Monday, December 1, 2014

WoW Analysis: Improving The Garrison

When Warlords of Draenor was introduced, it featured a number of changes and additions, such as character model updates and ability pruning. One feature, the Garrison, puts the player at the helm of commander of a major stronghold for the Horde or Alliance to gain a foothold in Draenor. By becoming the lord of the Garrison, the player essentially gains large authoritative power by assigning their followers on missions, much like a questgiver sending players on quests, and building structures, which the player can then utilize to create work orders at his or her command. While this isn't revolutionary by any means (Neverwinter Nights 2's Crossroad Keep utilized some of the features the Garrison has, for instance), it provides players with a way to spend their time that is unique compared to prior features, where they often have to play the errand runner.

However, while the feature is excellent, it can be improved upon through suggestions that improve the quality of life and address potential flaws (such as ones stated here). In this article, I will list a few suggestions that I believe would improve the Garrison feature, with explanations for each set of suggestion much like the previous analysis article on Singed. On an unrelated note, I may begin to post suggestions in this style more often so that I can provide clearer explanations for my reasoning. Changes added after this article is published will be noted with an asterisk*.

Suggestion List

The suggestions to improve upon the Garrisons mostly related to missions and buildings. If I can think of more improvements after publishing this article, I may add them to this list.
When three missions are completed (success or fail) award one mission replacement charge, which can accumulate up to a maximum of three. Players can then use these charges to replace another mission at any time.
The idea of this addition is to give players the option to remove missions due to various reasons, such as undesirable reward, length of time, and lack of followers that match enemy weaknesses. The sheer randomness of the missions that replace it may either yield a desirable mission or an even more undesirable mission. This mechanic is similar to League of Legend's Howling Abyss reroll system in that it provides players with a chance for something better.
There should always be enough missions available such that 80% of the active followers can be on a variety of missions at a given time (meaning there should be a mix of longer and shorter missions). In addition, provide more missions for individuals and pairs and increase the chance and amount of salvage awarded from longer missions. For instance, the amount of salvage awarded is based on the number of followers sent on the mission and the chance of the award scales with the length of the mission (assuming this isn't already the case).
To better illustrate the reasoning behind this suggestion, I present the following image:
As one can see, there are a grand total of five missions available, two of which are already in progress. All of these missions are also lengthy and for three followers. While the mission replacement option suggested above may help combat this, there are an overwhelmingly large number of level 100 missions for three followers (that are lengthy). Not only does this slow down follower management significantly, meaning players who enjoy managing followers lose out, the aforementioned missions can be considered undesirable if a player wishes to acquire rewards from the often faster lower level missions to utilize the Salvage Yard and the like.

Speaking of the Salvage Yard, salvage has a chance to be awarded for each mission completed, making the faster, lower level missions more advantageous to send followers on. By increasing the chance and amount of salvage awarded from longer missions, it balances out missions by the amount of time, followers, and Garrison Resources invested (since long, multi-follower missions usually cost a larger amount of resources).
The following suggestions are related to buildings with work orders:
  • Level three buildings with work orders have a 25% decreased time between work orders, meaning work orders are completed every three hours.
  • When a follower is working at a building, their quality decreases the time between work orders by 0% (for uncommon), 12.5% (for rare), or 25% (for epic).
  • Followers assigned to work at a building gain experience when a work order is completed. Ideally, the experience gain rate should be a little lower than experience gains from missions. For example, up to level 100, a follower gains 10% experience per work order, which decreases to 5% when upgrading from uncommon to rare and 2.5% when upgrading from rare to epic.
Expect to see this screen when handling work orders a lot.
Based on the issues mentioned in the post linked above, the perks of buildings with work orders, especially profession buildings (such as the Engineering Works) are not that useful at level three. While players without the profession can craft some decent products, players with the profession who would often construct the building do not benefit since the crafter sells recipes instead. Based on the suggestion of the post to have some way to increase the speed of work orders, I added the suggestion for level three buildings to have faster work orders, increasing the amount of completed work orders from six per day to eight per day, which gives huge incentive to invest Garrison Resources towards upgrading buildings with work orders to level 3.

The addition of followers increasing the speed of work orders is an additional perk that provides an incentive for players to increase the quality of their follower along with their level, which increases the chance for additional products for each work order, to a maximum of 100% at level 100. To help with this, I added the suggestion for followers to gain experience from working at a building. This gives player an option to train their follower by taking advantage of an uncommon profession-related trait as opposed to missions while still leaving missions as an attractive option to level followers more quickly if so desired.
While the Mage Tower and Spirit Lodge provide some decent perks at level 1, it is exceedingly underwhelming otherwise. I suggest the following additional perks:
  • At level 2, the Mage Tower/Spirit Lodge gains a vendor that allows players to spend Ogre Waystones on consumable magical items, such as a feather that provides temporary flight, followed by slowfall.
  • At level 3, more potent magical items unlock, such as a temporary magical shroud that occasionally reflects incoming spells or a fire spirit that provides a massive burst of speed and haste for a short time. In addition, a portal to one capital city of your choice can be opened at the cost of Ogre Waystones permanently. The portal's destination can be changed at any time at the cost of more Ogre Waystones.
When I took a glance at the Spirit Lodge on the beta, I expected by building it I would eventually have access to a portal or a hub of portal that would take me to capital cities, allowing me to avoid Warspear in Ashran. However, instead the descriptive implied strongly towards a linearly growing benefit, meaning one would get access to some fast travel in Draenor. While this is convenient, this feels like an underwhelming benefit. In addition, as mentioned in the suggestion, the Ogre Waystones don't have a lot of practical usage and there was clearly some other potential perks for the Mage Tower/Spirit Lodge in the form of the random appearance of a rune of power that provides a buff. Therefore, I fleshed out the Mage Tower/Spirit Lodge with more perks that capitalize on the ability to earn Ogre Waystones and gain magic-related benefits.
Once the Gnomish Gearwork/Goblin Workshop is level 3, allow the player to choose which invention(s) to use daily.
The reasoning of this suggestion is that the randomness of accessible inventions earlier on is to ensure a player gets access to all the inventions over time, allowing them to unlock the level three version of the building. By this point, the player may have some inventions that they favor using, but still have to deal with the randomness. Therefore, this small change would allow players to use their invention(s) of choice, rewarding players for trying out all the inventions and investing a huge amount of resources to construct the level three version of this building.
At level 2 or above, the Trading Post's work orders have a small chance of giving a Trading Post auctioneer part. In addition, the requirement to construct a level 3 Trading Post has been lowered to three revered Draenor reputations.
The first part of this suggestion allows players to randomly have a chance to earn some of the many parts required to create the Trading Post's auctioneer. This allows for some differentiation from the Lumber Mill's work orders, which also provide Garrison Resources. It is also helpful since the parts are rare and will likely take quite a bit of time and/or money to acquire. Even if a player has completed their auctioneer, they can save the parts for alts or sell them to other players.

