Somewhere in the blur between Thanksgiving rolling by and December starting I gave in to peer pressure and bought Warlords of Draenor.* I'll grant that despite my general apathy regarding the expansion I am impressed. What surprised me is just how impressed I was. Pandaria was the typical step up in quality, but Warlords feels like more of a leap. Putting my finger on exact why it feels so much better is difficult, but it seems to be something to do with the Garrison, how quests are laid out, rate of progression, etc. In Pandaria, the gap between 88-90 felt positively massive. The Dread Wastes seemed to go on FOREVER making the final push between 89 and 90 feel like a slog. Warlords doesn't have this problem, perhaps because there are ten levels so the "power up" sort of reward comes more readily, but even with that in mind the last few zones of Warlords seem to fly by when compared to their Pandaria equivalents.
That said, while I think Warlords is well worth praise, there were a few design choices that simply floored me. The biggest offender is how the progression of Garrisons is so heavily tied to achievements. Now I understand why they stuck certain Garrison buffs behind levels; with Garrisons effectively supplementing crafting professions it's a needed barrier to prevent people from easily farming them with alts.
That said, sticking almost all of the level 3 buildings behind achievements, most of which are time-gates, has proven incredibly frustrating. For example, the tier 3 Lumber Mill requires placing 75 work orders at your Lumber Mill, meaning that at minimum it takes ~12.5 days before a player is eligible to build. Thankfully, at least the achievements are account wide. Meanwhile, my level 100 monk is stuck with tier 2 small buildings until I can manage to get 250 work orders done, which even with all six of my buildings working (in some cases causing unnecessary waste) will take a few more days...so that nifty epic ring is going to have to wait.
The part that offends me is that many of the achievements either artificially add X days to how long one would need to play to finish upgrading their garrison, or they require I do something with my garrison that I don't necessarily want to (such as spend Draenor seeds for work-orders to unlock the level 3 small buildings when I would rather be saving the seeds for the pet). I find it especially disappointing because it's in an expansion where Blizzard has worked very hard to remove the wasteful or "detour" sort of barriers, such as attunements, from the fun. Now I could certainly just live without the level 3 buildings for a while, but given that they provide epic items that can help bump a person into raiding eligibility, it's frustrating to have them locked.
*That's my story and I'm sticking to it.