My alt and profession mindset for Warlords, Part 2: Changes

With little information about professions other than that “change is coming” and some other small points, I’ve stood pat with respect to my current professions, for now. Of course, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been considering some rearrangement…

However, with Celestalon’s recent tweet (H/T The Godmother) stating that primary stat gems are gone in 6.0, my thoughts on changes I will make at that point are becoming more cemented in my brain. More info will determine whether I make these changes a reality, but right now they seem fairly certain to happen.

What are they, you ask?

Well, in light of my earlier post about how I will be paring down the number of toons I level to max by almost half in WoD – and thus, paring down my profession burden – I have been thinking practically about which toons I want to rely on for mats, especially when considering that farms will not be coming with us to WoD. Even if, as The Godmother suggests, professions make no raid-valuable gear in WoD, I’ll still want max-level profs on the toons that I will be playing, for various reasons. But with the expected re-tooling coming, the way I’ve crafted for the past couple of years will change, and the ‘no primary stats on gems’ theme is a perfect example of a good reason to review what I do on which toons.


Case in point: my hunter, who is my main and the toon that I am likely to play far more than any other in WoD, is currently a Leatherworker. I used to have that paired with Skinning, but changed it in Cataclysm for Blacksmithing and the superior 2-extra-Agi-gem bonus. While this has obviously served me well for raiding purposes, it’s been a tad inconvenient in terms of supplying my own leather. My alternatives for leather included the farm, my druid, and leveling my extra hunter – none of which is quite like supplying your own leather.

As such, I’m seriously leaning toward switching Mushan back to a LW/SK. I’m going into the xpac with a different mindset than previous ones, and I plan on immersing myself in playing this toon, rather than getting several profs off the ground ASAP, and trying to make a ton of gold at the AH, and so on. So self-sufficiency on the leather front will be nice, while I should be able to provide for myself financially otherwise. The hunter will lead the way. The rest will follow in their own time.


Speaking of the druid, I’m considering making Ana an Herbalist instead of a Skinner. She’s a Leatherworker, but since I mainly play her as a healer, it would be nice to have a profession that doesn’t rely on killing mobs in order to gather anything in significant numbers. Additionally, since I’m thinking of retiring my paladin, it would be nice to have a source of herbs.

Having two LWs would be redundant, but I have a hard time changing her main prof to, for instance, Alchemy (and hence deleting the thus completely redundant paladin), because I have years of rare and epic recipes on her that I am loathe to get rid of. The option is not entirely off the table, but it would be a very hard thing for me to pull the trigger on.


Droignon is a Blacksmith and a Miner. He shall remain so: both professions are well-suited to a Prot warrior, regardless of any forthcoming changes.


Currently, Modhriel’s a Tailor (which he will continue to be) and a JC (which is up in the air, but which he will probably continue to be). I don’t have any plans for this one; at any rate, he’s low on the priority list).

* * *

The main point is that my hunter is likely to become a Skinner again after more than three years away from the profession. In the spirit of simplifying things and not being as hardcore and nit-picky about the game – and in the interest of complementary professions on my main toon – I like the way this feels. Assuming that Skinning still boosts Critical Strike chance in Warlords, the profession is useful in that regard, so I don’t feel that I’m giving up too much by doing so. And the interplay between the professions feels more natural to me than having the two crafting profs. And that’s how it felt the first time I ever paired the two.

* * *

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!

My alt and profession mindset for Warlords

Many alts

On Wednesday, I wrote a ton of words about nerfing myself for the launch of Warlords of Draenor. Today, I’d like to elaborate more on some of the more structural changes I’d like to make, with respect to some other aspects of how I play the game.

I’ve reached a point in my life where the rat race like the one I embarked upon in Mists of Pandaria isn’t appealing, practical, or enjoyable. At the time, I did it, but I was looking forward to better times – and they have certainly come, to some extent. But the way I played in Cataclysm and MoP – many level-capped alts, all ten professions capped (sometimes more than once), seven full farms, plenty of Auction House action, and so on – is something that I just don’t have the energy or interest in anymore. So, while I still farm those farms, post those auctions, use those profs, etc., I am winding down as the expansion does, with an eye toward a more streamlined experience in WoD.

Originally, I had intended to write this post in point-by-point sections, but with the nature of alts and how I play/use them, everything is connected. So, one section it is.

. . .

Like many players who have several alts and most/all professions, I use my professions to support both my raiding toon(s) and each other. Miners provide ore for Blacksmithing, Engineering, and Jewelcrafting. Skinners provide leather for Leatherworkers. Herbalism provides herbs for Alchemy and Inscription. Tailors, um, tail stuff, or something. And all of those profs benefit each of my toons, directly or indirectly. Additionally, they support my gold-making activities. And while I am no AH expert, and do not use addons for that activity, I’ve done well for myself casually auctioning my wares.

In fact, I’ve done so well this xpac that I could probably not sell anything on the Auction House for the entirety of WoD, spend gold like I usually do (which includes paying for all of my own repairs, by the way), and still have more than I need left.

In the absence of an active interest in the gold-making meta-game, there are diminishing returns the longer someone like me continues to fight the AH fight. Unlike some of my peers, I don’t do much wholesale raw material buying, flipping, min-maxing my profit margins, and so on. I’ve done a little bit of that in isolated circumstances, but for the most part I’ve sold what I had/farmed/made, and left it at that. Going further – toward anything remotely approaching the gold cap – just doesn’t interest me much. So with a tidy savings in the bank, I think it could be time for a rest.

