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This Garrison Life

“Last thing I remember, I was running for the door.
I had to find a passage back to the place I was before.
Relax, said the night man, we are programmed to receive,
You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.”
– The Eagles, Hotel California
My blog is basically my personal opinion and experience in MMO gaming, most notably in WoW. I feel I need to preface this post with such a disclaimer because I want to talk about something in World of Warcraft that seems to be polarizing right now, and that’s the love, or hate, of Garrisons.
When I first got started in WoW, I embraced the RPG part of MMORPG a little more fully. I’d log out in the inn, sitting in a chair or laying down on a lounge or bed, just as if my character were real. But that was the extent of my desire for player housing. Over the years, I’ve seen many players advocate for such housing, either personal or for a guild. Personally, I’ve never had a desire for this, but it was obvious that it had some importance to a good portion of the player base
So, Blizzard, in its infinite wisdom, has bestowed us with player housing, which, in its actual form, is so much more than housing. We have Garrisons now. Our own little table for one. Our own town hall, and grounds with various buildings of our choice: stables, barracks, crafting cottages, inns, bunkers, barns, etc. We’re provided with a mine and herb garden that we can use to gather mats even if we don’t have mining or herbing as a profession. Sounds pretty sweet, right?
Well, that depends on who you talk to. Some people feel overwhelmed by their garrisons. Some people love them because it’s their own little town. Some people love them because they can gather materials they wouldn’t normally be able to, or gather in lieu of farming. Some people feel these extra things to be a chore. Some people find them mandatory, some people say you don’t have to do all the things, some people feel like they’re playing the entire game from within their garrison, and some people lament the lack of social interaction involved in garrison life.
Basically, garrisons are an intrinsic part of the new Warlords of Draenor expansion. Once you start the introductory quests into this new land, you’re set on a rigid path that does not end until your garrison is established. Then you’re free to quest as you will. Your basic garrison allows you to set up a few buildings, and as you level, you can add onto the number of buildings you possess. Herb gardens and mines are automatically given and provide crafting materials that can be harvested daily. Crafting buildings allow for the production of materials through “work orders”, where you provide the raw materials and over a set period of time, it becomes a specialized material that can be used in crafting. Lower level craft buildings allow up to 7 work orders, higher levels can command a few dozen. However, each piece is produced at a set rate of time, regardless of number. “Followers” can be recruited to populate your garrisons and go on “missions” to level themselves, get armor upgrades for themselves (and sometimes you), earn garrison resources, and even gold. Garrison resources are another harvestable currency that’s accrued over time, and are used to purchase building upgrades and items.
I can see the obvious pros: garrison resources are earned without doing anything, certain building types reward players with items such as mounts, transmog gear, feasts for buff foods, even conquest and honor points toward PvP gear. Yes, you can herb and mine even if you don’t have herbing and mining as a profession. You can gather as many herbs and ore on a level 3 building as you could spending an hour or more out in the world, farming. More so because there is no flight in Draenor. Follower missions can, once the followers are leveled to 100 and geared to iLvl 645, reward you with raid-level gear for yourself.
But here’s a con, especially to a player who is forced to be casual due to real life demands: what about the time a garrison takes out of the little play time you have? The time it takes to gather herbs and mine, send followers out on missions, do crafting cooldowns or work order renewals can be quite substantial. More so if you have more than one character in Draenor. If you have only 2 hours of play time per weeknight, if you even get to log on every night, losing 15 minutes or more to “garrison chores” across multiple toons is hard to swallow.
Another con is what garrisons have done to many professions, and the worth of materials on the auction house. Most “epic” level Warlords-crafted gear requires special materials that can only be created through daily crafting cooldowns and work orders. The materials are soulbound. There is a vendor in your garrison who will sell them to you for another type of resource, but the cost is exorbitant to buy more than a couple. Despite the fact that your building can handle up to 36 work orders (with all conditions met), you only get one piece of material every 4 hours, not counting what you make yourself with your crafting cooldown. Since most Warlords pieces take at least 100 of whichever material to create, this means 400 hours to make one, if you go by work orders alone. Crafting cooldowns help ameliorate this, but even with those in place, it still takes almost a week or more to create one piece. This is a serious gate to leveling your profession. You can’t just decide you’re going to devote an hour to leveling your professions, it just won’t work that way anymore
Additionally, because of the availability of ore and herbs to non-gathering players, those players who try to earn in-game currency through farming raw materials have really been given the shaft. Values for these materials have plummeted since most players can just access those from their own garrisons and not need to purchase any. Conversely, the prices for items made with precious materials have skyrocketed. 5,000 gold for a weapon enchant. Why? Because it took a week to get the materials to create that enchant because of work order gating and crafting cooldowns. Yet, Blizzard has said they will not be continuing garrisons in future expansions. So leaving gathering professions to pick up those that are more lucrative now would probably be a waste of time in the long run
And let’s not forget the social aspect, or lack thereof, surrounding garrisons. You’re in there, by yourself, just you and the NPCs. Your garrison isn’t adjacent to any major city where you can just jog on in. You’re stuck in the middle of nowhere, in Shadowmoon Valley. You have to go to Ashran to see any sign that other players do, in fact, play this game. From there, you can catch a portal to a few select Capitol Cities. Yes, you can invite someone to come visit, but your garrison still remains the loneliest city. And, I haven’t even touched on the time it takes to gather followers, level them through missions, and gather armor tokens for them to raise their iLvl.
In my opinion, Blizzard would have been much better served if the garrison concept had been made a guild perk. This way, it would be something that all in guild could contribute to, eventually opening up all the buildings and professions. It would have allowed social interaction amongst a guild in its own little space. And, preferably, that space would have allowed quick access to a capitol city. 
Furthermore, crafting would have been much better off without being tied to our garrisons. This would have allowed players to genuinely treat garrisons as “optional” content. Someone told me that I didn’t have to do “all the things” in my garrison. True enough, I have given up on mining herbs and ore on a daily basis. But where I’m still forced to interact with my garrison is work orders for my crafts. In an attempt to level the playing field for everyone due to a perceived unfairness that people sold materials for too much money, or people leveling professions faster than others because they had the gold to just buy mats, Blizzard has created a barrier to those who earned their in-game currency in these methods. These people used to put time and effort into farming materials that the rest of us were too lazy to get, and we were glad to pay the price. Now, those people have been downsized by the glut of materials. It interferes with how the market for materials and crafted goods work, unnecessarily so.
Someone recently said that they thought the most valuable currency in Warlords of Draenor was time. Time to farm garrisons, time to earn apexis crystals, etc. When all indications are that MMORPG players are an aging group, that more of our lives are devoted to real life, and especially when Blizzard has spent enormous amounts of time “simplifying” (or, in my opinion, dumbing down) how we do everything else, garrisons were a complication that just weren’t right for the game. If you enjoy yours, or moreover, if you have the time for it, more power to you. But for many of us, the novelty is gone.

