had this guy all to myself.
Yggdrel, a big ass ancient tree dude.
Looked pretty cool, had him all to myself, and it’s a lovely morning. Let’s get some Timber!
I ran in, and a few seconds later I was dead.
Wait, what the bloody heck was that what?
Okay, that was surprising. Oh, right, I bet I had no food, no buffs, no pet, I bet I even let the Grimoire of Sacrifice buff fall off, tooling around like I was invincible and stuff.
Well, see, that’s because I’ve felt just that. Throughout Shadowmoon Valley questing and rares, I’ve felt invincible. Unstoppable. What’s that? A wanted poster in the Draakorium, go kill some cute beastie, recommended three people or you get your ass stomped?
Lolright. I got this. No sweat.
I’m fully raid geared. This is my main, I’m iLevel 586 and I’m used to smoking those poor mounties that get in my way. Rawr Bear! Sure, ALL of my alts are gonna be having a challenging time of it when it’s their turn to come this way, but this is MY MAIN.
When you see me coming, just fall down and show your belly, boy. The Alpha is in town.
All right. So I died. It was just a fluke.
Summon my pet, kill him to enhance my calm (and boost those numbers, right?), eat some food, cast a buff. All right, let’s do this.
Wham, wham, there he wait, entangling what? WHAT? The FARM TENTACLES?!?! NOOOOOOO!!!!!!
Okay, that’s just embarrassing.
Shit just got really real. Monstre hears about this, I’ll never live it down. Fucking tree takes my ass out? Like hell.
Resurrect, buff, tank pet OUT and upgraded, flasks, food, um… right.
Okay, let’s kick this pig.
Okay, pets in, looking good, tentacle cast and grabs me, send the pet at it and burn it down, good, taking a lot of damage but I can do this, I can do this, pop DPS cooldowns, pop 10 minute demonspawn, get in there and WTF HE CHAIN CASTS THE TENTACLE WTF OVER.
I fought my way through 3 tentacles before dying again.
Okay, this is getting silly. I’m better than this. Right? Hmmm.
I better be better than this, or I’m in trouble.
Hmm… Soulstones are a thing, right? Yeah. I coulda done soulstones.
Okay, this time I’m awake. All those other times I wasn’t really freaking AWAKE, you know? But this shit, this is going down. I am not just wandering off with a branch shoved up my ass crying that the big bad tree did mean things to me. Oh, HELL no.
We’re going all in.
Buff, food, flasks, the goddamn Soulstone, and you know what?
YOU KNOW WHAT?
I’m calling in close fire support. I’m breaking out the Alliance Garrison peeps that are supposed to give me a hand.
I haven’t ever used them before, but I made a Barracks and they gave me this nifty Alliance banner button and told me, when you get in a pinch, who you gonna call? GARRISON BUSTERS.
Fine, I’m gonna pop mah peeps on him, too. Who knows, maybe they will do that extra 5% damage I needed to kill this sucker.
That’s it, all out, going in, pet take that aggro and you hold it, you hear me you best be holding that aggro or I’m gonna summon you and kill you over and over until you think this is Edge of Tomorrow level shit.
All righty. Got it good and stuck in? Entangling Vine cast going out?
UNLEASH THE PUPPIES OF WAR!
And do you know, damned if that tentacle didn’t go after one of the Alliance guys instead of me?
Isn’t that just amazing? Using the Alliance garrison puppies in battle meant there were other targets to get grabbed.
Well, that felt like cheesing the damn fight. Tree fall down go boom.
I’ll tell you something, THAT kind of fight will sure enough wake you up in the morning, just holy crap.
Damn, was that fun! Was it?
HELL YES it was fun, that was just what I needed to cap my enjoyment of the entire zone before moving my thoughts on to taking on the new challenges of Gorgrond.
And as with all rares, there was a reward.
This one was extra cute, because it gave me a new Toy.
The Ancient’s Bloom!
Rawr look at me I’m a tree!
Now I can be a tree whenever I like… as long as I don’t want to walk around anywhere.
Whatever else anyone may have to say about the expansion or the release, it really all comes down to, will it be fun to play.
For me, the answer is a yes, it’s everything I could have wanted in an expansion.
Shadowmoon Valley is my kind of beautiful fantasy zone, and I’m delighted that my long term vacation home is right there in the middle of it.
I know the Vale was supposed to be the pretty ‘look at this place’ thing, but I’m not a creature of sun-drenched fields and sun-dappled hills.
I’m all about the purples and the greens, the shadows and the calm of twilight settling through the clouds. Shadowmoon is the place I want to be.
I know things with the game launch have been very difficult and frustrating for a lot of people, and that sucks. It’s the opposite of what a new game should be, a celebration of all that we love in WoW.
But please, remember, this too shall pass, and in less time than it would take to farm a new mount with 100 Champion’s Seals in the Argent Tournament, all this crazy will be behind us and fading from our memory as we dig deeper into a great new expansion.
Doesn’t help any when you’re the one pissed off, but it WILL get better. And once the technical issues fall away, the prize is well worth the effort.
I think you’re going to like it here.
Just… watch out for those fucking trees.
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