With that in mind, I’m planning to chop the number of professions that I max out in WoD to less than half. I currently have 15 primary profs maxed over eight toons, so I’m thinking six-to-eight total would be good…

Before I go further, I’ll also say that that number will correspond approximately with the number of toons that I take to 100, or even into Draenor. Of my current seven 90s and one 85, only three or four of them will likely be heading to 100. Certain profs will hit the chopping block as a result of this.

My 85 druid scribe is the first to come to mind. I’ve never really enjoyed Inscription, other than the concept itself and the convenience of making my own glyphs. I don’t really need a second druid any more, since I made her for the express purpose of leveling as a healer back in the day, and now that I heal on Ana, the other druid has no purpose other than those conveniences and the fact that she has a guild bank. I haven’t decided if I will delete her – for now, she stays, but that could change on a whim. But I’m done putting any effort into Inscription – that much is certain.

Anyway, one of the themes of the next expansion for me will be, as I wrote in my notes for this post, “Less alts. Period.” I should have written “Less alts at max level with maxed profs. Period.” but… I knew what I meant when I wrote it. When something is as much of a time/energy drain as alts have been this xpac, you don’t forget.

Aside from Inscription, I don’t necessarily dislike the other professions, since I finally got an Engineer (DK) to max-level. That was a rough one to level, but now that it’s up there, I don’t hate it. But it won’t be a priority in WoD, in part because my DK will itself probably not be a priority.

. . .

My priorities, in fact, will look something like this:

Mushan – hunter, main raider; LW/BS.

Anacrusa – druid (healer), potential raider; LW/SK.

Droignon – warrior (tank), potential raider; BS/MI.

Those toons will be my three level 100 toons in all likelihood. And, because I probably won’t be able to resist, I’ll probably level my mage (TA/JC) at some point, because I like playing him. But he’s not a priority. His profs will also not be a priority.

Additional profs that have potential to be leveled at some point include Enchanting (2nd hunter), Alchemy (paladin), and Engineering (DK). However, unless I decide to level the DK instead of the warrior for tanking purposes, all three of those toons will be sitting in SW collecting dust for the foreseeable future, and their professions will be leveled incidentally (particularly Enchanting, because of, you know, Disenchanting…) if at all.

So, with those things in mind, if I level the three main toons, I’ll have five different professions maxed. Six if I’m able to level Enchanting while my worgen hunter sits on his butt in a tavern. Eight if I level the mage’s professions. Eight is enough… right? Right?

. . .

It’s my hope that by not letting gold/prof concerns drive my playing activities, I will cut down on wasted time and enjoy a higher percentage of my playing time. I pretty much hate playing the paladin, the 2nd hunter will be unnecessary, and the DK will be dormant until some unknown point until I get very bored. Cutting out a lot of that “toon-bloat” should make me something more of a lean, mean playing machine, or something.

And anything I need that I can’t make myself or have made by a friend, I’ll buy. I sold all that stuff for a reason. This will be the time to use the proceeds.

. . .

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!

Reversing the tide of a reversal of the tide (whimsical replacement-mage saga)

Yeah, sometimes my titles aren’t the best. I don’t even know what that one means – the first part, anyway.

For those who may remember (read this if you don’t), I started a new mage a while back. The express purpose of this mage was to replace a max-level mage that I already have, with maxed primary crafting professions and decent (I did fine in Raid Finder) gear.

Now, as I pointed out in that post, this is something that probably sounds crazy. I have a mage. He works fine. He’s not a main. He makes me tons of gold. So, just leave him alone, right?

Well, I decided to replace him because he was a human male and because I wasn’t crazy about his name. And since money is tight, I have a hard time using cash to change all of that.

(This mage still exists, by the way, for now. I’ll likely keep him until Mists of Pandaria is underway, and then let him go when he stops being useful.)

In the meantime, I started this new night elf mage, with exactly the same professions, so that he will become a “2.0 version” of the current one, with no drop-off in production, so to speak. However, things came to a halt with him when my iMac decided to succumb to its terminal illness.*

*The technical name for the iMac’s terminal illness is something like “Apple develops shit (the iMac) that costs more than a certified pre-owned car, with inferior parts, and looks great or new-fangled or something, but its designs are fatally flawed and they run way too hot and so on, so their shelf life can be shorter than you expect.” Or something to that effect.

The death of my iMac combined with my girlfriend’s heavy Diablo III play meant that I’ve been offline much more than usual, since hers is the only working PC in the family at the moment. As such, I eventually sort of resigned myself that I was going to $#*t-can the idea of replacing Theophilos, as my new mage still had all of Outland, Northrend and Cataclysm to complete, as well as maxing out Jewelcrafting and Tailoring, before MoP dropped.

However, over the past week-plus, I dove back into play with him (he was 60). I quested. I ran several dungeons (all Wrath, so far). I worked on professions. I changed him from Frost to Fire for all leveling, since I just like playing Fire anyway.

As of today, he’s halfway through to 82. His Tailoring is at 505 (yay!). That’s the good news. His JC is at 412 (ehhh…), which is indicative of the fact that JC is probably one of the more difficult crafting profs to level without spending an iMac’s worth of gold on mats.

At this rate, I should be finished leveling him – depending on how much time I get to play him – within the next seven days. The profs are going to be fine, I think. At the very latest, they should be ready to go (maxed) by the time MoP drops, so I will be able to switch seamlessly from the old mage to the new one at that point.

So… let me briefly elaborate on why I made the decision to replace Theophilos:

I was using MogIt to look at cloth combos for transmog, and… seriously… human males look so awful in cloth gear. Most gear, actually, but really, I just can’t stand it. So I made a nelf. I like how he looks. And I’m excited to put together some looks for him once that becomes something I care about again (aka after I finish mogging my hunter and warrior, at least).

