I’m continuing my journey into the depths of the Warlords Alpha which has now morphed into the Beta – at least that is what my application client tells me. While in the Alpha phase of the development I was able to create a Horde Shaman and explored the initial phase of garrison building. But a passing comment in a blue post today stopped me in my tracks:
If this is true, then the merging of faction Auction Houses will have a large impact on the wow economy. Traditionally, each faction’s Auction House trade independent of each other, creating, in effect, two separate economies on the same server.
Now, for those new to the wow gold economy you may be thinking to yourself: so what? But as Auction House goblins know all too well the size an Auction House matters and in-balances between populations of factions on the same server can greatly skew the pricing across a whole range mats and items that are commonly traded.
Remembering that the current Warlords development is only just out of the alpha phase, I decided to log in and conduct a little test for myself to see if in fact the Auction Houses were indeed ‘unified’.
So, I created a Horde character called Maakin and placed him in Orgrimmar. I had already created a human Mage – Zan – and placed him in Stormwind. I then placed a simple mat (small glimmering shard) on the Horde Auction House and attached a silly price of 11,000g to it:
I then logged off and logged on to my Alliance character and searched for my character’s Maakin’s trade:
An sure enough it was there on the Alliance Auction House!
But, what of the neutral Auction Houses run by those irascible goblins? I headed down to Booty Bay and checked it out:
Yep, there is was. So, the Blue Post would seem to hold true. All auction Houses have been merged!
For many new players, this won’t be a big deal. For those that have been playing the Auction House for a little while and have accumulated pricing data in an addon, they may see large swings in prices when the expansion breaks until the various markets stabilise. Of course, the biggest shock will be to those Horde players used to trading in small population Auction Houses. For those that have mastered the art of trading, this initial surge in activity will seem like a ripple upon the sea of the wow gold economy; for others, it will seem like a tsunami.
So, those nice folks at Blizzard sent me an invitation to try out the Warlords of Draenor Alpha, and despite saying I wouldn’t want to ruin my first experience of the new expansion before it was released, I couldn’t help but dip my toe into the cold snows of Frostfire Ridge.
My aim, here, is to give folks a flavour of the new world that is Draenor – bearing in mind that this is still only an alpha release and anything could change before we even reach the beta stage of development. I was also curious to see how Blizzard have implemented the early stages of Garrisons, given my earlier reservations about the concept. So with this in mind, here are my first impressions.
Now if you’re lucky enough to get an invitation to the alpha, bear in mind that the client download is around 23 Gigabytes – unlucky if your Internet service provider throttles you back or if the family are in the middle of their favourite Netflix movie! The other thing to note is that Frostfire Ridge is the first zone in the alpha, so if you want to create an Alliance template character then it won’t work – hence I’m uncharacteristically playing Horde!
The first thing that struck me when I materialised in the new zone is how nice the new character models looked. I chose a Horde Shaman – I know, I never play Horde or have played a Shaman – but I was kind of impressed with the look of the model. Combat would turn out to be a whole new ball-game for me!
Without spoiling too much of the plot your first job is to plant the Horde flag in the new territory which begins a series of short of quests to build your Garrison. To build your Garrison you first need one of these:
Gazlowe, here, acts as the main quest source for building your Garrison. Supply him with a few materials and WHAM! It’s done.
No, literally. There was supposed to be a short cinematic – this is only the alpha – but I was expecting a little more progression in the building phase. But no, you have the start of your Garrison which in effect turns out to be like any other Horde camp, complete with flight path and mailbox. To progress the build phase, you must supply Gazlowe with a set amount of lumber – which in this phase acts as a form of currency.
So how do I obtain this lumber currency? Well, I must search out material across Frostfire Ridge and complete a number of quests, all of which reward me with lumber. Once I have the required amount of currency I can return to my Garrison for the next phase of the build. Not what I was expecting, but then it’s early day in the Warlords development phase and many things may change.
As I explore more of the alpha I’ll provide you with an update on my travels through Frostfire Ridge and the next phase of my Garrison build.
I’ve been playing World of Warcraft for many years now and with every new expansion I get a little nervous. Will Blizzard nerf any of my favourite items; will familiar content simply disappear; will they break the Auction House? With every expansion I have the same concerns and the Warlords of Draenor expansion is no exception.
Now I’m not really such a nervous Nelly and I appreciate that a MMO as venerable as Warcraft must evolve. Existing players expect new content while players new to the game expect features found in more recent upstarts.
And change isn’t such a bad thing.
The Burning Crusade and Jewelcrafting
With the introduction of the Burning Crusade Blizzard provided us with a portal to another world in which we could eventually fly. This was a great improvement to the game, but brought with it the problem of keeping some quests a challenge. It certainly made gathering easier, but didn’t greatly affect the the WoW gold economy as much as I thought it would. However, Blizzard did give the economy a shot in the arm with the introduction of the Jewelcrafting profession to the joy of many a gold maker.
Wraith of the Lich King and Inscription
Then there was Wraith of the Lich King which gave us a whole new continent to explore, including the floating Mage city of Dalaran. My favourite addition was the Death Knight, complete with companion ghoul. We were also introduced to a PvP zone on a PvE server in the form of Wintergrasp. Blizzard added a little zing to the economy with the addition of the Inscription profession which added a whole new dimension to making gold in Warcraft.
Cataclysm Broke the Mould
With Cataclysm Blizzard broke the mould – literally by breaking continents. We could finally use our flying mounts in Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms. Again, players had a vast new world to explore in the form of Vashj’ir,Deepholm,Uldum and the Twilight Highlands. However, when it came to the professions Blizzard gave us the secondary profession of Archaeology which didn’t do much for the Warcraft economy.
