This Old Garrison

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Gearing up.


As more and more of my followers reach the level cap, I’ve been starting to see more and more missions like the one pictured above popping up on my to do list.  Blizzard mentioned when describing follower game play to us that there would be ways to improve our follower’s gear.  I may have missed the part where some missions would require our followers to be above a certain item level for them to be effective in taking on a mission.  So I thought we’d take this week and do a little crash course in gearing up our followers.

The Basics

When a follower reaches level one hundred, you will see three new stats on that follower’s character sheet:  an overall item level, their weapon item level, and their armor item level.  Regardless of your follower’s quality, these all start at six hundred.  To improve their item level, you are going to need to find follower weapons and follower armor.  These are generic items in that one type fits all classes.  You don’t need to worry about having a plate item when what you needed was cloth for a priest follower.  Which doesn’t mean that there aren’t differences in follower gear.


Gear Types

Each piece of follower gear has three characteristics to it.  The most basic characteristic is if it is a Weapon or Armor improvement.  The second is the gear’s rarity.  Like the gear for your character, gear for your followers comes in Uncommon, Rare, and Epic versions.  The third characteristic is where things get tricky.   Gear can either provide a Limited or Unlimited bonus.  A Limited piece of gear will set the item level of your follower at a specific number.  An Unlimited piece of gear will take whatever the item level is currently and add on to it.  Let me show you a chart, and then I’ll try to explain it better.


So one Uncommon, Limited Armor piece will set a follower’s armor item level at 615.  It would take five pieces of equal rarity Unlimited gear to get the same results.  But applying a second  Uncommon, Limited Armor piece to the same character won’t do anything (except maybe waste the gear).  To get from 615 to 630, you would either need to use any Unlimited Armor you come across to bridge the gap, or wait until you find a Rare Limited piece that will give you the next fifteen item levels.  This also means you won’t get as big a benefit from using Limited gear on a follower that you’ve already given Unlimited gear to.  Limited gear sets the level.  Applying a Limited gear upgrade to a follower that already has had its item level upgraded isn’t going to add those upgrades on at the end.  Limited gear is best used on a follower that has had little to no gear improvements applied previously.

A couple of notes before we move on:

  • Unlimited doesn’t mean how often one piece of gear can be used.  All gear are single use items.  Once it’s been applied, it’s gone and you have to get another one.  Unlimited here just means that the upgrade it gives to your follower doesn’t stop at a set number.  You can use Uncommon quality Unlimited gear to increase your follower’s item level to epic levels.
  • I have seen a piece of follower gear that would fall into every spot on the above chart except Epic Limited.  I extrapolated what it should do (if it exists) based on what the other gear does do.  If I am wrong, someone let me know.


clawing skyward

Getting the gear.

From my experience, there are three ways to get follower gear:

  1. Follower missions.  This is probably the method that gives you the best odds.  Or at least, you can see your chance of success, and do everything you can to improve your chances of earning the reward.  Most will provide the player with an item that when clicked on will create an Unlimited piece of gear of a random rarity.  The example above rewards the player with a Rare Limited Weapon.  But it also requires that you have three followers with average item levels of 615 that can give you a good chance of a successful mission.  It’s possible, but you’re not likely to have much luck if you’re just starting gearing your followers.
  2. Salvage yard, level 2.  When you have a salvage yard in your garrison, every time you run a follower mission, you have a chance to be rewarded with a box of salvaged items.  Once you’ve upgraded the yard to level 2, there’s a chance that the box will contain follower gear.  You can even save up salvage boxes collected while the building was still level one, and then open those at level 2 for a chance at gear.  I tend to like this option the best because it I feel like it can happen more often.  I certainly get more salvage boxes from missions than I see missions to actually collect follower gear.  The one thing I would say is that if you’re looking specifically for follower gear, stop at level 2.  Level 3 adds player gear to the things that can be pulled from the boxes.  You will still have a chance at follower gear from a level 3 salvage yard, but I feel like the number of times I got follower gear dropped with increase of player gear I was getting.
  3. Dwarven Bunker/ War Mill, level 2.  At level two, this building unlocks the ability to place work orders with a chance of rewarding follower gear.  Each work order takes twenty garrison resources.  And I’m thinking it’s the worst chances of the bunch.  Or maybe, as someone that spent some time being resource starved early on, I wish the chances for gear were better.  You’re much more likely to get currency for the transmog items the building sells from a work order than you are a gear upgrade.  Still, there is a chance, and every little bit helps.

Once you’ve gotten some gear, it’s as simple as applying an enchant.  Go to a garrison mission table, open up the follower tab, click on the gear you have, and then click on the follower you want to give the gear to.  Now, the important thing to keep in mind, is that it’s the average item level of your follower that’s important.  You could (if you wanted to or were limited by gear drops) improve a follower’s armor level to 630, ignore their weapon level, and they could then be sent on missions that require a 615 item level.  This could allow you to spread the gear out better, and get more followers above the cap faster.  Alternatively, you could give all the gear you find to your favorite followers first, unlocking a few achievements for having very high gear ratings on a follower.  It’s you’re choice.  You are the commander after all.


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