OK, I should have said “prioritize,” not “care about.”

So yeah, new race, new name, same class, same profs. “Money” (because I’m totally dropping some chunks of gold while leveling this one’s profs) well spent? Absolutely.

It’s in-game gold. Meaningless currency. Fun money. It means I don’t have to spend U.S. currency to have the mage I want. And I’m enjoying the leveling experience. Win-win.

– – –

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!

Blog Azeroth Shared Topic: Custom-Fit Professions

 Aka “I’m doing it wrong!” At least, by this topic’s premise. :)

This week’s Shared Topic at Blog Azeroth is from Effraeti, who asks:

Professions are fun for some and a necessary evil for others.

Some of us have farming professions. Some of us have crafting professions. Some of us have a little bit of everything! Professions are leveled because they fit our style of play, help us in raiding, allow us to outfit our alts, and make us money.

What professions do you have on your main? Do his/her professions fit their personality? Why did you choose them? If you chose professions based on your character and not on gaming needs, would that change some of their professions they use?

(This can include the secondary professions of archaeology, fishing, cooking, and first aid too!)

I have eight toons that are level 85. I won’t be talking about all of them, but several will come into the discussion, even though this BAST specifically asks for mains. Since I like to run my mouth (so to speak), I’ll take that liberty here – I just can’t help myself.

Mushan – hunter (main) – Leatherworking, Blacksmithing

Mushan is a max level LW/BS, and each secondary profession is also maxed with the exception of Archaeology, which I’ve only ever touched on my druid (who is max level in all of her profs).

The Blacksmithing portion of that line was something that came along later – in other words, he didn’t start off as a LW/BS. Rather, he was what I believe a hunter will generally be, and that is a Skinner and Leatherworker who is also skilled in Fishing (and should also be skilled in outdoor Cooking, although that distinction is not necessarily available to us in WoW).

After I had been 85 for a while, I leveled my mage, paladin, and then my warrior to 85. The warrior is a Blacksmith and Miner, and was my first toon to reach 525 with those professions. I tend to be someone who knows the merits of each profession for the most part, but I hadn’t necessarily made the jump to ‘min-maxing’ with professions on any one character before Cataclysm. While I certainly made sure the professions themselves were maxed on my most-played toons, and I applied their benefits properly (extra +Agi to wrists for LWs, for instance), every single character had a gathering profession, which made them all fairly self-reliant.

I made Mushan a LW, even though my druid is a LW as well, for a few reasons: 1) I’m one of the three people total who actually enjoy Leatherworking (which many people view as the worst prof); 2) I feel hunters naturally gravitate toward leatherworking as a skill that complements their main job (hunting and killing prey, and then putting every part of the animal to good use); and 3) I already understood the aforementioned benefits of being a LW from a +Agi perspective.

However, after I leveled Blacksmithing on Droignon, something happened that is completely typical of me: I fell in love with the extra sockets.


I’ve always loved sockets. So much fun to be able to add whatever you want to your gear! Of course, I’ve seen people do stupid stuff with their sockets (like the max-level hunter on my server who has had a Misty Chrysoprase (+5 Crit, +4 Spirit) in one of his/her yellow sockets since 4.1, at least). And of course, for min-max purposes, there are restrictions on what you should prioritize (like Agility for hunters). Still, there’s something about socketing a gem that pleases me a little too much.

Anyway, after re-awakening to the joy of even more sockets on my warrior, I decided that I needed those sockets on my hunter.


So my hunter is a Blacksmith now instead of a Skinner. And he has +100 Agility from that now, instead of the +80 Crit or whatever you get from Skinning. And I’m very, very happy with the way all those sockets look on his armory.

I know, crazy, right?

Silly, at least.

But it also means more DPS, and I love that. Even if the fact that my hunter is a Blacksmith doesn’t make as much sense as being a Skinner – although, to be fair, a smithing-hunter is not necessarily outside the realm of possibility, when one thinks about it.

Being a BS on my hunter is one of the few things that I don’t necessarily love about my hunter from a fantasy standpoint. But I do love those extra sockets, so I’m generally glad I changed it. I don’t know how I’ll feel about that when I have to level both crafting professions up to 600, without the benefits of self-gathering, but I suppose I’ll live – and I’ll like all the extra Agility in MoP!

Anacrusa – druid (main alt) – Leatherworking, Skinning

Anacrusa was my first 70, my first 80, my first 85. But she wasn’t my first 60. That was a hunter by the name of Bloodheim, which I abandoned before Wrath came out and deleted in 2009 at the tender age of 63. At this point, I generally sucked at everything in the game, and the hunter was no exception. I hated mana as a hunter resource, hated managing it, and just didn’t enjoy the toon after a while. I eventually got used to mana when I made Mushan, but I really enjoyed the switch to focus, and have never looked back.

Anyway, Bloodheim was a LW/SK. And when I gave him up for the druid back in mid-07, I chose to make Anacrusa a LW/SK also, since I could make some of my own gear, and since I enjoy LW, as I said before. But I don’t really feel that it fits best with my character from a fantasy or story standpoint.

If my druid fit my idea of what a druid is, she would be an Herbalist first. She would plant, nurse, and harvest herbs as part of the nature concept that is a large part of druidism. I wasn’t thinking about that when I made her, though, so now she’s a bloodthirsty killer who wields skinning knife with her bloody paw.

