Hah, no, I'm joking: Warlords of Draenor is pretty rad. I've been playing it a bunch. Here are some thoughts! (Keep in mind I wrote most of this a month or so ago, so some of it might be a bit dated.)
Garrisons: Mostly great! I would've changed a few things here and there, of course. I think buildings are a bit expensive compared to what I would like; considering the difficulty in understanding precisely which buildings will benefit you most, it would've been nice to be able to experiment and build a few and give those a while before going another direction. I guess it's easy enough to switch, but the resource and gold costs can be punitive if you get something up to level three before you decide to go another direction, especially when you’re splitting time between multiple alts, and especially since gold seems to be flowing in at a slightly slower pace than it has in the past.
It’s an interesting iteration of the Panda farms, but the garrisons are good enough at this point to make it interesting to think about how future expansions will incorporate the tech. Farm to garrison to...what? Your own city? Your own airship? It’ll be fun to see how they top this. It feels expansive enough as it is; it’s hard to imagine what the bigger garrisons they’ve hinted at for later in the expansion will look like.
I’m not sure if it’s a drawback or a bonus, but the garrisons feel like they’re almost enough content to get me through a day’s worth of WoW. Between two lvl 100s and a few more 90’s, logging in and doing my missions during a lunch break (this is especially great for old-ass laptops that don’t run dungeons so well), and then spending an hour or so more doing some of the same tasks at home can top off my WoW crackdiction meter before I even think about going to do a garrison daily or a dungeon. With garrison missions that can drop 630 ilvl gear or even better (I just got my first Highmaul mission for a 655 piece), maybe I’ll never have to do a dungeon again! Go forth, my peons, and retrieve my goods for me. I’ll be having a snack in my inn.
Also, the act of finding followers and increasing their level is inherently pleasurable, and that’s coming from someone who never bothered much with pet battles. I would’ve been happier with a bit more randomization of the followers in the field, though; there aren’t quite enough options to make the leveling experience feel all that varied from one alt to the next. But as it is, hunting down Leorajh and Blook and Archmage Vargoth and the other followers that you missed is a good way to kill some time while leveling or when you hit 100.
It’s a bit odd at first to realize that missions will never really fail. I mean, they can fail, but you always get something from them, and never risk any true setbacks. I’m mildly surprised they didn’t put in some kind of penalty system (a failed mission makes those followers inactive for 12 hours, or something like that), but as it stands this is one of my favorite systems they’ve thrown into the game in a long time.
Dungeons: Blizz was pretty clear that they wanted these dungeons to fall somewhere on the difficulty spectrum between Pandaria (cakewalks) and Cataclysm (also cakewalks, but the cakes were made of poison and explosives and beartraps). The Cataclysm dungeons put me off WoW for most of that expansion; it’s one thing to issue a corrective to the general ease of Wrath dungeons by upping the difficulty a bit, but even the Cata normals were punishing enough to be simply unenjoyable, especially in LFG. (Part of this was largely due to CC not being necessary at all in Wrath, which made the learning curve for CC classes a bit too high for what seemed to be most average players to clear.)
The Panda-to-Warlords difficulty swing feels comparable, if not quite as punishing. I’ve gotten through all the normal 100-level dungeons on my tank, with varying successes. Some of the fights are just naturally tricky, with Nitrogg in Grimrail and everyone in Shadowmoon Burial Grounds being on the upper edge of that curve. My first trip to Shadowmoon featured perhaps a dozen wipes or so, spread across the four boss fights; we only managed to kill Gul’dan after I died when he had a few percent of health left, on maybe our fourth attempt. I’m sure it’d be easier now that everyone’s ilvls are a few dozen points higher, but at the time, it was enjoyably rough without feeling super frustrating like Cataclysm dungeons usually did.
