Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Cruel Garrison

Time for a very quick update on what I've been up to in World of Warcraft. Dithering, mostly. My monthly subscription falls due in five days and I haven't yet decided whether to cancel. 

I re-subbed back in October with the intention of checking out the Shadowlands pre-patch, the level squish, Chromie Time and the new tutorial zone, Exile's Reach. I did all of those, wrote a bunch of posts about it and generally had a pretty good time. 

The plan had also been to open up access to the Vulpera allied race, make a fox and level that character to the cap but what with one thing and another I ended up levelling a goblin shaman first, all the way from character creation to the pre-Shadowlands level cap of fifty, something I definitely hadn't expected to find myself doing. After that I didn't quite have the determination to push the fox to fifty, mostly because the EverQuest II expansion arrived when she was about ten levels shy.

When Reign of Shadows appeared in early December I didn't stop playing WoW altogether but my hours dropped to a bare minimum. I was still logging in but almost entirely to keep my ricketty garrison working on hexweave bags. 


Even so, that took more time than I expected. I'd imagined it would be like EverQuest's Overseer, just a few clicks on the UI each day, but it seems Blizzard intended something a lot more hands-on. Making bags required me to keep my tailor supplied with sumptuous furs, while upgrading just the few buildings I needed to get the operation up and running cost gold I didn't have. 

I found myself out hunting wolves and cat-people for their fur for an hour or so almost every other day and making repeated forays into old raid instances to make money. For the last two months I've played WoW every day and while I've been there, that's all I've done. 

At first it was fun. Then it became a habit. Now it's starting to feel like a chore. I guess it's the WoD experience in microcosm. And I'm beginning to realize it's also all been a bit... pointless.

First I noticed that hexweave bags can reliably be bought for between 250g and 300g on my server. Using my garrison I can make a bag every other day or so for free but I can make enough gold to buy three or four bags in just the time it would take me to gather the fur. 

It's more satisfying to make them, in theory, but that satisfaction wears off after the first half-dozen or so. I'm at the point now where I feel I might as well just do a bunch of old raids once a week and buy my bags.


More significantly, I realized eventually that having an Alliance character with a garrison isn't going to help my Horde characters with their inventory issues. Blizzard take their faction split a lot more seriously than most other developers. Since one of the main reasons I was doing this in the first place was to put thirty slot bags on my Vulpera hunter I clearly didn't think it through.

Of course, I have Horde characters who could build garrisons of their own. And that sounded like a fairly attractive option until I realized something else. Garrisons are unique to the character that quests for them, not the account or even the faction on that account. 

Since my end-game here is to be capable of supplying big bags on demand to any new characters I make and play under the free-to-play rules after I cancel my subscription, what I should have done was send one Alliance and one Horde character, under level twenty, to start a garrison and then be very careful not to let them level too far to be able to keep using it. 

I'd already confirmed on my other free account that you don't need to subscribe to have a garrison and that under the new levelling rules you can get the quest at level ten. Today I spent half an hour getting my level fifteen druid from Stormwind to Shadowmoon Valley just to make absolutely sure she couldn't use the garrison I already had. I've found that no matter what online guides tell you about WoW you never really know for sure until you test it in game.


This time I could have saved myself the swim. She couldn't even see the damn thing. It exists in some other plane of reality, apparently. I spent the next half hour porting back to talk to Chromie then heading back to Shadowmoon to get the necessary quests.

That was just for proof of concept. I'd have to do the same again with a horde character and then I'd have to level up the garrisons and the necessary buildings and keep farming the furs and I'd have to fund all of that with characters in their teens. It makes absolutely no sense and I'm not going to do it.

A better plan might be to use the remaining five days of my sub to make enough gold with my Horde and Alliance level fifty characters to buy enough hexweave bags for everyone. That would be far, far easier and an ideal project for keeping my hands busy while I listen to the second England-Sri Lanka Test Match.

That's sorted then. Grind some gold, buy some bags, cancel the sub, go back to playing for free. Only...

I've been wondering whether I ought to buy Shadowlands. I've read a lot about it and it sounds pretty good for someone who enjoys levelling. I'd probably get a month or two's solid entertainment out of it and it's looking likely I'll be at home for about that long before I get the call to go back to work.

So, I'm dithering, as I said. Shadowlands is tempting but I haven't really finished with Reign of Shadows yet. It would make more sense to concentrate on finishing one expansion before I start on another. 

Or I could just let the sub roll on for another month and decide later. That's how they get you, isn't it? 

Well, it's how they get me, anyway.

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