Four Things I have learnt about my Garrison this week

The more time I spend in my own little oasis of Shadowmoon Valley calm, the more I’m enjoying my Garrison. Life however is very much a learning curve and thus I thought I’d share with you all the handful of facts that I’ve only just figured out despite having been level 100 since the 16th of November.

1. Getting a Follower as Green or Blue whilst obviously not as awesome as getting them as Purple is not the end of the world.

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Exhibit A

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Exhibit B

As you can see from my rather messy UI, both of these screenshots depict the robot belonging to Snowflower. The first one shows him in the state I found him in and the latter shows his condition many missions later.

2. If your minions have good enough gear, you can potentially get better items than you can get from the Raid Finder purely through missions.

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Kit a bunch of them out in item level 630 gear (the Salvage yard is great for this) and cross your fingers. So far Mr Harpy has received a 645 chest and 645 boots from letting his Followers take the strain whilst he’s been out at work. I must admit I have mixed feelings about this, should NPCs essentially go and fetch you higher item level gear than you get playing with other random people in a multi player game but it does give you options when you’re looking to gear up for raiding.

3. If you possess a Stables, favourite the Mounts you want on the Mounts collection screen and watch them turn up.

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Here are my favourites and yes, they can all be loosely classed as horses. Below you can see half of my level 3 Stables complete with said Horses wandering around.

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4. Mining is a nightmare with a level 3 Mine, however the best way to make it as pain free and quick as possible is to use the Goren Garb because it makes you roll both cuter and faster. The egg you loot this from does however take seven days to hatch so the sooner it’s picked up the better. You loot the egg from a Cracked Goren Egg in Gorgrond and instructions on the actual location can be found on the WoWhead page.

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There is definitely a world of potential out there with the Garrisons and it will be interesting to see how Blizzard keep taking it forward as we move through the patches.

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First Days of Draenor

Draenor.. it’s certainly been an interesting ride so far.

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On Snowflower, despite the fact that she’s level 92 her garrison lies unloved and mostly untouched mainly because I daren’t set foot in it. I spent most of yesterday afternoon stuck to it, attempting to leave only to be ported back and told my transfer was aborted. Clearly Garrisons have rather strong gravitational pull. Sproutling, perhaps because she’s a Gnome and thus has lower mass has had a lot more success and might actually manage to develop hers beyond a Barracks.

Questing has been far more successful. Shadowmoon Valley is without a doubt beautiful and the quest chains fit together nicely.

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I also love the sheer number of “treasure” dotted around the landscape, whether in the form of rares or just little trinket boxes hidden around the place. In fact I’d argue my biggest bug bear, apart from the Garrisons of course is the fact that half these items don’t seem to go into the Toy Box meaning bag space fills up just as fast. My favourites so far have to be this very fast and quite unpractical mount who drops from Shinri, a rare spawn in Shadowmoon Valley.

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Shinri’s Ghost – a very fast mount only usable in Shadowmoon Valley which lasts for about 20 seconds

and my Ancient’s Bloom, a toy I fell in love with on the Beta and made sure to grab as soon as possible on live. It drops from Yggdrel and whilst also impractical in that you can’t move whilst tree’d, I love it’s look.

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All in all, my experiences once away from the Garrisons have been fairly positive, although I see from Trade Chat that many don’t agree.

Fast First Impressions of the Beta (Spoilers included)

So far I’m pleasantly surprised.

My Nightelf is perhaps a tad too square jawed but I can live with that. I haven’t tried healing but am currently beating Orcs up on a 90 Druid and am heartily enjoying the experience. Would I want to do it 20 times, probably not but so far it’s been interesting and I’ve met some fascinating people along the way.

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I rather like the fact that the women did the fighting for once and having a Warden along for the ride… well that’s pretty awesome.

Also blood drinking Toucans are a wonderful touch and everything I’ve seen so far is extremely pretty if slightly gruesome.

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In fact I think Shadowmoon Valley mark 2 might easily become one of my favourite zones in game.

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The potential for transmogrification also seems interesting as my new character received this very quickly:

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Yep, a staff with a cluster of adorable little bugs flying around it’s end.

All in all, I find myself looking forward to the release.

Joan of Arc and the Battle for Draenor

Joan of Arc, her very name is evocative. I suspect you would be hard pushed to find a European Child who hasn’t heard of the Maid of Orleans and growing up, she was definitely one of my heroes. Thus when I heard Blizzard were introducing a Draenei best described as Joan of Arc, it sparked my imagination all over again. Yes there are potential pitfalls, after all, we remember Joan most for her trial and her fiery death than we do her military campaign but there could be many similarities between Joan’s role in the 100 years war and the conflict we will be seeing unfold on Draenor.