Save the (Guild) Drama Fo’ Yo’ Mama!

Ah, the happy camaraderie of being in a guild with like-minded people! The joy of gaming and grouping with people you genuinely like to be around! It’s such an amazing feeling, one that makes you want to log on just to be with your friends, even if you don’t feel like actually playing the game very much. But then something happens: drama. It might start with something said in gchat. Maybe it’s an officer who’s being heavy handed. The prima-donna who thinks they’re more “leet” than the guild. The list and variety of guild drama, and what causes it, are endless.

I’ve been in several guilds over the past 8 1/2 years, and I’ve seen some incredible things. One guildie used her friend to help her fake her own death. They knowingly let us be grief-stricken for about a week before she came back. Or not one, but two guilds I was in were run by couples in a committed relationship… until the relationship became not so committed. That was fun after the break-up, waiting in Ventrilo on raid night for “him” to show up, while “she” bad mouthed him and wondered who he was with that was making him late. Talk about awkward! Or the guilds where cliques form and only the “in crowd” talks to each other in gchat or forms groups, leaving others feel ignored or unwanted. Or the guild coup: where a group of people decide they don’t like the leaders anymore and either leave, taking a large number of guildies with them, or argue/pick on the leaders incessantly until the leaders decide they’re moving on. This behavior is destructive to guilds and to the morale of guild members, and despite good friendships, many will leave to avoid the drama.

