by Dawn Moore
When Mists of Pandaria was first announced at BlizzCon 2011, the developers stated that players would be able to grow cooking mats and herbs on their very own farm in the next expansion. Immediately, players began to speculate on what exactly the words “your own farm” meant in World of Warcraft. Would we be getting our own version of FarmVille in WoW? Or maybe something more like Harvest Moon? Could this mean player housing? No one knew, and the general shortage of information over the months led some of us to wonder whether we’d be seeing the new feature at launch or have to wait for it in a future patch.
Now, almost a year after the original announcement for Mists of Pandaria, we can finally put a lot of our questions to rest. Over the weekend, Blizzard implemented The Tillers quests on beta servers, and with them, the new farm feature. So is it FarmVille? Let’s take a look.
Your adventure in farming begins in Valley of the Four Winds, where you’ll be able to start a line of daily quests to gain reputation with a pandaren faction known as The Tillers. Quests revolve around an NPC named Farmer Yoon, a young pandaren who recently traveled to the valley to inherit his late grandfather’s farm, Sunsong Ranch. As it turns out, though, Yoon isn’t cut out for all the hard work a farm requires, so he enlists you to help him run the farm and win favor with the valley’s farming guild, The Tillers.
Once you accept Farmer Yoon’s starting quest, your first order of business is to get the farm cleaned up so you’re able to till the soil and plant crops. It would seem that Farmer Yoon’s grandfather let the place go to shambles before his death, leaving you with rocks, boulders, weeds, and an old, broken wagon to clear out before you can farm the ranch’s available land. You can’t remove all the weeds and debris at once, though; starting out, you’ll only be able to break up the rocks to unlock four soil plots. Later, at honored reputation, you recruit the help of your neighbor Gai Lan, who will kill the weeds and open up another four plots. More than likely, you’ll be able to unlock more plots each time you reach a new level of reputation with The Tillers, and based on the size of the farm, you’ll probably be able to unlock a total of 16 plots once you’re exalted with the faction.
I should note, as a person who has played severalHarvest Moon titles, that clearing out weeds and rocks from a decrepit old farm you’ve just purchased or inherited is the starting plot point of many Harvest Moon games.
Growing and harvesting your crops
From here, most of The Tillers quests are your standard daily quest that asks that you to fetch items or kill mobs. Some quests, however, require that you plant a certain crop on Yoon’s farm and harvest it when it’s ready. To plant crops, you’ll first need to till the soil on an empty soil plot, then plant a seed you can purchase from a seed vendor in the Halfhill Market nearby.
Once planted, crops will immediately sprout, but they’ll be afflicted with some sort of ailment. Some crops will be parched and require watering. Other crops will be too alluring, and you’ll have to fight off a bird in order to let it grow. Problem crops are cured through combat, a special action bar, or tools you can find lying around the farm (such as a Rusty Watering Can or Vintage Bug Sprayer). If you’re not sure how to treat a certain problem, you can consult with Farmer Yoon, and he’ll recall some advice his grandfather once told him about crops.
Farmer Yoon says most crops are ready to be harvested after a day, but the actual time seems to be much less than that, something like 12 to 16 hours. It’s still too early for me to be absolutely sure what the time is or whether certain crops have different harvest times. I do know that the crops operate on a timer independent of normal dailies, though, and they won’t automatically become ready for harvest when dailies reset.
On a slightly related note, it appears that crops don’t suffer from being harvested several hours after they become ready. It’s too soon to know if there will be a punishment for leaving your crops on the vine for several days or weeks. I say this because in FarmVille and someHarvest Moon titles, crops will wither or lose sale value if they aren’t harvested fast enough. Given current WoW design philosophies, I’m going to guess there probably won’t be any penalties like that.
Similarities and differences between WoW, FarmVille, and Harvest Moon
I mentioned earlier that I’ve played several Harvest Moon titles, but in anticipation of farming in WoW, I decided to play FarmVille during the past month so I could use it as a source of reference when The Tillers quests became active. Here are the major differences I’ve noticed between the games.
- The ways in which you tend to your crops is unique to WoW, though it has some similarities to FarmVille. You do not need to constantly check up on your plants or water them for several days, as you do in Harvest Moon. Once a seed is planted and any problem it starts with is tended to, your crop requires no more maintenance.
- Individual soil plots for seeds are situated in predetermined locations in WoW. You cannot decide where or how plots are arranged, as you can in FarmVille and Harvest Moon.
- Tools don’t require any special actions to use; for example, the Rusty Watering Can does not require filling as it does in Harvest Moon. I guess that’s why it’s rusty.
- As you’d expect in WoW, you must manually control your character to perform each action, meaning you must move from plot to plot and individually till, seed, and harvest each one. This is just like Harvest Moon but unlike FarmVille, where movement is automated between player designated actions.
- Since your farm is implemented through phasing, there is no way for your friends to visit your farm, even if you are grouped in a party. Each character enters their own phase when located in Sunsong Ranch. In FarmVille, friends can visit your farm, tend to your crops, and leave notes for you, though you’ll never see them doing any of this in real time.
- An NPC named Jogu the Drunk will give you forecasts for the following day on what crops you should plant to yield the most crops. Most Harvest Moon games include an NPC (or television station) that performs the same function.
- Seasons and weather do not appear to play any part in WoW farming, as they do inHarvest Moon. It’s possible that something could be done with the weather later, since the phasing area that Sunsong Ranch occupies is independent of the weather in Valley of the Four Winds (meaning it can be raining in Halfhill Market and sunny 3 feet away on your farm). There are seeds sold by the seed vendor for Autumn Blossom Sapling,Spring Blossom Sapling, and Winter Blossom Sapling, but there is nothing in the seed tooltips that note restrictions on their use.
- Seeds for certain crops, particularly the Mists of Pandaria herbs, are locked until you reach a certain level of reputation. This is similar to the level and mastery locks that exist in FarmVille.
So there you have it. Now that you know what farming is all about, do you think you’ll be farming in Mists of Pandaria?
[Correction: Previously, this article erroneously stated that The Tillers quests started at level 90. This has been fixed. the starting quests for The Tillers can be completed at level 86, though you won't be able to unlock all the quests until level 90. ]
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