One of the first things that come to mind when I think of Mists of Pandaria is Halfhill, the bustling farmer’s market town where the clueless Farmer Yoon resides. The story behind acquiring his farm, Sunsong Ranch, is familiar to anyone who loved Harvest Moon games like me. Basically Yoon was looking for someone to help out on the farm while also showing members of The Tillers that it’s worth keeping. From there, it’s up to you to grow crops used in Pandarian recipes and upgrade the farm little by little. It’s by far my favorite thing from the expansion, and the closest players would get to their own instanced “housing” until Warlords of Draenor brought us Garrisons.
Making New Friends
The picture above shows the fully upgraded farm, with the best tools, most plots of soil, and farm animals, but starting out on the farm is completely different. Beginning the quest-line reveals that Halfhill plans to demolish Yoon’s farm for more space, and so the player sets out with the task of making sure everyone in the Tillers Union votes in favor of keeping the farm. Mists of Pandaria introduced separate reputation bars for NPCs and my goal here was to raise everyone’s reputation to “best friend” status while also getting to exalted with The Tillers, the farming group in Halfhill.
Earning the trust of each farmer was a slow and steady process. Reputation, or friendship, was earned by doing quests or finding rare items scattered around Valley of the Four Winds which could then be gifted. The gifts were important because after the main story-line quests were over, my only other way of gaining friendship was through daily quests which were random each day. Each farmer had a favorite gift which would earn more friendship with that particular farmer, which added another layer of tedium to this whole ordeal. I remember spending hours flying around the zone using an add-on that scanned for the little dirt piles that hid the gifts. But what is exactly the point of becoming best friends with everyone?
The Power of Friendship
Best friend status has its own perks, the most important of which being that you have convinced them that Sunsong Ranch shouldn’t be demolished. Each farmer also gives you an addition to the farm, like animals or furniture for your little house. Lastly, you can ask any of your new besties to help you out on the farm. I think they’re actually supposed to help out with crops and stuff, but I haven’t noticed anything useful. Each farmer has their own expertise and will appear in different locations if asked to tend your farm. Chee Chee is my favorite (he’s just awesome) and his expertise happens to be sheep, so he hangs out with the sheep on my farm.
Helping out each farmer with their problems and surprising them with gifts was heartwarming, and the conclusion of the quest-line with all of us banding together to save the farm was just awesome. The whole thing was very reminiscent of Harvest Moon or similar games, which is why I think it continues to be one of my favorite things in the game ever. I still return from time to time, like I just did to take these pictures, and it always gives me the same warm fuzzy feeling that truly impactful stories do. Even so, I haven’t gotten to the best part of the farm…
I Love Dog
Yes, you read that right. Sunsong Ranch is home to the original good boy, a dog named Dog. I don’t remember quite how the story goes with him, but at some point while questing around Valley of the Four Winds you run into a dog with no home. If you choose to complete the quest (just look at that face), you befriend Dog and he comes to live with you on the farm. And from then on every day you log in to tend the farm Dog will be there to greet you. That’s really the little detail that tipped Sunsong Ranch over the edge into “completely amazing” territory.
The best part about Dog is that my reaction to him is the same for many people, in that he is a constant joy in a strange land full of Pandas. Luckily Dog makes his return in Warlords of Draenor when you unlock the herb garden in your Garrison, and in Legion he’s hanging out in Dalaran with Breanni in the pet shop. However, in Legion there’s a little secret players need to work out in order to get him to appear in the pet shop. I’m still not sure if he appears in BfA but I have hope!