If you find yourself in a nice, drama-free guild, regardless of size, here are some things to help keep it drama-free.

1. Read the rules on the guild membership forums, if there are any. If there aren’t, ask an officer or the GM what guidelines for behavior are expected within the guild. Don’t assume because you see people acting a certain way in guild chat that you know how things are supposed to go. People might be behaving improperly because they think there’s not an officer on to see what’s happening. You don’t have to contribute to that, because other people might be online who, just because they’re not speaking, are unhappy with what’s being said or done.

2. Don’t take it upon yourself to be the “guild police”. Are you an officer? No? Calling out someone in gchat about language, topic, or behavior could just start more drama. If you are so distressed about what’s happening, whisper to an officer. If no officer is present, you could try to whisper the person who is upsetting you, but be diplomatic, explain what is wrong, state your piece, and be done. Avoid starting an argument. If the person remains difficult, make note and talk to an officer as soon as one is present. Screenshot any behavior that you find particularly offensive.

3. One person’s definition of “guild-mate” is different from another’s. For example, some people feel that they cannot, in good faith, charge guildies for items, enchants, etc. Others don’t feel the need to be that selfless. Unless something is stated in the rules, no one is obligated to provide freebies for guild-mates. Just because that’s a standard you might hold yourself to, doesn’t mean that it’s a standard everyone must uphold. That’s on you, and you alone.

4. If a guild-mate is so out of hand that you cannot stand to read what they say, and you feel you must put them on ignore, then do so without making a public statement about it. If you want to whisper an officer about it, that’s fine. But the broadcast, “Well, I hate putting a guild-mate on ignore, but So-and-so is on my list now,” is unnecessary drama. The whole guild doesn’t need to hear about your ignore list, or your self-important comment. Same goes with a gquit. You might want to whisper a few people to say goodbyes, or let an officer know behind the scenes. But the dramatic exit announcement is unnecessary.

5. Unless you know that it’s ok otherwise, keep guild chat the way you would behave at work. Avoid hot button issues, such as politics and religion. Even sports talk can be fraught with danger unless guildies know how to keep partisanship and temper in check. The best rule of thumb is, if you wouldn’t say it at work, don’t say it in gchat until you are comfortable with the situation and know your audience.

6. Don’t turn your guild into your own personal dating pool or need for attention. You know the types. Guys who hit on all the girls. Or, girls who are experiencing their first taste of the attention they get from all the gamer guys that they say provocative things to keep that attention going. Guilds are meant for friendship, camaraderie, and gameplay. Not And if someone, anyone, asks you to stop flirting with or hitting on them, do so immediately, officer or not. No guildie should be made uncomfortable by explicit talk of a sexual nature, or unwanted advances, Again, if you wouldn’t do it at work, don’t do it in guild.

7. Interpersonal relationships within guilds can be cute when things are going well. They’re not so cute when things are going poorly. Please keep your couple-hood drama out of general guild conversation or gchat. It’s nobody’s business but your own, and you can bet that aside from being nosey, no one wants to hear about it.

8. If you are unhappy with guild leadership, please discuss what issues you’re having with officers, up to the GM if necessary. Staging an insurrection in gchat is not the way to handle things, even if you’re trying to garner support. Keep in mind that there may be members who are perfectly content and who might worry that their happy home is fractured. If you find a guild situation unbearable, just leave, quietly, without drama. Get battle tags of friends you want to keep in touch with so you don’t have to worry about losing touch when you join or form a new guild.