She would also be a healer (if I were actually good at that), and she would likely be…

I don’t know that I feel that Alchemy is necessarily a great fit for any class that isn’t a warlock, priest, mage or, maybe, death knight, but I can’t think of another profession that is really better. Maybe Inscription, which is tame – you write magical glyphs and tomes and so on. Eh. But yeah, while I think that Alchemy is a great fit story-wise for mages and warlocks in particular, it can be argued that it can be an acceptable fit for classes that can heal, so from that perspective, my druid – were I to make her again – might be an Alchemist/Herbalist. However, like I said, she is a bloodthirsty killer who uses her kills to make stuff out of.

Ah well. I enjoy it, and it’s made me a lot of gold. I enjoy skinning, too. It’s nice to be able to feel like I’m using everything I take off the beasts (and yetis) that I kill.

Droignon – warrior (alt) – Blacksmithing, Mining

Yeah. This one is – while not perfect – very nice both from the standpoint that he’s a tank (extra Stam, etc.) and because he can make his own gear and weapons and harvest his own materials. Additionally, he’s a big strong warrior, so he can carry all of those rocks around with him, no problem. Love it.

Theophilos – mage (alt) – Tailoring, Jewelcrafting

If I go with what I said earlier, I would say that Theophilos should be two of the following: Enchanter, Alchemist, Scribe, Jewelcrafter, Tailor, and maybe Herbalist – in order from most fitting to least.

In reality, he’s a JC because I wanted to have a JC among my stable of toons. He’s a Tailor because that’s an easy connection to make. But if I had to choose again, and didn’t need any professions for practical purposes, for story purposes I’d make him an Enchanter/Tailor, weaving spells into cloth and vellum to make magical items for himself and others.

But it’s not a toon I’m as dedicated to, in general, as I am to the first three on this list. So practical wins out.

Abenadari – paladin (alt) – Alchemy, Herbalism

So here we are, with my paladin, who I actually created before my druid, doing the jobs that I currently envision would be most appropriate for my druid. I wouldn’t think that a paladin, beacon of light that one is, would be getting all down with nature and chemicals. If I were to choose again, I would probably make her some kind of combination of Scribe, Blacksmith, Enchanter.

But she’s my max level Alchemist, and because of that she still exists. I don’t feel like leveling Alchemy again. If I do level another Alchemist, she may go, because I don’t love playing paladins, but I don’t anticipate that happening in the foreseeable future. Besides, I would have a tough time deleting her anyway, for Transmute cooldown reasons.


At any rate, that’s probably too much info about some of the characters I play the most, their professions, why I chose them, and how well I think their professions fit with the characters themselves.

Above all, I have professions because I use them, and sometimes they fit better with the toons than others. Between my eight 85s, I have every profession covered except for Engineering and Enchanting (and my girlfriend is an Enchanter, so that’s effectively covered, too). I’ll likely get to those eventually. I have some toons – like my other hunter Ghilleadh – who are simply gatherers, because that is easy and profitable, and I have less problems with resources than I used to simply because I play those toons and gather as I go.

The only toon where I have redundant crafting professions is Mushan – since I already have a LW and a BS, seperately – and that’s because he’s also the only toon that I’ve chosen professions for based primarily on min-maxing and DPS.

But yes, if I went into the game fresh, with the knowledge I have now, I might choose my profession-toon alignment differently, because I become immersed in my characters to varying levels, and professions are certainly a part of that.

Thanks for the great Shared Topic, Effraeti!

– – –

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!

At times like these, if you’re like me, you do weird stuff

A couple of weeks ago, I started a post entitled “Time to level a new toon?”

It was beginning to feel like it was time.  Other than Sunday night raids, there has been nothing going on.  Virtually the entire guild has been offline almost 100% of the time that I’m logged in, all of my friends are playing Diablo III, and not much is happening elsewhere either.  Many other blogs have been mostly quiet as well.

So I started thinking that perhaps it was time to start a new toon.

I faced a couple of questions about what I wanted to do.  Did I want to try some type of Unconventional Leveling process with this next character?  Which class did I want to level?  What race did I want to play?  Would I finally take a Horde toon to max level with this one?

Well, here’s what happened.

My first inclination is usually to make a hunter.  However, I already leveled a hunter in Cataclysm, and I want to level another in Mists of Pandaria from scratch.  I don’t know which race it will be, but I’ll definitely make one.  I decided not to burn myself out on hunters now when it’s likely I’ll want to start another one before the end of the year – and because hunters are my favorite class, that would be a no-no.

I have a strong desire to make another warrior.  I love playing my prot warrior, and it would be so much fun to make another one.  There’s nothing quite so visceral as the feeling of physicality you can get from playing a protection warrior*: the toe-to-toe combat, shield slams, clanging of weapons, and so on.  However, I decided to wait on that for a little while longer.

*It’s similar with a bear, but not exactly the same.

I’ve also got a lingering desire to finally make a successful deathknight.  But I just took my rogue through Outland and Northrend fairly recently, so I don’t want to do that again already (not that I mind Outland and Northrend as much as many others do).  And, truthfully, DKs are low on that list of priorities.

There are other classes, of course.  I have two druids, and no desire to make another.  I’m not really interested in playing a warlock or priest, or another paladin.  I didn’t like playing a shaman, and deleted the one I took into the 40s early this spring.

And I came to a realization after I finished leveling my rogue, and that was that I don’t like having toons taking up character slots when I don’t really love playing the class.  My paladin can do this, because I’m just not going to level Alchemy again, and I don’t actually hate playing her (pretty much exclusively for questing).  And I like her name.  But the rogue is skinner / herbalist, and a rogue, and I just never feel inclined to play her when there’s so much more I could be doing with any of my other toons.  So I’ve decided that I’m not going to make a different class just to play a different class.

