Monday, December 20, 2010

Archaeology 101

I'm having great fun with Archaeology at the moment, and I bet most of you have tried it out and probably come even further than I have. I still thought I'd take a moment to talk about it, since it works quite differently from other professions.

Archaeology is trained just like any other profession by a trainer in one of the big cities and has the same skill values, aka 1-75, 76-150 and so on up to 525. The big thing that differs archeology from other professions is that the material gathered - fragments - are personalized. No one else but you can get to them. This gives archaeology (hate spelling that word btw) less of a farming feeling than the other professions, eventhough it is actually more about farming than any other profession.

I don't recommend anyone below level 60 to start skilling archaeology, since it will take you into any zone in the old Vanilla world (don't know about Northrend and Outlands). To be able to dig in any zone without being killed by the local fauna, you'd want to outlevel them. As a commenter pointed out, it will only take you to areas of your own level or below (being max level I had no idea ^^). I still highly recommend having a flying mount for this, but I suppose that goes for any kind of questing and/or gathering.

Zones & Digging
When bringing up your map you'll see little shovels scattered across it. These indicate zones to dig in. Each continent (Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms at first)  has four zones and each zone has three sets of fragments. Everytime you've digged out a zone, a new one is added somewhere on the map. At first you only get a few fragments per dig, later on you get between 3-5 (and eventually maybe even more). The amount of fragments needed to complete an item increases too however. To find a fragment you have to enter a zone and press the survey button. This will make you place on out of three different survey scopes, indicating closeness and direction of a fragment.
The red scope means your still far away. This also has a pretty high fail level, meaning it will only show you in the general direction. In my experience it seems to be about 50/50, which means it will basically just indicate whether you are south/north/west/east of an item and not much more.
The yellow scope means you're pretty close, but still got some 40-60 yards to go. Also more reliable.
The green scope means the fragment is nearby, usually between 5-20 yards. Highly reliable. You actually have to stand within some 5 yards of a fragment to unearth it.

Find the fragment in the picture!
As mentioned, what you gather as an archaeologist are called fragments. The vast majority will be fragments that are automatically added to the item you are currently finishing. This means you can only acquire them from farming digging zones. The fragments you gather can belong to one of 10 different types. These are spread out lore wise, which means that if you are surveying in an old night elf ruin, you'll find night elf fragments. You'll occasionally get a more rare green quality fragment, which is boe and an item put into your bags. These are sellable, and can be found on the auction house. These fragments belong to certain types, just as the regular fragments do. They count as 12 fragments in one, and can be added to any item of that type (aka night elf to night elf).

In the beginning you'll mostly find fragments belonging either to the troll, night elf, dwarf or fossil type, simply because those people are common (and old) in Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms. The first 75ish skills can be had just by digging. Later on you'll only get skill from completing items. Some people therefore recommend to not complete any items until you reach this limit. It's up to you really, it won't make a difference to whether you'll get that cool, really rare item in the end anyway. I heard that digging zones in Uldum are especially rare, so if you ever happen to get one there you should dig it out!

Once you've hit the limit of getting skill through digging, you'll generally need about 35 fragments to complete an item, and as mentioned you get about 3-5 fragments per dig, and 5 skills to solve an item. To this can be added the green quality fragments to further boost item completion, if wanted. Simply grab the green fragment and drag it into the little indentation underneath the bar. Not all items have this option, and some can have several indentations. Whether or not you'll want to save the green quality fragments for later or not is also up to you. Yet again I hardly think it'll make much difference when it comes to finding rare items or not.
The thing about archaeology is that you always know ahead which item you're completing. So you don't just gather a set of fragments and get an item on random, instead you get an item at random and gather fragments to complete it. The difference might seem minor, but it is a really smart way for Blizzard to get you hooked. Occasionally you'll get a rare item, which requires alot more fragments to complete, and you'll have a big motivation to complete the item so you can get that rare item. If you didn't know which item you'd get until you completed it, I think people would stop digging more easily. Evil Blizzard!


  1. I'm really loving archaeology. I'm working on my second elven rare right now, some druid and priest thingy. My first was the Highborne Soul Mirror. I love those silly toys :

  2. @Shawndra
    Yeah, completely unecessary, and that is exactly why I love them. Gotta catch em' all!

  3. "I don't recommend anyone below level 60 to start skilling archaeology, since it will take you into any zone in the old Vanilla world (don't know about Northrend and Outlands)."

    I'm pretty sure you'll only get dig sites spawned in zones at or below your level (yellow mobs?) - but they can be either factions. Eg, my 30-something Undead Archaeologist was getting sites in Northern Strangelthorn (when I'd never been there), Darkshire (no Horde presence), and Arathi Highlands.

    They may not be convenient, but they shouldn't be in places you don't have a chance of accessing due to mob level.

  4. @Tracey
    Ah goodie. That just leaves the flying mount recommendation then!

  5. And I'm sure not going to argue against having a flying mount to dig. I spend FAR more time running around the continent than actually digging. Higher level characters would have a better chance at getting convenient zones (maybe...), too.