It has been a month now that people in WOW have had access to the latest content so I figured I should review it. My guild is 9/13 normal mode in Hellfire Citadel and so far I think it is well done. There is a distinct progression ramp up throughout the zone both in loot quality and difficulty and that feels smooth and polished. Most of the folks in my guild haven't got a lot of stuff they still need from normal mode except for tier pieces and trinkets. There are a couple slots where people will get 5 more ilvls but it isn't much of a thing. The fights are varied and interesting though and I am enjoying that.
The shipyard, the new addition to the garrison, on the other hand, isn't so great. Blizzard succeeded in making it quite different from followers but much of that difference boils down to the shipyard being terrible. Once you get the mandatory bits done to get your legendary ring it mostly becomes a huge time and resource hog, allowing you to spend huge amounts of resources to gain modest amounts of gold. Unlike followers ships rarely have anything interesting to do and the great majority of missions are actually worse than nothing because your ships will often be destroyed if you fail. While there is nothing inherently wrong with ships dying on missions in theory, this ends up meaning that after a disastrous failure you have to spend a lot of time rebuilding and training up new ships (and often they will end up sinking again before you get them trained fully up!) rather than doing something interesting.
The solution I have come up with is to mostly abandon combat. My navy isn't about fighting enemy ships! Instead of being all about war on the high seas I just outfitted the fleet with fishing nets and I send them on trivial training missions to gather fish instead. There are missions that award lots of experience but those are dangerous, especially for ships set up to catch fish... instead I do the missions that are safe, have almost no reward, but allow my ships to trawl the seas for a flopping, slimy haul.
Somehow having all these sparkly missions with rewards that aren't worth getting feels wrong. Something isn't entirely working here, and although normally I have suggestions for fixing the problems I really don't know what to say here. Ships aren't especially fun, the stuff that is supposed to be exciting isn't worth doing, and all I do is send my ships out to train on target dummies.
It just isn't heroic.
Followers ended up being a real balance issue because they so trivially brought in huge sums of gold. The game is going to need to get fixed in a big way when the next xpac launches to make sure that followers don't remain the main source of gold forever. However, while they were around followers were fun and optimizing my army was a source of great entertainment. For some reason followers going out and earning gold and gear is fun and ships going out fishing isn't. Theme matters, it turns out.