So I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, and so that post has not been written.

– – –

However, this week as I did JC dailies (and so on) on my mage, I came to the conclusion that I really don’t like my mage that much.

It’s not that I don’t like playing him; on the contrary, I’ve gotten so that I don’t completely stink at playing him.  He’s done Raid Finder a few times, has about a 380 ilvl, and when I have played him, I’ve generally enjoyed him.

What I don’t like, however, is the way he looks.

He’s a human male.  Enough said?

I also don’t really like his name.  Oh, I liked Theophilos when I made him – it sounds like a mage name, particularly for a human.  It sounds like an Archmage Antonidas-ish name.  But to be honest, that doesn’t translate for me any more – by that, I mean that it sort of feels out of place in the game, for what I’m doing, if that makes any sense at all.

So here’s what I decided to do late last week, and here’s where people may think I’m crazy:

I decided to level a new mage.  He’s a night elf, with a different name (obviously).  He’s a JC/Tailor, just like Theophilos.  He uses the same UI, and will play the same specs (likely Fire/Frost), and I’m fairly sure that I’m going to like him better than Theophilos.

The plan is to level him relatively quickly – certainly before 5.0, and hopefully well before that – and have his professions maxed and have a fair amount of JC tokens and all that jazz.  And then when I get to the point where the new mage has surpassed the old one, where anything relevant that the old mage can do (profession-wise) can also be done by the new one, I will delete Theophilos.  (This – deleting – will probably happen after MoP is in full swing, btw.)

Crazy, right?

That’s the idea, anyway.  We’ll see if it happens.  He’s 31 right now.

– – –

I said earlier in this post that I would not level Alchemy again.  But I’m going to level Jewelcrafting, which is also annoying and costly to level.  So I’m insane, right?  Possibly.  However, I’m satisfied with my paladin.  I don’t love her, but she worked hard on Alchemy for a long time, and I know I’m not going to do much with her other than level to 90 and provide me with a toon with Alchemy.  On the other hand, I’ll likely play my mage more, and I’d like to do so with a toon that I enjoy looking at in battle and around town.  (Transmog definitely plays into this… what can I say!)  Leveling JC again isn’t actually going to cost me a whole lot of gold, and I have plenty of gold anyway, so I’m deciding to use it for something I enjoy.

That’s what it’s all about anyway, is it not?

– – –

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc.  Comments are welcome!

Lower bids, slightly higher buyouts – why?

This may reveal me to be a complete noob, but I’m curious:

Why do some people list consumable items on the Auction House with starting bids that are lower than buyout prices?

By “consumable items,” I’m referring to anything that is a “use once and it’s gone” good.  These items include gems, enchants, food/flasks/potions, belt buckles, and raw materials – you buy it, you use it, and you buy more when you need more.  In contrast, there are gear pieces, weapons, rare mounts/pets, and other hard-to-get items, but I’m not talking about these types of things in this post.

(Or something.)

For the past several months, I’ve made the bulk of my money from gem sales.  That’s not all that I’ve sold, but it represents the majority of my income.

My server is a fairly busy one when it comes to AH competition.  At least, it is on the Alliance side; I can’t speak for the Horde.  Anyway, there are a number of people there who take the AH very seriously, and competition is usually strong for sales of what I refer to as consumable items.  The gem market is included in this.

I find it odd, though, when I see gems listed at “bid: 66g 99s 99c, buyout: 68g 99s 99c” with six of them listed, all in a row.  I see this all the time.

As a buyer, I can’t imagine looking at that listing and saying to myself, “Well, well. I think I might just place a bid on one of these gems!”

Generally, if a player needs a gem, he or she simply buys the gem that has the lowest buyout.  Such a player is not going to “wait, and hope” that his bid will win.  After all, the AH lists all of the same items in order from lowest buyout to highest by default.  Due to several factors – the abundance of gold in the game (relative to prices), the fact that these items are not necessarily rare (they can be produced all day as long as there are raw materials available), and the fact that the player usually plans to use the item right away – the lower bid price seems superfluous to me.

If someone is selling the Reins of Poseidus, I understand having a lower bid value.  But for consumable goods, I don’t.

As I said at the beginning of this post, I’m not an AH expert.  I’m a smart guy, and I have more than enough gold at this point (and the confidence that I can make plenty more), but I don’t play a pro AH game by any stretch of the imagination.  So perhaps I’m missing something obvious.

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Some thoughts on the Black Market Auction House and the economy in Mists of Pandaria

One of the hottest topics in the WoW universe this week – not named Diablo 3, anyway – is the Black Market Auction House.  If you haven’t heard about it, click the link (as well as this one) and check out what MMO-Champion has to tell us about it thus far.

Black Market Auction House (BMAH)

The items in the BMAH haven’t been finalized by Blizzard yet.  To take that idea further, I think there’s a chance that the pool of items that can go up for auction will be a living one; that is, I wouldn’t be surprised if there is an announcement that “[Item Such-and-such] will be added to the BMAH pool for Patch 5.2.” (Etc.)  This will, of course, elicit a variety of responses from players, from those who are upset that a rare mount is able to be bid on, to those who are delighted that they can now bid on something that is very difficult to get (due to RNG, having been removed from the game, etc.) and different points and issues in between.

Let me say how I feel about it.

I think it’s a fun new thing that they’re bringing to WoW.  It may give certain people a reason to continue playing or to come back: some people love mounts, or old rare gear, or old unobtainable recipes.  It is a fresh feature in a veteran game that is fighting to maintain subscribers.

