Friday, September 21, 2012

To Level or Not To Level: A Matter of Professions

Welcome back, gold fans!  First of all, hey, I'm not dead!  Yay!  I think, like a lot of bloggers, I just haven't had a lot to write about.  The patch came and went, and now we're just waiting for Mists (while quite possibly also enjoying things like Borderlands 2 and Torchlight 2).

Since my last post, I can at least say that I've achieved my pre-expansion goals.  All of my professions are where I want them, and I my Refer-a-Friend account has a level 80, a level 40, and a level 20, all ready to boost a Pandaren Monk from level 10 to level 80.  I'm still working on freeing up some bag space, but other than that, my pre-Mists activities in game are done.

Now I find myself looking ahead, to Tuesday's launch of Mists and beyond.  My participation in the rush of launch gathering and realm first attempts will likely be minimal, but I still need to set my priorities.  Who gets leveled first, and who gets to stay behind in Orgrimmar for the time being?

The choice of who comes first is obvious for me.  My Druid gets top priority simply because she's my main and my raiding character.  I love making gold, but the main reason I play this game is still to raid with my team.  We're not "hardcore" enough to have any strict deadlines, but I want to be leveled and geared quickly so that I'm ready as soon as everyone else is.  No one wants to be "that guy" who's still leveling when the rest of the team is ready to go.

Other than that, though, it comes down to professions.  Which ones benefit the most from getting out into the world, both for leveling and for reputation?  I honestly wasn't sure, so I did some research, which gives me something to share with all of you.

Gathering Professions (Mining, Herbalism, Skinning)

These ones really go without saying.  You can't very well harvest the things in those max-level zones if you can't get to them, can you?  We saw this somewhat in Cataclysm, although for most of the zones, a determined adventurer could work around it (Deepholm being the exception).

In Mists, though, there's another big consideration:  flight.  Players will be unable to fly in Pandaria until reaching level 90.  You know how efficient it is to gather herbs or ore on a ground mount?  Not very.

Alchemy

As far as I can tell, all Alchemy recipes (including the Living Steel transmute) should be learned via discovery, so right now, these are looking to be prime "stay home" crafters.  That being said, thew Spirit of Harmony item, which is bind on pickup and drops off any mobs in Pandaria, can be used to circumvent the daily cooldown on Living Steel.  In addition, the Tillers faction will eventually let you grow Motes of Harmony (which are combined into Spirit of Harmony), so it certainly wouldn't be a bad idea to eventually get your Alchemist out into the world.

Blacksmithing

The recipes for the crafted epics and for the new Living Steel Belt Buckle require your Blacksmith to be Honored with the Klaxxi, which in turn requires level 90.  It will be interesting to see what the new belt buckle market looks like, since they'll now require an item that's on another profession's daily cooldown (Living Steel from Alchemists).  Overall, though, I would say a Blacksmith deserves to be taken out sometime relatively soon after launch.  If nothing else, the prices for those crafted epics will never be as high as they will be when raids open up a week after launch.

(As a side note, all of the crafted epics will also require Spirits of Harmony, which is another reason to get them out into the world, and perhaps to get them a Tillers farm going as well.)

Enchanting

 While most of the recipes for Enchanters will be available from the trainer, high-end weapon and bracer enchants (the ones that have traditionally had the hefty price tags) will both require rep grinds.  The bracers require Revered rep with the August Celestials, while the weapons are held by the Shado-Pan.  Both of these require level 90, as well as Revered reputation with the Golden Lotus faction.

Enchanters have their work cut out for them, so starting early is a must.  On the plus side, this also means that your Enchanter is able to Disenchant their quest rewards near launch, when they should fetch a very decent price, either raw or as scrolls for progression raiders.  In short, an Enchanter definitely deserves a spot near the top of the list.

Engineering

Let's face it.  Engineering has never been a major money maker, and that will probably continue to be the case.  However, the good news is that as far as I've been able to tell, none of the Engineering recipes are locked behind a level or rep requirement.  You may still want to at least give them a Tillers farm, though, since Spirits of Harmony are needed for most of their new toys (and in massive amounts for their new mounts).


Inscription

 None of the recipes for Scribes in Mists seem to be gated behind level or rep, so they're generally fine "staying home".  However, their epic weapons and off-hands require Spirits of Harmony, as does making a Darkmoon Card without the daily cooldown Scroll of Wisdom. 

Jewelcrafting

The only things locked behind a rep grind (and therefore level 90) for Jewelcrafters are the new panther mounts, which, while very cool, are probably a bigger investment than you'll want to be looking at early in the expansion.  However, all of the meta gem cuts seem to be BoP world drops from mobs in Pandaria.  You can still make a tidy profit without these, of course, but eventually you likely will want to do some farming for these.

Leatherworking

Leatherworkers will need to reach honored with the Golden Lotus faction (which requires reaching level 90) in order to unlock their crafted epics and their raid-quality leg armors.  In addition, both of these things take Spirits of Harmony.

Tailoring

Like Leatherworkers, Tailors will need to reach honored with the Golden Lotus to access their epic crafted gear recipes and their raid-quality Spellthreads.  Also of note, however, is that Tailors must reach Exalted with the August Celestials if they wish to make the new 28-slot Royal Satchel.  All of these things also require Imperial Silk, which can only be made on a daily cooldown or with Spirits of Harmony.  The new Royal Satchel, in fact, requires a whopping 12 Imperial Silk.

Conclusions

Hopefully, this gives you some idea of how you want to prioritize leveling your various alts going into Mists.  After my main (which also takes care of Blacksmithing), the first alt through will likely be my Enchanter, since that seems like a long grind that it's best to start early.  My gatherers will likely come after that, though I'll admit there's a good chance I'll have missed out on some of the launch highs on gathered materials.  My Leatherworker and Tailor will then follow as time permits, with everyone else bringing up the rear.

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