Garrison Preview Part 1—Your Base on Draenor

At BlizzCon 2013, we shared a lot of our ideas for Warlords of Draenor’s Garrisons. We knew early on in development that this feature would strike a chord with long-time Warcraft players going back to the RTS days, as well as set the tone for the conflict with the Iron Horde. Since BlizzCon, we’ve been experimenting and iterating on Garrison concepts in our design laboratories, and we wanted to give you an updated preview of what’s to come.

In this 4-part series, we’ll be giving you a much closer look at how Garrisons are shaping up and how you can expect to interact with them in Warlords of Draenor. For this first installment, we’re going to start off by painting a picture of Garrisons in relatively broad strokes, setting the stage to delve into the functional depth over the coming weeks in parts 2 through 4.

Establish Your Garrison While You Level

We want the process of staking your claim on Draenor to fundamentally shape your gameplay experience. Over the course of building your Garrison, we want you to face exciting decisions that will meaningfully impact how you interact with the world around you, fulfilling that fantasy of building and operating your own Warcraft base.

The story you weave in Draenor is one of personal heroism, but your actions have a wider impact—part of your mission is to raise an army capable of toppling the Iron Horde, and the Garrison is integral to that experience. In terms of gameplay, that means you’ll be creating and strengthening your Garrison as you journey to level 100. While questing through Draenor, you’ll encounter opportunities to choose between different types of buildings to add to your Garrison. Each choice will have an impact on your leveling experience, influencing the quests you’ll have available and the zone-specific benefits you’ll unlock upon completion of your chosen structure.

As an example, you can choose either the Lumber Mill or the Sparring Arena while questing in Gorgrond. Not only does this choice unlock the design blueprints that allow you to add the building to your Garrison, it also lets you construct a military outpost centered around that building in Gorgrond. This plays an integral role in how you experience the zone, as you’ll be sent on quests specific to the building you’ve chosen and will receive a permanent benefit whenever you’re in Gorgrond. 

When you’ve completed constructing a building in a zone—and subsequently unlocked it for your Garrison—we want you to feel duly rewarded for helping to strengthen the forces in the area against the Iron Horde. To give you more of a feeling for the ideas we have for zone benefits, imagine summoning a brutish ogre bodyguard from your Sparring Arena when in Gorgrond, or calling down artillery strikes from your Armory while in Talador. Our goal is for each zone to offer equally compelling alternatives from which to choose, and to provide you with plenty of powerful creatures to vanquish with your newfound powers.

Enlist Followers to Join Your Garrison

Your Garrison wouldn’t be much of a base without some citizens to populate it—we call these brave souls Followers. You’ll be able to recruit Followers through a wide variety of methods—you can think of it sort of like collecting mounts or battle pets. And, like battle pets, different Followers will have varying skill sets, including their own strengths and weaknesses. Some Followers are unique and might even have names already familiar to you, while others will make for fine grunts to operate the saws of your Lumber Mill, brew potions in your Alchemy Lab, or craft magical components in your Enchanter’s Study. You can maximize the productivity of your Garrison by assigning specific Followers to the posts where which they’re most proficient, such as Johnny Blacksmith, who will increase the output of materials from—you guessed it—your Blacksmith when assigned to work it. Similarly, Followers more suited to combat would be ideal to send on missions, from which you can acquire an assortment of useful bounty.

Missions will have variable difficulties, durations, and group size requirements, and some will play better to the strengths of particular Followers over others. A wise commander will create the ideal team for a mission and send them off to reap the maximum rewards. Complete enough missions and your Followers will level up, and once they’ve reached level 100, they can continue to improve their item levels, abilities, and traits. After you’ve sent a group on a mission, progress will continue whether you’re hanging out in your Garrison, battling through Blackrock Foundry, or even sleeping soundly logged out of the game.