This is what Blizzard does, and while they are far from perfect, it’s evident that they’re constantly trying to improve the game.  The BMAH is like pet battles, account-wide achievements / mounts / pets, Lorewalkers, a new playable race or class, new zones, better graphics, transmogrification, 64-bit, Raid Finder, Dungeon Guides and maps, improvements to “Report Spam” in your chat window, revamped and improved armory, and so many other features like these.  What do they have in common?  They’re all attempts to improve the game, to make the game more fun, and/or to keep people interested in what’s going on in the World of Warcraft.

I’m glad they’re doing it.  I have no qualms about it.  Will I bid on anything?  At this point, I’m inclined to think that I probably won’t.  I love my transmog, and I enjoy certain races and mounts* and gear more than others, but I’m not interested enough in what looks to be a source consisting largely of vanity items to pay tens or hundreds of thousands of gold for those items.  But I still think it’s a good thing.

*Ground mounts, mainly.  When I’m not flying around as a stormcrow on my druid, I’m using either a gryphon or hippogryph on every single one of my other toons.  Big flying mounts annoy the crap out of me.

This isn’t to say that I’m one of those who considers himself “rich” with 50K gold, nor am I anywhere near gold-capped.  However, I have plenty. of. gold.  Early in Patch 4.2, when the Ranseur of Hatred was selling for a ton of gold, and I wasn’t raiding yet, and I had about half the gold I have now, I dropped around 40K on two of them (druid and hunter) and considered myself to have gotten a major steal.  And those items got heavy use – particularly on my hunter.

That’s the sort of thing I generally spend my gold on: items that will help me perform better, like reasonably priced weapons or other gear, enchants, things like that.

However, the BMAH will be a big hit, I’m sure of it.  I think it’s a good thing.  I don’t think it’s part of some conspiracy, or horrible because it takes away from whatever gear or mounts people earned back in the day, or whatever.


Gold sinks and the economy in MoP

One of the prevalent topics regarding the BMAH is that part of Blizzard’s motivation for it is to introduce another gold sink for MoP.

I think that’s a correct assumption.  Blizzard already has one potential gold sink in the works, the “Something Expensive” –  currently named Golden Sink according to Wowhead – which is an ingredient in the new MoP Jewelcrafting mounts.  The Golden Sink currently costs 25,000 gold, and while it may have a different name and price come MoP, the reasons for its cost – mainly, for the purposes of rarity and to pull money out of the economy – are fairly obvious.

However, the question is not whether the BMAH and the Golden Sink are gold sinks, but rather whether they will be enough to stave off the massive rate of inflation that we’ve experienced over the past several years.

My opinion?  No, they’re not.  They’re steps in the right direction, but not enough.  I don’t actually know what would be enough, other than maybe making a few pieces of epic BiS gear, for each spec, that are only purchasable from a vendor for 100K gold apiece (not won, not BoE, not dropped from bosses).  And I can’t see Blizzard doing that, because it makes gold too large of a factor in end-game raiding.

No, there are two reasons why I don’t think inflation will change much.

1.  First of all – for example – have you seen how much quests are rewarding?  I’ve only seen one quest screenshot so far where I’ve actually looked at the gold reward.  It was 60 gold (give or take some silver).

Now, when I leveled Anacrusa during the first week of Cataclysm, I netted well over 5K gold just from questing and vendoring trash, after reforging and paying repairs at each level change.  Level 84 quests in Cata averaged – judging by many of the dailies I do nowadays – 16-17g per.  If the 60g per level 89 quest is anywhere close to an accurate comparative in MoP, we could be looking at anywhere between a 100%-300% increase in the amount of gold we gross just from leveling.  This doesn’t include any AH activity, just quests minus expenses.

Right there, you’re looking at the following: for those who level primarily through questing, 10K is probably the lowest amount of gold each character will make.

There are, of course, variables.  Do you level your crafting profession as quickly as possible?  That’s going to cost you.  Do you only pick up gold and usable items from mobs, and leave grays on the corpses?  That’s not generally a wise choice (gold-wise).  But for the most part, I expect that leveling alone will bring you a nice chunk of change – and a much larger chunk than leveling in Cataclysm brought.

So gold will not be harder to get, and therefore AH prices will not necessarily go down much, if at all, relative to players’ incomes.

2.  Secondly, the number of people who play the AH game to the gold cap, as compared to those who will bid on such items as will likely be available on the BMAH, is not a one-to-one ratio.

One of the more prominent WoW gold-making writers out there, Euripides of WoW Insider’s Gold Capped column, has said on a couple of occasions on the Hunting Party Podcast that, while he’s not interested in transmog or other vanity aspects of the game, one of the reasons he likes making so much gold is so that he can purchase BoEs and other performance-necessary items without worrying about cost.  He is someone who I can’t really see bidding for vanity items on the BMAH, and I would be willing to bet that a significant portion – not necessarily the majority, but a prominent number – of the AH mavens around WoW will not make as much use of it as some people think.

I play on a relatively high-population server, which means that the AH is fairly competitive and prices aren’t that bad (but also aren’t rock bottom), but there are a significant number of people who play the AH fairly heavily, and I know some of them.  Most of them are people who prioritize the ability to buy gear without worry – and the AH meta game – to be way more important than bidding on vanity items.  This doesn’t mean that someone like Euripides would never spend money on something like that, but it’s not like every single “rich” player will be in the active bidding pool for each of the items – if they’re BoP – thereby excluding the have-nots from a chance at something fun.

The point that I’m trying to make is this: the amount of gold leaving the economy via gold sinks will not be enough to offset the amount of gold that will continue to be generated via the usual means – which is akin to printing money out of little more than time, really.  Therefore, I don’t expect inflation to be affected much.