9. If you feel the level of gameplay by your guildies in a group or raid setting is not up to par with your own, there is no need to say so in gchat. No need to link meters, or publicly pine that there’s no progressions because “some people” are not playing well and holding the team back. That might be as much of a team that guild has to offer. Help them if you can, and if your desires are for a more “‘leet” gaming experience that they seem incapable of achieving, find a new guild that suits your needs. Again, leave quietly. There’s no need to make others feel bad. They’re probably doing the best they can.

10. Be careful how you characterize your guild on social media such as Facebook or Twitter if many of your guild-mates are connected there. Don’t tweet about how much better you are than the rest of your guild because they called your class OP and you’re always top dps. Don’t comment about what you hate about the rules, or the officers, or the lack of things to do. Don’t assume that your guildies will never see it. They often do. Social media drama turns into guild drama, and vice versa.

11. Officers, don’t be tyrants. Rules are rules, but be even and consistent with how you enforce them. No favoritism for friends. Responses should be in whispers unless it’s something that needs to be broadcast in gchat, which is very rare and should be done in a general nature, not calling anyone out specifically. Humiliating guildies publicly is never cool. Being an officer comes with some responsibility to not just the guild, but the very real people within it.

12. Remember, screenshots are forever. Watch what you say and do under a guild tag. Even if you think no one can see, it can still come back and bite you in the ass. Same goes for social media, forum posts, and emails. If it’s something you don’t want getting back to another person, don’t put it in writing.

The WoW “10 Years::10 Questions” Project: My Answers

Many of you in the World of Warcraft (WoW) community have, by now, seen Alt:ernative Chat’s post for her 10 Years::10 Questions project in preparation for WoW’s 10th Anniversary in November. I’m excited to be able to contribute toward this project, as WoW has been and will continue to be an important part of my life. So, without fanfare, I give you the questions, and my answers.

The Questions:

1. Why did you start playing Warcraft?
2. What was the first ever character you rolled?
3. Which factors determined your faction choice in game?
4. What has been your most memorable moment in Warcraft and why?
5. What is your favourite aspect of the game and has this always been the case?
6. Do you have an area in game that you always return to?
7. How long have you /played and has that been continuous?
8. Admit it: do you read quest text or not?
9. Are there any regrets from your time in game?
10. What effect has Warcraft had on your life outside gaming?

The Answers:

1. Why Did You Start Playing World of Warcraft?

I had heard of World of Warcraft for a year or so before I actually started playing. At that point, I was still looking for ways to network for career purposes, and I read an article in a business magazine about people using WoW as a means to network with like-minded people and open doors for possible job opportunities. Plus, I had purchased a new gaming PC and was looking for more titles to play. Sounded great to me! So I started the free trial in July of 2006.

2. What was the first ever character you rolled?

Once WoW was installed on my computer, I watched the opening cinematic. I saw a beautiful elf-like creature transform into a cat and run through the trees. I knew that’s what I wanted to be! I logged onto the suggested server, and when through character creation. There I saw the race and class of the girl in the cinematic: Night Elf, Druid. But what to name her? My childhood nickname, of course. And thus, Lilu, Night Elf Druid, was born on Anvilmar-US. There have been many server transfers and a name change over the years. She’s now Lilulicious in the <Convert to Raid> guild on Aerie Peak-US.


Sergeant Lilu


3.  Which factors determined your faction choice in game?

I felt that the Horde races were ugly (this was Vanilla, after all) and that they were the “bad guys” anyway. Plus, in doing a little pre-game research, I noticed that many Horde players somehow felt cooler because they were “outcasts”. I really wasn’t interested in the whole “being bad to be cool” thing. I’d had one brush with the law as a teenager, being “bad” was no longer of interest. So, I chose Alliance.

4. What has been your most memorable moment in Warcraft, and why?

Without a doubt, it was downing the Lich King in 10 man normal mode. I had raided since the Burning Crusade expansion in a 25 man progression raiding guild: Black Temple, Serpentshrine Caverns, Hyjal. I switched guilds for the Wrath of the Lich King expansion into a 25 man raiding guild that was more my style, not so elitist. Unfortunately, the guild was run by a husband/wife team which split up just as we were getting deep into the Icecrown Citadel raid encounter, and the guild dissolved. Fortunately, myself and 9 others formed a 10 man group and resolved to finish what we started. And on July 20, 2010, the Lich King fell at our hands.


