The start of a new expansion is never a good time to level a profession. Which is kind of ironic considering it’s exactly the time almost 100% of your server are going to want to level a profession. Actually, that’s not 100% true. The start of a new expansion is exactly the best possible time to start levelling a new gathering profession, but it’s Shitsville, Tennessee if your profession depends on those raw materials, because the price goes right through the roof and doesn’t stop until it reaches low earth orbit.
On my server, a single hypnotic dust, that’s ONE dust, not a stack, was selling for 70g. A single cindercloth, and yes that’s ONE cloth, not a stack, was selling for 20g. A lot of people got very rich, very quickly at the expense of people who were trying to level their tradeskills. Now you could argue, and it’s a perfectly valid point, that there are all sorts of ways to turn this situation to your advantage. Instead of desperately trying to gather enough enchanting materials to level your skill to a useful level, you should disenchant everything you loot and get from quests and dump the raw materials on the market, make an absolute killing and then buy back the material a few weeks later when the market stabilised to less ludicrous levels, in order to level your enchanting then. Same with any other skill that relies on things people gather. The problem here is that if you’re in any kind of raiding guild you need your tradeskills to be maxxed out in order to make the epic quality gear that gives you the best start in the raid environment, with the best enchants on them. So I, and I’m sure many others, spent 36,000g levelling my enchanting and tailoring in order to get to the stage where I could make stuff I was actually likely to need. Yeah, that’s not a typo. Thirty-six thousand gold. Ouch.
The next kick in the teeth was that covered in Icecrown25 Heroic gear as I was, I couldn’t even use levelling enchants on my gear until around level 84, because the gear I was getting from quests wasn’t worth using, and the gear I was wearing was below item level 300 and therefore couldn’t be enchanted with any of the new stuff I was learning. Technically, the quest rewards were better in a lot of cases, but taking into account the fact that the stuff I was wearing had shoulder enchants I could actually use and gem slots I could fill, they were still pound for pound better than a lot of the new gear available that didn’t come from a reputation faction at level 83. I suppose it’d be churlish to complain too loudly about this last point because at the end of the day I was actually covered in Icecrown25 Heroic gear. So I wasn’t exactly struggling.
Once you’ve hit level 525 in those professions, however, the fun doesn’t stop there. Leatherworkers, Engineers and Blacksmiths need Chaos Orbs to actually make any of the shiny stuff available, and for whatever lunatic reason, Blizzard chose to make these things Bind on Pickup AND allow any mouth-breathing moron capable of staying conscious long enough to queue for a random heroic the ability to click Need on them. Not only does this mean your Blacksmiths, Engineers and Leatherworkers got screwed out of masses of gold levelling their professions in the first place, but they also got screwed by their fellow players out of the materials they needed to actually do anything useful with those maxxed out tradeskills. Let me assure you, if an asshole can click Need on a Chaos Orb they can’t actually use, they will click Need on a Chaos Orb they can’t actually use. Because they’re assholes and that’s what assholes do. It took Blizzard two weeks to realise how fundamentally broken this was and change the loot rolls so that only people a) with the relevant profession and b) with a skill level of over 425 were able to roll Need on the Orbs. Tailors, however, were included in the list of people who could click Need. Because there’s precisely one tailoring recipe that needs the things in order to create Dreamcloth, which is what tailors use to make their epic cloth gear; and there are FAR easier, cheaper and less dickheaded ways of making Dreamcloth than screwing other professions out of Chaos Orbs for it. So now you Blacksmiths etc only need to worry about asshole Tailors screwing you out of your Orbs, which is, at least, an improvement.
One way in which Blizzard attempted to make tradeskills more rewarding, or at least less of a grind, was to award mutiple skillpoints for the recipes that used the most expensive materials. This is actually a very good idea. You could, in theory, gain up to five skillpoints on certain recipes. I know in the past that I’ve had the choice of making six or seven yellow items for a potential five point gain using materials that are easy and cheap to source; or five orange recipes using materials that cost a second mortgage on your parents house, and I go with the yellow recipes every time. Now it can actually be more economic to make the more expensive item, because you’re going to get more guaranteed skillups from it and you get a useful item to boot. Or at least that’s the way it works in theory. Let me tell you about enchanting…
I’ve just spend about a billion gold and levelled enchanting to 470. I can now make the Mighty Agility on a Two-Handed Weapon enchant, and it’s going to give me FIVE skillpoints every time I do it. Fantastic. It should only now cost me a few million more gold to do that enchant a few times to get to level 480. So, what do we need? Three each of dust, essence and shards. Ok, I’ll only need to sell one of my childrens kidneys to afford that, it’s do-able. Er… why is it still being filtered out from my “Have Materials” filter? Let’s look at that again. Oh. I need a Runed Elementium Rod for this. Great, so where do I get that? It’s not on the trainer… Wowhead to the rescue! Sold by a vendor in the Twilight Highlands. Ok, that’s not too bad, I’ll just remortgage my house to buy the shards it costs for the recipe. Got it. Wait, what’s this… why is the Rod recipe red? Needs skill level 515. FIVE ONE FIVE? To make a level 470 enchant? Are you fucking kidding me?
Just to make sure this is all spelled out properly for everyone, in order to actually make the enchant that gives you a five point skillup you need to make a Rod that requires such a high enchanting level that the five point skillup is now greyed out and 100% completely useless to you. Yes enchanters, they fuck you coming and they fuck you going. You do in fact, get fucked both ways. They’ve since reduced the skill required for the enchant to….. drumroll…. more drumroll… trust me it’s worth the wait… 500. Sorry, but yeah, you’re still getting fucked.
There is a bright side to all of this pain and grief, however. Once you’re in a position to actually start producing anything useful from your tradeskills, you can start making the money back pretty quickly. Prices for crafted epics are outrageously high for a number of reasons. First, they’re better quality than heroic dungeon gear, equivalent to current tier raid gear, which is a new move from Blizzard. Secondly, people are basically venal, avaricious, greedy shits who will screw you out of as much gold as you are prepared to hand over in exchange for this epic crafted gear. But you did have it coming by listing your hypnotic dust, obsidium ore and cindercloth on the auction for such ridiculously high prices in the first place, so we crafters are not shedding Tear #1 over your crying as we pocket our 16,000g for the pants you desperately want that only we can provide. And it’s not like you can’t afford it, you’ve got 36000 of my gold out of me, time to give it back.
Of course, the only real winners in this situation are the herbers, miners and skinners. And they’re all Chinese and work in shifts from a dormitory in Beijing. But hey, they’re hiring, because judging by the price of just about anything on the auction houses these days, business in the gold-selling sector must be very, very good.