Anyway, to summarize all of this into something short and simple, I don’t think the economy will change all that much.  Everyone should have a relatively easy time making some start-up cash from leveling, at the very least.  Unless Blizzard changes the gold cap again – and it looks like they won’t for the time being – people won’t be able to make an astronomical amount of gold.  However, people who know how to make gold quickly will still be able to do so, and they will.  Since there will still be more gold coming into the economy, in spite of the BMAH and the JC mounts, prices won’t be drastically lower than they are now, so comparative (Cata-for-MoP, blue-for-blue, purple-for-purple, etc.) mats / enchants / gems / gear / vanity items will sell for similar or proportionally higher prices.

Final thoughts… for now

I love that Blizz is adding these gold sinks in the next expansion, although I don’t think it’s the most important reason they’re adding them.  Ultimately, the BMAH and JC mounts are, first and foremost, about making the game fun.  The gold sink idea is good, and necessary, but buyers looking forward to a near future of low-cost mats and BoEs as a result of gold sinks are likely to be disappointed, as far as I can tell.

I could be wrong, though.  We’ll see.

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Mists of Pandaria: Deciding how to level, and which toon to level first

For the majority of my experience playing WoW, there has been a hierarchy to my assortment of characters.

Decisions, decisions…

Once I began to enjoy playing my druid back in Burning Crusade, she became my “main.”  When Wrath of the Lich King was released, Anacrusa was my only level 70 toon* – followed by my paladin at around 56, and no other characters that still exist today – and she became my first level 80 character as well.  When Cataclysm dropped, I had three level 80 characters: Anacrusa, Mushan, and my paladin, Abenadari.  I still considered Ana to be my main, and finished leveling her to 85 less than four days after launch.  I then proceeded to level Mushan, and, eventually, Abenadari.  I have since leveled five others to max, but they are all either new characters in Cata (warrior, mage, hunter alt, rogue) or were just there from before (druid).

*I used to be horrible at this game, and that included leveling.  I started playing a month or so after BC released, and in the early fall of 2008, one of my co-workers bet me that I couldn’t get her to 70 before Wrath dropped.  I was pretty happy to meet that challenge with more than a month to spare… but, yeah.  A year and a half to level a toon to 70.  It was pretty bad!

With the upcoming release of Mists of Pandaria, I’m considering more and more the idea of bucking tradition and changing up the order in which I level my characters – or, at least, in changing which toon gets to play through first.

For some people, this is a non-issue.  You play the character that’s the most fun first, or you start with the character you want to get gear for soonest.  Or you stick with tradition and start with the toon you’ve always leveled first.  Or, you start from scratch and roll a new class or race first, because that’s the new and exciting thing to do.

All of these scenarios are perfectly fine.  Depending on your goals and play style, you can level any way you like.

I personally anticipate some changes to my priorities with the release of MoP, and they will likely affect the order in which I level my toons.  What follow are some of the things I am taking into consideration as I inch closer to making a decision.

The profession quandary, part one

All of these characters are on the same server, are Alliance, and have maxed professions.

  • Anacrusa: Leatherworking/Skinning
  • Mushan: Leatherworking/Blacksmithing
  • Abenadari: Alchemy/Herbalism
  • Droignon: Mining/Blacksmithing
  • Ghilleadh: Skinning/Mining
  • Theophilos: Jewelcrafting/Tailoring
  • Mydnas: Inscription/Herbalism
  • Avacrusa: Skinning/Herbalism

Of these toons, I have three skinners, three herbalists, and two miners.  I have six with crafting professions, and two who are just gatherers.  Now, the gathering professions on most of these toons are not optimal from a min-max standpoint, but that doesn’t matter to me.  I have only one character – Mushan – who is anywhere near optimized, with LW for the sweet bracer enchant and BS for the two extra sockets.

Now here’s my issue relating to the question of “who first?”

If I level Anacrusa first, I have a built-in way to gather materials for Leatherworking for either her or Mushan.  Now, the experts in gold-making would consider me a complete failure for even considering that train of thought: you should sell your mats at insanely high prices on the Auction House during the first couple of weeks to take advantage of all the suckers who feel the need to level their crafting professions right away.  I’m not saying they’re wrong; I’m just saying that leveling my Skinning and Leatherworking while leveling my toon is something I’ve done in the past without spending all kinds of gold on my own mats.

However, the situation I’m considering – leveling Mushan first – would both take me out of the AH frenzy with regard to selling leather AND leave me with a level 90 toon who has no mats for either of his crafting professions.

I know that there are people who spend the first few days of an expansion farming mats and making huge sums of gold on the AH.  This is something I considered doing for about a half-second before canning the idea.  While people like Euripides get all tingly playing the AH meta game, the idea of spending the first several days of an expansion that we’ve been anticipating for year or so farming mats (in brutal competition with other farmers), in lieu of experiencing the discovery and leveling portions of new content, is anathema to me.  Leveling has its own issues with bottlenecking and so on, but not like farming.

Hey, I think I just convinced myself that leveling Anacrusa for Mushan’s leather is not a priority!

The profession quandary, part two

That being said, I do enjoy making money on the Auction House.

While this discussion isn’t very relevant to how I will decide who to level first – the choice is either Anacrusa or Mushan, end of story – it is a factor in my opening-weeks in-game strategy.  Currently, I make most of my money selling gems and transmutes, with a few other miscellaneous crafted items (leg enchants, flasks/potions, etc.) coming into play.  I’m not one of the gold-capped, but I am sitting in a very good place right now, gold-wise, and I will likely be taking advantage of the initial buying frenzy in ways that won’t require me to farm MoP mats right out of the gate.

