Why World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor’s garrisons aren’t for guilds

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Warlords of Draenor’s most visible feature since uncloaking at BlizzCon has been its garrisons – not only thanks to the articles that’ve been written on the subject, but also their sheer physical size.

“In standard player housing models, you decorate your living room and you place a couch and a table,” explained lead encounter designer Ion Hazzikostas. “Well, this is Warcraft – you make a base, you don’t make a house.”

Despite their dock-off design, though, guilds shouldn’t expect their garrisons to house all of their friends. The WoW dev team made a conscious choice to hand the deeds to solo players instead.

“That was one of our earliest discussions,” said game director Tom Chilton in a WoW Source interview. “Is this an individual thing or is it a guild thing? And we really very deliberately drove it towards being mostly an individual thing – although we are being very conscious to integrate multiplayer components.”

Blizzard worried that guild leaders and senior members would “take ownership” of garrisons and “pretty much hog all the fun”.

“You’d have the guild master having a great time playing master of the kingdom for the garrison, and everybody else would just show up on occasion and say, ‘Oh, what does our base look like? That’s nice’,” said Chilton. “But the level of personal enjoyment and interaction that you as an individual player get out of the system would probably be pretty small.”

For that reason, the dev team decided to build a garrison system for one before integrating its multiplayer components. But they haven’t ruled out the possibility of guild bases in the swirling vaguery of The Future.

“Eventually over time I can see it growing into a guild thing,” concluded Chilton. “But if that foundation is individual, then I feel like the gameplay will be there for everyone and it won’t just be the kind of thing that’s there for the guild master. As much as the guild master might want that.”

Blizzard have made the garrisons accessible to all, by taking the unprecedented step of providing a free level 90 character with every purchase of the new expansion. I’m very excited about that. Are you?