Home Sweet Garrison

Is everyone ready for another episode of Shintar talking about an expansion feature from several years ago as if it was novel and interesting? Ready or not, here it comes!

The panda duo that the husband and I created last month hit level 50 a couple of weeks ago, after running each WoD dungeon exactly once and completing all the quests in the first two zones (for Alliance), Shadowmoon Valley and Gorgrond. Since then we've been putzing around finishing up grey quests for the story and working on various achievements, many of which are related to the Garrison.

Back when Warlords of Draenor was the current expansion and I wasn't playing, the main things I remember hearing people talk about in regards to Garrisons were:

  • Discussions about whether they qualified as housing or not, how well they worked as "Blizzard's version of housing" and whether they encouraged players too much to hide away from the rest of the world.
  • Talk about how Garrisons generated tons of resources and made gathering professions feel somewhat obsolete as everyone, regardless of their chosen professions, could harvest free herbs and ore in their Garrison every day.
  • They were also said to generate a lot of gold before Blizzard nerfed them in the run-up to the next expansion. The other week I heard a content creator imply that if you worked your Garrison back in WoD, you should basically still be flush with money now, three expansions later. I'm trying to take that with a grain of salt, but it was clearly a big deal.
  • I remember Wilhelm really liking his Garrison to level battle pets or something...

My own first impressions were not so positive. Everything cost prohibitive amounts of gold for a new character and since I initially refused to have my main sponsor my panda, my garrison basically consisted of a level one lumber mill and not much else. It was only after my husband hazed me one too many times about being able to chop down bigger trees than me that I relented and sent myself about 15k gold to start upgrading my buildings, plus I was starting to approach the cap for Garrison resources and really needed to spend some.

And I'll admit... as I started to unlock more buildings and quests, the whole thing grew on me. I did immediately love the stable and how it allowed me to harvest herbs and interact with things without getting off my flying mount, as if I was a druid... 

My initial worry about "doing it wrong" quickly dissipated once I realised that you could raze and re-erect buildings to your heart's content, though I guess the gold cost still makes it somewhat prohibitive to do that all the time.

As I've explored the system more, I've been quite impressed with the depth of it, all the benefits you can unlock, plus how it interacts with the follower system. It's quite complex! I can tell that Blizzard must have poured a lot of work into it and it doesn't surprise me that certain kinds of players found their Garrison extremely engaging. It doesn't really feel like housing at all though (in my opinion), more like a personal hub that replaces hanging out in a capital city.

The other day we also unlocked the ship yard, and I can see why people weren't too thrilled with that, as it's basically another Garrison mission table, only worse.

All in all, these are features that have the potential to provide a lot of busywork - I can only imagine how much time it must have taken players who had Garrisons on multiple alts back in the day to go through them all, collect resources from every building and who knows what else. It must've made for quite a different play experience than most WoW expansions.


  1. Euggg, yah. Garrisons were the thing that finally convinced me that player housing would be a bad thing, because it would be more of the same as the garrison.

    Basically, all the benefits of a central hub city, but without any annoying, ya know ... people.

    Now, I'm not a big fan of people in general, but the purist in me just objects to this on principle.

    So, yeah, I grinded that garrison, but I also saw a lot of things I didn't like in it.

    1. See, to me the Garrison doesn't really feel like housing though. I would define housing in an MMO as a personal space that you can customise, and where your character can rest and store stuff. Garrison customisation was so limited as to be almost non-existent (except for the option to activate a different selection of buildings), and while it was technically a rest zone, it was full of busywork and quests telling you to do stuff.

      I think housing in WoW would be fine if it was actual housing as defined above, and the gameplay stayed in the outside world. Not that it matters to me as I can take or leave housing as a feature in general, but just saying.

  2. I am still split on garrisons years later. They were kind of an odd bird, not really housing but yours alone unless you invited somebody in, and both well integrated into the game and yet breaking some of it along the way. I still go there and make 30 slot bags with one of my alts because you could produce them endlessly with just a bit of effort and we didn't get bigger bags for a while.

    I do use my garrison every time I go back to play retail WoW. While it isn't great for battle pets, Draenor itself has a series of battle pet bosses you can challenge daily that will let you bring a level 1 pet to 25 in one pass. And if you're doing that, you might as well grab the weekly quest for it out of the garrison.

    1. I actually vaguely remembered your thing about using the Garrison to produce bags, so I built the tailoring building and started making cloth in it, only to realise that the results were soulbound and I couldn't make bags out of them since my priest isn't a tailor. A learning experience!

      The free level-up stone you get in the Garrison caused me to get my first battle pet to 25 and briefly gave me the enthusiasm to level a few more, but that quickly fizzled out again. Maybe one day I'll unlock the menagerie...

  3. I was still working on my Garrison when the whole "Blizzard is too awful to give money too" thing blew up and I stopped playing WoW. I don't remember having money to upgrade it being a major issue and I was playing on a free to play account with no outside source of income. I just ran some old raids solo and that seemed to give me plenty of cash.

    I kind of liked my Garrisons and kind of hated it. It's way too fiddly and complicated and time consuming to be a fun, fluff feature but nowhere near enough interesting in its mechanics to justify the time involved. It really falls between two stools there. I'd prefer it either to be much simpler and faster to use or else have real housing options like free placement, decorating and actual creative construction. I suspect that if it hadn't had those huge money-making possibilities back when it was endgame content, the feature would have been largely ignored by most players.

    1. Oh man, I completely forgot that you were also playing around with Garrisons when you were last subscribed! Looking back on your old posts, you do mention in one that "upgrading just the few buildings I needed to get the operation up and running cost gold I didn't have" and that's why you kept farming the old raids. I didn't have to farm since I had the money on my main, but before I got over the hump of not wanting to "spoil" my alt, normal gameplay definitely wasn't earning her enough money to really afford the Garrison.

      It certainly feels like a Blizzard feature in the sense that they often seem to be afraid of adding anything new if it isn't going to be central to character progression, so of course they couldn't just let you build a base "for fun" but had to stuff it with things to do that were related to everyday gameplay.

  4. ESO took some of the aspects of garrisons --getting mats on a daily basis-- and converted it to receiving emails for those mats. There's no face to face connection present, but from my perspective that's not necessarily a bad thing.