Blizzard have told us that this expansion will focus in part at least on the Light, covering how the Bloodelfs became Paladins and so on. Did Joan hear voices from God… probably not but the Draenei version could more than likely hear the voice of a Naaru inspiring her to fight the evil threatening her people. After all Joan definitely saw herself as a Holy Warrior which is the very definition of a Warcraft Paladin. Our first encounter with Yrel as Alliance could certainly be whilst trying to break an Orc siege on a Draenei town in Shadowmoon Valley mirroring Joan’s victory at the Siege of Orleans.

My main concern however is that Yrel will turn into yet another victim, that like Joan before her, it will be her death which finally turns the tide of war. It’s not that I have an issue with martyrs, just that what with Aggra keeping the home fires burning and the current lack of other notable female characters it would be nice if one could make it to the end of an expansion without having babies, changing character completely or to put it bluntly, dying to rally the troops. Depending on how Yrel’s story mirrors Joan she might be captured by one clan or another of the Orcs but hopefully if this is the case, then Velen won’t be guilty of the same crime that Charles VII has been repeatedly accused of, that of leaving Joan to her fate. Yrel could easily burn (or whatever punishment the Warlords hand down to those stand against them) in the original time line but our interference should change her destiny in the time line we are messing around in. There is also the possibility that Velen could mimic Charles in that he changes his mind half way through the conflict, deciding that negotiation not war is the way forward, something which I’m sure Yrel like Joan before her would disagree with.

I suppose I feel this is another example of Blizzard missing a trick. Why has there been no mention of this character before, they could have easily added another Draenei archaeology item when they first started working on the expansion. Something small and possibly even a grey referencing a Draenei hero who died bravely fighting against the Orcs. They wouldn’t have even needed to give a name or mention gender, just a tiny teaser towards their end-game. Although I suppose that it’s entirely possible that they will do something similar in the pre-expansion patch as a scene setter (and if they hadn’t thought of this, they should!).

I must admit my first reaction on discovering this “Joan of Argus*” was a negative one but then I started to contemplate the fate of the other women who inspired me as a child. Penthesilea the Amazon, slain by Achilles at Troy (by his reaction to her corpse, she was no doubt lucky he killed her before noticing what she looked like) and Boudicca, the Iceni Queen whose name shares meaning with my own who was flogged by the Romans, who watched her daughters being brutalized and assaulted and then if we believe the victors who wrote the history books, committed suicide rather than be captured (although given the Roman track record, not sure I would have done anything different in her place). Picking a female warrior to build a character around who died at a ripe old age in her own bed might be a tricky task and by choosing Joan, Blizzard have given themselves an fascinating building block to create a character that breaks the mold.

I’d also like to comment on the now infamous “boys trip” line. I happen to love Victorian Literature, a fact I’m sure long time readers are already aware of. Conan Doyle in particular was a childhood favourite, especially given that my Father felt that television destroyed young and impressionable minds and that I should either be curled up reading or outside taking part in such healthy pursuits as shooting things or “playing” war. Did it bother me that the Lost World was a “boys trip”? Not in the slightest, it reflects the period in which it was written and no doubt the attitude of it’s author but that should not be the case with Warcraft given that it’s over a 100 years later. This expansion shouldn’t just be about exploring the story which has already been told, there should be many threads interwoven amongst it and these hopefully will include those of women like Yrel, Garona, Draka, Greatmother Geyah and Ishanah.

In fact I think I’m going to go and get my Paladin to 90 so she’s ready to go back and fight at Yrel’s side.

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* I read this on a forum but can no longer remember which one but it’s oh so catchy albeit slightly cheesey.

First thoughts on the Warlords of Draenor

Where are all the women!

This I suspect is the biggest issue with returning to the past. We, the player base are already aware of major players, already are aware of at least part of their stories and in many cases already have loot with their names on it. That said, I suspect I and many others are running out of patience with Blizzard in this regard. Women do make up a large percentage of the player base and whilst yes, we’re capable of being pulled in to stories where the main protagonists are male (Supernatural springs to mind), it would be nice to have females doing something other than playing bit parts and having babies once in a while. Although I do have fairly high hopes for this female Draenei as well as Warlord Zaela, she of the Dragonmaw clan.

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Image from MMO Champion

Lore and Zones

At first I was unimpressed by the fact that we would for all intents and purposes be revisiting perhaps the ugliest of expansions but then I saw pictures. Shadowmoon Valley might always be shaded in darkness but it’s far less desolate and Hellfire Peninsula as a jungle not an arid red hell hole…. yes please. The idea of Shattrah being coastal and Zangarmarsh as a sea also appeals.

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I’m hoping the evolution we see here will be constant across this brave old world albeit in reverse. Plus this picture alone made me want to go diving into the seas of Zangarmarsh to see if there are baby mushrooms on the sea bed.

