Unpopular opinion: I liked World of Warcraft’s garrisons

I don’t think a lot of World of Warcraft players look back at Warlords of Draenor with fondness. I get that. It introduced a storyline and continent that was at best a fantasy cul-de-sac, it suffered from some of the worst content drought that WoW ever had, and it had too little to do at the endgame. But the thing you’ll hear players cursing the most, oddly enough, are garrisons.

What’s weird is that, at the start of Draenor, everyone loved garrisons. Loved loved loved them. It’s hard to remember that now, but back in November 2014, it’s all anyone wanted to talk about. Finally, players had a spot of their own in the game and some sort of weird hybrid functional housing-base-thing. There was a lot of carrots to chase with this system, a lot of potential rewards, and plenty of choices to be made. There was even a light degree of customization, as players could pick up music scrolls and holiday overlays to change it up from the default.

They were also really useful, both as a home base and as a generator of resources. Players could work on professions, gather mats, train up battle pets, and so on. Really, other than offering portals, your garrison could perform pretty much every city service need.

But what happened? There are two main complaints that seem to get circulated enough these days to be the “reality” of the garrison fallout, although I personally think that it was more complicated than that (and I hold to the opinion that there were a lot of folks like me that never *disliked* their garrisons and would have liked to see the system continue). The first is that garrisons encouraged the community to be too insular and isolated, which is something I don’t buy that much; people are as social or not as they want to be, even if they’re standing in the middle of a city square. The second is that constantly logging in to run follower missions became a tedious, frequent chore that you couldn’t escape due to the huge gold generation that it produced.

Blizzard’s solution at the end of Draenor was planned obsolescence for garrisons. Gold missions were nixed, the garrison system wasn’t supported past the expansion, and there were new systems designed to try to replace that role. Order halls were supposed to be kind of the Garrisons 2.0, just less personal and more social but with a lot of functionality. I found them to be a waste of space and definitely not as enjoyable as operating my own garrison — because it wasn’t mine. It was communal space in a game full of communal spaces.

I think that Blizzard could have produced a far more elegant solution to continuing with garrisons while making changes to address those two common points of complaint. Adding a lot more customization in terms of decoration and personal expression could have driven players to visit each other, especially if there was a rating system or the like in place. Mission frequency could have been tuned way down — which is, in fact, what Blizzard has done with mission tables elsewhere.

Whether the garrison would have stayed put in Draenor or moved shop (via magic?) to the newer expansions, I don’t know, but there could have continued to be ways to tie it into the latest storylines. And if Blizzard wanted more carrots to keep players motivated, well, then there was always ways to continually upgrade buildings to feature the current expansion’s mats and focus.

I guess I wanted to say that I kind of liked garrisons and I miss them now that they’re defunct. Looking over the last several years, there was no content system in the game that excited me as much as this one did. Here’s hoping that Blizz can whip up something as or even more interesting for the next expansion foray.

9 thoughts on “Unpopular opinion: I liked World of Warcraft’s garrisons

  1. Rick Mills August 22, 2019 / 9:04 am

    I also loved them – the shipyard was fun also!

  2. Krikket August 22, 2019 / 9:05 am

    I think garrisons were an easy target in a lackluster expansion. Sure, easier metal and herb collection didn’t do great things for the economy, but otherwise, most of the complaints were not really about garrisons as much as what WoD was missing overall (no hub city, not enough non-garrison content to take up the time between patches, etc.). Mission tables gave people something they’ve wanted for a long time – a way to interact with the game without actually being in the game via the mobile app. Was it perfect? No, but no new gameplay element is off the bat. I think if WoD had been a more robust expac overall, the garrison hate wouldn’t have been what it was.

  3. Belghast August 22, 2019 / 9:45 am

    I enjoyed them quite a bit, but the only real tweak I would have made was to make it WAY larger and have it shared among all of your characters as an account wide thing and not on a per character basis. Trying to keep the Garrison going on multiple characters became a frustrating mess at times.

  4. Marathal August 22, 2019 / 10:32 am

    I still visit mine, it’s cheap for tailors to make bags, and it’s a steady source of income. For pet battlers, when Squirt is up on a Pet Battle week, you can power level pets to 25 in a few minutes each. I think 3-4 fights to go from 1 to 25. My only dislike was being dumped in the cold snowy wasteland. Compared to the Alliance base that was much more inviting. I know it was originally planned to allow us to locate them in other spots, but time factors locked them in. I think the feature put too much specific focus around operating them, but then did not allow more customization beyond put large building here or there.

  5. Minimalistway August 22, 2019 / 1:58 pm

    I liked them, people wanted to blame something and Garrison is easy target, WoD problem was the lack of content, Blizzard gave up on doing anything after 6.2 or even before that, i liked classes in WoD and enjoyed playing all of them, i liked questing in Draenor and the zones with all their treasures and bonus objectives, what came after that? the legendary quest line which is removed now and almost nothing else.

  6. Pallais August 22, 2019 / 4:21 pm

    I like and still use my garrisons, some more than others. I wish Blizzard would get over its institutional disdain of player & guild housing and add those options into the game on a permanent, supported basis. Just like collecting, transmog, pet battles, player housing can be another facet of the game that keeps people playing.

    Sometimes, the cynic in me thinks they don’t want housing because they need the illusion of Wrath-era player volumes. Which is dumb given their sharding system starts to break down when you get more than 40 people in a shard on a side. Ah, well.

  7. kamaliaetalia August 22, 2019 / 6:45 pm

    I enjoyed my Garrisons. In fact, I kept returning to them faithfully every week to recruit a new follower at the Inn for the first year of Legion, trying with each of my characters to collect all of the followers of the same class as that character… until I finally got tired of the RNG and gave up.

    I hoped to be able to use my Garrison Hearthstone as a quick shortcut back to Draenor, but one of the mid-Legion patches broke the Garrison Hearthstone — I’d get disconnected whenever I tried to use it — and I haven’t checked recently to find out if that ever got fixed.

    Like Marathal commented above, though, I wasn’t ever really happy about having been dumped into a frozen wasteland with my Horde Garrison. I got used to it, but I always feel sorry for all those poor inadequately dressed NPCs freezing their toes and fingers and other tender places off in the continual wind and swirling snow of Frostfire Ridge. Lunarfall is a much more pleasant location — even with the continual twilight that some of the NPCs there complain about. And I really wished I could have the Alliance version of the Mage Tower for my Horde Garrison, too!

  8. Tyler F.M. Edwards August 22, 2019 / 10:57 pm

    I liked them, too. They had a lot of problems, but it was nice to have an in-game home, and with some tweaks they could have evolved into a really good feature. Instead Blizzard just gave up without even trying to fix any of the problems. It’s such a waste.

  9. Dobablo August 23, 2019 / 4:07 am

    Garrisons had too much busy-work. You log in and feel as though you have to spend 15 minutes running around doing the chores, and since they provide so much value you feel you have to do it on every alt. The easy path is to fall into a route of garrison burn-out. Garrisons would be fantastic places if the resource gathering was a once-a-week activity and the missions were on the app.
    One of the things I like about emissaries is that their busy-work sends you away the main hub and varies every day.

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