The second part of the suggestion addresses an issue where the achievement to build the level 3 Trading Post requires the player to get exalted with a large number of Draenor reputations. While the reputation bonus perk of the level 3 Trading Post is account-wide it is useless for the character who earned the achievement. By lowering the requirement to three revered reputations, the level 3 Trading Post behaves in a manner similar to the Grand Commendations from Mists of Pandaria reputations, which is beneficial for both altoholics and players interested in focusing on a single character only.
Once the Lumber Mill is level 2, work orders can contain wood-related items like Complicated Wood, wands, bows, and so on. In addition, work orders produce 30 Garrison Resources by default and 40 when Phylarch the Evergreen is working at the Lumber Mill.
To follow up on the Trading Post suggestions, the first part of this suggestion allows the Lumber Mill, which is the other primary source of Garrison Resources from work orders, to create additional products from Timber, yielding a slight lumber-related benefit. The second part allows the Lumber Mill to produce an equal amount of Garrison Resources per work order as the Trading Post by default, with the bonus Garrison Resources from stationing Phylarch the Evergreen serving as an additional level 3 Lumber Mill perk since Phylarch the Evergreen can only be gotten after building a level 3 Lumber Mill to chop down large trees.
The Dwarven Bunker/War Mill work orders now provide more Iron Horde Scraps.*
This is a direct buff to the Dwarven Bunker/War Mill in terms of producing Iron Horde Scraps, which is used to purchase transmogrification gear. At the moment, work orders produce one Iron Horde Scrap per work orders. When compared to the fact players can actively farm the uncommon drop from Iron Horde enemies, the item also stacks to 200 and it's easy enough to farm several in a short time, making the yield from work orders abnormally low. While it's possible to earn follower items as well, it's only item level increasing utility as opposed to rarer follower items such as this, which only comes from two missions as of this writing, not to mention follower items don't always show up in work orders.
Animals captured for Barn work orders now stack up to 20.
While features such as the Toy Box and reagents stacking up to 200 help with inventory space issues, captured animals taking up their own individual inventory slots can easily cause problems with bag space, which isn't as much of a problem with other items used for work orders such as Timber or Broken Bones.
Draenic Stone can now be used to purchase some items, such as Miner's Coffee, Preserved Mining Pick, and possibly items similar to the ones Draenic Seeds can buy.
While the Garrison Mines likely produce a little too much ore, causing an overabundance of Blackrock Ore and True Iron Ore that could probably be resolved with changes to professions, the Draenic Stone that players mine from the Garrison Mines themselves is more than the amount needed for work orders. While the suggestion to speed up work order time helps to address this, miners naturally gather Draenic Stone from nodes in Draenor, meaning they will have an abundance that are probably best vendored for their 15 silver price tag.

Draenic Seeds, on the other hand, are often not able to be gathered in abundance (even at level 3) to the point of filling work orders and excess Draenic Seeds can be spent on vanity items like this pet. This suggestion allows players to spend some of their excess Draenic Stone on consumeables used in the Garrison Mine, which could be expanded to include a purchaseable pet and cosmetic equipment.
Turn the following into currencies: Broken Bones, Ogre Waystones, Iron Horde Scraps, Timber (or at least allow Broken Bones to stack as a single item, especially Broken Bones).
Like with the suggestion to allow captured animals to stack above, this suggestion is a quality of life change that allows players to prevent their inventories from being clogged with Garrison-related items. While converting them into currencies may be a little impractical since there are already quite a few currencies in the game, they could be put under their own classification as Garrison Currency. It would at least be helpful to allow the Broken Bones to stack to 9999 so players can farm their 4000 Broken Bones without taking up four inventory spaces.

Final Statement

I enjoy the Garrison because by utilizing all the features it has available, I can make the most out of my many alts and feel like I'm doing something productive on a daily basis. While it can be overwhelming at times, that is hardly a grievance compared to the many improvements the Garrison could have, which I have suggested above. Hopefully the Garrison will see some updates in the near future. Also, I did not mention fixing quests at the Inn/Tavern because the problems associated with them are mentioned very frequently compared to issues I mentioned that my suggestions tried to address.

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