I think exploring zones we have visited before albeit in a different time line will be interesting, what landmarks are familiar and what has changed completely. It seems like a much younger landscape, one bursting with life.

It will also be interesting to see how many of the fauna and flora of Outlands existed back then. For example we know the Arakkoa should have been around:

Veil Rhaze was a particularly wicked colony of Skettis.

Despite the village’s eradication by the Auchindoun disaster, Terokk’s influence remained in the maligned spirits there. Travel west to Veil Rhaze and slay those murderous wretches. You’ll find them to the west of the Shadow Tomb, on the border of Bone Wastes and Terokkar Forest.

This will be our first blow against Terokk and the guardians of Skettis.

It was with interest that I noted one of the new zones is named “Spires of Arak”, I wonder if we’ll encounter more of our favourite bird people within.

New creatures, mounts and pets

This gnomish plant thing has to be a battle pet and if it’s not it really should be!

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Plus I really would like a clefthoof as a mount.

Garrisons

I have high hopes for this and hope it’s customizable at least to race as I don’t see my Night Elf choosing to build a typical Human base unless of course she can have an Inn like those in Northrend preferably with the balcony facing a waterfall.

  • Followers have quality or rarity and can be customized and named.

The customized and named aspect appeals too. It will be interesting to visit other people’s garrisons and see what sort of names they’ve picked for what are essentially their minions. I’d like to see lots of options like being able to decorate your base for festivals like Hallows End and Winter Veil not to mention perhaps being able to “persuade” the opposite faction into helping you out. Also having certain mounts visible in your stables or having some of your battle pets running around or sleeping by the fire would be an awesome touch.

Leveling a character straight to 90

I have mixed feelings about this but now with the new Dwarf female models, I suspect mine might go on a new Warlock.

The new character models

Slightly concerned here because well at the moment Sprout is a serious Gnome as shown by the existing model on the right and and the new model appears to be anything but. I also don’t like the elasticity of new mouth. In some of those emoting screenshots it looks down right disturbing.

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Everything Else

Everything else sounds pretty positive, especially the way that they want to take questing and of course the removal of daily quest hubs has to be massive step in the correct direction. Also the changes to bag space will be amazing and are about three expansions too late already. I’m also hoping that their description of the new PvP zone as being something like the original AV holds up.

The trailer left me with a sneaking desire to roll an Orc female of some sort.

All in all, I’m feeling fairly positive about the new expansion so far. Although I’m pretty sure when Sprout signed up to bring Garrosh to justice for Theramore, she didn’t know it was going to involve “time travel”.

If Haribo made Dragons..

They’d look like this:

So I’ve finally got around to finishing up my Netherwing reputation, it’s only taken me the better part of three expansions but I got there in the end. Pre-account wide mounts I wasn’t particularly interested in the jelly dragons because I didn’t see any of my characters ever using them. The idea of everything being shared changed my mind slightly because I can see my little Gnomish warrior flying about on one.

Despite doing it very slowly, I think the Netherwing grind is the perfect example of how non dungeon related reputation should work.

You start with a quest chain which introduces you to the faction and sets the scene. We learn about these poor mistreated dragons who are falling from the sky exhausted and progress from there. The chain then cumulates in what was a fairly tough group encounter, the demise of  Zuluhed the Whacked. I seem to remember helping an awful lot of people kill him in one of those little rooms off his courtyard.

Once you hit neutral, you have dailies to contend with but with each new level of reputation reached, you get more dailies to complete. There is also a good mix of quests from the Booterang which always makes me smile to the Deadliest Trap ever laid as well as one off quests mixed in. For example you have to make your own booterang before you can start throwing it at lazy peons which is a wonderful touch. Most importantly though I love the fact that you can supplement your daily rep gain by farming eggs as well as doing dailies. I wish all reputations followed the same pattern, offering you a choice of dailies or the ability to farm a specific item or a combination of both.

You also get disguises, okay it only works in a couple of specific zones in Shadowmoon Valley but disguises are always good. Then there are the trinkets which summon a whelping to fight with you, despite their bag space consumption, things like this are always useful to have.

Finally, hitting exalted isn’t the end. You get to have a meeting with the big bad guy, in this particular case Illidan who of course sees straight through our Orc disguise and is less than impressed. (Fascinating how when these bad guys project themselves places, they are always bigger than when you meet them face to face).

Although he does a great line in name calling,

This might become my go to response next time someone tries to explain away the fact that they ignored the healer/flag or anything else of crucial importance in PvP.

You get rescued by a Dragon pretending to be  Goblin which wraps up his “interest” in any Netherwing eggs you happen to find lying around nicely and flown off to bond with a sweetie coloured drake. The fact that you can then buy the other five drakes you didn’t pick is just icing on the lollipop.

It might be a reputation grind but it’s well paced enough to distract you with it’s various quests, items and rewards.