The buildings you create, NPCs you meet, and Followers you recruit will ultimately determine who inhabits your Garrison, and you’ll see them going about their business each time you visit. You’re in charge of your own base and citizens, and you’ll even host leaders and other notable heroes from your faction to talk war strategy—among other things.

We’ve also improved NPC AI (artificial intelligence) to further reinforce that “bustling town” feeling as you expand your Garrison. While Azeroth’s NPCs have traditionally been manually scripted to move along set paths for predetermined amounts of time, stopping at certain locations and then heading in new directions only as commanded, this behavior wouldn’t have sufficed for Followers. A particular Follower might need to know on which plot within your Garrison you’ve built your Trading Post, for example, so he or she can make the trek to and from that specific location while doing your bidding. This improved AI also allows us to create more dynamic behavior, where NPCs can react to your commands or other situations happening around them. Want to have your subjects join you in a conga line around town? Thanks to improved AI and a new player emote, you can . . . and they will!

Fortify Your Fortress

Questing during the leveling process on Draenor will be the primary means by which you establish and grow your base, but the blueprints that allow you to construct different buildings can be obtained in a variety of ways. For example, you can find Followers who will teach you blueprints, obtain them via drops from creatures out in the world or in dungeons, or earn them via faction reputation. At level 100, you can also purchase blueprints from a vendor for the buildings from each zone you originally didn’t choose. So, if you decide to build a Mage Tower instead of an Armory in Talador, you’ll still be able to purchase the blueprints that allow you to build an Armory in your Garrison later on. From there you may decide you want an Armory instead of a Mage Tower in your Garrison—or maybe you’ll find room for both!

You’ll have access to 21 unique building types in all, each of which can be upgraded through 3 levels and then assigned specializations to maximize their effectiveness, and your Garrison can be expanded from its initial 4 building plots to a maximum of 10. If this sounds like too many big choices to make as you go along, don’t fret! You’ll be able to alter your building choices to suit your needs—and the needs of the war effort.

The Garrison also grants you other powerful benefits. It will play an integral role in your professions on Draenor, giving your character access to more than just the normal two primary professions (we’ll cover that in more depth in part 2 of this preview series). In addition, amassing a powerful army of Followers will maximize your chances of earning mission rewards like dungeon and entry-level raid loot for your character—but these will be tuned to feel more like bonuses rather than eclipsing your character’s direct accomplishments. We want there to be a ton of depth to the gameplay and customization of the Garrison, but we also don’t want to make players feel like they’re required to spend more time than they’d like laboring away on it after they’ve reached level 100. We recognize that there’s a fine line between introducing a system that provides cool bonuses and adding “chores” that feel necessary for cutting-edge endgame progression. To this end, players who prefer to level up mostly through dungeons or Battlegrounds will still be able to purchase the building blueprints that would otherwise be obtained through questing on Draenor.

The Last Line of Defense

Draenor is a savage and dangerous land. From the moment you set foot onto its soil, you will be hounded at every turn by the united clans of the Iron Horde. With few allies at your side, establishing a well-defended base will be one of the first orders of business. As the story unfolds, you’ll find that Garrisons are intimately integrated into every zone—whether you choose to follow the main quest path or just head off into the hills to explore, you will meet allies (and enemies) in every corner of the world. While your main fortress will always be in Shadowmoon Valley (Alliance) or Frostfire Ridge (Horde), you will establish Garrison outposts in Gorgrond, Talador, Nagrand, and Spires of Arak, all customized based on your building choices. Eventually, your forces will span the continent, and you will have an army capable of assaulting the fortified Iron Horde Foundry. Will your troops succeed? That’s entirely up to you, commander.

More to Come!

Thank you for joining us on this quick tour of your Garrison, and we hope you’ll come back for the rest—we’ve only just scratched the surface of this exciting new feature. In Part 2, we’ll take a much closer look at the buildings, including all 21 unique building types and their perks and specializations, as well as how professions are integrated. Stay tuned!

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