Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Save the mid-level craftings!

I am currently skilling Blacksmithing on my main warrior, and boy does that cost money. I have skilled every other craft, except Scribe, by now and BS is by far the most expensive. Why is this so and what can be done about it?

I don't mind things being expensive, it can be a really good way to get money out of the system. Like the prices for flying, different mounts and so on. But the reason for skilling BS being so expensive is another one completely. Supply and demand. Demand is extremely high on mid-level material, but supply is extremely low. Materials like mithril are literally becoming worth their weight in saffron. On my server, 4g a piece (!) is considered cheap nowadays. When I have to craft something I usually have to use around 10-20 mithril bars meaning each craft can easily cost up to 100g.

There are several reasons for this development. First of all Blizzard have taken off their soft gloves when it comes to bots and chinese gold farmers. They took out their ban hammer and banned thousands of farmer accounts. This isn't a bad thing. This is a really good thing. I used to gank farmers whenever I saw them. But there is no denying that this has had a huge effect on the WoW-economy. Suddenly we no longer have a steady supply of them materials that no one wants to grind. Because that is the second issue. People spend less and less time leveling and thus less and less time gathering those mid-level materials. I have spent some time gathering mithril ores when I just couldn't bring myself to pay 7g a piece for them (not an unusual price at all on my server) but it easily takes an hour to gather a stack, that is just not how I want to spend my time playing!

I am no expert farmer, far from. I don't even check the best routes to follow and whatnot before starting my gathering run, so I am aware that you can muster more than 1 stack per hour if you know how to go about it. But although some extent of farming always will be a part of this game, right now it is taking too big a part of the game.

And who is left farming with all the bots gone? The Ferengi-players. If you're unfamiliar with the Ferengi, it's an alien race from Star Trek that would easily sell their own mom for a nice deal. Money, and making money, is their sole purpose in life. And the only ones who feel the time worthwhile to farm mid-level materials are the Ferengi-players who then take ridiculous amounts of money for their wares. In one way I understand them. If people actually pay that price then why shouldn't they demand it? But Blizzard have put crafters in a desperate position and some people know how to make a buck from these desperate people.

I won't weep many tears for the rich 80 with 100k gold who has to spend some dough on leveling his 45th characters profession. In fact this is a great way for new players to make some cash from those gold hoggers. But there are other casualties of this war, casualties that I actually feel really sorry for.

Some new players can make money from these desperate players, but you can forget that they'll ever afford skilling this profession themselves. Making it so that a profession requires huge sums of investments will scare off nearly everyone who tries to skill this profession and we'll be stuck with 90% alchemists instead, and no one to make us those blacksmithing items. This smells Vanilla to me. Back then finding a decent blacksmither was a pain in the ass, because it was extremely expensive and difficult to get all the nice recipes. You basically had to find someone who was sponsored by their guild. Well now it's extremely expensive just to level past mithril.

Because a mid-level item costs 100g to craft, you won't ever see it for less than that on AH. Actually you probably won't see it on AH at all. That means there is a range of crafted items between level 30-60 that won't ever be put into use because they're just not worth what people want for them. Blacksmithing on mid-levels has become completely obsolete, not because the items aren't any good but because they cost too much to craft! The same goes for professions like Alchemy, Engineering and JC and Tailoring to some extent. In fact many crafted mid-levels items have become really good since Blizzard made an overhaul of stats. Crafted lowbie items are among the first to present Armor Penetration and Expertise, for example.

One could imagine that once the item has been crafted, the crafter would rather get rid of it for a low price than no price at all. Sure, but the Blacksmithing market isn't the only one affected by the mid-level material shortage. Enchanters will pay huge sums for the materials that come from mid-level greens, and in any case way more than a lowbie would pay for the item as it is.

It is interesting to note that Blizzard already has the solution implemented in the game, as a standard part of another profession - Inscription. Because scribes often have to craft lowbie glyphs, Blizzard have made it so that they can trade the highest leveled ink, for any lower leveled ink at a vendor in Dalaran (just as with emblems, but in one vendor instead of six). My question is simple; why can't every profession have this system? Blizzard are acting as if lowbie glyphs are the only worthwhile lowbie items to craft. Sure they might be the most worthwhile items to craft, but every profession have nice lowbie items to offer. In fact, the lowbie market of Enchanting is probably as big as the endgame market, selling Crusaders enchants and the like to leveling players. Fortunately, you only need one enchant on your BoA weapon all the way to 80, so paying 100g for a Crusader Enchant is more of an investment. All the other professions should have a chance at this as well.

It's simple, just make any highbie material "downgradeable" to a lowbie material. Why on earth can't we be able to trade Saronite against Mithril, Lichbloom against Mageroyals and Frostweave against Mageweave? This system is already in use in so many places, Inscription and Emblems as mentioned and Frozen Orbs to other stuff as another example. And in these cases it is there for two reasons - to not make one item completely useless (as with emblems) or to make the abundancy of one item useful for the acquiring of a less abundant item that is still in high demand (as with Inks and Frozen Orbs).

Please Blizzard, save the midlevel crafting market!


  1. Thanks! Yeah me too, since I play alot of chars all "alone" on servers (that is not on the same server as my main), I know what it is like to be poor. I generally price stuff according to what I'd be ready to pay for it on one of those chars.

  2. Well, the "problem" with being nice and selling at affordable prices is that the most likely buyer is an AH-tycoon, snatching it to resell at a later date. But I agree with the post - Blizz leaving the midlevel content of the professions for dead isn't just irresponsible, it's also poor game design :(
    I'm hoping the influx of new characters in Cata will fix the situation temporarily, and after the first wave of new chars the dev's might've found time to actually do something about the issues of lowbie materials being scarce and the markets governed by strange monopolies and cartels.

  3. Hi Becca,

    (I've read about 90% of your wow related posts while bored at work, so I can call you Becca right? Love should not feel to jealous ;))

    I recently leveled my main lvl 80 warrior tank in Blacksmithing and Mining at the same time, and this was I believe the thing to do, you gather the mats, then you craft them, I've only had to spend little money, just for the rare items needed for some intermediate BS articles. I've also frequently been left with a few extra raw materials that I could vendor at a good price. I have earned quite a lot of money from this (several k golds), slow at first, but the more you lvl, the more the items sell for good bucks.

    So my advise to everyone would be, if you ever intend to level a crafting profession, you should most definitely level its gathering companion (mining/blacksmithing or jewelcrafting or engineering, skinning/leatherworking, herbalism/alchemy... at the same time, it's a real money saver.

    I'm now lvling a new prot warrior, as I've moved from the US servers to the EMEA ones, and I'm doing this while questing, and it's even a time saver because you can gather while you quest and it does not feel like such a waste of time as opposed to power leveling and coming back to low lvl zones for hours to farm for copper ores ;)

  4. @Florian
    OMG how do you know my name! Nah just kidding. Of course you can call me Becca, it's a great name after all ;D Yeah I've noticed that you've been working your way through my posts. I'm glad, they deserve better than to be completely forgotten. Although most of them are a little out of date of course... It rarely happens that I get comments on old posts though so I was a little shocked at first ^^