Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
10 minutes, twice a day

Over the years I have been subscribed to various MMORPGs for a long time, but that doesn't necessarily mean that I have played them every day during that subscription period. If you don't have much time, starting up a MMORPG usually doesn't make much sense. These aren't games that usually play well in chunks of 10 minutes, as they are designed to be relatively time-consuming. Warlords of Draenor is a big change in that respect: On a day where I don't have the time to play World of Warcraft, I would still log in for 10 minutes, twice a day.

The reason for that is the garrison sub-game, which is principally based on real time, not play time. You have a garrison cache which slowly accumulates up to 500 garrison resources, at a rate of 1 resource per 10 minutes. You have various building where you can give 7 work orders per level of the building, and each work order takes 4 hours. And you are sending followers on missions which last from 30 minutes to 10 hours. If you don't log on at all for several days, first your followers are all unemployed, then after about 3 and a half days your garrison cache reaches its cap and all the work orders of even level 3 buildings are done. At that point your garrison stops producing anything useful until you log on, send out your followers again, empty your cache, and start new work orders. Oh, and in addition your mine and herb garden spawn resources once per day.

If the reason that you don't have time is that you are working long hours with no access to a gaming computer, which is a likely scenario for an adult, you can still log in once before work and once after work and get pretty much everything set up again in 10 minutes each, shorter if you don't have alts. At this rate your garrison resource production is always at maximum, and by preferring long duration missions even your followers are productive for most of the day.

As I said, MMORPGs are generally designed to be time-consuming. At the level cap you usually need to put in quite some time to achieve some reward that is still useful for you. Compared to that the reward payout of a garrison per hour of play time invested is pretty fantastic. The downside is that by playing more, you can't advance much faster. For example it takes 1,200 resources to upgrade a barracks to level 3. With the garrison cache, lumber mill, and trading post you'll get those resources in around 3 days of just waiting around. But if you decided to get those resources by farming rare spawns, you'll get only around 15 per rare killed, and would pretty much need to kill every rare spawn in the game for one upgrade. Add all the treasures and quests that give resources and you'll have another building upgraded, and have run out of options.

To somebody familiar with city building / village building / farm building games on mobile platforms like The Tribez or Hay Day, that 10 minutes, twice a day mode of gameplay will be very familiar. But then these games don't have a subscription. While I would consider having to wait for hours for progress to be better than having to grind trivial content for hours for progress, the question is nevertheless how good this model works for World of Warcraft. 10 minutes, twice a day, makes 10 hours per month, which at $15 per month seems pricey. So the garrison is unlikely to be the sole reason for anybody to keep on playing. Even if you can get epic gear and other rewards for your character, those rewards aren't doing you any good if you don't play that character. But for a "weekend adventurer" with little time during the work week, the garrison is certainly a big plus.

So the garrison is unlikely to be the sole reason for anybody to keep on playing.

Never underestimate the power of people to rationalize work.

"So the garrison is unlikely to be the sole reason for anybody to keep on playing."

It's Blizzard's version of EVE-Offline, and I would expect it to have similar results.
Funny that you post this literally one day after my wife didn't renew her sub because she was only logging in for the garrison and felt it wasn't worth it. I will probably follow and do the same since she was the main reason I returned to Azeroth. People being jerks in group content was the main reason she gave up on end game which is a shame.
It's another cheap and easy way for Blizz to get a hook in. Like daily quests. Build an interface that looks like it belongs in a free iPad Game, and get everyone feeling wasteful when they don't log in that day.

Garrisons a reason to log in, just like GW2 has their daily reward, games have daily quests and cooldowns and so on.
Their job is to get you into the game on a regular basis. It is not their fault if the features that are the meat of the content fail to keep you involved.
I recently canceled my subscription. Logging in each day to maintain garrisons for 3 characters gets old, fast. Mining and collecting herbs which are used in work orders to create the same items that everyone makes seemed pointless.

The changes to professions with the garrisons killed it for me.
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I'm actually something of a fan of the log in twice a day for 15 minutes on busy days. Most of my play time for the last couple of years has been on weekends and the occasional hour here and there in the evening so WoD has been working very well for me. I have one main, one end game alt and a few other alts scattered around at various levels so I don't really lack things to do.

I'm not squeezing every single thing out of my garrison that I could but I'm getting enough to support how I play and have had good luck at the Auction House with excess herbs and materials. There have been no big scores there but a fairly steady daily drip of AH sales and I'm now in good shape on gold.

The real question that is very difficult to answer is just how many players are there like myself. Blog and forum comments would lead one to think not so many but I'm not so sure that is really true.
The garrison just produces you gold (items you can sell on the AH).

What does someone with no other gameplay do with gold?

PS: the best garrison resource gains come from salvager followers. I had 9K useless resources when I unsubcribed.
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