Granted, learning any fight for the first time will lead to some flubs, so it’ll be interesting to see if heroics go any more smoothly. I’ve been avoiding them for the most part, despite a 632 ilvl; I mostly play this game to relax and unwind after a long day, and the notion of tanking a heroic largely seems like it’d be an hour-long session of tension and/or rage and/or crying. At least heroics would theoretically have a higher level of play from DPS classes; in plenty of normal dungeons I wind up in the first or second DPS slot despite the removal of Vengeance. I would like that to not be the case anymore.
I still need to dip into LFR, as well, which I hear is at least easier than heroics. Tanking anything is stressful, though, and LFR tanking is especially annoying due to the presence of 20 people who want to proceed at maximum speed despite your need to coordinate with your off-tank, keep an eye on a million different cooldowns and lifereads, not stand in the fire, etc. I dug LFR in Pandaria, but I’ll still probably let everyone else have a couple of weeks of progress to gear up before my dumb ass hops in. Since I wrote this a couple of weeks ago, I guess that means it’s about time to start them up.
Crafting: I’m a bit confused as to how any of the crafting changes were considered to be improvements. I don’t craft all that much; my main (prot pally) is a top-level blacksmith, but after crafting my three allowed epic pieces, I’m not sure what more I’m really supposed to do with it. I keep making my ingots every day, and I guess I could start putting some pieces together for my death knight alt, but beyond that, I’m not entirely sure what my profession is supposed to do for me.
There’s a fair amount of that going around, though, I guess. I’ve leveled my five main characters to 100, 100, 93, 93, and 98 at this point, and I’ve seen a grand total of two items that have had gem slots. I’m guessing that gems and jewels will become more important as people progress through raids, but at the moment, what advantage is there to jewelcrafting?
There’s kind of a basic disconnect between resource gathering and the crafting options that you have, at least in terms of my blacksmith characters; I have thousands upon thousands of pieces of each kind of ore and almost nothing to use it on besides my daily cooldowns. It’s certainly nice to have the ability to make 630 or 640-ilvl stuff and give it to a new alt that I’m leveling (my Death Knight has been rocking a 630ilvl sword since 91 and it’s made the process almost too easy), but it definitely feels like there’s an imbalance between what I gather and what I can make from those materials. I mean, I have multiple stacks of all of the herbs despite not having any herbalists among the classes that I normally play.
One of the wow.joystiq.com bloggers suggested restricting the ability to create epics to one/week and expanding the amount of endgame blue gear you can craft a bit, which feels like it might have been a good compromise earlier in the expansion. We’ll have to see what they do with the content patches. In the meantime, I should probably work on some first aid and cooking, which I haven’t spent much time on. I simply didn’t find many cooking mats while I was leveling, and the marriage of first aid to fishing dims my enthusiasm for leveling it.
Speaking of, the change to fishing where you now catch up fish and then turn those fish into flesh, rather than simply using the fish themselves, seems like a needless complication, not to mention a major hog on bag space if you’re someone like me who mostly fishes when you see schools of fish while questing rather than dedicating time to it. With three different sizes of fish and six or seven different types of fish that can be caught, you’d better be packing some 28-slot bags if you want to fish casually.
Other Junk: I’m not a huge fan of the constant aggrandizing of the player-character; having almost every NPC you come across react in awe at your overwhelming majesty gets a bit old. (There’s an early quest in Stormshield where you have to basically talk a rookie soldier down from the ledge that illustrates this issue particularly well.) I mean, I don’t mind feeling powerful, but the whole notion of your character being THE Commander is a bit of an odd fib when you know that you’re just one of a few dozen million characters that are being played on any given week. I think Wrath of the Lich King did arguably the best job of making you feel like a greatly important part of a war machine focused on heroic deeds; Warlords makes your character out to be almost singularly indispensable, an illusion that falls apart almost as soon as you enter a party with another character. It’s a weird, dissonant tone that frequently winds up bugging me.
Apart from that, though, WoD seems like a really solid expansion, and it’s been fun to see a bunch of people come back to the game. That’s great!