Friday, March 09, 2007
Burning Crusade tradeskills
I've been asking one of the best blacksmiths on my server to give me his impressions on his craft. Of the producing tradeskills I've more towards those that produce mainly "consumables" (Alchemy, Jewelcrafting, Enchanting), and neglected those that produce mainly more permanent gear (Blacksmithing, Leatherworking, Tailoring). So with getting the observations of a blacksmith, I now got a wider view of crafting in the Burning Crusade.
Getting any tradeskill up to 375 is a rather expensive process. The blacksmith needed 1,000 thorium bars and 200 elemental earth just to get to 330. My jewelcrafter used a long list of gems to level up to just 310. But all of these were with materials that could be gathered before the Burning Crusade even started, and lots of people had stockpiled materials to get their tradeskills up fast.
Progress got a lot slower when the only recipes that still advanced your skills were those only found in the new areas. The only lucky one here is my alchemist, because herbs are relatively abundant and easy to find. Finding ore nodes is a lot harder, apparently they spawn less often, or there are far more people searching for them, as ore nodes are used for jewelcrafting, blacksmithing, and engineering. To put this into some perspective: While prices for Adamantium Ore fluctuate wildly, the range is about 1 gold to 3 gold for a *single* ore, 20 to 60 gold for a stack. So with an average price of 2 gold per ore, and an average yield of 2-3 ore per node, finding a single adamantium node is worth 5 gold!
If fel iron and adamantium is already not easy to find, getting eternium and khorium gets really, really hard. Eternium is a random rare "side-drop" from mining fel iron or adamantium ore nodes. Khorium is gathered from khorium ore nodes, which rarely spawn in the place where usually a fel iron or adamantium ore node spawns. There is no way to selectively go after either of them, you just hunt for the normal ores and have to get lucky to find them. That is especially hard on blacksmiths, because they use a lot of felsteel, which needs 4 eternium ore per steel bar to produce, so even one pair of felsteel gloves ends up needing 24 eternium ore.
While gathering materials is slow, getting the recipes to craft something higher level is a lot slower. Trainers don't give any of the higher level recipes, leaving only faction recipes and drops as source. The good news is that reputation in the Burning Crusade isn't all that hard to gather, because except for Aldor/Scryer rep you automatically gain faction by killing mobs in dungeons. Do a lot of 5-mans, and your reputations automatically goes up. Only if you happen to prefer soloing, you're screwed, limited to a few repeatable grinding quests to gain faction. The bad news is that drop recipes are really, really hard to acquire in the Burning Crusade.
This is due to rare drop recipes in the Burning Crusade using a new system. They are all "world drops", meaning there is no mob that drops them more often than another mob. You can't farm a particular corner of the world for a particular recipe any more, as it was still the case at level 60. The other new feature is that the rare drop recipes only drop for people with that tradeskill. If you are in a group of 5 and 2 of the players are jewelcrafters, and a mob drops a jewelcrafting recipe, only the 2 jewelcrafters will even see it and get the need/greed roll box. If there is no jewelcrafter at all, the drop simply doesn't happen, and thus the amount of recipes entering the world is further limited. As these drops are rare to begin with, and the crafters that are the only ones being allowed to get them of course first fill their own recipe books before selling excess recipes, the number of recipes found in the auction house is very limited, and the prices are sky-high, costing many hundreds of gold pieces. On the positive side of that is that crafters are now more unique, you will find few or no crafters having all the recipes of their trade. On the negative side your recipes are now very much random, there is no way to say "I want that recipe" and go after it, except for farming gold and camping the auction house.
The reason why I personally prefer crafting consumables, like potions or socketable gems, is that the resources for them are more widely available. I regularly gather adamantium ore, or buy stacks of them if the prices are below 25 gold per stack. Then I use the prospecting skill and transform them into adamantium powder (needed for mercurial adamantite, which is a major component in jewelry), lots of common gems, and the occasional rare gem. I get about 1 rare gem for 30 adamantium ore on average, so I can make a profit by selling the cut rare gems for 50 gold, and using the proceeds to buy more recipes.
For the crafters of gear, getting materials is a lot harder. The better recipes all use a lot of primals, which makes primals very much in demand and expensive. Both hardcore players and gold farmers nowadays spend a lot of time farming elementals to get primals. If you want to craft epic items, you often need one or several primal nethers. These only drop reliably from the end bosses of heroic instances, and can thus be considered as an added partial epic drop from them. Not something the average player will see a lot of.
A lot of the epic level 70 gear you can craft nowadays is "bind on pickup", and thus becomes soulbound as soon as you craft it. This very much illuminates the philosophy behind World of Warcraft tradeskills: you craft to enhance your own character, opening a business is secondary. If you want to be a blacksmith, you better do it with somebody able to wear plate armor and wield metal weapons, because as a priest, mage, or warlock you'd lose out on many of the crafts advantages. But if you're a warrior smith, you gain an additional source of epic weapons or armor, which are equivalent to what you can get in a raid.
In summary I'd say that the Burning Crusade tradeskills work as intended, giving players an additional thing to do to enhance their characters. This is far, far away from the concept of a player-run economy that games like UO, SWG, or LotRO have. Crafting doesn't play a big role in World of Warcraft, it's just an extra. It fits in the general philosophy of WoW as primarily a game, and not so much a virtual world. That will leave some player (including me) yearning for more, but works well enough for the majority.