Mists of Pandaria gave us Noodle Carts
Which brings us to the Mists of Pandaria expansion, which is probably my favourite. Again, Blizzard created a whole new continent to explore with some breathtaking vistas. Not only were we introduced to new races, but Blizzard created a mini game in the form of Pet Battles. Blizzard also tinkered away with the professions by greatly expanding Cooking and added a Tiller’s farm to compliment the demand for new ingredients.
So what makes me nervous about Warlords?
Enslaved to a Garrison
In a nutshell it’s the garrison. At the heart of Warcraft is its ever expanding universe which we, as the adventurers, set out to explore. It’s at the core of the game and has it’s roots in the likes of Dungeons and Dragons. A group of adventurers come together with a common goal and set out on a journey in a strange and wondrous land to complete their quest. It’s the shared experience of the journey that shapes and defines the characters that participate in the quest. Think of Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit; Frodo in Lord of the Rings.
So, Blizzard, why turn my hero into a stay-at-home garrison builder?
Did Sam Gamgee say to Frodo ‘Sorry, mate. You go to the Black Gate, I’ll tend to the farm’? I don’t think so. They left the farm behind them and set off down the road together for an adventure! Now Blizzard has indicated that we are to be tied to a garrison. A slave to the farm.
And look how well that turned out with the Tillers! I don’t know about you, but having levelled all the plots on my farm I rarely go back there. I hate having to hang up my sword for the hoe. In truth, I find the whole Tiller’s farm idea boring and repetitive.
Will Blizzard Break the Professions?
But what really scares me is that they may well tie the Professions to garrison levels. Will I have to first build an Alchemy Lab in my garrison to level Alchemy? Will I have to construct a Mage Tower before I can craft Living Steel? If I build a Mine will I ever need to gather Ore again or will I simply assign a ‘follower’ to mine all the Ore for me? Again, I’m tied to levelling my garrison. It reminds me a bit of the game ‘Boom Beach’ by Supercell. The garrison idea is a mini game within a game like Pet Battles, but in Warlords I don’t have the option to ignore it.
Now, I’ve always said that the Professions are the power house of the Warcraft economy. With each new expansion the professions have been added to, tinkered with, but not broken. My fear is that with Warlords, Blizzard may inadvertently put a spanner in the economy by reducing the need for many of the Professions. I’m thinking of Inscription, here. Blizzard has indicated that in Warlords, some of the Major Glyphs will be learned by characters as they level and these recipes will be removed.
Closing the Auction House?
And what of the Auction House? Well, much of the trade that takes place on the Auction House revolves around the supply and demand of items required or crafted by the professions. Take Alchemy, for example. So far this is the only profession that can create Living Steel which is required by both Engineers and Blacksmiths for their crafting. This is the supply and demand that drives players to the Auction House and fuels the Warcraft economy. But if garrisons allow access to the professions that your character hasn’t mastered, why bother visiting the Auction House?
Now, with every new expansion there will always be change and Warlords promises some major upheavals. I’m confident that, given the amount of skin many of the Blizzard developers have in the game, they won’t intentionally break the economy, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Am I being a nervous Nelly? Let me know what you think. Visit my Facebook Page and drop me a comment.
The professions are the powerhouse of the wow gold economy, which is why many gold makers try to level an army of alts, each with a set of maxed-out professions. This way, they can exploit all the cool-downs in the game and shuffle material from one alt to another. Now with the pending release of the new expansion – Warlords of Draenor – this may well change in favor of developing Garrisons and an army of Followers.
Established gold makers often try to level several alts so that they can level multiple professions – more than the two professions allowed on any given character. Some gold makers like to have two alchemist or two leather workers, for example, so that they can exploit the daily cool-downs for that particular profession; other makers of gold like to level complimentary professions (my preference) to exploit what some in the gold making community call the ‘shuffle’.
The Shuffle is an established gold making techniques where players move material from one alt to another adding value to the material by crafting or transformation. So, for example, you might buy cheap Ghost Iron Ore from the Auction House and send this to your Miner (assuming your Banker isn’t a Miner). Your Miner converts this to more valuable Ghost Iron Bars; these are passed to your Alchemist who transmutes them to more valuable Trillium Bars and maybe converts them one stage further to Living Steel if the price makes sense to do so.
There are many different gold making shuffles, but the point is you need to max-out multiple complimentary professions, which normally means leveling an alt to at least level 85. This will raise to level 95 in the Warlords of Draenor expansion when the level cap is raised to 100.
Now, with the arrival of Garrisons and Followers, this might change. In Warlords of Draenor, players will be able to expand their structures to include:
So far, there is very little detail on the format of these professions, whether they will follow the exact nature of regular profession, but various blue posts and press releases indicate that they may do so.
“When it comes time to upgrade your Garrison, you might choose to build a Barracks to send more followers on missions simultaneously, an Inn to provide new recruits, or an Infirmary to speed up injured followers’ recovery time between assignments. You may instead decide to build a Smithy and recruit a Blacksmith to research new plans and craft valuable resources (such as those with daily cooldowns).”
If you listen to Episode 17 of the JMT Podcast you’ll hear Nev and I discuss whether ‘cooldowns’ would be a feature of the crafting in Garrisons. My take is that it will which begs the question:
‘Do future gold makers need an army of alts or do they build a Garrison?’
For me a Garrison has many advantages over an army of alts. For one thing I’ll be able to recruit Followers who can be set tasks (missions) to gather Ore or maybe – as Nev and I speculated in the podcast – prospect Ore in the Jewelcrafting Shack. Now that would be a great time saver. I’m not sure if this is what Blizzard intended but then they probably never guessed a Mage of Stormwind accumulating several Million in gold either.
I’ll be writing updates of this review as the features and functions of the new expansion arise. If you want to be updated with the latest news and posts then subscribe to Journal Mailing List below.