Will I sacrifice a lot of gold-earning potential that way? Yes.  Is that going to hurt me?  I don’t think so.

However, things are different for me than they were when Cata launched.  Back then, I had two LW/Skinners (Mushan dropped Skinning for BS later), one Alch/Herbalist, and one Scribe/Herbalist, so it wasn’t too difficult to level my crafting professions along the way and eventually get stuff into the AH.  At the time, I was mainly selling glyphs anyway, and old mats worked fine for that.

Now, though, as MoP gets into full swing those first several weeks, I will have** to feed ore to my Jewelcrafter for gems and my hunter for Blacksmithing (if it’s necessary to do so to get the new sockets if there are any), herbs to my Alchemist and Inscriptionist, leather (and other mats) to my hunter for Leatherworking, and so on.  These aren’t Day One or Week One priorities, but I will have to figure out how I want to handle leveling those toons and/or professions, how much gold I’ll want to spend, and so on.

**all things being relative

Because I do want to continue to make a modest amount of gold on the AH.  I also enjoy professions to some extent, to the point where I like using my mats to level my crafting, and use crafted items for myself, because I find the experience a little more immersive that way.

I think it’s a good balance for me.

The tradition quandary

Tradition falls squarely in the Anacrusa camp, as I indicated in the opening paragraphs, and, like I wrote last week, letting go of a main can be difficult, particularly if you’ve been attached to him or her for a long time.  However, I have a feeling that tradition and character attachment might not be enough of a draw for me this time.  Nothing is permanent, and I shouldn’t stick with something because it’s what I’ve always done if it isn’t what I really feel is the best thing to do.

The raiding priority quandary

Ok, this isn’t really a quandary; it’s more of an acceptance of change.  At the end of Wrath, I had not yet changed raiding mains, and didn’t intend to.  However, I’m not even sure if I will use my druid competitively in MoP (yes, it’s becoming even less likely than it was in that post), but it’s almost certain that I will be raiding on Mushan.  While there may be a ramp up period of a few weeks before my guild starts to raid – I don’t know for sure, because I wasn’t in this guild at the start of Cata – my number one priority in the weeks following launch will be getting him ready for raiding.

The awesomesauce quandary

Also not really a quandary.  Leveling as a hunter in MoP will be totally awesome, just like it was in Cata.  On the other side of the coin, the idea of leveling as a druid of any stripe in MoP makes me about as excited as watching According to Jim.  That is, not very excited.  Since I’ll be looking to really enjoy the leveling experience, I’d prefer to play Mushan.

The decision

I’m leaning toward opening Mists of Pandaria by leveling Mushan.  Writing this post has helped me more clearly define how I feel about any issues that I might have had with that.  I think it’s time to cast tradition aside in this case.

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How will stat priorities change in Mists of Pandaria?

From the latest bit of datamining on, we get to see some of the Jewelcrafting gems that are likely to be in the game when Mists of Pandaria launches.  I was very interested to see the proportionality between primary and secondary stats on these new gems.

In their current incarnations, with the exception of Stamina, primary and secondary stats are proportional on gems of equal rarity.  For instance, using the Cataclysm blue-quality gems, a Delicate Inferno Ruby has +40 Agility, and a Smooth Amberjewel has +40 Critical Strike Rating.  For DPS specs, this makes gems with secondary stats – in whole or in part – inferior to red gems, since reds give us the greatest benefit by far.  There are exceptions, of course, particularly when there is a favorable socket bonus (+30 Agility, for instance) rewarding us for choosing, say, an orange gem such as a Deadly Ember Topaz (+20 Agility, +20 Crit Rating).

Looking to the near future, the amount of secondary stats could possibly be increasing by 50% on gems in MoP – which puts secondary stats in line with Stamina in that regard – as evidenced by these examples:

(Red Gem)

(Yellow Gem)

Here, the difference is apparent: yellow (550) Jewelcrafting gems will have 160 more (+50%) of their stats than will their red counterparts.

What I could extrapolate from this is that the proportionality will follow for blue-quality gems as well, but that doesn’t seem to be the case just yet.  Professions are not finished yet, and has what looks like an incomplete list of gems with disturbingly inharmonious values.

So I won’t do that.

However, IF this proportionality comes to pass for gems, it could serve to alter the way we think about both gemming and stat priorities in MoP.

Currently, for hunters, Agility is king on non-ranged-weapon gear.  From personal experience, I know that this is the same for cat druids, while Strength is king for plate DPS, as is Intellect for Balance druids and other casters.  This situation has had an affect on multiple areas of the game, from gemming, enchanting and gear choices to the Auction House, where red gems have routinely sold for much more gold than other colors throughout the expansion.

What if Blizzard is changing that?  If stat values remain relatively the same but our gemming options change, we may have to look closer at the values – both performance- and gold-wise – of gems as we make choices about how to gem our gear.  We don’t have a concrete gear list yet, so we don’t know what socket bonuses will look like.  But as things stand today, that MoP orange gem looks a lot more attractive, relative to a red gem, than today’s orange gems do.*

*And I’m not just talking about how much larger the stats are than the Cataclysm ones – that’s always a given.

Additionally, I wonder if there is going to be much of a difference in how stats are prioritized for various specs.  If we see anything that tightens the gap between primary and secondary stat values, a change to gems such as the one we see on the JC-only gems above could give players a little more choice when it comes to decking out their gear, in addition to fixing the lopsidedness of the gem market.

I’m not saying this will happen – we have to wait and see – but seeing these JC gems certainly got me thinking.

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