Liberated Guild of Hyjal-US kills the Lich King


5. What is your favourite aspect of the game, and has this always been the case?

I thoroughly enjoy end-game content and raiding. I reached level 60 only a few days before the BC expansion, so any Vanilla raiding was done after the fact. But in BC, I discovered the adrenaline-fueled thrill ride of 25 man raiding. Not 10 man, but 25s. I enjoy the teamwork, the strategies, and the perseverance required to bring down a serious raid boss. As of late, my time commitments don’t allow me to raid much outside of doing LFR on-demand when time allows. But I still find that to be the content I consistently work towards at every expansion now.

6. Do you have an area in-game that you always return to?

Yes! Teldrassil and Ashenvale are my favorite zones to return to when I’m feeling nostalgic. I spent a lot of time there as I leveled my original character, Lilu. Perhaps more than typical because I was such a noob. I didn’t know about Wowhead, or add-ons like Quest Helper. I wandered throughout those zones seemingly forever (it took me moths and months to hit 60). But I was entranced by the beauty of the zones and the music there. It was truly a magical time. So, occasionally, I return to try to recapture those fond memories of when the World of Warcraft was new (to me).

7. How long have you /played, and has that been continuous?

I’ve been playing since July, 2006. I have never let my subscription lapse. I have taken a couple breaks. One was during the Cataclysm expansion, right when Dragonsoul came out. I was burned out from raiding, and my current guild had become a pit of drama thanks to yet another couple leading it that was undergoing a nasty break-up. I would log on from time to time to make sure I hadn’t been hacked, but I probably stayed away from actually playing the game for a good six months. I took another brief break during this current content lull, post-Pandaria, earlier this year for a couple months. I’ve now returned to leveling a few alts to 90 in preparation for the Warlords of Draenor expansion. My total /played time is about a year and a half, roughly, spread between 19 characters over 8 years.

8. Admit it: do you read quest text or not?

Not. Nor do I pay attention to the lore. To me, fake lore made up to suit a game doesn’t hold up as well as fake lore that was written before and upon which a game is based. If that makes any sense.

9. Are there any regrets from your time in game?

Yes, I do have a few regrets. I sometimes lose confidence in myself and abilities that I often won’t try to get into a progression raid team anymore. I regret not finishing Dragonsoul at level. I’m hoping to finish Siege of Orgrimmar on flex or normal (non-LFR) difficulty to get a shot at the mount, but I’m not sure that’s going to happen in time. 

10. What effect has Warcraft had on your life outside gaming?

Playing WoW has had one profound effect on my life: I was able to save enough money to put down on a house, which I did four years ago. I used to spend my money at bars, at the movies, at the mall, because I was bored. When I started WoW, I was locked firmly in the grips of obsession with the game. I stopped wasting money on stupid stuff to keep me occupied, and the money began to pool up in my savings account. Before long, I had enough to make a small down payment on a house, and now I’m a homeowner because of WoW.

Additionally, I have several real life friends (and one real life boyfriend) that I would not have made without WoW. Some are friends I actually visit with from time to time. Others are friends online only, but friends nevertheless. So many WoW players exhibit so much wit and vivacity that they add a lot of joy to my life. And my boyfriend… Well, that goes without saying.

WoW has meant a lot to me over the past several years, and I feel certain I’ll keep playing until the last server shuts down, even if it’s more of a hobby now than a hardcore obsession. I’m grateful for what it’s given me, and what it’s taught me about gaming, people, and relationships. Congratulations to Blizzard for World of Warcraft’s 10th Anniversary, and thank you, Alt:ernative Chat for inviting us to participate in the 10 Years::10 Questions project. I am open to any further questions, podcast participation, whatever you need, dear Mistress.

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